“No Rules”

Sunday was a good day.  <insert appropiate emoticon here>

I finally feel like I found a church where I could be myself.  And if you know me, this is an extremely important component of my life.

I’ll say it again.  Sunday was a good day. <insert two happy emoticons here>

Fast forward two hours.  Friends gathered at my condo for lunch and I unexpectedly joked with one of the kids of a mom I had invited.

He had asked if he could have ice cream prior to finishing his lunch.  And I quickly and unexpectedly responded, “Sure because it’s a no rules day!”

Fast forward 1 hour.  The brother and sister duo continued to eat every snack item and drink I had in the house.

The list kept growing as did the sight of a growing stomach ache that was instigated by 10 popsicles, 2 cookies, 3 cans of soda and a bag of Skittles.  I didn’t think kids could actually bounce off the walls but [trust me] it’s possible.

[We will come back to this later]

In twenty-four hours, it will mark 5 months of me living in West Palm Beach.  But even more historic, it will mark 8 years of living in Florida and making that bold decision to challenge my future and calling in life forever.

It has been a crazy ride so far.  I have built some great relationships through my [first] local church. I have participated in some great mission work in Jacksonville and beyond.  And I have grown immensely in my relationship with God in that time.

[Now let's combine the two;)]

Kids are innocent at heart.  But seeing them make decisions recklessly without truly knowing the consequence can provide insight and even provide leverage into how we make decisions as adults.

I would like to think 8 years ago, I made a “reckless” decision to move to Jacksonville without thinking about the rules.  And the consequences had it not worked.  But just like the kids, I didn’t care.  Because I look back [today] and can confidently say it was the best decision I ever made.  Stomache ache or not.

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Faith Beyond a $15 Gift Card

I love a good restaurant gift card.  Completely FREE.  Completely up to me.  No strings attached.  It’s between me and the food.  It gives me the courage to order whatever I want.

As I was sitting in the restaurant booth at the Chili’s near my house, I was looking over the menu fighting the urge to order one of everything on the menu.  The appetizer.  No, the flat bread pizza.  Maybe the chili and salad.  Or the steak and potatoes.  I had the ability to order ANYTHING I wanted; it was great!  Truth be told, I only had $15 on a gift card BUT my eyes were on a feast for a few versus a small lunch for one.

After looking over the menu, I finally decided what to order.  I placed the order, enjoyed my lunch and waited for the bill.  After my gift card was applied, I owed a measly $2 plus tip.  Not bad for a nice lunch!

Have you ever been so gung-ho about something that you forgot about the limitations of your situation, i.e. your eyes were focused on the feast?  It happens to me everyday but I’m constantly stuck within the limits of my finances.  The limits of my own understanding.  The limits of a $15 gift card.

The Bible says, ”

“Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.” (Matthew 17:20 MSG)

The truth is we are not confined to our understanding.  We are not limited to our own finances.  We are not limited to a $15 gift card.  We are only limited to what we say we are limited.

For the last 10 months, I have been working hard (and I mean hard) on a “project” that will not only help push me to new levels in my personal life but in my career as well.   And, in the last 45 days, I have been casting vision for the next 7 years of my life.  It’s nothing short of exciting.

Faith is not about the ability to stand up for yourself; it’s about having the courage to push all of life’s baggage aside and rise above it and have that “order everything on the menu” courage and not look back.

Like the scripture says, “…you would tell this mountain, Move! and it would move.” — I have told my situation to “move” and it has in big ways.  Don’t lose faith now.  Order what you want from the menu.  And don’t look back.

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Apple Pie and Chicken Dinners

The house smelled absolutely amazing. An apple pie sat in the oven baking almost ready for devouring. As I walked in I could smell the spices and crust as it was almost ready. It was one of those moments that took you back to your childhood and yet I was a child. Everything was just aligned with the stars. The pie made everything good.

And then she said four words that sounded like a train wreck in a snow storm, “It’s not for you.” Much to my surprise, I immediately responded with, “why?”. The pie was strictly props and she knew exactly what she was doing. Later, I would be impressed but at the moment I wanted that pie.

I had little to no idea of what Grandma was doing to impress upon the family that would soon buy her house on Stricker. After drooling over the pie through that little window of the oven for a few minutes, she told me to follow her upstairs to show me what she had done. Upon reaching the top of the stairs, we entered the first of three bedrooms. I was overwhelmed by fresh linens on the bed, enough toys to make a small child happy for a long time and a little lamp glowing on the night stand.

I can recall asking Grandma why she had done all of this. She then said, “c’mon”. And we walked thru the next bedroom and found the same setup with fresh linens, slightly used yet shiny toys and the lamp. And the next bedroom had small dolls with their hair combed nice, fresh quilts and yet another lamp glowing on the night stand. And I said once again, “Who is this for?” She said it was for the family that was visiting that evening and soon after buy her house.

I asked her why she was so confident that they would buy her house that night. I remember her response like she said it yesterday. She said, “they would be silly not to.” She knew the family had loved the home so much [from their first visit] that she could convince them by making it feel like home. The apple pie was to speak welcome. The fresh linens and toys on the bed were to help bring comfort to the children which were two twin boys and a little girl.

Grandma used thirty year old linens, old toys an apple pie to sell her house that night. The pastor asked me during a meeting at the funeral home whether that family had bought the home that evening. I laughed and responded with the simple word, “absolutely”. She met the family where they were at and catered to their immediate needs. And that is what I love about Grandma. She met you where you were at with what she could give at that moment and did it with such grace.

Meeting people at their level is one of the most fun things I enjoy doing. It brings me a sense of unexplainable joy to be able to bless someone knowing it is going to hit their mark. While sitting with Grandma’s friend Mary the night following Grandma’s funeral service, she was struggling to fake the fact her dinner was anything close to good. She tried her best but ended saying she must have gotten the wrong end of the chicken. And that here chocolate cake was far from delicious as well.

So, I made a phone call after having thought about it for a few days. And it was done. I made arrangements for a special delivery on Christmas morning of a delicious chicken dinner and chocolate cupcakes for Ms. Mary. It was one of the most touching experiences I had orchestrated in some time. And Ms. Mary was so excited because I had remembered her crummy chicken dinner the week prior enough to have one sent a better rendition to her from the nearby grocery store. And it made an impact from what I heard.

Meeting people where they are at does not require a degree in rocket science. It simply requires you to listen to those around you and react to them in the simplest manner you know. A lot of my responses have not required any money or physical items. Just last month, I sporadically decided to gather every cart from my grocery store parking lot and had brought them to the front door on Thanksgiving Eve. It is simple, listen well and react confidently. It will go a long way.

And to not keep you on your seats, I never got any pie. Sad ending I know. I’m sorry.

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Embracing Change.

The cold air hit me like a ton of bricks. It was one of those times where I am certain I would have liked to see the look on my face as I reacted to what had just happened. It was warm one day and cold the next. The weather in Florida is great but it can change from one extreme to another without warning. The scorching sun will be shining one moment and the sky can be filled with storm clouds and raining the next.

Most of my friends look forward to the winter in Jacksonville. They take refuge in knowing they will have a short window of cooler temperatures before the hot summer repeats itself once again. I am not against the cooler temperatures in the winter rather the rate of how fast it changes during this transition from one season to the next. It gets me every year without doubt.

I can confidently attest that I am not the biggest advocate when it comes to change. Heck I would argue nobody really likes change. But what I have learned is that change is inevitable and if you embrace it, you will grow.

Change requires us to adapt. Change requires us to make a choice. And change requires us to grow. Change is a positive thing even if outside of our control. Soon after my grandmother’s passing, I made the decision that I would deal with the change directly rather than bury it deep inside like I had my dad. Even though it was an unfortunate occurrence, I have come to the realization this will make me stronger.

Strength does not grow itself. Strength comes from trials. It is grown from challenging times. The truth is I sorely miss my Grandma, Twice now, I have picked up the phone to call her and tell her a funny story or see how she was feeling. It was painful but knowing what she went through to get where she was in her life is motivation enough to see through this trial of losing her from mine.

Too many times, we wait till the last minute to adapt to the changes occuring in our own lives. We wait till that defining moment to make the shift from one scenario to another. Although it is never too late to make the shift, the longer we wait causes more agony and pain to both ourselves and the people directly involved with the change.

As I sat their with Grandma in her last few hours of life, I told her stories. I told her about what was new at church. I told her about new projects I was starting at work. I knew change was coming. And I did my best to adapt to the sitation as I knew fit. I went with it.

Nothing can prepare us for the gradual or abrupt changes in our lives. Whether we are expecting them or they hit us like a ton of bricks, we have a choice. I have learned when change is at my doorstep, I embrace it rather than avoid it. Embracing change can allow for a sense of comfort. And it can also allow for a time of closure and transition from one season to the next.

I can vaguely recall the first few days and weeks of living in Florida. I was struggling to embrace change. I knew there was purpose in my moving, but it did not give me comfort. From that season change, I learned comfort was not an immediate result of embracing the change rather a by-product of it. In other words, the comfort came later, and in my case, much later. You hve to be willing to walk through the change before you can grow.

Losing my grandmother has been tough. Since the passing, I have had good days and then days where I feel like I am walking in a fog. But I am confident that I will see comfort in this change of season because I have seen what can come if you just accept the change.

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Didn’t We Have a Good Time?

Much has happened since arriving in Detroit almost one week ago.  The feelings of happiness, sadness, and joy were all waiting for me as I touched down late Tuesday night.  I thought I was prepared for the emotions that were soon to follow.  But soon after arriving at her bedside, I came to the realization that I was not nearly as prepared for my Grandma’s passing as I had anticipated.

After leaving the funeral home tonight following her service, I took the remaining flowers to the hospice where my grandmother had spent the last month of her life.  I wanted to know so much.  The funeral service had met my expectations but I felt there was more to be revealed.  I decided to spend a few minutes with one of Grandma’s friends across the hall.  The timing could not have been more perfect as she was eating dinner in the common area.  I began to ask her about Grandma.  I asked her if she could share any stories.  I even asked her what best described Grandma in the short time she knew her.

I resisted the urge of having good manners and sat right down beside Ms. Mary.  A short exchange of words turned into a full conversation and few minutes soon turned into almost an hour of listening to what this woman had known of Grandma.  And the next thing you know, nurses and medical assistants began gathering around the dinner table sharing stories, telling me about Grandma and what she meant to them.  The idea that she had impacted lives even into the most trying time in her life had blown my mind.

Mary shared a specific story and said from that point on, as she said it, “We became instant friends.”  And without stalling or any hesitation, she described her as “conscientious”.  Before I could turn around in time, the nurse spoke of structure and confidence in everything about Grandma.  In pain and suffering, Grandma still showed true to whom she was and demonstrated strength enough to make a strong impression on these hospice care providers.  I was in awe.

Over the last few days leading up to her passing, I have found myself writing about stories, emotions and other memories at her bedside.  I may feel led to share these over time and I may keep them close, but regardless, what I know is that I wanted to know everything I could leading up to this most defining moment in her life.  She had shared so experienced so much in 82 years but I wanted to capture her lasting days because I truly felt there was something to take away to learn.

Many look at death as a somber experience.  And I would be lying if I said it was not painful or a sad time for me or the rest of my family, but what I most remember her for is not the pain and suffering but for what she meant to others and how she influenced others even into the toughest days of her life.  And tonight I learned this firsthand.

Talking with Mary meant closure.  It allowed me to have experienced the influence she had over the people that were there with her in the last few weeks of her life.  That to me is powerful.  I gave Mary and her nurse a hug and thanked them for all they had done to make her feel welcome because I know that is what she would have wanted.

I am moved by her drive to make such an impact on Mary, the nurses and medical assistants even though she was suffering.  I assumed Mary was one of the only ones (other than family) my Grandma had confided in during her last days but I should have known better.  Grandma always had more up her sleeve than we all thought.  And I am honored to have had the opportunity to realize this tonight.

After her passing, I asked to be alone with Grandma.  And in less than two minutes, I put my hand on hers and said, “Didn’t we have a good time?”  It has been an honor to know a woman of integrity, character and most of all, strength.  I will never lose the wisdom she has instilled in me.  And I would not be the person I am today without her.

Thank you “Granny”.  You are one crazy lady.

(Thank you all for your prayers and support. I would appreciate all comments of “thoughts and prayers” be held back for now till I see or talk to you.  No hard feelings.  It has just been a challenge to post this as is.  Hope that’s cool.)

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I Hate Pickles

A college professor repeatedly told me, “Nathan, you never know when you’re going to get hit by a pickle truck.” At the time, I was participating in a college project of which I had control over much of the finances, decisions and important documents. Upon taking the project work home with me as I used to do, he would always strongly urge me to leave it at school as I might get hit by a “pickle truck” on the short commute back to my college apartment. His point… that the documents would be lost in existence somewhere between school and the five minute drive home.

I tell this story because we should always be prepared for the pickle trucks in our lives. I always thought he was going crazy and wondered if pickle trucks truly existed even to this day. After doing some research, I have learned that there are thousands of varieties of pickles in our worldy cuisine today. Some are sweet. Some are sour. And some are even spicy. But as I began reading more, I learned more about pickles than I ever wanted to know.

Did you know… that it takes a minumum of 24 hours for a cucumber to become a pickle? And, the longer you leave a pickle to “pickle”, the more sour it actually becomes. And finally, the most random ingredients are used to make the most delicious pickles. Ingredients such as vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, mustard seed, tumeric and celery seed are used and are intentional for the end product – the desired pickle.

Why all this talk about pickles? Well, we can relate much of our life and trials to that of a pickle. Trials come in different varieties and shapes and sizes. And if pickle trucks really existed, we would surely be caught off guard if hit by one similar to how we are occasionally caught off guard by various trials in our lives.

Follow me here.

Sometimes trials require us to go through a process in order to reach a final product (or result).
We have to be willing to submit our authority to God first and foremost. From experience, I can attest to being discouraged by people who tell me to remain patient and obedient to God. Sometimes, it’s the single most difficult thing we can endure as a Christian. Sometimes I simply want to smack that person after they say that to me (just being honest). But the goal is not to endure the trial itself but endure God and knowing he is in control in the midst of your chaos. We could very easily remove the lid 2 hours into the process but the pickle would be still be hard and bitter. It takes on its flavor and “character” if you will when it has time to pickle and sit patiently in the ingredients it has been placed into to reach that particular flavor and final taste. There you go – intentional.

The longer you leave the pickle to “pickle”… the more sour your pickle will be!
Straight and to the point. The longer you leave a pickle to pickle, the more sour it WILL become. I capitalized the word “will” because it has been proven over the last hundred years. And like our trials, the longer we sit in our own pride and stubborness, the more sour we WILL become. Surround yourself with friends that will pray over you, encourage you and challenge you to not get caught in the rut but to rise up and get out of that rut and seek out to that final outcome.

Choose your ingredients wisely for they are NOT random but intentional.
What ingredients are you placing yourself in when going through a trial? Are you posting it on Facebook for the whole world to see? Are you going through your entire phone book and sending a mass text and hoping to feel pity over your situation by the very responses you receive in return? Just like a pickle, it requires specific ingredients to reach a desired taste and outcome. Similary, why would you just go and dump a bunch of additional ingredients in the jar knowing it would ruin the finished product anyway. Case in point, be selective with who you include and who you share your trials and challenges with in these seasons. It WILL determine your finished product — what you take-away, how much dominion you give the enemy and the ability for God to speak to you. There are a wide array of people in your life right now as we speak that have been intentionally placed to speak over your specific situations. It’s not a game, seek the people out. And request their commitment. If I have gotten good at one thing, it is this. Knowing who and how involved that person will be involved in my business. It WILL determine the outcome of your product. Guaranteed.

A close friend of mine shared this crucial point with me last night, “The devil has control over our past through the use of fear and our future by way of worry. This is why we should only focus on the present by way of our faith. It’s all we’ve got to survive in a broken world.” The truth is we WILL all go through trials in our lives. It’s not a matter of if rather a matter of when. Like there are many variety of pickles, there are a vast array of trials in life. Some are small and some are big. Some will take a little more faith to overcome and others will blow over quickly. The trick is not just to simply “focus on God” but to be intentional with how you focus on God. Think about the ingredients. Think about the timing. And focus on the present by faith. The more you dwell on the past and the future… the bigger chance you will be blind-sided by a pickle truck and wonder what happen.

Ride the process out. Choose your ingredients. Take action in the present. And avoid the pickle truck.

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Tell a Story…

Almost six years ago, I made the biggest step of faith most dream about accomplishing in their lifetime.  I finished college, quit my full-time job with Chrysler and sacrificed what I had for what I wanted to become.  I am proud of myself for realizing that in that instance I had to make a move and I took it.

Stories are always fun to tell especially when it is about something you enjoy.  And I love to tell stories.  I love it even more when I can make people laugh in the process.  I have told the story of my move to Florida so many times that I actually took the time to type it out on paper.  I cannot tell you how many times I have emailed it to friends, family and even strangers to be encouraged by my story.

Stories are so important.  If a story is told with detail and accuracy, you can almost imagine yourself in that place and time.  Stories can also add value to your audience and build trust with those listening to what you have to say.

Over the last couple of years, I have been entrusted with a handful of responsibilities that have really shaped me into the person I am today.  I have realized that I have held much of the “meat” of what God is really doing through my life to myself and it’s time I start telling that story.

I have been a youth leader for going on three years.  It’s hard to believe.  I have learned that the most important thing I have demonstrated in my life toward these young guys is not my relationship with God but the realness of my life and what God has done in it.  I despise sugar-coating things.  I would much rather tell a story about how it is.  I have built more relationships with guys at my church by just being real with them about my life because it in turn puts them in that place and time and hopefully gives them something to think about with their own life.

When you tell a story, make it worth the your audience’ time.  Be real when it’s necessary.  Be straightforward.  It might be just what they needed to hear.  For me, I have held stories back of what God is doing in my life.  And yesterday, I shared a part of it.  And I couldn’t help but feel good because it was just what that person needed to hear.

Tell a story.  Be confident about what you have been asked to do.  There are always people who are ready to hear your story.  All you need to do is tell it.

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Be Intentional not Unrealistic.

Eight percent of individuals will successfully meet or exceed their New Year’s resolution at the end of 2012 — eight percent!  Of those resolutions, the top four related to money, weight (exercise), self improvement/education and relationships.  And those in their twenties had a higher success rate of meeting their goal (39%) while those over the age of fifty were not as successful (<15%).  (Steve Shapiro, online)

I was never a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions.  I believe the reason people want to change is based on what others around them determine important.  Exercise and wealth is important (don’t get me wrong) but you should be focused on these things each and every day as part of your routine versus a big push once a year.  People don’t realize the stress and rejection that can come from failing to reach a goal.  And furthermore, most of what people are looking to change doesn’t really need to be changed.  Instead of attemtping to lose weight, try gaining confidence that you are pretty just the way you were created.  Instead of increasing your wealth, try decreasing your need for materialistic things in life.  The need to want to change stems from some other desire in your life.  The challenge is looking to that source first before setting any huge goals you know are unrealistic in the first place.

A friend encouraged (through facebook) that instead of choosing “resolutions” this year, go with “the 3 words”.  The idea is to choose 3 words that are important to you in 2012.  These words will act as pillars in order to help you grow over the course of the year.  I plan on “filtering” all major decisions and any change in my life through 1 or more of these “words”.  I believe my words will act as boundaries in my decisions and help guide me and grow me in 2012.  Think of it as a checks and balance system for yourself.

My first word is SELF.  I am constantly serving others.  My cousin was in town this past week and while she was getting ready, I quickly ran across the street to take my neighbor leftovers from the previous night as I usually do once or twice a week.  After returning home, I had realized that I was still half asleep and not awake yet I had served someone only after being awake for less than ten minutes.  I’m not saying I am going to stop serving others, but I am going to focus on myself.  I love photography.  I may get back into that.  I love to cook.  Perhaps I will cook even more or learn new ones.  Not to sound cynical or self-centered, but I am going to prioritize and set time aside for me that will only benefit me and no one else.  It sounds easy to some but it is actually one of my biggest obstacles in life.

My second word is SERVE.  Not to worry, I will still continue to serve my youth boys and the young men I serve alongside in young adult service, but I am going to be intentional with new relationships and the amount of time I am spending with the ones I already have.  People have to have a desire to change and I will spend a majority of my time with the ones that do.  And just recently as a success of “the 3 words” I decided to step down this semester from leading a small group with the youth.  I have been dealing with real problems in the last two years such as drug abuse, suicide and depression.  Instead, I plan to focus on equipping myself with the tools to help these kids.  The decision came from realizing that I simply cannot help these young guys break away from destructive cycles if I continue to do the same thing I do day in and day out.  Something has to change.  Which brings me to my next word.

My third word is CHANGE.  Plain and simple.  Some of the things I do right now are just not working.  My goal is to filter decisions through this “word” and ask myself, “Is this a good change?”  The change does not have to mean better.  It simply has to be an imporovement from what I was doing before.  It’s just that easy.

In my eyes, resolutions are extremely specific while “the 3 words” are general enough they will trickle down into many areas of your life versus just one.  My hope is you will be encouraged to consider doing the same.  It’s not to late.  Even in the last two weeks, the rewards have been extremely motivating in my life.  Set a realistic goal that has measurable results.  Decide a tangible goal that can only be related to none other than yourself (or God)!  I will be part of the 8%.  Will you?

Inspiration from Alex Tran and http://www.chrisbrogan.com/my-3-words-for-2011/

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Fish Tank Mentality…

Over the last few months, I have been researching what fish I can and cannot put in my new saltwater fish tank. I’m learning the combination of fish I can house together in one tank and what fish are not recommended for my tank. I’m learning what kind of food these fish like and whether they are aggressive or peaceful fish. I’m even learning whether they prefer a cave to hide or whether they are curious swimmers. To say the least, I’m having to re-learn a lot since my last two tanks.

The common denominator. I need a bigger tank. But to have a bigger tank. I need more money. The reality of the story is I’m going to stick with the tank I have but I’m limited to what types of species of fishes I can house and the quantity of fish I can have. It’s almost frustrating lately because I want a juvenile tang fish because they are beautiful and conversation pieces. Follow me on this as the type of fish is not important. But the key here to realize is this fish will grow bigger and soon outgrow my tank. And this type of fish enjoys bigger tanks because it is known for swimming 3-4 miles a day in a given tank.

So, let’s recap. I have a small tank. And I want a big fish. Got it? Good. I have added four fish already but the last two are key as they must get along with the fish I already have. If I get a giant fish, he will not get along with the rest of the fish. And he will not have a good life since he requires a bigger tank for swimming and quality of life.

What is the solution? I could get a bigger tank. But again, it would cost more money. A lot more money. And here’s where the lesson comes in. How many times do we stay dormant in a given situation. How many times do we wait and pray that God will move us into a new opportunity when we still want to hang on to the “smaller tank”. God is saying buy a new fish tank. Go bigger. It may take a little extra money but take a step and believe in God.

I plead guilty daily to this and assume I’m waiting on God when God is waiting for me. I have fought myself and tried fooling myself into getting this tang fish to think it was what was best for me but NOT what was best for the fish. Funny how this relates to our relationship with us and God. We constantly stick with the smaller fish tank in our lives and try to shove a bunch of “big fish” into a tank that is really not set up to accommodate these sizes of fish. Essentially and unfortunately, we do it anyway and do it only based on our own convenience and not on what God really wants or is calling us to do.

My suggestion. Upgrade to a bigger tank. Don’t have the money. Save. Sacrifice. Don’t have the accountability. Get an accountability buddy who will call you out on those things. Don’t have the time. Find it somewhere. Budget your time just like your money. It’s there. And my final suggestion. STOP trying to shove a big fish into a small tank only to please yourself and not God!

God wants to give you a “beautiful fish” in your life. He wants to bless you with an opportunity you can talk about with others each day everyday. He wants you to enjoy your gift and calling only to bless others. To get the bigger and more beautiful fish we have to get a bigger tank. What is the “bigger tank” in your life? Whatever it is. Go after it. Sacrifice if you have to. Go do it. And stop being careless with what God has called you to be.

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Not Good Enough.

All your life you are told the things you cannot do.  All your life they will say you’re not good enough or strong enough or talented enough, they’ll say you’re the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this.  They will tell you no.  A thousand times no until all the no’s become meaningless.  All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly.  They will tell you no.  And you will tell them yes. – Nike Advertisement

I started reading this “advertisement” aloud to my middle school boys during small group.  I opened with this.  And closed with the fact they are important to God.  And to me.  What they cannot do or look like, they are always sufficient in God’s image.

I have faced several instances in my own life where I can remember not having the knowledge, ability or strength to accomplish or take part in certain things.  Today, I can safely tell my boys that it’s okay.  I encourage them to focus on what they can do and follow God’s purpose through their current abilities, talents and gifts.  And when you do that, life becomes fun.  Neale Donald Walsch once said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  Once we stop focusing our efforts on what other people tell us we need to be and start to focus on what God is asking us to be does life begins to start for real.

After three weeks of meeting and working through various exercises, my boys have started to create a “life map” that lists things such as their spiritual gifts, talents and values to their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats all the way down to healthy and unhealthy relationships, their use of time and their motives.  It’s overwhelming and unclear to them at times but it’s my job to plant a seed and God’s job to grow it.

I pray you focus on what God is trying to lead you to do versus what “they” are trying to tell you to be.  It’s a much easier time and even more enjoyable when God is in control of the wheel than some friend you hardly know.    Tell them you can do it.  Tell them yes!

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