You are mist

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There are only two guarantees in life: 1) we're all going to die one day 2) nothing will stay the same. I know, both are a little morbid but stick with me. Death is scary especially since for many there is uncertainty beyond life here on earth. And we like to pretend that everyone will stay the same, but reality is that the moment that you are experiencing and living in will never recreate itself. Life is always moving, with or without you discretion.

So how do you keep up? Do you live anxiously  , anticipating every future moment, hoping NOT to die? Or do you live lethargically, knowing that life is passing by, reminiscing on the days gone by? 

The answer is neither.

Each day is precious and a gift. The moments you can stop, breath, and appreciate them are moments that carry their weight in gold. It's so important to understand that "Yes!" death is coming, so live today with purpose. Enjoy that friend, talk to your son, pause for that moment. Along with that, know where you are going after you die. If you are not sure ask a believer, what's the hesitation? Knowing what happens after death is one of greatest source of peace one can get. With that, with change always occurring put down your device enjoy the moments around you. Listen, you can take more in when you are not recording, posting, or tagging. Being present is the best way to ensure those moments don't pass. Practically? Do this every once in a while, pause lift your head up and look around. Find a face, smile at that face and ask "How can I show love to that person God has placed in my path?"

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life?

YOU ARE A MIST [emphasis added]

that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

James 4:14

 

What's the story?

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I'll be honest, i've never been much of a reader. I've loathed over having to read books. As a matter a fact, I remember dropping 10th English honors because I did not want to read the summer reading list. A decision I regret to this day. Despite not being much of a reader, I do enjoy and value a good story.

A prominent leader once said that it takes an average person about 10 years worth of experience to write a book. So the way he figured, if he read 1 book a year, he'd be gaining the experience of 10 years with each book. I recently finished a book, that had a lifetime's worth of experience and wisdom. The Imam's Daughter tells the story of a Pakistani Muslim growing up in late 80's to mid 90's England. It tells the story of her terrible struggle through cultural norms as well as personal hardships, that included sexual abuse and torment. Hannah a pseudonym  for the author and teller of the story eventually found faith as she detailed her slow road to recovery. The key to opening that door was Love.

Here's what I walked away with. Never discredit the impact of the simple act of love. At times we might have to love someone implicitely. A simple smile or door holding might do. However, other times, we might have to show love with big motions and waves of acceptance and an outpouring of love. In those times, we must not be afraid to love lavishly. The way God loves us lavishly. May we take the time to understand and hear each other's stories and may we be ready to LOVE greatly, when the opportunity comes.

All in a walk...

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To walk with someone is interesting. Walking is a seamless act that takes certain amount of connectivity to continue. We normally don't walk with people we don't know. We tend to walk with people we do know and  at the same time are more likely to walk with people who have similar destinations. Think about the last time you walked into the mall. Who did you go with? was it your wife, kids, parents... Or we you alone, and happen to walk in with a stranger. Anyhow, walking is something that if done with the right person, reason, and destination can change the trajectory of your life.

Who you walk with, changes who you become.

I think about Enoch in this situation. The Bible mentions Enoch in Genesis 5:24 in quite a simple manner that is beyond powerful. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. What a powerful picture! Enoch walked with God, but he did so FAITHFULLY and because of that his life ended like few in the world since then. He was beamed up with God. Well not necessarily beamed but you know what I mean.

Let's take this into consideration, let's invite God to Walk with us daily, because our every moment depends on it. Because if you walk with God (the right person), with the right reason (His will), and the correct destination (Heaven/His will) in mind, your trajectory will be of the charts!

 

 

 

Divide

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It seems like every where we look, divide is prevalent. Where one stands on "this issue" or "that topic" is the main focus.

I've never really understood the need of denominational divide. Don't get me wrong i understand the need for spiritual structure, organization, accountability and community. However, I have never understood the point of divide. Working with real people, People who do not have a sense of Jesus and his amazing grace; never once asked the denominational background and have believed more because of where my allegiance lay. However, I have found the opposite affect. Many torn and jaded because of denominational banter. Here's what I suggest, we celebrate our theology, but do not allow it to define where where practice our theology. Above all, we are called to believe that Jesus is savior and to make disciples. Last time I checked, divide did not help accomplish either of those realities.

Brake so you don't BREAK!

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It's summer, everyone it seems is on vacation. Everyone it seems is taking a moment away from their routine. All the while, you are wondering, When is my break?, Do I ever get a chance to break away?, If I leave how will I make it? Listen, the reality to take vacation or break is difficult. Most of us live paycheck to paycheck (75% I heard once!) So with that reality many of us cannot afford to take a break. With the stress of bills, providing for our families, the tension has never been greater. There is a real necessity to work. 

However, your body will need a break, whether you plan one or not. Our bodies were created to run, to move, to be used. But without proper maintenance, your body cannot keep up. You will either plan to get away or your body will make you. This happens all to often, when you move forward with pace and eventually get sick. The sickness hits hard because of the lack of rest you've given it. So if you're saying you can't afford to take a break, I would argue that you cannot afford NOT to take a break.

Taking a proper break physically, mentally, emotionally will help you sustain life's trials. It can also build your spiritual strength as well! Jesus took breaks all too often (Luke 5:16) to get away, pray and recharge. We would benefit if we did the same. My push is simple is a world where we are constantly taught to Go, go, go, we would benefit to stop every once in awhile!

5 Ways to ask your child "How was your Day?" and Why it's Important

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    The world is more connected today than it has ever been. We have text messaging, direct messaging, and a phone at our sides at all times. In a time when we are so connected, how can we also feel so disconnected? Fostering connectedness among parents and children can be difficult . Often times, the question “How was your day?” is answered by a quick “good” and parents are left feeling closed off. Here are 5 questions that parents can ask their child instead of “How was your day?” that will foster better communication.

 

  1. What made you smile today? I love this question because we can often focus on the negative aspects of the day. Children can do so also. However, when you ask a child what made them smile you are training them to focus on the positive aspects of the day. Teaching a child to focus on positive aspects can go a long way and carry them all throughout their childhood right into adulthood.

  2. Does everyone have a friend at recess/lunch? What a perfect question to teach a child empathy! Empathy, is an important skill learned in childhood and teaches the ability think about others feelings. If a child can grasp this concept early in life, their ability to remain empathetic in the future is more likely. Even if this question is asked and an appropriate answer is not given, the child will be more likely to think about this concept at his/her next recess or lunch break. We don’t want to burden children to being friends with everyone, but helping children be aware of such feelings is important.

  3. Did you tell anyone thank you? An ungrateful soul is difficult to navigate. We have all been at that place where we are trying our best to serve, only to be met with a disgruntled look or an absence of acknowledgement. How rude! Challenging your child to think about times when they are actively using “thank you” goes a long way and breeds kindness in the world. Teaching this kindness and gratitude should be goals for every parent.

  4. What inspired you today? We are all created to be dreamers and explorers. You don’t have to teach a child to be curious they just naturally are! Asking a child about their “inspirations” can help groom growth. It’s important as parents to find and listen to what inspires their children so that they can continue to fan their child’s flame. Do you know what inspires your child? Find out today!

  5. What are you looking forward to tomorrow? Forward thinking, moving forward and thinking ahead; these are essential for the tomorrow’s leaders. When fostering communication with your child, asking about tomorrow is important. It teaches them to think ahead, this helps develop critical thinking skills. Additionally, asking about tomorrow helps them remain hopeful. In life, one of the hardest things to overcome is hopelessness. Even on bad days, a child can learn to remain hopeful, if they focus on tomorrow. We can’t rid our children of terrible days, but we can teach them to look forward if we keep this onward focused!

 

These are just a few ways we can steer from closed ended questions and foster great communication with your children. Do you have others that you like to use? Please feel free to share in the comments below. Communication is more than just talking, it’s asking the right questions to help the speaker feel understood!

Restore

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There are a few things that get me more excited than a good "resto-mod." What's a resto-mod? A resto-mod is a where a mechanic/car enthusiast takes an older bodied car and transplants a newer motor in the vehicle. Resto-mods can also sport upgraded braking systems, sounds systems, as well as other modern luxuries. Thus giving it a new feel with the classic exterior. Excuse me as I geek out; I once ran across a blue 1976 Celica GT sedan with a Nissan SR20DET. The set up was simple and captivating. A classic-timeless exterior, with a new motor; thus new life gives way. The chirp of the blow off valve was exhilarating, the color was captivating and the car just breathed new life.

In the same light, this is how our spiritual lives are. When we enter life and the years get tacked on, Jesus gives us restoration. He gives a new motor, fresh brakes, an upgraded sound system.He gives new strength, new power and sends us down roads we would have never imagined. For some of us, we've gotten a hint of the upgrade years ago, but have long since forgotten the aftermarket part, we just take it for granted. "it's stock in our minds." However, we must not forget that where those parts come from, there are plentiful upgrades and infinite tuning.

Jesus does not want to leave us stock, he wants to restore us and upgrade us. Not only that, but he wants to send us on journeys and adventures we never would have made on our own.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
 

 

5 Ways to discover community

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We were created to not be alone, but with others. John Donne coins this need No Man is an Island. If such is true then how do with engage in community? How do we find the time. In the midst of diapers, careers, family, it's essential that we find time to engage in community. These are some tips on how to accomplish such.

1. Talk to your neighbors. Let's be honest it's easier to quickly open your garage door and zoom in and close it behind you. It's easier to check your mail later on when you are less likely to have that run in and stare off with your neighbors. But communities are built around neighborhoods. It's a far stretch from the Wonder Years, but it's important to talk to you neighbors and invest time with them. If you can sacrifice 5 minutes of your time to be that light in your neighborhood, you'll find that you'll feel more connected and less alone. Who knows, then on those days when you DO need someone to talk to, they might just be the one to listen.

2. Disconnect with plastic communities. There is nothing worse than artificial ingredients and cheap imitations. Expectations are high and realities are low. Plastic communities are virtual social media based communities that exist only virtually. One might have 1,000 friends on social media, but ZERO present when they need to move. I always say, if you want to know who your true friends are, wait until you have to move, who would you call? These true relationships are embedded in community. If you spend less time on social media and more time being social, you will have invested in a more plausible sustainable source. real community.

3. Be kind. If you want to discover community, it starts with being kind, and being kind starts with asking yourself, "Why am I NOT kind?" at times. Take a serious inward journey to ask yourselves why unkindness lingers and you can start to unlock the secret to kindness. Listen, we all need kindness, it doesn't matter if you are the busiest person in the world, kindness can not only help one discover community, but it breaks barriers. My mother used to always say, "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all."

4. Take a step of Faith. Spirituality is huge! It gives us hope! In all those headlines of articles that no one actually reads, is a subplot of disparity. The sky seems to be falling! Where does hope come from? It can can from spiritual communities. Spiritual vs. religious let's make the distinction. Spiritual communities cut to the chase and is about connection to a source. Religious is well: religion. If you haven't been able to find community, can you start with spirituality first?

5. Stop being so picky. We all have preferences and choices. With a plethora of options everywhere we look: venti, small, 2-days shipping..etc it's easy to be picky with community to. Community can happen anywhere, sometimes it's right in front of you and you don't even realize it. So if you are looking for community, what's that community that is most accessible? Sure we would like rub elbows with the rich and famous, and some of us might? BUT more so which communities lie right under are noses that be apart of continually and today?

Let's challenge ourselves to be people of community. Because when we spend time with one another, eat together, share our stories we realize that we're more alike than we are different!

Have any more tips? Please feel free to add them in the comments below.

Perpendicular Faith

Podcasts, I love them. I just finished an episode that made me pause and think. The story was about two individuals who crossed paths and neither were ever the same again. When there paths crossed it left one almost dead and the other traumatized for life, then for many years they never saw one another again. Like two lines perpendicular, they have a meeting point then just as quickly as the two lines meet they travel in the opposite direction.

I was thinking, isn't this the same way we treat Jesus sometimes, for many of we go throughout life on our merry way, then if were lucky collide with Jesus. From there though, many of us acknowledge that our lives are different, but reality is we travel 100 MPH in the opposite direction farther and father away from Christ.

My hope is this. I hope that instead of a perpendicular faith, we can have a faith that meets at a point and joins in a journey with the other...

From Generation to Generation

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One of my first jobs a therapist was doing in-home mental health therapy. Upon a few visits with patients in the office, because of transportation or access to care, we'd make a transition to home visits. Every time this move happened I always found it astounding how many questions this answered. A person's environment, home life, and normalcy explains a lot about a person.

In the same way, I've found it important to take inventory on my own experiences and how they affect me. What I often see how generations communicate, it tells a lot. Most times we do not take enough time, to study communication and relational patterns and that in turn gets passed on from generation to generation. However, if we are redeemed and set free the reality of our faith should be freeing also. We should now look to God our perfect father and Jesus his Savior Son to dictate our communication pattern and hopefully shape our families for generations to come. Because generations after us depend on it.

Have you allowed how you were brought up to dictate your household now? Are you shaping your child's normalcy to change their child's normalcy?