I haven't posted here in nearly a year. I guess that's how life has been this past year.

Things have been quite hectic since March. A new job, kids in band, Ethan in middle school and tons of other responsibilities. Amazing how time can get away from you. Seems like yesterday was March and now it's the end of 2013. I've been heads down and covered up for nearly 9 months.

Photography has become more and more of something I enjoy. I had my first official photo shoot in late 2013 and hope to do more of that this year.

Regarding the blog, I renewed the domain. Not sure what I'm going to do now. I miss writing and sharing and discussing. But is a blog still the platform for that? I really don't know. With platforms such as Google+, FB, Instagram and such, maybe the blog's time has come and gone. Time will tell I guess.

So, all that to say, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the blog going forward. If I keep it, I'll be changing the look and feel because the theme I'm using has been discontinued and is no longer supported. For data security, I'll need to move to a supported theme. (if anyone has suggestions let me know).

In a nutshell, pray for our family as we try to keep our heads above water!

Last week I started a new journey in my life. Not only did I start a new job, but I started a new industry. After 17 years in telecommunications and telecom software, I am getting started in a completely new industry. It's exciting and, at times, somewhat overwhelming. There are two things I am keeping in mind these days:

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao-tzu – Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

I need to take it one day at a time. And I can take each step, each struggle and each day without fear:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NLT)

Here we go.

God blesses

Today I end one chapter of my life and get ready to start a new one. This is my last day with my current employer. Next week I will start a new chapter.  Although I am ready for a change, this one is quite bittersweet in that I will be leaving great friends and an industry I have worked in for 16 years.

These types of changes always cause me to stop and reflect a little on things. Looking back over the years, I see how God has constantly provided for my family. As a man, that is a realization that I had to come to several years ago. God provides for me and my family. It's not me. He chooses to use me to do so. While we have had our share of struggles, He has always provided what we needed when we needed it.

Looking back too, I also realize what a mess I have tried to make of things. That makes me so much more thankful for God's grace. All this thinking led to the statement you see above:

"I'm amazed how God blesses…..despite all my messes."

 

The Gospel really cannot be stated any clearer. Thanks Mr. Robertson.

08282012 - Rain

It's raining this morning.

Like you, when I get up and look out and it's raining, I sort of dread the day. It's going to be cold. It's dreary. Oh, how I want to go back to bed. (There's nothing like sleep on a cold, rainy morning :) )

Our lives can be that way too. We look out on what we are facing for the day and like the cold, pouring rain, the burderns of the day quench the fire in our bellies. The list of burdens seems unending:

  • Strained marriages
  • Broken relationships with children
  • Loneliness
  • Health worries
  • Addictions
  • Depression
  • Shattered dreams
  • Failed career moves

Paul shares a promise we need to hear when he wrote his second letter to the Corinthians. He was telling them of his own struggles. He states quite plainly that to keep him from becoming proud of who he was and his accomplishments, he was given a "thorn in the flesh". Now, we don't know what this "thorn" was but we do know that he asked God to be freed from it. In fact, he writes that he begged God to take it away from him on three different ocassions. God did not take it away. Paul shares with us what God's response was:

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

- 2 Corinthians 12:9

The first sentence is the most important. "My grace is all you need."

I started following Jason Salamun several years ago on Twitter. He shared a post with a phrase that I have loved since I first read it because it is so true.

When grace falls like rain, it's the valleys that fill first.

If you are walking through one of the valleys of life today, ask God to rain down His grace.

Dreams, aspirations, career goals….most of us have them. But do we have things in order? Are our priorities right?

I don't remember where I first heard this phrase, but it has stuck with me throughout my career.

"Live your life based on who's going to be crying at your funeral."

Funeral

Quick observation: That list will probably not include your boss, your mortgage broker, your loan officer, or the "Jones'es" – you know, that family you are always trying to keep up with?

Now, I'm not saying that we should shirk our responsibilities at all. We must have a place to live, food to eat and a way to get to work. But, have we blurred the line between needs and wants a little too much?

What I am asking is, "Where are your priorities?"

One of my favorite humorists of all time is Will Rogers. He was born in the late 1800's and his simple wit and wisdom captured the hearts of many. Some of his statements carry so much wisdom in their simplicity. 

That is the case with the one below.

Everybody - Will Rogers

"Everybody is ignorant. Only on different subjects." – Will Rogers

I see this as a statement of humility; recognizing the limitations we all have. While we may be knowledgeable, even an expert, on one topic, we may be completely ignorant of another. While I do rather well with technology, I do NOT do well at all when it comes to cooking. But, that is an area where my wife shines.

Recognizing our limitations is not a bad thing. In fact, I believe it should be considered a strength. Knowing and admitting where we need help gives us the freedom to seek out somebody more knowledgeable or skilled so that the project/job/meal is done correctly.

There is a Japanese proverb which Mr. Rogers may have agreed with that carries much the same sentiment:

None of us is as smart as all of us.

As you consider those around you this week, look for where they shine not where they are ignorant. Because where they shine, YOU might be ignorant. As much as some of us may hate to admit it, we aren't "all that" on many of the topics we wish we were.

I grew up Southern Baptist. I now attend a Community church which is still affiliated with the Southern Baptist denomination. Lent is not something we ever really observed in all the churches I attended (or even now).

However, in the last few years, I have started giving up something during the Lenten season as a part of the lead up to Easter. Doing without something you normally enjoy during Lent does make you stop and think each time you start to crave that thing you gave up.

Simple question for you, to Lent or not to Lent?  Do you observe it? If so, why? If not, why not?

 

I'm a worrier.

My wife can attest to that.

Sometimes God speaks to you from some of the unlikeliest sources. That happened to me recently. I read a quote from 50 Cent in an interview he had with Oprah.

Prayorworry

He added to that statement by saying something to the effect of, "If you're gonna say a prayer and then worry about it, then what is God going to think of you?"  Regardless of what you think of 50 Cent, there's so much truth in that.

I admit, I do both. Pray then worry anyway.

I need to stop that.

 

While running Sunday afternoon, I was listening to Garth Brooks and one of my favorite songs came on – Unanswered Prayers.

Prayer is very personal. Listen how people respond when somebody mentions they are facing something terrible in life. What's the first response?

"I / We will be praying for you."

Whether or not people actually pray for others when they say they will or if it is just a pleasantry is a debate for another time. But, it sure seems like everybody is praying for everyone else all the time. But do we? Do we mean it? Do we believe our prayers are answered?

Many times I have heard people quote the following Bible passage when talking about prayer:

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!  – John 14:13-14 NLT
Unfortunately, I see people using this passage as a basis to turn our prayers into laundry lists or wish lists that we give to God with the guarantee that we will get everything we ask for. Then, when our prayers go unanswered, we are told that we didn't have enough faith or our relationship with Jesus isn't real or something of the sort.
 
Sad really. An over-simplification.
 
The verse just before makes the difference.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.  – John 14:12 NLT
Jesus tell us that anyone who believes in Him will do the same works He has done. But why is this so important? To do what Jesus did, we have to know him.  To know Him changes our perspective so that we view our circumstances differently.  This will change what we pray for and ask for.
 
One of my favorite Bible Teachers, Greg Laurie, says that God answers prayers in one of three ways – Go, Slow and No. He will either answer the prayer immediately, tell us it's not time yet or just say no. God knows what's best for us and answers our prayers accordingly. As God's child, I don't understand why God gives me a Slow and a No on certain prayers. But as a parent, it should be clear. My kids have asked for things in the past and I have answered 'not yet' or 'no'. Why? Because I knew my child and saw the larger picture. Either they weren't ready for what they were asking for, or what they were asking for would hurt them.
 
I'm glad God listens to my prayers and answers them based on what I need, not what I always want. Who knows what damage all my prayers over the years would have caused.
 
Garth Brooks penned a truth when he wrote the lyrics:
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
Thank God for loving you enough to say no.