Revealed to me

Screaming At The Mirror

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Just have to get this off my chest. The past year has been one that has seen constant controversy, scandal, and society’s rush to condemn those who are at the center of it all. Whether it be Ray Rice and the video that rocked the NFL or Adrian Peterson being disciplined for his style of discipline, it has seemed nonstop. In the case of Ray Rice, everyone from every co-worker at the water cooler to every public figure had a stance. As public outcry grew louder, more and more of the powers that be sought to enforce penalties to appease the marauding masses. Baltimore (Ravens) did a 360 and outright released Ray after pledging their allegiance. The knee jerk reactions by the NFL have been all too well documented. All because the public demanded these wrongs be punished.

Adrian Peterson was also a vehemently heralded failure of a public figure who must be sacrificed on the altar of the court of public opinion. After a grand jury said there wasn’t enough evidence once, when this story hit, he became public enemy number two(The Ray Rice story was still on going).

Now we have the not so surprising episode of the Patriot’s being caught cheating, again! Albeit skirting ball regulation rules doesn’t warrant the sports equivalent of the death penalty, cheating is cheating. If it is altering balls or hacking the other team’s Surface, it is still cheating. I witnessed ESPN have marathon coverage of this story when there was really no “new” developments, even FOX NEWS, CNN, and MSNBC railed all day on Deflategate. The American public is outraged that the public figures, who are supposed to be our hero’s, would stoop to such putrid behaviors! How dare they betray our trust!

Hence, the title. The revelation in all of this is that we are not righting wrongs that are going to change the course of our society, as some of the most opinionated of us would have you believe. We are simply screaming at the reflection we see in the mirror because we hate the way it (or we as a society) look. Whether it be Hollywood, Wall Street, Washington, DC, or sports, the public figures that reside there live in a microcosm of society at large. The difference is that their symptoms of societal dysfunction is magnified by the by the microscope of the public eye and the presence of the best growth media for dysfunction; money, power, and entitlement to be free from persecution.

In this Petri dish, the same problems that plague every community in this country are grown. By no means is abuse, violence, infidelity, or all manner of unethical behaviors absent from the very neighborhood you live in or business you work in. Still when these things, which appear so ugly in the mirror , stare back at us we don’t see them as cause for self-improvement. Instead, we just  use them as another reason to blame someone else as if the mirror lies.

When such failings are seen, let us realize that those people came from the same broken society at large that we live in. The influences that shaped their behaviors affect us all. These public figures are not the problem in our society, they are a product of it. Stop screaming at the mirror! Rather let us try to change the person being reflected. Let us not blame society or the mirror, but let each of us try to be a better part of the society. Otherwise we will not only be screaming at our reflection, but we would also be putting makeup on the mirror hoping it would change who we are. Imagine the disappointment when we once gain return to find that our reflection is as horrid as it has ever been and nothing we did caused any lasting change.

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Easy to receive, Hard to give

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One of the best feelings we often have is when hear “Yes” in response to a request we have made. Whether it be being hired for a job, getting a new home, or when asking someone we love  to spend the rest of their lives with us, “yes” makes us smile. Even in little instances like when we ask for a day off and our boss says yes. It is really nice.

We often never consider what it takes for the person giving that ” Yes” response. We never think of how we may inconvenience them, of what commitment it will take on their behalf, or what concerns they may have about the ultimate outcome. We just take it, smile, and move on.

When was the last time someone made a serious request of you. You probably had an idea of saying no. You probably thought about what it would cost you before you responded.

We love to hear “Yes” but very often find a reason to say no, especially to requests made of us by God. We can say ” I don’t have time, money, or the energy to deal with what that request requires of me.”

In our interactions with our fellow man or woman, and definitely in our relationship with God, we have to learn to give a smile by saying “yes”. If we are honest with ourselves, “Yes” feels best to us when we know there are significant causes for the answer to be “No”. It makes us that much happier because we feel we have been favored above what should have been and that we have beaten the odds. We must keep in mind that we have the same opportunity to give that feeling to others, and daily can give it to God by saying “Yes” to his call to follow his ways.

When your family, friend, co-worker, spouse, and most of all God makes a request of you, after you have run the list of why you should say no, think of the joy you can give them all by saying Yes! And one bonus is that when we say yes to God in spite of ourselves, he will show us great favor and say Yes when we don’t really deserve it…..like HE did when he died for us even though he knew we would at some point refuse to live for him.

Mar 8:34-35
34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
(KJV)

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Take the Next Step

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First off, God Bless our Soldiers who fight for what they believe in, May God protect you from every enemy foreign and domestic.

This image always evokes the essence of how I feel. Ultimately dedicated to the cause for which I am committed. Full of zeal, desire, and a relentless drive to see through every great endeavor I set my heart to. Even so, sometimes the load, fatigue, seemingly endless path that I must trudge often drive me to my knees. (Often the best place to be because I realize when there that my one hope is in prayer to an all powerful God not in anything about it within me)

It can be be discouraging, make you feel hopeless, and shake your personhood to its core. How do you keep going?

For me, I always believe that THE NEXT STEP MAY WIN THE BATTLE!  Very often the victory or breakthrough we seek comes just after we reach beyond what we feel is our known breaking point. It what makes our greatest soldier go forward in the face of unbearable physical pain and seemingly unsurmountable odds. It works for those of us fighting the battles of life as well.

When it feels impossible to go on, you have been driven to your knees, it is a perfect time to check your conviction for the task. Ask yourself ” Why am I on this journey, what is at stake, is failure and option?” Then summon whatever is left and take the NEXT STEP! Your purpose is greater than your pain, your reward much brighter than the rigor of your trials. If you don’t believe me, see the picture below and see how his determination to finish the task, changed the world eternally. REST, REFLECTION, REFOCUS AND TAKE THE NEXT STEP!

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Running in Place

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(Old never published)
It has been a year and 4 months since my family and I have been in this transitional phase. My wife and I have both taken new jobs (which were great opportunities) that will require relocation. We have been graced with a brand new baby boy, had our 2 yr. old is getting ready for preK school, and we have had to make transitional decisions for everything from cars to church. The only problem with this is that we can’t control when things happen like the sale of our existing home or the closing of the new one. For folks like us, this is very hard. Waiting to act on decisions that have already been made months ago really “grinds my gears”. I grew very weary of everyday waking to the wonder of “Will we get an offer on the house today?” or “What will happen if the new house is delayed?”. This really wore on me until I had a very eye opening moment while performing the most mundane of tasks, reading online snippets of fitness articles.

I was reading an article about whether it is best to run in place or stop all together when a runner comes to a intersection that he/she cannot immediately cross. At the time I didn’t see how this related to me but it really did. It said that running in place is not good because it makes you “look silly” and really gives no quantifiable benefit. It also said that stopping all together breaks your physiologic momentum so you decrease your benefits of the exercise you were getting. Again, I really didn’t see myself in this article and how it related to the current state of my life until I had a rare quiet moment, and then it hit me. Work While you Wait.

The runner in the article has made the decision to run a certain route before he ever started running just like my family and I. We set out with a list of goals and things to get done to complete the course. However, just like the runner, the circumstances we cannot control are like busy intersection that break our “stride” that we had established in our lives. This presented us with the dilemma of “what do we do while we wait to cross the intersection?”. It had become common for frustration to be the answer, or just plain old anger at the fact that our “run” through life had been interrupted. This reminded me of the runner who just stops and curses at the red lights for breaking his pace. It may feel good, but it ruins your Workout (life in this case) and people around look at you like you have anger issues. (not a good thing, see DirecTV commercial) But this article showed me that abandoning the whole course was not an option. So do I just wait and “run in place” pretending to make progress like the runner at the intersection jogging in place. No again, because this leads to not only looking silly, but a false sense of achievement. You still get tired but end up not moving anywhere. This leads to more frustration, topped with fatigue which all in all is totally building counter- productivity into your life.

What I came up with is exactly what the article said. It said that you should perform ballistic stretches and similar exercises to supplement the aerobic workout of running. This way, the article states, you don’t look silly or like you have anger issues, but you improve you explosiveness and muscle tone that will help with future runs and other fitness goals. During my moment of meditation (however brief with a 2 yr. old and a 2 month old), I said “WOW”. Instead of wasting time waiting idly for this transition to take shape, i should be consciously working to prepare myself to vault into a higher level of success once the “intersection” is crossed. I had been angry, frustrated, or simply “running in place” putting on a good face for the world. All of this was wasting time and energy.  I immediately purposed in my self to take charge the next day and begin “ballistic stretches” during the days to come. I began each day with new purpose to be better prepared to take advantage of what lie beyond my life intersection. I was more focused at work and more productive. I made extra effort to network in the community into which I was moving so that the opportunities were ripe for harvesting when the transition had been completed. I even began planning,budgeting, and saving for my outdoor kitchen and man cave that I envisioned in my new backyard. Not since early Spring of last year had I been so excited for this transition. I saw the opportunities not as too distant to realize but as items and things ready to be exploited once the intersection cleared. I felt empowered to take charge of every thing that came with the wait now.

So, if you are at an intersection today, if the circumstances seem out of your control and it is driving you crazy, don’t just stop and be angry and don’t just run in place. Be ballistic, be assertive and prepare for the course that you can see on the other side of the street. Stop Wasting time Waiting, Work while you Wait.

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The Woman of My Dreams

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I woke this morning drowsy from a nights sleep. Being nudged by someone , I heard a voice softly saying ” babe it’s 7 o’clock.” I moaned and begrudgingly rolled to the edge of the bed, debating whether to lie down again. Then I looked over my shoulder and saw the most lovely sight. The woman of my dreams, sweetly dozing off again. Immediately the fog of sleep rolled away and the warm glow of her love and what we share filled my senses. I forgot being sleepy and started being thankful for the blessing of such a woman in my life. I prayed all my life for a woman I could love truly but God showed me that I didn’t know what to pray for. He sent me a woman that not just allows me to love her truly, but shows me her love in so many ways. The flowers are not enough and these words fall way short of how much my life has been blessed by The Woman of My Dreams.

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Today I was sitting in the parking lot waiting on my wife to return to the car. I saw out of the corner of my eye a crow that seemed to have some problems flying. Every so often he would fly about 15 feet into the air and then suddenly fall back to the ground. He would peck the ground a few times and repeat the short flight and descent all over again. I begin to look closer as I figured that something was wrong with the bird. Upon closer examination I saw that the bird has a pecan in its beak. I watched and finally figured out that it was attempting to break the pecan open. It would take the pecan its beak, fly up to 15 feet, and then drop it on the pavement. I was amazed by the tactics that this seemingly simple creature was employing.
I began to be in awe of how this simple bird could be so successful and seemingly so intuitive when following an “instinct” or as I like to say the programming that God has given animals. Nobody had to train the bird but it was thriving. Also, it made me think of how crows or raven are perceived. They are associated with death and darkness, seeen as the lowliest of fowl, and even in the Bible the raven was not to be eaten as it was dirty and unclean. But here I see this crow exhibiting great instinct and taking advantage of all of Gods provisions. Also, have you ever heard of crows being scarce, endangered, or threatened?
It made me realize that when God instructs us, if we follow his voice instinctively we will find out how great and sufficient his grace is for us. We may be looked down on like the crow but we can flourish with Gods provisions as long as we remain in his will. Finally, I saw that even I thought the bird was injured or something as it went about it’s business. People will question your wisdom, intelligence, swag, and your character when you seek to instinctively follow God’s voice. Keep following it because just like the crow eventually feasted on it’s pecan your victory will be revealed in due time.

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Raven Revelation

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Tough Job that no one wants but everyone needs

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One of the most difficult revelations to handle is the one in where your wrongs are revealed to you. It is very hard to know that you have done something wrong. As a Christian I pride myself on knowing that in all situations I did the right thing, said the right things, and treated every person fairly. This make it very hard when I realized that I had done something wrong. This hardship is not because I have to say “I’m sorry” but it harder to realize and come to grip with the fact that I have betrayed the standard I set for myself. Realizing our fallibility is a tough exercise but when properly carried out it is one that can be the catalyst for tremndoud growth. Once we realize and recognize our failures we can pray, plan, and prepare to succeed in those instances when they inevitably return. Now, my time had come to go say, to a fellow sister, and to myself, “I’m sorry”.

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