Rise to the Challenge

Are you quick to give an excuse as to why you cannot start something? Without missing a beat, we can name ten things that keep us from starting something that we’ve wanted to start for the longest time. The point is, it takes a great deal of effort to start something and little effort to stop before we gain enough momentum to get things moving smoothly.

If life is filled with obstacles now, when is it ever going to change? There is no such thing as an obstacle free life. When you stop to think about it, life has always been complicated and obstacles change but never disappear the further you go. In fact, they often get bigger and even harder to overcome.

Think about how many obstacles babies face. They are completely helpless in the beginning until some giant human comes to their aide. But along the way, they experience a growth process which helps them overcome each obstacle in their present situation. From childhood to adulthood, they face all kinds of obstacles differing at each stage of life.

Each obstacle overcome builds on the previous ones. Relationships. Aging. Children. College. Health. A host of issues will always arise. If you wait for the day when there are no obstacles, it may never come. Instead, remind yourself of all the things God has brought you through. Remember your childlike faith and reignite the passion within you that declares, nothing can stop me. Rise up and overcome the obstacles that lie before you. The world needs what you have to offer.

See it, Do it

What’s your vision like these days? I don’t mean how small are the letters you can read. I mean, do you see things as they are or as they could be? Are you able to visualize something in your mind and turn it into a physical, tangible thing we can see, hear, smell, or touch?

If you can’t see it in your mind, you won’t see it with your eyes. Look around and see everything that surrounds you; it was once a vision in someone’s mind. They had to see it before the rest of us could see it. That’s how it works. Things do not just appear out of the blue. They come as a result of thought, and then equally important, action.

You vision will change over time. If not, perhaps you are not stretching yourself enough. When you were born, people made a big deal when you started walking. It was an accomplishment when you were finally able to walk without smashing your head on the coffee table. But by this stage in your life, you won’t get much applause for such a simple action. People expect more out of you. You’ve even come to expect more out of yourself. The more you stretch yourself, the more you will achieve over time. You will accomplish things you were once not able to see yourself doing. Keep growing and your vision will grow in proportion.

Your vision may not necessarily be shared by another. For this reason, communication can be hindered. It may be necessary for you to change the lenses with which you see things. See from the perspective of another person. When you do, it will help you understand them better. Then you can both work harmoniously to achieve better results for everyone.

The rest of the world awaits with eager anticipation for you to make your vision a reality. It’s easy to see things small because it takes little to no vision. We need people who are willing to see things beyond themselves, to reach beyond mediocrity. Along the way, be mindful of others. You don’t have to agree with them, but at least be respectful.

Stretch yourself, see it big, and do it!

Storms of Life

Life can hurt and at times, seem unbearable. When we are physically wounded, our miraculous bodies go into healing mode. Cuts begin to heal. Bruises begin to dissipate. Most of our bodies are programmed to fight infections also. Our minds know exactly what to do without requiring thought on our part. Even a small child can recover from an injury without knowing how to explain it. Emergency services, nurses, and physicians all rush to care for injuries to the body. But what about our minds, our souls? These injuries are not tangible but can still be devastating.

Contrary to our bodies, our minds work in a different way. When we are attacked mentally or emotionally, our mind tries to defend itself, but at times does so poorly. We lash out at others because we ourselves are hurt. The more they hurt us, the more we try to hurt them. The desire to get even can be overwhelming. But how does that mindset resolve anything? It only deepens the wounds on both sides.

If you find yourself in a situation in which someone has wronged or hurt you, try to exercise patience, gentleness, and mercy. Extend grace to them as if the roles were reversed and it was you that acted in an inappropriate manner. We all have our wounds. Some will heal completely, never showing they existed. Others will heal but leave scars.

Never look on your scars as something ugly to be despised. Instead, see them for what they truly are. Scars are proof of God’s love. You are a survivor. Look past your pain, struggles, and ultimately your own life, and watch God work through the lives of others. When others see your healed scars in the darkest moments of their lives, you will become a beacon of light and hope for them, living proof that they too can survive the storms of life.

Get it Together

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Ever stop to think how many thoughts we process in a given day? Our minds sift through so much data, every second, from all our senses. With our brains working so hard to process all that information, it is easy to see how a verbal attack in the middle of all this could send us into a state of panic. If another person makes us feel pain, our emotions kick in and set us off. The tendency to overreact just makes matters worse and causes more damage than had we just remained calm.

Managing our mind seems like a daunting task. To many, it is overwhelming for good reason, meaning they never tried to take control of it. Imagine letting a child be raised in a way that they were never told “no”. The child would grow up doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, etc. One day when they become an adult, they may not magically conform to the ways of society but instead experience struggle because they had never learned self-discipline.

The same can be said of your mind. Thoughts come at an alarming rate. Do you let the thoughts run around in your mind like a blown up bag of balloons that were suddenly let go all at once? Or do you train your mind how to manage your thoughts? Training is hard work but it pays off, especially when the training is put to the test. A disorganized mind is unreliable and yields undesirable results.

Create habits that will train your mind to reject certain thoughts and build upon others. With more practice, it gets easier to manage your thoughts. Do this long enough and it will change the way you live.

Compared to …?

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Have you ever compared yourself to someone? Perhaps someone better looking, more successful, or that had more money? Of course, we all have. But when we do, it robs us of joy that we would otherwise keep.

Don’t compare yourself with others. Doing so results in either an inflated ego or feeling like less. We are all on different paths in life. Every experience we have adds to the previous ones, further making us more unique individuals. People start out differently, but there is nothing than can change that. We cannot control where we start; only where we finish.

Comparison robs us of the feeling of being adequate. If you have children, be careful of telling them to be more like their brother or sister. People have different gifts. If a person is not athletically gifted, you wouldn’t tell them to be more like a professional athelete. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of people. Build on their strengths and encourage them through their weaknesses.

Know yourself. Take inventory of what you do have. Find out what actions can be taken to bring you closer to what you desire in life. It takes conscious thought, planning, and effort. Find out what works and what doesn’t.

If you want to play better sports, practice more. If you want to be a better musician, play more. If you want to get a raise, be deserving of a raise. Just because you had another birthday this year doesn’t qualify you for increase. Add more value to your life, your relationships, and your employer. Trust that eventually, your efforts will be rewarded. BE the scale to which you measure yourself as a success.

Faithful in Little

broken-car-vehicle-vintage.jpgWhen the amounts are small, people are tempted to be ungrateful. Don’t despise what you have, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Be content with it, not in the sense that it’s all you will ever have, but just that it is what you have right now. Take good care of it. Have you ever given someone a gift and they mistreated it? How did that make you feel? Be a good steward of everything you have, whether it be things or relationships.

Do not wait until you get something better. Let’s say someone has an older car. They may think, well this old clunker isn’t worth much, so why take care of it. Wrong! Clean that junk out of the back. Shine it up. Take care of exactly what it is you have, regardless of how little value it may seem.

Sure, you may not be able to make it look new no matter how hard you try. But at least make it look nice by organizing and cleaning it. I do not understand why but it will make you feel better. A secondary benefit will be a less cluttered mind. When everything around you is in disarray, typically your mind will be also.

We are all creatures of habit. Creating good habits will help your things last longer. The temptation is to let things go by procrastinating. By allowing this behavior, everything will be subjected to more extreme conditions. Just look at the car at the beginning. This type of damage did not happen overnight. Still finding it hard to believe? Look at an abandoned house. All kinds of things can happen that degrade the value of the house. If the lawn is not maintained, pests of all kinds may move in – mice, insects, snakes, etc. Mice can eat up the wiring. Termite infestations can destroy the integrity of the building. Weeds and vines grow all over the house and seemingly take over.

It’s a terrible kind of amazing what can happen when we don’t take care of our business. So handle your business! Be faithful in what you have now and you will be prepared for the day when better things come your way.

Is That All?

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When you only have a little, it’s tempting not to do anything with it. Let’s say you are thinking about starting to save for retirement and you make a hundred dollars a week. When looking at what percent to give, you decide on ten percent and set it aside. It’s tempting to say, well it’s only ten dollars. It’s hardly worth much so I may as well spend it.

Don’t fall into the trap of “it’s only this much”. Small amounts can lead to plenty over time. Look at the farming industry. They take a small bag of seeds and eventually turn it into a huge crop that can feed numerous people.

Over time, the amounts saved will grow. Typically, income goes up with the more experience and skills a person has. Years later, that ten may grow to fifty dollars a week. During all the years of waiting, be faithful and keep putting in. This will develop critical habits which will carry you to where you want to be later.

The exciting part about investing in stocks and mutul ¬†funds is when it starts gaining in value through the interest accumulated. Your money will begin to work for you. It will be like having your own employees, whose only job is to make you more money. The best part is checking your statements and watching it grow. It’s very similar to that feeling you get the first time you get a paid vacation day. A feeling of wonder comes over you as you contemplate getting paid for the day while you are out having fun!

Diligently handle the small amounts and when the larger amounts come, you will already be prepared to manage them wisely to create the future you desire.