Counting my Blessings…

Positive Feelings  Tagged , 5 Comments »

This December has definitely been one of the most difficult times in my adult life.  It’s one of those times were one is tempted to feel “I just can’t get a break.  Why am I being picked on?”

However, that makes it extra important for me to count some of my many blessings.

  1. My Amazing Family
    I can’t say enough about my family.  I have a loving and supportive wife who is always there to share in my joy and accomplishments and lift me up when my chin is down.  She also keeps me grounded and focused when I start to feel sorry for myself or am tempted to make a decision that is poorly thought out or based on selfish ambition.  And a wife who has also helped raise with me 4 delightful kids.  Kids who are every bit the troublemakers they need to be to keep me from getting complacent and to keep our family from over-swelling with pride.  But who are also very loving, affectionate, caring, generous, thoughtful, and adorable.  God has placed the perfect family in my life to help round me out as a person and to fill my life with joy.
  2. My Supportive Friends
    I have friends who don’t just fill my life with empty flattery and mindless conversation.  They also don’t only show their faces when I have something to offer.  They are there when I need someone to listen, when we (our family) needs assistance, when I need a kick in the pants, and when I need to laugh and forget about the stress in life…  God has gifted me with friendships that warm my heart and keep me moving forward.  Between my family and friends alone I have been given so much to be thankful for — no matter what my circumstances.
  3. Our Success and Opportunity
    Even though I hit a rough patch every now and then, my life has been filled with nothing but opportunity and reward.  Lisa and I often marvel at how much we have been given in terms of success.  The ability to work from home for so many years and to rarely hunger.  To be born into a country where we are free to peruse our desires, dreams, and passions.  To be able to have an influence in our community and to be able to use the creative gifts God has entrusted in us…  The list goes on and on.

I have counted three blessings which I just feel I need to share.  However, the list of blessings only start there…  It is mind blowing to me how much I have been given especially compared to how much I have given back.  One Bible passage that always sticks in my head is from Luke 12:48:

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

I have been given so, so much.  So when times are tough, like they are this December, it is not time for me to get down and demand more out of my Creator.  It is time to give praise and ask the Almighty God what more I can do?  What more can I give?  What more is to be demanded of me?  How can I submit and offer my body up as a living sacrifice?

Because there can be no doubt; I have been given much.  Much will be demanded.  And, I welcome it…  Just as any loving son would welcome the demands of his loving, supporting, and life-giving Father.

2-0 Bears? Proof I Have Died.

Positive Feelings  Tagged , , , , , 5 Comments »

With a strong relationship with God through Jesus Christ, perfect family, beautiful and loving wife, and the best possible friends…  My life is so close to pure bliss I had to wonder at times if I wasn’t experiencing the after life.

However, the Bears always were able to keep me grounded (pun, pun)…

I mean, a stinky-poo-poo Bears team is no fun at all.  Sure, it doesn’t even put a small dent in the other great stuff…  But, it certainly makes the air smell a little foul.

Now the Bears are 2-0 for the first time since 2006, you know the year they went to the Super Bowl, and the just beat the famed Dallas Cowboys….  WHAT?!?  This Bears team?  The Bears team that went 0-4 during the preseason and looked like they would be better off playing in a poker tournament?  The Bears team that BEARly squeaked by a Lions team that has one 2 games in their last 34?

Yep.  Those Bears.

So, there are now only one of three conclusions I can come to:

  1. The Bears are Much Better than Expected
  2. The Bears are Getting Lucky and are About to Start a Downward Spiral
  3. I Have Died and am in Heaven which is Perfect, but Nothing Like Described in Scripture

For now, I will go with #2 but another win (next week against GB on Monday night!!!) and I may have to start considering #1…  Another few wins and I better start checking my Bible!

GO BEARS!

A New Sunday Tradition…

Positive Feelings  Tagged , , , , 6 Comments »

Basically all my life I have had a Sunday tradition…  September through January anyway…  NFL FOOTBALL!!!

And that my friends, has not changed.  I love watching football, I really enjoy almost every aspect of the sport.  Every Sunday in the fall my heart is pounding strong!

More recently our family has started the tradition of going to breakfast together.  We have done this (almost) every Sunday for the past 2 years and it has been a great way to connect as a family and enjoy even more of the bonding time with the “fam” that I love.  Breakfast with the family on Sunday is even sweeter than football…

Getting to sit down to a relaxed meal together and share our week is just a delight.  We get much more family time than most other families to begin with, but more is always welcome!  And, the Sunday breakfast time is extra special because it is a fixed time — it is our time.  Much like Tuesday nights have become a Lisa-&-I tradition of “date night”.  Yes, Tuesdays are equally cherished.

Anyway, back to Sunday…

Our new tradition is one that has been in the works for some time now…  What is it?  To go to church!

For a while my wife and I have been contemplating regularly attending Sunday service and getting involved with a church.  But this is a decision we did not take lightly.  We wanted a church that felt right for us.  One that was inviting and open — not judgmental and condescending.

I had a terrible experience with the (Catholic) church growing up — one that left deep wounds and filled me with much doubt.  Not doubt about God but doubt about religion.  And, not about the message of religion but of it’s messengers.  There are good people and not-so-good people in this world and unfortunately the same is true everywhere — even in the church.  I met many good people I am sure in my childhood with the church.  But it was the bad one(s) that filled my mind with an incurable pain.

However, for the past several months I had been carrying a terrible burden.  Someone I am not at all close with had (unintentionally?) confided something to me — something absolutely HORRIBLE — and I did not know what to do with the knowledge I had been “forced” to receive.  I was losing sleep and filled with an awful feeling of uncertainty as to what was the ‘right’ thing to do.

This was not the kind of thing you gossip and it was not the kind of story I wanted to pass-on or burden any of my friends with…  Only Lisa knew what was on my mind.  However, one other name kept coming to mind — very oddly it was the name of someone who I did not have a close relationship with…

Mark Pittman was one of the cast members in School House Rock Live!  A show which I directed with my lovely wife.  All casts bond, but I had no particular closeness to Mark; in fact he and I didn’t really seem to gel.  Not that he wasn’t nice and not that he-and-I didn’t get along…  I was just much closer to other cast members.

Anyhow, Mark’s name kept coming into my mind whenever I would think about this ‘event’.  I do not know why…  So, finally after discussing it with Lisa, we decided to just go with it.  I called Mark who is a pastor at New Hope Community Church.  we arranged to meet at his office the following day.

Mark admitted to me that he was as surprised to get a call from me as I was to have been calling on him.  Nonetheless, here we were.

I had a lenghty discussion with Mark about the burden I was carrying and the solutions (in terms of faith).  I had an almost immediate feeling of comfort come over me — even with the emotional/intense nature of the issue at hand.  Mark gave me advice from the perspective of the bible; which in fact was exactly what I was seeking.  I had confidence in what I had to do and a peace about the situation I had not been able to find on my own.

Mark also talked very briefly about church in general.  I made a comment on my past experience and the fact that I just wasn’t sure about my comfort level with the church concept — because of what had happened in the past.

Although he made the assumption (incorrectly) that my wounds were related to the teachings or the interpretations of the Catholic faith — I still felt healing occur as we enguaged in a discussion about the church.

Afterwords my wife and I talked about the experience and both agreed that we should attend a service at New Hope.

The service itself was amazing. Full of energy, music, emotion, and message.  The highlight of the service was a group of individuals coming on stage each with a cardboard that on one side they had written their personal struggle and on the other side their newly found saving…  For example, one read “Addicted to Drugs” and then was turned over to reveal “Addicted to God’s Love”.  This was all done to music and was very dramatic and moving.  Both Lisa and I had tears flowing from our eyes.

So, yep.  I think we’ve found a new Sunday tradition.  Or maybe I should say a new Sunday tradition found us…? But I am happy to say that along with football (GO BEARS!!!), and breakfast, we will make attending Sunday service a part of our day.

THE IMPORTANT NOTE:
The kids also had a blast.  Both learning about God’s message and playing with other kids their age.  Each child was in a separate room with other kids in their age group.  I felt this was a much more productive way for the kids to be introduced to church (through fun interaction) — versus when I was young and basically sat BORED and listened to sermon after sermon that I did not understand nor did I care about…  I WAS A KID; SITTING THERE WAS BORING!!


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