Friday, March 30, 2012

You need it more than you know

As my 9-year-old and I walked into BJJ class last night, I was wondering what the atmosphere would be like.  Even though the guys that I train with are great, it's a place to go to blow off steam and I didn't know how well they'd like a little guy being part of the mix.  But I was about to find out...

The things is, last night would have been very cool for my son and me to just show up and train together.  Instead, it was way more than that.  It was wonderful for him to see a group of men that are comfortable being themselves.  Men that are kind, but not soft.  Men that are competitive, but not cruel.  Men that are a little (or a lot) rough around the edges because they're too real not to be.

With all of the madness going on in the world, I'm very thankful for these men that are a good example for my son.  And best of all, I get to call them friends

If you don't have a group like this in your life.  Start looking.  You need it more than you know... and so do your kids.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Did you put your glasses on this morning?

We found out last week that two of the three kids needed glasses.  We probably should have realized before now, but... we didn't (don't judge me...).  Several hundred dollars later, the kids have their "new eyes."

If only it were that easy for us to have a new view of the world around us.  You know those days when you're tired and nothing seems to be going your way.  Wouldn't it be great if you could just slap your glasses on your face and have an entirely new perspective?

We can do it; it's just a little harder.  For us, it takes a desire to see the good things in life.  It takes a trust that there is still good in the world.  And most of all, it takes a commitment to doing the right thing regardless of what's going on around you.  It's easier to see the good in the world if we're the ones initiating it.  It's much harder to see when we're passively waiting for it to drop in our lap.

So when you get up in the morning, put your glasses on, then take a look at the world around you and tell me what opportunities you see.  And if you're creating them, they'll be right in front of your face!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

3 Steps to Building the Sun

It's warm today it will be cold tomorrow and there's nothing that you can do to affect that.  Let's face it.  There are things that we don't (and will never) have control over.

Stop worrying about the weather.  Instead, grab your coat and your sandals and keep pushing forward with the things that you can affect.  Try these three things:
  1. Listen to your loved ones instead of talking
  2. Call your friends instead of waiting for them to call you
  3. Reach out to those in need regardless of how they got where they are
Taking those three steps will make your life warmer than a sunny day ever could.  It's like building your own Sun!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Are these two things the same?

We often look at other people's lives and wish and wonder what it would take for "us" to be like "them."  I have good news for you.  You already are like "them."

We look at our neighbor, our friend, the guy at church or our co-worker and think that they are living the good life.  It appears that they "have it all pulled together."  It's not true.  They struggle.  Things go wrong in their life too.  It's all about perspective.

I once heard Stephen Furtick say (paraphrashing), we think we're failing because we're comparing our 'behind the scenese' to every else's 'highlight reel.'

We all have struggles, hard times, 'bad luck' and tough days.  The struggles are different, but the emotions are the same.  Don't wish to be in someone else's shoes.  Yours fit just fine.  And besides, you're good at being you!

Monday, March 26, 2012

What if you just had one?

That special thing.

The thing you've always wanted.

For a sports fan, maybe it's a baseball signed by Babe Ruth or an Honus Wagner card.  Maybe it's your grandmother's ring that she left to you or a rare black pearl necklace.  Just imagine if you had one of those things with no chance of getting another.

It would be locked in a safe, never to be disturbed accept to brag to your friends or tell stories of past times.  You would value it.  You wouldn't take it for granted.  It wouldn't get boring.

The good news is that you do have something that valuable, that rare and that special.  But you'll take it for granted.  You won't cherish it as you should.  You'll forget the value of it.  You will if you're anything like me, at least.

I lose site of how valuable my life is and how important my time here is.  I forget how special it is that I was created to be in this very moment as I type this.  I will only get one chance to make today what it is meant to be.  If I miss it, I can try again tomorrow, but I will never get another today.

It's not by accident that you are where you are today.  You'll only be here once.  Don't take it for granted.  Live today and don't lose site of how rare it is.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Better late than never

Well, sometimes it is.  But sometimes, late is just not good enough.

Being late to notice that your family is slipping away.  Being late to realize that your kids are tied up with the wrong group.  Being late to notice that your best friend has been trying to reach out for help.  Those things aren't acceptable and sometimes being late is just not good enough.

Define what you refuse to be late for.  And then show up on time.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

To most of the world, it's just Thursday...

But for me and my family, it's different.  It's more than a beautiful Thursday in late March.  Today, March 22, is the anniversary of the day that a tremendously special person was born.  Maybe a person that the world will remember forever, or maybe a person that much of the world will never know, but a person that has drastically changed the course of my life.  For that I am forever grateful.

To most of the world, it's just Thursday, but for me it's a day to celebrate.

If only we would live each day of our lives like this.  Like a celebration.  There may not be a special birthday to celebrate today.  Worse, you may have even gotten some bad news today.  But today, this day, is a day that you will never get back.

So, while today is very special to me, you can make today special for you too.  Try something you've never tried.  Grow like you've never grown.  Weep like you've never wept.  Laugh like you've never laughed.  Forget your worries.  Help someone.  Take a quiet walk.  Meet someone new.  Forget someone old.  Smile.  Choose to do something special today.

To most of the world, it's just Thursday... but to us, it can be incredible.

[[[[   Happy Birthday, Corie!  ]]]

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Celebrate it... but not too early

I run a retail business (  I've had a few great opportunities that recently popped up, which give me reason to celebrate... almost.

I'm all about celebrating small victories, because it's important for us to be happy when we achieve something.  But we have to be careful not to celebrate prematurely.

Small victories build confidence.  They help us to remember why we started.  The encourage us to keep going.  But celebrating prematurely can have exactly the opposite effect.  It can be discouraging.  It can make you lose focus.  It can cause us to forget why we started.

Celebrate often, but not early!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If I could only get out of the way

Adults take risks.  Calculated risks.  Mostly too calculated.  It's human nature.  It's a way to challenge ourselves and realize for a moment that we can push ourselves further.

So many times as a parent I am more concerned with protecting my kids than helping them grow and learn.  Our kids (especially boys) need to take risks.  We need to stop being so uptight and let them.

When they want to try riding their bike by themselves, let them fall.
When they try jumping over the creek, let them get wet.
When they are playing just a little too rough, let them play.

Our kids need to learn and grow on their own.  If I could only get out of the way and let them!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Walking the tightrope

It was beautiful outside yesterday.  A great day to take the kids to the park to play basketball.  There are several parks in town.  The first park was overcrowded.  The second park was overcrowded.  The third park was just crowded.  I'm tired of driving to look for a park.  The third park wins.

Four basketball courts, three of which are filled with kids/adults between the ages of 10 and 30.  All of which are swearing beyond measure.  Now, to be completely honest, I'm no saint.  Never claimed to be.  But I do try to be careful about the things my boys see and hear.  Which brings me to the dilemma...

I'm left with 3 choices in my mind:
  1. Stay and play.  We teach the boys right from wrong and they know bad words when they hear them.  We can't "protect" them forever.
  2. Leave.  Just cash out and live to fight another day.  There are other things to do in town.
  3. Ask the people playing to stop swearing.  Asking the thirty (suspect) people playing to stop swearing would've not only made me look like an idiot (rightfully so?), but may have led to a mob beating.  Nah.  I'll pass.
So what did I do?  I stayed.  And the boys and I talked.  The point is this.  I think we as parents have to walk this tightrope of protecting our kids vs. sheltering so much that they don't know how to interact with other people.  I look at it this way.  If hearing some guys swear on a basketball court for an hour on Sunday afternoon corrupts my boys, I messed up somewhere else along the way.

Protect your kids by all means.  By ALL means.  But more importantly, have fun with them, talk with them, and love them.  Those are the things that they will remember... not the words they overhear on a basketball court.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How does the ending go?

I finished a book last night (the Steve Jobs biography, if you're interested).  It's such a great feeling to finish something.  Why then do I so often start things that I don't finish?

I do all the "right" things: Write down my goals.  Set small milestones.  Keep my lists in front of me to keep me motivated, etc.  It doesn't work.  None of it works.  I think I finally figured it out.

I make all of my lists based on what needs done, but I lose interest when I lose sight of why I should do it (Why did you start dieting?  Why did you start on your business plan?  Why did you join that team?).

I'm going to try something new the next time I start something.  Before making any of my "what lists", I'm going to write my "why list".  Why am I starting and why should I finish?  That way, on those tough days, instead of looking at a to-do list, I can tap back into why my actions are meaningful.

To-do lists are boring, but "why lists" remind us why the things we do are valuable.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

If you've ever read my blog, please read this (and share)

Hello all,

I try not to ask for favors, but I feel like I have to today.  If you've ever read (and enjoyed) my blog, please share this post (see share instructions below if you need help).  It's the only way I know to get more subscribers.

First of all, thanks to those of you that have been reading my blog.  I truly appreciate it.  I've tried to make it as easy as possible for you to get my blog on a daily basis without being a nuisance.  If you enjoy the blog, here are some easy ways to make sure you get it:
  • For many of you, subscribing via Twitter will be the easiest.  You can follow @CrucifixMMA to get my blog there, but with Twitter being so busy it's very easy to miss since I only post each blog once.
  • Second on the list is probably Facebook.  That seems to be where most of you are reading from so far.  You can send me a friend request or you can "Like" the Crucifix MMA page.  Either way works for me (feel free to do both if you'd like).
  • You can signup for the daily email if you'd like.  It seems some people are moving away from email, but if it works for you it's very easy to do (if you've already signed up you don't need to do anything).  You will only get one email from me each day.  No more, no less.  To do so, go here and look on the right side for the email subscription box.
  • If you use a Kindle, you can subscribe to my blog that way.  The downfall is that you have to pay for it.  That's not my choice, but to make it available from Amazon, I have to play by their rules.  It's also not available for the Kindle Fire yet.  I'm still working on that.
  • If any of you use an RSS reader, it's very simple.  A very easy-to-use one that works well on your PC and mobile device is Google Reader.  There are plenty more out there, but you can sign up by copying this link into your RSS reader:
  • Lastly, you can always simply bookmark my blog site or set it as your home page if you'd like to do that.
I've gotten some good feedback on my blog so far and I would like more people to be aware of it since some of you seem to have found it useful.  Please feel free to share the blogs that you like with your friends.
Thanks again to each of you and I'm thankful for your sharing.

Have a great day!

Sharing Instructions:
To share, just look at the icons below each post (see arrow) and choose where you want to share it.  There are a lot of icons, but most of them are pretty easy to find.  The Twitter, Facebook and Google+ icons are first on the list.  Just click the icon and it takes care of the rest for you!

They don't care what I think

Our kids are looking to us.  They're not telling us that they are; they just are.

You may be thinking, "Yeah, right.  You don't know my kids.  They don't care what I think."

You're wrong.

As adults, we're pretty crappy at communicating.  Our kids have unfortunately learned that from us and we're left to deal with what we've made.  Just because your kids don't ask to have dinner with you, just because they don't tell you that they want to hear you say that you love them, just because they don't seem like they want you to care about the things that they care about does NOT mean that they don't feel that way.

They are watching you.  They are watching me.  The question is, are they seeing that we care or are they just hearing about all of the things that they could do better?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The art of being a dad

Alright, let's be honest ladies and gentlemen.  The art of being a guy is really getting lost in our society.

The art of being a dad seems all but gone.

As a guy, I'll be the first to admit that I've fallen short more times that I can recall.  But, in my failure there is the ability to get better.

Men, here are three things that we can start with:
  1. Be the leader: Both in our families and in our communities.  Stop telling your children what you want them to be and instead be the example that you want them to be.
  2. Be the provider:  I'm not talking (just) about providing for them financially.  We also need to provide love, strength, guidance, advice and solid fundamental truths to our families.  They depend on us for it.
  3. Be unselfish: This means sometimes we need to do things that we don't want to do. Sometimes we'll be tired. Sometimes we won't get recognition when we think we should. Tell your ego to shut up and just do the right thing.
Do I have all of these things nailed down?  Not even close!  I, like everyone else, am a work in progress.  The danger isn't in failing.  The danger comes when we stop working to get better.  Hang in there, men.  Your family is worth it.
[SIDE NOTE: You don't have to be a "dad" to implement these ideas.  We can be leaders and providers for friends, nieces, nephews, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, etc.  It's all about doing the right thing.]

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My 9-year-old is smarter than me

He had chores to do last night.  And in the midst of them, he figured out one of life's sweet victories.

Let's first agree that work (sometimes) stinks.  You know that.  I know that.  He definitely knows that.  But as he was vacuuming the house last night, he figured it out.  He figured out the key to work.  He made it fun!  (In his case, "fun" was sticking the vacuum nozzle to his head and laughing hysterically.)

How many times as adults do we have something to do that we just don't feel like doing (dishes, home repairs, landscaping, etc.).  Hating every second of those tasks only makes them last longer.  I've found that out from experience.

Stop complaining about what you have to do and get creative.  Figure out how to make your "work" into play and you'll have figured out the same thing my 9-year-old has.  Just a word of advice: Be careful when you stick the vacuum nozzle to your head.  I hear it can leave a nasty mark.

Monday, March 12, 2012

When you look back at this day in 6 months...

I hurt my shoulder awhile back and I've been using it as an excuse while I put off "starting."  For me, "starting" is getting into better shape.  The thing is, it's not the workout that I hate.  It's getting started.

I think this is true for most of us.  Not just with working out, but with growing our faith, building better relationships with our kids or starting that business that we've always wanted.  We go through a phase where we know that we need (or want) to do something.  We know it's the right thing.  We know that we'll be better off for it.  But we don't start.  Instead, we find every excuse not to.

I think we put off getting started because it's easier to be complacent.  Even if the end result will put us in a better place, we get very comfortable where we are... and we hang on to that comfort with all of our might.

No more excuses.  I'm starting today.  I hope you choose something to start today also.  Because even though starting sucks, when you look back at this day in 6 months, you'll wish you would have started today.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I really dropped the ball

I had an opportunity this morning.  It would have been incredible.  It would have been something that I would have been proud to write about... but I really dropped the ball.

My day started with an early morning grocery run.  I pulled into the grocery store parking lot and across the lot was a woman that had apparently locked her keys in her car.  In the moment, as I stepped out of my truck, my mind raced: What could I do to help?  Would I be able to help and still get home in time to get ready for work?  I don't know how to get into a locked car.  How did she lock her keys in there in the first place?

So, I climb out of my truck... and walk directly into the grocery store.

I got what I needed and went back out to my truck.  On the way out, I noticed a man helping the lady.  Guess what?  He didn't know how to get into a locked car either... but he tried.

I'm embarrassed to tell this story because I put myself first when someone needed help.  After all of this blogging about doing the right thing and challenging yourself and the importance of trying, I didn't try at all.  I really dropped the ball.

But there's a lesson in it.  We don't have to have all of the answers when someone is hurting, down on their luck or locked out of their car.  We just need to be willing to help.  I wasn't.  If you know of someone (or see someone) that needs help today, please do what I chose not to do.  Be willing to help.

And, if by chance, that young lady is reading this, I should've helped you.  I should've tried.  I apologize.

Have a great day, everyone!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It will affect you whether you believe it or not

I know that many of you won't enjoy this post, but it's important.  Not to me.  Well, not just to me.  But to our families, our friends and most importantly our children.

We, in America, tend to think that politics don't affect us (probably because we're disgusted by the whole process).  I have some bad news for you.  They do.  The people we elect will create laws that directly affect us, and more so our children.  When I hear someone say, "Politics don't interest me", I wonder if they realize the impact of that statement.  I may not be "interested" in whether or not my house is on fire.  That doesn't mean that it won't affect me.

So, I have a favor to ask of you.  Three favors, actually:
  1. Please vote.  It really does matter.  If you don't believe that, I'd love to hear why.
  2. Please don't make an emotional decision when you vote.  Voting based on emotions is like loving your kids based on logic.  There are some things that just don't work.  We have to look at this thing logically and put our ego and emotions from the past behind us.
  3. Vote for the people that believe to be honest.  Too many times I hear people asking where candidates "stand on the issues."  Quite frankly, I want to know the person's character.  You can have whatever opinion you want on the issues, but if I can't believe what you say your stance means very little.
This post is not political.  I'm not "endorsing" anyone.  I do, however, believe that it's very important for us to realize that our elected officials will affect our future.  Our children are too important to not care about the men and women that will be running our country.

Make it a great day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I met a man today...

We'll call him Mark.  He's ordinary on the outside.  A rough beard that he hasn't shaved in a few days.  A little overweight.  Dirty clothes from the hard days work that he's put in today... and it's only 8:30AM.  He's ordinary on the outside.

And then you get a glimpse of his life through a ten minute conversation and you realize that he's not even close to ordinary.  He's a grandfather.  And now, due to the loss of his own child, he's "inherited four grandchildren."  The children are all under the age of seven with the oldest being autistic.

He wasn't complaining.  He was just stating facts.  Facts about life.  Facts about hurting.  Facts about change that he had no control over.

As he runs his own business and deals with the hand that he's been dealt, I think we'd all give him a free pass to have a bad day now and again.  Or would we?

You see, this man's story, in all of its uniqueness is not as rare as we think.  We, unfortunately, don't take the time out of our busy day to learn about the gas station attendant, the waitress or the grocery clerk.  Instead we rush through our day and only notice them if they take too long bagging our groceries or pump our gas.

I'm going to challenge myself, and you too, to meet someone today.  Someone ordinary on the outside.  We may be amazed at the story they have to tell.  And, if we're lucky, we'll meet a man just like Mark.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Remember... It's just paper and metal

Paying to get a car fixed sucks.  Of course, it beats the alternative of not having a car or we wouldn't pay to get them fixed, right?

In reality, the suckiness has nothing to do with the car, but everything to do with money.  We, as Americans especially, tend to think differently about money.  We look at it as something that defines who we are, what we stand for and how we fit into our social groups.  Remember... It's just paper and metal.

The sooner we realize that money is just a tool, the better off we'll be.  It's no different than a shovel.  We could get creative and dig a hole with just about anything if we had to, but if we have a shovel it makes things easier.  If we really need to dig a hole, we'll find a way no matter what.  However, if we run short on money, we panic.  Instead of panicking, we really just need to be creative and find another way.  Remember... it's just paper and metal.

Live your life looking at money as a tool, not as a definition of who you are.  When you start defining yourself by the amount of money you have, rest assured that everyone else already has their definition of you.  And theirs is probably more accurate than yours.

You're so much more than the money your make.  Define yourself by your passions, not by your checking account.  The person you are means so much more than the money you have.

[Just to be clear, a person's tendency to define themselves by the amount of money they have has absolutely nothing to do with how much money they have.  "Poor" people define themselves by the amount of money that they have (or don't have) just as often as the "rich" do.]

Monday, March 5, 2012

Don't buy it...

You don't need some top-secret, over-priced, over-marketed system to lose weight.

You do need one thing.  I've written about it before and I probably will again because it's THAT important.

The key to losing weight is consistency.  That, in my mind, is the hardest part about life.  Showing up with your game face on every single day.

This key is most important because it applies to every part of your life.  Being a good dad, a woman of faith, healthy, wise, a good friend, having a clean house, a maintained car... the list goes on and on.

Don't buy the gimmicks.  Instead of wasting time buying into all of them, instead figure out a way to hold yourself (or have someone else hold you) accountable for staying consistent.  That will change your life more than any "As Seen On TV" product can.

Friday, March 2, 2012

He hates homework

I'm nerdy enough that I don't mind homework, but my 9-year-old believes that homework is a direct spawn of Satan himself.  He hates it.  He thinks it's dumb.  He thinks it's worthless.

As adults, we're often dealt "homework" also.  It comes to us by way of tough situations in life: Losing a job, losing a friend, getting a flat tire on a busy morning, a homeless person asking us for money when we have little of out own, etc.  Unfortunately for me, I often miss the point of this "adult" homework the same as my 9-year-old misses the points of his.

If we look at our tough situations as homework, as a chance to learn more about life and get better at it, those situations seem much more manageable.  So I have to ask, what home work have you been working on lately?  And what grade would you give yourself?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The kids are sick

And when they are, your perspective changes.  The things that were important, somehow don't seem so important any more.  So, if they aren't important now, why were they important before the kids got sick?

We tend to prioritize our tasks relative to each other, but the bottom line is that something is either important or it's not.  Look at the things you're involved in; look at the tasks that you have to do throughout your day.  Then figure out if they are important based on your values, your life goals and your relationships.  If they aren't important, stop doing them.  I'm sure you have enough important things to do!