Month: March 2017

Start While You Still Have the Keys

I try my hardest not to write until I get up in the morning.

Most often, I find myself waking up in a rush about 3:00 AM.

My thoughts rImage result for Rush of Thoughts at 3:00 AMushing through me and just flooding my mind.

I want to jump up and put them sentence form.  Inspiration on overload.

I fight the urge to get up and turn on my computer.  I do what I can to force myself back to sleep.  Work awaits in the morning and I have to get up in a few hours. I try to convince myself that I will remember the detail and will be able to write with the same feeling and perspective in the morning. 

Much like the dreams we dream at night, we never quite remember them the same way in the morning.  Those vivid dreams that seem so real in that moment of sleep, most times are not so vivid when you try to explain them to someone the next morning.  It usually comes out as a bunch of blurry details that don’t flow together at all. 

They sure do seem real and clear when we experience them right?

That is how these thoughts seem to me when they are so clear at 3:00 AM but seem empty and blurry when I am pressed to try to write them down in the morning.

Now to clarify… I honestly do not feel like I am a good writer. Regardless of when I respond to these moments of inspiration, my words lack the same impact of those I read by real writers.  The thoughts that I have in these bursts of inspiration are not worthy of much more than making me feel able to express myself.

In that expression, I find a sense of being comfortable in my skin. 

It comforts me.  It doesn’t matter if they are good or not. 

I write because it makes me feel productive.

I know that my grandmother loved to paint. While my family always was kind when she would paint something.  It wasn’t until she passed away that her paintings took on a different appreciation. They are so valuable to me now.

I would love to see them survive for many years to come.

Are they great? Will they ever be hung in an art gallery? Absolutely not. 

That really isn’t the point. These paintings express her inspiration and in some way made her feel productive and complete. They are a reflection of who she was.

Over the years, I have always said that I write to leave something for my grand kids to read on day.

While I convince myself that this is true on some level, the truth is I write for me.

Image result for writing on a keyboardI have been given a gift of being able to write and feel complete and productive as I express myself in words.  It doesn’t matter if anyone likes them or not.  They don’t have to be good in other people’s opinion.  I do not need that affirmation to feel better about myself.

When I reflect over the past 9 years of writing this blog. I have found that I am not the same person I was from all those years ago.  From my perspective, the bitterness that I so often directed at people who did not deserve it when I was younger, has been tempered by my ability to express myself in words.  I express myself better in writing than in my spoken word.

I wasn’t planning to write anything today in this space but I find that my little writing corner on the internet gets quiet when I get away from the creation process and spiral into trying to be perfect. It’s a tiring game to think of things to write. I struggle with looking at the lives of other people who seem to have it all together and wishing I could be more like them.

Image result for express yourselfSo at 3:00 AM this morning, in a burst of inspiration, I sat down in front of my desktop.  The message is for all who read this is to find a way to express yourself.   Find a way to make your mark.  Find  a way to let people know you were here.  Express yourself your own way.

Don’t stray from you. Don’t look to other people as if they are going to start your journey for you. Sit down and find someway to express yourself.  You’ll find freedom you never thought was there.  Do your thing. Use your keys to this life that God gave you.  It’s your journey and it doesn’t belong to anyone else.  No one but you will suffer if you never take the journey.  Time is of the essence.  The time is now.  Don’t miss or grieve over the life you didn’t live.

If you are someone who creates things then make life about the creation. You can admire the creations of others but don’t waste your best hours of the day watching other people. Use your hours wisely. Do the work. Even if you only get 20 minutes in a given day to make something, make it happen.

We run around like maniacs claiming there isn’t enough time in the day. Complain over the most trivial things.  We hurt ourselves with the curse of being “busy.”

We don’t see how much time we waste with scrolling, clicking and liking.

Maybe you get wrapped up in stuff that doesn’t matter. MImage result for keys to lifeaybe you have forgotten what you truly love. Time isn’t up though. You can still go back to yourself. You can start over. You can open doors to new things. You can have a new beginning. You can find the peace and freedom of expressing yourself and leaving a mark on this earth, for the good. You can leave something that people will remember forever. You can do this.

Life hasn’t called and asked you to come and turn in your keys yet.

Start while you still have the keys. Go. 

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What is Your Purpose For Today?

I recently was in a training session for work. The question was asked, “If you could speak with any kind of expert about anything in the world, what would you want to know?”

The group came up with a lot of good questions. Most of them were about money, health, career, family and more.

But one person responded, “How can I know my life’s purpose?”Image result for what is your purpose for today

The room got really quiet. The trainer just kind of laughed it off and moved on.  It was obvious that he did not have an answer to that one.

For the rest of the day, this person’s response weighed in my mind.  

Can you relate?  I’ll bet each of us would admit that at some point, that question was at the top of our list to get the answer.

How can you know your life’s purpose?

Over the years, I remember desperately longing to know my purpose and wondering if I was somehow missing it.

For a long time, I couldn’t relax in my work (and otherwise) for fear that I was off course and somehow ruining my future.

But today, as I sat there thinking about the question, I came to this conclusion…

“What is my life’s purpose?” is one of the least helpful questions we’re all asking ourselves.

Yes… I said LEAST helpful.

Because here’s the thing – it’s unanswerable.

We’re obsessing over a question we don’t have the capacity to answer.

There’s a better question for us, one that will help focus our efforts today and lead us to where we need to be tomorrow.

That question is… “What is my purpose for today?”

Don’t you like the sound of that better?

Image result for what is your purpose for todayFar too many times, I have been wondering about the future, making plans and waiting for it to come around.  I thought that “someday” I would finally find out what my purpose in life really was. 

Will I have a great moment in history? Probably not.

Will I do or say something someday that will change the world?

Again… probably not.

Truth is… my purpose is to do and be the person I am supposed to be today.  If I take care of today… tomorrow takes care of itself.

This is the real stuff that makes a life. This is my purpose… now.

It may seem obvious, but look around. How many people in your life are waiting for some big revelation before they’ll start? 

We have no promise of a tomorrow.  Only today.

And as we do the things we know to do today, we will stumble into things we could never plan and in the process, we change the world in a thousand ways… that only we can.

How do you know what your next purpose is? I can’t say for sure, but it is not easy to find when you consider your fears and the lies swirling in your head that keep you from doing what you need to do today. 

How about doing this…

How about we start by considering the needs of those who are directly in our life?

Seems like a worthy place to start to me.

So maybe it’s time to give up trying to solve the unsolvable,

To know what’s unknowable,

To see what’s unseeable.

Maybe it’s time to ditch the question, “What is the purpose of my life?”

And replace it with, “What is my purpose for today?”

Just Keep Pedaling

Friday morning about 3:00 AM, I woke up and tossed and turned for a while before I got up and sat in my office. A story that I had never really thought about was suddenly in my thoughts.  I could not shake these thoughts from my head. I wanted them to go away so that I could go back to sleep. It didn’t happen.

What were these thoughts?

I could not shake the thoughts of when I taught my daughter, Cassidy to ride her bike.

Why did this story flood my thoughts? This happened a long time ago.

I just could not stop thinking about it. I had to get some sleep because in the morning I needed to drive my sister-in law Lynn to the Cleveland Clinic.  She has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her journey to fight and overcome it is now in front of her.

Driving home from Cleveland it started to make sense to me.

God was telling me to apply the lessons learned from this story.

The encouragement from it is directed to our family.  The call is for us to remain positive, resilient, unified in the common cause, to help Lynn overcome that which is placed in front of her.

And while it is easy to question and wonder why all of this is happening. We will remain steadfast and persistent in the confidence that God knows what He is doing. 

My hope is that this will be an encouragement to all of us and to those that may read this.

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Cassidy was ecstatic – until she noticed that I’d removed her training wheels.

“David, where are the little wheels?”

“They’re gone, You’re 5 now. You don’t need them anymore.”

“No, David; I do! I can’t ride without them. Will you please put them back?”Image result for Bicycle training wheels

“Nope, it’s time. You can do it.  I am here – I’ll help you.”

Much whining commenced, but in the end, she relented and got up on her bike to try. I assumed the position that every parent has found themselves in at some point.

Left hand on the handle bars, right hand under the seat – trying to run sideways as fast and as far as I could.  

Which as a fat man… wasn’t very fast, nor far.

And when I couldn’t keep up, I gave her a push.

“You’re doing it! Keep going!”

It was a beautiful sight… for about 3 seconds… and then she crashed… hard.

I coaxed her back up a few times, but it always ended as it had begun – Cassidy on the ground, scraped up, crying and working on a new bruise.

If you knew Cassidy at that time in life, she had quite the stubborn streak. When she’d had enough, she stood up, left her bike where it landed and began walking home.

“Cassidy… where are you going?”

“I don’t want my bike anymore, I can’t do it.”

She wasn’t trying to be dramatic. She meant it.

She didn’t see a way over the hurdle in front of her. In her mind, it was impossible for her to ride it without the crutch (those little wheels) she’d grown to expect and rely on.

So she gave up; she quit.

In that moment, my heart broke a little. The thought of her feeling incomplete or incapable in any way pierced me, even over something so small. I wanted to intervene, I wanted to force her but what could I do?

It wasn’t enough for me to believe she could do it.

She had to believe for herself.

This was her journey – and she decided she was done.

So, I picked up her bike – and walked her home.

Thankfully, that’s not how this story ends because after a few days, I talked her into trying it again. And before you credit my parenting skills of breaking the iron will that Cassidy had, I must admit, I was afraid she would give up.

Such a pivotal moment for such a young child.

Would she always back down when things that became hard and difficult?  Would she shy away in fear of failure? Would she quit when it seemed impossible?

What happened next changed my perspective on life.

Cassidy climbed up on her seat and with the best push-off I could muster, in a burst of energy and faith, she took off.

Tons of passion – not a ton of skill, so you know how that ended.

As she stood up, looking at a freshly scraped knee and then at me.  She gave me a look like only Cassidy could and I felt a chill run down my back. She was not happy.

I could almost see her standing at a crossroad.

She could retreat to where she was safe – and sad – or she could try again and move a little closer to the awesome thing waiting for her.

This moment would cut a path for her, in either direction.

I shook off her look and I ran over to her and put my face close to hers.

“Do you wanna know a secret?”

She nodded her head.

“Did you know there’s a really special trick to riding a bike that only big kids know?”

Her eyes got big and she looked at me with a puzzled look.

“What is it?” she asked.

Slowly, like I was delivering top-secret information, I whispered,

“Are you listening good?” she nodded again in approval.

“You’ve gotta steer straight, keep your head up, look forward and keep peddling.  Just keep pedaling… don’t stop!!!”

“No matter what, you can’t stop pedaling or you’ll crash. And even if you pedal really hard, if youhttps://i0.wp.com/ih0.redbubble.net/image.208559752.2472/mwo,x350,ipad_2_snap.u1.png jerk the wheel around all over the place, you’ll crash. You’ve got to keep your wheel straight, keep your head up, look forward and just keep pedaling. That’s the secret. You got it?”

“Yes” she nodded, but not quite convincing herself.

Cassidy resigned herself to give it one more try. I was nervous because if she failed again she would not ever believe me again. She would start to believe that she could not trust me.

Cassidy climbed back on and positioned her feet for takeoff. I gave her a little push and as she pulled away, I reminded her to “Steer straight and keep pedaling… Steer straight, keep your head up and keep pedaling… Steer straight, look forward and just keep pedaling… don’t stop.”

Losing her balance, she jerked the wheel far left and right a few times, but this time, she immediately corrected and steadied herself.  

Her head was held high and looking forward now, instead of down – and her courage began to swell.

She picked up speed and I whispered to myself, as if I could will her to get it right, “Come on Cassidy… steer straight and keep pedaling… don’t stop.”

With herImage result for A little girl riding her bike wheels turning faster and faster, moving farther away from me, I yelled out one last time… “Steer straight and keep pedaling!!”

“Don’t stop!!”

And in that single moment, right before my eyes, I watched Cassidy step out of her past and into her future.

It’s rare that we get to see someone’s moment of breakthrough so clearly. Watching it up close was inspiring – not because she learned to ride her bike – but because she overcame her fear and the lie playing in her head that she couldn’t do it.

What had been impossible for Cassidy just a day before not only became possible – it became reality.

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Lynn… in the coming weeks and months there will be times that you will struggle.  There will be times when you want to quit. We know the challenge that you are facing. Days will seem impossible. You’ll fight the urge to quit.

You most certainly will have doubts.  But know this… we are here. 

With one hand on the handlebar, the other under the seat.  If you fall…  we will help you get back up.

We will hold you until God takes over.

Lean in with your head up and keep pedaling.

When you think, you can’t, when experience says it won’t work, when the pain affects your will, and when you bear the bruises and scars of previous attempts…

Be Brave… keep steering straight, keep your head up, look forward and keep pedaling.

Don’t stop. We are here… to win it… with you.

As a family, we will press on. We will encourage each other.

We will stay the course. We will remain #CASESTRONG.

In the valleys that are in front of Lynn, we are comforted by knowing that God will not leave her there.  Because we know that God knows what He is doing.

Steer straight Lynn… keep your head up, look forward and don’t ever stop pedaling.