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A Stroke of Genius

It’s that time year again. For thousands of us in the #OneWord365 community, December is the launch pad for discovering our new ‘One Word.’ Identifying one single word to focus on over the entire next year.

I’m writing this exactly 6 weeks after my wife and I chose to make a significant transition (and it’s Christmas Eve). We’re calling it our #LifeReset. We downsized, quit our jobs, and moved to the Oregon Coast. We began new careers as many have in this ‘great resignation.’ The Coast has always been a place of beautiful vacation memories with our kids. For both of us, there is just something awe-inspiring about the ocean waves crashing against the rocks. The salty air. The sand between your toes. It’s simply magical!

I gaze at the champagne-splashed waves rolling over the sandy abyss, the deep blue sky above hanging out with a gathering of bleached-white clouds, and the evening horizon which artistically displays God’s stroke of genius with brushes of fire red, blood orange, and tropical yellow. Our creator is an artisan.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭19:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A huge part of our transition involved creativity. We started with a blank canvas, envisioned what we would love for our next 10-20 years to look like, and then started dipping our brushes in various pigments. Along the way, God has been so gracious in providing us with quality paint.

I offer all of that to say that I have located my One Word for 2022.

Paint: to depict as having specified or implied characteristics.

In 2022 I plan to ‘Paint’ my tomorrow, career, marriage, mental and spiritual health with the mediums of Joy and Peace. I will do this by tapping into God’s stroke of genius, borrowing His brushes, and asking Him to guide my hand in every movement.

So, what do you plan to focus on in the next year? Do you have One Word for 2022? I’d love to hear from you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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The Ocean Is Calling Us

Exactly 4 years ago we felt God drawing us to serve in Yakima, WA. And it’s been an incredible ride! We’ve made so many new friends, gained additional family members via marriage, and witnessed God do things that led our jaws to drop. Honestly, I don’t think we would’ve imagined ever leaving Yakima.

BUT…

It’s also been a couple years of financial, physical, and emotional challenge. We’ve been primarily working at Winco Foods making slightly more than minimum wage. Cailey (my beautiful wife) has been working hard in regular therapy to deal with some childhood traumas. Both of us have held multiple additional part-time jobs in the last 3 years just to help make ends meet. On top of all that our landlord just sold the home we’ve been renting for 1 year.

These issues recently caused us to rethink our current situation. A huge factor in this we owe directly to our oldest son, Garrett. He was home on leave from the Navy in September. Over dinner one day he shared his concern for us burning the candle at both ends with a flame-thrower. And he proceeded to challenge us to ‘dream big.’ He asked, “What changes to your lives can you make that would position you in a happier, safer, and more secure place?”

We left dinner that night kind of in shock…in a good way. Then Cailey took it a step further. She said to me, “What the heck. Let’s try to dream BIG!” If we could live anywhere we want and change our careers so that neither of us would need a second job what would that look like? What kind of employment would that require?

We have always loved the Oregon Coast. In addition to its beauty, we had a tradition of taking family vacations there most summers with the kids when they were younger. So we began tossing our resumes to employment opportunities on the coast. Newport surfaced quickly in our ‘test’ search. Cailey worked in banking earlier in our marriage, and will be sliding back into that. She enjoys it and this will provide a regular schedule with almost no stress. This is what she wants/needs. I will be doing counseling/social services with a non-profit agency that offers much needed resources to families in multiple coastal counties.

We are incredibly grateful for all our kids. Their support and encouragement in this “life reset” has meant the world to us.

I’m sharing this post just 4 days after arriving in Newport, OR. Multiple obstacles and change of plans hit us along the way here. The truck cost WAY MORE than we estimated, averaging only 7 miles per gallon! Housing is tight like it is most places, so we are making our temporary home in a cozy hotel room for an undetermined number of weeks while we look for what’s available.

In spite of all the difficulties, God is still working on our behalf! He has provided just enough in the moments when our faith was weak but resolute. Here’s a thought I read in my devotional titled, ‘Navigating Transition.’

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

This quote connects to our life reset, and I would venture to say even more broadly to how the pandemic has impacted us. Cailey and I didn’t LEAVE people, circumstances, and hardships in Yakima. Rather, we RAN TOWARD change, health, and discovery together in Newport.

(My world in a single picture!)

That’s enough for now. We’ll be sharing tons more over the coming months on our LIFE RESET and incredible journey of following Jesus into the crazy unknown. We’d love to hear from you. Drop a comment below, leave a prayer, or encourage us to remain connected to friends and family.

Until next time…..

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You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram! Here’s a little about me if you’re interested.

COVID Life Sucks, but God Still Offers Peace!

(Not a political blog post, but one of personal struggle and faith)

I live in Washington State. Yesterday, our governor announced a state-wide mask mandate for everyone regardless of vaccination status.

Now, I have made the personal choice to receive the vaccine. But I was against it for a very long time. It simply bothers me that government institutions are pressing heavily on people to get a vaccine injected into their body that to this day still has not been approved as safe and effective by the FDA. I chose to get it on my own timing and for my own reasons. And I completely support those who have chosen not to get it.

This entire discussion will change once the FDA fully approves it.

For now, however, we are stuck with a gigantic question. How do we approach daily life at work and at home with positivity and hope when virtually everything we see in the news and that is being forced upon us by our elected officials points to despair and frustration?

I have come to realize something this week. Allowing ourselves to float aimlessly down the river of societal unrest not only does not help us, but it actually causes us to get more unhealthy. Our clarity of thought, mental health, and overall outlook on our world gets flushed down a truck stop toilet when you and I allow mainstream news outlets, social media, Hollywood, and self-serving politicians to shape how we decide to live our day and treat others.

Do you agree?

I spent the entire evening last night feeling sick to my stomach. My anxiety was higher than it’s been in months. “Take slow, deep breaths. Stop looking at the news” I would try to tell myself.

I slept 9 hours last night and I still awoke feeling like I had been drug on the ground behind a running horse through the desert. After taking my wife to work I came home, took a shower, and sat down at the table with God, His word, and my journal. It was time to have a discussion.

Next, I was reminded of the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5 tells us these traits are ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’ These are character traits that God hopes His followers will develop for every season of life.

One of my favorite quotes over the last 30 years comes from pastor and author, Charles Swindoll. He says, “My attitude is made up of 10% my circumstances, and 90% how I react to them.”

Ouch!!! My 90% reaction last night contained none of the above-mentioned 9 Spiritual traits.

This is what led me to write this post today. I am a pastor and follower of Jesus. If that’s you as well, we are called by God to be set apart from the norms of the world. God asks us to stand out in how we love and how we posture ourselves when facing fear, frustration, and uncertain times.

May I encourage you today? Especially if you have been feeling similar to me recently, take time first thing in the morning and again right before bed to meditate on God, His goodness, His promises, and His power. I’m going to do my best to do this too.

I’ll leave you with this. Yes, I have very strong opinions on how our leaders are facilitating the COVID situation, what’s occurring in Afghanistan, racial injustices, the current labor shortage in America. But when it boils down to it, our character and public posture must be shaped by God’s word and strength, NOT by the social issues that dominate today’s news headlines.

Do you agree? What do you struggle with most today? Have you figured out how to keep yourself centered and positive in the midst of the current chaos we live in, or do you struggle like I do?

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram! Here’s a little about me if you’re interested.

Contentment Is Learned

I don’t make enough money. I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Workplace negativity annoys me. Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others.

Can you relate, or am I alone on this?

While all of these statements are true for me in my head, I also recognize that the magnitude of their truth only grows when I give it permission.

I don’t make enough money. Actually, I do. ‘Enough’ is relative. I have enough because God always provides for my needs. I may not have excess, but excess is not essential.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. True…but I could have went to bed earlier. I wasn’t proactive.

Workplace negativity annoys me. Ok, so why don’t I choose to allow it to energize me to be an element for change toward more positivity?

Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others. It is what it is. I’m not going to singlehandedly change societal behaviors, most of which are personal pet peeves anyway. I even talked with my therapist about this. (Yes I’m in therapy. Healthy people seek help while unhealthy people remain unhealthy in their solitude) She challenged me, “Why are you allowing others (strangers) to occupy so much of your limited emotional capacity?” Yeah, good question.

You see, all of these examples of mine are choices. Choices for action or mindset. Choosing to take the better path is usually more difficult and requires conscious effort. But we CAN do it!

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬

The apostle Paul wrote this in one of his letters while imprisoned. He had learned to be content because of his past experiences, both of pain and joy. He shares that in every circumstance he has learned the ability to ‘do all things’ in order to live in contentment because of the strength made available to him through Jesus.

Now, you and I don’t always have the ability to change the circumstances around us. But we do have choices regarding how we model walking through them.

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What If Pike’s Peak Disappeared?

God’s love for you and I is more consistent, guaranteed, and tangible than it is for mountains and hills to be in their same place each morning.

Our family lived in Colorado Springs for a couple years. The front range was majestic. And Pike’s Peak could be seen virtually from any location in town. Residents could count on it being there.

And yet, scripture tells us that it’s more likely for Pike’s Peak to disappear than it is for God’s love for us to cease.

Rest in that truth today. And if you are finding it hard to believe, take that to God. Be honest with Him. He only has warm, open arms for you.

Be blessed.

Subscribe to the blog newsletter HERE to stay in the loop with an occasional email from me (not enough to be annoying).

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram! Here’s a little about me if you’re interested.

Strive For Joy!

At the time of this post the Presidential election is still not called. Regardless of who you voted for, I think it’s safe to assume that most of us are very ANXIOUS to know who will be leading our country for the next 4 years.

But I was reminded this morning of a directive & encouraging promise that God offers us.

“Do not be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7

We must pray with urgency and gratitude to God our Father. Then, his unexplainable PEACE will get us through this season, and the next, and the next….

Remember, God already knows who wins this election. May God bless our President, and may God bless America.

Stay safe, be healthy, be kind.

How Worry Distracts Us, And What To Do About It

Are you feeling anxious today? If you’re like me, a more accurate question is ‘When am I NOT anxious?’
worry 2
I regularly worry about our ability to pay the bills, my health, retirement, etc, etc, etc.
‘Do not be anxious about your life’ (Mt. 6:25)… this is literally talking about not worrying about tomorrow. The clothing, food, shelter, etc. When we worry about tomorrow we display how weak our faith is (v. 30).
worry 1
We have a real enemy, and I’m not going to flatter him by even mentioning his name. worry 3One of his most effective attacks on you and I is to misguide our focus. He wants us to worry about tomorrow and all the what-ifs. Because we make ourselves more vulnerable to his attacks when our faith is weak. He knows that our faith will remain strong when we remain highly focused on all the ways God is blessing, providing, protecting, and using us in our current moment…TODAY.
You know what I really love about God’s Word? That for everything it instructs us NOT to do, it provides a healthy alternative TO DO. Check out verse 33.
‘But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’
‘All these things will be added to you’ – God promises to provide all the things that we worry about if we only focus our concerns on today, and specifically Kingdom issues. The things that God is concerned about. Why? Because Kingdom issues are always things that are bigger than us. They take our eyes off of ourselves and onto a larger, more important purpose.
owrry 4The vast majority of our anxiety is rooted in worrying about the things that God promises to provide for us. So what is it that causes us to doubt him, to lose faith? What does this look like for you?

 

Join the discussion and LEAVE A COMMENT below.

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I Don’t Like Wearing Pants!

Ok, let me explain.

Not wearing any pants is frowned upon in most parts of our society. But I’m talking about shorts! I love wearing shorts. They breathe, and are simply more comfortable than full-length pants.

pants

And today is the first day I’ve gotten to wear shorts after a very long, snowy winter here in central WA State. It’s a small thing, but it makes me very happy. And somehow putting my shorts on this morning reminded me of soul care.

Taking time to actually take care of you when needed is unfortunately viewed today (by some) as being selfish. But if we are careful and pay close attention to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health, we will quickly learn to recognize those moments that we need to change things up a bit.

What does that look like? It’s different for everybody. Take an afternoon nap on the couch. Read a good book at your favorite coffee shop. Go for a long walk. Take a trip to the beach or go camping.

My wife and I take a 24/hr Sabbatical every two months. We try to get out of town, go offline and off of social media, ignore our phones and email, pray, read, journal, and enjoy solitude. And for those of us who are believers, we can count numerous references in the Bible that instruct and model the practice of good soul care.

Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” – 1 Kings 19:7  Sometimes the journey IS too much for us. So we must eat, drink water, regain our strength so we can continue moving forward.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” – Mark 1:35  We read about Jesus doing this often! He got alone and spent some quiet time with God. But it was a ‘solitary place.’ Jesus removed himself from people.

So, what’s the purpose in practicing comfort and soul care? I’ll tell you. It interrupts our chaotic rhythms of life so that hopefully we might rest and take honest inventory of ourselves. It’s like stepping off the football field and sitting down at Row 50 on the 50 yard line. That athlete has a better vantage point than the rest of the players on the field. He has stepped out of his current reality and into a place where he can see the bigger picture all at once.

Challenge: Take time to determine what your personal Soul Care plan might looks like. Or what it NEEDS to look like. Write it down, pick a date and time, and then make it happen!

I’d love to hear about your experience with this.  Join the discussion and LEAVE A COMMENT below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

Are You Failing Today?

Living a life with Jesus doesn’t mean a life void of difficulty. Man, this is so true! In fact, at times it can feel as if it actually invites catastrophe. Of course, we know this is not the case. At the point that we step over into Christianity our eyes became opened. God’s light (truthilluminates our world around us. We are now simply aware of the spiritual battles going on all around us that we were blind to before this new life.

So, how are we to journey through the multiple valleys, difficulties, and dark seasons of life as a person of faith? 

failure

Paul, the author of a significant portion of the New Testament, shared with us very authentically his own struggle in the faith.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?  Romans 7:17-24 (MSG) 

Can you relate? I know I can. You’re not alone! Every one of us struggle. And still, God used Paul as a major catalyst in the early Church. Paul’s last questions here are a bit poetic. He’s not completely hopeless as it appears. Let’s continue reading.

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans 7:25 (MSG)

The power of Jesus resides within us. When we stay closely connected to him he gives us the strength, direction, fortitude, and endurance to do the good we desire to do, and turn from the distractions of the enemy.

I’d love to hear what you think and how I can pray for you. Leave a comment below.

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How To Choose Joy In The Tough Things

Jethani

Last week I had the privilege to hear Skye Jethani speak at our District Pastors’  Conference.

This is a quote from his talk that really grabbed my attention. Let me provide a little context.

Examples of some things we DO NOT choose: medical diagnosis, unemployment, depression, ministry calling, where we are born, divorce, changes in social behavior, our parents, etc.

Some of these can be GOOD, and we all know that some can equally be UNFAVORABLE.

Now, it’s easy for us to choose JOY in the things we actually choose; things we had a say in. But it’s another issue when a life circumstance makes its way into our lives that we have little to no control over.

The REAL QUESTION to ask, then, is this. Does God have a purpose for me in this particular situation? And even though I DON’T LIKE IT, can I embrace it as my current reality and TRUST GOD to work through me?

So you see, making a conscious decision to choose (own) what we didn’t actually choose in the first place can be a real game changer.

What UNCHOSEN circumstance are you in today? What might it look like if you chose to OWN IT?

I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below. You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!