Daily “I” Exam

Kr's left eyekals eye

Today………

I don’t have to have clear sight of the final step.  I just have to have enough faith to take the next one.

I will not allow hurry to enter my world.

I don’t have to finish everything.  I just have to make steady progress.

I will accept responsibility for my own failures.  I refuse to blame.

I will not take actions that require apologies tomorrow.

I will learn from my mistakes.

I will pray.

I will give thanks to my Heavenly Father for all things.

I will forgive.

I will not ask for help if I can do it myself.

I will not over-react.

I will look for the bright side in every situation.

I’ll remember that I am weak but He is strong.

I will know how valued I am as a child of the King.

I refuse to allow discouragement to stick around.

I will be slow to anger.

I will search for eternal perspective in all of life’s situation’s.

I will allow God’s word to transform my mind daily.

I will lead patiently.

I will give.

I will smile.

I will laugh, and others will laugh with me.

I will sing, even when I don’t know the words.

I will learn something new.

I will encourage, pat somone on the back as I pass by.

I will listen.

I will approach my work as if doing it for the Lord.  I will not half-way do anything.

I will be a peacemaker.

I will choose my words wisely.

I will cheer others.

I won’t sweat the small stuff, but I will celebrate small victories.

I will value people more than tasks and schedules.

I will remain calm in the storms, knowing God is with me.

I will make myself last, not first.

I will model a life worth living. Someone is always watching. I AM a role model.

I will love.

I will make the most of today, knowing that God holds every tomorrow.

 

 

 

I’m Not a Freaking Idiot

we're not babies

Napoleon Dynamite gets offended when his grandma tells him that’s she sending a relative over to look after him and his 32 year-old brother while she is away.

I find myself getting irritated in much the same manner, getting fired up because I’m fooled into believing that I’m entitled to be treated or spoken to in a certain manner.

“Nobody talks to me the way!  Who do you think you are?”

When I was younger, I found myself in constant conflict, especially in the workplace because I thought somebody was insulting me, trying to push me around, or talking down to me.  Those conflicts have mostly disappeared over time because of two main reasons:

1) Consistent improvement in the basic ability to do the right thing.  One tends to get pretty defensive when one is challenged about something that you knowingly did wrong or failed to do at all.  It becomes much easier to stand your ground without becoming confrontational (and to let insults and challenges roll off your back) as you progress toward being a person who does what they’re supposed to do as well as doing exactly what you say you will do.

2) Learning (slowly) to recognize the times when my own pride leads me to react in ways that simply aren’t righteous or healthy in relationships.

Proverbs 14:3   A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.

“I’m not an idiot.  I deserve a little respect.”

Respect is earned, not commanded……over time.  Obeying God’s commands consistently over time and serving others instead of self accomplishes this……over time, as long as we avoid the mentality of “hey, look at me” and “don’t they know what I have done, don’t they know who I am”.   I will concede that it does sometimes become necessary when dealing with our own children to paint them a little picture of sacrifices that are made for them in order to help them discover the concept of respect and gratitude.  But in general terms, if you are doing the things that earn respect, it shouldn’t be necessary to demand that someone show you respect.

Proverbs 13:10  Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

So as pride diminishes, so does strife, conflict.  But pride never quietly fades away.  We must always be aware of its presence, aware of the times when it falsely guides our thoughts, actions and reactions:
“Karrick, I’m going out the door, don’t fall back asleep and make Kal late for school.”  And PRIDE answers in my head, “yeah, I know, I’m not a freaking idiot.  I’ve been doing this for a while you know.  I deserve to be treated like a responsible adult here!”  But TRUTH says 1) I need to get my tail out of bed  2) I failed to earn respect because I have a history of fouling up little matters like this.
What about coaching basketball games, engaging in conflict with referees?  Not because of bad calls, that comes with the territory.   I say it often, but it’s a poor excuse for poor behavior, “I don’t mind bad officiating, I just can’t stand it when they’re jerks about it.”  Translation= they challenged me or took actions that tried to show me who was in control.  PRIDE on my part answered “I’m not looking for a fight, but I’m not taking a step back either”.  And……even though I tell my players to take care of the things that they control and the things that are important, I fail in that very area.  PRIDE tells me to keep taking steps forward.  Conflict escalates.  The things that are truly important in a basketball game, in life…….are pushed aside.  Derailed by pride.  Losing sight of things that are truly important: people, relationships, the direction of my influence, and my representation of my faith and my Savior.
It’s a dangerous thing to be distracted in life in instances where we allow ourselves to be controlled by feelings of “what we deserve”.  I’m certain that I don’t want to dig and fight too hard in this life for what I truly deserve.

Learning To Give

my boysBengals trip 2012.  Who Dey!

An act of kindness.

Some people aren’t very skilled or willing when it comes to recognizing opportunities and taking action.  I would be one of those people.   That’s where my wife comes in; recognizing needs of others, lending a hand willingly, and sometimes letting me know when I’m guilty of living in oblivion.

She became involved in an outreach program through our church where she became a “football mom” to 3 or 4 student athletes each year at Kentucky Christian University.  I assume the spirit of the program has been to give young men, that are many times 1000+ miles from home, a connection with a local family and to make the transition a bit easier for life far away from home and family.
A support system.

Typical football mom duties would include taking snacks, homemade cookies, etc.  to campus or inviiting football players into our home for a home-cooked meal.  Some kids don’t have a need or desire for this type of support system, so it basically has given us a chance to develop relationships with one or two “assigned” players each year.

Our family has had the pleasure of developing friendships with quite a few of these young men over the last three years, but one player in particular seems to have had a huge impact on my faith in ways that I never could have imagined.
Dominique wasn’t one of our assigned players but was a friend of some of our “regulars” and showed up at our house with a group of players one evening after a home game. Quiet young man, pretty hard to engage in conversation with. Reminded me so much of myself at that age. Pretty sure he fell asleep on a loveseat that first night and I convinced him to stay the night instead of driving back to campus, sleep in my son’s bed.
I don’t remember the conversation I had with my wife that night, but I remember how it ended, “Kristy, I really think he needs us, needs to be part of our family.” Of course I didn’t know what the heck that meant.
But God has a way of clearing things up a LOT…..when we trust Him even just a LITTLE. I’ve never been the “loving” type. I have crazy love for my family but I’m pretty private and stingy with the rest of the world. You know, just loving the people that are easy to love. Keeping a tight circle and being very reluctant to let others enter into it.  And I’ve said it many times, “we may not be able to see any particular way that we are gifted to serve God, but we can all love”. I knew it, but I never lived it.
Dominique became a regular at our house, sometimes showing up out of the blue by himself, sometimes with friends. And what may have seemed strange at times, seems so cool to me now. The times he would be at our house for a good length of time before we even knew he was here, settled in front of the tv watching a football game. The times he seemed discouraged with circumstances and I tried to find the right questions and give the right words of encouragement….and struggled. The times he helped himself to whatever was in the fridge and  did piles of laundry here (just like I used to do at my parent’s).
When I put all those things together, it paints the greatest picture. Dominique has become exactly like one of our own children, doing exactly as our children do in our home.
A level of comfort that has grown out of love and trust, I hope.
Small gestures here and there, nothing deep and personal.  Just a place to feel loved, welcomed…..comfortable.
At some point, I realized that I had a genuine concern for his wellbeing, and this was not a feeling that was common to me.
Clarity came on Father’s Day this year just how God has used him as a wonderful blessing in the life of me and my family. I was sitting in church on that Sunday morning when a text popped up on my phone (no I don’t text in church, but I made an exception).
Happy Father’s Day
“Thanks, that means a lot that you thought of me today”
You’ve always treated me like a son.
BOOM
Tears filled my eyes as I passed my phone over to my wife. It hit me so hard, the realization of my years of failure at loving others the way that God desires.  And I realized that I’m not the same man that I was before I met Dominique.

I love this young man. My family loves this young man.  I thought I could be a blessing in his life.

It seems clear now that God placed him in my life to change me, to teach me how to love.
Dominique plays his last college football game today. I hope I have honored him in some way by sharing this.
Good luck today, old buddy. And thanks for helping me find my way.  Thankful that God has placed you in our life.

dominique

Honored to be your “football dad”.

Blindsided From the Front

distraction sign
I should have seen that coming.
But I didn’t, even though I’d been there before.
Maybe more than once.
Falling victim to the same temptation.
The same bad reaction in a familiar situation.
Feelings hurt and relationships damaged.
I could have changed direction, changed my course,
“if I’d only seen it coming.”
Uh…..so why didn’t I see it coming?
I coach middle school basketball and sometimes it’s difficult to
hold back my sarcastic nature.  The thought in my brain that rarely
escapes my lips is this,
How many times are you going to do it in a way completely opposite of the way
you have been instructed, and keep getting unfavorable results…….
before you commit to doing it the right way and getting positive results?
Gee, you think God has a sarcastic side?  I guess not.
But I’m sure I could stir it up pretty regularly by ignoring His commands from His word.
Proverbs 22:3 “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
danger sign  
On the simplest level, it reminds us that we have to recognize danger ahead and steer away from it.
The next level of this is to commit to not repeating the same mistakes over and over.
On a deeper level, we have to learn to recognize our own patterns of vulnerability.
Identify situations when we are most likely to be at our worst, our weakest.
Don’t let your guard down.  Do not be distracted.
Exercise caution in times of physical pain or fatigue and emotional pain or stress.
Living your life at a high rate of speed, relying only on your own strength and limited wisdom?
All these things open the doors of temptation.
And so we find ourselves, time after time, in situations where we do things that we know we shouldn’t do
or don’t like ourselves for doing, failing to even recognize temptation until it’s too late.
But our blind spots shouldn’t be blind spots when we’ve been through them time and again.
Blind spot for me?
Being short, grouchy, or simply inattentive to loved ones who desire and deserve more from me. 
We cannot ignore the situations that we know we are sure to face and fail to have the vision
required to face them the way God desires.
Invite God into situations early and often.  Study His word with an open heart and mind
with an eager desire to transfrom your way of thinking into His way.
My defenses are low, I feel like terrible physically, I am short on patience, I feel overwhelmed with life
……..these things may happen, I won’t be surprised!
Look ahead, plan ahead…..look up.  Pray!  Seek strength and direction from God.
Reflect on past mistakes and failures for the purpose of changing your course moving forward.
Know exactly “how you will not react” and “how you will react”
in moments of weakness.  See danger, steer away from it.
Sometimes it’s as simple as making plans to keep your mouth closed.
Know where those weak spots are and don’t walk into them with your eyes closed.
God will be there waiting when you come to those moments.
Awareness of His presence, love, and strength must come BOTH before and during crisis situations.
Failure comes when we continue to invite Him in only after we screw up.

Is Your Story Worth Telling?

I’ve heard many times of the importance of Christians being able to tell their “story”
How they came to accept Christ as their savior.
Circumstances and people that led them to this point, and the changes in their life after being born again in Christ.
new life old life
Of course I’d never done this because
1) I just didn’t find my own story to be of any interest to other people and
2) Men only take action out of necessity and I’d never actually had to do it.
But I had the opportunity to do something for my church where being able to tell my story seemed to be a necessary preparation.
Also felt the need to be able to explain why I choose to attend my church.
Result?
 I still don’t find my story very intersting and I don’t have any interest in telling it to stadium sized crowds.
metallica_concert1
But…..this reflection of my life, where I was and where I’ve been compared to where I am now,
and the prize that I work toward and try to influence others toward……
overwhelmed me with a greater understanding, appreciation, and love for the people that God has placed in my life along the way.
So what IS my story?
That salvation can come in that moment,
but true change (consistently growing in faith, love, and understanding God’s word) is a lifelong effort.
It is slowed down terribly by guys who employ an “I got this” attitude and fail to embrace the concept of surrendering to God.
Surrender-Control
Our growth is crippled by using our own strength and vision instead of our almighty Father’s.
So why do I go to FCC Grayson?
Because that is where God has placed all the people who He has apparently placed in charge of destroying the old me.
They probably don’t even know what their job description is or has been,
but they have been willing to allow God to use them to do all those little things along the way that show no immediate results.
I am definitely left with a deeper appreciation for my church family.
God uses ordinary people to do amazing things.
So even if you don’t want to tell your story , we should all make it a point to at least know our story.
Get a clearer picture of how God has used others to work by faith in your life.
Only then can we see more clearly just how He can use us to make an impact in the lives of others.
My life each day is my story.  If I do it in a way that honors God, one person and one relationship and one encounter at a time…….
Only then do I become a credible messenger of His story.

Through the Eyes of A Child

 kal cincy
A different perspective.
It’s good sometimes to see things through the innocent eyes of a child.
I took my 7 year-old son Kal to his first Reds game today.
The Clark Griswold came out in me (“getting there is half the fun”),
so we took the scenic route through the roughest parts of Newport, KY (vintage Pabst Blue Ribbon & Weideman signs on every corner bar,
wiedemann
steel bars over store windows, dirty streets, houses in disrepair…..”roll em up”).
I saw a crumbling 150 year-old brick house painted with a horrid color of blue, separated from the dirty street only by 3 feet of broken sidewalk.
But Kal saw it differently, “Dad, look at that pretty blue house.  That’s my favorite color.”
I saw a 77 Buick with a cracked & shredding vinyl top, unmatched paint and tires, and a spare tire sitting in the middle of the road for some unknown reason.
But Kal’s perspective was different once again, “Dad, look at all these old cars…..how cool they are.”
I saw block after block of hopelessness; homes, cars, and streets showing no sign of pride or upkeep, wouldn’t want to drive through it at night or walk through it in the day.
But Kal didn’t see it this way,
“Dad, what’s the name of this town?
These houses look like they might be haunted, and they’re pretty ratchet, but this place is awesome!”
I saw only signs of people struggling through a sad existence.
Kal saw things as being unique, special!
God has placed beauty…..good…..all around us. 
When we fail to see it or find it, it may be time to find a different perspective.
He also fills this world with beautiful people; God does not make mistakes.
We can’t simply love the obviously nice, pretty, and desirable people.
Refuse to judge by appearance.
Matthew 5:47  (New Century Version)  “And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than other people. Even those who don’t know God are nice to their friends.”
See things, see people…..through the innocent eyes of a child.
Search for a perspective that matches our Heavenly Father’s.
Hope for the lost depends on this.
Absence of hope only happens when we collectively judge “what someone deserves.”…..when we turn away……fail to love.
hilton head 2013 etc 116Seeing things for the first time, through the eyes of a child.

Control Freak 101

Man, life is tough being married to a control freak!
Just kidding.  Some of you kept reading, waiting for the boom.
“Man, is he really gonna blast his wife like that?  She’ll kill him!”
Riding down the highway one day with a friend who shall remain nameless,
he sensed that his driving made a little antsy.
When he asked if his driving made me uncomfortable, my response was,
“I’m not as comfortable as I’d be if I was driving”. 
 control freak
I guess I am more guilty of being a control freak than I realize or want to admit.
Always wanting to control, not only where I’m going, but how fast (or slow in my case) I get there,
and every turn along the way.
Not really a good trait when combined with a perceived possession of a crystal ball and an appetite for instant gratification.  Translation=
I look at situations and think I know exactly what result my involvement will bring,
and I choose to do nothing if that result is not an immediate positive one. 
People who find themselves in a bad place over and over due to bad decisions……..I’m not gonna do anything to help,
they’ll just screw up again.
Or that person who has no interest in church or a relationship with Jesus……
their family has done everything they can and prayed relentlessly for them over the years.
My actions surely won’t make a difference.
But it’s a terrible mistake to act only when we can safely predict an immediate favorable result.
God’s timing is not our timing.
The action that I take or fail to take today may be only the first step or the last in a long process.
My actions could be the beginning of an answered prayer on someone else’s part.
I don’t have to be able to see the end!  I just have to know Who will be there for every step.
God’s intervention can happen whenever His people act in faith and trust Him with the results and the timing of those results
……..instead of playing control freak and fortune teller.
Keep praying, don’t give up, and be ready to move even when it doesn’t make sense.
And stop stomping your foot in search of that passenger side brake…..it’s not there.
Trust.

Proverbs 3:5

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;