Epiphany Denied

My deal is that I’m constantly trying to improve myself.  Seems great.  Except that I’m all about the books and podcasts and blogs and Instagram motivational pictures, and all that stuff.  But I’m a little light on the actual… improvement.  I know what I need to do.  I just don’t do it.  I came to the firm conclusion that I just don’t want to change.  I was listening to Tony Robbins and he made an excellent point.  Change doesn’t actually take a long time.  Preparation for change takes a long time.  It takes years of fighting with diets without losing any weight.  Because you don’t really follow them.  But at some point, in an instant moment, you just finally decide that you’re going to get healthy.  And you do.  And it wasn’t the years of working on change that did it.  It was the instantaneous decision that this time it was for real and you really were going to pursue your health.

So my assumption was that this invariably was the result of an epiphany moment.  That moment when suddenly everything in your life became crystal clear.  You saw your true purpose and the clear path to pursue it.  Your calling in life is revealed to you.  And motivation is no longer an issue because you’ve had this epiphany.  And from that moment on, everything was different.  Smooth sailing.  Almost effortless because your goals and mission and purpose were suddenly aligned.

Oh, and that’s not something you create.  It’s something that happens TO YOU.  And it comes from God.  So I would pray for it.  A lot.  And I would hear stories about other people having these epiphany moments.  And I’d wish I could have one.  And I’d pray for one.  A lot.

And I wouldn’t get one.  Like… ever.  Nope.  No epiphany moment.  No swinging wide the floodgates of change.  Nothing.

Epiphany denied.

I was sitting in church a couple of weeks ago and it hit me.  I’m never going to get one.  Other people get one because it’s right for them.  God knows them perfectly and knows they will change their lives based on that epiphany.  But he knows me too.  And he knows that he could toss an epiphany at me and I’d squander it.  I’m not saying that to be down on myself.  It doesn’t make me a bad person.  It just means I’m not someone who instantly turns their life around on a dime because of an epiphany event.  So why would God give one to me?

So I figured God has stuck me into this life that I’m in and has given me a healthy dose of dissatisfaction.  Not because my life is bad.  But because I know I could bring more to my life and those around me than I do.  That type of dissatisfaction.  It’s a healthy type of dissatisfaction.  And I have a lot of it.  But I just never seem to take the action needed satisfy it.

Work is an excellent example.  I have a great job, but I don’t make my production goals on a daily basis.  Often I miss them by a lot.  In prior jobs I would excel to a point based on people liking me.  (Who wouldn’t??  I’m fantastic.)  But at some point the extent to which people like you fades into the background and you need to produce.  And I wouldn’t produce.  And it would be time to move on.  I’d be smart enough to see it coming and I’d bail and look for a new job and I’d get one, and often a better one.  I moved up and up and up.  And finally I was fired from a sales job because I just wasn’t hitting my production.  It finally caught up to me.  So I left an entire industry this time and went to law school.  And I did well.  But after a while the production slid, but I was able to hide again and I pulled through with decent grades.  On to being a lawyer.

And then I get this job as a lawyer.  The same one I have now.  Ten years.  That’s a long time for a guy who has production issues.  Why hasn’t this one blown up yet?  Even though year after year I’ve missed my mark?  Because my employer has made the decision to stick with me.  And I’ve given them plenty of reasons to bail on me.  But they just refuse.  To be honest, there have been times that I wish they would have fired me.  Because then I could replace my anger with myself around production with anger at them for firing me.  And I could hide from it again.  Start fresh.  Again.

But they just won’t do it.  Even worse, they keep giving me greater incentive to stay.  Better benefits.  Good raises.  What is the deal?

And I have figured it out.  This is the ultimate denial of an epiphany, and a denial of my ability to hide my weakness on production.  None of my excuses work any more.  And running on personality alone ran dry years ago.  It’s been a decade.  And they’ve turned the heat up.  I have to produce this year.  Time is up.  And I am.  I’m finally producing the quality and quantity of work that I’ve been capable of all along.

So why go through all this personal story.  The point I guess I’m trying to make is that God knows us better than we know ourselves.  When I was asking for an epiphany I didn’t really want one.  It would be more accurate to say that I just wanted God to solve this production issue for me.  I’d rather not develop myself.  Let’s just have God wave his wand and fix me all up.  Nothing required from me before.

I know God pretty well and that just not usually how he works.  At least not in my life.  My struggle and journey to solve this central problem in my life has taught me everything about myself.  It’s actually forced me to accept that there are things that are RIGHT about me, where I normally prefer to just focus on everything that is wrong.  It was the equivalent of God being the best friend that shoves you out onto the dance floor in high school because he knows you can dance if you’ll just quit talking yourself out of it.

Not really super organized thoughts or lessons on this post, I suppose.  But I’m feeling grateful for a God who denies us the very thing we want the most because he knows us better than we know ourselves.  And I’m thankful that I don’t leave work feeling like crap about myself every day.  This life is a pretty good life.  I suppose that’s about all that’s on my mind today.

Thanks for reading.  Go be a hero, okay?

We’re cheap crappy mulch. And that’s good.

Something snapped in my head this morning. The current Christian church is hammering away at how God loves you even though you’re a mess, even though you’re broken, even though you’re not perfect.

And that’s all true. But crap, dude, I’m sick of hearing about it. Listen, if you’re in a place where you think you’re too big of a mess for God to love you, you’re wrong. It’s as simple as that. Just get over it. God loves you. And he’s got some crap he needs you to take care of, so just… GRRR. Get over it.

And then it started hitting me. God created all of us. And I operate under the belief that he’s not an idiot and doesn’t screw up. So why are we all so broken? Okay, bust out the theology about the original sin, and blah blah blah my eyes roll back into my head and I want to take a nap.

My thought turned to this: What if God didn’t screw up? What if we’re NOT broken? Well that doesn’t work perfectly. There’s some crap about me that is definitely broken. Okay, what else? What is this thought trying to creep up to the top of my head?

And then it hit me. We’re mulch. We’re cheap, low level, throw-away mulch. And it’s AWESOME! Let me explain.

We used to garden a lot. And we saw this video a guy did on his garden and how shockingly productive and beautiful it was. No watering system. No fertilization. No pesticides. But amazing results. This dude had organic farmers travelling in to see how he did it. No one could figure it out.

His secret was mulch. Lots of it. He just laid down a new layer of mulch every year and it broke down over time and held in water, fended off pests, acted as fertilizer as it broke down. Mulch. That was it. And it was all free. He worked out a deal with the electric company to dump all their grindings on his property every time they went out tree trimming. And they went tree trimming a lot. He had lots of free mulch.

So as is always the case, other people tried it. And one dude in particular really bought into this system. He ordered up a giant load of the best quality mulch. It was expensive. And it didn’t work. At all.

What? What happened?

The problem was that his mulch was perfect. It was perfectly consistent in size. It was only one type of wood. No leaves. No spare twigs here and there. It was perfect. Perfectly useless.

It turns out the free crappy mulch has tons of junk in there that isn’t pretty, but is the backbone of feeding this guy’s garden. And he didn’t even know it.

So I’m mulch. And so are you. And the good news is that we’re the cheap crappy kind with all sorts of odd looking things stuck inside that look bad but work great. We’re not pretty on the outside. But here’s the thing: We work. We’re USEFUL.

So yeah I suppose this is just one more post about it being okay to be broken. But I’m trying to take it a step further than that. Maybe what we call “broken” isn’t broken. Right?  But being constantly told we’re broken kinda sucks the life out of you after a while.  You get to a place where you’re like, “Well I’m really broken and I suck and I’m a mess.  But at least God loves me.”  Dude.  That’s frickin’ depressing.  I don’t think God wired us up to feel like that all the time.

Maybe all this mess is what breaks down over time into something that can feed the starving around us. This mess will produce something that is beautiful, nourishing, and naturally fends off those who would seek to do us harm. Maybe instead of finally accepting that we’re broken, we should look in the mirror and realize this thing you’re seeking is just as jacked up and messy and you think it is. And that it is for that very reason… unbroken.

I’m not saying we don’t owe God everything for the grace he shows us every day.  But perhaps we’ve lulled ourselves into inaction by constantly drilling into our own heads how “broken” we are and God’s up there like, “Get over dudes.  Broken means you can’t function.  You ain’t broken.  I’m kinda waiting for you to, like, start working.  Ya know?”

Those are my slightly disorganized thoughts for the day. Later all.

Fixing my lawnmower, and why it’s worth reading 799 words about it.

I thought the thought that everyone seems to think these days. “Time to throw it out and get a new one.” But then this voice in my head, perhaps my grandfather speaking to me from above, said, “Just flip the stupid thing over and see what’s wrong.” I could technically afford a new lawnmower. And the one we’ve had is about 9 years old. Every possible justification to get one of those new electric ones that I really want. This old beater of a lawnmower was just stuck. Push forward, nothing. Something is stuck. Wheels won’t turn, I don’t know. It was the perfect excuse to be out with the old and in with the new.

But I listened to that voice in my head and flipped it over. Some weld had popped loose and a big wedge-shaped chunk of steel was hanging down and digging into the ground. That’s what was stopping the mower. This wedge was digging into the ground. So I went to the garage, grabbed a crow bar and a four pound sledge, and I beat the snot out of it until it was jammed back up into where it looked like it belonged. And it stayed there. So then I flip it back over, pull the chord, and start mowing again. I was in a hurry because the neighbors are having a birthday party and I didn’t want to be mowing while they were having guests arrive. And now the mower is actually dramatically easier to push than it has been in years.

So why write a post about it? Well the main reason is I want all of you to know that I’m a real man who owns sledge hammers and crow bars and I hit stuff in my driveway. Mission accomplished. But this is nagging at me. I’m sort of having my “buy stuff all the time” persona stripped from me. I’ve totally lost the desire to buy a new bigger house worthy of a lawyer. I actually really love my car with 146,000 miles on it. And I like this lawnmower. I am so sick and tired of this constant pressure from television to replace everything I own. I’ve bought into this concept for a few decades and I’m starting to walk away from it.

Here’s the deal. We’re all broke. I don’t mean broke by today’s standards. Today, broke means you can’t afford to make your payments. But to our grandparents and great-grandparents you were broke if you even HAD payments. If you borrowed money to buy something it was because you were broke. Now, if you DON’T borrow money to buy something you must be too broke to afford the monthly payments.

We switched to paying cash for everything a couple of years ago and it has this rather liberating effect on our marriage and our lives. We don’t even use a debit card. I changes the smallest details. I need to keep track of how much gas is in my car and grab cash before I leave if I need to fill up. We’ve put our financial lives into reverse and paid off tens of thousands of dollars in debt since we started this mini financial revolution. This is my own personal small way of flipping the bird to all the advertising agencies that want so desperately to convince me that I need to replace everything in my house.

I don’t. And these people are not helping us. They are robbing us of our lives. Driving us to maintain two-income households and hand our kids off to daycare. They have tricked us into thinking that all this crap will make us happy. We talk a lot about the need to make sacrifices for God. But we really don’t. The things God wants for us will make us happy. They may also may us broke. But being broke just means we’ve cast off the junk that clever advertisers have made us believe will bring happiness.

And I’m tired of it. And done with it. My old house with tons of problems and a genuinely dangerous worn out driveway is just perfect for me. So is my aging car and my lawnmower than requires the occasional beating from a sledge hammer.

God has things in store for me that deliver a level of happiness that cannot be captured in the glossy pages of the Sunday morning sale papers.

Let’s quit paying money for all this crap and start using it for genuine joy. The joy of giving. Of helping someone without ever needing anything in return. Let’s all go make a ton of money, but keep driving our same worn out cars and keep pushing out same worn out lawnmowers. And let’s use what’s left over to chase down some amazing happiness.

JDV

 

Photo credit: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/330834/file-478210003-jpg/Blog_Images/3716809618_16126ea4d6_z.jpg?t=1403890002171

The forgotten art of conversation.

This will not be the most impactful thing you read today. It covers about 20 minutes total of my otherwise normal day. (A day which did, if I may say so myself, include drafting one seriously wicked butt-kicking letter to some evil-doing majority shareholders, but that’s a topic for another post.)

So I leave the office and I’m walking a couple of blocks to my car. And there’s a woman walking from her car into her small office building, and she said something to me. I didn’t hear her, so I approached her and asked what she said. She repeated herself. “Sorry. Didn’t mean for you to stop. But I just said you have a nice tie. No one wears colors anymore. You look nice.” Her manner of speech was clear that she was not hitting on me or anything weird. She just liked my tie. A perfect stranger talking to another perfect stranger and complimenting his tie. Awesome! So we chatted for a little bit. I’m a lawyer who can drop the hammer pretty good in a letter. She’s a counselor/therapist. She’s 70 and retiring maybe next year. But maybe not, because she loves her work.  She doesn’t look a day over 55.

That’s a lot of information to pick up just based on a simple compliment about a yellow tie. I do a lot of networking events. Networking is not bad. But it would be fair to describe it as “socialization with a goal in mind.” There was no goal in today’s conversation other than… conversation. What a throw back!  It was nice.

So I’m feeling pretty good as I resume my walk, and thinking, “You know what, I DO LOOK PRETTY GOOD DUDE!” Nice way to end the day. But then it got better. I’m driving my hour long drive home and a number pops up that I don’t recognize. It’s Joe. A guy I met on Facebook. This guy’s Facebook page is jammed full of encouragement and positive thoughts. I had posted on his wall that he inspired me to re-take Bluff Road. Read all about that here.  So we traded numbers and this was the first time we had spoken.  I thought Joe was pretty amazing before, but now that I’ve spoken to him he’s unbelievable!  This guy has so much positive energy its crazy.  He’s one of these guys that you know you want to hang out with after just a few minutes of conversation.  Joe is the real deal.  Entrepreneur.  Rock solid good dude.  And it was very good fortune to have met him.  And he told me that he would never have guessed I was a lawyer based on my FB pics and posts.  That’s high praise sir!  (Lawyers make me nuts.)

I spend a lot of time online.  But today was all about the old fashioned person-to-person conversation and it was a nice way to end my day.  Hope you all have an awesome day.  Go call someone.  Or compliment someone’s tie.

Later dudes!

J

Photo credit:  http://www.globalimagegrp.com/blog/personal-shopper-tips/style-tips-for-men-october-2008

Dude… I’m done with this crap!

So I’ve been in a rut at work lately. The bosses are happy. I’m getting along with everyone. Bringing in clients. I’m doing really well in ALMOST every aspect. But I’m a lawyer. And my production is way off. WAY off. The bosses are happy, but I’m not.  I can do better.  I’ve been in a rut for a few years actually. But these last few weeks it’s been worse then ever. How big a rut? Here’s a picture of it:

That’s a big rut dudes!

So I’m driving home from work on my way to do some hill training and it hits me. I’m done with this rut crap. I’m done with it. Like… no drama. No whatever. I’m just kinda done with it.  Like no big deal, but I’ve sorta had it with this crap of not hitting my goals.  And I’m thinking about why I lose confidence and lock up at work, etc. etc.  And I’m all focused on myself and what I can do and I’m actually not getting down on myself.  Usually I do.  But I didn’t.  I’m pretty good at my job so in my head I’m thinking there is no reason for me to lock up the way I do.  So when it comes to my technical ability, I’m all good.  I’m feeling confident about this walk-away from crap.

So then I took a break from thinking about MY abilities and I started thinking about my creator.  I tell people all the time that I’ve spoken to their creator and he doesn’t make junk.  He makes awesome.  I ain’t junk, folks.  My creator cranks out Ferraris, GT500s and Vipers.

So tomorrow morning I’m about to get about the business of kicking the living crud outta my day.

How about you?  I’ve talked to your creator and he doesn’t make junk.  Are you junk?  No way brothers and sisters.  Let’s go spill a little awesome all over the planet tomorrow, okay?

Okay??

JV

Golf claps for Jesus. I’m floored.

 

Golf claps.  You know what they are.  That polite tapping of the hands that provides just enough affirmation so that people know you support them, and also have a pulse.  They’re kind of funny, actually.  So when I teach Large Group we do a lot of golf claps.  You might get golf claps for nailing a scriptural reading.  Or answering a tough Biblical question (especially if it’s Old Testament) or just about anything else.  You go above and beyond the call, you get some golf claps.

So one day I was teaching, and it was a story where Jesus had done something amazing (go figure!).  And the kids started doing their golf claps, and it popped out of my mouth.  “Golf claps for Jesus!”  As soon as the words passed by my lips I thought, and said out loud, “Oh shoot, can I say that?”  Let me remind you that I am not a classically trained teacher.  Well… not trained at all, actually.  Ever.  But one of the small group leaders Al latched onto it and thought it was a riot.

Now, shift gears.  Earlier this year we had planned to move.  I live 35 miles away from work which kinda sucks.  So we had a plan all in place.  We found an apartment we liked.  We would rent for a year or so, and shop for the perfect house.  I was getting two pretty huge commissions and that would be enough to pay for fixing up our house so that we could rent it out.  It was going to be tight, but between a small monthly profit on renting out our house, and cheaper gas, balanced out by higher cost of living by work, we were going to squeak by.  That was the plan.  I put in notice at church that April would be my last month doing Large Group.  They started looking for a replacement.

Then commission number one dried up.  Client never paid.  Then commission number two dried up.  That one is still being fought about in court with no end in sight.  No commissions.  No move up north.  Looks like we’re staying.  It turns out that there were three people at church who were praying daily that I would not move.  And looking back on all of this now, these were the best commissions I ever lost.  I’m suddenly reinvigorated with my present surroundings.  A simple home with squeaky floors, a disaster of a driveway, and a list of repairs needed.  An old car with almost 150,000 miles.  But this is home.  This is a home where we live and we don’t worry about paying our bills every month.  We are close to family.  We have awesome neighbors.  This is home.

So we’re staying.  I re-announced at church that we wouldn’t be moving after all.  I’ll continue teaching Large Group into the foreseeable future.  Moving wasn’t just delayed.  We’re back to “I have no idea when we’re moving” phase, and to be honest I’m not sure I want to move at all anymore.  And people were supportive.  Nice.  Thankful even.  And they consoled the loss of our commissions.  (Note: We can still pay our bills.  This would have been extra money way outside the budget so we didn’t really LOSE anything.  No worries mates.)

Then today happened.  Back to the “Golf Claps for Jesus” thing.  I was just about to wrap up the Large Group lesson when I was interrupted by Bethany.  If you want to picture Bethany, think of a giant super-tanker of positive affirmation wrapped up into a tiny little package.  My left arm would weigh as much as Bethany if it went on a diet.  And she’s amazing.  And then picture Al.  Al is not your stereotypical small group leader.  He’s a shade older than I am, has an awesome sarcastic sense of humor, and has a huge heart.  But I learned a little bit about Al’s character today.  So anyway, I’m just about to wrap up and Bethany interrupts me.  She comes toward me with a gift bag and home-made card.  Signed by everyone in the room.  And the gift?  A brand new shirt.  Here it is:

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Golf Claps for Jesus.  This is the handy work of Mr. Al, as the kids call him.  Forever enshrined on a t-shirt that has volumes of goodness written between it’s lines.  This was presented to me with a card that read, “Thanks for sticking with us.”  This blew my mind.  You go through life trying to affect people and wonder if you do.  Today, that wonder was removed.  I’m affecting these people.  And it blew my mind.  This simple act of kindness blew my mind because of all the thought that went into it.  It’s like they climbed into my head and figured out exactly what they had to do to make me feel the most appreciated.  And they nailed it.  I instantly began reciting the phrase in my head, “I am not going to cry!  I am not going to cry!”

Yeah.  I’m home.  35 miles just isn’t that far to drive to work.  Not far enough to leave all of this.

It’s good to be home.  Thanks Al.  You rock, my brother.

Jim

Bluff Road redeemed…

 

So I did it. Bluff Road haunts my memories no longer. And I have some of you to thank for that. I received a lot of encouragement from you folks and I wanted to thank you for that. It was a great ride actually. As noted, I am training for a century in September, and my training schedule called for a 25 mile ride yesterday. But I went ahead and knocked out a 40 miler just to put a nail in the coffin of the 20 years I’ve lost since that day on Bluff Road. It was pretty cool. I ended up travelling down one of my oldest training routes and it was surprisingly unchanged in 20 years. A few new industrial buildings here and there, but all of my landmarks were the same. I didn’t have to resort to my trusty GPS after all.

I rode right through the spot where I crashed.  I remember exactly where it was, despite that fact that the park to the right was half the size it used to be because of a new highway going overhead.  I can see why it popped my wheel out.  All 260 pounds of me was bearing down on the poor bike frame and the chain was popping, the spokes were creaking, and the frame was flexing like crazy.  I was struggling to keep my pedal stroke as smooth as possible.  You’re going so slow at this point that the slightest slip of the chain will send you to the ground.  I won’t lie.  I couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be a repeat of the crash 20 years before.  Dead center in the middle of the hill I was barely moving and my legs wanted to explode.  Just one pedal stroke at a time.  That’s all I can deliver.  Trust your equipment.  One pedal stroke at a time.  Then as I approached the top of the hill it started to level off and knew I had done it.  No chain slip.  No wheel slip.  No crash.  Redemption.  And something else happened.  I was energized.  I should have been spent, but I felt great.  At the end of Bluff Road, you swing right onto Joliet Road  which is a long steady climb.  I spun right up it with comfort and ease.  I felt like a cyclist again.

One funny moment came when I had definitely gone a little too far. One trick in bike training is to get far enough away from home that you lose the option of cutting the ride short. If you want to end this ride, you had better grind it out and get home. So I was grinding my way up Woodridge Drive which is a slight but long incline and I was not feeling great. Mentally, I was on top of it. Proud of what I’d done so far but definitely counting out the number of similar climbs I had to get over between there and home. And I was moving pretty slow.

And then it happened. Here I am on my $2,000 bike, my little bike shorts, and bike shoes that clip into the pedals, the whole bit. And some little teenage girl goes whizzing by on her department store mountain bike and blows my doors off. I felt like yelling, “I am 60 pounds over weight and just rode 35 miles which is the longest ride of the last 20 years!” but somehow I didn’t think she’d care. But I bucked up and fell back into my slow grinding rhythm and thought to myself, “You’ve done a good thing today. All you need to do is get home. Style points don’t matter anymore.”

So I did. I suffered up the hills and coasted down the other side of each one, thankful for every yard I was able to cover without pedaling. And then it was over. A left turn followed by another and I was on my home street, having completed the longest ride I’ve done in 20 years. And I became thankful. Thankful for Jim Hussey who saved my life. Thankful for the head injury that took me off the bike. Thankful that I left my job to work at a bike store way back then. Thankful that the most beautiful woman in the world walked into that bike store and I asked her out in the least cool and most awkward pick-up line of all time. I don’t remember it, probably because I have driven the trauma of it from my mind. But she said yes. And today, I celebrated Father’s Day with her and the two children she has given me.

Thank you Bluff Road. I owe you a lot.

JDV

 

Photo credit: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/38183197

P.S. No that’s not Bluff Road in the photo.  I had intended to stop and take a picture.  But it’s not exactly a place you want to lose even an ounce of momentum!

What an inspiration!

Just received some amazing news about an amazing friend. He lives a life that is more radically abandoned to God than anyone I’ve ever met. Years and years ago he turned his life away from one of obsession with money and everything that comes with it. Now he runs a martial arts academy, doing amazing work with kids and infusing Biblical principles into everything they do in an intense and inspiring way. He also takes annual mission trips to feed the hungry in Central America. This guy operates at a level of connectedness with God that I can barely even fathom. Every minute of his day is consumed with service to God. It’s in inspiration just to be around him. Unbelievable.

So last night I received an invite via Facebook to attend his ordination ceremony. What? I had no idea this was even on the radar. He and his wife are being ordained as ministers. This is awesome news! It could not be happening to a more deserving family. And it makes their lives, their marriage, their connection with God, their discipline, their radical abandonment, that much more inspiring.

I’m a pretty decent guy. But I am suddenly launched into wanting what he has. Not in an envious way. But in an inspired way. When people tell you to live a life for God that makes others want what you have, that’s this guy. And I don’t even need to go through the “how does he do it” list of questions. I know what he does. I know how he lives his life. I just need to do it.

So happy for he and his wife and their family, and starting today off feeling exceptionally inspired to work toward a life of abandonment like theirs!

Go have an awesome day everyone!! Live your life today in a way that everyone around you is inspired to abandon their lives to God in an amazing way.

The power of a clean… garage??

So I cleaned my garage this weekend. Why is this blog-worthy? At the time I was cleaning, it was no big deal. But I kinda knocked it out of the park on this project and you could eat off the floor of my garage right now. I had intended to purge and get rid of about half of the junk I had stored up, but I quickly realized this was all stuff that I used, it’s just tossed about all over the place.

So I let my OCD loose and my garage is actually somewhere I like spending time now. Screwdrivers are lined up in the screwdriver drawer. Wrenches are sorted by size. I have nail guns hanging on peg board. For those of you who are not aware, hanging nailing guns from peg board is a suitable alternative to growing a huge beard if your goal is manliness. Which is good, because my Viking roots betray me and I am beardless. But I digress. Long story short: My garage rocks right now.

So why blog about it? It didn’t really hit me until this morning. I am super happy about the way my garage turned out, and a lot of people don’t have enough storage so they have to park their cars on the driveway and use their garage for storage. How sad. And actually, a lot of people don’t have a garage at all. Even more sad. And now that I think about it, a lot of people don’t have cars. This is getting sadder (if that’s a word).

And then it really hit me. This garage I cleaned out is larger than most homes on this planet. Forget about a place to store my car when it snows, what about people trying to find a place to keep their kids warm through the winter? Or single moms for whom losing their car to a breakdown or repossession means they don’t know how they are going to feed their kids. Forget a garage. There are moms living in their car trying to convince their kids that they have a plan to get a place to live but they have no idea where to go.

Wow. This got real in a hurry. I have it good.

I suddenly became overrun with a sense of thankfulness. I stopped to pray my thanks for this home I have, the job I have, my wife, my kids, my car. My drawer full of screwdrivers and sorted wrenches. I prayed for people who live lives that do not allow them to even fathom the thought of owning a structure that exists for the sole purpose of storing a car and stuff we use for decorations once a year.

So I am feeling blessed today. And as is often the case, I feel like passing that blessing on. I don’t have any specific ideas of how to do that today but I’ll work on it. I’ll try to find something before the end of the day. And I thought I’d pass that along.

What blessings are your sitting in the middle of that often don’t even feel like blessings? Leave a comment! I read them all.

Every day is a good day. Today included. Hope you enjoy yours.

You are alone in your sin.

You need to get a handle on this sin thing.  What’s the matter with you?  You realize don’t you that most people don’t “struggle” with this they way you do, right?  There must be something wrong with you, some wires crossed.  Whatever it is, you need to draw back into yourself and figure it out.  Put prayer on hold, would ya?  You can’t be praying in the middle of this giant mess you’re in.  And think about your wife, your family, your friends.  Listen, I’m your friend, and you have got to get a handle on this.  I know you supposedly had a “good day” yesterday but how long will that last?  You really think you can string together even five decent days in a row?  When has that worked out?

Get to work on this.  Figure it out.  You’re on your own out there until you can get this sorted out.

_____________________

Ever heard these words?  Yeah.  I have.  All the time.  This is that conversation the devil likes to have with you in order to guarantee that you never break free from sin.  Yes, the devil can actually use your own battle with sin against you.  A crafty little bastard.  Fighting him off can actually fuel his game.  Distance from God.  It’s all about distance from God.  How many times have I skipped prayer because of recent sin?  Mission accomplished, devil.  Well played.

So let’s set it straight.  If you are stuck in sin YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  But you had better get about the business of surrounding yourself with strong Christians who don’t define their faith as a means by which to judge the sins of others.  You need real Christians, not Christians who are full of crap.  You need scripture, and you had best not ever… EVER… step away from prayer.  I don’t care how much you lose your battle, you get back onto that battle field with your Christian friends and your powerful God and you fight again.

Got it?  Don’t believe the crap you hear.  Because you’re going to hear it.  Over and over.  But you’ve got an army behind you.  Want me in your army?  I can do that.  james.d.voigt@gmail.com.  And trust me on this: with me in your army you will no longer be alone in your sin!  We’ll fight it off together.

Take today and kick the living crap out of your sin.  Team up.  Pray up.  Bible up.  And start kicking.

 

We were built to be heroes.  It’s about time we start acting like heroes.

 

Photo credit: Leni Tuchsen / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)