Use The Good China Now!

Don't Wait to Master this Approach

What if someone said you could radically change your life by learning to take it easy?

You’ve probably been raised to believe that you have to work hard every second of the day if you want to amount to anything.  First, you were told to get good grades.  Then you had to find the right college.  Next you had to get a good job.  Then you had to find the right mate.  Then a home.  Then have kids.  Then save for college.  Then save for retirement….

If you’re on that course, chances are you are thinking there has to be a better way.

We can get so caught up in making a living that we fail to live.

In fact, you probably know a person or two who heard the final buzzer before reaching their goals.  A grandfather who died in his sixties.  A mom who died in her fifties.  In your quietest hours you probably still wonder why.

Learning to relax may not prolong your life on earth but you’ll gain a life in the process.

The golden years aren’t when you retire.  The golden days are now.  This isn’t a dress rehearsal for the big show.  This is the big show.  If you wait to start enjoying life when you’re retired, you’ll be disappointed.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t work.  Of course we should work!  And work hard.  But if we work hard, we should also learn how to play hard.  I’m not saying ‘eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die’.  That idea runs contrary to the whole vibe of this blog.

It’s amazing that we take time to learn things we don’t enjoy and fail to study the things in life that really count.

While it is important to master things we don’t enjoy doing, it’s equally important to master things that will give us years of joy and fulfillment.  

What if you studied to discover healthy ways to unwind at the end of a long day?

What if you figured out how to dwell in your home and not just pass the time?

What if you looked for ways to find joy in the mundane?

What if you spent more time with someone who knows how to relax around and enjoy other people?

Feel free to ponder some of the other areas you would like to study in your life.  You are not a human doing, you are a human being.

Here are some tips to get you started.

Try something new and God will show you something new.  What if instead of checking Facebook first thing in the morning, you spent a couple of minutes with your cat or dog.  You have to feed them anyway.  Turn what has become a chore into something that is mutually enjoyable for both of you.  The essential thing is not your new routine, it is obliterating your old one.

Read outside your area of expertise.  Reading is not only a great way to pass the time, it’s something you’ll have to do if you are going to figure out the answers to some of the questions you’re now asking.  However, it doesn’t take as long as you think to become an expert in a new area.  After you’ve read 4 or 5 books on your new interest, you’ll become familiar with the general concept and every writer will start sounding the same.

Share a meal with someone.  No matter where you go, there will usually be people.  There’s just something about sharing food or drink with somebody.  In the gospels, you see Jesus doing this repeatedly.  However, when we get caught up in the rat race, one of the first things to go out the window is the time we spend with people we care about.  Remember, it’s not about the food.  It’s about the relationship.  Meals aren’t something we share just to gain nutritional value each day, meals are an opportunity to heal and cement healthy relationships.

Some of the happiest people you’ll meet are those who have achieved greatness but still know how to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  You’ll know them when you meet them.  They are able to melt into their chair and relax and patiently listen while you talk.  They make you feel more relaxed by just being around them.  These kinds of leaders have learned the art of being.

Then there are the other kind.  One speaker went to a mental institution and stated, “You know why we’re all here, don’t you?”  There was a pause and someone finally stood up in the audience and said, “Because we’re not all there!”.    Influential leaders live by the mantra ‘Wherever you are, be all there’.

Are you all there, or have you been in such a hurry to get there that you’re missing out?

The amazing secret is that when you slow down and enjoy life more, you achieve more than you would otherwise.  Things are nice, but it’s not the things of life that add value to our life, it’s people.  You can lose all of the things you have and buy new ones, but the same is not true with people.

Success is a moving target, and in our pursuit of it, we miss out on the now.  We weren’t designed to work all of our lives only to achieve a momentary goal and die.  Life is a precious jewel, meant to be enjoyed each and every day not just before our last breath.  Start using the good China ware now with your children while they’re still young.  They may break a cup or plate, but you’ll have memories to enjoy and laugh about in years to come rather than a load of regrets.


What In The World Are You Here For?

One Simple Principle to Clarify Your Future

Have you ever felt like you were in the middle of something and didn’t know the next step to take? It’s a common problem, especially this time of the year.

I know exactly how you feel. I felt the same exact way while working construction after college. That’s right. Went to school for four years to study English and ended up running a jack hammer! At first it wasn’t all that bad. We worked out in the sun during the summer and the money was enough to even enjoy a want once in a while. Then came winter.

I believe there’s a simple reason why you may be feeling like your future is uncertain.

When we forget why we’re doing something, we lose our direction.

For example, ever gone into a room and forgotten why you were there? You don’t have to be a senior citizen for this to happen. The first thing you do is ask yourself “Why did I come in here?”

Nothing clarifies your present situation better than asking this question. When you’re happy with the answer to this question, you’ll find that your future becomes instantly clear.

Is it your job? One lady I know went to work to buy a vacuum cleaner. Thirty-five years later she was still working. That’s a whole other story, but maybe it’s time you asked yourself why you’re working the job you are right now. You may decide you’re doing it to provide for your family and create a better financial future for yourself. That’s fine. However, until you clarify why you’re working where you are right now, your future will be fuzzy and you’ll constantly lack direction.

Is it your marriage? You met the person of your dreams and it was Disney on earth. Then after you got married you were in hormone heaven for about a year. Now you realize the person you married has bad breath in the morning and actually uses toilet paper. Chances are you need to remember why you chose the path you did.

Perhaps it’s your kids. For years you dreamed of having them. You prayed for a boy and a girl. Now they’re teenagers and you often realize why some animals eat their own young. If someone asked you why you had them, what would you say?

Imagine if someone came up to you and said, “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” That’s what Jesus actually told a church in the book of Revelation, chapter two verse 3. Not too shabby.

However he followed up his words of praise with this statement, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4). Ouch!

This church was doing a lot of things right. The problem was they were doing a lot of good things for the wrong reason. They had lost their why. They were “going through the motions”.

When it comes to love, we in the western world associate love with the ‘warm, fuzzy, feelings’. A cupid shoots you in the heart and then you….well you know the rest of the story.

The love talked about here is more practical. It’s agape love or a sacrificial love, the kind of love Jesus had when he sacrificed himself for you and I.

It wasn’t that the Ephesian church members hated Jesus. They were still doing a lot of great things. The problem was they weren’t loving others the way he loved them. They’d forgotten their why.

In the words of Gail Hyatt, “We lose our way, when we lose our why”.

Getting back to your job. If you’re wondering why you still work where you do and you decide you started doing it to provide for your family, why not put a picture of your family on your desk? It will help you remember your why, especially during the difficult and stressful times.

The same applies to other areas of your life. Surround yourself with physical reminders of your why. These small reminders will get you through the dark times….the times when you walk into the room and ask yourself why you came in there.

The warm, fuzzy, feelings are nice when they come, but most of the time, the only thing you’ll feel is pain as you step outside of your comfort zone. Many times the pain will come in the form of uneasiness. That’s alright, use it to keep yourself on the right path.

Many people believe that as they grow, there will be less pain and fewer setbacks and obstacles. I wish that were true. But in my own experience, each passing year brings with it new challenges and problems. As someone once said, “New levels, new devils”.

Knowing your why will help you see clearly as you navigate the darkness and emotional fog. Every time you’re tempted to throw in the towel because things are getting too hard or you don’t remember where you’re going, remember your why.

Remember, there is a great deal of sacrifice in life. Jesus sacrificed and he expects no less from us. The secret is that sacrificing your comforts, goods and resources for others brings great joy. When you do, you don’t lose anything, you gain just as a flame loses no power by lighting a candle.

Chances are if your candle is burning right now, you’re in a season when you need to remind yourself of your why. Once you do, things will be much more clear, especially this upcoming year.
The last thing you want to do is keep going through the motions and hoping for some form of relief. Take some time and get to the heart of the matter. Decide your why and write it down somewhere.

What is your why?

Do This To Reach Your Goals

Did you know that studies have shown that 85% of us don’t plan?  In fact, only 10% do and another 5% simply wait to seize rare opportunities!  No matter where you fit in these statistics, planning doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems.

Recently while talking with some friends, we talked about the upcoming year and our plans.  One of the topics was driving along the East coast between New York and Florida.  No matter who you talk to, most people try to drive the route in the shortest time possible.  All told, the trip takes about 24-30 hours depending on how many times you stop to rest and refuel.

I’ve found that in life, most of us have the same mentality when it comes to planning.  We want the shortest route possible between where we’re at and where we’re headed.  Along the way, we’ll do whatever it takes to reach our destination, be it risking our health, squandering our reserves, and straining our relationships.

I know from experience.  In my early twenties I drove my brother from New York to Florida- straight through, only stopping for fuel- and back!  He wasn’t too impressed on the way down and was even less impressed on the way home.  Thankfully, our experience was so miserable that I decided I’d never do that again.

You’re laughing, but is that how you plan?  I’d be willing to bet that you’ve already been thinking about the upcoming year and you’ve been so focused on your end results that you haven’t stopped to think about what you’re going to do along the way.  For example, if you’ve decided to diet, it’s going to be hardcore.  You’re going to stop eating junk, start eating vegetables, cut your portions, and go to the gym 3-5 times a week.  It’s not going to work!

Pursuing your goals without taking any time to celebrate or reward yourself is not just foolish, it can be devastating.  There is going to be fallout.  Taking the necessary steps to reach a goal is a wonderful thing, but more than just setting goals, you need a plan and that plan needs to include mile markers.  Nobody ever climbed Mount Everest in one giant leap, it takes many steps and times of rest.

The beautiful part is you get to be the designer.  Here’s how to start.

Decide where you’re at.  Define reality.  Mark an X on the page.


Next, decide where you’re headed.  Imagine a clear mental image of what things will look like when you reach your goal.

X                                                                                                                           X Clear mental image of results.

Now, draw a straight line between the two X’s.  To determine your ‘small wins’.


These are the mile markers between your starting point and destination where you will take time to reflect and celebrate!  Chances are if you’re reading this blog, you’re not very good at celebrating.  Chances are you’re a self-disciplined achiever and you’re always too busy working on the next win to celebrate.

As Stephen King wrote, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.  If we don’t take time to relax and enjoy our successes, life loses it’s flavor.  Before you know it, you begin to think life is all about work.  The surprising thing about some of the happiest and successful people you’ll ever meet is that they recognize the importance of work and play.  When it’s time to work, nobody works harder.  When it’s time to play, they’re all in.

The question is how do you incorporate type B habits if you’re a type A personality?  Good question.  This is something I never thought about for years until recently.  I guess the short answer is you have to schedule.  Just as Holidays are marked out on the annual calendar, each of us have to decide when we’re going to come apart before we come apart.

If you’re a really driven type A person, you’ll have to begin by using the same discipline you already have, to make yourself take the time to rest and relax.  Not annually, but monthly, weekly and daily!

It going to take more than an annual vacation for you and your family to stay in the race and finish well.  You have to decide how you’re going to lead them to rest regularly and celebrate.  Face it, celebration is a lost art form in the day and age we live in.

Jesus himself realized the importance of resting.  Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31).  I wonder how many times you and I have ignored his invitation to do the same.

Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t make plans for the upcoming year or set a few goals.  What I am saying is New Year’s resolutions generally do not work.  The reason they don’t work is because they are usually radical sprints with little provision for rest and small wins.  Yes, they work for some, but not most.

If you don’t take the time to write down a starting and ending point with rest stops and celebrations along the way, chances are this upcoming year is going to end up the same way this year did.

Rather than expecting your pursuits to be easy, do the hard work of making a plan.  Then, work your plan and your plan will work.

The last thing any of us want to do is get to the end of our lives and look back along the highway and see the wreckage of our friends and loved ones who tried to keep up with us but couldn’t.

Slowing down so that others can keep up isn’t just a good idea if we want our loved ones to arrive with us, it’s also a great recipe for keeping ourselves in one piece.

How are you going to reward yourself as you reach for your goals in the upcoming year?

What To Do When You’ve Lost Everything

Thoughts On A Difficult Season

Have you ever had something just slip through your hands?  Maybe it was a dream or a rare opportunity.  Perhaps it was something you believed was going to be a source of joy.  Me too, so lets talk about it.

Of course, when I say everything, I mean something.  Something you valued highly.  Maybe it was your marriage, a job, a friendship, money, status, a child.  We both know none of these things are everything.  Important, yes!  Everything, no.  But at the time.  When you’re holding your heart in your hand and soul ache becomes your constant companion, it feels like everything, right?

However, when you repeatedly fail, but keep on going, you end up with something better than you had before the heartache.  You can call it what you want, but when you boil it down it’s called character.

We live in a world where if at first you don’t succeed, try something new.  When that becomes your mantra, you end up with a pile of half-hearted attempts and little character.  What happens is you never end up developing the skills that only come with time and practice.

I’m not going to break it all down into three steps for you.  I already know by the stats that my readers aren’t interested when I do that.  Instead I’m giving it to you as I see it based on personal experience.  Consider it more a talk over some coffee.  The truth is, I don’t know it all, but I do know this.  Chances are it’s the end of the year and you feel like you messed it up.

In fact, taking it a step farther, you might even feel like you blew it and there aren’t going to be any new opportunities next year.  The truth is you may be right.  Maybe there won’t be those same exact opportunities.  But maybe something better is on the way.

Lets face it, sometimes Cancer is terminal.  Sometimes we lose the good job and don’t get a better one.  Sometimes we lose the love of our life and end up doing life alone.  Sometimes our kids rebel and never come back.  Sometimes we fail the course and get dropped out of the program.  The question is, what are you going to do about it?

I’d be willing to guess this is a very difficult time of year for you.  Along with the normal stresses of life, you’re now wondering how you’re going to get it all done this month.  You’re wondering how you’re going to pay for it all or if there even will be an all.  You’re wondering what troubles you may face this upcoming year.

Here’s a tip.  You’re more than the things you say, think or do.  The enemy wants you to think that’s not true.  He wants you to think that everything you own and achieve is all that matters.  If your dream doesn’t come true, he wants you to think it’s because you’re a failure.  That’s not true.  If your dream doesn’t come true, maybe it’s because it wasn’t God’s dream for you or you just need to keep pushing.

So what do you do when your dream doesn’t come true?  I’m glad you asked.  What do parents tell their kids when the kids don’t get what they want?  Wait until we get home (just kidding).  No, what we tell our kids is maybe next time.  That’s not saying ‘yes’ and that’s not saying ‘no’.  It recognizes the fact that the future is a mystery.  Not always unknowable, but a mystery.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived- next to Jesus- wrote, “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.”  Ecclesiastes 9:11.

Clearly, sometimes despite your best efforts, you don’t get what you seek.  It’s not because you aren’t fast or strong or brilliant, it’s just the way life is.  The good news is if you aren’t all of those things, you still have a chance.  So if you’re not winning, celebrate with those who are!

Once a farmer prayed to God because he had a humungous rock in his field that he could not move.  God told the farmer to go out into the field and push on the rock each day for twenty minutes each day.  The farmer did.  For twenty years!  And still the rock didn’t move an inch.  Finally, he cried out to God because he was unable to budge it after all of his time and hard work.  God answered him and said, “I never asked you to move the rock, I just wanted you to push on it.  I can move it anytime I want!”

Maybe God isn’t expecting you to move the rock in your field just yet.  Maybe all he wants you to do is push on it for awhile.  When you do, many things will happen.  Ultimately, you’ll end up a whole lot stronger than you were to begin with.  Maybe there are others like your spouse and children who are watching and deciding what they’re going to do when they face difficult circumstances in the future.

At the end of the day, there are many people out there who “made it” without any effort on their part.  If you were to ask most of them how they did, they’d probably tell you they did it on their own.  Yet many of these same people, though successful, are not able to duplicate the process.

The truth is, you haven’t lost everything.  Yes, it feels that way right now, but in time you’ll see it’s not true. That’s not down playing your loss or your pain.  They’re both real.  However, if what’s been lost cannot be regained, you need to acknowledge that and move on.  With a little persistence, you might look over the next ridge and see your dream standing there looking back at you!