Earlier this summer, my daughter was "learning" how to ride a bike. The streets in our neighborhood are wobbly and wonky. She asked me constantly, “Why is my bike tipping over?!” and “Why aren’t the streets smooth?!” And I told her the line I memorized from the first page of my driver’s manual:
Not all roads are straight and flat.
The first time I read that line in the manual, I laughed. Psh. How OBVIOUS. Not all roads are straight and flat.
But then, don’t we expect the roads to be straight and flat? The earth, after all, is not straight and flat, nor is your plotline. Or your heartbeat. If it were, you’d be dead.
Instead, we get wobbly and wonky, and you just have to learn how to navigate the curves.
See, she’s terrified of falling over. She wants to ride her bike “like a big girl” but at the same time she wants the process to be simple and easy.
Life has been moderately easy. Until the last few months. And I think that even in her little world, she’s feeling the shakiness. And in a big way, she became even more aware that falling over hurts. There was a little bump at the end of the driveway – she screamed. “I can’t do it!”
There was a pot hole around the corner. “I’m going to fall down!” she began to panic. She leaned precariously to the opposite side.
“Just put your foot down,” I stated. “Create balance.”
Through the whole ride, she continued to state her failures ahead of time, screamed about her inadequacies, and demanded assistance. At one dip in the road, I even pushed the back of her seat over a bump to show her that going over the bumps was easier if you went faster rather than slower.
When we got back to the house we sat down, eye to eye.
I asked her why she was so afraid of falling down, and she didn’t have an answer.
Sometimes, when you see that life is changing, you just feel anxious. Your awareness of your smallness grows. Even for the littles.
I know I use this verse often, but I find myself repeating it and exploring it with my children. They have many fears and anxieties. So we use this verse as our motto: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
And on that day, beside this fiery little spirit, those words made a little more sense. God built us with strong bodies, strong hearts, and strong spirits. He crafted us to solve problems, enabled our bodies to become stronger and more capable, and gave us humor and hope to rove these wandering roads.
He didn’t put us together as lumps of green goo. He didn’t make us cats, or gnats, or clay blobs. He didn’t make us to sit, afraid, timid, in the dark, crying and stuck.
He specifically asked his disciples, “Why do you have no faith?”
“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him” (Mark 4:35-41)!
Jesus knew his plans: Morning meet-and-greet with the crowds on the shore. Afternoon boat tour across the lake. Nap. Evening gathering with the local town outcast. Normal day. The disciples follow along, unaware of the bigger picture (relate?) and suddenly they are in the middle of The Life of Pi and wondering where the tiger is. And somehow Jesus is asleep. Jesus knew the storm. He knew who could control the storm, he knew the power of the storm, and even further, he knew his ability to overcome the storm. He knew of different storms on the horizon.
Do you know how capable you are?
Do you know who made you, piece by piece, capable, competent, and purposed?
Before this storm occurred, Jesus had spoken to them. “Consider carefully what you hear,” he added. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Mark 4:34-35).
Many things spread easily.
Smiles, laughter, silliness.
Tension, anger, frustration.
Panic, worry, blame.
Hope, grit, perseverance.
With the measure you use, you will be given more. Are you focusing on the panic, the gripping fear of the unknown, and the uncertainty that you were unaware of before? OR are you focusing on the author of faith? Are you focusing on the Provider, the Guide, the King of all? The first and last, who knows the storms and has prepared you to face them. Or, possibly, he has prepared that storm to face you. Maybe you need to see hope, and darkness is where you will find it.
Because a shadow just means that there is light nearby.
If you act with hope, you will find more hope. If you act with great faith, with unity, with great perseverance, with kindness, with generosity… you may not always see the measure coming back. But it goes out and ripples onward.
And if you act in fear, if you give out panic, and anxiety, and if you give out criticism, and snide remarks, and blame…those make waves, too. Which waves do you want to spread? And what waves do you want to arrive at your feet?
You know what else? Jesus knew what lay beyond the storm. He knew his disciples would continue struggling with understanding. And they reacted similarly – they were even more shook than before. He controls the STORMS?! WHAT.
The tests show you who you are and whose you are. What lays beyond…that’s where you see faith walking on water. It’s not just the storm. It’s the changed life afterwards that shows who you are.
Some of my most anxious thoughts have been about what will happen “after” this pandemic. What will life be like on the other side? This has opened so many wide, broad doors to fear and anxiety. Let’s not go that way. Let’s instead, like Jesus did, stand up and call out that peace which surpasses all understanding. Let’s use our wit, our strong arms, our strong hearts, our strong spirits. “No matter how you move, always rise” (one of my Reebok shirts).
Regardless of what waves arrive, regardless of the road before you--
You are stronger than you know. You are more capable than you imagine. You were built to overcome the storm.
You were built to thrive.
Why are you so afraid?
Not every road is for the strong of heart. Or perhaps it is.
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Have you felt overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up? How many times have you waited, unsure, hesitant, when faced with a decision? Is that ache in your chest old yet?
I’ve had that deep ache in my chest these past few months (years?), and I’ve done a lot of seeking. A LOT. I got tired of the ache. Instead, I tooled up. I learned that I can sit there sad, frustrated, burned out and cynical…or I can take action.
Did you know that you have incredibly powerful tools right within your grasp, and you are on the verge of walking through this mysterious, fabulous door to unknown new worlds? Oh, yes you are.
I hope that doesn’t sound too scary….actually, maybe I do. Because fear masquerades around you, calling you out. Are you ready to stop being afraid? Do you even realize when you’re afraid?
I used to think I was pretty brave until I looked at how I was going about my business, hiding out in the shadows, taking the safe path, and venturing only when I was sure the next step would find firm ground. Even putting this book out is the entry into a nail-biting, murky realm for me, but I firmly believe these tools are essential for us and we don’t even realize we have them. But they’re right there.
Opt in for an adventure to discover purpose, tenacity, and to build your empire. Even the most ordinary of humans can do impossible things. The elements of storytelling are tools to help us understand our purpose and to build a life greater.
My latest collection of seeking and soldering has led to a 150-page guide and workbook to help you change your mindset to change your life. Within these pages of KINGDOM COME we discover the three protocols every hero satisfies in order to fulfill the mission. You’re the hero in your own story. Transforming into the hero may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever done.
Here we discover the ultimate objective in understanding and experiencing the combined unity of these three tools in your hero story. Get ready to travel the vast horizon of the hero plot line and forge new paths toward your legacy.
Available TODAY from Amazon, in paperback and ebook, you too can join the adventure. Come on, friend. I’ve taken some of these steps myself, and it’s beautiful over here. Let’s get crackin, together. Click here to purchase your copy right now. Only $1.99 in ebook and $6.99 in paperback, you’ll have my crazy little stories about life and how all these problems around you serve as the real excitement you’ve been seeking. The chapters are short and the questions might make you squirm, but I’d rather be out there on that sunny mountain than stuck, waiting for air. Here’s your fresh breath. From my heart to yours.
Did you know that sprints are the number one exercise to fight belly fat? About two years ago I began sprinting. I began with a ten-minute timer and have worked my way up to twenty minutes. I set the timer for twenty minutes and run as fast as I can from thirty seconds down to zero, walk for thirty seconds, and hit it again on the following thirty. Most of the days I've shot across the pavement with my jogging stroller, baby in tow, throughout sun, slushy puddles, and wintry clouds overhead. Last weekend was a first -- I went out on my own, the four-year old preferring to stay inside and watch cartoons. So my soles rammed against the concrete, amid potholes, leaves, and burning sun. While salty drips dribbled down my temples, my brain got to whirling.
Why do we commit? Why do we give up? How do we keep going? What do we do when we want to cave, want to decline, want to bow out? Do you call in sick, or do you buck up and slam the toes against the cold ground?
Here are my thoughts from my run last weekend. Hope the encourage you and inspire you to persevere, even when the winter clouds tumble down.
5 Tips for Committing (Life Lessons I Learned From Sprinting)
ONE: Do it for you and no one else. Make it your business to fully follow through your commitments.
You agreed to do the thing. Own your choice and dive into enjoying the work, offering your best capabilities, and hanging in until you no longer need to do the work. You control your action and attitude. Build your own excitement and fulfillment in the work. If you look at a job or task and tell yourself you are doing it because someone asked it of you, or you are “out” of something if you don’t do it, then that takes you out of your business and out of your power. Take hold of your capability to do the work you chose to do. You could be doing something else; you will eventually be doing something else. While you do this job, do it because you know you can do it and better the lives of others in the process. Look at your task as an act of service, for others and yourself.
Find something to be grateful for in the work and look for the opportunity to learn and engage your inner warrior. Consider this a time to build your tool box.
TWO: Employ grace for your season.
When I first began running, I pushed my forty-pound daughter in the jogging stroller. I’ve grown accustomed to shoving the burden ahead of me, with a slot for my water bottle and my phone to blast the tunes. But you know what? You can run so much faster without a stroller.
What baggage do you have? What season are you in? Have grace with yourself for whatever season you’re in. Do your best right now and keep working toward the coming season while celebrating the current one. Avoid comparing your story to someone else’s. One day you may be sprinting clear and free, no stroller, no handbag, no accompanying soundtrack. That may be relieving or intimidating. Regardless, employ grace for your season.
Whatever season you are in, whatever baggage you are dealing with in your commitments, allow some wiggle room. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. As Jess Glynne sings, don’t be so hard on yourself. Run your race. Dig in to your sprints. And allow time and space for the extra weight you’re pushing along the track. If you insist on running full force and physically cannot do it, then don’t commit to doing more than you can handle. Be honest to the people with whom you’ve committed and allow space for the stroller. In the long run (especially the long run!) everyone will thank you for the honesty and grace you employed. That’s wisdom.
THREE: Set time limits.
Committing to something for an endless amount of time overwhelms most people. Deep in the trenches of life and stress and sinks full of dishes, even the heartiest soul considers giving up. So prepare to invest in your activities by committing for a certain time. Maybe it is a twenty-minute workout, three times a week, for six months. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to do something for thirty days. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to say, “I will do this every Monday for one year.” Can you do that? Specify your time limits and purpose your expectations.
Now, let’s level up. Extend the time. Extend what you think you can do. Add five seconds. Add a day. Add a couple inches. Many runners slow down at the end of the race. Expect the race to last longer. Place your mental finish line farther than you think you can go.
In my research into training and military exercises, I came across some videos instructing how to punch. Set your feet, own your placement on the mat, and punch through the punching bag. The strongest punch doesn’t aim for the front of the bag; the strongest punch aims for the back of the bag. Use this same strategy for your commitments. If you know that you can commit for six months, allow for seven, mentally. If you need to run a race, train by running farther. Don’t just end where everybody else is ending. Punch through to the other side of the punching bag.
Set yourself up to win by setting your expectations and accountability limits. Own your limits, and then blast through them. Intentionally focus on specific boundaries, and then go one step further. The only limits you have are the one you set for yourself. Detail them and raise the bar for yourself, for you are stronger than you know.
FOUR: The smoother the ground underfoot, the easier it is to stay upright.
How much do you believe in yourself? Do you have a solid foundation, confidence in your competence to do the task?
My neighborhood is apparently packed with crumbly streets, leaves, potholes, and rocks. And I’ve trekked over them for years. One street recently got the nice treatment and it’s smooth, black, and freshly tarred. The difference between running over the potholes and on this one fresh slab of smoothness suddenly illuminated a truth: you can run faster when the road’s clear, when there are no rocks in your shoes or on your path. While you can’t take the obstacles out of your path, you can believe in your abilities, your path, and your journey. What kind of foundation are you treading upon? Doubt in yourself serves as a pothole. Doubt in your capabilities, letting the fear creep in? That’s like running with a spike in your shoe.
Avoid comparing your road to anyone else’s. Your journey has a twisty, windy path with obstacles built just for you. The obstacles will help you get faster and stronger – are you moving ahead, one step at a time?
Get the rocks out of the way. Take the grime out of your shoes. The road will have obstacles and twists and hills, but you’ve got to trust your feet and find your own smooth track.
FIVE: Decide what story to tell.
What’s the story? When the plot has a great story, readers stick around to the end. This step consists of basically finding your “why” but maybe you haven’t personalized it enough or been intentional with it. What’s depending on this seven years from now? Twenty-seven years from now? What brought you here from seven years ago?
How do you know when to end a commitment you’ve made? Think about the ending of the story. Many times I’ve thought about giving up on my sprints before the time expires, shutting down my writing career, or just not going to the gym because I’m not “feeling it” that day. But then I think about the story I want to tell about it. How do I want the story to end, and what will make a satisfying ending for this task I’ve committed to doing? When I’m happy with the ending, that’s when the task has been completed. Not all stories have happy endings, but I’m determined to serve the character I will be in seven years. She needs me to follow through right now. I’m not sure why; but in seven years I’ll get back to you and we can chat about it. What story will you be telling in seven years about your commitments? And how will that story end?
Take a step back and consider the lives at stake, the risks involved, and what kind of story you want to tell about following through with the commitments. Maybe you just need a change in perspective to see how important this ability to persevere and commit will forge you into the hero you are. Go, hero, go!
Sprinting along the streets in my neighborhood, wobbling along with my jogging stroller, gasping in the sizzling Texas air, has offered me a wealth of knowledge. I’ve released some stress, some sweat, and gained some inspiration. Now it’s time to level up.
Run as fast as your dirty silver sneakers will carry you.
The timer’s running.
How will you commit to your promises? What story will you design? Are you running for yourself or in the name of something greater? Are you excited about the pavement? The gritty pathway awaits. I’m right here too.
During the 1988 Calgary Olympics the world saw the debut of the Jamaican Bobsled Team, and also where Eddie “The Eagle” soared into last place as a famously unsuccessful ski jumper. The media called him, “Mr. Magoo,” and “a heroic failure.” At the closing ceremonies of the 1988 Olympics, Frank King, organizer of the Olympic Committee stated, “You have captured our hearts. You have broken world records and you have established personal bests. And some of you have soared like eagles.”
Michael “Eddie” Edwards spent three years of his childhood wearing plaster casts on his legs after a noble yet unnecessarily dangerous risk blocking a soccer goal, damaging the cartilage in his knee. He wore thick glasses. At the age of thirteen he began downhill skiing, and by the age of seventeen he had advanced on the British national skiing team. He decided to pursue ski jumping due to lack of funding for the costly downhill skiing. He traveled the European ski circuit in his mother’s van, utilizing second-hand equipment. He earned money doing odd jobs, such as babysitting, mowing lawns, and working in hotels. The Italians gave him a helmet, and the Austrians handed over a pair of extra skis. His boots were too large, so he wore six pairs of socks to fill the gap. “When he broke his jaw, instead of paying to be treated at a hospital, he tied it up with a pillowcase and went about his business” (The Guardian). Edwards received news he qualified for the British Olympic Team while staying at a Finnish mental hospital—he’d booked their accommodations for the cheap cost of one pound a night.
Edwards was twenty pounds heavier than the other ski jumpers, and barely scraped by the minimum qualifications for ski jumping. But he was the fastest ski jumper from Britain.
At the 1988 Olympics, fellow Olympians watched as Eddie smashed into a glass door at the airport, crushing his skis and ruining some of his gear. But despite all these difficulties, Eddie persisted. The media ran with his story and ridiculed him. Fans adored him. They rooted for the underdog. He participated in all three jumps, and scores landed him absolutely last place. According to Wikipedia, “In the 70 [meter jump], he scored 69.2 points from two jumps.” Next to last place, “Bernat Sola Pujol of Spain scored 140.4 points. Winner Matti Nykänen of Finland had 229.1 points.” Underwhelming results didn’t stop him from showing up and jumping to the best of his ability. And the whole crowd rooted for him.
See, we love an underdog. We love seeing someone dedicate and overcome. We love to see the guy who doesn’t give up, no matter what.
In 1990, the International Olympic Committee even made an “Eddie The Eagle Rule,” raising the minimum qualifications. As People magazine stated, “stricter qualification rules were imposed, making it nearly impossible for Eddie the Eagles of the world to ever make the Olympics again.”
Edwards sold the movie rights to his life story in 2007, and production halted on the movie until the right people fell into place. In 2016, the movie “Eddie The Eagle,” starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman hit theatres, which is where I first saw this fantastic story of heart and grit. We all have our Eddie moments. Ever been wearing six pairs of socks to fill someone else’s boots? Are you out of your league? Are you underprepared and financially incapable? <Raises hand.> Eddie braved it all and didn’t look back.
Even considered a “heroic failure,” he still went to the Olympics, man. And he was mentioned in the closing ceremony address, to thunderous applause.
Maybe you’re dreaming of big things and great stories. Maybe you’re stuck facing overwhelming odds against you, and fears which leave you crippled in your spot.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to soar.
Master a mindset of excellence. You've been put on this blue sphere within this time and space for a specific number of reasons. Create success in the strength of the Lord. He's given you the opportunity to achieve great tasks, so rise to the occasion.
Let's explore our first facet of an excellence mindset: Owning your power.
In the strength of the Lord, you can do all things. God has set you in your beautiful time and space for a reason. You can do remarkably more than you know. You’re created to do good works. So as you find yourself working toward this larger, greater goal (sometimes you don't even know what it is, but you're on your way!), you will have to kick it in gear. You will be distracted, discouraged, and lonesome. But you are here, you are mighty. As a believer in our almighty God, you have the strength to move mountains. Mountains of paperwork, it may feel like at times, but you can and must do it. God’s got endless resources of patience, endurance, moxie, and hope, so lean on him to power you through late nights, empty voids of space where you need to be studying, creating, and doing your good work. He funnels these resources into our souls and fuels us toward success. The hardest part? You must keep stepping onward, in humility and intent.
This journey belongs to you. It’s not your mom’s, it’s not your brother’s, it’s not your kid’s, it’s not your teacher’s, it’s not your peer’s. It’s yours. Claim it. Own it. Rock it.
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