Goal Setting for Real Progress

New year, new you, right? We’ve all made New Year’s resolutions filled with lofty aspirations, only to find ourselves feeling defeated by February. You’re not alone. Setting goals that are too ambitious often leads to disappointment and discouragement, leaving us hesitant to even try again. Most of it is bull crap. If you’re nodding in understanding, then join the club.

The problem, often, lies in our approach to goal setting. We aim for the stars, only to land in mediocrity, or worse, give up altogether. It’s time to break the cycle of unrealistic expectations and set goals that are more realistic, sustainable, and lead to actual progress rather than disappointment.

Be Realistic

Remember Henry Ford’s words, “Fail to plan. Plan to fail.” Setting goals that are wildly out of reach is a recipe for discouragement. Instead, focus on incremental steps, small victories that build momentum and keep you motivated. Want to run a marathon? Start with a walk around the block. Aiming for a promotion? Focus on exceeding expectations in your current role. Remember, progress, not perfection, is the key.

Activity Based Goals vs. Outcome Based

Often, we get caught up in desired outcomes, “I want to lose 10 pounds,” or “I want a corner office.” But focusing solely on outcomes can leave us feeling directionless. Instead, shift your focus to activity-based goals. “I will walk 3 times a week,” or “I will take one online course relevant to my career goals.” Activity-based goals define the steps you’ll take, making the journey itself the focus, not just the distant finish line. This shift in perspective keeps you engaged and motivated, celebrating each step towards your ultimate goal.

Leave Room for the Unexpected

Life is a messy, unpredictable thing. Clogging your schedule with to-dos and commitments leaves no space for the unexpected, the spontaneous adventures, the moments of connection that make life truly meaningful. Schedule some buffer time, some white space in your calendar where the unexpected can unfold. Remember, sometimes the most valuable goals are the ones that emerge organically from the space we create for them. Meaningful conversations with loved ones and adapting to life’s curveballs are just as important as achieving your goals

Include Fun Goals

Let’s face it, all work and no play makes for a pretty dull year. Make sure your goal list isn’t solely composed of career aspirations and fitness routines. Include fun! Plan a weekend getaway with friends, learn a new hobby, join a book club. Prioritize activities that bring you joy and connect you with the people you love. Including these in your goals and plans will prevent burnout and keep you energized for the long haul.


Goal setting isn’t about reaching some impossible ideal. It’s about creating a roadmap for progress, a framework for intentional living. By setting realistic, activity-based goals, leaving room for the unexpected, and making sure to include some fun, you’ll be setting yourself up for a year of meaningful growth, not just empty promises. So, grab your notebook, ditch the pressure, and get excited about the journey of setting goals for real progress. Remember, the best goals are the ones that make you feel alive, not just exhausted. Happy goal setting!

Character Development Paper – Discipline for Tweens and Early Teens

Our two oldest kids are both in middle school – the tween and early tween years.  They are beyond spanking, naughty corner, and to an extent, they’re even over being “grounded”, or restricted, from things.  So I remembered that when I was their age one of my good teachers would punish my fellow misbehaved students and myself by making us handwrite what was called a “Maturity Paper.”  It was a creative correction of that time, and it must have been at least somewhat effective because I remember it all these years later.

I don’t have a copy of the maturity paper and couldn’t remember everything it said, but I remember the gist of it being to outline what it means to be mature and why it is important.  One point it made that I remember being very impactful for me was, “Maturity doesn’t have to say ‘I told you so’.”  I think I still struggle with that one because, well, it’s a fact, I’m right a lot, and when that becomes obvious in situations people tend to never admit they were wrong so it’s hard not to tell them.  The same is true with ideas, there is always someone claiming an idea like it was their own when it isn’t.  Anyway – I’m definitely not an expert which means I’m wrong sometimes, and I’m telling you now that this idea was not all my own.  I’ve come a long way 🙂

Since I couldn’t find a copy of the maturity paper that helped me when I was a kid, I decided to make one up on my own, and I’m calling it a ‘Character Development Paper’.  Just so you don’t read this and think that I’m a terrible narcissist (everybody has some narcissism – at least I admit it), I’m going to walk through each part of it and explain my thoughts and intentions for why it is written the way it is.  And don’t forget – you are the expert at what your kids need, so you are completely free to customize this how you see fit.  So here’s how it starts:

I,   (name)   , as a Christ following believer, understand that my life is a journey of becoming the best version of who God created me to be.  I understand that developing strong character is one of the fundamentals of my journey, and it is especially important to build a foundation of strong character in the adolescent stage of life I am in.

Ok – obviously we’re identifying the victim, I mean the offender deserving of this consequence.  The part about being a believer is because I know that my kids have professed their belief in Jesus Christ as our savior, so I am tying the purpose of this paper to their pursuit of God’s plan for their life which includes being a living example of Jesus.  The reference to “the adolescent stage of life” is because if you haven’t had kids this age yet you will find out that they think they are much older and much more mature than they really are, and I included that language in this paper to remind them very factually – they’re still kids.  People often mention that teens want to be treated like adults and I think they confuse the point that to mean that having the freedom of an adult without having the responsibility of one.  So I’m starting to treat my kids like adults by letting them know that to be responsible with the freedom of an adult requires having strong character.

I’m thankful my parents are also Christ following believers who love me and care about my best interests.  They have reasonable expectations of me with the intention of helping me develop strong character, learning ability and working skills.

Our world is full of people telling our kids that parents are lame, we don’t understand them, and we’re unnecessarily protective or restrictive.  By including this section in the paper I’m having my kids put in writing that we share a faith that drives us and I do understand that.  I have a saying that goes, “I don’t have to be an expert at trends to be an expert a sins.”  Don’t tell me I don’t understand what kids are facing just because it’s on a digital device nowadays, and besides that I’m not so old I don’t see the pressures of all the ways ‘things are different’ now.  In this section I’m having them write that we love them and every decision we make is because of their best interests, and I’m making it clear that part of my job is to teach them character, teach them what they need to know to have a learning ability that enables them to learn whatever they need to know throughout life, and teach them how to work and apply their character and learning ability.  With character, teachability, and work ethic they can go figure out what they love and are gifted to do and they can accomplish great things.

It is up to me to respect my parent’s knowledge, experience, and authority;  to learn from their example of striving to develop stronger character in our family, including themselves.  It is up to me to discipline myself to follow my parent’s expectations to the best of my ability at all times.  Failure to do so not only hinders my own development, it might also hinder the impact I have for God.

The point of this section is to help our kids realize that we all have to take ownership of our own character development.  Writing this lets them know that we are working on our own character just as much as they should be working on theirs.  It also reminds them of the verse about honoring your mother and father and failing to do that is sin and sin hinders not only their development, and not only their relationship with us and God, but it can also hinder the impact they have for God.  Yes, we’re all forgiven and God can use our mess for His message and our pain for His purpose and any other preacher tagline we can think of right here.  But even God would rather us not have a mess and pain if we would simply choose not to, so it is ok for us to want our kids to avoid mess and pain.

Romans 5:3-5 states:  “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Suffering through hand-writing this serves as a reminder that I owe it to God, myself and others to stop denying my development by choosing

         (fill in behavior or choice to correct)       

Writing this signifies my choice to rejoice in the suffering required to develop the character that produces hope I am not ashamed of – hope in God’s purpose for my life.

In this section I want my kids to start learning that being a Christian isn’t just a get out of hell pass and that we’re not supposed to act however we want just because we’re forgiven.  I want my kids to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit in us that causes us to feel conviction.  I want them to learn to embrace the process of accepting consequences and allowing the suffering to strengthen their endurance through it so that their character is shaped on the other side of it and that keeping our hope in God’s love and purpose for our life is the point of it.

Some other things to note.  I don’t use this all the time.  In fact, I’ve only used it a few times.  I find myself going to it in situations where I feel very frustrated with the behavior I’m observing – usually repeated behaviors rooted in a lack of character that is not changing with other forms of correction.  It seems to be very well received and we’re believing it is effective.  Developing character is a lifelong process – time will tell.  Here’s what I know with great certainty.  If my kids have to write this as much as I had to write that maturity paper, it will leave a lasting impression.

Go ahead and download a copy by clicking this link:

Character Development Paper


character building

10 Ways To Be a Real Man

Years ago I sent an email to my son, knowing that one day he would be given access to that email account, and hoping that email would be a valuable lesson for him. I don’t recall where I read this, but I’ve been delighted to now know that my inclination about it was right, because my 13-almost-14 year old son not only loves the lesson, he has been sharing it with his friends.  When I mentioned my delight on FACEBOOK some folks were interested in knowing what the lesson was, so here it is:


Hey Son,

In a world where there’s mixed messages about what it means to be a real man I want to help you learn the truth.

There are three false ideas of masculinity: athletic ability, sexual conquest, and wealth accumulation. Instead, true masculinity is defined by two principles. One is relationships…to love and be loved by your family. The other is to live for a purpose bigger than yourself.

Here are the some things you need to know about true manhood:

  • Being a gentleman is still worth the effort:
    • Hold the door.
    • Stand up when a woman leaves or joins the table.
    • Walk on the “splash” side of the sidewalk.
    • Attempt (gently) to pick up the tab.
    • Go get the car when it’s raining.
    • Offer your hand…
  • At the same time, be respectful: All the above “gentlemanly” actions must be offered subtly, and  – if necessary – set aside graciously when refused.
  • Take responsibility: In a word (well, two), “step up.” True manhood takes responsibility for its actions, choices, values and beliefs. And – while taking responsibility, manhood is also willing to admit – with grace – when it is wrong.
  • Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable: Real strength allows other people in. Manhood is honest about feelings and not afraid to be known. True manhood never builds a wall where there should be a window, or a fortress where there should be a sanctuary.
  • Actually “being” a man is more important than “talking” like one: Real men don’t just stand up and speak up – they “put up” too. Loud talk and tough posturing don’t cut it. True manhood involves finding a need and doing something about it. Real men don’t complain about social problems – they go out and do something about them. Real men don’t point fingers – they work for solutions. Real men get calluses on their hands – not from flapping their lips.
  • Listen respectfully, disagree politely and never exclude women from conversation: True manhood is inclusive. It may be strong, but it’s unfailingly polite. Men who equate bluster or machismo with strength are typically covering something up. Men who think women have nothing to contribute to the conversation need to wake up and smell the 21st Century.
  • Love is stronger than muscles: True manhood understands that brute force is less compelling than self-giving love. The best solutions to difficulties involved applied love.
  • The first shall be last: True manhood puts others first. Jesus is quoted more than once as saying something like this: If you want to be a leader, then the place to be is on your knees, with a towel in your hand, washing someone’s feet.
  • Manhood is – sometimes – more about what you could do but didn’t than what you could have avoided but did anyway: There’s a lot of restraint – a great deal of “Quiet Strength” in true manhood. Real men tend to always have something in reserve.
  • True manhood is more about giving than about getting: Our culture often touts a “men see what they want, then they go out and get it” view of manhood. But true manhood is more along the lines of “see what the world needs, then go out and do it.” Strength leveraged for the benefit of others.

I want you to know I’m here to help you understand these things and make them a part of the man you’re meant to be.

I love you,




When Feeling It Is Too Late


For years my financial friends and I have beaten our heads against the wall over and over again because of one simple question: “What do we do to teach young people how to start off on the right track with money earlier rather than later?”  It sounds like a simple question, but it is complicated as…well, it’s just very complicated.  But I can’t let it go.  I have to do something.

The idea is to help young people avoid the mistakes many of us make as we enter adulthood clueless about money because we know that avoiding those mistakes can set people up for accelerated success in life.  I know the argument against this idea.  “Kids aren’t interested in learning about money because they don’t have any”, or, “they don’t have any responsibility yet”, or, “they don’t want to hear about it.”  I’ve got a response to all of that, but first I’ll agree with the fact that many people, maybe even most, are still going to have to learn the hard way.  For whatever reason they won’t listen, or they’ll disregard the timeless wisdom, or they’ll simply make mistakes.  We all make mistakes, just some of us worse than others.

Now for my responses to those typical reasons why we shouldn’t bother teaching young people about money:

Do we give teens a license and keys to a car without making them first prove they know how to drive?  Do we give them a gun without teaching them how to shoot it, a knife without showing them how to handle it safely?  I know those are extreme leading questions, so how about one a little less dramatic.  Does the YMCA let kids go down the water slide just because they want to, or do they make them prove they can swim so they don’t drown?  Why do we reason that it’s ok to let young people mismanage money to the point of drowning in debt before we teach them how to swim?

It isn’t a matter of whether or not they have any money.  They WILL have money one day, and that day might come sooner if we teach them how to be trusted with money.

It isn’t a matter of whether or not they have responsibility.  They WILL have responsibilities one day (unless they’re never expected to grow up and move out), and again that day might come sooner if we teach them that earning trust with money requires responsibility.

It isn’t a matter of whether or not they want to hear it.  They don’t want to hear “save sex for marriage” either, but we tell them to anyway.  It’s a matter of telling them what they NEED to hear, not just what they WANT to hear.

Let me be clear that I completely understand learning financial management is not as high a priority for teens as other issues are, such as actually having a relationship with Jesus, developing the discipline to follow Him, dealing with peer pressure, sexual temptation, drugs, depression, etc etc etc.  There’s a long list of things that I’ve heard referred to as “felt” needs for teens, meaning those needs are much more pressing matters in the present than something that’s in the future.  Trust me, I get it.  Believe it or not, I was a teen once upon a time, and with young teens of my own, I’m seeing their struggles more every day.  BUT, that doesn’t make learning to manage money any less important, and it certainly doesn’t  mean I’m leaving my kids’ knowledge of money management to chance.

The problem with waiting to address issues when they’re “felt” needs is that by the time most things are a “felt” need it is already too late.  They’re already having sex.  They’re already giving in to peer pressure.  They’re already playing around with drugs.  They’re already suffering from depression, etc etc etc.

I recently asked an actual college student when he thought is the right time to make sure students are taught financial management.  He said, “No later than junior or senior year in high school, because if you wait any longer than that it’s probably too late for most people (because of the student loans, credit cards, and for some even car loans that students begin to pile on in college).”  So basically even this young man in that stage of life understands that it is better to be equipped to make wise decisions before being in the stage of life rather than being told later on that the decisions they’ve already made are a problem.  These young people aren’t stupid, and they don’t appreciate being treated like they are.  If they’re like me they’ll one day reach a point in their life where they ask the question, “Why didn’t anyone teach us this stuff in school or why didn’t our parents teach us, OR why couldn’t they teach us this stuff at church?”

If we would talk about money with young people more, I guarantee many of them understand the “felt” need more than we give them credit for, because they’ve watched their parents suffer through one of the toughest economic recessions in history.  I guarantee they would understand that waiting until financial management is a “felt” need typically means someone is already in way over their head in debt and other poor financial choices and habits.  But they won’t understand that if we aren’t talking about it.

Teaching our kids about money is part of our responsibility as parents, as the ones gifted with the opportunity to disciple our kids to be the best living example of Jesus they can be to the world who needs hope.  My kids accepted Jesus as Lord and savior at an early age and adopted the belief that God’s word is truth that provides guidance for how we live our life.  I want them to understand ALL of God’s principles so they can apply them to how they live at any stage of life.

I am far from a perfect parent.  My wife and I are struggling every day to raise our kids the way we feel God has called us to.  The last thing I want to do is come across like I’m some sort of parenting expert.  But please hear me out.  We do everything we can to not only recognize what our kids are dealing with now but to also look ahead and see what they’re going to be dealing with next.  We know there are multiple stages and phases of life for our kids, and we don’t want to be so overwhelmed with fixing what’s now that we can’t prepare them for what’s next.

Teaching young people about money is also part of our responsibility as a church.  It pains me, literally drives me nuts, that we as a church, in general, are sending young people off into the “real world” to earn and manage money on their own with little to no knowledge of financial stewardship.  I know that regardless of what we might teach them they’re going to make mistakes, but they might make fewer or less severe mistakes if we taught them.  I know that generally speaking there are so many young people that need to be reached with the gospel that it doesn’t make sense to teach them financial stewardship.  But what about the hundreds of thousands of them who DO claim to follow Jesus but they’re living according to the world instead of the word with regard to money?  THOSE are the ones we’re called to disciple, as a church, to not only proclaim the gospel but to also live by the word of God in a way that makes their example a proclamation of the gospel.

We all know that God fearing people raised in church are usually more likely to be moral and productive citizens as adults.  Yet it is no secret in church-world that “the last thing people typically surrender to God is their wallet”.  We’ll lie, cheat, steal, and murder before we’ll surrender that to God.  It is astounding that we don’t see the correlation more clearly.  Lack of surrender in one thing leads to lack of surrender in all things.

Do we really believe as a church that we learn that sinful lack of financial surrender as adults?  Do we really believe that the only way to change that sinful lack of surrender is to wait until it is a “felt” need?

It is time to start instilling the discipline and direction all Christians need to fulfill our purpose in Christ earlier in our walk with Him rather than later.  There is no better time to build that foundation for early age Christians than when we are young and don’t yet have the obstacles of adult responsibilities to constantly challenge our faith and compromise our complete surrender.  It is time to stop being so satisfied with “it’s never too late” and be more excited about “it’s never too early.”  The “never too late” mentality is for people who are ok with being late to start with.  The “never too early” is for people who know the power of having a head start.

Anything built on a foundation that has huge gaps in it will be weak when storms come over time.  What if the fire and desire young Christians have for pursuing Jesus is coupled with discipleship that builds a strong and complete foundation for their faith to grow on?  Imagine the impact Christians can have over the course of their life if their foundation of faith is complete with financial stewardship from the beginning rather than being burdened with filling the gap when it becomes a problem.

Every now and then we hear a story of a small group of youth taking steps to sacrifice their own financial needs or desires in order to provide a blessing to others.  What if instead of hearing about only a small few we started seeing the movement of many in that direction?  What if instead of only a select minority of wealthy young people learning to manage money well into early adulthood we saw an entire generation of young people already free from financial pitfalls and poised to change the world?

The current generation of young people making their way into adulthood and taking on the “real world” is a generation that is passionate about doing things that make a difference.  They care about causes that make the world a better place.  But they are just as clueless about financial stewardship as the generation before them and the generation before them and the generation before them, all the way up to the current baby boomers who are retiring broke.  The rising generation will have an exponentially greater impact if we teach them to be better financial stewards sooner.

I’m not sure what else can be said to make this point more clearly.  We can agree that teaching financial stewardship to entire youth groups might not be the most pressing need in general.  But for the young people claiming to follow Jesus, there is no reason to wait because being a Christian includes being a financial steward.  It’s up to us to equip them for the road that lies ahead.  They might not be ready to apply it now, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give them what they need to apply it later.

The greatest challenge my financial friends and I have had over the years is not the challenge of making money management interesting or relevant to young people.  It isn’t the challenge of helping young people see the need in their future.  The greatest challenge we’ve faced is getting the adults making decisions about what the young people are taught to provide the opportunity for them to hear.  Parents obviously aren’t doing a great job teaching it.  Schools barely teach it or don’t at all.  The same is true of colleges and universities.  And then there’s the church, the one collective group of people that has the most timeless financial wisdom in the world, the best money book ever written, the Bible.  But we are only teaching financial stewardship when it’s too late.  As a brother in Christ, I ask you, what can we do to change that?

All Inclusive Budget Tool

Today I’m excited to share a new tool with anyone who it might help with the task of managing finances.

Proverbs 21:5 simply states “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” That very clear verse is one of many instructions in the bible that is a basis for our belief that we should have a plan for our finances. It is the basis for budgeting.

I believe one very important detail that is missing from many peoples’ plan is the diligence of tracking the performance of the plan – or the execution. It’s important to know exactly how our plans are working so we know whether or not the plan needs to be tweaked or our behavior needs to be modified. Telling every dollar where to go on paper is only as effective to our financial progress as our actual telling every dollar where to go in reality, and the only way to know if we’re doing a good job is to diligently track that reality. Nothing is more frustrating about financial planning than having a plan and wondering why it isn’t working.  Unless there is a measurement of execution we can’t identify problems with the plan.

There are many tools in the form of softwares or apps available for budgeting and tracking reality. However, many of the people we coach are not using those tools, and when we were hitting rock bottom with our finances we weren’t either. The most effective method of managing financial details for my family and many others has been to simply use a spreadsheet. The only problem is there aren’t many spreadsheets out there that offer a great way to track actual performance along with the budget. For years myself and many other financial coaches using spreadsheets have not had a great way to also coach people to track transactions without referring them to some other app they’re not likely to use. A couple of years ago I posted a solution to this problem, and now it’s getting upgraded, but it is still as simple as a spreadsheet.  Here it is:

All Inclusive Budget Tool (click to download)

There are instructions (that will probably change along the way) inside the spreadsheet. There are extra sheets for tracking debt snowball progress, another for the impact of interest on debt, and others for non-monthly expense planning, and another for mini-budget (special occasion planning). I’ve been calling this an all-inclusive tool because it truly does give most people a place to manage the most common financial details. My hope and prayer is that it serves you well in planning and diligence.

New Year 2016


It’s a new year. Actually we’re 14 days into it already. Two weeks out of 52 are complete, and if you’re like me you still feel in some ways like you’re not yet fully recovered from the holidays. Time flies, the great equalizer of all mankind.

Two weeks ago we had all these plans of things we were going to accomplish for the year. Two weeks ago we had all these goals and milestones set, narrowing our objectives down to very specific daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly activities that should get us to where we want to be by the end of the year.

How are we doing? How’s that workout plan going? How’s that budget going? How’s that time management plan going? How are we doing staying on top of all those tasks we set out so vigorously to maintain no matter what this year?

It’s tough! Sometimes it sucks. There are so many distractions and obstacles to overcome in the journey of becoming and accomplishing. Sometimes we have to stop and reevaluate. What is the purpose of this thing I’m doing? Is my plan really reasonable? Is my motive really God centered? Did I even really seek His will about it – what He wants me to become or whether He wants me to accomplish this or that, or by when?

Two weeks in is not too late to take some time to reevaluate, recalibrate, and rejuvenate. What are some things you really need to stop doing, or trying to do? What are some things you really need to start doing, or do them better? What are the things you’re doing to keep your motivation high, your focus narrow, and your actions precise and effective?

We’ve all heard these things before, but somehow we inevitably lose varying portions of the control we set out to have. We have to set time-bound goals, but who are we to put time limits on God’s plans? A great friend of mine once taught me when I was going through a difficult time to turn my frustration in to focus on what God is teaching me and how He is molding me and preparing me for the plans He has for me. That friend taught me to not be discouraged by what has happened in the past or what feels painful in the present, and to embrace the journey of becoming – balancing persistence and patience.

I feel like I’m adopting that mentality a little better all the time, and it certainly makes me see things differently when circumstances aren’t going my way. I believe the future is bright, and regardless of whether or not I perceive otherwise in moments of weakness, I’m counting it all joy knowing that faith produces patience (James 1:2-4).

These are all the things I’m thinking about for myself. It’s time to do a better job strategizing, prioritizing, and initializing. This life is too short not to. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).

Merry Christmas 2015!

Just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Asbell Family Christmas 2015

Life Is Too Short

Life is too short for lots of things, and lately I’m overwhelmed with that reality.  There’s always something worse to imagine going through than what we’re currently experiencing, and those thoughts might help us cope, but when we’re going through anything tough it can be a harsh reminder to do more…living.

March 26th is normally a wonderful day of celebration for my wife’s, Shawna, birthday.  But this March 26th will forever be marked as the date we lost a very close loved one – our brother (in-law), David Butts.  We are crushed with devastation, and our hearts ache deeply for our sister, Lenae, and their three boys, Gauge, Gavin, & Garen.  No matter how hard we try to love on them and no matter how bad we want to ease their pain, there is nothing we can do to bring David back or replace his love and relationship in their lives.

So many thoughts cross our minds as we think back on our time with David.  We should have ____ more.  The list of things to fill that blank with is endless, and the list of people we could try to fill the blank with is endless.  But life is also too short to try filling that blank with too many things, and it is definitely too short for trying to fill that blank with the wrong people.

As I reflected on that life truth in the days following David’s passing, I thought and prayed that I would live life to the fullest, that I would pursue God’s plan for me – for every relationship, moment, decision.  I live with the attitude that there is always room for improvement, for becoming – whatever we’re becoming.  (I even eluded to that in my talk at David’s memorial service because I believe David was living that way too, whether he knew it or not.)

One area of life I’ve struggled with for years is career.  I’ve known for quite some time that something needs to change.  I’ve felt a calling to something more.  I’ve had opportunities to do things that have helped me develop many skills and qualities.  But I’ve failed to make any significant changes in career path – mostly due to fear of financial failure.  Having these thoughts after our devastating loss I became full of determination to make my existing path look brighter or find another path,  I literally put on my to-do list, “plan talking points for (boss name) – something has to change”.

Before I even got a chance to schedule that conversation, and only a week after the devastating phone call about David’s death, I received another devastating phone call.  It was the boss letting me know that his company, that I’ve loyally served for 11 years, is going out of business.  This came as a complete shock to me because as far as I knew everything was going ok – not great but better than average so far this year for me and for the company too, so I thought.  It doesn’t matter though – the company is closing regardless of the reason, and I am left looking for a job.

Timing can seem crazy, but I believe it’s God’s plan.  Losing my job 8 days earlier might have freaked me out, but that perspective is different when receiving the news on the heals of losing a brother.  Don’t get me wrong – it sucks.  It’s like being kicked while you’re down, but I keep it in perspective by reminding myself it is nothing compared to living in a country where real threats exist – like lions or drug lords.

Apparently, God’s plan is not to stay on the path I was on or to try and fix something that was obviously broken – more than I even realized.  The question now is what exactly is the plan.  I’m completely open and willing to do anything.  Of course, there are certain things that might make more sense than other things but since when did everything God plans for us make sense to us?  No – I’m not limiting my options only to what makes sense.

I’m talking to anyone and everyone.  I’m open to anything.  It’s not all about how much money I can make, but I don’t want to be taken advantage of either.  It’s not all about working for the best company, but I don’t want to be with a losing organization either.  When it’s all said and done I want to be somewhere I feel challenged to continue growing personally, somewhere that wants more out of my qualities than the dollars I can produce, somewhere the people are valued, respected, and trusted, somewhere relationships are genuine and professional, and somewhere family and friends relationships are valued and encouraged.

When I say I’m talking to anyone, I do mean anyone.  I could do pretty much anything.  I’ve done corporate, small business, and ministry work.  I’ve worked in manufacturing process and supply chain management.  I’ve done print industry sales and account management.  I’ve taught and done public speaking.  I’ve overseen web projects, social presence, and other marketing.  I’ve done writing projects.  I’ve lead and managed and participated in team building.  I’ve done finances, forecasting, and strategy.  I love learning, and I love to be challenged.

So, I’m not limiting myself to one particular industry or ministry.  I’m looking for professional challenge, personal growth, and great relationships.  If there’s one thing I have learned from my brother David, it is that life is too short for anything less than…living.

Standing Up to Bullies

It seems bullying is getting a lot of attention these days. We’ve experienced it a little with our kids. The whole idea of bullying wasn’t getting so much attention wayyy back when I was a youngster, but it’s not like bullying is a new thing.

I think the biggest problem is kids aren’t being taught to stand up for what is right. We’re teaching our kids tolerance of everything and then wondering why no one stands up to the bullies of the world. We model for our kids an unwillingness to stand up for ourselves or someone else because of the fear of what our actions might cost us.

The root of this problem, and many other problems in life, is selfishness. The bully is a selfish person, obviously, and I don’t want to get in to all the possible reasons why.  The bottom line is bullies, and lots of other types of narcissist behaviors, all boil down to being selfish.

But isn’t it just as selfish to be aware of bullying and fail to address it? The right thing to do would be to try and stop the bullying. But we’re more concerned about what doing the right thing might cost us than we are about doing the right thing. We’re willing to sacrifice a lifetime of building the character and integrity it takes to do the right thing more than we are willing to sacrifice whatever temporary consequences another person can inflict upon us. This self-preserving mentality is passed on to our kids and they either get bullied or ignore someone else getting bullied, so bullying continues.

There’s a saying, “Nice guys finish last”, and I believe the reason that proves true is because there aren’t enough generally good and nice people willing to stand up for what is right and get back up when a bully knocks them down. What do we have to be afraid of? I’d rather die a torturous death and still have some character and integrity intact than watch bullies beat everyone down my whole life and do nothing about it.

I hope I’m teaching my kids to do what is right no matter the cost.

Keeping It Real Update

Quite some time ago I promised to keep it real on here, and I think I’ve done so to some extent, but it’s time for a big time transparent update because I believe that’s what God wants me to do right now.

If you’ve read our story (either in previous posts on this blog or in the e-book) then you know what my biggest struggle has been for quite some time – I live pretty anxious about finances.  Crazy I know – coming from a guy who has been unbelievably blessed and helps other people get on track.  But none of that means I am perfect or don’t experience setbacks that challenge my faith.

I could write a 5000 word report about all the reasons I’m feeling more pressure right now (business is wildly unpredictable, etc).  But there’s really no good point to make there – that’s life.  The lesson I’m learning (or being reminded of) is, that regardless of how bad financial circumstances get, God is still good and He will provide.  Being overly-stressed about things doesn’t change that, and trying to carry that burden on my own takes away from the glory God gets when we keep our faith in Him.

So I’ve been surrendering all this to God and sharing it with others every chance I get.  The money situation is tighter than it’s been in years and it does stress me out.  At times I believe it is a spiritual attack trying to prevent us from fulfilling a giving commitment we felt lead to make.  Just as there’s a God that loves us there’s an enemy that wants to destroy us.

Regardless of why things aren’t easy right now, my family and I will steward what we’ve been blessed with and keep our commitments.  Whatever the results, we’re keeping our focus on God and our faith in His promises.  So pray for us please.