My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
purchase it at B & N, Amazon or (click on image of cover)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Awaken Into The New Year

As I was thinking about closing out another year on my life journey and moving forward into 2016 I was in my office listening to a P.O.D. cd The Awakening. Listening to them I always think back to a college student, Heath, I had when I taught at the TSTC Harlingen, Texas campus. He would come into my College Success class wearing a P.O.D. T-shirt. They were his favorite band he told me. Heath carried a positive energy in wanting to be a welder to help out his mother and younger brother in Rockport, Texas. His life was cut short by a young girl driver who was more interested in driving and talking on her phone than driving.

Listening to the title cut on the CD, I felt the song has a great message for preparing for the New Year. Each New Year can be a great awakening in moving forward to new growth and possibilities. To do so we need to take the moment mindfully to reflect and make the right choices in moving forward. Take a moment and listen to the song and reflect on the lyrics.

The Awakening by P.O.D. (Click on the title to hear music video)

I, I'll take this moment
to make up my mind and decide
If I want to stay broken
Or leave all these feelings behind
(Leave these things behind)

My, my eyes are open
So I can't deny
Say goodbye to all this commotion
And try and find your way so you can shine
(find your way to shine)

I'll stand unbroken
My eyes are open
My great awakening
The truth is spoken
My eyes are open
To this great awakening

I, I can feel the changes
It's how I want to be
And now I gotta keep it moving
If I really want to be free
(If I want to be free)

I, Still I will follow
Even if there's no one else but me
So let's live like there's no tomorrow
And love like if everyone believed
(If everyone believed)


My eyes are open
And now I can see
Everything before me
I'm right where I should be

The song to me brings about a reality about our lives that if we are open to the spiritual, mental and emotional struggles we face each year we each deal with areas of brokenness in our lives. As we move forward we each have the choice is we “If I want to stay broken, Or leave all these feelings behind.” The choice is ours to stay broken or grow to where our lives can shine as we are meant to shine. We are not meant to live stuck in brokenness. Often we are stuck by the brokenness or letting the commotion of life cloud our vision. In living a purposeful abundant life we are in an upward growth spiral of growth and shining a light to others to move upward in their lives as well.

The lines in the song “My eyes are open, My great awakening” remind me that for a personal awakening we need to be mindful of having our eyes open to our true selves. We can be blind to our brokenness if we are not willing to open our eyes. In the Bible Psalm 119:18 reminds us, “Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.” In Ephesians 1:18 the Apostle Paul prays for people “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”. So it is not the physical eyes that need to be opened but our spiritual insight that needs opened. This goes back to a personal choice to be open to having open eyes.

Another phrase that stands out to me is “And now I gotta keep it moving, If I really want to be free”. Keep moving is a reminder to not be stuck in brokenness or just the blasé attitude of just getting by ok. Make a positive choice to be free of okness and move to Living More Than OK by having a continual growth mindset. Our open eyes with the right choices can be fixed on a future of shining new opportunities. That is what I hope for people in the New Year of 2016.

Reflection: What particular phrases in the song “The Awakening” stood out to you? What brokenness have you experienced that may be holding you back from shining? In what ways do you want to shine in the New Year?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What Does Christmas Mean To You?

This Christmas I want to pose a question of What Does Christmas Mean To You? For each of us we carry differing memories of Christmas from our histories and family systems. I remember simple Christmas times growing up in a single parent home due to my father’s death when I was only two. My mother was a simple giving person. She would always remember missionaries she prayed for and at Christmas time send them Christmas calendars. She would also make up simple littles gifts to give to her friends. So Christmas was a time of giving and thinking of others.

Christmas was also a time of enjoying the Ohio snow with sledding on one of the local big hills. Building snow men and snow forts was fun as a child. Of course I appreciate more now the lack of snow, and warmer temperatures of our Christmases here near the Hill Country of Texas. I can always go back to the memories of enjoying the snow as a child.

I came across a Christmas CD recently that has been out for a few years, The Christmas Project by John Schlitt. It puts a harder rock edge on a number of the Christmas classics. I always enjoyed his singing with Petra, so I thought I would check it out. On the CD there was a song I had never heard of, What Christmas Needs To Be. I have the words printed here and a link to the actual song on Youtube. Give it a listen and think over What Does Christmas Mean To You?

What Christmas Needs To Be (click on title to hear song)

Whatever happened to this place I used to know so well.
I remember simpler times where did they go? Farewell.
Didn’t matter ‘bout the “how we make its”
We were happy just to celebrate it.
It’s Christmas now, The Gift of Heaven given.
Love can be found in every heart that hears it.
A Baby crowned, the Hope of our salvation.
He is what Christmas needs to be.
What would Christmas be without the things we dread.
What would happen if we chose to give ourselves instead.
It’s not about the gift we’re bringing.
It’s’ more about the song we’re singing
It’s Christmas now, The Gift of Heaven given.
Love can be found in every heart that hears it.
A Baby crowned, the Hope of our salvation.
He is what Christmas needs to be.
With just one life all things were changed.
A Child is born to light the way.
Didn’t matter ‘bout the “how we make its”
Just remember why we celebrate it.

As someone who comes to life from a Christian worldview the song helps capture what Christmas means to me. The message of the song points to how for me, Christmas is the hope and love of God that comes to us through His Son Jesus. An important phrase is “Love can be found in every heart that hears it.” We need to hear God’s message with anintent on believing it. The simple truth from John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him has eternal life.”.

Another important phrase for me is “What would happen if we chose to give ourselves instead.” This makes me think back to how my own mother was a giving person. The idea is to move beyond the idea that Christmas is all about the gifts and the stuff or as the song says the “how we make its”. Move more towards enjoying the simple moments of love and caring about those around us.

Christmas can be a stressful time. Take a break from the stress with a cup of hot tea, coffee, or chocolate and think through mindfully what actually Christmas means to you.

Reflection: What stood out to you personally as an important phrase in the song, What Christmas Needs To Be. Write down three of your most favorite Christmas memories from the past. Think over how you can make this Christmas more meaningful?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Growth Reminders From The 7 Habits

A friend sent me an email just the other day, wondering if I was alright since I had not posted a blog since mid-November. The ongoing saga of trying to complete my PhD Comps Exam has continued to wear me out but I am not down and out yet. A timely help of mental refreshment came in the form of a training workshop for my work as an adjunct professor for the Alamo Colleges in San Antonio. I had the privilege for the past two Saturdays to do all day training on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People based on the philosophy of Stephen R. Covey.

The two trainers from the Alamo Colleges made the trainings an enjoyable time due to their passion for the 7 Habits and their passion for instruction. It is always uplifting to see people doing what they love.

The 7 habits of highly effective people are as follows:

1 - Be Proactive
2 - Begin with the End in Mind
3 - Put First Things First
4 - Think Win-Win
5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
6 – Synergize
7 - Sharpen the Saw

As I reflect on the training time, my favorites of the habits are 1 and 7. Of course to be the best you can in habit 7 you need to be establishing habits 1-6 in your life. There are principles behind each habit that help us in living the best life possible and being the best we can be. Covey’s writings were one inspiration behind my book, Living More Than OK, as in that book my desire is for people to live the best life possible of abundant living.

In this blogpost I will share some of the reasons I find inspiration from my favorites of the habits; starting off with the habit 1 theme of “be proactive” which is the habit of choice. The principle behind this theme is, “I am free to choose and am responsible for my choices.” (Stephen Covey). We have unlimited opportunities when we understand that we are not victims but have the ability to make choices for the good in our lives. Too many people have bought into the myth that we are mere animals that respond to the stimuli around us and we can’t help the negativity that comes into our lives. We are victims the lies tell us. The first habit principle awakens us to the reality that within each stimulus that touches our lives we have the freedom to choose how to respond.

For example within this principle there is the concept “carry your own weather”. On cloudy days or rainy days it is easy to fall into the stimulus- response trap of being down and sad. But when you carry your own weather you can choose to live like a sunny day on a cloudy day. Choose to carry a smile and cheerful attitude on a cloudy day and see how your response to the day changes. There is power in the freedom to choose to move up from living ok, to Living More Than OK.

Looking at habit 7 the theme is “Sharpen the Saw” the habit of renewal. This habit reminded me of a time I tried to cut tree limbs with an old dull saw. Not very effective. Our lives are not effective either when we do not sharpen the saw. What is the saw in our life? It is -- our life—our inner being. The principle behind this habit is, “To maintain and increase effectiveness, we must renew ourselves in body, heart, mind and soul.” This habit speaks to the important need of lifelong learning and taking care of ourselves in all spheres of our lives: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. To be effective and live an abundant life there is a need to be balanced in each of these spheres of living.

I try to drive home to my college students and in my blog writings here, the importance of our personal choices. Our choices either move us in positive directions or negative ways so we need to choose with wisdom. Then we need to remember to never stop growing so as to stay sharp in responding to all the possibilities and opportunities that come across our life journey.

Reflection: How can you make wise choices in your life? Write down a few ways you can grow in the mental, physical, social/emotional and spiritual spheres of your life.