Ask, seek, knock

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

– Matthew 7: 7-12 NIV

Having recently stepped into the “step-dad” role, I’ve realized a few things.

Kids are not very vague. Sure, they may beat around the bush a little bit in the beginning but after a minute or two, you know exactly why they are standing in front of you. They aren’t afraid to ask for what they want either, whether it’s material things or they need a ride to a friends house. They know what they want and they know when they want it. And if your initial response is “no”, they keep asking till you break!

No, I don’t really feel like getting dressed and driving you across town on a Friday evening but seeing the smiles and hearing the “thank you, thank you, thank you’s” makes it worth it and reminds me that I’ll be doing it several more times next week.

Knowing how that makes me feel, I can’t read Matthew 7 the same way I’ve read it so many times in the past. I want nothing for the best for our kids, I want to see them happy, I want to do for them.

How much more does God want to bless us, His children?

Maybe I have some unanswered prayers because I was too vague or not consistent enough? Maybe some of my prayers was like seeing that new toy in a commercial, when your child asks for it because it looks fun, but once the commercial ends they never mention it again. When that happens, I’m happy I saved the $50 and was able to save that for something they really want/need.

Praying should just be reciting THAT days wish list.

God wants to bless us, but just like parents, He’s not going to grant us every wish that crosses our mind.

When you really want something you’ll ask for it and keep asking. You’ll seek it and you will knock.

He knows our hearts desires, but He wants us to ask, He wants us to pray specifically.

He wants to reveal His will & ways, but He wants us to seek them out.

He wants to open doors for us, but He wants us to co-labor with Him and help ourselves get in-front of that door and to knock.

Ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking!
He’s a good good Father!

Marathon 2019!

At the time of this post, there are only 26 days remaining in 2018. Which also means we are just weeks or maybe even days away from beginning to hear all the grand New Year resolutions!

“New Year, New Me!”

I’m all for resolutions & goals and what better time to set them then at the turn of the year? You have a new wall calendar, a new daily planner and a fresh start, an empty palette.

What I have learned in the second half of my 42 years here is that life is a marathon, not a sprint. While it would be great to be able to accomplish all your goals in 2019, if you have $200k in debt and are carrying an extra 100 lbs, you may want to avoid the “sprint” approach.

Yes, a marathon is longer and may not have the instant gratification that the sprint brings, but have you ever experienced the joy of checking off a few realistic goals each month? Too often, we set unrealistic goal for ourselves and when we don’t achieve them, we end up throwing in the towel and giving up completely, rather than continuing to chip away.

If you have $200k in debt today, see how $196k feels in 3 months. Maybe in 3 months you won’t be a size 6, but you also won’t be a size 18 anymore either. Maybe you can’t conquer the mountain in just 12 months, maybe you’ll need 2 or 4 years to reach that goal but you can be closer in 6 weeks from now than you are today!

 “Thin-slice” your goals and create an avalanche from the small wins.

I use a 12 week annual strategic plan which I learned from my mentor, Dr. Kevin Hahn. It consists of a master plan for the year, broken down into a 12 week action plan and reviewed & adjusted every Sunday evening.

I list all my goals, the major goals that require hard work and even the smaller goals like taking my wife on more dates. I love our dates but I also love her home cooking every night so I have to set reminders to treat her more often.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. If your trying to break a bad habit, chances are they weren’t instantly created, so don’t be so hard on yourself if they are aren’t instantly broken by January 2nd… just keep at it!

“…And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1b NLT

Happy Thanksgiving!

I feel like a bit of a cheat this week. While Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for years now, filled with the greatest memories of family and Barry (Sanders), this year I have an unfair advantage.  I’m 2 days shy of being married for 2 weeks, to my soul mate. I’m on the mountain top of life now and while there are plenty of things that could be better, plenty of hopes, dreams, prayers that I am still “actively” waiting on, it would be “work” for me to find the negatives in my life now. There are plenty of areas I need to improve on, and I am. My life isn’t perfect, although on Thanksgiving especially, it seems pretty close right now.

I think about my life shift from 6 years ago, and even from one year ago and I have great anticipation for this year coming.

“I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be.” – Joyce Meyer

The waiting period

Let’s face it, nobody likes to wait. Whether you’re the 4th person in on the grocery line, staring at brake lights for a mile long on the expressway, or waiting for a desire/prayer to unfold, we would all rather “fast-pass” it and  jump on the HOV lane of life. Given the opportunity, we would all skip the waiting and in some cases, the testing period.

In my first two examples above, waiting is waiting. On the grocery line you can catch up on social media or emails, maybe even start a conversation with someone dealing with the same agony. In traffic, you can make that phone call (hands free, of course), or listen to a good podcast.

My third example can be a bit tricky. You know you will eventually be rung up at the Village Market and that the traffic will subside at some point, but how do we wait for something that may never materialize?

Waiting is both a noun and a verb. Depending on HOW you wait determines the function of speech.

We can wait for “it” to happen and go about our lives just hoping our time will come, or we can be active in our waiting.

Actively waiting takes on a whole new meaning.

I am reminded of this anonymous quote:

“A man once asked his father, Father, how will I ever find the right woman? His father replied, forget finding the right woman, instead focus in being the right man.”

This saying really stuck with me, in fact it literally stuck on the wall in my home office for a couple of years. Shortly after discovering this quote I came across a writing exercise that followed in the same vein. The first half of the exercise seemed pretty simple, define the woman of your dreams. As I continued reading I discovered it was much more complex than I had thought. They didn’t want just the top 3 things that came to your mind when you thought about “her”, they wanted you to create her. I was asked to fill up pages, listing every detail. Her height, hair, fashion style? What are her political, moral and religious beliefs? Education, career, retirement plans?

I was a taken back, since at this point I just kind of knew what my preference was, yet I was open to someone with black hair too.

I thought it could be fun so I spent the next  couple of days creating my dream girl.

OK, 7 pages later, I’m ready for part two. Part two of the exercise was just as tricky! Using the same amount of pages you used on the first part, describe the type of man that this girl would we attracted to.

Wow, this was an eye opener!

I started, but half way through this portion, I peaked ahead to step three, which was, “Now become that man”.

Truth be told, I never “formally” finished the second portion of this exercise, but I was sure glad I came across it. I saw how it made perfect sense, ”like attracts like”. If I wanted someone on this level, I needed to be there too. If I was unwilling to lower my standards, which I was, I had to make sure “we”, wherever she was, were on par.

Starting then and continuing now, I made changes to “be better”.

Less than 2 years later and still far from perfect, I married my “answered prayer” two weeks ago.

Does she “fit to a t” everything I wrote down back then, of course not. The exercise wasn’t about finding the perfect mate, it was actually nothing about a mate, it was about me.

I actively waited for her. I worked on myself, I made changes. I prepared myself for what I was hoping & praying for.

I’m in a season in my life where I am seeing other prayers, hopes and desires beginning to unfold and I find myself thinking about this exercise often. If I want “this”, am I “there” yet? Am I prepared, am I ready?

“Act as if” and be prepared.

Act as is you are going to meet your dream mate today, Act as if you are awaiting your dream job opportunity, Act as if your dream is about to be funded, Act as if you’re about to be able to fund your own dream, Act as if what you’re praying over your children is about to happen, Act as if today is going to be the best day ever.

Be “there” before your “there” gets “here”.