Hope without Him

As I sit down to write this post, I’m trying to remember the last time I wrote. What was I feeling? Where was I? What did I write?

Without knowing, I’ll push on.

Today’s post has been prompted by a message from my Church’s senior pastor. During a sermon which if I was honest, was not all that inspiring, Pastor Paul paused and said:

“Imagine life without Jesus. Life would seem pretty meaningless am I right?”

He didn’t pause for an answer, in fact I don’t know if he gave it another thought as he continued with his sermon and references to the sand slowly passing through the hour glass to his right. I, however, failed to concentrate on anything else.

How would my life be different without Jesus?

Sure, I love him, I think he died for me on the cross and his love can conquer all but in my day to day life … what’s his role beside a quiet word at night? The reality both shocked and saddened me.

Fast forward 24 hours and I’m sitting in a living room with a group of friends so close, their family. What better audience to ask the question of – maybe I shouldn’t be upset with myself … What if Jesus didn’t exist?

There faces read confusion before love poured out. I would miss the holy spirit, joy and peace … without Him, I couldn’t find hope.

What’s life without hope? Nothing

So I pause, as the long hand moves passed 11 pm and thank the Lord for Jesus and a reason to move past the fear and suffering in our world. To live in hope hope that He will come again and all will be made good.

Bloody biscuits

They’re walking the streets, they’re all over the TV and littered throughout my social feeds. With needles hanging from their arms like a badges of honour and biscuit crumbs spread across their proud smile … I’m sick of blood donors.

I can’t put my finger on it exactly but I know it has a lot to do with the whole I gave blood, I’m a hero mentality. If not this it’s the you should give too, they give you a biscuit statement.

Celebrating an anniversary, my wife and I saw The Martian last night and the pre movie advertising was dominated by a Red Cross ad overflowing with celebrity chefs raving excessively about the biscuit given post blood donation. The audience ate it up, people turned and commented whispering to each other the time and date if their next donation. Me, on the other hand, I clutched gently at my forearm and asked why?

Why discriminate? Why don’t you want me? Why must you rub it in my face? Why won’t you accept my blood?

This distaste hasn’t mustered overnight though has been a slow burning fire. It began with a letter.

Dear Luke,
Thank you for your donation … We regret to inform you that your blood is useless, you wasted your time and ours*.
*an exaggerated version of the original

I’d lived in England for twelve months in 1989/90, that was enough to discount the blood, that seems to be doing an OK  job of keeping me alive, from being donated. This is really why I’m sick of those needle and crumb decorated hero’s.

I’m jealous. I’m hurt. I have blood.

I’ve read the t&c’s and researched the reasons but I’d really like a mad cows screening test. If you can’t do that Red Cross, at least acknowledge it in your advertising – as sad as it is, we can’t all be heroes.

If you’ve been told your blood isn’t worthy join the conversation on Twitter with #TakeMyBlood

Love yourself and you’ll find you’re not alone

First of all l want to take the opportunity to say that I realise low self esteem isn’t something we choose. It is however all too common in our world not to fight the negative effects it has on our neighbours.

Dear neighbour, are there mirrors in your house?

Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t an accusation of hypocrisy. Just an honest question. If you’re one of the billions to label themselves ‘ugly’, ‘fat’ or a combination of both, you’ll not only know exactly where each mirror is but the location of every surface.

I urge you to take a good look in the biggest mirror your own.

What do you see? Take another look and this time seek the reflection just past the hideous monster you saw previously. Discard the opinions of the world along with your pre conceived thoughts on your own appearance.

Two eyes, two ears and a nose and a mouth, you’re blessed beyond belief.

You have sight, sound and the ability to share your thoughts. The emotional walls you’ve built around yourself are not required. You don’t have to do anything yet your heart beats and your lungs fill with air. You are beautiful, made perfect in creation.

What do others think of you?

It would be perpetuating a cliché to say “it doesn’t matter what other people think” or to “not worry about it”, so I won’t. The reality is that we have been made to live in relationships, to share our thoughts, emotions and lives. What those close to you matter, I get that but I also know life is a battle if you cannot rise above it.

The world doesn’t hate you!

Despite what has happened in the past and what you believe people think of you, the world doesn’t hate you.

So here’s the challenge…

Look into that mirror and find something to love about yourself … anything. It is my hope that this seemingly insignificant finding will be the start of much bigger journey in your life. A journey of discovery, healing and growth. A period of life that will redefine the way you think about yourself, the world and the people around you that previously controlled your emotions.

I’ll end this in the same way the great NYC preacher, Carl Lentz, begins his messages “turn to the person next to you and say you look awesome today“.

Never underestimate the effect you have in this world!

Three words for 2013

Chris Brogan, editor of “WORK BETTER, BE BRAVE,and Tell Bigger Stories” and CEO of Human Business Works thinks of three words to concentrate his efforts every year. He refers to the process as, turbo charged goal planning. 

“The concept of the three words is like the path. Think of a word that gives you the HUGE picture, not the small picture.”

Seeing the impact the concept has had for Chris, and now, many more. I thought I’d be crazy not to give it a go.

Despite the fact January as almost entirely passed, and I haven’t chosen any of my ‘directional words for 2013″, my first isn’t tardiness. Being punctual, is something one can not hold on to too tightly when you have newborn at home.

Enough, here’s my three…

Grateful Grateful. For my life, that’s every breathe. Not just the ones that come post workout, but my waking moments, those short breaths while stressed and the long deep snores while sleeping. Living in such a blessed surrounds, life is too often, taken for granted.

Prayer

Prayer. It is something I commit to daily with my daughter, it’s part of her bed time routine. But, before you commend me for being such a good Christian father, I must share … I often do not pray. I have been given the amazing ability to talk to my creator and lord, still I am silent. This silence leaves me without direction, as a result, I am lost.

Words

Words. An unusual choice for someone actively writing a blog posting, I agree. But something that will motivate, inspire and hopefully create a lot of joy in 2013. I find peace while I write. It doesn’t have to be much a handful of words on a note to a friend is all it takes. I don’t want to downplay the significance of successfully articulating a thought. Heavens knows I have far more off paper than on.

So there’s my three words. In prayer I will be grateful, and of fruits will be written her. Finding sense amongst a senseless world.

This year, Chris has chosen Walt, Ender and Monchu (I’ll let him explain). Find your three words, and direction for 2013. Share your words in the comments below, discuss them with a friend or yell them out a bus window … whatever you do, commit to them, make them work in your life.

SENSE

You are what you eat … with

On this blog, I wrote previously on perspective and how powerful it can be. I hope this three part series help create positive change in your life, or at least, find the perspective required see what change is needed.

Today I will attempt to re write the phrase, you are what you eat. While I agree, if you eat healthy you’ll be healthy, I think also think you can become healthy using, what you eat with.

Want to know more? Read on … then head to the kitchen.

We all know the term “fork in the road”, but what if the road your travelling doesn’t offer choices? Despite your current head space … you actually have two choices, regardless of the road you travel.

First choice, remove your blinkers! Despite what your mind is telling you, we all have an alternative, we simply fail to see it.

So, your blinkers are now off, or maybe they were never on in the first place and you still can’t see an alternate route? Drop all you’re doing and head to the kitchen.

Open the top draw, it’s most likely full of cutlery. Grab a fork and stick it firmly in the road your life has taken you on. Seeing a fork isn’t always easy, but you can place a fork in ANY road.FORK

Don’t rest yet, creating the fork is the easy part. You’ve got a decision to make.

Left or right, high or low … I can’t tell you what decision to make, but I can provide further support along the way.

The advice may not be ground breaking, but it will be straight forward. It’ll be able to be applied to anyone’s life.

No specific life stage is required but if you experience best with the physical, you may want to once again reach into  your cutlery draw.

This time ignore the forks, multiple forks in one road is just going to make things confusing; grab a knife.

It’s amusing what humans do with spare time. Eat, paint, sleep, watch TV, talk, run, fight … in large, they waste it. I’m not immune from this condition, I once spent an afternoon counting loose change, only to put it back in the same jar I kept in. On another, I decorated the back shed with coasters (which I’d collected in another time wasting exercise).

KNIFE

I’d suggest, next time you have a free moment, like the one we’ve just made with our fork … you cut your life into pieces.

Let it all hang out, don’t hold back. Honesty is often hardest when you’re talking to yourself. As the years pass we all lie to ourselves. These lies are then compounded as we continue to live them out. Cut it all to pieces, separate the truth amongst the lies. It’s the truth that’ll help you choose your direction.

So you’ve discovered a fork in your life’s journey, and taken a knife to your life, finding truth amongst the lies … what now?

Take care here, when you cut away the lies, you are often left with confronting truths. Enlist a close friend or counsellor when times are tough.

Truth is as heavy as it valuable; you’ll never be able to pick it up alone. Grab your spoon and call your mate, because this spoon will be heavy.SPOON

Scoop up the truth that remains and leave the painful lies behind you.  If your friend cannot help, or on of the lies you were living was, that you had friends, call Lifeline (13 14 11), there are trained counsellors on the phones 24 hours day, ready to help.

Enjoy your new journey, live with confidence in your new found truth, and remember, you can always find help … whenever you need it.

You are now, what you eat … with!

This will hopefully help alter your life journey, or if not, see it in different light. If I haven’t helped you make a positive change, I hope to help you get to a place where you can make a change in the future.

SENSE

What I learnt from ‘No phone Sunday’

It’s Monday morning, that can only mean one thing … I survived No phone Sunday

Not only did I survive it, I am living today with a deeper understanding of my life. Talk about winning!?

For those who have read my last post, and I’m guessing you are not, considering it’s a 1 in 2.3 million chance, I applied a 24 hour phone ban on myself last week. I made this decision for two reasons; to heighten my level of appreciation for the blessings that surround me and to put a stop to the habitual use of my phone.

I woke on Sunday morning, like I do every other. “Dadda, I wanna go”, my two-year old know’s I will come, when she calls my name. I leave both, my wife sleeping and my phone switched off.

Within ten minutes, I experience my first urge. It’s nothing serious, just a simple thought, “has anyone bid on my online auction?.

I ignore this thought as nothing but on reflection it’s a sign that I check my phone way too much! I was in a place of bliss, laying beside my daughter’s bed, her hand in mine, and I wanted to check on online auction.

It’s time’s like this, I need a slap to slap myself in the face. Wake up kid!

No phone Sunday was a success, but this wasn’t the only learning. In the same 24 hours, I learnt:

  • My phone is not a necessity
  • I am blessed beyond my words
  • I have more free time than I appreciate
  • When I’m not concerned by taking photos of beauty, I see more beauty
  • I have a habit that needs breaking
  • I don’t need to know who reads this
  • It’s what’s offline that really matters

What started out as a phone is now a computer, diary and unfortunately a time vacuum. I mean, am I crazy to call it a phone if no one calls me?  

So again, in 6 days time it’ll be No phone Sunday, increasingly, my favourite day.

Senselessbanner

No phone Sundays

We are all guilty of this at times ... oblivious to our world

We are all guilty of this at times … oblivious to our world


I’d been thinking about it already, but taking this photo confirmed it … I need a break from my phone. 

My plan isn’t severe, I’ll take baby steps at first. I’ve decided to ditch the phone for Sunday.

I’ve always maintained that I would never prioritise checking my phone, and by checking I mean; monitoring sports results, looking at social media, reading the news, sharing images, checking view counts on this blog or other equally important tasks, over my family. But, if I were honest … it’s already happened.

Think of the smiles of missed while checking emails, most of which are junk and the beautiful sights I would have seen if I wasn’t busy sharing the one I saw earlier on instagram.

My phone is stealing from me and it’s time I took it back.

A promise could be made to ‘look at my phone less’, but I know that will not work. I’d slowly slide back to where I am, a place that kind of hurts. Instead I will turn it off Saturday night and leave it till Monday, that way guaranteed , I’m free all of Sunday.

Free to communicate, with my voice, and hand expressions if I like. Free to spend time, just time, with whoever that I like. 

I will attempt to look at my phone less day one through to six,  but the seventh no matter what, is strictly a no phone day.

It’s only one day, I hear you ask, as you read this post from your phone.

I realise this it’s only small, but I hope that it will work. The roll on effect will be good for me and my family.

My phone has become a habit, I check it like folk smoke. Sometimes I feel I need it, other times I make  myself choke. One day a week will be the start of my recovery. Soon I will be breathing fresh, with my beautiful family!

If any of this has struck a chord with you, maybe you should consider the same. Put down your phone, choose to be free and enjoy your own Sunday.

***DISCLAIMER: I REALISE YOU HAVE MOST LIKELY COME TO READ THIS AFTER SEEING A LINK ON YOUR PHONE. I AM NOT JUDGING OTHERS, SIMPLY JOURNEYING ON MY OWN***

SENSE

Perspective provided in passing

It was October 3rd, 2012 when I last wrote “Ryan’s last days“. I shared about Ryan Woods’ life, and his determination to experience joy in what were his dying days.498369957_1c19cd40e4

Through his blog, Musings from the ground up, Ryan shared of his life and his determination to turn his final days into a positive movement. I used to frequently visit this blog, selfishly taking “hits of inspiration” to fuel my days.

As much as I enjoyed his blog, this is the Internet, a world of distraction. My visits became sporadic and then, non exsistent.

Prompted but my own desire to appreciate my own life more fully, I revisited his blog. His last post was October 24, I didn’t make anything of the date, someone in his situation could be excused for being sporadic.

I read on. The post, “Tears and Seizures “, the point … maintain perspective.

Here I am, a father of a two year old girl and a six week old boy struggling with going back to work, and Ryan is writing about unpredictable and almost constant seizures  For two days I’ve been on the verge of tears walking to the office thinking of my wife, alone with my precious children  and Ryan is crying uncontrollably sitting next to his children feeling as if he’s already dead.

” Sometimes when I cry, when I really cry and cry hard, I’m honestly just in search of confirmation that I’m not simply wasting time here dinking around waiting to die.”

A little perspective goes a long way.

“The thing is, I think you never feel more human than when you are dying”, Ryan knew h

is days were few but maintained perspective.

Ryan died November 14, 2012.

I didn’t know Ryan Woods, yet reading of his death brought a tear to my eye. His life, well at least the last few months were filled with more positive thoughts and actions than I feel I’ve had in my lifetime.

A father and husband to whom, all men can look up to. Ryan literally, stared death in the face, yet didn’t take a backward step. He not only loved his wife and children to the day he died, he showed it and cherished each and every moment he had with them.

Remember what’s important in your life, be aware of your emotions and above all … maintain perspective.

SENSE

Post holiday blues

I’ve sent three emails and read a report … that’s about all I can manage at work today.

With Christmas, came holidays and along with many others, I took them gladly. A little over two weeks with my family, my wife, daughter and newborn son.

Now back at work, the memories of sunny days in the park and long sunshine fuelled walks, seem distant at best. Sitting in an artificially bright office I feel as if I am pushing those memories further and further away with ever strike of the keyboard.

The post holidays blues have struck, and I’ve only been back at work for thirty minutes.

If you’re in Australia, there’s a good chance you’re in the same boat as me. Back at work, struggling to focus and … reading a blog posting instead of working.

Blank stare

Personally I’d rather stare blankly at the screen for the next seven hours but due to responsibility and honesty, that isn’t an option. Instead, I offer you three questions …

  1. Do you enjoy your time at work? 
  1. Does your time there have a positive effect?
  1. What do you desire from your role?

Do you enjoy your time at work?

I’m not suggesting every minute is a pure moment of joy but asking if it’s possible to find joy … at all? Can you share a joke with a workmate, find pleasure in success or maybe you enjoy the rhythmic beat of the keys as you type?

What ever it is, we all need to enjoy at least, part of our day.

Does your time there have a positive effect?

We all have a sphere of influence, at work, due to formalities and structure, these spheres are often greater. Are you having a positive effect within this sphere?

Whether you’re boosting morale or increasing success, what counts in the positiveness.  

What do you desire from your role?

Create a list, what are you looking for in a role. This will give you both, a list to work from and, something to do today … that isn’t your job!

If you aren’t receiving the items on your list or you answered “no” to either of my first two questions I suggest you think about a resignation.

There is no point in spending forty hours (plus) each week, in a role you don’t enjoy, where you have no positive effect … in job that doesn’t satisfy. Work can be enjoyable but I find, it’s only when you’re making a difference in this world.

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.” Helen Keller

SENSE

We all deserve Love, even Lanza

Before you read this, you must understand. I do not support the recent actions of Adam Lanza at all. I am purely writing based on the events as they’ve been reported to me and they are influenced by my beliefs and outlook on life.

Waking on Saturday morning, I skimmed the headlines.

Massacre in school. Shamefully, I didn’t even flinch when I read the words.

A headline written maybe just to grab my attention or sadly as predictable, yet another American shooting.

The information regarding the tragic events in Newport Connecticut continues to flood in, as authorities carry out their investigations. So to does background information on Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old apparently behind the trigger and his family.

The world has a pure hunger for this information, we demand to know. As humans, we feel we must know why!?

At times like this we cannot expect sense.

Yet we continue waste our time seeking it. Even though we’d be far better spending our time supporting those directly effected.

543339-connecticut-school-shootingThe ink, not yet dried on those first headlines but veiled as “finding sense” we’ve begun to blame. A mother slain portrayed as a gun lover, a socially disconnected son pictured as “strange” but, even as far as President Obama is concerned is fuel for gun control.

Adam Lanza was obviously one troubled soul. Wether, by character or illness, one could never say he was thinking straight. As someone who doesn’t suffer from a mental illness, I am thankful his mind is now at rest but terribly saddened, that his troubles pulled so many others down with him.

The number of hate pages on Facebook dedicated to Adam, only 24 hours after the shooting was evidence enough of our faulty human nature. We immediately want to hate instead of grieve the loss and support those effected.

The fallen human is the real cause here. Evil and it’s existence. We all deserve love, even Adam Lanza. He too, a victim of evil.

Love is the only way to defeat this evil.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that” Martin Luther King Jnr, a man before his time. His words, forever remembered.

Apart from “Lanza’s evilness”, America’s long-standing right to arms has been blamed at large, less than an hour before this very shooting Michael Moore tweeted to remind all. “There have been 31 shootings since Columbine”, the school at the centre of his 2002, documentary “Bowling for Columbine”.

I personally, do not see any reason for a person to have a gun in the home aside from animal control on a farm or rural property. Reasons of defence and safety should not require a home be armed. Yet still, ask an American, and you’re questioning their right to freedom.

“Are we prepared to say that such violence visited upon our children year after year is simply the price of our freedom?” Thankfully, even President Obama is starting to publicly question that freedom.

As long as darkness exists, gun control policy is just a limitation, not the required light.

I am praying for the families of the children and teachers that have passed. So too, each and every member of Newport’s small community. I urge you to do the same. And don’t forget the Lanza’s.

Pray that they may all find the love and support they need to survive this situation. 

SENSE