How will you make sure this next year matters?

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When we toast our glasses on New Years Eve, we either celebrate the success and significance we achieved, or we are drowning our sorrows and regret because of moments or opportunities missed. For years, I’ve wrestled with the haunting questions of if I’m using my time, treasure, and talent wisely. Life gets kicked into high gear right out of High School and before you know it society is dangling the carrot of the “American Dream” in front of you. Grow up, get a job, get a family, gather all you can, and coast your way to death on a golf course or white sandy beach. It got me thinking…. 

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G.P.S. God’s Perfect Strategy

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G.P.S. God’s Perfect Strategy

“You don’t leave on a road trip or travel without a road map or GPS. Why would your life be any different? God is the greatest source for direction.” -Noah

Each year, the end of December poses questions about life for me. How was this year? Did we hit the mark? How far off are we on the big plan?

We have a choice: To live life on purpose, or to let life live us. You can let culture and the world dictate the complexity of your hamster wheel, or you can live a life of purpose.

What does that look like? A few statements I live by that filter my purpose and meaning come to mind:

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

If you don’t have a mentor, you’re following yourself.

After looking at these questions, I wondered: Why don’t people follow God? What keeps them from surrendering to His plan, direction, and will?

1. Change: Following God will require them to change or shift their current life. People can’t stand change and avoid change because it’s rooted in ego and wanting to keep control.

2. Fear of The Unknown: People don’t want to embrace or embark on any journey, whether career or marriage, that isn’t predictable or is out of their control. The ego battles to stay seated in God’s throne. “Self” will run crazy without propose or guidance. We boot God out of his throne to take command of our life even though we have no idea about our purpose, calling, and gifting.

3. He will ask me to do something that I hate or don’t want to do. I have yet to see a person surrender his or her life that didn’t discover a life of passion and fruit based on their gifting and calling/unique abilities. The more I surrender daily, the more He illuminates the realities of how and why He created me.

When I was nine, I surrendered my heart to following Christ. At age 28, I had another opportunity to shed the material possessions, career choices, and overall outlook on life based on my wants, not needs. I put that decision of surrender off for another three years. These were the most costly three years of my life. It was later I surrendered myself and saw a change in my life. What happened was an alignment: A life in sync, rhythm, and pace with God through his son Jesus. For years, I believed, as culture advertises, that life was about grabbing all you can, retire, and coast your way to death. Now, I live with purpose.

I’ve got good news. There’s a better way. The life you were intended. A life that is worth living and a cause worth dying for.

We have two options:

1. Continue living a life of guessing, hoping, and wishing we will get off the hamster wheel.

-or-

2. We can discover the unique life we were designed and created to live with confidence and with a hope that will never rot, fade, or be stolen. NOW THAT IS HOPE.

I welcome your comments and ask you to share with those friends and family that are asking the tough questions. If life is feeling flat-lined and exhausting, it could be a sign.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Matt 6:19

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

How Interstellar Taught me the Importance of Tea and Time

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I’ve seen “Interstellar” twice. Don’t worry, this post won’t have any spoilers. Every now and then, certain movies, situations, or happenings will disrupt your life in a good way. Movies have a special way, good ones at least, that strike to the core of your heart and soul. It’s usually the music for me. Three elements made “Interstellar” special for me: the connection of loved ones, time, and what matters most in life.

So, I drove home with thoughts that turned into a question: What would my future self say to the current me if it could? I thought about the me that would be on his death bed; the Noah that lays there looking back on his life and what had great value and purpose. I came to the conclusion that there are four foundational principles that matter most: My relationship with God, my relationships with Chantel and the kids, time, and my relationships with others. (It has nothing to do with an identity in our craft. Our craft of career is a means to a purpose, but not our identity) My craft is a vehicle to reach my purpose. It isn’t the destination.

So many of us go through life missing the entire meaning of it all. What matters most?

Are we meant to spend life on the hamster wheel of busy to work a job we hate, at a company we don’t care about, trading hours for money and then spending it on things that won’t last or go with us to eternity? So what matters then? Why do we work harder and are stressed even more?

What matters most to me? How am I spending my gift of time? How am I leveraging my talent and platform to influence and help others?

As I drove, these thoughts took shape:

My wife: My relationship with Chantel is the most important earthly priority to me. My marriage means more to me than anything. I’m proud to say that for over 15 years, we’ve had a date night every Thursday. We take a proactive approach to maintaining this gift God has given us. As I drove, I thought about what I can do to carve out more memory building time. Why else am I working? Is it just to make revenue? Revenue for what? Then, I asked what does it mean to truly live, not just exist? Am I living the true me and living out exactly what I’ve always wanted? The answer was yes. At this point, after lots of hard decisions, we’ve created a life (even with home schooling) that allows us to not be bound by culture and systems. Simply put: We have freedom. Working from home, creating content that means something to me, and seeing our kids (even one with autism) thrive in their own ways of learning has changed our life. If it wasn’t for Chantel and me working as a team, it wouldn’t happen.

My Kids: As I drove, I thought of their faces, how fast they are changing, and how the clock doesn’t stop ticking. This is one thing that the movie taught me; the precious gift of time. You can’t buy it, but you do have a choice of how you will spend the time you have. This is why you see this picture attached. I asked myself: If I knew this week was my last week on earth, how would I spend it? I drove and thought, I’ll tell the kids in the morning, we are having a hot cocoa tea party in Griffin’s room. We are going to talk about Christmas, what we are thankful for, and we are going to dream about 2015 — where we want to go and things we want to do.

Relationships with others: Recently, I took inventory of the work I do. My craft has always been about connection. Creating products that allow the people we run life with the ability to have an experience. To know they are loved, matter, and are important. This made me glad to see the reality of Chantel and me getting a calling on our life to help special-needs children, specifically AIDS orphans in South Africa. For years, I spent my life trying to be successful, and it ran out. Life isn’t about getting and acquiring stuff that doesn’t last. For me, it’s about shifting my focus to what has significance: God’s agenda and others. Nothing lights me up more than to see others find their gifts, calling, and purpose. If I can use my “time” on earth to help others find hope, then the time isn’t wasted and has value.

My Relationship with God: As I drove, I thought of the years I lived one of the busiest and noisy lives ever. It was mostly packed with busy, but not getting traction. Then I sat down and did inventory to discover God’s plan and what his assignment was for me based on my unique design and potential. What I learned was my “time” with Him is paramount. Having quiet, still mornings listening and spending “time” with Him has transformed and permeated every part of my life. It sounds morbid, but it’s living in a state of death all the time: death to my self and selfish desires. Am I living the true life I’m supposed to and is this the life I dreamt? If it isn’t, what steps do I need to take in order for that to happen? How fast can I make this happen? I can’t figure this out alone.

So, my question to you is this: If the 85-year-old you could come back and talk to you now, what would he or she tell you to do as far as your time and priorities?

My older self said to work less by creating work that is preferred and what you love while having it impact the world and others. More important, shape your life around work not work around life. Build as many memories and make time for tea time; like today and this picture above. Look into your loved ones’ eyes. Time is a gift. Use it wisely.

I’d love to hear from you with a comment below. How do you see yourself, relationships, and the gift of time? Is your life all you’ve hoped it could be and should be? Please share this with others and feel free to repost. I’m glad you’re here!

P.S. I recently posted a video “How to build a life of significance from your creativity and dreams.” Check it out and please leave a comment. I’d love your feedback.

Your True self: The road less travelled. Are you living the life you always wanted?

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Your True self: The road less travelled. Are you living the life you always wanted?

What stops you from traveling the life you’ve always wanted?

Fear is the gateway of who we are and who we are destined to be. -Justin Stumvoll

Thanksgiving week is when it feels as if life kicks up two more levels on the volume knob. The year is beginning to wind down, but pressures form all around us. You evaluate the life you’ve been living for the past 10 months and realize you are racing time to New Year’s Eve. For some, New Years Eve is another day to party and numb out the noise. For others, it’s a measuring stick: It’s a time to take stock on what value, worth, and impact you created in the past year. You look back and see what can be changed, improved, and eliminated. Was it a year of existing or a year of being? What if you could change the course of your life? Would you? I have found what I believe keeps us from becoming and living out our true self.
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