He Will Meet You by the Water


By the shores of Lake Michigan, one could look out and see nothing but water.  It was like the ocean, just without the salt.  We loved walking along the beach with Mom picking up stones to skip, looking for lost treasure, and wading into the crashing waves. Mom has always loved the big lake.  Growing up only a short car ride away, we would go there every summer.

There’s always been something special about large bodies of water that captivate me.  They have not only been places of rest for my soul, but I’ve felt a sense of connection with them; something inherent inside of me is drawn to them.  Perhaps some of my distant past relatives were sailors, fishermen, or just lived by the sea (something I know is probably the case based on the recent DNA test we took). 

l’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Certainly, there are many others who are drawn to the water just like me.  It’s as though part of us innately longs to be near it.  It could be as simple as our survival nature calling us, or it could be something more.  

Even Jesus spent much his life and ministry near the Sea of Galilee.  Peter and John, both fisherman by trade, were two of His closest followers.  Water’s association with our faith is seen in the act of being baptized (the submersion under water after repentance) to symbolize our souls being cleansed; our old life being cast away and new life being born.

More than anything, we all need water to live.  It’s the basic building block of life as and the very first thing scientists look for when searching for other planets like our own.

If the longing within to be near water is indeed a spiritual one as well as a physical one, what is it saying to us when we feel it?  For me, it’s saying there’s a part of my soul that feels empty.  There may be a hurt or wound that needs healing.  My inner man may be longing for a lost relationship to be restored.  Or, God may be calling me to a place where He can wash me from within of the uncleanness that has built up by living in this fallen world.

It’s in this way that God speaks to us.  Many people think that God will never speak to them, but He does. He made us to hear His voice and to be drawn to certain things for a reason.  The instincts we feel, at times, could very well be our Heavenly Father looking to speak to us. 

You may have been feeling empty, hurt, or just carrying a burden that you need to let go of lately and, for some unknown reason, you have been longing to get away to a place by the water.  It may be a small stretch to think that it’s God calling to your heart, but it’s possible.

The truth is, He cares and wants to fill us with ‘joy overflowing’.  He wants to give us ‘rivers of living water’ flowing from within our hearts.  His plan is for us to have ‘life, and life more abundantly’. 

For what it’s worth, He’s waiting for you by the water (whether real water or imagined).  Jesus walked on water to get to his disciples who were tossed by the sea and He’s walking to you too.  He’s reaching out His hand to you tonight.  If you take it, He will speak to the storm in your life and bring His calm.  You don’t need to go to a distant ocean somewhere, you just need to open your heart to Him, and He will come in, wash away the mess, and fill you again.  I promise…

He Ain’t Heavy


I don’t know about you, but I know I can safely say there have been times when I was asked by others to help with something or to commit to time that I otherwise had planned for something else, that I hesitated while contemplating the weight of the decision. It was as if each decision was measured by some invisible scale that I had constructed over time to help determine whether I could afford it financially, emotionally, or physically.

Having been raised in a home which, at times, had very little money, I learned to make what I had go as far as I could.  Even so, for as long as I can remember I’ve been generous and shared what I had with others.  Regardless, at times there has been a little voice in my head that pulled back and hesitated from letting go of what I had; for whatever reason.

Our decision to help others is usually based on how well we know that person; whether they’re family or a close friend verses some stranger off the street who we’ve never met.  Due to the influence of social media, today we’re more guarded than ever with trusting others who ask for our help having seen so many people taken advantage of or stolen from.  One thing is for certain, though, if that person is someone we’re close to, say a family member or close friend, most of us would do almost anything to help them if they truly needed it.

Ironically, if we can break through our fears and hesitations to help, the sense of joy and wholeness we have afterward far outweighs the self-preservation we felt to start with.  It’s as though the burden we thought would ensue has lifted and we now feel better than before knowing we made a difference in someone else’s life; that we had a purpose. 

It’s when we see that person not as an object or someone taking from us, but as one closest to us whom we love (possibly more than ourselves) that we’re free to let go and give.  It’s love that takes away the burden of helping and turns it into an act of joy.  It’s love that takes the fear we feel of letting go of something we own and turns it into satisfaction knowing that someone else was helped by it even more than ourselves.

There’s a song from the 60’s by The Hollies called, ‘He Ain’t Heay He’s My Brother’ that really puts it all into context.  The song talks about helping to carry another’s burden along a long road with many winding turns.   Yet, their burden isn’t heavy because ‘He’s my brother’.  

That’s where I want to be.  I have a long way to go still, but on this road of life I’m bound to come across others nearly every day who will need my help.  If I can see them though love’s eyes as my brother, that load won’t be heavy.  Indeed, it will be light and we’ll both get there together…


The Real Paris – Recognizing Temptation


Sometimes, I get a kick out of the town names in Texas.  Ones like Ding Dong, Nameless, Gun Barrel City, Paradise, Loco, Cut and Shoot, Jot ‘Em Down, Woman Hollering Creek, Whitehouse, and Telephone, Texas.   There is one name I particularly like, and that’s Paris, Texas.

Located not too far from where we live, I asked the Mrs one time if she would like me to take her to Paris.  She said ‘YES!’.  So, I did.  It was about a 40-minute drive.  She wasn’t too terribly disappointed about not going to the real Paris (we may one day) because we did do some antique shopping.

For anyone who hears the town name of Paris, they immediately think of romance; the French cuisine, the Eifel Tower, floating down the Seine River on a gondola smelling flowers and tasting wine, and enjoying beautiful architecture.  Yes, and even one of the Mrs’s favorite movies, ‘French Kiss’.  The allure is hypnotizing to the point that one can begin to see French design even in those old Texas buildings. 

The truth is, however, it’s not France.  It’s a small Texas town outside of the mainstream cities with a few good stores and a great name.  But, for fun, it’s a great trip to take (even if it’s just so you can say you’ve been to ‘Paris’). 

On a more serious note, the analogy reminds me of temptation.  When we’re tempted, we’re promised something we think will bring us pleasure.  The allure, the smell, the fantasy, and that potential pleasure leads us to a place we thought we would never go, only to find an empty shell of what we thought it would be.  In the same way, we could call those temptations Paris.  Only, we know they won’t be what they promise. 

We all face temptation.  Even Jesus did.  What will help us from falling into it is the awareness that what we’re being promised isn’t a romantic boat ride down the river with the smell of flowers and the taste of fresh wine.  No, it’s a long drive down a rocky, country road that will lead us to an abandoned, empty place alone and far away from others.

Just knowing how to recognize that enticement is most of the battle in defeating temptation.  If we can gain the wisdom to know that something is too good to be true, along with the dangers it’s hiding, we will keep ourselves, and many of those around us, from much pain. 

So, the next time the enemy of your soul comes knocking offering you the world (or a trip to Paris, France), tell him to take a hike because you know what’s found at the end of that journey is nothing but pain and emptiness…

Reflections


If you’re like me, the older you get the less you want to look in the mirror.  Some young people spend hours checking their face, their hair, their muscles, and even taking selfies in front of it.  Me, no way.  Sure, the close-up mirror is good for a few things, but there’s no need to spend countless hours looking at myself only to be reminded of how age is creeping up on me more and more every day.

Mirrors have been around for thousands of years, although not like our modern mirror which has been around for only a couple hundred years.  That fact that they have been around so long only tells me that people were the same then as they are now.  They were conscientious of their appearance.  Or, they just loved looking at themselves which is more of what we find in our culture today.

Being conscientious isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, I’m probably one of the most conscientious people I know.  There’s just something inside of me that is constantly concerned about what others around me might be thinking about practically everything.  Call me insecure or naïve, but that trait has been helpful in sales and it goes a long way in keeping the Mrs. happy too.  Just saying.

What if we could take the same conscientiousness that we feel about ourselves when we look in the mirror and turn it inward?  Meaning, what if we concerned ourselves more about how we looked on the inside than how we looked on the outside?

Over the course of my life I’ve made a habit of not only looking at my face in the mirror but looking at my eyes and my soul too.  Because the eye is the window of the soul, one can often tell how they’re really feeling on the inside by looking at them instead of their smile.  It may be difficult to do but peering into one’s own soul can be telling and humbling.

Sometimes I see vanity, pride, anger, emotional fatigue, and selfishness.  Other times, especially after praying in the morning, I can see God’s light, an aura of peace, and a soul at rest.  Looking into the mirror before prayer certainly can be a motivator for me to turn around and get on my knees to pray for sure. 

If we don’t like what we see when we’re looking into the mirror of our soul, the good news is that we don’t have to stay that way.  There is One we can turn to who will wash the stains, cleanse away the anger, show us His beauty instead of our vanity, and reveal His humility instead of our pride.  He will fill us with His peace and His light so the next time we gaze into that mirror, we will see more of Him and much less of us…

Love always

Persistence – Turning What’s Abandoned Into a Beautiful Home


This week has raced by while the Microsoft whirlwind continues to build into Q2.  For guys like me, that means high stress every day, millions on the line for our customers, and Microsoft pushing what they may not need right now.  You can imagine that Fridays look better all the time.

While working at my desk this week, I was able to watch the neighbor’s home across the street getting a major landscape upgrade.  It’s the final piece of the puzzle being added after nearly three years which has seen the house go from being a mediocre rental property, an abandoned construction project with no roof, to a fully refurbished home mostly done by a couple of local handymen.

Witnessing the transformation has been a way to take the focus off work for a few minutes at a time.  Somehow, seeing the framers, the roofers, the painters complete their projects, and now the landscapers have helped to keep things in perspective for me both at home and at work.  I know, it probably seems like I’m a nosy neighbor (well, maybe a little bit), but knowing the work someone else is doing across the street is making that abandoned project better along with helping our home’s value increase, sort of worms my heart a bit.

As crazy as life can be for a lot of us, there’s always someone out there who has it worse than we do.  To see other people’s lives, grow and change for the better after being abandoned for the worse, is something worth watching.   It’s inspiring to see the result of hard work, dedication, and persistence through the tough times result in something others will admire.

Tonight here’s to persisting even when it’s tough.  Here’s to not giving up when the pressure is on and realizing that, as hard as we have it, there’s always someone out there who has it worse than we do.  Here’s to keeping our focus when everything seems to be going in different directions.  Most of all here’s to taking joy in other people’s success after they’ve been thrown to the side of the road.   They deserve our appreciation, encouragement, and admiration because when they make their lives better, ours improves too.

Love always….

Ms. Daisy


I never really considered myself as a ‘Dog person’, but over the past eighteen years of marriage to the Mrs. who helped bring dogs into my life, they have grown on me.  When I was little we had several dogs I’d loved but, over time, they either ran away or passed away.  Cats became the staple of our home and remained a part of my life for another twenty years after leaving home.

Today, we have three wonderful friends we share our home with; Rocky (a micro Yorkie and the oldest), Watson (a micro Schnauzer all white and a ball of love), and Daisy (the middle-aged girl and another micro Yorkie).  Tonight, I wanted to share a little bit about Daisy.

Too often in our American culture we tend to assign human attributes to our animals.  We talk to them like our kids (I’m guilty of this as well), we feed them food we shouldn’t, and even take them on planes with us.  The Mrs. and I are not as ‘extreme’ as some may be that way, but we do get them the custom sweaters to wear. There’s no plane trips, doggie carriage rides, or doggie harnesses to carry them around in, though.  We believe they are dogs and they should enjoy being dogs.

Still, even though they are dogs, they remind me of some of the best character traits humans can emulate. Traits like unconditional love, faithfulness, self-sacrifice, joy, loyalty, strength, fearlessness, and even compassion.  I know there are some out there who believe all a dog wants is food and attention, but having them in our lives for so long, I would say they truly do feel emotions.  Most of all, they know, feel, and show love.

Daisy is no different.  She is loyal, protective, strong, loving, sweet, determined, and sticks by me no matter how grumpy I may be that day.  She loves food a little too much, but we keep an eye on that too.  She’s the leader of the three dogs and faithfully sits by my side every night on the couch.  That’s her spot and that’s the way it’s going to be.

From the time she was a puppy, I bonded with Daisy.  She sensed it and bonded with me too.  She loves the Mrs., but she is definitely a daddy’s girl.  Many times, she has been there to help comfort my heart in times of sadness and there when I just needed a little attention.

Tonight, here’s to you Ms. Daisy.  We love you and I am so glad you are in our lives.  You bring joy and security to our home.  The love you feel as a little animal is something to admire and learn from.  We just hope we can be as loving to you as you are to us…

Love always…