What do you really want to say?

I stopped using facebook as the country became more and more divided. At our core, we have much more in common with each other than the media would have us believe. And yes, I mean media. That includes social media.

There are powers in the world that are only too happy to see us divided. And it can be oh so appealing to jump on a bandwagon and add my own two cents. Forgive the allusion, if you will, but we certainly can behave like sheep.

Do you want to contribute to division or unity?

If at your core, you really believe it is essential to put your “truth” out there and you really don’t care whether you are contributing to division, well, then so be it. Carry on.

I would only ask you to think through this: is your message really going to convince anyone of anything? Or are you just strengthening your “side” because it would be oh so horrible if your “side” were not strengthened?

However, if at your core, you want to see conversation restored and true understanding between people, is your post a help or a hindrance?

Don’t give up on truth.

I am not asking for anyone to change their mind or not hold to their perception of truth. We all want to get to the truth and not be lied to. I am just very skeptical that anyone actually discovers truth through posts that are insisting we are on opposing sides and each thinks the other is evil. That just is not helpful for anyone.

If there are two view points on any topic, it is likely that one is more “truthful” or “in alignment with reality” than the other. The best discourse takes place when both parties are respectfully and lovingly able to give and take, share their views as well as their sources, and because love is present, are willing to really listen to the other’s thoughts and ideas rather than dismissing them out of hand. This is the kind of discourse that can create true healing, find real solutions to real problems, and maintain dignity for all parties. It is through disagreement that we find better solutions!

What do you want to say?

So, next time you’re about to post something that ANYONE might find hurtful or offensive – ask yourself: What is it I want to say? Am I ok with someone feeling like I hate them for their alternate viewpoint? Is this really going to change anyone’s mind? Is this information that the people I agree with just HAVE to have and is worth the potential harm I cause?

Or, do I want to be uplifting, encouraging and loving to ALL people who might read it, not just those who agree with me?

More anti-bullying – everyone is important!

No matter how small or seemingly insignificant, each person is incredibly important. When children know their own self-worth, they are less easily intimidated by a bully.

This week we will be reading The Lion and the Mouse to the youngest set at the dojo. Ok, well, it’s a wordless book so we won’t actually be reading. In beautiful pictures the story of a lion who lets a mouse go and later is rescued by that same mouse is brought to life with timeless (and wordless) emotion.

All of us, no matter our age or station, sometimes think we are less than. Less than someone else, less than we should be, less than we want to be. It’s not limited to children who may in fact be less capable than their older sibling, friend, or neighbor. (A good time for the reminder that capability does NOT equal worth?)

You are not “less than”

Here at Warriors of Grace Karate we spend a lot of time trying to help people discover their identity. When you know who you are, when you know your true value, you will be far less likely to let someone bully you into thinking you are less than.

The image of the tiny mouse being able to help the king of the jungle is a powerful one that I hope will seep into the kids.

How to see your true self

Unfortunately there is no quick and easy way to get there. It takes time. It takes thought. It takes self-examination.

An attitude of gratitude is a great place to start though. The hardest part about self-examination is that we tend to focus on what’s wrong with us. It just seems too arrogant or self-centered to make a list of what’s right  with us! What you are aiming for is to know what’s true about you.

Be grateful for every good thing that is true. Be grateful for seeing the things that need work. Be grateful that we are always changing, growing, learning. Be grateful you don’t need to stay the same person you are right now. And then go back again and be grateful for every good thing that is true about you!

Without examination, the parts that really need changing may cause some real unpleasantness in your life! Oftentimes it is through pain and heart break that we discover those parts of us that need to change. And even then we go through a period of denial first before we might then see our own flaws.

So do the examination first! Have an attitude of gratitude to help you in the change process. It’s never easy. But it’s worth it!

Bullying Tips

One of the biggest concerns from parents during the back-to
-school season is bullying. Some 160,000 kids skip school every day because they fear being attacked or ridiculed by bullies.
The good news is that these disturbing statistics can be limited with surprisingly simple tactics.
The most important skill a child should have when dealing with bullies is confidence. The flip side of this is powerful too — the more confidence a child has, the less likely he is to be a bully!
No matter what you teach a child, it will not be effective without
the confidence to put the lessons into action. Children that fall victim to bullies usually are targets because they lack the confidence to stand up for themselves. Therefore, it is very important that you begin instilling
confidence within your child if you want him or her to effectively handle bullying.
Karate is a natural way to build confidence. Each challenge you meet, each obstacle you overcome, it natually leads to confidence. But here are some things you as a parent can do to help your child:

Tips on how you can build confidence within your child:

  1. Make sure that you are a good listener when talking with your child.
    Try not to ignore your child’s feelings. Children are more confident when they feel like they are being heard. If you, as a parent, take the time to listen to your child then he or she will have more confidence to speak their mind when dealing with bullies.
  2. Pay attention to your child’s moods. If your child is grumpy or agitated, then most likely he or she acts that way around other children. That can increase the chance of your child falling victim to unnecessary arguments and fights with others. Factors that can affect your child’s mood include:
  • Lack of proper sleep each night. Children need at least 8 hours of total sleep per night. If they are not getting the proper amount of rest, then it can affect their mood the next day. Now that we’ve got the back to school routines sorted out, make sure they include enough shut eye time!
  • Insufficient diet. Certain foods affect children’s moods including foods that are high in sugar, caffeine or fat. Keep your child’s diet balanced with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Lack of exercise. Children that do not exercise regularly tend to have a lower level of energy which will affect his or her mood. This can also lead to obesity which makes your child more prone to bullying. Keeping your child active in extracurricular sports and activities, like karate, is essential.

Seems too simple to be true….

Just walking tall, looking up and at people with a smile — these are the simplest AND most effective ways to not fall victim to bullies! We have the kids repeat: POSTURE!  and EYE CONTACT! to help drive that message home.

Let’s make this the best year ever!

Safe and Sound?

It’s been over two weeks now since returning. How easy it is to just get caught right back up in the busy-ness of life! I want to hang on to what I experienced in Thailand, and prevent regular life from washing over and removing the impact I experienced. I want to be changed forever!

Safe? Yes. Praise God, we all returned safely and in good health.

Sound? Well, God wants to shake us up, right? So I think soundness implies a certain fixed stability that maybe isn’t so good anyway!

Love: the over-arching theme

Instead of sharing of specific moments or favorite times during our trip, I thought I would pick one theme and share how it permeated the entire trip.

That theme would have to be the Presence of God. The Kingdom breaking into the world.

From the time we first gathered as a team, the Presence was evident. We were encouraged and prepared for the trip by the love that Mike and Emily poured into us. We were met at the airport in Thailand by Lana’s team, in love, with lais of dainty sweet smelling flowers. We were lovingly welcomed into the Life Impact family.

The Kingdom = Love

Throughout the trip there were a lot of tears shed as the spirit overwhelmed us and gave us a glimpse of the kingdom. The kingdom is surely breaking in and dispelling the darkness in Thailand and Burma. So what is the Presence, really? What is the kingdom? If God is Love, then isn’t His presence, his kingdom, love?

Love is what permeated our time together. Love is what permeates The Promise Land. Love is what permeates everything Lana is doing to spread the kingdom in Thailand.

Love is evident in the laughter that rings out whenever she is around. It is evident in the hopes and dreams being built along with the worship center, new facilities, and visions for the future. The future includes restaurants and motor bike repair shops being run by the children rescued and grown into adults on the Land. Love is evident in the worship at the Land, at FourSquare Church, in missionaries’ homes, and everywhere the gospel is taught. Love is evidenced in each and every child rescued by Lana. It is evident in the house parents who have sacrificed so much in order to live on The Land and be mom and dad to strangers. It is evident in the missionaries who have given up successful lives in the West to endure hardship, isolation and loneliness in order to minister to those in need. Love permeates everything Life Impact touches.

The major theme that I don’t want to have fade away from my own life, is the love of God, the love of the kingdom, that I am so blessed to have been able to see and experience in Thailand.

Now, my eyes are fixed to see the love of God right here, the Kingdom all around!

Guard Your Heart

You need to guard your heart because everything that comes out of your mouth comes from your heart. If your heart is not in a good place, you may have a whole lot of junk come out of your mouth that you wish you could take back. Words can’t be unsaid. Acts can’t be undone.

We can try to monitor our words and our actions. We can modify, change what our initial impulse is to say and do. But one day, our monitoring and modifications will fail – and what’s in our heart will escape!

Four Warning Signs

There are four things especially to watch for and let these act as sentries to warn you when you need to deal with something you don’t want to deal with.

Guilt: When you notice a feeling of guilt, examine it. Is it justified? Do you owe someone something? Did you wrong someone? Guilt will eat away on the inside and cause all kinds of ugly things to come out…..one day.

Anger: This is an easy one to spot. But get to the heart of it — did someone take something from you? Does someone owe you big time? If you’ve been experiencing anger for a long time you may have to do some digging to find out the original source. Here’s the thing: anger doesn’t stay focused on the original person that hurt you. Anger leaks. It leaks all over the place. That’s what makes it so destructive. That’s also what can make it difficult to trace back to its origin.

Greed: This can be difficult to spot. There is a sense that “I owe me”. If you have an assumption that everything is for your own personal consumption, you might need to have an attitude shift. If you notice yourself wanting to hold tighter to a thing than to a person, that should send up warning lights! If you notice that you’re spending more time taking care of an object than of a person, that should send up warning lights. We may agree that people are more important than objects, but sometimes our actions betray us.

Jealousy:  If you find yourself upset when someone else gets something you think you deserve, to keep your heart right, you need to address it. If you find yourself enjoying someone else’s loss or failure — that should set off big loud alarm bells!

OK, I’ve noticed the gunk – now what?

Jesus Christ did let us know how to address all of this. And the truth is, you can do these things without believing in Jesus. I share this, to help you have a better heart so what overflows from your heart will not hurt other people. It’s not easy to do these things. In fact, they are the exact opposite of what we want to do! I encourage you to do these things for your own benefit!

If you claim to follow Jesus, these aren’t optional. They are pretty much what he came to teach and following him means you follow his teaching.

Is guilt the problem? The solution is to confess.

Confess to the person you harmed. If that’s just too big a step, confess to someone close to you. As you work through it, you may eventually be able to confess to the right person. Will that cause harm and chaos in some situations? Yes. But the ongoing damage of carrying guilt is far greater. The immediate chaos that can result from confessing will dissipate, but there will also be an immediate peace that comes to you.

Is anger the problem? The solution is to forgive.

As I said, it can be hard to track down the original source of the wound. But track it down you must, the more detailed the better. And forgive in detail, with specifics.  Forgiveness is really for YOU! It lets you stop carrying around something that continues to impact you all the time. The original hurt wasn’t as great as the way you’ve been carrying it around with you and letting is leak all over! Forgive and move on.

Is greed the problem? The solution is to give.

The more we give the less greedy we are. Generosity is a wonderful heart condition which spills over into all areas of our life. Giving is the best way to develop generosity. But if there is truly an object that is getting in the way of your relationships, it is best to just give it away! If your time and energy is spent on maintaining and protecting an object — imagine what you can do once that time is freed up!

Is jealousy the problem? The solution is to celebrate!

Yes, celebrate the person who got what you deserved! Just as what’s in the heart will eventually show itself in actions — our actions can actually modify our heart. If we are down and intentionally smile and pretend to be UP, it actually causes us to change how we feel.

We can have the feeling that “Life owes me” or “God owes me”. Out of these feelings can flow some pretty nasty things. Having gratitude for what you do have, praising God for what he’s already given you, gets rid of those feelings. Celebrating the one arousing jealousy, having an attitude of gratitude, shifts your heart and allows good things to overflow!

For parents, especially

Do you want to raise kids who are aware of how they are feeling? How about kids who can recogize the danger zones and take care of these four warning signs before they develop into a bad heart condition?

You can! On a regular basis – just ask! “How’s your heart? How are you feeling? Did you hurt anyone today? Did anyone hurt you? Did I break a promise to you?”

The more aware we are of what we’re feeling, the better able we are to protect and defend from troubling issues down the road.

You can help your child become aware, then you can gently guide through the process of addressing what’s troubling them.

Can you imagine how different your life would be if someone had taught you at an early age how to guard your heart?

Every problem is an opportunity!

That’s the motto of successful business people. Especially successful entrepreneurs. If there is a problem – that means there is an opportunity to create a solution!

Last night I met with several parents who shared a major struggle of balancing life/work/family. We live in a world where we are pulled in many different directions and feel the need to excel in each direction.

This time old problem of not enough time to do all the things you want to do is an OPPORTUNITY! Really!

If you are running a business and you seriously don’t have enough time to do everything that needs to be done, what do you do? You HAVE to stop and prioritize. You MUST determine what can be left undone, or whether you can hire more people, or train people to be more efficient. You don’t have a choice if you want to be successful.

Problems equal Opportunities!

Being overwhelmed with too much going on in your life is the perfect OPPORTUNITY for the same sort of self-examination that we rarely take the time to do.  Alignment of our actions with our values doesn’t just happen automatically. It’s far easier to just function in react mode to get through each day. But we won’t like where we end up if we just let the current carry us along. If we want our lives to have meaning and purpose and to live by a set of values – that takes introspection. It takes time. First you have to examine what your values are – what is most important in life?

One way to determine that is to take some time to think about this question: “If I died tomorrow, what would I want people to say about me at my funeral?” I know that sounds grim, but it’s a valuable exercise. Nothing makes us realize what’s most important to us than thinking about losing everything, including life. Thinking about what legacy you want to leave, helps you to crystallize your values.

Have no regrets!

Consider what is most important and discover what your priorities truly are. Then it will be easier to make decisions about what things are draining time and energy unnecessarily. Or you might conclude that for this season you’re just going to be drained and running on empty and that’s ok. But it will be a conscious decision.

When we consciously choose how we spend our time and energy, I think there is less regret later. Regret comes when we feel like we just drifted unconsciously and let life lead us in a direction we wished we hadn’t gone.

So look at whatever problem you’re facing right now as an OPPORTUNITY! Think about it and come up with a creative solution!