Free Will

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The power to do something different at any given time; free will. Humankind is the only creature that can wake up without a plan. Chances are you have met someone who has lived this philosophy like it was actually a good strategy. Everything else around us has a plan. Birds know exactly what to do when they wake up. Trees stretch toward the sky. Grass strives to grow a little taller. Ants wake up and start busily working.

If you desire for things to change, then you must change them. You are one of the only beings that actually can create change. Do not waste an opportunity to change your life for the better. Remember, eventually minor changes lead to major ones. The important thing is to be consistent, day in, day out. You might think you have to make a giant leap to get to your destination, but a series of small steps will get you there also.

Be patient because it might take time for change to occur. During this moment of waiting, do not quit. It is tempting to give up and go back to the way things used to be. This is especially true if of things are not going your way. After you did what you could do, then wait until more action is required on your part. Otherwise, what is left to do? Most people think worrying will help, but when you find a way it helps, please let me know.

Animals, bugs, and plants have a plan every day, and always know what to do and when to do it. They do not have a choice. It is humans who have free will and the power to change one or lots of things. Many people end up lost because they do not use this gift properly. The use of free will can be harmful when used in a wrong way, so be sure your motives are pure. Your will can be used to help others live a better life or it can make life miserable for them. Whether you believe in it or not, at least consider the idea that one day you will be held accountable for all the things you did or did not do. This adds a strong perspective and may cause you to think differently in the future about how you use your free will. 

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Win or Lose, Together

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Win or lose, the whole team experiences it together. When a team wins, each player might think about how much effort they individually put into it. Their ego wants to cry out, “I did it!” But in reality, they never did it alone. Absolutely there are gifted people out there. But talent alone will not win the game; teamwork does.

When the game is about to end, that final pass, field goal, homerun, whatever method of scoring all could shift the score to a win. But if they miss it for any reason, we tend to blame the person who missed as if it were completely their fault. Had the team itself played a little better, perhaps the remaining seconds of the game would not have put so much pressure on one individual.

Similarly, God placed support systems in our lives to help us win at life. These people give us emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual support. They can act as mentors guiding us to better decisions. But as important as winning is, we must recognize that we also lose together too. If you are a parent, when your child loses, you feel pain as well. If your spouse loses, you will feel their pain. So, if you happen to lose, do not run away from your support system, your team.

Together we must share each other’s victories and defeats. When we win, we must not boast of our efforts, but of the commitment of our team. When we lose, we must all accept the blame and learn from our mistakes. We must encourage and challenge one another. Win or lose, let’s do it together!

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2nd Book Release!!!

I am so excited to share with you my latest book, which is now available as an ebook on Amazon.

Love is a common element found at the heart of most gifts. Weaved in the fabric of life are unique opportunities in which each of us are granted a chance to make a difference in the life of another. It is easy to miss an opportunity, not necessarily because we are bad people but mainly because we are so busy with our own lives that we fail to notice others.

Becoming a giver can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. But why? It starts with understanding why we should give in the first place. Giving often begins with sacrifice and building a resistance to the selfish nature that lies within us all. Every day, need surrounds us. No one can escape its reach; not the rich, nor the gifted. Eventually all will come to know its power over us, unless of course we acknowledge a valuable truth. Within each person is the solution to much of the world’s need.

Can we solve all the world’s problems? Alone, no. Together though, I think we might have a chance! Start today to make a small part of the world around you a little better.

Preview the trailer below.

When Pillars Fall

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Part of my enjoyment in visiting cities is observing the massive architectural structures found in them. People get used to seeing pillars in their lives every day and take them for granted. These giants in our lives stand tall, bearing the weight of untold forces, never folding under the pressure. They withstand everything that works against them, yet do not move from their position. They represent stability with grace and fortitude.

Hopefully you are not thinking about giant structures though while reading this but people in your life who represent these pillars by the way they live. For many it is a father or mother, who work tirelessly to care for their loved ones. Perhaps it is a spouse who gives devotion. However, pillars are not bound only by family ties. Leaders stand among us in the communities, jobs, and other organizations. An older man or woman could set the highest example for the younger generation. These pillars embody the much-needed support system we need in our lives.

Yet a day comes when pillars fall. They stood the test of time for so long. For years they supported the weight of a load so that others would not have to. Despite feeling vast amounts of pressure, they stood strong. Eventually the pressure gave way to cracks, yet they remained, sometimes for years. Unwilling to give up, they held out for as long as they could until they could bear no more.

When pillars fall, they create a monstrous thud, the magnitude of their strength revealed most the moment the ground shakes. Everyone around becomes unstable. Never before could it be understood how much these pillars held. The surrounding structures shifted under the weight of a new load, having to adjust and provide enough support to keep all from collapsing around them.

Surprisingly, another pillar steps into the gap, continuing the legacy of the former, holding up everyone and everything surrounding it. With a newfound sense of duty, the new pillar adjusts into an unfamiliar role. In times of unbearable pressure, it would do well to remember how the former pillar remained strong and steadfast. A sense of duty kept it firmly planted at its base, never losing ground, never giving in. No one asks to become a pillar in life. In fact, many are not; however, some could be.

An Unexpected Coach

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This photo reminded me of someone in my life who played an unexpected role that I will share more details about later. When I see many golfers today, they are dressed to impress. In addition, strapped to their golf carts are some of the finest golf bags, filled to the brim with expensive sets of golf clubs and accessories. As a young man in his mid-twenties, my older brother discovered the game of golf. However, he had none of those fanciful things. He bought a cheap set of clubs from a yard sale. The bag showed its age, partially dilapidated but still capable of getting the job done. Inside it was an old set of irons and woods. They, too, had seen better days, yet were still capable of sending that little ball flying.

Before he died, he tried to get me to play golf with him. Eventually he found a better set of clubs and gave his first set me. I resisted his efforts though and we never played on the golf course together. He seemed to enjoy it enough that he went without me. One day he gave me some plastic golf balls with holes in them and informed me that I could practice out in the yard. After a brief demonstration, I could see that he was right. The way they were designed, they did not have the ability to go far.

We played a little bit in the yard, but it never amounted to much. To me, I could not see the point in hitting such a small object, at times wildly, and then searching for it when it got so easily lost. All evidence showed me that it was purely a game of frustration, a treasure hunt I had no interest in. Back then, I had other interests that were pursued, but golfing was not one of them. Later, he died, and I never got a chance to play a real game with him. I soon felt the sting of regret.

Years later, I changed jobs and made new friends at work who enjoyed golfing too. By that point, I had become bitter about the subject of golf. For years, I lived with the regret of not doing something with my brother that he really enjoyed. It took quite a bit of convincing on their part to get me to go out onto the golf course. I still remember the first time I played. It was on a small, nine-hole municipal golf course. I was decent at minigolf, but when it came to the real thing, it was something else entirely. At first when I watched others do it, I thought, how hard can it be. I hit my first drive and where it stopped, nobody knows! Must have been something wrong with the club, better try another. Then another. Wouldn’t you know in that whole lousy mismatched set missing random clubs, there wasn’t any that worked well. No wonder my brother and the previous owner got rid of them! By hole seven, I had given up all hope of ever playing golf again. The only redeeming factor was that I enjoyed driving around on the golf cart.

At that time, the fall leaves on the ground made finding the ball even more difficult. That one experience golfing was it for me that year. But the following spring came around, and my friends from work were after me again. A league forming and one of them needed a partner. I was a little hesitant at first, but eventually agreed to join them. One of them took me on as a “project”, even though he was on the opposing team. We played every week until the end of the season. Under the guidance of my unpaid trainer, by doing what I was told to do, my golf game got much better. It turned out to be fun when I could find my ball, although the golf cart was still the highlight of my experience.

I played for a number of years after that, with many different players. Thanks to the help of my dear friend early on, who became like family to me, I came to really enjoy the game of golf. It was something my brother wanted me to enjoy with him, but I missed out on. In my regret, I stayed away from golf altogether. Had it not been for my faithful friend, I would have missed out on it. But he was willing to teach and encourage me through the struggles and gave me something he was not even aware of. His efforts helped me recover from regrets that I lived with for years. One day, I took time to explain all this to him and expressed my gratitude for the gift he gave me.

Whether it is through friends or family, the gift of recovery is often needed during life’s unexpected circumstances, such as death or family hardship. In the weeks following my brother’s death, so many people chipped in to make life easier for my family. Every time we turned around, someone was dropping meals off at our home, providing much-needed relief during those tough times. I’ve watched similar responses when people were hospitalized. People that care enough, act and provide relief in whatever they can. Who knows when we might be the recipient of such needed care. When you begin to understand how truly remarkable it is to give like this, then perhaps you will understand more the value contained within.

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The Sacrifice of Two

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Over the years, I have heard numerous stories of how my dad made many sacrifices for our family. In fact, we have all laughed so many times because of the inside jokes that we share. Before my brother and I were born, my dad switched jobs several times until he ended up in a single career for the remainder of his working days. Things were tight financially, but my parents made the best of what they had. When we came along, it added pressure to the family budget.

Dad became a surveyor, which was a great fit for him because he enjoyed being outdoors. One day, an opportunity came along that offered him higher wages, although it meant he would have to drive a lot farther to work. Not only that, but it was located in a much more congested city, which meant the stress of driving in bad traffic. I do not remember him complaining, although he may have. However, I do remember him not being around when I woke up on those cold, drizzly mornings because he was already at his job.

One of the interesting things about being a surveyor is that it is double sided, like a coin. On one side, surveyors can enjoy the fresh breath of air and warm sunshine. The other side is a disaster, with exposure to rain, severe cold, and other harsh elements. One of the jokes we laugh about so much today is about his old boots. Back then, it was certainly not a laughing matter. We lived in the north, where the winters were particularly cold. In one of his earlier jobs, he had secured a pair of steel-toed work boots. They were great for working in a manufacturing environment. However, they were ridiculous when trying to work outside in the frigid temperatures of winter.

As time went on, my growing brother and I required more clothing. The more he had to provide for us meant less for himself. To this day, I remember his clothing tattered, and torn. He used to wear ugly old flannel jackets to keep warm. Back then, I was embarrassed to ever have worn one, even if I were cold. Nonetheless, he wore his worn-out clothes and kept his head up high. What an example he set for his boys! All these years later, I have finally come to appreciate the sacrifices he made for us. In fact, I will always remember them.

But it was not only my father who sacrificed for our family. My mother also played a vital role in our lives growing up. Her sacrifice was the giving of herself continually for our family. She worked tirelessly around the clock so that her family would be cared for. Being a stay-at-home mother is not always all that it is cracked up to be. Men, in particular, seem to think they have it tough when they play the role of provider. What they often fail to understand is the amount of effort and energy a mother uses every day. I can only speak for my mom in saying that, but I know in her case, it was true.

Growing up, we never lived in a brand-new home. However, Mom made sure that the home we lived in was well taken care of. She took such care of my dad, brother, and I, that we never learned how to cook for ourselves. Had anything ever happened to her, we would have been totally lost! To her, it was a pleasure taking care of her family in that way. Eventually, she decided to run a business out of our home. After receiving her license, she opened a cake and candy shop. Again, she worked tirelessly at that in addition to everything else. This time it was to provide additional income for the household.

Although I do not remember every detail, I do have the warmest of feelings in my heart for the times the four of us shared experiences together. Her efforts made it possible for the family to go on vacations and visit places that we otherwise would not have had the resources to. When we got old enough, my brother and I were recruited to be a part of the working class in our home. It was simply too much for one person to take on any longer and we were asked to participate in the chores of the home. Neither of us were the least bit thrilled about working around the house.

I have a memory of my mom, brother, and I working out in the family garden. All of a sudden, my brother started complaining. “This is all Adam and Eve’s fault!” he bellowed loudly. The sweat from his brow introduced him to a concept called work. There was much that needed to be done around the house, but Mom took it a step further. She wanted the home to look beautiful as well. I remember countless hours spent working outside the home, trying to make the outward appearance more pleasant to people passing by. She planted so many flowers, which meant there were always lots of weeds to be pulled. On top of that, I remember Dad digging a huge hole in the front yard. Oh no, I thought, what’s going on now. He brought home a gigantic, plastic fishpond. While digging the hole, he unearthed several large rocks which became an integral part of the waterfall that was set up. Sure, why not, what is a fishpond without a waterfall! All joking aside, it did look great. I saw the flashy magazines with beautiful homes on the cover. It was always my opinion that our home should be on the cover of one of those magazines, at least I thought so for my mom’s sake; she deserved it.

Now when I think about the phrase, standing on the shoulders of giants, I cannot help but think about all the sacrifices made by my parents. They showed by example how to make sacrifices for the benefit of others. Has anyone in your life demonstrated how to give by sacrificing their resources, whether it be financial, time, or service? Have you done so for others? A life of giving is one of sacrifice. The more you give, the more you must sacrifice. The flip side of this, is that it makes you more grateful for the multitude of sacrifices made by others on your behalf. When giving this way becomes a part of your everyday life, you will look forward to the endless possibilities available to enrich the lives of those around you. Ultimately, it will make you a treasure in the hearts of the ones who love you the most.

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Ungrateful Wretch!

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First off, I use slang all the time, often without knowing the meaning. I searched the online dictionary to find out what a wretch was and thought, yes that perfectly fits as one of the names given to someone who does not appreciate a gift. I hope this is not the case but acknowledge the possibility that recipients may not even be pleased at all with your gift. I know, the nerve, right? Know ahead of time that helping people won’t always make them happy. They may be angry with themselves for needing help in the first place. Perhaps they may resent you for trying to help them.

It is important to be gracious when handling matters of giving. Giving in secret is the best way to allow others to save face, if they are truly in need. When it is an anonymous giver, there is no way to repay the good deed. The pressure to give back is eliminated and hopefully the gift can set them on the right path forward. It also may help them overcome the pride of accepting a gift from someone they know. Without knowing who it was that gave, they can relax knowing that no one will maliciously hold it over them.

Anyone who gives boastfully or reminds a recipient of a gift given is abusing the good nature of giving. There are many things that give pleasure but giving is a way that brings its own unique sense of pleasure that can only be enjoyed to its fullest when done with the truest of intentions. Doing otherwise will spoil the rewards that come from a life of giving. The further down my path of giving, the more I wish to continue on it.

Giving has its advantages and disadvantages, like most things. There is no other path I would have taken, knowing what I know now, except that I would have started sooner. The joy that has filled my heart on so many occasions cannot be touched by any material possession owned, nor can it be obtained by any form of selfish action. I’ve even wondered if it were selfish to give because of the rewards that have come my way, which seem far greater than any gift I gave. But when I stopped to think of how everyone benefits by the act of giving, I realized it was set up this way. There is no need to reinvent a system that works.

Giving returns far more than one can imagine. It will not happen overnight and expecting so is foolish. It is when it becomes a lifestyle that you will see the most difference. Unexpected smiles and gratitude will come. It is my belief that when a person becomes a true giver, they will connect even more to the greatest giver of all time.

We are all born with potential but what we become is largely on us. What will you become? What will you give?

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Asset and Liabilities in Friendship

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I’d be remiss to talk about friendship and not ask you to examine what kind of friend you are. Are you in a friendship only for what they give you, or do you give back equally? In other words, are you an asset in their life or a liability?

Family are the people in our lives that should always be there. But Proverbs 18:24 mentions a friend that is closer than a brother. If you have ever had a friendship like that, you know what is meant by that statement. This type of friend is totally committed, practically speaking, like in a marriage. These are the friends you can call at any hour, and they will be there for you. If you only make a few friends like that in a lifetime, they will be a treasure to be highly valued.

In most relationships, people seldom push past the point of inconvenience. One obvious reason for this is that we cannot be everything to everybody. The numbers simply cannot be sustained. These people may even change in our lifetime as the seasons of life change. People move. They start families. Things change. It is all part of life.

Do not be mad at these friends when things do change. They can still be a friend, but things may not be exactly the same as they once were. Adapt to whatever form the friendship takes on. In the meantime, interact with others who are close to you. Observe how you treat them.

When you are determined to be an asset to whomever you befriend, it should not take them long to notice. If they do not seem to mirror your actions and behavior, they likely will not be a “friend closer than family”. While relationships do take work, it should not be all one sided. If a person simply does not put much effort into the friendship, then decide upfront how much energy you wish to put into it. It should all be very fluid. As they say, “go with the flow.”

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Token of Appreciation

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For some people, giving comes easy. It’s receiving that they need to work on. For these people, the first inclination after receiving a gift is to turn around and give something equal or greater in return. A genuine gift from the heart should not have to be returned in any way to the original giver. In some cases, it becomes an issue of pride where the giving becomes a competition. If the receiver has any trouble with their beliefs about themselves, they may not feel worthy of a gift.

Someone once told me how they had received an amazing gift. They were grateful but had a tough time accepting it. I reminded them that some of the best gifts come when we do not deserve them or when we cannot pay the person back. In that spirit of generosity, giving flourishes well. The usual form of gratitude is a simple thank you to the giver. This gesture acknowledges the good nature of the giver and lets them know that you value their contribution to your life. This is what most parents try to teach their children early on. For most, a thank you is enough. However, adding a big smile to it adds an extra touch to it, sort of like icing on a cake.

In this day of technology, people are inundated with emails and text messages. Another idea for how to express your gratitude is by writing a brief note or letter by hand. It’s not just around the holidays; the postal service will deliver your handwritten note for a minimal charge year-round. The best part about it is that it is such an inexpensive way to show appreciation. It demonstrates more effort on the part of the one who sends the note and thus, takes on more meaning. I have gotten more emails and texts than I can shake a stick at. However, I can count on one hand the number of handwritten notes.

I express my appreciation after each gift received. For several months I wait for time to pass. When it feels like the right time, I may send a surprise gift to them in return. It has been neat to see how the timing can be perfect. The similar feeling, they blessed me with, could then be experienced by them. The main consideration is just recognizing the effort and gift given. Be sure to let others know how much a gift means to you. Don’t try to outdo their gift if you ever give one in return some day. Perhaps there is an area in which they are incapable of filling on their own. That might be an opportunity to step in and fill in a gap in their life.

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Add + Value

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Videos posted online have flourished like never before. Browse the comment section of popular channels and it should not take more than a few seconds to find a peculiar message. I rarely post in the comment section of any video. One day, for whatever reason, some of the comments stuck out and caused my eyes to browse a little. I was perplexed at some of what I saw.

As time progressed and I watched more videos, I started noticing similar strange messages but still did not think much about it. Then more content creators began to complain about their comment sections being bombarded by messages about scams. Unfortunately, some people do not know better and are taken advantage of by these scams. It should not be a surprise because that’s what scammers do, take value from others. I never understood how horribly a person feels toward others that they would do this to a fellow human being?

It certainly did not start on the internet, and I can’t imagine it will end there either. Corruption has long been at work in the human heart for thousands of years. People have been scamming and scheming for all kinds of reasons. I do not know how much effort it takes to rip someone off. However, it feels like people work tirelessly to take from others. It makes me stop to think about the alternative.

What if for every person out there trying to take from others, there were ten people trying to figure out a way to give more to others? When a person crosses our path in a unique way, what if we asked how, we could add value to their life? Yes, I suppose if we asked more questions like that, perhaps our thoughts would steer us in better direction. Perhaps there would be a little less need in the world. Perhaps trust among each other would not be lost so easily. Perhaps some of the small voids in our lives would be filled by the love and generosity placed in them by others.

No one likes the terrible things that people do. However, we cannot force people to stop doing whatever it is they do that is wrong. Only they can do that, so it remains outside of our control. Instead, we take what we can control and do something that will push us, and others, forward to a brighter future. Instead of taking value from others, why not add it?

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