Provoked to Awaken

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Our enemies provoke us. Something in them calls out to something in us. We may not even realize it, but at the moment of trial, something inside awakens. There is only so much we tolerate. At first it is just uncomfortable but quickly moves to fearful. We want to flee the moment, but our adversary will not remove their foot. We start to squirm, trying to free ourselves but they press down harder. How long does an enemy’s foot have to stay on our neck before we decide enough is enough?

Something happens when the pain inside turns to anger at the injustice. Everything inside of us suddenly gets stirred up. Our anger pushes through some barrier, beyond fear and pain. We decide to give them a strong reason why they never should have put it there in the first place! Where did that come from, we suddenly wonder afterward.

Whatever rattled your cage now has a reason to be intimidated. Before, they were messing with the little you, the one that ignores the threats and confrontations. Now they are face to face with a giant that dwells inside you, one who will not stand for the injustice. They take a few steps back and now shy away from you. After all, nobody wants to mess with crazy. This may sound a lot like a physical encounter here, like in the case of a bully, but that is not what is being referred to here.

Life throws many punches and hits us in unexpected ways. While some can be avoided, no one can escape them all. Adversity has many faces. There have been so many challenges in my life when I thought I could not go on and simply could not see my way through something. Looking back, the road to where I am now was filled with numerous, seemingly insurmountable obstacles. However, in hindsight, they no longer look as big as they once did.

When something new and intimating comes knocking on your door, of course use good judgment, but also know there is something inside that will answer the call and declare when enough is enough.

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Dream Not Yet Explored

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When was the last time you got really excited about an idea and decided to share it with someone? Did it feel like you were trying to light a wet match? Not everyone will feel the same fire the way you do, if at all. Don’t put too much energy into trying to get them to. We all have different passions and abilities, so it makes sense that others may not be enthusiastic about it. Instead, spend the time and energy into your idea.

It is questionable whether some dreams (ideas) should even be shared. It really depends on who you tell. If it is someone who gives you unconditional support, then it may be okay. But be careful when you try to share a big dream. Most people do not have vision for such things. Some may not be able to see it all, even after they can see strong evidence. Their input early on could be detrimental to your dream, causing you to quit before even getting started.

Either way, it doesn’t matter. Don’t get stuck on anyone’s input, whether good or bad. If you always find yourself chasing other people’s opinions, you will look like a dog chasing its tail, only to never catch it. You are free to dream about new products or services. Innovations are always around the corner, waiting for the right person to act on a thought and bring them to fruition.

When an idea comes along, it must be nurtured, kind of like one of those tiny humans . The idea itself is fragile and should be handled with care. But do not misunderstand me and keep it locked away in a vault. Action must be taken! I remember watching a television show about wild animals in Africa. I cannot remember what animal it was, but I watched one of the females kick her baby. The look on my face was one of horror. The commentator explained that if the baby did not get off to a running start, its risk of getting caught by a predator was much higher.

The same is true for your idea. There are people waiting to steal the dream away from you, whether intentional or not. Some think they are doing you a favor, sparing you from the disappointment they once experienced. It is good to receive input, but in the end, it is up to you to make up your own mind. As for me, I know the dream is out ahead of me, and I am going to chase it. I hope you do too!

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Where’s That Wheel Going?

After leaving church one Sunday morning, I was headed to visit my friend in the nursing home. On my way, I drove down a busy road that had two lanes on each side of a center turning lane. When I drove around a bend in the road, I noticed something strange in front of me. As I got closer, I had to suddenly stop in the busy traffic behind a car that was parked in the middle of the lane farthest to the right. I knew something was definitely wrong when I saw a man standing by his wheel on the sidewalk, next to the entrance of a business parking lot.

I drove around him but as I drove down the road, I thought about how something could go wrong. Wrong for the man, as if he hadn’t had a bad enough day as it was. Wrong for others who may not drive as carefully as they should. I will admit I do not always stop when I see someone in trouble. After all, crazy things can happen. But as a man, I do not worry quite as much. Plus, it was noon on a bright sunny day. I felt pressed to turn back around, the way I normally do when I feel God is asking me to do something. At first I drove back and turned into one of the next parking lots. I then approached the man on foot to find out what happened and see if there was a way I could help.

He told me his tire came off as he was just about to pull into the parking lot to check on it. Someone saw it rolling down the street and brought it back to him. I agreed with him that the lug nuts were not torqued properly. I went around the front side and noticed the hub, where the wheel is placed, dug into the surface of the road, which created a small trench in the shape of an arc on the street below. It went up the entrance and stopped underneath the wheel hub which now laid in direct contact with the concrete beneath it. It was a low rider car with huge rims, which left little space around the other wheels. In addition to that, the frame where the jack was to be placed was close to three inches from the ground.

I returned to my car but watched as the cars whizzed by nearly crashing into him, totally unaware of the dangerous situation that was around the bend in the road. So I pulled my car into the same lane but at a distance away from him but clearly in the line of sight where people could see my car from a long ways off. I watched, at times squinting my face, praying to God that they would not crash into my car because they were not paying attention. I jumped out quick and offered to use my jack. But it didn’t work so I put it back. A woman in a separate car was on the phone, trying to get help from the insurance company. The man and I spoke while we waited on assistance. At times I returned close to my car in an effort to signal to people to switch lanes. Again, some were barely paying attention and nearly crashed into my car. But thankfully they did not! A police officer passed by in the opposite lane and then flicked their lights on and pulled up behind my car. I was standing close by so I explained what happened. The man joined in on the conversation and explained what happened to the officer. She informed me she would stay until help arrived. It felt so much better having a police car with flashing lights blocking the lane of traffic. She thanked me for trying to help out, to which I was happy to do so. I turned to the man and went to shake his hand, as I do with most men I interact with. He reached out and grabbed my hand, kind of side ways.

“I hope things work out for you man, good luck,” I said.

“Love you man,” he responded.

Of all the responses I could have ever conceived, that was not one of them. We may have looked different, talked different, acted different… you name it. But on that day, it felt like we were brothers.

A Moment’s Notice

Life can change in a moment. Some kinds of moments can be difficult to get through. They take your breath away and leave you speechless. It’s similar to the experience when that bully unexpectedly punched you hard in the stomach. Gasping for breath, you tried to regain your composure. Most of the onlookers turned away, as if they had not seen what happened. After all, what could they say that would make it better? Meanwhile, you were left with unanswered questions. Why me? What did I do to deserve that?

Sometimes the event is short lived and other times it can bring changes that last a lifetime. The number of struggles we face are too numerous to list. But regardless of the situation, things eventually to return to normal. “Normal” being loosely defined, that is. The shock of it all wears off and something else happens. We start looking for who to blame. People make fantastic targets for our problems, which is why we love to blame them so much.

But it can get so bad that we go even further and blame God. We may not come out and say it, for fear of repercussions. So, we instead internalize our struggle and push God away. Why did you do this to me, God? Or, why did you allow this to happen to me?

It is easy to rationalize things we do not understand. In our search for answers, we come up with all kinds of things trying to make sense of it all. Some things we bring on ourselves. Other things are brought on us by the actions of others.

Regardless of why this moment is here, a temptation will arise to let go of what you know to be true. You have been through too much to forget the times you have made it through other events of life. These events seemed manufactured with precision, intent to steal away your hope and magnify your fear.

When a moment like this comes, stay true to your beliefs! Know that this too shall pass. Remember the prior battles you have won. An example of this is King David from the Bible. In his younger years, he was a shepherd who watched over sheep. In times of danger, he had to fight. He once fought a lion and won. In another battle, a bear. Later on he faced a huge giant, one that taunted his people. While others stood by and did nothing, he decided to face the giant in his life.

Giants will always exist in our lives, and take on many forms. They will taunt us and try to get us to give in, to give up. But if a giant exists in this moment of your life, it isn’t there to crush you, it is there for your to conquer. Face what you fear and crush it instead!

Fork in the Road

What is it that separates us from the best things life has to offer?

I’m convinced it’s mostly us. Yes, there are other hindrances along our path in life. However, we have the power to change so many things in our lives if we stay on course. Is success achievable? Yes, but think of it as a daily event rather than a destination. Once a success, always a success… said no one ever!

To win at life, we must consistently give our best efforts. Part of achieving lofty aims is to be a student of life. Many obstacles will clutter your path. Some people may help while others will hinder your path. But in the end, the result always ends with us. Things will always happen, whether it be of our own making or someone else’s. What we will do about it?

Life can be difficult and at times unbearable. Through all the struggles, challenges, and hardships we face, a fork in the road lies forever in front of us. Will we take the path to overcome adversity and rise to victory? Or… Or nothing!

Rise to the challenge. Be the best person you could have ever imagined yourself being. I once heard some great advice, which was to be a version of yourself that a younger version of you could look up to and say, “I want to be that guy!” Or “I want to be that girl”.

It will not be easy. Much effort goes into a successful life, but the rewards are well worth the price that is paid. Not just in houses, cars, land, fame, or fortune. The reward you get when looking in the mirror and knowing you gave it your all is something that all the money in the world cannot buy. You will come to realize that it doesn’t take any of these things to add value to you. Sure, they add value to your life, but they are not your life.

You are what you make of yourself. God gives us the basic ingredients when we start out this life of ours. Where we take it from there is on us. There are many who will help us along the way. There are tons of resources with which we can use to better ourselves. But when all the dust settles, and our lives are over, there will be a string of events tied to circumstances and situations. At the root of everyone is the fork in the road.

Choose the path that leads to life!