One Step At A Time

One Step At A Time

The first marathon commemorated the run of the soldier Pheidippides who, according to legend, ran approximately 25 miles from a battlefield near the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians in 490 B.C.

I used to run. I used to love running. I hope to pick up running once again. However, getting into a routine of running takes discipline. Building up the necessary endurance to run a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, etc. requires discipline and a plan. For many, it also requires a support structure.

As an example, for me to get back into shape for running a 5K will require an aerobic base building routine that includes a run/walk plan. An acceptable first week of training is 20 to 30 minutes total of jogging/running/walking three times a week. By contrast, ultra-marathoners (those who run 100-mile events), have insane training regiments. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to be an ultra-marathoner (or regular marathoner for that matter). It takes time, it takes commitment, and it takes patience.

The same is true for being a Christ follower.

I admire those who’ve devoted a lifetime to serving God and sharing His glory with others. For me, the standard-bearer is John Piper. His site, Desiring God, is a fountain of learning and inspiration. I began my faith journey anew in the summer of 2009, and it’s such a blessing to be able to look back on the last eight and half years and recognize how much I’ve grown. I also look forward knowing I have a lifetime of growth yet to come.

I’ve also had conversations with others who are kicking the tires of faith or new to being in a relationship with Christ. I’ve been told they look at me as a model of what it means to be a Christian, and as flattering and humbling as that is, I remind them of how I still have a long way to go. Yet, I appreciate the comment, and I once again make the analogy to running. I am somewhere in the 5K to 10K stage of my spiritual activity, yet my eyes are set on the ultra-marathoning John Piper’s of the world, hoping I can one day come close to reaching those levels. By contrast, others find themselves on the couch, trepidatious about lacing up their Jesus shoes and starting a walk with Him.

What this all comes down to is that as we enter the season of resolutions and newfound resolve, I pray you give yourself the requisite patience and time to grow in your relationship with Christ. If you’re new to the faith, please know being a Christ follower is not easy. Accepting Jesus into your heart does not mean your life instantly becomes care-free. Instead, it means you can walk with confidence knowing God will provide.

The activation of the Holy Spirit within you is instant, but it will take years of spiritual and scriptural training to see the transformative change He provides. This means making reading the Word part of your plan. This means making service to others part of your plan. This means re-evaluating the priorities in your life. It’s a process – a sometimes grueling process – but one that yields rewards on both sides of eternity.

“He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
– 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 NLT


PostScript: I realized after having written this post I wrote basically the same post back in April of 2016. I try not to regurgitate material, and I apologize for the oversight.

Preface – 2018 Writing Resolution

Preface – 2018 Writing Resolution

Write every day.

That’s it. In a nutshell, my resolution is to post to my blog every day.

Yes, I know I’ve said this before. And like many other resolutions that have preceded this one, momentum seems to last a matter of mere weeks. But there is one vantage point I have going into 2018 that better positions me to tackle this challenge: I am currently unemployed.

I am no longer bound by the daily grind of work emails and conference calls. Therefore, I have nothing but time and no excuses for failing on this resolution. I will be honest and admit there may be days when I ‘cheat’ by posting only a picture or share an interesting item with only a scant investment of actual writing on my part, but when we get to December 31, 2018, I want to look at my WordPress statistics and see at least 365 posts. Yes, that means there may be more than one per day (as this preface post is), but I promise to not inundate my blog with meaningless noise. These pages have always been an open book of who I am, my personal experiences, and the journey I’ve taken since my first post back in 2004.

I hope you will join me on this new adventure. I can only imagine the posts that will come once Lee and I transition to full-time mission work. I am excited about this new chapter in our lives, and I pray this excitement jumps off the page in the entries to come.

Happy New Year and enjoy!

#2018WriteNow

Reflections and Projections: A Look Back and Ahead

I don’t want this to be another typical New Year’s Day blog, full of resolutions forgotten by February or empty promises I make to myself. I also don’t want this to be a long diatribe year-in-review of 2013, either.

So, instead, I think I am just going to use this post as a sort of mental scrapbook for all the awesome things Lee and I were able to share in 2013, and as a wish-list of what we want to do in 2014. The central theme: gratitude. Yes, Lee and I had some tough moments last year, but they all pail in comparison to the plethora of blessings we were given.

So as we look forward to the year ahead, most of us with the clean-slate optimism of “this is my year to be great”, keep in mind the following:

  • You ARE great.
  • There is no such thing as perfection. All we can hope to do is be better today than we were yesterday.
  • “Be happy in the moment. That’s enough. Each moment is all we need. Not more.” – Mother Teresa

2013 Gratitude List

My Kids
  • Natalie’s continued success with club and middle school soccer
  • Daniel’s participation in Odyssey of the Mind and Math Bowl
  • Daniel attending Camp Gilead and Busch Gardens Camp
  • Chaperoning Natalie to Howl O’Scream
  • Kids spending the week with us over the summer and then again while their mom was traveling
  • Cheering on Wiregrass High School girls basketball with Natalie
  • Their overall good health and well being
Church / Faith
Music Concerts
Friends
  • My 40th birthday celebration
  • Beer nights with the guys
  • Weddings (Patricia & Adam, Tracey & Matt, Leslie Ann & Graham, Stacey & Sanjay)
  • Leigh S. moving back to Florida
  • Dinner nights (Jeff & Ellen, George & Ashley, Stephen & Lindsey, Warren & Gwen, Mark & Renee, Alyson & Tom, Jamie & Jamey, Jeff & Lindsey)
  • Super Bowl and college football parties
  • East coast trips to Casa de Smith
Lee

I am probably overlooking several events and people, and for that I am sorry. I guess it’s a good problem to have when your life is so full of blessings that it’s hard to keep track of them all.

As for 2014, Lee and I have some very lofty financial and lifestyle goals. We want to reduce debt by sticking to a strict budget, and also lose weight by trying the Fast Metabolism Diet. Both will take a serious amount of discipline and determination, but they work hand-in-hand given we spent about three times as much going out to dinner in 2013 than we did on groceries.

We also plan/hope to take Lee’s nephew to Cancun when he graduates from high school in May, and then travel back to Mexico in the late summer to visit my family in Puebla and spread my father’s ashes in his hometown. It will be 10 years in September that my father passed away.

Personally, I want to ensure one post to my blog per day. That’s not to say I will be writing every day. Rather, I want to make sure I add something – be it a written post, a photo, a funny YouTube video: something – to my blog every day.

Through it all, Lee and I know that God will direct us where He wants us to go. I know my faith walk saw amazing growth in 2013, and I pray that it continues to expand in this new year. I wish you all the best with your goals, dreams, and ambitions for this year.

“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

Blessings

Why We Fail

As the month of January would have it, there are many blogs, magazine articles, talk shows, etc. centered on the topic of resolutions. “New Year, New You.” Now is the time to start fresh with all those things we all have been meaning to do, and I know I have my laundry list of resolutions for 2013.

And with each list of resolutions made comes a list of resolutions not achieved. It’s normal. You can say it’s par for the course with every New Year.  Still, it got me to thinking about all the times, both big and small, that I have not managed to reach my goals.

I’ve written before about how movies have a way of touching our lives and correlating our real world experiences to what we see on the screen. I recently sat down with Lee to watch The Adjustment Bureau – a very underrated movie about an enduring love story – and there was a part of the film that really struck a chord with a particular moment in my life.

[SPOILER ALERT] In the movie, the character of David Norris, played by Matt Damon, is asking the love of his life Elise to trust him and go with him through a door. “I can go through this door alone. You’ll never see me or the people chasing us again. Or you can come with me, and I don’t know what’s on the other side, but you’d be next to me and that’s all I’ve wanted since the minute I met you.”

I lived that moment. Well … something very similar to that moment. A love induced plea to someone, asking them to take a leap of faith and hold my hand all the way through it. It didn’t happen and I went through that door by myself, landing flat on my face, devastated and heart-broken.

I failed.

I will admit it took some effort to bounce back from that event. The road back to normalcy was not a fast or easy one, and it was one that was littered with pain and mistakes that all stemmed from that failure. It was a time at which I stumbled, fell, and stayed down.

What I realize now is that it’s okay to fail.  After all, what is failure if not the building blocks of future success? As I correlate that moment, and all the other difficult experiences in my life, to what I continue to learn in my spiritual journey with God, I find that it’s not about the stumbles we take. Rather, what’s important is our willingness to get back up. What truly matters is our readiness to be redeemed after we fall.

Even Jesus, who chose to put the weight of my sins and my selfishness and my flaws on his shoulders, fell three times on his way to be sacrificed for me. To me, there is no greater or more telling example of ‘getting back up’ than that of Jesus. Beaten, bloodied, and broken, He stood back up to fulfill His promise and redeem me from my sins.

Having the luxury of looking back, now more than seven years removed from my personal rock-bottom experience, and being able to apply the context of hindsight and lessons learned, I know that I would not be where I am today if not for that moment of failure. That door being shut turned out to be the opening to another door that has yielded thousands of wonderful and exciting memories.

Accomplishing your resolutions for the New Year is great, and it’s something towards which everyone should diligently strive. However, it’s important to be reminded that it is not the end of the world if we don’t achieve those goals. The important thing is that we try, and when we fail, we get back up and try again.

New Year and New Wishes

As we usher in 2012 and we prepare our lists of resolutions for the upcoming new year – some we’ll complete, most we’ll ignore – I have but one thought that hangs on my mind. Actually, it’s more of a wish for all of us to share, and it was inspired by the music playing in our car as we pulled into the parking lot at our hotel this evening.

May your 2012, and every year thereafter, be filled with moments where you try to make the make the world a better place. You know …. shine a light.

May God bless you and yours this New Year. Thank you all so much for the collective hours you’ve spent in sharing this blog with me. Much love to you all.