perceptionPerception is everything.

Dogs look at their owners and say, “You love me, you shelter me, you feed me, therefore you must be God!”

Cats look at their owners and say, “You love me, you shelter me, you feed me, therefore I must be God!”

How is it that two people can experience the same event and come away with two completely different opinions.  How is that when there is a car accident there are 10 different accounts of what happened.  It’s perception.

Our perceptions about life are formed through the filters of our experiences.  Those experiences are often neutral in meaning.  But then we choose to add a positive or negative meaning to those experiences and that shapes our perceptions.

Simply put, we decide whether life is good or bad based on how we respond to the events that happen to and around us. Over time, whether we respond in the positive or in the negative becomes our “default mode.”  But you can change your defaults. You can toggle the negative off and toggle the positive on.

Are you adding positive meaning to the events around you or is your default switch stuck in a negative perception mode?

Life is life.  It’s how we add meaning to it that makes all the difference and changes our perception.



Give It; Receive It

“The sense of fulfillment is often hidden in kindness to others”

I’ve enjoyed being able to coach a few folks on nutrition, heath and weight loss. One person I was coaching recently decided to get healthy and within a week lost a chunk of weight.  Simple to do, really.  Make the decision. Add fresh greens.  Drink more water.  Cut back on carbs.  Keep physically moving.

helping-othersAfter the initial 10 day start program, I asked what they learned so far.  “I am amazed that I didn’t have to change very many things.  I feel like I’m gaining a lot!  I’m gaining confidence. I’m gaining comfort. I’m gaining joy.”

For me, I shared in their joy.  I gained as they lost. A sense of fulfillment was wrapped up in helping someone else.  I know you’ve had that experience as well.  You help someone out – it benefits their life – you share in their happiness.  I believe we are wired this way.

Sad is the person who only helps themselves.  Frustrated is the one who focuses on taking and not giving.  Bitter is the taste of selfishness.

To whom are you going to offer help this week?

(To Find out more about the 10 day start program, click here)



A Thank You to Facebook

100_0574_0200_200Facebook.  Good-to-do’s call it a time sucker and tramp.  Others call it a stalker’s paradise and a bullies playground.

Today, I take another tack.  Today, I am thankful for the online service of Facebook because Mark Z. has done something for our family that no other venue has done.  They recorded a piece of my daughters life that is now archived for simple access during our Makenzie Moments.  

Photos, news feeds, pokes, pictures and videos, all wrapped together in a package of digital memories of her short but well-lived life.   The access provides remembrances.  The files give laughter.  The data brings her back to life, if only for a short, emotional while.

facebook-logoSo to Facebook.  Today I salute you.  For holding the past and delivering it to our present.  And now, five years since Makenzie’s home going, we close down her Facebook account which, I guess, is another sign of our journey of grief and healing.



Life Lessons from the Dominican Republic

Iphone Dominican 1739Most of the kids ran shoeless through the streets.  Many wore little more than a tattered T-shirt left by past missionaries who happened to stumble through a week of serving outside of their comfort-zones.  Consuelto, Dominican Republic by name,  this was the very tiny, incredibly poor village in which I spent last week trying to build relationships through language-less interactions.  I don’t speak Spanish, other than the obligatory “Gracias,” “Hola” and “Donde es Banios?”  However, one doesn’t need to be a linguist to learn some deep life lessons from this village that isn’t even on Google Maps:

  • People are people, no matter where you are in the world.  Part of my week involved hosting a kids club in which our team played games with the local children, taught them a story via use of a translator and did a craft.  The boys were squirrely, the girls fought for attention and they all smiled - a lot!  On other days, I climbed up on top of the little church that we were helping and worked with the locals to build and install a new roof.  They, like us, were telling jokes and goofing around among the hard work.  I couldn’t understand it all, but some of the jokes were, shall we say, earthy.  I laughed, figured out how I could add to the clean conversations and had an incredible experience!
  • Money isn’t everything.  What if you lived in a culture where there simply wasn’t money, or at the very least, very little of it?  Eventually, you realize that there are other aspects of life that add value in a deeper way than merely the monetary.  I noticed that generally many of the people in the village were happier than many people I know in the States.  Even though what I earn in one day equates to their yearly salary, they often found life more enriching through other venues of fulfillment.  Which brings me to the next life lesson.
  • Being in meaningful relationships brings life to life.  Some of us need many many friends.  Others of us need only a few.  All of us, no matter where we are in the world, were made to intersect with other people.  The conversations our team had via our interpreters highlighted this fact.  People talked about their love and concern for others and their desire to know more and more people.  In essence, people are designed to do life with other people.
  • Knowing you are loved, changes everything.   When people found out that our team paid to visit and work with them, they were utterly amazed.  They felt loved and it changed they way they viewed ‘Americanos’.  When we know we are loved, we are empowered to make positive life changes and then return that love back into the world.  We did a lot of hugging, laughing, and talking about Hope.  It communicated that our team loves this village, which we do.   My heart is still full thinking about the exchange of love.
  • Iphone Dominican 1718To grow, you need to do things in your gifted-zone but push outside your comfort-zone.  Your Creator has designed you in a certain and beautiful way.  You may be handy with a hammer but not so much with a conversation.  You may be great at leading people up front but not so great at lending a hand behind the scenes.  You need to find out your wiring!  That is your gifted zone.  But to feel fulfilled, you need to contribute based on those gifts but push outside what makes you comfortable.  For me, that was an integral life lesson that I’m bringing back to my ‘normal’ life.  (I have an inventory that helps people discover their style.  If you’re interested, click here)

If you’re interested in being involved in changing the world and being changed in the process, there are many organizations through which to do so.  The trip our team went on was through World Servants.  You can check out their opportunities by going to



2 Keys to Feeling Fulfilled


Many years ago, our family journeyed into the great outdoors in a part of the country called The Boundary Waters.  Pristine lakes and virtually untouched landscapes refuel the souls of those who venture in.

As our family was hauling our gear, my youngest daughter – 5 at the time – lagged behind the rest of us which didn’t sit well with her.  Finally, she stopped, dropped the little bag she was carrying and yelled out, “Stop!  I want to be the leader!”

The feelings from my little girl illustrates the frustrations that many people experience in their lives.  They are in a job or life-situation that has robbed them of two critical elements needed for fulfillment.  These two basic needs that scripture, studies in Psychology and long-lived personal development books talk about are the keys to people’s sense purpose in life:

  1. The feeling of progress.
  2. The feeling of control.

The feeling of progress is simply that sense that a person’s life is moving forward in some area.  In World War II, interrogation camp officials would incessantly send a message to the prisoners that this was all there was, that there was no more and that their lives meant nothing.  No progress.  No meaning.  No movement.  As a result, many of prisoners would readily give information about the U.S. operations thinking that they had no hope anyway.  For survival, some of the prisoners would find something that they could work on to show progress.  Many make origami out of the cigarette wrappers on the cell floors.  Others would scratch out pictures on their floors but would only add one piece per day as to prolong the finished product, giving them something toward which to look forward.

The feeling of control is the sense that I am the master of something in my life.  The problem becomes when we try to control parts of life that are out of control.  Realistically, you can only control 3 things:

  1. Your thoughts,
  2. What you hold as images in your mind,
  3. Your reactions to events in and around you.

Notice that ‘emotions’ are not on that list.  You cannot control your emotions, but you can control how you handle the emotions that pop up.

Hope this helps!

What do you think? Comment below



The Secret to a Happy Life

lggEveryone’s looking for that one secret or plan for a fulfilling life. Just do an Amazon book search on the word ‘purpose’ and the results land in the millions.  Walk through a Google search on the word ‘happiness’ and the outcome is infinite.

So is there a formula for feeling fulfilled and successful in life?

The more I study, observe, think and pray, the more I see that the answer is yes.  Yes you can be happy.  Yes you can feel fulfilled.  Yes you can rest well at night, knowing your day had meaning if you can formulate your life’s activities around what I believe is a God-given daily formula I simply call Learn-Grow-Give.

2007-04-waterThere are two large bodies of water in the middle east.  The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.  One is beautiful and full of life.  The other is desolate and stagnant.  They are connected by the Jordan River.  The Sea of Galilee is a luxurious vacation spot for many.  The Dead Sea is a day trip for those who are curious.  Here’s why.

The Sea of Galilee is fed partly by an underground spring, partly by the Jordan River and partly by waters flowing from the surrounding hills.  Teams of fish and plant life make it their home.  This sea empties down the Jordan into the Dead Sea.  The Dead Sea is what its name indicates – dead.  Because of it’s high salt content, nothing lives in it.  Why?  This sea has no exit point.  The water simply stops there, collecting minerals and debris carried into it by the Jordan.  The disparity of these two water-bodies illustrates the Learn-Grow-Give principle of life.

To be happy and healthy, you should always have new resources (incoming water or learning), always process and apply what those resources provide (life-activity or growing), and always be seeking opportunities to contribute back into other people (water flowing out or giving).

Learn:  I was at a meeting in which there was a post-retirement aged leader.  He had put in his time and had been successful leading his organization.  I thought he was at the meeting simply because of the camaraderie of his colleagues but as soon as the presenter started, he pulled out a yellow legal pad and began taking notes.  He was in learning mode!  No matter what stage of life you’re in, leaders are learners.  What have you read or investigated lately?  How are you going to intentionally learn new concepts and ideas?  Are you in learning mode?

Grow:  As a kid, we used to buy these plants called “Resurrection Plants.”  I don’t know what species they are but they can be dried up for 50 years or more and yet when you put them in water, they spring to life. They use the water to replenish their green leaves and unfold into a beautiful desktop foliage.  When you have intake (Learning), you then choose to grown from it and spring to life.  Whatever you’re observing or learning, ask yourself what lessons can you learn.  Process how this can be important or helpful.  Figure out ways to apply what you’ve learned to make life better for you and others around you.  What have you learned recently that has helped you?  How can you grow from your experiences, learnings and observations?

Give:  The human body was design around the Learn-Grow-Give model.  When you eat and drink, you are taking in new items into your body (Learn).  Then your body process the food and water to supply what your body needs to grow and/or be healthy (Grow).  But if there is not exiting of the food and water, toxins build up and you become sick very quickly.  (Remember the Dead Sea).  Your life, like your body, needs to have a giving strategy for a health.  Where are you serving in your church, community or workplace?  Into whom are you pouring your wisdom, experience and life?

How has this been helpful?  Comment below.



And Then We Will See True Love

true love.001

“Love is like an avalanche where you have to run for your life.” — John, age 9

“I think you’re supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be so painful.” — Manuel, age 8

“Once I’m done with kindergarten, I’m going to find me a wife.” — Tom, age 5

“I’m not rushing into being in love. I’m finding fourth grade hard enough.” — Regina, age 10

“Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me.” — Dave, age 8

Ah yes. From out of the mouths of the innocent. While we chuckle with these young ones’ naiveté, I would venture to guess that many of us have some interesting ideas as to what love is. Some believe that we ‘feel’ love. Others mark love with it’s benefits. Still others find it necessary to only be a receiver of love and not a giver.

Many are the broken hearts of those who fell for the slick-lipped romances of a one-time affair. The pieces of love-shattered relationships could strew a highway to our lunar neighbor. The human experience is dipped in the bitter-sweet chocolate of wanting but not finding love.

However, love is, as Leo Buscaglia put it, “always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.”

In truth, Love is shown by an unwarranted act of sacrifice, an act so outside of the self as to even seem foreign. A truly loving act places one almost as a spectator rather than it’s mate. It’s better that way. If not, the giver of love would expect something in return which renders the initial act of love, not-love.

Another truth. Imperfect love is the best we can offer each other. Mere humans are we, desirous of love yet seeking it in the imperfect others.

Yet, there is a pure-love hope.  There is a perfect experience of a self-less sacrifice.

God to humanity. Forgiving that which no one else can forgive. Killing love so that we can receive it. Sacrificing himself so that humanity can, for now, live in the reflection of true love. That is the love we will someday fully experience. That is the love we now but glimpse.  Someday, we will walk in it and breath in it and live in it. And then, we will see it. True love.