Worry and Peace; Dark and Light – Todd Stocker.com

star_wars_peace_worry.001It wells up inside of you like water on the shy side of boiling.  You know the signs of it and feel its power.  It goes by many names but often, you know it as ‘Worry’.  Worry is the response to a life lived thin.  Worry is the rumble of a person in chaos.  Worry, by definition, grabs our throats and shakes — like a wild animal on its prey and many of us allow it free reign in the kingdom of our emotions, taking prisoners and hold you for ransom.

Enter the victor.  It comes in like a pin-pricked light, cutting through the deep, black fabric of dark.  It doesn’t take much to conquer the worry-beast.  Its name is ‘Peace’. 

Peace isn’t a goal but a weapon.  Peace battles epically with Worry in the heart of mankind because it is for peace that God sent Jesus.  He uses it to call people to something good and better and lovely.  He delivers it on the eve of breakdown and he beckons us to let it rule in our hearts.

In the end, Peace wins because Jesus wins.  In the end, Peace draws its lighted saber and delivers the death blow to Worry and calmly brings you to eternity.  Forever in light.  Forever in love.  Forever in the peace of Jesus.

“Light has come into the world … and the darkness has not overcome it.” ~ John 1+3

Peace!

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023: 5 Tips On Handling Your Family During The Holidays – Todd Stocker.com

weird familyFor most, the holidays are wonderful times of celebrations with friends and family. But what if your family celebrations are filled with tension? I offer 5 tips on handling those stressful times.


On This Podcast:

This time of year can be wonderful.  All of the events and celebrations with family should make us happy.  But a recent survey said 24% of people are dreading seeing relatives during the holidays.  That’s 76million people!

What if there was a way  — this Christmas — that instead of dreading seeing crazy Uncle Ralph or that obnoxious cousin, that you felt good about getting together with them.

There is a solution!  It comes from the Bible.

Romans 12:15-18.  “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people.

And this is the key verse:  “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone.”

At the end of the day, have you done everything YOU can to be at peace with those family members?

How to do that?

  1. Ahead of time, think through the patterns.  When you’re with that person, what starts the conversation going down the wrong path?  What sets you off?  If you think through ahead of time, you’ll be prepared to avoid – politics, religion whatever. They might not respond positively, but remember “as far as it depends on YOU.”
  2. “Kill them with encouragements.”  Or compliments.  Not falsely.  You can say, “Interesting sweater.  I like your hair.  Great ham.”  Just be authentic.
  3. Ask for help from them.  Let’s say your getting gifts out of the car and you could carry all of them.  Don’t.  Go in and ask Uncle Fred for help.  When you ask someone for help, it immediately forms a kindred between the two of you.
  4. Sometimes it might mean removing yourself from the situation.
  5. Predetermine to enjoy the gathering.  This is the most powerful.  Believe ahead of time that the gathering will be enjoyable.  Speak it out loud.  Your subconscious mind will go into the family gathering believing that it will be great.  When the negative comments from your mother in law start to fly, your subconscious mind will try to reconcile the difference by 1st, reminding you of your commitment to make it a great event, then help you remember how to respond with peace.

I believe that this year’s christmas gatherings are going to be great for you because you’re the smartest podcast audience out there and you are dedicated to talking Romans serious, as far as it depends on you, be a peace with everyone!


Links:

What Decorates Your Life? – Todd Stocker.com

Christmas DecorationsIt’s early in the morning and my view is an elegant one.  Our simple Christmas tree, with small white lights and history-telling ornaments, stands in its ‘once-a-year’ place in front of our living room window.  Presents have begun to appear underneath its green branches and transparent red ribbons stream from Star to stump.

Decorations are part of why I love Christmas.  They change my environment and freshen my ordinary spaces.  They call me to seasons and renew my interests in things that have passed and things that will be.  If alive, they’d be proud because they know that even the smallest, simplest ones create and even smaller and simpler joy within me.  But that’s all I need because joy isn’t measure in its abundance.  It is valued simply in its presence [tweet that].

I wonder if I give that same kind of joy to others who see me? What decorates my life?  Are my words lovely ornaments through which others are encouraged?  Do my actions stream into peoples’ lives so that they know they are loved?  Are the presents that I hold to give ones of laughter, of happiness and of love? 

In a lowly backroom of an overcrowded guest-house — the place where animals lived during the winter months — God decorated the world with hope.  He offered the world sanity in the midst of  instability and light in the middle of chaos.  Jesus, the child promised, decorates my life in peace.  And like joy, changes everything, simply because of his presence. 

Peace!

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022: One Secret To Being Popular – Todd Stocker.com

sunrisesunset.001

You’re not in high school anymore, but being a popular person — at work, home and with friends — can significantly change your life and more importantly, the lives of those around you. Today, I talk about being a sunrise person over and above being a sunset person.


Podcast Show Notes:

If you’ve listened to the podcast, you know that my personal mission statement is:

TODD’S PERSONAL MISSION is to honor God by adding value and leadership to the lives of people around me. Through creative communication and innovative resourcing, I will help facilitate positive life change in my personal relationships and throughout the world.”

My goal in every conversation in every interaction with people is that I add value to their lives, even difficult conversations, I want to be the guy whom with you can disagree, but still say, “I like that guy”  That’s how I define popular.  Not the high school way in that your the prettiest or best or you have a bunch of fake friends.  Rather, being genuine.  You may not like my ideas but we still have a relationship together.

So my son and I had a conversation about a book by John Hunt in which he describes two types of people and I think it is the secret to people being drawn to you.

  • A Sunset Person, takes an idea and sucks the life out of it with negativity.
  • A Sunrise Person, takes and idea and adds life to it, making it better.

You want to be a sunrise person.

Here’s how to develop at being a sunrise person:

  1. Determine which one are you.  Listen to how you talk.  Do you find 10 wrongs things with every 1 right one.  “He can find the cloud behind every silver lining.”
  2. Every morning, make a choice to be a sunrise person.  You know many of the personal development folks — Christian and not — say that if you speak something out loud, your subconscious mind takes it in, whether negatively or positively, and it begins to change your physiology, your emotions and your attitude.
  3. Snap out of your sunset! This is one I’ve never done but in his book ‘Cash in a Flash’,  Mark Victor Hansen suggests that each time you find your self as a sunset person, wear a rubber band and snap it.
  4. Guard what you think about.   lots of horrible things in the world right now.  what are good things for which you can be grateful?  episode 020 talked about the power of thanksgiving. Even the bible says,  Philippians 4:8:

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

I’m convinced that choosing this attitude — to be a sunrise person — will benefit you and other in so many ways!  People will want to do business with you over and over again.  people will want you input and you will add good value into a world filled with sunset people.

Resources Mentioned In The Podcast:

The Most Powerful Words From San Bernardino – Todd Stocker.com

san bernardino officer.001Glued to my news sources, I — like you — have poured over the events that unfolded this week in San Bernardino.  Gunmen enter and shoot.  People duck and run. Police chase.  Shoot out. Death and ‘carnage’. Sad — just very sad.

Of all the photos and videos recalling the events, there was one that keeps playing in my mind.  Taken from a cell phone, it shows an officer leading a group through the building, away from danger.  The quote on the video, by the officer is brief.  Seventeen words in all — forgive the vernacular.

“Try to relax, try to relax. I’ll take a bullet before you do, that’s for damn sure.”

Simply watching the screen from 2000 plus miles away, even I was comforted by his statement.  Knowing that someone was between me and danger brings relief to my soul. Knowing that if a corner was turned and I stared death in the face that there was someone who would take the hit, gives me peace and makes me relax.

These words could have been spoken by Jesus.  Reflectively, I guess they were.  “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” The shot rang out.  Then another. “Father why have you forsaken me? Why have you me into the line of fire against people who don’t love you, people who don’t trust you, people who don’t even know who you really are.” Truthfully, it was Jesus’ choice. 

He leads us, out of harms way — out of deaths doors —  into the sun — into freedom. 

I hope this connection isn’t crass.  I pray that you don’t think I’m spiritualizing something that is tragic.  But that’s the nature of humanity.  Everything is spiritual, even words spoken in an intense moment in San Bernardino. 

Peace!

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Here’s the video

The Best Presents are ‘Presence’ – Todd Stocker.com

GwenFinkeNathanMaddieWhen I walked into her room, she was fidgety yet dressed nicely and sitting in her wheelchair, facing the window.

“Gwen, its Todd,” I said, walking slowly toward her until her mind could click into recognizing my face. Gwen is a former neighbor who has no connected family and is under our care as power of attorney. A school teacher of more than forty years, she long past ‘adopted’ my kids as hers and would dote on them as best she could.

I knew this visit was going to special. The holiday present I was just about to give would add years to her life and make her light up like the star on top of the Christmas tree.

I repeated, “Gwen, its Todd” and she responded, “Oh, hi.”

“I brought a present for you that I think you’re going to like,” I said. Then I turned back and opened her door wider revealing my son, Nathan and my daughter, Maddie.  In unison, they lovingly said, “Hi Grandma!”

Again, Gwen just stared at them not knowing who they were. It had been quite a while — too long, in fact — that they had been able to visit.

“Its Nathan and Maddie,” I helped.

Then the light went on, the smile exploded and her heart filled with joy — real joy. They knelt down and hugged her and she couldn’t stop chatting. She commented on Nathan’s “longer-than-a-girl” hair and how beautiful Maddie had become. She asked mountains of questions about Nathan’s band and Maddie’s college and then asked them the same questions again — and then a third time. My kids obliged and were amazing.

It was a brief visit — maybe twenty minutes at the most — but my kids’ presence was the greatest present I could’ve given.

Thats the thing about presents. The best ones aren’t purchased at Walmart on Black Friday. They aren’t exchanged at the office white elephant party or enjoyed eaten and paired with a fine red wine. The best present is simply to be present (tweet that). Having a personal connection with people you love and simply being there reflects the heart of our Creator. This time of year, we celebrate him stepping into our room and promising his presence through his Spirit.

As we left her room, she kept saying, “You don’t know how happy I feel! This was so special! I love you so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I don’t know if they’ll see Gwen again — this side of heaven. The likelihood is possible. But whatever the case, I learned in those few moment that the best presents are the times when you and I can deepen relationships, enjoy company and reflect the heart of God.

Peace and Happy Thanksgiving!

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020: Why Thanksgiving Can Change Your Life – Todd Stocker.com

Attitude-Of-Gratitude2Thanksgiving can change your life.  It isn’t just about the physical benefits of the food, but about the radical life-changing attitude of gratitude.  How does thanksgiving change your life?  You’ll find out in this episode.


Show Notes:

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  Maybe because it involves my five favorite “f’s”:  Family, Friends, Faith, Football and FOOD! Hopefully, it’s because you are truly thankful.  For what are you thankful?

Tracey Steivang (see podcast 005), says that gratitude is the strongest emotion even over and above love, sadness or even, fear.

Benefits:  Gratitude may also serve to reinforce future prosocial behavior in benefactors. For example, one experiment found that customers of a jewelry store who were called and thanked showed a subsequent 70% increase in purchases. In comparison, customers who were called and told about a sale showed only a 30% increase in purchases, and customers who were not called at all did not show an increase. In another study, regular patrons of a restaurant gave bigger tips when servers wrote “Thank you” on their checks.

One Biggest result –
The overall positive attitude of well-being.  If you cultivate a thankful attitude, your perspective on life changes from loss to gain, from scarcity to abundance, from desperation to joy!

There is so much to be thankful for.  If you’re a religious person, the biggest thanks you can give is thanking God for the life you have in Jesus.  John 10:10…  “I’ve come to give you a full life,” Jesus says.


Links:

 

How Do You Handle The Busy Flurry? – Todd Stocker.com

Busy-retail-ChristmasHow do you handle the busy flurry?

There’s a flurry a’comin and I’m not talking snow.  It’s called the Christmas/Holiday season.  The starting line is usually Thanksgiving with a finish the first of the year.  It seems this is the time when expectations trump priorities and chaos takes the controls. 

Some of the flurry is fun.  For me, Black Friday is fun.  Not that I drop a boat load of cash on the deeply discounted items.  But my joy is going to a mall and watching others surge with the crowds like dull-eyed fish washing up and down with the tides. 

I also like the busyness of it all.  I gives me focus.  It forces my lazy hand.  It beckons me to be prepared and allows me the opportunity to be better than last flurry-season.

How do you handle the busy flurry?  

  • I’d suggest having a game plan as you enter into this next season.   Part of that plan might be to first, get your priorities straight.  Priorities help you say no more often than yes.  They keep you sane and focused and help you make decisions based on goals. 
  • Another part of that plan is to ask what you really want out of the season.  Is ‘crazy exhaustion’ what you desire or a ‘fulfilled joy’ as you celebrate faith, family and friends?
  • A third way to handle the busy flurry is to set your day at the beginning of your day.  The first hour of your day often determines your attitude, mindset and emotion as you get out there and battle one more time.  It is often called “The Rudder of The Day” and sets you on your course.

Above all, know that you are a human being, not a human doing.  Your value is not reflective in the expense of your store-bought presents or the busyness surrounding their procurement.  Your worth is found in who you are as a masterful creation of the heavenly Artist, himself.  You are valuable because he is valuable and is the reason for the celebrations in the first place. 

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus”  Ephesians 2:10

Peace!

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019: Why Its Important To Laugh – Todd Stocker.com

a good laughToo many people take life too seriously. No matter what your situation, a good laugh can create a positive attitude which can change your life. Here’s how.


Show Notes:

We tend to grow out of our laughter. 

When was the last time you laughter – either a chuckle or a gut-wrenching laugh?

Benefits of laughter:

  • A hearty, gut-busting laugh can engage all 43 of your facial muscles (not to mention the gut you just busted)
  • Releases endorphins and other “happy chemicals”
  • Changes your attitude – general sense of well-being.
  • Positive effect on other people, when done at an appropriate time.
    • Not good when your in a meeting where the subject matter might be intense.  If you’re in contract negotiations, light humor might suffice. 
  • Laughter breaks down relational barriers
  • Sometimes you have to find ways to laugh.

Look for things that are funny.

On those dark days, where you’re just not feeling humorous,  even a fake laugh can afford you some of the benefits… it can actually even turn into a real laugh.

Try a little laughter.

Quote:  “The nicest thing about a laugh is that so much of you has a good time” Marsha Perlman

“A cheerful heart is good medicine” Proverbs 17:22

Links:

 

 

This Beautifully Messy Life – Todd Stocker.com

messy life.001I’ve seen a lot.  Some of what I’ve seen you wouldn’t want to see.  Some of what I’ve experienced in other people’s lives, you’ve experienced as well.

Working in a ministry setting affords you a backstage pass to other people’s stories in a way that is deep and ugly and rich. 

Most recently, a miscarriage of a little girl just 16 weeks along.  Parents crushed.  Family devastated.  Before that, the dissolution of a once thriving marriage and before that, the ugly politics in a workplace that resulted in a nasty pink-slip firing with precious few opportunities for re-employment.

It is a messy life.

Yet in that mess (which can sometimes look like the table top of a 2 year old’s dinnertime) is where God is.  In the messy anger, grief and shame is where God shows up.  Where we see chaos and confusion, he points out opportunity and hope.  Where we feel empty and sad, he shouts  “potential and joy!”

He makes all things — even the messes — new.  He takes brokenness and turns it into art (click for a related post). 

Because of that, the messes of life become beautiful.  The ugly becomes gorgeous and the dim becomes radiant.  He does new things in you through this beautifully messy life. 

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Peace!

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018: Your Purpose In Life – Discovering Why You’re On Earth – Todd Stocker.com

Finding My Purpose In LifeAt some point in our lives, most of us ask the question, “Why am I here?”  While God has the ultimate purpose for you to be in a relationship with him, how can you discover your purpose in life while here on earth?  


Show Notes:

Have you ever asked that question? The question itself comes from something inside of you, meaning, you didn’t just arbitrary start thinking, “Why am I here?  What’s my purpose?”

3 places from it comes from…

  1. Your human desire to be with or at least know your creator.
  2. Your natural, human curiosity.
  3. Your feeling of being stuck or unfulfilled in your life.

Here’s how to get an idea of what your purpose might be.  Ask three key questions:

  1. What are you passionate about?  If you were to wake up tomorrow and it were retirement, what would you find yourself doing?
  2. What are you good at?  Take some time, maybe write it down.  “I’m good at painting.  I’m good at teaching difficult ideas to other people.  If you’re struggling, ask yourself, “what have others said I’m good at?”
  3. How can these two help other people.  This is where you will find real fulfillment and joy.  Adding value to others is a secret sauce to a happy and productive life.  A secondary part to this as it applies to your work, job or career  is how can I help others in a manner that they will pay me for it.  That’s not self seeking.  It is simply a value trade.  You add value and as a result someone rewards you for the value you add.

Obviously, this is only a simple framework for a life long question.  You should go back to this question over and over to keep clarifying what you’re passionate about, what you find and others would say you’re good at, and how you can use your passion and skills to add value to others in a manner that might result in being paid for that value. 


Links:

The Great Measure Of A Man – Todd Stocker.com

measure of a manI went to a funeral this week of a wonderful man who fell asleep at 90 years old.  This man was a pillar, literally.  Towering over most of us for most of his life, his stature was second only to his towering love for people.  Kent was all about relationships and would lay down his activities to dig into yours.   He would take his massive hands, envelop yours, look you straight in the eye (down into yours, actually) and ask, “How’s your life going?”

I met him when I first started working in a church.  We had coffee occasionally and talked about leadership, faith, organizational integrity and many other subjects.  Thinking back, I am realizing that while the conversations seemed random — topic du jour, if you will — Kent had an agenda; to make me better.  He did that to everyone, come to find out.

Making others better is a core value of a great life.  Pouring into others on whatever level the relationship allows is the spark plug in the engine of excellence.  Too often we focus solely on our needs and want — appropriate for living, actually.  Yet, we look down and in rather than up and out.  Slowly, we become unaware of the presence of others or unaccustomed to conversing with them.  Some call it the “Wall-E Bubble” syndrome.  (If you haven’t seen the animated movie than forget that last reference).

I learned from Kent and the hundreds of people who celebrated his life that day.  The great measure of a man is not in the size of his boots or the depth of his wallet.  It is in the lives upon which he has a positive impression [tweet that].  That’s the Jesus-way and I, for one, am grateful to have know him.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Peace!

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017: How To Be Successful Parents At Every Level – Todd Stocker.com

successful parent.001Your parents and my parents did some things great in raising us. Other things may have scarred us for life. How do you become successful parents as your children mature through the four stages of childhood?


Show Notes:

One of the struggles of parenting — especially if you have more than one child — is that you can parent them basically the same in the earlier years.

Even though we always wear the moniker ‘Parent,’  how that title plays out needs to change as our children develop from birth through school and on into the world.  I talk to many parents whose biggest struggle with raising their kids centers on their inability to transition from stage to stage.   Like it or not, children grow up.  So understanding our role as parent’ from stage to stage is critical in the healthy emotional development of our children.

Here are the four stages through which parents must transition.  The educational ages stated here are obviously a generalization but they can provide a guide for you as you learn to grow through each wonderful stage:

“The Nurturer”:  Birth through pre-school.  At this stage, we are the main source of everything for our child.  Their basics of survival completely depend on our ability to nurture and provide for their every need.  Parents make decisions for them you are their brain.

“The Parent”:  1st – 6th grades:  This stage is called the “Classic Parenting” stage.  We begin to help them learn the basics of being a developing child; enrolling and guiding them through their first real educational experiences and teaching them what it means to be a human being.  At this point, we are truly neck deep in action of parenting – having main control over their daily lives.  But as they progress through these stages, you have to begin transferring ownership of their life from you to them.

“The Coach”:  7th – 10th grades:  The greatest holistic changes happen during these years  in our child and as such, so does our role.  We now need to begin transitioning  from having main control over their lives – as in “The Parent” stage – to allow them to make some of their own choices, fail and learn.  We “Coach” them by helping them think through the consequences of their actions and providing clear and age appropriate expectations of their behavior.  The tactics of this stage actually start earlier, but this is when you really need to let them fail and learn.

  • Questions for them:  “I think this is the best but what do you think?  Does that sound good to you?”
“The Mentor”:  11th – 12th grades and beyond:  Assuming that your young man or woman will be leaving the nest after this stage,  this is a wonderful experience of being a resource for their decision making and a mirror to share our own personal experiences of success and failure.  Our job is to continue to prepare them for the world ‘out there’.
  • Questions for them:  “Wow that’s a good question (or situation or predicament).  What do you think you should do?”

Very Important:  When do you suppose are the most troubling times for parents and kids?  In the transitions.

Who has the most struggle generally between men and women?  Generally women.  Studies show women are more apt to want to keep children safe.

Being a parent is a heavy responsibility.  It is not static. It is not a one-size-fits-all.  But if you are willing and able to transition as your child grows, the job of parenting can be a wonderful and fulfilling adventure.

Links:

Addressing Your ‘What if’ Fear – Todd Stocker.com


Baltimore Abandoned House_2_905Every neighborhood has ‘that house’. You know the one.  The dwellers seem to be a bit strange and the property is unkempt.  There may be obvious maintenance needs with city citations piling up inside their ‘overstuffed with junk-mail’ mailbox.  The rest of the neighbors talk and shake their heads and the kids make up ghost stories on Halloween about dead bodies in the basement. 

I lived by such a house in North Dakota.  This one was tenant-less.  Shutters hung tilted and one could get lost in the weeds and shrubs that ran wild like a bad hair day.  In my mind, I see bats flying in and out of the windows night and day, although that most likely wasn’t the case. 

My neighborhood friends and I ignored the house — frankly, because there was so much more to do in the park across from my home.  But on the occasions when we would walk down the street toward the local Dolly Madison bakery, we would walk on the opposite side of the street from the house.  None of us mentioned why, even though — inside — we knew. 

FEAR …

Kid fear is different from adult fear.  Kid fear makes up monsters and beings and little gremlins that chase you down a dark street. 

Adult fear is much worse.  It drives us, stops us, defeats us and demolishes us.  It weeds its way into the emotional framework of our dreams and tells us that we are not good enough, strong enough or worthy enough.  It dusts off the file of past failures and asks us to consider the ‘what ifs’ of life.  What if something horrible will happen? What if I get hurt?  What if I try that relationship again and it fails?  What if…?

Life is full of these.  You may be feeling the ‘what if fear’ right now.  And it is at the intersection of your fear and longing for fullness that Jesus steps in. 

Throughout the Bible and specifically in the Gospels, Jesus meets you in the ‘what if fear’.  From the moment of his birth, humanity joined angels in declaring that fear is squelched by hope and doubt is relieved by love.  John 14 recalls Jesus meeting you in your trial and trouble and struggle as he tells you “In this world, you’re going to bounce along the bottom and hit the walls of hardship and fear.  Yet I have overcome all of the consequences of your past failures and the guilt of your sin.  I have entered into your story with a forever love and presence that gives you, shows you and tells you that it’s going to be okay”  (my paraphrase).

It is, you know.  Your ‘what if fear’ will be okay.  You are loved.  You are forgiven and there is no fear in Jesus. 

(study Romans 8:35-39)

Click here for a post on Halloween.

Peace!

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