There are so many ways to define success and I think it can be different for everyone.

For me, success would be that one day someone would ask our children what the best thing their Father ever did for them was and I hope they would say something like this: “He led me to Jesus and he loved my mother relentlessly, passionately, and unconditionally.”

If I do anything in life, I hope that is the legacy I leave. And further, that they would lead their children to Jesus and love their wives in the same way they hopefully see me love their mother.

For me, that would be success.

What’s your definition of success?

Mountains & Valleys

Life can be so full of challenges and victories — valleys and mountains. When in the valley, it’s easy to be discouraged and think the mountain top is so far away. Equally as bad, when you’re on the mountain top it’s easy to be so scared about the valleys ahead, that you forget to enjoy the high.

I’m guilty of both, but I’m learning this… when on the mountain tops, take time to breath in the clear air, refresh, strengthen, and be thankfulknow that there may be valleys ahead, but don’t be fearful of them.

When in the valleys, remember to look up and see the mountain top ahead. Even when it’s far away, keep moving toward it, one step at a time. Don’t wallow in the disappear. Be reminded:

Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil, for God is with you. (Psalm 23:4)

Learn from the mountains and the valleys. They are each uniquely apart of our brief journey on this earth and both have value.

Lost in Reality

Wake up, brush teeth, get a shower, get dressed, make breakfast, pray, eat, work/school, sports, tv, more work, sleep — repeat. “Round and round we go, where we stop, no body knows.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the cycle of every day life. So much stuff to do, so that we can buy more stuff, and do more stuff.

Every now and then, something really sticks with me. This past Sunday, our pastor said “there is one thing for certain, 100% of us will die one day, no one is getting out of here alive.” It’s an obvious statement but maybe not something we think about enough.

It is so easy to spend so much time worrying about things that have no real value but in the moment can seem monumental.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is this:

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek firstthe kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

– Matthew 6:25-34

We are on this earth for a limited time, the blink of an eye in the span of eternity, but why? Is it simply to accumulate stuff, worry about how we can get more stuff and not lose the stuff we have? Or could it be to glorify God and bring him praise?

Some say there is no God, but no one argues that we won’t make it out of this place alive. Do we just turn to dust or is the heaven (and hell) of the Bible real? I believe it is and need to be reminded regularly not to get too caught up in this life (both joys and sorrows).

Life is busy and it’s easy to get lost in reality. Maybe we all need to take a deep breath, step back, and ask God to show us a little more of his perfect plan.

Life is like a game of Scrabble.

I was flying home from Milwaukee with my wife, Claire, and we were playing Scrabble on the iPad (very fun by the way). As I struggled to keep up with her words and complained about the letters I had in my tile rack, it struck me, life is like a game of scrabble.

You see, we all get different tiles. Sometimes all vowels, sometimes all consonants, sometimes the awkward Z or Q that you can’t find a place for, sometimes there seems to be no place on the board to squeeze in a word. Sometimes you draw a F when you need an A and rarely do all of the pieces line up for a perfect score.

The difference in successful people, in Scrabble and in life, is not what tiles they get, but how they play them. It is true that some hands are easier than others, but every hand has opportunities, it’s just a matter of looking hard enough, being patient enough, and being prepared to take advantage of those opportunities.

It’s been said before in other ways, but the illustration is no less true. The moral of this story is simple: let’s all stop complaining about the tiles we have and start looking for opportunities to score more points.

The Truth about Competition

It is often said that it’s not about winning or losing but the way you play the game. That is true. What is true about it is that the way you play the game often determines if you win or lose.

Our culture is becoming more and more focused on a lack of competition. Parents are told that their children are too young to compete and it will scare them psychologically or something. Schools are discouraged from highlighting overachievers in academics because they don’t want to make anyone else feel bad. Competitive events feel the need to give all participants a medal or trophy so that “everyone is a winner.” When this happens, it does not make everyone a winner. it does make everyone appear the same, but those that put in extra effort are not rewarded for it. As a result, we discourage that high level of work. There must be something to reach for, or we will often stop reaching —it is our nature.

Reality is that life is often a competition. We compete for the a place on a sports team, for a place in college, for a spouse, for a job, and the list goes on.

I am not saying that you must win all the time to be happy. What I am saying is that we should PREPARE to the highest level of our ability — all the time. This preparation that is often lacking. Practice may not make you perfect, but if you practice well, you probably won’t suck.

Today was my four year olds first soccer game. His team lost by about 30 points. Why? The other team was better prepared. They had been trained, coached, and were ready with a plan. Hayden’s team does little at practice and they did little at the game. I heard from someone at the game, “well, they are just 4 and 5 year olds, what can you expect.” The other team was just 4 and 5 year olds and they clearly had the capacity to be trained in the basics of the sport.

For some reason, we are so quick to make excuses for our children and ourselves. Children DO HAVE the capacity to be trained, at anything. It can still be fun – and it should be, but there must be a plan to improve week by week, year by year.

Needless to say, Hayden and I are going to be spending a lot more time with the soccer ball in the yard. I am not the teams coach, but I can work with him individually so he can improve. I want to teach him that with hard work pays off.

Hard work is fun because it often yields great fruit. We will reap what we sow, in the little things and the big.