Just say, “NO”. 

How many times have you taken a day off and said, “today is my day”. And then you pick up your phone…. And the day is no longer yours. In order to have time to give away, you need to make time to get away. 
We live in a world of busyness. REST is just missing a few letters to read as STRESSED. We add too much to rest and then it becomes stress. Stress is DEADLY. Many evidenced based studies show the negative impact of stress on our life. Rest is the easiest cure yet we never get enough. 

We need rest. Sometimes when we get away from everything we take a vacation and we take our friends with us. This is not getting away from everything. This is taking your life with you and you are not truly getting away from it all. There is a difference between traveling and vacation. 

So many times, we find our identity in our work. This is not who we are. The problem is that we feel as though people need us. That’s just it. People don’t need us. Everyone is replaceable. That’s life. We can give more of ourselves when we are fulfilled and recharged as opposed to just being and constantly draining ourselves. How can you be inspiring and of use to somebody if you are no different and no more passionate than before, because you never stepped away to learn more and get rid of the old and allow yourself to receive the new. 
On the 7th day of creation, God rested. How in the world do we think that we don’t need what God wanted. We need rest. Sometimes we need to simply learn to just say, “no”. …. And when you say, “no”….. Be okay with it. Otherwise the stress from your regret or saying “no” will eat you alive and ruin your rest. Set boundaries in your life. 
We live in a world that doesn’t stop. We work so much and push ourselves so hard that we are literally killing ourselves. 

You don’t have to have the answer for everyone, everytime, everywhere. Take time for YOU. 

A Lesson In Humility.

While driving to church in downtown Detroit, I was already running late. I had been up late the night before so I was really tired and need a coffee. I passed the Starbucks, I passed Tim Horton’s, and I knew there was coffee at church. Although I was running late, I really wanted a spiced mocha from Great Lakes coffee on Woodward in Detroit. As I went out of my way and through construction traffic to get there, I had this feeling of being too much of a coffee elitist this morning. I kept telling myself, “why are you going out of your way to be late to church just to get a fancy coffee?” I justified in saying that it’s been a while since I’ve been to this coffee shop and I really wanted one. Although coffee is offered at church and I would’ve been perfectly fine with that I stuck with my guns and I went to get this latte. I passed many homeless people who were happy to just get any hot beverage this 25 degree morning. The thought of spending six dollars on this 8oz latte with such poverty around me didn’t phase me today, because I kept thinking, I buy dinner for homeless people all the time and I always give back -so today I’m gonna take care of me……..

When I got to church I walked in late and I sat in the back. I set my fancy latte down on the ledge in front of my chair. I took off my coat and I was excited to finally sit and drink my latte!! … Before I could go reach for it, three girls that walked in behind me walked past to find a seat and as they walked past one of the girls purses knocked over by a drink without even realizing it. It spilled all over the floor in front of the seats. I was dumbfounded. Part of me said, “did this really happen?” My friend sitting next to me busted out laughing. That’s all I could do at this point.. We just laughed. When I went to stand up to clean it up and go get napkins she put her hand on my leg and said “I got this.” Mind you, she is in a walking boot with a cast and is supposed to be staying off her feet. But she stepped over the railing went out to get napkins. She came back to the auditorium and cleaned it up so that I didn’t have to. That was quite the lesson for me in many ways. That servant style leadership shown is something to be admired. I took a few things from that today: 1- if your conscience is making you feel a certain way, listen to it because what’s going to happen is going to happen and we don’t always understand why. 2-The perspective of the girl who knocked over my coffee and had no idea, we don’t understand how little things in our life affects those around us. We go on about our day not knowing who we even affected negative or positive. It’s crucial to remember in life with everything you do. 3-there is no use crying over spilled milk, or coffee.

Friends vs. Acquaintances

A bomb just went off and all the banks have been destroyed. Money is no longer an element in society. Anarchy is taking over. It is now, every man for himself. Homes are being broken into and innocent people are getting murdered. Supplies are limited. Who are the people in your “circle” that you would stand next to in that scenario? Who would have your back and share their supplies with you until your time ran out? Who would you want to spend the last week of your life with if you knew there was an impending air raid? Who are your “friends”? Who can you trust? Who do you invest your time in, and why?

There is a difference between friends and acquaintances ( people you have met along the way) people who invest in you and build you up as a person are friends. People who you say “hi” to at social functions and have as a Facebook friend don’t necessarily count. Who is investing in you as a person and your future. Who can you go to when your car breaks down at 3 am…who do you value as a person? Who will bail you out of jail when you get a DUI and wont tell anybody else about it and wont treat you differently? These are things I think about when I decide who I am going to put time and effort into.

We put so much time, emotion and emphasis on the relationships we have in life. That is good- community is key to survival. In life, one of the biggest hurts we face is the loss of a person close to us. We lose people daily in many ways. Some die and some move away whereas some are romantic relationships that ended and others are friendships that grew apart. Either way- it is a loss. It is important to validate that each loss causes pain. With every goodbye, you learn.

The key point is that each person you come across in life is for a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is to get us through a hard time in life when we didn’t think we had anybody. A person will come out of nowhere to be “your person” through that trial. In time, that person may fade out of your life yet sometimes they stay. Sometimes we enter into romantic relationships that don’t last. We have to go into relationships knowing that each relationship you enter into will either end in a breakup, or you will end up together. That is part of the process. Each person that you meet may not be the one you end up with- however, they were there for a purpose. Yet each breakup we face we are devastated- why?

When romantic relationships end, we tend to get lost in aloneness and lose self worth thinking that we will be single forever because we lost the one that we wanted to be with. If you ended the relationship then you made the right choice- it wouldn’t have been an option in your mind if it wasn’t the right decision. If that person left you it is important to remember that there is no use wasting your emotions on somebody that LEFT YOU. What you do with yourself and your future no longer includes them. It is hard to face that but it is true. You WILL miss them. That is also part of the process, but remember that you weren’t the one who gave up. When the relationship is right, that person wont just walk away. If it is TRUE LOVE then they will love you unconditionally and work through ANYTHING. When you experience a broken heart think of it as a blessing from God. It is your reminder that He saved you from the wrong one. You dodged a bullet, so to speak. Nonetheless, it will still be painful and it takes time to make peace with that.

When your friend circle dissipates and you start to feel alone, it is natural to feel lonely. Your best friends may enter relationships and start investing their time in a significant other rather than you. That is hard to accept and it is easy to resent their new love. However, if the roles were reversed you would do the same. It is a natural part of the process. Some of your friends may get married and start having kids. It is fun to see the baby here and there, but eventually you realize that you as a single person don’t fit in with the married people and their babies. You just don’t. Not yet. That is hard to accept as well. The key here is to accept that as normal. It’s the cycle of life. Singleness is NOT a bad thing. It is fun and exciting and it is typically only for a time period. Don’t waste that season of singleness in misery worried about who is the right one. If you don’t remove yourself from that previous scenario of your previous friend circle and create a new one then you will get depressed. We all do.

We have to realize that our community of friends is ever-changing. People will come and go from our lives at different points in time. We need to be open to making new friends and entering into new circles in order to avoid getting lost in aloneness. Holding on to the past of how things “used to be” is delusional thinking. Move forwards not backwards. Things will NEVER be the same…that doesn’t mean that is bad- It will just look different. People will be in your life for a specific reason….or they may just be there to help you through a season….and sometimes, JUST sometimes, people stay in your life until the end. Those people are rare and those relationships should be cherished. It is important to note that a relationship takes two people. That means each party needs to invest time and effort into it.

If you come to a point where you are investing a lot of effort into people and you are not getting the same return as you used to, that may be the point where you have to stop and realize it may be time to let go and move on. You only have two hands. Holding on to two hands that don’t want to hold yours back will take up your energy and your hands. Free yourself up for people who WANT to put the effort back into you. Stop crossing oceans for people who wont jump puddles for you. Life is short. Spend your time wisely with those who want to spend it with you. Don’t force relationships. You will be fine….just fine…..

Portugal

Portugal

The first portion of my 6 week backpacking trip began in Lisbon, Portugal. For this trip my friend Tricia and I decided to go solo with only a backpack full of items and no set plan. We will be doing couch surfing, hostels, and hotels. The benefit of hostels is that you get to meet travelers who are doing the same thing you are and you can find friends along your journey. Couch surfing is a website where travelers from all over the world take in different guests and host them at heir own home, in hopes that when they travel, others will do the same. Portugal was my 4th couch surfing experience.

Luis – Luis was our host when we arrived in Portugal. Most people said that my girlfriend and I should be weary of staying with a random man in Portugal…. Common sense also said that you should… So … Our experience went as follows- we had originally planned to land at the airport and go to his house at 8 am and leave our backpacks in his house after meeting him- our flight was delayed ( we met some cool people during the delay at the airport that were training with the Portugal Futbal team to be professional soccer players) —- our flight was delayed A few hours so by the time we left Detroit and arrived in Portugal, our couchsurfing host was already at work. When we got to the Airport he told us that we can go drop our bags off in his trunk in the parking garage in city center and we could meet him later in the day to go stay at his place. This seemed very shady for him to be a total stranger… What did we do? We dropped off our bags in the trunk. Throughout the day-we joked with each other about how crazy that situation was and hoped we met him again to get our bags. Turns out -we did! We went to his house and it was a very nice apartment with a great view. Throughout the trip he was a life saver! He gave us great suggestions on what to do and drove us around to places. It was awesome to have a personal contact in the city and somebody to look after us. He drove us around in his
Lexus convertible 🙂 let me just tell you he was VERY attractive- and such a gentleman!!! The next day we met up with the soccer players and hung out at their pool in the beach for the day.

Transportation – The train and metros were a great way to get around. The castles and gardens in Sintra, and the beaches in Estoril- they were all easy to navigate. We took buses taxis train and metros and it was all very easy to figure out. We went with NO plan whatsoever and it all worked out just fine! Be prepared to wear comfortable shoes.. We climbed to Cruz alto ( a high cross in the mountain) and I was wearing flip flops because I didn’t know we would be hiking) bad choice!

People- The people spoke a little English…In the smaller towns they didn’t seem to speak or understand any at all. There was a lot of pointing, hand gestures and smiling and head shaking to communicate. Language barriers make the trip very difficult. They sing fado music during meals at dinner. A the place we went to the waiters would stop and sing to the restaurant but they wouldn’t if people were talking… The only thing I didn’t like about that was that I wanted to have conversations with the people we were eating dinner with but we couldn’t because it was considered “rude” while the people were talking – otherwise the live local music was great.

Food- There were a lot of pastries and cream cakes. Lots of fish and sardines! The late night partying drunk food was sold by people on the street pulling around coolers full of chicken legs. The streets were all uphill-downhill cobblestone. The parties were in the street like Mardi gras. I would never want to live downtown in that city!

Drugs- Everybody will try to sell you drugs on the street

Port wine- I never drank wine before because I don’t like it. But I tried it at Luis home and I loved it. It is a new favorite of mine!

One of the funniest things that my host had said that didn’t translate well, was when he was telling us about his girlfriend. When he told us about why they broke up he said it’s because she made a “big shit”. This translated that she made a big deal out of nothing

One main thing that did not translate well is when I said that I rode a crotch rocket back at home. Here we refer to them in America as crotch rockets sometimes. Race bikes or street bikes. Not cruisers. When I said this the person’s eyes got really big and they didn’t understand how I rode a crotch rocket.

Some key things I learned from a poet I met there…

Sometimes you just have to trust people
-Love can finish ( to be in love can end)
-When you have everything it is hard to appreciate anything
-Once you achieve all of your desires, your dreams will be destroyed – don’t make your goal to have everything.

Did I mention that I love Portugal?! We met two Portuguese men on the train to Venice as well. Showed them our funny videos and pictures from when we visited. They were so nice. That was the first time that we had cute boys our age sit next to us on the train who actually spoke English!

Not All Wounds Are Visible

WHICH MISERY IS WORSE!? You tell me…..comments appreciated…

When you walk past a man in a wheelchair with a disability, the first emotion most have is sympathy. We want to help, we “feel sorry for them”.  We don’t know the story unless we stop and ask. Most times we would rather place money in the pot rather than stopping to ask their story; “Were you like this from birth, Was there an accident”? etc. 

When you walk past a child who is 9 years old acting out n public, the first thing you may think is, ” what is wrong with that child, no respect, somebody needs to put that kid in its place”.  What we don’t think of is that maybe that child is suffering just as much as the person with a disability in the wheelchair. You may have just walked past a child who has only one parent and that parent is never home. the child is left home with siblings and an uncle who repeatedly abuse, rape and torture her. She is starved, she is forced to do drugs, she is too young to understand the difference. She doesn’t have a voice to speak, and she doesn’t have a wheelchair to show her struggle.

When the man in the wheelchair grows older everybody will be there to offer assistance, there are government program to assist in everyday life and there are resources for him. BUT what about the girl who was tortured as a child? She is now grown up. She feels like she doesn’t fit into society. She has no friends, she hangs out in the wrong crowds just to get attention. She constantly blames herself for what she went through. she has no government assistance and no family support. She is ALONE. YET society looks down on her and offers her no help and looks at her as a bad example to the younger generation. The sad part is, in her brain, shnow has a mental disability she has been hurt her whole life and now is unable to trust others. She may never play sports, be active or get into a meaningful relationship not because she has a physical handicap that prevents her but because she has a mental one that does.

I have worked with special needs people and I have worked with PTSD and mental health patients. Each has a different story; One things is consistent= the struggles are different BUT the HURT is the same. the difference is the handicap such as no arms, no legs ; that is visible……the person with mental health issues from beating abused their whole life…those scars are hidden. I have talked to multiple people with physical disabilities; some had deformities from birth , some had an accident and are paralyzed, some were born without an extremity. Ont thing they all had in common when approached with this scenario was, they all agreed that they would trade an extra extremity and continue to live that way in order to save an innocent child from torture.  Nobody is better than another, nobody’s sufferings are more valid. We need to be aware that there is more to a person than the way they compose themselves. there is a story in each of us.

I portray this in my autobiography I recently published to help motivate people; Taking Back The Pen http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Back-The-Pen-Predestinated/dp/0615874436   In the book I use a PTSD war patient example. Two soldiers are blown up by the same bomb. One soldier loses a leg, the other loses half of his brain functioning. They each have a permanent disability and are unable to function. The soldier with the lost leg has an abundance of resources, the one with the brain injury is hidden and nobody sees his disability. THE STRUGGLES ARE DIFFERENT BUT THE HURT IS THE SAME. WE ALL HAVE A STORY!! 

Couchsurfing

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This past weekend was my first experience with couchsurfing. I was hesitant at first, but I LOVED it. I had such a great time! For those of you who don’t know what this is: couchsurfing is where people from all over the world who like to travel will open up their homes to travelers to stay with them and in return when those people travel to new destinations they will look up who is hosting in the city that they are traveling to and then stay with them. Through this process you gain references for your future travels…. But the best part is… You meet people from all over the world and lean about different cultures. You are able to make friends from everywhere.

This 1st experience of mine I researched the person that I stayed with in Chicago and he had a lot of references. I took a girlfriend with me so that I wasn’t alone. I played it safe!! The host we stayed with then told me that there would be a guy from Australia, a guy from Rwanda and two people from Indianapolis!!! That made me even more excited to stay there and meet people. I know that this is off the wall concept, but this is a great way to connect and meet people. It is a great community and they are all like minded individuals.

Europe- I plan to use this concept when I go backpacking through Europe in July- August. So this was a great start and I’m looking forward to more experiences such as this!!

Dream Job,or Dream Community

“I went through with it. I sold my car, gave away half of my clothes and left my friends back home to move to the big city to pursue my dreams. I should have been living on top of the world, right?

And yet there I was, alone on a Saturday night, sitting on the dusty wooden floors of my over-priced, dilapidated apartment in Washington D.C. Thousands of young professionals mingled in bars and nightclubs a few blocks away, but I could not bring myself to force another surface-level conversation with people I had never met before and would probably never see again. I felt isolated.

Although I had recently enrolled in a prestigious graduate school and landed an internship with an innovative communications firm, I could not help but ask the horrifically difficult question—Was this worth it? Should I have left my friends, family and church community for the ‘next step’ in my career?

Our generation values professional opportunities and ambitious dreams over most other aspects of life. We often sacrifice depth in friendships, closeness to family members and commitments to local organizations and churches for the sake of adding lines to our resumes. Sometimes this takes the form of moving to new cities to start new jobs, but other times we simply overwork ourselves at the expense of the most important relationships in our lives. Sure, we have ambitions to run HIV clinics in Sub-Saharan Africa, to inspire inner-city students in underfunded U.S. schools, or to launch start-up companies with innovative tech solutions, but at what cost?

A generation in flux

Although we desire rich community and genuine relationships, we often do not stick around long enough for these connections to flourish.

Today, most young adults delay buying homes, getting married, having children and settling in long-term careers for the sake of flexibility. Ninety-one percent of Millennials expect to change jobs in less than three years, and this often involves transitioning cities or living situations, according to the Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @ Work” survey. As a result, we’re a generation constantly in flux. Although we desire rich community and genuine relationships, we often do not stick around long enough for these connections to flourish.

Describing young adults today, pastor and author Tim Keller illustrates this tension by saying, “I’ve never seen a generation more interested in community, more desirous of it, [but] the younger generation doesn’t want to make the sacrifices that enable community to happen, which means you have to limit your options. You can’t just move every two years.”

So what is the answer? Should we simply graduate high school and go to college, work jobs, buy houses and raise families in our hometowns for the entirety of our adult lives? Perhaps some of us should, but I believe with the proper balance, we can pursue both community and opportunity.

Thoughtfully, prayerfully consider each transition

I once saw a documentary on a guy who spent 13 years traveling around the world on bikes and boats. Although he saw amazing sights and met incredible people along the way, he completed the majority of his journey alone, and when he returned home, he lost his ability to relate to others. If we live in perpetual transition and do not take the time to root ourselves, we grow further and further away from relationships and the chances of finding genuine community decrease. For this reason, we must thoughtfully and prayerfully consider each transition before completely reshuffling our lives.

The writer of Proverbs says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” While God gives us the ability to plan, dream and pursue opportunities, we must recognize that He alone determines where we go and what we do. In other words, we are not the gods of our own lives; He is. Therefore, we must weigh our decisions in prayer and wisely consider the options. If a transition requires abandoning current commitments and only serves selfish ambitions, it is probably not a wise choice. On the other hand, if an opportunity enables growth, learning, giving and connection with others, you should feel the freedom to pursue it while asking for God’s will to be done.

Stay in touch with family/friends

The Apostle Paul embarked on three separate missionary journeys along with a trip to Rome, a distance that some scholars estimate to be about 10,000 miles total. While he repeatedly joined and left different communities, he consistently maintained relationships by writing letters and relaying messages. In addition to sending epistles, he asked his recipients to share his love and thanks with these past communities with requests like, “Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea.”

In the age of iPhones and social media, staying in touch with family and friends should be much easier. We simply have to be intentional with upholding connections to those that matter the most in our lives while making ourselves available for new connections. A phone call to your family matters much more than finding out via Facebook who your high school lover is dating, yet in times of transition we often lose this perspective. Sometimes the mere act of picking up the phone can mean the difference between losing a friend and strengthening a relationship.

We should feel the freedom to chase our dreams, so long as we do not isolate ourselves in the process.

Pursue community wherever you are

After wrestling with isolation and the lack of stability that came with my move to Washington D.C. last year, I decided to make a change. I moved into a community house with 10 other people in the heart of the city. Although some of the guys in the house struggle with honoring “personal space” and do not understand the concept of “inside voices,” the friendships I’ve made have been invaluable. I now have both community and opportunity, and I could not be more thankful for the transition I made.

None of us should trade friends and family for jobs, but in an age of global opportunities, we should feel the freedom to chase our dreams, so long as we do not isolate ourselves in the process. As a poet once said, “No man is an island.” Wherever we go and whatever we do, we should seek community and willingly make sacrifices to foster depth in our relationships.”

I could not figure out a way to share this from the site I read it on so I copied and pasted it. But I really connected with it. Curt Devine is an insightful writer I follow.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/career-money/dream-job-or-dream-community#zXYlDuIyXJbKi2FF.99