How often do you walk around saying that today is a good day? Probably not often, if you are really honest with yourself. But, I heard someone say it this past week at work and it totally changed my day.

This past Wednesday was a BAD day and it started before leaving the house. My wife asked me a question that frustrated me and it was not as much the question as it was the timing of the question, as I was trying to walk out the door. My commute, though is only 50 miles and on most days, takes over an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, took closer to two hours. I walked straight into my first meeting and was in meetings the rest of the entire day. ALL DAY!

As with anyone in a management role, especially in the IT world, they know that there are personal issues and technology issues all the time. And this was one of those days, that while in meetings, I had multiple texts about outages, a down server, etc. And I had a personal matter that was pulling me out of the meeting as well. And, if that wasn’t enough, my wife called in tears because of something going on.

As I wrapped up my day and ended my last meeting, I was beat down and frustrated. I loaded up my bag and was getting ready to head to my Jeep and looked at the map for traffic, and it was going to be another hour and a half commute home. I was beat and I was done for the day. I just wanted to get home, hug the kids and rest for a little bit.

And as I was walking through the hall of the hospital on the way to me jeep, I was on my phone texting with a friend and not really paying attention and then I heard children laughing. And then I looked up and saw a father pulling a wagon with 2 kids on the side of the wagon holding hands with a little girl who was sitting up and enjoying her ride. And I noticed that the mom was pulling the child’s IV pole and wiping away tears, but it was in that moment, the father turned and looked at his wife and said “Today is a good day!”

WOW! I literally stopped in the hallway and was completely speechless. Here is a dad, pulling his sick daughter through the hallway of the hospital, who is obviously sick and all he could do was focus on the good and positive, because they probably have gone through a lot of really hard times too. In just a brief 10 second moment, I got to see that everything that I saw and went through that day, did not even come close to what this father was going through and dealing with.

What had been a hard and very frustrating day, I was able to see that even in the hardest days, the hardest moments and the hardest times, that today is a good day. I truly believe, that God was tapping me on the head and saying, pay attention, your life could be a lot harder. And for that, I am truly grateful.

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On this Good Friday, I am often thinking less about the death of Jesus, but more about the resurrection. The act of selfness that Jesus bore the burdens and sins of Christians and died for us.
In my readings this week, these two verses really hit home with me:

“But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die— but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!”
1 Corinthians 15:56, 57 MSG

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
John 14:1-3

I view death two ways: 1) your physical body on earth is no longer and 2) your everlasting life in Heaven begins.

So on this Good Friday, think about what Jesus gave up for you. Think about how he gave the ultimate sacrifice, his life, and think about what you’ve done and given up for others.

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Growing up in the church, I always remember that people would refer to the church goers that would attend Christmas and Easter as “Those People”. And it hit me this morning, of late, we’ve become “Those People”. I was reading my devotional this morning and it hit me, the biggest part of going to church, was not always the message, but the fellowship with others. With other believers that shared a common belief and faith.

A lot of my earliest memories and closest friends, come from my time running up and down the halls at church. And as I grew and faced some challenges with my family, I took a break from the church. I couldn’t understand how God would allow two people that I knew, the pastor of our church and his son, to die with in the same week. So I quit going.

Two years later, I get a phone call from my mother and my sister’s best friend’s mom just died.  My mom asked me to goto the funeral, which I did and something happened while I was there, I found that fellowship again. I found that common belief and that faith that I had been missing, in the the funeral that day.  Then I moved.

Living in Texas, it is true, a lot of things are really bigger in Texas, including the churches.  I went to one of the two Methodist churches in town and went to grab a hymnal only to realize that I was the only one in the sanctuary not reading the words off the wall from the projector. I struggled to fit in, but was on this roll and didn’t want to be one of “Those People” again. Then one day, a friend in my small group suggested that a few of us check out the other Methodist church in town, because it was smaller. So I took a chance.

4 years later, I missed only a handful services and cried the day that I moved and left that church. I was a part of a church for the first and loved every minute. Even though I traveled a lot for work, I stopped by the church to pray before every flight in our open 24 hr chapel. I was very close to our associate pastor, who I met with once a week for coffee and was one of the greatest men that I have ever gotten to know. But a job came along, so I moved again.

I really struggled finding a new church when I got to the Northeast, the Methodist churches here just didn’t seem to have caught up with what we were doing in church, so I disengaged, I was frustrated. I became one of “Those People” again.

Then, a few months later, I met my now wife.  We were talking one day about church and I told her my background and how I’ve struggled to find a church, which was perfect because she was really involved with her Methodist church and wanted me to come with her to meet her friends and family.  Because we lived 45 miles from the church, we didn’t always go, but we went at least 3 of the 4 Sundays each month. Then we were forced to face the tragic and untimely death of her mom and we became more involved than ever.  Then we had kids.

For the first year, we did ok. Then I needed to make a change and go to a different church, due to some philosophical differences that I had with the local church. We found a church much closer to home and the boys enjoyed going. Then, the boys started getting sick and we didn’t want other kids to get sick, so we stayed home. Then my wife would be on call and taking the boys to church when they are 2, was a little more than I could handle, so we stayed home. We were tired, usually because Baby A wasn’t sleeping, so we stayed home. The weather would be icy/snowy, so we stayed home. Soon, it just became an excuse and we were “Those People”.

Today, as I was looking outside, it hit me, it hit me, I miss the fellowship. I miss the connection that I would feel when going to church. I miss those memories of being around others, that shared a like belief and faith. And I felt guilty that  I haven’t been more proactive with taking the boys to church. But no more. No more excuses. No more reasons that are not legit. I can’t and will not get back into that habit again. I will not deny my boys the opportunity to start a life of faith and build their beliefs. Starting today, we are no longer “THOSE PEOPLE”.

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Being a Christian, the start of Lent is a time for reflection and remembrance before the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Many Christians use this time of Lent, as a way to grow closer to God and in doing so, will often times give something up as a way to test themselves. I’m not a historian, so I’m providing some links that might be helpful to learn more about the season of Lent:

And here is a site that gives you some ideas of things that you can give up for Lent this year. But, you don’t have to just give something up. You can chose to take something on. But remember whatever you do, make it a challenge. Challenge yourself to either give something up or take something on that will cause a little suffering.  For me, in the past I have given up Starbucks. This year, I am giving up my daily Coke Zero. I have gotten into the habit of drinking a Coke Zero every day and sometimes twice a day, so it has definitely become a habit. So for me, I’m really challenging myself to give up Coke Zero & I have asked my co-workers to really help me with this.

But, I’m not only going to give up my daily Coke Zero, but I am going to start working out more. It is hard to do with twins, but as my wife said to me this weekend, we both need to be healthier so that we are around for the boys for a long time. And that really hit me. So Lent is definitely coming at a good time for me, because not only will I lose weight from not drinking Coke Zero, but I am going to take the money that I was spending every day on Coke Zero and put it in a jar for the boys for their piggy banks. And the sad part, is that it will quickly add up, because they sold for $1.79 a piece so on a given work week, I could save at least $9.00, if not closer to $20.00.  And, I would be saving calories too.

The choice to give something up for Lent is a very personal thing. It should be between you and God and really no one else. Meaning, you be the one to decide what to give up. Lent is a 40 day challenge, but can be a challenge that is life changing. Just like the life changing events of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

So I challenge you to give something up this year for Lent.

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Some where along the way in the last 2 years, I have changed and changed in a good way. Things that I could once watch and listen to on the radio can spark an emotion in me that I have never experienced.

For years I have listened to the music of Christian artist Mark Schultz and he has three songs that just get me every time that I hear them.  Tonight though, I want to focus on He’s My Son. Here is the story behind the song and I think that you’ll understand why it gets me:

Mark Schultz wrote this song about a family dealing with their son’s cancer when he was a youth minister at a church in Nashville, Tennessee. It was inspired by the grieving of a couple in his church, whose son had been diagnosed with leukemia. Shultz observed the struggles of the mother and father. He explained in CCM Top 100 Greatest Songs In Christian Music: “Louise often stayed up with (Martin) until he fell asleep. She would rub his back and try to comfort him, but she felt helpless. Some nights, John would wake up and walk down the hall to Martin’s room and watch him sleep. As he stood there, he would try to imagine what life would be like without his son.”
Schultz added that he “tried for several months to write a song for John and Louise, but nothing seemed to capture what they were going through. I couldn’t begin to understand the depth of pain John and Louise faced every day – but God did.” He then went on to explain that eventually “the only thing I had to do with this song is that I just happened to be there when God sat it in my lap.” – Source: Song Facts

You see, my wife and I have been blessed beyond belief.  We have two very healthy and active boys. No matter how my day goes, I can walk into the room and they can change the course of my day.  I can do something that not all parents can do, I can hug my sons and kiss them goodnight.  I can lay in the floor and let them crawl all on me. I can chase them around the room or let them chase me. And I can do all of these things, every single day. And there are father’s that are out there that would give anything to do those things.

And as I watch Mark’s song, He’s My Son, it just hits me even harder how lucky we are, because I don’t know what I would do if I got the news that my son had Leukemia or some other disease?  I cringe at the thought. I cry for those that do have to deal with this realness every day.  And I hope that if I am every faced with something like this, that I can remember this song, because at the end of the day, He’s My Son and I would love my child and pray every day for them to be healed. I would pray that I could take their illness on instead of them. And I would remind myself, that as a Christian, I’m Still HIS Son and that

Please take a moment to watch He’s My Son by Mark Schultz, it is life changing for parents.

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CrossWhen I was in Texas, the small group that I was a part of that meet every Sunday morning would start each class with a simple question: “Seen God this week?” And it was a simple question, but one that was really powerful for me.  It really made me more aware of what was going on during the week, to stop and look around for how God was working not only in my life but others. And when I started really focusing on this, I saw things differently.

Years later, I move to the east coast. I still attend church, just not as involved as I was out in Texas. This is for my reasons, but it dawned on my a few weeks ago how much I missed answering that question every week. So it got me thinking, have I seen God this week? And it was a simple yes! I saw him when I woke up this morning and got to see my sons smiling at me. I will see him again tonight when I go home from work and my boys start jumping up and down waiting for me to play with them.

And every night, before I go to sleep, I thank God for having another day with my little boys and hope that he gives me tomorrow with them as well.  But now that I am more aware of this need/desire, it has renewed my energy about God. I might not be involved with my current church as I was with the church in Texas and that is for many reasons, but I will be reading the bible more. I just purchased two books by Adam Hamilton24 Hours That Changed The World” & “Final Words at the Cross ” and hope to start reading them this weekend. I hope that these book continue to help me seek a deeper relationship with God, which will ultimately make me a better father.

So, as you go about your week and daily activities, stop and ask yourself if you have seen God this week?

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