Tag Archives: goal setting

Christmas Towns, Part 2

Christmas Towns, Part 2

Take a walk with me through some of the towns where the story of Jesus took place.  Along the way you will meet people who struggled to understand what God was doing.  In each town we will learn something significant about what it means to believe God.  I’m sure the individuals had doubts, yet they were certain that God had a plan and would carry out His plan.  As we walk through these towns, take notice, you may catch a glimpse of yourself and what God is doing in your life.

The second town we come to in the story of Jesus is Bethlehem.  This is the town that takes center stage each Christmas because Jesus was born there.  Every detail surrounding his birth seems perfectly orchestrated.  The new-born baby lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, an angel announcing the arrival of the Great Shepherd to shepherds in the field, and angels singing praise.  The one who was before all things and in whom all things hold together entered the world through a stable.  It’s a one-of-a-kind story! 

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.”  (Luke 2:1-5, The Message)

Sometimes God chooses to do big things in small, out-of-the-way places, in ways we may not expect.  No one expected this.  God’s son, the Savior of the world, was born in a stable in the little town of Bethlehem.  No one expected that such an important thing could happen there; but it did.  It happened because Joseph and Mary believed God and walked in obedience.  Just before time for Jesus to be born, a census was called for.  Who expected that?  God did. 

What blows my mind is that GOD KNEW that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem long before it happened.  Micah prophesied 700 years before this moment in Bethlehem, that it would happen.  God not only knew THAT the Messiah would be born, but He knew exactly WHERE he would be born.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)

What led TO Bethlehem and what happened IN Bethlehem were not afterthoughts in the mind of God.  They were before-thoughts.  He knew there would be a census requiring Joseph to return to Bethlehem just in time for His son to be born there.  He knew the inn would be full that day, so he provided a stable.  God knew. 

God knows about you too! “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)  Joseph and Mary were called according to His purpose and they believed God to work out the details.  You can too. 

In Micah’s prophesy God eliminated all other cities and towns in the world as possibilities.  Out of all the places where Jesus could have been born, God knew it would be in a tiny village, near Jerusalem.  It would not be Jerusalem, the capital city.  It would not even be Nazareth where his parents lived.  Both cities would have been logical choices, but God called it.


Sometimes God chooses to do big things in small, out-of-the-way places, in ways we may not expect.  


By traveling to Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary weren’t trying to fulfill prophecy.  They went because that’s what they were required to do.  That’s all.  They didn’t have a choice in the matter.  The government dictated that every person had to return to their hometown; regardless of personal circumstances.  Mary was about to give birth to the Savior of the world and yet not even she was exempt from the census!  God knew that would be the case.  Mary was pregnant, and because of circumstances beyond her control, “while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born” (Luke2:6).  So perfect!  God knew about all this long before it happened! 

I imagine that we’ve all had times in our lives when we’ve thought it wasn’t supposed to be this way or that way.  God is working while we are waiting.  One way that God works all things together for the good is that he plans ahead.  Bethlehem reminds us that God has been at work long before now.  We may not always see exactly what God is doing but we can always believe that He is doing something according to his will.  Our job is to be obedient which means doing the next right thing.  And for Joseph and Mary, the next right thing was to go to Bethlehem.

God is not surprised by either world events, or personal choices.  God knew that a census would happen at that exact time in history, requiring Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem whether they wanted to go or not.  In the same way that God was aware of the census, I believe He knows about the “Bethlehem moments” that happen in our lives.  It may very well be that normal circumstances have brought you to a difficult inconvenient place.  Maybe you would prefer to be somewhere different doing something else.  Everybody has moments like that.  Wherever you are and whoever you are with, honor God in this moment. 

Bethlehem reminds us to believe that God knows how to get us WHERE we need to be WHEN we need to be there.  We can easily miss the most obvious powerful truth about Bethlehem which is that God knew before.  Stay obedient.  Embrace what God is doing.  He knows how to get you where you need to be to do what He’s called you to do.  God had to get you where you are to take you where He wants you to go.


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For more inspiration read Your Life in One Day (click here): 


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“I’ve known Dan for over 30 years and this book is a beautiful watermark of his faith. It is an enlightening read that reminds you that God desperately desires to use you in EVERY chapter of your life. He skillfully communicates that trusting fully in God’s love and promises are the keys to successfully getting through the adventures he calls you to. This book challenges you to walk bravely into the arena of your life and to listen carefully for what God is calling you to do!” Kim Carbia – Career Coach and Author of “Faith And Unemployment”


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Your Life in One Day, Part 2

Your Life in One Day, Part 2

Thinking of my entire life in terms of one 24-hour day has brought me valuable perspective. Really, every day is a battle for perspective. 

That’s the point of my blog post Your Life in One Day, Part 1. Check it out here: 

I ended part one by saying: It’s time to move forward. Let’s take it one step further. Sometimes we may wonder if we are living our very best.

For example, maybe we wonder if things shouldn’t be moving faster and we may get the feeling that we’re somehow falling behind. Or we may worry that life has passed us by.  We may even find ourselves feeling discontent and saying things like, “When I get a real job, or maybe a different job, then things will be great.” Or, “As soon as I can afford to retire things will be great.” Or, “Things were great when…I was younger…I lived in a different place.” Before you know it you’ve lost perspective about the life God has given you. Whenever we lose sight of what God is doing, we can easily become worried about the future, regretful of the past or doubt ourselves in the present. 

As I worked through my life in one day, I came across a speech called Decade by Decade in which Bobb Biehl shares what we might expect at each decade or phase of life. Bobb is an author, speaker and executive mentor and has produced more than 65 tools for leadership, management, and life. I found this speech to be particularly helpful for giving me context for both my life as well as that of my adult children. I hope it’s helpful to you too! Here is my summary and if you care to watch his talk the link is at the end of the blog. 

To make it easier for you to think of your life in terms of one day I’ve matched each decade with the corresponding time of day from part one of Your Life in One Day.

Birth to 10 years old – 7:00am-9:00am

  • SECURITY is the most important thing for all children. Children need to hear “I love you” and “I’m proud of you.”

10 to 20 years old – 9:00am-11:00am

  • SELF seems to be the driving factor in the way 10 to 20 year olds view the world. If you have kids in this age range, one way he suggests to help him or her develop a healthy perspective of both themselves and others in the world is to send him or her on a mission trip to serve others. This could also be accomplished by serving others throughout your community in a variety of ways including such things as mowing a widow’s yard, visiting someone who’s lonely, or donating a blanket or coat for someone in need. 

20’s – 11:00am-1:00pm

  • SURVIVAL is the key word for those at this time of life. If this is you, you probably wonder if you can survive in the adult world. During this time decide what you don’t want to do. Spend this time of life learning about yourself and others. Start saving 10% of your income. Discover if you’re are a goal-setter, problem solver or opportunity seizer. Bobb says that only 15% of the population tend to be goal setters, 80% are problem solvers, 5% seize opportunities. If you’d like more context click on the link below to listen to his speech. 

30’s – 1:00pm-3:00pm

  • SUCCEED is the key word for those in their 30s. People in this time of life are driven to succeed, almost with a sense of urgency. At the same time that they are raising kids, they are working hard to get things done ‘before it’s too late’. It’s recommended that you schedule balance into your life and that you get a mentor. Also, embrace the struggle that’s likely to show up between the ages of 37-43 when you wonder, “Is what I’m doing making a difference?” 

40s – 3:00pm-5:00pm 

  • STRUGGLE and SIGNIFICANCE are key words for those in their 40s. Resist the temptation to define yourself by your life’s work. Understand that this is just a phase of your life and not your entire life.

50s – 5:00pm-7:00pm 

  • Now your hitting your STRIDE! Don’t waste the time! If you’re in your 50’s, Bobb recommends becoming a mentor to someone in their 30’s. Also, relax and realize that while you desire success, this will likely be the third most productive decade of your life. If you’re hiring for a position, you might consider hiring someone between the ages of 50-53 because they are just hitting their stride.

60s – 7:00pm-9:00pm 

  • STRATEGIC is the key word for those in their 60s. This has proven to be the most productive decade in terms of the greatest income and influence. Rather than slowing down, consider how the Lord might use you in ways that take advantage of your unique life’s experience. 

70s – 9:00pm-11:00pm 

  • SUCCESSION is the key word for those in their 70s. This is the second most productive decade of a person’s life. If you’re here keep your estate plan updated. Take time to write out memories and advice for your family and friends. Keep mentoring. 

80s – 11:00pm-1:00am 

  • SLIPPERY seems to be the key word because so much can happen at this time of life. As I’m writing this, I just returned from visiting with Olive, who is 96 years old. Her mind is sharp, her faith is inspiring, her attitude is contagious. If I am blessed to live another 40 years, I hope that I am just like her in mind, faith and attitude. 

I’ll conclude with two thoughts from scripture that apply to all of us regardless where we are in life: 

First, “Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” (Colossians 3:17, The Message) Regardless where you are, be thankful to God. Not necessarily FOR the circumstances, but while your IN the circumstances be thankful. Live for Jesus Christ. 

Second, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” (James 1:5-8, The Message)

My big take-aways from this passage are: FOCUS! Follow One Course Until Successful. Also, BE BOLD in your conversation with God beacuse he loves to help you do what he’s asked you to do.  


Click here if you want to make a difference:

Click here if you need a breakthrough:


(Bobb Biehl’s Decade by Decade –


Dan’s book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle version. For special offers visit



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Your Life in One Day

What if your life was just one day long? 

What if your entire life was lived in the context of one 24-hour day? 

What would that look like? What would it feel like? How might your perspective about your life change? How might your outlook about the lives of others be different?

The average life span is 80 years. 

If you’re a 35-year-old man or woman, it’s difficult to envision yourself as an 80-year-old.  But visit with an 80-year-old man or woman and listen their stories about when they married the love of their life or when their children were born or when they served their country and you’ll likely hear them make statements like, “It seems like just yesterday.”  Memories have a way of bringing yesterday up close.  Time is like that; the far-off future seems like it will never happen, and the distant past seems like yesterday.  

Assuming you live the average length of 80 years what would that look like if it were all lived in one day? Your life would begin at 7:00 am and end at 11:00 pm. That’s your entire life crammed into one 16-hour day!

Mathematically speaking every 12 minutes of the day would equal one year of life. You would get to celebrate a birthday every 12 minutes. That’s a lot of cake…and gifts! Each minute represents one month of your life and every two hours represents a decade of your life. Here’s how it works out.

  • 7:00am – 9:00am (Birth to 10 years old)

  • 9:00am – 11:00am (10 to 20 years old)

  • 11:00am – 1:00pm (20s)

  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm (30s)

  • 3:00pm – 5:00pm (40s)

  • 5:00pm – 7:00pm (50s)

  • 7:00pm – 9:00pm (60s)

  • 9:00pm – 11:00pm (70s)

  • 11:00pm – 1:00am (80s)

  • 1:00am – 3:00am (90s)

What time is it for you?

Referencing the above chart, for me the time is 6:20pm. That means I have 4 hours 40 minutes left in my day before I turn 80. Maybe I’ll have less time but maybe I’ll have more. Either way, I am choosing to live all out using the gifts God has given me for the good of others and to HIS GLORY for the next 4 hours and 40 minutes! I believe that at the end of the day, when everything is taken into account, what’s going to matter most, both to myself and others, is whether or not I feared God and did what he told me.

How about you? What time is it for you? How are you using your time?

You get to choose how to invest your time.

Imagine the impact if you lived on purpose for the next “minute” of your life? You get to decide. If there are commitments you’ve put off, people you’ve neglected or projects that no longer deserve your attention then do something about it. Stop putting it off. Don’t waste the next “minute” of your precious life wandering.

In the time you have left why not do what you’ve always said you wanted to do. Maybe you’re right where you need to be doing what you’re supposed to be doing. In that case, keep going and don’t look back. But maybe it’s time to do something new and different. You don’t need a bucket full of courage to get where you want to go, only a drop or two is enough to take your next step.

Don’t be that person who wants things to be different AND nothing to change. To get something new requires doing something new. Why not go where you’ve always wanted to go. Do what you believe to be the next right thing. Spend it with people who bring you joy. It’s time to move forward.

To read Part 2 of Your Life in One Day, click here: 


Dan’s book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle version. For special offers visit


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As I consider my experience in Taekwondo the thing that stands out to me most is that in both Taekwondo and life we should always be willing to give a little more than might be required or expected. In order to do that you may need to learn to concentrate on what you know with your mind rather than what you see with your eyes. Let me explain.

taekwondo break Micah 2014

Action Photography by Micah Holland

One of the first real tests that a martial artist faces is the test of breaking a board. Each time a student begins to learn how to break a board we instruct them to kick beyond the board or to kick through the board. To help him or her grasp this concept we remove the board so that the student is able to visualize the point to which they should kick or strike. The goal of course is for them to concentrate their focus, energy, power and aim beyond the fictitious barrier.

Most students do well in this exercise. Then comes the actual test. Everything changes the moment that they see an actual board standing in the way. At that point something happens in the mind of the student. Rather than concentrating on kicking beyond the board their full attention is captured and placed on the board itself. The board is suddenly obstructing their perfect view of their goal. What seemed possible now feels impossible. 

Why does that happen? Why will a student agree to concentrate kicking to one point, practice kicking to that point and then suddenly and somewhat unconsciously completely lose sight of their goal? Why do they suddenly become in danger of fixating on the board? Is it that the student doesn’t trust their instructor? I think the explanation is a rather simple one. This change of focus happens because the board is real. Breaking the board was a nice goal and thought but actually breaking through the board is another matter entirely. What the student knows in their mind and believes in their heart is hijacked by what they see with their eyes. They believe their instructor, but then they begin to think and that is the problem. It seems that the more they think about the board the more they stop believing they can actually break through the board.

Action Photography by CI Roy Reid

That is a powerful lesson in life itself. You may know that there is more then what you might be able to see in this life and so you make your goal to live with faith, courage and determination. Yet, sometimes whenever you face physical, relational or financial obstacles (to name a few) hope, faith and joy can suddenly be hidden from sight. And then what happens? You focus on the problem rather than beyond the problem to the solution. You focus on what may become a source of pain rather than the joy that lies just beyond it. In some instances you may find that you have been fixated on the “board” in your life for years!

Now, because you have lost sight of the goal, you may continually and courageously kick against the very real obstacle and it hurts again and again. Why are we suddenly afraid of the trouble we face? While there is no simple answer I would like to submit that it might simply be due to a loss of sight. It seems to me that in the same way that a student might be suddenly afraid of seeing the board, although he or she knew that there would be a board to break, that we can suddenly be afraid in life.

We fear the board because we do not want to suffer.

We certainly don’t want to cause ourselves unnecessary pain and suffering. And so we do everything in our power to avoid the pain we expect. In other words, we want to break the board, but we don’t want it to hurt! We want to move through each challenge without suffering in any way. Yet suffering leads to perseverance, perseverance leads to maturity / character, and character leads to hope, according to scripture.

Something powerful happens in the human spirit whenever we focus our attention and belief on something that is outside of ourselves and beyond our trouble. For me, whenever I focus my attention on Christ and eternal life that is beyond anything on this earth, I also find exceptional joy and abiding peace. And when I focus on joy I am better able to break through obstacles that life presents. Not always without pain and not always on the first try. But that’s life.

Not accomplishing something the first time is ok.

Hurting as a result of trying is ok. Pain does not mean that you are doing something wrong; sometimes it’s a result of breaking through something. However, it is not ok to give up just because you are tired. There is no valid reason for not trying again: if you fall down seven times, then get up eight.

Back to the board-breaking…I learned to focus on a point beyond the board. All was well until I was required to face the more difficult challenge of breaking through concrete. First degree required that I break one 2″ concrete cap with my hand. Second degree black required breaking through two 2″ concrete caps with my foot. The lessons I carried into breaking concrete were things like: Don’t overthink it (huge lesson)…It’s been done before…You are well prepared…Trust your instructor to put you in situations that are both challenging and sometimes difficult…Always give your best.

Having said that, times of testing in both Taekwondo and in life can be useful markers along the journey just to confirm that you are experiencing progress. I like that I am always learning and always teaching.

Why did I pursue 3rd Dan Black Belt?

Once the testing was over, individuals were allowed to ask questions of me in a public forum. One of those questions came from my wife. She asked me why I did it? She said, “A lot has happened in the year leading up to this point of testing. At any point you could have decided not to move forward. Why did you do it?” After thinking for a moment I answered to the audience, “I decided to persevere because I knew that if I did and was successful, it would allow me to work toward a fourth degree. But if I didn’t, it would be the end. I didn’t want it to be the end.” 

I am humbled by the fact that while many began this race, few (by comparison) have come this far. I am thankful for each person who invested time, energy, suggestions, training and encouragement. While I am so grateful to each instructor and students, I am especially grateful to Kwanjangnim David Turnbull and Sahbumnim Wendy Turnbull. I hope that there will be many opportunities to help others experience breakthroughs to their dreams and goals.


Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Goal Setting, Leadership


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Examine Yourself

tolerate pic 01

An environment of tolerance is a funny thing because in such an environment, intolerance is not tolerated. Weird.

I’ve thought it might be helpful, or at least fun, to say to people who are intolerant of intolerance, “Sorry you think its intolerant of me to not tolerate your intolerance,” but then that comment may come across a bit, shall we say, snide.

What is the opposite of tolerance? Is it intolerance? No. I think the opposite of tolerance might be caring. When you genuinely care about ideals you have about people and things, then you will appropriately stand for truth. Yet, this gets you to the root of the problem…doesn’t it? All to often you may not be clear about what is truth. Here’s the truth…

Tolerate something long enough and it becomes acceptable.

Accept something long enough and it becomes familiar.

And if it’s familiar long enough – it becomes right – even righteous.

At this point everyone does what is right in his own eyes. It happened to God’s Old Testament people (Judges 17:6; 21:25) and it can happen to you. It can happen to you but it doesn’t have to happen to you. Just be careful what you tolerate!

Not everything we tolerate is a sin or national crisis. Sometimes we tolerate “dumb” stuff. Some examples might help: If you Tolerate laziness, in yourself or anyone, and what do you hope to gain? If you Tolerate overspending, then eventually you may have to live with her children named poverty and hardship – and they have an insatiable appetite! If you Tolerate people misbehaving in your life/world, anyone, then you likely will live in chaos, conflict, strive and serious avoidance.

It begins with building a tolerance for something…anything. That is usually accomplished by allowing existence or practice of something without interference. Often it is tolerating something that you do not necessarily like or agree with. You just tolerate it. You allow it to exist or to be practiced without interference. Why would you do that? Good question? What’s the answer? Is it…Fear of rejection/Desire for acceptance…Lack of courage…Laziness…Avoiding conflict? Your guess is as good as mine.

The point is that you can and probably should examine what and why you tolerate stuff.

“That’s All Folks!”

Oh…almost forgot, a couple of scriptures for you to contemplate:

1. “For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths.” – Proverbs 5:21. You can be sure that the Lord is paying attention to your steps.

2. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” – Acts 17:11. Before you accept something as true examine it through the lens of scripture.

3. “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” – 1 Corinthians 11:28. Communion is a time when you should examine your life and relationship with God and others as well.

4. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? – 2 Corinthians 13:5. Notice that the pronoun yourselves is used twice…this is to emphasize the idea that you should start looking more at your self than at others.

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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Bible Verse, Goal Setting, Leadership


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Impossible-Hard-Inevitable Stuff


Speak of the impossible and someone might say: “It’s not impossible – it just hasn’t been done yet.”

As true as that might be, you sometimes face situations that you feel are impossible.

Or perhaps inevitable might be a better word to describe some situations. You feel like something is inevitable and hard at the same time and you would like nothing more than to avoid that situation. Maybe you know what I’m talking about.

When you are in a hard-inevitable situation, have you ever asked God for something impossible, such as stopping the inevitable? Me too! In fact, whenever Jesus came face to face with the hard, yet inevitable suffering and death by crucifixion, he did as well. In fact, the way he talked to God in that moment has often guided the difficult prayers that I have prayed. More precisely, the prayers were not difficult, but the circumstances in which I found myself were indeed difficult.

The model I personally use in such times is Jesus’ prayer(s) in Gethsemane. To say that he was facing a difficult situation would be the understatement of all time. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” were his exact words. You’ve heard his words but have you noticed the clarity?

First read his prayer…then pray your prayer following his example.

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36

First, pray intimately. After all you are speaking to your heavenly Father.

Second, pray expecting that God can and will answer…acknowledge his power: “Everything is possible for you.”

Third, pray specifically. Don’t be chicken. Don’t concern yourself with how it sounds. You’re talking to your Father and you are desperate! Pray! Ask! Seek! Knock!

Finally, pray better than you are. All I mean by that is this: when life is said and done you will be glad that you lived in God’s will. You will never regret asking that God’s will be done before your own. So in every bold prayer say this: “Yet (even though I have asked for some things I would like/prefer) not what I will, but what you will be done.” Accept his will above your own.

I learned from a wise woman…and sometimes it is this simple: “You have not because you ask not.”

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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Taking Stock

ImageOn 1/31 look at Gn 1:31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” (Ge 1:31)

On the final day of creation – which just happens to be the final verse of Genesis chapter one – God looked back over his handy work and declared that it was very good. It was so good that on the following day he rested!

Well, today is the last day of the first month of 2014! Stopping to evaluate the first month isn’t a bad idea. In fact it can be quite helpful.

When you look back over the first month can you say it was very good? Are you headed the direction you had hoped for? Would you grade January as average, good, or excellent? What things did you plan to do and in fact you did them? What opportunities came along that you are glad that you took ahold of? Are there some important lessons you learned that you should write down in your journal? What are some “do betters” for the month of February?

Now say a prayer thanking God for all the things that went well and ask for His help in the areas where you need it.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phil 4:6

Try not to be too narrowly focused as you look over the past month. For example, Think about all aspects of your life: marriage, parenting, financially, friends (are you meeting new people), family, education, physically (confession: I need to step it up in this area), educationally (are you reading and learning anything), attitude (are you joyful, at peace, friendly, etc), spiritually (Are you loving God by being content and thankful to Him for where you are in life? Are you loving your neighbor as yourself?). You get the point. I have also found it to be quite encouraging to list your blessings, speak them out loud.

I’ll end with a quote from the movie The Shawshank Redemption – just because I like it – “You need to get busy living or get busy dying.”


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