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Breakthrough

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.

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

 

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Provision

ProVision01Recently, while writing a prayer, I thanked God for His provision.  I suddenly noticed that the word is comprised of two words: “pro” and “vision.”  You probably already knew that but it was a new thought for me.

Provision means to provide or supply something for someone’s use such as food, drink or equipment.  Add an “s” and you’re suddenly looking to the future. Provisions means to make “financial or other arrangements for future eventualities or requirements.” For example, saving for retirement…you don’t need it yet, however, if you live long enough, you will.

What struck me is that the word “pro” can mean “to be for something”. For example, you might be pro-life which simply means that you would choose life over death when possible. And sometimes “pro” is used as slang to describe someone that has achieved the highest skill level such as someone that excels in their career like a speech writer or athlete. But the whole idea of being pro-vision struck me because it might mean that you would choose vision over illusion any day.

You probably remember the story of Abraham going through the motions to sacrifice his dearly loved son, Isaac, when suddenly, just in the nick of time, God provided a ram to use as a sacrifice in the place of Isaac.  Obviously the story offers us a picture of Jesus being offered as a substitutionary sacrifice for us.  Look closely because there is an emotionally charged moment in the story when both Abraham and Isaac are trying to understand how this was going to play out.  This is how it is written:

“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.” (Gn 22:7-8)

Abraham’s response is simply that God would make pro-vision…God would provide.  Maybe you have been in a place when you are walking forward in obedience and not totally certain how everything will turn out.  But you keep walking!  Each day, you get out of bed and remind yourself to breath.  You really only know the next thing to do and so you do whatever that thing is.  For Abraham and Isaac it meant building an altar, placing the wood.

At some point they had to do the hard thing…they had to go through the process of binding Isaac’s feet and hands, and laying him on the altar.  Seeing no way out of this hard obedience, Abraham finally raised the knife to kill his son.  Freeze!

Which do you think required more faith:  Being bound and laid on the altar or raising the knife?  I’ll let you think about that one.

So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” (Gn 22:14)

In this true story the Lord’s Hebrew name is Jehovah-Jireh which means ‘The LORD will provide’ or ‘The LORD will see.’  It means to give a means of deliverance; the root means “to see.”  In other words, and this is the interesting piece of pro-vision, the LORD will see and provide.

The good news is this: when the Lord requires hard things from you, he also sees what is needed and provides.  Not ahead of time but always in time.  He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and just in time provided a ram.  Whatever He has asked of you, he will also make pro-vison. Just keep walking.

Vision definitely makes the hard things easier.  On the other hand “Where there is no vision, the people perish (cast off restraint)” Proverbs 29:18.

And that, my friend, is no illusion.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Bible Verse, Goal Setting, Leadership

 

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Not Alone

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – Jesus (John 16:33)

Trouble is part of being alive. Jesus told his followers what to expect so that they could have peace in the midst of trouble. I like that.

Difficult times do not catch God by surprise. In the context of this verse Jesus had just predicted that everyone would leave him all alone. Then he said, “Yet, I am not alone for my Father is with me.”

Imagine that you were one of the disciples hearing Jesus lovingly say to you, “You will leave me all alone.” That just goes against everything within me. I imagine that I might tell Jesus, like Peter did, not me Lord! “Though everyone abandons you I will not.” But Jesus would know otherwise. Jesus was prepared for the worst. He was prepared for rejection by friends.

The irony is that Jesus died for everyone, but he did it alone.

Prepare yourself to be at peace even though you will have trouble.  Jesus did not say to his followers that they ‘might have,’ or ‘were likely to have’ trouble.  He said that they would have trouble.  He sounds pretty certain to me.

Maybe you can be grateful for the heads up on this one. Now that you know that you will have trouble (in various shapes and sizes for sure, but trouble none the less) know this: the only reason he wanted you to know was so that you would find your peace, your calm, in him.

When you have trouble in your world of family, marriage, finance, church or business remember that you can also find peace ‘in Jesus.’ He is a friend who will never leave you.

A prayer: Master. Thank you for the heads up on the trouble I will face. Thank you for friends who stand with me when there is trouble. Teach me to wait on you. May trouble be the wind that lifts me into your calm presence; in your presence I am courageous and my heart is full. Amen

 

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God is Good

Ashley Art_PsalmsI was emerging from my morning quiet time with God when I stepped into the kitchen and laid this new realization, the realization that God is good, on my husband Dan. When he looked at me I could read his mind, “well yeah…”.  I leaned against the counter and started the water boiling for another cup of hot tea. To this day, I can recall the clarity I felt. I looked at him and began to explain that when you have encountered the evil, ugly side of people it only magnifies the good in God. I wondered why I didn’t see this truth before. “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” Ps 34:8.

There are seasons of our lives that pass when darkness seems more prevalent. The pain and disappointments are experienced as steady blows, as though cornered in a boxing ring. We become bleary eyed and confused. And eventually Solomon’s words lift from the pages of Ecclesiastes, “There is a time to search and a time to give up”. There is a time to give up searching for answers when circumstances are confusing. People do confusing and hurtful things, however the Lord is good, and there is no darkness or shadow in Him. James 1:16-17 says, “…the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” There are no shadows in God. He is entirely good.

I find myself saddened by the evil that I have witnessed and even the persistent reminder of my own failings. Perhaps this is what drives us to justify gossip and slander: the lie that somehow all of that evil in us will go away with the pointing of the accusing finger. And does this really help anyone feel better? Maybe for a brief moment, for accusing fingers always come back at us in the arguments played out in the mind. Peter writes, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” I Peter 2:1-3

It may be that I am late in coming to this understanding. Or maybe I am just now understanding this at a deeper level much the same as when an artist progresses from using primary colors to various tints, shades and tones bringing out the deeper understanding and meaning of a painting. Whatever the reason, what I am sharing with you is a new realization that has altered how I view evil in the world. I believe with all my being this deep truth; God is good.

So, during the hard times, the times when people aren’t good, when they tear down, when they allow their fear, insecurities and personal agendas to bruise the heart and soul of another, remember this: God is good. He is always good. If the lost person will take Him in, if the sinning saint will take Him in, God will heal. There is hope if we remember that the evil can be overcome with good. And there is only one that is truly good. God.

“The Lord is my shepherd…I will fear no evil…surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23

(written by Beth Holland; artwork by Ashley Holland; art photographed by Micah Holland)

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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