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Time Escapes

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“Time Escapes” by Ashley Holland, Acrylic on Canvas

My dad was a preacher and my role model.  One of the things he modeled to me was coming up with a theme for the coming year.  This has proven to be a great habit that keeps time from becoming elusive and escaping.  For example, “Knees to the Floor in ’74” was one of dad’s themes.  He would then use that as the theme of our annual New Year’s Eve youth rally in Winslow, Arizona, where I grew up during elementary and middle school, to kick-start the New Year.  Then for the entirety of 1974 he focused on understanding and integrating prayer into his teaching and daily life.  It was a lot of fun even if at times a bit cheesy.  I have tried to follow his example of having a theme each year in my own life, albeit without his flare for rhyming.

Write Your Personal Theme for 2017

My primary thought for 2016 has been Solomon’s wisdom:  “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)  That wisdom has captured my imagination because it means that the most important leadership tool I have is something other than my experience, knowledge, skill or network.  Each of those qualities matter for sure, but the more important and lasting concern is the health of my heart because that is the beginning point of everything else in my life.  I encourage you to write down your personal theme for 2017 which might be a word or scripture or quote.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”― Soren Kierkegaard

Think New Thoughts 

Let your thoughts be guided by your theme for 2017. According to Solomon, the beginning point for a new life is a new heart!  It stands to reason that when you learn to think in a new way, that you will start to live in a new way.  A person’s mindset is the beginning point for a new life.  Our mindset is the sum of our beliefs and thoughts.  Having a theme is helpful because it helps you to become an observer of yourself.  For example, does what you say and do reflect your new thoughts?

Be You 

Another reason I have focused on that verse is that what I feel and think in my heart is who I truly am.  That is what I need to pay attention to.  I am not what I am outwardly but what I am inwardly.  I’m not necessarily who others think I am but rather who I am in my heart.  I may put on a good face for others to see, but that is not necessarily who I am.  I am what I think, say and do in private.  Haven’t you noticed that what is private today often becomes public tomorrow?  And so, I’ve paid close attention this past year to the set point of my heart.  When necessary, I’ve worked to reset my heart in the same way that we reset the thermostat in our homes.  The temperature in our homes always returns to the set point.  That’s always been the case for God’s people.  God always does his part.  He just needs us to do our part by guarding our heart.

As 2016 comes to a close and a new year is on the horizon, let’s guard our hearts, hope in the Lord, enjoy the journey, plan well, apply wisdom and see what good things the Lord provides in 2017.

https://danholland2819.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/want-to-make-a-difference/

 

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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.

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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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Impossible-Hard-Inevitable Stuff

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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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Worry-Free Living

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I recently read that the most highlighted verse in the online Kindle e-Bible is…are you ready for this? Here you go: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Ph 4:6)

The focus of that verse is usually placed on prayer as the antidote for worry. Certainly Paul encourages you to pray about about everything. However, there is more to worry-free living than just prayer. Lete me explain.

By isolating verse 6 and 7, I have been guilty of missing the fundamental reason behind such a ridiculous-pie-in-the-sky sounding statement such as “do not be anxious” or “Don’t worry about anything.”

Read the verse in context and see if you see what I mean. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything…” Did you see it? Ancient commentators like John Chrysostom would read verse 5 and 6 as one verse, not two separate verses. So it would read “The Lord is near. Have no worries.”

And that my friends is the secret to worry-free living. Recognize the presence of the Lord. That’s right…the main reason we don’t have to worry is because the Lord is near. Now, if you are worried then talk with him about that.

So there you go. Enough said.

 

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