Month: August 2012

What a Great Week …Couple of Weeks!

What an incredible week for Live Now! We’ve experienced both High’s and Low’s and the HIGHS WIN!

Here’s a Recap of the Highs…

1. We added online giving to the Live Now website. This is HUGE for us! Soon, we’ll add reoccurring giving as well. If you have been thinking of donating to Live Now, this is a great way to give.

2. Our monthly support letter hit the mail! This is HUGE for us. We’re praying for 30 additional monthly givers this month.

3. We’re talking to schools in OH, MI and IL about doing assemblies for them. Either our ‘Live a Great Story, Now’ or ‘Choose Kindness over Bullying’ assembly.

4. We’re talking with Churches in KS, TX, IL and MI about hosting our Parenting Seminar…’The Sacredness of Parenting…Being intentional in a busy world’.

5. SpringHill Camps asked me to speak at 2 retreats for them.

6. I’ll be speaking at retreats in Toronto, CA, AL, WI and MI this winter.

7. Spring Arbor University asked me to speak at 2 chapels this winter.

8. And…I’ve made progress on our book ‘Live a Great Story, Now’!

9. A mini-van was donated to Live Now last week!

What a GREAT WEEK! That definitely won over the lows! We are praying for a GIANT miracles and for God to open up doors for people to support Live Now financially and we’re praying God to open up doors for me to speak in schools, churches, camps and conferences.

And…here’s what I believe…we’re just getting started.

I know God has huge plans and dreams to Live Now to help people live the way He intended them to live.

What do you take for granted?

I take a lot of things for granted! Period. 

I’m trying very hard to stop.

It’s amazing when you really pay start paying attention to the little things, how much you notice you take for granted.

The picture in this post is my son Zach searching through an ice cream freezer section at Walmart. Most of us could buy anything from that section and enjoy it. He can’t.

Because of his PKU, there might be 3 things in that entire isle he could have. I take it for granted all the time that I can walk into a grocery store an buy virtually anything I want.

Zach can’t. And, actually, two of my kids have PKU. Madison has it as well. In most grocery stores, outside of fruits and vegetables, there isn’t too much they can eat. We have to buy them special low protein food from a few online stores and the cost is astronomical. A few times a year, we travel to Chicago as a family and when we’re there we always stop at Lil’s Dietary. It’s a special grocery store that actually stocks the food they can have. They have an 2 small isles, but it’s amazing how much they love actually taking stuff off the shelf. This is a picture of Zach at Lil’s last year. Man, he’s grown!

Now that Zach’s getting older, it’s really hard watching him learn how to deal with his PKU. He fights feeling of anger and bitterness because he’s virtually always left out. We do the best we can to always have ‘his’ food ready for him, but you would be surprised how hard that is at times.

As a dad, part of me knows that the struggle he’s going through is good. And as a dad, I would do anything I could to take away his PKU.

He’s teaching me a ton about life and not taking it for granted.

Oh, by the way. He was searching for an ice cream product made out of coconut milk. He can a little of that and both he and Madie love it!

What are you taking for granted?

 

A Very Full Heart

I’m not even sure how to express my gratitude today. My heart is very full and I’m a bit overwhelmed.

Let me back up.

It’s been an unbelievably tough year for my family and I. I had a job transition, we moved again (our 11th in 15 years of marriage, but who’s counting?), our kids are starting a new school, we’ve been a one car family, we’ve had lot’s of car problems and we’ve been under a great amount of financial stress getting the non profit I started off the ground. Throw in some physical stuff and it’s very well rounded.

But, in other ways it’s been one of the richest, most rewarding years we’ve EVER experienced.

God has blessed us with an amazing family. Tracie and I have been married 15 years. Our kids are incredible. We have parents and siblings who love us. We have deep friendships. We have hundreds of people praying for God to bless our non profit and my speaking ministry. We’ve been blessed in ways I couldn’t have even imagined. People have loaned us their cars for trips, we’ve received anonymous donations of PKU food and people have blessed us with financial gifts to help us get through this first year of the start up.

We are a blessed family. I am blessed man. I deserve none of it. I’m a mess and I’m broken. But, God still pursues me, He still loves me, He still uses me.

Today, well, today is a day I will remember for a long time. Our fledging non-profit received a massive gift: A mini-van!

Yeah, you heard that right, a mini-van! How does that happen?

One of the biggest hurdles we’ve had with Live Now has been reliable transportation. I’ve missed a lot of opportunities to travel to meet with schools and churches because of our car situation. Well, it’s unbelievable how God provides.

This GIANT blessing gives me  a chance to not have to worry how I will get to speaking engagements or fundraising opportunities. Every trip to date, God has provided someone who let me borrow their vehicle to use and it’s been a huge blessing. But, it’s also provided a bit of stress figuring out who to ask and how to ask and how to pick their car and all that.

My heart is full. It’s overwhelmed. It’s broken. It’s thankful. It’s grateful.

In the words of Bob Goff…”Love Does”

The Answer We’re Looking For…

Is in the Church.

I believe passionately that the LOCAL CHURCH must get involved and do something about Bullying! The Church teaches God’s word and the reality is, the answer to bullying is in God’s word!

The Church must address it and help bring an end to Bullying!

I was running on Easter morning and I ran by the first Church that I worked at…Covenant Community Church, in Redford, MI. Memory after memory began to swell within me of all the great people and students I was blessed to serve with at Covenant. Covenant has always had a sign right by the street that they advertise on or put a fun or serious inspirational quote on. I don’t remember what the quote was as I ran by, but a giant thought hit me as I looked at the sign and it ALMOST KNOCKED ME OVER.

I believe the thought and vision was from God and it came at the exact moment I was praying for favor from God with schools and with administrators and I believe He laid a new dream and vision on my heart!

Here’s the vision and dream….

I believe He’s called me to wake up the local Church to do something about bullying! 

I believe He’s laid a dream and a vision on my heart to go to as many Churches, Student Ministries, College Ministries, and Family Ministries that I possibly can and URGE them to do something and make it a priority to teach the second half of the great commandment…“love your neighbor as yourself”. I know many Churches do teach the great commandment, but I think the Church just doesn’t talk about our relationships enough.

The reality is…bullying can end with one person’s decision at a time to treat others better. I believe that’s true. When we begin loving each other as Christ loves the Church, bullying will end. So, I’m asking the Church to do something about it. I’m asking the Church to rise up and bring hope to students to parents and to schools.

I just personally believe the “Church” spends so much time, energy and resources on people who are far from our backyards. I know it is unbelievably important to help those in need in other parts of the world, but when we ignore our kids, students and our college students in our own backyard, that’s when I believe times have to change.

Here’s are some ways the Local Church can bring an end to Bullying…

1. Invest ridiculous amounts of financial resources in its children’s, students, college students and adult small groups. Period! This is where I personally believe a giant amount of resources should be directed by the church budget. I’m all for supporting mission work, but not at the expense of our kids.

2. Teach the words of Jesus…”love one another”. I mean, really teach people and students how to Love each other. Teach what love is and then teach it again and again.

3. Address Bullying. Remind God’s children of our calling, our task, and our mission to LOVE. It’s not to bully, it’s not to be petty, it’s not to talk about each behind backs…it’s about to LOVE. We need to teach people how to treat each other from the words of Jesus.

4. Support our schools and organizations trying to help the schools. Every year North Coast Church in San Diego takes a weekend off from their services and head into schools and does an amazing amount of work for them! It’s an absolutely amazing initiative and they have absolutely blessed their community. We must do more things like this! I think the Church should also support organizations like Kid’s Hope and Live Now and send them into schools to be an ambassador for Christ.

5. Be available for Schools. Schools need help, why can’t we encourage people from our church to volunteer? Or offer our buildings for schools to use for free. Why do we have to charge schools?!? I know many Churches that host graduations and charge schools, why??? We can also ask what they need and SUPPLY it. I know teachers who are writing grants to hopefully get technology needs for their classrooms. Why can’t the Church provide those? Churches spend so much money feeding their own, why not feed families at schools or bring snacks and treats and gifts to teachers. There are so many opportunities to give!

6. Pray. We must pray! We must ask God to end bullying. We must ask God to give our students courage to face bullying and our parents strength to teach our kids to end bullying. We must pray for God’s favor with schools and for trust to be built with school administrators. There is absolutely no reason that Schools and Churches can’t co-exist and help each other. We have to stop putting up walls. We need to start reaching out and thinking of kids.

The local Church must do something.

We can’t sit by the sidelines and let the ‘experts’ be the only ones to deal with this issue. Let’s end bullying!

My Rules for Relationships

Yesterday I wrote about my rules for facebook.

Today, I thought I would write about my rules for relationships.

I believe I am in the relationship business. Actually, I believe every human on planet earth is in the relationship business. We were created to share our lives with each other. Our DNA is hard wired to be connected to other people. I know people who hate other people and try to stay far away. I know people who have been so burned by relationships that they avoid them like the plague. That’s just not the way. If you refuse to forgive those who have hurt you and you continue to seclude yourself from human contact, you’re basically asking for pain to come your way.

Refusal to forgive + seclusion = Pain. 

Here are my (developing) Rules for Healthy Relationships

1. Don’t miss a chance to encourage. Too often we get a thought to encourage someone and we let it pass right by. Can’t do that. I try to send hand written cards as much as I can, comment on their facebook page, text them and tell them face to face.

2. Treat their kids like gold. I learned this from my boss at Willow Creek, Scott Rubin. I’ve never had a boss/friend treat my kids as incredible as Scott did. He went way out of his way to care for them. I learned a ton from him. I want to build trust with my friends kids and treat them like gold.

3. Pray for them. Not just in my prayer closet of journal but on the phone and when we’re together. I learned this lesson from my mentor, Kevin Winnigham. Kevin never misses a chance to pray for me! It means the world to me.

4. Make everything better. My friend Robin Perko has taught my family and I this lesson time and time again. She brings so much energy, passion and life to relationships. She goes the extra mile to make everything better for her friends and family.

5. Don’t ask, offer. Too often, we know in our spirit that our friend needs help and it’s too hard for them to ask. Well, just offer. As Bob Goff says…”Love Does“.

6. Be fully present. I had the privilege of working with someone who taught me this at a whole new lever. My friend Leah Gleason taught me and showed  me how to let go of the distractions, so I could concentrate on being fully present.

7. Believe the best. Life’s too short to play relationship games and second guess everything. I know I have been hurt many times by relationships, but I’ve learned to just believe the best about people.

8. Remember the details. This is one of my passions in life. I want to remember the tiny details of people’s lives. It starts with learning their names, their kids names, what they do, what they love, their birthday, and their favorites.

9. Don’t disappear when their worlds falling a part. I’ve been through a lot in my short almost 37 years on planet earth. What I’ve learned is that most people disappear when their friends go through tragedy. Be there for them. Send them emails, messages, texts and reminders that they’re loved.

10. Say the hard stuff. Not everybody wants to grow. Not everybody thinks that their friends should help them grow. But, I’ve found, once you build a strong relationship with someone you need to say the hard stuff…to help them, to pull them out of their rut and to love them.

I’m probably missing a ton of stuff.

What would you add?