Are You a Blessing in Disguise?

custom drumsticksAre you getting bored with your life? What about your job? Are you making a difference in the lives of those around you with what you do on a daily basis?

You may not have the right answers to those questions and feel like your life is average without having an impact on others.

Each year during the Christmas season, I ship out hundreds of packages with personalized drumsticks from www.CustomStix.com. After a while it can get mundane and boring. Tube, sticks, receipt, shipping peanuts, tape, repeat, etc… It becomes like an assembly line.

I had allowed myself to fall into that trap the other day until I was pleasantly surprised by a letter I got from the contact form on this site. Talk about a renewed focus. I was brought to tears by the words of a man who was impacted by a connection made with something as simple as a pair of personalized drumsticks.

May I never forget how God uses even the small things in life to bring about His plan in the life of others.

Don’t loose heart while doing what you do. Be faithful in the little things and God will bless you in much.

Here is the letter: (personal info has been changed)

_______________________________________________

Hi Mr. Jones!

 My name is David Wilson and I’m writing to you from Orlando, FL, on a whim of inspiration. As a drummer (former?), I came across your customstix website to purchase a pair of cool sticks for my son, Christopher, age 10 – the light of my life – who is just beginning his adventure into the world of drumming, percussion and 5th grade band. I love every second of it.

I came to your site for a pair of sticks, watched video, heard (and felt) your message, ended up here in on your personal site, read, listened and watched some more. What I have come out with may have just changed my life for the better. Not sure how yet, though. One cannot describe the sum total of life’s experiences in one email, but I discovered something too important to ignore and felt that I wanted to share it with you: it’s never too late apparently. I spent most of life in a spiritually-rich manner (trying, anyhow), but over the recent years I have become spiritually-poor, lacking faith and all but given up on there being any more meaning in life other than living for my son while my marriage gets weaker and everything else goes nowhere.

Suddenly, I’m listening to you, speaking as a drummer, and something clicked. I can’t give up, and I’ve been going about it all wrong. My faith is still inside me, and I have this beautiful boy, and opportunities are there if I tap back into my motivation, energy and go do something about it. It’s not too late. In fact, it’s time to put my faith back in God, take a new walk, and get rid of the negative thinking. I want to make my life happen again, make it even better for my son and wife if not just for these simple reasons. I want to believe again, and your life and work represented that to me.

All because of a pair of new drumsticks that I await in the mail. I guess I just wanted to say thank you for something I’m not even sure of yet, but it’s there.

Thanks again. Can’t wait till I get the new sticks, and seeing my son’s face as he opens them – and as he sees the look on my face with a spirit of renewed energy.

I can’t give up now. Look what I have in front of me.

Have a blessed Christmas,

David

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Wow! Did I mention how that made my week? I have a renewed vision for the future and it is my prayer for you as well. I pray you will realize that God is using you in the lives of those around you in ways you can never imagine. Don’t give up. Keep doing what you are doing and I pray that God will give you a glimpse of the impact of your life.

Question:

Have you ever been encouraged by someone you had no idea was watching and listening? Share your story in the comments below. I would love to hear and so would others.

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Men, remember this one thing…

fatherMen, remember this one thing today…Before you are a preacher, a teacher, an engineer, a volunteer, an entrepreneur, an accountant, a CEO, a President, a Vice-President, a Fireman, a Policeman, a coach, a musician, or anythings else you do, you are first a husband and a dad.

Your family won’t care what you did for others if you forsake them while pursuing your own passion. Do all you can to be the best you can possibly be, make as much money as you can so you can be a blessing to others and climb as high as you can. But don’t forget this one thing. You are first and foremost a Husband and a Dad. That is what it’s all about. That is what you will be known for when others talk about you at your funeral.

Don’t give up what you have for something that won’t last.

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A Letter to Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus

Gone are the days of me cranking up the songs “Baby” and “Pumpin’ Up the Party” with the windows down in my Honda Minivan. I still long for the days of singing at the top of our lungs to both of those songs, but I can no longer bring myself to support them anymore. With impressionable 5 and 9 year old daughters to answer for, I have to be extra careful in the choices I make.

I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to start a career in your teens with a fan base primarily made up of children under 13 only to have ambitions of being taken seriously as a “professional” and “relevant” artist. I know it’s frustrating to be perceived as a child entertainer that doesn’t have anything to contribute in the “real world” of the music industry.

However, I wish you had realized that those children were not the ones buying your music and merchandise, it was their parents. I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” That is truer than you can imagine. Based on recent photos I’ve seen and public actions of both of you, I have completely removed the option for any of your music to be an influence on my children’s lives.

If you had stayed the course and continued to be “relevant” in the life of a preteen, you would have maintained your foundation on which you could have made a gradual transition to actually being a “relevant” adult artist, however, you completely went off the deep end with your latest material.  My whole family loves the song “The Climb” and I think that is a great example of growing into an adult artist. I only wish you had chosen to stay on that path.

I want you to take a few steps in my shoes as a dad who longs for wholesome entertainment that’s not limited to The Wiggles or Dora The Explorer. I wish I could give my daughters a Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber cd and not have to worry about whether the content was going to compromise my beliefs and standards that are appropriate for someone their age. If that were the case, I promise you the cd purchase would only be the tip of the iceberg.

As any parent knows who has had a child latch onto something, the sky is the limit when it comes to supporting them and their interest. Both of you have had tremendous success in this area in the past, but are slowly experiencing the backlash of disappointed consumers who don’t want to continue in supporting an artist who no longer supports them.

If you don’t stop going in the direction you’re headed you will end up like Britney Spears, or worse, Michael Jackson. My heart breaks for you because of the pressure you are under, but it also breaks for your parents who are probably heartbroken with the choices you’ve made. Justin, it seems like yesterday when your mom was sharing about the amazing future ahead. It’s very sobering to think about it now.

Miley, I can’t even let my daughter see a recent photo of you for fear of what she will see that she has never seen before and want to ask a million questions that she is not ready to have answered.

You can make a choice today that will change the course of your future and impact the lives of millions. Most people’s number one struggle is money and a lack of it. That is certainly not the case for you all. With that in mind, why don’t you stop focusing on “finding yourself” and “doing what YOU want to do” and focus on how blessed you are and how powerful you can be to bring about positive change in other people’s lives. Your argument might be that no one has ever done it before. I want to encourage you to be the first to do it. NOTHING great was ever accomplished that did not require faith and sacrifice. 

The next time you create a song in the studio or star in a movie, think about how you are impacting the future and those who look up to you as a role model. Don’t live this life thinking only of yourself. You have been given a tremendous gift, don’t squander it. You were created for so much more!

Signed,

The dad of these two former fans,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Have You Ever Settled For This?

Have you ever observed someone doing something truly great? If you’ve ever watched professional sports, then the answer is certainly yes. Think about how many little league players start the season off with a dream of one day playing in the big leagues, yet easily less than 1% of them ever make it. Why do you think this happens? You might say that many of them were never cut out for the pros. But what about the others who are clearly talented and have an actual chance at making it? I have found the difference is summarized in a few short sentences.

  • One player keeps trying when others give up.
  • One player gets up when others stay down.
  • One player stays late when others leave early.

I’m not a huge sports fan but the above illustration paints a vivid picture we can all learn from.

I’ve observed these same actions in my own life in the choices I often make. I daily face the choice of doing what most people do versus doing what is rarely done.  I can choose what is easy or I can choose what is hard. Most of these decisions revolve around time management. Time management is one of the hardest areas to gain control of because our time is the most valuable possession we have.  

My greatest struggles often involve things like scanning Facebook, watching T.V, lounging on the sofa and surfing the web. My life is filled with opportunities to do what society says is good or do what I know is great. I could easily write a short essay on why scanning Facebook is good, watching T.V is educational, sitting on the sofa is sometimes needed and surfing the web is beneficial, but when the day is over I usually reflect on what I should have done rather than what I did. Regardless of how you define success, I have found that what you do with what you have will determine your level of greatness. You can’t settle for good.

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When I wake up in the morning I have to remind myself that I have to hire myself each day for the job I was created to do. That is a huge task. If you don’t realize that you’re ultimately working for yourself, you will never do anything out of the ordinary. If I realize that I am competing against myself, then and only then will I excel to the level I want. Otherwise, I only achieve the level that others place before me. And who wants to do that. That is what most people do. Remember, you don’t want to be like most people, do you?

If we are to live a life that is pleasing to God, we are going to have to make sacrifices. We can’t take the easy road and we can’t do what everyone else does. We can’t do what is average and we certainly can’t be normal. God created us for greatness. He longs for us to have an abundant life.

I want to challenge you to reach farther than you have ever reached. Go beyond anything you’ve ever dreamed. If God has placed a dream in your heart, don’t give up. Keep your faith and stay strong in what you know is true. We can hold on to the Word of God that makes a promise that we are not alone.

Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

Question: What are you currently doing that is keeping you from being great in a certain area?

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You Can Predict Your Future In These Easy Steps

Predicting your future does not require a crystal ball. It only requires a few easy steps. You may think it’s impossible, but it’s as easy as putting together a puzzle. One piece at a time.

Have you ever felt like your future was a huge mystery? A never-ending continuous question mark? Understanding your role in predicting your future is vital in having the kind of life you want. Let me show you in these simple steps how you can begin predicting your own future immediately.

It begins with a picture of the finished product in plain view. After you know what you are creating, you simply put the right pieces in the right place and begin chipping away at it by putting the pieces together.

-Here’s an example that will make it clear-

Your goal is to read the latest book published on “How to (fill in the blank)”. You want to finish it by Friday. Essentially, you have 120 hours between Monday and the end of the day on Friday. So, after taking into account your other obligations, including sleeping, eating, working, etc… you realize you have 15 hours of free time that you can dedicate to your task.

If you have an average reading speed of 200 words per minute, and the average book has 50,000 words, then you should be able to read your latest book in under 5 hours. That’s a pretty low average, so you should be able to attain this goal with no problem. Even if you double it, you are still allowing for 10 hours to achieve your goal.

Now, look at your book shelf and count how many of those books are waiting to be read. Are you not capable of setting aside 5 hours this week? If you’re like me, you could gather up 5 hours this week if you would only take into account the amount of time you spend wasted on things that are pointless.

What about your home life? Do you want to add more structure to your schedule regarding meals? Exercise? Cleaning? What about your finances?

Everything we want to attain can be easily broken down into segments that are easy to process. The problem we often encounter is a little thing called “Life”.

Your ability to balance this thing called “Life” with the goals you want to achieve in life is where success is had. You have to establish your priority. This balance can be summed up in one simple phrase: You focus on what you value.

Apparently a lot of us value watching t.v. because that is what so many of us do. Remember that you are the one in charge.

  • Establish the goal
  • Set a deadline
  • Break it down into attainable task

Challenge for this week-

What goal do you want to slide over to the “accomplished” side? Leave it in the comment below and come back next week to give us an update. Remember, it’s What I Sacrifice Everyday.

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A Dad’s View From 30K Feet

view from 30K

Have you ever seen your house from 30,000 feet? I live in the path of planes leaving the airport in Mobile, AL, so I get to see my house every time I fly west in the daytime. I’ve highlighted my house to show you exactly where I live. Last year, while leaving for a show with my former band Big Daddy Weave, I suddenly realized how insignificant my place of residence was in comparison to the massive earth we live on. If we had flown about 7 miles north-east I would’ve been able to see my father’s house as well, and like mine, his is rather insignificant too.

As we continued on our journey I noticed, just 5 miles to the east, the largest house in Mobile that is approaching a massive 20,000 square feet. An incredible human achievement that many aspire to, yet still, from 30,000 feet, amazingly insignificant.

Very few moments have impacted me like that moment sitting in the window seat of a plane bound for Dallas, TX. I instantly saw the truth behind the lie that most men I know are living. We have a very limited time on earth as we struggle to do what needs to be done to become who we long to be. Most men focus so much time and energy on building their own little kingdom that they forget about what really matters, only to one day face a future of regret.

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This Father’s Day I want to focus on what I’m creating with my life and the impact it’s having on my family and those around me. When I stay “at the office” later than usual or have a “working weekend” I am sacrificing something I will never get back. I am sacrificing influence, and I have a limited number of years where I can influence my children. I’m not against working hard and being a good steward of what I’ve been given, but I want to make sure I’m focused on things that will matter 20 years from now and not on things that are temporary and insignificant.

Leaving my band was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I was gone 150 days last year and heard amazing stories nightly of how our music was being used to change peoples lives. That was a very “good” thing, but I was leaving 3 ladies at home that needed a dad and a husband to lead them and be there for them. I left the band in January and I know without a doubt I did the right thing. Bedtime, Dinner time and morning drives to school are more precious to me now because I know what it was like to not be there.

Are you filling your days with doing “good” things that have an impact on the lives of others? Great. That is a noble thing. However, don’t forget your calling as a husband and father to make an investment in their lives by physically being there. You’ve heard the old saying: Love is spelled= T.I.M.E. Well, I agree completely! I don’t want my 5 and 9 year old girls to one day have memories of a dad who gave himself completely to others while forsaking the ones closest to him.

Challenge to fathers everywhere:

Be completely there. Realize like the Reverend Billy Graham did late in life when he was questioned about having regrets. He said, “I regret that I didn’t spend more time with my family.”

What man has had more of an impact in the lives of others around the world? Yet, he too struggled and later realized what mattered most.

Addison 5, Stephanie, and Hannah 9

As men, we were created to do work that matters and allows us to provide for our family. We must maintain the proper perspective in life if we want to be able to look back and not be filled with regret because of the choices we’ve made.

It’s not an overnight transformation, it’s a daily choice. I use the acronym W.I.S.E. to help me do what I know I should. It’s “What I Sacrifice Everyday” that allows me to make the decisions I should in order to be who I was created to be.

Question:

What have you learned in life that could serve as encouragement to men everywhere to choose what matters most?

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How to Have a December to Remember

calenderI know, I know. We just started 2013. However, you know December will be here sooner than you think and you along with the rest of the world, will be wondering what happened to the time. As I get older I am reminded daily of how fast time goes by. It seems like just yesterday I was adjusting to writing 2012 on checks and other documents. Now I am having to adjust to writing 2013. The fact is, as we age, we become more aware of how fast time flies because we know we have less and less of it. Like anything in life, we cherish the sacred, and for most of us, our most prized possession is time. We can never get it back once it has past.

What will you feel like when December arrives? Will you feel like you accomplished what you set out to do or will you feel like you failed? Or will you not care? Most of us are compelled to achieve things in life. It’s the way we were wired. Think about how you felt the last time you mowed the lawn, or in my case, watched someone else mow your lawn. In any case, you felt a sense of accomplishment. Mowing the lawn is a relatively simple task, yet it does wonders for your sense of gratification. Wouldn’t it be great to have that experience in December, only on a much larger scale? Compare mowing the lawn to losing 50 lbs, writing a book, running a marathon, etc…You can imagine the feeling.

How do you want to feel in December? Now is the time to put the wheels in motion.

Below are a few tips for having a December to remember:

  • Create a list of things you want to accomplish this year
  • Create a list of things you need to remove from your life
  • Identify what is preventing you from achieving your goals
  • Put a plan into action broken down with the end in mind

Example:
1. Lose 42 lbs this year
There are 42 weeks left in the year
1 lb per week
2.29 ounces per day-This is a very achievable goal when viewed this way

2.  Read 21 books this year for spiritual and personal growth
Read 1 book every 2 weeks
Read 18 pages per day based on an average book having 250 pages, again, a very achievable goal.

You can do anything you want to do if you will only make a daily choice to do so. We are what stands in the way of achieving our goals.
Remember, you must be W.I.S.E.™ to achieve your goals. It’s What I Sacrifice Everyday.

Question:
What are you going to do to have a December to remember?

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Is Time Travel Possible?

Time MachineWhat if you could travel back in time? What if you could go back to one day in the past and relive any 24 hour period taking all of the knowledge you currently possess?

Imagine for a moment that day is today. What if 20 years from now you were able to travel back in time and come back to today. How would you want to spend your day? Buying up stock in a company based on future performance is off limits!

Would you treat your spouse differently? Would you love on your kids more? Or would you spend your free time watching another episode of (fill in the blank)?

We so easily forget the value of today and the effect it will have on tomorrow. Think of the savvy investor who sacrificed $100 per month for 40 years and now is reaping the benefits. Think of the spendthrift who squandered away every dime and now has nothing to show for it.

What about the parent who gave their heart and soul to the company only to gain a watch but lost their family in the process? It is so easy to judge them at the end of their life because it’s easy to reflect on the past, but what about predicting the future and preventing the heartache that is bound to come?

Imagine writing a letter and being able to send it to yourself twenty years earlier. What would it contain?

Practice it using 100 words or less. Below is mine:

Jeff-
Spend more time in God’s word, for it is never changing. Spend more time with your family and less time watching t.v.. Cancel cable, NOW! Read more non-fiction. Take more pictures. Start saving more and eat out less. Pray more, write more, keep journaling and memorize more scripture. Give up soda, eat less pizza, work out more and don’t sleep so much. Don’t get a serious girlfriend until after college. Spend more time with your granny. Set goals every year. Write it down = get it done.  Care less about what others think. You will thank me, I promise.

Jeff

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We can implement these changes today. NOW is the time to start, not tomorrow or next week. Don’t waste another day, but begin living the life you want to have. What’s stopping you?

Don’t wait another 20 years.

Question: what would your letter to yourself be? Share it below. 100 words or less.

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Are You in Line For a Mid-Life Crisis?

We’ve all seen it. The mid-forties man who trades in his family for a new woman, new children, new car, new wardrobe and a new conscience. Usually she’s a giant step down in character from his current wife, but he’s too blind to see it in spite of the obvious signs. He’s bored at work, feeling like his contributions don’t matter. He looks in the mirror one day and asks the question, “Is this all there is to life?” and decides to do something drastic, something different, something that is for him.

Why does this happen? People ask, “What was he thinking?” Everyone can see the destruction going on except him. He’s tired of living the same boring existence day to day and not having anything to show for it that he feels amounts to anything of significance. When looking at his life so far, he sees a life lived for others and he realizes his time is slipping away. When he checks the calendar, he’s reminded that he’s spent over half of his life doing the same thing with little to show for it. So, he makes a change, leaving a trail of destruction in his path.

Sound familiar? Know anyone who has done that? Chances are you do. This scene is all too familiar. Countless families are torn apart because of a lack of significance. You may ask, “What does significance have to do with it?” I believe it has everything to do with it. The problem isn’t the decisions he made, in spite of his lack of wisdom, the problem is his method of measurement. He was measuring his life with a broken ruler. Instead of placing value on things that matter, he valued the things that are fleeting. Spending 5 minutes flipping channels will tell you what the majority of this world values in life. Look where it’s gotten them.

Do you feel significant? Is your current life going to be one that you can feel proud of? If not, you may want to replace your ruler. Below are a few ideas to help you realign your thoughts with a different definition.

  • If you are married, you are called to be a servant. (according to society, it’s all about getting what we want) Remember the words of the great Zig Ziglar: “You can have everything you want in life, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” This applies to all relationships.
  • If you are a parent, you are called to physically be there. Don’t forget, you are an instant leader. You have a built in audience ready to follow where you lead. Are you taking advantage of that or casting it to the side?
  • If you want to leave a legacy and be significant, be faithful in the little things. Think of the funerals you’ve attended where someone shared the memories of one who died. They usually speak of the common things in their life. “He was such a good man, he was so kind, or he was always there for me, etc…is more commonly shared than, “He was such a great business man, etc…”

How many people do you know who want to be someone other than who they are? How many people do you know who would love to have someone else’s life? Why? Because they often don’t feel like their life matters. Remember, Every little thing you do matters. Every single decision. Regardless of whether you think so or not, it does. You have the power to influence those around you whether you are tucked away in a cubicle for 8 hours a day or stuck in the suburbs with a wife, 2.5 kids and a 30 yr mortgage with a boring Ford.

Stop focusing on things that don’t matter. Open your eyes to those seemingly mundane, boring things in life and know that life is what you make it. You can’t trade in one set of problems for new ones because they will all become the same. It’s all about perspective.

Are you significant? Yes you are, whether you feel like it or not. Don’t throw it all away. You will spend a lifetime trying to fix the past.

Question: Do you have any words of wisdom for someone struggling with feeling significant?

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Is Your Spending Out of Whack?

Over the weekend my family and I went to the mall and I noticed the coffee cup I bought was a little pricy. With our 20% off coupon, it was about $12.50. I found myself baulking at the price and thinking it was a little much. Then I remembered we were about to head over to Starbucks for an afternoon snack where I would gladly spend $4.85 on a beverage I would devour in 20 minutes. This drink cost roughly one-third that of the coffee cup I will likely drink out of for a minimum of 1000 times. We often squirm at the thought of making an investment that will last and instead are willing to invest in things that will quickly fade. Where is the logic in that?

I’ve heard it said many times you can tell a lot about someone by looking at their spending habits. Whether you believe it or not, besides your time, money is probably the most important thing in your life. Before you deny it, think about this idea first. Time is limited to 24 hours per day. If we remove the time we spend sleeping, we have what’s left to do with as we want. We spend the vast majority of the remaining time doing things in exchange for money. Unless you are independently wealthy, you would not be getting up in the morning and going to work everyday for free. You do it in exchange for money that in return allows you to pay for life and all of it’s many expenses. Because your time is the most valuable thing you posses, by spending the majority of your time on work in order to pay for life, in essence, money appears to be the most important thing to you. We don’t like saying it, but it is more true than we like to believe. So, how we spend our money is very important. It tells us what we value.

Remember the days of paying $29-$59 for a video game you would play 500 times or more? I remember buying a PS 2 game for $39.99 that I valued and played almost daily. It costs a lot and I valued what it brought me: countless hours of entertainment. What about now? Most people balk at spending $4.99 for an app on their phone that they will play 1000 times or more. I have a friend who is a Real Estate agent who, based on her online stats, has played a particular game over 16,000 times. Wow! That is another blog post all together.

With that being said, do you think about what it costs you in regard to your time when you purchase an item? Most of us don’t. Dan Miller of 48Days.com taught me about making an investment in myself and my family. How many times have you not been willing to buy a book that could change your future based on the information inside, but been more than happy to shell out the same amount on a night at the movie for a ticket and concessions that will be gone in 2 hours? What about buying a song for $.99 you will listen to 300 times? What about going to a conference that could boost your income by 50%? It might cost $500 to go, yet we fail to see the impact because it in not immediate. We would rather spend the $500 on cable t.v. or going to the movies with concessions, Starbucks, etc…?

*****Place value on that which is valuable.

Question: Have you ever found yourself in this trap? (I am constantly having to question my habits. My biggest struggle is eating out too much. I will pay $15 for a meal, yet hesitate when buying a book. Solution? I could easily eat at home more, saving about $12, thus paying for the book.)

 

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