A simple request…


…Is not always so simple, is it?

Too many of us grew up with and are still surrounded by a culture that glorifies success against all odds over the testimony of human survival… A culture that exalts greed and competition… Efficiency at the expense of joy… Strength in the face of vulnerability destroyed.

The reality is, we always have everything we will ever need at our fingertips, we just have to unlock and access it.  If you struggle with believing that, the world can seem like a very unforgiving, callous, battleground.  Asking for anything in that realm rightly seems like an insurmountable challenge.

The truth is, when you know everything is at your fingertips, asking is not begging, it is a selection.

A choice.

With a spirit of abundance, a request isn’t a desperate plea for help at any cost.

It is an invitation to meet your preference.

Which means not everything will.  Just like you don’t choose every thing.

Which means there’s no such thing as rejection, only a handy self-selection you don’t even have to orchestrate.  That means your choice has power.

Your requests do as well.

The next time you go to ask for something and it seems hard, think of it as an exclusive invitation to a special moment with an invaluable, unique, inimitable creation:

You.

Request

13 tips for living a purposeful life.


An acquaintance recently asked for 13 tidbits of advice to share with their daughter for her thirteenth birthday.  It was a wonderfully thoughtful gift, and as I sent the lengthy message, I realized these 13 tips are pretty universal, and decided to post them here.

Enjoy!

1. You are more powerful than you’ll ever know. Your life matters, and you are a leader. Every little moment you think no one is paying attention, as well as the incredible milestones you’ll accomplish, will impact someone. Never worry about whether you’re deserving, or significant. Focus instead on how to lead, and on what you stand for. Because of your power, learn to be gentle. Learn to be kind. Learn to be loving. In every scenario.

2. Looking good is about being healthy, well-cared for, stylish, intentional, and appropriate. Own your appearance and trust your style, and how that will change. If you don’t know ask for help.

3. Others will try to tell you what your sexuality is, what it means, what you should do with it. You, and your body are not a toy for others to lust after or desire. Your first understanding of your sexuality should never be imposed on you by a crush, or media, or anything outside of you. Understand, and never forget, you own your body, your feelings, thoughts, actions and ideas just like you own your identity. Sex is not just an activity. It’s a deep spiritual act designed to bond two people together for life. Don’t be afraid to say no to things that seem weird or uncomfortable to you. That doesn’t make you a prude, or sheltered, or anything but clear about how valuable your choices are. Be careful who and what you allow into your realm: Mind, body, spirit.

4. You have a purpose and you were made on purpose, to be whole, pure, joyful, free, true, great, loved and love. Anything that suggests otherwise will hold you back: Never be afraid to say no to it. You become like those you spend your time with, so choose carefully who you spend your life around.

5. Never use being great as a crutch to pass for average. You will be different from, better than many of your peers and it is okay to be set apart. Never try to fit in. Who you are is your greatest asset. There is no one else like you. Learn your gifts, hone your gifts, and share them every opportunity you get. Be who you really are, and expect others to do the same. They will come and go but your relationships will be honorable.

6. All your life you will develop habits. Just like biting nails, only some habits are in the way you think, behave, or feel. You can always learn a new habit, a healthy one. Keep your mind fresh by reading, listening, drinking in new ideas and thoughts that feed who you were made to be: Joyous, truthful, good, loving, pure, free, self-controlled.

7. Self-control, discipline, passion, and work are absolutely mandatory for greatness.

8. Build a spiritual foundation. Everything else will change, will crumble, shift, grow and transform except that. Having a spiritual grounding gives you a stable, purposeful life that can change the world. Be mindful when you feel strongly about something and can’t explain exactly why: There is usually a spiritual reason that is perfectly clear behind it. Learn, and know those foundational truths so you can live your best life.

9. Always, especially when you don’t feel able, honor your parents, and your family. Honor others. When you do, you honor yourself and others will do the same.

10. Don’t believe the lies about finding love. It’s everywhere. So is lust. They do. Not. Work. Together. The reality is, mathematically speaking less than .00001% of the population will be the person you marry. Which means 100% of people will not be your spouse. That means instead of thinking about the world of strangers as potential dates (which are also potential mates) really, you should learn early to live like you’re at a family reunion. At a family reunion, you assume everyone is related to you and thoughts of dating potential are non-existent.

11. You are loved. You are accepted. You are wanted. You are perfect now, because you have everything you will ever need in this moment. People will love you the best way they can and sometimes that will hurt. Don’t withhold love because of it, and don’t feel obligated to take on their hurt.

12. Have fun! Be silly, laugh until you cry, try new things, meet new people and live unabashedly you.

13. You can always choose peace, love. You have control over your thoughts, and therefore your feelings. Be willing to look within. When you don’t feel peace or love something is not right: Excuse yourself, close your eyes, pray, meditate or do what you must to reclaim it. Every major emotional crisis you will enter is about something that happened to you as a very young child. When you feel overly angry, sad, jealous, rejected, offended, or helpless it’s because of something that happened in your life before you could really do anything to influence it.

Growth: Let crumbling foundations clear the path for deeper roots.


This past weekend was quite a whirlwind, the culmination of a few weeks planning to celebrate the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela coincided with the unfolding of the trial of the George Zimmerman trial.

Saturday evening on my way to a posh Beverly Hills restaurant to celebrate one of my best friend’s milestone birthdays, the news blared with the aftermath of the not guilty verdict.  Specifically, the smugly irreverent post-interviews of the defense team.

When something terribly wrong begins to unfold, it feels like swirling, unpredictable currents of foulness.  Wherever they pass darkness falls.  As I felt that I prayed fervently for clarity and truth that came as a visual:

I saw a crowd of people, dark silhouettes only in the distance, standing on top of a deep stone foundation, with a cut away view.  The foundation began to crumble, disturbing the silhouettes lined up in a neat row, and as the foundation broke apart huge trees sprouted up among the people.  

It became clear the breaking foundation was caused by roots digging deeper to support growth.   As all this happened, the silhouettes began to tear apart from their centers, where their hearts would be and enormous giants began to grow in their place.

The quaking and destruction is not the finish, but the preparation.  

With the right foundation, perspective and path forward we can see the truth: God is good all the time, no matter how terrible or painful present circumstances seem.  

I went to the ritzy dinner Saturday and felt so out of sorts, because of the mirth and glitter contrasted with sorrow I felt for Trayvon Martin’s family (rest his soul), and those who felt lost, helpless.  Especially those who felt violently angry.

The next morning I headed to work and saw my dad (who’s also my boss) sitting in the sunshine enjoying morning coffee.  We chatted about the verdict among other things and he asked if I’d share my thoughts at the event.

I did, beginning with my little tradition of singing my heart out for a moment or two to grab folks attention before I speak.

Continue reading

Mind renewal: Living above the law, because love never fails. Love is love.


When certain political issues rise, judgment and confusion roar.  Particularly in my little slice of the world, because I’m blessed to love and be loved by a lot of powerfully vocal and passionate folks.  So when presidential campaigns loom, or media focuses on abortion, capital punishment, poverty, civil rights, same-sex marriage, or religious freedoms…  Like this past week, between DOMA, Prop 8 and the rest of the political uproar…

Folks very extreme beliefs get sounded loud and clear.   That’s a microcosm for the rest of the world.

And I love clarity.  And truth.  Loud, meh… Not one for drama.

But I hate when people turn into spokespersons for evil, knowingly or not.  Evil is a super-dramatic word.  Hear me out.

It is evil to nonchalantly say, or share things that war against someone’s identity- who a person believes they are… Irresponsibly, without showing you give a hoot what happens next because you’ve made it clear you’re not trying to engage.

I’ve been writing a lot about mind-renewal.

And here’s the thing.

Our minds are the most powerful and most important part of our life:  We choose freely, and think freely.  No one can change that.  We have to choose to change the way we think.

Until someone has made that choice, railroading your way into their life with your own thinking and trampling all over theirs as you pass through, tossing judgment over your shoulder as you leave is just what it looks like: Violent and hate-filled.

I know what it feels like to be so amped-up about what you believe, you feel empowered by your passion, free to create change with the strength of your words and spirit.  Until a very wise woman pointed out to me how misguided I was for believing that.

The world, this life and all the people in it we know and love is not some courtroom filled with hostile witnesses.  We’re not power attorneys out to debate and badger the outcome we’re hired to deliver from a jury deciding someone’s fate.

The world is a lot more like a really amazing, never-ending event filled with the most awesome people, thinkers, and spirits of all time, where we change the world forever just by demonstrating how powerful true love is.  Really.  More on that another time maybe.

When you’re tempted to show how you feel about a really incendiary political issue, if it isn’t demonstrating how powerful true love is… That doesn’t just go by unnoticed, or offer a chance for a lot of mirror-image thinkers to cosign with you.

If you’ve ever had the profound honor of hearing someone say you lifted their spirits, you know how beautiful it is for them and you.  People usually never say you bruised their spirit.  They just try desperately to unbruise it and distance themselves from you.

Why would you want to fuel the idea that another living person is anything other than a miracle full of potential?

You really do matter.

Airing out a view that maybe, means someone feels afraid to go to church, or afraid to profess their love for their spouse, or afraid to say what their real ethnicity is, or afraid to say I’m not ready to have a child…

It fuels a world that tells some of us we’re not fit to be in it.

You are so powerful.

We gain nothing by making people feel unloved, unsafe: When we’re not investing love, we all collectively lose.

This isn’t about honesty or moral responsibility.  The truth is perceived as a lie and a lie, truth to a warped mind.  When we communicate we are absolutely responsible for being aware not only of what we’re saying and how it will be understood, but what impact we have.

We’re not more powerful when we set rules and judge people.   We’re most powerful when we live as examples of a crazy love never seen before that transforms folks just because it’s so awesome.

As for the law… Our country was founded on some… Flawed principles. Among them, black people aren’t fully human and women aren’t fit to vote.

It falls to us to make sure those flaws don’t morph into ever-expanding bondage.

Bondage is the real or perceived absence of freedom, por ejemplo:

  • Telling a woman what she can or can’t do with her body.
  • Telling someone who they can or can’t marry.
  • Telling a person what they can or can’t worship.
  • Telling a person they whether they deserve to live.
  • Barring help for those who need it.
  • Living in confusion.
  • Being stubbornly blind.

The constitution is not scripture-based.  The law isn’t either.  Both are heroic attempts to make the world a better place by people, setting boundaries within the landscape of known reality.

Where the spirit of the person or the law is broken, everything else will follow.  We have to know when and how we are called to help… Or not.  God gave us free will.  He honors that by allowing us to choose Him.  He aches and suffers when we don’t but He never forces us.  That is what honor, trust and faith looks like.  We show honor, trust and faith by allowing people to choose as well.

Forcing someone, or manipulating someone to any degree for any reason is not Godly.  If there’s something in you that feels compelled to convince someone of something, or to do anything other than love on someone in a given situation, the first step should be to ask why you feel that unloving, un-Godly urge.

There’s a passage that used to drive me crazy until I realized, with some help from my best friend, that it’s about honoring choice, discernment:

Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.

How you engaging with another is your choice, and theirs.

Be discerning.  Be gentle. Be understanding. Be educated. Before taking a loud impassioned stance on a political issue, whether it’s war, poverty, abortion, capital punishment, same-sex marriage or anything else… Remember that like game rules made up by little kids, human law has always been tragically flawed.

More law can’t magically fix that.

People have to change.

Policy-makers must be driven by an understanding of humanity, of true unconditional love for those affected by it.

Laws don’t change people.

God’s love does.

When is it okay for law to make it easier for a group of people to be harmed, and harder for them to make their own decisions?  Is that okay if the people in harms way, with limited freedom are kids?  Or Christians?  How about if the group is homosexual?  Maybe it’s okay if they’re murderers, or black.  Or prideful.  Maybe if they’re women, or mothers-to-be?  Or adulterers.  Or Muslims.  Or devil-worshipers.

When you try to figure out exactly who among us deserves to be persecuted by law, it’s hard to avoid the truth: We can’t make that call.  That’s the true slippery slope.  God makes all things new.  Especially the extra-crazy stuff.  God isn’t looking for an easy deal, and choosing to make only the holy, perfect, pious, self-righteous things new.  Or saying if we write and follow man-made laws perfectly, He’ll draw more people to Him, and be closer to us.

The scripture doesn’t say, worship the Bible and put it before God’s love for His children.  Love never fails.

When it hurts to love someone it’s easier to find an excuse to justify distance than to heal your own brokenness.

We’re fortunate to live in a nation that in spite of its broken, charred roots, at least hasn’t said I deserve to be put on trial for writing this blog, or you for reading it.  No one sent me to the electric chair for having an abortion.  No one stands outside of my church to arrest me when I go to worship.

Who should have gotten to make that call?  Who’s really fit to say certain human rights are more or less important than others, more or less worthy of defense?

A long, long time ago we humans determined man’s government was preferable to spiritual leadership.

Trying to force political solutions on spiritual issues or spiritual solutions on political issues is destructive, and wasteful.  We have to know where our power sits, and be aware of how the heck to use it.

If you believe in equal rights, in freedom, in choice, in love, in God, in Democracy, or in America you can’t possibly believe you really have the power to say who deserves to be treated like a human, and who doesn’t.

And if you think you do have that power… Wouldn’t you also have to accept, that belief enables your neighbor to define your rights for you?

This is bigger than us.  So look higher than yourself, your emotion, your neighbor for the source of the message you spread.

It matters.

What “praying for Oklahoma” means to me…


It’s not always clear what “I’ll pray for you” or “You’re in my prayers” means to everyone. 

This is what I’m Praying for Oklahoma means to me. 

We know who God is. We know that no matter how much lies seem to suggest otherwise, God is GOOD. We know that’s why it’s impossible for science to predict tornadoes, contain hatred or explain miracles and release love.

We know tragedy strikes, bad things happen. And when they do, there is no way to undo what’s been done. But there is deepening, strengthening, and growth in loss and pain. 

IN loss and pain. It’s easy to think the best way to help someone is to uplift them, encourage them to see the good in what happened. The hard reality is, we have to feel hurt and pain, we can’t skip past it. Grief is like a huge tractor, digging up mountains of earthen soil in a massive disruptive effort to clear a place for a great planting to be done. We can support that by standing with those who grieve, by mourning with them, by praying for them and holding them up when their knees buckle. Trying to push past the natural healing process is like opting out of the tractor process, and bringing in a big above ground bed to plant in. It limits the depth and growth God planned to release through the tragedy. 

So, as much as we know every sweet memory will be joyfully cherished;
As much as we know every joyous moment will be tearfully reflected on;
As much as we know we will hold every lost loved one in our hearts forever;
As much as we know we will live in deeper purpose, more powerful intention, more grateful posture for every second…

We also know everyone’s lives, our losses, our walk is our own and we are here to support and encourage each step forward. And even more, to surround our brothers and sisters when they crumple to the ground and lovingly watch over them until they can stand again. We know who God is: We know God is GOOD, and when we ask we receive. We know that we are the activation points for God’s work. We know this tragedy will not leave behind unhealed irreparable scars, but instead build powerful, indomitable strength. 

That’s what praying for Oklahoma means to me.

Habitual Thinking: A fruitful mind feeds on fruit.


An old(ish) Adam Sandler movie, of all things, got me inspired to write about: Habitual thinking and how life-changing it can be to simply change the way you think;  How important rest isHow rest influences what we do when we’re not resting.

Now it’s time for practical steps.

Trust me, everyone needs to change their thinking habits.  Every day.  First of all, most of us have a lifetime worth of bad habits built in.  That means we’ve trained our minds to work wrong for decades.

How our minds work: In my high school physics class our professor had us build Rube Goldberg machines.  It was awesome.  You basically setup a small(ish) machine that does a simple household thing like turning off a light.  But it starts with a single object that goes through a series of crazy domino effects. Ultimately, the object, once it’s finished bouncing, flaming, steaming and bopping around, causes the simple household thing to be done.

This is basically how our minds work: We take one thing in to get us thinking (image/movie/book/conversation/etc.) and a lot of different things happen in a chain reaction to produce an outcome (feeling/ action/ speech etc.)  But the way we think, our habits are based on whatever life handed us.

Yikes.

So typically, we all have maybe a few of these thinking machines: Us at our best, us at our worst, and us on an average day.  Those are our habitual thought patterns, or autopilot space.  And we use them automatically, because they’re convenient and we literally don’t have to think about it.

But let’s say those machines or habitual thoughts are causing problems, like emitting poisonous gas… Or horrible ideas?  Or self-sabotage, self-defeat?

Your mind should produce fruit, not waste:

Like our digestive system, what we put or allow into our mind has an effect.  Depending on what we eat or drink, we may gain weight, have an allergic reaction, become intoxicated, energized, sick… Or healthier, more fit.

Depending on the information and concepts we feed our mind, we may become heavy-minded or react badly to the point of being uncomfortable…  We may malfunction and get out of touch with reality, have racing thoughts, or even a mental breakdown however minor or major… Or become more joyful, more at peace, clear, brilliant.

With our digestive system our organs are pretty much always going to do the same thing with food and drink: Help our bodies sift through what we put into it and pass out waste.  We have to produce bodily waste and we can’t change that.

A fruitful mind feeds on fruit:

But our minds are different.  We can change the way our mind works so we never produce waste.

We don’t have to let in anything that creates a waste byproduct.

We don’t have to turn anything into waste once it’s let in.

What we take in matters a lot.  What our mind does with it once it’s taken in matters even more.  If you’ve ever had a bad day that seems to start from the moment you wake up, or been swallowed by grief, you know exactly what I mean.  Everything, no matter how extremely wonderful it is, will appear opposite because of your mindset.

That’s what happens all day every day when your mind is wired to produce waste instead of fruit.

Rewiring it isn’t hard, but it does take persistence.

Mind-food:

The music, lyrics, TV shows, movies, articles, facebook and twitter info, people, conversations, books and gatherings we let in are all literally food for thought.  So what’s in your mind diet?  Why?  If it isn’t full of encouragement, honesty, optimism, you’ve opted into the McDonald’s version of food for thought.  It will not supersize your mind.

I know we’re passively fed information through advertisements, media, and our environment constantly but we don’t have to be.  Exercise some control over what you’re exposed to so the balance shifts positively, for just a day.  Feel the difference.  Keep it up.

The world seems full of terrible tragedies, hurt, and pain, yes.  But it’s really full of love, inspiration, joy, overcoming and miracles.  That’s not what we’re fed by the news, talk shows, music, or movies… Or even, sometimes, our friends and family.

You deserve to be uplifted every second of every day.  To be told how amazing and wonderful you are.  To believe how capable, and powerful you are.  To be fearless.  Unafraid of failure.  To be shown new and inspiring ways to be better, bigger, a more awesome you than you already are.

If you feel repelled by those things, why?

It’s just you.  You can fight it, but it’ll still be the reality of who you are.

Love on yourself.

Begin the fruitful process of changing your thought habits by changing your mind-fuel.  Then we’ll talk about making sure our thoughts always produce fruit.

Who’s your Daddy: Identity, value and self-worth.


I shared some relationship tips recently, including how to identify and deal with your worst enemy.

Today is about self-worth, particularly for men, as the world seems hell-bent on convincing y’all your self-worth is defined by net worth.  Ladies meanwhile, are being convinced we’re defined by our bed-worth or sexuality, but that’s another discussion for another day.

Too many men live with the limiting core belief that the amount of money they make, the power they have, is tied into how valuable or worthy they are.

And because our decisions, our lives are based on the core truth of our identity -who and whose we think we are- and how worthy or valuable we think that makes us, self-worth is a big deal.  The biggest deal.

So let’s deconstruct it.  What is worth, or value really?

Value is defined as the level of importance or preciousness.  That  means how something or someone is regarded, and how rare it or they are is the measure of value.  It can also mean an estimate of monetary worth.

First of all…

There is only one you and man is at the top of the food chain.  No other human looks, thinks, or is made exactly the same as you are.

That makes you one in about 7 billion.

According to the London Zoological Society, the Ploughshare Tortoise is the most endangered species on the planet.

There are 600 of them left in world.

You are rare.

Second of all…

You were created by the most powerful, indescribable force of all time in all the universe.  And He thinks you’re the most important thing He ever made.

You are held in the highest regard by the Most High.

Third.

Do third-string players approach the game the same way starters do?  Nope.  They don’t expect to play, don’t believe they matter as much and have a completely different attitude about the game.  If they are called to play, they tend to be so shocked and ill-prepared mentally they don’t play their best.  Or they’re so thrilled and overzealous about the chance they literally give it all they got and burn out or get injured fast.

Convincing you you’re worthless is the enemy’s way of getting you to believe you’re a third string player on a losing team when in fact, you own the league.

This is your life.

At what point did your account balance make you any less qualified to run it?

It’s a pretty brilliant strategy to add the layer of money to the equation, along with trying to convince you that you aren’t unique, and aren’t a child of God.  Then, even if you know you’re one in several billion and know you’re God’s favorite, if you don’t have a lot of money…

You might still believe you’re not in the game yet.

You opt into a self-defeating spiritual game of deflection and excuse:  God is working on me;  He will provide;  When I____;  Don’t despise small beginnings; He who’s faithful over little;  My much is on the way…

Every person you meet, every relationship you form, every endeavor you begin is blurred and limited by this lie that you’re not as wealthy as you’re meant to be yet.

Never realizing the truth is, He finished you before your one in seven-billion self entered the world He created for you to rule.

All the money and power in the world is worthless in the hands of a man with no integrity; a man with no God.  Men and women who think otherwise are suffering in the ways of a hell you could never imagine.

You inherited the Earth.

So the next time you reflect on whether you’re man enough, what your account balance looks like, what you will do when or would do if, think about whether He’s God enough.  What His wealth looks like.  What He’s done and has planned.

Act accordingly.