Category Archives: encouragement

Season Finale

“To everything there is a season. . . “ so says the book of Ecclesiastes. And this blog is no different. At the beginning of ’09, I committed to several goals this year. Unfortunately, in the process of juggling all these ambitions, I have dropped some along the way. Of course, I may pick them back up but it’s not long before one drops again. I have learned in life that when you are overwhelmed with all the things you are juggling, you can do one of three things: you can keep doing what you’re doing with the hope that you eventually “get it,” you can juggle with less balls until you have mastered that level, or you can just quit juggling.

I have decided to juggle with less balls. Here’s the thought process: If I drop just one ball even periodically, and more than likely it’d be a different ball each time, I fail at juggling period. In other words, I may not reach any of my accomplishments or it will certainly take me longer to get there. On the other hand, if I juggle with less balls dropping none, I am a success, albeit I am a less accomplished juggler than if I were to hit all my targets in the first example but my odds are better. If I stop juggling all together, not only do I fail at juggling but I fail at even trying; failure is certain. Rhetorically, let me ask you this: would you rather invest in a long shot, a sure shot, or a dud?

I want to be a sure shot! And it is for that reason that I am regretfully postponing my blog posts. I have been focusing so much on ensuring a post three times a week that I have  neglected the writing of my book. Writing is my dream. And I have been accomplishing my dream through you, the readers of this blog. But at the same time, the true realization of a writer’s dream, at least this writer’s dream, is publication. Just like our life here on earth is a dress rehearsal for Heaven, this blog has been a dress rehearsal for publication of a book. I appreciate all of you for aiding and abetting me in testing and reforming my style through this medium. While I am not a perfect writer (and never will be), my heart is ready. And quite frankly, that is all that is needed for the realization of a  dream. A heart that is ready will let nothing get in its way. A heart that is ready will not quit or back down. A heart that is ready will not bargain for second best; it will not rest until it has reached its destination; it will not be denied.

This is not a series finale, it is merely the end of a season. I will live to blog again; you have not seen the last of Brian Shaw. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I am taking my series to the big screen if you will. I am taking my passion and purpose to a higher pursuit. Please keep your eyes peeled for the release of my “feature film” in the near future. This is not the end, it is just the beginning . . .

Oh, and if by remote chance there is a published author who has any great advice or contacts he or she would like to share, or better yet, a publisher with some interest in my work, feel free to comment now. (LOL)

To all of you fellow dreamers: I encourage you on your pursuit. Make sure you take time to pause from time to time to compare your map and your current location to make sure that you are still on the shortest distance to your destination. If so, pursue relentlessly. If not, make the necessary adjustments and get back on the road.

Please keep me in your prayers. I am working on writing a 30 day devotional. Pray that the Lord would give me wisdom and continual revelation. Pray that he would guide my pen to position words in a way that will speak encouragement and hope to a multitude of people, not for my own profit but for kingdom profit, that those far from God may be drawn into greater intimacy with the Father through the Son. Pray that He keep me ever so humble and grateful for any talent that He has blessed me with. Finally, pray that I keep “first things first,” not neglecting my own spiritual walk or my own family.

Thank You and May God Bless You Abundantly!

Fireproof

I was looking at the gun in my hand at the shooting range the other day and a thought came to mind: guns have safety features that prevent most, if not all, spontaneous firings. Without effort on the part of the operator, like me pulling the trigger, the gun is no more harmful than the monitor in front of you. But point it in the wrong direction, push the right buttons, or mishandle it in any way, and it can become a deadly weapon.

I wish I had some of the same safety features on my mouth. I’ve been known to shoot off at the mouth a time or two. I have learned that words can be as harmful to one’s self-esteem as guns can be to one’s life. Words have the capability to shoot down aspirations, hurt feelings, and kill the dreams of many well-intentioned people. And just like the gun, my mouth is harmless apart from my own actions. Don’t I decide what comes out of my mouth and what direction my words take? If I am as careful and responsible with the words I fire out of my mouth as I am with the shots I fire from my pistol, then no one should get hurt.

Here’s the great paradox: Words have as much potential to generate good as bullets have to create danger. They can be used to speak hope into hopeless, desperate situations; possibility into impossible circumstances; potential into powerlessness; victory in the midst of overwhelming odds; life into a miserable, mortal existence; and light into darkness. Words can be affirmative ammunition to penetrate and ignite a weary soul. Words have power, the power to butcher or the power to nurture; the power to annihilate or the power to stimulate. The power does not rest in the words themselves but in the people using them.

The takeaway:

Words don’t kill, people do. How will you use your words today?

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell . . . but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. ~James 3:6,8

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. ~Proverbs 18:21

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. ~Proverbs 21:23

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. ~ Luke 6:45

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. ~Ephesians 4:29

No one will ever remember what you say or what you do but they will never forget how you made them feel. ~Unknown

What if we related the Gospel to people on the basis of how awesome they could possibly be in Christ more than how screwed up they presently are without Him? ~Pastor Steven Furtick

Manure Happens!

Playing outside at my grandparents house one weekend as a kid, my brother and I discovered a pile of dirt over a little embankment that lead down to the garden. The knoll was the perfect launching pad for us to jump right into the cushiony pile of dirt. I’m not sure how long we played in the dirt but by the time we were finished, we had dirt in our ears (and every other orifice not covered by clothing). When my mom and grandparents came outside to see what we were up to, they made us aware of the painful reality that what we thought was dirt was actually manure for fertilizing the garden. I haven’t jumped in any unidentified piles since.

Manure happens! Don’t sit there and waller’* in it. Stand up, clean yourself off, and move on. You can let your past either haunt you or help you; one way or the other, it will determine your future. These situations are not meant to shake you as much as they are meant to shape you but the choice is yours. Nobody likes manure but it happens. Get over it and leave it behind (no pun intended)!

*waller’: southern for wallow, meaning to roll about in the mud; to indulge in something uncontrollably.
I am not southern but I am in the south and “when in Rome, you do as the Romans do!”

Hallmark Mom

Tina recently shared an interesting insight with me that came out of shopping for a birthday card for her mother. After reading several cards to find just the right one, she identified attributes that she too would like to possess as a mother. In other words, she was so moved by the many endearing words used to describe mothers in greeting card messages that she aspires to be a mother like that herself, the kind of mother typified in a greeting card. Tina wants it to be a challenge when Megan goes to buy her a card, an experience where every card is such a reflection of her own mother, that it requires careful contemplation in choosing the right one, the one that most closely depicts the exhaustive elements of her mother’s beauty.

What a great ambition. This has inspired me to do the same––to be a Hallmark Dad and a Hallmark Husband. Not to fit some stereotypical greeting card non-sense for the sake of conformity, but to epitomize that which is admirable and upright; to be the type of person that could be the inspiration for a greeting card message instead of the deviation from one; to be the rule rather than the exception; to be a benchmark by which all other fathers and husbands are measured.

How about you? Are you worthy of carrying the Hallmark seal on your back (think old ‘90s marketing campaign of flipping the card over to check for Hallmark branding)?

23 or Bust

resolution

That is, the 23% Club, those who tend to keep their New Year’s Resolutions each year. About 35% break their resolutions by the end of January. So how are you doing? Have you already steered off course? Did you even make a resolution? Do you feel like it’s too late?

It’s not too late. Whoever said you needed a celebration to jump-start your goals anyway? Life change is time-sensitive. It is rarely done out of convenience but out of necessity, that is, when you realize you need it and your committed to fixing it. We don’t choose to lose weight [or enter own flaw here] because it’s New Years. We choose to lose because we’re plump and need to make a change. Who needs the new year to roll around to realize that your rolls make you round? You only need a mirror and a decision. Stop beating yourself up about falling off the wagon. Lord knows there are plenty of other people out there waiting to do it for you. (By the way, nobody is perfect; shouldn’t “Mr. Negativity” be on his own freakin’ wagon anyway?)

If you fell off the wagon, don’t just lay there, get back up! If you’ve already missed your wagon, don’t get discouraged. There’s another one coming whenever YOU’RE ready. And when it does, it’ll be a better one anyhow because it will be on YOUR time with YOUR commitment––it’ll be YOUR wagon, not the party bus that comes around when the bell tolls 12.

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. ~1 Peter 2:15

Giving up is what makes defeat permanent. ~Stacy Allison, first American woman to climb Mt. Everest

You can’t go back and make a new beginning, but you can start today and make a new ending. ~Unknown

A bend in the road is not the end of the road. . . unless you fail to make the turn. ~Unknown

And our assignment for the day is to permit the courage of Christ to override the condemnation of the critic. ~Steven Furtick

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Practical Advice

Get the 3 C’s:

Commitment: If you don’t commit, you will quit!
Cheering Squad: To help you celebrate your victories and conquer your setbacks.
Christ: With Him, nothing is impossible! He’s the confidence you need.

Make SMART goals:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Timely

Less Is More

If I had to describe my New Year’s resolutions for this year in one word, it would be “constructive.” I want the things that I do to serve a useful purpose. That’s not to say that I’ve been useless in previous years, it’s just that I haven’t been as effective as I’d like to be (welcome to the club, right?). This year, I want that to change. I desire to be more productive in the things that matter. I want to love more, give more, save more, lose more, and just plain accomplish more. Oh, and did I mention that I want to do it all with less? “More for less”––sounds like a TJ Maxx ad. Here’s what I mean:

Less impatience, more restraint

Goal: Too subjective to measure so get off my back already! (Sorry, I guess I got my work cut out for me.)

Less calories taken in, more pounds taken off

Goal: Me minus 20 lbs. (or 5 slices of pizza per week, same thing)

Less spending, more saving

Goal: Cut my specialty coffee / dining out expense in half (my belt size too)

Less debt, more freedom

Goal: A slave to lender no longer (except for mortgage)

Less TV, more time (for God, family, and my dream)

Goal: Read through entire Bible, do not neglect my family, post blog three times weekly, and write a book to have ready for publication

Less of me, more of Him

Goal: Take up my cross daily. (And two aspirin ‘cause I’m already getting overwhelmed.)

WOW! Sounds like less leisure, more exhaustion. What about you? Are your goals for 2009 big or small . . . audacious or cautious . . . lofty or puny . . . ambitious or attainable . . . more or less?

Here’ s some inspiration from Pastor Steven Furtick:

I’m sorry to say that your dreams are too small too. You serve the God of inexhaustible, all sufficient, overflowing resource. Whatever you might imagine God wants to do through your life in your most faith-filled, bold, reckless moments, multiply it by 10. Take it to the 100th power. Double it again. Now you’re starting to uncover a fraction of the blueprint God has already drawn up.

Sometimes, under the guise of getting wiser, growing deeper, or waiting on God, we let our audacity atrophy and set the stuff that made us special on the shelf. That must really insult God.  After we’ve already seen Him part seas, kill giants, and multiply fish and loaves, we should be more inclined to push our chips to the center of the table, not less!

It turns out God isn’t intimidated by my big requests. He is insulted by my puny ones.

Out With the Old, In With the New

For many of us, a new year tends to be a time to think about some of the things in our lives that need a change or improvement. Years ago during my stint in dialysis (I did it for 7 years so I guess it was a little more than just a “stint”), we received thirty brand-new hi-tech machines at the bargain basement price of $14,000 each. Picture an ATM machine with many fancy buttons and features on them used to cleanse the blood of people with kidney failure. The life-saving nature of the machine with its electronic features make it both very valuable and fairly fragile. As you can imagine then, they are shipped in huge, sturdy boxes with plywood bases and fitted with large pieces of styrofoam. They were such that it required a large construction dumpster to dispose of them. During the process, the employees used the dumpster as an opportunity to rid themselves of some old, unused, and unneeded junk that was just cluttering up the facility.

The new year is a similar time in our lives. A time to open the box that holds new possibilities. A time to rid ourselves of the “junk” that clutters our lives and often bogs us down from our true potential. Do you find yourself holding onto the past? Do you have a difficult time trying new things or trying things a new way? Do you carry around extra “baggage” that weighs you down? Do you like your cheese right where it is (Read “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D.)? Do you have ideas in that untapped potential of yours that you have not acted upon? The start of the new year is the perfect  time to fill up a “construction dumpster” with your problems and make room for your potential. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Like Tony Little says, “You can do it!” (Think obnoxious exercise equipment infomercial.)