If you were a rocker in the 70’s you probably well know the band KISS. I used to rock the house with their songs when my parents were away and when cruising down the road you couldn’t hear my six cylinder car valves tapping, but you could not ignore the screaming guitars coming through the rattling windows. One of my favorite songs by KISS was, “Shout it out loud!” All the kids loved to sing the chorus as loud as they could while waving their hands in the air. Quite honestly though, probably very few of us knew the lyrics or what we were truly shouting out loud about, but the energy of the tunes just drove us young people to shout it out loud even if we didn’t know what “it” was.
In our marriages we should make the KISS chorus Shout It Out Loud our theme. However instead of not knowing why we are shouting, we should be very in tune with why, and what we are shouting. The lyrics that go along with the rocking chorus should be centered on our love and appreciation for our spouse.
Expressing appreciation for our spouse on a regular basis is important. Words of affirmation are needed in order to strengthen and grow the relationship. Confirming our love verbally builds trust that reciprocates even more love between the two individuals. Whether it is paying bills, providing for the house, raising children or simply taking the trash to the street, it is imperative to recognize and express thankfulness for each and everything the other does.
Shouting It Out Loud though takes matters to an entirely new level. It is one thing to tell someone in private they are appreciated, but when those words are expressed in a public forum it is like putting love on steroids! Tell the ladies at church how wonderful your man is, watch his chest swell up and a smile enter his face. Introduce your wife as, “your beautiful lady” to the guys at the shop, you will see her melt. Take to social media to post how great your spouse is, how much you love and appreciate them telling the world how thankful God placed him or her in your life, and see what happens.
There is even a Biblical concept around this in that God tells us that if we don’t profess our love for Christ publicly that we do not truly have a relationship with Him, but it is only if and when we go public that the relationship is sealed and real (Matthew 10:32-33). Since our marriage is an image of our relationship with Christ wouldn’t it stand to reason the same is true of us?
Yes, buying flowers, writing cards and even face to face expressions of love and appreciation are important and should never be neglected. However if you want to take your relationship deeper, stronger and grow more in love than ever, start going public today. At work, church, with friends, on social media, or wherever you and your spouse interact outside of your private space. Seek every opportunity to tell everyone just how much you love your spouse. Shout It! Shout It Out Loud!
How do you tell the world you love and appreciate your spouse?
If you try it, let me know what you discovered in the comments below.
Do you ever find yourself getting negative? Spitting out negativeness about a person, place or thing? Perhaps it is someone you work with who gets under your skin. Sometimes it might be an organization or church that has rubbed you the wrong way. There may even be times when a person becomes negative and they do not even know why!
If we were all to be honest we have all done it. I have been there and quite frankly probably will again. It happens. Something comes into our life that, if we are not careful will consume our every thought and word. These are Neg-Factors that can change a person from being the life of the party to the person everyone hopes stays home. If we are not mindful negativity can lead us to a dark and lonely place with us wondering how we got there.
So how do we avoid the Neg-Factor? What can we do to pull out should we find ourselves in a nosedive into becoming a Negative Nancy or Undesirable Dave?
Here are a few ideas that help me when I am free falling into the Neg-Factor. I am not always successful; we can all go negative. Even so, if we take action to go against the slippery slope of negativeness we will find ourselves in a much better place more often.
RECOGNIZE IT: The first step in changing anything is to acknowledge there is a need for change. Whether it is a person with an addiction or a process at work, nothing changes until a desire to change has developed. Take time to write down the warning signs that you have begun to go down the wrong road and keep them in a place where they can be reviewed on a regular basis as a form of self-accountability. You could even get a close friend who you share these with and ask them to let you know if they see these behaviors, because most times others see them long before we do ourselves.
ROOT CAUSE: Sometimes we are irritated and do not even know why! We don’t like someone, but can’t put our finger on it. Take the time to analyze what it is that has got under our skin. Is it the person or something they are doing? Are they doing it on purpose or is it just something that is different than what we are accustomed? Perhaps it is our own insecurities or even that they are taking us to a place where we are not comfortable and we are therefore simply fighting against something we know is more personal? The list is endless, however it is important to ask ourselves what it is that is at the root of the matter. Again, get someone you trust to help dissect and give honest feedback on your thoughts.
REMEMBER IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU: Most times that root cause is placed somewhere in the fact that we have become self-focused. What is happening is not what we agree with; we don’t like it. The problem is fleshed out in the Neg-factor because we are not in control. Our minds believe whatever is occurring needs to change to our way of thinking and when it is out of our control, in other words we can’t change it, the first response is to begin the attacks. We might attack in words, body language, gossiping, criticizing, and even rebelling by refusing to follow or have contact with someone. All of these behaviors are signs that we have possibly arrived at a place of looking at what we think should be, but feel out of control because we can’t change it. We have to remember, the world does not revolve around us no more than it revolves around the other person, business or company that has gotten under our skin. Everyone is a player in this game and harsh truth of the fact is that we are simply a piece of the puzzle like everyone else.
REMEMBER IT IS ABOUT YOU: The only person you can change is you. This is counsel my wife and I give in almost every situation. Even in marriage, neither can change the other which is where most arguments develop. People want everyone else to change while we remain the same. The fact that we have to remember is that the only person we can truly change is ourselves. What is amazing about this is that when we change, there is some kind of cosmic magic that happens in which the world around us begins to change. When a wife or husband starts working on themself, the other is affected and a change begins to occur. When a leader focuses on how he or she is leading, their team changes. A church member begins to grow in their faith; the people around them are affected and begin to change. When we work on ourselves our perspective of others change as well. Work on you and watch the world around you begin to have a fresh new look.
REBUILD: When we have gone down the Neg-factor road there is a chance that some damage has occurred. The faith the team had for the leader has been questioned. Friends no longer want to hangout. Perhaps it even grew into a more volatile state where words and actions tore down relationships; even resulted in a loss of a job or position. If that is the case it is time to rebuild. Begin to rebuild by replacing words of negativity with positive thoughts, comments and accolades. Start building others up. Not only should we see things from the bright side, we should express them in public. Through writing a positive email or making a phone call to encourage someone, understand that your actions can change others. Build others up, build relationships; build positive environments, build, build, build!
YOU ARE THE ONLY CHANGE YOU CAN CONTROL-CHANGE YOU AND THE WORLD AROUND YOU WILL CHANGE
The Neg-Factor happens to us all. It can be a lonely and dark place leaving us all alone; however the good news is that the darkness can be overcome by light. We all have a light to shine, it is our choice turn it on. How do you shine light and avoid the darkness of the Neg-Factor?
Today I walked from the parking garage to my office building in Dallas. The streets I walked was less than a mile from the tragic ambush where Dallas officers were murdered last Thursday. For most of us headed into the office it was the first time back since the shootings since most of the area was locked down from the incident.
As I headed my way down the street I met up with some of the DPD and thanked them for protecting us. I passed an African American man with whom we both smiled and said Good Morning. I walked into the building where our normal doorman had his usual smile and a pleasant greeting that is always different, an African American. I stopped by for my usual morning coffee and a muffin on the second floor and had my usual conversation with the lady who warms my breakfast, a sweet Hispanic lady. Within the brief journey from my car to the conference room I came in contact with half a dozen different ethnic individuals, all friendly, and smiling, but also still bewildered with unbelief at what occurred just a few days ago in our streets.
As I sat in the conference awaiting my colleagues I thought about the few blocks I walked today. It was a bit different; I was more aware of those I met than usual. My thoughts took me back to a lesson a Marine Corps officer once taught me. He said, “You have to believe in your people and understand that most people want to do good. Most want to do the right thing.”
None of us are going to stop the media from skewing stories to gain viewers, promote their agenda or to create animosity. What I have to understand is that those who live in hate; those who wish ill will toward others, they are not the majority. In fact, their numbers are few in comparison. They have a platform called the media who is able to use their magic to make a bee hive look like a Biblical plague. But that is not the case.
America is at a crossroad, but it goes much deeper than any kind of #_______ lives matter (you fill in the blank). The hashtag for us should all be #soulsmatter. It is a spiritual awakening we need. Our nation has experienced such blessings and abundance for so long we actually believe we don’t need God. We even believe that we ourselves generated the great wealth and blessings we have today. Our nation is experiencing blessings of those who sacrificed lives and much more on our behalf. Leaders who had a vision for this great nation went through much sacrifice and took us through hard-times to allow us to enjoy the harvest we have had for many years now. But there is one thing we must not forget. Though none were perfect; all had their flaws, but at the root of their soul and the ultimate drive that led them to endure was a faith based on God, the one true God.
At this crossroad in our nation’s journey we are at a great place. I say great because there is an opportunity to make a change. The majority of Americans want to do what is right; they want to do the right thing. The state of our nation has brought an awakening that we do indeed need God. More call to prayer has occurred this past week since 9/11. Americans hit their knees asking God to change the course of our people.
God promises that if His people (not those who don’t believe or “bad people”) turn from their wrong ways, and call on him, that He will indeed heal their country and put them back on the right track.
America is the land of opportunity, but it is not the opportunity of wealth and prosperity this time. It is the opportunity to turn our nation back over to God. A people wanting to do the right thing and then DOING the right thing. What an opportunity to see God protect what He has given us and do something that will place the world in awe of our country once again. What an opportunity!
The trains on the TRE going to and from Dallas to Ft. Worth are limited during the middle of the day so when you have to make that trip you have to be ready for some long waits. One day I was on such a journey in the sweltering Texas heat. Even in the shade sweat was running down the back of my shirt as I stood waiting for nearly an hour for the next train.
When I got off the Dart tram to wait for the train a gentleman exited with me and joined me on the long wait. He was a tall black man carrying a white wash cloth that he was constantly wiping the dripping sweat from his head with. He spoke to me briefly at first, obviously from Africa somewhere I assumed from his accent, talking about how he didn’t like to be in the heat on his days off. He expressed that I probably didn’t know what it was like to be outside based on the way I was dressed (coat and tie). I laughed and asked what he did for a living.
I asked him his name, which was Abe, a Project Manager for a large Dallas corporation. He went on to tell me about a few up and coming projects he was working and insisted that I needed to purchase land and buildings in a local suburb of Dallas due to a project that he was working which was going to bring in tons of jobs and people. I could tell he was passionate about what he did as his excitement poured out of every word he spoke.
In the conversation I mentioned that I rode motorcycles, which was probably for no other reason than to at least let him know I wasn’t a total wimp when it comes to being out in the heat. He laughed saying that he didn’t like motorcycles. He had owned one once and had a terrible experience. Abe had been talked into purchasing a bike a few years back to make a road trip from Houston to Canada! He made the entire trip as his initial ride. Yes, his very first time on a motorcycle he drove it from Houston Texas to Canada! Abe was quick to express the event was far from a pleasurable experience. In fact it was so bad that once he got to his destination he sold the motorcycle to a local person, bought a plane ticket with the money and returned home in the comfort of an air-conditioned plane! It was a hilarious story, even more funny listening him tell it in his African accent.
Once the train finally arrived we boarded and sat together so we could continue our conversation. When we sat I asked him about his story. Where was he from in Africa, when did he come to the states and what brought him here? When Abe smiled and chuckled I somehow knew I was in for a story, so I sat back to soak it all in.
Abe had come to America about 15 years ago. His journey here was one filled with ups, downs, disappointments and dreams come true. It started one day when he and his family were at a soccer game in Northern Africa. They were there enjoying the game when troops came storming in to take over and began killing people. He and his family ran for their lives that day, each in their own direction. In all of the confusion they all lost sight of one another and each were on their own. It wouldn’t be for many years before Abe would find out the fate of his family. From that day forward he was a young boy living alone amongst strangers.
Abe lived with other survivors of that attack on that day in the jungle for six years. He shared how many died from malaria, dehydration, sickness and lack of nutrition. There were times when the weak were killed by the strong members of the group in order to hang their body parts in the trees as a distraction from wild animals such as lions. Abe spoke that he had on more than one occasion looked back as the group ran from lions and saw the animal leaping to get the body parts from the tree. It was their only way to survive an attack.
I inquired more about how he made it from the jungle to where he is now. I could tell from his eyes forming tears that the story was personal and emotional. He simply said, “The Salvation Army.” Abe told me that the Salvation Army we see is different than what they really do. He shared how they go out looking for those in hiding and do everything they can to get them to safety. Abe spent two years on a waiting list to go to a country who would take him. They do not get a choice as to what country they select; it could be USA, Russia, Germany or another country that participates with the Salvation Army’s program of which generally 20 at a time will go. If a person says no to a country, then they go back to the end of the list to wait another two years until their name comes up again. Abe was so glad it was the U.S.A. who opened their doors when his name came up.
When Abe got to the U.S. he had 90 days to become self-sustaining. The Salvation Army provides an apartment and food for just three months, after that all funding ends. Some end up being homeless, which is not the best situation, but when compared to the jungle and lions, is better than their lives before. It is difficult he said because most don’t have an education or a work history. He said, “People ask me for my resume and I would ask, ‘what’s a resume?’” He laughed saying it was not an easy time.
Abe was fortunate in that he had a high-school diploma which allowed him to get a labor job. The story was long, but after a lot of hard work and people recognizing his abilities, he was allowed to get his Project Management Professional (PMP) certification through the company he was working. As time went on they again saw potential in Abe and sent him to college to become an engineer.
As Abe learned skills he also became well versed in utilizing the internet. This is when he began searching for his family. His father didn’t make it out that day when the soccer arena came under attack and was killed. Abe found his brother in Houston, Texas who just recently wrapped up medical school and has moved to Dallas to work at the Children’s Hospital. He found his sister in Canada who has since gone to law school and is a practicing attorney.
As if Abe’s story wasn’t intriguing enough, he told me more about what his family was doing now for one another. Abe is the oldest so he feels it is his responsibility to take care of his family first, before himself. He had found his mother some years back and brought her to the U.S. but he said she couldn’t handle it. She wanted to go back home so he ended up flying her back not long after she got here.
Abe said he didn’t want his family to ever do without again. His role as the older brother was to help insure his family’s success. Even though Abe himself is living in an apartment he saved his money and bought his sister a house in Canada. He is now saving and his sister is helping, to purchase his younger brother a home in Dallas. After this, they will all pitch in to purchase Abe a home; he is last. He was very passionate about his role as a leader in his family. When he talked about doing these things for his siblings he had a smile on his face. It was obvious it wasn’t a chore and something he had to do, but rather something he wanted to do.
Abe finally came to his stop on the train so it was time to say good-bye. We shook hands and I told him it was one of the best trips from Dallas to Ft. Worth I had ever had. He smiled and walked on off the train. I gave him my business card in hopes of talking to him again, but if I don’t, Abe had an impact on me that day. The experience left me with some deep thoughts to ponder about myself, family and our society.
Abe’s story was one of thankfulness, selflessness and determination. His appreciation of God’s blessings was obvious as he told his story. Many times he gave thanks to God for reaching down and providing him an opportunity; for saving him from death on many occasions. He was grateful and didn’t take what had been given him for granted. He even told me at one point, “When you see those ‘bell ringers’ at Christmas, you put some money in there. They are saving people’s lives; they saved my life.”
He was so incredibly selfless. Unlike many in our culture today, he didn’t have the attitude of, “I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps; no one helped me, so I’m not helping anyone else.” He wanted to do everything he could to help his family and others with the blessings and opportunities he had been given. Even though his brother and sister had careers that will probably out-pay his own career, he still helped them by purchasing their homes. He didn’t have a scale to measure to determine if or how much he would help. His only measurement system was love and a heart for others with an expectation of nothing in return.
Just before Abe got off the train I had one more question to throw his way. I asked, “Abe, what do you think made you successful when others who came over with you were not? Why did some end up being homeless after three months, yet you made it to getting certifications and degrees. Why?”
He pondered for only a second and then looked me square in the eyes saying, “determination!”
Abe said that when he was in the little apartment that the Salvation Army had provided that he would look up at the condos that were near-by. He would see the people coming home in nice cars, eating at restaurants and living in wonderful environments. Abe said he said to himself, “you are never going to have what they have flipping burgers. You are going to have to work hard, sacrifice and not give up.” And that is exactly what he did.
Just because we live in this great country called the U.S. of A. doesn’t mean that we are deserving of what we have. We are all like Abe to a degree; however we got here we all have a choice of what we do with the opportunities that we encounter each day. Abe recognized every blessing; he was thankful. He wanted to give back; he had heart. He never wanted to go back; he was determined. Could it be that the joy people spend their whole lives looking for is that simple? Thankfulness, a heart for others and sheer determination; three things that I hope, when I tell my story that others will say about me. What about you? Leave your comments below.
Experienced motorcycle riders learn early on that it is important to keep your eyes on the road. It only takes a second of looking away for the bike to drift off into some unwanted terrain. Going through curves is perhaps one of the trickiest aspects of riding for some. Knowing how far to lean, where to push and pull the handlebars and heaven help you if you have a passenger! Most riders who have lost control have done so because they fell victim to a mis-negotiated curve.
If you want to master riding, especially a curve the first thing all riders know is to look where you want to go. In other words, when going through a curve, turn your head and eyes to focus on the exit (end) of the curve. If you do it’s like magic. The bike goes where you are looking!
However on the flipside, if you look anywhere else, that is where you will end up. Look at the ditch; you’ll be off-roading. Glance at a tree, and you’ll be picking bark out of your mouth. Always, no matter the road conditions, the vehicles surrounding you or the fear of the obstacles along the path, keep your eyes and head focused on where you want the bike to go.
The same is true for us in life. We have gifts, goals and aspirations; however distractions come. We don’t always see our way to the mark. Finances don’t seem to support the dream. Bad leaders step in our path threatening to ruin all we have worked for. Larger companies with bigger budgets do what we want to do and do it bigger, better and louder. The big deal that was going to take the business over the top falls through. You have ideas but can never seem to get much further than the shower where they were birthed. They come in many different forms, but they are the same. They are all distractions that catch our eyes and brain.
We went directly where we didn’t want to go because we stopped looking at where we wanted to go.
What is the goal you are focusing on? Have you begun to look at the obstacles instead of where you want to be? Where is your ride going? Probably wherever you are focused.
How do we stay focused when there are so many distractions? It has to be purposeful and requires training your brain. The motorcycle rider who flows through the curves as smoothly as a quiet brook flowing down a mountain, has trained his mind and eyes over time. He or she has gone through curve after curve; perhaps has even had a few tumbles in the process of learning. Their ability is a learned behavior as they are able to only glance at the obstacles and are able to hone in on where they want the machine they ride to go.
Tips for navigating curves:
- Know where you want to go
- Write down your goals
- Ask yourself, “What do these goals look like?”
- Describe them in writing and read them daily
- Glance at the obstacles
- It’s important to know what your obstacles are; identify them
- Once you have acknowledge them, get focused back on your goal
- Slowly you’ll be able to only see things in your path at a glance
- Have symbols that you can literally focus on
- Photos, trophies, quotes and other types of reminders placed strategically can help you stay focused
- Affix your eyes and mind on these physical reminders throughout each day
- Teach those riding with you to lean
- Teach those going through the curves with you how to ride
- Share the vision; teach them to ride and lean with you
- It’s just as important for your rider to know how to navigate the roads as it is you
- If you end up in a ditch, get back on immediately
- All riders know the importance of getting back on the bike as quickly as possible. If they don’t fear sets in and the likelihood of them riding again diminishes
- Get back working on your goals; ride, ride, ride!
- Never lose your love for riding
- Loosing heart for what you dream for is not what you want. Keep your passion alive
- Remember, God has gifted you for a special purpose
- No one has ever discovered their place in life without a price; there will be some curves that get your attention, but that is the thrill of riding!
Keep your eyes on where you want to go and it’ll be like magic, you’ll end up right where you want to be