Devotional Tuesday – Pride

In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Psalm 10:4

Pride causes us to fear potential pain and waste our energy on paranoia, wanting our lives to make sense and fit a certain perception.  And when life, relationships, or circumstances don’t fit the self-image we’re seeking to create, we mess with reality just enough to keep the mask on.  With this man, his reality is usually more dubious and dark than his report.  He’s living in fantasy.  But just because he stopped believing in reality doesn’t mean it goes away.  In fact the reality has grown stronger and is more insidious inside him. Why? Because Christ is losing and the impostor is winning.

The solution? Accept reality.  Work with Jesus. Stop running.  When we take bold steps toward painful realities, we’ll know it is Jesus in us and not ourselves.  How will we know? It’s not our natural pattern.  We prefer comfort. We prefer safe fantasy.  Second, because Jesus did not spin the facts when there was a risk of loss or a potentially negative consequence. In fact, he leaned in harder when there was a risk of people believing fantasies.

We have all these fears of reality in the areas where our pride gets bruised. Jesus takes this insecurity all away when we finally realize that that’s exactly why we need a Savior. We will never be able to conquer pride or anything internally damaging without looking outside ourselves to Jesus.

Thank you Father, for helping me realize, you and only you are the answer.

Fashion Friday – The Fall Essentials

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Once again it is Friday! Woot!  The Boston Red Sox are on their way to the playoffs, the Minnesota Vikings have a defense that looks good enough to make up for most issues on the offensive side and the hints of Fall are making themselves known here in Nashville (despite the 90 degree weather!)

With Fall fast approaching for many and for my friends in the North, with Fall underway, it is time to discuss this years essentials for the Fall season.  Let us not waste any time!

Shawl Cardigan

No, we aren’t trying to dress you like your grandmother.  Nor are we trying to make you look like a mature gentleman, sitting on a leather coucdownloadh surrounded by rich mahogany and fancy books.  One of my favorite things about the shawl is it almost can pass for outerwear. On cool fall days this is the perfect thing to wear.  Throw it on over a t-shirt, as if it were a jacket and leave it unbuttoned for the classic relaxed look.

You can purchase the one pictured above from Pendleton U.S.A. which makes really great stuff you can trust.  The price tag can be a bit high but the quality can’t be beat.  Click here to check it out.  For something more reasonable jump over to American Eagle and pick up something for less than $60.

Bomber Jacket

Yes, yes I know.  This is a bit on the trendy side but who cares when you are going to look this good!  If you are going to need a jacket this fall, you HAVE to have a bomber jacket.  Seriously!  Similar to the shawl you can throw this over a t-shirt for the relaxed look.  However, if you really want to spice up your look, wear this (buttoned up) with a shirt and tie.

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You can check out this bomber (and others) from Top Shop for a reasonable price.  My favorite however is from Scotch and Soda and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  Get your’s here!

Henley’s

This is a classic fall staple.  Perfect for the cooler weather as you can wear it under layers and if necessary rock it all by itself on those warmer fall days or when you are play football with your buddies. Besides if Raylan Givens wears ’em you should too!  Who doesn’t want to be as bad-ass as that character?

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Answer: nobody.

Here is one from J Crew but you can also pick them up on the cheap from H & M and probably discount stores like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and Nordstrom’s Rack.

Chukka Bootshmprod

Chukka boots toe the line between rough and refined, allowing you to wear them pretty much anywhere with pretty much anything. Part knock-around boot and part dress boot, Chukkas are the ideal fall-weather shoe for anything from Casual Friday to Football Sunday. As a matter of fact I am wearing a pair from Cole Haan as we speak.  I have received so many comments about this boots it is crazy.  While we were in the hospital while Samara was being born, at least two of the nurses made it a point to tell me how “hot” those boots look on me.  Can’t go wrong with a nurse!

Stretch Denim

Relax boys!  This isn’t the same thing as “stretch pants” or “prego pants.” Stretch denim looks just like the classic jeans you’re used to, but the small amount of elastane makes them far more comfortable. Just trust us on this one, okay?  Get a sweet pair from Fidelity Denim (don’t mind that they are an L.A. brand)jimmy-1

There you have it!  Everything you need for fall!  To make it work really well, get several different colored Henley’s to switch up the look and at least two different colors or shades of denim.  It’s time to sit by the campfire and drink some cinnamon moonshine!

Tell us if you agree or not!

 

When Should You Say No To Your Boss (Courtesy of Travis Bradberry)

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Happy hump day people!  As the mornings continue to get cooler and cooler (even if the afternoons don’t) I am getting more and more excited for the fall season.  If you are a frequent reader of our blog than you know how important I believe work-life balance is not only to a healthy lifestyle but also to a successful marriage and family life. Thus, whether you are single or married balancing both is an important aspect that should be taken seriously.

I am a big fan of Travis Bradberry who has authored several books including Emotional Intelligence 2.0 This is a highly recommend read regardless of your career path, experience level or age. Whenever I see a new article he has written on LinkedIn I always make it a point to read it as soon as possible.  I have found his insights invaluable while I was debating my next career move.

Below is his most recent article on LinkedIn and since many of my readers have demanding jobs and in turn demanding bosses, I wanted to share this with you.  I have learned the hard way that balance is key and wished I had used some of this advice 12 months ago.  Enjoy!

The typical workday is long enough as it is, and technology is making it even longer. When you do finally get home from a full day at the office, your mobile phone rings off the hook, and emails drop into your inbox from people who expect immediate responses.

While most people claim to disconnect as soon as they get home, recent research says otherwise. A study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that more than 50% of us check work email before and after work hours, throughout the weekend, and even when we’re sick. Even worse, 44% of us check work email while on vacation.

A Northern Illinois University study that came out this summer shows just how bad this level of connection really is. The study found that the expectation that people need to respond to emails during off-work hours produces a prolonged stress response, which the researchers named telepressure. Telepressure ensures that you are never able to relax and truly disengage from work. This prolonged state of stress is terrible for your health. Besides increasing your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity, stress decreases your cognitive performance.

We need to establish boundaries between our personal and professional lives. When we don’t, our work, our health, and our personal lives suffer.

Responding to emails during off-work hours isn’t the only area in which you need to set boundaries. You need to make the critical distinction between what belongs to your employer and what belongs to you and you only. The items that follow are yours. If you don’t set boundaries around them and learn to say no to your boss, you’re giving away something with immeasurable value.

Your health. It’s difficult to know when to set boundaries around your health at work because the decline is so gradual. Allowing stress to build up, losing sleep, and sitting all day without exercising all add up. Before you know it, you’re rubbing your aching back with one hand and your zombie-like eyes with the other, and you’re looking down at your newly-acquired belly. The key here is to not let things sneak up on you, and the way you do that is by keeping a consistent routine. Think about what you need to do to keep yourself healthy (taking walks during lunch, not working weekends, taking your vacations as scheduled, etc.), make a plan, and stick to it no matter what. If you don’t, you’re allowing your work to overstep its bounds.

maxresdefaultYour family. It’s easy to let your family suffer for your work. Many of us do this because we see our jobs as a means of maintaining our families. We have thoughts such as “I need to make more money so that my kids can go to college debt-free.” Though these thoughts are well-intentioned, they can burden your family with the biggest debt of all—a lack of quality time with you. When you’re on your deathbed, you won’t remember how much money you made for your spouse and kids. You’ll remember the memories you created with them.

Your sanity. While weCTivGgYUsAAz9lF all have our own levels of this to begin with, you don’t owe a shred of it to your employer. A job that takes even a small portion of your sanity is taking more than it’s entitled to. Your sanity is something that’s difficult for your boss to keep track of. You have to monitor it on your own and set good limits to keep yourself healthy. Often, it’s your life outside of work that keeps you sane. When you’ve already put in a good day’s (or week’s) work and your boss wants more, the most productive thing you can do is say no, then go and enjoy your friends and hobbies. This way, you return to work refreshed and de-stressed. You certainly can work extra hours if you want to, but it’s important to be able to say no to your boss when you need time away from work.

Your identity. While your work is an important part of your identity, it’s dangerous to allow your work to become your whole identity. You know you’ve allowed this to go too far when you reflect on what’s important to you and work is all that (or most of what) comes to mind. Having an identity outside of work is about more than just having fun. It also helps you relieve stress, grow as a person, and avoid burnout.

Your contacts. While you do owe your employer your best effort, you certainly don’t owe him or her the contacts you’ve developed over the course of your career. Your contacts are a product of your hard work and effort, and while you might share them with your company, they belong to you.

Your integrity. Sacrificing your integrity causes you to experience massive amounts of stress. Once you realize that your actions and beliefs are no longer in alignment, it’s time to make it clear to your employer that you’re not willing to do things his or her way. If that’s a problem for your boss, it might be time to part ways.

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Bringing It All Together

Success and fulfillment often depend upon your ability to set good boundaries. Once you can do this, everything else just falls into place.

What do you do to set boundaries around your work? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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Devotional Tuesday – Be a Sheepdog

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{Editor’s Note I sure hope you are not one of those people who believe evil only exists inside the hearts and minds of men.  In our devotional for today the author talked about wolves who feed on the flock without mercy.  Those wolves are not mere men or women. I can tell you from experience they are demons.  I have seen with my own eyes a demon.  Not a demon in a person, but an actual demon who carried itself as a dark cloud.  I watched it drift into an open window, float around the room looking for its target and then suddenly take flight under a bathroom door where a very dear friend of mine was struggling with some of the worst news a person can possibly receive.  It was at that very moment, she would tell us later, she had thoughts of killing herself.  She was not predisposed to depression but rather had this thought come over her in a split second.  Thankfully, she had enough of the warrior spirit (or Sheepdog) to fend off the attack.  She now has an amazing family and from what I can tell truly loves her life.  

Don’t let Satan fool you into believing that evil doesn’t exist.  He prowls around like a lion waiting to bounce on us.}

Most people in our society are sheep. Then there are wolves, and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy. Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy?  You better believe it. There is no safety in denial.  Evil, Satan, and demons are not only real, intelligent, and intentional, they are also lethal to their targets.

There are also the sheepdogs. If you have no capacity for violence, then you are a healthy and productive citizen, a sheep.  If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined yourself as an aggressive sociopath, a wolf.  But what if you have a capacity for violence and a deep love for your fellow citizens?  What you have then is a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is adaptable of walking into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia and walking out unscathed.

Identity is a choice, and alignment of will, and a statement of purpose.  An identity requires duty and responsibility to that identity. Choosing one’s identity mitigates the fear connected with the duties he discharges. God’s man is dangerous and good, an awesome combination. That was Jesus. That is us.

God’s man is not out to win popularity contests among the sheep.  He’s bent on one thing: dispossessing the wolf of his ability to harm the sheep.

Father, Thank you have called me to be a protector, a sheepdog, like Jesus.

Food for Thought: Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

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Last week I decided to do something that I normally don’t voluntarily do; I went golfing after work.  Okay, so it wasn’t the golfing part or the work part that is out of the ordinary.  Instead, I actually had to pair up with two guys I didn’t know in order play.

Few things get me out of my comfort zone more than golfing with strangers.  I don’t make friends with other guys very easily.  There are a number of reasons for that which I won’t get into here but the fact remains.  It is even more intimidating for me on the golf course because quite frankly, I am terrible.  Even though I am not one of those Type A competitive people, I do hate embarrassing myself on the golf course.  This was one reason why I started taking lessons this past Spring.  I am sad to report my game is still languishing.  I can hit really well in my lesson but once I am out on the driving range or course it is like I become someone else.  I am the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde of golfing perhaps.

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My natural instinct in a situation like this is to be really quiet, not say much and do my best to avoid embarrassing myself with my mouth as well as my golf game.  I often don’t have any sense how the things I say sound to other people who don’t live in my head.  Thus, people often think I am upset, sad, lonely etc., based on how my face looks (resting bitch face is my problem) or how my voice sounds when I say stuff.  Most of the time I think I am being funny, at least a little bit.  It isn’t a shocker to say it takes a little time to get used to me and understand my sense of humor.

This time however, I knew I needed to step outside my comfort zone at least a little bit.  I am new to Nashville and when you get to be as old as I am, it becomes much more difficult to make friends and I need some golf friends.  Don’t get me wrong I still wasn’t Chatty Cathy or anything on the course but I made a solid effort to talk to them and ask questions etc.  By the end of the round (we were only able to get in nine holes) things on my end were starting to feel a lot more comfortable.  My golfing was still terrible especially from the tee box but it was just nice to get out there.

What I hate most about these situations is the fear of rejection (if I am being honest.)  I don’t have the time or desire to go into where that stems from but the fear is very real.  If I don’t step out of my mv5bmtcwmtq4oda1ml5bml5banbnxkftztcwmza0ndy2mq-_v1_cr030250141_al_ux477_cr00477268_al_comfort zone in this situation 99 times out of 100 I simply walk away and say goodbye to these two guys.  I knew I couldn’t do that this time.  Even if I never saw these guys again I at least needed to make an effort.  When our round was finished I handed them each a business card and made what was a passable joke about my golf game and offered to play golf with them again if they needed someone to tag along.

Now maybe they will call me and maybe they won’t.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter.  It felt good (and horrifying) to step out and make more of an effort to meet people than I am usually comfortable doing.  I have been around enough guys in my 40 years to know I am not the only one who struggles with this.  I only hope that by sharing this one experience with you, it will help you make the effort to get out of your comfort zone, whatever that is.

Tell us if you agree or not!

Because we can always be better men