Sunday, November 24, 2013

Making sure to give thanks

I can't believe it is Thanksgiving already. Where has the time gone? This has been a year of ups and downs for me. In life, it is all too easy to get caught up in focusing on the bad and forgetting to be thankful for all that is good in my life. Thankfulness is essential. Giving thanks changes your heart. It takes your heart from a place of want to a place of praise. If you can remember to be thankful during the difficult times, you can find peace in the midst of life's storms.

I know when I spend too much time thinking about the things I want versus being thankful for all that I already have my heart is not in the right place. It's funny; I read a meme the other day that said: "November...the month where people who have complained on Facebook for the past 11 months become thankful for 30 days." I laughed, of course; but there is some truth in that statement. This should not be. Being thankful should be an all the time thing, not a seasonal one.

I have been blessed with plenty, even in the times when I have been the most down. The blessings may not have always been evident to me at the time, but looking back, I can see where the blessings were. I can pick out times when the words of a friend lifted me back up. I see the times where I thought I just could not go on, but somehow I made it through. There were definitely times where the kindness of strangers made all the difference in the world. I am thankful for all of these moments and the people who helped me make it through.

I'm still a work in progress in this area. I still need reminders to be thankful, so this is a good week for this post. One day I hope I will be able to be thankful during any situation in life, but I'm not there yet. Life can be crazy sometimes, but when I take the time to focus, I do find I almost always have something to be thankful for. Sometimes I am too blind to see it, but when I do, I really do find peace in the middle of life's storms. During this Thanksgiving week, I hope you will too.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

'Tis the season...already?

I've never been much of a Christmas person. I was when I was a kid, but numerous bad experiences over the years have turned me into a bit of a Scrooge. I know what you are thinking: a pastor who doesn't care for Christmas, is that possible? I like the meaning of it all, but I prefer to let the holiday pass me by if I can. Recently, I have been working on changing my perspective of the holiday season.

Up until a few years ago, I relied heavily on my Christmas ambassador. No joke, I have a friend that loves Christmas enough for the both of us. Whenever anyone would try to talk to me about anything Christmas related, I would refer them to my Christmas ambassador, who handles all of my Christmas dealings. My Christmas ambassador is still around, but I am putting a lot more effort into turning myself into an actual Christmas person. Needless to say, I'm still a work in progress in this area.

I just don't have that deep-rooted love of Christmas that a lot of people have. So, now about why I am writing this post. The way Christmas is becoming more and more commercialized makes it difficult for a person like me to get into the spirit of things. There was a time when I could count on the local radio station switching to Christmas music on or after Thanksgiving day. The lights go up around town around the same time, and stores put out all of their Christmas stuff.

This year, I saw Christmas stuff out before Halloween. I have been receiving ads for Black Friday for weeks now. To make matters even stranger, the local radio station that normally plays Christmas music around Thanksgiving started playing Christmas music today. This is crazy! When did we start celebrating Christmas so early? At this rate, in a few years we will be starting Christmas celebrations in the middle of summer, instead of December. The term "Winter Wonderland" will be a distant memory.

To each their own, I guess? I have friends that don't mind Christmas starting earlier and earlier. It might be just me, but I think when a holiday like Christmas becomes too commercialized the holiday loses meaning. If a holiday becomes meaningless, is there any need to continue to celebrate the holiday? You see my predicament? How am I supposed to get into the Christmas spirit when all of the wonderful things about the Christmas season is being stripped away so retailers can turn a profit?

I really want to be that adult that holds on to his inner child and celebrates Christmas joyfully. I want to be that person who learns the meaning of Christmas like the folks in the movies. I especially want to celebrate Christmas to the fullest like Clark Griswold or Elf for my children, but it sure is difficult. Anyway, enjoy your holiday season, my friends. Wish me luck, this could be the year I actually enjoy Christmas!

Monday, November 11, 2013

What a week...it's time for me to give back

This past week was filled with numerous highs and lows. My family and I celebrated a baby's first birthday, which is huge in Hawaii. The only celebrations larger than first birthdays here are weddings. We spent time with close friends who are going through some rough times of their own. To cap it all off, my wife and I held a baby shower at our house - yeah, we might be crazy, trying to cram all of that into one weekend, and we have a holiday tomorrow too!

I spent much of this day reflecting on the different parts of life I was blessed to witness: joy, new life, birthdays, depression, and severe illness. The part that stands out to me is the people I walked through these events with. Sometimes life is tough, but having people that you can rely on and lean on during the difficult times and celebrate with during the joyful times makes all the difference in the world.

I am very privileged to be a part of many programs that benefit others. I work with youth in the community, serve the homeless, work with the addicted, and many other programs. It really is a joy to be a part of so many programs and reach so many different people. This week I am giving back. All of the proceeds from my books, Beyond Heights and Depths and Beyond Demons and Protectors, will be donated to support these various programs.

100% of the proceeds will be donated. You can help by purchasing one of my books. You get a book, and every penny I earn will go toward programs that benefit youth, young adults, the homeless, and every other program I work with. You can also help me by spreading the word. Tell a friend, send a book as a gift, I appreciate any and all help. If you really can't, I hope you will at least look for an opportunity to do something kind for someone in your community. Have a wonderful week, friends!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A case of the "what if's?"

Over the weekend, I released my second book. I knew I was going to have problems with this release date because I did not have time to do the promos that I wanted. We are still awaiting results on the exact nature of my son's blood disorder. His medical needs are the priority, not my book. Nevertheless, I felt I could still release my book because I at least had some experience in this area with my first book.

Oh boy was I ever wrong. I'm not sure if it is just me, but I felt just as anxious about the release of this book as I did the first one. In fact, I am still freaking out a little--Lol. It really is an amazing process to take something you worked hard on and let it out for the world to see. I don't think it is a feeling I will ever completely get used to, and I still have one more to go in this series.

I'm pretty sure most of my anxiety is because of fears of the "what if's?" What if I do this? What if I do that? What if I fail? We all know what it is like to get a case of the "what if's?" However, it is very important to not let a case of the "what if's?" get in the way of you reaching your goals. There's nothing wrong with making sure everything is in order, but it does become a major problem if you are unable to accomplish anything because you are too worried about failing.

It really is better to try and fail than to never try at all. I'm nowhere near as successful as I would like to be one day, but I do pretty well. I've made the bestseller list a few times. I have some fans. Unfortunately, a person who never tries gains absolutely nothing. Whatever it is you hope to achieve in life, go after it with everything you've got. Do not let a simple case of the "what if's?" prevent you from reaching your goals. Keep trying your best, and whatever you do, do not give up before you have a chance to succeed. Have a great week, friends!

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."  -Thomas Edison