Over the past week, we certainly have had a few things change in our lives. I wanted to take some time to unpack those changes and share what we have learned over that time. It is not exactly what we expected in our lives, however, it is definitely giving us a learning experience.
One of the reasons that we decided to launch our site was to be a source of encouragement and to be completely transparent during the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be encouraged that no matter the situation that you are going through that you are not alone in that. God can use it and use it for your good.
One of the things that I have learned during my sort time on this earth is preparedness. Though we can never fully predict when we could lose our job, lose a loved one, etc., we can prepare. Sara and I have spent the past few years preparing in our finances to be able to be self-employed if the case ever arose. The end result is to open our coffee shop in the local town we are from, however, we know that things do not always go according to plan. Though we are not 100% there, we are getting closer by the day. We are debt free with exception of our home, we have an emergency fund, and we have set goals to become more independent financially.
This is important especially in a time like we are going through. If we had not prepared, we would be in a place of hurt beyond understanding. Thankfully, we have been directed in wisdom to prepare. I have personally had a lot of great people behind us and encouraging us through this difficult time. I am eternally grateful that we have had that support.
If you have not already gotten your finances in order, feel free to contact me personally at email@example.com or may I suggest daveramsey.com to help you!
Unpacked Lesson Learned #1 – Be Financially Secure and Prepared for the Storms of Life.
It is so easy to equate failure as definite. When something comes to an end or the end of a season occurs, we accept it as our defining identity is wrapped up in it – failure. The only problem is that failure is only fatal when you pull the plug on the life support. Sometimes we have our plans that fail only to find that the plan we have is sub-par to what God has in store.
There are many quotes that I love about overcoming failure. But the one I had jump at me is one by the inventor, Thomas Edison;
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time.”
What are the things that we are going to do to keep moving forward? What are the things that we are going to do to persevere? Now is the time to move forward in victory regardless of our failures.
Every year, I attempt to place a word that I would like to identify for the year. Last year was #releasetheboom which is something that we saw in some areas on our lives and not-so-much in other areas. As I was pondering on what 2017 was going to be, I honestly was at a loss for words. Let me start by explaining.
Very few people know that I have been dealing with depression for the past year and under doctor’s care. I am getting better every day and am grateful for the support of my amazing wife and immediate family. When I first approached the thought of reaching out, it honestly felt that I had lost faith. Why? How often do we hear “if you had enough faith…” followed by a statement relating to the situation that we don’t apparently have enough faith about. Personally, I have struggled with this statement because we throw it around flippantly when we don’t really have the answer to what is going on.
What broke this for me was a statement made by author Shelia Walsh; “You don’t walk up to someone who is wearing glasses and ask them, ‘where’s your faith?’” This posed a question for me to evaluate my emotional wellbeing. With that, I sought God’s wisdom and got the help that I needed to be the husband, father, friend, and man of God that I am called to be. I wish that I could tell you that it was overnight and I am completely good to go. For the most part, I am. However, I still struggle.
While I was searching for the word to put on 2017, the word “re” kept coming up. According to Dictionary(.)com, RE is defined as “a prefix, occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, used with the meaning “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition.” The best way that I can put it is that I pray that 2017 will be is the year of “re” or the year of renewal, rejuvenation, rebirth, restoration, etc.
With that, I’d love to know what your word for 2017 is. I’d love to pray over that for you and believe with you for that word to come to past.
” And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.” Habakkuk 2:2 AMP
“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice!” v. 4
“Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.” v 5
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” v 6
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” V 7-8
I hear it coming from miles around. It’s the sound that no father wants to hear. No man in his right mind would ask for this type of torture. I know you may be perfect, but I am far from it. Folks, it’s not that I am not compassionate. I truly care about my children. I would go to the ends of the earth for them. I would want for their lives to be filled with joy. But to hear that sound, it sends chills down my spine. I know, you probably are wondering what “that sound” is. Perhaps you don’t even have to ask, because you are a Dad. It’s the shrill cry of drama. Yes, drama. “She hit me!” or “I fell down!” or…well, the list could go on and on. It’s not that I’m not compassionate, because I am. I, however, have found that I lock up and freeze when the drama ensues. I just don’t want to deal with it. Is it just me or when I hear that scream, I go into that spot in my brain that wants to pull my hair out? Again, I digress. I often wonder if God feels that way. Of course He doesn’t, but being the dad that I am, I have to wonder these things. All three of my girls have heard me tell them “quit with the drama!” I know it is in their blood, it is in their DNA, it is in their bones, but seriously?! God has to be showing us as parents what we look like to Him when we go to Him.
Drama Isn’t Always What It Appears
I found myself there just a few days ago and I caught myself before I even got started. I was done with class that night and needed to get gas. I decided to check on my handy dandy new phone this awesome thing called an app and bam! I found out that our account was in the hole. I had been diligent in balancing our books and making sure that it was all correct. But there it was, -20.10. It’s a weird number. And no, I don’t mind airing my laundry on-line. Why? Because it wasn’t my fault. No, really, it wasn’t my fault…this time. Of course, I knew that the app had been messed up for a bit so I decided to wait until I got home. It was so tempting to go into full on drama mode. However, I decided to check once I got home and by the time I got home I didn’t think there would be any use because I would be wide awake thinking about it all night long. In the morning, I checked it online and it was the same. I recognized an issue, though. The bank’s computer was charging me double for every transaction. It’s a wonders that it was only that much in the red!
Anyhow, I knew that a phone call would fix the situation. Lo and behold, the representative at the bank had said that they were aware of the issue and were fixing a lot of accounts. Where does this go in with drama? I could have easily flown off the handle, casting every word known to God and man at people, worrying about what was going on, and taken it out on that lady who had absolutely no control over the situation. I want you to catch that last part for those who call in and scream at the representative on the other end. She did not go into my account and say “well, I will just jack them up so they can’t get anything they need…” No. The computer made an error. It taught me a valuable lesson…keep cash at all times!
Whatever You Want to Think
The real lesson is this; drama only gets you so far and then you have a breakdown. While I writing this, I was working on our check book and I could have gotten upset. I have done it a lot over the last 8 years that we have been doing this. Instead, I purposed to follow Philippians 4
“For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].”Philippians 4:8 AMP
In other words, we have control over what we think. I just stepped on my own toes here so you can own it too. You and I have the opportunity to either let the situation control us…or we can control it. I was listening to a recent podcast about becoming a millionaire. I can’t quote exactly because of the language that came out but in essence, the person speaking was talking about how we live in a woe is me world when in fact when we are broke or when we can’t make it, it’s not so and so’s fault…it’s your fault! I have to agree to a point. It is yours and my responsibility to put the right thinking in our own minds. I am not talking about weird, name it and claim it, yada yada. I am talking about taking control on what you’re thinking about. Think upon the things that are … … … If we can’t do it, then why are we instructed to do it?
I Don’t Want To Hear No Drama
To put it in perspective, Maleah was walking down the hall the other day and heard one of my other girls crying about running into the wall. “I don’t want to hear drama!” Sara about hit the floor. I wonder if that is what crosses God’s radar sometimes. What would happen if we decided to turn drama into faith. Our children would certainly grow closer to God if they see you drawing nearer to God… no matter the situation. God wants to hear your drama…but He does not want you staying there.
Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” 1 Peter 5:7 AMP
God wants you to bring your cares right to the altar and drop it. Some translations of this scripture says “drop it and let it go.” I want to encourage you men, take the check book and drop it at the altar. I want you to drop your marriage… right at the altar. Whatever it is…at the altar.
I will hold you accountable…you can hold me too. Drop it…and let it go.
There is a reserved seat for you in Heaven. A place has been set at the King’s table with your name inscribed. A place has been set so that you can enjoy the feast even before your enemies. Through His Son, Jesus, God sent the invitation. I love how Jesus put it so simple for us;
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
Whenever we receive this invitation, the enemy himself squirms at the thought that you would forever be in the Kingdom of God. With that, there are five basic lies that the enemy will try to throw at you about your reservation.
Lie 1: God will force you to take your reservation. (Luke 15:11-13)
The Holy Spirit will not force you to come to take this reservation from the King. He will speak to your heart but you are the one who has to respond. He will give you the opportunity to accept. However, He will also allow you to walk away from it just as the father did in the story of the Prodigal Son. The father did not shame his son nor did he withhold his son’s inheritance. What would have gone through our minds if something like this had happened to us? I love how the father welcomed his son back with opened arms even after he had walked away. God, too, welcomes you with open arms.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”
Lie 2: You are not worthy (Luke 15:14-17)
God is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t pick one and forsake the other. God does not see favoritism in the Kingdom.
“I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.”
He doesn’t decided that you aren’t good enough to be on the team.He doesn’t hold the faults of your past to keep you out. God’s invitation for you to take this reservation isn’t contingent on the things we do. It is done by our trust in Him.
“As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
Lie 3: You must come to him clean, sinless, and fixed. (Luke 15:17-19)
God doesn’t have a dress code in heaven. He doesn’t tell you that you don’t have the right label on your shirt or the fancy jeans. He looks at the heart.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
Lie 4: God will revoke this RSVP. (Luke 15:20-24)
Imagine this with me. We are all sitting around the living room together just after singing happy birthday and eating cake. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle around when all of a sudden, someone walks in with a huge box wrapped in beautiful paper and a gigantic bow on top. They walk up to you and give you this amazing gift. You reach out and then as soon as they brought it in, the person snatches it out of your hands!
This imagery is exactly what people think about God when He gives us the gift of eternal life through Christ. However, God has a different take on it;
“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
God has given us a great gift that cannot be revoked on His behalf.
Lie 5: Everyone will be happy with you for your decision to accept the RSVP (Luke 15: 25-31).
Don’t expect the enemy to roll out the red carpet for you. In fact, there will be a target on your back for receiving this gift from God.
“For there is a wide-open door for a great work here, and many people are responding. But there are many who oppose me.”
1 Corinthians 16:9
The fact is, there will be those who will be envious of your found faith in God because there is such a void in their lives. God will redeem that. Why? He doesn’t want anyone to perish. He will use your life to reach out to others.
The truth is that God is waiting to throw a party! All through out the word of God, we see that God loves to celebrate! Although we receive his invitation, there are a lot of reservations about receiving it. Here are a few places to visit to know;
“NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. “
Hebrews 11:1 (AMP)
“So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself).
Romans 10:17 (AMP)
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Psalms 103:12 (AMP)
“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].“
1 John 1:9 (AMP)
To close, I want to encourage you to receive this reservation from God. Take His invitation and be prepared to hear, “Well done, they good and faithful servant. (Matthew 25:23)
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Over the weekend, I had the honor of attending a men’s retreat in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Honestly, I have never heard of Bonne Terre. We drove a short distance into the middle of nowhere to the old mining town that is located just south of St. Louis. With 160+ men, we joined together for one common goal – glorifying God. Being part of a Network Marketing company wasn’t always what I had in planned. As a matter of principle, I avoided them like the plaque. This one, It Works, gave us an opportunity to be a part of a Christian company that starts with God at the top.
The weekend was spent learning about how we could be better men in our homes. I know. It’s a network marketing company – we are learning about how to be great men. It was said best;
“If you know your WHY the HOW will fall into place.” – Blair McFarlane
Isn’t that true? If you know the reason why you are doing something, how you do it will come together. The first night was spent learning about the people in our company and how they succeed in all that they do when it comes to Multi-Level Marketing. Then…it was all booming from there. I will be going over my notes with you and hope that these will help you to grow your business, however, that is not my pure intention…it is to help you be the best YOU!
Panel 2 – The Take-Away from Made for More Event: 1 Year Ago
“Are you working for your marriage or for your divorce?”
Saturday After noon
“I’m just a dude. You are just a dude. Jesus died so that you live an extraordinary life. There’s a load of crap sold to you to live a life that is mediocre; go to school, go to work, work work work, and retire.”
Panel 3- What Does Putting On The Full Armor of God On Mean (Eph 6:11-13)
“God will not put you on the earth defenseless”
– Andrew Phillips
“Failure is the Fertilizer to Success” Chad Kneller
From There to Here to There
Jake Warren (Luke 12:12)
Ryan Cunningham (1 Sam 16:17)
“Am I the guy in the crowd that might have gotten upset or angry about the distraction or be the guy who caused it?”
Written in collaboration with my awesome wife, Sara
Joanna is probably one of our most observant children. It doesn’t take much for her to see the obvious – up close or from afar. We can be driving down the road and she will shout “hey! Look at that….” and we end up missing it! Recently, Sara was talking to Joanna about school and what one of her favorite things was. Joanna’s response sparked the purpose of this post.
“I like when the chef fixes us lunch.”
Chef? You mean school cook, right?
Joanna’s perspective of those who make her meals on a daily basis is that of a chef. They are not merely a cook. They don’t just show up for work for Joanna. They make her meals and they are a chef! I wonder how many times that the school cook went to work and said, “I am going to work today as a chef!”
John Maxwell said it well in his book The Difference Maker,
“You are not what you think you are, but what you think…you are.”
You and I have the potential to either be amazing or be mediocre. We can become our greatest ally or our worst enemy. Our perspective is vital to what world we make for ourselves. I am not talking about some New Age theology. I am speaking about changing our way of thinking about who we are. According to The Law of Human Behavior, “Sooner or later we will get what we expect.” If you expect that you are going to have a mediocre life, then your life will become mediocre. If you expect that your life is going to amazing, you can expect that your life is going to become amazing.
In Proverbs 23:7, the KJV says “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he“. I have heard it said best “as the mind goes, the man follows.” It is true. Let’s take this story for example;
“Writer James Agee recalled how he once struck up a conversation with an impoverished elderly woman in the heart of Appalachia during the Great Depression. She lived in a tiny shack with dirt floors, no heat, and no indoor plumbing. ‘What would you do,’ he asked, ‘if someone came along and gave you some money to help you out?’ The old woman thought for a moment and answered, ‘I guess I’d give it to the poor.'”1
Poverty, in this example, is a matter of perspective. The lady had nothing, but in her heart, she was a wealthy woman. Could you imagine the shock on his face when the old lady said that she would give the money to the poor? He probably walked away speechless! Just as the cook is known as the chef, the impoverished lady was known as a wealthy philanthropist.
As I wrap up, I just want to encourage you to change the thoughts of yourself. Even God Himself finds that you are amazing. In Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT), “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Someone who doesn’t think that you are amazing wouldn’t have an awesome plan for your life filled with hope. It is time to change your perspective on who you are!
Just when you think that Murphy couldn’t do any more damage, he decides to sideswipe you. You just can’t seem to get a break, yet there’s complete peace about what is going on all around you. I have heard it best put this way; “chaotic peace.” Recently, this is where we found ourselves. It seems like we can’t escape this cycle that never ends. But I know one thing that is for sure is that He never ends either.
Perhaps, I should start with the reason that I decided to write this. Last year, Sara and I had some major things that occurred in our house. In one week, we had our furnace, microwave, and dryer go out. Needless to say, these were not cheap fixes or issues to take care of. One may bring up the fact that we are tithers and according to Malachi 3, the one who devours is rebuked for our sakes. It would be easy to question and wonder. It would probably be even easier to doubt that it would be to know in faith that God has taken care of it all.
I had a lot of questions in our previous issues. I asked the Lord a lot of questions. I also made this statement “Lord, I just don’t understand.” Within a moment, I heard the Lord say in my spirit, ” I have not called you to understand. I have called you to trust Me.”
The response honestly took me off guard. Aren’t we, as human beings, designed to understand all things and learn them? Then I recalled a scripture that I have always remembered since I was a child. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” In some translations, it reads “and He will make it plain and straight.” This can be found in Proverbs 3. Our trust is not in the government nor people, our trust is not in ourselves or our own ability to provide, but our trust is in Him who provides for every single need according to the riches and glory of Christ Jesus (See Philippians 4).
I am so grateful that during this trial that we are seeking our true Provider. Our trust is in the ultimate Godly Dad. I believe it’s so important that our children see that our trust is in God. When they become older, our hope is that they will trust Him. Sure, it would be easier for you or I to automatically go into the woe-is-me mode. I will tell you one last thing before I leave you and it’s found in Ephesians 6:13;
“Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”
Having done all that you can possibly do that the crisis demands…stand. Stand firm. Don’t quit. Press into what God has in store for you and not what the enemy tries to throw at you.
In December 2012, my Dad underwent open heart surgery for a valve that wasn’t up to par. He had been having issues with it for many years and it finally came to the point where the doctors were not letting it go any further. I can remember it like yesterday being in the prep room and praying for him. I spoke over him that “God will give you a new heart” It wasn’t a heart transplant, per se, that my Dad would have but his heart would never be the same.
Do you remember when you came to the cross and accepted Jesus as Lord of your life? You came to Him and surrendered to Him that He would take control (or at least, that’s what you meant when you did it) of your life from that point further? Israel had this problem many different times throughout scripture. They would confess that In Ezekiel 11: 19; the prophet wrote “And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.” God would then later call in chapter 18:31-32 “find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!” God consistently called the people of Israel to have a heart transplant for Him. He desired to see their hearts turned from their ways and back to Him.
I love how God, being the ultimate Godly Dad, even gave us the instructions to receive that new heart. He gave us a prescription that would allow us to continue to use that new heart;
Psalms 51:10 – Seek the Physician
Proverbs 13:12 – The Prescription is Hope
Proverbs 4:20:21- Don’t Fail To Take Your Prescription
Psalms 119:11- Take Daily For Desired Results
Proverbs 17:3- Check Ups Are Regularly Given
It is so important that you and I, as Dads, give our children the prescription daily as well. Each day, our hearts need to be checked and the Word needs to be applied to that regiment.
Change is such a messy thing. In life, it causes the very strong to question their position in life. It will make the very weak confirm what they have feared. It will make the most ornery to become complacent. Well, that last part may have been a stretch. But the fact of the matter is that change is a messy thing. I have to be honest with you; I had to really pray before I approached the change that I wanted to make to Godly Daddy. I know that our mission from day one has been to engage our fathers into conversation and let them know that they are not alone. That mission is still a fact and will never change. However, I found myself looking at what was being written and wondered, are we meeting the core mission of what Godly Daddy was founded on? Am I reflecting what my day to day life with my children is? Frankly, I had to make a decision. Step down and close this site because I couldn’t meet that obligation or continue to write and change the format.
Well, quitting is not an option. As a Howell, I have instilled in my kids that Howells are not quitters. Yes, life is hard and things don’t go the way we plan. But we are not quitters. I can remember a time where Olivia was trying to learn how to get dressed. She struggled getting that shirt on. “It’s hard!” she would scream in resignation. Sara and I worked with her to make sure she knew that she had to learn how to put her clothes on. You ought to have seen the responses from family members. “Oh, she’s just a baby. “ or “You are too hard on her.” Seriously? Putting on clothes is being too hard on a child? Honestly, when you have three munchkins running on your feet, you need all the help you can get especially from them. I remember one of the times where she finally got it. “I did it!” she screamed with excitement. Yes, it is hard. Life is hard. But it doesn’t give you or me the right to give up.
Change is such a messy thing. It’s bound to happen even with the best of us. That change, the change that I know that we need to make as a blog is that we need to be adaptable to that change. The content that we, as bloggers, provide to you will be relevant to your everyday life. The books that we review will be relevant to your parenting, relationships, leadership, and so much more. The stories we share will be ones that will make you laugh at us, cry with us, or make you mad at us. Get ready. Change is messy…but change is good.
The problem with change is that it is constant. Change is not something that stops happening in life. As a matter of fact, change will make sure that it will happen at the most inopportune time in the most unreasonable way. You get a flat tire on the way to work as you’re running late. You lose your job right as a baby is being born into the household. You get a promotion in a season where you are ready to move on. The list could go on and on. I love the old adage “the only thing that is for certain is death and taxes.” I think we could add in that; change. There are many people that have embraced change and there are a few that have denied change, but there’s no stopping it. Change is for certain. Change will happen. We either will embrace it or we will run away from it.
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote in Chapter 3 that “for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build. A time to cry and a time to laugh…” etc. Solomon recognized that in everything there is a season, there is a moment, there is a purpose, and there is a plan. There is always a time for something to be born and a time for something to die. Change is always in the air. Change is certain to happen. How do we combat change? Embrace it.