Monday, April 18, 2016

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 22 - What Course Are You Setting?

We currently live in a society where people for the most part are wandering around aimlessly, eking out a living and exist to just make it through another day rather than living full lives.  I know this has been my lot for many years now.  Each day one of routine; get up, drink coffee have breakfast, fix my lunch, shower and get to work on time.  You know, rinse, lather, repeat.
We’ve all been there I’m sure, doing those mundane things day after day wondering if there really could be more to this life than what we see.  There is an old adage which goes, “Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.”  This statement means you are too close to it to actually see it.
I read a post this morning which said:
“This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.”
~ Chuck Palahniuk Fight Club
Well this got me to thinking, if our life is ending one minute at a time, perhaps we should do more with the minutes we are given.  This isn’t a new thought, it’s one I’ve had quite a bit; usually while I’m griping and complaining about my place in this world.  The thing is I control my own destiny; me and no one else. 
I’m at the helm of the ship of my life, and I steer it in the direction I want it to go.  And just like a real ship on the ocean, if I release the control of the ship’s wheel, the boat will wander aimlessly on the water.  Which isn’t a big day on calm seas, but if there is any wind at all, who knows where the craft will end up.
This is how it is for so many of us today; we’ve relinquished the control of our lives, letting go of the wheel and have been floating around with no real direction.  And when the storms of adversity blow, we end up in some places we never wanted to be.
It’s time we grab the wheel of our lives and begin charting the course to where we want to go instead of letting fate decide.  Do you want financial security?  Then start by charting a course to those waters.  Maybe you want to go on a family vacation to Disney or Hawaii.  Just dreaming about it isn’t going to get you there; you are going to have to do some things to make it a reality.
First things first, you have to get this before anything else. 
·       You have what it takes to do whatever it is you want to do in this life, if you will just believe it.
Regardless of past failures, or even future ones, understand you have what it takes.  And you must believe it before it happens; everything you want in life you must see on the inside of you long before it ever manifests into reality.  If you can believe it, you can achieve it.
Begin by dreaming, but then take hold of your life and start steering it in the direction you want it to go.  I won’t happen overnight, but you will begin to see changes; small ones at first, but then like a snowball rolling downhill they will begin to grow and take shape and before you know it, you’re on the course you want, and your life will then be an inspiration to others instead of one of the many ships floating around aimlessly on the ocean of life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 21 - It's Been Six Years

Six years.  This is how long it has been since my youngest son Noah took his own life.  As I sit in what was his bedroom, which is now my office writing this, I have mixed emotions.  Part of me doesn’t want to acknowledge this date in history because it is truly the worst day I have ever experienced.  And the other part of me wants desperately to share with you the reader just how incredible my son was.
Noah was a handful from the very beginning.  While Cheryl was pregnant with him, she had more challenges than with our other two kids.  Kidney stones were the bane which my bride endured for the many months she carried our third child.  Two nephrostomy bags and more trips to the emergency room than I can actually remember were part of the life we led during those eight and a half months.
I remember Cheryl was actually in the hospital because of the kidney stones and I had the other two kids at home with me the morning Noah arrived.  I got the call from Cheryl he was on the way, and got the kids dressed and in the van to take to our friend’s house.  After dropping them off, I called the hospital to let Cheryl know I was on the way. 
The nurse who answered said, “Just a minute,” and laid the phone down on the counter.  I heard another voice say, “Did you tell him?”  and the first nurse replied, “No.”  This is not a conversation you want to hear as you are driving down the highway let me tell you.  I had all kinds of thoughts racing through my head before I heard Cheryl’s voice on the other end.
She told me we had a baby, and I replied, “Yeah I know dear, we’re having a baby today.”  She said, “No.  We have a baby, Noah is here.”  I was shocked to hear she had delivered him naturally with no medicine of any kind.  Our other two kids had been born C-section, and we were told this is how Noah would arrive too.  But apparently the night before he was born, Cheryl was passing a kidney stone, which also caused her to go into labor.  Since she had never been in labor before, she didn’t know it was happening.  I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say, Noah was a handful from the beginning.
Noah was the most adventurous of my three kids, always wanting to be outdoors and doing something with his hands.  I remember when the television show “Survivor Man” first came on, the kids and I would watch each week as Les Stroud would pit his knowledge against the elements in a different local.  One night, Noah got up from watching the show, went into his room and came back out with a camping light strapped to his forehead and a knife, and announced he was going to survive the night out in our yard.  About a half an hour later he came in freezing, because it was cold and windy out there.
The boy was hilarious, and not always because he was trying to be.  He and Micah shared a room for a while, and one day he called Micah to ask him how to tune the bass guitar Micah kept in their room.  He was determined to learn how to play it, but before he started teaching himself, he needed to tune it first.  It didn’t matter that he knew nothing about the bass; he just needed to tune it first.
One of the things everyone always says they remember about Noah was his smile, and he did do this often.  But when Cheryl and I had to discipline him, there weren’t many smiles from any of us.  We spent more time disciplining him than either Micah or April.  I’m not sure it was because he was such a bad kid, he just like to live life fully and it caused him to cross the line more than the other two.
I remember the day Cheryl told him she was going to do what God does, and give him grace instead of spanking him.  She said, “You deserve a spanking, but I’m going to show you grace instead.”  From that day forward, any time he was about to get a spanking, he would plead, “Grace mommy, give me grace.”  It’s hard to not laugh when he was pleading so hard.
I miss my son very much.  He was a good kid, hard worker and loved Jesus with a passion I’ve not seen in many kids his age, not to mention adults even.  But just like any one of us, if we listen to the wrong voice we can be tempted to do stupid stuff.  And unfortunately for Noah on this day six years ago, he listened to the wrong voice and took his own life.
People have asked me if we saw any signs leading up to this, and my answer is always no.  The morning he died, he was playing with Micah and April, acting goofy, just another normal day in the life.  There were some things going on in his life at the time which allowed him to listen to the wrong voice and make a stupid decision. 
One thing about Noah was he didn’t always think things through.  There was a time when a piece of one inch door trim on April’s bedroom door had come loose.  Noah thought, “I can fix that.”  So he went to the garage, got a hammer and two six penny nails, nailing the trim back into place.  One of the nails he couldn’t hammer all the way in, so he just hammered it over so the door would shut.  Everyone got hung up on that nail for many, many years.

My son was an awesome young man who loved Jesus and is with him now.  I miss him, and realize I will one day get to hug his neck once more.  My family is stronger today than we were before this happened.  I wish it had never happened, but it did and now we just have to live with it.  We had a choice six years ago to either fall apart or fall into the arms of Jesus and we chose the latter.  God carried us through then, and He continues to do the same today.  It’s not easy, it never will be, but we can carry on and continue to live.  We just take it a step at a time staying as close to Jesus as we possibly can.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 20 - Do You Miss the Magical For The Mundane?

As I was busy washing dishes this morning, (yes ladies, I do the dishes from time to time) the thought crossed my mind about how many times in my life I have actually put my hands into the soapy water to scrub the remnants of the meals my family and I have had from our dishes and silverware.  While I didn't actually do the math, (which would require much more thought than I was willing to give) I know it is a bunch; probably way more than I'd actually like to count or even really know to be honest with you.
As I continued to swish the plates and bowls around in the water, I realized what I was doing is really a very mundane task. Not unneeded mind you; cleaning your plates help to keep you from getting sick or eating spoiled and rotten food.  But it really isn't very glamorous; because if it was then Cinderella's ugly stepsisters would have helped out around the house and we'd have a very different story to tell.  Mundane tasks are typically not really fun.  I mean, you agree, right?
Years ago I was reading a book which stated we live in a fairytale world; full of mystery, magic and fantastic creatures.  Now I know what you are thinking, but before discount what I’m saying, do you know what tomorrow holds exactly? Not really.  You have to enter the day to find out the mysteries it holds for you.  In this time we live in, you are able to talk to a loved one who is halfway around the world, not to mention talk face to face in real time with them by using a small device you carry in your back pocket; sounds pretty magical to me.  And have you ever watched a field mouse?  I mean really watched one up close, they are pretty fantastical little creatures.
I wonder how many of us miss out on these magical moments in our lives because we are too focused on the mundane things of life.  On our ride to church this morning, I asked my bride what kinds of things she would like to do in the evenings after getting off of work, and she said, "I honestly don't know.”  And to be quite honest with you, I think this is where many of us are in our own lives.  So busy, if we had a free minute we wouldn’t really know what to do with it.
The reason I believe is we get so caught up doing what we need to do to keep our lives moving forward, we inadvertently miss out on the truly magical moments which are all around us and happen each and every day.  For instance, have you ever heard a baby belly laugh?  You’re a liar if you say it didn’t bring a smile to your face.  I say this is a magical thing, an elixir if you will for those who need to let go of the little things irritating them and have a moment of pure bliss.
I know it’s not popular to talk about “magic” in Christian circles, and there are those I’m sure who think I am speaking heresy when describing a baby’s laugh like it’s some type of magic potion, but then do we really need more people with frowns on their faces?  I think maybe what we need is a little bit more fantasy and less of the mundane things in life.  
After all, if you ignored the dirty dishes for one night and instead spent that time with your family making some memories (not watching television or looking at your phones) wouldn’t this do your heart more good than checking something off of your to-do list before going to bed?  I think so.  Look around you, there are magical moments happening all around you every day.  All you have to do is lift your eyes up from those mundane tasks for just a minute and see them for yourself.

Dave’s new book “Show Me the Money!” is coming out on April 19, 2016.  If you’d like to learn more about it, click here.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 19 - Men Are Not Stupid

I know I’ve talked about this before, but once again I was reminded of how there is an all out assault on men, and it is trying to discredit them in the eyes of the world.  Now before you think I’m some type of conspiracy theorist or something, let me just say if you open your eyes and keep an open mind you will see what I am saying is true.
When I was growing up John Wayne was king as far as I was concerned.  It wasn’t until later on in my life I realized just how truly awesome he was as a man; both in his movies and his life.  I just read yesterday about John Wayne on the set with one of his stunt doubles, when the man’s grandson came for a visit.  Upon meeting Mr. Wayne, the young boy asked, “What do you do in the movies?”  He replied, “I stand in for your grandpa, and do his close ups.”
Instead of taking the credit for being a big Hollywood star, he made the decision to lift up this grandpa in the eyes of his grandson.  He set himself aside; which is one of the traits of what a true man does.  Hearing these kinds of things about one of my heroes helps me to see how I should act in my own life as a man too.
The society we live in could use more men like John Wayne too.  I feel we have allowed the world to dictate to us what men should be, and how we should act, to such a degree that when you actually see a man living in a way other than what is considered the norm by the world’s standards, people are shocked, and don’t know how to handle it.
Too often, men are portrayed as imbecilic, selfish morons who are only about themselves.  I remember there was a commercial for State Farm a few years back which really made men look stupid.  In it, a man and woman are walking in a city, she is talking on the phone to their State Farm agent, and he is carrying a falcon.  Check out the video here.

If you will notice, there are men all throughout the commercial who have purchased ridiculous things.  The woman says, “That explains it.”  at the end of the commercial and the implication is men are stupid.  Truthfully, I don’t find this commercial funny, but offensive.  It’s just one more slam by society to show men as morons bereft of the ability to make wise decisions.
Does this mean I’ve always made great decisions as a man? Absolutely not, I’ve made some doozies in my time.  But does making bad decisions define who I am?  No.  I’d like to think what defines me as who I am is this ability I have to put my needs aside, and see to it those in my life are taken care of first; namely my bride and children.

I wish John Wayne was still alive today because I think we need role models as men who are willing to portray what a man really is not only as a Hollywood star, but in real life too.  God I pray you bring real men back to forefront of society and help us lead others to become the men You want us to be.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 18 - I'm Not Sure What This Is

Today I don’t really know where to start.  I woke up later than usual, and even after having gone to bed early, I had a difficult time opening my eyes and getting things going this morning.  I have these kinds of days from time to time, and I’m not really sure why exactly.  I worked hard yesterday, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.  We entertained some friends for dinner, but even they left before it got dark, so it wasn’t a late night which brought about this tiredness.  Just one of those things I guess.
When I wake up later than I had planned, it seems as if I get in a panic to try and make up for lost time.  Yet because I usually wake up later than normal because I’m tired, I end up sitting in my chair with the iPad opened to my Bible reading and doing everything in my power to keep my eyes open.  It usually ends up in the one eye open, the other eye closed scenario my wife hates. 
Usually when I get to this place where I’m doing everything in my power to stay awake, she will tell me to get up and go to bed.   And of course a lot of the time this happens about seven thirty to eight o’clock, and my reply is always, “I’m fine, I’m just resting a bit.”  This is followed by me waking up enough a few hours later and going to bed.  It really frustrates her; I should change this I guess.
Then after I wake up late, fight to stay awake, and realize I’ve wasted yet another morning and not really finished any of the stuff I wanted to do, I go to work thinking, “Well that was a waste, I should have just stayed in bed.”  Another thing Cheryl tells me to do pretty often.
With just twenty days until I release my latest book, “Show Me the Money!” you’d think I’d be hot and heavy working on it every waking minute, but I think the last time I worked on it was three days ago.  It ain’t gonna write itself, but then I keep finding other things to drag my attention away.  It’s really hard work writing, and putting all of your thoughts in the correct order.  I love it, but I need to put a little more attention into knuckling down and getting on with it daily.
The task of becoming a paid writer is a daunting one to say the least, but like anything in this life, if you want it you’re going to have to go out and get it.  The life you want for yourself and family doesn’t just happen, it takes effort and a lot of work.  If you are willing to put in the time, effort and work, then dividends will come into your life.  But if you are unwilling to do these things, if you only dream about what you want, and never do anything to achieve those dreams, then you are only fooling yourself.  You may end up being one of those people who talk about all the things you wanted to do, but never did.

And I for one don’t want to be a has been, or a never was.  I want to accomplish things in this life I’ve been given.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 17 - What's It Going To Take?

One of the truths I’ve learned in my life is a man needs to do what makes him come alive as a man more than anything else in this world.  I’m talking in regards to what he does with his life, and his place in the world.  I told my kids all of their lives growing up in my house to not worry about just finding a job, but to find what it is that makes them truly come alive and go do that.
I told them this because once I figured this out; it seemed as if it was too late for me.  I was in a job, raising a family and had bills out the wazzoo.  Little did I know I know at the age of fifty-two, with my children out of the house and chasing their own dreams, I’d still be working a job just to pay the bills?  Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy my job (most days) and the people I work with; it just feels as if my dream of being a paid writer is further from me now than it has ever been.
I guess I’m feeling this way because there is a pressure to provide for my family, leave some type of inheritance for my kids and grandkids, and now realizing I spent too many years existing instead of planning for the future.  It’s a daunting task set before me to do what I need to do, knowing I only have a limited amount of time to reach these goals.
Listening to some friends talk last night about retirement, and what they were planning to do, got me to thinking about my own situation.  I mean my life is not bleak, I’m not living on the streets, I have a little bit of money in savings, and I am healthy enough to go to work each day.  Yet there is not a day which goes by where I don’t remember the passage of Scripture which says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren.”
While I don’t have any grandchildren yet, this persistent thought hounds me like a pack of dogs on my heels.  What is it I will leave my grandchildren?  A good name perhaps, but will they be paying for my funeral, or will I?  Will I leave them a little walking around money, or just a few Star Wars toys I enjoyed having in my office?
The truth is this is why I am working towards my goal of being a writer and getting paid for it.  Yesterday as I thought about this, it occurred to me one other thing I’ll have to do as a full time writer is pay for health insurance on my own once again.  No, this doesn’t add any pressure for me. (Sarcasm laid on real thick here)  It seems the more I work towards my goal, the more I seem to want to just drop it, and spend the remainder of my time here on the planet working to just get by.

It seems as if this would be so much easier to do.  But then there is this thing inside of me which whispers, “There is so much more for you.”, and it drives me back to my keyboard to punch the buttons and put my thoughts down onto the page.  I will be a paid writer, this is my dream, and I believe it will be the pathway towards paying off my mortgage, bills and setting aside something for my grandchildren.  I will be called a good man when it is all said and done.

Monday, March 28, 2016

31 Day Writing Challenge Day 16 - What Are You Saying?

What do you think would happen if the idle words you speak on a daily basis actually came to life?  Remember when you were a kid and said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”?  Didn’t you find out later in life how much words can in fact actually hurt you?  I think at times I’d rather take a beating with sticks than to be berated with words.
Are you aware of the words which pop out of your mouth without your thinking too much about them?  What kinds of things to you say about yourself, or if you’re a parent to your children?  We actually believe what we say more than what anyone else says about us, unless it is our parents.
Words are powerful; they can create and they can destroy.  If you actually got what you said quickly, I think we would really put a watch over our lips.  For instance, if you said, “its cold outside today, I’ll probably catch a bad cold.”  And before you went home you were sneezing, coughing and feeling like crap you would agree with me how important words are.
Yet what happens is words don’t usually manifest themselves this quickly, so you don’t see the correlation about what you are saying, and what you are getting coincide.  The words you say each day are like seeds being planted, and in due time when it comes harvest time, you will see the crop they have produced in your life.
And when it comes to the words you say about your children, this can be devastating for them.  Children come into this world not knowing anything, and it is up to their parents to teach them all the things they need to know.  Yet so many parents I’ve seen say the most horrible things to their children.  Things like; you’ll never amount to anything, quit being so stupid, what’s wrong with you, etc.  When the person who holds the most influence in your life tells you all the things you can’t do, or will never be, you will begin to believe it.
A friend of mine was asked to counsel a teenage boy, because his parents didn’t know what to do with him.  He tells the story about how the parents brought the boy to his office, saying, “We’re going to the mall, and will be back in an hour; fix him.”  After they left, he looked at the boy and said, “Do you want a Pepsi?” and then they talked about sports and school until the parents returned.
When they returned, he met with the parents separately for a few minutes and the dad asked, “What’s wrong with my boy, why’s he an idiot?”  To which my friend replied, “Your son thinks like an idiot because he feeds on idiotic stuff.  The things you say about him, and to him are doing more damage than good.  If you want him to do better, then help him to think better by encouraging him and belittling him.”
I’m pretty sure this wasn’t what the man wanted to hear, but it is true.  If you call your kid an idiot, and then he does idiotic things, who’s to blame here?  You’re call to do what the Bible refers to as calling those things which be not, as though they were.  Yeah, but isn’t that lying Dave?  No, it is calling forth what your kid truly is; you just haven’t seen the manifestation of it yet.

Remember, your kids don’t know anything when they’re born, it’s up to you to teach them, and calling them stupid and idiot won’t help.  Begin telling them who they are in Christ, and what they can do in Him.  At first you may not see it, but if you continue and be intentional about it, before long your child will grow into an awesome person.