August 18, 2017

Dreams Require Sacrifice – Make a list! Make it happen!

Luke 1:37 (NKJV)

“For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Last week I took some time to travel and awaken in the presence of a best friend – we went to Canada and Washington State on a shoestring budget. I told my travel mate when I got back to Atlanta, things were on to be different! The search for success is now a personal matter.

I am a list-driven personality. I intend to follow through on that list.

In a previous entry, I wrote that I wanted another Masters degree, a new job I care about, to lose several pounds with an in-shape mentality, to do my very best to achieve a book contract, to meet the girl of my dreams, etc.

I applied to that graduate program this week. I promised my agent to have another book proposal by the first week of August. I applied to more jobs than any week since December. I worked out every day, even though hard because of my out-of-shape conditions. And well, I always flirt with a pretty girl, especially if they love Jesus.

When you make a list of driven dreams to succeed, at some point, you must make a decision to do whatever it takes, whenever, and however you can to make it happen. I tire of complacency and desire for greater things to come.

These are some principles with supported inspirational segments that now play fresh in my mind for success. Let’s do this!

FIRST, FIND SOMETHING YOU WANT AS BAD AS YOU WANT TO BREATHE!

SECOND, FIND SUPPORT IN COMMUNITY!

THIRD, SACRIFICE!

FOURTH, HARD WORK IS THE NEW NORMAL!

JOEY BERRIOS – A Super Bowl Champion Testimony and Story – STICK TO THE PLAN!

This is an interview I conducted with Joey Berrios, now a Software Quality Assurance Analyst for  Greenway Medical Technologies. He recently married Kelsi Rebecca Berrios, and expects his firstborn child, Jacqueline Fae Berrios, to deliver this spring. With personal stories I know in depth, Joey marks the example of diligence to stick to a plan, accomplish goals, and overcome adversity from humble beginnings. I brought attention to some of his journey through the blog because like me, I knew his story would touch and inspire many of you who face adverse times right now. We all tend to pull for the underdog. Joey represents that kind of success story that should be in one of those Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul books. Read. Listen. And learn with interest and intrigue.

Q: Do you remember anything from living overseas? Was this a happy time for your family?

My family moved to Naples, Italy because that is where the Air Force sent my father in late 1984.

I remember going to the harbor with my mother. We would purchase ice cream from a street vendor nearby and watch the boats come in/out of port. I vaguely remember eating dinner at a few restaurants. I used to chase lizards that would run up and down our balcony when I went outside to play. The beach that was nearby was dirty and not really good for children to visit. I remember one of my birthdays and playing with some fellow kids we knew through other Air Force families. I was 3, almost 4, when we returned to the United States. I remember sitting and reading Disney books at the airport in Italy and looking out the window of the plane, asking my mother what trees were since I had never seen anything like them.

My mom had a difficult time adjusting to living so far away from her family. There were many events that happened while we were overseas that almost caused us to be evacuated from the country and return to the United States. Military Police frequently came by and kept the families updated on things and we practically had to have a bag packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

When we arrived in Italy, my parents had ordered furniture for our new apartment. Unfortunately, when the ship arrived, everything was destroyed. I had to sleep in a suit case since I had no crib. We only had a small heater that my parents setup to keep me warm. They chose to bare the cold and be uncomfortable.

When we returned to the United States, my mother kissed the ground and thanked God she was back home. She said being in Italy for three years took ten off of her life.

Q: How long did it take you to graduate from Auburn University with your Bachelor’s degree?

7 ½ years.

Note: At one point, Joey suffered clinical depression while in college, and therefore his grades suffered from many extenuating circumstances beyond his control. His two brothers, mother, and father moved into his studio apartment at one point as mentioned in the next questions. While growing up and once even on his own, his family often resided in one week hotels, wondering whether there would be food to eat or where next week’s rent money could come from.  

Q: Please describe in detail the circumstances when you family lived in your studio apartment at Auburn.

It was 4th of July in 2007. I called my mom to see how their holiday weekend was going and she told me things weren’t good. They had run into a financial snafu and had no money. She asked me if they could stay with me for a few days and figure things out.

Q: How long did that time last?

9 months.

Q: Were you able to focus on school then?

My mother made things difficult for me to be in the apartment, all 300 square feet of it, so I holed up in my office at work and practically lived out of it.

Q: When you wanted to quit (if you ever did want to), what motivated you to continue?

I didn’t want to end up like my parents. My dad worked two jobs to keep a roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat, and basic survival needs. I got some things I wanted on Christmas and my birthday, but overall it was always tough and sometimes I don’t know how we got by when we did.

When my step-dad came into the picture and my brothers were born, that changed everything and added many dynamics I wasn’t ready or prepared to take on but had to anyway. I remember how much I hated being torn in so many directions: forced to be a father, husband, son, and brother against my wishes but a man does what he has to do in order to survive, even when it’s difficult. My life story isn’t original by any means.

There are many people who have survived tragedies and life changing events, and their will to live kept them alive. Despite whatever scars they bare and baggage they carry, they continue to survive and carry on as they did previously. Those are the things that kept me going. No matter how hard it was or what tragedy I faced, no matter how many times circumstances tried to beat and break me down, I continued to push forward with everything I had within me so I could one day cross the finish line. Like Jesus carrying the cross, being beaten and tortured all the way to his execution, I too carried my cross and gave it everything I had. Winners never quit and quitters never win.

Q: How did you meet James Cartee?

I met James in the summer of 2008 during the Industrial Design summer studio.

Q: What most do you respect about James?

His love for God and wanting to be a better Christian. I think James is a unique guy and someone I’m happy to call my friend.

Q: Why do you consider your motto “to stick to the plan” as something everyone can aspire to?

I was going through a rough patch at Auburn and ended up driving my GPA into the ground. I was sent to Catherine Cater hall where they have specialized advisers who work with students who are on academic warning, suspension, and 2nd suspension. The idea is that they work with you and try to find out what’s the underlying cause for your struggle. They also help you find your “path” and provide all of the resources necessary to facilitate your success, whatever that may be.

My adviser, Jenn Harrison, made a little sign that said, “Stick to the Plan” and printed it off. She told me to tape it somewhere I would see it every day as a reminder that I have a plan and am progressively working towards it, even if it’s not at the speed I’d like it to move. I once heard, “A mouse will eat an elephant if you give it enough time.” That’s how life is: a giant elephant that can be consumed but not all in one sitting. Patience is a virtue we all struggle with but once you can semi-master it, tasks become water rolling off of your back like a duck.

Q: What is/was the hardest challenge you have ever faced?

I think one of the biggest challenges I face is being content/happy with what I have and not being impatient for things to “turn around” so I can be “on par” with everyone else. I grew up not having much and seeing what everyone else had made me wonder why I had to do without those things. I feel restless in my pursuit to overcome the place I was born into, which is better than probably 30% of the world (if not more) but somehow that isn’t good enough. It’s a hunger I can’t seem to satisfy, no matter how hard I try because I’m always wanting more. I don’t know if there will ever be a point in my life where I am satisfied with what I have because I know there’s something better out there waiting for me. Being content feels more like accepting defeat than appreciating what God has provided. If people who have very little to no modern convenience can be happy, why can’t I?

JC (Interviewer): I would probably say the strongest spiritual characteristic of Joey’s personality is his heart. He will help anyone in need if he can within reasonable understanding.

Q: What within you pulls you to help friends and perhaps even those less fortunate than yourself?

The life I lived growing up, the injustices I faced from my mother, the types of people I have come across as an adult, the wrongs I have experienced, the hurt I’ve endured, and the mistakes I can’t take back are all things that have shown me what life is like. There are a lot of bad things in life but equally as many good; however, I tend to hold onto the bad more so than the good because it keeps me alive. It reminds me of what NOT to say, do, or become. It’s the cross that I have been given to bear.

I didn’t choose to take on this task; however I think it chose me. God will present you with many trials and tribulations. He will push you until you are on the brink of fracturing into a million pieces. He will load your plate up until you think you don’t have room for another morsel, but it’s all in good intention.

And because of these personal insights, I desire to be the best friend a person can have. I know what it feels like to be let down. If I can help it, I do not want to be that person.

If you would like to reach Joey Berrios for any reason, including but not limited to freelance HTML coding projects and ministry interviews, his email is josephberrios84@gmail.com. He welcomes a good challenge to support his new family and further pursue his dreams to provide as a new father.

A Simple Message and Current Theme in My Life – Success Comes Finally! DO What We DO!

When I first graduated with my Masters from Auburn University in Communication, I thought I would catch fire in both the job market and publishing my first major book. I got somewhat sidetracked with two brief anthologies of twenty-three poems and successfully published both collections with book signings and what continues to be a consistent following on a redesigned blog. However I eventually ran out of money and needed to work somewhere, anywhere.

I started off with any-whatever-job I could find two years ago, selling ladies’ shoes at the Belk Department Store at Brookwood Mall in Homewood, Alabama (a suburb outside Birmingham, Alabama for those of you not from here). I quickly decided retail was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life with a Masters education. Then I moved forward six weeks later as an admissions representative at Virginia College Online Division. While Virginia College has been extremely good to me for the last eighteen months, it was again apparent that this was another venture I did not want to pursue also for the rest of my life, selling education through a proprietary mindset. It was a great place for me to learn business corporate policy from management from those who worked in industry far longer than me. In other words, Virginia College Online became a stepping stone to move forward for where God would have me now, the Salvation Army.

I know I applied for well over 500 jobs before the right fit came along. I took on several interviews and was offered several positions but never felt spiritually at peace about anything that presented itself until just now. The Salvation Army Headquarters in Atlanta offered me a job, as a Creative Marketing Strategist for their youth development department. I knew confidently and peacefully that God called me to move to Atlanta for this new opportunity to change adolescent lives through the influence of Christ and Biblically founded beliefs. In addition to this pursuit, I continue to push hard with both my writing and photography endeavors and online teaching.

In the pursuit of passions, I was often discouraged from what appeared to represent a lack of movement and upward mobility. I am not always sure what to do with my time to move forward in growth with my own life. Often times I just do what I do (advice I learned from Tony Dungy). I implement both a short term and long term vision plan and with each day push as hard as I can beyond my day job to make dreams happen. I write when I do not feel like writing. I exercise when I do not feel like exercising. I get up and go to my day job when I do not want to. I study to reach another graduate degree to stand apart from those in the masses. I do what I do even when I do not want to. Those who become the most successful still do what they do even when they do not want to. That is true motivation. Motivation is not a bright Tinker Bell feeling. It is doing what you know you need to even when you do not want to.

You may lose sleep. You may become frazzled. You may need to pull some hair out when you want to quit. But please see my life as a small step forward in the right direction. Finally after two years of completing my Master’s degree at Auburn University, I am moving to the BIG Atlanta CITY for a job I REALLY WANT, but it took two years. It may take another two years to complete another Master’s degree, to get my photography business off the ground, to attain a book contract, and continue performing a meaningful day job. But my day job will turn into my dream job as the transition continues in the right direction. I will continue to do what I do even when I do not feel like it. And with that approach, I will inevitably be successful in any goal I pursue. Just do what you do to honor God, and I firmly believe and know He will honor your work for His Glory. My life stands as a testimony to His Scriptural Promises. Speak it into existence, and watch the magic happen!

Tony Dungy’s words continue to resonate with me through his testimony here! If you love football, you will love the Quiet Strength expressed through this video!

 

Freedom in Christ – Experience It! Believe in the Infinite Power and Love of God! Do you believe?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Mathew 6:25-27 (NIV)

Now I know this is a verse most remain familiar with; however it assists me to believe that Christ in Me shuns and evaporates all worries away. If God takes care of the birds of the air, he will surely take care of us. Honestly in self-reflection, I ask both you and myself: Do we add value to our lives with worries in the nag it tears down on our minds?

I become exhausted when I think about such things. The Law of Attraction simply premises that negative thoughts lead to negative thoughts or positive thoughts lead to positive thoughts. That observation is both Biblical and true. As Tinker Bell pleads with Peter Pan to fly on the way to Never Never Land, “Think Happy Thoughts, Peter.” Think happy thoughts, indeed, we should. Perhaps that is the calling of us as Christians to spread the joy of Christ through positive thinking.

Do you ever feel weighed down by worries, concerns, problems, challenges, troubles, or adversity? Recently I have felt more anxiety than usual. I believe decisions are coming where I will change lives just as much as others’ lives will change my own. Constant change is necessary for those who seek growth and constant improvement for every area of their life, but it can also become nerve-racking as well.

I also feel the negativity of others bringing us down sometimes as well. No matter what you do or say, some always combat you in defensiveness or think of something bad to say no matter what the situation, maybe even just in regular conversation. I find this observation especially interesting when you try to grow closer to someone, only for them to turn you away with a protective survival mode like attitude. I understand protecting your heart when another hurts you, but when you hurt those who care about you because of another person’s past actions, you distance yourself from what could potentially turn into a very good relationship, friendship, or possibly an eternal life partner. I know we all have encountered people of this nature.

I believe the simple truth is that we find freedom only through Christ as believers. It often comes to down to simply kneeing before Christ bedside with the request for freedom. Believe when you ask that God relieve of your worries that he will. Really all we have to do is let go and believe the request that we make. Christ will care for you! Christ will have you! Christ will love you! I listed four principles that have changed my life and will continue to do so as I focus on a year of Christ, change, growth, and movement forward for dream sake.

1.) Focus on today and only today.
2.) Believe that good things will happen again.
3.) Surround yourself with positive, faith-building relationships.
4.) Realize God’s Infinite Power and Love.

The same chapter in Mathew mentioned at the beginning of this blog entry ends on this note:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Mathew 6:34 (NIV)

When we focus on today and the responsibilities of each hour now, we live in the present where future moments live and stay in the future without blocking the work of God we are destined to achieve. The Enemy will say, tempt, or do anything to keep us off track from achieving our purpose-filled, driven commission. If you believe and realize God’s Infinite Power and Love, you and I together will become unstoppable in any endeavor we attempt to pursue and successfully surmount. Bring it! We are to go down and get down with God’s business to save souls, orphans, widows, and anyone that needs service in His Name. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him FOREVER!

Someone told me recently, “God is pleased with you right now. You do not need to publish books, plant churches, and start nonprofits for God to notice your goodness. For you live in Him, and because he is good, so are you!” Now that simple reminder of truth speaks to my heart as it perhaps does you. Remember to think positively about such thoughts in forever-inclined-eternal-mindsets to realize that God is the most powerful advocate who works for your behalf. He loves us all more than we can humanly understand or imagine!

Let’s end on an amazing passage from The Message Bible. Read, refresh, and become inspired!

“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.” Ephesians 2:1-6 (The Message)

Intentional Living through Christ with Intentional Decisions and Communication

“Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:4-5 (KJV)

I mentioned on this previous blog entry my new family member through future marriage, Joe Friday. I guess in reality I will call him my cousin-in-law. In truth I always felt like he was family. Joe represents honor in its formidable truest fruit of the Spirit. Psalm 37:4-5 depicts his walk with the Lord almost perfectly. In pursuit of what he believed to be true, he never wavered and thus eventually received the desires of his heart.

He persistently through challenges and in some ways against the odds accomplished a feat that I might have given up on at this point in my life. I perhaps have fallen more than most when it comes to my own love life. I have epic saga stories of one written dramatic performance after the other. The love life narratives provide for an interesting text in my first major book expected to release some time in the next two years. While the stories will make you laugh, they make me cry.

I do not doubt the drive in my life to accomplish; however I do doubt society where Christianity lives in the shadow of selfishness and often corrupt politics to “serve the masses,” through the sacrifice of a few. For two years, I have written, edited, and polished a strong three hundred page manuscript with a full time job while also trying to start a business, not to mention an online presence and constant content generation for this blog. And yet I still have not given up on the dream to become a well-known, published author. I probably will never stop writing. I have come to enjoy the creation of words just that much. I am also dedicated to losing weight as I train for two half-marathons and two full marathons. I consider myself driven in many ways and push myself about hard as I am able in so many ways. The pursuit becomes exhausting. Is the pursuit of a significant other supposed to be so hard?

A while I ago I spoke late into the night with a friend where I feel that I failed to communicate on every level, and I have a Master’s Degree in Communication. I am not sure I will ever claim to understand the complexities of gender communication. I wish I could have had Deborah Tanner’s book, That Is Not What I Meant, in my lap whiling talking to this particular female. It was and is clear in my mind this just may not work out with my most recent attempt to pursue and woo.

Ideally I hope that the pair of two people should just click. Joe Friday and Matteye Monday just clicked even when others tried to separate these star crossed lovers. They stayed the course and prevailed to the dream of a marriage union through engagement.

I believe and even witnessed that Joe made an intentional decision to follow his faith for six years. In my finite mind, that sounds like a really long time. No one else knew his course but him. In fact, many probably encouraged and even perhaps tried to persuade him to give up. Now following your heart when everything else around you suggests to do otherwise (including supposed wise counsel), that is intentional living with an intentional decision. “This is what I am going to do because I know this is what I am supposed to do.” Now that is unwavering faith with an intentional decision! While I pursue such ideals with my own personal direction and ambitions, I struggle to do so with a girl. In fact, nice guys often get stuck in the “give-me-a-chance” syndrome. Since when did good Christian guys need to use consent or permission to spend time with a female? Are men given the ability to lead anymore? Or do girls sit back choosing and selecting the cream of the crop while guys pursue and put it all out there? These questions boggle my mind as Southern Culture perverts the fun of dating and getting to know someone. As mentioned before in Twitter feeds and blog entries, it all has to be so serious all the time. All I want to do is watch lions on a field, or in a better case Auburn Tigers at a football game with someone to experience the absolute most imaginable fun possible.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ” Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

Joe certainly lived this verse in its essence in the promise God makes. I would like to think I am listening to hear “the way” wherever that might be with the Lord’s lead.

I do not think Matteye ever needed convincing of Joe’s character. She just knew. I again hope and believe that is how it will work with whoever you or I belong to in a relationship or a marriage. And hopefully even further no one will need convincing. Love or like (loving or liking someone) should NOT be a sought-after bargaining chip where once you do a certain something (buying flowers, writing sincere apology letters, or speaking over the phone for extended periods of time) everything in the world is well again. If someone needs further convincing on why they should date you or whoever, perhaps they miss the God-given chance to something special with someone who loves the Lord with all their heart. There is certainly a getting-to-know you stage, but there is also a chance-to-dance stage. While a good fight for a good gal can bring forth great fruit, make sure your heart remains intact if you make the same decision Joe made for the duration of six years. He knew in his heart this was right. And apparently Matteye did too. If the other person lacks that foresight, then perhaps like me in the past, you are both talking with and pursuing the wrong person. Find another potential significant other who is just as intrigued for and by you as you are for them. God’s promises are evident and clear in His Holy Word:

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

If you have thoughts on this on this entry, I am open to feedback and criticism. There is room for comments on what you think, and I am eager to see just who is reading this entry and why.

The following questions remain unanswered on the readers’ part. What do you think about the following?

1.) Is the pursuit of a significant other supposed to be so hard?

2.) Since when did good Christian guys need to use consent or permission to spend time with a female?

3.) Are men given the ability to lead anymore?

4.) Or do girls sit back choosing and selecting the cream of the crop while guys pursue and put it all out there?

Blown Away By Olympics U.S. Swimming – The Legends of the Water of London 2012

I must interrupt the Young and Talented Series to comment on the Olympics, specifically in regards to U.S. Swimming, my favorite competition in the summer games.

First of all, the opening ceremonies blew me away compared to other years before. I find it hard to describe the feelings and artistic emotions expressed and involved with performance. The director clearly creatively told the story of Great Britain, and everyone must admit that witnessing the Queen SkyDrive with Daniel Craig, James Bond 007, was just way cool!

Since I swam for 12 years recreationally every summer and in the state championships to represent my high school (living, learning, and breathing the sport), swimming is and always will be my Olympic sport competition. What the Americans achieved this Olympics with thirty overall medals both amazes and inspires me! The next closest medal count in swimming to us is China with ten, twenty less than the American team. Oh yeah, we are the best, we are. Yes we can! I think for a brief moment most of us wish we participated in life-changing sports beyond the cubicle of a day job. Like the previous mentioned blog entry, some dreams seem lost until the encounter of an athlete like the “blade runner,” Oscar Pistorius who made history as the first double amputee in the 400 meter race, qualified for the 400 meters semifinal. Oscar reminds and inspires us with reminders that our dreams were never lost, perhaps delayed with life’s journey and adversity, but never lost.

While the male swimmer still causes goose bumps on the back of my neck with a close race, the girls are just cute. I watched their YouTube video with the karaoke performance of, Just Call Me Maybe, at least 500 times with laughter resonating each time viewed. Missy Franklin cracks me up, and if I cycled back ten years to my high school days, I have a feeling that Missy and I might end up at the same college together 😉  She does after all just have that great of a smile.

The Legends of the Water

Missy Franklin made me laugh the moment of her interview when she asked the crowd in regards to her gold medal, “Isn’t this pretty?” Yes, you are pretty with a great smile and five total medals I think.  She wins your heart with her humility, smile, attitude, and laugh. Missy continues to turn down endorsements worth well beyond six figures with her dream for an education to swim at the collegiate level. I think she should visit Auburn! I know she fall in love with Aubie and the AU family! I believe in Auburn and love it!  She also decisively stayed home when some suggested she move to train for the Olympics elsewhere away from her family’s location. She never went along with the flow of those who advised her to professionally do so. She followed her heart and continues to give credit to those where it is due: “I have the best parents in the entire world, they have taught me to love with my whole heart, be open, and be kind to everyone.” I guess following her will and heart paid off with five total medals –four gold and one bronze. I look forward to future viewed interactions with Missy through media coverage and her future accomplishments in both college and Olympic careers. It appears she will continue to focus on the right things: family, friends, education, smiles, team, and her dreams, not the dreams of the world.

Michael Phelps continues to shock us with each medal count push over twenty for a total of twenty-two medals (with six alone in the London games). His accomplishments surpass multiple countries by himself. A few individuals I see on a daily basis claimed they thought Phelps acted and looked stupid. I stared at each of them like they looked stupid with such a comment. There is nothing stupid about twenty-two Olympic medals. In fact those who commented such will never attain such a feat. Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian who has ever lived! Many  ondered about Phelps after defeated in the individual medley versus John Lochte; however he proved to show up as the king of the pool after the first race. Many thought he took a vacation the last two years without training as hard in the previous two Olympic Games in Bejing and Athens. Whether Phelps trained less or not, his performance still as usual exceeded my own expectations. While he claims he will not participate in the next Rio de Janeiro I honestly think he will be back. Below you can watch the video of his press conference after reaching twenty-two total
lifetime Olympic medals with eighteen gold. Impressive!

Allison Schmitt (her nickname “Schmitty” has even caught on nationally) resembles another humble personality like Missy Franklin when interviewed with five decorated medals around her neck from both the Beijing and London summer games. Along with Missy, we see that team work very much makes the sport of swimming a collective effort in the success of a relay race. One weak link capably breaks the success of a medley or freestyle power four. Phelps and Schmitt even held hands before his final race to represent the unity of our team. This was not a romantic interest on either’s part but rather a show of togetherness.

Ralph Schmitt said that while his daughter is a bona fide international star), she’s very much the same person she’s always been when she’s with family.

Allison got what she always wanted with her final race: She anchored the 400 medley relay to a world record and gave the Americans their first team gold in the event since the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The U.S. women’s team finished with an amazing Olympics overall: 13 medals, including eight gold. The eight golds were the most they had won the past two Olympics combined. The 13 overall is the most they had won since 16 in Sydney. With their karaoke skills, the girls are just fun in ways that guys cannot help but recognize so we can in fact call you maybe.

The U. S. swimmers backed by their own statistical stories continue to bring forth the passions within me to follow their dedication. I run daily in preparation for a half-marathon in mid-September. After I realize how much Olympians sacrifice in dedication for excellence in each respective sport, I yearn to represent such diligence and discipline to become the very best at whatever I do. There is an Olympian in every single one of us. We must tap and pull those passions and desires to avoid complacency and laziness to attain our very best level. When your shoulders feel the pressure, heat, and stress of your extra work ethic, then you realize you reached the right place. While reaching higher heights and standards set in our own lives, we hit the pinnacle of our success and comprehend truly we are capable of more than we ever gave ourselves credit for.

Remembers our dreams are never lost. Sometimes in the present they are just beginning. Let Olympians inspire so that you yourself also inspire others with your life.

Young and Talented – “Lost Dreams” featuring Kate Devick. Have you lost your dream? Find support in Relationship! Rise and Resurrect!

We continue our Young and Talented (YT) Hip Hop series with another of my favorite songs, Lost Dreams. If you missed out on the first of this series with the hit song, TOO FLY, click here for an official introduction to YT and his life-changing music (the first blog entry of the YT chronicles).

“It is kind of upsetting how I chased that dream, but I couldn’t quite catch it. It’s lost.” With the power of Christ in us….in me….in you, our dreams will certainly never become lost. However I believe YT’s lyrics hit home in that we all feel lost in pursuit of our dreams as we fall down again and again over and over. Failure is one of the most discouraging factors especially when as a theme in your life it never seems to go away no matter how hard you try. God’s Word claims that the testing of our faith develops perseverance.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV)

I remember at one point in my life when I wanted to quit college, withdraw from UT-Chattanooga, and move back home with really no clear direction on what to do next. I recollect that I received a phone call on my cell from the Vice Chancellor of the School, Dr. Richard Brown, who mentioned the following: “We, the family, at UTC, certainly do not want to lose one of our best and brightest students. What can I do to make it work for your return this spring?” Our dreams and goals only become accomplishable through the assistance of others like Dr. Brown through support networks. I do not care who you are or what you have accomplished in life. We all hold our current positions only through the foundation and support of those around us some way, somehow, or in some fashion. Someone in everyone’s life supported, assisted, or helped him or her to accomplish in career, faith, or perhaps even our own spiritual journeys. You are who you are based on those you surround yourself with, friends, family, leaders, and mentors. Dr. Brown continues to mentor me as we catch up sporadically in life through email or over the phone or even sometimes over breakfast when I visit Chattanooga. He continues to serve as a reference while I seek further opportunities in life on a number of different levels. I guess he changed my life then and continues to do so now.

In regards to support with those you associate or surround yourself with, I know one person who lives for bar-hopping like a professional sport, drinking like a fish and bragging about it, versus those actively involved in the church with devout, firm, and stable relationships with others and God. The bar-hopper cusses like a sailor and really exists for self-satisfaction with a mediocre position at his present job. I would rather hang with those I know I will see in eternity rather than a smoke-filled room with individuals who seek to indulge our worldly desires and their own sinful nature, living for boozes and our desires of the body. Those I surround myself with in life define who I am with input and a shoulder to lean into. I want friends to remember the night before when they wake up the next morning with whatever transpired. I am not opposed to drinking. I am opposed to those who cannot control foolish, immature ways. I may still live at home, but I would like to think I act my age as a twenty-nine year old male. If easily influenced by those around you, I am not entirely sure dreams will come true. It takes a true confidence in God to become more, to stay the course, and face adversity with the grit to overcome it.

I love the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, because the movie resembles the resurrection experience that all true Christians face, recognize, and rise from. We trip. We fall. But as Bruce does best as Batman, we eventually rise as the hero of our own dream to possibly defend and protect what is most dear to us. Alfred never gave up on Bruce Wayne in the first movie, Batman Begins, as he almost gave up when Wayne Manor burned down due to the revenge actions of the League of Shadows (the group Wayne essentially caused the downfall of with the death of Ra’s al Ghul). Alfred as the best friend, father-figure, and protector to both Batman and Bruce reminded that “we learn to pick ourselves up.” As his adopted sons and daughters, God never gave up on you or me, and like Alfred in the Batman movies, the right friends never will either. We best succeed when reminded that when we fall, we continue to learn to pick ourselves back up. We rise to become stronger than ever before. Like Batman and like Christ, we resurrect through the adversity we face to reach the other side. Then we save the city and defeat evil villains, perhaps with a resemblance of spiritual warfare. Perhaps that is a blog entry for another day though.

Bruce Wayne: I wanted to save Gotham. I’ve failed.

Alfred: Why do we fall, sir? So that we can
learn to pick ourselves up.

Bruce: You still haven’t given up on me?

Alfred: Never.

As you listen to this music video, think about a low point you passed through. We all suffer from the thoughts of lost dreams, but when we reach for the sky with the right positive support and a God who loves us, calling us each individually home by our God-given name, we cannot and will not fail. Our dreams will never be lost. In fact, it is very inevitable that they will transform into our own reality. I encourage you to believe and pick yourself up because with each fall, we grow. And eventually with that growth, our time will come. Go, do, and seek to believe once again. Eventually our efforts catch up to fulfill whatever it is we hope for, desire, and seek to achieve.

YT (Dr. Mannheimer) currently teaches the subject of Sociology in Hip Hop Music and Culture at Florida State University. He continues to press forth with both his academics and music, apparently intertwined. I would say his dreams are anything but lost. He just had one of those “is it worth it?” moments that all of us have with the words and vision of this song and video. I guess he decided his dreams were absolutely worth it, and we will see just how many stadiums Andrew Mannheimer fills up with support from friends like me. I do believe with the God we worship anything is possible.

Follow @SuperYSuperFly on Twitter here.

View videos at the YTRaps1 YouTube channel.

The GROWTH Track Series – GO and DO! (Step Seven)

GO and DO!

If unfamiliar with my model here, click here to understand the introductory blog entry that explains my novel and original concepts that bring and promote growth through this track into your life by different means through the plan provided below.

I. Reach Out
II. Connect
III. Grow
IV. Discover Your Passion with a FOCUS on God!
V. Pursue the Dream

VI. Choose and Pursue Your Eternal Direction
VII. GO and DO!

Once you connect, grow, and discover your passions in the body of Christ at an individual and/or group level, I really think you will find your vision to pursue your life purpose. Of course, with time that certainly may change, but once found yourself in this capacity, then GO and DO whatever God calls you to! Realize the friends and family in the relationships you formed, reached out to, connected with, and grew into, will in good consciousness support you in your life’s journey when you go and do.

FIRST Relevant Scriptures for these sub-points

1.)    “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

2.)    “Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth. If you praise him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and him. But when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you’re letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you.” 1 Corinthians 14:3 (MSG)

A.) The Great Commission calls us to ALL nations.

Scripture in the New Testament calls us to reach out to every corner so that God’s Name becomes glorified. We are meant to travel in country and out-of-country to every corner where the Gospel has not yet reached indigenous peoples. Your passions in dreams rendered will determine if this is your dream to be had.

B.) God watches over us when we choose and pursue our calling through the Great Commission.

The Scriptures say and show we remain guarded by God’s protectors when we follow the calling portrayed before us in the Great Commission to do and go wherever we are led. Our guardian angels step into action so to speak. I believe if one has never traveled overseas for mission purposes that you should do so to open doors and become more like-minded in Christ. Our minds tend to open when we have seen beyond our front doors. The world suffers, and your life will be changed forever when you see it in person.

SECOND Relevant Scripture for these sub-points “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” 2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT)

A.) The Good News perpetually spreads forward each and every time shared.

When we go and do, salvation continues with a pay it forward effect. Each person who receives the Gospel is likely to spread it to the next person. God’s Salvation is just that good and promising that we want to continue sharing it with others onward from the very moment we become saved.

THIRD Relevant Scripture for these sub-points This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious
standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple.
That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.” Colossians 1:28-30 (MSG)

A.) God through Christ lives in every single one of us, and through Christ in us, we accomplish God-Size, Purpose-Driven dreams.

It is through Christ in us that we attain the Bigger Dreams through remembering the Bigger Picture. Christ lives in us as part of the Body, and our perfection through His Body in perfection gives us the means and power to achieve Greatness for Kingdom purposes. It is Christ in me that gives us the power to rise above and achieve.

The following are five more verses that I find relevant to discover your passions with a focus on personal growth and your own personal relationship with God. Make note and take to heart God’s Word here.

“Yes, Lord, walking inthe way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Isaiah 26:8 (NIV)

“Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” Daniel 12:3 (NLT) 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NLT)

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a  lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your
Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)

I believe we are meant to follow the steps of the growth track to go and do whatever God calls us to. I also believe we are most fulfilled when we follow God’s calling for our lives. It takes an extra grit and mile worth of work to achieve dreams. I am learning that as I grow older I must almost work twice as hard to separate myself apart from the rest of the pack. Personal success for me involves growth and progression in the pursuit of my dreams. This growth came to me this year as I turned thirty working each level of Scripture to pursue where I know I need to be.

These three videos creatively illustrate concepts of going and doing your mission through The Great Commission. The videos ask relevant questions and are extremely short. I think you will find them relevant to struggles we face every day as we seek to shine through with Christ-likeness in commonplace environments.

The GROWTH Track Series – Choose and Pursue Your Eternal Direction (Step Six)

Choose and Pursue Your Eternal Direction

If unfamiliar with my model here, click here to understand the introductory blog entry that explains my novel and original concepts that bring and promote growth through this track into your life by different means through the plan provided below.

I. Reach Out
II. Connect
III. Grow
IV. Discover Your Passion with a FOCUS on God!
V. Pursue the Dream
VI. Choose and Pursue Your Eternal Direction
VII. GO and DO!

Once our dream and vision becomes revealed, God provides us with the choice of free will to pursue our eternal direction. The steps synchronize to work together to the final step where you choose to GO and DO whatever dreams, passions, and eternal directions led you to choose and pursue.

FIRST Relevant Scripture for these sub-points -“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33 (NKJV)

I think when we pursue a Kingdom-building eternal purpose, God grants us peace in doing so. He is the author of our universal eternal story. As writer of our journey, peace comes in growth to discover our passion and then pursue the dream thus culminating into our eternal direction.

SECOND Relevant Scripture for these sub-points

“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.
But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.”

Proverbs 24:16 (NLT)

A.)  When you fall down in pursuit of your eternal direction, God will pick you up.

I believe it is a given in our life as believers that we will fall time and time again. As a choice to live with a higher code of morality in mind, we choose the high road to live through the adversity that pursuit in relationship with God brings. God picks us up time and time again when we can no longer carry ourselves through the fire. I believe I would rather be the one who jumps into the fire in pursuit of my eternal dream rather than the one who simply stands outside the fire watching.

THIRD Relevant Scripture for these sub-pointsJesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27 (NIV)

A.)  When you pursue your eternal direction, God will fulfill the impossible.

We or most often other people believe that things are impossible with societal given limitations; however as the Scripture demonstrates nothing is impossible with God. If Joshua can make the sun stand still with prayers and pleading to the Lord, I know we can accomplish more than sometimes we think we are capable of. We can and will accomplish the impossible if with faith we believe God will work such miracles through us.

FOURTH Relevant Scriptures for these sub-points – And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)

A.)  When you pursue your eternal direction, God will give you all you need to do every good work.

When you live in the shadows of God’s Grace, the blessings come down in abundance. God gives us what we need every time even when we believe we can bear it no longer. When we pursue good works, God blesses the choice of an eternal direction. In the stride for good works, we might fall down, but then God remains there to pick us right back up.

FIFTH Relevant Scripture for these sub-points

“Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)

A.)  Even when tired, God renews our strength to reach our very best and highest potential. We will not grow weary or faint and will spread our eternal wings towards heavenly songs.

I think this simple truth sums up that God follows through when we approach our upmost truest desires when we reach, choose, and pursue our God-appointed eternal direction. We remain strong because we know that what we pursue becomes the right and moral course of action that fulfills our dreams’ calling.

The following are two more verses that I find relevant to discover your passions with a focus on personal growth and your own personal relationship with God. Make note and take to heart God’s Word here.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

Regardless of what you think about Joel Osteen, his message about the power of believing should point you in the right direction when you
realize your eternal direction. When we believe in true faith without doubt, God shows up to answer our long expressed prayers!

 

The GROWTH Track Series – PURSUE THE DREAM! (Step Five)

Pursue the Dream

If unfamiliar with my model here, click here to understand the introductory blog entry that explains my novel and original concepts that bring and promote growth through this track into your life by different means through the plan provided below.

I. Reach Out
II. Connect
III. Grow
IV. Discover Your Passion with a FOCUS on God!
V. Pursue the Dream
VI. Choose and Pursue Your Eternal Direction
VII. GO and DO!

FIRST Relevant Scripture for these sub-points -“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7 (NIV)

A.)  Pursue the dream with ALL YOUR MIGHT!

If we stay the course to never give up, God’s Word promises us that our work will be rewarded. We cannot give into complacency which becomes so easy with discouragement faced in daily survival mode. Would a dream be worth fulfilling if easy?……probably not if you think about it. The things we work the hardest for tend to be the things that are most fulfilling. Give it all you got! God will give you the extra inch when exhausted to reach the finish line.

SECOND Relevant Scripture for these sub-points “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

A.)  Pursue the dream with all your prayers!

Pursue God intentionally with your prayers. He will show up to answer the requests presented before him. Remain on your knees in gratefulness, and the dream will come. If you desire God, you will desire to speak time with Him in prayer. Pretty simple here….He loved you to call your name. So we shall therefore call on his as well.

THIRD Relevant Scripture for these sub-points“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” Matthew 7:7-9 (NKJV)

Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking!

 

A.)  If you never ask, you may never receive.

I think sometimes we know the desires of our heart, but we never ask God. This includes myself especially. And then we wonder why such prayers are never answered. We must ask in order to receive God’s Blessings. He delights in hearing from us. So why not talk to him with any requests that may be on our hearts?

FOURTH Relevant Scriptures for these sub-points

“Joseph had a dream….”We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”… Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” Genesis 37:5-9 (NIV)

…and the story continues…

“‘Here comes that dreamer!’ they said to each other.” Genesis 37:19 (NIV)

…and the story continues…

“We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us.” Genesis 41:12-13 (NIV)

A.)  BE LIKE JOSEPH!

Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters! His stories of tribulation to fulfill the dreams of God’s provisions on his life inspire me! I believe he is a true example of patience for dreams to become fulfilled. He was sold into slavery by his own brothers and family and then told to be dead. Potter’s wife then lied so he was thrown into jail among an onslaught of many other escalated and harsh consequences for troubles that were not his own. Eventually he rose to become second on the planet only to Pharaoh in the worst drought the area witnessed in the history of the region. It is Biblical giants like Joseph we must remember to emulate when our dreams seem stagnant. It was twenty years before God granted the original dreams sent to him. Now that seems like forever to me right now especially since I hope God answers a dream prayer request as soon as possible.

In a previous entry, I wrote a strong blog entry about Joseph that touches on more Biblical principles with his life as related to this growth sub point. Check it out!

FIFTH Relevant Scripture for these sub-points

he said, “Listen to my words:

“When there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
I speak to them in dreams.”

Numbers 12:6 (NIV)

A.)  You are a son or daughter of The Most High God while will reveal your dreams and visions to you.

We really are prophets of the Most High God, and God informs us here in this Scripture that he will deliver our dreams to us through signs revealed in personal and profound ways. While it is hard to wait, sometimes it is all we can do to pursue – wait for God to give us that green light. God sometimes requires us to wait to learn the lessons of today to prepare us for tomorrow.

SIXTH Relevant Scripture for these sub-points– “At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered… ‘Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?’ The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.” 1 Kings 3:5-15 (NIV)

A.)  Ask for the right dreams, and ALL shall be given to you.

Solomon asked for discernment through wisdom, an unselfish spiritual gift and blessing to serve his people. When you ask God for an unselfish dream in order to really serve others, I believe with pure and genuine motives in heart you receive all the more. Your original intention like Solomon also intended to ask for further wisdom or spiritual gifts to make an eternal Kingdom-Building difference. That is the heart of a matter that God yearns for and loves. He rewards us when we seek him pure in heart. What it comes down to is this: when you serve God for the sake of His Name, your dreams and more come forth into reality, fulfilling your innermost joys.

AND THAT IS A POINT WORTH ENDING ON – the pursuit and choice of receiving God’s joy for our lives!

The following are two more verses that I find relevant to discover your passions with a focus on personal growth and your own personal relationship with God. Make note and take to heart God’s Word here.

“Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23(NIV)

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ ” Romans 4:18 (NIV)

I would consider Jon Acuff, the author of Quitter, a modern day expert on the logical pursuit of a dream come true achievement. He advocates keeping your day job until that job becomes a dream job. Acuff may in fact be the reason I did not recently quit a commitment I made. Our cubicle day job serves as a platform to reach for our next dream job. You are capable of pursuing a dream with the pursuit of Christ. Acuff works for Dave Ramsey, and I think his book will change your life much like the growth track here on the blog. I would recommend Quitter with my most sincere regards. If you like his advice in the videos below, you will love his book! Dream big, and eventually together we can quit the day job to leap into our dream job!