Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Struggle we must ...

On this, the anniversary of Dr. King's march on Washington and his historic "I have a dream" speech, I thought it appropriate to share an excerpt from an essay I wrote a few years ago ... 

Dr. King lived, and ultimately gave, his life in the pursuit of a dream. It is captivating, that at such a young age, Dr. King was able to convey with such enormous conviction his vision of freedom, a vision that not only included black men, but true equality for every individual without regard to race or gender. His passion has undoubtedly brought equality closer to reality. As we grow closer to achieving Dr. King’s dream of freedom, we move further away from the horrors of our past. While this growthprovides hope of a future filled with promise, we are not certain that America will ever be devoid of racism. It may always remain a struggle; however, as long as we struggle, we are less likely to repeat the atrocities of our past, a past that no rational American would ever want to relive. Therefore, struggle we will, becausenot every man is equal here in America. A quick walk through history will prove to us that we are closer now than ever before, and while we are striving, we have not yet achieved the dream of true equality. Dr. King’s dream was not one that would bring us close to equality, but rather one that would give every man true equal rights. Various Civil Rights acts and referendums such as affirmative action may have brought an end to segregation andcreated equal opportunity employment; still it has not shielded the black man from all racism. Prayerfully we have reached an end of overt racism, but what about the subtle forms? What about when a black man enters a room full of white people and everyone stares; or, when the women clinches her purse a little tighter when in the presence of African-Americans? We are not free, nor have we achieved the dream. We will be free not when we achieve equal rights for every race; but rather, when we cease to recognize race entirely!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dreams Don't Work ...

I absolutely love to hear people’s dreams! Often times, I believe, the dreams that are inside of a person are a greater indicator of their character than their actual position in life at the moment! Maybe, that is because I am on a path … A journey, and I would hate to be identified by my current position! I currently work a menial job, for too little pay, with a horrible schedule! From the outside looking in, it is not apparent, and often from the inside looking out, it is hard to remember, that this is not the destination, this is simply the path …

I have a dream! There is something burning on the inside of me that compels me (most days) to suck it up, put on my big-boy panties, and drag myself to my mundane, menial, underpaid job! The challenge for me, and for most I would presume, is not to lose sight of the dream …
It is easy, and some would say right, to believe that the dream will just somehow magically come true … But that is not faith, that is a fairytale!

The truth is … DREAMS DON’T WORK … People do!

A few points of practical application:

I. Write the vision and make it plain … Habakkuk 2:2

I once read (or heard - I listen to a lot of teaching) that only 5% of people write their goals down … Of those who do, 95% accomplish them. This is a remarkable statistic! How do I assure that I have a 95% chance of accomplishing a goal … WRITE IT DOWN!

There are several reasons that this is necessary:
1.      We filter the things we write - You won’t write it down if it is not important to you!
2.      Writing it prevents denial, it is/was inside of you - It is always there to remind you!
3.      A written goal is measurable - It prevents you from stopping short!

II.  With a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other … Nehemiah 4:17

Nehemiah is considered by leaders to be one of the greatest leadership books ever written. The people were faced with a, seemingly, impossible task and an enormous enemy! Still, “So we built the wall … because the people had a mind to work.”
Never forget that if your dream is worth dreaming, there will be opposition … Pick up your tools and your weapons and get to it!

III.  … Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and your virtue with knowledge … II Peter 1:5

One of the most ignorant of all of the faith statement (this will be unpopular in faith circles) is, “I have my faith and that’s enough!” Your faith, your dream, while awesome, are not enough! You have to do the work! The Amplified version of II Peter 1:5 makes it very clear. “For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence)”

For faith to be effective, it must have several things standing beside it:
1.      Diligence - persevering application.
2.      Effort - conscious exertion of power: hard work.
3.      Intelligence - the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations.
(all of the above are courtesy of http://www.merriam-webster.com)

For your dream to come true, you will have to apply yourself with perseverance, consciously work hard, and gain understanding and learn to deal with the situations that arise!

So … Dream, dream big, DREAM HUGE DREAMS!

And then … GET TO WORK! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are you expressing your gifts?!?

For a large portion of my life, I was in a position that required me to speak whether I had anything important to say or not … However, for the last few years, that has not been the case. As a result, I have attempted to remain relatively quiet; though I am not sure why! It is not as though I haven’t had things that I have wanted to say, and it is not as though I believe that my voice is less relevant because I chose to relinquish my title. I was aware, that for a while, I needed to rest! I had been running at a pace that literally kills people; and, I was well on my way (You can see my previous post)! The problem for me came in the transition …

Due to the nature of my position, I spent a lot of time reading, a great deal of time studying the word in order to have something that would be relevant and a lot of time writing, though not in the traditional sense. There is not an enormous difference between preparing for a sermon and a blog, story or book; the main difference is, of course, the delivery. Now, for quite a while, I have felt like I had some things that I needed to say. I did not have the feeling that there were people that needed to hear them, so I was a little confused … What was the point, who was I to talk to?

Fast forward to today … As a part of my recent educational endeavors, I am enrolled in a geology class. In examining some rock samples, it is quite easy to see that some samples have a large amount of fossilized organic material; at times, these samples are made up entirely of this fossilized material. Simply stated, these rocks are made up of material that was, at one point, alive. Living material falls to the ground and then becomes buried or covered with liquid. Over time, this material begins to decompose and take on a new form. Typically, rocks …

We all know that the Word of God is alive … So, by implication, the word that God puts in you is alive as well! I am a firm believer that God gives expressions of gifts to every believer! Whether you write, draw, paint, sing, tattoo, read poetry, or whatever, there is no doubt that the gifting that is inside of you is from God! It is an extension of the word of God for you … Now, if that gift – whether word or some other expression of entrusted gifting – goes without being used, that living material falls to the ground and becomes buried. Words and ideas that die and settle to the bottom … They become rocks that take up space!

If you feel as though you are at a point where God is not speaking, or at least not as much as He once was, look around … What do you do with what you last heard? Are you expressing your gifts?!?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We all fall down!

When I first realized that I had a problem, I weighed almost 400lbs, I was not sleeping well and I could make every issue that I faced someone else’s fault … I was mad all of the time! There was not a day when I didn’t lose my temper and blow up like some lunatic. I did a self-evaluation and quickly determined that the only thing that I was truly happy with was my family life; I have great kids and an AMAZING wife (she truly is better than I deserve!), but everything else sucked!!! So, as any sane person would do, I started making changes … Went back to school, got in the gym and started pursuing things that I thought would make me happy. For a while, it worked … But only for a while!

I lost about 120lbs, did great in school and found some level of happiness that I had been missing; or so I thought. In retrospect, I believe that what I actually had done was distract myself from the bigger issue! So, as the newness of the accomplishments of the gym and school began to wane, the issues began to resurface! So, I quit my job! In the midst of a recession, with only moderate savings and no plan, I left my position that not only provided me with great benefits (paid all of my housing, vehicle and communication expenses), but also gave me a pretty good living. On top of that, I was pretty good at it (at least that is what I am told) and I enjoyed parts of it immensely!

I have spent a lot of the time since then floundering. I gained back 90 of the 120lbs that I had lost, failed 2 semesters of school and have become increasingly bitter and angry! The worst part is … I couldn’t tell you why!!!

Just over a year ago, I lost my mom … That was more devastating and left me with more regret than I had ever imagined it could! If your mother is still on this earth stop right now and call, text or email her for no other reason than to tell her you love her! Trust me, one day you will wish that you had done that more no matter how often you do it now! I was willing to admit that the loss of my mother may have caused me some trouble; no matter how tough you are, you still want your mommy sometimes …

Several months ago, I started listening to a Pastor via podcast. This man has become one of the primary voices in my life! He publically discusses a very personal battle. Many would view this as a sign of weakness; however, I view it as a great sign of strength. As I heard him speak about his issue, I realized that several of the things that he identified as signals, were things that I was dealing with. I attributed these issues to the loss of my mom. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that I had been dealing with these issues for years …

This Pastor identified his (and due to the similarities my) issue as depression. What the heck?!? I am a strong, faith-filled believer … I am not depressed! Not depressed in the typical sense, true … but I was angry!

However, the more that I examined my life and the more honest I became, the more I was able to admit that I have been battling a form of depression for years. I thought that depressed people hid in their bedrooms under the covers and contemplated suicide and took drugs to ease the pain; I didn’t do any of those things! What I did was medicate myself to the point of numbness with food … I was killing myself slowly! I hid myself under the covers of arrogance hoping that no one would ever notice the little boy behind the walls of insecurity. Back in September, I got my nutrition and exercise regimen back on track; and last semester, I carried 15 units with a 4.0 GPA. I am by no means implying that I have it all figured out, but what I am saying is this …  

We all have issues, and I believe that few of us have a good understanding of what those issues are at first glance. Some days I stumble – I just ate a sinfully large lunch – but when I do, I typically recognize it for what it is, and can point to a root cause! As of yet, this ability has not kept me from stumbling, but it has helped me get up faster!

After all, it is not your ability to stand that makes you good … It is your ability to rise!

“Even if good people fall seven times, they will get back up. But when trouble strikes the wicked, that's the end of them.” - Proverbs 24:16

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Angered to tears!!!

Have you ever been so mad that it made you cry? It happens to me once in a great while and the tears usually come after a fit of rage; that was the case this morning. So, as I type this, I am sitting at my desk in tears! It has been a very tiring couple of weeks and there are a lot of things on my mind. So, I will be the first to admit that I am probably a little more emotional than normal …

I just heard a very popular TV personality (who I will not name, not because I have illusions that my blog would affect them negatively, just the way I was trained) say that every person that has a weight problem has a medical issue. I literally cussed at the TV! I AM LIVID!!!

I am not naive enough to think that no one that struggles with weight has a medical issue; however, my experience tells me that most people that struggle with weight have a food issue … I DO!!! In my opinion, when this TV personality said that, it gave every person sitting on their couch eating Doritos reason to stay there and not make the changes necessary to get healthy! In the next few seconds they talked about the fact that this person was in the gym everyday at 5am … WHY? If I am genetically predispositioned to be fat, why are you not predispositioned to be thin and healthy … If I have a medical condition that makes me this way, you should be that way simply because you don’t have the condition!!!!

I used to weigh nearly 400 pounds! I confirmed 380 (but had already lost a bit), but when you are that big, it is hard to find a scale that will weigh you … I lost down to 260ish by HARD WORK and proper nutrition! When I made the decision to change careers without the money in savings to carry us through the transition, and couldn’t find work for 6 months, it was cheaper to eat poorly and I felt like the gym was an expense I needed to do without … HUGE MISTAKE!!! I went from 260ish all the way back up to almost 350 over the course of 2 years. Do you know why? FLOYD HAS A FOOD PROBLEM!!!!

I am happy to say, that I am back on track! I am back down to 290 and I am in the gym no less than 3 days a week (usually 5). I have 30 more pounds to loose to get back to my lowest since my son was born … He’s 17! I think I can get than done by the end of the year. I have 75 pounds to go to get to my goal … That will come by hard work and proper nutrition.

Speaking as a fat and formerly fatter person, we don’t need people to make excuses for us that make it easy to remain unhealthy and die! We need people to be honest with us and most of all, we need to be honest with ourselves!!! And, we need to, by whatever means necessary get our life’s back!!!!

At one point in my immaturity, I said some pretty stupid things about weight loss methods (surgeries, acupuncture, medical procedures), I regret every one of them!!! A person that struggles with their weight needs to, by whatever means necessary, change their thinking!!! I have a friend that weighed nearly 500lbs … Had weight loss surgery, changed his thinking and has lost over 200! The key is he changed his brain! The affects of the surgery will only last so long if you don’t change your brain! To be honest, I considered the surgery, but I knew that if I did that, I would soon be struggling again because I would not have the maturity to appreciate the weight loss if I didn’t sweat, walk, run, lift, and punish every pound away!

If you struggle with your weight (the tears are starting again) I understand! Please, PLEASE do whatever you have to do to get it under control!!! Change your thinking! If the gym does that, do it! If surgery does that, do it! If looking in the eyes of you children does that, do it! If putting a pad lock on the refrigerator does that, do it! WHATEVER IT TAKES!!!

I am by no means an expert! Though, as passionate as I am about this I might need to become one … But if there is anything I can do to help you on your journey … I would be happy to! Need nutrition advice, if I don’t know it, I can find it! Need cooking tips, I can do that! Need a gym buddy, I go 3-5 times a week! Need a kick in the butt, I wear a 10½!

Seriously … Take your life back! It will change not only you, but your family forever! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Counting the cost ...

I am by no means an old man despite what my children think! In fact, I am not even middle aged yet; at least, I hope not … I want to live longer than 76 years! However, I keep hearing the words, “I can remember when I used to by that for $____.___.” I used to laugh at people that made those types of statements! Now, no matter how inexpensive it is by today’s standards, it always seems to be multiple times over what I remember.

All of this kind of snuck up on me! We have, like many in the midst of recession, have had to scale back our spending (though need to do so is only indirectly related to the recession). For a long period of time, both my wife and I were working and had good jobs. We were by no means rich! However, we were quite comfortable …

Comfort breeds complacency, and that was certainly the case for us! I am sure that things did not double, or often triple in price overnight! What almost certainly happened was that we stopped counting the costs! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Not so common ...

I have always spent a lot of time in public ... For a time, I lived in a small town and was a, somewhat, prominent figure. I spent a large portion of my life in a position that required me to be aware of my behavior, you never knew who was watching or when they were going to need to be able to trust you; I was always aware that one misspoken word, or one flare in my temper could ruin my ability to be able to connect with a person in the future. Aside from that, I was raised, and am currently raising my children, that there should be a certain amount of courtesy! Not that you always have to go out of your way and go the extra mile to be nice ... Just good old common courtesy! Well, IT IS NOT SO COMMON ANYMORE!!!

I cannot understand how people can be so rude! I honestly think I would appreciate it more if I could convince myself that people were simply that stupid ... Unfortunately, I cannot!

Will somebody PLEASE charge the paddles and shock common courtesy back to life!
        - And, while we are at it ... Start giving common sense mouth to mouth!!!