Working on a Dream




Monday, September 29, 2014

How the ugliest dog wins.

Ugly dogs.

I know, no dog is ugly, but the ones below defy all odds. 

Tongues sticking out, crazy eyes, and super hips.  It's a little hard to look at if you ask me. 

Here is something to think about. Each one of these dogs is loved dearly by their owners. Why? In spite of their awkward appearance, they have won over hearts. I've heard it said that "A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself."  
Is there anything quite like a dog?

As a pup they latch on to you with such single handed devotion and unlike humans, their love never fades, it only continues to grow. I do not think it's a coincidence that they have the name "dog," as it is GOD spelled backwards. Such pure, undivided love. It can be found in no other species on a regular basis other than the dog.  

Do you have a dog that has touched your life?
Here is mine! Charlie Brown.
He is my best friend and has stretched out my heart for what seems like miles. 

Share this and post a pic of your pup! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Carmen Anthony

Psalm 139:4-5
"Before a word is on my tongue,
You know all about it, Lord.
You have encircled me;
You have placed Your hand on me."

Psalm 139: 13-16
13 "For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know this very well.
15 My bones were not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began."

Numbers 6: 24-26
24 “The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."

Thank you all for your prayers & support!

Dad, Mom, Big Sis, Cool Little Bro.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

No excuses, Sir!

In the fall of 1971, Bob McDonald joined the US military Academy at West Point, New York.  Bob learned quickly there are only four acceptable responses when addressed by a superior officer: yes sir, no sir, I don't understand sir, and no excuse sir.  

As Bob explains, imagine I shined my shoes, my trousers pressed, and I go out to formation.  While in line, one of my classmates rushes past and steps in a puddle, splashing mud all over my shoes and trousers.  Then an upperclassman walks by and notices. "McDonald, why are you in formation with mud all over your shoes and trousers?

As a West Point Cadet, I can go through all for possible answers in my head, "yes sir" would restate the obvious, "no sir" would not fit, and "I don't understand sir" would make me look senseless. The only answer I had left was the fourth one, and it's the most powerful one of all, "No excuse Sir."
Even though something happened to me that was outside my control, I wasn't supposed to make any excuses. I was supposed to say, "No excuse, Sir." "It won't happen again." That's how the West Point Cadet takes responsibility and forms character.

Speaking of government agencies, there was a great King in the Old Testament named David. David had his ups and downs as a leader, from slaying the giant Goliath to committing adultery with Bathsheba. However, something peculiar in his narrative connects to the story above. We pick up the story at the end of 2 Samuel after David takes a census (which he was directly told not to do). 
Here is the account recorded, "So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house.”

And there it is folks.
David was tired of looking out the window of his palace to find someone else to blame; instead he peered into the mirror and took personal responsibility. "No excuses, sir" was the great King's reply. This, I believe represented a real shift in David's life. No longer was he the man that was trying to squirm out of his wrongs, somewhere along the line he had developed broad shoulders of character and quit the blame game. Troubled actor Tom Sizemore had a similar realization too when he said, "I used to blame my problems on other people. But my moment of clarity, if you want to call it that, came when I was looking in the mirror one day and just burst into tears. It wasn't just that I looked bad, it was that I knew my problem was me."

Blame shifting will only get you so far, so quit shifting the monkey and take responsibility for your life. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

How not to punch your spouse in the face: "Saving your Marriage"

He hurt you.
You hurt him back
... Let the ugliness begin continue.

Getting along can be tough.  In all actuality, it can be downright impossible at times.
I know some marriages resemble the War of the Roses, while some others sound more like the song, Bed of Roses.  Why do couples resort to such extreme measures when trying to solve marital issues? If you are reading this and have tied the knot, then you do not have the option to cold-shoulder your spouse till' death. Likewise, going round to round in a slug-fest like Mike Tyson's Punch-Out isn't a great idea either. If you have not already noticed, turning into an ice-berg on your mate is not that effective nor is transforming into a mixed martial artist about to enter a cage match.  Both are ugly extremes that will not work in saving your marriage.  So go ahead do me (and your spouse) a favor; take off your gloves and go sit by the fire place while I give you a better method that will save your marriage.

The method is a simple procedure called "the 7 A's."  I discovered the 7 A's years ago in a seminar dealing with church conflict and they have stood the test of time.  The 7 A's are simple guide that will help you get over any barrier that stands in your way to healing a relationship.  The 7 A's can apply to any universal conflict, but since I have been writing on marriage a lot lately, I have decided to apply them to the home. The reason is I have noticed how many of you want a great marriage, but just do not know how to have one.  So today, I am writing part 4 of my series title, "Saving your Marriage."

The first A stands for Address.  When there is a breach in a relationship, you feel hurt.  And when most of us feel hurt -we tend to recluse.  We talk to everyone about the situation except for the person or group that has offended us.  This is why the very first step is to go the person face to face.
Fast Fact: Did you know that Jesus Himself prescribed this method in the Gospel of Matthew?  "If your brother offends you go to him in private ..."

A number two is Avoid.  As in avoid excuses.  If you are wrong then you are wrong. Words like: if, but, or maybe are all ways to soften the situation.  There is something about being totally honest and telling the person that you are sorry and you need their forgiveness.

Number three A is Admit. You have to be specific.  This one is especially important for the ladies.  I have noticed that I have to be VERY specific when dealing with Christen.  She doesn't want to hear my fancy vague words, rather she wants to hear that I am really sorry for something specific that I did to hurt her.

Next A is Apologize.  More than just acknowledging the wrong,  you have to go a step further and show sorrow.  If you offended your spouse, then you should take steps to make things right.

Number five A is Accept.  Even after you admit & apologize, you have to accept responsibility.  There are often consequences to your words and actions (or non-actions).  The pain you caused is similar to a rock in water that sends a ripple effect to all the edges of the lake. You cannot reverse what happened, so you must be willing to reap what you have sowed

Alter is the next A. If you are truly repentant and genuinely care about your spouse, then it is time for you to alter your behaviour.  Many will read this and think that I am advocating a sheep-ish approach and I know that Mr. Macho isn't going to change for anyone ... but like I tell people in marriage counsel, "YOU CAN EITHER BE RIGHT or YOU CAN BE HAPPY."  Time to get over yourself. A marriage is a joint effort and both of you should be bending and giving and taking and working and ... you get my point.  Bottom line, if your spouse is not acting irrational or outlandish, then you should at least start to shrink the behaviour that causes so much disruption.

Finally, we have the last A, Ask.  Asking for forgiveness is a very difficult thing to do. The final A will take humility on your part.  But I must ask, "What is the alternative?" Who wants to live in a house that really is a prison with pretty wallpaper and fancy decorations?  I know that I don't.  And I'm guessing you don't either.

Picture of the Year!
Anthony & Christen right in the middle of Time Square
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
-Mignon McLaughlin

Monday, September 1, 2014

what would YOU do???

Is it OK to _________ ??????
When should I _______________?????????
Life is full of grey areas.
And grey areas generally mean, "using your brain." If you are like me, you have on more than one occasion thought, "What is the right thing to do in this situation? Unfortunately, many of us look to the TV; our group of friends or to society in general to figure out how we should act or if something is morally acceptable.  I know that for many, this is our default setting; but seriously, how do you make moral decisions in life and know that what you did right was the right thing? 

Since life does not come with a manual and you do not have me to chaperon you around, I'll share with you something that guides me in my daily life.*
It is 3 questions that are contained in this helpful verse found in the book of I Corinthians. "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.
All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."

Remember, the focus of today's post is helping you live ethically when you really do not know how. Therefore, a note about this verse is in order: this verse isn't as much about what to think more than it is about how to think. I like to tell people that living a morally upright life is more like a Treasure Map than a Road Map.  A road map is full of millions of details, destinations and drives while a treasure map is oftentimes sparse with a few landmarks and the famous "X" marks the spot.  The verse above is there for you when you are standing in between the landmark and the "X".   

Here are the three questions with a brief explanation:  
The first question you should be asking yourself is: "Is it Lawful?"
Here you will be thinking about if you will be breaking any laws (which not only includes the civil government's laws but God's moral law).  This first question is a bit tricky and is not something that you can just afford to gloss over. The reason is due to the fact that there will be times when our modern laws either do not match up with the moral law or worse, stand in direct conflict with them. This is why Martin Luther King Jr. taught that a "just law is a man made code that squares with moral law or the Law of God."

Next, follow up with this question, "Is it helpful?" You have to think about will what you are about to do uplifting?  What are your motives?  Will your action(s) benefit people? Etc. Think of yourself, your family & your community. This oftentimes, will help lead you in the right direction when making decisions.

Finally, ask, "Is it enslaving?"  Here you want to ascertain whether or not an act could become obsessive, out of control, or if over time you will become engrossed in something that started off innocent -but now has hooked you in.  This happens a lot by the way; you get involved with something that is at first innocent, then over the months and years, the tables have turned and now you are owned by a person, thought or substance.  This is why the Puritans used to say that sin is like a bait on a hook intended to lure you in. If you  bite, the hook will sink into your mouth, then you will get dragged to your death.

Above, you have three very helpful questions that will help you navigate the uncertain terrain of life.

*As a side note, if I was going to add in one more addition to the above, I would throw in the importance of surrounding  yourself with wise men and women that you can go to and discuss your dilemmas.

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