7 Rules for Surviving Change

 
“Change before you have to,” are words from the iconic, Jack Welch.  Are you ready for the change?


As I noted in my previous post, “Farewell,” I am going through a career shift.  After nearly 30 years of full-time ministry, I am at a place of change.  After Heather, my first wife, died, I came to understand the valley of the shadow of death…and the valley of suck that caregivers journey.  During that time, God and I had many conversations. Back then, I sensed change would come for me in this area but how? When?  

I found that out.

When I look at it I think there are two kinds of people: those who fight change and those that accept change when it comes.  I don’t think either take it lightly or easily, accepting doesn’t mean it won’t happen, its perspective.  I remember vividly when Heather’s contractions started and our rush to the hospital.  Logan, our son, was coming into the world.  Fighting against this wasn’t even in the cards.  And years later, at her bedside, none of us could stop the moment from coming when Heather would take her last breath.

So, again, I came to accept change would come again.  Not a damn thing we can do except fight it or accept it, and I tend to be the latter.  This time, I have prepared, though that doesn’t mean it was easy.  Like packing for a camping trip…it takes A LOT of work to have that fun!  Though, I can’t say this change is fun.  It is change nonetheless and how I face it, well, that I have some say about now.


I came across a list of 7 Rules of Life.  I think they are more appropriate: 7 Practices for Surviving Change.  Facing a career change like me? Family life in upheaval? Do you need to move?  Have you lost a friend? A love? Your dreams?   Life IS change so I would say either would work just fine and these seven simple rules aren’t wrong.  They may just be the guard rails you need.


Let it Go.

Never ruin a good day by thinking about a bad day.


Ignore The Haters.

Don't listen to what other people think of you. Live a life that is empowering to you.


Give it Time.

Give it some time, time heals, but scars do stay.


Don’t Compare.

Don't compare yourself; the only person you should try to beat is the person you were yesterday.


Stay Calm.

Stay calm and know that its okay to not have everything figured out.


It’s on You.

You are in charge of your happiness and how your life turns out.


 Smile, or don’t.

Life is short. Enjoy it while you have it.


You can fight it but change will run you down like a semi-truck.  You can’t win that fight but I have come to learn, though life sucks, you can go after the good and seek after God, and you’ll find that when the hard ground of our souls is broken up, it makes good soil for things to grow; for change to flower and give fruit.


Go on now. Enhance life. Enhance home. Enhance our world with the changed you!





Farewell

 There is what we plan for.  There is what we dream of.  Then there is life as it works its way out through the twists and turns.  I have served in full-time ministry for nearly 30 years now and rarely, have things all gone as planned.  As I shared on the first Sunday of the new sermon series, “The God Story,” we are part of a story not a formula.


This has become the case for me now. I am writing this to share that I will be leaving the appointment of Anchor Park UMC at the beginning of June 2023.  After prayerful consideration and much conversation our lives have made a turn that allows my wife and me to continue to call Alaska home but that means, I will set aside my stole, full-time, as a pastor.

Together, as pastor and church; we navigated a pandemic and the process of reimagining and reopening our church to ministry.  I like to think my gifts were used, like Esther, “For such a time as this.”  Now, by stepping aside, it will allow a new clergy and church, to cast a vision for the future and ministry to the Airport Heights/Anchorage Community.


Our new home will be a cabin in the Alaska wilderness.  I will be on call as pulpit supply as needed for Jesus’ church but will be fulfilling my calling full-time to help people enhance life and enhance home as a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Dream Makers in Wasilla.  You’ll see some changes regarding content but I will continue to encourage and enhance life and soul, even as I help enhance homes and home life.  


Remember:

Do no harm.

Do good.

Stay in love with God.


Jedi Pastor Ken



Be Part of Life's Story and Stupid Simple Spirituality


 “We experience life as a story; not a formula,”

-Jacob Armstrong


Hallmark holiday movies…mark another year that I survived them.  I am really impressed with the actors and how they work the roles, but we all know there is a formula.  Our superhero movies have a formula.  Our news articles have a formula.


A good friend reminisced about the 80s recently. This got me thinking…so much of those movies had a formula.  Teenagers, with no jobs but seemingly endless resources (parents/guardians) took on their “world” of high school - fighting the adults/the “man” or bullies - and in the end, they emerge at 18 with a happy-ever-after story.  


Only, that is a formula - and it only gets you to graduation…if you are lucky.  But what about the next 70 years after that?  Hmmmmm…


I’ll be the first to say that while not always easy, I felt the “formula” was fine until I got diagnosed with cancer, then natural disaster, mental illness diagnoses in my family, then would come vision loss, then cancer and death of my wife and the struggles of being an only parent and trying to piece it all back together.  


This has been my story.  No Hollywood screen writer could write this.  There was no formula. It was the premise of my first book: “Life Sucks Seek God.”  It didn’t have a formula.  I just wrote my story - my journey - my faith.  I was SOLD that there was a formula to faith.


It is a lie.  There is no formula to our faith. 


You can go back 2000 years to the story of the early church and Paul’s writings to the Corinthians (2 Cor 11:1-4) where he writes how false teachers had taught the people a false faith about Jesus - a different Jesus entirely.  A formula should have prevented this - but there isn’t a formula.  There is life.  There is faith.  We live it out or we don’t and there is no promise that living by faith sets your path in a formula of happy ever-after, rainbows and unicorn sparkle path.  


What faith does do is give purpose to the story.  It helped me understand that I was, and am, in a story I didn’t know existed at my birth: The God Story.  And God is part of this story, not out of it - this is what Advent reminds us: This God is Immanuel = God with us.

I don’t know how your story will end.  I don’t know how mine will end.  In a moment, this blog will end.  It has followed a formula to this point but typically, there would some great call to action, some formula of guidance to follow…but screw that…

What are you going to do with your story? I don’t buy the idea of some Christians that your whole life is mapped out and you have no choices.  I don’t think many of the Bible folks would agree with that either.  They made a mess of things.  And the early disciples mostly died as martyrs…are any of us following that formua?  We think we are being “persecuted” when people don’t want prayers at football games.  That isn’t persecution - that is opinion.


Love your enemy.  That is the hard stuff.  Do to other people what you want them to do to you.  Give away your stuff and don’t be a hoarder of things. 


God didn’t give us a formula, God dropped us into the story of God.  Start living like it - you are writing your part and be part of the good.  Jesus said it simply: Love God and Love your neighbor. 


Damn.  That is just stupid simple spirituality right there. Go and do likewise.






Photo by picjumbo.com & RODNAE Productions: https://www.pexels.com

Five Questions to Guide Your Dreaming to Reality in the New Year


 At the opening of the movie Pretty Woman, there comes a simply and endearing set of lines that also will bring the movie to a close, “What's your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don't; but keep on dreamin' - this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin'.”


I was an assistant manager of the Buccanneer Movie Theater in Greenville, NC when this sleeper, sensation of a movie came out.  I heard the lines for weeks on end and I never got tired of hearing it.  “What’s your dream?”  Hollywood has lost much of its magic but the question still is there - WHAT IS YOUR DREAM???


As a pastor for nearly 30 years, this idea rarely comes up in sermon preparation yet, dreams are a major part of the Biblical story.  Jacob’s famous ladder.  King Nebuchadnezzar, and of course, the dream of Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and the Christ child are just a few.  


But what of our dreams?  Where do they fit?  With the New Year, I think you and I should be asking that question.  I did last year and it began to reform how I looked at life and what direction my life would take.  When I wrote “Life Sucks Seek God,” after my first wife, Heather’s death, I didn’t know what the future would hold.  I didn’t have a dream any more.  Cancer and her death had “sucked” the dreams away.  


Now, thanks to Rebound Coaching and Ron Geisler’s guidance, I am looking at 2023, not with merely new resolutions but new dreams - new goals - a new vision.  What came out of our weeks of reading, reflection and coaching was three things.


  1. I want to be a kick-a$$ husband (and dad).  I have work to do.  I am a husband again, and along with my two kids, I have two new kids (and have “adopted” a few too). Yes, they are adults but they need to see how I live and love and care for Lauren.  

  2. Stay in love with Jesus.  This is the foundation of everything.  This matters so much more than anything else and for me to be the best at anything, I have to keep following Jesus at the front and center.  This hasn’t been easy so getting this right is key to all dreams.

  3. Helping people enhance life and enhance home.  This is getting back to the “brass tacks” of the matter - what can offer.  I can’t be all things to all people like Paul but I can offer a lot more with my own take on things. The Way for me is going to fit for some and not others.  I am ok with that.


This ain’t Hollywood, this is real life and everybody has a dream but that dream is something you have to do more than just WISH for, you have to WORK for it!  Every dream God gave, fit the person God gave it too.  God has given you gifts to go with the dream. 

Here are five questions to guide you this week ahead of New Year’s, take some time with them and answer them for yourself:


Who do you want to become?  

What do you need to do - change - learn to get there?

When will you start and when will you know you get there?

Where will you be when you get there - success will look like _________?

How will you achieve what you want?


It is true: “Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin'.”  But this ain’t Hollywood.  Make the dream happen.


Enhancing Life. Enhancing Home.



Five Important Life Lesson My Puppy Is Teaching Me


Pets are awesome but the process of training them to be awesome, well, that can be a challenge. It doesn't happen overnight. We recently rescued an amazing pup to add to our zoo of one bird, one dog and two cats.  Suddenly, we are looking through the world of this 2-3 month old AND teaching her to view the world through our eyes!  So much to see and smell and learn!


Of course we’ve had the potty accidents but she has come along quickly.  Leaning a schedule and to obey commands and get along, well that is a process.  Learning what bed time is reminds me of the days when my kids were babies…and that got me thinking, with all the lessons I am teaching…what am I learning?


  1. Be Patient with Change

It takes 30 days to form a new habit, right?  It takes time for a plant to grow, right?  Babies don’t walk overnight and puppies and kittens don’t open there eyes right away.  Change takes time.  If it takes time for a puppy, how much more for a person?  Having been in ministry for nearly 30 years, I have watched people change.  Being with folks in AA and NA, there are times we stumble and fall, but be patient.  People need time to get back up and change.


  1. Pay Attention to the One in Front of me.

I can’t walk away from this little one or jump over to work, or even a quick post to Instagram. If puppy is out and about, she has to have my attention or she is going to get in trouble.  But did I really need puppy to remind me that people are the same way?   If I am in a conversation with someone, I need to be all there.  If it is my wife, my kid, a church member, a friend, a stranger, a client - pay attention to the one in front of me.


  1. Everything can be fun, but doesn’t mean its ok

Wow! Who knew all the ways an animal come up with to have fun?!?! I have a “dead” Ewok and now I have to protect the carpet! Who knew digging and chewing carpet could provide entertainment?! That doesn’t mean it is ok.  Binge watching Netflix can be fun (or a Star Wars marathon) but that doesn’t mean it is the best or even good for us.  There are many vices or sins that maybe fun, but lets not kid ourselves that they are ok.


  1. Food is ok but don’t eat it all.

Ok, so yeah, gluttony is one of the sevent deadly sins too and I am pulling it from the previous point. But treats and rewards are important!  But lets keep them in moderation!  When we first brought puppy home, it was easy to see she had learn to fight and  struggle for every bite.  We had to moderate her eating.  Food is great but don’t have  eyes bigger than your stomach!


  1. Being still and chill is good.


Like a 2 year old fighting bedtime, our puppy fights naps too!  I forgot they’ll do this.  They just swear they are missing out.  But thankfully, she has an older brother to watch who relaxes, lays down and chills our a lot.  She is learning to do the same.  And we need to do it too.  In my free ebook, 5 Benefits of a Morning Ritual, I touch on this subject a little.  Be still and chill.


I have no doubt there will be more lessons to come.  There is so much life has to teach us.  Every pet we own is unique and if that is so, how much more unique are each and every one of US!? We have no idea what someone is going through. We don’t know their mental and emotinal personalities.  We can’t possibly know all the potential they have either.  So it seems that we ought to be giving a lot more: “YES!”  “WAY TO GO!” “I’M SO PROUD OF YOU!” to folks when we catch them doing what is right.  I’m not sure head rubs and chin scratches are in order but a hug and high-five could do wonders!


Take the lessons and go enhance your life, your home, and the world!










3 Proven Ways to Overcome Adversity in Life


My best position in basketball was the 7th or 8th man. In other words, I wasn’t the best, but when the coach needed defense, I was in the game.  When it came to covering the guard or rebounding in the clutch, that was when I moved up on the depth chart.  Hey, I was the short kid and not all that good at shooting.  In today’s world, that is often a “failure” kind of approach. It's an all-or-nothing mentality.  


But I got in the game.  Here is a simple reminder: “Falling down doesn’t make you a failure, but staying down does.”



Over and over again, life knocks us down. Just cause I didn’t make the team later in my youth doesn’t mean I couldn’t ever play basketball!  If there was a hoop and a ball, I could still play, it just meant I wasn’t cut out for the NBA, and so what?  It was still fun to play.  The choice had to be made that I wasn’t going to sit down.


One of the writers of ancient wisdom noted: “A just person falls seven times, and then rises up again.” (Proverbs 24:16a) Let's break this down a bit:


  1. Be a Just Person: Being a just person; a person of CHARACTER not simply being "good".  This is THE foundation.  Being someone of integrity is vital.  My dad taught me that.  Be the same person when no one is looking.  This is the foundation of everything that comes next.  Let me ask you: is being a person of character important to you?


  1. Get After It:  Are you in the game? The assumption is that life is going to hit you - 7 or more times!  My book, Life Sucks Seek God names it from the get go.  You have be in the game to get knocked down and you will!  I got knocked down early and then went a ways in life before cancer, vision loss, death of my wife, and many other things started hitting me.  I fell hard.  What next?


  1. GET UP:  Had I not focused on the character issues - the inner person/defeating the false self - the rising up part could have been next to impossible and/or had me looking to “cut corners” on my character.  And how would that have turned out?  I might have “won” but I would have lost my soul.  


Surrounding yourself with good people, and people of integrity is important.  It always makes a huge difference if you put good stuff in your head and heart.  What do you watch? What do you read? What do you listen to each day?  Do you take time for self-reflection?  All of these make a difference in the issue of character.

Maybe most important though: who are your heroes? Who do you look to as a role model in your life?  Are they consistent in public and private?  Many have fallen off my list because there wasn’t consistency and it is worth asking - who do you want to be like in the end?


Start today. Enhance your life by building your character.  The best list I have ever found is this one:  Ask yourself, am I…

Trustworthy

Loyal

Helpful

Friendly

Courteous

Kind

Obedient

Cheerful

Thrifty

Brave

Clean

Reverent


I may not have won a world championship, but its character that counts when it matters most.











How to Get Over Your Bad Attitude in 3 Steps

 


Are you ready?  

1. What is one thing you are thankful for today?

2. What is another thing you are thankful for today?

3. What is a third thing to be thankful for today?


See?!?!  That wasn't so hard was it?

"Gratitude is a powerful human emotion. By conveying and receiving simple ‘thank you’ messages, we can truly derive the pleasure that we seek everywhere else. Gratitude, derived from the Latin word ‘gratia,’ means gratefulness or thankfulness." (From The Neuroscience of Gratitude and Effects on the Brain)

Reading and listening to podcasts exposes one to a lot of great ideas.  Some of those ideas are unique and some, well, they get repeated and shared a lot and for MOST PEOPLE - that is because there is a truth to them!  At some point, it isn't about the science, it is about the practice and by working on a practice of being thankful, we rewire our brains.

Like so much, when we seek to enhance life; enhance soul, we aren't dealing with modern discoveries but ancient wisdom.  The Apostle Paul wrote 2,000 years ago to followers of Jesus, "Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."  Of course, Thanksgiving is a great time to start this, just like New Year's can be a great time to start new habits, but the wisdom and thought behind why isn't new...its old, ancient even, and worth your time to start.

Let's face it, we have lived through a TON of upheaval and much of our world is in disarray and people are finding more to be against than being for something.  You can't change the WORLD but you can change YOU.  And, as I have discovered, when you change YOU, then you begin to change the WORLD around you.  

Give thanks and start to enhance life, enhance soul, and enhance home.  

This is the way.





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