Courage Fear Featured

The 7 Best Things About Fear

We are fascinated by fear. We mix heavy doses into our entertainment, our conversation, our plans, and even our dreams. Usually, we make fear out to be the villain in our story but that’s not totally fair.

There is another side to fear, a better, more noble side. In celebration of that, here are the 7 best things I can think of about fear:

#1 – Fear has your best interests at heart

Fear is trying to keep you safe. And let’s face it, you need to survive. Given some of the crazy things you attempt, fear has its job cut out for it.

Fear is making you think and prepare. It wants you to look before you leap. Because there might be some stairs or a bridge nearby and then you would look silly.

#2 – Fear is good at its job

Fear doesn’t claim to be the end all, be all. Courage is not its job. It just does one thing. Fear makes no apologies for this. Someone has to look out for you. So, watch out for that coffee table!

#3 – Fear is only half the story

That means the best part of your story is beyond fear. Fear just wants to make sure you get there in one piece. So, don’t look to fear as a counselor. Don’t dwell on fear. Don’t let fear stop you. Fear is the legal disclaimer at the front of your story that keeps you from getting sued.

#4 – Fear means you’re doing something right

Fear of the unknown means you’ve reached the edge of your comfort zone. It means you’re learning something, testing your limits, growing. You are being proactive instead of waiting passively. It means you’re risking failure in order to attempt something better. And that is the path to success.

#5 – Fear is temporary

Fear goes away once you start doing something. Because your brain can’t do something and focus on fear at the same time. When you look away, it goes away.

#6 – Fear is just a feeling

Fear is not a fact or an obstacle or a limitation. Fear is just a warning alarm going off in your subconscious based on your experiences in the past. But you are creating new experiences that will change how you think. Fear is a caution sign, not a stop sign or a direction sign.

#7 – Fear leads you to faith

God fears nothing. When Jesus calmed the storm, he did not say to his disciples, “Oh ye of little courage.” He said, “Do you have no faith?” When scary things happen, they make us realize our limitations and cause us to seek a higher power.

Fear gives us the motivation to reach back to our most comforting, courage-inspiring relationship – God. The more we hang around the One With No Fear, the less fear we have.

What do you think?

These are my 7 favorite things about fear. If you have some more, please share them in the comments below. We’d all love to hear them.

Now, let’s go out there and face the day with courage. Woo hoo!

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10

Blog Courage Featured

42 Times You Are NOT Waiting On God

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

This scripture is often quoted to teach us patience and to show the dangers of “getting ahead of God.” But, as it turns out, the King James translation is misleading. The Hebrew word is actually better translated as Hope or Trust.

This changes everything. I wish I’d realized it sooner. After more than sixty years of life, I often find that while I thought I was waiting on God, He was actually waiting on me.

The word “wait” is used in the Old Testament 94 times but Jesus said it only once when he told the disciples in Acts to wait for the Holy Spirit, who is now with us.

The word “immediately” is used only 8 times in the entire Old Testament but it is used 34 times in the Gospels alone and 11 times in the book of Acts.

If you look at the complete thought of the passage in Isaiah, the whole thing turns around. Listen in the NIV version.

Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
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.

This doesn’t sound like waiting at all. It sounds like standing back up after you get knocked down. It sounds like, “Never quit!”

Considering how hard it is to motivate yourself to do anything, considering how many distractions are placed directly in our path, considering how many people are energetically trying to interrupt us to buy their thing or promote their ideas, here are:

42 Times You Are NOT Waiting On God

  1. When you have clear instructions and a mission.
  2. When you wait for someone else to do it.
  3. When you wait to be perfect.
  4. When you wait until you know enough.
  5. When you wait for someone more talented.
  6. When you wait for an expert.
  7. When you wait out of ignorance.
  8. When you wait out of cowardice.
  9. When you wait out of political correctness.
  10. When you wait until you feel like it.
  11. When you wait for the perfect time.
  12. When you wait until you have more money.
  13. When you wait without praying.
  14. When you wait without preparing.
  15. When you wait because you allow yourself to be distracted.
  16. When you wait because you’ve never done it before.
  17. When you wait because that’s not the way it’s done.
  18. When you wait until the problem is gone.
  19. When you wait outside the school until the gunfire stops.
  20. When you wait to speak against evil.
  21. When you wait to speak the truth.
  22. When you wait to share salvation.
  23. When you wait because you are too young.
  24. When you wait because you are too old.
  25. When you wait because it’s someone else’s job.
  26. When you wait because you don’t want to get involved.
  27. When you wait until help arrives.
  28. When you wait until tomorrow to do the good you could do today.
  29. When you wait to encourage.
  30. When you wait to love.
  31. When you wait to apologize.
  32. When you wait for someone’s permission.
  33. When you wait to do what you know you should do.
  34. When you wait to live up to your potential.
  35. When you wait to try.
  36. When you wait until it gets easier.
  37. When you wait until conditions are right.
  38. When you wait until someone else tries it first.
  39. When you wait out of habit.
  40. When you wait because there’s plenty of time.
  41. When you wait because it’s all you’ve ever known.
  42. When you wait until it is too late.

So . . . What am I waiting for? I’m running out of reasons.

Blog Courage Featured

Courage for the Gap

“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”- Zig Ziglar

We live in the gap between good actions and good results.

If good results came immediately and in direct proportion to the pain of our efforts, it would be easier to see the connection. Instead, the delay gives us time to doubt.

Now, I don’t imagine that, without this gap, I would somehow get everything right. The only place that happens is in my imagination. And even my best intentions fall far short of actual action. At least making mistakes teaches us things.

But the delay between my best efforts and my best results does give me time to cause some trouble.

Causing Trouble

Instead of holding the course, I get distracted. I get bored. I get anxious. I get impatient. And I have plenty of help doing it.

The latest shiny thing comes along promising to make my life effortless. It could be a tool, a toy or a strategy. It promises no waiting, no patience required. You could feel good now. Just buy this or try that and your problems are solved.

But they aren’t. Because nothing bridges the gap. Life requires me to wait it out. God requires it.

Why the Gap?

The reason is because the best things in life are in the gap. In the space between good actions and good results, our strength is forged. Persistence is developed. Courage gets its exercise. Goals appear like stepping stones to the future.

Hope trains to lift us higher. Character finds its feet and stands.  Grit moves forward. Faith stretches and begins to run.


Love lives in the gap. Love sees what has been and what could be. What must be. Love sees the best parts of us and encourages them. Love stands beside and whispers, “You can make it.”

Love weaves beautiful dreams of things to come. Love has the vision and strength to build a future worth having. Even if it is a future we might not reach for ourselves.


But the best part of the gap between our actions and our results is the time it allows for forgiveness. For if our good results came immediately after our best actions, our debts would also be due.

If judgment came immediately for our worst actions, there would be no time for repentance. No place for mercy. No home for grace. No space for redemption. We would have no hope for the future. No growth.

We would get exactly what we have earned – justice.

We Need The Gap

We are built for it. We are born problem solvers and believers. We cannot control our circumstances or guarantee our outcome. But in the gap in between, we have control over how we respond. It is our opportunity to change ourselves for the better. And maybe even change the world a little.

We control what we do with the time we have. Have courage. Do good. And in the gap do more good. Stand strong and have faith that the good result will come.

And for the rest, have the courage to ask for forgiveness.

Because Jesus stands in the gap having paid our toll. And on the other side, the God of goodness and grace will meet us, with blessings we cannot imagine.

Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us. – (Hebrew 12:1)


Photo by Omer Salom on Unsplash
Adventure Dogs Perspective Pets

The Interruption IS The Plan

I have my plan to write and post a significant piece of the book every weekend and it’s a good plan. It helps motivate me and focuses my energy. It lets others know what to expect. But that assumes I was right in my plan all along, and that’s not the way the best parts of life seem to work. If I am paying attention, the interruptions are often better than the plan.

The God of Surprise

If I had everything figured out in advance, that means I know what I’m doing. Obviously, this is not the case. I have to leave open the possibility that God is trying to tell me something. I have to listen for his voice. I have to admit that I have a lot to learn. This seems like humility, and I suppose it is, but there’s something much more fun about it.

It’s an adventure. It’s a new road that appears over the hill. It’s a new book from my favorite author. It’s a surprise party. It is the unexpected appearance of an old friend.

This last one is, in fact, what happened.

My phone dinged and I checked my messages, expecting another communique of domestic bliss, like, – pick up some milk. Instead, it was a text message from the other side of the world. My friend, who shall remain somewhat mysterious due to his occupation, was going to be in town this weekend and was looking for a place to stay.

I quickly responded and all my well-considered plans were abandoned.

I have been called spontaneous, impulsive and mercurial. I made that last one up. I don’t know anyone who uses the word mercurial in real life but it sounded better than rash or flaky. I might even have earned the reputation, even though I’m generally dependable. But, for all my stalwart reliability, there is one great truth I have learned.

Good Things Happen!

While we have trained ourselves to expect the worst, good things happen all the time. And if I’m not on the lookout for them, they just slip away.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a beautiful sunset or a startling moonrise when I had other plans. When I look around to see who else is sharing this spectacle, I usually find people with their heads down, driving or looking at their phones or sitting in their offices. And then the moment has passed.

Or perhaps my dog whines and nuzzles at my elbow and, against my better judgment and schedule, I relent and take her for a walk.  This one nose-nudge sets in motion a glorious walk on a beautiful day that I had previously ignored. Think about it. How many spectacularly beautiful days does one get in life? And how many have I missed sitting in a darkened studio?

Accidental Plans

What I have discovered is that few people ever end up where they planned. Success awaits somewhere along another way. We back into it or stumble upon it or get nudged toward it by someone who loves us. A friend of mine stumbled upon his extremely profitable career this way.

His wife thrust a paper in front of him and said, “This is perfect for you. If you don’t apply for this job, I’m never cooking for you in this kitchen again!” His answer?

“She’s a really good cook, so I applied and got the job.”

Another good friend of mine changed his life, followed his dreams and started a company all because of an Uber driver he met when his truck broke down. When I asked him what was wrong with his truck he replied, “I don’t know. It was always breaking down.” But this time the breakdown was a blessing.

Someone Else’s Plan?

So maybe our best life strategy will be planned by someone else. Or triggered by a text. Or instigated by some encouraging comment.

While we have our dreams, we honestly don’t know what we easily do that’s valuable to other people. It’s not valuable to us because it’s so easy. Or we devalue it because it’s fun.

In this case, the only way to discover our unique gift is for someone else to tell us. We’re too self-focused to see it. It looks backward in our mirror.

A Great Time

I can’t claim to have had a life-changing, career-starting time this weekend but I know one thing for sure. I couldn’t let the opportunity pass.

We had long, rambling conversations. We ate good food. We shared old memories. We reflected on the state of the world from an expanded perspective. We had a great time.

We probably won’t see each other for several years, though he invited me to stop by anytime I’m passing by the other side of the globe. I laughed. He laughed. But he repeated the offer when we said goodbye.

Who Knows?

Until that moment, the thought had never crossed my mind. But now I know that it’s a possibility. There’s a tickling in my brain at the prospect. There’s a bit of wonder at what life might bring. Could there be more to it than imagined? Maybe it’s better than I dreamed.

My small ideas in my small room seemed to have stretched themselves and shaken out the kinks. My small idea of God might have enlarged. A beautiful sunset could be waiting outside right now.

But I’ll never know unless I go and see . . .

Courage Featured Politics

The Genetic Code Behind The 4th of July

Psychologists have a name for it – internal locus of control. It’s the feeling of having control over your own life and it’s critical to people and to animals as well. It’s built into us at a genetic level.

Even my chocolate lab, Nessie, prefers to have it her way and make her own decisions. She does not like the fact that she’s currently wearing a “cone of health” to keep her from licking a scratch on her paw. And she’ll tell you about it.

This feeling of control can turn a difficult job into a meaningful choice. It is the fertile ground for self-motivation. It can connect small, seemingly inconsequential, tasks into a larger, more powerful purpose. It is key to satisfaction, happiness, and even longevity.

New York Times bestselling author Charles Duhig wrote this:

“Internal locus of control has been linked with academic success, higher self-motivation and social maturity, lower incidences of stress and depression and longer lifespan,” a team of psychologists write in the journal “Problems and Perspective in Management” in 2012. People with an internal locus of control have more friends, stay married longer, and report greater professional success and satisfaction.”*

It’s a learned skill

Usually, we learn this one very young. So young that by the time we’re adults we seem to just know it instinctively. But learned behavior can be unlearned.

As we grow older, schools, bosses, and authorities spend so much time trying to shape us to their will and use us for their purposes that we can easily believe it’s dangerous. We are told what to say by our peers and media. Our social need to belong is so powerful that we begin to give in.

At the same time that we know that you can’t please everybody, we are conditioned to try. It’s a process so slow that we can’t see it happening. As a result, we become less independent, less able to make our own decisions and significantly more fearful.

Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist, helped conduct a study that indicates when we practice feeling in control, our internal locus of control is reawakened. We can slowly rebuild habits that give us back our feelings of autonomy. But if we are denied that self-control, watch out.

It’s a rebellion!

“A little rebellion now and then is a good thing . . .” – Thomas Jefferson

A number of studies in nursing homes in the 1990’s attempted to find out why some patients thrived there and some didn’t. It turned out that the survivors conducted continual small rebellions against the rigid structure that controlled every decision, right down to their menus.

It even got to the point that one group of residents in Little Rock ripped the furniture off the walls that had been attached for their “safety.” Then they traded furniture to the management’s dismay.

Another group in Santa Fe swapped unapproved food, like cake, during meals. As one man put it, he’d “rather eat a second-class meal that I have chosen.”*

The result is that these rebels walked twice as far, ate a third more, visited the gym more, took medications more regularly and even obeyed their doctor’s orders better. As a result, they lived longer, were happier and had better relationships. In general, those that seized control of their lives had better, longer lives than others.

Wired for self-determination

I don’t need to illustrate any further because I’m sure these stories resonate right to your bones. You know that a sense of autonomy and self-determination is better. We always have.

So, while scientists have gone so far as to call the need to make your own decisions about your life “a biological imperative,” Americans just call it freedom. And we know the benefits are beyond measure. And we will rebel against any group or institution or social construct or government that tries to force us to submit.

God is the only one worthy enough to command our submission. And any submission to each other is to be done by choice, for the purpose of service in gratitude for God’s rich blessings and unmerited grace.

So have a happy central-locus-of-control, self-determination, rebellion, autonomy day! May love and liberty be your steadfast guides. May grace and gratitude be your prayer.



*Smarter Faster Better, Chapter 1.
A round of applause to Charles Duhig for his great work.I liberally absconded with this data in the full knowledge
that you were not writing about the 4th of July. And yet you did. Thanks. You can buy it here. I have NO affiliate relationship;
I just like it.
Photo by Patrick Brinksma on Unsplash
Blog Courage Featured

Rainy Days, Mondays & News Days

I’ll admit it; cloudy, rainy, tiny winter days get me down. I’m a sun man.

Spending decades in studios that are soundproof, light-proof and nature-proof has given me a craving for all things outside. This in spite of the fact that I’m allergic to a large number of said outside things. It makes me crave light like chocolate.

Sunshine In My Heart

But I can’t change winter nor afford to chase sunshine and fair skies around the globe. Though I can dream. As far as practical solutions, they have to come from inside me. I have to find the sunshine in my heart. (Cue music)

I know how this sounds – the eternal sunshine of the optimistic mind – but it’s more like cranking an old car on a cold Monday morning to go work. Even when you get there, you’re still there.

It’s like exercise. It hurts on the way to making you some form of better. Although, never quite the amazing form that I have in mind when I’m picking up stubborn pieces of metal and smelling of gym. But it is, in the cold, dark morning of reality, the thing that works. Health hurts. Go figure.

The Good News Is Not On The News

When I wake up with vigor, bound into the kitchen and perform the crisp, practiced, artful moves of making my first aromatic latte of the day . . . Okay, when I stand at the counter and try to remember whether I put water into the coffee maker or am about to, then do it for the second time, then make my prescribed oatmeal more aromatic by sprinkling enough cinnamon on it to make me sneeze.  In any case, I feel somewhat obligated to connect with the greater world by reading the news.

It’s a filthy habit. I’m trying to quit.

There will be no good news, which means it’s a lie. It’s slanted, politicized, sensationalized, ruminated, brewed and processed like a meth lab. It’s designed to grab our eyeballs, spike our emotions and addict us – oh yeah, and sell us stuff. So, why do it?

Good question. I want to make sure no one started a war overnight. I also need reports on the war that is happening now, the war of ideas aimed at the hearts and minds of America. But there will be no good news here because peace does not trigger us like danger. Here’s the daily truth I find.

It’s up to me to bring the sunshine.

Good news is out there every day. It is quiet and peaceful and loving. It doesn’t demand things or undermine things. I just have to look. Perhaps I should say seek.

There was a lot of it on Facebook yesterday. A lot of husbands declared love for their wives and children. Don’t know why that job falls mainly to husbands, but it does and they did. We are all responsible for bringing the light to a dark world.

People posted pictures of dogs and amazing nature scenes and jokes. Yes, they promoted projects and we had to carefully step through a mire of ads, but on the whole, there was a lot of sunshine spread by regular folks. Thanks!

The other side of my phone

But online is barely a beginning. Hidden just on the other side of my phone is a love letter from God that never ends. The rain falls, not for me, but for the trees and plants that keep me alive. This is a day plants celebrate and grow. They’re taking care of us all but they never complain about it.

I do not worry that the sun will never shine again or that the winter will be endless. Even now, birds are beginning to pair up and buds are beginning to swell. Annual flowers are nearing the end of their rest before showing off their spring colors.

I know all of this, but I don’t have to see it.

We are all in the business of finding courage.

On the dark days, the rainy days, the bad news days, I could easily get distracted and focus on the wrong thing. It’s effortless and a lot of people would help me lose focus. It’s their job to stir my fears.

But it’s my job to find courage. No one else’s. I, alone, choose what I see. Who I see. And why.

The lesson of winter is that some lights shine brighter in the darkness, their glory revealed in the contrast. The death of winter clears the path for the resurrection of spring.

If we have eyes to see.

From the winter snow, I can see the spring flowers bloom with the eyes of faith. From midnight the eyes of hope see the coming dawn.

Courage sees the vision of coming victory beyond the looming wrath.

And coffee. Ah, coffee sees all.


Adventure Blog Things I Tell Myself

Standing By – Things I Tell Myself

We stand on the teetering edge of a brilliantly glorious new dimension. Until we reach it, we get today, every hour of it. If we can but see it, there is no end of the good things we can do in Him.

If we cannot see it, then we will be left standing hard on the ground, doing only the things that are possible.

We are not short of time, only vision.


Photo: Looking Back Over Sunrise by Lachlan Donald via Flickr
Courage Featured Politics

The Personal Cost of Setting People Free

Yesterday, a friend posted a long article about being free from politics. He was downright giddy. His great revelation was how blind he’d been and how it made no difference and how he’d only been making people angry and destroying his life. Now, after his epiphany, everything was great and he was free and happy. Smiley face.

But everything is politics

In a world dominated by state-funded experts, there is no subject you can talk about that hasn’t been politicized. Name one. From my GMO food to my government specified toilet, from the beginning of my court-approved life to my death tax, from my bedroom to my kitchen to my entertainment to my gender-nonspecific bathrooms, I am involved in politics whether I want to be or not.

We cannot be free

We cannot be free from it; we can only be silent. If, in the pursuit of being nice, we allow tyranny to destroy lives – nicely – then we aren’t actually being nice. We are spreading tyranny.

The real question is how to talk about politics. Can friends do it? Do we have to? Can Christians possibly do it at all? Can we be Christlike about it? Will we pay consequences for it? Are there dire consequences if we don’t talk about politics? I think the answer to all of these questions is yes.

But we have to be smarter

We have to learn from this heart-rending political season and go forward with wisdom, patience, and yes, kindness. Because setting people free is kind. And loving.

Jesus, of all people, was clear on the price He would have to pay to set people free. The painful details of the garden of Gethsemane were told so we would know that feelings are powerful and can stand in the way of great love. The feelings are real and intense and must be contended with to get to real love.

Because love

Because love is so much more than a feeling. It includes justice and truth. It even includes fighting and sacrificing to set people free. Even people who don’t know they aren’t free. Even when the people we are fighting against are also the people we are fighting for.

It’s complicated. And painful. But love always is.

So, to my kind friends who are still reeling from speaking out during this political season – kudos. Rest. Gather strength. Your kindness will be needed again soon.

Adventure Endurance Featured Perspective Uncategorized

The Hill

I stand wearily atop the hill and spy the hill beyond
with gratitude I’ve come this far and visions further on.
I’ll sleep the sleep of one who’s done all he can do for now
and wake to promised strength renewed and memories of my vows.

Courage Featured Never Give Up Purpose Stress

Grit Bits – Forget About Stress – Yisrael Kristal, 112

Stress Kills?

For those of you worrying about all of the studies that supposedly show that stress shortens your life, meet Yisrael Kristal, the world’s oldest man. Yisrael survived two world wars and Hitler’s Auschwitz death camp.

When asked the secret of his long life, he pointed to Heaven. “I don’t know the secret for long life. I believe that everything is determined from above and we shall never know the reasons why,” he said. “There have been smarter, stronger and better looking men than me who are no longer alive.”

Your Response

Whatever the secret, you cannot say that Kristal had a stress-free life. If you believe the stress headlines, he shouldn’t be here smiling; but he is! We are now learning there is more to the story. It seems that your response to stress is more important than trying to arrange a stress-free life. Because how stressful would that be?

So, how did Yisrael handle things?

Yisrael’s daughter commented,”My father is a religious man who observes the commandments and prays every morning. In my opinion, what has kept him going all these years is optimism. When something bad happens, he always says, ‘It could have been worse.'”

He was born in the village of Zarnow, Poland, on September 15, 1903, three days before the Wright brother’s first flight. Son of a Torah scholar, Kristal learned to read Hebrew at age four and still recites his prayers daily, from memory now, because of poor eyesight.

He was a confectioner by trade, a skill which helped him survive in Auschwitz. The Nazis wanted candy. He lost his wife and two children to the camp. There couldn’t be a more stressful situation on the planet. The stress gurus on the internet would have this man in an early grave, but Yisrael will undoubtedly outlive all the researchers and writers pronouncing his doom.

The Stress Killer

What some have called the faith factor has now generated hundreds of studies. Many of them try to create a provable scientific formula for achieving the goal of longer life or less stress. I believe this misses the point.

When a journalist told him beforehand that researchers were trying to verify his title of world’s oldest living man, Krystal answered,”Big deal.”

The point of Yisrael Kristal’s faith is not to extend his life. The point of his life is to live his faith. He didn’t do what he did to set a longevity record. And yet his belief helped him through life’s most horrible ordeals. His faith didn’t relieve him from life’s stressful circumstances. It changed the way he responded.

Stress is, after all, an internal problem. And if you change your internal response, you diffuse the effects of difficult circumstances into something other than stress. What causes unmitigated stress in some causes an increase of faith in others. Faith acts like a stress shock absorber.

My Take

I am not a Christian to try to hoodwink God into letting me have a few more years on the planet. I am not trying to trick stress and manipulate happiness into my life. I’m not using a business strategy to meet people at church to build my business. I’m not trying to avoid a gambling addiction by using services as a twelve step program. I’m not crowdsourcing my local congregation as a networking tool to build relationships to support me if something goes wrong.

Love just does all of these things. And God is love. How could it not be good for me.

God doesn’t promise me a stress-free life. In fact, some of my greatest life lessons only happened because of difficult situations. Let’s face it, I just don’t learn much when everything is perfect. I can’t find the motivation when I’m too busy having fun.

And by the way. All of the studies that show faithful church attendance will increase my longevity by seven years are wrong. There are no guarantees that any of us will have another day on this planet. Instead, the better promise I got from Jesus was forgiveness of my sins and eternal life with Him.

Eternal. How’s that for survival?