0to50: What I Learned From the This Past Year!

Today, as I awake to the reality that I am now 50 years old, I am reflecting on what I have really learned this last year. It was over a year ago, as I was getting ready to turn 49 years old, that I decided to have a year fully directed at changing my life in three areas.

The first area was to lose weight. I was almost 300 lbs when I turned 49. Today I am a very healthy 248!

The second goal was to write my first book. Last year I started with an undeveloped idea in my head. Today I have a book in the making as I have defined the characters, the timeline and most of the plot lines. My book idea is alive and growing every day!

The third and last area was to deepen my relationship with God. No doubt about it, this past year has brought me closer to God. While you can’t measure being close to God like you can losing weight or writing a book, there are key signs like hunger and dependency. I am more hungry for and dependant on God than ever before.

I am so thankful for the progress that I have made this last year in not just those three areas but other areas of my life. While I learned a lot from this last year, I think the main thing I learned was the power of living life on purpose. Here are some of those insights.

  1. Living life on purpose brings lifelong change. I have lived life on purpose, and I have also let life happen to me “as it may”, and now I see the difference between the two. I started last year with three goals in mind. Defining and setting those goals helped me to direct every decision that I made this last year. In essence, my life now has a road map, a compass, and a vehicle for movement. I have changed because I had a plan to change.
  2. Living life on purpose brings wisdom and understanding. I can look back and see that during this past year, I learned more about life and myself than any other year. Living on purpose brought that. Psalm 90:12 says it best: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” I numbered 365 of them and it caused me to gain wisdom and understanding.
  3. Living life on purpose brings more purpose.  Living life on purpose last year has filled me with more purpose for this upcoming year. I don’t know exactly why getting control of your life fills you with more vision, but it does. I have a greater vision for my life today then I did when I started this 365 days ago. Purpose begets more purpose!

This is not the end of 365to50 but really the beginning. Next week I will post my new goals for the New Year! A very good friend of mine shared with me that today is Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of a new year according to God’s calendar. He called this “the year of open doors to new opportunities.” I believe that and I am ready to define and set my course for my next 365 days until! I encourage you to do the same and watch what happens when you live life on purpose. Meet me back here next week, and let’s do it together!

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The Resume of My 40’s

As I approach my 50th birthday, just one week from today, I am reflecting on the wonderful things that occurred during the decade of my forties. A lot of life happened during this decade. In fact, I would say that I experienced some of the most important events of my life during my time from 39 through 49 years old.

Here are a few things that happened from 39 to 49!

  • Left Florida for the first time in my life as Tracee, Hunter and myself moved across country to Texas to be part of a new church.
  • Moved back to Florida 2 years later to plant a new church in Winter Springs called Crown Pointe.
  • Traveled to more places, both internationally and nationally, than all the places I had ever visited in all of the first 30 years of my life.
  • Watched my children graduate from high school and two of the three graduate from college. My youngest is getting closer to his degree every day!
  • Walked my daughter Ashlee down the aisle as she was married to Lee Kasten. The memory still warms my heart!
  • Experienced the birth of our first granddaughter, Paislee Kasten. There is nothing like having a grandchild!
  • Had one of my deepest spiritual experiences of my entire life in Wales when I was 39. Had another one, just as significant in Wales again when I was 41. Nothing compares to an encounter with God!
  • I Finally finished college for myself, earning a Bachelor of Theology degree.
  • Coached high school football at Winter Springs High School and loved every single minute of it.
  • Went to work at Chase Card Services and became one of their top national sales representatives two years in a row. By God’s grace, I literally went from worst to first.
  • Took a brand new career path in sales and publishing at Xulon Press, where I eventually became the Sales Manager.
  • Competed in my first triathlon! A year later, I would actually place second in my age group.
  • Proudly watched as my wife Tracee published her first book, The Adventures of Akeem.
  • Started working on my first book, a novel called The Family Tree.
  • Finally went to my first Garth Brooks concert in Kansas City (when he came out of retirement just for me!).
  • Traced my family history all the way back to England and actually visited the historic church that my 7th great-grandfather founded in 1771.
  • Made over 100 new friends that I know by name.
  • Laughed almost every day!
  • By the Grace of God, I matured more in this decade than any other. I feel like it was my forties that caused me to grow into a man that fully loves God, his family and his friends. I thought I knew how to be a man in my twenties and thirties, but I am now sure that it takes years to make a man and decades to make a man of God.

These are just the main highlights. While I can’t fully describe everything, I can tell you that this decade has been the most significant one so far in my entire life—both in the great things that occurred and the deep testings that we went through, this decade is like a lifetime of its own.

Are you getting ready to turn 40? If you are, don’t dread it, look forward to it! If your journey is like mine, you will experience some of the greatest things that life has to offer during the next decade. A lot of life is getting ready to happen! Make sure you take it all in and that you take a few pictures along the way. You’re going to want to remember it one day! It makes me look forward to next decade of my life. What will I do in my fifties that I have never done before?

Next week I will post my 50th post of this blog on my 50th birthday. I will share what I have learned on this incredible 365-day journey to my 50th birthday!

21 Days and Counting

In just over 21 days I will finally be a grown-up, as I will turn 50 years old on September 5th. Wow! It has been an amazing year and I have learned some incredible things about life and myself. I am so glad that I did this 365to50 project, and I am planning to do it again next year as I set my annual goals to achieve before I turn 51 next September.

My goals for this year were:

  • Lose weight and get into better physical condition
  • Write my first book
  • Grow closer to God

I am so happy to report that I have made steady progress in all three of those areas. I have lost weight, and now I am in good enough shape to compete in triathlons. I have the story line for my book “The Family Tree”, and I have had breakthroughs with God that I so desperately needed and wanted. All in all, its been an awesome journey!

I am so glad that I didn’t let momentary failure keep me from moving on. I shudder at the thought of what it would have been like to face 50 while extremely overweight, with no book idea at all, and no closer to God than when I turned 49. That would have been a wasted year, and I have had my share of wasted years. You see, it’s not that I had to get everything right and hit every goal along the way, I just had to move from where I was at. To have stayed in the exact same place without moving forward would have been failure and another wasted year. While I have not entered the promised land of being a 205 lb author who knows God like Moses did, I am miles away from being a 299lb man with just a dream and ideas that were on hold. I tell you, there is no feeling like being miles away from where you never really wanted to be.

So, what do you want to leave? To leave the place that you don’t want to be in, you need to do these three things:

  • Love the Dream! Do more than just hate where you are at: you have to love where you are going. While it’s true that sometimes you will move when your misery factory gets bigger than your fear factor, misery alone will not make you move. You have to have a dream and desire that you love
  • You have to be willing to risk failure. So many people, including me, fail to move because they don’t want to fail. Every successful person’s path to the dream they desire is built by the bricks of failure. I have failed over and over this past year, but here is my secret. I fall forward. Yes, I fall down, but I fall toward my goal. Thats why, despite failure, I am miles away from where I started from.
  • You have to move! You have to take one step! My goal for every triathlon was to “Compete and Complete” every race I entered in. I never let the fact that I was far from winning keep me from entering the race. I may actually win a race one day, but I have to compete in and complete a lot of races on the way to achieving that goal. What are you failing to compete in or complete because you feel like you can’t win? Movement is winning! Just ask Lazarus!

I am now focused on a 21 day challenge to really hit the boosters as I hit 50 and start my next goals for 51. Follow me over the next few weeks as I really begin to reveal what I have learned from this journey.

What place are you trying to leave today? Leave me comments with your story below! Don’t forget, you can also follow me on Twitter here.

Three new things!

This past weekend I did something that I have never done before. In fact I actually did three things that I have never done before. All three things were part of a Three-Day Cruise that I took with my entire family to the Bahamas. The trip was awesome! One of the best vacations I have ever had before. Here are the three new things that I did for the first time and what my takeaway was from each of them.

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  1. This was my first time on a Cruise. Many of my friends have taken a cruise before, but this was my very first time. Infact when I think about it, some of my friends have been on 6 or more in their lifetime. Year after year, I would always hear what it was like to be on a floating buffett and I would always think “Well maybe one day I will get to do that.” I can tell you that while I know everyone’s experience is not the same, mine was awesome. I loved everything about it, but the best thing was that I was doing something new and doing it with my family. What new place or experience are you looking to do one day? Are you wanting to take a cruise or travel to Europe? 
  2. This was my first time in the Caribbean. Ever since I was 20 years old I dreamed of going to Jamaica, Bahamas, Cancun or anywhere that looked like one of those places you dream of going if you like travel. I have always loved those commercials that show someone sitting under a coconut tree as the surf just gently rolls in, one wave at time. In fact I used to carry travel brochures in my patrol car when I was a State Trooper. On some of those days when I was working 16 hours I would take mental vacations as I planned my next trip. Year after year went by and the dream remained a dream. It began in my twenties and then I was thirty. Soon I was forty and finally just before I turn 50 I finally made it to a place I have always dreamed about going to. I finally made it and it did not disappoint me. As I stood and looked at the clearest ocean that I had ever seen, I said to myself “This was so worth and it.” It was better than the brochures that I looked at year after year. Where do you want to go and are you dreaming about doing it one day? I live by the motto “Better late than never at all”. It may take years,but never stop dreaming!
  3. This was the first time ever that I had gone on a vacation without the use of a cell phone or the internet. While the first two things that I have never done before were life changing, this one may have been life saving. Since I have had a cell phone, I have never been anywhere without it or without finding a way to check my email or my voicemail. Even when I went to London years ago, I was going to the internet cafe to check email. When our boat left Port Canaveral on Friday and my signal went dead, I turned my phone off so that I wouldn’t get roaming charges. I never never turned it on again until we were in the car on the way home on Monday. Four days with no cell, no internet, no way for anyone to get a hold of me showed me something. It showed me how addicted I have been to interruptions and distractions. We all need to find ways to be unplugged from the phone, the internet and even our blogs. This blog is actually late, but I had a good reason. I was spending quality time with my family. Challenge! On your next vacation, turn everything but your attention off! It might be your first time, but I guarantee you that it won’t be the last!

What will make you change your life?

I began 365to50 last September when I was getting ready to turn 49 years old. I wanted to chronicle a year of my life before I turned 50. My goal was to help myself and others as I worked to change my life in three specific areas.

  • Lose Weight: I was almost 300 lbs when I started this journey, but now I am under 250 lbs.
  • Write my first book: Last year I had nothing but an idea in my head, the same idea that had been there for the last 15 years. Now, although I am still far from completion, I have character descriptions, chapter ideas, plot lines and a developing outline.
  •  Grow closer to God: My faith is deeper than it has ever been before! I am not the same follower of Christ that I was this time last year.

When I look at the three goals that I set for 365to50, I see one common goal in all three. 365to50 is all about changing my life! Here are some key thoughts that I have learned regarding change. I pray that they help you in your journey.

  1. Change is inevitable! Your life will change over the next 365 days whether you like it or not. The question is what will change about your life. I saw a series of pictures the other day of a teacher who wore the same shirt in all of the school pictures that he took during his career. It was amazing to see pictures from 1973 until 2003, all with the same man wearing the same shirt in every picture. While the shirt never changed, the man continued to change, from a young man to an older man.  You can never stop change from happening to you, but you can choose how and what you decide to change. “You are the captain of your own ship and while you can’t stop the wind, the tide or the currents, but you can set the direction and chart a course for where you want to go.”
  2. Time is a gift for change! Each new year brings you the wonderful gift of being able to change more. Think of it! Another year means that you will not die like you are right now. With another year, You get the gift of time and experience. Used wisely, that gift will make you a better person tomorrow than you are today. Time is a gift from God to change who you really are for all of eternity!
  3. Change will always look different in the end! When I set my goals to change my life last September, I had expectations of how it would all look when I turned 50 years old. It is not looking exactly like I thought it would, but that is not a bad thing at all. The reason it looks different is mainly due to the fact that parts of my original goals changed along the way. Certain things became a little more important during the journey, and like a good captain I adjusted my course slightly. Have you ever gone on a vacation and the destination looks a little different than what you thought it would look like? Well, you’re still glad that you’re on vacation, and you may even be pleasantly surprised that its even better than what you first expected.

What will change your life? Time will change your life. Treat it as a gift from God and maximize every moment of it to direct your course in the direction that you want to go in. Live life on purpose and live like your life depends on it, because it does!

Three keys to become successful in life now!

I didn’t get the chance to post on blog earlier this week as I am preparing for my next Triathlon to be held next Sunday, July 14th, in Daytona Beach. I am getting closer and closer to my 50th birthday and with each day I learn more about change. Here are a few things I have learned.

  1. Legacy! How your descendants can make you become successful now! You need to think about your legacy now. What do you want your great grand children to say about you. You need to think about it now because they will talk about you one day. What do you want them to say? DO you want them to say “My Great Grandmother was a great woman of prayer” or “My Great Grandfather told the most amazing stories and he wrote them down for everyone to read. Thinking of your legacy now will make you live a successful life because no one wants their descendants to not value their ancestors.
  2. Accountability! How doing anything to make you follow through will help you become successful. I would like to know that I could do this on my own. I mean, lose weight, write a book and grow closer to God, but I need help. I need help and you need help. Write down what you want to do this year or before next Summer. Then I want you to go to whoever you trust and ask them to help you. Give them the right to coach you and even correct you when you get off track. My daughter Brittnee has told me not to eat something so many times I have lost count. She has a way of making me feel guilty when I have not done what I was supposed to do. While it is not fun, it has worked. I have lost almost 50 lbs and I am getting ready to run my third triathlon. While I am behind where I wanted to be with my book, I am miles ahead of where I would have been with no help. If you want to change and become successful, you’re going to need help. Ask for it and let it work for you a more successful future.
  3. Sowing good seed! We will always reap what we sow! I can tell you hands down that the most successful people I know are always sowing into someone else life. Whether it is encouragement or love or finances or even wisdom, they are giving their best for others and it is coming back. Zig Ziglar always said ” You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want”. I agree with that phrase and if you will work to help others you will not be able to stop success from coming to you. Give and it shall be given to you!

Try to do these three things this week and watch what happens to your life.

Three Questions to Make Your Day Awesome!

1) How do I know that I am really winning in life?

One sign that you are winning in life is the fact that you got up this morning and went to work—really! Many times we feel like we are losing simply because we don’t believe that we are winning. Belief controls so many things. Find the places that you are getting things done and celebrate each and every one as a win. You will then find that winning begets winning, and as the scripture states in Psalms 23:7: “For as he thinketh within himself, so is he.”

2) What do a Christian and the Tin Man have in common?

Both the Tin Man and a follower of Christ need the exact same thing today. They both need fresh oil! photoIf the Tin Man fails get a fresh squirt of oil in his joints and his mouth, he will be stuck! If a follower of Christ does not have a fresh experience with Christ through His word, His presence or worship and prayer, he also will become stuck and a little rusty. God’s flow of oil is continual and it never runs out. It comes as we simply focus on Him. A simple way to receive fresh oil is to just think about God! Turn the radio down for a few minutes while you are driving into work and just think about how great He is. Little squirts of oil go a long way for the Christian and the Tin Man!

3) How can I live a carefree life?

While we will always have to deal with worry, God gave us a way to live more carefree! Care more for others than you do for yourself! As you focus on giving encouragement, praise or even financial help to others, you will find that the cares that have weighed you down will become distant and lose their power. Jesus told us to cast every care upon Him. If we are going to help carry someone else’s burden, someone has to take our cares. Jesus is waiting to take them so you and I can help someone else. Amazingly, we usually find the burdens of others don’t weigh us down; it’s only our own that discourage and destroy us. Caring for other people’s worries can actually even encourage us! Live carefree today and be encouraged!

 

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