A gift that is opened by the giver!

DSCF0422Recently I gave a special gift to each member of my sales team. The gift was for them and it was for their grandchildren. What was this special gift? The special gift that I gave each member of my team was a nice journal to write in. To write anything they wanted to write, but to write with the idea that one day their kids and grandkids would read what they had written. I wanted them to leave a legacy in print for their grandkids and their future descendants.

Just the other day, I had a conversation with a great friend who told me what he was doing for each of his seven grandchildren. For each of his seven grandchildren he had started an individual journal to write in beginning when they were born. He would write in the journal the prayers that he prayed for them, the wisdom that he wanted to give to them and anything he thought he should tell them. Over time each journal would be filled with prayers, thoughts, prophetic words and personal expressions that would be individually directed to that individual grandchild.  He would keep these journals in his home office and as time went by, each grandchild was welcome to pick up their individual journal and read what their grandfather had written for them. When each grandchild got older or got married, he would then give their individual journal to them as a gift; a gift that they could add to over time if they would like.

Can you imagine how you would have enjoyed such a gift for yourself?To actually read what your grandfather or great-grandfather thought about you? How precious it would be to have a legacy in print that you could pass on to your own children and grandchildren. While most of us were not given journals from our grandparents, we can give journals to our grandchildren.

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin

How to leave a legacy in print!

  • Buy a nice leather journal that will last for years.
  • Write about yourself. Tell your grandchildren what you want them to know about you personally.
  • Write about your own family. What do you want them to know about your parents, your spouse and your own children?
  • Tell stories that you want your children or grandchildren to know about. Everything from adventures, challenges, special moments in time and even those funny moments you would love for them to know about.
  • Share your dreams, hopes and desires for yourself and for them. What did you dream about when you were a child?
  • Write about lessons that you learned and wisdom that you acquired.
  • Share personal things just for them. Things such as prayers, expressions of love and words of encouragement that you would like to say to them personally.

Whatever you do, don’t delay another day. Start today to leave a written legacy. Your words today can shape tomorrow, but only if they live past you. Make them live for hundreds of years! Start a journal today!

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Taking Life In! Finding balance between living and growing.

As I get closer to the end of my 365to50 journey, I have learned so many life lessons. One of the biggest is that even when you are working on a great goal, you have to stop and take life in. The hardest thing hasn’t been the 40 mile bike rides or 6 a.m. swimming sessions, it has been finding that delicate balance between working for the future and living in the present. How do I share time between my goals of being in shape and becoming an author with family dinners? If we stop growing, we give up the person we are supposed to become, but we must be people who achieve their goals without losing what’s important.

Last week my wife Tracee and I joined our best friends, Jeff and Linda Welker, in Chicago for the wedding of their youngest daughter Kaleigh to her fiancee Bill. One thing that stood out to me as I watched the wedding was how each moment counted. Each individual moment in that evening would never happen again; they were, in a sense, eternal. The procession, the presenting of the bride, the vows, the toast, the special dance Jeff had with his daughter and the tossing of the bouquet. All these moments were once-in-a-lifetime. That’s why we pay photographers thousands of dollars to capture them—because we know they’ll never happen again.

So how do I find the balance between achieving my goals of losing weight and writing a book, and still making the most of every moment? Here is what I believe helps me keep my priorities while still becoming a skinny author who loves God.

1. Have long-term goals. When you are in such a hurry to get somewhere, you feel the pressure to cut out everything else except for that which takes you to your goal. I set my goals almost a year ago. This allowed me time to live regular life while making small steps toward my goals. Small steps really do matter! I didn’t have to exclude my family from my life so that I could go after my goals. I had long-term goals, and small steps allowed me to keep the balance between being a husband and father, while becoming a triathlete and an author. What are your long-term goals, and what are your small steps?

2. Be Present for the Eternal Moments of Life. What are the eternal moments of life? These are moments you would choose above achieving your goals if you only had one month to live. I would choose to laugh with my wife and family during dinner instead of writing a best-selling novel if I had 30 days to live, but I wouldn’t choose surfing facebook over writing my first book if I had only 30 days. Yesterday I came home from a hard day at work to find my family having a cannonball splash contest in the pool. Everyone wanted me to join. I had a lot to do and a bike ride planned, but I was in my swimsuit within 3 minutes and made the biggest and best cannonball splash of the evening. My granddaughter laughed at me as I became a kid again, jumping into a carefree pool full of water and eternal moments. Do you recognize eternal moments when they pop up?

3. Cut Out the Stuff That Does Not Matter. What are you giving your time to that doesn’t 1) produce eternal moments, or 2) lead to achieving the goals that God has for you? Come on, don’t hold back! Have you been on any extended lunches with other people who you wouldn’t spend the last 30 days of your life with? There’s nothing wrong with having lunch with friends, but what would happen if you only did that 2 days a week and spent the other 3 eating at your desk and working on your goals? Maybe you need to trade some of your television for reading, studying, writing, whatever. Are you willing to cut out or limit things you wouldn’t do if you only had 30 days to live?

You will only get one chance to live your life and achieve your goals. I love the picture above of Jeff dancing with his daughter Kaleigh. He got both things right. He had a goal that he had to achieve as a father and a provider, but he was also present and living in the moment.

The good news is that you, too, can have both! You can achieve your goals and grow into the person you are supposed to become. Leave me a comment below and let me know how you plan to do that this week!

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Losses, Gains, and Trips to Mexico

The Cancun Fund
The Cancun Fund

This week I posted a picture on the 365to50 Facebook  page and asked you to take a guess at what it was. Some of you correctly guessed that the picture of the cash in the jar was of the money—or rather the fines—that I am paying to Brittnee. Under the current deal, every time I miss a deadline or fail to lose the minimum number of pounds that I agreed to each week, I have to pay her $5. Brittnee calls it her “Cancun Fund.” As you can see, I’ve already added to that jar before!

I hate having money fly out of my wallet. It reminds me of the guy in the Geico commercial who’s paying too much for his motorcycle insurance. The producers show the money falling off of his body as he is driving down the road, and it illustrates what you would see if you could actually see the cost of what you’re losing by choosing one of their competitors. What if we could actually see the cost of our decisions before we made them?

It's raining money!
It’s raining money!

This brings me to this weeks installment of my 365to50 story. As I have to look at the Cancun Jar everyday (because it is just outside my bedroom, conveniently placed there like the drive-thru at the bank) I am consistently reminded that I am paying a price for missing my goals. While I dislike losing money, I am aware of that it’s not just money I am losing but also time and opportunity. Money gives me a tangible way to feel the loss. I was praying about it the other day, and came to this realization:

We are always paying a price! The question is this: is it being invested or is it being lost?!

When I ride my bike, I pay the price of effort and some sweat equity. That equity is actually being invested in my health, my future and my well-being, and there will be a return of something better in the future. On the other hand, if I skip my workouts and choose to lay on the couch eating chocolate chip cookies, I also pay a price. The difference is this: this price is not being invested, but rather it is lost. It cumulates into losses in health, time and opportunity to become the better me. When I put those $5 bills in Brittnee’s Cancun Fund Jar, I am paying a price and it is a loss. The only return for that deal is a happy daughter who gets to go to Cancun while I sit at home with cookies.

Here are some things that I think we all need to consider in light of paying the price, either as an investment or a loss.

1. Words.  What if we could see how powerful our words were before we said them? Like that jar, every word we say can add to our life or subtract from it. Are your words investing in those around you or taking away something?

2.Taking care of your body. This one is so important as we get older. Think about the price we are paying for either great health, or the price we pay in dealing with sickness and or disease.

3. Unforgiveness/Forgiveness. Either way it cost you! It may cost you some pride and maybe an awkward conversation to forgive, but the price of unforgivness is surely a loss.

4. Debt. We can either pay the price to get out of debt, which is an investment in our future, or we can pay the price of continual interest on debt that goes unpaid.

5. Being Thankful. It cost us a little effort and thought to be thankful, but what a price we pay if we are never thankful! That is an investment that really comes back overtime. Either way, it’s your choice. Your still paying a price either way.

6. Laziness. The price of laziness is called “going broke.” It is so much better to pay the price of hard work and receive the reward for it.

7. Family/Relationships. The price for spending time with your family is quality time. The price for not spending that quality time, although it might not be seen immediately, is distance and loss of connection or intimacy.

When we can actually see the price, it makes it makes such a big difference in the choices we make. As we approach this weekend and we celebrate the greatest sacrifice and miracle of all time, we should look at the price that Christ paid for all us. Talk about an investment! His life, sacrifice and resurrection continues to bring an exponential return. I never will forget when the movie “The Passion” came out and all of us saw through the power of cinema the incredible price Christ paid.  For me, any of us that serve and follow Christ, it should inspire us even more to live for Him and His glory. It is important for us to stop and see the price that is being paid.

Either way, be it for an investment or a loss, we need to pause and reflect on it. Start to make investments this week!