Choosing the Path of Gratitude

fork[1]Life can definitely be overwhelming at times. Often it seems we are just trying to navigate from the last crisis to the next one, thankful only for those brief moments in between battles when we can catch our breath and rest up for the next attack. With a sigh of relief that things are finally “back to normal”, we do our best to prepare for the upcoming assault. We are hopeful that if we plan carefully and make the right choices, we might be able to avoid future conflict all together. At other times, the struggle seems so constant, we conclude that we are helpless victims. It feels that no matter which way we turn, the result will be just another dead end.

If you’ve ever been there, then we’ve probably met! I certainly know what it feels like to stand before yet another burned out bridge, wondering what went wrong, wondering which way to go from here. If you happen to be at such a crossroad in life right now, have I got good news for you! You are not helpless or powerless! You can, with confidence, choose the right course. You can choose the path of gratitude.

I know that may sound like a bunch of spiritual mumbo-jumbo. When others suggested this solution to me, I thought, “What have I got to be grateful for?” I wanted someone to tell me what to do, not how to feel. However, I finally learned that it’s usually easier to change my perception, rather than my circumstances. In fact, that inward shift in my attitude and outlook is usually the only thing I have the ability to change. In retrospect, I’ve found it’s often the only thing that needs to change. Here are just a few benefits you can expect from choosing to be grateful:

Seeking gratitude can calibrate your compass. Knowing which direction to take can be difficult at best. It’s almost impossible without first establishing your starting point. Gratitude can help find the “you are here” spot on the map, by centering you in the present. A great mentor of mine called this “mastering the art of present tense living.” Our ability to make clear decisions can be clouded by regrets from the past or by the fear and uncertainty of the future. He pointed out that gratitude can be found only in the moment. “Right now” is usually ok, or at least manageable.

Seeking gratitude nurtures empathy. We can get so accustomed to focusing our attention on our problems, that it’s easy to take the little things in life for granted. As we begin to look outside ourselves, it soon becomes obvious that there are so many who lack the basic necessities of life. You can’t watch a TV commercial for Feed the Children without feeling compassion for their need, and gratitude for your abundance. Just this week, I found myself extremely frustrated that a traffic back up had delayed my trip by several hours. Then I learned the cause for the delay. A tractor trailer had swerved off the road, and had struck and killed a TDOT worker. He would never get home to his family again. I can’t tell you how grateful I was to safely arrive back home and see my wife.

Seeking gratitude builds faith. After I had been intentionally trying to maintain an attitude of gratitude for a while, it occurred to me that most of the things I were thankful for were blessings God had given rather than rewards I had earned. The more grateful we become, the more aware we are likely to be of our relationship with our Creator. In my career as a grandfather, I’ve been asked for and have given out countless pop cycles. A cheerful “thank you” will practically guarantee another, whereas a lack of gratitude will more than likely keep the freezer door shut! Therefore, I believe there is no greater way to be assured of a hopeful tomorrow, than to have a grateful today!

No matter what you may be going through, choosing to be grateful will, I promise, make the load a little lighter and the pathway a lot brighter. So what will you choose to be grateful for today?

 

 

The Power of Imagination

In my ongoing quest to figure out this thing called adulthood, and, more specifically, what I’m going to be when (if ever) I grow up, I’ve read book after book, listened to hours of podcasts, and examined the lives of successful, influential people. While my methods have proved helpful, I recently realized I had been overlooking a gold mine of wisdom and inspiration, and it had been right in front of me all along.

I’m convinced that children possess some of the most valuable and essential qualities necessary  for living an awesome, amazing life! We would do well to learn as much as possible from them, before they become too tainted by what we “smart” grown ups call reality!

Emilia DancingIt’s almost impossible to observe kids at play and not feel a little envious. Don’t we all secretly long for those days of innocence and child-like wonder? Remember back when everything was new and exciting? When every day was an adventure? When you really believed you could be anything or anybody you set your mind to? Remember when you had an imagination?

I’m convinced it is one of the most powerful gifts with which we are created. It gives us the ability to dream, to create, to challenge the limits of possibility. Paradoxically, when misdirected, it can also cripple us with fear and doubt. Nothing else can be as liberating or as limiting as what we believe.

Recently, one of our granddaughters was spending the night with us. My wife had sent her back to the bedroom to get her toothbrush and pajamas. She returned a minute later, empty handed. She said she couldn’t go in there because it was dark and she was scared. My wife lovingly explained that there was nothing in the dark to be afraid of, to which she replied, “Uh-huh, my imagination!” Even at 4 years old, she knew that what she could imagine was powerful enough to keep her from accomplishing her mission. Conversely, that same powerful imagination enables her to create amazing “just pretend” stories, and play for hours in whatever “make believe” world she can dream of. It also gives her the ability to say, with complete confidence, “When I  grow up, I’m going to be a chef and a mermaid!” Somehow I believe her!

Somewhere along the way, we seem to lose this precious gift. Oh, we can still imagine the worst case scenarios in vivid, high definition detail. We label this as fear, anxiety, uncertainty, or worry. Call it what you will, the end result is still the same. We, like my granddaughter, refuse to go into that dark room. I shudder to think of the missed opportunities and dreams I’ve given up on, all because of misdirected imagination. One of my favorite writers, Andy Andrews, offers a great perspective on this principle: “What we believe is so powerful, it is absolutely impossible to achieve beyond it.”

On the other hand, what amazing things could we achieve if we could somehow regain that sense of child-like wonder? What if we were no longer afraid to ask “What if?” I think it’s possible to set aside our self doubt and insecurities, and start to dream again. If we’re going to tell these little kids that they can be anything they want to be, maybe we should also start selling ourselves on the same notion! At 51 years old, I started to imagine that I could make a difference in the world! I began to wonder, “What if sharing my experience could change someone’s life?” I decided I could pretend to be a writer! Crazy isn’t it?!

So what’s holding you back? What are you waiting for? Who told you it was ok to stop dreaming?  Give yourself permission today to start playing make believe again! Come up with something crazy! There’s no telling what you could do…

just imagine!

 

 

 

The Best We Ever Were

the kissTwo years ago, on Memorial Day weekend, my family and I were enjoying a wonderful day together at the St. Louis Zoo. Amidst all the sights and sounds, I spotted an elderly couple that stopped me dead in my tracks. The one thing that captured my attention and distinguished them from the rest of the teeming masses was the navy blue ball cap which identified this gentleman as a World War II veteran. A wave of different emotions washed over me as I watched them slowly make their way through the crowd. I wanted to approach them, shake his hand, and express my gratitude, but what would I say? Somehow the standard “thank you for your service” felt ridiculously inadequate when I considered all that they had given. In the end, I just stood there and offered my silent respect. To me, they represented the best we ever were, a remnant of The Greatest Generation.

I recently asked my father why he thought that particular generation had the ability to sacrifice so deeply and achieve so much. Without hesitation, he replied simply, “Adversity.” Although we try to avoid it at all cost, nothing else forges strength of character quite like trial by fire. Surviving the years of hardship during the Great Depression had created within them resilience and fortitude. They possessed a determined spirit that could, and would, see them through anything. They became living proof that, while tough times don’t last, tough people do.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor propelled us into WWII, our entire nation was moved to action. We were truly the United States of America, and no sacrifice or burden would be so great as to deter them from the nobility of the task at hand. As over 16 million answered the call to military duty, bravely enduring the horrors of war, everyone back home was eager to do their part, and do without. When it became necessary to ration food, flower beds became Victory Gardens. Housewives traded aprons for coveralls, and headed off to work in the factories and munitions plants. Service flags were hung proudly in their windows, a blue star representing each husband and son fighting “over there.” As the official letters came expressing a nation’s condolences and gratitude, the blue stars were replaced with gold ones, signifying to passers by that they had given their all. And when the enemy at last surrendered, everyone celebrated the Victory as if it were their own.

Yes, they truly were the Greatest Generation, but I don’t think adversity alone defined them. Had they not already possessed something of that greatness within, then surely the refining fire of adversity would have consumed them. Long before the world turned upside down, they were a people of faith. They had been raised by the Golden rule, and believed that the virtues of integrity and hard work, decency and charity, were the standards by which individuals, and society were expected to conform. Serving God and Country, and Loving thy neighbor as thyself, were more than ideals for them to consider…it was who they were.

Looking back at where we’ve come from, it’s evident that our current culture pales in comparison. We seem to think that a life of ease and comfort is our national birthright. Having to wait in line more than 15 minutes for our Starbuck’s or losing our Wi-Fi connection is a really bad day. In 70 short years we have lost the belief that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, and have sadly become a “me first” generation. We’ve been at war now for almost 15 years, and except for the military families directly involved, the rest of us are largely unaffected. For many Americans, “clicking like and share if you support the troops” is about as patriotic as it gets.

In this presidential election year, we are once again called upon to select a leader who will fix everything. They all claim to be up to the challenge. One even promises he will make America great again. Although I believe in our process, I find both their claims and our expectations laughable at best. None of us can even agree on what the problems are, much less work together to find a solution. There are certainly many issues to deal with: the economy, national debt, immigration, health care, racial tension, education, global warming, public toilet policies…the list goes on and on. Maybe all these are but mere symptoms. I think perhaps America has a heart problem. If we are to find a solution, if we are to ever make America great again, maybe the answer lies behind us rather than ahead. Maybe in this case those who study history just might be able to repeat it. we could do worse.

They were, after all, the Greatest Generation, the best we ever were.

 

 

Life’s a Trip…Plan Accordingly!

truck-fail-hit-the-bridge-on-the-road-to-success-there-are-no-shortcutsWe’ve all heard many times that life is a journey. Throughout history, there have been countless “quotable quotes” drawn from this metaphor, designed to enlighten and inspire us. Perhaps one of the more notable of these has been credited to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu who wrote, “The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”

Now I’m certainly no Chinese philosopher. (I’ve never even played one on TV!) I’m just a regular guy. However, having safely navigated well over one million miles in the last 7+ years as a professional truck driver, I feel somewhat qualified to weigh in on the subject of long journeys! I don’t know how inspirational it will be, but hopefully I can draw some parallels that you’ll find helpful. All of us have dreams and goals, destinations we aspire to reach some day. Here’s a little “18 wheeler insight” that might help you in your travels.

Trip Planning is time well spent! My ancient Asian counterpart didn’t really elaborate much on what all that beginning “single step” entails. We could easily interpret his wisdom as a call to action, an encouragement to just start moving, regardless how daunting the road ahead may appear. In my experience, it pays to first spend a little time with a Rand McNally road atlas before releasing the brakes and putting the pedal to the metal! Not having a detailed, well planned route to follow can be disastrous! Have you ever seen a big truck stuck under a low clearance overpass? That’s poor trip planning at its finest. When it comes to establishing your life’s most important goals, the same principle applies. Having a detailed, high definition vision of where you want to go or what you hope to accomplish is crucial. If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, any road will take you there! So where are going?

Pre-Trip Inspections are a must! Each week, I depart my home in Nashville, TN and head for San Diego, CA. That’s a long trip! (2000+ miles) I’d be a fool to just fire up the engine and take off. I have to take a few minutes to check the oil, tires, brakes, lights, fuel, etc., if I want to avoid costly delays later on. The same holds true as we prepare to embark on any journey in life. Shouldn’t you spend some time making sure your “equipment” is up for the trip? It’s probably wise to check the levels of your confidence and character, your abilities, skills, or knowledge. What’s on the check list of resources you’ll need to get the job done? We can’t always see around the next corner and avoid every hazard that may be laying across the road, but we can be proactive in anticipating and preventing some predictable problems.

Pack Lightly! I still remember the first run I made with a trainer when I started my driving career. He told me we might be gone for up to three weeks. Well, I packed almost everything I owned! He just laughed and then helped me “lighten the load”a bit! It never occurred to me there wouldn’t be enough room in the truck for all my bags. In reality, we all have some “old baggage” that can slow us down, if not cripple our efforts entirely. Feelings of guilt, fear, and resentment can definitely weigh you down. Unresolved issues from the past can distract your focus and attention away from your goals. There may even be some people you have to leave behind, if there is to be any hope of fulfilling your dreams. Do you have some heavy burdens hindering your progress?

“Why am I doing this?” Being a truck driver was never on my list of things I wanted to be when I grew up. (it’s still not!) I can honestly say that I’ve never regretted the decision. I’m able to earn an income that supports my family and provides some degree of security for our life and our future. However, there have been countless times that I’ve wanted to quit; an unexpected midnight blizzard crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains, stranded for days after an ice storm, sitting for hours in traffic behind another fatality accident, and every Sunday night when I kiss my wife goodbye. No matter what journey you’re on in life, you will, I promise, experience trials, setbacks and disappointments. You’ll want to give up. There will be times when your “why” will be the only thing prodding you forward. Don’t give up! It will be worth it!

Last tip: Take the scenic route! I don’t often have this as an option. Unfortunately, there are many roads off the beaten path that just aren’t very accommodating for a 70 foot long semi-truck. I have been within 50 miles of the Grand Canyon hundreds of times, yet have never beheld its splendor. I have, however, been able to enjoy many beautiful and breathtaking views through my windshield over the years. We have a tendency to lead very fast paced and impatient lives. Even as kids we were always asking, “are we there yet?” Many of us are so goal oriented and ambition driven, so focused on the results, that we often miss out on the possibilities that lie in the process. Don’t get so caught up in the pursuit of happiness that you forget to find happiness in the pursuit! Remember: This is your life! Enjoy the Trip!

Thanks again for spending a little of your valuable time here with me today! I hope you’ve received a little value in return! If so, please leave some feedback in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you! See you next week!

 

A Father’s Regret, A Grandfather’s Hope

11214264_10203107206321642_6773524877011505952_nI have heard a few people in my life that say they live with no regrets, and if given the chance, wouldn’t go back and change a thing. In my estimation they either a) have lived a near perfect life, b) have become Jedi Masters in the art of self delusion, and are borderline sociopaths or c) have never raised a child.

Most everyone who looks back over their parenting career, with any degree of honesty, will undoubtedly recall times where they really dropped the ball. Maybe they had to work late and missed a birthday party. Perhaps lost their temper and said some things they’d give anything to take back. I am certainly no exception. Stepping into fatherhood at 19, while still a child myself, didn’t help matters much. Adding to the mix a rather strong affinity for  Tennessee sour mash whiskey (and other miscellaneous mood altering substances) completely knocked me out of contention for “Dad of the Year.” While I’ll spare you all the gory details, the bottom line is this: I utterly failed my children. So I can assure you that I am a more than qualified to speak on the subject of parenting guilt. I spent years beating myself up for the choices I made and the pain I caused, but no amount of self condemnation could ever absolve my shame. I’ve found that only through forgiveness can the wounds of regret be healed, but they always leave scars. Not too long ago I was reminded that the scars of regret, though they do fade with time, never completely go away.

I was listening to a podcast while driving one night, when the topic of parenting came up. The host, Andy Andrews, made the following observation, “Our job as a parent is not to raise great kids, it’s to raise kids who will become great adults.” No wonder I had blown it as a dad. I was aiming at the wrong target! How could I have equipped my children to lead successful adult lives, when I was, at best, barely an adequate adult myself?! The fact is you can’t teach what you don’t know.

Despite my all my shortcomings, my kids managed to turn out pretty good! While I’d like to think the changes I made later in life provided some positive examples for them to follow, I suspect that my biggest contribution was probably a long list of “things not to do”. I realized recently that, still motivated by regret, I was trying to atone for the past by offering unsolicited advice to my adult children. As you might imagine, that didn’t work out very well! It reminds me of something I heard years ago: Never try to teach a cow to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the cow! As much as I may want to help them avoid some of the pain and pitfalls of life, I know that those experiences are usually  life’s greatest teachers.

So, is there any redemptive value in all this regret? I’d like to think so! Obviously we can’t undo the past, but it can motivate us to do something about the future! Almost every parent at some point has said, “I hope my kids will have it better than I did.” It’s almost as if we’ve admitted defeat and are consigned to the fact that “it’s just too late for me.” If we want the best for them, why not want the best for ourselves? While it’s true that you can’t teach what you don’t know, the opposite is also true; you can teach what you do know! I figure I’ve still got a lot to learn, and some pretty good reasons for learning it. Even though they’re grown, I still want to be a positive influence in the lives of our children. I also have a bunch of little kids running around here that call me poppaw  to think about! So, I don’t have much time for all that regret…there’s just too much hope to think about!

 

 

 

 

A “Recipe” Worth Sharing

Best-Carrot-Cake

Every Christmas of my childhood, my grandmother baked this amazing carrot cake. Not one of those Betty Crocker box mixes mind you, but from scratch! I can still remember standing on a stool at the kitchen counter and “helping” her. Sometimes she let me add in some of the ingredients, but my main job was to lick the beaters. (That was back before raw eggs could kill a kid!) It was a holiday tradition that ranked right up there with decorating the tree and composing my letter to Santa. My grandmother’s been gone now for over 26 years, but all those memories come flooding back each time I bake that carrot cake for my family. (and yes, I still lick the beaters!) It’s always a big hit and I’m usually showered with compliments and praise. I just smile and say,”Thanks, I’m glad you like it.” But I know I really can’t take much credit…I just followed the recipe!

A recipe is simply a proven set of instructions which, when followed precisely, will consistently produce a desired result. You could eat a dish prepared by a world-class  chef in a five-star restaurant, and if you had their recipe, with a little practice you could duplicate the exact same meal! I’ve always heard if you want to be successful at something, just find someone who’s been successful at it and do what they did. When you think about it, we can find a “recipe” for almost anything we want to accomplish in life. I’d like to share one of my favorites with you. (and no, it’s not for carrot cake!)

Whether we like to admit it or not, money is one of the most important things in our life. We spend the largest percentage of our lives working to acquire it, yet we never seem to have enough of it. Financial problems are the number one cause of divorce, and one of the greatest sources of the stress, anxiety, fear and depression that we face. They say money can’t buy happiness, but it sure comes in handy for all other purchases! When asked, most people would say that being financially secure is one of their biggest goals in life. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a recipe for that?

Have you ever asked someone for a recipe and they replied, “I just throw in a little pinch of this and a dash of that”? That’s how I used to handle my finances. No standard of measurement. No instructions. No plan. I just made it up as I went along, and then wondered why I kept getting stale Hostess Twinkies instead of carrot cake! Seemed like I was always short on one key ingredient: more money! My recipe called for 4 cups and all I had was a teaspoon full. Sound familiar? Eventually, I developed a taste for Twinkies, and accepted that this was just as good as it gets. And after all, weren’t there a lot of people who can’t even afford Twinkies? I should be grateful! And so I was, until…

About 18 months ago, I came down with a bad case of truck envy! A friend of mine had just bought a new Ford F-150 crew cab. Suddenly my old ’97 Ford Ranger (for which I had been formally grateful!) now seemed like a piece of junk. Sure it got the job done, but didn’t I deserve something a little nicer? I convinced myself and my wife, but there was one problem: We couldn’t afford another monthly payment. Even though I had a pretty good job, and we were able to pay the bills, there just wasn’t any money left at the end of the month.

I had heard of this guy named Dave Ramsey, and something called the “debt snowball” that could help you pay off debt faster. It sounded worth checking out, so I borrowed a copy of Dave’s book “The Total Money Makeover” from a friend, and started listening to his daily radio show. total-money-makeover-book-coverMan did I get more than I bargained for! I just wanted a truck, not to completely change my whole way of thinking about personal finance! As he detailed all the common mistakes most people make with handling money, I realized I had made them all! The book then laid out the “Seven Baby Steps”, a proven plan based on biblical principles and common sense, which, for over 20 years has helped millions of people get out of debt, build wealth, and retire with dignity. I knew right away I had a new recipe that would work! My wife (who wondered what took me so long to figure this out!) was immediately on the same page, and we started out on what has become a life changing journey. Here are a few of the main “ingredients” we learned to add to the mix:

  1. Long Term Thinking: One reason we live paycheck to paycheck is that’s often about as far into the future as we look. If we wanted to get ahead, we had to start thinking ahead! All those “fuzzy” goals we were “going to get to some day” had to become a crystal clear vision and target for our future. If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time!
  2. Agreeing on a Budget: This isn’t the curse word I thought it was! Budgeting is simply telling your money where to go instead of having to wonder where it went. Once we started putting it on paper, deducting our monthly expenses from our income, it was like getting a raise! I couldn’t believe how much we wasted by simply not paying attention. Now we had some ammo to start attacking our debt with!
  3. Self Discipline: One of the best quotes I heard from Dave Ramsey was, “The nobility of your goals must outweigh you daily desires.” We subjected each purchase to this test: do we need it, or do we just want it? One of my favorite authors, Andy Andrews, defines discipline as “being willing to do something you really don’t want to do in order to get something you’d really like to have.” Delaying gratification isn’t telling yourself no, it’s just saying no for now.

Through constant communication, being intentional, staying focused and sticking to the plan, we were able to become 100% debt free in 17 months! We’ve been able to put some money aside for emergencies, and will soon start our retirement investing. The most valuable benefit we’ve received can’t be measured with a dollar sign. No longer limited by our old way of thinking, the level of what we believe can be possible has increased dramatically. We get to dream again! And just in case you think I’m bragging here, please remember…we just followed the recipe!

Of all the “things I wish I’d known back then,” this one’s pretty high on the list. I can only imagine where we would be if I had this information 20 years ago. Can you imagine where you could be in 20 years if you start now? Dare to dream a little! It might not be “easy as pie” but financial peace can be a piece of cake if you’ve got a good recipe!

If you’re struggling in this area, I hope this has been a help and encouragement to you. For more information, I’d recommend going to http://www.daveramsey.com to order a  copy of “The Total Money Makeover.” The Dave Ramsey Show podcast is also available free on iTunes. If you have any questions or feedback please leave a comment, or feel free to contact me by email at gregmatthews01@yahoo.com. I’d love to hear from you, and promise to reply asap! Thanks so much for spending a little of your time here with me!

Is Your Horse Thirsty?

Not too long ago I was discussing with someone what I find to be an interesting inconsistency in human behavior. I pointed out that most people are very appreciative and responsive to a recommendation for a new restaurant or a good movie, and have no problem asking for advice regarding such insignificant areas. However, if you try to offer advice or suggest a resource that could actually help change their life for the better, it generally falls on deaf ears. His explanation: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

Now, obviously I’ve heard this saying my whole life, and I get it. But my initial reaction was, “If I had a horse that didn’t have enough sense to know it was thirsty, I’d shoot it and walk the rest of the way!” You’ve never seen John Wayne trying to dunk his horse’s head in a watering trough! I’ll admit I’ve done no research, but I’d wager that never in history has a horse died of dehydration within sight of a stream! Alright, I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but at a certain point, this analogy doesn’t hold water. (pun intended!) The only reason a horse would refuse water, is if he has already drank his fill. I know there are some people who, it would appear, think they already know it all. “No thanks, I’ve had enough!” I’ve definitely fallen in that category! But is that really the case? Or can we actually be unaware of our own thirst?

This “thirst”, or simply being teachable, I have come to believe, is one of, if not the most important character trait a person can possess. My lack of this quality was at the core of every bad decision I ever made and the ultimate cause of all the calamity that followed. In contrast, when I became willing to consider, accept, and eventually seek the advice of others, I started making some progress in life. So what caused this shift? How does a closed mind begin to open? In my case, every area of life was in utter chaos, and I had run out of people to blame. That left me no option but to consider this Truth: I don’t know. Pretty deep and profound isn’t it?! I really believe this is the essence of a teachable spirit: to accept that I only know what I know, and while it has gotten me this far, it is not enough to get me where I need to be. And I don’t think you have to “hit bottom” to come to that conclusion! We can attain a little humility without humiliation!

King Solomon wrote in the Proverbs that we should “seek wisdom as though looking for lost treasure.” Have you ever searched for anything unless you first acknowledged that you didn’t have it? Of course not! Yet most of us have spent more time looking for our TV remote than trying to find some knowledge or wisdom that could change our lives! It seems that saying “I don’t know” leaves a bad taste in our mouth. Maybe it’s just a matter of pride. We certainly don’t want anybody to think we haven’t got it all figured out. For that reason I lived for years by the motto:  Better to keep you mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt! The end result was a life that resembled an Old West movie set. It might have looked good from the front, but was pretty empty once you got inside. There are times we might have to “fake it ’til we make it” but it doesn’t make for a great life plan. You can only fake it so long before it all comes crashing down. Trust me! “I don’t know” hurts a lot less!

Here’s one last example that might help put all this in proper perspective. It seems that my wife and I are always undertaking some new DIY project at home. This usually means I’m going to be doing something outside my skill set. Thankfully, I have a very knowledgeable friend who can advise me. We also live in a YouTube world where you can learn just about anything with the click of a button. Once I’ve got the needed instruction,  a trip to Home Depot is always in order. It seems that  I never have the tools necessary to accomplish the job. So what about the projects we want to accomplish with our lives? The really important and often long overdue improvements in our marriages and families, our personal finances, our careers? Doesn’t it seem wise to consider that we might not have all the skills or tools necessary to get the job done right? I can promise you that a trip to the library (or reading an awesome blog online!) is a lot cheaper than the Home Depot!

I’ll leave you with one final quote from the smartest woman I know (my wife!) who once said, “Everything I know I learned!”

Stay thirsty my friends!