I’ll Hold The Umbrella

I’ll Hold The Umbrella

Tennis is a fascinating sport.  I seldom watch it at home but ironically it is the one thing I leave on the hotel TV when traveling.  I love watching all the court staff, ball boys/girls, and referees that surround the 2 marquee players in any given match.  There is so much going on before and after ever set in order to maintain order, etiquette, and minimize downtime between serves.

In 2014, there was a rain delay in the first-round match at the 2014 French Open that lasted for just over 10 minutes.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  But what happened in those 10 minutes is something that any leader, aspiring leader, husband, wife, or friend can learn from.  One of the world’s best, Novak Djokovic, sat down to tend to his gear while the ball boy silently held an umbrella over Novak’s head to keep him dry.  Without hesitation, Novak broke from typical tradition by inviting the boy to sit with him and reversed roles by holding the umbrella for him.  The boy’s countenance immediately changed, and his elation could no doubt be seen in the farthest seats of the arena.  Small, private discussions continued as Novak handed over his racket and a water bottle from his bag.  The investment made in that boy will be felt for his lifetime.  It’s a story he’ll never stop telling.  In that moment, the leader, the global icon, and arguably one of the most powerful people in that arena took on the role of a servant.  He held the umbrella.

I’ve listened to business executives say that they’ll take hire candidates out to dinner in order to solely watch their interactions with the restaurant staff and servers.  How we treat the people around us says a lot about our character.  Have you paused recently to look around at all the people who are holding the umbrella for you?  For me, it’s my wife… first and foremost.  There are so many things (both visible and invisible) that she does on a daily basis in order to remove barriers and distractions so i can accomplish my goals.  My boss.  He holds an umbrella for me and my teammates while simultaneously shielding us from situations and communications that could be stressful and burdensome.  My family, mentors, church leadership, and friends do this as well.  Not to mention the restaurant servers, dry cleaning people, car washers, mechanics, financial advisors, baristas, plumbers, gutter cleaners, law enforcement, teachers, lawn maintenance, trash people, and babysitters that take care of the rain so I can focus on the match ahead of me.

When’s the last time you have held the umbrella?  When’s the last time you’ve done it for your wife?  What a crazy, cool ting to actually serve the person that thought they were serving you.  I make it a priority to look for ways to serve Kate that she is not expecting.  She gives 110% every day to our family, friends, community, and ministry.  It is so rewarding to hold the umbrella for her so she can take a break, sit down, relax, and get a reprieve from her duties.  Jesus said that He didn’t come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28).  This is a value we should embrace daily.

I challenge you to become more aware and to notice the hundreds if not thousands of things done for each of us every single month by people whom we may never know their names or stories.  Make an effort to go out of your way to be appreciative.  And for those individuals who are intimately involved in our daily lives, the onus is even greater to find ways to humble ourselves, and place those people’s interests and needs above our own.  True leadership is modeled by servanthood.  Follower-ship is gained by selflessness and service.  Who are you going to hold the umbrella for this week?

SD

What’s Certain About Uncertainty

I read a great article the other day from the Atlanta Business Chronicle called “7 Habits of Amazing Successful Sales People (Terry Brock, Contributing Writer)”and one of the habits seemed to jump off the page at me: Hustle when others hunker down.  When uncertainty or tough times come about (and they always do) the winners and leaders take a different approach than the average person – they jump into hustle mode while others want to stay under the radar and not rock the boat.

We all like certainty and security.  It makes us feel good, relaxed, and less anxious.  Predictability is a good thing and the desire for comfort is fundamental to our human nature!  However, one of the only certain [assured/guaranteed/definite]things in this life is that uncertainty will always be present! The deal fell through, the boss you love has left, family relations took at drastic change, sickness struck without warning, a friend left you hanging, that promise was broken, the money didn’t come in, that trip didn’t happen, that dream won’t be fulfilled.  What do you do in this moment and how do you react when met with hardship and unexpected circumstances?  Do you retreat, let life beat you down, dwell on the negatives, assume the worst, abandon your dreams and aspirations?  Or do you get back on your feet, look at what you can control in your life (emotions, time, energy, thoughts), fight, work hard, keep the right attitude, and determine to move forward?  The latter find a way to use their challenges as a springboard to success. Don’t allow it to crush your spirit or discourage you from using your gifts and talents.  Success can mean a lot of different things to a lot of people – only you can determine what that looks like for you personally.

Those of us who have faith in Christ Jesus know that His ways are above our ways and that we should count it all joy when we fall into various trials.  This doesn’t mean that we should be happy about the hardship… it means that we can get excited about what the trials will produce in us ifwe allow God to work through us.  Just as you go to a gym to workout and literally tear your muscles in order to get stronger, so God allows/uses the trials and uncertainties of this life to build character, perseverance, and spiritual faith.  When we are weak, He will be strong in us.

Don’t take your foot off the accelerator, don’t hunker down, don’t look for an easy way out, don’t get discouraged, don’t give up, and don’t throw away your dream.  Uncertainty is certain, but what you do during those uncertain times will greatly alter the outcome of your life and those around you.

-SJD

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/how-to/marketing/2014/12/7-habits-of-amazingly-successful-salespeople.html

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“Remember who you are” –J. Mingee

 

Goals…Write Them Down

Goals…Write Them Down

The New Year.  Everyone is about resolutions and setting new goals.  It’s fun to reflect back on the previous year to see what you did great and what needs improvement.  I used to be someone who would make mental notes of what I wanted to achieve but never took the time to put them on paper.  My wife and a trusted mentor called me out almost immediately on it… and they are right.  Studies show that when goals are written down you are far more likely to achieve them.

I came across an article a while ago about the global phenom and highly successful golfer, Rory McIlroy.  Brian Wacker published an article on PGATOUR.com talking about the top goals he thinks Rory should have based on is talent and momentum from 2014.  Rory is apparently an avid goal setter and has a standard procedure every year:

“McIlroy, who will open his PGA TOUR season at The Honda Classic next month and is in the field this week in Abu Dhabi, has carried a boarding pass with a set of goals written on it each year of his career.

‘I put it in my wallet and I memorize them,’ McIlroy said. ‘I don’t really want to share them with anyone else. They are just my little goals, and I’ll try and achieve those, and I’ll take that boarding pass out at the end of the year and see how well I’ve done.’”

Wow – how simple can it get?  There is no magic formula here other than mental consistency.  By knowing where you want to go you will be less likely to detour and waste precious time and energy.  By keeping your goals top of mind you are in essence staying accountable to yourself in the areas that matter most to you personally.

Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”  I encourage you to find someone you think is successful – someone you admire and respect – and ask them to an early morning coffee (most movers and shakers are early risers) to see what habits they’ve developed to get them where they are today.  I would venture to guess that one of their habits is writing goals down.  So what are you going to do this year?  I’d challenge you to step out of the box and write down a few goals on an index card, business card, stick-it note, or even a boarding pass.  Carry it with you and look at it often.  Memorize it.  Stay focused on it.  Be careful, you just might achieve it.

Kate’s Thoughts on the Matter of Goals:

What a great privilege you have. You get to be a part of a great story. Knowing what God’s vision is for your life and relationship is a cornerstone for thriving. It is very hard to get bored when you have God’s vision in front of you.

After Steve told me this story and being a person of goals myself, we created a vision statement and then we created one year goals. We had a mentor tell us to make five-year goals as well. We loved this so much. This is one of the greatest habits for keeping routine from sabotaging your romance — vision and goals. We made 10 year goals and a life goals list. We have a “date night list” and a “places to visit list”. We are regularly talking about how we can spice things up, add, change, or even eliminate things if they no longer serve us. 

If you never want to get bored in your romantic relationship than may you always see growth, potential, and God’s plan in your love life! May you be empowered to step up and to identify where you can dream bigger and go further. Where you can create energy, commitment, and joy for all you walk through as a team. That, my dear friends, will keep boredom at bay.

Me vs. You

Me vs. You

Lately, my wife and I have been talking about the various seasons of life people find themselves in and specifically the season we are in – young kids, school, new home, work, small group, and a busy schedule with even more things to do and less time to do them!

I think almost anyone you talk to will respond in a similar way, although the circumstances may be different – maybe you’re trying to get into college, land that first job, keep that girlfriend/boyfriend, work up the money to buy an engagement ring and propose, buy your first house, upgrade the car, deal with a challenging work environment, losing a job, changing careers, starting a family, increased finances, loss of finances, growing your marriage, trying to repair a damaged one, personal tragedy, sickness, family problems, raising kids, watching your kids leave the nest, grandchildren, retirement, death of a spouse or family member… the list is endless.  With so much going on at any given moment it is hard to stop, to pause, and just be.  We are busy, busy, busy… time may be our most valuable asset but sadly it is probably the most abused.

We live in a culture that thrives on endless connectivity (there is a lot more to say about this but I’ll reserve for another time), the internet, social media, Facebook, phones, apps, news, NetFlix, Hulu, entertainment, reality TV, music, eCommerce, money, materialism, sports, fashion, etc.  Unfortunately most of these activities center around, cater to, satisfy, and serve ME.  I don’t have time for YOU… did you see the list mentioned above and all the other demands/challenges/to-do’s that I did not have time to write about?  I’m struggling just to take care of and maintain ME, let alone anyone else outside of my immediate family.

When’s the last time you held the door for someone, bought the person’s coffee behind you in the Starbucks drive through, prayed for someone else’s needs instead of your own, gave of your time and money for a cause greater than yourself, spent time mentoring the next generation of leaders, really focused on your spouse’s needs/desires and did it with no strings attached, cancelled that golfing outing to spend time with your kids, wrote a friend a letter, asked a neighbor if they needed help, gave a gift to someone who has been influential in your life, served in your church or charity, or really took time to get to know the people that work for you in your organization?  This is not meant to be a guilt trip but to make us all stop and pause long enough to see how selfish we may have become and to find ways in our daily life to move the spotlight off of ME and onto YOU.  Whether you are a Jesus follower or not, our world would be a much better place if more people asked, “What can I do for you?”, instead of “What’s in it for me?”

I challenge you to broaden your view and fight the tendency to become narrowly and selfishly-minded.  On one paticular Sunday, our pastor mentioned that when worry grips us the best thing to do is immediately pray for someone else’s need.  This will not only put our own circumstances/challenges in perspective but will also help us trust God with our own needs.  Make a difference in someone else’s life today.  Be a light.  Be an encouragement.  Be compassionate.  Be generous.  Be caring.  Be sympathetic.  Be hospitable.  Be a blessing.  Be a servant.  Be YOU-focused outwardly.

Matthew 25:34-40 (NLT)

34 “Then the King [Jesus] will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[f]you were doing it to me!’

Money and Marriage

Money and Marriage

Prominent research firms tell us that the top 2 leading causes for marital strain (and divorce) is money and sex.  I think most people would agree with this statement even if it wasn’t backed by statistics.  Interestingly enough, both of these have a common denominator that works like a virus, slowly infecting every aspect of our relationships.  Secrecy.   So let’s talk about “money” and its impact on marriage… but stay plugged into our blog for a future posting on sex and the topics that kill connection.

There are many things that Kate and I aspire to, but one of the top ones is managing our money wisely.  We want to get this right.  We want to look back decades from now and see the harvest that resulted from prudent and consistent seed sowing.  2 Timothy 1:14 tells us to guard the good deposit that was entrusted to us from the Lord.  We are stewards and money managers.  Money was here long before I took my first breath and it will be here long after me.  Many aspects of this life revolves around or is influenced by money.  But you cannot chase after money AND serve Christ (Matthew 6:24).  Jesus called out the problem 2000 years ago and the problem still persists today.

It has everything to do with your allegiance, your time, and your heart.  Our heart – the inner self that thinks, feels, and acts – is guilty of deceiving and misleading us (Jeremiah 17:9).  How many times have you followed your heart only to wind up in turmoil or pain?  I know I have.  And at the time, I thought I was doing the right thing.

Every now and then I listen to talk radio in the morning on the way to work.  On one particular morning, they were debating the question on whether married couples should share the same bank account or keep it separate.  The common answer to support the separation argument was around gifts and surprises.  The calls that continued to come in shocked me.  Many individuals had separate bank accounts that their spouse didn’t know about.  They kept their “fun money” in there and savings in case “things went sideways”.  When questioned, many of them saw no problem with it and really felt that it was the safe, respectable, and smart thing to do.  They had thought it through, it didn’t feel wrong, and so they acted on that rationale.

100% commitment is what is required for marriage – you can’t hold anything back, and this includes your finances.  Anything that is held back equals secrecy.  The old fashion saying is true, ‘what’s mine is yours, and your’s mine’.  Secrecy breeds distrust.  And a solid relationship can be built on nothing other than trust.  Secrecy slowly dissolves your foundation, working in the shadows until finally you’re facing collapse and ruin.  Don’t let this derail your marriage.

Money should be front and center in your marriage.  It should be something that you dialogue on often and challenge each other on… spending habits, investment habits, leisure habits, and giving habits.  Let the transparency in this area free you of the burden that so many couples deal with.  And hey, if you want to surprise your bride with something, just go pull out the cash anonymously… you can get really creative here.  Don’t let your heart take you down a path that will erode the core of the greatest establishment and relationship design that God has ever created.

Given that we have stepped into the giving season, let’s not forget a key application of our money.  On top of unity, let’s embrace goodness and generosity. Lets stop for a minute and move past our busy lives to see what we could do for just 10% of our efforts.  I’ll close with these inspirational scriptures:

“The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped”.  -Proverbs 11:25 MSG

“A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree”. -Proverbs 11:28 MSG

“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe (a “literal” translation means “tenth”) of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do”. –Deuteronomy 14: 28-29

 

Blessings-

SD

 

 

True Love

True Love

Love is in the air with Holiday’s rapidly approaching!  Everyone is more giving and more thoughtful. They are also more stressed and rushed and panicked to get everything right before the jolly man in the red suit shows up. Grab those roses, gifts that come in small boxes, and reservations for those sold out restaurants.  But before getting swept up in the emotions of the season I wonder if we can touch on this topic of love.

If you are married you probably think you have a grasp on this… or at least you do a pretty good job at it.  Sure, we can make our spouses feel loved, appreciated, important, valued and choose to be a servant leader in the relationship.  We can prove our commitment and dedication by being a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual partner – sharing in the natural ups and downs of life and being a source of strength.  While this is extremely important and should be your highest prioritized relationship after Christ, I wonder if we adopt this same effort and attitude towards those around us – friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and strangers – in our daily life?

1 Corinthians 13 is an in-depth picture of what true love is.  When Jesus came, he did away with the old law way of thinking that said spiritual maturity could be measured by your love for God – which is a mystery to others and can only be observed by one’s actions.  As a New Testament church, Jesus declared that your love for God is important but there is another “law”, joined with the first, that will truly demonstrate your love for God and that is how you love one another(Matthew 22:36-40).  Well dang it… now I cannot hide behind my religious language, loopholes, and good deeds.  Now others can clearly assess my relationship with God BY HOW I TREAT THOSE AROUND ME.  That’s scary, that’s real… and that’s unfiltered.

Maybe it’s time for a love check… if I were to interview 100 people who range from your closest friend to the lady who checks you out at Publix once a week… how would they rate you given their interaction and observance of your actions?  If any of those answers came back less than desirable it would arguably have a direct correlation to your current walk with Christ.  Let’s not inflate ourselves with religion and get absorbed in the Christian bubble because we read our Bible in the morning, give a tithe, and listen to biblical podcasts and David Crowder Band on the way to work.  The true test is in your love for others.  That’s true love. We need to remember that we don’t need to shout at the wind and the waves, and command from others. That’s God’s job. We need to fix our eye’s on Jesus. When we do that, we love at our absolute best.  

I’ll close with The Message version of 1 Corinthians 13… be encouraged and be a light!

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.”

Summer & Fall Drink Ideas

Summer & Fall Drink Ideas

Happy Hour is fun.  I love Friday nights once the laptop closes and we’re ready to kickoff the weekend.  The music get’s turned on, the grill gets lit, and we head outside to the lawn for games and relaxing.  Kate and I love this opportunity to explore different drinks – whether it be wine, beer, or spirits.  Sure, we have our go-to’s, but variety is our choice.  I’m no bartender by any means but thought we’d share some of our favorite mixed drinks that work well at the pool, lake, beach, or sitting on your lawn or back deck.  Enjoy!

 

Peachy Beach

2oz Vodka, 1oz grapefruit juice, .5oz Mathilde’s Peach Liqueur.  Shake with ice.  Top off with club soda if desired.  Garnish with fresh peach slices.

 

Armed Robbery (Muss & Turner’s special)

2oz bourbon (we love Bulleit, Michter’s, Basil Hayden, and 1792), .75oz Drambuie Liqueur, dash of Orange bitters.  Shake with ice.  Garnish with orange peel.

 

Upside Down Mimosa

1oz Vodka, Champagne, top with fresh orange or grapefruit juice.

 

White Lightning

2oz Vodka (we prefer Reyka, , 1oz Triple Sec, .5oz Mathilde’s Peach Liquer.  Shake with ice. Top off with club soda if desired.  Garnish with ripe plumb or peach wedges.

 

Classic Manhattan

Place black cherries in bottom of glass.  2oz bourbon, .75oz Sweet Vermouth, Agnostura bitters.  Shake with ice.

 

Classic Margarita

2oz Tequila (we prefer El Jimador, Partida, or Patron), .75oz Triple Sec/Cointreau, .5oz fresh lime juice, .3oz Agave syrup.  Shake with ice.  Garnish with lime wedge.

 

Cucumber Smash

2oz Vodka, .75oz Green Chartreuse, muddle with cucumber slices.  Shake with ice.  Top off with club soda if desired.  Garnish with fresh cucumber and mint leaves.

Cheers!

SD