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Brokenness- A True Gift

I know that the idea of being broken sounds like a tragic thing, especially if it is a bone or cell phone. However, I am here to say that brokenness is one of the best things that could happen to a human being. Rumi once said that “You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.” We humans are a complicated bunch and pride is the very thing that keeps us from being broken. Nowadays, image is such an important thing for people to keep up. Sadly, this way of thinking is distorted and destructive. If you look at the tiny writing on the side view mirror of your Toyota, it says “images in the mirror may be closer than they appear.” Image is regularly distorted and often found to be false.

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Brokenness: An Amazing Gift

I know that the idea of being broken sounds like a tragic thing, especially if it is a bone or cell phone. However, I am here to say that brokenness is one of the best things that could happen to a human being.  Rumi once said that “You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.” We humans are a complicated bunch and pride is the very thing that keeps us from being broken. Nowadays, image is such an important thing for people to keep up. Sadly, this way of thinking is distorted and destructive. If you look at the tiny writing on the side view mirror of your Toyota, it says “images in the mirror may be closer than they appear.” Image is regularly distorted and often found to be false.

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Silence Blocks the Light

Ok friend, it is time to get very radical. As a man in recovery, most of my life was covered in shame, guilt, and isolation. I spent a majority of my adult life afraid of the secret getting out. The irony is striking because as in most cases, I was the last one to find out that everyone already knew how broken that I was. We think that we can hide it but the vast majority of those that are in our circle are quite aware of what is happening. The closer that the light of exposure came caused the lies, manipulation, and secrets to increase ten fold. I was foolish to believe that I could hide what was happening, but the fear of being found out overshadowed everything else. This leads me to something I find to be a great paradox and somewhat of a hindrance of the greater message of freedom from bondage and hope.

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Chains Broken Finally

Many of us are told from childhood that our secrets and embarrassing moments should be kept quiet and hidden from others. Anything that we have done that would bring shame to us or our family should be locked in a deep hole never to reach the light of day. However, I come as a walking testament to the fact that the very shame and guilt we carry can only die through the light of exposure. Many of the things that we believed we should hide were never even of our own doing. The deeper the hole we dig to cover them, the further we remove ourselves from inner peace and contentment.

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Repetition: The Mother of Learning

When it comes to learning any skill or lesson, there is much to be debated about which method would achieve the most desired approach. Edward Lee Thorndike, the noted American psychologist responsible for laying the framework for modern educational psychology had many theories and one I find to be particularly effective and valid. According to his S-R Bond Theory, drill or practice helps in increasing efficiency and durability of learning. Essentially, in laymen’s terms, practice makes perfect. Now I would not promote any human effort as being perfect, yet the act of consistent repetition does increase skill level dramatically over time.

As a trained martial artist, I am reminded of a lesson my old Master taught years ago that still resounds with me today. One evening while practicing a certain series of movements, he became quite frustrated at the constant mistakes that the entire class kept repeating. He sat us down and told us about when he first began learning martial arts in China back in the fifties. As an American who spoke only English, the barrier to learning was as high as the Great Wall of China itself. He explained that since he could not effectively communicate orally with his teacher, the only way was to observe the movements and repeat what he was shown. Of course, this was a different culture and time in history which included being stuck with a bamboo stick when the example was not followed. I am not saying that I agree or disagree with this harsh style, but my teacher did make a very good point about the learning through observation and repetition. At first, he was clumsy and got “punished” frequently. However, over time his skill improved just by doing the same proper technique over and over. He got struck with a weapon less often and the movement began to become natural to him. Eventually, he didn’t even have to think at all about what he was doing, the movements became as natural to him as driving a car or tying his shoe. Given that he was learning combat skills, the ability to act in a moments notice without having to think was imperative to survival. Most new undertakings don’t have the same possible life or death consequences but the principle in the learning style rings true.

When I was 17 and traded my first car to someone for his but forgot that his was a five speed manual transmission. He dropped it off and we signed the title, yet I forgot that I had no idea how to drive it. In my enthusiasm for a “new” car, this major detail escaped my rational thought process. Fortunately for me, my mother learned to drive on an old stick shift Mustang and could teach me how. If you have ever learned this useful but somewhat archaic skill, the beginning is the “grind em until you find em” stage. The miracle is the fact that the transmission didn’t fall out from the jerking and grinding of metal gears for many painful hours. My mom probably still has a slight headache all these years later. However, eventually from repetition and consistent practice, the ability has now become as unconscious to me as breathing. I still drive a stick shift to this day and it is effortless and comes without the headache for my fellow passengers.



I believe that Dr. Thorndike was correct when he proposed, tested, and submitted this theory on educational psychology. Inversely, he also states that what is not repeated tends to dissipate. Returning to my martial arts training is a perfect example. I spent many years practicing the movements that my teacher taught me, but due ti injury and changing life responsibilities, practice reduced until it ended all together. I know that if I returned to the school, some ability would still be there, but just as an axe that isn’t sharpened, so is a martial artist without practice. If one doesn’t use it, he loses it. Perhaps not completely, but to a large degree with the passing of time. To improve, one must wash, rinse, and repeat regularly or risk deterioration

Let Their Jealousy Light Your Fire

Have you ever noticed that people attempt to keep you in the gutter where you once were? We are left with a choice when the attack of jealousy enters our camp. We can let it burn our God-given purpose to the ground. However, if we want to rise up from where we came from, we can use at as fuel to light a fire that no man can extinguish. When we begin to turn a corner and start doing something different the haters begin their battle cry for blood. Our old patterns were predictable to them and as long as we stayed in our cage, they didn’t have to look at the things they would like to change but are too afraid of. Jealousy is rooted in fear of coming to terms with self and manifests in hatred, assumption, and anger.

Historical texts and events are strewn with many examples of how jealousy destroyed some and lifted others higher. Cain killed Abel because he was jealous of his brother’s standing with God as righteous. America’s Revolutionary War was laced in jealousy. The early colonists wanted freedom from British rule and the British wanted control and  “their stuff.” Even Satan himself was once the most regarded angel in Heaven but wanted to sit in his Creator’s seat and thus, was cast down to Hell. The story of the Prodigal Son paints a vivid picture of this. The disobedient son, selfish and self-centered, wanted his inheritance immediately. His father gave it to him and he was off to spend it on booze, women, and pleasure. Until, one day he found himself broke, dirty, and desperate living in an actual pig pen. This “rock bottom” circumstance led him to come to his senses and return home, regardless of how he might be turned away for his behavior. Every day since the son left, his father waited for the son to return until that  perfect day when he saw him walking toward home. The elderly father got up and ran to meet him. He held no record of his son’s disrespectful actions and ordered the best robe to be placed around him. He placed his ring on the son’s finger as a sign that he was still his son and he loved him above all the wrongs he had committed. He called for a feast to celebrate. This is where jealousy crept in. The other son who stayed home and obeyed his father got angry. How could you give him the best robe, ring, and have the prize calf slaughtered for the feast? I have always done right , he is the bad one. The Father loved each son equally, but the “good” one failed to see it due to his own pride and ego. How could you celebrate for this screwup? The father celebrated for his one son, once lost in darkness, for he was now being brought into the light.

Victor Hugo wrote one of the greatest pieces of classic literature ever, Les Misersbles. The main character, Jean Valjean was a prisoner at the beginning  of the story. He was sentenced to 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. The commander of the prison, Inspector Javert, always had it out for Valjean. After he was released, Javert made it his life mission to prove that Valjean could never change and attempted to sabotage him everywhere he went. Valejean went on to build a good life, become a mayor, and a respected pillar of the community. The inspector’s jealousy fueled his burning desire to prove he was right and Valjean would always be a thief. Until one day many years later, Valjean had the chance to kill Javert but showed him mercy and grace instead.  Immediately, upon learning he was pursuing the wrong thing all these years, he committed suicide. He couldn’t accept the fact that he was wrong and that a man can change, regardless what he has done in the past. Jealousy will destroy the person consumed by it.

Human nature hasn’t change since the first man walked the Earth. Adam and Eve walked with God in Eden, and it was perfect. They were given free will and one rule…don’t eat from that one tree. However, we know how the story ended. At the root, they were envious that God was God and they weren’t. For a brief moment, the temptation to “bend” the rule came along with curiosity, and we have been trying to get back to the Garden ever since. Evil entered the picture along with its symptoms of pride, jealousy, and anger to name a few, and little has changed since.

Regardless of what you have done in your past, you still have a future. If you woke up today, your life purpose isn’t fulfilled and you are still here for a reason. Even our closest friends and family will sometimes criticize us when they see us climbing out of the hole that we dug through our own poor choices and decisions. We slip off the ladder when we waste time engaging with these people. We can love them and wish them well, but in order to move forward sometimes we cannot allow certain folks to join on our journey. One negative influence can pull us off the balance beam that we are now walking. Just remember, how others react to your success or your failures has little to do with you and everything to do with them. For too long you have been listening to what others think about you. As long as you aren’t harming anyone, be you and do it unapologetically. They may try to bring up the past but you don’t live there anymore. Moses murdered, Noah got drunk, David had an affair, and God still used them to do great things. In fact, He does his best work with broken things. Allowing yourself to be humbled by your circumstances allows God to do a great work within you, if you let him. If they are jealous and talking about you consider it a compliment for they are more interested in your blessings than the ones in their own lives. Are you going to allow the heat of jealousy to destroy you or mold you? The hotter the fire, the brighter the beacon. Shine bright!

Respecting Your Ex: An Example for Your Kids

Chapter Twenty Two of the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament states  to “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This sentence is loaded with wisdom beyond the surface level. Children do not learn from what we say, they learn from how we behave. Kids these days are far more advanced at younger ages than generations prior, thus making this approach all the more important. Even when we think they are too young or won’t notice, they are keenly aware of what we do and are always watching.

Respect is Necessary

I have been divorced for over 4 years and  have little control over how my ex-wife behaves in front of our two children. Due to our custody arrangement, my time with the kids is quite limited to a few hours once a week and every other weekend. WIth such an arrangement in place, my interaction with them must reflect how I wish for them to act as they mature into adulthood. Anyone who has been divorced is more than likely aware of the challenges of co parenting with an ex who may still carry resentment, anger, and hurt from the marriage. When two people in a relationship break up and have no kids, they can have a clean break and move forward without looking back. However, when there are children involved, this is impossible. If both parents choose to raise the children as a team when they may not particularly like each other, the behavior shown to their children must be exhibited with respect. As difficult as it may be to keep emotion or bitterness towards your ex spouse at bay, this is paramount to children learning how to cultivate successful relations with others.

This past Mother’s Day Weekend was also  my time to have my children for the day. I told them that we had a fun day planned and one of the special trips we were going to make was to the store to pick out gifts for their mother. My desire to show my children that I respect their mother above all else trumped my own selfish desire to not spend my time or money on her. I brought them to a store and gave the guidelines to pick whatever they wanted to get her. They chose a few cute gifts and a giant greeting card that was taller than my 5-year-old. We spent an hour and a half in the store and had a great experience creating memories together. Ask me if I would’ve done this a few years ago on the day she filed for divorce and I would’ve laughed. However, with my own healing, learning how to be a single dad only intensifies my desire to show my children a healthy example.

No matter what issues arise between my ex-wife and I, my policy is to never let a negative word be said in front of them regarding their mother. Sometimes, I admit, this policy is nearly impossible to adhere to. On many occasions I’ve had to practice grounding techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to remind myself of who I want my children to see in their father. People will do what you do not what you tell them to do. This lesson can begin with our children and is easily understood in adulthood. No matter who hurt who or which person is perceived at fault in the breaking down of a marriage, the children remain the ultimate gift from above and must be treated as such. No matter which way you lean spiritually speaking, the following verse in Luke 12:48 is necessary when speaking of how to raise up our children. “To whom much is given, much is required.” Respect for everyone, especially to the person our kids call mom or dad is part of such a great responsibility. Next time you want to speak harsh words regarding an ex, remember those little people are always watching.

Please check out my friend’s great article that relates so well –

Running Back to Bondage

The Old Testament story of the Exodus is a very poignant portrayal of humanity. Thousands of years later, not much has changed. The Israelites were held in back breaking captivity and bondage to Pharaoh.After God used Moses as a great leader to “let his people go”, the Red Sea was parted and off to the Promised Land. In their eyes, the bad times were over and nothing but riches and joy from now on.

The Past


If we read further, we will find that the journey to the land God promised them, was supposed to be an 11 day journey. Sadly, this trip took 40 years and most of them never made it. The instructions were clear and the road was there. Soon after the danger of the pursuing armies of Egypt was eradicated, they forgot where they came from. They forgot the pain and torture. They had the thought that the troubles were over. God provided a way out, but now we face new challenges. We have to eat manna, and there is no steak and eggs. The desert is hot, and there is no shelter. Then the blame game began. They pointed the finger at Moses, if not for him, we’d could have a house, bed, and assorted foods. I mean, so we have to perform hot, difficult labor. But…But… at least we wouldn’t be facing these new Goliath’s.What does that say about people, then and now?


Think of a time in your life when you were in bondage, broken and full of despair. Perhaps, it was a relationship full of resentment, abuse, or mistrust.Maybe it’s a job that is making you miserable and hopeless. What about a drug addiction that took everything from you. You sat on the street in the cold with nowhere to go and yet, couldn’t stop chasing the next high. We have all been in that situation where we wanted out, and a way opened up. The rehab got us a bed, but now they insist you follow the rules and clean your room. We begged to get in, and someone made it happen in our cries. But…but..I want it to be my way. You finally escaped the abusive boyfriend, but now have to go back your mother’s basement at 37 years old. You are a grown woman, how can she demand certain house rules be followed? Late at night you text the one who hurt you and tell him, “ as long as you change, I will come back. “ We know how that one will end. A vicious cycle of escaping the quicksand and running like a moth to a flame back to it.




God didn’t rescue us from our “Egypt’s” so we can run back when we have new, unfamiliar terrain to traverse.Perhaps, if the Israelites that he rescued from captivity would’ve entered the Promised Land had they put the same faith and trust in Him when it came to this new, strange road in the journey. Perhaps, if we are brought out of our slavery after begging God to save us, the answer is to trust. Trust the process in the next chapter of the story. The promise isn’t that it will be easy, but if we are saved it’s for a reason that isn’t in vain. Easy would’ve been staying where we were, even though it was suicide on the installment plan. Change is painful, but not as painful as staying where we aren’t supposed to be.

Original Source-

Paradox- Isolated Connection

I was recently watching a speech given in the film “The Great Dictator” from 1940 starring Charlie Chaplin, and the statements he made carry even more meaning almost 80 years later. He spoke of “machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.” Hearing that on my IPhone 6+ super duper handheld connection device made my stomach churn like the Bering Sea during a storm. We have more ways to connect today than at any point in history, yet many people are more isolated than before things  due to things like social media. With one swipe of a finger, I can have  a video chat with someone in the Philippines, but somehow the connection that is sought gets lost on the digital highway. I know so many people who will not answer a phone call yet have no problem texting late into the night. Somewhere along the way the deeply desired human need for connection has been confused by Tweets, Snapchats, and Tinder matches.

I cannot help but see how this is tearing the very soul away from who we really are. The temptation to post a selfie with the best makeup and newest pair of  Jordans in hopes of gathering likes has become the yardstick which the masses use to measure self worth. The hurtful things that people say across the ocean of technology about another person’s post can still create destroy a person even if not done face to face. People tend to be more bold about their opinions when hiding behind a screen with miles of distance between them. The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a lie that has been handed down for decades. The bruises on the outside heal eventually, but the internal ones caused by words can last a lifetime. I believe that most people are well intentioned at their core and would never say the things they say to another person’s face, but technology has given them a false sense of security and a place to be brutal without seeing the effects of  their negative words.

How many times have you gotten a text or email and felt hurt or upset only to find out that the intention of said message was the exact opposite? In my own life, I have not only burned bridges, I blew them up. Jobs and relationships have disappeared with a quick tap of the send button. Just turn on the news in any town and see the discord that can be sown by a single message that has gone viral only to be misunderstood and taken out of context. It has been stated that only 7% of any message is conveyed through words, and this is if the communication is direct and in person. The number dramatically decreases when it is through words on a screen or an “app.” Is it any wonder that the breakdown of moral compass, ethical behavior, and plain old decency has increased since the first modem dialed up to the world wide web?
This message is not to say that technology in and of itself is evil at all. Through the dramatic advances made by this, we have seen many amazing things. Things like cures for certain diseases, the ability for people to “connect” , and efficiency in delivery of goods and services. My concern is the loss of people truly caring and looking out for one another. I don’t want to see another person commit suicide, homicide, or any other heinous act in real time via any given smart phone application. Use these things for their innate value, but don’t let them define who you are as a uniquely created person with immense worth and potential.


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