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Blossoms Are Beautiful, But Temporary

Spring brings blooms that are beautiful to see. Trees, flowers and plants begin to show new signs of life and are a reminder that the season is changing from a gloomy winter to warmer weather. As beautiful as these blooms are, they are only temporary. Depending on the species, some blooms last longer than others, but at best they will only be around for a short time. In the world of botany, there are many other things that are important to the life of that tree or plant. If we make a judgment based solely on the beauty of a plant’s bloom, we may miss some important indicators signaling for attention.

I find the same to be true in life and with people. People have moments when they blossom and their beauty attracts a lot of attention; moments when we begin to notice an individual, their accomplishments or activities. The problem is that we often become enamored with that shining moment. We don’t take the time to examine the underlying character or ability of that person and later find ourselves disappointed when they aren’t what we thought. The blossoms serve a purpose, but there is more to the tree than the blossom. What can we learn from this as it relates to life and people?

They Serve A Purpose

Blossoms are beautiful. They catch our attention. There are entire festivals around the blossoming of trees, such as the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC. But beauty is not the only benefit. Blossoms play a large role in pollination process. They provide pollen for pollinators such as bees and initiate cross-pollination necessary for the trees to reproduce by producing fruit. Before you gripe about the new shade of yellow your car has acquired from the pollen clouds, understand that it is part of the life giving process of trees and plants.

Sometimes it is talent or opportunity or personality or appearance that gets the attention of the right people. All of those attention-grabbers serve a broader purpose as well. Not only do they get the attention of others, they multiply that person’s results when everything else is strong. A person with great talent and strong character can accomplish incredible things that someone with only one of these attributes may be able to do.

They Are Lost With The Least Disturbance

We have a cherry blossom tree in our yard and it is beautiful when it blooms. The white and pink blooms are incredible. But, the slightest wind creates what looks like a snowstorm in the Spring. As the wind blows, the petals detach and float to the ground and make a mess instead of a beautiful blossom. Occasionally, one the grandchildren will climb the tree and the simple shaking of the branch from the weight of a six-year-old gets the same result. Even though they are temporary, the slightest disturbance shortens even further their temporary beauty.

It has been said that talent will open doors for you but character will keep you in the room. That is true. Talent without character is temporary. Talent, beauty or personality that is not grounded in a strong foundation can be lost with the least little disturbance. Lives get turned upside down very quickly when the things people were depending on are only surface level and shallow.

There Could Be Disease

The beauty of the blossom often causes us to ignore potential underlying problems. The tree itself could be diseased or have an insect infestation. I recall a story in the Bible depicting Jesus visiting a tree in order to get a fig but there was no fruit. It apparently had the signs of having fruit, but it was barren. There was a problem that could not be seen without examination. A bright leaf or beautiful blossom may distract us from things we should be looking for..

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this in businesses when hiring an employee or with individuals looking for a mate. They pass an eye test or an ear test and they don’t look for more important underlying problems. Then you hear things such as “I had no idea they were like that” or “it was like they were a completely different person”. I am not saying that people don’t change, but usually the problem occurs because we were enamored with the wrong things and missed the most important things.

I hope you are enjoying your spring and catching the beauty of the blossoms and blooms that are showing up all around. Just be aware that they are only a small part of the process. Enjoy their beauty while you can but understand that life is bigger than a blossom.

4 Ways to Navigate the Twists and Turns of Life

Are you where you expected to be 20 years ago? Are you doing what you thought you would be doing? Is your life today what you planned for it to be or envisioned it to be when you were younger? For some, there may be similarities. For a limited few, it may look exactly as you expected. For most, things look completely different than what they thought it might.

As a kid we dream of what we are going to be when we grow up. That changes as we get older and by the time we begin choosing our vocation or tackling life, we often are surprised with where we are and what is happening. Sometimes life has thrown us a curveball and we are dealing with a different set of circumstances than we expected. It could be the loss of someone in our life that is significant to us. The economy could have tanked or technology could have changed a field. We could have changes in our health or many other areas of our life.

These twists and turns do not just come prior to starting on our career journey, they continue to happen throughout our lifetime. The question is not whether you will face sudden changes or challenges. The question is usually how will you deal with them. Here are four ways that will help you navigate some of the challenges of life.


One of the reasons that sudden changes cause us so many problems is because we have no margin in our lives. We have every plate available spinning on a stick. When one of them needs attention it causes the other plates we have spinning to lose their balance. We leave no margin for error or change. Margin in our time, finances or health allows us to deal with sudden changes or challenges without creating a crisis in every other area of our life. Margin keeps everything from being an emergency because we have room to absorb the change.


There is an old proverb that says “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. One of the reasons these twists and turns create such turmoil in our lives is because we have not prepared very well. There are things we can do before we get married that will make us a better spouse. We can prepare for the new job or promotion we desire. We can prepare our bodies with exercise and proper diet. We can prepare to retire both financially and the things we want to do with our time. We can prepare to be parents, leaders, business owners or any other thing we may attempt in our life. Not only that, we can continue to grow after we start down a path so that we stay prepared.


Sometimes we just need grit. I recently listened to a book about the importance of grit, or sheer determination, and the role in plays in success. Sometimes you just have to put your head down and be determined to endure for a little while. Determinations keeps us from giving up in the dips of life. You are not alone in facing challenges. Usually we can overcome them by just being willing to endure for a short period of time.


Stuff happens. I have heard that said a few different ways. One of the greatest qualities you can have when dealing with the challenges of life is to be flexible. Adaptability will allow you to work through the twists and turns of life without breaking or getting “bent out of shape”. Flexibility allows you to accommodate other people, new opportunities and emerging changes on the horizon. Flexibility in life will broaden relationships and allow you to experience more things than you could if everything was so rigid. There may be some things that you should not be flexible about, but they will be very limited.

You are not alone dealing with curveballs in your life. There are some ways that you can better deal with them. Don’t be overwhelmed. Be prepared.

4 ways to make better choices

Everyday we are faced with choices. Some of those choices are simple while others are much more complex. Some have very few consequences while others may affect us for the rest of our lives. Some of our choices are daily like what to eat or what to wear. Others may be one-time decisions like who to marry or where to live. Some choices we make in nanoseconds while others may need weeks of consideration.

If we are constantly making choices, how can we better make those decisions when faced with a choice? Good decision making does not happen by accident. Occasionally we will get lucky, but usually making the right choice is influenced by a number of things. Here are four tips to help you make better choices.

Review Previous Choices

This is one of the easiest ways to help you make better choices: simply think through the choices you have previously made. Understanding both the good and bad choices that you have made will assist you with your current decision. Why did you make a choice? What was the result? Did things turn out the way you expected? What did you miss? Your past choices should be learning experiences that guide you in your future choices.

Get Advice

There are people who have faced the same decisions you are facing and can offer valuable feedback on your process. Most people are willing to offer feedback based on their own experience. Sometimes a little insight from someone else will give you the clarity that you need to proceed with confidence.

Do What Is Right

When there is a clear right choice, do what is right. This makes things simple. Many times we try to make things gray that are much more black and white. Some decisions are good or bad. Some are good, better or best. But a great deal of the decisions we make have a clear right and a clear wrong choice. When right or wrong is clear, always choose right.

Choose People

Many of our decisions involve others. When possible, we should choose what is best for the people involved, not just what is best for ourselves. This can be difficult at times. Sometimes our choices may cause temporary pain but are best for everyone involved in the long run. Other times, it just requires us to sacrifice our selfishness for the betterment of everyone. People matter and they especially matter when we are making choices that affect them.

Don’t allow choices to paralyze you. Learn how to make better ones. Don’t live in fear because you have made some bad choices previously. Learn from them. It has been said that we are the sum of the choices we have made. That being the case, let us learn to make better choices so that our sum is greater in the future.

6 Ways To Deal With Weakness

Weaknesses are not something we like to talk about. As a matter of fact, the average person is probably not even aware of their weaknesses. When we are, our response is usually shame or embarrassment. I am a firm believer that you should work towards your strengths, but I also believe you must be aware of your weaknesses and the limitations they present. Every single person has weaknesses; places where they struggle or are not as productive or efficient as they are in other areas. Weaknesses should not be an excuse for constant problems and mistakes. There are ways to deal with weaknesses that will allow you to accomplish more and avoid pitfalls that weaknesses can create.

I am not talking about weaknesses of character. I am speaking about gifts, talents and abilities. Character weaknesses must be corrected or eventually they will overcome any strength you may have. Character weaknesses cannot be ignored or avoided. They must be dealt with immediately. Understanding your performance weaknesses though, will help you avoid certain pitfalls and disasters.

There are numerous tests and evaluations that will help you understand what your weaknesses are and help you evaluate them and how they may be affecting your life. There are lots of tools and resources available that can help you magnify the things that you are best at while dealing with things that trip you up. Here are some things about weaknesses that are important and will help you navigate life much better.

Know it

The first step in dealing with the weak areas of your life is to know what they are. You have them. We all have them. For most of us, we are at least aware of them in the back of our mind. I have met people who seemed oblivious to their weaknesses. In the early weeks of the season, the television show “American Idol” tends to exclusively ai

r contestants like this. People who believe they are destined for stardom but have no clue they just cannot sing. Sometimes it is painful to watch how confidently they butcher a song, completely unaware how bad it is. Take time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses so that you do not find yourself on a big stage embarrassed because you were completely unaware. Knowing your weaknesses is the first step in becoming more effective in your life.

Say it
Verbalize your weaknesses to the people around you. Not necessarily to everyone, but certainly to the people closest to you like family, close friends, coworkers and people who I would consider valuable on your life journey. I have met people who felt like revealing their weaknesses made them weaker with the people they led or worked with. I have found that to be quite the opposite. Usually they already know what your weaknesses are. If they know you very well, they have probably made an observation or two. Saying them out loud relieves some of the pressure and gives you even more credibility with those people because they see that you are self aware. Weaknesses do not have to be advertised on social media but there are forums where it is necessary to talk about them.

Get help with it

When you know and verbalize your areas of weakness, it opens the door for others to step up and help you. Though it may be a weakness for you, there are others for whom the same thing is a strength. Some of those people will gladly pick up the slack because they find fulfillment in the things you struggle with the most. When you know and verbalize these things, often people will come along beside you without you seeking them out. Other times you have to be intentional about inviting them in. Either way, there is help available for the places where you struggle the most.

Delegate it

Delegation is difficult for most people, but delegating your weaknesses is one of the most effective things you can do. The struggle with this is that we often start insecure about our weaknesses anyway and then we have to turn those responsibilities over to someone else. Delegation allows you to be more effective at the things you are best at while being more effective in the other areas at the same time because you are allowing someone else to use their strengths.

Avoid it

Look for opportunities that play to your strengths instead of your weaknesses and seek to avoid things that require you to lean too hard on areas of weakness. When you are aware, this will allow you to be selective about the things you get involved in. From careers to volunteer opportunities, avoiding situations where you have to depend on these areas will help you succeed and make what you are doing that much more enjoyable.

Improve it

There are rarely things that we cannot improve in our life. Back to the American Idol example, most people can improve their vocal skills with some coaching and practice. They may never arrive at superstar level, but they can become respectable and certainly not embarrassing.  If you are a level 3 or 4 out of 10 at something, you may be able to raise that level to a 5 or 6. Though not proficient enough to be called a strength, it can be utilized effectively when necessary. You should not spend enormous amounts of time attempting to improve a weakness, but spending some time can certainly be valuable.

There is no way to avoid having weaknesses. It is part of how we are all created differently. Understanding them and how to deal with them will make our life much easier. Using these 6 tips will help you in your weakest areas.

4 Ways To Avoid Settling

Recently I wrote about the Dangers of Settling It is a temptation that all of us face in almost every area of our life. Our marriages get stuck. We settle in our careers. We accept whatever is happening with our children. We get in a rut in our organizations. We often excuse the situation with sayings like “it is what it is” or “I am satisfied”.

Many times when we settle our intentions are good. We may have stopped for a little while to rest. Things may be better than they were so we don’t want to disrupt the improvement. There are good things happening even though they are not the things we desired. We measure ourselves by other’s opinions and do what they think is best. Besides, it is easier to keep something in motion than it is to get something started.

If settling is dangerous, are there some ways we can avoid it? Can we create some systems or put in place some habits that might help us avoid getting stuck in a place we never intended to stay? If we are aware of the dangers, I think there are some things that we can do that will help us avoid settling for less than where we are supposed to be or what we are called to do.

Try Something New

When was the last time you did something for the very first time? Trying something new will often break you out of a rut or get your attention focused on what is possible again. It does not have to be something spectacular; simply trying something new is good for you. It can be as simple as a new food, a new route to work or a different morning routine. Just try something that you have never tried before and see what kind of impact it might have. As a matter of fact, Mary Schmich says you should “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Try something new today.

Set A Deadline

There are times when we have a legitimate reason to stop where we are for a while. We may need to rest or we may need to assist someone else for a period of time. There may be a season of life that requires us to hold off on some things until a later time. One of the ways to avoid getting stuck in one of these places is to set a deadline for how long we will be there. If it is a season of rest, determine ahead of time how long that will be so that it does not turn into a permanent situation. For example, some dieters have “cheat days” built in. Sometimes those cheat day turns into a cheat week then a cheat month until they have abandoned the diet altogether. There is nothing wrong a temporary stop, but we must be careful that it doesn’t turn into a permanent location.

Make Growth A Daily Habit

Growth is not a destination, it is a lifestyle. Growth is something that we must be doing daily. It must be a part of our routine of life. There are countless ways to grow, but much of it has to do with the things we consume and the people with whom we associate. Healthy growth rarely happens by accident. We must constantly be aware of whether or not we are growing. The greatest thing growth does is to not allow us to remain the same. All change is not growth, but you cannot grow without changing. Those changes are often the very things that will help us move out of our settled place.

Ask Questions

Asking questions is a great way to get a better understanding. Sometimes we are questioning ourselves. Other times we are getting input from others. John Maxwell wrote an entire book entitled “Good Leaders Ask Great Questions”. If you are no longer questioning things, it very well may be a sign that you are stuck or settled. Simple things like “Is this where I am supposed to be?” or “Is this what I am supposed to be doing?”. Questions from others may center around effectiveness or their observations of specific things in your life. Questions are your friend. Don’t be afraid to ask them.

All of us have settled in the wrong place at times. The problem is when it becomes our permanent location. Use some of these simple methods to make sure you don’t settle for less than what you are created to do.

The Dangers of Settling

There are so many ways we use the word settle that lends to a favorable tone. We use it when talking about someone maturing or possibly getting married when we say they settled down. We talk about it in terms of rest when we have settled in for the night. We talk about children settling down and behaving. We may even view a settlement in a legal case in a positive fashion.

But there are some dangers associated with settling. Even in some of the references above there is danger when we have settled. If we marry someone to be settled down while missing the one God intended, has settling down benefitted us? But there are so many other ways in which settling is dangerous. There are a number of places in the Bible where people settled and found that it led to unfortunate situations. Elimelech and Naomi settled in Moab where he died and their two sons died. The people who built the Tower of Babel settled in a plain in Babylonia and thought staying there would make them famous. Abraham’s father, Terah, started out for the land of Canaan but settled in Haran and never made it to Canaan. Over and over again we see how settling had a higher cost than expected.

The same is true in our everyday life. Settling often keeps us from the very things we thought we were going to accomplish. Settling has so many implications, many of which are not good. While settling is not always bad, many times it is. Here are a few of the dangers of settling and what it may mean.

We accepted less than the best

Many times when we settle we have chosen to accept less than what is available, possible or best. We have chosen to meet in the middle. To accept mediocrity. To take what we can get. We even justify it with sayings like “a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush”. What we mean is we would rather have something than take the risk of having nothing. Gamblers at a blackjack table will often settle for “even money” when they draw blackjack and the dealer has an ace up. Taking even money means we get something. But the odds are the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, and even if they do, over the long haul, the odds are in your favor. But settling adds to the house advantage. So many times we accept something because we are afraid of having nothing, but it also causes us to miss something better or best.

Settling means we stopped moving

From a spiritual standpoint, settling is dangerous because it usually means we have stopped growing. Resting and settling are not the same. Sometimes we need to stop, regroup and rest. But sometimes, rest turns into settling and we make where we stopped our permanent residence which is the opposite of walking by faith or growing into Christ. Growth requires change. Walking requires movement. Settling puts an end to both.

Settling means separation

Orange juice seems to be the easiest illustration here when pulp begins to settle in the bottom and requires you to “shake well” to get the full taste of the juice. This can happen with paint, medicine and many other types of liquids. The important ingredients begin to separate and it is not as useful or as effective as it was in its intended solution state. It does not mean it cannot be used again. It just means that it will have to be shaken to be most effective. Sometimes settling causes us to not be as useful as we once were or should be and it requires major upheaval in our life. Sometimes the upheaval or shaking can be traumatic and wouldn’t be necessary if we had not settled.

Sickness has settled in

Settled is a word that may be used with certain lung illnesses like bronchitis. It suggests a depth to the illness and the time that it will take to recover. Settling may be a sign of sickness or a depth of infection in our life. It may also signify the length of time that it will take for us to recover from our current situation.

Be aware of the places in your life where you are tempted to settle. Settling has so many dangers that may cause you to miss the best things God intended for your life. Live with purpose and accomplish everything God has designed for your life.

The Effects of a Hurricane

Barbara and I have recently been through an extremely busy season. During that time we made a promise that if we could get through the first of February we would take some time off, just the two of us. The island of St. Martin is a place we have visited while on cruises. We wanted to revisit and spend some extended time there, so we made plans around a trip to Peru to go to St. Martin on our return. Our Peru trip was rearranged due to weather related delays, but we still had a few days we could spend in St. Martin.

While making arrangements for a place to stay, I kept noticing comments about the condition of different properties as a result of Hurricane Irma which had passed through several months prior. The hurricane and its aftermath are mostly removed from our memories because it did not directly affect us. We have had our own personal experiences with hurricanes, so we were not sure what to expect when we arrived. It did not take long to begin to see the destruction that had taken place.

When I see things like what we saw in St. Martin, I often begin to think about how those things relate to everyday life and maybe some lessons we can learn from it. This island is a mess. I was brokenhearted by some of the things I saw. There are some lessons we can learn from it since all of us have been on the backside of an ugly storm at some time or another. Here are a few things that might encourage you or help you be an encouragement to someone else in the same situation.

Beauty returned immediately

The main attractions of the Caribbean are warm weather, beautiful beaches and crystal clear water. The hurricane that passed over the island was only was there for a few hours at most. Within a short period of time after it was gone, those same attractions were almost immediately present. The highlights returned to normal. The weather was warm. The beaches were beautiful and the water was clear and beautiful. There was some debris around but most of the things that attracted people returned to normal very quickly.

I see the same thing happen in people’s lives all of the time. Some devastating event happens in their life like death, divorce or some disease and the world stands still for a moment. People are concerned and caring for a short period of time then suddenly everything and everyone around you seems to return to normal while you are struggling to figure things out. All of the surroundings are the same, but you are not and most others have lost interest.

Scars will be obvious for a long time

The airport terminal in St. Martin will be closed for another 18 months. Visitors must board planes and go through customs under tents and temporary buildings. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of boats are capsized all around the island. Restaurants and resorts and damaged, many of which will never open again. The repairs on those that do reopen will take years. There will be marks of this hurricane for many years to come. These are the things people will point to as a reminder of how bad things were. They are the scars of the storm.

Our lives are no different. Catastrophe may have come and gone but we still have the scars that show its effects. Loneliness or depression. Grief that cannot seem to be comforted or tears that cannot seem to be dried. We talk differently. We look at the world differently. We have been scarred by what has happened to us and it shows. It can improve over time, but some of these scars will be visible as long as we are alive. Though the trouble has gone, we still have the reminders of how bad it was.

People are afraid to come which leads to more suffering

There are a limited number of rooms on the island but in general, there are places to stay if you want to come. But even in the information age, people are unsure of how to get the information they need to evaluate the condition of the island. They wonder if there will be restaurants or nice beaches to visit or if companies are still offering tours. The devastation has scared people away which only magnifies the problem. Tourism is a way of life for these islands. When people do not come, there is even less money available to rebuild. Restaurants do less business and hire fewer people. The same is true for every other facet of tourism. Fewer jobs means the people who need money the most are without. The problem gets worse instead of better. The recovery is much slower than it would be with people visiting.

I have seen this play out in so many lives including my own. I specifically recall what abandonment looked like during divorce. People didn’t know what to say or do. They didn’t want to choose sides, so they went silent. At a time when I needed people the most, they were absent. I see this often in other people’s lives. When they need people the most is when they are most often avoided. You don’t need everyone when everything is up and to the right. Life is good. But when things fall apart, you need people more than ever. It is during these times when you find yourself the most lonely, which just leads to more suffering.

I am not sure what you have gone through or what your experience has been. I do know that if you have experienced any of the things I have mentioned above, it should make you more aware of what other people need when they are facing devastating events and difficult days. Be aware of how things play out, both in your own life and in the lives of others. It will help you walk through the most difficult of times and also give you the information you need to help others through the same types of times.

4 tips to improve your marriage

Valentine’s Day can be one the most fun days of the year for couples. It can also be one of the worst. If things are going good and your marriage seems to be solid, it can be a bright spot in a somewhat mundane month. If your marriage is not what you want it to be, it can be a frustrating and even discouraging day.

Even if your marriage is good, there is always room for improvement. If you are struggling in that relationship, one of the best things you can do is to be intentional about improving your marriage. Every marriage needs slight adjustments on a regular basis. Some marriages need major corrections. Either way, finding a way to improve it can prove very beneficial to the long term health of the relationship. Here are four simple ways that you can start using today to improve your marriage.

Make It About Them

We are selfish beings. We can convince ourselves that we are doing something for someone else when it really is about us. Men buy their wife lingerie for Valentine’s. Yes, I am sure that was at the top of her list. It’s possible that what she wanted was for her husband to have a long conversation with her; recognizing her value in the relationship. Women get their husband a sappy card when most likely what he wanted was sex. So both find disappointment because they gave something that was about themselves instead of about the other person. Be intentional. Think about them and not just yourself. You will be surprised by their response when they realize you are putting them first.

Get Counseling

I have heard it said that every couple should go to a counseling session at least once per year no matter how good they believe their marriage is. Counseling should not be viewed as some activity that has to be done in secret. A great wealth of assistance and wisdom can be found in counseling. You can find professional counselors in almost every town. If you do not feel comfortable with a professional counselor or do not think you can afford it, most clergy will offer some type of basic marital advice, even if it is only to serve as a mediator for a conversation. Don’t allow your pride to keep you from getting the assistance your marriage needs. It is the most important earthly relationship you have.

If your marriage needs an intervention, check this out

Be Around Other Couples Working On Their Marriage

This is one of the most important activities you can participate in for your marriage. Be around other couples who are striving to have good marriages. If the only people you are around are people in toxic relationships, that might be a key indicator as to why you are struggling in yours. There are no perfect marriages, but there are many committed couples who want what is best for their relationship and are working it out. You can often find these relationships in church or maybe even your workplace. They may be neighbors or other parents where you children participate in activities. Being intentional about the people you hang around will have lasting effects on the relationship that you have.

Use Resources

There are plenty of resources available to help you with your marriage. There are books, videos studies, courses, conferences and more. These are things that you can do privately and if applied, can put your marriage on a better track. I have found over my lifetime that a book or a simple video or sermon has spoken to me in specific ways that allowed me to make changes that improved my relationship. It is one of the reasons why I spend much of my time creating resources such as this blog to help people find the help they need for their relationship.

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Make this Valentine’s day one you will never forget.

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About Me

I currently serve as Lead Pastor at Open Door Church and I am a certified trainer & coach with the John Maxwell Team. I am also an Associate Trainer with EQUIP training leaders around the world. I currently own two businesses related to the foodservice equipment industry. I am a certified speaker, teacher and coach with the John Maxwell Team. I can offer you workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.