Monday, December 23, 2013

Wal-Mart sucks and so do I

Like many people I know, I avoid shopping at Wal-Mart as much as possible. I loathe the dozens of cashier stations with typically just a small percentage open. I cringe at the thought of using the terrible self-service kiosks that always seem to crash when I use them while gleefully exclaiming, “item not found in bag” when I try to pay. Oh the agony.

Then of course there are the people of Wal-Mart. It seems the store brings in a lower class of poorly dressed and equally poorly behaved people shopping in pajamas, house shoes and no bras.
Give me the high class folks of Target or a locally owned store any day.

Just other day the son and I were forced to shop in Wal-Mart together for an item that could not be found anywhere else. We bravely fought the holiday crowd while at the same time gaining great amusement feeling good about ourselves by making fun of the people in the store.
Huh?

I was no further away from the store than the parking lot when the whole thing came crashing down on my heart.

What kind of man am I to judge any person other than the one I see in the mirror every morning? I know that guy pretty well and it seems he fails a lot and has a good number of issues.  What kind of father am I as well to encourage my teen son through example to be as low as I am by making fun of people we have never met.
This turned into a teachable moment as I asked my son to forgive me for this behavior. I told him Dr. King had it right when he said we should judge people by the content of their character and not as they appear or as we might perceive based on prejudgments.   

How easy it is in life to feel taller by making those around us smaller? Aren't we called by God instead to become the least if we want to become greatest?
In the end I am thankful for the lesson that day as it reminded me how far I have to go if I am to become the man I was born to become.



Friday, November 22, 2013

Thinking of texting and porn

Thanks to smart phones and tablets, our society is quickly moving through a technology motivated transformation with broad impacts. Most of these are positive with hyper-networking opening doors to community and innovation that would not have been possible even just a few years ago. I think most of us now take for granted the amount of information that is available at any given time right in the palm of our hand.

But with these changes have also come pitfalls as well and we should be ever on guard to ensure we embrace the positive side of technology rather than fall into a technological hole that will destroy us. Truly there is danger for it to take our lives, darken our souls, and destroy our families.

Am I being over dramatic?

Check out these facts about texting and driving. It seems more and more common to hear of accidents due to distracted drivers. Thankfully the wireless industry recognizes this problem and companies like Sprint are now offering tools to help.

Sprint Customers may now download a free app that blocks texting while driving and provides other great safety features. From the manufacturers,some devices like the new Motorola X also come with features to improve safety while driving with inherent options.

There is another danger that is less talked about but also potentially just as impactful. Porn

Are you aware that your device allows access to any website no matter what the content? It is pretty easy to set filters and view browsing history on home computers and laptops since families tend to share these resources. Phones and tablets on the other hand tend to be more individual and therefore less observed. Sure there are in browser settings that can block content but these are easily modified and a lot of people do not know they exist or how to set them.

Sprint thankfully offers a couple of easy options to ensure your device and your family’s devices are temptation protected.

Sprint Mobile Controls is a subscription based service at $4.99 a month that provides a wide range options for parents including a web-based dashboard that shows phone usage and texting usage reports. It also allows customized settings for blocking usage during set hours and with set people. Use of such a tool to me would depend a lot on your family culture and child behavior patterns as most teens I know would see this level of control as punishment or an invasion of their perceived privacy.

Consumer account holders can also set controls for free that will block; apps, downloads, texts from specific numbers, pictures and videos.

It is easy to set these controls up online by accessing your account. Once logged in go to My Preferences and you will see a wide range of options listed under limits and permissions.

The must have setting to me is the content filter. The Content Filter helps protect your Sprint devices against adult content and malware while web browsing on the Sprint network. It allows the account holder to control access to sites or content determined inappropriate in accordance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).”

The content filter has been around for a long time but is now being expanded from just feature phones to all devices and Sprint is sending out an awareness e-mail to let customers know about this enhancement.
The huge benefit here is that this content filter setting works no matter what settings may be selected on the phone browser. A critical difference for sure. The only drawback is that this blocking does not work when browsing off the Sprint nextwork via WiFi. As a result, it is still important to ensure web browser settings are set to strict.

I have activated the filter on all my devices and now have a comfort knowing that my entire family including myself has a certain level of temptation protection. We are all human and I am glad to add any layer of added accountability that I can find.

What about you?

Have you protected yourself and your family with the addition of controls to prevent texting and driving?

Have you protected yourself and your family from temptation by modifying the browser settings on your devices to block content?

Want to go a little deeper? Check out this recent sermon from Craig Groeshel

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Catching the right attitude

“The world is what we think it is. If we can change our thoughts we can change the world” H.M. Tomlison



A funny thing about attitudes is that they are as contagious as colds. We truly tend to catch whichever one we surround ourselves with most. No one is immune.
I have often found myself in a circle of negativity fully participating in the downtrodden conversation about how terrible this or that or him or she is. Soon thereafter upon reflection, I often end up feeling a genuine sense of shame that I chose to take part and more importantly chose to enable.

There was a day during my chemotherapy that served as perhaps the best reminder. I was sitting quietly in the waiting room before the start of my treatments when the nurse came in to get the gentleman sitting next to me. This guy was in obvious pain, poor health and was well advanced in age.
The nurse asked, “How are you today?” Without missing a beat he replied, “Wonderful! My eyes opened this morning and the Lord has blessed me with another day.” His little comment turned me around for that day.
How great it would be if we could all see our lives this way? What if we could just jump out of bed every morning praising God for the new opportunity to honor Him through our actions and our thoughts? What if we could just move forward with positive passion through every challenge? How different life be as a result of a change as simple as how we look at the world.

These questions have challenged me today and forced me to look deep into my heart. I hope the same for you. I am praying today that we can and some small way be sick on attitude together. Who knows, you just might start an epidemic.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The mountains are calling


The mountains are calling…..

And I must go


I love this video from The North Face. Indeed there is something about the mountains and the outdoors that call your soul to return once you have experienced them up front and personal. I am not referencing the mountains seen from a car window or a condo but instead the kind that can only be experienced from a backwoods trail.
Hiking summer of 2012
Close my eyes and I can quickly return to a star filled night during the summer of 2012 sitting in a New Mexico mountain meadow in complete silence surrounded by nothing but nature. No machines, no electronics and even no animals. Simply silence.

It turns out you can have some pretty good talks with God when there are no distractions in your way and complete evidence of his glory surrounding you. Take such an outing with some youth and you will also be amazed to see the difference hardship, fun and learning while breathing in some clean mountain air will make. It clears the mind and it clears the soul.

Months later you will also find it somehow keeps changing you. You will find yourself longing for that moment to happen again and again and again.

Keep calling mountains.

I will keep coming.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Praying for the future Mrs Copeland

Conner is 16 now and it seems lately I have been thinking more and more about his future. What kind of man will he be? How will he do in college? Will his dream of becoming a petroleum engineer come true? Will he go on to have a big house, nice car and fat bank account?

That stuff is all well and good but the bottom line really is that I just want him to be a Godly man and happy person no matter what path he takes to get there. I also hope that he is blessed to find a great woman to be his wife and partner through life’s journey.
It is kind of surreal to think that his future wife is out there now. This week she will go to class, hang out with friends and I am sure spend a bunch of time texting. She is also daily making choices and developing relationship skills that will impact her and Conner’s future. The teen years are the most formative in determining who we become in the future.
Right now she is learning what it means to be part of a family.  Her parents could be married, they could be divorced, they could be loving or they could be jerks. Either way they are serving as her example.
Right now she is learning what it means to be a friend. Her circle could be supportive, they could be partiers, they could be bookworms, they could be a bunch of duds. Either way these are the friends that will have the greatest long term influence on her.
Right now she is learning what it means to be a girlfriend. Chances are she has boyfriend, has had a boyfriend or wants a boyfriend. Either way she most likely has in her heart an image of what it means to be in love and how the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship works.
This future Mrs. Copeland is unknown to me by name but God in his providence has already destined her to find Conner someday.

It is for this reason that I have begun to add Conner’s future wife to my prayers. Not every day by any means but quite regularly I pray for her as if she is already part of the family. I pray for her success, her health, her choices, her relationships and her love for God.
At home, I am also always cognitive that my life is the example for Conner as to how he will treat his Mrs. Copeland someday. Michelle and I are his example much more by what we do as opposed to what we say.
It is important as parents that we realize every day that we are the model that will be followed.
Do you want your child to grow into a happy and God centered marriage? Give them the best chance by living it yourself.
And while at it, why not go ahead and pray for the unknown to you yet future family member.

I sincerely believe it will make a positive difference.

And to you future Mrs. Copeland

Someday in the future we will talk on your wedding day.  I can't wait to hold your hand, look into your eyes and tell you that we have loved you and prayed for you long before you were even known to us. Even today I know you are amazing.







 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fighting the numbness of frequency


Have you ever fallen into the frequency trap?
So much of life is a simple matter of routine. Same drive to work. Same people surrounding you. Same church on Sunday, Same chicken dinner every Tuesday and on and on and on it goes.

Frequency creates numbness to our surroundings and often to our life. To break free, many people end up seeking a rush hoping to escape and find excitement. This can be positive with goals to learn new skills, go on a special trip, try that food that cannot be pronounced, start that devotional, go for that dream job. Of course there are unhealthy ways to break out that often lead to debt, distress and even divorce.
Getting un-numb productively takes work but most of all takes awareness. It seems too often that we take for granted those things that are frequent. The seemingly mundane can be our best window to happiness if we simply take a moment to realize these are the moments that truly make our lives meaningful. There is no need to go jump out of a plane or run with the bulls. Perhaps instead we need to just add some spice and some thought to the greatness that surrounds us every day.

Imagine how much better that drive with the kid to school could be with some deeper conversation on the way? Imagine the smile on your partner’s face from an unexpected hug? Imagine how much deeper your time with God could be with just a few minutes in prayer to start the day. Heck, even that Tuesday chicken dinner could be better with just a slightly different spice.
For me, I love the frequent as it brings sustaining comfort and opportunities for appreciation of the present. Perhaps your best opportunity is right in front of you too.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Get your but out of my way

Years ago I used to facilitate a course that had a section about attitude. I began the session with a little exercise with the folks in pairs to share a story. The conversation had to be about a plan for the future and for round one no matter what person #1 shared the second person was to respond “yes but!”

“I am really looking forward to the weekend with my family”

Yes but it looks like it is going to rain all weekend so you will not be able to do much.”

“My son is doing great is school right now”

Yes but you know college is going to be super expensive and most likely he will struggle to get a job when/if he graduates.”

The round two response had to be a positive “yes and

“I am really looking forward to the weekend with my family”

Yes and with the rain you could play some really fun board games with great conversations.”

“My son is doing great in school right now”

Yes and that is a terrific indicator of a positive future ahead.”

You kind of get the idea huh? The point of the conversation was to help people identify if they are a “yes but” or a “yes and person”
Sadly yes but tends to be my nature with my internal voice. Thankfully in in part due to this exercise I am always striving for the yes and instead. It really is amazing the difference switching that word can make in your attitude, outlook and life.
Even more sadly is the number of yes but’ers I see around me all the time. These folks are joy killer constantly striving to have everyone sink to their low level of negativity.

I say…..Keep your but out of my way!
What about you? Are you a yes and or a yes but person? How to you keep negative people out of your life?

Don’t let a but get in your way.

Friday, August 30, 2013

On Conner turning 16

As far as birthdays go there are few more memorable than sixteen. It is more than just a number as it represents a new freedom to roam and a giant step to independence thanks to the all-important driver’s license and access to a vehicle.

Conner reached this milestone and began his junior year of high school on the same day last week. That is a pretty good day by any measure.

His excitement level reminded me somewhat sadly of those giddy days of old when a $3 Star Wars toy or a pirate birthday party would bring boundless energy of anticipation. I made a point to be home for that moment when with the new freedom card in hand he drove off alone for the first time.
Certainly a big part of his childhood was left behind in the driveway as he cruised away music cranked and smile wide. Meanwhile back at home his mother and I shared a hug as we too acknowledged that our lives had at the same time had just changed into a new stage of parenting and of being with each other.

Just less than two years from now we will stand in that same driveway again as he leaves to begin his journey to college. I know it will go by incredibly fast and we can only pray that our parental investments and sacrifices will come back to pay dividends into the future of this great young man we are proud to know as our son.
Drive on Conner. (oh and drive slow with no texting) :   )

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Welcome back to me

It is hard to believe it has been almost nine months since my last blog post here. I seem to be suffering from a lack of inspiration as a result of extreme work and life busyness. January has somehow suddenly rolled into August and we are just days away from our son turning 16 and starting the first day of his junior year of high school.

I started this year with grand ambitions of goals to be met and instead found myself faced with many obstacles that I have yet to determine an effective strategy to overcome. Basically, it became a year that had to be dedicated to work success at a high intensity level requiring hours of extra time. I am thankfully succeeding in this area.

Looking back, I do not regret the choices I have made. Looking forward I know that it is time to return to balance and regain control of things through effectively managing priorities.

That is my commitment. That is my choice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

S.T.O.P


In my role as a Scout volunteer, I recently had chance to learn a little about techniques to use in a crises situation as part of the Wilderness Survival merit badge. There was something about the STOP model in the training that struck me as valuable for my personal life as well.

The point of the discussion was that often when people get lost there is panic which in turn ends up making the situation worse. There are many examples of people that in crises decided to blaze a way out of danger situations by panicking and running through the woods. These folks soon find themselves in even more despair, lost and alone.

I realize now that I often make this same error as a parent, husband and manager. Like many others, I see a problem and I want to immediately jump to a solution. Men are notorious about solution jumping when our wives bring a problem.

How different might the outcome be however if I simply followed this model instead.

Sit=Find some time alone in a quiet place to…

Think=What really is the issue here? Sometimes the mind can race so quickly with a fight or flight response that we need to consciously slow things down so that we can….

Observe=Many of the problems we face are simply situational and temporary. They could also be indicators of something deeper that needs to be examined.

This might be a good time to break out a pen and paper (yes they do still make these) and write down what you are feeling about problem. Have you felt this way before? What has worked in the past? How have others handled a similar problem? It is highly unlikely that you will experience any issues in life that someone else has not experienced and found a way to overcome.

Plan=Now finally with all of your facts straight and your situation assessed it is time to map out a plan for survival.

Next time you are in crises just STOP and perhaps you will find a better result!