Category: Inspirational/Motivational


Return From the Amazon

I’m back from my mission trip to the Amazon jungle! What an amazing experience it was. I can’t wait to share all about it in my next blog post, something I’m working on right now. In the meantime, enjoy this re-post of a previous blog on how passion projects can have a greater purpose. It’s written to encourage you to begin working on your own passion project. The one that keeps coming up in your mind. The one you’ve either been procrastinating on or praying over (or both!). Enjoy, and see you next week!

It’s Time to Launch Your Passion Project

At the start of 2017, I challenged my readers to begin a passion project. I encouraged them to take the ideas they’ve had burning inside them for some time now, and start implementing them. The new year was a good time to add their passion project to their goals for 2017. I planned to join them with my own passion project, a 30-day devotional that combines three of my passions:  faith, writing, and stand up paddling.

How My Passion Project Began

My own passion project began much like the way the passion project process is described in Niklas Goeke’s article “How to Start a Passion Project One Day At a Time.” It started out simply as something I thought would be fun. I’d been enjoying a newly-discovered passion, stand up paddling, and was noticing several parallels between paddling and Biblical principles.

I thought it would be fun to record some of those spiritual epiphanies in writing, specifically on a personal blog. I set up the blog, named it “Spiritual Understanding & Prayer (SUP) on a SUP,” and began writing. However, I didn’t really promote the blog since I was just doing it for myself. Only a few friends knew about it and followed it.

A Greater Purpose

Fast forward two years. My publisher asked me for a 2nd book, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about. Originally I was thinking perhaps a follow-up to my first book Advance Your passion projectImage.

But God had a greater purpose in mind. Instead, I started thinking about a compilation of my personal blog posts on spirituality and stand up paddling. My publisher liked the idea and suggested putting it in the format of a daily devotional.

By the end of 2016 I was weeding through all my posts of my paddling adventures to choose just the right ones for my next book. I started reformatting and editing them around the same time I’d challenged my readers to pursue their own passion projects.

That’s when it dawned on me I could use my passion project for a bigger purpose. I could use the profits from book sales to help fund my very first mission trip I’m taking in July. This idea was a perfect fit since my paddling excursions mainly occur on rivers and my mission trip will take place along Brazil’s Amazon River.

Obstacles are Inevitable

Of course, when working on such a project, there are times when obstacles will occur. It’s just inevitable. For me, it was an unexpected surgery in late January and an extended recovery due to complications from the surgery. I couldn’t work on my passion project (or any projects for that matter) for over a month.

Luckily I’d submitted most of my manuscript prior to my surgery. But this set-back was still going to cause a delay in the release of the book. I did my best to not let this get me down. I picked up where I left off on my project as soon as I was able.

There’s also another hiccup in this story. Originally, my mission trip was to occur in early March. But since there weren’t enough participants from my church, I got moved to a trip with participants from another church who are going in July. I found this out several months before I knew I’d have to have surgery.

If the March timetable had worked out for my church, I wouldn’t have been able to go because I was still recovering from my surgery at that time. I’d already raised about half of the funds for the trip, so I would’ve been really disappointed.

God’s Timing Is Perfect

Despite having to have a 2nd surgery in late April, I’m now doing much better physically. In fact I’m back on the water just in time for the beginning of paddle season.

Most importantly though, my book is now available! God’s timing is always perfect! I’m so excited about how He plans to use the book for His Glory and the impact it will have. Not only on its readers, but also on those benefiting from the profits – the people in the tiny communities and congregations situated along the banks of the Amazon River.

Spiritual Understanding & Prayer on a Stand Up Paddleboard is a reminder to not just listen to God when you’re reading your Bible and praying, but also when you’re working and playing. This is true no matter what your own hobbies are, what kind of work you do, or what your personal passion projects are.

I’m so honored and grateful that champion SUP racer and pro surfer Candice Appleby penned the foreword to the book. She is a sister in Christ who openly shares her faith in the professional SUP community. She continually points her achievements in SUP and surfing back to God, always giving Him the glory.

How You Can Make an Impact

There are several ways you can also make an impact. First, by starting your own passion project and seeing where it leads. Follow Goeke’s suggestions in the article linked above and you’ll have the confidence to bring it to fruition and accomplish what God wants to do through you.

Second, you can contribute to my passion project by purchasing a copy of Spiritual Understanding & Prayer (SUP) on a Stand Up Paddleboard for only $12. One hundred percent of the profits go toward travel expenses and supplies for the mission trip to the Amazon. Go to http://bit.ly/SUPdevotional to purchase a copy.

Thank you in advance for your support of this passion project. Your purchase creates a ripple effect in God’s Kingdom like a single drop of water does in the vast Amazon River!

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Sunday Inspiration: How to Know the Next Step in God’s Vision For You

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“Write the vision and make it plain…that he may run who reads it.” Hab 2:2 NKJV

When God gives you a vision for your life, write it down, keep it before you at all times, and run with it. You say, “But I see no way for it to come to pass.” The Bible says, “The vision is yet for an appointed time…wait for it; because it will surely come” (v. 3 NKJV).

You may not know how to get from where you are right now to where the vision will ultimately take you—but God does. So ask Him to reveal the next step to you. Whether you’re in prison like Joseph, in a soup kitchen in the inner city, or at home taking care of small children, God will fulfill the vision He placed in your heart.

The more you see yourself leading in the boardroom, launching your own business, serving in ministry, writing your first book, or helping others through your gifts, the sooner it will become a reality. Before a vision becomes clear, God gives us glimpses of it—like a picture developing from a soft hue into sharp resolution.

So take your vision and run with it. Let it motivate you to perform to the best of your ability in your present position, while staying in communication with the One who knows and loves you best. Today pray: “Lord, I know that where I am right now, isn’t where You’re taking me. Give me glimpses of Your vision for my future, so that my understanding may grow in accordance with Your timing. Give me patience along the way, and faith to trust that You’re always working for my good. Amen.”

Source: https://www.jentezenfranklin.org/posts/has-god-given-you-a-vision-2

Sunday Inspiration: Be Teachable

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“The Lord…will show us where to go and what to do.”

Jeremiah 42:3 NLT

Twelve bees were placed in a jar in a darkened room. A light was beamed onto the bottom of the jar, and then the lid removed. Instinctively, the bees flew toward the light and couldn’t escape. So they died trying to buzz their way through the bottom of the jar.

Next the researchers took twelve common houseflies and repeated the experiment. Within seconds the flies had found their way out of the jar. Now, bees are more intelligent than flies and their survival instincts are better. Yet it was those very instincts that doomed the bees.

There’s a lesson here. You may be very intelligent, yet your preconceived notions can doom you to failure in life. Assumptions, rigidity and force of habit can cause you to keep doing things that don’t work and make no sense.

Dr. James Dobson says: ‘Until 1992 I wrote books with pencils and yellow pads. I did that for years after word processors were available. The twentieth century was almost over before I decided to join it.’

Are you afraid to abandon an old belief system, or learn a new skill or tackle a new project? When you’re finished learning, you’re finished! The only real limitations are those we place on ourselves by refusing to learn.

‘Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning’ (Proverbs 9:9 NKJV). ‘The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge’ (Proverbs 18:15 NKJV).

Don’t let your fears and preconceived ideas keep you from growing; be teachable.

Source:  http://www.rhema.co.nz/the-word-for-today/item/8546-be-teachable

It’s Not Too Late! How to Salvage the Last Half of 2017

In a few days we’ll begin the last half of 2017. Can you believe we’re already halfway through the year?!

For me, 2017 has already been filled with ups and downs, as I’m sure it has also been for you. The mid-point of the year is always a good time to:

  • Review the goals you set at the beginning of the year.
  • See which ones you accomplished.
  • Re-commit to the ones you have yet to accomplish.

My Passion Planner has an entire section devoted to doing just that between its June and July pages. (I really love having a paper calendar again!)

There may have been some bumps in the road since January to cause you to get behind on your goals. But, there’s still some time to re-focus and catch up.

5 Steps to Salvaging the Last Half of 2017

  1. Think back to what your goals were at the beginning of the year. Did they include discovering new passions? Making more money? Starting or completing a special project? Finding a new job or new career?
  2. Find your notes where you put these goals down in writing. If you didn’t write them down, then DO SO NOW! Did you know, people who write down their goals are 50% more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t?
  3. Start breaking your goals down into smaller goals. See if you can set a deadline of December 31st, 2017 to some, if not all, of these smaller goals.
  4. Begin working on your smaller goals TODAY. By doing so, you should be able to accomplish at least part of the bigger goals by December 31st as well.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up if this deadline doesn’t seem realistic for each goal. Right now, just focus on what you can accomplish by the end of the next six months. Once you have, you’ll gain more momentum and more motivation going into 2018.

Resources to Assist You in the Last Half of 2017

A dismal first half of the year doesn’t have to destroy your hopes for an improved you.

One quick way to get back on track is to utilize the on-demand resources offered by paNASH. These videos focus on topics related to improving your work and your life. They’re broken down into smaller video segments, making them quick and easy to access anytime online. They come with handouts to guide you through every step of your goal, whether it includes:

  • Pursuing your passions.
  • Making more money.
  • Improving your job search skills.
  • Developing your authentic brand.
  • Or even just properly setting goals.

Summer is a great time to catch up on your 2017 goals! To help you, I’m offering 15% off all paNASH on-demand programs. Use the discount code SUMMER at checkout. This offer is good beginning July 9th and lasts until July 16th. So maybe one of your first goals for the rest of this year is to take advantage of this offer on a resource that will kick your last half of 2017 into high gear!

Sunday Inspiration: The Encouragement of Solitude

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a Sunday devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. This edition of “Sunday Inspiration” is an excerpt from my newly-released book, a 30-day devotional entitled Spiritual Understanding & Prayer on a SUP (Hilliard Press). The book is available online through Hilliard Press and on Amazon (profits go to support my mission trip to Brazil with Justice & Mercy Amazon).

Day 23:  The Encouragement of Solitude

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. (Luke 5:16 NASB)

One of my spiritual gifts is the gift of encouragement. In every type of professional work I’ve done, I’ve been able to use my gift to serve my clients and my students. Likewise, in certain friendships and relationships, I’ve had the opportunity to give comfort and confidence to others in times of sorrow and anxiety, and have also had it reciprocated. To get to operate in my spiritual gift is an encouragement to me.

I remember listening to a podcast series by a well-respected pastor on the topic of encouragement. He said that people are in more need of reassurance and relief today than ever in the history of the world. He described different ways we can be an encouragement to others, and how we can be an encouragement to ourselves when we need it most. The pastor said one way we can reassure and restore ourselves is through solitude.

Solitude may be something some people are uncomfortable with, but I’ve learned to relish it, even when I don’t feel like being alone. Here’s what the pastor had to say about solitude:

God used certain people in a mighty way, but before He could, He had to teach them to be alone, teach them what isolation was all about. There is ministry in solitude and if we don’t learn how to cultivate that, we will have a very difficult time encouraging ourselves in the Lord. To be quiet so you can talk to God and so God can talk to you. King David understood the importance of getting alone, and so did Jesus. If a man considers his time to be so valuable that he cannot find time to keep quiet and to be alone, that man will eventually be of no value to anyone. To spend all of one’s time with people is soon to have nothing to give any of them of any value. ~Dr. David Jeremiah

For me, there are a few things I do in solitude that serve as a big encouragement for me. First and foremost, it’s reading the Word at the start of each day and recording in my journal what I think God is saying to me through His Word, as if He were talking directly to me. (Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 NIV) When I later go back and read what I’ve recorded, it’s often what I needed to be reminded of at exactly that point in time, or it’s to confirm that He did what He promised He would do.

The sounds of nature are also an encouragement to me. Being alone outside, especially paddling on the water, is soothing for me. God’s Word reminds me of the hope I have in Him, while being on the water makes me forget my sorrows and anxieties, at least for those few hours. The rhythm of the paddle strokes, coupled with the sounds of the water and the birds, make everything just melt away for me.

I love paddling on my own when I’m feeling discouraged (which was how I was feeling the day I wrote this). But I also enjoy paddling with a friend or a group who can also serve as an encouragement. I hope whoever is reading this is finding encouragement from the words God has put on my heart to share.

What are your own spiritual gifts (take the spiritual gifts test)? How are you using them, and are you getting encouragement from using them in various areas of your life? Spend some time in solitude to reflect on how you can better fulfill your purpose.

Side Note

Just last weekend I took a retreat on my own that required complete silence and solitude. It was a reminder of just how true the words of this post are. I encourage you to find time, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day, to get alone and be with yourself and with God. You’ll return to your daily routine refreshed and renewed.

Purchase the entire 30-day devotional

If you enjoyed this excerpt, I invite you to purchase the entire book. If you’re local to Nashville, you’re also invited to my book signing on June 24th, 11am to 1pm, at Paddle Up (525 Basswood Ave., Nashville, TN 37209) for popsicles, paddles, and paperbacks!

SUP

Books are $12 and the event includes a signed copy of my book, 15% off one paddle board rental the day of or any time during the 2017 season (courtesy of Paddle Up), and free Padrino’s Pops popsicles to the first 10 people!

If you can’t make it to the book signing, you can also purchase a copy online. Profits support Justice and Mercy International’s Amazon mission trips.

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