mental check list

I have no scientific background.

The body, specifically the brain, does things I just don’t understand.

I also have no idea if I’m alone this story I’m about to tell.

I had decided to do something. I talked on Monday about how I was going to purpose myself to do things. I was going to be intentionally generous once a day (going ok so far, not great but ok). At the start of the day I had been thinking about opportunities that may have been presented to me to be generous.

A friend of mine just recently experienced a loss in her family. I’m by no means an expert in loss but it’s also not something I’m not familiar with.

I had thought through what would be meaningful and helpful during this time and came up with a plan.

And here I sit with a good plan.

I started the day with a desire/urge/compulsion to be generous but all of that was taken away by a plan not an action.

I haven’t been generous the way I intended but still my brain no long has the desire/urge/need/etc to do it.

Does this ever happen to you? All the best intentions as they say.

I was excited and motivated to act, made plan to act, then did nothing more. And it was different than when I purposeful procrastinate to try to not do something. I still feel the pull, I still feel the need, I know that I’m avoiding action.

This was almost as if by making a plan my mind felt it was done. No conviction for not having done anything. Nothing. Just me feeling like I’m becoming a better person having literally done nothing.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been pondering that I may not be as different from everyone else as I tell myself I am.

Purpose and intent are so important. Plans matter. But it’s all for not without the action. I’m going to spend some time reflecting on all the great plans I had that I never followed through on. I’m going to ponder why I didn’t and I’m going to take steps to finish in action what my mind has already checked off.

try again

I’m distracted.

I’ve got sooooo much going on. It’s the busy time at work, I move to a new home on Saturday, our new home is getting work done, I have a new baby coming in July-August, and so on and so on.

I’m distracted.

And to be honest I’m slipping back into old Phil. The less other centred, less generous, generally less of the man God has called me to be.

It was subtle and slow but reflecting back I think distinct.

At the onset of this space I talked about the need to be purposeful. I talked about how things won’t just happen and often we need to commit ourselves to doing something. We need to pick a concrete task and do it or it may never happen. We will talk and think about all the changes and love we want to give but it just doesn’t happen.

But today is a new day. Every day is a new day. A chance to commit, chance to change, a chance to love unconditionally, a chance to give without strings, a chance to open up your life and help someone else find safety and love and grace and acceptance.

Today I commit to being generous once a day again. In some way every day I plan to be generous.

I’m also writing grace on the back of my hand. I’m hoping it will remind me to choose grace in every situation.

What are you doing today to make sure you don’t slip back into old you?

the beginning

the beginning – March 4, 2011

I really like sports.

I know of lot of people like them but I really enjoy watching sports.

To be honest I think it’s all my dads doing.

See when I was younger my parents, like good parents do, made me go to bed at a reasonable hour. I needed my sleep and they made sure I got it.

Like almost every young child I wanted nothing more than to stay up later and later. I wanted to know what adults do and what it was like to be up past 9.

I can remember so clearly the day dad came to me and said ‘Philip would you like to stay up and watch football with your brother and I tonight?’

It was the beginning of something I think my wife wishes my dad never passed on. That night was my first encounter with Monday Night Football. I was hooked. And now it is about the game and about the sport but it didn’t start that way. It was about dad and being with dad and sharing something that to me was special and different. One night a week I could stay up and do something different with my dad.

As time passed I got older and dad became ill. He lost of lot of interest in sports. He didn’t watch much anymore. The speed and the motion would often make him feel ill.

But for me he would.

When I was home he would call to our basement and say ‘Philip what are you doing?’ and I’d say ‘Watching baseball/basketball/football, why?’

‘Do you want to watch it with me?’

And there it was, a time for just my dad and me. I was to young to realize how special it really was. I just thought it was neat that dad would watch something that he had lost interest in years ago for me. That he would give up his documentaries and just listen to me babel about stats and players and all kinds of things that really meant nothing to him.

But it meant something to me.

I meant something to him.

It wasn’t about the sport or the score for dad it was about me. I wish I had seen it sooner but I was young and I didn’t get it. If I had I would have cherished those times a lot more.

So what does it all mean other than I had a dad who loved me?

It means some times you’ll have to do things you don’t want to do. You’ll have to care about something that in the end you don’t really care about. It means that one day I may have to sit and watch figure skating with a daughter (I don’t have any kids of my own yet) even though I find it terrible.

Because I love them.

Sometimes love means doing things we don’t want to do. Sometimes love means being apart of things we find boring or silly.

What it means is maybe you need to put aside the things you care about and just love someone who needs it. Maybe you need to give up your time to love someone who has never been loved or it has been so long they forget what it’s like.

My dad loved me like a father should but he taught me that love is more action than word.

So love someone today.

Invest time in them by caring about what they care about even if it couldn’t matter less to you because they couldn’t matter more.

blueberry bagels

blueberry bagels – March 3, 2011

My dad was a creature of habit. He had a way that he did things.

Once he had his way it was that way for a long long time.

I can remember as a little boy dad took a nap after work, everyday. He would come home around 5 and take a nap for half an hour. As he got sick he continued this habit. It was just what he did.

He also had funny habits about food. Once he got on to something it was the same thing for months. He went on a cream of wheat kick for breakfast. He ate it every morning and loved it every morning. Then out of no where one morning he would change and say ‘I think I want a bagel’ and that was it, cream of wheat was done.

I used to meet with my dad every Thursday morning for coffee, as I’ve mentioned before. I’d call and ask what he wants and it was the same thing every Thursday. A blueberry bagel with cream cheese and a medium double double.

What I learned from all of this was less about food and more about consistency. My dad made the time for me. He knew that the time we spent together was important and he made time for me. He gave up time and would have to work later or longer to make up the hour we sat and talked. But he knew.

It was that consistency that made me realize just how important I was to him. He made me one of his habits and it didn’t change. I mattered too much to be changing and bumping me for other things. My dad taught me we make time for the things that matter and I mattered. And he taught me that by being consistent.

He taught me that by making time.

We want to have meaningful relationships. We want to give in a way that matters. Being consistent matters. Words matter but, word after word with no action start to matter less and less.

If I tell my wife I love her every day but never show it what do those words mean?

If we want to be people who give and people who are known for it then we need to make it a priority. We need to give consistently not just when it’s easy or convenient. We need to make it a habit.

I know my dad in a way I never would have if he hadn’t made giving me time to meet with him a priority and been consistent in his actions.

Give, but do it often. May it not be a fad for you but may it be a consistent part of who you are.

because everyone’s watching

because everyone’s watching – March 2, 2011

I feel like this has been a heavy space.

I suppose sharing stories of my father who has passed away may do that.

Today I hope it will be a brighter space. A little lighter but still motivating.

Today I offer to you a simple give. A give so simple that there is no excuse for any of us to not do it but I assure you that is means a lot.

Today I encourage you to smile.

See wasn’t that hard at all.

My dad had an infectious smile. Really his whole personality was infectious.

He could fill a room with his smile. And if that didn’t do it his laugh did.

The more and more I think about it the more and more I feel that dads laugh was one of the things that made home feel like home.

Dad was the life of our family gatherings and his laugh and his smile are what did it.

He took this brightness everywhere he went.

A hospital room never felt so alive and positive as when dad was there, smiling and laughing.

For something so simple it’s something that will always be with me. Just a smile. A positive, warm, kind face that so gently said ‘and how may I love you today?’

It’s so easy, but if you ask anyone who knew him I’m sure they’d say the same thing.

Wouldn’t that be how you’d want people to see you? A person with so much love to give and such care for people that you literally can’t hold it in and it pours out of you?

Smile, be that person. Share love and joy and grace without even saying a word.

Smile, because everyone’s watching.

both ways

Both Ways – March 1, 2011

My dad was a private person

I once again understand how odd it is for me to say my dad, the preacher who stood in front of hundreds of people every week and shared from his life, was a private person but he was. It’s kind of the same as me not really being an open person.

But I write here and he spoke there.

I learned the most from my dad during our Thursday coffees so there’s a good chance most of the stories this week will start there.

And while we were sitting, talking, laughing and drinking coffee my private dad would open up. He would talk about life and his struggles. He would talk about how his life fit or at times didn’t fit with his understanding of God and what that meant. He would ask me ‘Philip (he always called me Philip never Phil and to this day I still don’t know why Phil bothered him so much) why me?”

I didn’t know. To be honest no one knows they why bad thing happen to good people. But we talked about it. We struggled and we talked.

Sure there are great theological reasons and there are great rational but in the end when your sitting there in real life does it make it easier? I would argue not. But what I think does is doing life with people.

My dad taught me to get past myself, my fears and my insecurity to do life with people. To open up and be vulnerable.

So the obvious question here is what does this have to do with giving?

If you want to love people and give to people you need to do life with them. But part of doing life with people is that it must go both ways. We need to be available and open to receive giving from other people just as we want to pour into them. This is about being open and in doing that giving other people the chance to pour into you, to do life with you and to be there for you like the way you intend to be there for them.

How can we expect people to allow us to give to them when we ourselves are to closed or too scared to open up and allow someone to bless us? If your not open and honest about who you are and where you are at then there will be something missing in all the giving you do. There will be something missing in the stories and experiences you share. The lack of true and honest relationship will take away from your giving.

Giving is about others, it’s about being other centered. But for me, my dad taught me that I need to be just as open and just a willing to be blessed as those I hope to bless.

coffee thursdays

3 years ago today my dad died.

I still miss him very much. I plan to spend the day with family and remember what made him so special.

A few years back while I was writing another blog I spent a week sharing stories about my dad and what he had taught me. I thought you should hear them. So every day this week I’ll be re-posting the posts from a few years ago. They give you a real sense of where I come from and why I am how I am now. It’s very much because of my dad.

So I invite you to get to know my dad this week. I think you’ll find him as amazing as I do.

Coffee Thursday – February 28th 2011

My dad is gone.

It may sound blunt but in the end that’s how it is for me. I go to my parents home and I find my mom and my younger brother and I sit in the chair that once was my dads.

My dad and I had coffee almost every Thursday morning. I worked late on Thursdays so I’d meet him for coffee in his office and he taught me about life. He taught me about respect and love, about God, about hope and fear. There were two things that he taught me however that really made him such an outstanding man.

And I’ll be clear my dad was amazing.

The two things he taught me about were grace and generosity.

So for this week I’m going to remember my dad and the wonderful legacy he left me as I recount the stories and the experiences I had with him. Today is about grace and generosity

My dad had terminal cancer. Before terminal cancer dad was a cancer survivor, physical changed but a survivor. Before he was a cancer survivor he battled plain old normal life changing cancer. And before all of that I was 11. I knew my dad sick longer that I knew my dad well.

Dad had chronic pain at the level that when doctors asked if he wanted morphine he’d laugh because it would do nothing to help how he felt. But here is where I become proud and here is the part where knowing my dad made me a better person, and I hope moves you.

While my dad was sick people would come to him and encourage him. They would say such up lifting things as ‘you know I know what your going through I have bad migraines’ or ‘I know what it’s like I have arthritis.’

He would smile and look them in the eye and say ‘that’s terrible. How are you copping with it? Is there anything I can do to help’ and he would mean every word. In the moment where he has every right to be angry or rude and scream ‘do you know how far away that is from what I’m dealing?!’ he would join them in their pain. He would be gracious and loving and instead of belittling their attempts to show him love and to connect he would comfort them.

I hope to be like that one day. That when I’m openly struggling and my friend or colleague just doesn’t know what to say I’m gracious with them. When I go to a friend for help and support and in the end find we spend the night talking about them I’m loving and caring.

I learned from my dad that the situation does not dictate my actions but I do. I’m choosing to be a person who gives whenever I can and to show grace to those who at times don’t do what I want or need from them. Look past their words to their heart and their intentions. To look past myself and see their needs and hurt not just my own.

It’s not easy and they often may not deserve it but what is grace if not undeserved.

water for the soul

I don’t drink enough water.

Not in the I only have 4 not 8 glasses of water kind of way but in the I haven’t had a glass of water since Tuesday kind of way (today is Friday).

I drink a lot of coffee so I guess that makes up for it, right?

Whenever I tell someone they think I’m lying.

Quick tangent, has there ever been something more ridiculous to lie or exaggerate? Wow look how cool, I’m in a constant state of dehydration. Why don’t people believe me?

But it’s just something I do. I have been told a ridiculous number of times that I need to drink more water. It’s not healthy for you, your body needs more water, stop complaining about your headaches, etc.

So you know what I do.


I change nothing.

I am entire and completely aware that I’m making a bad choice but I make it every day. I just keep making it over and over despite knowing it’s a bad choice. I was designed to intake more water. I will function better with more water. I will be closer to how I was intended to be when I drink more water.

You see where this goes.

We know how we should live but we just don’t. Some of us don’t even deny that we know better, like me who knows I need to drink more water. But we just don’t change. We just keep fighting ourselves, fighting our purpose, fighting how we were meant to be.

If you’ve been reading anything I write you know what to do. There are loads of ideas here, but it’s ultimately a choice.

Today I’ve had 3 glasses of water, more than in the 5 days before today combined. We can change if we honestly want to.

Do we chose to keep hurting ourselves or do we chose to be what we’re supposed to be?

a little less me

I talk a lot.

I probably talk too much.

I got the pleasure of hearing my mother speak this Sunday and she included in the quote below from Mother Teresa. It’s far more eloquent and poignant about a life of compassion than I could ever be, so I’ll stop talking.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

-Mother Teresa


do you need a new religion?

I like to be right.

Like may not be a strong enough word here but that’s an issue for another day.

Never the less I like to be right. But being right isn’t necessarily enough. I don’t just want to be right in the sense that if there is a right or a wrong I picked correctly. No I want the person I’m speaking with to affirm that I’m right.

To a certain extent me being right doesn’t matter if the person I’m speaking with doesn’t agree.

Now I’ve come a long way on this. I still like to be right but in my younger years I can only imagine how difficult I must have been.

I think we all want to be right, but our rightness can cause real relational issues.

I’m reminded of my younger self. Everyone knew I liked to argue and I liked to be right. So what happened? No one wanted to talk to me about anything that mattered. Why? Because I had the right opinion on EVERTYHING. My need to be right didn’t allow me to form real, deep relationships the way it should.

Even now I often start with “in a not too surprising turn of events I have a thought on that…”

But my desire to be right damage and held back my ability to be loving. It didn’t allow me to be relational and it defiantly had no room for grace.

I’d be gracious after you told me I was right. I’d understand how you could have come to such a silly idea.

So gracious.

I ask a lot more questions now than I did. I try to get an understanding about what others think and why before I share my thoughts. I try, as best as I can (which isn’t that good), to be the other.

By that I mean I try to understand why some one sees the world the way they do. Why that person acts how they do. Put myself in their shoes etc.

I worry less about if I’m right and more about how I share love with someone who sees the world the way they do.

I suppose the need to be right is a great way to let religion ruin your ability to share God. It’s ironic in the end but if you need to be right more than you need to share love which is God you may need a new religion.