Tag Archives: Strength

4 Years in the Whirlwind

I have not taken the time to write as much as I would like these last few months.  A few blog posts here and there, but as often happens to us, life and priorities get in the way.  This morning, however, I felt compelled to make sure I wrote something new.  I’ve mentioned this some in my writing and its definitely something that has taken precedence in my book.  4 years ago today, on October, 13, 2009, my entire family and I were tossed into what I call, the whirlwind.  On that day, we lost my Dad after a terrible rush hour accident that claimed his life and two of his co-workers, with injuries to six more of his co-workers.  It was a day we never imagined would happen and dealing with that tragedy was something we never thought we would have to deal with.  We were forced to come to terms with a lot from dealing with our own struggles of faith in why this happened, to dealing with the person that set this event rolling by an act of stupidity.  It was an emotional roller coaster that still plays out to this day.

In dealing with this tragedy, I have had to come to terms with a lot in my own life.  First, the loss of my Dad in such a tragic way, profoundly scarred me and sent me into a dark shadow for many, many months.  I tried to find my way through my faith, but honestly, it was not strong enough yet.  For some time, I did not think a thing else in life mattered.  If something like this could happen to someone like my Dad, who was a wonderful man of God, and an awesome Father, what was the point of things.  I was not angry at God, but I just did not know what to make of it all.

After the first year or so, I began to refocus my life and worked to really make sense of all of the emotions I’ve had to deal with.  I have a wife and children that depend on me and I knew that I could not spend my life dealing like that.  I began to read more books related to faith and then finally found my way to the Word of God.  I made it a point to read every single day.  I knew that through God’s word I could find the answers I was looking for in life and a way to make sense of all of of the emotions I dealt with from this tragedy.

Through this journey, I have learned the power that forgiveness has.  I’ve learned that despite the anger I have for the one that set this whirlwind in motion, I knew that forgiving was one of the only ways to release that anger.  It freed me from the burden of constantly worrying about this guy and was a huge step to move forward.  From there, I learned to simply surrender to God’s will.  To let him take control of my life and understand that He is in control and has a purpose for everything we deal with in life.

So what of this purpose?  What does it all mean?  Truth be told, my brother, Rob, said it best at my Dad’s funeral when he said that we may never know all of the answers until we go to meet God face-to-face.  I do however think there is a reason that has been revealed now.  We often hear the question of why God allows these terrible things to happen.  The purpose of it all is quite simple actually.  These tragedies are are allowed as they bring us back to God.  Often times people stray away.  I’m know exception, but through tragedy, many times people find there way back to God as they search for their own answers.  This was no exception.  I sometimes think that God looked at Dad, knowing he already had a devoted son, and this was a way to grab the attention of the rest of us.

We all deal with tragedies in different ways.  The bottom-line however is that through any tragedy in life, if we surrender and turn to God and find redemption through Christ, there is nothing we cannot overcome.  Nothing is impossible through Him.  Let Him take control.  We will always go through all of the pain and emotions that come with any tragedy, but know that God loves you through all of that.  He is there with you and waiting for you to turn to Him and I promise you, that you will find the healing and the power you need.  He is so Awesome!  If I did not have Him to turn to, I don’t know were I would be now, 4 years later.  I certainly would not be here writing this.  His love and His healing is so real, if you choose to seek it out, surrender, and let Him take hold of your life.

Thank you for reading.  I am closing today with this little prayer that you can say just help on your own journey.  God Bless you all!

Father, thank you who you are and for continuing to love us everyday.  Help us to love you and love each other more and more each day through all of the events of life. Thank you for the redemption we have through your son Jesus Christ.  Guide us each day as we learn to seek you more and let you take hold of our lives.  In Christ’s name – Amen

Dad and me Christmas 2008

Turning What You Love Doing Into More

The past couple of weeks have been something incredible to watch.  My beautiful wife, Amber, started up her new venture called Amber Clinton Photography.  I wrote about it some last week.  In just the two weeks since she decided to make this move from a hobby to a business, the response has been phenomenal.  Inquiries from all over and her first official photo session this past weekend.  Amber is quite an amazing woman.  She has sacrificed to be at home and raise our three wonderful children.  She has an amazing heart and when it comes to photography, she has some serious skills.  I could go on and on.  I am so thrilled that she has decided to take advantage of this natural ability and work to do something incredible with it.  This story with Amber will continue to evolve over time and I look forward to what she will be able to do in the future as she grows this business and her knowledge and experience to add onto her already talented artistic eye.

How about any of you out there.  Is there something that you love to do, maybe as just a hobby or something?  Have you ever thought about maybe taking that hobby and doing something more.  Maybe you’ve thought about it, but either just out of fear, naysayers, or time passing by you just never capitalized and tried it out.  If you look back in my blogs, I’ve written about those naysayers and fears.

While choosing to move down uncharted territory to something new can be scary and there is never a reason for you to not try.  There is nothing ever easy about it.   What keeps you from taking advantage of those opportunities and trying something different?  Why let anything keep you from pursuing what it is is you love to do.  If it something that calls to you, then God is likely calling you to it.  Why ignore it?  I have a sign hanging in the foyer of my house that reads, “The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God not protect you.”  If you are letting fear or something else keep you from pursuing your real calling, take heart in knowing that God is there to guide you through it all.

Richard Bach is quoted as saying “You are always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.”  Why not take advantage of that freedom that we all have and build something more. Build something that you define and nobody else. It is a part of realizing your God given purpose.  It does not matter if you are in a career that you have in for years and years or if it has been your education track.  If something else calls you that really speaks to you, then go for it.  It will open your perspective on life and will help you to further come alive and get away from where everyone else thinks you should be you be.  Don’t let other define that for you.

Conquering Fears That Tell You No

We all have fears in life, don’t we.  There are those things that we encounter that tell us that we cannot do something.  What fears have you encountered?  It could be anything from riding a roller-coaster, flying in a plane, fear of new opportunities, fear of failure, and even, yes, fear of success.  Fear is something that is so stifling, that it can keep you from perusing your dreams and goals and force you down paths that are completely contradictory to anything that you would otherwise do.  Fear can keep you stuck in a job that makes you flat out miserable.  I know many that have been there.  Either they become too secure in their job and its benefits or they just don’t want to risk going on to something new for fear of the unknown.  This fear can suck the spirit out of you and keep you from ever coming alive.

Dr. Charles Stanley had a great quote about fear.  He said, “Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.”  Does this sound like you or anyone you know?  The fear can come from a number of areas.  It can be your own psychological fears of moving forward or it could those naysayers that constantly want to tell you that you can’t do this or you shouldn’t do that.  Either way, as Dr. Stanley said, fear stifles your thinking and actions and can result in lost opportunities.

The struggle that must be faced by everyone is how to conquer that fear.  What can you do to brush aside the naysayers and that nagging feeling that keeps you from pursuing the goals you have ahead and what God has intended for you?  Elbert Hubbard stated that “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing that you will make one.”  We all know there will times where you will not succeed in one venture or another.  If you never try however, for fear of failing, then you have once again let fear overcome you and your goals.

So how do you conquer those fears?  The biggest thing is to put your trust in God that He will lead you through the challenges and toward the path He wants you on.   Psalm 56:3-4 says, “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.  I praise God for what he has promised.  I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?”  That’s self evident there.  What can anyone or anything do to stop you if you put your trust in God.  He will help you overcome your fears when you trust in Him and let Him take control.

With your trust in God, you can muster the strength to overcome any fear and follow your dreams.  Les Brown stated that “A lot of people do not muster the courage to live their dreams because they are afraid to die.”  Don’t be afraid of where the path goes.  Follow your dreams and goals and follow them without fear.  I have a frame on my wall at home that says “The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.”  Know that He is always there.  Don’t be afraid of failure.  Don’t be afraid of success.  Don’t be afraid of the unknown.  Have faith that the path you follow is the one you are meant to be on.  You keep your mind fixed on those goals and they will come to fruition.

So don’t ever let anyone or anything tell you that you can’t follow your passions and dreams.  You can conquer those fears.  I have had my share of those fears over the years of where I may end up.  It is now in God’s hands and he is guiding down the path I was intended to take.  You can do the same thing.  It takes time, so don’t let that stop you either.  Stay focused and you can conquer those fears and come alive!

The Need for Mental Toughness

I’ve been meaning to write about this for several days, but travels and school demands have kept me at bay the last couple of weeks.  This is regarding something I got to experience the weekend prior at my son’s first baseball tournament of the season.  It has to do with guts and mental toughness.  Down in Georgia, we get the baseball and softball seasons going early.  Practice for travel teams usually kicks off full time after the first of the year, with the first tournaments by late February to early March.  My son’s travel team, South East Baseball, played its first tournament the weekend before last in temperatures that were clearly not baseball weather.  As his coach said, there’s a reason Spring Training is in Florida.

Anyway, we were out at the ballpark for many hours on Saturday and Sunday.  For us parents, it was ridiculous cold.  It felt unnatural to be there with my winter coat, sock hat, hand-warmers, gloves, etc.  But while us parents were there freezing our tails off, our boys were out there playing as if the cold didn’t phase them.  Game after game, they would take the field and play there best and won game after game.  By day two and championship play, the temperature and wind chill tanked.  Yet, our guys were still out there staging an awesome come-back to win the tournament and be the only undefeated team in our brackets.  These boys didn’t wine, they did not come looking for their hoodies, they just got out there and played their best.  It was fun to watch the character of these guys and their mental toughness to just gut it out and finish the tournament.   They had their eyes on the goal and stayed fired up to finish what they set out to do.

The other day, I ran across a quote from Bill Russell, which said, “Concentration and mental toughness are the margins to victory.”  That’s exactly what I saw on display.  These boys concentrated and had the mental toughness to finish and drive to victory.  I believe this holds true with anything in life, not just in a baseball tournament.  In life we are constantly facing obstacles in pursuit of our goals.  It may not be the cold weather, but could be any number of things that can try to slow you down.  In order to obtain that goal and victory, requires mental toughness and concentration.  Know what it is you want, set your mind on that goal and go for it.

God’s Word tells us over and over to not fear and to be strong and courageous.  This requires mental toughness to continue driving forward.  As I’ve said before, Always Forward and never back.  Know what it is you want to achieve and set your mind and actions in motion to achieve that goal.  Your character shows when you set your actions in motion toward a goal.  If you let things slow you down, such as the cold at this tournament, you will find it very difficult to succeed.  Keep driving with the mental toughness to succeed and you will.

What’s Your Excuse?!?!?

Yesterday, I was a at a big meeting that was capped off by a motivational speaker.  Some of you may have heard of him.  His name is Erik Weihenmayer.  If you have not heard of him, go to www.touchthetop.com to learn a little more about him.  Erik is a truly phenomenal speaker with a great story of overcoming serious adversity to do amazing.  What is his adversity, you may ask?  Erik is blind.  Blinded after a rare eye disease hit him in college.  Okay, you may think great.  What is even more amazing though, is the things this guy does.  First, he climbed Mt. Everest (yes blind), he goes kayaking, and a number of other amazing adventures.  For the purposes of the meeting, a key message he had was the importance of the team he has behind him.  I will touch on that in my next post.  The other big message that I got was, what’s our excuse for not doing anything?  This guy climbs mountains, along with others with disabilities, including one guy who is a paraplegic, and another that is a double amputee in his legs and others.  It was truly inspiring to see the wonderful things he has done in his life and not letting the setback of going blind run his life.

Hearing his story reminded me of another I guy I had heard about a couple of month’s back named, Sean Stephenson.  He was featured in December’s issue of Success Magazine.  Sean suffers from brittle bone disease, and at age 33 has suffered over 200 fractures.  Despite all of this, Sean is a guy who does not let anything keep him back and has become very successful as an author, motivational speaker, and more.  He’s a guy who does not let things hold him back.  Listening to his interview from that magazine issue was pretty awesome as well.

Both of these guys made me reflect on myself and everyone around me.  We all come through life and meet different levels of adversity.  Things that seem like a brick wall trying to keep us from unleashing who we are meant to be, or at least it may seem like it.  I have learned from my experiences, and from these two stories that any adversity set before us can also be significant strength builders to becoming who we are truly meant to be.  We have to let ourselves hear what that is and not be consumed in the pity party saying poor me.  Albert Schweitzer said, “One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.”  Those moments of adversity are those moments when our metal is truly tested.  We are meant to find out who we really are and how we can overcome that adversity and use it to our advantage.  Erik Weihenmayer and Sean Stephenson certainly did.

So I ask you, what’s your excuse?  If you are stuck in that mode of I just can’t get ahead.  I can’t find opportunity.  I can’t reach my goals.  What’s your excuse.  Truth be told, there is not excuse.  You have to find it in yourself to pick yourself up and drive forward.  To leap over that obstacle in your way to find the opportunity, to get ahead, to reach your goals, and come alive.  I have said time again that we all have a purpose under God.  He has a special purpose for each one of us.  That adversity is a significant part of that purpose.  Live, learn, and continue to drive forward and grow.  I say again, what’s your excuse?  If you let adversity hold you back, you will always find yourself falling behind.  Getup and climb.  Use adversity as a source of strength and you will be stronger than ever before.