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Some Lessons Learned On The Journey

During my crazy beautiful health journey, God has shared many lessons with me. I have shared some of these lessons in earlier blog post. Today, I would like to share some more lessons learned during my journey. Some of these lessons have been difficult to walk through, but they have brought me closer to God. They have made me a better person. They are lessons I never want to forget.

Don’t Live In Fear. Surrender everything to God. Including your fear. My life is filled with a lot of unknowns. It would be easy live in fear. For moments I have. Thank goodness, I chose not to live in that fear. No, instead I continue to choose to live in Hope. Not always easy, but making the choice to not live in fear has been life changing.

Let God’s Word Empower You. Spend time in God’s word. Speak it. Pray it. Sing it. Live it out. During my good days and bad days I choose to let God’s Word pour over me.

Embrace Every Moments. Make every moment count. Tell your love ones you love them. Share some hugs. Take that trip. Give freely. So some grace. Love without prejudice.

Be Grateful. Take time to be thankful for your many blessings. My journey has been filled with some rough moments, but I have so much to be grateful for. My wife. My family and friends. My medical team. Great insurance. Beautiful moments.

Never Give Up. The temptation is always there. The journey is too hard. The pain is too great. There are plenty of reasons to give up, but I encourage you to keep fighting. Reach out to trusted family and friends to walk with you during those moments of wanting to give up.

I hope these lessons will encourage you. They are not easy to walk through. Believe me I know. I have been trying to live them out for the past 17 years. ~OC

Do Friendships Matter?

I think most people reading the title of this blog post would answer in the affirmative. Yes, friendships matter. So why do we sometimes treat our friendships like a winter coat in Florida? Only use it once or twice a year. Ouch! This post is not about slamming anyone. No, I am writing this in the hopes that we will truly think about the importance of our friendships and do they really matter.

We currently live in a society where we can count the number of friends we have. Just take a look at your social media pages. It will tell us how many “friends” we have. It even tells us we cannot add anymore friends once we reach 5,000 friends. Really? Five-thousand friends. Let us not forget our followers on Twitter and Instagram. But for so many people that is their definition of friendship. I wish I could say that was a millennial issue, but sadly it effects all age groups. Sadly, so many people have chosen social media friendships over actual real life friendships. Hey, it’s so much easier. Just comment on a friends post, click the like button or share an emoji. Who doesn’t like a good emoji?

Have you tried setting up a time to meet with friends lately? I think dealing with the DMV is easier. I understand we are all busy in life. We all have families and careers. We have responsibilities we need to take care of. I get it. Life is just busy. And all of those things are important. I am not saying we need to give all those things up. What I am asking, is when did it get so difficult to be a friend?

So, how can we actually be better friends? Here are a few suggestions.

Set a Date. “Let’s get together sometime.” How many times have we said that to someone? Instead of talking about it, set a date. Then actually follow through.

Check In. Instead of just clicking like on a friend’s Facebook post, pick up the phone and call them. You can actually use your phone to talk.

Take Time. Instead of rushing out of that meeting or church service, stick around and spend some time catching up. Time building friendships.

Stop Complaining. Do not complain about the lack of friendships, if you are not making the effort to invest in friendships.

These steps are not easy. Sometimes we are taking these steps and still finding it hard to build friendships. That can be frustrating. I have tried taking these steps with some people and all I got was silence or false promises. But I would encourage all of us to keep on trying. True friendships are worth it. Are you willing to put in the work? ~OC

Never Stop Thriving

When I was diagnosed with multiple life threatening health issues, I made the choice to keep thriving. When I had to stop running, I made the choice to keep thriving. When I had to retire early based on my health issues, I made the choice to keep thriving. When I have been told I should not be alive, I make the choice to keep thriving. Do you sense a theme here? We have to keep thriving.

When my health journey started, I made the choice to become a patient advocate. When I had to give up running, I made the choice to start running a new race. A race to encourage others going through their own crazy beautiful journey. When my health forced me to retire early, I made the choice to become an abolitionist, a missionary, a speaker and a writer. I made the choice to not allow my circumstances define me. This has not always been easy, but it has been worth it.

Today, I encourage everyone to keep thriving. You may be facing some tough circumstances and you are just concerned about surviving. The thought of thriving is not even on your radar. I would encourage you to change your mindset from surviving to thriving. I would encourage you to surround yourself with people who will help you thrive. I realize this might be difficult. Change is never easy. But if we want to live a life of thriving, we will have to make some changes in our lives. I guarantee changing your mindset from living/surviving to thriving could be life changing. ~OC

Today I Choose

Today I choose to listen more than I speak.

Today I choose to speak words of encouragement.

Today I choose not to judge others.

Today I choose to love the immigrant.

Today I choose to look at the best in people.

Today I choose to speak out against injustice.

Today I choose love over hate.

Today I choose to love the unlovable.

Today I choose to love those that look different than me.

Today I choose to love those that worship differently than me.

Today I choose to love those who vote differently than me.

Today I choose to love those with different opinions than me.

Today I choose to speak truth.

Today I choose to check in on my friends.

Today I choose not to give up.

Today I choose to embrace adventure.

Today I choose to have a positive attitude.

Today I choose to spend time with God.

Today is all we have. Tomorrow is not promised. Yesterday is a memory. How will you choose to live today? ~OC

The Gift of Brokenness

Sometimes I feel broken.

There are times I look at my life and see all the ways I fall short. Maybe it was my negative attitude or words that negatively affected someone else.

There are so many ways to feel broken- physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. In the middle of our brokenness, it’s easy to agonize over whether or not we can ever be acceptable to God or be used by Him during our brokenness. I know I struggle with this sometimes.

During this crazy beautiful health journey, God has taught me a valuable lesson about being broken.

Our brokenness is a gift. A gift? Yes, a gift because our brokenness connects us to other people walking through their own brokenness. A gift because our brokenness brings us closer to God. It is during our brokenness that God makes us whole.

Sharing our brokenness brings meaning and healing to our crazy beautiful journey.

Blessings happen during the brokenness. As I have shared my health journey with others, people have reached out to me and shared how my journey has helped them walk through their own crazy beautiful journey. It has been a blessing to see God move through my brokenness.

Being broken is a gift, because through our brokenness we recognize our need for God. Because only through God can our broken life be made whole.

I am so grateful for the gift of being broken. During my brokenness God has continued to love me and use me in spite of my brokenness. What a gift.

My prayer for you is that during your brokenness, you will look to God and allow Him to use you during this time. I pray you will find the gift of brokenness as God puts your broken pieces back together. ~OC

Run Your Race

I remember my first marathon. I was ready. I had done the training. I was prepared. I had beat cancer. I was going to own that 26.2 miles. Then on the day of the race, I made a major tactical error. I tried running somebody else’s race.

As the runners lined up for the race, I decided to make my way to the front of the line and run with the Kenyans. The elite runners. I was ready to run with the best. Well, you can probably figure out what happened next. I started out at a pace that I had never run before. Those elite runners left me in the dust. By mile one, I was exhausted. Had I blown my chance at completing my first marathon because I decided to run somebody else’s race?

How many times in life have we tried to run a race that was not designed for us? I know I have on many occasions. And just like that marathon, running somebody else’s race can leave you exhausted. Burnt out. That’s because God designed a specific race just for us. He designed that race at a pace we could handle and be successful.

Like my marathon experience, we decide we like the race the person next to us is running. Their race seems more smoother than our race. Their pace is quicker than our pace. They seem to have it all together. Their race seems so much more exciting than our race. I want that race. Of course, we fail to realize what it took for that person to get to their race. The struggles. The disappointments. The training. The pain. No, all we see are the results of those struggles and we decide that is the race for us.

How many of us are running a race that was never designed for us? Don’t be afraid to raise your hand. We have all been there. It’s exhausting isn’t it? Today I want to encourage each of us to run our own race. The one God specifically designed for each of us. The race He has helped train us for. Maybe it’s not as smooth as we would like. Maybe it’s filled with a lot of hills and bumpy roads. That’s okay. Because through each of those struggles, God is growing us into the person He desires us to be. Guiding us to a victorious finish line.

I am happy to say, I completed my first marathon after that rocky start. After trying to run with the elite runners at the beginning, I recovered and started running the race I had been training for. It was at a much slower pace, but it was the pace designed for me to be successful. I was running my race. ~OC

The Art of Truly Livinga

Who remembers the first cellphone? Who remembers waiting until after 7pm on weekdays to make phone calls? Who remembers dialup? Oh, how far we have come in the area of technology. Today everything we need is right on our cellphones. Does anyone actually now somebody’s phone number?

Technology has come a long way in the past 20 years. I am definitely thankful for all the advances in technology. I am actually typing this message on my cellphone. We do not even have to go shopping anymore. We can order everything online. Modern technology has made life pretty easy.

But as technology continues to make life easier, I believe we have slowly stopped living. Have you been to a restaurant lately and looked around the room? Just about everyone is looking at their phones or taking pictures of their food to post on social media. Remember, if we do not post it on social media it did not happen. During this age of tremendous technology growth, we have become more obsessed with having “Followers” and less concerned about actually making Friends. Everything is surrounded around the next perfect social media post.

As technology continues to evolve, we have devalued the art of conversation. No, texting does not count as real conversation. We have devalued sitting around the table and sharing life with another human being. People are so obsessed with technology today, that we are actually missing life. We are losing the ability to truly live.

Truly living is going to dinner with family and friends and actually talking. It is reaching out to a sick friend. Truly living is feeling the sun hit your face as you walk along the beach. It is sitting with a friend as they face the storms of life. Truly living is being fully engaged in the lives of family and friends. It is being present in the moment.

Today, I would encourage you and myself to commit to the following:

Commit to spending quality time with family and friends.

Commit to having one real conversation a day with a family member, friend or a complete stranger.

Commit to putting the technology away during visits with family and friends.

Commit to taking a break from social media once or twice a month. I promise you will survive.

Commit to planning for some adventure with your family and friends. Then actually do it.

Commit to meeting with a friend once a week.

Commit to serving others.

Commit to stepping out of your comfort zone every once in a while.

Commit to reading a book or playing a board game, instead of watching tv or playing on your phone/computer.

Commit to investing in the lives of others.

Commit to embracing beautiful interruptions.

Commit to truly living.

***Warning!! Do not try doing all these at once. Your brain might explode. Ease into them.

I know following through with these commitments will not be easy. We are so used to living in the world of technology. It has just become a way of life. Like I shared earlier, I love technology as much as the next person. But guess what? I love people, real conversations and spending quality time with family/friends more than technology. I hope you will join me as we find our way back to the Art of Truly Living. ~OC

Walk In Victory

Today’s a new day! Nothing has ever surprised God. Not that bad medical report. Not that broken relationship. Not the death of a loved one. Nothing has ever caught God off guard. Remember that the next time the enemy shows up. What might be a surprise to us, is not a surprise to God. Trust and Believe. Walk In Victory Today. ~OC

Masterpiece

Today’s a new day! Whatever your past mistakes, God will take you where you are and start molding you into the Masterpiece He created you to be. ~OC

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