A fallen hero, Officer David S. Moore.

A fallen hero, Officer David S. Moore.

Officer Moore was gunned down in the line of duty on January 23, 2011. In his honor, his parents, set up a foundation to impact the community he served in. As I was speaking to officers from around Central Indiana, emphasizing their duty to look out for each other and create a culture of resiliency, it dawned on me that the class was made possible because of Officer Moore’s sacrifice. I have to admit, leaving the training to catch a flight to Denver where I am tonight, I broke down. It was a heavy cry, a weeping. The kind that wakes you up and reminds you that life is fleeting and we should do everything we can to make all our moments count.

If you can, honor the memory of Officer David S. Moore, and all our fallen police officers, by giving a gift to the foundation at the following link. Think of it as a small token of appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice so many police officers and others who serve have made for us. Help the Moore’s continue the legacy of service their brave son lived and died for.

http://davidsmoorefoundation.org/the-legacy-of-a-warrior/

If you've been broken, you can learn to live again. You can be reborn.

If you’ve been broken, you can learn to live again. You can be reborn.

A recent NBC news story talks about how a PTSD diagnosis can break an individual. Yes it can, but I believe what is broken can be healed. A life destroyed, can be a life reborn.

From the NBC news article: PTSD can really ruin peoples’ lives, says Gean. “PTSD is associated with horrendous symptoms within the individual. It drives them to do things that person who is not affected by PTSD would not do,” she said. It can break an individual.”
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/fort-hood-shooting/ptsd-difficult-diagnosis-can-break-individual-n70986

Not only that, the stigma associated with PTSD is great. This means that many who are suffering from PTSD try to keep it hidden and avoid acting on it. They don’t want the label almost as much as they don’t want PTSD.

Broken is a good word for PTSD. It is the basis for the talks and workshops I teach. PTSD really just means broken and anybody can be broken. Get broken because of a traumatic, life threatening event, meet a few other criteria, and they call it PTSD. There should be no shame nor stigma in that. No one on this planet is so strong that they can’t be broken.

Getting better starts with understanding that if you’ve been broken you can truly build a new life. The key is taking those first steps to get the PTSD out of the dark. Keep it in the dark, it will grow and overwhelm you. Get it out in the light, find someone you can talk to about it – a friend, a parent, a loved one, a counselor, a preacher, whoever – and you are on the road to living again. I get e-mails all the time from people suffering and you can literally see them change as their hidden demons become transparent.

PTSD is not a death sentence. PTSD doesn’t mean you are weak. PTSD doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to get better. It just means you’ve been broken. You can overcome it and live again. I’ve worked with thousands and have the heard the most horrific stories you can imagine. I’ve seen miracles, I’ve seen relapses, I’ve seen men and women overcome incredible pain to live.

I believe in you.

Here is something you can do today – grab a piece of paper and pen or pencil. Write about the darkness you keep hidden. It can be one sentence, a drawing, a poem, a short story, it really doesn’t matter. When you are done, burn or throw away the paper. Do this until you are ready to talk to someone about it. I’ve had many people do this. Give it a try, it works.

“I cannot make the universe obey me. I cannot make other people conform to my own whims and fancies. I cannot make even my own body obey me.”
Thomas Merton

Moments like this are free. Humility allows us to fully enjoy and experience more of them.

Moments like this are free. Humility allows us to fully enjoy and experience more of them.

There are a million infomercials, motivational speakers, and advertisements that will tell you differently, but this is truth “I cannot make even my own body obey me.”

We can try, we can train, we can spend, but ultimately, we live in a world that we do not control. It might be a drunk driver who hits you, a cancer cell that grows and devours you, or a million other things, yet we can expend a lifetime of energy, money, and time trying to “control” that which we can’t. Influence, maybe, control, no.

Another word for Merton’s illumination is simply “humility”. Humility is always the first step to peace. We step beyond the manic thoughts and ideas that compel us to try and “control” things and we are eventually brought to our knees when we realize that all our vain efforts result in brokenness. It is there we can find the freedom to focus on those things that matter – family, faith, love, our neighbor. Humility allows us to quit worrying, spending time and money on that which is temporal and uncontrollable, and to shift our eyes and heart on those things which last and can’t be taken away.

Many people become consumed trying to avoid pain, disappointment and the road of life that always leads to decay and death. YOU can’t control enough to successfully avoid that. You will have pain. You will grow old and decay. Some will experience complete tragedy and brokenness. Rather than trying to run from it, accept that you cannot overcome it on your own. Give up control, get on your knees, allow love and others to work on you.

I love this quote from Augustine of Hippo. He was the great Christian theologian who lived from 354 to 430. There has never been a better quote on life:

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels”
Saint Augustine of Hippo

And of course when we are down on our knees, we can’t help but look up to God. What we find is not peace in a worldly way, i.e. lack of material problems, but peace in an otherworldly, more permanent way.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

So how do you start this road to humility? Why, you humble yourself.

Get down on your knees and sincerely ask your wife or children to forgive you for something you’ve done but pride has kept you from admitting.

Take the “fun” money and give it to the poor, and don’t tell anyone you did it. If it is only a penny, give a penny.

Look in the mirror and be honest about what you see and who you are.

Still lost? Get down on your knees, and through your tears, ask God to lead you.

Whatever it takes, do it. You will find peace.

The best mom is a happy mom. Make time for yourself.

My dear wife. The best mom is a happy mom. Make time for yourself.

Whether you have one child or seven, like us, mothers can get lost in their children. And that isn’t a good thing.

The bond between mother and child is beyond magnetic, it is truly symbiotic, especially for the mom. That baby becomes her life. With this comes overwhelming responsibility, and mothers can be overcome with everything from cooking to cleaning to the fear of making a mistake and messing up their kids. At its worse, it can be a paralyzing fear that leads to the very identity of a mother being lost. And without an identity, without an answer to that question, “Who am I?”, moms can get depressed and desperately alone.

It starts by realizing that the best example for a child is a life well-lived. You time is not just you time, it is a lesson, it is teaching your sons and daughters that being healthy means making time for yourself. You have to do it. You have to demand it. Go for that Saturday walk alone while your husband watches the kids, ask your parents to do it if you are a single mom, get help anyway you can.

You must carve out time for yourself, or you will lose yourself, and you will always feel like you are playing catch up, always behind the eight ball.

The best lesson for your children is how you live. If you pursue joy, so will they.

The best lesson for your children is how you live. If you pursue joy, so will they.

Good moms still have their own dreams, and obviously their children are the biggest part of that. But the love good moms have for their children can give them a false sense of priority and their lives can be overwhelmed with the responsibility of being a mom. Don’t kill your dreams, make your motherhood part of them. Start small – a walk in the park, a date-night with your husband, a yoga lesson, a movie alone in a theatre, whatever – just make time for yourself and be the best example you can to your children that life was meant to be lived.

And if no one else will, I GIVE YOU PERMISSION. I ORDER YOU. Mom time is not only okay, it is necessary.

One thing my wife likes to do is read mom blogs when the kids go to bed, here is a good one: My child I love you!

Maximus enjoying the Lake Michigan sand. Mom is somewhere wondering how she is going to keep it out of the van!

Maximus enjoying the Lake Michigan sand. Mom is somewhere wondering how she is going to keep it out of the van!

Lonely Planet just came out with their “Top places in the US to take a road trip for 2014″.

One of those on the list is a trek up the shores of Lake Michigan. It’s a trip we took a few years ago and one we’ll never forget. We packed up everyone in our Ford E-350 passenger van and headed north. It was early spring, a little cold, but still incredibly scenic. In fact, it allowed us to explore without the crowds of summer.

In no time we were out of the flat cornfields of northern Indiana and greeted by the sandy beaches and rolling hills of the western Michigan coast. Although we were squarely in the midwest, we weren’t far from Sleeping Bear Dunes, once voted the most scenic location in America.

More kids, more sand, more memories.

More kids, more sand, more memories.

The water while cold, looked like the ocean to the kids (Lake Michigan really is oh my god big), and they took the opportunity to splash with relish as far as they dared with their shoes off and pants pulled up. I struggled to keep sand out of my camera and my wife unfortunately had little time to relax keeping constant watch on disappearing children. The plague of all mothers, “have you seen Gabriel, where did Jude go, how deep is that water!” :)

There are real jewels along the western Michigan coast – Holland, Grand Haven, St. Joseph, and many others. They are littered with quaint B&Bs, coastal village parks and trails, incredible restaurants and antique shops galore. Even the roadside rest areas we stopped at to picnic had their own magic, most overlooking the incredible expanse of Lake Michigan.

Not far from wherever you live is an amazing memory.

Not far from wherever you live is an amazing memory.

We’ve made it back many times since our first visit and whenever we use the excuse “there is nothing cool near us” to stay home, we remember that jewel of a coast and get out of the house, leaving our excuses behind.

Excuses are the killers of amazing memories. Leave yours behind, I’m sure there is something magical waiting for you not far from wherever you call home.

Get out of the house, click here for some awesome road trip ideas: http://news.yahoo.com/lonely-planets-picks-top-road-trips-us-2014-150705080.html

And for more on Sleeping Bear Dunes: http://www.sleepingbeardunes.com/

Gabriel and Leanna

Gabriel and Leanna

Every morning about 6am our youngest child, Gabriel, pitter-patters his two year old feet down the stairs from his bedroom to tell stories to our dog, Leanna. Every morning.

He will march to the corner of the living room where Leanna is asleep in her bed and he’ll cuddle up to her as close as humanly and doginly (is this a word?!) possible. Just look at those pictures, it’s like that every morning. He’ll stay in the dog bed for an hour reading and making up stories for Leanna.

The scene can overwhelm me. Both the fact that Gabriel loves that dog so much, and the fact that Leanna lets him do it is just pure joy. At that moment there is no where else in the world that boy had rather be and he is there, right in the middle of his vision of pure heaven.

A boy and his dog.

A boy and his dog.

As the morning greats me each day, Gabriel and Leanna provide the reminder to enjoy the simple things, to get up early, to take my time drinking coffee, and to let my mind wander to wherever it may roam. You don’t have to be old to be wise, you just have to know how to love. Little Gabriel has that by the bucket full.

A boy and his dog. That is a good thing.

Pure joy

Pure joy