Monthly Archives: April 2014

Be Like James : Lessons From A Dearly Missed Friend

Picture your dream home.

Now picture your outdoor space.

Imagine I have contracted a landscaper that is going to build you a fire pit.  Complete with retaining walls, gardens, end tables for your glass of wine, and those long backed adirondack chairs.

Don’t get me wrong, you are going to flip the bill, I am not paying for the landscaper.

But the finished product will be all yours to enjoy.

I just need you to pick out a spot in your yard and we can get started.

So have you picked a spot?

If you are anything like me I can see the spot you picked. In the backyard, maybe close to and nestled in with some trees.  A private space where you can invite “the good friends over” to laugh the night away, enjoy a glass of wine or cuddle with your partner, where you can spend a summer night roasting marshmallows with the kids.

That space you are imagining my friend James built it and all those moments you imagined in that space he did those too; With one simple difference.

He built it in his front yard. No he does not live without neighbors in the country either. He lives in a thriving busy subdivision.

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This is James sitting in that space a couple years ago.

Today he would have been 46 years old. We lost him 2 years ago after he spent 4 years battling cancer. That space is still there in his front yard and highlights one of the most admirable qualities you and I can learn from James.

James was a busy successful family man but he always made time to focus on what was most important, RELATIONSHIP.

One morning a couple years ago James who was running his business and suffering through the cancer treatments sent me a text. “HEY BRO!!!! Tea?”  I accept the invite and as I pulled into his driveway there he was sitting in the front yard. We joked, we laughed, we had some serious conversations too. Every once and awhile a neighbour would pass by and James would call out to them by name. “YO! YO! How’s it going?”

As we wrapped up our conversation, James asked where I was heading. Then he proceeded to tell me he was heading down to a BIG meeting in an hour. He would be presenting a proposal to a large company. I thought oh wow and hastily stood up with a sense of urgency, I talked too long, he has this big meeting, he needs to prepare, he needs time, I better get out of here.

James stood up casually and said “hey thanks for the visit, what’s the rush?” I asked him “well aren’t you nervous you have to present in an hour, I can’t believe you invited me over for tea.”

He casually shrugged and reached over to pat me on the back and give me a hug.

That moment has sat with me.

That day, if I were James, I would not have texted a friend for coffee. Not before a big meeting like that and a fight like cancer on my plate.

Instead I would be sitting in that chair in that comfortable isolated space I built in the backyard. Doing what you ask? Worrying, planning, and worrying. With whom you ask? By myself.

In your life today “Where are you sitting?”

Your dream house the one I asked you to picture, there is no sense in it. Not if you are going to sit in your backyard alone, worrying.

We have all become too busy for what really matters.

While you are sitting in your backyard trying to control and manage every detail of your life, you are missing out on the relationships and experiences sitting around the fire pit in your front yard.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Mathew 16:25

Whether you are able to admit it or not your heart’s greatest desire is relationship. Our worry has no value it just robs us of what matters most, the present.

When I worry, I spent less time with God, I shift my wife, my kids, my friends to another “less busy” day.

I withdraw,

I isolate,

I actually accomplish nothing.

There I sit in the backyard of my life. While James with much more to worry about built a space in his life for the things that mattered he built it right there smack dab in the middle of his front yard. I am not saying he did not worry he worried. But time and time again he chose to not let worry steal lives best moments from him.

James lived 44 FULL years. His cancer was not the catalyst that brought about his priority for relationship. His value for meaningful relationship was always there. When I met him at 16 years old, I was a shy awkward teen lacking a lot of confidence. James, treated me like he treated everyone else.

James invited people in, whatever went on in his life you could always find him right there with his legs up in the front yard and he would always offer you a seat.

Stop using your “too busy” as an excuse. James was busy and James never did. He always made time and he always had fun.

I once left a clipboard in a bag that belong to James.  He kept texting me to come pick it up. I kept saying ok, I will come and get it, I don’t need it right away.

He kept texting.

So I picked it up with a bunch of other stuff that I needed from him. It was not until later that night that I unpacked the bag to find my clipboard. My clipboard that James’ had enhanced.

clipboard

 

James was killing himself laughing when I called him.  He said you know I may have cancer but I have been working out, just show people pictures of how buff I have been getting and I can be your poster boy. They will be lining up to personal train with you so they can “Be Like James”

This clip board that James gave me as a joke, now sits above my desk on the wall as a reminder to “be like James” and pursue meaningful relationship today!

happy birthday

Are you SURVIVING or are you CREATING?

Answer searchI took a seat at a restaurant a couple weeks ago, a restaurant that I had frequented a lot in the past, enough that I was known by name.  A familiar waiter came to the table paused momentarily to think and then said

“Ira, oh….it’s been a bit….I have not seen you in a while.”

My response “Yep.”  I grinned

“I moved to BC, three years ago…..it has been three years”

Stop and think about that, THREE years, BOOM, gone like that.  Really it has been three years?

I have been prompting my class participants lately to ponder this question.

If I went away for three years and came back to see you, would you be a different person?

Or would everything including you be the same?

After being away for three years, I ran into some of the same people, in the same places, complaining about the same things.  Now I am not coming down on anyone, if you know me that is not my style.

Shaking up the way you think, NOW that is totally my style;  Urging you to pay attention to today, not just survive to the end of the day; Calling out the opportunity and not putting love off until tomorrow NOW we are talking about my PASSION.

Total health to me is not just good workout habits, enviable dietary traits and a six pack. When I think HEALTH, the words that come to mind are, FULLY ALIVE, VIBRANT, PASSIONATE, FUN, LIFE GIVING, CONTAGIOUS, ABUNDANT AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIP…… come on help me out, I know you can come up with a few more words to describe TRUE HEALTH!

I ran into people who life is just happening to, people who will end up with a life.

What I want for you and I believe God wants for you is a life that was CREATED not something that just happened to you.

I can sympathize I have been there a lot. Just ‘coping’ going through the motions. Sometimes I have found myself lying around just hoping bedtime would come sooner  so I could have a accomplishable task to do, one I felt I could handle…. like sleeping.

But my desire is to use my gifts, the ones God has given me to CALL YOU TO ACTION.  My desire is the lady I saw at Tim Hortons 3 years ago who evidently hated her job would not be there when I returned for a visit.  But there she was, same job, same time, same place, same frown, my heart desires more for her and for you!

I hear it a lot from people when I go back home.  “Ira, you have changed, there is something different about you, something new about you, you seem happier?”

It’s a change I do sense myself and the ones closest to me recognize it as well. Slightly more assured in my calling, more intentional, more focused, less concerned with pleasing people all the time and more concerned about the things that matter and certainly less likely to take offence so easily.

Where did it come from? TRUST, PRAYER lots and lots of PRAYER, and GRATITUDE, oh such a shift in what I am thankful for.

What did it cost my wife and I?  our comfort, our familiar, our security.  I sold our house, left a $120, 000 a year business, packed a small amount of our possessions in a moving truck and drove 5 days across this beautiful Canadian country to meet my wife and first child Noah who had flown ahead to pitch our tent in our new home Kelowna, BC.   I did not have a job waiting for me either.

Why? I can’t quite explain other than a prompting that started small and grew larger until I could not ignore it.  During prayer times in my car I started to ask God. “I need a revelation, should I stay or should I move?”  These words were lyrics from a Third Day song I heard LOUD and CLEAR one morning.  As I sat with that question soon came another prompting “Come on, take a chance, LET ME LOVE YOU.” I felt God saying STOP going through the motions, playing it safe, staying inside the lines, do it, take a chance, let me catch you, let me show you profound, life changing, uplifting LOVE.

What does this look like for your unique situation?

I am not saying you have to seek out a tough life. Or that you have to pick up and move away. Your journey will be unique to you.

Here are some points that have helped me:

Refuse to complain about things that you are unwilling to change. If you are not in the right “head space” to make a BOLD change, then start small.  Acknowledge the blessings in your current situation. Start changing your words and start believing that your current space is “training ground” for your future assignments. In fact ditch complaining completely it gives you temporary satisfaction but you get to live with the toxic aftermath of your negativity.

Start seeking out “doers” or mentors, people you admire.  I prayed for God to surround my family with people who would challenge, inspire, and LIVE out a LIFE rather than go through the motions.  He delivered.

Today NOT tomorrow. Don’t concern yourself with things in your tomorrows that distract you from your todays.  “Worry is a down payment on a problem you may never have.” (Joyce Meyers) Be intentional about being present in your TODAY.

Take Action. Take a chance. Pursue your dream. Maybe it’s a small step towards a dream and away from survival mode.  Ask yourself am I just surviving today? Or am I living and seeking and giving?

Exercise Patience. Getting uncomfortable is well, uncomfortable. Be powerful and be willing enough to stay in uncomfortable long enough to see the change and for things to be made new.  Make your goal progress not perfection.

I think you would agree life is short and time flies. I know I want to hear those words from God “well done, my good and faithful servant” when I die.  If you feel the same way and want to inspire a generation with me, be sure to stay connected.  If you’re willing enough you will  take action right ;) you can like my Facebook page today not tomorrow.