Tag Archives: spiritual resiliency

Please Tell Me You Love Me Daddy

Nothing warms my heart like my daughter telling me, “I love you, daddy.” It’s simply the greatest. So you would think that if she said it to me five or six times in an hour my heart would burst with joy. Um, not really. I started to worry something was amiss.

Please Tell Me You Love Me Daddy

You’ve probably taken a late night inventory? Everyone else is asleep. You're still awake going through a list in your mind. What did I do? What didn’t I do? What has changed about our lives?

We have been adjusting to my wife working full time, which has put added stress on me. But I couldn’t figure out how that related to my daughter’s need to convey her love for me. Then I ran out of responses since I didn’t want to parrot back, “I love you too” every time.

Taking the bull by the horns, or in this case the little girl by the hand, I asked her why she expressed her love for me so frequently. “Because I love you so much daddy, I just have to tell you all the time.”

Be still my heart. Yes, tears are welling up as I write this.

While I think she was sincere I wasn’t satisfied. Her profession of devotion still had an air of disquiet about it.

Then it hit me.

“Baby,” I said, “You know I love you and always will love you. Right?”

“Yes, daddy. But I like to hear you say it.”

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So there it was. She wasn’t making a statement she was asking a question. “I love you daddy” meant “Daddy do you love me?”

Since first hearing Extreme’s More Than Words I’ve known it summed up my feelings about love. It's heart-wrenching lyrics speak of a man’s yearning for demonstrative, rather than spoken, love.

Isn’t that what we all want? To be shown that someone loves us. Isn’t it enough for me to do the dishes unbidden, bring my ladies flowers, and buy special treats for the Sabbath? Turns out some of us prefer to be told. Or perhaps need both. My wife and daughter are in the latter category.

Here’s the most interesting part. Since I started interpreting her “I love you” as a question and answering it in a focused, sincere way, her need to ask has diminished.

The exchange takes a moment. It creates a lifetime of relationship glue.

What about you?

When your spouse, child or parent says “I love you” do you know whether it’s a statement or question?

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Why You Need a Liver for Your Brain

Being married to a Registered Nurse exposes me to far more information about physiology than I ever want to know. Additionally, sitting through the Navy’s annual training on alcohol and drugs, I have become inordinately familiar with the liver’s function: Synthesizing proteins and storing glycogen, sure. But best known is its role in detoxification. (Children will be happy to know liver is not good for you.) Without this vital organ, seemingly benign lipophilic chemical compounds, let alone potentially harmful pharmaceuticals and liquor, would debilitate your body. No exaggeration, within months you would die.

Why You Need a Liver for Your Brain

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Axiomatic in the world of personal development is that you are better off having a positive attitude than a negative one. Put simply, you improve your relationships and chances of success by filling your mind with life affirming, upbeat material. While I have not seen any studies to back this up, I have never met a pessimist with a long and happy marriage or who built a successful business.

Contemporary culture’s pernicious effect on you is so pervasive yet subtle you may not realize its impact. But while your liver can process toxins you put in your body, no such filter exists for your brain or soul. You need to intentionally create one.

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I remember many years ago when profanity was a regular part of my speech.  I was unconscious of how, unbeknownst to me, it increased my negative perception of events. Something bad would happen and instead of it being a challenge it was a f*****g mess. The yearlong process of purging expletives from my vocabulary also moderated the unwarranted pessimism with which I viewed situations.

Here is a simple process for creating a liver for your brain:

  1. Identify the mental and spiritual toxins violating your mind and soul. These may come from television, music, groups to which you belong, or people with whom you associate.
  2. List them in order of impact: Least harmful to worst. It does not need to be scientific. Your opinion is all that counts.
  3. Create a strategy for filtering the least harmful one. The most benign one should be easiest to filter out so start there and give yourself the best chance for a victory.
  4. Proceed to the next least harmful. Once your first filter has worked take on each one on your list, modifying your filter as necessary.

Make your filter as simple to implement as possible. In the case of changing my language, I picked alternative words to use in place of swear words. To this day I still say jerk, gosh, and bloody (If I move to England I will have to give the last one up.)

Leading an optimistic, self-affirming life takes more than reading positive aphorisms. By creating a liver for your brain you purge toxins that can kill you mentally and spiritually. Take action on this today – and start living a holistically healthy life now.

What mental or spiritual toxin has the worst impact on you

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The Reason You Have to Work for What You Deserve

Parsha Nugget Eikev – Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25

Often I use the metaphor of G-d as our heavenly parent.  And like every good parent there are things He gives us simply because we're his children.  But since the Almighty is omnipotent, it seems like He could be much more generous.  Parshas Eikev explains why life entails so much hardship and toil:

“The Lord your G-d will safeguard for you the covenant and kindness that He swore to your forefathers.” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 7:12)

The Reason You Have to Work for What You Deserve

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In this week’s parsha Moses talks about the reward the Children of Israel will reap if they stay true to the mitzvahs (usually translated commandments). He warns them against being seduced by prosperity and reminds them of their history.

The above verse says iG-d rewards us because we are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This makes sense when eikev translates as “because” or “when.”  However, eikev can also mean "heel."  Often people don't care about what seems to be unimportant things G-d wants them to do. They tread upon them with their heel.  In that sense, the same verse says G-d rewards us for our behavior.

Which is it?  Do we receive the Almighty’s protection and favor as offspring of our forefathers or because we earn it?  Put another way, does G-d have a choice how He rewards us?

To be sure, the Creator bestows His bounty either because our behavior merits it or through fulfillment of the covenant with our forefathers.  He can also do so as an undeserved act of pure kindness.  But it seems that the covenant negates the other two, requiring G-d to show us favor.

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Indeed because of the covenant, G-d protects us even when we are unworthy.  But at times He does not need to do so because our conduct, performing even those mitzvahs that are sometimes treated lightly, merits His guardianship.

People Most Enjoy What They Work For

When we are given an undeserved reward we often feel guilty.  G-d wants to spare us from shame.  So, He decreed that benefits must be earned, even those we would otherwise receive by right according the covenant.

When we do earn it, G-d’s kindness makes His beneficence truly limitless, far exceeding what would be a just reward based on our merit.  So it turns out that there are no “minor” acts for G-d.  We must perform all of the Creator’s will, even those aspects that we usually relegate to our eikev/heel, in order to truly feel the satisfaction of earning the Almighty’s favor.

When have you felt G-d’s reward was justified or purely an act of kindness?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Veterans Program Launches Today!

I am thrilled to announce the launch of A HIGHER CALLING – Chaplains for Veterans

Round-the-clock chaplain access to veterans and their family members
Helping Hand for Veterans

By dialing toll-free, (800) 80-VETS-4 [800-808-3874], any veteran from World War II to the Gulf Wars can speak to a chaplain. So can their family members. They will not be asked in which branch they served, whether they were wounded or disabled, what type of discharge they received, or if they have a religious affiliation. They will have to answer only one question:

“How may I help you?”
For many service members a chaplain was their lifeline at a time of dire need. Spiritual crisis, emotional trauma, physical debility, a chaplain is there for active duty personnel. But such difficulties do not end when a veteran sheds his uniform for the last time. Confronted with transitioning to civilian life, the need for chaplain support can be greater. But . . .

  • Active duty chaplains are busy taking care of their soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, and Coastguardsmen. Many of them are deployed with their people. They simply cannot shoulder the responsibility of caring for veterans.
  • The Veterans Administration does not have enough chaplains to minister to the patients in their hospitals, let alone their clinics and other facilities.
  • Wounded Warriors, The Soldiers Project, and other worthwhile organizations are taking care of the critically wounded, physically and emotionally, or training heath care professionals to do so better.

What about the veterans who do not have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or are not disabled to the point where they rate care at a VA facility? To where can they turn at a moment of crisis and know they can speak to someone who understands their situation, has shared their experiences?

Two of my colleagues, Father Christopher Allen and Dr. Bryan Dove, and I started A HIGHER CALLING – Chaplains for Veterans to fill this gap. You can learn more about this exciting new venture at the website for the Institute for Living Intentionally.

Do you know a veteran who needs help? Pass along our number, (800) 80-VETS-4 [800-808-3874]. Heck, tell anyone who is willing to listen we are here to help veterans and their families.

Would you like to support our work? Come on active duty with us. You will not have to go to boot camp and have a drill sergeant scream at you day and night (unless you want to – we will arrange it)! By contributing a minimum of $18 per month, the cost to help one veteran, you can enlist in A HIGHER CALLING – Chaplains for Veterans Active Duty Program and be our partner in helping veterans secure a share of the American dream they fought to preserve. Donate here.

Please pass our number along to one veteran that you know and then join us on Active Duty here! Comment here.


New Look, More Great Content

With this week’s post my blog takes on a new look. While my old theme was attractive unfortunately the developer did not keep it current with today’s functionality. So with a new year comes a new theme.
New Look, More Great Content
It features a fresher appearance and improved readability and navigability. Also, I have reorganized my material to make it easier for you to find the information you want:
Personal Development: Here you will find material to help you design a purposeful, balanced life. My suggestions for strengthening specific aspects of your Three Pillars of Fitness – Physical ∞ Mental ∞ Spiritual appear as subheadings.
Entrepreneurship: Before joining the navy I spent 20 years as an entrepreneur and built five businesses. My sixth gets underway in a few days (hold tight, we are almost there). Having learned countless lessons (still am), I share them here.
Spirituality: If you are a fan of Parsha Nuggets, now you will find them here. In the future my guest bloggers and I will delve beyond Scripture, addressing other aspects of religious and spiritual development.
Sea Stories: Did you like my posts about life in the navy? Concerned about veterans and service members? Love to learn about things military? All these are covered here. I am planning more behind the scenes posts, pulling back the veil as far as my clearance allows.
History & Tales: History can shed light on some of our most difficult challenges. Several articles I have written about history will be published later this year. Here is where I will be continuing with this work, especially the history of everyday life.
Resources: Are you looking for information on sleeping well, guidance on eating, motivation for exercising, material to improve your mental resilience, tips on bettering your marriage and relationships, spirit enhancing thoughts, or help transitioning from military to civilian life (so close to my announcement)? You will find these and much more here.
All right, you're up-to-date on my blog.
I am practically intoxicated by the launch of my first major civilian program since I started my blog. It happens this Wednesday, January 22, 2014. Watch your email for the official notice.
By the way, you are going to have the chance to go on Active Duty with my colleagues and me. I do not think you will want to miss this opportunity. Remember the date, this Wednesday, January 22, 2014!
Please take a couple of minutes to look at my new blog. I really want to know what you think!

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