Big Change Coming in 2015

dream-bigWe’ve all heard the saying by Albert Einstein, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  I should probably tattoo that on my forearm so that I don’t forget it! I’m one of those people who tends to do the same thing over and over again and hope for different results.  What about you?

It’s sad that time goes so fast that we waste several years before realizing we are living as if we are insane. It is like getting lost while driving, and you know you are lost, but you don’t stop and ask for directions.  We just go in circles until we are exhausted and stressed out, and then we stop and ask for help.  If we had just done that to start with we would have saved ourselves time and enormous amounts of stress!

When I was approximately 30 years-old I was selling cars, and took a very wise man on a test drive.  He was getting ready to retire from the pharmaceutical industry, and he was going to pay cash for red Toyota Sierra (mini-man).  You are thinking, “Why in the hell would he buy a MINI-VAN aren’t you?  Well, it was because he had a bunch of buddies, and he said he wanted to load them all up to go play golf. As we talked about life he said something to me I have never forgotten.  He said, “You need to pick a path and stay on it.”  I’m not saying that is great advice for everyone, but looking back it was great advice for me.  He was simply telling me I had to quit jumping from one profession to another, or I would never truly smell the roses of success.  He was an older gentlemen who knew time goes by quickly, and one day you will wake up and ask yourself, “Where did the time go and what did I do with it?”

My point today is simple.  I’ve made the mistake of going through life having many dreams, but never focusing on one long enough to make it come true. And with all of that being said I should make one more point.  The first step is having the dream.  The dream that you know you have been equipped to fulfill if given the time to pursue it.  The dream that when pursued will make you want to get out of bed each morning.  The dream that will put you on the path.  The path that will likely keep you from going in circles and insane.

So join me if you will! Let’s choose to quit making one change after another, and make the change we know we need to make for 2015.  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of going around in circles.

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How My Wife & I Broke 4 Different Laws on our 15th Wedding Anniversary

Suncadia Resort
Suncadia Resort

Okay, I have to admit that I used the title to get you interested in reading my blog, but I’m fairly certain that my lovely wife and I did break at least 4 laws during our anniversary weekend.  I can’t tell you what they are because, well as I said, we broke them!  I may at least give you a hint if you keep reading, but my point is that I don’t want people to think love and passion fizzles in the forties.  Think about what younger people see on TV.  Every Viagra commercial has a good-looking middle-aged man on them.  I wonder if the younger audience is watching and thinking, “Shit man, my willy is about to die any day now!”  Sure, the willy can wonder & slumber for some, but here is the good news youngins…it isn’t as common as you are lead to believe.  The plumbing rarely starts rusting in the forties!

When I was in my twenties and early thirties I thought that romance and marriage in my forties (almost 50s) would be boring and lame. And what I want you to know is that is entirely up to you.  You can choose whether or not midlife is a time to light the fire or you can begin a downward spiral of sexual and physical boredom.

I want to challenge all of us to begin seeking out ways to enjoy our lives every single day.  And I want to convey that the midlife years can be the best time to begin doing so.  Our twenties and thirties are the years many of us were so busy focused on “climbing the ladder” that we missed the many blessings that surrounded us.  We didn’t fully embrace and enjoy life.

When the forties arrive you begin to realize life is going too fast, and you feel challenged to enjoy being physically active.  You simply realize the days of running, jumping, and well…humping may be gone before you know it!  And so you have a choice to make as to how you will accept that reality.  Some of you may be hitting your forties and saying, “I’m too old to ___________.”  Well I want to challenge you to start saying, “I’m too old not to _______________.”  You still want to know what laws Amy and I broke?  All I will say is that 3 out of the 4 involved indecent exposure.  Go have some fun!

Help Me with My Holiday Dilemma: Robbing A Bank vs. Becoming A Male Stripper

93806Well the holidays are here and with them brings joy, happiness, and a crap load of STRESS!  So I want to do things differently this year, and keep all the joy and happiness, and ditch the stress.  And to ditch the crap load of stress I’ll need what?  Correct!  A crap load of cash!

Let’s be honest and admit the holidays are very expensive.  So to offset the expense I’ve decided to engage in criminal or immoral behavior this year.  I know it sounds horrible seeing as though part of the holiday includes celebrating baby Jesus, but I can’t take another stressful holiday season.

So my criminal plan may involve a bank robbery.  Now don’t worry, I will be completely unarmed and make that clear as I walk to the counter.  I’m simply going to demand they return all the money they took from me this year.  I want them to return all my ATM fees, overdraft fees, technology fees, under the minimum balance fees, and fees they used to process my fees.  So if you think about it…I’m only robbing them of what they robbed of me.  I’m hoping the judge will see it that way as well, and let me out of jail before the kids open their gifts on Christmas morning.  Now, I do believe in the power of a Plan B so I have another idea.

My plan B is to become a stripper.  And some of you middle aged guys may want to get in on this one, because I’ll need a team.  I’m thinking of putting together a group of guys in their forties and fifties, and we’ll call ourselves the Swinging Richards.  And here is the the genius of Plan B, we will market ourselves to senior living facilities and nursing homes! So if you swing low or hell, if you swing at all, please consider joining me.

Happy Holidays!

Tony

p.s. This was sarcasm so please don’t report me to the police who will be busy with real bank robbers

Today’s Holiday Links:

Visit the Official LEGO Online Shop!

Shop Amazon’s Electronics Holiday Gift Guide – High-Tech Presents for Students

Shop Amazon – Thanksgiving Dinner and Desserts – Prepare the Perfect Feast

Click Here to Get $aved

Money-goes-far-in-Missouri-Show-me-the-moneyI posted the following on Facebook:

“By not saving & managing your money in your youth…you greatly increase the likelihood that you will one day feel enslaved to a job. People will tell you that money doesn’t make you happy, and that’s because they are broke. Money will offer you freedom, which can lead to both peace and happiness. Make it-Share it-Save it”

Uncle Tony

Being on the radio for almost 20 years has taught me that you can’t make a statement everyone will agree with, and so I was not shocked that a few (very few) disagreed.  However, I am a little shocked that someone would disagree.  Does that make sense?  Sure, I know that not everyone will realize I’m like a Caucasian Buddha, but not sure how anyone can deny the importance of money here in America.  Regardless, I want to clarify my statement to help people understand the brilliance that flowed so easily from my tortured mind.

Note that I didn’t say money can take care of all of our problems, and that it is the source of happiness. I said it can make life easier for you. When life is easier it can thus bring more peace and happiness to most situations.  For example, one of my dear friends replied with the following statement to my post:

I agree with you Tony. Always been a “save for rainy day” fund gal. In my 20s..when we were making very good money-we both socked 16 percent into 401ks…bought a modest home.  15 year mortgage ( house now paid off and I am only 43 ). Being responsible then when we were making big bucks saved me a world of grief later.

You will notice the phrase, “Saved me a world of grief later.”   What you don’t know is my good friend lost her husband to cancer at a very young age, and was left to raise 3 children. Did the money take away the grief.  No.  Did she ever think the money would replace the loss of the love of her life?  No.  However, did it reduce the stress in her life greatly? Absolutely.  Let me give you an example on the other side of the spectrum.  My parents are now almost 80 years of age, and despite having Medicaid and an AARP health policy their medications cost them over $500 a month.  If my parents had not saved money then they would be having even more struggles  Life is still difficult for them, but at least one stressor has been removed due to a few extra “Benjamins” in the bank.

Money shouldn’t be worshiped, and allowed to control us, but you sure as hell better learn to respect it and know the value of it.  I’m not speaking from a place of expertise, but I am speaking from experience.  I’ve made and continue to make great money, but because I wasn’t wise throughout the years it has tripled the amount of stress I have in my life.  I simply didn’t listen to my father who told me to save my money.  Now, please know I’m blessed beyond my dreams with most of the important things in life so don’t miss my point about money. My post is simply a way of advising younger folks to not just live for today.  Sure, enjoy today and spend some of your money on things that will bring joy into your life…just don’t spend all of it!

A few others insinuated that my Facebook post showed that I’m a broken man and in need of turning things over to God.  I would like to say that we are all broken, and you know what is worse than being broken?  Being broken and broke at the same time!  I fully believe that a belief in a high power will bring an incredible amount of peace during difficult times.  However, God doesn’t even carry a wallet, which makes it very difficult for Him to pay my rent.

 

Do you feel like you don’t get any respect? These 5 Questions can Help Change that!

rodThere comes a time in our life when we need to say, “I have no one to blame.”  If you are like me that time may have come later than you hoped, because it is a very health time of awareness.  Many go through life blaming their parents, an employer, spouse(s), friends, and for some…even their kids for not being the man or woman they dreamed of being.  Sure, all of the aforementioned do influence the projections of our life, but other than our parents we made the decision to enter into the relationships.  As I will say again later in this blog post, where you and I are in the world today is a result of the decisions we have made, the relationships we have made, and more importantly…how we have chosen to project ourselves to the world around us.  We have all been told that life is not about us, but the quality of our life will be determined by how we choose to project ourselves to others.

Do you remember the great Rodney Dangerfield?  He was a comedian whose entire shtick was based on the fact he got no respect.  He was the king of self-deprecating humor.  One of his lines was, “I went to my psychiatrist and he said I was crazy; so I told him I wanted a second opinion.  He said okay, you’re ugly too.”  As a child I loved him!  And being one of the fat and under achieving kids in the class I realized I could use that same self-deprecation to get laughs.  And even as I got thinner and better looking on the outside…I felt the same on the inside.  So I continued with my Rodney Dangerfield shtick.

The problem with my decision to project myself as the guy who always screws things up, isn’t very bright, or simply gets “no respect” is that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  People laugh at the jokes, but there is a part of them that begins to believe what you are saying even if or when there comes a day you don’t.  There comes a time in most of our lives when we want to be taken seriously.  If we are growing in maturity and getting healthier then we begin to realize we have something to offer the world.  We quit blaming everyone else, get our head out of our ass, and then we want our parents, friends, spouse, and everyone else to know we are not who we have led them believe.  We no longer want to be the punch line or a punching bag.  We no longer want to be told what to do, who to be, or where to go.  However, in order for us to change their perceptions we must first change our projections.  We have to change what we are projecting to the world around us or they will continue to feel the need to put us in our place.  After all, through our words and behavior we have told them we need that in our life!  We have projected a persona that says we aren’t capable!  It may be that we’ve led others to believe we aren’t capable of managing our own affairs, leading, getting a job done, or making our own decisions.  Most people don’t just assume you or I are incapable…we have lead them to believe it.

Let me ask you a few questions to help you see if this “mighty blog” can help you today.

  • Who are you in your heart?
  • Do you believe you can do more with you life if others would give you the chance?
  • Do you wonder why others don’t take you seriously or don’t see your gifts and talents?
  • Do you often times feel overlooked or disregarded?
  • Do you wonder why others think they have the right to boss you around, treat you like a child, manipulate you, or literally speak down to you?

Focus on that first question for a moment, because it is the place to start.  You first must realize that you were put on this earth with gifts and talents.  You must understand that you can achieve the things you have dreamed of achieving.  Because if you don’t believe it then you sure as hell aren’t going to convince others.  The other questions will help you determine what message you are sending to the world around you.  Simply put, you and I have to demand respect if we want it from others.  Yes small doses of self-deprecating humor and true humility are important for success, but they shouldn’t be your shtick unless you are a comedian, entertainer, or just enjoy it!

Again, if you and I want respect then we will have to demand it.  However, we don’t demand it by directly asking for it or being rude to others…we ask for it through how we project ourselves to the world.  It is time to introduce everyone to the real you so move out of your heart, into your brain, and out into the world!

IF you are 40+ then you are likely asking this BIG question. So let’s answer it! #midlife

terry
Terry Jaymes

I want to share a blog written by my good friend Terry Jaymes, because I think he addresses a question that those of us in midlife are asking.  And that is, “How do you dream after 50?”  I want to change it up a bit and ask, how do we dream after 40?  And for some of you in your late 30s that are old souls…you may already be asking the question as well.  For Terry, the dream was to have his own late night show, but what was your dream?  Most of us dreamed BIG in our twenties and thirties, but something happened to the dreams.  So again, how can we start dreaming in our 40s & 50s?

Today I am meeting with Terry to answer this question through a podcast that I will post ASAP.  For now I want you to read his heartfelt blog, because I think you will connect.  And the good news is that we do have an answer to the question.

Blog written by Terry Jaymes:  

I missed out on the Tonight Show again. Congratulations to Jimmy Fallon. I can’t believe that I’m actually putting this in writing, but him getting that show hurt me. Nowhere near as much as Kimmel getting his own show some ten years earlier. I’m getting used to the pain.

You see, these were actual dreams of mine. Dreams I managed to fall way short of. Dreams I honestly thought I would live.

In fairness, my original vision was to replace David Letterman, but now Seth Meyers has that one too. All these guys are so talented, but so are a million others who will never feel the warmth of the intense studio lights. I am so happy that the world of late night television is in such great hands. We as viewers are very lucky that we get to see people living their dream every night. These are my reality shows.

There were many mistakes made on my way. I could spend all day listing them. But all that would do is bum me out. If I had the balls to really go for it, I know I would have had my shot by now. The only reason I’ve been in radio so long was to support the dream of hosting a show like that.

Full disclosure: I also wanted to replace Regis. I would have killed in that roll.

Somebody needs to let people know that the bigger the dream, the harder the fall. It takes balls to admit that you want to be extraordinary. It takes a bigger set to walk away.

I’ve ditched a lot of dreams along the way. Some were easy to let go of. There aren’t a lot of fifty year-olds being picked up by the Lakers. Many were heart-wrenching lessons in reality.

The reality being that my window is closing. I can’t tell you how painful this is. I missed out and it’s nobody’s fault but my own.

I’ve taken a few days to think about this and to pray for hope and guidance. What I’m getting is that it’s a disservice to say that age doesn’t matter. It does. Some games are meant for young men. I’m actually crying as I’m writing this. I thought this would just be a good blog topic, but it’s really sinking in. I’m glad my wife isn’t home. She will ask later if I’ve been crying.

So how does one dream big past 50?

Maybe this is where age still matters. I now know what my strengths really are. I know I can offer the world something much more than I could have 20 years ago. The big question is, what does that look like?

I feel a new dream coming. I love you.

Thank you Terry for sharing your thoughts!  Please keep watching for the answer to this question, and PLEASE-PLEASE-PRETTY PLEASE subscribe & follow The Next Half.

Take This Brief Test to Determine if you are a JERK Or In A Relationship with One!

Photo from http://www.forfreepsychology.wordpress.com

I want us to talk about a very challenge and difficult group of people who are prevalent in society, and often in places of authority.  And if you are very unfortunate you may be in a close working or personal relationship with them.   And when I say difficult or challenging I mean that they hurt you, deceived you, and left you confused.

In everyday life we often crudely refer to these people as a bitch or asshole.  If you take the higher ground then you may simply call them a jerk, challenging, or difficult.  The type of people I want to talk about are also often referred to as ego maniacs, but there is a clinical term for them.  The clinical term for what I want us to talk about is narcissism or narcissistic.

Sharon Greenthal of The Huffington Post gives us a few symptoms and a brief description:

 Some of the symptoms of narcissism include:

  • Believing that you’re better than others
  • Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  • Exaggerating achievements or talents
  • Expecting constant praise and admiration
  • Believing you’re special and acting accordingly

I realize that what I’m about to say seems overly dramatic, but I want you to know that few people on earth can destroy your self-esteem, make your life chaotic, and hurt you like the moderate to extreme narcissist.  It is very important to know that you will not win an argument with them, because they have no problem “hitting below the belt” or lying to make a point or get out of trouble.  And they won’t hesitate to crush you with direct insults that may have nothing to do with the argument.  The following paragraph explains their anger like this:

The anger of narcissists…can be more demeaning. Their criticism evolves from their conviction that others don’t meet their lofty standards-or worse, aren’t letting them get their own way. “Narcissistic injuries,” or wounds to the ego, often pave the way for narcissistic rages, which can be passive-aggressive or planned out, as well as sudden. They are above you and you have displeased them and probably deserve punishment they will dole out. – Psychology Today

You must understand that life is all about them!  They want all the attention, all the love, and will do whatever it takes to get it. They will make you believe that they care about you if you feed their ego, but you must know they never get full from swallowing compliments and accolades.  In fact, like vodka tonics to an alcoholic, the more they get–the more they want.  In other words, they will suck the life out of you!

I think you get the point, a moderate to high level narcissist will make life difficult for everyone.  So now comes the difficult question of the day, “Are you a narcissist?”  The answer is likely yes on some level.  There are definitely levels of narcissism, which Dr. Drew Pinsky discusses in his book, “The Mirror Effect.”  He also designed a test for us to see just how narcissistic we may be, which I have copied and pasted below from USAToday.  It will also help you evaluate the level of narcissism you may be dealing with that person you recently referred to as an asshole!  Because if they are at a high level and refuse to get help you may need to make some difficult decision…unless you enjoy living in hell.  It will also help each of us determine if we need to do a little work on ourselves.

So let’s do this, we can all take the test and then come back tomorrow to discuss the results.  And for those of us in midlife I want to say that I believe that the higher the score…the more difficult growing older will be us.  I will explain more tomorrow, but it is very interesting.  So since I’m asking you to take the test it is only fair that I go first.  My score was 10, which I believe means I wasn’t completely honest with myself!  As you will see, there are only two options and sometimes you must pick the best of the worst (in my opinion).  So I’m guessing I’m closer to 12-14.  If you obtain a high score don’t panic and label yourself a jerk…the results would need to be looked at more closely.  Don’t get me wrong, you might be a jerk, but I just don’t want you to jump to that conclusion (insert goofy smiley face here).  Please share your results and comments!

The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (Choose the statement that best describes you):

1. A. I have a natural talent for influencing people.
B. I am not good at influencing people.

2. A. Modesty doesn’t become me.
B. I am essentially a modest person.

3. A. I would do almost anything on a dare.
B. I tend to be a fairly cautious person.

4. A. When people compliment me I sometimes get embarrassed.
B. I know that I am good because everybody keeps telling me so.

5. A. The thought of ruling the world frightens the hell out of me.
B. If I ruled the world it would be a better place.

6. A. I can usually talk my way out of anything.
B. I try to accept the consequences of my behavior.

7. A. I prefer to blend in with the crowd.
B. I like to be the center of attention.

8. A. I will be a success.
B. I am not too concerned about success.

9. A. I am no better or worse than most people.
B. I think I am a special person.

10. A. I am not sure if I would make a good leader.
B. I see myself as a good leader.

11. A. I am assertive.
B. I wish I were more assertive.

12. A. I like to have authority over other people.
B. I don’t mind following orders.

13. A. I find it easy to manipulate people.
B. I don’t like it when I find myself manipulating people.

14. A. I insist upon getting the respect that is due me.
B. I usually get the respect that I deserve.

15. A. I don’t particularly like to show off my body.
B. I like to show off my body.

16. A. I can read people like a book.
B. People are sometimes hard to understand.

17. A. If I feel competent I am willing to take responsibility for making decisions.
B. I like to take responsibility for making decisions.

18. A. I just want to be reasonably happy.
B. I want to amount to something in the eyes of the world.

19. A. My body is nothing special.
B. I like to look at my body.

20. A. I try not to be a show off.
B. I will usually show off if I get the chance.

21. A. I always know what I am doing.
B. Sometimes I am not sure of what I am doing.

22. A. I sometimes depend on people to get things done.
B. I rarely depend on anyone else to get things done.

23. A. Sometimes I tell good stories.
B. Everybody likes to hear my stories.

24. A. I expect a great deal from other people.
B. I like to do things for other people.

25. A. I will never be satisfied until I get all that I deserve.
B. I take my satisfactions as they come.

26. A. Compliments embarrass me.
B. I like to be complimented.

27. A. I have a strong will to power.
B. Power for its own sake doesn’t interest me.

28. A. I don’t care about new fads and fashions.
B. I like to start new fads and fashions.

29. A. I like to look at myself in the mirror.
B. I am not particularly interested in looking at myself in the mirror.

30. A. I really like to be the center of attention.
B. It makes me uncomfortable to be the center of attention.

31. A. I can live my life in any way I want to.
B. People can’t always live their lives in terms of what they want.

32. A. Being an authority doesn’t mean that much to me.
B. People always seem to recognize my authority.

33. A. I would prefer to be a leader.
B. It makes little difference to me whether I am a leader or not.

34. A. I am going to be a great person.
B. I hope I am going to be successful.

35. A. People sometimes believe what I tell them.
B. I can make anybody believe anything I want them to.

36. A. I am a born leader.
B. Leadership is a quality that takes a long time to develop.

37. A. I wish somebody would someday write my biography.
B. I don’t like people to pry into my life for any reason.

38. A. I get upset when people don’t notice how I look when I go out in public.
B. I don’t mind blending into the crowd when I go out in public.

39. A. I am more capable than other people.
B. There is a lot that I can learn from other people.

40. A. I am much like everybody else.
B. I am an extraordinary person.

SCORING KEY:

Assign one point for each response that matches the key.

1, 2 and 3: A
4, 5: B
6: A
7: B
8: A
9, 10: B
11, 12, 13, 14: A
15: B
16: A
17, 18, 19, 20: B
21: A
22, 23: B
24, 25: A
26: B
27: A
28: B
29, 30, 31: A
32: B
33, 34: A
35. B
36, 37, 38, 39: A
40: B

The average score for the general population is 15.3. The average score for celebrities is 17.8. Pinsky says he scored 16.

Young says it is important to consider which traits are dominant. For example, an overall score that reflects more points on vanity, entitlement, exhibitionism and exploitiveness is more cause for concern than someone who scores high on authority, self-sufficiency and superiority, he says.

The seven component traits by question:

• Authority: 1, 8, 10, 11, 12, 32, 33, 36

• Self-sufficiency: 17, 21, 22, 31, 34, 39

• Superiority: 4, 9, 26, 37, 40

• Exhibitionism: 2, 3, 7, 20, 28, 30, 38

• Exploitativeness: 6, 13, 16, 23, 35

• Vanity: 15, 19, 29

• Entitlement: 5, 14, 18, 24, 25, 27

Here are 2 things you can do today that can bring you happiness and contentment.

mirrorAnswer the following questions:

  1. Who & what do you see when you look in the mirror?
  2. Who & what do you think other people see when they look at you?
  3. Again, who do YOU see in the mirror, and is that really you?

To the right you can see a picture of my wife preparing for a wedding.  When I look at her I see beauty, intelligence, an amazing mother, and a person with an incredible work ethic.  Those are all traits that come to mind when I look at my wife, but what she sees in the mirror is much more important.  And the same is true for you.  You are an incredible person, and you have a lot to offer the world around you, but if you don’t see it then the world lies in waiting.  And you may be missing out on seeing many of your dreams come true.

I’ll be honest, for years I still saw that chubby 12 year-old boy who was made fun of in school.  I still saw that little boy who struggled to make passing grades, couldn’t get a girlfriend, and thought he was stupid.  I’m happy to say that I am doing much better now, but from time to time that chubby boy still shows up.  Yes, even though I have advanced degrees, got my weight under control by 16 years-old, and figured out how to get a hot blonde to marry me…at times I’m the chubby little boy.  And it can be tough to be the man when you see a little boy.  It can be very difficult to live life to the fullest when you don’t believe in yourself, and/or you aren’t even being yourself.

So I want you to give some thought to who you see in the mirror for a couple of reasons:

One, I want you to begin seeing someone wonderfully made.  I realize you may not look like Brad Pitt or his stunning wife Angelina Jolie, but I promise that you were wonderfully made with a purpose.  You can make many of your dreams come true, but you need to believe in yourself.

Secondly, I want you to ask yourself if you are even being yourself.  Many of you reading this and you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond, and you have worked very hard at pleasing everyone else but yourself.  You have been living someone else’s life.  Meaning you have chosen your educational, spiritual, relational, and career paths based on what others thought or you wanted them to think.

How do I know this about many of you?  Because I am just like you!  And so I’m working on picturing and being the real me.  And it can be difficult, because I continually want to pull up images from my past, and equally damning I will ask myself, “but what would____________think?”  Who is in your blank(s)?  Maybe it is time you fill in that blank with your name.

There are TWO Things We all Need: 1-Sex 2-______________

In this podcast I speak with my good friend & nationally syndicated radio host Terry Jaymes about the meaning of life. 

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Questioning God in Midlife

exit-from-crisis-signI spend a lot of time talking about spiritual issues with men and women that are around my age.  And many say that they came to a point where they began to ask their selves if their spiritual beliefs were real.  Meaning, did they truly believe what they said they did about God, or were they simply carrying on a family tradition. So many of us began to dig a little deeper into our spiritual minds, souls, and brains.

It no longer felt right to say we believed something, because mommy, daddy, and the preacher said it was true.  And what about the bible?  Do we really believe that all of mankind is cursed with illness, death, and sin because a woman listened to a talking snake and then ate a piece of fruit? Would God really send a flood that would kill moms, babies, and everyone else by drowning them, but spare Noah who ended up getting drunk and having sex with his own daughter?

It was strange to me, because when I was a pastor I didn’t often think about those questions, and if I did I would simply say, “Gods ways are not our ways.”  Translation for that is, “I don’t want to look too deep into that question, because I may not like the answer.”  But there came a day when sweeping my questions under the Christian rug didn’t work.  I knew that it would be uncomfortable, but I had to get some real answers and examine my faith.

I realize that for some of you this may sound blasphemous or sinful.  And if you feel that way you will probably hate my blogs, but I hope you will stick around.  My point is not to be critical of scripture by any means, but to say that some of us begin to struggle with just having blind faith.  We can’t ignore the contradictions we see in the bible, the unjust ways in which many suffer, and the lack of integrity among the many that profess to have great faith.  For some they can just continue on, and pretend that none of the above exists, and others will need more clarity.  I was one who took the leap, and what I was about to learn would literally scare the hell out of me.

My leap of faith or leap into the lack of faith started by reading everything I could that was written by…ready for it…atheist or agnostics.  And I watched YouTube videos of Christopher Hitchens & Richard Dawkins attempting to discredit scripture and creationism. I downloaded podcasts from former pastors who now consider themselves to be “deconverted.”  And before I give you my thoughts on these interesting characters let me backup.  I want to tell you one of the things that really made me want to take a look at the other side of the holy hedges.

I work with a young man that is absolutely the nicest guy you could ever meet.  He is always polite, thoughtful, respectful, and has an incredible work ethic.  He is faithful to his wife, and loves her dearly.  In Christian terms you would say he seems to walk in the spirit of God…a very positive energy surrounds him.  And he is from part of the “bible belt” so I just assumed he was a Christian.  WRONG!  I was in a conversation with one of his close friends that informed me that Mr. Nice Guy is an agnostic.  I was shocked!  Because I was well into my adult years thinking most atheist and agnostics were people who never smiled and were miserable.  And this guy was far from miserable.  In fact he seems so happy that it can be annoying!  So how could someone who didn’t believe in Christ be more Christlike than most Christian people I know (including me)?  How can someone give off the Holy Spirit vibe if they don’t have him, she, or it?  At one time in my life I had preached that these people were lost and living in darkness, and now I wanted to see if they had actually been the ones to “see the light!”

In my upcoming blog posts I will share with you where this journey has lead me in my faith.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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