Intentional

Sorry, I have be away for a couple of weeks and for this blog I am going to deviate from the what I said I was going to in my last blog. I will get back to that later but after doing some soul searching I really wanted to get back to why I am starting this blog. And this post has really been tugging on my heart the past couple of days…

In 1988 Ronald Reagan declared October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. He is quoted saying…”When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.” In less than a week Laura Kozel and I should be celebrating Hailey Faith Kozel’s 1st Birthday. But as everyone knows, instead a baking a cake we can only stop by to bring her flowers.

What irks me is how as a society we get so wrapped up in our ‘hectic’ ‘busy’ day to day lives that we completely forget about those around us and what they might be dealing with. As we meet them on the street we have no idea what they are going through, the news they were just told, or where they are headed. I know I am just as guilty as everyone else but I have made it my mission to change that. And yes I am using my experience to hopefully help change our carelessness of others. Not to play poor pitiful me but it seemed like there was a window of 4-6 weeks after we lost Hailey that people cared about how we were doing. And now less than a week away from her first birthday, it remains completely out of sight out of mind for the majority of people. But Laura and I are faced daily with missing one of our children for the rest of our lives here on Earth until we meet her again in Heaven!

Again I am not asking for a pity party, I am not saying that me and my family should be on the forefront of everyones minds everyday. But what I am asking is that today you will challenge yourself to care for others more than yourself. Be intentional about asking how others are doing. Be intentional about praying for others around you. Be intentional about taking a break from your life and show some interest in those around you. I promise it will help make this city, country, and world a better place to live in.

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Your passion meets ‘Intentionality’…

“Setting GOALS is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

Tony Robbins

 Asking “What?” is the bridge between the “Why?” and the “How?” More plainly put once you feel like God is leading you in a certain direction and you decide to take that first step of faith, goals will help guide the ship…

As I portrayed in the last post, imagine yourself standing outside a house and God says “my gift for your life” lies within that house. Before you decide to open that first door, you have to ask yourself “God has told me that what I want is inside, now WHAT I am going to do?“. The answer to this question is will help you take the steps to reach God’s gift for you.

GOALS vs. Dreams

The short phrase for this process is called ‘goal setting’. Goals should be based on your passion and God’s purpose for your life. Goals shouldn’t be dreams. This was always a problem for me. I was always told and reiterated to myself, “Shoot for the moon”. And I would, but I was doing it at the wrong time. Then after I took the first steps and tried to refer to my ‘goals’ they seemed so unattainable and I would give up! This failure could have been easily avoidable by realizing dreams should lead to attainable goals. If you confuse this concept you are doomed for failure just as I was. Once I began to realize the difference, I noticed a lot better follow through.

Make 2 lists…

To help with this confusion, you should make 2 distinct lists: dreams and goals. By doing this, it will help you literally see the difference between the two. Also by having them written down, you can always pause and refer back to your passion (your WHY?) and your goals (your WHAT?) for what you want to accomplish with that passion.

Intentionality

Having goals is the epitome of intentionality. Without goals, you will notice that you just seem to be drifting along in life. When you stop and look at where you are and where you have come from, your get a sense of wasted time and a scary future. I have noticed many times throughout my life. It always seemed to be ‘that one day’ when I decide to reflect. I realized whoa, where am I and why am I here. Then I began to extrapolate that throughout the rest of my life and think I can’t do this forever! I would feel the anxiety and stress begin to build in my chest. To avoid this feeling, I started challenging myself to take some time and make those lists. The helped me realize this is what I love to do, and this is what I hope to do with it. Now when I set my days of reflection, I can check thing off of my list and know exactly where I started, where I stand, and where I plan on going in the future. My challenge & hope for you is that you to take the time to BE INTENTIONAL with your passion and start setting goals today!

What’s coming up…

Next week, I will be finishing up with the initial phase for this blog. I really wanted to start off by getting the WHY, WHAT, and HOW out there. I feel that finding your passion, making goals, and creating an action plan makes you look at life with a more intentional light. I tend to take a top down approach at everything. My thought is let’s looks at the 30,000 ft. bird’s eye view to get our bearings, and then we can drill down and get more specific. So after laying the initial foundation, I plan on getting more into individual topics for your day to day life; communication, faith, etc. and how you can be more intentional in each of those areas of your life.

I know this blog has just begun but I hope it has been beneficial so far. Let me know if you have any feedback or questions! Again my goal for this blog is that I am providing beneficial material to help empower you to live a faith-filled, more intentional life!

Have a blessed weekend!

– Allen

Taking the first step!

‘Pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon man.’

Francis Cardinal Spellman

 I saw this quote and thought of how perfect it is everyday for every aspect of our lives. It also summarizes the path to find your “WHY?” or passion. When you being to intentionally seek out your “WHY?” you should view it as a 3-step process:

1. Listen

2. Take a step of Faith and Act

3. Repeat

The first and most important thing you can do is listen to what God is telling you & where he is leading you. If you aren’t hearing anything you aren’t listening close enough. You really need to take this time to internalize what God is telling you to do. For most of my life, I struggled with finding my true passion as I explained in the last post. It wasn’t until I was intentionally listening (DAILY) to what God was saying to me that I finally began to really see clues and start putting the puzzle together. Without this guidance your search is futile…

Another problem we all have is actually putting action to it! God can tell you all day point blank what but until put your faith to work you put feet to it, nothing will ever happen. That is where I believe the true “faith walk” begins. It is taking those words and telling God “it is obvious you want me to do go in this direction so I am going to have faith that you will open the doors as I begin to step out.” As you begin to take those steps you will notice he will continue to open more doors (if you are headed in the right direction). I do need to disclose that just because you are following him the path isn’t always going to be free and clear. This is the part of the walk that makes you stronger and your faith more resilient. There will be times that you are forced to pause and repeat the process. There also might be times when we need to stop and re-evaluate where we are take more time to listen to him. We might have turned the wrong direction and need to take some time turning around and getting back on his path.

The best way to portray this is that if someone tells you…“I have a gift made specifically for your life but I put it in that house (while you are standing outside). I will give you clues as to which doors to enter but you have to take the first steps.” If you never open the first door you won’t get anywhere. But once you open the main door and take that step God will guide you through the rest of it. And it is not to say that it will come without distractions and obstacles! As you go through the building you will find all sorts of people trying to knock you off the path, tell you to open other doors. But if you continue to LISTEN and ACT on his words, he will lead you.

Start Your Journey by Asking 1 ‘RADICAL’ Question…

“WHY?” Radical isn’t it…?

I read an article the other day titled “Why Generation Y Yuppies are so Unhappy”. That gave me the thought for my first blog on living more intentionally. While I mostly agree with the author, I think the foundation of the problem is that we don’t really know “WHY” we have certain expectations. We are looking around at others first turning out desire for what we believe they have, into “our” expectations. All of this comes before we even question the purpose of our own lives first.

My life started out the same way the author in the article wrote it. I was born in 1985 and to awesome parents. But as many in my generation, I grew up somewhat sheltered since life was good in America during the 80s and 90s. I am sure most of you can remember back to watching “TGIF” on ABC on Friday nights or “One Saturday Morning” to get in your cartoon fix. I grew up with this sense of ‘ahh everything will always be good, without much true effort on on my part’. It all became routine for me as I am sure it did for most of our generation. Then I went off to college just ‘having a good time and living life with following the rest of the herd’. Then for me reality hit quickly once I graduated college…

I got married, got a job and was on my way. Little did I know what God had in store for me. Next thing, I know we had the housing bubble and the stock market plunge. I was laid off unable to find a job. My wife and I ended up moving back in with my parents and I started working as a “pool tech” for the school district where I grew up. To give you a quick picture of what this change looked like…I went from a nice 5th floor office in Plano, TX to cleaning gum and hairballs off of the bottom of 6 high school swimming pools. Most of my working day was spent in a hot & humid pool pump rooms by myself. This instantly made me start asking “WHY?”. That is when my journey to intentional growth began. Asking “WHY?” ignited the engine of curiosity. It caused me to realize that I had these off base expectations all along but what were they really based on??

Fast forward a couple of years later, I felt like I finally worked my way back to where I started a few years earlier. God had blessed me with a new home and a daughter. That is when another curveball was thrown my way. My wife was 17 weeks pregnant with our second daughter. Our midwife suggested we go to see a doctor based on a few issue she started to have with the pregnancy. I remember that day like it was yesterday…it was raining we went into the office and waited for a long while. We finally got in to see the ultrasound tech and the events that ensued was sort of a blur. We were rushed out the door headed to a high-risk doctor downtown that was saying he didn’t think our daughter was going to make it another week. There our family stood in a room alone with our lives turned upside down. Talk about being brought back down to my knees. Just when I thought everything was going well, my life hit the reset button once again. This time the question “WHY?” was more pointed. The next few weeks and months turned into a blur. Everyday I woke up wondering what that day was going to hold. We made many trips to Texas Children’s Hospital. All we had was faith to lean on…no expectations of tomorrow but blessed with each day God gave us with her. My daughter, Hailey Faith, ended up living to 35 weeks and 2 days before being born directly to heaven. It was during this time that I feel like it finally clicked…

All along I hadn’t been intentional in really seeking out God’s “WHY?” or purpose for my life. As a Christian, I always felt like it was a bad thing to ‘question’ things. But I personally disagree with that thought, because I feel that without questioning things you will never have the true heart, meaning, and passion behind your life and understand your “WHY?”. You see once I started asking “WHY?”, I discovered the meaning behind truly being a Christian and why I go to church. Once I had that foundation, God began to reveal his plan for me. You see before all of my expectations were based on what I had seen from others around me. It wasn’t until I really started pursuing the “WHY?” and seeking God’s will for my life did I hit the launch pad for my intentional growth.

To wrap it up, I know we all have struggles/obstacles in our lives and times where we feel ‘stuck’ in the status quo. It isn’t until you start asking “WHY?” that you will really find your meaning and live a more passionate, intentional, and fulling life…