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Distractions Causing Distance [From God]: Day 4—You are what you eat!

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Introduction: 

Welcome to the fourth and final day of “Distractions Causing Distance [From God]!” So far, we have learned about God’s free and freeing love, eliminated worry, and disconnected from the things that take away all of our time (See the other three days by clicking here!). Now we are going to tackle our third and final distraction–you are what you eat!

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Devotion: 

Distraction #3: You are what you eat!

Don’t worry, this isn’t health 101 where I judge you for your vice in the kitchen. Quite honestly, I don’t do as well as I should when it comes to eating right–whether we’re referring to physical food or mental food. 

While I was meditating on this topic, I John 2:15-16 NLT became the focal point of my devotion. It says, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”

So what is the Bible telling us? Does this mean we cannot enjoy the pleasures of this world? Of course we can! In fact, God desires that we laugh, eat, and enjoy life! So what is the Bible saying? The Bible is telling us to avoid becoming enamored with the physical pleasures of this world. In other words, we should pursue our purpose in God and the upbuilding of His kingdom. Though enticing, pursuing physical pleasures distracts us from achieving what God wants us to achieve and drives a wedge between our relationship with Him. 

My moment of self-reflection

In my moment of self-reflection, I realized while I am distracted by my continuous craving for/pursuit of the physical pleasures of this world (like great food, accolades, keeping up with the Joneses, and being the “first to know”) I could be praying in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion–staying alert and being persistent in my prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18 NLT). While I am constantly seeking to obtain my oral fixation, I could be doing what Jesus instructs us to do in Mark 9:29 when He healed the boy that was possessed. That is fast, pray, and meditate on Christ. While I am constantly feasting on the negativity of the media, I could be “Fixing [my] thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think[ing] about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 NLT

What we eat, becomes who we are. 

The “old folks” used to say, “you are what you eat.” In other words, choosing to enjoy healthy physical and mental food increases energy and brain function, and it improves your overall mood. 

But what happens when you feast on negativity? It leads to the following in the spiritual realm:

  • Indigestion: We reject wise advice and biblical teachings and turn to “strange doctrines” for hope and guidance.
  • Heartburn: Our hearts are burning with anger, rage, and hatred for others instead of burning with compassion for the poor, widowed, and sick.
  • Diarrhea of the mouth: Instead of being silent and patient, we are quick to vent our anger/frustration and our disdain for others but slow to talk to God.

I Corinthians 6:12 NLT does an excellent job of summarizing this last point by saying “You say, I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.” We must choose to avoid becoming a slave to our appetites! Let’s pledge to make sound choices with the physical and spiritual food that we enjoy. 

I am confident that if we apply the basic principles that we have discussed the last few days and avoid these distractions, we will begin to live more healthy and whole lives, build better relationships, and most importantly, draw closer to God. I am excited and proud that we serve a God that can be described like this: “there’s no shadow He won’t light up, no mountain He won’t climb up coming after me. There’s no wall He won’t kick down, no lie He won’t tear down coming after me!” I said all of that to say, with all of our daily distractions, our loving Father is still there, waiting on us to reconnect with Him. So my question to you is, will you defeat these distractions and reconnect with God?

Prayer:

Father, we honor you, we praise you, and we thank you for your Word. Thank you for being a great God! Now Father we pray that over the next few days, weeks, and months we become less distracted with our daily lives, and more focused on you. And ultimately Father, we pray that everyone reading these words can feel your unfailing, unwavering, and never ending love. We magnify your Holy and Righteous name. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Thank you for reading! have a wonderful week!

Did you enjoy this? Check out https://parent-child-connect.com/blog/ for more great content like this!

Want to study and learn more about God? I believe the YouVersion App is an excellent resource!

Reckless Love (Live with story) – Cory Asbury | Heaven Come 2017
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Distractions Causing Distance [From God]: Day 3—Disconnect!

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Introduction: 

Welcome to day three of “Distractions Causing Distance [From God]!” In yesterday’s devotion, we discussed how how to defeat worry! Today, we will introduce our second distraction–the need to disconnect.

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Devotion

Distraction #2: Need to Disconnect

Now that we are free from condemnation and we have kicked worry to the curb, let’s talk about another distraction that becomes more complicated everyday. A lot of us are distracted by the need to disconnect. 

So I had to do some self-reflection to prepare for this one, and I ask you to join me. Take out your phone, tablet, or whatever device you use, and list out all the applications that take time from your day. My list went like this: Instagram, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, XBox Live, Zoom, Marco Polo, GroupMe, LinkedIn, news app, weather bug app, and Gmail. Wow! 

That was alarming to me because there are still only 24 hours in a day (and I spend about 16 of them either sleeping or working)! With that in mind, I felt a little better because my research told me that I am not alone. In fact, a recent study showed that the average American checks their phone 96 times a day or once every ten minutes. To compound this issue, social distancing and quarantines have given us an even more insatiable desire to remain connected and socialize.

It is very apparent how this distraction has caused distance, because, as I said before, there are still 24 hours in a day!  

So how do we disconnect so that we can focus on God? Well, I will start by saying, we talk/socialize too much and oftentimes, it is done in the wrong way. 

The right to speak is important; saying things at the right time in the right manner is even more important. Proverbs 13:3 says, “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” 

So how do we defeat this distraction? 

  1. Watch your words. Words matter because words mean things. Proverbs 15:1 NLT “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” 
  2. Say less. Connect less. Be Wise. (Proverbs 17:27 NLT) “A truly wise person uses few words…”
    • Words are like dollar bills. They should be spent wisely because we cannot take them back. Yep, that means even on social media…especially on social media! I am not saying we should not socialize/connect, but when done in excess, it drives a wedge between us and God. Simply put, we just don’t have time for God.
  3. Don’t look like a fool. Mark Twain said it best, “Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” Because we are so connected, we often find ourselves caught in constant debate (most times publicly). Which leads me to the last tip to fight this distraction:
  4. Three T’s to check before you speak: Time… Type… Tone
  • Time: Is it the right time to speak or should you just be quiet?
    • Take inventory. How much of your time have you spent socializing in comparison to growing your relationship with God?
  • Type: Ephesians 4:29 NLT says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
    • What kind of Conversations are you having? Are you giving encouraging words to everyone you encounter? 
  • Tone: Are you addressing the situation in the best manner possible? Are you using the “gentle answer” described in Proverbs 15:1?

Think about these things and challenge yourself to disconnect from the rush, rat race, and rigmarole of life. Disconnect from distractions so you can reconnect and build a healthy relationship with God.

Prayer:

Father, thank you for your grace, mercy, and kindness towards us. We realize that busyness, drama, and life circumstances constantly pull us away from you, and for that, we apologize. Father, give us the strength, wisdom, and wherewithal to disconnect from the many daily distractions we encounter so we can connect to you. Thank you for continuing to love us! In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Day 4!

Did you enjoy this? Check out https://parent-child-connect.com/blog/ for more great content like this!

Want to study and learn more about God? I believe the YouVersion App is an excellent resource!

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Distractions Causing Distance [From God]: Day 2—Worry!

On the go? Listen to the audio version of “Distractions Causing Distance [From God]: Day 2—Worry!”

Introduction

Welcome to day two of “Distractions Causing Distance [From God]!” In yesterday’s devotion, we discussed how God’s love causes us to be free! Today, we will introduce our first distraction–worry.

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Distractions Causing Distance [From God]: Day 2—Worry!

Devotion

Distraction #1: Worry!

“Will my family get sick? Am I doing all I can? What will we eat? What do others think about me?…” If we are honest, some of our minds continuously reverberate with these kinds of questions daily! The second our feet touch the cold or carpeted floor in our bedrooms, our minds begin to race. Usually this race persists until we finally return to bed at the end of the day. The unfortunate truth is our minds naturally dwell on difficulty and troubles which distract us from the important things in life like developing our relationship with God, family, and friends! So let’s take down our first distraction–worry.

When I began meditating on this topic, three scriptures immediately came to mind. First was Matthew 6:27 NLT that asked, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Then, Proverbs 12:25 NLT reminded me that “worry weighs a person down.” Lastly, Jesus told us in Matthew 6:34 NLT “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

The Word is abundantly clear about worry, and we all know that increased worry causes increased anxiety which causes increased mental and physical health concerns…So why do we worry? Why don’t we simply adopt Timon and Pumbaa’s slogan and lifestyle? You know, Hakuna Matata!

Well, I will start by sharing how I [falsely] justified my worry: 

  1. A little worry combined with fear is my instinctual way of emotionally preparing for the worst outcome. I am like a gazelle on a Safari! My worry and fear keeps me from being consumed by the lion (life). Right? WRONG. Along with the increased physical and mental health risks, worry was increasing my paranoia. Simply put, my physical presence was not a “gift” to my heavenly Father, family, friends, and work colleagues because I was so busy worrying about being consumed by life that I was not building healthy relationships and enjoying life! 
  2. My worry allowed me to thoroughly analyze a situation to develop a well-rounded solution. Solid logic right? WRONG. Worry primarily focuses on the “difficulties and troubles” (negatives) associated with a situation; thus, my perception and analysis is skewed to focus solely on the negative outcomes. 

Those are my [busted] myths associated with my worry. Take some time to examine your own myths… then bust them! 

Now that the jig is up and we have eliminated our excuses to worry, let’s answer the million dollar question: “How do we combat worry?”

The million dollar answer is that we must fully understand and appreciate this fact: You are what you THINK!

You are what you THINK!

A fairly recent study following tens of thousands of people found that those who were optimistic had a significantly lower risk of dying from several major causes of death, including: heart disease, stroke, cancer (including breast, ovarian, lung, and colorectal cancers), infection, and respiratory diseases.

Sounds like a pretty clear answer to Matthew 6:27!

The study concluded that several proven benefits of thinking positively include:

  • Better quality of life
  • Higher energy levels
  • Better psychological and physical health
  • Faster recovery from injury or illness
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Better stress management and coping skills
  • Longer life span

I’ll take the benefits please!

Now that we understand the importance of positive thinking, how do we put it into practice?

1. Make a concerted effort to focus on positive things.

This is a tough one for us because sometimes you just want to sulk. In my personal life, I found a way to justify sulking. I felt that I deserved to be frustrated and disappointed! “Coincidentally” my Pastor emailed me to remind me that though the overall circumstance may appear to be negative, I can choose to dwell on the negative aspects of the circumstance or fix my thoughts on the positives. Yep, it is a choice! 

Try this!  Write down three positive things about your current circumstance! Even if the list starts with “I am breathing,” celebrate the fact that you are still alive with an opportunity to make it through this circumstance with an amazing story to tell! 

2. Practice gratitude.

Practicing gratitude has been proven to reduce stress, increase your self-esteem and the self-esteem of those around you, and foster resilience amongst you and your inner-circle. Every day, find no less than three things to thank God for (and thank Him) and find no less than three things to thank others for (and thank them). When offered an opportunity to complain and criticize, thank! When you think of the positives, thank for the positives. 

When you think of the positives, thank for the positives. 

3. Now that you have recognized and shown gratitude for the positives, create and maintain a gratitude log.

Label it, “People and Things I am grateful for.” I know. I know. It sounds corny, but it works! Maintain your log in a place you visit often, and keep focusing on that growing list.

4. Open yourself up to humor.

Laugh a little! I heard someone once say,  “if you’re happy and you know it, tell your face.” We cannot allow life to beat us down so much that we walk around like a bulldog eating lemonheads (just picture that for a second–maybe that was your laugh for today). Take out time to enjoy the pleasures of life. God has always intended for us to enjoy the pleasures of life. I mean, think about how beautiful the Garden of Eden was! We were designed to be happy. So take a second, look in a mirror (or prepare for a selfie with your electronic device), and make the biggest smile you can! Now let the brightness of that smile, your positive thoughts, and your attitude of gratitude melt the negativity away! 

5. Check your inner-circle!

You are who you hang with. In the country, the old folks would say “if you hang with stray dogs, you may catch fleas!” Spend time with Positive Paulas versus Debbie Downers. Think back to my story about my Pastor. Had he begun to sulk with me and feed my negative thoughts and emotions, I may not have survived that circumstance. Remember this, Debbie Downers wallow in defeat, while Positive Paulas bask in triumph!

6. Start off on a positive note by practicing positive self-talk!

Instead of beginning with worry, begin with a prayer, devotion, meditation, and affirmation or declaration that you will have a positive day. Then carry that declaration with you throughout the day. As you walk into a situation that appears negative, say to yourself (or aloud if you’d like) I will see the positive in this! Still have that mirror or selfie handy? Let’s try this right now! Smile, say something positive about yourself, and make the declaration that, “I will see the positive in every situation!”

I believe that these steps will not only eliminate worry, but these steps will also foster a more healthy relationship with God and everyone you come in contact with! 

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to see another day and meditate on your Word. You are truly our source of happiness and strength. We pray for your forgiveness for failing to see your beauty in every circumstance, and we ask you to help us to fix our thoughts on you! In Jesus’ name. Amen 

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Day 3!

Did you enjoy this? Check out https://parent-child-connect.com/blog/ for more great content like this!

Want to study and learn more about God? I believe the YouVersion App is an excellent resource!

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Distractions Causing Distance [From God]: Day 1—Be Free!

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Introduction: 

I wrote this devotion early last year, and now I want to share it with you! Be blessed! There is no greater oxymoron for people-loving extroverts (like me) than “social distancing!” Society has adopted this methodology to keep us safe, but I—like most—miss sharing the love of God through a warm embrace. 

What if I told you that there is a type of “distancing” that [ironically] can actually cause us harm? That is a distant relationship with our heavenly Father. 

There is hope! Join us in this four-day devotion as we discuss how to defeat three daily distractions that distance us from Christ!

Devotion: 

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Distractions Causing Distance [From God]: Day 1–Be Free!

Be Free from Condemnation!

We are currently living in unprecedented times! We have wildfires, a pandemic, social unrest, and the list goes on and on. During these times we may feel a bit distant from Christ—I know I have felt that way plenty of times. In fact, there were times that I felt I really wandered away from Christ! Is that you right now? Do you feel like you are too far gone to pray? Are you so overwhelmed with your guilt and shame that you cannot feel the love of God? Are you having a hard time connecting through God’s Word because of mistakes you have made? I understand; I have been there.

The last time I was in that moment—sulking in embarrassment and guilt—God freed me through His Word by reminding me of His grace, love, and compassion. So I have a quick opening message for you even if you are feeling distant right now—our heavenly Father loves you unconditionally, and He still wants a relationship with you! 

Before we can learn to defeat distractions, we must be free from our own condemnation (very strong disapproval; punishment) and truly understand and embrace God’s love for us. Let’s talk about God’s love for a bit.

God’s love is free(ing):

Ephesians 2:8 AMP tells us, “For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God.”

I absolutely love free stuff! I know most people call me cheap, but don’t judge me. For example, one day while I was in college, I ordered food at a drive-thru restaurant. I was very excited to get my go-to college student value meal. When I approached the window to pay, the young lady said, “Your meal has already been paid for.” I would’ve done a flip in excitement if I were skilled enough to do so without injuring myself. “Wow!” I thought, “Why would a stranger give me a free gift?” 

When I reminisce on that day, I realize how happy that free meal made me (I saved about $3), but when I think about the free gift that Christ gave us (He saved my life) exuberant joy begins to overwhelm me. You know what’s amazing? Christ gave us this free gift because He loves us and this undeserved gift frees us from the oppression (control) and judgment associated with sin. Now that’s a double-double to get excited about! So don’t beat yourself up when you mess up. Ask God for forgiveness, brush yourself off, and be free! 

God’s love is unexplainable:

John 10:11-18 reminds us that our heavenly Father has given us an unexplainable (and seemingly illogical) love. Imagine this, you are sitting in an open field watching sheep. The weather is beautiful, and you are basking in the sun while enjoying an ice-cold cup of lemonade. Out of nowhere, a wolf comes to take one of the one hundred sheep you are watching! I know what you are thinking, “well, 99% isn’t bad!”  I mean really, who wants to fight a wolf for that one sheep? The Good Shepherd does. 

He is always willing to lay down his life for us and will even leave the ninety-nine to save the one [wandering] sheep (Matthew 18:12)! My human mind cannot comprehend that kind of love, but I am extremely grateful that Christ is willing to sacrifice for you and me!

God’s love is unconditional:

Now this aspect of God’s love is truly amazing! We humans tend to have a limit when dealing with others. “You better not cross my [proverbial] line or it is over…dead…finito. You will henceforth and forever be excommunicated from my life!” Yep, God is definitely not like us, and here comes the amazing part: in God’s eyes nothing can separate us from His love! 

Paul asks in Romans 8:35 NLT, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” Then he answers in verse 39, “No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Read it again! No matter where you are from or what you have done, nothing can separate you from the love of God! 

Walk confidently today as you embrace God’s amazing grace and love! Never again condemn yourself for your mistakes—instead embrace the free, unexplainable, and unconditional love of our heavenly Father!

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for the free, unconditional love that you have given us. Though we can never truly comprehend it, we know that your love and grace is what allows us to be free from the crushing oppression of sin. Father, please forgive me for the things I have done that were not pleasing to you, and help me to overcome the temptations that arise today. Father, thank you for removing the guilt, shame, and condemnation from my life and preparing me to grow closer to you. Amen. 

Thanks for reading! We will see you tomorrow for Day 2: Worry!

Did you enjoy this? Check out https://parent-child-connect.com/blog/ for more great content like this!

Want to study and learn more about God? I believe the YouVersion App is an excellent resource!

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Chasing purpose is better than chasing success.

Happy Monday folks! As with every move, we find ourselves settling in our new neighborhood and searching for a church home. During our church visit yesterday, the lead pastor at Catalyst Church talked about finding our purpose. His sermon resonated with me and sparked this motivational quote on success:

Chasing success leads to disappointment. Chasing purpose leads to fulfillment.

Olaolu Ogunyemi

Allow me to use this metaphor to explain my thoughts: imagine you are a field goal kicker that your favorite football team recruited to kick long field goals. At practice, your coach pushes you hard to be the best you can be. As a part of his training regimen, he establishes a rule that he will move the field goal post back five yards each week. You attempt several kicks at every practice. After two months, you have found that your kicks have been consistently aligned yet five yards short of the field goal post.

Think about it. You have been extremely disappointed for the last two months if you have been solely focused on successfully kicking the ball through the field goal post. I call this success oriented. However, if you have been focused on your purpose (kicking long field goals), you would be celebrating the fact that you have consistently improved by adding an additional thirty-five yards to your original kick. I call this purpose oriented.

As goes life. We all have a reason for living that is greater than simply existing (purpose), and our daily actions either contribute to or detract from that purpose. We bring unique value and skills to those around us. Therefore, we can choose to obsess over achieving tangible results, or we can gain satisfaction in the daily pursuit of our purpose.

Have a great week!

Author’s note: I want to encourage you to live on purpose (what you do to maintain peak physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health) while pursuing your purpose (your reason for being on this earth). I believe your purpose aligns with what inspires you. As I stated in “How to shift your perspective and live a better life TODAY!,” there are three quick questions to ask yourself to find what inspires you. The intersection of these answers will reveal your inspiration.:

  1. What activities, thoughts, or passions energize me?
  2. What are my greatest strengths?
  3. What value do I bring to those around me (hint: we all bring value to those around us)?

Have a long-term focus and celebrate daily progress. You can do it!

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer| Mentor | Best-selling Author
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Quick Parent Tip: Father’s Day Edition (Reblog)

Happy Father’s Day to all my Dads out there! We celebrate your accomplishments, sacrifices, and love today!

Let’s dive straight into today’s encouraging Quick Parent Tip for this Father’s Day weekend:

Fight for your family.

You are your family’s physical, mental, and spiritual protector. Embrace it. Fight for peace in your home and for your family’s unity and mental stability. Never stop fighting! You got this because you are not alone. I believe in you!

Accept responsibility.

You are responsible for everything that happens and fails to happen in your home. Let me be the first to tell you that this is both an honor and a burden. Regardless, keep pressing! Accept your responsibility willingly and take pride in being the leader of your home. Keep making decisions with your family’s best interest in mind.

Teach your family.

You are a great teacher and mentor for your family. You have the wisdom, knowledge, and experience to do it; just believe in yourself! Remember, more is caught than taught, so continue to set the example with your words and actions.

Hearing vs listening.

We all do it. We look up, see someone’s lips moving, and realize they have been talking to us the entire time. It’s ok. Next time, engage in active communication. Hearing is passive (i.e. your ears recognize a sound); however, listening is active. So be actively engaged in conversations today. Ask questions, nod along, mirror body language, and share the moment!

Elevate your perception of your contributions.

I know you are working your butt off, and oftentimes, it feels like it goes unnoticed. I want to encourage you to keep doing it. Your hard work, decisions, love, protection, and care are definitely making a difference. Even if no one else celebrates you this weekend, I am celebrating you right now! Great job brother! You are doing exactly what you need to be doing!

Relax and recover.

Take some time to focus on the positives–the great things you have done for your family! You have done (and continue to do) what many have turned away from. Rest well knowing that your impact is felt by more than those in your household. Society is indebted to you.

Thank you for your hard work, commitment, and sacrifices! Happy Father’s Day!

For those reading this who are not fathers, please take some time to thank a father this weekend. I promise you it means a lot!

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer | Mentor | Best-selling Author
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Embrace where you are!

One of the best parts about visiting my hometown is stopping by some of the places that brought me wonderful memories. I guess you could say I am often overcome with acute nostalgia. One place I always like to visit is my old job that I worked during my college days. This time around, I reflected not only on the fun times I had and the great people I met but on the lessons I learned that I still apply today. The best way to describe my time there is to borrow a quote from Charles Dickens: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Regardless, the biggest lesson I learned was to embrace where you are because there is a lesson in everything. I learned some lifelong lessons:

Embrace Servitude.

Although my name tag introduced me as a “server,” I absolutely hated that label. I preferred to be called a “waiter” because “server” felt degrading, demeaning, and humiliating. I often quipped, “I work and study hard, so I am no one’s servant!” It wasn’t until later that I truly understood and began to appreciate how important servitude is. In fact, I learned that servitude is one of every successful organization’s core values, and it is one of each inspirational leader’s foundational principles. Servitude is not about degrading the servant’s self-esteem as I previously believed; instead, it is about putting another’s needs before your own to create an environment where everyone can grow, develop, and thrive. Serving others is an honor.

Servitude is not about degrading the servant’s self-esteem as I previously believed; instead, it is about putting another’s needs before your own to create an environment where everyone can grow, develop, and thrive.

Embrace Humility.

I always considered myself a hard-working guy who does not mind getting dirty. Like seriously, I worked on a chicken farm in high school. I always envisioned I would use that blue-collar mentality to become the leader known for rolling up his sleeves and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his constituents to get the job done.

Even so, there was a part of my job as a server that completely humbled me–“crab leg night.” On “crab leg night,” we added crab legs and other seafood items to the buffet. Aside from holidays like Mother’s Day, these were by far the busiest shifts. Of course there was nothing wrong with “crab leg night” in general; however, some customers really tested how far my attitude of servitude would stretch!

They tested my humility!

Customers complained about prices, questioned me about the quality of the food, threw crab legs on the floor, left a $0.27 tip, and truly tested my humility. Even so, I had to question why I was getting frustrated with these type of customers who made up a very small percentage of the customers I served. My conclusion was that I was frustrated because I felt this kind of work was “beneath me.” That was a red flag because it was contradictory to my can do, blue-collar philosophy. That day I took an oath to never allow myself to become so consumed by my own self-worth that I am unable to willingly and cheerfully serve others.

Embrace Forgiveness.

Remember those busy “crab leg nights” I mentioned? Funny story: I actually made a pretty big mistake during one of the busiest crab leg nights I’ve ever worked. I remember it like it was yesterday: the team and I were working hard to keep customers satisfied–refilling drinks, busing tables, serving orders etc.

Well, it was my turn to make some more sweet tea. As I had done numerous times before, I grabbed two buckets and headed to grab sugar. The first container I opened was completely empty, so I quickly moved on to the second container. Once I opened the second container, I observed the white granular content within and proceeded to scoop it into my buckets. About five minutes later, one customer stopped me to tell me her tea did not taste right… Then another… Then another.

I made a huge mistake.

Before long, everyone in the restaurant who previously had a taste for sweet tea was now waving their glass in the air while making a disgusted face. I am sure it was only about four or five customers, but to me, it seemed like the entire restaurant was about to start a riot. That is when one of the customers yelled, “this is salty, and I’m a diabetic!” If you haven’t figured it out by now, I put about two giant scoops of salt in the “sweet tea.” I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t tasted it myself. It reminded me of my first time wrestling with my brothers in the Atlantic Ocean.

My face when I realized what I did 😂

Several customers requested free meals and other accomodations to make up for their salty surprise. As expected, the manager on duty (and owner) was not very happy with me. I later walked in her office fully expecting to be written up and charged for several meals for this mistake. Instead, she asked me what happened, then told me to be more careful in the future.

She forgave me for what should have been an easily-avoidable mistake and inadvertently taught me a lesson about forgiveness. You can win more people over by forgiving them than administering the punishment they know they deserve. I was bought in from that day, and I did my best to represent myself and the company well throughout each interaction. Her forgiveness earned my loyalty and respect.

You can win more people over by forgiving them than administering the punishment they know they deserve.

Embrace Hard work.

Gordon B. Hinckley has a quote that has resonated with me: “without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” I believe I relate to this quote because I have literally spent countless hours pulling weeds while doing yard work. I also metaphorically understand how much we grow and develop from each of our experiences. When I was working as a server, I learned that my work ethic had a direct correlation with my success. There was nothing like walking around for a few hours while ensuring each of my customers had a pleasant experience. My customers’ smiles, words of encouragement, tips, and appreciation gave me a sense of accomplishment each. Pretty soon, I began to crave that feeling of accomplishment and it became one of my driving forces each day. Work hard and grow!

Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.

Gordon B. Hinckley

Embrace Sacrifice.

One of my least favorite parts about working at Peking was missing my little brother’s and oldest nephew’s basketball games. It annoyed me so much that I considered just not showing up to work a couple of times. These thoughts were usually short-lived when I remembered I had bills to pay, but more importantly, I accepted that life often presents us opportunities to accept temporary discomfort for long-term results.

I accepted that life often presents us opportunities to accept temporary discomfort for long-term results.

I knew my time at Peking would be short-lived, but I had to remain focused on why I was working there in the first place and how much I was growing in the process. Though I sacrificed quite a bit of my social life, I gained the financial stability I needed to prepare me for life after college which included marriage, children, and starting a career. All of the lessons I learned and the sacrifices I made during this time in my life came to head and made me the man I am today. Although I remain a work in progress, I am grateful that I chose to embrace my time as a server, and I implore you to embrace where you are today. You can and will grow from this!

That was my experience, but what have you learned from your past experiences? What can you learn as you embrace where you are now?

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer | Mentor | Best-selling Author

Check out my blog at https://parent-child-connect.com/blog for more great posts like this!

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How do you Respond to Rejection and Failure?

IMAGINE THIS: You are a basketball player preparing for your first big game in a month. You are not the best shooter on the team, but you have accepted your role as the slasher–the one who zips past the defender to finish at the rim every time. That means your go-to scoring method is the highest percentage shot on the court, the layup.

In the month leading up to your game, you have practiced numerous creative ways to score your layup regardless of how the defender responds. You have rehearsed several countermoves, completed over 1,000 layups, and done countless scenario-based drills to include scoring through contact and making midair adjustments. Saying you adequately prepared to score during your big game is a severe understatement.

Game Day!

It’s game day, and you are having a phenomenal 30-point game doing what you do best. You could not be more confident as the game nears the end. It is now the fourth quarter with ten seconds left; your team is losing by two points. As expected, your team passes the ball to you–the slasher–to score the ball and send the game into overtime. You make an exceptionally elusive move to pass your initial defender.

As you drive to the hoop, you see another defender appear in your peripheral vision. You smirk because this is one of the drills you have rehearsed numerous times, so you are expecting the defender to make contact, foul, and send you to the free throw line to attempt an extra point after you score your layup. First you jump, then the defender jumps. You make a nice, midair adjustment and release the ball close to the rim. Without touching you, the defender swats the ball to the other end of the court. “Rejection!” The commentator yells, “…and that’s the game!” You retreat to the locker room as the crowd erupts in excitement.

Have you ever been there?

Not everyone is an athlete, but we all have experienced some form of rejection and failure. Rejection and failure sting a little more when we feel we were fully prepared to succeed. I believe we usually do an excellent job preparing to succeed but very rarely do we adequately prepare for rejection or failure.

Those who know me know that I view rejection and failure as opportunities. Though we strive to avoid them, we should never fear rejection and failure. One of my favorite quotes from Michael Jordan is, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” This leads me to my first point:

Learning how to respond to rejection begins with properly preparing for both success and failure.

Michael Jordan 1997 “Failure” Nike commercial

With all that in mind, I am not suggesting we attempt to fail in our daily endeavors, because like Theodore Lindsey Templeton said on Boss Baby, “aim for failure, and you’ll always succeed.” Instead, I submit that we should aim for success but recognize that failure exists on each side of our target. So when we miss, we should identify where/how the shot impacts the proverbial basketball hoop (target), make the necessary adjustments, and shoot again!

How should we respond to rejection and failure?

Now that the preparation is done, how do we respond to rejection and failure?

Validate your own feelings.

Your feelings are natural, so it is ok to feel an array of emotions when you are rejected. Avoid downplaying your feelings; instead, embrace them, and indulge in some healthy coping activities like taking a walk, listening to music, writing, connecting with friends and/or loved ones, and talking to your counselor (just to name a few).

Identify what (not who) is causing those feelings.

I recognized that focusing on “who” causes animosity, distrust, and conflict with others. This does little to help you adequately respond to rejection and failure; thus, we will maintain an introspective viewpoint. When I feel rejected, I like to use the “5 Whys” business technique that I learned from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_5W.htm. Simply put, you ask “why” five times then develop a countermeasure. Use this tool to your advantage. Let’s use the above basketball scenario as an example:

  • I am sad.
    • Why? (One)
  • I am embarrassed that someone blocked my layup.
    • Why? (Two)
  • I was having such a great game.
    • Why? (Three)
  • I practiced extremely hard to prepare for this game.
    • Why? (Four)
  • This was a really big game.
    • Why? (Five)
  • This was my final opportunity to play in front of my family and friends before the season ended.
    • Countermeasure: I will connect with my family and friends, discuss my feelings when I feel comfortable, and celebrate a great game and fulfilling season.

Shift your PERSPECTIVE.

In a previous blog, I challenged you to maintain laser focus on shifting your perspective in eleven key areas. Learning to shift your perspective in these areas will help you develop the resilience you need to respond to any rejection or failure:

Pressures of life

Energy

Relationships

Seasons

Patience

Endurance

Chance

Time

Inspiration

Victories

Emotions

Learn from it and make the necessary adjustments.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Ask yourself, “what can I learn from this?” Then apply those lessons when you are ready to try again.

Take another shot!

This is one of the most important steps. You will recover from your rejection. Your failure is not final. Go out and win!

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer| Mentor | Best-selling Author

As always, thank you for your support! Like, share, comment, and bring your friends to https://parent-child-connect.com/blog for their own encouragement, hope, and positive messages!

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In case you missed it: Mental Health Monday Discussion with Ashlee B. the Hypnotherapist and Black Connections!

I love joining different platforms to discuss mental health! That’s why I am excited to share my latest conversation with a hypnotherapist, Ashlee, and Sandra at Black Connections! In the first hour, Ashlee and I covered various topics from our unique perspectives to include mental health challenges in the military, proven strategies in hypnotherapy, masculinity and trapped emotions, and more!

Check out the session on the Black Connections Instagram page!

We thought we were done!

As Ashlee and I were wrapping up the first hour (planned), Sandra began to provide new perspectives including the struggles returning citizens face adjusting to life after prison, childhood molestation, children in the foster care system, and more! The unplanned second hour became an hour of release, hope, and encouragement! Check it our for yourself.

Do you prefer reading about mental health?

I have great news for you if you prefer reading about mental health: I offer two FREE downloadable journals at https://parent-child-connect.com/free-resources! Also, I have discussed this topic several times on my blog. Here are a couple of examples for you to get you started: Command your thoughts: Three actionable steps to remove toxic thoughts! and How to shift your perspective and live a better life TODAY!

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer | Mentor | Best-selling author

Thanks for you continued support and encouragement! Please like, comment, and share this post.

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Transparent Post: What I learned from my first one-star review ⭐

Hey folks! I felt it is the perfect time for a transparent post; I received my first one-star review. Specifically, it was a review of my newest book, Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine. Here it is:

At first, I was shocked! “How could someone think so little of something I created,” I thought. For a split second, I even considered pulling the book from the shelves to avoid “further embarrassment.” That’s when it hit me.

Naysayers will be naysayers. Believe in yourself, believe in your mission, and connect with people who can help you fulfill your purpose.

Olaolu Ogunyemi

It is so easy to focus on the negative. We hone in on the people who did not support. We sulk in disappointment when we receive rejection after rejection. We replay the negative feedback (i.e. a one-star review) over and over in our heads. Trust me–I understand!

However, I want to challenge you to change your perspective! Show love and appreciation to your supporters. View your rejections as opportunities to continue to refine your pitch. Use the critiques to improve your craft while allowing the feedback that aligns with your purpose to validate your efforts!

I applied this thought process to my own brand, and I am happy to admit that I have already had the opportunity to read Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine to hundreds of children around the world! Also, amongst the sea of rejection messages, I still receive messages like this:

An email I received yesterday evening

Lastly, here is a review that validated my purpose:

Be encouraged! Rejection is not the end, and negative opinions do not deserve your energy. Continue to push, thrive, and aggressively pursue your purpose!

Thanks for all your support!

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine | Mentor |Best-selling Author

Find more great posts like this one at https://www.parent-child-connect.com/blog