Redefining Normal

First story.

One of my initial inspirations for running marathons came from a book.

In the book, the author described how he ran 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days across all the 50 states of America. 

In this book and other similar books and podcasts that I began to consume, I heard stories of 100 and 200 mile races in all type of weather and terrain. Runners would ascend mountains, traverse the deserts in 130-degree temps and even race cross the South Pole. 

Yes, all of this is insane. But they are true. No, I’m not planning or dreaming of attempting such feats, but if these stories are the extremes, how do I define normal?

To some people, the idea of running for over 4 hours and pounding the ground to cover 26.2 miles is extreme. Maybe a bucket list dream. And thus, their normal in the realm of possibility is much different. 

Next story.

I have a friend named “E”. 

E seems to be a normal guy. He’s married, has four children, has a few side jobs and is also a full time pastor. Because of all of responsibilities he is unable to pray and study his Bible as much as he would like. Like many of us with families, E doesn’t have the time or capacity that he had when he was single. 

Because of these limitations, his prayer/study time is reduced to 3am to 12pm.

Yes, I’m serious. 

Every day, this is his schedule. 8 hours in prayer, devotion and study. And this is a full four hours shorter than his ritual when he was single. (Note, his wife home schools the kids. So he does bring in all the money for his family. He vehicles are paid off, his first home is paid off and is rented out, and his current 5,000 sq ft. that he built has a mortgage of only 25% of its total value. 

This guy inspires me. 

I may never arrive at his level of time and life management nor spiritual dedication, but it does affect what I call normal or possible.


How do you define normal? What do you think is possible?

I don’t aspire perfection, nor do I try to be like my ‘heroes’. I want live out my own life with my own abilities and values. But I do think normal and possible are relative terms.

If we are looking at the middle of pack and comparing ourselves to “average”, we will very likely live relative to an average view of possibility.

Have you heard the phrase: “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”? The people you spend time with and/or what you see and read and assume to be possible will become your reality.

I love this quote, from my client and friend Tracy Spears: ”are you living out of the probabilities or the possibilities?

You have the choice to define for yourself, what’s possible and what’s normal. Today, I encourage you to dream big and choose wisely.

3 Types of Money Problems

Almost everyone complains about money. 

Ask them about their dreams, goals or life in general. If their open and honest you’ll hear woes of money.

But just because money gives us problems, each person will think and respond differently to those problems. 

I spend lots of time meeting 1-on-1 with guys, discussing life; both pitfalls and successes. Personally I’m driven to make my life count for something meaningful. I want God to be honored with what I’ve done and I hope the world will be better off for hundreds of years after because I obeyed my “design” (how I’m uniquely created). 

Today I was meeting with a guy, and he gave a little agreement with my comment about money problems. However, when he went on to describe the past 30 years of his adult life, I was profoundly struck by the differences of what we call “money problems”.

Here are the 3 Types of Money Problems I’ve Come to Recognize:

1. The lack of money that makes life uncomfortable

2. The lack of money that causes you to forfeit or put off your dreams/calling to focus on money. 

3. The abundance of money that causes indulgence; distracting you from your dream and purpose.

As it turns out, most of the guys I meet with fall into #1. Yes, they have money problems, they lack money and things that money can buy. However the are in the game. Not the game of natural wealth, but the game of eternal wealth. They are seeking to fulfill their purpose even though it’s hard and they suffer lack in many ways.

Whenever I describe money problems, I’m thinking #2. I want money to do my purpose, however, since I don’t have it, I resolve that I can’t do it yet. 

Of course, there are people who have money and are in the center of their purpose. I’m not suggesting you can’t have them both. But my concern is the procrastinating… the postponing, and the mis-prioritizing.

The logical mind assumes you have… say 40 years. So why not spend the first half getting your money right, then you can spend the rest using it for good.

But is that guaranteed? 

No, of course not. There are no guarantees. 

But I’ll guarantee you this. Each day, when you awake, you have the ability to chose, what’s important, what’s urgent, what’s wise in the head, and what’s meaningful in the heart.

I’m doing my best to make the right choices, taking nothing for granted. 

And I wrote this to encourage you to do the same. 

Create a great day!

- Arvell

Don’t Wait on Anyone - By Jim Stovall

Sometimes I read something, get inspired, digest it and then regurgitate to others…

The article below stands so well on it’s own that I didn’t want to change a thing!

Hope you enjoy.

- Arvell

Don’t Wait on Anyone

If you want to succeed in any element of your personal or professional life, action is required.  If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve always got.  If you want to live differently, you’ve got to act differently.  The change begins with you.  If you’re waiting for someone else to act, decide, or move, you have relinquished control of your destiny.  

I realize that no one succeeds on their own, and we’re all a part of a team, but if I’m going to achieve my own goals, I must act and then help others to follow.

If you have a goal, a dream, an ambition, or something you would like to be, do, or have in this life, there is something required of you today.  I have written hundreds of weekly columns.  There have been two books with more to follow that are filled with these columns.  Each of them describes a different thought, tip, or nugget designed to lead you to success, but every column I have ever written ends with the same phrase.  “Today’s the day!”

The change begins with you, and the action begins today.  It all starts with a decision, but if action does not immediately follow, it reveals that a decision was not really made.

If I tell you that your house is on fire, you will likely make an immediate decision to take instant action  that will result in you getting out of the house very quickly; but if I share that information with you and you tell me you have decided to set an objective but don’t act, I question either your understanding or your commitment to success. 

If you set a goal today to climb the tallest mountain in the world, you may not begin actually climbing that mountain for a year or even longer, but that doesn’t mean that action is not required today.  First, you will need to do some research and discover that Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world.  You will also discover that it straddles the borders of several countries so you will need to start doing research to determine the best way for you to climb and through which country you will begin your expedition. 

You will need to begin contacting people to accompany you or determine to join someone else’s expedition.  You will need to begin training physically for the ordeal ahead of you and determine what kind of equipment will be required.  There are countless numbers of activities you must undertake if you are going to revel in those precious few moments on the top of the world. 

It all begins with you.

As you go through your day today, take action, bring people into your vision, and don’t wait on anyone.

Today’s the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift.  He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.  He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor.

Close the Distance

How large is the gap between your learning and your doing?

Most of us, or at least those with a passion and a drive and a thirst to grow often become gluttons for knowledge. We fill ourselves up with emails, books, magazines and tweets. But the use of all this new information is likely scarce. 

We’d be lucky if we applied 10% of all that we take in.

How about you check yourself TODAY?

What emails or websites, books or magazines will you spend more than 60 seconds looking at today? 

Do you have a task, project or meeting this week that will benefit from that information?

If not, tag it, and file it for when you need it. 

Close the distance between what you’re learning and what you’re applying.

Values or Goals

You may find many people with similar goals as you. But their values and motives, which become the engines and vehicles to reach those goals can be completely different.

But does this matter?

Does it matter how you reach your goals, or does the end justify the means?

Does it matter whose tweets you follow or whose books you read as long as it gets you where you want to be?

You might even know you have a stark contrasting belief system, but you justify it because you think you are redeeming their ideas.

The problem here is the weak relationship with your so called values.

Why can’t you find truths spoken from the mouth of someone whose core is aligned with yours?

If your values don’t have a system to take you to your goals, you have either the wrong goals or you’re lying about your values.

Before Your Try to Serve God

Before you try to serve God, how about first knowing Him?

Before you start trying to please him, how about just loving him?

Your heart is in a good place, but if you feel like your efforts are necessary to enhance your relationship, you’re not ready yet.

Luke 10:41-42: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

The act of trying and striving implies a lack, a distance or difference… it suggests “I am not, but if I do this, then I will be…”

2 Corinthians 3:16 and 18 describes a process of turning to God, beholding his glory and becoming transformed.

This process of transformation is a by-product from knowing, loving and enjoying God.

I believe when we are in the process of allowing God to transform us ( a life-long process and daily practice ) we don’t have to worry about concepts like pleasing or serving or God.

The boxes that try to contain activities like spiritual or ministry, business or personal, become intermingled when all is done for the glory of God.

"When you’re passionate about God, you can trust your passions" - Erwin McManus

Unless we sense compromise, an uneasiness or gut check, we need not be concerned.

However, if our walk with God is sparse and intermittent, we’ll likely always have doubts and uncertainty.

Why The Doors Aren’t Opening

There came a point when I realized that God speaks as much through the closed doors and disappointments as he does through opportunities and breakthroughs. 

For some reason I got really excited when an opportunity didn’t workout. I guess I’m thinking again on that level. The level where I am completely trusting God and hearing him speak through the closed door. 

I was like… “YES!” Knowing for certain and having clarity of what was not the best place for me to be was freeing. 

To have this mindset you need to choose this mindset. Otherwise, you will be blaming God or hating yourself for not making the door open. 

I believe we get frustrated and stay in stuck places because we are not listening to the voice within the closed door. I know you are determined to get into that one specific place, and you may resolve to keep trying and trying and trying. But if that opportunity is not meant for you, there is another that is a better fit and a more beneficial situation all around. 

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God in Business by Ted Cottingham - Book Review

"I’m calling you today to lay down your life, your skills, abilities, gifts and talents, your past, present, and future your wisdom, understanding and knowledge— your all, at the foot of the Cross. And when you stand up, stand up in the power of his might."  -   God in Business by Ted Cottingham.


This is the seventh book for my weekly Wednesday book review

(After this review… or maybe the next, I will take a break from these book reviews to see whether or not I will continue, or if I’ll do anything different.  If you have anything positive to share regarding these past 6 reviews, please speak now!)

God in Business by Ted Cottingham

God in Business is a very unique and special book. 

God in Business is the journey of a man adventuring into a deeper relationship with God and learning how to successfully be in business. 

The book talks of maturing spiritually in dedication and integrity and complete devotion. 

It’s not really a business book. It doesn’t give tons of business how-to principles, but it does show how the Holy Spirit can partner with a person in their professional aspirations.

The core message is God, summoning you to be in total surrender to Him alone. 

The book helps you become sensitive and aware of how the Holy Spirit can and wants to lead and direct you in business and all important decisions.

In most books, you can highlight nuggets of truth and attempt to follow their proclaimed steps to freedom or principles of success, etc. 

But in God in Business, you may walk away with a new an challenging way of walking with God and praying…

For example, here are a few prayers from the book:

"God, make what’s important to you important to me, and make what’s unimportant to you unimportant to me."

"Increase my capacity to receive from you, Lord."

"God, please don’t promote me beyond my character."

"Lord let me see my blind spots."

Here are some statements from the book that instantly connected with my heart, though I’d never really heard anyone say it previously: 

"God wants us to use the spiritual gifts he’s given us in business and not just in a church setting."

"God’s plan for your life will not be as you suppose. To do what you were born for, will have to "uproot, tear down and destroy." the traditions of man that adversely affect your thinking so they he can "build and plant" you. (See Jeremiah 1:10)"

"Although my times with God seemed to get richer and richer, my income steadily went down."

"So many people have focused completely on the last three years of Jesus’ life and ignored all the implications that most of his earthly life was as a businessman."

"The reason Jesus knew the voice of his Father when he was in ministry was that he knew the voice of the Father while he was in business as a carpenter."

"God is not just in "ministry." God is in the office. God is in the laboratory." God is in our home."

"There is no gap between the sacred and the secular for those who will partner with God to do what is in their heart. The walls separating business and ministry are coming down."

"True leadership frees the decision-making abilities of those around them while still holding them accountable."

"God anointed the experts (Exodus 31:1-6)"

"If you want to partner with God, if you want him to anoint you and your efforts, please buy into the importance of being the best that you can be, right now, at whatever you are and whatever you do, with whatever you have. God does not anoint laziness."

"I am sounding a wake-up call for you to go to God more and more about the details of your work. Can you buy into the belief that he wants to be involved? Ask him to be involved. God to him often, many times a day. Partner with him and he’ll partner with you . Seek God. Seek excellence."

Ok, that’s enough to whet your appetite right? 

Go here to buy » God in Business.