Ordered Steps, (321,090 of them)

Three times on our recent trip to Europe I got us hopelessly lost, twice in Paris and once in Helsinki. 

41043279-1eb4-4c30-b57e-3de605f9ed78Mostly we had an amazing time of meandering and discovery. Our amazing discoveries included; a cup of Cappuccino with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; the Changing of the Royal Palace Guard dressed in their royal blue regalia in Old Stockholm; Swedish Meatballs at an exquisite restaurant in a small, hidden, triangular courtyard; and Ratatouilles’ friend Remy alive and well at dusk in a hugely populated courtyard. (Chill your spine and curl up into a fetal ball on your chair encounter.) 

My wife and I have learned to travel together by meandering and off-the-grid discovery. It not only works well, but it also works best for us. We don’t spend a lot of money on tourist nets that have been previously set with our names on them. Instead, we discover great places to take a break and sometimes, too often, eat. Parks, bridges, architecture, and archways garnered photo ops by the megabyte.

The hopelessly lost part happened because we had to get to someone else’s ‘great discovery’ restaurant. The ‘have to’ combined with my North American grid mentality was not a right combination in a city of circles and wedges, especially when you add in about 10,000 extra steps.

Even a good relationship can get somewhat testy when you circle around your hotel an extra 2 kilometres in the dark cobblestone streets with rain, without GPS because it’s 11:20 pm and your phone has just died.

We loved the vibe of ancient Europe. We loved the clash and harmony of the architecture of days gone by with the new and innovative appeal. Europe for us equals an amazingly inspired time of pause and reflection.

In a quiet time this morning, I read, “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?” (Proverbs 20:24, NIV)

It occurred to me that not only our positive steps but all of our steps have a divine oversight because God really is taking us on a discovery journey, an amazing could be inspired time, of pause and reflection.

Is That It?

 

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Thirty-seven years, fourteen days, and fifteen hours and forty minutes ago, I almost said out loud, “Is that it?” The preacher had just said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife…” All I could think about at that moment was, “That’s all there is?” “We waited this long and spent this much and planned so intricately, and it’s over?”

The only thing over was that part of the ceremony. The work was just beginning. All-be-it, it has been considerable work. Right babe? Right…babe?

I’ve had it happen with holidays, destinations, stuff, and things. All the time spent dreaming and planning; the time of hoping and wishing is over in a moment of acquisition.

Life works that way.

We get that new car, and after a week we see someone has gotten a better car with more options on top of a better base package, for a thousand dollars less than what we paid.

Sound familiar?

Even though these things happen and happen with frequency, I believe that the question is a great question to ask, “Is that it? Is this all that there is?”

Some save the question for mid-life so that they can commiserate over it. Others try to ignore it all together.

Instead of allowing the question to intimidate you, come to the table with your sleeves rolled up and your strategy hat on. Ask the question. The fact that you are here to ask it means the answer is a definite, “No! There is more, way more.” The fact that you still have breath and thought means that a new course could be charted, a new normal can be achieved, a new standard can be realized; It just requires you to ask and answer boldly.

So, thirty-seven years, fourteen days, fifteen hours and twenty minutes ago, I ventured on a life-altering, sometimes terrifying, always challenging, and totally rewarding journey. It only required four words, “I do,” and “I will.”

What will you do?

If you would like marital direction please consider the Marriage Consult.

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The Marriage Consult

New Every Morning

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Lamentations 3:20-27 The Message (MSG)

It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
    the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.

Turn Up The Heat or Wait For The Weekend

The other morning I was listening to one of my favourite artists sing. She dug deep and punched out her lead line with a bit of a growl. I loved it the first time I heard it, and I loved it again this particular morning.

My mind instantly veered down a path of passion, and within moments I was thinking of the great company of witnesses in heaven. (Hebrews 12:1)

My thoughts went to Gideon, David, Elijah, and Ruth and Naomi all who lived fully human, just like us. Then my thoughts continued to the more recent; how about Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, and Mother Teresa? Then there are a couple of my favourite people who lived and sung with passion, Andre Crouch, and Dannibelle Hall. These people from ancient and recent past all stood with an, “I’ve got something I have to do!” attitude.

“Phil, you are going to be greeted and surrounded by a myriad of people that could literally be defined by their passion,” my thoughts injected. “Are these your people? Is this what you are known for? Are you living with passion? Is your passion for the right things?” (At times my inside conversation bothers me.)

Let me ask you. Right now I am asking where things are at. In the last twenty-four hours, has your passion shown through? Or, are you waiting for the weekend?

Time for some changes?

Me too!

Three Unalterable Facts!

Living life has its challenges.

One of the challenges is, what do you do with the storyline in your head? What is it that you tell yourself in the privacy of your mind? You know, in that private world of quick explanation, what is the voice that comes over your inner PA system?

If you haven’t checked that voice, it probably sounds quite derogatory. It probably reaches to a moment of failure that has fought the test of time and broadcasts it back in living stereo to the isolation of your unique world.

“You’ll always come up short, when it matters, you won’t be there.” That was mine, what is yours?

I call this inner voice, or voice over, The Swirl in my book, Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl. Use this link to obtain your copy. https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/

Reject the voice of condemnation! Renounce it! Literally say, “I renounce the lie that…” Don’t allow it to play through one more time knowingly.

Correct thinking, correct biblical thinking, will master that voice and create the new sound over in your thoughts, but you are going to have to spend some time on it.

So, here are three facts that I’m using and you are welcome to adopt.

    1. God’s default position toward me is that he loves me. “God loves me!”

    2. God has a purpose for me to live and fulfill. “I matter!”

    3. God only expects me to be me. “I don’t have to be like anyone else!”

When I keep these thoughts foremost, they conquer the swirl and video loop that wants to play again.

Here’s how it works:

When I face a challenge or shortcoming, I immediately call these three facts.

  1. God loves me, so I know that he is working through love for my best interest and best outcome. I can go to the bank on it! He will not reject me or let me go. He’s got this. (1 John 4:16, NIV)
  2. He’s got me on my purpose. He is directing the course of my life. I will fulfill all that he has for me and all that he has promised. This issue before me is engineered for my good and my best interest. It will work out okay because He surrounds me. (Philippians 1:6, NIV)
  3. I’m the only one here in this personal moment. God doesn’t want me to try and be anyone else. He uniquely created me and gave me the circumstances that have led me to this moment, and he will uniquely bring me through. I just need to respond to him and let him do what he is doing trusting that this ‘personal touch’ is well placed and directly appropriate for my best outcome. (2 Timothy 2:21, NIV)

This is faith at its core. Trust that God is and that he is working in my life. Or, trust that God is and that he is working in your life. (Hebrews 11:6, NIV)

Change your focus, He’s got this!

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Don’t Forget To Be Friends

Life gets big, fast, and sometimes all too confusing. 

Remember when things were simpler when it was just you and him, or maybe you and her?

Hey, did that actually happen or was that a mythical moment with a mythical couple?

Why just this morning the SUV has left the driveway at least three times, and that was before 9:00 am; not once would you have been presentable had you been pulled over.

It’s called life. Not a prison, sentence, or punishment; it’s a full-on privilege.

I know you needed a moment, I just wanted to remind you of that. We all do.

We started out as friends; we liked spending time together. I would do crazy things to get to be with her and see her smile. Even if I only got five minutes during her lunch break and then have to drive back to where real life happened, I did it for fun, for friendship, for love.

We’ve seen others succumb and lose their focus. It could have happened to us. Somehow we picked up a little tidbit. Somehow we learned to push back on the rapid, the consuming press of time, schedule and appointments. We learned that we have to be friends and stay friends. Working on friendship in the middle of life is no easy task, but we’ve been able to do it up until now and determinedly we’ll do it into the future.

You can too. Stay friends.

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Mastering Obstacles

I am excited about this new tool that I have developed for Mastering your personal Obstacles called Mastering Obstacles.

This tool will walk you through a powerful process of challenge, change, and growth. It will address the mess in which you may find yourself and give you a trajectory out of that very mess.

You may need help navigating through your obstacles, (reach out at phil.sovdi@gmail.com) but you can have a clear vision for freedom and change. 

Mastering Obstacles

 

 

 

When ‘Fake’ Matters

What do I care if the rock panels on your house are fake or not?

It would matter only if I were planning to purchase your house, or if I was going to use your house for ideas for my own home, then it would matter.

Fake is relative to who you are and what you do and what you need.

If you were building a set for a television shoot, fake is irrelevant; it just has to look ‘real’ from the viewer’s perspective.

However, if you are building a life and want ‘real’ in family, friendship, and faith, then non-fake is imperative.

So, who are you? What do you do? How do you do what you do? Are you for real?

And, does it matter?

Monday Morning Blues

It’s Monday morning and who wants to go to work? Really, who wants to leave their weekend behind and embrace the repetitive mundane?

Well, that is indeed one way to look at it.

Or, we can adjust our thinking. Why would we want to do that?

Monday is going to happen whether you are on board or not; whether or not you jump in with your game face, or drag in, hauling your coffee with your IV hookup.

The fact is you can choose; what a great gift. You can choose to live with a good, great, or excellent attitude, or you can choose not to. Too much for a Monday morning? That’s why I waited until now to send this.

Choice is a gift from God. I think he holds it as one of his highest values. He must; it is what makes us human.

Don’t give your choice away to someone or something that will marshal it for another cause. You’ve been given the gift, so use it.

Choose.

Choose to live well, to hope strong, to have faith that God has ‘got this’ and knows where you are at, and what needs to happen next.

Don’t settle for being pushed around by a Monday or anything else that wants to usurp your gift.

You get to choose. So, choose by choice, not by default or any other imposed criteria.

We get to make a choice, so, Happy Monday! You are alive and ‘Get to.’

Hollow Love

Who gets to judge? No, really, who gets to set the bar or examine the evidence?

The simple answer?

Others.

That’s right, those who are looking, those for whom it was intended, those who are casual observers and those who read or heard our words. They get to judge. Actually, whether they get to or not, whether we give them permission to or not, they will and they do judge.

Just recently we completed a document that gives our view of love, its importance, value, and prominence. The document says it well. I like the words that have been crafted and the way they sound when you say them. However, if the recipients of that document would not say that we love, if they would not tell you that when they think of us that they know they are loved, then that document only proves to be noise.

I can tell you all day long that I love my wife. But, if my wife does not feel the love, if she does not think those thoughts when she thinks of me, then my words at best are hypocrisy and at worst a direct lie because I don’t get to be the judge.

I can tell you all day, extrapolate all the nuances, I can even have it nicely written out and ornately decorated on a tablet. But unless it reaches its target and resonates with my wife, decorated or not, it is hollow.

Years ago, I would not have been identified as gentle.  Many other descriptive words that would have been used for me. Hopefully, some of them good, but ‘gentle’ would not have been one of them. 

Then I was reading and came across these words, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5, NIV) I think at that moment God spoke to me asked me a question. “Phil, are you known for your gentleness?” Before I could build a case in my mind he continued, “Would your daughters call you gentle?” The word ‘Gentle’ became very personal, and I had to admit that I didn’t think it would be used to describe me. I realized at that moment that the picture of ‘me’ needed to change.

As I wrestled with my thoughts and how I was going to make this happen, I came upon the criteria that I have used ever since. It doesn’t matter what I would tell you about myself that matters, it is what others would say about me that exposes all and tells the truth.

Today, I believe that each of my four daughters, and my wife, would tell you that I indeed am a very gentle father.

So what about love? What do others say? Do our words have the depth or do they resonate as hollow?

Make a solid contribution to your marriage this Valentines. Let those around you say of you, “He or she is the most loving person that I know.”

I can help you get there in your marriage. I’ve created a tool that you can use. Its called The Marriage Consult. Here’s the link, https://philsovdi.com/the-marriage-consult/