Trail Reflections

Live Intentionally. Become Fully Alive.

Blaze Your Own Trail eBook Launch!

Posted on April 15th, 2014 by Chris Peek

Today is the day! It is the official launch of my first eBook, Blaze Your Own Trail: Pursue Your Life’s Calling and Take Control.

Do you feel like your life is stuck in a rut? Are you in pursuit of your place in God’s great Story, but you spend most of your time living in someone else’s life for you? Are you frustrated that your calling seems just out of reach?

Blaze Your Own Trail will lead you on the path to…paperbackfront2

- Discover your God-given life calling

- Write your life story

- Incorporate both consistency and spontaneity into your life

- Learn how to overcome life block

- Explore the desires of your heart

- Discover your personality style

- Create a bucket list

- Craft a personal mission statement

Blaze Your Own Trail is not your traditional eBook in the sense that you read through it, set it aside, and allow it to collect virtual dust. It is a field manual that you trek through at your own pace. The more honest you are with yourself, the greater clarity you will receive from this ebook, as you reflect upon and respond to the deep questions of the heart.

Thirty pages long, I would recommend printing it out. I have created space so that you can journal directly in the book.

The best part: YOU PAY WHAT YOU WANT! If you feel it’s worth $20 to you, great. If you are unsure of the value and want to take a look, you are not obligated to pay anything. No amount is too little, no amount too great. Just enter the price you want to pay in the “contribution” box.

Again, you pay what you want! No strings attached.

Whatever value you place upon this resource, my hope is that you dig deep, explore questions that you may never have even considered before, and pursue your life’s calling by taking control. I look forward to joining you, as we blaze our own trails!

You can purchase your copy here: Blaze Your Own Trail Ebook

Just Say No to Networking

Posted on April 11th, 2014 by Chris Peek

Just say no to…

- Networking

- Tribes

- Fans

- Followers

- Audiences

All terms that are impersonal and vague. Each one demonstrates the true heart of our agenda – to build a platform or relationship for self-serving purposes.

If networking is out, then how do we meet others, lead, and influence? Through…

- Relationship

- Connection

- Friendship

These terms represent a mutual give-and-take. The motive is (or should be) – how can I serve you?

What is your motive? Are you networking or building real relationships?

Upcoming Ebook Launch – Blaze Your Own Trail

Posted on April 9th, 2014 by Chris Peek

paperbackfront2I’m excited to announce next week’s release of my first ebook, Blaze Your Own Trail: Pursue Your Life’s Calling and Take Control.

Next Tuesday, you will be able to download your own copy. In addition, if you would like an advance copy and want to be a part of this launch by reviewing the book on your site, please let me know. I will send one out to you right away.

Here is some additional information about the ebook:

This ebook will guide you on the journey to:

- Discover your God-given life calling

- Blaze your own trail

- Write your life story

- Incorporate both consistency and spontaneity into your life

- Learn how to overcome life block

- Explore the desires of your heart

- Discover your personality style

- Create a bucket list

- Determine your personality style

- Craft a personal mission statement

Blaze Your Own Trail is an e-workbook is designed to be a journey taken at your own pace, as you reflect upon and respond to the deep questions of the heart.

I hope you will stop by next week as you seek to blaze your own trail.

Authenticity in Relationships & A Few of My Imperfections

Posted on April 4th, 2014 by Chris Peek

Authenticity

“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.”
– Mother Theresa

More often than not, the most difficult relationships are those in which one person refuses to be authentic or does not understand the need for transparency. You know the kind I mean. The friend who never has a bad day. The relative who has all the answers and emphatically tells you what YOU should be doing. The acquaintance who won’t move past surface-level conversations. The Christian brother whose one and only response to any life struggle is “God has a plan.”

Our most meaningful relationships allow for authenticity. They are a refuge. We can shed the masks and just be real with one another.

What is it about authenticity that binds people together?

Authenticity promotes shared connection based around genuine life experiences. We can relate to those who have flaws.

Authenticity lowers expectations and allows for grace.

Authenticity makes us human.

Authenticity breaks down barriers to real relationship.

Authenticity promotes accountability as we seek personal growth.

While I intrinsically know the value of authenticity, I often have a difficult time expressing my faults and being transparent. But there are plenty of imperfections:

Acting like I have it all together. From needing every hair on my head to be perfectly in place to appearing like I know what I am talking about, I want to project a positive image in all aspects of my life.

An Inconsistent Prayer Life. I pray daily, but the prayers are often said as I’m dashing off to work or briefly before dinner. Frankly, I can be lazy when it comes to prayer.

Perfectionism. I despise making mistakes. Hate them. I mentally beat myself up if I don’t have something new figured out in a few minutes.

Jealousy. Sometimes, I allow jealousy to creep in when I see others achieving success faster than I am.

Self-Focused. I spend a lot of time reflecting on where I am in terms of achievements, friendships, fitness, etc, instead of being others-centered.

False Humility. I appear pretty humble by nature, but honestly, a little pride wells up inside of me because I’m writing, pursuing my calling, and not wasting time in front of the TV.

Finishing what I start. At times, I have a bad case of shiny object syndrome and want to pursue a new desire before I’ve finished the one I’m working on.

That was a pretty difficult exercise for me, but I can’t expect my relationships to deepen or to experience personal growth if I am unwilling to be authentic.

 Do you ever struggle with authenticity? If you would like to practice a bit of authenticity right now, what flaws have you noticed in yourself?

Photo Courtesy: patricklanigan

Stop Waiting on God or Someone Else

Posted on March 31st, 2014 by Chris Peek

When I walked across the stage on the long-awaited graduation day to pick up my master’s degree in communication, I was handed the most expensive piece of paper I had ever received. At that moment, I thought I held the keys to the kingdom and that potential employers would be blown away by my impressive, educational credentials.

Was I ever in for a dose of reality. It turns out that my education couldn’t buy the next step of my calling. I spent a depressing summer searching for someone else to provide me with an ideal opportunity in my field. I was waiting on God to show me His perfect plan. I figured the windows of heaven would fling open and that He would pour out the ideal job that fit my passions, skills, and abilities to a T – a place where I would be completely fulfilled for an entire 40 hours per week.

Instead, I was served up a massive slice of humble pie. Desperate for income after a couple of months job hunting, I took a seasonal position with Lawn Doctor. I instantly became the most educated lawn seeder in the history of lawn seeding. One fellow seeder questioned, “You have a master’s degree. What are you doing here?!”

The Passive Life Model

It is unfortunate that, through both schooling and western Christendom, we have been taught a passive life model – that we must patiently wait on both God and an employer before we can actively pursue our calling.

“Waiting on God” has become the catch phrase to spiritualize the unending time period when we have no clue what to do next. But God doesn’t treat us like a baby with few skills beyond crying out for help. He has clearly given us the intelligence necessary to think, act, work, and create. He gives us a compass; we’re expecting a pre-programmed route on our GPS.

In addition, our calling is not dependent on any other man or woman. It is not found solely in a place of employment. It can’t be contained to a particular relational role, such as father or mother.

Rather than remaining in a regular pattern of waiting, often we are called to take the knowledge of our God-given passions and skills and step out on faith right where we are.

My Leap of Faith

Three years ago, I took a leap of faith. I finally stopped waiting on the perfect conditions and on someone else to provide me with an opportunity to write.

Instead, I started writing. I was scared out of my mind to hit the publish button and let you inside of my head. But I did it anyway. 259 blog posts later, I’m still writing. God has given me a desire and passion to write. What purpose would it serve to keep these deep reflections in my head and wait on a “the perfect time?”

I make no argument that I have “arrived” as a writer. I have a long, difficult journey in front of me. However, I do recognize that writing has allowed me to help others pursue more intention in their lives. It has provided a vessel for the establishment of new relationships and the deepening others. Blogging has played a major role in positively impacting my thought patterns and has offered an outlet to share the thoughts rumbling around inside my head.

Yet, none of these positive outcomes occurred because I sat around waiting for God to draw a map or for someone else to provide the ideal writing opportunity. I have a deep desire to write. Therefore, I write.

Are you waiting on God or someone else to provide you with an opportunity to put your calling into practice? How could you take meaningful action instead?

photo courtesy Oscar D. on Flickr.com

photo courtesy Oscar D. on Flickr.com

I have not written one of these posts in a while, so today I thought it would be fun to bring back a series of posts I call “Around the Water Cooler.” One of my absolute favorite things about blogging includes the two-way interaction that occurs and subsequent friendships that develop around sharing ideas.

So let’s dive right in. Recently, we’ve discussed how to build successful relationships and how social media has permanently transformed relationship building. In addition, I’ve posted about unleashing the art inside of you and how to make sure your calling flourishes.

To bring all of those posts full circle, today I want to know what role you believe relationships play in your calling. How have relationships brought you to where you are today? How are you investing in them currently? How do they help guide you on your life journey in pursuit of your calling?

Ready. Set. Go.

 

Why Doing Too Much is Diminishing Your Calling

Posted on March 19th, 2014 by Chris Peek

familyYesterday, our son Ryan turned one month old. Where did the last month go? It has been a month filled with highs and lows, late nights and early mornings, feedings and more feedings, and a few diaper changes along the way. My days and nights look pretty much nothing like they did one month ago.

Up until the day my son was born, I had a plan in my head of what I wanted to accomplish each day. The list was usually a mile long: write a blog post, read a magazine, read a couple of chapters in a book, exercise, mystery shop for extra money, eat dinner with Karen, maybe watch a show to unwind, and hop in bed by 11ish.

Baby Ryan doesn’t care much for my list. He would rather eat, burp, eat, be changed, eat some more, be held, sleep three hours, eat at 2 AM, etc. My “me” time has been diminished extensively, meaning that I am forced to decide what is worth doing and what isn’t.

In his own smelly diaper way, my newborn has taught me that I was attempting to cram too much into one day. I desire to conquer the world and he just wants to be held.

For those of us who tend to read numerous blogs and books and listen to podcasts, we’re generally exploring ways to make improvements in our lives. We’re not content with the status quo, and we’re often searching for ways to pursue our callings more extensively.

May I suggest that maybe we’re all trying to do too much. We’re making too many goals, formulating too many grand plans, preparing for some just-out-of-reach uptopia. I know this sounds counterintuitive, and I’m not suggesting that you quit pursuing your dreams, visions, and goals.

He who chases two rabbits catches none.

– Old Chinese Proverb

Instead, most of us are not focused enough on a goal or two. We’re exhausting ourselves by training for a marathon while writing three books, serving in the church, working 50 hours per week, and attempting to be a spouse and parent.

You will fail to walk in your calling if you are sprinting through today. Instead, burnout will be your number one calling. Your life’s mission will be greatly diminished.

The pursuit of your life calling requires times of deep reflection. It necessitates regular days spent in relationship. The mission demands to be done with excellence, or it fails to leave an imprint.

When we slow down and breathe, we allow God to inject creativity into our midst. We permit our relationships to be teachers of life lessons and sources of countless joys. We are able to focus our minds and hearts so that our callings are filled with excellence rather than mediocrity. And we are able to truly be present when we hold that newborn in our arms.

Are you doing too much? How could you slow down a bit so your calling has greater influence?

How Social Media Permanently Transform Our Relationships

Posted on March 14th, 2014 by Chris Peek

social media

It’s hard to imagine what life was like before the days of social media. In the early years of the internet, the web was designed as a virtual place where we could research enormous amounts of information at a fairly rapid speed. Most of the communication flowed one-way – from content creator to reader. Our two-way communication with friends and family was relegated to email and instant messaging.

It wasn’t until 2003 that MySpace burst onto the scene. College dropout Mark Zuckerberg would launch Facebook a few months later in early 2004. It would be two more years before “Tweet” meant something other than the majestic melody originating from a bird’s mouth.

Consider the communication transformation that has occurred in the time span of just eleven years. Entire methods of communication have taken a backseat to these extremely new forms of communication. We now have the ability to daily converse with people throughout the country and around the world. We are more easily able to maintain relationships that, up until recently, might have become long-lost friends due to common life transitions.

In addition, we now have the capability to connect with like-minded people who are pursuing similar life journeys, independent of location. Personally, I have met several incredible people through blogging, Twitter, and other online platforms, many of whom have become close friends.

Relational Transformation

Unfortunately, not everyone understands how to utilize these social media tools properly. Some people use social media as a platform to boast about their own lives. Others attempt to do nothing but sell, sell, sell. A few thrive on stirring up controversy and informing us of their every political stance. Few consider both the positive and negative consequences of social media usage on our relationships. For better and for worse, social media is having a drastic impact on the overall scope of how we relate to our friends, family, and co-workers.

Here are five realities about the social media landscape and how our use of these channels plays a dynamic role in permanently transforming our relationships:

1. Social media channels are personal. We desire authentic connection. We want to know that a real human being is behind the computer screen or cell phone. Your friends want to see an occasional photo of your family and to learn more about what makes you come alive.

However, over-sharing can be detrimental, as people will start tuning you out. We don’t need to see a daily photo of your every meal or a selfie in your bathroom. In fact, a recent study has shown that posting too many selfies can damage your true friendships.

2. Social media offer a fantastic bridge to deeper connection. We can more easily discover an individual’s interests, allowing us to decide if we desire to take the friendship to a deeper level. However, stalking is never cool. Come on…admit you’ve done it at least once or maybe 127 times.

3. Social media cannot replace in-person communication. Nor should it be a substitute for it. For all the benefits social media offer, there is nothing like sitting across the table, looking a friend in the eye, and sharing a meal together with all electronic devices stowed away.

4. Social media should not be confused with your therapist. Debbie Downers seem to gravitate toward social media. They come in and dump all of their miseries into the newsfeed, looking for sympathetic comments. Whenever you see a post from certain friends, you just know it’s bad news. Authenticity is welcome. However, a barrage of negativity will leave you with fewer friends in both the virtual and real worlds.

5. Social media are designed for give-and-take. Have you ever “liked” and commented on a particular friend’s posts, but the friend rarely/never returns serve? If you’re like me and take notice, you may cease interacting with this individual after a while.

If you’re posting status updates but failing to interact with your fellow friends, you will soon find yourself digitally alone. It’s pretty bad form to show up at a gathering, announce your greatest accomplishments over the microphone, and proceed to sit in the corner waiting for everyone to come and tell you how great you are.

Whether you like it or not, the age of social media has forever altered the way we work, play, relate, converse, share, and communicate. If utilized correctly, we have the power to enhance existing relationships and build new ones. If used incorrectly, it can cause permanent damage to existing familial relationships, friendships, and work connections. So the next time you decide to hit “post,” “Tweet,” “like,” or “publish,” consider the lasting effects it may have on your relationships

In what other ways does social media transform our relationships?

Photo Courtesy: Sean MacEntee

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