At the age of 47, I can't look back and say that I saw myself to be where I'm at.
I didn't think strategically that far ahead back many years ago.
I believe I'm like most people in that we're trying to take care of the most basic things as well as we can so that we may live life to our fullest - and to our calling.
Finding the latter, though, is sometimes the biggest challenge to the former. I know it is with me.
I just had somebody that I consider to be a friend finish the Badwater 135 ultramarathon in California.
On a Facebook page of a race that I do work for and that they have been a loyal participant in and supporter of, we had been keeping up with his - and other veterans of the race's - efforts.
It is what I do (and most of the time - when I myself am not discouraged - believe it to be a calling): recognize people's accomplishments.
The special ability and skill that God has given me to amass knowledge of people and what they do and then know when and where the most appropriate forum and time to dispel it is something that I even marvel at and am thankful to possess.
I also try to use it wisely, and it is one of the most-admired traits that I obtained from my grandfather.
At the same time, I'm challenged though by some - in many areas of my life - who seem to enjoy the spotlight in spite of their ethics, which at times is in a grey area.
Our sinful nature is to want to call them out in a grand way and at times, I've fallen victim to that in a veiled sense.
However, that's just as bad as the behavior I wish others would abstain from.
So trying to refrain from that in all things - absolutely the right thing to do - can at times be emotionally discouraging.
The feeling literally makes you want to give up, but, eh, that's not really healthy either.
So it's a battle.
And at times, we need that "pick me up" to know that we're doing things the right way -- and to keep it up.
The competitor wrote, "I wore my [race removed] socks to runner check-in and to get my runner mug shot taken. In a sea of people trying to boast about their runs of such and such feet vertical (and) in an effort to one up each other, I prefer to promote the races that truly embody the spirit of running such as yours."
It was such a simple statement, but it blew me away.
Why? Because the person that shared it is truly a grateful and humble individual (who also possesses amazing ability and perseverance). Forget the fact that they offered it up less than 12 hours after they finished one of the toughest races in the world.
Just this past Saturday, I had a runner (or two) compliment me on some help that I provided a 5K that a race director friend of mine produced.
If you know me at all, you know I don't handle compliments well.
I've gotten better in just saying "Thank you" so I don't offend the person offering the praise.
My view is that if I'm asked to do something, I should do it to the best of my abilities -- and not for my own glory.
I know how to gain attention, but there's a lot of pressure -- external and self-inflicted -- that comes with it so my thought is, "Why bother?"
The best way for me to honor God without specifically proselytizing is to do my best for whomever I'm working for - whether it be for a living, a hobby or as a volunteer.
When I announce or perform media-related or public relations-related type functions, I'm doing my best to ensure that the event's image - while they handle their actions ethically - is presented as well as possible.
And by doing that, I'm entrusted with the opportunities to do more and handle more responsibility when and where it's appropriate.
It is a life lesson that I hope that my daughter continues to realize - and practice - in her life.
I think she gets it, but it is always nice to have healthy reminders of the things that we need to be doing well in our lives.
So my advice for the day is this:
1.) You don't always have to be "out there". I believe if your heart is in the right place as far as your motivations are concerned, God will take care of you when you don't necessarily need to be "out in front".
2.) Be humble, grateful and thankful. These aren't original themes, but they're ones that I need to remind myself the most of.
3.) Don't operate in the gray. You want people to question your motives and, subsequently, your actions? Use slight of hand or be ambiguous and/or disingenuous. People will quickly lose trust in you - as an individual or an entity that you represent.
4.) If somebody truly does something that merits your praise, give it to them immediately, humbly and more times than not, privately. Most people welcome words of encouragement that are genuine and aren't, as I like to say, "over the top".
If you've taken the time to read, thank you for your encouragement.
It has helped sustain me through - at times - what has been a challenging 2014.