The Power of Your Dreams…

We all have dreams when we are young and resilient and capable of extraordinary faith in our future. It’s a time when we still believe that whatever we desire from life can become a reality one day. The truth is, that reality never changes. What does change is that as we grow older, we begin losing our faith in our dreams.

Somewhere along the way, this thing people call “reality” hits. Suddenly you realize that your circumstances are not connecting the dots to the future you imagined. Maybe your parents are divorced and you have no money or you’ve been abused or you are not the right size or color or gender or…fill in the blank.

For whatever reason—and there are always reasons—what you dream of doing and what you believe you can “really” do become two very different realities. Others’ comments often fuel this belief.

They begin asserting things like, “You can’t do that,” and, “You need to live in reality,” and, “That’s impossible,” and, “Maybe in your next life.” The comments are occasionally from a place of good intentions, especially if family and friends are just trying to protect you from disappointment. But such comments do not convey the truth about you or your future.

The fact is that all dreamers, including the greatest achievers in history, have heard these same comments:

Harrison Ford was told he couldn’t act.

Oprah Winfrey was told she was unfit for television.

Michael Jordan was told he couldn’t play varsity basketball.

Amelia Earhart was told she was the wrong gender.

Albert Einstein was told he would amount to nothing.

Anne Frank was told she didn’t matter.

Elvis Presley was told he wasn’t going anywhere.

Rosa Parks was told she was the wrong color.

The difference between those who realize their dreams and those who don’t is simple: Those who realize their dreams refuse to accept someone else’s “reality” for their lives. They dare to keep pursuing their dreams despite the unfavorable odds and constant objections.

The Test of True Dreams

Child and Leaf ShipThere’s a telltale sign that helps you determine whether your dream is something you’re truly passionate about. Bring your dream to mind right now and ask yourself: Do I think about this when I wake up each morning and throughout each day?

It might sound like a simplistic test. But if you’re honest with your answer the question is an effective gauge of the authenticity of your dreams, because you can’t fake passion. If your dream is not your passion, you won’t think about it when you wake up. You won’t be excited about it all the time. This doesn’t mean it’s not perfectly normal to have hobbies and subjects that you enjoy from time to time. I have a handful of activities that I’m interested in. But there’s one major difference between those interests and my dreams: mind space. I simply don’t think about the other topics even one-tenth as much as I think about:

1) loving and leading my family

2) helping others through my story.

I still enjoy basketball—it was a major part of my life for a very long time. I’ll catch a game on TV or attend one live when I can. But I’d skip those games in a second over a chance to take my wife Kristie on a date or watch my son Cameron throw a baseball or see my daughter Kiersten spike a volleyball. And I wouldn’t think twice about skipping a basketball game for an opportunity to share my story, even with only one person.

Outside of loving my family and helping others through my story, there is nothing else I’d call my passion. I believe those two activities give my life its best chance to have the greatest impact on the world.

Now the question comes back to you.

What are you truly passionate about? When you find the dream that wakes you up in the morning and occupies your mind throughout the day, that’s when you know it passes the authenticity test and you’ll have the passion to see it through.

The Right Gift

 
Merry Christmas LightsWhat Makes a Gift “the Right Gift?” is it the financial value of the gift?  Is it the practicality of the gift?  Sometimes a gift is considered “right” if it is wrapped with a genuine, pure motive in the heart of the giver.

I recently heard a story of a man that punished his 3-year old daughter for wasting a roll of wrapping paper at Christmas time. Money was tight and he became infuriated when his daughter tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and gave it to him. He was immediately embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but allowed his anger to flare again when he opened the box and found that it was empty. He yelled at his little girl telling her that “there has to be something in the box for it to be considered a gift.”  His three year old looked up at him with her voice trembling and tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, Daddy, it is not empty. I blew kisses into the box.  All for you Daddy.”

As we can see from this story, the gift may come in the form of an empty box, but the motive behind it is what makes it the right gift. It may not measure up to our material expectations but the love behind it is what makes it irreplaceable.

Christmas has always been a time for giving.  A time of searching for the “the right gift.”  However, this year, just like every other year, millions of people will open gifts, that aren’t necessarily “the right gift.”  Some gifts won’t fit.  Some will be the wrong color.  Many will be returned or exchanged.  But there’s one gift that meets everyone’s need, one gift that will never wear out, never break or need repairing.  A gift that is appropriate for a small child, a teenager, an adult, or a senior citizen.  Boy or girl, man or woman, it makes no difference.  The gift we all need is found behind the true meaning of Christmas.

BEING THANKFUL

Thankful

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I am reminded of a situation I encountered several years ago.   I was sitting outside a medical building waiting for my wife and daughter to finish an appointment at the pediatrician’s office. As I waited, I saw a cute boy around four years old on crutches exiting the building with his mother. They walked to their car and the mother opened the back door for the boy to climb in. As he was getting situated, he fell to the floorboard of the car, but he quickly picked himself up and got back into his seat. As I watched this entire situation unfold, I suddenly became so thankful of the simple, everyday things we take for granted. You see, the boy was hobbling on crutches not because he had a cast, but because he didn’t have a right leg. Too many times it is easy to focus on the negatives and not the positives. When you compare your difficulties to what others are going through, you suddenly realize how fortunate you are. I thought for sure when the mother and son got to the car, she would help him get in. No way! He wasn’t going to let a minor setback in life slow him down. He did it on his own.

How many times in life do we let a small headache, lack of sleep or a difficult situation ruin our day? The next time you’re having a “bad day,” bend one leg behind you, wrap it several times with duct tape and leave it that way for 24 hours. There’s no doubt that would help each of us keep things in perspective and remind us of how thankful we all should truly be.

Thanksgiving (or celebrating with thankfulness) isn’t something the Pilgrims invented. It has been a part of the world from the very beginning.  Let’s take a look at a couple attributes of a THANKFUL person.

The THANKFUL person is grateful for what they have, not bitter about what they don’t have. They try to look for the good in every situation. Have you ever been around that kind of person?

  • It’s raining: “Oh, good! This is going to make the flowers grow!”
  • They have a flat tire: “Thank God it happened on this residential street and not the freeway!”

They are so positive! How many of you could use a shot of this in your life!  The THANKFUL person counts every day as a blessing regardless of the circumstances.  They are not moved by what they see.  How can they be thankful even when things go wrong? Because they don’t live based upon circumstances, but based upon their Faith in the future and the promises they believe in.

The questions for all of us this Thanksgiving are pretty simple… What kind of person are you?  What kind of person do you want to be? Do you need to make an adjustment?  This month I have a Thanksgiving homework project for you to do. Before midnight on Thanksgiving Day, I want you to thank every family member and close personal friend for something they have done for you over the past year.  You’ll be amazed at what this does for your relationships!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chad Varga

America’s Teens in Trouble

Chad Varga AssemblyEvery month I write a blog and many of them concerning the desperate state of America’s youth and the need for our character education assembly programs in schools. The reason we continue to try and inform people of this need is because of what we are seeing in the youth of our nation’s public school systems. I often wonder if people realize what our children and grand children are being exposed to. I will try and give you a glimpse through my next two blogs.

Brian Graden, MTV’s president of programming said: “I can’t help but be worried that we are throwing so much at young adults so fast. And that there is no amount of preparation or education or even love that you could give a child to be ready.”

Today’s Teens Targeted and Exploited…

  • Advertising to teens is an estimated $150 billion a year industry.
  • Nearly 61% of all television programming contains violence, with children’s programming being the most violent.
  • MTV is watched by 73% of boys and 78% of girls ages 12 to 19, and it is profoundly influential in the lives of its young fans by glamorizing drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity and violent behavior.
  • MTV airs 9 sexual scenes per hour and more than 8 un-bleeped profanities per hour.
  • One in five children ages 10-17 that regularly use the Internet has received a sexual solicitation while online.
  • One in four children were unwillingly exposed to images of naked people or people having sex.
  • 90% of 8-16-year-olds have seen pornography online, most while doing homework.
  • 80% of 15-17-year-olds have had multiple hard-core pornographic exposures.

Today’s Teens and Sex…

  • 34 percent of young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20Ñabout 820,000 a year.
  • Approximately four million teens contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) each year.
  • 8,000 teenagers contract an STD every day.
  • An estimated half of all new HIV infections occur in people under age 25.

 A Huge Task…

As you can see, we have a huge task in front of us to partner with educators across America in our effort to instill principles, values, and ethics that will somehow cut through all the wrong messages being sent to our young people today. As we launch into another year of school assemblies, we need your help now more than ever to truly make a difference in this generation of students. Our schools are the fountainhead from which will come nearly every future business person, lawmaker, school teacher, and parent in America. As we invest in them today, we are building a better America for tomorrow-one school at a time!