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This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3

Do you hit your brakes every time you see a cop?  Do you ask people what you did the night before, worrying about who you might have hurt or offended because you drank way more than anyone should?  Do you tell more lies to cover up one lie?

I’m not asking these questions to call anyone out, I’m just thinking of things that people do to violate God’s commands, when following them would be a lot easier.

I used to risk my life living that way.  Instead of looking both ways before crossing the street, I would just say to myself, “They have brakes,” and just amble on across a busy street.  Sure, I thought I was having fun, doing whatever I wanted to do.  Lying to my parents about what I was up to because I was having “fun” partying all night.

The Bible verse about just really made me look back on my younger life.  I used to be afraid of the life I have today, afraid.  I thought that sitting quietly on a Friday night, writing a blog of all things, was the most boring thing I could ever do (even though there was no such thing as a blog back then).  But you know what?  I’m not looking over my shoulder anymore.  I’m not worried about my manager catching me skimming the register anymore.

I guess my life isn’t as exciting as it used to be, but it’s a lot less work, and I’m lazy.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

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And never take yourself too seriously.

I’m amazed by how serious some people take life, and how grumpy they can be.  I have never, never understood how some people’s general character is that of the ultimate seriousness.  Are they preparing for something?  Do they know something I don’t?  Most importantly, are they happy and content with the life God has given them at any moment?

Maybe I’ve found the secret to life after only 11 blog posts.  Jo Jo Tabares’ Twitter profile (@JoJoTabares) describes herself as a “goofball by nature.”  What a wonderful way to live!  I immediately became one of her followers.  I mentioned how I appreciated her Twitter profile and she explained to me that her daughter has taught her to “embrace her inner wierdness.”  Wow.  Then again, my kids teach me to embrace my inner goofball and they’re only 4 and 1.

As you can tell, wierd may be too strong of a word for some, so I encourage you to embrace your inner goofball.  It may be tough at first.  In fact, it could be a little wierd.  I’m telling you, increasing your ability to be silly can increase your enjoyment of life by a factor of 10 (I have no scientific proof to support this fact, but it sounds like a good number to me).

Do one thing that is goofy today… on purpose.   You’ll be that much closer to claiming with confidence that you enjoy life all the time.  Just like I do.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

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I don’t have bad days.  No really, I don’t.

First of all, how often do you rate your day?  How often do you decide whether today was good, today was not so good, or today just plain sucked?

When you do rate your day, what made it good, or what made it bad?

When I have a bad day, it’s usually because so-and-so did this, or so-and-so did that.  The weather was bad.  I was sick.  I’m sneezing and blowing my nose because it’s a water fountain and I refuse to take allergy drugs (okay, so that’s a current personal complaint).  These are things that are simply out of our control.  There’s nothing we can do about it.

Why would I ever allow something beyond my control decide whether I have a good day or not?

I have good days when I do something for someone else in abundance.  Wait, those are my best days.  I have a good day when I do something for someone else at all.  Sure, I have good days when people treat me the way I think I should  be treated, but that goes back to  the point of this blog post.  To quote an old friend of mine:

“I have good days, and days that don’t go my way.”

So if you have a “bad” day, try to decide if there was something that you could have done to make it better.  Maybe I said something to trigger this person yelling at me (I tend to have a quick tongue).  I probably would not be so upset if I had just let that person cut me off.  Those people weren’t giving me a bad day, they just weren’t behaving the way I wanted them to.

After adopting that attitude towards the external situations in my life, my number of good days has significantly increased… and I have never had a bad day.

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

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Just over fifty pages of one book has proven to me that I absolutely never ever have anything to complain about in my life.

As mentioned before, I have committed to the 1am-2am slot every Friday night/Saturday morning at adoration for Lent.  I had thought about skipping the other night because I had to go to work at six the next morning, but I played the card of, “No, I made a commitment so I guess I’ll go even though I don’t like it.”  I decided that I would bring my own book that night.  Though the time is for prayer and meditation, it’s okay to bring a book, so long as it’s spiritual and not some romance novel or something.

I’ve been meaning to read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, and I figured it would be a great book to read, especially in the quietness of our small chapel.  Little did I know how much of an effect it would have on me.

Reading about Frankl’s experiences at Auschwitz was humbling enough (I’ll spare the details), but then reading how he was actually able to rise above the psychological and emotional effects of three years at the most notorious Nazi concentration camp?  Now that’s almost beyond understanding.  Now picture in your mind how I am reading this in a small chapel in the middle of the night and you might be able to understand how moved I was.

When I got home that night/morning, I had the most comfortable three hours of sleep I ever had.  To be able to sleep on a thick pillow, with a plush comforter on me felt like a real privilege for the first time.  It might sound odd at first, but I really saw the gifts of God in my bed, pillow, and comforter.

Dan Miller says that he reads Man’s Search for Meaning about every six months to keep a healthy perspective on life.  I haven’t yet finished the book and I think that I’ll be doing it myself.  You know, my kids just won’t leave me alone as I am trying to write this blog and sure, it’s annoying me.  But you know what?  My kids are annoying me, while I have the privilege to write a blog, on my couch, in my home.  I hope you get the idea because I’m tired of hitting CTRL-I.

So if you are not enjoying life, ALL – THE – TIME, read Frankl’s book.  It gives an entirely different meaning to, “Hey, it could be worse.”

Always Enjoy Life,
Zach Ellerbrook

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Ever had one of those wonderful dinners from Chef Stouffers or Chef Lean Cuisine?  Would you say that you were enjoying life after you ate it?

I say that there can be immense joy found in cooking food yourself.  It tastes better, it saves money, and best of all, you can customize your meal however you want!

Jamie Oliver has taken on a campaign to get people cooking again, to show them that cooking is “fun, cool, can save you money and help you, your family and friends to live a healthier life.”  He calls it the Ministry of Food, and I’m a believer.

To “Pass It On” like Jamie recommends, I’ll share how I found some yellow, red, and green peppers to add to an omelet, Jamie-style.  I didn’t think I would like an omelet without meat, but this turned out pretty good.

First, I turned on my stove top to about 5 or 6, chopped up my peppers, added a little olive oil to a pan, and threw the chopped peppers in.

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I scrambled my eggs while the peppers simmered in the pan.  Once scrambled, I added the eggs to the peppers.  There’s a neat thing that Jamie does with his fork to make sure all the egg mixture gets cooked.  You’ll have to watch the video, because he makes it really  simple.

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After much practice, I have learned to be patient and wait for the eggs to be really cooked before I add the cheese.

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Unfortunately, I got so excited about eating my breakfast that I didn’t take any more pictures!  Watch the video to see how to flip the omelet in half  (it’s really easy with a little practice).  After flipping, I let it cook for about 30-seconds on each side, and just slide it onto my plate.

Keep in mind that I made this… the other day and I still remember it.  I remember my omelet more than what day of the week it was!

So, if you know someone who says breakfast isn’t exactly an experience that makes them enjoy life, invite them over to my place and I’ll make ’em an omelet.

Always Enjoy Life,

Zach Ellerbrook

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.  Matthew 5:6 NAB

I know that righteousness is more about right thinking and character, but I say blessed are those who hunger and thirst for knowledge as well.

While on twitter I was recently reminded that the best teachers are the best learners, and it makes perfect sense.  How can anyone learn from someone thhat is not willing to learn themselves?  When I first realized this principle, I immedieately started opening my mind to learning more and more.  I listened more often than I spoke.  I started actively reading more, and actually tried to retain what I was reading.  In fact, I have read little fiction since becoming more teachable.

It’s a shame that I had to “come to the realization” that I would have more joy for life if I became teachable.  I mean, when you’re teachable, you learn more.  It’s one of those scary principles that become insanely obvious when you actually see it written out.

Yes, I am on the computer a lot.  I am trying to read a lot more.  After reading Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I am going to try to get to the point where I read a book per week.  Try it or something similar.  Do you hunger and thirst for knowledge?  If not, how much more do you think you would enjoy life if you did?

Of course like a good teacher, when you learn something new, be sure to pass it on to others, so that they may learn too.  Anyone can be a teacher.

Always Enjoy Life

Zach Ellerbrook

I think the most important characteristic in my personal key to always enjoy life is a sense of humor.

I had written before about how one can always enjoy life if they find something to be grateful for in every situation, but I belive that a sense of humor is even more important.

Many people in my life believe that all I do is crack jokes all the time, that I don’t take life – well, that I don’t take some situations in life seriously.  On the contrary, when I have a sense of humor about a situation, that is taking the situation seriously.

I’d like to thank my parents and my current career path for instilling me this sense of humor.  The thing is, my education has come in the form of much sarcasm, in other words, I got picked on a lot.  But once I got over myself, I was able to realize that there is much love in humor, and I started getting good at getting them back…

Just remember, if you and your friends “show the love” by picking on each other, that’s awesome just as long as it doesn’t turn hateful.

A  sense of humor.  I don’t think that one can enjoy life at all without it, much less enjoy it all the time.

Always Enjoy Life,

Zach Ellerbrook

The worst part about my route to work is that it’s a straight shot.  It’s nice that it’s only 7.5 miles long, but because it’s almost directly north of my home, there is only one feasable route I can take.

I love to break the monotony of driving the same way to all of my regular destinations.  I especially enjoy the back roads, simply because there is less traffic.  If there is anything that can stress me out and ruin my entire day, it’s a commute… anywhere, by car at least.

This Lent, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in 24-hour Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Fridays.  This is a new Lenten commitment for me, and has renewed part of my spirit and religious practice.  It may be crazy, but I chose the 1am-2am “shift” to make sure there is always someone in our chapel during Adoration. 

Last Friday was very rainy, not like a thunderstorm, but the kind that’s slow, steady, and cold for hours.  I came to church on my usual route of back roads, but on the way home, decided to take the main roads.  What a difference the time of day makes in traveling around town!  I had never been so at peace on these particular roads.  It’s amazing how adding a few cars on a road can add so much time and frustration to our commute.  Even with the rain, driving the main roads at 2am was such a joy.

So if you are frusturated with your drive, especially your everyday drive to work, try taking a route with less traffic.  Look at your surroundings a little (but don’t take your concentration from the road).  Admire your new surroundings and when they start to get old, then switch back to your old route.  It’s done wonders for my stress level.  Not only did I enjoy my surroundings during my drive, I also enjoyed my surroundings at work.

Always Enjoy Life

Zach Ellerbrook

p. s.  You might also want to try to reduce your speed about 5mph.  That helps too.

In order to truly enjoy life, we need to master the skill of gratitude.

Every single time I have found something to complain about, I have always found something to be grateful for within the same situation.  Sometimes I discover how I can be grateful right away, I calm down, and life is good once more.  Other times, I feel like crap because something isn’t going my way, and then I feel worse when I find that there was something to be grateful for, long after the moment had passed, and I blew the opportunity – but for some reason I still feel a little better after I find gratitude in the situation.

Gratitude is an awesome tool.  When I’m feeling negative, it makes me positive.  When I’m positive, it makes me more positive, and snowballs into a wonderful state of happiness.

There is something to be grateful for in every situation in your life.  Trust me on this.  If you are in a place that is negative, or even depressing, try it.  Try to find how to be grateful for your position, or even something to be grateful for within the position you are in, and you will see it in a new light.  It could just be one of many steps to lighting up your entire world.

Always Enjoy Life,

Zach Ellerbrook

I’m a little late in writing this morning’s afternoon’s blog for a couple reasons.

1.  I have children.

2.  They come before writing.

I don’t mean to write about the blatantly obvious but my kids are the easiest thing in my life to enjoy, and also the most difficult.  Honestly, it takes effort to enjoy my children sometimes.  I can get so caught up in “raising them right,” or “teaching them manners and respect” that I can forget how sweet, innocent, and gentle they are – even when they don’t exactly behave as such.  I must also note that I have been a parent for only four years, so I have much to learn.

I have to laugh at myself (and everything else for that matter) a lot in order to truly enjoy life.  I have never seen such enjoyment in a pile of video game cases, DVD cases, and tension rods as I have seen in my 14-month-old daughter.  Once I settled down from the “mess” that my child was making, it really turned into a beautiful sight.

Seeing God in my family is great training for seeing God in everyone else around me.  Sometimes it seems that I treat my neighbor a lot better than I treat my wife and children, but how much better will I treat my neighbor when I truly become the husband and father that God wants me to be for them.

On a final note, speaking of God, I enjoy my family a lot more when I realize that my wife and kids are not mine.  They are God’s children and it’s my job to treat them the way He wants me to.  The moment I treat them the way I want to, I’m screwed.

Always Enjoy Life,

Zach Ellerbrook