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TruthBeTold The Blog

Writings for Every Warrior.

Someone Like You...

July 21, 2021 • Trey McGuire

“UNLESS SOMEONE LIKE YOU CARES A WHOLE AWFUL LOT, NOTHING IS GOING TO GET BETTER. IT’S NOT." -THE LORAX Look in the mirror. What do you see? Many times, the person looking back is not necessarily someone we like. But...what if... What if that person, in all of their messiness, was someone that simply cared? What would this world look like? What would culture look like? More than that... What would THEIR world look like? What would the culture around them look like? You and me both know what it's like to get or send a text with the words "How are you doing?" We know the response that comes naturally..."I'm fine." Right? That is the typical exchange. And we also know that that answer is, for the most part, a lie. But....what if..... What if both the sender and the receiver found enough safety in the context of the relationship at hand to go beyond the "I'm fine." + What if we could be seen? + What if we could be honest? + What if we understood that our honesty can help others? + What if we saw how our authenticity pushes us further than we could ever imagine. + What if we felt the security to really let people in? Many times, we don't feel or experience any of the above "what ifs" because we've never seen it modeled. We can not begin to grasp the fact that... 1. We CAN face our storms. 2. We CAN own our reality. 3. We CAN share our stories. Yes, you're probably thinking that those are far reaching realities for everyone else out there except for me. I've thought it too. We all have. But what if... ______________ One of our friends, Phil Myers, posted about his own journey as he presses forward through his battles with depression, bipolar, and PTSD. This is what he recently wrote on his socials... "You would never know anymore unless I told you, but I’m crashing again. Yes I pushed but not “too much.” I pushed harder than ever this time and found another limit. So I backed off, just like you would in the gym, and I’m giving myself time. Time to rest and grow stronger. It’s exhausting, self imposed ups and downs with depression...it sucks. But it’s better than just staying stuck and down all the time. But I’m learning and growing each time. Maybe one day I’ll actually push or grow enough to beat it. Something a small part of me feels is possible even though the doc’s says it’s not. But heck, you all know I’m a little hard headed, so I’m going to keep going. Just keep going, It does gets better little by little. I truly feel if I can learn to make these changes within me. I can not only show and teach others how to do it too, but show the world a path to start healing as well.” - Philly _____________ You see, he has dealt with the thought of suicide on multiple occasions. He has faced the doctor telling him he has bipolar and PTSD. He has struggled with relentless depression. He has also faced the WHAT IF question... + What if this doesn't have to win. + What if there is purpose for me? + What if the pain can help me grow? + What if I can help change the world? For him, he had every reason to give up. He had every reason to quit. He had every reason to end it all. He had every reason imaginable to allow his story to be silenced. But...he didn't. He looked in the mirror...and even though he saw a lot of things he didn't like, he saw something deep down, almost seemingly microscopic. He saw that someone like him was actually what someone like me needed...and he didn't even know me yet. We met a while back as he joined our advisory team, as he was trying to figure out what to do with himself now that he was transitioning out of the military. We became friends quickly. One day, a conversation alot like the one I started with happened. Somewhere in there, I think both of us actually gave up on the facade that we were fine. Right then and there, we were both met with empathy and compassion, understanding and challenge. We found that, and still do, in our friendship. Now, as he treks off on the final half of his Appalachian Trail hike, he continues to press forward. Using his truth, using his story, using his vulnerability. And, like all of us, the truth of his story is still being written. So let me ask you...Where are you? Someone needs someone like you. Someone like you needs someone. As the Lorax so profoundly stated...“UNLESS SOMEONE LIKE YOU CARES A WHOLE AWFUL LOT, NOTHING IS GOING TO GET BETTER. IT’S NOT." What if getting better begins with a simple "How are you?" that is followed by a simple "I'm not okay" It doesn't take much effort...just some genuine care and a little time, and a choice to believe that still small voice that whispers truth in your ear... This is how we silence the lies that scream so loudly. This is how we give truth a voice. What if it takes someone like you? What if...

Read Any Good Billboards Lately?

June 11, 2021 • Brianna Cooley

Have you ever stopped and read your to go cup at a fast food restaurant? I’ve missed fast food this year and the closest place to my house is a chicken chain with really awesome ice. I know ice is a crazy reason to go to a restaurant, but… its really awesome ice. I was eating my chicken a few months ago and saw a fun quote on my Zaxby’s cup,   “Half full? Or half empty?... problem solved! Just refill” I didn’t really think anything of it until I saw a cool billboard this weekend. Our town in peppered with positive billboards and one really struck me,  “Cultivate Optimism” I always thought the answer to the question, Half Full or Half Empty? was half full… optimism! I’m a positive person. The answer is supposed to be half full. Right?!? But what if the cup is half empty? Does it really matter?  I have recently been reminded of the quote on my cup. When you begin to think of you glass as half empty, just refill your glass!  So, next time you feel a little empty, cultivate a little optimism....within your community, within yourself. Showing kindness cultivates optimism. By sharing kindness with others, you are helping to fill someone’s glass. The best part is by filling others up, we ultimately refill our own glass as well. Now, a little homework assignment:  + Eat chicken. + Read cups. + Pay attention to cool billboard. + Spread kindness and cultivate optimism.

Below the Surface

April 8, 2021 • Trey McGuire

As I walked up to the rock wall dividing the Louisiana Boardwalk from the banks of the Red River, I expected to see the same thing I usually see...a River, a couple bridges, some birds, maybe some logs floating downstream, and the Shreveport skyline. As fate would have it, I walked straight back from my favorite store (Under Armor) and directly to the riverfront. Did I see what I expected? Yes. Did it take me a second to look past literally what was the only nasty place on the surface of the water? Yes. I know that the river tends to be “rough around the edges” (just like, if we’re honest, most of us), but in this moment, the place I stood to look at it was the exact place that exposed the biggest flaw of what is usually, with all of its expected and natural blemishes, an absolutely beautiful scene. Especially on a beautiful day like today. Compared to the enormity of the Red, does this little bit of silt, sediment, and debris effect the power this river has? No. Does it change the life giving power this flowing stream has had for centuries? No. Does it diminish the fact that it is the sustaining resource to two cities? No. In fact, back in the 1800s, Shreveport was actually founded because of a much much much bigger issue than a little dirt and debris swirling around. A log jam that literally dammed up the river and the efforts to clear it is what actually led to the settlement of this area. From that point, it has continued to give life to unthinkable amounts of wildlife and millions of people. With that reality, the swirling mess still distracted me. If even for a few seconds, robbing me of the sheer beauty I was looking at in the much bigger picture. So, I’m that, I learned a few things. 1. Don’t give that blemish unnecessary power. 2. Do my part in preventing said blemish by making sure my trash doesn’t make it to the river. 3. Even with the mess, there is still purpose. Now, go look in the mirror. What do you see? A little dirty blemish, a huge log jamming failure, something in between? Are you allowing that to overpower reality? Can you define the problem? Call it out? Do something about it? Cause, like the river, you’re not defined by whatever problem you see staring back at you. Your not diminished because you may be a little dirty. And that understanding will help you take the steps to actually clean up the problem rather than letting it rob you anymore. Then go look at the people around you. Did you immediately see the flaw? Is that flaw distracting you from their inherent value? Maybe they can’t see reality when they look in the mirror. Maybe they need your help. Maybe, just maybe, you can be the one to look beyond what’s on the surface and help them out, because you see that what is underneath has unrecognized and untapped potential, just like this river did back when Captain Henry Shreve led a team to rid the river of the biggest natural disaster to ever hit our area. Therefore, leading to everything we experience today. Today, look beyond the flaw you see staring back at you. Whether it’s in your reflection or in that person around you. You both have no clue what’s under the surface. And you’ve allowed flaws to overwhelm the potential for too long. -Trey

The Price of Love

March 25, 2021

Chances are, you've been on the receiving end of that phone call that forever changes your life. You hang up the phone and you're left reeling. At times, the news is a complete shock. Other times, due to illness or some other reason, you may have began preparing yourself for this day. Either way, the news of the loss you now are dealing with has just thrown you on the struggle bus. For some, that loss was made known by a phone call. For others, that loss was realized in the midst of the emergency room. Some are standing beside their best friend when he or she is taken. And some are holding their spouse as they realize the dreams they had for their unborn child are quickly fading. Whatever the catalyst that threw you on the bus, fact is, you're now stuck in this almost hopeless cycle of pain, tears, anger, hopelessness, guilt, and everything else. And no, this grief is not only triggered by death. Grief is a natural response to any kind of loss, be in the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the sudden shocking loss of a relationship, and anything in between and beyond that seemingly robs you of what you truly and purely love. > Someone once said, "Grief never ends, but it changes. It is a passage, not a place to stay. It is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith; it is the price of love." When we get punched in the gut with grief, the immediate response is to try to run away from it. Why? Well, honestly, I'm not sure there is ANY emotional or physical pain that hurts worse. We run away by trying to numb it, working ourselves into exhaustion, surrounding ourselves with distractions, etc. I don't have magical words that will ease the pain or speed up the process, but what I do want to offer is a little bit of perspective. The last six words of the above quote..."it is the price of love." That hits deep. No matter who you are, do you know what the person or thing we grieve has in common across the board? LOVE. We love our parents. We love our best friend whom we lost. We love that unborn child. We love that relationship. We love that career that was cut short due to injury. We love whatever it is we grieve. They say that love hurts, and I believe that hurt is manifested through grief. Now, how does this help? Truth is, right now, in the midst of pain, it may not. What is needed when we find ourselves sitting in this seat on the bus is a willingness to own the fact that this hurts, badly. When we own it though, we must own the reason behind the pain, and that is because we LOVE! And, truth is, we still have love to give. Dreams, hopes, plans for tomorrow...all of that stuff that we were robbed of is a product of the pure LOVE we share with others. Because I am secure in the fact that I shared a love with one of my best friends who died of cancer at age 21, I can begin to healthily allow grief to do it's job, and that is lead to healing. The love we share as brothers, even if it was prematurely severed by his death, made me STRONGER when he was alive, and guess what, in his death, it made me even stronger. His voice still echoes in my heart and mind, over ten years later, pushing me further. Do I miss him? Absolutely. Will I ever stop? I sure hope not. Does it hurt? Yep. But...the grief I feel surrounding Nathan George has somehow, in it's weird way, allowed me to understand even more the meaning of love. That love gives me faith, makes me stronger, and moves me deeper into who I am and was created to be. And Nate passing away of cancer actually somehow, again, in it's weird way, helped prepare me for miscarriages and the loss of my parents, just to name a few. So, if you're on the bus, sit there, in the quiet, in the questions, and FEEL IT. Feel the pain. Cry. Get pissed if you have to. Give yourself permission to feel. Then, remind yourself that the reason you hurt is simply because you love (Notice I didn't say "loved," cause love never ends). And the love we have for each other...that pure love...that's a good thing. So yes, I hurt, but I hurt because I've got more love to give to who I lost...so why not, as healing happens, start giving that love to others who need it. Maybe, just maybe, that is how we honor the love we have for those we've lost too soon. -Trey

Fine

February 4, 2021 • Eric Hoffman & Trey McGuire

We want to ask you a serious question? What's happening inside of you? No...not physically (even though that is important). I mean, really, what is going on in your heart and mind? Maybe let us rephrase the question to something that you hear, and ask, all the time...HOW ARE YOU? If you just said to yourself, "I'm fine," then let us tell you a story. A couple years ago, the two of us met randomly at a Shreveport Mudbugs hockey game (yes, Shreveport/Bossier has hockey, and they are pretty legit, too). Fast forward to a booth at a local restaurant and over a plate of bacon and eggs, a conversation started off with that same question. Keep in mind, we didn't really know each other that well yet. We were't working together yet. We were, at best, acquaintances. Let's just say that the conversation that happened after that led us both to begin to understand the inherent danger with answering the "How are you doing" question with a passive "Fine". Truth be told, that question is an ice breaker and has kind of become just a greeting. Sometimes, we really don't mean what we're asking. And most of the time, the person on the other end knows that and their "I'm fine" is just as meaningless. In this breakfast meeting, however, we chose to press in. Midway through, the "I'm fines" that both of us shared were shattered by the fact that neither one of us were really fine. A couple hours later when we left, the things that we brought to the table with us that were buried deep inside bogging down our hearts and minds were laid out all over the place, yet still held in the confidence and trust of two adult men who chose vulnerability over the appearance of strength. We both would agree that this moment in time was when our friendship began, and when we learned (by experience) the sheer power found in just looking someone in the face and being honest. While it just kind of happened, we also chose to allow it to happen... - We created a space (breakfast meeting) - We paid attention. - We left room for the generic greeting to turn into a conversation. - We pressed in to signs that the other person was not fine. - We opened our mouths. - We talked. - We kept each others confidence. That day, we became friends. That day, because of vulnerability, we began to share each other's weight. That day, had we been okay with "I'm fine", then those two words could have rewritten the past three years. Wherever you are today, let us challenge you to begin practicing two things: 1. Slow down and allow room for a real answer when you ask someone how they are doing. 2. Refuse to answer "How are you doing" with "I'm fine." We put a lot of emphasis on the fact that the F-bomb is a pretty harsh word to use. However, let us present this fact to you: The word "Fine," when it's attached to a mask that you are using to cover up real hurt and pain, even if it's a subconscious response, is extremely dangerous. We are challenging ourselves, and we want to challenge you to this as well. Eliminate the word FINE from your vocabulary when you are talking about how you are doing. And when you hear someone say they are fine, slow down, and take a second and press in. Their healing, your healing, and what may end up being one of the closest friendships life has to offer, is waiting on the other side of the words "How are you." -Eric and Trey

All Alone

February 18, 2021 • Trey McGuire

- The moment I lost two of my brothers - Brentwood - My marital catastrophe - Career stress - Trying to evade failure - Normal life pressures - When I hung up the phone with my husband after introducing him to our newborn in an empty hospital room. - I was deployed for my sons first Christmas. - After an altercation with my father. - During my divorce. - Day 0 of basic training. - First day at Barksdale. - Some dark nights when I didn’t have my kids. - On the helicopter being med evac’d out of Iraq. - The day I died at the hospital in San Antonio. - My first week at my new base. - When my movers didn’t show up. - When I set my house up alone. - Leaving the sense of family I had in Minot - Coming to a place where I couldn’t eat inside of a restaurant. - Not having a church home, - Knowing literally no one. All of these, every single one of them are real situations where real Warriors and their family members felt completely alone. Even our current reality almost begs us to embrace this feeling. - Pandemics - Stay at home orders - Travel restrictions - Global chaos - Political separation - Unrealistic expectations - Racial division - Catastrophes - Even being iced into your home. With all that and then some, there's no wonder we struggle with the reality of isolation. There's no wonder we struggle with the feeling of loneliness. "Basically anytime that I looked around I realized there was not a person in the world that knows me that’d I’d want to unload my burdens on." The world around is noisy while the world inside of us screams even louder still. We wonder if it is even possible for this feeling to ever go away while simultaneously fearing this feeling getting any worse. That lump in the pit of your stomach meets the heaviness in the core of your heart while you're probably embracing the paralyzing and very real feeling of guilt at the very idea of moving forward or that humiliating feeling of shame that drives home the feeling of being alone. The tears flow as the sadness sets in. How did I get here? Why did I put myself in this situation? Why did this happen? What is going on? Will I ever heal? Did I do something to deserve this? All of these are real questions and we are desperate for answers that seem to be elusive. People with great intentions remind you... "You are not alone." "Go out and do something." "Go meet people." "Go get help." Yet the words just seem to echo in the empty cavern that is your heart. There is no magic formula to fight being alone. There are no ultra wise words that take away the pain. The filling that we long for can be found though, but it is all to often almost impossible to see because the emotion is so strong and the "solution" seems unattainable. Yet, it's there, silently, waiting, when you least expect it...and it's dressed in vulnerability and trust, self awareness and perspective, all held together by a little bit of action on our behalf. "On day one I was mad at the world. I stayed to myself. Didn't speak. On day 2, I still felt like crap but some people you would've never guessed came to me in my time of need. A guy who was living the street life was turning his life around because he wanted a better life for his daughter." "I felt as if I had no one or any support...until I met _______." "I started getting connected at work, taking time for prayer, going to the gym, enjoying the beautiful weather, exploring new areas and talking to family via FaceTime." You see, these are real life responses to the real life situations listed above. The personal responsibility, the choices made, the baby steps taken...that person that stepped in, that unconditional love given, that stranger who used his or her own experience....All of these things meshed together to form the beautiful chaotic mess that somehow helps us say "I don’t feel as alone, although there are moments that are incredibly lonely, it comes and goes. Being alone is physical. In that aloneness, there are so many things to keep your mind and soul occupied. Being lonely is an emotion that comes on when your mind wanders and thinks of everything you can’t control or you no longer have." These practical, yet gut wrenching steps, are the little day in and day out disciplines lead us to be able to say this... "It took a lot to come to be who I am today. I never wanted to share my experience, but ultimately I figured if it could help someone relate & see that the spark can light even when it seems lost, maybe it’s worth it..." This is the story of a Warrior who has realized that he/she could feel the emotion of loneliness and the sadness that may come with it, yet not allow it to isolate them into this unrealistic feeling of being alone.

Choices

January 28, 2021 • Trey McGuire

Choices, yes, we all have them. Some are easy to make, some, not so much. The man in the artwork for this post sent me the picture just this week. Accompanied by the pic was a text that read "I just finished my first 25 minute workout since my surgery." Why is this relevant to choices? Because the road before that pic was full of choices that he made...oh, and yes, completely unavoidable and unexpected traumatic events that he had no choice in as well. Let me tell you a story... Several years back, I get a call telling me that one of our Warriors had been injured. That day is when I met Landon Sias. Very long story short, that day began a series of two things... 1. Situations that were totally out of his control. 2. Choices that he could make. When faced with surgery after surgery after surgery to try to repair his crushed foot, what seemed as if it was a no-win situation was actually a series of small, under-the-radar choices that he had to make day in and day out. Sometimes, that choice was to take pain medication. Sometimes, it was to just get out of bed. Sometimes it was looking at the next step he had to take. Sometimes, it was just choosing to live. Pray. Let people in. Have a second surgery. Laugh. Cry. Get a dog. Ask for help. Get out of the house. Have a surgery. Get this brace. Let people in again cause you shut people out cause of how bad you feel. Talk to someone about how I feel. Take more pain meds. Get fitted for that next brace because the first one didn't help. Call someone when feeling down. Forgive. Have yet another surgery. Consider amputation. Move back home. Have a surgery to amputate. Get married. Smile. Cry some more. Smile again. Get out of bed. Stand up. Make the best of this. Heal. Get help. Fight like hell. Workout. Tell someone. You see, all of these, whether big or small, were choices that he made and will still have to make. He could not help the reality of his situation (and he still can't), yet, he had a choice in how he responded to it. Some of the choices seemed as if the only options were "the lesser of two evils" and, in those cases, he still made the choice. Even on the days where the only choice he had to make was survive or quit...he chose. On the unexplainable days where the pain temporarily subsided, he still made choices. Choices to share his story. Choices to process what was happening. All of these choices, and so many more, in the face of pure hell and constant pain, when he would have had every right to throw in the towel and sink deeper and deeper into darkness, these choices took something that started four years ago in a horrific way and turned it into a reason to celebrate today. You see, his choices could not be made alone. He had to choose to live in the weird tension that exists when you're facing traumatic moments. That weird tension that says I need people around me yet I don't want anyone around me. That haunting reality that screams I am alone yet surrounded by people. That place that demands you opening up to people on the better days so that on the dark days they can press in. On the days where you don't want to chose or cant choose, they can help you. And on the days where you can, they can support you. And then, also, in the middle of your own situations, those same people helping you make choices somehow find themselves in need of your help when they have choices to make. They need your reminding that, if nothing more, just chose to survive today. Landon did. I can only speak for me. Yes, there were choices I helped him make and some I watched him make. And I don't even know if he knows it or not but there are a few choices in the past four years that he helped me make. Even in the face of the unexpected and the situations where there seems to be nothing you can do, what choices can you make today? Simply...survive? Okay...good...admit it. We can work with that. Landon and I both know that choice. And for making the choice to do that, I am proud of you!

Family Goals

January 21, 2021 • Brianna Cooley

New Year’s resolutions have been around for what seems like forever. Barely anyone actually accomplishes them, and they just end up going to waste. Goals are meant to be kept and to help make you live a better life. The difficult part is that most goals were never meant to last, maybe you liked the idea of doing something different, or changing your life. The reason that you set a goal can be completely different than the reason that someone else sets the same goal. The secret to goal setting is…set it with someone you trust! If you don’t have someone there that is encouraging you to complete said goal it will never be properly accomplished. Setting family goals is a great way to stay accountable. For example, making it a goal to eat dinner around the table at least three times a week, or even finishing a show as a family. This way there is multiple people making sure the family goal is met. Personal and family goals help make the most important leap with goals, helping others learn the value of goals and how to achieve them. Serving others by encouraging them set and achieve goals can be the start of individual confidence and also the beginning of their journey to similarly help others. Setting goals to/that help others is another way that they can be accomplished. By setting goals that make others feel good, you are getting reassured that what you are doing is good. Even before the kindness comes back from others you will feel better from just being a kind person. Having this feeling after helping others will make you want to do it more and more. This is why setting goals that help others will benefit you completing your goals because it makes you want to keep being kind. Having goals such as giving at least 20 complements everyday or paying for someone’s food at a restaurant at least once a week are great goals to keep you and others satisfied. Bringing more people than just you into your goals, whether it be daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly, is a great idea! Setting goal that benefit others can be even better!

Voices

January 14, 2021 • Trey McGuire

Here it is...Friday night at 11:42 and I'm writing what was technically supposed to be published over 24 hours ago. You see, Thursdays are when we "drop new blogs"... BUT, which I know, that word negates what I just said right before it. BUT the idea was there, the artwork was there, the title was there, but the words would not come. The voice in my own head kept screaming "You have to talk to them about how they listen to the lies in their own head." Well, inspiration arrived at my doorstep earlier tonight in the form of a text message from one of my favorite people (and Warriors) on the planet. My Friend: "My mind is just running a million miles a minute." Me: "What’s it saying?” His answer was simply three specific things that he was allowing to overwhelm everything in his life. All three were coming from a deep, dark place inside of him, yet were all specific truths FOR his life. Problem is, he couldn't see the truth because the LIES were robbing it of it's VOICE. As I am writing my reply to him, I realize that I am actually writing this blog. Here is my reply to him... >>> "And you have plenty of reasons to worry about the future. Don’t allow yourself to carry unnecessary shame and guilt because “you shouldn’t worry about the future”. Own it. Yeah, it’s scary as hell. Yeah, you have some tough situations you are going to face. Yeah, you don’t have a clue what it will bring and everything you’re working on and praying for might just fall apart. >>> BUT, you faced fear before when you confessed your mistakes to your wife and to me. You faced everything literally falling apart because of mistakes (that you owned like a man I might add), and you dominated hard times by owning them, facing them, and even if you had to cry your way through it, you reached down and found the man deep down inside you and forced him to stand up. Here’s the coolest part...YOU SURVIVED!! You cried, cussed, prayed, wandered, cried some more, and probably a lot more crap, BUT, you also grew, matured, changed, and are now a walking example of owning your mess!" >>> And did I mention, you SURVIVED! >>> And do you know why you survived? Because you fought the voices that were lying to you by allowing people into the intimate places of your heart so that those trusted people could speak truth into you so that the lies were consistently overwhelmed with the truth. You see, the voice he was listening to was telling him: 1. You shouldn't "do anything stupid" 2. You should take care of yourself. 3. You should have faith that everything is going to be okay. All truth, right? Yes! Yes, don't hurt or kill yourself. That's truth. But the lies the truth was wrapped in kept reminding him of every mistake he has made and how much work and uncertainty the future may hold. Yes, he should take care of himself. That's truth. But the lies the truth was wrapped in reminded him of the possibility that he might be taken advantage of. The lies attacked his reasoning for taking care of himself. It wasn't to become better and for his own personal well being... No, the lies motivated him to enter into self preservation mode, coupled with doubt of even the closest relationships around him. Yes, he should definitely hope and have faith that everything will turn out okay. That's truth. But the lies the truth was wrapped in told him that it wasn't going to happen, that time was running out, that "everything turning out okay" still would find him stuck between a rock and a hard place. See the point? A little truth wrapped in the big lies that we tell ourselves will keep us paralyzed. Did you catch whose voice we're listening to? Yep, that's right. Most of the time, that voice is OUR OWN. It's our own thoughts that we give words to and give voice to, therefore, these lies take up residence in our mind and heart and become something we preach to ourselves subconsciously until the lie starts to look like truth. For a brief moment, or maybe for a lot of moments, the lies made him forget the overarching truth that the other three truths were born out of. Here is that truth: YOU SURVIVED! You survived what was meant to destroy you. So no, death or harm by your own hand is not even an option. You survived BY taking care of yourself. You let people in, you confided, confessed, cried, asked forgiveness, gave forgiveness, etc. The only reason you're still here is because you took the steps to care for you! So no, you being taken advantage of is not enough of a reason to not care for yourself. You survived BECAUSE you had faith that it would turn it okay. And it was only "okay" when you accepted responsibility for yourself and your actions and you dreamed of a day where your own growth created avenues that led to how things are currently turning out. That put the mistakes in their rightful place, and taught you lessons that have changed you from an almost 30 year old little boy to a real man (I can personally attest to that fact), We must overwhelm the poison of the lies with more truth. Own the current reality. And give a VOICE to the truth. - Yes, you royally messed up. Own it. - Yes, to some, you probably deserve your life to fall apart. Ok...I'll give ya that. - Yes, you have every reason to fear the unknown. Cause it's freaking scary. HOWEVER HOWEVER (While the word BUT negates what you just said, the word HOWEVER brings the first reality into the second reality.) HOWEVER!!!! - Because you can own your mess, because you understand that there are repercussions to mistakes, yet there is also forgiveness and grace between people, because you can admit when it's terrifying...BECAUSE YOU HAVE A HISTORY THAT PROVES YOU CAN SURVIVE IT! Even if you have to live through more hell, even if you have to face more repercussions, even if you have to look fear in the face every single day. YOU CAN SURVIVE IT AGAIN. HOW? Because of the VOICE you listen to. Cause voices can shift mindsets. Voices have power. Voices connect realities. Reality is, when your voice was weak, mine was strong. And one day, like in the history of our friendship already, when MY voice was weak, YOURS was strong. And because of that, and everyone else you have around you, and what I know you have in you, the lies that are borrowing your voice must be met with the overwhelming voice that speaks TRUTH. - Truth that reminds you of the growth you yourself acknowledge. - Truth that reminds you that you're loved no matter what. - Truth that reminds you that you're not alone, no matter how much you feel you deserve to be alone. - Truth that reminds you that you're a phenomenal mommy or daddy. - Truth that reminds you that you're loved no matter what. - Truth that reminds you that you can heal. - Truth that reminds you that you have experience that others will need one day. - Truth that reminds you that you're loved no matter what. Wait! Am I repeating myself? Maybe it's because its now 12:57 on Saturday morning. Maybe it's because that simple truth just bares repeating. So, did you hear it. You, yes YOU, my friend, my brother, my confidant, you are loved no matter what. So yeah, if you're reading this and made it this far down, and you are listening to the lies...begin dissecting them, ask yourself where they are coming from, what's the truth you can grab on to in it, and what lies am I just believing because I feel as if I deserve what's coming to me. Write them down! And out beside the lies, begin telling that lie the truth. For example... MISTAKE: - You cheated on your spouse. A FEW TRUTHS ABOUT THAT MISTAKE: - I need to confess. - I need to get marriage counseling. - I made a bad decision. - I may have an addiction. - I did not use self control. SOME COMMON LIES YOU MAY TELL YOURSELF: - I can't confess. - I can't forgive myself, much less, someone else forgive me. - Counseling will kill my career. - The counselor will just make me out to be the bad guy. - I'm a screw up (lack of a much more fitting term). - I can't quit looking at porn. - I am a horrible person. THE TRUTH ON THE FLIP-SIDE OF THOSE LIES: - You can confess, it will be hurtful and it will suck, but confession is ownership and confessing always wins. - Confession is the first step to rebuilding broken trust. Confession and ownership is the INVITATION for forgiveness...both for yourself and for the other person. - So what if it does impact my career...I CAN NOT allow MYSELF to sacrifice MYSELF on the altar of my career. Nothing is more important than my mental, relational, spiritual, and emotional health. Plus, truth is, it’s not going to effect it anyway. - If a counselor ever makes you feel like the bad guy, find a new counselor, cause that person is dangerous. - You may have screwed up...even a lot. That's an action...not an identity. - It's going to be a tough road, but there is someone around you waiting to lovingly help you put to death destructive patterns that cause you to give yourself to questionable actions. - Again, because it bares repeating, you may have made a horrible mistake, or series of mistakes, BUT you are not identified by that mistake. (Now, name what you ARE identified as...husband, wife, daddy, mommy, friend, Warrior, son, daughter, overcomer...you get the idea.) Bottom line, give TRUTH a VOICE! And the best way to start giving truth a voice is to do the bravest thing I believe you can do (just like my friend did) and let someone around you help you find that VOICE. So...Hey Warrior! I’m proud of you!

Here and Now

January 7, 2021 • Trey McGuire

Right here. Right now. This moment. Wherever you are. Wherever you've been. Wherever life has taken you. Wherever you've blown it. Wherever you've failed. Wherever you're going. Right here. Right now. This moment. Whatever you've done. Whatever you've faced. Whatever you're carrying. Whatever is standing in your way. Whatever is holding you back. Whatever is telling you you can't. Whatever mountain you're looking at. Whatever chaos you're trying to control. Whatever weight you're carrying. Whatever heartache you’ve caused. Whatever you just don’t understand. Right here. Right now. This moment. You're not enough. You're not valued. You're beyond repair. You're too far gone. You’re not worth it. You’re better off gone. You’re a joke. You’re a failure. You need to run. You need to disappear. You can’t move forward. You can’t heal. You don’t deserve it. You are a horrible person. Right here. Right now. This moment. How could you do that? How could you cause that? How could you allow that to happen? How could you live with yourself? Right here. Right now. This moment. You’re bringing all of that into the here and now. You’re allowing it to cloud every bit of judgement you have. You’re allowing it to rob you. You’re allowing it to steal from you. You’re allowing it to keep you handcuffed. You’re allowing stagnation. You’re allowing ineffectiveness. Right here. Right now. This moment. You’re listening. You’re listening intently. You’re hearing every word spoken to you. You’re hearing every word they said. You’re hearing every word you said. In this moment, You’re hearing every word you’re saying to yourself loud and clear. Right here. Right now. This moment. You’ve been lied to. You're lying to yourself. Even if there is truth to the pain of your past. Even if there are mistakes. Even if there is pain. Even if you bear some responsibility Even if... Right here. Right now. In this moment. If you want to start...stop. Stop listening. Stop lying. The lies are telling you you're not enough. The lies are telling you you're not valued. The lies are telling you you're beyond repair. The lies are telling you you're too far gone. The lies are telling you you’re not worth it. The lies are telling you you’re better off gone. The lies are telling you you’re a joke. The lies are telling you you’re a failure. The lies are telling you you need to run. The lies are telling you you need to disappear. The lies are telling you you can’t move forward. The lies are telling you you can’t heal. The lies are telling you you don’t deserve it. The lies are telling you you are a horrible person. The lies are drowning out reality. The lies are keeping you from accepting responsibility. The lies are telling you you can’t grow. The lies are telling you you won’t change. Whether the voice is theirs or yours Stop listening. Stop lying. Just stop. Cause there is only one thing you CAN’T do. And that one thing is this… You CAN’T allow the lies in anymore. Right here. Right now. In this moment. If you want to start...stop. *** No matter where or when you’ve been told you’re a failure or that you don’t measure up. Know that you are enough, you can achieve anything and everything that you believe you can. Keep driving, keep pushing past the lies you been told, or the lies you tell yourself. And, know this, we will always have your back!

Refined

December 31, 2020 • Trey McGuire

The word refined is defined as this: with impurities or unwanted elements having been removed by processing. Whether it’s sugar that is refined or gold, there is a steady process that makes the final element pure. Now, I’m not comparing us to sugar or gold, but I am saying that we as humans work the same way. Tonight at midnight, we’re going to finally bid farewell to 2020. This year has gotten its fair share of blame for its problems, but, what if, just maybe, we make the choice to let the events of this year be part of that refiner’s fire that has the power to purify us? Someone said just today that they were getting yet another middle finger from 2020 as it makes it’s way out the door. I myself have had my own instances that have made me wonder what in the world I did to deserve the turmoil this year. Truth is, you have, too. No, I don’t have some magic words for making this new year awesome, but what I do have is a little bit of perspective that I’ve only learned this year because some folks helped me see it. Here it is: I’m walking into a new year better than I walked into the last one. That statement can only be true if I choose to allow the hellacious moments to have their refining power in me. The fact that we had to face an early delivery of our baby girl made me face fear head on, and I learned that even in the most unsure situations, that I could depend on my faith and my family around me. Hellacious moments with major refining power. Fear was overwhelmed with assurance in the fact that I wasn’t alone and had a safe place to be fearful, but then pushed right back out there to face my fear head on. So yes, REFINING! Why? Cause the next time I face fear like that, I now have a baseline to go back to that only allows my fear to exist in its rightful place. I can go on and on, and so can you. Here’s my challenge: What moments in your life just over the past year have refined you? What has pressed you so much that it made you face the not so pleasant parts of yourself? When faced with those parts of you, what was also standing there to take the place of the poisonous parts that were being exposed? Perspective. It’s not a pipe dream. It’s a reality. And how we view things truly does usher in elements that can either build us or break us. So, let’s allow the refining fires that we are in have their full effect. And when they expose something that is poisoness to us, let’s slow down, examine, and press in to the refining process, and allow ourselves to be purified. Just as gold is refined by fire and diamonds are created by immense pressure over time, so are you and me. The difference is that when we are refined, we get to tell a story of how our refining changed our lives...and then our refining is given even greater purpose, cause it’s helping someone else who is starting their beautiful, yet painful, refining process.

Action > Intention

December 17, 2020 • Jason Barnshaw

Let’s be honest...no one wakes up in the morning and thinks to themselves, “let’s see how I can make other’s lives more difficult” or “how can I show people I don’t care today”. The reality is, most of us start out our days with intentions to be kind, positive, and to make our day successful. While our “intentions” are good...many of us struggle moving past intentions to actual action. Make no mistake, there is a HUGE difference between every day, complacent “niceness” and true genuine care. I’ve heard this referred to as “surface kindnesses”...you know, asking people how they are doing not because we care, but because we feel it’s the “right thing to do”. Be honest with yourself, you have done this before haven’t you? We spend a majority of time displaying this “surface level kindness” and just moving on with our lives...never really paying attention to the responses. If we truly want to make a difference, both in our lives, and the lives of others...we need to transition from intentions to ACTIONS. These actions can be found by being present in the moment...actually PRESENT. Meaning, when you ask how someone is doing, stop...and actually listen to the response. Take the time out of your day to SHOW people that they are valued. To SHOW them that you care. This is the type of kindness our world needs right now. The kind where we move past surface-level and intentions...and display genuine care by being present with others. Remember, kindness is best displayed through actions, not just words. -Jason

The Best Christmas Ever

December 17, 2020 • Julie Cooley

How to give yourself the Best Christmas Ever?!? NO, I am not kidding. Yes, I am fully aware that this is Christmas 2020! How many of you are having the Christmas you expected to have? How many of you are traveling? Seeing all of your family? Attending Christmas Socials? How many of you are upholding your family traditions this season? This can be a year where Christmas can easily be a season where you look at what you DON’T have instead of really focusing on what you DO. There is a freedom in letting go of your expectations and creating the #BestChristmasEver… You have 7 days to make it happen! Let me give you an easy recipe to make it happen. 8 years ago, I found myself in a little funk and I searched for ways to bring myself joy. A friend of mine, Jennifer, from a duty station we were living at during that time posted a simple FB post that changed my trajectory and has allowed each Christmas since to be the #BestChristmasEver… in fact, every Thanksgiving has been the #BestThanksgivingEver as well. Jennifer posted ‘Honest November’ posts each day that month. She was raw and honest with her friends and I looked forward to seeing her posts each day. I knew we were on to something and I quickly found a way to keep it going through December. ‘December Blessings’ took over as our theme. December 1 of 2012, I shifted my focus. A tradition I have seen through nearly every day of every December since. No matter the circumstances I have created the most amazing moments and have given myself the gift of the #BestChristmasEver each and every year. Simply put, I took the weight off of myself by looking to serve others each day of each December. (more on my ‘how’ below) Here’s where you question whether any of the 8 years have looked like 2020… and yes, we have had some hard seasons. We have lost family members during the holidays. We have had TDY’s that have lasted nearly the entire month. We have had strep and flu and pink eye and fever. We have even had December PCS’s that took me to my breaking point. In 2017 I thought I was looking at the #WorstChristmasEver. (Many of you may be there right now) We had ‘orders’ to move to Barksdale. Well, "orders" is a strong word… I had a husband who had moved to Barksdale while we were left behind at Maxwell due to trouble with our orders. Our house sold super quick and we were left homeless and orderless staying in a TLF until we could get it sorted out. Our youngest daughter and 2 of our dogs with me on Maxwell, Casey and one dog staying on FamCamp at Barksdale, one daughter living at college, and our oldest away at Air Force BMT (for Thanksgiving and Christmas), and everything we owned sitting in a storage facility. That Christmas season, our family of 5 was living in 4 different temporary locations. We finally made the move to Louisiana on December 23rd. A $29 plastic tree and a 5-minute phone call from Basic Training in a big empty house were what we were excepting for Christmas 2017. By 5 days before the move (exactly 3 years ago today) I found myself sad, frustrated with everything, and falling into a depression. This was until I remembered my promise of years past. In 2012 I promised to change my mindset each December and create the #BestChristmasEver and the best Christmas season ever… and through all my personal turmoil I had given up my control to my circumstances. Immediately, I got back on track...and I want to help take back control of your Christmas and give you the #BestChristmasEver too! My big secret… the way to take the weight of the world off your shoulders this week… intentional kindness through small acts of generosity. Every. Single. Day. It’s that easy! Whether today is baking cookies for your next-door neighbor, buying groceries for your friend’s with Covid, dropping Christmas cards by the Police Department, Fire Department, or even your command (these were a few of my acts today). Stop what you are doing and do something for someone else…today! When we have the spirit of generosity our outward action is kindness! The amazing thing about Kindness is its level of contagiousness! I believe it is like 6.4 times more contagious than this pesky virus ;-) When you are kind to others, they feel awesome, but you also get a wonderful feeling down in your soul. But here is where you really change your mindset. After a few days you begin to start seeing opportunities all around you to show generosity and kindness and it can become almost a competition with yourself to outdo yesterday. After a few days you have to start really thinking about cool new ways to show kindness. So, you have 7 days to show kindness to others around you and give yourself the gift of happiness and fulfillment this Christmas. What is that old saying? It’s better to give than to receive. When you decide to show generosity through small acts of kindness this old saying will truly make more sense. That’s it… That is my recipe for creating the #BestChristmasEver no matter your circumstances. I would love to know what ideas you come up with and how it affects your week going into the Christmas holiday! – Julie

Happiness = Expectations / Reality

December 3, 2020 • Eric Hoffman

Most of the times you read the blog or watch one of the videos we are sharing some amazing knowledge that we have learned through our experience of reading, or we've been blessed to hear from some awesome leader. This concept is the same but I don't even remember where I first heard it. It has helped me in so many situations, so just hear me when I tell you this truth. YOUR happiness is YOUR expectation divided by YOUR reality. That may sound like an algebra problem, but if you look at your overall satisfaction in your life, it is usually based off of what expectations and goals you set for yourself, and where you are in achieving those. Let me give you an example: I joined the Air Force with no college, in fact, before I graduated high school, I was at basic military training (long story…) So when I commissioned as an officer nearly 15 years into my career, I knew I would be looking to retire before most of my peers. When I had a plan to retire as a Captain, those around me were looking at Lieutenant Colonel, at a minimum. For me and my situation, the only thing that would equal true satisfaction was to not worry about anyone else’s expectation for me but, rather, to rest in the fact that if I retired as a 24-year captain in the Air Force, I was still so much better than I had ever thought I would be as an Airman Basic straight out of high school. I will give you a non-military example: We all know that friend that can lose 5lbs walking around the block. While, at the same time, it takes me a month of dieting and five workouts a week to MAYBE get five pounds less on the scale. I would gain a pound just looking at sweets! Speaking of gym time I once had a friend who entered me into a bench press contest without my knowledge. We worked out together and he wanted me to bench press my personal best. I did...I set a personal best of 235lbs for one rep. I had not been lifting very long, and to me I was over the moon ecstatic. My friend was so happy that I had met that goal that he couldn't care less that he totally dominated the competition and won first place overall easily...not to mention his warm-up weight was 415 lbs! Had either of us set an expectation that was unreachable or unmeasurable, neither of us would have been satisfied by our outcomes. And because I had set my expectations correctly, I was not the slightest bit upset that I benched well less than half of what he did by his championship round. When you are looking at setting your expectations so you can compare them with your reality and determine your happiness, make sure you are setting YOUR expectations, not those of your family, not those of somebody else, but those of yourself. If you find yourself filling boxes along someone else's checklist to their success, whether you get that stripe, get that rank, get that promotion, get that reward...it will not mean as much to you as if you would have chased your OWN goal! So make sure it's: YOUR goal. YOUR reality. Because it's YOUR happiness.

Dear 2020 - The Blog

December 3, 2020 • Trey McGuire

If you could say anything to the year 2020, what would it be? That's a loaded question, I know. Here are a couple responses I bet I would get if I asked that publicly: Dear 2020... You sucked! You took from me. You isolated me even more. You need to calm down. Go home, you're drunk. Or any number of expletive laden responses that need not be written here. Yes, for many of us, me included, this year has been a challenge. Yet here we are on the final stretch before we ring in a hopefully less relentless 2021...but that reality remains to be seen. Looking back over this year I have to say that it's been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, and at times I was ready to just jump out of the moving car as it zoomed down the tracks. One of our team members had the idea of writing letters to 2020 as a way of bringing closure to the year. Which got me to thinking...what would I say if I could say anything to this year? Well, here goes... Dear 2020, I have said it before and I will say it till the day I die...I will not say that you have been a "bad" year. The reason for that is simply because my little girl was born. Our miracle made her grand entrance two and a half months early, and while you tried hard to make that as difficult as possible, you didn't succeed. Actually, your attempt backfired... That was not your only attempt to break me...no, besides her being born, a lot of the rest of it was not too great. You tried derailing our rebrand of our organization from the beginning while at the same time trying to make an outgoing person sit behind closed doors in his house praying that his pregnant wife would not catch this new and unknown and seemingly scary Covid-19 disease. You tried to get me with fear and worry, yet that backfired... You took my grandmother and my dad two months apart ,and right when I'm on the high of becoming a dad myself. You gut punched us at the same time bringing us to a low that was hard to comprehend while being on such a high. And while that went up and down and up and down again, you failed again... You tried injecting isolation and loneliness into my heart and the hearts of many of my friends, yet technology and a little creativity with a whole lot of intentionality proved once again to make you fail... You stripped away much of what we had become accustomed to when it came to the Network. Events were canceled and the very Warriors we serve could not gather or even go inside stores for a while and still can't go in restaurants...but, that too, backfired... You threw the net wide when you tried to get everyone to hate each other and attack each other based on fundamental beliefs, politics, and everything else that is divisive...and while you may have seemed to succeed in some peoples viewpoint, to me, you failed miserably. I don't want to boast about your failures, because I know all to well it's probably not over and that "the fat lady may just be clearing her throat", but, I want to educate you on why you failed with me. You made me realize that I was not alone. You made me realize that I already had people around me who loved us. And those people showed up in force when our world was challenged through Ad's birth and the loss of our family members. We learned that a face to face conversation CAN actually be replaced with phone calls and text messages if need be. Yet, we now crave that face to face conversation even more and I personally value it more than I ever did before. The hugs, handshakes, fist bumps, man...those are VALUABLE. You brought me to rock bottom and I learned, through the help of family, friends, and counsel, that I could fight back, get pissed off, and fight for growth that needed to start happening. Yep, your attempts to beat me down backfired and are now making me stronger. You rocked the world with isolation and fear and depression and confusion, yet your "bad" brought with it a fighting for togetherness, friends that help friends stay calm, closer relationships than I've ever had, and a peace that this is just the beginning of learning many valuable lessons. Your pandemics, viruses, lockdowns, and everything else were and still are good attempts on your behalf, but still, the people you are messing with are a tough bunch, and they are even tougher when united. And even though you are still trying to divide, I'm going to fight you every step of the way and with everything I have in me. Yes, I'm going to fight to the death to unite. Family, you attacked family, and well, quite frankly, family is what I thought I fought for. Because you attacked it, you made me realize that I needed to not neglect fighting for it even more and taking it for granted. And by family I mean my wife and kid, my extended family, my friends that are like family, our EW family, and my church family. Yes, you may have came in like a wrecking ball in an attempt to wreck shop, but what you did was make me pay attention. You made me dig deep and find the courage to grow and heal. By stripping away all the fluffy stuff we did with the Network, you forced me even deeper into my purpose and made me face my insecurities and fear, and because of you, I am writing this letter as a stronger man, husband, daddy, friend, and brother. You made me realize that those five titles are worth having, even more valuable than any title that I could gain through work or position. You helped me see that people matter...period. You helped me see that it's okay to get help. You helped me grow. You pressed me deeper into my faith. You made me see even more that I can love people who don't necessarily agree or believe like I do...and that these people can be great friends of mine. You taught me that I can be honest, be seen, be vulnerable, and be transparent, and still be loved and that inside that love resides no judgement. So, 2020, thank you for being a great teacher. Even though the lessons seemed backwards and relentless, thank you for helping me see that I can grow. I am better today than I was on January 1, and that is because each gut punch pushed me closer to the people God had put around me, who were ready and willing to pick me up, dust me off, and help me stand back up stronger. I don't want to antagonize you, but rather I want to thank you. And yes, I want to be a constant reminder to you and to anyone else who sees me that you failed to accomplish your mission to break me, my family, my friends, and this world down, no, your greatest attempts backfired, and we stand here today...stronger, healthier, better. -Trey So yes, we want to read your letters as well. Click the links above to learn more about our Dear 2020 campaign and how you can submit your own letter.

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