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I Needed A Sign

My friend Shawn is extraordinarily creative. His imagination allows him to create just about anything you can think of. Recently, we built a chalkboard sign to hang on my kids wooden playhouse.

Proud To Share

I came home from Shawn’s excited to show my wife the sign we built and my vision for it. I eagerly took it outside to find the best place to mount it on the playhouse. However, I quickly learned that no matter where I placed the sign, it was going to disrupt the way our kids run around the house. I feared my daughter would hit her face on it as she often was being chased by her older brother. I needed a new plan on how to use the sign.

Plan B

I had another idea on where to mount it. This idea was more for my wife and I then it was for the kids. Let me explain…

We have this incredible 60 year old tree that anchors our backyard. Every morning I go in the yard with our two dogs and walk barefoot over to this giant tree and greet it with a morning stretch. I often wonder what this wise old tree is saying back to me. As I thought about the idea of a talking tree, I realized that this tree would be a great place to mount the sign! Especially since we look directly at it when standing in our kitchen.

My thought was to write verses on it to memorize & inspire us. I explained this idea to my wife, which she loved, but I could tell she was eager to evolve my thinking.

“ONE WORD!” She said out loud.

“One word a week to ignite a fire in our bellies & inspire our day.”

I smiled at her and thought, one word it is 🙂

Our First Word

I still needed to paint the sign and get some long screws to mount it to the tree. My building adventure continued as I ran to the hardware store to finish the job. When I returned, I began to sense that I was spending a little too much time on this project. I hurried up and painted the sign to complete the task at hand.

As I walked inside the house, I could see the kids were losing steam for the day, dinner wasn’t ready, and the excitement of the sign project was fading fast into the sunset.

My wife and I began to bicker about something petty and it led to one of those arguments when you can’t even recall what you are arguing over. I think we were both just feeling tired & ‘hangry’!

As we found our way into bed, we said our prayers and drifted off to sleep as I knew tomorrow would bring about an apology and a fresh start.

The next morning, I woke up to let the dogs out and walked over to the tree. With an extra pep in my step, I proudly stretched up and saw the sign.

And there it was!

The first word.

CHOICE.

Choice I thought?

What the heck does this mean? This doesn’t feel overly inspiring. Heck, it kinda upsets me!

I smiled thinking about our argument and reflected on the first word my wife had chose to write. I’m pretty sure she was reminding me that I have a ‘choice’ on how I speak to her 🙂

I spent a lot of time that week reflecting on this simple, yet powerful word.

We All Have Choices

Choices on the words we use.

Choices on how we spend our time.

Choices on who we choose to pour our energy into.

It’s amazing how a single word can have such an impact on how we feel & act. It can lift us, inspire us, deflate us, and even change our world.

As you begin your day, take some time to reflect on the words you speak and the signs all around you. They are often lessons to be used for guidance and growth. And if you are feeling stuck or down on your luck, then you can always just build one!

p.s.

Here are a few more of the words that have spoken to us this month. May they speak power into you!

“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when your riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!” — Bob Marley

Recent Speaking Events

Fifth Third Bank — Leadership Offsite

Best & Brightest in Wellness — Wellness Awards Conference

Leadership Detroit — Camp Tamarack Kickoff

MISD — Back to School Symposium

BASF — Leadership Offsite

I’d love to speak at your next event. Connect with me here.

About Mark

A man of many interests and a wellspring of energy, Skidmore Studio’s Mark Ostach is on a mission to motivate people to become the best possible version of themselves. Mark holds degrees in economics, psychology, technology, and even had a short stint at massage therapy school. He is determined to remind the world that human connection is the most powerful connection we have.

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Let There Be Light!

Every time I need to cry I call my mom.

I’m not sure exactly why, but it works like a charm.

Tears of Joy and Sorrow

Yesterday my parents and brother joined my family at Christmas service at Kensington Church. As I sat between my mom and my wife I could feel the tears begin to swell.

While holding my mom’s hand I could feel her healing touch and the bond that exits between a mother and son. Our bond is particularly special. In an instant I felt a download of emotions from every Christmas service we’ve attended together for nearly four decades.

As I held my wife’s hand, I could feel the love that exists between us as we try our best to hold down the fort with two toddlers at home. My hand laid upon hers as I felt the rings on her finger, reminding me of our wedding day and the birth of our children.

The hands of these two women created a connection that words cannot describe. Only through tears could I express how I felt.

There was so much to be thankful for in this moment, yet so much emotion in a room full of people just like you and I.

Reflecting In The Light

I turned to my mom as she wiped away tears from her check.

I just got done doing the same to mine.

My tears were those of appreciation for the life that God has provided me with.

Yet as of late, I’ve let the frustrations of life damper the light that shines within.

I’ve been insensitive to my wife (a lot).

Short-tempered with my children.

And been feeling rather downcast.

Maybe it’s seasonal depression?

Maybe it’s because I’m tired?

Or maybe it’s because those closest to me are going through difficult times of divorce, disease, and discouragement.

As an EMPATH (a personality type that over empathizes for others), I have the tendency to take on the weight of the world. Sometimes it fills me up and allows me to give to others and not just focus on myself. Other times, I get overwhelmed with emotions making it hard to sort through the feelings on my heart.

I was reminded today that it’s not on me to fix or heal other people’s situations. I can only shine the light that exists within me and hope this brings peace and healing.

Let There Be Light!

These four words hold so much.

They were the first words God spoke into the world.

Light was the first thing each of us experienced when entering into the world.

And light was even present at the exact moment each of us was conceived!

Seeing Life In A New Light

Scientist recently discovered that at the exact moment a sperm penetrates an egg, the egg release billions of zinc atoms that emit light.

This means that sparks literally fly at the moment of conception! How amazing is this?!? As you sit with this thought, it points to the significance that light has on our existence. It’s the source of so many things.

The Source of Vision

Without light, we can’t see a thing.
This holds true physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

As we sang together at the end of church I could literally see hundreds of candles lighting up the room.

It was giving light to the darkness in our hearts and allowing us to see the power that comes from a single light that spreads to others.

My Hope For You

Take time to be with the light that shines within you.

Reflect on the things that may be covering it up.

Grab a candle, put on some music, and light up the room that you are in. Even if you are by yourself.

And know that the greatest source of light is looking for a crack in the door of your heart to shine through!

“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Past Speaking Events:
Comcast — Year end leadership meeting
mParks — 2019 Annual Conference
AllState — Thrive Talks
ICLE — Health Law Institute Conference — 25th Anniversary

I’m currently reading the book Whisper: How To Hear The Voice of God, By Mark Batterson. Like all of Mark’s books, he has the ability to make the pages come to life and inspire you to dig into your spiritual health.