To: World

Have I told you about my sister?

It seems the fact I have a sister has been little known in recent times. Whether people just ignore my social media posts, never look at the “About” page, or just don’t think to ask, some people just didn’t know I had a sister. I thought I could take a moment to tell you about her.

My sister is one of the most incredible people I have ever met. By the grace of God I was raised in a family full of world changers that each deserve their own spotlight (which I may do in the future), but I felt the need to turn that light onto her name recently.

I have a sister named Jessica Lynn Carney. She is older than me by a little more than 2 years, but shorter than me by a lot more than 2 inches. What she lacks in height, she makes up for in attitude (and strength). I feel I’m a little scrappy myself, but I know she could take me on any given day and I feel confident she’d crush the majority of my friends as well. Even though she could crush me, she can control it (sometimes). I remember once when I was little I had hit her in the face because she accidentally poked me in the eye. I’m sure it took everything in her to not punch back, but I’m glad she didn’t because I didn’t want two black eyes.

Jessica is also beautiful, which is why I had to develop my strength. No matter how old we get, I always have some stupid guy make comments to me about my sister. I don’t know when that is ever appropriate, but there is always truth behind what they say. She’s a knockout, and she can knock you out.

What amazes me about my sister though is that her strength and beauty go much deeper than what you see. She is tough, and she has gone through some difficult times in her young life that made her that way. But if you get past the tough skin and into the inner circle of her life you will see another side of her that will shake the foundations of everything you know.

Jessica is, was, and forever will be the truest form of the term “World Changer.” When I think of a W.A.G.O.H. (Woman After God’s Own Heart), I think of her. She is hungry, never getting enough of the Word of God. She is bold, never afraid to share about her beliefs and her relationship with Jesus Christ. She never quits, no matter how many times she is knocked down.

And man, let me tell you what can rock your world about her, and if you know her you’ll agree. She is a prayer WARRIOR, through and through. When this girl taps into that vein with the Holy Spirit she makes the sun stand still like Joshua. She parts the Red Sea like Moses. She can slay a giant like David and breathe life into dry bones like Ezekiel. I truly believe that. I know the bible gives us all the power and authority to do so, so I’m not doubting that myself or you cannot do the same. I just know she makes things move.

My biggest regret, I have not told her this enough. I feel as a brother I have failed in sharing with her and others how much I believe in her, how much I love her, and how I would do anything for her if she needed it. In the past I had allowed myself to focus on the things that upset me, the things she had done or had not done, and other small things that distracted me from who I know her to be. I wanted to take a minute of my day to magnify what I know to be true and introduce her to you.

Matthew 7 says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged… How can you say to your brother (in my case sister), ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”

My plank was blocking my vision. Don’t let it block yours.

To those of you that know her, say amen.
To those of you that don’t, you may want to meet her.
To my sister, I love you. Please forgive me, and stay true to who God has called you to be. You can move mountains, so MOVE.

Sincerely,
Guy who needs eye surgery.

Splintered

Over the past several years I have had quite the run of teachable moments. It is amazing what all we learn, day in and day out. Some things we learn on purpose, others on accident. We learn through reading, through listening, through observing, and a lot of things we learn through eating (or not eating). We also learn though victory, but more so through defeat. However, some of the greatest things I have learned were through pain.

It’s hard to see in our moments of pain that we can learn something from it, but we always do. Sadly we learn the wrong things or blame it on the situation. But when we step back and see what we can do differently, that is when we learn the most.

The month of February is such a funny month. It is supposedly the “love” month, but so many people hate it. Usually those people are just bitter because of past relationships, or because they are single now. I have heard so many girls complain about how they are “always single on Valentine’s day”. I should let you in on a little secret, some guys do it on purpose. It saves them LOTS of money.

But I’m not here to talk about V-Day, sometimes known as D-Day. I want to share one of my teachable moments.

Since around 8th grade I have been in several relationships. Some of those relationships, especially in early years, were not true relationships. In Collinsville relationships changed more than what they served in the cafeteria, which actually didn’t change much now that I think about it. But I, I was a ladies man. Self-proclaimed of course.

It is amazing when you look back on high school and middle school and realize that everything your friends told you was normally wrong. I guess I never set back and thought about the fact that I taking advice from kids my age that had no experience either. The only wisdom we all had was what we thought was cool, or had heard older kids talk about. No one really knew that what was “so cool” was actually detrimental. The things I thought would make girls love me would in the end make them hate me, and also take pieces from the inside of me.

It wasn’t until July 7, 2012 that I realized why I felt empty and hurt.

I was on a “missions trip” that was really just me running away from everything I knew. I am blessed with a second family down in Reynosa, Mexico at Big Heart Orphanage, and they let me come down and do some work for them to get away from everything else. I needed time away from everything I knew. I needed time with my creator. Even though I had planned this time away, I had no idea what God was going to show me through that time.

I picked up a new series by Andy Stanley called “The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating” and listened to it at night. You may be thinking I talked about this in my last blog, but this is a little different. It was somewhere on part 2 or 3 that I found myself laying in my bunk weeping uncontrollably. I literally had to change bunks because I had soaked my pillow and sheets. Andy talked about how in relationships, we don’t realize the soul ties we create when we cross boundaries. I had been in many relationships and had no clue how to set boundaries. He continued to talk about how sex is not just physical, but it ties us at the deepest emotional and spiritual levels.

Andy then talked about something I would never forget. He said that physical things are meant for marriage, and how the two are supposed to become one. He used the analogy of glueing two pieces of wood together. Andy said that the purpose of the glue was that now, the two boards have become one and they are strengthened together. But outside of marriage, when the relationship ends, that those two boards are then pulled apart. If you have ever seen two boards be ripped apart then you know that there are pieces of each board on the other. There are splinters of each other on the other.

That is when I realized why I was in pain, and felt like there were pieces of me that were missing. I finally realized this was me. Splintered.

I began weeping because I wanted so much for God to take away my pain. I wanted so much for God to pour into my life. I needed him like never before. I needed him to teach me how to stop making mistakes. I didn’t want to be splintered any more. On that day I vowed that the old me was dead, and I knew I had a long journey in front of me.
So I wrote on my wrist a date to forever be remembered.

July 7th, 2012
R.I.P. Daniel “the Ladies Man” Carney.

For any one who has ever had a splinter, you know the pain. There is something very interesting about splinters though. If you leave them alone they can heal without coming out. The skin will grow over them. When this happens they don’t catch anything, so they don’t hurt as often. However, that splinter remains under the skin and if you apply a little pressure the pain comes back again. Even though it can be painful, it is best to remove the splinter.

This is what we have to do in life. We can’t just cover up the pain, we have to remove it. I began praying that God would remove the pains, remove the splinters, and help me learn from my mistakes. It was painful to break away from empty relationship after relationship. And it seemed even more painful to be alone. It wasn’t until I started focusing on removing the splinters and seeking The Healer that I started to become whole again. I was sharing the other night with our connect group that it wasn’t until I started taking the focus off finding the right person that I started to grow and heal. I had to become the right person.

I began to focus on what I could do better, what I needed to do, everything I could do to heal. This too was the wrong approach. I needed to focus on Him.

I’m not saying that since then I have been perfect. I’m not even saying that I haven’t made the same mistakes since then. What I am saying is that it changed me. I began to grow from that moment, and the more I began to realize my mistakes and apply this to my life, the more I began to heal.

Faith is a journey, not a destination.

I believe I have seen more personal growth in the past several months than I ever have before. I truly think it stems from this one principle: I took my eyes off of me, and placed them on Him. I started to pursue The Word more. I started to have more conversations with him. I started removing the splinters that have pained me for so long.

It amazes me how applying these things I have heard all my life actually work. What a teachable moment, to learn something through pain what you could have learned years prior by just listening. It’s just a good reminder, we all have teachable moments. Some learn through pain, some through listening, some through reading.

True wisdom comes from learning through someone else’s pains and mistakes. How will you learn? Save the pain, save the splinters.

 

R.I.P.

Today marks 3 years since I lost a big part of my life.
I have to say, I think I am better off.

Growing up, there was a kid that I still admire some days. Full of life, he lived to serve others and make them laugh. He had such a gift for bringing light to a room and charming anyone he met.

There was a day in middle school I’ll never forget. He was cornered by some friends and faced with a dilemma: morality or popularity. Like many middle schoolers, he chose the latter. Man how he was mistaken. This choice led him into many bad decisions, lots of tough mistakes, and several stressful nights.

High school was just an increase of the same. His charm, humor, and good looks were definitely a gift from God, but a curse all in the same. I heard it said once that “an unguarded strength is a double weakness”. That was definitely true for him.

By the grace of God he stayed away from serious trouble. It amazed me how he was always able to slide under the radar. He was so great with the ladies that it made him cool with the guys, except for the guys of some of those ladies. In high school, that was really all that seemed important. He was a ladies man, and that was a big deal.

At one point he actually had other guys approaching him for advice. Some guys just needed some courage and uplifting, others needed a complete over haul. He used to always joke that they stole the idea for the movie “Hitch” after watching his life, except he never got paid for it. One guy actually called him one time just to say thank you, because he was now in a relationship and owed it all to his advice. How cool is that?!

He was a good guy deep inside. He just didn’t always make the best decisions.

I remember when we went to college the path continued. Except now he had less restrictions, more money, and a complete new world of friends. He continued on his course of what he thought was fulfillment, but would soon be his destruction. I remember watching some nights and I would just sit back and be so sad inside. I just knew that what he thought was fulfillment was actually just giving little pieces of himself away. Over and over again I watched him sink into a hole he had no clue he was in.

Then one day, it got the best of him.

He missed a mission trip, one that he had been on every year for several years. It hit him so hard that he realized his priorities were all sorts of messed up. What was he chasing? Where is his life going? All these years of chasing fulfillment, just to turn up completely empty. He gave up.

He decided to take his own mission trip, a month later, to clear his head and get away. Little did he know that he wouldn’t come back.

On the trip they went about 6 hours farther south than planned for a special project. It was hard work and there was no communication with anyone back home. He loved it, except for the restless nights thinking about his life. One night he was listening to a podcast from Andy Stanley called, “The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating” and it was as if it was all about him. He broke. He didn’t want to be a part of it anymore, he didn’t want to live that life. So he gave up.

On July 7, 2012, three years ago today, Daniel Carney gave up his own life. The old Daniel died, and a completely new person came back home to Oklahoma.

Three years ago was not the day I was saved. It was the day that I came to fully realize the grace God has given each of us, each and every day of our lives. The amount of mistakes I had made, the things I had said and done, none of that changed the way my God feels about me. I am loved, I am forgiven, and every battle I ever lost on my own was won by Him.

I have not lived a perfect life since that day. I still make mistakes, I still do dumb stuff. But on that day I realized I am not alone. My fight is already won. I am victorious in all things. I have hope, I have a future, I have a plan for bigger and better things. All of this is written and promised to me (and you if you so choose to believe) through the Word of God.

Maybe an unguarded strength is a double weakness. But for me, my weaknesses will now become my testimony. You can’t have a testimony without first having a test; I just had a lot of them I failed. I don’t have to fight on my own anymore.

Some battles last longer than others, but your perception determines your outcome. My victory will come, but through God alone.

So let me ask you this, have you truly lost your life yet?
I recommend it. It brings true freedom.

T•A•T•T•W•O

The Story Behind the Ink…

I have had it heavy on my heart for months now to live every day to it’s fullest. Not just in the sense of all the clichés out there, but honestly taking notice of every day. This goes beyond the essence of Carpe Diem, which is great for pinterest. Let me tell you why I’ve taken notice.

Since I can remember I always dreamed of creating a legacy. I watched shows of history and war, saw legends like Maximus and Achilles, and read of dynasties of old. I wanted that. I wanted to build something that would be known for generations to come. I dreamed of building a mansion with a moat around it, calling it Carney Manor. I wanted a castle. I wanted to make a mark in history, much like most young boys do.

But in the past few years, I’ve begun to realize something; something life changing; something mind altering. I am already a part of a family that has shifted the course of the future and history.

No, I trace my heritage back to Alexander the Great or Michelangelo (which would totally be awesome). I’m talking about my Father. Not Jim Carney either, although he is a World Changer himself. I mean my Father, the Creator of the world. He who wrote time, who is legacy, and who has shaped the lives of a far greater number than I can ever imagine to meet in my lifespan. My lifespan that, in the Psalms, David calls a handbreadth.

Our lives, no matter how long we live, is but a whisper in the ear of eternity. Tweet that.

Anyways, back to the tattoo. I had this heavy on my heart for months. I need to live everyTATTWO day to its fullest, so I can impact as many people as I can. And then one morning I got a call from my best friend’s wife, and we lost a close friend; a brother to us all. It shook everyone that was close to him, which I learned at the funeral was close to 1000 people.

As I sat and listened to the stories of his life, it reminded me much of His life. And I know that no one says anything bad about any one at a funeral, but every story lead to the same focal point. This man lived his life in a way to make every day count. To conquer every day, to be the best at everything he could, and to do it in a way that didn’t destroy other’s along the way. Carpe Diem.

The funeral was a time for mourning, yes. But it also was very humbling, and motivating. It made me realize, NOW is the time.

It reminded me of that movie, In Time, with Justin Timberlake. I think I’ve actually written about this movie before, so obviously it impacted me on a spiritual level. Thanks JT. But in the movie, the people in the lower sectors were so aware of time that they made every second of every day count. They knew that if something wasn’t important, they shouldn’t waste their time there. They made every day count.

Dope movie, deep message.

Now in the Greek there are two words that explain time, Kairos and Khronos. Khronos is our every day time: minutes, seconds, hours, days. In the Greek, it was the personification of time. It is what we live in, every day. Kairos, however, is the “opportune” time. The precise moments, God moments.

I once heard a pastor say that, “When the Holy Spirit lives IN us, we have the ability and the opportunity to bring a Kairos into every Khronos.”
#BOOM

That’s the long story. Short story>> This tattoo is a reminder, it is my eternal clock. Every day, I have 24 hours of Khronos. 24 hours of making every second count. But not only that, every day I have 24 hours (Khronos) to make a Kairos. I want to bring God into every day of my life. That way, the people I encounter every day can meet him too.

And that’s how you build a legacy that can’t crumble. You build it on The Rock.
HIS name is Jesus.
Amen.

Dear Future Me…

Dear Future Me,

I thought it would be a good idea to start writing to you. I always have these thoughts of things I hope you remember: things I want you to do as a father, things I want to see changed in you, thoughts we need to erase from our present.

Everyone always says things like, “I will never let my kid be that way!” or “When I get older I will be better than that.” So I decided, to make this easier on myself, I would write to you and let you know what you should and shouldn’t do. Or at least try to (not) do. So, here’s part one.

Please do your best to not let your son be like the boys we have today. Don’t let him be like you were in high school, and especially not like the boys in high school today.

I have noticed that our culture seems to have less and less of a moral compass. We have lost the sense of decency, respect for one another, and a filter. As I sit and listen to conversations of today in our youth, and even in some adults, I am constantly disgusted with the conversations going on. Especially from boys, I have never heard such vulgar talk.

I once heard Andy Stanley say, “Your present will soon become your past. And later, your past will present itself in your future.” A confusing sentence if you read it incorrectly, but that was his goal. He wanted to make you think. He wanted to sound confusing so you would think it was a deep thought.

Essentially he is saying to be careful what you do, day in and day out. Make each day count. Watch your words, be mindful of your actions, and be respectful with your thoughts. So I wanted to write to you and tell you the aspirations I have for our future son.

Make him a gentlemen. Trust me, they are hard to find. It amazes me the looks I get when I do something nice for someone. Sometimes people don’t care at all. Whether they are not conscious of what’s going on around them, or they just don’t care. But occasionally, just occasionally, you see someone who realizes what you’ve done and is truly grateful.

Teach him how to be respectful in every area. He must learn to respect females, or he will be doomed to the same fate that the average MS and HS boy has. That means it has to start in the mind. Our thoughts are seeds, and every action of our body is the result of those seeds. Teach him to never look lustfully, to never speak with vulgarity, to respect each female as his mother/sister. If not, we know the repercussions of ignorance.

Let him know the mistakes you made, and tell him up front. Don’t wait until he messes up, or be afraid to start the conversation “too soon”. Chances are, the conversations have already started at school. They say, “boys will be boys.” But don’t let him. Boys may be boys, but train your son to be a man from the beginning. You know the scars of childish thinking.

Teach him how to have a relationship and an understanding that Jesus Christ is alive. That HE is with us each and every day. Not as a creepy watchmen, but as a loving Father. Show him in scripture the ways of a mature man. Show him that he is strong, that he is a warrior, that he is a mighty man of God, a man of Valor. But also show him that he has to be strong enough to cry. A tough man takes every pain and acts as if it never happened. But a strong man shows his weaknesses and isn’t afraid to cry.

There is so much more I want to share with you, but I know your attention span and 700 words is pushing it for one sitting. Don’t worry self, there will be more letters. Just remember this:

Above all else, pray that our son does not act like you did. 

And I will pray that from this day forward I will grow, and be strong enough to be the father you need to be. Love you, but not as much as Kanye loves Kanye.

Social Detox

Nomads.

That’s what the majority of us are, inside. 

Studies show that it is actually healthy for us to be home. That even though we love to travel, want to see different places, our bodies love to have a home. Even if your home is nothing extravagant, having a home is healthy. Science has shown that nomads, or people who don’t have a home, can be worn down and their bodies just don’t last as long as someone with a home. So if our bodies need a home, what about our souls?

The majority of people, or probably just Americans, seem to have nomadic souls. We are always going from one thing to the next to try and find rest. Social media is our main travel point, searching to find something in the lives of others that we know or wish we did. We are always searching for something else.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired inside. Sometimes I have no reason to be unhappy, but it just seems like it would take too much effort to be happy. I don’t feel sad, or angry, or depressed, just too tired to be happy. Being happy has become a chore, it costs.

I. Am. Exhausted.

I have had this idea in my heart for a month or two now about “disappearing”. I wanted to drop off the face of the earth for a little while, find somewhere that no one knew me and just rest. But then I heard this message by Judah Smith about our nomadic souls in a series he was doing about the soul. That’s when it hit me.

It’s not my physical body that needs to disappear or get away, it’s my soul that needs to find rest. I need to find rest in the only One who gives it. But it is so hard to do with all the social media out there. This may sound stupid, but I’m sure it hits home with many of you, but I turned my phone off the other day and I could’ve swore there were 4 more hours in the day. I felt so productive.

So I came up with this idea of a “Social Detox” to give myself some rest. I wanted to start it before the holidays, but I also wanted to actually give myself a major break. So I decided I was going to “disappear” for 40 days. Basically, if you’re not family you won’t hear from me until February. For those of you that follow my blog, this won’t be much of a change for you since I hardly ever write.

Social DetoxThis challenge was for me and my heart, but I thought I would share it in case there were others that felt the same way. I found it sad that when I told my youth group about it I felt like they were going to string me up. They were so rude and hateful at the fact I would ask them to take time off of social media on “their Christmas break.”

My bad for thinking you would want to spend the holidays with your family.

Anyway, I really thought this challenge would be beneficial for myself, especially during this time of year. Why not take this season to get away from social media and others to focus on the reason for this season. On that note, I say goodbye for now. I’ll see you in February. Watch me grow. And if this touches you, I challenge you to do it too. What’s forty days compared to a year, or however many years you have left?

It’s time to be a #WorldChanger, a #PlanetShaker.

Today, We Conquer The World.

In a world that seems to be decreasing in morality, I often find myself torn in a dilemma of what I think is right and wrong. It’s so hard to tell the difference sometimes. So many times I want to do the right thing, but is it the right thing? I step out and, when I do, it seems like I get criticized for it. Because of this, I keep falling in the same trap over and over again. Don’t worry, I didn’t read your journal. I’m talking about me.

This is how I learned to crawl out of the trap. How I am continually learning to win the battle.

I have been reading a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey and it seems to cut me deep. One chapter in particular talks about “beginning with the end in mind.” In the book it talks about how we can use our imagination, and in our mind we can develop our future.
The chapter opens up with an exercise: picturing your own eulogy. What would be said about you? What would you want said about you?
Once you get that image deep in your mind, figure out how you are supposed to get there. Then take the steps to do it.

In my story, I have struggled with the same battle my entire life. This battle is one that continually conquers the male race, and occasionally the female. My battle of life: lust. It’s not always to the extreme that others would think. But it has been in times past. And like a well designed roller coaster it twists; it turns; it goes up, and down; and just when I think it is almost over, there is another drop. It’s a ride I wish I never bought the ticket for.

My pastor, Mark Kresge, once said, “Some battles last longer than others.”

Some battles come at us and we conquer them. One swing of the sword and the battle is won. Like the first fight scene in Troy, when Achilles finally shows up. We run into the battle and it’s like the enemy can’t touch us. We juke, we dodge, we leap, and in one smooth stab, down goes Boagrius.

But there are other battles in life that are not so easily won. In my battle of lust, of bad relationships, of giving in to making others happy, I begin to feel like the US military does in Iraq. “Will this ever end?”

I recently got tired of the fight. Instead of giving up, I decided it was time to re-strategize. If I’m not beating the enemy with my current tactics, maybe I should get new ones…

Using what I learned from Dr. Stephen R. Covey, I began to use my imagination.

Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Einstein, known for his knowledge, teaches us that it is all about the imagination. Take a second to think about this next thought: Everything you have ever seen, touched, tasted, smelled, or heard, was first a thought developed in someone else’s mind.

I have always been one that believes in mind over matter, ask anyone that is close to me. I will think myself warm. I will speak myself healthy, I will visualize something and make it happen. I believe in the power of the mind, and I believe in the power of imagination.

So when I read about imagination in this book, I began to see it. I began to picture my battle in a new way. I would imagine myself in moments of extreme pressure. Moments that, in times past, I had failed at overcoming over and over and over again.

But this time, I did something differently. I began to see myself WIN.

I would try and get so deep in my imagination that I would mentally run through all the senses of that moment. What was I doing? Where was I? What could I smell around me? What were the sounds in the moment, in the background? And just at that moment, where my body would usually be taken over by desire, I would see myself breaking the chain. I would envision me not giving in to what always had control over me.

I. Saw. Victory.

And in those moments of visualization and imagination, my life forever changed. I don’t want to live an empty life anymore. I don’t want to run from one person to the next, trying to fill a void that I know only God can fill. I don’t want to listen to what culture tells me is love, what culture tells me can make me happy. I don’t want to listen to culture at all. I want more for myself, and more for others.

I began to apologize to those of the past, and cut off ties that were not healthy. And let me tell you this, it was not pretty. I learned some (terrible) things about myself that I never knew, and I even learned some things about my mom (i.e. Son of a…). Things that weren’t really true, just others reactions to my cutting ties. But I didn’t take them to heart. I have made mistakes, several mistakes. But if I get criticized for taking a step to better myself, then I know I am headed in the right direction.

The enemy doesn’t want us to come out of bondage. The enemy wants to keep us there. Any time you step out of that life and onto a better path you will face opposition. But just close your eyes and see it. See the victory. See where you want to go. See the steps you need to take to get there, and take them. It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it. The last few months have given me more progress than the last 10 years. Honestly.

In the dilemma of right and wrong we must continually seek The Lord through prayer and reading His Word. As I said in the beginning, it is so hard to tell what we should do sometimes. Culture is so good at meshing morality and immorality that it scares me sometimes. It reminds me of a scripture found in Matthew 6:23 that says, “…And if the light you think you have is darkness, how deep that darkness is!” Meaning when the darkness starts to look like light, we are in trouble.

We will still fall. We will still make mistakes. But we begin to stand up and move past it. You can make it through whatever you are going through. And if you aren’t going through something right now, save this page. Bookmark it. At some point you mady need it. An old country preacher once said, “You’re either in a storm, just got out of a storm, or about to hit a storm. But everyone has got a storm.”

Prepare for your storm | Use your imagination | See the victory
Contact me for any questions, prayer requests, or just to chat.
Get in a church, and if you don’t have one come to Current.
Share this, maybe you can help someone else in their storm.