All posts by Mickey Ellison

Mickey Ellison has over 18 years experience in the financial industry and has dealt with debt for over 22. He wants to use this experience to help improve the lives of others. Mickey also has a love for baseball and God. He plans to use what he's learned in baseball, finance, debt and life as a catalyst to helping others.

The World Needs More Jesus? Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Do you know a person that is miserable because they can’t let go of what someone has done to them? Are you that person? Some of you have had things done to you by someone that you love that I can’t even imagine, so I am not going to preach to you about forgiving them, but think of Jesus. One of his closest companions turned on him for money, 30 pieces of silver. He was spat upon. Jesus was whipped with a cord that had sharp instruments on it to remove flesh quickly. Just to make fun of him, the Roman soldiers twisted thorns into the shape of a crown and forced it onto his head. Our Lord was forced to carry the very cross that he would die on. Men drove nails through his hands and feet. And to add insult to his injury, the soldiers gambled to see who would get his clothes after he died and as they were doing this, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Then imagine the father that could forgive the people that did these things to his son. That is a forgiveness that is almost impossible for me to understand. I’ve met people that have told me stories of what others have done to them, and somehow, they have forgiven. There is someone from my past that for years would make me angry when I thought about what they had done to me as a child. But forgiving that person has released me from bitterness and I pray that he has asked God to forgive him.

As much as I may not want to, scripture is clear in Matthew 6:14-15. If I want God to forgive me, I have to forgive others. When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone, after answering Peter’s question, Jesus told a story. The king felt compassion on a man who couldn’t pay him back and the man begged the king to be patient. Feeling compassion for the man, the king forgave him his debt. Later, the forgiven man found another man that owed him money. The other man pleaded with him to have mercy and patience. Unwilling, the forgiven man went to have this guy thrown into prison until he could repay. This is from Matthew 18:23-30. The rest of the story I will quote from scripture, Matthew 18:32-35, “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed to him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

Jesus is crystal clear on forgiveness. If I/you want to be forgiven by God, we have to forgive others, and it doesn’t say unless they did this or that. It simply says we must forgive to be forgiven.

Do you harbor bitterness and anger toward another person in your heart? If so, remember the words of Christ and the mercy God has on all of us.

In God We Trust

in-god-we-trust-money

For the last 17 years I have worked in the financial industry, and I am blessed for having done so, but not how I would have expected. So much attention is paid to having enough money to retire or saving enough to pay for college. Entire television networks are devoted to economics, government tax policies, stocks, bonds, and central banks. Talking heads tell us which stocks are good and which ones are bad. They speak of the economy as if it is some blob without real care for the individuals that make up that blob. Since the financial crisis of 2008, some of the talking heads have spoken about hyperinflation and economic collapse. Advertisers have made millions selling gold, insurance for food, and ammunition to safeguard your family, your property, and your food.

In some countries such as Venezuela, we have seen shortages of food and other supplies that people need for daily life. Television shows have done specials on the hyperinflation of Germany during the Weimar Republic. Pictures of people taking wheel barrels full of money just to buy bread.

germanmarkwheelbarrow

Commercials with scary talk and pictures telling us the dollar is going to be worthless, and we need to buy gold as a “store of value” before the dollar becomes worthless. Gold has always been “real” money. As an aside, if the dollar is going to be worthless, why would the person want to trade their gold for my dollars? Will the dollar become worthless? What if I told you it is? In fact, what if I told you that all money is worthless including gold? Stay with me on this because I can prove it is true, especially if you call yourself a Christian. Even if you are a non-believer, I challenge you to prove me wrong.

On our money in the United States is the motto, “In God We Trust.” Christians and non-Christians fight over whether or not that motto should be on our money. Frankly, I think the motto is appropriate, but probably not for the reason you might think. What god? Allah? Jesus Christ? Buddha? Brahman? In what god do we trust? Who is we?

I am not here to have a theological debate with you. I believe that God created the world, and He sent His Son to die and take the punishment that I deserve for my sins. I believe that Jesus died on a cross, God raised him on the third day, and he is coming again. And, the only way to the Father is through him. If you don’t believe that, I’m not going to argue with you. You cannot prove he does or doesn’t exist, and if you choose to believe that he doesn’t, you are Red 35. Feel free to ask me what that means in the comments section.

One day a thought came to my head. We are told that the Federal Reserve is going to cause hyperinflation, the dollar is going to be worthless, and people will starve. There is truth to those comments. If the dollar becomes worthless, people will starve, but why? That’s stupid, especially for a country that claims to have 200 million Christians.

Last week I asked my 10 year old a few questions. “Jackson, does it take money feed people?” He said, “Yes.” To which I replied, “No it doesn’t. It takes food.” Then I asked him, “Do you need money to clothe people?” Again he said, “Yes.” My reply, “No you don’t!” Does it take money to stay warm in the winter? No, it takes heat. The point being, money is actually worthless. Prove me wrong!

Everything needed for life on this earth was freely given. It was already here. There is only one thing that man has actually created; money. Everything else was already here, and could always do what it does today. Mortal man simply hadn’t figure that out how to use it. Our lives are easier because of the discoveries of men and women, but the actual elements to that make those discoveries work were already here and always have been.

Now to the point. Why do I think the motto, “In God We Trust”, is appropriate? God, the provider of all things has been replaced by another provider of all things; money. Why do I say it’s stupid that people would starve because of hyperinflation or a currency becoming worthless? How in God’s name can we claim that America is a Christian nation when people could starve if a currency became worthless? Did the ability to grow food go away? No! Are we unable to clean water without money? Yes! But we have become dependent on a worthless, man-made god. A god that burns with fire. Money is the ultimate golden calf.

Money has become such a god that we spend almost all of our lives trying to accumulate it. People sitting in cars for hours a day only to spend more hours somewhere else to achieve the American dream while taking some of that money to allow someone else to raise their children. (Guilty as charged) And before you call me a socialist, think again because you are 100% wrong. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 3:10-11, “Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.'” Our government and all governments, our modern-day priests, have made it almost impossible to live without money via their ability to tax.

I don’t know if our currency will collapse any time soon, but the starving people in places around the world that have experienced hyperinflation, are proof that money is god, and they became dependent on that god to provide, and like all false gods, it fails. If a country is truly a Christian country, especially one with 200 million Christians, it should be impossible for them to suffer simply because a piece of paper or digits on a computer became worthless, but they will. Why? Because we have exchanged the One True God, the Great Provider, for a paper calf. (It’s not even golden today)

So yes, “In God We Trust” should be on our money, but would more accurately be, “In god We Trust.”

“Don’t store up treasures on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves cannot break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved by money.” Matthew 6:24

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the minds of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:31-33

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World Needs More Jesus?

The World Needs More Jesus?

In this section of the devotionals, we will focus on Jesus and his words in the book of Matthew. You might ask, why have a question mark at the end of the title of this section? Do you not agree that the world would be a better place if we all followed Jesus’ lead? Absolutely, I agree that the world needs Jesus! The challenge comes when what Jesus taught goes against my/our natural instincts.

Before writing this, I struggled with how to write it. The last thing I want is to sound pious or condescending because I fail every day. Reading the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15-16 gives me hope. “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”

Understand that each and every one of us is going to fail. Jesus is God. He is perfect and we are not. When we fail, God will forgive us.

We will delve into many things that Jesus said and some will challenge you more than others. Some are very hard. For example, Jesus said to love our enemies. When someone hits me, I don’t want to “turn to him the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:39) Heck, I want to hit him back, but I don’t get to pick and choose what words of Jesus I want to follow. If we want the world to have more Jesus, it starts with us!

 

The Greatest Commandment

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:36-37

“You must not have any other god but me.” Exodus 20:3

It’s easy to make fun of people that worship things that we can’t fathom. For heaven’s sake, the Israelites made a golden calf and worshipped it. Rome had a god of the sky, Jupiter. Neptune was Jupiter’s brother and was the god of the seas. Juno was the wife of Jupiter and was the goddess of marriage and women. Mars the god of war. Venus the god of love. Bellona was the goddess of war. I guess Mars needed help. It seems the Romans had a god for almost everything. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_deities)

Today, we Christians can’t imagine how anyone could worship some of the things that they bow down to, but are we really any different? Are there things that I have put before God? You? If I’m honest, the answer is yes because my actions prove stronger than my words.

One of my gods was baseball. Is there anything inherently wrong with baseball? Of course not, but it would be a lie if I said I didn’t place it before God. For others it’s fame, a career, possessions, and maybe even other people. Where are my thoughts? What do my actions prove? What do I worry about?

Taking an honest look at your own life may reveal who or what you really worship. If there is anything that you are unwilling to give up to follow God, that is your god. That is my god. Ask yourself this one question. If I were to stand before God today, would He find something that I placed above Him and am I doing that now? God is a god of love, but He is also just, and the answer to that question has eternal consequences.

Why I’m Writing

Why write this book? That is a question that my friend and co-author David Hill asked me as we were thinking of writing a book together. Both David and I have our own personal reasons for writing, but one thing we do share is a love for God, people, and a love for the truth. For me personally, I have several reasons that I felt this book needs to be written and I will share those with you but first let me give you some background of the journey that has led me to where I am today.

There has never been a point in my life where I didn’t believe in God. Growing up in a small town in the south, the Bible-Belt, church was just a part of life. As a child I never even questioned the existence of God. My grandparents were Christians, my parents were Christians, so that meant my brother and I were Christians also.

As of this writing I am 45, and frankly for most of my adult life, I never doubted that there was a god. My family went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and occasionally on Wednesday nights. As I grew older and moved on to college, I still believed in God, but I didn’t attend church as much. Partially because I was playing baseball in college and we had games every Sunday in the spring. I don’t know what my excuse was during the rest of the year. Lazy?

In 1995 I married my wife, Nicki. For the first 4 years of our marriage we lived in South Carolina, and we attended church almost every Sunday morning. Very seldom did we attend on Sunday nights and never on Wednesday. We believed in God, and we were doing our duty to Him by going to church once a week.

Then in 1999, we moved to Kansas where I started a new career. In Kansas we went to church occasionally in the beginning and eventually settled on the church that we are members of now. We were the typical American church going family. In 2001 our first child was born and in 2006 our second child was born.

Most of what I knew about God was what I was taught by preachers, family, Sunday school teachers, and some other people. I had read many parts of the Bible. The stories about David and Goliath, Abraham, and other figures that are in the Bible I knew. Jesus dying on a cross, rising on the third day, and that he is coming back was something that I believed, and still do, but I didn’t know why. Preachers and teachers told us as kids to read the Bible, and I did read some out of guilt for not.

My faith had never been really tested until around 2008-09. These events are all documented in my first book, The Road to Complete Fitness, plus what led to the existence of Complete Fitness. For the first time in my life, I began to question what I believed. With the guidance of my pastor and friend, David Welsh, I started reading the Bible in earnest.

There are many details that I am leaving out of this for brevity so I can get to the points of why I wrote my part of this book. In 2014, along with two friends, I introduced the concept of Complete Fitness. Frankly it was just a name, but it became more to me than just a name, and now it is a mission.

For over a year and a half, I simply moved forward with Complete Fitness without knowing what I was really doing, yet I felt compelled to continue. Frustration set in because I wasn’t seeing any real progress although, we were able to help some people along the way. Sometime in 2016, when I was probably the most frustrated because I saw things that just didn’t make sense, and that’s when I met David Hill through a mutual friend.

My prayer dating all the way back to 2008-09 timeframe was to know Truth, and today I still pray for that. What I saw was solutions to many of the issues that we face in society today, yet they weren’t being done, especially by the church. Little did I know there was this guy that lived in the same town as I live that was doing something, and somehow I had never heard of it. His foundation was feeding thousands of people, helping sick children, fighting against the sex trade, and numerous things that you can look up at www.1spark.net. He, David, gave me hope and since has become a good friend and a partner in this mission.

Someone once told me when a verse of scripture is quoted. Then go back and see ifthe person that quoted the verse is using that verse in the proper context. His advice was to go one verse before and one verse after the quoted verse. If you still do not have the proper context, continue doing that until you do. What I learned was many verses or scripture, when taken out of context, can be used to manipulate. One of the reasons that I am writing this book is to take some of those commonly misused verses put them back into the context in which they were written. In doing this, I hope to expose those that are purposely manipulating others for personal gain. At this point, I do not plan on naming names because I want you to learn the truth, remove emotion, and let God lead you to the truth.

David nor I are perfect, so we ask first that you understand that. And, second that you test our words against scripture. Not because we are trying to pull a fast one, rather because we are only interested in the Truth. Even the Bereans in scripture tested everything that Paul taught them, and we do not claim to be Paul.

Another reason I’m writing what I write is to not only challenge you, but to challenge me. Jesus and the apostles that wrote the books in Scripture are pretty clear on how we are supposed to live. Things that are very hard and go against our human nature, yet Jesus perfected them all. He is our standard, and Jesus was and is perfect. I can never be perfect, but I’m given hope because the people written about in Scripture were not perfect either. Some were adulterers. Others were murderers, yet God used them in mighty ways, and He provided the perfect sacrifice for your sins and my sins.

Some will reject us, and I’m very aware of that, but some of you are thirsting for the truth. We hope to bless you through this writing, but more importantly we hope this is just the beginning of changing lives and creating a community that looks like and chooses to live as God meant for us to live. A life of Freedom!

The foundation of all that we write comes from the words of Jesus himself when he was asked by the religious leaders of his day, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

May God bless you and lead you to the Truth, and the “Truth shall set you free.” John 8:32

Mickey Ellison

Why We Play the Game?

Wiffle ball

Remember being a kid in elementary school on Career Day? Kids would dress up as firemen, policemen, astronauts, and doctors. Career Day for me meant I could wear my baseball uniform to school.

Baseball was a part of my family. My grandfather played in the old textile leagues in the south, my dad played, my older brother’s games, and of course the Cheddar Youth Center.Cheddar Youth Center

It did not matter where we were, somehow we would find a way to play baseball. We were obsessed? No, we were kids!

We simply wanted to play. Give us a cup, and before long it was wadded up in the shape of a ball, and a cup ball game was about to break out. Tin foil works well too, but hurts more than a paper cup. Behind the concession stand at the American Legion field or anywhere else where we could make a “field”. At home, with a Wiffleball and plastic bat, the door to the crawl-space was turned into a strike-zone and a ball hit past the clothes line in the air was a homerun. If it was dark the flood light came on for night games and thousands of games took place. No grass could grow on the pitchers mound or the batters box. Not because it wouldn’t grow, but because we played. Wicked curveballs, screwballs, dropballs, and risers were thrown. If you could hit these pitches, you could hit any pitches.

When no one was available to play with you, the game still had to be played. The door to the crawl-space and a tennis ball would work. Nine innings and the same crawl-space door was pounded by thousands of pitches. All nine innings and I never lost!

No one to hit the ball to you? No problem! All that was needed was an outside wall and a tennis ball. Diving catches to save the game in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run on third. Again, I never lost.

No one available to pitch? So! A cutoff broomstick, Pa Haynie’s gravel and a fence across the street is all that was necessary. (Making sure no cars are coming when you hit the rock is a good idea. Not that we ever hit a car.)

Baseball could be played almost anywhere!

That was thirty years ago. Fast forward to today. What happened?

Drive by your local ballparks. Most of the fields are empty unless there is an organized practice going on. Nine year old baseball teams are having tryouts, and 10 year old year olds are playing 80 games. I know a few coaches that have cut 8 year olds. Parents are shelling out thousands of dollars so their son can play at the “elite” academy, and fifteen year olds are traveling all over the country to play in “showcase” tournaments because college coaches can see them play. Really?

Kids play baseball because someone introduced it to them and they continue to play because it is fun. When baseball is fun, they grow to love the game. That’s why we played cup ball. That’s why we played Wiffleball! We didn’t need adults to organize our teams. There was no adult to yell at us because we missed a groundball or struck out. Dad wasn’t sitting behind home plate telling us what to do on every pitch. We just played! Why?

We LOVE the game!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tears

Yesterday, June 27, 2016, I went to lunch after having a conversation with a frustrating conversation with a client. I pulled through the drive-thru at Subway with the intension of grabbing a sandwich, and parking in the shade of the parking lot at Target that sits just east of the Subway. A little time alone, a sandwich, and music from the band Building 429 when I noticed someone holding a sign and asking for help at the other end of the parking lot. From a distance I could tell she was a young lady, and I watched people drive by as if she wasn’t there while I ate my sandwich. After about 15 minutes, I drove over to her and noticed that she had a 5 gallon gas can and written on the sign was family with 2 children needing money for gas. I rolled down my window and asked for the gas can, and she simply handed it to me, said thank you and God bless. From there, I drove to Quik Trip filled the tank and grabbed a bottle of water for her since it was well over 90 degrees. When I returned, she wasn’t standing at the corner of the parking lot, rather she was sitting under a tree. I pulled into a parking spot next to the tree because I wanted to know a little more of her story. She told me that the police had made her stop asking for help or risk being arrested. Turns out she and her family were simply trying to get home. She and her husband have a 2 year old and another daughter that is 7. As I was leaving I handed what cash I had in my wallet, this young mom says thank you and God bless and made a reference to Christ. As I was pulling away, I took one more look to see her wiping a tears from her eyes.

Contrast that scene with the conversation that I had with my client just minutes before seeing her in the parking lot at Target. This man has over 1.3 million dollars available to him and is worried about being able to make it through retirement. Need I say more? No, I will let scripture say the rest.

The Parable of the Rich Fool, Matthew 12:13-21

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Faith and Deeds, James 2:14-17

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

 

Lesson from Pa Haynie

Pa Haynie

James 4:15

 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

My grandfather, better known to us as Pa Haynie, was one my heroes! He, along with my dad, taught me to love the game of baseball. To this day when I’m calling pitches, I can hear him say, “Mick, the best pitch in baseball is a high and tight fastball.” That being said, Pa Haynie, was also one the most Godly men that I have ever known. There was so much wisdom in his words and actions.

One saying that he used often was, “Lord willing.” As a kid, when I would leave him to go home I would say something like this, “By Pa, see you tomorrow”, and his response was always “Lord willing.” Those words seem so simple, and I never put much thought into them until now at age 44 and they are powerful!

I’m going to share with you some sayings that sound good, but they are missing something.

This one is attributed to Oprah Winfrey, “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” 

Here is another one, not sure who it’s from, “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”

Mark Victor Hansen, “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.”

Norman Vincent Peale, “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”

Lyndon Johnson, “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

This list could go on and on, but I will stop with one last quote from Napolean Hill, “You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”

These are nice sounding quotes, and there is some truth to them, but why are they wrong? First none of them start with “Lord Willing”.  The beginning of this writing starts with James 4:15, but let’s add context to it:

James 4:13-17

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Is this saying that we should not plan or have goals? Absolutely not! Ultimately, we have no control of many things that may happen to us, so to say we are 100% in control of our own destiny is not only a lie, it is dangerous! Where is my faith? In me? or in God? In everything we do and plan to do, we should always preface it with “Lord Willing.” If you want to lose weight, “Lord willing, I will lose 80 pounds in the next year.” If I want to be somewhere financially start it with “Lord Willing” I will accomplish whatever that goal is. Things could happen such as a car accident, the stock market crashes, my business fails and leaves me with $200k in debt, or I’m stricken with cancer. If your faith is in you, then what?

In one day Job lost his family. He lost his wealth, and a few days later he lost his health! His friends had all kinds of advice for him, yet they were all wrong. Never once did Job curse God. He knew God was in control of ALL things, and Job was powerless to do anything about it. Job was tested beyond anything most of us can imagine, and in the end God restored him because of his faithfulness. Job 1, Job 42

Paul said in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We like to quote that verse when we are trying to accomplish a goal. What isn’t often quoted are the verses that come before where he said he had learned “the secret to being content”. Whether he was in need or in plenty, well fed or hungry, Paul knew that he could endure and be content because his faith was not in his situation, his stuff, or anything worldly. His faith was in Christ! Philippians 4:10-13

Have big goals! Have great plans! But always start with “Lord Willing” because the creator of everything may have different plans for you and me, and placing our faith in HIM will allow us to say, I’ve learned the secret to being content, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

Tomorrow, I leave for Powdersville, SC to share a concept that can change the lives of millions, and Lord Willing it will!

League 42

Changing the world is a big task. Finding millions of people to give $1 a day is a challenge, but imagine the good that we can do with millions of people that are debt free. One organization that I love is found here in Wichita, KS called League 42. The league has brought baseball back to the inner-city of Wichita and given kids the opportunity to play baseball that otherwise could not afford to.  Visit League 42’s website for more information and how you can help. http://www.league42.org/

League 42

My Story

To my wife Nicki, you are my rock, my best friend. Words can never express my love for you.

 

To Jordan and Jackson, you are my motivation and why I’m choosing this road. Your dad loves you with all of his heart.

 

To Mom and Dad, thank you!

 

 

 

I am a very blessed man, and my prayer is that you will be blessed by this story. What people see isn’t always what’s true. Many people appear to be successful and have it all, yet they are dying inside. Society says that we must portray a certain image, and unfortunately most of us try to portray whatever that image is “supposed” to be. You’ve heard the sayings over and over again: “Perception is Reality”, “Fake it until you make it”. Things of this nature have been pounded into our heads for so long that we don’t even question whether they are true or not. For those that choose to listen, I’m here to tell you they are lies. To those that choose not to listen, I pray that you figure it out before you wake up one day and you don’t even know who you are.

 

That was me, but by the grace of God I have found truth. We are told that if we have a certain education, get a certain job, buy a house in the “right” neighborhood, and drive the right car to be happy. I bought that! In 1993 I graduated with that education from a prestigious university, Vanderbilt University. Prior to going to Vandy, I specifically remember an English teacher, who will remain nameless, telling me how great my life would be because of this opportunity.   A few years later, I got even more education, I became a Certified Financial Planner because I was told that having initials, CFP®, after my name would show people how competent I was. At this point I had everything that so many had told me would make me happy. My income was great, I lived in a nice house, my cars were nice, I have a wife and two kids, I had a membership at the country club, and I had even lost weight. Everything sounds perfect and it looked perfect, except I was dying inside. The sad part is I didn’t even know it at the time. Very little about me was real, but it did match up with societal expectations. Despite all of the perception, the reality was that I was scared, I was in debt up to my eyeballs, but yet I had to maintain this perception in order to be “successful”.

 

In the summer of 2009, this all came to a head. The financial crisis of 2008 brought me to my knees. People were depending on me, and the perception was that they could, the reality was I had no control of what had happened but because of that perception people were scared of losing “everything”, and they were looking to me for guidance. The reality was I had no idea what to tell them yet I couldn’t tell them that. Had I ever lied to them? No! Did they have an unrealistic sense of security? Yes!

 

Katy Ursta, One Fit Fighter, puts it best, “turn your mess into your message.” In 2009, everything changed. Was it instantly? No! In fact that year was one of the toughest years of my entire life. While I was going through it, I had no idea that one day I would look back at that time and see it as a blessing. Frankly, it was hell, and the only person that really knew the hell that I was going through inside was Pastor David Welsh, whom I will be eternally grateful. Many a night I sat alone in my driveway, holding a baseball bat, praying and yelling at God, making excuses, and feeling sorry for myself until one day, and I don’t remember why, I finally looked at myself in the mirror, and realized where the blame belonged. Me! So, here is the story.

 

On June 11, 1992 I met the love of my life and to this day I’m married to best friend and despite my many faults, she has chosen to love me anyway. What began as innocent flirting at a club, The Home, in Hays, KS would change my life forever. We met the summer before my senior year at Vanderbilt. Just a summer fling. I was going back to Vanderbilt to finish out my senior year of baseball and graduate, then move on with my life. I graduated in May of 2003, and in September of that same year, Nicki moved to SC. Some summer fling, right? I forgot to mention that she agreed to marry me in November of 2002. She gave up everything for me and moved to a foreign place without knowing anyone outside of meeting some of my family.

 

After graduating, I did what every good college graduate was supposed to do. I found a job! I was making a little money, bought a car. No, I borrowed money so I could drive my dream car, a Toyota 4-Runner. After about a year at the job, I knew what I was doing was not for me. And, like many after graduating from college, I began to gain weight. One fateful night while visiting Nicki’s family in Kansas over Christmas 1994, I was introduced to “The Opportunity of a Lifetime”, and everything was about to change.

 

Nicki and I were to be married on June 10, 1995, and because that opportunity was so “great”, I thought it was a perfect idea to quit my job in May and go full force into this opportunity. We needed an office to share this opportunity with others and we needed product to sell. Of course we had no money for either, so we followed the “great” advice of those who had gone before us, “use other people’s money”. In other words borrow money. We enlisted the help of my parents who were willing to let us borrow money against their paid for house, and we looked to our good friends at Mastercard and Visa to for the rest. For the next year we “faked it until we made it”. There was one problem, we were good at faking it, but we never made it. Over the next year, we only made a profit one month, but looking back that one month could only have been HIS doing. We were well over $100k in debt, and the rent for the office was coming due. That rent was $2200 a month, supposedly share by others in the office, except I was the only one on the lease, and the rest weren’t paying. Heck, they couldn’t pay either, but man they were good at faking it in hopes of making it. Nicki and I had about $250 in our checking account and were out of borrowed funds. That’s the month we made a profit. We paid the rent, and we were fortunate enough to find someone else that was willing to take the lease off of our hands.

 

When it was all said and done, we were $100k+ in debt, no jobs, and my parent’s house was the collateral on a large portion of that debt. Needless to say, I became a little depressed. There would be days when I could barely make myself get out of bed because I knew if I did, there was that perception thing again. I began to gain even more weight, and somehow, the grace of God, we never once missed a payment on the debt. Unfortunately, Nicki was carrying the load financially.

 

After a short stint of living in Wichita, KS in 1996, we moved back to SC. Nicki was able to get rehired at Carolina First and I found a job loading food machines for Cromer Food Services in Anderson, SC. The job was miserable, but between the two of us, we could at least pay the minimum payments on the debt, but because we could only pay the minimums, our debt load continued to grow. And, again I was still believing perception is reality, so no one except my parents knew what we were dealing with.

 

Then in June of 1997, we finally got a break when Gates/Arrow Distributing hired me for a sales position. Our income began to go up a little. A friend of my dad’s let us rent his pool house for only $200 a month. The debt wasn’t declining but for the first time, it wasn’t growing. Sadly, we hid the fact that we were living in a shack from everyone at Gates/Arrow except for my good friend Will Tripp. I love that dude! Perception versus reality right! Gates/Arrow will always have a special place in my heart because we could at least breathe.

 

After working at Gates for about a year and a half, a new opportunity emerged. While visiting Wichita again over Christmas of 1998, that opportunity was presented. My wife’s step-father wanted to expand his financial planning firm and he needed someone to take care of his clients if something ever happened to him. At the time, we were still $100k in debt, and looking back I now realize God has a sense of humor too. I’m about to accept a job where I tell others what to do with money. Today, I just believe it was a part of His plan all along, and we will get to that later.

 

In August of 1999, Nicki and I made the move to Wichita, KS and by October I was licensed to sell investment products. The cycle of “faking it until you make it” was about to start all over again. My timing was also “great” for getting into financial planning as well. After an 18 year run where the stock market had pretty much done nothing but go up, a bubble was about to burst, the tech bubble. From 2000-02 people investing in 401(k)s and IRAs and anything else to do with stocks would be pummeled. Fortunately for me, I had just gotten started and had very few clients. As an aside, my weight continued to grow through 2001. That was also the year Jordan was born.

 

The year of 2003 was when I really began to see an increase in income. I was getting really good at pretending I was successful. We bought a house, no, we borrowed money to get a house in 2000, then upgraded in 2004, and now our debt load was at $200k. Never fear though because from 2003-2008 my income would increase dramatically. With the increase in success, there also the ability to really “fake it until I made it”. We appeared to be extremely successful. Despite the great increase in income, our debt load continued to grow. Some at the advice of people who have really bought into perception. They were successful, so I listened. We had the perception of being extremely successful. In 2006, Jackson was born, and I had initials that I could put on my business card, CFP®.

 

I had told myself the lie for so long about perception verses reality, I began to believe my perception was my reality. Don’t get me wrong, there were times in my heart, I knew the truth, but it was too much fun to let that stop me.

 

Here we were, making a good living, had two wonderful boys, made the top producers list multiple times, had gone to Mexico, and Puerto Rico. According to society, we had it all or at least the appearance of having it all.   I had even lost most of the weight that you saw earlier.

 

Then came 2008. I can remember the fall of 2008 clearly. If you turned on your television or radio you saw or heard President Bush, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, big bank guys, and news pundits telling us how our financial system just might collapse. The stock markets were going wild, and people in general were scared to death. By the time we had gotten to March of 2009 almost no one was left untouched. People who were about to retire had seen their retirement accounts cut in half in less than a year. My clients were no different, and they were looking to me for answers. I tried to console them, but there was nothing that I could do about it, and that’s when I found myself sitting in my driveway, with a baseball bat, praying and screaming at God. My world had suddenly been turned upside down. But, I began to pray for truth and I wanted to know what God wanted with me.

 

At this same time my hips were starting to break down. I had lost the weight, known high of 260 pounds, but I began to fear that at some point I would no longer be able to do what had allowed me to lose weight. Through running, I was able to get my weight down to about 185, give or take a few pounds, and I was able to maintain it. But what if I couldn’t run? Will I be fat again? So I ran anyway, but the pain kept getting worse. So in desperation, I gave into an infomercial and bought P90X.

 

For brevity’s sake, let’s fast-forward to 2014. Over those years, 2009-14 many changes have taken place. Drastic changes have been made to my business because of hours of research and the blessing of my friend Lloyd Hermes. Was 2008 a curse? No, it was a blessing. For more details on that, feel free to ask.

 

I believe once we wake up to trust God, we can see His hand was working despite our inability to know it while in the middle of the chaos. Things that prepare us for a greater plan when we seek it. One such thing was for 10 years my father-in-law and I hosted a radio show in Wichita. The show was recorded, not live. Several years after stopping that show, I wind up on a local political show with Joseph Ashby, host of the Joseph Ashby Show on 1480 KQAM in Wichita and on a sports show with my good friend Chris Allison on 1410 KGSO. Chris has moved on to Charlotte, NC where he is now a host on ESPN Radio. These shows were live.

 

In February of 2014, The Mickey Ellison Show was born on Voice America Variety. Again, I never sought to have a radio show, but I agreed to do it because it sounded like fun. Problem was I had no idea what I wanted to talk about until my brother Todd posted and article written by John O’Sullivan from Changing the Game Project. A few weeks later John came on the show. The direction had changed and I didn’t even recognize it until I saw a picture of my friend Michael Gowan on Facebook. Because of reconnecting with Michael and later Tiffany Sweeley, guests on the show, The Mickey Ellison Show now had a mission, but there had to be more. Why had God brought these two people back into my life at this point? I hadn’t talked to Tiffany in over 20 years nor Michael in at least 15.

 

The show has allowed me to meet people like Katy and Mike Ursta, Deidra Penrose, Kaileigh Hennessy, John O’Sullivan, Bruce Brown, Rob Miller, and even Tommy John. Yes, that Tommy John. As exciting as that has been, Michael, Tiffany, and I have continued to seek His Will in bringing us back together at this time.

 

By the way, Michael has been a blessing in the fitness area for me too. My fears of gaining the weight back are gone because of P90X, Insanity, T25, PiYO, Shakeology, and Michael! Today at 43, I’m in better shape than when I played baseball in college.

 

So why do I tell you all of this? Because as Katy Ursta said, “turn your mess into your message”, and she has done that by calling cancer a blessing.

 

My being overweight, was that a curse? No it was a blessing. If I can do it, so can you!

 

Drowning in debt, was that a curse? No it was a blessing. Do we still have some? Yes, but it’s disappearing.

 

Failing at a business a curse? No, it was a blessing.

 

Depressed, blessing or curse? Blessing

 

Financial Crisis of 2008, blessing or curse? Blessing

 

Hips hurting = Blessing

 

All of these failures while going through them felt like curses, but today I count them as blessings. Having gone through these, I can now help others, and we; Michael Gowan, Tiffany Sweeley, and I together want you to join us on this journey called Complete Fitness. Finance, Fitness, and Faith! Two are important but temporary and one is permanent!

 

We all have a story to tell, and the story is continually be written. What is your story going to be? You and you alone have the power to make that choice. Will you choose to wallow in self-pity or will you choose to be Completely Fit?

 

 

 

Mickey Ellison

FUN is NOT a 4-letter Word! by John O’Sullivan

When I was a kid, my parents taught me to avoid those bad four letter words we all have heard. You know the ones I mean, the ones that you would first hear in school and then think it was OK to use them at home, until you saw that look on dad’s face! My siblings and I learned pretty quickly that some four letter words were bad, and to be avoided at all times. In youth sports these days, there is a new four letter word in the mind’s of some competitive sports folks. It is F-U-N. The mere thought that sports can be competitive AND fun makes some people shudder, but it should not. One of our readers recently shared a story with me about attending a 10 year old AYSO youth soccer game in New York City. After watching the players struggle for a while, he asked a parent of one of the participants “how often do you practice?” The response: “We don’t practice. Here we don’t play for competition; we just want the kids to have fun.” I find this very sad. Not the fun part, because of course we want our kids to have fun. What is sad is the idea that competition, learning and fun cannot coexist. Somehow the negative aspects of hyper-competitive sports – the over the top parents and coaches, excessive costs and commitments, and the often stressful environment – have created a counter culture in sports that has gone so far in the opposite direction that it is not serving the kids either. This is the trophies for everyone crowd, the people who give everyone awards for simply showing up and doing the bare minimum, or do not think kids should keep score (even though they do, but then forget about it as soon as they find out what the post game snack is). Grrr. As our reader asked me when sharing this story: “Why do we think that it has to be one or the other? Why do we only associate excellence or competence with the negative aspects of competition? How do we communicate to parents who correctly identify the negative aspects of early competitive play: yelling coaches and parents, short term goals over long-term development, anxiety and pressure of tournaments, etc, that an environment that does not promote competence ultimately undermines the joy of learning and playing well?” In other words, why is “fun” a four letter word in competitive sports? Why is the concept of competition an anathema in recreational sports. Can’t competitive sports also be fun, and recreational sports provide a great learning environment? The answer is a resounding yes. Unfortunately, this answer is in direct contradiction to what some people might call “conventional youth sports wisdom.”  Such conventional wisdom states that a “competitive” youth sports experience is supposed to happen at the expense of an “enjoyable” one. The problem is that such wisdom, especially when combined with the push to specialize early, the emphasis on winning over development, the mythology surrounding 10,000 Hours of deliberate practice, and the unrealistic pursuit of scholarships, is very hard to combat. It has become the status quo, not to be argued nor questioned, regardless of any science showing otherwise. To illustrate how difficult it is to combat conventional wisdom thinking, may I present the case of RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation for a sprain or muscle strain. Most people have heard this acronym. Everyone has been told RICE is the way to deal with sprains and strains since we were kids; its easy to remember, and easy to do on your own and at home. Yet there is increasing evidence that it is completely wrong, and that it actually inhibits healing. (CLICK HERE FOR A LINK TO THIS EVIDENCE)   Even Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who coined the term RICE in 1978, has recently come out against it, and said he may have been wrong. New studies show that while ice helps with pain control, it prevents inflammation, and thus delays healing. Yet look up nearly any major sporting website, Wikipedia, you name it, and there it is, RICE as the recommended remedy for sprains and strains. It is hard to change conventional wisdom! We face the same problem trying to convince parents and coaches that competition, learning and enjoyment actually belong together! As I have written before, top sports scientists tell us that children need three things to become high-performers: autonomy, intrinsic motivation and enjoyment. The enjoyment part is so often lost in the shuffle of private coaching, year round commitments, and early specialization. Yet enjoyment is absolutely crucial. In fact, I would go so far as to say that unless your child’s desire to play and enjoyment of play matches the effort needed to succeed, he or she will never make the commitment necessary to get to the next level. The problem is that we now equate enjoyment with not trying our best, and this is wrong. Athletes who are enjoying themselves naturally try harder. Elite athletes love to play. This enjoyment and passion did not start when they went to college or the pros; it has been there since day one.  As Lionel Messi states in this video, “I didn’t compare myself to anyone. I just enjoyed playing.” The problem is conventional wisdom tells us that having fun in training will not develop competence. Yet science tells us that when children have fun doing something, they will do it longer. They will do it more often, outside of practice as well as during practice. By default, they will develop more competence and confidence! strategy The best coaches know this. Unfortunately, many of them feel pressured to make the “best” use of valuable ice time or field rental time. They say “sorry, no scrimmages, no friendly games, we need more drills and repetitive exercises to get ready for our next competition” This makes the parents happy. This makes coaches the center of attention of training. Yet it does not fully serve the needs of the most important participants, the kids! You see, game like conditions recreated in training are actually far better in preparing players for actual games, as are small sided games and scrimmages. They replicate the situations, decisions, patterns and speed of actual matches, which rarely happens in unopposed, repetitive drilling activities. Sure, a kid can pass to this line and run to that one, but can he play the right pass to the right side of his teammate at the right speed to tell his teammates where to turn, where the pressure is, and where the next pass should go? Can he do that with pressure coming from behind him, from in front, against multiple defenders? Can he show up in the right space at the right time, or just run to a cone because that is what his coach taught him to do? Only the game teaches the subtleties of the actual game. We have far too many training environments that are too coach centric. Convention wisdom tells parents to look for these environments, with the domineering coach, constantly shouting instructions and solving problems, laying out dozens of cones, and clearly in charge. These coaches make all the decisions, and tell players where to go, when to go, and why to go. The game no longer belongs to kids. Kids do not get to make game like decisions in practice, and play fearful of making mistakes and incurring the coach’s wrath. Then game time comes along, and we wonder why the kids cannot figure it out for themselves! Couple this with the pressure to get a result, or advance in a tournament, and pretty soon kids are not improving during competition, they are getting worse, They are getting scared. And they are no longer enjoying themselves. Learning can definitely happen without fun. Enjoyment can definitely take place in the absence of learning. And competition can both promote or stifle both enjoyment and education. To truly take an athlete’s game to the next level, though, you need the coexistence of learning, enjoyment and competition, not an absence of them. First and foremost you need fun, to keep the athlete motivated and coming back. You need learning – the development of competence – to promote improvement, confidence, and control of the experience. And you need competition to test these skills from time to time in an environment that makes mistakes likely, and thus promotes the opportunity to learn. FUN is NOT a 4-Letter word. It can and should become the foundation of every athletic experience for kids. And when combined with learning and the right type of competitive environment, you have the ideal place to develop athletes who perform up to their potential. Pass this along and help us change the conventional wisdom. Leave your thoughts and comments below so we can figure out together how we can accomplish this. Lets put the “PLAY” back in playing youth sports!