But do it without expectations or agendas
May 13, 2012 ~ Related Quotes
On the 11th of this month I happily participated in the 50th reunion of our high school graduation class of 1963. Out of 67 graduates we ended up with about half the class attending. Without knowing or previously considering I was startled that eleven had passed away. Makes you realize how fragile life actually is. Those present were a lively and entertaining group.
For 48 years I have had no particular interest in contacting my fellow classmates. For me my high school days were times of mediocrity. I was, as Shelia so graciously chose to characterize me, not shy but reserved. Plus my spurt of growth did not come until into my senior year. High school is typically a time that as bodies are maturing it seems the ones with early physical maturity excelled and were usually the most popular..
For these past years I have felt no need for connection as most everyone had gone their own separate ways. Yet exchanging stories brought back the memories and the adventures of youngsters growing up in the small town of Seymour, Texas during the fifties and early sixty's. It was more a care free time with a much slower pace than found today. Adventure was around every corner as we choose to create our own out of our imaginations.
Except for a couple of classmates, Margie for one, time has taken its toil on our physical bodies. Margie was and still is the poster person for always having a smile on your face. For fifty years she still has retained that beautiful smile that seemed never to leave her face. I now advocate if you want to combat aging keep a smile on your face and laughter at the ready. Ask Margie it works. But as aging bodies regenerate slower, minds did seem sharper, filled with knowledge and a lot of living.
I think with returning home, even though it had been fifty years, there is some expectation that you will find friends somewhat the same as you last left them. That was soon extinquished as we walked into a room of strange faces where most had to be identified through their name tag.
With an expectation, I made a faux paw, seeing Linda for the first time, I blurted out a question "Linda didn't you have black hair?." I just had my memory of her as a very pretty girl with dark hair. I admit I was secretly attracted to her back in high school. She responded as a lot of women can say "my hair has seen many colors". It was a lovely light brown but I had my expectations and let my disappointment blurt out.
Logically we realize we are not the same people as we were in our youth. (Thank goodness for me.) The reunion was a good time as I got to hear from some about their past 50 years of experiences and descriptions of the paths that took classmates in 67 different directions.
Some had accumulated wealth, some prestige, some had families large and small, children and relationships, some had developed great skills and talents, some were veterans, some gained knowledge and further educations, many had gained influence in many different worlds. It was a room warm with memories and laughter from people that just happened years ago to have been born in the same school year. Wow, it seems like it could have been only yesterday.
It was good to celebrate that each life has been successful by the standards that each chose for themselves. We can never measure others by our own standards of success for it is different for every individual. That is what we were, the 1963 graduating class of Seymour, Texas, all individuals gathered together fifty years later. It was a room full of confident individuals successful in each's own right.
I was also glad of the opportunity to tell some of my classmates of the positive influences that they, without being aware, had years ago impressed upon me. Two especially stand out for me. Mike for challenging me to meet confrontation head on. Joe Clay as a model for being strong enough to stand up for personal values even if that meant being in the minority. Many I could say I still appreciate for their kindness and friendship.
You know ... high school was not so mediocre after all!
August 19, 2012 ~ Related Quotes
Rabbi Jeremy Storch this past Shabbat centered his message on Excellence in Ministry. That especially resonated with me as I realized that "excellence" for me is a lifestyle and should be for everyone.
Acquiring excellence means perfecting your techniques through preparation and practice. One of my most productive self revelations came one evening, a couple of years ago, while teaching an intermediate class in argentine tango. My revelation was that every goal involves a setup or getting oneself into position to exhibit your skill. What is seen is the balleo, what is not seen is the step up to the balleo. This has made me a better instructor as I now look more at the incorrect technique leading up to, rather than what is wrong at the step.
With everything in our lives it is the same, there is always a setup.
In trumpet playing it is getting your embrasure ready to play the next note. In martial arts it is getting your feet and body in position for the next execution. In sports it is getting your feet and body into position to make the play. In business it is having everything and everybody ready and in position to execute. Acquiring excellence for any skill, is to learn the technique first and then perfect through repetitive practice.
Becoming skillful in any endeavor is learning to focus on the steps leading up to your goal. Whether in athletics, business, hobbies, relationships, being successful at anything involves a setup. A technique of getting oneself into position to succeed.
Excellence is a journey that never ends. In desiring excellence, do not focus so intensely at the end, rather put value to the means. If we try to skip over this process we almost never perfect our goal.
Desire for instant success and gratification has weakened our society, as it is an impractical illusion. Our country is in decline as we have lost the patience for the process. Growing is a never ending education for discovering and learning the technique to get to the goal.
WARNING: Beware of desiring perfection. Perfection is an unworthy goal. It is unattainable and an illusion and only offers frustration. Perfection compares oneself to others.
INSTEAD: Make excellence your goal. Excellence compares yourself to yourself. It is never completed but is a process. It is knowing that you are better today than you were yesterday and with diligence you will be better tomorrow than you are today.
“Very few have excellence thrust upon them...They achieve it. They do not achieve it unwittingly by ‘doing what comes naturally’ and they don’t stumble into it in the course of amusing themselves. All excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose.” ~ author John Gardner
March 25, 2012 ~ Related Quotes
Recently I made an entry on Restoration Song’s Commentary and a post to Facebook that surprised me that it struck a chord with such a large number of people.
“Don’t trivialize someone’s lost love by telling them to just get over it and move on. If it was a shallow love it is soon gone and nothing needs to be said. But if it was an offering of a deep and abiding love, only time heals and your advice will be remembered as cruel.”
I woke this morning thinking about love and the choices we make concerning love. To better explain or complicate the subject, everyone is a combination of four personality groups (Sanguine, Melancholy, Choleric and Phlegmatic) and there are four types of love (Philia (friendship), Agape (unconditional), Eros (intimate) and Storge (affection).
Short personality definitions:
My above proverb can be better explained by confessing myself to be Melancholy/Sanguine. And the love spoken about is an Agape Love. One of the Melancholies strongest positive traits is to be loyal. We come slowly to a decision after much analyzing, perhaps too much, but when we do finally make a decision it is hard to shake it loose. And for a Melancholy to give Agape love it is like putting it in concrete. Giving love is a choice. Maintaining a relationship, even when you don’t feel love at that moment, is a choice. And this morning I was enlightened that keeping a love in your heart when that person is no longer around is still a choice.
I realized that we Melancholies must actually make a counter choice. That is a conscious and consistent choice to "unchoose" our love. And it takes time to make it stick. And it probably involves more analyzing to build a foundation to make the "unchoosing" a reality.
Telling a melancholy to just to get over it and move on is like telling them their feelings and choices do not matter. Especially since they have invested so much time analyzing, before making that choice. That their intellect is faulty. That their faithfulness is "unvalued". That their strongest trait of loyalty and their greatest gift offered is trivial and should be cast aside as easily as draining bath water. I can assure you that your advice will be perceived as cruel and unthinking. It is attacking the very heart of the Melancholy’s value system, their faithfulness. They are proven the least likely personality group to stray.
For some personalities choosing and "unchoosing" love may be as easy as deciding what to wear today. But I would prefer the time invested offering of a Melancholy’s agape love that I know will be there forever and under all conditions.
A Note: All personality groups have the ability to be as faithful as a Melancholy with the help of our Lord Yeshua (Jesus).
• “What Was, What Is and What Is to Come!” (My title)
February 16, 2012 ~ Related Quotes
If you have previously read from this site my personal restorations you might ask, "How does he have the time to do all of that? I don't have that much time."
My restorations include my music both with piano and trumpet. Then I am restoring my physically fitness by learning and teaching Isshinryu Karate. Keeping my mind young by learning a second language of Spanish and now also Hebrew. The social enjoyment of learning and teaching the Argentine Tango. Memory exercises memorizing people's name and Bible passages and music compositions. Cooking at home to eat better. Reading books and materials that educate me. And the largest commitment in time and greatest joy is my calling to this ministry of Restoration Song.
Where am I getting the time for all of this? Well I have to tell you most of the time has come from my unintended boycott of television. I look back at this writing and realize it has been six months since I have turned on my TV. Being single, it used to be a habit that upon coming home I turned on the TV just for the companionship of seeming to have someone else in the house. Sadly for many of us the TV has become our wives or husbands, our children, friends and neighbors. We mistakenly have allowed it to become our faux social interacts instead of using the time to cultivate real relationships.
So the more time I put into these other activities the less the television got turned on. And the most surprising illumination occuring to me was that after months of not watching any TV, I would turn it on and then could not find anything worthy to watch. As I recently blogged to friends, "More and more the content of television is looking like the stuff we used back home from our family dairy to fertilize our garden." For the less educated of my readers about dairy farming I tell you that there was a lot of manure left on the floor of the dairy barn after each milking.
The longer I stay away from television the clearer my mind becomes and the more critical I become of the programming. I cannot believe that I regularly watched some of the programs that I now recognize as just pure trash and for what it had been putting into my mind. It seems there is an inverse relationship to the amount of time spent in television to the amount of reasoning we have about what is good content.
The television has become the substitute for our teachers, our idea of entertainment and yes our moral compasses. This is sad for I do not believe that writers for television set out to destroy our values and intelligence. Yet to keep people entertained and coming back writers have to keep scripts on the edge. To titillate us with the unknown or the forbidden. But the more we watch TV the more we become desensitized to the content and even come to believe we are viewing the norm. So the writers, perhaps unintentionally, keep taking us further and further into piles of manure. I don't have to tell anyone where television has taken us. You only have to step back, get your perspective and evaluate for yourself.
Maybe it is time we start having some conscious boycotts of television. Ask ourselves why am I watching this or what am I getting out of this? Rather find something with which to educate and improve ourselves rather than desensitizing the mind and feelings night after night. Instead of living vicariously the lives of fictional characters, I remind us all to "Get a Life!!".
Will 2012 bring different results!
January 1, 2012 ~ Related Quotes
On the first day of a new year it seems appropriate to look at America's obsession with do overs. As I observe there are two types of do overs. One is healthy, acknowledging our responsibilities, wanting to make positive changes within ourselves. The unhealthy choice attempts to rid ourselves of any guilt or responsibility. Often adopting a fatalistic viewpoint from believing someone else has to change first and as a result controls the outcome.
I myself admit to wishing that I could go back at times to a beginning under the same circumstance yet possessing my current knowledge for an opportunity for a more successful outcome. It would be fun to see if the outcome could be changed. Maybe a relationship or an unfilled dream. Everyone seems to have choices we wish we had the opportunity to change.
With each new year and new resolutions we can claim a do over with the hope that results will turn out different. The very subject of resolutions suggest so. The problem with resolutions as well as all do overs is that the one constant is ourselves. We tend to forget that we are always a part of the equation.
For fun I list what might be do overs with which we have become accustomed. An amusing first is for the follower of any of our many sports teams. Every new season brings hope that with a new start the team will produce a different outcome from the last season. And at the end of the season it is usually only one team that can boast of victory and at being the best.
Some do overs might be under our control while others can only be relegated to history. Some of these are really not strictly do overs but belong in the category of give up and start over.
The point of this article is that we start to rethink the idea of reverting to do overs and start thinking about how we can put wings to ways to make changes from this point forward. In my forever optimistic nature, I do not believe in do overs from scratch are wise but rather in making course corrections and a conscious decision for improvements and growth.
And surprise this is the ministry of Restoration Song. Restoration is not about starting over but continuing from this point on a changed course. Educated to make the necessary corrections. While this may be more frustrating and a more difficult path it will ultimately be the most gratifying. It refuses failure and demands success. It is within ourselves with the help of God to make the necessary changes on any path to restoration.
December 28, 2011 ~ Related Quotes
Have you ever told God you would do anything He asked, except...? You fill in the blank. In my youth I have told God that a couple of times. Once was that I would never go into a prison to witness. The second was that I never wanted to become a missionary.
I was blessed with two parents who were evangelistic minded. Each individually had a calling to bring the good news they possessed to someone who did not know? My Mom used time some weeks to find kids that didn't go to Sunday School. Then she talked to their parents about letting them accompany her. Sunday mornings after dropping off our family at church she would go and pick up her "angels". Our station wagon was practical for transporting our large family of seven kids (the eighth, Yvonne came later when I was in college). But the car was doubly practical for it was used for that second trip on some Sundays to go pick up unchurched kids. Mom exemplified to me a tremendous amount of love for those in need.
My Dad had two programs. After milk cartons came out and replaced bottles he closed down our dairy and became an independent milk distributor for Borden's milk. He traveled from town to town on a daily basis filling up grocery store dairy cases with fresh milk. When not in school I was often his swampier. A swampier was what one was called who rode along and assisted in the heavy work. On most trips especially back in the 50's and 60's there was usually a hitch hiker with his thumb out for a ride to the next town. And dad never passed anyone up. I knew when I spied someone down the road I would be moving over to allow room for his new guest. I also knew that the unaware traveler was in for a conversation he might not be expecting. I knew that before his rear got comfortably settled into the seat my Dad would be asking if he knew Jesus? And you could bet if they didn't he was going to tell them all about Him.
The second of his programs was to go, after attending our early Sunday morning church service, to the local county jail house and talk to any body left there over the weekend. It was a small jail located in Baylor County, Seymour, Texas and there were usually never more that one or two temporary residents. On a few occasions I accompanied my Dad and played in the empty cells and swing from the bars. It was there that I made my first vow never to go into a jail and talk about "my" faith. I was just too uncomfortable about that thought and was sure that I would never be able do what my Dad did.
Now fast forwarding forty years. I was at a point in my life to wander if it had any real purpose. I began to think about what my Dad had done in his jail ministry and began to pray about it. I think God was impressing upon my mind that He did not appreciate my early vow. I at that time heard on the radio about Bill Glass's prison ministry. Bill is an exlineman for the NY Giants and had many contacts in the sport arena. A future weekend was planned, as his ministry did in many places around the world, for a huge event to go into the prisons and jails in the Dallas, Texas area. Six to seven hundred men and women volunteers go over a Friday, Saturday and Sunday into the prisons to give the message to anyone willing to listen.
The weekend before the scheduled event, I attended a days training secession where I decided yeah I could maybe go along. We also went through a security check the weeks prior. It was a highly organized event with those leading being noted sports figures and entertainers. Each location presented some interesting entertainment in a common area. I was assigned to a downtown Dallas regional prison for Texas. Our daily kickoff was conducted in a large gymnasium on the third floor. After that we went in small groups into the deeper lock down areas. This prison had bunk areas in quads of four where each quad housed around fifty men. This area was where I spent most of my time. In the center was an observation room where guards could watch all four quads from their one central point. In addition other floors had lock downs where four to six men stayed in a cell.
I soon realized I did not possess the boldness of my Dad or as did most of the men I accompanied. For the better part of three days I usually ended up talking with someone who already knew the story of the gospel and was eager to talk about their relationship with God. It seemed everyone witnessing except me were bringing in converts. I was feeling a failure at what I had watched my Dad do numbers of times.
I did have a long interesting conversation with a young black man who was a recent convert to Islam. If the reader is not aware, imprisoned black men are recruited into Islam which seems to offer them community and a substitute for a usually missing father.
On my way back into the prison that third day I prayed, "Lord I do not know what I am doing here. I am feeling useless. If there is anyone you want me to speak to, you are probably going to have to hit me over the head with them." That day progressed as I was just involved in light conversations. But I had begun to notice a young hispanic man named Juan who seemed to be around just in ear shot of a lot of the conversations in which I was involved. I had only previously greeted him for I mistakenly thought he spoke mostly Spanish and my Spanish was limited.
Well here we are the last day at the last hour back in the gym for the closing ceremony. Intermingled standing among the prisoners, I was still feeling like a failure and maybe a little angry at God for wasting my time. I could have been roller blading in the clear, clean and free air. For me each day there was always a shiver that ran up my spine when upon entering the prison that massive door clanged and locked shut behind me.
Then in the gym I became aware of Juan standing at the back wall with a couple of his jailhouse friends. I maneuvered myself back near him and as the program was ending I asked him if there was an question I could answer for him. In conclusion to our short conversation I asked him if he would like to pray to accept Jesus as his Savior. And to my surprise he said yes.
Now the gym by this time had been virtually cleared and Juan and I were the last of several hundred occupants from just a few minutes prior. It was surprising just how fast those guards could clear a room when they wanted to. I started to pray with him and a big unfriendly guard began gruffly yelling across the room at us that time was up and to get out of the gym. He wasn't asking. So we began walking across those hundred feet and we prayed the Sinner's prayer as we walked. I barely had time as we passed the door to get Juan's full name to turn over to the prison chaplain for follow up.
I pray for Juan and often wonder what ever happened to him. But I thank God that He did after all and so many years since my negative vow to use me to help Juan come, to commit and accept Jesus as Lord. Wow what a great feeling I now possessed. I suggest if there is anything you told God you would not do, you might reconsider as there may be a unknown blessing for you in it.
If you may have wondered about my other vow to never be a missionary, God also dealt with me on that too. That is to be the subject of my next blog.
(Video added on January 8, 2012 - Tebow and Broncos win over Steelers in first play of overtime. Tebow has 316 passing yards matching his favorite Bible passage, John 3:16)
December 21, 2011 ~
I am amused at the so called controversy over Tim Tebow. He is the type who would make a great statesman for America. He is a man of character and faith 24 hours a day not just at a Sunday morning church service.
Why has he become such a lightning rod? Because he dares to do today what I remember a lot of people doing 50 years ago. That is to unabashedly show that they were a man or woman of faith. They believed in a God who offers salvation to everyone who only need to say yes.
And lighting rod number two: His mother had contracted amoebic dysentery while pregnant yet refused doctor's recommendation for abortion because of possible birth defects. Ever since his healthy birth, her message has been clear proclaiming Tim to be a survivor from abortion. Just by being the success he has been proclaims that we can never know how much human potential has been destroyed through abortion. Every life that was killed could have been a great musician, great statesman, philosopher, poet, inventor, etc. We have no idea of what human potential has been lost forever from this world.
Lightning rod number three: he proclaims to remain celibate until married. A virtue lost on this generation for free wheeling anytime sex. A virtue few, even Christians, can claim.
Tebow’s dissenters, a small percentage of the population who are unbelievers, have been successful over the years and have become accustomed to quieting down good little Christians. “We can tolerate them as long as they keep their opinions inside the walls of their church.” Now even in some cases the church is no long a sanctuary.
So along comes Mr. Tebow. A young man who has been somewhat successful at the position of a football quarterback. A sport revered by a majority of Americans. He is strong enough to exemplify to an unbeliever, you can still have your beliefs but I am not going to stop living my life as I see fit. To bend a knee any place to my creator.
Many unbelievers are never content to just not believe. They also do not want anyone else hearing about the good news. If kept inside the walls of a church there is not much chance of that.
Christians have forgotten the great commission given us by Christ. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt 28:19-20 NIV
I say hurray for Tim Tebow and shame on each of us who have acquiesced and not stood up and proclaimed that Christ is the better way. Whether it is in church, in the work place, on the street and yes even in a football stadium where millions might see.
If you are reading this and consider yourself an unbeliever, I would encourage you to investigate why and what is at the core of Tim Tebow's or any true believing Christian's faith. An authentic Christian is the same both in public as in private.
With a Gift of "Gold"
November 30, 2011 ~ Related Quotes
One of the greatest restorations that needs to occur is the spirit in which Christmas is celebrated. Take note of Black Friday with a label that is appropriate but originally named for a different reason. The greed and the selfishness that was reported from across this once great nation. People fighting over goods and ignoring those that had collapsed and needing medical attention. Black Friday is indeed becoming a black eye on the face of America.
Christmas needs to be restored to its original purpose of honoring Christ who came to earth to save people out of their sins. To give everyone the opportunity for the ultimate gift to live eternally with Him, the greatest gifter of all.
The spirit of giving was started as the magi visited and gave gifts to the Christ child. We give gifts to our friends and relatives showing our love and respect. Every gift needs to encompass something that uplifts the spirit of the receiver. Give not another pair of socks or tie but something that shows your thought and caring that is spiritual in nature. Maybe give to a needy cause or individual using the name of your friend to be honored as the giver.
Or a gift that attends to a special specific need rather than just picking an item from a long want list. Give a gift of an act. Give out certificates for your time. One of the most gratifying gifts I ever gave and was the most memorable to me was such a certificate to a friend for her birthday. She ended up cashing it in asking for a once beautiful custom bench swing in her backyard to be repaired. I replaced rotting lumber with new and sanded and painted the metal parts. I got back the gift of appreciation as she sits and swings and has her morning coffee in her now refurbished swing. I doubt that I would have retained a memory if I had just given her a gift of another sweater. The great idea of a certificate of time is that the recipient gets to choose the gift.
Lets take the attitude that it will be better to give nothing than to give just anything that probably will end up tossed in a closet in just a few days after. Lets fight with fury against this season becoming hectic and frenzied.
The ideas are limitless. Use your imagination. Give a gift of "Gold" that glorifies God and the recipient. Lets start with this season to restore the original spirit for the celebration of our Savior. Let us do Him proud and honor Him as originally intended. And let others know that you do not want or expect anything in return. Lets start the restoration now to get back to the spirit of peace, joy, meditation and thankfulness.
November 27, 2011 ~ Related Quotes
One thing I catch myself thinking about the most is being aware of opportunities. I am sure that the reason I write so much about it is that I am probably as guilty as anyone for having letting an opportunity escape. I have great hindsight but have missed opportunities because I have not been alert or was preoccupied with other thoughts. Opportunities do need discernment to decide what is a true opportunity and what is a trap. And there are spontaneous opportunities with a small window for selection.
Case on point: I was recently picking up groceries at a local Super Walmart. I was in line to check out, in my own little world. Looking around trying to think of anything I may have needed and failed to remember, there were a couple of young women probably in their early 20's in front of me. And they were taking an inordinately amount of time for the few items that they had on the counter. There were about two dozens jars of baby food, a couple of boxes of dry baby cereal, baby bottles and a few other baby items. I think some baby formula in cans also. That was it, no other groceries, nothing for themselves only items to feed a baby.
They seemed to be fumbling with a credit card but as I said I was not really paying much attention to them.
The next thing I know is that they are walking out the door and the clerk is putting all the now sacked items behind her. And suddenly I become aware of the apparent situation. They must have not been able to pay for the items and quickly left, probably embarrassed.
If I had only not been so self absorbed and more attentive I would have stepped up and paid their tab. It was clear from their items that their only intent was to feed a probably hungry baby.
I said a prayer that God let me find them in the parking lot as I was intending to give them a fifty dollar bill from my wallet. But alas by the time I got checked out and into the parking lot I was not able to find them. A missed opportunity for sure, solely because I was just not paying attention to a need that was right in front of me. In fact for years I had envisioned rescuing someone in line short of money. And here was an obvious honorable circumstance I should have recognized and I totally missed it.
There have been a variety of opportunities over my years. Some of which I took advantage and some on which I regrettably failed to act. So I will continue to talk awareness with discernment and pray I, myself, get smarter.
Be blessed in your search for God's given opportunities.
November 14, 2011 ~ Related Quotes
I woke one morning a few years ago to the sound of a bird singing. "Wow that bird sounds close," I thought coming out of my haze, "almost as if it was inside my bedroom." As I opened my eyes they focused on this small bird sitting on the curtain rod right across from my bed.
I was leasing a three split level vacation cottage on the side of a hill in Branson, Missouri, with a beautiful view of an inlet into Lake Taney Como. Kitchen and dining was on the first level, a great room with humongous fireplace on the second and my bedroom was on the third level. The bedroom had windows filling, almost continuously, all four sides to the room. It was a peaceful atmosphere, giving the feel and appearance as if one was sleeping outdoors.
I watched my little friend flying around attempting to get out. Yet he kept bouncing off of the windows. I get up out of bed and crank open the one window in the bedroom without a screen. This gave him a foot and a half wide by four foot tall opening. And with the energy he was going about it I thought he would quickly discover his window to freedom.
But he was not finding success and I thought must be by now developing a tremendous headache. I got a towel from the bath to assist by waving and shooing him in the right direction. Then because of my now chasing him, he was desperate and panicky. He kept bouncing off of every window in the room except the one that was open. The more I tried to direct him in the right direction, the more he seemed determined to find his own way out. This went on for what seemed a long time, at least ten to fifteen minutes.
In desperation I plopped down on the edge of the bed and just stared at the bird now back on the original curtain rod. He stared back, panting from exhaustion. Suddenly this thought comes into my head. This bird was reflecting how I was feeling at that moment in my life. I was feeling desperate and panicky not knowing which way my life was to go. I had just resigned from a publisher's job that had not progressed as promised me during my recruitment. I felt like my life needed me to make something happen, if just anything.
I sat there a few moments meditating about the similarities of "Stupid", the name I had christened the bird, and myself. That maybe I, like "Stupid", was ignoring the direction being pointed out to me. I said a silent prayer, "God if you are using this bird to speak to me, that I just need to put more faith in You, to listen and wait on Your direction, to have faith that You are in control and not me, let this bird now find the open window."
It happened so fast it startled me as the bird immediately leaves the curtain rod, makes one loop over my head and flying at full speed he zooms straight through the open window. Still just a little amazed I watch him lite on a phone transmission line across the street. After a moments rest he flies off I am sure happy for his freedom.
On a spiritual journey, there is a peace in knowing and following the direction of the Lord. It took a few of years of patience from that time to this point but I now know I am in the center of God's will. All the paths I have traveled since my youth, although they at the time appear not to be connected, have each contributed to being at this point in time. His purpose for me is where I now am. Maybe I was meant to be here years ago, yet just like that little bird, ignored God's prompting's. But I am thankful that I have now arrived. This is not to say the journey has ended but actually is the entrance to a glorious adventure with God in the lead.
I pray this prayer, that if you are not already on your God given path that He reveal His open window to the opportunity He has envisioned solely for you. That you can now experience His peace and joy in His perfect plan.
FYI: In case you are wondering how the bird got into my bedroom, so was I to discover. Searching throughout the house I find on the first level in the kitchen a filter had fallen off of an exhaust fan and I surmised that the bird came in between the blades of the fan and traveled through the house until he arrived up stairs in my bedroom. I am confident that all was God orchestrated, to first wake me with a song, and then delivered to me His personal message at the moment I was receptive and needed it.
November 6, 2011 ~ Related Quotes
As I have celebrated my own restorations, I have come to realized that everyone seeks numerous restorations in their own lives. Even our country badly needs restoration. (the subject of another blog.) Our lives are replete with failures, hurts, injuries, and disappointments.
Yet this is not a blog on despair but on hope, encouragement and celebration. The deeper I get into the subject of restoration the more I have come to realize the need. More and more because of this ministry, I am being asked by someone hurting to listen to their story of pain. They need the healing that sharing brings, needing an encouraging word and a prayer to bring back peace or what they might describe as normalcy back into their lives.
This ministry was again confirmed to me, in a unique way this past week, by a stranger. In the middle of an eight hour trip to Texas, I stop to fill up my gas tank and to empty my own tank. Washing my hands in the men's room I asked the man next to me, doing the same, how he was doing. After doing my own ß, I got back to his "doing a little better response." I asked him what the problem was and he began to tell me a story, just that morning, of betrayal from someone very close to him. I will not get into his details but I will tell you he was hurting as deeply as a man can be hurt. We spent about twenty minutes in the parking lot, myself mostly listening. I got to know more about this total stranger's life than I at first really desired.
Putting my hand on his shoulder, we ended up praying that his life be restored, that he deserved better, that God would replace his hurt with healing and bring into his life relationships in which he can again develop trust. As we walk away from each other I heard his voice yell out to me across the parking lot that I was just what he needed that morning. I turned and smiled giving him a thumbs up knowing that it was really God. I, quickly, thanked God for putting me in this man's path for the opportunity of giving him some encouragement.
Geting into my car, I thought of the couple of delays I had experienced earlier in the day and I now thanked God for orchestrating them. Otherwise I would have missed this connection that I had made there with a stranger in the middle of a parking lot in this sparse area while passing through Oklahoma.
October 30, 2011 ~ Related Quotes
Last weekend, I returned to my home town of Seymour, Texas for a family reunion and upon driving home got to thinking about places and what they mean to us. I realized it was not just about bricks and mortar. Places are about with whom we share the experiences. Where we live and have visited are like containers. They hold the relationships that are attached to the landscape. The memories of trips I have taken would mean little without those with whom I traveled or those I met there.
On the surface Seymour would not be much to attract or entice a traveler to return. But when you start thinking about the family or the friends with whom I grew up, Seymour takes on a whole new perspective and beauty. It is no longer just a small town in West Texas but it holds my memories of a lot of good people that imprinted on my early life.
Places have edges that contain our relationships, those pleasant and not. What makes a place inviting are the people that live within that container. You have large containers and then there are smaller containers you keep inside those larger. For example, the U.S. could be a large container with all of the relationships you know there. Then within the U.S. the states. For me the most prominent being Missouri and Texas. You begin to see how your relationships relate to a specific location and the scenery there. Towns within states, families within towns, organizations or groups within other containers. A husband and wife as a container. And every place you have visited is a container holding all those that imprinted on your memory.
Recollecting places I have been I think first of those that traveled with me that made it special. And I remember those there that I took the time to meet and get to know. I can even recollect on a trip to Germany, 15 years ago, where many houses were painted in murals yet I remember this little old german man walking down his street that I took the time, just 10 minutes, to stop and converse with him about his neighborhood murals.
My life is made up of thousand upon thousands of not just places but containers and I first cherish who, not what makes each one special.
October 17, 2011 ~ Related Quotes
What we are experiencing today is a world wide disease called "Me First". At the root of all our social and economic ills are hearts of selfishness. I have experienced my own spells of "why me Lord". "Why do I have it worse than my neighbor who seems to have it so easy". But thankfully I have friends that snap me out of it.
We can see many selfish examples these past few weeks with the occupy Wall Street protesters. Some voice their wants touting them as needs. Many do not even have a clear reason for being there except that they are unhappy and that someone else must be the fault.
History shows no society has ever imploded spontaneously. They all have declined over time. It is agreed by almost everyone that America is on the decline, yet the reasons why are as varied as those venturing an opinion. Usually from too much government to not enough government.
My opinion is that we have lost our vision of what it means to be great. Our fore fathers wanted to build a great society. One that puts God first and secondly our neighbors before ourselves.
Observe the slippery slope that America is on. You can hear the words my rights, my rights, my rights over and over. Here are a few rights that trouble me:
The common theme in all of this is "selfishness". This country and the world is in financial straits because we have gravitated to irresponsible and bad moral decisions. Politicians in order to garner votes put in programs that inflict a heavy financial burden upon those still able to pay taxes. And use the class warfare mentality to try and shift more burdens on to those that still have resources. That is at the heart of why the graduated income tax is evil.
What politicians fail to see or just want to ignore is that with more and more taxes they are sapping up the extra resources used to create jobs and expand the economy. Instead of pulling up the lower half they are pulling down the upper half. A class warfare mentality even says that this is ok, believing that if I can't have it then no one else should either.
Our ills began and continue in each individual's heart and we have to make a change there or we are doomed. Putting aside the great feeling of exhilaration one gets from giving, one answer to cure "selfishness" and still be self serving can be found in the words of Zig Ziglar. "You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
October 12, 2011
Growing up in a small town has a built in factor for accountability. Since everyone knows everybody there was a need to be careful as you built your reputation. If we did not want to face the wrath of our parents, who knew that a reputation is slowly built and can be destroyed in an instant, we thought twice about misbehaving. That is not to say we did not have our mischievous moments. And I can attest to having my share. But living in a small town you were aware that the eyes that could see you, knew you and your parents. All behavior good or bad would travel to your parents sooner or later, usually sooner. There is a theorem, I claim, that the reports of bad behavior in a small town travel at the speed of light.
And why would a neighbor even bother to report to your parents? Only because they cared. There seemed to be this unconscious thought that responsible communities wanted to raise and produce the best of the best. And the best are always accountable.
Big city living easily loses the accountability factor. In large communities a person can operate in unanimity. Do whatever you desire and expect to be accountable to no one. You get the idea that few if any will criticize you and that no one would care anyway. Big cities let people act without shame for their purposeful wrong decisions. In my town you did not want to be the one to bring shame upon your family.
I recently through a Facebook group made connections with those of us that have once lived in Seymour, Texas. It has been an unexpected joy to reconnect and share stories growing up in this small town. It is clear through the posts that most everyone feels a shared moral underpinning and beliefs that God should be central to your lives and we should be respectful of our neighbors. Small towners are just a big family!
I would caution those that were not fortunate to have this experience and might think that small towns only produce hicks and small people. I can assure you that it is just the opposite. They produce great and honorable, moral, respectful, self sufficient and hard working people. And I believe that it all comes down to the accountability. Wherever you live find yourself some friends that will hold you accountable and make them your small town. You will never regret it.
September 14, 2011 ~ Related Quotes
Now being in my mature years in body, I am confronted with the theory of retirement. Retirement is a new concept that has come into its own in the last 100 years or so. Mostly because we in the US have been blessed by God with a wealth that no other country has every before experienced.
Retirement is centered wholly on one's ability to store up enough resources to carry them through the remaining years of their lives. Incidentally the bible calls such a person a fool (for pride and independence from God) and this column may show some other reasons.
In my observations, especially men, upon retirement three destructive things can occur. The first is a man's loss of self worth. Men gain primary significance from their work. And to retain self esteem we need to soon replace that loss with an activity that helps retain one's self worth. Upon loss of self esteem men will start to decline in health which brings me to number two.
That is an atrophy of body and mind. Lessen physical activity muscles are not replenished as fast as in our youth. And then it takes more effort to recover them. My physical therapist brother working on his Phd, says that there is no need for this to happen, for a person can continue to increase muscle mass and strength into his nineties and beyond. Muscles may not have the same toned look of youth but can still be very strong and efficient with exercise.
The mind will also atrophy with less challenges. The stimulation of work keeps the mind firing on all receptors. I use my dad as an example who worked into his late 70s. My father was a strong and muscle toned man and I believed him to be the one exception to escape this trap. But alas six months after his retirement he was virtually bound to a lounge chair and needed a wheel chair to get about. A fact my brother confirmed could have been avoided.
Then comes number three, the loss of independence. With diminished capacity comes a dependence on family and health care personnel. This further diminishes a man's self worth that continues his downward spiral. Look about and see how many widows are traveling alone spending a lifetime of accumulation without their mates.
It will also be interesting to see if more women that have elected in this generation to have a career without children will succumb to the same loss of self esteem upon retirement. I am guessing not as much as a man, for a woman's self worth is generally generated more through their relationships.
So what are the perks for retirement? There is only one I can see and that is the gift of time. The downsides of retirement can become an upside by using the now available time for something meaningful. One to spend more time with family and reestablish past relationships. Another to find something that continues to contribute to the well being of a cause or people. But it must come with a contribution to a man's self worth.
Be warned that our society does not cherish their elders for their wisdom and guidance as have past generations. And I think it is the theory of retirement that contributes to this thinking. Many youth are being taught that when a man ceases to make economic contributions to society so does his value as a productive member of society and now is only a drain and a consumer of resources.
Now for me, I will never claim the word retirement for it s a dirty word and tastes bad in my mouth. I can rejoice in God's calling me to Restoration Song for it is a way for me to contribute up to the day they put me in my grave. Restoration Song is a plan, an encouragement to others and a celebration for those that are having successes.
I encourage everyone to write down and to follow your own plan. Start today, whatever your age, to put into place a self esteem plan alongside your savings plan. It needs to have the components for physical, mental and spiritual health. If you fail to have a plan I would give counsel to keep working, and never retire!
“Retirement kills more people than hard work ever did.” ~ Malcolm Forbes
August 20, 2011
Unfortunately not all of our desired restorations are possible in this life. It is only until we are in heaven that some restorations can happen.
My greatest regret took place forty two years ago and colored my life from that time on. It is hindsight that makes clear our past mistakes. And evil usually conquers in increments, leading us step by step down a path it wants to take us. I recount here the steps occurring to arrive at the event that was to be my deepest regret ever. The event followed after my son, Kurt's birth 41 years ago.
Step One: The Birth of my son was very difficult and painful for my wife, Susan (now ex wife). Her birth canal was small and Kurt ended up being delivered with a bullet head, over twice in length to the diameter. The plates in his skull had to overlap to make the head small enough for him to squeeze through. It took a couple of weeks for his head plates incrementally to returned to their normal positions.
Step Two: Susan got pregnant again a few weeks after Kurt was born. It seems the most fertile time for a woman is immediately after a birth.
Step Three: Susan was suffering from Postpartum Depression. Although Postpartum Depression was not even know about at that time, I observed her in a state of almost continual shear panic, fear and depression.
Step Four: We received bad advice from a College Campus Minister advising us that the fetus was not a child but a blob. At my insistence we had visited with the minister about the moral viability of having an abortion. I found out later that this minister happen to be the only one in the entire Lutheran church, Missouri Synod, to hold this belief. Missouri Synod Lutherans even to this day have been stalwart in their convictions while holding the line to the fact that life begins at conception and is created by God.
Step Five: I was not present with Susan during Kurt's delivery. I was at Army basic training at Ft. Polk, Louisiana. Because of her isolation and pain and difficulty of 15+ hours in delivery Susan subsequently convinced herself that she could not survive another birth process.
Step Six: Susan believed that her doctor told her that she would die in another birth. I doubt that this is correct because she would never let me sit down with her and her doctor to discuss and inform us together of all possible dangers. I can discern that the doctor not knowing about Postpartum depression indeed could have been concerned about her mental condition.
Step Seven: Even in the 70's Women could get an abortion if their life was in danger. Today the lie is that we need laws to protect women's right to abortion. Through personal experience I know that even 40 years ago a woman could and did get abortions when claiming danger to their life. Although I never understood why her doctor, with us living in Texas, made arrangements in a New Mexico hospital. I could only guess that there probably was some legal or moral restrictions in Texas that the doctor was skirting.
Step Eight: I finally relented and agreed to an abortion. Through much distress to my spirit I agreed and drove Susan to the New Mexico hospital. Still in my heart I felt this was a live human being that was being exterminated even as I was being told it was not. Yet I knew that if she truly wanted this abortion there was nothing I could really do to prevent it.
Step Nine: Susan walks out of that hospital a changed woman. From that day forward her spirit was damaged. She found it very difficult to allow me to even touch her. There was an unexplained anger in her spirit. We were never again to speak of this event.
Step Ten: Divorce was to come after a long time of our denial and ignorance about what was the catalyst for the wall between us. Our divorce was the culmination of the destroyed intimacy and lost trust that began that fateful day in a hospital in Santa Fe New Mexico.
Restoration unavailable: What would I change if I could go back to that day 42 years ago? I would fight for the life of my child and the sanity of my wife. Hindsight is a lot easier but today I am convinced that her spirit would not have suffered the damage she holds even 42 years later. She most likely would have recovered from the Postpartum Depression and we would have another child probably delivered by cesarean.
Facts in Denial: Abortion destroys. It destroys a human life. It destroys the heart of a nurturing woman. It destroys the fabric of society and family. And this particular abortion destroyed a marriage. It deprived Kurt of a sibling and Karen and my parents of another grandchild. It deprived the world of a productive, taxpaying individual. It deprived everyone of the subsequent family and children going forward. And the lose of the positive impact to all who would have come to know him or her.
The memory of this painful event is my deepest regret in my entire life. I can now only rely on the fact that restoration is delayed until the moment I meet my daughter or other son in heaven.
Good News: It is a fact that one in four women have had an abortion. So it is likely that a number of women who have aborted children will be reading this blog. I say to you there is good news concerning any despair. We have a great God and He has devised a plan to restore you and save you and comfort you. Since he came to this earth being a perfect individual he offered up himself to die for all the sins of everyone past and present and future.
All you need do is accept His solution. Ask Him to forgive and come into your heart. That is all it takes. Need a prayer? This one might help you get started? A Prayer for Grace
(The names used here for my son and my ex wife are changed in this article to try to minimize their possible embarrassment on this highly sensitive subject. This is a subject for which I feel strongly, since I have personally lived it. I have accepted my responsibility in this tragic event and tell my story to help expose the lies of pro abortion proponents.)
August 14, 2011
One of the most challenging choices for anyone can be knowing when to walk away. Most of us Guys are inheritably competitive and not willing to let anyone get the better of us. Yet the best in us may be summing up enough strength and confident to just walk away.
One of the tenets of studying martial arts is to first avoid the fight if possible. Armed with knowledge that could maim or even kill another individual, the consequences to engaging in a battle can be permanent on your opponent and maybe yourself. Karate is not about proving you can best someone, but about prevailing. It takes more strength to just walk away.
A time to counter is when someone else is in peril. Anyone weaker than their attacker, especially someone God placed under your umbrella of protection as a wife or child.
I was confronted recently with the fact that a verbal attack can sometimes be just as destructive as a physical one. This tenet to walk away can apply in both cases. Want to frustrate someone watch their face as you refuse to respond. How many times have you been involved or watched arguments escalate because of the inherent trait to defend oneself. I was recently criticized by someone that has a style to question one's character as they criticize actions. And I did not react well.
Words can never be taken back and can do as much permanent damage as a cross heel stomp to the knee. No matter how heartfelt an apology it can never erase the memory of the hurt.
Thankfully I have experiences to draw upon that are the polar opposite. Friends who have the ability to challenge me without attempting to diminish my self esteem. That ability is the one thing I cherish, love and most appreciate in my friends. These are the friends I keep.
The best way to react to a conflict is not wait for the moment but to make a decision before confrontations come. Make the decision ahead of time and have enough confidence in yourself to just walk away. If you rush to react you may miss an opportunity. Even in the most vicious attacks there can be a degree of truth and there is an opportunity to learn something constructive you can use to improve yourself. Then be strong and leave your attacker to their own isolation. Walk away yet with caution and guard up.
August 6, 2011
There are those few among us who have the ability to give unconditional love. And they are most all little: the youngest children, dogs and even some cats :-). What young child or pet will not love you just for the privilege for being in your presence. I love to be in that environment. And how do most people react to someone giving unconditional love? We love and appreciate it and will reflect back love the same way. My son and the dogs I have had over the years have been an enjoyment to me and I was glad to lavish my attention on them for their unconditional love.
Gratefully I am not one who has regrets about lost time with my son as I have heard many lament. I have spent a lot of time with Craig in his formative years. I spent time in games with him (he was a good chess player) and I was always the coach of his childhood soccer and basketball teams. A little older we got Brittany's and trained them and hunted quail together. Some of my favorite memories are of us, when he and I and a couple of dogs were walking the Mesquite fields in the middle of nowhere in West Texas.
Sadly, it seems that conditional love is acquired, learned or taught to us as we age. Through disappointments and losing out on relationships we learn to distrust. The more we get hurt the more we withhold love, feeling someone must prove to us their commitment first.
Pastor Kris Pace in a recent Sunday morning message woke me up to this concept of conditional love he called "buffered love". It was a life changing moment for me. He explained "buffered love" as that where we hold back until someone shows us that they are worthy of our love. I left church that morning determined to no long wait on approaching others, showing my attention, encouragement and love, vowing to be the first to initiate without conditions. I love hugging so you better watch out when you see me coming.
I pray there are many who will join me in breaking this cycle of the learned conditioning of "buffered love". Let's not let our first thoughts be concerned about what someone thinks of us. Lets show the love without conditions.
From that Sunday I have noticed something different in others. They react the same as I did to my son's love and my pets, they are immediately lavishing joy back to me. The surrounding atmosphere of my world has been transformed not by others changing but because of my own change. Go figure, sometimes we can learn something from our children.
August 5, 2011
Music washes over me like a great gentle wave as I lie on a beach. It refreshes and rejuvenates me. I have to say that music is profoundly the one place where I find solace when the world seems overwhelming. During times of stress I could find myself at the piano for hours at a time.
The difficult thing for me about music is that it is so personal and often a solitary practice. I am a people person and I find It is hard to intimately share the experience of music. Listening together does just not quite do it. Yet I have found two ways that will increase the intimacy of music. As a participator verses an observer in life, I am finding that singing together with someone a very fulfilling experience.
The other way has been a passion with me for almost 30 years. That is dancing with the music, especially the Argentine Tango. There is nothing more intimate than having someone follow and share your lead to the emotions that the music speaks and draws out from you. It can be explained more as a dream than reality for it is like sharing an intimate getaway even when on a crowded floor.
I will be forever grateful to a friend Sandi, owner of Granbury Live in Granbury Texas, who helped turn me back onto my musical path. I observed her playing music all her waking hours and I was reminded of the contentment and peace music brings to us. It had been one of those things that I had let slip in priority because of a busy world. Now thanks to her initial encouragement I am back!
Sadly for her and patrons, Granbury Live is soon closing its doors and will leave a hole in that part of Texas. Sandi and the cast have been an encouragement to many through the years with music, love and words of inspiration. I pray that they all are blessed for their contributions and the love they showed to me.
Yet even out of ashes there is birth and for me that rebirth is Restoration Song born just a few months ago and I vow will be a part of me for the rest of my life. To restore to my soul that which I had let once slip away. Restoration Song is not only music for the soul but at the same time delivers words of encouragement to lift up and minister in a world that seems for many to be slipping away. A planned addition to this site soon will be video messages delivered in combination with music. It will add a new dimension to the celebrations and hopefully more enjoyable than just reading words on a screen.
Revival and a return to God is on the move with more and more people now seeing that government and even their own abilities cannot supply what God can. It is much much deeper than just money and things, it is a security and a profound contentment to the soul with an everlasting life with Him, today forward with an abundance of music.
August 4, 2011
I seem to be experiencing of late people showing more anger. And we probably will be seeing more of it as economic conditions get worse. Just as lighting strikes unexpectedly and seemingly indiscriminately so goes the reactions of people displaying anger.
Anger can be separated into two groups. One is a righteous anger that serves us well. When injustice happens especially to others we may rise to confront and give protection to those that are too weak to defend on their own.
But here I speak of the second, the destructive anger that destroys relationships. And it usually happens when a trigger sets anger in motion.
If you are the one getting angry ask yourself what happened or what was said that triggered your reaction? Ask with whom are you angry, the other person or yourself? I venture to say as from my own experiences the answer is mostly with ones self. Although I have never been angry to lose my composure I have had many experiences of frustration. And frustration I am told is only another form of anger. And my frustration when analyzed is almost always with myself. A good question to ask is what do I need to change or fix to avoid the frustration in the future? What was the trigger and why?
When it is someone else who is displaying the anger, I try not to immediately react but realize that they are probably covering or compensating. I ask myself if there is something going on in their life that is immediately stressing them. (My idea for writing this blog was because I just recently failed at first asking myself this question and I reacted badly. I reacted quickly trying to defend myself when later I realized that it was not much about me.)
The two biggest triggers I have observed are guilt and insecurity. You may find that you have triggered some guilt in another just by being yourself. Sometimes anger is a reaction to being reminded of something one despises in themselves.
Or if a person feels some guilt about how they have unjustly dealt with you. Anger is then used to push away, without having to either deal with you or themselves. This was an experience of mine of late from someone I thought a year ago I could depend on with my life, but after they deeply hurt me, they now surprisingly show a misplaced anger toward me that leaves me both perplexed and sad.
I recommend dealing with unjust anger in the same way whether you or another are the initiator. Wait, ... wait, .. wait, ... and then wait some more before reacting. Encouragement rather than anger may be what is most needed!
July 27, 2011
One of the most important revelations that has ever occurred to me has come into focus over the last couple of weeks. I have noticed that when revelations occur to me the message comes from a number of different sources at the same time. I personally can only attribute that to God speaking to me and I need to pay attention.
A friend, Brenda Diehl, spoke this last Sunday morning at our church. Brenda is our music director and this past year at a very young age has had to fight a battle against cancer. She put wings for me to the most often asked question, Why does God allow evil in the world or Why do even good people go through trials, illnesses, injustices, etc. or Why is God allowing this to happen to me? Her revelation was that "God Just Wants Your Attention!" And I agree that must be so true.
A couple of weeks ago I had vehicular trouble and I was determined to save myself some money and fix it myself. A job of replacing a timing belt that should have taken six hours for a practicing mechanic took me almost four days. I was getting stuck with pesky frozen bolts and etc. Through the process just at the point of my most debilitating frustrations, and asking God why are you not making this easier for me, as I have been asking, God sends me an angel. In fact throughout the process there was a total of at least five different angels (neighbors and friends) that stopped by to assist at a moment of being frustratingly stuck.
The message was finally becoming evident. God was answering my prayers but in a different way. Not giving me the answer directly but sending angels to assist. I was having to swallow pride and admit that maybe I didn't have to directly be the one. I can let others assist me. God can and will provide help or an answer when we trust and turn to and focus on Him. Usually when we have finally given up on our own attempts and turned to Him. I do not wish to equate my little mechanic job to my friend Brenda's life struggle with cancer. But as Brenda professed about her illness, I see the answer is the same, God created us for Himself and All God wants is Our Attention.
Without my asking, each time a different angel came to my assistance at just the right time, my faith was being strengthen and I observed God's hand upon my life.
God wanting our attention would explain so many different situations. Observing others who have become self sufficient through wealth accumulation, now faced with savings and assets being depleted overnight. And not the least are the economic catastrophes for which our country is now being tested. Through our past self sufficiency, we as a nation have turned away or forgotten God and now He is just asking us to return to Him. Trust Him, not government, let Him gives us the answers. As Brenda so succinctly stated, "He Just Wants Your Attention!"
And the Lesson I learned from It
July 4, 2011
One of the most gratifying activities with which I ever involved myself was what I for a time called my rose ministry. I lived in the Dallas, Texas area a few years ago and one Sunday afternoon I had invited a young lady to meet me in the botanical gardens there in Dallas along White Rock Lake. I had brought a single red rose to give to her when she arrived. It had a kind of ironic feel that there among the acres of blooming flowers, where it is forbidden to pick any, I had a rose to give to her. But alas for my heart, she never came and an hour later I finally realized that I had been stood up.
As I was leaving the park, I noticed a young hispanic couple pushing an elderly lady in a wheelchair. She didn't look very happy and I felt myself urged to go up to her and offer her this rose wrapped in tissue paper. "Would you like a rose?" I asked. She looked surprised yet very appreciative as her frail hand reached out to grasp the stem of the rose. She brought it to her nose and took in a wisp of it's aroma and a weak smile broke out upon her face. Wow it now almost seemed worth it that I had been stood up.
And my rose ministry was born. For each of a dozen weeks later and mostly on a Sunday afternoon, I would go, purchase a rose, spend the afternoon searching out for a lady who I felt needed some encouragement and a smile. I always began my journey with a prayer to God that I be lead to someone who was perhaps depressed and needed a smile from Him.
One day in particular I especially felt the hand of God leading me. I drove to the same lake mentioned above, White Rock, which was about 25 miles from where I lived. Circling the lake, I was compelled to pull into a small parking lot which led to a pier that went out a short ways into the lake. I backed into a parking spot and noticed a young lady sitting in the center at the end of the pier which had this cross section at it's head. At one end of the T were 3 women, seated, chatting away seemingly oblivious to this young woman with her legs cross in front of herself about 30 feet away.
I sat there for a long time watching, I think maybe 15 minutes, observing to see if she was alone or maybe waiting on someone. She seemed to never move, motionless almost statue like, staring down into the water in front of her. A little nervous about offering a rose to a stranger, I finally said a prayer, "God if this is the lady who needs a rose today, let her turn around and look my way." And wow, chills went over my body, as she immediately turned her body to look back in my direction. And then she quickly turned back to resume her frozen like pose.
My mission was confirmed, yet I suddenly realized how conspicuous I looked as I dismounted from my vehicle. I was dressed in tie, slacks and sports coat as everyone else at a lake was dressed in shorts, bathing suits and casual wear. I was acutely aware as I walked down the 100 foot pier the eyes of the three ladies who had stopped talking and were watching me intensely as I walked in their direction, rose in hand. As I reached the end of the pier, I turned away from the women and toward my target. I walked up behind the girl who had never again moved and seemed not to be aware that I was even directly behind her.
I knelt down on one knee at her side, and asked if she would like to have a rose? She barely looked my direction and with very sad eyes she momentarily searched my face but did not respond. I reached out and offered the rose and said, "Jesus told me to bring you this flower as a token of His love." She hesitantly took the flower, held it to her chest and turned back to again stare into the water. I left never really knowing if that small token had made a difference to her at a particularly critical time. But that was what the rose ministry was all about, doing something for someone without ever knowing if it was making a difference at all.
This went on for weeks, after a short treasure hunt, giving out roses where I felt I was lead. A number of times it was a lady seated in a restaurant eating alone, another at the airport, once was a homeless lady pushing a shopping cart. But none had the impact on me that the lady at the lake had. That day I was sure that I was used by God to make a difference in her life.
So today I urge you to find someone, perhaps a stranger who needs something done or given something of value or even just a token of affection. That today one more person will know that there is someone in this world who notices them and cares about them.
Go on your treasure hunt and be an angel for someone today!
July 2, 2011
Playing "what if" is a dangerous game. But suppose you could go back into the past to change not others, not even circumstances but make changes in yourself that perhaps would change your relationships for time forward. Perhaps even avoiding losing that special relationship that now seems unrecoverable.
I just watched a movie called Deja Vu where an ATF agent, played by Denzel Washington, goes back a few days in time and ends up saving the life of a young woman, Paula Patton, and over 500 other victims. The movie was about changing circumstances. My scenario is about changing the one thing a person can truly control, ourselves. We cannot make changes in others but we can make changes in ourselves.
As my life has been transformed of late. Learning to give love unconditionally I see how others around me are being positively affected. A transformation in the atmosphere, attitude and the connection to others by reflecting my joy back to me. If only we could go back and correct or improve ourselves to replace the negatives with positives.
At the risk of offending God by asking for just one change in the managing of His world, I would ask, for each of us, one do over. To go back one time at our choosing into the past with the stipulation that the only thing we can change would be ourselves.
Since God did not consult me before making His world, the next best thing is His restoration and we at Restoration Song enjoy reporting all victories. Not about changing the past but making changes that improve our future and restore what the cancers of the past have taken from us.
The time to start is today, before today becomes the unchangeable past.
June 24, 2011
A life should be measured against itself and not against the lives of others. I find my contentment when I see progress, however small. One's life should only be measured against yesterday. Today I am stronger. Today I am wiser. Today I am more blessed. Today I play my music better.
To compare ones life against another is like comparing apples and oranges. My goals, my desires,and my contentment cannot be compared against anyone else's for we are all individuals and seek purpose in different ways and directions. On this planet you can always find someone who will have more or be more. Comparing against others will lead you down a road to discontentment and despair. Instead measure yourself against yourself and celebrate your progresses.
I like to think of myself as a Renaissance man. I may never be an expert in any one thing but God has blessed me so that I can be pretty good in a number of things. A study done by Anders Ericsson, a psychologist, found that whoever the prodigy or expert in whatever field, artist or sport etc., 10,000 hours (that is about three hours a day for ten years) was the average time that a person had to invest to obtain expert status. Since I spread my interests over a number of endeavors I realize and am content that there just is not enough time available to become expert in all. Nor am I inclined to want to be a one dimensional person that achieving a level of expertise in only one field requires from you. I find contentment at being fairly good at a number of things rather than the best in any one.
I measure my life by seeing my progress in skills and positive growth.
Click over to My Restorations to see what a great year 2010-11 has been for me by the grace and blessings of God! I pray that reading my story will give someone encouragement to tackle their own obstacles.
June 23, 2011
Being Thankful is one of the keys to living a happy life. I experienced that when I am counting blessings I can not be depressed or able to have a pity party where only I am invited.
Don't believe me? Conduct an experiment. The next time you are feeling down. Start with a list of blessings in your life. Start thanking God and anyone of whom you are reminded that brought a blessing into your life. Watch how fast your mood will shift.
About 50% of the time I tell people even strangers how much I appreciate the efforts they have gone to, on my behalf. Beginning with grocery sackers you can thank everyone who crosses your path. I am working on reminding myself to get that appreciation closer to 100%.
Today, I was reminded how I have never known just how much any one person needs encouragements just at any one time. But today I was on the receiving end. I was loading a magazine rack at a local restaurant ( a part time effort that I do to keep me grounded). And this lady working there said "Thank you". I grinned and asked sheepishly for what? She said just for filling that rack, I appreciate it and it provides a service for many.
Wow! Her words hit me just at the right time. I was into wondering if anyone appreciated me and her words were God sent at just a time that I needed it. I was so overcome, getting a couple of blocks away, I jotted down a note and returned to the restaurant to give it to her. (I wrote the note because I was so overcome with emotion that I did not think I would be able to speak) The note thanked her and told her how much of a difference she had made for me with her words of affirmation.
And I think about how often that I have thanked and told someone how much I appreciated them and never knew if I had made any difference for them that day.
I wanted this lady to know she had. I wanted her to be encouraged so she would keep passing on the joy and the smiles.
June 22, 2011
Our society has become addicted to pain killers. And as a result we are circumventing and often delaying the healing process. In our physical bodies pain is what directs our bodies own healing processes to know where the damage is and where healing is need. Taking pills and medications that mask and eliminate pain circumvents, and delays the bodies natural defenses from knowing where the damage is and where it needs to concentrate. God has created in us this wonder process, an immune system for our bodies to fight off attackers and to heal itself. Our bodies are provided with its own healing processes.
(Exposing the lie that pain can be healed)
Most often we treat the heart and mind (the spiritual body) the same way. Where there is pain we mask and self medicate it with all sorts of diversions (addictions, diversions, denial, hiding, etc.). The healing never comes. We can never know where the damage is if we mask the pain from ourselves and others. We need pain to tell us where our heart is hurting and where the attention needs to be placed for the healing to begin. Have patience, our mental hurts just like our physical hurts are a process and often takes time.
Allow your spiritual body time to make you whole again. But first identify where the damage has been done. Let the pain guide you to the hurt.
The only true and permanent pain killer in both body and spirit is healing. Pray for restoration to wholeness and for what God intended you to be. Pray for the knowledge to know how to go about it. Pray for those who can show you the way. And pray for God’s miracles of healing.
And when healing comes, REJOYCE, celebrate and praise and thank God.
June 21, 2011
You can’t live life in a cocoon. I had a very close friend who thinks that she can live life shutting out the negatives of the outside world. I at first admired this trait, and still agree it can be a great goal, but it can’t be carried to isolation. Shutting out the world is not living life to the fullest. It chokes off communication and shuts out people that may otherwise enrich your life.
I thought she was acting out of strength but later concluded she was acting more out of fears. She refuses to discuss things that make her confront evil or gives her any sort of discomfort. As a result she loses out on some self evaluation for improvement and an opportunity to help others.
Cocoon living leads to shallowness of personality, weakness in confronting conflict, and shutting off the process for developing an analytical mind and an opportunity to become stronger.
Communication is slowly choked off. Conversations become solely of a shallow nature. Myself I need to live life with mental stimulation, mental challenges and friends who help me analyze all sides to an issue.
When I see evil I cannot let it go unchallenged. I cannot live life in the void and in a vacuum. I strive to live life as an adventurer and the greatest part of an adventure is meeting and overcoming obstacles. With each victory comes more confidence and an increase in self worth.
Living in a cocoon will make you think you are safe until someone or something crushes the cocoon. A cocoon is the stage where a butterfly is the most vulnerable and totally defenseless. And blinded to seeing any danger coming.
And if you refuse to come out of your cocoon, you will never become the beautiful butterfly that God intended you to be.