Reflect on These Messages to Ponder
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Grateful for Grandkids
The first step of transition
Have you ever wondered at what point in time we make the transition from the innocence of childhood to reality of being an adult? Some might say it is when we turn 21 years of age; others might argue that it is 18 years of age; still many would submit that adulthood is more of a physical process that occurs with the onset of puberty. My wife would offer that some people such as myself have never grown up in some aspects of our lives. All who have opinions on the matter could be brilliant advocates for their positions, but I offer a more simple answer to the beginning of the process of transition from the wonder of childhood to the cold reality of adulthood.
My daughter Dodi recently shared with me a conversation she had with my granddaughter Rachel that will forever be remembered by Rachel as a memorable day in her life.
Rachel and Dodi were sharing one of those rare “mother/daughter” moments of being alone in a household of five where the majority rests with the male gender. Rachel was speaking of her frustration with some of the “older kids” on the school bus (those of us who have ridden school buses can relate much of our early education to moments such as these with the “older kids”).
Rachel: “I’m just so mad at those kids. They are trying to tell me there is no such thing as Santa Claus and I tell them “is to”. They say that moms and dads hide the stuff in the closets and get up late at night and put the toys under the Christmas tree. I told them my mom and dad would never get up late at night. Why are they telling us this stuff, I’m right aren’t I mommy?”
At this point Dodi knew she was at that critical point where you decide whether truth and reality or fantasy will in the future prevail. Dodi spoke after a long pause and a couple of deep breaths: “Well, Rachel, do you want me to tell you?”
Rachel now has suddenly gone quiet and very thoughtful: “No, I don’t want you to tell me.” Now the quietness deepened and Rachel began to squirm in her chair. She cocked her head to one side and flipped her long blond hair in the way only a precocious eight year old who is very sure of herself could do. “I’ll just tell them tomorrow that they were wrong” she asserted with a conjured up air of authority. More silence ensued and finally Dodi quietly said again “Rachel, do you want me to tell you?”
Rachel didn’t answer but instead stared at the homework that lay in front of her that she was attempting to complete, only her pen didn’t move. Oh, if we could only have been witness to the multitude of deep and confusing thoughts that were running rampant in her little head. Finally after what seemed to Dodi like an eternity Rachel said, “They are telling the truth aren’t they? You never would have asked me twice if they weren’t telling the truth, I know you.” The noise of her two younger brothers who were playing upstairs faded into the background and only a deafening silence ensued. Attempting to give words of comfort, Dodi said, “Rachel, I would never lie to you”. Rachel didn’t raise her head but continued to stare at her papers. “Rachel, do you remember the indoor basketball game that Santa gave the boys last year? It took your daddy and me 4 hours in the middle of the night to put that together hoping all the time that your younger brothers wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night and wander around the house like they have a habit of doing. Yes Rachel, mommy and daddy are Santa Clause”. Rachel lifted her head and grinned, “You were really lucky that Austin didn’t catch you. You mean mommy that you and daddy gave me my bicycle last year and the other toys I got? Wow, you guys were really busy and that cost a lot of money.” At that point Dodi heaved a sigh of relief realizing that the path Rachel could have taken might have been one of distress but instead she found humor in her parents wandering around in a cloak of secrecy on Christmas Eve. Dodi said “Rachel, Grandma and Grandpa were Santa for your uncle Eric and me just like mommies and daddies have been for their children for a long time. Now don’t ruin it for your brothers. They still believe there is a Santa Clause and we want them to enjoy it just as you have for as long as they can don’t we?” Suddenly the realization came over Rachel that she knew something her brothers didn’t and she swelled with pride, assumed an air of mature superiority and said “You’re right mom; we want to keep our secret don’t we? We’ll just let the younger kids keep believing”.
Rachel and Dodi shared a few light moments together laughing about how they were going to keep the “secret” from her two younger brothers. Dodi related stories of her childhood, trying to catch Santa, leaving cookies, treats and one time even an anchovy pizza for Santa. Suddenly one of Rachel’s brothers hurdled himself down the stairs and arrived on the scene with a melee of activity. “It’s okay mom, I won’t say anything.” Rachel said and she winked at her mom the wink of a knowing mature eight year old, struggling to get one eye to close in a wink while keeping the other open. As she left with her brother to play, she paused at the foot of the stairs, turning slowly to Dodi and asked, “Is there an Easter bunny”?
Rachel will never be the same. She will now forever look at the world with a small sense of skepticism. But, as they say, that is just part of due process.
Spend some time with a child. Instead of expecting them to act like the little adults that fit your portrait of the world, see the world of marvel through their eyes. Treasure the small things in life whether you are with a toddler or an octogenarian. You never know when what you believe to be the reality of your world will be dispelled as a fantasy.
Be thankful that God gave us children to learn from.
Fall is my favorite time of the year. The foliage that lines the shores of the lake we live on takes on the vibrant hues of oranges, reds, yellows and browns. In the crisp mornings the vapors rise from the surface of the lake as urethral specters catching the rays of the sun and adding its colors to the pastoral scene. The 4th Sunday in October was rapidly approaching and I realized that the Indianapolis Colts had a home game and I would have to forgo the use of my tickets. So I informed my daughter and mentioned that my two grandchildren would use them. Herein lie a story and a valuable lesson.
My grandson Austin, who is 5 years old, is the consument Colts fan. He is incessantly asking if there are “kids” tickets available for the games. Some time ago we told Austin that he could only go when there were “kids” tickets available and that usually coincided with the times I would not be using mine. So when Austin discovered tickets were available, to say he was excited would be a gross understatement. The morning of the game, he has stealthy stole into my son-in-law and daughters bedroom and was asleep on the floor so as to make sure he didn’t get left behind. According to my daughter, early in the morning he awoke and sat up, clapped his hands shouted “Yea, it’s the Colts day” and promptly laid back down and fell fast asleep. He must have been having a very vivid dream.
So off to the game they went. Austin was dressed for the game, complete with white football pants, a blue Colts jersey, his tennis shoes and his trusty football helmet. He felt as though he could have stepped onto the field, and at several times volunteered to do so, to help his beloved Colts. (Austin is all a shade over 3 feet tall and a whopping 35 lbs.) As the game progressed, Austin asked for a new Colts jersey. My son-in-law, Brad, purchased the one of his choice, Edgerin James, the Colts 2nd year running back sensation. Austin already possessed jerseys of some of the other players. It happened to be a game when the Colts rose to the challenge and triumphed in the last few minutes over the Patriots (sorry Patriot fans). Edgerin James had an exceptional game and was instrumental in the victory. As Austin left the game he was adorned with his new Edgerin James jersey along with the other accouterments of his uniform. He rode on his father’s shoulders as they wove their way through the crowd and out the exits. Along the way, several other Colts fans would spot Austin, pat him on the back and say “way to go today Edgerin”. After this happened numerous times, Austin bent over and whispered into his fathers ear “Dad, they think I’m Edgerin James!!” Austin was both embarrassed and elated simultaneously at all of the recognition. He bubbled with enthusiasm all the way to the car. Upon leaving the parking lot, Austin, still overcome with excitement, kept saying “Mom, Dad, they really thought I was Edgerin James”. My daughter, Dodi, and Brad could barely contain themselves. Dodi turned to Austin and gently asked, “Austin, do you think you look like Edgerin James?” Austin shouted, “I must!” Dodi again gently asked, “Austin, what does Edgerin James look like?” Austin pondered the question for a moment and quietly said “I must look like him,” silence ensued, “but his skin is just a little browner than mine”. (Austin is blond with blue eyes). Upon which Dodi showed Austin a picture of Edgerin complete with dreadlocks. Austin looked at it and said, “Well, they thought I did” and beamed a big smile.
Where did the innocence go? How I long for the days of imagination when we could all be our heroes, languish in their triumphs and suffer through their defeats. I believe that the ability to imagine and envision resides deep with in each one of us. As we mature we envelop those abilities inside layers of experiences, which lead to biases and prejudice.
In a time when we listen to the rhetoric of the politicians, witness the sad commentary of our society with racial profiling, watch as the passion of hate fans the winds of tension in the middle east and listen with horror as the atrocities are still recounted in Serbia, I wonder where the innocence has gone. But we all know don’t we? It occurs to me that Austin hasn’t learned many prejudices yet. Maybe he won’t, but more than likely he will as he matures in our society.
If we could learn to peel off layers built up over the years maybe hate and prejudice would slowly melt away and we would see people for who they truly are and what they accomplish.
*Promote the qualities of people you know for who they are and what they stand for. Not, for the color of their skin, religious beliefs or ethnic background.
*Spend a couple of hours with a 2 year old and rediscover the magic that surrounds you.
*Be willing to dream.
Connecting The Dots
Recently I was invited to a feast any outdoors person would have fought to attend. We drooled over wild duck over wild rice with a white wine reduction; wild goose over rice with raspberry sauce; roasted wild turkey that oozed flavor and juices; deep fried salt water stripped bass breaded with ingredients so secret that the cook mixed them while hiding behind a bush; ham hocks and beans that had slowly simmered for hours to meld the flavors; garden fresh tomatoes, baked beans and slaw that were family old recipes. It was a perfect evening as we gathered on the deck under clear robin egg blue skies. There were just enough breezes to rustle the pines and oaks that surround the deck and keep every bug away.
Eight guys and some of their spouses joined together because of the love of the outdoors and particularly the love of tossing a ten inch woodchopper plug 75-100 feet into the waiting jaws of a hungry “Grande parvon”. Sharing the stories of the furious attacks upon the plug, the magnificent leaps by the parvon and its acrobatics, as it would dance across the water on its tail. With each tale the antics of the fisherman and the fish became stuff for legends. Memories and retold stories were just as humorous and vivid as the day they occurred. It was an evening that none that attended would ever let fade from memory or fail to relate what they learned to those who take the time to listen. Eight guys from totally different backgrounds that had nothing more in common than the love of a sport, a respect for the wild game they pursued and one individual.
Five days prior to the gathering I received a call from a dear friend and fishing buddy requesting that I “knock off work” and get together with him at his home for an unusual dinner. Now I enjoy playing hooky as much as the next person, but canceling half of my schedule, driving a 12 hour round trip for a 2 ½ hour meal and being at the office at 7:20AM the next morning took me back, but only for a “nano second”. My friend told me he wanted to “connect the dots”.
One morning not long ago he slid his legs out bed then crashed to the floor, paralyzed. He was taken to the hospital where he and his wife were told that his lung cancer had started to grow and it was only a matter of time before it won the battle. He decided he wanted to be in his own bed at home where he could share time with his family. No one is sure how long that time will be.
The repast that was shared that evening was not to lament but to laugh and celebrate. At first I thought, what a great opportunity to go and tell him and his wife I was thinking about them, praying for them and that Connie and I cared. What a gift I thought. Better than flowers, a card or another telephone call. As I hugged him, told him I loved him and he said he loved me I walked to my car. Then it hit me as I left I realized it was I who had received the gift! I am one of the dots! Sometimes what later seem so obvious aren’t in the moment they occur.
Who are the “dots” in your life? Can you connect them or are you still in the tomorrow, which never arrives.
Maintain the memories and never loose the addresses of those who helped you create them. You never know when that day will arrive when you will want to thank them for helping create those memories with you.
Look forward to loosing control of your circumstances and situations you find yourself in. It is amazing what you can learn.
Allow yourself to be the receiver and not the giver. Receiving a gift or acknowledgment isn’t that tough. Just learn how to say thank you from the heart.
Be a good dot!
Remember memories are connected by permanent ink, people aren’t. (1 Peter 5: 5-6)
Thanks for listening.
A new hatch
There must have been a monstrous mayfly hatch last evening. The mayflies are evident everywhere around our home. They are hanging on the railings of our deck, covering our windows and the siding on our house. A hatch of this magnitude appears to happen once or twice a year. They are here for a few days and then, except for the casings of their dead they disappear. During the evening calm they swarm about 15 to 25 feet off the ground in and around the trees that line our lakeside creating a kind of hum that is only broken by the sound of a fish rising to feast upon the unwary insect that happens to get to close to the surface of the water. Aside from having them settle on our heads and shoulders as we sit on the deck, it is quite a marvelous spectacle.
We are sitting on our side deck enjoying a hot cup of coffee and the sun as it rises in the east. There is a robin hopping around on the roof of our neighbor`s home chasing the insects. Now I don’t find that particularly unusual except for this one bird. He/she is not satisfied with catching one or two of the insects but as many as possible. In fact the robin`s beak is so full that it has started to drop more than it is able to catch. (The insects at this point are stationary targets). This has been going on for about five minutes and the bird appears neither undaunted nor it`s appetite filled. I wonder how long this particular robin will continue this quest.
As I observe this robin, I would like to ask it the question, “how much is enough?” The robin makes me wonder what its priorities are. Is it attempting to carry as many mayflies to it`s young as possible or is it just indulging itself?
How much is enough? Now that is the question that begs answering by each one of us. How do we determine when our cup is full? How do we know when we have put forth enough effort and it is time to move on? Each of us has established our own internal criteria of satisfaction and/or frustration.
How much is enough for you?
1. When you’re asked to serve on a committee or be involved with another organization how often do you say “no”? Where do you place your priorities? Is it satisfying your own self-esteem, spending time with your family or having free time to take care of yourself physically?
2.When your children have asked the same question for the 12th time, do you listen to the 13th, 14th and so forth? Do you lose your temper and admonish the child? How much time is necessary to meld a parent/child relationship that will last for a lifetime? When was the last time you told a child you were proud of them?
3. Your spouse has committed the same horrendous mistake. Do you lose your temper? How many times can you say, “I love you and I care about you” to your primary relationship? Tell your spouse you care!
4. How many times do you need to hear you are appreciated? How many times do you need to hear you are needed and loved? When was the last time you told an employee you appreciated them? How often do you call a friend and tell them you are thankful for their friendship?
It would sometimes appear that we proceed through our lives with a reckless abandon. There will always be tomorrow; I’ll get around to it then. I can handle one more thing and it will all work out. We aren’t always sure when to stop or when to go just one more step. Maybe the common barometer on determining how much is enough would be to examine “what is meaningful in our lives”? Then make a decision.
I have this great hat I picked up a few years ago. On the back it has “workaholic, 25hrs a day 8 days a week”. Now I have to tell you, when I bought it I was proud of it and wore it like a badge. But as I sit here and write this I wonder. Hmmmm, maybe I need to have a talk with that robin. I wonder how many of us can see our reflection in a bird.
Oh well, enough is enough!!!
Last evening Connie and I attended our local county fair. As we were sitting at one of the church food booths eating lunch, a man whom we had graduated from high school with came up to us and we renewed acquaintances. I noticed that the gentleman had a different countenance than the last time we spoke. He talked about his young son who was with him and what was going on in his life. We also reflected on classmates we had been in contact with and of those, who had passed away. We spoke about one classmate in particular that was undergoing a bout with depression. Then he began to speak about his daughter who had been tragically killed in a single car accident some two - three years previous. He said he didn`t feel he had ever been depressed and that several times medication had been recommended but he had disdained it. He said he just felt sad and would probably continue to be sad every day for the rest of his life. His statement caused me suddenly to think of the experiences of another good friend of mine.
Two years ago my friend was telling me of the problems he was having with his back. He told of how when he went to work and he bent over the operative chair he experienced pain in the middle of his back. The pain would not go away even with relatively strong analgesics. He sought continued medical care and was diagnosed with nerve damage in his back and underwent surgery. But he still received no relief. Finally he visited a physician who diagnosed him with inoperable lung cancer. It was a tragic blow. He underwent several bouts of treatment to reduce the size of the tumor, each uncomfortable and each causing several days of illness.
During these treatments my friend lifted himself above what was going on in his life with the support of family and focus. He, along with some other friends and myself, planned a fishing expedition to Brazil to fish for Peacock Bass. Whenever we would have a conversation, this expedition would end up being the topic. Even when things were really tough and we were trying to figure out how to handle his practice and patients our conversations would turn to the thrill of seeing a Peacock Bass furiously attack a top water plug and dance across the water on its tail when the hook was set.
Well, he went fishing eighteen months later. Not long ago, after having several good reports and returning to work, it was discovered that the tumor was in his spine. The doctors operated and removed several vertebrae placing metal and pins to hold his spinal column together and fusing many of the vertebrae in the upper back and neck. I spoke to him the day prior to his first of two eight hour plus surgeries. The last comment he made to me on that day was that he had his eight hundred dollar deposit down on our next trip to Brazil in November 2001. At the conversation following his first surgery, while still somewhat under the effects of the medications, he reminded me of the tremendous fishing we would have on our next trip.
Two different people, two totally different scenarios, two different outlooks one neither right nor the other wrong. Two people dealing with what is going on in their lives in ways that make them able to wake up in the morning and face another day. They are each choosing how to approach the dawn of the coming morning.
We each know stories such as these or have experienced the same pain of loss or dramatic uncertainty of the future ourselves. How do you deal with the situations that are placed in front of you that appear overwhelming? We may feel out of control, and we are to the extent we do not control what each day will bring. But we have learned or will learn how we will choose to deal with what that day brings.
1. As you approach each day, take stock of what blessings have been given you. Reflect on how quickly situations can change. Choose to be thankful.
2. Find someone you know who has experienced a change in their lives that has caused pain and/or uncertainty. Let them know you care.
3. Use experiences to learn and grow. Do not let experiences, good or bad, become your anchor.
I am thankful everyday that I awaken, can have my quiet time, reflect on the experiences of the past day and wonder at what the coming one will bring. To often I take for granted those around me and/or feel that I can control my situation. Every time I feel that way, I am quickly humbled when I truly look around at what is really happening to myself and to others I care about. I know one thing for certain and that is the seas will not always be smooth. (John 6:18-19)
To: DC. I look forward to the next time we "tee it up." I may out-drive you on the golf course. But I will never "measure up" to the distance you have come.
To: JS. Looking forward to "wetting a line and catching the Big One."
To: Any and all that are experiencing loss, healing or uncertainty.
Faith & Courage!
How To Cook A Frog
It is 6 AM on a Sunday morning and I have just reviewed a lesson I will be teaching this morning. The morning is beautiful and the sun is just coming over the trees that line the lake we live on. The colors are so vibrant in the mornings and evenings. I am a very early riser and particularly like the peacefulness and quiet times of the early morning.
There are about 25 geese swimming past my pier and deck leaving a long trail in the calm water as they go about their daily business. I wonder, what is important to the goose? Does he worry about what will happen the rest of the day? Probably not!
The following is part of my morning reading:
There was a story told about to me when I was young about the frog in the kettle. It is said that if you drop a frog in a kettle of boiling water, it will hop out and jump away. However, if you put the same frog in a kettle with the water at room temperature, he will stay in the water. If you then begin to heat up the water, the frog will stay in the kettle and not notice the slow increase in temperature. The frog will actually boil to death and never jump out of the pot. (Bill Hybels)
I feel I could write an entire treatise on this small paragraph. This slow process of death has been experienced by businesses, friendships, and marriages. Slowly as the temperature rises, the standards change, commitments erode, communication wanes and before we know it, the water is boiling!
Each of us may have experienced this process in some way though we may have been oblivious to it until sadly, it is to late. We have ignored the signs in our business because we were as one put it “fat, dumb, and happy”. We have failed to maintain relationships with friends because we are so busy and we adopt the philosophy that we will “get around to it”. We have been a part of a marriage where we forget that maintaining this type of relationship is “work” or so under the control of the incessant drive to get our own way and to control others that we wake up one day and we are living with a stranger.
Thank goodness we are not frogs or geese. We have the ability to abstract think and recognize a situation that is developing. We have all the tools necessary to redirect our courses and recognize the water is “getting hot” or the “relationship is getting cold”. I guess in some instances it wouldn’t hurt to turn up the temperature a little bit.
1. Take stock of your business. How are you doing in relation to the market place that you are in? Are you growing and changing as the market changes? Have you set aside the time to create a business plan and if you have is it actively reviewed and implemented or is it in a drawer never visited? Constant change is occurring all around us, keep up! Are you taking the time to keep actively involved with your employees and clients or are they the strangers who just show up every day? Don’t forget who is important! 2. I have been told each of us only has the opportunity to make a few good friends but a lot of acquaintances. Don’t be so busy that you don`t take the time to nourish those relationships. I like Harvey McKay’s philosophy of maintaining a Rolodex that is actively managed. Who do you need to call or write this week? 3. How is your primary relationship? Primary relationships take work and effort. They just don’t happen. They can go stale as a loaf of bread if they are not attended to. We all have a strong drive to be right and get our own way. Ask the question, “What do you want or need?” “How am I doing?” Learn the art of submission. It won’t hurt and you don’t have to like it at first but it will pay you both dividends in the end. (For a lesson you might look at 1 Peter 3:1-7)
As I write this, I think I will do an article on each of these subjects. Surely in all of our lives there is much to learn from one another and much to share. We each have much to be thankful for. Don’t be the frog!!!!
I want to thank my nephew, Ryan Smith, for introducing me to a thought process by another author who reflects on his experiences and readings and shares them. I will be sharing from time to time reflections on daily experiences or readings that I feel would stimulate that same reflective process in you. I hope you enjoy this and I always appreciate you input!