This Year, Next Year, Your Choice

As 2015 has come to an end, 2016 is now under way. How did you end 2015? How are you starting 2016? The previous year, 2014, ended two months after the tragedy at Marysville-Pilchuck High School where I was a teacher. The year 2015 was a transforming year for me. If I followed what many believe then 2015 would have been a year of tragedy, negative stress, and great struggles based on the Pilchuck High School tragedy, and not a year of positive transformation. Now that the end of my transforming 2015 has come, what will 2016 be like? That is my choice.
Your ending and your beginning is your choice.
Choice may be the most important tool you and I possess. Choice gives us the power to choose the beginning, the middle, and the end. Now I will be the first one to admit that you and I will have circumstances out of our control thrown at us. So what can you choose to control? You and I can choose our attitude and way of being. We can choose how those circumstances land in life. You and I can take a negative ending and choose a strong, powerful start.
Maybe you have not learned it this way. You may be thinking that negative must equal negative and positive does not always equal positive. What if by using your power to choose you can choose a new way to believe?
New beliefs are possible.
We are not locked in to one way of believing and being. It’s not genetic – it’s not in your genes. Choice is a matter of being and believing, and you get to choose your being and beliefs.
2016 is a new year.
What’s possible if you choose to believe a new way,
to be a new way, and to choose a new beginning?
What's your choice

Miracle on Possibility Street

possibiltiyYou are out for a drive on Christmas morning and you decide to go exploring. While driving down a new street you have never been on you see your dream home. You throw on the breaks and come to a screeching stop. You cannot believe your eyes. This is it. The perfect house. Your perfect house. The color, the style, the windows, the doors, every detail is there exactly as you have imagined. Every detail of the house is your dream. The yard is landscaped and perfectly manicured. All of the roses and flowers are in full bloom as they should be. The grass is the greenest you have ever seen. Cut perfectly. You are so excited you pull over to the curb. Every sense in your being is alive and electrified.
Still in shock that you are looking at your dream you get out of the car. Kneeling at the front edge of the yard you run your fingers through the soft green grass. Never have you felt grass this soft. You stand up and walk toward the path that leads to the front door of your dream house. As you walk up to the path you notice something peculiar and come to a stop.
At the start of the path to the front door of your dream house is an old rusty gate with a sign that reads “Keep Gate Closed Do Not Enter.” You also notice that there is no fence left on either side of the gate. There is just this old gate and sign that stops you in your tracks and blocks the way. You are still thinking about this house. What the inside must be like? Does the backyard have the swimming pool and garden you have dreamed of? You can’t get there though because of the gate in your way.
To make it down the path you have a choice. You could turn around and walk away from your dream house thinking that the path was blocked and there is nothing you can do about it. You could stand there frozen in place staring at it in awe never being able to see how perfect this dream house is for you. You could try to open the old rusty gate and struggle with gate. You could decide to walk the gate but worry what people would think when they see walk past the old gate. Or you could easily step around the old rusty signed gate walking down the path to your dream house singing Deck the Halls, walk in the front door of your dream house and discover what’s under the Christmas Tree for you.
I have my dream. You have your dream. Consider that what is blocking the path has no more power than a lonely old rusty signed gate that reads “Keep Gate Closed Do Not Enter” that you are able to just step around. Consider that what is stopping you and I has no power than that which we each allow it to have.
Its Christmas morning on Possibility Street. What choice are you making? What’s under the Christmas Tree for you?

Take One More Step, You Deserve It

“My presentation did not come off today.”

“Where was I today?”

“Why am I not showing up?”

“Man, I did not feel like I was in the room.”

“I was not my best today.”

“Worsts phone call I have ever made.”

Ever hear yourself say something like that. Sure you have. We all do at some point but what do you with that statement later on? Some people are able to let it go. No effect on them at all. You are already shaking your head, no. You wish that were you. You hang on to it. Sweat it out some. Maybe dwell on it. Beat yourself up with it for added measure. In the end you make it mean you were wrong. You let it tarnish or wipe out all of the ground taken that got you this far.

Consider that whether it went right or wrong, that is only your perception filtered through a cloudy lens. Your interpretation, based on feelings. Even if someone told you it was the worst presentation they have ever seen, that was only their perception. You still walked in the room. You still did the best you could at that time. You stood there regardless of how you were feeling about it. Remember there is no such thing as a perfect day. Give yourself some credit. You deserve it.

You can look back at ground taken that got you to this place in time. Look back and see how far you have come to arrive at this place. No matter what today held that ground taken is good ground and cannot be taken away from you. When you make yourself wrong, you disqualify that ground. The universe conspired with you to claim it. There is no value in attempting to give it back. You cannot give it back. It is yours forever. Give yourself credit. You deserve it.

You followed a path and made many steps to come this far. On this path there were big steps, little steps, rough steps, smooth steps, even steps that tripped you up. Still you took the steps. Whatever occurred today was another step. Maybe not a smooth one but it was a step forward. Now what. Take another step. It’s not the size of the step, the strength of the step that counts. The step itself is what counts. Take that next step. Give yourself credit. You deserve it.

Our Easter Angel

Do you believe in angels? We do.

This occurred on Easter Sunday morning, 1994. I was the pastor of a small church in rural Missouri between Grain Valley and Oak Grove. As the tradition I was going to lead a Sunrise Service on the hillside behind the church followed by a church breakfast. This was also the time we were in the adoption process for our daughters who were 8 and 9. The girls could not stay overnight yet with us but they could come for day visits. They lived at a group foster home in Lamont, MO, near Warrensburg about an hour from our house.

Tammy and I had made the decision that that morning while I conducted the Sunrise Service that she and our son would make the 2-hour round trip to pick up the girls to spend Easter Sunday with us and be back in time for church. Tammy and our son left about 7:00 am just before the service started. All was fine on the way. They made it to the group home and picked up the girls who were totally excited about the Easter adventure with their future mom, dad and big brother. They were about half-way back on highway 50 when the minivan got the ominous sound of a flat tire. Tammy pulled over to change the flat. She and our son worked hard at it but could not get the lug nuts loose. Thankfully we still a CB radio in the van. She powered up the CB, keyed the mic, and called out “breaker 1-9 for roadside assistance.” Just as she did an east-bound 18-wheeler came over the rise in the highway. The driver’s eyes met Tammy’s eyes as she spoke on the radio. He never replied. He just went to the turn-around in the highway, looped around and came to the rescue. Tammy explained the situation. He assured her all would be ok and went to work changing the flat.

As a side note I was 30 miles away from Tammy and kids but at the exact time that Tammy got the flat I knew something happened. I also knew all would be well.

The truck driver did not say much. He just changed the flat, loaded the flat in the back of the van, and packed up the jack. When he was done Tammy offered him one of the breakfast sandwiches in the van. He politely turned it down. She apologized for not having any cash to offer him for his assistance. He said that was ok and headed back to his truck. While Tammy got everyone back in the van the truck pulled off. He would have to go down to the next turn around to loop back East, his original direction. Tammy was about to pull back onto the highway when the truck made his loop to head East. Their eyes met as he passed them on the opposite side of the highway. Tammy, thinking about this nice truck driver, then looked in her side-view mirror to watch the truck drive down the highway only there was no truck. It had vanished.

When Tammy and kids made it back to the church I walked up to her and asked what had happened. The event above is story she told me. We compared times on my weird feeling and the time of the flat. They were the same. She and I have never forgotten that Sunday morning. We never will. As I typed this out I still get the same chills and tears I got in 1994, 21 years ago.

Was the truck driver an angel? Tammy and I give a resounding yes! Do we believe in angels? Yes.

My First Attempt – Anything is Possible

I have several friends who write poetry. I have thought about trying it but never made the attempt. Well maybe I did back in high school for an English assignment that I faked my way through. So this morning while I was doing a Facebook post and attaching a sunrise picture I started thinking. I love sunrises and the start of the new day and as I work on reinventing myself, I am working on new things, new being, new me. With the those thoughts in mind I decided to go for it so out came my poem. What did the attempt cost me? Absolutely nothing. So what’s the purpose? Just to do something new. To try something outside my comfort zone. So then I did even more outside my comfort zone. I shared it. Now I am doing it again. Will I ever write another poem. It doesn’t even matter. I did and I am better for it. A question for you. When’s the last time you tried something new just to do it? What’s stopping you now? No one but you. Find something simple and go for it then sit back and enjoy the thrill and excitement. Now you are are different. You have changed. You are new.

A new sunrise
New beginning
New day
New way
New me

A new sunrise
New courage
New hope
New heart
New strength

A new sunrise
New potential
New possibility
New power
New passion

A new sunrise
New amazement
New voice
New laughter
New truth

A new sunrise
My journey
New sunrise

A Life is A Terrible Thing to Waste

To me this true story is the story of wasted lives. I used to know this couple, “Bill” and “Sally”. Bill and Sally were high school sweet hearts. Starts out romantic. Their dream was to get married, buy a house in town, and raise their children. Bill would go to work at the mill and Sally would take care of the house and the children. Sounds good. Everything happened just as they wanted it to. When the children were grown Sally even got a job at the local high school that she had attended as a student. They were both happy and fulfilled. Life was good.

Let’s fast forward about 30 years. Bill and Sally are still in the same house in the same town with Bill working at the same mill and Sally at the same high school. Both are about to retire. Bill is overweight with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Sally is a smoker, overweight, diabetic, and one failing kidney. Both of them are on multiple medications. For the past 8 years that I knew them they went on a vacation to the same resort at the same time each year. On holidays they did the same thing they had done all the previous years. And probably the saddest and scariest part to me is that they saw nothing wrong.

So what happened. They started out with dreams and goals. How did they end up like this?

First they had dreams and goals but they never discovered new dreams and goals. Bill and Sally met the first goals and stopped. Dreaming and goals are a continuous process. First you dream, then you re-dream, then you dream some more. Once the dreaming stops, life will stop, too, coming to a sad end.

Next they knew nothing different. This is probably the same thing their parents, neighbors, and friends did so that’s what they did. Dreams can break that cycle. Dreams make you different and set you a part. Just because everyone else did does not mean you have to do the same.

They became satisfied with life. Life was good and they were happy, successful. Satisfaction is the enemy of dreaming, of progress and change in life. Be happy about where you are and what you have attained but not satisfied. Dissatisfaction is what leads to growth, new dreams, new goal. Everyone needs a good dose of dissatisfaction in their life to get them going and keep them moving.

Life does not have to come to end. Life should never come to a sad slow decline. There is always more to life but we have to want it. We have to find it. We have to keep exploring. Stay alive and invigorated. You do not have to remain the same. There is always room to grow and have new adventures.

Ten Guides to Worthy Living

This morning I was going through some papers that belonged to my maternal grandfather who passed away at 86 in 1973. He was a farmer, teacher, Christian (Methodist) and Mason. He wrote many letters and poems and also read books, poetry, history, religion, philosophy. In an envelope this morning I found a note he typed out sometime in the 1960’s with “The Ten Guides to Worthy Living” that he attributes to Thomas Davidson, Scottish-American philosopher and lecturer who can be associated with the ethical movement. I cannot confirm that Davidson wrote them but knowing my grandfather he had a book and reference. Though the writing and wording may seem outdated I believe them to remain timely and valuable.

Ten Guides to Worthy Living

1. Rely upon your own energies, and do not wait for, or depend on other people.

2. Cling with all your might to your own highest ideals, and do not be led astray by such vulgar aims as wealth, position, popularity, Be yourself.

3. Never fret, repine, or envy. Do not make yourself unhappy by comparing your circumstances with those of more fortunate people, but make the most of the opportunities you have. Employ profitably every moment.

4. Associate with the noblest people you can find; read the best books; live with the mighty. But learn to be happy.

5. Do not believe that all greatness and heroism are in the past. Learn to discover new princes, prophets, heroes, and saints among the people about you. Be assured they are there.

6. Cultivate ideal friendships. Remember that heaven itself can be nothing but the intimacy of pure and noble souls.

7. If a thousand plans fail, be not disheartened. As long as your purposes are right, you have not failed.

8. Examine yourself every night and see whether you have progressed in knowledge, sympathy, and helpfulness during the day. Count every day a loss in which no progress has been made.

9. If you do wrong, say so, and make what atonement you can. That is true nobleness. Have on moral debts.

10. When in doubt how to act, ask yourself, “What does nobility command?” Be on good terms with yourself.