Kindness Begins With Me…

A man struggles to change his tire by the side of the road. The traffic is speeding by, wrapped up in their own lives and oblivious to the danger this man is in. He is parked on the right shoulder but he is kneeling on the rear drivers side of his vehicle with oncoming traffic changing lanes at the last second, nearly colliding with him. He is afraid for his life. 

As the traffic zoomz past him he hesitantly starts to work. The whole time his eyes are focused on the traffic.  Then, just when he’s about to give up, a tow truck pulls up and blocks him from the dangerous traffic.

The wrecker driver has his emergency beacons on and the traffic is changing lanes to avoid the big truck. The driver jumps out and asks if the man could use some help. 

“I can’t pay you.” came the reply. “I’m thinking I can get this but thanks anyway.”

The wrecker driver explains that he is on his own time and that there will be no charge. The man is just concerned because this is a dangerous section of road and he wants to help keep people safe. 

Together they change the tire. The man tries to give the wrecker driver money but he refuses it as he says “What good is service if I earn money for doing it?”

They shake hands and the man, back in his car, safely resumes his journey home.

That makes us ponder the human spirit. What exactly causes somebody to go out of their way, risk their own life and even spend their own time and money to help a person in need?

What inspires people to do good? 

What makes us go out of our way to assist others? 

Why would we get up at 4:30 in the morning to pick a friend up and take them to work? Or better yet,  why would you stay with someone at the doctor’s appointment? Don’t you have better things you could be doing?

Deep down inside of each and everyone of us there is a natural instinct for goodness. A man passes another man on the street and they both smile at each other. They don’t know one another they just smile to be friendly. This happens on a daily occurrence worldwide over and over again. Yet nobody is put out or worse off because they took 5 seconds to smile at another person.

Studies have concluded that taking those 5 Seconds to smile at another individual exercises muscles in your face that contribute to your youthful look and that there is a chemical reaction inside of your brain that actually cheers you up. A smile is an action that even deaf people understand. A smile is the same in any language.

So where do we get this from? 

Most say that it comes from the way we were raised. If our parents are kind, giving, loving and all around good neighbors then we, as children, picked up on those traits. We truly are taught by example. And whether we want to believe it or not, these natural traits of kindness, taught to us by example, actually mold us into the people we are when we’re older.

Do you hold the door open for others? Do you let people in front of you at the grocery store? Do you let somebody go ahead of you at a four-way stop even though you clearly had the right away? These are examples of kind Acts that do not take anything away from your day and yet sometimes, they can mean a lot to the people who we serve. These breif acts of kindness originate from your heart, your conscious, your inner goodness. 

You can try to ignore these feelings but they are instinctual. They literally have been woven into your DNA and the fabric that is your human spirit.

Thaddeus Golas, author of ‘A Lazy Man’s Guide To Enlightenment’ said, “All your words and actions define the world you want to live in.” I think this is worth reading again… “All your words and actions define the world you want to live in.”

I do believe this is true. I definitely want to live in a world where my actions make a difference in people’s lives. I want to live in a world where a man can walk past an open garage and have absolutely no desire to walk in and pick stuff up and steal it. I want to live in the world where a woman can come out of her job late at night and safely make it to her car without a fear of being molested. 

I would love to live in a place where Neighbors actually got together and had conversations and the whole neighborhood new each other and actually liked each other. Where disputes like an apple tree growing over the fence could be handled civilly without lawsuits. No more drive by shootings, no more muggings, no more rape, no more home invasions oh, oh what a Utopia that would be.

Universities for years have studied the effects of certain things on the brain. Many scientists have taken plants and in isolated rooms have exposed them to various types of music, language, and climate to see how they are affected by these different things. The interesting thing in these studies is that anytime a person or scientist would go into these rooms with these plants and let’s say scream at the top of their lungs for a sustained moment or they would yell obscenities over and over again to these poor plants. The plants responded with little to no growth or they had reduced foliage. 

Another interesting aspect of this study was that the scientists found that if they went in to this greenhouse and sang beautiful music or praised the plants or even caressed them with a little human interaction that the growth was up to 50% more and the health of the soil was significantly different. Now I realize these are just plants but I do believe that a little bit of kindness can do miracles.

Franklin Roosevelt said, “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not need to be cruel to be tough.”

President Ronald Reagan was one of these types of men. He learned early on that he could make great changes to Taxation and various other government policies that would greatly affect Commerce and the American people. 

He learned that he could be tough and stand up against those things that were, in his mind, wrong. At first, this did not make him popular at all. But it was his kind words and his Resolute determination that provided the subsidence in which he was able to accomplish his goals and his tasks. He didn’t have to do name-calling or be mean and belittling to others in order to get what he wanted. He learned to allow people to laugh at themselves and he found that kindness, respect, and the love of other cultures and respect of traditions helped him immensely to further his desires of change. 

He brought goodness wherever he went and he is a great example To What We As Americans or as human beings should do.

I have another quote that I think is quite interesting

“One of the most difficult things to give away is kindness… It usually comes back to you.” Anonymous

Have you ever heard of karma? Well she’s very real. And she can be cruel. There have been many times in history where someone we know has done something that has come back to bite them in the booty.

How about a little experiment? In the coming weeks or days take some time to anonymously do something for someone else. Bring a co-worker a donut and leave a note on top of it that says, “Just wanted to let you know you were appreciated.” Don’t sign it! That would defeat the purpose. You are trying to show kindness anonymously.

Sometimes doing an act of kindness does not require you to be praised in return. I think a lot of people have a misconception about this.

Service to your fellow man and acts of kindness can be done anonymously. In fact, I do believe that’s the best way to do kind Acts.

The Bible teaches us, “When you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are serving God.” 

Do not get caught up in the desire for payment when you do a kind thing. I promise, your reward will come and you do not need to be recognized for what you have done.

I think it’s very much like integrity. Having integrity means doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. I do believe that kind act and Service Act are often best done when nobody knows it was you that did it.

You come out to go to work and you look across the street and noticed that your neighbor’s garbage can is tipped over. So, seeing that it is empty, you decide to take it back up  their driveway so it’s off the street. There may be a neighbor or two who look out their window and see you doing this but they don’t ever say anything to you and that’s okay. You may mow the lawn and realize that your neighbor’s lawn hasn’t been mowed yet and so you know the neighbor’s lawn while they’re at work. They never have to say anything to you and you never have to say anything to them. It was a kind act and I promise there were people noticed.

Often times we get caught up in instant gratification. The world has been kind enough to create conveniences that feed our desires to be satisfied immediately. But in the case of kindness one never needs instant gratification because I promise, the changes that will happen around you will be far greater than any personal recognition that would come to you.

At this point, there very well could be a few of you or wondering exactly what you can do. Let’s address this.

You could do something nice for somebody in your own home or sacrifice some of your time to visit an older person in your neighborhood Who maybe doesn’t get visited very often by their children. I think it’s fun to go into the veterans hall at my local VFW and speak to the vets about their lives and some of the stories that they’ve experienced. You would be surprised at how much a person’s face lights up when you actually show interest in them. 

I do believe the world could use a lot more kindness like this. 

Well there you have it. Kindness begins with me. Why do I say it that way? Well I think it’s obvious that it’s true. 

Nobody is going to require you to do any of this but I guarantee you that if you start being kind you will notice that it will spread and truly one person can make a difference. It doesn’t matter if it’s in your own home, in school, at work, while driving, or any place you deem necessary. Kindness, like truth, is a respecter of no individual. It is not prejudiced, selective or picky in any way shape or form. Kindness fits everyone. It is literally one-size-fits-all. 

Now it is time for you to apply these things that you have learned. I thank you for reading this and as always I welcome your thoughts. Goforth and show kindness to all mankind no matter what their race, their nationality, their preferences, or their religion. Just exhort kindness and I promise you will see results.

I thank you for your time

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“Why Don’t you Enlighten Me.”

Said no husband ever…

I have been married for over 28 years and when I was first married I was full of bravado and obnoxious attitude. I felt like I was the man in charge. I was and always would be the “man” of the house. I would be the one and only to make the final decisions in our marriage. My arrogance was off the charts. To call me a jerk would have been an understatement. Oh, I had my loving moments but, I was not in a good place and I had a big chip on my shoulder. My wife knew that we were meant to be together and she saw the diamond under the ugly lump of coal. If she hadn’t been like that, I would have lost her long ago.

So what did we do different to “keep” our marriage together and returning to good places? Well, I guess you could say we became friends.

Let’s stop here and address the elephant in the room. Everyone wants to know if I was such a jerk then just working on becoming friends would not have been enough to stop her from walking out. What was my hook in her to keep her around? Was she just someone who loved to be around bad people? Did she have a low self-esteem? Did she owe the government a ton of money and she was forced to stay with me? What was the deal. Well, I think it’s quite simple. My wife is an alien…

Truthfully,  I think it boils down to two words. Love and Selflessness. It is super easy to be selfish and want everything for you but when you put someone else first, that makes a difference.

She started doing small things for me like notes in my lunch box. Good food when I got home from work. Extra kisses goodnight, unconditional love and selflessly serving my needs and my household needs. She did the laundry and folded it before I got home. She worked long hours with the kids and with me to make sure we all were well. She insisted we go to church and say our prayers. This was a big part in changing our dynamic in the home.

I was religious but not to the extreme that she wanted me to be. I knew what I should do but I was having fun being bad. She would get frustrated but then would show me what it meant to be Christlike and love someone.

You know, when you get married all you can think about is the wedding night. At least that’s what I did. I was so anxious to get our lives started that I wasn’t thinking logically about anything. I was just so happy that I didn’t have to go home without her anymore. I can’t even explain how that feels. Saying goodnight was torture for me. I had fallen for her hard. Then one Saturday morning she woke up acting weird. She said, “I have to pee!” When she came out she was glowing and my life was about to change.

“Well, how the hell did that happen? I thought you were on the pill! I’m not ready to be a dad! I had a lousy example of being a dad! What do I know about this?”

My wife was a trooper. She stood there and listened to me complain and then she said the one thing that shut me right up.

She said, “We have created something from our love and if you don’t want to be a part of that, let me know right now.”

Humble pie anyone?

When baby comes along, you are now put in a situation where you are no longer dating but you are now known as mommy and daddy. You go from long nights of love to helping her roll over because her tummy is sore from the pregnancy. You stop the showers together and just hold hands in the doctor’s office as you hear the heartbeat for the first time. One of the most amazing sounds in all of the world. The sound of another human being inside of your wife.

Now we are three and baby takes a lot of time away from us. Thanks to my in-laws for the times they baby sat so we could go out.

Sleepless nights, smelling bad, red eyes, and no money. No, you’re not a homeless drunk, you’re a family with a baby. So how do you find the time to become friends?

No matter what you do in your relationship you must continue dating. You thought she was beautiful, sexy, wonderful, funny and exactly what you wanted in your life. You couldn’t get her out of your mind and you made yourself sick before you asked for her hand. It is this attitude and this drive that must carry you through the smelly diapers and long days at work. It is this love that keeps you taking your sweetheart out on dates.

I remember one night I got home and the house was trashed. The kids were dirty and my wife had a fever. She wasn’t showered and she basically looked like death had kicked her in the teeth. We had four children under the age of four. We had heard how hard it was to go to three kids so we had twins and went right on to four.

As I walked into the house and my wife saw me she started to cry. She was beat and I could tell it was time to roll up my sleeves and get to work. Yes, I was tired but I had stuff to do. I sent my wife off to take a shower and I started working on getting the kids to bed. Luckily, I worked quick and got them all bathed and dressed before mom was ready to climb in the shower. She elected to finish the dishes she was doing. (I tried to stop her)

I put the kids down and gave them a story to send them on their way to dream land. We sang a few songs together and said our prayers and then they had to give me nine hundred kisses before we finally said goodnight. I don’t care what anyone says about how hard it was during that time… I miss those kisses from those little ones.

The wife stepped out of the shower and looked at me with that “You in the mood” look. I was watching a little bit of TV and smiled really big. I said, “Hang on babe, let me brush my teeth and I’ll join you.” She was out cold by the time I came to bed. five minutes top. Remember what I said about life changing and those moments together? That was life with the little ones.

We now have seven children and our baby is almost eighteen. We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs but we have always found a way to say sorry and kiss to make it all better. In fact, tonight I was asked to help with dinner and so, while I was peeling potatoes, she lunged at me and planted a big wet kiss on me… I loved it.

So, let me enlighten those who are young and facing being newlyweds. If you want to have a successful marriage then you must get out of your own way so do these things.

  1. Become friends before you are lovers
  2. Have a budget for time and money
  3. Go out on a date
  4. Laugh a lot
  5. Go on a date
  6. Laugh some more.

Look, I could make a detailed list of what I did to become a man who has been married for 28 years but honestly, the journey and the struggle were so worth it that I would hate to deprive you of the fun I had getting to this point in my life. You are able to think for yourself. Get off your phone and communicate with your wife. Do not waste all those hours you have together by selfishly indulging in sports or Facebook. Find things you both like and then do them together.

I now have a very best friend who is also one sexy lady. I can’t imagine my life without her. I wish all of you success as you strive to be selfless and love unconditionally. Laugh and have fun on this journey you decided to take together and one last piece of advice…

DON’T GIVE UP! FIGHT FOR HER! LOVE WILL WIN!

via Daily Prompt: Enlighten

Child, boy, man: Growth and Avoiding a Superficial Character

My family was your typical family full of it’s share of problems. We didn’t feel rich or poor we just struggled along like  normal people. We had many chances to be taught lessons but the biggest ones were manners and honesty. 

My folks refused to have kids grow up not having manners and respect. They worked very hard to instill in us the value of hard work and integrity. At a very early age we had chores and errands to do. With my mom, there was always work to do.

My father was a very hard worker and expected his children to be like him. He built our first house and our second. There was nothing superficial about my father and he was going to make me a man even if it killed me.

As a young man, it quickly become apparent that my parents were trying to mold me into a somewhat decent human being. They had many opportunities to teach me seeing that I was in trouble more often than not. Gentle persuasion at the end of a paddle or belt was typically the result of one of my choices gone wrong.

I chuckle about most of these stories now and at the time I didn’t see the lessons, only the punishment.

I remember a few lessons that required the loss of a summer as I worked to pay back my father for costing him money as he reimbursed others for wrongs I had committed. Broken windows and ruined paint jobs are two such lessons that turned out to be very costly to me.

Time passed quickly and the city around us grew faster than I did. My father hated the congestion and limited space. It wasn’t long before they decided a change was necessary.

We moved to the other side of the valley and started ourselves a small farm, my father decided it was time for me to be the “man” of the house and take care of us. It was up to me to see if we would be eating or not. 

He pushed me very hard to learn about chickens and the husbandry of cattle. He showed me how to create rows in a garden for the best way to allow water to flow so all the plants could be watered evenly.

I was up at the crack of dawn and sometimes would be watering fields with a flashlight in my hand. While most teenagers were spending a ton of time sleeping in and causing difficulties to their parents I was working. I was too busy and tired to go out with friends but I still found the time to get into trouble, 

On one such day, my father used my bad choice to teach me a valuable lesson.

Our neighbor behind us came over to talk to my dad. I was 14 and full of mischief but this man wanted to hire me to take care of his farm for two weeks while they went to visit family on the East coast. He said he’d be fair in my wage and said that he had total faith in my ability to do the job. My dad agreed and said I would come over everyday for the next two weeks to learn the system from this farmer until he left. The farmer felt that was a great idea.

So, every morning I jumped up and did my own chores and then headed over to this other farm and helped with his chores. To say I was tired was an understatement.

Soon the day came and the farmer drove off with his family, trusting this fourteen year old kid to watch over the way he fed his family. Things were going well after one week of working on the farm and I felt good that I had learned how to take care of this small ranch. The pigs stunk and were as grumpy as any I’d ever seen but they were well fed on my moms scraps that she said I could collect and the meal that the farmer provided for them. Their water was always dirty and on more than one occasion I got dumped on my butt by a darn pig pushing for a spot at the trough.

On that next Monday, I was done with the chores and I was walking around the house looking at the grass and flowers and I noticed a window open by the back of the house. I had never been inside this mans home and I’d known him for a few years. I started to get curious about just what they had in their home.

I used an old barrel to get myself up high enough to get my leg inside and the rest was easy. I slid in no problem and then I was free to look around. I figured I’d only be in the home for a minute or two. I walked slowly from room to room imagining how they lived. I never opened a single drawer nor did I touch anything. I noticed some very nice paintings on the wall and some great photos of family that must have been grandparents. I was walking towards the window to leave when I heard my dads voice calling my name. I froze.

He walked around the farm noticing that I had completed my chores. He noticed that I also was no where to be found. He approached the house and stood outside looking at the house. I saw the recognition in his eyes and noticed disappointment setting in. He then caught a glimpse of the window and the barrel left little to the imagination.

He stood there for about ten minutes as I sat frozen in the house. I knew he knew and I had no idea what to do or say. Suddenly, he called my name in a very demanding voice. He waited… I felt a fear and shame that I’d never felt before. He called me again and this time added, “Don’t make me come in there!” I pushed the window open and our eyes met.

“Don’t you dare crawl out that window!” He said very calmly. This tone in his voice confused me. I expected a line of cuss words intermingled with my name.

He had me close and lock the window and then he had me come out the door. I was to lock the door behind me and then we walked the half a mile back home. My father didn’t say one word to me. When we got home, my dad sent me to my room and I heard him relate to my mother the story. I closed my door and laid on my bed. I knew I was in trouble but I never really understood the lesson I was about to experience until I was much older.

My mother is the one who talked to me first. She said Dad was  to upset to speak. She talked about reputations and respect. She said I would need to tell the farmers family what I had done. She asked if I stole anything and when I told her I’d touched nothing she shook her head and asked  mywhat possessed me to go in that house. I had no answer.

My father was an expert at the silent game. He went with me every day to watch over me as I worked. Unless it was absolutely necessary, he wouldn’t say a word to me. Finally the week ended and the farmer came home. 

It wasn’t long after that they showed up at the house to settle my pay for the time.

Dad greeted him and then asked me if I had anything to confess or say. I then related what I had done and told the farmer how sorry I was. I said that since I’d broken his trust, I could not, in good faith, accept his money.

My dad and him went off by themselves. I couldn’t hear what was being said but I could see the farmer pleading with my father. They shook hands, the farmer shouted a thanks in my direction and they parted. Soon, the judge, jury and executioner was standing back in front of me.

“Well, I guess your explanation and the fact that you were completely uncomfortable has satisfied this man.” My father said as he looked sternly at me. “He says his hogs have never looked better. Farm was cleaner than when he left and He also said he hadn’t realized that the window had been left open. He was really surprised the cats hadn’t got in and was glad you found it open. He was grateful to you for shutting the window. His house was clean because the cats were kept out.”

He continued, “The farmer said you earned this money fare and Square and I feel that you have paid your price.” He paused and sat down motioning me to join him.

“The reason I became so frustrated with you is that you represent our family. When we work we are making a verbal agreement to the employer. We promise that we will give all we have to be the best we can be. If we do nothing more than all we can then we have become successful. I need you to always remember that when we die, we will only have one thing to show on our tombstone and that’s our names. Our name and reputations mean everything and are worth more than gold.”

That day my father taught me that our last name is what defines us. It’s not the cars we drive or the house we live in that makes us a man. It’s not what job we have, how many promotions we achieve or what our title is. All that maters is that we strive to be the best we can be. If we are superficial and fake then people will take notice and our reputations will be tainted. 

To be an honorable, hard working person and to not be fake or superficial was the best lesson I had as I journeyed from child to boy to man.

Thanks Dad.
 

via daily Prompt: Superficial

Reactions, Regrets, Reality Response and Respect

God is not in the event. He is in the response to the event

I may have told the story a time or two but in this situation I do believe that it’s worth repeating. When I was about 5 or 6 years old we had a neighbor who lived up the street from us his name was Eddie Pond. Mr. Pond was just an average neighbor who would come over and help around our house every once in a while with my dad or visit my mom. They were good friends. One day, as I was playing in the yard and our neighbor was getting ready to go home I turned to him and I said, “Bye Eddie spegheti!” 

The neighbor laughed it off and went on his way. My mother tried to correct my behavior but the neighbor insisted that it was fine and not o be too hard on the boy. Upon entering our home my mother proceeded to explain to me how inappropriate it was for me to say that. As the course of events were laid out I was then told, in no uncertain terms, that it was time for me to walk my bottom back up to his home, knock on the door and apologize for my actions.

I was scared to death. But walk is exactly what I did. Right up the street to his house. As I approached his door, I could feel my stomach binding up in knots. My knees started to shake and my Palms got all sweaty and it must have taken me a good 20 minutes to get up the courage to knock on the door. Finally, I knocked.

The neighbor opened up the door and smiled at me and asked me what I wanted. I shuffled and fiddled around with my feet and rocked back and forth until I finally looked up and with tears welling up in my eyes I apologize for the name I had called him. Of course this made his day and he gave me a huge hug. We became instant friends. 

This is one way that my father and mother taught me respect of human beings. No matter how different they looked or how strange their name was or who they were that was not the point. The way we should treat somebody is the way we would like to be treated. Respect goes both ways and in order for us to be respected we must first be a respectful kind of person.

I am truly grateful for my father and my mother teaching me about respect and the realities of life. I’m sure there’s more lessons that I could have learned in the short 18 years I had with my father but as a teenager I was quite stubborn and really didn’t want to listen to what that old man had to say. As I have matured I have looked back on those lessons and have come to find great wisdom and knowledge in the things that my father and mother taught me. I have been able to use that in response to situations that have happened in my life. God is not in the event but in the response.

Perhaps I can see it this way to help you understand a little bit more.

I lost my dad when I was 18 years old. He died of alcoholism. I was so frustrated at the situation that I wasn’t able to think clearly. I found myself angry with God, angry with my dad, angry with manufacturers of alcohol, angry with my boss for not understanding, and with my mom for not doing anything about it and a whole bunch of other people. And I was frustrated with myself because I was going down the same path. I wouldn’t recognize that was part of my anger until many years later. 

I was trying my best to cope and accept that he was gone. In the process of trying to find where I fit I ended up making a bad choice. After the services in the church house we drove about 45 minutes to the cemetery. I was having a hard time with this Funeral stuff and my friends were trying to help but on the drive to the cemetery I decided it would be a good time to get stoned. 

 Was I hurt and distraught yes but I do not feel that I should have done what I did because I lost sense of reality and I behaved in a manner that was highly inappropriate. I chose to blame God.

Remember, God is not in the event. He is in the response to the event…

I acted irrationally and like a disrespectful little brat who had absolutely no control of himself. Here I was now the man of the house and I was acting more like somebody who needed their diaper changed. I blamed everybody but myself and it wasn’t until about a month ago that I had one of my relatives point out to me just how bad I behaved and it was very hard to listen to that description of my inappropriate behavior. But I came to the realization that I needed to respond differently and now I have huge regrets of that day.

I really wonder about the people of today and if they really understand how good they have it. Even if you’re dirt poor and living paycheck-to-paycheck you still come in at night and can sit down in front of the television to entertain yourself. Most human beings on the American continent have the ability to pay for their cell phones and other things of luxury that most poor people in other countries would never even dream of having. But I digress.

Stephen R. Covey said, “Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.” 

Just because you are poor does not mean you have to dress like you are poor. Just because you have circumstances that are beyond your control doesn’t mean you need to lose hope. One Day at a Time, One Foot In Front of the other, step by step you shall be successful if you just continue to believe that you will be successful. 

Success is not a lover of people. It cares not whether you are black, white, green or purple. It has no preference as to whether you are fat or thin, tall or short, female or male.

If you continue to speak negatively about your situation then all you will have is negative thoughts to entertain your ideas. But, if you strive to find positive emotions and Happy Times by counting the good things in your life, then and only then, will you be able to be successful.

Lastly, this thought: 

Leadership is a position not a rank. That is a very profound statement and a lot of people could do very well in learning more about this particular statement. 

When a father and mother work together as a team there is success in the home but if the father or the mother feel that one is superior than the other, then, there shall be no success in the home. 

When people feel protected, they tend to be more productive and cooperative. The same goes for your spouse and for your children. 

Shout out to Simon Sinek (@simonsinek ) on Twitter…Author and motivational speaker who said,

“We call them leaders because they go first. We call them leaders because they take the risks before anyone else does. We call them leaders because they are willing to make the sacrifices so their people may be safe and their people may gain. And When leaders do this the natural response is that the people will sacrifice for their leaders.”

So once again I explained that God is not in the event for in that we have our own agency and are able to make our own choices and our own decisions. But God is most definitely in the response. How we Act whether we are a leader or a worker, a husband or a wife, a Republican or a Democrat, our response to the trials and tests that are placed before us will show us what manner of men we have become. It will let us know if we have learned about respect, response, reactions, reality and regrets. We are the only ones who can change those things about us that are bad. We are the ones who have to have the determination in order to make the weight loss be permanent. We are the ones who have to get the second job in order to have enough money to pay our bills. We are the one who has to take our health into our own hands and quit smoking or drinking in order to feel better. Stop wondering who’s going to give you something for free. No one’s going to do it for us it is up to us to respond and I promise that if you include God in your goals your journey will be a lot easier. 

Thanks for reading my blog and as always I welcome your thoughts.

Jeff

We Must Stand for Something or We Will Fall for Everything

Just a thought I had today as I ponder the state of our world and more importantly, our country. I know this is long but I do not apologize. These are thoughts that are pressing on my mind. I need to share them and if only one person finds help and comfort in my words, then I have done good.
We are living in a rough time. Many are trying to persuade us to change the way we feel, believe, act and love. Many are justifying their actions by telling us to have tolerance, compassion, acceptance. But in the end, they are asking us to go against what we know to be truth. Wickedness never was happiness…this is as true a statement today as it was many years ago.
Take a look at this…. Ross Douthat, writing for the “Gay Conservatism and Straight Liberation,” in the New York Times, June 28, 2015, Sunday Review section said, “Unfortunately I see little evidence that people are actually happier in the emerging dispensation, or that their children are better off, or that the cause of social justice is well-served, or that declining marriage rates and thinning family trees … promise anything save greater loneliness for the majority, and stagnation overall.”
I find this fascinating that this man, who is a preponing voice in the LGBT community, sees little evidence of greater happiness now that laws are being changed and supposed tolerance is being legislated.
I have found this advice to be true more often than not. It comes from President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (You do not have to be a member of this church in order to understand the value in his words.)
“There are … so many kinds of voices in the world.” We are surrounded by persuasive voices, beguiling voices, belittling voices, sophisticated voices, and confusing voices. I might add that these are loud voices. I admonish you to turn the volume down and to be influenced instead by that still, small voice which will guide you to safety.
Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. The scriptures tell us that the adversary is “the founder of all these things.” We know that he is “the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men.”
I plead with you to avoid anything that will deprive you of your happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come. With his deceptions and lies, the adversary will lead you down a slippery slope to your destruction if you allow him to do so. You will likely be on that slippery slope before you even realize that there is no way to stop. You have heard the messages of the adversary. He cunningly calls: Just this once won’t matter; everyone is doing it; don’t be old-fashioned; times have changed; it can’t hurt anyone; your life is yours to live. The adversary knows us, and he knows the temptations which will be difficult for us to ignore. How vital it is that we exercise constant vigilance in order to avoid giving in to such lies and temptations.
Great courage will be required as we remain faithful and true amid the ever-increasing pressures and insidious influences with which we are surrounded and which distort the truth, tear down the good and the decent, and attempt to substitute the man-made philosophies of the world. If the commandments had been written by man, then to change them by inclination or legislation or by any other means would be the prerogative of man. The commandments, however, were God-given. Using our agency, we can set them aside. We cannot, however, change them, just as we cannot change the consequences which come from disobeying and breaking them.”
Now, like I said in the beginning, these are just thoughts that have been weighing on my mind. We must have COURAGE. We must be willing to do that which is difficult, we must be able to stand up against the world and strive to do what is right.
Many of you will say that we believe that fighting for the rights of the few is the right thing to do and I would agree to a point. However, when you attempt to change the laws of nature and the laws of God you are not doing things that are constructive and for the greater good.
Yes! For crying out loud YES!! We should love all of God’s children but we should not have to give up that which WE believe to be true in the name of tolerance and love.
I love the sinners and the saints. I pray for this country and the world daily. I hope for the calm and the peace to return to this nation. I pray for tolerance among the differing factions of race and nobility. Those with money are not evil any more than those without are evil.
Let us all work towards a united cause of love, acceptance and tolerance for that which is sacred, that which is pure, that which is good.
All it takes for evil to exist and flourish is for good men to do nothing. I refuse to do nothing…
Thanks for reading to the end.
God bless US all.

Not My Intention: A Standing Ovation

I’m a Cancer and I love being the center of attention but I do not go out of my way to place myself in the spotlight. Don’t get me wrong. If the chance to be silly or do something crazy comes up, I usually take advantage of it. I’m not an actor or singer, I’m not a comedian and I don’t have the guts to get up on stage so the day I received my standing ovation I was quite overwhelmed and a bit embarrassed.

I was working for a company that specialized in safety products around the Las Vegas, Nevada area. I had been relocated there and my family had not yet joined me so that allowed me time to explore and work long hours. One of my favorite things to do was to go to the grand opening of new casinos.

I was invited to go to the grand opening of a new casino on the west side of town (the name is irrelevant for my story) I arrived a bit early but soon the place was hopping with well wishers and famous people trying to look cool. I had lived in Las Vegas for a short time so I wasn’t the best at these big events. I’m not a drinker, gambler or smoker so I quickly realized I was not in a spot where I could be myself. I felt very out-of-place to say the least. I decided to go for a walk.

As most who have visited Las Vegas know, it is very hard to find a place to be alone. When you are in these  big casinos, there are always places full of people but this night was different. I walked down a back area and into a game room that looked as if it was eventually going to be a place to drop off kids while mom and dad gambled.

I was having fun messing with some of the games. I played a few but couldn’t get my eye of the large, round contraption in the center of the room. I walked around it several times and kept staring at the different things this machine offered. On one side was a guitar. The next side was a booth with a microphone in it. On the third side was a bass guitar and finally…drums. It looked as if you put in the money and then you and three friends can create a concert.

I scanned through the screen to see the song list. I knew most of them. I read the instructions and then I decided that, since I was alone in this side of the casino, it wouldn’t hurt to maybe play a song or two. No need to be embarrassed if I screw up because no one was going to hear me right?

I pulled five dollars out of my pocket, found the change machine and got some tokens. I then sat at the electric drum set on the one side of this machine. I went through the songs again and found a few that I knew I could play. I put the token in and made my selection. The machine recognized that I was going to play the drums so it instructed me to play and it would fill in the other parts of the song.

AC/DC was a great choice I thought. Not to hard and something I could have fun playing to. The music was spot on and the machine added all the parts so as I played I began to feel as if the band was with me playing. It was so cool.

I jumped up at the end of the song and exchanged more money for tokens so I could play something else. I found a great song by Journey and then one by Boston. Each time I played, the computer filled in the other parts and the singer as well. This was so much fun!.

Now, feeling completely confident, I decided to play one of my all time favorite songs. I knew this one the best having played it in my basement for years. We’re Not Going To Take It by Twisted Sister. I put in the money and it counted it down. I was to start. So, being totally wrapped up in the moment I counted it down with the computer.

“One! Two! One, Two, Three, Four! And magic. The drums sounded amazing and soon Dee Snider was singing at the top of his lungs. The band had joined in and I actually became the drummer for Twisted Sister. A dream come true. This machine was so real sounding that I lost track of reality and slipped into another world. As I pounded away and the music played on, I sang with the band. I was having the time of my life. This was better than any slot machine.

I kept playing but didn’t notice the crowd that had formed in the room behind me. I just kept going until, as the song came to an end, the audience that had gathered, erupted in a standing ovation. Their cheers startled me and I jumped up turning around to see about fifty people cheering me on.

I took a bow and thought about running for the door then one guy yelled out, “Hey, what else does that thing do?”

I asked if anyone sang or played bass guitar or lead guitar. Three people hesitated but after some prompting from their friends, they stepped up and took their spots on the different sides of the machine. I explained the rules and then put the money in and selected four players. We then selected a few songs that we all knew and suddenly, we were a band. We sounded great. I was actually surprised.

People tossed money at our feet and we played for about an hour or so as the crowd cheered us at the end of each song.

I really can’t explain the elation that came to my heart that day. I knew that when I woke up I hadn’t intended to perform in front of a room of fifty or so strangers but I will never forget my standing ovation and the fun we all had.

Ovation

Being Santa

I was eighteen the first time I put on the red suit. My mom decided that it would be fun to have me play Santa at our family Christmas party. Of course, I got voted down and the same old, smelly guy that had done it for years was retained and did the appearance. I really don’t know what the reason was that I didn’t get to do it other than I was still pretty young.

Now that I had the suit, mom and I figured we could use it. We stopped in on a few families in our church and I was able to visit with them. I sure enjoyed giving back to those who had helped me and the joy on the kids faces was so rewarding.

Putting on the suit seems to transform your heart. All your worries, stress and fears just melt away and this joy… no, this intense level of jolly hits you and your heart swells.You have a new high and it’s not drug induced. You find a happiness that cannot be described. A twinkle comes to your eye and your cheeks get all red. Your belly laughs become deeper and more genuine. You actually jiggle like jelly at times, or so it seems. It truly is joyful being Santa.

That same year I was blessed to be granted permission to go and visit some of the sick children at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.

As I visited with the children I felt bad that I couldn’t stay longer. I felt that my visit was actually helping these kids feel better. Staff, parents and patients alike were genuinely pleased to see Santa. I would walk up to doctors and nurses and ask about their days and I felt as if they were happy I was there. Just for a moment I felt I had given them some kind of relief from the stresses of their jobs. Even if they knew that I was just helping the real Santa, their day seemed less stressed because of the memories Santa invokes. Childlike innocence rushes forward and a giddy sensation tends to follow most adults when I approach them as Santa.

I remember far to well the fear and worry that came to my mind as I was asked to visit one young girl who was not doing well. The nurse told me she didn’t have much time and wasn’t sure she’d see Christmas morning. Could I do this? I wondered to myself and I worried that I wouldn’t do a good enough job. What do you say to a child who is in this condition?

I walked into her room and didn’t feel right being boisterous and loud. Instead, I approached her gently. I took her frail hand and got down on one knee. Tears filled my eyes as I thought about how sick this little baby was. I called her name softly and patted her cheek. She opened her eyes slowly and looked into my eyes. It took a minute for her to recognize Santa but once she did, oh boy! She was thrilled and perked up with a huge smile on her face.

I pushed aside my emotions and went about my work. The raw feelings just waiting beneath the surface. I knew that it wouldn’t take much to spark them and I’d start to cry again so, I ignored them and decided she needed me to be the best Santa I could be.

We talked briefly about her and her family. We talked about playing in the snow and making snowmen and snowball fights. We talked about what she wanted for Christmas and even though I don’t remember all that was said that day, I knew I needed to take the time to get to know her.

The hospital had informed some of the parents ahead of time that I may be stopping by. Her mother had graciously provided a present for me to give to her and as I handed this gift to this child, her heart filled with wonderment and joy…the tears flowed openly now. I couldn’t stop them.

I spoke to her of Jesus Christ and we talked about heaven. She said she knew that God was real because He had been with her many times. She told me how He had talked to her one night when she was alone and scared. I told her that if it wasn’t for Jesus Christ being born I wouldn’t have a job. I don’t think she cared about that or about my jokes. She was just happy for a moment to not be thinking about being sick. She was gracious and smiled as I told jokes but she was focused and slowly coming to the reality that she didn’t have much time left on this earth. Her level of maturity far exceeded my own.

I hugged her for a long time and then kissed her head. I thanked her for being so brave and so good. I encouraged her to say her prayers and then I hugged her dad and finally her mother. Her mom whispered a thanks in my ear but I knew who had been blessed by this visit. My heart was full to overflowing as the Spirit of God filled the room and testified to me that this little one would soon be hugged by Jesus.

I reassured the mom that this was God’s plan. I told her how I didn’t think this was fair but that it wasn’t for me to understand God’s purposes. I encouraged her to hold onto her husband and her family and that they would be a great source of strength over the next few days. I can’t explain why this little one was having to go through this trial but I knew it was for us to witness and that this was how we were to grow. This was to be a lesson for all of us. Nurses, doctors, parents and even Santa.

As I walked out of the hospital that day I knew my life had been changed. I had met a child that was going to be with God and that she was innocent and pure. I am grateful that this memory is still so vivid in my mind. She reminds me of an innocence and purity that I want to have in my own life. I decided that day that I would always try my hardest to carry that love and faith with me into every visit as I played Santa.

I have come to the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the very Son of God. That God lives and together they want us to be happy, to have joy, to strive to be good to our fellow-man. We must hold onto these lessons. Patience, love, kindness and striving to have purity are goals we should work on. Love in our homes and a deep sense of love for our family is vital. I know that it is OK to have faith and trust in the Lord.

I don’t put on that beautiful red suit as much as I’d like to these days. I would love to play Santa as much as I could during December and perhaps even more than that. But what I have gained from being Santa is a determination to carry with me that same feeling of trust in God, that same desire to be pure and ready, that same testimony that Jesus Christ is why we have Christmas and Santa believes in Him. I strive to carry with me the same feelings and testimony as I play Santa and I try to have the Christmas spirit with me all year-long.

May you have the Spirit of Christmas with you all year as you remember Christ is the reason for Christmas.

Merry Christmas.