Saturday, June 30, 2012


~Take a Break From Your Troubles 
and Listen to This Song~

We wake each day with a gift. Too often we are so consumed with the everyday grind, we miss what is around us. Yes, I could talk about the world's problems, i.e. The economy, The Middle East, disease, war and death. If you want to hear about those things, just turn on CNN, FoxNews or MSNBC. I believe that there are far too many of us obsessing on how bad the world is and are missing the gift that each day brings. There is a wonderful verse in Psalms 118:24, 

"This is the day the Lord has made,
Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

l am fully aware of the troubles that come our way and I have often spoken about those times of pain. At times the darkness is so overwhelming, we just want to crawl into a cave. I have been in that cave and the darkness was all around me -- BUT CAVES ARE DARK! The only way to get away from that darkness is to get out of your cave and walk into the sunlight. Take a moment out of each day and look for beauty, you will find it. We are a "get it done" kind of people. We fill the silence in our lives with noise and meaningless activities. Because of that we are not still enough to hear the voice of God. Regardless of the pain or hurt we are experiencing there can be beauty. I remember my ex-wife Angela, on her deathbed, had bird feeders right outside the window. She could watch the beauty around her while suffering from ALS.

We talk about having a "bad" day; that too is relative. Truth be told, no matter how bad your day is going -- someone is having a worse day. Now I do not know the context of this picture, but I can say, this guy is having a bad day. I would say he might have gotten carried away with looking for the beauty in nature and where his clothes are is anyone's guess.

Now that I have gotten the gratuitous nudity out of the way, let me just say - SLOW DOWN. Every day we are bombarded by urgent and important demands. Too often we rush to face the urgent and we miss the important. As your day starts to fill up, ask yourself if this next task is urgent or important. You will soon come to the realization that what is urgent is often NOT important. Urgent things drain us and important things fill us. Here are some important things:
  • Loving your family
  • Spending time with those you care about
  • Quietness
  • Spirituality and your relationship with God
  • Caring for people who have less than yourself
  • Helping people who can never pay you back
  • The laughter of a child
  • The embrace of a loved one.
Remember this: 
I don't know of a single person on their deathbed saying, 
"I should have spent more time at the office."

Learn to be still.

The song below is taken from an ancient Navajo, (Dineh) poem. It holds great truth.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Of all of the Rocky movies, my favorites were the last and the first. Everyone remembers the story of, Rocky, the underdog who gets his big break and meet Apollo Creed in the ring. We cheered when The Rocky Theme was played. Rocky calling for Adrianne after the fight - "Adrienne, I did it!". The final movie, Rocky Balboa, had the hero well past his prime. A man who had buried the love of his life, Adrienne. The Rocky Theme would play softly and very slowly as we watched Rocky sit at the graveside of Adrienne in a wooden chair - and talk to her. In the last movie, Rocky is a has-been with brain damage and he is alienated from his son. He has been to the mountaintop and now is back in the valley. He is a lonely -- BUT NOT A BROKEN man!

The scene below is, in my opinion, one of the greatest scenes I have seen in any movie:
"Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life...
But it ain't about how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. . It's How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done...
Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not point fingers and blame other people. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!..!!!"
This movie had a huge impact on me because what was said was so true in my own life. " Its not how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." I think most of us have had our fair share of hits. How we respond to those hits determines if we choose to be a "victim" or a "victor". I have had some hits in my life that I thought would knock me out of the game. Honestly, my initial defensive response was to blame the situation or other people or a person in general; then I came to realize that it was my choice that caused it. I am not saying that there cannot be outside influences, but there comes a time when you have to say to yourself,
"OK, that sucked and it really hurt me - DEAL WITH IT!"
I know many people who are clinging to past pain or even past successes that have  long ago gone away. In many cases losing success is one of the hardest. When I went through my divorce I had a successful Mortgage Banking company, (that was before they became the pariahs of our society), I went from making mid six-figures to nothing. The next year my gross salary was $27,000. My family was shattered, I was alone, I had lawsuits against me, I was in bankruptcy and foreclosure. I even had the District Attorney's Office deposing me to see if I had done anything that warranted prosecution. Yet, through the grace of God - I survived.
For me, it felt like I had hornets swirling around my head. It seemed that wherever I turned there was another attack - I was completely overwhelmed. I sat down one night with a pad of paper and I wrote down all of the things that I was facing. I took the hardest ones first and made a list. I had decided I would fight them one at a time. I can handle one hornet better than a swarm. One by one I took them on, but with a constant gaze toward the future. It took years and it wasn't easy but by focusing on the future I was able to defeat the past. Now, I am not Superman, there were times I felt like ending it all with a bullet to the brain. Yet the drive to make it through the "Perfect Storm" in my life gave me that North Star to guide me.
For those of you in your own "Perfect Storm", all I can tell you is to look to the future. Dwelling in the past, whether success or hurt will keep you nailed in the past. You will never move forward, you will constantly blame others and most importantly you will NEVER heal. When Paul writes in Philippians 3 he is reflecting on all of his grand accomplishments:
"But whatever was to my profit, I now consider it loss 
for the sake of Christ.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to
the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
for whose sake I have lost ALL things.
I consider them rubbish (Gk. Manure/dung, rotting food),
that I may gain Christ ....
But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus 
took hold of me.
But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 3:7-8, 12b, 13b - NIV)
It is interesting that Paul uses a word for dung in referring to his past and present accomplishments. For Paul, his life is consumed in Jesus Christ. We should take comfort in knowing that although this world will beat you down, there is One who will lift you up. Look to the future and for help on its horizon.
Below is Rocky remembering a talk he had with his trainer Mickey. If nothing else -- Listen to the angel on your shoulder,
"Get up you son of a bitch! Mickey loves you!"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


~ This Song Came on the Radio and it Touched Me. ~

I come in contact with so many people who have been hurt or alienated from a parent, friend or sibling. Often times there can be decades between any type of communication. In my own life, as a survivor of various types of abuse, I close a door in my mind on that person. I guess I got that from my Dad. He was a very "compartmentalized" man. He could seal off emotions, feelings and even memories that he chose to forget. I know now that is probably the worst thing a person can do. We stuff our anger and even hatred so far down inside of us we no longer seem to feel the pain.

That may be true to our conscious mind but it just brews and festers below the surface. We seem fine on the outside, but beneath is festering rot.Then comes a time when you can no longer talk things out. That person is gone and all is left is a nagging sense of shame and guilt for not acting sooner, or if that rot has progressed - you are glad that person has gone.

During these past couple of years it seems that many people I know have died. Maybe it is because I am an old man and my peer group is just getting smaller by attrition. But since I am an old man, I have learned a few things.
There is an interesting story at the beginning of John 8:

John 8:1-11 (MSG)
To Throw The Stone

"Jesus went across to the Mount of Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them. The religion scholars and the Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said,
"Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?"

They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring some charges against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said,
"The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone."
Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, 
beginning with the oldest.

The woman was left alone.

Jesus stood up and spoke to her,

"Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?"

"No one, Master"

"Neither do I," said Jesus
"Go on your way. From now on, don't sin"

Did you catch those who walked away first? It was the oldest in the crowd. There is something that comes with age - knowing you are not always on the right side. With age, through the lenses of our own personal failures and pain, you realize that life is not as simple as it was in your 20's. In my 20's, 30's and even in my 40's I had all the answers. Now as I approach the sunset of my life, I see the questions I overlooked in my youth.

In my pursuit of the truth I had made the Bible into a rule book that I could use to order my life - and often times, order the lives of others. Now I look at the Bible in its entirety, I see a symphony or a dance that God has created to help us live, love and get along with one another in this world.

I don't know if you noticed they only brought the woman before Jesus. I always thought it took two people to commit adultery. Not to justify adultery, but what were the circumstances? Where was the guy? Was he in the crowd holding a stone? Was she set up to be a pawn? I assume Jesus understood the game that was going on. Many have wondered what he was writing in the dirt, I think he was bored with the entire spectacle and sickened by their religious hypocrisy. I imagine him doodling.

Now back to the topic at hand, Are there people in your life you are angry with? Have you hurt someone? Has someone hurt you? NOW is the time to straighten things out. I have spoken about my Father's abuse of me as a kid. I can also tell you that when my Dad passed away, we were on great terms. It wasn't my great ability to forgive or my compassionate heart. I had been touched by the grace of God. What caused me to do what I did came because I realized how much God had forgiven and accepted me.

My Dad was recovering from prostate surgery. (This is kind of gross) He hadn't had a bowel movement in three days and I was supposed to take him back to the hospital the next day. In the middle of the night the air in our house turned blue as I heard a string of profanity being shouted by my Father. I got up, and let's just say 'The dam broke". He was completely covered with excrement and VERY embarrassed. I pulled him into the bathroom and turned on the shower. I started removing his soiled pajamas, as he kept saying "No! No!" I got him into the shower and cleaned him up. He calmed down and was crying and said,
"After all I have done to you, how can you do this?". I just said, "Because you are my Dad."

From that point on, he was my Dad; we had a good relationship over the next three years until he passed away. I know there must be someone in your life you can reach out to. Whether you were the cause or the recipient - reconciliation is a good thing.