Why I Write This Blog

Why do we do what we do?  How often do we look at our motivations for doing things?

I was asked by someone today what I did in 2011 to make the world a better place to live in.  This blog, and what I post in it, was part of my answer.

I write here to inform, educate, challenge presuppositions and entertain.  I look at things through the perspective of my worldview, and try to give you a small view of what I see and feel.  Sometimes, I put a microscope on a subject and look closely.  Other times, I work for a telescopic, big picture view.  And I will admit there are occasional times when my view feels to me more like the confusion of a kaleidoscope!

I write because for me, words are my passion, my reason for living.  They are, as some would say, my thing.  It wasn’t until this year that I finally realized what I wanted to be when I grew up — I wanted to be a writer.  To me, that is the coolest and most awesome job on the planet!

This discovery did not come to someone in their early adulthood years.  If you have read any number of my posts, you know I am a mother of 2 adult kids, and a grandmother of 2 1/3 young children.  (Yes, that was an announcement.  Our daughter told us at Christmas she is again pregnant, due in June.)  As someone well past my younger years, you would expect I would have had a clue sooner.  But life has a funny way of happening to people, and my early paths were not always smooth ones.

Chris Brady

I was urged write, to blog, this year by people who supported my efforts and encouraged me to do it.  I owe mentor Tony Tefel and fellow blogger, leadership guru and TEAM LIFE  co-founder Chris Brady a debt I cannot hope to ever repay.

I had one other answer to that question posed to me today about how I made the world a better place in 2011.  I made the world a better place by making me better.  Through what I learn from the books, CD’s and training events of TEAM LIFE, I become better. I do it because of a quote that has become my favorite.

When I was young and free my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it, too, seemed immovable. As I grew in my twilight years, in one desperate last attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now as I lay on my deathbed, I suddenly realized: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.~~ Found on the tomb of an 11th

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

century Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey

I invite you to join me in the journey of changing the world by changing ourselves.

Cathy

American Politics – A Sane Solution

Why are American Politics so divisive?  What can we do about it?

Here is the entire recent article by leadership guru and TEAM LIFE co-founder Orrin Woodward on the subject.

Orrin Woodward

In one corner we have the Right. They claim that America needs a huge military/industrial complex to protect our country. Strangely, in order to do so, it is claimed that it requires military personnel in a hundred plus countries and military bases in 63 of them! Isn’t this a costly endeavor when a nation is going broke? In addition, the military complex provides gun-boat diplomacy (open your markets or else) for large corporations to sell merchandise protected by the military paid for by the shrinking middle class.

In the other corner is the Left. They claim that America needs a bigger government to regulate those greedy capitalist who are exploiting the people. Although I agree with the assessment, the answer – more government power – only allows the greedy business people to buy the greedy government, thus the power to control their markets. Plus the bigger government requires even more tax dollars (similar to the Right and military complex), leaving the citizens reduced to mere serfs at the beck and call of numerous regulations.

What if both the Right and Left were a Hegelian maneuver of thesis, anti-thesis, leading to the inevitable synthesis of larger State power and control, regardless of which side wins an election? What if, in other words, the Right/Left dichotomy isn’t even the real battleground? America was founded on limited government bound by the Constitution to ensure the beast never escapes it clearly delineated powers. Oh how far we have traveled from this ideal.

Today, whether one votes Right or votes Left, what a person actually votes for is less freedom and more Government/Big Business/Banker control. Until the citizens change the framework of the debate for Right/Left to Freedom/Tyranny, nothing will change. Asking money-hungry Government (it takes money to get elected) to regulate money-hungry Big Business is like asking Al Capone to regulate prohibition. History has provided endless examples of the illicit partnering of Big Business and Big Government to feather their nest at the expense of the citizen’s freedoms and pocketbooks – Federal Reserve, Income Tax, Railroads, Savings & Loans, etc.

Let’s change the debate this electoral season. Let’s start asking our candidates how they intend to reduce Big Government. By reducing Big Government, it will automatically reduce the ability of Big Business to buy the power needed to set up monopolies, thus ensuring true free enterprise for the benefit of all citizens. Free enterprise is the only system where the consumer has the choice to vote with his money and support or withhold these if not happy.

Why give government this control when they have proven repeatedly they are incapable of withstanding the bribery of Big Business? Let’s put the power back in the citizens hands where it belongs. Idealist? Maybe, but what is the point of getting involved unless we have ideals to shoot for? Time is short, America cannot continue on its present path of fiscal insanity, power lust, and ethical wasteland forever.  What part will you play in the restoration of the American Dream?

As of today, I am officially no longer a Republican or a Democrat. I am now going under the long forgotten term called American. I refuse to allow our political pundits to divide us any longer. Americans must unite around freedom not fight around force. In my opinion, each citizen has a moral responsibility to stop dividing between the false dichotomy of Right/Left and start uniting around the true division of Freedom or Tyranny. I choose Freedom, how about you?

One Man

What can one man do

The beginning verses of the Gospel of John, fr...

To change the world?

What can one soul do

To stamp out evil?

What can one heart do

To make life better

For the endless and teeming

Needy multitudes?

*

English: Noah Leading the Animals into the Ark...

Noah was one man.

He saw the evil of his race.

God used him to bring safety

As He cleansed the earth’s face.

To him God gave plans;

An Ark of Safety he made.

Two of every creation

Through Noah God saved.

 *

Moses was one man.

English: Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deu...

He saw Israel’s plight.

God used him to bring his people

Out of dark into light.

To him God gave Law,

And a promise of grace.

To Moses God talked,

As a friend, face to face.

 *

Paul was one man.

He saw Israel wouldn’t believe.

English: First page of the Gospel of Saint Joh...

God used him to witness to Gentiles,

Who would willingly receive.

To him God gave wisdom,

And the revealing of grace.

Through Paul God spread the Gospel

To every known place.

*

William Tyndale was one man.

He saw the ignorance of his land.

English: William Tyndale, Protestant reformer ...

God used him to translate

The Bible for England.

To him God gave courage

Needed for a martyr’s call.

Through William Tyndale God revealed

His Scriptures to all.

 *

One man can see a need.

One man can hear a call.

Through him God can work

To bring something to all.

To each God gives what is needed

For his own time and place.

Through each God can speak

To the world, face to face.

Thinker On A Rock in National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

(“Thinker On A Rock” statue at the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

Little Decisions Can Have Big Consequences

What is it about little decisions that they can have such impact on our lives?  How can we know when we make a decision what the consequences might be for us?

In the article Turning Points for LIFE, TEAM LIFE leadership guru Chris Brady talks about the long-term consequences for our decisions.  From his own life, he shows how to correctly treat them for their most beneficial long-term effects.

Chris Brady

What may seem like little decisions at the time can have massive and lasting impact on the course of our lives. We change direction and go down a road from which we can never return.

The interesting thing about major turning points in our lives is that they are not always obvious. Let’s face it, we make thousands of decisions a year. Some that seem major sometimes don’t turn out to be. Some that seems minor can sometimes change the course of our lives forever. It is sometimes impossible to tell if the next decision will be a big one, leading to a turning point, or just another miniscule moment that will soon be lost under the dust of time and faded memories.

The lesson? Choose well at each decision. Never underestimate the potential of tiny things having big ramifications.

The lesson within the lesson? There really aren’t that many major turning points in life. If you don’t believe me, map out your own life by moving backwards through your circumstances. How did you end up living where you’re living, working where you’re working, married to whom you’re married, etc.? If you trace it back, you’ll likely find somewhere between 3 and 10 major turning points in your life, many of which you couldn’t have seen coming.

An observation on these lessons: The most successful people (such as my buddy Tim Marks) seem to make decisions the quickest and with the least amount of angst, but then stick to those decisions with more tenacity than others. To me this is a strange paradox, but I’ve seen it demonstrated so many times I believe it to be the rule.

Conclusion: Turning points are rare but significant in your life. Choose wisely from the myriad of choices proffered to you each day, as any one of them could have unforseen and lasting implications. However, it is not necessary to become paralyzed or burdened by the decisions you’ll face. Perhaps the worst thing to do is  over analyze. Go with your gut, pray for guidance, and stick to the directions you choose.

In my life, I seldom treated my turning points this wisely, or at least recognized they so quickly.  I did what seemed right, with little thought to long-term consequences.

One was to accept an offer to sing at our church.  It led to performing with a man I’d met recently.  After church, he asked me out.  Several years later, I married him.

Another was deciding what college I should attend, after I graduated junior college.  My choice led to meeting Cindy, who grew to become one of my best friends, and my mentor.

I’ve had others, but these are enough.  What turning points have you had?      

English: Decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Take some time, as Chris suggests, to write them down.  Consider the path your life has taken, where your choices have led you.  When you are faced with a decision, treat it with the care and thoughtfulness Chris suggests.

Cathy

The Search for a Leader

Why are leaders so hard to find in our world?  Who are our leaders, and what makes them what they are?

In the recent post The Leadership Search, leadership guru Orrin Woodward spoke

Orrin Woodward

poetically about his own search for leadership in his life.

I searched for him half my life,
named with an uncommon sound.

*

I looked for him around the world,
but this person refused to be found.

*

Thankfully, I discovered him,
the good news is, you can too.

*

However, it won’t be easy,
as he reveals himself to just a few.

*

You can search our government assemblies,
and only hear legends from his past.

*

You can search our halls of learning,
reading quaint histories fading fast.

*

You can search our industrial complexes,
viewing his old portraits in the aisles.

*

You can search our sports arenas,
reading banners going out of style.

*

Everyone seems to know this person,
but most refuse his name.

*

I ceased my fruitless search,
hanging my head in shame.

*

In desperation, I searched within,
realizing his presence all along.

*

Since no one else will be him,
I can and will, to become strong.

*

I am now called responsible,
I am the man with the uncommon name.

*

My friend, you too have this choice,
for you can be called the same.

*

The search has ended.
The journey is done.

*

Who is responsible?
I am; You are; Everybody and everyone.

We all have the choice to be leaders in our own lives.  No matter what our various roles are, whether we be spouses, parents, employees or whatever, we all have a choice to lead.  We lead by what we choose to say, and when we make a choice to keep silent.  We lead by our actions and the times when we chose inaction.  We lead by the strength of our character and convictions, or sadly, by their lack.

Our culture teaches us leaders are people who take charge, who are out in front, bossing everyone else around.  Our culture teaches us leadership is for the chosen few.  But as Orrin points out, anyone can lead.  It is not an issue of personality or style.  It is an issue of the heart.  Let’s all work to grow leader’s hearts.

Cathy

Gifts of Love — A Christmas Poem

Christmas toys are only a part

Christmas gifts.

Of the magic Christmas brings

Because the meaning of true Christmas lies

In the babe born King of Kings.

*

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, ...

Wise men three came bearing gifts.

They traveled from afar

Came to worship and adore

The Child who made the stars.

*

Angels were singing hymns on high.

Christmas decorations

The glory of God shown ‘round.

Wondering shepherds quickly hastened

To quiet Bethlehem town.

*

The Father’s love had been poured out

The small Bethlehem scene under the Christmas ...

Into the little Child

And onto His mother, quiet Mary,

A virgin, meek and mild.

*

We see the angels and the shepherds,

Angel appearing to shepherds for Nativity scen...

And know the manger where Jesus did lie

And yet, so few see why He was sent,

An Innocent destined to die.

*

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

He died on Good Friday, this we know,

Yet arose on Easter morn.

But how many folks remember this,

Celebrating the day He was born?

*

Christmas is a time of joy,

A time to receive and give

Christmas in the post-War United States

But the greatest of all giving comes

When you give the life that’s yours to live.

Christmas Canon

Pachabel’s Canon in D, the Canon for Peace, is one of my all-time favorite pieces of classical music.  It is right up there at or near the top of a list that also includes

  • Beethoven’s 8th Symphony (most especially Ode To Joy)
  • Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
  • Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (not exactly classical, but classic jazz)
  • Camille Saint-Sean’s Carnival of the Animals Finale (one of the funniest clips of film the Disney studios ever did in Fantasia 2000)
  • Poncelli’s Dance of the Hours
  • Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker
  • Beethoven’s 6th Symphony (The Pastoral Symphony)

This particular version of Pachabel is a favorite.  It’s a piece my family loves to play at Christmas time.  It is performed by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  (TSO to fans.)  This version includes the lyrics.  Enjoy!!

Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Canon

Destiny

Destiny foretold

Since time began.

From times of old

There was a plan.

Justice spoke wrath

To the first sinners there.

And hope showed a path,

Love’s mercy to share.

*

Destiny foreknew

As the prophets foretold.

Seeing futures true

As the Spirit foretold.

A family, a line,

A Messiah, a King:

In the fullness of time

Sweet salvation to bring.

*

Destiny captured

In the virgin birth.

Angels sing raptures

Of the Holy Child’s worth.

Shepherds come and adore

And gifts wise men bring,

All fitting for the Lord

And King of all Kings.

*

Destiny revealed

In an old rugged cross.

Messiah giving ransom

For the souls of the lost.

Emmanuel, God with us,

Who died in man’s place.

The only sinless sacrifice

To give man atoning grace.

*

Destiny rewarded

With the rise of the third sun.

An empty tomb is revealed,

And the living Holy One.

The mission is completed

The victory’s won.

Death’s curse is repealed;

Messiah’s work here is done.

*

(December 24, 2007 — Begun during Pastor Kenn Cobb’s Christmas Eve sermon, when he spoke of Jesus’ “destiny revealed” in the Cross.)

Promises To Keep

My husband Bob and I love to listen to Christmas music at this time of year!  One of our favorite sources is Trans-Siberian Orchestra (aka TSO to fans), a band that does classical and Christmas music, with a rock flavor.

One TSO song I have particularly come to enjoy this year is Promises to Keep from their Christmas Eve and Other Stories CD.  I just love these lyrics!  Unfortunately, I could not find a video online that had the original children’s choir, as performed on the PBS video and CD.  Here is a live version someone recorded in the TSO concert in my hometown, last December 26.

Merry Christmas!!!

Promises to Keep

Christmas time, on a cold December morning

All is calm, and the world is still asleep

Christmas lights, that have been caught without warning

Gently glitter on

Stars to wish upon

All the world is at peace

*

Christmas time, and the year will soon be leaving

Cloaked in time, till it’s just a memory

Christmas stays if we don’t forget its meaning

Days go quickly by

Years they multiply

We go searching for thee

*

And the dream is still alive

From that first December morning

And it always will survive

As long as we can see

That the dreams that we find in life

Are the dreams we tend to seek

And Christmas has its promises to keep

*

Christmas time, and the world is just beginning

On last night, when we wished upon the star

And if this kindness we feel is just pretending

If we pretend long enough

Never giving up

It just might be who we are.

Who Has The Most Followers? — One Solitary Life

I recently learned this beautiful poem was written in 1926 by Dr. James Francis Allen.  If you’ve followed my posts, you know my twin subjects this week are Following and of course ChristmasJesus, the central figure of Christmas, has had and continues to have more followers than anyone else on the planet before or since.

I think reprinting this lovely poem most appropriate for this week.  I hope you do, too.

He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman

English: This is a map of first century Iudaea...

He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty

*

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles

English: Oakland California Temple of The Chur...

From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness

*
He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three

His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies

Jesus on the wall of the senior Home

And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth

*

When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone

*
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race

Corcovado jesus

And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life