A Tale Of Two U.S. Cities

Charleston

Violent protest from violent people

Violent counter-protests

Violence begetting violenceImage result for charleston sc violence August 2017

Houston

Hurricane Harvey

Violent weather from the hand of God

Rapid local and national response

Violence begetting extraordinary compassion Image result for houston flooding cajun navy

Two sides of violence

Two sides of the U.S.

Which one is the real picture?

Are both?

America is like a family.

Her people fight among themselves like cats and dogs.

 But when something from the outside threatens,

her people pull together to fight it together as one.

 

 

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Relationship Atomic Bombs

If there was one thing you could eliminate about the way people around you interact and relate, what would it be? Would you get rid of the way some people criticize others? How about when some people are rude or inconsiderate? In your mind, what is the one thing that is the worst for relationships?

In my experience, the single thing that is the most damaging, the most harmful to most relationships is gossip. It is a relationship atomic bomb, unparalleled in its incredible destructive power.

Gossip is defined as “idle talk or rumor, especially about personal or private affairs of others.” It’s sticking our noses into the business of others. It’s poking into someone’s dirt. It’s being an inquiring mind, when it’s quite possibly (and often likely) none of our business to know. And worst of all, it’s sharing what we didn’t need to know in the first place.

In the classic book The Magic of Thinking Big, author David J. Schwartz, PhD has several thoughts about gossip, calling it “thought poison.”

Thought poison is subtle, but it accomplishes “big” things. It reduces the size of our thinking by forcing us to concentrate on petty, unimportant things.

In another place, Dr. Schwartz defines gossip, writing,

Gossip is just negative conversation about people, and the victim of thought poison begins to think he enjoys it. He seems to get a form of poisoned joy from talking negatively about others, not knowing that to successful people he is becoming increasingly unlikable, and unreliable.

Regarding leadership and gossip, best-selling author, award-winning blogger and LIFE founder Orrin Woodward recently tweeted,

Never met a leader who made a habit of gossiping & I’ve never met a gossiper who made a habit of leading. #success

And best-selling author, award-winning blogger and LIFE CEO Chris Brady recently tweeted,

A person who gossips spreads poison and blames others for the fallout. #gossip #rumors #relationships

The fallout of gossip can be as broad as the number of people involved. It damages and even breaks relationships, causes multitudes of hurt feelings and untold numbers of misunderstandings.

I remember as a schoolgirl, there was some gossip about another person and myself. The rumors were I had said something about my friend that was cruel and mean. They were completely untrue! But my friend, and our group of friends, believed them. No matter how insistent my denials, how strong my protests, they didn’t believe me, and I spent the rest of my senior year of high school ostracized from my former friends. I never reconciled with them, and now cannot with some, as they have since died. Gossip caused my friendships to be shattered beyond repair forever.

Since gossip is so damaging, how do we avoid it? One rule my grandmother and mother both taught me as a girl seems appropriate here. When tempted to gossip, they taught me to ask myself, “Would I say it if that person were present?

Let’s go back to see what David J. Schwartz, PhD has to say for a personal gossip test from The Magic of Thinking Big:

  1. Do I spread rumors about other people?
  2. Do I always have good things to say about others?
  3. Do I like to hear reports of a scandal?
  4. Do I judge others only on the basis of facts?
  5. Do I encourage others to bring their rumors to me?
  6. Do I precede my conversations with, “Don’t tell anybody”?
  7. Do I keep confidential information confidential?
  8. Do I feel guilty about what I have to say concerning other people?

Dr. Schwartz follows this list with his Golden Rule of human behavior, “Go First Class.” We all have an innate knowledge of what First Class means. It’s the best of everything money can buy. In relationships, Go First Class means to be a person of trust, honor, integrity, character and class. It means to be able to answer the questions of the gossip test with a resounding “NO” because that would be against everything you believe in and practice. To Go First Class in our relationships means we are trustworthy friends, loyal and faithful.

When our friends know the relationship atomic bomb of gossip won’t be dropped on them, it gives them security in our relationships. It means our friends know they can count on us to hear deep intimacies, knowing their secrets won’t go anywhere else.

If you struggle with gossip, I urge you to take my words to heart, and apply Dr. Schwartz’s test to your conversations. Don’t forget, it’s not just a matter of not saying it. It’s also a matter of what you will accept being told. Let us walk together, speaking truthfully, in love, and without the thought poison of gossip.

 

The Launching of the Queen Mary

In life, things often don’t go as planned. When this happens, sometimes chaos and hilarity can result. The following is as true a story as I can remember. Names have been changed or omitted to protect the innocent (and the guilty!).

I was 10, and wilderness camping in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. I was there with my parents, older and younger siblings and dogs. Our camping site was located on a lake that is about 1 1/2 miles long, and 1/2 mile wide at its widest point. (That’s important information.) Here’s an actual picture of the place:

13th LakeIt was a lovely hot summer weekend, and my 8 year old sister and I were swimming and playing in the water off our campsite, next to the boat launch. We noticed some commotion above us on the road leading to the boat launch. My sister was busy with what she was doing in the water, so I went up alone to investigate.

I found 5 or 8 cars, some 20 people and one truck towing the largest boat I’d ever seen. The newcomers were arguing with the men at the campsite about the feasibility of the boat being launched into the lake. They demanded to see the boat launch, and seemed displeased when told they were standing on it. I asked my mother what was happening, and she said, “They are trying to launch the Queen Mary here!

They turned to the State Forest Ranger, who’d just arrived, and tried to convince him he could use the rescue winch on the front of his truck to help them. While the adult campers chuckled behind their hands, he said that was out of the question. No amount of persuasion or argument would convince these folks the boat couldn’t or wouldn’t be launched. Even if it was, the twin engines wouldn’t be able to come up to enough speed for the water skiing they wanted to do in the confines of such a small

Water skiing on the Yarra River in Melbourne

space. The Ranger and the men from the campground kept trying to tell them they’d have more success at a bigger place like Lake George or Blue Mountain Lake, but nothing would deter them from their goal of boating on that lake that day.

Well, nothing until while all the adults had been busy arguing, one had left his toddler in the front seat of his car alone, and unrestrained. This was in the years before seat belts were popularly used, let alone car seats. The parent had not set the emergency brake, and when the child started playing with the controls of the car and got it into neutral, gravity took over. My mother and I both saw the car moving at the same time, and shouted for my sister to move. She barely leaped away in time, as the father ran after the car and his child.

The child was retrieved and was perfectly fine, damp and delighting in his ride. The Ranger’s winch was employed, and the car retrieved from the lake. It was then they declared they were going to change the oil on the car right then and there, and let the old oil drain into the soil and lake. It was only the Ranger’s presence as a representative of the law which prevented some “frontier justice” by the men from the campground. The Ranger hauled out his ticket book, started angrily listing things for which he was about to cite them, and said tickets were a certainty if they didn’t leave immediately.

Within a short time, the lake again belonged to the wildlife, the campers and Ranger. The adults sat down to well-deserved cups of coffee and some relaxation, as they laughed at the boaters. I told them what my mother told me about the boat, and enjoyed the laugh I got. What my mother said to me became both the title of this post and the name of what is a favorite family story.

When I consider this story, I think about the Plan, Do, Check and Adjust process I have learned from LIFE. Orrin Woodward, best-selling author and LIFE co-founder, learned this information during his career as a successful engineer from its inventor, the legendary engineer Edward Demming.

Orrin Woodward

Orrin Woodward

In the Plan, Do, Check and Adjust (also called PDCA) process, we work out a Plan, Do the Plan, Check the progress of the Plan with an outside source like a mentor and Adjust the Plan as necessary to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. Each step is an individually critical component in success of any endeavor.

Let’s review my story in light of the PDCA process. The folks with the boat had a Plan: they Planned to launch their boat on the lake and go water skiing. They tried to Do their Plan. They tried multiple methods to Do their Plan. However, they failed to listen to the wiser counsel of others when confronted with undeniable data, didn’t Check their Plan against the available data and failed to Adjust accordingly. It was in this failure to Check and Adjust stage when the car ended up in the lake, instead of their boat.

So, how can we make this process work for ourselves? Please understand, in saying these things, I will be talking to myself as much as I am talking to you!

How many times do we go benignly along through life, trying to launch our Queen Mary Plans, little realizing how impractical or physically impossible they are? And even when they are possible, do we work them out with others who might know more than us, to help us make a better Plan? Others, of course, go blissfully through life with seemingly no Plan at all, living out the true-ism a failure to Plan is a Plan for failure.

Sometimes, we get stalled in the Do step. Some of us are wonderful Planners, but not so great at the Do part. A Plan is not meant to be a paper tiger. It’s meant to be a blueprint for building something. Nike didn’t make their slogan, “Just Do It,” for nothing, you know.

When we finally get our Plans launched and Do them, do we Check how we’re doing with them? Or do we go sailing onward, benignly or willfully ignorant of data running counter to what we want to be seeing? Data, as it has been so rightly said, isn’t right or wrong. It’s just data. To deny the facts of something in front of us and move on anyway is either ignorant or foolish.

Do we stop sometimes and Adjust what we are doing in the face of data that tells us stuff we might not want to hear? The Adjust stage is when you either refine the Plan, or decide it’s fine for now, and go forward. It is here where the counsel of a mentor can be most crucial. Often we need a voice outside of ourselves, who compassionately knows us, to look in on our situations and offer a broader view we likely do not see. It’s like going through a dense forest, and having someone in a helicopter above, who sees the way, telling you where to go and how to turn to navigate successfully.

Had the folks with the boat that day practiced the PDCA process, we likely would never have seen them, and I would not have this (hopefully!) entertaining story to illustrate the PDCA process for you. They would have realized their boat needed more space than our lake had, and gone elsewhere. They would have happily water skied, not needed to change the oil on one of the cars, not almost hit my sister with the car and left us in peace. And I would have been left to find another story to illustrate the PDCA process for you.

I hope my story of a failure of the PDCA process, and my explanations of it help you find joy in your journey as you use it to find more success in life!

Trust

(For John D)

“Trust must be earned,”

I’ve heard people say,

“By a man who acts toward me

“In a favorable way.

“Trust is a coin,

“Paid for favors done,

“Until it’s earned, there’s suspicion

“Toward the un-trusted one.”

 

“Trust is a gift,”

I have heard others tell,

“By someone whose heart

“Strikes my heart well.

“Trust is a treasure

“That must be given away,

“Not hoarded in a closed heart

“Until it all fades away.”

 

I’ve decided that trust

Is both a coin and a gift,

To be earned, then bestowed,

And give someone a lift.

It’s a coin because it can’t be given

Right from the very start.

It’s a gift because it’s granted

From the treasure of my heart.

 

When I give my trust,

It’s to someone who’s kind,

To someone whose actions

Reveal a like mind.

And when I give my trust,

On some bright, happy day,

The trusted one knows it won’t quickly

Be taken away.

When trust is abused,

It’s a sorry, sad thing.

It takes away love,

And leaves a hard, hurtful sting.

And the one whose own trust

Has been so abused

Feels lonely and sad

And angry and used.

 

But I’ll still give my trust

Even though it may hurt,

If a person decides

It’s of such little worth.

Because trust is too costly

To be hoarded, and lost,

And the love of a friend

Is worth any cost.

To Number My Days – Essay

I recently saw a graphic a friend shared on Facebook. Here it is:

When I look at it, I think about Judy and I remember how she was when I first knew her.

We got to know each other in school. By “in school,” I mean middle school (we called it “Junior High”) and High School. We were young, knew it all and positive we were invincible. We were egotisticaly convinced, as most of us are in those years, we would live forever and never, ever become “old fogies” like our parents and grandparents! (Looking back on my younger self with my current wisdom, I think, “What a jerk I was sometimes!“)

Well, it’s been over 30 years since. In the intervening years, my classmates and I went our separate ways into college, marriage, children, careers and businesses. But in the last few years, through social networking sites like  Facebook, we’ve found one another, and we’re back in touch.

A strange thing happened in the meantime. I don’t remember it happening. I remember getting married, having and raising kids, being employed, owning businesses, seeing our daughter get married and start raising her own family, and all the other joys and challenges of my life up to now. But I never stopped to consider, except on birthdays, I was getting old. And my friends, too, as that graphic Judy shared so obviously pointed out to me. When in the heck did that happen?!?!?!?

We became what we as youthful Baby Boomers dreaded, the older generation. Not only are we over 30 (as in “Never trust anyone over 30.”), my classmates and I are heading for 60 faster than any of us care to think about or discuss. We, who used to so disdain our elders, are the old ones being disdained by the youth now. When in the heck did that happen?!?!?!? (One of my coworkers, who is our daughter’s age, when told of this revelation declared emphatically, “You’re not old!” Thanks, Rachael!)

In considering this revelation, only one conclusion came to my mind. I knew it, but in the rush and bustle of day to day living, I forgot. It’s an ancient truth, first penned by King David of Israel, when he said in,

Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Our days are numbered. Our time is limited. As young people, we deny it in the invincibility that too often is youth. We continue to do so until life forces its truth upon us, often in painful and harsh ways. That happened for me when the first of my school friends died when we were in college, a victim of a tragic accident on icy roads.

We are finite. We don’t have forever to work with, to see our dreams come true. Despite the motivational saying and the song from the hit musical Annie, there isn’t always a tomorrow. We eventually run out of them. We cannot count on them always being there.

So, what are we going to do with the today we’re given? Old or young, rich or poor, we all have to face that question. Best selling author of  7 books, TEAM LIFE founder and award-winning blogger Chris Brady visits this thought with his favorite quote,

“Our greatest fear shouldn’t be that we won’t succeed, but rather, that we’ll succeed at something that doesn’t matter!” (attributed to D. L. Moody)

These things that matter are of lasting value. Yes, we build fortunes and businesses to will to our heirs. But this is still temporal, since they could squander it, if we do not also teach them financial wisdom. We also teach our children and grandchildren the values and morals we hold most dear. And we work to see a faith life grow into them, to keep them in hard times and give them an eternal perspective.

Let’s do as King David asked God to teach us, and number our days rightly. And then, let’s use them for things in our life that matter. If we look at life that way, and work with forever in mind, then getting older gets to be not so bad, after all.

Living Among The 8 F’s

On TEAM LIFE, we are taught about the 8 F’s.  These are

  • Faith
  • Family
  • Finances                                       
  • Fitness
  • Freedom
  • Friendship
  • Following
  • Fun

Sunday, my husband Bob and I spent some time among 4 of the 8 F’s, Faith, Family, Friends and Fun.  That day started, as our Sundays always do, in the Faith F, with personal quiet devotional times, followed by preparing for and attending the 11:00 am service at our church. It was our turn, along with our son David, to read the appointed Scripture lessons for the day.  In addition, it was Bob’s turn to serve Communion, and David’s to usher.  We love attending a church where we can be fed from God’s Word and serve, too.

After church, we got together with my mother and one of my sisters, Suzanne, who was visiting from her home in The Netherlands.  Mom and Suzanne had also been at church, but had not sat with us.  Mom announced she wanted to go to lunch before going back to her assisted living facility.  We knew this would be our only opportunity to visit with Suzanne for any length, so Bob, David and I jumped at the opportunity to spend some time with the Family F.   .

We had a nice lunch with Suzanne and Mom, though Suzanne complained about the slow service.  Bob and I were able to share with them about TEAM LIFE and how much we get from the materials we get from our subscriptions and system tools.  Suzanne told us of her work and family.  It was a nice time to catch up.

After lunch, Suzanne had to go to another commitment,.  So Bob and I dropped David off for his shift at work, and brought my mother home.  By the time we got her settled back into her room and got back home, it was 4:30, over 3 1/2 hours after we got out of church.

When we arrived home, Bob and I started working on projects we needed to do before attending the TEAM LIFE major conference soon.  Then, noticing the time, we came to a stopping place in our chores and made a light dinner.  After dinner, Bob decided we should go back to church, where some Friends, who are professional musicians, were performing in a benefit concert for the school our church supports.

It was a lovely concert.  The school’s cafeteria was set up cabaret-style, with cloths and candles on the tables, and school children acting as waiters and waitresses.  They were offering coffee, tea and home-baked goodies for a nominal fee.  The music was wonderful,highlighting women composers and lyricists, primarily from the Great American Songbook.  Bob and I had a great deal of Fun.  Afterward, we came home to our regular Sunday evening conference call with our part of TEAM LIFE.

So Sunday was for us a great day, filled with 4 of the 8 F’s, Faith, Family, Friends and Fun.  We got to enjoy life in 4 of them in one day.  It is not often we get to have days like that, and we treasure them.

How do you do?  How is your life among TEAM LIFE‘s 8 F’s?  I hope, like ours, it is rewarding, interesting and full of joy.

The Measure Of A Man

The life of a man is not measured

In the things he so patiently acquires.

English: Trinkets at fleamarket in Leon, Guana...

But the life of a man is measured

In how well he obeys God’s desires.

*

The measure of a man is not taken

By those with whom he would compare.

For the measure of a man is decided

By those around him for whom he would care.

 *

The success of a man is not calculated

By status or riches or fame.

"Cleric, Knight, and Workman": the t...

But a man finds success lies elsewhere,

In the love of friends who know him more than by name.

 *

The wealth of a man is not laid out

International Money Pile in Cash and CoinsIn a treasure he would carefully hoard.

 For a man can find wealth and treasures untold

In the joys of serving his Lord.

*

The joy of a man is not locatedA. Carnegie & Lord Weardale (LOC)

In the deals he arranges to complete.

For joy can only be found in service,

Another’s needs that man seeks to meet.

 *

The leadership of a man is not noticed

A squad of soldiers learn communication and de...

When he is always trying to take charge.

For true leaders are found in their giving

To others, their hearts to enlarge.

  *

The love of a man is not discovered

The love of my life

Solely in the woman he takes for his wife.

For a man’s love is only proven

When, for her, he daily lays down his life.

*

MoneyA man may not seem too successful

By the standards the world may choose.

But God considers anyone successful

If, for His purposes, their lives He can use.

My Friend

(To Debbie, Cindy and John)

My friend has laughing eyes,

And warm arms to enfold

To cheer a heart that’s lonely

Heart

With a story to be told;

A happy smile to greet me,

When I have been away,

A compliment to make me smile,

A hug to make my day.

*

My friend has loving hands,

Gentle and full of care,

And when I’m full of sorrow,

Has lots of hope to share;

Two friends

Eyes that see into my heart,

No matter what my mood,

A heart that warms and comforts me,

Praying only for my good.

*

And I would not give up my friend

For all the world could give,

And if I had to make the choice,

It’s with my friend I’d live;

Through thick and thin my friend will stay

Friendship.

Right to the very end,

And the only reason he will give

Is because he is my friend.