Intentional Pursuit of the New Year

I’ve not had a chance to do any writing lately. The holidays are a hard time for me to be reflective or be creative with my thoughts. There’s just too many distractions!

Going into a new year I find myself somewhat bored. Following a heavy grind of work, parties, gifts and family gatherings during the holiday season it can leave you in a state of “I don’t know what to do now?” With us all, each new year should come a renewed sense of purpose and resolve in some or many areas. Each year I hear less and less about other people’s New Year’s resolutions. I think people are tired of stating their goals or changes only to find themselves a few days or weeks bemoaning how they’ve failed. But in reality is a good practice to have needed changes implanted in your mind that you may be wanting to accomplish? Perhaps it is to just live a healthier life by changing an eating habit? Or maybe it is simply the desire to be more intentionally active? Something as simple as a needed garage cleanout can be just the sort of thing that helps you get off of dead center and give you a renewed sense that you’ve done something worthwhile and different – for a change!

For me I have many a task before getting my landscape and exterior back in shape at my home. Having had a tornado devastate my property a little more than a year ago, I have a myriad of tasks to do in my yardscape. The cleanup process has been an ongoing thing for over a year. And that is still happening each time I step foot outside. I keep finding random roof shingles, nails, metal and just about everything else under the sun in my yard and beds. I keep telling myself – it just takes time.

There are certainly relationship issues that could use refining and updating. Just like physical work outside, there are times in relationships with co-workers, friends and relatives that require pruning, fertilizing and watering. Doing such things will make your life blossom in some of the same ways that your horticultural world also benefits. Perhaps you’ve reconnected with an old friend? Going to lunch with them (intentionally) will help you reconnect and strengthen each other’s lives. Perhaps your relationship with your spouse could use some tilling and growing. Even after many years of marriage I find myself realizing that my bride needs my attention just as much now as 43 years ago.

So for the new year I would encourage anyone listening to reflect on where you are and find areas of your life that can use some work. Set goals on what you’d like to change for this year. Make concrete plans for those changes and make a total resolve to make them happen. Don’t take no for the answer when you want to be lazy in accomplishing these goals. Be intentional in everything you do. Get up earlier than normal and get more accomplished than you even think you can. Make it a good year with positive desires and goals. Make someone happy about themselves. The end result will be that you will find that you were the one that’s benefitted more for your intentional plan for the year.

Now – I need to get up and moving.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Time to Pay Our Respects Again

Our founders started out as a ragtag group longing to be free at any cost. They fought the good fight against insurmountable odds. The crown of England surely had a strangle-hold on our fledgling nation. Those brave men who came before us marshaled their determination to beat back the oppressors who were determined to crush us. Our patriots were really the underdogs in that fight. But they had something the king did not have – RESOLVE.

In the process of forming our wee nation our forefather worked tirelessly to forge a document to seal our republic into a strong bod. That document has surely stood the test of time thus far. Our constitution became a framework so we’d have a government that was FOR, WITH and BY the people. It’s mission was to insure balance between the power brokers so we’d be governed, yet not dominated. Have strength, yet be kindly bridled.

Each year about this time we’re reminded of the sacrifices made to secure, protect, and keep our freedoms. Throughout our history we’ve made our share of enemies, most of which were borne completely out of a burning thing called jealousy. Our nation was designed to give the commoner a share of the pie. It was also designed to allow someone (anyone) and an ability and a passion to become great, even with little.

Our foes have historically be people in other nations. From time to time we’ve had haters of freedom within our own ranks. Detractors of freedom will always be nipping at our heels. Kings, princes and tyrants can’t stand to see the common man have and utilize opportunity, and then succeed. It makes them look bad. It also diminishes their own ill-placed hunger for power.

For the brave men and women who’ve stood for our ideals in the middle of a blinding rain at 3 a.m. And for the patriot whose risen early and stayed up late training in order to serve. And for the servant warrior who has spent tireless effort standing watch over our republic and protecting our ideals.

For all of those who’ve even given the ultimate sacrifice for us – we salute and honor you this Memorial Day. We revere you. We’re humbled at your effort as you’ve stood in our place and given your all so that we can sleep at night with that joy of freedom in our hearts. To the servicemen and women of every rank in every generation and in every location – we stand up in honor of your memory and your service. We wave old glory in your honor.

God Bless you and God Bless the United States of America!

Light Bulb Moment today

I had one of those light bulb moments early this morning.
It came to me as a single word – Mission.
What does Mission mean?
Webster defines this as: an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction; a calling or vocation, or an important task or duty that is assigned, allotted, or self-imposed: or sending or being sent for some duty or purpose.
 
For a number of years I felt like I had several missions in life. Among those were to be the provider for my family and to be the man God called me to be, for the protection and nurture of the wife  and brood he blessed me with. Another mission was to raise our kids in the “right” way. That mission was a joyous and rewarding endeavor.
 
A little later in my adult time I had a mission to be a leader among, and with, men of faith. That became a passion that was shared with other like minded guys who were in various stages of their lives. It was also a rewarding and fruitful experience and watch as God blessed and prospered that deepening faith experience. 
 
All the kids are gone now. They are pursuing their own missions now. So, for the most part my fathering mission is pretty much accomplished. My provider mission and role of provider has changed to being the provider for my wife and myself. The men’s ministry mission waned in recent years, as some of my closest allies and comrades left this place for a better land.
 
A discussion began last evening with my bride about the frustration we feel as believers in that the population at large are very much different than we are. Our society is very much “into themselves” and searching for happiness in things and events that we personally find no joy or purpose in. We sort of feel out of touch with the mainstream. We want to be and attempt to be relevant and “part of the crowd” yet we just can’t embrace many of the activities and attitudes that make the multitudes happy nowadays.
 
So, as often happens early in the morning, the Holy Spirit speaks. Not with great detail but with single words like MISSION. In the “mature age” of our lives I think we need a new mission. We need something that we are jazzed about. We need to throw ourselves into something that makes a difference in the lives of other people. And we need to be on the same page as a team for this mission. At this point I have not a clue what that might look like or be? But the same spirit that injected this new word into my thoughts, will also bring something to us that will energize our batteries and give us new meaning and purpose.
As we allow our spiritual gifts to be employed openly in the mighty hand of God, there will be purpose and drive and success. There will also come with that the fulfillment of knowing that what we are about is something that makes our creator smile.
I’m ready to find my new calling, whatever that might be. Stay tuned for further mission news!   

Left Turns. Ever made one?

LEFT TURNS
Right turns when driving are fairly easy, aren’t they? Most states allow a right turn on red light, if no other traffic is coming. Some times there are arrows that allow right turns. But for the most part in America we could all agree that turning right is fairly simple.
Left turns however are another matter entirely. My most poignant remembrance of a left turn was when I was a little bit younger (OK, a lot younger!). I met regularly with two older men on Saturday mornings for coffee, encouragement and prayer. The route to our meeting place required a left turn at an intersection. One particular morning when at the signal light and turning left, I proceeded to make my turn at the end of the light’s cycle.
On the other side of the intersection another driver was coming through the intersection, also at the “end” of the cycle going straight. That morning we met without a handshake. It was a small disaster. The other driver T-Boned me on the passenger side of my car. I had my driver’s window down at the time and the impact flung my eyeglasses into the street and we run over later. The right side window exploded and some of the flying glass now resided in my face.
After the spinning stopped I surveyed the scene and realized my little car was done, Caput, totaled and basically a nice new U shape.
I made my meeting that day after a brief discussion with the other driver, the police, paramedics and a few other “concerned” citizens that were worried about us clearing the intersection. My meeting guys saw the blood and the no glasses on my face and said, “What the heck happened?” “I said, well I was just making a left turn, when………”
I survived that crash. My car didn’t. Had my pregnant wife been with me in the passenger seat that morning most likely she or my unborn son might not be with us today. It was that bad of a collision.
How can out life be changed so quickly and drastically with a simple left turn?
As I look back on that day and survey the many days of my life since that time, I can tell you I’ve had and seen many other “Left Turns” in my and countless other lives. Can you recall those times when your world changed in an instant? Was it a phone call? Was it a birth or death you witnessed? Was it coming home to an empty house unexpectedly? Or maybe it was that day you were called into the boss’s office for some bad news?
My bride and I were discussing just last night how many of our friends, co-workers and others we’ve known of the past couple of years who’ve had some drastic and even fatal left turns. Often without any warning, we’ve seen settled lives get toppled in an instant. Is it that we are just getting older and everyone around us is too, or does it seem that problems for all of us are mounting up like pending storms?
Regardless of why, we will ALL have LEFT turn(s) in our lives. It is just part of the human experience. How, oh how, do we prepare for such events and drastic changes? I think we can’t. We just have to live our lives in such a way that we keep our “bags packed” to some degree. Bags packed thinking also means we need a level of faith and trust in our creator God that He is the one that is ultimately in control of our lives. If you don’t believe this to be true, I surely wish you would consider seriously trusting Him for your own destiny. He’s the one whose set my life back on the road after many, many left turns. He is working out his will in our lives and HE is good ALL the time!

November 2nd, 1973

The day it all began for us
Today we celebrate 38 years of marriage.  Wow, has time flown! Seems like only a couple of months ago that we celebrated 25 years.
We were so young and innocent. But that’s not so bad. We, together, lost our innocence as life happened. And boy did it happen. I could dwell for hours tell about what we’ve “gone through” together. Admittedly, life was tough for way too many years. But life has a way of being that way. Some parts of our lives are brought about by choices we make. Others might be “chance” or “circumstance”. Or are they really?
Details are not important, but the big picture is important. The woman that God brought into my life and the person she was and is today is the important part of the big picture. She is my rock and my joy at the end of the day, everyday. She deserves much more than I’ve been able to provide her. She is my crown and my joy. She is a Proverbs 31 woman. (look it up).
When we joined our hearts and lives together  (even at our teen ages!) we made the commitment to each other that the “D” word would never be in our vocabulary. We were and still are committed to each other. All in. Sewed up. Sealed and delivered. Anything other than a complete life together would never be acceptable. …for better or for worse.
Having said that, there have been issues and events in our 38 years that have tried desperately to destroy us and the life we have. But the commitment we made and the love that we share transcend “issues” , “challenges” and time.  I must tell you that the basis of our love and commitment began on the foundation of commitment to our faith in God. He has been the one that has given us everything we have together. And that list is a long one.
Somewhere along the way we picked up 3 munchkins. What can you really say about your children in a public forum? I will attempt it since I am not ashamed. And the reason is because what I tell you about each of them is a good story. They are each one in their own ways, amazing adults full of faith, creativity and joyous life. We cherish each one. They have been a cosmic glue that God gave to help hold us all altogether. And to add joy to fullness, we have a daughter-in-law and son-in-law that we adore and consider them our own.
Now for some icing on this cake. Grandkids!!! Our quiver of  blessing grew this summer  with the addition of 2 little princesses. Verbal explanation about what these little girls mean to me (us) cannot expressed. All I can say is “wow” I (we) love these little gifts from heaven.
Life’s road has leveled out for us a bit. There are still bumps in the lane, but we take them as they come. Surely there will be more obstacles as we grow old, but we’ll take each day  we have and attempt to live our lives “to the full”.  We laugh a lot now. And when we do cry, they are worthy tears.    
So for those of you who are not yet married, don’t fall prey to society telling you it doesn’t work. And when you give it a go make the commitment ahead of time to stay the course. Finish the race. The rewards greatly outweigh the risks. Commit your marriage and life to our great God. He will see you through it all. We owe it all to Him.  
Doll, I love the life we have together. It is getting sweeter all the time. Let’s try for 38 more years!       
Love,
JWH (Jimmy)

What’s next……?

   
Reflecting on the past couple of weeks I’m reminded of people in my life who are gone now, but never forgotten. My two most recent losses went way out of their way to scacrifice for and build into my life. First was my mom. She and my Dad  took me in as a young child and did what they had to do at very diffcult time. This was not done out out of a sense of duty but with hearts full of love and compassion.
As we laid my friend to rest on Saturday, I saw many people at the memorial who were in one way or another inter-connected. The common factor was Jeff. Some were family, some were friends like me, some were colleagues and employees, some were teachers of his children, and then there were a number of men whose lives had been impacted in a positive way as a result of one of Jeff’s passion. And that was the passion of leading someone to the beginning of faith or to a deeper walk with God’s Son Jesus.
Jeff had a number of other passions too. A very obvious passion was photography, as evidenced by photo after photo shown in the video presentation at the service. Jeff must have had the single largest personal photo collection of anyone I’ve ever known. There are literally maybe a hundred or more volumes of photos of each of his children. I mean a whole long wall of albums. Jeff was truly a photo buff. I recall seeing a photo in his home of himself when he was maybe 9 or 10 years old. And what was around his neck? A camera. And the irony is that Jeff was color blind.
When do you do your best thinking? Strangely enough I do mine at two different times. One is in the middle of the night when I should be purring nicely. My mind starts racing and I have to get up and record my thoughts or loose them. The other time I get good information is when I am mowing my yard. I give myself a lot of advice when I mow. It may be the fumes or the heat but I get real clarity when I’m doing this. As I was receiving my self counseling session over the weekend in 96 degree heat. The thoughts that kept invading my pea brain is this. What long lasting effects do our inter-connections or  relationships have on other people?   
I’ve seen example upon example from others, of what NOT to do. And this runs the gammut from fathers, to employers and even so called friends in my 58 years. I’ve witnessed (and I’m sure you have too) time after time men (and women) who slander, insult, deride, berate and generally disregard the diginity and basic goodness of other people. They leave a path of destruction behind them and many times could care less. Who treated you that way? Are you endeared to them now?
We’ve also all seen good and even wonderful examples of people who live out the “golden rule”. They treat others with respect and care. They look for the good in people instead of looking for and maginfying the bad. We admire and respect people like this, don’t we?  We hope that we will be like them.
But my question to us all is this. Are we really becoming who we admire? Are we following in the footsteps of that Dad, Grandad, Mother or friend that carved out a good path in front of us? Have we succumbed to the way of the world and seek only what is good for ourselves?
I suggest that we all take a long hard look at ourselves. If you’ve seen something in the life of Jeff or others that you’ve admired, start being like that wonderful attribute you’ve witnessed. Call someone and see how they are doing. Challenge them to greatness. There might even be a time when you need to call someone out. But even this can be done with care and in a loving way. I appreciate all the more when people care enough about me to tell me I am doing something wrong. And especially when I know they are doing this because they REALLY do want the higher good in my life and love me. Isn’t this the same purpose that we discipline our children?
As our lives go forward, let us all live our lives intenionally. Love others like today is your last. Complete tasks as if you won’t have a second chance. Treat your wife and kids with loving care. Teach them by the example with your own words and actions. Make sure there is enough evidence to convict you of loving people.
I will have more to say about Jeff later, but for now I will end by saying this. Jeff cramed more into his 47 years than most of us could handle in several lifetimes. And he did so full tilt, wide open, and usually sliding in sideways to a stop. He lived life to the full. He loved his wife and kids. He cherished life. Let’s do the same. Be inter-connected.