Saturday, October 26, 2013

Love the Chill

Good morning on this very cool still dark morning with a busy day in front of me.  This has  been a pretty good week and many things are running through my brain this morning.  One thing that still amazes me is about dreams.  I have always dreamed when I sleep but the amazing thing for me is that now being retired from Goodyear over ten years, ninety plus percent of my dreams are still Goodyear-central.  I have pondered the why and the what of that but, of course, there is no definitive answer but it makes me realize that what is truly foremost in your life, your drives, your aims, burns into the hard drive of the mind that apparently is indelible over time.  There are some real lessons to this fact I am seeing each night for the most part in my own life and mind.
So I guess the question that begs to be asked is; what is central in your life?  A friend once told me if you want to know what is important to a person, look in the trunk of their car.  That sounds a bit weird but go check in the truck of you car and see if it mirrors what is important to you. I know, right now, in the back of my car is a music stand, three books of song lyrics and probably ten CDs. Hum, what does that say?  So I challenge you to visit your trunk this morning for some inventorying and then step back to do a deep assessment of what is important in your life.
I think much about my nearly four decades of global work with Goodyear; a Company I dearly loved from the first day at the Gadsden, AL plant in 1967 to my last day in 2003. I can count on only one hand the number of days and nights I longed to not be there so I realize I did love what I do.  But then, what is important to us is what we love to do, isn't it?
It is my belief that it is good to truly love what you do especially if what you are doing is utilizing the gifts God has provided you.  People that know me in the last decade know I love to sing. I realize in retrospect that for far too many years I loved to sing for the joy of singing and ego feeding.  I further, now, realize that using God's gift for God's glory will always manifest itself is a much richer and deeper sense of worth and value than simply feeding one's ego.  I sang at another funeral Thursday morning and was unbelievably honored to be ask to be part of a home going celebration. Having done that now many times, it is still such a blessing to see how the song is soothing and lifting spirits that are hurting, pained and worried about what happens now. I get to be part of something good and that makes it all more good; a synergy I guess you could call it.
There is so much in our world today that makes you, at times, want to throw up your hands in disgust and just ignore it. Deaths on the news of children, young teachers, mass shootings, suicides are horrific but we are becoming, I fear, deadened to the real awfulness of such acts for they are coming more frequently it seems.  We are in a fallen world and have been for centuries so why should we think it gets better before the return of Christ, right?  I realize more and more that some of you reading that will say I am just an old relic of an era now gone, Bible-thumper, etc but age means nothing to the reality of God's Word for that Word is immutable.
I want, so badly, for my dream menu to be changed away from my Goodyear world to a new place where I can awake having enjoyed a memory of seeing a person's life changed or a remaining spouse or child flourish from the values borne from the love of the person now gone.  That is what I want to be dreaming about and not long days and nights in faraway places, jet lag and politics of the work. 
So on this still dark, cold morning, I wish you the best in the week ahead as Christmas churns toward us and all the craziness of that wonderful, precious with family and friends.  We are working diligently on our Christmas cantata at church, even this morning for two hours, and cannot wait to be part of the blessing of singing this wonderful piece for I learned it now two years ago. And On Earth, Peace, is a beautiful selection of songs beautifully arranged into the story of the birth of the Christ child.  Maybe I will start to dream about that!
Be blessed this weekend and thank you for taking the time to be part of my life through my words. By the way, each of you are a blessing to me so thank you!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Calming by the Moon

The American people and the world markets have been under another blanket of worry, fear, concern and doubt by the 24/7 media circus of our political leadership and their corporate ineptitude and callous disregard for We the People. Yes, I said that for not one of them is exempt in my slamming comment this early Saturday morning. I have a great lawyer friend that loves to speak in third person analogy about clowns, circuses with colorful names and iron fisted comments with this flawed silk glove covering plastered on FB but he is really more right that wrong.  You are welcome Mr. S.
Me, with this insatiable need to understand why things happen as they do, have been in a hyper drive of exasperation with the whole spectacle ignited more from our enemies both foreign and domestic seeing the weakness of this once great nation thus rendering us more vulnerable to their whelms and evil desires.  But then an amazing, God-sent gift was presented Earth last night and I believe to my heart specifically with that unbelievably beautiful moon.  As I gazed upon it returning home from Alliance, OH last night, I was simply staggered at its simplistic yet magnetic hold of my heart at that moment in time.  Believe me, that is a most unique experience for me but it was so calming and warming made more calming and warming, I would imagine, by the craziness of this week.
As I pulled into my driveway last night I actually slowed down for a moment to get one more look and then stared at it even more once in the garage.  The majesty that only God could create the ball of beauty and present it to me at a time when I did not realize I needed that gift was staggering.  We so easily and far too often forget or oversight the phenomenal gift of Creation God wrought upon His people.  To see the beauty in a smile, a tear from a deep hurt, a sign of relief from an embedded concern, to enjoy the taste of food in a very special way and time uniquely, to find great joy in a word of encouragement or a hug, a handshake sincerely given by someone who really cares, a card of thanks, a requested song through tears and have no idea the hurt or need that person is feeling .... all those and a million other Man-expressions to others are as powerful as the moon God gave us to enjoy last night.
Posting on FB last evening about 9 pm Eastern time in the US about that moon and to begin receiving response from South Africa, Turkey, Japan, Poland, etc, from friends I have throughout the world about that same moon only added to the glorious reality that God reigns everywhere, all the time! With things going on our lives, in my family that create concern and worry, to know we have a God that is immutable, never absent, wants the best for each of us and the most valuable component of that list is that we deserve none of it is, well, beyond value!
A simple song that was part of The Daily Bread devotional for this morning says:
Oh yes, He cares; I know He Cares
His heart is touched by my grief
When the days are weary and the long nights dreary
I know my Savior cares
The name of that great George Beverly Shea song is, Does Jesus Care.  I have sung that song many times and each time I come away touched by its powerful message.  The moon in my life last night millions got to enjoy as well was an exclamation point on a great knowledge that my Jesus does truly care in the good times and the bad, on the hill tops and in the rugged valleys.  Our quartet, The Pathway Quartet sung a concert Thursday night at a local assisted living facility. The audience was filled but it was especially filled with elderly people that loved the music but loved the fact that we for an hour got to feel the blanket of God's love through our songs and words. We were all especially blessed for our brother, Norm Farley that sings the tenor part, to show up and sing some of the songs with us; we were all in tears at the wonder of it all! What a blessing!
I will close with thanking God for His gift to me last night with that moon that got my mind and heart off the stench of the week and onto the sweet aroma of His Love for each of us.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"How Can I Change Your Day"

There have always been short comments invented by commercial or conversation when greeting a person or in saying adieu to a person. The infamous, "have a nice day" by McDonald's is a great example.  I am sure each of you can come up with fifteen of those short comments in two minutes. I find things like that intriguing and the measure of their effectiveness is twofold:  what is said and how it is said with the true assessment by me in answer to the question, "thank you, I like that!"
Recently I was speaking with a receptionist, actually calling this assisted living facility to speak with someone, and when this lady answered the phone, you could feel the smile on her face as what seemed the sun had just rose above the horizon. She sounded happy and made me feel the same and then she said, "how may I help you change your day."  Those eight words still resound in my head when I see the continuing angst that is television or encounter someone I know that is struggling or worried and in this subliminal voice I am thinking, "how may I help you change your day."
As this government shutdown continues and the media globally is abuzz with the doomsday predictions of generational disaster, like many Americans, we are simply growing numb to the noise.  I watched the veterans demonstrate in front of the White House about being barred from their memorials and, sure enough, the politicians could not get a mic in their hands quick enough for the cameras to cast disdain at all those "other" politicians. Then reality comes in the door ... all the politicians are part of the problem including Cruz and Paul and, you fill in the blank for the rest.  Five hundred thirty-sive in Congress plus pone POTUS is a right first step to assess blame.  
My heart is saddened that the world is mocking our nation and frankly, rightly so. Our enemies are plotting more fervently I am sure in this period of cancerous ineptitude.  Our national mores and values continue to decline via drugs, addictions, corruption, broken or nonexistent homes with little to no parental examples to be adopted.  As a nation we have blatantly turned from God toward ourselves and our gratification.  The very fabric of our nation is wearing thinner by the day. People outside America no longer fear America nor our arm of defense, our military.
We see China gaining strength politically, economically, diplomatically and militarily daily. Russia is now more and more influential than they were before the Cold War not because they have gotten stronger or certainly better but because American has gotten weaker and more corrupt.  Never in my life could I have imagined our nation in the state it now resides. There is more than enough blame to go around for each of us so I am not positing venom toward anyone or anything but this is a day we should all stand in front of our mirrors and question ourselves as to how we let this happen to us or it is we, after all,  that determine our ultimate destiny as a nation and as individually when we look at life past this life into eternity; a choice!
"How may I help you change your day..." has a ring to it and it is like someone saying to me when I ask a question, "thank you for asking", I like that for some reason for it resounds of sincere kindness. We are losing or sense of kindness toward each other I realize more and more.  I believe we a people are as social with each other as we once were. Social media does not count for I am talking about face-to-face dialog, sincerely seeking to know how someone is doing or feeling. Why is that important? It is important for people still want to know other people care and a LIKE or an UNFRIEND are not the medium to determine how a relationship is going or not; that is just sad but so true.
If we want to change someone's day, that begins at the heart and not the movement of air through a vocal cord.  I have come to realize more fervently in singing so much in assisted living facilities how a few songs sung from the heart, a few moments talking with each of the people that have come, watching their faces with smiles and tears are signs that someone's day has been changed. How succinct and yet how wonderful that is, isn't it?
I will close as this day begins with a statement of sincere belief in our nation and its people; that would be us.  I believe we can be a great nation again only if we return to the teachings of our God that created us.  Never have I been more convinced of that.  When I see thousands of examples in students or prison inmates coming into my presence with no real value system due to their upbringing; it is very saddening to me for the scarring is clear.  If children are not provided example, good example, where will they learn about values? From others that in many cases only wish to take advantage of that person is the depository for those values most of which are negative in nature.  When men and women seek to find a mate to marry, they are looking for traits they saw in their mothers and fathers so if neither are there or if the examples are wrapped in drugs, addictions, etc, where will the traits be learned?
It is my hope that my blog this day will cause each of you to pause and reflect on my heartfelt words.  I believe it is all our challenge each day to seek to change someone's day in a very positive direction. A call, a card, a smile, a word most of the time is all that is required and the lasting impression remains for a long time. I think the sad testimony of all of this today is that we are losing our sense of love and respect for each other and hiding behind that reality via keystroke on a computer, electronic thank you cards, LIKE, etc,  I am recommitting myself to doing less of that and more face-to-face, kinetic interface with our fellow inhabitants in our rapidly changing global village. Join me, please!