Thursday, December 30, 2010

Words of Action for 2011

2011 looms large on the horizon. New Year’s resolutions are well and good, but I want to talk about a different way of thinking and planning for this New Year. I simply want you to focus on a word or phrase that resonants with your heart and mind; words that you can adopt for this New Year. Make it something meaningful that will help give you new and fresh marching orders.

Here are a few suggestions.

-I will act now.
  -I am a controlled person.
    -I wisely save a portion of every pay check.
      -I seek only good wholesome thoughts for my mind.
        -I see the best in every person I meet.
        -I will increase my value to my family and my work place.
      -I approve of myself.
    -I am confident in my God-given abilities.
  -I will greet each person with kindness and a smile on my face.
-I will successfully plan my week for full productivity.

If you are of a religious persuasion, you surely have a dozen or more scriptural verses you can tap into as well. I know I have my own favorites. Some examples are Jeremiah 29:11 and Joshua 1:9.

One of my life-phrases this year will be “I Will ACT NOW.” When Carolyn asks me to do something specific she will find me responding rapidly.  When I am requested to do anything for anyone and I can feasibly perform that task, I will act now. This includes everything from taking out the trash, washing the car, filling the gas tank, washing windows, cleaning the bathroom and a dozen other requests that she may ask of me.

And when one of my readers asks for a special assignment for their sales team, I will respond immediately and set out to complete the requested project in a timely manner. By now you can see how the simple motto of I WILL ACT NOW can impact your life and everyone around you in positive ways.

I could write page after page on the above suggestions but you don’t need that from me. You get it.

So, now it’s time to get busy. Give some thought to the words, phrases and thoughts that you might adopt this year as your mantra, your marching orders or whatever handle you might put on this.

I would love to hear from you as to the words and phrases you choose for your life. Would you write to me?

Words of action do make a difference. I promise.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Story of Silent Night

In 1817, 25 year-old Joseph Mohr was assigned to the position of assistant priest at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria. As a lover of music since his childhood, Joseph was placed in charge of the music used at the small church and he even wrote poems and song lyrics for special services.

In 1818, during a particularly cold winter, Mohr was making last-minute preparation for a special Christmas Eve service that had been planed for months. Everything was in place, the music, the message, everything. But as he cleaned and readied the sanctuary, he encountered an unfathomable dilemma; St. Nicholas’ organ wouldn’t play. A frantic Mohr struggled with the old instrument for hours, making adjustments, fiddling with keys, stops and pedals, even crawling behind the console to see if he could find a problem. Yet the organ remained silent, its voice as still as a dark winter’s night.

Realizing he could do nothing else, the priest paused and prayed for inspiration. He asked God to show him a way to bring music to his congregation on the year’s most meaningful day of worship. His answer was found in events that had been initiated almost two years earlier.

In 1816, while assigned to a church in another village, Mohr had written a Christmas poem. The six unadorned stanzas were inspired on a winter’s walk from his grandfather’s home to church. Though he had shared the words with a few friends, the priest had never sought to have the work published nor attempted to come up with a melody to go with his words.

Digging Silent Night from his desk, Mohr read over the words two years later. Up until that moment the verses hadn’t seemed very important, but as he read them again, it was as if the Lord was tossing him a lifeline of hope. Encouraged by new and unfolding expectations, he shoved the worn paper into his coat pocket and rushed out into the night.

On that same evening, 31 year-old schoolteacher Franz Gruber was struggling to stay warm in his drafty apartment over the schoolhouse. Though he had once studied with a renowned organ master of his day, he now played organ only for St. Nicholas’ modest services. As he went over notes from one of his lessons, he heard a strong, insistent knock on his door. To his surprise there stood Father Mohr.

After a quick “Merry Christmas,” the agitated priest explained the problem of the non-working organ, and the last minute thoughts of their approaching Christmas Eve Service.

Father Mohr finally pulled out the poem he had penned two years earlier and begged Franz Gruber to “please write music to these words that can be easily learned by our choir. And, without an organ, I guess the song will have to be played on a guitar.”

They both glanced at the mantle clock. “But time is so short!”

Studying the poem, Gruber set to work. Father Mohr, feeling confident that God somehow had a special plan for this Christmas Eve, hurried back across the snow to the church, leaving Franz Gruber alone with his thoughts, a ticking clock, and a prayer for inspiration.

A short time later, the two friends met at St. Nicholas. There in a candlelit sanctuary, Gruber showed his new music to Mohr. The priest approved, and after learning the guitar chords, rushed it to the choir members who were waiting for their scheduled rehearsal. In very short order, Gruber taught the choir members the four-part harmonies to the last two lines of each verse.

Just after midnight, Mohr and Gruber stood in front of the main altar and introduced their simple little song. As they sang, they couldn’t have guessed that Silent Night! Holy Night! would be remembered not only the next Christmas in their small village, but almost two hundred years later, around the world.

(The original source of this story is long lost in my files.  If you know the origin of this story, would you please contact me so that I may give proper credit.  Thank you.)

Merriest Christmas of all to you and your love ones everywhere.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

When Love Was Enough At Christmas

In my past Christmas traditions giving and receiving gifts have always been a huge part of the whole experience. We were not considered a rich family by any means but there always seemed to be an abundance of presents under the tree and everyone, including me, garnered a large portion of gifts just for themselves.

My first taste of a decline in Christmas gifts happened in1990. This was my first Christmas as a single man after being married for a bunch of years. I celebrated with some of my family who lived in Dallas. I remember writing in my journal the sum total of Christmas gifts received that year: a lighthouse painting from my sister and brother-n-law, a shirt from my nephew and his family, and a gift certificate from my work place.

As I reflected back on Christmas ’90 in my journal I felt blessed, not wanting for anything and grateful for my life, my health and my family.

The year of 2008 was a serious transition year for Carolyn and me. I was faced with a declining market in real estate sales and forced to seek employment via other means. Money was tight for much of that year. When Christmas rolled around, we managed to spend a small amount of money on gifts for others in our family and a couple of close friends, but I had to break the unfortunate news to my wife that I felt we did not have any extra money to buy Christmas gifts for each other.

My beautiful wife Carolyn is a winner. She demonstrated such support when I broke that news to her and said some wonderfully reassuring words to the effect that “we will get through this, after all, we have each other.” I could tell she meant it.

I wondered how we would mark Christmas morning in a memorable and meaningful way without the excitement of exchanging gifts and all that goes with it.

and relationship by sharing a unique Christmas morning that is now a fond memory and will be cherished for a lifetime.

We got up Christmas morning, put on a large pot of coffee, lit a fire in the fireplace and sat side by side on the sofa in the shadow of our small but lovely Christmas tree. I read story after story about Christmas from a storybook we have in our family library.

There were times when we shed tears as I read, and I’ll admit it was painful and a bit sad at times, but we held tightly to each other, hand in hand, side by side, hearts united, and holding onto our love for each other. That Christmas, we discovered that our love was more than enough for any season.

Wow, a love that is enough.

What an incredible thought!

I hope you experience a love that is enough this Christmas.

-That love is demonstrated in the babe in the manger.
-It shows up in the joyful sounds of the season,
  both the secular and the religious.
-It shows up in the lights and bling of the decorations.

And it shows up in love expressed for one another.

Call somebody. Offer words of love.

There is enough love that unfolds in the Christmas story for all of us. Christmas is giving gifts for sure, but it is more you know. It is ultimately a love story.


     It’s all about
                     and redemption,
                          and hope.

The Giver of the gift has more than enough love for each one of us.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Hope

There are some things that you just know and understand deep down. I knew from the first moment that I met Carolyn that we would at least have a second and third date. I hoped for more, but I sort of knew that much.

I knew as a boy growing up in Tennessee that I could count on a new belt from my grandmother every Christmas. She never failed me, for as many years as she was alive and able to give gifts.

And then sometimes I had huge hopes for Christmas. Not certainties you understand, just hopes. I remember the year I hoped for a new bicycle. On Christmas morning, there it sat; red fenders, white seat, shiny and new. Wow! Oh, to be a kid again.

I know what Carolyn hopes for this Christmas. And I’m gonna do my best to meet and exceed her hopes, but don’t tell her. Shhhhh.

I know of others who have hopes and dreams for this year’s Christmas season. Some hope for reconciliation with a loved one. I pray their hope becomes reality.

I know a family that has a few more bills than bucks this Christmas. They are hoping for the miracle of more funds to fund their dreams and hopes.

Today I passed a man on a street corner. He appeared to be in his sixties. His sign said “Need a job or Groceries.” He is seeking a big helping of hope this Christmas. I hope he gets everything he has asked for.

Hope is one of the key words in the whole of celebrating Christmas. We all hope for something, don’t we?

-Retail stores hope for big cash register sales
-My granddaughter Adia hopes for some new doll that will complete her life.
-Greyson, my 3 year old grandson hopes for some kind of toy gun I suppose.
-I know a 22 year old young lady who is hoping for a sparkling ring to put on her left hand.

In the Biblical accounting of the Christmas story it was all about hope. The hope that was sought was in the form of a king who would come and redeem and restore all wrongs and deliver oppressed people from their oppressors.

Instead, Hope showed up in the form of a newborn baby whose first night on earth was spent in a barn. Now that’s not a very elegant way for a king to be welcomed to this world is it?

But nevertheless He brought hope. And He still brings hope.

Hope for healing.
     Hope for encouragement.
          Hope for financial relief. .
               Hope for a mended heart.
                    Hope in place of loneliness.

Hope is the essence of survival.

It has been said that a person can live ...
--Forty days without food.
--Four minutes without air
--Only 4 seconds with hope.

Hope keeps your future alive

What are your hopes for this Christmas season?

As long as you have hope life has meaning. With hope, we seem to be able to hold onto the threads of life a bit longer.

What better season than Christmas for us to hold onto hope. Embrace it. Picture your hope turning into reality.

Hold on to HOPE!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams

Close your eyes and tell me what you see when you dream of your future? What kind of work are you doing? Where do you live? What does your family life look like? What is your economic status?

Dreams are a good thing. Everyone dreams – some just take their dream to the next level. They dream in more vivid detail and dream on purpose. I want to be an on-purpose dreamer. Care to join me?

Here’s a quote for us to ponder: “The soul never thinks without a picture.”

Paint your picture of your future. Use splashes of bright orange, yellows, beautiful blues, pink and rose. Paint to your heart’s content, but paint your picture for your soul’s sake. Use a big bold canvass to do your painting on. Make it enormous so that the whole world can see it and rejoice in your dream. Paint it and own it.

A wise man once said “Once I see it I will be it.” We see it first in our mind’s eye, and then we move in the direction of our dreams and our dominant thoughts.

But we have to create a clear image of the end result. That is what empowers us toward achieving the desired end.

Carolyn and I just returned from a vacation to Disneyland. I am struck with the creativity we experienced time and time again as we strolled the theme park and saw the sights that Walt Disney and his team of dreamers first saw in their mind’s eye, and then converted into concrete, plaster and paint.

They saw it first in their imagination, and then turned it into reality. The same principle is true for you and I.

I love this quote.

“Only Those Who Can See the Invisible
  Can Accomplish the Impossible.”

Now, add the part about believing in your dreams and you are well on your way toward the accomplishment of those hopes and dreams.

It all starts with hopes and dreams. Then comes the doing. Dreams without action are like flowers without rain. They wither and die for lack of nourishment. Give your dreams feet and wings. Allow them to grow, run and soar to heights yet unseen, all because you dreamed and nourished the dream.

Can you spend four hours some morning on your dream? Go off by yourself, take a pen and paper, or your computer, get a nice cup of your favorite hot drink and sit and think about your dreams. I ask this question often: “What would I do if I knew I could not fail?”

The answer to this question will most likely give you a real sense of what beats inside of you and a sense of direction for your dominant thoughts and desires for your life.

Whatever the answer is, live with it for a while, write down all of the possibilities for a dynamic life in pursuit of this dream, and see where your thoughts take you.

Live the life you’ve imagined.”

Go confidently in the
direction of your dreams.

(Henry David Thoreau)