Thursday, April 28, 2011


What are your dreams? To what do you aspire?

I love what Norman Cousins once said. “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live.”

I want to be a believer in other people’s dreams. I want to be your greatest cheerleader. John Maxwell has some great advice for those of us who become cheerleaders of others dreams.

“Encouraging others in their pursuits of a dream is to give them a wonderful gift.
1. Ask them to share their dream with you.
2. Affirm the person as well as the dream.
3. Ask about the challenges they must overcome to reach their dream.
4. Offer your assistance.
5. Revisit their dream with them on a consistent basis.
6. Determine daily to be a dream booster, not a dream buster.
People will live up to their dreams when they have a chance to fulfill them.

Never allow yourself to become a dream killer.”
(From 25 Ways to Win with People, John C. Maxwell)

In Man of LaMancha, based on Cervantes’s classic work Don Quixote the protagonist, Don Alonzo pursues a life of chivalry and seeks to become a knight-errant long after that age of history has passed. He sees giants where others see windmills and quests where others see rabbit trails. He rescues a common prostitute named Aldonza, whom he sees as s beautiful lady. He calls her Dulcinea and makes her the object of his knightly exploits.

At first she resents him. She thinks he is mocking her, because she hates herself and her life. But with time, his vision of her replaces her own and gives her hope.

At the end of the story, Don Alonzo lies on his deathbed, and as he takes his last breath, Dulcinea thanks him for seeing in her what she could not see in herself.

I just watched the movie The Blind Side staring Sandra Bullock. It is the true story of how she and her family took in a street kid named Michael Oher and literally transformed his life. They rescued him from a life of loss and damnation and gave him a leg up on life and a chance.

That’s all – a chance.

Michael could have chosen to ignore this golden opportunity, but instead he embraced it. He hung in there, and with Leigh-Anne Tuohy’s steady hand and the consistent help of a tutor, he became not only a great football player but an honor student and a successful human being.

Michael dreamed, even as a kid, of escaping from the hell-hole he grew up in on the bad side of Memphis, and with the Tuohy’s help, found his way out.

Michael, like most of us, had aspirations and expectations

“Aspirations are goals/desires that are not weighted by the probability of success.
Expectations: Goals/desires that do factor in the probability of success.”
Stated by Jay MacLeod, at UW, Sociologist

So, what are your dreams?

What do you aspire to do or become?

          Dream your dreams.

Paint them vividly and in detail.

To lose a dream is a great loss.

Find ways to give your dreams feet and wings.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hope Is Alive in Tomorrow

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Today, I have more troubles than solutions.
 --Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I can’t do anything right.
 --Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I really screwed up with my wife.
 --Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I don’t feel great about my life.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, trouble abounds on every hand.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I have two left feet.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, the golf club felt like a heavy weight in my hands.
 --Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, the doctor said those nasty words no one wants to hear.
 --Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I felt abandoned, alone, and afraid.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I have more bills than bucks.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I’m having a bad-hair day.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, it appears nobody loves me.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, my kids are out of control.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I can’t give this stuff away, and I’m supposed to be an ace salesperson.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, the keys on my keyboard just sat and stared back at me.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I wish I lived somewhere else.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, God seems as far away as the moon.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, my world went flat.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, my dreams got shot full of holes.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I don’t think I can ever trust anyone again.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I just want to crawl in a hole and never come out again.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I got laid off.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, I was less than stellar in my craft.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, “I don’t love you” rang in my ears.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, they disconnected my utilities.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, the rent is due and …
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Today, the stock market sank so low I had to look over the edge to see it.
--Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.


What was it that Scarlet said?

Oh, yes. I remember now.

“After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Dawn is coming. Hope is alive in tomorrow.

Life is hard.

Gen. David Petraeus once said,

“Hard is not hopeless”.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Significant Life

In the course of living my life I’ve had some major influencers who have crossed my path. Their footprints loom large and deep. I am marked in good and wonderful ways for having known them.

Let me tell you about Wilbur. I first met him when I was living in Orlando, Florida. I was a young music minister still wet behind the ears and fresh out of college. Wilbur was the pastor of another church in town. His music minister, Ron, also a young buck, and I became good friends.

One day I dropped by Wilbur’s church to see my friend Ron. He and Wilbur were playing ping pong, and I soon found myself playing against Wilbur. He was a young and snappy thirty-nine year old at the time. I have replayed that day many times in my mind.

Wilbur was dressed in black slacks, blue shirt, striped tie and playing ping pong in his sock feet. He was quite good at the game, but what impressed me most was his acceptance of me as an equal. He didn’t talk down, or try to impress me with his stature. He accepted me. I belonged. I mattered for those moments I was in his presence.

Time passed, our lives took different twists and turns, but I seemed to always know where Wilbur was. He ultimately rose to a high ranking position within his church denomination and our paths crossed a few more time.

Every time I was with him, I experienced esteem, warmth and graciousness. He was Mr. Grace, Mr. Integrity in the flesh.

And now Wilbur is in his retirement years. We correspond on a regular basis. He follows my blogs and often responds with words that inspire and encourage me.

Wilbur has truly lived a significant life.

Today’s interaction on Facebook caused me to pause and reflect on his life and the lives of others that I could write about.

What grabbed me most is this; he has lived a large life, on purpose. And he keeps looking back for those that may be following to see if he can inject a word, a comment, an act of grace into their lives.

Wilbur was actively working until just a year ago. He was guiding young lives at my college alma mater; applying his touch on their lives in kindness, gentleness and usefulness.

Wilbur Brannon is still living a significant life, even though his mobility is not what it once was, and his heart wants to go places his body can’t take him.

There are thousands of Wilbur’s in this world. Perhaps one of them is your aging parent or grandparent.

So, what is their place in our world? What can they do now, given their present circumstances that might possibly make a difference? Maybe it is their turn to do a little receiving.

Maybe we need to reach out and remind some wonderfully influential person just how much they mean to us. Pause now and make a phone call. Write that note. Post a kind word on Facebook.

I believe in giving roses to the living. So to my friend Wilbur, thank you for your endurance, your faithfulness, for teaching so many of us valuable life concepts, and for your sustaining graces.

You have lived a significant life. And we are better for your having passed our way.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Things People Say

When I was in college I played drums for a musical group called “The Encounters.” After a concert one night a man in our audience made this remark about me.

“That drummer is going to hell.”

Can you imagine that? I was going to hell just because I played the drums.

What about other words and phrases that you and I have had directed our way down through the years? Have we given them validity, or have we successfully evaluated them and decided for ourselves that they bear no consideration in living our lives?

Words can hurt and words can also heal.

I want to offer words that heal. My bi-line is “offering hope, encouragement and inspiration one word at a time.”

Have you ever had any of these explosive, poisonous barbs thrown your way?
    “You’re ugly and nobody likes you”
  “You’re not cool. Leave. Go away.”
“You have no friends and you’re not important at all”
(These last six words/phrases were contributed by TJ and Josh, my grandsons – fresh stuff from today’s real world)

I was once given a T-shirt with this saying on it: “I must hurry and catch up to the others, for I am their leader.”

Oh, we laugh at that, but down deep inside, I cringed.

As a child I was told, "Leave that thing alone, boy. You don’t know nothin’ (Tennessee colloquialism) about machinery.”

All I was doing was watching an old reel-to-reel tape recorder with the tape spinning and the recording meter lights blinking. What a fascinating thing for this twelve-year-old boy.

Sometimes we gather these unfortunate labels like a bad smell. They cling to us.

So what do we do about these labels?

They play, sometimes endlessly, in our minds. Perhaps you heard one or two of these phrases this morning while getting ready for your day.

Space is limited for this subject, but I do want to say this to you. We must find some ways of laying down the heavy burden these words and phrases cast upon us.

It takes work, it takes reframing a better, truer image of ourselves.

It also takes self-forgiveness.

And on occasion we may need to seek professional counseling. If you find yourself in need of professional help, please seek it.

Remember this: Just because “they” said it doesn’t mean it is so!

Let me say that again.

Just because
said it
doesn’t mean
it is so!

The good news? I in no way see myself as clumsy, a lousy leader, or an incompetent. Who say’s “I don’t know "nuthin’" about machinery?”

I’ve had to redo some tapes that I once heard in my head.
I’ve erased some.
I’ve ignored others.

And in most cases I’ve created new and better tapes that I now play. They are good words of esteem, wholesome comments and beliefs about who I am.

You can do the same. You can recreate new and better tapes that you play in your head about yourself.

I heard Ethel Waters once say, “God don’t make junk.”

My friend, you and I are not junk. We are whole, creative, beautiful creatures of a loving God and we have stuff inside of us that is good and right.

Believe in your goodness. Create a new image of YOU!

What matters most is what you say to yourself; the conversations that go on between your two ears.

--Do you like yourself?
--Do you approve of yourself?
--Do you allow God to love you just as you are?

Say “YES” to YOU!

Let the new journey begin!