Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do I Matter

What a sad cry for help.  It speaks of despair and loneliness; of aloneness and desperation. 

It’s spoken where injustice reigns.
It’s spoken at the gas pump when prices soar above $4 a gallon.
It’s spoken on the streets when craving for that next fix.
It’s spoken late at night by a child forced to do unspeakable things.

We cry “Do I Matter?”
We SHOUT it.
We whisper it

Yet it still comes out as …

Do     I     Matter? 

If I could, I would wrap my arms of love and compassion around everyone who has ever uttered this cry.  I would bandage up their wounds, both visible and invisible, and whisper softly in their ear, “Yes, you matter.  You matter to me, and you matter to the God of the universe.” 

You matter.

Yes, you matter a lot.

Always remember this:
God knows where you are every moment of the day.
He never loses track of you.
He never takes his eye off you.

And there are some good and wholesome organizations that have become the hands of God who care too.  They would love to reach out to you and wash your wounds.  Feed your stomach.  Nourish your body.  And offer a healing touch, a comforting word, a place of solace, even if only for the night.

Do I matter?

Yes, you do matter.  Maybe your plight is not as desperate as those described above.  Maybe you live in a modern home, have lovely furnishings, stylish clothes, and the latest cell phone.  Do you sometimes wonder if you matter to anyone?

Perhaps you are older now.  Retired, yet with a mind that is still active and able to reason, create and contemplate.  But no one reaches out to you any longer.  Do you matter?

Yes you matter.  As long as you take a breath you shall matter in this world.  Your significance is not diminished simply because you have aged.  You are, therefore you are significant.

We all are searching for a place to plug into.  Where do we belong? 

Oprah Winfrey says that every person alive simply wants to be validated.  We need, we want, we crave that stamp of approval that says “You, the skinny kid with the dirty tennis shoes. Yes you.  You matter to me.  You belong to me.  You are mine and I’m proud of you.”

So how can we validate others? 

-We can look each other in the eyes when we talk.
-We can value time spent together as more important than any TV 
  show, electronic game, or cell phone activity.
-We can listen with our ears and our hearts and offer empathy, 
  compassion.  Sometimes, just being heard is enough.
-We can avoid preaching a sermon.  That’s the last thing 
  needed by someone in desperate need of validation. 

People simply need to be validated. 

You need to be validated. 
You matter.  You are important.
You are created in the image of God, and as Ethel Waters, gospel singer, once remarked, “God don’t make junk.”

          You are a valued jewel.
      You are precious in God’s sight.
  You are somebody!

  You are somebody important.
      Somebody of value.
          Somebody of worth.
             Somebody with skills and a destiny.
                Somebody worth knowing.

You are valued simply because you exist.

“DO I MATTER” you ask?

Yes, you certainly do.

You matter!!!

A lot.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Parachute

Charles Plumb was a U.S. navy jet pilot in Vietnam.  After seventy-five combat missions his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile.  Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy territory.  He was captured and spent six years in a communist Vietnamese prison.  He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb!  You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk.  You were shot down!”

“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.

“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.  Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude.  

The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!”  Plumb assured him, “It sure did.  If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”   

Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man.  Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat, and bell-bottom trousers.  I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said, ‘Good morning, how are you?’  After all, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.”

Plumb thought of the many hours this sailor had spent at a wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.

Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?”  

Everyone has someone who provides a needed ingredient to help them make it through another day.  

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important.  We may fail to say hello, please, thank you.  We pass up opportunities to congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them.  We miss chances to give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason.  

We are connected.  You do know that, right?  Whether I meet some of my readers face to face or not, we are connected nevertheless. 

I’m all about making connections and re-connections at this point in my life.  Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are wonderful tools for helping us with this reconnecting experience. 

People who played major roles in my life and were forgotten a few years ago are now vivid in my memory again, simply because of the reconnect. 

Some of these individuals packed my chute and I had a hand in packing other’s chutes.  The cycle continues. 

To you, my friend, my family members, and my cherished inner circle of friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for carefully packing my chute.  I have had a few bumps along the way, and so have you, but I’m floating relatively safely and securely, thanks to your careful hand in my life at the times I needed your hand the most.

We have had our chutes packed in dozens of ways.
-A skill taught that has stood the test of time
-A word spoken at the precise moment it is needed
-A life modeled before me of integrity and respect
-An act of kindness when I was down on my luck
-A job offer when I was down to my last dollar
-An encouraging word when all else I heard was put-downs and negative nonsense

I could add a dozen more examples. 

Think about your life.  Add your own experiences. 

Above all, reach out to someone who has packed your parachute.  Call them.  Extend to them the gift of kindness, thanks, appreciation and a re-connect. 

It’s yet another way of packing someone else’s chute.

Thursday, August 11, 2011



The stuff of life. 

We need it to live. 
We need it go grow. 

It has been said that mankind can live …
--Forty days without food
--Four minutes without air
--Four seconds without hope. 

I want to offer hope in the form of words to those around me. 

What if you had it in your power to give someone hope, and it wouldn’t cost you a dime? 


Would you give it?

Would you give a “dying” person hope?

Of course you would.

Listen carefully!  Lean in and let me whisper in your ear.

Words bring oxygen!

Did you get that?

                    Words bring oxygen!

Let’s try one more time.


The stuff of life is found in words. 

Words nurture the soul.
   Words encourage the spirit.
      Words offer hope for one more day.
         Words heal.
         Words inspire.
            Words bring one back from the brink.
         Words restore relationships.
      Words release tension.
   Words renew relationships.
Words sometimes can make the difference between life and death.

So, let’s brush up on our vocabulary with some oxygen-generating words of hope and help. 

Somebody in your world right now is waiting for your words, your supply of fresh air that only you can offer. 

Breathe into them life-sustaining words.

Here are some oxygen-giving words that just might make a difference – for you today, or for someone in your life.

-I believe in you.
-You’re going to make it.
-You can do better next time.
-I see such potential in you.
-I have high hopes for you.
-I know your heart, and it is a good heart.
-You are a great one in the making.
-What a creative person you are.  I love that about you.
-You can accomplish that impossible task.  Just hang on a little longer.
-I see a winner in front of me.
-I love you just as you are.
-I’m so proud of you.
-I know this is a tough spot you are in.  Let’s see if I can help get you out.
-I’ve got your back.  You can count on me.
-God cares.
-God is near.
-You are closer than you think.
-Believe in the possibility.
-Believe in a God who believes in you.

Go.  Breathe into someone.  The word “inspire” means to “breathe into” someone.

Be an inspiration.

Spread the oxygen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What's in a Word?

I believe in the power of the right word spoken at the right time.  Do you?

I write about this topic often; partly because my imprint, my website and my blog is all about Up-Words.  I want to write to offer hope, encouragement and inspiration one word at a time.

Words Penetrate
Words seep down into a person’s heart and inner consciousness and lie there allowing a person to think about them, mull them over and cogitate on what has been said long after they were originally uttered. 

That is all about the power of the subconscious mind.  Psychologist and author Dr. Denis Waitley notes that the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between a real and an imagined experience.  It only accepts what is offered.  The subconscious makes no judgment on what it experiences.  It accepts what is offered.

I can remember certain words that have penetrated straight to my heart down through my years of living.  Some have been good and wholesome.  Others have hurt, yet I recall them.

Here are a few:

“Get away from that thing, boy.  You don’t know nothin about machinery.”
“Michael, what are you pretending not to know?”
“I love you and the way you care for me.”  (Spoken by Carolyn to me on many occasions)

May you and I speak good and wholesome words that will penetrate deep down into the inner sanctum of a person’s soul and heart, and may they lie there and be discovered over and over again. 

Good, wholesome, kind, nurturing and healing words of grace and love. 

Words Liberate
The right words can set a heart free.  Guilt, remorse, regret and a sense of lose can be turned into gladness, joy, hope, faith, fullness. 

The scriptures are full of such power words and phrases. 
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“I will be with you wherever you go.”
“I AM!”
“For God so loved that he gave …”
“Come unto me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
“You are forgiven. Go and sin no more.”

My goodness.  I feel as if I’ve been to a majestic cathedral somewhere and heard from God himself, and all I’ve done is sit here at a desk with no one around and let my mind wander down this track.

I feel liberated just by typing these words on this screen. 

Words Elevate
I’ve heard and read numerous stories of men and women who have had a dramatic turn-a-round experiences simply because of a few words spoken by someone who crossed their path.

One man was put on the path of regaining his self-respect simply because a businessman noted how he had neatly tied his shoe laces.

I know a lady who was elevated one day when someone saw her do something less than respectable and simply commented, “You are better than that.”

When people see the better side of us, even though we don’t always show it, and offer a word of encouragement and hope, we experience that elevated feeling that says “Yes, I can see that for me.” 

Words Illuminate
I am a reader.  I read somewhere between 15 and 60 books every year.  Words in these books and magazines often illuminate my path.  I am in constant search for the next great blog idea or chapter for the book I’m writing.  I find these nuggets in all kinds of places and all kinds of material. 

“I Approve of Myself” was found in a magazine.
The idea for this blog came from a book I read recently.
The scriptures are full of illumination. 
Friends toss words my way often and these words of hope have proven to be illuminating in my life.

Now, I’m seeking for ways to illuminate other’s pathway as well.

Words Rejuvenate
Words bring new life to old and dead bones. 
Words heal. 
Words restore. 
Words build up.
Words give one meaning.
Words repair the damaged soul.
Words offer grace in a sometimes graceless world.

May your words do the work of healing and restoration in the lives of those you meet.  There is power in the right word spoken at the right time.