FAMILY

DucksFamily . . . don’t we just love them? Well, most of the time, even if there are some times when they flat-out drive us crazy! That’s normal, because we are so close to them they know what buttons to push and when to push them. I don’t want to focus on what they do to drive us crazy but instead on why we love them so much.

Family . . . they know our history. Good or bad, they know all about us: when we were born, where we were born, our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and all the other details of our life. The schools, neighborhoods, sports we played, clubs we belonged to and, seemingly, everything else about us.

Family . . . they know our religious background, education level and political views. They know if we’re conservative, liberal or moderate and why.

Family . . . they know if we’ve been married and how many times, who we hang out with and many of the other choices we’ve made throughout our lives.

Family . . . they know what career paths we’ve chosen and how long we’ve been at each. The reasons we changed course and why. Basically, our family knows more about us collectively than anyone else, and they really care about us!

Recently, I went to a family reunion and visited with family I hadn’t seen for over ten years. The oldest was my uncle, who is eighty-eight, and the youngest was a third cousin, four months old. It was great to see them and catch up on what’s happened in their lives the last decade. I’m ashamed to say that for one of my cousins, who traveled in from Colorado, I didn’t even know the names of his children or that he had become a grandpa. Everyone shared pictures and events, reminiscing for hours and laughing to the point of tears. The day flew by in what seemed minutes, not hours, and after hugs and kisses we promised we would do better at staying in touch the next decade than the previous one, parted and went our separate ways. It was an awesome day, one I won’t forget for a long time.

Family . . . don’t take them for granted, because we all age and someday they’ll all be gone. You can pick your friends, careers and many other things in life, but you can’t pick your family, and that’s a good thing!

Don’t procrastinate till it’s too late to pick up the phone and call that uncle or aunt, brother or sister, mom or dad, or even that cousin. Remind them how much you care, and don’t wait for an event to stir you to show your love. All families have issues, special circumstances and conflicts, but “We are family”: we forgive, forget and have unconditional love!

Family . . . it’s your family; make it the best family!

The Best Present – Depression Recovery Guide

My best present? I’m in my fifties, so I’ve had many birthdays and Christmases where I received gifts, and I received some very nice ones, so this may be difficult. Was it the pellet gun? toolbox? clothes? vacation? ping-pong table? The more I think about it, there isn’t one that stands out as the best. Maybe because gifts are just stuff. Yes, they’re fun to dream about having and when you unwrap them and hold them. But after a few days or weeks the newness wears off and they become possessions. They blend in with all the other gifts or items you’ve collected over the years and fall into the category of just stuff. Then after time they move from your bedroom to the closet to the basement or garage till one summer day you decide it’s time to include them in your annual garage sale where you sell them for a dollar or two. The items go from having meaning because they were given to you by someone special to the graveyard of meaningless stuff to be sold for a pittance because they’ve outlived their purpose.

I definitely have special moments in my life that fall into the category of great blessings, and I would say that they were gifts, like my wife. I don’t possess her or anything like that; however, I still remember the day she walked down that aisle in a white dress, smiling and willing to say “I do” when the minister asked her about becoming my wife. Consider her a gift? I don’t want to minimize her value, but I do thank God for bringing her into my life, and since God created her, and I was fortunate enough to meet her, I believe she has been a gift from God and therefore most precious. The blessings continue with two additional gifts, my son and daughter, and I thank God often for both of them. So, several of the best presents I ever received don’t fall into the category of any “stuff” but instead the family that God has blessed me with, a wife and two children.

How does a guy like me deserve to be so blessed? First of all, I don’t deserve anything so special; second, I don’t believe in fate or luck. So how did I happen to be so fortunate? I’m this fortunate or blessed because of the best and greatest gift ever given or received by anyone: the gift of salvation. I received this gift way back in August of 1975 when I realized I was lost and needed salvation from my sins to receive eternal life. I was only eighteen years old, confused and hungering to learn the meaning of life. When I heard about the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ, a lightbulb went on in my head, my heart felt heavy from sin and I realized the solution to my confusion was repentance, acceptance and faith. I repented of my sins, asked Jesus Christ for forgiveness, accepted Him as my Savior and believed that God created the world and gave his son Jesus for the remission of sins and that He would give me eternal life. That day Jesus Christ came into my heart and changed my life. The best and greatest present I ever received was the gift of eternal life from God that August in 1975, the gift that continues to give every day, week, month and year! God is my Heavenly Father, Jesus is my Savior and Brother. And every day has value and is worth living because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.

My greatest gift can become your greatest gift if you will pray and ask Jesus into your life. Repent of your sins, accept Jesus as your personal Savior and believe! You will become a new creature in Christ, and old things, habits and bad stuff will pass away. You will have a fresh start!

DREAM BIG

Dream Big

So often, due to our circumstances, we limit our future. I remember applying for a job right after college with a major financial institution. The job I was applying for was an entry-level sales position, and the sales manager asked me what type of work my family was engaged in and other questions related to my background. Where did my mother and father work, what about my aunts and uncles, where did I attend high school and where did I live? Did my family belong to any country clubs? I remember leaving the interview with an attitude of defeat. Later, the sales manager said my family, friends and circle of potential clients was too weak for their business model, so they would have to pass on hiring me. They used my socio-economic status as a measure of my abilities. Their mistake. I’m still here and they’re no longer in existence. (I’m not bitter. LOL.) I was twenty-five, married and had just gotten my college degree, I was excited and couldn’t wait to launch my career and here’s this guy telling me that because of my circle of family and friends, I wasn’t qualified. I felt defeated and angry at the same time! My dream of being a successful financial planner had gone up in smoke. That was 1982; our country was going through some difficult times and I was collateral damage. At another job interview shortly after that first one, I went through the whole process, meeting with four or five people, but was rejected for lack of enough education. I didn’t struggle with this rejection for long but moved on and eventually was hired by a different company.

At the time, I was frustrated, discouraged and depressed; however, I continued to look for work. I wasn’t going to let circumstances throw cold water on my dreams. DREAM BIG! In hindsight, that first job gave me the necessary training and business relationships that I’ve benefited from over the years. Don’t let your current circumstances throw cold water on your dreams. Dream big! Your persistence will be rewarded. Sometimes dreams require sacrifice, but it will be worth it. If it’s good, healthy and legal, chase after it with everything you have and you will not be disappointed.

Crises – Depression Recovery Guide

Crises. We all have them from the time we’re born until the day we die. When we were young we had little crises—remember elementary school when you missed the school bus or forgot your permission slip to go on a field trip? At the time it was a crisis, but fortunately one we all lived through and adjusted to quickly. As a teenager you probably remember your first date that flopped, a not-so-good school event, a job you were fired from or your first car accident, all bigger crises. The list grows the older we get; life is full of crises, and if you’ve been fortunate enough to dodge some of the bigger ones, consider yourself blessed.

If you’re mature and have a few years behind you, I’m sure you’ve experienced a crisis or two that really rocked your world. It happens, but, I hope, you were able to get through it with the help of friends and family. I remember when my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor twenty-five years ago and needed surgery. His doctor told us the tumor was probably not malignant but said, even so, brain surgery is risky and we should get his personal business in order prior to the operation. Let me tell you, this rocked my dad’s world! I still remember praying with him before surgery and telling him how much I loved, him just in case we never spoke again. Fortunately, it went well that time, but two years later he had another brain tumor that required surgery and this time the outcome was less than good, leaving him with a stroke and paralysis on his left side. Again his world was rocked! Overnight he became physically challenged, losing the ability to talk clearly, walk or even stand by himself. I don’t know if my dad had suicidal thoughts, but he did struggle with depression. Back then there were very few books about suicidal thoughts or self-help books on depression. My mother was a real trooper, taking care of my dad, and after months of physical and occupational therapy, a leg brace, prayer, love and dedication, he was walking and talking again.

Having our individual worlds upset and at times actually rocked is normal. The emotional impact to us may vary depending on the circumstances and our faith. As we go through these crises we grow and as we pray and experience God’s comfort our faith also grows. I’m still amazed when God shows up in a circumstance that has rocked my world and calms all my anxiety by flooding my heart with peace. It’s as though I hear His voice saying it’s all going to be fine, trust me, and I do and it does turn out fine. I’m not saying it’s always easy or this calmness comes in one hour or even in one day; I’m just saying it does come. God is good—no, He’s very good—and He loves you and me in good times, crises and even when our worlds are rocked.

Make A Difference – Spiritual Guide for Depression

Make a Difference

Between 1999 and 2015 suicide rates in the U.S. increased 24% according to an article in the Wall Street Journal on April 22, 2016. The growing numbers in every age group are alarming. The World Health Organization estimates there are 1,000,000 suicides a year, with that number expected to double by the year 2020.

Why? All the statistics show the increase but offer very little information as to why that number is growing. You and I could probably list many reasons why we think suicides are on the rise, but the fact is they have increased and those who compile the statistics predict they will continue. How sad! I’m not willing to read an article or see a statistic and accept the trend without trying to do something to alter the trend.
I know we’re talking about a worldwide epidemic; however, with all the technology available I believe something can be done. If a video posted on YouTube can reach millions of viewers in a matter of a couple days, then so can the message “Suicide is Not a Solution.” With the availability of self-help books on suicidal thoughts, books on depression and spiritual guides for depression, clinics available to help those suffering, associations dedicated to the prevention of suicide and chat rooms for those who suffer or struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide, there are practically unlimited resources for people to get necessary help.
The Internet is loaded with information, and more people today than ever have access to the web. There are over fifty search engines worldwide, giving those suffering access to the information that can help them. We lose enough people through disease, terrorist attacks, accidents, and crime without suicide becoming a growing contributor.
In the U.S. military the loss of men and women to suicide is higher than deaths from enemy fire and accidents! This is a huge social problem and it’s time something is done about it.

Through my research and discussions about Don’t Jump! It’s Only a Bump I discovered that suicide has touched many if not most households, but it’s something people don’t like to talk about. I agree it’s a very sad topic because it appears there is very little we can do about it. But something can be done!
The Jason Foundation is a proactive group getting Congress to write laws state by state requiring teachers to undergo training to help them identify teenagers with suicide tendencies and help them. This is one of many organizations.
Depression is very real and affects millions of people. Let’s reach out and help those suffering. Encourage them to seek professional help. There are many self-help books available about depression. Churches provide many different services for individuals and groups suffering from depression, addictions, abuse—the list goes on and on.

There’s no simple solution that fits every circumstance, but one thing for sure if we choose to do nothing and accept the current trend is that the suicide rate will continue to rise. However, if we collectively make an effort I believe we can change the trend. I also believe helping those who suffer so that by giving them HOPE of better days ahead they will develop a reason to want to live. Life is wonderful even with its difficulties.

The abundant life is within reach through Jesus Christ! Hope of a good life and eternal life is available to all. Suggestion: read the Bible and pray. You and I can make a difference. Spend some money and time, and love those hurting.

Emancipation

Emancipation Day is a holiday in Washington, D.C., to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act, which President Abraham Lincoln signed on April 16, 1862. The holiday is held annually on April 16.

Today we celebrate 154 years since the “Emancipation Declaration” was signed and placed into law.

I recently saw the movie “Lincoln” and was moved, feeling very proud of being an American and sad at the same time. I was proud because of the freedom we all have and the battles fought over the past centuries to gain and maintain that freedom. I was sad because I realize that today’s political climate is all about taking away our freedoms and regulating every citizen to the nth degree. The Emancipation was signed with the purpose of freedom, declaring that ALL people are created equal. Let’s continue to fight for our freedoms. As a nation, we need to stand up and elect representatives who share our dreams and goals of independence and personal rights. The USA is a great country made up of people of all races with different political, religious and personal views. Our differences are what we all have in common, which makes us special if not unique.

So much for political freedom. Let’s talk about emotional freedom. Why do we insist on carrying so much emotional baggage? When we travel, our luggage is on wheels purposely designed to lighten our load and make moving faster and easier. Once we’re in the airport, every piece is transported by cart or conveyor, so we enjoy our traveling experience and come back in fine spirits. Emotional scars can be extremely burdensome and limiting; similar to travel baggage, they can feel bulky and heavy, minimizing our full potential.

In 1862 President Lincoln basically said the time had come; the Civil War was being fought, men and women were dying, family and country were dysfunctional, so he put his foot down and said now is the time to end slavery, and I won’t accept anything less! It took hard work and many difficult decisions, but his determination prevailed.

I’m encouraging you to put your foot down and say today is the start of your personal “emancipation,” the end of your being a slave and the start of your getting free. Quit hauling all the emotional baggage from one day to the next. Start dropping the bags one at a time. If they don’t improve your day or mood or outlook, drop them. What happened yesterday, last month or last year is in the past, which is a good place to leave it. Take a deep breath and let it go. Focus and put your all into the day; when you do, the day will repay your effort, giving you great results.

Start fresh and improve your body, mind and soul. Eat better, exercise, let go of the past and start reading the Bible. Emancipation!

Proverbs 3:1 says: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.”

Friends

Friends
I’m not talking about the TV show called “Friends”; however, my topic is similar. I remember when I was in the second grade, my school teacher was trying to help our class remember what letter comes first, “i” or “e,” when spelling “friend.” She shared a little phrase with the class that I still remember today and use to make sure I spell “friend” correctly. The phrase goes like this: “A true friend is a friend until the end,” and the word “end” is the last three letters of the word “friend.”

How many true friends do you have? I hope many and that you continue to make new friends. “Experts” claim that due to our mobile society the average person changes his or her portfolio of friends every ten to twelve years. If this is accurate, then friends don’t last to the end anymore, which is a sad fact, or at minimum a sad statement.

Let’s talk about a friend to the end. A friend to the end is someone who will be at your side through good times and bad to the very last moment. When you have money and when you don’t. If you need cash they’re ready to lend you $50 or $100 because they know you’re good for it. Your friends are someone you can talk to about anything because they can relate and they really care. When you’re feeling your best or your worst, friends to the end are just a phone call or text away.

In the Bible, Proverbs Chapter 17:17, we read: “A friend loves at all times,” which describes the heart of a friend. Friendships can be difficult to cultivate and develop sometimes, but don’t be discouraged and don’t give up. Proverbs 24:24 says, “A man that has friends must show himself friendly,” which encourages us to display the same traits and characteristics we would like to see in a friend. The verse continues to say, “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” I believe this suggests that Jesus Christ is that friend that sticks closer than a brother. There are times when we are so discouraged, lost, hurting, lonely, confused or depressed that we can’t even begin to share ourselves with someone else. The “friend that sticks closer than a brother,” Jesus Christ, is the friend we can call upon and with whom we can share what’s in our heart and mind. When we talk to Jesus openly, honestly and sincerely about our needs, amazing changes begin to develop. Like most friendships, the more we discuss and share, the greater the friendship. Jesus wants to be your friend . . . your friend to the end!

Worry Free

Worry Free

 

Don’t Worry. Stamp it out! What If?

 

The knot in your stomach continues to gnaw at you as you worry about all the contingencies in your life.

 

Worry………..…Worry………….…Worry … does it ever stop?

 

What if this or that happens? The possibilities are endless.

 

Ask yourself what is gained by worrying about all the different possibilities? Anxiety grows the more you worry and dwell on all the “what ifs” that can affect your life. Why dwell on them and what is gained by all your worrying. Anxiety is like a snowball going downhill it grows and grows in size until it overwhelms and consumes you. Worry creates anxiety which eventually steals your zealousness and joy of life. Worry never solves any of your problems or circumstances in your life.

I remember one time I set up a doctor appointment because I was suffering from some lower stomach pain. The symptoms had me concerned because they all pointed towards me having something very serious, so naturally I was extremely worried. When I discussed my symptoms with my doctor he immediately set up test which started the same afternoon. My doctor was concerned; I saw it in his face and heard it in his voice. My mind was racing as I rehearsed again and again what I would say to my wife. I was worried, my kids were ages ten and fifteen how was I going tell them and what would I do? This was ten years ago and fortunately all test came back negative but I still remember how worried I was and nothing came of my worrying. Even if my test would of comeback positive the worrying would not have changed my circumstances.

So why do we worry? It’s exhausting and a waste of a tremendous amount of time and energy. We look ahead thinking of all the events in our life and strategize on how we will be effected and what can we do to improve the outcomes this is normal and not a bad process. There is fine line between being prepared and worrying. Being prepared by rational thoughts and process can actually improve our lives and those around us.

 

Don’t worry!      Quit fretting!

 

Fear causes us to worry: the fear of not knowing what the future holds or maybe fear because we do know what the future holds. Here’s an example of both types; if I get a speeding ticket and it’s due to going way over the speed limit so much over the limit I have to appear in court before a judge. My first fear which is known is the judge is going to reprimand me in front of others for breaking the law and being irresponsible my second fear is the amount of my fine or sentence for breaking the law which is unknown. Some fear is naturally good such as the fear we experience when we find ourselves in a dangerous situation such as crossing a busy street, climbing ladder or riding a bicycle due to the level of fear we are very careful. These fears we usually don’t worry about because we have confidence in having a positive outcome so why not have the same confidence in the uncertain circumstances that turn into fear?

 

Confidence comes from experience, experience comes from doing, doing comes from overcoming fear and overcoming comes from faith in God.

 

Psalm 34:4 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

 

When you find yourself losing sleep because of worry the solution is… seek the Lord, very simple. Read your Bible and Pray!

 

 

TRUTH

dads pics 009

Truth

The truth is what we want, but sometimes it’s so for removed from us that when it shows up we don’t recognize it. How is that?

When I was growing up I was taught to always tell the truth, regardless of the circumstances. My mom and dad would say, “We want the truth and nothing but the truth. You will get in less trouble by telling us the truth.” I told them the truth most of the time, out of respect (and, if I were honest, a little fear); however, I do remember those times that when I didn’t tell them the truth, I became nervous, edgy and felt guilty. As I grew up, I read from the Bible that “the truth shall set you free” and realized my parents’ views about the truth were not their original idea but came from the Word of God. Even so, their great advice about the truth was one of the many ingrained characteristics I’ve been blessed with since childhood.

So why is the truth so important to our overall well-being? Think of truth as being of two kinds: truth received and truth told. Considering the first, truth received,
• We all want to hear the truth from our friends and relatives. When they don’t tell us the truth, we lose respect and don’t trust them.
• Purchasing items, we want to know the truth about the product or service we’re buying.
• In medical visits, we want the truth about our health.
• We want the truth about our job, its responsibilities and its possible career paths.
• Spiritual truth is critical, because spiritual growth is important for today and has eternal consequences.

Is there ever a circumstance when we might not want the truth? Probably not. We always want the truth: “Give me the truth and facts, and I’ll deal with it,” probably sums up how most of us feel. We function better and can make better decisions by knowing the truth, even if the truth is sometimes hard to take. Can you imagine trying to improve your health if your medical professional didn’t give you the truth? Not getting the truth now is simply a delay—the truth always surfaces and makes itself known. How many times have you heard someone say, “I wish I knew the truth”? When we hear the truth, we feel better about our decisions, relationships and life in general.

Considering the second, truth told,
• Telling the truth is so easy, because the facts never change. When we share the truth, discuss the truth and spread the truth, we ensure the event’s integrity and our own integrity. Our character continues to solidify and magnify by simply telling the truth. Others can count on what we say as being the unaltered , solid truth, therefore increasing their faith in us and in what we say.
• Another benefit of speaking the truth is a reduction in anxiety: you feel free because there’s no deception.
• Speaking the truth simplifies your life because there’s that much less to remember—it’s just the facts, with nothing added or subtracted.
• Spiritual truth bestows freedom. All my spiritual information comes from the Bible. I believe in heaven and hell and that God sent his son Jesus Christ for my salvation. I have the gift of eternal life because of repenting of my sins and asking Jesus Christ into my life. He heard my prayer and answered by writing my name in the book of life, making a reservation for me in heaven. Having this spiritual truth, this promise of eternal life, has given me the freedom of peace.

Ah . . . the truth!

Don’t Give Up!

Never give up! Until your very last breath, never give up. There is always hope that things will work out and get better. How? By having faith and believing in a source of power greater than our own. That can be hard to understand and difficult to accept; after all, that’s why it’s called faith. If we see it, taste it, smell it and touch it, we don’t need faith to believe it, do we? So it takes faith to believe that tomorrow will be a better day and next week will continue to improve and next month will be better yet and next year will be absolutely awesome! We have the tendency, however, to take today’s circumstances and allow them to rule our thoughts about the future. Does anyone know the future?

If you expect bad things to happen, they probably will. Conversely, if you expect good things to happen, there’s the same chance good things will happen. What I recommend is a dose of faith . . . in God the creator of the universe, our Heavenly Father. I have to admit I’m a very simple person and cherish my childlike faith. God said he loves me and I accept that. He promised if I asked for forgiveness he would forgive my trespasses and adopt me as his child and take care of me, which he has for the last fifty-nine years and counting. A little faith can go a long way! Mix it with some determination, prayer and encouragement, and tomorrow will be a better day. God hears and answers prayer. Try it . . . believe it . . . see it . . . watch it. It’s awesome!