Month: January 2009

A Change in Plans…

I wanted to let those of you who have been visiting this site everyday and not seeing new posts that I have had a change in plans.

I made the decision to close down this public site at the end of December and go back to my private blog which I have been writing for the last three years.  But after spending the last three weeks writing on my other site, I  have decided that I am going to continue the “Maybe it’s Me” website.

My reasons for the change in plans will be a topic in one of my new posts to the site.

So for those of you who had posted nice comments about not wanting me to quit and for those of you wanting to read more of my stories and perspective, I will be posting regularly back at this site.

Feel free to comment about ideas, topics or things you would like to have me write about, or you may just want to respond and let me know what you think of the decision to continue the site. I would love to hear from you.

As you may know….I don’t post a lot of reader comments so you do not have to worry about having your comments reposted.

Looking forward to 2009…and the stories it brings.

But then again…Maybe it’s just me.

The Bail Out, Water Heaters and God

Maybe it’s just me…but I experienced a valuable lesson this week.

I heard my alarm clock start it’s morning wail at the usual time of 6:00 AM.  Getting up in the morning is not a problem for me.   I am a morning person.  Regardless of how much of sleep I’ve had, I love the start of a new day.  I am in my best mood in the morning.   In contrast, my wife and children do not want anyone to as much grunt in their direction anytime before noon.

I rolled out of bed and started into my daily routine.  I went in the the shower and stood there (no mental pictures intended) with great anticipation of the wonderful hot water that soon would greet me on this cold -12 degree morning.  As that stream of water started to pour from that Kohler shower head, it took a few seconds of denial before I accepted the fact that the wonderful hot stream of water that I was expecting was ice cold.  The jolt of that icy water was such a shock to my system that I was temporarily paralyzed there in the  shower.  I couldn’t move a muscle.   I heard someone screaming out adjectives and things that shouldn’t be said by anyone except a sailor.  It took me a second to realize that it was me that was doing all the screaming.  I’ve been on a boat before…but I do not think that that qualified me to be a “sailor”.

I finally got my bearings together and made a plan to jump from the tub to get out of this icy inferno.  As I leapt…  (I don’t really need to mention that I don’t leap well, do I?) from the shower, dripping of ice cold water,  my feet hit the floor with all the force that only a 300 lb. man can bring.  As for the brief split second my feet initially hit the floor, I had done pretty well.  But it was was next split second that got my attention.  Suddenly everything was moving in extreme slow motion.   As my arms and legs were flailing around like a rag doll, I was seeing visions of my younger days growing up on Walnut Street in Oak Harbor.  I was watching myself play football in Blakely’s yard.  I could see me running to the ice cream truck and enjoying a cone on those hot summer nights.  I was watching my life pass right before my eyes.

Then suddenly it was over.   I was only able to utter one more small adjective before my head hit the floor.  As I lay there, sprawled on the floor (again, my apologies for the mental picture) I began to take inventory to see if I was alright.  Nothing hurt except my pride.

I figured out that my water heater had gone out overnight.  The thought of why didn’t I replace it when the thermocouple went out a few months before was weighing heavy on my mind.   It was on it’s last leg…my wife told me so.  Normally this would not really be a big deal.  I am a pretty handy guy.  Changing out a hot water heater is not a difficult task for me so that would not be the problem.  The problem I had was one of time.  My wife was going to get up in a little bit and I had no hot water for her shower.  I would have rather faced anything else rather than having to tell her that she had to take a cold shower.  I went down to the basement and changed the thermocouple and crossed my fingers that this would allow me to light the pilot light so I could start the burner.  Maybe I could at least get some hot water for her shower.

It didn’t work.  I tried everything.  I was out of ideas.  I was going to have to face the music.

Then as I lay on the floor of my basement,  I fought off any temptation to use anymore adjectives and I found myself praying for a miracle.  “God, if you allow me to start this up I would do….”  I went on, “I promise that I will…”  I laid there and started to barter with God.  I was asking him for a “bailout” of my situation .  I wanted a quick fix.  I wanted to have it working so that I would not have to admit that I screwed up when I didn’t fix it when I had the chance.  I did not want to be held  responsible for my lack of action.

I was no different than the banks, car manufacturers, Wall Street and whoever else wined to Congress that they wanted a bailout.  They say, “Please fix all my mistakes and please don’t hold me responsible for my past performance.”

Now… don’t misunderstand me.  I am keenly aware of the condition of the economy.  I work in an industry that is closely tied to two or more of the very entities that are crying for help.  I know that the American government has failed in it’s economic planning for quite some time.  But it is too easy to just blame George W. Bush for all of the problems we face in our economy.  Easy yes…but that simply would not be the truth.  Our failed economic condition has ties that go back for many years.

We have been told that if we don’t do bail them out immediately…then the consequences of the lack of help from Congress will result in the end of the world as we know it.  As it has turned out for the banks, car manufacturers and others… none of these supposed “doomsday” predictions have  really happened…yet.

My situation was different…my doom was imminent…it was less than 15 minutes away.

Suddenly I felt ashamed.  I was only asking God to bail me out so that I would not have to face my wife.  I had not taken time to pray in at least a few days and I was living my life as if all I had to do was ask God to bail me out of my jams and he would do it.  I realized that God has only one bailout plan.  His only bailout plan is that He promised to forgive me of my sin if I asked Him to.  His Son Jesus Christ paid the price for the punishment of my sin with His death on the cross.  He would not hold me responsible for my sins.

My problems of a broken water heater and things that happen to me here on earth are not part of God’s bailout plan.  He makes no promises of a fix or a bailout of my daily problems….other than He said that He would not allow me to go through more than what I could bear.  I really don’t think that God is concerned about my broken water heater.  He is more concerned with how I dealt with my broken water heater.  He is not the great solver of all my self inflected problems here on earth.

Life won’t always be great.  I will not always be happy.

Those things are left for eternity.

As you can see, I survived that day.  My wife didn’t kill me.  And in a significant way, God allowed me to take a steaming hot shower at 7:00 PM.  I learned a valuable lesson that God wants to see my faithfulness and dedication to Him when things don’t work out the way I think they should.  He wants me to understand that He already gave me all the bailout that I need.

And as a result…I have a deeper appreciation for Bailouts…Water Heaters… and God.

But then again, maybe it’s just me.

It’s How You Play the Hand

Maybe it’s just me…

But I don’t hide my cards very well.   I am NOT a good poker player.

Poker is very popular today.  I get frustrated because in poker, it is less about what the cards in your hand are.  It really isn’t about how you play your cards.  For a person to win in poker, it is about the “bluff”.   It is a game where, most times, it is about how you “bluff” your way into making other players believe you have a better or worse hand than they do.  Regardless what my cards are, it doesn’t take a seasoned poker player to know exactly what they are.  My facial expressions give me away every time.  In the seedy world of the poker world these are called “tells”.  My “tells” are so evident,  I do not even bother playing.

I recently watched a video called, The Last Lecture.  The Last Lecture is a collection of life’s lessons and reflections, by a man that was given the news that he only had a short time to live.  Doctors estimated that Randy Pausch had three to six months of good health remaining.

It is common practice for College Professors to give talks titled “The Last Lecture”, when they are retiring from teaching.  Professors are asked to ruminate on what matters most to them as a professor and as a human-being.  They are invited to talk about their lives and the life lessons.   Randy Pausch was given this opportunity when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This lecture became a video and has been transformed into a must read book.

This is a condensed version.  You can watch the original full version on this link.

I sat in my office at home and watched this video.  I was prepared for him to tell me about his sorrow and regret of missed things in his life.  Ironically enough, his presentation was more about living than dying.  He talked about the importance of overcoming obstacles, enabling the dreams of others, and seizing every moment, because in his case, life had to be squeezed into just a few short months. Ten cancerous tumors in his liver were not going to cheat him of even 10 minutes that he had left.

He was not looking for someone to feel sorry for him.  He was trying to encourage others to live life.  That was what he was doing…he wasn’t in denial, he knew that he did not have time to waste.  He did not want his wife, children and the people around him to live their life with regret.

Have you wondered what you would do if you KNEW that you only had a few more months to live?

I am sure you have…we all have.  It is very common thing to think about. The thing is…what would we REALLY do?

We all say… we  would gather our family and we would make sure they knew how much we loved them.  We would make sure that there would be nothing between us and that all issues that we lived with for years would be addressed and made sure that we could leave this world with no regrets.

Regrets…Did you know that regret is the only emotion that you never can change?  You can change happiness…you can change sadness.  Regret can never change.  It is what it is.  The hurt and sadness of a missed opportunity.  An opportunity that will never come around again.  Sometimes we can make some wrongs… right, but in reality the pain of regret stays with us forever.

Why do we wait until we have been given the “death” sentence from a doctor or wait until we receive a tragic phone call in the middle of the night before we think about these things?

  • What if you had only 30 days to live?
  • How would you live?
  • Who would you want to be with?
  • What would you like to say to them?
  • Where would you like to go?
  • What would you like to do?
  • Would you modify your weekly schedule to allow for more together time?
  • Would you still watch the same amount of television?
  • Would you still fret over the same tit-for-tat stuff, hold grudges or get bitter?
  • Would life’s little irritations even matter to you?
  • Would you talk to God more?
  • Would you admit that He existed?
  • Would you go to church more?
  • Would you spend your money differently?
  • Would you follow through with your good intentions?
  • Would you need to connect with a family member that you had distanced yourself from?
  • Is there an apology that you would need to make?
  • Is there a son that you need to call?
  • Is there a daughter that you need to hug?  .
  • Is there a parent you need to sit down with?
  • Is there an issue that you need to resolve?
  • Are there habits that you would give up?
  • Are there lifestyle changes that you would make?
  • Is there a letter that you would have to write?
  • Is there a task that you would need to do?

After reading Pausch’s brief book, I couldn’t help but think about what the last talk, post, or lecture that I would be able to give some day.  If I was given that chance…what would I say?  I sat in my office filled with shame.  I turned off the lights and sat in the dark.  I thought about the long list of regrets I have allowed to build up in my life.  Sitting in my office that night, I asked myself, “If I only had 30 days to live, what would you do and who would you do it with?”  If you will…my own personal bucket list…

There are things I cannot change.  There are things that I would never change.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” –Randy Pausch

I hope you play your cards well…

But then again maybe it’s just me…

Young Love was Pretty Simple

Maybe it’s just me…

But young love was really pretty simple.

Oh, yeah… Young Love.

Once upon a time, it was…simple.   If you liked somebody, you let ’em know.  And if you didn’t, you let ’em know.  One way or another, you knew where you stood.

Young love was about sharing little inside jokes when the teacher wasn’t looking.  It was about passing notes in the hallway between classes.  It was about all the really stupid things you share.  It was about getting through those difficult adolescent years… together.

All our young lives we searched for someone to love. Someone who would make us complete.  We chose partners and changed partners. We danced to a song of heartbreak and hope… all the while wondering if somewhere, somehow, there’s someone perfect… who just might be searching for us.

It was no different for me…

Once upon a time there was a girl I knew that lived on another street in some other town.  She had beautiful blond hair and blue eyes. When she smiled, I smiled. When she cried, I cried.

She and I had been through it all. The good times… bad times. The ups… and downs.   We’d known each other since we were kids.  And to me she would always be the girl next door – even though she didn’t live next door.  Every single thing that happened to me that mattered, in some way, had to do with her.

She was my girl…

Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what’s to come.

One night, I think we both knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be…

Other days.

New days.

Days to come.

Love makes you do funny things.  It makes you proud.  It makes you sorry.

That night we talked…

About life.

About our times together.

Maybe we weren’t the same two kids we had once been. But some things change. Some things last.  We were young and scared. And even though we didn’t know what was going to happen to us, or where we were going.  We knew that something was changing.

Young love doesn’t know the difference between “getting older” and “growing up”. But there is indeed a difference…

That night Pam and I promised each other that no matter what, we would always love each other and we’d always know that we shared the best days of our young lives together. It was a promise full of passion and truth and wisdom. It was the kind of promise that could only come from the hearts of the very young.

The thing is…we didn’t need to end our relationship with each other because we were getting older.  We just had to forgive ourselves…for growing up.

Yeah…young love was pretty simple…

But then again, maybe it’s just me…

Something Left to Give

Maybe it’s Just Me…

But sometimes what you plan to do is not what you are able to do…

I had plans on writing a few more posts to finish out my little experiment of this blog.

However, I have not been feeling too well lately and I have been in the process of getting tests done to see what is up.   I make no announcements yet, just that growing old is a fact of life.  I spent many years abusing this body that God gave me by not taking care of myself.  Punishing myself for the failures in my life.

With that going on and my attempt to finish my MBA, I decided to end my blog for awhile until I could properly do it justice.

But…humor me for a few days longer and I will post and say what I wanted to say…then I will close down the site.

As I have posted before, I am a little bit jaded when it comes to writing about things for the sole purpose of getting a reaction.  The blogging world is filled with meaningless dribble that is only written to garnish a response.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it when someone comments on a topic that I wrote about, or comment about that they  too can relate to some story I told.  But that is not the reason upon why I write.

I don’t write because I think I can write.

I have never said I could write well…only that I loved to write.

I have been asked many times what is up with my website being called “thelegacybuilder”.  Most often I would not reply.  But in the act of full disclosure…I chose the name the “Legacy Builder” because I wanted to build a historical legacy for my  children and future grandchildren to read and know who I was.

Vain…yes.

Self Serving…sure.

Honest…absolutely.

I write for my kids and a vain attempt to leave something that might remind them that I was here.

There was once a time… a long time ago… when I was a man of integrity and honor.  I felt I was doing what God had planned for me to do.  I  spent 12 years of my life (from 23 to 35) as a Christian High School principal.

Due to a failed marriage and choices I made, I lost the ability to fulfill what God had originally intended for me to do.

My children do not know their father as a man that served God in full time service.  They really don’t remember that.

They know I remarried five years after my divorce and have tried to put some pieces of my life back together.  In some areas of my life, I have never been more successful.  I have a happy and  strong marriage going on 10 years now.  I have a wonderful job / career which I love.

In other areas, I still deal with the sting of unforgiveness and silent contempt. That, I’m afraid, will never change.  Fifteen years later and people still act as if it happened yesterday.  Even with all of that, what people do not know is the fact that… as hard and unforgiving that they have been on me….I have been harder on myself.  I have not and could not forgive myself for what I allowed to happen in my life.

I have personally allowed myself to fail physically because “I deserved” what would come from that.  No… it hasn’t been drugs or alcohol…but the results are just as devastating.

The bottom line is this…I have finally come to the point in my life that I have honestly come to terms with my failures.  I have been in counsel with some men that I consider “men of God” and they have been most helpful.  I am learning that Grace of God is intended for those who have failed…if no one failed there would be no reason for Grace.

No…I will never be able to make everything right that has gone wrong in my life.  The scars and consequences will stay with me forever.  But I can no longer beat myself up for that which I cannot change.  I know that God has forgiven me.  It’s time that I forgive myself.  That is harder than you think.

My children know that I love my God, and that I love my wife and that I love them.

I will spend the rest of my life trying to make up for the mistakes and failures that I brought upon my life.  I have come to the conclusion that compassion, understanding and forgiveness are far better than the legalism I was raised with.

I write because I know there is more to do.

I write because I know I have something left to give.

But then again…maybe it’s just me.

Please play this song… it may say it better than my attempts at words…

Thank You…

Due to some issues beyond my control, this will be my last post to this site.

My site will move to a private blog at mid-night tonight.

Thanks again for all who played along…I hope you have a happy new year.

But then again…maybe it’s just me.