Category: encouragement

Fighting the Darkness

It is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness.

Only light will work.

We do not need to be philosophers, or saints, or sages to own this truth.

And we do not need to walk on water, or hot coals, or even air.

We need only shift our awareness to see from a different perspective, which allows us to make sense and see the world as it really is.

Last night I watched the riots take place in Minneapolis, after the murder of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a police officer.

His death was senseless, evil, and wrong. There is no justification for it.

As the protests increased and the looting started, I started to think about the fact that I am a white male closing in on 60 and I grew up in a world that made life easier for me because I was a white male.

While I think that there are other ways to protest than to destroy the very neighborhood you grew up in. I see that these men and women grew up in a world that made life harder simply because they are black.

It is wrong.

On all levels.

So, I cannot even try to understand or relate to what it was and is for a person of color to sojourn life in this world.  

However, riots do not fix things.

Historically, when you look back at the riots of the 1960s in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Chicago, it has only made life harder for those neighborhoods to recover.

It is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness.

The fact is, long after these riots have eased, pain and suffering will go on if we do nothing.

Wishing it to change… changes nothing.

Right or wrong, suffering is ingrained in our historical DNA. It is part of the universe we live in.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In all the years of human existence has not changed the fact that we will abuse the planet, watch our parents get old, and see the world divide itself with hatred, prejudice, and racial divide.

Disasters of all kinds will strike and, at one time or another, our bodies will fail.

The Polio crisis became the Spanish Influenza, which became the AHannah's Hope » Blog Archive » We raise our white flags…IDS epidemic, which turned into Covid-19, which will one day turn into something else.

Let me be clear, this is far from a fatalistic view of the world.

There are no white flags here.

No escape hatches or dodging earthly responsibilities.

There is only optimism for us all to move the planet to a better place.

This is a rallying cry to laugh often, love deeper, care more, and do all we can to seek joy.

Yes, the world can be a serious and dark place. But, as any poet will tell you, it is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness. Only light will work.

And we are that light. You. Me. All of us.

And should we choose, the world (with all its joy, sorrow, anThank you, Hamas - When Darkness Reveals Truth | Hanna Perlberger ...d racial prejudice) can become a teaching space that will help us all find deeper truth and awareness on our journey to become mindful, awake, and alive.

It is in this place where our lives will never be the same.

We need to change our perspective and see the world as it should be—without thought of race, gender, religion, age, or political ideologies, or the job we hold, or the amount of money we make, or in any way that aims to divide us.

Hopefully, from this viewpoint, we will embrace our struggles as a path to higher awareness, so that our suffering can become a compass which allows us to look inward, and step into a world far more profound than the one we’re living in.

And I would add, the light is what makes the world a kinder and more hopeful place to live.

And all it takes is for all of us to change our perspective.

It is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness.

Fight the darkness.

Only light will work.

Be that light.

 

Runners Pant Less

Believe it or not, the headline reads, “Runners Pant Less”

Find it… on page 120 of the 1976 Oak Harbor yearbook.

IPant Less never noticed the headline before, or if I did I must have erased it from my memory. Either way, over forty years later, there it was and the truth of it could not be more recognized than that.

I know that all of us have had something that happened during our time growing up that we were embarrassed about. I have had many embarrassing things happen to me. Some that I caused and did to myself, some not. It’s a given that something is going to happen. It is inevitable. It is just what happens, and you just hope and pray that it doesn’t happen in front of the whole school.

I so wish I could say that.

Unfortunately… I can’t.

So, what is this event and what does it have to do with that headline?

In the fall of 1975, Oak Harbor High School opened a brand-new school building. The paint in the locker room was barely dry and everything smelled fresh and clean. I showed up on the first day of practice and I made my way into the locker room. I had no idea where I was supposed to be. That always seemed to be a common event for me. I always seemed to not know where I was supposed to be, and I was always late because of it.

I walked into OakHarbor_Rocketsthe locker room and the football team was already dressed, and they were heading out to start their practice. The football coach, Bill Hubans, came out of his office and looked up to see me standing there. Coach Hubans had been my 8th-grade basketball and he knew me.

“Lee… you’re late!!! Grab a locker, get dressed, and get out there with the team!” he yelled.

I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t want to look him in the eye and tell him I wasn’t there to join the football team. I sheepishly said, “Yes sir.” and I opened a locker and started to quickly get dressed. Coach Hubans went out the side door and off to coach the football team.

I sat therFootballe and stopped getting dressed. I knew I wasn’t there to play football. I would love to tell a story of gridiron glory and of game-winning touchdowns, but those would forever remain locked in the dreams I would have at night. As I have documented, my football career at Oak Harbor was short-lived. The hit I took from Earl Kashmere was still fresh in my memory and I simply wasn’t going to ever be big enough to play the game.

For once, I was early. The new cross-country coach, Wayne Huffman, came into the locker room after a few minutes of me sitting there in the locker room in front of a football locker. I did not know Coach Huffman. He was new to the Oak Harbor school system and I must have made a good impression on Huffmanhim because I was the first one there and I was the first runner he would introduce himself to.

He told me that the cross-country lockers were on the other side of the locker room and he said that he had heard I was a pretty good runner. He said that he was told that there were a few freshmen that would be a big part of the team that year and that I was one of them. I was shocked that he knew who I was and that he felt I would be a big part of the team. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was recognized for who I was. I wasn’t referenced as Linda Lee’s little brother or the brother of the boy who was killed in that horrible train accident. I moved to the small narrow lockers that were assigned to the cross-country team and finished getting dressed.

The rest of the team showed up, got changed into their running clothes and we gathered at the back of the school to start practice. I was under the impression that we would practice there at the high school, but I was wrong. We would be practicing at Veteran’s Park on the other side of town. That was my introduction to the cross-country team. We would warm-up by running the two miles to the park, only then to start practice once we got there.

The route we ran to the park would start in the back-parking lot of the high school. We would run down a path that led to Walnut Street, then run a few blocks to where we would run past the front of what was now the Junior High. We would head up Church Street then turn left onto Ottawa Street, past R.C. Waters Elementary, and then to Main Street where we would reach the park. That path is important to the rest of this story.

At first, we would run in a large group. All masked in the guise of team building. We had an experienced team with four or five seniors returning to the team. A few Juniors, no Sophomores but about five Freshman made up the whole team. I was a pretty good runner and I made the Varsity squad and I worked and ran as hard as I Runnercould to keep that position on the team. 

As soon we got into a routine of running to the park, we stopped running there together as a team. We would hurry, get dressed, and take off running for the park. Usually, you would just hook up with another runner and work your way there. 

After a few weeks, I started to notice something going on with the upperclassmen runners. Only the seniors would run together in a group. I started to hear stories about “hazing.” For those of you that need reminding, the act of hazing is where someone or a group of people play unpleasant tricks on someone or forcing someone to do unpleasant things as part of an initiation or a rite of passage. I was hearing rumors that the seniors were grabbing the other freshman runners and hazing them. I even heard a rumor that they were planning on de-pantsing one of us. I thought that was just a joke.  There wasn’t a lot of talk about it and I would just hurry, get changed, and start off to the park before anyone else so I could stay out in front of them.

For the most part, I got along with the seniors. My sister was a senior and I think they left me alone for that reason. My sister was a cheerleader and very popular, and I don’t think they wanted to deal with her or her boyfriend if they would do something to her little brother.

That lasted all but for a few weeks when, as I started to leave the locker room to run to practice, one of the seniors said he needed to talk to me. I could tell something was up and I knew that he was trying to hold me up from leaving them. He was asking me a bunch of stupid questions and I finally just said that I needed to leave, and I took off running for the park.

Now they say hindsight is 20-20, I agree with that. Because had I known what would happen to me, I would have stayed in the safer confines of the back-parking lot of the high school. But I took off for the park and down the usual route that we would always run. Suddenly I heard the other seniors running after me and they were yelling, “Let’s get him!!!” I kicked my running into high gear and while I wasn’t exactly sure what they were going to do with me after they caught me, I was running as fast as I could run so I would not have to find out.

Running down Walnut Street I took a quick glance behind me and noticed that up to that point I was keeping them away and they weren’t gaining ground on me. I Old Ohio Schools - Ottawa Countyreached the railroad tracks and as I crossed over I saw the Junior High. The thought occurred to me that if I could reach the Junior High without getting caught, I could find a teacher or someone who would help me and keep them from doing whatever they were going to do to me.

I reached the bus garage and continued to sprint towards the front of the school. I rounded the corner of the front of the school.  Class had just ended for the day and there were kids everywhere and I slowed down. Not only had school let out, but all the busses from the High School were lined up all along the front of the school to pick up the students that rode the bus.

Slowing down, I was sure that a teacher would intervene. The group of seniors caught me and started to tackle me. I could feel them grabbing at the bottom of my sweatpants and I suddenly realized that they were intent on de-pantsing me right then and there.

I am not sure if it was just the adrenaline or what, but I was able to fight them off and I got back up and started to run again. I was running as fast as I could, zig-Ridgefield wants Breathalyzers in school buses - NewsTimeszagging and dodging all the other kids as I was trying to make my way away from the school. The seniors were closing in and they caught me again. This time, right on the corner of Park and Church Street.

I couldn’t fight them off this time and they managed to pull my sweatpants all the way off and were grabbing at the waistband of my running shorts. This is when time started to slow down. It was like watching a movie in slow-motion. I couldn’t stop it from happening and all I could do was think, “Where are all the teachers?” hoping that someone would help me, but no one stopped them. I held on to my shorts with a death grip for as long as I could.

They simply overpowered me.

Once they pried my hands from my running shorts, I immediately grabbed the bottom of my sweatshirt and pulled it down to cover anything that might get exposed. Then suddenly they took off.

I was lying there, stunned and trying to process the fact that this tooGuys pantsed.k place and I wasn’t dreaming. I stand up and with a firm grip of one hand on the bottom of my sweatshirt, pulling it down to cover myself up, I reach down and pull up my shorts that were wrapped around my ankles.  I am safely covered back up.

There wasn’t any noise. It just seemed to me there was complete silence and it is then that I notice that nearly every student that was moving towards their respective busses had stopped and now were staring. I look up and see high school students that I am friends with, classmates and kids I have known my entire life just peering out the school bus windows. Their eyes opened wide and filled with the horror of what they just witnessed.

Sure… there were some that were laughing and thought it was hilarious. I am also sure that some were genuinely upset at what had taken place in front of them. But make no mistake, all of them were so thankful that it wasn’t them that was humiliated in front of their friends and classmates.

I didn’t know what to do, so I just grabbed my sweatpants and took off running towards the park. I got to practice, and I never said a word to Coach Huffman, and other than a few comments and jokes the seniors said under their breath it was just another day. Practice that day went on as normal. Right or wrong, in that era, hazing was expected. You kept your mouth shut and you moved on. Nothing else would have happened to me. My initiation was now complete. 

I walked home that night after practice and I went straight up to my room. I was embarrassed and upset. I was sure that my sister had heard what happened and would have reported it to my mom. But if my sister knew, she never said a word to me or to my mother about it. I just could not help but think about who saw what and how humiliating it was. I didn’t sleep much. I could only think about what I was going to face the next day at school.

I wasn’t wrong. The next day, all hell broke loose. 

The first indication was when I had a friend of mine come up to me as I walked into the school and the first thing out of his mouth was, “Hey, nudie!!” I just stopped in my tracks and the only thing I wanted to do was to turn around and head back home. I knew that wasn’t an option.

I continued to walk down the hall towards my locker. No one else said a word to me. Oak Harbor High School (Ohio) - WikipediaThey either hadn’t heard of the event or were just being told as I walked down the hall. Either way, by the time they took homeroom attendance, I could tell most people had heard.

As I sat down in my homeroom class, I had a few people ask me what happened, and I told them. They said that my version isn’t what really happened and that I was lying. Can you believe that? Why would I lie? I was there, and shouldn’t I know what happened? One version they had heard, was that I was completely naked running across the whole front of the Junior High. I had done it intentionally. I was streaking and that I took my own clothes off and I blamed the seniors after I was caught by a teacher in the front of the school. Another version had it that I was crying like a baby and I ran home completely naked to my mommy. At least in the second version, the only thing that was correct was that it was the seniors that de-pantsed me. The details of both versions were not even close to the truth of the event.  

Isn’t it funny how fast a story can spread throughout the student body? I could sense their eyes peering at me and I could only imagine the versions that were being told. Like most things a story gets twisted and sometimes the facts are not part of the story that is being told. By the time I left the homeroom, to head to my first-period class, I had already heard enough to know that this whole event was not going to end well. 

I never made it to my first-period class. As I walked out the door of my homeroom, the assistant principal, Mr. Johns, was waiting for me outside the door. He told me I needed to head to the main school office. On my way there, I had to walk by the senior hallway and all eyes were looking at me. For some reason, I felt like I was in trouble for something. I didn’t ask for this and I tried to avoid it at all costs. Maybe I should have let them catch me in the parking lot in the back of the high school. I still would have been de-pantsed, but no one would be any wiser about it and it would just be a rumor that would run its course and disappear in a few days. But this wasn’t going to work out that way.

I walked into the office and I was quickly led into Mr. Johns office. There sat Larry St Clair, a police officer with the Oak Harbor police department. Larry asked me what happened, and I told him. He told me that there was a complaint filed with the The World's Best Photos of crownvictoria and policecar - Flickr ...police department and that he needed to find out the facts. He already heard a bunch of different versions. I told him that my version was the real story and he wrote down everything I said. Then he asked for the names of the students that did this. I told him that I didn’t want to say. Larry said that he already knew but that he just needed confirmation from me. I was put in a difficult position and after about 10 minutes of pressure from Mr. Johns and Officer St Clair, I finally told them the names of the seniors that did it. I was then taken out of the office and was told to sit in a chair in the office hallway just down from Mr. Johns office. 

What happened next was a never-ending parade of people moving in and out of the office. Coach Huffman was taken in and out of the office, then all the seniors, each of them glaring at me as they walked out of the office. Soon after, I saw the parents of the seniors each brought in and out of the office with their sons. At times, the discussions in that office would get loud, and even at times, I was sure that there was shouting. 

I sat out in the hallway for a few hours. I couldn’t hear any of the conversations. The only thing I was aware of was the glare from each senior as they left the office with their parent. I was told to head to class and no one from the administration of Oak Harbor High School ever said another word to me about the incident. 

Later that day, I would find out through the “rumor mill” that the seniors who participated in the act were kicked off the team. The other rumor was that the only reason they were kicked off the team was that my mom was the one who filed a police report and had threatened a lawsuit. The truth was, up to that point, my mom had no idea that it even took place.

I wanted to have things just go back to normal. But I guess that was too much to hope for. A strange silence hovered where ever I went that day. It was like the other students were told not to speak of it to me directly. I am sure that it was being talked about but none of the conversations were with me. By the time I went to practice that day, the lockers of those involved were cleaned out. We didn’t practice at the park anymore and we would run at the school for the remainder of the year.

Runner2I ran on the varsity squad before the incident and I ran on it afterward. I would continue to run the last few meets and participate in the league championships at the end of the year. After the season, I was awarded my Varsity Letter. Jim Blausey and I were the first in our class to letter. I deserved that letter. I earned it. I worked hard for it. I would have lettered anyway. People said I would not have received it if I hadn’t cried to my mom and told on the seniors. Now that never made any sense to me. I did not cry to my mom. I wasn’t the one who told her. As a matter of fact, I have no idea how she found out. I never had a discussion with her about the event.

As far as getting the seniors kicked off the team, I was forced to give the names of those that did it. The yearbook says that one of them said that the discipline they received was unfair. The only one who was treated unfairly was me. I never received an apology from any of the seniors. In a strange twist, I somehow was blamed for them getting kicked off the team. In today’s world, there would have been a lawsuit against the school by all parties involved.  

I have to say that I changed because of this incident. It was the beginning of a quest that I made for myself. I was already tired of only being known as Linda Lee’s little brother or the brother of those boys who were killed at the end of Benton Street. Now I was known as the person who was de-pantsed in front of the High School and the person who got all the seniors kicked off the cross-country team. I tried to hide my frustration and I tried to be above it, but the damage had been done and I had to find something that was mine. I had to find a place where I wasn’t someone’s little brother or the kid that got de-pantsed in front of the whole school.

There was nothing I could do. I was a freshman and it would be another year or so before I could drive and transfer to someplace where I could start over. STemple Christian Academy (Fremont, OH) Home | MaxPrepso, I did my time and after I received my driver’s license after my sophomore year, I made the decision to transfer. I left the Oak Harbor school system and made a new start somewhere else. I got a full-time job at H.J. Heinz and worked from 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM every night and went to school during the day (something that is not legal today). I paid for my own tuition to attend a private, Christian School for my junior and senior years of school.

I don’t regret the decision, it was what was best for me at the time.  But I must admit, to thi1979 Oak Harbor High School Yearbook - Classmatess very day, I feel like I was cheated out of graduating from the hometown I grew up in. That is part of the underlying motivation for this book. It is an attempt to re-connect to the footsteps I put down all those years ago. There are not many things in life I would want to change. I am who I am because of these stories about my life. The good and the bad. However, if there was one event that I wish I could change, it would be this one.

Whenever someone asks me where I went to high school, I still tell them proudly, Oak Harbor.

I know it isn’t the truth and I know you won’t find my Senior picture in the 1979 Harbor Lites yearbook. The truth is, that picture faded into anonymity on an October afternoon in 1975 on the corner of Park and Church Street, when a hazing, a believed harmless prank, ended up not being so harmless.

I Am Not Discouraged

My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.

Vigilantes shot Ahmaud Arbery to death. He was a 25-year-old unarmed black man jogging through their neighborhood. Viewing Arbery through the lens of their own prejudice, they presumed that a running black man must be a criminal.

My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.

The impact from the COVID-19 virus continues.

Millions have lost their jobs. Businesses have shuttered. Two Southern Union students test positive for COVID-19 | CBS 42Families face shortages of life’s essentials. Those with the fewest resources at the beginning of the pandemic have been the hardest hit.

We are all feeling the strain, especially since none of us can see clearly when this will end and what the new normal will be like. And yet some refuse to take even simple measures to protect their vulnerable neighbors from infection.

My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.

I am currently unemployed.  After almost 25 years at a company I loved, the business was sold, the plant closed, and I was left without a job. In this time of pandemic, it is next to impossible to find a job that is remotely close to what I had all those years.

I still continue to look.

My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.

My sister-in-law, Lynn is in the middle of her second round of ovarian cancer.

Another friend was diagnosed with brain cancer last week.

I have no words to describe my feelings other than cancer sucks. I hate it.

My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.

When I dwell on the state of things, I am sad and outraged, anxious, and appalled.

In other words, my heart is troubled.

Some of you might be tempted to share with me an especially Jesus-y sounding bit of advice.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”

(John 14:1)

So, let me just be straight up here.

If you’re telling me—if Jesus were telling me—that having faith means that the world won’t break my heart, give me a migraine, and sometimes send me running for the airsickness bag, then I’ll never be faithful.

Now…  I don’t mean that life on this planet is only a crushing of your soul.

I am not discouraged, because… | | Dont Give Up WorldMy spirit soars at the everyday heroism of doctors, nurses, assisted-living workers, and the many other true essential workers that fill in the gap that I cannot do.

I find peace when I write

I find peace and comfort in the naive goofiness of my grandsons.

Sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights leave me breathless.

Hanging with my wife eases my soul.

I could go on and on…

And yet, greed, selfishness, violence, prejudice, oppression, poverty, unemployment, and cancer stir something deep within me.

These ways of being—and the carnage they leave in their wake—can not stand.

We must resist them. And we must persevere in our pursuit of a world in which every human being is treated with the dignity they deserve as the beloved children of God. A world where no one is expendable. No one is replaceable.

In other words, we cannot allow ourselves to be discouraged. DON'T BE DISCOURAGED! — Steemit

As it turns out, that’s what Jesus was telling his friends on the night before he died.

He wanted to make sure His recipients knew that whether they were younger or older, parents or children, men or women, all could be encouraged in the truth that God was at work among them; He was near and knowable as their Father.

Here’s my rather loose and very amplified translation of the passage I mentioned above:

Don’t give up. Hang in there. Keep loving like I’ve been teaching you. Things will get messy, and loving will leave a mark. But I’m in this with you. Sometimes it won’t seem like we’re getting anywhere, but trust me, love wins. (John 14:1)

Just Keep Walking – Shelly CalcagnoIn other words, Jesus acknowledges that walking the way of love is difficult.

We may grow weary and feel disheartened.

But we do not walk alone. Jesus walks with us. Or more accurately, He dwells within us as both guide and source of strength.

I admit. At the moment, my heart is troubled.

Maybe yours is too.

But I am not discouraged.

Let’s just keep walking.

The New Normal

Stay-home fatigue is a thing.

Without intending to do so, most of us have discovered over the past weeks that much of our former lives ran on automatic pilot.

Study shows we are on autopilot most of the time – MindfulbalanceRoutines like the workday and the school week, grocery shopping, and hitting the gym structured our days (ok… not the gym so much for me), populated our to-do lists, and focused our attention.

The what, when and where of life had a default setting.

We could function fine, well mostly fine, without reflecting on it.

In other words, things were normal.

We didn’t have to start each day strategizing how to secure toilet paper, keep the kids from melting down by noon, and stop ourselves from eating all the snack food in a single sitting.

Alone. In the closet. So, nobody catches us.

Since the coronavirus crashed onto our shores, we have lost normal.

We have lost most of the simple, habitual patterns of life.

Now we have to plaCoronavirus: Adapting to the 'new normal' amid a pandemic - BBC Newsn… strategizing and organizing everything.

Every. Stinking. Day.

It’s exhausting.

I have heard it over and over: “I’m ready for things to get back to normal.”

I have said it too.

I miss the routine. I miss my grandkids. I miss jumping in the car and run errands without feeling like it is a dangerous mission to Mars.

Coronavirus: Adapting to the 'new normal' amid a pandemic - BBC NewsI continue to stay at home as much as possible for the sake of my neighbors. I commend you for doing the same.

But if we have learned anything from the pandemic’s disruption of daily life, it’s that we have cruised through much of our lives without really thinking about it.

Sometimes normal stands in the way of a new way of living. A way that is truer to who we really are.

Don’t get me wrong. It is human to mourn the loss of normal. There is much to be grateful for in the lives that we inhabited before COVID-19 swept across the globe.

And yet, while the old normal is suspended, we have the opportunity to discern what about that old normal is not worth going back to.

Actually… we who follow Christ have a holy invitation to let that go.

Followers of Jesus are resurrection people. We’ve staked our lives on the promise that, as Paul puts it, those who are in Christ are a New Creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) And to be a new creation means that we not only accept but look for a new normal.

Jesus does more than repair what is broken, merely putting things back the way image-assetthey used to be. The resurrection brings a New Heaven and a New Earth. The former things pass away. The old normal passes away. And God brings into being a New Normal in Christ.

Okay, I’ll admit it. The New Heaven and the New Earth are a long way off.

Infinitely and eternally far off.

But the pattern of dying and rising that draws us ever closer to it happens every day in ways both small and great.

Each individual life consists of habits. Habits of thinking, feeling, and acting.

It’s our normal.

And some of that normal—even good and beloved parts of it—must be left behind to allow something more to emerge.

An old self must die so that a truer, more loving self can emerge.

Our communities have social, cultural, economic, and political patterns. Justice and peace are the ideals of community life. And the patterns we have established provide that for some of us.  

To achieve the justice and peace we all desire, an old normal must give way to a new normal. As we tell our own history, the American Revolution sought to precisely do that. To displace tyranny with the ideal of freedom and equality for all.

The Apostle Thomas understood that Jesus was talking about a New Normal.

In comparison to his friends, he was quick to see that the new normal would emerge from the grave of the old normal. That to be a person of the resurrection meant that he would have to let go of the comforts of the old normal. (John 20:1-31)

What Thomas saw in Jesus’ hands and feet were not disfiguring scars. Instead, he saw that Jesus’ wounds had been transformed into breath-taking icons of divine love.

The agony that Jesus endured had not been left in the past. Jesus himself had been transformed.

Transformed into a truer Jesus. The Jesus that Peter, James, and John had once glimpsed on the Mount of the Transfiguration.

In other words, Thomas wanted reassurance from Jesus himself before he let go of the old normal. Reassurance that letting go is the way to the new normal.

Like you, I am really tired of staying at home.

But I want to do more than go back to normal.

I’m looking for the New Normal.

The New Normal (TV series) - Wikipedia

Recognizing My Grandfather

James Russell Lee died on Christmas Eve 1986.

I lost my Grandfather.

His heart simply gave out… it was his time. https://thelegacybuilder.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/grandpascan.jpg

I would like to say that I accepted the fact that he was gone with reverence and understanding – but I can’t. His death came as a crushing blow to me. It was sudden and I was up in Michigan when I should have been at his side.

Only a few days before he was holding my first-born son in his hands… now my son would be cheated from knowing the man that made me proud of who I was.

Nathan is now 33 and understandably has no recollection of his great grandfather.

And yet I recognize my grandfather in Nathan.

Facial recognition usually plays an important role in our day-to-day ability to identify other people. Apps now mimic our neurological abilities, making it possible for your mobile phone or your tablet to unlock itself for you when it registers that it’s really you.

So, you may assume that Nathan resembles my grandfather.Nate

But Nathan shares no facial features with his great grandfather. Those who know my son often say that he favors his father. Me.

Nevertheless, Nathan regularly brings my grandfather to mind for me.

For instance, Nathan’s quirky sense of humor, his childlike affection for babies, his unwavering kindness, and the cheerful grit that he shows brings my grandfather to life right before my eyes.

I hear echoes of my grandfather’s spirit in the way that Nathan carries himself in this world.

I do not see my grandfather’s face, but I recognize him.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, your face is, well, just your face. You may be male or female. Old or young. You may trace your heritage to Asia or Africa or Europe. But if you genuinely want to follow Jesus, you hope that other people can feel the echo of his spirit in how you carry yourself in this world.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus put it this way: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

When we love, Jesus is making himself known through us.

To follow Jesus does involve seeking to make Jesus known to others by how we navigate this planet. But Jesus is also showing us that He dwells in those we register as strangers. Jesus urges his disciples to seek Him in the stranger. Every stranger. Even the unlikely and off-putting ones.

Let’s be honeshttps://thelegacybuilder.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/last-pic-scan0001.jpgt. Seeing Christ in the stranger—especially in the hard-to-love stranger—can be a challenge. It can be easy to judge someone or to write them off.

But Jesus urges us to do this instead: Look for a familiar face. His face. Especially in the most unlikely people.

As I see my grandfather in Nathan, my prayer is that I see Jesus in others as well.

But more importantly, may others see and recognize Jesus in me.

Drawing Circles In the Dirt – A Tribute to Dr. Larry Haag

I’ve written many times about my travels when I was a student at Liberty University.  I traveled all over America and to South America and all through the country of Brazil.  I traveled to Africa and the country of South Africa.

As I listened to church this week, I had a memory of something that had happened years ago.  It flooded my mind with such clarity and vividness that it took me by surprise.  It was if I was right back there and nothing had happened in the 35 plus Image may contain: 14 people, including Scott Davis, people smilingyears since then.

The memory was of a church service I was in while traveling with the ministry team when I was a student at Liberty.  We would come to a church and teach and sing about our responsibility to reach the world for Christ.  Now for sure, I had been in hundreds of these same type of services.  Why this specific one stood out and was flooding my memory all these years later was a surprise.

We had a church service somewhere in North Carolina.  I don’t remember the town, but what stands out about this service at this church was I was having problems with the sound system.  I was the sound man for the group.  I had everything set up correctly the night before and tested it but for some reason, I was hearing a local radio station through the speakers.  I was doing everything I could think to do, but I couldn’t stop it from happening.  

Our team leader was Dr. Larry Haag, he was teaching at Liberty after Soundboard Stock Footage Video (100% Royalty-free) 4315025 ...coming back from the mission field in Brazil and he would travel with the team each weekend.

I was so frustrated because the sound was not working properly. Dr. Haag was not shaken by such things. He smiled and finally stood up and said, “We are going to do it old school today. I have done more than my fair share of preaching without a microphone.” 

I kept trying to fix the problem until Dr. Haag looked at me and said, “David, it’s all good. Nothing is going stop the message getting out today, so relax and take the morning off and listen to what God has laid on my heart.”

I smiled and sat down at the soundboard and listened. What happened next is something that has impacted me since that day.

Dr. Haag said the following, “I‘ve always done a small thing when I go to a new place. It’s simple really, but it’s a way for me to remember what I’m here for and who I am.”

“In my mind or if possible, I draw a small circle in the dirt.”

Then I pray. “Lord, begin a revival in this place and begin in this circle.” Then I step into the circle and pray, “And Lord, begin with me.”

“This simple exercise does two important things for me. It reminds me that my presence anywhere is a chance for God to work in that place. And, it’s also a reminder that any place I am I will touch other lives. How I interact with them can draw them to the Lord, to his love, or turn them away. I pray that my little exercise will allow God to work in that place and in me.”

“So, let me invite you to do my little exercise. Draw a circle in the dirt and then step in it.”

Image may contain: 1 person

“You are in this place, in this time, encountering people for eternal purposes… never forget that. If a simple reminder like this helps you I invite you to join me as I draw circles in the dirt.”

Dr. Haag’s words were simple… yet so profound.

Sometimes it is the simple lessons that have the biggest impact.  I almost missed the message by being distracted by a sound system that didn’t work properly.

That Sunday was one of the few services where I got up from my seat at the soundboard and made my way down front to the alter. I had to make a few things right.

Sometimes you get so busy doing “God’s work” that you forget that it begins with you being in the right place.

When I think back to a message that I heard in 1983, I think of the message and illustration that has stuck with me all these years. When I think about it, I remember some messages that I heard way back in Sunday School than the ones I have heard as an adult.

Dr. Haag passed acircleway a few years ago and he is in heaven. I never really told him about the impact he had on my life before he passed. But this I do know… God welcomed Dr. Haag into heaven with the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

May my life forever be influenced by Dr. Haag and his wonderful message… “I draw a small circle in the dirt. and I say, Lord, begin a revival in this place and begin in this circle. I then step into the circle and pray, “And Lord, begin with me.”

May it forever be true in your life as it is in mine.

 

Steps Taken

I wish I could tell you there was a specific day when I looked at the watch, and knew the exact time when it all changed but I can’t.

I took a step.

I would go look in the mirror to make sure I was still the same. It was a waste of time because even though I see myself every day and never noticed a difference. Only old photo albums will ever tell the truth.

I took another step.

I am carrying a backpack, one that is full of yesterday’s discoveries.   I am making space for tomorrow’s unknowns. Never really worrying about today. Just feeling lost while being in the present not knowing I am here until I realize I was.

I take another step.

The future seems further away than ever
even if I’m closer now than before.
Maybe I should’ve copied someone else’s paper
back when they had us write down our dreams
instead of scribbling down anything
because I was told I could be anything.

I take another step.

Some people are happy.
Some people are sad.
Is the future all a lie?
Covered up with fake smiles and money
because we have to do something
instead of anything.

I take another step

Remember the song on the playground
about love and a baby carriage?
It’s not as funny anymore
some of the ears that heard those words
now see them with their eyes
and feel them every day with their heart.

I take another step.

I told my kids to grow up.  They don’t know what that means.
So, they dressed a certain way and used words they didn’t know the meanings to.
Until the day finally comes, when life steals their childhood for good.

I take another step.

We are told to never compare ourselves to others.
Yet everyone always feels the need to ask questions
just to see if they are winning the race.
It’s all a little game
meant to build up egos and tear down others.
All in the name of being polite.

I take another step.

None of this mattered a short time ago.
Answers were never needed for a list of questions
nor were explanations given to the unseen and unheard.
It is a different world now
and my age is the all access pass
that I can never refund.

I take another step

With all the time that passes,
I move further away from the person I was
and closer to the person I will be.
Always being the person I am
it’s the only way I’ll ever get there is
one foot in front of the other.

Steps taken.

One step at a time.

Blog: Taking the first steps in Talent Management Journey — People ...

We’re Winning This Game

How you doing?

For so many with high anxiety, depression and general fears, this is so hard.

I am no exception.Tell Us Your COVID Concerns and Clinical Tips | Psychiatric Times

There’s no end date. 

We don’t know the outcome.

We’re facing something we’ve never seen before. Businesses small and large are facing challenges they never predicted.

Can I offer a word of encouragement and maybe a charge for when we come out of this?

Some you know I coached basketball for many years.  I loved it. When I quit coaching, it became one of my life regrets, because I always wished I would have coached longer.

It never leaves you. It is in my blood. It will always be a part of me.

I learned so much through coaching.

They say basketball is a game of runs.

Basketball Hoop 2A game can sometimes just flow… everything is working.

Offense. Defense.

Your team instinctively runs the plays you have practiced all week and it all comes together in a wonderful, climatic, easy, exciting portion of the game.

Then… it hits you when are not ready for it. The opponent now gets their run of things. Suddenly your team forgets everything they have been coached. They forget the fundamentals of basketball and as a coach, you wonder why you put the effort in at all.

Mind you… this all takes place in the time span of about 6 or 7 minutes… sometimes even in a shorter period of time.

What do you do as a coach?

You call TIMEOUT!Coaching

You call timeout to stop the momentum.

You call timeout to get control.

You call timeout to take a breath.

You call timeout to regroup.

You know it’s no different than with what we are experiencing now.

The reality is that we have been on a pretty good roll. Life was cruising with a few bumps here and there. Then it happened. Our opponent just hit us with something we never saw coming. It happened so fast. In just a few moments, we got hit with a run. The gym is loud. We’re looking to one another to try to figure it out. The score is changing, and momentum just went to the other team.

Every coach and armchair quarterback at home knows what you have to do and do it fast…

You call TIMEOUT!

You call timeout to stop the momentum.

You call timeout to get control.

You call timeout to take a breath.

You call timeout to regroup.

Across the nation and world, we just reached the huddle.

KBA Basketball Coaches Clipboard Playmaker & Case - Walmart.com ...So, let me grab the clipboard and do some coaching if it’s okay…

My basketball coach friends will know what an “ATO” is. It’s known as the “after-timeout” play.

When you burn a precious timeout, especially to stop a run, a great ATO can make all the difference in the world. In a close game, an ATO could make the difference between a win or a loss.

If I was facing the nation right now, I would use this timeout to draw up an ATO that would be aggressive, strong and take back control of the game. I would look the nation in the eye in the huddle and say that “when we come out of this, WE ARE WINNING THIS GAME!” We’re going to win it because we are going to punch back with everything that got us here. We’re going to work together as a team. We’re going to rely on each other and when we get tired, we’re going to sub in another player with just as much energy.

When we come out of this… we’re winning this game.

To the small business owner facing an unknown future… when we come out of this, we’re winning this game!

To all those that got let go from their job (including me)… when we come out of this, we’re winning this game!

To the students that lost seasons, proms, graduations and so many other things… when we come out of this, we’re winning this game!

To all you on the front lines in healthcare, first responders and in the supply chain… when we come out of this (because of YOUR efforts), we’re winning this game!

To the teachers using technology to reach students and keep them engaged… when we come out of this, we’re winning this game!

To this nation that is reeling from a run from the opponent, when we come out of this…we’re winning this game!

Friends, we are in a timeout. It's a scary time to be an official': Refs call foul after two ...

Be thankful for it. 

It’s tough.

Our team is tired.

We’re depleted.

In some cases, we’re even in some foul trouble.

Take a deep breath…

Because when we come out of this timeout…

WE’RE WINNING THIS GAME!!!

As Good As It Gets

I was thinking the other day about this growing old thing. 

One day, you are just a kid and the next day you, well, aren’t. 

I remember high school graduation like it was yesterday, but no, it was 41 years Image result for Graduation 1979ago. 

A mere blip on the cycle of life. 

Those days were a lot of fun, but they also contained a lot of angst. We wanted a lot of stuff that we were too young to have. We wanted to put school in the rear-view mirror and overlook the prospects of having to get a job.

We wanted to have our own money, our own place, and make our own rules. We wanted the good life and we wanted it right now.

Well, if there is anything to be said about getting old, I guess it is that I have all that now. I married my high school sweetheart. And, just for good measure, I don’t have acne either. 

What I do have, however, is an increasing resistance by my body to respond to certain commands like ‘stand up’ or ‘run’ (like that’s going to happen).  I guess you could call that getting old. 

Image result for Outliving your warrentyI prefer to think of it as outliving my warranty. 

There is no such thing as OEM parts for a body. They are all produced by aftermarket manufacturers, so we start to turn into an entity consisting of spare parts.

Time was, if I dropped something, I would simply pick it up. Today, I find myself contemplating whether I really need it anymore. 

In my youth, if I fell down, people would just laugh. Today if I fall down, they gasp… except for my grandsons… they seem to enjoy when grandpa falls down.

All a matter of perspective, I guess.

I’m happy to say that my mind seems to run pretty well. Oh, I do forget things, and find a lot of my conversations contain the phrases ‘did I tell you this before’ or ‘now what was I going to say’? 

But that’s OK because my wife will reply ‘Huh, what did you say’?

In retrospect, I’ve got to say I’m kind of enjoying this aging thing. I think senility will be a rather smooth transition for me. I’ve noticed that if I’m feeling cranky, people are not surprised. If I ask for the senior discount, I don’t get challenged. 

Image result for AS good as it getsSince I suffer from cellulitis and peripheral neuropathy, I have a handicapped sticker in my car.  Have you ever watched someone park in a handicapped space and, when they get out of the car you check them out for external signs of infirmity? 

Well, I’ve noticed when I get out of my car, people just nod.

I could probably do without that.

Anyway, it is what it is, I guess. 

This is probably going to be as good as it gets.

Learning to Say NO

I’m trying. I’m not there yet. I still say yes to almost everything.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I am not ready to become a curmudgeon.

As I have said before, I am not the guy that yells at the neighbor’s kids to get off my lawn. I don’t ever want to be that “guy.”

Image result for learning to say noHowever, seconds after I say yes to certain things I regret saying yes. It’s not that I don’t want to help people or assist when and where I can. It is more of a mindset in my head. I have never been able to really say no to things. My mind screams no and my lips say yes.

Don’t misinterpret what I am saying or meaning… I will always do for my family and what I feel is necessary. I will say yes to almost anything for my family.

In addition,  I am learning that with over 40 years working I have said yes to just about everything at the places I was employed. If it wasn’t illegal or immoral I would do anything I ever was asked.  I now see that the hours that I stayed late without pay and all of the “stuff” I did still finds me unemployed at 58.  I lost my job due to a corporate buyout and I have worked the last year closing down the business I sweat blood for. At no fault of my own… saying yes to everything related to my job still lead to my unemployment.

Image result for learning to say noSometimes I feel like a target, meaning people learn who will say yes and who will say no to things. When you deal with these people and you finally say no… all hell breaks loose. Some people who I finally had to say no to a few things have completely cut me out of their life and they went on to take advantage of others. I am no worse for them doing that.

I’m slowly learning that one of the most liberating parts of getting older is learning how beautiful and empowering it is to say no. The keyword there is learning… because I have to change my mindset to convince my lips to say no.

I haven’t said it much, or at least I don’t think I have.

I think we could use a little more “no” in the world.

And, of course, I understand how much we all love the word “yes” and the kind-hearted people who use it. It’s such a generous word—the ultimate people-pleaser.

In fact, let’s call “yes” the hero of the dictionary—a positive affirmation for what is possible. 

To say yes is to join in, take charge, and find a way to make something happen. To say yes is to move mountains, find cures, and solve problems. Yes, pushes the boundaries and takes us to places we never thought we’d go. 

You want a beautiful next chapter of life? Say yes, every chance you get. Yes, to a better job, yes to more health, improved relationships, and new adventures. Yes, to joy, challenge, laughter, peace, compassion, happiness, and love. 

Saying yes can rock your world. And I’m all for it. 

However, like all good paradoxes, yes can also destroy us or turn us into puppets Image result for Say No to yesand clones.

Yes, can make us do things we don’t want to do or more importantly it can make us do things we shouldn’t do.

Yes, may be the language of the hero, but no is the language of the walk-to-your-own-beat, live your own truth warrior.

If yes is Superman, no is Batman.

IMG_4058
Snapchat created photo… no, I do own a Batman suit. lol.

Batman is a bit darker, but still, a superhero and arguably the second most powerful word in our vocabulary is no.

I have always considered myself more of a Batman as opposed to Superman… lol.

Yes, my friends, it’s time to shake our heads and wag our fingers. It’s time to border up the windows, lock the doors, and learn how to say no. 

If it makes it easier to swallow, think about it as saying say yes to no. 

Learning to say no can lead to and finding a beautiful yes.

Your life will never be the same.

Something to Ponder:

A good no shouldn’t be defiant, unyielding, absolute, or without motivation. That’s not the knee-jerk liberation we seek. A good no should be quiet and confident, a peaceful mantra for living your authentic truth. 

Challenging Ways to Practice Saying No 

Here are a few suggestions for putting a few more life-affirming no’s into your life. I am sure that you can add a few of your own…

  • Say no to putting yourself last. You can’t give away what you don’t have, whether that’s energy, love, humor, or joy. Take care of yourself first, and the world will be better off. 
  • Say no to too much overtime, unreasonable deadlines, and impossible workloads that leave no time for joy and a deeper search for meaning. Schedule your life so that your work serves your inner and outer worlds. Make the same time and commitment for your inner journey that you do for your career or your family. 
  • Say no to excessive television, electronics, news, politics, gossip, food, drink, or anything that brings you imbalance, fatigue, and illness, no matter how harmless, pleasurable, or intoxicating it may be.
  • And while you’re at it, say no to people who try to make you feel guilty for not doing more. 
  • Say no to friends who infringe on your space, covet your time, suck your energy, and give nothing in return (you know who they are). Aim for creativity and compassion as you firmly put this into practice.
  • Say no to work you don’t want to do, places you don’t want to live, and situations that no longer serve your needs. 
  • Say no to blindly adopting the attitudes, beliefs, and mindsets of those around you. Discover new ones that challenge and inspire you to live and create differently.  
  • Say no to always being the knight in shining armor. While it’s great to be there for others, don’t get trapped into thinking it always has to be you who is the shoulder to cry on, throw the surprise party, or house-sit the neighbor’s pet. This can be hard, especially when it comes to family and friends, but if your no comes neutrally and from the place of your truth, it’s the right word. If someone resents you for it, then the favor wasn’t asked with a spirit of gratitude, which validates that it wasn’t in harmony for you to say yes in the first place.

The beauty of no is that it asks us what to leave out. “No,” asks us to recognize what doesn’t work, and in doing so, to discover what does.  

When you think about it… no is yes in disguise—a small shake of the head that becomes the line we draw in the sand—a choice and a statement of what we believe and how we want to live.

Yes or no should not define you… this should:

The truth is that life isn’t about which side you’re on, which candidate you support, Image result for Stop saying yes to everthingwhich views you hold on an issue but life is about how you treat one another.

Are you kind? Do you see others as more important than yourself? Do you yield at the light? Maybe open the door for an elderly person? Say thank you? Do you tip well? Do you help those who are struggling? Encourage those who are down? Life is not a competition to see who wins. If any of us lose we all lose.

My favorite verse is hidden at the end of 1 Corinthians. It’s verse 16:14- “Do everything in love.”

That’s it. Four words.

And they sum up a life lived well.

Don’t live in fear, live boldly, love well and see those around you.

If they don’t finish well then neither do you.

Saying No… just may be our secret weapon for a better life for you and those around you.