Tag: Seinfeld

Lost and Found

Along with our kids, my wife and I worked for a company that held motivational and instructional conferences for small business owners.  We used to travel one weekend each month to Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.   While my wife was organizing and coordinating the event from the front office, I was responsible for what we called the “Tool Room”, which was basically the book store where we sold books, tapes, CD’s and other material to help the small business owner build their businesses.  Our kids worked the cash registers and computers as they filled out orders for the more than 10, 000 people who would attend these conferences.  It was a great time in our lives and we all have good memories of the time we worked and traveled together on these trips.

The only aspect that I really hated about the whole experience is that I had to drive the truck to each of these events. While my wife and kids were enjoying each trip in the cRyder Truckomfort of our family van, I was driving a rental truck from Ryder.  If you have never crossed the border in a rental truck after 9-11 then you have never really experienced anything in your life.  Entering into Canada was not the problem.  Getting back into the United States was the issue.  The paperwork was endless and difficult to get it just the way you needed it to cross the border.  About the time you had it down the rules would change.  More than once I did not know about these changes until I got to the gate.  Then the experience would get real… real fast.  

Now I understand that the Border Patrol and Homeland Security Department have a job to do.  I am thankful for the hard work and dedication it takes keeping the United States safe from those who would do us harm.  But as a rule of thumb, if you crossed back into the US, the inquiry and subsequent search made you a tad bit defensive.  You were always assumed guilty and you would have to prove your innocence.  It always seemed to me to be like the old Seinfeld episode of the “Soup Nazi”.  Stand here and don’t speak until spoken to, don’t smile and don’t lean on the counter.  


At any rate, this week I was thinking about the trips we took to Canada and the fun times I had working not only with my family but of working with the friends I made from Canada.  Even though I am friends with some of them on Facebook, I still miss them.  The  memories we made will always be favorites of mine.  I could tell story after story of all the crazy fun stuff we did all those years ago.  They were great times indeed.

I remember specifically one incident that I have carried with me all these years.

After being delayed at the border for a few hours, I was really late getting to Hamilton for our set up for the conference the next morning.  I finally get to Copps Coliseum and all the doors were locked at the loading docks where we would unload our “stuff”.

I finally found an unlocked door and made my way into the empty arena.  I knew where the Security Office was and I made my way down the hall to that office.  I pushed the buzzer on the outside of the office door and the Security Guard sees me and waves for me to open the door.  He tells me that before he can let me in the hall where we needed to set up for the conference, he had to finish doing the inventory of the “Lost and Found” that was delivered to them after the hockey game that was at the arena earlier that evening.

I walked with hilostm into the Lost and Found storage room and watched him as he took inventory off the cart full of items brought in that night.  The Lost and Found Storage Room  was huge.  There was no furniture, but there were rows and rows of shelving units.  There was barely a place to stand as I navigated my way through the  maze of shelves and carts full of coats , hats and gloves.   In hindsight, I guess I expected a walk-in closet. But the room was triple the size of what I’d have guessed it to be. And in it, from wall to wall and floor to ceiling were racks and racks filled with bags of all shapes and sizes.  I was shocked at what I saw.  Besides the standard coats, hats and gloves that you would expect to find, there were cameras, laptops, cell phones, suitcases, briefcases and bags and bags of what looked like clothes.  Just about anything you can imagine I saw in that room.  

 “Whoa!  What a mountain of stuff!”, I said.

 “You’re telling me!”, he chuckled.

“All this stuff is missing?”

 “Not missing…  They’re just waiting for their owners to pick them up.”

“How in the world do people just forget to get their stuff? Don’t they realize they don’t have their camera or laptop?”, I ask.

“That’s thL&Fe least of it! You’d be amazed to know what’s just sitting here, waiting to be claimed.”

I now think back to what I’d seen that night.  Mounds of forgotten, lost and abandoned things, sitting in a holding room, waiting for the right someone to show up and take them home.  How could people be so careless or so reckless?  Didn’t these people know that they “lost” something valuable?  Did they not care that their personal belongings were just waiting there for them to claim?

And in the last few days since I remembered this story,  the words of that Security Guard have lingered in my head and my heart.

“You’d be amazed to know what’s just sitting here, waiting to be claimed.”

I’ve caught myself wondering if that could be said of me. What else is lying up on a shelf, forgotten, lost or abandoned and waiting for me to claim it?

The more I live, the more I’m convinced that fulfilling our purpose in life isn’t automatic.  I sure wish I could believe we don’t miss anything important in this life, but I can’t honestly make that case. We don’t accomplish everything we’re meant to do just by being, or obtain everything meant to benefit us and others simply because we’re moving and breathing.  We have to want it.  We have to want to get what was meant for us.

 Our life is ours to claim. But far too many of us don’t reach for more because we find it hard to believe there could be more for us than what we see.

Jesus Christ has prepared a way of  forgiveness of our sin and a way to eternal Salvation.  It is ours to have.  It is just sitting there waiting for us to “claim” it from a loving God, who provided this by offering up His only Son to die on the Cross for our sins.

Besides the Salvation and Forgiveness that is found in Jesus Christ, there are many other blessings that come from God that are there for us to claim. This week, I’ve spent some time imagining a room filled from floor to ceiling with all the good things meant for us.  Things meant for us to be.  Things meant for us to have. Things for us to do and to give in this life. 

Have you considered and wondered if  there’s more waiting for you?

  • Maybe a deeper love for your family and friends?
  • A greater purpose and fulfillment in your work?
  • Blessings beyond your hopes and needs?
  • More for you to contribute to the world around you?
  • Maybe a legacy that would shape generations to come?
  • What if your life was meant for more than you’ve ever hoped or imagined?

 With open hands and an open heart… ask for it.

 You’d be amazed to know what’s just sitting here, waiting to be claimed.

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Is Your Tank Spiritually Empty?

Only a few more days until Christmas.   It seems hard to believe but another year has passed by and I am putting up the same Christmas decorations that I swear I had just put away the other day.

This year, I think that my wife has personally tried to end the current economic crisis all by herself.  She pretty much cleared out the mall in Washington D.C. on Black Friday and more recently in Toledo.

With that in mind, have you checked out the price of gas these days?

Now I try to economize as much as possible.   I look at every gas station I pass on my way to work, checking out which one has the lowest price; and then, on my way back home, I pull into the best option and fill‘er up.   Loyalty to certain brands plays a bit of a role in my choice; but I still try to find the lowest price.  Lately,  I find that I’ve been filling up more frequently, because eight gallons feels less painful than fifteen.   Plus, I don’t want to get caught short.  So, it’s become a habit.   I regularly check to see what’s in my tank.

When I was younger, I would risk it and try to see how far I could go without running out.  More times than not I would make it.  It was sort of exciting to push the limits and make it.   However,  the thrill of taking these chances and pushing the limits of your car’s ability to run on empty sometimes got the best of me.   I made the mistake of risking it and paying the price of a long walk in the middle of the night to get some gas.

It reminds me of a favorite Seinfeld episode…
When I look back at those times,  when I would risk running out of gas, I see an immature young man that did not really have to face any real consequences for the choices he made.   If I did not make it, well then, I had no one else to blame.  However, it didn’t take too many of those walks on a lonely highway in the middle of the night to teach me to make sure I had enough gas to get to my destination.  I guess that is the process of growing and maturing.   I had walked enough miles to allow myself to learn a lesson.  Now when I see my gas tank hit a quarter tank I start to sweat and try to find a gas station before I find myself walking along another lonely highway.

 

Most of the time, I realize that what we do in our normal, daily lives often has an application to our spiritual lives.  Take my experience with checking my gas tank. Physical fuel is a must to keep a car running.   But what about your soul?  What does it take to keep it running?   What is in your spiritual tank that keeps you running and serving the Lord?  My experience, both personally and what I have observed from others,  is that we don’t keep our spiritual tanks full and we risk living our life with empty spiritual gas tanks.

What do you do to keep your tank full in your relationship with God?
Music?
Prayer?
Bible study?
Fellowship with others?
What helps you the most to refresh yourself in your walk with God?

Your spiritual tank is much more important than your car’s fuel tank. Yet, most of the time, we
don’t even bother to think about it very much.  After all, “there are so many concerns in my life
that occupy my attention.  You know: the economy, my job, the children, my health.”

Yes, that’s all true.   But what happens when your “soul-tank” is empty? When you run out of “soul fuel” how do you feel? Agitated? Pretty empty? Short-tempered? Giving up hope? Angry at God? I think we’ve all experienced one or more of these feelings at some time or another in our life.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.   What I have found is that when I need to be renewed and re-energized, all I have to do is surround myself with the things of God.  I keep a close watch on my life and heart so that I keep myself close to the source of  spiritual fuel I need to get through the day.   If we would only take the same kind of care and preparation to make sure we have spiritual fuel as much as we have for the physical fuel for our car our life would be different.

This year, Christmas could be different for you.   Take time to fill your life with Christ.   It doesn’t cost you anything… it is a free gift.  The best thing is that you can fill up any time you want.  What a deal! It’s yours for the asking.   Make the decision today – to let Jesus fill your tank.  And when you do, you’ll start to see this world in a different light and this could be the best Christmas you have ever experienced.

It’s all up to you.




There are a Few Things I am Thankful for But Make 2009 Go Away

Maybe it’s just me,  but 2009 was a difficult year.  I am not sad to see it go away and be logged into the history books.   As I have reviewed this past year, I have noticed that so many of my posts have been directly related to the things that I was experiencing or thinking about at the time.  I have never written a post to get or gain attention.  I write to clear my head and it relaxes me. With that in mind, I have attached links to previous posts to the various experiences I have encountered this past year.  Please feel free to click on them and re-read some of my favorite posts of 2009.

It has been a year where I have had to deal with some serious health issues.   A few surgeries later, I am in still in recovery mode, trying to deal with the results of the operations.  Sometimes the cure is worse than the problem.  More importantly, this year was a time when I had to endure the loss of the two of the closest friends I have ever had on this earth.

Within a short span of three months, I lost Bob Emrich and Bryan Blakely.   Bryan was my closest childhood friend growing up in Oak Harbor, Ohio.  There wasn’t much that happened to either of  us from the time we were 6 to 18 that we were not involved in together.  As life happens to all of us, after high school we went our separate ways.  We always stayed in touch but we both lived in different parts of the country and we were on different paths.  However, Bryan was part of a foundation in my life and when we were able to get together over the years, it was just like old times.  Thirty years may have passed but it would only be a few moments and we were just like we were when we were 18.  Good times.  He was taken way too soon.

Bob was my mentor and he was the one person that could always point me in the right direction.  He was an example to me of what it means to live a life that would bring honor to his family and to his God.  He showed me how to truly live as Christian in this world.  He taught me more about God’s grace than any preacher that I have ever heard.  No, he was not perfect but he was a perfect example of what God can do in a person’s life if they allow Him to work in their life.  Bob wasn’t a preacher but a truck driver.  I cannot tell you how many times I would call him and he would be winding his way through the mountains of Tennessee or making his way through the corn fields of Iowa.  He always made time for me and always had a good word to say.  I still cannot bring myself to delete his phone number off my phone.

Performing the eulogy at their funerals was the most difficult thing that I have ever done.   I cannot express to you how much I miss them.

This year was also a time where I had to deal with some major health issues.  Without boring you with the details, I had to have two operations.  The second surgery was much more serious than I  was really prepared for and I am still dealing with the results of the operation.  Those results have hindered my ability to write and to do many of the things I did and enjoyed so easily in 2008.

For example, I have completely lost hearing in my left ear and have a 60% loss in my right.   I am on the fast track in becoming deaf.   Anyone who knows me, knows that I love music.  It is something that I have enjoyed my whole life and it is slowly being taken from me.  I have also lost most of my ability to taste food.  Most of my tongue is numb and I have limited ability to even taste what I am eating or drinking.   Finally, my right hand is still asleep.  This hinders my ability to write and typing is much harder than ever before.  The doctor says that while there is no chance that my hearing will come back, I may experience some improvement with some of the other issues.  So, while I am waiting to recover from this surgery,  I am trying to do what my friend Bob would have done.  He would  have called me to talk about the things we were thankful for in spite of the circumstances that we are in.

In honoring his life, I am trying to put into practice what he would have done.  In that process, I realize that I am extremely thankful for many things in my life, in spite of the difficulty of this past year.    One thing in particular that I am thankful for in 2009 is this blog.  Over the year, I have had over 150,000 visitors.  Now I know not all of them read my blog and some visit my blog just to read what new ridiculous and stupid thing  comes out of my mouth and spills out onto these pages.  Like I always say,  I love to write…I never said I write well.

One post that went viral this year was a post about things I am thankful for  called  “A Few of My Favorite Things… .  This post has by far has been my most popular post with over 20,000 hits and still growing.   I wrote that after my first surgery and just posted a few of my favorite things and things I was I was thankful for.   I would like to update it and add to those things and really be thankful for what God has allowed for me to be a part of in 2009.

So here are a few of my favorite things to be thankful for 2009…

And finally, in no particular order, here are a few of the maybe or maybe not so important things  to be thankful for…

So there you have it… a list of a few of my favorite things I am thankful for in my life.  No, the list is not complete and I am sure that there are more things I am thankful for if I would sit and think for a few minutes.    However,  that is for another time.

In closing, I will not be sad to see 2009 go away.  I am looking forward to what God has in store for me in 2010.   The slate is clean and anything is possible.

I will not be surprised by anything that may happen…but then again, maybe it’s just me.