The Birth of a Child

31 08 2017

“A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on. A book that does nothing to you is dead. A baby, whether it does anything to you, represents life. If a bad fire should break out in this house and I had my choice of saving the library or the babies, I would save what is alive. Never will a time come when the most marvelous recent invention is as marvelous as a newborn baby. The finest of our precision watches, the most super-colossal of our supercargo plants, don’t compare with a newborn baby in the number and ingenuity of coils and springs, in the flow and change of chemical solutions, in timing devices and interrelated parts that are irreplaceable. A baby is very modern. Yet it is also the oldest of the ancients. A baby doesn’t know he is a hoary and venerable antique — but he is. Before man learned how to make an alphabet, how to make a wheel, how to make a fire, he knew how to make a baby — with the great help of woman, and his God and Maker.”

(Carl Sandburg)

PS  Today, my wife and I became grandparents for the very first time.  We welcome our grandson, Everett, into our world.  We appreciate your prayers as he requires surgery within the next week.

 

Suggested Resources:

How to Babysit a Grandpa (Jean Reagan & Lee Wildish)

How to Babysit a Grandma (Jean Reagan & Lee Wildish)

 

Image Credit (Note: this is not our grandchild)

 

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Honesty Is Therapeutic…and Right

24 08 2017

    “Honesty is such a lonely word.  Everyone is so untrue.  Honesty is hardly ever heard.  But mostly what I need from you….” 

(Billy Joel)

Life thrives on health.  And healthy relationships thrive on honesty, on commitment to truth, whatever pains may ensue.  This is the same for all human interactions—with spouse, children, parents, colleagues, friends–even with God.  But most of all, with oneself.

I’m learning that in order to be honest with others, I must first be honest with myself.  I have to summon the moral courage to take a good look at where I’m at, what I like and dislike, where I’m going and with whom I’m going.

My wife has been the truest friend I’ve ever had largely because she sees me and tells me the truth, rarely with anything other than love.  She has helped me be courageous in asking myself tough questions about life and answering with the antidote of truth, even though it hurts.  One of my goals is the practice of radical honesty, primarily with myself.  This will help me be more authentic with others because I’m a unity, rather than a potpourri of different selves adapting to the moment.

Go get alone, maybe with a journal and a cup of coffee or glass of wine, whatever, and ask yourself these tough questions and answer honestly:

  • Am I being true to my professed values, both in the public eye as well as out of line of sight? There is inherent tension that visits us when we profess one thing and live another.
  • In my life of faith, do I really believe what I mouth as creed or simply parrot something I’ve been taught? Be ruthless on this one.  Nobody gets a free pass.  Someday, you will stand and account for your time here.  It will not be good enough to say “I did this because [insert name] told me this was the right thing to do.”
  • Have I come to terms with the fact that I drove my own car to the place I’m at and to go further in my journey, I’ll have to drive there? Devil didn’t make you do it, the economy either, nor your parents. Did they influence? Of course.  But we either acted or chose not to act.  A tough sell but own this.
  • If money were no option, what would I do for a career? See yesterday’s post.  You have a sacred obligation to provide for your own, even if digging ditches.  But don’t stop there.  Work towards your dream occupation.  President Kennedy was fond of quoting the Greek maxim: “Happiness consists in the full use of one’s faculties along lines of excellence in a life affording them scope.”
  • Am I continuing to nurture relationships that are hurting me? A mantra on this blog but you have to choose your circle of peeps carefully. Do they spur you on or deflate you?  And can you goad them in the direction of their best selves?

Honesty is therapy.  You will ultimately be a much happier person as you really start to tell yourself the way it is this year.  There may be pain at the outset but that will be replaced with more peace, if only because you’re finally authentic.

“To thine own self be true.”

 

Suggested Resources:

Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth (Brad Blanton & Marilyn Ferguson)

Getting Real: Ten Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life (Susan Campbell)

 

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The Thirst for Mercy

2 08 2017

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

(J.R.R. Tolkien)

 

Suggested Resources:

A Severe Mercy (Sheldon Vanauken)

The Name of God Is Mercy (Pope Francis)

Radical Forgiveness: A Revolutionary Five-Stage Process to:- Heal Relationships – Let Go of Anger and Blame – Find Peace in Any Situation (Colin Tipping)

 

Image Credit

 





Careful–Your Tongue Is Loaded!

24 09 2013

Tongue A WeaponIf we had any conception of the power of the spoken word, I’m convinced we’d be different people.  We would handle words—whether spoken or written—like a bomb squad handles a bomb that needs defusing.

As a Christian, I believe the universe was spoken into existence.  Obviously, I was not there to witness it.  But I believe the biblical record when it talks about how the universe was framed:  From the mouth of God.  I’ve no intent to go into the various scientific cosmologies.  But I do believe the record that says “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews 11:3)

If words create worlds, what do they produce when uttered or penned by creatures made in the image of God?  Maybe, as Peter Kreeft says, we should all be wearing crash helmets, considering that words are so powerful.

I’ve served in three different churches as an associate pastor since 1993.  I learned very quickly that words have the power to destroy people and cripple them for years, sometimes for life.  And I learned that people can shoot for the stars with a little encouragement.  That words are creative.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)

Treat your mouth and your pen as either loaded instruments or creative vehicles.  “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” simply does not square with reality.  Try these on your family, friends and associates:

“You’re gonna make it.”

“The best is yet to come.”

“I love you.”

“I forgive you.”

“You can do this.  You have what it takes.”

Watch what happens.  And when tempted to let someone feel the brunt of your anger by your tongue, stop for a bit, think carefully and remember that you are in the possession of a loaded weapon.

Handle with care.

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Can You SEE Me?

14 09 2013

Can You SEE MeI’m learning that to look into the eyes of another human being is not necessarily the same thing as seeing them.  I think the eyes are the most beautiful feature of any human being.  Because when I look into someone’s eyes, I get a glimpse into their soul.

Sometimes I see hope.

Sometimes I see mischief.

Sometimes I see pain.

Sometimes profound goodness.

Often, I see someone whose soul seems to communicate this question: “Do you see me?”

Over the years I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of people.  Perhaps the most complimentary thing I’ve ever heard is when someone remarks thus, “When he is with you, it’s as if you’re the only person on earth.”  Complete focus.  Courtesy.  Eschewing superficiality, manifested in canned replies and hollow laughter.  Undistracted.

Someone has said that one of the most profound expressions of love you can give to another human being is to pay attention to them.

Are you seeing those around you?

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Marry Well! (You Won’t Regret It)

10 09 2013

Photo1The title for this post is not original.  It’s from Bill Hybels’ outstanding book Making Life Work.  Were someone to ask of me advice about what it takes to have a happy life, one of the first things I’d tell them is this: Marry well.  You’ve no idea the wonder and joy that follows on such a decision.  Nor the incredible sorrow that follows when you marry poorly.

(Sweetheart, if he’s a bum now, he’ll probably be a bum long after you marry him.  Dude, if she’s a diva now, chances are diva will grow into a monster.  Avoid.  Like the plague.)

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in life.  Most of the unhappiness I’ve ever experienced was a product of my own skill at doing stupid things.  But one thing I did, with God’s help and goodness, was marry well.

When writing about home and marriage years ago, Michael Card penned the memorable line “that half of your heart that somebody else treasures, the one who’s your forever friend.”  The song aptly titled “Home.”

Boy, that sums it up nicely.

When choosing someone to spend your life with, there are few things more comforting than knowing the one who cares about you at your best  and worst.  Who picks you up and puts you back together again when life crushes you.  Who is there in the dark with words of encouragement and sunshine.  And forgiveness.

In today’s sexually-charged culture, it seems that the friendship factor in choosing one’s spouse is given short shrift.  Those who’ve been married for years will tell you that feelings and romance can ebb and flow.  Eros is capricious if nothing else.  But being married to your soul mate, your best friend can carry you through things nothing else can.

Here’s to the one I love and will grow old with.  The one I dream and pal around with.  The one I’d rather be with more than any other person on Earth.

Kath….





Mandy Patinkin, Dr. Geiger and Success

20 07 2013

Homeland Season 2In 1994, I moved our family back to Michigan where I was raised.  Our girls were quite small at the time.  For five years we were able to stay close with my family.  While there were the usual difficulties and challenges that attend such a move, it was a special time for us.

Our move coincided with the premiere of a new weekly television drama, Chicago Hope.  My larger family has quite a few medical professionals in it, so a medical TV drama was right up our alley.  Our favorite character on Chicago Hope was Dr. Jeffrey Geiger, played by Mandy Patinkin.  We would go to my mother and stepfather’s home, have dinner and watch Jeopardy and Chicago Hope.

Dr. Geiger was a brilliant cardio-thoracic surgeon, rated top in the country.  He was also a curious mixture of insecurity, prickliness and medical distinction.  Within the larger story line, his wife had been institutionalized with schizophrenia after she drowned their son, Joey.  So this pain came out in interesting ways in Geiger’s interactions.  Mandy Patinkin played him in an outstanding fashion, which won him an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama series in 1995.

Like my late stepfather, of blessed memory, (himself a brilliant physician), Geiger was Jewish.  If you know and work with Jewish people, you’ll probably have noticed that they are almost temperamentally incapable of mincing words.  To the point.  Dugriut.  This is not a criticism at all; just a fact. Geiger said once to a fellow doctor in the operating room, “That’s the thing about bluntness.  It intimidates the weak, engages the strong.”  Great line.

I’ve recently begun watching reruns of the series, now eighteen years old.  Again, I’ve been drawn to the character of Dr. Geiger.  Not that his arrogance is to be emulated.  He needed to work on his bedside manner.  But his directness and competence are refreshing.  Patinkin is a great actor.

I’d forgotten that Patinkin left regular participation in the show after the second season.  This bummed me out because I looked forward to seeing the story of Jeffrey Geiger unfold.  He made a number of appearances over the years and rejoined the cast for the final season.

What impressed me more than anything was Patinkin’s reason for leaving the show.  Poor writing? No.  Inability to get along with colleagues? Nope.  Wanted more money? Wrong, again.

He left to devote more time with his family.  They lived out east and the show filmed in Chicago—incidently, the town of Patinkin’s birth.  So he’d spent prodigious amounts of time away from them.  He was unwilling to do this for years.

Remember, this is a brilliant actor and singer who had won an Emmy.  His future was set, so to speak.  But he chose his wife and children over continued fame.  Incredible.

He’s done a lot over the years—Criminal Minds (a show he left because the content was too violent for his conscience), recording and public concerts, the stage.  But it impressed me that he looked “success” in the eye and chose, at least in his appraisal, true success.

A winner.

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