DREAMS

dreams

MOTHER THERESA image courtesy of photobucket.com

I’ve had some dreams in my life… Some good, some not so much. I’m fascinated with the human brain and the overall makeup that allows humans to imagine, reason, and create.

I don’t know of one human that after accomplishing something, whether significant or simple, hasn’t felt some sense of gratification. The dreams of humans have made significant changes in our world, some good, some bad.

Dreams rarely seem to take into consideration the rough spots in the road leading to that fulfillment of our dreams. I suppose there would be little to no gratification or sense of accomplishment without some obstacles to overcome along the way.

Some dreams happen when we’re asleep – subconsciously, or God-given visions, other dreams happen consciously with our eyes wide open seeing the opportunity or need. The reason or purpose behind our dreams or inspirations speak volumes about who we are and where we’re at in our life.

My wife and I were sitting in a bookstore a while back drinking coffee. Across from our table was the “Inspiration” section of the store, at the end of the isle facing us were some of the bestsellers. There was a book by a peculiar looking guy with wild hair and glasses sitting in a simple chair flanked by metal middle eastern statues of guard dogs. His legs were crossed, the side of his right ankle sitting on top of his left thigh, he had a tan business suit on with an orange tie and orange socks.

The subtitle of his book was “Billionaire So and So Tells You,” (I forgot his name and had never heard of him before) then the title of the book in bold letters right above and below his picture. “HOW TO GET RICH.”

I read some of those types of books when I was younger. It’s been my experience in life that if it’s a person’s main goal or dream in life to be rich then that person is living a shallow sad unfulfilled life.

However, if a person pursues a specific dream or goal with passion for the fulfillment of that dream when it has benefits, not just  for that person, but others as well, they will find a life of purpose and true fulfillment.

Interestingly enough, it’s also been my observation that the people who live their lives with passion and purpose with a proper moral perspective have enough financial means and some even get rich.

I’m left in awe and inspiration by some people who lived their lives and in some cases actually gave up their own life trying to fulfill their dreams or goals.

Mother Theresa comes to mind and how she gave up a life of comfort to care for people less privileged than herself. I’m also mindful of Martin Luther King Jr. and his life of sacrifice for what he believed God called him for. In a world of hate, he consistently spoke of the need for forgiveness, this for the people who hated him.

I consider George Washington along with all of our forefathers who risked their lives and wealth to form a nation with the goal of religious freedom, no royal class and equal rights for all men.

I think about all the people who sacrificed their lives in order to protect yours and mine, I’m emotionally moved by their dreams to protect, serve, and sacrifice for the benefit of us.

I believe it’s good to dream and have goals, I also believe the process of striving for the good dreams and goals gratifies our nature regardless of the ultimate outcome in most cases.

God’s in the business of dreams, He’s calling His chosen to dream like children and set about to make those dreams reality with the wisdom we’ve gained along the way.

I’ve had some dreams in my life…I still do…

How bout’ you?

LESSONS FROM LARRY 2nd edition

lessons from larry

Larry in his bath robe, no wonder he’s such a wuss. For the record I’m not the one who put Lar in that outfit.

I admire and respect people who demonstrate confidence and are willing to work and endure to get better at whatever they’re endeavoring to accomplish. I believe that drive or makeup of an individual is what eventually propels them toward leadership.

It’s rare to find any individuals who excel at anything that like to sit back, be passive, and let others do the work, take the risks, and make the calls for them. To be sure, I’m not referring to insecure micro-managers who aren’t big picture people.

With that said, I’m also convinced that all the desire, passion, and perseverance, can’t always determine an outcome and almost never the first time. All of us have limitations to one degree or another.

Our dog Larry is a pretty good dog, he barks when he hears strange noises, he also barks at strangers in the back yard if they don’t belong there. I’ve also learned some lessons from Larry. His desire is to be a good watchdog. The only problem is that he’s smaller than average and isn’t the bravest dog in the world, at least not yet. Lar wants to be and he acts like he is, but he and I both know he’s not.

About four years back I was working in the yard in the middle of summer, I had an old even more beat up than usual sweatshirt on with old worn out shoes. It was hot enough for me to wear my shade hat, you know the ones as big as a sombrero without the pointed top or fringes around the brim.

As I entered the backyard through the side gate I heard Lar bark and it got louder as he was headed toward me, he thought I was an intruder that he’d scare with his barking. Before he got around the side of the house I pulled my sweatshirt collar up over my nose leaving just my shades exposed under the strange hat Larry wouldn’t be familiar with.

I started to jog almost in a gallop with my left leg leading, swaying my arms like an orangutan and imitating gorilla sounds. My brave watchdog? As soon as he spotted me moving toward him he stopped barking, turned and ran with his tail between his legs, howling in spurts while running to the other side of the yard.

Larry’s crying was so loud it brought my wife out of the closed up house assuming that something was killing or maiming him. Although Lar doesn’t talk, it seemed pretty obvious that he was embarrassed. I called him, “It’s OK Lar, it’s me”! – “C’mon you little pansy”! – “I’m sorry”! He came with his head down licking his lips…

I’ve failed at many tasks in my life like my best friend Lar. Larry had passion and desire, he just came up a little short of perseverance that day. We all come up short sometimes. Those failings when used as motivation help us be a little stronger the next time an opportunity arises to test us.

A little over a year ago my oldest brother was visiting with his dog Teddy. Teddy was a Catahoula Heeler, a big strong physically intimidating dog, especially if you’re the size of Larry.

My wife had three roast bones for the dogs, Teddy got the biggest and Larry and Lola got the two smaller ones. Teddy decided he wanted Lar’s bone as well as his own. When Teddy attacked little Lar, he didn’t realize he was trying to bite into a dog who failed enough times to understand what it took to succeed; Fight back…

Larry didn’t win the fight with the big dog, but he didn’t lose his bone or his pride and dignity this time.

We don’t always get to pick the obstacles that fall into our paths in life, we do get to choose how we respond to them… In the end, that is the real test…

For the younger readers and as a reminder to all of us, life is a little like those video games that are so popular now. We don’t get to advance to the next level until you conquer the one you’re on now…

Take a lesson from Larry…

WINNING

winning

image courtesy of photobucket.com

As I watched from the sidelines I could almost see the intensity, the adrenaline, the purpose in their faces. I’d seen it before many times, I’d lived it as well, the anticipation of the gun or whistle right before the start of an event.

This is a little different perspective for me standing in the spectator section, not on the sidelines. Another start to another game, watching the younger people practicing and learning how to conduct themselves in life, with passion and perseverance.

I wonder if they’ll remember things I shared with them during our time together in years past.

The interesting part of a sporting event is how it parallels our lives. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul reflects on his life as a sporting event. A race.

I think it’s easy to apply that same analogy to all of our lives. When I was younger I thought of that race as a sprint and I ran it to win at all costs. The unfortunate part of our world is that’s how most people see life, as a sprint, but a sprint with an improper perspective.

The world measures success in the race called life by what we have on the outside, real success can only be measured on the inside. There’s nothing wrong with earned material things to enjoy in this life, but if that’s what is counted to determine a winner, the person counting does not understand the language and they will find themselves cast into the loser’s circle.

A couple of weeks ago our youngest told me she didn’t really like track and wanted to quit. Thank God I’m not in the early part of my race or the guidance given could have probably been damaging.

I asked her, “How come Bern”? (another nickname) She quietly answered, “I don’t know….I’m not really that good at running.” That tore a little piece from my heart, I knew it wasn’t easy to say or admit in complete honesty. In truth, she’s actually pretty fast but she has to realize and believe it to have any success with it.

“You know it’s not really about just winning, you need to run because you love it first,” I explained. She was listening, “You might not win a race this year or next, but winning isn’t about just your race this year, winning is measured across a lifetime. You’re training yourself now to be an athlete for life.”…… “You understand”? “Yeah,” she said widening her eyes a bit, visibly feeling better.

The individual is as different as each person’s race. Our little one doesn’t need any additional pressure to do well, she puts an inordinate amount of pressure on herself to do well. She must take after her mother!!!

I think I’ll wait to tell her the stories of how I got punished as a kid for being a sore loser or the story when I was disqualified for instinctively taking an inside line of the inside lane in a track meet while on my way to crossing the finish line first.

As we monitor our progress in this race called life, how are we doing? Are we doing better now than in the beginning? The better we get, the slower we get. When we were younger we measured how fast we got across the line or what number represented us or our team.

Now Godly wisdom dictates we measure how many people we can get across the line with us or before us. We look more like shepherds than runners now.

Every day is a new day or leg in the race of our life, we’re not here by chance, but by design.

As I stand on the sidelines my desire for all the girls is the same now as it was in the beginning. Play the game of life with honor, passion, perseverance, and play it to win…

TEACHING AN OLD DOG

teaching an old dog

ONE OF THE MANY WONDERFUL YEARS

Who says teaching an old dog new tricks is impossible? I’m not saying it’s easy, but I think it’s possible. On advice from literary agents who passed on signing me, after dragging my feet for about a year I finally started this blog.

The next pressure was to “social network” in order to support the blog and connect with people that I couldn’t otherwise. My shoes must be getting a bit worn out from dragging them, but this time I only dragged them for about seven months.

If someone would have told me a few years back that I’d be writing publicly every week and be on Facebook, I probably would have laughed at them, however I learned a long time ago to never say never. The words spoken in haste without wisdom are bitter to swallow along with that pride.

Life has a way of taking unexpected turns along the journey. One of those twists was by chance, destiny, fate, or what I consider to be the hand of God.

Kenz was getting ready to start her sophomore year of high school lacrosse, at that time there was only a varsity team and Molly and Sarah were the coaches and had been since the inception at the school several years before. Sarah announced her retirement along with the fact that she was pregnant.

Molly stated she would coach, but only if she had help. Enter my wife… She announced, “I think you should do it.” I responded, “ARE YOU NUTS”!!! I couldn’t believe she could come up with something so absurd.

She later continued, “I don’t know, I just think you should do it for some reason.” I didn’t give it much merit. After all, this was me we were talking about… Impatient, short with people, tough on kids, known to lose my temper at the drop of a hat, busy beyond belief with work, intense and obsessive. These weren’t my words, but I couldn’t argue much with the descriptions and accuracy at the time.

After prodding from my wife and a few of the other parents I’d watched the games with that first season, I told them I’d help as a last resort, that is if they couldn’t find anyone else.

I found myself at the indoor try-outs on an early Sunday morning due to some rainouts the week before. While at the first try-out I discovered something I never knew existed inside me; anxiety…

A bunch of high school girls ranging from freshman to seniors and me about to coach a sport I’d never played… I said to myself in my mind over and over, “I don’t belong here”! “I’m too hardened and calloused from business and life to relate to these kids”! –“Not to mention they’re girls”!!! “I don’t know anything about girls”! “Diane (my wife) should have known that”!!!

I had immediate regret… I knew I’d already made a commitment and couldn’t back out on my word, even if coerced into it by some others. That was one of the first things I tried to teach the girls, keep your word, and give everything you’ve got.

As fate, destiny, chance, or God would have it Molly became pregnant with complications requiring her to be bedridden. So much for hanging around for support. I was it, I thought, “these poor girls.”

My life was never the same after that. All of those girls that year and the girls every year that followed broke my heart. God used those girls to bring out a person I never knew was inside of me.

That time spent with those girls made me a better person, my focus wasn’t just on my family or me, but every single girl and her life I had the opportunity to be part of and have an impact on. I will forever cherish the bonds created that will last a lifetime.

I’m reminded how blessed I am and how many true friends I have as a result of those years spent coaching my girls when I started connecting with people via the social network.

Now God is using my girls in helping to coach and teaching an old dog some new tricks.

Wherever we are, whether spoken or not, we will forever be, “Brother And Sisters In Arms.”

Thank you, Ladies…..

“HOO-RAH”!!!!!

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A BLACKBIRD

life of a blackbird

image courtesy of photobucket.com

I sat in a parking lot this morning with about 10 minutes to spare before an appointment. I witnessed a real survivor show live, with a front row seat. A day in the life of a blackbird who was working hard for his breakfast and a grasshopper was working hard to not be it.

It almost looked like they had rules of engagement. After the blackbird would hop close and then swoop down for his prey and miss, he would wait and take a shot at another potential meal before re-engaging the first.

There was the display of life’s daily struggles set before me. I immediately thought about how similar that bird and grasshopper and they’re struggles are to ours as humans. Sometimes we’re the bird, but more often it feels like we’re the grasshopper.

We chase after not only simple food but many other delicacies that tend to elude us. We aren’t satisfied with just a seed laying on the ground, we want the caviar or another tasty non-essential.

I’m certain that come dusk this average looking blackbird will too be jostling for a choice branch in one of the biggest trees in the best bird neighborhoods in town. This is another trait we have in common, this bird and me.

How much time is spent trying to get the good spot in that tree of our life we call our home? It’s pretty obvious that many of us struggle through grief and strife in order to achieve that place in the tree with the best branch.

It’s becoming apparent that there is really only one big difference in the instinctual action of my fine feathered friend and me. In all of his failings he never loses his perspective, he stays focused and really looks like he’s enjoying life. One failure after another and he still loses no enthusiasm for his task.

Tonight when he’s fighting for position to claim his home for the night, I’m sure he’ll use that same can-do attitude in his endeavor. This little guy should be a good example of what is expected of all of life’s participants. My little buddy isn’t waiting for someone to deliver his seed or grasshoppers, he’s working for his meal and doing it with pride.

I compare this little guy’s life that is subject to the elements and is a struggle every day just for survival. In contrast, I see our society and the attitudes that are prevalent among many of us.

We want more, when we achieve a pretty good spot on the branch, we want to go higher in the tree. It’s a good thing we weren’t born with wings, how could they ever keep us satisfied? If someone else had more or bigger feathers, how long before we would set our hearts on wing extensions?

It seems this little flying creature may have a bit more wisdom grounding his instinct than a lot of us. He seems to know that the Creator knows when one of his fellow feathered friends fall to the ground.

He doesn’t seem to be at all stressed about feeding himself or his family. He acts as if he knows that the God of heaven will provide him with food, shelter, and clothing. Many of us “know” that same thing, we just don’t live it with the confidence of this blackbird.

Often we live in fear and dread of a world that is ultimately controlled by God. He either causes or allows everything that happens in our lives. There are great blessings and there are also consequences. In the end, we should know that like this blackbird, we have the promise from God of provision.

My little fine feathered friend must have had enough provision today.

I can almost hear the grasshoppers laughing at him.

He’s in for a long day…