Tuesday, January 7, 2014

5 Ways to Make a Post Go Viral

5 Ways to Make a Post Go Viral
By M. Steve Heartsill

In recent months, I’ve noticed a trend online. I’ve been watching how many lists go viral online, especially on Facebook.

People will write about 7 ideas for this…or 10 ideas for that…

So, I like testing out my theories and being in the “end” crowd at the same time.

So, here’s my list of how to make a list go viral:

1. Create a list.
2.  Determine how many items to include on list.
3. Write list.
4. Post list online.
5. Link post with list to Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Magically, there you go. In a matter of hours, your list will go viral and you’ll see yourself on Good Morning America, the Today Show, or even Fox News!

Enjoy your stardom.

And, don’t forget the little people like me who helped you get there!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

One Day Closer to the Grave

Every day, I am one day closer to dying.

Heck, it could be today, I suppose. In many ways, I hope not. But, if that train pulls into the station, I’m ready to board.

As I have aged, I’ve left a lot of things behind.

For example, I don’t play hide-and-go-seek too much, unless you include trying to find my car keys each morning.

I also don’t play the Hokie Pokie too much. At my age, it’s not safe to keep putting my left foot in and taking my left foot out. You know, broken hips and all.

I’m getting better, though, at playing Freeze Tag. Whenever I’m sitting in a chair or laying on the bed, I’m finding it is getting harder and harder to get my back and knees to unfreeze from their laying down position.

But, even as I age and leave things behind, there’s one thing I haven’t forgotten nor left behind. It’s the simple words to a simple children’s song:

“Jesus loves me! this I know, For the Bible tells me so’
Little ones to Him be-long; They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me, The Bible tells me so.”

Then, the third verse really touches my thoughts today:

“Jesus loves me! loves me still, Thou I’m very weak and ill;
From His shin-ing, throne on high, Comes to watch me where I lie.
Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me, The Bible tells me so.”

My friends, Jesus loves you! No matter who you are. Where you are. What you’ve done. What you’ve said. Or not said.

His love for you never fails.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Learning to Keep Our Mouth Shut

Do you ever sit back and listen to someone talk about an event you saw and experienced first-hand, but you know they didn’t see first-hand?

Ever listen to the details they share about what took place, pieced together not from their own experience, but from countless bits of gossip or conversation they’ve heard since the event took place?

Isn’t it amazing how those events can take on a life of their own? Somewhere in their retelling of the event, there’s some truth in there, but there’s also a lot of falsehood thrown in for good measure. Not that they would intentionally pass along falsehood. Then again, maybe they would.

As a police chaplain, I’m often a first responder to events taking place in the community. Sometimes, I’m a second responder, coming after law enforcement has arrived on the scene and determined that a chaplain is needed. Either way, I see, hear, and experience many situations first-hand, many that I’d just soon not see, hear, or experience.

And, more than likely, you’ll never hear about those experiences. Well, at least not from me. You might hear about them on a local TV or radio station’s newscast. You might see someone post about it on Facebook. If you live in this area, you might hear about it through gossip at the barbershop, work, salon, or even in the church you attend.

But, you won’t hear it from me.

That’s a promise I made to myself when I began as a chaplain. Keeping a confidence is important. It is important in law enforcement. It is important to the person injured, arrested, or under investigation.

It is important to me as a minister of God’s kingdom.

In our nation, we could use a good dose of keeping our mouth shut. Less talking to the news media about what we saw or didn’t see. Less gossiping about what we heard or what someone told us to be true. Less sticking our noses where they don’t belong.

Sadly, I don’t think that’ll happen. We humans tend to like our 15 minutes of fame, or with instant technology today, it’s more like 15 seconds of fame. Just read Facebook posts or go to many Wednesday night church prayer meetings, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Today, practice staying silent. Don’t gossip. Quit sharing details that you know. Or don’t know. You’ll be a better person for it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Do What You Say

“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters” (Alan Simpson).

A good policy (and a cliché, I suppose) to follow is this: Say what you mean and mean what you say.

I don’t know who said that first, but, I’ll use it here. I like it.

Keeping your word is not always easy. It should be—but, it’s not.

We learn from an early age to tell “a little white lie” to get out of a problem. We can be tempted to “cheat just a little” on our taxes, because everyone else does it. We can cut corners because no one is really going to check behind us.

But, is that the point? Do we lie because it is easy? Do we cheat because everyone does it? Do we cut corners because no one checks behind us?

I’ve never seen the top of the Statue of Liberty, at least in person. I am told that the top of the statue is finely crafted, as is the rest of the statue. The statue was designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886, as a gift to the American people. The date of dedication is important to note, 1886. That’s long before airplanes. Or helicopters. Or even people climbing on buildings without permission, often called buildering.

So, why not cut corners? Why not leave the top (which at the time no one would see) unfinished? Roughed in? Doing so would have saved time and money.

But no. It was finished. Crafted. And completed.

How I wish my life could be like that. Complete, finished, and crafted, both inside and out, the parts seen and those never seen by anyone else.

What a goal for me. And, maybe for you too. Do what you say you are going to do. Complete the work placed before you. Be a good steward of your time, energy, money, etc. Give everything your very best effort. Honor what you say you will do.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dirty Jesus

At first glance, Evan’s theology might need a little work.

This past weekend, we hosted several friends at our house for a little Christmas fellowship. Evan grew more and more excited about our guests as their arrival time approached.

He was especially excited about the idea of playing “Dirty Santa.” You know the game, right? Everyone brings a small gift or ornament. The gifts are placed in a pile and are opened one at a time. When it’s time for the second person to open a present, that can “steal” the gift previously opened or can open a yet unopened gift. It continues that way until all gifts have been opened.

The game is fun. It usually brings laughs. And, maybe even a little good nature competition.

As Evan was talking about the game, he couldn’t remember the game’s name. Finally, he said, “You know, that game. Dirty Jesus.”

We couldn’t stop laughing when he called it that. Neither could our guests when they heard what he’d said. Neither could those who read about it on Facebook that night.

Dirty Jesus.

But you know, the more I’ve thought about what Evan said, he’s more right than wrong.

Jesus came from heaven to be born in a dirty stable, with common dirty animals, and was placed in a dirty hay trough. I’ve been in barns. Trust me. Dirty.

Jesus spent His early years as the son of a carpenter, getting saw dust under His finger nails and probably hitting His thumb with a hammer. I’ve been in many workshops. Again, trust me. Dirty.

When Jesus’ earthly ministry was ending, a woman washed His feet with perfume and scrubbed His feet with her hair. When the woman's actions were criticized by those around Jesus, He said that not a single one of them remembered their manners and washed His feet when He entered the home for a meal. Calloused feet. Dirty. Stinky feet.

Jesus walked every where He went. His feet were often dirty. His feet may have been dirty more than clean. Jesus worked with His hands as a boy and dirt and mud were often found on Him and His clothes. Lava, Gojo, Mr. Clean, Ajax, and Tide or Gain hadn’t been invented yet.

Jesus experienced dirt firsthand. Jesus got His hands dirty.

That gives new meaning to “God becoming flesh.” Or, “God among us.” It’s amazing how much God loves us—He even sent His Son to live on our dirty planet and to be like us. And, to experience dirty firsthand.

Dirty Jesus. I’m so thankful for God who allowed His Son to play in the dirt.

And, I’m thankful for my son who reminded me again what Christmas is really all about.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

High Expectations

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important” (Steve Jobs).

How high should our expectations be?

For our children? For our family? For our job? For our church?

How high is too high?

How low is too low?

I will admit that I struggle with determining expectations, both for myself and others. I’ve always set high expectations for myself. Whether it was with my education or my work or even in my hobbies, I’ve tried to always aim for impossible heights. I figure if I don’t set high expectations for myself, no one else will.

But, should I have the same high expectations for other people? Maybe. Maybe not.

In truth, other people are responsible for what they do and don’t do in life—that’s not my job. In truth, other people determine how much education they get or high they climb the ladder in their chosen profession or how they live their every day life. Again, that’s not my job.

I have no right to place my expectations upon others. Not upon coworkers. Not upon my wife. Not upon my friends. Not upon anyone else.

I do think, however, that there is an intersection, where expectations meet. If I hire someone to do a job for me, they should do the job as I expect it to be done. If I am empowered to do a job, others should respect the work I’ve done and the decisions made. They may not agree with the decision, but they should respect my efforts.

Do I think our world would be a better place if everyone set higher expectations for themselves? For their work? By all means, yes! Do I have a right to enforce those expectations? By no means, I don’t.

So, we are left to decide what falls to the side and what things we set as priority. That’s a personal decision.

But, I challenge you to believe in yourself so much that you believe you can reach higher than ever before!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Life Happens

Life happens.

Startling reality for some people, especially those who believe someone, something, or some Higher Power is responsible for rescuing them from it.

Yet, life happens.

I had a heart attack 4 years ago, when Evan was 8 months old. That really wasn’t fair. I was in good shape. I exercised daily. I ran. I tried to eat right. Having a heart attack was just plain wrong. It was totally unfair.

Yet, life happens.

Three years ago, when Tonya came up for tenure, she was terminated. I’ve since learned that’s a pretty common occurrence, even for someone who had been nominated as "Teacher of the Year" in our country! As a matter of fact, every teacher in her school who came up for tenure that year was terminated, even a teacher who had moved here three years prior with her husband and who was two years from retirement, was terminated. Not fair! But, very painful!

Life happens.

It’s 14 days before Christmas. Two weeks. Yet, over the weekend, our septic tank alarm system went off. Water level was too high in the tank. Upon examination, our pump is dead and the tank needs to be cleaned out. We’ve delayed washing clothes. We’ve taken very fast showers. And, Evan has had permission not to flush after every bathroom visit. Really not fair to have to spend this kind of money so close to Christmas.

Yet, life happens.

But, where am I promised that life will be filled with roses, clear skies, and happy days? Only on the TV show Duck Dynasty does life seem to be “happy, happy, happy.” Real life, is never always happy. Nor, should it be expected to be.

Life happens.

Yet, even as life happens, God remains in control. And, He teaches us things through our life experiences—both the good ones and the ones we think are so unfair.

I have no clue what today holds. I haven’t the slightest idea what’s coming for you or me. But, I know God. And, I know He’s in control.

While I may not like everything that happens and I may think it’s unfair, what does that really matter in the grand scheme of life?



Monday, December 10, 2012

Throwing a Fit

I sometimes sit and watch my son, finding myself shaking my head at his behavior. Evan is such a good child, most of the time. He probably averages 80% good, 20% terror. That’s not a bad average.
I never expect perfection from him—he’s only 4 ½ years old. He’s learning new things every day. He’s testing his limits. He’s finding his way in the world. Evan has so much to learn.
While I don’t expect perfection, I do have certain expectations on how he should act and how he should react.
One of his new “behaviors” was picked up from another child at school—I’m not making excuses for his behavior by blaming another child. But, it’s important to note that this was a learned behavior from watching someone else.
What’s the behavior? When he doesn’t get his way, he’ll literally throw himself on the floor and begin wailing. You should know there are no tears being shed. Oh, there can be screaming and kicking the floor. But, it’s more of an act that being heartbroken.
When he reacts/acts this way, we respond with discipline. The discipline varies, depending on a number of factors.
Most of the time, if not all of the time, his little “fit” only lasts for a few minutes.
I have to admit that what Evan does seems frighteningly similar to how I react to situations in my life. Or, how I react to God saying “no” when I want something.
Now, I don’t literally throw myself on the floor, kick, or scream. But, I’ve been known to throw a fit or two. And, in truth, my fits are just as wrong as Evan’s. And, I suppose, if anyone were watching, they’d think I was being as childish as a four-year-old who isn’t getting his way.
I’m not four. Not even close.
I have to grow up. I must mature. I must continue learning from God’s discipline and instruction. I must stop watching others and behaving the way they do. God doesn’t call me to be like anyone else—He wants me to be like Him.
I don’t like God’s punishment any more than Evan likes my discipline. But, the discipline is necessary—if I want to mature and become more like God.
I want to grow up! I must grow up!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thrown Under the Bus

“Ariel, listen to me: The human world is a mess. Life under the sea is better than anything they’ve got up there!” (Sebastian, The Little Mermaid).

Do you ever “get thrown under the bus?”

Maybe that’s a phrase you aren’t familiar with. To be “thrown under the bus”, at least by my definition, means to sacrifice someone else, usually someone who is undeserving, to cover for something you have done or are thinking or something you’ve experienced in the past.

One day recently, I was thrown under the bus by two different people, relating to two different situations.

One person is a friend. The other person I only know by reputation.

One threw me under the bus to cover up something they had done.

The other person threw me under the bus because they were transferring their emotion for something in their past, that I was no part of, onto me.

Neither situation was pleasant. Neither enjoyed. And, quite truthfully, neither was deserved.

I long ago learned that you can only defend yourself so far. Before long, it appears you are protesting too much.

For example, someone says, “Do you still beat your wife?” How do you answer that question? If you say, “Yes, I still beat my wife,” you should go to jail. However, if you say, “No, I don’t still beat my wife,” it tends to imply that you once beat your wife.

You can’t win for losing on that one.

When you are thrown under the proverbial bus, you never really win.

In the first situation I mentioned above, I just took it and didn’t reply.

In the second situation, I told the person that it was best I not respond, because no answer would truly satisfy them.

That’s how I responded. Hopefully, I’ll continue to always remember that, at times, (maybe most times) it’s just best to keep your mouth shut and not reply at all.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Vanishing Dream

“You don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is a mist that appears for a little while. Then it disappears” (James 4:14).

During much of my life I’ve had a singular goal. My goal has been to be used by God to make a difference in the lives of the people I come into contact with.




Even complete strangers.

Whether in person, through a sermon preached, a blog, a Facebook update, or a written word, I’ve desired for those, in some form or fashion, to have an impact upon other people.

The older I get, the more I realize that my opportunities to make a difference are running out. I’m aging. Eventually, and sooner than later, I’m going to die.

In the days after my death, someone will come along and box up all of my personal effects for my wife to take home. If I am lucky, in a few months after that, someone will see something I worked on or remember something I said and they’ll say, “I remember Steve…”

But, those memories won’t last long. I doubt anyone will be quoting me as they do George Washington or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Jeff Gordon or even David Letterman.

It’s somewhat demoralizing to realize how little impact we actually have on this world, and for the short time we have any impact upon it.

At this moment, the reality of just how short life is and how little time we have to make a difference is sitting heavy upon my shoulders.

I guess I’m supposed to say that I’ll just need to redouble my efforts and do a better job in the time I have left.

But, at some moments in time, thinking that and doing that are two different things.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Line in the Sand

“Setting boundaries is not a more sophisticated way of manipulation—although some people will say they are setting boundaries, when in fact they are attempting to manipulate. The difference between setting a boundary in a healthy way and manipulating is: when we set a boundary we let go of the outcome” (Robert Burney).

My four-year-old son is testing boundaries right now.

He’s doing so almost all day every day about everything.

I know he’s growing up and pushing boundaries is a part of growing up. I’ve got that. I don’t need to be reminded of that. Honest I don’t. I do remember being a child.

Evan will ask me a question twelve times when he doesn’t get his way. Each time, I’ll tell him no and why the answer is no. Finally, when he realizes that I’m not giving in, he’ll go to his mother and want to begin the questioning again with her.

Fortunately, Evan’s mother and I are on to him. And, we work as a team.

Don't misunderstand. Evan is free to ask questions. He’s free to challenge our answers. We encourage his independence to grow (when he’s thirty, we don’t want him still living at home with us)!

But, his constant pushing wears on us. And, yes, at times, it wears us down. Almost to our wit’s end. Even to the point of anger and frustration.

I look at that little boy—who I love with my entire being—and I want to say, “Son, grow up! Accept the boundaries your mother and I set for you! We are doing what’s best for you. Accept it. Move on!”

Then, as I look into his eyes, I hear God’s voice speaking to me. I’ve been the master of pushing boundaries many times. I’ve been known to go back to God again and again and again. Each time with the same question. Each time getting the same answer from Him. But, with me asking just once more. Hoping He’ll do what I want!

I’m really no better than Evan at taking no for the answer.

Yet, God patiently loves me. Disciplines me when I need it. And continues to do what is best for me, even though it’s not what I always want.

I certainly need to pay more attention to God’s parenting skills as I parent my son. God’s the expert.

I’m still pushing the boundaries I’m afraid.

Monday, December 3, 2012

We the People...

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” (Amendment 2, United States Constitution).

While watching Sunday Night Football last night on NBC, I was surprised that heading into their last break before coming back for the 3rd quarter, I heard Bob Costas give a personal 90-second anti-gun rant (or what sounded like a personal rant), related to the murder/suicide committed by the Kansas City Chiefs player over the weekend.

What took place in Kansas City was terrible. No way around that. Countless lives, including a 3-month old baby’s life, will forever be changed by what took place.

But, for Bob Costas to give a rant about guns was unnecessary, uncalled for, and unprofessional. I don’t remember Costas condemning players who have raped, murdered, and assaulted people over the years. I don’t remember him condemning Michael Vick for killing dogs. Maybe he did and I just don’t remember.

But, football is about football and not delivering the personal political agendas of a sportscaster or network. If I want political agenda, I’ll tune in MSNBC, CNN, PBS, or even Fox News. I expect it there. I don’t expect, nor want to watch it while I watch sports.

I fully understand that neither NBC nor Bob Costas care what I think. I got that.

But, I made my decision last night. After Costas’ rant, I turned off Sunday Night Football. No big deal. No huge protest. Just my personal choice. How will my protest last? Time will tell. At this point, I won't turn it back on in the foreseeable future.

Believe what you want about guns, gun controls, or gun owners. I know the old cliché may be tired, but it’s people that kill, not guns. All we need to do is to look at the city of Chicago to verify that. Chicago has one of the tightest gun control laws on the books in the United States. Yet, so far this year, they’ve had 508 murders and over 2,475 shootings recorded, as of December 1.

So, clearly more is involved in stopping crime, murders, and shootings than just taking away weapons.

I don’t have all of the answers. I just know that for a sportscaster to rant about taking away guns doesn’t really help the discussion, nor offer any reasonable answers.

Friday, November 30, 2012

It's That Simple!

“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for” (Bob Marley).

Dear Tonya,

Happy Anniversary!

I find myself sitting here on our anniversary thinking about all the unforgettable times we have shared together.

Just thinking about these times makes me happy. But, more than just being happy, I am proud to be part of something extraordinary—you.

I was going to write a lengthy, detailed letter confessing my unconditional love to you, but that would be somewhat of a waste of time. It would be a waste to write a letter so extensive when my feelings remain so logically simple in my mind. It only takes a few words to clearly describe how I feel about you.

To everyone else who knows you, you are a bright, capable, caring woman who is beautiful and kind. Without you, their lives would be a little more difficult and a little less pleasant.

To me, you are a huge part of me. Without you, I would not be me. I would not faintly resemble the man I am today.

It’s that simple!

I love you with all my heart.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Finding Joy in the Calendar

“You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on you. No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man” (Heraclitus).

Evan, my son, came home yesterday with his monthly calendar from daycare. On the calendar, his teacher includes things like “Pajama Day,” “Wear Red Day,” “Wear Green Day,” and “Watch Polar Express Day.”

Evan’s calendar is like precious gold or diamonds to him. He proudly carries the calendar in to the house every time we get it. He can’t wait to show the calendar to his mother. Then, we all have to sit around and read the calendar together, circling the days Evan can’t wait to enjoy.

This morning, when I woke Evan, the first thing he did was grab his calendar from where he left it last night. He took it to our bedroom to “read” while we got ready for work, reminding us again about the special days coming in December.

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I was THAT exacted about my calendar. Can you?

My calendar is filled with meetings and assignments and due dates and responsibilities. There’s no pajama day or day set aside to wear red or green. Or, even to watch movies with my friends.

What if I approached my calendar as Evan does? What if I faced my responsibilities with the same excitement and enthusiasm? What if I circled day after day on my calendar and couldn’t wait for those days to arrive? I’m thinking if I did that, life might be far better than it is most months.

A river (or a month on a calendar) only passes once. I think I need to spend some time today going back over my December calendar. I am going to find some days to circle!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Kindness We Show (Or Don't)

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless” (Mother Teresa).

The other day, I found myself in a really bad mood. In trying to understand why, I’m not really sure what the cause was. It’d been a good day. Nothing major had happened, good or bad. No major stressors in life. Just another normal day.

But, I was still grumpy. More than a little on edge. And, I knew I was taking that attitude out on others around me.

I don’t like being like that. I’d rather be cheery and happy. I’d rather be nice to people and not that person that seems to thrive on being negative and angry. I’d rather be a positive influence on people and not a constant drain.

My wife often laughs at me for striking up conversations with so many people. I’ll talk with cashier at the grocery store, the person collecting tickets at the movie theater, even the person pumping gas next to me as I pump gas. I like talking to people. I like hearing their story.

If truth be told, I’d rather hear their story than tell my own. You may find that impossible to believe. With Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, it’s often easy for people to think you are an open book. But, with all the electronic media that we have today, we can be as open as we want to be and still never reveal the real us. That’s the great thing about the electronic word or printed word, you can share as much or as little about yourself as you desire.

That’s not the case with the spoken word. Those words linger, as if in a cloud hovering around us. People not only hear those words, they see us speak, they watch our body language. They interact with our lives. Our spoken words echo a long time.

I hope today that I’ll be the person I want to be and not the person I sometimes become. I want to listen and learn and see the value in others. I want to treat those around me with respect and love.

Lord, help me to be a listener and learner. Help me to keep my mouth shut more times than it is open. Use me as Your hands and feet and mouth and ears with those I come in to contact with today. Help me to be a positive influence and not that person people try to avoid. Amen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If I Had Hair...

If I had hair, I’d pull it out! Yes I would!

That’s how I feel many days being a parent.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my son. I really do. He’s so much fun and he’s such a good boy—well, he is fun almost all of the time and most of the time, he’s a good boy.

It’s those times that he’s not so good that drives me crazy.

One minute, Evan is talking back to me. Telling me what he’s going to do or not do. Telling me why I don’t know what I’m talking about. Yeah. It’s those times that I just want to scream. And, it’s during those times that I’ve lost it with him.

Then, just as soon as I’m ready to lose what little hair and mind I have left, Evan will look at me and say, “Daddy, you are the best Daddy in the world. I love you.”

In less than 60 seconds, I go from being ready to do bodily damage to his backside to wanting to hold him as close to me as possible and to tell him how much I love him.

This parenting stuff isn’t for the faint at heart.

I want to be a good parent. I want to be the best father possible. Yet, most days I find myself thinking about my shortcomings, failures, and the times I missed an opportunity to teach Evan something or to simply love on him one more time.

Those days haunt me. They really do.

I have one opportunity to get this right with my son. One moment in time. To teach him to be a man. To teach him to be a father. To raise him to love God. To love him.

Lord, I need your help to be the parent You want me to be. I need Your strength and wisdom. I am helpless without You. Amen.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Home Isn't Always Where the Heart Is

A Facebook cartoon I saw last week said something like, “Thanksgiving—the day family gets together—and you just hope the police don’t have to be called.”

Or, it said something like that.

You’d think that of all holidays, Thanksgiving, wouldn’t require police activity. Or fist fights. Or domestic violence. Or a cross word. But then again, shouldn’t that be the case with ALL holidays? Shouldn’t all families’ holiday get-togethers look like a Norman Rockwell painting on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post?

Yet, that is not the case. Too often, when families get together, the long-ago buried demons seem to rise to the surface.


It has nothing to do with Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day or any other holiday. It has nothing to do with turkey or presents. And, it probably doesn’t even have anything to do with that canned jellied cranberry sauce being served.

At the root of the problem seems to be the other 360-something days in the year. Or, maybe it has to do with the years and years of unresolved problems within the family.

Why do we believe that a family can come together for a meal or party or get-together and everything will be fine for those few hours? What leads us to believe that everything from the past will be glossed over as the dressing or stuffing is passed? Do we really think mean-spirited words, hateful attitudes, or favoritism can be covered over with faked smiles, a turkey from Kroger, or a preserved box of mystery meats from Hickory Farms?

A lifetime of anger, frustration, or disappointment doesn’t melt away like a stick of butter left on the stove. Those conflicts, whether spoken or swept under the proverbial rug, eat away any possibilities of joy or happiness.

Some people will say, “Smile.” Or, “Grin and bear it!” Or, “It’ll be over in a few hours, just suck it up and take it.”

Yet, over time, you can’t smile or grin and bear it or suck it up any longer. You just can’t. A clean break is needed. That’s about the only way to deal with it. Just walk away. Just wipe your feet and move on.

There are some people who will say that’s running away. Maybe it is. But, after a lifetime of seeking resolution and peace, and never being able to find it, you have to do something to preserve your sanity…and the belief in what you know is right.

This holiday season, as people talk about love and celebrate family, remember, not everyone is celebrating family. Not everyone is surrounded by love or joy or even peace when family is close by.

Rather than judging or sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong, just say a prayer for families that aren’t close. You’ll probably never know why they are estranged. Nor is it even your business.

Just realize that what you see took a lifetime to come. Only prayers can bring resolution. And, peace.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Customer Service--100 Words

Customer Service. Those words once meant something. In the “olden days” of the 1940s and 50s, attendants filled your car with gas and cleaned the windshield. Milkmen delivered to your front door. Car hops brought food to your car. Boys brought groceries to your house. Times have changed. Now, you bag your own groceries. You hope your fast food order is correct when you drive off. Pizza comes to your house, but not groceries. Customer service has become extinct. Like dinosaurs. Like Studabakers. Like car hops. Sad. Really. I’d pay for good service. And, the older I get, I do!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (Projects)

I’m thankful for projects. Lists. To do lists.

When we bought our house 1 ½ years ago, there were few problems with the house.

However, I took the inspection room and made a list of everything the inspector said needed a little “work.”

I prioritized the list and started tackling projects.

No urgency about it at all.

Just made a list, then worked the list.

My mind easily wraps around lists and projects.

They give me a target to aim for. And, to accomplish.

I need targets. Without them, I get lost.

Pardon me. I’ve got more items to accomplish.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (Uncertainty)

I’m thankful for uncertain things.

Probably sounds weird to some.

However, I’m not a big fan of “sameness.”

No, I’m not ADD or ADHD or any of the other AD words.

Yet, I find that I get bored with doing the same thing every day.

I guess that’s why I don’t work on an assembly line in a factory. Or, do any number of jobs that involve the same tasks each day.

I think I’ll literally die from the sameness.

Nothing wrong with those jobs. They just aren’t for me.

So, I’ll stick with the unknown.

Long live the uncertain.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (Sight)

I’m thankful for sight!

Seeing a new day.

Seeing the full moon. Half moon. Quarter moon. It doesn’t matter.

Seeing leaves turn orange, yellow, red. Watching as they fall to the ground.

Watching a rose bush begin to bud and bloom.

I love seeing a dog wag its tail. Or roll on its belly for a good rubbing.

I love seeing an open hand being offered to a person in need.

I love seeing the smile on my son’s face when I get him out of bed or when I kiss him goodnight.

I love seeing my wife smile. Anytime.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (Memories)

I’m thankful for memories.

I’m thankful for the childhood memory of building forts in the woods and playing army.

I’m thankful for the teenage memory of having a paper route at 4:00 AM, delivering the Montgomery Advertiser in the rain, sleet, snow, but mostly the darkness.

I’m thankful for the memory of pastoring in Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia. Oh the stories I could tell about those days and the people I’ve meet over the years.

I’m thankful for a job where I can continue serving the Lord.

I’m thankful for friends who read my blog.

And, I’m thankful for you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (Time Change)

Time change.

We’ve been in this “new time” for a week.

Funny how we complain about “losing” or “gaining” an hour. Unless you live in a few places, where they don’t participate in the time change, you’ve been adjusting your body to the new time.

I’m thankful for the time change.

Around our house, the day starts at oh-dark-thirty. Well, actually, 5:15 AM. Too often, we leave home before daylight.

Then, coming home, the sun is glaring in my eyes.

Now, we head out in the light! And, come home with the sun setting.

I’m thankful for the time change.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (Freedom)

I’m thankful for freedom.

The freedom I enjoy was given to me.

I’ve done nothing to deserve it or receive it.

Men and women, in uniform, have paid the price for my freedom.

Others died. Sacrificed. Given so much.

All so our nation could be free.

So that people could occupy Wall Street. March on the White House. Vote. Or, stay home on election day.

Strange how freedom works like that, isn’t it?

In the United States we aren’t required to do much.

We are free to choose.

We are also free to give so that others may be free.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (Health)

Today, I’m thankful for health.

After a few days watching my son suffer through a stomach
virus, I’m thankful that his health is returning to him.

We are so blessed that Evan is healthy.

At the doctor’s office yesterday, the nurse went down the
list: allergies, long-term health issues, any reoccurring problems. Thankfully,
the answers were no, no, and no.

This week reminded me again that watching my child suffer is
the worse experience possible.

At any step, I’d take Evan’s sickness upon myself.

I’d spare him of any pain.

Unfortunately, I can’t.

I’ll just love him through whatever comes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (Veterans)

I’m thankful for veterans.

Women and men who served our country.

Protecting freedoms.

Guarding our shores.

Following the orders of the Commander-in-Chief.

They seldom questioned orders. They simply did as they were
told. Boldly. Bravely. Unapologetically.

I grew up in an era where serving in the military wasn’t popular. Wars had taken a toll on the American public. Those wars caused Americans to
even turn against our soldiers. Jeering them instead of cheering.

Those soldiers came home from war, not as heroes, but as villains.

May that never be the case again!

May we honor all who serve our nation.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (Priorities)

Today, I’m thankful for priorities.

Confession time. I haven’t always been good at setting priorities. Many times over the years, I’ve put less important things first.

You know. Things like work.



I put demands ahead of importance.

Honestly, I still struggle with knowing what’s most important. But, I’m better at it.

It’s amazing how many people don’t want you to put the right things first. Those people pull at you to choose what’s important to them. They want their priority to be yours.

Well friends. Set your own priorities.

Then, know I’ll be doing the same for myself.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (George Hinson)

Today, I’m thankful for George Hinson.

Do you know George?

Probably not. After all, he died in 2007. At the age of 104.

But, I promise you, you know something George did.

George Hinson invented the twist tie. At the age of 20.

You know that little tie that is used to close your bread to keep the air out?

Yes, that little tie.

George Hinson isn’t a household name. I get that.

But, his invention is in probably every home in America!

I’m thankful for inventors! For those men and women who use their skills to improve our life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (Tuesday)


I’m thankful today is Tuesday.

Yesterday was catch up day from the weekend: emails, phone calls, mail.

Oh, and there were the meetings.

Today, only 1 ½ hours of meetings. The remainder of the day I get to focus on manuscripts.

I get to read today.

I realize for most people reading doesn’t sound like work.

If you are reading for pleasure, it isn’t. However, as an editor, my reading is for work. It is detailed work.

Spelling. Grammar. Context. Theology.

Can’t miss a thing.

While challenging, work reading is good. And important.

Hello Tuesday! I’m thankful you’re here!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Month of Thanksgiving--100 Words (Mondays)


For some people, it seems wrong to be thankful for Mondays.

Almost stupid.

But, today, I’m thankful for Mondays.

I did say today.

I don’t know I can always say that I’m thankful for Mondays.

After the weekend with family. Doing what I want to do. Enjoying some down time. Experiencing only the stress that comes from being a husband and dad.

But, today, I’m thankful for the start of a new week.

A new week of opportunities. A new week of meeting new people. A week of experiencing new things.

Newness. That’s why I am thankful for Mondays.