Saturday, June 30, 2012

Random Ideas

Consider these random ideas that have crossed my mind recently:

Anyone who can read and follow directions can learn to cook.

Regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're dead and gone.

We all have pain in life, but we don't have to be a source of pain for others.

People will forget your name and face, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

All truth is paradoxical, and when you try to explain it to other people, it sounds contradictory.

Whenever you decide something with an open, honest heart, you inevitably make the right decision.

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle interruptions, traffic snarls, and flight delays.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Exit Ramp

Our family still laughs about a former baseball pitcher named Pasquale Perez. The Atlanta Braves carried him on their roster for a couple of years during the 1980's. It was Pasquale's first day to pitch for the Braves.

It was also his Major League debut. He never showed up. He was new to the city and no one showed him how to find the exit ramp nearest the baseball stadium. So he kept going around the Atlanta loop, the way the Griswold family kept circling Paris' Arc of Triumph in the movie, "European Vacation."

Poor Pasquale finally ran out of gas and someone took him to the baseball stadium. He arrived two hours after the game was over.

He reminds me of some people I know. They keep doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. They repeat the same destructive pattern because they can't seem to find the exit ramp.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Famous Quotes

Here are a few more quotable quotes:

"You probably wouldn't worry about what people think of you if you knew how seldom they do." Olin Mills

"The best way to lose a friend is to lend him money." Mark Twain

"He reminds me of the man who murdered both his parents, and then, when sentence was about to be pronounced, pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan." Abraham Lincoln

"People always have two reasons for doing what they do - a good reason and the real reason." J.P. Morgan

"It is not the man who has little, but the man who craves more, that is poor." Seneca

"The reason we are so pleased to find out other people's secret faults is that it distracts public attention from our own." Oscar Wilde

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wish I Had Given More

I once served a church in South Georgia which had a beautiful sanctuary. It was built in the early part of the twentieth century by the efforts and financial contributions of a man named Dr. McKenzie.

Dr. McKenzie came to town as a physician, but soon discovered he could make a better living for his family as a land broker. He became very wealthy, and, as I said earlier, used much of his wealth to build the church.

During the depression Dr. McKenzie suffered financial reversals, and ended up going broke.

Some of Dr. McKenzie's grandchildren were still alive while I was the pastor there. One day one of them told me about a discussion she had with Dr. McKenzie when he was an old man. "Grandaddy, are you sorry you gave so much money to build the church?" she asked. His answer was classic. "Are you kidding!" he exclaimed. "All I have now is what I gave away. I just wish I had given more."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Here are a few more of my recent random thoughts:

The best photographs anyone will ever take of you are your childhood pictures.

We have no one to blame but ourselves for Houston's traffic congestion.

People are always either motivated or defeated by their efficiencies.

Somewhere along the way, we all decide what is most important to us: things or people. We either use people and love things, or we love people and use things.

Choose to be around people who treat the waitress as well as they do the chairperson of the board.

Choose not to live by the maxim, I'll do anything once.

When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Major Applewhite

The greatest quarterback in the history of Texas football, as far as I am concerned, was Major Applewhite. Regardless of which university you rooted for, you had to like that kid.

He wasn't very big. He didn't have a strong arm. But he was a great team leader.

As he approached his senior season at the University of Texas, he held every record in the book. Yet most of the year he sat on the bench, while a freshman phenom took his spot in the lineup. He never complained. He never second-guessed his coach. He settled for playing second fiddle. And he coached the young quarterback from the sideline. He said what mattered most was that the team won.

In the last game of his college career, the University of Texas was playing in the Holiday Bowl. The coach put him in the game, and he led the Longhorns to a thrilling come-from-behind victory.

May the spirit of Major Applewhite live in each of you today.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Dream

I had a great dream the other night. Everything in my life had finally worked out. My health, my family, my finances - everything was just perfect. No problems whatsoever. I wanted to stop the dream, put a bow around it, and make it permanent.

Here is the problem: It was a dream. Reality is quite different. In the real world, nothing stays fixed. People and things are forever in flux.

This means if things in your life are going well, great. Enjoy it, because it won't last forever. And if things in your life are going poorly, the good news is the circumstances are going to change. The constant in life is change. The idea that somewhere out there in the future things are going to be permanently Utopian - well, you'll have to wait on heaven for that.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Don't you love people who are determined and whose determination drives them to do things others consider impossible?

I love the story about the man who spent the night with a friend. During the night it flooded.

He went out on his friend's front porch and saw an unusual sight. It was a hat flowing with the current, then doing an about face and flowing against the current, then repeating the sequence.

He asked his friend to explain the unusual sight. He said, "Oh, it's only granddad. He said come hell or high water he was going to mow the grass."

Don't you love people like that?

Don't listen to people who tell you your dreams are impossible. You are able to do more than you have ever been able to imagine.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Quickly Forgotten

Let me tell you a grim secret: When you are dead and gone, most of the things you said and achieved, or that you considered to be significant, will be quickly forgotten. If there is anything you did which is remembered, it is likely to be something you would have considered as insignificant.

Does the name Clement Moore ring a bell? One hundred and fifty years ago, he was a world famous professor of ancient literature at Columbia University. He produced the first Hebrew Dictionary. But do you know what he is best remembered for? A children's Christmas poem he wrote for his children. It goes like this:

"'Twas the night before Christmas,

And all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring,

Not even a mouse…"

Do you know what people will remember about you one day? Simple acts of kindness and generosity.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Someone Else's Script

Here are a few of my recent random thoughts:

Acting on the basis of conventional wisdom guarantees mediocrity.

When people rib you or give you a nickname, it means you finally belong.

Never date a person who is crazier than you are.

Greatness happens when three things come together: character, courage, and circumstances.

Do your best to remove the word impossible from your vocabulary.

You will never fully understand unconditional love until you are a parent.

Many people act out someone else's script in the epic of their life and never realize it.

The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Most of us expect the large events of life to bring us happiness and joy. Actually it is the small, everyday aspects of life which bring us happiness.

If you want to increase your joy and contentment, start by opening your senses to the beauty around you. Notice the coming and going of the daily sun, the changes in the seasons. Become aware of the sounds, smells, and sights in nature.

Noticing these common, everyday events will help you feel connected to the earth and increase your sense of the wonder of being alive.

Take a few minute vacations throughout the day. Make a conscious effort to spend this time hearing the people and things around you, feeling gratitude, and meditating on the simple pleasures of life.

If you increase your awareness and appreciation of life, you'll begin to see miracles happening all around you. And it will increase your joy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If You Became Rich

An American businessman was visiting a fishing village in Mexico. He saw a single fisherman dock his tiny boat and carry off several large yellow-fin tuna.

He carried on a brief conversation with the fisherman and discovered he had very little ambition. He was catching only enough fish to survive and using his time to sleep late, play with his children, stroll in the village, and play his guitar.

"Let me help you develop a business plan," advised the American. "If you are willing to fish longer and harder, you can buy a larger boat, then add employees, then buy more boats. Who knows, you might even end up with a cannery. You'd be rich like me then. What would you do with your time if you became rich?"

The fisherman answered, "I'd sleep late, play with my children, stroll in the village, and play my guitar."

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Monday, June 18, 2012


In one of his books, Robert Fulghum tells a remarkable story.

He writes about the natives in the Solomon Islands who have a unique form of tree logging. If a tree is too big to be felled with an ax, the loggers start yelling at it.

Here is how they do it. They gather before daylight and surround the tree. Just as the sun is coming over the horizon, they start yelling at the top of their voices at the tree. They continue this practice every day for thirty days. After that time, it is believed that the tree dies on the inside. Yelling kills the spirit of the tree. Then it is easy to cut down.

There is a lot of truth in the theory of those Solomon Islanders. Yelling does kill people's spirits. When we yell at our spouses, our children, our neighbors, or people who cut us off on the highway, we kill their spirit.

We don't like it when people yell at us. Why would we do it to others?

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Here are a few more random thoughts that have come to me recently:

Nothing is more terrifying than ignorance in action.

There are no extended warranties in life.

There are things we never knew about our loved ones until they are dead.

One in a row is a good start.

Addictions refuse to negotiate with you.

It is impossible to anticipate all the problems you are going to face in life.

The best you can do is to live with confidence that when things go wrong, you will be all right.

Narcissism is like pornography: It is hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.

People say, "Do everything in moderation," but does that include moderation?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Let's Be Honest

Let's be honest. Most of us are not good at expressing our deepest feelings.

I heard about a farmer from East Texas who was being examined on the witness stand by a Houston attorney. He had been hauling his favorite mule in a trailer behind his truck when an accident occurred. Initially the farmer had said he was okay, but later complained of a neck injury.

The lawyer pressed him about why he hadn't told the state trouper about his neck injury.

"It's pretty simple," the farmer answered. "My mule was in the ditch moaning, and the state patrolman shot her between the eyes. Then he came to me and asked, "How are you?" I said, "Just fine."

Often what we tell people is not the truth but what we think they want to hear, especially if we fear their anger.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Good Old Days

Now and then I'll hear someone engaging in nostalgia, pining for the good old days when things were less stressful.

The good old days they usually have in mind are the 1950's.

Well, I lived during the 1950's and things were not so great. Yes, life was less complicated, but it wasn't necessarily better.

In the 1950's, there were a lot of bad things in the shadows that have since come to light - racism, sexism, poverty, injustice. People died in the 1950's of diseases which can be cured today. People did not have air conditioning in those days. Can you imagine life in Houston without air conditioning?

Besides, it doesn't do any good to wish for the good old days. That water is long since under the bridge.

Here is a remarkable thought: today is the good old days people will talk about tomorrow.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Funny Story

Do you want to hear a funny, true story?

A couple was going through a divorce because an online romance was discovered. Both the husband and the wife were carrying on torrid written relationships via the internet using fake names. She called herself, "Sweetie;" he called himself, "Prince of Joy."

They eventually decided to meet up. But there was no happy ending. You see, the person they had been writing to was their own spouse! The new love of their life ended up being their same old spouse.

Now they are both filing for divorce, with each accusing the other of unfaithfulness and betrayal.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. If your marriage is in trouble, chances are someone else will see in your spouse what you no longer see. Rather than divorcing, why don't you rediscover it?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Life is the Trip

I recall a conversation I had with my Mother when she was about 80 years old.

Because I was greatly impressed with the way she and my step-father were living their lives, I said, "I look forward to being an old man."

Quickly Mother responded, "Why?"

I answered, "Because I think I'll be a cool old man."

"No, son," Mother corrected me. "Don't look forward to being old. Learn to enjoy the age you are now."

Mother was trying to focus my thinking on the importance of living in the present moments rather than waiting for some future time to live.

Life is not some future destination we will reach someday. Life is the trip, all of it, including this moment we are sharing right now. Someone has rightly observed that today is not a dress rehearsal. It is life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dane Squires

Do you ever read the obituaries in the newspaper? What if one day you opened the paper, started reading the obituary section, and found your own death announcement. I'm not talking about reading the obituary of someone else with the same name. I'm talking about literally reading the announcement of your own death.

This is exactly what happened to Dane Squires. By the time he called the funeral home, the funeral was underway. The call arrived just before the body was loaded into a hearse for a one-way trip to the crematorium.

It seems some nameless drifter had been mistakenly identified as Squires after a commuter train accident.

I'll bet this was a sobering experience for Dane Squires. No word yet on whether the Squires family will get a refund from the funeral home, though.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lying is Wrong-Right?

Lying is wrong - right? Not just because your Momma told you so. It is a law written into the universe. All religions forbid lying.

But is lying always wrong?

Consider the lie told by an Italian physician during World War II. As the Gestapo entered the Jewish ghetto, the Gentile doctor gathered as many Jews as possible, 45 in all, into his small hospital. He admitted the Jews as patients, and wrote on their medical charts they were suffering from a made-up disease he called "K Syndrome." When the Nazis came to collect the Jews, he warned them that "K Syndrome" was highly contagious and deadly. He told them to enter the hospital at their own risk.

Afraid of contracting "K syndrome," the Nazis fled and never returned.

Should the good doctor have told the Nazi soldiers the truth?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Believing in Someone

Does the name Vinny Del Negro strike a bell? He played in the NBA for several years.

When Vinny was a high school senior, and Jim Valvano, coach of North Carolina State, was trying to recruit him, Valvano produced a fictitious video of an ACC championship game between the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State.

In the closing seconds of the game, Vinny Del Negro had the ball. The announcer said, "Del Negro puts up a shot. It's good! Del Negro wins the game! North Carolina State wins the ACC Championship!"

Vinny did go to North Carolina State, and four years later that is exactly what happened. There were 10 seconds left in the game. North Caroline State was down by one point, but they had the ball. Coach Valvano called time out.

He looked at De Negro and said, "Do you remember the video when you were a senior in high school?" Del Negro sank the shot, and North Caroline State won the ACC tournament.

Believing in someone is powerful.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


There is an Italian saying which advises us to speak nothing but good of the dead. The same should be said of the living. If we cannot say something good about people, we should say nothing at all.

It is easy to do harm to another person's good name under the guise of virtue. All we have to do is to preface our slander with remarks such as:

  • "I'm no saint myself, but…"
  • "She is really a wonderful person, but…"
  • "Don't tell anyone, but…"

You know my general rule about the word, "but": When you hear it, disregard what was said previously. Instead, when people slander others in our presence, we should object. After all, if they will slander others, they will probably slander us as well.

Friday, June 8, 2012

10,000 Hours

I must be the only person in America who has never watched American Idol on television. I have been a bit put off by the American Idol syndrome. It has led the populous to believe native talent and personality can make us an overnight success, that you can by-pass the hard work, preparation, and sacrifice that success ordinarily calls for.

The American Idol syndrome is an illusion, a mirage, a lie. If you want to be good at something, whether it is hitting a baseball, playing a piano, or doing surgery it takes discipline and lots of practice.

It requires what columnist David Brooks calls the 10,000 hour rule. Mr. Brooks rightly points out that we are not good at a thing until we have practiced for 10,000 hours. It is ok to have a hobby, but you are not going to be good at something unless you are willing to clock in the hours.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, has written a book called "How Will You Measure Your Life."

In it he recounts a story about when he was playing in the final game of a basketball tournament. He discovered that the final game was on Sunday, and he had made a religious promise when he was 16 years old that he would never play a competitive game on Sunday. He talked to his coach and teammates about his moral quandary. They told him that they needed, him and that the extenuating circumstances required a just this once exception to his rule. Christensen held to his conviction and said it was the most important decision of his life.

His final words about the incident still haunt me. He said he learned it is easier to keep your commitments 100% of the time than it is 98% of the time. He is right! And do you know why? Because life is one extenuating circumstance after another.

What commitments do you have that you are unwilling to compromise, ones you will maintain 100% of the time?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Famous Quotes

Here are some of my favorite quotes about being yourself:

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting." E. E. Cummings

"History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies." Alexis de Tocqueville

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." Henry David Thoreau

"None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself." Harvey Fierstein

"What you think of me is none of my business." AA saying

"We are born originals. So why do so many of us die copies?" Edward Young

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Robert Frost

"Once conform, once do what others do because they do it, and a kind of lethargy steals over all the finer senses of the soul." Michel de Montaigne

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

One Trip or Two

Several years ago someone asked me to carry a huge load of objects of every size and weight to her car.

As it turned out, she didn't need help with the objects. She was doing an experiment to see if people would make one load and risk dropping something or make two smaller loads and place less stress on their body and the objects being carried.

Well, you can guess what I did. I attempted to make one trip.

I struggled under the load and even dropped one of the objects. Unfortunately this is characteristic of me. I tend to take on more than I can do, thus putting unnecessary stress on my mind, body, and spirit.

If the experiment had included you, would you have made one trip or two. The answer to this question may affect your health and longevity.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Toilet Paper

Here are some of my recent random thoughts:

If you don't transform your pain, you will transmit it.

Life is like a roll of toilet paper: the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.

Ninety percent of the fish live in 10% of the water, so if you are not getting any bites, sooner or later it's time to move on.

A sharp tongue can cut your own throat.

The heaviest weight to carry is a grudge.

If you want to make the world a better place improve yourself and help your neighbor.

Some people say "familiarity breeds contempt." Maybe not, but it sure does take the edge off of admiration.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Seven Property Laws

I have four grandchildren who are toddlers. I love my grandchildren, but toddlers are the most self-centered creatures in the universe. After observing my grandchildren for some time I am ready to codify the seven property laws for toddlers:

1. If I like it, it's mine.

2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.

4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.

5. If I am doing something, all the pieces are mine.

6. If it looks just like mine, it's mine.

7. If I think it's mine, it's mine.

Greed and self-centeredness are acceptable for children, but they look ugly on adults. Do you like greedy people? What about selfish, self-centered people? Do you enjoy hanging around them? I doubt it. If none of us like greedy and selfish people, why would we want to be one?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What Wives Hear

Sometimes when men say things to their wives, the wives hear something entirely different.

For example, when a man says, "It's a guy thing," what the wife hears is, "There is no rational explanation for it."

When a husband says, "Can I help with dinner?" his wife hears, "What else needs to be put on the table?"

When a man says, "It would take too long to explain," what he means is, "I have no idea how it works"

When a man says, "Take a break, honey, you are working too hard," this being translated means, "I can't hear the TV because of the vacuum cleaner."

When a man says, "It's a good movie" it means there are guns, fist fights, fast cars, and sexy women.

When a man says, "I have my reasons for what I'm doing," he means "I hope I think of a good reason very soon."

And when a man asks, "What did I do this time?" he means, "What did you catch me doing this time?"

Friday, June 1, 2012

Public School Teacher

Being a public school teacher is a tough job.
 We ask our teachers to correct the students disruptive behavior, watch for signs of abuse, monitor dress, and instill in them a love for learning. They must check their backpacks for weapons and drugs, warn them about sexually transmitted diseases, encourage them about good sportsmanship, and raise their sense of self-esteem. A teacher's  job description includes making sure everyone gets a balanced diet, is checked regularly for head lice, is observed for signs of anti-social behavior, and passes the state exams. Teachers are expected to get along with the administration and faculty, enjoy PTA functions, be respected by students, and communicate with parents. They are to work hard during school hours, grade papers and do lesson plans at home, keep up with continuing education, and live on a salary that qualifies them or food stamps.
  What a job! No wonder they get the summer off!