Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Moment, Season or Lifetime

Someone once told me everyone you meet is in your life for a moment, for a season, or for a life time. I think that's right, and you never know which category a person is going to fall into when you meet them.

If they are in your life for a moment, enjoy the moment. If someone is in your life for a season, enjoy the season. Remember, the season is not over until you have learned what you were supposed to learn from the relationship.

Some folks are in your life for the duration. These people are the greatest treasures you possess.

A moment, a season, or a lifetime. People are what count most in life.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Wilbur James

Wilbur James used to run a service station in the town where I grew up. People didn't think well of Wilbur. He drank, cussed, didn't go to church, and didn't engage in small talk. The rumor was that he had served time as a young man. Most folks were scared of him.

I always liked Wilbur. He was honest, hard-working, and he was the only one in our town who hired convicts. He believed everyone deserved a second chance, so he hired people who were fresh out of prison or on parole. He worked them hard, managed them carefully, taught them skills, and paid them fairly.

Wilbur was also a faithful husband and a loving father. I think the Almighty liked Wilbur James more than the folks who criticized him.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dizzy Dean

When I was a boy, Dizzy Dean did the commentary for the Baseball Game of the Week on Saturday afternoon. Old Dizzy was a colorful character and a pretty good sportscaster until about the seventh inning, when he was too drunk to make much sense. Pee Wee Reece took over then.

Dizzy had been one of the greatest pitchers in major league history. He claimed he was the best. "Braggin' ain't braggin' if you can do what you say you can do," he would say.

He got hit in the toe by a line drive during the 1937 All Star Game. Rather than wait for it to heal, he altered his pitch so that his toe would not hurt when he stepped forward on it. He ended up hurting his arm and had to retire from baseball.

Small things make a big difference, don't they?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Favorite Quotes

Here are more of my favorite quotes:

Gore Vidal says the origin of the word politics is: poly meaning many and ticks meaning blood sucking insects.

There is an old Texas Ranger saying that I like: "No one in the wrong can stand up against a fellow who's in the right and keeps on a-comin'."

Mother Teresa observed, "Self-knowledge produces humility."

Will Rogers said, "You may be on the right track, but if you are standing still, you are going to get run over."

Tom Bodell wrote, "The difference between school and life is easy. In school, you're taught a lesson and then you're given a test. In life, you get a test that teaches you a lesson."

Here's a Mexican proverb, "Nothing is ever lost. It just changes owners."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Shopping Course

Someone needs to give a driver's education course to folks who use store shopping carts. Some of the worst drivers I've ever seen are in grocery stores. Here are some driving rules I would like to see my grocery store consider:

  • Stay in your lane; don't drive down the center of the aisle
  • Don't pass except in the wide lanes in the front and back of the store
  • Don't park in the aisles and abandon your cart
  • Keep moving forward; don't try to back up while in an aisle
  • Stay away from wheel chairs and carts driven by children
  • Count your items before entering the express lane
  • If you think of something else you needed while you are in the check-out lane, finish checking out, put your groceries in the car, and then reenter the store for the missing things; don't hold up the line
  • If you cause the checker to do a price check, apologize to the people behind you and quietly commit suicide.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Legal Age Limits

Legal age limits are a mystery to me. According to the US Constitution, you have to be 35 years of age to be the President. The age minimum for being a Senator is 30; you can be a member of the House of Representative if you're 25.

You have to be 21 to drink and 18 to smoke. You can't get into an R-rated movie unless you're 17, but you can drive in fourteen states if you are 14 years old. Texas will let you marry with your parents' consent at age 14.

Let me see if I've got this correct: You can get married in Texas three years before you can go to an R-rated movie, seven years before you can drink, and four years before you can smoke.

Does that make any sense to you?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ice Cream

If I ran an ice cream shop, I'd post the following rules on the wall:

  • Pay before you are served; it's hard to hold ice cream and pay at the same time
  • Never try to handle more than two cones at one time
  • Don't try to walk and eat ice cream at the same time
  • If you have a beard, spoon your ice cream from a cup
  • Double decker's are twice as good, especially if you mix the flavors, but they are harder to manage
  • Lick, don't bite. Biting will freeze your teeth
  • Start licking on the sides to prevent dripping, then move to the top
  • Once the top is eaten, force the rest of the ice cream into the cone
  • Eat the ice cream impacted cone and try not to eat the paper that came with it
  • Finally, order another ice cream, and repeat the process

Don't you love eating ice cream?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


The smartest thing I have ever heard or read spoken by a mere mortal came from the lips of a physically challenged man. Robert is not mentally retarded, but he cannot speak and all his physical movements are difficult. He spends most of his waking hours in a wheel chair that has a special computer attached to it. With great effort Robert can tap out messages via this computer.

Robert was born a healthy child. His physical challenges originated from a swimming pool accident when he was a child.

Robert participates in a very important ministry in our church called, "The Circle of Friends." One night while a person precious to Robert was feeding him supper, she asked him a candid question: "Does it bother you that your body does not work like other people's bodies?"

Robert's answer was brilliant: "My body is not a problem for me. It is a test for other people."

Here is the question you need to answer: When you look at people like Robert do you see a human being? Do you pass the test?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Little Man On It?

We live in a secular society. One can no longer assume that the average person we meet knows the language or symbols of our faith.

A friend of mine went to a mall department store not long ago to purchase a cross necklace for his wife. When he asked the clerk to show him the various options being offered for sale, she responded with a curious question: "Do you want a cross with or without a little man on it?"

The only thing the clerk knew was that some people preferred a crucifix (Catholics) and others like the image of the empty cross (Protestants). The "little man" the clerk was referring to, of course, was Jesus of Nazareth!

There was a time when everyone in America, including people from other religions, knew something about Jesus. That can no longer be assumed.

If you are a person of faith, don't assume people understand about Jesus. They probably do not know about him so it is our privilege and responsibility to tell them.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

You Can't Take it With You

When I was a boy my family and my Sunday school teachers would often remind me that you can't take anything with you to heaven. Even today I hear people saying things like, "There are no pockets in funeral shrouds," or "You'll never see a funeral Hurst pulling a U-Haul," or "You can't take it with you."

You may be surprised to discover that according to the "good book" you take something with you. The last book in the Bible says our "works" follow us! The word "works" refers to all the things we have said, done, and experienced; all the moments for which we have been fully present. The truth is if you were to go to heaven without these "works," it wouldn't really be you there.

If you added up all the moments in your live that you have been fully alive doing good, how much time would it amount to? Five minutes? One hour? Ten hours? No matter how you figure it, you haven't been fully alive, doing good cumulatively for very long. We have slept-walked through most of our life.

If you want to take a lot with you to the other side, wake up and start doing good things.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

You Know It's Hot...

You know it's hot when:

Scalding water comes instantly from both taps.

You break a sweat the instant you walk outside in the morning.

Potatoes cook in the ground, so you just pull them up and add butter.

Farmers feed there chickens ice to keep them from laying hard boiled eggs.

The cows are giving evaporated milk.

You can brew sun tea indoors.

Your car seat is an oven and your safety belt is a branding iron.

The highway asphalt is liquefying.

The Baptists baptizing by sprinkling, the Pentecostals are giving rain checks, the Methodists are using wet wipes, and the Catholics are praying for the wine to be turned back into water.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Recent Ruminations

Here are some of my recent ruminations:

Worry is the dark room where negatives grow.

Coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous.

A narrow mind is often accompanied by a big mouth.

The best way to have the last word is to apologize.

Train your child in the way he should go, and it ain't a bad idea to go that way yourself.

Remarrying your former spouse is like breaking back into jail.

Whoever invented the term "blended family" should be shot; two families can merge but they don't blend.

You can only be young once but you can be immature forever.

What goes around comes around, usually with interest.

Life is what happens while we are making plans.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Being Actively Present

Now and then I hear someone brag about being a "multi-tasker"- being able to do several different things at one time. I never believe a word of it. Multi-tasking is a myth. What people actually do is switch rapidly from one task to another, with varying degrees of inefficiency.

People's attempt at multi-tasking doesn't impress me. What impresses me is people who are able to be completely present for a person or a task. In our hurried, pressured world it is hard to concentrate ones full attention on what others are saying or to focus on a single task. It is more likely we will be thinking about what we are going to say in response or flit from one project to another, which means we are not present.

I attend a lot of sessions that require my focused attention. Sometimes I go from one session to another. If I am not careful my thought processes will bleed over from one session to the next or I will anticipate the next session. When this happens I am physically present but emotionally absent.

The most important form of self-denial is denying oneself the thoughts and actions that prevent us from being actively present.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Facing Fear

Were you ever afraid of a neighborhood dog? Did you ever hurry by a house because you were intimidated by their beast in the yard?

It happened to me when I was a little boy. One day, I got tired of running. Instead, I picked up a stick and charged my tormentor. Guess what? The dog ran away. He was terrified of me!

There are things just like that dog which we face every day. Like barking dogs, they frighten us. It is only when we stop running and face our fears that we overcome them.

Somewhere along the way I learned a dictum that is true: "Do that which you fear, and your fear will disappear."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Servant Leadership

It's fashionable today to talk about servant leadership. You read about it in business books. You hear about it in leadership seminars.

The problem is most business leaders are using servant-hood as a tactic to help them get ahead. It is more style than substance.

Here is the test for whether you are serious about servant-hood: How do you react when people treat you like a servant?

Real servants don't expect applause, a standing ovation, or a plaque. They don't wait for honors or a promotion. For the most part, servants are ignored, taken for granted, and unappreciated. No one ever thanks them. It is the nature of the office of servant.

Now, are you sure you are interested in servant leadership? Or is it just leadership you want?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ingredient Labels

I have a suggestion. Don't ever read the ingredient labels on the food products you buy at the grocery store. If you read the labels, it will make you sick at your stomach. You can't believe all the chemicals that are in our food; strange sounding, unpronounceable additives. A lot of the ingredients contain the word "acid" and end with "ic". Why can't they be more direct and honest and just say, "There are a lot of fake chemicals in this food that you are better off not knowing about."

Why are these additives needed? To add color, taste, texture. To keep them looking and tasting fresh even though they aren't.

You have two choices: Read the labels and feel sick, or skip the labels. I recommend not reading the labels.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vicious Cycle

Do you realize how much advertising comes into your home? Check out the Sunday newspaper. If you remove the advertising, there is hardly anything left.

Examine the magazines you receive. They contain mostly advertising.

Television is the same. Remove the advertising and a one hour program shrinks to less than forty minutes.

Ads are expensive, too. They cost a lot of money. How can companies afford all these expensive ads? They do this by jacking up the prices of the goods and services we buy. We pay for the ads at the checkout line.

Why don't companies stop advertising and reduce the price? Are they afraid you won't buy their product? They figure you buy it because it is advertised.

So, the vicious cycle goes on.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Safety and Simplicity

Don't you hate those child-proof bottles? They seem more adult-proof than child-proof to me. Manufacturers are putting everything from mouth wash to vitamins in them these days.

I try my best to follow the instructions: "Push down and turn to open," or, "Squeeze sides while turning." It might as well say, "Pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time." I end up trying to bite the plastic lid off or puncture it with a knife.

Sometimes in our effort to make life safe, we complicate it terribly. There is a place for safety, but it needs to be balanced with simplicity.

Friday, July 13, 2012


In 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act. One of the requirements of the law is that businesses and other public institutions had to set aside a certain number of parking places for people with physical disabilities.

Well, I know people who keep a handicap placard in their glove compartment and pull it out whenever they can't find a parking place close to the venue they want to attend. If these folks have handicaps, they are mental, not physical.

Evidently, the strategy is to get a doctor to issue a temporary permit because they are doing some form of rehab, and then use the permit permanently.

Whenever you see a fully mobile person parking in a handicap parking space, you have my permission to give them a shame on you look.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


In the early 1500's when Spanish navigators were exploring the coast of what we call the Yucatan Peninsula, they saw well-constructed buildings and went ashore. The native Mayan Indians came out to greet them.

The explorers asked in Spanish what the Indians called themselves. The Mayans had never seen Spaniards before or heard their language. They only spoke their own Mayan tongue.

The Indian replied, "Ci-u-than." In Mayan, it meant, "I don't understand you."

The Spaniards misheard the Mayans. They thought they had answered that the place was called, "Yucatan." Thus, the Yucatan Peninsula, the region of Mexico containing Cancun, got its name.

It makes you wonder how many things we take for granted as being true are based on misunderstandings.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I know a man who once held a prestigious office. He retired early because his wife had a massive stroke. He quit his job to stay home and care for her.

I checked on him not long ago. During the conversation, I asked him how his wife was getting along. He said, "You know, I love her now more than I thought I did the day I married her."

What an astounding statement! She spends most of her time in a wheelchair. He bathes her, feeds her, and potties her the way he would for an infant child. She is no longer beautiful or sexy. So how can he love her more now than he thought he did the day he married her?

It's called commitment. It's the deepest form of love.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

R and R

Vacations and time off for rest and re-creation are as important as hard work.

Louis Brandeis, who was a Supreme Court Judge in the early part of the twentieth century, used to say, "I need rest. I find I can do a year's worth of work in eleven months, but not in twelve months."

Think about it. There are breaks taken in every aspect of life. In sports, there are rest periods and time outs. In formal meals, you're brought a sorbet or something else to cleanse the palate before the next course. Religion teaches us about Sabbath rest.

Taking time off for R and R is not laziness. It is essential for good health, sanity, and creativity.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Probe Deeper

When I am called on to do a funeral or memorial service, one of the things I always do is call the family together for a meeting. We plan the service and tell stories about the deceased. Every time I do one of these storytelling sessions, the same thing happens. People in the room who knew the deceased will say, "I didn't know that."

Weeks after the service when I talk to the family about how they are doing and what their take aways from the memorial experience were, they often say a similar thing. "I never realized all the things that father did, or what he meant to people." They had learned things about their loved ones from people who came to show their respect.

If you have a loved one, probe deeper. Get to know them better. Ask questions. One day you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Stupid Promises

I have a theory about the people who are serving time in prison. Most of them are there because of vows they made to themselves - vows like:

"I'm not going to be poor anymore," or

"If he messes with me, my wife, my girlfriend, my child, or my friend again, I'm going to kill him."

These are inner vows they made to themselves. No one heard them or were aware of them.

So, when they broke the law, it appeared to outsiders they were doing something inconsistent, while actually they were acting consistently with their inner vows.

Be careful of the stupid promises you make to yourself: "I'll never..." or "Next time I'll...," and if you make a stupid promise to yourself, have the courage to break it.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Recent Thoughts

Here are some recent thoughts which have crossed my mind:

  • Belly laughs are an instant vacation
  • Here's a formula to guarantee failure: Try to please everyone
  • Taking a few deep breaths during the day will calm your mind
  • Usually the best prepared person wins
  • The most important sex organ is the mind
  • No one is in charge of your happiness but you
  • If a relationship has to be a secret, you probably shouldn't be in it
  • Your children only have one chance for a happy childhood, so make it memorable

Friday, July 6, 2012

Time Management

Time management instructors often use a jar with a wide mouth as an illustration.

First, they fill up the jar with large rocks and say, "Is it full?" Most people say, "Yes."

Then they add small pebbles. As they shake the jar, the gravel fills up the spaces between the large rocks. They ask again, "Is it full?" "Yes," is the expected answer.

Then they add sand, again shaking the jar so that the particles find their place between the crevices.

Finally, water is added.

"Now, is the jar filled?" the expert asks. "Yes, it is completely filled," comes the reply.

Then the time management instructor makes his real point: "If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in." His point is, do the most important things on your agenda first or you'll never get them done.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Storms of Life

Susan and I once built a house on a fishing lake in central Georgia. We chose the house site carefully, saving as many trees as possible.

Beside the house was a majestic oak tree we particularly loved. One day as we arrived at our lakehouse, we discovered the tree had fallen during a winter storm. We were heart-sick.

But as I examined the tree more carefully, I discovered while it looked healthy on the outside, it was rotten on the inside. The storm had felled a dead tree.

A lot of people are like that tree. They look good to the outside world, but on the inside they are unhealthy, sick, and even dead. It is your core, your inner integrity which matters most in life. It is the only thing that will sustain you during the storms of life.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


George Bernard Shaw once wrote these words: "People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them."

Let me put this in another way. When you encounter a barrier which keeps you from the thing you want, it is there to see how much you really want to achieve your dream. If you want to get on the other side of the barrier badly enough, you will find a way over it, around it, or through it.

Marcus Aurelius said, "Nothing can resist a will which will stake even existence for its fulfillment."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. No matter how hard you try, you are going to screw up.

But there are two things you can do - two decisions you can make that will keep your mess up's from messing up your life.

First, do not ever engage in deception. Never try to make things appear to be different from what they are. There is nothing evil about screwing up. But slight of hand is evil.

Second, when you realize you have made a mistake, move quickly to admit it and make amends. This includes asking for forgiveness and forgiving yourself.

These two steps will prevent mistakes from becoming disasters.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Good Conversationalist

I went to a dinner party not long ago. Seated on one side of me was a bore, and on the other side was one of the most interesting conversationalists I've ever been around.

What was the difference between these two dinner guests? The bore talked about himself the whole night - what he owned, where he had gone on his last vacation, all the important people he knew. The brilliant conversationalist wanted to know about me. She kept probing to find out more about me. She seemed to think I was interesting and that I had a fascinating life.

Who do you like to be around? People who talk about themselves or people who seem interested in you?

Now you know how to become a good conversationalist.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Keep Practicing

The difference between a professional and an amateur is that pros make difficult things look easy. It is true in sports, in the arts, and in every profession.

But don't let the professionals fool you. They may have special gifts and aptitudes, but the thing that sets them apart is they practice, practice, practice.

People who want to be a "natural" - someone who has great proficiency but doesn't have to spend time honing their skills - never make it. They always wash out.

If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right. And the only way to do it right is to keep practicing.