The Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I don’t’ know when this song first had an impact on me, it’s meaning has changed over time as I have heard it year after year. In the last few years, it has changed from a song of dispare to a song of great hope and joy! I love to hear it and in my church, the organist really makes it wonderful and uplifting!

In my own life, I have moved through this opinion of the world and mankind in it. I remember a time when I was not interested in the affairs of those around me. It was typical of me to avoid others and not care what happened to those around me. At one point I didn’t even care about my siblings. Over the course of several years, my life took me into hard times and an actual and spiritual all desert.

It took a a few small acts from friends and family to soften my heart. Then I was presented with a choice … the choice between dark and light. The choice between walking the path of faith of the path of rebellion.

I was attending church with a very dear friend of mine, a guy who was and is an example to me. During the sermon, the pastor spoke about making New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t remember most of his sermon, at the very end, he said; “If there is only. one resolution that you make this year, make it to become more like Christ.” It was in that moment a decision had to be make. I was acting like the Israelites and halting between 2 decisions. It took me 3 days to make a decision about what path I would take.

As this year comes to a close, the twentieth year since that day, I have reflected upon the path my life has taken. I have often reflected on the decision I made and all the good things that have come from that day. I am ever so grateful for my wife – Lauren, my 4 boys, the faith that has developed, my education, the experiences, the books, the friends, my home, and job. All the good things that have come into my life, have come from that day.

The relationships with my siblings and parents have improved, my friendships have grown and more friends have come into my life. My gratitude abounds and my desire to share that gratitude and abundance continues to grow the more abundance and blessing flow into my life!

My hope and desire for this New Year is that you will be able to see and experience the blessing and abundance that is there for each and every one of us!

iron wil

Hustle While You Wait

I don’t know when I first heard this statement, “Hustle while you wait”. It was in college or sometime in my early twenties. It was already something that I had put into practice. I called it don’t waste time. I carried a book and note cards with me everywhere I went, so that I could read or memorize something. I started doing this as a teen because in military life there was a lot of waiting. Get to the docs and wait for your appointment. Get to school and wait for class to start. Wait for the bus to base and for the one home. Wait for friends to arrive or my mom to pick me up.

I learned then that I could use my time more wisely when I had the right tools with me. It is now 0123 and I am working on a blog post because I couldn’t sleep. I have been on FB and Twitter seeing what is going on in the world and checking in with friends and getting updates. I have ideas that I just have to take time to capture so that I can work on them and make them a reality. Sometimes it is as simply as what I will talk about tomorrow morning … I mean this morning in my Morning Motivational video I do live on Facebook. Another time, it is a task that I need to complete sooner than later or a friend that I should reach out to and check in on.

There are a few times when I chose not practice this concept and that is mostly during family time. Family time is precious and much more limited as the boys grow and get into other activities and they start going their separate ways.

I still practice this habit whenever I have some “down time” between other tasks. I keep a pretty full set of apps on my phone since that is where I do 90% of my communication and work these days. My wife once commented on the number of apps on my phone and I was honestly able to answer. Stating that I use the all about once every two weeks or so. Admittedly, there are a few that don’t get opened up very much because they are specialized. I keep them around for that one time I need it.

The point I am trying to make is that we can fill our time more effectively if we have our tools on hand. Many artists carry around a sketchbook so that they can capture an idea when it comes. Whatever work you do and no matter what your field you are in; it would behove you to have those tools to make use of what otherwise would be wasted time.

iron wil

Mourning a Soldier and a Nation

Carried in HonorsThis last week on Thursday, I attended the funeral of my great uncle Paul. He was interned in Arlington National Cemetery with full honors. I knew before I ever arrived that I would cry. The service that is rendered to our solders, sailors, airmen, and marines always moves me. The beauty and simplicity of the service and the sharpness of those carrying the casket and rendering honors is so powerful! When my grandfather died in 2003 and we attended that funeral in PA; I was moved to tears during the 21 gun salute.

After the service, I walked back to my car before my wife and kids. I needed a moment and there I sat and cried because I am so concerned for our future. I am so worried about what may come in this next election and I am worried that we will not have the moral courage and fortitude to stand for truth and righteousness. I fear that we will fail in our efforts to make America the powerful world leader it once was. That we will never be able to be the standard bearer for freedom and peace.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” ― Sun TzuThe Art of WarThis is often said in simpler words, A warrior prepares for battle hoping he never has to fight. This is best symbolized in this clip from Hero, if you have not seen this film it is a beautiful story and will help to frame the context of this clip.

I brought this up, because for several years (The Cold War), we were able to stand on principles (no matter what party the President was) and set the example and worked to provide real peace and friendship throughout the world. Now, we are mocked by many of our enemies and ridiculed by some that were once our friends. This saddens me because I know we are better than this, I know we have what it takes to stand tall and be the change we “wish to see in the world“.

There are 2 prophets in the Book of Mormon what mourn for and pray for their people Nephi (the son of Lehi) and Enos. They both prayed for and wept for their people. While I am not a leader in the political sense and the only real group I have authority over is my family, in that moment of my life; I understood in a very personal and visceral way what they must have felt. I know that we as a people have the courage, faith, and love of each other to rise above the hostilities and bigotry that has been promulgated by the media, politicians, and groups in the public eye that are more interested in getting their way than understanding others.

Louisiana and the citizens there stood tall and proud as they helped each other survive the floods … and we heard so little about it in the media … unless you got off the beaten path and find the local news for those cities or you follow a lesser known news website that covers things the MSM (Main Stream Media) likes to ignore. I have faith and hope that we can restore our virtue and honor as a nation and stand again as a beacon of hope for a lost and fallen world. We are the last great hope for humanity and if we let those who don’t believe it then we will fall down never to rise again.

iron wil

You, Do You

I recently watched a superhero cartoon in which 2 characters with different approaches or styles teamed up. After probably 1/3 of the film with one of the characters trying to get the 2nd to do things in her way. Finally, he told her, “You do you and I’ll do me”. It worked much better when they both were themselves and did things their way.

It reminded me that each person has particular skills and abilities that they have come by naturally and developed or they developed with purpose. My brother Rob learned to juggle and became a decent juggler. Oh, he could have spent much more time on it and become extremely proficient, If I remember correctly, he wanted to just learn how to juggle 3 different objects. I was not interested in juggling, I was interested in earning money. I became good at doing the job outlined and performing to a high standard.

I love to work and am willing to put in as much time as the job requires. I have my limitations and skills that need improving. I know what I need to do … in some cases, I just need to “do” … to practice and then actually put the skills into practice. No matter what, I am always myself. I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. I sometimes get into trouble with my family or friends because of strong differing opinions.

Being an Army Brat, my community really consisted primarily of my family. The bases and neighbors changed all the time; the community grew stronger or weaker depending on the individuals and the relationships between them. Since my last move in 2009, I have been learning about community and the benefits and blessings that come from building relationships over time. My only reference has been family and a few best friends I have gained over the years since my father retired. I am learning to get involved and really be part of a community. I am learning to bring good to my community and help to build it up and make it better.

The beautiful thing about our world and the humans in it, is that when we become our best selves we bring the world up a level. We improve the world in our own small way. Look at the power that single individuals who have the vision and belief to work with an iron will to accomplish those goals. We could talk about Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and so many others that have brought good into our world.

How have you made a positive impact in your family, neighborhood, and community? How have you lived your life? Who have you helped?

Remember the story of the Starfish Thrower?

 

iron wil