Finest of Friends, Maxwell

The finest of friends must sometimes be stern sentinels, who will insist that we become what we have power to become” – Neal A. Maxwell

I was cleaning out some boxes this weekend and came across this 3×5 card with this quote. I am reminded of my best friend from high school, we still keep in touch. I am reminded of college friends and several others I have met along the way. Men and women that have and will call me when I forget my place. They hold me accountable to our shared standards and the ones that I hold for myself. These friends also continue to build me up and encourage me to improve; to continue the quest of personal improvement.

True, it isn’t something that everyone undertakes and can seem to be a daunting task. I would say that those first few weeks and sometimes months it can seem like it. That is why it is so important to focus on the future and have your goals set and firmly placed in your minds eye.

Jim Rohn says, “That you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” So, who are your sentinels? Who do you spend time with? What books (audio, paper, or electronic) are you reading? What lectures or workshops are you attending? Who do you follow on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter? What are the people at work you are spending time with?

These are all things that have an effect or impact on us. These quotes that I write about have been my companions for a very long time … some for over 20 years. They each have had the desired affect on me that I wanted them to have. Pick your friends and influences, be mindful of who you associate with, and above that read non-ficton business and personal development books!

iron wil

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

A Refiner’s Fire

Melting_crucibleLife brings with it many troubling and terrible things. There is pain, death, and accidents that deprive one of limbs and abilities. In fact, there is a statement that goes, “it is amazing what one can live through”. The human body, mind, and spirit are quite resilient and powerful and while God allows us to face the trials of mortality He has a specific purpose in mind. We can’t always see what He is doing while we live in the moment; however, if we walk by faith the path we have been given then when we come out on the other side we can see the miracle that has taken place.

Granted we can’t always see it right away and sometimes we can’t even begin to heal from what has happened. This year my heart has been bruised because 3 wonderful young adult friends of mine have been called home. These are kids that I taught in church or babysat for friends. In January, my friends Stephen Altorfer and Dallin Hilton died in a car accident on their way back to university. I’m just a friend and even now as I see these men as young boys in church my heart is filled with pain and sadness. I can’t even fathom the pain that their parents are bearing. I am tearing up just writing this post. Then a few weeks ago my friend Eliza Bailey died in a car accident, a beautiful young woman with a future of hope and promise. Again, I can’t imagine what her parents are going through. My heart aches for all 3 of these families and I have marveled at how they have handled this pain and loss. I am inspired by their faith and optimism; they know that families are forever and they will be reunited again.

As I contemplated what to write, these thoughts came to mind and then this scripture from Malachi Chapter 3 also came to the forefront of my thoughts. “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (1)

Yes, He will purify us and prepare us for His kingdom if we willing follow Him. Christ knows what we can endure and He knows that when we are at out most painful and horrific moments in life, that He will carry us through if we put all our love and trust in Him. (2) Faith in Christ is not for the faint of heart, the weak willed, it is a course that will be filled with trials and then great blessings and glorious vistas! Over the last 20 years, I have had my share of tribulation and I have reveled in the moments of wonder and glory! I know that there is a long life ahead (or rather I hope) and there will be many more things to come. I look forward to getting to know my God in my extremities, for that is how I will be prepared to return home to Him.

In those experiences, He will be purifying me and shaping me into the type of man He wants me to be. Here is synopsis of how a gold/silver smith knew the metal he was working with was ready.

“The best example I can think of to illustrate this principle is that of the work of a gold or silver smith. the gold smith heats the gold into liquid form until the impurities rise to the top and can be skimmed off. The gold is then allowed to cool and harden back into a solid state. The gold smith repeats this process of heating, removing impurities, and cooling until, after several cycles, the gold has been made free of all impurities. How does the gold smith know when the gold is pure? If when he looks at the liquid gold he can see his clear reflection in it, he knows the impurities are gone. there is nothing left that might obscure his image.

That is how it is with God and us. God uses the heat of trials to burn away the impurities in our lives, if we allow Him. Each time we submit to this process, and it is a process, God’s reflection in our lives becomes clearer and more radiant. As our impurities are removed, we better reflect His glorious image. But notice that times of purification happen when the gold or silver is heated to liquid form, when it is going through the fire and in a less stable state (for all you science buffs) – not when it is cooled and solid. We must come to the end of ourselves realizing that, like the hot liquid, we have no shape or strength and can do nothing in ourselves. It is the Lord that gives us form, after we have been purified. It is the refiners fire that removes the dross from the silver.” (3)

Lastly, I would like to close with this scripture: Alma 5:14 and 19 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?

iron wil

References

  1. Malachi 3:2-3
  2. Footprints, the poem
  3. “Through His Eyes”, By Francine L. Bouwense, page 110
  4. Alma Chapter 5: verses 14 and 19

Service in Disaster

WVFlood.02 WVFlood.01Some people know and some don’t know that here in WV we got hit with some pretty bad flooding in central WV. There are thousands of people without homes and (by last count that I saw) 24 deceased. From the reports, some towns have been completely wiped off the face of the earth. While this is very sad, I wanted to focus on what a few members of my community did starting the day after the flooding began.

There is a business here called Tannerman’s. It is a small business that was started about 14 years ago, if I remember the story correctly. The business owner has a big heart and he really has shown it. Travis Bishop, helped to organize donations and relief trucks and trailers to take the supplies down to the areas being flooded. I had been busy working that day and had no idea what had been going on in my state or my community. Paul, one of Tannerman’s employee’s, and a friend of mine hit me up on FB Messenger and asked me to help get the word out. I was shocked to see the initial flooding that I saw in the pictures. I must have spent 20 minutes looking at all the pictures that were posted and reposted by Tannerman’s and Eastern Panhandle Working Fires. I reposted to my church group and then started texting friends that I knew would be interested in helping out.

Now, I was amazed and impressed with the response from the Berkeley County community. On Friday after the flooding started 3 pickup trucks towed 3 trailers down to the Clendenin, WV area. WVFlood.Help 01 WVFlood.Help 02Saturday 2 more trucks and trailers went and then on Sunday another truck and trailer went. After that, I lost track. I know other supplies have been collected and taken down and are still being collected. I took something over today. Part of the sales floor was covered with cases of water, trash bags, cleaning supplies, and many other things.

This is how a community comes together, this is how a community builds the ties that will bind it together and help it work through it owns problems. It is the type of activity that shows how much we care about our fellow man and that we are willing to help out.

Scout MealsAnother friend of mine took his Boy Scout troop down to one of those communities hit by the flooding and they cooked and served breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a whole Saturday. This is service on a level I have not seen for some time. Service that makes me proud that I participated and proud on my friends and neighbors here in Berkeley County!

iron wil