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

Iron Wil, the Mighty Freight Train

“My brother, William asked me to explain where his nickname Iron Wil, the Mighty Freight Train came from.  This is a two part name and has separate stories combining the name and clarifying who he is.

It all started when we moved to Texas, he was preparing to go on a two year mission for our church, we watched a Disney movie call Iron Will and then we realized that that is what made our brother Wil different from so many others, he would push through adversity no matter what the cost or the reward as long as it was right or the principle true. Determination would growl out of him as he pushed on to be more than he was or to move past an issue in front of him.

Then after his mission we played a friendly game of tackle football on a Thanksgiving morning, something that was a favorite pastime of ours. During one play Wil had the ball and was pumping down the line with three younger men clinging to him, he was a freight train rolling by me. He did finally get taken down when the fourth man came in for the final tackle and the entire group came down as a train would blow off a track.

I remember stopping in the middle of my action to stop and watch him push forward despite the others clinging to him.  I at first was awed, then I remember thinking the others were just hanging on with a hope that they could do something, but my brother defied their desires by chugging forward.

A train with its movement slowed or not must press forward and can only change course by a small change initially, Wil is also like this, but when he changes course know he will keep the same speed and determination he had before. Don’t get in his way because you won’t slow him down.”

Gratitude

As today is the first day of November and Halloween is behind us, many people will do the twenty X days of thankfulness and post about the things they are thankful for. I just wonder how many of us express our gratitude during the rest of the year? I personally have been working on doing better at this for many years. It isn’t that I am not grateful, it is that I don’t express it as quickly as I should. I have a brother that is really good at doing this, for many years he has set a great example for me and our siblings.

I do look forward to the holidays each year with hope and excitement because many people seem to be filled with joy and kindness. The world seems to become a better place even for these next 2 months as the year ends with Christmas and New Year’s. These 2 months seem to rekindle our connection to each other and remind us that not only are we not alone, we are connected. Something that continues to impress me about several homeless people I have met is their gratitude for the smallest kindness or service.

I have a friend that is homeless and so I don’t see him very much, nor do I hear from him very often. Our friendship has made me more aware of the homeless community within my county and how I might be better able to help them as a group and individually. I know that it is going to get colder with fall in full swing and winter coming on soon; the homeless shelter in town recently underwent some renovations and now can sleep 78 (?). Which I have learned in a community of 110,000 people, that is not enough to help out these individuals.

In our nation today, with all the wealth and resources we have, this continues to be an issue. It is also a very complicated issue from what I have witnessed. I don’t have an answer on how to solve this problem … I don’t know if it is a problem we will ever solve in a way that truly helps our fellow citizens. I know that many of them have lost hope and their dignity. I hope one day that we can solve this problem for our nation … especially because we are better than this. We are a great nation and one that has and can do hard things.

Gratitude, such a plain and unassuming word that is filled with love and depth. May each of us allow our hearts to be turned a little more to our neighbor and reach to lift the head that hangs down and strengthen the feeble knees. May God bless our nation that we can again lead the world in goodness and hope for a brighter future.

iron wil

Receiving Wise Council

Recently, a quote was shared with me that came from a man I greatly respect. He lived a life that was full of work and commitments. When asked, he always gave very wise council. He words can be trusted. The dilemma that I now face is a personal one. I know that you may be wondering what the quote is … which aside from my personal decision doesn’t really matter.

My life has been spent in the pursuit of wisdom and council from some very well known individuals and by some not known outside of my religious life. My desire to learn and grow and become a better person has challenged me in many ways. Most have dealt with changing my thinking and actions. Each time I select a quote is because in some way it spoke to my heart and soul. It gave me a glimmer of hope that I could change myself enough to become more like the ideal encapsulated in the quote. I could see the quote as a stepping stone to becoming the old man I desire to be. I know an old man! I say that because I see becoming a better person as a marathon not a sprint. A journey that will take my whole life. The life a christian is to be spent following Christ; in subjugating our will to His. He does not subjugate us, He provides the law by which we are to live and we are the one that must chose to walk the path or not.

Since the day I chose to walk this path and committed 100% to the cause of Christ; I strive to be a better man. As always, some days are better than others and the cost is one I do not count. I made the choice to give somethings up; not for any another reason, than I felt it would help me on my way.

Again, wisdom from a tried and true source can always be trusted and those values that have lasted for thousands of years … and see controversial today will stand you in good stead. A man can live a life with a clear conscience when he is right in his heart and if he be religious, he can stand before his god with a clear conscience. That is a feeling that gives the ultimate confidence in oneself and the journey he has been called to serve.

iron wil

We Are Humans

Many years ago, I was sitting in a Chick-Fil-A outside of Cincinati, OH on my way to Louisville, KY to visit my best friend. As I sat there, I realized how similar & different people are.  We share similar fears & hopes.  We share similar joys & pains albiet the courses of our individual lives vary from persons & families. Most parents want their kids to grow up and have a better life than they did and most parents want to see their children marry and have families too. It continually is impressed upon my mind how much we are alike in our goals and desires for our families and how little what we look like really matters. We all love, live, and hope for a better future.

With all the craziness going on in the US right now, it would seem that some American’s don’t care about the “neighbors”. Yet, the flooding in Louisiana and West Virginia this summer really showed me how much average American’s really do look past our outward differences.  I can’t tell you how many different photos or videos I saw of black and white American’s helping each other. I gives me great hope that a we as a people have and do strive to look past those outward differences. With certain elements in our society right now, they want to focus on our outward appearance and how the amount of melanin we have in our skin makes it impossible to connect with each other.

In the back of my mind, I keep seeing the story of the Good Samaritan play out as I look across the news for America and I can’t help but to have hope that we are a good people, a people who first and foremost want to live our lives and provide for our families. So many times, we help our “neighbors” out when they are in trouble. Compassion can be such a powerful tool to remove barriers and bring understanding to 2 different parties. I can’t help but to think of those Louisiana’s who got flooded out and all the help they provided each other not to mention all the different groups that volunteered time and resources to help.

We are all humans, imperfect beings striving to make our little corner of the world a better place. I hope and desire, and believe that we can one person at a time, one act of service for a stranger, one heart bearing another grief. A good friend on mine recently had a bizarre fire burn down their entire house in less than 30 minutes. Everyone was shocked and they were devastated. I will say that the outpouring of love they received was impressive. So many people from our church, and I am sure that a fair amount of help from the community, provided clothes, a place to live, and many other forms of relief.

We have a great capacity to shape the world around us. We imperfect beings, we can do miracles for each other when we WANT to put forth the effort to make the world a better place.

I know we can!

iron wil