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

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

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

A Bite of History

My oldest loves history, so when our church announced the new temple open house in Philadelphia. We say it as an opportunity to see the new temple and take in some US history. My wife and I then planned a 2 day trip to Philly. We started to look forward to the experience and our boys started to get excited and talk about it. We made our plans and booked a hotel.

The temple was a wonderful experience and both our boys found it very interesting. We enjoyed seeing the liberty bell and Independence Hall; we took the big bus tour the around the city several times and really enjoyed the history of the city we got to see! It was a beautiful opportunity to reaffirm our boys belief and love of our country. They asked questions and my oldest was even able to tell us some things he has learned from school and from his reading.

The time we spent in Philly was not sufficient to really get into all the fun and the many different activities available to us. So a return trip is planned and I have a feeling it will include many more of the historical sites and events!

It is important that we connect with our nations history! The study of our founders and the events leading up to the Revolution and the Constitution really show how blessed we are to have the nation we have today! No other nation has done or come close to what was born here on this continent 240 years ago! I would invite each and every one of us to study American History by reading and watching the material published … from both sides. We also need to approach this with an open mind and then spend the time learning the truth. Yes, I am even saying that I need to have an open mind.

iron wil