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

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

Mission Statements

I was thinking about what to write about next and I thought, “oh maybe I haven’t written about mission statements”.  After making a quick search of my posts, I realized that I had not posted about them. Mission Statements are basically the goal or vision for your life. Stephen Covey called this Habit 2, “Begin with the End in Mind“.  Many years ago, I wrote and rewrote my personal mission statement until I felt it stated what I wanted to be … it is:

“My mission is to become like Jesus Christ by an increased study of the Standard Works and by applying the principles therein, and by regular Temple attendance.

It is also to create and maintain a beautiful and meaningful relationship with my Wife and Children and to build this relationship with my Parents, Brothers, Sisters, and Extended Family. I will do this by understanding them and by teaching them about our Saviour, Jesus Christ and His gospel.

I will also increase in secular Knowledge by the Study of Languages, Great Literature, Music, Science, Nature, and History; by attending college and taking additional classes and lectures.”

While the first 2 paragraphs are my spiritual and personal life, the last deals with my world or secular knowledge growth. Something that you see is that my first priority are my relationship with my God. Second, is my family relationships. Third, is knowledge and skills.

While I don’t have statements like: “I will be loved by my family and community” or that “I will be honored by my lodge (men’s group) for all my service hours”.  I felt that if I lived a good life and a life that provided value to others, it would be enough of a ‘legacy’ that I would be proud of any accomplishments that come out of my life. Personally, I believe that whatever accomplishments come from a good life are a reflection of my Lord and God.

Now, you may not be a christian … however, from what I have learned about other faiths, many of them have a belief in doing good and sharing it with the world. for example, karma is a Buddhist and Hinduism which basically states that for every action there is a reciprocating future benefit or punishment. Even though this is not a direct christian principle, I have seen it in practice, and I believe that it a true principle.

If you want help with a mission statement, FranklinCovey has a tool. I haven’t used it, I had the book.

iron wil

Paper and Pen

I have good friends that live halfway across the US and we connect via Facebook, eMail, and chat; but it isn’t the same as sitting down with them and spending time.

So, I stopped by an Office Max and picked out some nice paper, made time to sit down, and pen a letter.  It was a bit of an odd experience because I have not done this in a long time.  It was a refreshing and enjoyable experience.  I hope that my friend and I can make a habit of this and really enjoy this quickly fading past-time.

In fact, I have been thinking of writing more friends a letter and really letting the tactile connection of the physical note help to fortify those relationships.

iron wil