Category Archives: hope

Hurt People Hurt People

Hurt people hurt people.  People hurt others because they themselves are hurt.  The people who they hurt, hurt others.  It is an endless cycle… unless it is not.  What can stop the cycle?

flockPeople like you and I point fingers at one another saying, “You hurt me!”  The truth is, I did hurt you, whether I meant to or not.  You hurt me, whether you meant to or not.  I am hurt.  You are hurt.  I cannot see your hurt because of my own hurt.  You can’t see mine because of yours.  We are each stuck in our own pain, pointing fingers of blame.  Again, the endless cycle.  What can stop the cycle.

The only choice other than feeling the pain and looking for blame seems to be to just sweep it all under the rug.  Just pretend as if nothing happened.  But it did.  The hurt is real.  The pain is intense.  To ignore it is to direct the rage inward.  Inward where it will eat us alive.  What else can we do?  Am I supposed to just “forgive and forget”?  I can’t forget.  It hurts too bad.   The two choices to a) live in the pain and feel the hurt or b) bury the pain and pretend it is not there both feed the cycle.  But it is all most of us have ever seen… ever!  There must be another way.

Enter Grace stage left…

No, I’m not getting religious.  As much as I have heard grace talked about at church, rarely if ever have I seen it practiced.  I’m not talking about some cosmic thing that you can’t quite put your brain around.  I mean the kind of demonstrated grace we can experience in this life.  It understands we are both in pain and that much of that pain is born from misunderstanding.  The grace I am talking about allows me to listen to you without defense when you are accusing me.  (Ever experienced that?)  In this kind of grace I recognize that I am a pain giver as well as a pain receiver. (Ouch!)   This grace creates a space where you and I can listen to one another for understanding, not to fix the problem and not even to agree!  The kind of grace space I mean is one where you and I can feel both listened to and understood.  Where we are not so concerned with who got the most points or who won.

The world is full of hurt people.  Some of them were hurt by me.  Some by you. I know some of the wounds I have inflicted, but not all of them.  I want to live in a place of grace where I can confess my faults and feel understood.  If there is to be any hope of having a space like that, someone has to start.  Someone must break the cycle.  In that spirit, I want to be one who helps create those kinds of spaces for others.  It has to start somewhere.  Why not here?  Why not now?  It is not an easier way to live, but it is a better way to live.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

A good friend said to me yesterday, “I hope at the end of 2009, you will say that this was one of the best years of your life.'” What a terrific thought! It reminds me that, although I cannot control everything that happens to me, I potentially have more input into how my life plays out than anyone else.

My prayer for 2009 is that I grow into the person that I was meant to be and that I be an influence for positive change as grow in loving God and loving others as myself. For you, I hope that each of you look back in a year and say to yourself, “What an awesome year 2009 was… I think it was the best one yet!”

2008 Collage (click to enlarge)

Collage and News

In 2000, I started a tradition of creating a collage of photos from the year and a newsletter then posting them on the internet. It was my special way of getting out of sending Christmas Cards. Now it has become a “must do”. Click these links to view the 2008 collage and 2008 news. To see past years, click the Family News menu above.

I hope to write some reflections on 2008 in the coming days even though it’s all out of order that way. I can write them later, but Happy New Year has to be done today and it is almost gone!

Last Lecture

“What would you do if you knew you only had 6 months to live?” This is one of the classic questions we ask ourselves to help find what is truly most important to us is. The cover story in this morning’s Parade Magazine in our newpaper caught my eye like none other in recent memory. normally, I read the headline, look at the photos and keep going on my quest to find Ask Marilyn. However, this morning, I read every word. The story, My Last Lecture, told about a talk given by Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, last September after he learned that he had terminal cancer. Reading it merely whet my appetite for more so I spent the next 75 minutes or so watching the lecture (below) on youtube. It’s hard to get me to sit still for a 3 minute video, so watching for over an hour is saying something! I invite you to watch it when you have time. It’s only a little longer than a TV show and a lot more valuable than most. Randy is scheduled to be on a show called Primetime: Last Lecture this Wednesday night, which I also plan to watch.

I was moved by what Randy considered most important for him to communicate to his children and incidentally to me. Helping others and receiving help; how reaching our dreams is important and helping others reach their dreams is even more important. One real kicker to me was what Randy said about allowing others to be an influence in our lives. He said we need to have “feedback loops” in our lives to tell us where we need to improve. As uncomfortable as it is, I want to welcome tough feedback! When someone takes the effort and risk to tell me their view of what I can do to make myself better, it means that they believe I am worth it. Conversely, if I am executing poorly and yet no one is telling me about it, it means they have given up on me. As my friend Curtis said recently, “If feedback is the breakfast of champions, I want to be fed like a champion!” There’s another great story in the lecture about how to give constructive feedback well, but I’ll let Randy tell his own story. Now get comfortable, sit back and enjoy…

[youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo]

MLK

mlk.png Thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day…

  • I was ten years old when Martin was assasinated. I do not remember ever having heard of him, which was not unusual given the fact that we didn’t talk about world events in my home. It wasn’t that world events were taboo, my parents just didn’t discuss it. I feel sad that he met such a tragic end.
  • Being a white guy from the south, I grew up immersed in a paradigm that thought of people like King as trouble-makers. He was a trouble maker. Sometimes we need trouble-makers to stir us out of our complacency or worse, our bigotry. It disturbs me that we need to be shaken up because we ought to be able to examine ourselves and make the changes that result from that examination. Alas, people aren’t very good at self-examination. I am thankful for the courage of Martin and others who risked everything to make things better.
  • Our garbage pickup is delayed one day this week because of the holiday. Jeanie already heard one person make a smart-assed comment about how “they” have to have this day off, don’t they? Will we ever get past having an us and a them? I feel angry and sad that a whole group of people is marginalized because of the color of their skin.
  • This morning, I was reading a newspaper article on King’s legacy and I was thinking about my African-American friend, Chris. (Chris is not my token black friend. He is my friend because we relate to one another well. We used to work on the same team at Wachovia. We no longer get to work side by side because of corporate reorganization decisions. I picked up the phone and called Chris.  I told him how I had been thinking about how much of an impact King’s dream and work had on our ability to be friends at all. If it were 40 or 50 years earlier, there is no way we would be working side by side in an office. I celebrate our friendship today!

There you have it. Joy, because I am living Martin’s dream and sadness because it is so far from a complete reality. Hope that we will be able to one day truly judge one another by our character and not by our skin color or any of the other differences that divide us. Call me crazy, but I believe that is what Jesus wants.  I believe that only when we truly embrace Him and follow His teaching can we have any hope of true reconciliation. Only when we learn to embrace one another, only when we see the “fingerprint of God” in everone can we experience Martin’s dream. Only when we learn to disagree well can we celebrate our differences as we together celebrate the One who made us all so different! We have so far to go, but I see movement. Movement in my life and the lives of some of my friends.

God help us to embrace You, embrace Your ways, see the world the way You see it. Help us to see Your fingerprint in every person and love them the way You do… the way Jesus showed us.

Reflecting and Thinking Ahead

streamer-3.gif Looking at my post on January 1, 2007 , I expressed hope that during 2007 I would be come more of myself and more Christlike at the same time. I believe I have experienced some of that transformation. Now that I understand it better, I want to continue to live it on purpose. Jesus said that the most important thing is for me to love God and love my neighbor as myself. With God’s help, I plan to do that.

I went for a walk today and stopped on a little footbridge over a stream. The water was running hard from the recent rains and there were rocks in the stream that the water had to get through on it’s journey. The stream was bubbling and churning and the sound caused me to stop for a moment. The moment became two moments and three as I thought about all the great things that happened this year. I had some really fun times, but the great things that happened weren’t all pleasant… in fact the very best ones were downright unpleasant. These were best because, as my uncle recently reminded me, those unpleasant conflicts are where the real growth happens.

Thinking forward to this year, I was thinking about the futility of planning. I don’t have control of my life. There are so many things that happen to me that I have no choice over. My choice comes in how I respond or react to the things that happen. But reacting and responding is not planning. I know that I can plan. I can set goals that are worthy and yet unattainable. That seems futile… (read don’t want to go there). I can set goals that I know I can do because I will do them anyway. That is cheating for no reason. So with all that in mind what I want to do is set a few SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. These characteristics are pretty much self explanatory, but the last one is worth a comment. Timely, to me, means that the goals are not just for the sake of getting things done, but they are to help keep me headed in the direction I want to go. With that in mind, here are a few “cheaters”. They are already on the calendar, or very close to it.

  • streamer-1.gifHelp out at the Brian McLaren event at Area 15 (I gotta blog about Area 15 sometime)
  • Trip to Montreal with LaClef in February
  • Personal Coaching Training in February
  • Pass my 10 year anniversary with Wachovia
  • Turn 50
  • Celebrate 30 wonderful years with my sweetie.

And here are a few wishes that I want to turn into SMART goals. They aren’t completely there yet, but they express my desire for the next year.

  • Move my spiritual journey from one of “learning about” to intentionally expressing God’s love in a tangible way to people who are in need. (hurting (everyone), poor, hungry, homeless…)
  • Invest the time that Wachovia allows for community service work around Area15. (They actually allow me to invest an hour a week-on the clock-in community service work. Isn’t that cool?)
  • Become more involved with Area 15. (Outside of the community service time. Just hang out there and see where I fit in)
  • Blog about my spiritual journey. (Kinda like my Work Experience Series)

streamer-2.gif These are wishes and not goals because they don’t have a deadline (beyond saying that I want to do them within the next year. Anyway, it is a start and that’s all I’ve got right now.

A wish, a hope and a prayer.  I wish I could spend quality time with each of you every day to know you better and to love and encourage you the way God does. I hope your new year takes each of you further in the direction that you want to go, and I pray that each of you feels the Love of God in your life in a special way today and the next day and the one after that…

Father’s Day

andersons-1970.jpgIt is Father’s Day in the US. I am blessed doubly today because I am a father and I have a father. I can celebrate in two ways. It is great to be able to bless my father. Dad, I will call you later today, but I want you to know that I wish you the very best of Father’s Day. I pray that you receive the things that you want from life today including peace and prosperity.

reading-charlottes-web-1986.jpgIt is great to be the father of four lovely ladies of whom I am very proud. Each of them is following their hearts’ desires in their own ways. That makes my heart sing. My desire, as a father, is to partner with my daughters to get what they want in life. God has given me gifts, strengths and talents and I can think of few things that I would rather use those gifts, strengths and talents for than to help my girls to succeed in life. That does not mean that I have no desires of my own. It means that one of my great desires is to be an active part in their lives.

I have seen fathers who want to run their kid’s lives. My idea of being a good father when they were infants and toddlers was to be in control and run their lives. But that is not my current vision. A graphical representation of healthy parenthood to me is expressed in the figure below:

ctrl-v-time-graph.gif

We have no control over the horizontal axis. As the saying goes, time marches on. Our choices lie in the vertical axis. The choices of whether or not to give up control.

I saw that my job as a father was to prepare my kids for adulthood. When they were little bitty and could not take care of themselves, Jeanie and I did it for them. As they grew, we let them do more things for themselves. That is a gradual process of training, encouraging, being there for them as they fail, encouraging, helping, prodding, creating boundaries, saying no, saying yes (when our feelings tell us no). It isn’t the training that is so difficult. It is giving up control.

Now I see that “loosing control” is really a process of learning that I never really had it anyway. When they were babies, Jeanie and I could decide when bath time was, but we never got to decide when they should get pneumonia, or runny nose or fall and bump their heads. We sure never got to choose the timing of dirty diapers or cuts that required stitches. If I had had any input, none of these things would have happened on my watch!

How quickly we moved from these kinds of issues to homework, friends and dating issues. And of course we cannot forget driving. No one has truly lived until you are riding shotgun with your kid behind the wheel for the first or second time… or for that matter the 50th time. They should create a father’s upgrade package for cars. It would include a passenger’s seat rollbar and either an extra brake pedal and steering wheel or at least a reinforced floorboard to keep our feet from punching through when we push the imaginary brake.

Control? Ha!

I started thinking about the control-over-time graph when the girls were very little. But I didn’t put a lot of thought into what happens after adulthood. Moving into this stage seemed to happen overnight. I find myself moving from the giver of permission whether you want it or not into the role of an adviser if you will allow me. Instead of telling them what to do, I find myself helping them think for themselves by asking questions and telling them the kinds of things that I think are important to consider. It isn’t about my being the “all knowing dad”. The truth is that I do know some things they don’t. After all, if I haven’t learned a few things about life along the way that they don’t know yet, something would be very wrong. Experience does matter. I want to share my experience and knowledge with them to help them, not to control their lives.

What is next? I look forward to being the grandpa and I have a desire for my partnership with my girls and their families to grow both ways. As I said before, I am not all knowing. I have a lot to learn and my girls can be my teachers. As partners in life, we can encourage and build into one another’s lives to make the best of what we have. We only get a few years on this earth. I want to suck the marrow out of life while I am here and leave nothing undone that could have been done.

Disappointing Run

This year will be my third year running the 10K Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, SC. I started running when I was about 45 years old, which is not an easy feat to do. I really wanted to run the bridge. My buddy, Curt ran it every year and inspired me to run it too. The first year, my goal was to “just get over it”. My finish time that year was 1:17. Last year, I ran it with my friend, John in 1:07 and wrote about it here. This year, my goal is to run it in 60 minutes.

Continue reading Disappointing Run

Hope

Happy New Year to friends and family. Please take a moment to read our 2006 annual family newsletter click here. I haven’t yet finished the collage, but I did start it. I’ll post a message when I am done. All done. It’s on the menu to your left, or you can click here.The new year is off to a bang in my life. Already I feel emotionally and spiritually stirred. The one emotion that I choose to focus on is hope. I am hopeful that by the end of 2007 I will have become more of myself and more Christlike. Does that sound contradictory? When I say that, I mean that Christ is in me and yet I carry so much baggage that is not part of what He wants for me. As I allow Jesus to reveal himself to me, he transforms me into more of who he made me to be. At the same time, He works in me to drop off the baggage in my life. I believe the end product is Christ in me, my hope of glory. It is not about me. it is about CHRIST IN me. I imagine a day when I can confidently be myself using the talents, strengths and gifts that God built into me, not in a narcissistic way, but where Christ lives in me.
I pray for physical, emotional and spiritual breakthroughs in the coming year to make me more like Jesus. That is like praying for pain and discomfort because God speaks to me when I am uncomfortable (Please see my post on The Jar). I want to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Not because I am a masochist, but because I know that it is through discomfort that change, real change happens… and I want to change more than anything.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

I wish for you a blessed 2007.

About Jo

I have exciting news, but first a little bit of context: Two years ago I traveled to France, with a group called La Clef. We went to play music and share Jesus with the people in the region around Carcassonne (the walled city). Staying in the youth hostel, we met up with an odd fellow who was a 35 year old drifter. We nicknamed him, Jo. There is so much I could say about him, but suffice it to say that he was militantly opposed to Christ. He told us stories about how he and his ancestors had been repressed for centuries by the Christians and he wanted nothing to do with it… except… he followed us around like a puppy. Out of the six concerts we played, he was at five of them!

All was not pleasant with Jo and some of the team questioned why he was hanging around so much. They were wondering if he was a distraction or if he truly was seeking God. (extremely good questions to ask). I will always remember our leader, Greg’s statement in response. He said, “If God cannot reach Jo, then we are all in trouble.” By that he meant that none of us is good enough to come to Christ on our own. It is only because of God’s love and sacrifice that any of us have a chance.

Fast forward to today. One of the young men on our trip who’s heart beats strongly for the French people recently left for France. He now lives among them so he can tell them about Jesus. I just got the following email from him…

Just to let you know, last night I got a call from Jo in Carcassonne…incredible what Jesus is doing in him, Jim. He in so many words is at the point of begging me to tell him about Jesus…his memory of us there 2 years ago was etched on his heart, and the Lord is drawing him. In his words, he wants what I/we have…he’s ripe for the picking…and about to give his whole life to Jesus it sounds. I was flabbergasted. He will likely come to Marseille soon to visit. So pray for him, that’s for sure.

What an awesome example of the power of Jesus. I pray that God will reach Jo and change him… just as he reached me and is changing me.

A Day with God

One of the things I have learned about me is that I need time alone regularly. Another that is closely related is that I need time alone with God for an extended period. Occasionally, I have taken a day off from work just to go hiking and commune with my Creator. Every time I have done it, I knew that I need to do that more often. A couple of weeks ago, I was reviewing my goals for 2006. One of them was to get away with God four times during the year. It occurred to me that the best way to make that happen was to get it on the calendar. So I requested four days vacation from work spaced about 3 months apart. The first of those four days was today.

First thing this morning, Jeanie and I made the effort to start fulfilling another goal for this year. That goal was to get our financial house in better order. So, we met with a financial advisor.

I hate dealing with money. I hate budgeting. I hate paying bills. I don’t even keep track of pay days. To prove it, when I was sharing this with Tim (the counselor), I told him that I don’t even know when I get paid. Jeanie said, “You got paid today.” It is certainly not because I am rich. I have just figured out that if I work at my job, they will pay me and Jeanie will make sure the bills get paid. Then I don’t have to think about it. As much as I love to do everything for myself, money tasks are not high on my list of things to do.

Even though I hate dealing with money (myself), I recognize that we need an objective person (who likes dealing with money) to let us know how we are doing. He will use sophisticated tools (that I don’t care to learn about) to project how we will do in the future if we keep doing what we are doing. He will make suggestions based on our goals to help us get where we want to be. Sounds like a great idea to me.

…Back to my day. After taking Jeanie home, I headed to the Ribbon Walk for the afternoon. If you live near Charlotte, NC and you haven’t gone to the Ribbon Walk, you should check it out. It is a small forest with trails and lakes right in the town of Derita. They have a special place called the Treasure Tree Grove, where several huge 150-200 years old beech trees grow. What a lovely place. I sat on the benches there for a long time; journaling and praying and reading and journaling and praying some more. God met me there and it was sweet.

I took my journal out there and the first thing I wrote was an “agenda”. I have a very short memory and I tend to go off on tangents with my thoughts. I used this list to help keep me on track. One huge prayer was heavy on my heart, but there were a lot of other pressing issues. Each time I thought of something, I added it to the list. One by one, I went through each item on the list in prayer.

I believe that God is real and that a relationship to Him is much more than a religious ritual. After walking with him for most of my life, I forget that others might not understand that. When I pray, I am spending time with the Creator of the Universe! That is unbelievably awesome! How could I be so presumptuous that He would have time for me? And yet, somehow He does. He hears my cries and today He even reminded me of some things I had left off of my list! Go figure.

I feel refreshed and renewed. I feel like He heard me and that He cares enough to answer my prayers. Not because I am anyone special. Anything special about me is from Him. It is only because He chooses to let me talk to Him and be real with Him.

I take my hard questions to Him. Did I get all the answers? No, but I got some of them. Will I do it again? I can hardly wait for May 30th!