Category Archives: life

One Year Ago

Molly Pops LoveJust a year ago today my life changed forever when Molly Nicole Ogren entered and made me a grandpa.  Now all my relations are referred to by their relationship to Molly; Jeanie is “Gran”, Danae is “Molly’s Mom” etc.

I knew I was going to love being a grandpa, but I didn’t know why.  It’s hard to explain, but kinda like this…

  • First I grew up.  I wasn’t really aware of what was going on because it was the first time I’d ever grown up.
  • Next, I had kids of my own and I got to grow up again.  While I observed the things they were going through, I remembered similar experiences I had.  I wasn’t really trying to live my life through them, but it sorta happened that way when their stuff reminded me of my stuff.
  • Now as the grandpa, I get to do it again.  Only this time I am not primarily responsible for this one.  When I am with her I can just love up on her and study her.  I love watching  her learn.

The interesting thing is that I change each time I go through this process.  I think it is interesting how as parents we tended to worry about how our actions would affect our children.  What we missed in the process is how they were changing us.  I’m not the same person I was when any of my children were a year old.  Molly is already working her magic on me.  Giving me a whole new outlook on life.

Last time I was with her was Thanksgiving weekend.  Over and over, I went through the routine of placing my hand on my chest and saying, “Pops”.  Then I put my hand on her chest and said, “Molly”.  After a few times, she put her hand on my chest and a couple of times she actually said, “Pops!”  Danae said that she had to mop me up off the floor when I melted.

Here are some recent photos for fans:

2009-11-30 Thanksgiving

Crucial Skills

Crucial SkillsThere is so much data on the internet and so little valuable information.  Of the email lists that I subscribe to on purpose (not spam), this is the only one that I absolutely positively read every week when it arrives in my inbox.  The Crucial Skills newsletter is provided by the folks who also published three excellent books; Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations and Influencer.

One of my coworkers was telling me just this week how much the tools in Crucial Conversations helped her to deal with a difficult colleague.  She said that for the first time, she felt confident and empowered in speaking with this person.  You could see in her face how much it built her up.  After she told me the story, she said, “That’s my long way of saying, Thank you, for sharing that with me.”

Because I want to be a positive influence in my world, that comment really pumped me up.  Crucial Conversations in particular has helped me tremendously as well.  When the stakes are high and the emotions are hot, it is so hard to think clearly.  The tools in this book are vital to having the best relationships possible.  I am having conversations today that I only dreamed of in the past.  I know how corny that sounds, but it is true.  Check out the newsletter and subscribe, if you like it.

Fifty one Years Ago

Fifty one years ago today a beautiful, young and very pregnant woman gave birth to a baby boy.  She and her husband (the boy’s father) loved the boy and cared for him like good parents do.  They gave him food and shelter and love.  They made sure that he was brought up in a Christian home.  Every Sunday they took him to church.  In fact, the boy cannot ever remember just sleeping in on a Sunday.

He grew up big and strong and one day he left and started a life of his own.  Eventually, the boy had children of his own and in the process of caring for his own children, he began to understand some of the difficulties that come with being a parent.  Now that his children are all on their own, the boy has a depth of thankfulness that he could never have experienced  as a youngster.  There’s just no way to explain those kinds of things to a little guy.  He doesn’t have the years of experience.  He only has what experience he has lived.  As much as the parents want him to learn from their experience, there are so very many limitations on that kind of understanding.  The boy learns best from his own experience… the hard way!

Now, the boy is a grandparent and more thankful than ever!  As he looks back from his 51 year old perspective, he wants to say, thank you to his parents.  Thanks for giving him life.  Thanks for taking care of him, loving him and doing your best to shape him into the person God made him to be.  He knows that he has let you down many times.  He remembers hurting you.  He wishes he could redo so many things from the past.  Alas, he understands better than ever how this show only has one performance with no rehearsals.

Despite all his regrets, the boy is happy.  He is glad to be alive and glad to be who he is.  Sure, there are many things he would like to change, but when he is honest, he realizes that there is no one else in the entire world that he would rather be.  I think that’s pretty cool.

We see, They see–Part 2

Whoops!

I am not sure how it happened, but I published my last post with comments turned off.  I have changed that and they are back on now.

A Quick Case Study

This mistake on my part might make an interesting case study of my last post.  My guess is that some of you saw the “Comments are Closed” notice and determined (based on my behavior of closing comments) that I was not interested in what you had to say.  If you did, you were incorrect.  Despite my behavior of turning off comments, my intentions were to hear from my readers and my desire is to make that as easy as possible.  One of the joys of blogging is receiving feedback.  I like hearing how my words affect you.

The prior post was about the “We see/They see” quote repeated here:

We judge ourselves by our intentions.
Others judge us by our behaviors.
We cannot see our own behaviors.
Others cannot see our intentions.

My intention was to share my thoughts and hear yours.  You saw my “closed comments” behavior.  I was blind to my own behavior until someone pointed it out to me.  Likewise, you could not have seen my intentions until I explained myself.

Communication is Key

I was also stirred by an email from a dear friend who’s expressed desire to begin to look for intentions more in the coming year.  I appreciate that thought and it leads me to ask how one looks for intentions.  I think it is important to note that the first and most important element in communicating behavior and intentions is communication itself.  The problem is not that we don’t try to see our own behavior, we really cannot see it the way others do.  It is not that we don’t try to understand the intentions of others.  We actually cannot know them.  The only way we can possibly know what our own behavior looks like to those around us is to hear it from them, and we can only know their intentions when they communicate them to us.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about being nice.  I’m talking about communicating on a whole new level, something that does not come naturally and will take risk and effort.  It mostly is not modeled for us and it feels weird when we do it (but it is worth it).

Here are two unhealthy ways I could handle a situation with you: Let’s say that you do something that irritates me.  I could determine that you meant to hurt me and react based on that assumption.  I lash out at you verbally and we argue.  In that case, I didn’t understand your intention and you didn’t understand my volatile reaction.  Now let’s roll back the tape and replay it again.  You do something that irritates me.  I give you the benefit of the doubt by assuming that you didn’t mean to hurt me.  I conclude that your actions were unintentionally harmful.  I graciously choose not to respond to what you actually did.  While the first way may lead to unnecessary conflict, the second way can lead to being taken advantage of by the person who had ill intentions, but is never held accountable for his or her actions.

No matter whether one makes a positive or a negative assumption about the intentions of the other, the operative word is “assumption”.  Assumptions are not truth.  I hope I am not taking this verse too far out of context, but it reminds me of the words of Jesus in John 8:32, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The only way we can learn the true intentions of others is to communicate.

We see, They see

lady-justice.gifA few weeks ago, I heard the following thought and it rang true to me. I wrote it down in order to ponder it.  The more I think about it, the more important it seems to me.

We judge ourselves by our intentions.
Others judge us by our behaviors.
We cannot see our own behaviors.
Others cannot see our intentions.

To complicate matters even more, the “we” and the “others” changes constantly. At the same time that I am being judged by someone by my behavior, I am judging them by their behavior.

This miscommunication is the source of much fighting, loss of friendships and even wars.  Sometimes I wonder how we humans manage to get along as well as we do.  Mostly I wonder how we can do better.

1978 to 2008 makes 30 Years!

jim-and-jeanie.jpgI wish so much that I could travel in time back to 1978 and have a talk with a certain young man. There is so much I would tell him about life. I would warn him about some really lousy decisions that he was going to make and encourage him that some of them would actually be good decisions. I would tell him that his thoughts and dreams are important. Mostly I would assure him that his decision to ask that the pretty young lady to be his bride was a super good decision. Yes, today is the 30th anniversary of Jeanie’s and my marriage.

I still remember the surreal feeling of standing at the front of the church while she walked down the aisle. I was thinking to myself, “So this is what it feels like to get married.” That says a lot about me. Most guys, when they are making one of the biggest choices in their life, would be getting cold feet and second guessing themselves. “Is she the one? Did I make the right decision?” Not me. I was thinking about the meaning of life… what this experience feels like. I have been like that ever since… (how she could stand to live with me these last 30 years is a mystery to me)… but I’m sure thankful that she has.

June 3rd 1978 started a new chapter in the book of our lives. It has not always been blue skies and rainbows. We have had our share of tragedies and sorrows, but somehow we seemed to get more than our share of joys and celebrations. Now, 30 years later, we have four beautiful and successful daughters, two handsome sons-in-law and our first grandchild on the way? I feel overwhelmed with grattitude to God for giving me such a wonderful life. George Bailey has nothing on me.

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMPR4k2LpL4]

Fifty is Nifty

It is now 12:08 AM on the 19th, so I can say with confidence that my 50th birthday was a great day. Thanks to all of you who made it so special… I am a blessed man!  Check out this video my friends made for me…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUBZ_02fytg]

Fire and the Unknown

A good friend who lives in Charleston wrote to me on email this morning. He was telling me about his plans for the day and yet admitting how little he knew about how it might turn out. He said, “I don’t know “diddly squat” about what’s going to happen today and I’m OK with that.” He sent the email at 8:18 AM. Unbeknownst to him, a fire was raging just a few miles away that would take the lives of nine fire fighters. According to a spokesman from the U.S. Fire Administration, it was “the worst loss of life for firefighters since 9/11 .” We really don’t know “diddly squat” do we?

My heart goes out to the families, friends and colleagues of those nine men. Nothing I can say makes any sense. They gave their lives to protect others. I don’t fully understand that… Many people do that for me every day… I don’t understand it at all. Low pay. Hazardous conditions. I don’t have to understand to be grateful. I am full of gratitude. I am full of sorrow.

This is yet another reminder of the brevity of life. I don’t know how much time I have left, and I don’t know “diddly squat” about what will happen to me and around me. What I do know is that I want every moment to count.

Hope in a Broken World

I haven’t written about the VA Tech shooting this week. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been heavy on my heart and mind. The thought that comes to my mind over and over is that this world we live in is broken. It isn’t supposed to be this way. People aren’t supposed to treat one another badly. We aren’t supposed to make fun of one another. We are sure as hell not supposed to kill one another. We are supposed to honor and love one another. But we do… The world is broken.

Thank God for little reminders that life goes on. Click below to read more and see the pictures of the little gift God has left us…

In the artificial wreath on our front door is a very real nest.

dcp_0681-medium.JPG

A Carolina wren has decided that her babies deserve to be born at the Anderson’s home.

dcp_0678-medium.JPG

Is this totally cool or what?

dcp_0682-medium.JPG

Somehow, the thought that life goes on encourages me. Mama wren is only concerned for her nest and her babies. She doesn’t give any thought to world events. Sounds nice to me.