Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Christmas Memories   Leave a comment

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Sorry that it has been a while since I posted on here.  With the holiday last week, life became busy and hectic.  I think that I am back in control of everything and will get back to more normal regularity in posting.

This morning I was thinking a lot about the memories which I have from my past Christmas times.  Over the years I have acquired some great memories.  So I thought I would share a list of them with you today.

  • Every year when I was growing up, my sister would purchase an Advent calendar for me which had a piece of chocolate hidden behind each day’s door.  I used to eagerly anticipate that calendar, the chocolate treat each day and the countdown to Christmas.
  • We used to string popcorn and cranberries to use as garland on our real Christmas tree.  I cannot count the number of times that I poked myself with the needle.  Or the number of times that Mom would have to re-thread the string through the needle.
  • We always had a lot of candles throughout the house during the Christmas season.  I would often light the candles, turn on the Christmas lights, and listen to Christmas records.
  • Attending Christmas Eve services and walking out of the church at midnight to find a light snow falling.
  • My Dad’s relatives gathering at our house on Christmas Eve.  One Christmas Eve when I was young the adults had all of us go to my room and stay there.  Soon there was a knock on the front door and when we were allowed to come out of my room we were surprised by Santa standing there.  I still have never figured out who was behind that beard.
  • Waking up on Christmas morning and knowing that I could open anything I found in my stocking but the rest of the presents had to wait until everyone was awake and sitting in the living room.
  • Decorating my college dorm room and having enough lights that we never turned on the overhead light until after Christmas break.
  • Listening to Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas album in my dorm room with friends.

These are just a few special memories that have come to mind this morning.  What memories do you have?


Holding On to Hope   Leave a comment

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There are times in life when the challenges can appear overwhelming.  The list of concerns becomes longer.  The uncertainty seems to be more than those things which are certain.  During these times, a person can easily become bogged down and weary.  Each day becomes a struggle.  Focus and determination can appear elusive. It is during such times that reminding one’s self that there is hope becomes vital.  Having individual(s) who will support and restore hope is critical.

I consider myself extremely fortunate.  I have a strong faith in my Lord.  I have people in my life who provide me more support and hope than many.  I must wonder what it would be like if I did not have these two elements in my life.  Each day I read in the newspaper or see on television situations that are truly devastating.  When I am made of aware of these situations, I quickly wonder how the people impacted by them are able to move forward.  Do they have a faith in a Lord who is far greater than any situation on earth?  Do they have a strong support system of friends and family?  I confess that I truly cannot see how anyone can go through difficulties without those two elements.

So I want to remind all of you, hold on to the hope that you have.  Each day is a new beginning with new possibilities.  Make sure that you invite people into your life that can restore your hope when events tear it down.  Have some type of faith which will help you to remember that there is someone greater than anything in this world.  Hold on to hope!

Reason to Celebrate   Leave a comment

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Nineteen years ago this morning, I was in a hospital welcoming my second son into this world.  Saying that it was a pretty eventful day is putting it mildly.  He had decided to come much earlier than he was supposed to, in fact almost two months earlier, and he was very tiny.  The medical staff had done a great job of holding him off for about a week but he was determined to arrive anyway.  There was a medical issue which prompted his early arrival.

I remember the previous night and the early morning very well.  My son’s arrival began late on the previous night.  Throughout the night things would progress and then seem to slow down.  Early in the morning however, the decision to move things along was made and we were prepared to go into a birthing room.  I donned some hospital scrubs, boots, and cap while we made the transition.  Then in a few short minutes after arriving in the room, my son was born.  I was able to see him briefly before he was taken to be prepped for a necessary surgery.

Well, here we are some nineteen years later.  After two months in the hospital, an emergency trip back to the hospital, and multiple surgeries, he survived it all.  For the last nineteen years, he has grown, had more surgeries for different reasons, had a broken bone, and done all the normal things a young man does as he grows up.  He currently is in his first year at college and learning both inside and out of the classroom more than I could ever have imagined.

I celebrate this day because while the beginning was scary and very tumultuous, the young man who I call my son continues to make me proud.  While he was young I had a nickname for him, my M & M, my Miracle Michael.  I have been blessed with two tremendous sons who I praise God for every day.  So I celebrate his birthday filled with so many reasons to celebrate!

Posted November 5, 2015 by thoughtfulbeliever in Belief, Experiences, Family, Life

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Returning To The Past   Leave a comment

Today I did something which I have not done for a very long time…. I baked banana bread.  Now I realize that this is not some profound activity.  My making of banana bread will not alter the events in the world or even be remembered by anyone.  However, it has had an impact on me for two reasons.  The first reason is that I pulled out my hometown cookbook to find the recipe which took me down memory lane as I recalled the people whose name appeared with the different recipes.  The second reason is that I baked for the first time in a long time which is something I used to love to do with my mother and shortly after college.  I had stopped baking and cooking because life became hectic and there was someone else in my home who did these activities.

The reason that I share this with you today is due to the memories and the sense of joy that returning to this past activity has brought to me.  Sometimes in life we become distracted by the new activities and new demands on our lives.  This can lead to us abandoning some activities which brought us joy in the past.  I think that when this occurs, we lose out on a piece of our life that can bring meaning to our lives.  Thinking of this actually brings some sadness into my heart.  However, when we resume such an activity, we can regain the joy.  The memories bring happiness to our hearts.  The connections are recalled.  We can relive some of our previous life.

I encourage you today to take some time to think about some of the things which you used to do but are not doing any more.  Why did you discontinue the activity?  Can you resume the activity even for a short time?  How might you return to your past and bring the joy into your present?

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Posted October 6, 2015 by thoughtfulbeliever in Activity, Experiences, Family, Life

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Leaving An Imprint   Leave a comment

Austrian-flagThis week I had to say good-bye to someone who will forever leave a mark on my heart.  If any of you have had the great honor of being a host parent for a foreign exchange student, you will totally understand what I mean.  I would even dare to bet that anyone who has been a foster parent can relate to all the feelings as well.  These young people come into your lives and into your homes for a period of time.  They bring all of their excitement and fears with them.  They bring their habits and challenges with them.  They truly become part of your family.  Then the day arrives when you have to send them back to their original home.  For me, the only part of being a host parent which is the worst is the day that I have to say good-bye to the young person who has lived with me (and maybe the days of adjustment which follow).

As I thought about all the feelings which I am experiencing after taking my adopted son to begin his journey back home last night, I realized that he has left his imprint on my life.  Just as my other adopted son from a year ago has left his imprint, this son has done the same.  I am changed because they have been in my life.  Sure, I have come to know much more about the countries of Austria and Switzerland than I had in the past, but it was much more than that.  I have had the privilege of experiencing the love and sharing my love with these young men.  I have come to worry about them and look after them.  I have had the chance to teach them just as they taught me.  I am a better person because I have had them in my life.

It is truly a joy when people come into your life and touch you.  No matter what the distance may be between you or the time between seeing each other, you carry a piece of them around with you forever more.  I look forward to the day when I will be reunited with each of them.  I look forward to having ongoing conversations with them (yeah for Skype and social media).  I look forward to watching them continue their lives even if it may be from afar.

Thank you for imprinting yourselves on my life Arnold and Simon! Swiss flag

In the Center   Leave a comment

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I was looking today at a display that I have on my office door.  It actually is a combination of a few different gifts which I have received over the years.  One piece is a wreath celebrating my favorite college sports team.  In the middle of the wreath are a few hanging items which were gifts.  While I looked at my door, it made me think about what was in the middle of the wreath.  These thoughts led me to a question…. “What is the center of your life?”

As I pondered this question, I began to think of responses which I might make.  I came to realize that my responses reflected what I found to be important in my life at this time.  I think that this says a lot about what we place in the center of our lives.  For me it involved relationships, my faith, and my hopes.  Others might include career, home, family, activities, financial security, or some possession.  I find that what I choose to place in the center of my life are those things to which I devote my time, energy, and resources.  I would venture to guess that this is true for others as well.

So that leads me to ask you the same question….. What is in the center of your life?

Your Blue Jay   Leave a comment

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This morning I was watching for a brief period of time an encounter between a blue jay and a squirrel in the tree outside my office.  I have learned that blue jays are quite an aggressive bird.  They seem to be the bullies in the bird world.  So while they have beautiful color on the outside, they do not have the same kind of beauty on the inside.  As I watched this encounter between the squirrel and the blue jay, I heard both of them making quite a lot of noise.  It was clear that they were not easily going to coexist in the tree.  Both of them seemed ready to take the other on and movement closer together occurred in intervals.  Eventually, the blue jay must have decided that taking on the squirrel in a physical way was not the wisest move so the bird flew out of the tree and to the ground below.  The squirrel moved down the branches so that it could continue to posture and yell at the blue jay.  This round was clearly won by the squirrel.

After watching this encounter, it made me ponder what I mentioned earlier – blue jays are the bullies of the bird world.  I thought about the bullies who I have encountered in my life.  I am pretty sure that all of us have had bullies in our lives.  These are the people who tend to make a lot of noise and can say and do some pretty damaging things to other people.  Some of them our outwardly aggressive.  Others use passive aggressive techniques.  Whatever their mode of operation, the goal of intimidation to achieve their desires is always the driving force behind their words and actions.

How do you handle the bullies in your life?  I have come to find that as difficult as it may be at times, the best approach is to call them out.  When I identify their bullying behaviors, I can then confront them.  There is nothing easy about dealing with bullies.  However, if bullies are left alone and allowed to continue their behaviors, they will leave a wake of disaster in their path.  Lives can be damaged or destroyed in the process.

We hear a lot about bullying going on in schools.  I would argue that this type of behavior extends far into adulthood.  You can find bullies in work places, organizations, churches, and community settings.  It is time that we all work to confront and put an end to these behaviors.  It is time that we deal with the bullies, just as the squirrel dealt with the blue jay I saw this morning.

So who is your blue jay?  What are you doing about it?