Thursday, April 21, 2016

Who Did You Help Today?

My mother was a firm believer in confessing your sins.

Every other Saturday we'd stand in a long line with other sinners and wait to "go to confession."

My brother and I didn't have to hard of a time coming up with sins. We were at each others throats on a regular basis and when we weren't fighting we were imagining all sorts of sinful acts of mayhem to be committed upon each other.

One I hit puberty it got much easier - Lustful thought and all.

This may sound self serving and arrogant but I don't consider myself a huge sinner. Faults and bad habits, yes I have, but sins?

I've been lost and confused but never broken. I've always felt God is right here and right now.

With that comes a responsibility of sorts.

Each night when my head hits the pillow I ask my self two accountibility questions:

Who did you help today? 

Who helped you today?

It's a quick review of where I used my gifts and talents to help someone along the way. Nothing award winning, just making sure I honor God by using the gifts he gave me in the best possible way.

The second question is always a bit harder to answer. It assumes I LET someone assist me. It assumes I don't know EVERYTHING.

That can be difficult

i end my reverie with a prayer of thanks for all I have and all I've been given.

It's more uplifting than standing in line twice each month and contemplating what I've done wrong.

Monday, April 11, 2016

My Mothers Greatest Gift

She's is in a wheel chair all day. Numerous bladder infections have caused her to live with a permanent catheter. She doesn't see or hear very well and she is living with Alzheimer's disease. 

When we visit she can engage for five minutes and then you can see that she and her mind have traveled somewhere that only she comprehends.

She was the most creative person I have ever known. Pick a form of artistic expression and she excelled at it. 

She never finished high school. Her father died when she was 11. Most of her adult life she lived with a panic and anxiety disorder that was often debilitating for her. 

My sisters and I talk about how we hope when the time comes for her to die that is is quick. That she doesn't suffer or linger. That she falls asleep one night and wakes up in the arms of an angel. 

We talk about why a loving God allows her to suffer - Day after day simply staring off into space. 

I mean, good Lord, the woman is in her mid-80's. What else does she possibly need to learn? 

It was yesterday afternoon that the answer appeared for me.

Joan and I were watching TV and she looked over at me.

What are you thinking.

I smiled. 

Just thinking. 

You just looked like you were deep in thought. 

I was. 

It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. 

It's not my mother that needs to learn. It's me.

What if I woke up today and didn't remember who I was, where I was or what happened 15 minutes ago? 

The lesson isn't for my mother. It's for me. 

The lesson is to savor each moment of lucidity, each experience, good, bad, positive, negative, joyous or painful and hold it so tight its screams to be released. 

It is noticing each shift in the wind and weather and not anticipating but living and learning that right now.............. that right now is the best now there is. 

It is loving and not holding grudges.

In one of his movies Jack Nicholson opened the door to a doctors office, stared at the waiting room full of people and said What if this is as good as it gets?

In many ways it is. In many ways today may be the last moment we remember and if  so I REALLY don't want it to be about everything that is wrong with me and the universe. 

My mothers greatest gift is to be present and to simply enjoy the gifts we've been given. To look at everything around you and to appreciate it. 

It may be gone in the blink of an eye

Monday, April 4, 2016

Our Opportunites

I've been asked to speak to a conference of electrical contractors next month.

Can you talk about the value of education? 

Usually I inspire, motivate, and cause people to rise to their feet. They applaud, hug each other and carry me around the room on their shoulders.

Then I wake up.


A lot of folks tell me it's dried up and blown away.


A lot of folks tell me that unless its coupled with a minimum of twenty dollars an hour it's not worth the effort..

True story time.

I had a professor in an economics class who worked  for a Fortune 10 company. He told us that some years earlier the company purchased a new computer program.This was during the 1960's when computers took up entire rooms. No one wanted to fool with it.

He decided to learn the program. He took the manuals home at night and studied.

One day the CEO shows up and wants to know how this new fangled thig-a-ma-jig is working.

All the suits start rubbing their necks and playing with their tie knots.  One brave soul said that while no one in the room had the answer he knew someone who did.

Well go get him!!!

He went on to say that he eventually was put in charge of the fledgling IT department and received a sizable promotion. It became a stepping stone for the remainder of his career.

During our intial class he said something I will always remember:

If you want a good grade, take good notes. If you want to learn something buy the text book and read it!


I was on a team that created an apprenticeship program for electricians, pipe fitters and machinists in the early 1990's. If you're familiar with apprenticeships you know they are an equal amount of classroom and On-the-Job-Training. Many of the people asked to take part in the program begged off.

To much work.

The ones who endured, who took advantage of the opportunity became journeymen in their craft. All of them told me it was worth the investment and OBTW - Thanks for the opportunity. 

In 2006 an 18 year old young man asked his father to drive him from Kansas to southern Indiana. He'd heard of a fledgling railroad that was starting up and he wanted to be part of the operation.

No guarantee's just opportunity.

Today he is the most senior member of the railroads transportation department and a locomotive engineer. I was part of a team that hired him. His supervisor says  he is  always thankful for the opportunity.

It comes in all shapes and sizes and presents itself in many amazing ways.

I believe I have my speech ready

Thank you.