Thursday, November 27, 2014

At this time of year it is our custom and privilege as free Americans to come together and give thanks for the many things God has blessed us with.

The older I get the quicker the years flash by. It seems like only yesterday that we were enrolling my son in his first school here in Arizona and my daughter into preschool. Now West is a 25 year old young man and Gracie is a Senior in high school. They bless us every day and "WOW" is the only suitable word for the life we have been blessed to enjoy.

Today we gave thanks before a special meal, as we should at every meal. However, I am often challenged to remember to give thanks before the football game for sight and hearing, and thanks before opening the book for intellect and understanding, and thanks before walking, running, going for groceries, and embracing a loved one.

Things so easily overlooked each day like the ability to hear someone say “I Love You” then to respond “I Love You” - to listen to my children gives thanks and say grace – to feel the hand of my loved ones as we all gather together - to taste the wonderful meals we enjoy not just on Thanksgiving but every day - all incredible miracles in their own right.

The blessing to be an American and be free to work and worship as we choose should be remembered. 

We are all blessed and should never take it for granted.

This world seems at times to be working overtime to steal our joy for living and our ability to see the wonder and blessing all around us. For me counting my blessings with a thankful heart seems to bring it all back into the proper perspective.

For us the blessings we count at this time of year always include the people we have come to know, “You” - our friends and those we have been blessed to work with. We are so grateful that we have been blessed to know you and it is our sincere hope that the coming holiday season will bring each of you joy, happiness, laughter and every good thing that God has for you and your family.

We have been here in Arizona for 14 years now, this is home and I cannot imagine life anywhere else. The southwest has been a wonderful place to live and raise our family.

Take care and have a blessed and joy-filled Thanksgiving holiday!!

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." - 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV

Monday, November 24, 2014

“Getting to Thanksgiving – Step 1”

“What have I got to be thankful for?” A question that so many seem to be asking themselves these days and depending on the place they are asking from it can be a tough question to answer . . . if we choose to look at only what we do not have. Discontent is an illness that if not brought into check daily can render terminal pain and destroy our relationships with others and with ourselves.

Over the last few years I have made a study of people (myself included) with the goal of figuring out what makes people unhappy, difficult to deal with and generally discontent with their lives. What I have found is really pretty simple to pin-point and even simpler to remedy and yet so many others choose to continue on the very same path that has brought them to this point of unhappiness and self doubt. It is no less than fascinating to listen to someone bemoan their current situation and yet have absolutely no plan or desire to do anything to make it better.

When looking back over my life and cataloging the defeats, disappointments, death and disaster that I have experienced there is one thing that stands out in all of it. When I dwelt on the event and the things I could not control (namely the other people involved) I rarely, if ever, got any type of outcome I desired. It generally just went bad for me and interestingly it seemed to get worse. My grandmother used to say that, “Bad news comes in three’s” and that was the case for me it seemed. What I did not realize is that if you believe and expect that then it is generally true but that is not the way it has to be.

Over the last 15 years I made a major shift in my thinking and my reactions to what seemed to be “Bad news” and it has truly changed my life and my relationships. The simple change was three-fold -
  1. I began to ask this double-edged question after every single event that did not turn out as I would have liked – “What could I have done differently to possibly avoid this and what is there to be learned from this event?” This shifted the responsibility for my actions and my attitude to the proper person . . . ME! It may not have been my fault or my doing but how I choose to react is solely on me.
  2.  I continually remind myself that what is “done is done” and the only productive direction is forward – looking back and reliving pain, failure and disappointment only steals from me the present moment. Times with loved ones, a beautiful sunset, the opportunity to tell someone you love them and so many others all could be missed if our mind is set on a harsh word, injustice or slight committed against us last week, last year or worst of all 20 years ago. I realized the insanity and personal stupidity of this because I cannot turn back the clock and fix it. The great Zig Ziglar said it best. “You are at the top when you realize and clearly understand that failure (however it manifests) is an event, NOT a person; that yesterday really did end last night, and today is YOUR brand new day.” Events do no not shape my life, my responses do . . . Period.
  3. I did something that to many of you will sound so crazy but yet for me it now seems crazy not to do it. When someone or something happens to me that in most people’s lives would create frustration I have turned that around completely. If I am cut off in traffic or someone says something to me that is rude, insensitive or just plain dumb and when I am faced with a person so negative and mired in events over which they have no control yet they have allowed it to take over their psyche, these folks used to frustrate me because I wanted to “change” them in some way. Well that Is no longer how I “react” now I simply observe, listen, if asked I will offer advice but for the most part I simply smile and in the back of my mind say to myself . . . “Fascinating, I wonder what would cause them to act, think or feel that way."

You see what I have come to realize is that I cannot control what others do, think or feel no matter how wrong and/or personally destructive their behavior may be. Once I made this a big part of how I saw the actions of others my frustration level dropped to almost zero and my fascination with all aspects of life multiplied exponentially. (Side note – Does it work all the time? In a word, NO! However it does way more than it does not . . . and I like those odds.)

The Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweigh them and will last forever.” This has been so true for me and has led me to have a greater respect for the trials I have been through in my life. They have made me instead of breaking me.

I know what some of you are thinking, “Bart, you just do not understand because what has happened to me did not happen to you.” You are right to a degree in that what you have specifically experienced I have not, that is fair. However, what is true is that we all (every single one of us) have experienced loss, death, disappointment and violence in our lives. We all share that common bond of tragedy and for each of us it is personal, potentially breaking and devastating. But we all have had it and have made our individual choices as to how we would allow it to affect us. It is only different for you because it happened to you.

Andy Andrews, author of "The Seven Decisions", said, “We are where we are because of our best thinking.” If you are not where you want to be you must consider the possibility that what you have been doing is wrong and if our best ideas and thoughts come only from ourselves then a deep, honest self analysis is critical. If you are not in a place you want to be then it may be time to begin to look outwardly towards others who are where you would like to be.

Nobody sets out in life to be a failure at anything and yet it happens to us all. This is when the influence of friends, colleagues and mentors is so valuable, Your view is skewed and the weeds in our personal lives may be causing us to miss the wonders that lie just in front of us. This can be uncomfortable and revealing but it is only through outside influence that we can be truly changed on the inside.

Having an attitude that closes down others because of a false impression that no one else could possibly understand your situation is just a complicated way of saying, “I really do not want to improve my situation, as a matter of a fact I am kinda comfortable in my self-inflicted misery and by the way you are not really important enough for me to care about anyway.” Realization that your perception or behavior may be incorrect and even wrong is the first step to finding the answers. Some (for whatever reason) just do not want to change.

Yeah, it’s a harsh analysis but there comes a time when we are forced to make one of two choices. We either move forward in our life and appreciate the moments we have to be happy, love life and seize every moment as if it may be our last OR we live a life rooted in the past, missing the people who want to love us, giving life to things long dead and trying to save those who will not save themselves.

Whatever their decision I know that “fascination” awaits one group and we will just have to remained fascinated by the rest.

God bless you all and be on the lookout for the next installment – “Getting to Thanksgiving – Step 2”.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday thought - God bless you all and make it a great weekend -

 "You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure." - Maya Angelou

 "Are you daily choosing life and joy or strengthening bitterness and discontent?? It is up to you . . . DO NOT MISS a moment of this precious gift dwelling on wrongs long gone and things or people you cannot change. Live, Love, Laugh - It's a good formula" - BC

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is then not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

"The same could be said for failure. What is your habit?" BC

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Everybody’s got a past. The past does not equal the future unless you live there." - Tony Robbins

Friday, May 11, 2012

"The object of life and being optimistic is to be just crazy enough to expect the best is yet to come." BC

Make it a great weekend!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

“Gratitude opens the abundance of life. Transforming what is into more than enough. Refusal becomes acceptance, chaos becomes harmony, turbulence leads to clarity. Gratitude helps to unlock our past, brings us peace today, and forms our vision for the future.” - BC

"In all things give thanks." - 1 Thes 5:18