I’m Home

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

Songwriters: Buck Ram, Walter Kent, Kim Gannon
Copyright: Piedmont Music Co., Gannon-kent-music Co.
Sung by:Bing Crosby

Thank goodness there is such a thing as “coming home”. This week our daughter returned from her mission in Sweden that separated us for 1 ½ years. It was a sweet reunion with many of our family coming to the airport to welcome her home. None of us will forget it.

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Whether it is coming home from college, a tour in the military, visiting for Christmas or just a long business trip, coming home feels good. Why does it feel so good? There are some obvious answers like we are once again around people who care about us. We come back to familiar surroundings. We get to sleep in our own bed…but is it deeper than that?

With so many things swirling around us in our lives, demanding our attention, demanding our actions, demanding our time, home is a place of refuge. It is a place where we are in control. It is a place where we are just one moment away from having a good memory come to mind. Our home is the library or museum of our family history. It contains that spirit of our youth. It reminds us of who we are.

Our home may be a tent or it could be a mansion. I lived in Chile for almost two years and knew many people who lived in walls made of cardboard where one light bulb or candles were used to light the way. The bare ground was swept in front of the door to keep it clean and tidy even though it was just dirt. These homes were warm and the people loving. Home truly is where the heart is.

Our homes are like a big battery charger where we can get the strength to go out and work harder at our dreams. We recognize the familiar creaks and groans and smells of the house and they are almost comforting. We know where the waffle maker is and what kind of waffle it will make. It is our stake in the ground that gives us some stability to weather life’s storms. It is our private heaven on earth. It holds the people we love and those that love us.

Coming home is the highlight of our day even if we do not recognize it as such. Just imagine that you have had a wonderful day at work and closed a huge deal but the ability to come home has been taken from you. Home and all that it entails is what allows us to enjoy those successes. There is no place like home. Cherish it and protect it as it does you.

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To Ride the Four Wheeler or to Not Ride the Four Wheeler? (Does the doctor really mean it?)

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With two new complete hip replacements, my activities were limited by my doctor. As many of us do, I decided to push the limits of my recovery with the thought that I could be careful and not overdo it. The group was going on a four wheel drive expedition around our property and I wanted to join them. Of course, I was not aware that not far down the trail, a tree had fallen right across our path.

I tried to be careful as I pushed the throttle to help the four wheeler crawl over the tree. The crawl turned to bouncing and the landing on the other side was not what I expected. I felt the jarring in my hips and began to feel like maybe I was pushing my luck.

I rode with the group a few more minutes over bumpy terrain and then decided that this must not be good for my new hips. I began to get a little nervous and wish that I had stayed at the house. I told the group that I was going to turn around and head home and was happy with that decision.

As I returned, I came face to face with the tree across the road again. I decided to try to get over but this time my luck ran out and I got stuck. I knew that if I were healthy I could wrestle the four wheeler off the tree and get back to the house. Finally, however, common sense and old age prevailed and I crawled off the vehicle and started walking back home.

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It is amazing how good I felt…like I had been given a second chance to not mess up my surgery. The doctor had told me that walking was the best exercise I could do and here I was walking back to camp! I was slow and careful but gradually made my way back home.

As we get older we all push our luck and treat our bodies the way we used to when we were twenty. We sometimes forget that our bodies are different and cannot handle the punishment we used to dish out upon them. We act like we really have a choice…and maybe we do…but the day comes when the choices we used to have are physically removed from us by what our bodies will endure. Sometimes it just hurts too much for our bodies to take the abuse anymore.

That’s when we finally figure out that the doctors meant what they said all those years and we start looking for a second chance. Sometimes we get it and sometimes we don’t. It is the wise person who takes care of their health when they are younger and continues as they move into old age. We do not have the cure for all diseases but it does not take a guru to tell us the basics of good health. We all know.

Maybe the doctors get it right a lot of the time and we should do what we need to do to take better care of ourselves. I hope we all make the transition from youthful carelessness to wise old carefulness while we still have the chance to “get off the four wheeler and walk home.” It is a good feeling when you know that you still have time to make it better.

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Apex Hunter…or Apex Provider (Being the Big Fish in the Pond Comes with Responsibilities)

Originally posted on HighFive Your Life:

“The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams but in active charity and in willing service.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I live on the lake and love sitting on the dock watching the wildlife do their thing. There are fish and birds and insects and otters and snakes and gators and it seems like you are always just a second away from some National Geographic moment. Everybody wants to eat each other! It is a constant battle just to stay alive or just to get a meal.

Throughout the day, the minnows and small fish bunch up close to the shore line as small bass wait just a few feet away to make their attack. Out of the quiet stillness comes a sudden splash as the bass darts among the scattering small fish only to quickly retreat to a few feet away to make another…

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Apex Hunter…or Apex Provider (Being the Big Fish in the Pond Comes with Responsibilities)

“The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams but in active charity and in willing service.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I live on the lake and love sitting on the dock watching the wildlife do their thing. There are fish and birds and insects and otters and snakes and gators and it seems like you are always just a second away from some National Geographic moment. Everybody wants to eat each other! It is a constant battle just to stay alive or just to get a meal.

Throughout the day, the minnows and small fish bunch up close to the shore line as small bass wait just a few feet away to make their attack. Out of the quiet stillness comes a sudden splash as the bass darts among the scattering small fish only to quickly retreat to a few feet away to make another attempt a few moments later. It seems so brutal.IMG_3698

IMG_3695The truth is however that it does not stop there because there are bigger bass waiting just a little deeper in the water that prey on these smaller bass. I have seen a huge bass swallow everything but the tail of a 14 inch bass right in front of me.

But it doesn’t even stop there. Below is a picture of an osprey that nailed a bass right off our dock that was so big it took four attempts to get airborne again! It is not ever wise for the big fish in the pond to get too cocky.IMG_1984 I love competition but we are different from these animals. We don’t look for the weak to prey upon. We try to help those who swim in shallow water get to deeper water. Instead of having our fellow beings for lunch, we seek to make sure those that are hungry actually have something to eat.

In our world, being the big fish in the pond does not make you the apex hunter…it allows you to be the apex provider…it allows you to be the apex comforter…the apex “are you hanging in there okay man…anything I can do?”…all of your own free will and choice. It becomes your opportunity, to make sure those around you are getting a few breaks. You can see it so easily in those around us who use their good fortune to bless the lives of others.

So my hat is off to the big fish that still remembers what it was like to be just a little minnow. It helps “school” the rest of us on how to behave when we make it to deeper water. It makes for a happy and sustainable pond and sure beats being bait!

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How Many Hands Will Go into This Glove?

“A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on”
Carl Sandburg

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Our oldest son Robbie loved baseball growing up. He still loves it. When Robbie and Erica sent me a picture of their baby resting in his glove, it brought many things to mind. First, his wife Erica is the best catch he ever made!..and now their first child Bennett…what a catch he is!

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We generally think of a glove being used to protect the hand that is inside it and, in fact, a baseball glove does indeed do that. But a baseball glove does so much more. It is built to be bigger than the hand to enable it to do more than just the hand alone could do. It is designed to provide more reach and broader coverage. Once it has made its catch it is designed to allow the hand to squeeze it closed to protect and hold what it has caught.

I remember the experience of the birth of our children and how, without any prompting from anywhere but within, the thoughts, prayers and actions of me and my wife began to center around protecting each child. We extended ourselves beyond what we could and would normally do. They are all grown and have left the nest but our thoughts, actions and prayers for their protection have not changed.

It made me ponder how many hands will go into that glove during this child’s lifetime to offer protection, teaching, love and support? The hands of Erica and Robbie will spend the most time in this glove nurturing Bennett. But as the baby grows, Robbie and Erica will depend on other hands to also do their duty inside the glove.

IMG_1263There will be multiple other family members; grandmas and grandpas and great grandmas and great grandpas and uncles and aunts and siblings and cousins. And then add the hands of the teachers and coaches and preachers and friends, nurses and doctors and policemen and firemen and classmates and teammates and soldiers and honest politicians and neighbors and even strangers.

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When I think that God holds the whole world in his hand I do not think he has to use a glove but the image is the same to me.

So many hands will attend to the protection of this and other babies. Shouldn’t we all make a special effort to do our part…to recognize the opportunity for what it is…that it is not about protecting our hands but instead about protecting those around us. Shouldn’t we be ready when the call comes for us to put our hand in that glove?

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What Do Frogs Do in Rome?

“If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you are with.”
Stephen Stills

I was so amazed the other day to see a frog on one of our windows that had changed its color to match our window panes. It was almost an insult that it did not change to a nice clean white color but chose to also reflect all of the dirt and stains on my panes in its new color!

What an amazing feat to have such adaptability. It makes me ponder how we find the right balance between holding on to who we are and what we believe, while also meshing and mixing in with people who do not think like we do but are still pretty neat and amazing people.
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We should never feel the need to change who we are due to surrounding pressures and circumstances. However, the very strength that comes from knowing who you are, should also make you comfortable, “fitting in” and integrating into the people around you.

For example, growing up, I did not drink but most of my friends did. I did not feel a need to change to gain their friendship. I loved my friends and therefore did not try to cramp their style. If they wanted a beer, they had a beer. I just enjoyed my non-alcoholic drink and was the permanent designated driver.

Another example is my faith and affiliation to my church. I am very committed to my faith but I am also very comfortable and enjoy the congregation and services of other faiths when I am in their presence. My faith does not make for awkward moments around people with other beliefs or of no belief at all. I can blend with my friends and support them in their special spiritual moments.

So next time you feel like you are personally being challenged by a situation that makes you feel awkward and defensive, lighten up, hold on to your values and principles and love the people around you. You can always contribute positively to a situation without overwhelming your friends with your principles and your beliefs. Let them show in your actions of love and inclusiveness instead of  insecurities and defensiveness. You can always maintain your good judgment and know when the environment is too much in conflict with your standards and you can politely excuse yourself.

When in Rome you can find a place where you can do some things as the Romans do without compromising the way that you personally do things. Being strong in your principles does not mean you cannot be flexible in the application of those principles. Your adaptability does not mean you give up “territory”. Indeed, you will find that exactly the opposite is true. You will find that your sphere of influence will grow and your love for the people around you will increase.

The ability of the frog to match its surroundings does not make it a window pane. It is still a frog. You will still be you even when you adapt to those around you…maybe even a better you!

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It’s Raining Moss (Four areas of your life where solving symptoms instead of problems can take a real toll)

“We live in a time when the words impossible and unsolvable are not longer part of the scientific community’s vocabulary. Each day we move closer to trials that will not just minimize the symptoms of disease and injury but eliminate them.”

Christopher Reeve

After every storm we know without fail, that we will need to go through our yard and pick up the moss and sticks that blew down. On seven and a half acres, this can end up being quite a bit of moss as you can see in the picture below.

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No matter how clean we make the yard, if there is another storm the next day, we have to start all over. You would think that eventually there would be no moss left. But after one look at the trees in our yard, you realize that we would be nuts to expect any other outcome. Of course more moss is going to fall!

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Common sense would dictate that if I really wanted to not have to pick up moss on the ground after a storm, I would need to somehow get it cleaned out of the trees. That is not an easy process but it can be done. Even though it is expensive and time-consuming, I think that everyone would agree that it is the required strategy, if I want to be rid of the moss in my yard once and for all. That is the only way I can solve the problem instead of just treating the symptom.

Are you a problem solver or a symptom solver…or a little of both? Below are four areas of your life where solving symptoms instead of problems can take a real toll.

 Are you in a relationship that continues to hurt all the time?

Almost all of us have had our heart-broken a time or two. If not for that there would be no money in writing songs. Love for someone else and being loved in return is the natural place most of us seek to be. Once you find your true love, you can begin to build a life together. Because people are different, it is also natural to have disagreements along the way. That is normal. However, it is not normal, nor should it be tolerated, to constantly feel hurt and pain in your relationship. In a healthy relationship, your companion shows their love for you constantly despite your daily disagreements. You know you are loved and the amount of pain you feel pales in comparison to the love you feel.

You may try to change yourself to make your partner “like you more”. Most of these “changes” are just treating symptoms and not addressing the deeper problems. If you are not feeling the love you are most likely not treating the problem. Love in a relationship is based on trust and forgiveness. It is based on respect and awe. It is based on caring and concern. It is based on the ability for you to love yourself and be proud of the contribution that you are making to the relationship and to society. You should not feel constant pain and misery. Stop flailing trying to solve symptoms and consider getting some professional help for the both of you. Life is too short to not feel the support and love from your partner despite the everyday differences that will occur.

Are you in a job or line of work that does not bring you joy?

Most of your adult life will be spent going to work. Sometimes you hear your friends say they love their work and others say they can’t wait to move on. How do you feel about what you do? If you are content then congratulations is due. If you are not but instead find yourself complaining and griping often, what are you doing about it?

Many will fight around the edges of the problem. Their solutions may include asking for a raise. Others may find security in the job and, though unhappy, they are too afraid to give up what they have. Others may complain to other employees or their bosses to try to affect changes in their workplace. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve your present working conditions. However, are you in the line of work that gives you joy?

Should you consider going back to school or learning a new language? Should you start networking more or stand before an intimidating creditor seeking funds to start a new business? Should you believe in yourself more when no one else gives a hoot. Since you will most likely spend a massive amount of your time left on earth in your profession, shouldn’t you take this problem solving seriously instead of dancing around with the symptoms?

Are you overweight or otherwise living an unhealthy lifestyle?

Maybe it does not seem fair to go here as it makes most of us uncomfortable to discuss our little love handles. However, many of us spend our adult lives going from one diet to another or starting a new exercise plan…all in an effort to feel and look our best. We have plans for this and programs for that. We have pills and supplements and books and lifts and procedures and tints and spas and….need I go on?

Living a healthy lifestyle requires few if any programs if we are a problem solver. It doesn’t even require discipline. It requires and active lifestyle where food is a bothersome stop in your journey instead of a destination you plug in to your body’s GPS system with a scheduled stop every four hours. Your body needs energy to accomplish what you want to do so your mind forces you to replenish your nutrients in order for you to continue moving mountains. Food becomes a silent partner instead of a pleading lover.

I know this zone exists because I have seen people who live there. How do you get to this place? I am not sure but one component I know is that to get there, you need to get busy with your life..get active…replace the love of food with the love of what you are accomplishing. I do not know the rest of the way but I hope to one day.

 Are you living beyond your means?

When you balance your checkbook are you happy with what you see? One key indicator of a symptom solver is that they live beyond their means. For some reason, they can’t see what everyone else sees…that you can’t afford to make “that” purchase. Their main enabler is their credit card and they solve the symptoms by making the minimum payments required each month.

Eventually this style of living is unsustainable and will lead to other problems. It affects relationships and health. It forces a person to go to their employer to ask for a raise, not because they deserve it, but because they have no other way to get out of debt.

A problem solver would see the overall situation and know not to put unnecessary strain on the family. The problem solver would have already moved on and not wasted another minute considering the purchase because the future is not hard to predict when you live beyond your means.

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Are there any constant negatives that seem to keep happening around you? Are there things that keep occurring that seem to always bring you down and cause you heartache and grief? If there are, you may find that you are a symptom solver instead of a problem solver.

Take a look around you and see if there is any moss in the trees above you. If there is, can you remove it? You may have to make some tough choices that really get to the heart of the problems around you…some moss laden limbs may have to be cut off…some hard to reach moss patches may have to be sprayed by a professional. Solving a problem requires more thoughts and courage than solving a symptom. It may require more time and money. It may require more faith, guts and discipline.

Ultimately however, when you solve a problem it is gone. Your life has less baggage and issues. Your will find that your joy will be more full and that your sense of accomplishment more complete. Don’t get mad at the moss that needs to be picked up every day. Figure it out. Go to the source. Solve the problem.

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