Monthly Archives: May 2012

Memorial Day – To Honor, Respect and Remember

Memorial Day is a day set aside to commemorate the ultimate sacrifice made by our soldiers and their families who kept our country free and safe, home and abroad. I served in the US Army. Soldiers today and in the past sacrifice much to protect our way of life, some gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Although this holiday is to commemorate those who gave their lives, I ask you to remember those who have served in all capacities. They spend time away from their families. They serve here and far away. They can live in the harshest conditions with threats to their lives at every moment. Then there are those hurry up and wait times. Some soldiers have seen things that people were never meant to see. If they don’t come back home, their sacrifice is to be respected and their families comforted and supported. If they do come back, their sacrifice is to be respected and they need our support. Sometimes soldiers have a tough time integrating back into their homes. They might suffer nightmares. They might be just fine.

The poem below reminds us what a soldier fights for and what we should be thankful for. I have sometimes gotten into debates about fighting and war. I know that pacifists want peace always, and I do too. But without a strong force to protect our way of life, then someone will take it from us.

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag.
– Father Dennis Edward O’Brian, USMC (Also attributed to Charles Province)

Advertisements

A Question of Prosperity

I have quipped in the past that I am the richest man in the world – now all I need is money. Most people measure prosperity as monetary wealth or possessions. Money can be important for survival  and to live the life you want. I am not sure it is the end all. A person’s self-worth and attitude go a long way in determining their contentment. People say they want to be rich (with money) and yet many of the rich seem to be troubled with many of the same things as the not so rich. They can face loneliness, doubt, health problems and other adversities that money cannot cure. Money can buy you a companion, but not a real friend. Money can buy you the best of health care and the newest medical technology but cannot stave off the ravages of cancer and death.

Prosperity can desensitize us to the difficulties of others. Many of the poor in our country still get enough to eat, have a TV in their home, and have access to medical care, while 40% of the world’s population seems to subsist on less than $2 per day.  Paul Sweeney (Author of Ireland’s Economic Success: Reasons and Lessons) made this observation, “How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young?” We want everything now. Sometimes we aren’t willing to wait or work for what we want. But even still, we are extremely fortunate to live in a country so richly blessed with abundance.

Sometimes we covet the riches of others. We do not always realize what people went through to get where they are today. Many of our greatest people started out with empty pockets and difficult situations. Yes, some of them seem to have been handed the “golden ticket” but most worked hard for what they have. They have built companies, written books, used their talents to create wonderful careers. We should all work to propel our talents to their fullest potential.

Mother Teresa was quoted as saying, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”  This is why I stress the importance of reminding ourselves of the blessings that surround us. Think about those who love you. Think about all that you have instead of what you do not have. Measure your prosperity not only by the balance of your checking account but by the love and blessings in your life.

I am a follower of Christ, a father, a brother, a son, a husband, a lover, a friend, a hard worker, a passionate learner, a pet owner, a writer, a mentor, a student, etc., etc. I have my faults, my scars, my mistakes and have learned much from each. I have much to be thankful for and I am sure you do too. So, are you rich with what really matters? I hope so.

Share

The Languages of Love

Tonight at the dinner table, after we had enjoyed our meal, we each took The 5 Love Languages ® Quiz. The quiz was developed by Dr. Gary Chapman after decades of experience as a marriage counselor. I had taken the quiz about 3 years ago. My scored changed just a little. I think that this quiz should be taken every 2 or 3 years because our needs can differ from one period to the next as we move through the changes in life. You can find quizzes geared for couples, singles and even children.

  • Words of Affirmation – This includes words of recognition, affection and appreciation. Insults can be very damaging and hurtful.
  • Quality Time – Giving your full, undivided attention counts for a lot, making your loved one feel special and loved. Failure to listen can be hurtful.
  • Receiving Gifts – A thoughtful gift can show that you are cared for and loved. A thoughtless gift can hurtful.
  • Acts of Service – Things done for you to ease your burden can be seen as an act of love and deeply appreciated. Making more work for you can be exasperating.
  • Physical Touch – Hugs, kisses, holding hands, a hand on the shoulder are all elements of physical touch. This language is not restricted to bedroom partners. Non-sexual touch is greatly appreciated by someone who speaks this language as well. Neglect can be destructive.

When you take the quiz, you learn your primary and secondary languages. Even though we can be shown love from all the languages, there are some more important to us than others.

These languages can be mixed for a one-two punch. A person who needs both Words of Affirmation and Receiving Gifts can feel wonderful when they receive a gift that memorializes an achievement. A hand on the shoulder or a hug coupled with a recognition of achievement can accomplish both Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch.

My primary language is Physical Touch and my secondary is Quality Time. It is good to recognize and reflect on your own results. For instance, some of my fondest memories is when I was very young, I would curl up on my mother’s lap while she would caress my scalp and back. I really felt loved. I felt safe. Now, I know that I feel most complete when I am in close physical connection with the one I love.

It is great to know the results of the ones you love. Ask them to take the test. It will help you to understand what is most meaningful to your loved one. You might buy them lots of little gifts but what they want most is your time. Dr. Chapman found, for whatever reason, that we are often drawn to those who speak a different language than our own.

I think that it is important to realize that we change. So what a person might appreciate the most now, might not be the most important act later. A person may have self-esteem issues, so they need to hear words of affirmation. After a period of time, a few successes and accomplishments, their need for words of affirmation diminish. They now may appreciate acts of service more than compliments.

Visit the 5 Love Languages site at www.5lovelanguages.com

For a fuller explanation and a wonderful resource, buy or borrow a copy of Dr. Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, The Secret to Love that Lasts

I encourage you and your loved ones to take the quiz by clicking the link below to go directly to the assessments page
Love Languages Personal Profiles

Share your results with your loved ones and encourage them to share their results with you. That will help you to understand how to best respond to their needs and let them know what makes you feel the most loved. This is a win-win for everyone. Happy loving.

Share

I Am a Gift

Eleanor Powell once said, “What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.” I believe we are gifts to each other. Every day I thank God for the wonderful gifts of my sons, Theresa, and all those I have loved in my life. Even though some of those people have moved on, such as my children’s mother, the love for her still remains. The love – their gift – of my parents, now departed, will live on in my heart of hearts.

Sometimes, we just have to change the way we think to inspire ourselves to move forward or do the things that we need to do. I am no stranger to failure when it comes to self-control. I do try. I really do. I am reminded by Oscar Wilde’s quote, “I can resist anything but temptation.” I am trying to lose weight, just like millions of other people. I am tempted by all the delicious snacks that world.

Because the people that are important to me in my life are gifts to me, I would hope that I am a gift to them. As I would not want to give them something that I am not proud of, I want to improve my health for them as well as myself. Because I am a gift, it creates both a selfish and unselfish motivation for me to take care of myself. Better health might prolong my life,giving me more days to enjoy the company of others. Better health means that I might be around to bring joy to my loved ones for a longer period of time. My goal is to lose weight and exercise. A goal that is as much for them as it is for me.

Now that I have a better understanding of the impact of my goal, I hope that it will inspire me to be more disciplined. Since the expectation has increased, I suppose the that failure would feel that much more intense. If I do fail, then I will just try again. If you stumble and fall, as we all do, I hope that you find the courage to stand up, brush yourself off and try again.

No matter how old or young you are, time is short. My first 50 years have passed and I am amazed at how quickly it went. Even if I live another 50 years, it still seems short. I want to take advantage of this gift called life. I want to live it to the best of my ability. I want to share it with as many as care to walk the path with me. Each day that I am given is a gift from God, so that I can be a gift in return.

I am a gift. You are a gift. You have a much greater impact than you imagine. Even though you are not perfect, and neither am I, I am glad you are in the world. Let us be gifts to God, to those we love and to one another.

Share

Always Wanting

I had heard this poem read on the radio. I searched for it on the internet and found it. I was very surprised that it was written by a 14 year old and published by Dear Abby in 1989. It seems to be wisdom much beyond that of a 14 year old. He must have been a keen observer of those around him. The poem is called Present Tense by Jason Lehman.

It was spring, but it was summer I wanted,
The warm days, and the great outdoors.
It was summer, but it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.
It was fall, but it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, but it was spring I wanted,
The warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom and respect.
I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted,
The youth and the free spirit.
I was retired, but it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over, and I never got what I wanted.

   When we fail to appreciate what we have and focus only on what we don’t have or what we want, we miss out on the love and blessings that we already have. Ambition is not bad, we need the ambition to improve our circumstances but not at the cost of losing sight of where we are and what we have now. It is good to want to improve ourselves. It is good to want to improve our situation, but not at the expense of relationships that deserve our attention. To work so hard for a career that we neglect our family, we miss out on times that can never be recovered.

There are things we should always want. We should always want to be closer to the ones who love us. We should always want to be closer to God. We should always want to grow ourselves and seek our potential. We should always want to be thankful for what we have. We want to be loved, respected, cherished, and appreciated, and we need to give those very things to others. Before we can get what we want next, we must appreciate where we are now. Being in the now is what gives us the direction we need, the steps that we need to take.   When you plan any journey, you must not only know the destination, but you must know the starting point.

By nature, we are never satisfied with what we have. We quickly become bored or restless and look for the next thrill or the next challenge to conquer. Contentment is a learned skill. If you don’t appreciate where you are, you might end up like our subject in the poem, never getting what they wanted and never realizing what they had when they had it. Like the old saying goes, you never know what you have until it is gone.

Even when we are faced with challenges, and we all are, we must not forget that blessings we have and the strength that we have, especially when multiplied with the strength of God and others. You were never meant to do it all alone. Connect with the ones you love. Connect with life. Remind yourself of what is ultimately important. Riches are nice, fame is fleeting, but it is the relationships we build that are important. And most importantly, connect with yourself. And, as always, I want the best for you.