Is what you’re about to say kind, caring and compassionate? Yeah, me too…I’m not quite sure I always use this barometer. Marcus Aurelius had it right when he said, “Is this necessary?”. When we’re wronged, we immediately want to lash out, get our pound of flesh and make things right. The Bible speaks of holding the tongue throughout scripture, and rightly so. Our words can have lasting effects and once out of the mouth, they can’t be pulled back in. Simply put, it robs us of our joy. Next time you’re tempted to exact your measure of verbal vengeance, ask yourself first…”Is what I’m about to say REALLY necessary?”.
I took these photos a few years ago during warmer weather. It’s just a reminder of the cycle of the seasons and what they each bring. Each season has its own purpose and everyone has their favorite. Mine happens to be the Fall…all the colors, the lack of oppressive humidity and the morning chill in the air. Anyway, here are a few reminders of things to come…enjoy!
Over the past fifteen years, I have physically moved to new places no less than ten times. I moved to and from several locations in south Jersey, then New Jersey to Colorado and back, then again to and from several other locales in south Jersey. The reasons why are too involved to explain here, but needless to say I moved a lot and have become somewhat of a pro at it. Moving had gotten to the point where I made the joke that I would rather have a root canal procedure sans novocaine than move again. Moving is just awful, and those of you who have done it know exactly what I am talking about. In making all these moves however, I found out that I had become somewhat of a pack rat. Not the serious hoarding type, it was just that I had a lot of stuff I realized no longer held any real value or meaning in my life. So, I began purging and became very adept at ridding myself of things that no longer served any purpose. Some things were more difficult to get rid of than others, but when I came across something I wasn’t sure about throwing away, I asked myself when it was last used? Would I use it again? Or, did it have any real value or purpose for me? So, I ultimately threw out a lot of stuff, gave some away, donated things and had several yards sales that believe it or not yielded several thousand dollars. I sold bikes, exercise equipment, kayaks, lawn equipment, a car and various other odds and ends. Craigslist and I were on a first name basis. Each time I moved, I purged. It was beautifully, wonderfully cathartic and I began to love this mass personal cleansing.
During this period of purifying (I guess it kind of felt like a purification), I began to like being a bit of a minimalist. I let go of things that had no real meaning or purpose for me and it felt great. Other than basic furniture and such, my total worldly possessions now easily fit into a small room and I’m about to go through them again to purge some more!
So, what does this have to do with the title of this blog piece? It is as simple as an old metal roller skate key. For those of you too young to remember, a roller skate key was used to tighten the grips on the metal skates that would attach or “grip” the bottom of your shoes. Dependent on the type of shoes you were wearing, they sometimes held really well and sometimes they didn’t. If the skate grips weren’t tight enough or they just couldn’t hold onto your shoes, you would very often end up either on your face or on your butt…with one or both skates dangling from your ankles by the attached straps. The skates sometimes just wouldn’t “hold on” to your shoes.
Now to the crux…God sometimes gets my attention using correlations. It is very often how He communicates with me, as He knows I’ll ultimately understand exactly what He is trying to say or teach me when He brings something to my mind. This time it was the skate key. It popped into my mind a few days ago as I was looking out the window from my desk at work and I had no idea why I thought of it. But after a few moments of contemplation, I knew God was trying to get my attention. Then, a few minutes later came the Words to my spirit, “you need to let go of some other things that you’re holding onto”. I knew what He meant and as He knows I like to purge, this was His way of getting me to understand and keep the purging going. There were some unhealthy attachments I needed to remove from my life.
As humans, we love to hold onto things. Whether they are physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, I believe we hold very close those things (whatever they may be) mostly for a sense of security. And, sometimes we don’t even know why we hold on, it just “feels” right or has some intrinsic, unknown value. Unfortunately, we very often hold onto things that are detrimental or harmful without even knowing it. Ever pick up a hot frying pan, then immediately drop it and quickly recoil in pain? Of course you have, and that recoil happens very quickly. But, sometimes we hold onto things that are doing unseen and unfelt damage for extended periods of time and these are the attachments that are very often the most dangerous. I have a few things on my list of things to get rid of and I’ve been going through them meticulously as they are revealed to me. Some are more difficult than others, but with His help, I will succeed.
I have grabbed the skate key, turned it, and loosened my grip on several things so far and am looking forward letting go of more.
So, what are some of the unhealthy things the skate key in your life can help you get rid of? If you’re not sure, just ask…He will tell you.
This was actually a quote from Seneca…
- Accept every life’s situation as a learning opportunity
- Forgive others
- Forgive yourself
- Be forever grateful
Do not be concerned with yesterday for it is gone and tomorrow has not yet come. On this Thanksgiving day, live in the moment and be happy, content and grateful.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone…!
Folks are trying to hold it together, but the fear is visibly palpable. It’s March 2020 and we’re at the beginning of the COVID19 (coronavirus) pandemic and life as we know it, at least for the present time, is rapidly changing. And, things are going to be different. Mandatory school and non life-essential business closings, bare supermarket shelves and people walking around in hospital masks are now the norm. “Social Distancing”, the physical act of keeping about 6’ of distance between each other to prevent the transmission of the virus, is an everyday practice. For the most part, the majority of us are just trying to lead normal lives, but the overwhelming sense of “what’s next” is on everyone’s mind. People are afraid for their jobs, their kids, their loved ones, their money, their future and just about everything else that on a normal day may have been a passing thought and dealt with on a topical level. Not now though. It’s become a pervasive worry and the uncertainty of it all is causing stress on a monumental scale. Fear is the new norm.
For believers, it’s no different. We feel the fear, the trepidation, the uncertainty and we worry about the same things everyone else does. The difference is we know that in a world “out of control”, there is one constant…one thing that is “in” control. The one entity that will not “leave us or forsake us”. One unchanging being that knows how we feel, loves us in spite of it and provides the comfort only a Father can provide. God is that entity.
I recently read an Instagram posting where a woman wrote that the only thing we should be doing about the coronavirus is panicking. Her elderly mother was going through chemotherapy and with her compromised immune system and the coronavirus at our doorstep, she believed that panicking would be the only thing we could do that would get the attention of “those in charge” to do something to flatten out the rising curve of the epidemic. I felt so very sorry for her. To feel so out of control that her first response was to panic in an effort to make others take note of the gravity of the situation made me grieve for her life and her spirit. How very sad…
In the bible, Mark, chapter 4, Jesus and his disciples were in a boat during a violent wind and rainstorm, the waves crashing over the bow. His disciples were, in a word, freaking out. Jesus however, was asleep in the front of the boat and they were incredulous. They woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus calmly got up, rebuked the wind, rain and waves and said “Quiet! Be still!” The foul weather immediately died down and it became completely calm. He then turned to his disciples and said “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Our faith should reflect that even in the midst of utter calamity, of what on the surface appears to be a possible disastrous and catastrophic future, we hold steadfast to that one calm constant. We look to the one thing that remains peaceful and still and provides love and comfort, even in the face of possible death to those who love Him. You’ll notice I said, “Should”. Is it sometimes difficult? Yes. Can it produce doubt? Yes. But, those who sincerely love Him come back to Him. We come back to the Father because that is where those still waters are found. Remember the boat?
The future is uncertain. That is for sure. All we can do is pray that while God’s will is done, He continues to protect and provide for His sons. And, we are all His sons. Our walk on this earth is temporary and as we go about our daily lives, we must be a reflection to others, who may not believe, of the very thing in which we find solace. Allow the fear to be your strength, allow it to motivate you to now do better. Look to help others in any way possible so people can ask themselves, “What does this person have that makes them behave this way, to walk without fear?” The words “Do Not Be Afraid” are repeated in the bible approximately 365 times…an everyday reminder of where we should place our faith. It is not about us now; it is about all of us. And, it starts with you. Crush the fear.
I work in Center City Philadelphia and walk the two blocks to and from the train every day. Most days are routine, except for the occasional, errant person yelling or screaming about things like the world coming to an end or telling me my cell phone is on their brain frequency or sometimes even about the conversations they’ve had with the mounted police horses. Normal stuff.
One afternoon last week however, as I crossed the street and stepped onto the sidewalk, I saw something out of the corner of eye. It was on the pavement, moving fast but immediately caught my attention. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was, as it was moving at an angle toward me and I actually stopped to watch it. It was extremely thin, flat, perfectly round (about the size of a half-dollar), and all rusty with a few small holes in it. The wind must’ve caught it just right as it was rolling upright on its edge similar to what a Frisbee might do when it hits the ground after being thrown, then rolls vertically. It slowed as it got close to me, then veered away when it got about six inches from my shoes. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it because it kept rolling and doing little jumps and just wouldn’t fall over. I lost sight of it when it rolled out into the street, under a moving car and was gone by the time the car passed by. It was then that I realized it was an old, flattened bottle cap.
I know…you were expecting something a bit more exotic. Nope, it was just a flat, rusty old bottle cap, with too many years of age for me to even imagine. It had probably laid in the street over those years in the heat and in the cold, in the wind and the rain and had been ridden over and crushed by countless vehicle tires. I couldn’t get that bottle cap out of my mind and thought about it on the rest of my walk to the train and even during my ride home.
I thought to myself, “OK Lord, what are you trying to teach me here?”…His response was awesome.
That bottle cap has obviously lost its original intent and purpose and can no longer keep a beverage stored fresh and safely in its container. But, it hasn’t lost its eternal purpose. I know it’s an inanimate object, but it got your attention, didn’t it? How things (or, people) start out in life is not necessarily how they’re going to end it. And, for the most part, that difference can be as vast as the ocean. Maybe that bottle cap’s final purpose was to get you to write this story so others can read it and learn from it. But, then again, maybe not…you lost sight of it and for all you know, it could certainly still be doing its little old bottle cap dance for someone else. You won’t know until you stand before me!
The real issue is that My purposes are all that really matter. Things…and people too, will lose their original size and shape, get old and a tad rusty and over time even get some extra holes in them. But, it’s MY purposes in life that count. Age and size and shape and condition and mindset and attitude don’t matter one iota. Whether you’re twenty-six or ninety-six, My purposes for you in this life don’t end until I bring you home. Don’t let your present age or condition or situation allow you to get comfortable, or worse, lethargic. You already know from your own life’s experiences, that present circumstances can be fleeting and temporary. And, even though some transitions may have been unpleasant and uncomfortable at the moment, it always worked out, didn’t it? Continue to always look to Me for your direction and know that no matter what, I will always have something new for you. Exciting isn’t it?
Continue to roll, dance, jump, take chances and enjoy yourself while keeping Me always present and the Holy Spirit’s counsel always active. Be like that rusty, old windswept bottle cap…keep moving, have fun and live your life to its fullest.
I plan to do just that…
And, I’ll never, ever look at a bottle cap in the same way again!
There are those who walk in foreign lands
Many, many miles away…
We think of them and they think of us
In more ways than we can say…
Keep them forever in your hearts
So they may always know…
You love them more than words convey
That soon, they may be home to stay.
During the holidays, please keep those members of our military who are not home this year in your thoughts and prayers. And, that they may come home safe very soon. We owe them such an incredible debt of gratitude and thanks!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you who are serving…
Please take a moment today to remember those in our military who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. And, as today’s world climate grows ever more violent, remember too those who are on the front lines giving all they have, often with their lives. For THEY are the TRUE heroes of our time…
The following is taken from http://www.BLACKFIVE.net
The Washington Post brings us the story of the Dutch who continue to honor the fallen Americans who fought the Nazis.
On Sunday, they came again, bearing Memorial Day bouquets for men and women they never knew, but whose 8,300 headstones the people of the Netherlands have adopted as their own.
For the American relatives of the fallen, it was an outpouring of gratitude almost as stunning as the rows of white marble crosses and Jewish Stars of David at the Netherlands American Cemetery. Each grave has been adopted by a Dutch or, in some cases, Belgian or German family, as well as local schools, companies and military organizations. More than 100 people are on a waiting list to become caretakers.
It’s really awesome to see new faces in the gym at the beginning of the year. I’m encouraged by folks want to actively take part in changing who they “were” and begin a new phase in their fitness lives! And, that New Year’s resolution is a great way to start. Just like training your mind, training your body is just as important. You can add years to your life just by doing something as simple as taking a walk everyday. However, if you add weight training and proper nutrition to the mix, that number can dramatically increase!
OK, so here’s the problem…
A little over 90% people who make those New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, eat better and get fit, (or all three) will drop out of their regimen by Valentine’s Day. Over 90%! I see it in the gym every year. During that first week, they come to the gym and run, lift weights and take classes for hours a day. Then, you don’t see them for a week because they’re so sore, they can barely move.
The key is MODERATION!!! You didn’t get out of shape and/or gain weight overnight and you’re certainly not going to get fit overnight either. It takes dedication, discipline and commitment. You need to take your time, ease into a training routine and try to get educated in all 3 of the major facets of fitness…weight training, cardio work and proper nutrition.
Here are some recommendations to help you along the way…
- Make Exercise of Part of Your Daily Routine:
Just like bathing, putting on your clothes or brushing your teeth everyday, so should be your training commitment. A great quote is: “I don’t find the time to exercise, I make the time to exercise”. Start by just setting aside 30 minutes to an hour each day. Too busy you say? I doubt it. TURN OFF THE TV. Calculate how many hours of TV you watch every week…go ahead, try it. I bet you’ll be able to squeeze some time in between Wheel of Fortune and The Bachelor.
- Set Realistic Goals:
As I said earlier, take your time. Start with just 3 days a week. 20-30 minutes of cardio work and the same with weight training. You’ll feel so much better and be invigorated to continue!
- Hire a Personal Trainer:
If you’re unsure what to do and/or where to start, this can be key to your fitness lifestyle. They hold you accountable and can greatly help you minimize mistakes and maximize your training time. If it’s not in your budget, then find a training buddy who is knowledgeable being around the gym. Both can be invaluable.
- Keep Your Eye on the Prize:
Your Health. Let me repeat that…Your Health! I know, it’s much easier to sit on the couch and put your feet up. Research has shown that you can prevent numerous diseases by exercising, including; cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia and high blood pressure. Exercise reduces body fat, tones your muscles, helps you look great and boosts your self-esteem. Isn’t this worth the time it takes to do a little exercise? We can’t get this from sitting on the couch eating potato chips.
- Make it Convenient:
Exercise should be an enjoyable part of your day, a time you look forward to and embrace. But keeping this attitude will be difficult if you have to travel a long way to the gym before you even start your workout. You’ll also be much less likely to stay committed if exercising is a hassle. To make exercise as convenient as possible, pick a gym that is very close to your home or place of work. If you’re a morning exerciser, pack your gym bag the night before so you can grab it and go in the morning. If you exercise after work, bring your bag with you to the office so you can stop at the gym on your way home. Remember, also that weekends are not about “just relaxing”. After having that Saturday (or, Sunday) morning cup of coffee, get off the couch and go to the gym. You’ll be glad you did!
6. Learn About Proper Nutrition:
If you have the resources, see a nutritionist, your trainer or someone who you know personally that has already done the nutritional work in their lives and pick their brains. Plus, there is a ton of information on the internet about proper nutrition. This is probably THE most important part of your training lifestyle. You won’t regret it! Please don’t go to the gym and do your weight training and cardio work, then stop at Burger King on the way home. It doesn’t work that way…I can personally guarantee that you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself if you begin a proper nutrition regimen. Remember, nothing tastes as good as fit feels…!
- Track Your Progress:
Keep track of small successes. Short-term goals are much easier to make and those little accomplishments will help keep you motivated! If you need to lose weight, don’t obsess over the total amount…your goal should be focusing on the first five pounds…then, the next five. After awhile, you’ll have reached your goal!
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up:
If you “fall off the exercise/nutritional wagon” for a day or so, don’t throw in the towel. Just get back at it! One day at a time…!
You can do this…I know you can. It is thought that it takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and about six-months for it to become a part of your life and your personality. Remember, this won’t happen overnight, just be persistent and patient!
If you’re reading this and I can assist you in any way, please reach out to me at anytime. I’m always here to help…!
My wife and I recently went to our local Whole Foods store for our bi-monthly shopping excursion. On the way out of the store just inside the door, I passed a very frail-looking, elderly gentleman who looked to be not a day younger than 90 years old. It appeared that he was speaking with an employee of the store, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. He was wearing a hat that said “SECURITY” on the front (that made me chuckle to myself) and his pants were hiked up well over his stomach. He had a very hunched frame and I thought that he was all of about 5’6” tall, but may have been much bigger and taller in his youth. He was just the most delightful looking gentleman and there was a part of me that wanted to engage him in conversation. I wondered, “Who was he?”…”Did he serve in the military?”…”What was his life like, where had he been and what had he seen?”…”What had his vocation been?” These thoughts all passed through my mind in the split second I walked by him. Our eyes met and I gave him a smile…and, he looked at me as if to say “Hey, kiddo…what’s your problem?” I again chuckled to myself as my wife and I walked out of the store and I thought “what a blessing to have just seen that man and having crossed paths, even if only for that moment”.
We put our groceries in the car and as I started walking the cart back to the front of the store, I heard a commotion. I looked over and saw a man who appeared to be in his 40’s, heavy and about 6’3” tall, yelling at the elderly man I just seen in the store. It looked like he, his wife and the old man were walking to a car. The younger man was calling him “Dad”, but screamed the “F” word expletive at him at the top of his lungs many times as apparently his father had done something that greatly annoyed him. It stopped me in my tracks. My mind and body immediately reverted to being a police officer again, (I’ve been retired almost 12 years) and I stood there glaring at the younger man. I watched from about 20’ away and thought how wonderful it would be to walk over and relieve this guy of his Adams apple so he couldn’t yell at his elderly father anymore. I waited. If he touched the old man, I was willing to get locked up to put this guy in his place. It was then that our eyes met. It’s amazing when a coward has been caught in the act and the bodily posture that results when they’re not sure if they’re going to have to defend themselves. It’s also interesting to watch a spine loses its rigidity as this guy’s tall frame lost about 6 inches. He scurried into the driver’s seat and quickly started the car. I tried to look at the old man in the passenger seat to tell him it was OK…but I don’t know if he saw me. They drove off…
I was quiet on the ride home and couldn’t get the encounter out of my mind. I thought of my Dad who had a major stroke many years ago and whom I delighted in taking care of before he passed. Just before getting home, I mentioned to Randi that the incident was stuck in my head. And, as she always does, she brought it back into proper focus and said all I could do was pray for them. I had already done that.
After calming down and now sitting here putting this to paper, I want to see them again…all three of them. But, not in the context of what occurred in the Whole Foods parking lot. I wanted to talk to them, but more specifically the son. I wanted to find out what had occurred to him in his life that brought him to the place of treating his father like that. What could his Dad have possibly done to him that he felt the need to elicit such behavior? I kept thinking that if this was the son’s behavior in public, what was it like in private…was it worse or even physical? I knew that the incident wouldn’t soon leave my memory. I badly want to speak to this son.
From a biblical perspective, we’re called to love, honor and respect our parents. But, I do know that a parent’s abuse of a child can certainly hinder that in many ways. Years of parental abuse can have an incredibly devastating effect on children.
But as a son, it brought me back to how much I loved and still love my father and how I dearly wished he were here so I could tell him that. And, as a son of my heavenly Father, I know that God loves me too…no matter what the circumstances. This realization brings me much peace and joy.
I would love to cross paths with this elderly man again.
I just want to tell him that he is loved…no matter what the circumstances.