Blog Post #289 Stephen Ministry

I’m in a class currently learning to be a caregiver for elderly (and/or others) in a program called “Stephen Ministry”.  We are to be able to listen, to hear our care receiver’s complaints, comments and other.

I can imagine being with a widower who is depressed and empty after his wife’s death.  I can imagine that is a significant shock for either man or woman after a long marriage.  (By-the-way, my wife and I will celebrate 44 years of marriage this year).

I know that aging isn’t always clean and nice.  I’ve seen my parents go from independent home owners, to an apartment to assisted living and then with my father dying and eventually my mother going on hospice care and dying as well.  I’ve seen my wife’ parents with my father-in-law having more infernities and pain. He lost weight to about 60% of his regular weight (and he wasn’t heavy anyway). I’ve seen my mother-in-law with dementia / Alzheimer’s – not recognizing her family and eventually dying.  

So, as my training to be a caregiver is coming to a close, I’m anticipating I may be assigned to a widower lamenting the lost of his wife.

In this class we talked about making conversation with our care receiver, with being compassionate, understanding, patient.  We are not to solve their problems but to be a friend to listen to them. We also talked about depression – and suicide.

I learned that one of the groups that considers suicide frequently is white, senior males.  Even with spouses or without spouses, men in that group can view their lives as having no value:  they are retired – no jobs, no hobbies, nothing to do most day but watch television or be on the computers.

One source had these concerns:

Thwarted Belonginess:

  • These days, I feel disconnected from other people.
  • These days, I rarely interact with people who care about me.
  • These days, I don’t feel I belong.
  • These days, I often feel like an outsider in social gatherings.

Perceived Burdensomeness:

  • These days the people in my life would be better off if I were gone.
  • These days the people in my life would be happier without me.
  • These days I think I have failed the people in my life.
  • These days I feel like a burden on the people in my life.

These are tough questions and issues.  As a senior white male, I can see some of these issues even with myself.  I have no hobbies, I don’t want to ‘give up’ – and try to keep positive.

It seems interesting as I might get paired up with somebody similar and I’m to help them be positive – but that should be a good thing – and I will have purpose, meaning and value to them (and to me)!!

So, what about you?  Do you run into depression? Can you change your lives?   Can you share your experience at:

Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #288 Good Friday / Passover / Easter

Today is Good Friday, tomorrow is Passover, Sunday is Easter –  for many of my friends these are significant holy days.

Good Friday for Christians – remembering that Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, went willingly to a cross and death for all people.

Passover for Jews (and Christians – and was part of Jesus’ celebration of Good Friday – as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world) – the celebration of God’s grace and mercy as He rescued His people from slavery in Egypt

Easter for Christians – where Jesus is resurrected from the dead.

Even for non religious folks, this is about the time that spring really comes (in the Northern Hemisphere) – and there is new life.

There are many philosophies going on here – from light belief to overwhelming belief.  I won’t go into it here (wait until Easter), but ‘new life’ is a significant part of life.  

We CAN CHANGE – we can become NEW people as we change our lives and our thoughts.  If we believe in ourselves (and probably in a supreme being), we can change to be positive winners, not doubtful whiners.


So, what about you?  What are you celebrating?  Can you change your lives? Can you become ‘new people’?  Can you share your experience at:


Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #287 More on WHY

Yesterday I posted on SImen SInek “Start with WHY” concept


Sinek also uses a “Golden Circle” like this:

Image result for golden circle sinek

We tend to be outside in oriented.  Let’s say we are talking with a new person in the community at a dinner.  We tend to start with “What do you do?”. Then maybe after a few minutes of understanding that, we move to “How do you do it?”.  But rarely (if ever) will we get to “Why do you do it?”.

But the WHY is really the vital thing – our purpose – what do we believe.

The Baldridge National Excellence program frequently looks at MVV – Mission, Vision and Values – basically the WHY of an organization or business.  

Back to belief systems first.  What do you believe? Do you believe that ‘man is basically’ good?  If so you will act on life that way. If you on the other hand believe that ‘man is basically bad’ – you will approach things differently.

I great up in what was called the “Judeo-Christian” viewpoint – God loves us, He wants us to love Him.  Taking that a step farther – WHY is that important to me?

That there is a God

That he created the world

That he wants us to know him

That Adam and Eve were close to him

But that Adam and Eve sinned and messed everything up

That Abraham came along and God made a covenant with Abraham

Moses came and gave the law (Ten Commandments and more) as a moral code to live by

That Jesus came as the second person of the Trinity (extending the Jewish understanding) to write that code on our hearts.

And … that God wants us to be in fellowship with Him; to love Him; but to love all around us.

So my WHY is that I LOVE GOD – and because of that, I need to love others and to show them the way.  My WHY is so very deeply inside me – LOVE, FORGIVE, DON’T JUDGE, SHOW MERCY, BE HUMBLE (Micah 6:8 – What does God want from us?  To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with out God”).

Starting with WHY, I can branch out to the HOW – so how do I love, forgive, etc.?  How do I show mercy? How do I act justly? How can I be humble? Tough questions.

THen the WHAT – what do I do – based upon the WHY and the HOW.

So, what about you?  How do you get to WHY in your life?  Can you share your experience at:


Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #286 WHY and Judgment

A well viewed Ted Talk is by SImon Sinek entitled “Start with WHY”.  The concept is that putting the WHY first (the purpose) before HOW (we are getting their / the process) and the WHAT (the actual outcome), that we make our PURPOSE the most important reason we live and work.

Recently a strange thought has been rummaging around in my head (actually two strange thoughts).  I think I understand the HOW and the WHAT, but the WHY seems to be eluding me. WHY is central to WHO we are and WHO we are becoming.  Socrates said “the un-examined life is not worth living” – suggesting that we need to examine the WHY’s in our lives.

Why do I exercise?  Because it is central to my life.  Yes, I’m okay with the HOW to exercise and the WHAT to exercise – but WHY do I do it?  Do I BELIEVE that exercise is important? Yes I do. But is that enough of a why? Do I feel good after exercise?  Not always – frequently I feel worn down and tired. If it doesn’t feel good WHY do it? Because of a belief system.

Now ‘belief’ is very different from person to person.  And, we do need to evaluate our belief systems from time to time.  For many years, I looked down (I’m sorry to say this) on those with different sexual orientations – gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender.  Maybe I finally saw loving couples (in particular Jill and Cathy) and some others (like Sean and Andy).

I’ve also adjusted my judgments over the years.  I wanted to judge people (GLBTQ) or obese or smokers or criminals or <whatever>.  In my belief system, I’ve come to the realization that I’m not the judge. In my belief system, God is the final judge.  In Matthew 6 we have this:

“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For the way you judge others is how you will be judged — the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you. Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye!

I’m not going to judge people.  Yes, I still have to be careful, but not to judge.  So, the spammer who calls saying he is from Microsoft and I need to go to a particular website and share my information is really just making a living (albeit a criminal one).  

I also know that I am not perfect (the older I get the truer that is) – and understanding WHY I am here is important to me.

So, for my two strange thoughts rummaging around in my brain, I need to do more analysis.  One thought is to escape the problem of aging and the large scar in my chest from open heart surgery by becoming somebody else.  So, why do I want to escape?

The second is somewhat related to escaping – (serious) – suicide.  There are day when I feel unneeded and unwanted. I need to find value in life – through my belief system.

So, what about you?  How do you get to WHY in your life?  Can you share your experience at:

Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #285 Starting the day

So, how do you start your day?  If you want to be motivated, here are some suggestions.

Get up early.  

In my household there are the two of us – my wife and myself.  I do naturally wake up earlier than my wife (as well as go to bed earlier).  So, it is easy to slip out of bed, head to the living room (and my favorite chair) and start my day.


I close my eyes for a few minutes

I like to settle in by clearing my mind.  Sure, on my mind is my agenda and activities for the day, but I need to clear out those thoughts for a while.

Take some deep breaths – fill my lungs with fresh oxygen – clear our the old air – just like clearing my brain out.

Try to find my innermost being – something deep within me.


Keep taking those deep breathes.  Keep settling into my innermost being.  Just relax – no thinking (and if my brain has to keep thinking and pounding ideas into my head – like – ‘you need to get going and get the coffee going’ – then I put my brain to think about breathing.  Maybe count those breathes; maybe consider the clearing of your brain and your lungs.


After maybe five minutes – sometimes longer and sometimes shorter – I can introduce more metaphysical thoughts:

  • Who am I
  • Where am I going (long term)
  • Why am I here
  • What are my vision mission and values


I take time to reflect on those.  Yes, the world will start and maybe I need to think about taking the trash out (Tuesday mornings), or get a load of laundry started, or start the coffee – but those thoughts can wait.  The day will start on those after this morning routine.


While I’m asking myself my fundamental questions, I work on picturing who I am.  At age 70, I am retired – but what will I be like at age 80 and 90. I don’t picture myself with a walker, but walking with a fresh gentle breeze behind me (hint – always picture the breeze behind you!!).  I picture myself erect – not slouching – a gentle smile on my face. I can add my imaging to those questions like who am I. I can picture the affirmations I have written on the card in my billfold where I have answered that.  I know who I am and where I am going. I smile more, I picture myself smiling the roses (or lilacs).


Some days I add more conscious meditation – maybe on a scripture, a prayer, time to connect with the creator, saviour and Holy Spirit in my live.

Return to life:

After reflecting and enjoying the beauty that is in my brain, I can slowly move back to ‘today’.  What am I doing today? What do I need to do today? What deadlines are in front of me? How does ‘today’ match the long term view of ‘where am I going’.

I sit for a few minutes more before starting that coffee.

So, what about you?  How do you start your day?  Can you share your experience at:


Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #284 Friendship

From Ben Franklin, American Statesman  

  • “Be civil to all; sociable to many, familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none”;
  • “Be slow in choosing a friend, and slower in changing”.

Making enemies is not ever a good plan.  Being civil (nice) to all people will tilt things in your favor.    The pyramid that Franklin suggests – civil to all, sociable (friendly) to many; familiar (close) to few; friend to one great friend is laudatory.  Do you have such a pyramid? (Do I have such a pyramid?)

Making a great friend does take time – and keeping a friend is very important.  Franklin suggests we take our time to find and choose a friend.

I have a great friend that unfortunately likes 18 hours of driving away.  But, when we get together, it is like we see each other everyday. We pick up conversations right where they stopped.  We were sociable until fate brought us closer together. Long road trips with just the two of us meant lots of screen time (front windshield time really); prompted us to talk and to grow closer.  We did some really interesting things together – road trips to Omaha, followed to Rochester, Owatonna, Minneapolis, Marshall and Sioux Falls. A long road trip from South Dakota to Texas. Conferences around the United States – and flying first class back to South Dakota from Orlando.  Flooding in San Antonio. Maybe the most inspired (or least inspired) was when the two of us “recalled” the degrees of our students so we could have an alumni gathering. (We can laugh about it now – although the administration wasn’t quite sure when alumni in our major called and said “Tom and Bruce are recalling our degrees”).

So, what about you?  Are you cultivating close friends?  Do you have special friends? Can you share your experience at:

Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #283 Tongue

From Ben Franklin, American Statesman “A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.
I’m pretty sure that all of us have said something dumb that we wished we could get back.  We sometimes say that we should engage our brains before opening our mouth.

The Bible in James chapter 3 says:

“The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.  All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

It is so vital to try to control our tongue.

Many years ago I knew a young lady whose name was Mary Jane Yusinowitz.  Unfortunately the guys had a bad nickname for her last name (you son-of-a-bitch).  I was introducing her to another friend one day and I used the incorrect version – and I was embarrassed and sorry that my tongue (controlled by my brain) was so out-of-control.

So, what about you?  What dumb things have you said?  Can you share your experience at:


Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #282 Laughter

Thinking of laughter today:

Some quotes first:

  • “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” Audrey Hepburn
  • “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” Charles Dickens
  • “If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.” Robert Frost
  • “With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” William Shakespeare
  • “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”  Maya Angelou
  • “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”  Mark Twain
  • I love to laugh, and I laugh often.  I also love to make others laugh and enjoy the time together.  To me, laughter is the best medicine.

WebMD has this statement on laughter:

  • “Feeling rundown? Try laughing more. Some researchers think laughter just might be the best medicine, helping you feel better and putting that spring back in your step.

    “I believe that if people can get more laughter in their lives, they are a lot better off,” says Steve Wilson, MA, CSP, and laugh therapist. “They might be healthier too.”
  • Yet researchers aren’t sure if it’s actually the act of laughing that makes people feel better. A good sense of humor, a positive attitude, and the support of friends and family might play a role, too.
  • Sometimes it is corny stories, sometimes something just strikes me as funny.  

From the Bible we have:

  • A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
  • Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:11
  • You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.Psalm 4:7
  • Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

I like puns too: How about: “I wasn’t originally going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind”

How about you?  Have you laughed deep and hearty today?  Find some humor, laugh a little (even laugh at yourself sometimes), and let joy and laughter fill your heart!!

So – how about you?   Let me know at:

Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #281 Your environment

So, what is going on around you?  

Troubles?  Good things?  Hatred? Love? Storms and cold? Warm and pleasant weather?  Bad co-workers? Great co-workers?

Really we’re talking about your environment (or circumstances) today.

I liked this quote: ““Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise.”

Sometimes we let circumstances rule us.  We get a bill for more than we thought; the car breaks down; the pet dog dies; the roof leaks; the neighbors don’t mow their grass.  Whatever goes on around us affects our circumstances / our environment.

Al Capp, legendary American cartoonist, had a character Joe Btfsplk.  Joe walked under a black rain cloud. Wherever Joe went catastrophe was sure to follow.

But, we can choose to let circumstances rule us – or to overcome them.  

Recently Stephen Hawking, British physicist and author died.  For many, many years, Hawking was confined to a wheelchair with Lou Gehrig’s disease.  He used a speech synthesizer to communicate because of his disease.

Joe could have succumbed to the disease – or chosen to ride above it – and he did rise above it.

There are some additional quotes that relate:

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

Every cloud has a silver lining

Are you letting circumstances rule your life – or are you finding a way to use them as instruments to rise above them.

So – how about you?  Do circumstances rule you; or can you rise above them??  Let me know at:


Go for it!!Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #280 Spring

March 20th was the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere (at 11:15 a.m. Central Daylight Time in the USA).

In High School (many years ago), we sang an English version of Edward Grieg’s Varden (or English – Last Spring) .  The version here is not quite the same but similar enough:

Yes, once again winter’s face would I see to Spring’s glory waning,
whitethorn outspreading its clusters so free in beauty enchaining.

Once more behold from the earth day by day the ice disappearing,
snow melting fast and in thunder and spray the river, careering.

In Grieg’s native Norway, winters are long, the desire for spring even longer.  Spring brings us hope, new life. Winter is like death, dormancy.

Emerald meadows, your flow’rets I’ll spy and hail each new comer;
listen again to the lark in the sky who warbles of summer.

Glittering sunbeams how fain would I watch on bright hillocks glancing,
butterflies seeking from blossoms to snatch their treasures while dancing.

He (Grieg) writes of seeing spring again – emerald meadows, flowers, larks, sunbeams, butterflies.

But he finishes with this:

Spring’s many joys once again would I taste ere fade they forever.
But, heavy-hearted, I feel that I haste from this world to sever.

So be it then! yet in Nature so fair much bliss I could find me;
over and past is my plentiful share, I leave all behind me.

(This version is from:

It is the last spring for Grieg (at least in the poem).  He is ‘heavy-hearted’ to be ‘severed’ from this world, and he ‘leave(s) all behind me’.

Spring is a joy (even in Texas where winters are not as cruel).  Trees budding, flowers blooming, sunlight shining longer each day.  In the north part of the United States (where most of my life has been spent), is the ecstacy of lilacs, the joy of flowering crabapple trees and daffodils blooming.  It has been long pent up, but bursts forth in beauty.

Like Grieg, we too experience winter and winter doldrums; we too wait for the rebirth of spring; we see the flowers and experience the joy.

It can be like that in life.  We struggle through a project (or several projects), we trudge through the allegorical snow, to find that first flower – that snowdrop, and wait for the grass to appear.  

But, also like Grieg, at some day, we will experience the last spring – and eventually death.  Then we can reflect “Was our life worth something?”; “Did I make a positive difference in the world?

But, for now this first days of spring, we need to “take time to smell the flowers” and to be renewed again.

That last day, last spring will come for all of us eventually.

So – how about you?  Does springtime refresh you?  Let me know at:

Go for it!!Have a great day!!



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