Monday, September 20, 2010

WHAT REALLY MATTERS


“I have found a paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” ~ Mother Theresa

September 11, 2010, I listened to rebroadcasts of the terrorist attack on our nation. I was driving to meet my friend Jan who was traveling with me to Oklahoma City. My throat constricted and tears slid down my cheeks. It felt to me like the attack had just happened.

When Jan got in the car, she too had been listening to the same radio station. We talked about that day and she made an interesting point. It intrigued her how important it was to those who knew death was immanent that their family knew how much they loved them. It wasn’t important to know that they were loved.

I thought about what she said.  After returning home I googled the last words of the victims. I wept as I read transcripts of phone calls and interviews of those who lost loved ones in this heinous crime. No one called to say, I’ll never forgive you, you hurt my feelings, I hate you. Rather they said, I’m okay, I love you, never forget that.

This just goes to show us what really matters, to give love rather than to expect it. It also presents the true meaning of love. It is a verb more than a noun. It is an action more than an emotion. It is doing for others when there is nothing in it for us. It is often inconvenient and unappreciated.

True love is sacrifice. Loving others is what really matters.



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

GOING THE EXTRA MILE

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle

Labor Day, fifteen years ago, our house caught fire. It happened around 8 in the evening. Rob, Charles, and I were talking in the living room — this is significant, because my teenaged sons were actually communicating with me, even using full sentences! I was in Heaven. Our subject? Armageddon. Isn’t that funny? While we talked about the end of the world, Armageddon was happening in our house and we didn’t have any idea, until Olivia noticed flashing lights in the office. She thought William was playing on the computer and peeked in to find the room on fire.

Fortunately, Rob thought of grabbing the cordless phone as we ran out of the house. We called 911 and watched an orange ball of fire consume our home. Neighbors came out with their phones asking who we wanted them to call. I couldn’t think, my mind had become a traffic jam of emotions, thoughts, and worry. One neighbor asked where we were insured. I told them Allstate and our insurance rep was Dale Johnson. She made the call.

Just minutes after the fire department arrived, Dale drove up. He comforted me and told me not to worry, he would help us through this disaster. Losing stuff really didn’t bother me, it was the irreplaceable things that hurt my heart. I watched the hungry flames consume the letters my father had written my grandmother while he served in the Korean War, all of my children’s baby books that contained letters I had written them while I carried them. I had planned on giving those letters to them when they were expecting their first child. Photos, family memorabilia, all lost. But I didn’t experience the same despair over those things as my son Charles felt about his guitar. He had saved for months to buy his first guitar, a blue Fender Stratocaster. We literally had to hold him back from running into the burning house in an effort to save it. He finally collapsed on the street curb and cried.

After the flames were put out, Dale walked with the fire chief through the house. Several minutes later he walked out with a blackened guitar case and handed it to Charles. With tender trepidation, Charles opened the case and found his guitar in perfect condition. The combination of joy and relief still thrills my heart today.

Dale went the extra mile by walking through the muddy ash to find that guitar, and then checking to make sure it was in good condition before handing it to Charles. I will always appreciate this man’s excellence.


To go the extra mile is to make more of an effort than is expected of you. By doing this you not only make a positive difference in the lives of others, the rewards of such excellence follow.

This weekend Neal and I went out to lunch at the Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse in Rogers. We were seated and the hostess asked us for our drink orders and brought them to us. Then nothing. After a while the manager asked us if we were going to be eating anything and Neal casually answered, “Yes, when we get a menu.” The manager looked surprised and hurried to bring us a menu. When he handed them to us he said, “Your lunches will be on the house today for our oversight.”

Wow! He told us that before we ordered! Neal and I were surprised because we had enjoyed talking, not thinking a thing about the delay. But the manager went that extra mile. We ordered a lunch portion (we resisted ordering the most expensive thing on the menu) of steak medallions and I must say our lunches were excellent! Plus, because of that manager’s attentiveness, we will be back and we do recommend that restaurant.

I’ve heard it said, “Average is the best of the worst and the worst of the best.” We don’t want to be the best of the worst, do we? This week, go the extra mile. Do more than is expected of you. Let us all begin practicing excellence as a habit.



GOING THE EXTRA MILE


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle

Labor Day, fifteen years ago, our house caught fire. It happened around 8 in the evening. Rob, Charles, and I were talking in the living room — this is significant, because my teenaged sons were actually communicating with me, even using full sentences! I was in Heaven. Our subject? Armageddon. Isn’t that funny? While we talked about the end of the world, Armageddon was happening in our house and we didn’t have any idea, until Olivia noticed flashing lights in the office. She thought William was playing on the computer and peeked in to find the room on fire.

Fortunately, Rob thought of grabbing the cordless phone as we ran out of the house. We called 911 and watched an orange ball of fire consume our home. Neighbors came out with their phones asking who we wanted them to call. I couldn’t think, my mind had become a traffic jam of emotions, thoughts, and worry. One neighbor asked where we were insured. I told them Allstate and our insurance rep was Dale Johnson. She made the call.

Just minutes after the fire department arrived, Dale drove up. He comforted me and told me not to worry, he would help us through this disaster. Losing stuff really didn’t bother me, it was the irreplaceable things that hurt my heart. I watched the hungry flames consume the letters my father had written my grandmother while he served in the Korean War, all of my children’s baby books that contained letters I had written them while I carried them. I had planned on giving those letters to them when they were expecting their first child. Photos, family memorabilia, all lost. But I didn’t experience the same despair over those things as my son Charles felt about his guitar. He had saved for months to buy his first guitar, a blue Fender Stratocaster. We literally had to hold him back from running into the burning house in an effort to save it. He finally collapsed on the street curb and cried.

After the flames were put out, Dale walked with the fire chief through the house. Several minutes later he walked out with a blackened guitar case and handed it to Charles. With tender trepidation, Charles opened the case and found his guitar in perfect condition. The combination of joy and relief still thrills my heart today.

Dale went the extra mile by walking through the muddy ash to find that guitar, and then checking to make sure it was in good condition before handing it to Charles. I will always appreciate this man’s excellence.


To go the extra mile is to make more of an effort than is expected of you. By doing this you not only make a positive difference in the lives of others, the rewards of such excellence follow.

This weekend Neal and I went out to lunch at the Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse in Rogers. We were seated and the hostess asked us for our drink orders and brought them to us. Then nothing. After a while the manager asked us if we were going to be eating anything and Neal casually answered, “Yes, when we get a menu.” The manager looked surprised and hurried to bring us a menu. When he handed them to us he said, “Your lunches will be on the house today for our oversight.”

Wow! He told us that before we ordered! Neal and I were surprised because we had enjoyed talking, not thinking a thing about the delay. But the manager went that extra mile. We ordered a lunch portion (we resisted ordering the most expensive thing on the menu) of steak medallions and I must say our lunches were excellent! Plus, because of that manager’s attentiveness, we will be back and we do recommend that restaurant.

I’ve heard it said, “Average is the best of the worst and the worst of the best.” We don’t want to be the best of the worst, do we? This week, go the extra mile. Do more than is expected of you. Let us all begin practicing excellence as a habit.



Wednesday, September 08, 2010

HAVING THE CORNER ON GENEROSITY


“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

A couple of weeks ago my pastor, Steve Dixon, spoke on generosity and referenced the ancient practice of wealthy landowners to leave the corners of their wheat fields unharvested for the poor. In fact, the Holiness Code of the Torah also instructs farmers to leave some grapes ungathered in their vineyards and to only beat the olive trees once and leave olives for the poor.

At the end of Steve’s message he made a statement that impacted my very soul. He said, “It isn’t important how big your field is, what really matters are how big are your corners?”

We may look at our income, our small homes, our old cars, and think that we really have nothing to offer. But all fields have corners. In these hard economic times we may feel we cannot squeeze out another dime for charity.

Good news! Generosity isn’t limited to money! I love this quote from Buddha: “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

There are always opportunities around us to be generous. Every time we freely and cheerfully give our time, attention, and money, it is an expression of love and gratitude for what we have. It not only helps those in need, but it also brings health to our souls. And the smallest things to us may be a miracle to others.

This week, live your life aware of those around you. Do you need to buy someone lunch and listen to them? Do you need to speak kindly to a child or perhaps spend some special time with him or her? If the corner of your field only amounts to $20.00, don’t feel it cannot make a difference because it can. Those who are homeless have said that what they need the most are socks, underwear, and toiletry items.
Be the candle that lights a thousand others.