March 31, 2021

Who Do We Love?

"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."

Thomas Merton

"I love you not as something private and personal, which is my own, but as something universal and worthy of love which I have found."

Henry David Thoreau

Flying out to Las Vegas I listened to Scott Adams' Audio Book, Loserthink.

It is about learning the skill of thinking, and it calls those that violate the rules - both smart and dumb people - perpetrators of Loserthink.

One rule stood out, don’t think you can read people’s minds. Because you can’t. Mind reading leads to ugly judgments or worse.

In my class here in Vegas, an officer told a story of his own Loserthink that he overcame. As a young school teacher, he told his students to bring in a note from parents that they had completed their homework. One boy didn't do this too many days in a row, and he tore into him. Eventually though, he found out this boy was living without this parents, and taking care of his young 8-year old brother.

As we are reminded in Matthew: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

One reason this is important to remember, you can’t read minds. You don’t have good evidence. Before you judge, listen, ask questions, have a conversation. Otherwise, the only thing your judgement is damning of is you.

It’s not often you get to experience such a rare expression of your church’s faith. Yesterday, my family and others from our church community had the opportunity to visit the Kursk Root Icon at a small orthodox church, St. George, in Michigan City, IN, consecrated over 100 years ago by Saint Rapheal of Brooklyn. The church itself is filled with relics from St. Paul to St. Seraphim, Mary of Egypt and Joachim and Anna.

On September 8, 1259, a hunter noticed the icon lying on a root face downwards to the ground. The hunter lifted it and saw that the image of the icon was similar to the Novgorod "Znamenie" Icon of the Mother of God. Just as the hunter lifted up the holy icon from the earth, a strong spring of pure water surged up at that place where the icon rested.

With the help of friends the hunter rebuilt an old small chapel and placed the newly-found icon in it. When news of this spread, many came from Rylsk to this old chapel to venerate the icon and pray about their sorrows and needs. There the Mother of God healed all who came to her icon.

And yesterday, this amazing relic of our church history was with us in Indiana.

There are miraculous things all around us if we will only open our eyes and reveal our hearts.

March 25, 2021

Get Some!

The practice jerseys for the basketball program I coach, The Kash Eagles, is emblazoned with a screaming eagle with blood dripping from its talons and the phrase, “Get Some!”

Get some! A little wild, a little untamed. The phrase gets smiles and energy from the boys.

In his journal, Thoreau said the following:

"Whatever has not come under the sway of man is wild. In this sense original and independent men are wild—not tamed and broken by society.—Journal, 3 September 1851"

Life is too short to be completely tame. Looking for opportunities to be original and independent are good, an aimless walk in the woods is good.

One of my favorite people from the bible is John the Baptist. A desert dweller, wild, he was the one picked to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of heaven.

Wild! I love it! Now go get some!

March 24, 2021

Walking - Wild And Free

Henry David Thoreau in his lecture Walking or The Wild said:

“All good things are wild and free. 

I rejoice that horses and steers have to be broken before they can be made the slaves of men, and that men themselves have some wild oat still left to sow before they become submissive members of society.

Here is this vast, savage, howling mother of ours, Nature, lying all around, with such beauty, and such affection for her children, as the leopard; and yet we are so early weaned from her breast to society, to that culture which is exclusively an interaction of man on man….”

Thoreau was on to something!

From a Today article: Modern science has studied walking and found that “There are many reasons to walk for exercise,” says Ann Green, M.S., past heptathlon world athlete, yoga teacher and fitness studio owner. “Walking improves fitness, cardiac health, alleviates depression and fatigue, improves mood, creates less stress on joints and reduces pain, can prevent weight gain, reduce risk for cancer and chronic disease, improve endurance, circulation, and posture, and the list goes on…”

One Stanford University study found that walking increased creative output by an average of 60 percent. Researchers labelled this type of creativity “divergent thinking,” which they define as a thought process used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. According to the study, “walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”

Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression also suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout when it comes to relieving the symptoms of anxiety and boosting mood.

Lots of benefits! But I think the best reason goes back to Thoreau. We all were born to be a little wild and free. Some more than others! Now go get you some walking!

March 23, 2021

Wisdom From The Hospice

An incredible amount of wisdom caring and listening to those at the end of their lives.

"Sitting at the bedside of dying patients, Tenzin Kiyosaki sees every day how regrets can haunt people at the end of life.

The former Buddhist nun works as an interfaith hospice chaplain for Torrance Memorial Medical Center in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, tending to the spiritual and emotional needs of people who have less than six months to live, and listening to their concerns.

When her brother, “Rich Dad Poor Dad” author Robert Kiyosaki, asked her what the dying talk about, she mentioned some of the common concerns she heard over and over. Kiyosaki shares them in her new book, “The Three Regrets: Inspirational Stories and Practical Advice for Love and Forgiveness at Life's End.”"

From Today News

I did not live my dreams.

I did not share my love.

I did not forgive.

Kiyosaki writes, citing a quote from Buddha: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else — you are the one who gets burned.”

John of Kronstadt, a Russian priest who lived in the 1800s, said the following:

"The purer the heart is, the larger it is, and the more able it is to find room within it for a greater number of beloved ones; whilst the more sinful it is, the more contracted it becomes, and the smaller number of beloved can it find room for, because it is limited by self-love, and that love is a false one. We love ourselves in objects unworthy of the immortal soul – in silver and gold, in adultery, in drunkenness, and such like."

When I’m at my worse, that is exactly how I feel. Like I don’t have room for anything except for my own worries and passions. What a lonely place to be. If we can find room to love, the room gets bigger and we are not alone.

I’ve learned this from our large family. There has never been any sense of “there isn’t enough love to go around” it just seems to get bigger. There is always enough room for loving each other.

Our week in Springfield, MO for Homeschool Basketball Nationals has ended. As always, it wrung every bit out of us, the glorious and the heartbreaking. While ready for the season to be over, we can't wait for next year.

Lessons this week, as always, come from the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. We learn that life is journey of things we can control and things we can’t.

Do we grow from it, or do we fail to learn from these lessons?

Do the failures make us smarter and stronger, do we reflect on the victories and how we achieved them?

As I try to keep my eyes open to change and for my own opportunities to learn from mistakes, I always seem to go back to the the vision of life I had as kid. The world looked so big through the small lenses of a boy growing up in rural Indiana. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like when I was older, wiser, and richer. But for most people, the world only seems to get smaller. Why? They never learn to embrace the knowledge losses can bring us.

March 18, 2021

I Was Mad, So I Crawled

This week we’ve been talking about forgiveness, bravery, and doing the right thing.

Someone close to me just relayed, “I was so mad, I went to church to get over it. But it took effort.”

They were mad and overwhelmed and knew it was not a good place to be. But they went to church in the middle of the week, and it took effort.

"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to."

Overcoming anger, finding the heart to forgive, is a narrow way. It is a door that truly few will enter. But to live, you must enter. The biggest lock on the door is our own ego.

You’ve heard Proverbs 16:8 -  "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." But do we live it?

Ego and pride, not forgiving or being overwhelmed by anger, lead to destruction. Going through the narrow door, even if it means falling to the floor and crawling, leads to life.

March 17, 2021

Into The Tree Line

We’ve been talking about forgiveness, and forgiveness can be scary. And very often, just doing the right thing is scary.

Let me tell you a story today about doing the right thing, even when you know just how much danger you are putting yourself in.

"Sergeant First Class, Jerry M. "Mad Dog" Shriver was a legendary Green Beret. He was a platoon leader with Command and Control South, MACV-SOG.  A joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction which were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.

On the morning of April 24, 1969, Shriver's hatchet platoon was air assaulted into Cambodia by four helicopters. Upon departing the helicopter, the team had begun moving toward its initial target point when it came under heavy volumes of enemy fire from several machine gun bunkers and entrenched enemy positions estimated to be at least a company-sized element.

Shriver was last seen by the company commander, Capt. Paul D. Cahill, as Shriver was moving against the machine gun bunkers and entering a tree line on the southwest edge of the LZ with a trusted Montagnard striker. Capt.Cahill and Sgt. Ernest C. Jamison, the platoon medical aidman, took cover in a bomb crater. Cahill continued radio contact with Shriver for four hours until his transmission was broken and Shriver was not heard from again. It was known that Shriver had been wounded 3 or 4 times. An enemy soldier was later seen picking up a weapon which appeared to be the same type carried by Shriver.

Shriver was never seen or heard from again. He was listed as missing in action. No trace of SFC was ever found." From Vietnam War Stories

Men and women like Sergeant First Class Shriver inspire me to overcome my fears. To face my demons and battle them. To walk into the darkness because it’s the right thing to do, knowing, that in this life, you are not always rewarded for doing the right thing.

May Sergeant First Class, Jerry M. "Mad Dog" Shriver memory be eternal. May you face your fears, find forgiveness in your heart, and live your life moving forward.

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