Friday, March 24, 2017

The day Mom left

Tomorrow is one of those anniversaries that is very bittersweet. It will be four years since Mom (Teddy Fritts) left us. I try not to write about me in this blog. The purpose here as you know, is to write about heroes who change the world - people who make a difference. For me, there is nobody who made more of a difference than my mom.

Last year March 25th was Good Friday. It's a very solemn church day, but we looked ahead a couple of days when my friend and I went to visit her final resting place. I stood there thinking not only of how much I missed her, but of how much she gave me. That's what happens with our heroes. They make us better. Mom most certainly made me the person I am today. She also influenced countless others.


This weekend, join my sister and I in thinking about our mom. Think too of your own parents and of people who made a difference to you. Let them know what they mean to you, and always keep them in your heart.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

more ways to brighten the day

Remember those lists we have begun here before?  Well let's see what else we can add to make a difference in the lives of others. In no particular order, here are a number of additional ideas. 
 
Give another driver your parking spot.  Give your full attention to someone in need and simply listen.  Stop by a nursing home, and visit someone who has no family nearby.  Have a clean-up party in the park.  Bring coworkers a special treat.  Buy cold drinks for the people next to you at a ball game.  Spend some time serving food at a meal program for the needy.  Volunteer to be a tutor in a school.  Remember the bereaved with phone calls, cards, plants, and food.
 
Volunteer to read to kids in the library.  Donate time at a senior center.  Give a pair of tickets to a concert or baseball game to a stranger.  Send a gift anonymously to a friend.  Transport someone who can’t drive.  Make telephone calls in support of equality urging others to put aside hate.  Send a treat to a school or day-care center.  Volunteer at an organization that needs help.  Go through your closets and find several nice items and then donate them to a shelter.  Buy books for a day care or school.  Give toys to the children at a shelter.  Volunteer to fix up an elderly couple’s home.

Invite someone new for dinner, either in your home or in a restaurant. Say nice things randomly to facebook and twitter friends.  Buy some bottles of water and randomly hand them out to strangers on the street.  Drop off a plant or a plate of cookies to your nearby police or fire station.  Clean graffiti from neighborhood walls and buildings.  Buy a stranger a free pizza.  Write “It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day! Have a great day!” on slips of paper and place them on parked cars.  Mow a neighbor’s grass or sweep a neighbor’s walk.  Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading a car.

Pay for the person behind you in the movie line.  Tell your parents/children why you love them.  Make a point of finding the name of a supermarket or drugstore employee and then praise him/her through that company’s corporate office.  When drivers try to merge into your lane, let them in with a wave and a smile.  Tell your boss that you think he/she does a good job.  Give blood.  Treat someone to fresh fruit.  Sing at a nursing home. 
 
Let's let this list keep on growing!
 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

To do good and to distribute

From the book Hebrews in The Bible:  "To do good and to distribute, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." What exactly does that mean?  Well, the message is for us to not forget to do good and to share what we have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices.  Actually the word "sacrifices" might not even be the best translation.  We might better say that God is pleased with those kinds of offerings.
 
Doing good and sharing - such a simple thing, huh? This pleases God and let me tell you it pleases a lot of others too. What though should we share?  How should we do good?  Of course there is not just one answer and it will likely be different for every one of us.  That's what makes it so wonderful. 

I have a coworker who brings fruit every day and she always offers me some.  It's part of who she is.  I have something and I will offer part of it to others.  It's like when you go to someone's house and they offer you a beverage or perhaps even a snack. You came to see them - nothing more, but in their charity and in their hospitality, they offer to share more than just themselves.
 
Think about this today. What does doing good mean in your life? How do you share what you have? (One really helpful kind of sharing is if you give us some feedback in the comments section below).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

it takes all kinds

We often hear it said that it takes all kinds.  Indeed it does!  I am so fortunate to know al kinds of people - people who serve, people who lead, passionate, talented, committed people, those who are seeking, those who have heard a call, innovators, givers, people who make this world so much better.  Making a difference in this world for the better, is the theme here.  All I have to do each day is look around and I find so many people and so many ideas to write about.
 
Yes, there are some who are only takers.  There are people who are more inclined to destroy than to build up.  These are not those folks who make this world so great and thankfully, these are not the majority of folks I know.
 
It takes all kinds - even the ones who don't want to contribute.  They help inspire us to do good instead of following them.  When we see bad, we are not inclined to follow it.  The positive wonderful things in our lives are the things that inspire and lead us forward.  Thanks to all of you who serve and who lead and who give!

Monday, March 20, 2017

F NOT Fitzgerald

The other day I read a wonderful quote that had been attributed to F Scott Fitzgerald. It was one of those encouraging things that often will end up on a poster, but as I was reading it, I also learned that the words were not his. Oh my! The article actually went on to say that there are many instances these days of quotes wrongly attributed on the internet.

Now Fitzgerald was an incredible writer. There is no denying that. He died at a very young age, but had he lived longer, there is no telling how many more wonderful stories he would have told. Among his works are This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. In addition, Fitzgerald penned dozens of short stories.

The quote I was speaking of though is the very kind of thing I like to share here. It likely came from a screenwriter by the name of Eric Roth. There is much evidence that it was not Fitzgerald's. Still, it's a wonderful quote:

For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Are you happy?

What makes you happy?  Are there material objects that bring you happiness?  What about music or art or food?  Are you happy because of the work you do or the people you associate with or because of your hobbies or because of some great past memories? 
 
What?  I'm assuming you ARE happy.  Perhaps I should have first asked if you are.  Well, what's the answer?  Are you a happy person?  Do you share that happiness with others?  (Sharing happiness can also bring you happiness).
 
I think that happy is one of those wonderful things that is very easy to share.  If you are smiling it invites others to smile as well.  If you seem to be happy and pleasant, I'll bet you will find others picking that happiness up from you!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Babies don't hate

This is a baby. Yes, I know that is obvious, but there are a few other obvious things about babies that I would like to point out.

Babies don't hate you because of your skin color and they don't hate you because of your sexual orientation. Babies don't hate you because of your gender or your weight or your religion or your sex. Yes, it may be obvious, but in fact babies don't hate you for any reason at all! Do you know why? They don't understand the concept. They don't know how to hate.

A wonderful article a few years ago titled See Baby Discriminate said that children as young as six months could judge others based on their skin color. Where are they getting these ideas? Who is teaching our children? The answer of course is we are. We are teaching discrimination. We are teaching hate. We are taking away the innocence of our children.

Parents and teachers are not bad. That's not my message here. What I am saying is that babies come into the world without any notion of hate. Let's not give it to them!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Community comes out to say goodbye

Last Friday I was present as the local community paid tribute to a law enforcement officer who had died after a long fight against cancer. I'll be part of the local Relay For Life supporting your American Cancer Society later this spring because I have personally been touched so many times by cancer. What I want to talk about though is this hero and the people who loved him. I'm living in a relatively small town these days, and so it is much more common to know many people in different parts of town. I don't think I have ever seen such a huge turnout though, except for celebrities.


The day began at a local church, where every seat was filled and the mourners even stretched out the front doors and spilled onto the sidewalks outside. Next there was a special luncheon, and the number in attendance was even larger. Immediately after the lunch, there was a civic memorial and the number of folks had doubled. Men and women in uniform were present, with family and friends and folks who barely knew him. Tribute after tribute said the same thing - this was a kind and caring man who loved his family, his God, his community, and his friends.

What really impressed me was how many people came out and the diversity in the crowd.  A deputy sheriff died - not some horrible crime related death while performing his duties, but a slow and painful death from disease.  People weren't talking about how his life ended though - they spoke of how it was lived, and boy was it lived!

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Gospel According to Herb Caen

Herb Caen, the late newspaper columnist (who wrote for The San Francisco Chronicle and earlier for The San Francisco Examiner) was one of those people who made a difference in this world, mostly through his writing. When I picked up the morning paper, I went immediately to his daily column. A while back I reprinted here a column of his from back in April of 1991. For those of you who missed it, here it is again:

Scene: The Heavenly Real Estate Office. The Landlord is cheerily rounding up a covey of blazing comets that have skittered under Queen Casseopera's Chair. His business agent, Gabriel, enters, his Golden Trumpet in one hand and more reports from the tiny planet Earth in the other.


Landlord: (to the Comets) Come out from under there, you little scamps, before you set the whole galaxy on fire.

Gabriel: Excuse me sir. Another batch of prayergrams from your most devout Christians.

Landlord: (waving a hand) Whatever they want, Gabriel. Now where did those freaky devils get to?

Gabriel: Yes sir, they want you to evict ten percent of your tenants down there. (Raising his Golden Trumpet) I've never attempted a partial eviction. Shall I try?

Landlord: (looking up) What ten percent, Gabriel?

Gabriel: The gays, sir. Your devout Christians say they've done their utmost to keep them out of their schools, their offices, their churches, and their lives, but with little success. So their prayergrams ask you to remove them from the face of your Earth.

Landlord: To me Gabriel, that doesn't sound very Christian. I thought they were supposed to love their neighbors.

Gabriel: Oh they do sir, if their neighbors are of the same color, economic bracket, and sexual orientation.

Landlord: But what harm do these gay people do?

Gabriel: I'm afraid you're not seeing the big picture, sir. Gays simply don't fit into your grand design. You know, two by two, male and female? Generation after generation? The fact of the matter is that gays simply don't procreate.

Landlord: I thought there was enough procreation down there already.


Gabriel: And they commit unspeakable acts.

Landlord: Murder? Torture? Paving over my mountain meadows?

Gabriel: Unspeakable sexual acts, sir.

Landlord: Ah, you mean they express their love for each other in different ways.

Gabriel: (annoyed) Really sir! If these people were automobiles, they'd be recalled in a nonce. They're clearly defective.

Landlord: (frowning) Defective, Gabriel?

Gabriel: Exactly sir. Some essential part if missing; some vital drive is malfunctioning. Bungled wiring – a loose screw...who knows?


Landlord: But clearly they're examples of shoddy workmanship?

Gabriel: Oh definitely sir. And they certainly don't deserve to clutter up your little blue-green jewel of a planet a minute longer. (Raising his Golden Trumpet again) Shall I evict them now?

Landlord: (slowly) And who made these imperfect products, Gabriel?

Gabriel: Why you did of course, but. . .(he lowers his trumpet in sudden consternation) Good You sir. I didn't mean to blaspheme. You will forgive them then?

Landlord: (smiling) A wise philosopher said long ago Gabriel that if I made sinners, it is not I who should forgive them, but they who should forgive me.

Gabriel: Well, I'm sure the gays will be glad to hear of your tolerance and generosity, sir.

Landlord: The gays? I was talking about my most devout Christians.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

For him it makes a difference

Another one of those "internet parables" came my way the other day, and although you may have heard it, this one again is worth sharing. Like others I have shared here in the past, I have no idea who the author is.
It seems an old man was going for a walk one day when he noticed a little boy feeding a thin, shaggy looking dog with bits of bread. He went up to the boy and asked him why he was sharing his bread with the dog.

The little boy answered, "Because he has nothing. No home, no family, and if I don’t feed him he will die."

"But there are homeless dogs everywhere," the old man replied. "Your efforts don’t really make a difference."

The little boy looked at the dog and stroked him. "For him, for this little dog, it makes all the difference in the world."

I wish I knew who wrote this because they get it so amazingly right. Did you ever hold back from donating money or food or anything else because you could only spare a small amount and thought it wouldn't make a difference? If we all fed those homeless dogs - if we all fed those homeless people, it would make such a difference. I'm thinking we just might wipe out homelessness!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

You are a child of the universe

Last night I kept hearing the words of this poem in my mind, and so I decided to write about it today - The Desiderata. Early in 1972, Les Crane's spoken-word recording of this poem (a poem with a very confused history, but I won't go into that), peaked at #8 on the Billboard chart. I can still remember listening to it over and over back when I lived in Nashville. As you all know though, this is NOT about me.

The words are quite inspirational. "As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons." Who can argue with that? "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." Certainly this is another good thought. The poem is full of them! The words - the ideas - the list of things to be desired (the actual translation of desiderata) here are so uplifting!

My favorite part of the poem, is a section that was used as a refrain in the recording: "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

butterfly

Butterflies are beautiful. There are so many different species and so many different colors. Did you know though that it can be a picture of your soul? Well, according to Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, by Lafcadio Hearn, a butterfly was seen in Japan as the personification of a someone's soul; whether they be living, dying, or are already dead. They have been pictured as symbols of the recently departed on television and in movies.  It seems to me that makes them even more beautiful!
 
Every morning I go for a walk to begin the day.  Most of the time it is dark out when I begin and sometimes it is still dark when I finish my walk.  It's amazing how many beautiful things you can see even before the sun comes up.  During that time of year when the sun is rising earlier, I listen to the chirping of the early birds and I look for flowers and even butterflies.  I'm not sure when they sleep, but I so the most amazing butterfly the other day.  It would pause for a moment and just as I was about to take its picture, it would flutter away to another tree branch.
 
Butterflies seem so free.  Even their eating habits are beautiful.  They survive most on nectar.  Wow!  One of the lovely images of nature.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Change the World

Listening to Eric Clapton sing Change the World, I find myself thinking of all the many things I would love to do. Clapton's song is really a love song, but it's from the motion picture Phenomenon and the film was about someone who indeed changed the world.

A couple of wonderful scenes from the movie stick in my mind. In on of them, the lead character George Malley asks his love interest Lace Pennamin, "Hey, would you, uh, love me for the rest of my life?" Her response: "No, I'm gonna love you for the rest of mine." In another scene, George is trying to comfort the two small children of Lace, who have just learned that he is dying. George uses an apple as a metaphor, saying that no matter what, an apple will rot and die if thrown on the ground, but if you were to take a bite out of it, the apple would become a part of you, and you would carry it with you forever. I really love that way of looking at it. He is essentially saying that he will therefore live forever.

From a Clapton song to a major film, there are different ways of looking at leaving a piece of yourself behind - of changing the world.  If we all do something that becomes a part of others, we will in a sense, live forever.  Of course we don't try to do good or change the world, just so we will have immortality.  We do it to benefit our families and our friends and other loved ones.  We all can change the world!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Live for something greater

Just what does it mean to live for something greater?  Think about it for a moment.  Are we talking about great accomplishments?  Are we talking about a greater power?  Are we talking about a set of values?  What do you think?
 
I write a lot about hometown heroes and to me, those are the folks who live for something greater.  It might not have been something they thought about or planned, but by their actions or by their words, they made a difference and it was something that endures.
 
Do you want you live to be infancy, school, work, retirement, and then death with no great milestones along the way?  Well most of us don't.  It's human nature to do new things and along the way to become more and more popular and to have more and more friends.  Although we know we cannot live forever, many of us want something we do or say to last beyond our time on this earth.  That's what motivates them to do great things.
 
The motivations can be many.  There need not be just one answer to my above questions.  How about if we all strive to live for something greater!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

sunrise - sunset

Isn't this a glorious vision?  Wait a moment though - in this picture, are we looking at a sunrise or a sunset?  Can you tell the difference?  Is one more beautiful than the other? 
 
There are those who prefer the rising of the sun in the morning.  It signals a fresh start; a brand new day.  Most of us when we see it are just waking up and are rested and refreshed after a night's sleep.
 
Some people prefer to look at the sun as it sets.  The day is finished and now, as the sun goes down, a time of rest is approaching.  We have done what we set out to do and there will be another opportunity to do more wonderful things tomorrow.
 
However we look at the sun though, one thing is certain.  It is beautiful.  Take a moment and just reflect on this picture.  There is beauty all around us.  Take a moment and enjoy some of that too.  In fact, start looking at all the beauty that surrounds you, and I guarantee in will change your day!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

One man's trash

Something that one person considers to be worthless just might be considered valuable by someone else.  I think the old saying is that one man's trash is another man's treasure.  You might also look at it as always seeing something positive, even in something as seemingly worthless as garbage.
 
I know people who always see the positive.  I try to be like that myself.  I would much rather enjoy the everyday experiences and rejoice in the hidden beauty that is so often missed than to spend unnecessary time and money going for the lavish expensive things that so many covet but which all too often are really over rated.
 
There is so much good - everywhere.  All we have to do is open our eyes and our minds.  Now, I'm not saying we should wallow in dirt and filth, but we can appreciate the less extravagant.  We can also do something about the filth and make it so that everyone might enjoy it!