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Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Dad Sending His Daughter Off to College

I want to share a slightly edited portion of a letter my friend Scott Raecker wrote to his daughter Emily on sending her off to college:
My Dear Emily,

My life changed the day we found out that you were on your way. From that moment forward, you have been on my mind and heart – every day.

I vividly remember driving you home from the hospital. I was incredibly nervous with this great awareness: I was in control and it was my responsibility to protect you from the dangers of the world.

Now, as you go off to college, I am still nervous. The dangers of the world are still out there, but I don’t have the same control, and the responsibility for your safety is more yours than mine.

When I hug you goodbye on move-in day, I may not be able to say all I want to. I want to be sure you know I love you. I am proud of you. I believe in you. I know you are ready for this next stage of your life.

Your mom and I have watched you grow into your own person, and we trust you to make good choices (though we expect that you will make some mistakes and that from these you will grow).

The rest of your life will not be the next four years – but the next four years will have a significant impact on the rest of your life. So work hard, dream big, make good decisions – and have fun! Let your values, your faith, and your character guide you and never doubt that your mom and I will always love you and be proud of you.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

There Are Two Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who think there are two kinds of people in the world and those who think those who think there are two kinds of people in the world are self-righteous jerks.

A listener called me to task concerning a story about a man who told his son there are two kinds of people: those who return their shopping carts and those who don't.

His first point was that it's dangerous and foolish to use simplistic categorizations. On this I have to agree, although I didn't think the father who divided the world into two categories was being literal. I think he was making the point that we all have endless choices – either to do the right thing instinctively and consistently or to join those who find excuses not to. The original story came from a book Hugs for Dad by John William Smith. I don't know if it's literally true or not, but it's a powerful parable.

His second point was that he objected to the implication that anyone who doesn't return shopping carts is falling short on any scale of virtue. "As long as markets pay union wages and benefits to employees to collect these carts," he said, "I shouldn't reduce the amount of their work."

This rationale ignores the story's main message: Be considerate, clean up after yourself, and make life easier, not harder, for the next guy. Under his analysis, we help custodians and housekeepers by making a mess.

I don't think I was a bad person when I didn't return shopping carts, but I think I'm a little bit better now that I do. You see, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who want to be better and those who don't.

Nothing Is More Important . . .

I sat next to the bed of old man, a friend for over twenty years, and held his hand. Hal was dying. We both knew these next few days would be his last.

We spent time reminiscing about his long and fruitful career as a church pastor. We talked about old friends. We chatted about his family. And I listened as he offered sage wisdom and advice to a member of a “younger generation.”

At a lull in the conversation, Hal seemed to carefully consider what he was about to say next. Then he squeezed my hand, gazed intently into my eyes and whispered, just loud enough for me to hear, “Nothing is more important than relationships.” I knew that this was somehow near the pinnacle of his life’s learnings. As he considered all of his experiences — personal, professional, spiritual and family, this one ultimate observation surfaced above the rest: “Nothing is more important than relationships.”

“Don’t get overly caught up in your career,” he seemed to be saying to me. “Likewise, don’t use people in order to achieve your goals, then throw them away. No project, no program, no task should be pursued at the expense of friends and family. Remember,” I heard him saying, as clearly as if he were speaking the words, “that in the end, only your relationships will truly matter. Tend them well.”

Writer Og Mandino puts it this way: “Beginning today,” he said, “treat everyone you meet as if he or she were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do so with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.”

At the end of a long life, my friend Hal would have agreed.

Copyright © Steve Goodier

When Your Dream is not "In Season”: by Joel Osteen

One time, I was in my backyard talking to a man who was helping me with my landscaping. It was the middle of winter and the grass was very brown. It looked as if it was totally dead. I commented to the man about how bad the grass looked and how dead it was. He said, "Well, Joel, it doesn't look very good now but the truth is the grass is not dead, it's just not in season. In the springtime, this same grass will be just as lush and green as it can be." Sure enough, just a few months later that same brown, dry grass was a gorgeous bright green, filled with life and vitality.

I've found that life works the same way. Sometimes our circumstances look dead. It may look like a dream is dead, a relationship is dead, or a promise is dead. But you have to realize it may just be that it's not in season. It may be that it'll come back around in a new season. We can't give up just because things don't look the way we want them to in the season we are in. We have to dig our heels in and look with our eyes of faith to the new season that is on the horizon.

What am I saying? Just because something looks dead, don't write it off. Our God is a God of new beginnings.

When we go through disappointments or setbacks, instead of getting down and discouraged or giving up, choose to have the attitude, "Even though it doesn't look good, I know the truth it’s not really dead; it's just not in season. I'm in wintertime, but I know springtime is coming. So I'm going to lift up my head and get ready for the new things God is about to do." My Friend, if you'll keep that attitude of faith you will receive strength to make it through to the next season and it won't be long until those dreams and desires will flourish in every area of your life!