Breaking News: Breast explodes on Thanksgiving Day.
Middle Georgia: During the 60’s
Right breast of Thanksgiving Turkey explodes in the oven at the Thurman's residence on Westview Drive. No injuries were reported; anxiety levels were high.
I grew up in a larger family in Fort Valley, Georgia. Fort Valley is a beautiful town situated in the heart of Georgia, on many maps is it between the o and the r. Fort Valley is the home of Blue Bird Bus company, Lane's Southern Orchards, and Georgia Bob’s BBQ.
Around this time last year I was watching Jimmy Fallon when he was doing his segment on #thanksgivingfail, and I remember one Thanksgiving fail, my mom, who is an exceptional cook, was trying a new way of cooking her turkey.
We had some family coming over, and momma was cooking a big bird. Things in the kitchen were busier than a one-eyed cat trying to watch two mouse holes at the same time. When all of a sudden there was the muffled sound of an explosion in the oven followed by a small combination of steam and smoke as the right breast of this rather large breasted bird exploded. Momma quickly opened the oven to see what had happened, what she found was a crumpled sheet of aluminum with pieces of meat and skin shrapnel from the explosion. I remember her initial exasperation which was immediately followed by her saying, "It is still moist and almost done, it will have to do."
Dad carved the bird, and no one but our family knew about the damaged turkey.
As I recall, the bird was fantastic, and like you, we ate too much that day.
For most of us, the Thanksgiving fails, while at the moment have things that seemed negative turned out to be a great memory maker.
One of the ways to expand you Attitude of Gratitude is to share some stories of Thanksgiving’s past.
Have a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude and grace? #Attitude of Gratitude, #Get a Grip on Stress. #ATTITUDEOFGRATITUDE, #GETAGRIPONFEAR#GETAGRIPONSTRESS, #LOWSERHOLIDAYSTRESS
Push Back the Tyranny of Fear with Dose of Gratitude. Why Thanksgiving is important.
Do fear, anxiety, and stress have you tied up in knots? Are you trying to push back the darkness of depression?
As a part of my series on Psychological Body Armor, I am going to disclose the cheapest, and one of the most productive things you can do to lower stress, reduce fear and increase happiness. It is cheaper than therapy, has no debilitating side effects, and you will begin to see the benefits of using it almost immediately.
This ancient, but well-researched intervention is gratitude. Having an attitude of gratitude, expressing thanks.
The word gratitude comes from the Latin work gratis, more precisely gratus, which means grateful or thankful. As a quick side note: Mrs. Ruffo, my eighth-grade Latin Teacher while I attended Fort Valley High School in Fort Valley, Georgia, is probably smiling down from Heaven as I write this. I am thankful to her for teaching me an appreciation for ancient languages.
Gratitude is an attitude that demonstrates grateful appreciation.
Thankfulness helps people connect to something bigger than themselves as individuals whether to other people or God.
Psalm 107:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, and His Love endures forever.”
Thanksgiving arrives this week. As you and I begin to prepare for this significant and meaningful time of year, I want to give you seven things you can do to push back the tyranny of fear, doubt, and darkness with Dose of Gratitude.
Gratitude is the thankful appreciation of things received, whether tangible or intangible. It helps you and me connect with something outside of ourselves, often something that is transcendent and larger than we are. Being grateful for people, and other blessings not only makes me thankful, but it also helps rewire my brain to be more optimistic.
Before I get into the seven tips for developing gratitude. Here are a couple of things to get your brain working. Here are some things you might think about, health, family, spouse, friends, significant others, relatives, pets, your talents and gifts, life, and job.
Here are eight things for which you can be even more grateful as we prepared to celebrate Thanksgiving in 2016.
Please let me know what you thought about the article. Your input is very important.
This is a repeat off an earlier post that many of you commented on.
Maintain Your Motivation Part 1 - Using the Goldilocks Rule to Push Ahead.
This article is liberally based on one of my favorite bloggers James Clear
Does the name Steve Martin ring a bell? Performer, comedian, movie star, Saturday Night Live Alum, respected banjo player, father, husband and author of his autobiography Born Standing Up. By the way, if you are looking for a great read, I highly recommend it.
Disneyland had just opened in 1955 when this enterprising ten-year-old managed to land a job selling guidebooks for fifty cents apiece.
Within a year he was transferred into Disney’s Magic Shop where he learned a few tricks from some of the older employees. During this time he also began to experiment with telling some jokes and funny stories while he demonstrated his magic trick in the shop. It was not long before he began to realize that what he loved was not doing his magic tricks, but in being in front of a crowd, entertaining them. It was at this point that he seriously began to look at becoming a comedian.
Upon entering high school, he began performing in small clubs in the L.A. area. The clubs provided an intimate laboratory where he could practice his act and hone his skill set with various audiences. In his book, he tells of doing one performance where he performed his entire show to an empty room.
It was gritty work, but he was gaining valuable expertise in his chosen craft. His first magic acts would only last a couple of minutes. By the time he was in high school, he was up to five minutes. By the time he was 19, he was performing weekly at clubs doing 20-minute sets. He was improving.
He spent the next ten years experimenting, adjusting, and practicing his act. During this time he also took on a job as a writer for a groundbreaking comedy-variety television show called the Smother’s Brothers Comedy Hour. During his time with this show, he and his fellow writers received an Emmy in 1969. After the ending of the Smother’s Brothers show he worked as a writer for other leading-edge television shows, eventually earning some much coveted personal appearance spots, including the Tonight Show, and Saturday Night Live. These roles eventually lead to movie roles and many other unique opportunities in the entertainment industry.
What was his secret? He wanted to be a respected, successful comedian and was willing to put intentional effort into it.
Comedy is not for weenies! I know from personal experience. I have told my share of jokes and stories that ended up being horrible face plants. That said, Martin worked at developing his craft for 18 years. Martin says, ”I spent ten years learning, four more years refining and four more years of wild success. His very public journey gives us a unique and insightful look into his personal journey of motivation, perseverance, resilience, and consistency.
So why do some people stay motivated to reach their personal and business goals and another fail? Why do we say we want something really bad only to quit in a few days, weeks, or months? What is the difference between someone who accomplishes their gold and someone who throws in the towel?
Angie and I recently returned from Fort Worth, Texas where we attended the Premier Designs Jewelry 2016 National Rally. It was a be a time of inspiration, motivation, fellowship, joy, training and decision making. For some, this event will be a marker where they make a choice to go to the next level in their business or personal life. They will hear, see, or feel something compelling them to move forward, whatever it is, it will be a life altering choice that will impact many lives down the road. Whatever it is it will give them the push they need to move forward.
For others, it will be a time of fun, fellowship, catching up, a time of inspiration and motivation and hope. They will feel a need to make some changes; they may even make a commitment to do things differently this year. Sadly, that energy, drive, and motivation will diminish over the next days and weeks. Unless they do something different, nothing will change.
So, why do we stay motivated to reach some goals and not others? Why do we say we want something only to give up on it in a few days? On a personal note, I cannot begin to count how many times I have done this. So this begs the question: Is there a difference between the areas that we naturally stay motivated in and those we give up on?
Scientist have been studying this for years, and one of the encouraging things that the research is demonstrating is that the best way to stay motivated is to work on tasks that are just a little challenging.
The findings show that we all love challenges, but only they are within our “optimal zone of difficulty.”
I will use my 24 plus years of being a part of my wife’s Premier Jewelry Journey to illustrate.
At Rally, thousands of women and men will hear beautiful, inspiring stories and testimonies of jewelers who have experienced various setbacks, trials, and struggles but where able to experience growth and new found success in their businesses. Thousands will laugh and cry and make promises to themselves and to others to do before rally 2017. The blessing is that many of them will do just that, they will put up with the tasks that are just a little difficult to get what they want. So what will that “Magic” look like? Is it looks? No. Is it personality? No. Is it their connection with someone that did it for them? No!
Here is a general idea of what the magic is.
If a person believes that there is a reasonable chance of making their dream happen, if they have a sincere desire to make it happen three things will happen:
1. Their focus will become very narrow. In Premier language they will focus on personal jewelry shows and share the Premier Opportunity. Those are the only two things that generate income in Premier. Not Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.
2. Distractions begin to fade, as the goal become clearer. Sometimes they start to pull away from some relationships for a season.
3. The zero in on activities that will lead to the changes they are longing for. The challenge of the next task is “just manageable,” but doable. Victory is not guaranteed, but it is possible as the individual is doing the things that can make it happen.
4. Tasks like this, science tell us, are most likely to help us keep our motivation where it needs to be to complete the task.
You see, tasks that are below your current abilities become dull and routine. Tasks that are significantly beyond your current abilities are usually discouraging and can lead to failure. However, tasks that are right on the cusp of success and failure are incredibly motivating to our brains. We want nothing more than to master a skill just beyond our current horizon.
This is called the Goldilocks Principle. Which states that humans experience peak motivation and performance when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too easy. Not too hard. However, just right!
God gives you a dream bigger than you are, so you can trust him and work with others to pursue it.
Would love to here your thoughts.
The fear of criticism robs a person of their initiative, destroys imaginations, limits initiative, destroys dreams, steals self-reliance, and does, Lord only knows how much more damage. Napoleon Hill[i]
Abraham Lincoln’s Story
During his presidency, Abraham Lincoln was greatly respected and greatly reviled. Blamed for plunging this nation into a civil war, he was the president people loved to hate. Those who opposed his views regarding the war and slavery, as well as his efforts to keep them united, were vocal and uninhibited in denouncing him.
One day during one of the darkest periods of this presidency, Lincoln was walking down a street near the Capitol in Washington when an acquaintance caught up with him. As they walked, the man brought up the subject of the growing anti-Lincoln sentiment flowing in Washington and throughout the country.
With brutal honesty, the man related to Lincoln many of the stores outlining attacks on Lincoln and his policies. As the man spoke, Lincoln remained completely silent and absorbed in his thoughts.
Lincoln stopped, looked directly at his and said: ”Yes, I have heard you, but let me tell you a story. You know that during the time of the full moon it is the habit of all dogs to come at the night and bark and bark and bark at the moon.
This keeps on as long as the moon is clearly visible in the sky.” Then he stopped speaking and continued his walk. Confused by Lincoln’s response, his exasperated companion persisted “Mr. Lincoln”s, you haven’t finished your story. Tell me that rest of it! Once again Lincoln’s stopped walking and said: There is nothing more to say. The moon keeps right on shining.”[ii]
President Lincoln is an excellent role model for managing criticism. Although he was aware of his shortcoming and knew that many highly respected and influential people disagreed with him, the president listened to the criticism and followed his intuitive sense that his policies would eventually win over critics and variety the country.
One of the life’s challenging realities is the fact that there are always people around who are our faults finders, people who seldom see the good but are quick to point out the negative. Like Abraham Lincoln, all of us need to find ways of hearing criticism without being detracted or destroyed by it.
Fear of criticism is an enormous challenge for many entrepreneurs, particularly women.
Dr. Seuss “ Be who you are and say what you fee because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”[iii]
I love this quote from Darrell Stetler Ii, a Methodist Pastor in Kentucky, "One of the most natural things that humans do is be afraid of what other people will think. You may not believe that this affects you might not be a part of something like this:
The “Dependent Order of Really Meek and Timid Souls”? When you make the acrostic of the first letters of its name you have the world “Doormats.” The Doormats have an official insignia-a yellow caution light. The official motto is: “The meek shall inherit the earth if that's ok with everybody!"
Have you ever caught yourself in the mind trap of “If I am “perfect” for my actions, no one will criticize me? Have you ever noticed how tough this is to pull off? If you try and live like a chameleon around everybody hoping to keep them all happy you will end up tired, frustrated and hurt. I bet even as you are reading these words you are feeling your heart beat increase.
When people are so afraid of criticism, they tend to overcompensate in their actions at the expense of what is critical about life connection, compassion, love, open-heartedness.
Some of the devastating adverse effects of the crippling effects of fear of criticism include:
Raed 2 Timothy 1:7
[i] Darius Styl, "Understanding the Fear of Criticism: According to Napoleon Hill," Christian Rationality.Reason.Faith.Christ.Virtue.http://www.christianrationality.com/2016/08/08/understanding-the-fear-of-criticism-according-to-napoleon-hill/ (Author’s note – this is an interesting read!) Accessed August 2016.
[ii] Victor Parachin, “The Moon Keeps on Shining”…and Other Ways of Dealing with Criticism.” Leadership with a Conscience, http://www.perdidomagazine.com/articles/moon-keeps-shining-and-other-ways-dealing-criticism. Accessed August 2015.
Dealing with Anxiety“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34).
- Matthew 6:25–34Despite our attempts to create security for ourselves with savings, insurance, a strong police force, and so on, we cannot eliminate the fears plaguing our society. The potential dangers of terrorism, various diseases, rising crime rates, natural disasters, and so on bombard us daily, making it impossible to escape our culture of anxiety.
Such fear is nothing new; people have always found something to be afraid of. Some have phobias regarding heights, snakes — you name it. Surveys routinely tell us that the number-one fear of most Americans is the fear of having to speak in public.
Whatever the catalyst may be, all of our fears manifest our apprehensions about the future. If we fear heights, we are afraid that we will fall at some future point. Extreme weather frightens us because we know it might cause great destruction or death, moments or years from now. We cannot control or predict what is coming, and that is what terrifies us most of all.
Jesus knows our tendencies toward anxiety, and that is why we find “fear not” coming from His lips on many occasions (for example, Luke 12:32). Yet persistent fear is fundamentally linked to a lack of faith, and so Jesus rebukes us in today’s passage for worrying incessantly about what tomorrow will bring. If God cares for the birds and the flowers, aspects of creation with less worth than humanity, certainly we can trust Him to provide for us in the future (Matt. 6:25–33). We are not to worry about tomorrow, for we can trust our Father to take care of it (v. 34).
Jesus is not telling us that we should not plan for the future, as Scripture commends prudent measures to deal with what may come (Prov. 21:5). The problem comes when we place confidence in our own machinations (Luke 12:13–21). We fear the future because we trust in our own abilities, and then we realize that we have no real power over what lies ahead of us. However, the Lord holds the future in His hand (Prov. 16:1, 9), and we must trust Him for our security. God does not promise us a life free of trouble, but He does pledge to be with us always, and He will not break this promise (Matt. 28:16–20).
Coram DeoTomorrow we will look at some of the practical steps we can take to overcome fear and trust God for the future. Today, take some time to consider where you put your trust. Do you adapt well when things do not go as planned? Are you troubled incessantly by what might happen in the days ahead? If you have difficulty adapting to circumstances that you are not expecting or are constantly worried, it may be a sign you are having trouble trusting the Lord. Trust Him today.
Passages for Further Study
Ps. 9:10; 56:1–11
Kill Fear with Faith-Filled Thinking!
“This above all, refuse to be a victim.”
Fear is a dream stealer, a thief that pilfers profits, and a swindler that ransacks hope.
Fear is usually a function of lack of confidence and low self-esteem. Many people are afraid because they think they will fail. However, if they will do it, if they will try to overcome their fear instead of letting their fear limit them, the will find they can do it.
Fear should not keep us from working, or living an intentional, meaningful life. If you have been caught in the trap of fear, I am going to give you some proven, practical, faith-friendly tools to help you begin to push back fear today.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear;
What can mere man do to me? Psalm 118:6 (NKJ)
Think on this as we begin this journey together. Fear receives way too much airplay. Fear is the big bad boogeyman that grows by negative, contemplative thoughts that are re-runs of painful past events.
Fear is primarily mismanagement of our mental capacities.
As we move into this potentially life-changing material, let me share with you Five Factors that, if used will expedite your abilities to push back fear:
1. Faith – the belief that God is on your side, and that he does not make any junk. Faith that he who started a good work in you will fulfill it. Faith that God is a mighty God of second chances. As a growing, sometimes struggling Christ follower I sometimes waver at this point. In my head, I know the truth, but sometimes my heart is resistance to trust.
2. The support of real friends, friends that will both love and challenge you, friends that will hold you accountable. We live in a unique time in history, on the one hand, we have more connectivity to each other thank anytime in history, thanks to smart devices and social media. The paradox is that more people are struggling to connect with face to face relationships. Here is a prophetic word from Albert Einstein, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”. Next time you are out for dinner to take a moment to observe how many people are more engaged with their devices that with each other. Leonard Sweet, a Methodist theologian, shared an interesting comment on his Facebook page recently, “Those born after 1985 have no memory of life before the internet. Those born before 1985 are the last remnants who have memories of living on both sides of the digital divide.”
Now, I love technology; it is a big part of how I do my private counseling and consulting business. However, all of the research tells us that one of the most cost-effective ways to overcome fear is to connect, with family and friends.
4. Time – You did not get this way overnight, and you will not be done with it within the next three weeks. The good news is that you have started the journey by picking up this resource.
A good friend of mine is a pastor of a growing, dynamic church gave an excellent
illustration of this principle.
Farmers and gardeners understand time. When they are planting corn, they have series of things that have to happen in a certain order. First, they have to prepare the soil. Then plant the seed in a place where they will receive full sun. If the ground condition, weather, and plant care all work together, you will have corn in 60-100 days, depending on the variety.
When they let nature take its course, they will reap a harvest.
My pastor friend then said, "People, we need to remember this! When dealing wit life issues, many people want an immediate answer and become disappointed that God does not do something immediately. May I give you a word of advice? Pray about the issue. Then do your part to make the changes. Let's look at the miracle o
the Jesus feeding the 5000.
“Late in the afternoon the Twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms so that they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.”
However, Jesus said, “You feed them.”
“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you
expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” For there were about 5,000 men there.
Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” So the people all sat down. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, andblessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. They all ate as much as they
wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers! Jesus did not make the food appear out of thin air; he had raw material, the boy's food. As you work on pushing back fear, realize time and God are on your side, but you have to take action.
3. An optimistic worldview. Now I am not talking about pie in the sky, but a worldview that has a future-focused path. It means that I am not condemned by my past failures, I am not regulated to what I am going to do with my life, based on some test, skill set, or family heritage. It means that I have a future that I can choose, and with God’s grace and work I can have a different life.
Matthew 19:26 says, "Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. However, with God everything is possible" NLT
Over the past several years the Lord has allowed me the joy of traveling all over the world. I have been in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and one of the overwhelming truths that I have experienced is that we in America experience blessings beyond measure, and we can pursue our dreams. I can tell you from first-hand experience there is not a place like this great country.
You have the power, ability, and the opportunity to improve your life if you are willing to take the risk?
5. The “I am smarter than the average bear” attitude. I remember hearing a couple of poignant definitions of average. Average is the best of the worst and the worst of the best. Another definition was that average is the cream of the crap.
Speaking for myself, I have never wanted to settle for average. Now, I am not the brightest bulb in the box, but I make up for it by being creative and finding ways to be unique and different.
As you look at pushing back fear, I want you to realize that you are intentionally designed to leave you to mark in the world. Here is my question for you: Are you going to let fear keep you from having a larger impact for God in your life and the life of others? Or, like many people who choose to be “average” will live a life of regret. I do not want to sound egotistical, but I hope there are a ton of people at my funeral, not to praise me, but to demonstrate the power and influence of life that wanted to influence people for the Kingdom of God.
My friend Dr. Charles Lowery is a gifted speaker, psychologist, and human behavior expert. Several years ago I had the joy of working with him on a church staff in Albuquerque. As a mental health professional, and associate pastor Charles and I had some shared interest from helping people to know Christ and make him known, to understanding human behavior.
I have heard him speak on fear many times, and two power lines that he uses to describe fear are:
Forget Everything and Run
False Evidence Appearing Real.
I would like to add a third.
Here is a project you can try to improve your ability to push back fear. Jot down each of the tools that I have listed and take an honest look and grade yourself where you are right now. Then, be intentional about improving you score in the next couple of weeks by using these tools.
I’d love to hear from you and how well this helped you push back fear.
Darkness is settling into Albuquerque a little early tonight as a gentle, but rumbling thunderstorm cools the evening.
All day today on television, radio, and social media have been several moving remembrances that morning on 9/11 that permanently altered out history as Americans.
Even then, as a recently retired Army Reserve Chaplain, I wondered if I would play any part in the recovery efforts. A few weeks later, a representative from the U.S. Army’s Chaplain office did reach out and said there might be a call-up. Even as a retiree, the government can bring you back on active duty. But that wasn’t to be.
Instead, I would stay in Albuquerque and be an ordinary citizen, or so I thought. Over the days and weeks ahead, my counseling practiced picked up as I helped rescue and recovery workers who were coming back to New Mexico. I also did some telephonic work with some of the family members of those who were lost. So in my on, quiet way, I was able to use my gifts and skills to help people who were impacted.
I have a trivia question for you. Do you know the name of the first person who was officially listed at Victim #0001 in the Twin Towers?
His name is Fr. Mychal Judge, Chaplain of the New York Fire Department. This above photos is one of the most powerful from that awful day.
Because of my ministry as an Army Chaplain, I felt a connection with him. After serving 22 years as an Army Chaplain, I have working with other chaplains from nearly every religious group from Hassidic Jews, Later-Day-Saints, Orthodox, Assembly of God, Independent Baptist, United Methodist, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and others that I cannot recall. One of the things that sets most chaplains, whether military or other, is that we have a call to work in places most pastors don’t feel a call to. And in all of my years of service, we were able to maintain our unique ecclesiastic differences while taking care of the spiritual needs of those we served.
Back to Chaplain Judge.
He was the first official victim of the September 11 attacks and a candidate for canonisation. Now Father Mychal Judge, chaplain of the New York Fire Department, has emerged as an unlikely gay icon a year after his death.
When his body was carried out of the burning towers, Father Mychal, 68, seemed to epitomize the human face of a tragedy beyond comprehension. Because he was a priest, his death set an example of courage and selflessness that helped to fill the hole the terrorists had gouged in the city's heart.On September 11, 2001, upon learning that the World Trade Center had been hit by the first of two jetliners, Judge rushed to the site. He was met by Rudolph Giuliani, the Mayor of New York City, who asked him to pray for the city and its victims. Judge prayed over some bodies lying on the streets, then entered the lobby of the World Trade Center North Tower, where an emergency command post had been organized. There he continued offering aid and prayers for the rescuers, the injured, and the dead.
When the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 am, debris went flying through the North Tower lobby, killing many insides, including Judge. At the moment he was struck in the head and killed, Judge was repeatedly praying aloud, "Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!", according to Judge's biographer and New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly.
Shortly after his death, an NYPD lieutenant found Judge's body. He and two firemen, an FDNY emergency medical technician, detailed to the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and one civilian bystander then carried Judge's body out of the North Tower. This event was captured in the documentary film 9/11, shot by Jules and Gedeon Naudet. Shannon Stapleton, a photographer from Reuters, photographed Judge's body being carried out of the rubble by the five men. It became one of the most famous images related to 9/11. The Philadelphia Weekly reported that the photograph is "considered an American Pietà." Judge's body was laid before the altar of St. Peter’s Catholic Church before being taken to the medical examiner.
Mychal Judge was designated as "Victim 0001" and thereby recognized as the first official victim of the attacks. Although others had been killed before him, including the crews, passengers, and hijackers of the first three planes, and occupants of the towers and the Pentagon, Judge was the first certified fatality because his was the first body to be recovered and taken to the medical examiner.
He like us was not a perfect person. A recovering alcoholic, a benefactor to the homeless, and mentor to New York's firefighters, Father Mychal meant many things to many people. What was less well known, according to some of his friends, was that Father Mychal Judge was also gay. Malachy McCourt, an author who met Father Mychal at Alcoholics Anonymous, says the priest swore without compunction. ''He'd always say 'You're not a bad person - you have a disease that makes you think you're a bad person.''
Under the circumstances, Father Mychal was a great fit for New York's firefighters. ''He would enjoy the one-upmanship,'' says Father Cassian. ''They would be razzing him, and he'd razz them back.
''He loved being in the firehouse with them, just for the camaraderie and the fellowship. He was always at the center of things with his Irish personality. ’'Those, like Father Cassian, who know him best, say Father Mychal would not have wanted his death any other way. The firefighters who found him carried his body out of the building and to a church where they laid him by the altar and, in the absence of priests, administered last rites themselves. Moments later, tower one collapsed, and the city slowly began counting its dead.
Sometimes legends are made, and sometimes they are born. The legend of Father Mychal Judge is a bit of both. It originated amid humble beginnings and ended with the death of a saint.
It is no accident, people say, that his death certificate lists him as victim 0001: if someone had to lead the firefighters to God, it was always going to be Father Mychal.
While he, like you and I was not perfect, one the worst day in recent American history he was there ministering to his flock.
May we never forget. Would like to hear from you so leave a comment if you like.
Do the bugs on your windshield keep you from seeing down the road? By John Thurman
With 37 years of experience as a professional counselor, I have heard these words multiple times a week. ”I want to do better.” I want to feel better.” “I want to have more for my family.” “I am sick and tired of my past tripping me up.”
Why is it that so many people seem to be stuck? Could part of it be the fact that we, as a culture don’t want to take personal responsibility? Are we looking for just the right pill, the right therapist, book, church or job? Or, could it be that we have encased in the negativity of the culture?
Did you know that there are four ingredients for success in any endeavor? Four simple principles that can change the course of your life. Dr. Tom Barrett, author of Dare to Dream, Work to Win, does an exceptional job of expanding on these basic ideas.
Ingredient # 1 - Determine what you want. Be very specific about what you want out of your business/ministry before you decide what you will put in it.
Measurable goals create focus, energy, and passion
A clear dream does at least two things:
It creates perspective
It develops perseverance
Ingredient # 2 - Decide what you are willing to reschedule or give up to get what you want. It is so important to be clear about what you want out of your business/ministry before you decide what you will put into it.
Ingredient # 3 - Associate with people who will help you get what you want.
Ingredient # 4 - Have a plan that works, then work the plan.
Now that we have the key ingredients lets mix them together. How do you blend these ingredients in a way that will produce a positive impact in your life?
Jesus calls us to live by faith, to trust God's plan, and at the same time, he expects us to work with him.
When I think of the man at the pool of Bethesda whom Jesus healed in the Gospel of John 5:1-9. Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, and told him to get up.
Is there an issue that you need to get up for. Let me challenge you this week to:
Photo by John Thurman
A Primer on Fear: What do Peaches have to do with Fear?
Zoe approached me during a lunch break at a conference I was speaking at in the Midwest. Once we sat down, she pensively leaned across the table and in a muted voice said, “I have a secret that I feel comfortable sharing with you.” “My team and my friends have no idea about how much fear I have to deal with on a day to day basis. Half of the time, just before I have to lead my team or do a talk, I feel like I am going to throw up. Sometimes, my mind is racing past Mach 2, and my heart rate is not far behind. There have even been a couple of occasions that I have canceled an event because I feared I could not perform and meet the expectations of the group.” After a few minutes of listening, I asked why she kept building her business, in spite of her fears. She replied, “I would rather push through the fear than have to go back work in an office. We both chuckled, and then I look into her eyes, leaning forward just a little and asked, “Zoe, where does that fear come from?” I hate to be a tease, but her story and many others will be in my upcoming book Get a Grip on Fear.
Fear can be a good thing. It is a profound biological instant that can prevent us from doing crazy things that could kill us. For example, if you are working in your back yard and see a snake slithering into hedges next to your house, well let’s put it this way, I doubt you are feeling peaceful and calm.
Several years ago Angie and I took our Jeep up to Ouray to do some 4-wheeling. It was summer time, so we drove with the top and doors off. As we made our way up the Million Dollar Highway out of Durango, it became apparent that this trip was going to be a bit of a process. When Angie saw how narrow the road could be and that there were no rails, well you get the picture. There is something dynamic when you are 12 inches away from a 1000 foot fall.
In both cases, this is a rational fear.
Fear can produce positive energy that moves us forward, helps us make a life change, and give us a new perspective. And while fear can protect us from pain and harm, it is not always rational and healthy.
Here are some thoughts about fear.
First, irrational fear is a very primal, gut function. It is a basic low-level brain function. While fear can become disarming, and lead to self-inflicted sabotage, it can be overcome. When we take some time to think through some of our fears, we will usually discover that those concerns are rooted in irrational thoughts.
Second, fear makes us cowards. A very common thing that we humans tend to do is frame our fears in ways that soothe our egos. You and I will say something like, “I am prudent and cautious. We might even say, “I am a little nervous.” Or you might say, something like, “It’s not that important.” Here is a huge life tip for you. If you want to start overcoming those irrational fears that keep you bound up you are going to have to call it what it is.
Instead of saying, “I am not doing this because it makes me nervous.” Try saying, “I am not going to do this because I am a coward, and I am scared spitless.” You will be amazed when your hear yourself say that, and that is the beginning of calling what it is. Trust me; this is a starting point.
Third, fear steals your integrity; It makes you hypocritical. Simply stated integrity means acting in a way wholly congruent with you values and beliefs. You know, when you want to do something and believe that it is the correct thing to do, but you fail to do it because of fear, you violate your core values. Living a “True North,” life, means living right to your principles will always include pushing back and overcoming your fears.
Fourth, fear leaves lament and regret. You and I have, and will continue to make missteps and mistakes, the key is, will I repeat the same screw ups again and again or will I learn from them and make the necessary adjustments to change the outcome. If you and I allow fear to keep us from seizing an opportunity when it comes our way, then that is “nobody fault but yours.” Instead, trust that when the Lord brings you an opportunity, that he will give you what you need to move towards is, but you have to get out of the boat.
Fifth, when you give into fear, you give up control, you step away from the steering wheel, which could be deadly. You see the Lord has given you life and choices, while he will guide you, he will not do the work for you. You see, when you are ruled by fear, you abdicate your responsibility. That is not a good thing. You see, you are the only one responsible for your life, no one else. At at the end of this race, you will give an account. I want to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Sixth, fear stifles your personal growth. There seems to be a universal principle is nature. You are either getting better, ripening. Or, you are ripe and ready to meet your full potential, or you are rotting.
Growing up in the South, and this was probably before child labor laws tightened up, I worked as a field hand in the Miami Valley Peach Orchard in Fort Valley, Georgia. Early in the morning, I would go out with the pickers as they picked their half-bushel bags and dumped them into boxes, each time they put the peaches in the box, they received a ticket, which could later be turned in for cash. The key was to pick them just before they became ripe so that they could be shipped fresh.
After the first picking, we would go back and pick a few ripe peaches. Now I have to tell you Mrs. Mullis owned the Fort Valley Dairy Queen, and in the summer, she would gather the peaches that were too ripe to ship and take them to her store. For a few weeks, you could order a fresh peach - vanilla shake, even writing about this treat is giving me flashbacks. If you could taste gold, it was in that delicious culinary from a fresh Middle Georgia Peach that was probably picked earlier that morning.
My second year in the Peach business, I worked for Wilson’s Packing Shed. The peaches were brought in from the field and prepared for shipping. In that process, there were two ways peaches were culled. The first was If there were imperfections the second was if they were overripe. Have you ever smelled rotting fruit? Pretty nasty. Well, imagine 20 to 30 bushels of over ripe and rotting peaches in the Middle Georgia heat and humidity. Thankfully, every day of so, that putrid odor of rotting peaches was removed.
Want to learn more about the history of peach farming, enjoy watching this video that was produced a few years ago.
Like peaches, there is a time that we are ripening; then there is a time that things are ready for picking. Unfortunately, fear may time cause spoilage.
Make it your goal to be a little bit better tomorrow that you were today. I do believe that is part of God’s will for your life.
I'd like your thoughts about this article. Please make a comment.
Nicolette’s Story: Have a God-Sized Dream
By John Thurman
On this deployment, my office was the old guard room of the facility. Most likely built in the late sixties or early seventies it was a triangles shaped room that had served its primary purpose but was now mine for the two weeks that I was "in country." The ominous, heavily armored, black door bore the marks of generations of paint. The bulletproof glass was covered with a colorful African print that reminded me of a dashiki that my wife made me back in the 70’s. The floors were covered with a dark green, glued down carpet, and the walls were a very familiar, "Sea Foam Green" that I had become used two after being in and around the military for most of my adult life.
James and I had visited several times during my TDY and today he was going to take me to a little Lebanese restaurant. I always enjoyed time with a kindred spirit. James is a career diplomat who is filled like an overflowing cup with joy and excitement about life and his various assignments. James saw every job as an opportunity to learn about the people and the local culture.
As we enjoy our Hummus be Tahini, Tabbouleh, Shwarma, cucumbers and yogurt and Pita bread he began to tell me about his administrator Nicolette.
As he began to tell me of her journey, my draw dropped in both bewilderment and amazement.
During the second Congo War, otherwise known as the Great African War, which began in 1998 and ended with a peace treaty in 2003. By the way, between 1998 and 2008 5.4 million people had died.
This was the background for Nicolette’s story.
During these dangerous days, there was indiscriminate killing, destruction rape, mutilation and every other type of degenerate behavior that people can do to each other. Men and women were being hacked to death. Women and girls were being raped, beaten, and forced into sexual slavery. Children were being kidnapped, and many were trained as soldiers.
Nicolette lived in the southeastern area of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and up to this point had managed to survive most of the carnage that was going on around her. As the violence, once again began to flare up in her region, Nicolette was facing a crucial choice, stay and take your chances and live in fear or leave and hope for a better, safer place to raise your children and make a life for yourself. She had an almost impossible God size dream.
After much prayer, and planning she made a courageous choice to begin an 800 kilometer (500 mile) track to freedom, and safety.
I know, you may be wondering about her husband, I did not ask about him, and the subject never came up.
Nicolette, like so many others in her country, was about to become a refugee. Over the next several months, she and her children began their long walk to safety. Some days they traveled with other refugees, other times, she and the children would go into the bush when they heard that military or rebel patrols were in the area. On some occasions, villagers or relief agencies would provide food, other days she had to count on foraging skills she learned as a little girl living near the jungle (Bush). During our conversation, she shared how God had provided for others but also how she was able to feed her children in the bush.
As she moved into the portion of her story about coming into Goma, she began to tear up and shared how humble and grateful she felt about arriving in this safe town. After walking 800 kilometers (approximately 500 miles) she and the children reconnected with family members who had made room for them and welcomed them with great joy and relief. Her initial dream was realized. Like Moses and the Children of Israel, she survived her exodus with the combination of hard work, the grace of God, and the kindness of strangers. She and her children finally enjoyed sleeping in real beds, eating regular food, enjoying the company of family and friends.
She felt blessed that she had taken the risk, pushed through the fear and made it to Goma.
She soon began looking for work and within a few days interviewed and was employed to be a medical assistant in a facility that treated girls and women who’d been raped, mutilated, and disfigured in many cases by soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Nicolette was not trained as a medical profession, but the nurses and doctors at the facility noted that she had the gift of mercy and was a great listener and encourager. She told me that she had listened to hundreds of hours of stories, that she had prayed with and encourages hundreds of girls and women in the time that she was working at the facility.
Nicolette shared how important this part of her life was to her. She believed that God had led her and spared her to be able to protect her children and to help others. She found a great sense of completeness while providing much-needed encouragement and support to others in this season of her life.
But there was a cost.
As God lead her through the circumstances of her life, she was able to move to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo and find stable, well-paying work.
In recent weeks over 200 people had been killed in the eastern part of DRC, In Kinshasa, there was palpable political pressure as the current president does not want to step down, while most of the population wants him to go away. With the current political strife and threatened increase in violence, Nicolette made a choice to come and see me.
The massive, armored door to my office was slightly cracked when I heard the muffled thump on the door. It was Nicolette.
She was a humble, gentle woman of faith who was dressed in the bright, bold, traditional colors called “pagne.” Despite all of the wars, oppression, corrupt government and challenging history of the Democratic Republic of Congo, along with many other sub-Saharan countries, these dynamic, colorful designs show the strength, resilience, and optimism of the people of the DRC. On this day she also wore a matching headscarf. Her outfit that day help me see some of the inner strength this woman had.
As we exchanged ‘Bonjour’s” she mentioned that she liked my accent as I made an attempt to give an appropriate greeting.
As we sat down, I asked here how I could help her today. To which she replied, “I have been having great difficulty sleeping and concentrating at work and home.” I sat and absorbed her words, intonation, and nonverbal cues to discern what she was trying to tell me. After a short pause, I asked her to share her story with me. For the next several minutes she brought to lite some of the parts of her journey, her work in Goma, and how her faith had grown and how much better her life was today.
Her mood and eyes suddenly became sad and tearful. She began to tell me about the flashbacks and memories that she was currently having. She kept saying she thought she’d put these behind her. As she continued to share her burden, I gently asked a few more questions; she told me that with all of the rising political descent and the troubles in the eastern part of the country, she was afraid that war would break out again.
As we talked, it was evident that she was dealing with some PTSD issues, but with the status of mental health in this part of the world, we needed to look or some practical things she could do until there could be an appropriate referral.
I asked her to tell me more about her faith and how it had helped her. I shared a few things about PTSD and how do manage it. One of the truths that I shared was the importance of finding meaning in the traumatic event. I also mentioned a phrase that intrigued her, I encouraged her by saying, “Don’t Waste the Pain.”
As Nicolette opened up, she began to articulate how she believed that it was part of God's plan to take the long walk, to work in the hospital with all of those girls and women and to place her in the job that she has today. During her time of answering my question, I was hoping that she would be able to see how the Lord was leading and guiding her through all of the ups and downs that she had experienced.
It was an almost miraculous moment when I watched the light bulb turn on. Nicolette sat up straight, with a hope-filled, determined look as a smile slowly revealed itself. She said, "I get it, God was there all along, he is with me now, and will be with me in the future." She went on to tell me how much better she was feeling. With that, our session ended. Over the next several days she checked in a couple of times to tell me how much better she was doing.
What motivated her to take the risks that she did for she and her children? What big dream did she have to help her find the faith, courage, resilience, and grace to make this trip happen.
First, like many ordinary people who accomplish incredible things with their lives, she had the almost impossible dream of getting her family to a safer place.
Second, she developed a plan with options to make it happen. She worked her plan, and she was prepared to the possible adversity that lay ahead. Looking back, she noted, “ I learned many lessons as a child that would teach me how to provide for my family on the darkest of days.
Third, she trusted God and served others. And while there is some residual pain as a result of this arduous journey, she is a stronger, more faithful servant of God for taking the trip.
She continues to enjoy working with James and the rest of her team. She is also actively involved in her church and ministers to girls and women in her community.
I will never forget the enduring strength of this incredible woman, and when I think I have some fears or troubles, I will remember her godly example.
Nicolette’s motivation, her God-sized dream gave her the courage to push through her fear and provided for her family.
That same spirit lives in you.
What is your “God Size Dream?”
Let me know what you think?
John is a Counselor, Author, Speaker and Photographer that helps people "Get a Grip on Life."