Monday, December 31, 2012

A beautiful person . . .

As promised, I've certainly not posted every day. Today, I am inspired to post and here is the quote I'll refer to:
“Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.” - Markus Zusak
Today, the world lost a beautiful person. My uncle, David Moore, passed away quietly after a long, difficult struggle with cancer. The cancer resided in his throat, which silenced this man, who had been a gifted preacher throughout his life. My Uncle Dave, as we called him, was always a quiet inspiration. Soft spoken, except occasionally when addressing his children, Uncle Dave had a subtle way of getting his message across.

If I were to list individuals who have been most instrumental in my spiritual formation, Uncle Dave would be on that list. I can remember spending time in his home during the summers, with my sisters and cousins. On Saturday evenings, we were to be quiet - this was when Uncle Dave would be doing final preparations for his sermon the next day. One evening, we had a particularly difficult time keeping quiet and when Uncle Dave raised his voice, one of my cousins, his daughter, responded "well, Dad, if you wouldn't wait until the last minute to write your sermons . . .", to which he replied, pointing to his temple, "I haven't waited until the last minute, I've had it in here all week."

I'm not sure why that interaction stuck in my head. It is likely something nobody else remembers, but I have used that story many times when teaching Sunday school classes or leading Bible studies. Preparation isn't just about the visible effort. Most of the time, the bulk of work in life is indeed done within the mind.

Uncle Dave was all about being a Christian during the time I knew him. Occasionally in his sermons, he would reveal a different Dave, one who had a bit of a wild side when he first met my grandparents, who would become his in-laws. He was a hard-worker who clearly loved his wife and his children deeply, with a dry sense of humor and a gentle smile. He probably never knew how much he influenced my life or the lives of the many he touched through his ministry and his being.

I'm a better person because I knew him. Rest in peace, Uncle Dave.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A new endeavor

My son recently started writing a blog and reading it has reminded me how much that end-of-day reflection can influence the outcomes for the following days. I decided to take on a personal challenge - to write in my blog more often. If you look back through this blog, you'll see how unlikely it is that I will achieve this, but I think I'll at least do it today.

My thought was that I could find inspiration in quotes and expound upon them. My desire would be to leave gems of wisdom for my children, since really nobody reads this blog (except you, Andrea, my friend!). At the same time, though, my hope is that I can turn what has become a new chapter in my life into an introspective period of personal growth.

The quote for today is this:
“Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.” - Richard L. Evans
I took a plunge - not the first one I've taken in my life - two months ago when I quit my full-time, fairly secure job in the pursuit of a career I have more control over. I started my own business and now am either at home taking care of home things, at home doing work for clients, or traveling for clients. I've never been one to let fear keep me from pursuing my dreams. Sometimes, this has left me scrambling to fix something I've messed up because of that pursuit, but every single time I have grown from the experience.

I chose this quote because I see life having way too much power over people. In today's instant-gratification atmosphere, people, especially young ones, tend to think they should be able to achieve their end goal first, without having to take the tiny steps that are required to get there.

When they do this, they are cheating themselves. First, it is very unlikely they will reach their end goal if they don't take the right paths to get there. Second, even if they do manage to achieve the end goal, maybe by luck or chance, maybe because of who they know, or because of some cosmic favor, they have missed out on the lessons along the way.

In my life, I have experienced many things that I wish I hadn't - Loss of loved ones, divorce, a child with cancer, personal addictions, personal shortcomings - but each of those events built a little piece of me. The experiences themselves were really a way to get to the end goal, disguised in disappointment, despair, and pain. As I experienced difficulty, my soul was shaped a little more like it needs to be to find and understand happiness. With each trial, both the journey and the closure gave new sight to my vision. If I had not experienced these things, I would not know how precious the good stuff is.

Today, my life is so joy-filled that I wonder sometimes when the next trial is coming. I'm not saying I have no worries. I worry a lot about my children, their emotional and physical health, and I also worry sometimes about my business and whether it will generate enough income to support my share of the family expenses. Yet in the midst of stressers such as these, nothing I encounter today is as bad as what I've already been through. Further, I know that if some huge catastrophe came along tomorrow, I will make it through, and I will find another piece of meaning in my life.

The first step to achieving whatever it is you want in life is to start where you are. Whatever life has dealt you thus far is in the past. Whatever life is about to toss your way is in the future. The only time that we have control over is this moment.

Begin where you are, remember where you've been, move towards where you want to be. And grow.