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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Humor Me Luke...

Do you have a mentor, someone in your life who inspires and challenges you to be the best you can be?
A mentor and inspiration to me was a man named Ted Hirsch.  I began working for Ted when I was twenty years old, and worked for him the next six years.  Ted owned a local farm and home supply store, I worked there every Saturday while attending college, and getting started in my career.  One of the tasks I had on Saturday was to do the store inventory so Ted could prepare the ordering for the upcoming week.  Every so often, something in my count wouldn't seem right to Ted, and he would gently ask me to check on it again.  I was often resistant to his urging, and would tell him I was sure my count was correct, and he would always reply "humor me Luke, just humor me."  Upon this request, I would go and check, and typically found that he was right.  Through his example, I learned a lot about the success of a solid work ethic.  I want to share with you today some qualities I saw in Ted that he passed on to me.  Through these next few things, I ask you to look deep inside yourself, challenge yourself to always give one-hundred percent, and do your best.  You can have a powerful and positive influence on someone's life by the one that you lead.

Be consistent in your personal growth. Don't stand still.  Seek out ways to learn every single day.  What are you passionate about?  What energizes you?  Do those things, do them often.

Complete the task at hand.  Make a goal, see it through, succeed or fail.  Do what you say you are going to do.

Re-set daily.  Take time in your day to mentally re-focus and re-charge.  It could be as simple as stepping out for a bowl of soup mid-day like Ted used to do.

What will you do today?  Will you work hard to be the best you can be?  You're going to face adversity, you're going to face struggles. You're going to shine through it. 

Until next time.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Just a glance.

Have you ever considered the power of just a glance? It could be a gentle look of love, a hot dart of passion, a dagger of judgment, a silent cry for help, or just a blank and apathetic stare.
This weekend I was with my three kids at a major retailer, and things were going pretty well! No meltdowns, not too much whining, a lot of laughing, and good manners. All in all, I was winning the battle of parenting that day. As I stepped into the checkout line and began to unload the cart, my little natives began to be restless.  My eldest son started dancing in place, my daughter went down the list of the 150 impossible to answer questions in 20 seconds, and my youngest just requested I purchase him gum, over and over and over and over.....
As I placed my final item on the conveyor belt, I looked up at the cashier and noticed her seemingly unhappy, disapproving, and judgemental glances directed toward us. 
At first, I wanted to react negatively, throw my own version of a furled eyebrow in her direction, but this time, I stopped.  I suddenly softened my defensiveness and considered that I have no idea what her life is like. I had no idea what she may be experiencing today. As this thought crossed my mind I decided to do something contrary to my nature. I decided to offer a gentle warm gaze with a smile. Not an angry "how dare you judge us" look that was my initial reaction, but something that may make her day better, even just for a moment.  After I did this, I noticed her countenance change significantly. The look of disdain disappeared from her face, she even reached down underneath her drawer and gave my kids stickers!
I want to live better, I want to be more positive. I want to show others love and respect.  
We can do this together. Sometimes all it takes is just a glance.
Until next time.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Why We Remember.

Ten years ago this week the lives of my family changed forever. A decision made by a man to drive while intoxicated took the life of my then five year old niece, Megan Thomas. I remember every detail of that night. From being detoured on my drive home from work, to the call from my Dad to hurry to the fire hall to find out which hospital the helicopter was going to transport her to. The looks on the faces of the volunteer EMS personnel who were on scene. My brother Sam's pale hands clutched together to keep from trembling while driving him to the hospital (not aware yet of the outcome, only knowing that she had been hurt). The hug from my Dad as he whispered "she's gone" in my ear, and so much more.  

I want to tell you why we remember Megan. 

We remember because we want to.
We want to share and relive every precious moment that we were able to spend together.  There is not a day that goes by that I don't embrace my kids and think about the strength that my brother and Sister in Law, Sam and Marcy, possess. They hurt, and they live on, encouraging others through their lifestyle.

We remember because we love.  In the past ten years, we have grown closer as a family. We hug more, we say "I love you" more, we are more sensitive and understanding of others pain. We allow ourselves to be a little more vulnerable. We recognize the brevity of life.

We remember in order to forgive.  Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things you will ever have to take on in this life. It is not natural, but it is necessary in order to continue living your life through the pain. It can be a daily process, and struggle. Bitterness will destroy the person you were made to be. 

You may have experienced personal tragedy, we all will experience loss. We can choose to live a life filled with positive remembrance, and make this life one worth living.
Until next time. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

For better or worse (three ways to love your spouse better than you are right now).

This coming August, my wife and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, and 22nd year together in a committed relationship. Among the chaos of our daily career, social activities, raising three amazing kids, and finding a balance there within, I find myself searching for ways to show Bridget how, even though our lives are constantly changing, my love for her has not, and that it has actually grown each and every day we live our lives together. Here are three things that I've found that we can do to show our spouse just how much we love them.

 1.  Be an active listener.  We all have something to say, and we all want to be heard.  We will have that opportunity if we start by taking a step back and finding the key to communication; listening.  In raising three kids under the age of ten, our uninterrupted time of key communication is limited, so very often I need to really focus on what Bridget is saying to me. If I don't focus on this, we become disconnected, and our relationship suffers.

2.  Daily affirmation.  Six weeks ago my best friend and I decided to run a short experiment, which was as follows; every day for a week, we made an intentional statement of affirmation (written, or verbal)  with the purpose of letting our wives know what we love about them.  There were positive results! Who doesn't love to be told what is amazing about themselves?  Confidence is sexy! Doing this small act helps us to transition from a mindset of selfish love, to selfless love.

3.  Give them space.  Everyone needs some down-time. Encourage your spouse to spend some time doing something they love, spend time with their friends, or just to use the bathroom without the kids or dog in tow! 

Fact is, all of these things require some effort on our part, and yet, a little bit of effort can yield unprecedented results! So rise above and take the initiative! Your spouse deserves it. 
Until next time.