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Archive for the ‘Difficult Decisions’ Category

 

 

Yesterday, I turned fifty. It doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true. I’ve been told that 50 is the new 30. Not quite sure what that means. I am certain it doesn’t mean I have the body of a thirty-year old. Perhaps it implies that I will live longer. That would be okay. But if it means that I have the mental maturity of a thirty-year old, I think I’ll pass. I only wish I knew at thirty what I know now. Still, I often feel the older I get, the less I know.

I haven’t posted to this blog in a while, and I wish I kept up with it more, but I thought in honor of this milestone, I would post fifty things I have learned thus far in life. Some of the things listed are original, some are paraphrased, and others are borrowed. They are loosely ordered, but all of them reflect the man I am at this point in my life.

I have learned  . . .

  1. I am made in God’s image.
  2. My aim is to know myself and be true to who I am.
  3. I should trust my heart, gut, and intuition, in spite of popular opinion.
  4. I must be the man I am, not the man others expect me to be. That is true integrity. Anything less is a lie.
  5. Honesty is the best and only policy.
  6. True love is unconditional.
  7. Everyone wants, needs, and deserves to be loved.
  8. True love is a rare and precious treasure, yet oh so hard to find.
  9. It is better to be hated for what you are, than to be loved for what you are not.
  10. Human chemistry is elusive, undefinable, and irreplaceable.
  11. People give you gifts they want.
  12. Many blessings are disguised.
  13. Travel cures myopia.
  14. Karma is a witch. (my paraphrase)
  15. There are some things you will never understand until they happen to you.
  16. An open mind is a terrible thing not to have.
  17. Big boys don’t cry, but men do. (Thanks, Dr. Phil!)
  18. The most important things in life aren’t things.
  19. Less is more.
  20. Change only comes when courageous people take a stand. If no one speaks out, nothing changes.
  21. First impressions are often dead wrong.
  22. I no longer tell it like it is. I tell it the way I see it.
  23. Speak the truth in love.
  24. Two people can view the same thing and see something totally different. Perception is not reality.
  25. The right to be angry gives you no right to be cruel.
  26. Forgiveness brings freedom.
  27. The older I get, the more liberal I become.
  28. Diversity makes the world a beautiful place.
  29. Tolerance means we put up with diversity. Acceptance means we embrace it.
  30. Apathy kills. Empathy heals.
  31. Grace is truly amazing.
  32. When people show you who they are, believe them! (Thanks, Maya!)
  33. If they’ll do it with you, they’ll do it to you. (Dr. Phil, again.)
  34. Every word that comes across a pulpit is not gospel. (I learned this one the hard way.)
  35. God did not create religion. Man did.
  36. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
  37. Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
  38. Nobody can pray for me like my mama and daddy.
  39. There is no place like my Mama’s table.
  40. Being Nathan’s uncle is my greatest joy.
  41. Family is where I belong. Friends are my family, too.
  42. My colleagues are my heroes. My students are my angels.
  43. I cannot live without books and music.
  44. Autumn in the mountains is one step away from Heaven.
  45. Paraguay is a wonderful place with no reasons why.
  46. To Kill a Mockingbird is the best book ever written and the best movie ever made.
  47. Dogs are really angels in disguise.
  48. Fear not. Do not be afraid. Let not your heart be troubled.
  49. This life ain’t all there is.
  50. Jesus loves me, this I know!

There is so much I don’t understand, and so much I have yet to learn. I hope I never stop learning, and never stop being a seeker of truth.  I know there are some things I will have to take on faith. By default, faith indicates there will be unanswered questions. At fifty, I don’t know it all, but I’m grateful for what I’ve learned.

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The story of “The Rat Trap” reminds me of a quote/poem attributed to Rev. Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), a Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi activist who survived imprisonment in Dachau concentration camp during World War II. There are several versions of this poem, but they all make a powerful statement just the same. This is the version used by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

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A rat looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a rat trap. Retreating to the farmyard the rat proclaimed the warning, “There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Rat, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”

The rat turned to the pig and told him, “There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!” “I am so very sorry Mr. Rat,” sympathized the pig, “but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured that you are in my prayers.”

The rat turned to the cow. She said, “Like wow, Mr. Rat! A rat trap. I am in grave danger. Duh?”

So the rat returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s rat trap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a rat trap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife.

The farmer rushed her to the hospital. She returned home with a fever. Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. His wife’s sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer’s wife did not get well. She died, and so many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.

So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when there is a rat trap in the house, the whole farmyard is at risk.

Today was the first day of pre-planning for teachers. We were in training all day, but during a break a friend and fellow teacher told me how the story of “The Rat Trap” affected the life of her son. I have asked her to tell her story in the comment section of this post, so make sure you check out the comments.

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I called my long-time friend and colleague Shelia today to ask for some advice. My female dog Aubrey is 17 years old, and her age is starting to show. Many of her bodily functions are failing, yet she shows no signs of suffering. She still has a light in her eyes, and her tail still wags. Still, I know the inevitable is not too far away. Shelia is the most knowledgeable and experienced dog person I know. I guess what I really wanted was for Shelia to tell me what to do. She couldn’t do that, but she gave me a lot of information and told me that I would know when it was time to let Aubrey go.

Shelia is also one of the most intuitive people I know. Our phone conversation ended with a discussion of some unique spiritual experiences we have had that some people might not believe nor understand. Shelia shared one recent experience that might make the average listener incredulous, but I’ve known Shelia long enough to know that if she said it happened, then it happened.

Before we said goodbye, several quotes started popping into my head. I shared them with Shelia, and now I share them with you . . . .

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

 

You’ve heard it said, “I’ll have to see it to believe it,” but perhaps you’ll have to believe it to see it.

—paraphrased from an NBC Dateline special

 

If there were no unanswered questions there would be no need for faith.

—paraphrased from Menachem Daum, a Holocaust survivor,

in his documentary Hiding and Seeking

 

I’d rather die believing than live doubting.

—Unknown

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