Love God’s Secret Ingredient To Life

Life is what you make of it.

Recently I found myself at a wedding of a good friend – someone who’d lost her husband of decades only a few short years ago.

“I never thought love would find me again,” she said.

We tend to think of the term ‘life’ as a chronological measurement. In fact, ‘life’ is what we experience between the bookends of the time between our birth and our passing in life. Life without experiences, both good and bad, is nothing more than minutes aimlessly ticking from a clock.

Love is not a singular experience as those of us who marry and have children learn firsthand. Our love may be unquestionable and without end, but our love for another is as unique as in individual fingerprint. Love simply grows and forms based on our relationship and experiences with another.

As a parent I love both of our children without question or end. And like any parent, I’d give everything – including my life – for them. But each one lives in a different part of my heart – one carved from the unique experiences of our lives together.

My friend discovered an amazing love decades ago. And for her, she lived a beautiful life where she was adored and treated as anyone could wish. But like life can be, health interrupted her journey.

That is until recently.

I believe love is a never-ending emotion – one God wishes us to give without ever glancing up at the scoreboard to see if it is returned from a recipient.

One day, a few years after having lost her love of decades, God again revealed his plan to my friend of how we should always keep our eyes and heart open for the opportunity to love again. This is not a mathematical equation of nor is it a one-and-out arrangement. Love is grown from our inner emotions searching for someone to share our lives and experiences with.

I’m not sure I’d ever seen a couple more closely intertwined on so many emotional levels as was our friend and her first husband. From them our children learned the lesson of how family is not defined by DNA but rather is built on a framework of love and respect for others.

But today begins another chapter for our dear friend. Love’s path sent her across state to a new town, new address, and a new life. One day, while sitting in the pews of her church, God unveiled her next chapter. A kind man, one who’d shared a similar journey in life of losing his long-time spouse to health, sat beside our friend. And in a very short time, the two began a friendship that blossomed into what is now a new beginning for each – one filed with love, respect, and companionship. Between them is a new love – one I’m sure is different for each of them – but a beautiful love all the same.

God simply wants us to love each other – I really don’t think it is much more complicated than that. And to have a front-row seat to His plan, reminds me of how beautiful life can be if we remember to never stop learning to love.

– 30 –

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Human Nature Is On Newspaper’s Side

 

Funny thing happened the other day to our local newspaper on the way to obscurity – my teenage daughter asked for a printed copy.

While the world media might be quick to put a fork in the printed media and declare them done, there just might be something lurking out there we can’t fully appreciate.

Recently my daughter went to a small concert in our community. Knowing our newspaper wouldn’t be staffing the event I suggested she might see about getting art and a cutline for us to publish. Armed with two friends and a cell phone, she left for the show.

The next morning I got up and found the photo emailed to me. Sitting down I quickly posted it to our newspaper website and shared the link to her Facebook account. Within minutes people recognized the drummer as a former child television star and her post became viral with her friends.

But then something odd happened.

“Think you can bring home copies of the paper for me and my friends?”

To be honest, I was stunned. Here was a child of the digital generation needing a physical copy of a newspaper to validate something she experienced. Suddenly, the digital version was second-rate when it came down to the ‘touching’ the experience.

Although I admit this is an unscientific piece of data, I do believe it helps to reinforce how we as humans instinctively harbor the need to touch the important things in our lives. While society races to embrace a digital world of communication, there is still an something inside of us driving us to validate our experiences with the tips of our fingers. Much like our urges to reach out touch someone we see in pain or high-five a stranger sitting next to us at a high school football game, the sense of touch is an instinctive and deeply personal emotional impulse hardwired in our human nature.

I realize each of us is awash in the noise of the digital explosion – a world where information can be published (or erased) with the simple act of a few keystrokes. Everything is instantaneous, yet somewhat impermanent. And our screens, much like our attention spans, refresh and change within minutes.

And then there is the printed newspaper: permanent in its final form and faithfully marking time and the world around it at the moment. And believe it or not, this means something to our individual psyche.

So even in today’s world, our printed newspaper carries a ‘secret sauce’ embedded like no other medium – an emotional connection driven by human nature. And this instinct, fortunately, is not generational exclusive as I recently discovered.

And for me, a veteran of the printed world of business for decades, it was nice to relearn this lesson through the eyes of a member of the digital generation.

– 30 –

Make Sense of the Non-Sensible

Sometimes all you can do is shake your head in disbelief.

Earlier this week I found myself standing in a local office attempting to order a service for our home. Easy enough — or so I thought.

As I approached the customer-service desk I smiled and said I’d like to begin an offer I’d read the night before on their website.

The young lady behind the counter was friendly and immediately began taking the needed information – that is until I told her which service I’d like to have installed.

“Oh,” she said in a serious voice, “that is only available online.”

Confused, I paused to let her words digest.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“Yes, that offer is only good if you do it online and call a customer service number,” she said.

I shared with her I’d in fact called the number the night before and waited on hold for over 10-minutes before finally throwing in the towel.

“I knew your office was right around the corner so I thought I’d come by here today and see you to take care of it,” I said.

The young lady again stated she couldn’t help me.

“But I’m standing right her in your business,” I said. “You mean I can’t get the service started up while I’m standing here?”

“No,” she said with the conviction as if she’d said it one hundred times before.

Confused I asked what seemed like an obvious question to me: “then why do you have this office?”

I wasn’t trying to be smart-aleck, but inside I was having a hard time understanding why I needed turn around, leave a bricks and mortar building with a live person sitting in front of me, and make a phone call to the very same company from another location.

Her blank stare told me all I needed to know.

Later that day – as crazy as it seems – I did as she said and called a toll-free number and soon found myself in a conversation with someone far outside my zip code (he had to help me with the spelling of his name).

Believe me, I can understand the need for businesses to make responsible decisions, but this one really leaves me disturbed. Here is a young lady, probably living in a local zip code, yet unable to complete a transaction by a person standing in their bricks and mortar building.  How does this work long-term? How many customers leave their offices feeling as if they’ve done something wrong by stopping by their office and visiting with a local employee?

Yes, I felt this way.

In the end, however, the employee did all she could within the scope of what her employer allowed her. I honestly believe this. But what I will never understand is how a live, actual customer with money to spend is told they must leave, go home, and call them to do business.

– 30 –

Entering The Age Of Eccentricity

 

I can honestly say I am more comfortable in my skin than ever. While a few of my sarcastic friends might point to my increasing collections of a wrinkle here and there as the reason, I really find the difference between my ears.

As you get older you body tends to ‘reallocate’ or ‘redistribute’ certain portions to places you never intended them to rest. As much as I try, my body will never wear a 28-inch waist again as gravity has invited a few portions previously located about a foot north of the beltline to permanently relocate in a more southern locale. Granted the only six-pack I ever had in college contained barley and hops, I’m learning to adjust my expectations. In a strange twist, I feel as if I am entering what I will call ‘the age of eccentricity’.

Not to be insensitive, but I am increasingly recognizing it is okay to follow in the steps of those crazy people we all knew growing up. You know the ones – the guy who always wore red socks, refused to trim his eyebrows, or iron his shirts. The world is full of these aspiring (inspiring) individuals who at one point of another said ‘enough, I’ll be who I am’ and check out of the mainstream.

While I don’t plan to emulate the peculiar college instructor of the classroom where my wife  and I first met (massive comb-over and two different wristwatches on his left arm), I am increasingly recognizing it is the ticks of these very people who make them so interesting. And if you’ll admit it, we probably all either know someone like this or find ourselves increasingly moving towards this end.

My aunt insisted in driving only a red car as she thought it was somehow safer. While we all quietly smiled in the background, this was important to her and until her final days, she did just that. Afterwards we came to appreciate her little eccentricities as just another manifestation of her individualism rising to the top. She really didn’t care what statistics said or what people might say behind her back. In the end, what she felt comfortable with mattered most so long as it didn’t harm anyone else.

This comes to mind as my wife remarked it might be a good idea to iron a favorite linen shirt I am wearing today. While I recognize her suggestion for more than a mere remark intended to help me, I also know I like to wear linen or cotton shirts ‘au naturel’. They just plain feel better on my skin – and I like it that way.

This brings me to a stranger approaching me in public one day in saying, “Man, you’ve got some wild-ass hair there.”  While we both smiled, I found myself taking absolutely no offense at his remarks. Much like the guy who stopped trimming his eyebrows in the 1990’s, I’ve become comfortable with the way my hair wants to grow out of my head in all directions and different shades of black and grey. It is what it is.

I don’t really know where this new phase will lead me – or do any of us. That is just a part of the journey of life. What I do know is that with each day I find myself becoming more comfortable in my skin (insert sarcastic remark here) and I’m looking forward to the ride. 

 

– 30 – 

 

 

 

 

Life From the 50-Yard Line Great

 

They say youth is wasted on the young. Today, as I am not sitting squarely on the 50-yard line of life, I finally get it.

I am sure everyone has found himself or herself uttering the phrase “If I knew at (fill in age) what I know now…”. We all know hindsight is 20/20, but the real value is the perspective we gain over time. Sure, we might now know what stock to purchase a few years back or what team to pick to win the World Series, but I truly believe the most valuable thing we gain is a better understanding of what truly matters in life.

I remember going through college my dream was to own little convertible with a computer capable of the then-new technology of desktop publishing in the trunk. The world was mine and with these two tools, I could do anything, anywhere.

Fast-forward a few years and I found the entire picture drastically changed. Married with a career and child on the way, my value system began to evolve.  Add a few more years and I’d continue to grow and change. Granted, not perfect (men generally tend to struggle maturing, let’s be honest), but making progress all the same.

So here I am at the 50-yard line of life.

Yes, I know who won the Super Bowl for the past couple years or when the right time was to buy Apple stock, but with each passing year I come to realize the most important things in life are those around me. My wife, children, and friends all make up the foundation of my happiness. Without them, I’d be as hollow as a single resident holed up in a 10,000 square foot mansion.

No matter how much I thought I loved a material object, parting with it never made much of a difference in my life. Sure I’ve extended the term ‘love’ to a few cars I’ve owned or our a house we owned, but in the end, parting with them never caused me any real pain. Losing a friend or family member, however, stays with you for a very long time.

My wife and I now have watched our children become adults before our very eyes. The process is simply mesmerizing.

And as parents we hope to share nuggets of wisdom with them, but we also remember how at their age we thought we had all the answers. Advice from our parents or their friends was received with, well, polite amusement.

And it is right here on the 50-yard line that these lessons, like most everything else in life, I realize must be earned. Mistakes, heartbreak, and all that goes along with the ups and downs in life are just part of paying our personal dues. Without them, the foundation of life is built on flimsy, shallow word verses a solid base forged from genuine experiences.

The view is good from here at mid-field. I can look back to one side and see today’s youth discovering and uncovering the truths of life. And to the other side I see a world of happy content people who are looking over at me, welcoming to age of enlightenment that only comes with time. Darn, these are really good seats.

 

– 30 –