Capturing Memories Key to Happy Life

 

This week millions of people are preparing a list of goals for the coming year. Lose a few pounds, exercise more, or maybe eat a bit healthier. We all, even if we don’t commit them to paper, find ourselves performing our own personal interpretation of this time-honored ritual.

But before we get cast off from another year, I’d invite everyone to take a moment to pause and think back over the past twelve months and remember the good things you’d like to take with into the coming year – particularly the memories.

A full life is built one day at a time – and our memories are one of the most valuable items we can ever own.

Recently my life was blessed by crossing paths with a woman who created a remarkably simple and effective tool to help her capture just such memories.

Standing on the sidewalk, she shared with me how she and her husband made an effort this past year to capture and then relieve the highlights of their year.

“We keep this crystal jar on the table,” she said. “We named it the Joy Jar.”

I could see tears welling up in her eyes as she spoke.

“Every time something wonderful happens or there is a memory we’d like to keep, we write it down on a small scrap of paper and put in in the jar. Over Thanksgiving we sat down and began going through it – we found movie tickets and just little moments in life that we wanted to make sure we’d remember.”

The tears on her face were very real at this point.

As we reached out and touched hands I knew our meeting was not just random moment – life was teaching me another lesson through the emotions of her voice and the tears from her eyes.

A few moments later we hugged and wished each other the best for the holiday season. She returned to her car with her husband where her husband waited and I began to walk across the parking lot to where I’d parked. The experience, however, refused to let go of me.

I thought about how her resolution was so much more meaningful than anything I’d made at the first of the year — and her’s would forever pay amazing dividends to she and her husband. While I’d committed to losing a few pounds and giving up eating cookies, she and her husband were reliving beautiful moments in their lives because of their commitment to remember life. While we all tell ourselves we won’t forget a moment in life, there is nothing like a tangible reminder in the palm of our hand to unleash a flood of memories.

So with start of another year I will begin creating a depository of great memories. It could be as simple as a mason jar or even just an interesting bowl I find on a clearance shelf. But because of this chance meeting with a stranger – or life – I will always keep a ‘Joy Jar’ in my life.

 

– 30 –

 

 

 

 

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God’s Hand Touches Lives Everywhere

Sometimes God just reaches down and touches us.

I am sitting with a friend for lunch. The restaurant is busy – the type of busy where you only casually notice who else is in the building with you.

“Hello,” says a voice to my friend. “How are you?”

A young lady with brilliant eyes is standing next to our table – excited to see my friend.

“Oh,” he says, “I didn’t recognize you,” my friend says, genuinely apologizing.

“It’s okay,” she says, “you probably aren’t used to seeing me with hair.”

My friend, as he says, is a cancer doctor.

God has a plan for each of us – only He is pretty darn good at keeping the cards close to His chest and asking us to trust in Him.

My friend, I believe, is doing God’s good work here on earth.

I’m not talking about ‘good’ as in the sense of a good hamburger or a good day, but rather good with a capital “G” – as if God directly intervenes or selects you to be His direct liaison in life.

I reached out to shake the hand of the young lady standing next to us.

After sharing her name she says the most telling statement.

“I’m one of his patients – I mean former patients. I’m a survivor.”

My friend is a man of God. He is humble and kind. His demeanor is one I know God would look approvingly upon. My friend is the perfect man for the role on earth he’s been selected to perform.

Faith is an odd thing – much like our appreciation of fog. We know it is real, however, if we reach out to touch it – employing our human instincts to confirm it’s existence – we welcomed by our fingers slipping effortlessly through the air.

And to have faith that God is in our lives and helping direct us to his wishes is much like this – we know it and feel it, but we can’t confirm it in any tangible way until it is absent.

My friend is just such a man. His faith is strong. Each day God calls upon him to face challenges many of us can only imagine. And with each new patient, another part of his heart is occupied. But regardless of the day, my friend recognizes and thanks God for his blessings and His guidance in daily life.

Each of us is, as a believer, is lead by our faith in God’s choices for us. Our lives may be uneven or choppy, but we understand His hand and faith is behind us. His support is what I believe what helps those who are chosen to follow particularly challenging pathways in life, the confidence and courage to carry forward even during the most difficult times in life.

The woman smiles broadly. The words ‘survivor’ carry a very special meaning to her – a word now revealed to her as forever literally defined to her as to meaning  “life or death.”

My friend smiles and waves across to her friend, a young man in a hat.

I’ve seen my friend on good days. I’ve seen my friend on other days. His emotions and compassion are as real as my touching the keyboard my fingers dance across.

But the one thing I know for sure is that God hand-selected him to do His work here on earth.

– 30 –

Learning to Serve Is Carroll’s Secret

 

This will be my final column as publisher for the Times-Georgian.

As many of you know, I absolutely love Carroll County. A move, such as the one before me, is not made without deep thought, prayer, and consideration. I believe in my heart that Carroll County is a very unique and special place – a place I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to serve over the past seven years.

Writing this column is difficult.

Over the past years we’ve become closer through the pages of the Times-Georgian. In this space we shared our lives, our emotions, and our dreams for the future. And for me, you’ve been a blessing. At critical moments in life many of us have crossed paths at the grocery store or maybe the post office only to laugh or share a hug. If I’ve learned anything in life it is that we all travel a similar pathway – one filled with desires for a better world for our children, our love for our family, and the emotions beneath the changes that impact our loved ones. So universal, you’d be hard-pressed to find a corner in the world were these truths are not universally regarded at key pieces in the puzzle of life.

Carroll County has changed me – and for the better. I believe with the help of those in the community, I’ve learned to be a better father, husband, and parent. Our community is awash in great role models – those who openly praise and spread love to everyone they meet. Learning from these individuals is only natural as if through the magic of osmosis.

But if asked to select someone who helped form me as a publisher, I’d have to point to my long-term friendship with the late Stanley Parkman.

Mr. Parkman, or Stanley as he insisted I call him, and I first met in 1996 his back office here at the Times-Georgian. I was new and getting ready to take my first publisher position. Stanley, retired for over a decade, was ready to pass along some of the wisdom of his years. But what I learned was not all about financials and how to write a good lead paragraph, but rather how to conduct one’s self in life. In his eyes, being a publisher for a local newspaper was both an honor and trust. A publisher is a temporary steward at best – “The newspaper was here before you and will be after you leave,” he said.

Community service – or the act of taking care of those around you – was more than lip service in Stanley’s opinion. When needed or you and your position can help others, you should follow your heart and step forward all you’ve got to offer.

His words stuck – and I simply honored his advice. If there is one thing I learned in Carroll County is that there are many ‘silent soldiers’ serving those in need. Everywhere I looked I found these individuals willing to allow me to work alongside them to help others. And my discovery of what I will call ‘the joy of serving others’ is the one of the greatest secrets to life I learned while here in Carroll County.

So as I bring to a close my window at the Times-Georgian, I will freely admit Carroll County and the people here changed me – and for the better. For that I will always be indebted to each of you. I am truly blessed to have been able to share these past seven years with you.

May God bless you and your family.

 

– 30 –

 

 

 

The Impending Death of “I don’t know”

 

I believe we, as a society, are on the cusp of witnessing the death of the time-honored phrase “I don’t know.”

“Hey, Google,” said the voice across the room the other night.

My son, looking down at his tablet computer, spoke as casually as if he were speaking to a friend sitting next to him.

“How many miles it is to Kansas City?”

A voice – a quasi computer-influenced female voice – quickly repeated the question and then seamlessly spoke and displayed the answer on his screen.

In that moment I realized that he and his generation may never need to regularly employ the phrase “I don’t know.”

Today’s technology may potentially drive this popular combination of words from the common vernacular of many people – including me. The other morning I caught myself getting ready to ask my wife what the temperature was outside that morning – only to pull out my phone and get my own answer. Add to the fact I was standing 24-inches from the front door and could easily have stuck my head outside made me realize how my own behaviors are being shaped by technology.

Growing up I learned the phrase of “I don’t know” was a sign of maturity – a moment when you were confident to admit you might not know everything and willing enough to say so. And more times than not, our natural intellectual curiosity would motivate us to seek an answer. Only then, we might discover ourselves in a library of books or seeking out someone who could shed some light on our curiosity.

Today all we need to do is speak a handful of words into our computers.

The generation of those who are native to the digital world, not knowing something only means they’ve not yet asked the question to either their tablet, smartphone, or computer. The act of seeking out people of experience or knowledge is somewhat inconvenient and not a particularly good use of time in their eyes.

The world – or a great amount of the knowledge contained in it – is increasingly at our fingertips (or voice command). The process of searching and assembling information into solution may very well be on the way out for the newer generations.

I do not know how to tie a bow tie. Therefore my son and I never shared a poignant moment where I passed along this very special skill from one generation to the next. This, however, was not a problem to him the day he needed to perform this duty — he simply turned to his computer and watched a short video. Problem solved.

I’m not sure where this hyper-rate of knowledge distribution will lead or what the unintended consequences of how younger minds are developed will be. But I do know the future will be a radically different place – one where the answer may very well be viewed more valuable than the knowledge gained along journey the learning process. The world may very well evolve into one where answers are more valuable to most people than the ability to form a plan to acquire a solution to a problem.

Is this good? I really don’t know – maybe I’ll just need to ask my computer.

 

– 30 –

Dear Santa…a letter from Carroll County, GA

Dear Santa:

I’m told Carroll County is in your travel plans for the latter part of December – specifically the night of December 24th if my sources are correct.

That said if I could I’d like to share a few thoughts with you as you prepare your annual swing through.

We’ve a very special community here – we are truly blessed with wonderful people. You’d be hard pressed to find a place where strangers come together so eagerly to help others. After getting the opportunity to work alongside a great many of these people (it would be impossible for me to get to everything as I don’t have access to that magic time-bending dust your elves prepare for you each year) I believe in my heart Carroll County is truly a special place.

And it does not end with people – we’ve so many businesses in town that put on countless community-oriented events to help those in need. Southwire, for example, is a truly wonderful company who tirelessly works to reach out through drives to gather toys for children, collect and distribute school supplies, and sending items across the country when natural disasters occur. They are a blessing to our community.

Tanner Healthy Systems is another – always looking for opportunities to contribute to our community not to mention the countless individuals they minster to those that cannot afford medical services. When there is a need, Tanner is there for us.

I’m not sure what form of government you have in the North Pole but we use a representative model – everyone here can vote for who we’d like to see managing our services while the rest of us are out busy with our day jobs and family commitments. And to be honest, we’ve a good group in place. From the County to the cities that dot our community, everyone seems to work in good faith towards the greater good. I don’t have to tell you, you probably won’t find too many of them on your ‘naughty list’. For that matter, even our sheriff is one really good guy.

But with all these good things going for us, we’ve still a few items I’d like to mention to you as you prepare for your whirlwind tour. We still have people searching for jobs in order to support their families. While community giving is wonderful, an opportunity to get up each morning and put in a days work to provide for your family is very special to each of us. It makes us feel whole. If you know of any opportunities for employers looking for a great place to bring their businesses, could you put them in touch with Brian Dill or Daniel Jackson over at the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce? Heck, we might even be able to help you with any over-capacity issues (just putting it out there).

Also, our community is filled with what we call ‘mom and pop’ businesses – much like yours is up at the North Pole. I am sure you know the challenges a small business faces at each turn. Well, we’ve some absolutely wonderful people here who pour their day and nights into building a successful business. All of us here value them greatly as they are just another part of those who step forward to the help others. Plus, their businesses help generate tax revenues which allow us to run such a special community. If you should find yourself needing any last-minute items, I would imagine you’d be hard-pressed to find people more willing to help you out.

So as you prepare your travel plans, just know we are thrilled for you to visit us. On balance we are really in good shape. We are blessed with people and businesses with giant hearts and a burning desire to help others – and we know that is special.

But as you stop by to visit the children this season, please remember to keep us in your thoughts. We are blessed but a few unexpected ‘gifts’ for those in need will always be appreciated.

Travel safely,

Changing the World One Footstep at a Time

 

Success in life is not always measured by the almighty dollar.

“The lady was crying, tears running down her face, and speaking in Spanish.”

Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, is speaking about the moment his life changed forever.

TOMS is Mycoskie’s company based around the ‘One for One’ model he invented – donating a pair of shoes to children for each and every pair sold.

For Mycoskie, this moment happened in a small village in Argentina. A woman, with three small children in tow, is standing in front of him weeping emotionally. Mycoskie and his friend, a local, are packing up their small van filled with shoes they’d just shared with local children and preparing to drive to the next small rural community.

“So I turned to my friend and asked him to help me out. At first I thought she was upset – and then I began to see tears develop in his eyes and I knew something else was going on.”

Not everyone has a closet filled with shoes. As a matter of fact, for too many in the world, a pair of shoes is a necessity many people value like clean water and a roof over their heads. This woman and her children are just these people.

“So my friend turns to me and begins telling me about how this woman’s three children share a single pair of shoes – a black pair of men’s lace up oxfords – to walk to school.”

The shoes are ill fitting — and because of this, are extremely uncomfortable. The shoes cut into the boy’s ankles and bleed, leaving scabs and scars. But in this rural area, the boys need a pair of shoes to walk to school. And in this woman’s home, the each of the boys take turns wearing the shoes so they can attend school.

As Mycoskie’s friend relays his story to him, a wave of emotion and clarity washes over him. Beyond food, water, and roof over their heads, an education is key to helping anyone move from one stage level in life to another. And it is just what this woman dreams for her children – to live a life better than hers. To be able to live in a world where these daily worries of what most of us take for granted are not a daily challenge to overcome.

“It was right then I realized I’d found my calling,” said Mycoskie said, emotion leaking into his voice.

Although Mycoskie is young, he’s already found one of the most rewarding keys to life: there is a level of reward not measured by dollars and cents. A level beyond the monthly financial reports, a level beyond pouring over marketing materials and lining up shipments of product to vendors. A level, honestly, very few people in this world will ever find.

Through the tears of one woman, this young entrepreneur discovered his calling – to use his talents to help people in need through a sustaining business model. His ‘One for One’ model is literally changing lives around the world – one footstep at a time.

 

– 30