Jaren's Blog

September 21, 2010

I can only imagine

Filed under: Jaren's Writings — Jaren @ 12:33 pm
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Well maybe I can’t, but I did get a pretty good sense.  My brother-in-law, the rock of Gibraltar, a pillar of faith and an example of true courage learned yesterday he has a terminal disease.

As we gathered together, family and friends, one could only be amazed at his strength and conviction.  Hugh has been, is today and always will be a God-fearing man.  He maintains deep convictions valuing life.  He understands the blessings he has received while living here on earth.  He knows with certainty that there is a purpose to his life path.

There were special times as we talked as a group; the spirit of love attended us.  Hugh suggested if we all put our personal trials in the middle of the room, each of us would take ours back.  Hugh then confirmed he would gladly take his; perhaps so others wouldn’t have to.

I personally believe he chose his path long ago, knowing perhaps others might not have too, or that those of us who would know him could gain strength as witnesses of his endurance, patience and devotion.  Hugh’s example extends as a husband, a father, a son, a brother, and a friend.  After we shared time together, shed tears of gratitude and felt the fear of the unknown; Hugh arose to give each of us a hug.

It was at this time I witnessed a miracle.  I saw and felt something I will never forget.  There are times in my life I have felt something similar to what I was feeling deep inside.  Times I have not and may never forget.  These have come in witnessing the birth of my children, standing at my father’s bedside as he passed, watching the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier, standing at Martins Cove or simply participating in feeling a mothers love.

The miracle that played out before my eyes was Hugh, a man of large stature, hugging his youngest son Connor (the best looking kid in middle school), who is thirteen years old.  As Connor approached his dad, nearly out of tears, the two embraced.  Hugh, standing just over six feet tall and Connor being about five foot six, then participated together in an embrace that was as if they were two eternal beings meeting in mortality.

As Hugh’s body engulfed his son, Connor placed his head on his father’s massive chest.  Hugh’s heart penetrated his son’s spirit as he placed his hand on the back of his head.  Hugh then rested his chin and cheek on Connor stating, “My you certainly have grown up my son.”

I felt as if their mortality lifted for a moment as they participated in an embrace that will remain part of their lives forever.  They held each other for some time, not wanting the feeling to end and long enough to penetrate a lifetime.  I knew then and will never forget that this man, my brother-in-law, Connor’s father, will never leave his side.  He will stand as his guardian, as he has forever!

The feeling they must have felt could only be described as phenomenal; just being in the room witnessing touched me as it did.  My knowledge is pure, my experience was real and for a moment, “I could only imagine” knowing their connection was necessary and eternal.

Jaren

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August 31, 2010

Want to be happier, healthier and have brighter kids?

Filed under: Jaren's Writings — Jaren @ 3:39 pm
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If I told you there is a way for you to live happier, healthier, accumulate wealth and build social status; would you be interested?

What if at the same time you could boost the educational performance of your children and lower your chance of becoming a victim of crime?  Do I have your interest peeked even greater?

Finally, what if in addition to the above mentioned opportunities you would realize higher civic participation, enhance your volunteering activity and lessen any need for public assistance?  Is there anyone reading who I haven’t created a mild case of curiosity in now?

In 1931 James Truslow Adams coined in his book, “The Epic of America” the concept of; “The American Dream.”  He stated: “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement… a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

My contention is the “American Dream” by Adams, contains as an essential element, the opportunity for each of us to own our own homes.  Homeownership through many independent studies, over many years, has proven to provide all of the benefits discussed above.  Let me take just a little time with you to cover some detail on each of them.

Homeownership, in addition to the benefits I cited above, accounted for 14 percent of the United States economic activity in the housing sector alone.  Homeowner’s real estate holdings totaled $16,500,000,000,000.00 ($16.5 trillion, included 000’s for effect) in 2010.  This is after all the devastation we have realized in our “Great Recession.”  If we subtract liabilities, the net value (equity) of American homeowner’s in 2010 is $6.3 trillion; astounding!

If we go back to the turn of the 20th Century American’s homeownership rate was below 50%.  It has gradually increased to a record high in 2004 of 69% and is currently hovering around 67% as I write this piece.

A fact discussed as a component of adding the benefits I have covered is the stability homeownership provides to community.  A homeowner moves far less frequently than does a renter.  The difference is staggering; a renter changes residence 6 times as often as do homeowners.  Homeowners who do move cite they do so: first– to a better home or neighborhood, second– for family reasons and lastly– for employment.

Homeowner’s have positive impact on their children in both achieving higher levels of education and reducing deviant behavior.  Studies show the home purchase is one of the largest financial decisions we make; homeowners tend show greater responsibility through managing the financial commitment and maintaining skills required to handle the payments.  Additionally, bad behavior which would detract from the value is minimized in the home and parents help, “police the neighborhood” eliminating similar activities outside.  It comes to reason that with children reaching higher levels of education their earning capacity improves as well.

Children who grow up in a home, which is owned, have a much higher probability of becoming a homeowner.  Part of our societies push to improve learning should include a strategy to promote homeownership.

Civic duties increase as the natural move from spending time and money maintaining the home, spills over into interest in the quality of the surrounding community.  The political process too is improved as incentives to protect the neighborhood are managed through concern over who is making community decisions.  Homeowners vote at a much higher percentage (nearly 50% more) than do renters.  Too, homeowners know the names of school board members and elected officials twice as often as do renters.

Volunteering increases as does attendance in churches.  The reason suggested for this, is simply the stability of the homeowner equates to their interest in engaging in the community; this comes in a variety of ways.

Ownership includes the feeling of individual autonomy, through possessing our own property.  Wealth is created with the appreciation of the asset, which over time has proven to be reliable investment.  Homeowner’s are better able to deal with financial setbacks or deal with being laid off because they can access their equity.  This gives community self-reliant citizens who don’t require as much public assistance.

As people become homeowners they are likely to have higher life satisfaction, higher self-esteem and a higher perceived control of their life.  The homeowners develop a sense of being able to do things as well as anyone participating in stable relationships.  Homeowner’s feel self-fulfillment having reached the milestone of achieving, “The American Dream.”

Jaren

August 26, 2010

The Beginning – and End – of My Fishing Career

Filed under: "The Gonzo Mama" — TheGonzoMama @ 10:16 pm

By Christina-Marie “The Gonzo Mama” Wright

My parents are nutty about camping. Seriously, I don’t know how I ended up with such distaste for sleeping, cooking, eating and bathing in the out-of-doors, considering my parents are such fanatics. Here’s just a sampling of phrases you’ll never hear come out of my mouth:

Bring on the mosquitoes! Mmmm… hot dog on a stick! A thin layer of nylon is all I need between me and the elements – and the bears!

Unfortunately, my parents were as adamant about exposing their offspring to the wilderness as I am about staying out of it. Clearly, there was a major conflict of interest and opinion in regard to how my childhood vacations should be spent.

That difference of opinion is how I ended up stuffed into a tent in an eastern Washington campground while it rained for something just shy of the fabled forty days and nights. I think I was about nine years old at the time, though I could swear I was six when we began the trip. When the rain stopped falling, Dad asked if I wanted to go fishing with him. “Heck, yes!” I shouted. At that point, I would have followed him into a sewage treatment facility, if it meant getting out of that tent.

Dad grabbed the poles and led my brother and me approximately eleventy million soggy miles away (on foot) to “this fishin’ hole I know about.” It turned out to be a secluded waterfall, with a wide pool at the foot. My brother and I half-heartedly cast into the pool, while Dad headed closer to the waterfall, expertly landing a cast at the base.

A near-eternity passed, with none of us getting so much as a bite. I didn’t mind much – it was better than being cooped up in a tent the size of my closet. The sun warmed my shoulders and danced on the water, sending blazing starbursts of light in every direction. The waterfall crashed into the pool, its song echoing off the rock walls that enclosed the pool.

Ah, sweet serenity.

“Hey… Hey! I got a bite!” The peaceful scene was shattered by Dad’s yell. He was pulling hard on his fishing pole, reeling and straining for all he was worth. Below the falls, the tail of a massive salmon breached the surface of the pool, fighting and twisting in an effort to escape.

It was a battle of endurance, and I wasn’t laying money on either one as the clear favorite – man and fish appeared fairly evenly matched. Dad struggled for several more suspenseful minutes, then landed the monstrosity.

Well… almost.

“Sonofabeaver! He spit the hook!”

(Leave it to Dad to teach his progeny the ever-important vocabulary of fishing. I believe that particular phrase is actually mandated by federal law – and enforced by game wardens – anytime a nice catch spits the hook.)

“No, Dad—LOOK!” My brother pointed to a cluster of rocks a mere yard from Dad’s feet. The fish’s thought stream must have read something like this:

Puh-toooie! Yeah! I’m off the hook! I’m flying… flying… Look out, water! Heeeere I COME! Yeah, baby! Oh, crap… SONOFABEAVER! I’m gonna fall, headfirst, into those rocks!

The fish landed, head wedged between two large stones. For a moment we all stared, dumbfounded, at the furiously wriggling salmon, which was determined to squirm its way back to the pool.

“EEEEEEEIIIIIIYAAAAAAAAAAH!” Dad’s battle cry could have splintered wood. He launched from the ground—head lifted, arms and legs spread, leaping toward the fish. (For a moment, he resembled a five-pointed star, flying through the air, surrounded by golden glimmering starbursts darting off the water’s surface.) With both hands, he reached for the fish tail as his feet hit the ground. With puma-like instincts, Dad bent down to get more leverage and…

RIIIIIIP! Dad’s jeans split from zipper to back belt buckle, but he didn’t let the phenomena of his underwear suddenly becoming outerwear deter him. He yanked the fish from the rocks and hefted it backward, over his shoulder. The salmon smacked the rock wall. I expected it to be stunned or killed, but the battle only seemed to make it stronger.

For a nanosecond, I wondered exactly how far we were from the Hanford nuclear facility, and if the government knew about the radioactive, mutant-powered salmon running amok in the area.

Dad, too, seemed to draw strength from the war, and he spun around, pouncing on top of the flailing fish. He pinned his opponent for a full three counts, proving once and for all who the champ was.

Talk about poor sportsmanship… Instead of graciously accepting his belt and title, Dad drew his hunting knife and began thwacking the fish’s head with the heavy handle end. Over and over—thwack thwack, thwackthwack… until there was no more fight in the fish.

Then, all was silent. Well… almost. One angry, horrified little girl sobbed and hiccupped and cried out through the quivering fingers held over her mouth, “Dad? How COULD you? How could you DO that? How could you beat that POOR FISH like that?”

The girl turned and ran in the direction of camp, followed by a small giggling boy and a bewildered man who muttered, “Are you kidding me?” as his boxer shorts flapped in the breeze behind him.

* * *

You’ll find the story above, plus many more in the newest issue of my parenting zine, Gonzo Parenting.

What’s a “zine?” It’s an independently published magazine. 🙂

I’m always looking for new contributors, so if you’re handy with words, a sketchbook or a camera, send stuff my way! Submission guidelines are on the zine’s site, linked above.

Enjoy!

August 25, 2010

How to Help Me (Or Any Author) Become a Bestseller

Filed under: "The Gonzo Mama" — TheGonzoMama @ 3:22 am

Signing books at a recent appearance

 

As I’ve learned recently, writing the book is just the first part. After that, there’s the marketing – and it’s a full-time job. 

It’s not enough that I agonized over each and every word contained within the precious bound pages of my tome – now I have to beg people to buy it. The good news, friends and fans, is that you can help me – or any other author with a book you love! 

My inbox today contained a link to a very useful blog post by author Eileen Flanagan, titled, “If You Love a Writer.” And, well, you love me – or, at least, you love Jaren – right? RIGHT? 

*Ahem* 

Fans, friends and family members often ask me how they can help me to promote my book, now that it’s been released. These are some of the ways you can help me to get the word out about my (or anyone else’s – *points at Jaren*) book (I’m going to hit on the high points of Eileen’s post):
  1. Buy the book, and buy often. If you haven’t bought your copy of Everything I Need to Know About Motherhood I Learned from Animal House yet, please take the leap and do so, here. If you’re already the proud owner of your very own copy, buy a copy for each of your friends and family members. If you can’t afford that, at least recommend it to each of them.
  2. Ask your library to carry the book. This is something you can do to help me gain exposure and boost sales – and it’s absolutely FREE.
  3. Buy local! I’m a huge proponent of feeding local economies (and so are you, right?), so I always recommend that folks order through their local independent bookseller, via IndieBound. You can connect to a local indie bookstore to order my book here.
  4. Do a review! If you’ve read Everything I Need to Know About Motherhood I Learned from Animal House and loved it, please review it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, or all of the above. Reviews help to boost my “cred” as an author, and help others to realize they must. read. the. book.
  5. Blog it, Tweet it, Facebook it! Mention the book on your blog, and link to it, or embed the video book trailer on your blog, if you think it’s nifty. Or, interview me for your blog, so I can talk about my book. Send out a tweet with a link to the book’s page/trailer video, or post the links on your Facebook profile. The more mentions out there, the more the word spreads! Blogging and social media not your bag? That’s cool… you can send an email to all your friends, instead, telling them your friend just published a book and would love some support. Be sure to include relevant links (trailer and ordering info) in your email.
  6. Book me… and my book. If you own a bookstore, coffeehouse or winery (or are good friends with someone who does), consider booking me for a reading and book signing. I promise to make people laugh! I’m also available to speak to your writers’ group, book club, mommy group or girls’ night out posse.
  7. By all means… Yes, if you know Oprah, send her my book, along with my telephone number.
  8. Don’t forget to pray! Pray that the Lord will allow me to use the talent He blessed me with to be a shining example of His glory.

Of course, I won’t tell if you pray that I get on Oprah, too… 

August 22, 2010

Acceptance, the Key to Being at Peace with Reality

Filed under: Micah McAllister — mikeutah @ 1:18 pm

As we go through life, we often contribute to a bumpier ride than is necessary by resisting or fighting against reality, against life.  We torture ourselves by being unhappy about our job, our family situation, our financial situation and more.  We turn to outward things, possessions, people, events, in the past or future seeking fulfillment and peace.  All the while, the source of the greatest peace is already within each of us.

The one thing we have control over which has the greatest potential to change how we perceive reality is our attitude of either acceptance or resistance.  To accept means to receive gratefully, to agree with what was given and receive the gift in it, the hidden wisdom or experience to behold.  To resist means to fight, to oppose, to not agree with what is in front of you or being offered to you.  When we accept life as it comes to us, we flow gracefully with it, enjoying or at least being at peace with the ride.  When we resist life, we exhaust energy and peace while trying to swim upriver or trying to change the direction of the river.  On the one hand we become in harmony with what is, with what life deals us and on the other we become out of tune and the creator of our own hell.

For any event or experience that life brings to you, the amount of suffering or peace that accompanies you comes down to either accepting it, or resisting it.  To resist it is to prolong the suffering by wanting to deny what happened, to want things to be different than they are but at the same time not being able to change what happened.  We then become our own torturers by continually reliving what happened and hoping for a different outcome only to open our eyes and not like what we see.  Since we only have control over ourselves but don’t really have control of what happens around us or to things outside of us, to not accept what happens, what is, is to deny reality and live in a dream world while continually being awakened to the nightmare perception we create.  The nightmare ends when we accept what happened, what is, and make peace with it, allowing it to flow through us instead of creating a blockade of torture within us.

Above all, accept yourself fully and completely just as you are.  If you are a subscriber of Christianity, consider the words of Jesus from Matthew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect”.  The Greek word that “perfect” was translated from here means “whole”, “complete”, “wanting in nothing”.  There’s no better way to realize this state of “perfect” than to accept yourself just as you are, flaws and all.  Through this selfless and non-judgmental self-acceptance and love you’ll gain the clarity to enact any desirable character changes that merit it.  But that change only comes out of first accepting them and yourself just as you are.  Without accepting, you are resisting and through your resistance you are unknowingly feeding the perpetuation of those “flaws”.

From the non-judgmental acceptance of self point of view, accepting others just as they are, and dispelling judgment becomes more natural and easy.  This plays into the “Golden Rule” of not judging and also treating others as you would prefer to have them do to you.  Any perceived control or influence you think you may have over others is an illusion.  Whether “others” be family, friends, acquaintances or strangers, they are going to choose, act and do what they will in spite of most of your efforts.  Instead of resisting and fighting the choices and actions of others that you don’t agree with, and likely creating a continued state of disappointment in yourself towards others, accept them as autonomous equal beings.  So long as their actions and choices are not being forced upon you directly, what is it to you to allow them to be themselves?  Truly accepting and embracing the diversity and individuality of humanity awakens you to the beautiful collage that is life and nature.

Accept the situations, experiences and curve balls life deals to you.  Whether you’ve lost a loved one, been laid off, or suffered an injury, accepting it without judgment or labels can transform any event from one of only hardship or suffering into an experience filled with wisdom and growth.  Through acceptance you’ll have better clarity to navigate and pass through it without sabotaging your peace or potentially increasing the amount or length of suffering.  Resistance usually has the affect of perpetuating the undesirable suffering.

Accept the events of the past to gain the wisdom they hold and then let them go into the records of history as a learning experience.  Holding onto the past, or in other words, resisting what happened, generally perpetuates the guilt, anger, or other emotions involved or caused by the now gone event and can even result in the past repeating itself.  Accept the future as being mostly unknowable and accept that the future can’t save you from the current moment in which all of life is lived.  Accept that the current moment is the only true position of power and happening and live it to the fullest.

When we flow with life by accepting instead of resisting, we more quickly learn life’s lessons, experience more peace, and have more harmony in our relationships with others and nature.  We see others as extensions of ourselves instead of a “them” that need concurring.  Life is then seen as something that happens for us, instead of against us.

July 29, 2010

I guess not all cops eat doughnuts?

Filed under: Jaren's Writings — Jaren @ 1:35 pm
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My youngest daughter asked me and Kim what old people like us do for fun.  My first thought was, “We are not old” then I realized at her age everyone over 16 is old; so I let that comment fade.  Then I thought, “She doesn’t really think (old people) can have fun.”  So I shared with her a story about our last date together.

The other night Kim and I decided to step into a small shop as it looked interesting to us.  We probably were in this store for all of ten minutes at most.  When we came out there was a police officer writing a parking ticket.  I walked up to the officer and said, “We were only in there for a few minutes, there are no other cars anywhere around here and I didn’t have any idea there were meters; give me a break, please.”

This officer (a male) said nothing at all and just proceeded writing the ticket.  I am not one to anger quickly; typically.  This however, for some reason pushed the wrong buttons for me; so I reacted!  “Sir is your mother proud at all that you grew up harassing people out enjoying themselves, who are doing nothing wrong; while there are criminals running around free?”

His stoic attitude remained as he started writing another ticket for a broken windshield.  At this point, my normally calm wife chimed in stating, “You have got to be kidding me; why don’t you go down the street and eat doughnuts like you usually do!”  All this did was make his face turn a bright red.

As he finished the second ticket, putting it under the first one under the wiper blade he commenced with writing a third ticket.  It seemed as though this was going to go on all night.  After a few more choice comments from both Kim and I, with the cop remaining silent; we decided to leave.

This created a lot of interest in this officer as we walked away.  He yelled out to us, “Where are you going?”  Home, we replied.  “Aren’t you going to take your car?”  That is not ours; we saw the Obama bumper sticker and decided to have a little fun.  Have a great night sir.  Presume we will never know what happened with all those tickets.

Guess old people can still have fun (This is just a story I changed from one I read from a friend. Kim would never do that; I may however)

Jaren

July 26, 2010

Simple example on Socialism

Filed under: Jaren's Writings — Jaren @ 1:24 pm
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A friend, Wayne Kotter recently shared a story with me where a college economics professor stated, “I had never failed a single student; until recently I failed an entire class.”

This professor’s class had insisted that socialism works and that we should let our current president give it a try.  They believed that with socialism; no one would be poor and no one would be rich— it is a great equalizer.

This professor told the class they would have “an experiment on socialism.”

His plan suggested that all grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade.  According to the students this would mean no one would fail, yet no one would receive an “A” either.

After the first test the grades were averaged and the entire class received a “B.”  The students who studied hard were upset and those who studied very little obviously were happy.

By the time the second test rolled around the students who had studied very little had studies even less.  The students who had studied hard had decided they too wanted a free ride so they studied less.

The second test average came in as a “D.”  Now no one was happy.  Not surprising the third test averaged an “F.”  The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise.  The professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

For me this story is very interesting and comes with arguably little long-term devastation.  A large-scale experiment with our countries future is a little harder to stomach.  Aren’t there some great examples out there for us to make an educated decision on the direction of our collective futures?

We truly do have the best system; we just need to let it operate as it would naturally!

Jaren

July 22, 2010

“Gosh dang it; how on earth will I survive another day?”

Filed under: Jaren's Writings — Jaren @ 5:11 pm
Tags: , ,

“Gosh dang it; how on earth will I survive another day?” Julie thought as she was preparing to get into bed.  She was feeling as though the weight of the world was on her and knew that with anymore pressure a complete collapse was on order.

Her boss had been an emotional drain on her; he again today had required validation all was going to be okay.  It had become a regular occurrence that going to work meant her last ounce of sanity was instantly stripped; carrying the burden of this unstable leader’s needs.

The children, now out of school for the summer, needed attention.  Time had been easier to give when money wasn’t such a high priority.  The family had been hit hard from the failing economy.  What had been enjoyment in employment now became a fundamental need; a burden just to keep food on the table.

It seemed like all the little things which used to be incidental now were magnified to gigantic proportions as Julie hit the floor, kneeling in prayer.  The knowledge Julie carried in her heart was that her Creator wouldn’t test her beyond her ability to sustain, yet she was in mental and physical pain.

She offered a plea of relief, suggesting the energy gained would be put to good use.  What had been a clear appreciation for all she possessed now was clouded perhaps by concentration on difficulties.  The last words she offered were, “Please, if there is no relief; give me understanding.”

The next morning Julie woke up feeling more tired now then before she went to bed.  The night was full of tossing and turning.  Just as sleep was to overtake her tired body, a child would come home; upset with feelings from girlfriend relationships.  Getting things worked out with this child didn’t mean sleep would easily follow as thoughts of how to help now occupied her mind.

Struggling to dress for the day, Julie put a load in the wash, did a few dishes, arranged for lunches and then drove off to another day at work.  She drove down the road with a feeling that today was going to be unique occupying her mind.  Not really remembering the request made of her Maker the night before; to gain understanding.

Just before noon Julie was to pick up a friend for a lunch gathering.  This friend was meeting her at the south end of a large regional mall.  It was an outdoor mall; full of activity early on this summer day.  This mall had served as a gathering place for sports spectators during the winter Olympics.  There were water features, walkways, varied shopping, entertainment, office buildings and eateries.

On the south end of this mall there was a homeless shelter, right across the street from where Julie was waiting.  Like the mall there was a lot of activity.  What she noticed was that there were families leaving the protection of this shelter onto the streets.  There were all ages, colors, types and genders.  The activity was noticeably different then the groups of people where her friend would arise from.

Suddenly it hit her like a ton of bricks!  Could these different groups of people, poles apart, ever realize the needs of each other?  On one side of the street a family had nothing, perhaps not even the hope for a meal or another peaceful night’s sleep.  While on Julie’s side of the street, perhaps the concern was having the most current style or what to have for lunch.

Julie’s mind immediately gravitated toward inner peace, knowing she had blessings which are not always realized.  The friend she was picking up was going with her to meet some mutual friends to plan for a reunion.  Lost in the spirit of her thoughts; suddenly her passenger door flew open with her friend standing there with a smile from ear to ear.  “Julie it is so good to see you, life has treated you well my friend,” were the first words out of the mouth of this friend Julie hadn’t seen for years.

Small talk began and the two fell off into earlier days of their youth.  Their lunch was only minutes away which didn’t allow for covering all that needed to be talked about.  Quickly they ran to the restaurant hoping others had already been seated.  They found their group, who were seated; they were some of the last to arrive.

Naturally a group gathering in preparation for a reunion that hasn’t seen one another for years had a lot to talk about.  Julie started by asking where one of the missing members was.  “Julie, didn’t you hear?” was a comment from across the table.  Hear what?  Sue had a stroke two years ago and has been left with limited to no physical control.  She desperately wanted to come, thinking she could; only to find she had a bad morning.  Julie’s heart fell, thinking how lively and vivacious this woman had been the entire time she had known her in their youth.

While there was a lot more talked about in this meeting, including mostly positive wonderful stories of success; Julie’s mind had concentrated on the unknown stories of her friends who had experienced some type of suffering.  It seemed, as the hour passed, that each story got a little more tragic.

Yes there were divorces and horrible relationship stories but the ones that captivated Julie’s mind were the one’s she couldn’t believe.  One friend, a mother, had lost her son to drugs, another in the battles of war.  There was a son who had lost his legs stepping on an IED, another whose daughter had disappeared four years ago.  One who lost their wife, one thought to be homeless?  All Julie could think about was the time she spent observing the shelter just an hour ago.

The friend, a male, voted most likely to succeed had died several years ago of a heart attack at a very young age.  With a heart full of love and emotion Julie couldn’t find another word to say.  The meeting concluded and the two walked off to the car.  Julie dropped this friend off back at the mall with the parting words, “Julie, are you okay?”  Yes, just carrying a heart full of gratitude and understanding.

Julie finished her day at work, clearly just going through the normal motions of her workday.  Her mind was off in another world.  The drive home was very similar; as she drove in the driveway she wondered how she got there.  The evening wasn’t much different other than the emotion of gratitude for what just the day before had been frustration.

Now, again retiring to bed and again kneeling in prayer; Julie began to speak to her Creator.  Dear God, thank you for all you have given me and the knowledge to be aware.  I am embarrassed I felt as though my burdens were hard to bear.  Thank you for the understanding you granted me today.  Never let me forget all that I have; let me be aware of others needs.  Put in my path those who necessitate.  Grant me information to assist them.  Let me be a vehicle for you here on this earth with compassion for all.  I have abilities and capabilities to help; please let me do so!

Jaren

July 20, 2010

If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will take you there.

Filed under: Nick Galieti — Nick Galieti @ 7:26 pm
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From the Wizard of Oz comes the phrase, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will take you there.” When we consider the paths that we all are taking in life, do we all know where that path is taking us?

When I see some of the people who have made the most notable achievements in this world, they seem to be those with a clear idea of what they want to accomplish and posses a strong desire to accomplish it. A business needs a plan, educational pursuits are best served in a degree program, and a life is most valued when the path we take is intentional.

I have heard it said that no one will make it to heaven on accident. I don’t believe that Walt Disney stumbled upon Disneyland, or that any major achievement of success happens without a plan or path in place to take us there.

Under this philosophy sometimes I wonder if we should be voting for people to run for office, but rather vote for programs we want to have done then pick the most efficient candidates for the selected public policy. Should we be the one’s voting for certain bills to be passed, not voting for people to do who knows what in office?

Businesses make business plans, strategic plans, marketing plans and financial plans to achieve the goals desired. Should our country be more focused on a business plan and less about who to put in office?

Perhaps this is rambling ignorance, but the reality is success comes first from vision, second from accomplishing that vision. This seems to be true both personally and in business, why not in government too?

Nick

July 19, 2010

“The Bracelet”

Filed under: My Book — Jaren @ 10:48 am

The Bracelet is a story about the undaunted courage of a mother and her special connection with her inner light, a family’s adventure in a new world, and a gift from a special advisor.

 The Callisters were fortunate–they had a nice home, took great vacations, and had four wonderful children. But Karen Callister felt something deep inside her driving her to provide more. Not something material, but an experience–a life-changing experience. And when a mother is on a mission for her children, nothing will stop her!  Road blocks appear, at times seeming insurmountable, yet she perseveres.

So it is that this family is blessed to visit a culture that might as well have come from another world, where they witnessed love, compassion, service, sacrifice, and growth. Their own example alters the lives of those they touch, which in turn alters the course of an entire society.  However, it is also a world with a dark past, one that threatens the Callister girls with kidnap and a life of drug-induced slavery.

Interwoven through the breathtaking adventure is the influence of a wise spiritual leader; who, with the gift of a bracelet, a sacred blessing, and a series of intense but practical lessons changes young Alice’s life forever.

Come join the Callisters in the adventure of a lifetime. The Bracelet might just be the most important book you will read this year. Its ancient wisdom transcends millennia and provides lessons more valuable today than in any other time.

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