Gratitude’s Grace

My Dear Friends, I have recently been collecting my thoughts on gratitude – I must admit that given the devastating natural disasters we face year after year; the fact that so many of our precious, courageous service men and women will once again be away from the warmth of their families and homes; and the unsettled state of the world in general, my heart is indeed heavy.  And, as a result I think to myself, “Where exactly does gratitude fit into this current picture?”    It is then that my faith combined with my years of life experience nudges me, reminding me that gratitude’s grace is in the midst of it all – we just might have to dig a bit deeper – look a little closer — to reveal it. “Sometimes our light goes out, but it is blown again into flame by an encounter with another huma...

Absolutes

How dangerous and destructive is the habit of using “absolutes” in everyday conversation? Have you ever thought of this? Do you hear yourself using absolutes? If so, you most probably are steering your relationships and reputation down an unpleasant and rocky road. Over the last five years of mentoring various people, I have come to recognize one common thread when my mentees talked about conflict with a spouse, fellow employee, employer and/or friend. Everyone I dealt with was oblivious to this “common thread”; however to me it stuck out like a sore thumb. It was the frequent use of “absolutes.” Many of us have heard counselors stress that we should not use absolutes in our conversations – words such as “always,” and “never”. However, until I started me...

Choosing Character

Have you ever caught yourself thinking or even saying to someone, “Yes, it was definitely out of character for me.” Hopefully, what you truly meant was that a specific decision or action (choosing a color you don’t usually wear, trying a new trend, or a different technique, etc.) resulted in your stepping “out of your comfort zone” and actually had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with your core values or character. While taking the initiative and courage to step out of our comfort zone often serves as a favorable personal and professional course of action; abandoning our true character for even an instant can be catastrophic for us personally as well as for the many others in our lives. Why? Because it betrays who we are born to be, pulls us ‘off course’ and prevents us from shar...

New Year / New Day

It was around my 50th New Year’s celebration that I actually got it. As I was entering my life’s second half, I realized that this annual exercise of making resolutions, possibly breaking resolutions, and doing it all over again the next year was a luxury that was not going to go on forever. I realized that I needed to get far more purposeful than I ever had before about what I wanted my life to be. I determined that every day that lie before me in the year ahead was going to be precious beyond measure.  Every single day. New Year’s Resolutions are good. Writing a letter to oneself on the first of the year, to be opened on December 31, congratulating oneself on achieving, becoming, doing and giving all that you planned is better. What’s best is knowing and believing at your very core that ...

Good Grief

I slept until noon or after. Me! The one who never sets an alarm, not even on Sundays. My resistance was way down! I had no immune system – I didn’t eat right, didn’t drink enough water; I took antidepressants and antianxiety drugs. I finally asked my doctor if we could just set up a standing appointment, and I would always be there. He laughed out loud but didn’t realize that I was truly serious. I didn’t clean house, I let dishes stack up for days at a time in the kitchen sink. I didn’t wash my hair, didn’t put on my makeup – well, I guess I have to confess that I didn’t do anything of any consequence. I sat and stared into space – pretty much all day, every day. Nothing motivated me. Friends called to check on me, asking, “How are you doing?” And my answer was always the same: “Oh...

Proactive or Reactive?

Are you Proactive or Reactive? Which one are you? We have many God given facets to our personality. By nature, we are either a “waiting” or a “moving” personality, with a tendency to be either “external” or “internal” processors. And we are, by nature, either proactive or reactive. Regardless of which category we are in, each category has strengths as well as potential limitations. Have you ever heard someone say: “That’s just the way I am. That’s just the nature God gave me?” Or maybe you’ve heard someone say, “Well, my dad was this way and that’s just the way I am.” People use these excuses for limiting behavior. Those statements are about as wise as saying there is no value in going to school...

Never Just Another Day

It was a powerful exercise for me to share the Seven Personal Pillars that have served as a foundation for me over the course of my life. These fundamental, deep beliefs have supported my sense of meaning, purpose and connection.  Please find these sessions in our archives. The opportunity to review and reaffirm these pillars reflects another practice that has proven to be very important to me: a determination to be very intentional about my day, my week, and my life. I laughed recently when I came across this quote from Zig Ziglar: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” I love this quote, because it is so true. I believe that a life well lived begins every single day, with a reaffirmation of what’s most i...

Children are Watching

When the daughter of a tenant farmer becomes vice chairman of the real estate company that has attracted more agents than any other in the world, the emotions run both deep and wide, and another look at the how this journey began seems in order. Let there be no doubt, the world looks and feels a lot different at this end of the spectrum than it did from the dirt farm in Oklahoma where I grew up, but as I take stock on a life of untold blessings, dreams-come-true, and a good share of struggles, there’s no question that my childhood was a tremendous gift. We should all be so fortunate as to have parents who believe in us with all their heart and who assure us that we can become and achieve whatever we dream of, if we are willing to work for it. I so wish that more children today had the adva...

A Heart of Gratitude

Gratitude affects our entire life – from the time we rise in the morning, to the evening hour when we close our eyes in sleep. I recently read (and believe) that in general, grateful people are more compassionate, merciful, generous and forgiving. And I am certain that we all believe these elements are sorely needed in today’s challenging world. Once we become accustomed to practicing gratitude in all circumstances, the benefit of compassion will take root in our lives, leading to being more merciful toward others, more forgiving and intrinsically trusting the blessings hidden within the challenges we meet. This is not the art of escaping reality – it is the art of trusting through gratitude. It happens to all of us – we find ourselves embroiled in a challenging situation that we hadn’t pl...

So Much Love, Just Enough Time

  By Kellie Clark   My little girl started 5th grade this week. It is her last year of elementary school, as she will begin junior high next year. With a mixture of pride and melancholy, I hugged her goodbye and walked her to the bus; after all, it is no longer “cool” to have Mom bring you to school on the first day!   As I drove to work that morning, a poignant memory replayed in my mind, as if I was watching a movie of my little Savanna’s life. Shortly after she was born, during my maternity leave, I was grocery shopping with my tiny newborn daughter cuddled snuggly in a sling across my torso. As I pushed the shopping cart down an aisle, feeling my warm baby curled up next to my heart, I noticed a very elderly woman in a wheelchair being pushed by her nurse. Like a lightni...

Faithful Mentors

By Jim Riley My wife Robin and I have had the blessing and privilege to consider Mo Anderson among our dearest of friends for many years. I can wholeheartedly say that she is the embodiment of what faith, generosity, hard work and vision can accomplish. To those who are blessed by Mo’s presence in their lives, she, along with her husband Richard, has inspired faith, purpose and direction. This has been accomplished through skilled mentorship. For Robin and me, that mentorship has broadened our culture, stimulated our political awareness, motivated our passions and created many, many fond memories along the way. Mo Anderson has demonstrated by the way she lives that mentoring has always been the signature of her life’s journey.   Robin and I were introduced to the Andersons at a time w...

Life’s Seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring

  By Linda Paxton   The changing of seasons always brings to my mind a “Season-Based Life Lesson” our family experienced many years ago; one that remains a family favorite.   It involved a homework assignment given to my 8th grade daughter’s Sunday School class. It began with the pastor asking the class, “What has been the unhappiest you have felt so far in your young lives?” Students were invited, if they desired to do so, to share the incident that came to their mind. One young girl whose parents were in the midst of a divorce sadly responded that it was when her father moved out of their home. Another student spoke of an illness in his family. My daughter knew immediately that it was a point a few years earlier when she thought her beloved hospitalized Grandmother was goi...