Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Black Friday?

You know the expression: "Black Friday" is the day after Thanksgiving when all the stores have those super sales to entice you to shop so they can make enough money to move from the "red" financially into the "black". For many stores, they will do more than 50 % of their business in the last 30 days of the year.

So, I know you are wondering, where will Steve be on Black Friday? Will Steve be lining up at Old Navy at 3:00 A.M. in the morning? (they open at 3:30 A.M.) Not on your life. There are things that I am a sucker for: the wishes of my Grand kids, the creamy jalapeno dressing at Chuy's, and running in the cold on New Year's Day. But sales gimmicks have no appeal to me at all. I never read sale ads. I never watch commercials. (Praise for DVR - I never have to watch those commercials again!) I am the reason ad agents stay up all night trying to come up with cool, clever ideas to hook those reluctant buyers. I'm not buying.

Sometimes I am made to feel like I don't love my country because I am unwilling to go into debt and max out credit cards. Sorry Charlie - I'm not buying. If you enjoy long lines and buying cheap toys made in China and sold at Wal-Mart, more power to you. I'm not buying.

My Black Friday will be nice. A quiet day off. A great morning run in the cool Fall air. And no traffic jams at the mall. Ahhhh! Good stuff.

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, November 19, 2009

People, Pie, and Gratitude

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and my thoughts have turned to people, pie, and gratitude.

I think of the people in my life, both present and past, who have blessed my life beyond description. In the past, Dad, Mom, family, childhood friends, teachers, coaches, even those girlfriends who dumped me (it was pretty good while it lasted) - my dear Father-in-law and Mother-in-law who thought I could do no wrong, College profs, (the ones who marked "A" on my papers, especially!) minister friends and mentors. In the present, Linda, my partner in life for 35 years, the best human being I have ever known (besides Jesus), my dear daughter, Son-in-law, my two Grand kids, my co-workers, my dear friends, and all the "balcony people" in my life who keep cheering me on. I am so rich - I am loaded with people who have shaped my life in so many wonderful ways.

I am also thinking of pie. I love pie. Pumpkin, Apple, Pecan, Chocolate, Coconut Cream, Lemon Meringue, Key Lime - and more. With each pie I have a memory of people that made great pies and made my life better by sharing. Thanksgiving was the week of pies and they are on my brain.

I am also so grateful. Gratitude is the greatest way I know to transform a bad day into a good one. I know it sounds simple but counting my blessings can reshape the worst day into something remarkable.

People, pies, and gratitude - have a joyous Thanksgiving!

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beyond the Call of Duty

I have been thinking about Military families recently. The horrible events at Fort Hood, the long and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the observance of Veterans Day has kept these dear families in my thoughts and prayers of late.

What we ask of our Military families is far beyond the call of duty - it is not just the multiple deployments to far away hostile places but the toll all of this takes on their families. Spouses suffer with loneliness and children are often missing a parent for months and even years at a time. The stress and strain of it all must be an incredible burden to bear.

Fort Hood is a huge operation - more than 50,000 people in this military community and base. The signs of stress are everywhere. One sad reality is that so far this year there have been numerous suicides at Fort Hood. Our military families need support, encouragement, mental health care, and spiritual direction - I can only imagine the difficultly that they face. I have them on my daily prayer list.

When my Dad was drafted into the Army during WWII he was already 24 years old and had two kids and one on the way. No one wanted to go into the service less than my Dad, but he answered the call to duty and gave it his all. He was trained as a Medic and worked in a Military Hospital in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The hospital was in one of the large hotels that had been transformed into a medical facility during the war. I remember him telling me about all those boys coming back without legs, arms, eyes, and many more suffering from post-traumatic stress - many of his patients were put on suicide watch as soon as they checked into the facility. The stress was there in the 1940's just as it is in 2009. The strain on my Mother must have been unbelievable - a young Mom with two little girls and expecting the third child.

We owe these families more than just a nod of appreciation on Veterans Day - they need our daily prayers, our support, and our love. And when they get home, and God speed the day, we need to help them build good lives and healthy families.

A friend of mine has a Son and a Daughter in the Army - both are graduates of West Point - her Son has been to Iraq twice, the daughter will soon be in Afghanistan. Every day for this Mom is a prayer meeting - she and God talk daily, I know.

Let's join her in spending much time in prayer for these who give beyond the call of duty.

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Open Mind

One of the signs of getting older is to simply close your mind to anything new. As the years start to stack up, we tend to suffer from closed-mindedness.

A friend was telling me recently about growing up on a ranch in Oklahoma. His father raised cattle for years but one year he made the decision to start raising a new breed of cattle called a Beefmaster. In their area, most ranchers at the time raised white-faced cattle called Herefords. The Beefmaster calves were about the same size when born and were born with little difficulty and normally very healthy. The difference was that when they were taken to be sold at market they had grown at a faster rate and would weigh about 150 to 200 pounds more than other calves. One day after the sale, his Dad was telling another rancher about his success with the calves and how well he had done at the sale. The other old cowboy said, "Well, we get a better price for our Herefords." His Dad showed him the receipts that the price was the same, but that his calves were bigger. The old cowboy looked at the two receipts paused and then said, "I don't care if they do make more money - I still like the white-faced better."

This story is classic. Today the term used for such thinking is "resistance to a new paradigm" - meaning simply denial that something has shifted or changed. Sometimes because of fear or frustration or any number of things we just resist change - we close our mind.

I am fighting hard to not become an old geezer in my thinking - it is never easy to keep your mind open. I love being around people who challenge my thinking and present new ideas for me to work on.

Now if I can just find my keys, I am going to lunch. Where did I leave those keys?

Just thinking, Steve