Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Year Changes

First let me wish everyone a very joyous Christmas, happy holidays, and a healthy New Year.

As 2011 draws to a close I am making some changes in my life.

First, I will discontinue this blog and move to Facebook in the New Year. I will do my Blog under Notes on Facebook. I have had so many people encourage me to get connected to Facebook for communication purposes and I have finally given in. I am not a "social network" kind of guy so this is just a move for function - I hope it will make communication easier for all interested.

Second, I plan to include on occasion a list of the books that I have enjoyed over the past year and the ones I am reading now. I am saddened by the fact that many people simply do not ever read a book. They do not read for leisure, for study, for spiritual growth - this great joy in my life is not shared by many. I hope to encourage you to cultivate an appetite for reading.

Third, I plan to listen more and talk less. I have spent too much of my life trying to talk people into things instead of listening with no agenda, only genuine interest. Slow to speak and quick to listen - this is the word from scripture - James 1:19 - the promise is that this will lead to a "righteous life." That would be very good.

There are so many blessings in my life - my sweet Linda, our 38 year adventure of love continues - my Grand kids - Ella and Owen, their parents are pretty remarkable too - what joy they bring to my life - my work - it is good to do what you love to do - my friends who laugh at me in the kindest way and treat me much better than I deserve. Life is good and I am grateful!

See you on Facebook in the New Year!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thoughts on Gratitude

I had no idea that Thanksgiving was so controversial until I caught about one minute of a radio talk show argument about celebrating Thanksgiving. I am sorry but give me a break. How can pausing to reflect on the things we are grateful for be anything but a good thing?

Thanksgiving as a holiday is fine, if you get one. Some folks don't and so it is not so great for them. In a world driven by shopping, Thanksgiving is certainly not loads of fun for people in the retail business, just lots of long hours with too many rude customers. My heart goes out to those who have to work through the holidays. I have worked on holidays too often myself - it is not a fun part of my job.

What I am in favor of is a time to reflect and be grateful. I need this is my life and not just for a day or two but to live with gratitude daily.

Grateful people are wonderful to be around. My dear Mom was one of the most grateful people I have ever known. She was grateful day in and day out, even when I could not find any reason to be thankful. She had a grateful heart and we were all blessed by that. I want to be that kind of person.

Ungrateful people are a burden to be around. We have to spend all our time trying to cheer them up or change their attitude and usually it doesn't work. Being around people who complain, whine, moan, criticise, and see only the dark side of things is exhausting.

Paul has this line that has always been a challenge for me: "... give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (I Thess. 5:17) That is the heart of the matter. Gratitude is easy when we are flying high and everything is going your way. Being a grateful person when life is kicking you in the shins is something else all together. What Paul knew was that we cannot control our circumstances but with God's help we can control our response to them. He would say, "... I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance". (Philippians 4:11)

I have noticed that grateful people have a quiet strength about them that is truly inspirational.

One person told me all the things they were thankful for, even though they were confined to a hospital bed with an illness that was not going away.

One parent explained to me their gratitude for lessons they learned by being the parent and caregiver of a child with special needs.

One minister told me about how grateful he was for his church when his wife died - his eyes overflowed with tears as he expressed his thankfulness for the way they rescued him again and again and helped him raise his three young children.

The Psalms are really an old songbook and some of the songs are really sad songs. But the Psalms ring with thanksgiving and praise -
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 100:4

It's Thanksgiving week and I am grateful -so grateful... and I want my gratitude to last.

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, November 17, 2011

You Can Call Me....

One of the things that happens fairly often for me is people asking me what I would like to be called. Recently I was being introduced as a speaker and the woman who was introducing me asked me, "How do you prefer being introduced?" This is always tricky for people who do not know you - they are trying not to offend and I fully understand it.

I have been introduced or called Dr. Yates, Reverend Yates, Pastor Yates, Father Yates, Brother Yates, and Mr. Yates. I have also been called "Yates", on occasion. If I had my preference, I would simply like to be called "Steve". If your parents taught you to be a bit more formal and you are much younger than me then I will understand if you call me "Mr. Steve or Mr. Yates".

Honestly I am not offended when someone attaches a title to my name but I find it very confining. I am by nature a rather informal person and find titles to be much like putting a label on someone - just call me Steve and I will answer every time.

If push comes to shove and I have to put a title with my name I think I would go with "Servant". I tried to do that some years ago and no one would cooperate - the closest I have come is "Minister", which basically means the same thing. People will say, "This is my minister..." Then someone wants to call you "Senior Minister" or "Pulpit Minister" or "Associate Minister", etc. What is it that makes us want to put titles on people?

I am always trying to remind myself that the inspiration of the Protestant Reformation was the idea of "the priesthood of all believers". I have a real aversion to any distinctions between believers by titles - the clergy and laity stuff just doesn't work for me and I think has a crippling effect on the creative energy for good of the Christian church in our world.

Whatever our gift or talent may be, we are all just servants and what an honor to be called a servant of our loving God.

Being an effective leader is not about titles - it is about authority, power, and influence that is rooted in your character and integrity as a person. We can wear any title we want but if we act like a fool, we will not be an effective leader.

So, you can call me....Steve, just a servant, of a gracious and loving God.

Unless you are my grandchild - I go by Papa. I hope in some small way I am able to show them that Papa is really just a servant and that it is truly a wonderful life.

Just thinking, Steve

Monday, October 31, 2011

Light After Dark

One of the jobs that comes my way fairly often is to talk with people going through a dark passageway in their life. Again and again these dear souls have apologized to me for feeling the way they do. I try to assure them that these kind of passageways are a normal part of being a human being. Some of the most amazing people who have ever lived on this planet had their own "dark night of the soul." Included in that list are people like C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, and Mother Teresa: it seems that even those with great spiritual maturity face these times in their lives.

I recall a conversation with my own Father about such a time for him. He described his feelings of anger, sadness, confusion, and hopelessness. His great challenge was not that he did not believe in God but like Job, he did believe in God and could not understand why God would let him suffer the way he was suffering. It was a very painful journey but after a time the darkness of his grief began to fade and the light of God's love was shining again in his heart. His faith was even deeper and stronger on the other side of this hard journey.

Martin Luther had a period of great despair which he wrote about in 1527. His prayers seemed pointless, he said. God seemed silent and distant and unconcerned with his pain. Some of his friends were so concerned about him they thought that he might not survive and feared for his life. It was bad. Very bad. But somehow the darkness did not overwhelm him. In fact, he wrote a hymn during this time - one of the greatest hymns of the church: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. It is an old hymn so you may not know the words - here are some of them.

"A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing ..."

There are things in life that we do not get over - we simply must go through them. What I know now from my own experience with God is that I will never have to make that journey alone because he will go with me.

Remember: God is not afraid of the dark and when we pass through those dark places in our lives and are gripped by fear, God is not. God is not afraid of our questions, our grief or our doubts.

"God is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:2

A received a note not long ago from a person I had talked with, listened to, and prayed with during a very difficult time for them. The note said, "I have found God's "Yes", even after what seemed like nothing but "No" everyday."

So good to hear!

Just thinking, Steve Yates

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Stuff and the Seasons of Life

For the first time in a long time the air outside feels cool! Perhaps it is finally Fall - Autumn has arrived! When Fall arrives this heart of mine turns to all things pumpkin!

I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin patches, and carving pumpkins! I even like those little candy pumpkins that are really candy corn in the shape of a pumpkin. I watched a brief story about the new world record pumpkin that some farmer grew this year. I think it was about the size of Rhode Island. It filled the back of a large pick-up truck. I saw the elephants at the Houston Zoo chowing down on pumpkins - they were in pumpkin heaven!

Along with my pumpkin love, I love the change of seasons. People say the seasons don't really change in Texas - we only have two seasons some say - hot and less hot. But on days like today, I feel the change of seasons in the air. Thank God for the change!

The truth is human life is seasonal and thank the Lord that things change. Thank goodness I do not have to be 13 years old (the nightmare year of my life) all my life. It was nice to run those Marathon's in my 30's and 40's but I have no interest in going back. Life has never been more enjoyable than it is right now - this season is the best so far!

With the seasons of change that come with life we experience newness that you cannot experience any other way! The arrival of my Grand kids took me by such surprise - the love and affection and joy they have brought to my life is a serendipity I could not experience until now! In my 30's I was a know it all - in my 50's I see how little I really know.

There is the line about Jesus in Luke 2:52 - it says he grew in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God, and with man. He was 12 years old when we hear that and the next thing we know he is 30 and beginning his public life of ministry that would change our world forever.

While I likely will not be any taller in the days ahead, I do want to grow in wisdom, favor with God and in favor with my fellow human beings and the seasons of life give me the opportunity to do so.

Welcome the seasons and grow!

Just thinking, (about pumpkins and stuff)
Steve Yates

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Serious Humor

I love to laugh. It is good medicine. In fact, I believe that it is one of the most readily available ways to "be healed" from a tough day, a hard week, or even a difficult year.

One of the things that I have noticed is that when I try to be funny, I am usually not. There is a kind of natural humor that comes with just being transparent and honest. When I am not concerned about protecting my ego I find that humor is a blessing to me and to others. Canned jokes often go over like a lead balloon but a story that reveals my humanity and presents the joy of living life with family and friends who love you, even when you look foolish, is received with big smiles and often genuine laughter.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, "Joy is the serious business of heaven." I love that line.

There are things that you can talk about that are very serious and important matters, that are communicated much more effectively when presented in partnership with humor.

I have watched people burst out in joyous laughter and a few minutes later they are so touched by something serious that tears flow down their cheeks.

I love the scenes in Genesis where Abraham and Sarah laughed when God told them they would have a baby. They were both old and beyond the normal years of having kids. It was a moment of serious humor - who would not laugh at such an idea! At the same time, they were called to trust God in a way that was truly amazing and they did! (Gen. 17:17; 18:11-15)

Thank God for the gift of laughter - gracious humor - that can help us deal with some of the most serious things of living.

Just thinking and laughing, Steve

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Like People!

We laugh in my line of work and say that this job would be easy - a piece of cake - if it wasn't for people! The truth is I really like people. This job would be boring with out people and it is certainly not boring!

People are amazing! They deal with the most complicated lives, families, jobs, and situations and many of them keep a smile on their face.

People are surprising! I keep experiencing things with people that I could have never imagined. Just about the time I have decided I have seen it all and heard it all, a human being will do something so surprising.

People are mysterious! I know people who live the most mysterious lives imaginable. They work at jobs that even when they explain what they do, I still do not really know what they do. I know a guy who commutes to work over 200 miles each day, four days a week. Six plus hours in a car every day - wow, that is something that is beyond understanding to me. (My commute is 10 minutes each way.)

People are durable! My father was one of the kindest guys you could ever have met but he was so tough. He could endure things that seemed so daunting to me. Work three jobs at a time, caring for his dear ailing wife for years without one complaint, and giving people a second chance, time and time again!

Give me people - all kinds, all so interesting, challenging, and spectacular!

In the Psalms there is the line about human beings;
"You made humans a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned them with glory and honor." Psalm 8:5

C. S. Lewis commented that we should be careful when we meet a person because there is the potential, because of God's design, for true greatness - the kind that would take our breath away if we could see all that will come of their life.

Enjoy people - welcome them into your life and get ready for something truly amazing!

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hot Sauce

I could eat Mexican food everyday. I love spicy, tasty food. I love to try a new salsa, hot sauce or spicy dish. I want my taste buds to get a jolt.

In general, I do not like to live a bland and boring life. I want to try new things, explore new ideas, and read things that give me a jolt.

One of the problems people often point out about religion is that it tends to be boring. I confess that this has often been true. Institutional religion becomes so preoccupied with maintaining the status quo that it loses its vitality and sense of mission and purpose.

A genuine contrast to the bland, boring religion that we get so exasperated with is the life and times of Jesus. Jesus was anything but bland and boring. His greatest opponents were always the religious authorities and establishment because he did not follow the traditions of the established religion. In fact, he openly challenged their practices and became a focal point for their anger. The amazing thing is that modern Christianity has so "tamed" Jesus that we have made him boring. This really breaks my heart and I fight against at every turn.

I believe we need to rediscover the real Jesus. Religion has often been an ugly thing in our world - Jesus, on the other hand, is universally seen as a remarkable teacher, visionary and an example of a person who put his words into practice. Many people are drawn to Jesus and repelled by organized religion - why is that?

Part of the reason is that churches spend far too much time trying to protect their "interest" rather than shape their ministry and their message through an ongoing relationship with Jesus.

I have been spending hours each week just reading and reflecting on the life and the ministry of Jesus and it is often shocking! Jesus is one "spicy" person - he will challenge your thinking, your lifestyle, your values and leave your breathless. To be sure, it is exciting and often scary!

I hope you will give it try - get to know the real Jesus. He is never bland or boring and he will call you to a new life lived for the sake of others. (Read one of the gospels from the Bible - Matthew, Mark, Luke or John - I think you will be surprised at the Jesus you encounter.)

Just thinking, Steve

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Time to Think

I just returned this week from a brief sabbatical designed to allow time for quiet, reflection, study, meditation, preparation, prayer and thinking. I did a lot of thinking.

There is a statement from one of the greatest thinkers, Albert Einstein, that captures the challenge of good thinking. Einstein said, "We cannot resolve problems by using the same thinking that created those problems." So true.

We say things like "Think outside the box" to try to get at this idea of new and creative thinking. I reflected on Jesus as a great thinker. The results of his life demonstrate that he was a truly creative thinker. For example, his disciples were having an arguement about which one of them was the greatest. (Matthew 20:20-28) Jesus response to this kind of thinking was to say this is the way the world thinks but there is a better way - to think soberly about ourselves - with humility. We don't promote ourselves as powerful and all knowing, we choose to think and act like a servant. This Jesus says is the way to true greatness.

This is creative, out of the box, thinking. In a world of self-promotion, preoccupied with gaining power, control, and dominance this is a dramatically different way to think and live.

I want to think deeply - to mediatate on things day and night for a while before I take action. Often it is days into thinking and meditating on something that clarity about a good way to respond comes. For sure, good thinking should lead to good actions that solve problems and help others solve problems.

I recalled that once Jesus' disciples came to him and said we have this huge crowd of people and they are hungry and we need to send them away so they can find food. Jesus said no. Do something - find a solution - don't ignore the problem. (Luke 9:12ff.) This is bold thinking and acting.

I read recently about an avid runner who came up with an idea to help people who did not have shoes. He starting asking fellow runners to donate their slightly worn running shoes to the cause. The first year he collected and gave away 500 pair of shoes - more recently he collected 5000 and gave them all away. He came up with a creative way to help rather than not think about it.

So as I close with my "tradtional" way of closing my blog each time, I am still ....

Just thinking, (but hoping and praying to be a better thinker with each passing day)


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What You Know

I admit it - there are plenty of things that I do not know. I love learning and discovering new things. One of the ways I do that is to hang out with my Grand kids - Ella, my almost 9 year old Granddaughter, is a storehouse of information and knowledge. We often say in our family that if we don't know the answer we just "Ella it" (not Google it). She often knows the answer - for example, when I asked her about a "sloth", she asked "Do you mean a two toed sloth or a three toed sloth?" Silly me I thought they all had five toes! My Grandson, Owen, is an expert on cars - he has hundreds of Hotwheel cars and can show you and tell you the unique features of each. I often say "Wow!" when he shows me something that I did not know.

So, as you can see, I don't know everything. But I do know many things and I have learned that it is helpful to others to live from the foundation of what you do know.

I know that honesty and integrity are essential to a good life. I know that commitment is the glue that holds my deepest relationships together. I know that hard work and sacrifice are their own reward. I know that love and forgiveness are critical to daily living. I know that I live daily by the grace of God.

People are always asking me questions about things that trouble them or they don't understand. I consider those questions very seriously. When I attempt to answer, I do it from the foundation of what I know, not from what I don't know. Sometimes I will mention a favorite scripture that has spoken to me on the subject or share an experience where I learned how to cope with what they are facing -- sometimes my answer is to ask if I could pray for them. All these responses come from my place of "knowing".

What we know is a powerful anchor for our daily lives - rather than focusing on what we do not know, I find that what I know is a rich resource for me and others.

Jesus is described as living from the foundation of knowing - he knew that he had come from God the Father and he knew that we would return to the Father and he also knew that God would grant him great power to make a difference in the world. (Read John 13) Then from that knowledge he acted - he lived. Which included taking the role of a servant and washing his disciples feet - he could do that because of his foundation of knowledge.

So take what you know and act out of what you know and be a blessing!

Just thinking, Steve

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Did you see the story about the guy in a little town in Wyoming who is the only resident of the town? The population number on the sign is 1. He is also the Mayor - he won by one vote. He owns the only gas station, only grocery store, and general store in town.

Just one. There have been several towns that have claimed a population of one over the years - one town in Maine, one town in New Hampshire, and another in Indiana. One of those towns had a 300 percent increase in the latest census - they now have 3 people in town. People are beginning to complain about the rapid growth and the crowding.

While it is quite a novelty to live in a town with a population of one, how can you call it a town? A town is where people live - where they work together, worship together, and even argue on occasion. We were designed by our creator for community not for isolation.

There are times when I want to be alone. Time for quiet, reflection and to unwind but being "alone" most of the time by choice seems rather strange and unhealthy.

As difficult as it can be to live in community with others, it is the place where our faith, our love, and respect for others is demonstrated. We need each other.

The one another calls of Christian faith are numerous: Love one another, serve one another, encourage one another, forgive one another, and many more. Each one is a reminder that we are not alone and that we have a responsibility to care for one another.

We are designed for mutual love, fellowship, and care for each other - where 2 or 3 are gathered together God is present and at work.

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Best Rest

Like many of you, I have had a very busy week. Last night when I crawled into bed I was aching tired. I slept all night without stirring a single time. Long days and late nights make any of us tired. My life is not like that all the time but sometimes it is.

There are different kinds of fatigue. Staying at the hospital with a sick family member is about as exhausting as anything that I have ever done. I remember how tired I was when I played High School football and we would do those August "two-a-days" - grueling work outs that lasted for hours in the blazing heat. That was a deep, bone tired, with sore muscles and the dread of the next day lurking just around the corner. Waiting up for your daughter to come in from her Prom night is brutal and then when she arrives home safely you are so tired and wound tight you cannot sleep.

A good nights rest is wonderful. It does help to recharge us but sometimes we need to find rest for our souls and our psyche. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

An old hymn from my childhood has echoed in my head lately:
Peace, perfect peace,
By thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus---
This is rest.

There is a rest - a soul rest - peace, perfect peace that comes from just doing what Jesus has called us to do. Even when we are physically exhausted this kind of rest is the best.

Rest for your good.

Just thinking, (and resting)

Friday, July 8, 2011

What Funerals Teach Me

I have a full and rich life. I get reminders of this almost daily. Sometimes I think more about living at funerals than any other time. In my line of work, funerals and memorial services are a common experience - I have conducted three funerals in the last 10 days and attended two other memorial services. I have now conducted more than 450 funerals in my career as a minister. This is certainly not a record but it has left a genuine impression on me. One Lutheran Pastor that I read about lived and served in Europe during a terrible outbreak of the plague. He conducted an average of 10 funerals per week for a period of more than 3 years. Wow - that I cannot imagine.

I know that it may seem strange to say that I think about life at funerals but let me attempt to explain. Death is an amazing reality check. It speaks to us if we will listen.

It reminds me that each moment on this good planet we call Earth is a wonderful gift and I better get about living or I may miss an opportunity for joy, for rich relationships, and to make a difference in this world. I think I can honestly say that I am not afraid of death. I don't have a death wish - I have so many things I want to accomplish, experiences that I want to share with my sweet Linda and my family, especially my Grandchildren. My faith has helped me put death in its place - death will not have the last word - life wins! That belief enriches my life now.

I know that death causes sorrow - I have gone through the transition of death with both my parents. I miss them much. They both lived full and rich lives and now enjoy life without limitations - this I know.

So how should we live with the reality of human death there in the shadows? Live full - live with passion - live with faith - live the moments - live now and forever more!

Jesus spoke to me long ago and said, "I am the way, the truth and the life.." (John 14:6). As I continue to understand how powerful that is, life becomes more of a treasure with the passing of each day.

Just thinking, (and living!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I am sure you saw the story about the penguin that took a wrong turn and ended up over 4,000 miles away from home. The people who found the little black and white dude were amazed - how could this little guy end up in New Zealand instead of Antarctica?

Have you ever been lost? There is nothing like the feeling of being lost. I recall getting away from my parents in a mall in San Antonio, Texas when I was just a lad and then realizing that I was lost - I can still remember the feeling of dread I had. Fortunate for me my parents looked for me and found me - with some of my behavior at that age I was very blessed that they came looking. Seeing my Mom's face put the oxygen back in my lungs -- her lecture about wandering off and scaring her to death was bearable, as long as I was back with Mom and Dad.

The feeling of being lost is about as powerful as any human emotion. We get lost in every way imaginable - sometimes it is willful, sometimes it is because we are a klutz, (like me) and sometimes it is so gradual that we never even see it happening until it is too late.

Jesus told these clever stories in Luke 15 on the subject of lostness: a lost sheep, a lost coin, and lost sons. One of the points he is making is about God's love for those who are lost, for whatever reason. The picture of a shepherd who leaves his entire flock behind to look for one little lamb. Wow that is amazing! The woman who cannot live until she finds that one coin that is a special keepsake and treasure - she has a party when she finds it! And then there is that Father who runs to meet his rascal son when he sees him coming home!

I know what it is like to be lost. I know also what it is like to be loved by God, my run to me Father, as I turn my heart toward home.

I hope the little penguin makes it back home and that he is greeted with love by his family when he makes it to Antarctica - home, sweet, home!

If you are lost, there is nothing like the joy of coming home. I hope you know that.

Just thinking, Steve

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When the Underdog Wins

I love Basketball but the NBA finals had no appeal to me when the games began this year. The Miami Heat are easy to dislike, with their high paid, self-centered players boasting of a dynasty that does not exist. But I have lived most of my working career in the shadows of Houston and it is the job of anyone in the Houston area to detest anything from Dallas. So I simply had no interest in the games.

Then when I returned from a brief vacation I made the mistake of watching one of the games. I was hooked. The games were close with fierce defense and amazing basketball by both teams.
The Mav's, those detestable Dallas guys, were clearly the underdogs according to all the "experts". But, of course, the experts are often wrong - so Dirk and the guys upset the Heat and ended the series in a very convincing fashion. Another underdog is the winner!

I think one of the appeals of Jesus was that he was always rooting for the underdog. The people everyone had written off as hopeless were the focus of much of his attention and mission. I have always enjoyed Luke's narrative about the life of Jesus because it overflows with stories of Jesus reaching out to the outcast, the down and outs, and the underdogs.

The underdog story inspires us perhaps because we realize that we could be a winner too!

I ended up rooting for those Dallas guys to win! (I cannot believe I am actually admitting that!)

Take courage - even if you feel like an underdog you could be an amazing winner - Jesus has a way of making the most unlikely champions! (Samaritan women, Tax collectors, Lepers, Uneducated fishermen and more!)

Just thinking, Steve

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Proper Place

It happens to me occasionally and I have a feeling you have experienced it as well. I wear my iPod when I work out in the mornings and I hear a song and then it is in my head all day long. One morning I heard the song "My Sharona" while running - I don't even like the song but all day long it was in my head repeating the irritating line "my Sharona...."! Once I ran a 10 mile race and while we were waiting for the start the song being blasted over the loud speakers was "Play that funky music white boy..." - I ran 10 miles with that line repeating in my head! It was awful!

Today I heard another song - simple little tune first sung by a group called the Velvet Underground - a rock group from the late 60's and early 70's. Lou Reed and John Cale were the most famous members of this odd little group. They disappeared quickly as a group with no big hits. The song I heard today was simply titled "Jesus - My Proper Place". The Velvet Underground were not a religious group - far from it. I have no idea why they sang this song.

The words - Jesus, help me find my proper place. Help me in my weakness -- Jesus, Jesus, help me find my proper place.

That little song describes a prayer I have prayed often - asking the good Lord to help me find my proper place in life. You may have prayed it as well.

I think for most this is one of life's most important goals - to find our proper place.

Paul had this great line in Ephesians 2:10 where he says that we are designed by God for good works - our place is to serve. When we find that place it is a sweet feeling.

Of course, the proper place is not really geographic - we can be anyplace and be in the proper place with God's purposes. It is more a matter of our heart and mind and the spirit - finding a way to live a life expressing the purposes of God in our daily experience.

Jesus - help us find our proper place - this is my prayer today - for you and me.

Just thinking, Steve

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


What do you do for recreation? Tennis? Golf? Reading? Running? Travel? You may be aware that recreation is big business. Billions of dollars are spent by human beings to enjoy recreation.

The word recreation is a truly amazing concept to me - the idea that we can experience "creation again" or "creation renewal". What recharges and recreates people varies dramatically from one person to the next. One friend loves to ride motorcycles and takes 3000 mile rides to Canada and back, while his wife loves to curl up with a good book. Both feel "recreated" when they are able to do these things that they routinely are not able to do.

The people who cannot understand how a 10 mile run on a hilly trail would be recreation are often the people who enjoy sitting by the pool and sipping on their favorite cold beverage. Both experiences help people recover from the daily grind of life.

God, our creator, designed us to last a long time, if we understand the need for recreation along the way. Even in the creation story of Genesis we can see this principle at work - on the Sabbath God rested. The cycle of taking "sabbath" is a re-creation principle. We need time to stop work - to get recharged - to reflect - to rest - so that we are ready for the challenges that are ahead.

So as we begin the summer months - take time for recreation - get recharged so that you can be better at everything - a better spouse, a better parent, a better servant of Christ, a better friend.

Just thinking, Steve

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

He Writes the Songs

Bob Dylan turned 70 this week. He is one of the most unusual human beings that has ever come along. His interviews, which have been few and far between, leave most people with a big question mark - who is this guy and what did he just say? He is not a a PR guy - he has never been fashionable but he can do one thing - he can write a song. His voice is odd, his stage presence is non-existent, and his concern for what the audience thinks is not even on his radar - but he can write a song.

Those who have followed his career for the past 50 years have seen him develop the craft of song writing in ways that are almost beyond comparison. He is a poet but he seems to have no agenda. People have always wanted him to explain his songs - he refuses. He is not political, not interested in what the critics think and has little interest in discussing his songs - he just writes and sings the songs. The songs are just "Blowin' in the Wind" - make of them what you will.

I read about a great painter who was asked about one of his great paintings - "What is this work about?' - he shrugged his shoulders and said, "What do you think it is about?"

Dylan often tells the truth in his songs in a clever way - like the song "Gotta Serve Somebody". With this almost hypnotic feel he keeps saying, whoever you are, you're gonna serve somebody - it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you're gonna serve somebody.

Songs are often one of the most powerful ways to make people think about their lives, even if the songwriter was just writing a song.

Perhaps this is why the Psalms speak to us the way they do - they are after all songs - songs of the soul. Sometimes the Psalm writer is broken hearted and in a pit and the song comes from that place. Sometimes the Psalm writer is celebrating victory and the song lifts us up and celebrates our faith in God. There is nothing quite like a song to touch the human heart.

When my daughter was just a baby we would sing to her songs that we made up and as we held her in our arms and sang those songs her eyes would light up with joy!

Scripture pictures God singing over us - what an amazing and powerful image of his love for us - our God singing over us! (Zeph. 3:17)

I will never be a Dylan - songwriting is not my gift - but I do have so many songs in my heart. The gift of a song that touches something deep inside the human spirit - I am thankful.

Makes me want to sing!

Just thinking, (and singing) Steve

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why the Powerful Fall

Without even mentioning a single name everyone of us can think of a wealthy, powerful, influential person who seemed to have everything you could ever dream of having in this life take a huge fall. The story seems to repeat itself over and over again. What is it about gaining huge amounts of wealth, power, and notoriety that sets people up for such a dramatic collapse?

The sad reality is we almost expect our politicians, power brokers, celebrities, sports figures to crash and burn in their personal lives. We can almost see it coming. Sometimes when I see a great college athlete that signs some huge multi-million dollar deal at the age of 22 my heart just aches for them. For many of them they are totally unprepared for all that will come their way as a result of the money: the pressure to perform, and the ups and downs of public opinion. Fans can one moment worship a young player and the next want to crucify them.

Richard Foster is one of my favorite writers. Some years ago he wrote a book entitled: Money, Sex and Power. The title was soon changed to The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex, and Power. The book addresses the truth that money, sex and power must be disciplined - managed properly or they have the potential to destroy your family life, your marriage, your business, and your reputation.

My heart truly goes out to people who cannot see the danger of these powerful human drives when they are not under control and managed wisely. They are a train wreck waiting to happen.

I remember Jesus words about money - Jesus talked about money all the time, even though he never had any. He knew money was a big deal. His words are direct and clear:
"You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)

Just think about that for a while and then ask yourself a simple question: Is money (or sex or power) a rival God for me?

For all those who have made the headlines lately, I wish they could have stepped back earlier in life when all the money and power came their way and honestly asked themselves that question. Perhaps they could have saved themselves so much heart ache and loss.

Sobering for all of us who have so much of this worlds stuff.

Just thinking, Steve

Monday, May 9, 2011

Simple Pleasures

I have a personal list of simple pleasures.

Here is a partial list:
1. A good nights rest.
2. A good meal with good friends.
3. A good run on a cool morning.
4. Reading a good book on my back deck, with an ice cold drink and a crisp apple to snack on.
5. A day with my Grand kids.
6. An evening enjoying good live music with my lover and best friend, Linda.
7. Watching a good movie, with popcorn, of course.
8. A long walk on the beach on a warm, sunny day.
9. Planning a trip to a place I have never been before.
10. An afternoon mowing, trimming, and watering my yard and garden.

When I make a list like this I realize that simple pleasures are really the best of all. Who likes anything that is complicated and expensive and stressful?

One fellow was interviewed on the grand occasion of reaching his 100th birthday. The question I remember vividly was this: What has been your greatest joy? He smiled big and said, "The simple pleasures of good food and good friends - I love being with people."

I sat in a restaurant recently enjoying a nice meal with my dear Linda. We ate, laughed, talked about our day, our Grand Kids, and shared a dessert. Nearby a family of five surrounded a table with large plates of food - not one smile on any face. Dad looked like he was about to explode, Mom kept sending text messages all during the meal, the three kids looked as if they would have rather been in solitary confinement. My heart went out to them. The simple pleasure of a good meal together wasted. I imagined that away from that table Dad was fighting hard to make enough money to keep all those kids in clothes and save for college. Mom worked countless hours both in her career and at home so that the texting was therapy or an addiction to cope with it all. And those unhappy kids - insecure, trying to figure out how to grow up, look cool, and of course, never make life easy for their parents.

Oh, that we could all see the value in a simpler life - free of the constant stress and clutter and frustration and anger that had that family by the throat.

One more simple pleasure - finishing this blog. Good night, my friends!

Just thinking, Steve Yates

Monday, May 2, 2011

Staying Power

I love to hear couples talk about their long journey together in marriage. My own parents were married over 60 years. I know several couples who have been married 50 plus and 60 plus years. That makes my 37 years seem like not long at all. I have noticed that couples who have these marriages that have lasted 5 and 6 decades long have one thing in common: they all have a great sense of humor.

They can just look at each other and say a little code word and they will both laugh with great gusto. Trying to be married without humor is like taking a cold bath - you can do it but it will just make you shiver. Laughter with someone who knows your little oddities and finds your strangeness attractive is a rare and special gift. Every marriage has challenges and bumps in the road - sometimes things are not funny. But most of what we face in marriage can be enriched by a childlike joy that helps us laugh together, even when others do not get the joke! That secret place of intimate joy is remarkable.

Staying power - the ability to stay together and to find genuine joy in the journey is something very special. People who have been married 5, 10, 15 , or even 20 years make no impression on me. Their marriage may be wonderful and healthy and praise God for it! What lights my fire is a life of marriage - being married for most of your life and finding it an exciting and joyous adventure - now that gets my attention.

I am celebrating the great joy of a life together with the person who knows me inside out and still thinks I am funny, clever and odd in all the right ways!

Give us another 10 years or so and someone can say "Now that couple has staying power." Whether you have been hitched for 5 years or 50 years my prayer for you is staying power!

Just thinking, Steve Yates

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ugly and Beautiful

I watched the men's NCAA Basketball championship on Monday evening. Butler Bulldogs, from the smaller University against the Husky's of UCon - the bigger school, that had already won two championships in the past. I was pulling for those Bulldogs - I always seem to pick the underdog.(no pun intended.) In all the years I have watched Basketball it was the most remarkable display of bad shooting I have ever seen. Some are calling it the "ugliest" championship game ever. Just imagine that you battle the whole season to get to the big game and then for whatever reason you cannot make a shot. UCon did not play beautiful ball - they were just a bit better - made a few more shots.

What do we do when life is just ugly? We stumble, we fumble - we try but just cannot make it happen. Everything we do seems to bounce off the rim or go out of bounds - the harder we try the worse it gets.

I know a fellow who opened a business and for a couple of years he could do no wrong. He made boatloads of money - smooth sailing. Then things got ugly - he worked harder than ever, tried everything to make changes that would help - nothing worked. And it got ugly -people lost their jobs, he lost his business and even worse he lost his confidence that he could be successful.

I have had days, weeks, and even years that were not pretty. I would not wish those times on anybody but I do know that I learned some valuable lessons and skills during the times when every effort I made seem to flop. I learned that working hard does not always mean you will experience what we call success. In the ugly times I worked with great intensity and purpose but the results were very disappointing. I did learn the value of doing your best even when the visual results were not present. These were times to build character and learn survival skills.

Butler and UConn played ugly ball but they were the two teams that battled their way to the championship game, a place very few teams ever have the opportunity to play.

We often show the beauty of our commitment to do our best, when life is downright ugly.

And that is the beauty of it all!

"Everything is beautiful in its time." says the wisdom writer of Ecclesiastes.

Just thinking, Steve Yates

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring Time in Texas!

Spring is rapidly unfolding before me here in Southeast Texas. To those who live in the northern regions this sounds so odd, I know. The trees are blooming, the grass is beginning to green, and the spring pollen is filling the air - Springtime in Texas!

I know it is spring because my neighbor was wearing his cargo shorts last Saturday and his legs are as white as pure snow! I know it is Spring because we went to our favorite place to eat planning on sitting on the Patio and it was full and it was a 1 hour wait to get a table. I know it is Spring because the bees were buzzing me as I sat on the patio at home enjoying some recreational reading - they even wanted to go in my Diet Coke can. I kept telling them they would be disappointed. I know it is Spring because people were letting their dogs run free Sunday afternoon as my wife and I enjoyed a vigorous walk. Every dog wanted to go with us - and who can blame them - it is Springtime!

When I was a kid I would get Spring fever and along with my fishing buddies I would leave the moment school was out and sometimes even slip out a bit early (like half of a day) and head to the river to go fishing. Every fishing trip began with great hopes of catching that big bass or catfish but even if we had only limited success we had a blast.

Spring is the season of new life - maybe you need some new life. Has it been a hard cold winter of discontent for you? Take courage - the seasons of life offer new opportunities to begin again.

One friend told me about a new "Spring season" with his son. They had not spoken in several years and so he began writing his son a few months ago - he wrote 5 long letters with no response. The other day his Son called him and said, "Hey Dad, want to go fishing?" They have a day of fishing planned now. New beginnings - new hope.

Is there someone or something in your life that could benefit from a season of new beginnings? I encourage you to get "spring fever" and plant a seed and pray and hope for newness in those important relationships in your life.

Just thinking, Steve

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Crazy Stuff

Sometimes when I see and hear some interviews on television I just want to scream, "Don't do it - don't talk - run away - you sound crazy!" The latest Charlie stuff is that kind of scene. While others want to crucify this guy, my heart goes out to him. His lifestyle of drug abuse, sexual chaos, and all the rest has him living in an alternate universe! He is crashing and burning and sadly he does not even know it. When I heard his delusional thinking and bizarre answers my heart ached for him and for all those his life touches.

Instant media has the power to destroy people in seconds. A few words - an odd look (which is real easy for me) - and you can be history.

One of my favorite writers was the late Dr. Lewis Smedes. Smedes made the mistake of going on a national television program to talk about his life of faith and service to others. It all seemed like a good opportunity. By the time his words were edited and manipulated, the sound bites that were the end result of a 45 minute interview did not even resemble the conversation that took place. Smedes received hate letters, threats, and almost lost his job as a Professor at the University where he had worked with passion for more than 20 years. The media regularly destroys peoples lives and it is scary. We have created a monster. The Internet, with all it's potential for good, is the most dangerous bit of technology to enter our world in a millennium.

Poor Charlie sounds so strange but I have no desire to watch a 10 second sound bite and then decide to brutalize him. I decided rather to pray for him. Just me, but I hope when I sound kind of odd and from another planet someday, someone will show some compassion and lead me back to my padded room. Give me some Chocolate milk and cookies and I will be fine.

Just thinking, Steve

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tough Times - Tender Hearts

My life has been remarkably smooth. Sure there have been some rough spots - losses, mistakes, sins, heartaches - but compared to many others mine seem not so dramatic. I have no explanation for this. I am grateful for all the good days in my journey so far.

I talk with people regularly that are going through very tough times. I am thinking of just the past year - a woman who's husband died suddenly and she is alone now, a couple who lost a child, a man who saw his business crumble after 30 years, a teenager with a brain tumor - this is just a partial list. When we face these seemingly unfair events in our life it turns our world upside down.

I think of these folks when I read the story of Naomi in the little book of Ruth found in the Old Testament. Naomi loses her husband, then her two grown sons - she is a widow without her children in a foreign place - she says basically "I was full, but now God you made me empty."
She also says at a certain point in the story that she is bitter. She even tells people to stop calling her Naomi, which means "sweet one" and instead to call her Mara, which means "bitter."

When life comes crashing in on us it is hard to not become bitter. Phillip Yancey describes it this way: we ask God three questions - God, are you being unfair? God, are you silent? God, are you hidden? Yancey says these are the questions that Job asks of God - Naomi is a female Job. She is broken and bitter. It seems like life has crushed her.

I want to be very frank and honest. I am tired of seeing people suffer. It wears me out. Working with people in pain, is exhausting. I cannot even imagine how difficult it must be for them.

One thing I have noticed: people who somehow keep a heart and soul that is tender - not hardened - seem to recover from losses better. When we harden our heart we really stop living and just start existing.

In the case of Naomi, God sends a remarkable daughter-in-law named Ruth into her life, who blesses, loves and helps Naomi become "sweet one" again. The end of the story has a joyous ending - even with all the losses. Somehow Naomi did not allow her heart to become cold and calloused - God's grace came to the rescue!

The wisdom of Proverbs 4:23 makes the point:
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

Just thinking, Steve

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Love Day

February 14th - the "love day" - Valentine's Day! I know it must be Valentine's Day because I have had way too much chocolate the last few days. Good stuff, but I have to stop this now!

How does a day become the "romantic love day" of the yearly calendar? The pressure to buy just the right gift, say the right words, buy the right card, and show the proper excitement about it all is pretty intense. I guess we can thank the "marketing gurus" of our time who have somehow convinced us that this is "the" day for saying I love you and saying it with something expensive.

Honesty, I like the romance stuff - sweet words, hugs, kisses and all that comes with it - how could I not be in favor of something so wonderful! My sweetheart of 37 years and I had a great evening on the town last night - dinner, music, sitting close in an embrace - all good! We bought small gifts and shared sweet cards. All so good.

But why do we have to make everything about huge sums of money - every holiday has to rescue the bad economy! It is just a little over the top - way over the top!

Surely love - real love - is more than just the amount of money that we spend on a gift - isn't real love about commitment, genuine kindness, daily attentiveness, respect, support, listening, loyalty, and more. I think that deep down that is the kind of love we are really seeking.

I hope your "love day" has been good - but even more I hope that real love will power your relationships day by day, week by week, and year by year. Invest in living a life of love - now that is a gift that is invaluable!

Just thinking, (overloaded with chocolate)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It Is So Cold...

The "It is so cold" jokes are numbering into the thousands now. It is cold - no joke. My Palm trees were frozen last year for the first time ever - this will make two years in a row. One fellow told me he had to dig up 15 Palm trees that he lost last year and then replaced them and guess what - they are gone again! Thankfully he had a one year guarantee so they will be replaced at no cost except for all the digging, dirt, and blisters to replace them.

One year when we were living in Tyler, Texas it snowed about 10 inches. I had never seen a snow like that in the south - it was wet, heavy snow that stay around for a couple of weeks. We built a Snowman that stood proudly in our front yard for 14 days - it was amazing!

When I watch the weather people, in their Gore-Tex garb, reporting in the middle of a Mid-Western blizzard, I have to laugh. What do you have to do to get a promotion on the Weather Channel? Your willingness to get frost bite or be hit by flying debris during a hurricane is basic.

Al Roker in 70 mile per hour frigid winds is a vivid picture of what the weather folks will do for higher ratings.

As my wife and I snuggle up by the fire tonight, we will thank our lucky stars that the low will only be in the low 20's - not 20 below!

Stay warm tonight!

Just thinking, Steve

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Partnering with Others

During this first month of the new year I have been exploring ideas for experiencing a great year. As we close out the month one additional thought has been bouncing around in my head. The people we choose to partner with in life have so much to do with our success and enjoyment in life.

One of the things that is so clear to me is how dramatically our lives are impacted by the people we spend time with in work, in family, and in our friendships. My Mom and Dad were right when they told me to choose my friends carefully. As a kid I often resisted their counsel, which almost always caused me some serious disappointment.

The people I work with are a rare combination of passion, practicality, and patience. They bless my life beyond what I deserve but I am so grateful. My partner for life, my wife of 37 years, is the most remarkable person I have ever known. Her insights about how life really works in this world have kept me from some great disasters. Her gentle and respectful way of talking to me about my life and our life together is an amazing gift. My friends are a mixture and odd brew - they are as different from me as any human beings could be but they challenge me with their ideas, their dreams, their deep convictions about what really matters.

When I talk with people often one of the first troubling topics is who they are partnering with in life. I remember a conversation when someone told me with great candor, "Everyone I work with is a crook. They lie and cheat as a way of life." I thought when they said that, what a miserable daily life.

I tell people who describe themselves as lonely to not trade loneliness for a coalition with persons who will bring you misery and pain. As difficult as it is to find good friendships and relationships, it is well worth all the time and effort.

One of my favorite stories is the love story of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham. Lewis was a successful and a much acclaimed writer, teacher, and lecturer, whose unique way of presenting the essence of the Christian faith made him world famous. Lewis was a lifelong bachelor and showed little indication of changing but then his friendship with Joy blossomed into a deep love and marriage. In many ways, C.S. and Joy were nothing alike but their partnership which was tragically cut short by her death, changed Lewis forever. His writing after her death was some of the most amazing and challenging of his life. He became a caring and compassionate Father to her children, which seemed very improbable for a very private man like Lewis. Lewis titled one of his books, Surprised by Joy, a book about his early life and his journey to the joy of Christian faith. Not long after it was published, another Joy came into his life - Joy Davidman Gresham, another remarkable "surprise" that would have a dramatic impact in his life.

This year focus on partnering with the people who will call you to the very best in your life. And have a great year!

Just thinking, Steve

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Something New

This month I am exploring some ideas on enjoying your best year ever.

One of the most invigorating choices you can make is to try something new. Life can quickly become stale and boring if you are unwilling to explore a new venture in your life.

Over the years I have found that attempting something new has a way of activating creative thinking and living like nothing else. The challenge of learning something brand new at any age is exciting. Years ago I was a regular runner but I had never run in a road race - so I gave it a try. A 5K first, then a 10K, later a Half-Marathon, which led to 26 Marathons and several Ultra-Marathons and Trail Runs from coast to coast. I had no idea that just trying something new would become something that brought me so much joy in my life.

Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote Seabiscuit, also wrote a remarkable account of the life of Louis Zamperini, a great Olympic runner and Italian immigrant to the USA, in her newest book Unbroken. The book is not for the faint of heart because it details some of the most horrid events of Zamperini's life when he was shot down during WWII in the Pacific and remained in the water for 47 days only to be captured and imprisoned and brutalized in a Japanese concentration camp. Amazingly he survived it all and is now 93 years old. The years after his terrible ordeal during the war were not easy - he was tormented with horrible dreams, heavy drinking and an obsession for revenge. His dramatic turn to God not only saved his soul but it saved his life as well. He became a gracious and forgiving man who opened a home for troubled boys.

One of the things that was so amazing about his story was Louis Zamperine's willingness to try something new - even in his later years. There is a picture in the book of him on a skateboard at 81 years old. He became an avid mountain climber and was willing to try something new with great passion year after year. Instead of being imprisoned by his desire to get revenge, his Christian faith empowered him to forgive and he met with some of those who had held him in prison, making peace with the past.

I challenge you - try something new - something positive, something that interests you and calls you to change and grow.

Enjoy the journey!

Just thinking, Steve

Monday, January 10, 2011

Right Now Thinking

This month, as we begin a new year, I am exploring some ideas on how to experience your best year ever.

One idea that has truly had a personal and positive impact on my life is what I call "right now thinking". The concept is to see clearly and embrace what is happening in your life right now.

I spoke with someone who has cancer and is taking treatments right now. They said something so important: "This is not a dream - this is my reality at this time. The question is how do I live in this reality - how do a talk to people about it, how do I handle my fear, my anger, my grief - this is my life right now - I don't want to waste this time and not learn and grow and live."

Sometime ago, I talked with woman who had just told her adult daughter that she had to move out and live independent from her Mother. This is the first time in 25 years that she has not had a child living in the home. She is finally an empty nester. She asked, "What do I do now?" I told her it is time for some "right now thinking". It is not 1986 - the year the first child was born - it is 2011 - how do you live a meaningful and productive life now? What do you want to learn? How do you long to use your time and your talents?

One guy I know is counting down the days until his retirement - even though it is about 5 years away. All his conversations tend to be about when he retires he plans to do this or that. Right now thinking keeps us from falling into the trap of missing the life we are now living. There is nothing wrong with setting goals, making plans for the future, but remember the future is never a given - we have no idea what the reality will be in 5 years. Real life is best lived in day tight compartments - don't get stuck in the past and don't just fantasize about the future.

Right now thinking is not flying by the seat of our britches - no hopes, no dreams, no plans. It does remind us of the daily nature of real life - The Psalmist said it so beautifully, "This is the day that the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)

Psalm 90:12 says "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Just thinking, Steve

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Your Best Year

Happy New Year to all! During January I plan to offer some ideas to encourage you in the pursuit of your best year ever.

One thing that has helped me approach each new year with enthusiasm and new hope for personal growth and success will sound rather strange - the ability to forget.

I know that learning from our mistakes and using what we learn is critical for growing as a person - in fact, I have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes. So how can forgetting be helpful? I am referring to the emotional and cognitive ability to let go of the past and move forward.

If you want to have your best year ever you cannot carry the weight of past failures or the distraction of past successes into the new year. The ability to forget is the experience of letting go - there is nothing that frees us more.

Paul used this expression in Philippians 3: "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what is ahead."

Dwayne told me that he and a college friend had not spoken in 25 years because his friend borrowed some money and never paid it back. When I asked him if he ever sought to resolve the conflict he said no. So I said, "you chose to ignore the conflict, lose a friend, and carry this baggage for 25 years." He looked at me as if I had just doused him with a cold bucket of water - it was time to forget and move on and he knew it. What conflict is worth 25 years of your life? Later that day, he called his college friend and planned a time to have lunch and talk.

So as you begin this new year with all the challenges that are before you, employ your "forgetter" - let go of the baggage that can slow you and discourage you as you embrace the opportunities of a new challenge, new hopes, and new dreams for your life.

Check in each week this month for additional ideas to help you experience your best year in 2011.

My sincere hope for you is that this year will be your best year, with the help of our gracious God!

Just thinking, Steve Yates