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Integrity: A Trait of True Heroes


Republican Sens. Alexander And Hatch Hold Health Care News Conference

One of my first jobs after college was Director of Classified Advertising for the Columbia Missourian newspaper in Columbia, Missouri. Part of my responsibility was the supervision of journalism students who were enrolled in the University of Missouri, School of Journalism. Upon graduation these young men and women wanted to pursue careers as investigative journalists. They chose investigative reporting because they wanted to make the world a better place by helping expose corruption, greed, dishonesty, fake news, and to report on matters of interest and safety to the public. In order to be well-rounded, they were required to work in different divisions of the newspaper, including advertising.

It was through my experience working with the professional and student staff of the University of Missouri, School of Journalism that I came to admire the depth of integrity and honor among principled career investigative journalists. These people were not tabloid ambulance chasers. They were not purveyors of fake news, conspiracy theories, or half-truths. They did not spread gossip or vilify others. They did not intentionally mislead others because of some hidden agenda. They dug deep to uncover tangible facts, to cite multiple sources, to ensure what they reported was true and verifiable.

It is because of these people who are now seasoned reporters that you and I have access to the facts. Each day they work hard to maintain integrity and honor. To get the facts straight. To present us with information so we can be informed about matters that concern all of us.

With so much noise and intentional distractions coming from those throughout the world who do not want us to get to the bottom of their unconscionable and illegal actions, I am especially grateful to know, while anyone can say anything, not everyone is a journalist dedicated to the honor and integrity of the profession. Those investigative reporters who continue to uphold the highest standards of fact-finding, are true modern day heroes to be admired and thanked for their service.

I am honored to know some of them. I am grateful for all of them.

 

Us is Them

Portrait of a boy with the map of the world painted on his face.

The challenges we face in the world will be easy to solve when we drop the “us against them attitude.” We cannot continue to divide ourselves along political, economic, racial, religious, gender, educational, etc. lines. Doing so will only perpetuate a divisive, uncooperative and unproductive atmosphere – which is NOT working.

God asks us to “treat others as we want to be treated.” You and I must lead the way as ambassadors of love and refuse to continue an us against them attitude in all of our relationships.

We listen to one another in order to understand. We extend the hand of friendship to our brothers and sisters. We align our hearts as God asks us and treat one another with respect, patience, accountability and kindness.

The Golden Rule is the primary directive of all world religions. It’s time for us to remember God is watching each heart. Are you and I going to end divisiveness and help create a world of peace?

The question we must honestly answer – did we go first in “being the positive change we want to see in the world?”

Be love in action and join me in stopping divisive language and behavior. That is a first step in the right direction. You and I do have the power to change the world. Let’s do this!

Love is Brave

fire photo

A friend was walking to work early in the morning when he smelled then spotted smoke coming from beneath the door of a house in his neighborhood. He knew a very old man lived alone in the house. He called the emergency number for the fire department while he banged loudly on the front door. With no response he grabbed a chair from the front porch and threw it through a window.

Cleaning the glass away he went into the smoke filled house. Staying low to the ground he crawled around until he found the old man in bed. He carried the old man out the front door and laid him on the grass. A few minutes later the fire department and medical response people arrived and took over. My friend later learned the old man pulled through. The fire was caused by a faulty space heater.

My friend received an award from the city for his heroic actions. He also received lots of attention from the media and other organizations for his kind and brave actions. And the old man and his family expressed their deep gratitude with a special dinner for him. He did not think he did anything special. He felt anyone would have done the same. He was just in the right place at the right time.

Not everyone would risk their life to save another. Without hesitation my friend did risk his own life. That makes him a true hero. And yes, he was in the right place at the right time. But he intentionally chose to be love in action.

God Made You Perfect Just as You Are

bent palm tree

Growing up I wanted to be a beautiful, popular person. Pretty girls and handsome boys got more attention, had more friends, were invited to more parties, and had more fun. It seemed those who were born good-looking were more important. That is what society, television, and movies led me to believe. But I was not pretty.

To make matters worse, it was tough growing up and not fitting into the mold of how I was supposed to dress as a girl. All my life I shied away from wearing dresses and skirts and girly shoes. Ribbons, bows, lace, and frill did not feel right on me. I did not want to be Miss America or have my hair curled.

Until graduate school, I was a below-average student in a world where getting A’s was valued so highly. Reading was not easy for me. Studying was not enjoyable. Mathematics beyond the basics was as confusing as a foreign language. I had no comprehension of chemistry or physics, and spelling, grammar, and writing were some of my worst subjects. The thought of taking an exam or having to dissect a poor little frog, much less a cat, made me cringe.

I was not attracted to boys, and I did not want a house with a white picket fence. I felt uncomfortable being programmed to value finding a husband, having kids, being a good wife, and doing what I was told. Who I was supposed to be, according to society, religion, and my peers, did not come close to who I really was.

How was I going to survive in a world where I stuck out so much?

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I Bet God Really Likes Our Being Honest

spider in web

Oh, what a tangled web we weave. When first we practice to deceive!” – Sir Walter Scott

Have you ever lied and then watched anxiously as the lie begins to weave a web of deceit? I have. More than once. I know from experience how important it is to be completely honest in order to create a fulfilling and peaceful life. No matter how hard it is to tell the truth, being honest with ourselves and others is a sign of self-love, personal power and respect. Sure, it can be quite challenging to always tell the truth but honesty is the foundation of all successful relationships, including the one we have with ourselves, and with God. Honesty is vital to establishing trust, so having the courage to be completely honest regardless of consequences is a choice we make in order to trust ourselves to do the right thing. But, temptation to avoid embarrassment or punishment or to defend our fragile ego is often hard to resist. And, rather than remain honest we choose to lie.

By lying, no matter what justification we create to defend our dishonesty, we have knowingly betrayed ourselves. Each time we choose to lie we feel the negative impact.  We instantly become caught in a sticky web that grows as one lie weaves two more. Two weave four. Four weave sixteen and on and on until we are completely stuck in our trap of dishonesty.  Once we lie we can only free ourselves by choosing to become honest because in a web of lies, Spider is truth. Truth always comes out, just like a Spider always knows something has been caught in her web. We can only free ourselves by being honest about our dishonesty.

Another aspect of being completely truthful is waking up to a refusal to do nothing when we know we are being lied to. We know a lie in our soul. We FEEL dishonesty, manipulation, and betrayal. When we choose to ignore our feelings in favor of listening to our mind’s justifications, we have been dishonest with ourselves.  We have betrayed ourselves and what we know to be right. The entangling mistake of going against our feelings is that our head DOES NOT FEEL!

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STOP! Making New Year’s Resolutions

2018

We’re four days away from the new year.  Soon we’ll move out of the old and into the new.   Along with the parties and fireworks, this is an opportunity to reflect on life.  To look at what is going well and what about ourselves and our situations is not going as we want them too.

Often I think we make a plan for how we’re going to change with the New Year through a list of resolutions.  We sit down with paper and pen to jot down all the things we want to change, about ourselves and our life. But is that the best way to achieve our goals? Honestly that never worked for me.

To be truthful, I no longer make a list of New Year’s resolutions.  For way too many years I set myself up declaring all the things I was going to change about myself, yet did not stick with them long enough to actually achieve the change I wanted. Then I would spend the next eleven and a half months beating myself up for not keeping the resolutions I made.

I learned it is super productive and also a real boost to our self-esteem when we narrow our focus. So this year join me in breaking the habit of making a long list of resolutions. Let’s identify one thing to concentrate on, one thing we can master to the point we make it a consistent part of our new 2018 life-style.

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I Bet Jesus Thinks Presence is More Important than Presents

Christmas tree with fire place

I have a love/not love relationship with the holidays.

I love the multicolored twinkling lights that adorn homes and offices. I adore the aroma of warm cookies and sweet treats baking. I get teary-eyed at the sounds of carolers as I am taken back to pleasant childhood memories of doing the same with my friends. I cherish the tinkling of the Salvation Army bell that reminds us of those less fortunate.

I like the confused look on my little dog’s face when I snap a photo of her in reindeer antlers. I love spending a week writing holiday cards, reinforcing my connection to treasured people in my life. I appreciate the Jewish tradition of lighting the Hanukkah Menorah for the Festival of Lights and the heart-based motivation behind the Christmas tradition of God-consciousness being birthed in the form of the man Jesus.

Yes, I love the reverence for spiritual enlightenment, festivities, fun, food and gatherings for the holidays. And I don’t love the consumerism that is so pervasive this time of year.

It used to be well past Thanksgiving before holiday ads started to appear. Now I am still roaming around in my Halloween costume when the relentless assault begins. The twinkling lights, tinkling bells, and carolers are a mere whisper among the roar of ads for the countless “things” we should wrap up for our loved ones to show we care.

When did what we buy become more important than standing by?

When did presents become more important than presence?

When did “things” become the most important things?

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Love Is Truly a Many-Splendored Thing

love

I sobbed in a homeless man’s arms.

I did not know the man. Most likely I will not see him again, but I will never forget the moment our hearts touched in the intimate dance of raw truth: he lives on the street and I in a warm apartment.

I wanted to take him home with me.

It began when I commented on his dog. He smiled very proud and said, “Yea, she’s great. I’ve got her back and she’s got mine.”

As he spoke, gently petting the dog, I reached into my wallet and took out all the money I had. Without counting, looking, or caring what he would do with it I handed it to him. He hesitantly took it. As our hands touched my tears began. The young man reached out, wrapped me tight in his arms and said, “It’s okay. We’re okay out here. Thank you for caring.”

As I turned to leave he said, “I love you.”

I looked him in the eyes and said, “I love you too.”

Until then I’d never said, “I love you,” to a complete stranger. To someone with whom I’d only met and exchanged a few brief moments. Yet, when I spontaneously responded to the man with “I love you,” I meant it from the bottom of my heart and with every part of my being.  There was no thought. My heart was simply wide open and spilling out came the pure, honest emotion of caring deeply for him.

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NOW, is Where Your True Power Lies

Drop of water

Have you ever considered your past is no longer a real moment in time that you can influence or change? The past only holds memories of your life as it was. Returning to fond memories brings you great joy, but the past officially ended the instant you stepped from the then into now.

You and I cannot go back in time to change the choices we made. Reflecting on the past and our previous choices is the way we learn. But, allowing our mind to dwell on what we think should have, would have, or could have been in the past takes our attention away from the present. However, only in the present is it possible to apply what we learned from the past and create a better outcome for the moment that is now.

The same is true of the future. Regardless of how badly we may want the future to come, we cannot rush ahead and live in a time that does not yet exist. The future is not real; it is only the next moment’s present, over and over, infinitely.

Permitting our mind to race ahead and attach itself to worries of what may happen disconnects us from the present, the only time possible to purposefully get ready for a future event. So, one key to living a fulfilled life is to patiently surrender to the truth: Life is only real now.

You and I have a conscious choice to make. We can live disconnected from the present while convincing ourselves we are actually plugged in, or we can slow down, remain patient, and focus our attention on immersing ourselves in the moment at hand.

One truth is that there is something wonderful hidden in every moment of life. Another is that our contentment comes from slowing down to find it by mastering our attention to stay right here, right now.

Each moment your mind is flooded with thought. You are constantly processing information. You are not without power over your mind and the thoughts it creates. You are not your thoughts. You are the conscious, present heart-self that is responsible for remaining aware of what you think so you stay present in the moment.

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Only by Doing, do Things Actually Get Done!

easy_button

Have you seen the commercial on television with a huge red EASY button?  Something horrible happens and with just one push of the button life magically transforms from disastrous to idealic?  Have you ever wanted your own big red button?  When life gets challenging or a relationship goes south or you need a huge pile of money, you just whip out that shiny button and BAM all of life’s troubles fade like magic.

Today I want to talk with you about one of the indisputable facts of life. That’s right this law is not debatable, period!  There is no EASY button to life, ladies and gentlemen.  Maybe we need a brief moment of silence to honor the death of a myth we’ve held for way too long.

Sorry if I’ve burst your bubble but YES it is true – everything is easier said than done. It’s obvious words are easy to say while action on the other hand is often a huge pain in the butt.

I sat around for twenty years telling myself and other people I was going to quit smoking.  It was so easy to say it but a true pain to actually do. But I did it.

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