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Doing the Right Thing Feels FANTASTIC!

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I was walking behind a man who was smoking a cigarette. When finished, he flicked it high into the air, aiming for the street I guess. In an odd twist of circumstance the wind caught the still lit butt, sending it back over his shoulder and into my face, leaving a small burn on my right cheek.

He did not look back to see where his cigarette landed. I brushed myself off, crushed out the burning cigarette, and put it into a nearby ashtray on top of a public trash can.

I smoked for twenty-two years. There were many times I threw the butts out without thinking about the consequences of my actions. Did I ever burn anyone? Did I start a fire on the roadside? Did someone ever step barefooted on a still lit cigarette of mine? Did a toddler ever pick up one I threw out? Who did pick up my tossed out butts?

I understand what it is like to behave without thinking about the consequences of my actions. I am grateful for the day I accepted the behavior I put out eventually comes back to me in one form or another. That was the day I began caring how my actions impact me and how they may impact someone else.

The interesting thing is we are ones who benefit most from caring about our behavior. Other people may never know how our remaining self-aware of our actions benefits them but it never fails that we feel FANTASTIC about ourselves from choosing to do the responsible thing.

Father and Parent: Often Two Very Different Things

Copy (1) of Dad and Regina 11-05

I have two fathers. One was my biological father who got my 13 year old mother pregnant. She gave me up for adoption then out of guilt married him and they had four more children.  I met him once along with my biological mother, brothers and sisters.  It was not a pleasant experience. He was a gruff man who I later learned frequently threatened the children with a gun and was often physical and verbally violent.

My other father is the man who raised me. Jean and Reagan Cates could not have biological children but they badly wanted little ones to share life with. So they adopted my sister, Rachel, and me.

I remember when mom told me. I was about five years old and we were sitting on the kitchen floor in our little house on Mistletoe Street in Victoria, Texas. She said I was deeply wanted and loved. So much so that she flew all the way from Victoria to Plainview, Texas to get me. I don’t think there was a time in life when I did not feel like their child just because we lacked a biological connection. LOVE is not conditional. That is a lesson Jean and Reagan began teaching me at three days old when they gave me a home.

Very early in life I learned anyone can father a child. But not everyone can parent to raise a child so they feel loved, appreciated, respected and worthy as an individual and as a woman.

Although my dad, Reagan, is far from perfect just as I am not, he was and remains at the age of 94 a man who chose to learn how to be an excellent father.  I am honored to have been adopted by him and I am honored he is still alive for me to tell him how much I appreciate him.

Free Speech is NEVER Free!

Angel with finger on lips

Although we may live in a free country, and have a constitutional right to the freedom of speech, we are not entitled to say whatever we want without caring about the consequences of our actions. Freedom of speech does not mean we are free to do what we want, say what we want, text what we want, post to social media what we want, without regard to the consequences of our actions. Action without accountability is not free. There are always consequences!

As ambassadors of love we accept extensive personal freedom requires us to operate at the highest levels of personal integrity. Doing so maintains our integrity as we navigate within social systems that often allow and encourage pushing acceptable boundaries to intolerable and ridiculous extremes.

The idea it is suitable to act without caring about short- and long-term consequences is completely egotistical, motivated by the impatience, immaturity, and thoughtlessness of self-centered ego.  Ego is not interested in treating others as we want to be treated.  Only heart cares what Jesus would do.

Love is ACTION!

 

Love is gentle.

Roses heart love symbol

Love is respectful.

Love is truthful.

Love is committed.

Love is patient.

Love is cooperative.

Love is loyal.

Love is forgiving.

Love is honest.

Love is peaceful.

Love is kind.

Love is responsible.

Love is compassionate.

Love is thoughtful.

Love is happy.

You and I create the most amazing life when we live as love in action.

Right or Happy? Your Choice!

Through e-mail, I agreed to pick up and return my friend Katherine to the airport. Two weeks before her arrival, something came up that required me to change plans for transporting her back to the airport. Still through e-mail, I assured her I would find someone to give her a ride back.

She arrived and I was at the airport to greet her. After some time together, I confirmed I was unable to give her a ride back to the airport. The news came as a shock. Nothing I said could convince my friend I had sent a second e-mail two weeks earlier; she thought I was lying.

It was not easy, but the truth was that no matter how much I wanted validation from Katherine, there was absolutely nothing to be gained by arguing with her. Leading with our heart is caring more for friendship than pride, so I chose to let go of my ego’s need to be recognized as right. I did not want to be angry with her, nor did I want our time together to be uncomfortable. The only option I saw to ensure peace of mind was to be patient, accept what was, and allow the situation to resolve itself.

A few weeks after my friend returned home, she was having repairs made to her computer when several mysteriously lost e-mails arrived in her in-box. Among them was the one I had sent.

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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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