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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Pondering Transformation

In life, transformation on July 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm

By Gunnar Simonsen

What does transformation look like anyway? I mean, has any one of us ever even seen it when it occurs? You know, that very moment, the very second it happens.

It’s kind of like the old question that if a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it?

Several months ago, I began hiking. It was a really nice nature park near my home that offered a brief respite while also being a challenging series of trails certain to bring shortness of breath to anyone in the kind of shape I was in.

That first day was an incredible experience. I had no idea at all of this beauty which existed so close to my home and yet, I had not even known it. That is until I arrived at the foot of this one hill. Of course, what did I know? I had never been there before.

I remember after maybe 10 yards into this hill thinking… how many heart attacks did I just have?

That being said, I kept moving forward all the while wondering if I could make this a habit. The scenery itself had me hooked and already motivated me to return the next day. I also remember wondering if I would ever be able to make it up this hill without the occasional stroke or heart attack.

I was halfway up the hill at this point and let me tell you… I was a mess. Where was the oxygen tank?

I look back at that day now and can sum up my experience since then with a statement my daughter made not too long ago when she joined me on the hike.

“I bet you have this entire park memorized by now.”

I don’t know when it happened, but my motivation continued as I returned to the park each day for my daily hike of 3 miles of up and down hills, snakes, deer, rabbit, eagles, and everything in between.

For me, it became not only a great opportunity to get back in shape, but also an opportunity to unhook myself from technology. This included turning the ringer off of my phone, not checking messages, email, Facebook, or Twitter. It also included no iPod with my favorite mix of music.

It included just me and that trail. I suppose you could call this a tech fast of sorts.

Not too long ago, I recall a moment on the trail where I had scaled that hill I spoke of earlier. As I reached the top this particular time, I was amazed…

“When did this happen?” I asked myself. Read the rest of this entry »

What Do Your Pages Say?

In life, story on July 12, 2011 at 3:09 am

By Collin Peterson

The patient and I found ourselves immersed in a conversation about life, the days that have passed, and the days still ahead.  I learned that the patient was a professor at a well-known regional university.  About 10 minutes into the conversation it dawned on me that this patient is, in reality, in a hospital bed.  One wouldn’t guess that this lively and upbeat man was suffering.

The conversation came to a pause and I shifted my weight to the other foot and said, “Ya know, for being in the hospital, you sure are lively.”

The patient grinned.

“While it is only an observation, it seems to me that the recovery time for patients is far less for those patients who maintain a positive attitude throughout their recovery versus those that don’t feel as upbeat,” I remarked.

The patient replied by saying, “While it is only an adage, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover.’”

“Well said.” I grinned.

“I will tell you one more thing,” the patient announced while shifting to sit upright, “A friend of mine once said that life is like a book.  Every page should be something that you can go back and touch.”

What is written in your proverbial book?  The best laugh you shared with your family, your child’s graduation, the return of a loved one.  What is not written?  Are there any missing or blank pages?  If so, why?  This man had a good point and I believe his proverb goes something like this:

“Books will never be obsolete, neither will your life.  Never include pages that do not have anything on them, they just weigh the book down.  Always be thankful for what you’re writing, as you never know how many times your story will be read.”

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

1 Timothy 4:16 The Message

She gave him a lollipop by @kelmar4

In giving, life, perspective on July 12, 2011 at 2:58 am

By Karen Mares

She walked down our street on an early summer day in her long coat and her scarf covering her head. Hunched over, she walked up to me while I was putting Boy in his car seat, ready to rush out for an errand that I can’t even remember now.

She approached me, and said, “Here, for him. I a Grandma.” She handed me the lollipop to give to my Boy. She had a thick accent that sounded Russian. Weathered face with a big smile, life had clearly not been easy for her. Yet, she smiled, and carried lollipops in her purse in case she saw a child. Her smile became mine and Boy’s. She made him happy, and me grateful. Grateful for her thoughtfulness, her smile, and the path she had journeyed to bring her to us.

She walked away after we thanked her, hunched over, a slight limp, and I haven’t stopped thinking about her since. I wondered what brought her to my street, brought her to America. I imagined all kinds of reasons why this old woman, who had clearly lived much life in her years, was here, walking down a random suburban street with lollipops in her purse. I wondered how she had survived whatever she had survived and still managed to have a desire to bring joy to strangers by sharing not only her lollipops, but in a way, a part of herself.

When I contrast that with my own self-induced frazzled life, something stirs inside me that I can’t quite put my finger on. We chase and run after the things we think we want. We get myopic. Crossing paths with this beautiful old woman reminded me that sometimes what we think we want isn’t what we need. Perhaps what we need is to make sure that we have a spare lollipop in our purses in case we see an opportunity to bring a little joy to someone else.

I went somewhere, but I did not want to by @gunnarsimonen

In Dad, death, hope, hopelessness, life, memories on July 1, 2011 at 4:38 am

By @GunnarSimonsen

Every once and awhile a moment will catch you off guard and take you to a place not long forgotten, but instead stored away in a place that is void of many visits.

I didn’t plan on it. But today, one of those moments crossed my path.

It has been 8 years since I last found myself in such surroundings. Though it was not the same place, where it took me was.

Everything was fine until I walked inside.

It was at that very moment that I found myself staring face to face with a feeling I was more than happy keeping at arms length.

With every step I took down the winding halls, the look, feel, and aroma came crashing back into my life like it was only yesterday.

In this, some memories you can never escape. The loss of a loved one has a way of  taking your mind down a path long ago traveled, but not since.

For some, it is a moment, a song, a scent, or a word that transplants you to a place mixed with all such emotions like for a brief moment, they had never left. But, as quickly as it comes… is as quickly as it vanishes.

Don’t get me wrong, I like memories on my own terms where I can control what they are and how and when I experience them. But those that come unexpected… exhale…

And there I was in a nursing home. Though I was rest assured it was not one of “those” types of nursing homes, I knew better. I could feel it.

My dad took his last breath in a nursing home 8 years ago.

And there I stood transplanted to a place of watching my dad spending his final days… his final breaths.

In this, I know that often times, these experiences are necessary for us to move forward in life as kind of a way to come to grips with that which you have faced on the journey with a loved one. For me, I find peace knowing this is the cycle of life. We come… we go. What happens in between matters and how you finish, well, that’s up to each of us.

Across the hallway a family has gathered. They know it will not be long so they wait, they watch, they ponder, they cry, they laugh… they pray.

This feeling takes me to ones final days as one waiting in line for their number to be called. they know it’s coming soon, they just don’t know when.

I wonder what it is like to be in the place of the one walking that final path? I wonder what it will be like for me… if I am given that chance.

It is then that I realize that this feeling does not need to be a negative feeling or memory…

…just as long as I am ready… for it.

Must Read: Fatherless Generation #mentoring

In fatherless, life on June 19, 2011 at 5:03 am

By Gunnar Simonsen

Sadly, everywhere I go… it’s there. From the malls of suburban America to the streets of the inner city, it’s there.

We watch the news and get overwhelmed at the string of stories that cast a dark cloud and wonder why.

My friends, we have an epidemic on our hands and do we not even know it? My friends, we have an epidemic on our hands and do you know what? We can make a difference.

I am talking about the Fatherless Generation and it needs your attention.

Did you know that according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services:

…some seventy percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes
…sixty-three percent of youth suicides and seventy-one percent of pregnant teenagers and high school dropouts
…Eighty percent of rapists come from fatherless homes
…Seventy-five percent of adolescents in chemical-abuse centers come from homes without dad
…Eighty-five percent of youth that exhibit behavior disorders and ninety percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes

Did you know that you can do something about it?

Author Dr. John Sowers not only writes about it, he is also doing something about it, too.

Sowers currently serves as the executive director for best-selling author, Donald Miller‘s The Mentoring Project.

My friends, in my years of running a chain of 15 bookstores with annual sales in the millions, very rarely would a book cross my desk that I would feel so strongly about. It is topics like this that go too unaddressed within the publishing world. When they do, we must all take note.

The fatherless generation is an epidemic that is all around us and desperately needs all of our attention.

If you want to make an impact on this world, this book is a great place to start. The fatherless generation needs you… they need all of us.

To get your copy of Fatherless Generation, which is published by Zondervan, please click here for product details and retail outlets.

My friends… let’s do this!

“Why the end of the world was on His mind” – By @johnflurry #rapture

In life on May 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm

By John Bergquist (@johnflurry)

Why was Jesus so concerned about the end of the world? I was thinking this as I stood in the locker room of my gym this week. I had Pandora on my U2 channel. I had listened and enjoyed U2’s End of the World from the Achtung Baby but I never had payed my attention to the words. The song is the lamentations of Judas talking about the last days and finally where he is left after the betrayal.

I took the money

I spiked your drink

You miss too much these days if you stop to think

You lead me on with those innocent eyes

You know I love the element of surprise

In the garden I was playing the tart

I kissed your lips and broke your heart

You…you were acting like it was

The end of the world

It is an examination of the heart and the results of greed and selfishness.

Jesus didn’t have the end of the world on his mind for the sensational news it would make one day or zombie attack preparedness. He was thinking about the condition of our hearts. In the lyrics you hear regret and torment, sorrow and confusion. Judas is so far from knowing who he is that he is stuck in “waves of regret, waves of joy”.

We all relate to Judas in some way. We have all sold out and cashed in the gift God has given us for a meaningless sum. There is a sense that Judas was being carried along in pawn like way, making his moves unknowing to the truth that Jesus was talking about the end times. Was his heart so broken that he could not see? I think so.

So where are we? Everyone is talking about the end of the world. Are we examining the gifts he has given the abundant life he offers, or are we counting the loot we have taken instead? Today might not be the end of the world. But I sure am keeping oil in my lamp. Examining my life, asking where I am being carried along like a pawn.