Category Archives: Attending or Focus

Jon Acuff on Character at Work – 9 Quotes & a Challenge – Part 4 of the Do Over Series

Blog - Jon Acuff & wife JennyPhoto Credit: Nancy Ray Photography

Who would have thought reading a business book would become a deeply personal experience? Encouraging. Empowering. Do Over has launched itself in my life. Jon (the writer) and Jenny (the wife) Acuff have become like good friends, in a virtual book-driven way. He’s clearly a funny, risk-taking, keen observer of people in the workplace.  She, on the other hand, seems to both hold his feet to the ground and spur him on to what’s next. I’m pretty certain that Jon’s “do over” has Jenny written all over it. Thank you, Jenny.

When he talks about character (in the section of the book I’m covering today), he compares it to planting fruit trees. Character takes time to grow. Its fruit is worth the work and the wait.

As in previous blogs in this series, Jon will do most of the talking.

9 quotes follow. Also an exercise and a closing challenge. I hope you read the book. It is seriously, or not so much seriously, like grappling with a friend about a deep longing for career. Then receiving the best. advice. ever. Jon’s cool, and all…but his own fight for humility and honesty and his own fears and failures give him a platform. A platform to talk into my life and into the lives of those I love the most – my husband and my adult children. Thank you, Jon.

So here’s a bit of what he says about character and its impact on us in the workplace…especially in considering a Career Jump.Blog - Do Over

“Relationships get you the first gig. Skills get you the second. Character is the reason that people will still want to give you another chance if the first opportunity fails. Character is the mortar between all the other parts [relationships, skills, hustle] of the Career Savings Account. It’s what holds the other things together. “

“Character is also what you need the most when you make a positive, voluntary career transition, or what we’re calling a “Career Jump.” You need it the most then because it will be tested the most when you ‘just go for it’ or ‘chase a dream’.”

“When you make a [career] jump, you will be tempted to cut corners, to quit when the going gets tough and lose your patience when the results you expected don’t immediately happen. It is your character that will push you forward.”

Exercise: This time we don’t use note cards, but a notebook would be handy. Jon asks the question: What’s one character trait, related to your career, that you’d like to grow stronger? That’s where we start. You might still want a friend’s help in this. None of us are perfect, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. Just pick one to start.

As part of this exercise, consider those weeds in the workplace that could choke out that character trait you’re planting and nurturing. Jon lists four especially nasty (and all too common) ones:

  • Narcissism – our focus is all on ourselves. Weighing every decision and process in your workplace as it relates to you.
  • Dishonesty – Covering a mistake, embellishing our performance, gossiping, outright lying.
  • Pessimism – That negative cup-half-empty (or even broken) take on how things are going at work. It’s not just a weed in your own orchard but it can seed clouds over your coworkers’ view of work. Pessimism can rob you of the ability to brainstorm and to dream (“two activities that require the optimism of creativity”).
  • Apathy – you’ve gotten to the place you just don’t care anymore. What was once being passive now becomes deeply defiant. Partnered with pessimism, you convince yourself that you don’t have what it takes to do a Career Jump. A dry and dogged inertia can set in, crippling your ability to orchestrate a Career Jump.

Acuff focuses on 3 character traits in particular to grow in your Career Savings Account: Generosity, Empathy, & Being Present.

Generosity is a game-changer. During a Career Jump give generously as a way to beat back the weed of greed. Greed will end up costing you a lot more than you think. Make your definition of generosity bigger by being generous with your skills and time, not just your money.”

Empathy = Understanding someone else’s needs and acting on them. Generosity and empathy are closely intertwined; they go hand in hand. The stronger you get in one, the stronger you’ll get in the other.”

“The simplest thing you can do to be empathetic [is to] show up.”

“If you really want to reinvent your work and get ahead, there are three things you need to deal with – your phone, your computer and your meetings. Be present.”

[You hear this a lot these days – how distracting are our phones and other electronic devices, and how our shortened attention spans have impaired us related to deep thinking and creative, out-of-the-box dreaming and decision-making. The ones who deal with these will be the outliers – the leaders in the fields of our future. It’s laid out there – now for us to take our lives back.]

“You need character the most when you decide to chase a dream. “

“The moment you decide to make any sort of change in your career, you send other areas of your life into chaos. The bigger the change, the bigger the chaos. Wherever you jump, your character jumps with you.”

Challenge: “Is living with the chaos of a decision easy? Not really, but you do get used to it. I try to create [chaos] sometimes as a way to hide from something else I’m afraid of. I’ve discovered that’s a lightning-fast way to drain a Career Savings Account. When real chaos comes…don’t fight it. If anything, lean into it. ‘Easy’ and ‘adventure’ very rarely travel together.”

These Four Character Flaws Can Kill Your Career – Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff – Character Archives

The Awesome Career Audit – Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff Quotes by Goodreads (different from ones above)

Why I Hate Jon Acuff by Rob Shep

Do Over – Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck – by Jon Acuff – Notes (Part 1)

Courage – Putting Off Cynicism and Giving Up Control

Blog - Courage from bpnews.net photosPhoto Credit: bpnews.net

Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you! – Deuteronomy 31:6

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me? – Psalm 56:3-4

Couragethe strength of mind to carry on in spite of danger or difficulty; old French meaning: “from the heart

Courage comes with time or necessity. When I was a child, Chicken Little (from the children’s story Henny Penny) could have been my modus operandi in dealing with life. The world seemed a scary place. If there was any way I could control it, I would (people-pleasing, saying what I thought people wanted to hear instead of the truth sometimes, circling up with friends who preferred me). Me, me, I, I. Being afraid centers on self…it keeps truth out and generates a “reality” that keeps walls up. To break out of that, courage was a necessity. With time and growing up, the world become smaller (and God bigger), and courage was born.

In my twenties, I read a little book shared with a me by a brave friend who had herself broken out of her own self-imposed walls. The book was Hannah Hunnard’s Hinds’ Feet on High Places*. The heroine was called Much Afraid. It is an allegory of a Christ-followers who struggled with fear and yet desired to know God in the high mountains of joy. The book tells a story of how she lost her fear over her journey of faith and devotion.

Courage comes with focus, focusing up and out. It won’t come with focusing on self and being in control. It comes with turning our focus on God and others. Simple as that. If we want to control our situation, we can rein in our circumstances and relationships such that we are not threatened. Occasionally someone or something may break through our fortress, but with determination, we can quickly rebuild. Circling tightly around our own selves, and only those people and things that matter most to us. Trumping any reality we choose to ignore or avoid. Or so we think…Blog - Courage 2 from bpnews.net photosPhoto Credit: bpnews.net

Courage takes risks and lets go of control. As I got older, I realized that life is so much more precious than the bits that I try to control. A long time ago, a little saying, “Let go, and let God” settled into the hard drive of my mind. I don’t always surrender myself to fullness of life and depth of relationship that God has for us…but when I do…well, worth the risk. Worth giving up my paltry control. Worth it.

Courage keeps me from cynicism. Paul Coughlin said it best: “Cynicism drains our lives of hope, optimism and creativity—raw material that help build our foundation of courage. Men are especially seduced by cynicism’s ability to look like you are on the playing field of life, committing deeds that are useful and powerful. But in reality the cynic is comfortably anchored on the cushy sidelines of life, lifting no burdens, creating no light & being no salt. This ability to always see the worst in people and situations is often a hiding place for fear, timidity and indifference. It allows us to be invulnerable observers rather than participants at risk and of sacrifice. Worse, the cynic often justifies his lack of redemptive and courageous action. Ultimately, cynicism is the language of self-preservation, which drains us of courage and shrivels our souls.”**

Take courage, Dear Ones. Leave off cynicism. Give up control. See what God will do when you show up, ready (in Him) for whatever comes your way today.

Blog - Courage 4 from bpnews.netPhoto Credit: bpnews.net

What Does the Bible Say About Courage?

Bible Verses About Courage

*Hinds’ Feet on High Places Quotes

** What Drains Us of Courageous Faith?

YouTube Video – Courageous – final scene

Blog - Courage 6 - film CourageousPhoto Credit: CourageoustheMovie

 

Worship Wednesday – Breathing In Your Grace, Breathing Out Your Praise – Your Grace Finds Me by Matt Redman

Blog - Grace 2

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). – Ephesians 2:4-5

He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. – 2 Timothy 1:9

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.2 Corinthians 12:9

“Grace means undeserved kindness. It is the gift of God to man the moment he sees he is unworthy of God’s favor.”Dwight L. Moody*

The fact of God’s grace overwhelms me this morning. A friend is in the hospital in labor, a month early, preparing to give birth to her baby girl. Another dear one is daily receiving friends to lavish her with love in her battle with a raging recurrent cancer. Family members come to mind who have landed their dream job, while others endure difficult job situations, or no job at all right now. I watch friends celebrate long years of marriage and pray for others whose marriages are interrupted by a spouse dying or leaving.

There is grace for all of us. God’s grace. Undeserved…but full and free…His strength in our weakness.

blog - grace 5Blog - Grace 13 Nathan & Bekkah Wedding Slideshow Final 023

I grew up in church singing hymns about grace. One we all know is Amazing Grace. Another one is Grace Greater Than Our Sin. What an incredible gift that God gives us – this grace that covers all the darkness (and illuminates all the good) in our lives and fills all the gaps between us and God. Rejoice in this last stanza of that old hymn:

“Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?” – Julia H. Johnston

Worship with me now, if you can, with the lyrics of a contemporary hymn of grace by Matt Redman:

It’s there in a newborn cry
There in the light of every sunrise
There in the shadows of this life
Your great grace

It’s there on the mountain top
There in the everyday and the mundane
There in the sorrow and the dancing
Your great grace
Oh, such grace

From the creation to the cross
There from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

It’s there on the wedding day
There in the weeping by the gravesite
There in the very breath we breathe
Your great grace

It’s the same for the rich and poor
The same for the saint and for the sinner
Enough for this whole wide world
Your great grace
Oh, such grace

There in the darkest night of the soul
There in the sweetest songs of victory
Your grace finds me
Yes your grace finds me

Your great grace
Oh such grace
Your great grace
Oh such grace

So I’m breathing in Your grace
And breathing out Your praise
I’m breathing in Your grace
Forever I’ll be

Your grace finds me
Yes Your grace finds me

Lyrics – Writers: Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin

YouTube Video – Your Grace Finds Me with lyrics by Matt Redman

YouTube Video – Your Grace Finds Me (Life from Lift – A Worship Leader Collective

Story Behind the Song Your Grace Finds Me

Photo Credit:  Matt Redman

Grace Quotes – Precious Grace

Top 12 Quotes on Grace

*8 Enlightening Quotes on God’s Grace

17 Awesome Christian Quotes About Grace

Clear Winter Nights – an Interview with Author Trevin Wax

A Dispenser of Grace by John Ortberg

Grace Greater Than Our Sin (Grace, Grace, God’s Grace) – great old hymn

Grace Greater Than Our Sin by Bart Millard on the album Hymned AgainBlog - Grace 3

10 Quotes by Jon Acuff on Developing New Skills & Sharpening Old Ones – Part 3 of Do Over Series

Nathan at guitarPhoto Credit: Nathan Mills Guitar

There’s this guitarist I know. His music is a work in progress. Not his music itself, because he hones his craft daily. Still, his career in music is a study in skill development. No industry stands still. The ability to silence a room with the sound you bring out of a guitar does not a living make. Usually.

There are so many other skills called to bear in a successful career in music today. Composing, arranging, teaching, performing, collaborating, marketing, production, diversifying style or instrument. Whew!

Then there’s your day job (by necessity, or for other reasons). Wisdom is to bring the same disciplines and desire, of that skilled musician, to work every day. To be the best asset you can be for your employer or your company. Shirking entitlement and nurturing an attitude of graciousness and gratitude.

Who is this person?!

Jon Acuff talks about becoming such a person in his book Do Over. He tackles the subject of sharpening and developing skills as imperative to any career, and especially to break through a Career Ceiling.

Have you ever gotten stuck in a job? No, I’m not talking about being ungrateful or feeling entitled to a better situation. I’m talking stuck – as in getting to a place in your job where you can’t see being able to ever advance or be more creative or grow professionally?

Acuff invites us readers to take a good look at our skills to see what exactly we uniquely bring to your job. This would include skills we might have discounted or even forgotten we had.

Below are 10 bits of wisdom from Jon’s section on skills:

  • Relationships get you the first gig, skills get you the second.
  • When you hit a Career Ceiling, skills will be the hammer you use to break through.
  • Don’t let fear hide a skill you’ve always had or wanted to pursue. Just because you’re afraid of doing something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
  • Small skills have the tendency to add up to big careers.
  • Master the invisible skills – Go to work; add value; own your attitude.
  • When you have a bad attitude it flavors every part of your performance.
  • If you want to get better at something, it always costs time. If you don’t have any, steal some from…Facebook or any number of things that are requesting that resource without paying you anything in return.
  • I’m convinced that fear beats the “You don’t have enough time” drum because it never wants you to invest in your career. This is a lie.
  • Your willingness to discipline one part of your life creates freedom in another.
  • You will need skills most when you find yourself stuck. The ceilings are designed to filter out the lazy and uncommitted. Every skill can be a hammer. Start banging. Career Ceilings were meant to be broken.

Like with looking at our relationships, he calls for us to use note cards and list (one per card) all the skills we can think of – whether currently using them or only in the past; whether work-related or not so much. Once we’ve exhausted our ideas on skills then, he says to look for patterns.* It’s so easy to settle into a rut of doing the same thing every day. Going after new skills and sharpening old ones help us to be good at our jobs and, at the same time, love our work.

Whether you are a musician, a teacher, an I.T. guy or a caregiver, you have skills and you can build on those skills. Determining to be diligent to grow your skills and grateful for the opportunities to learn will take you farther than you know. Right through that career ceiling.

“You know who we should fire, that guy who keeps learning how to do his job even better,” said no one ever. – Jon AcuffBlog - Do Over - Jon Acuff

Photo Credit: Forbes.com

*A Simple Two-Step Exercise for Figuring Out What You’re Really Good At – Jon Acuff, Business Insider Start Your Do Over Today

Start Your Do Over Today! – Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff: Why Most People Don’t Reach Their Full Potential And How You Can

Nathan Mills on Vine

Crosstrain at Habitat for Humanity - Aug 30 2014Learning new skills on-site with Habitat for Humanity

The Story of Us – A Quick Bit about Marriage Through Its Difficult Seasons

2009 August 25th Wedding Anniversary in Paris 128

“Contempt is conceived with expectations. Respect is conceived with expressions of gratitude. We can choose which one we will obsess over—expectations, or thanksgivings.”   – Gary Thomas*

“I wouldn’t be surprised if many marriages end in divorce largely because one or both partners are running from their own revealed weaknesses as much as they are running from something they can’t tolerate in their spouse.”   – Gary Thomas*

The Story of Us (1999), a film, starring Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer, details a marriage gone flat. I wanted to see the film at the time but the R rating (for language and brief sexuality) deterred me. Just yesterday, I caught the last half-hour of it, and loved that bit. Not recommending the whole film necessarily (it got terrible reviews) but Michelle Pfeiffer’s monolog at the end is amazing.Blog - Story_of_us - Wikipedia, Universal Pics, Warner Bros Pictures

To set the scene (if you didn’t see the movie either), Willis and Pfeiffer (actors I love) are Ben and Kate in a 15-year marriage. It has unwoven terribly over time. While their two children are away at summer camp, they decide to separate. Toward the end of the film, they are both rethinking their decision. As they pick up their children together, the emotional tension of that reunion is so touching. The monolog, in that last scene, is a great declaration of why not to destroy “the story of us”.

Before you watch (or read**) that scene, let me just say this about marriage and divorce…

My family history is riddled with divorce, and I was afraid of marriage because of all my biological family issues. Divorce happens, and honestly, there are situations when we can’t see any other way out, or through. Still, marriage, as we all at least say if not always believe, is worth the fight.

There are so many reasons to work through the dry and difficult seasons of marriage. Gary L. Thomas is a great teacher on this subject and I recommend all of his books on marriage. They are practical and empathetic and full of hope.

One thing I value is history in relationships. When we went through our hard seasons in marriage, I held on to three things: 1) wanting to honor God in my marriage; 2) never wanting the consequences of divorce (had experienced those as a child growing up in divorce); and 3) not wanting to lose our life together (“the story of us”).

We, my husband and I, are in a different place now, and I can say to any in fragile relationships right now, “Wait for it!” “Work for it!” Of course, it takes two. Pfeiffer’s monolog would have had a whole other feel if Willis didn’t respond, in the film, the way he did. In married life, it does take two, but God, in His mercy and love, adds great power and grace to the one willing. Hold on to that.

So here’s just a part of Pfeiffer’s monolog (women, especially, might enjoy reading this out loud, if you’re in a private place – so full of earnestness and vulnerability – just sayin’):

“We’re an “us”. There’s a history and histories don’t happen overnight. In Mesopotamia or Ancient Troy or somewhere back there, there were cities built on top of other cities, but I don’t want to build another city. I like this city…That’s a dance you perfect over time. And it’s hard, it’s much harder than I thought it would be, but there’s more good than bad. And you don’t just give up. And it’s not for the sake of the children, but they’re great kids aren’t they? And we made them – I mean think about that – there were no people there and then there were people – two of them. And they grew…  Let’s face it, anybody is going to have traits that get on your nerves, why shouldn’t it be your annoying traits? I’m no day at the beach, but I do have a good sense of direction so at least I can find the beach, but that’s not a criticism of you, it’s just a strength of mine. And you’re a good friend and good friends are hard to find… I mean I guess what I’m trying to say is – I love you.”**

[I know this is just a movie and maybe not a great one – it just reminded me – the bit I saw, and the monolog – of possibilities and hope. For you who have been terribly hurt in marriages you saw no way to save, God knows…and wants to heal that place in your heart.]

*Gary L. Thomas Quotes at Goodreads

YouTube Video – The Story of Us – Ending – Michelle Pfeiffer’s Amazing Monolog

**One of the Best Monologs Ever

The Story of Us film

How The Story of Us Should Have Ended – just for fun – a variation but with the same conclusion

A Lifelong Love: How to Have Lasting Intimacy, Friendship, and Purpose in Your Marriage by Gary Thomas

A Lifelong Love Quotes

Gary Thomas Answers Your Marriage Questions

YouTube Video – The Story of Us – Taylor Swift – Great song – Disclaimer – NOT about marriage

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.com

Worship Wednesday – Rest, the Lord is Near – Reminder by Steve Green

Blog - Holy Week Wednesday 9Photo Credit: Baptist Press

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.Isaiah 26:3-4

It was an early morning on the streets of Casablanca, Morocco. I was surrounded by other drivers headed for work. They were not in my thoughts – except to stay clear in the crowded intersections where merging and turning happen skillfully or magically.

My thoughts were centered on the car in front of me where two friends were heading to a hospital. The wife was prepped to have surgery that morning to see if the problem in her abdomen was cancer. I was going with them for the occasion that day that she would need extra help and a woman to stand in for her husband. It was the custom for such things there.

She was a dear friend in those overseas days – the other mother to my sons. Friends with her son, they loved eating at her guy-friendly table or taking over her salon to play video games or watch a movie. This woman was a rock in her family’s lives…and ours. As I watched her, from behind, so small, beside her husband, jostled in the crazy traffic…I prayed.

Troubled with the possibilities and prospects of a life-changing diagnosis, my mind ping-ponged all around, even in prayer. Then, a song came up in my playlist…and every other voice in my head went silent. It was this old song by Steve Green entitled Rest, The Lord Is Near. You hear people tell stories of hearing God speak to them, almost audibly. This was one of those moments for me.

After that, I knew, whatever the outcome of her surgery, that she (we) would be alright. Nothing would change in the larger story of our lives. Most importantly, in that moment, I remembered that God was the same. Loving Father, Great Physician, Tender Comforter, All-Wise God.

The surgery went very well. She would be fine. My boys still love to feast at her table…and we are still friends…although living worlds apart now. What I was reminded that day, in my car alone in Casablanca traffic, was less about healing…or answered prayer…and more about God’s call to us to rest.

Blog - Rest - Sleep - Baptist PressPhoto Credit: Baptist Press

Sometimes that rest is like the sleep of a child, safe in the care of a loving, watchful parent. Even in Steve Green’s song, he delivers it as a lullaby really. How often we just need an all-out separation from the stresses of life…either in a respite in God’s Word, or a change of place (in our garden or by a sea, any sea, for me)…or sometimes just plain sleep. They are all rest in their turn.

Sometimes the rest is more active, like it was for me that morning. I was still maneuvering through a sea of cars, still watching my friends’ car so I wouldn’t lose them, and still praying. Yet, my state of mind moved from an anxious attention to being “at ease”. The image comes to mind of the military command. It’s defined as “a position of rest in which soldiers may relax but may not leave their places”. Blog - Rest - At EasePhoto Credit: military.com

Sometimes, we can’t leave our situation, our place in the battle. We must be present. We, as believers, are “under orders” from our King. Yet, even in those daily duties, He calls us to rest. I pray today that, whatever you’re facing, you will have moments when you are able to let go and lean into the arms of almighty God…and remember He is just that near.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

Worship with me:

Rest the Lord is near
Refuse to fear
Enjoy his love

Trust, His mighty power
Fills every hour
Of all your days

There is no need
For needless worry
With such a Savior
You have no cause to ever

Doubt His perfect word
Still reassures
In any trial

Rest the Lord is there
Lift up your prayer
For He is strong

Trust, He’ll bring release
And perfect peace
Will calm your mind

There is no need
For needless worry
With such a Savior
You have no cause to ever

Doubt His perfect word
Still reassures
In any trial

Call Him, if you grow frightened
Call Him, with loving care
He’ll lift the burden and you’ll

Rest the Lord is near
Refuse to fear
Enjoy His love

Trust His mighty power
Fills every hour
Of all your days

Rest the Lord is near
Refuse to fear
Enjoy His love*

Blog - Resting in Praise & Worship - Baptist PressPhoto Credit: Baptist Press

*Lyrics to Rest sung by Steve Green (Lyrics and Music by Phill McHugh And Greg Nelson

YouTube Video – Rest – Steve Green (official music) from Joy to the World album

YouTube Video – Jesus, I am Resting, Resting – Steve Green

YouTube Video – Trust His Heart with lyrics – Babbie Mason

YouTube Video – Like a River Glorious (Stayed Upon Jehovah, Hearts are Fully Blessed) – by Frances Ridley Havergal –  one of my favorite hymns growing up2009 April May Trip to Georgia 161IMG_0023 (2)

“I’m the Boss” – Dad and Alzheimer’s – A Strange Companionship

2015 June Trip to Georgia to See Dad & Family 004After I punched in the security code (to keep residents in rather than us out), the heavy door released its lock allowing entrance to the memory care unit, First thing, I could hear Dad before even seeing him. He was sitting on the sofa, holding the toy he loves most – a dinosaur given to him by his daughter-in-law. [He thinks it’s a kangaroo, and, in fairness, it sort of looks like one]. He was staring off, repeating over and over, “I’m the boss. I’m the boss.”

The staff and other residents around this common room seemed completely unscathed by his declaration. A “stranger” entering the room broke the normalcy of the atmosphere. I’m sure they knew it made me uncomfortable to see my dad “lost” in some other consciousness.  He has Alzheimer’s.

I’ve written about Dad’s life with Alzheimer’s before (here). He was admitted into an assisted living facility only four-and-a-half months ago. He continues to do very well, despite life-threatening situations (blocked carotid arteries, metastatic colon cancer, and now Alzheimer’s). He amazes me, really. It is obvious, from visit to visit, that his disease is taking its toll. Yet there’s so much of Dad there still, and we are all so grateful.

A couple of months ago, Dad could still have conversations with us. He needed prodding, but the stories would come – fascinating, detailed stories of his growing up years and ours. I have always loved his stories. And the funniest jokes. Even when they weren’t funny, he enjoyed them so much, it made them funny.

Dad talking to Dwane April 2015

In recent weeks, conversations are becoming shorter, more of a chore. He still has great, comforting memories but the fire of remembering has to be stoked considerably. As far as short-term memory goes, he may not remember what he had for supper an hour ago, but he remembers so many other things. – that Dave loves strawberries, and that he still loves the Atlanta Braves, and exactly how to tease each of his grandchildren. When one of them visited recently and called his dinosaur a cat, he got all “offended”. Dad has fussed about it since, at each mention of grandson Jeremy’s name. He will forget eventually, but for now, it stirs an affectionate pot in his mind.2015 June Trip to Georgia to See Dad & Family 056

2015 June Trip to Georgia to See Dad & Family 0572015 June Trip to Georgia to See Dad & Family 058[None of us could ever beat him in arm-wrestling, and as frail as he is, he hasn’t forgotten how to wear us out and eventually draw down our arms.]

With Alzheimer’s, the world of those affected seems to get smaller and smaller. We used to have long, meandering conversations. I miss the dad of those conversations. We’ve been fortunate in that he is still much like himself, with less words. He loves to eat and loves to laugh. I treasure that laugh of his. He still loves people and having visits from his pastor, friends and family, and his hospice nurses.2015 June Trip to Georgia, Blog, Family, Friends, Flowers 2472015 June Trip to Georgia, Blog, Family, Friends, Flowers 2432015 June Trip to Georgia, Blog, Family, Friends, Flowers 3612015 June Trip to Georgia, Blog, Family, Friends, Flowers 332Especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Dad has gotten less interested in going out of his assisted living facility. It feels safe to him. Comfortable. Once we’re out though, he is engaged – talking to the other drivers, telling me how to drive, looking for coins on the road (like we’re going to stop and pick them up). Alzheimer’s took away his freedom to drive but it also took away his desire to drive – a strange companionship, this disease and those who contend with it.

2015 June Trip to Georgia, Blog, Family, Friends, Flowers 3932015 June Trip to Georgia, Blog, Family, Friends, Flowers 403One afternoon, we joined other residents in listening to and singing with a church choir in the great room of the facility – outside of the memory care unit. The world feels much larger there. The choir led in some old Gospel songs – “Victory in Jesus”, “Take It to the Lord in Prayer”, “I’ll Fly Away”. At first Dad seemed to really enjoy the singing, and then, he “went away”. Lost in his thoughts and memories.  I left him there…somewhere apart, following a scene I could not see.

After the choir finished, we walked back to the memory care unit, and he joined others for supper. Each has his or her own incredible life. Each now with different companions than they might have chosen – both at the table with them, and inside their own thoughts.2015 June Trip to Georgia, Blog, Family, Friends, Flowers 322

In watching Dad through his diminishing memory, and seeing those around him struggle, I’m struck by the dignity of life that we must battle to preserve. This quieter, mind-wandering, lovely old gentleman is still our Dad.

His repetitive “I’m the boss. I’m the boss.” is not surprising. With little education afforded to him as a farmer’s son during the Great Depression, he was rarely anyone’s boss. However, he has lived his life (for all the time I’ve known him) with such a confidence and determination, with autonomy and authority. With so much dignity that not even dementia can steal, hopefully.

Now, with Alzheimer’s, he won’t be easily convinced that he’s NOT the boss.

Maybe, it’s his turn…for a season.

Blog - I'm the boss - Alzheimer's[Big Dogs t-shirt with message (on the back) “I Am the Boss” – Happy Father’s Day present from that same daughter-in-law with a knack for great gifts – as in the dinosaur/kangaroo/cat toy Dad loves]

Repetition and Alzheimer’s

A Different Season of Life – Dad & Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s, the Brain, and the Soul

Alzheimer’s Reading Room – to Educate and Empower Alzheimer’s caregivers, their families, and the entire Alzheimer’s Community 

Alzheimer’s Speaks Blog – Giving Voice to Those Affected by Alzheimer’s

Memories From My Life Blog – Memory Posters

The Best Alzheimer’s Blogs of the Year (2015)

12 Behaviors that Trouble Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Alzheimer’s: 25 Signs Never to Ignore

Monday Morning Moment – Be Kind – You Just Never Know

Blog - Another Man's MoccasinsPhoto Credit: Gelene Keever

“Never judge a man before you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.”   – Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons

My heart is especially tendered right now  toward some friends going through a difficult time. They come to mind often and I’m praying my heart out for them in these days.

As I did early morning errands in anticipation of a long workday, those I passed along the way put me to thinking about the proverb above. A dear friend of mine in cancer nursing quotes it often.

There are some people’s moccasins I hope, in all honesty, to never have to wear. Some have borne their lot in life well, and others with deep bitterness and relenting anger. Even the moccasins that have the appearance of being fine and fancy must bear a cost to the owner…more than the money they paid. I prefer my own old, scuffed, marred, well-traveled moccasins.  Yet, today, my heart is full, thinking of those whose roads are difficult to walk right now.

Praying hard for someone does something to us more than we anticipate. It causes us to look at others with greater compassion. We never know fully what that colleague or neighbor or beggar or family member really has on them today. An act of kindness, or a word of hope (real hope), or a decision to be deferent – might make a lighter burden for that one…next to you.

“This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self.” – John Watson, The Homely Virtues by John Watson – Courtesy

You usually see quotes from God’s Word in my writing, but the proverbs of native peoples give us glimpses of the wisdom of God as well. I close with this Cherokee story, and bid you a day sweetened by a fresh look at those around you. With hearts tendered, you just never know what difference you can make…

“An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life: A fight is going on inside me, he said to the boy. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed. “”*

*American Indian Proverb Quotes

Walk a Mile…a Day…32 Hours in Someone Else’s Shoes by Gelene Keever

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

War Room – A Film and a Strategy – Praying Our Hearts Out for Those We Love