Tuesday morning, September 7, 2021, I was walking a job site for a project my team is working on when I received news that my Grandpa had passed away. While I wasn’t surprised given his recent health, I was still taken aback – sad and happy at the same time. I was sad, because I knew I would never see him again in this earthly life. I was happy, because I knew he was no longer suffering and I would one day see him again in heaven.
I’m still trying to capture all my thoughts and memories of him. Some initial things come to mind:
As I continue to process Grandpa’s life and his passing, I will perhaps have more to share. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy getting to know him a little better. He has been mentioned in several of my past posts. Here are links for you to learn more:
Friday afternoon at the end of my workday, I received a phone call from my Grandpa. Grandpa Miller lives in Minneapolis, MN, and I live outside of Philadelphia, PA which means we don’t see each other very often. And I’m embarrassed to admit we don’t talk nearly as often as we should. I think we both share the guilt for our infrequent conversations.
One of the things that keeps us connected is my blog. Every time I publish a new blog post, Grandpa gets an email from me. He keeps tabs on me in part by reading my blog posts.
I don’t know if you noticed or not, but I didn’t publish a single blog post last week. One person did notice – Grandpa. His phone call on Friday afternoon was a call of concern for me. Was a sick? Was I busy? Was I okay? Grandpa called to check-up on me.
Grandpa’s phone call reminded me of several important things….
Always say “I love you” for you don’t know if/when you will see each other again. I recall as a young first or second grader, I had a fear of never being able to see my Grandpa Miller again. He had just dropped me off at school, and he and Grandma were getting ready to travel from Wheaton, IL back to Minneapolis, MN. I remember the school called my home after the school day started to give me a chance to talk with my Grandpa. He ended up walking or driving back to the school before his trip back to Minneapolis just so I could say “I love you.” Now, Grandpa is 93 years old, and the last few years haven’t been kind to him. I don’t talk to him nearly as frequently as I should, but every conversation ends with “I love you.” This is how it should be with everyone we love. We don’t want to live in regret thinking we left things on a bad note.
Recently, I was on the phone with my Grandpa Miller. Grandpa recently turned 94 years old. Physically, he is definitely showing signs of his age. He can’t run around like he used to when he was in his 70s and 80s. And while is mind isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be, I’ve been impressed by how well he is doing mentally and spiritually. During our phone conversation, he shared with me his pattern for prayer….
Teach Me To Count (last week’s post)
This fact has been hitting home for me on a much more personal level these past two or three weeks as my family watches my Grandpa Miller in his last days. At 94 years old, he has lived a long life. He is a retired USPS mail carrier (he loved his job). He served in the U.S. Army in Germany in World War II. He was always very particular about his lawn and his cars for which he always paid cash. Grandpa was frugal. He was a meat and potatoes guy. More than these things, he loved Jesus, and he loved introducing people to Jesus. Over the past few years as his physical body has been failing, he has remained committed to praying (I wrote about this in a recent blog post).
Grandpa is tired and worn out. He is ready to go home – to his heavenly home….
As long as I can remember, I have always taken great pride in keeping a nice lawn. I may have been influenced by my Grandpa Miller who always kept his lawn green and well manicured when I was younger. My obsession with a nice lawn may also have been shaped by my experience as a teenager cutting people’s lawns throughout the area….
(This post was more about Grandma Miller, but Grandpa is mentioned in the post.)
When you think of someone with a positive attitude, who comes to your mind?
The first person to come to my mind is my Grandma Miller. Grandma passed away several years ago, but her positive attitude still impacts me. Grandma struggled with multiple sclerosis for most of her life. Her knees failed her. She suffered from seizures. And towards the end of her life, she could barely hold her head up. Despite her physical ailments, she remained positive. She often had a song on her lips, and she was friendly with every single person who crossed her path. If there was someone I know who had a positive attitude, it was my Grandma Miller….
Over the weekend, Leanne and I watched Bohemian Rhapsody, the Oscar-nominated movie about Queen and its lead singer, Freddie Mercury. The movie does a remarkable job telling the ups and downs of the band and Mr. Mercury.
(The music and acting in this movie was quite amazing. There was very little profanity in the movie, but there were some uncomfortable scenes as the movie depicted Mercury’s struggle with bi-sexuality and drugs and alcohol. I left the movie wanting to listen to more Queen music, but I also left the movie feeling a bit sad for Mercury and for what could have been.)
As I listened to the Queen channel on Spotify while I was making dinner tonight, I heard a song called There Must Be More to Life Than This by Freddie Mercury (from his Mr. Bad Guy album released in 1985). Here are some of the lyrics:
There must be more to life than this
There must be more to life than this
How do we cope in a world without love
Mending all those broken hearts
And tending to those crying faces
There must be more to life than living
There must be more than meets the eye
Why should it be just a case of black or white
There must be more to life than this
The song goes on to talk about hate, death, destruction, fighting, and killing. Mercury goes on…
What good is life, in the end we all must die
There must be more to life than this
I haven’t done an in-depth study of Freddie Mercury or Queen, but the movie definitely depicted Mercury as someone who struggled to believe in himself and to find the meaning of life beyond riches, drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and fame.
We may not be as famous or “successful” as Freddie Mercury, but many of us struggle with finding the real meaning for our lives. We chase after a screwed up version of success. We seek prosperity, fame, comfort, and respect. I wouldn’t say that these things are in themselves bad, but I think we can do better.
In this life, we have the opportunity to leave our mark for sure, and more importantly we have the opportunity to serve our Creator by serving others. For when we find our Father and when we discover how we were made to serve others, we will begin to understand that there really is more to life than we ever imagined.
But there’s more to this life than living and dying
More than just trying to make it through the day;
More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see
And there’s more than this life alone can be
So where do we start to find every part
Of what makes this life complete;
If we turn our eyes to Jesus we’ll find
Life’s true beginning is there at the cross where He died
He died to bring us … (more to this life)
I’d challenge you to STRETCH your mind and your heart as you consider your life. Don’t be content to live a blah existence. Don’t stop at thinking there must be more to life than this. Keep seeking. Keep opening your eyes to your purpose – to your reason for being. You were made for more than this!
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
(Scott and Lorraine, Thank you for an amazing evening!)
How are you doing?
Unfortunately, busyness has become the badge the many people chose to wear. We think people will think we are important when they hear we are busy. Perhaps, we are too afraid to face the things we really need to face, so we get busy doing things that don’t really matter in the end.
Tonight, I had a fantastic conversation with a group of men who are serious about becoming better husbands, better fathers, better leaders, and better men. We talked a lot about busyness.
I shared with them the experience I had last week when I realized I was overwhelmed. (If you read my blog posts over the past two weeks, you’ll get a feel for what I shared.)
I thrive on being busy. That’s what I keep telling myself.
In reality, I need a break from time to time, and I must learn to slow things down.
I was perusing an article on Lifehack in preparation for my conversation with these men tonight, and the article said “When you’re busy, your aren’t present.”
And one of the men said, “Busyness is the enemy of intimacy.”
Last week along with tonight’s conversation confirmed that I’m not alone.
I don’t want to be known as the guy who was always busy.
I want to be known as the man who was there – for my wife, for my family, for my friends.
If you’re interested in jumping into conversations like this one with other men, consider signing up for the Stretched Men Group. You can learn more at www.stretchedmengroup.com. Once you’re on the website, signup to schedule a free (no obligation) phone call with me. I’d love to talk with you!
Are you too busy? What do you do to slow down? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Being busy has become a status symbol in our culture. If you’re not busy, you’re not accomplishing anything. That’s what society is telling us.
I want to work on my book. I want to schedule several blog posts and emails to the people on my email list. I would like to talk to my daughter (who is away at college) on Facetime. I’d like to take at least 10,000 steps.
I want to write and give my next Toastmasters speech. I want to schedule an appointment with my tax accountant. I would like to clean up the house to make sure we are ready for any showings that might happen this week. I’d like to meet one-on-one with my team members.
I want to publish my next book (Rooftop Reflections). I plan to go to Guatemala and build more houses. I’d like to complete my Advanced Communicator Silver and my Advanced Leader Silver for Toastmasters. I would like to move up at my company. I plan to complete Dynamic Marriage Facilitator Training with my wife. I hope to sell my house and downsize.
It’s not a bad idea to have plans for our days weeks, months, and years. After all, “if we fail to plan, we should plan to fail.” But what if our short-term goals and accomplishments don’t match up with our long-term objectives?
I think these are two very important questions to ponder. And we need to have the answers to these questions in mind as we plan out our short-term goals and our plans for the next days, weeks, and months.
You will not succeed in meeting your long-term (life-time) goals by accident. You must be intentional. You must begin with the end in mind.
Here are a few of my long-term goals:
These are just some of my goals. Knowing these, I’m in a much better position to answer the initial questions asked at the beginning of this post.
Over the next few days, I’ll be sending out additional information to those on my email list about living intentionally today. If you want to get these emails, make sure you are on the list. Sign up below!
Is it just me, or does life seem to be a blur for you at times?
Life goes by so quickly. And technology isn’t helping things. Within a fraction of a second, I can be virtually anywhere via the internet. News spreads quickly across the screens of our cell phones, tablets, laptops, and televisions. Within seconds of a major world catastrophe, terrorist event, or celebrity death, the whole world knows about it.
And people expect instant replies to their emails, text messages, and social media attempts to reach out.
We are growing up in a world where people are developing additions to their cell phones. They can’t go more than a few minutes or even a few seconds without looking at their “smart” phones.
As a parent, it seems like life has passed me by in the matter of a few moments. Yesterday, my daughter was born, and today she’s a freshman in college. My son was born yesterday, and now he is driving his own car.
And the day before yesterday, I married the woman of my dreams, and now we’ve been married for over twenty years. (She looks the same, but I’m sure I’ve added some gray hairs, some wrinkles, and some pounds around my waistline.
It all can become depressing is we let these thoughts consume us.
For that reason, we must fight against the blur.
Are you going to let life be a blur? Or are you going to do something about it?
Make the most of every opportunity.
Let your words be seasoned with salt.
Embrace the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens of life.
In fact, suck the very marrow out of life with each breath you breathe, each step you take, and each move you make.
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8 ESV
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Life has been full of twists, turns, and surprises lately.
I’m grateful for what I’ve been experiencing (for the most part), but I’m also a bit overwhelmed. I think life has a way of doing this to us sometimes. We have all kinds of brilliant ideas. We somehow think we can do it all. We make plans, and God laughs.
I’ve been going 100 mph (miles per hour), and it feels as thought I need to find time to take a breath.
Not just a quick breath, but a deep breath. One of those breaths you take when you walk outside on a crisp, sunny morning and you just want to take it all into your lungs and into your very being. That’s the kind of breath I need.
We’re eleven days into the new year. I refuse to give up on my goals for 2017, but I must remember to pace myself. I must remember to stop and smell the roses – to stop and enjoy the moment – to pause and breathe.
I don’t know what you are experiencing right now, but I want to encourage you to take a few moments in your day to join me.
My word for 2017 is PRESENT.
In order for me to be truly present, I must learn to be still – to listen – to breathe.
“Be still and know that I am God…”
By the way, I can’t eat chocolate. Oh well.
How is life treating you these days? Share your thoughts in the comments.
I read an article by Ben Read today – Running on empty?
Take a look at the article. The title alone resonated with me. Honestly, I’m exhausted, and I’m feeling depleted.
I’ve been working hard at my job. We’re in the middle of the annual performance management process. I have ten direct reports requiring my evaluation, but I’m also involved in lending input on others in my department and in my office. I care deeply about my team members, and I want this process to be meaningful for them and for their careers. This is happening while I’m still handling the normal activities and interruptions of my job.
I’ve five weeks into a twelve week strength training program, and I’ve worked out nearly every day for the past 33 days. The workouts have been beneficial. I can see the results. I’ve been working on my legs and abs, my back and biceps, and my chest, shoulders, and triceps. And I’ve been taking a different approach to my cardio. Most mornings I’m up at 4AM and out the door by 4:30AM on the way to the gym. Sometimes I work out at lunch if I have a shorter workout scheduled.
My son, Isaac, started a job a few weeks ago at Chick-Fil-A. He works until closing three days a week, and he doesn’t have his driver’s license yet. This means I’m out three nights a week to pick him up. I’m so thankful for my son and his job. And I’m thankful for the quiet moments in the car on the way home as we quietly talk about a few things as we travel the dark, windy roads back to our house.
I’m in the middle of another challenge I can’t mention here. But I can tell you that it sucks a fair amount of emotional and mental energy out of me.
I’m half-way through my three month Stretch Man Mastermind group, and I’m happy to say that it has been going amazingly well. The interactions with the members of the group have been thought-provoking and truly stretching. Every two weeks, we get together, and I teach on a relevant topic for 10-15 minutes before we dive into an issue one of us is facing. Last night, I prepared the teaching time for our next call.
I’m involved in Toastmasters. I’m the Area Director for five clubs, and I’m trying to keep pace with my club. I signed up to give my next speech at our next club meeting which takes place next Wednesday. For those of you familiar with Toastmasters, I’m two speeches away from earning my ACB (Advanced Communicator Bronze) milestone. I had to say “No” last weekend when one of the District Officers asked me to help out with an upcoming conference. I stink at saying “No.”
I’ve been on the go every weekend for the past few months. There is always something on my calendar on Saturday. I haven’t been home for more than a few hours on the weekend for a while.
I could go on.
I’m over-involved. I’m worn out. And it’s easy to see why just looking at my thoughts above.
Maybe it’s time for a break.
Ben Reed’s article was a reminder that I need to make time to fill my tank. I need to take time to rest, relax, and recharge. And I need to learn to say “No.” I can’t do everything. And I want to do it well. But I can’t do anything well when my tank is empty, and I can’t do many things well when I try to do everything.
My wife, Leanne, is a wise woman. She asked me tonight, “What recharges you?”
I’m still thinking about the response to her question.
I know my annual Memorial Day Weekend Camping trip with a few of my buddies recharges me, but this is 8 months away. I think it’s time for me to ponder this question and to take time to follow through on my response.
This is where I’m at right now. Just thought I’d share.
What’s the condition of your “gas tank”? What recharges you? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Are you content with mediocre? Or do you want to live a life that matters?
I chose the second option.
Living a life that matters requires intentional striving for excellence.
Yesterday, we talked about the nine things holding you back from excellence. Today, let’s look at the keys to making excellence a reality in our lives.
If you want to live a life of excellence, it’s time to get going – NOW!
One of my favorite movies as a teenager was Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It’s a teenage boy movie full of teenage boy humor. I think that’s why I liked it so much. I remember seeing the movie with a few of my friends, and the rest of the year we repeated lines from the movie to each other as we went about our activities.
In the movie, “excellent” was a word thrown around by Bill and Ted to describe anything they thought was cool, interesting, or fun. If the movie had been made a few years ago, it might be called Bill & Ted’s Phat Adventure or Bill & Ted’s YOLO Adventure or something similar.
I like the word excellent or excellence. Here’s how Wikipedia defines excellence:
Excellence is a talent or quality which is unusually good and so surpasses ordinary standards. It is also used as a standard of performance as measured e.g. through economic indicators.
Excellence is a continuously moving target that can be pursued through actions of integrity, being front-runner in terms of products / services provided that are reliable and safe for the intended users, meeting all obligations and continually learning and improving in all spheres to pursue the moving target.
Excellence doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning. It requires repeated action. And excellence means constant analysis and adjustment along the way.
I want to be known for going about life with excellence. Despite this desire, there are several things preventing me from achieving excellence.
Come back tomorrow for thoughts on how you and I can make excellence a reality in our lives.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
When I was in first grade, my parents took me to the eye doctor where the optometrist determined I needed to wear corrective lenses (the fancy name for glasses) to correct a problem with my eyes.
For four or five years, I wore brown, plastic-framed glasses. I looked like Ralphie from A Christmas Story (if you need an image).
Like Ralphie, I often broke my glasses horsing around with my friends. The eye doctor was used to fixing my glasses on a monthly basis.
Eventually, the glasses did their job, and I was able to stop wearing them. In fact, my vision was better than 20/20 for the longest time.
I stopped visiting the eye doctor for several years, because my vision was excellent.
Then I turned 40.
A long overdue visit to the eye doctor indicated my need for reading glasses.
I picked up my first pair of reading glasses, and I’ve been able to get a new pair each year as my reading vision has changed slightly along the way. I use the new pair as my primary reading glasses, and I use the older pairs as backup glasses. I have two pairs on my nightstand, and I put one pair in the car. It’s nice to have the coverage in case I need to read something with small print.
This brings me to my story – my parable.
According to Wikipedia,
A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of analogy.
This week, events transpired in my life that caused me to take pause. I broke one of my pairs of backup glasses.
Tuesday night, I was responsible for facilitating a Toastmasters Table Topics and Humorous Speech Contest for my Area. I arrived early at the location of the contest, so I could set up and greet contestants and attendees. As I was getting out of my car, I grabbed my spare set of glasses, and I must have put them on the roof of my car as I was getting other contest material out of my car. Once I was in the contest location, I forgot about the glasses.
The contest went well. The speakers did a fantastic job presenting to the contest audience. The judging team selected winners wisely. And the audience enjoyed the experience (from what I could tell). After the contest, I cleaned up the room and packed up my contest materials. I said goodbye to the last few lingering attendees, and I climbed in my car to begin the journey home.
100 yards after pulling out of the parking lot, I heard a loud thumping noise on the roof of my car, and I immediately realized the source of the sound. My glasses had flown off the top of my car. It was dark, but I decided to make several passes on the busy road to see if I might find my glasses. Disappointingly, I could find the glasses, so I drove home with the thought of trying to find them in the morning on my way to work.
The next morning, I made a few more passes in the busy morning traffic, but I could see the glasses from my car. Bummer!
At lunch time, I decided to make one last effort to find the glasses thinking they may have landed in the longer grass along the road. I parked my car in a parking lot, and walked down the side of the road looking back and forth as I went. Just when I was about to give up and head back to my car, I caught a glimpse of a familiar sight – the inside cover of my glasses case. Half of it was laying on the side of the road blending into the grey of the road surface. I walked a few more feet and found the other half of the case. But where were my glasses?
As I began the journey back to my parked car, I found my glasses on the side of the road! My excitement was soon replaced by sadness as I quickly discovered the lenses were missing, and the frames were smashed to smithereens. It looked like my glasses took a ride in my garbage disposal.
I picked up the pieces and headed back to my car. (A blog post was surely on the way.)
I’ve had a lot of thoughts since the incident with my glasses.
First, I’m a little frustrated with my carelessness. I wish I had gone back out to my car when I realized I needed them for the contest.
Second, I’m a little disappointed in my opulence. Where I serve in Guatemala, glasses like these are a treasured possession for those with failing eyes. I could have brought the glasses with me on a trip to Guatemala to give to someone who really needs them. Instead, I decided to have backups for my backups. I want to be a good steward of my resources, and this means saving and spending appropriately. And it means giving appropriately too. I don’t want to be a hoarder of the resources God gives me. I want to use the resources God gives me to help others and to honor Him.
My broken glasses remind me to hang on tightly to the things that matter, and they remind me to let go of the things that would be better served in the hands of others.