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Get Lost

When I first got started working with magazines back in the mid-nineties, I was doing quite a bit of traveling around the southeast. Driving from town to town provided ample opportunities to meet people of many different walks of life. One day I might find myself in a chicken house antique shop on a backroad in Carrollton, Georgia, rummaging through a box of dusty, leather-bound, pre-Civil War books, and on another day I might be pulled over on a gravel patch next to Lake Eufaula to take a few casts at a largemouth bass and chat with a local before zipping off to sell an advertisement based on some random concept that I thought up while changing lures. Being on the road has always had a way of making me think. There was always someone somewhere with a story to tell that made me feel at home wherever I happened to be.

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February 2018

We have all been there.

At some point in our life, someone got their feelings bent over something you accidentally did. Let that sink in — it wasn’t in your design. Sometimes, we find opportunities to help others and accidentally make things worse. For instance, rushing to open a door for someone who has their arms full and unknowingly sliding a wrinkle in the doormat, causing them to stumble. Other examples may include pushing in a chair for someone as they sit down and having one of the chair legs break; tossing them their keys and seeing those keys fall straight into the sewer drain; or sliding them their beverage and watching it all go into slow motion when the cup bumps against their plate as a wave of sweet tea washes their dinner into their lap.

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January 2018

Well, I hope everyone is finished with their to-do lists from 2017 because like it or not, the new year is upon us. With challenges and changes of her own, the upcoming year promises to keep us on our toes and ready for action. Best to not be too concerned or anxious about it, the only thing we can do is be prepared. So, get ready now; get pumped up — here it comes.

Sometimes, when it seems like we have so many things on our plate, we may find ourselves wondering if we can possibly handle anything else. We will make mistakes. We will fail and falter. That is when we must reach into our bag of tricks, pull out our faith card, and make things happen. It is exercise that makes our bodies healthier and more fit. In that same fashion, our faith also gets stronger when we exercise it and lift our problems up.

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December 2017

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much you might have in common with Santa — not regarding the jolly physique that may mean extra padding around your waist after Thanksgiving and Christmas, making you want to join a gym the next week — but regarding the fact that he is a symbol of giving without expectation? Of course, there is a correlation there that simply cannot go unnoticed. However, sometimes, we may discover a little more of that giving spirit within us. The holidays are some of those special times.

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Thankless Task Leads to Thankfulness

As I’m writing this, there is a cool breath of fall air sailing through a six-inch opening in my bedroom window. A pair of wet birds are exchanging chirps while sampling seeds from the feeders on the back deck. For the first time in many months, the raindrops are joining together, as they fall over the edge of the metal roof. All those little pieces of leaves and debris that were left after months of procrastinating to clean those gutters were now riding a tiny stream to the downspouts. Closing my eyes in a moment of dreary morning joy, I hear the water falling through the pipes, and I am reminded that what I hear now will soon join a babbling brook not too far into the wood.

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The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. ~ Robert Burns

This saying, the modern adaptation of a line from Robert Burns poetic work, “To a Mouse,” has been a source of comfort to me over the past couple dozen years. To some, that all too prophetic verse may strike fear and rattle nerves, stating that no matter how much preparation, thought and genius is poured into a plan, something just might come along and smash the script. Now, to think about that, Burns was a Scotsman in the late eighteenth century, and even in that day without all the structure, networks and technology — plenty could go wrong.The origin of what became presently known as Murphy’s Law was long before calendars, Palm Pilots and iPhones, or for that matter, wristwatches and the human language. Edward Murphy, a brash, outspoken and often arrogant engineer who worked with the Air Force while testing the effects of g-forces on the body in the 1950s, seems to be the namesake for the term which was coined. The initial tests using his measurement device showed “zero.” It was then discovered the sensors were installed backwards by his assistant, to which Murphy stated, “If that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will,” which was then revised through other team members and made it to the project manager. The project manager stated it during a press conference to convey that the success of the project without loss of life was due to their planning, redundancy and knowledge of Murphy’s Law, iterating that, “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

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September 2017

When the opportunity to join a team in sports, at the office, volunteering, or maybe even your church occurs, it is vital to live up to the honor. When we are a member of a team that is relying on us, we need to do our individual best to take care of our responsibility, task or obligation.

Each of us becomes responsible for our personal leadership and making sure our actions are in line and in pace with our teammates. In anything you do, there will always be someone whose talents and strengths are different than yours, so aligning yourself with those who compliment your gifts is important. Keeping our mind open to learn from the skills of others allows us to grow.

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Sometimes, we reach a point in life that makes us ponder what really makes us happy. Then, we realize what a challenge it may be to achieve our perception of happiness, which may make us fear it. Other times, happiness can be very difficult to quantify, as we are often persuaded to pursue a type of happiness that is defined by society and others close to us.

However, happiness, as we’ve come to understand it, can be scary. The sacrifices it takes to grow a successful business, the time spent at work to make that dollar that we want to use to buy that stuff, the long commute in traffic, time away from family, the grind — it seems like it will take an overwhelming amount of perseverance, discipline and drive. What’s the big deal anyway? Is being happy really such a big thing?

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July 2017

Looking back over the past few years, we have seen incredible growth, prosperity and success in our local communities. Songwriter Billy Joe Shaver once sang, “I’m just an ol’ lump of coal, but I’m a gonna be a diamond someday.” This is indicative of how each day, we have the opportunity to polish and refine ourselves to become the best we can be. Through sometimes unbelievable daily stresses, it is our inert tolerance that defeats the heat and pressure, making us shine.

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Choose the Positive Path

Recently, I had a busier-than-normal week planned, and looking at all those color-coded entries on my calendar made me sit back and smile. It wasn’t too long ago that my calendar was a bit thin and only one color. That had to change, and change it soon did. Looking back, four years ago this month, I was putting together ideas and a business plan to start a series of new community publications — these Family Life magazines. After spending my entire adult life in some facet of the publishing business, I had learned quite a bit about what was required from a team to make it work. Maintaining a positive attitude, living within one’s means, and seizing opportunities when they arise are three of those lessons.

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Grace - It's Enough

Every now and then, being the younger, forever smaller sibling, I would end up in the shadow of my big brother’s angry side. Vic was six-feet tall in seventh grade. To this day, he still outweighs me by two large bags of dog food. On a couple of occasions, I wound up in need of medical attention, but most of the time, I was just a little bruised. In retrospect, I ended up being the one who used size to my advantage; it just sometimes took Mom a little longer to save me than I hoped, and then Dad would handle the rest. Often, being the little guy, one must be resourceful.

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April 2017

Find Your Pace in the Race.

A few years back, I began running local 5k races, not so much as a hobby, but more to check my personal fitness level. I’ve noticed that my friends are getting older, which means I’m aging as well and need to be aware of my personal energy levels and stay on top of my health. Many of us have found that “acting our age” may not comply with how we think or feel.

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The Lucky Season

March is upon us; the early blossoms are sprouting from their twiggy branches, and the fields are greening with lush grasses and young clover. Soon, my backyard will be hopping with rabbits, and a few young deer will eventually appear and provide quick sprints of joy for my dog, Riley, each time she steps out for a walk. One of my simple pleasures is relaxing in a cool pad of clover, reflecting on my day and enjoying the new evening sun after a day on Main Street. After a few years of running my fingers through many hundreds of clusters of clover in my yard, I have resigned myself that there are none of the four-leaf variety taking up residence there. Truth be known, I feel lucky even in their absence, which has me generally questioning this whole “luck” thing.

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February 2017

Each morning as I am getting ready for the day ahead, I’ll check the forecast, review my “to-do” list (a mindful catalogue of items that will help me along my way) and set the day in motion with a tall glass of water, a light breakfast and a few moments of good ol’ fashioned reflection, soul searching and gearing up. I would imagine most of us do something similar as part of our morning routine.

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Momentum - Bring It On!

From our earliest recorded history — through the imagery of cave paintings, stone tablets and scrolls — we learn that the willpower of mankind — the ability to adapt, overcome and strive toward the next dawn of day — propels us forward. Our failures incite us to push harder, and our hopes fuel our drive toward success. When down, we reconsider and recalculate then position ourselves to look forward and move ahead. We rest only to rise, to gather strength.

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December 2016

As they learn to walk, toddlers are known to “toddle,” clumsily propelling themselves forward, often on the verge of taking a spill. No one is born with all the necessary abilities and skills needed to take one step at time when learning to walk. Many of us still struggle with this concept in other areas of our lives. As we grow, we learn that balance is key, not only for walking, but for many of life’s obstacles. Over time, we come to understand that there will be challenges placed before us, and in the long run, it is our responsibility to muster the drive to overcome them.

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Someone to be Thankful for

There are many people who I’m proud of that I have never even met. It’s good to feel that way, and it works. To find the best in people who you admire from afar is a wonderful quality in our society, especially as it stands today. All too often, we may become overwhelmed with the negativity that is so pervasive that we fail to realize that our focus has wavered from the greater good that exists in so much of our surroundings, in people, our community and our lives.

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October 2016

Recently, I have started waking up before my alarm goes off in the morning. Now, this used to happen from time-to-time; however, I now find myself staying up and getting started on the tasks of the day. Being blessed with more time early in the waking day allows me the opportunity to get through my “to-dos” as well as more time to enjoy doing less obligatory items that may exist or cross my path. It has been brought to my attention that I appear to stretch myself a little thin, so I’ve promised to work on that by better prioritizing my tasks.

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September 2016

Inspire someone. Help someone grow. Help them rise above a period in their life whether or not you understand their situation. Discover the power of empathy as an incredible resource and the strength that may manifest from it. An essential ingredient of our daily life is kindness, and it needs to show in all of our actions if we truly want to succeed. It’s imperative to know that becoming an inspiration is our way of paying it forward because making any one person’s life better improves the overall wellness of society. Be that beacon of light for someone who may be struggling in darkness, if only to afford them the opportunity to see a glimmering flash. For in that, they may find hope.

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August 2016

Some days, sitting in my office, it can be hard to concentrate on one of the many items on my task list. As my fellow employees would truthfully tell you, I may, at times, get completely off task altogether. There seems to be an abundance of “squirrels” in the life of Jack, so I find myself deferring to the needs of my trusty dog, Riley, for a reason to step out, enjoy the outdoors and reset in order to move forward. Supposedly, that puts me in the same category as an out-of-date computer in need of an upgrade or one that has too much information spinning across the drive.

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