What’s Stopping You?

I dare say there’s something almost each and every one of us want to do. Something we’ve been wanting to do. But we’re afraid to take that step. Something keeps holding us back.

Is it fear? Fear of the unknown? Fear of taking a chance? Fear of hurting other people? Fear of not being successful? Fear of making a mistake?

It could be something as simple as trying a new hairstyle or hair color which means a striking change from your current look. What if you absolutely hate it!?

But what if you love it, and so does everyone else?

It could be finally leaving the job you’ve been at for a long time and finally opening your own business. You’ve had the plan for years, you’ve saved enough money. And you already have several clients who’ve agreed to work with you. So what’s stopping you? Are you afraid it won’t be successful?

But what if it is?

It could be an opportunity to relocate somewhere you’ve always dreamed of living. Your family and friends are supportive, and your spouse and children are ready to move with you. You have a great job offer there, with a well-known company. It seems to be everything you’ve wanted for so long. But what if you don’t like it, if you aren’t happy?

But what if you are?

Or it could be you’re stuck in a relationship that’s going nowhere. You’re miserably unhappy, and you believe the other person is as well. You know there’s got to be more out there waiting for you, but you’re afraid to take the chance. Your friends have encouraged you to make a break, but you keep hesitating. What if the other person doesn’t agree and wants to keep things the way they are? Do you stay unhappy at the risk of your own happiness or do you finally walk away?

But what if you do and life is better than ever? For both of you?

Or you’ve been dreaming of going back to school and finally finishing your degree that you’re just a few classes short of. But you’re afraid you’re too old and can’t compete with the younger students. Or they’ll make fun of you. Or you won’t be able to learn the material.

But what if you try and graduate with honors?

We’ve all seen the postings on Facebook about standing on a cliff thinking about taking that scary leap into the future.

We think, “What if I fall?”

But Someone Else says, “But my darling, what if you fly?!”

Or the picture of someone at the fork in a road. There are two ways to travel. One looks well worn and quite easy to navigate, rather commonplace and ordinary actually. The other looks a bit bumpy, but in the distance you can sense there’s something exciting and wonderful.

Which path do you take?

Life is a series of taking chances; making decisions. We do it every day. Sometimes the decisions are insignificant and barely impact our world at all. Sometimes they’re very serious, and impact other people’s worlds as well.

Sometimes we may think we made the wrong decision, but in the end, that decision almost always proves to be right; just not always in the way we’d planned.

It’s not totally our plan anyway. Others also impact our decisions. And as they say, “life happens.”

But until we step out of our comfort zone and take that chance, we’ll never know.

If you’re struggling over a decision, don’t keep agonizing over it. You cannot answer all of the “what if’s?” until you do it. As I wrote last week, tomorrow is not promised. And putting off an important decision could mean you never make it at all.

Are you one of those who are struggling with such a decision? One you know you need to make, but that one little bit of uncertainty, that nagging bit of fear, is holding you back.

Fear of the unknown is natural. We all have it. But sometimes it keeps us stuck in a rut; stuck in a place where we don’t really want to be. We can see the results of making that decision, but still…that leap looks so scary.

What if you fall?

But what if you fly into the best part of your life ever?

 

In the Blink of an Eye

Our pastor mentioned it several times that morning. In the blink of an eye everything can change. Irreversibly change.

But we really don’t believe it. We don’t think about it.

Until it happens. And we wish so hard…pray so hard that we could take those last few seconds back. But we can’t.

And in the blink of an eye, someone’s world…or many someones’ worlds…has irreversibly changed.

That Sunday morning, we received word about a young man whose world…and his family and friends’ world…had irreversibly changed in the blink of an eye. He had just gotten off work and was riding his motorcycle home when a car suddenly pulled out in front of him. There was no way to stop, and nowhere or no time to swerve out of the way.

Now, some three weeks later he’s still in the hospital in ICU with head injuries (even though he was wearing a helmet), collapsed lungs, pneumonia, broken ribs, finally healing from bleeding from several internal organs, and two broken hips.

He was in an induced coma for over ten days and is finally starting to come around. He’s had multiple surgeries already, and facing many more, and most likely two hip replacements. He will be in the hospital for quite some time and then face a long rehab process. His parents are worried sick and his young daughter, well, you can only imagine.

In the blink of an eye, the course of so many lives changed. Not only this young man who is still fighting for his life, but his family and friends, as well as the driver of the car who pulled out in front of him. Was our young man in a “blind spot” that prevented the driver from seeing him? Was he/she not paying close attention? Did he/she not look carefully enough to see him? Perhaps He/she was momentarily distracted? We just don’t know, and may never know. But the driver has to live the rest of his/her life with the consequences of what happened as well.

Tonight, three weeks later, as I look around me I’m seeing far too many similar instances.

A massive stroke suddenly claimed the life of a friend’s mother in law. Tuesday morning she was fine and planning the rest of her summer; Tuesday afternoon she was fighting for her life. Wednesday evening she was gone.

Another serious stroke has left another friend of ours in ICU fighting for his life. Doctors finally stopped the massive brain bleed with surgery but after four days he is still not totally conscious, the plans he and his wife had made with their young children suddenly put on hold, perhaps permanently.

My sister-in-law suddenly lost her husband a few evenings ago. They had recently returned from a wonderful two week cruise and were talking about a visit to see us and meet our granddaughter.

One of my best friend’s 90+ year old father is back in the hospital fighting sepsis and potential pneumonia.

There are a few more stories as well, just in our circle of friends and family. But I’m not going there right now.

My point is simple. As I’ve said in other blogs, tomorrow is not promised. Ever. We do not know what is in store for us when we wake up each morning. Or when we get a phone call in the middle of the night.

We think we have time to rectify petty squabbles and disagreements; to apologize and start over. They can wait another day or two.

Until that day cannot come any more, because that person you wanted to make amends with is no longer here. In the blink of an eye they’re gone. Forever.

We put off making decisions for our life because we’re afraid, or scared. There’s always tomorrow.

And tomorrow never comes. Someone blinked, and the world changed forever.

We’re all equally guilty. In the time it takes to blink our eyes, lives are being totally and sometimes devastatingly changed.

Tomorrow isn’t promised. Live your life like it’s the last day you’ll have. Take the time to appreciate everyone you love, and tell them you love them. Show them you care.

Because you…or they…may not have tomorrow.

Let Freedom Ring!

We’ve all heard the words. Most of us know them by heart.

“My country ’tis of thee…sweet land of liberty…

Of thee I sing….”

Sweet land of liberty; land of freedom. A county where we are free to come and go as we please. To worship as we please. To speak our minds even when our thoughts  are in disagreement with others. Where reporters are free to report all sides of a story, hopefully in an unbiased fashion, without fear of being put in jail.

A country where women are allowed to go to school, to drive cars, to vote, and yes, even hold public office. Unlike many other countries around the world.

A country where an entrepreneur can start his own business and turn it into a highly successful company, without fear of the government coming in and taking it over for their own selfish motives and steal the profits.

We live in a land where we as individuals have the greatest freedoms in the world. A country which was established some 241 years ago when we declared our freedom as colonies and became an independent nation.

It was not without cost, however. We had to fight a war against a tough country…with muskets and cannons and other forms of weaponry which would be laughed at today as totally useless. With no radios, no telegraphs, no phones, no internet, no airplanes; no way to communicate with the armies of men fighting for their cause except by messengers on horseback.

But these men were committed to the cause of freedom, and they fought long and hard.

And they won.

Sadly, today, approximately 25% of our country doesn’t even know what country we fought against for our freedom that established this great land. They most likely haven’t even read the Declaration of Independence. As the saying goes, those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it. And that is something we never want to go through again. And we don’t want the beginnings of the history of our great nation to be forgotten.

Our current president ran on a platform to “make America great again”. This is not a political commentary first of all, and I am not either supporting or condemning the President. Those who know me personally don’t really know my feelings about him and this is not the place or the day to discuss them.

What I will say, however, is that our country IS great. It has never stopped being great. It always has been great, and I pray it always will be. I believe some have lost the vision, the insight, and the appreciation for what we have in this nation because they’re too focused on themselves and their own wants and desires.

You protest, and sometimes make outlandish and totally ridiculous and even offensive comments and claims because “it’s our right!” You set fire to other people’s property who’ve done nothing to you just because you want to protest something, and you say “it’s my right.” Yes it is, but you don’t have the right to destroy other people’s property and disrupt other people lives for your own sake. Do you have any idea the price that was paid to give you that right? And the price that is being paid around the world every day to make sure you have that right. Most likely you don’t even realize it. Or don’t care.

You protest the military members and even make fun of them. That’s totally wrong, but yes, you do have that right, because the very people you’re protesting are the ones who make sure you keep that right. Many have died to be sure you have that right, and unfortunately many more will. Is that how you thank them? And their families?

Many protest against the police when they do their job, taunt them, throw rocks and bottles at them, and call them pigs. And yes, sometimes their actions may be wrong in the heat of a situation that none of us can understand unless we’ve been there. But when something bad happens to you, they’re the first people you call for help. You forget how much you dislike them, because suddenly you’re on the other side of the fence and need their help. And you’d be in bad shape if they refused to respond because THEY were protesting YOU.

You listen to everything actors, musicians, sports figures, and other celebrities say negative about our country and think it’s ok, but if our country were attacked again, how many of them would be willing to go to battle and risk their lives and the fortunes they’ve made in this free country of ours in order to protect her? I dare say not many. Talk is cheap; actions are costly.

You think it’s alright to break laws you don’t like…laws you don’t agree with. But you forget laws are enacted for a reason; if you don’t like a particular law, work to get it changed within the system rather than just say you’re not going to abide by it, and go out and break it. Without laws all we would have is anarchy. What kind of example are you setting for our next generation?

You think it’s ok to burn our flag in protest because some Hollywood star said it’s a great way to protest, and you dishonor the symbol of our freedom and our nation. And the stars on that flag are screaming in their own silent protest as you burn them, because the hearts of those who fought so hard and even died to protect it are breaking.

John Kennedy said in his inaugural speech “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Have we lost sight of that vision as well?

Yes today is July 4th. Independence Day. We have pool parties and cookouts. We watch fireworks. We spend time with family and friends and most of us don’t even stop to think about what we’re celebrating. Don’t stop to think of all the men and women who aren’t with their loved ones in this day, either because they’re serving the country they love, or they died to defend her honor.

And the fireworks? We “ooh” and “ahh” over them, and then we complain about how noisy they are. But we forget the real fireworks that have lit up so many skies from guns and artillery, canon balls and mortar shells aimed at our flag and our country by people who are trying to destroy us and our way of life.

Our flag and our country have withstood a lot, and most likely will have to endure a lot more strife, a lot more threats, and unfortunately most likely more attacks from outside enemies intent on destroying us because of the very freedoms we enjoy.

Francis Scott Key wrote the “Star Spangled Banner” because he was so moved to see our torn and tattered flag still flying high over Fort McHenry after a long and horrible night of battle. A battle which could have easily gone the other way.

May that flag continue to wave…over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Happy Independence Day. Let freedom continue to ring.

And may God bless America.