Obitchuary

Gary, Davis, Christian, Dryden, Obituary, epitaph, legacy
One of the things I’ve always enjoyed is casually perusing the graveyards of old, small towns. The stones say so much. One such stone is often referenced in marriage ceremonies (see left). Another I came across was on a backroad near Hebron, NH. “Here lies Francois DuBois. Hung as a horse thief. 1638.” Epitaphs can tell us much about a person’s life, as can Obituaries.

Obituaries can be a good source of information about those who have already gone before? Not their material goods, but their legacy in the lives of their contemporaries— their friends, their families, and children.

Yet there are also obituaries that have little to do with the deceased. In many I’ve read I had known the person in life. While they lived they were miserable, grouchy, cranky, angry individuals. Yet, at their funeral, their eulogies made them out to be saints among men. Who were these people? Certainly not the wretched person I had known who had hated their life and many of those around them. Most of the conversations I remember with them could be summed up in three words— Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! They were chronic complainers, never happy with anything.

For most of us we can choose the kinds of people we become. We do not have to choose to be chronic complainers, self-absorbed little infestations of isolation and criticism. We can choose to be imparters of hope, peace, joy, and graciousness. We can choose to GIVE instead of being hoarders of life’s material goods. We can even sacrifice our lives for the good of others.

So what would you want people to remember about you once you’ve crossed-over to the other side? What would a truthful obituary about YOU look like? What words would you have chiseled on your tombstone? What life-legacy would you leave behind? Whatever it is, START LEAVING IT NOW. The craziness, the laughter, the good times and bad you share with people NOW is what you pass on to succeeding generations. We all need to become a little more aware of the way we live.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

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Intelligence and Stupidity

image002 (1)Have you ever wondered why some of the most intelligent, capable leaders do some of the most incredibly stupid things? Really dumb things!

David Letterman, recent host of The Late Show, held a segway called Stupid Human Tricks. More recently, Good Morning America has created a category for news items termed Dumbest Criminals. [Like one man who turned himself in for the reward money. Truly.]  Then there are The Darwin Awards; a yearly review of the most creative ways some of us have eliminated ourselves from the human gene pool. Even reading them is unfathomable.

Too many of us have HHMD— Human Hoof & Mouth Disorder. Open mouth; insert foot. ‘Nough said. We simply do not think before we speak; and so, we sound stupid, offensive, or just plain weird. But the result is the same; people come to expect outlandish behavior from us and they cease to take us seriously. Our stupid comments, though even humorous at times, get in the way of our true-selves being known or trusted.

Why do seemingly intelligent people act so stupidly sometimes? I believe they step out of their area of expertise and speak out-of-turn, off-the-cuff, and without thinking. Maybe they miss obvious social-clues, maybe they’re nervous, or are merely looking for filler that turns out to be inappropriate. Who knows?!?

The solutions should be quite obvious—THINK. True, having to think before you speak will limit your free-flowing response; but it is a necessary limitation. Words, once said, are very difficult to take back. There is nothing wrong with a pause-for-thought before we vocalize our minds…, or lack thereof. The same goes for ACTIONS. How will what you do affect the other person or group?

Even the most intelligent among us can still be wise and creative without being stupid…, hopefully. Be forgiving of people’s faux pas, even of your own. Be the first to admit that you have acted stupidly. Yes, it could be embarrassing; but it sure beats expending further energies to cover up.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

Hidden

051048048057054055054050124053048048124052048048Why are we hiding? Or— What is it we try to hide? Too many of us exert a lot of energy trying to hide, or trying to hide something about ourselves that, if revealed, would expose us.

The artistry of Bev Doolitle (1947-   ) depicts objects hidden to the casual observer. We are so much like the horses in her paintings. If people were to look intently at our life, what is it we would try to hide? I’ve worked with some people whose biggest fear in getting married was being known. I tried to assure them that being known, and still loved, was the best part of being married; I’m not sure they bought it.

What drives us to hide things? Insecurity, fear, shame, dishonesty? Or worse, why do we hide ourselves? Of course, if you’ve been betrayed or used, there is some warrant for it. You don’t want to be hurt that deeply again.

The issue, basically, is one of safety. We ALL want to feel safe. So we hide the parts of us that would expose us. This is wise…, to a point. But our need for safety can also choke the spirit within us. It can bind us in a box with just slits through which we take in the outside world.

Would you like to escape your box and take in more of the outside world? Here are some ideas—

  • Spend time with people. Reflecting off of them will give you insights into yourself. You’ll surprise them; they’ll surprise you.
  • Try something that engages your soul. Doesn’t matter what. Just not too much over the line. Deeper discussion, life challenging experiences. Hold back on sky-diving.
  • Build one-safe-friendship. Create a confident.
  • Create a private novel about the kind of life you’d like to live. Then, slowly, start to live it.

Hiding takes a lot of energy. Think what you might be accomplishing if you didn’t have to work so hard at hiding your true self. Think of the energy you could invest in developing new dreams, new skills or new relationships. Be intentional. Remaining hidden, if pursued over a long period of time, results in further isolation; and that creates further fear of being known.

You do not need to stay hidden. Make the decision to be known.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

Resilience

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Resilience

Bouncing back. Getting up again. Beaten down and rising from

the ashes like the Phoenix. Overcoming failure and discouragement. Going for it again.

Why are some of us good

at it and others not so much?

Resilience is not necessarily based on generation, gender, cultural affinity, location or situation. It seems to be ingrained in certain people; they just have what it takes.

For others, who have been beaten down repeatedly, it becomes a matter of fortitude and determination. Sheer will-power. They have to fight not only their surrounding circumstances, but themselves as well. That is no simple matter. So what does it take to become resilient?

First, it requires that you make a decision; maybe two. 1) That you will not let this thing, whatever it is, overwhelm you. You will not let it win. And, 2) that you will fight, FIGHT, to overcome it. If these decisions are not made right up front, you do not stand a chance.

Second, you will need to surround yourself with friends of equal mind, kindred spirits, who share your dreams and goals in life. Do NOT hold back from seeking their advice, solace, and wisdom.

Third, you will want to set timely goals or check-points along the way for evaluating your recovery. How well am I bouncing back? Have trusted friends also give you feedback on how you’re doing. Be assured that setbacks will assail you; that’s life. But you are not back at Square-One. It’s just a setback.

Finally, and I hesitate to suggest this because so many of us use this as a scapegoat for being responsible- try PRAYING. (not for relief but for strength and wisdom) There’s something that cleanses the heart, mind, & soul through prayer. So, Christian or otherwise, try talking to the ceiling: you may just be pushing beyond it.

Resilience is every bit as much a matter of faith as it is fortitude. It is a determination within your soul that has its expression in the lives we live. Don’t hold back.

You can teach yourself to bounce back. Keep practicing. One day it will come more naturally.

Now, where’s my Pogo Stick,

  Gary

New Year’s Restorations

462px-happy_2016_fizzWhat happens when you make New Year’s Resolutions? Do you remember what they were by the end of January? Do you even remember them by the end of the day January 1st? Right; me either.

So to increase our chances of success in the New Year let’s change the rules. Instead of making Resolutions we will more than likely forget, let’s establish a set of New Year’s Restorationsthings and relationships in our lives that need to be rebuilt if we are to move through live more smoothly.

  1. What family members need your silent forgiveness, followed with appropriate expressions of love?
  2. The same goes for business relationships; that is, if you want your business to thrive next year.
  3. What parts of your own soul are in need of some repair and restoration?
  4. Same Four Questions I always raise—
  5. What one thing needs to change?
  6. What new thing [or things] needs to be added?
  7. What present thing(s) needs to go, to be eliminated from your life?
  8. What needs to be kept, but seriously modified to fit the next you?
  9. How did you make a difference last year? Keep doing that. You created something
  10. What were your greatest blunders? Just don’t repeat them again or you will need even more restoration.
  11. What kind of people do you need more of in your life?
  12. What kind of people have been a bad influence on you and need to go?
  13. Do you have a spiritual dimension to your life? If not, why not? God is no human projection.
  14. Ask, “The One Think I must accomplish in 2016, no matter what, is…?”

It is always good to check-in with yourself on a regular basis. I do it monthly, quarterly, & yearly. When was the last time you put your life through a tune-up?

Restoration is good for every aspect of your life. Get to it.

May this New Year restore your soul…, and so much more,

Gary

 

Serenity at Thanksgiving

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Serenity
Even the word feels good as it rolls off your tongue-  s  e  r  e  n  i  t  y. Like a magic word that calls forth a Genie from a bottle, the word beckons us to come apart to a peaceful place, to find solace, to rest, to be waited upon by a flood of servants! Or merely to be able to close our eyes on a warmed beach under a palm tree, or in a chaise lounge at a mountain retreat.
The serenity I need I find in front of a warm fireplace at the confiscated Lakehouse, deep within the Fall/Winter woods of northern New Hampshire. It is there that I contemplate the deeper questions of life-  like…, why my navel is an inny, or how did I ever wind up with such a wonderful wife. Or why God has honored us with His blessings and the privilege of serving others?
It seems that every now and again I push myself so hard that I border on collapse. Such was October, and September, and the prior Summer en toto. I don’t notice it so much as my wife. When she puts her foot down, “That’s it. You’re about to give way to the pressures of caring for people. You’re LEAVING! Go to the Lakehouse and get some rest!” Thus, I go! Granted, it’s only a day or two, but that’s enough for me, I think.
If you haven’t gotten the point of this emPulse yet, let me make it perfectly clear. Any of us can get caught up in the business of life, and work, and family, and other people, especially on a day when we are excited (or forced) to be around friends and relatives stuffed with turkey, so unsuspectingly, that we forget to take care of ourselves-  our bodies, our emotions, our spirits, our souls. We start to come apart because we have forgotten to come apart to take care of ourselves. Fortunately, I have a wife who knows when I’ve had enough…, even though I am clueless to the actuality. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. Remember to view yourself as expendable. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. You will be missed when you get away; but you will come back a renewed man, a refreshed woman.
A little serenity goes a long way to clear the mind and restore the soul.
27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
–           John 14:27 Christian Bible
Have a good Thanksgiving.
 
Gary

Crippling Fear

 flickr_-_sukanto_debnath_-_-1How many of us live with a gnawing fear of failure? Some of us are claustrophobic (fear of small spaces); others have acrophobia (fear of heights). Then, of course, there’s always snakes, in-laws, falling, and computers. I coined a phobia once—Christophobia! Fear of Christians.

The list of Phobia’s goes on ad infinitum. Too many of us pile one fear upon another, compounding the depth and extent of a once simple fear, now, a muddled mess of fears.

As the horde of our fears combine, they produce in us a reaction— an invisible shield of protection. This is a wall we put up to guard against further “attacks,” whether real or imagined, from the world outside. Unfortunately, over time, our inner walls start to crumble, and we find ourselves less protected than we once supposed. This breakdown of our protective barriers can lead to further fear, a crippling fear.

It is no simple matter to deal with crippling fear, let alone to overcome it. If not addressed it can eventually overwhelm you and take your life. This is a serious, irrational illness.

It is said that perfect love casts out fear. [1 John 4:18]  Short of God’s love for us I haven’t found much perfect love on this planet. Truthfully, sometimes even God’s love for us doesn’t drive out the fear that we grasp. But maybe that’s the problem—we really don’t want to let go of our fear. Somehow it has melded with the deepest part of our core and integrated into our identity. So now, it holds us.

Thus are we drawn into a war within ourselves; and it will not be an easy war to fight. Crippling fear knows just when and where to attack at every turn.

You will need help. Here are some simple tools I have used in my own fight with fear.

1.      Anger. [Yelling at God.]

2.      Prayer. [Listening to God.]

3.      Music.

4.      Scripture. Lots of it.

5.      One incredible friend (ok…, more than one).

6.      Counselors (again, more than one).

7.      Medication.

8.      Letting go of things I cannot change.

9.      Listing my fears.

10.  Single Malt Scotch (with that one good friend).

I don’t know if my list has been helpful: you may need to write your own. Whatever you do, DO NOT let this damn fear consume your life!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Dear Howard Schultz, & Starbucks Baristas

starbucks, coffee, christmas, christian, gary, davisDear Howard Schultz (CEO), & Starbucks Baristas everywhere,

By now most of you have heard of the RANTFever that is sweeping our land over your attempt to de-Christianize Christmas on your bright RED holiday cups. I truly am sorry for all this hubbub. It’s just wrong.  “Christians are being persecuted,” some Christians cry! One man, Paul Matthew Turner, on returning from India to the US, remarked somewhat incredulously over all the fuss over the Starbucks stuff. I’ll just quote one of his less vitriol reactions here— “what a shallow, disgusting, and completely moronic portrayal of “faith” this is!” You can read more here—https://www.facebook.com/MPTAuthor?fref=ts

Josh Feuerstein, a Christian protagonist (read Jackass), offers us a more inappropriate response in his simple RANT on his Facebook page—https://www.facebook.com/joshua.feuerstein.5/videos/689569711145714/ Really, watch it to see what NOT to do! And read the first link as well.

What amazes me is that anyone is so surprised in 21st Century America that Starbucks is not overtly “Christian” on its holiday coffee cups! Why should they be? Since when have we been a Christian nation, or Starbucks a Christian business?!? One ABC news commentator (whom I have a secret crush on so will not reveal her name) actually said, “If you want the Starbucks cup to be more Christmasy draw a snowman on it.”

During this Holiday Season, do I expect my Volvo mechanic to stamp my bill with a manger-scene— in red & green? Do I expect my doctor to wish me Merry Christmas; he’s Jewish. (He did anyway. Go figure.) Nor do I expect St. Nick to slide down my chimney. He’d get his ass fried.

I do expect people, at this time of year, to be more joyful, loving, suicidal (I do counseling.), sacrificial, and considerate. I even expect (some) drivers to let me to cut into their lane when I use my turn-signal. It’s just “the Season.”

For Christians everywhere, genuine Christians, not the whatever-the-hell-they-are Christians, take this Season of the year to honor your neighbors. DO NOT give them a fruit-cake. Don’t be one either. Invite them for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, a New Year’s party! Learn to make Wassail together. DRINK Wassail together (hic). Share your family’s celebrations together.

So, dearest Howard Schultz & Starbucks Baristas, THANK YOU for your Red Cups this Season! They’re bright & cheery! I need that. Honestly, I need your coffee just as much. Especially the Gram Latte’s! They’re great! Thank you very much for them.

And, not to be offensive in any way, Merry Christmas to all of you at Starbucks! You’re doing a great job of encouraging a lot of people at this time of year. Particularly me.

…and a Happy New Year, too,

  Gary

Davis v Davis

Davis, Kim, Gary, 365 Christianity, Clerk, Christian, Rights

Unless you live in cave in the Canadian wilderness you have probably caught whim of a Legal vs. Christian faith confrontation in Kentucky. The case revolved around Kim Davis’, Rowan County Clerk, refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, a ruling recently handed down to lower courts by our U.S. Supreme Court.

Kim’s justification is that the mandate violated her conscience and civil liberties as a born-again Christian. In other words, her freedom of speech and right to dissent were being denied.

In another case, Charee Stanley (47), a recent convert to Islam, was recently suspended by ExpressJet for refusing to serve alcohol to passengers as it violated her religious beliefs. Other flight attendants simply volunteered to take up that part of the job. No problem!?! Except for one Flight Attendant who filed a complaint against her. Thus, the 12 month suspension for Charee.

Are these two cases the same? Similar? Totally different issues?

A perspective. First, I am a Davis— Dr. Gary Davis, to be exact. Second, I also am a practicing Christian. I even teach Christians how to express our faith in ways that make sense to normal people. Most people have NO IDEA who genuine Christians are. They think we are ALL like Kim Davis. I am not like Kim Davis. We may share the same Biblical faith, but that is where it ends.

At the risk of being accused of tooting my own horn, allow me to record a recent texting incident between myself and a friend (not a Christian) that I interviewed for my next book, THE WHISKEY CHRONICLES: what normal people think of Christians. He initiated this conversation—

TD: Just 2 words, “Kim Davis?” Thoughts?

GD: Kim Davis?

TD: Kentucky “Christian” city clerk.

GD: Oh, her. One word, JERK!

TD: Hahaaaaahaa. What do normal people think of Christians? Probably Kim Davis! It’s unfortunate. But I think of Gary Davis…, a real Christian. Time to get that book going.

GD: You are an amazing Encourager, TD! Writing. Writing. Videoing. NEED more Bourbon to finish book.

TD: Hahaaaahaaa. I’ll be right over with a barrel.

Question: Who did more to further the cause of Christ? Davis…, or Davis? Who would draw more people TO Christ? Who would polarize people more?

I’m sorry, Kim; but what were you thinking!?! I am sorry I referred to you as a jerk in my text; it was more of an emotional reactionary response than a reasoned one. Please forgive me.

I live in New England where under 1% of the total population attends church (except Boston; 7%). That’s not genuine Christians, who believe the Bible and attempt to follow its teachings; that percentage is even less. America is NOT a Christian nation; never has been, never should be. We ARE a nation that promotes religious freedom…, within our communities, and in the workplace. Kim believes she upheld her faith by denying marriage licenses to same sex couples. I believe she violated both her job mandate and Scripture’s mandate to be subject to the Bible’s teachings and with government ordinances—

 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities… .” ~ Romans 13:1 (NIV Bible)

Seriously, Kim Davis, although I support your right to dissent, your shape of Christianity just did more to embarrass the name of Christ in our society than to draw people to Him. But you are not alone; too many Bible believing Christians still insist ondefending the faith against this world rather than befriending the people who live in it. Christians are not a bad lot if you can push past our oft offensive antics.

Question: So what can we do to resolve our differences? What can we do live in community with one another.

Comments & criticisms welcome.

…for what it’s worth,

  Gary

Damn Hot

HeatDamn Hot

Last week was the hottest scorcher of the summer in New England. People in the South say you get used to this. I grew up in the south and never got used to it. The heat made me sick— migraines, dehydration, exhaustion. Now I live in New England where people never need air conditioning! Wanna bet? Last Wednesday it was 99º. The heat index for the day felt like 105º. Add to that the 78% humidity…, oh never mind. Maybe it’s just me.

How does the heat affect you?

No, not the daily temperature: HEAT; PRESSURE; being pushed to your limits and then some. STRESS! The majority of us cannot stand too much heat. We simply give into the pressure and blow up. Thankfully, there are still some stalwarts who will give our lives for what we believe in and not give in.

Various sciences of our day have offered healthier stress-coping mechanisms for dealing with the HEAT. Here are some—

§  Take care of yourself.

§  Eat healthy, well-balanced meals

§  Exercise on a regular basis

§  Get plenty of sleep

§  Talk to others. Share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor.

§  Avoid drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol may seem to help with the stress. In the long run, they create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.

§  Take a break. If your stress is caused by a national or local event, take breaks from listening to the news stories, which can increase your stress.

Recognize when you need more help. If problems continue or you are thinking about suicide, talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx

Here’s my list—

§  Go into the woods & hit a tree: or, into an alley and pound a wall.

§  While you’re in the woods, let off some steam.

§  Contrary to the professional opinion above, find a “mate,” you can have a nice, cold Fosters with. This is a great way to dissipate the Heat.

§  Take time to process everything.

§  Write things down to clarify what really happened, or, what was said. Put it away for a week; then take it out & read it again. Still accurate?

§  Don’t blame God. [You know it’s not His fault.]

§  If you are the cause of the heat & stress, apologize.

§  If you are the recipient of the pressure, the stress, the HEAT, find people to help share the load. Then do the same for them when they need help.

There are probably many more ways to handle the HEAT. But I’m tired of thinking about this on a 90º day.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary