True Colors

I think that there are not enough people who realize their power to make a difference.

This week I ended my job, opting for retirement instead. The kind words that have been spoken to me have touched me deeply. I did give my “all” to the position, and I did attempt to sincerely respond to anyone who had a need. The fruits of those efforts became visible to me this week. Apparently, I really did make some kind of difference!

I only did what I was expected to do. I was amiable, and I helped as I could. I tried to be kind, even to people who kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I tried, with sincerity, to practice the Golden Rule. The warmth that has been extended to me this week tells me that I did indeed impact some lives – at least a few.

I am, therefore, writing to spread this encouragement:  Do not be afraid to let others know the Real You. When you extend sincerity and kindness to others, it does indeed come back to you. They are simply two of those kinds of gifts that keep on giving…because they did indeed give back to me!

On the Other Side

“Is it really that bad out there?” One of the soon-to-be-released inmates had asked the question. It kind of took me by surprise. There had been no preceding discussion on the topic at all.

Of course, when one considers the huge amount of negativity that prevails today – the political climate, media hype for bigger and better material goods, and television fare that lacks greatly in creativity – perhaps it does seem overwhelming to someone who has been away from it for some time.

Years ago, I remember reading that we should not always ask God for things, but instead, thank Him for all that He has provided. I have tried to incorporate that behavior into my life.

Since I started thanking God for various things in my life, I have also tried looking for the good in all situations and I find I am happier for it. Yes, this world has the potential to depress and intimidate. Yet, when you find good things and good people, and when you thank God for all His blessings, I think the world becomes a friendlier place.

Is it really that bad out there? I believe it doesn’t need to be. When we look for the good “out there” (and I do believe it still exists), and try to be the best that we can be…when we love purely, learn to trust simply, and believe in our fellow man…no, Virginia, I don’t believe it is that bad out there. Count your blessings…they are many.

I Could Be a Fraud

Have you ever felt like a fake? Do you sometimes feel that you are only going through the motions , with little thought to the meaning behind those actions? Sometimes you just know that there is a “disconnect.”

We all want to do better in some way. We dream of making more money, having a better house, a better job, greater recognition… the list goes on. Always there is something that sounds “better.”  Given the many material temptations we have around us daily, and given all of the technology and bombardment by some form of media that permeate our entire day, it is difficult – if not impossible – to slow down enough to search our souls.

What is of REAL value to you? Happiness? Peace? Simplicity? Oh, but It is so much easier to deal with tangible THINGS! How do you measure happiness or peace or simplicity? And then, how do you escape the rat race long enough to put a plan into action (let alone achieve it)?

I feel like a fraud. I work in a church. I’m surrounded by wonderful people on a daily basis. I frequently attend a prisoner bible study. I attempt to write inspiring things on this blog. From the outside looking in, I seem to be in a very good “place.” One would think I had all the inspiration and peace that I need. Yet, all too often, I find myself feeling that I don’t do them with enough effort. It is very hard to settle oneself to simply get to that place where I am truly honest with myself. How committed am I? How sincere? Do I go that extra mile that I am capable of going, or do I take the easy way out?

Being the best that one can be is a T-A-L-L order.  It requires constant effort and success is often infrequent. I don’t have an answer…I just know that I can be better than I am – and I’m working on it.


Last night I witnessed something that I think is very cool. I have been attending a bible study at the local prison. One man in our small group recounted an event from his day. Another inmate had tried to intimidate and bully him to where he’d wanted to simply “deck” the guy. Instead, however, he walked away. He told us of the calm that centered over him once he was away from the man. As he spoke, you could hear the amazement in his voice, and the recognition of change within himself.

This bible study group is composed of Level I prisoners (those closest to release) and volunteers. They begin the group with prayer, and then song. Their participation is robust and sincere. Next, they share joys and requests for prayer. There is a level of camaraderie and trust that is not evident elsewhere. When they speak, they are open and very aware.

Years ago, I attended Level V services. Those men, to me, seemed desperate, lonely, and without hope. They seemed to merely exist from day to day. The men in this Level I group are different. They are hopeful. They are caring. They ask for prayers for themselves and for loved ones and friends. They are aware of world events and offer prayers for those who are affected by them. There is evidence of Christianity at work. Best of all, there is recognition of change within themselves, and indeed, a well deserved element of pride.

I look forward to being a part of this group each week. Often, it is I that feels like the fraud. These men are intentional, committed, and aware, both of themselves as well as others. Something – or perhaps Someone – is making a difference in these men! I offer my compliments to staff who may have helped with this change. I thank the Father for His amazing goodness. Most of all, however, I extend my sincerest congratulations to the men themselves who have achieved these changes. You can tell that they themselves are the ones who have committed to change. The trust and camaraderie they show to one another indicate the distance they have come. If what I see in these men each week is evidence of the men they have become, I would be proud to live next door to any one of them! I pray for their continued growth, and for their success upon release.