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Monday, July 25, 2016

The Frying Pan and the Fire

Sometimes my wife calls me a perfectionist and sometimes she is right. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing to try to do everything really well, it’s far more important for me to recognize that I am never going to be perfect and that I do make mistakes and unfortunately I do commit sins. I hate it when I mess up and I try not to…but sometimes when I make a small mistake, I compound it and it feels like I’m going from the frying pan into the fire! Considering it was 106 degrees when I “messed up” last week, that’s probably a pretty appropriate feeling.

The sin I committed was getting angry and losing my temper when I shouldn’t have. Although I would like to think it was a small sin, I have a feeling that sins are not measured on a scale of 1-10. You either sin or you don’t and there’s no in-between. My father was instrumental in teaching me right from wrong and he taught me that any sin, even the sin of omission, or complacency, is wrong. But he also taught me the value of forgiveness.

It was a lesson I learned when I was about 8 years old. Both of my parents were smokers back then so there were always matches laying around the house. I was a good kid, polite and well-mannered and would never hurt a flea, but I was also extremely curious and those matches were really tempting. Believe it or not I poured some gasoline from the garage into a small soup can, grabbed the matches and went out behind the back yard fence to feed my curiosity. Within a matter of minutes, I managed to spill the fired up can of flames and had to run screaming to my Dad that the fence was on fire! He was furious at first but after he saw that I was okay, he grabbed the hose and put out the fire. Then he slowly turned and marched me to my bedroom.

We sat on the bed and had a long talk about the dangers of playing with fire. He reminded me that he was going to be deployed overseas soon, for a very long time, and that I had to step up and become the man of the house. I could see it in his eyes and by the way he spoke that he was way more serious than usual, which scared me. But looking back now I realize my Dad was scared too, scared because he would soon have to leave a wife and two young children behind to struggle on their own. I truly respected my Dad and loved him intensely, so I felt terrible about what I did. Which makes what happened next a real surprise. After making me promise to never do it again, he forgave me. He should have spanked me, grounded me or at least put me up for adoption, but he didn’t. He hugged me, told me how much he loved me and that he was counting on me. I will never forget the love and compassion I saw in his eyes that day. It was a lesson in forgiveness that I will never forget. In fact, the next time I start to get angry and go from the frying pan into the fire, I will remember the lessons of love and forgiveness that my earthly father…and my heavenly Father… have both shown me by their examples. 
Lieutenant Allen B. Thrailkill, USMC (circa 1963)
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
~ Paul Boese 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Happiness Multiplied (By Debby Thrailkill)

While out for a walk this morning I thought about a meeting I will attend this evening. I'll be representing the South County Outreach to a women's club, a social group that gathers monthly with a different agenda each time. Sometimes the group learns about charitable causes and others times they just share a fun activity. Whether gathering food for the needy or simply enjoying fine wine, these women build bonds that are meaningful and lasting as they share their experiences. Outside the group setting, these ladies grow to support each other whenever needed out of love for their friends. Taking time to join a group can change your life.

One example. My mother in law is a vibrant, beautiful woman who loves life, loves to make new friends and constantly shares herself with others. She has a bunko club (picture ladies with slippery dice and tasty drinks), a group of retired candy factory coworkers who lunch together every month and a big family that always loves to gather near her. Until recently she also had her Curves group, which is ladies who work out together. At 82 her regular gatherings with others who have similar interests brings her much joy. It's effort on her part to keep these relationships going, but she absolutely loves it. She constantly offers up her home and meals and she participates in lively conversation and projects that always bring joy to others.

Another example. A friend of mine works tirelessly to raise funds and awareness for nonprofits throughout our community. An important job, he meets with groups of all sizes weekly. He wears a three-piece suit, exudes sincerity, and has a heart of gold. Outside of work he involves himself in all sorts of worldly ventures. He travels to Paris with family and friends, is writing a novel, and also represents a line of wood baseball bats, a passion that involves him with groups of young college athletes and fellow ball players throughout the country. My outgoing and renaissance friend brings his energy, enthusiasm and passion for life to each group he encounters, yet in his thoughts at the end of each day he thanks God for the friends he has been blessed with.

Participating with a group takes effort but can be absolutely rewarding! I recently signed up to join Monica Mehren Thompson's "Pay it Forward" giving group. I read about this group online and gave Monica a call. I was looking forward to meeting new friends and finding new ways to share my blessings. Monica was excited to welcome me to the group and reminded me that in joining the group I would be bringing value to them as well.

Sharing my life with my husband, family and good friends brings me unequaled joy. Sharing enhances life, and it works both ways. Share a meal, share a story, share your faith and do it often. Your happiness will multiply!
Instead of a gem or a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought
into the heart of a friend. That would be giving as the angels give. 
~ George MacDonald 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Double Vision

In my last Monday Message, I wrote about how I’ve been going through some really tough times lately. Well, I wish I could report that things have gotten better, but actually things have gotten a lot worse, including having to make a 911 call two days ago to have my Mom rushed to the Hospital. What’s that quote from Mother Theresa, “I know God won’t give us more than we can handle, I just wish he didn’t trust me so much!” Well, I guess that pretty much sums up how I’m feeling at the moment!

However, I’ve always been a positive person so I keep trying to focus on the positive and be thankful for the blessings I do have. And while doing that, it occurred to me that one of the greatest blessings a man can have is a wife who loves him and supports him… even in the darkest moments. (By the way, if I am so great at “lighting”, then I probably shouldn’t be having any dark moments... right? Sorry…that’s a little “lighting” humor, but at least I can still laugh.)

Anyway, I consider my relationship with my wife to be extremely special for many reasons. But it’s also a bit unique in that we realized very early in our relationship what a great friendship we had. So when it blossomed into love, we decided we would always be together and try our hardest to never be apart. For more than 20 years now we’ve lived together, worked together, vacationed together and driven everywhere together. In fact, we only have one car so we have no choice but to be “creative carpoolers”. Over all these years we have only been apart three times overnight and that was only because of emergencies involving our children. I keep thinking she is going to get sick of me, and she should definitely get sick of me, but apparently she never does. So lucky me!

So as I was lying in bed last night considering whether to have a pity party for myself or not, I glanced over at my wife and realized something I had never thought of before. I realized we should call ourselves “Double Vision”. What I mean is…When you have someone to share your ups and downs, the good times and the bad times, the Hawaii vacations and the ambulance rides to the hospital, the birth of a child and the death of a parent, it doubles your view of all aspects of life. So in the good times you have someone to laugh and smile with and in the bad times you have someone to hold and cry with. I have always had a vision of what I wanted my life to look like, I just never realized that it would be so much clearer with “Double Vision”.
The only thing worse than being blind 
is having sight with no vision.
~ Helen Keller