Remember the fallen on Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. It is the day that we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the US military. Many of them were not much older than you are right now when they died. Like you – they had plans for the future, and dreams about what they wanted to do in their lifetime. But, those plans did not happen, their dreams were not fulfilled. Instead they departed this world too soon, and left an empty chair at the table. It is important that we remember the fallen. They paid for our freedom with their lives. You come from a military family so it is important that you understand what this holiday means. Take a few moments today to ponder their sacrifice, thank God that you live in a free country, and remember the fallen.

John 15:13. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Be a life long learner – read books

One hobby I have enjoyed immensely during my lifetime is reading.  Nowadays it is easy to spend a large portion of your leisure time in activities that do not really teach you anything new. Video games, YouTube, and social networking are fun, but not necessarily helpful. Few things are better than reading a great book.  I used to read books of all kinds in order to figure out what interested me.  Nowadays, I mainly focus my reading in areas that give me new insight, teach me new things, or are fun to read.  Specific topics that I enjoy include military history, theology, leadership, and poetry.

“Personally, the books by which I have profited infinitely more than by any others have been those in which profit was a by-product of the pleasure; that is, I read them because I enjoyed them, because I liked reading them, and the profit came in as part of the enjoyment.” 

– Teddy Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

Travel to See and Experience the World

Travel and see the world whenever you get a chance.  You will gain a different perspective on life, on people, and life long memories during your travels.  We lived in Germany many years ago, and had a wonderful time traveling all over Europe. I still have fond memories of all the trips, both the good and the bad. I saw some of the best places like (Bavaria, Iphofen, Burgundy, Tuscany, Cinque Terra, Alsace, Paris, Venice, Florence, Bruges, and Dresden, etc.), and some grim reminders about humanity’s dark side (Dachau and Bosnia). My hope is to take you to Europe every summer.

I’m not expecting to grow flowers in a desert
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime
In a big country, dreams stay with you
Like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside, Stay alive  

– The song In a Big Country, by Big Country

Start the day with something you enjoy

One thing that I do each day is to start with something I enjoy, because I may be about to experience the worst day of my life. The reality is that I don’t know what is in store for me. I enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning, especially on a cold day.  I also enjoy croissants (France’s greatest contribution to the world). It may sound goofy, but I buy coffee and croissants many mornings at Starbucks on my way to work. I am not saying that you should start drinking Starbucks coffee like me.  Instead, I am saying figure out something that you enjoy (going for a run, reading the paper, listening to a favorite song, reading the Bible, watching the news, whatever) and make it one of the first things you do.  Enjoy that moment and then get on with the rest of your day.

I’m never gonna look back
Woah, never gonna give it up
No, please don’t wake me now
This is gonna be the best day of my li-ife

– By the American Authors

Life is hard, but you can choose your attitude

Life is hard, so make the best of it.  Simply put, you will have some great days, some good days, some average days, some bad days, and even some absolutely miserable ones.  One way to help keep your sanity is to approach everyday with a positive mental attitude.   It may be the main thing that helps you make it through the tough days.   Besides, you do not have a choice of what will happen to you in any given day.  But, you can choose how you will react to these events. Sometimes when I am down I remember the US Army Ranger Creed that we recited every morning at Ranger School. It helps me remember who I am and what I can do, even when the odds are stacked against me. I will talk more about this creed and Ranger School later.

Recognizing that I volunteered as a ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.

– First Stanza of Ranger Creed

Work hard – do not be lazy

I am convinced that hard works pays off.  I have seen some people become successful based solely on their natural talent, or a gift from others- but it doesn’t last.  First, the most rewarding part of the success journey is “the struggle”.  I have learned most of life’s lessons during the tough times when I have struggled towards achieving a goal.  Second, if something is handed to me, it doesn’t mean as much to me as the things I have earned.  Nobody can take these victories away from me.  Lastly, natural talent only gets you so far.  I do not have much natural ability in many things, so I have tried to make up the difference by working harder and smarter than the other guy.  To date, this approach has worked well for me, and I believe will make all the difference for me in the long run.

Proverbs 6: 6-8: Take a lesson from the ant, you who love leisure and ease. Observe how it works, and dare to be just as wise.
It has no boss, no one laying down the law or telling it what to do,
Yet it gathers its food through summer
and takes what it needs from the harvest

Know what you believe, and write it down

Don’t let others tell you what you believe.  Make a stand, and figure out what is important to you.  Then, put it down on paper, so that you can remind yourself what you believe, and what makes you tick.  It took me a long time to figure out a lot of things, but I finally created my own personal creed.  Here is a copy of it:

Knowing God is my life’s foundation.  I will trust in Jesus, and thank Him everyday for His grace, mercy, and love.  I will pursue an intimate relationship with God, and pass along His message of hope and plan of salvation to others.

Excellence is my standard. I will strive to be the best in the areas that God has gifted me.  My talents are gifts from Him.  What I do with that potential is my gift back to Him. I will be held accountable for what I do.

Attitude is my own choice.  I will not let others determine, or influence my outlook on life. I am called to bring light into darkness.  I will gladly answer that call, and help bring hope, and a positive attitude into every situation.

Training is a daily activity.  I will develop my abilities into skills, and put my faith into action. I will not rely solely on my own abilities.  Instead, I will continuously develop myself through intense training, and disciplines.

Intellect will separate me from the rest of the crowd. Scholarship will be a lifelong pursuit. I will pursue the truth, wherever it may lead.  Ignorance will not be an excuse for making poor decisions, or repeated mistakes.

Never quitting will demonstrate my determination to others.  When life is tough I will cling to the promises of God, and press on towards my next goal.  The success journey is not easy.  I expect struggles along the way and welcome the challenge. Others will not determine my destiny.

Generosity will be my hallmark.  God has blessed me greatly. I lack nothing.  I will help those who cannot help themselves and always extend a hand to those in need, and encourage others to do likewise.

Know that I love both of you

I want to make one thing clear to you.  I LOVE YOU and will continue to love you until we depart from this world.  Ever since I held you in my arms for the first time, up until now, I have loved you.  No matter what happens- I will love you.  No matter how I act- I love you.  I am here for you now, and will always be there for you in the future because I love you.  You may make me mad, frustrate me, disappoint me, curse my name, hate me, rebel against me, but nothing you can or will ever do will make me stop loving you.  I consider both of you a blessing from God.  You are my sons, and I am your father.  God has charged me with a great responsibility as your father, and I take that obligation seriously.

Psalm127:  3Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a real blessing.
The sons a man has when he is young
are like arrows in a soldier’s hand.

Jesus is my answer – forever

If I could pass along only one bit of advice to you it is this- Jesus is my answer.  My faith in Him has made the biggest difference in my life.  I have experienced many victories and good times during my lifetime, but none of them compares to the joy that Jesus brought into my life, after I decided to follow Him.  I did not make this decision until later in life (in my twenties), and it is by far the best decision that I have made.  My prayer is that you too will decide to follow Jesus, and make Him Lord of your life.  I do not want to come across as some religious fanatic, but I want you to know my heart, and what Jesus means to me.  I will talk a lot more about my own journey towards salvation later in this document because it has been quite a journey, and it is the foundation of my life.

3 John 1:4  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Introduction – when I was young I did not know much

This letter is an attempt to pass along my thoughts, prayers, wisdom, experience, and advice to you.  It is tough to be a successful man in today’s world, so my hope is that this document will help inspire you to develop into the man that God designed you to become.  When I was a young man there were a lot of things about God, people, and the world in which we live that I did not understand, at all.  Lord knows, I have made a million mistakes along the way, and there is a lot that I still need to learn. I have sought wisdom from many different sources, and spent many years trying to “figure out what life was all about”.  This letter summarizes what I have discovered, so far. Hopefully you find it useful.

Note- the text that is contained within this document is not in any particular order, and placed in any particular format.  Some writing will be very clear and concise, while other items may be somewhat obtuse.  I apologize if you do not understand everything that I am trying to convey to you, although some items are intended to make you think about things and come to your own conclusion.  Without further delay, here we go…..