Power Should Be Held With A Loose Grasp

‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’    John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

I have had the opportunity to observe many leaders in my time.  Some were natural leaders and arrived at a position of leadership through unadulterated ability to influence those around them.

Others were leaders by virtue of a supervisory or managerial or administrative positions that they had been assigned.  With a willingness and a good heart, these people developed into sound and reliable persons of authority.

Yet, there are leaders who are leaders by avarice and deception.  These are people who seek to influence others for their own gain and benefit.  I have witnessed this type of leader in both politics and ministry.

There is especially a danger when a leader has not checks or balances or sounding board…to assure that they are on the right track!

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Our founding fathers understood that they had just left a monarchy and that they no longer wanted to live under a king or queen.  The United States equal division of power between our three branches of government is brilliant in it’s hinderance of unlimited power.

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When and if our congress is working properly they are to be a check on an executive branch, that is, ‘drunk with power!’

I remember when, republican, Senator Barry Goldwater told President Nixon that he did not have four votes in the Senate to not find him guilty  after a, certainty, of impeachment in the House of Representatives…and that his vote was not one of the four!

I have watched ministers, close-up, who have no real check on their power.  They often develop a bit of a God complex!  When no one tells you no,  and those whom you surround yourself with, repeatedly, tell you how wise and strong and powerful and good looking that you are…you, may, begin to believe it!

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‘The Emperor’s New Clothes is a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson, about two weavers who promise a emperor a new suit that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent – while in reality, they make no clothes at all, making everyone believe the clothes are invisible to them.  When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new ‘clothes,’ no one dares say  that they do not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as stupid.  Finally a child cries out, ‘But he isn’t wearing anything at all.’    Wikipedia

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Photos courtesy of Google search.

 

Welcoming The Unwanted

I began life in Chicago, Illinois.  My father was a mechanic who worked on semi-trucks.  Mom, was a stay-at-home mother, as many women were in the 1950’s.

Until the age of 5 years I lived the life of Beaver Cleaver, from the popular television show, of the time, Leave It To Beaver.  Our street in Sauk Village was tree lined with middle class homes on either side.

By the time that my parents and I moved to Eldorado, Illinois, in an attempt to save their marriage, I discovered myself in a cold-ghost-house…with a dead rat in the bathtub!

When I began the first grade my mother did not have the 20 cents per day that was required for a hot lunch…and so I was the only student in the class that carried my lunch in a brown paper bag.

After my mom and dad divorced…I saved my money in order to purchase a dime glass of whole milk at the corner restaurant as all that we had was powered milk that we were given by the commodities program.

I understand what it is like to feel like an outsider.  I know what it is like to be not seen or heard while the more attractive and better dressed kid is chosen for the, enjoyable, tasks.

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I became a christian in 1969, primarily because the minister and the congregants made me feel welcome and loved and appreciated!

I fear that we christians are looking for people that look like us…and act like us…and see the world as we see it?

Denominational churches are experiencing a reduction in their membership, and have been for years.

Perhaps we have exhausted the market for doppelgängers?

‘For I was an hungred and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, an ye gave me no drink:’

‘I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick and in prison, and ye visited me not.’

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‘Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?’

‘Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to the least of these, ye did it not to me.’    Matthew 25: 42-45   KJV

A church that will open it’s doors and not only welcome…but love…those who are unaccustomed to being welcomed and loved….is doing Christ’s work!

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It is not about increasing the membership of your congregation…it is about the message of Jesus!

The kind of love that accepts those who society shuns…is compelling and pure!

Many will be fed…many will feel love…perhaps for the first time!

If our church exhibits the christianity of our mentor, Jesus Christ, we will need a bigger building…just to serve lunch to the hungry!

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‘When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’  He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.’

‘Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bit!’

‘Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’

‘Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’  There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).  Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.  He did the same with the fish.’

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‘When they all had enough to eat he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over.  Let nothing be wasted.’  So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.’

‘After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is come into the world.’   John 6: 7-14   NIV

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Note: Images of Jesus feeding the five thousand are courtesy of Google.

Control of Your Professional Life…Enhances Your Attitude!

All too often we hear that the United States work-force…has a bad attitude!  Supervisor and managers and administrators and CEO’s will exhort their staff to, ‘exhibit a good and sunny attitude…and many of their problems will be alleviated!’

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As a former; supervisor and manager/administrator…I struggled with how to enhance the morale of my colleagues.  I discovered, many of the anxieties and depressions and the general feeling of illness-in-the-organization…could be directly be attributed to staff, at all levels, who felt that they had no control of their work-life.

I have been a part of organizations that control virtually everything from the top down in the typical, military, hierarchal model.

 

When I began working for Southern Illinois University in October, 1978…I was immediately thrilled with my assignment of cleaning the General Accounting Building, Thalman Hall, with very little supervision.  Once I had shown that I was gong to perform as a professional housekeeper…my supervisor moved on to other areas of his responsibility that required his attention.  I, quickly, understood that I was in charge of my career destiny!

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As a custodial crew leader, my foreman was more of a resource person than a supervisor of cleanliness…as I had that covered…and he respected that fact!  My name spread throughout the organization as a supervisor that got the job done and who produced supervisors for my Building Service Worker ranks.  I was both honored and humbled by this, gracious, compliment.  But, I understood by the professional manner that my leaders treated me…that I was respected…that my opinion was valued…and that they were watching my positive progress!

As superintendent of Building Services…no one looked over my shoulder!  The department achieved, much, more that the results that were expected by my leaders and they had nothing but words of praise for our accomplishments!  By this time in my career I understood that no one was responsible for my success…if I did not work hard and strive for a fair and a diverse workplace where everyone could not only feel welcome…but at home!

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Now…I have worked for more than one supervisor…who micro-managed me.  I understand what it feels like to have my word…be meaningless!  I have felt what it is like to be belittled and made fun of and criticized for attempting to perform my job in a professional manner!

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A Board of Trustee member expounded, years ago, that civil service employees should be grateful to have a job.

Have you ever worked for someone who you knew was never going to trust your work product or your decision making ability or your professionalism…even when you asked them exactly how they wanted something done…and you, subsequently, performed the task, in question, exactly as they had instructed you?

Have you ever worked, countless, hours and neither asked for recompense nor reward…and had your supervisor reward you…with more work?

Have you ever had good ideas that you shared with your supervisor and they, in turn, robbed you of those ideas and portrayed them as their own…to their manager or administrator?

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A Building Service Worker is a professional…and should be treated as one!

A Building Service Sub-foreman is a professional…and should be treated as one!

A Building Services Foreman is a professional…and should be treated as one!

Members of the clerical staff or the administrative staff or the Grounds staff…are dedicated professionals and when leaders are seeking to increase good attitudes they need to ensure that their people are empowered to perform their duties…not only professionally…but in an entrepreneurial manner!

 

Our Children Are Afraid!

‘The sixth-grader stood outside his Colorado charter school, ,one arm wrapped around his dad, while he described how he planned to thwart an active shooter.’

‘I had my hand on a metal baseball bat, just in case, ‘ Nate Holley told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, looking  straight into the camera.  ‘Cause I was going to go down fighting if I was going to go down.’    Washington Post

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When I began first grade, in 1962, the thought of an active shooter…never crossed my mind.  I was afraid of a nuclear bomb being dropped on my school…due to our incessant ‘bomb drills’ where we knelt under our desks and covered our heads with our hands!

But the bomb never dropped…and none of us died.

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‘It was three days before the last day of school, and the students inside Ms. Harper’s English classroom were whiling away the last period of the day watching, ‘The Princess Bride’ when one of their classmates walked in late and pulled out a gun.’

‘The only thing he said out loud to the students was, ‘Don’t you move,’ said Nui Giasolli, an 18 year old senior who was in the class at the time.’

‘In the moment, she recalled, Kendrick Castillo, a gentle teenager fascinated by cars and engineering, lunged to stop the gunman and and was shot dead.  Eight other students were wounded in the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch on Tuesday afternoon, which the authorities said was carried out by two other students.’    The New York Times

When we had recess in my schools of, Hillcrest and Washington School, in Eldorado, Illinois…we played on the monkey bars and enjoyed the carousel that you could spin at phenomenal speeds…and, in the cold weather, we played, ‘steal-the-bacon,’…which I never mastered!

One November day we had an announcement over the loud speaker, that was in every classroom, that President Kennedy had  been shot!  Although the tragedy took place in Texas…it seemed a millions miles away.  The danger and carnage and destruction and death…was a television event and not our, grade school reality!

It has been only a few short years ago that a school shooting was a national tragedy! Network television as well as all cable news outlets discontinued regular programing and focused on the heinous event!

Now, school shooting have become so, macabrely, common place that they merit news coveralls on the equivalent of, ‘below the fold’ on the first page or often on the sixth page of a print newspaper!

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I read about the Kent State shooting of four college students…and could not believe what our government had fallen too!

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The Vietnam war was on my television, every evening…and Walter Cronkite reported how many Vietnamese has been killed that day and how many Americans had lost their lives.

In high school our principal roamed the hallways and looked like an tough guy…and I did not want to find out if he was!

Now, armed, police officers roam many of the school hallways of our land…and still we have the scourge of mass murder of…children!

When will the deaths of our children be enough?

When we will decide that it is…wrong…that our sixth graders have a plan of fighting, active shooters?

When will it not be…an earth shattering…full stop on the accepted routine of mass murder of our young people…in the places that they go to receive an education?

When will we decide and, equate, the importance of a fetal heartbeat  and  an embryo and a zygote…with the continued, sacredness of our children’s lives?

 

 

Note: Photos of ‘Bomb Safety’ and Kent Sate Shootings are courtesy of Google.

 

 

Beginnings

There is something special about the newness of an adventure!

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I remember Christmas, so many years ago, with mom and dad and a giant Christmas Tree…and a seemingly unending amount of presents!  For my three year old mind…it seemed that there were more gifts than I could ever play with!

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I recall becoming sixteen years old.  As far as I was concerned I was an adult and a free agent and I could do whatever I chose to do!

The day after my high school graduation…I moved away from home…and discovered that I was not as grown-up as I had initially imagined!

When I became a christian and discovered the wonderful mystery of the Bible and the joys of church life…I was ecstatic.

My career at Southern Illinois University created a plethora of beginnings for me!  I relished the responsibility entrusted to me and the opportunity to help others!

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As we grow older we, sometimes, feel that our days of exciting beginnings are over.  We think that we, ‘have been there and seen, and done, that!’

Nothing could be further from the truth!  The roadblocks that we perceive are in our way…are those that we have, carefully, constructed in our head.

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If we want to loose weight…eat more healthy foods and, perhaps less quantity, and exercise more.  And, do not expect results in a day…as the extra pounds did not come on in a a day…and they will take more than a day too leave!

Develop a mental picture of how you felt when you were thin…and look at it daily!

Is your job stressing you to the point of mental and physical exhaustion?

First, deal with all unnatural stressors that can be eliminated or lessened.  If it is still more than you need for a healthy lifestyle…begin looking for another position.

No job is worth your happiness…your life!

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Are you bored to fatigue?  Find something that you enjoy and begin doing it on a regular basis.

I fear that we allow ourselves to become captives of the clock!

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Our lives are very short…yet we stop constructive living and loving and enjoying the newness and mystery of each day….far before we die!

I have had people tell me that they did not know what they were going to do when they retired as their job was their entire life!

I wonder if the workaholic remembers that when they began their career they did so to provide for a better life for themselves and their family?  No one, ever signed a offer of employment that read, Come Join Us For Your Natural Life!

I think that we must remind ourselves that our happiness or peace or satisfaction is not predicated or controlled or governed by what someone says that it should be.

Your happiness is your responsibility and no one will provide for you what your, ‘one-in-a-kind,’ unique…specialness…demands!

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Perhaps you want to climb mountains

Or swim in the sea?

Perhaps you want to sing bass

Or buzz like a bee?

Perhaps you like to see the sun shine bright

Or you feel your best in the night?

Perhaps crowds give you energy and focus and love

Or being alone gives you peace like a dove?

Perhaps you like to climb trees or fish in a pond

Or you would rather be Harry Potter with a wand?

Perhaps it is Allah you worship or Jesus or Buddah

Or your favorite food is a cheese called Gouda?

Whatever you like…there is only one you

Or beginnings make all of us feel new!

 

Managing Expectations

I laughed, heartily, at the skit that,  SNL alum, Adam Sandler was in on last week’s Saturday Night Live!  This was his first return to the show that gave him his start, well, over twenty years ago.

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‘…the sketch takes an unexpected and delightful turn about a minute in, when Sandler turns toward the camera and begins lecturing the audience about not pinning their hopes for a better life on tourism:’    Slate

‘People love us, But every so often a customer leaves a review that they were disappointed or didn’t have as much fun as they thought.  So here at Romano Tours, we always remind our customers, ‘If you are sad now, you might still feel sad there, OK?  You understand?  That makes sense?’   Slate

‘A day is a long time to feel happy, for all of it.  Most of us get 45 minutes if were lucky.’    Slate

Having had the opportunity to travel to some very interesting locations…I can attest that Sandler’s character, in the skit, was right!

I remember riding on a tour bus in Ireland and an elderly couple setting in front of us.  The gentleman kept exclaiming to his wife that he had told her and told her to not wait until the back of the line…and now…she must see the poor seating that they had been forced to endure!

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The wife responded by telling her, curmudgeonly, husband, ‘shut up…shut up….shut up!’

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The out of sorts gray whiskered man responded, ‘I am not shutting up G– Damnit!’  He said this about ten times!

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I taped the lady on the shoulder and offered her seats that were located next to Mary Jane and I and that had more leg room.

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The, harried, women said, ‘No thank you…he needs to stay where he is…with his attitude!’

I considered that this couple could have saved a significant amount of money by staying at home…as you can be miserable there for no additional cash outlay!

I have known many people who seek a change in venue to achieve nirvana!  When in practicality…our happiness or dissatisfaction travels with us…like a monkey on our back!

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When I travel I am open to new experience and new people and a different way of living than what I am accustomed to.  I see travel as an explorer that seeks knowledge and a widening and deepening of my life experience.  I want to learn what I do not know!

In Italy we learned the slower pace of the Italians and their love for savoring food and wine at their ristorante.

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In France we learned that the French are not loud people…like many of us Americans.  When going into a store or market it is advisable to address the proprietor or the sales person with a, proper greeting, and a cheery demeanor.

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In Tunis, Tunisia I, quickly noticed that the Tunisians responded to a friendly greeting and that they were not only hospitable but that the tea and cakes that they gave us was important to their interaction with us.

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We Americans are in a bustling hurry…for no good reason.  Europeans want to take time to know you and your humanity.

If you are standing in line in the United Kingdom and someone attempts to break in front of you in the, queue, the person that is waiting on the participants of the queue will, quickly, inform the, rude, person that they must step to the back of the queue…and they will not wait on them if they do not!

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Wherever I travel…I find that, Jay, comes with me!

 

 

Note: The photo of Adam Sandler and the photos of Ireland are courtesy of Google.

 

Life Is Lovely In It’s Fragility

I have just returned from my, Sunday Campus Stroll, and I marveled at the fragile beauty of spring nature!

IMG_4727 2The spring blossoms and blooms and flowers…last but awhile!  Capturing their beauty is fleeting!

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When the splendor of spring is with us…we think that it will last forever…but one morning it is gone for another year.

IMG_4720 2So, it can be said of our time upon this Earth.  We grow and bloom and blossom and prosper on life’s stage…and then we wither and, seemingly, die.

During our human experience one fact is certain…we are fearfully and wonderfully made…and we are extremely fragile!

IMG_4747This is Mental Health Awareness Month.  Often we do not think about how many of our friends and colleagues and family have mental health issues?

Many do not consider that they could be dealing with a mental health issue…and that there is help for them.

In our hurry-up and stressful society…nothing is more important than kindness!

Nothing is more important than empathy!

Nothing is more important than respect for our fellow traveller on the road of life!

IMG_4703We value our beautiful flowers and trees and put great love and care into their thriving and growth!

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We All Watch What People Do…Not What They Say!

We humans love to talk!

We proclaim allegiances and promises and pledges and loyalty.

But do we deliver on our verbal proclamations?

I have heard it said that, ‘talk is cheap!’  However, so often we base our fealty to the person who can spin the best verbal salad!

 

I had one of my foreman tell me, many years ago, that they had difficulty trusting me.  When I inquired as to if I had ever, not produced, what I had told her or if I had ever lied to her…she replied that I had not!

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It was my practice during my 25 years of management at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…to never tell a member of my staff, anything, that I did not plan on doing!

Talk comes easy…actions take work!

 

I have made statements to my colleagues…that subsequently took years to produce…but I followed through on those verbal declarations and delivered the promise that I had made.

A leader can not be everything to everyone!  It is better to be silent than to say something to someone that you do not mean!

Politicians make a plethora of promises…and they keep…few!

I do not mean President Trump…I mean all of them!

Hard questions and close monitoring of our presidential candidates should be observed to ensure that their rhetoric matches their campaign delivery!

 

I am proud that I stayed true to fallen chancellor Jo Ann Agersinger.  She was a fan of mine and she was a fan of blue collar staff at our university.  I admired her for her, real, dedication and her, valiant, attempt to deliver on her verbal promises!

When my minister tells me about the love of God…I want them to demonstrate that to me…when my supervisor or administrator tells me that I deserve a promotions…I want them to work toward the delivery of that, important, declaration…when my president tells me that he wants to make America Great Again…I want that covenant to include all Americans….of which I am a member!

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The Snake Oil Salesman understood that talk is cheap!  He understood that people are suckers for a good line….that everyone wants good health from a bottle!

When the salesman, assures, me that I am purchasing one thing….and I later find that what he said was a lie…and that I purchased a lesser product than what was described to me…then I am a skeptic!

When the boss tells me that I am in line for a raise and a promotion…and it does not occur…what was the reason for mis-leading me?

When the minister tells me that if I will do what he/she tells me…I will be wealthy….where can I find that in the Bible?

 

I fear that we have become a country of gullible and not well-read individuals.  Easy media…that does not require much thought…has captivated our minds!

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I have experienced charismatic persons who have a command of, captivating, rhetoric…obtaining, massive followings of people who are starry eyed and excited and motivated about  a lie!

I would liken it to a beautiful cake that has the most delicious icing on it and that is decorated in an immaculate manner…but when you cut into it…it is full of sawdust!

 

 

Our Local Christian Bookstore

I have been a fan of Bibles for 50 years!

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I collect Bibles…and I also read them…from time to time!

Our local Christian Bookstore, LifeWay, is closing, and I am sorry to see it happen.

I became a Christian in 1969 and my mother purchased a, large hardback study Bible, from Hart’s Department store in Harrisburg, Illinois.

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I was captivated with my, comprehensive, study Bible and I proudly carried it to church, every time the doors were open!  Yes, in those days…we all carried our Bibles to church.

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My Jewish hippie friend, Michael Toppel, made me a leather cover for my, humongous, Bible…and I have it on the book until this day.

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My, deceased friend and surrogate father, Jim Dunmyer, liked my comprehensive Bible so well…that I gave it to him…and his family returned it to me after his passing.

I had a friend in Des Moines, Iowa who knew that I was searching for an Oxford Bible…and he found me one!  I was so pleased and subsequently preached around 25 funeral messages from that, special, Bible.

I, fondly recall when the Amplified Bible first was printed.  I had to have one!  I throughly enjoyed the facility it gave in opening the scriptures of the Bible to fuller explanation.

I have been a King James Version man…for most of my life…and it is still my preferred translation.  However there is a greater understanding of God’s word with the aid of modern translations.

The Living Bible was hard for me to get accustomed to.  For years I thought that it’s modern language had taken something away from the meaning of the scripture.

My lifelong friend, Jeff Lestz, went to the LifeWay Christian Bookstore in Carterville when he visited us in the fall of 2013.  Jeff was in need of a new Bible and he had purchased his last one at the Baptist Bookstore, that had been the predecessor of Life Way, 40 years ago.

So, when we entered the store on a brisk October day in 2013 I inquired of one of the staff if they had a replacement Bible for my friend who had purchased his last Bible 40 years ago?  The eyes of the staff person became saucer shaped and she announced that they probably did not…but that she was certain that they had something similar.  I smiled as I thought that the person helping us…was far from 40 years old!

Jeff and I purchased matching Bibles…that October day!

I was awaiting the results of a medical test…a couple of Easter seasons ago…and I purchased a new Bible for both Aaron and Jonathon.  Just being around Bibles…brings me comfort!

And, so, I purchased a new Bible…today!  My Bible bookstore of 50 years…is going out of  business!

It was a different translation than the King Jame Version.  The cover is goat leather and indexed and silver edging!  It reminded me of my Cambridge Bible that I purchased 35 years ago…or more!

I have often said that I think in scripture!  I literally think of scriptures on a daily basis.  Scriptures come to my mind that aid me in difficult times.

In 1969…when I discovered the Bible…I was infatuated and mesmerized with it’s wisdom and counsel.

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As a eight grader and throughout high school…I read my Bible two or more hours each evening in our little, country kitchen, with the adjacent coal stove curling the pages of the book!

There are a lot of vagaries and doubts and confusions in this life…but the Bible makes sense out of, at times, a senseless world!

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Understanding The Sacrifice?

Mary Jane and I were talking this morning about the many civil service staff that work, countless hours, without pay…due to their dedication to producing an excellent work product and ensuring the success of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale!

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It would be a myth that civil service are; lazy or not inspired or out for what they can get from the University!

My last blog received positive input from my colleagues at SIUC…and it has caused me to think more about what the civil service staff community knows to be true…but what, perhaps is hidden from the Universities leaders?

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We were speaking of a clerical employee, many years ago, who was working many hours and not asking for either overtime or comp time.  She was working the additional hours to ensure that her work product was 100%…always!

When I was working for the University…it was not unusual for me to see not only my director arrive, at the beginning of the day…but also to be there when he concluded his day.  The same could be said for the Chancellor off the University.

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I have often thought that the University administration does not fully appreciate the life long dedication that the civil service staff has for their school.

I have a friend who works, many extra hours, joyfully in the pursuit of aiding SIUC to return to it’s former greatness!

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As the manager off the housekeeping department I, regularly, witnessed members of our staff working through their lunch time and their breaks…with no thought of recompense.

I, to this day, see Range employees, who are non-union, working to the late hours of the night and on weekends and who require only the knowledge that their job and efforts are well done and appreciated!

My assistant worked hours into the evening…and often I did not realize it until someone told me about her, supremely, dedicated efforts.

We Southern Illinoisans are, often, lifelong residents of the most picturesque part of the state!  SIUC is our University…and we guard her as the precious jewel that she is!

Over the past 40 years the University has experienced 16 chancellors…some were with us but a short time….and we have not faltered or flagged or failed in our efforts to keep the great ship of Southern Illinois University on course!

We do this without our opinion being sought or our efforts being recognized.  We do it because we love the institution!

During the past 20 years the enrollment of our, ‘Lady,’ has diminished….and we have taken on the task of an extra, unfilled civil service position…or two extra…or three extra…and not complained…because we understand the circumstances….

I walk the beautiful campus of SIUC…every day.  I see the dedicated Grounds Staff working…every day!  I have been complimented on the wonderful photos of the campus on numerous occasions!  The next time you appreciate the luxurious beauty of our campus or the cleanliness of our buildings….thank a Grounds worker or a member of the Building Service staff!

Imagine SIUC…without the civil service staff?