Monthly Archives: December, 2018

Advent

Advent began, Sunday, December the 2nd and will end on Monday, December 24th.

‘Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming.  The term is a version of the Latin word meaning ‘coming.’    Wikipedia

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And so a; suffering and divided human family awaits the birth of the baby, who was forced to be born in a manger…because there was no room for him in the Inn.

‘No one is really sure when Advent was first celebrated but it dates back to at least 567 when monks were ordered to fast during December leading up to Christmas.

I recall, vividly, our first Christmas Eve Service at First Presbyterian Church.  It began at 11:00 P:M:.  Our pastor, in 1998, had a bit of old world panache and a helping of Dickensian aura, about him.

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I had always been a lover of all things Christmas…but I had never experienced the emotionally moving celebration of the birth of Jesus…on Christmas Eve.

The service concluded with the singing of Silent Night…by candlelight.

As we exited the sanctuary and wished each other a Merry Christmas…it felt like Christmas…in my heart…in a profound way!

As the years have flown by…we have made it a practice to attend the Christmas Eve Service…whenever possible.

I remember Pastor Janice asking Jonathon to participate in the candel lighting ceremony…and how she put her arm around him…and he could not refuse.

One advent, I was asked to participate with the choir…as a reader of Christmas related passages.  I had a bad knee, that was hurting terribly, but I soldiered on, and it was one of my most memorable advents!

Our afflicted world cries out for the birth of the Prince of Peace.

‘For a child will be born to us, as son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on his shoulders;

And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.’    Isaiah 9:6

I wrote in my last blog; but I must say again…that the kindness of our fellow congregants as Mary Jane is recuperating…and their, demonstrated concern, is unparalled in my religious life…that has reached 50 years!

When we tell people about the birth of Jesus…let us demostrate…by our deeds…what the baby born in a manger…means to us.

 

The Remedy of Joy

Please enjoy a great, holiday blog, by my son, Jonathon. 🎅🏻🎄

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Love is the most appropriate word for how I feel about Christmastime. I’m in love with the cards and the parties and the candlelight Christmas Eve service and the days off of work and, honestly, the entire season. December twenty-fifth doesn’t excite me as much as the twenty-four days leading up to it, but I enjoy it as well.

Some people become depressed around this time of year. As a man who has manic depression I sympathize and have empathy. This world’s darkness is all too real. However, what is that old, inspirational quote? “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” Be that candle this season for someone else. Shine through kindness and love. Joy is the ultimate remedy for melancholy and depression.

The reason I love this season so passionately is because I live it the other eleven months of the year…

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Small Blessings

My wife had back surgery, Tuesday.  She came through, good…and we are grateful!

Illness…changes your life…and illness is an integral component of life.

I passed two at the Herrin Hospital, women of the housekeeping staff, this morning, on my way to retrieve Mary Jane’s charger cord for her I Phone.  I could not help but here one of the ladies speaking to the other about her difficulty in purchasing toys for her autistic son.

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In our, good times, when we, as far as we know, do not have a major health situation that we are dealing with…we tend to be rather blasé regarding our…temporary reprieve!

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We are mortals…we are all made out of the same, corporal, substance.

So much of life is Ordinary Time.  It is not dramatic nor stressful nor, extremely, joyous.  During this Ordinary Time…we tend to become disconsolate or bored…or unappreciative of our…peaceful and regular lives.

I know that I want to pay more attention to people who are suffering.  Many members of our congregation, at First Presbyterian, have brought us food and checked on Mary Jane on a daily basis…and I have never felt more a member of this wonderful church!

When you have health concerns or life stressors…you feel alone and, often, unloved. There is nothing, more special, than an email or a call or an offer of assistance…to let you know that people care about you…and their, demonstrated concern, sticks with you…long after the challenge that you faced…has passed.

Aaron, Jonathon, and I, purchased a, little lantern filled with water and silver snow flakes and a cardinal sitting on a tree branch, that can be lit up and the silver snow flakes fly, and it created peace and assurance and love…for Mary Jane and our family.

Ron and Ira Kaye came to sit with us and brought a, little, Christmas Tree.  Their visit was so welcome.

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‘Time passes all to quickly, my dear. ‘

Former President, George H. W. Bush, passed away at the age of 94…and if you were afforded the opportunity to ask him…he would have told you that his life went by quickly.

We become immeshed in the cares of life and the struggle to exist, financially, and the challenges of raising a family.  We want to climb the corporate ladder…and we desire to leave our mark in the world.

It is possible to be so engrossed in making a life…that we neglect the life that we are making.

Someone is facing a health challenge and perhaps a health crisis.

Someone has an autistic child…an they are trying to give that child a good Christmas.

Someone is lonely…and a simple call or visit…would mean the world to them.

Someone is a caregiver…and a word of encouragement or, just a little assistance, would bring tears of joy to their tired eyes.

Life is a book that has multiple chapters.  Many of the chapters require, of the participant, a, dramatic, change in lifestyle and goals and a re-discovery of one’s place in the world.

The happiest humans are those that adapt to the changes that life brings and hold on tight to the, rollercoaster of life, and they enjoy the hills and valleys and curves and the, breathtaking, hodgepodge of the human condition!

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Morale and Leadership

We have lost a great, former, President.  George H.W. Bush was a leader of ultimate class and dignity.  I remember watching his first press conference, after he was inaugurated, and being impressed that our country had a humble and strong leader.

It has been said that when, young, George would come home from school and announce to his mother what he had accomplished in a sporting event…his mother would reply, ‘that was good, but what did the team do.’

When I began, in supervision and then in management, at SIUC…I experienced members of my staff that were complimentary of my efforts and, often several, people who were critical.  The compliments were welcome…the criticisms…stung.

I, subsequently, set out to discover why, good, staff members were critical.  I spoke with them, at length, and investigated their concerns.  I wanted to, know, these valuable professionals and seek what I had been missing that caused them to feel left out or not heard or not a part of the organization that I managed.

Jody, a member of my leadership staff, told my wife that, if she did not know, she would not have been able to distinguish who were my friends and who were my enemies.  She mused that, perhaps, I treated my enemies better than my friends?

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Upon investigation of staff members who were critical I found a plethora of reasons for their unhappiness…and many of them could be fixed by such efforts as; better support, a clearer understanding of their area of responsibility, poor supervision or management, and a failure to, properly, recognize their achievements.

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I have also discovered, challenges at home or in the employees personal life and health, that, shadowed, their work experience.

I had not been a manager long…when one of our fine staff, who had suffered from health issues for some time, committed suicide.  From that day…until now…my management style became much more considerate and I became available for anyone who needed to speak with me…for however long that they needed to speak with me.

Some of my most vehement critics…became my greatest friends and supporters.

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A minister friend once said, ‘to hold power and leadership… with a loose grasp…as we are but stewards of delegated authority…and soon it will be someone else’s turn to lead!’

I have known some tremendous team leaders!

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Former Chancellor of SIUC, Dr. Don Beggs, was a leader who brought the campus together.  He and his wife, Shirley, had the unique ability to make each person, that they encountered, feel that they were vital to the university community and that they were family.

Former Chancellor Jo Ann Argersinger was as adept at ‘drawing people in’ as any leader that I have witnessed.  Dr. Argersinger, dropped, the academic community requirements, of referring to her as doctor or professor or chancellor and welcomed the campus community to call her Jo Ann.  She took time to walk into the yards where the Grounds staff were cutting grass and introduce herself and shake the person’ s hand, who was mowing, and inquire about what they thought about the campus.

Former Physical Plant Director, Duane Schroder, had an open door policy and he invited visitors to some popcorn and colloquial conversation that, simply, telegraphed to the recipient…that they were valued by him.

My friend, former President of Southern Illinois University, Glenn Poshard…was a master at remembering everyone’s name and something about the person…and eliciting your help in the success of SIU!

My friend, Brad Dillard, has a great ability to lead, extremely loyal teams!  I spoke with my friend, yesterday, at Kroger’s supermarket.  Brad always greets me with a warm smile and handshake and I leave our encounters feeling that he was, genuinely, happy to see me.  He was a great supporter of mine when I was working at SIUC…and I have always admired his enthusiasm for our school and his energy to find, workable solutions, in a, financially, cut-back environment.

If there is a problem or a need at SIUC…it is the continued need…for leaders…to bring everyone in to the family…and recognize the place…that their abilities demonstrate!