Friday, March 27, 2015

Three Thoughts

This week's message is short and sweet.  I wanted to leave you with three thoughts that are not my own, but I like the sentiment expressed in them.  These are things that perhaps we might think about, but not really consider closely. 

They are:

"Everyone makes mistakes in life, but that doesn't mean they have to pay for them the rest of their life.  Sometimes good people make bad choices.  It doesn't mean they are bad.  It means they are human."  Unknown (at least to me)

"Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can,
At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can."  John Wesley

"Always end the day with a positive thought.  No matter how hard things were, tomorrow's a fresh opportunity to make it better."  Unknown (at least to me)

I think these three statements are related in that if we make mistakes, and we all do, if we recognize this, we can still "do good" by any and all means possible to help those who have made mistakes and who have fallen, and to remind them that they, like we, are human.

And if we remember that each day brings a new morning, we can begin again.  We can start over and do better.  All of us has this opportunity open to us.  Let's take advantage of it instead of just pushing play-repeat-play over and over again.  Each of us gets a "do over" and we need to allow others to receive a "do over" also.  It isn't a luxury for just a few.   Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives, is now available on Amazon.  It carries the reader forward from the prequel, Taking Lives, and book one of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives.  All three can be found on Amazon.

The publicity blurb I use for Shattered Lives is as follows:
Everyone thought the boys were safe, and they were. That is, until people began dying. Some of the men responsible for the boys’ captivity escaped and without any leads, the FBI can only wait. A dangerous strategy when it involves the lives of the kids and their parents. Continue the journey that began with the prequel, Taking Lives, and book one of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives, with book two, Shattered Lives.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Letter To Me

In October of 2007, Brad Paisley wrote a song titled, “Letter To Me” and it became one of his many hits.  As typical of Paisley, his lyrics are at times poignant and at other times comical; at times sentimental and at other times a warning, mostly encouraging. 

He wrote this letter (song) to his seventeen year old self, an interesting time in adolescence when kids wrestle with who they are or who they might be, and who they might become.  It is a time when there are golden dreams and harsh realities, when sometimes a gentle hand is followed by a not so gentle smack on a butt, because it seems that both are needed every now and then: a gentle hand to let them know we care about them and love them, and a smack on the butt to, well, let them know we care about them and love them.  Personally, I prefer the gentle touch over a smack anytime.

During one of our recent snow days when school was closed, I watched Good Morning America and on it was a very nice segment that dealt with a before and now with the hosts of the show.  A picture of a time long ago appeared next to a picture of near present day, and the host talked about what they might tell their younger self if they had the opportunity. 

Robin Roberts counseled her younger self not to take herself so seriously, that things would turn out in the end, and to be patient with herself, that we aren’t made to be perfect, because mistakes will happen, do happen.  George Stephanopoulos advised everyone that the bumblebee striped Rugby shirt he wore in his younger self picture is now out of style, which drew a laugh from his co-hosts, and he went on to advise his younger self that what seems important at that time might not be so important now, and to make sure to take the time to smile and laugh more.

Letter To Me.

Even though it has been about two weeks since that GMA segment, it made me think.  Probably even more since I heard Paisley’s song a couple of times since that segment.

What would I say to myself should I be given the opportunity to write a Letter To Me?

Hmmm . . .

I think I might begin by telling myself to enjoy my hair while I have it, because it will become much less and change from the dark brown to gray- that is, the little amount of hair I actually end up with.  I might tell myself to enjoy and take care of the body I had then, because it becomes all too easy to reach for the second (or third or fourth) cookie, and to sit more than it is probably good for me to do.

But more importantly, I would tell myself to watch my dad more often, to listen to him more often- though he really wasn’t given to too many words.  I would tell myself to be more patient with my mom because she did the very best she could, given her life and her circumstances. 

I would tell myself that those who are near and dear to me will one day leave: some because they might take a different path, some because they might not have the need to have me in their life anymore, and some because they pass away.  Too many pass away.  So, appreciate them while they are in your life at that moment, in that time, and never ever be afraid to express that appreciation with words or actions.

Like George, I would tell myself to smile and laugh more.  Like Robin, I would tell myself to be patient because mistakes do and will happen, sometimes at inconvenient and inopportune times.  But I would also tell myself to never be afraid of mistakes because it means that I’m trying, that I’m doing, and that I’m actively involved in life rather than being just a passive spectator.

Like Paisley, I’d tell myself that, the girl I thought I loved is nothing, absolutely nothing, because I will end up marrying my best friend, and that I will have three wonderful children with her.  Like Paisley, I’d tell myself that, “You've got so much up ahead; You'll make new friends; You should see your kids and wife, And I'd end by saying have no fear, These are nowhere near the best years of your life . . . And oh you got so much going for you going right; But I know at 17 it's hard to see past Friday night . . . I wish you wouldn't worry, let it be; I'd say have a little faith and you'll see; If I could write a letter to me; To me.”  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
Great News!  Shattered Lives, the second book of the Lives Trilogy, will be available on Amazon in eBook form on Friday, March 20, and in paperback shortly thereafter.  It continues the storyline and journey that began with the prequel, Taking Lives, and with the first book of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives. 

If you are interested in taking this journey with me, you can find Taking Lives at


Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Life Will End

What is it that you truly fear? 


What is it that makes the small hair on the back of your neck stand at attention, gives you goose bumps, causes you to shiver at the very thought of it? 


What is it that paralyzes you to inaction?  What is it that drops you to your knees and makes you want to disappear?


We, each of us, make decisions each day.  Sometimes the decision is great, but most of the time, the decisions are small.  Most of these decisions are not life changing or life altering in any way.  They are simple decisions such as the choice to eat this or that.  Perhaps it might be the choice to drive this way or that way to work.  As I said, these are not very big decisions and most of the time, we make them without much thought, never thinking or worrying about the consequences.


As a principal in charge of a high school community of approximately 1900 students and staff, I’m charged with making decisions, both big and small, and these decisions affect folks.  In the face of a great or big decision, the thought of making a wrong or poor decision is worrisome, but it doesn’t necessarily cause me fear.  I strive . . . aim . . . to do the right thing.  I gather input from many.  I listen to their ideas and suggestions.  Ultimately, I make a decision by looking at the big picture and taking into the consideration the best interests of everyone.  And in the end, not everyone agrees with me necessarily, but it is a decision I make and I own it, along with the consequences of that decision.


Legend has it that during the Tet Offensive in 1968 during the Vietnam War, General William Westmoreland had his senior officers write their own obituaries.  If this legend is correct, I’m not sure what the reason Westmoreland had for doing this, but as I reflect on this, I believe that one could surmise that once these officers clued in on the fact that their lives might end . . . indeed at some point will end . . . the fear of the consequences of their decisions somehow became less.    


As a dad, the thought of one of my kids getting hurt, or worse, is perhaps my greatest fear, along with the fear of something happening to my wife, Kim.  Unfortunately, that fear came to an ugly realization when my son was murdered this past July.  His death still hurts, still haunts.  It affects me each day, sometimes at various moments of the day, and I know it affects my wife and two daughters, just as I know it affects others whose lives he touched in one way or another. 


On that sunny afternoon, the decision was made by another human being that had drastic and dire consequences that had never, ever entered my mind.  But yet, the decision made by another individual cost my son his life, and it cost my family greatly.  I had no control over that decision.  My son didn’t have control over the decision that ended his own life at that moment.  For me . . . for my family and for others . . . on that sunny afternoon in July, my worst fear was realized.


Fear is real.  It is an ugly emotion.  It can paralyze.  It can stunt growth.  Fear robs you of joy and happiness.  Fear takes you away from living in the moment and causes you to live in the shadow of “if” and “perhaps.”  That is an ugly place to live, if one can even call it living.


But if we come to realize that a job will eventually end, the decisions one makes in that job become less fearful.  Instead of fearing the outcome of the decision, we can accept the consequences of the decision if we know deep down in the valleys and recesses of our heart and soul that we did the best we could, made the very best decision we could at that time.


And like the officers under General Westmoreland, if we realize that our life will someday end, we then have permission . . . the duty . . . to live our life in the very best way possible, doing for others instead of doing just for ourselves.  We can extend a hand and lift others up.  We can encourage and help, rather than discourage and erect barriers.


We can do this because our jobs, like our lives, will one day end.  And when we realize this, we are then given a choice to live in fear or to proceed as best we can, with whatever resources we have at hand to make our life, and the lives of others, better.  Something to think about . . .


Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!


To My Readers:

The second book of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives, will become available on Amazon.  It carries the story forward that began with the prequel, Taking Lives, and forward from the first book of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives.  You can find the first two books on Amazon at: