What Is Lost

A lot of people I know have experienced great loss in recent days.  Some lost someone that lived a full an long life and others a child that has yet to breathe air into their lungs.

I lost someone earlier this year.

It would be easy to concentrate on the loss, to spend days grieving what is now gone or to imagine what life would be life without losing.

But, I find that in almost every case, the loss is outweighed by what we gained when that person was with us.  Maybe, I should measure people more by what they gave than what was taken away when they left this life.

As I sit here now, I can think back about my grandpas.  I can wonder what it would be like if my grandson could crawl up their laps and experience the entertainment each of them could give in their own unique way.

I believe I could begin to shed tears right now, thinking about what can never be, even though they left earth forty years ago.

Still, they both live on in me.  I’m not just like either of them but I’m a lot like both of them.  That’s because they gave me more than was taken away from me.

Oh, I could still deny that fact and pretend that they don’t influence me every single day, cry and lament loss so much that I don’t realize my gain.  But I have been forever changed by them.

We have all been forever changed by all of our loss.

It is so easy to turn my back on the riches of a good friend, a family member or someone I respect in order to wish upon a star for what might have been.

I just feel that today, I look back on the blessings in my life who I can no longer walk up to and say, “Good morning” to and hear them say the same to me.  They are all here, not like ghosts haunting my life, but as memories and experience that have shaped me into who I am.

I remember when my friend, George, died a few years ago.  I was wanting to be George because I figured he was better than me.  Of course, I could never be George.  Only George could do that.  He was an amazing man.

But, I am a different Mike.  George did a great job of instilling bits of himself in people all over the place.  I’ll never be George but he changed Mike.

There was great loss when he left but I gained a lot while he was here.

I have no idea why I wandered off this way today.  Maybe I’m just touched by the loss all around today and want to encourage people to look past the loss.

Life means a great deal.  Even that little baby that was born still has left something behind on this planet.

I only have so many breaths to take before I am someone’s loss.  I need to be sure to leave a lot behind.

 

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How Will I Treat Jesus Today?

Feel like I should re-post this today.

New Hope for Dry Bones

Today I feel like I need to look at how I rate people.  I don’t look around and say, “That guy is a nine!” or “That kid is a three”.

I like to think I treat everyone the same.

As usual, what I like to think and what I do think are two different things.

There are people that I think are better than me.  They speak better, they look better, they are in better shape, they have a better house or a better job.  They are just better.

There are people that are better than me at some things but are more my equal.

There are people that I think I am better than.

I don’t like to think that I feel this way but I really do.  Now, there was a time not too long ago that I felt like everyone was better than me and I felt…

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Help the Donkey

The first time we took our son to a baseball game he was not even a year old.  We dressed him in a Cardinal uniform and took him into the always packed Busch Stadium.  It was the original Busch Stadium where so much Cardinal baseball history happened.  I don’t remember who the Redbirds played that day or even if they won.

I just remember watching Joe take it all in for the first time.  There was Fredbird and cheers and chants, vendors selling hotdogs and beer, the constant noise of the fans and lot and lots of red.  Cardinal fans love their red!  Our son didn’t really talk yet but he did participate in the noise of the crowd.  He cheered a lot but I have to say his favorite part was booing for the other team and the umpires.  At the first hint of booing from anywhere within earshot he began making that familiar sound to sports enthusiasts everywhere.  Booooooo!

It is such a natural thing for humans to express their displeasure with things.  I spent nearly half a century booing the world.  I booed this president and that president.  I booed my parents, I booed my church, I booed my co-workers.  I focused most of my energy on what everyone else was doing wrong or at least what I felt they were doing wrong and led the chorus of boos on their efforts.  I became that obnoxious fan at the ball game.  You know, that fat guy that never played a sport, the guy that never gets out of a chair and couldn’t run around the living room without passing out, the one that blows cigar smoke in your face and coughs on your neck.  He is the one that points out everything everyone on the field is doing wrong.  He never cheers; he only sees the negative and the mistakes.  He not only sees them but he goes on and on about every transgression.  He could write a book about Stan Musial and never mention one single good thing Stan the Man ever did.

I was that guy everywhere I went.  I criticized everything that went on around me.  I criticized everyone that tried to do anything.  I lost the ability to cheer.  Booing was my specialty and it was the one thing I was good at.  But I had no skills anymore.  I had lost them all while I sat and watched everyone else live life.  I booed everyone else even though they were doing things I couldn’t even begin to do.  Being that negative guy is easy.  No one does anything perfectly.  Getting something done is what counts.  It doesn’t have to be pretty and it definitely doesn’t have to get done my way.  I fell into the trap of pointing out the bad in good things.  This trap is a pit and it is easier just to sit in it and keep booing than it is to climb out and become a part of what is going on around me.  To get out of that trap I have to learn to cheer.

Don’t use foul or abusive language.
Let everything you say be good and helpful,
so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Ephesians 4:29

How could I claim to be a Christian and feel that I was justified saying so many things that were not good and helpful?  I had become an expert at finding what was wrong with everything.  I felt I had to let everyone know.  What if God wanted me to see what was wrong and get up out of my chair and help make it right?  Wow!  I would sure be busy.

If you see that your neighbor’s donkey or ox has collapsed on the road,
do not look the other way.
Go and help your neighbor get it back on its feet!
Deuteronomy 22:4

First of all, this does not only mean donkeys or oxen qualify my neighbor for help.  Next, God doesn’t expect me to boo the donkey for falling down and my neighbor for not getting to his destination on time.  I am called to action not criticism.

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin,
you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.
And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:1&2

Helping someone back on the right path is a lot harder than helping a fallen donkey.  It is really easy to sit back and talk about how far from God someone has gotten.  That is no help to them at all.  God is clearly not calling me to do the easy thing here.  I have to be gentle and humble, not a couple of my strong points.  God expects me to change.  I have to do it if I want to get back into the game.  Sharing burdens sounds like work.  Running my mouth burns zero calories.  I have to remember that if I am speaking of what others are doing wrong that I am probably not helping them back onto the right path.  They need to hear me cheer.  Boos will make them want to give up.

If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself.
You are not that important.
Galatians 6:3

I don’t know why but I just love the way that verse reads.  I am not that important.  Today I must shut up and help those that need it.

God, make my mind focus on the good and when I see wrong give me wisdom and courage to help.  Make my words please you and be encouragement to others.  Amen.

A Blessed Migraine

It has been a rough week or so.  My migraines are back with a vengeance.  Just about the time I thought I was free from the headaches on steroids, they return bulked up and strong bearing an attitude which exudes utter hate and a desire to completely destroy anything in or around my skull.

It is so bad, at times, I wish I could just throw in the towel but all that gets me is one less towel.  The headache remains despite the fact that I resign myself to let the headache run its course.

It feels like running its course is trampling my gray matter into gray mush.

So, if some of my recent writing has been somewhat disconnected or even non-existent, this is the reason why.

I’m continuing to do my best.

I had to leave work early yesterday in an attempt to get some relief before I had to pick up my grandson.  I had babysitting duties last night.

I was almost sure that at some point during the evening, I just wouldn’t be able to watch him and the dog and keep them both out of mischief.  Either one of them, the dog or the boy, are a handful on their own, but the two of them together is a conspiracy theory in the making full of espionage and distraction in order to accomplish some hidden goal that has something to do with making me feel like pouring the dog treats on the floor and handing my grandson a half-gallon of ice cream and letting them both have at it.

Yeah, as I picked Oakley up from preschool, there was a tinge of dread about what the evening would bring to my mushy, pain-soaked brain.

So, I get home, get O a snack and some milk, walk the dog, sit down inside in “my spot” and proceed to have the most peaceful evening of the year.  There was no mess, no excess of toys spilled all over the floor, no spilled milk, the dog was mellow and seemed to just enjoy having a kid crawl all over him.

I sat while my head pounded and was just thankful.

All day I had cursed this headache but last night, in the middle of it all, I was thankful.

I’ve got no big message today.  I’m just hanging in there waiting for this storm inside my skull to pass.  These kind of storms has stolen things from me in the past, peace, joy, and all sorts of other things I take for granted.  Last night, I was able to have those things in the midst of the storm.  I’m not sure what that means.  Maybe, I am growing up.  Maybe, God just decided to give me a break.  Maybe, I’m learning to see things that have been there all the time but I have been so self-centered all I could see was the headache.

The pain is a little better today.  I don’t know, at this point, if it will be back shortly or if it has retreated for a while.  I do know that whatever it decides to do, I need to still be able to see the good around me, even if my eyes hurt taking it all in.  That’s not easy but last night showed it is possible.

 

 

Godzilla

I used to love to watch Godzilla movies.   A giant monster would come out of the sea and wander around through a town designed for people a fraction of his size.  He would stomp on cars and get tangled in power lines.  Buildings would topple and towers would collapse.  Everywhere he went he would leave a path of devastation behind.  He would strike terror into people that would shout with voices that didn’t match their faces and words that didn’t correspond to what their lips were saying.  I have a feeling that dubbing the English versions of the movies was done as cheaply as possible with most of the movies’ small budgets spent on miniature versions of Tokyo and the costume that some sweaty Japanese actor wore as he destroyed those miniature versions of Tokyo.

To top things off, Godzilla would stand in the midst of the rubble he created and shoot fire or some death ray out of his mouth to knock fighter planes from the sky or decimate whatever weapons the Japanese could muster to mount some sort of defense.  Godzilla was oblivious to their efforts.  He was an enormous, deadly beast of mass destruction and fortunately for us, he seemed to enjoy Japan much more than other locations like here in St Louis.  Maybe he heard the rumors of Mo-Mo the Monster and steered clear of his jurisdiction.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.

My ego has been the size of Godzilla.  I have walked into rooms and stepped on everything anyone would say.  I would move from one person to the next crushing their self-esteem and belittling their accomplishments by dwarfing them next to my own.  When people saw me coming they must have wanted to run because nothing good was going to come from my appearance.  I had to be the limelight and be the center of attention.  I was oblivious to the damage left in my wake as long as I was larger than life in their eyes…er, my eyes.  I did everything I could to make myself bigger.  I became so big that I could almost no longer function in this world created for mere mortals.  When someone would stand up against me and mount a defense I would shoot them down with the death ray from my mouth.  I would engage a barrage of words that would stifle them and back them down in silence.  I could breathe fire.

If someone would have told me I was behaving this way, I would have denied it.  I was unaware of the monster I had become.  I was only aware of the things I needed for me, well, the things I wanted for me.

Proverbs 29:23 Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.

So I am setting out to make myself smaller.  Yeah, I still talk too much and still get boastful.  It is a hard habit to break.  I still say some things that should be left unsaid.  It is going to take some time to become non-threatening and gentle.  I’ve spent a lifetime developing my skills of exaggerating my self-worth and minimizing the value of others.  I have experienced humiliations far too many times, though, and it is past time for me to become the incredible shrinking man and experience the humility that God wants in me.

Matthew 23:12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Psalm 25:9 He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way.

Humility will keep me out of trouble.  Almost every mistake in my life that has led to any serious consequences could have been avoided if I would have been able to exercise humility.  It is the Godzilla in me that has brought on most of my problems.  Humiliation is painful.  It comes when I can no longer live up to the prideful expectations I have of myself.  It comes when I act selfishly and crash and burn.  It swallows me up like the giant fish swallowed Jonah and carries me around in its belly until it sees fit to puke me up in the sand somewhere I don’t want to be.

Humility leads me the right way.  Humility brings honor.  I have to make what I want for myself come behind what God wants for me and what is right.  Selfishness brings things into my life that causes sin.  I have to seek out the things that are wrong in my life, clean it up and toss it away.

James 1:21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

God, make me small.  Take away my pride.  Cleanse me of filth and evil and plant your Word inside my heart.  Let humility crush the selfishness that dwells in me.  Lead me to do right.  Amen.

 

 

Change in the Air

Here in the dark before the dawn, it is hard to see what today will bring.  There is a slight chill in the air that only comes before fall arrives and a clear sky above me.

Change is creeping in upon us and the thermometer isn’t quite getting the workout it was getting just a couple weeks ago.

I love the signals that summer is ending and fall is gearing up.  Soon, the salmon will be leaving the Great Lakes to make their way up the rivers, the brown trout will be on the redds and I’ll be making my way, dressed in warm clothing instead of short pants and short sleeves, into the chilly waters to attempt to drag something huge from the depths.

I’m so ready for change when it comes to the weather.  Just about the time I am sick of summer, fall happens.  However, it seems that when I am sick of winter, more winter happens.  I’m glad I’ve learned to spend more time outside in the winter, cleaning ice from my fishing rod and trying to land a nice trout, instead of sitting inside letting seasonal depression gnaw on me like the dog steadily tries to turn his toy into tiny bits of rubber.

This morning, colder air smacked me in the face.  It was like hope of good things to come, like they try to make you think after shave does when you slap some on your mug in the commercials.  But this is far better than Aqua Velva or Old Spice.

This is something I can tangibly feel as I walk out the door.  It will dissipate as the day wears on and it is lost in the heat of the day but that reminder that things are going to change is there because it was real and I took the time to recognize it while I waited for the windshield wipers to clear away the dew this morning.

I think I spend too much time thinking everything is going to stay the way it is forever, like the heat is here to stay.  I think my struggles are eternal, my pain is everlasting and my failure is doomed to repeat itself over and over.

But change is in the air.

Isaiah 43:18 “But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

This season of change is not going to be like the last one or the one before that.  Despite everything that I sometimes feel and think to the contrary, God has been doing something new.  Take the version of me that I am sometimes so dissatisfied with today and plop him down in the mess of my past and the story is completely different because I am something new.

I can see that I need to stop in the morning, take a moment and allow myself to recognize the change that is in the air before the busyness of the day and the cacophony of life makes me forget there is something better to come.

Nothing that makes up today is permanent.  Even the most devastating circumstance is only a drop in the bucket of eternity.  Everything will change as God’s creation groans its way through another day until it is made perfect.

Some days, I just do not see it.  Perhaps most days I don’t.  But today I see a glimpse of something better just around the corner.  Desperation, discouragement and disillusionment can all take a back seat because hope is riding shotgun today.

 

Beneath the Slag

I remember dad welding something together for me.  He put the helmet on, struck an arc and skillfully did his magical waving a piece of welding rod around amidst the bright light the welder produced.

Before I knew it, he was done.  He showed me the weld.  It looked awful.  I thought, “This is what welding is supposed to look like?”

Then he took out the hammer and began to smack that weld.  Brittle metallic stuff flew off in every directions and suddenly, as that slag broke free, the artistic skill of joining metal to metal was visible.

My dad was great at it.  Me, not so much.  Welding seems to have skipped a generation since my son is also a skilled welder.

That slag is the result of flux.  Flux is added to the weld in order to make the whole process work better.  After it does its job it floats to the top of the molten metal and forms a layer called slag.  Slag can also be a part of the refining process during the refining of metals.

This may not interest you at all but, yesterday I started thinking, “Why didn’t God just create perfect people in the first place?”

I mean, why create people destined to fail and do things in such a backwards way most of the time?

Well, in fact, he did create perfection.  We aren’t perfect, no.  But we are the raw materials needed for what was intended.

God wants a relationship for us.  This relationship has to be forged through our realization of our need for him, our desire to learn about him and our ability to trust in him.

There is a lot of welding to be done.

Sometimes I look back at was has happened in my life and see nothing but slag.  Then some tough times come along like a hammer and knock me half silly but the view backward no longer shows the remains of a molten mess.  It shows me the artistic ability of God to blaze a relationship between him and I that cannot be broken.

Sometimes I question why God adds or allows things that seem to be impurities and weakness to my life if he is building something strong but that is just the flux that makes it all come together.  One day it will break away, just like slag, to reveal amazing work God has done beneath it.

Isaiah 1:25 I will raise my fist against you.
I will melt you down and skim off your slag.
I will remove all your impurities.

This pain of melting and transforming is not a punishment, it is a finishing, a bringing of raw materials to their future glory.

I’ve stopped with the “Why me?” whining.  I can see that from the pain, the losing of myself to be bonded with something greater, the seeming chaos of the fire and smoke of seeming destruction, the reality that something better than me is emerging from the slag.

 

Put Me In, Coach

There is a young player on the Cardinal baseball team that I love to watch play.  It is always exciting when a young guy breaks into the majors and becomes something special.  He is such a player.

I’ve had the privilege of watching Albert Pujols go from virtual unknown to legendary player and leader, Willie McGee go from a kid to a man in the game and many other of my favorites develop from raw to polished.

Sadly, I have seen more enter the Majors with brilliant futures only to be swept into the sea of what might have been and potential unrealized.

The current young guy, Harrison Bader, holds a lot of hope, not because of his raw talent and athletic ability or his speed and knack for doing just the right thing at the right time, but, because he is allow himself to be coached.

When he makes a good play, he is over with the coaches talking.  When he makes a mistake, he is over by the coaches talking.  He spends a lot of time with his coaches.

Why?  He sees the value in learning.

I recall when I burst (or sauntered) onto the scene of Christianity.  My success was marred by failures.  It isn’t unreasonable for a guy to experience failure.  But, being the hard-headed self-righteous doofus I tend to be, I avoided the coach.  I’d wander off by myself and pout or throw things or just be a regular old jerk.

I liked to say that I learned from the school of hard knocks.

The problem with that is what I learned was how to get knocked around and sometimes keep standing.  It was a shame because I had a coach that I chose to ignore trying to help me to learn a better way rather than how to endure the bad way.

I was no hot prospect.  I wasn’t even a chilly bench-warmer.  I lived life on the DL, a permanent resident of the disabled list.

Even worse, my injuries weren’t usually due to collisions on the field from hustling too much, they were from bad fundamentals and improper conditioning.

Now that I am old and a lot of the things that a younger man has available have evaporated into the atmosphere, I can see clearly that I blew a lot of opportunity.

But, like Willie McGee, I am a seasoned old veteran that has a lot to offer.  My gray beard is a sign of a man that knows a thing or two about what not to do.  I can see what ought to have been and with a nearly eerie accuracy see the warning signs of things to come for a youngster walking out onto the field.

You know, I tried real hard to make my own way and do my own thing, yet here I am, somehow, right where God intended for me to be.

I’m not getting the big hits, running the bases or scoring the runs.  But I am valuable to those that wish to be coached and see the value of learning.

I guess all this just goes to show that no matter who you are, where you are in life, how insignificant your experience seems, there is value in where you have been and where you are going.  Just don’t take any longer than you have to in order to realize that the value isn’t about your own stats in life.  It is in what you can do for the team.

Who We Are

You know, I was reading some of the ramblings of other writers last week and a lot of Christians are not happy with how God does things.  It seems to me that once we turn our lives over to God’s kingdom, we’d like to screw it all up just like the day God placed people in Eden.

I know I am that way some days.  I pronounce judgment on this and that and while I may not say, “God!  YOU really botched it up this time!”, I am passing judgment on how God is getting things done.

This is why the bible is so valuable to me.  It shows how people goof up the planet.  All the way from Adam and Eve to the apocalyptic book of Revelation, it is chock full of mistakes that people tend to make even in these very “enlightened” days.

It is really easy to get so self-important and place so much emphasis on what I get while I live here on good old planet earth, I can get mad at God because this life isn’t heaven already.

Well, what good is heaven if we can’t tell when we get there?  I mean, if God ran this place like heaven, why have a heaven?

This planet is what we have made it.  We took God’s plan and defiled it.  Every single one of us has so don’t go acting like your poop don’t stink.  We’ve all thumbed our nose at the creator and for some reason he doesn’t just destroy us all and start all over admitting his mistake of making a bunch of selfish babies that can’t get past the temper tantrum stage of maturing.

Nope!  He sees more than we can see.  He sees a perfect end to an imperfect process.  None of us have that sight.  We usually only see till about bedtime and then we lay awake worrying God can’t handle tomorrow.

But God has done more than we give him credit for.  The most important thing about this life right here, is that we begin a relationship with God and learn to turn our lives and will over to him.  Because there is coming a day when the mystery is all revealed and the shock to our systems may take about half of eternity to recover from.

Ephesians 1:3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

God has done all this for us but we demand more.  I’m often lost in what my brain tells me is important, what is vital, what is moral, but God is providing all that is just and right and good.

This life here, this struggle, with all of its inequities and chaos, is not the end, is not what it seems most of the time.  It is a mystery slowly being revealed to a bunch of hard-headed numbskulls who seem to have great difficulty realizing who we are.

We are God’s and we are blessed.  We bring him great pleasure in the midst of our imperfection.  We are his children, paid for by the blood of righteousness and covered in his grace.

Pass the Coffee

Those first sips of coffee in the morning are a great and terrible thing. The taste first hits the tongue hidden in the heat of the coffee. It is magnificent as it makes itself known to me but it teases me because I can just have tiny bit before I begin to scald my mouth with it.

The first sips never satisfy. They just get me started on the best cup of coffee of the day, the one that helps me pry my eyes open and clears the fog of sleep out of my brain.

As the coffee in the cup cools, I can fill my mouth with more and more of the yummy goodness that starts my day.

That is when it is best, when it is just cool enough that I can take a decent amount from the cup to my palate without burning. The taste is bright and clear as it makes its way to my belly.

People that don’t like coffee don’t understand. People that don’t love coffee don’t get it. Coffee isn’t for everyone even though I am a little leery of those that don’t enjoy it. My wife doesn’t like it but after over thirty years, I suppose I can stop being leery of her. She still doesn’t understand me and my coffee.

I like for my bible study in the morning to be like my coffee. I expect it to be great and terrible. I want to sit down and read something that fills me with awe the more I ponder it. I want it to add a wonderful flavor to my day. I want it to awaken me to things I may not know and clear the fog out of my life.

I also want it to strike a little fear into my life. I want to be challenged to do something that scares me half to death. I don’t want it to kill or burn me but I want to find something that I am afraid to take in all at once for fear that it is just too much, too hot, too demanding.

I want it to seek out the ways that I am set in and break them to smithereens. I want to feel the change, the fear of change, the challenge of change and stand on the edge and fall with nothing to catch me but the hands of the Almighty!

Life doesn’t have to simply repeat itself over and over again day after day. It can flow and move and take me to new places that force me to grow. Even though my body may only be growing in ways that are not so good, my spirit is never confined by physical constraints. When I read God’s Word there are many, many things that I can allow God to transform in me that I have simply been too selfish and too scared to do up till now. I don’t have to look very hard to find them.

But if I read God’s Word simply to help me stay just as I am, well, then what’s the point?

I will always have the hope that God is taking me to a new place I have never been and never dreamed I could go. I couldn’t stand to think that I will be the same guy I am today for the rest of my life even if I only have another day to live. I’m grateful I am not who I was but I know that there is more to the story. God’s Word will write a new day today and however many tomorrow’s I have yet to see.

2 Peter 3:18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

The thing about growing, or not growing, is that a lot of times I haven’t known I wasn’t growing. I was asleep in the light and never realized that I was being dragged away from the intimate relationship with God required to thrive in his presence. If I step up to his word and take it in and it strikes a little fear inside me, not so much that I run in terror but enough that I know I am handling something that can burn a little, I know that I am alive and taking in the truth. The fog rolls out of my life and I can see clearly that I am growing.

Colossians 1:10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

I’ve often been too selfish or too cowardly to live in a way that will always honor and please the Lord. It is a scary commitment to read this verse and say, “I’m going to give in and give all so God can make this out of my life.” It is even scarier to actually do it. But that is what growth is all about.

I think about all the energy I’ve wasted trying to live the same day over and over again, doing the same things, giving the same amount, holding the same things back and hoping somehow it turns out different next time. Then when I think about how little I have had to do to see a miraculous change in my life, I can see the only real choice to make.

Pass the coffee.