Sometimes it is the echoes of glory from a past triumph 
or the echoes of laughter and tears from good days that went by all to quickly.
While other times, it is the echoes of what might have been  - 
the what-ifs in life that lead to the very cusp of insanity.
Still other times, it  is the echoes of tragedy -
those instances when everything is still so real that it takes your breath away 
even months and years later.

We all have echoes - the left-over bits and pieces of moments from our life that can be haunting.  I think these snippets or echoes are always with us, but most often it is some outside stimulant that forces retrospection.  The smell of new crayons, the feel of a summer breeze, 90's music on the local radio station are just such stimulants for me!  

These moments of nostalgia or regret bring me to one simple conclusion - it is not just what you do that matters but how you do what do that is of equal importance.  I have been reminded lately that this life is much too short and moments much too precious to do anything half-heartedly or to live without integrity.  How you live matters.  What you do with your given amount of time matters.  Do not for one second think that how you live only affects you - there are people out there waiting for you to get off the bench and into the game.  But to get into the game, you first must let go of those echoes - even those that build the ego.  Nothing we undertake will neither change the past nor bring it back.  It is time to make new echoes - to scream at the top of your lungs, to finally join that gym, train for that 5k, go back to school, make new friends, or start a new career.  

Those people waiting for you to get in the game deserve the best you not some stand-in on auto-pilot.  Today - this instant - is all you are given so decide to make the effort now!


love and work

On Friday May 10th, our Uncle Allen Sharp left this world quite unexpectedly leaving a gaping hole in the fabric of our family.  The days following went by quickly, were filled with many faces asking for answers, and left us feeling achy, hazy.  I remember bits of pieces of those days...

To be quite frank, I have no great words of wisdom or answers to the questions we all feel after an event like this.  All I can tell you is that it sucks - probably the most difficult experience of my life.  I am pretty sure I went through all 7 steps of grief in the first five minutes and have continued to grow through them in each and every five minutes following.

So instead of some quaint offering that would only act as a band-aid for the pain, I thought I would share some of the lessons I learned from my Uncle Allen.

1.  Love - love your spouse, your family, and those friends who think they're family!  My uncle loved his wife - how many construction-type men do you know that willingly go shoe shopping with their wife just to spend time with them?  That's love in my book!  He was a man who was taught to do everything to the best of his ability, and that standard was not compartmentalized into work.  He was also insanely loyal and generous to his friends and family!

2.  Work - if you are able, you should work and work hard.  Like I said, no half-hearted, piss-poor job would satisfy him.  Do it right the first time - don't cut corners and take the simplified, coward's way out.  He had a low tolerance for ignorance also.  If you don't know how to do something, then ask someone who does!  Uncle Allen was the type of person who could do anything he set his mind to, and he could get almost anyone to do exactly what he wanted to do.  Candace and I joked about him being in the mafia - if you wanted something done, you went to Uncle Allen.

I know that is only two lessons, but I think those are the two things he did really well.  I also think that if we can strive to do those things well, then we will have lived a good life at the end.  I don't know why or pretend to understand why God chose that particular Friday, but I have to hold tight to what I know of God - that He is good, that He has a plan.  Even if parts of that plan make me angry.  Not so much angry with God, but angry that death exists at all.  Times like this make me long for God's promises of no more tears and no more death.

Finally, the lesson I learned more through his death than his life.  Life is fleeting, much too short to hold a grudge.  Those things that we were angry about on Thursday didn't really matter Friday morning and should not matter in the weeks and months  to follow.  Sometimes, I think tragic events can be the very thing needed to shake us from our stubborn complacency and help us see that now is the time to forgive.  You cannot do anything about yesterday, and tomorrow is not promised.  So love the people God has placed in your life and do the job He has entrusted you with today!