Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

          Although it sounds cliche, pay-it-forward is the approach I take in most things I do. This especially applies to teaching and working with youth. I guess it’s my way of paying tribute to the people who saw beyond my mistakes and through my insecurities and

Courtesy of Google Images 

poor self-image. These people consist of the “others” in my life. The ones who had the heart and foresight to look past everything within myself I perceived to be negative. The ones who refused and refuted my excuses, who saw and drew out qualities and abilities I didn’t know I possessed.

          The “Why” statement for my life is this. “I want to help young people not make the same mistakes I made…to help them discover, develop, and deploy their own value and sense of purpose in life. I want every youth with whom I have contact to know they are valuable and have purpose and something meaningful to offer this world.”  I am confident that emulating and honoring the memory of loving, supportive “others” in my life is the strategy that will propel me to success in my endeavor to make a difference in the lives of young people.

          I consider myself to have achieved success and happiness in life. For this, I am grateful to God and appreciative for the “others” He has placed on my path. I know,

Original Art by Joe

without doubt, that every measure of accomplishment I have achieved or will ever obtain is due, in no small part, to the “others” who have answered the call to pour and sow into my life. One of my prime goals, now, is to honor my “others” by answering my own call to be an “other” to as many people as I can. From my perspective, this is how we overcome evil by doing good.  And…isn’t this exactly what the world we live in needs?

          When we fight hatred with hatred, hatred wins. Hate focuses on what is negative…the differences between us. Not only that, it thrives and feeds on negatives and differences. Love, on the other hand, looks past the negative and promotes the positive. Love sees how we are all similar and how we are all connected. Love is what motivated the “others” in my life to look past my differences and negatives. The love OF “others” FOR “others” is the only thing that will make a meaningful difference in our world. I know I now have a responsibility to those who have sown into my life to sow into the lives of others. This is how the movements of Paying-It-Forward and Honoring-The-Others combine to perpetuate the power of goodness. By taking responsibility and showing gratitude for being the beneficiary of the goodness of others in your life.

          And…if you’re being honest, you would have to recognize that you have had them, too. Do some self-reflection. Think about the people who saw good in you when nobody else did. Not even you. Think about those people who didn’t give up on you when everybody else did. Even you. Think about those people who looked past the mistakes and failures, who, when you fell, extended their hand to lift you up one more time. These are the “others” in your life. Write their names down. List their contributions to your life. If they are still alive, thank them. Then… GO…

…do the same for someone else.

Peace and blessings…



It’s unfortunate that band mates will sometimes leave when you start singing a different tune.

We Are Connected Assembly

Courtesy of Alina Felix

It was my blessing and pleasure to take part in this year’s first pep-assembly at Villago Middle School in Casa Grande, Arizona, today. Our theme was “We Are Connected” which is adapted from the book “The 7 Mindsets.”  These are the words I was inspired to write and given the privilege of delivering to 850 middle schoolers and their families and guests in attendance.  Thank YOU for taking the time to read them, as well.

~ Peace and blessings…




We…are connected … let me make this very plain;

Even though we’re all different … we’re really still the same.

Not our age, religion, or the house we live in;

The language we speak or the color of our skin.

Not the car we cruise … or the money we make;

Or a million different ways … people … can be fake.

Yeah, we’re all connected … by the REAL THINGS inside us,

Not the simple-minded pettiness that strives to divide us…

Or, the walls we build up … to protect us and hide us.

Choosing HATE over LOVE … is creating a virus.

We are connected … but, sometimes, it’s hard to see;

When we’re focused on ourselves, what’s mine, and just me!

While demanding our rights … we push others aside;

Display our true colors … and our self-serving pride.

We ARE connected … but until we accept it …

Hostility and hatred … can always be expected.

Yeah, we’re all connected … by the REAL THINGS inside us,

Not the simple-minded pettiness that strives to divide us…

Or, the walls we build up … to protect us and hide us.

When we choose HATE over LOVE … we’re INFECTED by the virus!

In the struggle of life … there is no greater sin,

Than fighting hatred WITH hatred … cuz then, hatred wins.

To counter this punch … love MUST be our choice,

To open up our hearts … and be equality’s voice.

So, get your eyes off the lies the NEWS has us seeing,

And focus on THIS … we’re ALL human beings!

So, open up your eyes to the BEAUTY inside us,

Not the meaningless pettiness that grinds and divides us;

Or the walls we build up … to protect us and hide us.

Choosing HATE over LOVE … infects us with the virus.

We … are connected … there’s great strength in numbers,

So, let your love and compassion … ARISE from their slumber.

Embrace every difference … cuz one MIGHT be…

The doorway to a future … you never could see.

You can learn from everybody … they know something you don’t.

The choice is up to you … you either will or you won’t.

We ARE … connected … we’re all human, for real;

We’re connected by life … and emotions we feel.

Happiness, joy, sorrow, and pain…

THEY’RE all colorblind … THEY see us the same.

But, being connected … gives us people to share…

Our joyful celebrations … or … the burdens we bear.

So, open up your eyes to the BEAUTY inside us,

Not the meaningless pettiness that grinds and divides us.

Cuz the love from above … is right here to guide us.

Choosing LOVE over HATE … is the CURE for the virus!

We ARE connected … despite hatred’s pollution,

if you embrace fifty people … you got fifty more solutions!

Instead of being judgmental … and pushing people away,

Open up your heart … and hear what they say.

We gain so much … from the WISDOM of others;

We’re the HUMAN RACE family … we’re all sisters and brothers.

So, open up your eyes to the BEAUTY inside us,

Not the self-centered judgment that grinds and divides us.

Cuz the love from above … is right here to guide us.

Choose LOVE over HATE … and DEMOLISH the virus!








Recently, a dear friend and colleague lost her precious father to cancer.  I’m blessed to work with a pretty close knit bunch so, needless to say, although not to the same extent, her pain was also ours.  As I reflected on the many times she has shared with us about her special relationship with her dad, the words of this poem began to flow.  The fact that I have four daughters and three granddaughters helped me, I believe, to voice these words from a


Courtesy of Google Images

father’s heart.  The fact that I have lost my precious mother-in-law to the ravages and relentlessness of cancer offers a second, unpleasant voice of experience along with a compassion to console those who are encountering the same.  To my joy and satisfaction, these words were received with heartfelt gratitude and appreciation.  And, now, with my friend’s permission I share them with you hoping they will offer some consolation or inspire some reflection as you face the losses, whatever they may be,  in your own life.

~ Peace and blessings…



Daddy’s Little Girl

There’s nothing quite like a girl and her dad…the bond just can’t be denied;

Through countless troubles and trials she’s had…he’s wiped every tear she has cried.

When all else fails, an immovable rock…He is constant and strong and sure;

Unconditional love measures his talk…his embrace gives her strength to endure.

Her childhood fears all melted away…in the protection of his arms;

Thoughts redirected by his loving sway…she was captured by his charms.

Sometimes he was quiet without a word…he refrained from any speaking,

But still he’d guide by the wisdom she heard… to the answers she’d been seeking.

His character and values are her constant guide…as she carves her way through this life;

But life can be hard so she sometimes hides…overwhelmed by hardships and strife.

In the comfort and solace of memories she ponds… she hears his loving voice;

Affirming so clearly the lessons so fond…directing her to a choice.

No, there’s nothing quite like a dad and his girl…the king on the throne of her heart.

No bond can compare in this whole wide world… no, nothing can keep them apart.

Come hell or high water, through all she’ll abide…for in her heart of hearts she knows;

Regardless of distance, his love’s by her side…no matter how far she goes.

Even in death he is close by and near…though gone from her physical touch;

But somehow joy erases the fear… ‘cause she knows he loved her much.

A lifetime of lessons and memories to sift…come crashing through her brain;

Each one a stair step which gently lifts…her grieving heart from pain.

And, now she daddys_girlponders while deep in thought…the blessing she knows as dad;

What he leaves behind can never be bought…he gave her all that he had.

For of titles, positions, and successes obtained…all coveted by this world;

No greater achievement for her can be gained…                                                  

                                                                           …than to be her Daddy’s Girl.

There is no greater super power than that of a well placed affirmation.


Different is BeautifulWe are different.

We are not the same color. We come from different cultures and backgrounds. We do not practice the same religion. We are not the same gender. We have different sexual orientations. We are not the same age. We have different political views and perspectives. We have different values of right and wrong. We live in different neighborhoods because we make different amounts of money. In innumerable ways, we are different and as long as we focus on our differences, we will be divided and will never achieve unity. 


We are different.

But, I will tolerate your differences. For some insane, holier-than-thou reason, I believe my brand of differences are more acceptable than yours…more important. And, because I believe mine are more important than yours, I assume the right to lord my differences over you and give you permission to not be like me. Yes, you have my permission but whatever you do, don’t you dare cross the line. As long as I choose to tolerate your differences we will celebrate a condition frequently referred to as diversity.  To many, tolerance and diversity are false gods producing the illusion of unity. An illusion obtained and secured by a thin line drawn in the sand…man-made boundaries. I don’t know who draws the lines or determines the boundaries. I do know this…if you cross the line, I will be forced to defend my rights by every means necessary. I must prove to you that my differences are more important than yours. Then, when those who are watching see that I have effectively put you back in your place, they will know that my differences are also more important than theirs and we can regain tolerance and an even greater illusion of unity.


We are different.

But I accept the fact that we are different. I accept you. You are a fellow human being and I value your life. Because I accept you, I choose to see you before I see the different you. That I will see you are different from me is inevitable because you are, in fact, different. But, because I accept you as a person, I choose to accept and respect those things that make you different…those things that make you unique. My differences are not better or worse than yours and yours are not better or worse than mine. Our differences are simply mutually and equally not the same. I value you so I respect your differences. It doesn’t mean I agree with you or that I have to. And, mutual disagreement does not equal mutual hate. It doesn’t mean that I will coerce you to believe as I do or that I should. Whether or not we agree, I can accept you because I see you the person before I see you the different person. We can recognize that our differences provide an opportunity to discover, develop, and deploy fulfilling relationships and healthy communities rather than the reasons to divide, dismantle, and destroy them. Focusing on what makes us different blinds us to what makes us the same. It blinds us to what makes us unique. Focusing on our similarities, however, can lead us to a true measure of authentic unity.

I accept you because you are capable of giving and receiving love. I accept you because…

You experience joy.

You grieve.

You worry.

You hurt.

You experience abandonment and rejection.

You believe.

You doubt.

You hope.

You breathe.

You bleed.



…I accept you because you are not so different.

…I accept you because I choose to.

…Peace and blessings…

~ joe

“Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”

I love this maxim! It’s a reminder to me that purpose is a source of peace. As an employee of a school district in my community, today I will see the students I have not seen for the past two weeks. Today it’s back to work. I’m excited to see them because teaching them about life is among the causes for which I stand.

I take a stand by “letting my light so shine before men that they see my good works and bring glory to my Father in heaven.” I take a stand by doing my best to affirm to every person I encounter that they have value and they are important. God loves me so I can love them. God loves me so I must!Healing-Broken-Heart

That’s my cause. It’s my calling. Not to preach. Not to organize activities. Not to tell people how important going to church is. But to shine the love of God into the darkness of the world I traverse. Every time an unloved person feels love they can be inspired by the hope that God exists. Perhaps this hope will begin their search. That’s my cause. It gives my life purpose and in that purpose I find peace.

I was told once by a pastor that I was through with youth ministry. I had run my course and it was time to move on to “different ministry.” That was nearly a decade ago. I am no longer affiliated with any church but today I report to work at a school with almost 900 middle school students. I return to work at a school with 40 staff members. I will teach them many of the same lessons I taught in church for over twenty years. That’s what I stand for.

By God’s grace I will do my best to live my life in love for Him and for others. But what about the Gospel message, you say? The Gospel message and the principles of faith in God are more than just sermons. It’s a lifestyle. And, my God ordained job is to ensure that everybody I meet along my journey through life knows that at least one person on earth loves them. In so doing, it just might point them to the Author of love. So, today, as I return to work…that’s what I stand for

…and I won’t fall for anything else.

…Peace and blessings…

~ joe