Start All Over Again!

Well, well, well. I had to chuckle when I re-read my first post of the year. Saying out loud, for all the world to see, that “I publicly make two resolutions. The first is to read through the King James Version of the Bible this year. The second is to take up posting to this blog on a weekly basis.” Let’s just say I fell behind on both. And quickly. But here I am typing again! And I’m still plugging away at the KJV, although I don’t know that I’ll finish it within the one-year time limit.

Along with other posts I missed, I managed to miss a Mother’s Day post for last week. I admire my Mom. She did the Single-Mom thing raising my two younger sisters. She spent a year and a half of that Single-Mom time raising my own two children when I couldn’t be there for them. I have come to see my Mom as a combination of Wonder Woman and a Prayer Warrior. I knew from childhood that Mom could capture you in her lasso and make you tell the truth. (Only my Mom didn’t need a lasso…the truth would just spill out.) And I have known the strength and tenderness of my Mother’s prayers. I have also disagreed with my Mom. I know she is a human being, as frail as I am. Through it all, in spite of it all, because if it all, today we are friends. She prays for me. I pray for her. We encourage each other to be the best we can be.

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I mentioned my dear friend Bennie Goldwire in my first post of the year. I take the liberty of quoting him again… “Let us all keep in mind: As long as God continues to Bless us with the Gift of Life there is always the chance for A New Beginning.” I am taking that New Beginning right now! How about you? Have your New Year’s Resolutions fallen by the wayside? Pick them back up, dust them off, and start all over again!

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Mother Teresa?

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I have long been a fan of Mother Teresa. She was an incredibly gentle woman, and inspired many people to acts of courage and compassion. This world needs more people like that!

The words in the quote that appear above are beautiful, and often attributed to Mother Teresa. However, a friend of mine showed me that Mother Teresa wasn’t the first to use these words. Here is the information my friend provided to me:

 

Do Good Anyway. The Paradoxical Commandments

Dear Quote Investigator: Mother Teresa is credited with a very popular collection of wise rules. Here are the first two:

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.

Usually there are between eight and ten statements, and each one ends with the word “anyway”. The precise phrasing for each statement varies. In addition, the collection ends with the following coda:

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.

Did Mother Teresa create this valuable set of principles?

Quote Investigator: No. The original collection of sayings were created by a college student named Kent M. Keith and published in 1968 in a pamphlet titled “The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council”. Below are the original expressions given in the pamphlet. To simplify exposition a two-digit number has been added before each statement. There was no coda in the original text [KKSR]:

01: People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

02: If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

03: If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

04: The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

05: Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

06: The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

07: People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

08: What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

09: People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

10: Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

Note that Kent M. Keith has a website that includes a page listing the expressions above which he calls the “Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership”. Keith discusses the origin of the commandments, and his claims are consistent with the documentary evidence that QI has located.

The statements provided by the questioner do differ somewhat from the expressions given by Keith. For example, in commandment 01 the ordering of the initial three terms is different: “unreasonable, illogical and self-centered” versus “illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.” Also, the final phrase is different: “Forgive them anyway” versus “Love them anyway.”

In commandment 02 the word “kind” is used instead of “good”. The first phrase is: “If you are kind” versus “If you do good.” The final phrase is: “Be kind anyway” versus “Do good anyway.”

Indeed, the sayings did evolve during decades of transmission, and multiple variants have been published in newspapers, books, and magazines. Sometimes entire statements have been deleted. But Keith’s “Paradoxical Commandments” function as the foundational text, and other sets have been directly or indirectly derived from them.

The commandments have been incorrectly ascribed to other individuals including: Dempsey Byrd, Howard Ferguson, E. T. Gurney, and Mother Teresa. The earliest misattribution located byQI appeared in 1972. Details are given further below. Note that incorrect attributions often occur even when a person does not actively seek to claim credit.

The frequent ascription to Mother Teresa stems from the misreading of a book about the famous Catholic charity worker called “A Simple Path” that was compiled by Lucinda Vardey and released in 1995. The page preceding the appendices was titled “ANYWAY”, and it presented versions of eight of the ten statements under investigation. Statements 06 and 07 were omitted. A note at the bottom of the page said [MTLV]:

From a sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan, the children’s home in Calcutta.

So the words were not directly attributed to Mother Teresa. Instead, some person at a children’s home operated by her charity organization posted a note with the sayings. Nevertheless, one or more readers of the book decided incorrectly to credit Mother Teresa with the sayings.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

The sayings initially appeared in a manual for student leaders written by Kent M. Keith and copyrighted in 1968 as discussed above. In 1972 a revised edition of pamphlet was published, and it included a collection of commandments that was identical to the original. Keith was listed as the author and all ten statements were reprinted [KKS2].

In December 1972 the commandments, in slightly modified form, were given a new attribution in a syndicated newspaper article. The following excerpt shows the introduction and the first commandment [DBTR]:

Dempsey Byrd has put together ten rules which you can make your own to your eternal profit. We’ll tell you who Dempsey Byrd is after you read his rules. They are:

1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love and trust them anyway.

The first statement above ends with the phrase: “Love and trust them anyway.” Keith’s original expression ended with “Love them anyway.” The newspaper article listed ten statements total that were nearly identical to Keith’s expressions. The article identified Dempsey Byrd as the editor of “Hearsight”, a publication of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind.

In 1981 the sayings were misattributed again in a profile of a wrestling coach named Howard Ferguson that was published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer of Ohio. A sidebar article printed the ten statements with the following introduction [HFPD]:

These are St. Edward wrestling coach Howard Ferguson’s “Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership.”

In 1983 the commandments appeared in the widely-distributed advice-column of Ann Landers with another incorrect ascription. A reader in Ontario sent Landers a collection containing eight of the statements under the title “Thoughts to Ponder” along with the following prefatory comment [EGAL]:

Occasionally, you print an inspiring poem or an essay by another author. Will you consider this contribution from the Canadian Hemophilia Society? It was written by E. T. Gurney, the executive director.

In 1995 a book about Mother Teresa titled “A Simple Path” was published and it included a page listing eight of the statements. The author Lucinda Vardey stated that the commandments were posted on the wall of a children’s home associated with Mother Teresa’s charity group [MTLV].

The words were rapidly reassigned to Mother Teresa herself. For example, in October 1997 a letter in an Illinois newspaper discussed the recent resignation of a Fire Chief. When the Chief stepped down “he read an inscription that he attributed to Mother Teresa.” The words were part of the eight statement version of the commandments, and the newspaper reprinted them [ILLH].

By December 1999 a modified version of the sayings under the title  “Do It Anyway” was being attributed to Mother Teresa. This version had eight statements and a coda. Here is an excerpt from a Texas newspaper showing the modified eighth statement and the coda [MTTX]:

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.

In 2002 a New York Times article told the tale of Keith and his crowd-pleasing collection of aphorisms. The article explained that the words had been improperly ascribed to Mother Teresa for several years. Yet, Keith eventually triumphed with a lucrative book deal [KKNY].

In conclusion, Kent M. Keith crafted the “Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership” when he was a young student at Harvard University in 1968. His words have been misattributed to at least four different people including Mother Teresa. The commandments have also been altered over the decades. Sometime between 1995 and 1999 a coda was added that Keith dislikes.

(Thanks to Gene Torisky whose email query inspired this question and answer.)

[KKSR] 1969 (Copyright 1968), The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council by Kent M. Keith, 4th edition, Chapter Two: Brotherly What?, Quote Page 11, Harvard Student Agencies, Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Verified with scans; Many thanks to the librarians of the Olin C. Bailey Library of Hendrix College)

[KKS2] 1972, The Silent Revolution in the Seventies: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council by Kent M. Keith, (Revised edition of “The Silent Revolution”), Chapter Two: Brotherly What?, Quote Page 8 [also stamped Page 18], National Association of Secondary School Principals, Washington, D.C. (Verified on paper)

[DBTR] 1972 December 3, The Robesonian, The Way It Is With People, [Globe Syndicate], Quote Page 4A, Column 6, Lumberton, North Carolina. (Google News Archive)

[MTLV] 1995, A Simple Path: Mother Teresa, Compiled by Lucinda Vardey,
Quote Page 185 (unnumbered), Ballantine Books, New York. (Verified on paper)

[HFPD] 1981 March 9, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Page 8-C [GNB Page 38], Wrestling Is a Way of Life, Sidebar:  Howard Ferguson’s 10 Commandments, Cleveland, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)

[EGAL] 1983 May 13, Telegraph-Herald, Ann Landers: Do It Anyway,
Page 6, Column 2, Dubuque, Iowa. (Google News Archive)

[ILLH] 1997 October 8, The State Journal-Register, Letter to the Editor,  [Letter from Lisa Hopper, Springfield],  Page 6, Springfield, Illinois. (NewsBank Access World News)

[MTTX] 1999 December 26, El Paso Times, Section: Opinion, “Some lessons were just meant to be” by John Laird, Page: 12A, El Paso, Texas. (NewsBank Access World News) (Two semicolons were added to the excerpted text.)

[KKNY] 2002 March 8, New York Times, Good Things for Maxim Writer Who Waited by David D. Kirkpatrick, Page A1, New York. (ProQuest)

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Time is a Gift

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I had the incredible opportunity to invest time in people I love this weekend, and I will never regret it!

I graduated from Rogers High School in Newport, Rhode Island in 1985. During my four years of study there, I was part of the high school chorus.

Actually, I became part of the high school chorus by “accident.” I transferred part way into my 9th grade year from Ludington High School in Michigan. My Dad was in the Navy, and part way into my 9th grade year was when family housing opened up in Newport so my Mom, my brother, my sisters, and I could join Dad in Rhode Island.

In Ludington my schedule included a “Study Hall.” I loved my Study Hall! I became very familiar with a “Book of Familiar Quotations” during that time, which I added many selections to my growing collection of quotes. (This many years later, my collection continues to grow…but that is a story for another time.)

When we drove up to the high school in Newport, my heart started pounding! The high school campus was the size of the COLLEGE campus in Ludington! When they compared my Ludington schedule to the classes they had available in Newport, Study Hall was not allowed. The class they had available? Chorus.

I’d had a bad experience with stage fright when I was in sixth grade for a choir concert. I tried to explain this to the guidance counselor in Newport. There were no words of reassurance that I recall.

So off to chorus I went. I was terrified. I didn’t like being the “new kid.” Since I was in 9th grade my younger brother and I couldn’t be at the same school to watch out for each other. I felt completely alone.

When I got to chorus, the pianist seemed friendly. I told her of my stage fright difficulties. I wish I could remember our conversation, but I cannot. But I DO know that I came to love the chorus so much that I stayed for all four years of high school. I learned to enjoy singing on stage with a group of people. My favorite times were the Christmas concerts we put on at the nursing homes in the area.

That piano player is one of the people whose life I was able to invest in this weekend. She celebrated her 80th birthday, and I was excited to introduce her to my husband and children. It had been over 25 years since the last time we’d seen each other. It was a joyous reunion and a renewal of friendship.

I hope you have someone YOU can invest time in today!

Happy New Year

“Happy New Year” is such a normal, natural thing to say. But I know of people whose lives are spinning, churning, at a dizzying pace. They have lost loved ones during 2015, and there is no returning to the “normal” they once knew. There is no way to know if the New Year will be one of happiness or heartbreak.

People often use the New Year as an opportunity to make resolutions. I always hesitate to make resolutions, because I know how fallible I am. I have made far too many commitments I have found myself unable or unwilling to keep. But this year I publicly make two resolutions. The first is to read through the King James Version of the Bible this year. The second is to take up posting to this blog on a weekly basis.

Ready or not, 2016 is here. Let this be a year that we seek to understand people. Let this be a year that we set the bar high for our own behavior, and offer grace to ourselves and others. May we seek and encourage the good in others, while minimizing the bad that will rise occasionally. May we make our choices with the future in mind.

I have a dear friend named Bennie Goldwire whom I have known longer than I have known my husband. Bennie and his wife Teresita have encouraged me through difficult times and rejoiced with me in happy times as years have passed. I asked Bennie’s permission to quote him: “As the year 2015 draws to its conclusion, I find myself making an analogy between New Year & High School Graduation. There is a sense of exhilaration, wondering what challenges the future will hold. Conversely, there is also a sense of apprehension. Everything you know & feel comfortable with inevitably changes. Yet many of us remember our mistakes of the past & resolve to eliminate them in the future. Let us all keep in mind: As long as God continues to Bless us with the Gift of Life there is always the chance for A New Beginning…Happy New Year, Everyone //BJ”

Bennie Teresita and Me

The Best Gift of Christmas

This Christmas has been much like many previous Christmases: visiting family, eating delicious Christmas goodies, opening gifts. But my best gifts this Christmas were surprisingly sweet and completely intangible. Loving correction and ready forgiveness.

I am, by nature, a “fixer.” Perhaps the fact that I am a first-born has me wired that way. I don’t know. All I know is that I like to help and I like to fix things. In this particular instance, my helper-fixer personality went into overdrive and I was caught “helping” where help was not wanted, and truly not needed.

Our family is spread far and wide, but we manage to get together for special occasions. We were gathered around my mother-in-law’s table enjoying dinner and conversation. My niece and nephew behaved in ways that indicated a need for correction…and their parents handled the correction deftly and appropriately. Still, I felt a compulsion to throw in my two-cents worth. From across the table.

I felt a gentle touch on my arm and a voice filled with love whispered in my ear, “Trisa, their parents are handling it. Let them be.” I could feel myself blush from the embarrassment of being caught behaving badly. But I quickly realized that the message was a gentle correction, and not a harsh reprimand. I watched and listened the rest of the meal, realizing how blessed I am to be a part of this family.

At my earliest opportunity I swallowed my pride and approached my sister-in-law. I told her it had been my intent to help, not to interfere. I asked her if she would forgive me. With love in her eyes, her response was a quick “yes.”

I married into this family 18 years ago, and every time I am with them I am reminded of how much love they have to share. This time that love was expressed through loving correction and ready forgiveness.

I am reminded of the precious gift God gave the world when he sent Jesus to be born in a barn and laid in a manger. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords left his heavenly home to become one of us, to bear our sins, and offer forgiveness. That is always something worth celebrating!

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The Gift of Jesus

 

 

What is a Veteran?

Veteran 1: former member of the armed forces 2: person with long experience.” So says Webster’s New Dictionary of the English Language © Merriam-Webster, Incorporated; 2002 edition. Roget’s II The New Thesaurus © 1984 lists ‘veteran’ as “One who has long experience in a given activity or capacity” and provides the alternative words “experienced” and “practical.”

Mort Walker answered the question “What is a Veteran” this way:

The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word ‘veteran’ is my Dad. He was just 18 years old when he passed all the tests. He enlisted in the Navy and went through basic training. He lived by strict rules imposed by tough leaders. He fought in Viet Nam. He returned home with his body whole, but his mind forever changed.

Two other people near and dear to my heart that come to mind when I hear the word ‘veteran’ are my brother and my sister. They were both active duty military when 9/11 happened. I am grateful that neither was physically harmed.

Another gentleman who comes to mind when I hear the word ‘veteran’ is someone I have never met, but influences my life greatly. He is my father-in-law, and he passed away before I met my husband. He served in WWII in the Pacific, on the U.S.S. Honolulu. I have heard that his ship was damaged, and if he’d been in his bunk at the time he wouldn’t have survived.

There is an image I have seen on Facebook that I have not been able to find out where it originated. I share it with you here:

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I find this picture represents the work of veterans well. They sacrifice time with their own families, and often their very lives, so we can live in peace.

I leave you with this prayer for our military:

Down Syndrome Awareness

I find it mildly amusing that there are so many things to recognize. “January is ______________ Awareness Month!” “February is ______________ Awareness Month!” And so it goes. But then I remember that there are only 12 months to choose from, and many, many causes. If you have a cause that is near and dear to your heart, I hope you will take every opportunity to raise awareness, whether it is the “appropriate” month or not.

On that note, I would like to express that one of the causes for the month of October is Down Syndrome Awareness. I had a vague awareness of “Trisomy 21,” or Down Syndrome from human development classes when I was in high school. However, all theories and vague awareness shattered on October 26, 1998 when my husband and I welcomed our baby girl into the world. Shortly after she was born, her Down Syndrome diagnosis was confirmed.

Early in my pregnancy an ultrasound indicated a thickening of the skin at the back of my daughter’s skull. There was also indication that she had a heart defect. We were informed that these could be potential signs of Down Syndrome, and were sent to a genetic counselor to gather more information. The genetic counselor was quick to inform my husband and me that we were still young, and that we had the right to abort this child and try again for a healthy baby. We were given paperwork to fill out to allow for an amniocentesis to confirm the Down Syndrome diagnosis. As we read over the forms, it became clear that the amnio had a greater chance of causing an “unintended abortion” than there was a chance of our child being born with Down Syndrome. We felt that God had blessed us with this baby, and the results of the testing would be irrelevant to our decision to allow our child to grow to her full potential. We decided to forgo the amniocentesis and wait until our daughter was born to have the diagnosis confirmed.

Our daughter Mary came into this world approximately three weeks early at a whopping 4 pounds, 12 ounces. The supposed heart defect that had showed on the early ultrasound was gone, if it had indeed ever been there at all. But it was confirmed that Mary had Down Syndrome. When we left the hospital, we had a bundle of books and information about Down Syndrome and all the terrible, scary consequences of living with it.  Our child would be “retarded.” She would never be “normal.” She would likely be very sickly her entire life.

As I read the information provided, I became more and more depressed. My husband and I did already have a 10-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter. Our family practitioner wasn’t a Down Syndrome specialist, but offered to learn all he could to take care of Mary. We let go of the books and scary information and decided to trust God to guide us as we led Mary through her growing up.

Because our Mary was born in Florida, we did not learn about the Georgia Early Intervention program until she was nearly a year old. My husband and I decided that I would quit work and be a stay-at-home Mom for all three of our children. This would give me the opportunity to observe and work with Mary’s therapists, as well as just be home when our children needed me.

Mary has done so much more than the books originally led us to believe she could. Of all the things she’s said she wants to do when she grows up…work in a restaurant, be a chef, a veterinarian, a teacher, a nurse, a doctor, an actress and more…the only thing we have told her that she absolutely cannot do is be as tall as her Uncle Josh. Mary is all of 4 feet, four inches tall. Her Uncle Josh is around 6’6”. All the rest of that stuff? There’s no reason she can’t try!

What can Mary do? She reads. She was my study buddy when I was in college, and helped me with my flash cards. Mary swims. She cooks. She colors. She plays baseball. (She’s even thrown out the first pitch at a Camden County Wildcats game!) Mary volunteers as an usher at the local Theatre by the Trax, and she has acted in several plays. Mary lights up any room she enters with her amazing smile! One thing she does that I am so proud of her for is that she is a Prayer Warrior. For her, prayer seems as natural an occurrence as walking or talking. She has so much faith, she can’t imagine that other people lack it.

Our family is greatly enriched because we have a person who has Down Syndrome in it. Many people have shared with me that Mary has been a blessing to them as well. I am confident that Mary will go on breaking down walls of limitation and will shine in the exact way God has planned for her since He knit Mary together in my womb. She truly is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:14), and I am blessed to be her mother.

Being a Mom is a Gift!

            If you would like additional information on Georgia’s Babie’s Can’t Wait program that provided Mary with the Early Intervention Program, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/Babies-Cant-Wait. If you would like information about Down Syndrome, an excellent resource can be found at http://www.dsaj.org/.