Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!!!!!

When a child is born, it is one of the greatest moments in life for everyone. Parents are full of joy, little brothers and sisters are happy, grandparents are often insanely happy, and even family pets are glad to see a little baby come home. Friends often can’t wait to congratulate the family and to see the newest member. It’s just a wonderful time in life.

I think the story of the birth of Jesus is honestly one of the most beautiful stories that exist. How many people really knew the significance of that night so long ago!? But to think of our Lord and Savior being born in a stable and placed in a manger is hard to believe. A glorious star appeared in the sky to signify his birth. The fact that three wisemen showed up to honor the Messiah indicates how important his birth was to this world.

I know God was proud of Jesus immediately. God loves humanity and he knew that Jesus was born on Earth to save the people of the world. I wonder if God was anguished knowing how Jesus life would end. My mother has often said there is NO WAY she could have watched Travis or myself go through the torture, mocking, beating, and execution that Jesus endured. Now my thought is, she could not have watched TRAVIS go through it, but she would have considered that fate for me if necessary. I know I could not watch the children in my life suffer a horrible death to save the very people that are condemning them for no reason. God destroyed the world with a flood, he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and he took harsh vengeance on this world in many situations, but allowed his only son to suffer an execution. The reason? ”God so love the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”…John 3-16. We have been saved by the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. What a glorious night it was over 2000 years ago.

Tonight and tomorrow will be filled with family, friends, and children making memories that will last a lifetime. I’ve always loved Christmas because it gives the whole world time to pause, take a breath, and reflect on the good things that life has to offer. As you gather around your homes with family and friends this Christmas, remember to honor the birth of Jesus.

I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! May your families find peace and be blessed with all of the joys that Christmas has to offer!

Friday, December 19, 2014

15 Years and Counting

A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be- Douglas Pagels.

As we all move through life, the only way to avoid having “highs and lows” is to simply not live. As I browse through Facebook and watch peoples lives, I find a lot to enjoy. It’s great watching kids grow up, go through school, play ball, sing, etc. We see people reach milestones, achievements, awards, and even retirements. We see places people go and experiences they have. I think we all enjoy seeing good things happen to people during their lives.

But with the good comes the bad. We see people going through challenges of all kinds. Sickness, surgeries, loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, etc. Its during those times that people need each other the most. When I see people going through life challenges, its really great to see everyone show support and encouragement to help people through. Going through a difficult time is hard enough, but doing it feeling alone is even worse.

Friendship has always been an essential aspect of life to me. As I get older, it becomes even more important. We will all go through challenges and difficulties throughout our lives. The Lord does not guarantee us an easy life filled with everything we want. Everyone realizes that there are a lot of difficulties going on among friends and families. The fact remains, no matter where you are in life, if you don’t have friends and people around you for support, it certainly makes challenges even harder.

Deddy always appreciated his friends as much as anyone I know. He enjoyed spending time with them, giving them a hard time about funny things and listening to what was going on in their lives. Most of my family has always been the same way. I was talking to Uncle Boyd yesterday and he said his party is one of the things he looks forward to the most all year long. But he also said, at the same time, it makes him somewhat sad because he misses Deddy more. Tony Cox has told me many times that after Deddy died, he doesn’t enjoy playing golf near as much as he used to and he actually doesn’t play that much.

As the years have passed, we’ve lost several members of Uncle Boyd’s Christmas Party. But on the bright side, we’ve gained some members too. Tonight will be like always. We sit around and talk, EVERYONE will be ridiculed in some way or another. Hot topics will be discussed like the paramount rivalry between Boone Trail and Benhaven years ago, there will never be a baseball player as good as Mickey Mantle, NASCAR “ain’t what it used to be,” and David Pearson is the greatest driver of all time. Uncle Boyd will tell us that if he had “Air Jordans” when he played basketball, he would have probably hurt his knees on the backboard.

A lot has happened in the last 15 years. In some ways, it seems like a long time and in others it seems to have gone by in a flash. Its hard to believe that this will be the 15th year that Deddy has not been to “Uncle Boyd’s Christmas Party.” I think we all miss him the same as we always have. I have no idea what the Lord allows us to see from Heaven but I have often wondered. But I do know this, Deddy might not physically be there tonight, but if he does know, he is extremely happy that we are still having this party. Because at the end of life, two of the most important things in this world are your family and friends…..and that’s what tonight is all about.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


My whole life I wanted to go to Carolina. As I grew older and actually learned about the educational aspects of the university and not just the basketball team, I wanted to go more. Linda Graves was one of our teachers in middle school. But she was more than a teacher to us, she was more like another mother. We all respected her and had known her long enough to be able to joke around with her at appropriate times. I hated math and in frustration I told her many times that I didn’t really need math, when I graduated I was just going to get a job. She would look at me and sternly say, “Robbie Brafford, you will go to college, and you will go to Carolina.” I’m quite certain that if I had not followed through with her expectations, she might have beaten me!

Going from a rural high school in Western Harnett to UNC-Chapel Hill was certainly different. I had an idea of what it would be like but I was not 100% certain as to what to expect. At the time, you were required to take two physical education classes. My very first class was a weightlifting class and I will never forget it. The class included students from all walks of life and different backgrounds. But there was one guy in this class that I was really just not sure of.

This stranger, in which I was skeptical, was a black guy who initially had a face of stone carved into anger. Several thoughts about the guy initially ran through my mind;

1. He is the “kingpin” of a big city gang and he will end up killing me just because I looked at him.
2. He has never smiled, not even on Christmas Day
3. He is a very rare individual….a black serial killer
4. He is extra angry because he thought he had signed up for “Different Ways to Kill People-101”

This is when the story turns into complete irony. I ended up speaking to him one day and asked if he wanted to lift weights. Now, he didn’t immediately warm up to me but he also did not kill me, so I thought that was a good sign. As the classes moved forward, we started working out almost every day. THEN, I started saying some of the crazy things I typically say, and he thought I was an idiot and much of what I said, he found hysterical. Before you knew it, we were rarely working out and laughing constantly.

The guy’s name was Stephon Goode, but I nicknamed him “Smoothdaddy” and that’s all I’ve ever called him. Every time I saw him on campus we would share stories and laughs. Actually, it was almost always me making fun of someone else and both of us laughing. We graduated before the world of email and cyberspace became so integrated into our lives, and therefore we lost touch with each other. However, in recent years, we have reacquainted through Facebook.

I am a firm believer that if you feel led to help someone, you should absolutely follow through with that intuition. Every year, we see golf tournaments, dinners, and fund raisers of all sorts for people that are going through a difficult time. Stephon is currently going through serious personal challenges. He has been diagnosed with “end stage renal disease” and will require a kidney transplant at some point in the near future. I know Stephon is a good guy. I also know that the world needs people like him. In 1999, we found out that my father had cancer. December 6th, 1999 will be a day I will never forget. My whole life I had my father for every challenging circumstance I had ever faced. When the surgeon walked out that day, all he could tell us was bad news in the absolute most amicable way possible. I know what it felt like that Thanksgiving and Christmas to be dealing with a very serious medical situation.

First and foremost, I’m asking you to pray for Stephon and his family. I would also appreciate it if you would share this blog with as many people as you can. In addition, I am asking you to consider if God is actually leading you to help Stephon. He needs $25,000 to help him through this surgery. His goal is already within reach as many people have already been led to make a donation. Many of you reading this know me good enough to realize that I would not have written a blog about Stephon if I didn’t believe in him. He is now the Reverend Stephon D. Goode of Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Henderson, NC. I am sure every time he thinks about almost everything I ever said to him in college, he prays for my forgiveness. But I also know that it would make Christmas for his family, friends and church even better if he had reached his goal.  I’ve not done nearly enough in this life for others and I know that.  But nothing feels better to me than helping someone in one way or another. Therefore, I am asking everyone that reads this to consider a difficult situation for a great guy. You can follow this link to his site, "Kidney Transplant Fund" and let’s start this holiday season by considering helping a guy through a challenging time who in return, will give back to the world for a lifetime.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Rules

The year Deddy was sick, all of our lives revolved around him. Not because that’s what he demanded, it was just what we all wanted to do. I have heard people say many times that they had rather go quick than deal with a terrible illness. I can see that point in some regards, but I am grateful for the year that Deddy lived. Yes, he had cancer. Yes, it was often difficult. Yes, it was emotionally draining. But the most important thing to consider is that he didn’t die for a year, he LIVED for one.

There are so many things about that year that I will always remember; the concern, the worry, and the eventual demise….but that’s not what I remember the most. I remember the laughs, the good times, and eventually a sense of peace.

My father loved his family and friends. He loved his mother and father with all of his heart. He loved his mother-in-law. He loved my mother and he loved me and Travis. Of course, he loved Travis more, but that’s another story. He also loved his brothers. Deddy could find the best in all three of his brothers in an instant and I’ve always thought that was one of his best attributes.

There were many rules during that year that were to be followed. They were not written on a board or demanded by my father. As a matter of fact, most of them were quite funny. I thought after 14 years, maybe it would be interesting for everyone to know what the rules were during the last year Deddy was with us;

1. Do not run out of 6.5 oz Coca Cola’s. If you get down to less than a case of them, someone better get to a store and buy some more. Deddy told me one time during that year that we were almost out and I needed to go buy some more. I went to the store and bought several more 6 packs. When I opened the refrigerator in the garage to put them in, there were probably 30 in there. I guess he wanted to be prepared for a lot of people showing up at one time.

2. The TV was on almost 24 hours a day and consisted of the following programs:
a. The Western Channel
b. Nascar on Sundays
c. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
d. Carolina basketball games
e. Some other ACC basketball games
f. NBA games that included Michael Jordan or Shaq
g. Anything else that Deddy felt like we should watch
3. There were certain people that had an open door policy for visitation.
a. His immediate family
b. His closest friends
c. The numerous preachers that visited him often; Danny, Sandy, and Mr. Brice. Phil Thomas was also extended the same courtesy as the preachers.
4. Besides having 6.5 oz Coca Colas, we always had to have Kool-Aid. It mostly had to be grape and be made by Travis.

5. If Uncle Boyd was not at the house by 5:00, somebody better be on a phone finding out why and what time he would be getting there.

6. The golf cart was to be ready at all times. At any given second, he may need to visit his Mama and Deddy, Randy, or Sammy.

The evolution of Facebook has certainly been interesting. I know we ALL see some things posted that are either stupid or seem too personal to post. But the great thing about Facebook for me has been a way to keep up with people you genuinely care about. My family was so blessed with prayers, cards, visits, and kind words of encouragement that I don’t know if we could ever be grateful enough. My father was a very sympathetic person. Not only did he believe in giving people second chances, I saw him give people MANY chances throughout his life. I believe his good nature made it more difficult for everyone to watch him battle an illness that is seldom defeated. So, as I watch the lives of so many people through Facebook, I certainly feel sympathy for the challenges we all see family and friends going through. But I don’t believe in a life of regret. I think what we all should do is celebrate the accomplishments, success, and triumphs of our family and friends. But, when those same people are going through the difficult times, we should support them with encouragement, compassion, and prayer. Because no matter what, life can change one way or another at any given moment. Deddy had a “wake up call” like no other in fall of 1999. On September 13th, 2000, his battle was over. I’ve read the poem, “The Dash” by Linda Ellis many times that explains that we have a beginning date and a date when our life ends. But what matters the most is the “dash” in the middle because that is the life that we lived. I find great peace knowing that Deddy made the most of his “dash”.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Ten Commandments

     Well, well, well. It's that time of the year again. Spring is coming, flowers are blooming, Easter is just around the corner, and "The Ten Commandments" is once again coming on television!

     This of course is my favorite movie of all time. Now, I know for a lot of you that have heard me recite every line from "Silence of the Lambs," that may be somewhat of a surprise. But I think it’s great. You have to admit, it is one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible and the movie is certainly one of the most cinematic movies of all time.

     There are a number of things about the movie that run through my mind each time I watch it. To begin with, Pharoah and anyone that followed him must have had some sort of learning disability. Now, I can somewhat see the thought process of Pharoah; he had all the wealth, owned the entire city and ruled everyone. But it is still a little hard to believe, that in the end, someone could be stupid enough to banish Moses from the “world”. To banish someone he once considered a son just because he had sympathy for a population of slaves and the horrible conditions in which they lived and worked.

     After Moses was disowned by Pharoah, Rameses was loving life. Moses had been the thorn in Rameses' side his whole life. His father loved Moses more, his woman was in love with Moses, and Moses proved to be a better engineer, military leader, and was more highly respected throughout Egypt. So, when they found out Moses was a slave, don't you know that Rameses was elated! Even then, everyone was ready to accept him. But when Moses admits to Pharoah that he would free the slaves if he could, he is considered a threat and is banished forever from Egypt. As the life of Moses continues, he is called by God to be the deliverer of the Hebrew people. He did not even know God, but Joshua told Moses that God knew him! Instead of executing Moses, Ramses sends him out into the desert with the intentions of him dying a sufferable death. However, not only does Moses not die, he finds God and comes to truly understand his purpose.

     At this point in the movie, the story really begins to unfold. Pharoah dies and Rameses becomes King of Egypt. Almost immediately, God directs Moses to return to Egypt to lead the Hebrew people out of bondage. Moses goes to Rameses and demands that the slaves are freed. Of course, Rameses saw this as preposterous considering they had an army, owned and ruled the city, lived a lavish lifestyle and owned all the slaves. So from his point of view, who cared about this "God" that Moses worshipped?

     As the story continues, instead of Rameses yielding to logic and reason, his ability to be rational and intelligent are obviously NOT options. God curses Egypt with multiple plagues, yet Ramses refuses to free the slaves. I always contemplate, what if I was one of the Egyptian guards? It would be like this..."Ok, let's think about this rationally Rameses, you have an army and complete power and this guy has a stick. You threw snakes at him and his stick turned into a snake and ate your snakes. I haven't had a drink of water in forever because it’s all blood now. Frogs, gnats, and locust have eaten everything but Nefeteria's eyebrows. We have boils all over us and its hailing fire. And oh yeah, by the way, it has been so dark for 3 days that I can't see my hand in front of my face. Seriously, I realize that your logic has been altered since your hairdresser told you that a long pony tail on one side of your head would be a strong look for you and your son. But you keep talking to that black statue with a bird's head on it. What has he done so far? Stand there and look stupid while the God of Moses sends one plague after another? Therefore, here is my sword and my armor. I am putting on one of those potato sack robes and I am going with Moses because his God is God! Oh, and by the way, so let it be written, so let it be done!" The story would be very different if I lived back them.

     Moses finally tells Rameses that "the next plague brought onto Egypt will come from your mouth". But the genius, Rameses says, "Oh yeah, anymore plagues brought on to us, and I'll kill the first born of every Hebrew family." This is my part again "Hey Pharoah, are you trying to be stupid? Yeah, remember me? I was in your army last week but I wised up pretty quick. Are you sure you don't want to take that back?" And Rameses says "Nope, I am the KING.” What happens? A mean, green fog of death floats through Egypt and kills all of the first born of Egyptian families. All of the first born of Hebrew slaves were protected by the mark of lambs blood, therefore the death “passed over” their homes. THEN, Rameses relented and let the slaves go. "Well, way to go Pharoah! See, it didn't really take that much to convince you!?"

     Next thing you know, the city is cleared of slaves and they are all gone. What was Rameses doing? He was worshipping the bird head man to bring his son back to life. At this point I'm thinking "Really? That's your plan?" Of course Nefeteria, who loved him SO MUCH comes in, mocks him, and DARES him to chase the slaves down and kill Moses. You would think at this point he would say, "Nefeteria, why don't you shut that windsock that keeps flapping in the wind before I go postal." But no, he says, "Oh yeah, I'll chase Moses down and bring his blood back on my sword!" Did the burning bush cause him to reconsider? Nope. Did it cross his mind that it might not be a real good idea to send his entire army into the sea that God divided for the slaves to cross through? Nope.

     So, after watching his army destroyed by the sea and the slaves shooting off fireworks on the other side, Pharoah goes home with his gimpy horse. And what does his sweet wife ask? "Where is the blood of Moses?" Once again, if I could be in this scene, it would be better..."Ummmm, Nefi, listen case you didn't notice, you just suffered through 10 plagues. Your little boy is deceased and its your husband's fault. All of the slaves have hit the trail, and just to remind you of what is going on, Rameses left here a few days ago with 10,000 soldiers. Unless I have severe cataracts, it appears that he has come home with just his horse and one of Willie Nelson's braids hanging off the side of his head. Does it appear to you that he rode back in with a posture of victory, or of a sad clown who can't juggle? If he has the blood of Moses on his sword, he found one of his worn out Band-Aids from that long desert walk and he rubbed the blood on his sword. Moses prayed for the Red Sea to be divided, walked through it, then ascended up the mountain to talk to directly to God. So, you and ‘silly hair’ can go over there and talk to birdman. Hey by the way, you got any Sweet Tea, I am parched!"

     Of course, the stupidity does not end there. After being in slavery for hundreds of years, freed, then seeing the burning bush protect them, walking through the middle of a divided sea, and finally reaching the other side, the SLAVES were becoming restless. I have to slap myself to understand this. In the meantime, Moses goes up the mountain to directly talk to God and was given the 10 Commandments. But guess what, Dathan convinces the people that they need a gold bull to worship. If I could physically beat up one person in this story, it would definitely be Dathan. At this point I am saying "What in the wide world of sports is going on?" The Hebrew people turn to sin and immorality. That is until Moses walks back down the mountain with the commandments. My character would now be yelling "I told ya'll he was going to be angry!"  Moses throws the commandments at them and total calamity ensues killing many of the people who had dismissed God turned to sin.

     By the end of his life, Moses has the people of Israel traveling like a normal group toward the promise land. However, Moses doesn't make it. It is time for him to climb the golden staircase. He got them there, and now it is up to them to make good choices through life. The truly epic story of the entire life of Moses is why I love this movie.

     For most people, you have parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches etc. that make an effort to guide you and give you good advice. Now I know some adults are not good role models and actually are harmful to children. However, most of us have people around us to give good advice. Somewhere along the line, we all have at least one person that reaches out to us and attempts to help us follow the right path through life. But just like the end of the "10 Commandments," someone can lead you to the promise land and show you where its at, but the decision is up to you from that point on as to what kind of life you decide to lead.

     As I have followed so many friends this past year, a know a lot of you have had challenges, health concerns and even the loss of loved ones.  However, keep in mind that this weekend there will be a beautiful celebration in Heaven.  Jesus Christ died to help us through the difficulties of this world and to give us an opportunity for forgiveness.  No matter what we are faced with, the Lord knows our need.  One of the hardest things in life is faith and that's something that we all need to keep.

     May God bless all of you this Easter. And as you watch "The Ten Commandments" tonight, I hope my version will bring all of you a little laughter.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I believe that one of the blessings God gives us are memories. The difficult memories have taught us lessons and made us stronger. The fond memories remind us of good times and give us courage to face tomorrow.

We all have great memories of things that have happened in our lives. We all go through tough times, but most of us have many more good memories than bad ones. I have a strange memory. I can remember extraordinary details from as young as 3 years old, but I will go to the grocery store to get 3 things and forget 2. I can remember before I started school, sitting in Mema Cameron’s kitchen and eating Corn Flakes with sugar and bananas. At the time, Corn Flakes had pictures on the backs of boxes of famous historical figures. Mema saved a bunch of them and would hold them up while I ate and ask me who they were and what did they do. I remember Columbus, Eli Whitney, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, etc. When I started school, I did not understand why everyone else did not know who these people were. I mean, didn’t everyone eat Corn Flakes?

My life at home growing up was incredibly entertaining. Before “Reality TV”, I lived on one of those shows. I did not have typical parents. Deddy was funny without trying. Mama could turn a 15 minute trip to the grocery store into a 2 hour story! Travis and I always had something going on. Many a night was spent in Mema and Papa Brafford’s yard playing football with Sammy Ray. We used to love going to Marshall and Kevin’s to ride bicycles and “play.” One of my favorite stories about my Papa Brafford is about a time when Travis, Sammy Ray and I were riding to the store with him. He stopped and spoke to a gentleman who was putting up mailboxes with his children. In good humor, the gentleman said, “That’s not much help you have today with you is it Mr. Brafford?” Without cracking even a slight smile, Papa responded, “It’s a lot damn better than what you have helping you!” When the gentleman was laughing it off, he put the truck in “drive” and we rode away. Of course, Travis, Sammy Ray and I were about to blow a gasket laughing. Even Papa got tickled and said, “Well, the truth is the truth.”

My Papa Cameron passed away when I was in the 8th grade. One of the most important things to Papa was for his grandchildren to get an education. Ironically, the day he died, we had a huge ice storm and schools were closed so we didn’t have to miss any days. He passed away in 1987 and only recently did my Mema Cameron look at his wallet and she let Travis do that. In his wallet were 3 pictures of me and my cousin Marshall. I was 3 years old and Marshall was 2. He had been carrying those pictures in his wallet since 1976, because he had written the date on the back of each picture. Although he died from cancer, his demise is not what I remember. What I remember are the many good times we enjoyed during his life. The bigger we got, the more he loved to joke with us. By the time he passed away, Marshall and I were about as big as he was. He loved to ball his fist up and shake it at us and say, “You see that right there, I can whoop you in about 10 seconds.” I would tell him he couldn’t whoop me if he tied my arms behind my back. He would respond with incredible laughter. He loved for us to joke with him like that.

I used to work with Deddy’s brick crew every summer. None of those guys would ever come to a baseball game, but the day after every game, they would want to know about the entire game, pitch by pitch. It was so hot during those summers you could barely stand it. I’ll tell you this, if people want a way to motivate children who do not care about school, let them get a hard manual labor job in 90+ degree weather, and they will soon appreciate every opportunity they have. Don’t get me wrong, we need people for every job in America. I also don’t care what that job is, it’s important to make the world go around. But for me, that job made me determined and committed to be dedicated to whatever I did.

I listen to people all the time talk about their lives. We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Sometimes I have a tendency to forget that. But everyone talks about moments in their lives that made a difference. There is so much stress in our lives today. We are constantly worried or concerned about something going on in our lives. But no matter what, we can always recall fond memories. We all have wonderful memories of holidays, family cookouts, birthday parties, etc. Even when you think of people who have passed away and are no longer with us, you almost always think of the good times. I can think of an endless number of good memories about Deddy, but I would have to think harder to come up with a bad one.

Life is filled with highs and lows. But as I get older, it’s obvious to me that people who look for good in others, make every effort to do the right thing, and lead lives of genuine honesty and integrity, live a much happier life than those who don’t. We all know someone who complains constantly. What those people often don’t realize is that the one person they are making the most miserable are themselves. That’s just not a good way to live. Other aspects of life that we always remember are moments that we truly appreciate. The year my father was sick, Jason McPherson called me every single day but 2 and he had a reason he did not call those days and told me beforehand. That’s not something you forget. Jason, his brother Lee and his father had also been planning a trip for several months when Deddy really started to decline. I knew I had to make a decision whether or not I was going to tell him just how critical the situation was before he left. I didn’t want him to cancel his trip, but I knew if I didn’t tell him, he would never forgive me if Deddy died while he was gone. So, with an extraordinary amount of self courage, I rode over to his house and I explained to him how grim things were getting. We sat on his front porch and it’s a moment in my life I’ll never forget. We both had always thought of Deddy as someone who could chew up barb wire and spit out BB’s. To openly discuss his imminent demise was an overwhelming dose of reality for both of us. However, anytime Deddy comes up, we always remember a good or funny story of some sort. We rarely discuss the last few weeks he lived.

I go to one race a year, the “All Star Race” in Charlotte. It’s a big group of family and friends. I enjoy watching the race, telling stories, and having a good time. But I think more than anything else, I go for the memories that we have after each one. Like Uncle Boyd always explaining to us that the drivers today could not hold a candle to the drivers 25 years ago! How in the WORLD could Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch race with Bobby Allison, Bill Elliott, David Pearson, and Cale Yarborough? The answer per Uncle Boyd… “They couldn’t!”

Two of the most important things in this world are money and power. I’m not saying that’s right and I’m not encouraging anyone to live for either of them. I am just making an observation that it’s become the world we live in. But at the end of one’s life, both of those are irrelevant. I’ve never known anyone to wish they could live longer to continue a life of ill repute. We want to live for the people we love, to spend more time with family and friends, and to do more good before our time is up. For my Papa Cameron, the material things in this world were irrelevant the last few weeks he was here. However, what did matter was indicated by the pictures in his wallet. When you think about it, all of our lives are reflective of the pictures we each carry in our own wallets. Don’t ever underestimate how important you are to everyone around you. And trust me, nobody gives a damn about how much money you made or how much power you had, but the pictures they find in your wallet 25 years later remind everyone of all the good you ever did.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Out With the Old and in With the New!

There was a lot to happen in 2013. Once again, much of the news this year was “bad news”. In April, the Boston Marathon was completely disrupted by a bomb that killed three, injured hundreds, and accomplished nothing. Edward Snowden dropped a different bomb on the world by releasing tons of classified information and continues to be a threat to the world. A fertilizer plant in Texas had an explosion that killed 12 people. The weather continues to be more erratic and more devastating. One of the major tragedies of the year was another tornado ripped through Oklahoma killing 19 people. The Affordable Health Care Act had a disastrous debut and continues to have many challenges.

In world news, Syria continued fighting a devastating civil war displacing millions of people. Bashar al-Assad released chemical weapons on his own people before giving them up with pressure from all the super powers. The Philippines was destroyed by Typhoon Hainan killing over 6,000 people and displacing over 3 million.

Some of the things that happened this year were more perplexing than anything. Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto was caught smoking crack, admitted it, and refused to resign. North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un had his Uncle executed and referred to him as “factionalist filth”. So much for family loyalty. Our own government could not come to an agreement on some key issues, so they just shut down for a while. Unlike most people, I actually like this idea. The next time I have a different opinion than someone I work with, I’m going to suggest we just stop working for a month.

Sometimes it seems that we are so used to tragedies and bad news that we are becoming immune to some degree. The news has an obligation to report what is going on, it’s just sad that so much of it is bad.

The IPhone 5S was another headliner for Apple this year. “Blurred Lines” was one of the most popular songs this past year and the video has been viewed on YouTube almost 29 million times. Miley Cyrus stayed in the news all year one way or another. She had decided to separate herself from Hannah Montana and I would say her introduction of “twerking” to the world achieved her goal! Breaking Bad was one of the most talked about TV shows of the year with millions of people tuned in to watch the last season. The Harlem Shake is a craze that is funny no matter who is doing it.

The greatest reliever in the history of baseball, Mariano Rivera, retired this year. "Mo" had one significant pitch, the “cutter”. He was so good at it that even though batters knew it was coming, they still had extreme difficulty hitting it. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series again. I would say the “Curse of the Bambino” has been lifted. The Louisville Cardinals basketball team won the NCAA National Championship even after one of their star players broke his leg with one the worst injuries ever shown on television. The Baltimore Ravens won the Superbowl even though they were underdogs all the way through the playoffs. Auburn beat Alabama on a last second play that may be the greatest ending to a college football game ever.

A lot of good things happened in 2013 too. I’m not Catholic, but the process of choosing a new Pope is fascinating to me. On March 13th, Jore Mario Bergoglio was elected “Pope” and he chose “Francis” as his papal name. With the world watching, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge was born into British royalty in July. Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida. Well, the first person recorded doing it…..Uncle Boyd has done it 8 times, but he didn’t realize it was a big deal. Malala Yousafzai is a little girl who was shot by Taliban militants literally because she wanted to learn how to read. Not only did she survive, she has become one of the most outspoken leaders against terrorism in the world.

For the most part, I’m an optimistic person. Although we see so many bad things happening everyday, and it seems they become more tragic, I still believe there is good in this world. I still believe the United States is the best country in world to live in. Sure, we have issues and problems, but we also still have freedom and opportunity. In the face of tragic events, we pull together and help each other. Adversity seems to bring out the best in all of us to help one another in a crisis.

I saw several postings on Facebook that encouraged people to write down notes of “good things” they do or see throughout the year and put them in a jar. Then at the end of the year, get them all out and read through them to remind yourself of the good things in this world. I think it’s a great idea. However, I would encourage you to take it a step further. When you see someone going through a difficult situation, I would remind you that some words of encouragement can mean the world to a person. Give them a call or if you are not comfortable with that, sit down and write out what you want to say and send that person a card. Make a special effort to donate to something you may not have before. The list of organizations, churches, charities, and goodwill groups that you could donate to is endless. I’m going to tell you something that I hope you will write down and remember this year; “reluctance is not good for anyone”. I realize that when you help someone with a sincere heart, you truly want to make that person feel good. However, I can’t think of a situation where I have done something good that didn’t make me feel good also. Good will is most effective when a lot of people work together. To donate $5 to a group may not seem like a great contribution until you contemplate a million other people doing the same thing.

I hope all of you find success, happiness, and peace in 2014. I hope you make some goals for yourself and are able to achieve those goals. Just because there is so much bad going on in the world, doesn’t mean that we can’t make every effort to do as much good as we can.