New Year’s Eve, along with weddings and most formal gatherings, is a time for toasts. Elegant words strung together, expressing out highest thoughts and fondest wishes. Usually the words are for another, occasionally for all present. I cannot recall ever having heard a toast for only the one speaking. I hope I never do; it would take the purpose out of the toast!

I wonder how toasts will change in the future. Will they become, on the whole, more humorous or witty? Will they be led by as many women as men? Will they be dominated by a particular refrain? Is their time past; in the future will we see less rather than more of these simple yet potential memorable moments? read more

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Ys in the Road

Decision points in life come in the moment and then occasionally along the way. This may sound confusing at first but follow the sequence. We make most our decisions without even thinking. There should be no doubt in our minds that these decisions, especially the ones taken when nobody is looking, reflect our true values and priorities. When one stacks these decisions up one will see a pattern indicates the exact destination. Occasionally there are direction-shifting choices that sit waiting. We know that they are here. We even assume we know why they are important. Yet rarely do we understand completely why they are critical. It is hard to tell the big Ys from little Ys. read more

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I love coaching; everything about it except losing. Yet winning isn’t the most important thing in coaching, at least in my book. Coaching is about getting the best out of people, raising the standard from the last time one attempted a particular task, and working together. Helping others succeed is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

When I think of coaching, different coaching styles come to mind. A favorite to talk about, while I am running as far and as fast as I can away from it on a personal level, is the rant, rave, and throw chairs coaching style. This approach never builds relationships and community. This approach rarely draws people to it except when “winning” is the outcome desired about all else. It is the relational equivalent of a Machiavellian strategy. Nothing matters along the way except for the destination. read more

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New Year is a time for new resolutions, fresh commitments, and a renewed sense of purpose. Unless one reflects the opportunities of the future will merely be repeats of the past. As I look around the small circle of homes where we live I find myself seeing the future through very different eyes.

What would it be like to be nineteen with everything and anything open to you in the future? What would I do with what I know now? Is there anything that I could do differently? I look through his and her eyes and I see extraordinary opportunities. I wonder what’s next. read more

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Communities are unusual entities. They exist because people share common experiences, values, or priorities. When these begin to change the community itself begins to self destruct. The process can be quick or slow, all depending on the strength that binds the core group together.

I wonder what the village of Walton on Thames used to be like. What brought the village into existence and caused it to remain. Like many villages the driving forces have vanished and what remains is a collection of people living in a shared space. Ironically there are many churches that have much in common with Walton on Thames. There was a reason they formed but why? It is easy to analyze those remaining, especially the exceptions. You can almost hear the analyst talking; “These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There's nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!” (Jude 1.19) Yet individuals remain, stubbornly refusing to acknowledge what others see as fact. read more

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Dreary English mornings are probably redundant words. The sky’s grayness combined with a light mist automatically means that the moss growing on the brick driveway will continue to strengthen its grip. While the wind blows in yet another storm and the cold permeates the layers I am gathered for protection, I wonder how I am going to muster the courage and strength to tackle the day with hope.

Ironically it is easy to be cynical. The attitudes played out yet again in the darkness of the night speak of indulgence, loneliness, and desperation. The lingering statistic from Christmas is that only three percent of the country attends church with any regularity and I don’t even want to know the percentage of the percentage that actually believe in place that they attend. People see God as being so far away from being relevant I wonder how they even know Divinity exists. “In the last days there will be people who don't take these things seriously anymore. They'll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts.” (Jude 1.18) Nothing is sacred, little remains of tradition, and those who defend it most often model it the least. read more

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Knowing facts doesn’t always make a difference. How many people involved in broken relationships knew the facts before the choice? 100%. What percentage of the population understands the fundamental cause and effect of their actions? An overwhelming majority. In the fundamental building blocks for community how many of them are within our control? Virtually every one. We know, I know, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

It all started when we were young. So the story unfolds with a trail of horror and broken relationships. Far too often the story teller, audience, and parents involved are left with the impression that there is a direct link between parent and child, the old generation to the new and wiser to those impressionable. I have no doubt that there is some link however it may be far more tenuous than one might believe. We are products of our environment. Our environment includes parents, siblings, and friends as well as community. There is no doubt that food and other chemical/biological influencers come into play; and that we are shaped by them far more than we realize. Yet, in the final conclusion, none of these “things” ultimately determines our future; we do. read more

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Big Hats

I love people watching, especially in busy cities. The amazing outfits, walks, and attitudes on displays could be the fodder for some really funny books! One can sit, have a hot drink, and contemplate life while analyzing the people who pass your view. In many ways the less you know about them the better; that way the stories you create in your own mind are a clearer reflection of your soul’s mirror.

I saw a few yesterday. You know that “these are the “grumpers,” the bellyachers, grabbing for the biggest piece of the pie, talking big, saying anything they think will get them ahead.” (Jude 1.16) You could tell it by the clothes and attitude that screamed from their non-verbal conversation. I think it is the walk that talks louder than anything else does. Something in the way that the foot comes off the pavement combined with the height and length of the step says “I’m cool, or at least I think I am”! In most cir4cumstances you also can measure the size and depth of the attitude by the type of hat being worn. In England this is primarily with the women and their fancy outfits, in New York this comes with the men and their bulky floor length coats. read more

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The streets are tough. Nobody gives everything is taken. People help but always with one hand ready to protect should someone try to take advantage of the appearance of vulnerability. We know the strong survive, the weak are consumed. We accept that only the fittest make it.

There is nothing wrong with being tough. Wearing a label that I am strong, fit, and a survivor comes with assumptions. Those on the street are there because they have learned what it takes to survive in a mean world. Street fighters may look calm, cool, and collected yet we know that in the dark moments of the night they are able to take on adversaries in ways that we choose not to know or imagine. What do we actually think happens at night? It is a prayer society with everyone talking through the differences that he and she holds close to their heart? We know the close circuit TV cameras do not deter crime. How do street fighters survive? read more

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As we age, patience grows. It is merely because times goes by more quickly. Our recognition of the time we spend waiting is relatively constant in our minds but now this “time” actually takes much longer. Ironically our frustration remains; the lessons of yesterday appear to remain in yesterday’s mind so we blissfully proceed with their repetition today.

I am a lucky father. I remember the tactics. First the question repeated within increasing frequency – “are we there yet”? It was as if by asking we were decreasing the time until we arrived. When this move did not produce the correct result, very rare, then we began to fidget with the ash-tray lid. Only those who sat by the window could do this which in turn had set everyone on edge because we had fought for the view as we began the trip. Naturally mother, father, two brothers, and my self were already on edge even before the first mile had past! If the questions and fidgeting didn’t work then the only recourse was to pick a fight. If in doubt, either brother would do. I am lucky because my kids seem to either have more patience or have accepted the inevitable time it takes to get from point A to B. read more

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