Uncharted Territory and the Road Ahead

Whatever challenges you may face, whatever circumstances are weighing you down you can choose your response…. How you live your life is totally up to you.  It’s not dependent on your circumstances, it’s dependent on your choices. ~~ Joel Osteen

I have a young, teenaged friend “CJ” who over the last eight months I’ve come to know. He was far from his home, family and friends and looking for a new life. I like him. He’s tall, 6’4″ personable and outgoing. An all-American kidCJ002a  from a small town in south-central Texas (population 857). He’s been referred to as an “18-year old man.” The reality is he’s just a kid and, like a lot of 18-year olds, restless, self-assured, a little cocky, but naïve nevertheless. CJ has no lack of confidence. The last few times I’ve seen him (most recently earlier this week), as we said goodbye, I would routinely say to him — somewhat tongue-in-cheek — “Stay out of trouble CJ!” He’d reply with something like “All is good” and be on his way. Little did we realize how much trouble he would soon find himself in. Life has a way of changing dramatically with the passage of a few brief moments and seemingly unrelated, foolish choices.

Yesterday my young friend was charged with Murder in the First Degree accused with a 20-year old companion, whom he’d just met, in the brutal bludgeoning death of a man in a nearby community. This is new, uncharted territory for me, something I was unprepared for. I find myself uncertain how to react and even a bit lost for the right words. How I wish I could have seen the road ahead! I feel bad that I didn’t do more. I should have contacted CJ’s parents as I watched his downward spiral. No… things aren’t always as they appear. But instead I chose to think, “He’s a good kid, he’ll grow up. It’s a stage. He can take care of himself.”

CJ and I sat together and talked a lot, many times while I worked on previous blogs. I enjoyed his company. It was an education to learn from him the distractions, challenges and temptations he and his peers live with. I already knew about most of them but, with CJ we talked specifics.

While I honestly worried about his welfare, I had faith in his abilities to conquer his youthful impulses and to find for himself the right path. From his narrow perspective and among his crowd, he was “normal … things are cool.” I understood his thinking but I knew it wasn’t true and I told him so. In CJ I saw potential — rays of hope — and a better life ahead, but ultimately I knew he was in control, as he liked it, as he wanted it. Besides, is it really any of my business? I have my own problems, my own children and who am I? Especially when CJ and I really have so little in common? But then again, No Man is an Island and CJ will remain my friend.

One thing in all of this is certain… no one should forget the victim, Rich Bergeson, whose life was brutally and so needlessly taken and to whom the video at the link below pays tribute. The reality is, there are many other victims as well. Along with all the affected families and friends whose lives would intersect in such a tragic meeting, I am but one of them, and together we cry, knowing our lives will never again be the same.

Another day of work, another paycheck. The future is looking bright.
Christopher John “CJ” Shade, 20 August 2014

Click on this link for more about this story

Not Enough Words

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness …” ~~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Three of my sons and I were together a couple of times this past week. It’s been a long time. The oldest lives in São Paulo Brazil, while another is in Los Angeles, and my youngest in Provo, Utah. All are leading busy lives. Going to school, working jobs, building empires.

During my last visit with just my son Matt, before he returned to São Paulo on Saturday, we talked about how people believe we live in the worse of times. Blame it on the media we agreed. With modern technology, news stories, photos and videos from any part of the world comes to us in an instant and on devices we carry in our pockets. It’s not like it was when I was growing up. In those days, there was but a single daily newscast from the television networks, then just ABC, CBS or NBC. Local broadcast news was just as sparse and none of them more than half-an-hour. Radio was more in-depth, but there were no pictures! That was it for broadcasting, no smartphones, no alerts, no nothing! Add the daily newspapers, where it was believed the most informed would get their fill of current events. The Washington Post, The Evening Star were thick dailies and hugely powerful companies. That was then, this is now.

What we knew about the world was limited and not very timely.  The world seemed a much larger place and we were insulated from its harsh realities, while now we have become desensitized to the same. No one could have imagined what we were in-store for. Certainly our grandparents lived in simpler times, but in reality we aren’t living in the worse of them. However, with the dissemination of what goes on around us so readily available and graphic, we often think otherwise.

Continue reading

Favorite Quotes Friday – 6/20/2014

Like hundreds of thousands of others, I’ve read many of the entries and watched the videos on the Facebook page Mitchell’s Journey. It’s always an emotional and painful experience, but knowing that, I still go back.

Ten-year old Mitchel Dee Jones lost his battle to a devastating childhood disease last year, but Mitchel’s Journey continues here on earth as it surely does elsewhere… thanks to his father.

Some resist the notion there is a God, that humans are a biological anomaly in the vast universe. Others say God and Heaven are imaginary constructs for weak-minded people. A great many believe there is more to life than meets the eye – they don’t know what, or who, why or how … they just sense there is more and they follow their impressions the best they know how. The vast religious landscape, in all its forms, seems to speak loudly that human’s sense there is more. And more there certainly is. ~~ Chris Jones, Father of Mitchel Jones

Mitchell’s Journey

Favorite Quotes Friday – 6/06/2014

I’ve written about living in the present, stopping to smell the roses, enjoying what life has for us today, no matter how much better we wish it were. Count each day as a blessing no matter what. It is a gift those who are gone wish they still had.

We have a tendency to trample on our lives by regretting the past, dreading the future, or living only for the future… We’re always living somewhere but this present moment. ~~ Peter Matthiessen, Filmaker

Favorite Quotes Friday – 4/25/2014

Someone once said, “Hope is the cruelest of the evils that escaped Pandora’s box.” But there’s a differing perspective to that thought as expressed by a 19th century self-help author. In his mid-forties Orison Marden narrowly escaped losing his life in a hotel fire. The blaze destroyed nearly fifteen years of the fruits of his labor with the loss of over 5000 pages of manuscripts he had written. A contemporary wrote:  Having nothing but his nightshirt on when he escaped from the fire, he went down the street to provide himself with necessary clothing. As soon as this had been attended to, he bought a twenty-five cent notebook, and, while the ruins of the hotel were still smoking, began to rewrite from memory the manuscript of his dream book. Despite being overwhelmed and heartbroken, rather than give up, he moved forward.

That book Pushing to the Front was published in 1894 and became at the time the single greatest runaway classic in the history of personal development books. It was read by U.S. presidents and English Prime Minsters. Businessmen like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan cited his work as inspirational. Orison went on to write fifty or more books and booklets during his career. In 1897 he created Success Magazine which continues today with a monthly circulation of 500,000. Marden is considered the inspiration for dozens of modern authors of self-help and motivation. While each of his books produced dozens of famous quotes, this is just one of them.

There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow. ~~ Orison Swett Marden

Favorite Quotes Friday – 3/28/2014

I shared this quote a couple of years ago in this forum. It came from a distant cousin of mine who reminds us to remember when you wake each morning, it’s a brand new day!

My cousin’s name is Marion. He was a big man, like many in my family are. A masculine kind of a guy larger than life. My family and friends loved him, and so did I. He was all-American and symbolized our family values. This quote appears on his headstone. My cousin was born Marion Robert Morrison and would become an American icon known as the legendary actor John Wayne.

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.