WINNING THE GAME OF LIFE, Part 1: Seeing the Unknown

By Terry Carter

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I briefly but adamantly refused to believe that I was going to be taking insulin injections at the tender age of 11 after becoming pretty good in three sports.

My emotions ran rampant because, at the time, this chronic disease tended to own people’s lives, wreaking havoc with both high and low blood sugars and eventually ending their lives prematurely. The doctors not only restricted me to a hospital bed for 30 days, but they also gave me two pieces of news I considered heartbreaking: First, at age 11, I would probably only live 50 more years if — and only if — I took excellent care of my body. Second, I was told would need to return to the hospital soon for more testing and probably surgery on a lump in my neck.

When I imagined how terrible this surgery and disease could rule my life, I responded with complete denial. Not because of the facts, but because of the story I created in my head. The more I looked at the situation and my older brother, who had become diabetic seven months before me, the less I wanted to live with this.

My mom, a registered nurse, responded quickly to my initial signs of a high blood sugar. She was well versed on caring for the ill and played a key role in teaching us to deal with our mandatory, new habits imposed by the diabetic gods.

My dad, a brilliant man in his own right, resorted to blaming the dog for somehow sending diabetes to us.

Regardless I was paralyzed at age 11 for years because of my fears after being a top athlete, an academic leader and a person who stood up for others in our school. Several of my better qualities became overshadowed for years by fears I created about my situation.

Did diabetes cause me to be isolated, shy or less academically advanced? In retrospect, that answer is obvious to me. And I slowly climbed out of my dungeon to marry my sweetheart and contribute to a quality family and a better life. Now with the help of experts, I am making strides toward impacting the world before my time is gone.

In your life, things have also happened that have altered who you truly are. How do you counter a rough childhood, a bully, an abuser, a threat or the burnout that seems so popular among our culture?

I have learned some unique information that may help.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this special series…

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VOICES OF REASON AND LOVE ARE LOST

By Terry Carter, Editor

Another voice of reason and love was lost recently. This time, a good man passed away after a planned heart surgery went awry.

A week later, my aunt passed away, leaving many in shock because her life too had been an example of how to help others in good times and bad

Sweeny Jamison Doehring set an example for nearly everyone in our church. I knew him as Mr. Dependable, someone we could all count for wisdom, kindness and a Christian view on life. He was an Aggie’s Aggie, so we at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church honored him by wearing Texas A&M gear to his special event at church.

We will miss you, J. And we pray that your family stays strong, united and productive as they are also our family.

My aunt passed away in Richmond, Indiana, and I miss her dearly. She was the voice of peace and fun when I was young and our family visited during the summers. Mert was one of a kind. She was always kind, considerate and would give you the last piece of food in her home if you even looked hungry.

I recall my family of five driving from Michigan to Richmond one summer when I was perhaps nine years old. We arrived in the evening, unpacked, settled in and enjoyed a great, four-course meal prepared by my grandmother.

Early the day, my Aunt Mert called with great enthusiasm to invite the three Carter brothers on an expedition she had researched and thought we might enjoy. I specifically remember mentioning this in vague terms to my not-quite-awake, older brothers, who said something akin to “No thanks.” When I told Mert thanks, but no thanks and hung up, I turned around to find myself nose-to-nose with the most powerful person in the State of Indiana, in my opinion.

And that power force in my life, my grandmother, raised her voice just slightly for emphasis, saying that was a mistake to take Aunt Mert for granted. Then she suggested in no uncertain terms that no one should ever turn down an invitation from Mert again.

As I turned to call Mert back and apologize, the phone rang. My determined aunt had already taken days off of work in preparation for our visit to Indiana. And she called back with the second of probably 30 events she wanted us to enjoy. She never quits, which I find a valuable quality in life. This time Mert suggested a day outdoors picking strawberries — and eating as many as you want — for free.

Having learned my lesson for the day, I committed all three brothers without their permission and off we went. It became one of the strongest and best memories I have about vacationing in Indiana with my family. Thank you, Mert. I love you and everyone in this amazing family.

Mert also seemed to host card games every night, ranging from Gin Rummy to Euchre, at her home. Those were great times, innocent times and the best of times for this young man.

LIVE WITH VISION; DO NOT DIE WITHOUT HAVING LIVED

By Terry Carter, Editor

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die — and then dies having never really lived.” 

— James J. Lachard, on what is most surprising about humanity

The summary above describes the average day, year and life of the average person who is working hard and getting ahead in the 21th century. Some work to make money. Some to fill time. And others don’t work at all. They seem to play for 8-12 hours each day, enjoying each challenge, each event, each interaction they have while pursuing their life’s work.


That person, if you study the details carefully, is not unusual, nor a rebel. He is hard working, perhaps so busy he does not make time for family dinners, teaching his children to play ball or drive the car. He may have stayed at the office late to make financial ends meet, to afford a family vacation or to consider retiring late in life. It’s easy to justify the actions because nearly all of us have ignored what is actually more essential — in hindsight — to pay attention to the task at hand.

The fictional character described in the first paragraph dies having missed the reason and the joy of why he lived. He was so driven by societal means goals to “work hard to get ahead” and “promotions come to those with seniority” that he worked beyond the patience of his friends and family, who wanted him to have fun. At the end of his life, he will be well remembered for his work, but the end goals of joy, love, amazement and surprise were planned out of this type of life. 

Nearly everyone grew up pursuing means goals, including “get a college degree,” “work for one company during your career” and “marry once for life.” Of the 350 high school graduates from my high school, I suspect perhaps 30-40 percent did not receive a college degree, 95 percent did not work for just one company in the past 30 years, and perhaps 70 percent have exceeded the once social norm of one spouse per lifetime.

In the 1980s, no one mentioned end goals, such as climbing the tallest mountains on each continent or being surrounded by love daily, as they are primarily emotion-based that will make us happy or satisfied. End goals are about “following your heart,” Vishen Lakhiani writes in his book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. 

Means goals typically take us another step toward a place that our elders or society suggests will make us happy, But there are stipulations and complications. See how this sounds:  You should get a college degree…so you can get a good career… so you can retire. Then you will be happy. As many of us know, the college degree put us in debt and 4-8 years older. The career allowed us to pay off the debt and afford a family and some lifestyle. The retirement, however, is not as likely as we imagined as teenagers.


Stop during your work week and look at your career as you walk or hurry through the day and the deadlines. Do you feel energized to go to work today? Did you spring out of bed this morning because of how great today will be? If not, why not? For each day is only as special as we make it.

We need to dig and change our software and hardware to bring computers to the market. And we need to do the same with ourselves. Ask yourself a few questions to see if your means goals are in line with your end goals. If they are, then your path may have been perfect for you. I have had to re-adjust my path several times due to changes in the economy (new hardware), new information I have uncovered (new software) and unpredictable events. These questions are taken from Lakhiani’s book, regarding all areas of our lives including relationships, spiritual, healthy and intellectual growth, careers, family and communities:

  1. What experiences do you want to have in this lifetime? The in-depth question is: If time and money were of no object and I did not have to seek anyone’s approval, what kinds of experiences would my soul crave?
  2. How do you want to grow? The in-depth question here is: In order o have the experiences above, how do I have to grow? What sort of person do I need to become?
  3. How do you want to contribute? The follow-up question is: If I have the experiences above and have grown in these remarkable ways, how can I give back to the world?


Answer me this, and your frustration with day-to-day work will vanish because we will begin to unlock your vision. A person who works to accomplish their vision never works as we know work. He or she enjoys every moment, brings light to dark rooms, shares and helps everyone who wishes to grow. 

Perhaps you are happy with your work and your life. But studies reveal that 80 percent of us are dissatisfied and just putting in time deposit the check. And the check simply vanishes to the bills that are due. 

This, my friends, is not why we are here on Earth. We are here to do so much more than pay bills, complain in the break room and break rules when no one is looking. 

Are you ready to grow, change and stretch those wings to fly? Be one with the wave and grow forever. Walk the narrow bridge on the highest mountain, and let us discover the thrill of victory at the summit.

ASK BIG, PRAY BIG, LIVE BIG  

  • EACH DAY YOU CHOOSE EITHER A SLAVE MENTALITY OR GOD’S ABUNDANT MENTALITY

By Terry Carter, Editor

When we hear of a friend or relative speak of a blessing, an opportunity or a miracle in their life, why do we doubt that a great gift could exist for them?

Is God unable to hear our prayers and bless us in special ways? No, God hears all of us, but some prayers – like the ones Pastor Joel Osteen spoke of recently – seem to remain unanswered. And like most of you, I feel frustrated without instant gratification of my prayers. What Paster Joel Osteen recently mentioned during a televised sermon is changing my mind regarding routine ideas, prayers in my life because they often orginate from a limited or “slave mentality.”

When we pray, do we ask God to keep us alive through a tough time or to keep our old car running? Those are weak prayers. By asking and praying big, I suggest you ask God not to become a better slave in your current life. Ask to become a better dreamer, a better achiever, a better go-getter, to set a new standard for this generation. 

How big are your dreams? Ask big today!


Our God is the God of abundance, and you cannot reach your fullness in life without asking for and pursuing your biggest dreams. In order to reach grand dreams, you must first begin to think great thoughts and envision greatness in your life.

 Now will God make you rich, famous and fabulous just so you can look good on the red carpet? It is unlikely you will be blessed greatly despite a strong prayer unless you also tell God that you will give back and help others.

The Book of James 4 describes praying a sick prayer, a weak prayer or a prayer for the wrong motives that seems to go unanswered. Joel suggests that asking God for big dreams and miracles is exactly what the Lord wants.

When we ask God, we acknowledge that He and Jesus can do the impossible. When the blind men called out to Jesus, Jesus asked them what they wanted

You are God’s prized creation, the apple of His eye. Joel suggested asking Him daily for your biggest dreams like it is your special birthday. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you treasure. Be bold enough to ask. Ask big in child-like faith, and there will be times when God will show you miracles even though it looks impossible in your eyes.


God said you are to reign over your life – not hide in the shadows hoping the poverty, pain and desperation will subside one day.  What you do will prosper and grow abundantly, based on The Bible. The Lord will give you the desires of your heart if you “ask for explosive blessings.”

So why do so many of us back away from helping friends and chasing our dreams? I have seen good christian people turn their back on a friend who is offering needed help or an opportunity. Often their reasoning for rejecting the gift is unsupported by facts, but I suspect they lack an inspired dream – or they are too embarrassed or complacent to improve their situation.

Sitting on the sidelines and watching the world go by is not God’s plan for us. We are directed to seek out and pursue Godly, inspired dreams, missions, achievements. I believe we should look for inspiration each day in nature, in music, in art, in people, in love, in friends, in business and much more. 

Regardless of your sex, dimensions, skin color, education, you were created for greatness. Either you pursue that every day, or you avoid it by running away from inspiring moments, great people and life-altering events. Will you boldly ask for blessings and go where no man, woman or child has gone before?


My next area of greatness will never be reached by me if I sit at home watching TV each night. Because big ideas come true for others, I know I can also strive for better results and perhaps great memories. Success will never be a destination. It is simply a journey I am taking up a tall, amazing mountain slope where the view improves with each step I take. 

Success is reached daily by moving – sometimes falling – forward. I am traveling on this global quest with many inspired friends, and the comradery makes the sore legs and stumbles all the more memorable. They are quality people with big dreams, big prayers and big needs – all of which Jesus can meet at the right time. And failure is a healthy part of success – don’t think you can reach the pinnacle of life without hard work and failure.

Perhaps our journey together would be even better if our prayers also became fearless as we pray for dynamic miracles to help millions of people insteadof hundreds of people. For we are all humans, and each of us is a miracle worthy of great prayers, great blessings, great healing, great recovery, great strides and great achievements that may shock our own families.

But for the one small child who today decides that she will be the first Master’s Degree in her family, I say, congratulations. See it today. Chase it each day, week and year – and your life’s successes will begin today and never stop. You can climb higher and higher on the journey to success. Their is not summit – just more joy and challenge ahead.

See the biggest dream, and go get it.

A STORY OF BLESSED LIFE

By Scott Thornton, Guest Editor

I have read The Bible approximately 15 times now, and I am consistently amazed at the detailed stories of miracles, faith and history that fill the pages.

But lately I am called to read and re-read the Book of Luke, which begins with the story of John the Baptist’s birth and the connection between John’s mother, Elizabeth, and her relative Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. If you have not read this story recently, open your Bible to Luke and study it carefully. It will bring you to tears if you understand the blessing and joy Elizabeth received  after decades of being unable to deliver a child for her husband.

Six months after Elizabeth was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would have a son who would be great and filled with the Holy Spirit, Mary received a similar conversation with the Angel Gariel. Elizabeth was told to name this son John, which was not a family name. That created some conflict as her husband Zechariah had been silenced during the pregnancy for not believing Gabriel when he delivered this good news to the priest Zechariah some nine months earlier. Fortunately both parents had been told by Gabriel to name the baby boy John.

When Zechariah was asked about this at the circumcision, he wrote that the boy should be called John, and then he was able to speak again. 

After Mary had been blessed with the life of Jesus, she traveled to be with her relative Elizabeth during the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. When Mary entered Zechariah and Elizabeth’s home and greeted the expectant mother, the Book of Luke states that the baby “leaped in her womb and Elizabether was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

The two mothers-to-be spoke like each knew the other’s holy secret already. It must have been an amazing time in their family as they exchanged stories that no one else has ever experienced. Both women were blessed with remarkable fortune and children who are famous across the world. It was a great day in their village.

According to Luke, John the Baptist was born approximately six months before Jesus was born to Mary. And John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were related through their mothers! Never heard that announcement before in church, and I have been oblivious to the holy connection until now. For decades I always remembered the story of John the Baptist started halfway through his life as he was preaching of repentance. I initially believed his was a loner, ranting in the wildness who eventually became more persuasive as leaders have done before.

Somehow  I overlooked one of the most blessed events – and the miraculous nature of the birth and upbringing of John. 

With that knowledge, John’s passion, his works and his meeting with Jesus carry amplified significance. That was truly a troubled time to believe in Christ.

But simultaneously, it was the best of times to see the Miracles of God, the life of the Holy Son and a significant bit player who warned the world to clean up its act quickly. Clearly there were differences between them, but both were filled with the Holy Spirit and guided by the Father. And both died horribly to fulfill a sacred mission for us.

And we – either has historians or Godly people – will recall their stories for all time.