MY JOHN MAXWELL WEEKEND

By Terry Carter, Editor

Dr. John C. Maxwell has a worldwide reputation for helping millions as a personal development author and speaker.

What you don’t hear is that he is a bit of a comedian and a magician too.

I enjoyed perhaps the most personal and eye-opening moment in my 34 years of pursuing excellence when the man who prefers to be called John joined some close friends for dinner on Friday night in Los Angeles. It was a rare opportunity to meet and experience the gifts that have inspired John to write nearly 100 books — some he makes fun of now — and offer friendly observations that moved the needle for everyone I spoke with this weekend.

John connects with people almost instantly in any environment as a father or grandfather figure. At 71, he tells jokes on many in the audience, but primarily on himself. I offered him a personal question on Friday and received the most extraordinary answer that night. Then I saw John again teaching a group of leaders on Saturday, and he reinforced and elaborated on his previous answer.

As he says, he is just John, however, his gift of sharing the right wisdom at the right time in a loving, kind way melts through barriers we all carry. Everyone he speaks with feels loved and understood. John’s authenticity and integrity make him the number one, personal development speaker today. Kings, government officials and more invite John to improve their reality.

Now I have attended and even worked backstage at many conferences and seminars to gain wisdom, insight and perspective. I have always learned and am occasionally impressed with great speakers.

But my time with John was deepest personal experience I’ve had in many years. We spoke personally. He answered my most profound questions. John and I had numerous photos taken together; one or two may be on the John C. Maxwell website. He knew me from Friday’s dinner, so I assisted him twice on Saturday in a general session.

As we parted ways Saturday night, I felt uplifted and supported because we became friends. And while John may have only 2.5 million friends on Facebook or Twitter, a special bond was formed that you don’t dismiss.

I am happy to say that our meeting included an offer John made — and I accepted — to be mentored personally by the man know for being a worldwide authority on success, leadership and change. I cannot explain what that will do in the future as I am willing to share his best information with my closest associates.

End result: Here’s to knowing the future, envisioned in detail and vivid colors in my mind and now scaled beyond 10x by John C. Maxwell. I will responds promptly by altering the world around me as I know it today.

It’s called Major League Mojo. A tidal wave of momentum, if you prefer.

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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.

BEFORE I DIE…

By Terry Carter, Editor

I just finished watching a 6-minute video at Ted.com by New Orleans artist Connie Chang. If you are not aware, Ted.com is a popular website where sometimes inspiring, sometimes groundbreaking ideas are shared in short snippets. Many are calls to action.

Connie’s talk centered around a large chalkboard put up in a neighborhood with the beginning of a sentence and space for the community to fill in their personal answer. The introduction is: Before I Die, I Will…  The website for is http://www.BeforeIDie.cc

While the chalkboard allowed for one line of handwritten completion, many scrawled entries beyond the formal spacing. The canvas was filled in fewer than 24 hours. Now you can find “Before I Die…” walls in Houston and around the world.

In support of Connie’s idea to transform a rundown, abandoned home into a constructive location, I want to chip in my input. I am confident that it too will exceed the formal spacing allowed although it may not match the first signer Connie highlighted. That was a man dressed as a pirate, scribbling: “I want to be TRIED FOR PIRACY.”

Still, here is my personal list.

Before I die, I want to:

  1. Live my life fueled by hope, faith and love
  2. Inspire greatness through God’s will
  3. Show love, appreciation daily to my outstanding, wise and talented children
  4. Celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary with the only woman in my world
  5. Break 35 minutes in a 5K run — hopefully all downhill and with a gale force wind
  6. Write more than 25 books
  7. Play golf in the United Kingdom with Rory, Jordan and Tom Watson
  8. Financially support life-changing organizations like: Archway Academy, Cornerstone Recovery, the American Diabetes Association, The Bruce Lee Foundation and many more
  9. Contribute to world peace with my unique gifts
  10. Share positive family stories for my children to cherish and my grandchildren to adore hearing

Friends, my list is a bit extreme, I admit. But I have always dreamed of accomplishing great things. My wish for you is that you will join me in posting your “Before I Die” list. 

HAPPINESS TO SHARE

By Terry Carter, Editor

As parents, tradition says we will adore our kids when they are very young, teach them when they are willing and withstand the rebellious years until they move on (not .org).

My wife and I are nearing our 29th wedding anniversary, and our offspring are fully sprung. That is, they all have their own lives and homes outside ours — and they are 21+ years old. None have children yet. So Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are just opportunities to give the parentals a hug one more time from their 20-something mindset, I imagine.

Just wait until you children arrive, my children. Then those holidays will mean more to you. With luck kindness and generosity will be key traits you teach your young ones. If so, the rewards are well received on all holidays. 

But tonight I mention traditional values like love. As my son celebrated his epic birthday this weekend, I already see a great man who is capable of achieving any goal — as all of our children are. Of course all parents think their kids are the greatest thing on Earth, and I signed up for that class three decades ago.

Children are what makes life most enjoyable. As they grow, they are curious about everything. They are happier than anyone, and they are so honest. Then comes the heredity: Children are adorable, funny and unique from their siblings. It is truly a gift from God to have three healthy, brilliant and beautiful/handsome and well-adjusted children in the world today. 

We are so thankful for their leadership, their compassion, their peace and their chosen paths in life. I doubt I could have selected any of their current journeys at birth, but I am consistently impressed by what they done and their ambitions for the future. One has lived in Hawaii for years after buying a 1-way ticket. One helps save lives each day and has participated in a national rally in Washington D.C. And another found her true love, married and has been to Paris for her honeymoon.

I write for a living. But these three tales of three outstanding young adults keep me filled with hopes and dreams every time I think of them. Grown children rarely are told that they are wonderful and a gift from God — but they certainly are.

I know I speak for all parents — even those who mumble or whisper their “I love you” when I say this to my children: You are loved, and love lasts forever. Greatness lies within you, and you are already on your path to a great mountain. Always aim high, dream big. 

Then pack for an exciting journey, for success is not reaching a picturesque destination. No, success is taking a worthwhile journey requiring personal growth, hard work, endurance, peace and faith. You will reach 100 destinations on the journey. Enjoy each step, each stopover and each barrier. Greatness is not handed to anyone. It arrives after the hard work, after the pain. You are great, and your greatness arrives from journeys and challenges. Face them and solve them. It’s part of the growing-up, being-independent thing we all deal with.

Happy birthday, Bobby. I’m so proud of you doing things your way.

LOVE IS WHAT MAKES LIFE WORTH LIVING

1 Corinthians 13:4-7: 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

By Terry Carter, Editor

To me, love is the eternal feeling we get when another person accepts us in totality for who we are — and who we can be. And no, your loved one doesn’t want to marry the status quo individual, who is still playing beer pong at age 60 as they did in college.

It may have worked at age 21, but you are wiser now. Right?

The challenge is the agape love so popular in church does not translate smoothly into the real world — without Major League discipline. I have heard many parents and spouses using the “I will love you if… ” phrase in an attempt to manipulate their loved one. Conditional love is  a cruel weapon centered around withholding love if the person making demands does not get his/her way. And it typically falls from the lips of someone who was hurt themselves or was threatened in a similar way as a youth.

Don’t be that person who says, “I don’t love you” for any reason. It’s an immature and selfish thought prompted by anger. While many people inspire rage, it’s better to let God work on them. Follow a better path, and you can be loved even when you make mistakes as we all do. And, no, I am not condoning cheating idiots who don’t deserve a second chance. Let common sense rule for the cheaters who don’t realize a good relationship when they have it.

Most of you have seen a parent chastising their “loved one” about some bad decision and concluding with a rant like this: I cannot believe you did that. If you love me, you better do what I want — or else! If you don’t, you will be sleeping in the backyard forever — you ungrateful, fat cow!

It’s the battle of the selfish children at that point. The biblical verse above defines a more mature, selfless view of love. And I and very thankful I only dive into this cesspool on very rare occasions when my blood sugar is below 60. For non-diabetics, I pray you never have to resort to such conditional threats.

If your lover truly loved you — and you knew it in your heart, mind and soul — unconditional love would be your only inspiration when speaking. It’s a shame we all thought  we were in love at age 12-16 when our brains had not yet conceived what makes love work. Fact is, most teenage guys think they are in love when any girl walks by. And teenage girls are not far behind. But that is not love. It’s a bit less long term.

Just proves that one sign of puberty does not a man nor a woman make. The maturity required to thrive as an adult male or female takes another 8-25 years to decipher. Many of us still have our child-like side intact — just in case a ball game or a temper tantrum breaks out.

On to signs of true love then. Is love truly patient and kind? Yes. Does love really meet all of the descriptions listed above? Yes. 

Do men and women meet those strict rules when they fall in love? Seldom. But it can be done if you follow My 6 Simple Rules of True Love:

  1. Remember,  you are always on a first date with your loved one — even if you have been together for 80 years. Show the courtesy, respect, interest in and admiration for that special person you did when you had to dress to impress and be on your best behavior. We know that won’t last all week, but it’s a good impression that counts first. After that, good taste can lead you elsewhere.
  2. Love is a verb. Show love in all of your actions. Don’t start a food fight, leave garbage on the floor and ignore the dirty dishes. Lighten their load by helping, easing their mind, and doing more than your share. Going the second mile was not a recommendation just for Jesus. It works miracles in marriages too.
  3. Be more powerful than you realize.  I remember hearing a tale of a woman whose  husband left her for another woman years before. The dedicated wife mourned in a unique way: She set out a plate, the best silver wear and glasses she had for 2 people each night — and ate dinner alone for more than 1,000 nights. She set out clean, pressed clothes for her long-gone husband, but he did not pick them up. Then one day, he arrived home about dinner time. He saw a shining plate, silver wear and a goblet, and a well-cooked meal, waiting for him next to his spouse. Pleasantly surprised, he entered the home, sat down and began to eat. He stayed because he was anticipated at home and welcomed when he arrived back. He never left again. With a vision of what you want to happen in your life, not even a deserting spouse can stop you from achieving your goal. Athletes visualize great plays, great shots. This woman visualized a happy husband eating dinner with her every night. It can be done.
  4. Dream big dreams. Make your days together special and memorable. I don’t mean just the first year either. Try dance classes together. Try skydiving. Try golf, tennis, snorkeling, different clothes, food, haircuts. Variety — even with the same person — strengthens relationships. And no one can say they are bored. 
  5. God gave us hope, faith and love to get us through the hard times. So hope for the best in your date, your relationship, your spouse. Have faith that God will grant you a life of adventure, character-building exercises and fun together. And love each other because every mountaintop and every valley is better when you arrive with someone you love. Enjoy each moment knowing that love is the absolute greatest gift you will know in this life. And thank God for that.
  6. Remember, most of all, your love will only be eternal if you make it so. Make it happen each moment and each day. And in 50 years, both of you will want to do it all over again. If you do it right, I promise you will want more time together. But it is a 2-way street, and both parties must be willing to go the second mile for each other. Fear, stubbornness and hatred cloud the purity of love. Clear a path and run toward each other — do not hide in your own inadequacies.

RESOLVE: FIND BEAUTY IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS 

By Terry Carter, Editor

What do you look for in a relationship? 

Appearance? Age? Financial status? A sense of humor? Maturity? Common Interests? Fitness? Some settle for the sex appeal and suffer crash-and-burn endings in short order. In the end, there are the immature fools who believe they are old enough to date — and there are the others who want to find a lasting, loving relationship. For the latter group, we can all learn from our relationships and our attitudes during those interactions. The former may not learn a thing.

I can safely say that everyone has beauty within and love to share with the right person. Your mission? Find and encourage their beautiful character to be revealed. But it’s not that easy, is it? If you have dated two people in your life, you know that is true.

While all of these traits listed aboved can be positives, your attitude is the primary key to finding a relationship that will last in today’s freelance, pre-nup dating era. Your attitude — and the other person’s attitude, of course. No individual can find a great relationship without the participation of a second interested party. It does take two to tango; one lonely person cannot create a healthy relationship by wanting it desperately.

Do you simply follow today’s declining moral values and date around for benefits? That may not be the intention of the majority of daters, however, it is the end game of many who date around. 

If you have not truly fallen head-over-heels in love with The One yet, take a better path to finding love if you are ready for a long-term relationship.

I suggest the following to improve your odds…