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Archive for the month “December, 2013”

#8 When The Door Clangs Shut It’s Prison Reality

#8 When the Door Clangs Shut It’s Prison Reality
July 28, 2013

An experience hopefully not repeated for real An experience hopefully not repeated for real

A book I had recently finished coincided with a reality TV show that I was watching! One story was about what was learned from years in prison and the other was about preventing such an experience from happening!

for the complete story click below

#9 Within These Walls I Hear Voices

#9 Within These Walls I Hear Voices
February 19, 2013

Built in 1905

East Hall Built in 1905

When I found out that the old East Campus buildings were coming down I made one last trip to see them and say goodbye.

Click below for the story!

#10 Don’t Block My Blessing

#10 Don’t Block My Blessing
April 6, 2013

"Please no"

Please no”

We always hear about the blessings of giving and in that light I have learned something profound “receiving can be giving too!”

click below for the story!

#11 Grandfather Finds A Home

Grandfather Finds A Home
March 9, 2013

Grandfather and Me

Grandfather and Me

Standing tall by the side of the road next to a TV set was Grandfather. He looked so out of place. Maybe a change of scenery was just what he needed!

The Year In Review 2013 Lightenload Honorable Mentions

These stories were next in line for the most read for 2013. They are listed as Honorable Mentions! I hope that if you read them before that something new will be discovered and if this is the first time that you will be blessed in a special way by the messages!  I have included the links so click and enjoy!

Cheers To Buster
January 26, 2013

Who would ever think that such good could come from a big headed mascot?

Prideful Righteousness
October 5, 2013

We all know the story of the prodigal son. What lessons can we learn from his brother?

Walking The Straight And The Narrow
June 30, 2013

At first I didn’t want to watch this unusually dangerous and seemingly foolish event. Yet when I started watching I discovered a faith so strong it kept me glued to the TV set!

Teammates For Life
June 16, 2013

This is the story of a teammate that went way beyond the call of duty!

The Hummingbird Inn
April 28, 2013

When we visited Branson, Missouri in April we stayed at the Hummingbird Inn Bed and Breakfast and heard an interesting story about the hummingbirds that came there!

Taking A Flying Leap
March 23, 2013

I discovered that it wasn’t a good thing to believe that Big Time Wrestling was real!

November 15, 2013

This was maybe the most powerful message I have ever heard!

The Power Of Love
March 30, 2013

1983 Was a year of miracles! Jim Valvano had one as the basketball coach for North Carolina State! My little miracle was in that year too!

Seasons In The Sun
June 8, 2013

A song in the 1970’s had words that are just as true today!

Missing The School Bus
January 10, 2013

Usually missing the school bus is a bad thing. This particular time I was very glad I missed it!

Lightenload The Year In Review 2013

Time Stock Photo

I can’t believe how fast the year went!  Thanks to you my faithful readers Lightenload is almost two years old!  You don’t know how much you have encouraged me with your comments, retweets, and just the number of you who follow this!  I consider every one of you my friends and I want to encourage first timers to climb aboard!  I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for making anything good that has come out of this possible!

Honestly I can tell you that the ideas of these articles are not planned.  So many times I would wonder what the weekly writing would be about.  Somehow something would happen to me or someone else that would spring an idea.  I know better than to take the credit.  God works in his wondrous ways and he always provides!

I’d like to do this a little differently this year.  I’ll start out with ten honorable mentions.  These were articles that were next in line as far as readership.  I will include them in one package and you can click on the link provided to review each one.  I’m sure that you may have missed a few articles on the way.  This will give you a chance for some nice reading here at the end!  This year there will be eleven in the countdown.  Last year we did a top 10, but the 11th was so close that I decided to expand the list!  I will wind down the list if not daily then every other day until finally on December 31 you can read the #1 story of the year!  So come with me on a spiritual journey again as we revisit 2013 Lightenload one more time!

Empty Shoes

They say that to totally understand what someone is going through you need to walk a mile in their shoes.  The other day I was searching in the basement for something and discovered a pile of my own shoes that I wasn’t wearing anymore.  Some of the shoes were specialty shoes for softball or the gym.  Still others were just shoes that I used to wear but were replaced by another pair I liked better.  Either way I guess I am reluctant to toss out perfectly good shoes just because I don’t wear them anymore.


I was reading an article about shoes the other day.  It seems that even when we were going through the economic downturn the shoe industry stayed strong.  I guess no matter how bad it gets we will always want our shoes.  You will notice that there are people who have a pair of shoes for every outfit that they wear!  I’ve read that there is a psychological high to buying a pair of shoes and that we can justify buying them easier.  Sometimes with purchases we get buyers remorse.  After the high of buying the item the guilt and regret come in.  From what I’ve read it seems that the purchase of shoes can be justified in our minds far easier and the incidence of buyers remorse is far less than normal clothing.

So what is this obsession that we have about shoes?  I read that on average, a woman owns 20 pairs of shoes at any given time. Many own more.

05shoe-ensha-slide-6E5P-jumboThe theme of Shoe Obsession, was exhibited at The Museum of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.), where 150 contemporary shoes by 50 different international designers were portrayed  to inspire a feeling of awe and reverence that may remind us of a church service.

Reading these kind of articles makes me think again about our priorities and our desire to substitute things for that place that God should be in our lives.  Obsessions with things can’t be good because it reveals what is really important to us.  Buying things that we think will make us happy is a compulsion that we as Americans have.  Let’s face it, there is a certain thrill with buying the latest and the greatest thing.  If it is not shoes it may be an electronic gadget, or the latest in clothing.  Before purchasing things we should ask ourselves the question of why?  Is it something we really need or are we following the trend?  Do we buy for the temporary high that comes with the purchase?

Many of us in America are so fortunate.  We have an abundance of everything and we get a high on buying things we really don’t need.  This pile I have of unused shoes is a lot like what we have become.  At one time all of my shoes were useful until something better came along.  Now they are sitting there with no use at all.  Maybe as this Christmas season approaches we should clean out our closets of the abundance that we have.  Maybe someone in need would be blessed with things that we really don’t need.  Seeing a smile form on someones face from receiving a gift from our abundance would be so rewarding!  We can’t walk a mile in their shoes because every path is different, but we can make their walk a little more comfortable.  Now that would be a high feeling that is real and lasting!

Disconnected Messages

We have a satellite dish and 99.9% of the time everything works fine.  When a storm is brewing though the picture may start to break up.  At first the picture breaks up for a second and comes back whole.  As the storm draws nearer the pattern is repeated every few seconds.  Suddenly the whole program and sound is gone and just the wording on the screen remains.  The message states “searching for satellite signal.”


I was reminded of this disconnecting problem because recently I was talking to a friend that had a similar experience within her church.  No, the church satellite system didn’t lose connection during a storm.  It was a disconnecting problem far more serious.  She was fairly new to this church but a message that she heard from the pulpit touched her heart.  It was a message of making people feel welcome!  It was about how everyone in the church should make every effort to make new people and old alike feel right at home.  It was about how that we are one body and how everyone adds to that body.  Everyone should feel comfortable doing their part and each of us should be appreciated.  It was a fantastic message and made my friend more comfortable in deciding to venture out of her comfort zone to a Bible Study the church was promoting.  Her friend and her were supposed to meet there but something came up and her friend couldn’t make it.  When she arrived she didn’t really know anybody, but she did recognize the face of one of the leaders of the church.  She sat at that table and small talk was exchanged.  Then out of the blue this leader turned to her and announced that they were expecting someone else to come, that she probably had other people coming too,  and the whole table got up and went to another table leaving my friend sitting there all by herself.  She had to shake her head in disbelief wondering what happened to that wonderful message that was given just a couple of days before?

Sadly maybe I can answer that question from something that happened to me a few times.  You see we were regulars at this church and we came in just before the service was about to start.  The only seats that we could see from the back that were available were on the left side about five or six rows up.  Getting comfortable in our seats we noticed right in front of us was a young couple sitting very close together whispering to each other.  At first it seemed like a normal thing, but when church started the closeness and whispering continued.  When we would get up and sing they had their arms around each other sharing the same book.  When we sat down to hear the message it was the same closeness and constant whispering.  Of course I’m thinking “Are they here to worship God or each other?”  Naturally I’m leaving the service wondering, what the pastor had talked about?  The next week we were in our seats ready for the beginning of the service and the same two people sit right in front of us!  It was the same thing all over again.  I don’t know if these people realized what a distraction they were and I felt like I should tell them.  However, I thought better of it.  What should I do?  Should I tap them on the shoulder and ask them to quit worshiping each other because it was disturbing my worship of God?

You may laugh but I think it would be laughter at thinking about things that interrupted your thoughts as you were hearing a sermon.  I wonder what might have been the reason for the strange disconnect of the sermon and the church leader?  How can a message so plain and simple be so disconnected in real life?  In no way do I know what was happening in her head, but maybe it went something like this:  “Pastor Jackson has a nice suit on.  I like that one far better than the one he wore last week.  Those colors..What was he thinking?  He’s talking about appreciating people, I wish someone would appreciate what I am doing.  Coordinating that Bible Study on Tuesday night is getting to be a headache.  Hmm I’ll have to call Sister Smith and Sister Johnson to help make calls.  I wonder where Dave Martin is today?  He and his family are always here.  Oh my, Mrs Turner is wearing that strange hat.  Doesn’t she realize it has been outdated for years?  I’ve got to help with that church picnic this Saturday.  I hope the weather holds up.  The 10-day forecast is predicting that it might rain.  Wow, Pastor Jackson is really preaching about unity and making people feel like they belong.   It sure would be nice if these people would be willing to lend a helping hand once in awhile!  They say that 10% of the people in a church do 90% of the work.  I think in this church it is more like 5%!  If more people made the effort to do things it would be so much better! What time is it?  Usually he preaches until noon but he is really getting carried away!  I told Karen and Beth that I would meet them at the restaurant at 12:30!  Oh finally, his final point, the final prayer, amen and amen.  Pastor Jackson, your sermon was really inspiring!  I appreciate you telling us what we really needed to hear!”


The disconnect problem is a common one.  It is prevalent with teachers, coaches, bosses, counselors, doctors, and pastors among others.  Each of these fine people take hours and days preparing their messages only to find that their words have been disconnected in a good percentage of hearts and minds.  Somewhere between when the message begins and the actual real life action the message is lost.  It may be in the execution of the plan or it may be that the plan was never crystallized into our thinking.  Sometimes the plan goes against how we want to live so we reject it.  I’m reminded of the doctor who told his patient he needed to quit smoking and drinking and to change his diet.  “So what are you doing?” a friend wondered.  “I’m switching doctors”, was his reply.

I wish I had a sure fire way to keep people more focused!  I see companies trying to do it with medication or energy drinks.  Like any problem it is necessary to admit that the problem exists.  It may be just a willingness to improve that will help the situation.  Be honest with yourself and with others.  There will always be distractions we can let hinder us.  There will always be storm clouds if we choose to see them.   Focus instead on the message being sent your way! Vision in your mind what actions you will take to accomplish the execution of the message given! Proverbs 29:18 states that “Without a vision, the people perish.”  I think the same can be said for our messages.  Without a vision our messages are lost!  Taking that thought in reverse when we hear the message and vision ourselves  executing what the message has us accomplishing, the message takes on life!  It is no longer just words as we actually take the steps needed to make it reality!  Sometimes in life storms come through and we lose our focus.  In the case of my satellite dish if the storm causes us to lose the picture we don’t knock down the dish.  We have  faith to know that the problem will be solved once the storm fades.  When I look at my blank screen I know that if I stay the course and have a vision for what will happen the picture eventually returns just as clear as it ever was!

It’s Getting Crowded In Here!

I didn’t get out for Black Friday this year.  In years past I’ve found myself mixing with the crowds.  Although I was never one to start so early that I’m waiting in line for the store to open, I would venture out in the early morning of the day.  This year the thought of pushing through a crowded mall was not something I desired to do.

I’ve been reading a little bit about “Black Friday.”  The term actually was made up as a bad thing.  It seems that the day right after Thanksgiving was a day that more havoc occurred than any other day of the year.  There was more traffic, more accidents, and more crime.  The police force had to be on high alert that day and increases in the number of officers working was a necessity.  In spite of all of this normal havoc, retailers found that it was a very profitable day.  Not liking the negative meaning of “Black Friday”, they wanted to make the term a positive one.  The “Black” in their mind referred to the fact that on this day they would be very profitable and in the “black ink”, instead of the red.  They kept the name and started hyping up the gigantic sales they would have.  People naturally wanted the advertised good bargains the stores put out there.  Not being one to stand in a line all night I would show up to the store at a normal morning time.  Invariably I’d find a worker to ask if they had any more of the items.  Usually the answer was “that was sold out in the first 15 or 20 minutes.”  That very fact leads me to believe that even a night spent in the parking lot doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to buy the few big bargains that the store has!

Following the crowd on Black Friday

Following the crowd on Black Friday

On the surface it seems that people are waiting in those lines to get the big bargains, but I think there is something underneath all of that.  I believe that the biggest reason people line up hours before the store opens is to be able to say they were  there.  I think it gives us a cause bigger than ourselves and we can tell someone in an excited tone “I was in the line with 100 other people at 3 am!  A friend told me a story about relatives that were out waiting for a store to open.  It seems that they were in the Best Buy line, which at the time was very crowded.  Across the way was a Kohl’s store which at the time wasn’t crowded.  Nobody rushed over to the other store even though they probably had just as good values.  The fact that the excitement was in the line they were in made them stay in that line.  Who wants to tell someone of the great adventure of walking right into a store with no rush as the doors opened?  We would rather tell of the thrill of pushing through a crowded door and racing to the desired item!

For most of us crowds are a love hate relationship.  We hate the crowded traffic but may love the crowded restaurant.  You may argue that the crowded restaurant isn’t loved either, but I wonder why the restaurant is crowded?  I think that there is a certain comfort zone that we have in going to a place where everyone else is going.  The place down the road probably compares favorably in menu items, but where is the thrill of going somewhere nobody else goes?  There is also that inward thought of “it must be good because everyone is going there.” I’m reminded of a Yogi Berra line when he was asked about a certain restaurant he used to frequent often.  “Nobody goes there anymore”, he stated “it’s too crowded.”

Everyone when they are young it seems has answered a question from their parents as to why they did something? “I did it because everyone else was doing it.”  Most of the time it seems the invariable question comes back from our parents.  “If everyone was jumping off of a bridge would you do that?”  We don’t answer that question but if we did the answer would have to be a resounding “yes!”

A statement was made by a lady when asked why they stand in line for hours before the store opens on “Black Friday?”  “It is a way of bonding with my son”, was her answer.  It wasn’t about the special offers the store had going.  She explained that they very seldom had quality time together and this was a way to do it.  Each year they look forward to that time together.  I think it is very important to have that close relationship with our kids, and if that is the only way to get those precious moments go for it!  However, I think that it tells a lot about our society and our fast paced world.  When I was young we used to always eat at the kitchen table as a family thing.  More often than not today meals are eaten around a TV set and the family bonding is replaced by the latest TV excitement.

This year “Black Friday” extended to “Black Thanksgiving day.”  Some stores opened on Thanksgiving night to try to get a jump on the “Black Friday” event.  Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of families getting together for a special day!  Now it seems that the retailers are crowding in to disrupt it!  Not only are we tempted to rush to the stores but thousands of people are required to work on a day that should be reserved for family time.  How sad that greed interferes with core values!

I understand that retailers try to cash in and make “Black Friday” an exciting experience.  In our society we seem to crave that thrill of the moment feeling.  I’ll bet that yearly “Black Friday” participants would have a hard time remembering the items they bought on “Black Friday”  three or four years ago.  Our society is good at promoting us to run after the “thrill of the moment” escapes.  We see it in drug abuse, alcohol, and other diversions.  We dilute ourselves to believing that acquiring things will make us happy.  Somewhere along the line we’ve lost our core values and a peace inside of us that is lasting and not store bought.  Maybe it is time to get back to the basics of family values and bonding in natural ways.  Perhaps we will get a warmth in our heart and a peace of mind!  Only God can give that peace and his door is never too crowded.  His peace is far better than finding ourselves before a “Black Friday” store opening in a crowded cold parking lot racing for the newest retail fad they throw our way.

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