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6/30/09

Tribute to Lacy Williams

Today is my brother's birthday. He would have been a young 73 years. He died June 19, 2009 from rapid onset of dormant pulmonary fibrosis. I was humbled to be asked to speak at his interment. Following is my tribute to a wonderful brother.

For all of us, at some time, we will come to the end our lives. What will be remembered? Accomplishments? Fame? Wealth? Or will they remember the times you made a difference in their life and in the lives of others? That is what we will remember most about Lacy; his smiles, his humor and his encouragement.

One of the missions of Hospice is to help patient and family avoid the obvious ‘death-elephant’ in the room, and to talk at ease with each other about hopes and dreams and regrets and wishes – to make the last days as fulfilling and comfortable as possible –to tie up loose ends. Lacy, being Lacy, began to do this on his own without the help of Hospice. He had his list of to-do’s and was actively pursuing them. And he talked openly about faith and questions and his past-the-due-date amount of time allotted to mankind (three-score and ten).

He was so proud of the letter Amy sent him and the e-mail from Wendell. I told him, “Well, I guess I need to write you a letter.” His bold reply, “Yes, you do!” Although I have no regrets for not penning it sooner, I guess this is my letter to him.

Jerre used three words to describe Lacy: provider, protector and teacher. I am sure you have your own special expression of who he was to you.

He was an entrepreneur and inventor. Years ago, in his burnt-orange truck, he stopped by the house one day with a magazine in hand to show me an innovative bridge-building devise he had invented. I read the advertisement again and again and did not see his name anywhere. He said, “That was my idea, they just beat me to it.” There is a current display at the Mayborn Center of Leonardo DiVinci’s before-his-time invention ideas.

Lacy was always going forward: in more ways than the idiocies of his truck. Not only did he found his own construction company, but even when he worked for someone else, he still was his own boss. He always had some kind of a pyramid scheme and all too often, he got me involved. (You too?) He had me help him develop and write up plans for “My Brother’s Keeper” – a pyramid method to get rich while giving your money away.

The other word I might assign to him is agitator, except I think it was unwitting. In his openness and honesty and being real, he often came across as brash that could provoke you to anger or reduce you to tears. But you always knew where you stood with him. I appreciate that. What appeared to be criticism, I think was his unpolished attempt to prod you to live up to your full potential. Lacy had faith in God, faith in himself, faith in humanity and faith in each of you.

In his own way, Lacy was a nurturing parent. He gave me good advice when Melinda was a child and I wanted her to change from her favorite, although faded, dress before we went somewhere. Pointing his finger at me, he said, “If she feels pretty in that dress, you let her wear it.” I did.

When Aunt Erma was nearing the end of her life, Melinda and John paid the airfare for me to go visit her. Although I was quite capable of going alone, Melinda insisted I not go by myself. Lacy became my chaperone and I am so thankful we had that bonding time together. In the long flight and lay-over and drive from Blacksburg, VA to the WV farm (we worked in a visit to Clyde and Rosie), he regaled me with far-fetched adventure tales. Late in the day he leaned back and asked, “Did I ever tell you my bull story?”

My query to him was, “And just exactly what were these others tales?” (Seems he taunted a bull like a matador and barely escaped with his life.)

Lacy is one-of-a kind. He is much loved and will be greatly missed. His legacy is long and strong through his children and grandchildren.

Henriette Meyers said, “For every sigh, there is a Psalm.” The majority of the Psalms were written by David the Shepherd boy. In the open field he had time to think and question and reason, as are reflected in the poems he wrote. Maybe the same was true of Lacy. He had many questions about faith.

He said, “You know there are a lot of things that I just don’t believe. I am not sure I believe there was a world-wide floor or an ark big enough to hold all the animals.”

I told him that from my understanding the only critical believes for eternal life was faith in God and Jesus as his son, born of a virgin, died and resurrected as our Savior. He readily proclaimed his faith and friendship with Jesus.

“Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

He told me he had been involved in church and worked on committees, but was concerned that he had not confessed his faith to others. I told him that works of them self does not save a person but the attitude of the heart in which they are performed. And I reminded him of the words of James, sometimes called “the apostle in work boots”.

“So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it… I say that without good works you can’t prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act.” James 2:14-18 MD paraphrased

Lacy did not quote Scriptures, but he lived it. As John Wesley said, “Preach the gospel always. Sometimes use words."

Amid David’s questioning, he came to an amicable conclusion. I think Lacy did too.

"But as for me… when I awake in heaven, I will be fully satisfied." Psalm 17:15

Jerre asked that we end our time together today by all singing Will the Circle be Unbroken, another of Lacy’s songs. Copies are in your handout. I have modified it to fit this service and Gary Moore added the sixth verse.

Will the Circle be Unbroken

1) I was standing by my window on one sad and lonely day
When I sensed death angel calling for to carry my loved one away

Chorus: Will the circle be unbroken by and by, Lord, by and by.
There's a better home awaiting in the sky, Lord, in the sky.

2) Well, I told the undertaker, “Undertaker please drive slow,
For the loved one you are taking,” Lord, I hate to see him go.

Chorus:

3) I will follow close behind him, try to hold on and be brave.
But I could not hide my sorrow, when they laid him in the grave

Chorus:

4) When I went home, it was lonely, missed my loved one, he was gone.
All my family, neighbors crying, how we hurt to see him go.

Chorus:

5) We sang the songs of childhood, hymns of faith that made us strong.
Ones that Lacy loved to listen and the angels sang along.

Chorus:

6) We are standing in the circle, of a family that is blest,
With fond memories and dedication, we lay Vera and Lacy to rest.

Chorus: Will the circle be unbroken by and by, Lord, by and by.
There's a better home awaiting in the sky, Lord, in the sky


Written by: Franks, Tillman/Houston, Davie/Sherrill, Billy
Modified by Mona Dunkin for Lacy’s service
Verse six written by Gary Moore

We are comforted that the circle will be unbroken. Regardless of when the passage, and at what age – mother and daddy, Lacy, baby Joshua. One day we will be together again.

At Lacy’s funeral service, the 23rd Psalm was read twice. At the beginning, it was presented in the traditional way to comfort us with the promise of safe passage for our loved one. At the ending, it was read again as comfort for the family. When we, who are alive and remain, experience the death of a dear one, the Shepherd is there with us, with His rod and staff to comfort and lead, and to protect us from the enemy that would destroy.

I will end with the prayer our Pastor gave Sunday morning. “Father, we pray your blessings on the family of Lacy Williams. With joy they release him to you, and with sorrow they relinquish him from being with them.”

6/15/09

Perception and Reality

Your perception is your reality. Only it may not be a true reality. A hard reality to receive is that our vision may be blurred and our opinions biased. The saying that “Truth hurts” is only relevant when the truth is supposed to hurt. If any of these thoughts give you an “Ouch”, challenge your perception versus reality.

The lenses we look through determine our viewpoint. I am reminded of a story of a family that moved to a new location. On the outskirts of town, the Dad approached an elderly gentleman as to the kind of city it was. The gentleman asked, “The place you are moving from, what was it like?”

The man exclaimed, “Oh, I am so glad to get out of there. We hated it. My job stank, the schools are horrible, our neighbors were the worst, people are rude and the police are crooked.”

The old gentleman replied. “I think you will find this place much the same way.”

Another traveler encountered the old gentleman and explained, “My family and I have been transferred here, what kind of city is it?”

The old gentleman inquired, “The place you are moving from, what was it like?”

The second man replied, “It was real hard for us to leave. We loved it. My job was challenging, my co-workers were helpful, the community was great and the schools were wonderful.”

The old gentleman replied. “I think you will find this place much the same way.”
Perception is multifaceted. Perception is shaped by our unique personality, expectations, values and hopes. It is formed by our distinctive experiences and the way we see and understand the world. It is shaped by culture and the way we were taught to deal with situations and the meaning placed on events.

The interpretation you render is not necessarily truth, it is simply your viewpoint based on the complex meshing of a lifetime of experiences. However, these beliefs have a powerful impact on your present and your future. The answers you give are not necessarily facts; they are merely your biased interpretation (even though you may declare them unbiased).

Perception impacts the way you present yourself. People act and speak the way they feel about themselves, whether that is a wallflower or a braggart. The reason one’s life perception is important is because people seek experiences that reinforce their belief. If you believe yourself to be stupid you will see a wise choice as a fluke.

We act on our perceptions. I had a client who was the motivating force in her husband’s health walking regiment. She resented his inertia and only acting at her participation. She saw herself as a nag, or worse yet, as his “mommie”. I encouraged her to see herself as his coach. Sometimes we need to “change the noun.” What a difference a slight change of view makes.

Have the goal of an open mind. Rather than being locked into your limited perspective, be willing to receive information, either to add to or take away. Challenge your current beliefs as to how they affect the life you are choosing to live.

DON’T COPE, OVERCOME: Being grateful in the midst of difficulty gives perspective into the reason for the pain. Once reason is understood, solution is forthcoming

Mona Dunkin is a Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Personal Success Coach. Contact her at mdunkin@flash.net.

6/2/09

Breaking Patterns

There is a bigger disparity between knowing and doing than between ignorance and knowledge. The tension is not only in having the necessary mental tools, but also in having the will to put them into practice. Allow these suggestions to be instrumental in putting your know-how into action.

Make your intentions known. Spend time thinking about who you want to become rather than what you want to do or to have. We become frustrated when our actions do not match our core values. Become aware of your intentions and watch your actions harmonize. Verbalize your goals to a trusted friend who can help you stay on track. Do not become defensive when he/she holds you to your objective.

Monitor mood regulators. It is difficult to make positive changes when you are self-sabotaging. The obvious mood managers are adequate sleep, reduced stress, enough exercise and healthy eating. Other temperament supervisors have to do with the thoughts you think and the perspective you take. It is “one of those days” only as long as you claim it. Look for the best in every situation.

Develop a learner’s spirit. Do not set yourself up as the standard of right and wrong. Your way may have worked in a limp-along-manner, but be open to improved ways. Give up the “but I always thought” attitude and embrace change. Enlarge your view by listening to other perspectives and rationally consider the possibilities. At all times, look for the lessons to be learned

Anything that is appreciated goes up in value. Look at the worse case scenario, not to be negative but to develop appreciation for what you already have or where you already are on the success scale. In relationships, appreciate the individual for who he/she is, not as you would have them to be, and see how dramatically your rapport will improve.

The bottom line is, you stop by stopping. It’s that simple. And also that profound. Make the rest of 2009 your time to overcome.

Changing Perspectives

All we have to bring to the table is our experience thus far. Those experiences are both general (with people) and specific (with individuals). When specific understanding is confirmed by generalities, perceptions become concrete. When general experiences are matched by specifics, perception changes.

Every choice has it own set of new circumstances. Restlessness causes one to consider that the devil-you-do-not-know is better than the devil-you-know. However, quitting the job or leaving the marriage brings with it both solutions and problems. If the problem within you has not been settled, it shows up in the next employment or relationship.

Look within. Monitor your pre-conceived perceptions for truth or error. Check your attitude for off-putting or engaging. Screen your responses for answers rather than comebacks.

Change your mind. Each time you feel negative, stop, acknowledge the thought and deliberately dismiss it. Look deeply to find the root of your emotion and consciously replace it with the greater truth of your potential. As Coach Lombardi says, “Potential meals you ain’t done it yet.” This practice is profoundly spiritual and life changing. Use it. Embrace it.

Make a decision. Indecision keeps you stuck. Wrong decisions can be examined and corrected but indecision causes one to stagnate.

Renew your environment. The space in which you live and work have a major impact on the way you see things. Move the furniture, add new accents, and replace dated items. Changing small things about your environment gives the opportunity to think differently as your mind will not have the familiar rut to fall back into. A commitment to date-night can work wonders in a sagging marriage.

Use the zoom focus. When you are overwhelmed with tiny, yet significant details, zoom out and see the bigger picture. When the demands of marriage, parenting or work seem too much, project years down the road to relaxation, grandchildren and retirement. Mentally see the end result of your current struggles. This skill can be your saving grace.

Consciously relax. The ability to relax is directly connected to constructive critical thinking. Look honestly at the situation and develop an “even though” mantra. “Even though I am engulfed with frustration, I lovingly accept that I am a person of infinite worth and value and I release my failure.”

Think about what you think about. The soil will return whatever seeds you sow, but the land does not care what you plant. You become what you think. Whatever seeds you nurture in your mind will return to you. Make them encouraging and positive about you and about others.

Even though bring to the table our experience thus far, we are not static individuals; we are continually being exposed to new information. Become aware of it and be open to change.