Lessons from the Past

Recently, I came across some interesting old family records. They were genealogies, tracing my mothers’ family name Forney, (“Fahrni” at that time), back to the mid-1600’s in a small village in Switzerland. It mesmerized me to read the names of family from whom I descend; a written record of births, marriages and deaths of people I know little about. There were numerous sets of twins, sadly many infant deaths, a country doctor, a slew of preachers and a fiery senator from Kansas.

It made me consider how swiftly one lifetime goes by. Each of these long-lost relatives woke up each day knowing their life mattered, they were significant and they would do what needed to be done that day. They, like us faced conflicts and misunderstandings, they experienced love and joy, sickness and death. Certainly, there was laughter, jokes, hard work and play in their days. They decided what to prepare for dinner and how to get all the daily tasks accomplished. They, like us, could see only the “here and now”, what was right in front of their noses. The problems they faced were huge, (like ours), the decisions they made were fraught with questions and uncertainty, (as ours are).

I laughed to myself as I wondered who first posed the question, “Shall we move to America?” Whose crazy idea was that and how was it received by parents, relatives and the townspeople? (I can just picture people at the market whispering behind their hands about those “daring Fahrni’s). Because, in 1721, this was no small feat! But someone posed such a question and made the decision to do it! Imagine what was involved in the planning, the timing, and the funding of such a notion? How many hours of discussion and prayer must have been included? Saying goodbye to loved ones they would never see again must have been excruciating.

It is hard to conceive of a distant relative thinking about me, a descendant from 300 years later, let alone them imagining their life having an impact on me, but here is what I’ve learned from their story: These people were not different than we are. As I think back on multiple generations of Forney’s, I’m reminded I can brave an uncertain future, I can overcome daunting loss and grief. If knocked down, I can get back up and start again. Future generations will thank me for it.

Right now, life in 2020 is hard. We face a confusing virus filled with uncertainty. Questions spin asking what will happen with the economy, who is to blame for this calamity and how shall we re-open the country? We worry about our children and financial woes; we fight off health issues and boredom, face loneliness and painful loss. Yes, challenges abound, but instead of allowing these obstacles to consume us what if instead, we place our focus on what we do know and what we can accomplish?

Certainly, no one knows what lies before us, (tomorrow or in 300 years), but we have today. And today is good! Today, we know what we have, and we know what to do, today. So, we make it good. We choose to be grateful; we find the good in the middle of chaos and we treat those around us with care and kindness. And tomorrow, we’ll do it all over again.

Here’s a picture of John Forney, (ca 1816), father of the Senator AG Forney. He has kind eyes but determined at the same time. He’s my great-great-great grandfather, (I think).

new year – new chances

I love the quote by John Newton:

“I am not what I ought to be,
I am not what I want to be,
but by Gods grace, I am not who I used to be.”

When a new year approaches, it’s a time many of us give thought to making a change. We consider area’s in which we’d like to grow, then set out our goals and plans. Because as the quote implies, we are making progress. If we are not be in the place we want to be, prayerfully, we are moving in that direction.

The book, “Three Little Decisions” may be a useful tool for this time of year. Every day we make a myriad of decisions, about the course of our life, about our health and about relationships. Each chapter in this book allows us an opportunity to make small steps, little decisions that point us in a better direction. This is how we move forward. Step by step.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 4:

“How will we ever get a task completed if we wait to start next week or until after the holidays? How often do we suppress difficult matters simply because they are distasteful or uncomfortable? It strikes me, we put off doing something important because it feels too big. Write an overdue letter, reach out after an argument, eat healthier, take a class to progress our career… It’s easy to believe we’re too tired, too busy or too broken to accomplish very much. As a result, projects pile up, as does frustration when those tasks go unfinished What might we accomplish if we stopped waiting and just did it today. Could we take one step in that direction?”

Let’s not wait to make decisions, thinking it will be easier tomorrow. It will not. Instead we can make small decisions today, decisions that will move us the way we want to go.

Pick up the book here:

Decision for Today

When November hits, my mind begins to gear up for the holidays. I find myself thinking about  plans for Thanksgiving, our family Christmas card  and which travel arrangements must be made. It’s easy to jump into a vortex of shopping, planning, decorating and cooking. This November though, I made a point to have a bit of quietude,  and to examine the days God gifted me this past year.

The year began with great plans and hopes, (it’s easy to be determined in January). There were days of success at work, amazing time with family and among friends, but naturally, there were other areas which had become derailed. I bemoaned those failures and uttered the dread words, “Oh well, I can start again in January”.

My bright idea of reviewing the past year was about to send me into a tailspin of negative self-analysis. It is at this point I knew I had a choice to make. To fall into an emotional slump or stand up and try a different approach. Here is a short excerpt from the book, “Three Little Decisions” that helped me choose.

At a morning devotional group, I heard a woman speaker share the words of Jesus, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39.) In reference to this passage of scripture, the typical question is posed: how can we truly love our neighbor if we have so little love for our self? It’s a fair question, but on that day, she added an interesting twist to our struggle with self-love. She said, “Stop bullying yourself about every little thing”!

Her comment caused me to lean forward in my chair, as I considered this fresh perspective to such an endemic thought. I was struck with her admonition to stop the negative talk, stop believing the worst and learn to love the way God loves. With utmost certainty, I know I am not alone in this battle against rampant self-bullying, against those voices in my head saying, “I’m not good enough, thin enough, strong enough or spiritual enough.” 

Our tendency to be self-critical, (to bully ourselves), overshadows our confidence and the damage is impossible to measure as it blows in those evil triplets of self-doubt, insecurity and uncertainty. Overcoming these voices involves a decision to disembark that bully-express and board a different train of thought. 

So, I’m trying a different approach.

What if, instead of believing myself to be a failure, bullying myself with negative comments, or waiting until tomorrow to do better,  I decide to thrive and grow, today? My choice is to be strong today, to do what is right and to do my best. That way, I’ll finish this year stronger by doing better today.  Like the quote, we start today to make a new ending.

Here is my take-away: I am not who I hope to be, but who I decide to be. Today.

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24. God gave me this one day, I’ll make it great!

It’s my choice.


“The Downside of Procrastination”           An excerpt from Three Little Decisions.  

Procrastination. It’s not the biggest word in the dictionary but it certainly results in big-time consequences. One definition of procrastination is: the voluntary delay of some important task we intend to do, despite knowing that we’ll suffer as a result of the delay. It is self-deception when we wait to do a task, thinking it will be easier or more convenient later.

The more we wait, the more those tasks pile up and overwhelm! It’s like a logjam in a creek; sticks, logs, leaves and trash get caught and are unable to move along. The logjam’s cause is not always apparent, but the water slows and the backup in the creek worsens. To resume the water flow, regardless if we know why it’s backed up, the debris must be removed and little by little the clog releases.

As in life when we deal with smaller areas, eventually bigger things are exposed and when adequately addressed, the current flows once again. In the realm of personal growth, it’s easy to ignore any inclination to look deeper and watch a mindless TV re-run and think we’ll deal with it later. But, we only have today. If we continue to sidestep and procrastinate important decisions, eventually that proverbial rain check will harm our joy, health and relationships.

The quote by Bobby Maximus is good to consider: There are seven days in the week. Someday isn’t one of them.

The book has arrived!

If you’ve made it this far you already know my book is out!  I am beyond excited it has come to this point, and I’m praying it will be of help to all who read it. Feel free to contact me with your comments.

Three Little Decisions is an easy read that guides you through some of life’s bumps and bruises, using poignant stories, simple suggestions and ideas for overcoming those obstacles. Though reading a book about decision-making is easy, the challenge as always, is in the doing.

The premise of the book is to focus on  small decisions and little steps. Just do some little thing. One step leads to the next and the next until you find you have made good progress and are on your way to accomplishing the very thing that seemed insurmountable.

Speaking of steep mountains to climb, this is my view of the Colorado Rockies at sunset. It inspires me to see the amazing painting God does each evening.  His faithfulness and constancy touch me deeply and give me strength to move forward every day.