Sunday, January 19, 2014


“The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light...” -Luke 11:34 Jeanie gave me some great Maui Jim sunglasses for Christmas. The glasses I had worn for years had worked just fine, but they were scratched, bent and worn out. But I hadn’t noticed. I was content to live with my old ones, but Jeanie noticed the need and the new glasses are awesome. Old things are like that- they work just fine until they are replaced with something new, and then the clarity and the change is dramatic. Life change can be like that too. We learn to live with less-than-the-best only to marvel at the change after it happens. But several challenges lie between the way it is and the way it could be. *Recognition of the need. I didn’t know I needed new glasses. Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." We so quickly recognize the needs in others before we see them in ourselves. We are simply creatures of habit and though we intuitively see the flaws in ourselves, we avoid them as much as possible. But when the symptoms of the flaw grow large enough to get our attention, we encounter a “wake up call." Then the intervention begins and hopefully, the healing as well. * A willingness to let others help. Jeanie recognized my need for new glasses and I had to be willing to accept her gift. Most problems are solved with the help of a friend. And true friends come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Friends can be brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, co-workers, kids and any other people that care enough to lend us a hand. God is fully capable of helping us alone, but He usually chooses to use others to intervene. Why? Because the Lord is into love. And He recognizes that one soul helping another is love personified and practiced. * The ability to pay the price. The new sunglasses were not free. They were quite expensive- much more than my old pair cost years ago. All change comes with a price. We have to give up our pride, our control and our comfort with the way things have been. It’s simply hard to change from what was to what can be. But when we’re on the other side of the problem, we realize that the change was worth every penny. * The discipline to stay on course. I love the new glasses but I do miss my old Oakleys. It’s not so difficult to keep wearing the new glasses but when it comes to our own changes, it can be difficult. That’s why every positive change we make in our lives needs to be followed up with accountability. Being disciplined means we set and keep the goals necessary to keep the change in place. Regular times with God, breakfast with a friend every few weeks, and evaluating our goals are a few ways to ensure we are staying on track. We all need to be willing to make the changes necessary to improve to our lives. Remember, good intentions accomplish nothing. Take action. Remember that that nudge to bring clarity to an area of our lives just might be God spurring us to take the next step and actually do something about it. We need to remember that He will always give us the strength necessary to accomplish His goals. “Where God guides, He provides”. So, I’ll enjoy the clarity of the new glasses… …and the other changes as well. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks...and Ourselves

“… but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…” -Phil. 3:13 I don’t usually write about movies because I don’t want to spoil the plot for future viewers, but a movie I recently saw is worth revealing. One of the best movies out this new year is “Saving Mr. Banks,” which is about Walt Disney securing the rights to make the movie “Mary Poppins.” Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks, worked for years to get Pamela Travers, the author, to let him make a movie about Mary Poppins. As it turns out, she had deeper reasons for refusing to share the story. Most of us have deeper reasons for the things we do or don’t do. Not everything is worth analyzing, unless it keeps us from being genuine and honest about who we are and where we’ve been. The movie captures the journey of the author, Pamela Travers, in her self-discovery and freedom from her past. A key scene takes place towards the end of the movie after Pamela has left America and gone back to England following a falling out with Walt Disney. In London, Pamela settles back into her home, the one she can no longer afford. Later that night, there’s a knock on the door and Walt Disney is there. He requests she make him a pot of tea. They talk and Walt tells her she misjudges him- that she thinks of him as a Hollywood King Midas with an empire and Mary Poppins will be just another brick in his kingdom. He tells her, if this were the case, he wouldn’t have pursued her for 20 years. He tells her that Mary Poppins is real to his daughters, to thousands of children, and even adults. Walt apologizes to Pamela for letting her down and points out he, too, had a Mr. Banks but his had a mustache and it was his own father, who had a newspaper delivery route and employed a young Walt and his brother to work the cold winters. If he didn’t live up to his father’s standards, he would get beaten. He says he loves his father but he has days where he looks back and is tired of thinking of him in a negative light. He has to learn to finish the story differently, to let it all go and have a life that isn’t dictated by the past. He realizes now, as she hinted, that it’s not the children Mary Poppins comes to save but her father, Travers Goff. Her real name at birth was Helen Goff, but she changed her name to Pamela Travers. She must have loved him a lot to take his name. He now realizes all of her books were about him and encourages her to forgive. She says she doesn’t have to forgive her father, he was a wonderful man, but he says, no, she needs to forgive Helen Goff for giving herself a harsh sentence. He begins a monologue, telling her to trust her precious Mary Poppins with him and the audience will see Mr. Banks being saved and he can instill hope into the viewers. Pamela’s heart softens and changes and she agrees to let Walt Disney make the movie. The movie creates the new ending Pamela desired and everyone sees her dad as a man helping his kids fly their kite. It allows her to live a life that isn’t dictated by her past but is ruled by forgiveness. Pamela thought it was her job to fix her daddy and she needed to let go of the guilt she carried after he died. She needed to forgive herself. She needed to let it go. We need to keep our slate clean as well. If we’ve been wronged, forgive. If we’ve fallen short, forgive. If we’ve disappointed someone, forgive. It’s a choice we make. It’s a mind-set we take on, over and over and over again. We let the ending to the story of our past be ruled by the best, not the worst. We choose to see the best. We choose to save those we love… …and in doing so, we save ourselves. By Eric Joseph Staples ©