Thursday, December 15, 2022

Holidays With Family: 2022 Version. An Absolutely Beautiful Mess!



“Love…does not take into account a wrong suffered” -1 Cor. 13:5


Here we go into Christmas ’22! What an odd time of year! Thanksgiving is awesome, Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year” and it’s a “jolly” four weeks between the two holidays. Yet, stats expose this month as the most depressive and difficult time of time of the year for most people. But that is certainly not what God desires. His plan is toward peace, contentment and completeness. 


I think the beautifproblem lies in family. Yes, a myriad of ingredients produce this difficult season: the weather can be cold, the pressure to buy gifts is high, the stress of party after party can bog us down, and we’re reminded of the loved ones we miss. 


But Thanksgiving and Christmas are holidays for family. And most families, if not all families, have a grocery list of issues that have not been resolved. One important trend I have discovered in my years of working with families: most families have some form of dysfunction. They have always been like that. Why? Because families are made up of people and all people are wounded, to some degree. 


Wounds are medicated and healed when they are brought to the light. Family works when family members submit themselves to love one another. Family works when anger accounts are kept empty by reconciliation and forgiveness. But most family accounts are full.


I love well-written stories about healing in families. “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean is one of my favorites. This quote from the book describes this family dynamic:


“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding.”


The key is “loving without understanding.” We can all do that one. During these holidays, as we’re around family, may we all reach out to love and give and bless. May we do the hard work of reconciliation and forgiveness to keep our accounts empty and our love flourishing. After all, the more our accounts are emptied, the more capacity we have to love. 


So, have a holly-jolly Christmas season this year and enjoy your family. Love those who are unlovable. That’s what God did for us when He sent His Son to be born and die for our sin. If we have maintenance work of forgiveness to do, then clean the slates during the holidays. 


Family is difficult and messy. But it’s a beautiful mess. So this holiday season, dive in! Get wet! Love, forgive, touch, interact, and love again. 


Entertain your beautiful mess and enjoy the season. Realize we can love only because God loved us first…


…as a beautiful mess.


By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Capturing Things


“…take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” -2 Cor. 10:5


I remember in fifth grade trying to capture rabbits in the woods near our home in Fort Worth. I asked for a cage trap for my birthday. I filled it with food to attract the rabbits and gave it a few days in the woods behind our house. I even chained it to a tree so it wouldn’t be stolen.


Two days later, when I went to check it, the trap was gone. Someone had cut the chain and taken it. 


It’s hard to capture things. 


Thoughts can be even more difficult to capture. As Paul was trying to help the Corinthian church grow in their faith, he challenged them to “capture their thoughts.” There is no sin in the initial thought, but at that intersection of thought and reaction, I make a choice: will I bring the thought before the Lord, that He might lead me in integrity in how to react, or will I just let my flesh react? At that point, if I give it over to Him, He provides direction- if I’ll let Him!


It’s hard to capture and give it over. 


What an important intersection! For most people, the gap between the thought being triggered and me choosing how I’ll react is a billionth of a second. Our flesh is severely reactionary. The brain chemicals take over and we react so quickly. But, there is a gap. And how I navigate that “gap” makes all the difference! 


It’s hard to see the gap. 


The challenge is that when we have a reactive thought (that we recognize in our soul) we choose to throw the hand cuffs on it and “capture” it. And then we bring it before the Lord using the beautiful vehicle called prayer. Then we submit our thought to His obedience and will. But it takes discipline to capture it. Yes, it’s 100% on us but somehow our flesh wants to put it on the other person. “Sometimes you make me so mad,” we might say to a friend. But truth is, no one can make us angry. They can sure press our buttons, but we make the choice as to how we’ll react. We are 100% responsible for our reactions. 


It's hard to capture our thoughts. 


So, may we be super intentional about out thought life. This side of heaven, managing the collision between our flesh and spirit is part of navigating this life. Paul spent so much of his time writing about all of this to the churches of the New Testament. He knew that if people would bring their baggage to Christ, then the church, made up of those people, would flourish. 


May we be a people who recognize our curious thoughts and intentionally take our captured thoughts to our loving Lord. May our dependance be on Christ alone, as I rest in Him. 


Because it’s easy to rest when I’m captured by Him. 


By Eric Joseph Staples ©









Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Steve McQueen's Greatest Escape

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” 

-Rom. 10:19-10


Growing up, I loved watching movie’s that included Steve McQueen. He was just “cool”, to say the least. My favorite was probably “the Great Escape” about some Allied POW’s that escaped from a German prison camp. 


John Gann wrote an awesome article about Steve, “Something You May Not Have Known About Steve McQueen”. It brough tears to my eyes at the end. I think you’ll enjoy.  


“Steve McQueen was a Hollywood bad boy and headstrong thrill-seeker, drawn to drugs, women, fast cars and motorcycles. At the height of his stardom in the 1960s and ’70s, Steve McQueen was at the top of his game, yet the “King of Cool” was still searching for something more. That’s the subject of a new documentary, Steve McQueen: American Icon.


With an alcoholic mother and a string of abusive stepfathers, McQueen had always wanted a real dad in his life—someone to look up to. He found a father figure in his flight instructor, Sammy Mason, who answered his countless questions about faith and told him about the perfect Father, God Himself.


Little by little, this lead role in The Great Escape stopped running in the opposite direction of God. Three months after McQueen and his wife started attending Mason’s church in California, McQueen invited the pastor to lunch and asked another round of questions. Could he really be forgiven? What does it look like to follow Jesus Christ? With a slew of fictional movies under his belt, this actor wanted to know the truth.


It was during that lunch that the pastor, Leonard DeWitt, asked McQueen about his own beliefs, and McQueen shared that he had devoted his life to Christ a few weeks back. He had a new purpose and an ever-softening demeanor.


Six months later, in late 1979, McQueen was diagnosed with cancer. Although he wanted to live, friends and family could see he was also at peace. If and when he died, he said, he knew where he was going.

On Nov. 3, 1980, four days before his death, one of McQueen’s wishes came true. He’d wanted to meet evangelist Billy Graham for some time, and on that day, Mr. Graham paid him a visit. The pair prayed together and talked about the afterlife, and McQueen told him how his faith in Christ helped him deal with the cancer. At the end of their meeting, Billy Graham left McQueen his personal Bible, the name “Billy Graham” printed on the front and all.


Inside, he wrote the date, along with a message: “To my friend Steve McQueen, may God bless and keep you always.” He signed his name, along with a reference to a Bible verse, Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”


Billy Graham’s Bible became McQueen’s most valued possession. He died on Nov. 7—Billy Graham’s 62nd birthday—and was found clutching that Bible.


Before his death, McQueen said he wanted to tell more people about God. While he grew weaker physically, he grew stronger spiritually, and wanted others to know where that strength came from.


God began something wonderful in McQueen’s life—a total transformation—and has continued impacting others through his story. Nov. 7 is much more than his death date; it’s the day the King of Cool met the King of kings.”


Whatever you’re chasing after in life, nothing compares to God Himself. If He can change Steve McQueen’s life, he can change yours, too.


It really is that simple. Confessing my need for Jesus and inviting Him into my heart is so simple because the cross cost God so much- the Son He loves. As Steve McQueen did, talk to your Pastor or good friend about God’s saving grace.


May we all live in His peace.


By Eric Joseph Staples ©


Thursday, July 28, 2022

God's Purpose or Mine?

Every now and then, I try to get out of the way and let God speak to us through one of my heroes. This morning, I was reading the devotional “My Utmost For His Highest” and again, Oswald Chambers’ devo hit the “nail on the head.” It’s what I needed to hear and I hope it’s an encouragement to you as well…

“He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side… -Mark 6:45

We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.

What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.

God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.

God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.

May each of our moments be precious today as we lean on Him and Him alone. Thank you, Jesus, for being our Rock and our Fortress.

Written by Oswald Chambers

 Eric Joseph Staples ©

Thursday, July 7, 2022

His Octane

“Do not quench the Holy Spirit” -1 Thess. 5:19

In our amazing relationship with the Lord, some days are awesome and other days seem difficult. If we’re in a relationship with Jesus, we have true life. But if we’re walking well with Jesus, we have abundant life (John 10:10). There is a difference.  It directly affects everything about us: our job, our parenting, and our lives.


When we fill up our cars with gasoline, we typically pull up to the pump, get out, slide our credit card, then choose the lowest number possible (for the lowest price) and fill her up! Have you ever wondered what that number is? It’s the Octane number for the particular gas you’re choosing. Any ‘ole gas will do, but the higher the number, the higher the octane level in the gasoline.

What is Octane? Octane is a hydrocarbon and an alkane with the chemical formula CH3(CH2)6CH3. Translated: the higher the number, the better the gasoline.

I pulled into a huge truck stop in Springfield recently and did a double take at the gasoline pump. It had the usual octane choices of 87 and 89, but it also had a choice for 110! And it cost $6.49 a gallon. It said next to the pump “for racing only.” I found out the station isn't far from a racetrack. This special gas is reserved for racing cars.

But I thought, “What if I put the racing gas in my SUV? Would it drive at amazing speeds?” Of course, it wouldn’t. I have the wrong kind of engine. Having the right gas is only part of the package. It takes a racing engine too, built to take high-octane gas and convert it to speed.

As Christians with a new life in Christ, we have all the necessary equipment to drive really well. We are equipped with the Holy Spirit inside of us who supplies us with the highest octane possible. 

Instead, it seems, we choose to drive like our tank is full of cheap gas. Even though we‘re empowered by the Holy Spirit with an octane number of ten zillion, we’re limited by our capacity to yield ourselves to His power through us. Through Christ, we have all the potential to be a powerful NASCAR vehicle, but we’re left to decide…do I yield to myself and the Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine that came standard when I was born, or do I submit to Jesus and use the jet engine that is available to me as a child of God?

Here’s the deal: having Jesus as my powerful engine doesn't mean I speed. The irony is, it means I slow down and rest. It means that in Christ, I submit to His strength. 

It means I enjoy the most coveted and powerful thing of all: contentment and peace. The price has been paid. The tank is full. I can work with joy, I can raise my kids and parent with joy, and I can live my life with joy.

Now, sit back and enjoy the drive.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Sunday, June 19, 2022

My Dad

"Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation” –Joel 1:3

I sure do miss my Dad today. He would have been One Hundred and Four years old on this Fathers Day. He died in 1988 but he never passed away. He will never pass away. He will always live in my heart, the hearts of my brothers, in the hearts of my kids and in the hearts of their kids. He legacy will go on and on.


A legacy of faith. As was true of most of the early Staples’ family, he loved God and was dedicated to the Methodist church. The Methodist church in Roopville, Georgia still stands today. I have copies of his Sunday school notes that he used as he taught class for many, many years. He was far from perfect, but his faith grew more and more as he grew older. His faith mattered and he passed it on.


A legacy of integrity. Honesty mattered to my dad. He put coins in the parking meters and he paid all of his taxes. “I have no problem paying taxes,” he would say, “It’s just what every man should do.” Having a good name made a difference to him and he elevated honesty and truth as he dealt with people. He was the same man in private as he was in public. As his son, I saw him lose patience and get angry frequently, but he knew how to say “I’m sorry” and I watched him settle differences quite often. 


A legacy of simplicity. My dad was absolutely at his best with those who had the least. He could mingle with the “high-falutin” physicians, but enjoyed the blue-collared folks the most. My dad kept things uncomplicated. His favorite ice cream was Blue Bell Vanilla. Boring maybe, but it was all he needed. He never forgot his simple Georgia roots. Though, as a physician, he had the choice to be proud, he preferred not to elevate himself above others. He was humble. As a goofy teenager, I was often embarrassed by his faded jeans and suspenders. I sometimes wanted a “cool” dad. But I came to realize that my dad was more than cool: he was awesome. 


A legacy of hard work. My dad didn’t mind breaking a sweat while doing a long project. After he retired, I remember trying to keep up with him as he tended to his garden in the back yard. He could work me into the ground. I remember appealing to my dad one Sunday afternoon. I was a freshman in high school and after watching football on TV, I had run out of time to mow the yard. It was 5:00pm and I needed to be at a Young Life event at 5:30. “Dad, I won’t have time to cut the grass. I’ll do it later in the week,” I said. “Well, you should have done it earlier today. I guess you’ll have to miss youth group,” he said. “I can mow it later this week,” I appealed. “Nope, it needs to be today,” he replied. I wasn’t happy about it. After all, I was going to youth group- the Christian thing to do. But he wouldn’t budge. I mowed the yard and learned that keeping a promise trumped any Bible study. 


My dad was an awesome man. I only hope to imitate a little of his character and life. He loved my mother, Mildred, so, so much. And he loved and nurtured his four sons with everything he possessed. 


I am honored to have had Pelham Porter Staples Jr. as my father and I will always be thankful that I had thirty-one years with him. I too am thankful for his legacy branded into the Staples family. Thank you Lord for a my dad and for his powerful, simple life…


…and for his beautiful, faded jeans and suspenders. 


Happy Father’s Day!


By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

So Worth Remembering

“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick." -Matt. 14:14

Memorial Day honors those wonderful men and women and their families, who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the United States of America. They gave and served and died for the country they loved!

Did they lay down their lives for a perfect country? Not at all. Our imperfect country has struggled with issues it’s entire existence. Injustice, weighty tariffs to the homeland, segregation by race, money, income, and religion, slavery, finances, and probably fifty other issues have always challenged this “experiment” called America. Abraham Lincoln called war a “test” for this nation to “see if this nation or any nation [dedicated to freedom] could long endure.” And we have “endured” for several hundred years.

The unity of this country has always been challenged. No doubt, a “benevolent dictatorship” is the easiest way to run a country. Let one nice guy run the show! But a true democracy attempts to carry out the dreams and desires of the collective, diverse population. In the case of the United States, we’re attempting to satisfy about 326 million people.

A true democracy makes mistakes, big mistakes. After all, it’s made up of imperfect people. A country (and family and marriage) work best when those mistakes are dated, acknowledged, forgiven, and heeded. None of these men and women, who laid down their lives for our nation, died only for their issues. We all have issues and beliefs that we hold dearly. We all have areas in which we disagree in our wonderful country. We do have wonderful diversity in the United States.

In the very fabric of America is diversity and differences in nearly every area of finances, religion, community, relationships and least of all, sports. But I can cheer for the Cardinals while you cheer for the Cubs. As someone said, “We can be brothers without being twins.” We don’t have to see it the same but we do need to respect each other’s views.

So, this Memorial Day season, may we all be people who love and accept those around us. Might we be “curious instead of judgmental.” The truth is,

judging really takes us nowhere, as a country or in relationships. But curiosity has the ability to allow us to love.

Imagine the capacity of Jesus to feel compassion. “When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick”, Matt. 14:14. He knew what was in the heart of man, yet still bestowed love and compassion towards all. He saw the worst parts of man and knew He would eventually die by the hand of mankind, but he still loved.

This Memorial Day, might we honor those who died, not by the sacrifice of our lives, but by the sacrifice of our flesh. Might that judgmental, non- loving part of us be set aside and let us choose to love those who surround us. Glance at First Corinthians 13 if you need a reminder of what that love looks like. The best picture of love is Jesus dying on a cross for us, that we might have peace and connection with Him.

Thank you, men and women, who gave their very lives for our country...and for us.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Codfish and Trials

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 

knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 

and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” -James 1:1-4


Difficulties and trials aren’t our favorite parts of life, but much like athletics, we understand the necessity of “workouts,” even though our preference would be a cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper by the pool. Did any of us enjoy running wind-sprints after practice or two-hour workouts on a hot Texas afternoon? We don’t like difficulty and trial, but we understand the necessity of it all. Our coaches pushed us so we would be in shape for the game, just as God pushes so we’ll be at our best for life. Resting in letting God have His way and will makes all the difference!


Chuck Swindoll tells a great story about codfish. In the NE United States codfish are a big commercial business. There is a market for eastern cod all over, especially in sections farthest removed from the northeast coastline. But the public demand posted a problem to the shippers. At first, they froze the cod, then shipped them elsewhere, but the freeze took away much of the flavor. So, they experimented with shipping them alive, in tanks of seawater, but that proved even worse. Not only was it more expensive, but the cod also still lost its flavor and, in addition, became soft and mushy. The texture was seriously affected. 


Finally, some creative person solved the problem in a most innovative manner. The codfish were placed in the tank of water along with their natural enemy- the catfish. From the time the cod left the east Coast until it arrived at its westernmost destination, those ornery catfish chased the cod all over the tank. And, you guessed it, when the cod arrived at the market, they were as fresh as when they were first caught. There was no loss of flavor nor was the texture affected. If anything, it was better than before. 


Each one of us is in a tank of particular and inescapable circumstance. It is painful enough to stay in the tank. But in addition to our situation, there are God-appointed “catfish” to bring sufficient tension that keeps us alive, alert, fresh, and growing. It’s all part of God’s project to shape our character so we will be more like His Son. 


Understand why the catfish are in your tank. Understand they are part of God’s method of producing character in your life and mine. Understanding doesn’t mean we “like” it, but we don’t have to like it to submit ourselves to it. Hum. That’s where faith trusts and submits to a sovereign God- even when nothing makes sense! That’s the reason we have the narrative called the Bible to remind us that we can have peace and contentment in the midst of difficulty. 


Be willing to trust God and let Him do His thing in our lives. His plans are good- kind of crazy sometimes, but good. Understanding God’s good purpose doesn’t make the trial any easier. We would all prefer to “have our cake and eat it too.” In other words, we want all the rewards of trial without the difficulty.


But let’s rise up, put on our pads and run on down to the field where practice is beginning. God will give us all the strength we need to play the game. May we call upon Him to give us the strength to battle the catfish in our tank. 


May we let the struggle with that employee or the difficulty with our spouse or the tension with our teenager be a chance for us to display character and integrity. May we let God’s plans have their way in our lives. And may we trust that He really does know what He’s doing…


…catfish and all.


By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS




Wednesday, April 27, 2022

God's Delays

“Yet those who wait for the LORD, will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary” -Isaiah 40:31


Waiting has always been a challenge for this youngest child, Joey Staples. The pace of society today hasn’t helped me at all. I expect instant answers and instant solutions. I text someone and expect an answer within 5 minutes. Back in the day, if someone missed the stagecoach, they had to wait a month until it came through again. Today, if the plane is five minutes late, most people go berserk. But the truth is, God is in control. His timing is paramount to our well-being IF we choose to trust Him. 


The attached poem by Robert Schuller has always proven true to me:


God’s Delay is Not God’s Denial


God always hears and answers prayer,

Though long may be the trial.

Let patience bloom while God prepares;

Delay is not denial.

When God would glorify His Name,

And make His blessing great;

The one whose heart God's will doth frame

Must sometimes pray and wait.

But come, the answer surely must,

For God has never lied.

And faith, which looks at God in trust,

God never has denied.

So when the weeks turn months, then years,

And doubt feign would defile,

Beseech the more and that with tears;

Delay is not denial.



God always hears our prayers, 

But He does not always say, "Yes!" 

Sometimes He says, "Wait" 

Sometimes He says, "No" 

For He has something better for us.

God's delays are not denials, 

He has heard your prayer; 

He knows all about your trials, 

Knows your every care.

God's delays are not denials, 

Help is on the way, 

He is watching o'er life's dials, 

Bringing forth that day. 

God's delays are not denials, 

You will find Him true, 

Working through the darkest trials, 

What is best for you.


God has a good plan for our lives also. 


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) 


May we welcome God’s change of plans as good. Look back on the times when God blocked a plan and “caused all things to work together for good.” I’m so glad that Paula and I broke up (by note) in 6th grade! I’m glad because God had another person waiting, Jeanie, as a part of His plan. And we’ve been married 41 years! 


May we all rest and be secure in HIS plan. May we all wait well. Resting in His care and walking at HIS pace makes all the difference. Even when none of it makes sense, we trust in His plan. Whether it’s a “yes,” “wait,” or “no,” He is in control. His ways are always higher…


…so, may we rest in the lower as we move to His higher.


By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

An Unlikely Friendship

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” -Phil. 2:3

China is hosting the XXIV (24th) Olympic games right now. It has been fun for Jeanie and me to watch. As always, these games are being held during controversy. But Olympics have always occurred in challenging times, which is part of what is remarkable about the Olympics. We, as a broken and divided world, lay down our arms and compete. But sometimes we just can’t leave it alone. Oh, but sometimes we can!

History is messy and wonderful at the same time. At the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Jesse Owens came as an American Olympian track star and Lutz Long was a German Olympian track star.

But African American Jesse Owens became friends with Lutz Long, who was a Nazi soldier. Despite the presence of angry, racist leader, Adolf Hitler, at the games and plenty of Americans who had bias towards all Germans, these two made the choice to be friends.

Long publicly embraced Owens while American President Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t send Owens a congratulatory telegram after his impressive wins.

“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler,” Owens later said in an interview. “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have, and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Lutz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace.”

After besting Long and taking home gold in the long jump (and three other medals),  Owens was famously photographed saluting the American flag. Long stood behind him, offering the Nazi salute.

The two remained friends, keeping in contact as much of world plunged into war. Long was stationed with the German Army in North Africa before being killed in action on July 14, 1943, during the Allied invasion of Sicily, at the Battle of San Pietro. In his last letter to Owens, Long, seemingly aware of his impending fate wrote, “My heart tells me, if I can be honest with you, that this is the last letter I shall ever write. If it is so, I ask you something. It is a something so very important to me. It is you go to Germany when this war done, someday find my Karl [Kai], and tell him about his father. Tell him, Jesse, what times were like when we are not separated by war. I am saying—tell him how things can be between men on this earth.”

In 1951 Owens traveled to Germany to meet Long’s then 10-year-old son, Kai, fulfilling his promise to indeed tell the young boy how things could be. Owens eventually served as best man at Kai’s wedding, and the two families remain in contact to this day.”

Their friendship was and is powerful. They were men of their times but didn’t let that keep them from being friends. If they could figure it out, we should be able to do the same.

Making the choice to befriend and love is a choice we make (or don’t make). We can’t do this unless we choose to look past circumstances and bias and make the choice to love. It doesn’t mean I agree with their values- but it does mean I agree with their value.

In the all-time best show of love, our loving God chose to make us His own by sending Jesus to die on the cross to take away our sin. We did nothing to earn it. He “befriended” us by His grace. Saying “yes” to Jesus is to become a friend of God. Our friendships here on planet earth are meant to be reproductions of that Godly relationship.

May we all be willing to see past the skin color, nationality, political views and differences and reach out to love. May we be willing to befriend our brothers and sisters, no matter the variation. Let’s all “go for the gold” …

…and love each other.

 By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS





Friday, January 21, 2022

Reap What You Sow

“Do not call to mind the former things or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert” -
Is. 43:19-19

 It’s January 2022! If you’re like me, my whole “schedule-calendar lobe” in my brain has been on hold for the past year or so. The other day, I was trying to find the Rangers game on the TV and then realized it’s not baseball season- it’s football season! OK, I made that up, but it has been a disoriented- challenging move into the New Year. 


“What are you thinking about the New Year?,” Bill asked. “I think it’s going to be all roses,” Denise replied. “But how do you know that?” Bill asked. “Because that’s what I’ve been planting,” said Denise. 


A New Year- 2022. Sounds like a sci-fi movie but it’s where we are today. It is indeed a new year- a year of potential and a year of newness. It’s a time of new beginnings. It is a year for us to start over. It is an opportunity for us to plant roses. 


Of course, planting roses doesn’t mean the garden is spotless and beautiful all the time. I plant the roses, but I don’t control all the factors; rainfall, condition of the soil, or how many dogs trample through the flower bed. I’m not in control of all of life’s circumstances. But, if I am diligent about the areas I do control, roses tend to grow. If I take responsibility for myself, I can help myself grow. 


We all hear the challenges to make New Year’s resolutions: don’t eat too much, exercise more often, get ten hours of sleep each night (?). Perhaps this year we can “sow” goals that are likely to grow roses. Focusing on fertilizing this year might be great for the yard, but probably won’t affect the roses growing in the front flower bed. We need to tend to the flower bed.


We have this weird tendency to focus on things that are out of our control and disconnect from things that we can handle. For example, I can watch the national news today at 5:30 and hear about the international struggles in the Middle East. By the way,  I advise people quite often not to watch the news. Not to reinforce denial and sticking our heads in the sand, but the news is always 90% negative and depressing. That’s why people watch it. People don’t want to hear thirty minutes on how great things are. Most of this lost world is…lost and unhappy. Negative news helps reinforce and validate my despondent state. Sad but true. I won’t find the encouragement I need there, but yet we run to the Internet, Google and press for our news. We have absolutely no control over the state of the Middle East, but we crave the latest updates about it all. 


On the other hand, I do have control over most of my own time and schedule. I know I need to spend time with the God I love-in the Bible and in prayer, I know I need to spend time exercising, I know I need to spend time with my wonderful wife Jeanie, but my soul can be lazy in those crucial areas. 


May this year be different. May we be people who “live and let live,” people who take responsibility for our own lives and release ourselves from trying to control those around us. After all, how much control do I have over those around me?  Let’s all say it together…ZERO. I might think I have control, but the truth is, I don’t. Sure, I care but I can’t control. 


I pray 2022 will be different for us all. May we be correctly focused on the ingredients that will cultivate growth in our lives. May I set the boundaries and the goals necessary for me to grow. It’s not selfish at all. Truth is, when I take responsibility for me, it frees me up to love and care for those around me. Not control- but care. 


May we all grow roses as we cultivate and care for ourselves, love those around us and lean on the grace of God in 2022.


By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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