Finding Virtue

Finding Virtue

Every now and then, I hear someone muse, “I think God hates me.”

Odds are good, their spoken comment is a verbal manifestation of the thought all humans have, at times.

Usually, those times are when everything seems to be going bass-ackwards.

If you’re like me, we look for someone to hold accountable for our troubles. As frustration grows and temperament sours, I spot the rascal responsible for everything wrong in my life. As I prepare for a new day, there he is, in my bathroom mirror, scowling right back at me.

What a pathetic sight. I laugh at him and he laughs at me. Then, I’m reminded, “The world is what I make of it. If it doesn’t fit, make alterations.”

Often, we know the right things to do. In other words, we know What to do and, even, How to do it. Problem is we lose sight of Why it’s so important to be doing the right things.

Many times, we discover our favorites by experiencing the distasteful. Without the dark of night, the light of day is impossible to appreciate. Same thing holds true for the touchy-feely intangibles of emotions like love and hate. To recognize love is to understand hate.

There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests:

  • haughty eyes,
  • a lying tongue,
  • hands that kill the innocent,
  • a heart that plots evil,
  • feet that race to do wrong,
  • a false witness who pours out lies,
  • a person who sows discord in a family.

As I consider the list and think about the results produced by these seven causes of hate, I’m enlightened, empowered, and encouraged to focus on doing the exact opposite.

  • kind eyes,
  • a truthful tongue,
  • hands that heal the innocent,
  • a heart that plans righteousness,
  • feet that patiently choose to always do right,
  • a conscientious messenger who defends the truth,
  • a person who plants seeds of harmony and unity in families.

Oh, and that miserable funk in which I had been a participant of earlier, simply, disappears. The fog of resignation and despair lifts to reveal the sunshine of fascination and curiosity.

At the moment I choose to focus on the attributes of love, the sources of hate lose their power. If I have been the practitioner of the distasteful, I can change. If I have been the recipient of the destructive conduct of another, changing them is not an option.

What I can do is to choose my response.

As for me, I choose love.

www.kimfoard.com

Tough Love

Ribbon of LoveIn this season of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All, why is that so hard to find?

Recently, this encouragement caught my eye: When someone loves you, they don’t have to say it; you can tell by the way they treat you.

Actions speak louder than words.

Accepting that LOVE is an action verb, what exactly are we to be doing?

Gifts galore with no end in sight,
How mighty we’ve become
To think affection we can buy.

Harm is caused to those we slight,
Because they simply desire a welcome,
A pleasant greeting and a “Hi!”

Stuff is an accumulation of an ending never.
Kindness is an opportunity of a beginning forever.

Love is patient; love is kind; love rejoices with the truth; it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

I can read that sentence over and over, again and again. What I see is: all action; no stuff.

At this time of year, many are adamant in declaring, “Christ is the reason for the season.”

OK. Let’s take a look at what He has to say.

So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

Again, what I see is: the action to reconcile; then, the stuff of sacrifice.

For the Pack-Rats among us, there is a subtlety worthy of note. The stuff is temporarily ours; right up to the moment we offer it in sacrifice.

For the recipients (who might be the individuals of family and friends, or our heavenly Father) of these sacrificial gifts, what is more important: Action, or Stuff?

The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.

Oh, how the chorus continues: Thank you for the stuff. Please, do what is right.

For the Modernists among us, there is a Right and Wrong. In fact, there are very few Maybes. Yes and No are as definitive as Left and Right.

This is Right.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

Now, that’s a definition of Tough Love.

www.kimfoard.com

Little Things

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And, all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

All of us encounter big challenges throughout our lives: some, of our own making; others, from the hand of fate. When we are standing nose-to-nose with the Monster, there are two choices: Forfeit our dreams and the prize; or, Chisel the beast down to size!

Mile by mile, it’s a trial,
Yard by yard, it’s hard,
Inch by inch, it’s a cinch.

Little things make a big difference:

1.) In the entire universe, there is only one YOU. The fingerprint of your touch is unique in the lives of those in the sphere of your influence.

2.) While respectful of the very tangible Role Power by those in authority, you hold in your hands the greater intangible Relationship Power to enlighten, empower, and encourage.

3.) The person most mature in any relationship will lead the way by being proactive, patient, and kind. You have the ability to break down dissenters by loving them to pieces.

4.) All good things in life must be built. By doing your planning and preparing to succeed in being a good steward of Time and Money, the sanctuary of a home nurtures innovation.

5.) Construction is an ugly business. From the bits and pieces of a beginning, masterful creations are the result of your passionate brick-by-brick effort to deliver value to the world.

6.) By asking, seeking, and knocking, you will hear ideas, find truth, and walk through open doors. Each person has something to share.  Care abundantly; Listen intently; then, Do good.

7.) Focus only on changing “Things” within your Control. “People” change, only, when they make the decision to behave differently. Forget about pleasing others; Work on yourself.

Big things and big people have their reward in the daily headlines. They are so proud of their largess. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Salvation of the kingdom will be done by the little people, who humbly tighten the nails to save the shoe, save the horse, save the rider, save the day, and preserve the kingdom for the benefit of everyone!

www.kimfoard.com

Pleasant Conversation

Pleasant ConversationThere is a way to know what is at the core of a person: Listen, carefully, to what they say.

The adage is true, “What we say flows from what is in our heart.”

We guard our hearts by fixing our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.

A choice is made to, only, think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Anyone professing to espouse LOVE will sound like a bubbling stream of these seven attributes.

Patient: The accomplished Masters of patience know that communication is what the listener does. There is a silence between our last words and their reply. They listen to every bit of what we have to say, before sharing their thoughts.

Kind: A four letter word brought to life by those who “Know Inherently Nice Delights”. Small demonstrations of generosity and loyalty bring smiles to all. These practitioners believe in the physician’s creed of “Cause No Harm.”

Rejoices with the Truth: Happiness added to Honesty, literally, makes us want to dance!

Protects: The purveyors of protection understand the importance of preserving confidence. Secrets are safe with them; Solutions are discovered in their embrace; and, they are a Sanctuary from the storms of life.

Trusts: When push comes to shove, those who have our back are worth their weight in gold. In fact, because they believe in the Golden Rule, we can trust that they will do everything, exactly, as they said. Their word is our bond, priceless in value and peace of mind.

Hopes: In the center between Faith and Charity, this is the anchor for our soul. With an abundance of hope, all things are possible. Lessons from the Past are acknowledged; each moment of the Present is enjoyed; and, the Future is anticipated with fascination and curiosity.

Perseveres: Much more than never giving up, this is a chosen purposeful effort, often done in the face of fear, to nurture our own growth, and the growth of others. It is demonstrated as the steadfast determination of willpower to, always, do what is right.

Why is Pleasant Conversation so, very, important? Because, all we do begins with a thought. Whether we think we can, or can’t, we’re right. The pleasant conversation of a friend can nudge the needle past the broken-record groove of our repetitive thought patterns to enlighten, empower, and encourage us to more positive actions.

That same friend can lead a conversation to new horizons of discovery, which provide opportunities for growth in thought and deed. As iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen friends; until, we find ourselves on the cutting-edge of Love and the leading-edge of Pleasant Conversation!

www.kimfoard.com

Riding for the Brand

Four V

On the prairies and frontiers of a century ago, men rode for the brand and women admired their efforts. The strong, silent types of the silver screen and sagebrush oceans were benevolently loyal and sternly kind. They were the original men of Steel and Velvet.

It was a time of personal responsibility and unlimited opportunity. The men and women of that era were keenly aware that the world was what they made of it — if it didn’t fit, they made alterations.

Young men traveled west in pursuit of their dreams. They came with all of their belongings in a bed-roll tied behind their saddle and a rifle in the scabbard. No horse, no cows, no land — nothing permanent. All they possessed was a crystal clear vision in their mind of what they wanted their future to be.

The work on that future began by establishing relationships in the area of their new home. An option for many was to cowboy for the cattle empires and land barons. Cows and dirt are of limited value until properly managed. A cowboy was the catalyst to turn a horse remuda into a money making machine.

From the rope used to catch their first horse of the day, to the jingle of the spurs at their heels, those cowboys took care of their gear. Saddles were oiled, cinches were reinforced, and saddle bags were provisioned with the tools of their trade. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement — the Cowboys provided mind and muscle — the Barons provided everything else.

Understood by all — Loyalty and kindness was the rule of the range.

Kindness was evident around the chuck wagons. Cooks did their best to fuel the ambition of hard-working young men. Strangers were offered the generosity of a meal. Care of the animals was on the minds of everyone.

Loyalty was the difference between life and death. There was an understanding — you were either friend, or foe. There was never the Political Correctness of making excuses for poor choices. Cattle rustlers were hung and horse thieves were shot, by the men who knew the importance of riding for the brand.

Four V was given to me by my Dad about the time he was shortening stirrup leathers to fit the legs of a five year old. Wise man he was to know that the Brand fits me. Four is representative of the four winds and four corners of the world. As an Objective Thinker, I consider all four quadrants formed by the intersecting lines of Up, Down and Sideways. The V is what it takes to break through the drifts of prejudice formed by the inertia of many. As a Trailblazer, I thrive on going where others fear to tread.

Lazy J F BarLazy J F Bar was given to my son by my Dad about the time he was building his Grandson custom chaps, with fringes for flair. Although the initials J F were apropos for the man James Foard, “lazy” in the sense of idleness is a misnomer. It is reflective, though, of the gentle, subdued, behavior of a big, big, man. He was always quick to bend a knee in service and subordinate his desires in the best interest of others. His grandson continues that tradition. Both men apply the Bar as an underscore to their every effort.

One brand composed of straight lines and interconnected — another, with the curvature of style and distinction of application. They carry an unspoken appreciation for the past, discipline of the present, and hopes for the future. For the efforts they represent, each Brand carries a legacy of family and tradition.

Whether applied with a hot iron, chiseled into stone, or tickled from the keyboard into a digital universe, our individual Brands are worthy of honor and respect. Similar to a flag over a sovereign county, they are a symbol for: Who we are, the principles for which we stand — and, the sacrifices we are able and willing to make.

Let us always be kind and loyal, as we ride for the brand.

Building Bright Financial Futureswww.kimfoard.com

Greatest of These

Faith, Hope, and Love

Some days we’re the windshield; some days we’re the bug. The roller-coaster of life can take its toll on our psyches. As a CPA, for the last thirty years, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity, and privilege, of guiding others toward the destinations of their choice. My focus has always been on that word in the center of Certified Public Accountant; I believe “It’s all about the people.”

The “it” is life itself; abundant, fruitful, rich and vibrant life.

Faith is “The substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” Gravity is a prime example for us to consider. Each morning, we awake to find ourselves firmly anchored to the bed; some mornings more so than others. As we roll ourselves out, our feet touch the floor with complete confidence that we can journey successfully through the day.

Hope is “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” Many tease that accountants have no feelings. While words can express logic, they are inadequate in the expression of feelings. As children, we all made wishes. Many times, adults tempered our hopes with, “If wishes were horses, we’d all have a ride.”

Love is “The greatest gift; and, is a chosen, purposeful effort, often done in the face of fear, to nurture our own growth and the growth of others.”

Since faith and hope are intangibles outside of our control, let’s focus on what is within our sphere of influence. While we can think Faith, and feel Hope; we can do Love.

Love is patient, Love is kind, Rejoices with the truth, Always protects, Always trusts, Always hopes, Always perseveres.

Question: Can we be patient, kind, happy, truthful, protective, trusting, hopeful and perseverant? Answer: Yes. Even beyond the simple affirmative, we can do that for ourselves, if all alone; and, for others, when given the opportunity. The secret is in the four-letter word: give.

When our faith is shaken and our hope is tattered, the road back to both is paved with love. We can begin immediately to offer it to ourselves, first; and, then, to others. As we do, we will find that love “Always hopes” and through that discovery, our hope is restored. Then, because of that hope, we find the substance of faith making it, all, possible!

Since perfect love casts out fear, we can boldly proclaim, “Now, these three remain: faith, hope and love; the greatest of these is Love.”

www.kimfoard.com

Alpha and Omega

Thoughts to Destiny

An oft quoted slogan is, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” There are two sides to that coin, I know. Yet, there is merit, in consideration of love being defined as “Love is patient, Love is kind, It rejoices with the truth, Always protects, Always trusts, Always hopes, Always perseveres.” None of that needs an apology.

What needs a little thought, though, is the question, “Where do we begin and end?”

One day when Lindsey and Ryan were grade school age, we were in Billings at the Applebees in the heights for lunch. As we were waiting for a table, we were also enjoying the signage. I’d seen it several times, before. Yet, it must have put the exclamation point behind the lesson for the day: “Unless you’re the lead dog, the view never changes.”

Maybe, that’s just another way of saying, “We get what we allow.” Many will try to feed us the crumbs of their time and affection. The result is a loss of energy and eventually the loss of our freedoms. How much better to sit at the banquet table of life and enjoy our God given right to be nourished.

In the animal kingdom, there is the Alpha Male, who struts his stuff and makes more noise than the competition. He tends to forget that there will always be a meaner gorilla, somewhere, who will grind him into dust and, eventually, be taken down by an even meaner gorilla, and so on, ad infinitum.

Refreshing is an Omega Male character like Bruce Willis, who, in his movies, is the epitome of the “Last Boy Scout”. He isn’t necessarily the strongest physically; yet, he simply refuses to accept defeat. Even when beaten until he’s bloody, he doggedly pursues the enemy; when tempted to take the easy way, he refuses to compromise; and, when we beg him to quit, he reminds us that the alternative to success is worse than death. He wins because he is the toughest: mentally and emotionally.

The years horseback taught a lesson that I use to guide others to destinations of their choice. A cowboy guides his herd by riding at the rear, moving up and along the sides, offering course corrections at the appropriate pace. Since cows never go in a straight line, the cowboy is alternating from one side, back across the rear of the herd, around to the other side, and so on, until the journey ends. Some of the cows offer appreciation for greener pastures; others give the impression it was their idea.

A shepherd, although different in philosophy from a cowboy, is also found behind those in his care. Rather than approach his flock with the intent of driving them, he comes prepared with a dog and a hook. Once noses are pointed in the direction of the day’s destination, sheep will be sheep, and the adventure begins. Wasting no time in thinking, they just do, as they rush to play “follow-the-leader”. They have implicit trust in the shepherd’s ability to rescue them from any misfortune.

Beginning to end, this is true: Thoughts lead to words; Words lead to actions; Actions lead to habits; Habits lead to character; and, Character leads to our Destiny.

www.kimfoard.com