In a fast-paced and sometimes cold hearted world, many women struggle simply to survive, to raise their children and along the way have lives that are at the least productive and at the best, fulfilled … Patsy Welch is one of these women and her tale is one that many will recognize — filled with sadness, struggle, alcohol, death, and divorce. But laced amid the daily chaos, shines a faith so strong and friendships so resilient it will forever change the way you see the world. While Patsy’s life is anything but a fairy tale, its ending rings with transformation and redemption so real it will stir even the cynical to great hope.
To quote Patsy herself: The end of her days has turned out to be better than the beginning.
Those who have read the manuscript have responded with unusual enthusiasm. When asked whether or not there were enough inspirational books out in the marketplace, Cave Henricks Communications’ owner and President Barbara Cave Henricks quickly replied, “No, not enough riveting, well-written ones with broad appeal like this one. This is ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ meets Annie Lamott and I think it has that same kind of potential.”
Because Patsy also has a very keen sense of humor and a Lucille Ball-like life sometimes, there are “Patsy Moments” every few pages, stories about her frantic and often hilariously funny escapades.. These short 1-page glimpses into Patsy’s life keep the book and the subject matter from getting too ‘heavy’. Rich People Shop Here will inspire and encourage people, no matter what their circumstances.
I spoke this week to a group at Hill Country Bible Church about the fact that everybody is called to do something in this life. Everybody. And then we discussed the excuses we all give from time to time that allow us to talk ourselves out of it.
One thing I should have talked more about is how important patience is to the process. It’s easy to compare our progress toward our calling with others who may be further down the road and more ‘successful’. I believe that ‘success’ should be defined a bit differently. I think continuing to strive and being consistent is a form of success. Honing our craft and just plain getting better at what we do is success.
So, with that in mind, let me take a minute and rejoice about what I think is a breakthrough. After more than 35 years of writing songs, someone has finally recorded one my songs on her new CD. Suzzette Michaels, gospel singer extraordinaire out of Nashville, has recorded “There’s a Place” on her new record, “Stronger Every Day”. She and her producer, Ernie Rowell, totally ‘got’ this song and created a beautiful rendition of it. It released about a week ago and should be available on iTunes and Amazon.com, as well as on her website.
The lesson here? If you’re sure about your calling….never give up. Keep going, keep improving, keep working on it, even if you are only seeing tiny steps of progress. You’ll get there. Probably not in the exact time frame you would have picked, but definitely at just the RIGHT time.
Every year the Gallup Organization publishes a statistic about how many people by their own admission are getting to do what they do best every day. I haven’t seen the number recently, but for many years it remained mostly unchanged at 20%. Put another way, 80% of people go off to jobs every day that they feel is just something they do, not THE something they do. To me, that’s alarming.
There’s really no telling the impact that this has on our culture. People who are doing something that they resonate with are healthier, happier, and more productive than others. Time flies. And, it doesn’t seem like work. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.
Ever been in the zone like that? It’s a spiritual experience, when you plug your gifts and talents into a role that requires all or most of them. It’s an amazing feeling.
I think an obvious question is why aren’t more people doing what they do best every day? The late and great Don Clifton, who wrote Now, Discover Your Strengths, used to say that “everyone does one thing better than 10,000 other people. That’s the good news. The bad news? Most people have no idea what that one thing is.”
Do you know what that one thing is? Have you ever dreamed of trying to make a living at it? Is there somebody talking you out of it?
I was thinking one day about the 12 disciples and it occured to me that they were really just commoners-fishermen and tax collectors, etc., at least as far as the world could tell at the time. But then, Jesus showed up, and asked them to help Him change the world. Can you imagine the response from their families when they got home that day? “You want to WHAT????” Change the world???? Yeah, right. Don’t you know that all you’ll ever be is a fisherman? Your father’s a fisherman. Your grandfather is a fisherman. Stop daydreaming and go back down there and get your nets back!!!!”
But Jesus knew what they really were, and He made them believe it. And 2000 years later, we’re still talking about them.
So, what are you waiting for?
Let me begin by saying that I hate change. I like the status quo, I get comfy and cozy with it, and then….
Life changes. It’s not a question of WHETHER there will be change, but WHEN. And, then the issue is HOW do I handle it? It would be nice to always know what’s ahead, but we are not given that luxury. Most of the time I can only see 10 feet in front of me, and I have to trust that I have heard The Commander right, and that somewhere up ahead is the next stopping point.
So far, it has served me well to keep trudging forward in spite of my misgivings and outright fear. I am commanded to “be anxious for nothing”. I don’t think that leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Got a bad medical report? NOTHING. Not sure where the next dollar is coming from? NOTHING. Kids acting up? NOTHING. Is Life changing too fast? NOTHING.
So, onward I go to whatever’s next. I think I’ll whistle as I walk today, not to calm my jitters, but to signal to anyone who’ll listen that deep inside I am joyful, and I am actually looking forward to what’s next.
The journey keeps getting more and more interesting.
I have made a decision to talk less.
After this past weekend with friends, I realized that I talk too much. My wife, who is much smarter and wiser than me, needs to get a word in edge-wise occasionally, too. Hopefully, she can from here on.
I need to listen more, and when I do speak I need to choose my words more carefully. Because it turns out that words are very important and shouldn’t be used indiscriminately. They’re powerful, and they can change everything.
Some people have had words spoken to them that have altered their lives forever. How many of us have heard “What are you thinking?” or “You’ll NEVER be able to ____ (fill in the blank). And for many, that was the end of pursuing their dreams. A new friend of mine, Ryan Rush, has a book that just published called ‘Walls’. He says walls are NOT our circumstances, they are the REACTION to our circumstances. Somebody hurts my feelings or discourages me, and I stop right there, progressing no further until I can hear something different. From someone.
It happens all the time. And the older you get, the more negative talk you seem to hear, from people who’ve either never tried to accomplish anything substantial or difficult, or from the ones who have tried and failed a time or two.
I’m blessed to have people around me who are realists, but who also think almost anything is doable. My team at Cave Henricks Communications is like that. We don’t look at the obstacles, we look at the hill and most of the time we take it together. My good friend Bob Beaudine says life would be so much more fun if we do something we love everyday with people we love. He’s right.
I’ve had a great life and more blessings than I deserve. But, I, like most people, have an unfulfilled dream or two. Music is one of those, songwriting in particular. I love my job promoting books and authors and ideas. But on my drive in to the office and back home in the afternoons, I hear music. Not on the radio, but in my head and heart. It’s a strange and wonderful gift that I absolutely do not take for granted. Over the years I’ve written probably 500 songs. I get a kick out of writing and submitting those songs to other artists to consider for their recordings. Someday, it will happen. I’m sure of it. I’ll be driving down the road and I’ll hear one of my songs on the radio.
In the meantime, I quiet all the voices I hear that say I’m too old, it’s too late, the business is changing, etc. And I sit down and write what’s in my heart, and it touches people, and they tell me about it.
It touches them because the right words in the right order and the right context delivered at just the right moment are powerful-either for good or for bad. I want to be an encourager. The world hears enough of the other stuff.
So, I plan to talk less. But, I hope to say more that matters….
Well, here are some words I thought I’d never say:
I recently took a cruise!
Note the exclamation point at the end of that sentence. It represents unbridled joy. It represents the most fun I’ve ever had on a vacation. And. here’s the crazy part: I don’t drink, I don’t gamble, I hardly dance, I eat like a bird, I’m never doing Karaoke, and I’m not wild about enclosed spaces. Yes, I’m kind of a weird duck, and I freely admit it.
OK. So how did this happen? First of all, the reason for going on the trip was cool. It was my Aunt Marlene and Uncle Bobby’s 50th wedding anniversary, and their kids had decided to surprise them by having 40-50 family members and friends just show up on deck, so when they arrived on the ship they would walk out and see us. Is that cool or what? What followed was a lot of intrigue, a few white lies, and….a BIG surprise.
Then, after we surprised them, Susie and I went to our stateroom, and to be honest, I was kind of nervous about what it would be like. I was visualizing maybe SUBMARINE, where they would have to turn me sideways to squeeze me into my 3 by 5 room. Instead, we walked into a well-appointed room that was bigger than any Manhattan hotel room I’ve ever been in. We had a balcony with 2 chairs and a little table. Susie and I could sit out there in the morning and drink our coffee and watch the sun rise over the Caribbean.
Mercy. I was ready to sign up for the next cruise and I hadn’t even finished this one.
No cel phones, no internet, completely unhooked from the world. My good friend, author Greg Cootsona, says we should all do this as often as we need it….that saying NO and walking away for a bit is what leads to greatness down the road. And, he acknowledges that most of us are not very good at walking away, but he says we should definitely learn how to do it.
He’s right. By day 2, I was sitting out on the veranda, looking at the ocean, reading CS Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain” and I believe I actually could feel the stress leaving my body. One of my cousins said “you know, you look like somebody took an iron and just ironed all the stress out of your face.”
We’re cruising again next January. Maybe Hawaii this time…..
Well, it’s the New Year and it’s time to change some things.
Really, it is.
It’s heartbreaking to see what is happening between people, and I see it all the time. People waste a lot of time and energy being teed off at one another, and in the end, nothing really happens for the good.
But, there’s another way. Come with me to The Welch Family Christmas for a minute or two and look in on this bunch.
The Welch Family Christmas is a hoot, and a good example of what can be done when people decide to just let it go. The truth is, we have had the same kind of crap that every family has seen: divorce, death, sadness, heartbreak, anger, fear, etc.
But somehow, we have decided to just get over it. To love one another, as “I have loved you.” You know what? It’s a tall order to wake up in the morning and do something that is OPPOSITE of what your gut tells you to do. To love in spite of what you feel like doing. And the results? Well, see for yourself. The room is filled with people who really care about each other, and love each other, and frankly most of these people shouldn’t even know each other.
If you’re one of the OPPRESSORS, someone who’s bound and determined to make somebody pay for the perceived wrongs they’ve done to you, how about giving it a rest for a year or two? All you’re doing is raising a lot of sand, stirring everybody up, and in the end, making no positive difference at all. Oh, you’re also killing yourself, and building a wider and wider moat between you and people who really would like to care about you if you’d give them the chance.
You can’t win. Not like that.
And, if you’re somebody on the other side who’s being harassed by these tortured souls, try this: feel sorry for them, and stop losing sleep over them, and let it go. Just for a year or two.
It’s not that long, really. Just 365 days. No big deal….
If you (either the oppressor or the oppressed) will try this for just one year I’ll make this money back guarantee: You’ll love the peace and quiet! You’ll find that people want to have you around more. You’ll be healthier and happier. You’ll be more prosperous.
So, turn over a new leaf. You (and those who have to live with you) will be glad you did. Have a happy new year. I hope 2011 is your best year yet!
There was a great episode of the old Andy Griffith Show that had Andy trying to end a generations-long feud between 2 families. When he suggests to one of the feuders that he might want to stop fighting with his neighbor, the man replies, “You don’t understand, Andy, I have to shoot at him because he’s a Wakefield.” It turns out that neither family could remember what started the feud, and nobody had the guts to stop it, so it just kept going.
You ever do anything like that? I have. It usually starts with a rumor of some kind, and ends with me lugging a grudge around without really knowing the details about why I’m carrying it, or if I should. I’ve had my feelings hurt because I heard somebody said something….then found out (sometimes years later) that they never said anything like that.
And, what if they HAD said it (whatever ‘it’ is)? Is that really a reason to build a moat around myself and shut down communication with that individual?
Familes do it all the time. Hardly any family doesn’t have an ongoing conflict that could be resolved with just a pinch of grace and understanding and mercy.
Even the church does it. I once heard about a church that got into a pitched battle over whether the piano should be on the stage or on the floor, and the parishioners got mad at each other and split the church-dissolved it. If anybody should understand mercy and grace it should be the church.
So, yes, they may be ‘Wakefields’. But why don’t you take the first step and walk over there to their fence and have a chat with them. Clear the air. Life is too short to carry a grudge around.
We (The team at my company, Cave Henricks Communications and their families) all rose bright and early yesterday morning to run in the Austin, TX Susan G. Komen run. We had a great time, then we all came back to our place for brunch and an all-too-short visit.
I work with great people. They are bright, and very successful, and they have a kindness streak a mile wide. They really do care. They ask often how mom is faring, and they never ask as if it was a duty. They ask as if the answer really matters, because it does.
Mom doesn’t really understand everything about the Susan G. Komen organization, what it does, why it exists, etc. But she does understand that some people who didn’t have to, put on their running shoes and headed out into the chilly morning to band together as one, and they did it on her behalf. We all wore pink Team Patsy shirts, with a great picture of her from her carhop days emblazoned across the front of the pinkest shirts I have ever seen.
Team Patsy. It’s a good team, and a great mission.
Mission accomplished. Yesterday afternoon mom traveled back to Houston feeling really honored.
To each of you, my undying gratitude.
Well, we are coming up on the one year anniversary of the publication of Rich People Shop Here. It has been quite a year, and it feels like we are just beginning. I’ve had a chance to speak around the country, we’ve been the guest of a book club or two, and we’ve done some TV and radio interviews. We’ve also gotten some great feedback from people who have read the book and decided to do something different in their relationships and families.
It has already exceeded my expectations, and I think the buzz and excitement bode well for the next year. To those of you who bought books for yourself and friends, many thanks. And, thanks a million to my multi-talented friends Sam and Jean Taylor for shooting the awesome videos for the book, and to my new friend Michael Crawford for having me on his Phoenix TV show. Lots of great feedback coming in on all of that
My good friends Larry Davis and Terry Whalin at my publisher Intermedia say the fun is just starting, and they’re sure that the best is yet to come. I hope they are right. So, what can we do to help push the book to the next level? If you haven’t gone to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and written a review, please do so. That would help immensely. Also, if your church occasionally brings in guest speakers, please recommend me to your pastors and staff for a speaking engagement next year. If you belong to a book club, please adopt the book as a book of the month to read and discuss in your group.
Someone this week recommended that we talk to Christian colleges around the country about speaking there. We’ll be doing that, and aggressively reaching out to churches across the country over the next few weeks to arrange next year’s speaking schedule.
Sometimes I wonder what all the fuss is about. But then, I realize that the story reminds us all about what matters, and it reminds us that true friendship and unconditional love and forgiveness never go out of style or fashion. It also reminds us that no matter where we are in our walk through this world, that betters days are ahead.
I am blessed to be a small part of all the good that is coming from this story. Again, I feel like we are really just getting started. Keep us in your prayers!
Off to Phoenix for the weekend. Book signings on Saturday, and a TV show on Monday!
Here are the details for those of you in Phoenix who might like to join us:
Saturday 11-1 at Savers, 10720 W. Indian School Rd, Phoenix AZ 85037
Saturday 2-4 PM at Borders, 7320 W. Bell Rd. Glendale AZ 85308
Saturday 6PM Lil Deemos Restaurant 5830 W. Bell Road Glendale, AZ 85308
Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. It means more than you know.