Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Deathbed Regrets

On my last post, I included an article that touched on the subject of regrets.  I continued to ponder ways to live a life of no regrets.  During my research, I came across an interesting article online:



Admitted on Their Deathbed: Top 5 Regrets

You know the old saying: When you are on your deathbed, you won't wish you had worked longer hours. But what will you wish you had done--or not done in your life?

A palliative care nurse--that is someone who cares for the dying--has listened to a lot of patients who have come to the end of their days. "People grow a lot when faced with their own mortality," the anonymous nurse writes on EmpowerNetwork.com.

She says the emotional changes a dying person experiences are phenomenal, ranging from denial to remorse, fear to anger and eventually acceptance.

When she asked her dying patients if they had any regrets in their life, the answers were different, but common themes emerged again and again.

The top five regrets people have on their deathbed:

1. "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."
We all have dreams, but real life tends to get in the way. Many of our unrealized ambitions are due to choices we made--or didn't make--along the way.
What can you do now? Honor your dreams while you still have good health and the freedom that brings.

2. "I wish I didn't work so hard."
This is an especially common regret among men, who realize far too late in life that they missed much of their children's youth and their wife's companionship.
What can you do now? While work and the money it brings are essential, there are ways to simplify your lifestyle so you don't have to spend as much time at work or in a job that is so demanding it takes time away from what matters most.

3. "I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings."
To keep the peace, it's often easier to keep quiet. That can mean not only settling for a mediocre existence and never truly becoming all of which you are capable of being, but also being filled with bitterness and resentment.
What can you do now? Be honest with yourself and others. Say what is on your mind. Be your authentic self.

4. "I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends."
Old friends are one of our greatest blessings. Losing track of them in the busyness of life is something that can cause you great regret later. In the final weeks of life what matters most is love and friendship.
What can you do now? Make time for your friends. You may discover it's more a matter of scheduling and time management than a true lack of time.

5. "I wish that I had let myself be happier."
Happiness is a choice, and it's something that many people don't realize until they are dying. Our fear of change can stymie our chance to grow and try new things.
What can you do now? Laugh! Invite silliness and fun into your life on a daily basis.

--From the Editors at Netscape


Interesting to say the least!  After reading this list, what thoughts come to mind?  How can you make changes in your life?

Here’s another regret I’d like to add to the list and, on my list, this one would be FIRST:

1)      "I wish I would’ve accepted the gift of eternal life."

Many people never open the FREE gift that Christ has given them.  There are many reasons why they don’t, but in the end, it’s the ultimate regret.

What can you do now?  Accept Christ!  All you have to do is believe.

John 11:25

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.


It’s that simple – all you have to do is believe and accept this FREE gift!  Once you receive Jesus, the Holy Spirit inhabits your heart and makes you a new creation. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

The Holy Spirit will help you change from the inside out and, in the end, you won’t have the ultimate regret.  You’ll inherit your eternal gift and live forever with Christ and the saints!!







Sunday, October 7, 2012

Making Time for What Matters Most

“You NEED to slow down!”

“But I can’t – what am I going to give up?  What am I going to say no to?”

“Just let some things go – certain things can wait.  The reason I work so hard is so that you can stay at home with the kids and enjoy them.”

“I guess I could let some things go in the house, but that drives me nuts.  When the house is out of order, it drives me crazy and I can’t relax and have fun with the kids anyways.  And what about those things I prayed about – I feel led to be in them.”

“You’re too busy.  You need to let some things go…  Focus on the things that matter!”


Have you ever had a conversation similar to the one above?  Whether it was with your husband or a friend, a co-worker, or maybe even with yourself in your head.  Everyone I know nowadays is swamped with so many things.  We live in such a fast-paced society and it can be absolutely exhausting!

Since last spring and particularly since this summer, my husband and I have laboriously looking at absolutely every little thing that takes up our time.  We’ve written down all of our commitments.  We looked at how much each one takes and costs.  We’ve looked at duties we do around the house and with the kids.  Basically, we’ve taken inventory of everything that we do in a given day and really looked at if that certain activity or duty is what we’re supposed to be doing with our very precious time each day.

Take this Blog for example…  I absolutely LOVE writing and it’s very therapeutic for me.  I made a goal to write every weekend once school started.  If you’ve noticed (which, thank you, if you have!), I haven’t written anything since August.  How pathetic!!!  Unfortunately, though, I haven’t had any time to write.  I’ve had to prioritize everything that’s on my ‘To-Do’ list and my Blog hasn’t made it to the top.  Until today, that is!  I’m down at my parents’ for a wedding and long weekend, so I’ve been able to sneak away for a little writing therapy.  While I can't guarantee I'll be able to write every weekend from here on out, I can tell you I'll write when I can.  Please check back periodically and sign up to receive my posts via email, if you'd like. 

How about you?  Have you ever looked at how you’re spending your time?  Basically, we each have 24 hours a day.  Out of those 24 hours, hopefully you’re sleeping at least 8 of them.  That leaves about 16 hours a day that you have at your fingertips.  What are you doing with those hours?  Are you working?  Are you with your kids?  Are you at school?  Are you doing housework?  Are you on the computer – FaceBook, your email, etc.?  What are you doing each day? 

The first time I sat down and took inventory, I got a really sick feeling in my stomach.  This activity was very convicting!  I’d like to say I’ve made immediate changes, but I haven’t.  It’s been very laborious and a daily chore to pray about what God wants me to do.  BUT, I’ve been SO GLAD that I’ve followed through with this conviction!

Life is fleeting away and I don’t want to wake up down the road with have regrets.  I found a great article that talked about regrets and putting things that matter FIRST, not last:


Anticipating Deathbed Regrets

by Mark DeMoss

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.
-Harriet Beecher Stowe

Billy Graham has preached in person to more human beings, an estimated two hundred million, than anyone in history. Few public figures of the past century, even Churchill or Roosevelt, hold more respect. In fact, in the annual Gallup Poll of "America's Most Admired Men," the name of Billy Graham has appeared in the top ten a record forty-nine times, including a record forty-two consecutive years.

Would it surprise you, then, to know that the man who has held the world's ear and counseled every American president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has regrets about his life? In his autobiography, “Just as I Am”, Mr. Graham confesses that while he took on the whole world, he lost something at home:

“This is a difficult subject for me to write about, but over the years, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Team became my second family without my realizing it. Ruth says those of us who were off traveling missed the best part of our lives—enjoying the children as they grew. She is probably right. I was too busy preaching all over the world.

Only Ruth and the children can tell what those extended times of separation meant to them. For myself, as I look back, I now know that I came through those years much the poorer both psychologically and emotionally. I missed so much by not being home to see the children grow and develop.”

For decades, Nelson Mandela was the iconic leader of resistance for South African blacks under the system of race segregation known as apartheid, and behind his sacrifice, an entire people rallied for liberty. But in 1992, not long after he was released from twenty years behind bars on Robben Island, and before a horde of reporters in Johannesburg, Mandela grew surprisingly candid about his most profound loss. "It seems to be the destiny of freedom fighters to have unstable personal lives," he said. "When your life is the struggle, as mine was, there is little room left for family. That has always been my greatest regret, and the most painful aspect of the choice I made."

At the wedding of his daughter Zindzi, Mandela agonized afresh. "We watched our children growing without our guidance. When I did come out of prison, my children said, 'We thought we had a father and one day he'd come back. But to our dismay, our father came back and he left us alone because he has now become the father of the nation.'"

The tormented father wrote in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, "To be the father of a nation is a great honor, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far too little of."

A personal resolution

Those of us off the world stage live no less in the shadow of things undone: prime hours spent on the road or in the office, marriage to the "wrong" person, fitness and health gone to seed, money gone before the spending ended, children gone before we knew them.

Even in high school, I could see that while a person can live only a day at a time, life tallies and one day presents us with the sum of our actions. Clearly my father's early death shaped my thoughts here. With that in mind, I began to notice when someone around me tried to reverse a harmful habit or lifestyle: the open-heart surgery survivor counting cholesterol, the newly divorced father leaving work early for restricted time with his kids. And it made sense to me, though I was only in high school, that if a young man were aware of adults' most common regrets, he might try to avoid them.

Don't think that I began right away. My father died at the start of my senior year of high school—not a natural point for a kid to begin preventive health measures. And for the next eight or ten years, I didn't (other than switching from whole milk to skim). If something on a dish looked good, I ate it. Except for four years of college football, I coasted on nature's gift to youth. Post-college, I took a few extra pounds in stride. Post-marriage, I made room for a few more. By age twenty-eight, the few-here-few-there increase on the scales was thirty pounds over my college placekicker weight.

The real kicker was my trip to see Dr. Kenneth Cooper at his famous clinic in Dallas. Dr. Cooper is the father of the modern aerobics movement. He knows a little about heart disease. After my body was measured, scanned, and analyzed, I had sufficient incentive to commit to a life of low-fat foods and regular exercise, routines I have kept, so far, for nearly two decades.

In my thirties, my deliberate attempt to reduce deathbed regrets expanded to include my family. By now I was a young man heading my own company, traveling too much, especially given the ages of my children. So at age thirty-eight, I resolved that by age forty, I would cut my business travel in half. To seal my resolve, I announced the plan to my wife.

This resolution proved a little tougher. My work was taking me around the world to people and events that, in many cases, were history-making. Client assignments had taken me to South Africa, Sudan, England, Scotland, Germany, Peru, Australia, The Netherlands, Bosnia, India, and all across the U.S. But while that schedule impressed many people, my children were not among them. Moreover, if my status with Delta Airlines threatened my status at home, I knew what had to give.

So in the coming months, I began to say no to certain clients and new business opportunities. And it got easier. And the business survived. In the interest of full and frank disclosure, while my travel may not have downsized a full 50 percent, it did shrink dramatically—and I considerably increased ordinary, routine, normal-living time with my wife and children.

Every day is gone forever

At this point you may be thinking that few employees can choose to decline travel assignments, and you would be right. But the fact remains that too many entrepreneurs and executives can trim their schedules and they choose not to. I spoke once to a young, Important Man who traveled widely to Important Places but could not remember what grade in school his daughter was enrolled in.

Billy Graham confessed, "Every day I was absent from my family is gone forever. Although much of that travel was necessary, some of it was not."

Something about the American work schedule is not outright anti-family but perilously close to being un-family—we work as if our spouse and children are what we do on those few occasions when professional pursuits subside.

Meanwhile, a world-renowned achiever regrets every day absent from family is gone forever. Ultimately, we are what we do every day. What defines us is not one large good intention to be a good person, or parent—it's a hundred thousand ongoing choices of every size that arise when we're tired, satisfied, distracted, full of ourselves, threatened, happy, reactionary, sentimental, hurried, bored …

We're not talking about New Year's resolutions here; we're talking about every person's option, sooner or later, to live deliberately. Every week, it seems, I hear another personal story of a marriage too early or to the "wrong" person, personal bankruptcy, a destructive affair, blinding stress, tobacco-related lung cancer or emphysema, a child lost to alcohol or drug abuse, obesity complications … as many variations as there are people with prime years to waste.

The ticking clock intimidates us, even frightens us; but while time is unforgiving, God is not. What lies behind us is gone and consequences are inevitable; but God is in the business of redemption and we can still give him the years we have. Perhaps pride is the biggest hurdle because busyness holds some sense of self-importance.



I would highly encourage you to take inventory of each hour of your day.  Do it for a week and then evaluate what needs to change.  Write down all of your commitments and see how much time each takes and how much money you’re investing into each one.  Look at each activity each member of your family is involved with and decide if this activity is something that should continue or if it needs to end.  Continue taking inventory for a month and, again, re-evaluate.  What needs to change?  Prayerfully reconsider your priorities and decide what God actually wants you to invest your time in. 

And then, the hard part comes.  CHANGING!  Say no to commitments that you know would only take time away from your family.  Tell people who you've already said yes to that you thought it (the activity or commitment) would work, but you've found that it isn't going to work out.  Have a family meeting and set some parameters for the amount of activities that each of you will be involved with.  Then, keep each other accountable.

Let’s be realistic – in the end all of these activities and commitments aren’t going to matter! 

Matthew 6:19-21

New International Version (NIV)

Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.