“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I don’t usually celebrate birthdays but today I will make an exception because this one feels different. Normally, I just spend the day reminding people that I share February 6th with Bob Marley and Babe Ruth, kind of like birthday bragging rights. But in my heart I know I’m sharing it with millions of other people too. Today marks 62 years that I have been contributing to life on this planet and I have been blessed with two good hands, the ability to think for myself and lately, with WordPress to take me around the globe.

Since the beginning of this new year, Grhgraph has been wildly popular in places I have never been. People from Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Hungary, Belarus and many others from the four corners of the world have been coming to WordPress to read what I write. How is it that a Guy from Kansas strung together some words that transcend cultural borders? Without WordPress to spread those words my efforts wouldn’t amount to much. That’s the genius of WordPress, not me. I will take credit for being a contributor to their success but that pales in comparison to how much WordPress has changed my life for the better.

The feeling I get from the time I spend writing is really special. That feeling was reinforced this week when I finally got to 100 followers. Number 100 was a very nice woman from Canada who also happens to be a WordPress consultant. She actually liked a post that I thought was way too personal to ever be liked by anyone outside of my immediate family or friends. I sent her an email of thanks and she responded by telling me she thought she had found a gem. That might be the nicest thing any stranger ever said about me. Without WordPress, that memorable moment would not have been possible.

Words that bring us together on common ground are the most important part of our existence. We have more similarities than we have differences and by expressing our humanity with carefully chosen words and acts of kindness, we can change the future of humanity for the benefit of all mankind. The more time we spend thoughtfully communicating our deepest feelings, the better chance we have of touching those same emotions in someone else on the other side of the globe. That’s how we save the planet, with one kind word at a time.

I’m just one blogger and there are millions more who try just as hard as I do to share their thoughts. Some succeed and some don’t but that’s not really the point, as far as I’m concerned. The number of followers we get isn’t that important if what we’re writing is genuinely heartfelt and honest. The more we all open up about our lives, the more likely we are to overcome our innate fear of the unknown. Fear is our enemy, not foreigners. People come here to read my thoughts and I try to tell stories that anyone can appreciate. I try hard to put the right words together that will eventually lead the reader to a better understanding of an old Guy from Kansas who has a fair share of wisdom. I wasn’t born this way but 50 years of hard work have given me insights that are universally true. What else can I do with my well-earned wisdom, if I don’t share it?

WordPress is the only social media site on the internet where I reside. I willingly admit my ignorance when it comes to things like search engine optimization and blogging expertise. I just write and let my words bring me connections. That way I know unequivocally, that every person who came here heard about me from someone else. That’s my goal in life now, to start conversations with people that lead to mutual understanding and possibly, compassion for others. We have to talk to each other if we want the world to change for the better. WordPress helps me do that every time I post. That’s why symbiotic relationships are the best and most meaningful. We all win, when we share our collective wisdom.

I guess that makes this birthday one I will always remember. I made a new friend in Canada. I made it to 100 followers this week and I passed 200,000 views, just a couple of weeks ago. That’s pretty good for a Guy who just set out to share a few thoughts with honesty, compassion and a sense of humor. To all my unknown friends at WordPress I say, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING! I couldn’t and I wouldn’t do this without you. I think Ralph Waldo Emerson might have said these words to inspire the genius in all of you.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

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“We learn only from those whom we love.” (Goethe)

Two of my best friends from birth both lost their moms this week. Arlene Schotanus and Doris Boyd mean as much to me as my own mom ever will and I am saddened by their passing. My sadness is lessened though by so many wonderful memories of growing up around these families. I am truly blessed to have been part of a wonderful church family growing up in the 60’s in Prairie Village, Kansas. My greatest wish is that every child could grow up in just such a loving environment and in their honor I would like to pass on some of the lessons I was taught by these faithful women.

The group of family friends that came from being members at Ward Parkway Presbyterian Church had an immense impact on my life. As postwar children of the baby boom, we all started life long friendships in Sunday Bible School classes and our parents shared teaching duties. Dads and moms alike read to us from the Bible and told stories about their own life experiences to reinforce the message they wanted us to understand – real faith is never going to be easy but it’s worth every ounce of energy we put into it. And these people put everything they had into their faith.

I spent years visiting in the homes of these families and they always made me feel loved, accepted and appreciated for just who I am. It felt like I had a dozen homes that would take me in if I ever needed help and my folks did the same for their kids. Some of them had bigger houses than we did but none of them ever made me feel small.

They all had the same set of rules that were established at my house – we don’t say hurtful things to others, we apologize when we screw up and we pray. And the unwritten rule for every household was – we laugh as often as possible. The funny moments were constant and frequently inspired by the parents as much as the kids. Most of the dads were great story tellers and the moms were witty and wise. They could all get and keep your attention while they were teaching you stuff. We got to laugh while we learned. Those are moments I will never forget.

The other thing that stood out for me with these families was their work ethic. In those days, most of us had stay-at-home moms but Arlene was the only single mom I knew and she worked extremely hard to provide for her son John and his sister Melanie. John is and always will be the hardest working man I know so clearly his mom’s efforts paid off. The expectation of doing your part was so obvious that none of us wanted to be seen as lacking in effort. When you have a dozen sets of parents asking about your grades or extracurricular activities or church events there isn’t any room for excuses.

It was such a tight knit group of families that every time you made a mistake everybody knew about it. When John’s mom caught us brewing beer in their basement during high school, I knew I had no chance when I got home. My mom didn’t need to hear my side of the story because she and Arlene had already discussed it and worked out the punishment for both of us. And then at church the next week, all the other parents got to express their disappointment as well. I know the dads were all laughing inside but they put on the act for the sake of their marriage.

For all these wonderful moments and more, I am eternally grateful. I wish the world of today could be just like those days. Sadly, it can’t but there are things that families can still do that will make their children’s lives so much more memorable and enjoyable. First, have some kind of faith in a higher power and a higher purpose. Second, make family your priority, not the world. Third, give your kids high expectations and hold yourself to the same ones. Fourth, share the experience with other families, both the good and the bad. And last, laugh with your kids as often as possible. There really isn’t anything else more important.

I think Heaven just got a lot more joyful, now that Arlene and Doris made their journey home. Thanks for everything ladies. We ALL love you.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

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“The man with a new idea is a crank until he succeeds.” (Mark Twain)

It’s a new year and I’ve been thinking a lot about starting another business someday. Having been in the graphic arts business for so many years, it probably won’t be anything that requires high tech. I’ve been there and done that but maybe something less stressful would fulfill my innate desire to be the boss again. Here are a few ideas that have crossed my mind lately. Your feedback is welcome as usual.

Guuber – This is a franchise concept. Basically, I sell the logo to would be Guuber drivers and collect monthly rent. For the franchisee, he sells the services of his pickup truck. He can pick up junk, illegal immigrants, terrorists or anybody else who just wants to jump in the back as he ambles by. The customer has to keep slipping bills to the driver through the back window to get him to stop. This one is very low tech and has huge potential given how many pickup trucks there are on the planet.

Sunburn City – This is another franchise concept. It probably works best in hotter locales. The franchisee rents space near the beach and waits for the inevitable fools who scorch themselves. The store has extra cold A/C and lots of aloe vera ointments for sale as well as lawn chairs covered in wet terry cloth. Attractive clerks would make this a gold mine.

Nutsy – This is an online barter system. Everybody has crap they want to get rid of like leftover dog food when the pooch passes or used clothing. Clients pay a yearly fee to join, something like $9.99, and they get access to a site where anything can be bartered.  The tag line will be, “Are you nuts? No one will ever want that!”

Chronic – This one has Fortune 500 potential. The parent company buys up all the old Sonic Restaurants, which have been deserted, to sell to franchisees. Each location is for drive-thru mental health. For 50 cents a minute the patron gets a live person to sit next to the car and listen to their chronic complaints. Smart owners will add online and telephone options to their outlets. The server/listener would keep $20 per hour while the owner pockets $10 per server.

CramAzon – Given the amount of stuff Amazon sells each day, I think it makes perfect sense to provide a one-stop shop for storage related supplies. Everything from plastic tubs to shelving would be available. This could lead to vertical integration with discounts offered for local storage units.

Quitter – Now that messaging is all the rage there seems to be a need for writing services to those challenged by their brain to finger connections. Quitter would provide assistance in the critical areas of quitting your job or relationship. Skilled writers would craft short verses that convey the correct sentiment for the specific occasion. Leaving a job you hate might read like, “Hey, just thought you should know, someone else thinks I will be a great employee. Sorry, but you had your chance. Bye Bye.” Getting out of a long term relationship as gently as possible might be expressed with more compassion, “The last nine years have been wonderful but my emotional needs have changed. This has nothing to do with you. I just need more space to develop as a well-rounded human. Thanks for the memories.” Writers would be paid 75% of the proceeds and the company could keep 25% for a maintenance fee.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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“It ain’t the parts of the Bible I can’t understand that bothers me, it’s the parts I can understand.” (Mark Twain)

I would never claim to be a Bible scholar. My personal beliefs, when it comes to faith in God, are based on equal parts upbringing and real world experience. In fact, I stopped attending church during college and shortly after because I thought I had it all figured out for myself. It wasn’t till I got to New York City that my uniquely personal theories got tested every day. The more I tried to do it my way, the harder my life became. It’s not that my life was a constant hell but the moments of enjoyment were fleeting. There was no substance to my life, it was just existence.

When I came back to Kansas City in 1978 to start a new business with my dad, the purpose of faith finally set in. I started listening to my dad again and practicing his lessons. My dad had been through a lot in his life and his faith had been tested many times, in more brutal ways than I could ever have imagined. He survived WWII, running a small business and raising me. He was a monument to tenacity and faith and all the things he taught me about honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, kindness and commitment to the common good actually worked just like he said they would. His life had purpose because he chose to be faithful and he wanted me to find the same purpose for my life. He never forced it on me but he was always there when I needed encouragement to get me through the hard times that everyone experiences.

Now, it’s forty years later and my dad has moved on to his heavenly reward. I’m on my own now and my life is challenged every day but the parts of the Bible I can understand are becoming ever clearer to me. My greatest realization is that good and evil are present in the world at all times because humans aren’t faithful by nature. Our most basic instinct is self-preservation, not goodness. Mankind has been easily deceived many times by leaders who claim to be doing God’s bidding when the reality is, nothing could be further from the truth. We are all God’s children and He would not wish harm to any creature on this planet. Having said that, I also believe He has given us free will and with that freedom comes the potential for inhumanity. He wants us to be happy and live full lives but he’s not going to stop us from being unhappy if we make horrible choices.

Today, I see a world filled with people making bad choices and selling their souls for fame and fortune. They inspire others not to greatness but to failure and  disappointment brought on by unfulfilled goals and little, if any, real humanity. This is free will at its worst. Some times free will means saying, “NO, I WON’T DO THAT” because it’s wrong and others will be hurt by my actions. Self-preservation starts with self-restraint not avarice. The Golden Rule is the essence of self-restraint and compassion for others. The world will only get worse unless we learn this critical lesson. We can’t have everything if it means someone else has nothing.

I can’t quote chapter and verse when it comes to the Bible but I know this much absolutely – peace, love and joy are present in every human heart but our potential for faith will never be realized until we stop being afraid to love one another as we love ourselves.

Thanks DAD!

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

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“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” (Marcus Aurelius)

Editor’s Note: Today’s post has been dedicated to Karen Molenaar Terrell. Her WordPress site is called The Madcap Christian Scientist and she always makes me happy when I read her thoughts. Merry Christmas Karen!

Having been on the road for fifty hours a week since Thanksgiving, I have been hard pressed to find time to reflect on another Christmas Season. Frankly, I haven’t felt all that joyful. Joy is hard to find in the work I do with foster children but I keep trying to touch a few hearts. Which brings me to this great edict from the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. It seems to me that we waste far too much time arguing about whose right or whose wrong, whose good or whose bad and whose responsible or whose not. All this wasted effort flies in the face of the reason we have celebrated Christmas for centuries.

Jesus was born, lived and died a good man because he spent every minute of his existence serving others. That’s what it means to be a good man, nothing more and nothing less. It’s not complicated and it should be overwhelmingly obvious given all the inhumanity we have at present. Here is the only person in the history of the world who defined goodness for all to see and understand. He spent his life with sinners, outcasts and heathens of every kind and in the end he laid down his life for his fellow man. By fulfilling his destiny, he earned the right to ascend into Heaven.

Those of us who came after him have no excuse for not following in his footsteps. The message doesn’t get any clearer than this. We can’t go through life hating others and then beg for forgiveness with our last breath. “Be one,” that’s a moral imperative if there ever was one. Now, more than ever, we need this guiding principle and Christmas is the perfect time to commit ourselves to His cause, saving all of humanity for eternity.

I’m done with words and those who only talk. I want to spend the rest of my days being one with God and man. I will spend no more of my precious time arguing over semantics or perpetually defending my faith. If others can’t figure out what it takes to be one then maybe they should join me in my work with foster kids. I can promise you this much, once you experience the depths of humanity from my daily perspective you won’t be worried about finding the right words to describe goodness. It will be shockingly obvious to even the most stubborn among us. I can’t explain goodness but I can surely show it to you, any day of the week. Once you find it, you will be changed forever. That may be too scary for some people, but there is no other way to be one. This is life and death for all of us. Does anyone really believe they are going to Heaven because they said all the right things? Want to bet on that?

Mark Twain made this wonderful observation about our relationship with God and it is the essence of the Christmas Spirit, “None of us can be as great as God but any of us can be as good.” Now go forth and be one.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

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“In a free society, all are involved in what some are doing. Some are guilty, all are responsible.” (Abraham Heschel)

I am often amazed by the way song lyrics hit so close to home. Early this morning, it was the Allman Brothers who came along for the ride. I got the call at 12:40 A.M. and twenty minutes later I was on my way to pick up a fifteen year old who was moving again. I picked the kid up in Topeka at 2:15 and headed back to KC. We spent the first half hour getting to know each other and his story was just too sad to repeat. Trust me, you don’t want to know. As we pulled into the parking lot at his next placement, Greg Allman was singing, “Some times it feels, like I’ve been tied to the whipping post, Good Lord it feels like I’m dying.” Then the boy said something that will haunt me forever, “That’s my life, every day.”

It was all I could do not to break down right in front of him but I knew that wouldn’t help. Instead, I gave him an extra copy of that CD because he said he really liked the blues. It might have been his one good memory of his father, who liked the Allman Brothers too. Even abusive parents have some fond memories for these kids.

After I got my paperwork signed, I took a few minutes to collect myself in the car and when the CD started playing again, the next song was, “Not my cross to bear.As hard as I tried, I couldn’t make myself buy into that premise. If it’s not my cross to bear whose is it? I can’t turn off the pain and just let the memories of these kids go. That’s when I remembered this quote from Abraham Heschel. It definitely sums up what America is going through right now, some of us are guilty but all of us are responsible.

We can all try to avoid responsibility by hiding under the security blanket of selfishness but that doesn’t change the world we live in. When bad things happen, like the killings in Paris or San Bernardino, that blanket gets torn off and we are left shivering in fear. It doesn’t have to be that way but selfishness is not a good defense mechanism for anything. We all have to bear the cross, whether it be metaphorical or otherwise. Even if we struggle with the concept of a higher power, we still owe it to the rest of humanity to try to make this life better for everybody.

America is a free society because we, the people, share all the responsibilities that come with liberty. If we want a better world without hatred and violent extremism then we must reach out to those who would hate us with a giving heart and good intentions. We must not turn our backs on anyone because of the color of their skin or the language that they speak. We must act out our freedom with deeds that define us as decent human beings who deserve an equal opportunity for life, liberty and happiness. We can and we will overcome our innate fears when we freely come together to help each other. That’s what makes freedom so important and the reason we exist as a nation.

I hope I get to see that boy again, some time soon. I have another great song I want to share with him. It’s Me and Bobby McGee by Kris Kristofferson. Let’s all take it to heart when he sings, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

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“All things are possible to him who believes.” (Jesus)

A new friend just commented on an old post titled, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” This is one of the first things I ever published here on WordPress and it continues to be a popular post still today. This particular friend plants trees for a living and she understood exactly the point I was trying to make.

There is something genuinely spirit-filled about planting a tree. It is the ultimate expression of faith in the future of humanity. It is belief in action. Why else would anyone bother to take up this huge project? Every sapling needs a lot of care to survive that first year and establish its roots. Without a firm belief that the future will be worth living, why would we bother to plant a tree? My grandfather was in his seventies when he started his tree farm. He had no chance of seeing the fruits of his labor but he did it anyway because he believed in his grandchildren. He knew we would take over after he was gone and finish the job.

I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel. Every time I walk through that grove of white pines I am reminded of my place on this planet. I was put here to do my part to make this earth better for everyone by taking care of plants, animals and other humans. I believe my life has purpose and my death will have meaning because I accepted the great commission, to love thy neighbor as thyself.

At a point in history, when loving thy neighbor has become a ridiculous notion and hatred abounds, our faith is being tested like never before. It almost seems like the future is impossible because we struggle to believe in humanity and some people seem to be hoping the end is near just to prove they were right about their particular beliefs. That’s not faith, that’s selfishness and conceit brought on by hubris. It is only by holding on to each other as faithful beings that we will have all the possibilities Jesus promised us centuries ago. We have to trust each other and plant the seeds of humanity for one and all. How much faith we place in each other will determine our future, not the threat of Armageddon.

Every time someone new reaches out to me on this blog it gives me hope. Hope for tomorrow, hope for humanity and hope for our children. We should keep planting trees for our kids to sit under. We should plant flowers for them to smell and admire. And most of all, we should plant kindness into the hearts of everyone we meet. I will never stop believing in the future Jesus wants for us and I will gladly do whatever it takes to fulfill his expectations. All things are possible, to those who believe.

Would you dare to believe with me?

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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