Tag Archives: family

Seize the Moment: “A Commencement Address for Meredith”

I’m old enough to realize that life is full of defining points which permanently etch memories and experiences into the fabric of your being.  This repository of life experience, both good and bad, gets bundled together into something many call the wisdom of life.

I’ve had many defining points in my life.  October 20, 1980 when I made the decision to accept Christ into my life.  February 14, 1985 when I became engaged to Miss Patricia Baird.  June 29, 1985 when Miss Patricia Baird became Mrs. Potter.  April 29, 1988 when baby Meredith entered our lives.  Two more defining points followed on January 26, 1990 with baby James and October 22, 1995 with baby Stephen.  These are major defining points in my life.  Going from being anything but a Christian to accepting Christ, being single and getting married followed by 3 babies who were looking to be fed, protected, clothed, enriched, educated and loved.  I learned alot during that stage in my life while making mistakes and growing from them.

I learned about unconditional love from my Lord, my wife and my children.  I learned about grace and mercy, giving and receiving, laughing and crying.

Now, Iam faced with another defining point in life as I anxiously wait to see my beautiful baby, now a young woman, graduate from Liberty University on May 14, 2011.  Wow, I can’t believe that we are at this point in time!  It seems just yesterday that I was holding my baby daughter.  And, now I look at a young lady who is ready to go out into the world and make a difference for those who are either less fortunate or have no one to care about them.  I am so proud of you!

After 54 years, I have learned a few lessons that I want to pass to you.

 The world is a different place with much uncertainity.  Many will cower from the challenges.  You must think and act boldly with all that you are confronted with.  Find your strength and courage not in what the world offers, but in your personal faith.  I have found that for every day I don’t immerse myself into the Word, the  distractions of this world tackle me.  This produces fear, uncertainity and unhappiness.  So, stay in the Word and be a part of a church which allows you to grow and give of yourself to others.

Clearly define your core values and live within them.  Be able to boldly articulate your values to anyone and stand fearless if the world opposes you!

Learn how to give and receive.  It worries me to see how so many in your generation just seek to receive.  It seems to almost have become an entitlement generation.  Giving and receiving go hand in hand.  My mom once said to me that you should always give more than you receive.  Giving isn’t just about money, its as simple as smiling at someone who just looks like they need to receive one.  It’s about a kind word or gesture. It’s about saying “Thank You”  to those who have helped you with anything.  Live a selfless life.

God has wired you to be a “fixer” of everything around you.  Because of that you need to learn how to receive.  People who are “givers”  become spiritually and emotionally exhausted.  You have to let others  give to you…guidance, wise counsel, friendship and love.

Having a sense of humor is an absolute necessity to survive.  I have gotten through much in my life finding something to laugh about.  You have a great sense of comedy.  Don’t let go of that and only continue building upon it.  Remember, life in many ways is just like a TV sit-com you are participating in!

Surround yourself with great friends.  My life is marked with incredible friendships.  People who care about you and you care about them. 

Strive to do the best in everything you do.  Always work hard and finish a project or task with the full knowledge that you put everything into it.  Our world is full of people who do not believe in this.  Unfortunately, many aspects of our culture today accept poor performance, attitude and lack of commitment.  My father taught me to pour your life into everything you do whether its church, school, work, family or friends.

Become a friend to those who are different from you.  Your life will be richer for it.

Read a book each month which broadens your mind and makes you think. 

In your case, sing alot!  Sing in the shower, in the car or anywhere.  When you sing, I can tell you are at the happiest point in the day!

Get a kitten because you can’t have Dixie!

Learn to cook like your momma!  It will make your future husband very, very happy!

Meredith, I am so proud of you and know that you will honor God with your life and pursuits.

Love,

Dad

Advertisements

Seize the moment: “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future”

My teenage son and I love to listen to 70’s and 80’s rock as we drive to his school in the morning.  My greatest enjoyment is singing along while we drive.  Like many, the interior of my car is the stage and my captive passengers are the audience.  While I slaughter the lyrics and bob my head like any good rocker, the smiles, laughter and “stop you look crazy” comments are priceless.

Of recent, work demands have elevated to new highs with no end in sight.  Time away from family has increased.  As I performed with the Steve Miller Band this morning, the lyrics, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future” hit me pretty hard.  Music is like a time machine for me.   As this song played on XM Radio, I immediately remembered the first time I heard it while sitting in my North Halls dorm room at Penn State.  Waiting on friends to walk over to Beaver Stadium for a great day of football, the lyrics were permanently burned into my memory. There I was for a moment,  a 19 year-old loving life and college and, then that priceless smile on my 14 year-old son’s face as his 53 year-old father, who works too much,  butchered a song.  Yes, time does keep on slippin’ into the future.  Its slips into the future fast! 

Is it more important to squeeze every moment out of a day for another meeting or stand on your Chevy Malibu stage with the XM Radio Band butchering a song while bobbing your head like a fool to your captive audience?  The answer to that question is pretty obvious!  I hope when my son is 53 driving his son to school and the Steve Miller Band plays this song on the really old oldies channel, he will relive that day when he was 14 locked in a car with his rocker dad.  A moment captured because his dad opted out of work this morning and drove him to school.

Seize the moment: Do we really understand leadership?

Our forefathers accomplished incredible societal transformation against the real possibility of failure, with limited resources, a lack of  personal safety and rights, but protected by the sure belief and passion to stand for what is right.  Do we have the same passion and willingness to accept risk and desire to champion change without regard for our personal self-interest?  I think not!

Seize the moment: This Sucks!

While in Chicago today, I had time to enjoy the beautiful weather, Millenium Park and the overall flavor of this place.  Chicago is a glorious city with incredible history, sights, sounds, smells and great people!  I took the opportunity to walk down Michigan Avenue today washed in sun and cooled with a delightful breeze from the lake just two blocks east.   A caffeine supplement  was in order at the local Caribou Coffee.  Everyone inside exhibited that wonderful midwestern friendliness not found in many of the large cities around this country.  For a moment it felt like Winston-Salem.   As I started my leisurely walk down Michigan Avenue with that coffee, I noticed the sign.  It said, “This Sucks.”  The sign was held by a 18 or 19 year-old homeless kid sitting on the sidewalk at the corner of Michigan and Madison. 

 Across the street sits Millenium Park, a beautiful example of urban art and development promoting community and fellowship.  My moment of calm bliss was broken as I looked at this kid and his sign.  He was clearly no older than my eldest son James.  Something told me to stop, watch, evaluate and try to understand this kid. So, I perched myself on a tree planter bordering Michigan Avenue about 50 feet away and proceeded to watch him.  This act embarrassed me.  Was I enjoying the plight of this kid?  Why did I have the curosity to watch as he begged for money using a sign with the handwritten message, “This Sucks?”  It was clear to me that he was homeless.  His clothes were tattered.  A bath is something which he most likely had not seen of recent.  He had tattoos on both arms, piercings in his ears and unkempt hair which was in need of both a cut and shampoo.  He had a backpack next to him which contained whatever his worldly possessions might be and a hat flipped upside down on the sidewalk in front of him.  He appeared well fed, but who knows for sure.  I smiled a few times as his strategy of positioning the sign was more prominent for any female approaching.  When he saw women walking either north or south on Michigan Avenue, he would angle the sign so that it was directly visible to them.  He was less aggressive when men approached his position.  I was ashamed of my many thoughts about this kid.  Why are you begging when you could easily clean yourself up and get a job at McDonalds or any other place needing someone to do basic work?  Are you just trying to look pitiful and play on the emotions of those passing you?  He was quite successful in that area!  Then, it hit me.  If he had  parents or extended family, why would they not intervene in his life?  Maybe they cared, but he rejected their efforts or they might have rejected him for whatever reason.  At one point, an older man stopped and asked him where he lived.  His youthful smile as he responded reminded me of my son’s smile as he might respond to any casual or funny situation.  I overheard him say, “I sleep wherever I can find a place in Millenium Park.”  My son goes to bed every night in his own room, in his bed surrounded by a loving family.  This boy, for whatever reason, does not.  This just sucks! 

My curiosity consumed the next two hours.  I watched any number of people respond to his plight.  Two guys dressed in costumes advertising Hershey chocolates stopped and filled his hat with pieces of candy.  He quickly pocketed this and anything placed in it so that no one else might take what was given to him.  I watched as various people stopped and provided a few dollars. The disdaining stares of many bothered me.  But, a city the size of Chicago is full of those seeking help.  He just happened to be one of the youngest I have seen so far.  Some purposefully walked very close to this boy and gave him a hateful stare.  A few even taunted him and his situation.  He just smiled everytime.  I could see that he noticed me.  He occassionally looked my way with a question in his eye.  I could tell he wondered why I was sitting on that planter facing his direction.  I felt a great sense of not knowing what I could do to help him.  Should I hand him money, offer my hotel room for a shower and a hot meal?  These and many other thoughts went through my head.  As the afternoon progressed, the chill in the air increased.  He was getting cold and pulled on a hoody to shield himself from the breeze while continuing to hold his sign.  At one point, I looked away to watch a comotion in Millenium Park.  When I turned around, he was gone.  I had done nothing to help him. 

At this moment, I am writing this blog from the comfort of my 4 star hotel one block away from Millenium Park.  I’ve had a great meal and enjoying the comforts of the historic Palmer House Hotel.  I can only imagine this kid is trying to find a place in the park to sleep where he might not be bothered by police or other homeless people.  Somewhere away from the cool lake breeze.  Definitely not on one of the many park benches which have been fitted with petitions making them impossible to use as beds. 

Why am I writing about this?  Maybe its the guilt I feel for not taking more action to help those who cannot help themselves?  Maybe its a guilt of worrying more about what I have and how to keep it?  Maybe its the guilt, I have as a Christian,  for not understanding the meaning of sacrifice?  At dinner tonight I reflected on the concept of sacrifice.  What is real sacrifice as a Believer in Christ?  Is it fasting and giving up a few meals, is it a mediocre contribution to my church or is it taking one day out of the month to work on behalf of others?  Or is it, taking personal  risk to champion issues for those who cannot standup for themselves, giving my personal financial resources at a level which require me to lower my many “wants” to meet other’s needs or just sitting down next to this kid, praying for and with him, showing him the love of Christ.  At the very least, I should have done this and to heck with those walking by who would have thought I might be crazy. Many reading this might explain away the issue of homelessness.  Its there, its real and many issues contribute to the problem.  But, should Christians explain away the problem as one that those impacted should bear the burden?  I think not!

Not long ago, I was talking about health equity issues with a church friend.  He smiled at me and said, “you sound like one of those radicals.”  That comment shocked me since I have always been somewhat of a right winger politically.  But, when you think about Christ and His time on the earth confronting the issues of this world,  He most likely would be classified as a radical.  Maybe each one of us needs to think about how we can “radicalize” our faith to make a difference.  Our hope is not in this world today, but in the eternal life which Christ offers each of us.  Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Seize the moment…Does forgiveness mean to excuse?

Has our culture today blurred the distinction between the definitions of forgiveness and to excuse?   As a Christian, I worry that many within the church no longer understand the difference; perpetuating sin patterns within Believer’s lives.    I call this the “Tiger Woods Syndrome”.  In no way is my intention to make light of the horrific circumstances around Tiger’s life, but it is the most visible example within our media driven culture today.  A sin is committed and caught.  Public admission of the sin is made, forgiveness is requested and steps are taken to resolve the sin issues within one’s life.  And, then the media culture debates the issue.  In this case, the question was not on the impact to the lives closest to this situation, but on what it would take to restore the “Tiger Woods” brand.  I heard many talk about the fact that Tiger’s brand would rebound because of our culture’s habit of forgiving and forgetting. Within a reasonable time a  public relations campaign would restore and excuse a person for a grievous sin committed.  Sponsors and fans would return and everything would be forgotten.  One sports celebrity even made the comment that these things happen all of the time and the public would move beyond it.  I contend that our culture defines forgiveness in a way that not only is the sin forgiven, but the lifelong hurt to others is swept under the rug and excused.  I worry about this message and how our culture translates that into all situations big and small.    My greatest concern is the impact on Christian values.  Many within the church are defining these values within the context of a secular worldview.  For those within the church who challenge this modified view, the attack can be brutal. 

Case in point, Fox News commentator Brit Hume ran amuck of the secular worldview when he commented on the Tiger Woods situation. Hume encouraged Woods to turn to Christianity for the forgiveness he really needs citing that it is the only religion where redemption and forgiveness can be found.  “I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith,” Hume said. “So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

The secular world responded, Tom Shales of the Washington Post reacted and advanced one of the core principles of the secular worldview. “If Hume wants to do the satellite-age equivalent of going door-to-door and spreading what he considers the gospel, he should do it on his own time, not try to cross-pollinate religion and journalism and use Fox facilities to do it.”   (taken from Devotions.com..blog entry by Mike Ruffin)

The Bible defines forgiveness as only coming when you or I turn to Christ with a repentant heart and seek His forgiveness for what we have done.  Does that excuse us from the hurt we might have caused?  NO.  Can that be swept under the rug? NO.  We must own the outcomes of our sin and accept the repercussions it has caused.  Godly men and women seek forgiveness with a repentant heart, but they do not excuse themselves from the outcomes of their sin nor should they expect that to happen. I worry that we are becoming a culture where the word accountability has no meaning.  Are we living lives without the accountability our Christian faith requires?  Where there is no accountability, the meaning of Christian forgiveness has no value.  C. S. Lewis said, “forgiveness does not mean excusing.”

 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

Thank you for reading my blog.  I would love to hear your comments or thoughts on this issue!

Seizing the moment…..must they continue to die?

Mother Teresa once said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” 

 I hope we would never intentionally do something to cause the death of a child by the way we live our lives.  However, our inaction to understand the challenges children face globally leads to the poverty Mother Teresa speaks of.  Until recently, I did not fully comprehend the challenges children face globally because of the lack of clean drinking water.  According to CharityWater.org, 4,500 children die every day as a result of illnesses from poor drinking water.  This is a significant problem facing children throughout Africa.  As I read the statistics and saw the images of children drinking and playing in filthy water, I made the decision it was time to make a stand. 

Problems like this can seem overwhelming to us as individuals.  How can I possibly make a difference?  But, I found a solution where, with the help of others, a new well can be drilled in a village somewhere in Africa.  This well will provide safe, clean drinking water for 250 people.  And, the cost to do this is only $5,000!  CharityWater.org has made it possible for me to begin a campaign over the next 90 days to raise those funds.  I’ve made the first contribution which has been added to by several friends.  Please take a look at: www.mycharitywater.org/potterfamily

I hope by the end of October we will celebrate reaching this goal…seizing the moment and saving the lives of children!

Thanks for reading my blog!

Thanks for another donation to our campa

Thanks for another donation to our campaign to raise funds for a new fresh water well in Africa! http://www.mycharitywater.org/potterfamily

Its day 2 with 91 to go, please consider helping me with this cause!

www.mycharitywater.org/potterfamily

A birthday wish…….

On October 28, I’m turning 54.

At first, this seemed surreal, even daunting.

But then I found out that millions of people don’t live to see their 5th birthday. And why? Because they didn’t have access to clean, safe water.

So I’m not scared of turning 54 anymore. In fact, I’m celebrating my birthday like never before.

I’m asking for $54 or (whatever you can do!) from everyone I know – and every penny of the money raised will go directly to fund freshwater wells in developing nations. Even better, every dollar is “proved” when the projects are complete, and photos and GPS coordinates are posted using Google Earth.

My goal is to raise $5,000 by my birthday, October 28. This amount will provide one well providing clean drinking water for 250 people!

I am kicking off this campaign with $500. My family will also commit to eating out less and contributing that cost to this fund through my birthday. It’s frightening to see how much I spend monthly on Starbucks and eating out. I think I can do without so much of this to help a community somewhere have clean drinking water!

Please consider helping me. Watch this video because I think it will help you understand why this has captured my attention!

My thanks to each of you who help with this cause!   Please go to my web page below and consider helping!

www.mycharitywater.org/potterfamily

Momma, why do we always give those old people our food when we don’t have much?

This past week I had a working lunch with a man who I greatly respect and consider a friend.  He is successful in business and government.  My friend is called upon to solve problems for well known individuals and corporations.  And, as I learned that day, an incredible philanthropist whose humility does not accept that title.  As he and I talked about his global efforts to help people, I asked him what had been the defining moment in his life to inspire his efforts.  The answer was not only emotional and humbling, but inspirational.  It was an incredible example of God working in someone’s life at an early age, allowing him to overcome significant obstacles, providing  the means to be successful in all aspects of business and having a keen sensitivity to the needs of others.  His sensitivity flows into a personal commitment to help a  bad situation in any possible way. 

My friend was raised by his grandmother who he called momma.  Momma did’nt have much, but as my friend said, she always had a pot of beans on the stove and some cornbread in the skillet.  Many days momma would call my friend into the kitchen as she scooped out some beans and cut pieces of cornbread up for him to deliver to one of their  needy elderly neighbors.  When  he was about the age of 9, my friend asked momma, “why do we always give those old people our food when we don’t have much?”  He said that her response to that question has stayed with him for the last 60 years and changed his life forever.  Momma looked at my friend and said, “just remember you can never out give God.”  “We might not have much, but haven’t you always had something to eat and a place to sleep?”  He said, “yes momma.”  She went on to say, “God will always make sure we have something to eat and a place to sleep, so we can always help someone else.”  She finished by saying, “just remember that everything we have is a blessing from God and we should use it to help others.”  My friend grabbed my arm and said, “Norm, I can remember that day as if it just happened.”  The look in his eyes and the grip on my arm told me who this man is and what truly motivates him. My friend went on to say, “I have been all over the world and seen some of the most horrific things impacting the lives of people.  It is at those moments I know God expects me to own the issue and use all I have to try and deal with it.  Norm, it is my passion!”

All of us have too much whether its time or resources.  We want more for the sake of having more and we might cast a momentary glance on that person struggling in some way.  We might feel a sense of pity, but just move on to whatever.  My friend has been richly blessed in so many ways, he sees the struggles around him and he owns them.  All of us can help someone else no matter what our worldly blessings might be.  My lunch last week inspired me to ask God for forgiveness for those times where I could have made a difference and did not.  You and I have a duty to help those who cannot help themselves!  I hope this blog about my friend inspires you as it did me! 

Thanks for taking the time to read it!

“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor. ”  Proverbs 22:9