Feb 092015
Hayes Jones

Hayes Jones



Maybe you have never heard of Hayes Jones?  He was a high hurdle runner that broke all the records scholastically, made the Olympic Team in Rome in 1959, and the eyes of the world were upon him.  He was believed to be the greatest there ever was in this event.  He trained vigorously for it, and when he arrived, most everyone back home believed he would take home the Gold Medal!  He didn’t.  He came in 3rd.  He was discouraged, felt like quitting, told himself he should just get out of athletics and go into his business career.  It was a turning point in his life.  It was the logical, sensible thing to do.  After all, the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo were four years away!  How could he put himself through the grueling training that he knew he would have to do in order to compete.  He decided that he hadn’t had this life long dream just to quit because of a defeat.  He made his mind up and started training.  He trained, he worked and fought to keep his body and mind in top shape, preparing for the next Olympics.

Before the Olympics he attended a national championship in Madison Square Garden, and ended up winning first place, and tied his own record he had recorded earlier.  He was ready!  The Olympics came, and he fulfilled his life long dream!  He won the Gold Medal!

What would his life have been like if he had succumbed to the doubts after coming in 3rd place?  How much confidence in himself would he have had if he had just thrown in the towel, and said:  “Enough!”  No, he didn’t have to live with that kind of regret.  He stuck with it, and his faith in his God given ability grew big enough to put him into the winner’s circle at the top of the world.  What a contrast!

We have all been faced with similar situations.  We have come up against circumstances that have tempted us to give in and quit.  I, myself have known this many times in my life.  I went out for football in the 10th grade at Sam Rayburn High School in Pasadena, Texas.  My Aunt Minnie drove me to practice (I had missed the bus to the practice field) and when I got to the field, all suited up, the coach said:  “Halbert, you’re late!”  I apologized and he promptly had me run around the track at the field twice.  I was not in good shape, and was totally out of breath when I arrived, huffing and puffing, practically fainting from the two laps around the field with full gear on.  The coach told me to get on the line, and block out this certain lineman who was much bigger, much more fit, and much more experienced at full body contact sports than I was.  You can guess what happened!  He rolled me up like a tortilla under a rolling pin!  I picked myself up, turned around toward the club house, and walked home.  That was the end of my not so illustrious football career.  I quit.  Well, you may have been looking for a triumphant ending to this story…..not gonna happen.  I wasn’t made for football.  There was something else that I was supposed to do.  But my point is…..if you know you are supposed to do something, then do it.  Keep trying until you find what you’re supposed to do, and do it with abandon!  At that time in my life, at 15 years old, I never knew that I would some day travel to almost 20 countries, learn to speak Spanish and Portuguese, write hundreds of songs, and learn about other cultures, and enhance my life like I had never dreamed.  My “thing” wasn’t football, but when I found out what it was, I did it with my whole heart.  But that’s another story.

You may be like Hayes Jones in some way.  You may be feeling like it’s time to quit, but if you kept going with whatever it was that you knew you should be doing, you would eventually make it to the place you were supposed to be!  There’s a champion in every one of us waiting to be discovered.  It may be that you’re supposed to be a Teacher, helping kids to learn…..it may be that you have ideas that will help others and improve their lives in some ways.  You may be a fledgling artist or musician trying to find your niche.  Whatever it is, if you believe in yourself, and believe that’s what God put you on the earth to do, then Do it!  Don’t give up!  The person you become by pursuing your goals in life is the most important part.  Dr. Peale wrote a little book called:  “You Can if you Think You Can!”  That is so true!  It all depends on how you program your own mind to see your future.  If you use words like:  “can’t” , “difficult”, “not possible”, etc., then you are training your mind and character to accept these words as your own.  But don’t let those words be your guide.  Start using words like:  “Can”, “no problem”, and “of course!”  It will soon become a habit, and will shape your thinking to become what God intended for you to be!


“Never despair, but if you do, work on in despair.”  (Edmund Burke)


Jan 312015
Loretta Lynn in her early career

Loretta Lynn in her early career



I was thinking about people who had overcome obstacles to achieve their life goals, and Loretta Lynn came to my mind.  We’ve all seen the film, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” with Sissy Spacek as Loretta, and Tommy Lee Jones as “Moonie” (nickname he got from running moonshine), her husband, but do we realize what it took for her to become a household word, and make herself relevant in the world when she came from such unlikely roots?  I mean, she was married when she was 15 years old, and started having babies.  Her husband bought her a $17 Harmony guitar when she was 19, and she started writing songs, and singing to her children at home.  She loved to sing, and had a gift for grass roots, down home, country music, but who would ever give a girl from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, with virtually no chance of breaking into the music business an opportunity?  She was living in Custer, Washington (not far from where I live right now) and started singing in bars when she could, and actually formed a band with her brother, Jay Lee on guitar.  By 1960, she ended up recording her first record, and the rest is History.  You can see how it all worked out if you just google her name, or watch the movie.  It’s an amazing story of sheer determination, and lots of hard work.  Like the song, “Nashville Cats” says:

“Well, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty-two
Guitar pickers in Nashville
And they can pick more notes than the number of ants
On a Tennessee anthill
Yeah, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty-two
Guitar cases in Nashville
And any one that unpacks his guitar could play
Twice as better than I will”
The chances of Loretta making it out of obscurity and becoming the “Queen of Country Music” were at best…..Slim to none.  But she did it!  She made it happen!  She didn’t give up!  She believed in herself, and in spite of numerous hardships, and difficult obstacles, she became what she was born to be:  A Superstar!   What an inspiring story!   And this brings me to my point!   If Loretta Lynn can become significant to millions of people, inspire them with her songs, and make a life for her family, be influential in helping other members of her family make it as well, like Crystal Gayle, Patty Loveless, and Venus Ramey, (Miss America 1944), then I can be significant in my own special way and reach some personal goals in my own life!  You can, too!  We all have struggles…..life is hard….There is so much to overcome, but if you believe in yourself, have faith in what you are supposed to do, you can accomplish whatever you set out to do!
Maybe you’re trying to lose some weight, like I am.   Maybe you’re in debt, and want to break out of the “day to day treadmill with no future” syndrome.  Maybe you want to improve your relationship with your spouse or your children.   Maybe you want to start your own business, and fulfill your dreams in that way.  Whatever you want to do, whatever your dream is……you can do it!  Like Art Williams said in his famous speech…..”Just do it!”  Now is the time!  Yesterday is History…..tomorrow is not guaranteed……you only have right now!  That’s a fact.  If you want to change, if you’re not happy with the way your life is going, then you have the power within you to change it!  You don’t HAVE to settle for less than what you really want.  You can’t change the seasons….you can’t change the fact that life throws you some curve balls….but you can change your own attitude.  You can meet each difficulty in your life with a made up mind, and a determination to keep going and never give up.  This life is so short!  It will be over before we know it.  As I look back on my life, and take into account that I will be 66 years old on my next birthday, I wonder….where did it go?  What happened?  Who’s this old man staring back at me from the mirror?  But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to be the best I can be.  I have today to be all I can be, and “all you can do is all you can do……and all you can do is enough!”  Life is tough.  It will throw us some curve balls….sickness, disappointments, friends that fail you, missed opportunities…..but that’s life.  We all have to face that.  The sun rises and falls on all of us the same way….every day, 365 days a year!  The difference is how we react to it.  Someone made a list of why he wasn’t doing well, and why he wasn’t fulfilling his expectations.  The list was large.  It had lots of things to blame:  The Government:  those Republicans or those Democrats are ruining my life…..The Taxes:  If taxes weren’t so high I’d be able to get what I wanted, and get ahead……The Traffic:  If it weren’t so congested, I could get to work on time, and not miss important appointments……The Boss:   If he weren’t such an idiot I would have been promoted long ago…… and on and on and on…. but HE wasn’t even on the list!  The root of most of our problems is one person!  The one we look at in the mirror!  We have the ability to change our attitude and face difficulties with a totally different perspective!   I’m sure Loretta felt like throwing in the towel when she was there at home with small children, dreaming of singing to thousands of people, but having to wash the clothes, clean the house, and make dinner for her family every day.  But she didn’t.  She kept doing everything she could to realize her dream, and guess what:   It came true!  Even now, at 82, she is considered one of the most successful musical artists in the world!  A Household name!  She could see it…..and it came to pass.  I’m preaching to the choir here, but there may be something that you can get from this as well.  If so, more power to you!  Don’t let anyone talk you out of being all that you can be.  Whatever it is.