THOUGHT 503

“Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.” — Napoleon Hill

THOUGHT 497

PEDAL

I used to think of God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to

know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there, sort of like a president. I

recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn’t really know Him.

But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike, but it was a

tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t know just when it

was He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since I took the back seat to

Jesus, My Lord. Christ makes life exciting. When I had control, I thought I knew the way, but it

was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky

places and at breakneck speeds; it was all I could do to hang on; Even though it often looked like

madness, He said “Pedal!” I was worried and anxious and asked, “Where are you taking me?”

He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered

the adventure. And when I’d say, “I’m scared”, He’d lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me

their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, my Lord’s and mine. And we were off again. He

said, “Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight.” So I did, to the people we

met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it, but He knows bike

secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high rocks, fly to shorten

scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning

to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant Companion.

And when I’m sure I just can’t do any more, He just smiles and says …”Pedal.”

— Author Unknown

THOUGHT 495

WHITE ENVELOPE

 It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it, overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma, the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son, Kevin, who was 12 that year was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended, and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in the spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids, all kids, and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse.

That’s when the idea of his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.

For each Christmas, I followed the tradition, one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.

You see we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.

Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.

The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

Author Unknown

JANUARY 2019

January 2019

As this newsletter is coming to you prior to January, Mrs. Hughes and I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2016.

          As I type I think back on the training that we have done in the Hackettstown area since 1979. A number of the original students are still involved in our training. The training has remained traditional in nature, which is uncommon in these days because most directors of schools look to make money, sacrificing the “art and the tradition of self discovery and intrinsic improvement.”

            One of the strengths of a karate training session is that the process is mental as well as physical, so the whole person benefits from the time spent in the dojo as well as during the disciplined practice at home. We cannot attempt to stay at the same level that we are at today. We must try to improve our abilities at kata, kumite, and self development.

            Another strength of traditional karate training is seen when the student can focus his or her energies on the inner qualities that set our training apart from other forms of exercise. Goal setting is not unique to karate training but is at times different because we cannot look at just the physical benefits of an exercise program. We must take into account that we want to improve ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. Think about what you want to accomplish during this year and write it on a piece of paper – – – put it away in a safe place (with your monthly dojo newsletters) and look at it every so often to see if progress is being made toward accomplishing the desired goal.

            Accept the challenge of setting realistic short and long term goals. Be prepared to work toward the goal and step by step improvements will be made.

 

“Remind thyself, in the darkest moments, that every failure is only a step toward success, every detection of what is false directs you toward what is true, every trial exhausts some tempting form of error, and every adversity will only hide, for a time, your path to peace and fulfillment.” Og Mandino

 

Traditions for New Years In Japan

The New Year’s is a great time to celebrate the end of a year and the beginning of another year. For many, there are so many traditions associated with how they celebrate. In Japan, there are also customs and traditions associated with bringing in the New Year. Here are just a few of them.

Deep Cleaning

In Japanese culture, the new year must begin on a clean slate. As a result, Japanese people usually partake in something called oosouji, or “big cleaning.” A lot of times, every inch of the household is cleaned, including places that remain untouched other times of the year. On a personal piece of anecdotal information, I remember my family moving even the fridge during oosouji, and vacuuming under there as well. It was exhausting for me as a child, but satisfying now to think of a house well-cleaned.

Eating Traditional New Year’s food

Another big tradition in Japanese culture is eating certain foods, Toshikoshi soba is eaten on the eve of New Years, while ozoni and osechi are enjoyed the actual day of.

Otoshidama

On New Year’s, there is a tradition of handing a bit of money in an envelope to the children. It usually isn’t much, but it is something many kids in Japan look foward to. Sometimes adults will get them to, but I remember it being something reserved for children. It depends on the household how otoshidama’s are given out.

Fukubukuro

Another fun little tradition for many is to go out and buy fukubukuro on New Year’s. Fukubukuro are essentially surprise bags that many retailers sell at different price points, that people buy without knowing what’s inside. Usually the collective retail value of the items inside are worth more than what the bag was bought for, but part of the risk is not knowing what’s inside. These bags usually sell out fast as there are lines of people waiting to buy one, and it is a pretty popular little New Years tradition.

Hatsumode

One of the more traditional New Year’s customs is Hatsumode, or the first shrine visit of the New Year. Many people go to visit a shrine on January 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, in order to pay their respects and also to wish for a happy and healthy year. The shrines tend to get very crowded, and families tend to all go together.

Hatsuhinode

Another New Year’s tradition is to observe the first sunrise of the year. Although there are many people who won’t be able to wake up for this tradition, there are also plenty of people who enjoy partaking in it. There is something magical about watching the first sunrise of a brand new year.

There are many, many more Japanese traditions that weren’t even mentioned on this list. New Year’s in Japan is a huge deal filled with festivities and traditions. There are many festivals and music that go on, and specials on tv that air only once on New Year’s Eve. The customs vary region to region, and household to household, but we hope this list gave some insight into some of Japanese culture.

https://www.hisgo.com/us/destination-japan/blog/japanese_new_years_traditions.html

HAVE A HAPPY, PROSPEROUS AND PRODUCTIVE 2019!