Running to Win

This section is dedicated to the many lessons that I have learned from other people about living life well. I hope you will enjoy them.

My dad standing in front of Mark and Madeline Ray

The first story I would like to call – “Three important lessons I learned from my grandmother”

My dad’s mother was a very amazing woman, her name was Madeline Ray Hawkins. She married early in life like most did during those early years in American history. She had 6 kids and put up with my grandfather’s problem with drinking. After many efforts to help him overcome this addiction, she kicked him out. She raised all 6 kids on her own during the late depression years.  During my early teenage years, I can remember going to the large Ray family reunions. By that time,  Grandmother Ray had 25 grand children and she really enjoyed these Christmas  gatherings. Over the years, her wisdom and strength taught me three important life lessons:

1. The Power of Pecan Pie – every since I can remember, I love eating her homemade pecan pies. I always felt we had a special bond since I was named after my great grandfather who was killed in a mining accident. His name was Thomas Starnes and my middle name is Thomas. With a desire to eat more of her pies, I would brag to her about how much I loved them. Every year, she would find a private way to let me know that she had baked me a whole pie for myself. Can you imagine riding home in the car with your brother and sisters with this pie in hand. How could she take time to single me out with over 60 people in the house?  It was her unique way to show me how much she cared.  Today, when I see a pecan pie in a bakery,  it still reminds me of taking the time to show others that you care. These pies are a symbol of her sweet encouragement and when you think about the pecans, which contain iron,  are sure to bring strength to your body.  So every time I having a bad day, and I need some encouragement, I’m going to find me a whole pecan pie because it reminds me of of her love. Her ability to make others feel special during tough times is an important reminder that little things can have big impact .

Pecan Pie can change your life!

2. The Power of Trust – I have had many opportunities to go spend the night at grandmothers house. One time while sitting alone with her, I asked her how she raised  6 kids alone? She said that when my grandfather left, she knew the children needed someone to trust. She said trust starts with keeping promises to yourself. If you can’t do that, how could you expect others trust you? Years later, I saw Stephen R. Covey book on the Power of Trust – he talked about his grandfather who was caught in a snow storm between two cities in North Dakota. As his car had to stopped in the back country between two cities during to the heavy snow, he was stranded in sub freezing weather and he said to himself if he made it out alive – he would build a small hotel there to save others from such danger in the future. Well he made it out of the snow storm alive and there now stand a small motel in the middle of nowhere. It wouldn’t have made good business sense but it reminds us all of keeping personal promises. He also talked keeping personal promises when setting the alarm clock to get up and exercise. If he made the choice  to set it early and commits mentally, then he was going to stay true to himself by getting up. The decision is ours….keeping your word can change your life.

3. No Excuses No Regrets…was her third point that day  – no matter how bad life can become, get out there is give it all you got. Do things in such a way that you will have no regrets. She lived that way and it has inspired her entire family and generations to come.

Living with No Regrets

What promises have you made to yourself and others that you need to keep? What little things can we do to make others around us feel special? I would love to hear your thoughts?

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