New blogsite!

July 27, 2010

All of my blog material is moving to http://joeycope.com .  In fact, all of the posts from Distinct Impressions are already there.  The site is still under construction and there are a few rough spots to iron out.  But I think you’ll like the site once I get everything arranged.

It is my hope that the new site will simplify my on-line life.  If you have been an email subscriber to Distinct Impressions, I hope to have a new subscription available at joeycope.com soon.

Email me with questions or you need some help.  copej@acu.edu

Thanks for reading!


Just past middle-age (writing) crisis

May 6, 2010

A few of you may be wondering about whether I have taken a vow of silence — or perhaps just erratic non-silence.  Truth is, I’m trying to figure out where to invest in some things, particularly in regard to writing.

“Distinct Impressions” has been my primary tonic for self-therapy and release for many years.  There’s a little bit of everything in these pages.  For those around long enough, there’s a lot of everything in the original pages that were distributed by email and not by blog.

Recently, I’ve been contemplating branching into a multi-blog format.  I’ve already set a few up.

  1. Distinct Impressions (this one) – reserved for those “ah-ha” or humorous moments.  No particular themes.  (And yes, still a great source of therapy for me.  Just think of it as my way of not tying up your time with late-night phone calls and visits.  Also easier for me since I’m predominantly introverted.)
  2. Reconciliation (http://reconciliation.theobloggers.com) – concentrated on peace and reconciliation from a spiritual view.
  3. 3Cs (http://jcope.wordpress.com) – nothing here yet.  I intend to focus here on more general concepts of peacemaking — useful to students, leaders, and everyday people like me who occasionally are looking for ways to get unstuck from conflict.
  4. The Foster Dog Chronicles (http://myfosterdog.wordpress.com).  This one requires a little more explanation.  If you’re my FaceBook friend you might be aware (unless you’ve hidden my posts so as not to be annoyed by them), that Nancy and I are foster parents to our son’s dog, Zoe.  As I got involved in FaceBook, I was conflicted (yes, it’s true) over what to write about in this social network community.  Knowing that a good number of my “friends” are children and their family members from church, I wanted something safe but enjoyable.  Except for kids (and perhaps cats, although it’s a stretch) nothing is safer or more enjoyable than sharing the adventures of a dog.  So, using Twitter as my feed source (which means, for you non-Twitter people that I can only use 140 characters or less for any single post), I have been giving the people what they want.  In truth, my “friends” are far more enamored with Foster Dog’s life than with my own. :-)  I’ve been encouraged to do a more in-depth treatment of some of Zoe’s adventures and thus “The Foster Dog Chronicles” blog has been established for that purpose.  Problem is, I can’t quite get past the 140 character-Twitter thing.  So, no chronicles yet.

There’s the update.  If you have thoughts let me know.  Also, I’m thinking about migrating all of my blogs over to a single site.  My friend, Brad, and I will be in conversation about that sometime later this year.  I’ll post that info here if that happens.

Oh, I’ve never really written blogs that encourage comments or interaction.  A large factor in that is that people don’t always want to comment on what I write.  And I’ve never really written blogs that many people read.   I’m not opposed to comments or questions or contrasting views.  But I would encourage you to contact me if you have preferences or suggestions regarding my current writing crisis. :-)  Comment here or send me an email at copej@acu.edu.

Thanks for reading.


Value in Faith, Part 3

March 29, 2010

Having recently posted something that drew the criticism of some of my readers — all of whom responded with great civility by reply and by private email, I might add — I recalled that some time late last year, I promised to share my thoughts on my faith.

I had this recollection because I remembered the value statement occupying the third spot on my list:

In order to realize the value I place on faith, I will listen to others and act with discernment with their thoughts in regard to God.

Now, I don’t like having people disagree with me any more than the next guy.  Yet, I am learning that God hasn’t given me the talent of always being right.

So I listen to other people.  Even when their ideas don’t match mine.  And especially when those ideas are about what God is calling them to do.  I appreciate them for voicing their concerns and challenging what I say.  I have discovered that I have much to learn.

Discernment is such a difficult exercise.  In my view (and I’m sure there will be those who disagree), discernment is a process that combines listening, thinking, sorting, inquiring, and ultimately feeling.  Discernment is making the best decision you can in a given moment and feeling good about the effort and the outcome.  Discernment, like all human endeavors, is an imperfect activity.

The beauty of my faith is that my God is too big to be dethroned by my mistake in judgment.  The beauty of my faith is the depth added to my relationship when I know that what I’ve discerned is enough for the moment.  If I was wrong, God will bring me back on target.  And I will always be trying to get it right.

I truly believe that God will deliver me from myself.  And my faith says that he will deliver you, too.  That’s the real message, isn’t it?


Out of Order

March 24, 2010

I have watched closely over the past week as the final moments of legislative process led to the passing of a new health care bill.  If you have hope that what I’m about to say will enlighten you whether or not this bill is a good one, I’m going to disappoint you.

Instead, I want to turn your attention to our growing adoption of misbehavior as a path of choice in public conversations.  I am disappointed in the behavior of our congressman from the great State of Texas who shouted his thoughts about the health care bill (“It’s a baby killer!”) during the address of his colleague from Michigan.

Does he have a right to make such statements?  Yes, he has the constitutional right of free speech.  My concern is that he chose to level those remarks at a time that violated the rules of conduct of the House of Representatives.  It simply wasn’t his time to speak.  The news media reports that he has made a public apology — seemingly because his shout was initially heard as a personal attack on the other representative.  At this time, however, he refuses to apologize on the House floor for his actions.

Having watched C-SPAN, I know that his behavior was not different from many on both sides of the aisle.  Nothing in me tells me that others breaking the rules makes bad behavior permissible.  I believe that he should apologize for breaking with decorum.

Then, yesterday at the festivities surrounding the signing of the bill, our Vice President introduces the President and as he moves aside, leans forward and, in a stage whisper loud enough for the microphones to pick up, tells the President that “This is a big deal!”  At least that was the meaty part of his comment.  He also chose to use an adjective that rarely meets the boundaries of free speech — an expletive that divides movies suitable for our children from those that are not.  A word that does often fit inside the definition of “fighting words.”  And fighting words do not always carry constitutional protection.

Now, you and I both know that language is used all of the time that some of us would consider inappropriate and, yes, even sinful.  You could also argue that “colorful” speech has edged its way into our everyday lives and we should simply acquiesce.  After all, words are just words, right?

I saw further evidence of this on a major television network this morning.  In reporting on the incident with the Vice President and looking at other “open mic” gaffs, a prominent news anchor opined that some are worse than others and “we all know that the Vice President’s language” was a result of his exuberance in the moment.  Later in that same program, a guest expert on health care was asked to comment on a certain health recommendation.  She, to the laughter of that same news anchor and everyone on the set, said, “I want to join the Vice President’s club.  Give me a break!”  She paused, of course, to indicate where in the sentence she would insert that same expletive.

I’m in the minority on this issue, I suppose.  However, from my experience at my mediation table, people make real progress toward resolution and reconciliation when they make the choice to follow a code of civil behavior.  In fact, I can never remember a single time when misbehavior did anything but escalate the conflict.

So, Congressman, Vice President, news anchor person and today’s expert on health care, let me just say that your choice of words and behavior have just guaranteed that those who have even a slight disagreement with you are not likely to listen to anything else you have to say.

Simply put, you are out of order.  If you seriously want collaboration, resolution, and reconciliation, make the first move back to civility.


Value in Faith, Part 2

December 31, 2009

I’ve been accused of not listening.  Actually, I’ve been convicted of the charge.

And my “not listening” is not confined to what the weatherman just said about the forecast or the announcement blared out over the plane intercom.  Nor is it limited to those vital moments in a television show or football game when I really need (in theory) not to be disturbed with outside information.  No, it’s been pointed out to me that my most grievous period of inattention comes in the midst of those times when I appear to be willingly engaged in conversation.

I, for one, find it ironic that this is a problem for me.  After all, I teach people how to have difficult conversations.  And, on most occasions, I am very successful in listening to others and conveying my interest in what they have to say.

After further thought, it dawned on me that I am most guilty of this behavior in my “everyday” conversations.  I’m not arrogant about it nor selective.  No, I see these times of exchange as a necessary moment to dispense MY information.

An additional irony emerges as I consider that my inattention transmits my disregard for the other even though these “everyday” people are family and friends who I dearly love.

This is a problem, I thought.  And being a problem-solver by nature, I came to the notion that I should list my special “everyday” people and give my best effort to listening to every word they say.  I was about 5 people down on the list, when I recognized that I “talk” to God everyday.  And thus, my second clarifying statement on faith emerged:

To realize the value I place on faith, I will spend more time in prayer in order to listen to God.

More time praying with the intended result of hearing more from Him.

For a doer and a talker, this is a big step for me.   Yet, I tried it just this morning.   Sat down.  Pulled my chair close.  Breathed deeply.  And heard God.

No booming voice came out of a thundercloud.  No stone tablets were pushed across the table.   No . . . only silence and calm.  And thoughts and ideas that seem clear now — and some that will become clear some day.  My God whispers.  He has nothing to prove.

And when I can stop and listen for that whisper, I come to know Him.   My faith can’t help but grow.

[This is one in a number of notes about my personal journey to identify and enhance my values.  It's personal.  It may not address where you are and may not align with your value system.  You may not agree with me at all.  That's all right.  If I'm missing something or you've got some thoughts that would be helpful, please do.  Thanks for reading.]


Value in Faith, Part 1

December 30, 2009

“Isn’t that God’s job?”

I forget who said it. But I do recall that I had just finished a rather detailed explanation about what I was going to do to handle a truly difficult matter.  The speaker then very kindly shared her thoughts about how God takes care of things.  “You can help,” she said. “You just need to wait on God for a while.”

I searched for an appropriate response.  I felt the need to explain that a quick response was necessary — there was no time to lose.  As I looked across the table, I realized that waiting on God was not a skill I had mastered.

I have an odd faith.  I have always believed in God.  I simply have no question about His presence and His power.  However, as I began to look at my personal values and His place in my life, I realized that, if faith was truly one of my core values, I would need to change to allow God to shape me through that faith.

As with each value I’m choosing to own, I fashioned realization statements for faith.  The first is simply this:

To realize the value I place on faith, I will acknowledge my complete dependence on God.

It seems simple.  As I look through all of my realization statements, I’m thinking that it’s the most difficult to attain.  It’s a daily, moment-by-moment, discipline made more difficult by God’s desire that we become as He is.  I want the supreme commander position, when God is really offering the better part — the unfathomable ability to love.

I do believe that God is control.  And to behave in accordance with that belief, I must ask for a source of power that bypasses my understanding of power from an earthly perspective.

God, grant me the ability to love as you love.  And forgive me when I forget to love.

[This is one in a number of notes about my personal journey to identify and enhance my values.  It's personal.  It may not address where you are and may not align with your value system.  You may not agree with me at all.  That's all right.  If I'm missing something or you've got some thoughts that would be helpful, please do.  Thanks for reading.]


Value Added

December 29, 2009

“Value added.”

Technically, the phrase is used to describe the difference between the cost of producing something and the amount a willing buyer would pay.  In other words, there is a value beyond such things as cost of materials and the time invested in production.

In marketing, “value added” sounds more like “bonus.”  You buy laundry detergent to get your clothes clean.  Infusing a pleasant scent in the soap – and your clothes – is an added value.

I probably spend too much time looking for bonuses and conveniences.  What really matters are those basic values that are consistent and sustaining — the things that are at our very core.

As this year begins to wind down, I paused to look back.  The last twelve months has been devastating for many of us — personal struggles, loss of loved ones, a horrible economy, disappointments.  However, the year had a lot of “value added” that accompanied the low points.

In a few weeks, I’ll be leading a workshop on New Year’s resolutions.  I was eager to take that assignment.  At least, I was eager until I realized that it had been years since I had personally resolved to do anything with any true measure of accountability.  So, in the last few weeks, I’ve been walking slowly through my own experience, reading the thoughts of others, and exploring.

My first step has been to identify and clarify what my personal values are – at least at this moment in time.  Personal values don’t change radically.  However, my study has led to the thought that erosion of these values is inevitable without active pursuit.

So dear reader, I thought I would enlist you to hold me accountable.  I’ve identified seven values and I’ve spent some time preparing clarifying statements to encourage me to “act as I believe.”  You are free to question anything you read or to point out a disconnect between my words and my actions.  I hope to share these ideas regularly for awhile.  And I would be honored to hear about your values.  In fact, I will be blessed and challenged.

In my upcoming posts, I will share with you my thoughts on the following values:

  • Faith
  • Family
  • Integrity
  • Peace
  • Friends
  • Gratitude
  • Fitness

Those topics aren’t listed in order of importance.  In fact, I’m learning that in regard to core values, the loss or diminution of any one of them causes me to labor to maintain the rest.

Thanks in advance for indulging me.


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