Monthly Archives: August 2019

Remembering September again.

Though I try my best to remember

the months and years I can never forget,

every time it’s the month of September,

I most often remember regret.

Regret for the times I was never…

Regret for the times I was lost…

Regret for my lack of endeavor…

Regret for all that it cost.

But regrets now take no lead,

because from them I’ve been freed.

Regrets may bring strife,

but remembering brings life;

An incredible distinction, indeed.

September the fourth it was over,

Now it’s September the fourth of nineteen,

eight wonderful years I’ve been sober,

eight sobering years I’ve been clean.

But I’ll always remember September

and thank God I survived to regret

the lost years I’m alive to remember

And the best still ahead of me yet.

Saving the fatboy.

Two years ago this morning all my jokes stopped. Hospitalized with septic pancreatitis, I began the three most painful weeks of my life where nothing was funny anymore. The doctors didn’t know if I would live or die. I was pumping more fat through my veins than blood and lived on a morphine/saline diet for two weeks without food or water. I lost 40 pounds and the carefree lifestyle of abusing my body with a fatboy diet rich in carbs and poor in life span. With today’s anniversary looming, I woke up anxious that I might not. But I did, and apparently so did you. You get one body and one lifetime to take care of it. Today, I no longer eat all I want, I’m still smoke free and thank God I’m still about 40 pounds down. And though I have terrible genes onboard fighting against my efforts I’m still working at it because you don’t always wake up from a wake up call, healthy life habits are no joking matter, and you can’t blame your parents for everything.

Last breaths.

“Just because it ended poorly doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it.”

For some, it applies to a failed marriage, the product of which produced some really great children. Others might write off a job loss too soon before considering the skills they learned for the next. Still others consider a prison sentence as if it were the end, when in fact for many it’s the very catalyst for a new decision to live better. But nowhere else does this sentence apply better than at the end of life when every last breath exclaims it was totally worth it all.



“Good enough to move on.”

You’d never guess by the looks of my desk that I’m a perfectionist, but in an extra-ordinary sense. Yes, I like to ensure all i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, but in a much more problematic way, I’d come to believe that before embarking on a journey or a project, all steps must be thoroughly anticipated, labeled and planned out or it’s prone to failure, may cause me anxiety and in rare cases, panic, even before taking the first step.

Enter: Psalm 119:105-Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

It’s become a problem. One that has put me in conflict with superiors and project committees and one that sometimes immobilizes me in my personal life to the extent I don’t start projects largely because I either can’t or won’t envision the end.

However, I’m now reminded that when I’m on the path, the Lord has given me a lamp–not a flashlight–to illuminate only my feet and the path a few steps ahead. The very nature of a lamp is that it only illuminates the next step or two, not the distance ahead, and for good reason more than just that they didn’t have flashlights back then.

I now daily embrace the truth that the path I am on is not mine but if I’m doing it right, it belongs to One much greater who knows if I see what lies too far ahead of myself (flashlight) I might see the many obstacles and be reluctant to proceed. A lamp for the few steps ahead is sufficient to keep me moving on. Ergo, my new slogan is


Good enough to move on.



Safer spaces and fonder places proved we made it through.
Recollections of changed directions made adults of me and you.
Waters under our bridges made needed abridges for the people we were destined to be.
Memories serve us so much, of life and its touch, leaving only our legacy.

life is a soap opera.

The older I get, the more my life appears to have been a progression of soap operas:

As The World Turns.

One Life to Live.
All My Children.

The Young & The Restless.
The Doctors.
General Hospital.
Search for Tomorrow.
Guiding Light.
Dark Shadows.
Another World.

the least of these.

I hadn’t considered myself among “the least of these” but starting over at 51 as an ex-felon working a $9/hour church janitor job apparently exceeded the qualifications. But the surprise of a fifty dollar bill tucked in my back pocket by a passing stranger at Christmastime was eclipsed only by the words accompanying the gesture. “You’re making more of a difference than you know, young man.”
I’m not sure if I was more shocked by being addressed as a young man or by the unexpected generosity acknowledging a complete stranger working a lowly invisible job during the busiest time of the church calendar. I’d just returned from plunging a kids’ toilet full of poop and was enroute across the courtyard to a hazardous cleanup in the preschool hall made by two siblings who’d had blueberries and alpha bits for breakfast.
I’d like to report our encounter was an interaction but his swift disappearance into the festive crowd of Christmas servicers was as angelic as was his act of kindness. By the time I put my mop and pail to the ground and wiped my hand on my shirt to shake his hand, he was gone. I reached into my back pocket to find the gift he’d bestowed and while $50 was a helpful blessing this time of year, his words had been of much greater value.
Invisible people are all around us. Janitors, cashiers, clerks and other such name tags we rarely if ever read or better yet, take notice. Doing so need not cost $50 or 50 cents, but only to know the words to their song that dreams someone might care enough to notice and at the very least, tell them that in this world, they’re making more of a difference than they know.

Accidental diversity.

Two days at a conference on leadership and I walked away with a personal action plan that will take me six months to put in place. We took our entire team of 19, but none of them noticed what I did. We’ve hired the best of the best people out there, not primarily for their skills but their passions. And because our belief and experience that passion consistently trumps skill in onboarding decisions, we became diverse purely by accident.

98% of those we serve are the poorest of the poor in our community spanning every demographic, and in our business of sheltering, homing, feeding and lifting them from their circumstances into self-sufficiency, meaningful connections with each one is imperative to accomplishment of our mission. We never intended to hire staff who have been homeless themselves, from the LGBTQ community, male, female, black, white, Asian, Hispanic or of any particular faith, but we did–now 19 times over–and many times before.

The social ideal that presumes the practice of hiring to proportionally represent demographically diverse people groups produces the best company results has never guided our staffing decisions. Hiring people whose primary qualification is a passion for hurting people is the factor solely responsible for our accidentally diverse team, because passion for helping unfortunate and underserved others has no race, color, faith or creed.

Of all my conference take-aways to enact in the next several months, ensuring our healing staff comes from every walk of life to connect with any walk of life is not one of them.  Passion for and love of the underserved in our community is a team builder that transcends all other reasons for hiring and maintaining the right person for the job. And it can happen purely by accident if you let passion be your guide.

Published by

Donald Miller M.S.

Donald Miller M.S.

Outreach & Senior Program Manager
HopeLink of Southern Nevada

the !

Our conversation about happiness took a wide turn into serendipity.
While sharing what makes us happiest I had an epiphany. All our scenarios were circumstantial, based on fortunate events and experiences that either happened around us, to us, or were otherwise created by us to experience and briefly enjoy. It occurred to me “that’s a lot of work for a fleeting bliss ultimately dependent on the next one.”
Being continuously happy requires effort and exposure to things outside ourselves while being content is a taskless state of peace within our circumstances whatever they are. Happiness is the ! at the end while contentment is the sentence before it we need not work to write, because we just let it fall into place. And we discovered that serendipity is both wondrous, beautiful, and exactly what our dinner conversation that evening had happily become.

for as long as we live.

Of all life experiences only one remains entirely unknown. Despite relentless attempts at its description from every conceivable perspective, unhinged fantasy, limitless speculation and sordid detail, unchallenged since the beginning of time, we still know nothing more definitive except for the promise that we never will for as long as we live.