Category Archives: As We Move Forward

What are we focused on? How can we move forward in the hardest times?

Check out the As We Move Forward podcast.

Shared Values

As We Move Forward: Shared Values


One of the easier things to recognize might be shared values. Just realizing we are feeling comfortable in a given situation and around certain people can lead us to conclude we anew in a setting with shared values. It can be more difficult to understand what those shared values are. When we are young our values are shaped primarily by our families. I have read that a child’s values are largely formed in the first three years of life. They form so naturally that most children just assume that the way their family looks at things is the way everyone does.

One of the first things that help us identify our values is how our family spends its time. My father was a teacher. There were five children in my family. My mother did not work outside our home. For this and other reasons, my father worked all the time. He had several part-time jobs throughout the school year and a full-time job in the summer. None of these jobs paid very well, and, especially his summer job, demanded long hours, seven days a week.

This schedule did not include family vacations. I can’t recall more than three trips we took while I was growing up. Two of these were to visit relatives and friends. I grew up in an area where people come every year for vacation. I’ve always known vacations are part of the shared value system of many people. It was just not part of my shared values growing up. The shared values I developed centered around my family and my church. They also included a strong work ethic.

As a teenager, I spent most of my time with young people from several groups. There was our youth group at church. The rest were people, mostly from a band, with whom I shared interests and values. The process of discovering shared values continued. Since I chose to go to college, I spent four years with people whose values included an appreciation for higher education.

The career I prepared for required three years of graduate school. This is a result of shared values. Here again, I found more people with whom to develop shared values. In the process of education, I met the person I have been privileged to share my life with. Our relationship demonstrates that people who share values can have very different views of life. It also demonstrates that shared values can expand or even change. One of our shared values has become travel. Recently we passed a sort of a milestone. We have now traveled in all fifty states. This is not a specific goal. It was rather a result of our shared value of travel and experiencing new places and things.


I have been blessed in my life to be able to pursue two different careers, each for more than twenty years. This is a result of shared values involving helping others attain their goals in life. My most enduring relationships over all this still encompass many shared values. I am pleased that whatever happens in life, my values sustain me and give me the strength to keep going. There are many voices today literally shouting at us what others think our values should be. Sometimes those voices can drown out our inner voice, the one that reminds us of what our values are. The relationships in which we experience these shared values help keep us directed and focused, even in the midst of the loud distracting voices telling us things we know are not true.

As we move forward, it is a good idea from time to time to reflect on our shared values. How did we come to have them? With whom do we share them? What do they mean in a world with more conflict all the time? As we move forward, let our shared values continue to give us guidance and strength to live through whatever life brings us.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.


As We Move Forward: Reunions


One interesting thing about the time I grew up and the dynamics of the place I grew up is that I was part of a multi-generational family, many of whom lived in the immediate area. This was a time when families regularly held reunions. As I recall, over my youth and teen years, I attended a number of reunions for at least three families. My parents and especially my grandparents made certain to introduce me to relatives I might not have known. I always enjoyed hearing stories of family history. I always enjoyed meeting or seeing relatives, the adults, and the “cousins.’

The locations of these reunions varied. Some were held at family homes. Sometimes the event was too large to be held at a home. I remember a few that were held in parks. I also remember some of the events being held at community halls. I remember one relative who had a position in a township government. I learned some interesting things at one of our reunions talking with her about local government.

Several of the relatives at these reunions were involved in farming. The area I grew up in was largely rural, but I have never lived on a farm and have very little first-hand knowledge of what life on a farm is about. I remember one reunion where I saw the farm of relatives after a tomato harvest. I remember being fascinated by this up-close look at how a harvest is carried out.

I confess the lesson about harvesting tomatoes had a deeper impact on me. A number of crops, including tomatoes, were harvested by migrant workers at the time in our area. I went to school with people whose parents had come to our area as migrant farmworkers and who had decided to stay.

In addition to reunions, my grandparents would take me to visit some of these relatives. I recall visiting several farms over the years and having cousins show me around their farms. To a young boy, these farms seemed magical. We visited one relative who owned a sawmill. That was a fascinating visit and look at how other people lived their lives.

Over my adult life, I have had numerous experiences with reunions based on high school and college graduation. Some have been associated with organizations I have shared participating with others. The thing all these reunion experiences have in common is a shared experience or relationship that gives people a desire to come together and talk about their lives in terms of these things we have in common.

These opportunities to experience a reunion are important as our lives become more and more complex. We need opportunities where we can share based on things we have in common with other people.


As we move forward, it is helpful to think about our times of reunion. What can those times mean in terms of maintaining a connectedness in our lives? We might want to create times of reunion in our lives and the lives of others to give us continuity in our journey through life. As we move forward, what reunions would you like to help create in your life and the lives of others?

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

How’s My Attitude?

As We Move Forward: How’s My Attitude?


One of the first things we develop in life is attitude. We might define attitude as “a predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation.” When we describe a baby, we use terms like fussy, nervous, upset or calm, peaceful, happy, or others, depending on what the baby is doing at any given time. When observing small children and animals, we become aware that they may demonstrate a different attitude depending on who is interacting with them.

As we develop skills, we tend to acquire certain attitudes. Prowess in certain sports can lead to attitudes of aggressiveness and assertiveness. In lives tending to quieter pursuits, attitudes develop that tend to reinforce and reflect these activities. In this way, different attitudes can be present in one person in different circumstances.

In the same way, the people in our lives can influence our attitudes. A loving, nurturing environment can nurture the development of one type of attitude. Strict, overbearing, or evening abusive influences in a person’s life can have a significant impact on the attitude a person develops. Economic factors can have a direct bearing on attitude.

A part of attitude comes from how we are wired emotionally. A highly systematic, detail-oriented person will most likely have a different attitude than a spontaneous person who has very little in the way of self-discipline and tends to go with the flow.

There is a cause and effect relationship between our attitudes and the things we pursue in life. We tend to engage in those activities that support our underlying attitudes and to avoid those that do not. In the same way, we tend to seek out relationships with people who support our underlying attitudes. Ideally, this results in a balanced, happy personal, and professional life.

Some things can disrupt things and cause tension with our attitudes. Something like a close personal relationship with someone whose attitudes conflict with ours can exert considerable stress on our emotional well-being. Being in a job you don’t like just for money or security can have a destructive impact on one’s attitude.


Some of these things can, at least theoretically, be changed. Some other things like illness, loss, a local or global crisis cannot be changed but can seriously affect our attitude. An awareness of our attitudes and the things that are influencing them can go a long way toward helping us manage the circumstances in our lives and making sense of what is going on around us.

As we move forward, we can increase awareness of our attitudes and those of other persons. When we face seemingly overwhelming situations in our lives, knowing how these things can affect our attitudes can give us valuable tools to deal with these things. As we move forward, sometimes we need every tool we can get.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.


As We Move Forward: Virtually


One of the things I remember from my childhood were the comic strips in the newspaper. The comic at the top of every Sunday’s comic section was Dick Tracy. Dick Tracy was a police detective. The plots and the characters in the story of Dick Tracy always interested me. One of the most interesting aspects of this comic strip was the use of technology–technology that didn’t exist yet. I will always remember how Dick Tracy communicated by means of his two-way wrist TV. Imagine being able to interact in voice and picture over a device worn like a wristwatch!

We had an Army Ordnance Depot in our town when I was growing up. My dad’s cousin, whom we called Uncle Bill, worked there. One day he invited us to a special event they were having for employees and their families. There were examples of a lot of military technology there. I remember a model of the Russian satellite, Sputnik. The space race had just begun, and the US was creating technology at a very rapid pace. One exhibit I remember from this day was a video phone. At either end of a long building was a device where you could talk with someone at the other end of the room. Not only could you talk. But you could actually see the person you were talking with!

I am amazed at how commonplace it is to communicate with both voice and pictures, compared to what an impossible miracle it seemed when I was growing up. Today we conduct meetings using devices to transmit sound and video images. I remember hearing stories of people in the military being separated by time and distance from loved ones. The occasional phone call was the only communication alternative to letters. Facetime and other video communication platforms cannot make up for face to face communication, but they make it so much better.

We have doorbells that let us communicate with people who come to the door, whether we are in the house or across the country. In a crisis, personal, local, or global, it seems comforting to be virtually connected with others. It can help people maintain a connection with others who are far away. Years ago there was a ride at Epcot called Horizons. One phase of the ride showed different groups of the same extended family communicating over video screens from different locations, even different planets. In the final segment of the Carousel of Progress ride, the same type of distance communication took place using virtual devices that transmitted voice and video.

Virtual Meeting

As we move forward, the role of virtual audio and visual communication is only likely to increase. The challenge is going to remain to keep relationships genuine and spontaneous as we spend less and less time in close physical proximity to others. Virtual meetings can save us time and travel, but can they really replace face to face interaction?

Working from home, telecommuting, can offer some real benefits, but can it fully replace interchange across a table from other people? As we move forward, we would do well to embrace a both-and rather than an either-or attitude to virtual technology. Nothing can ever totally replace one on one face to face communication with another person. May we have the wisdom to make the best use of virtual technology in enhancing, not replacing physical interaction in our relationships.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

How Big Is Your World?

As We Move Forward: How Big Is Your World?


When we are little, our world seems immense. Gradually it expands to include those immediately around us. Our world at this point seems complete and big enough. Some of my first memories of my world include the house my family lived in addition to my room and the rest of the house, I remember our yards where I played. I experienced one of the first traumas in my world in that yard. One day a dog in the neighborhood snapped at me. That triggered a fear of dogs that’s lasted into my adult years. I did not want to pass that fear on to our children.

My world soon grew to include my grandparents’ house. It was near-by, and we were there very often. One of my world-expanding memories came when my parents brought my sister thereafter they left the hospital with her.

My world continued to grow as I met and interacted with other kids in the neighborhood. My memories of this expanding phase of my world tell me it was a positive time, and my expanding world seemed big enough to encompass my growth. Our landlords in that house lived next door to us. I remember hearing that the husband died, and they decided to sell our house.

I watched my world expand as my parents decided to buy a house that was yet to be built. We visited the “lot” and came back frequently to watch the house come to life before our eyes. I recall a morning in that house that made my world suddenly seem small. I came downstairs and saw my parents and my grandfather sitting in the living room. As I started looking for my grandmother, my father took me into another room and said, “Your grandmother died today.” My first encounter with death suddenly made my world seem very small.

Sometimes things happen in our world that limits its growth in certain ways. I grew up near Lake Erie. I was not given the opportunity to learn to swim. I finally learned many years later, but my world is smaller because I am not as skilled as a swimmer. There are many things in our lives that either make our Le larger or smaller.

Recently my wife and I had an experience that made our world larger. We visited our fiftieth state. Both internal and external things can have an impact on our lives, making our world larger in a physical and emotional realm. I know there are people who have never traveled out of their town, their state, or their country. I also know people who have traveled to countries I may not even know the names of.


As we move forward, we can be aware of many things that can impact the size of our world. It can be difficult to deal with some of the things that make us aware of how small our world can seem at a particular time of crisis. We can be aware of feelings like helplessness or hopelessness. These moments can test us as we move through them. These crises do pass. Our world will adjust to fit its new size after the crisis has passed.

As we move forward, we can also be aware of the effect crises can have on others and the size of their world, both before and after a crisis. Perhaps these awarenesses on our part can help us and adjust to the changing size of worlds, ours, and others. How big is your world right now, and how did it get to be this size?

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

Amid Change

As We Move Forward: Amid Change


Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, said, ” No man ever steps in the same river twice.” This is an interesting metaphor both of life and change. We are born in the context of change. Our birth affects not only us but the people closest to us. I stood in the pulpits of the churches I was serving in 1975 on Children’s Sunday and said it was my last Children’s Sunday as a perfect parent. I knew that soon our twins would be born, and actual parenting, mistakes, and all would replace my theoretical knowledge of being a parent.

A lot was going on in our lives at that time. Gail was in Graduate school, and I was beginning my career as a pastor. Even though much of our lives remained the same as they had been, the addition of children to our lives changed them forever.

Sometimes change comes as an event or series of events that forever alter the circumstances of life. World War I took people out of their mostly rural roots and gave them a vision of a larger world. A line from a popular song of the era asked, “How ya gonna keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris (pronounced pair EE in the song)”. World War II did the same thing for the next generation. Suddenly families were stretched all over, making the traditional multi-generational family living all in the same place less the norm.

The home took on a new meaning as people brought their new experiences into familiar settings. Like the river that is continuously changing, new life experiences make even the same setting activities different.

Life-changing experiences can happen suddenly. We were at Universal Studios, Florida, on September 10, 2001. We went again on September 14. Walking in the same place was radically different. I remember wondering if it was OK to enjoy ourselves. The world changed on September 11, 2001. We can never return to the way things were before that day. We do things differently than we did on September 10.

Some changes come as gradually as the story about putting a frog in a pan of cool water. I’ve never tried this, but the story goes that if you gradually increase the temperature, the frog will be cooked without ever realizing what has happened. It is said that a frog dropped into boiling water will jump out.

We are Moving Forward

Whether the change is sudden or gradual, it is also inevitable. Aging brings about change. Our ability to do certain things changes with age. This can be frustrating, even disturbing. It is inevitable. We can not stop most change. We cannot control many things. We can decide how we will respond to change.

As we move forward, we need to accept that change is something we all have to face. It affects different people in different ways. Change tends to bring out the best and the worst in people. When facing change, try to take a measure of how it is affecting you. Do you need to reach out to others for help in dealing with it? Can you be of help to others? As we move forward, we weave the change into the fabric of our lives. Let’s resolve to be better as a result of the changes we experience.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

Life Isn’t Fair

As We Move Forward: Life Isn’t Fair

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Probably every person who ever lived has said at one time or another, ”That’s not fair.” Thinking back to childhood, I remember some of the baseball games we had in our neighborhood. One boy was a far better athlete than the rest of us. It was “not fair” whichever team had him. We had special rules for him. He had to hit the ball a lot farther than we did to score a home run. We made these rules to level the playing field and make it at least possible for either team to win.

Sometimes the unfairness comes from those in authority. I remember standing in line for some function. The boy behind me said something to me. I turned around to talk to him. Because I was a good deal taller than he was, my hand made contact with the side of his head. There was no conflict, and I figured it was forgotten. A day or two later my father angrily confronted me. Apparently, this boy’s mother had approached my father about my fighting with her son. I told my father exactly what had happened. He asked me repeatedly why I had not told him about this incident.

It didn’t matter to him that there was really no incident. He kept telling me how embarrassed he was when this woman approached him, and he had no knowledge of anything happening. He went to great lengths to be sure I knew he was disappointed and embarrassed he had been. It did not matter at all that to the best of my knowledge there had been no incident. His reaction and his disappointment in me was more painful than the two days I
had to spend time in my room.

I recall one of my physical education courses in college. There were a number of activities in the class, and some of them were difficult. I have never been an athlete and did my best to do the things required in the class. There must have been a number of us struggling to complete the tasks. One day the professor, who was also the college football coach, stopped the class and yelled at us for not being able to perform well. He actually told us his football players were not given a break in the academic classes, and that he was not going to give us any breaks in his Phys. Ed. class. I remember being very surprised. We were doing our best in the class, and the fact that we were not athletically proficient seemed an unfair standard for judging our effort and participation.

Thinking Person

When our children were younger, they would occasionally tell us they thought something was unfair. To this day, I believe they could recite my response, ”Where is it written that life is fair?” We often find ourselves in situations and circumstances which seem to be or in fact are unfair. Often in life, there is no one to blame for these situations. Our responses to unfair experiences have a lot to say about the way we approach life in general. We can become fearful, critical and argumentative, or we can assess the situation and figure out what we can to endure and overcome the unfair situation we are facing.

As we move forward, it is also helpful to be aware of how others are handling unfair circumstances. Unfair circumstances tend to bring out either the best or the worst in others. Maybe “worst” behavior is someone’s best effort to cope with the unfair circumstances. Are you experiencing unfairness in your life? How are you handling it? Is your behavior helpful to others?

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

How's Our Communication?

As We Move Forward: How’s Our Communication?


There is an old party game that many of us have probably played. It is called Telephone. Participants sit in a circle. Someone whispers a phrase to the person next to them. This continues until the last person says out loud what he heard. I have played this game several times. I have never seen a time when the final message bears any resemblance to the original message. This activity only serves to illustrate how difficult it is to communicate exactly what we intend to be certain is understood by the person hearing the message.

It is an established fact that eyewitness accounts of the same event can vary widely. This is the major reason witnesses to a major event such as a crime or an accident are interviewed separately. It is also why legal proceedings require the testimony of two or more witnesses. It is not necessarily that people do not tell the truth in these circumstances. It is just that our minds see and hear things based on what we expect to.

Parents know this phenomenon. Children often act differently than we think they will. When we ask them, they will often have a different version of what we told them. This is one reason it is important to be as precise and consistent as we can be in all our communication. Most of the time our communication works well. We know less of what is expected of us, and we can complete our communication with others easily and with mutually satisfying results.

It is unusual or unexpected situations that put our communication skills to the test. Situations like moving to a new place, beginning a new job or having a child can put stress on our communication. Even in these situations, we have enough in common with the people in our relationships to get our thoughts and feelings across fairly well.

It is in times of crisis that these breakdowns in communication can become serious. A crisis tends to confuse communication. In uncertainty, the tendency to hear what we want to hear can become overwhelming. That may be due at least in part to a real need to regain control over some part of our life.

We get frightened in a crisis, and our fear makes us less open to hearing what someone is saying, especially when that is in conflict with what we believe to be true. Social media really doesn’t help make this communication process work any better. In an environment where it is difficult to distinguish fact from opinion, it can be very difficult to honestly and openly share ideas and have a true discussion, especially where there may be differing points of view.


As we move forward, especially in times of crisis, it is helpful to consider the emotional context of our communication. If the person or persons we are communicating with seems upset or defensive, it might be good to resist the temptation to respond in an argumentative fashion and listen to what they are saying.

Since a crisis can bring out both the best and worst in us, we should be sensitive to the underlying tone. If we can remain rational and objective in our communication, and if we can keep our communication direct and concise, we can avoid the game of Telephone. We can keep the end message as clear and accurate as possible. As we move forward, let’s make that type of communication our goal and the standard.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

Responding In The Midst Of Panic

As We Move Forward: Responding In The Midst Of Panic

News Headlines

Most of us have lived through times of panic. Some major ones could include Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, 911. This is not an exhaustive list, but some characteristics of these and other times of panic could include a sense of total loss of control. It can also be referred to as a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or society in general. This panic can happen on a purely individual basis. Probably everyone can recall a time when they suddenly became separated from the adult they were with. It is a feeling of total panic to suddenly realize that the adult you depend on for safety and security. Thankfully, this is usually a very time-limited experience. Once we are reunited with the important adult in our life, feelings of safety and security return.

Long term panic can set in if the separation is more serious or long-lasting such as serious illness or even death. Various forms of hysterical or irrational behavior can, and often does follow losses of this type. We know that grief can be a long, complicated process. It is sometimes the case that unresolved issues surrounding this type of loss can show up in all the forms of panic involving the person experiencing the grief’s relationships. It is not unusual for people having difficulty maintaining normal healthy relationships while working through these results of panic.

Events causing panic over wider areas, like a region, a country or the world have long-lasting effects on many people over a long period of time. The Holocaust took place more than seventy years ago. Some form of response to the panic that comes from the realization that people can behave that way toward other human beings has been experienced by everyone who has visited one of the many memorials to the people who endured this suffering. Recordings have been made of interviews with survivors. The hysterical, irrational behavior of these events shapes responses to this present day.

The shootings and other acts of violent behavior being experienced in many places cause panic in all its forms. It is very common to ask after each of these events, “How do we get over this and return to normal?” There can be a sense of helplessness and hopelessness to these panic causing events. What is the right response? How do we keep the events of the situation from dominating every part of our lives? How and when does our life and world return to normal?


As we move forward, it is helpful to realize there will be events in our lives and our world that will lead to panic and all the behavior that comes with panic. We can help keep peoples’ responses reasonable when possible. At the very least we can try not to add to the hysterical behavior we sometimes see in others.

As we move forward, we can also listen and help others decide what is a reasonable response and how to find our way back to a normal existence after every incident of panic. There can be a great deal of satisfaction in helping with a rational, measured approach to situations causing panic. I encourage you to seek these responses and help others find them.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.

Following Through

As We Move Forward: Following Through

Baseball batter

Almost every sporting activity has built into it the principle of follow-through. In baseball, batters are repeatedly told to follow through on every swing and to run on every hit. If the hit is a foul ball, the runner is called back, but the impulse to run until specifically instructed to stop becomes automatic in baseball players who develop real skills as players. On defense, players are taught to run each play through to completion. The training to follow through on every play is drilled until it becomes automatic.

Football is another sport where following through is essential. Once a play is begun, both the offense and defense perform their assigned tasks until the play is complete. Many times, a majority of the players on either team have no idea how the play is going. They simply complete their responsibilities fully and completely. If any player does not follow through completely on their assigned responsibility, they are taken to task for the failure.

In school, homework is an essential part of following through. Reading and writing assignments are a regular part of learning, as essential as whatever takes place in class. Successful students tend to be the ones who follow through completely with all aspects of the process. Even high intelligence can not take the place of thorough following through.

Any creative activity like singing or playing an instrument, dancing, acting and artistic achievement to name just a few are based on the idea that to successfully accomplish any of these will require being totally committed to following through. When we watch any performance, we should be aware of the dedication and commitment to following through being demonstrated by those participating in the activity.

Following through is important in all our relationships. The total devotion parents experience the first time they hold their newborn needs to be paired with a commitment to that child during their teen years. The vows a couple makes to each other on their wedding day must be coupled with the following through required as the relationship grows over the years.


It is exciting to experience your first day on a new job. It takes following through to do that same well day after day, year after year. Sometimes it appears following through is not always the norm in our lives and in our relationships. Think about sometimes when you have followed through. How did that affect things in your life? How about times someone has not followed through when you needed and expected it.

As we move forward, it might be helpful to remember times when people have followed through in dealing with us. What difference did that make in our lives? We may want to make a determined effort to follow through in everything we do in life. Think about how much better that will make our lives and the lives of others.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.