Life is like…

October 21, 2021

Don’t you just love all of those “Life is like…” sayings? Remember that Forest Gump’s mom told hinm that life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are gong to get. I liked this little graphic with its “Life is like…” piece of advice because it fit so well with my own philosophy of life.

The bicycle analogy has one other aspect that that was not highlighted in the little saying above. When you learn to ride a bike, in addition to keeping moving, you are taught that if you start to lean one way or the other, turn into that direction and the bike will right itself again. If you either stop moving or you were to turn away from the direction that the bike is leaning you will fall over.

Life throws all sorts of things at us that may make us lean one way or the other – problems, unexpected turns of events, personal losses, or setbacks.  We can’t let those things stop us and we must turn into them and face them or we will fall down. We cannot deny or turn away from life’s challenges if we wish to remain upright. We cannot stop living and must keep moving forward. But, how?

Look at the picture again. Now take the analogy to the next level in your mind. In the picture the little boy’s father is there to help keep him moving forward and to help him turn into the leans and stay upright. If you imagine that you are the little boy, who do you think can be the father figure in your life helping you stay upright and moving forward?

If you guessed that it is God, you are probably already pretty good at life’s bicycle ride. However, if you spend more of your time falling down and having to pick yourself up or perhaps you are stopped and feel stuck; maybe it’s time to let God help you learn how to ride the bicycle that is your life. God has always been there, right behind you, ready to help if you let Him.

You don’t get training wheels with life’s bicycle, but you won’t need them if you let God give you a little push to keep you going and some advice about turning into the leans that life throws at you. There are prayers that I could recommend for you to use to ask for God’s help, but just saying to God sincerely “A little help here” is as much as you need to say.

Accept God’s help in your life and then set back and enjoy the ride.

Finding your Happy Place…

October 20, 2021

Go on-line and Google “Happy Place” and you will get tons of responses, most of them very upbeat if somewhat vacuous. There is a big difference between being able to recall times and places where you were happy or had happy experiences and actually finding a place (mentally) where you can be at peace and happy.

Dr. Livingston – Wikipedia

For many people one physical place in which they find happiness is their church. But, again, it is not really the physical place so much,  but rather the state of mind that one gets into that defines a happy place. Perhaps that is why being in churches work for so many.

Dr. David Livingstone, a late 19th-century Victorian era Scottish physician and pioneer Christian missionary with the London Missionary Society, was an explorer in Africa, and one of the most popular British heroes of the era. He put it well when describing where he found his happy place – “There is one safe and happy place, and that is in the will of God.” When one is in church it is easier to get to accept God’s grace and peace and get into that state of mind.

I saw another quote somewhere that says – “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the moment.” – Lao Tzu

You can’t change the past and worrying about the future will not change it either, so that leaves you with making the best of the present. Putting your mind at peace and finding your happy place in the present is as easy as saying the little prayer that I’ve recommended over and over here – “Not my will but Thy will be done.” Try it and see if Livingstone wasn’t right. See if surrendering to God’s will doesn’t put you at peace and in a happy place. That can be your happy place going forward.

Learning from experiences…

October 18, 2021

Every now and then I’ll see a sign or ad somewhere that says, “Now hiring experienced (fill in a job here)”. I thought of that when I recently saw this Oscar Wilde quote – “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” Wilde had a great, if somewhat biting, sense of humor. So, I surmise that the employer is looking for someone who has already made lots of mistakes… somewhere else.

Of course, we can learn from successes as well as mistakes; it’s just that we tend to stop and give more thought to our mistakes and hopefully try to learn from them. Not everyone learns from mistakes. Many try to blame their lack of success on someone or something else. Denial of mistakes, or not taking personal responsibility for them, delays or prevents learning from taking place and dooms one to repeated failures. Eventually, most even learn from that, too.

Often a consequence of suffering a setback in life is that it may not set you back into the same place that you were in before it occurred. That is certainly true of life events like divorces or being fired or laid-off. Perhaps through no direct mistake that you made your life has taken a dramatic change. In some cases, the “mistake” was that you didn’t see it coming, because you weren’t paying close enough attention to what was happening around you. I those cases the “mistake” was not taking steps to get prepared for what was coming. We lament later that we should have seen the “handwriting on the wall.”  We do not move forward from the same place that we were in before; but we learn from that.

Like many other things in life, one can make learning from our experiences an integral part of life by establishing a pattern or habit of taking the time each day to reflect on any mistakes that were made or setbacks that occurred. The goal should be to analyze what you did then and to think about a better approach or reaction in the future, should a similar situation arise. I find it helpful to start with a prayer. Praying, being thankful for being given another day and accepting God’s forgiveness for things that one might have done or left undone puts one in the right frame of mind to learn from the event s of the day.

So, whatever your mistakes may be, learn from them and turn your experiences into wisdom. As Confucius said – “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Some of us may take time for reflection before acting and some may choose to imitate the right person to be successful; however, for most of us, our experiences will be the bittersweet road we take to wisdom.

Let us all learn something today.


Start with you…

October 15, 2021

Most people do not wish to be unhappy all of the time, yet there are some who never seem to be happy or content. Perhaps it is not that they are angry or sad, just that they don’t seem to be happy and that unhappiness sometimes manifests itself in their interactions with others – they are just not pleasant people to be around. Maybe you ae one of those people. It usually starts with not loving or being comfortable with yourself.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.” – Lucille Ball

I’ve posted here a few times on this topic, but when I saw that Lucille Ball quote recently it inspired me to write about it again. Insecurity about yourself or perhaps self-loathing puts one into a defensive frame of mind that discourages reaching out to others. There is a downward spital that starts with the belief that nobody likes me and progresses through the thought – I don’t even like me. It is a destructive, self-imposed loneliness which can lead to depression and worse.

The advice that Lucille Ball gave in her quote is a key step to break out of that mental state of self-hate, but there is a precursor to that step – accepting God’s love for you. Take a moment to think about and accept God’s unconditional love for you. It’s a love so strong that he gave his only son to die on the cross to save you. You cannot hide from God’s love. You cannot refuse God’s love. You don’t have to do anything to earn God’s love. You just need to accept it.

Once you accept that God loves you unconditionally, you can move on to the thought that, “If God can love me, I can love myself and who I am.” Then, as Lucille Ball said, “everything else falls into line.”

There is a sign in front of a church in Milford that reads, “Make God Smile, Accept his Forgiveness.” The sign could have said “accept his love” and made the same sense. God’s love for us was shown in his forgiving our sins through Christ on the cross and promising us everlasting life. So maybe the title for this post should have been “Start with God…” and then you can take of you. Everything else will fall in line.

Go for it…

October 14, 2021

So, don’t just stand there…go climb that mountain!

Potential is defined as “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness”. Those qualities or abilities will stay latent unless you develop and use them. There is perhaps nothing sadder than coming to the end of your life still saying I “coulda, woulda, shoulda been something – if only”. The main “if only” reason for many is that they didn’t try.

Fear of failure holds many back from exploring their potential. Failure is certainly one potential outcome of trying, at least temporary failure; however it is the only outcome if you never try in the first place.

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky said – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Michael Jordan is quoted as saying, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Both Gretzky and Jordan are considered to be the GOAT’s of their sport because they kept trying and trying until they realized their potential.

What about you? Will you just stand there staring at the mountain in front of you, thinking about how you might fail if you try, or will you take your shot and keep taking shots until you succeed. Get started. Realize your potential.

Wow. Another day!

October 12, 2021

There are many things that we tend to take for granted and not think about very much. Life itself is one of them. That is why the quote in today’s installment of the Jack’s Winning Words blog is so important –

“Every day is a renewal, every morning the daily miracle. This joy you feel is life.” (Gertrude Stein)

Waking up in the morning should not be taken for granted. Not being indifferent about each day will do two things – force you to make the most of today and allow you to be thankful for seeing the morning.

“Image courtesy of Simon Howden /”.

It is a shame that so many people come to that realization so late in life. Perhaps it is the fact that the daily lives of older people tend to slow down, and they have time to think about life. Time and life itself take on increased value as one finally perceives that both are limited.  The young think that there will always be a tomorrow and more time to get things done. As one gets older the certainty of that fades and the importance of enjoying what time one has left increases. The youthful sense of entitlement to another day also fades with age and be replaced with a sense of thankfulness to see another morning.

The physical consequences of aging often limit mobility which serves to force one to focus upon what is right around them. Sometimes when one is not so busy “doing”, they have the time to appreciate what they are seeing all around them. It is then that they make begin to see the beauty that they have been overlooking or notice the wonder of some of God’s creation that is right at hand.

If you wake up each morning and take the time to thank God for another day, it will put you in the right frame of mind to make the most of that day, you will be able to feel the joy of life all day long.

Wow, I just realized that I have another day. I’m glad that I had some time to share with you, but I’ve got to go. There’s so much to see.

Learn how to play again…

October 10, 2021

A quote that I’ve used before that I probably saw first on the Jack’s Winning Words blog goes something like this – “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw.

Today is National Mental Health Day. Across the nation serious and weighty discussions, newspaper articles and TV stories will focus upon detecting and treating mental health issues. I wonder how many will bring up playing as a treatment for mental health issues. Yet the ability to let go of anxieties, fears or self-hate is a natural component of playing – playing in the childlike sense of the word, not competing, just playing.

Children often hear the admonishment, “Grow up”, from adults or “Stop acting like a baby”. We take away the joy of their childhood play because it annoys us in our serious, sometimes dour adult lives. Even in what we call play as adults we find ways to make it competitive, to focus on keeping score and turning that play into serious business. When we “grow up” we tend to squeeze the fun out of too much of our lives and forget how to just play.

Maybe one part of the answer to improving our mental health is to learn howe to play again. It was kind of funny to see the old playground game of dodge ball reemerge as an adult activity. It probably started as just a fun thing to do to recapture that playground spirit; but, then, adults did to it what adults do and made it competitive, formed teams and holding formal tournaments – they took a lot of the innocent fun out of it.

Playing does not have to be an organized thing with rules and goals. It is just a time when you have fun for no reason other than to have fun. Taking time to play may be a very short, little respite in your day, maybe as you are getting ready for the day in the morning. I’ve posted here before that I often will just make a funny face in the mirror in the morning. There is no reason for it; it just breaks any serious mood that I might be in and forces a smile or a laugh – it is play.

So, take some time for yourself to just play. Maybe make a funny face in your mirror in the morning. Life is too short to be serious all the time. Learn how to play again.

Be at peace

October 9, 2021

I got the opportunity last weekend to deliver the Sunday sermon at my church in the absence of our Pastor. We say the Lord’s Prayer every week in preparation for Communion and a part of that prayer is are the lines “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive the trespasses of others”. I opined in that sermon that one of the “others” that we need to forgive is ourselves. The inability to forgive others or ourselves is a one-way ticket to unhappiness and maybe even to depression.

Men seem to have two innate tendencies that are their undoing – the need to understand everything and the need to control everything. Unfortunately, the need to understand things is thwarted by our limited imaginations and the need to try to control everything was never more than a pipedream. We can’t even control ourselves, much less anything else.

So, what we are left with is frustration and consternation. We are not at peace because we cannot stop fighting a battle that we cannot win against an enemy that we cannot even see, much less explain. I saw a quote recently that I will paraphrase – If you are having regrets you are living in the past. If you have anxieties you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot change the past or control the future. The only thing that you have any real power over is how you act and react in the present. You can be in turmoil, or you can be at peace. The choice should be a no-brainer, but it is very difficult for many.

I recently received a notification from where my blog is hosted that I had achieved one of their milestones – they informed me that I had posted my one thousandth blog post. As I looked back over the years of posts (I started posting to this blog in 2012) I noticed that I had posted many times about being at peace and how I have used the same little prayer for years to get to that peace – praying to God, “Not my will but thy will be done.”

The conclusion that I have come to is to forgive myself for any past failures, disappointments or sins (as God has forgiven me already) and put my trust in Him for my future. That leaves me peacefully happy in the present and I’m good with that. Try it, you might like it, too.

Be at peace!

When NOT to see or hear…

October 8, 2021

I saved this quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog because it seemed to be good advice for life – “If thou be a master, be sometimes blind; if a servant, sometimes deaf.”  (Thomas Fuller) 

As I thought about it, one can substitute the word employer for master and employee for servant and it makes sense in the modern world. It also makes sense when discussing marriages (substitute the words husband and wife on either end as appropriate).

It also brought to mind another quote that I saved from Jack’s blog – “Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.”  (Unknown)

There are many times in life when the wisest course of action (or reaction) during the events of the day is to overlook something or pretend that you didn’t hear something. That can be true in the workplace or with friends. It is especially true in marriages. One of the more subtle but damaging forms of domestic abuse occurs if one of the spouses is always critical of the other. Marriage is a partnership, not a master/servant relationship. As such the partners need to find ways to be supportive of each other and not critical.

In all cases, it is always better to stop and think before speaking (recall the old saw – engage your brain before starting your mouth). And, since you can’t un-hear something that might have been said to you, at least stop and think before you reply or even consider if you need to reply at all.

So whatever role you are in, heed Fuller’s advice and be willing to sometime overlook some things or pretend not to hear some things. Maybe saying that little prayer each morning asking the Lord for help with you mouth will help. If it at least makes you stop and think, before blurting out something that you’ll regret later it is a good thing.

Have a great weekend reflecting on the things that you didn’t say or hear. Be sure to thank God for giving you a hand (over your mouth).

Are you all-in?

October 7, 2021

A couple of quotes that I picked up from the Jack’s Winning Words blog just seem to fit together this morning –

“Love is, or it ain’t.  Thin love ain’t love at all.  (Tori Morrison)

“Ya either got faith or ya got unbelief and there ain’t no neutral ground.” (Bob Dylan)

Jack used the first quote today and commented on recalling “thin soup” from his life during The Great Depression, which extra water was added to soup pots to thin out the soup and make it go farther. Thin love, or watered-down love, he opined is as unsatisfying as thin soup. The Dylan quote he used some time ago in another post and he commented on the inability to have partial faith in God.

It is not possible to say that you believe in and love God only some of the time. However, what sometimes happens those who believe, is that they get distracted and wander away from God from time to time. Jesus told a parable about sheep that occasionally wandered away from the flock and how the good shepherd searched for those sheep to bring them back into the flock.

The events of life can distract us and cause us to wander away from our faith. We may become too focused on success in our work life and begin to ignore both our family and our faith. Perhaps we get so wrapped up in the secular events of our family, like sports practices and games, that we abandon our churches and temporarily lose sight of our faith. In some cases of the loss of a loved one, we may become overwhelmed by grief or remorse or even anger and turn away from God. That is the “How could God let this happen” reaction to a personal tragedy.

But the words of Morrison and Dylan provide the answer to our questions and the relief of our pain. If you love God and believe in him, but have wandered off; let the good shepherd, Jesus, find you and lead you back to the flock. Just like in a poker game, you must play the hand that you’ve been dealt in life, so either fold (not a good option at all) or go all-in with your faith. There is no thin love for, or partial belief in, God; you either got it or you ain’t. If you got it, let Jesus find you through all of life’s challenges and lead you back to the flock.

Are you all-in?