Change the future…touch a life…

April 16, 2018

From today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog post comes this gem sent in by one of his followers. If you want to touch the past, touch a rock.  If you want to touch the present, touch a flower.  If you want to touch the future, touch a life.”  (Sent by Al Weidlich)

That thought about changing the future by touching a life is the foundation of many organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, AA and NA and many more. It is all about touching other people and showing them compassion and caring. Those “touches” have the power to change people’s lives. Coincidentally they also change the lives of those who reach out to touch others.

We have become a society that is distracted and entertained by technology to such ancouple-looking-at-phones extent that we don’t look away from it long enough to see the lives that need touching as they pass us by. How can one see the distress and fear in the eyes of someone in need, if our eyes are glued to the screens of our smartphones? How can one have the conversation that leads to understanding of those needs if one is busy texting someone else with the handshakelatest “news” of our day?

Perhaps it is time to put away our technology and look around to see the people who share our lives. They may not be friends right now; but they could be. They may not need help right now; but they might. You will never know the pleasure of having them as a friend or the joy of helping them with a problem if you never take the time to reach out and touch their life. Something as simple as a friendly greeting may be all it takes to engage them enough to touch their life. Instead of looking away as you pass, look at them and see them as a person that it might be interesting to know.

Sure there is time to touch the past, whether it be a rock or an old photo; and there is time to touch the present, which we do with the things around us every day; but, it is our ability to touch the future and make a difference in it by touching the lives of others that is exciting. Touching things from the past or present has little impact upon them (other than perhaps to leave a fingerprint); however, we can change the course of history by complimenttouching and improving the lives of others. How powerful is that? Nothing else that you will do with your life will have greater impact than changing the lives of others for the better.

So, reach out this week and touch the lives of others. At the end of the day, think back on the opportunities to touch other lives that you took and those that you missed and resolve to do better tomorrow. I think that you will also realize the powerful changes that have occurred in your life because you made that effort and because others have made the effort to touch your life.

Put down those phones and stay in touch.

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Don’t confuse faith with religion…

April 13, 2018

A post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time back had this little quote from Bob Dylan – “Ya either get faith or ya get unbelief, and there ain’t no middle ground.” 

 Few probably associate Bob Dylan with faith, but his observation about faith is certainly true. What seems to happen all too often is that people who have faith get turned off by the practice of religion. Faith is the belief in God, whereas religions are all codified and ritualized practices that lay claim to being based on that belief; but which, in reality, represent the intervention and interpretation of man in the practice of one’s faith.

It is easy to become confused and maybe even put-off by the rules, dogma and rituals boredthat man has imposed upon those who seek to share their faith by joining a religious organization. That is especially true for younger people who have reached an age where they question the validity of everything; especially the rules of behavior and practice imposed their religion. If not before, college is certainly a place where that questioning take hold of young lives for a while. Eventually one is able to separate out the things that are man-made in religions from the foundations of faith and belief in God and become able to accept some of the practices of organized religions in order to share in the celebration of that common faith in God. It is in the quite peace of prayer that one reaffirms one’s beliefs and faith; and, it is in religious celebrations and church services that one shares the joy of that faith.

So, questioning or challenging the practices of some religions is not bad or to be confused martin-lutherwith questioning one’s faith. Centuries ago, Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church and the practices of granting religious indulgences. That challenge eventually led to the split from the Catholic Church that led to the formation of all modern Protestant denominations. The fact that there are so many different denominations and variations within denominations just further shows the hand of man in religions. The base upon which all are built remains the belief in God and His Son, Jesus, and, as Dylan said, “You either got it or you ain’t.”

You will figure out for yourself which of the many choices of churches is right for you; but, always keep your faith clear and central in your life and the rest will work itself out. The hand of God will always prevail over the hand of man.


Some things evolve but they never change…

April 12, 2018

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog featured this little quote – “The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”  (Voltaire)

Medicine has evolved a lot since Voltaire’s time, but that aspect hasn’t changed. If Voltaire was alive to comment on modern medicine his quote might read – “The art of medicine consists of drugging the patient while nature cures the disease.” Modern pillsmedicine seems to be focused more upon relief of symptoms than actual healing. Whatever you have, there’s a pill for that, or at least a pill to make you feel better while it runs its course. Nature still takes care of that over time.

Admittedly, there have been dramatic improvements in the surgery aspect of modern medicine. Now when something wears out it can be replaced, either by a man-made option or a transplant from someone usually less fortunate than the receiver of the transplant. It is even possible today to print a new things to put into you, using recently developed 3d printing techniques.

One thing that remains a problem is that going to hospital can be the most dangerous option for many. Too many people still die in the hospital from diseases or infections that they get there that they would not have contracted at home. In the Civil War many more Union soldiers died in the field hospitals from infections than dies from the actual gun shots that put them there – the result of infections from reused and non-disinfected bandages.  In the modern hospital it is most often the result of bad hygiene practices by the staff that allows bacteria and viruses to spread freely in the facilities.

I will also admit that the preventive medicine side of thing has gotten much better, with vaccines being responsible for just about wiping out certain diseases from Voltaire’s time. With all of that research and money spent on vaccines, the common cold virus still seems to have the upper hand. Bacteria and viruses also have evolved over time and we hear now about antibiotic resistant strains that may eventually win out in their war against humanity.

Perhaps we should all be content to amuse ourselves and let nature figure out a cure forman praying what ails us. That certainly beats the opioid option that modern medicine has come up with as a solution. From time to time we see studies that indicate the power of prayer in “miraculous” recoveries from some disease or condition. Perhaps it is the power of that prayer to encourage us to persevere while nature works its cure. Just sayin’ that there’s nothing wrong with prayin’.

Have a wonderful and healthy weekend ahead.


Put the zippity back in your do-dah day…

April 11, 2018

Retired pastor, Jack Freed, is the author of my favorite blog – Jack’s Winning Words –  and his daily quotes often provide the inspiration for many of my posts. Jack spent a week in the hospital recently because of a spider bite that became infected. He’s out and posting to his blog again and this was one of his posts this week, which I re-blog here in it’s entirety:

“I am totally lacking the ‘zippity’ part of my ‘do dah’ day.” (Sent by PZ)  I laughed at this one, because I know what it is to lose your zip.  Pete Seeger sang, “My get up and go has got up and went.”  Pete continues, “I’m able to grin when I think where my get up has been…But I’ll stick around to see what is next.”  That’s good philosophy when the do-dah-day isn’t going so well.  Celebrate the memories and say with Scarlett, “Tomorrow is another day.”    😉  Jack 

We all have days where our get up and go seems to have left without us, as Pete Seeger sang. Some days we awaken in the morning and just don’t feel like getting out of bed to face the day. Low energy days like that can be depressing if we let them. It is morningswoman-praying like that where you feel like turning to God and saying, “A little help here, God.”

That quick little prayer can make the difference in your day and provide you with a shot of energy much sooner and better than downing an energy drink. Nothing can put the zippity day in your do-dah day more than knowing that you are starting it with God at your side. What can life throw at you that He can’t help you handle?

this-is-meSo start today and every day by awakening the power of God in your life and you will be able to approach the day like the kids in this Disney movie clip.

Have a zippity do-dah day!

 

 

 


I know that I know nothing; but I believe…

April 5, 2018

Today’s musing is based upon a quote from a past post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

 “True wisdom comes…when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves and the world around us.”  (Socrates)Socrates

It is a wise man who admits to himself that he doesn’t understand life, no matter how well educated he may be. Training the mind to think helps with many things, but understanding life is not one of them. One might be better able to explain a few things in life (you could use the term rationalize instead of explain); however, understanding why things happen in life the way they do is beyond our abilities to understand. At some point, one reaches the end of the string of logic that they may have formulated to explain things in life. It is at that point that belief has to take over, because understanding is out of reach.

Reaching the end of understanding of things also forces a person to pause to consider bored2what it is that they believe in. It is comforting in those times to have a strong belief in God. Not understanding why things happen can be unsettling. It can cause confusion and anxiety. It can lead to hopelessness and depression. Being able to say to yourself, “I do not have to understand the ‘why?’ of everything. I just need to believe in God and accept His plans for me.”

It is that acceptance, of both God and His plan for you that provides you with needed comfort and relief.  You release yourself from the burden of trying to solve it yourself, figure it out yourself or understand it; you learn to accept life as it comes at you and do the best that you can with what life presents to you. You can focus more on how to deal with life, rather than being hung up on why things happen. Believe that things happen for a reason, even if you don’t understand those reasons. Find your purpose in dealingman praying with those things that happen.

You can start each day in the right frame of mind with a little prayer to God in which you say, in your own words; “God, I don’t know what you have in store for me today; but, I know that you will be with me and that you will not give me anything that I cannot handle with you at my side.” I shorten that prayer down quite a bit by reducing it a simple sentence , “Not my will but thy will be done.” Whatever prayer you decide to use, start each day with acknowledgement and acceptance of God in your life and nothing that you hit during the day will overwhelm you. Truly a wise decision.


What are you willing to pay for?

April 4, 2018

Every now than then I can’t help but make a post here about the current state of affairs in my Village, state and the nation.This is one such post. I’ve gotten it out of my system pot hoilesans will return to my normal focus on faith-based inspirational messages with my next post. One cannot ignore the crumbling infrastructure all around and not see the root causes of that deterioration.

“In this world, you get what you pay for.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

That quote has been used in commercials and elsewhere, but seldom in politics, where some apparently believe that you can still get, even if you ae unwilling to pay for it.

The recent rise into power of the conservative political party has resulted in numerous tax cuts that have left state and local governments destitute and unable to pay for basic infrastructure services or education – two of their primary roles. Many local governments are barely able to continue to provide police and fire protections, with some even having to abandon those services, too.

Voters seem happy to see tax cuts and then can’t figure out why their roads and bridges are crumbling or the teachers in their schools are striking. Yet, when election time rolls around, these same politicians will still be blaming their political opponents of being “tax and spend” liberals. Well, duh; how do you think things get fixed if you don’t raise fund through taxation and then spend it to make the needed repairs or to reward the educators and public safety officials in our communities?

There is certainly a valid argument that too much of the money raised through taxation goes to waste through corruption or out of control administrative expenses. Those are issues that need to be tackled in order to get the most out of our tax dollars; however, the conservative’s approach of starving those problems out of the system by reducing the amount available doesn’t seem to be working either.

Certainly, government work rules that have evolved over time that support a large management and supervision overhead need to be reviewed and reworked. Anyone who has ever watched a city street or sewer crew at work can see that there appear to be more people standing around supervising that there are actually doing the work. There is room for great improvement and savings there. Currently, those same workers are sitting back in the Department of Public Services garage because there’s no money to pay for the materials for them to use to do the repair jobs.

Another phenomenon is the “kick the can on down the road” approach to tackling the tough decisions and jobs that need to be resolved. Politicians are always looking ahead to the next election and are more concerned about staying ion power than doing the right things now. They fear being called a tax and spend liberal more than they are concerned about being considered to be a do-nothing politician. In Michigan term limits were supposed to do away with the perceived evils of career politicians; but, instead just resulted in a legislature where no one has any experience and still the people in the office for their shorter terms are more concerned with the next election than solving the current problems. That has resulted in partisan gridlock, since none of the legislators knows how to work towards the compromises that are required to govern.

More recently, a lopsided conservative majority at the state government level has resulted in ill-advised tax cuts that have left the State unable to carry out many of its primary functions, especially where infrastructure repairs and replacements are concerned. A recent local newscast covered the cost of the pothole filled roads in Michigan and concluded that the costs far exceeded the money returned to taxpayers by the latest round of tax cuts. Decrepit bridges falling down and killing or injuring people will be the next thing that we start to see. People will complain, “Why aren’t they doing something about this?” The answer that will never come out of the politicians’ mouths is that there is no money for those repairs or replacement because we cut the taxes. They’ll find something or someone else to blame.

So, the question that made up the title for this post is, “What are you willing to pay for?” Are you more willing to drive on pothole filled road or cross dangerous bridges than to pay for their repairs? Are you OK with kids who fail the most basic educational assessment tests because they don’t have books or maybe heat or motivated and well -paid teachers at their schools? Maybe you are also OK with headlines that point out that – “Last on List: Michigan Ranks Worst Among State Governments for Integrity”. These are all things that can be turned around and fixed and the solutions start at the ballet box. We all need to demand more from the people who represent us and make the laws of our country, our states and our local governments. Being excellent at playing kick the can on down the road should not be a point of pride for those people, but a point of shame for which we hold them accountable.

There is a chance coming up later this year for you to make a difference. So, every time you hit a pothole this year, think about the politicians who made that possible and remember that when it’s time to vote. It’s time to remember that you get what you pay for. The lobbyists certainly understand that, since they paid for the politicians who are in office now. This time it’s your turn. Get out and vote for someone willing to do the right things, not just the politically expedient things. What are you willing to vote for?


Who are you now?

April 2, 2018

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come this thought for the day – “I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”  (Lewis Carroll)

Lewis Carroll wrote the nonsense poem Jabberwocky, which was included in his 1871 Alice in Wonderlandnovel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice in Wonderland was sort of the Ready Player One of its day – an adventure in a made up land where anything and everything was possible. The line between virtual reality and actual reality exists in our minds and is a choice that we consciously make. Perhaps for some, that line also demarcates the boundary between sanity and insanity.

The truth in Carroll’s little quote is that we can never go back to who we were yesterday. We cannot un-learn the experiences that make us who we are today. We are faced with the reality that the only direction in which we can travel is forward. We may linger a while in the warm afterglow of a success in life or perhaps pause a while longer in the pain of a loss or defeat in life; but, in the end, we must move forward.

boredSo, who are you now? What have you done with the experiences of your past? Did you learn from them? Were you able to forgive, if that was necessary? Are you able to put the praises for your successes in the proper perspective, so that they don’t delude you into thoughts of entitlement? Are you able to turn your experiences into knowledge and wisdom? Who are you now? Are you comfortable with who you have become?

A term that we often hear about successful, happy people is that they are “well grounded”, which Webster’s Dictionary defined as having a firm foundation. Having that firm foundation allows you to weather the storms of setbacks and to properly position and assimilate successes. A well-grounded person really remains the same person that they were yesterday, only with a little more knowledge and wisdom.

How do you build that foundation? I can think of no more solid foundation upon which woman-prayingto build your life than a strong belief in God.  If you start with a strong, unwavering faith in God, you are free to build the character upon that faith that will serve you well in life. You will be able to absorb the defeats, disappointments or sorrows that life might through at you. You will be able to humbly accept the successes that you have in life as God’s gifts to you and not of your own making.  You will be well grounded. You will always know who you are and in what direction you are headed.

Have a great, well-grounded week ahead.