Let it go. Spit it out. Taste the joy.

August 12, 2020

I save many of the little quotes that Pastor Jack Freed uses in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, because they provide inspiration for posts that I write. Every now and then, I notice that a couple of those saved quotes just seem to be right when one puts them together. Today is one of those days and these are the quotes that I saved over time.

“Suffering is not holding you, you are holding suffering.” – Buddha

“Life is like eating a watermelon.  Spit out the seeds of woe and taste the pulp of joy.”  (Unknown) 

Buddha was a pretty cool dude when it came to sayings that make a lot of sense and explain a lot of things. Likewise, “Unknown” (or Anon as he/she is often called) is always a good source of wisdom.

I’m sure that most of us know someone who just can’t let go of the suffering over some  tragedy or setback in their life – the loss of a loved one or perhaps the disappointment of being passed over for a promotion at work. We often label these people as “long suffering.” They just can’t let it go. They go through life with a mouthful of seeds instead of spitting them out. They never taste the sweet pulp of the melon because they are content to suffer with the seeds of woe. The suffering is not holding them. They are holding onto the suffering, because that has become their life.

If you know someone like that, or perhaps realize that you have become someone like that, it’s time for an interdiction. Help is as close as your bible. In it you will find –

 “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” – John 16:24

Most of the time you will find that long suffers have not stopped and asked God for help. They have not asked God to take away the pain and suffering, and let them get on with living their life. In some cases, they cannot forgive themselves for “things left undone” – missing the chance to say I love you one last time, or letting some sign of distress go unnoticed. If you can just get them to ask by earnestly praying for God’s help, you and they may be amazed at what God can do to take the seeds of woe out of their life and allow them to once again taste the pulp of joy.

Sometimes you may find that these long suffering people have just wandered away from their faith and become confused about why God would allow the tragedy to happen in their lives. There have been tons of articles and books written on the conundrum of why bad things happening to good people and God’s role in both the good and the bad in our lives. They always come back to the same conclusion – that God is not controlling everything that happens in our lives, but that faith in Him can control how we react to those things. It is faith that allows one to let go of the seeds of woe and taste the joy in life. Faith allows us to endure whatever this life throws at us, because we are confident that our next life is going to be wonderful.

These days it is easy on Social Media or maybe with a card to express condolences or offer a word of encouragement to someone who is suffering woes, but that is less helpful that taking some positive action. Perhaps your role is to help that long-suffering person fine their way back to their faith. One small way to help is to offer to pray with them. Prayer is usually a very personal thing, so opening yourself up to them n that way is a very powerful act of kindness and sharing that may allow them to break out of their shell of self-pity and seek God’s help. It also helps them to see that they are not alone, which many suffering woes feel.

If he person that needs help is the person that you see in the mirror every morning, there is nothing more powerful that coming to that conclusion and asking for God’s help. One does not have to say long, ponderous prayers in order to call for God’s help. I have posted here a few times about the short, but extremely powerful, little prayer that I use, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”  Just saying that little prayer is earnest can help you let go and spit out the seeds of woe. You will then be free to taste the pulp of joy in your life.

Let it go. Spit it out. Taste the Joy.

Turn your “m” upside down to turn your life around…

August 11, 2020

There is a simple way to make a rather dramatic change in the trajectory of your life. It involves letting go of a self-centered approach to life and embracing a life dedicated to the common good of all. I call it turning your “m” upside down – taking the letter “m” from the self-centered word “me” and turning it upside down until it becomes the letter “w” and the word become “we”. It is a conscious effort to consider the impact on others when making decisions in your life and not just yourself. It is also a commitment to be more inclusive, less prejudiced and more open to others – to expand the “we” members in your life.

We became a very me-oriented society sometime in the 1990’s and things have only gotten worse in the new century. It is that focus on “me” that has also increasingly lead to the polarization of society, as people began to seek out and gravitate towards others who thought like “me”. It became the norm to also identify the “them” in our lives who were not like “me” and thus to be vilified. Prejudices whether racial or based upon other factors like sexual preferences are basically a definition of people who are not like “me”. We seek the comfort of others who think like they do because it is less lonely than just “me” and it provides some sense of justification of our beliefs within the anonymity of a group. At the end of the day it is still a “me” reaction to life.

The truth is that we do not and cannot live in a “me” world. The world is not about me and our lives cannot be about that either. Christ did not say “Love yourself”; instead he said love your neighbor as you love yourself. Christ was telling us to take that “m” in me and turn it upside down so that it made the word “we”. Jesus did not tell the rich man to go get more money, more possessions and more power for himself. He told him to sell everything that he had and give the money to the poor. He was trying to help that man see that “we” is more powerful that “me”. Unfortunately, that man wandered off unable to bring himself to turn his “m” upside down.

There are those who have a knee-jerk reaction to any discussion of the “we” aspect of life – the common good for all. They immediately label it as Socialism and, out of their limited understanding of that term and their misguided prejudices, they dismiss it. That reaction is driven by the fear that becoming concerned about “we” means giving up something for “me”. Our lives are about much more than just money and possessions – they are about how we live them. It is time to stop and think about how focused you are upon the “me” and what you can do to turn your “m” upside down and become more about the “we” in your life – your family, your friends and all of the people that you’ve been leaving out because they were not part of “us”.

If you can do that, I think you’ll find that you are living a much more rewarding and fulfilling life. There is happiness, joy and reward to be found in “we” that are missing when you r focus in just upon “me”. Even if the “me” ends up with a little less, the reward to be found in focusing upon “we” more than lakes up for any sacrifice, made by me. The country that consistently ranks as having the happiest society in the world is Finland, followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and The Netherlands. One might ask how societies in such remote and somewhat rugged locations be so happy? In all those countries there are societies more attuned to “we” than just to “me”.  Even our neighbor to the north – Canada – provides an example of how much more friendly a society can be when it is more focused on “we” than “me”.

It all starts with each ”me”. Each me  must each make the individual decision to focus more on the common good and not just on our own good. If enough “me’s” start doing that it will tum into an “us” that we can be proud to be a part of and “we” will all be better off.

What will you do today to turn your “m” upside down and become a “we” person?

Be goofy today…

August 10, 2020

In his blog this morning Pastor Freed used this quote – “You’re never too old to do goofy stuff.”  (Ward Cleaver)

Those who don’t recognize the name Ward Cleaver are probably young enough to do almost anything goofy; however, for those of us who remember watching Leave it to Beaver, Pastor Freed’s post contained the advice that as one gets older it is good to also become wiser about which goofy things one tries. He used the example of getting on a pogo stick, which is probably a bad idea for most people over 70 (maybe even for those over 50).

There are many goofy things that one can do at any stage in life without endangering themselves. I’ve suggested here a few times that you lighten up your life by making a funny (or goofy) face in the mirror in the morning. Many people, especially in their middle age years, become too focused on success in their business lives, too serious and intense to even pay attention to their families, much less to their own mental health needs. We often hear it said that they are driven to success and pursuit of their goals. All too often those “driven” people are not happy people. Do you know someone like that?

Some business coaching articles and books would have us believe that we should learn to imitate those driven individuals, to use their techniques of focus and drive as role models for our own lives. There is an underlying thought in that advice which assumes that accomplishment of some or all of those business goals will equate to happiness. That is seldom the case. The accomplishment of success-oriented business goals must often just leads to the setting of bigger and higher goals – getting to the next level – which leads to even more intensity and drive. It never seems to be enough.

Yet many people who have not achieved notable success in the business world are happier by far. Why is that? Perhaps it is because they have focused more upon the important things in life – their faith in God and the personal relationships in their lives. A grandpa who spends time on the floor doing goofy things with his grandchildren is often more happy that the Grandpa who convenes a board meeting of his company.  The person that has a strong relationship with God is more likely to be happy with what he/she has than to be driven to accumulate more things, more money, more power. That person is also more free to do goofy things that they enjoy than the person driven by schedules and concerns about how things might look to others if they did something goofy.

Maybe you should add a line to your prayers and ask God to “Let me find something goofy to do today.”  It will lighten up your day and free you to focus upon what’s really important in life. Just remember to be goofy safely.

Have a goofy day and stay off of pogo sticks!

Don’t become a zombie…

August 9, 2020

A quote that I saw recently seemed to resonate today –  “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.” Dalai Lama

It is unfortunate and an unhealthy waste of your time to spend your day lamenting things in your past or worrying about things that are yet to come.

Perhaps if you start each day by focusing upon what you can do today and not on what happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow, you can actually get something done.

My wife almost every day asks me “What have you got for today?” It’s a way of syncing our calendars, so that she can plan for the things that she does for me each day and so that we can see if there is time for us to do something together. We almost always find that time.

Some days there may be 2-3 entries already in my phone calendar, but some days start out with a blank calendar. I view those as opportunity days – time to get around to things that have been on my to-do list for some time or which fall into that class, “I’ve been meaning to…”

If you must spend any time reflecting upon the past, at least use it as a learning experience and not as a time to beat yourself up about a bad decision or an unfortunate outcome. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from that?”, instead of wallowing in self-pity or remorse. If you find yourself thinking about the future, make that time a planning session and not an anxiety-filled time of fear of imagined problems. In either case, try to make that time spent as short as possible and get back to the day at hand – lived in the present.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”  Buddha.

A key word in that little quote is the last word – earnestly. One cannot live in the moment earnestly if on is focused on the past or the future. If you do not earnestly experience the things that are happening today, you will miss all of the nuances that are there for you to enjoy and from which to learn.

Allowing yourself to be consumed by worry about the past or the future turns you into a zombie for today. Live in the moment. The past is over and dome and the future will take care of itself.  

Don’t become a zombie.

Keep a little Peter Pan in your life…

August 7, 2020

“The Peter Pans of the human race never grow up, and they keep their curiosity.”  (Isidor Isaac Rabi)

That was the quote in today’s installment of the Jack’s Winning Words blog. One doesn’t have to be a Peter Pan to keep al little of that magic, curiosity and wonder in their lives. I’ve posted here a few times about not taking life so seriously that we forget how to play or have the wonder and fun of a child. Some take the phrase “grow up” to mean give up that wonder, curiosity and fun and become a somber, and sometimes unhappy, adult.

Certainly the responsibilities that you assume for yourself and others as you grow up become more serious and, at times, more weighty; however, they really don’t require that you completely give up that childlike curiosity and wonder at things or that you stop allowing yourself to have unbridled fun. Many suppress the child that is still within them so thoroughly that they become “grumpy old men (or women)”. Some become depressed because they will not ever allow that child out to play and their world become gloomy and threatening.

An interesting side effect of having a strong faith is that it empowers you to allow your inter child out – to keep a little Peter Pan in your life. It does that when you realized that God has forgiven you for all of your sins and loves you no matter what. That frees you also to love yourself and to rediscover that innocent joy that you had as a child. Faith says, lighten up, you are saved; appreciate and enjoy your days on earth and look forward to what is to come.

A strong faith also allows you to stop worrying about things that you cannot change anyway and refocus your curiosity on the things and people around you. You can replace worry with learning and fear with understanding. Aren’t you curious about how different your life would be if you didn’t spend so much time worrying about how it is? Discover the wonders in life that are available through faith. Keep a little Peter Pan in your life.

Be that friend…

August 5, 2020

In yesterday’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote that was setn to him by one of his followers – “Everyone needs a friend who will call up and say, Get dressed; we’re going on an adventure.”  (Sent by Andy Bezenah)

That sentiment is especially true in today’s COVID-19 environment, although it might have to be changed to read, “Grab your mask; we’re going on an adventure.”

One of the bad side effects of the pandemic has been the isolation of so many people, especially the elderly. Many were probably already somewhat isolated by other health issues; however, the need to social distance because of the Corona Virus has taken that isolation to a whole new level.

For the younger, who might be more tech savvy, it was an easier shift to the world of Zoom meetings and other forms of contactless communications. Many of the elderly don’t even have a wireless phone, much less a smart one and many do not have access to a computer, much less one that is on the Internet. For these people, the requirements imposed by the pandemic have been like a sentence of solitary confinement. Perhaps they see one or two people a day or on occasion. Maybe they see the Meals on Wheel driver or an orderly at their facility, but that is not the same as a visit with a friend.

If the person that you are thinking of is confined to a care facility there is little that you can do to visit or take them anywhere right now; however, a phone call and a chat might make their day. If they are still living at home a visit might work, even if you have to sit on the porch at a safe distance to have a conversation. For a few, who might be in good health and willing, picking them up for a short trip (an adventure) would be a great way to liven up their day. Just remember to mask up and have hand sanitizer available.

Whatever way you and your friend feel comfortable getting together (in person or electronically), the important thing is that do it. Your “adventure” may involve nothing more than a lively conversation or a rousing round of reminiscing, but is will make both of you feel better.

Call someone you know today who may need to talk to someone else. Be adventurous if you and they feel safe to do so and go visit with them; otherwise, just have a nice long call with them.

Be that friend.

Don’t throw it away…

August 1, 2020

A couple of quotes that I’ve saved from the Jack’s Winning Words blog seem to go together and provided the inspiration for this morning’s post here.

“Although we can’t stop the world around us from changing, some things are precious enough to preserve.”  (Linda Kast, Editor Reminisce)


“There’s an old saying about those who forget history.  I don’t remember it, but it’s good.”  (Stephen Colbert)

It is unfortunate that Colbert’s quote is spot on in terms of our society’s current feelings about history. We have largely become a “throw it away” society with things, with peo0ple and with our history. I am a Board of Directors member of the Milford Historical Society and past president of that board. Like the thousands of other small town historical preservation groups across the country, the Milford Historical Society has as its mission to collect, preserve and make available to the public the history of our little Village and Township. We operate a small museum, The Milford Historical Museum, in downtown Milford, which houses memorabilia, pictures and documents from the Milford area’s past. We also feature a second floor that is set up and furnished to provide an experience like one might have had in a Milford home in the late 1800’s. We provide docent guided tours of the museum.

Like most other small-town museums, mainly volunteers run ours. We have a paid, part-time Museum Director. In addition, we run a program for local high school  students which awards them a scholarship at graduation, after they perform a number hours of duties as docents (guides) in the museum. Our hope is interest them in history a little through that experience as well as to help them in their further education.

The Milford Historical Museum is usually open during the summer and fall months from May until November. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have remained closed and all of our normal activities have been suspended. Those suspended activities include the things we usually do during the year to raise funds to operate the museum. When the museum is open we get donations from visitors. We also collect dues from our membership each year.  We normally hold a rummage sale called Granny’s Attic in July and a Home Tour of some of Milford’s historic homes in September. The Home Tour normally contributes about 75% of our annual budget. Neither fund-raising event is being held this year and with the museum closed, we are not getting donations from visitors.

We have made an appeal to the local businesses that usually support our Home Tour, with some success, but not enough to make up for the loss of Home Tour revenue. Unfortunately, the bills didn’t stop when everything else did. We must keep the building environment controlled to avoid damage to the historical contents, so air conditioning in the summer and heating in the colder months must continue. We must still pay to keep the landscaping up and this year we had to have the exterior painted to avoid deterioration of the 100+ year old building that houses the museum.

We believe that the history and heritage of the Milford area is precious enough to preserve and to share with future generations. We hope that you do too. If you would like to make a donation of any size to the Milford Historical Society to support our mission, please send your checks to The Milford Historical Society, 124 E. Commerce St, Milford, MI 48381. Thank you for your support. Come by the Museum when we are able to reopen and take a look at Milford’s history. We didn’t throw it away, we preserved it.

You’ve got to look for it…

July 30, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Be happy, not because everything is good, but because you can see the good in everything.”  (From CCS)

It is not always easy to see the good in people or situations that arise during the day. In fact, the easy way out is to just see and react negatively to the bad that you might encounter. It is unfortunately that so many (and I include myself in this group) tend to take the easy way out. We dismiss the hateful or unhappy people that we encounter without taking the time to think about what may be making them angry, hateful or unhappy, Moreover, because it is so easy to just dismiss them and move on, we seldom even consider what we could do to help them or to change their mindset. In the case of situations, it is often easier to bypass them than to try to resolve them in a good way.

Avoiding situations and people is certainly not a way to happiness; perhaps not even a way to avoid unhappiness. Spending the time and mental effort to find the good that is in people and situations forces us not only to think about what we are facing, but also to reflect on the reactions that we are having to them.  We need to understand and deal with our own feelings of fear or dislike or disgust first, before we can begin to take any positive actions or see the good in the situation.

We label some people  as Pollyanna’s because they always see the good, are always happy and seldom react negatively to people or situations. They are happy people, no matter what. Others might be called a “Gloomy Gus” or “Negative Nellie”, because they see the bad in almost everything. They are seldom happy people.  Most of us are somewhere in the middle, if those two extremes define  a spectrum. Whether you tend toward the Pollyanna end or the Gloomy Gus end sort of defines what people see in you as you react to the world around you.

The good news is that we have some control over ourselves and over the perceptions that others will have of us.  A simple technique is to stop and ask yourself the question, “Where is the good in all of this?”  Try to see the good in that person that you just encountered before letting stereotypes and prejudices take over your reaction to them. Look for the best possible outcome to a situation, before getting defensive about a possible negative outcome. To find and see the good, you have to look for it.

Just building that pause and reflection into your life will make an immediate change. Prejudices are built upon unsubstantiated and unthinking reactions to people, based largely on initial visual cues – color, hairstyle, tattoos, nose rings, clothing and other factors can cause immediate reactions.  Stop! Think! Do not allow yourself to react based solely upon those cues. Realize that those cues are triggers and the preconceived notions attached to them that have baked themselves into your brain are trying to control you. In most cases, that reaction tries to happen before you have even spoken to that person. Stop it! Look for the good. Say hello. Be friendly. Surprise yourself and you may be surprised at the good person that you have just met.

Today, before you start out, stop, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you will look for the good in people and in the situations that unfold in your life. Make that conscious effort in each encounter or situation to stop and look for the good. See if you aren’t a happier person at the end of that day. Then repeat.

If you look for the good, you will find it.

Be on the bestseller list…

July 29, 2020

Today’s installment of the blog Jack’s Winning Words illustrates how the lives that we live tell a story that others evaluate and learn from- he called it our Gospel.

Jack used a quote from Mother Theresa, who wrote –  “I’m a little pencil in God’s hand.” She certainly wrote a best seller with her life of work among the poor of India.

Jack also referenced a poem by Paul Gilbert –

“You are writing a Gospel,

A chapter each day,

By deeds that you do,

By words that you say.

Men read what you write,

Whether faithless or true;

Say, what is the Gospel

According to you?”

While other men may evaluate you by the story of your life; it is most often the children in our lives who learn from that story. What will your children learn from the Gospel according to you?

Some books are banned, especially for children, because their content is inappropriate for young minds. Others are best sellers or required reading because he story is so good and the lessons to be learned are so powerful. Which would you rather the story of your life to be?

Many families have someone in the family tree that they just don’t talk about or talk about only in whispers, so that the children don’t overhear. These are not the role models that are held up to the children to emulate, but rather the bad examples to be avoided. Their Gospel is one of shame.

So what is the Gospel according to you? What things are you writing in your Gospel today that you want your children to learn from? Would you be proud to see that your gospel is being read or would you have to caution, “Don’t do what I did?”

The best way to write a bestseller with your life is to be like Mother Theresa and let God guide your pencil. Maybe you can add to your prayers, “God please guide my actions today so that they may make a great chapter in the Gospel of my life.”

Not all of us will have the opportunity, time or commitment to do the things that Mother Theresa did; but all of us are given the opportunity to live a life that we can be proud of and one that others may learn from by doing the right things and the things that we can to help others. So sharpen your pencil before venturing out today (thru prayer)  and get yourself ready to write things in your Gospel that you will be proud to have others read.

Ask God to help you be on the bestseller list.

What is your goal?

July 28, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote by Lori Deschene, author of the Tiny Buddha blog.

“The goal is to die with memories, not dreams.”  (Tiny Buddha) 

Perhaps one could put that thought  some other ways:

The goal is to die thinking I’m glad I did, rather than thinking I wish I would have.

The goal is to die knowing there is a God, rather than wondering if there is a God.

The goal is to die content with the life that you lived rather than saying I coulda, woulda, shoulda.

The goal is to die having loved and been loved and not having been consumed by hate.

The goal is to have made a positive difference in the lives of others and not to have just been a by-stander.

I don’t think anyone would end up being concerned about how many things they had or how much money they were worth.

As you think about your life, what are your goals at the end?

Now, what can you do today to achieve that goal?