We’re not going that way.

December 31, 2015

“Don’t look back.  We’re not going that way.”  (Book by Marcia Wallace) – as seen on the blog Jack’s Winning Words.It

It is a time of the year that we glance back at the events of the year just passed. To say the least, 2015 was a scary year for many. There were too many storms across the country, too many wars still being fought overseas and too much killing and resulting unrest in the streets of America. The economy was still a bit shaky and none too generous for those with jobs. But, the good news is – We’re not going that way.

Looking ahead and seeing promise in the future has always been the American way. There are those who would like to take us back to the “good ole days”, but most understand that those days, while maybe containing a few fthinking of the pastondly remembered events, weren’t necessarily all that great.  We cannot turn back the clock and recapture the simpler life depicted in the fictional TV town of Mayberry; nor would we really want to, because we would be missing out on the great advances that have been made in technology and medicine and other fields that makes life better today that it was 10-20 years ago – in simpler times. That won’t happen of course, because – We’re not going that way.

Perhaps you have some friends that you might classify as Luddites. Those 19th Century self employed weavers went on rampages against the invention of automated looms that threatened to  (and eventually did) put them out of business. They were against the march of technology as a way to save on labor n industry. We use the term today to refer to people who resist modern technologies. Perhaps you know someone who refuses to have a computer or an email account or a smartphone (or a phone of any sort for that matter). They steadfastly resist modern technology and many live lives “off the grid” so to speak. Some even live without electricity and other modern conveniences. It’s hard to imagine life without all of those things and most of us don’t have to because – We’re not going that way.

Then there are the people that you might know who believe that their best days are behind them. There’s the high school jock who relives forever the high school homecoming game in which he threw the winning football playertouchdown. He may still be living in the same town and still wearing his high school letter jacket 40-50 years later. He works down at the car wash now, where he is still a minor celebrate (at least in his mind) to the people of the town who remember his heroics. Or maybe you know the guy or gal who never married because they are still holding out hope that a failed romance or marriage of decades ago will somehow be rekindled and work this time. They can’t let go; but you can, because – We’re not going that way.

Famed black baseball player Satchel Paige had a saying – “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.” He might have been referring to old age and death or just about someone from your past trying to catch you about something that you did. In either event his advice was good – look ahead rather than back because – We’re not going that way.

So keep your eyes on the prize, which is always ahead and not back. You may have missed the opportunity for last year’s prize; but until the time travel promise of the movie Back to the Future comes true, you’ll need to dreamsfocus ahead on the opportunities that lie in front of you for 2016. There’s an exciting adventure just ahead, with interesting twists and turns and a wonderful prize at the end. There’s a really neat person that you haven’t met yet just waiting for you in 2016 and a new job opportunity that hasn’t been create yet. A wondrous New Year is about to unfold;  so, come on, let’s go; I can’t wait while you look back at the past because – We’re not going that way.

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What time do you have?

December 30, 2015

“Time is more valuable than money.  You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.”  (Jim Rohn)  – from the Jack’s Winning Ways blog. Jack went on to write: I read last week that ½ of 1% of Americans have as much money as the lower 90%.  So…?  They all have 24 hours a day, and no amount of money can buy more.  Steve Jobs said, “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me.” 

chasing moneyIn general, people do seem to be more fixated upon money – the making of it, the collecting of it and the spending of it. One can make the case that if one runs out of money, there are still ways to live. One could sleep on a park bench, for instance. However, when one runs out of time there is only one place that they end up sleeping – forever – and no amount of accumulated money can do anything for you then.

While money is certainly important, how we spend what time we have seems to be a bit more important; largely because no one knows how much time they actually have. If we spend all of our time heclockhead manads down and working to earn more and more money, are we spending our time wisely? I think not. There are so much more rewarding ways to spend our time, enjoying the world around us with family and friends.

Perhaps we should begin each day with a little thank you prayer for having been given another day and a period of planning on how to make the most of this time that we’ve been given. Practicality may dictate that a certain amount of the day be devoted to working to earn enough to house, feed and clothe ourselves and the family; but that is never the whole day and even in the midst of that work there are family grroupopportunities to enjoy life and those around you. More importantly there is always time after work to do the things that really make life worth living.

Perhaps you have discovered the joy to be found in helping or serving others and the new day will present you with new opportunities. Spend your time wisely. Perhaps you have been blessed with loving family all around. Give of your time unsparingly. Perhaps you have discovered how alone at sunsetto be happy and content just being with yourself. Cherish your time alone. In all cases, at least be aware of and thankful for the time that you have and treat each day as if it may be your last; for you really don’t know if that may be the case.

Maybe, if you’ve lived a life in which you’ve recognized and celebrated each day as a new gift of time, you can join Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes in the theme song for the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”.

Are you having the time of your life? If not, why not? What time do you have? Make sure that whatever time you have is spent in such a way that at the end you, too, can say, “I had the time of my life.”

Spend your time wisely, my friends.


Look forward to making new memories…

December 29, 2015

“The nice thing about memories is that even if we forget some…We can always make new ones.”  (Ziggy) – as seen some time ago on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. This is the time of the year that we reflect back onZiggy the events of 2015 and look ahead to 2016. Hopefully we also use our memories of events in 2015 as teaching moments and learn from them. Then we can move on and make new and more rewarding memories in 2016.

More recently Jack posted about Jimmy Carter and his ability to use the things that happen to him in life as teaching moments in his Sunday school class – “Everything that happens in life, good or bad, he uses as a teaching experience.”  (Marina Fang) Carter recently used the announcement of the death of his grandson as the basis for a Sunday school class about turning to God for comfort in times of loss. Hopefully you find new knowledge and wisdom in reflecting upon the things that have happened to you. And, hopefully, you also know that God is there when you need him to help you get through some of the darkest moments.

For those who fail to learn from their own mistakes and misfortunes, dinosaurthere is another saying that Jack posted recently by poet Robert Frost – “How many things have to happen to you before something occurs to you?”  Hopefully, you are not so oblivious that Frost’s quote applies to you. I have known people who couldn’t figure out why bad things seemed to happen to them all the time and they tend to be people who put themselves in bad situations due to poor decision making. There is a difference between just having bad luck and making bad decisions that put you in harm’s way. Try to see the differences and understand how to make better decisions.

So, here we are approaching a new year – one that is full of new memories for us. Take the time to reflect on 2015; the decisions that you made personally and the outcomes that resulted. For the things that happened to you that turned out badly, try to see where you might have made different decisions that could have resulted in different outcomes. decisionsSometimes there were no alternatives available, because some things just happen and you just happened to be there when they occurred. But many times, there were different paths that you could have taken that day to arrive at a different place and not be in the position to have those bad things happen to you. Most people can see where they went wrong when they reflect back on the events and decision leading up to an event. Learn from that hindsight.

Probably the most important advice for going successfully into the New Year is to be open to change. Too many people try to live in the past; they can’t let go of how things used to be. Politicians in particular seem to use references to how things used to be as if going back to the “good ole days, when America was great” is either possible or even preferable. They allude to simpler times – the good ole days when there were fewer of “them” and when people just looked the other way and  racism, sexism, and prejudices were the accepted way of life. All of their simplistic sloganeering accomplishes nothing, but it evokes nostalgia in a portion of the electorate. The “change” that they espouse is to march backward in time, which is impossible and why most of them fail when elected. They had no real plan for the future.

Rather than look back (other than to learn from our mistakes), it’s betterwomen dreaming to look forward to the new things that have yet to happen. Yes, the old songs of 2015 and before were great, but think of all the new songs that you have yet to hear. Your old friends will still be there (most anyway) and there are new friends to be made. The adventures that you had in 2015 may have been wonderful, but there are still unexplored places and new things to try in 2016. There are memories out there just waiting for you to have them.  The future is a wondrous place and you are about to step into it.

Prepare to have a great 2016.


Don’t make resolutions without accountability

December 28, 2015

resolutinsIt’s the time of the year when we all seem to have fun with making New Year’s resolutions. That is the problem; we do it in fun and without real resolve. The list of “resolutions” really is just a wish list. Instead of “I will lose weight in 2016”, we are really just saying, “I wish I could lose weight in 2016.” I will go to the gym, becomes “I wish I got to the gym more.” And on it goes.

The issue starts with the fun nature of the New Year’s resolution process; we just don’t take it all that seriously; however, the real issue is lack of accountability. We don’t hold ourselves accountable and most of us don’t have accountability partners or coaches. Some, of course, have discovered that the key to making resolutions or commitments actually come true is being held accountable for them. They have formed an accountability partnership with someone else or have hired an accountability coach.

I will admit that I have done neither, and thus have no real experience to report; however, I do know a few people who have entered into such arrangements and they swear by them. They meet with their accountability partner once a week and report on the status of the accountabilitycommitments that they shared. Having to account for ones actions or inaction in the face of commitments that were made has the effect of causing one to become more diligent about meeting goals, completing tasks and generally fulfilling resolutions and commitments.

A good accountability partner will asked the second question if you’ve reported that you did not meet a commitment. “Why not?”  Just the fact that someone else remembers what you said that you were going to do and asks you if you did it will help you focus. They will also help you cut through the BS and excuses that you may be using with yourself to excuse your lack of follow through. You will not like having to embarrass yourself explainingtime-after-time in front of them. Over time they will also help you formulate more realistic goals and commitments by helping you see that overcommitting and then under-performing may be at the root of your issues.

So, as you start thinking about the thinks that you’d like to resolve to do in 2016, start by resolving to find an accountability partner or hiring one. Resolutions become just empty promises if there is no accountability. Go ahead and resolve to get to the gym and lose weight; but, have someone to hold your feet to the fire if you don’t follow through. Have a great and accountable 2016.


Peace on earth will prevail…

December 25, 2015

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this Christmas message –

I heard the bells on Christmas day 

Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat 

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

And thought how, as the day had come, 

The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song 

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

Till ringing, singing on its way 

The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime 

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

And in despair I bowed my head 

“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song 

Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail 

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

 

Jack went on to write – These words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow were written on Christmas Day, 1863, shortly after he’d been notified that his son had been severely wounded in a Civil War battle.  It is one of my favorite Christmas songs…especially the last verse.    😉  Jack

It is sometimes hard not to bow one’s head in despair when overwhelmed by the senseless killings that have occurred this past year, the wars that continue to wreak havoc around the world and the continued role of prejudice, bigotry and hatred in our society. Where is the peace on earth or the good will to men?

The answer lies within each of us. The popular Star Wars movies introduced the concept of “The Force”, which draws its strength from the Start Warscollective will of the people. Those with the ability to tap into the Force and focus it in the cause of good are called Jedi warriors. There are others who tap into the dark side of people’s wills and use that for evil. All of the stories of the Star Wars franchise have been about this continuing struggle between good and evil. At any point in time, evil may seem to have the upper hand or may win a specific battle; however, the overall message of the Star Wars series and of Wadsworth’s Christmas song lyrics is that right (good) will prevail and we shall have peace on earth. To believe otherwise is to allow yourself to be drawn over to the dark side and you will find no joy there.

So, on this day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus over 2,000 years ago, star of bethlehemresolve to join the Force in the battle for peace on earth, good will to men by doing your part and making your contribution to the end of hatred, prejudices and bigotry. Say a kind word to someone. Do a good deed for someone. Offer the hand of friendship to someone in need of a friend. Stand up and speak out against the injustices that you see and the bullying that you witness. Become a living witness to the good that God promises all with the birth of Jesus.

Have a great Christmas day and get ready for a wonderful new year, “with peace on earth, good will to men.”

The Force is not with you…YOU are the Force!


Don’t overthink things; just be in the moment and Believe…

December 23, 2015

“We think too much and feel too little.  More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.”  (Charlie Chaplin)

It’s the season to suspend too much thinking about things and replace it with believing in things. We see lots of cards with “Believe” on them, usually associating that with a child’s belief in Santa Claus; but, it’s reallystar of bethlehem a time to look at what happened in a manger over 2000 years ago and Believe.

It is said that a good movie gets you to suspend disbelief and accept what is being shown as true, as real, as something that you can believe is actually happening. I submit that true faith asks the same of us; that we suspend our disbelief and questioning and accept the message of the Good News as true and real and something that we believe. Voltaire said it well – “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” It is in that acceptance of God’s message of the birth of Jesus for the forgiveness of the sins of mankind that the true magic of Christmas occurs. Believe.

More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness, caring and love, helpercompassion and sharing, and all of the other attributes which flow out of a heart filled with the love of Jesus. A mind focused upon the work of God has no time for cleverness or deceit or hatred or anger or prejudice. A soul committed to faith has no time for deceitfulness, spitefulness or hatefulness. A body engaged in good works in God’s name can do amazing things, endure unbelievable pain and overcome overwhelming odds; if we Believe.

Over the next few days, suspend your disbelief and get into the moment. If it’s OK to cry at the end of the movie “Miracle on 34th Street”; it’s also OK to tear up when you think of the Miracle in the Manger. Those are both tears of joy and they make us feel good about the world around us and ourselves, if only for the moment. The little girl in the movie got the
house that she dreamed of because she believed, not so much in Santa Claus per se, but in miracles. In the long run, what’s most important is to Believe.

If you can get to that moment during the Holiday season, then the real miracle of Christmas will occur in your life. Gloria Coleman put it this way – “God is continuously pouring his goodness and loving kindness on you and all He wants from you – Is believe and receive.” Go for it and Believe.

So, think less and feel more. Put aside your cleverness and show your believekinder and gentler side.  In the moments ahead, when you may be standing in church somewhere singing Silent Night, amidst the glow of the flickering candles of all who have come to worship; don’t analyze, don’t question and don’t overthink things – just Believe.

Have a great Christmas!


Don’t be inert – speak up, act up…

December 22, 2015

“Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.”  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write that Bonhoeffer was a Christian who spoke out about the Nazi atrocities in Germany and lost his life because of it. You can read more about him by clicking here.

There is a line in the marriage ceremony (at least those shown in movies) that goes something like, “If anyone here know why these tow should not be joined in Holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.” In the movies there is more of a likelihood that someone will speak up or listenerthat something will happen. In real life, most seem to follow the rule that “silence is golden”. However, silence in the face of injustice is not golden, it is shameful. Not taking action when your heart tells you to is just as bad.

Fortunately or unfortunately, we live I a time when dash-cams and body-cams and people’s cell phones document many of the egregious events of our day. It is perhaps telling and a mixed blessing that the individuals who choose to document the events did not choose to step in and change those events. We spend an inordinate amount of time after the fact reporting and analyzing the coulda, woudlda, shoulda’s of those tragic events.

Some might look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer and what happened to him because he had the courage to speak out against what Hitler was doing to the Jews in Germany during WWII. I’m sure that a considerable number of other German Christians must have felt the same way, but they chose to remain silent and do almost nothing. There are enough stories about German Christians hiding Jews in their homes (see The Diary of Anne Frank) that we know that some others did take what action that they could or thought that they could do without being detected. They also took great risk and faced certain punishment if caught.

The news of today is full of examples of injustices, shootings, persecution and discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, religion or sexual preferences. It is also full of scenes of protest and violence sparked by
many of these events. Seldom reported is the reaction of the general population, those people sitting at home going, “tsk, tsk, that’s terrible”, either to the event itself or to the reactions by those protesting. The “Silent Majority”, as the Republicans like to call them can be counted upon to do nothing and that is sad.

Perhaps our inertia is because of a “them vs. us” mentality tpredjuiceshat has gained foothold in America. “Them”, of course, are all of “those people” who are not like us – the foreigners, people of color, and people with religious practices or lifestyles that we do not understand. “They” almost always belong to one of those groups on the citizenship form that fall under non-white. “They” are different from us and that is scary.

Another thing that is scary is the number of perpetrators of atrocities who claim to have acted in the name of their faith.  It is alright to disagree on topics like abortion or sexual orientation, but it is not OK to go to a family man mad at himselfplanning clinic and shoot people with whom you disagree and say that you did that out of religious conviction. There are few religions that condone killing in the name of the religion. Certainly those who claim to be Christians may peacefully protest those things with which they do not agree or they may pray for the souls of those whom they consider to have wandered away from the teachings of Christ, but they do not harm others in the name of their religious beliefs. Nothing could be further from the teachings of Jesus than those types of actions taken in His name.

Tis the season of giving and not acting on the urge and the need to give is indeed an action – the action of not caring enough. “Gee, I meant to give something”, is not enough. ”I’ll give next time”, won’t help. Even, “I gave at church”, won’t meet the needs that are all around us. While I don’t discourage giving to the big national causes, there are lots of small, local causes that neseerving othersed your help, such as food pantries or homeless shelters. Many are run mostly or entirely by volunteers, so more of your money goes directly to impact the cause and fill the needs. Every one of them, if you check into them, is run by people with a true passion for the help and services that they provide.

One such service that I’ve been supporting here with posts is the Supportive Alternative Living (S.A.L.) organization, which provides services to adult special needs people living in our area. Many were the cute kids that you saw and cheered for in Special Olympics, when they were younger (some many still compete as adults). What happened to them? They grew up and now they live in our community as adults, many with jobs at local businesses. They still need help with day-to-day living; and, even though there is some money available through government programs at various levels, someone has to be there to perforin the services that are needed, from simple things like driving them somewhere to helping them with their bills and finances.

S.A.L. staffers perform those services in our community. S.A.L. used to be funded by Oakland County under the Mental Health budget, but that budget was slashed recently (another tax saving move with unintended consequences), so now they need the help of donations fro the community to be able to continue the program that allows these special needs adults to live independently and not in group homes somewhere. To learn more about S.A.L. and their programs for adult special needs people, go to their web site. You can help by clicking on the Donate button below to make your donation.  If you don’t live in or near Milford, Michigan, donate anyway; I can assure your that this is one of the more worthy causes that you can choose to support this Christmas. Now is the time to act. Give today and have a Merry Christmas knowing that you acted.donate