What will you get out of today?

April 16, 2016

“If you haven’t found something strange during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”  (John Wheeler) – from a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I might have put it a different way – “If you haven’t learned something new today, it hasn’t been much of a day.” The thought is pretty much the same. Hopefully each day brings opportunities to learn something new. Some days may, in fact, present stranger things than others to learn from; but all days likely have something new that we should take note of, if we pay attention. Paying attention is probably the key to learning anything. So much of our attention these days is diverted towards the device in the palm of our hand that we miss many things going on around us.

Much of want you can learn on any given day comes out of the interactions that you have with the people that you encounter. All of them walk into your life from a direction that is handshake3different from where you were looking and they all carry different information and different points of view. Haven’t you ever wondered how things look from their perspective? If you encounter people with backgrounds that vary greatly from yours, maybe an immigrant or a person from a different ethnic group, haven’t you ever been curious how much different their take is on things than yours? Did you ever ask? What did you learn from that? It’s OK to start from the position of “I don’t understand you”; however, it is wrong to jump from there to “and I don’t like you, or I’m afraid of you, because of that.” Why not try to use the experience to learn something about that person. You may be surprised by who they really are.

Other learning opportunities grow out of the adversity that may come your way on any given day – roadblocks to achieving a goal or unexpected disruptions or rifts in a roadblocksrelationship with a friend or loved one. Not only can you learn problem solving techniques from each incident, but you also learn something new about yourself and about the other parties involved (and adversities almost always involve other parties). Try to make each encounter with adversity a learning experience.

Stop and ask yourself if you understand the differing point of view of the person with whom you are having some difficulty. Understand that whether or not you feel that their disagreement2point of view has merit; to them it is the perspective from which they are viewing the situation and the basis upon which they are making their decisions. Ask yourself if you
even considered that point of view? Now that you understand their perspective does it change your position at all? If not, why not? Obviously there are different ways of looking at the situation and no way to determine that your way of seeing it is the “right” way to see things. Maybe there is a compromise that you just have not yet considered. To overlook that possibility leads only to polarization and stalemate.

At the end of each day, take a moment to think back on the day and see if you can pick out the things that you learned during the day. That is a great way to actually make thosebored learning experiences a part of your knowledge base and a step towards turning knowledge into wisdom. What did you see today? Who did you meet today? What did you learn today? What did you get out of today?

Don’t yell it; live it…

April 15, 2016

“It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.”  (Jefferson) – a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

In addition to being one of the founding fathers of our country, Thomas Jefferson was Thomas Jeffersonquite a philosopher. His views on religion were focused around how you lived your life as a Christian example, rather than how loudly you might proclaim your faith. We could us more of that thinking in politics today, where loud and vociferous claims of being an evangelical seem to be the order of the day.

Many, and I count myself among this group, are what I would call quiet Christians – those who try to live a life based upon Christian principals rather than making public displays or showy verbal proclamations of faith in order to prove their bona fides. I quietly do my part at church, volunteering for leadership positions or just volunteering where needed, without having to thump my chest and say, “Hey, look at me: I’m a Christian; I’m evangelical.” I work within my community for many good causes, without making a big deal that these are religious acts. They’re not; they’re acts that I am driven to do based upon the teachings of my faith to serve others.

I’m pretty sure that I haven’t seen anything in the teaching of the Bible that would lead me to exclude people or discriminate against them, just because they are not like me or they chose a different lifestyle. In fact, many of the stories that become fodder for Sunday sermons are those about Jesus reaching out to those who were different or who may have helpereven been despised in the community in those times, whether they were lepers or women of ill repute or tax collectors. I suspect that He would have difficulty with many of the “holier than thou” attitudes that drive modern day words and actions of the so-called evangelicals directed against those with different appearances, opinions or lifestyles.

I think Jefferson was right. At the end of the day and at the end of life, the measure of one’s life will not be taken in the words that they have loudly professed; but, rather, in the style in which they lived their life. A life well lived in service to others and acceptance of the teachings of Christ will hold up better to the final scrutinyWWJD that one devoted to loud proclamations of evangelism while acting in bigoted and hateful ways. So, don’t yell about your faith; let that faith shine through in the way that you live your life.

What songs bring back memories for you?

April 12, 2016

“One song can bring back 1000 memories.”  (Mojo TV) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. For those not from this area, Mojo is a local DJ and personality who does radio and TV work in the Detroit area.

I’ve written here a few times about the impact that music has on our lives and how some tunes can invoke strong reactions or memories. There are songs that we associate with happy occasions like weddings and some that are remembered as part of funerals. Manylistening to music couples have “their song”, the special song that they remember from a dance or a date or a special occasion in their lives. Almost anyone who has had an American wedding and reception can remember the hokey pokey song or maybe the Chicken Dance. Many ethic weddings have their own ethic music and dances that are brought to mid by certain tunes.

Jack went on to write that the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, from the Wizard of Oz, is one of his favorites, because of its message of hope. I tried to use Google to find out what the most popular songs are for women and men. The results really are determined by how you phrase the search. The top ten power songs for women are shown in this YouTube video. For men it depended greatly on the search too, with this compilation of the top 10 Karaoke songs that men like to sing along to seeming to be a good answer. In other results women liked the more romantic songs based upon love stories while men choose sports or action themed songs. Who woulda thunk it?

listening to music on phoneIt’s been quite a while since music or catchy songs had much real impact on my life, but I still recall the songs that seemed so important in my youth and a few can still make a feeling weal up inside. These days I’m as likely to be humming or quietly singing a song from our church service as anything. There’s something honest and reassuring about many of the little tunes that we sing during a service that make them stick in your head. Perhaps I’m gravitating towards the funeral song end of the musical spectrum as I get older, but I prefer to think of the church songs that stick in my head now as being songs of hope, too.

Music and songs provide important parts of the overall experience in movies and in life. Try to imagine a movie without the background music to help set the mood. Music and song play a similar role in our lives. What songs stick in your head? What songs bring back fond memories or memories of things that you’d rather forget? What are the songs of your life? If you want to have an all-night discussion with friends, ask the question, “What was listening toi music.pngthe greatest song ever made?” Again, it depends upon how you ask the question in Google. The answer to a question what are the top ten rock songs of all time returns the list at the end of this link.  However, ask what the top 10 country songs of all time are and you get what’s at this link. One could go on and on thorough the various genres. Of course it always and must come down to you – what do your think is the best song ever? Then it is.

Get a Grip…

April 11, 2016

“If the mountain were smooth you couldn’t climb it.”  (Quoted by Wintley Phipps)  – From the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write – Many of us were fascinated in 2015 when TV showed two people climbing the sheer face of El Capitan, using only hands, feet and a rope.  They were able to succeed because small fissures in the rock allowed them to get finger and toe holds.  There are some life problems that seem impossible to solve.  Usually there’s a way.  Keep searching, climbing…And keep hanging in there!    😉  Jack

Before you can keep hanging in there, you need to get a grip on something. In the case of rock climbers it is those tiny imperfections in the rock – the fissures or knobs that they climbewrcan grab or force their fingers into that allow them to keep climbing until they reach their goal. In life we may have to look hard to find the things that we need to hold onto to provide us those grips that let us keep on moving towards our goals. Many times rock climbers may have to traverse the face of the rock that they are on at an angle because that is where the little grips that they need take them. Life can be like that, too. Sometimes we have to move sideways in order to move up. We may even encounter dead-ends that require us to go backward a bit and search for a different path, but the key thing is to keep searching for that next place to Get a Grip.

One of the more improbable and inspiring stories that I have seen was written about Erik Weihenmayer, a blind rock climber and mountain climber. Imagine, if you can, not only needing to find those tiny crevices and imperfections to grip, but having to do it in the dark, completely blind. Eric does it through his ability to feel the face of the rock with his fingers and tongue. He has not only scaled shear rock walls but was also the first blind climber to summit Mount Everest. You can read more about Eric by clicking here. Eric was not born blind, but suffered juvenile retinoschisis, a disease that took his sight. Eric did not let his loss of sight hold him back in life or in climbing. His positive attitude allowed him to Get a Grip.

Most of us will never climb rocks or mountains and that’s OK. We all have our personal facing stairschallenges to overcome and we all need to find ways to hold on and keep moving forward. For me and for many, our faith provides those things to hold onto, whether through prayer or through reading the Bible, there are always thigs that we can grab onto that will help us through whatever we face in life. We don’t need a safety rope to make sure that we don’t fall, because we have been told in Isaiah 41:10 – Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (New Living Translation) How comforting is that? It enables us to face our challenges without fear of failure because through our beliefs we are able to Get a Grip.

Let God help you overcome your personal challenges. Get out there this week and Get a Grip.

Don’t wait for the perfect situation…

April 5, 2016

“Do what you can with what you have where you are.”  (Theodore Roosevelt) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently.

waitingDo you tend to procrastinate because things aren’t just right for you to take action on things? We often hear people lamenting that that can’t do something because the timing isn’t right or that they aren’t where they need to be or that what they can do is not as much as they want to do…so they do nothing. “Do what you can with what you have where you are.” 

I think that Roosevelt’s advice is particularly important when one considers the big issues of our time – the poverty and need that surround us or the prejudices, intolerance and bigotry that seem to be all around us or perhaps or perhaps the pain and suffering of wars and natural disasters that we see on the nightly news.  After all, what can one individual do about those big issues? Take Roosevelts advice and “Do what you can with what you have where you are.” 

You can’t solve those problems by yourself, but you can be a part of the larger efforts thatgiving are underway to help. Join the efforts that are underway by groups like the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Lutheran Social Services or other non-profit groups. Contribute to them or, better yet, join in their fund raising efforts or in the work that they do to collect and distribute needed items of food, clothing or household goods. Volunteer to work on a house that Habitat for Humanity is building. Fill backpacks with food for the Blessings in a Backpack effort to provide food for needy school children who might not otherwise have anything to eat over the weekends. Donate money or food or household items to local groups like Community Sharing. In other words, “Do what you can with what you have where you are.” 

When you see a friend, a neighbor or relative in obvious pain due to the loss of a loved one or perhaps in a state of depression, due to the burdens of life, don’t hesitate, waiting for them to invite you to help or for that perfect moment to offer your help. Jump in and offer a shoulder to cry on, a hug to offer support and an ear to listen to their story. You don’t have to be a physiatrist to recognize their need nor a professional counselor to offer them support or relief; just, “Do what you can with what you have where you are.” 

seerving othersSo, don’t wait for life’s perfect moments to jump in and do something to help. Those moments are now, when you recognize the need and the something that you can do, the something that is needed, is for you to get started and take action. There is a theory called Chaos Theory that postulates that even the flapping of a butterfly’s wings half way around the globe causes an effect on the weather on the other side of the globe. So, be the butterfly and start flapping your wings and your little efforts to fix the problems that you see around you, where you are, with what you have to give will have an impact around the world. “Do what you can with what you have where you are.” 

Have a great and action filled week ahead.