If you care, then do something…

May 26, 2016

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.  For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”  (Margaret Mead) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time ago.

We have recently seen the impact in Michigan that a few caring people had on exposing the Flint water crisis and in earlier actions elsewhere by so-called whistle blowers that got investigations started into things like the problems within the VA or the school supplies scandal in Detroit. Those were all actions by people who cared about right and wrong and who decided to do the right thing, even if it was unpopular or could have caused them personal loss. The other thing that they did was recognize that they didn’t have to solve the problems all by themselves. They knew that by exposing the issues to the right people they could get the attention of many others that would be needed to actually tackle the problem or make the needed changes.

There are many really big problems in the world for which we must be content with doing something small to help; something that contributes, even if we can’t see the end result. man prayingThat’s why we put our money in the Red Salvation Army kettles at Christmas or maybe we join a prayer circle at church and pray for people that we don’t even know who have been through some natural disaster in some foreign place. Both actions have a positive impact that we don’t get to see directly.

In America we have another opportunity to show that we care coming up later this year as we go to the polls and express that care through our votes. What we care about often dictates who and what we vote for or against. For some that care leads them to become volunteers on the campaign staffs of candidates who seem to share their views about what needs to be changed or done. For others, just the act of getting out and voting is enough to show that they care. I wear my little “I Voted” sticker the rest of the day on Election Day, as much as anything to say, “I cared enough to try to change things, did you?”

Maybe there ought to be a little sticker that you could wear around that says “I Prayed”, to prayingshow that you cared enough to take the time to pray for those in need and for solutions to the big, seemingly impossible problems that plague the world, such as hunger or diseases or discrimination. After all, where are you going to take those big problems and find someone who has a proven track record of doing the impossible and performing miracles? People of faith know that somewhere, somehow, someone will benefit from those prayers. You may not see the results, but you know that there are always results when you ask God for help.

take actionSo, if you care, do something about it. Maybe you can take some direct action, maybe not; but, you can always pray. Maybe Mead’s little quote should be slightly changed to read – “Never believe that a few praying people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

Look up and be nourished…

May 25, 2016

“When it rains soup the poor man has no spoon.”  (Swedish Proverb) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write about the good works of the Capuchin Soup Kitchens, which provide so many meals for those in need.

The Swedish Proverb seems rather negative or down on the poor man. I might prefer something that says if the poor man turns his face upward and opens his mouth in prayer God will provide nourishment that needs no spoon. Perhaps that is nourishment for the soul.

hand reaching for heavenThere are certainly plenty of stories in the Bible of God providing when called upon, some of them even involving food or drink. The Bible is also full of references of mankind “hungering or thirsting” for religious signs or reinforcement of beliefs. It’s as if we can only go so long on one serving of faith before we need another “meal”, another helping of God’s love. That new helping of faith comes through prayer. We ask God and He provides. We need no spoon for the nourishment for our souls that comes looking upward and opening our mouths in prayer.

Try it this morning and see how God fills your soul with nourishing faith for the day.

July 4th – Parades, Ducks and Fireworks

May 24, 2016

The 4th of July may seem to be a long way off, but it will be here sooner that you think. Independence Day in the Milford area is always special. One of the three major parades of the year in Milford takes place on that day ( the other two are the Memorial Day Parade and the Christmas Parade). The Independence Day Parade is put on by the Milford Historical Society, which also runs the Milford Historical Museum in Downtown Milford.

RotaryDucksThis year the 4th of July Parade will have a special twist, with the addition of the Huron Valley Rotary Club’s annual Duck Race in Central Park. Here is their Press Release –

Huron Valley Rotary Club (formerly Milford Rotary Club) will be celebrating their annual duck race fundraiser this year on the 4th of July this year following the Parade in Beautiful Downtown Milford.  Designed to be a family fun event right after the parade and held in Central Park, there will be food, games, displays, music and fantastic prizes for the famous Duck Race which will be held at 3 PM.

This year count on games designed to engage the entire family so they can remain downtown Milford after the parade and enjoy the day with family and friends.

One of the Rotary Clubs major fundraisers, proceeds help us to do work with local nonprofits in our community as well as provide scholarships for high school seniors at both Milford and Lakeland High School. Duck tickets can be purchased from any Rotarian, Huron Valley State Bank, and the Carls Family YMCA.  Several other non-profit organizations are also joining in selling ducks and will earn a percent of the proceeds of the tickets they sell. Be sure to go to our website http://www.huronvalleyrotary.com or follow us on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DuckRaceFestival/ .

For additional information, please contact Sharon Peterson at sjpeterson@ymcadetroit.org.

The Rotarians have this wonderful family event planned to follow the parade, with food and games and things to do for the whole family – all leading up to the excitement of the annual Duck Race down Pettibone Creek in Central Park. The excitement of thousands of little yellow rubber ducks furiously paddling down the creek to try to be first to the river is not to be missed, not to mention the thrill of having the winning duck which pays the owner an amount yet to be determined; but which has paid as much as $2,000 to the winner in the past.

The theme of this year’s Independence Day Parade is “Celebrating our Freedoms” and all paradelocal organizations are encouraged to enter a float or walking group in the parade. The parade is on the 4th of July and steps off at 11:00 AM, with line-up starting at 10:15 AM. Participants line up on Union, Hickory and East Streets. Groups may obtain the Parade Registration form from the  Milford Historical Society web site – www.milfordhistory.org or by emailing parade co-chairs Rich Harrison or Norm Werner.

There are many area fireworks shows during the 4th of July Weekend, with events at Kensington Metropark and Camp Dearborn being the closest.

So plan on spending much of the 4th of July in Milford at the parade and the Duck Race festivities to follow.


Be there for someone today…

May 23, 2016

“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something.”  (H. Jackson Brown Jr) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

timidYou will meet many people this week and all of them will be people for whom the little quote above applies. Many of them may also be someone who is need of someone else to share their fears or sadness or love with; someone who cares about them and their situation or condition. Maybe that can be you.

Our typical greeting of, “How are you?” has become such a throw-away line that we really don’t expect an answer, other than perhaps the retort, “Fine, how are you?” We ask without really caring about the other person. If anything, we respond because we want to tell them about our troubles or issues, in hopes of evoking their empathy with our situation.

I meet very few people in day-to-day life who seem really interested in the response to their, “How are you?” question. The more normal interaction is with someone who is chopping at the bit to tell me about themselves ad to share their problems. When I do meet someone who is genuinely interested in understanding me it is almost immediately obvious that their opening question, was just that – the beginning of what they hope to be a dialogue that will answer their other questions, like who are you, what makes you tick, what interesting things can I learn about you and from you? I’ve written here before that Pastor Doug McMunn, Pastor of the Milford United Methodist Church, is one such person.

How can you tell when you’ve met such a person? Well for one, they will spend much more time listening than talking themselves. They will ask short open-ended questions andempathy then intently listen to your answers. They will express empathy or sympathy, while also offering support and encouragement. You will also notice that you start to feel better because you found someone with whom you can share things that may have been nagging at you or even overwhelming you. Figuratively (and perhaps literally), you have found a shoulder to cry upon. You’ll feel better and they will too, for having been there for you.

How can you pay it forward? Be there for someone else this week. Be that good listener. Mean it when you ask the question, “How are you?” Stop and offer a shoulder to cry upon; then offer the support and encouragement that they need to move on in life. Help that person understand that they are not alone in their pain or sorrow or fears. Help them extract those demons and deal with them.

Do you need a hugThere is a rather famous sports clip of the late Jimmy Valvano running around the court after NC State won the 1983 National Championship game (click here to view ). He would later say that he was just running around looking for someone to hug. Many of us are like that in life. We run around through life looking for someone to hug. Be there this week to get and give that hug.

Spend both wisely…

May 17, 2016

“Many people take no care of their money till they come to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time.”  (Goethe) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Concerns about both money and the time that is left in life tend to grow as I get older. I certainly don’t want to run out of either too early. For the young, life seems to stretch before them with no end in sight and money may be something that they think they can money and timealways get more of as they need it. For many (if not most) of the elderly, time becomes the most important thing, but concerns about money constantly loom, since most no longer have the ability to get more, if needed. Running out of money, however, doesn’t carry quite the drastic consequences as does running out of time. Both should be spent wisely.

One reads stories all the time about young lives cut short, many times due to poor decisions about drugs, alcohol or things like the use of cell phones while driving. I’m sure that all of those younger people thought that they had all of the time in the world ahead of them. None of them had time to stop and think about what they had done with their lives or how they might change things, if they had the chance. I have seen stories about near-death experiences that changed the lives of those who experienced them. Many emerge from such experiences with a resolve to make an effort to do something worthwhile with the remainder of their lives.

As we get older we tend to think about things like what our life’s purpose is more often and the resolve to change or do better gets stronger in most. Interestingly, the accumulation of more money begins to take a back seat to finding and acting on one’s life purpose as we age. Some have the wherewithal to use the money that they’ve managed to accumulate to further that purpose. I admire Bill Gates for having made that choice.

For most of us, the concerns about money and time will balance out and hopefully, if we take care of both, we will have just enough of both to live a good and productive life. It’s OK to pray for enough money to live on, especially if you also pray that God will help you do the right things with the bounty that He provides. As the Vulcan’s used to say on Star Trek – “Live long and prosper.”

Don’t be stressed; think blessed…

May 12, 2016

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought for the day – “Stop focusing on how stressed you are and remember how blessed you are.”  (Gratitude Habitat.com)  Gratitude Habitat is an online site where people can share blessings they’ve received and inspiration that has come to them.

mind at workOne could start by asking what it is that you might be stressing about. For most that might be something left undone at work or at home, some possession that you don’t have or can’t afford, some bills that you don’t know how you are going to pay, some person that you haven’t met yet, something new that you’ve never tried before, or maybe a decision that you have to make that you just aren’t sure about. All of those things have something in common – they are about the unknown (one might say for many about the unknowable). We all tend to stress when we get outside of our comfort zone and face the unknown.

Today’s inspirational little saying is trying to get us to stop worrying (stressing) about the unknown (and unknowable) ad focus instead focus upon on being happy with what we have, what we know. There is another little popular saying, “it is what it is”; which I’ve opined about here as being to passive for my tastes. I’ve suggested the alternative view of “it is what we make of it”. Taking that approach doesn’t mean that we spend time stressing about it; but, rather, that we proactively pursue whatever resolution is required sluggoto make it what we want it to be. The foundation of that approach to life it to first be happy with what you have, with where you are and with who you are – to remember and be thankful how blessed you already are.

Building upon that base you can then ask God for help with the things that you would still like to do or to provide for yourself or your family. There’s nothing wrong with having those kinds of goals in life and pursuing them, but they are not worth become points of stress in your life. If you start your daily prayers by giving thanks for the blessings that you already have and perhaps that will help put the things that you don’t have, but want, in better perspective and take some of the stress out of your pursuit of them.

So, spend some time counting your blessings each day, before you get to the tasks needed to achieve or get the things that you don’t have.

Put your team to work…

May 10, 2016

“While others prayed for the good time coming, I worked for it.”  (Victoria Woodhull) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write: Woodhull was the first woman to be nominated for President of the USA…and that was 144 years ago.  She was a leader in the movement to get voting rights for women.  Today’s her birthday.  Her quote is a religious truism.  Some people, in their prayers, expect God to do all of the work.  Some miracles are a partnership.    😉  Jack

elca-godswork_ourhandsThe ELCA church has an annual day of service called “God’s Work, Our Hands”, which is coming up soon. On that day congregations around across America find special ways to give back to the communities in which they are located, through service projects.

In our day-to-day lives we can occasionally become too passive about solving our own problems and start to sit back praying and waiting for God to fix everything. That’s not how it works. As I said in my last post, we should instead be praying for God to give us the strength and wisdom and ambition to get out and work at the solution ourselves. Pray for God to show you the way, rather than forhelping hands God to fix the problem for you. The path to resolution of all problems still involves our hands, even if they are doing the work that God has directed us to do.

So, don’t just sit there going “Woe is me. God do something.”  Get to the task of solving your problems, trusting that your efforts will be guided and helped by God. Remember the passage from the Romans 8:31, “If God is with us, who can be against us?” To paraphrase a popular tag line from a TV commercial, “Who’s on your team?” I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather have on my team and guiding my hands than God, when I set out to resolve a problem.

Put your team to work on your problems this week.

Say a little prayer today…

May 9, 2016

“The best prayers I know are ‘Help me, Help me, Help me’ and ‘Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.’”  (Anne Lamott) – from the Jack’s Wining Words blog.

world revolves around meMany times we may be saying “Thank You” for surviving things that we should have been praying “Help me” for in the first place. The free will that God gave mankind oft turns to a curse when it becomes an ego too big to ask for help. Sometimes it is our own insecuritiesrestless sleep that hold us back or make us afraid to even try to solve our own problems.

There is an old saying in education that there are no dumb questions, just those that go unasked. The same is true of prayers. A prayer unspoken or thought cannot be answered. It’s OK to say “A little help here”. None of us is so strong, so smart, so brave, so accomplished or so confident that we don’t occasionally need a little help getting through a crisis or overcoming an obstacle or maybe just dealing with a personal problem.

Some people turn to friends or family for help and advice, but many just hold things inside. At the end of the day it can seem that we are all alone with our problems. People of helping handsfaith know that they are never alone; that God is always there, willing to listen and to help, if only we ask. Most of the time the solution is already within us and what we should ask God for is help bringing it out – “Give me the strength to endure this, Give me the wisdom to make the right decision, or maybe give me the patience that I need to deal with this. Those things are all within us and God can bring them out. The thing holding them in is our own ego or insecurities and by way of prayer we lower those barriers and let God use what we have within us to resolve our problems.

One often hears, after the fact, people saying things like, “I didn’t know I had it in me to do that.” We all have “it” in us and faith and trust in God can bring those things out. Perhaps we should be praying; “Please God, let your power be shown through my actions.”

Try that prayer out this week and see what God can do through you. You may be needing the “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You prayer a little more often, too.

Does the music you hear make you want to dance?

May 4, 2016

Noel Coward wrote, “Blithe Spirit…that kind of person who is happy and carefree and dances to music no one else hears.” – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. That little saying by Coward wasn’t even the quote of the day, which was – “Work is more fun than fun.”  (Noel Coward)

Work can be fun, especially if you are dancing to the music inside. More generally, life can be fun, if you constantly hear the music that makes you want to dance. I knew a man once who used to say, “On the outside I may look calm and composed; but, inside there’s a listening toi music.pngparty goin’ on.” Obviously he was dancing to the music inside.

I suppose that the references to music and dancing are metaphors for your outlook on life and how you live your life; but I suspect that the person who hears what no one else hears is a person who has accepted the good news of Jesus in his life and that has freed his spirit to be happy and carefree. After all, once you have accepted Him in your life, what is there to worry about?

So, each morning, pause to have a little prayer or read a little from the Bible and strike up the band. You’ll be hearing the music all day long and dancing through your day.

Do you hear the music?