The 3 “P’s” of prayer…

July 25, 2016

As a Realtor, I’ve written more than once about the 3-P’s that a seller must keep in mind when listing their house – Price, Persistence and Patience. I help with setting the price, but the last two are really up to them. They must be persistent in getting the house ready to show before they leave for work each day and they must be patient with the process, especially if their home is in the price bands above $300,000 that are particularly slow right now.

Recently the pastor at my church preached on the topic of the 3-P’s of prayer, which he named as Pattern, Persistence and Payoff.

I assumed at the beginning of the sermon that the Pattern part of the 3-P’s was about getting into a routine (a pattern) of praying; however, the pastor explained that Pattern is about the structure of the prayer and pointed to the lesson that Jesus taught the Disciples when they WWJDasked him how they should pray. He gave them a pattern that we now call the Lord’s Prayer.  In Matthew 6:9–13 (ESV), Jesus said “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'”

Jesus established a Pattern with that prayer that is useful for all prayers. The first part acknowledges who you are praying too and pays God the homage that He is due. It also acknowledges that it is His will that will be done and not your own. It also reminds us of our responsibility to forgive others and clear our hearts of hate or prejudices or grudges. Then you can make your request. That simple pattern accomplishes everything that you need when praying.

The second part of the pastor’s message was Persistence – the fact is that you must pray more than once and pray as often as you can for the things that you need and want God topraying hands help you with. Too often in our modern,  “instant gratification” world we have expectations of immediate action from God to grant our prayers. God doesn’t work like that. The pastor didn’t make this point, but I started to think that perhaps it takes longer than we might wish because we have yet to uphold our end of the bargain that is stated in the Lord’s Prayer – we have not forgiven our debtors ( or those who trespass (or sin) against us in different versions of the prayer). Perhaps God is waiting for us to get our act together a bit better before he grants our prayer. Have we forgiven those who trespassed against us in some way? If we do not have forgiveness in our hearts, perhaps we should pray for that first.

That last part was a part of the message that the pastor delivered about the last “P” in the 3-P’s of prayer – the Payoff. Now this part of the message wasn’t about praying to win the lottery and having God dump the winning ticket in your hands. That’s not how it works and, in fact, God may be answering your prayers in ways that you just don’t understand. hand reaching for heavenPerhaps you are praying for God to somehow help you get something in particular because you think that will make you happy – maybe it’s a job, money, or a new possession of some sort or perhaps a date with a specific person. Maybe instead God is answering your prayer to be more happy by showing you ways to be happy with what you have and who you are. Is God answering your prayers? In His own way; yes, He is. You just don’t yet understand. If we believe that God acts in our best interests, then we must also accept his answer to our prayers, even if we don’t understand the answers.

There have been many little things in my life that I have said a little prayer for and then may have forgotten about; yet when I look back at how things turned out, I have to thank God for the answers that he worked out for me. Oft times his answer was not to give meman praying what I had asked for and I look back later and I realize that not getting that thing worked out better for me. God took me in a different direction and I have to thank Him for that. The “His will be done” part worked out better for me. Often, the hard part is letting go of the idea that I can solve problems by myself and letting Him work his will in my life.

I liked what the pastor had to say in his sermon; however,  I might combine his 3-P’s with mine from real estate and say that a good guide for life might be these three P’s – Prayer, Persistence and Patience. If you can live by those three P’s you’ll achieve the forth P – the payoff – a peace that passes all understanding.

Have a great week ahead and say a little prayer before you start each day. Remember the 3-P’s of prayer – Pattern, Persistence and Payoff.

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Be a winner today…

July 16, 2016

“There are victories of the soul and spirit.  Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.”  (Elie Wiesel)

The quote above from Elie Wiesel was used on the Jack’s Winning Ways blog recently. Jack went on to relate a story that you may have seen in the news – I recently read of a female softball player who was about to score the winning run in a championship game when she turned her ankle, fell to the ground, and couldn’t get up.  The 3rd baseman and the shortstop on the opposing team picked her up and carried her to home plate for the score.  That’s an example of winning by losing.

winner-loserAs a society we have become too fixated on score keeping, on winning and losing, on a zero sum game philosophy of life that somehow relates winning for one person meaning that someone else must lose. One of our presidential candidates seems to take great pleasure in characterizing people with whom he disagrees on various topics as “losers”.

To my way of thinking, if you can create a win-win situation, instead of a win-lose situation; then everyone can be happy because everyone feels like a winner. Life doesn’t always work out that way and sometimes you end up losing, whether it is in a sports event or maybe at work or in your personal life. In those times it is often hard to see a win for yourself.

Perhaps the win is in how you handle that adversity. It is a win of the soul. Nelson MandelaNelson Mandela endured years and years of what most would see as a loss, suffering in prison for his anti-apartheid activities. Yet Mandela did not let his imprisonment conquer is will and his soul. At the end of each day of imprisonment Mandela could claim another day of winning – a victory of his soul and spirit over those who sought to break him.

In our day-to-day lives, there are many opportunities to win, perhaps by sacrificing of your time or money in service to others. Is it a win if you give up doing something that you caregivermight have wanted to do in order to help someone who perhaps struggles to do anything at all? I think so. Is it a win to spend time with a shut-in who otherwise might just sit and stare out the window at traffic going by? I think so. Is it a win to take the money that you otherwise might have spent on another pair of shoes or another outfit and donate it instead to help those without any shoes and standing naked or in tatters? I think so. What do you really lose in those situations, when compared to how much you gain (win) in your soul?helper

Perhaps as you start each day, instead of praying “Lord, let me win today” you should focus your prayer instead on, “Lord let me find a win in service to You and others today.”  If you can achieve that you are a winner and the rest will take care of itself. Be a winner today!


The journey towards perfection…

July 11, 2016

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”  (John Steinbeck in East of Eden) as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog today. Jack went on to write The Ten Commandments and The Sermon on the Mount seem to set impossible goals for us.  When Jesus says, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” how is that possible?  Is Steinbeck suggesting something less?  I don’t think so.” 

Neither Jack nor Steinbeck are suggesting that you accept as a fact of life that you are imperfect and always will be, but rather that you keep that vision of perfection in mind as a goal and a commitment in your life. Not being perfect at the moment doesn’t mean that Perfectionwe give up the pursuit of perfection (sort of like Mercedes with their cars).

There is a quality concept in manufacturing called “continuous improvement” in which a process of continuously analyzing things that go wrong, cost time or cause waste to see if they can be improved upon. Life is like that, too. We should always strive to learn from our mistakes, to make continuous improvements in our lives and our interactions with others. We may never achieve perfection, but we should never stop striving for it.

There is an old joke that the best way not to disappoint yourself or others is to set low expectations to begin with. So if you think of yourself as a bum, as unworthy or as a bad person, that self-image becomes self-fulfilling most of the time. On the other hand, if you acknowledge that you are not perfect, but keep as your goal to move towards perfection, you can have rewarding thought of the progress that you are making with each tiny step in that journey.  You can be good and know that you rare getting better.

So, don’t get down on yourself is you make a mistake or don’t get that promotion at work bored2that you were striving for or get turned down that date that you finally worked up the courage to ask for or perhaps suffered through yet another snub or social rejection. You’re not perfect. Life isn’t perfect. Accept the temporary setback, analyze what you did or didn’t do correctly to achieve that goal and try to learn from it. More important yet, think about how this incident in your life has helped you grow as a person.

Maybe you can now see and realize that some of your goals were not really as important as you once thought they were. Perhaps some of the things (or people) that you were pursuing have turned out to be superficial and things (or people) that you really can do without. The “OMG, I’ll just die if I don’t get it” has turned into “OMG, why did I think that was important?” Maybe it’s the “G” in OMG that is helping you see things more striving for perfectionclearly and putting life into better perspective.

Don’t beat yourself up about not being perfect n God’s eyes; rather keep asking in prayer, “Please God, help me to be a better person every day.”  God has the patience to wait for you on your journey towards that perfection for which he called upon you to strive.  Don’t give up on the journey and God will not give up on you. You don’t have to be perfect, but you must keep trying. I’ll see you along the way.


Be somebody today…

July 10, 2016

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”  (Brad Montague), as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently.

Everybody likes to feel like somebody, to feel important or to feel pretty or to feel that they are loved. Not everybody gets much positive reinforcement for those feelings; so, when you get the chance to give someone a compliment or words of encouragement, do it…be somebody today.

There are all too many people who relish the opportunity to put others down, to youre greatburst their balloon or to make a cruel or cutting remark. It may even be easier to be critical of that person or something that they just did than it is to find something to praise; however, those words of praise, if you can find them, can make a world of positive difference in that
person’s life. Sometimes it is that word of encouragement or approval that keeps the other person going, instead of them giving up and falling into despair. What harm does it do you to say, “Keep it up you’re getting better every time”, than to blurt out, “that really sucks”? Go for the compliment…be somebody today.

Making others feel like somebody often just means paying some attention to them, instead of ignoring them or turning away from them because they may be different. That difference could be their age or their skin color or the fact that they have a disability of introducing friendsome sort. That difference doesn’t make them a nobody to be ignored or scuffled aside.  Maybe they don’t talk like everyone else in your group or perhaps they don’t dress the same or act the same. Perhaps their very differences are what should be interesting you. Maybe you can learn something from them; if nothing else you can perhaps see their different point of view and take that into consideration. You’ll never know until you make the effort. Be somebody today.

Maybe by making that effort to make them feel like somebody they’ll return the favor and make you feel like somebody, too. At the very least you’ll know that you are somebody…being kind 1you’re the person who went out of their way to reach out and make others feel good about themselves. And, do you know what? it will make you feel great to because you chose to be somebody today.

Have a great day and be somebody who makes others feel like somebody today.


What’s happening in your house?

July 8, 2016

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this – “The weird thing about houses is that they almost always look like nothing is happening inside of happy homethem.”  (John Green) That’s certainly true in today’s air conditioned houses where people come and go through their garage and are never seen on the front porch or out in the yard. I’ve even had clients who had to get new front door locks because they never use that door and had no idea where the keys were any more.

Jack went on to include another little quote from a welcomehappy family mat that he saw somewhere that reads:  “As far as anyone knows, we’re a nice happy family.”

Sadly, all too often neither of those statements is true. As a Realtor®, I get involved with many people when the things happening inside those homes turn out not to be so happy. I deal with a lot of divorce settlement sales of the family home. Quite often I get to hear the stories from both sides of what they think had been happening in the home. It is seldom a pretty picture and the stories never match up. The atmosphere in those homes is usually a confused mix of anger, disappointment, guilt, remorse, relief and hope.

In most cases the outside world had little idea what was happening in those homes. It is perhaps the deception being carried on for the benefit of the world that contributes to the eventual breakup of the marriage and the family. Rather than face the issues that are causing friction, many couples try to contain it and hide it, many times with the rationale angry couplethat the deception was “for the kids.” Most of the time, the kids (especially the older children) can sense that something wasn’t right between mommy and daddy.

An open and honest dialogue with your significant other is the foundation of a lasting relationship. Things won’t always be wine and roses. Sometimes life throws you vinegar and thorns instead. It is your reaction to those hard times, as a couple, that will determine whether you weather them together or let them drive you apart. The old saying about what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger certainly applies to marriages, too.

Unfortunately human nature is such that many men will normally try to hold things in, to “deal with it”, to “be a man” about it. They think they are protecting their family when bored2they hold it in; however that eventually leads them to becoming moody or angry or fearful and feeling lonely. They don’t seek outside help and they turn away from the very support structure that is right there under roof with them. As they withdraw the relationship often turns sour due to confusion or a sense of loss of interest on the part of their significant other and eventually that isolation leads to a breakup of the marriage. Sadly I saw that a lot in the recent Great Recession as men reacted badly to job losses or even to the loss of their spouse’s job.

I’ve written before that women seem better equipped emotionally to deal with adversities, plus they are more likely to seek support or comfort from another woman who might be their friend. They are also more likely to have friends like that to whom they can turn than men are.

manipulationThe other thing that I have seen more of than I can understand are couples who have finally called an abusive or manipulative relationship quits. While that is normally an action taken by the women involved, I have seen the opposite when a weak man finally has had enough from an overly strong and domineering wife. I have also seen it in the GLBT community. I’ve never really understood why someone would commit to be in an abusive relationship to begin with; however, people that I’ve talked to about that said that it didn’t start that way or that the abusive partner changed after they entered the relationship.

Another deception that I’ve seen, that can lead to the breakup of families, involves either alcohol or drug abuse. Whether it involves the adults in the house or the children, the alcohol abusefamilies often go to great lengths to keep the deception of a normal home alive for the external world. In some cases the family may seek help for the substance abuser, but in other cases the old saw “We don’t talk about that” seems to hold sway. All too often the substance abuser eventually turns into just an abuser, due to the huge mood swings and stresses that accompany the habit. Eventually these unions also break up and I’m called in to sell the family home.

Finally, there is perhaps a missing guest in your home, someone who could help you with any and all of these problems. If God is missing from your home and your life, you may feel man prayinglike you have nowhere to turn for help and answers. Sometimes as we progress through life we may wander away from God and become like lost sheep. Fortunately the Good Shepard is always looking for us and trying to bring us back to God. We just have to ask. There is an interesting Web site – www.everystudent.com – that gives a road map for bringing Jesus and God into (or back into) your life and your home. The web site was created for students who are in that questioning or non-belief stage of life, but it provides good advice that can help everyone. Visit it and see if it helps you.

So, what’s happening in your house? If I’ve hit a nerve with any of the scenarios that I described above, hopefully that will help you snap out of whatever state of denial you’ve been in and recognize that you and your significant other may need to seek help. At a happy houseminimum you need to be able to have open and honest discussions about the things that aren’t going as you would like and how you both are reacting to those things. I really don’t want to meet you and be asked to sell your house because of your divorce. I much rather that you call me because your moving to accommodate a new beginning in a new job or getting ready to expand your family. Maybe you can get back to being that happy family that was mentioned on the welcome mat that everyone thought you were all along.

Have a great weekend. Invite God into your house.


Awaken the giant within – find your PASSION…

July 7, 2016

That catchy little phrase  “Awaken the Giant Within” is also the title of one of Tony Robbins’ books.  Robbins is a well know motivational speaker and financial adviser. I use it here to allude to finding and awakening a passion for something within yourself.

Now a passion is not just something that you enjoy doing. A passion, once discovered, will be something that you find you MUST do; something that you cannot stop doing; Passionsomething that drives you to take actions. Finding something that you are passionate about is not an everyday thing. For many it is, in fact, a rare thing. It’s not that there are not things that they enjoy doing, we all have those things; it’s just that that are not driven to do them. I enjoy an occasional round of golf, but I am nor passionate about golf.  There are many things like that in my life and I’m sure in yours that we could say we enjoy but have no particular passion about. Passion might be thought of as enthusiasm taken to the next level.

Your passion might be about a cause or a group or a movement or maybe your religion. Perhaps your passion is service to others. Perhaps it is about something like finding a cure for a disease or finding a way to save the lives of young people through education and intervention in issues like drinking and driving or maybe doing drugs. You will know that lack of passionyou have a passion about something when you realize that it is the most important thing in your life, at least for the moment. It’s hard to sustain and intense level of passion for an extended period; however, a true passion will never subside enough to be forgotten.

From the point of view of others, the passionate person can sometimes be mistaken for being obsessed. Perhaps sometimes unbridled passion can turn into obsession; but it is more likely that the person with passion for a cause would be called dedicated, persistent or perhaps motivated, rather than obsessed.

In my little Village of Milford, Michigan, we have some people who have become save the station rallypassionate about saving our original old train station; the one that was built when the railroad finally came through Milford in the mid 1800’s. It was buried for years beneath layers of modern siding and added on sections of what was a lumber yard. It was due to be torn down as part of a redevelopment project; however, one man with passion for saving it started a movement that has gained momentum and now has a chance of pulling off a plan to uncover it and move it rather than tear it down. Many Village and area residents have joined him to raise money, take the case to the Village government and continue the effort to “save the station.”  All it took was passion.

So how do you find something to be passionate about? Most of the time those things find you. You stumble across a cause or a group that resonates with you, with your values and the things that are otherwise important to you. Maybe it’s a news story on the nightly news or in your local newspaper. It may be about a group that fighting for or against something; but, whatever it is, it stirs something in you that says, “I want to fight for or against that, too.” That’s the first tiny sign of a possible passion. If you go with that feeling you will find yourself becoming increasingly involved with the group or movement and soon it will be you marching in the nightly news coverage. Whatever it was awoke the giant of passion within you.

One reason that we may have so few passions in life is that we are taught at a very young lazyage that moderation is the better path. Moderation is less likely to evoke negative reactions from others. We are taught to stifle ourselves (remember that line from the Archie Bunker TV show when he told his wife Edith to “stifle yourself, Edith”?) We are encouraged to sit back quietly and let others make displays of passion in demonstrations or other actions. We are trained to be apathetic and apathy is the antithesis of Passion.

Perhaps it is time to awaken the giant within yourself and let passion rule your life, in at least one little aspect.  What do you have a passion for? Why not let that passion out? Why are you holding back? Maybe you are afraid that you’ll be alone in your passion.  That seldom happens; but if it did, I suspect that you’d still find a level of satisfaction at having tried something or championed something or fought against something that you do not get out of day to day life. Having passion feels good.

So this week, try to find your passion in some cause or movement or service to others andprotesters then find an outlet for that passion. It may not be in a big demonstration or a march; it may not be in being able to solve the problem all at once; maybe it’s in something small, like helping to clean up a park or roadside or maybe just writing a letter to an official to express your passion and opinion. Whatever you do; make it just the start and watch your passion grow as you take those first little steps. A true passion will flare up like a flame when you are taking actions and then settle down to a constantly glowing ember in your soul in your day to day life.

Awaken your giant within – find your passion.


Reflecting on prior lives…

July 5, 2016

 

“It’s no use to go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”  (From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I often use the phrase, “In a prior life, I was…” to relate things from my past, usually about the different jobs that I had in different industries. I seldom dwell on the past and have no regrets about things changing; that’s just how life is. I might reflect on some past job ( a past life) as a boredmeans to recollect some of the co-workers and friends that I had while in that job. Most job-related friends tended to fall away, once I was no longer in those jobs; although I’ve still got one friend from a job-related relationship with whom I still play golf and socialize with.

Some people seem to think that if they try hard enough to keep those relationships alive they can recapture the moments from that past that they so fondly remember. I get newsletters and event invites several time a year from one such group from a prior life. This is a group of ex-Army guys trying to keep alive and relive our shared experiences in Viet Nam in the late 1960’s. I have only vague recollections of those experiences and little desire to relive them.

Another group that I get frequent emails from is constituted of “alumni” from a failed technology company that I used to work for. The group holds “reunions” a couple of times a year and keeps everyone updated on the latest goings on in each other’s lives via Facebook posts. I used to attend the reunions, but haven’t been to one in years, now. They tended to be events in which the only topic of discussion was the “good ole days” and people seeking new jobs. It became obvious that talking-2there was little that we had in common once the job that we all related to had vanished. As I reflect on the time when I was there it is now apparent to me that the only topic of conversation that we had at the various social gatherings that we had was job related. How boring of a time that must have been for our spouses.

So, the little quote from Alice in Wonderland makes perfect sense. I was a different person then; and I am a different person now. Today I tend to discuss real estate in social gatherings, rather than computers. The nature of a real estate career does not promote the close social ties that other, in-the-office type jobs might. I work from my home, so I don’t have a lot of social interaction with my real estate co-workers. We have social events during the year and the talk there tends to revolve around real estate deals – how boring that must be for our spouses.

smiling manSo, perhaps it’s OK to reflect on our prior lives once in a while, but none of us can go back and relive whatever fond memories that we might have. We were different people then. Maybe we can learn a few things from that reflection that might help us in our current lives; but we are different people now and must live in the present and perhaps still dream of the future.

Have a great today and let yesterday go!