Putting another leaf in your table…

September 9, 2016

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog featured this quote – “If you are more fortunate than others, it’s better to build a longer table than a taller fence.”  (Unknown)

Jack went on to write – Battle Creek, MI was once known as the city with the longest breakfast table.  It stretched several city blocks with room enough for all who wanted to come…and the food was free.  In today’s world we talk more about fences than about long tables with room for all. 

It is unfortunate that we hear so much during this political silly season about building a taller fence (a wall, actually) to keep people out, rather than about finding ways to build introducing friendbigger tables to include more people. Today’s quote is about inclusiveness and sharing and not about just trying to protect what is ours and keep it away from others. It’s about inviting others to share the bounty that you enjoy that helps you in putting another leaf in your table..

It is not hard to find people in need. One doesn’t have to look to foreign countries; there are plenty of people in need, right here in America. One has to look no further than the local school systems to see that need. In our local school district over 50% of the children in many of the schools qualify for the free school meals programs. A national program called Blessings in a Backpack was created to send these children home on weekends with enough food in a backpack to feed them for the weekend. There is a local Blessings in a Backpack group that is trying to provide that service and food to the students in need within the Huron Valley School system. . Contributing to that program is like putting another leaf in your table.

helping handsThe message of caring and inclusiveness is not restricted to just sharing food; it is really about helping other whenever and wherever you can, with things other than food, such as clothing or furniture or counseling services or housing. There are many opportunities in every community in America to be a part of efforts to help others, whether they be church related groups or just volunteer community organizations to provide helps and services for the less fortunate. In our area we have a group called Community Sharing that provides a wide variety of support to those who may need a little help. It is a group; that you could join if you are interested in putting another leaf in your table.

Those opportunities to serve are great and very worthwhile; but there is another opportunity to share something other than bread. One’s faith also provides the elca-godswork_ourhandsopportunity to share, rather than to hide or safeguard the blessings that we enjoy because of our belief in Jesus Christ. Evangelism is often considered something untoward and to be avoided. We live in a secular world, where public displays of faith are to be avoided and speaking of one’s faith best left for Sunday’s. Yet silence about the Good News seems somehow to be contributing to the height of the walls around us rather than like putting another leaf in your table.

It would seem to me that one doesn’t have to drop to their knees and begin loudly praying in public to be displaying their faith. Doing the right things, helping others, displaying compassion and inclusiveness are all ways that we can display the faith that we share and being kind 1that we want to extend to others. Doing the little things to help each day when we interact with others and see needs in others is just as important as volunteering once in a while for one of the many charitable groups in our communities. Each of those little acts of kindness and compassion is putting another leaf in your table.

So, I ask you; how long is your table? Have you put the leaves into your table to be inclusive and caring and compassionate? Are you sharing the bounty that results from your belief in Jesus with others? What are the little thigs that you can do today that will result in you putting another leaf in your table?

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Haven Hill

September 8, 2016

An interesting blog post that documents a visit to the wonderful Haven Hill site in Highland and to the Milford Historical Museum. Like the author of this blog, my wife and I enjoy finding and visiting little, out-of-the-way museums during our vacation travels.

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Edsel Bryant Ford was born in Detroit in 1893, he was the only child of Henry and Clara Ford. From an early age he was passionate about art, with Henry Ford as his father he naturally went into the family business, Ford Motor Company. In 1916 he married Eleanor Lowthian Clay, they went on to have 4 children together, in 1919 he became the youngest president of Ford Motor Company, that same year Henry and Edsel became sole owners of Ford Motor Company, not bad for a 26 year-old man. In the early 1920’s Edsel began buying up land in Highland and White Lake Townships with the intention of building a self-sufficient retreat to escape city life; what he created was a 2,422 acre estate called Haven Hill. Today we’re in the Highland Recreation Area for the Haven Hill Festival.

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We park near the Gate House, built in 1927…

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Do you have SISU?

September 7, 2016

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog come the inspiration for today’s post –

“I have perceived that man with courage and will-power can overcome anything.” (Scharnhorst)

Jack went on to write – Determination?  Persistence?  Tenacity?  Guts?  The Finns have a word for it: SISU!  Sisu is even in the Bible.  “I can do all things…through Christ who strengthens me.”  Paul wrote this while facing difficult situations in his life.

I often advise my real estate clients that selling their house will take patience and patiencepersistence. They must get into the habit of keeping the house in a condition such that a showing could take place at any time. That means allotting some extra time in the mornings to make sure it is show ready before heading off to work. It helps if you can exercise that patience with a good attitude.
In life in general, those with SISU as part of their personal makeup most often succeed. They have the courage to try new things and the will-power to stick with it until they succeed. They have SISU.

sisuSometimes we need the extra little boost to our SISU in our daily lives that a little reflection in prayer can add. Perhaps you could find strength and resolve by just repeating that little phrase that Jack mentioned in his post – “I can do all things…through Christ who strengthens me.” For some the opening lines of the 23rd Psalm is a pick-me-up – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” For others the fear of the unknown or of failure is stripped away be this passage, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

The common theme that runs through all of the supportive scriptures that I might mention is that you are not in this alone, if you accept and believe in Jesus Christ. He is always with you and with Him in your corner you cannot fail. You may suffer setbacks from time to time, but your willpower, courage and tenacity (your SISU), strengthened with God’s help, will pull you through.

Video game players know that in many video games there are secret treasures to be found that have restorative powers. The character that you are playing may be beat up, injured or otherwise in bad shape due to setbacks in the game; however, if you find those hidden man prayingtreasures they can restore the character to full strength immediately, ready to go with the game. Life is a little like that; although the restorative treasures aren’t really hidden; they are most often just forgotten about. Those restorative treasures are the words of God as found in the Bible. A few have been mentioned here, but there are too many to list.

Here’s a link to one site that points you to several uplifting passages that might help make you day better. Find a few for yourself and see if they don’t restore your SISU.


What mask do you have on?

September 5, 2016

“He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.”  (George Orwell) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently.

To some extent we all wear masks, which are the “faces” that we show to the public. For mask3some those benign looking masks hide the ugly truths of hate or bigotry behind them; for some the masks are displays happiness or loud self-confidence that really hides the fears and insecurities of the wearers. What mask do you have on?

As Jack mentioned in his post, some of the characteristics of the face that we present to the public is the result of our upbringing. Motherly advice like “play nice and share with others” may have added a characteristic to our faces; or perhaps dad’s advice to keep a stiff upper lip and never cry in public has shaped our faces. Many men were taught to be stoic and women to be pleasant as they were growing mask4up, so those are the masks that they wear. Some times that pleasant demeanor hides the pain of an abusive relationship or a loveless marriage. What mask do you have on?
When Jack made the post to his blog about this quote he added –  A certain church urged its members to be the face of Christ to others.  How’s that for a mask?  Think about that for a moment. What would the mask on your face look like if it were a mask of the face of Christ? How would the compassion and concern and caring and love that Jesus showed the world, even from the cross look as a mask upon your face? Would things look different to you if you looked out through that mask? Would wearing that mask make you act any differently? Would you, indeed, grow to fit the mask? What mask do you have on?

Every morning when you get up you have a choice to make about the mask that you put on for the day. Women even have a saying that they are “putting on a face”, when they are mask2applying their makeup. My wife every now and then will say to our dog Skippy, “Help mommy put on a face”, to which (if I have overheard that) I will chime in with, “Choose a happy one.” You could certainly assure that you would have a happy face on if you choose each morning to put on the mask of Christ for the world to see – a caring, compassionate, loving, giving and helping face. What mask do you have on?

A really good public speaker that I listened to some time back pointed out that most of us mask1have no idea what our own faces look like when they are at rest – when you aren’t trying to smile or show any emotions at all. Our faces have a natural tendency to droop into a frown or to assume and unfriendly continence. The mask that comes over our faces is not inviting to others and we aren’t even aware of it. Perhaps if we did put on the mask of Christ in the morning, we would have enough to smile about all day long not to let our faces droop into that unfriendly mien. So, before you go out every morning this week, ask yourself – What mask do you have on?

When you put on a face in the morning, put on the mask of Christ and have a great and happy looking week ahead.


Are you moving on?

September 2, 2016

“Sometimes you don’t get closure, you just move on.”  (Unknown) – from a post on my favorite source, the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

The concept of wanting to get “closure” on things that happen in your life is, at its root, an admission that you can’t move on, you can’t get past that incident, that rejection or snubwondering or that disappointment that you’ve just suffered. In fact, wanting to get “closure” may just be your method of prolonging the suffering; which, in some people, may be what they base their life around. We sometime hear of people described as “long suffering”; which means that they can’t get (or perhaps won’t accept) “closure” on some incident in their life. Just move on…

I would submit that almost all of the time people don’t get “closure” they just move on. I looked up “closure” and the best definition that I found that fits here is this one – Closure or need for closure are psychological terms that describe an individual’s desire for a firm answer to a question and an aversion toward ambiguity. The term “need” denotes a motivated tendency to seek out information. Just move on…

It’s that need (some might say obsession) for firm answers to why things happen in life that drives some people bonkers. They just can’t accept that some things that happenbored don’t have a firm or even logical reason or answer. Why did you get turned down for that date or that promotion? There is no closure to be had.  Why were you the one that got robbed or got hit in the accident. There is no closure there. Why were you the only one in your family to get breast cancer? There are no answers.  Just move on…

Life is much too complex and full of ambiguities to be reduced to firm answers for everything that happens to a person. Expending a whole lot of energy or time seeking answers to the why of the occurrences in life seems to be a big waste of that time and energy. Better, I think, to expend that time ad energy working on the “So what” of life – the ways in which you will react and go forward, based upon those occurrences. Just move on…

There is an old saying that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I would submit that perhaps meit also makes you smarter (if you learn from it) and maybe more interesting (if you assimilate it into your knowledge base). But, in order to gain those benefits you have to get past the incident or experience and assimilate it, rather than fixating upon it.   Just move on…
So, rather than seeking closure, seek acceptance, seek forgiveness (if that is required), seek the learning that is there and store away the knowledge that is to be gained. Learn to feel good about your ability to get on with life rather than being bothered by an ambiguity that you may never be able to understand. Sometimes “only God knows why” is the best answer and the only answer. Just move on…