Put on a special face…

February 13, 2017

In today’s edition of the Jack’s Winning Words blog there is this little quote – “Without wearing any mask that we’re conscious of, we have a special face for each friend.”  (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

Jack went on to write – I’ve read, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still likes you.”  Come to think about it, God is like that!

We tend to use the word friend a bit loosely these days; maybe it’s because of Facebookgirls hugging and the requests that we make for someone to “Friend me”. I don’t think we really put on a special face for each of the people on our “friends” list on Facebook. Those special faces are reserved for people with whom we have a real friendship, such as that described by Aristotle – “Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.” 

Today we might classify those people as or BFF’s. Do you have friends like Aristotle described; those with whom you share such a bond that it’s like your two bodies share one soul?

We sometimes use the term soul-mate to describe those with whom we share our lives and; indeed, for most those are their best friends as well as beingpraying-together a spouse or partner in life. Marriages (partnerships) that last a lifetime have that longevity because of that ability to share your soul.

There was a term coined for the phenomenon that Oliver Wendell Homes was describing – his/her face lit up when he/she saw her friend. It’s that joy of the shared soul of the friendship that shines through in that moment and becomes the special face that we have for each true friend. For most of us that manifests itself as a smile. It’s an uncontrived and spontaneous display on our faces of the love that we have for that friend.

gods-hands-2In church services there is an oft-used line from Number 6:24-26,  “may God’s face shine upon you.” Perhaps that is what Jack meant when he wrote “God is like that”. When God is your friend, He shares his soul in our bodies and it shines through on our faces. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, nothing will.

So, put on a special face. God is sharing his soul in your body and that is somethingsmiling-sun to
smile about. How can you not have a great day? Let’s God’s soul that dwells within you shine through on your face.

The struggle to be you…

February 11, 2017

In a recent post to his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – Jack Freed shared this quote – “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.”  (Rudyard Kipling)

We all struggle to some extent with the need to be an individual while living within the “tribal” space defined by our society. One could look to the TV show Alone to see the consequences of really living outside of the support system that the tribe (society) provides us all. Even in that TV reality series the contestants were allowed to take with them some of the things that are only available to us all because of the societies in which we live. Still, the conclusion that all of the contestants eventually come to is that they’d much rather be back with the tribe.

For most of us the struggle to retain an individual identity within our societal structure does not involve being isolated in some far flung corner of the world. For the most part, our decisions about what we should or will do involve the decisions that we make about obeying or ignoring the rules of that the society has put in place, which we call laws. Most of the time obeying the laws is a no-brainer, since many of them were put into place to defaced-traffic-signprotect us from some common danger or to provide some common good for all. Sometimes obeying a specific law may seem to be a personal inconvenience, given whatever circumstances brought you to the point of having to make a decision about obeying them or ignoring them.  Stop signs, no turn on red signs and don’t walk until you are told you can walk instructions are examples of widely ignored rules (laws) that people make conscious decisions to ignore from time to time.

Religion is another area in which we make conscious decisions about what to accept and what to ignore or at least not honor in our everyday lives. The “tribe”, in the case of religion, is the church or denomination of the church. Each separate denomination has created its own set of rules and interpretations of the beliefs upon which religion is built. Perhaps the church was way ahead of the current administration in Washington in its use of the concept of “alternative facts”. Even the Bible, upon which all of the Christian christian-denominationsdenominations base their beliefs, has been subject to repeated changes and interpretations by various tribes within the Christian religion. There is a common core of beliefs that runs throughout Christianity; but, upon that core various tribal split-offs have imposed their own set of rules and interpretations. There is Yiddish proverb that I saw on Jack’s blog that probably applies to that – “God created a world full of many little worlds.” Maybe that proverb was created to describe the fragmented little tribes that Christianity has evolved into.

I think the little saying that we started with today was referencing the need to maintain some level of individual thinking and decision making to avoid being swept away by society (the tribe) into something that we may not want or with which we may not agree. When we are young children, we tend to “learn” how to fit in and do what is right by watching others and imitating them. We certainly get lots of advice from parents about what is right or wrong and whether how we are acting is good or bad.

At some point in our growing up phase (sometime pre-teen but almost always in the teen Gothyears) almost everyone hits that point where they start to rebel against some things that they are being told to do or about being told how to act. For some that rebellion may manifest itself in their appearance and for some in their choice of friends or behavior when in tribal (societal) settings. For some the rebellion never really takes hold and the mantra of “go along to get along” becomes their way of life. For all of us, the need to continually make personal decisions on the choices that life presents means that we are forever evolving as individuals.

The struggle to find your own identity is always going to be a balancing act between the things that you accept from the rules of the tribe (Society) and the things that seem important enough to you to cause you to go against the rules or mores of the tribe, or at least a part of the tribe. That’s where the Yiddish proverb comes in handy. It turns out that we don’t live “alone”; we live in lots of little worlds or tribes and we may even be able to be members of several of those tribes (worlds). In today’s worlds there is an attempt to define membership in simplistic terms such as “us and them.” Members of each little disagreement2world try to compartmentalize one as for or against something and allow little to no room for a middle ground. The decisions about which worlds to live in are what we struggle with to define ourselves as individuals. Those same decisions contribute greatly to what we call character in people.

Perhaps, as you struggle with defining what being you means, the most helpful thing to keep in mind is that being you and having your own opinions about things is not necessarily a matter of right and wrong. It is a matter of making personal choices for yourself. Others may, and will, make different choices and you need to accept that this is OK, too. If you look for them at all, you will see that, even people with diametrically opposed views from yours on some things, at the same time share many of the choices that you made when you accepted membership in the larger tribe (society) that you both live in. We have a term for accepting the differences that may exist without rancor – civility. If you extend civility to others, you will likely receive it in return; and, you will find that you can still be an individual within the context of the tribe.

Being a member of the tribe (society) need not overwhelm you, but it does provide some useful boundaries and guideline about what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior, if one wishes to remain a member of the tribe and not to be alone. Young people in their explainingrebellious phase often experience hard bumps into those boundaries and learn lessons about life “the hard way.” We all will continue to bump into laws, rules, ordinances, restrictions and other barriers to doing whatever we want to do as we age. If we are civil about those encounters we will likely be able to find a way to be happy as individuals and stay within the tribe.

Have a great journey on the trip to discover who you are. Maybe I’ll see you along the way. Stop in and visit my little world.

America held hostage day 21…

February 10, 2017

Maybe #POTUS needs to do this…

From a recent post to the  Jack’s Winning Words blog –

“Before you speak, T-H-I-N-K!”  (Mentors Channel)

Here’s an acrostic worth saving.

T – Is it True?

H – Is it Helpful?

I – Is it Inspiring?

N – Is it Necessary?

K – Is it Kind?

Maybe #POTUS, #Tweeter-in-Chief, needs to run down through that list before he speaks or tweets or signs random and hateful Executive Orders. So far little of what he has done or tried to do would have passed all or any of those criteria.

It appears that the Federal Courts will be as busy as the news fact checkers for the next few years; both sorting through the “alternative facts” that seem to be driving the decisions in the White House these days. Perhaps the White House Press Secretary will announce that there is an “Alternative Reality” in which our #POTUS is the star and from which he will be issuing decrees and taking revenge against those who disagree.

Meanwhile the bulk of the Republicans in Congress who failed to show any backbone at all when confronted with obviously unqualified nominees for important roles in this Alternative Reality government have earned the hash tag #Toadies. It was heartening to see that at least two Republican Senators had enough courage in their convictions about #WatchOutForBears to vote against her nomination to head up the Education Department.  It’s sad that not a single male Republican Senator had the same courage, earning them the hash tag #NoRocks.

We are indeed lucky to have “so-called” judges in place who can evaluate and take actions to stop the madness when it goes too far. It might be amusing to watch from the sidelines were it not so potentially dangerous and injurious to the country. Perhaps we have already seen the answer to a question that won’t be asked for almost 4 years. Maybe the solution to what to do about #Tweeter-in-Chief has already earned her own label #ShePersisted. I’m sure that she will also continue to earn the tag – #SheResisted.

In the meantime, we all have the ability and the duty to aid the courts in the fight to hold on to the values that made this great country what it is. The upcoming “off-year” elections for Congressional seats can turn the tide and provide a bulwark against the rampages of #POTUS and his minions. The time to start is now to get rid of as many #Toadies as possible in that election cycle and take back control of at least one arm of Congress. Get in the game and support an opposition candidate. Get a T-shirt that says #RestoreSanity and start campaigning for that change. When your candidate wins you can wear the T-shirt that says #WeThe PeoplePersisted.

Share in the dream – help build an Angel House

February 8, 2017

If you could save a child from a life of sex slavery or forced childhood marriage would you? How about if you could help save 50 children from that fate?

There are places in the world (too many places) where poverty and ignorance lead people into human trafficking, mainly of young girls, but also with young boys. One of the most dangerous places on earth to be a child is India, where abject poverty leads too many people to sell their children into slavery or into arranged childhood marriages that doom them to a miserable existence and rob them not only of their childhood but of any dreams that they may have had for their lives.

Two local people, John and Lisa Schiller have had a dream for many years to do more about john-and-lisait than just feel sorry for them. They have a long background in providing foster care of children in need of the love and discipline of a stable family environment. Now they are in the process of realizing a long-held dream to do more. They are behind a project to build an orphanage in India as part of the Angel House program there, which provides safe refuge for hundreds of children across India.

angel-house-logoThe Angel Hose that John and Lisa are building will begin construction in June of this year and is scheduled to open in the first week of December. Once it is built and open the on-going maintenance and operational costs will be picked up by a local church in India. John and Lisa plan on traveling to India in December of 2017 for the opening of their Angel House and to meet the 50 children who will live there.

Building the orphanage is a big undertaking financially and John and Lisa can uswoman-prayinge your prayers and financial help. You can see more about the Angel House Program please visit their web site at http://angelhouse.me/. To learn how to support John and Lisa’s project to build their orphanage at www.missions.me/angelhouseofhope. If you can help financially,
please contribute at that web site; if not, at least add them and their project to your prayers. I’m sure that John and Lisa will bring back pictures from India of the children that are being saved and given a chance and the opportunity for a less dangerous life.

Don’t end up as a flat squirrel…

February 1, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come these words of wisdom – “Right or wrong, make a decision.  The road of life is paved with flat squirrels.”  (Anon)

The Anon family has provided some of life’s best quotes and written material (see my post on Anon). Today’s quote is undoubtedly from a modern decedent of the Anon family, since the phenomenon of flat squirrels on the road didn’t occur until the invention of the automobile. We have probably all encountered the occasional squirrel who runs out in front of our car, stopped and then can’t decide whether to go on or go back. That moment of indecision unfortunately seals its fate all too often and a flat squirrel results.

squirrelSome people have the ability to make snap decisions in any situation, while others (and I count myself in this number) seem to hesitate while they try to gather more information upon which to base a decision. Many times an opportunity will pass us by while we are pondering the alternatives. To an extent, we have become flat squirrels, because we couldn’t decide whether to go on or run back to safety.

The need for more and more information before making a decision is really based upon the inability to deal with the uncertainty that is usually found in any decision; but you must develop an ability to accept that uncertainly.   Andy Stanley put it this way – “There will be very few occasions when you are absolutely certain about anything. You will consistently be called upon to make decisions with limited information. That being the case, your goal should not be to eliminate uncertainty. Instead, you must develop the art of being clear in the face of uncertainty.” Failing to act or acting without clarity of
purpose will result in you becoming a flat squirrel.

Arianna Huffington offers this helpful advice – “We need to accept that we won’t always failure2make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” For many the fear of failure is stronger than the perceived rewards of success, so doing nothing seems to offer the safer path. The view of the flat squirrel is that of a flat earth, with no ups or downs but also with no dimension. We may not always be right, but we don’t always have to become the flat squirrel.

Perhaps Wayne Dyer’s advice on choosing first what your attitude in life will be is most import. Dyer said –  “One of the most important decisions you’ll ever make is choosing the kind of universe you exist in: is it helpful and supportive or hostile and unsupportive? Your answer to this question will make all the difference in terms of how you live your life and what kind of Divine assistance you attract.” Choosing to live in an worriesoptimistic and supportive world can help prevent us from become flat squirrels.

Living in a helpful and supportive environment doesn’t mean delegating your decision to others, but rather, when needed, seeking their advice and support for the decisions that you have to make. Many insecure people seek to base their decisions only on the advice from others. Thomas Sowell saw the danger in that when he said – “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” Imagine if you will a bird sitting in a tree beside the road telling the squirrel, “Go that way. No, wait!  Go the other way.” If the squirrel listens to the bird, he ends up flat on the road of life. And what about the bird? Well he say’s “that stupid squirrel made the wrong decision” and then flies away. The bird paid no price for heeding the advice he was giving.

It is almost as bad to base your decisions too heavily upon how you think others wilsorry 3l react – Heath Ledger said – “If you make decisions based upon people’s reactions or judgments then you make really boring choices.” How many times have you looked back on bad decisions in your personal life and realized that you were just “going along to get along” or maybe you’ve said to someone else (or at least thought), “Gee,
I thought that’s what you wanted.” Those are the words of regret from a flat squirrel who couldn’t make a decision on his own.

In the end, one may ask for and receive advice and knowledge from others, but the decision making is always a very personal and lonely process. That’s not necessarily bad.  Thornton Wilder pointed out – “The more decisions that you are forced to make alone, the more you are aware of your freedom to choose.” The insight that you have that freedom; that your decisions need not be based upon what others tell you to do or what others may think of your decisions, eventually leads you to the next great decisionsinsight –  “Our life is the sum total of all the decisions we make every day, and those decisions are determined by our priorities.” –  Myles Munroe. If you can get your priorities straight and base your decisions upon those priorities; you will go a long way towards avoiding becoming a flat squirrel in life.

Nike has used the same catch phrase for years – “Just do it.” Perhaps in the end that is the simplest and most straightforward way to look at the decisions that you have to make in life. If your life is properwoman-prayingly centered and based upon the priorities established by a strong faith, the decisions that you have to make will come more easily and are more likely to have good outcomes. Steven Covey was quoted as
saying about business – “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” That is good advice in life if you keep your faith as the main thing. Do that and you won’t have trouble making decisions and you won’t end up as a flat squirrel.

Keeping a balanced life and keeping the main thing the main thing takes work and sometimes some help or guidance is needed. Local author and life coach Norma Nickolson norma-nickolosonof Wise Owl Enterprises has just published her latest book that can help with that –  Living a Balanced Life Journal . You can visit her website at https://wiseowlenterprises.org/ for contact information for Norma. Both the book and the web site benefit from Norma’s collaboration with Marla Schalow of of Jademar Design. Norma and Marla are accountability partners who regularly meet and hold each other accountable for the things that they tell each other they are committed to doing. You should try that with someone, too. Perhaps, if you feel accountable to someone to get done the things that you said you would do, you won’t end up as a flat squirrel on life’s road.

Have a great and decisive rest of your week.