Turn the other cheek instead…

May 31, 2017

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog gives good advice on how to deal with those who might verbally disabuse you – “Never wrestle with pigs.  You both get dirty, and the pigs like it.”  (George Bernard Shaw).

pig in mudThose who verbally bully others or who’s overt disparaging remarks seek to hurt you are the pigs in your life and they love it when you react to their attacks – when you wrestle with them. Those types of people do what they do in hopes of “getting a rise out of you.” They want you to come down to their level and wrestle in the mud of hate or prejudice with them.

In Matthew 5:39 we read “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

I suppose that this verse could be interpreted literally; however, it is useful in a figurative sense also. Turning the other cheek to those who have verbally caused you harm is choosing not to wrestle with pigs, not to get down in the mud with them.

It is difficult to resist the reaction of lashing back at someone who has just hurled anbully.png insult at you; however, if you can bring to mind Shaw’s advice, there will likely come a smile to your face as you imagine wrestling with pigs. Nothing disarms the would be verbal bully like a smile in response. They just can’t figure out how you can take the abuse and respond with a smile. Resist the urge to throw in a little “oink”, even if that comes to mind.

Remind yourself that the taunts or hurtful remarks are coming from a negative person and heed the advice of Hugh Dillon – “Life is too short to spend in negativity. So I have made a conscious effort to not be where I don’t want to be.” Think about it. Do you really want to be down there in the mud, wrestling with pigs?

Instead, perhaps you can focus upon the words of Dr. Martin Luther King – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It is sometimes hard to love thine enemies as we are instructed to do; smiling womanbut nothing that I’ve ever tried to do in response to some personal attack has worked better than showing forgiveness and love to those who tried to drag me down into the mud with them to wrestle in hate.

So figuratively turn the other cheek today and find it in your heart to forgive. Once you have stopped the urge to get down and dirty with the pigs, you must find the strength to forgive them.  H. Jackson Brown, Jr. put it well when he reminds us – “Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness.”

Use your resources today.


Is your house fire smart?

May 30, 2017

In support of my real estate business, I get a daily news feed from Realty Times and there is always something interesting to read in those short articles. Recently I got an article about what the author with the intriguing headline – Why Some Homes Survive Wildfires – And Others Don’t. The article written by Jim Adair for a Canadian audience was about so-called called FireSmart house design – the things that one can do to make one’s home more likely to survive a wildfire incident. To read Jim’s article on the  Realty Times web site click here – http://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1002636-20170530-why-some-homes-survive-wildfires-and-others-dont?

Admittedly here in my little Village in Southeastern Michigan we don’t get many wildfires; however, I have plenty of neighbors with “cabins up North”, whose get-away homes are nestled in the middle of woods that could be susceptible to an occasional wildfire. Certainly we have seen wildfires out west and down south over the past year. I also see from time to time local news stories of fires that start in one house and quickly spread to others nearby. The design principals that are discussed in the article would help prevent that, too.

The article referenced a booklet that was created to illustrate the design features that either help or hurt your house in the face or a wildfire. You can download that booklet for here –  https://www.firesmartcanada.ca/images/uploads/resources/FSCanada_HomeDevBooklet_5.5×8.5-V6-Mar20.pdf

Much of the advice in the article is what might be thought of as common sense; however, like other things in life we oft forget to apply common sense to our daily lives until someone points it out. Some of the advice is about home design features that can aid or thwart a fire trying to find a way to ignite the combustible materials in your home. Some of these pieces of advice are “Why didn’t I think of that” little gems and some are “I knew that, but I didn’t do it” items.

wildfireWhen the conflagration occurs, you don’t want to be standing there with a pathetic little garden house trying to save your house from a neighborhood fire when you could have done things to help it protect itself. In the case of a real wild fire, I don’t recommend the garden hose strategy anyway. So, whether your home is sitting in the middle of a forest or in the middle of an urban neighborhood, read the article and think about the things that you might be able to do with your home to make it FireSmart.


What happened to Sundays?

May 29, 2017

While I was at church this past Sunday, at least one of my grandsons and his dad were at a little league game that started at 9 AM that morning. It’s quite probable that another of my grandsons had a game, too. I thought back to when I was growing up and how baseball glove and ballSunday was a day dedicated to church and family time, and not a day filled with organized sports or other activities. In fact, when I was a kid in Illinois the state still had “Blue Laws”, which made it illegal to sell alcohol on Sundays and illegal to open retail stores. We used to drive across the Mississippi River into Missouri to shop on Sunday afternoon (after church, of course).

Now, I’m certainly not advocating a return to the Blue Laws days; however, I do find it both disappointing and somewhat offensive that Sundays have been turned into sports days. It seems that every little league sport of any sort now views Sunday mornings as fair game for practices or actual games. If it’s not baseball, it’s soccer or hockey or basketball or whatever. Our children are not only lured into these things, but are now actually forced into them by the pressure to start competitive sports at younger and younger ages. II have seen articles that blame the passage of the Title 9 laws back in 1972. Those laws encouraged (some might say mandated) the creation of programs to educate and keep baseball playerchildren busy (and off the streets). Out of that start more and more “little leagues” for all sports grew, until we have what we have today – seven-days a week sports activities that not only keep our kids off the streets but out of churches as well.

Why is that so important? I believe that a case can be made that the teachings that children used to get by attending church and Sunday School were a critical part of their development into responsible adults. It was, and still is, the primary place that focused upon establishing a moral base for adulthood, through the teaching of right and wrong as defined within religious doctrine. It was a rite of passage on the journey to adulthood that we have largely abandoned as a society and we are much the poorer for that.

I believe that another thing that the usurping of Sundays has caused is exhaustion in both the children and the families. We no longer have a day that we set aside for relaxing andlistening toi music.png rejuvenation. Instead we are on the go rung to and from activities seven days a week. Not only don’t modern children get bored, they don’t get any rest either. There is less time for reading and play, because they have to get to the next game or to rehearsal for an upcoming recital. There is no time to just be a child; one has to get ready for the next competition. We are teaching them that it’s a win-lose world, a zero sum game in which the one who works the hardest wins. What a shame that they are no longer exposed to the win-win world of Christianity in which making the effort and helping others is more family grroupimportant than winning every time.

All of this could be avoided, if parents just took the stand that Sundays (at least the mornings) are not for sports, but for family time and for church. Unfortunately, the current generation of parents is among the first themselves to largely abandon organized religions. Perhaps that is the fault of the religions themselves, which were slow to change and recognize the needs of younger parishioners. The growth of modern, non-denominational churches sprung from the recognition of those needs and a willingness to change in order to fill them.

However, not all churches can make the change to so-called “modern” services, with praise bands and video productions and other attractions/distractions to lure the young and the bored. Hopefully, for those churches, God will find a way to bring back the folks churchwho have wandered away to watch a Sunday morning game. Sometime, somehow, in the back of their minds God will plant the seed that they are missing something in their lives and that the best place to fill that void is in church. Let’s just hope that the churches can hold on long enough for them to have a place to go back to when that happens. I’ll be there to welcome you back if that happens to you.


In God We Trust…

May 26, 2017

Seen on a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog was this saying that Jack said he saw on a protest sign somewhere – “In God we trust; everyone else must cite their data.” 

We live in an era were claims of “fake news” shake our confidence in what we see, hear and read. It is also an era where the so-called “Scientific Method” is under constant attack from those who choose not to believe the data cited by scientists on a variety of In God We Trust on Dollartopics from global warming to the lunar landings. Yet we still print “In God We Trust” on all of our money and pay at least lip service to that motto.

What I think the protest sign was trying to convey is that our belief in God marks the line between things that we say (or think) that we can prove using what is called the scientific method of devising tests in order to prove or disprove a theory. Scientists recently were successful with a test to prove the last great unproven theories that Einstein proposed when he did his work on the nature of time and space – the existence of gravity waves.

When it comes to God, proving or disproving His existence defies any scientific testing and requires that last giant step into the world of just believing. There have been, of course, many cases throughout history that have been well documented of so-called miracles that purportedly occurred because people who believed in god prayed for Him to intercede and change the expected course of the future. The Catholic Church documents at least 3-4 such miracles of intercession with God by candidates for man prayingSainthood; however, that is less of a planned and scientific test than it is a recording, after the fact, of an event in which someone believe that God had a hand. The scientific part may be that the original condition of the person receiving the miracle was well documented and the resulting condition after the miracle is well documented, but the occurrence of the miracle itself remains a mystery.

Perhaps that is as it should be. Even scientists accept that there are things that cannot be explained; things that cannot be tested, which must just be believed. Scientists have long struggled with the answers to the simple questions “what came before that and what caused that”; until they get to the point where the only answer is God.

In our daily lives there are many things that we wrestle with and expend energy on trying to solve or resolve. Many of them can be handles with just good problem solving techniques and I’ve posted about that here before – see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/03/05/problem-solving-101/ as an example. Some things are beyond our ability to solve for others or for ourselves and that is when we should turn to God. I’ve written about that, too, as recently as this month – https://normsmilfordblog.com/2017/05/04/consider-the-alternative-and-turn-to-god/

In reality it is God acting through us that makes either approach work. So, perhaps a woman-prayinggood way to start each day would be to take out your wallet and look at the back of whatever bills you have in it and read the motto – In God We Trust. If you don’t have any bills, look at your coins; it’s printed on them, too. The point is to take that motto to heart and start the day with the thought in mind – In God I Trust. You’ll have a great day, no matter what happens.


Life isn’t dull in the deep end…

May 25, 2017

“Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.”  (Christopher Reeve)

I remember as a kid the excitement and the sense of danger of going down to the deep end of the local swimming pool. Even though it was only 18 feet deep at the deep end ithigh board seemed at the time to be like the ocean. After all, I could no longer touch the bottom with my feet and it was either swim or sink. The ocean is ever scarier; however, the first and only time that I have ever gone scuba diving, I discovered what wonderful things there are to see in the ocean, once you get out of the shallows of the shoreline. Even only 20-30 feet down there is much more to see and many more fish than in the shallows of the shoreline.

Life is a lschool-of-fishot like that. There is safety and comfort to be found in staying in the shallow end of life, where your feet are always able to touch the bottom. But, if you will just venture out into the ocean of life a bit, you will find it to be a whole lot more interesting, if not a little terrifying every now and them. Out of the terror and the increased interest in things and people, comes the reward of increased knowledge and awareness of the differences and beauty that is just a bit further out – in the deep end of life. Just like at the pool, you have to work a little harder to stay afloat and there is a tendency to panic from time to time when you realized that you can no longer find the safety of the bottom of the pool; but, also, just like swimming out in the ocean, there is so much more to see and experience and learn from.

We have a euphemistic term for this; it’s called getting out of one’s comfort zone. Our comfort zone is that shallow end that is a little warmer than the deep end and in which we can always securely feel the bottom and even stand up if necessary. When we were real little we may have even worn those “water wings” on our arms to make sure that we could stray afloat. We quickly outgrow those devices, but many of us never really outgrow the need to feel the bottom of the pool – to stay in the shallow end of life.

For many the safety of life’s routines in the shallow end eventually become dull and boring and so they venture out into the deep in (the ocean) of life. That involves interacting with people that we normally don’t interact with and doing things that weworried1 normally don’t do. The biggest challenge is really overcoming our own imagined fears about what could happen and just letting go long enough for the interesting things in life to happen. Sometimes that means meeting and interacting with new people, people who are different from us and our usual friends. Those may be people of different colors or different sexual orientations or even different religious backgrounds. It could be someone from a foreign land or just from a different neighborhood or even a different city or state. Many times it will involve people from different socio-economic backgrounds or different levels of education. The important thing is that it involves people who likely see things from a different perspective than our own. We will be in a different end of the pool, one in which our feet may not be able to touch the bottom.

take a riskSuch interactions, out of your normal comfort zone, might leave you a little breathless or maybe a little frightened, but they seldom could be classified as boring. In fact, you may find yourself longing for another dose of that excitement and the little edge of fear, because it awakens things in you that may have become dormant due to the comfort of living too long in the shallow end. Some who begin to venture out into the ocean of life describe it as a natural high – a combination of the adrenaline rush of trying something new and the satisfaction of having been successful at it.

There is an old saying that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I think it also makes you more interesting to yourself and to other, too. So, get out of your comfort zone. See what wonderful things and people are out there in the deep end. Try new things. If you fail, learn from those failures and try again. Meet new people and not just people who look exactly like you. Learn from them. Appreciate them and their cultures and theirjump-in points of view. Life is too short to spend your entire time here in the shallow end. So, venture out into the ocean – the deep end – of life.

I’ll see you out in the ocean…


Teetering on the seesaw of life or mastering the winds of change…

May 23, 2017

“The world is an eternal seesaw.”  (Montaigne) – as seen on a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Life is indeed full of ups and downs, of good and bad things, of friends and those we believe wish us no good, and of threats and rewards. No matter what state your life is in currently it is bound to change sometime soon. No matter how hard we try to grasp it we cannot hold on to the past and are forced to deal with the changes that are occurring in the present with little real insight into the future.

Intime for change order to avoid being run over by change, one must embrace change. One cannot stop the flow of change, but like a surfer riding a wave, one can get on top of change and enjoy the ride. One might even be able to effect the changes that are in motion so that they take you in a direction that you want to go, rather than just sweeping you along to some unknown destination

Perhaps the most important thing that one can do is to approach all things in life, including the changes that are happening all around us, with a positive attitude. It is all too easy, when the winds of change appear to be blowing against you, to let a negativedumb blob guy and defeatist attitude take over your life. Maintaining a positive attitude is key.  Brian Tracy pout it well when he said – “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”

Good sailors know how to use the winds that are there, no matter which way they are blowing, to take them in the direction that they want to go. In order to sail in any direction other than with the wind, sailors need a centerboard (or keel equivalent) and a good rudder. In life we need that positive attitude as our centerboard and, I would sailboatsubmit, we need faith as our rudder to sail against the winds of change and the ups and downs that come with change. Sailors also study the stars and their maps to guide them, just as we can study the bible for guidance in our lives.

Change is inevitable, as are the ups and downs of life, but if we keep a positive attitude at our center and let our faith act as our rudder to guide us against the winds in life that seek to blow us off course, we will not only weather change but thrive in the midst of it. I love a quote that I found from Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon – “What we need to do is always lean into the future; when the world changes around you and when it changes against you – what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind – you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn’t a strategy.”

I particularly like the last four words of Jeff’s quote. For some people complaining isn’t so much their strategy as it is their response to change. Those people not only accept that bad things will happen in their lives, they come to expect them and many adopt a defeatist attitude that eventually morphs into “why even try; I know I’m going to lose”. Try to stay away from those people because like a drowning swimmer they will try to drag you down with them.

Your walking manresponse to change based upon a positive attitude as your centerboard and your faith as your rudder will allow you master change and not let it get the upper hand on you. You will control your direction and your destiny, no matter which way the winds of change are blowing. Perhaps Sherrie Eldridge put it best when she said – “The remarkable thing we have is a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude”

How will you react to the changes that you encounter today?


Healing your wounds…

May 18, 2017

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, retired pastor Jack Freed shared this tidbit of wisdom from and unexpected source – “A wound gets worse when it’s treated with neglect.”  (Stevie Nicks).

It may be opined that Nicks was not talking about physical wounds, but rather those wounds to our ego that are inflicted upon us by others through actions or words, or perhaps wounds that are self-inflicted. The same can be said about the wounds that we may inflict upon others, either intentional or inadvertent.  Sometimes the wounds come from perceived slights (real or crying-2imagined) rather than from overt actions or words. In any case the advice that Nicks give is not to let those wounds fester, not to neglect them; rather you should deal with them.

If you read the advice columns in the papers, you will notice that many of the letters to the columnists deal with these types of wounds. They are filled with laments that “she said this about me” or “he did that to me” and sometimes just “I was left out of the family event”. Those are all wounds that need attention and writing to the advice columnist is one way to give them some attention. Perhaps the better way it to learn how to deal with your wounds yourself.

A good start is by understanding the old phrase, “perception is reality”. The person or people making the hurtful (to you anyway) comments that wound your ego have somehow come to the perception that they represent the truth (reality) about you. Youvisualizing must accept that, for them anyway, this is reality as far as you are concerned. If you begin by stopping to analyze what that reality is in their eyes, you might discover the grain of truth that is at the core of their perception of you. Maybe they say, “I don’t like being around him/her, because he/she is always in a bad (down) mood and I don’t want him/her to bring mine down, too.” Wow, you are perceived as Debbie Downer, the moody person who isn’t much fun to be around. How did that happen?

Maybe, whenever anyone greets you and asks how you are, you go into some long, dreary story about how bad your life is. Perhaps you are overtly seeking sympathy, or maybe you just don’t realize how a negative response to what is meant as a cheerful opening en joiner; whatever the reason, stop and think before exposing your wounds to depression4others, in hopes that they will empathize with you. Once the initial pleasantries are exchanged, you may be able to judge whether this person has enough interest in you or is a close enough friend to share a wound or two and to seek advice from. The BFF’s in your life may be the only ones that you meet to whom you should ever expose your wounds. Do that too often with them and even BFFs will start to avoid you.

Understanding the perceptions that you give people does not really treat your wounds, but it may help prevent even more wounds from people who are turned off by your behavior or demeanor. So, maybe rule number one should be, “Don’t wear your wounds on your sleeve for everyone to see”

Rule number two might be, “Do something about it – treat your wounds.” Wounds to your ego are like zits on the face of a teenager. They may make you self-conscious, they may shake your self-confidence, or they may just make you frustrated and mad. If carried in silence they can lead you into dark places where others will avoid going.

I have possorry 2ted here before about dealing with problems and putting them behind you. That is the best way to handle your wounds, too. First, acknowledge that something that you did or that someone else did is bothering you – it is an open wound. Then determine if there is anything that you or anyone else might do that would correct, mitigate or make right what has happened or what was said. If it was you who said something that hurt someone else, and now that thoughtless action has bounced back to wound you; then you know who can fix that. Apologizing and saying that you are sorry to the person impacted by your actions will have a salving effect on them and on you. You may cure two wounds at once.

If someone else has offended you somehow, causing a wound that you wish to heal, the most honest approach is to confront them directly and explain how what they said or did made you feel; how it wounded you. Unless you have been attacked by a malevolent person who is out to do you harm for some reason, most of the time you will find that the other person didn’t mean to cause you any harm or pain – the slight or comment was inadvertent or perhaps totally misunderstood. It helps to start out by giving the other party the benefit of the doubt that the incident was really meant to wound you.

If, somehow, the wound that you are feeling was self-inflicted, caused by some action mistakrethat you took that you now regret; you need to give yourself some slack and try to turn this into a learning experience. Beating yourself up is never the best way to deal with a failure or a mistake. Stop an analyze what your thought process was going into the event and which of the assumptions that you might have made, or which “facts” that you were relying on, might have been wrong and steered you in the wrong direction. Learn from it.

Rule three is perhaps the hardest, but most important – forgive and move on. You can’t really move on with life carrying around a bunch of open wounds. You need to forgive the other person or yourself for what happened, acknowledge that it is in the past, andforgive move on. Even the gravest of perceived slights or actions by someone else against you must be forgiven and you certainly must be able to forgive yourself, if you are to get out of self-pity mode and get back to living.

Examples of people forgiving the most egregious offenses that I have ever seen have been featured on TV News. The survivors of the horrendous church shootings in South Caroline have forgiven the shooter. There have been other reports of similar acts of forgiveness for other horrendous crimes or actions. If you watch those reports, you will notice a sense of peace that those people have achieved by being able to forgive the other person. Certainly they will carry memories of those events for the rest of their lives; but they will not carry wounds – they have forgiven and moved on.

It is noteworthy that most of those reports of people forgiving the most heinous of woman-prayingperpetrators are about people with a strong foundation of belief in God in their lives. As part of their healing process, they have taken their wounds to God and He has healed them. They are able to say “I forgive you” to the person how harmed them because they are secure in the belief that God has forgiven them all of their sins, no matter how small or large.

I like the way Lewis B. Smedes put it – “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”  

So, forgive and turn away from the past; and look to your future with hope. You have healed your wounds.