Keep an open mind…

September 27, 2017

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this morning’s inspiration – “I don’t necessarily agree with everything I say.”  (Marshall McLuhan)

Jack when on to write – Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois was once criticized for changing his vote on a certain issue.  His response: “The only people who do not change their minds are those in asylums or cemeteries.”

Do you change your mind on things over time? That’s usually a sign of keeping an open mind, which is a good thing. People who are labeled as “prejudiced” are many times insightpeople who hold some negative opinion or dislike for some group or groups of people and who are unable or unwilling to consider a different point of view. That is not to say that you have to agree with those people or practice whatever behavior it is that offends you that they display. But, it is to say that you at least try to understand that they have a different view of the world and come to peace with the fact that those differences exist. So long as the differences in appearance or behavior are not destructive or disruptive, what real difference does it make? Keep an open mind.

In our society, prejudices are an easy to spot sign of closed minds. We have racists , homophobes, anti-immigrationists, extreme nationalists and other groups who seem toarrogant make the nightly news. It is hard to tell whether it is fear or hate that is the primary driving force behind these groups, but interviews with members of the groups quickly demonstrate their closed-minded nature. Even for what we might call “normal” people, there are often many things that might cause discomfort or anxiety just beneath the surface of their otherwise calm expressions. Keep an open mind.

Keeping an open mind means allowing things to play out without preconceived notions about the outcome. It means taking the time to listen to, evaluate and trying to understand the other person’s point of view. It doesn’t require that you convert to that point of view; only that you understand and appreciate that it exists and that it most diversitylikely presents no threat to you. In fact, study after study in the business world has shown the benefits of having a diverse workforce with a rich diversity of ideas and approaches to the same issues, as opposed to having a homogeneous workforce that s all driven by the same set of beliefs and standards (and prejudices). Keep an open mind.

As for changing your mind; that is something that is a natural consequence of opening your mind. If you live by the mantra, “It’s this way; it’s always been this way; and, it will always be this way”, you face the prospect of joining the buggy whip makers of yesteryear on the dust heap of history. Some people wear a little bracelet with the lettersWWJD WWJD on it. That stands for What Would Jesus Do and is a good way to pause and think about things before letting some preconception or prejudice dictate you actions. The bible says – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God…” – Romans 12:2 Keep an open mind.

So, be open minded to differences and not fearful of them. Take the time to consider and appreciate the other person’s point of view. You don’t have to convert to that view; but, do try to understand it better. Be open to change, if you see that your old beliefs were wrong or ill-founded. Let go of the negatives and embrace the positives that can come out of diversity. Allow yourself the knowledge-expanding experiences that can accompany a diverse point of view. You need not follow the old American Indian advice to “walk a mile in the other person’s moccasins”, but at least mentally try those moccasins on and take enough steps in them to understand the different path that person is on. Keep an open mind.

comfort-zoneKeeping an open mind will mean getting out of your comfort zone. Comfort zones are often defined by pre-conceived notions and even prejudices.  Comfort zones have walls that are built at the edges of understanding, beyond which lies our fears, uncertainties and doubts. Comfort zones start at our mental dawn and runs until dusk, with everything beyond them hidden in the dark. You must be brave enough to venture into the dark in order to discover new things, have new experiences, make new friends and expand your knowledge. Rosa Parks put it well when she said – “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.” Make up your mind to Keep an open mind.

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Where does God fit into your priorities?

September 25, 2017

We all have priority lists. They may not all be written down somewhere; but, they are there somewhere in the back of your mind. These are the things that we have decided are important enough to commit some of our limited time and energy to on a daily or weekly basis. For most there are high priority commitments to family and to jobs – those come first. Then there are the other things that we commit time to – maybe school or learning, maybe having fun or playing games. There’s always some time committed to hockey shotrest and sleep, as well as eating. For more and more families, a good deal of time maybe be committed to sports, either as a participant or to facilitate our children n sports. For parents with school-aged children those sports activities may become all-consuming. Between overlapping sports seasons and travel teams there is always a game or practice for every waking moment. Over the last few years, those activities more often than not involved starting early Sunday morning and consuming most of the day.

So, where does God fit into your busy schedule? Has time for God and worship been pushed off your calendar by Lacrosse or Hockey or Soccer or some other activity that you are committed to take your children to, even on Sunday mornings? When did you get to busy for God? When did having your child practice or play a sport become morefemale soccer player important that learning about God and Jesus? When did kicking a ball around a field become more important that forming a good moral base for life? Where does God and the church fit into your family schedule? No time for that now. What a pity. How often, “I’ll get to that later” becomes, “I wish I had done that than.”

It is really up to parents to help their children make the right decisions about the priorities in their lives. IF the children see parents who are willing to push God aside for other things, it will establish a defacto priority in their minds that God is not really that important.  When parents go along with Sunday morning practices and games, thinking that they are doing it for their kids wellbeing, they are, in fact, showing the children that God takes a back seat to fun and games, sports and other activities. I am at a loss to understand where those same parents think that their children will learn the churchlife lessons and moral codes that being in Sunday School and Church would teach them. Learning good sportsmanship is one thing; but learning what God wants them to understand about life is an entirely different thing.

So, parents, ask yourself – where is God in my priority list? Is God up there as a priority with, and maybe even above family (where He should be); or, is God somewhere down the list, near the bottom, after sports and activities and games and school and all of the other things that are competing for the time and attention of you and your children? How does realizing what your priorities have become make you feel? You can change that. Put time for God where it belongs on your list of priorities and the rest will take care of itself.

Just say no to Sunday practices or games. Someday, when age or injuries have limited theirwoman-praying ability to shoot or kick or hit the ball anymore, your children will thank you for setting their priorities right and helping them establish a relationship with God that will serve them well for their entire lives. In the end, how much was the fact that you were a decent young hockey player or soccer player going to mean, as opposed to having established a lifelong relationship with God as a child?

Where does God fit into your priorities?


Don’t waste your time…Run to the next window

September 23, 2017

There are quotes that I happen upon that, thought totally unrelated, just seem to naturally go together. Here are two that I have collected over time from the Jack’s Winning Words blog:

“Don’t waste a minute not being happy.  If one window closes, run to the next.”  (Brooke Shields)

“You have to be able to laugh at yourself and to take it with a grain of salt.”  (Khloe Kardashian)

While life is obviously serious business, we all tend to take things too seriously, especially when we get down on ourselves. Sometimes we try things and fail. Sometimes we do bored2stupid things that we should have known better not to do. Sometimes life throws a curve ball at us and we react badly. Most of those times result in some amount of our time being spent in an unhappy state of mind. We may be sad or angry or frustrated or disappointed, but we are not happy.

Perhaps we are angry at ourselves, which can be the hardest thing to forgive; just because there is no one else to blame. In any event, we waste time not being happy. Why? Does it really do any good to be angry? Does being disappointed make anything different? Does wallowing in self-pity make you feel any better? Perhaps a good cry depression4relieves some of the pain of the sadness of a lost or a disappointment, but does it change anything? Let the moment pass. Let go of the thing that is effecting you and move on. Step back and laugh at yourself…run to the next window.

I recently got to see this philosophy in action. I good friend had her business literally snatched out from under her, due to circumstances over which she had no control. A big, direct competitor in her line of business bought the building that her business was housed in and basically shut it down by canceling her lease. There was nowhere else to go in the area and the only choice that she had was to shut down her business.

calm personThese events could have been personally devastating for her; but, she has a great attitude and is viewing it as an opportunity to do something new and different. Was she initially bummed? Yes, who wouldn’t be. But, rather than wallow in self-pity and walking around complaining about how unfair life can be; she has decided to see this as an opportunity. She has accepted it better, and probably has a better attitude about it, than the people who were her clients in the old business. She is running to the next window and is actually excited about the new adventure. What a great attitude and reaction to the things that life has thrown her way. I’m sure that everyone who knows her will support her in her new career.

I read a story not too long ago about a man who was diagnosed with a terminal condition and given less than a year to live. Rather than wallow in self-pity, he decided to live to the fullest in the time that he has and to throw a party for his family and friends so that they could all celebrate his life together, rather than waiting for some sort of wake after his death. What a great idea. It is a lot easier to deal with the inevitability of death if you have a firm belief in your faith that this is just a transition point into the next life. You need not fear death as a great the unknown, when you know God and believe in whathelping hands comes next…you can run to the next window of happiness.

So, the choice is yours. You can get down and stay down on yourself, because of what life has handed you; or, you can run to the next window of happiness. Knowing that God is with you makes the journey to that next window a lot less scary. I’ll see you at the next window.


Indeed…

September 20, 2017

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.”  (Peter Marshall)

That little quote from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog captures the essence of a lot of the problems that we are seeing in politics and elsewhere these days. problem-solverThere is a tendency to spend time thinking or talking about or planning to take on the big problem all at once, instead of just taking actions to resolves little pieces of the problem one at a time.  The President spends a lot of time talking about getting a deal done on this or that, while getting nothing done; and, the dysfunctional Congress seems just as happy to do nothing, since that fits into their Radical Right vision of anarchy as the ultimate goal of getting all government interference out of people’s lives.

In our own lives, I’ve written here a few times about tackling problems or challenges by breaking it down into small pieces and doing each of them. We tend to try to figure out the solution to the whole, big problem before taking any action. Sometimes there are lots of little preparatory steps that must be taken before we even can get to the main problem and it the thought of having to do all of those things, just to get ready to take on the worriesproblem, that stalls people out.  Think about painting a room and all of the furniture moving and drip cloth spreading and edge taping and plug and switch cover removing and all of the other things that need to be done just to get ready to open the paint can. Sometimes it can take as much time in the preparation and post work as it does actually doing the project.

How many times have you passed someone begging on the street and that set off a torrent of thinking and planning about how you could solve world hunger, rather than stopping and giving the guy a couple of bucks to get something to eat tonight? Or maybe you’re on a committee within your church or organization that is wrestling with the insightissue of declining membership. Rather than go out and personally invited someone to the next meeting or service, you spend all of your time researching or thinking about grand plans to improve things – and nothing gets done.

Instead of putting a lot of time and energy into the planning of a grand solution to the big problems in our society or organization, why not resolve to do what you can right now with the things that are right there in front of you. Do something, rather that thinking about doing everything. If enough of the small, immediate things get done the bigger problem may just fade away. Ask yourself, “What can I do right here, right now to help?” Then just do it. It may be a small thing, but that small deed actually done is better than spending your time planning a big deed that never gets off the drawing board.

Indeed…


What will you hear?

September 19, 2017

“A wise man hears one word and understands two.”  (Yiddish Proverb) – from my favorite source for quotes, a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Jack went on to write about reading between the lines and understanding that there is listeningusually more to what someone is saying than just the words that they may use. One must listen for nuances in the delivery of those words and observe the body language that is also going on. Unfortunately, too many people re so busy thinking about what they want to say next to pay the kind of attention to the speaker that they need to use, in order to really “hear” what they are saying.

What do you hear when the other party is speaking in a conversation? Do you sense and feel the pain that may be there? Can you see that, beyond the brave front that the wordshelp-me may be putting up, there is fear or sorrow or concern that needs to be shared and needs your empathy and help? Can you hear the excitement or joy that the other person may be trying to share with you? Do you listen for the cues that a follow-up question is more important that what you may have wanted to say next?

If all that you hear is “blah, blah, blah”, while you are waiting to jump in with your next thought; then you need to work on being a better listener and perhaps a better friend or person. People have conversations because they want to share things from their lives. They may be looking for reassurance or for help. They may just think that something that they did is interesting enough that you might find it interesting, too. Maybe they just listenneed to “get it off their chest” and are hoping that you provide that sympathetic ear.

Not everyone has time for a full medical report from everyone they meet when they ask “How are you doing?”; however, perhaps that is an opening to set up a longer meeting later to discuss whatever it is that they need to share.  If you really don’t care; then don’t ask. If you do care; then either listen now or listen later, but listen.

So, be a wise man and a good friend and listen between the lines for the unspoken Do you need a hugsignals that indicate that the person that you are talking to may have deeper needs than are being expressed in the words.  Someday you’ll be the one who needs a friend to listen to your problems and you’ll be glad that they listened for the words that were between the lines. What will you hear today?

 


It was a great weekend in Milford…

September 18, 2017

Every year, the third weekend in September is a great time to be in Milford, Michigan, and this year was no exception.

The weekend kicked off with the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce Brewed In Brewed in MIchigan logoMichigan event out at the Bakers of Milford restaurant. This event, now in its ninth year, featured beers, ales, meads, hard ciders and wines from over 35 Michigan based craft breweries/wineries. It also had tasty foods from more than 10 local restaurants, as well as music and lots of fun for everyone.

On Saturday, the 41st annual Milford Home Tour started the first day of its two day run DSCN0555which features tours of five local homes, as well as the Milford Historical Museum and the Log Cabin in South Park. The Oak Grove Cemetery was also open with self-guided tours of the grave sites ofOak Grove Cemetery entrance the many of the people who built or lived in the homes that were on the tour and information on those and the graves of Milford’s WWI veterans was provided by local historian Linda Dangenhardt.

On Sunday the Home Tour continued and the 33rd annual Milford Car Show took center CAR SHOWstage all the way down south Main Street and into Central Park. Over 340 cars were in display from 8 AM until 3 PM. There were cars and trucks of every age, description and type – from un-restored antiques to modern street rods. The sights and sounds during the day were enough to satisfy any car enthusiast. In addition, there was an antique tractor show outTractor Show at the Huron Valley State Bank parking lot featuring tractors from collectibles to day-to-day working farm tractors and equipment.

So, it was a busy and very entertaining weekend in Milford, Michigan; of course, every weekend is great when you live in Milford…just sayin’.


Please Stand By…

September 9, 2017

Every now and then I’ll pause to think about the fact that I haven’t posted to my blog for a while and realize that I got consumed by life again. Things happens, life happens and we get swept along with it, spending our time reacting to the events of life rather than working against timeproactively pursuing the things that we might wish to do. That’s life.

So, when I do get a spare moment that is not already committed to some other activity or reaction to life, I savor the moment and take the time to think about the things that I want to do, the posts that I want to write and the points that I might want to make. I sometimes also reflect on the reactions that past posts have elicited.

I write a lot about dealing with life and about the role of one’s faith in life and in managing crises. That seems to resonate with a large percentage of the people who follow my blog. Perhaps it is what they hoped someone would tell them or perhaps it’s because they agree and have found strength in their own faith. For whatever reason, I have noted that if I mention God in a post it gets more “Likes” than those with no mention of Him. Imagine that.

Recently, I’ve been consumed by work that I’ve been doing to get sponsorship’s for our annual Milford Home Tour. I’m a member of the Milford Historical Society (see our web site, which I also maintain) and I’m on the board of directors of that organization. The Society is a non-profit that raises funds to run a little local museum – the Milford Historical Museum – that is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of our local area.

The Milford Historical Society has run a tour of local historic homes for 41 years as its primary fund raiser. I go around and solicit sponsorship money from local businesses to help support the operation of the museum. That has been an all-consuming job for the last month and a half. The Home Tour is next weekend, so I’ve pretty much done all that I can on that. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to get back to blogging after that.

I’m sure that we can all identify with the ebbs and flows of life that can temporarily consume one’s time so completely that one’s normal routine is totally disrupted. In fact, I’ve started to conclude that there really isn’t any “normal routine” any more, just a few things that we seem to do more often than others. One only has to watch the nightly news (which I do as a part of my “normal routine”, when I have time) to see that “normal”clown car has taken on a new and twisted meaning under the current political environment. I guess when one lives within the theater of the absurd, one should expect surprises from the clowns who are in charge.

So, stay tuned. I will get back to a more regular routine of posting here, just as soon as I regain some level of control over the things that I choose to spend my time upon. In the meantime, if you live near Milford, Michigan; plan on going to our Home Tour on September 16 & 17. Read all about it at our web site.

Please stand by…our normal programming will resume momentarily.