April 30, 2018
From the Jack’s Winning Words blog today comes this little saying from Fred Rogers – “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”
Our kids grew up watching Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood and they’re the better for it, I believe. Fred never talked down to the children; but, instead, he took the time to explain things to them, like how to be a friend.
Today’s quote is another way of putting another old saying – “when one door closes another door opens”. Life is full of things coming to an end, often not a happy one. A competition ends without a win, a relationship ends, a job is lost, a loved one passes away. We notice those endings, but often don’t see that something else has begun at the same time. Perhaps it is just difficult to see through the tears of the moment; or maybe we are consumed by the sense of loss of what just ended.
It is in moments like these, when life has thrown something unexpected at you, something that is hard to deal with, that we must find comfort and peace in our faith. In those moments of fear and sadness we can feel alone, isolated from those who are not experiencing what we are going through. It is important in those moments to be able to reach out to God, who never leaves us, and ask His help to carry on. There are things that we cannot and will not ever “understand”; so, we must ask instead for the faith and strength to just accept them and move on.
Once you find that strength in your faith, you can turn your attention to what God has in mind for you next, to what “beginning of something else” has just opened up for you. Maybe it’s that new person that you just met who could become significant in your life; maybe it’s that new job with its learning challenges; maybe it’s aiming for the next competition and trying to learn from your shortfall in the last one. Whatever it is; take time to thank God for giving you new purpose and new reasons for living. You’re now at the beginning of something new in your life and that’s exciting.
It is a new day and a new week. Find your new beginnings.
April 24, 2018
Today’s post to the blog Jack’s Winning Words blog is re-posted here in its entirety –
“Everything for me becomes allegory.” (Charles Baudelaire) There’s a lesson, metaphor, parable in every event, when you look for it. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a lesson in what it means to be a neighbor. The walk by the Israelites to the Promised Land can be a metaphor for our life’s walk toward Heaven. The Wizard of Oz has many allegories…the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion, even Home! Our world is full of hidden stories. 😉 Jack
It is a shame that we do not take the time to even see the hidden stories going on in life all around us, much less try to apply the knowledge and wisdom that is within those stories to our own lives. Those stories are locked up in the people that we encounter; yet we fail to see them because we do not take the time to meet and get to know those people.
Many times I will return from a business meeting with potential clients about a real estate transaction and my wife will ask me simple questions about things like “Why do they want to sell?” or perhaps “How many kids do they have?” I tis then that I realize that I was so focused upon the real estate aspects of our meeting that I didn’t take the time to explore the human side of things and get to know those people better. I didn’t explore the hidden stories that led them to me in the first place.
Even more revealing of how inwardly focused I can become and how blinded that leaves me. Worse is to discovering that someone that I may have been avoiding because of some pre-conceived notion or prejudice is actually a very interesting person from whom I might learn or at least enjoy knowing. When we judge someone from afar, based solely on their outward appearance, we blind ourselves to the true value that they have and the hidden stories that they could share.
It is true that a rock or a tree may have a hidden story from which one could learn something, but it is through our interactions with others that we really learn and share life’s most valuable lessons. So, don’t let yourself be blinded by prejudice or pre-conceived notions about those whom you encounter. Take the time to get to know them and to listen to their hidden stories. You’ll be the better for it and perhaps they will gain from knowing you, too.
Seek out the hidden stories from those around you this week.
April 16, 2018
From today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog post comes this gem sent in by one of his followers. If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life.” (Sent by Al Weidlich)
That thought about changing the future by touching a life is the foundation of many organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, AA and NA and many more. It is all about touching other people and showing them compassion and caring. Those “touches” have the power to change people’s lives. Coincidentally they also change the lives of those who reach out to touch others.
We have become a society that is distracted and entertained by technology to such an extent that we don’t look away from it long enough to see the lives that need touching as they pass us by. How can one see the distress and fear in the eyes of someone in need, if our eyes are glued to the screens of our smartphones? How can one have the conversation that leads to understanding of those needs if one is busy texting someone else with the latest “news” of our day?
Perhaps it is time to put away our technology and look around to see the people who share our lives. They may not be friends right now; but they could be. They may not need help right now; but they might. You will never know the pleasure of having them as a friend or the joy of helping them with a problem if you never take the time to reach out and touch their life. Something as simple as a friendly greeting may be all it takes to engage them enough to touch their life. Instead of looking away as you pass, look at them and see them as a person that it might be interesting to know.
Sure there is time to touch the past, whether it be a rock or an old photo; and there is time to touch the present, which we do with the things around us every day; but, it is our ability to touch the future and make a difference in it by touching the lives of others that is exciting. Touching things from the past or present has little impact upon them (other than perhaps to leave a fingerprint); however, we can change the course of history by touching and improving the lives of others. How powerful is that? Nothing else that you will do with your life will have greater impact than changing the lives of others for the better.
So, reach out this week and touch the lives of others. At the end of the day, think back on the opportunities to touch other lives that you took and those that you missed and resolve to do better tomorrow. I think that you will also realize the powerful changes that have occurred in your life because you made that effort and because others have made the effort to touch your life.
Put down those phones and stay in touch.
April 13, 2018
A post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time back had this little quote from Bob Dylan – “Ya either get faith or ya get unbelief, and there ain’t no middle ground.”
Few probably associate Bob Dylan with faith, but his observation about faith is certainly true. What seems to happen all too often is that people who have faith get turned off by the practice of religion. Faith is the belief in God, whereas religions are all codified and ritualized practices that lay claim to being based on that belief; but which, in reality, represent the intervention and interpretation of man in the practice of one’s faith.
It is easy to become confused and maybe even put-off by the rules, dogma and rituals that man has imposed upon those who seek to share their faith by joining a religious organization. That is especially true for younger people who have reached an age where they question the validity of everything; especially the rules of behavior and practice imposed their religion. If not before, college is certainly a place where that questioning take hold of young lives for a while. Eventually one is able to separate out the things that are man-made in religions from the foundations of faith and belief in God and become able to accept some of the practices of organized religions in order to share in the celebration of that common faith in God. It is in the quite peace of prayer that one reaffirms one’s beliefs and faith; and, it is in religious celebrations and church services that one shares the joy of that faith.
So, questioning or challenging the practices of some religions is not bad or to be confused with questioning one’s faith. Centuries ago, Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church and the practices of granting religious indulgences. That challenge eventually led to the split from the Catholic Church that led to the formation of all modern Protestant denominations. The fact that there are so many different denominations and variations within denominations just further shows the hand of man in religions. The base upon which all are built remains the belief in God and His Son, Jesus, and, as Dylan said, “You either got it or you ain’t.”
You will figure out for yourself which of the many choices of churches is right for you; but, always keep your faith clear and central in your life and the rest will work itself out. The hand of God will always prevail over the hand of man.
April 12, 2018
A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog featured this little quote – “The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” (Voltaire)
Medicine has evolved a lot since Voltaire’s time, but that aspect hasn’t changed. If Voltaire was alive to comment on modern medicine his quote might read – “The art of medicine consists of drugging the patient while nature cures the disease.” Modern medicine seems to be focused more upon relief of symptoms than actual healing. Whatever you have, there’s a pill for that, or at least a pill to make you feel better while it runs its course. Nature still takes care of that over time.
Admittedly, there have been dramatic improvements in the surgery aspect of modern medicine. Now when something wears out it can be replaced, either by a man-made option or a transplant from someone usually less fortunate than the receiver of the transplant. It is even possible today to print a new things to put into you, using recently developed 3d printing techniques.
One thing that remains a problem is that going to hospital can be the most dangerous option for many. Too many people still die in the hospital from diseases or infections that they get there that they would not have contracted at home. In the Civil War many more Union soldiers died in the field hospitals from infections than dies from the actual gun shots that put them there – the result of infections from reused and non-disinfected bandages. In the modern hospital it is most often the result of bad hygiene practices by the staff that allows bacteria and viruses to spread freely in the facilities.
I will also admit that the preventive medicine side of thing has gotten much better, with vaccines being responsible for just about wiping out certain diseases from Voltaire’s time. With all of that research and money spent on vaccines, the common cold virus still seems to have the upper hand. Bacteria and viruses also have evolved over time and we hear now about antibiotic resistant strains that may eventually win out in their war against humanity.
Perhaps we should all be content to amuse ourselves and let nature figure out a cure for what ails us. That certainly beats the opioid option that modern medicine has come up with as a solution. From time to time we see studies that indicate the power of prayer in “miraculous” recoveries from some disease or condition. Perhaps it is the power of that prayer to encourage us to persevere while nature works its cure. Just sayin’ that there’s nothing wrong with prayin’.
Have a wonderful and healthy weekend ahead.
April 11, 2018
Retired pastor, Jack Freed, is the author of my favorite blog – Jack’s Winning Words – and his daily quotes often provide the inspiration for many of my posts. Jack spent a week in the hospital recently because of a spider bite that became infected. He’s out and posting to his blog again and this was one of his posts this week, which I re-blog here in it’s entirety:
“I am totally lacking the ‘zippity’ part of my ‘do dah’ day.” (Sent by PZ) I laughed at this one, because I know what it is to lose your zip. Pete Seeger sang, “My get up and go has got up and went.” Pete continues, “I’m able to grin when I think where my get up has been…But I’ll stick around to see what is next.” That’s good philosophy when the do-dah-day isn’t going so well. Celebrate the memories and say with Scarlett, “Tomorrow is another day.” 😉 Jack
We all have days where our get up and go seems to have left without us, as Pete Seeger sang. Some days we awaken in the morning and just don’t feel like getting out of bed to face the day. Low energy days like that can be depressing if we let them. It is mornings like that where you feel like turning to God and saying, “A little help here, God.”
That quick little prayer can make the difference in your day and provide you with a shot of energy much sooner and better than downing an energy drink. Nothing can put the zippity day in your do-dah day more than knowing that you are starting it with God at your side. What can life throw at you that He can’t help you handle?
So start today and every day by awakening the power of God in your life and you will be able to approach the day like the kids in this Disney movie clip.
Have a zippity do-dah day!
April 5, 2018
Today’s musing is based upon a quote from a past post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
“True wisdom comes…when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves and the world around us.” (Socrates)
It is a wise man who admits to himself that he doesn’t understand life, no matter how well educated he may be. Training the mind to think helps with many things, but understanding life is not one of them. One might be better able to explain a few things in life (you could use the term rationalize instead of explain); however, understanding why things happen in life the way they do is beyond our abilities to understand. At some point, one reaches the end of the string of logic that they may have formulated to explain things in life. It is at that point that belief has to take over, because understanding is out of reach.
Reaching the end of understanding of things also forces a person to pause to consider what it is that they believe in. It is comforting in those times to have a strong belief in God. Not understanding why things happen can be unsettling. It can cause confusion and anxiety. It can lead to hopelessness and depression. Being able to say to yourself, “I do not have to understand the ‘why?’ of everything. I just need to believe in God and accept His plans for me.”
It is that acceptance, of both God and His plan for you that provides you with needed comfort and relief. You release yourself from the burden of trying to solve it yourself, figure it out yourself or understand it; you learn to accept life as it comes at you and do the best that you can with what life presents to you. You can focus more on how to deal with life, rather than being hung up on why things happen. Believe that things happen for a reason, even if you don’t understand those reasons. Find your purpose in dealing with those things that happen.
You can start each day in the right frame of mind with a little prayer to God in which you say, in your own words; “God, I don’t know what you have in store for me today; but, I know that you will be with me and that you will not give me anything that I cannot handle with you at my side.” I shorten that prayer down quite a bit by reducing it a simple sentence , “Not my will but thy will be done.” Whatever prayer you decide to use, start each day with acknowledgement and acceptance of God in your life and nothing that you hit during the day will overwhelm you. Truly a wise decision.