What’s your resolution for today?

December 31, 2018

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the year’s.”  (Henry Moore)

Moore’s advice is good on several levels. Many who make big New Year’s Resolutions are soon overwhelmed by the those same statements of good intentions. They tend to be frustrated by focusing upon the seeming enormity of accomplishing the whole resolution, rather than breaking the whole thing down and finding a small portion of itVR2 that can be accomplished immediately – today.  It is much better to see the whole resolution as a set of steps that must be accomplished in order to reach the goal and choosing to take one of those steps today. What’s your resolution for today?

Breaking up the whole into manageable and achievable pieces goes hand-in-hand with time management. There must be time set aside specifically to accomplish the step that you have chosen to take today. It won’t happen just because you identified it as the step that you want to take. Perhaps it won’t happen at all. Maybe you bit off a bigger piece of the overall job than you can handle in a new-years-resolutions-2day. That’s OK, so long as you recognize that fact, stay focused on accomplishing something today and plan the unfinished piece for tomorrow or some future effort. Just accomplish something today that you can mark as “done” in your overall plan to reach your goal.  What’s your resolution for today?

 Sometimes our resolutions are poorly defined or maybe just poorly worded. Resolving to “be a better person on 2019” is certainly too nebulous to be acted upon or measured for success. It might be better to break down that well-meaning, but poorly stated resolution, into specific actions that you wish to take and which can be measured. Perhaps being a better person means interacting with others differently, with less pre-judgement, more acceptance of differences or just more compassion and caring. Maybe it means going out of your way, in a manner that you are aware of, to greet others, to smile and to sincerely ask how they are doing and then to listenreally LISTEN to their response. A truly better person may find things in their response that offer opportunities to help or comfort or support. At the end of the day, you can look back and measure the opportunities that you had as you encountered others and reflect on your behavior during those encounters. Were you demonstrating that you’ve become a better person? Would they agree with that assessment? What’s your resolution for today?

 Perhaps you’ve resolved to become a healthier person by losing weight and exercising more. Obviously, both of those larger goals are measurable. They are also daunting when bicycle-rider-1viewed as a whole. Both are subject to being divided into smaller, daily goals. Each meal or snack during a day becomes a measurable sub-goal. Things like portion sizes and food choices will make a measurable difference over time. Choosing to take the first step towards better fitness by joining a gym is a good first step and one that provides an endless set of next-step opportunities as you actually go to the gym and work out. Maybe the steps before that choice involved doing some research into the options that are available. Make getting started on that research today’s resolution and keep making progress. What’s your resolution for today?

 For some, finding their way back to God may be something that they wish to accomplish this year. There are many reasons that people wander away from God; too many to cover here. A good number of them have nothing to do with faith and everything to do with religion; or at least religion as it was being practiced, when they stopped going to church and wandered into the wilderness, away from God. A good first step in this case is to woman-prayingacknowledge that it’s not that you don’t believe in God; it’s just that you didn’t buy into how religion was being practiced at your last church. Don’t let that disappointment or disagreement stand between you and God. Realize that your relationship with God is personal and not dependent upon your membership in any particular religious group/denomination. The first step is to get back to prayer and your personal relationship with God. Resolve to take the first step back to God today by praying. What’s your resolution for today?

Maybe you resolved to get back to church after being away for a long time. Once you have reestablished that link with God, you can ask for His help to guide you to a group or church that better supports your needs. There are lots and lots of churches with programs and environments today that are more nurturing and supportive than you may remember from your last church. They are often filled with people just like you and provide a setting in which you can celebrate your faith together.  So, go try a few. See which ones feel welcoming and right for you. Maybe you need to break that evaluation down into the things that you think make a difference to you in a church. Do that! Make you list and then start going to try out the churches in your area. Don’t worry about denominations or affiliations, just look for alignment with your beliefs and a welcoming goaland supportive environment.  What’s your resolution for today?

So, amuse yourself with New Year’s Resolutions; but actually get something accomplished by looking at what you can do today.

What’s your resolution for today?


A star shall be your guide back home…

December 24, 2018

“In everyone’s heart stirs a great homesickness.”  (Rabbi Seymour Siegel)

I saved that quote from a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog because I knew that I wanted to write about what it meant (at least to me).

Christmas is a time of great joy and celebration, but it is also a time of reflection and peace. It is a time when you can let your soul see the solution to the great homesicknessstar and wise men that may dwell there. For, when you imagine that star that guided the wise men to that manger in Bethlehem, you are seeing the star that will guide your soul back home, to God.

The great homesickness in Rabbi Siegel’s words is not about a physical place so much as it is about being back in the presence of God. The birth of a soul launches it on an adventure of wandering about in the physical world, some for a long time and some for a very short stay. No matter the length, during that time, that soul is away from God’s presence. The longing in our soul to get back home, to that relationship with God, grows and nags at us like a homesickness.

Some wander through life trying all sorts of different things to try to quiet that uneasy bored2feeling, that homesickness. Many believe that the accumulation of worldly power or wealth is the answer. Some turn to drugs or alcohol to try to quiet the sense of loss. Some may fall into mental illness trying to deal with this unknown and unrelenting feeling of loneliness and fear. Eventually, all souls realize that the only answer is to look to the sky, find the star that guided the wise men so long ago and follow it home…back to God.

The help that you need and desire to find your way back to God may be found as the wise men found it, in that manger in the little town of Bethlehem. Jesus was sent as our savior and guide to help us get back home to God. In John 14:6 He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

So, the path back home to God is clear. Accept Jesus as your savior and guide and follow Him back home. Surrender yourself, pray, and look for His star this Christmas Eve. There need no longer be a great homesickness in your soul – His star shall be your guide back home.

jesus-in-manger

May your soul once again know the presence of God. Follow the star and have a great Christmas!


Take the time to remember at Christmas…

December 17, 2018

This quote from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog started me thinking this morning about Christmases past – “Time moves in one direction, memory in another.”  (William Gibson)

In today’s hustle and bustle world, time seems to go by very fast. Holiday’s, even Christmas can speed up on us and, before we know it, they are in the past. As we decorate our tree each year we come upon two ornaments that take us back in time – ornaments that contain birth pictures of the first child of each of our children; our first grandchildren. Both are in High School now and that seems impossible. Time has flown by.

Holiday’s like Christmas do provide vivid frames of reference for our memories. They were the times each year when we all gathered together with family and friends (if we could) to celebrate and catch up with each other’s lives. Some families have a tradition of doing a Christmas family photo as their Christmas card and that allowed us to see the growth and maturing of everyone in the family. Some even accompany that with a shortChristmas past 1 story about what they family did during the last year – accomplishments, vacations and changes. We filed those stories away along with the images on the cards.

I suppose that you might have thought my headline today had to do with remembering the reason for the season – the birth of Christ – and to an extent it does; however, the real underlying thought is to take time to wander back through your memories of Christmases past. Remember those who are no longer with us. Christmas was usually a happy time and the memories that you may have of them will likely be happy ones. Remember that places where you’ve lived and the things that you’ve done at Christmas, wherever you were. Let the images of your family, from the births of your children, through many happy Christmas mornings flood back into your mind and bring a smile to your face.

If you are blessed with a long memory, float back in time to your childhood and the excitement and wonder that you felt as a child when Santa came to your house, ate the Christmas past 2cookies that you put out for him and left presents under the tree for you. How far back can you remember? Wasn’t that a pleasant experience? Hopefully, those memories are not like a long, heavy chain that you drag behind you; but, rather, like a gentle wisp of perfume floating in the air for you to enjoy.

So, take some time this Christmas to pause and allow yourself to be transported back in time to Christmases past with friends and relatives who may no longer be here but who will live forever in our hearts. As Thomas Campbell put it – “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Someday we will join them in other hearts and take our place in their Christmas memories. For now, let’s just enjoy our memories of all of the good people and things from Christmases past.

Have a great and memorable Holiday Season!


Stop picking at it…

December 11, 2018

From today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this gem – “Nobody goes through life without a scar.”  (Carol Burnett)

Jack went on to write about the scars of life both physical and mental. I remember my mother yelling at me to “stop picking at it; you’ll leave a scar”, when I scratched or picked at a scab that had formed over a wound. I still have a scar on one hand that was left when I got my hand caught in an old washing machine wringer (ask someone old what a wringer was on washing machines).

Not all of life’s scars are physical. In fact, most scars that we can look back upon are mistakreprobably painful memories etched in our minds from “wounds” that we received in life – rejections, bullying, failures or losses of loved ones. Those events in our lives all hurt at the time. Some of these things we may have “picked at” for a long time, resulting in big scars on our souls.

Maybe we just couldn’t let go of that person who rejected us or the loved one that we lost. We couldn’t find a place for them in our memories that wasn’t associated with pain. They left a scar on our lives. Perhaps we could not reach closure and move on to forgiveness for someone that bullied us or hurt us. Maybe we haven’t forgiven ourselves for some failure in life. We keep picking at those things and the scars just gets bigger.

Jack went on to write that Robert Schuler (a favorite of his) used to say, “Turn your scars into stars.” The way that you do that is to stop picking at those scars and focus instead helping handson forgiving those who may have caused you that pain or forgiving yourself for some perceived failure. In order to forgive others, you must first be able to forgive yourself. The path to forgiving yourself is accepting that God forgives us all first. Lex Luger put it this way – “God has forgiven me, which I am very thankful for. It has enabled me to forgive myself and move forward one day at a time.”

That doesn’t mean that the scars will go away; they won’t; but, they will take their rightful place in your memories. As Cheryl Rainfield  put it – “My scars show pain and suffering, but they also show my will to survive. They’re part of my history that’ll always be there.”

Why forgive? Because you must forgive in order to be able to move on with your life.

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the woman-prayingfuture.” – Bernard Meltzer. Without forgiveness you get stuck in the past, reliving those pains over and over. So, take my mom’s advice and “stop picking at” those old wounds. Let the scars form, forgive those involved in the pain and then move on.

“Remember, when you forgive, you heal. And when you let go, you grow.” – Haiku and KySSeS

 


Have a good laugh today…

December 10, 2018

The advice from the Jack’s Winning Words blog today it this quote – “Laughter is the best medicine, and the cool thing is, you can’t o.d. on it, and the refills are free.”  (Rob Paulsen)

I’m a believer in that advice. I have what has occasionally been called a wicked sense of humor. I see humor, sometimes dark humor in many things that happen during any given day. My tendency for witty retort or often blurting out something that I found to be funny used to get me into trouble at school. These days, as often as not, my wife will question why I am chuckling to myself and I will share with her the humorous (at least smiling dogto me) thought that just crossed my mind.

One must include the ability to laugh at yourself, in order for the healing effects of laughter to be complete. Being able to stop and say to yourself, “well, that was stupid” and then have a quick laugh is much better than getting down on yourself. We all tend to take ourselves and whatever it is that we are focused upon way to seriously. Lately me wife and I have taken to exchanging the little phrase, “At least nobody died” as a way to lighten moments of disappointment or self-recrimination for a mistake. Forcing yourself to put things in that context serves as an emotional relief valve to let the moment pass, whatever it was.

animated-light-bulb-gif-22There are things in life that make us smile, like seeing a cartoon of Snoopy dancing or even the original smiley-face emoji. We also need things that make us laugh. I remember many routines on the old Carol Burnet show that were so funny that even the cast was laughing while they tried to perform the routine. Tim Conway doing his little old man shuffle inevitably broke up Harvey Corman in those routines. My wife loves to watch reruns of the show Everybody Loves Raymond, because they make her laugh.

I’m sure that there are scientific explanations about why laughter is good for us; things talking about endorphins being released into our body. To me, the only thing that is important is that laughter breaks the tension of the day and allows us a momentary return to the innocence of childhood where life was much more fun and many things around us were fun and funny. To often, like the children who grew up in Peter Pan andsmiling-sun lost the ability to fly with him, we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves and the things around us. Recapture that ability. Go watch an old episode of a comedy show. Let go and laugh. Don’t worry, you can’t o.d. on it.

Here’s a little clip from the old Johnnie Carson show when Rodney Dangerfield visited. See if it make you laugh. Have a good laugh to start your week. It will set a great tone for the rest of the week.


Don’t allow yourself to be held down or back…

December 8, 2018

From a recent TV ad – “Live life anchors up” (Pacifico beer commercial slogan)

While that is a cute beer commercial slogan; it is really great advice for life. Too many people allow themselves to be held back or held down by “anchors” in their lives – guilt,baggage fears, self-doubt or perhaps the opinions of others. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t listen to common sense when it is trying to prevent you from doing something really stupid or self-destructive. That’s not self-doubt; that’s self preservation. Live Life anchors up.

Sometimes what we mistake for the restraint of common sense is really just a boundary or border into something unknown that should be explored or tried. Just because “nobody’s ever done that before” doesn’t mean that it can’t be done or shouldn’t be done. Nobody ever flew before the Wright Brothers decided to pull up the anchor of gravity and break through that boundary. There are tons of examples like that. Live life anchors up.

angry accuserSome go through their life held back by the opinions of others. They may here “You’ll never amount to anything” from their own family. They may be teased or bullied at school, perhaps because of how they look or act. Some overcome that or escape those anchors to go on to become famous actors/actresses, scientists or to excel in their field. There are also lots of stories about that in the stories about the lives of famous people. Live life anchors up.

In our more ordinary, day-to-day lives the anchors or boundaries that we might hit that hold us back are many time self-imposed. We don’t ask that person out because we fear rejection. We don’t ask for that raise because we have doubts about our worth to the company or the quality of our work. We become stuck in place; anchored by our fears and self-doubt. Live life anchors up.

So, how do you hoist those anchors and live the life that you’d rather have? I’ve writtenwalking man here before that you must first love yourself before you can love others or help others or become happy with your life. When faced with barriers we must replace fear and self-doubt with hope and hard work. We must turn guilt into resolve to do better next time. We must become focused upon forming our own opinions and learning from our mistakes, rather than wallowing in self-pity. Live life anchors up.

The best way that I know to let go of the anchors that may be holding you back is to get woman-prayingright with God and go with the flow that He has in mind for you. God is not an anchor holding you back; He is the wind taking you forward. Tell God, “I’m ready to pull up my anchors and go where you want me to go. I put my trust in you. Not my will, but thy will be done.” Then hold on for the journey through life  that you’ve been dreaming about. Live life anchors up.


Make a best choice…

December 3, 2018

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed used this little saying that he saw on a plaque somewhere – “You’ve got 3 choices in life: Give up, Give in, or Give it all you’ve got.” (Wall Plaque)

There are tons of those types of plaques and posters and other “motivational” materials out there and tossing off little sayings like that one is the fodder of most sports lockerVince Lombardi room talks. Legendary coach Vince Lombardi was a master at those types of sound bite, motivational advice. All of those sayings and plaques and posters are built around the same principal – that you alone are in control of your own destiny. The key thought is that if you give it all that you have, try your hardest and do your best, that you will achieve the things that you desire.

There is certainly merit in trying your hardest and doing the best that you can. Very little can be achieved without effort on your part; but, perhaps there is a fourth, and, I submit, the best, choice that you can make in life that would help you even more – give it to God. That is not to say that you can just pray, “OK, God, you got this” and then sit back and it will happen. That’s not how it works. Rather that you man prayingshould pray, “God give me the strength, perseverance and wisdom that will help me achieve my goals. Watch over me and guide me. Lift me up when I stumble. Keep me humble when I succeed. Help me to show the world your strength and glory through my actions. Most importantly, God; thy will be done.”

There’s a short phrase in sports that participants use when they need some assistance from a fellow player – “A little help here.” That what you are praying for when you give it to God – a little help here on earth. You see quite a few athletes pausing after a success,help-me like a touchdown run or catch, to point to heaven and thanking God. Their prayers were answered and they got that little help here in the game. Were they trying their hardest already? Probably, but it was that little something extra that made the difference.

Most of us aren’t athletes and most of what you might need help with is not a game. Maybe the help you need is with grief over the loss of a loved one. Perhaps you need a little help here to deal with depression or with your fears. Maybe you need to see a way out of where you find yourself and towards a better life. It could be that you are struggling with a debilitating health problem. You might be at the point of making those bored2first two choices to give up or give in, because you feel like you have given it your best and failed. You still have that fourth choice. You can still put your life in God’s hands and allow Him to give you that little help here. Try making that choice.

Once you put your life in God’s hands you will notice an immediate change. A great weight will be lifted from your shoulders. Your perspective on life and your priorities in life will change. Your outlook on life will emerge from the dark place that it had been living and a long-lost smile will return to your face. Good things will begin to happen insmell-the-roses your life and you will notice and appreciate them. You will again find beauty and satisfaction in the things and people around you. All because you made the fourth choice and gave your life to God. With God at your side, giving it all that you’ve got will bring new success and satisfaction.

So, you’ve got four choices in life. Make the best choice today…