You can’t stand pat…

February 27, 2019

In poker you can decide to do nothing and play the cards that you were dealt. It’s called standing pat. Sometimes in life we are dealt a hand that we like and perhaps we wish we could stand pat, but that is seldom possible, because life moves on and we must move on, too. In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed writes about choosing a way forward, using a quote from FDR – “There are many ways of moving forward, but only one way of standing still.”

There have been lots of songs written about trying to hold onto a time in life to to get back to one of those times. Jim Croce sang about trying to put time with someone he loved in a bottle and Cher lamented about turning back time. We don’t really have either of those options, so we are faced with making choices about which way to move forward.

mind at workSometimes we are faced with situations for which there just doesn’t seem to be a way forward that isn’t lined with danger or pain or fears. We become paralyzed by our fears, uncertainty and doubts. Our imaginations take over in those times and conjure up the worst possible outcomes. We envision failure, rather than visualizing success. During those times we may feel very alone, which adds to our fears.

It is during those darkest hours when we need to call upon our faith and lean on the one who will never leave us and always provide a way forward – God. I have posted here depression3many times about giving up the self-delusion that we are in control, that we can work our way out of whatever the situation is purely through our own efforts. Life is too big to get our arms around and control. We are swept along with events that occur around us and the only thing that we can perhaps control is how we react to them. We can’t stand pat. We must choose a way forward. Sometimes the only way to see that gods-hands-2way forward is to let God show us. Ask for His help and trust in Him to guide us forward.

We can’t stand pat; but, we don’t have to play the hand that we were dealt alone. Let God into your life and ask Him to show you the way forward. God doesn’t promise a way forward without pain or dangers or setbacks or even death; but, He does promise that you will get to where you are supposed to go and that He will stay with you every step of the way. You are not alone.

Find your path forward, today. Ask God for help.

It’s going to be a very pleasant spring…

February 25, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this reminder –   “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant”  (Anne  Bradstreet)

Given the recent weather and the icy conditions this winter, spring is going to feel especially nice this year.

In the quote that Jack used, Bradstreet went in to write, “;if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be as welcome.”

Even though winter can feel depressingly long at times, we know that spring will come, depression4things will change, flowers will bloom again and all will feel good again. So it is with life. It is hard to imagine getting through some things that occur in life, but we do. Life goes on and things get better. The pain of a loss dulls over time, replaced by fond memories. The sharp disappointment of a failure fades and is replaced by wisdom from the experience. The depressing weight of our fears, uncertainties and doubts give way to the joy of success in new experiences. It’s going to be a very pleasant spring.

Our ability to weather the winter months is bolstered by the certainty in our minds that spring will come. We believe that better weather is just ahead. We can bolster our abilitywoman-praying to get through the trials and tribulations of life by believing in God and his love for us. That belief helps us look forward to the better times ahead that He has promised. Our adversities melt away once we pray, “not my will but thy will be done”. We stop focusing upon the past and look once again to the future. It’s going to be a very pleasant spring.

We are perhaps tasting winter’s adversity right now, with ice, winds, and freezing temperature; however, somewhere is the back of our minds we can picture those first flowers in the iceflowers pushing their way through the snow to announce that spring is finally here. So, we soldier on, slogging through the slush or slipping along on the ice, in the certain belief that spring will arrive soon. In life, we go on in the certain belief that God is with us and that things will be all right if we just trust Him. We may be in the midst of a hardship or feeling the pain of some event in our lives; but we must continue to believe in God. It’s going to be a very pleasant spring.

So, hunker down today with your coffee (or whatever), listen to the wind howling through the trees and watch the salt trucks rumble by trying to keep the roads clean. Today may be another miserable winter day, but it does get us closer to the spring that we know is coming. Say a little prayer and ask God for the strength to weather another day of adversity in your life, in the certainty that…

It’s going to be a very pleasant spring.

Lead with your heart…your head will catch up

February 20, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this bit of advice –

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”  (Donald Laird)

It is always good advice to use your head to maintain control of yourself, especially before you do things that you might regret, like speaking when listening is what is best. We tend to associate things like logic and intelligence with the head, while the heart isvisualization associated with empathy and emotions. Where things like prejudices and hate come from is a mystery, since they defy real logic and certainly don’t express empathy. They are perhaps closer to emotions that are based upon imagined fears.  Those feelings live in a dark place in our heads and had to be put there by someone, since they are not innate within people. Fears and prejudices cause us to avoid or hate the things or people associated with them for no logical reason.

The first step to overcoming one’s fears and prejudices is to use your head to acknowledge that you have them; then let your heart take over to deal with them in the predjuicesspecific instance that you are facing. We tend to hate or fear people in large, blurry groups that we classify as “they” or “them”. It is somehow easier to lump large numbers of people into those prejudiced categories in those dark places in our minds. We think that “all” of a certain type of people present a danger to us; and thus, are to be avoided.  We immediately think that everyone who displays certain characteristics of appearance or behavior is one of “them” and by association inherits all of the other characteristics that we have loaded on that group in our minds.

When circumstances bring us face to face with someone from one of our feared/prejudice groups the outcome is most often very different than we initially image.handshake We discover the individual, rather than the group. Our heart takes over and allows us to see the fellow human being that is there, rather than the group characteristics that the prejudices in our head may initially associate with them.  That pause allows the head to kick in again and to begin having an intelligent interaction with the person, rather than one driven by fears.

Perhaps the best advice is that in the headline for today’s post. Lead with your heart when dealing with others. Let’s your heart’s natural instinct for empathy and listenfriendliness initiate the encounters that you have with others during the day. Let your heart tell you when it’s best to just listen and commiserate, rather than letting your brain start running your mouth. Your brain may come up with all sorts of things to say that it thinks will be interesting, but your heart will tell you that what the other person may need  right now is someone to just listen.

So, resolve to lead with your heart today. Give everyone you encounter the benefit of the doubt, rather than automatically categorizing them into some prejudice group based upon their appearance. Start off with the attitude that this person you just met is this-is-mesomeone who may become a friend, rather than someone to be feared and avoided.  Lead with your heart. Don’t worry, your head will catch up.

Who do you think you are?

February 19, 2019

Have you ever had someone ask you that question? Often the question is asked right after you’ve tried to do something that is reserved for others, perhaps for dignitaries or famous people. Or, maybe you’ve tried to cut into a line, like the football player in the pizza commercial. You’ve tried to claim a privilege that you are not due. Who do you think you are?

In today’s post to his blog Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote –  “The difference between you and God is that God doesn’t believe he’s you.”  (Anne Lamott)

It’s not so much that we actually believe that we are God as it is that we tend to try to control things in our lives as if we were God. We try to bend things to our will. As Jack put it in his post, we tend to pervert the Lord’s prayer to read “My will be done.” Who do you think you are?

arrogantWhen God gave humankind free will, it also gave birth to man’s ego and that ego grew to believe that men could control their own destinies. One perversion of thinking that comes out of this ego-driven way of thinking is the confusion over what things are privileges and what things are rights. Men who develop God complexes often believe that everything they are doing is their right. It is that ability to forget who we are and assume privileges as rights that allowed the settlers of America to displace the Native Americans that they found here. The settlers and those who followed claimed that it was their “manifest destiny” to take the land. The Native Americans were asking all along- Who do you think you are?

The same God-like ego allowed the introduction of slavery into America. After all, the slave owners told themselves, these slaves were not men and women like us. There was certainly a lot of precedence in the Bible for slavery and, after all, they were God’s good preacher-pointingChristians, so it was OK. The slaves had a different view of things and asked, Who do you think you are?

In today’s world, we have many people in business and government who assume the mantle for God to tell us what is good for us. They see nothing wrong with raising the price of a drug by 1,000% or evicting homeless people from the hovels in which they found shelter. They pass laws that they say will prevent us from harming ourselves or push products upon us for conditions that we did not know we had. They see nothing wrong with depleting our natural resources and polluting our environment. They get indignant when we ask, Who do you think you are?

Yet, that is the question that we need to continue to ask- of them and of ourselves. It man prayingstarts with getting your own head straight about who you are and how you relate to God. Once you figure out the part about “Thy will be done”; then you can ask the real questions, “How can I help? What is my role?” First, you must correctly answer the question, “Who do you think you are?” Then you are ready to say to God, “Here I am, send me.”

So, think about it, before you set out on another day, Who do you think you are?

Start your day with love and the rest will take care of itself.

February 18, 2019

Think about how much better your days will go if you take the time each morning to refresh your feeling of God’s love for you and your love for yourself. Start by remembering that God loves you unconditionally and is always with you. Then take the time to reinforce your love for yourself, who you are, what you are where you are and where you are going. You must first love yourself, before you can love others.

One of the better self-help books ever written is the 1967 book I’m OK You’re OK by Thomas Harris. Harris wrote the book as a practical guide to transactional analysis as a method for solving problems in life – how to get along with others. The key to the advice in Harris’ Book may be found in the first two words of title – I’m OK. That part is saying, “I love myself”. Only then can you move on to the “You’re OK” part. The book, and the courses that are taught from it, teach how to accept and interact with others in or day-to-day world, by recognizing and accepting where you and they are coming from in any interaction.

So, it is important, before you go out in the world and start encountering others and situations that you must deal with, that you establish in your own mind that you are OK; that you love yourself for who you are and are therefore able to love others for who they are. It is much easier to love yourself, if you are not carrying around a big load of guilt – guilt that you feel for something that you did or left undone. That is why acknowledging all of your sins, transgressions, omissions or whatever and asking for God’s forgiveness will give you the foundation upon which you can then build your love of self and face the new day with confidence and a positive attitude.

There is, in that moment of prayer, a point at which you feel the load of your sins being lifted from you and you feel the sense of self-loathing being replaced by self-loving.  That is your “I’m OK” moment. Keep that feeling with you throughout the day and the rest of the day will be OK, too. It all starts with love – love of God and God’s love back to you.

Try it. You will be OK.

Love today and be loved…

February 14, 2019

From today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this –

“There is only one happiness in life: to love and to be loved.”  (George Sand)

Jack went on to reveal that George Sand was actually a 19th century female poet who was a romantic rebel (she also smoked cigars and wore trousers).  She and Frédéric Chopin were once “an item.” 

“George” probably didn’t write those words for a Valentine’s Day card; although they have become quite popular as a Valentine’s Day quote. Valentine’s Day, like so many other holidays started out as a religious celebration of St. Valentine and had devolved into a commercialized, secular day. Of course, certain merchants love that and it does provide a small boost to the economy, sort of like St. Patrick‘s Day, which is coming up in mid-March. I guess we need things like that to break up the winter doldrums.

happy dogBack to today’s saying. Giving and receiving love applies not only to human relationships, but to those between humans and their pets. That’s why the unconditional love that a dog can show its owner is so powerful and satisfying. Maybe not so much (or at least not quite as unconditional) for cats.

For those in a loving relationship with a partner, the sense of happiness comes also with a sense of comfort and safety and commitment. One finds contentment in the arms of a loved one and a sense that the world around you melts away into the background. There is an overwhelming sense of relief and satisfaction in finding that special person withpraying-together whom you are able to open your soul and allow yourself to become vulnerable – to share unconditional love. Perhaps that is why relationships that sour are so painful, that sense of betrayal of the thrust that you placed in that person.

For those still searching for that one true love of your life, keep the faith. Love is out there somewhere for you. You must be willing to take a few chances, suffer a few bruises and put yourself out there a few times in order to find your soulmate. In our youth, we often mistake passion for love, only to be disappointed once the passion cools. As we grew a bit older and a lot wiser, we begin to understand how to see the true beauty in people and how to identify true love.

valewntines day themeSo, live, laugh and love this Valentine’s Day. Exchange cards and candy and chocolate covered strawberries. Embrace that special person in your life and be happy that he/she is yours and you are theirs. Love and be loved. Feel the happiness that a shared unconditional love can bring.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Are you thinking positively?

February 13, 2019

From a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought – “Positive thinking is not about expecting the best to happen every time, but accepting that whatever happens is the best for that moment.”  (Lori Schneider) Are you thinking positively?

There are tons of books and thousands of motivational speakers all of which talk about the power of positive thinking. I’ve even posted bout it here a few times, usually following a theme of having a positive attitude. As I looked back over a few of those posts and as I look at today’s quote, one word stands out across them all – “accepting”.

One of the key sources of frustration, anger and even depression in people is the inyoung-woman-furious ability or unwillingness to accept things as they happen. We rail against the storm and refuse to accept the outcomes of life. We question why they have happened to us and why our God would allow them to happen. The really pathetic thing is that we allow small setbacks or issues in life to become the things that drive us to take actions that mostly make things worse.

A snub at a social event or the rejection of a romantic invitation may become the spark that ignites a bitter feud or causes a friendship or relationship to dissolve. Being passed over for a promotion at work may cause a funk that leads to depression and hurts our bored2home life, sometimes leading all the way to divorce.  Maybe the death of a loved one causes us to question our faith instead of leaning on it for strength. We just can’t accept these things or other happenings in life. We can’t figure out the answer to the question, “Why?”

By using the word “accepting”, I’m not advocating that you give in to a temporary setback or defeat in life, only that you accept that it happen, put it into proper perspective and move on with life. I wrote a post here last August titled “Did anybody die?” that focused upon dealing with many of the smaller issues in life that we tend to obsess over in our day to day lives. That post was aimed at people who tend to let the small failures that occur in their day to day lives get to them – being late for a meeting, missing a small milestone or perhaps even a small rejection or snub. Positive thinkers don’t dwell on the last failure or snub, they focus on what needs to be done to make the future better.

The thing that holds us back from accepting things and moving on with life is our need mystery personfor closure, our need to try to understand, our search for an answer to why things happened or perhaps our search for someone to blame for what has happened. I wrote about that back in 2016 in the post “Are you moving on?” If we are to become positive thinkers we must be moving on and not let ourselves get stuck in the past or present, mired down by doubts, anger or fears.

One of the most powerful tools that you have at your disposal for overcoming life’s curve balls and setbacks is your faith. Faith makes you strong enough to absorb the blows that life lands on you and allows you to keep focusing upon the future. Ralph Abernathy once said – “I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”

Faith allows you to accept things by saying/praying to God, “I don’t understand why this woman-prayinghappened, but I accept that is part of your plan for me. Give me the strength to get through this and to go on in life.” If the pain that you are enduring is caused by the loss of a loved one, refocus on all of the good times and good memories that you had with them. Those times were God’s gifts to both of you.

The bottom line on all of this is that positive thinking is not starting each day with the attitude that everything is going to come up roses and that no bad things will happen in your life. Rather it is starting out each day with the attitude that you are ready to deal with anything that life brings you way today in a manner that give you the best possible outcome. Sometimes that is just being able to put it behind you and move on.

gods-hands-2Have a great and positive day today and remember what Ralph Abernathy said about your future. You are in good hands (not an Allstate commercial).

Think positively.

Seek wisdom within…

February 12, 2019

Today may end up being another of those days when one ends up with time for introspection. It’s either that or go shovel the snow and ice; and I’m not ready to shovel, yet.

Perusing through some quotes about wisdom, I happened upon these two –

 “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ― Rumi

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”  ― Aristotle

There were also a number of quotes on wisdom that pointed to the same conclusion – namely, that realizing that you know nothing is the start of wisdom.

protestersI suspect that many of us when through a “change the world phase” in our lives, maybe more than one. It is only later in life that we realize that we were trying to make the world over into something of our own desires and not necessarily for the betterment of humankind. Of course, at the time we firmly believed that what we wanted was for the good of humankind. Hubris always seems to precede humility in life.

As one ages, there is more time spent on the topic of knowing yourself and hopefully on becoming comfortable with that self-knowledge. I’ve posted here a few times on the topic of knowing, accepting and loving yourself before you can love others – see I Like Me and Just be Yourself, both of which I wrote back in 2014.

Maybe you can turn this snow day into a know day. Spend some time just with yourself,bored with your thoughts and dreams and with your fears and fantasies. Get to know yourself and try to better understand how those inner feelings influence how you react to the people and things going on around you.

The more honest insight into yourself that you can achieve, the better equipped you will be to deal with the things that happen in life; and, the more that you selfie stickan come to love yourself, the more able you will be to love others. I posted “Take a Life Selfie” here back in 2017 and maybe it’s worth a re-read today, too. It’s certainly a day when you may have time for taking that life selfie and reflecting upon it.

Have a reflective day.

I hope you end up happy with what you see in your life selfie.


Have great day…it’s your choice

February 11, 2019

We tend to toss off the little phrase, “Have a great day”, without giving it much thought. When you stop and think about it; no matter what happens, it is up to each of us to make it a good day. That has as much to do with our initial attitude and our reaction to events, as it does with the things that might occur during the day. It’s your choice.

There is an old saying, “he/she must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed this morning”. That saying is use to describe someone who starts their day is a bad or down mood. When you wake up in the morning, do you have some immediate reaction to the bored2day? Are you happy? Are you apprehensive? Are you still mad about something that happened yesterday? Are you sad about some loss? IF any of these or other negative moods describe how you woke up, it’s time to do an attitude reset before you face the day. Maybe you should take a moment to thank God that you woke up to another day. Whatever it was that put you in this mood, didn’t kill you; and that’s a good thing. So, thank God for being alive. It’s your choice.

The next step may be to stop and recognize that you are feeling sad/depressed/hurt/anxious – whatever, and ask yourself why. What is it that happened yesterday (before) that put you in this mood? Whatever it was, it is now behind you and continuing to dwell upon it is not doing you any good; so try to put it in perspective and move on. Yes, that loss was painful but you still have your happy memories of that crying-4person and they will live on forever. Sure that comment that someone made was hurtful, but it didn’t reflect the real you and how you feel about yourself, so let it go. They just need to get to know you better. Yes, that big presentation that you have to do today is important and your performance will be evaluated; but, you are ready and confident in yourself and you will get through it just fine. Maybe you did let yourself slip into the dungeon of depression for a while, but you are not trapped there, the door is open and the way out is right in front of you…it’s your choice.

So, take some time this morning and every morning to stop and consider that how the day turns out will be based upon your attitude when you start and your reaction to the man prayingevents of the day. You do not have to face the day with a victim’s mentality. Face it instead with the positive attitude of someone who is ready and able to make of the day what you want it to be. Perhaps you can begin with a little prayer – “Thank you God for letting me have another day. Let’s go out together and make this a great day.” With God at your side, I don’t think you can have a bad day…it’s your choice.

Have a great week ahead…it’s your choice!attitude-2

Try one more time…

February 8, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “When the world says, ‘Give up,’ hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.’”   (Unknown)

One can draw inspiration to overcome adversity or chase away the blues from many different sources, but they all boil down to the same thing – to try one more time.

Perhaps you have exhausted yourself trying to accomplish a seemingly impossible task woman-prayingat home or at work. Maybe it looks like failure is the only path ahead. Perhaps you are ready to give up. If you take the time to pause and seek the help of God, that small whisper that you hear may be Him telling you that you are not alone and that you should try one more time.

Sometimes in that pause to seek help, you also conclude that you should try something different this time. That is the voice of wisdom breaking through. There is a definition of insanity that talks about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Great athletes who perfect a skill through repetitive practice will always be trying something different as they practice, because they are always trying to get a better result, not the same result. When they fail, they always try one more time.

Sometimes depression can creep into the lives of people with seemingly sunny dispositions. It may sneak in through the door of self-doubt or perhaps be thrust upon depression4you by an insensitive or hurtful comment from someone. Perhaps some physical event in your life has left you feeling different, maybe with less energy or even in constant pain. You might begin to think that you should just give up or give in to the feeling or the pain; but then something happens – perhaps a kind word or deed from a stranger or some small sign, like a rainbow after a storm appears– and you know at that moment that you’ve got to try one more time.

I recalled, while writing this, that post that I wrote back in  January of 2014 about the single candlestory of the four candles. In that story the candles represented peace, faith, love and hope and the story told how the first three may have been extinguished by circumstances in our lives; however, if hope was kept alive,  the others could once again burn in our lives – 

If you visit my blog do a search using the word “hope” as the key word and you will find that I have written many times about it, usually also linked to faith.  Try one more time.

So, don’t give up, don’t give in and don’t quit. Listen instead for that whisper from God, hold tight onto your hope, and try one more time.