June 26, 2019
From today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this inspiration – “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” (Tom Brokaw)
We begin each day faced with lots of choices – what to wear, what to have for breakfast, what route to take to work and many more. Add to that list the simple question, “What can I do to make a difference today?” and maybe that will put you in the right frame of mind to go out and make that difference. Making the world a better place is a pretty big difference making challenge to throw at yourself the first thing in the morning; so. maybe start with the goal of just making a positive difference in someone else’s life. Something as small as a smile and a friendly “Hello” or holding a door open for someone can make his or her day better. Acts of kindness and consideration make a difference, one person at a time. Will you make a difference today?
If you have a goal to make the world a better place through some larger change, keep in mind that those changes take longer and that you may only be able to accomplish small increments on any given day. Keep at it, even though the evidence of change that day may be imperceptible. Persistence goes hand-in-hand with making a difference. Maybe you are collecting signatures for some ballot initiative and today your goal is to get another 10-20 signatures. Keep at it. You are making a difference, however small today. Maybe you are saving your change each day, so that you can contribute to a worthy cause. Keep at it. Your nickels and pennies are adding up. Maybe you only have a little time after work that you can devote to helping coach a little league team or perhaps help at a local food bank or shelter. It makes a difference that you are spending that time making a difference in the lives of others. Will you make a difference today?
If you are hungry and I give you food; does that make a difference in your life? If you are cold and I give you a coat to wear; does that make a difference in your life? If you have nowhere to sleep tonight and I contribute to the local shelter; does than make a difference to you? If you are seriously injured and you receive the pint of blood that I gave at the Red Cross; does that make a difference to you? If you suffered through a tornado that destroyed your home and the Red Cross uses the money that I contributed to provide you with shelter; does that make a difference to you? Making a difference comes in all sizes and forms; however, it almost always starts with a single person making the decision to make a difference by giving or their money or time. Will you make a difference today?
We often start our day by praying for God’s help in our own lives. We pray for the strength or courage or wisdom to get through a tough problem at home or at work. Maybe we pray for success in our business life or for help in resolving a conflict in our personal life. How many of us pray for the opportunity to help make a difference in someone else’s life? That opportunity is the chance today for you to meet Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 25 – For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. When the disciples said that they had seen or done none of that, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Will you take the opportunity to meet Jesus today? Will you make a difference today?
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Posted by Norm Werner
June 21, 2019
From a post, some time ago on the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought – “Generosity lies less in giving much than in giving at the right moment.” (Jean de La Bruyère)
I would submit that the time is always now – when you see the need, be generous. It is all too easy to pass by the beggar on the corner or homeless person and think I’ll give some day or I’ll stop and help next time I see them. Perhaps it hits you as you pass them bye, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” If so, then let that grace show thought in your generosity, right then. Maybe you won’t have enough left for your double latte with whipped cream on the way to work, but you’ll feel a lot better all day long than that latte would have made you feel.
Generosity doesn’t always have to involve giving money. Many times what is needed is your time. Volunteering at your local shelter or food bank or at a homes for habitat project is being generous with what is arguably your most precious asset – your time. There are too many opportunities to volunteer in every community to list. Much of the “work” that needs to get done doesn’t involve anything strenuous. I know of one local volunteer who spends time at nursing homes reading books to the residents. Sometimes just being there to visit someone who is shut in is the task that need to be accomplished. Just pick one or a few and be generous with your time.
When Jesus was leaving the disciples, after his death and resurrection, he gave them a new commandment – “Love one another as I have loved you” John 15:12
There is no better way to show your love for your fellow man than to give generously of your money and time to help those in need. There is no better time to be generous than now – when you see the need. Find your way to be generous this weekend.
The moment is right.
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Posted by Norm Werner
June 20, 2019
Two posts in the Jack’s Winning Words blog that I get every day seemed destined to be in juxtaposition–
“My mom used to say, ‘No one is worthless, Jonny, they can at least be a good bad example.” (Jon Hanson)
“There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, and those who do not see.” (Leonardo da Vinci)
Jonny’s mom knew that she was speaking of people who just don’t see. They refuse to see that the things that they may do or say out of prejudice or fear could be hurtful or maybe they just don’t care. They become the bad example that makes the newscast at night or that others use as an example of bad behavior. They are the people that give terms like “bigot” or “charlatan” or “sex offender” a face and form. We know who they are and in most cases, they know who they are. They have been shown, but they just don’t care.
In order not to join that group, one must at least be a person of the second type that Leonardo mentioned – someone who sees once they are shown. Many of us grew up in homes where there may have been prejudices expressed and perhaps even acted out. I certainly did. Once I started thinking and seeing for myself, I was able to sort out the truth about those prejudices from the fears that they were based upon. Vestiges of those early knee-jerk reactions to certain people or things remain in the back of my mind, but I am now able to see them for what they were. I hope I have not been the good bad example in front of my children, grandchildren and others. I try not to be.
There are special glasses that are used by various groups against drug and alcohol use that demonstrate the impact of alcohol on the body by distorting what you see so completely that you cannot do simple tasks like putting colored pegs in holes on a board, even though you can “see” through the glasses. Prejudices are like that for your life. They are the lens that you see life through that distort things and render you unable to function properly. Once you understand how to stop looking at life through those lenses, you can actually “see” the people and things that you are interacting with and life becomes much richer. Hopefully, you will come to understand if you are wearing those lenses or someone will tell you and then you will see.
What type of person are you? Do you see or at least consider and see things differently if you are told; or, are you so stuck in your ways that you cannot bring yourself to see any alternative to your set beliefs? When you encounter someone who is different from you, do you have an immediate reaction that dictates how you interact (or avoid interacting) with them? Have you thought about that? Has anyone told you that your preconceived notions are wrong? Can you see that it is wrong or at least wrong not to be open-minded enough to re-evaluate why you are reacting like that? Don’t be the good bad example. Take off the glasses of your prejudices and see?
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Posted by Norm Werner
June 18, 2019
A post some time ago on the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this little gem – “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
That got me to thinking that it also isn’t just about looking in the same direction but moving in that direction – taking life’s journey together. You often hear from divorcing couples that they are going in different directions and that may be a very apt description of what has happened in their lives. The common direction that they thought that they had, based upon physical attraction and the heat of passion, turned out not to be the way they wanted to go, once the passion cooled and time started to take its toll physically. It’s all about the journey together.
True love is not about the heat of the moment but about the journey through life. It is about being able to reach to your side when you are uncertain or afraid and grasp the hand of the one person that you know will be there for you and with you. It is about sharing moments, both proud and disappointed, and events both good and bad It is about supporting and being supported. . It’s about being able to look back and smile at what you’ve been through together and look ahead in anticipation of all the wonderful things yet to come. It’s all about the journey together.
One hears often from long time partners the phrase, “I couldn’t have done it without him/her.” Unsaid is the thought that I wouldn’t have wanted to do it without that partner. God knew that Adam needed a partner in life and created Eve. Ever since then, men have sought their partners for life’s journey. When it is real and lasting, we call that bond love. It’s all about the journey together.
Have you found your life partner for the journey through life? I’ve been with mine for 53
“Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.
years now and we’re still looking forward together. Enjoy your journey through life with someone that you love. It’s all about the journey together.
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Posted by Norm Werner
June 17, 2019
From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this piece of advice from Tim Conway – “I’ve never really taken anything very seriously. I enjoy life, because I really enjoy making other people enjoy it.”
Tim Conway was my favorite cast member on the old Carol Burnett show. He portrayed many clueless characters and often brought the other cast members to tears of laughter during routines that they were trying hard to get through. What a great philosophy for life – to have fun by helping others have fun.
Most of us need to lighten up a bit (some a lot) in our lives and stop taking ourselves so seriously. Very few things in life are truly life or death situations and even in those cases there is humor to be found, if one looks with the right attitude. The heavy burdens that we think we are bearing in life are often of our own making. Some of us are way too critical of ourselves and way too serious about things that mean little to others. We beat ourselves up more often than life deals us real blows.
So; before we start out on a new week, perhaps we should lighten up and give ourselves a break. Then, maybe we can start to enjoy life more. I’ve posted here several times that taking a little time for prayer first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day. It’s a little easier to face the day in a good mood, once you have gotten yourself right with God and accepted His forgiveness and love in return. Maybe then you can focus upon making others’ day better, too.
There are many ways to share the good news of Jesus and God. One of the best is to be a living example of the happiness that comes with acceptance of God in your life. You don’t have to go around preaching all day or standing on a soapbox loudly proclaiming God’s love – just show it in the way that you live and the way that you interact with others. The message will get across.
Lighten up and enjoy the week ahead. Makes a few more people smile.
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Posted by Norm Werner
June 15, 2019
It seems that everything is a “hack” these days. The use of the term hack is getting a bit hackneyed, i.e. overused, overworked, overdone, worn out, timeworn, platitudinous, vapid, stale, tired, threadbare. Hack that all you marketing types who can’t think of a better way to say something than to call it a hack. This morning I even got and email from L.L. Bean with the headline “Camping Hacks”. It was about camping gear and clothing that they sell.
What the heck is a hack, anyway? If you look up the term hack the definitions tend to center around the original computer terms for illegally gaining entry into a system or program. The more traditional definition of crudely chopping away at something is also there. What’s not there is a definition that covers the current use of the term as somehow representing a new of different way of doing something or using something. Hacks for living seems to be a very modern and inventive way of using the word. It apparently is supposed to be shorthand for describing something that the writer didn’t want to take the time to write out, so it becomes a hack. According to the web site Daily Writing Tips, The term hack, which entered general usage with a new, nontechnological sense of “solution” or “work-around,” as in the phrase “life hack”.
Our language is full of terms that seem to come and go with each new generation. Many of them last only a short time before that are discarded onto the junk heap of misused and overused words. I’m sure that hack has already peaked and is on it’s way out; however, for now, we all have to put up with lazy writers of ads and other material using this convenient term instead of taking the time to write out a complete thought.
I guess I was never on the hack bandwagon, so my headline today is not accurate. I could describe the type of posts that I normally place here as “life hacks”, but I won’t. They are usually just common sense advice written from a faith-based point of view. I suppose a belief in God is the ultimate life hack, since that is the solution to most of life’s perceived problems.
So hack your day by starting off with a little prayer time with the ultimate life hacker – God. Have a great weekend, fellow hackers!
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Posted by Norm Werner
June 14, 2019
A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this little tidbit of wisdom – “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” (Anne Lamott) Jack’s post went on to explain that re-booting things like computers or smartphones often fixes glitches that develop over time. I’ve certainly noticed that with my own computer and phone. Have you? I’ve noticed that those devices just seem to get overwhelmed or confused sometimes and turning them off and then back on seems to resolve that confusion and allow them to function properly again.
A point that Jack also made was that we all need to make time to reboot ourselves – to take time away from the demands of day to day life, to let our minds settle and to get a fresh start. That is easier said than done in today’s 24/7 world, where we seem to always be booked with something that “we have to do”. Weekends, which used to be times to relax, are now times of constant activities. We have golf tee times or a tennis court reserved; we have to get out on the boat; we have children in sports or dance or other competitive activities. If there is not a weekend tournament, there is practice to get to or something that we need to go buy “for the team”. We don’t have time for church on Sunday morning because that’s when the big tournament is or that’s when the team could get ice time at the rink. It’s go, go, go all weekend long. Some even welcome Mondays, so that they can get back to the comfort of work.
Then there is the influence of technology on our lives. When we have a moment, we spend it staring down at our phone to see what might be going on that we missed. We schedule our lives there in our calendar apps and our lives are chronicled and shared there on the various social media that we use. It seems so important to us that we also check to see what others are doing and sharing about their lives that we have little time left for anything else.
Yet, we need to make time to unplug from this world, to reboot ourselves. Maybe you are the type of person who will have to put this time into your calendar in order to actually do it; maybe not. One good way to make that time and use that time is to set aside a short period for prayer each day. Starting each day with some prayer time is a good way to do that; but, it can be any time during the day.
Why use that time for prayer? Because it forces us to stop and step back from the world for a few minutes and acknowledge something that is bigger and more important than anything else going on in your life at the moment. It provides some perspective on things and it allows the calming and clearing of the mind. It allows you to reboot. Just taking time for that quiet little prayer that I like to use – “Not my will; but, thy will be done” – seems to work wonders for me.
There is a little plaque on our kitchen wall that says, “Take time for quiet moments, for the world is loud and God whispers.” You really need to make time for those quiet moments in your life, so that you can listen for the whispers of God in your life. Don’t worry; everything else in life will wait for you to reboot. Have a peaceful weekend and find time to listen for the whisper.
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Posted by Norm Werner
June 12, 2019
In today’s post to his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – Jack Freed shared this thought from Dolly Parton – “If you see someone without a smile, give ‘em yours.” Jack went on to write that recent studies have shown that people are less happy today than they were in the 1990’s. Although he didn’t mention why that is true, he did echo Dolly’s advice about taking the time to listen to those that you encounter during the day and sharing a smile where needed.
As a society, we have become a bit more introverted and insular. I blame the rise of the smartphone for at least some of that. We have allowed ourselves to be captivated and captured by a device that steals time away from everything else, including our interactions with other human beings. Me may not even notice the frown or sadness on the face of those that we encounter because we are too busy looking at our phones. We certainly don’t take the time to ask what is wrong, and since we can’t Google that, we just move on to the next attention grabber that shows up on our screen.
So, perhaps the first step to all of us getting better and having smiles would be to put down those smartphones and take a good look at what is going on around us. Step two might be to make sure that we put a smile on our own face. I’ve posted here a few times about loving yourself before you can share love with others (see the post Start your day with love and the rest will take care of itself). So take a moment, before you set out on your day, to find that love of self and who you are that will put a smile on your face. Many times that may involve taking time for a short prayer of thanks to God for another day. Acknowledging and accepting the love of God each day allows you to also love yourself and then to be ready to share that love with others.
Back to the thought of the day about sharing a smile. In order to share your smile you need to do a little more than just smile at someone, although that helps, too. Perhaps your smile is the icebreaker that allows you to ask, “How are you doing?” or even “Is there something troubling you that I might be able to help with?” That might be awkward with a total stranger, but many of the people that you encounter won’t be total strangers. Finding a way to initiate a conversation will allow you to find out what may be troubling them. Even if you can’t really do anything to help in the situation; just giving them an outlet to talk about whatever it is that is troubling them will help. You can be empathetic and supportive, even if you can’t solve the problem. Sometimes they may just need a shoulder to cry on or a good hug of reassurance.
So, always carry a spare smile and be ready to share it with others who might need it today. You have more and they need the one on your face more than you do, right now. Put away your smartphone and look around you for those who might need to borrow your smile. When you find them and give them your smile, you’ll find that God immediately puts another smile on your face so you can continue His work in the world.
Share a smile today!
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Posted by Norm Werner
June 11, 2019
From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this bit of advice – “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” (Harper Lee)
I’m glad that Harper Lee used the word “consider”; rather than “see”, because it is both literally and figuratively impossible for us to see things from another person’s point of view. We all “see” and interpret the things that we see through the filters of preconditioning, prejudices and prior knowledge. Unless we stop and make the conscious effort to consider what we are seeing differently, we run on autopilot and let those filters direct our thinking about what we are seeing/hearing/experiencing.
Sometimes the filters that interpret our experiences set us on high alert. We are fearful or wary without really understanding why. Sometimes our preconditioning leads us to be judgmental without any supporting evidence that would lead to that conclusion. Perhaps we are dismissive of a suggestion or a person, not because we have any real reason to be, but just because…
This rush to judgement, or fear, or whatever the reaction, can be particularly true when meeting people. Our eye allow us to “see” what kind of person they are, without even talking to them. We check their clothes their appearance and their demeanor before we are even within hearing distance. If we see signs that alarm us, we immediately rush to judgement and become fearful, defensive or worse. In many cases that means that an opportunity to meet someone that is really quite interesting and worth knowing is lost before it gets a chance.
So, it is worthwhile to stop and think about Harper Lee’s advice as we go through the day. In the Buddhist world there are terms for this – it is called mindfulness or awareness. Unfortunately, most of us go through the day blissfully unaware of the filters that are controlling our encounters with others. We may become aware that we are a bit frightened by or not at ease with someone, but we don’t stop to consider why that reaction has overcome us.
Perhaps in our minds an encounter with someone immediately conjures up words or thoughts or reactions that flood our minds. But why? Stop and consider that first and maybe you’ll take the next step, which is realizing that those initial reactions have no basis in what is happening now and are just preconceptions and prejudices at work in your mind.
You will never be able to understand the perspective that the other person has on life or the reasons behind why they choose to dress or act like they do; however, you can understand and control how you react to them and how they appear to you. You can decide not to let the filters of prejudices and preconception color your view of them. You can decide not to rush to a judgement before you’ve even had time to interact with them.
At least stop to consider as your day goes on and see if your perspective on things doesn’t change for the better. You might be surprised how many interesting people you can meet that way. You might also begin to appreciate how much richer your view of the world becomes once you remove the filters through which you have been viewing it. Have a wonderfully rich ad non-judgmental day.
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Posted by Norm Werner
June 5, 2019
From today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this quote – …“The world is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel.” (Horace Walpole)
The world has become much too scary a place recently to laugh at, especially right here in the United States. With the loss of civility in our country has come the return of the Wild Wild West mentality that seeks to resolve issue with guns and mayhem. Unfortunately, as a nation we have a long history of bowing to corporate and other special interest groups until it is too late and people have died. We bought into the message through much of the 20th Century that Dupont and other chemical companies could bring us “Better living through chemistry”. We now know that they brought us almost indestructible cancer causing chemicals and pesticides.
Certainly the pharmaceutical industry, the automotive industry and many other industries have always put the interests of profit above our safety and have lobbied our politicians successfully to look the other way and ignore us, too. Perhaps no lobbying group has been more successful at preventing or delaying changes that would help make us safer that the gun lobby. Even in the face of multiple mass shootings year after year, the NRA has been successful in blocking any and almost all attempts to limit access to and ownership of weapons that have no purpose other than to wreak havoc. The thought of a hunter stalking a deer through the forest with his semi-automatic assault weapon, so that he can unload a full banana clip into the hapless animal is ridiculous; yet the NRA continues to defend the sporting nature of ownership of assault weapons.
I won’t even start on the circus that is going on in Washington. Both thinking and feeling people have to be crying at that mess. Fortunately, we have another opportunity in 2020 to correct some of that and perhaps return to at least a sane approach to the governing of our country. Until then, the nightly news will continue to be a litany of mass shootings and goofiness, prejudice and hatefulness from the clowns in Washington.
Until changes occur to return a semblance of sanity and civility to our country, there is a tendency to just hunker down and wait things out. That is not the right thing to do. There are many needs at local levels, from helping people recover from severe weather events to doing what you can to aid those in needs of food and shelter in your area. You may not be able to fix things at the national or world level, but you can reach out and touch those at your local level who need help. If enough people did that, things would start to change at the higher levels, too.
So, turn off the TV news. You know that it’s going to have stories about some mass shooting somewhere or some stupid thing that those in Washington just did. Instead, pick up your local paper and see what groups are asking for volunteers to help distribute food or to provide shelter or perhaps to offer help and counseling to troubled youth. Find a role and a place to help someone else. You may still have a need to cry, when you see how big the need is; but, you’ll end up smiling at the end of the day that you helped fulfill that need.
Yes, the world is not a funny place; but it needn’t all be a tragedy either – you can make a difference in your little patch of the world. Just do it!
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Posted by Norm Werner