Make the best of what life gives you…

February 28, 2021

I was searching for inspiration this morning when I ran across this John Wooden quote – “Things Work Out Best For Those Who Make The Best Of How Things Work Out.”

I love how the words flow in that quote and the underlying psychological advice. None of us can really control the things that happen to us in life, but we can control how we react to those things. Accepting that reality is the first step to making the best of what happens to us in life.

Instead of sinking into despair at life’s setbacks, no matter how bad, one must continue to search for the best path forward from where one find’s oneself. It is the ability to accept setbacks in life as a learning experiences and to adjust your approach to resolving the problem at hand that, so that you can make progress, that separates the winners in life from those admit defeat and never achieve their goals.

Making the best of how things work out doesn’t mean accepting where you have temporarily ended up as your ”station in life”.  That is a defeatist attitude.

A setback may have involved taking the wrong path entirely towards that goal or it could have just been a poor execution of the correct approach to a solution. It is important to stop and consider that and make your adjustments based on what you can now see when wrong.  The worst thing that you can do is to continue to do the same wrong thing over and over and expect a different outcome.

Too often we focus too much attention on what happened yesterday. It is like trying to drive your car in a race by looking only in the rear view mirror. You will see the disasters that have already happened but no the one looming just ahead.

It makes little sense to pray that nothing bad ever happens to you; rather it makes good sense to pray for the patience, wisdom and perseverance to deal with whatever happens and to make good decisions.

So, perhaps you can include in your prayers the request that God help you accept what has already happened and better prepare you for what is ahead. There is a term for that in the bible  – be at peace. May you be at peace with what has already happened, so that you may be better prepared for what lies ahead.

Make the best of it. Things will work out.

Know it or believe it…just do something with it.

February 27, 2021

A quote from an unknown source was used by Pastor Freed in one of his recent posts to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“It’s not what you know, but what you do with what you know.”  (Unknown)

There’s certainly a whole riff that could be written about putting your knowledge to use, but when I saw that quote I mentally substituted the word “believe” for the word “know” and thought about what it is that I can do to turn my beliefs, my faith, into action. What “something” can I do with it.

One does not have to stand on soap box on a street corner preaching to no one in particular to demonstrate and live their faith. In fact, I think many of those who do that are still trying to convince themselves of their beliefs as much as anything. How many times have we seen stories of the famous TV evangelists being carted off to jail or disgraced in public for their actions and not their words?

The easiest way to put your faith into action and perhaps influence others to the same path is to live your life as an example of that faith. Not judging others (lest you be judged), being kind and caring and doing the right things when faced with decisions. On the surface, that may seem to be a rather off-handed way of looking at things, but it requires a conscious effort to think about your decisions in the light of your faith.

Many people used to wear those little rubber or metal bands with WWJD embossed or printed on them – What Would Jesus Do. That was a great memory device that caused one to stop and think before acting. I don’t see many of those wrist bands around anymore, but that thought and that pause to think is needed more now than ever.

Faith is just one of the touchstones available to us for grounding our thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, there are also things like prejudice, hate and indifference available as alternative approaches to decision making. The appeal of these alternatives is most often that they are easier to implement than the love, caring and acceptance of others that faith requires. It is easier to turn one’s back on the poor, homeless beggar than to take the time to help. It is easier to dismiss the person of different color or appearance out of prejudice than to take the time to get to know them. Look at your wrist. WWJD?

So, it is not enough to just profess your faith, one must put that faith into action, to let it influence and lead your actions – to do something with it. The “something” that your faith drives you to do does not always have to involve dramatic actions, but it should always be actions that demonstrate the answer to the question that you stopped and ask yourself.  WWJD? You don’t need to wear a bracelet with that question on it; just keep that question rattling around in the back of your mind as you go through your day and let it stop you so that you can think about the answer to that question.

Perhaps one can add to their morning prayers a simple thought – “Lord let me live my life today to reflect your glory in the decisions that I make.” Then ask yourself WWJD and get on with your day.

Have a great day of demonstrating your faith through the living of your life. Keep looking at your wrist and asking the question. WWJD?

Believe…you don’t want to be wrong.

February 26, 2021

I recently stumbled across a number of quotes from noted French philosopher and novelist Albert Camus . This is one that caught my attention – “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live as if there isn’t and to die to find out that there is.”

There is a phrase about “backing into something” that seems to cover this thought. Faith based upon the thought that you really don’t want to be wrong about God’s existence is probably better than no faith at all, but it is sort of backing into belief.

We are in the Lenten season, which could be a real downer, since we know that it is leading to the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus. There are many somber ceremonies associated with the Lenten season – the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday – yet we also know that ultimately they lead to the most joyous occasion of all Jesus’ resurrection on Easter. Even the Earth itself celebrates the resurrection with Spring and the re-birth of plants and reemergence of animals that may have been hibernating. Easter and Spring is an annual refresh of our belief in God.

Believing in God brings a certain orderliness to life that otherwise might appear to be very random and thus very confusing and unsatisfying. Faith helps us explain things – things that happen around us and things that happen to us. Faith also helps us get through things as they happen, because faith leads to hope and hope fuels perseverance.

Faith also fills what otherwise would be a huge void in our lives – the meaning of life itself – and gives us purpose.  It is through faith that we accept what we cannot understand, trusting in the God of our faith to handle those things. Faith overcomes our fear of the unknown by placing those things in the hands of God.

So, have faith and go through life confident that you are right and that, in the end, you will receive the reward of everlasting life that you have been promised. There is no alternative that makes any sense and you certainly don’t want to be wrong. Back into faith if you have to, but get into it any way that you can.

Have a wonderful and faithful day.

Find meaning by living your life…

February 24, 2021

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” – Albert Camus

Do you know someone who is never happy with what they have and always searching for ways to get more? Maybe you know someone who claims to be searching to “find myself”, to find some purpose and meaning to their life. It is not unusual for the young to go through phases like that, to have many questions for which there are no apparent answers. This is usually a period of a lapse in faith that occurs between being a child and accepting and understanding your faith as an adult.

As a child you were told about Jesus and the love of God and you just embraced it, not questioning it, just accepting that love as you accepted the love of your parents. So called “child-like innocence” protected you from the doubts that would later creep into your mind.

But, you began to question things by your teen years and well into young adulthood. That is part of the natural rebellion against being told things or being told to do things. That is your “I’ll make up my own mind on that” phase. It normally occurs during a time when you have the ability to reason, but not enough experience in how to use that ability to reach the right conclusions. It’s not so much that you reject God as it is that you just wander away from Him in confusion and in your search for the meaning of life and especially meaning for your life. You are too busy trying to “find yourself”.

Some wander about in that state of confusion and dissatisfaction for their entire lives, never really happy and always confused as to why. Others find their way back to God and allow their faith to provide the answers that they were seeking. They do not spend their time seeking happiness; but, rather, allow happiness to occur in their lives. They find relief from the anxieties of trying to understand the meaning of life and find joy in giving purpose and meaning to their lives.

People of faith start each day with a prayer to God to help them be the best that they can be that day and end the day with a prayer to God to help them be even better tomorrow. They do not live each day seeking the meaning of life, they live each day to give life meaning. They embrace another saying by Albert Camus – “Don’t wait for the last judgment – it takes place every day.”

So, seek not the meaning of life; rather seek to reconnect with that faith that you had as a child. Accept God back into your life and allow Him to show you how you can add meaning to your life. The true meaning of life is what you put into it; how you live it and the things that you do to make life better for all. God’s got work for you to do. It’s time to stop asking what it all means and start asking, “What does God want me to do today?” You won’t find he answer in any philosophy book, but the Bible has some pretty good suggestions for you.

Have a great and meaningful day!

What do you see?

February 23, 2021

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed looks at the challenge of optimism vs pessimism with this quote – “Optimism shouldn’t be seen as opposed to pessimism, but in conversation with it.  Your optimism will never be as powerful as it is in that exact moment when you want to give it up.”    (Amanda Gorman)

Whether you are generally an optimistic person or a pessimist directly impacts your daily life. Someone probably already said this, but I’ll attribute t to myself here – “What you see depends upon how you look at things.”

It can be a dark and gloomy world for those trapped in an pessimistic outlook on life, just as it can be perpetually sunny and bright for the optimists of the world. I suspect that most walk right on that thin line between the two, sometimes seeing the dark side of things and sometimes the bright side. One can hope that the bright side wins out most of the time, such that you are seen by others as having a “sunny disposition”.

Optimism draws it’s strength from hope. Hope for the best outcome. Hope for friendship and love. Hope for better things ahead. In many, that hope is fueled by faith. Faith opens the door to hope by overcoming and eliminating the ultimate worst outcome in life – death. Faith allows us to accept what has happened, whatever it is, and continue to look ahead. Faith removes from us the burden of responsibility for solving all of life’s problems and puts that responsibility in the hands of God. Faith  allows us to look at things and see the good in them, by seeing the God in them.

I recently used a quote by Albert Camus and another comes to mind for this post – “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” –  Albert Camus

Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a French philosopher and novelist whose works examine the alienation inherent in modern life and who is best known for his philosophical concept of the absurd. He explored these ideas in his famous novels, The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1947), and The Fall (1956), as well as his philosophical essays, The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) and The Rebel (1951). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957.

The winter that Camus mentioned might be allegorical for despair and pessimism and the invincible summer for faith and optimism. A person of faith is by definition a person of hope – an optimist. How about you? What do you see? Is there within you an invincible summer?

I believe that there is within all of us that glimmer of hope that is fueled by an ember of faith, however tiny. If one but puts the tinder of prayer on that ember and nurtures it a little bit, it will flame up in your life to provide warmth and light – your invincible summer.

Try it, you’ll like it. You will see things differently.

So, get started already!

February 22, 2021

The graphic that inspired today’s post came from a feed that I get every day of graphics to use in real estate social media posts. It illustrates the point that you won’t achieve your dream, hopes and ambitions unless you ACT today. Dreaming, hoping and even planning don’t accomplish anything unless you actually do something to make progress towards those dreams and hopes.

Many people allow themselves to be overwhelmed by the size or sheer audacity of their dream. I mean, how ridiculous it might have felt for a poor little black girl in Los Angeles to dream that she might one day be the Vice-President of the United States or for the son of dirt-poor immigrants to hope to be a billionaire some day. Yet dreams and hopes like that come true. In every case, when those people are interviewed and talk about their successes you will find a long path of hard work and perseverance. Many had to overcome the roadblocks that prejudice threw up at them. They never quit and they did not give up their dreams; they just worked harder and longer at them.

Big dreams that seemingly will require Herculean efforts to achieve need to be broken down into smaller, achievable steps. Sometimes those steps won’t seem to be leading directly towards the goal, but they are required detours to enable progress later. Getting as good education is one of those steps and a key one.

An education not only opens many doors to success, but it also teaches valuable life lessons on problems solving, patience and persistence. There are many courses that one is required (forced) to take in college that may not seem to be on the path to your goal, but which you will discover later in life provide a solid knowledge base for your success. While our current emphasis on the STEM subjects is focused upon key job enabling knowledge, the humanities subjects that we are also taught help ensure that we do not become boring and one-dimensional adults. Learning to appreciate the arts and literature is as important as learning how to solve quadratic equations.

Just as important as developing your mind through education is the need to develop your faith through worship. Your intelligence grows as you feed your mind more and more information. Your faith can grow too as you give it more and more exposure to God through prayer. It is at the confluence of intelligence and faith that wisdom is created. You empower yourself for success in life through your education and your efforts. You empower yourself for life after death through your faith. The success you achieve in life is fleeting and may be measured in terms of money or power. The success you achieve in your faith is forever and is often described as being “beyond all understanding”.

So, go for your dreams. Start today to make progress towards realizing the success that you have imagined. But, don’t ignore your faith. Be as persistent in realizing the ultimate goal there, too. Work at achieving your goals and work at increasing your faith. Do something to achieve both goals every day. It is in the doing that success in both is found.

Get started today.

Show some respect…

February 21, 2021

My dog and I barely escaped being hit this morning on our walk when a driver blew thorough the intersection at which we were about half way across. Now this is no little, hidden intersection with a stop signed that might be missed. It is a well marked intersection with two blinking red lights and an illuminated STOP sign hung in the middle over the road. Fortunately, I could hear that the car was not slowing and pulled my dog back to safety. I yelled at the driver, who had his driver-side window half way down but he made no indication that he cared. I’m sure that had the window been all the way down he might have even flipped me the bird.

After I thanking God for once again saving me from danger, I thought about this particular incident and other instances that I see every week of drivers ignoring signs either to stop at an intersection or not to make certain turns. The word that kept popping into my head was disdain. While a certain number of these incidents might be attributed to distracted drivers not seeing the signs, most of them are obviously cases of people who see he signs but choose to ignore them. They are showing disdain for our laws and for the safety of others.

I looked up disdain, just to make sure that it is the appropriate word to associate with these people. Disdain is defined as –dis·dain



the feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one’s consideration or respect; contempt.


consider to be unworthy of one’s consideration.

I think the word fits and it also points to a personality flaw in these people as a root cause – their egos. To disdain something or someone is to consider yourself to be so superior that you may judge them. Instead of taking a position like that of Pope Francis who said, ”Who am I to judge?” these people have taken the position of, ”I’ll be the judge of that. I don’t need your stinking laws and signs; I’ll decide whether to stop or turn at the sign or not.” They are showing disdain for the rest of society and for common decency. I suspect those who stormed the Capital Building a while back were showing their disdain for our county’s laws, the law makers and the rules of civil behavior.

In truth everything and everyone deserves to be treated with respect and consideration be given to how to interact with them. To act with disdain is to isolate oneself from the rest of society, to set yourself apart from, and above, the laws, rules or mores of that society. A society exists for the common good, but it can only exist if those within it abide by the rules and expectations of the rest of the group.  If each of use can no longer expect that a person driving a car will abide by the stop signs or no turn on red signs or whatever instructions are clearly posted for the goods of the society, then we devolve into anarchy.

So the next time you are tempted to make that turn on red or roll through that stop sign and keep going, remember that you are showing disdain. Is that what you really want your kids to see or other to see from you? It is not just a reflection on your behavior, which is bad enough; it is a lesson that you are teaching others who are watching, an example that can have lasting bad effects on young minds. Try showing them the opposite – respect. Respect for the laws of our society and for others within that society.

I leave you with the words of the song R-E-S-P-E-C-T by Aretha Franklin from the1980 movie The Blues Brothers. Show a little respect for the rules of our society when you get behind the wheel and all the time.

Reset your goals tonight.

February 20, 2021

This post isn’t about your business goals or your financial goals. Rather it is about the goals that hopefully you have for how you live your life. The post is inspired not by my usual source of inspiration, Pastor Freed and his blog, Jack’s Winning Words; but, rather by a little saying that I saw in a news post from Reddit –

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.” – St. Jerome

It is not unusual as one unwinds at the end of a day to reflect on the events of the day and perhaps upon the decisions that one made during the day. It is probably a little less usual that one reflect on how they lived their life that day and whether what they did and how they did it reflected well on the goals that they have for themselves. That’s where the St. Jerome quote comes in.

Hopefully one is not satisfied with “good enough” and is always striving for better. Were you a better person today that yesterday and how can you get even better tomorrow? Are there still things that you can do, once you get better to make you the best person that you can be? Did you let pre-conceived notions or prejudices creep into your decision making today? How can you eliminate them for tomorrow so that you can make better decisions then? Did you fail to stop and help someone in need today and how can you plan your life better tomorrow so that you can take the time to help?

Just like the enemy of love is not hate, the enemy of making progress to get better and moving towards being your best that is common to both is indifference. If you become indifferent and accepting of things, rather then constantly trying to improve, you begin to accept good enough and that is just sad.

A key to making progress on being the best you that you can be is to understand that it is not all about you. A quote from Dr. Martin Luther King comes to mind – “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?'” In order to be the best you that you can be and the you that is most pleasing to God, you need to serve others. Dr King had a good quote about that, too, which maybe you can add to your prayers – “Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.”

So, perhaps you can use your nightly moments of reflections and prayer to ask God to help you become better at seeing and reacting to the needs of others, helping where you can and not becoming complacent or indifferent to what you see around you in our society – prejudice, homophobia,  systemic racism and inequities in opportunity, wealth and healthcare.

As I wrote in a post a couple of days ago (see Don’t go over to the dark side), ask God for the insight and strength of character to be a part of the solution to the problems in our society that you see around you and not a part of the problem. The final Dr. King quote that I’ll throw in here deals with that – “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

Are you are one of those good silent people? You can be better. And, at your best, you can work to resolve those problems, first within yourself and then within society.

Reset your goals tonight and be the best you that you can be tomorrow.

Look up and be grateful…

February 19, 2021

Pastor Freed used this colorful little quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“An ungrateful man is like a hog eating acorns under a tree, but never looking up to see where they come from,”  (Timothy Dexter) 

How easy it is to be like the unthinking hog in Freed’s quote. Even worse than that, how foolish it is for man to ascribe what he has to his own efforts. As bad as it is to say to oneself, “I found the tree and gathered the nuts, so my success is of my own doing”; man takes the next step and cuts down the tree for it’s wood and then wonders why he no longer has the acorns to eat that it provided. At least the hog did not cut down the tree.

Freed also mentioned in his post that it is good to have a little prayer at the table when we eat to remind us where the food really comes from. Most table prayers that I have heard also ask for forgiveness for whatever transgressions one might have committed against others. When said at the dinner table, a short prayer sort of cleans up whatever messes one has made during the day.

It is certainly easier to forgive the hog for not caring or wondering about where the acorns come from. We do not attribute a level of intelligence above that needed for subsistence to most animals. Man, however, has been blessed with a level of intelligence and awareness that allows him to question and wonder about all things. That same level of intelligence inevitably brings him face-to-face with God as the only plausible answer to the questions about his own existence that he cannot otherwise explain. The ultimate conclusion to all of his conjecture about his existence is that he did not invent God, God invented him. Upon reaching that conclusion, a man becomes grateful.

So, eat the acorns that you are given, but look up from time to time and be grateful to the God who provides the tree under which you are fed. You know where those acorns came from.

Have a great and grateful day and weekend.

Don’t go over to the dark side…

February 18, 2021

It is all to easy in life to quickly move over to the dark side…the negative side. In today’s quote in the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Pastor Freed warns against that and instead advises that you take a positive approach – “Be a light, not a judge.  Be a model, not a critic.  Be a part of the solution, not the problem.”  (Stephen Covey)

I struggle with this problem all the time. My wife is constantly having to admonish me for being the critic or a judge of things or rushing to condemn instead of rushing to help. I’ve gotten a little better at it after her work for 55 years of marriage, but I still catch myself going over to the dark side too often and too quickly. I am lucky to have someone in my life who refuses to let that happen and keeps shining the light on me. Be a part of the solution.

Perhaps this penchant for taking the dark side is due to the ease with which one can sit back and do nothing or criticize, instead of stepping up to help solve the problem. It is easier to be the prejudiced by-stander than do the things to make our society more accepting of differences in people. It takes less effort to retreat into the comfort of indifference to the plight of those less fortunate than us or to ignore the plight that the subjects of systemic racism face, than to stand up and do something about it. Be a part of the solution.

Yet indifference is not a very satisfying feeling, it is a feeling of emptiness and the tolerance of injustice is at best a queasy feeling driven by constant guilt. It’s not that we don’t know what is right; it’s just that it seems so much harder to do than to just do nothing – to go over to the dark side. Be a part of the solution.

So, what is one to do? How can one act on the advice that Covey’s quote gave? You can start by being the light and the model that Covey called out. Be an example of how one should live and act in society. Be civil to others and kind. Be honest and forthright. Be the one who thrusts out his/her hand to welcome a person who is different from yourself and not the person who shrinks away. Be open to new ideas and new ways of looking at things. Be the person who brightens the room (the light) and not the one who introduces the gloom of cynicism or prejudices. Be the one that others would like to emulate and not the one that they try to avoid. Be a part of the solution.

The next part of Covey’s advice is even more important – be a part of the solution and not the problem. Problems are not solved by criticism or by heaping on more darkness. They are solved by people who roll up their sleeves and dive into the work needed to solve them. Indifferently standing by while others suffer makes you a part of the problem and not the solution. In every community across this land there are tons of opportunity all around you tp volunteer to do work on the solutions to the issues that confront society. There are food banks and counseling services and homeless shelters and other mostly volunteer organizations at work on the solutions and all of them need help. Find one or two and volunteer. Be a part of the solution.

 What part does or faith play in all of this. It may be easy to sit back and allow yourself to believe that you will be saved by your faith alone; but we have been admonished in the Bible – “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”  (James 2:14-17) Be a part of the solution.

Do you fool yourself by seeing the poor beggar on the cold street corner and saying to him as you pass by, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled” or do you stop and do something? Instead of being satisfied by convincing yourself that you cannot stop and help every beggar, ask yourself what you can do to make sure that there are no beggars. Do something. Be a part of the solution.

Don’t go over to the dark side. Have a great day in the light. Be the model. Be a part of the solution.