Be brave and be at peace…

August 10, 2021

I saw this quote recently and knew that it was worthy of a blog post – Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace. (Amelia Earhart)

Think about it. Can you be at peace if you are consumed by the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda’s? We get those thoughts about things that we didn’t do because we didn’t have the courage to try at the time they occurred.

One can find peace, even in failure, if you tried your best, but just fell short of achieving your goal. Many athletes find solace in a losing effort if they achieved their personal best in the effort. For others, just the fact that they tried and didn’t quit gives them peace.

We can learn from efforts that were not successful, but we get nothing but regrets for attempts not made due to a lack of courage. The road to mediocrity and unhappiness branches off from the road not taken due to fears, uncertainties and doubts.

Perhaps you can add to your prayers this thought – “God grant me peace by giving me the courage to try.” At the end of each day, if you can look back without regrets for not even trying new things or having the courage to meet new people, you will find yourself at peace.

There is much to learn from the motto of the athletes that compete in Special Olympics events – “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

If you can live your life with that motto in mind you will find yourself at peace with yourself and the world.  Be brave and be at peace…

Size doesn’t matter…

August 7, 2021

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “The size of your audience doesn’t matter.  What’s important is that your audience is listening.”  (Randy Pausch)

Pastor Freed went on to write about a funeral at which he had been called upon to deliver the eulogy. When he got there, there was no one in attendance so he ended up delivering the eulogy to an empty room. He found comfort in knowing that God was listening that day.

I think blogging is somewhat like that. I never know who is out there reading this blog or how big the audience is on any particular day. I have a few followers who let me know almost every day that they read what I wrote and that they liked it. I am also astounded (although I suppose one should not be astounded by anything these days) by where many of the comments or likes come from. Much of my audience seems to be in Eastern Europe or the Middle and Far East.

Some bloggers go to great lengths to attract and measure their audience, many because they have monetized their blogs. I investigated taking that step but decided against it. I just don’t want to feel any sense of obligation to write for reasons of earning money. I watched several early blogging sites for real estate decline into uselessness because the members became more concerned about their ratings than what they were actually saying. Any time you set up measurements of success based upon things like the number of followers there will be many who will “game the system” in order to “win”.  

So, to me, the size of my audience doesn’t matter. What matters is that occasionally I will get a like or a comment from someone who found the remarks that I made helpful in their life. I try to stay positive in my writing and although I present it as a faith-based blog, I do not try to shove my faith in the face of the readers. One must, I believe, also provide the basis for whatever advice or life experiences are being shared. The basis for many of my comments and advice has been and will continue to be the impact of my faith on my life and the decisions (and mistakes) that I’ve made.

So, if you are out there, somewhere in the world and enjoy reading this blog or find it to be helpful in your life, let me know with a like or a comment every now and then. Even if you don’t, I’ll be like Pastor Freed at that funeral; I’ll know that God is listening.

Have a great weekend.

Don’t be selfish with your time

August 4, 2021

A recent quote in the Jack’s Winning Words blog caught my attention this morning – “There are many kinds of selfishness in this world, but the most selfish is hoarding time, because none of us know how much we have, and it is an affront to God to assume there will be more.”  (Mitch Albom)

Jack went on to write that the Jim Croce song “Time in a Bottle” is a favorite of his. I suppose that we all wish there were moments that we could capture and put in a bottle, to be enjoyed again and again as we wish.  Maybe the bottle is our mind, and those moments are stored there as memories.

What Mitch Albom was alluding to is not wasting or hoarding our time here on earth by assuming that we’ll always have more time to do the things that we are putting off sharing with others. The “I’ll see them tomorrow” mentality was put to a big test over the last year when too many people realized too late that there would be no tomorrow. Now instead of memories of that last visit with someone who has passed, they have only regrets that it never took place.  

Even if we have nothing else, we all have time that we can give to others. In some cases, it may be time in service to them, but in many cases it is just sharing time, acknowledging them and engaging with them.  As humans, we may have fond memories of event that occurred when we were alone, but our strongest and fondest memories always involve time and events that we shared with others. Search back through your memories and see if that isn’t true.

So time that you hoard to yourself actually ends up being blank spots in your memories, sort of like those times when on TV some commercial message is missed and the screen is just blank for s few seconds – no picture, no sound, no nothing, just a blank screen. Did you ever notice how long that seems to last to you?

It’s not that we all don’t need some breaks, some time to ourselves; but that is what sleep is for. Spending time by yourself while awake is just lost or wasted time when you could be interacting with others. Now, there are forms of interaction that may not involve spending face-to-face time with another person. Reading is one such form of interaction. Whether you realize it or not, you are interacting with the author while reading. You are trying to figure out what it is that they were saying when they wrote that story or article. You may carry out a complete mental dialogue with them in your mind while reading what they wrote. The same may be true when viewing a work of art – what were they thinking when they did this piece?

So, never assume that there will always be a tomorrow. Don’t be selfish with your time.  Make the best that you can of today. Interact with as many people as you can, get to know as many people as you can, help as many people as you can.  Give of yourself by sharing your time and you will receive some of their time back. Now that’s a good use of your time. God will be happy with you. Maybe He will give you more time to spend tomorrow. Don’t be selfish with it.

Don’t blow air kisses…

August 3, 2021

Pastor Freed used a quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, that made me think this morning – “Love is, or it ain’t.  Thin love ain’t love at all.”  (Toni Morrison) 

Actually, his daily quotes always make me think and I suspect that this is what Jack has in mind when he posts them. Freed used the example of thinning out soup by adding more water during the Great Depression and talked about spreading one’s love to thin or over too many people.

My thoughts turned to people who blow air kisses your way when they meet you or exchange those faux kisses to both cheeks. They are going through the motions of expressing love, but that is all that it is – just going through the motions. Don’t blow air kisses…

Many people blow air-kisses our way, but it is thin love that they are expressing, meaningless love at best. I think that is the important distinction. One can, in fact spread real love around to many people, but it is critical that it is real, heartfelt love and not just air kisses. I believe God gives us an infinite amount of that kind of love to share, just as He shares His infinite love for us. However, we will not have that feeling about everyone that we encounter. Why is that? Don’t blow air kisses…

Maybe the answer lies in thinking about love as an unconditional sharing of ourselves with others. The things that keep us from sharing our love unconditionally are our fears, pre-conceived notions, and prejudices. We allow these things build barriers around us that prevent our love from being shared. We blow air kisses to those people for whom we cannot seem to feel real love. Sometimes that may make us feel uncomfortable, but far too often we feel self-righteous about not sharing ourselves with “those people”.  Don’t blow air kisses…

We may rationalize our inability to share our love with certain people s a defensive mechanism to keep us safe. In fact, it is not so much keeping us safe from them as it is keeping us from sharing ourselves with them and experiencing the love that they have to share in return. We may feel safer for having withdrawn from them, but we are also poorer for having missed the experience of sharing love with them. Don’t blow air kisses…

Perhaps we can make a better effort to overcome our fears and prejudices by asking God to take away those fears and allow us to experience with others the unconditional love that He shares with us. We may never get to that level of unfettered love with all other people, but our lives will be so much richer if we can get a few more of those prejudices out of the way and allow ourselves to experience the sharing of love with more people. Don’t worry, you won’t run out of love the more you share it. God has lots more for you where that came from. Just remember – Don’t blow air kisses…

Live a no regrets life…

August 2, 2021

I saw this quote when I clicked on a link that promised great quotes from entertainment stars – “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” (Dolly Parton)

I’ve posted here a few times about this topic, but is it so important that one needs almost constant reminders. I also think this graphic says it all…

It is so easy to get wrapped up in whatever we do toi make a living that we actually stop living, at least we stop living the life that we think we are working to achieve. We’re just too busy at work to stop and take the time for a son’s baseball game or a daughter’s dance recital.  

I wish that I didn’t have to admit to having done this in my life, but I can’t. There are whole periods in my children’s lives when I was too busy at work to be there. My wife took them to the games and the rehearsals and the other things that I missed. Sure, I brought home good money from those extended hours at work, but at what real cost? The cost was time that I should have been there and the regrets that arise later.

It’s not only the children who suffer when dad is too busy at work; the wives of the missing in action husbands also suffer. It’s all of the dinners that dad missed, because he had to entertain a client or be out of town on business. It is the missed opportunities for a hug or a kiss because you got home too late and everyone was already in bed.

So, the message is that you must focus more time and attention on the real things that mater in your life – the family – and not get so wrapped up in work that you are left with nothing but regrets when the money you earn is spent. You can’t build up memories if you aren’t there.

Take Dolly’s advice and “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”