You’ve got a friend, no matter what…

December 31, 2022

When I saw this graphic recently my initial thought was that everyone, whether woman or man needs such a friend. As I though about it further, I realized that we already have such a friend in God.

God is always there, no matter what. God loves us no matter what. God will not judge us, no matter what. God will listen to us, forgive us and give us strength, no matter what. You’ve got a friend, in God.

I see no conflict with having an earthly “no matter what” friend. Perhaps God put them in our lives to help us get through life; however, even then there are things that can only be shared with God. There are deep, inner feelings that you hold back, but which cannot be hidden from God. And you know that you can share them with God, no matter what.

So go ahead and have a BFF that you can share most things with. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Open you heart to them. But always remember that at the end of the day and at the end of life, God is still there with you, no matter what.

Take the risk to grow…

December 30, 2022

Two quotes from wildly different people just seemed to fit together this morning – one from a world-renowned psychologist and one from a TV sitcom star.

“You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety.” (Abraham Maslow)

“The bottom line is, in life, sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad things happen. But honey, if you don’t take a chance, nothing happens.”  (Bea Arthur as the character Dorothy in the Golden Girls TV show)

We grow as human beings by experiencing new things, meeting new people, going to new places and taking in new knowledge. That growth does not happen or is at least stunted if we are overly cautious and always stepping back into safety.

One of the easiest ways to make something happen and experience some personal growth is to meet new people. Some people find a way to step back into safety by physically shrinking back into a protective shell. They put on a physical visage that shouts, “Don’t see me, don’t talk to me.” It usually succeeds because others can see that this person does not want to interact.

So even if you haven’t worked up the courage to say “Hello” yourself, maybe you can take the risk to respond pleasantly to someone who says it to you. Maybe even add “How are you?” to your response. And if, by chance, they want to strike up a conversation, take the chance to talk with them; otherwise, nothing happens.

I have posted here often about doing volunteer work at a local non-profit organization. That will not only make you feel good about yourself, but it will put you in an environment in which meeting people and conversing with them is pretty much a part of the experience. It is a perfect and usually very safe way to step forward into growth. What starts as a conversation about the work that you are doing together will quite naturally morph into talk about the times when you are not doing volunteer work together. Go with it and let yourself take the risk of sharing a part of your life with someone else – otherwise, nothing happens.

I could post suggestions about other more adventuresome ways to grow by taking bigger and more exciting risks; however, all of them at some point involve interacting with others to share and learn from the experience. So, take the advice from the Golden Girls quote and make something happen – you’ll learn from whatever the outcome is.

Put yourself out there and Take the risk to grow…

It’s not a struggle; it’s your purpose…

December 29, 2022

I got this quote in an email this morning –

The struggle, like life itself, should be joyful. (Miriam Miranda)

From the same email – Miriam Miranda has dedicated her life to protecting the culture and land of the Garífuna people in Honduras. Throughout her 30 years of on-the-ground activism, she has faced threats, attacks, and imprisonment; still, she fearlessly advocates for preservation. To her, the harshest opponents — big business, real estate, and tourism development, to name but a few — are no match for the power of a woman fighting for a bright, sustainable future, and a better social safety net for the younger generation. Her continued efforts are nothing if not optimistic — and even, as her words here suggest, a joyful struggle.

The word “struggle” has negative connotations which makes it hard for me at least to associate with the word joy. If one is poor and homeless life itself becomes a struggle. We see on the nightly news the immigrants at our southern border struggling just to survive, most after having struggled for months just to get here. Most of us, however, are not struggling just to survive. Our struggle (our purpose, if you will) is most often based on some personal decisions that we make to take actions to better ourselves or the lives of others (quite often our families).

Quite often on the nightly news we see stories of people, some quite young, who have embarked on a mission to help others. They may have made it their purpose to collect coats for the cold or food for the hungry or toys for needy children at Christmas. Some may be providing shelter for the homeless in their area or perhaps a safe haven for victims of domestic abuse. Those stories on the news might often cause you to stop and think about what you might do or maybe think about what you are not doing. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the thoughts of how big of a task doing something like what was covered in the story would be to take on. We “struggle” to think of a purpose or mission that we could tackle.

The truth is that we don’t need to embark on some “holy grail” quest or mission. If you have the time and/or resources to take on something like forming and operating a charitable non-profit, more power to you and good luck; however, few have that luxury. Instead, look about you for already established non-profits in your community and volunteer at one or more of them. There are food pantries and homeless shelters and many other very worthwhile organizations in almost every community – most hiding in plain sight. If you go to a church, find out the things that your church is doing to help in the community and join in the efforts. You will find a sense of mission, purpose, and joy from joining any of those efforts.

 If putting yourself out there in a volunteer community service role is not for you, maybe just taking on the task of being a better person will provide you with the challenge (purpose) that you need to find joy in life. Making a mindful decision to be a better person gives you something to shoot for each morning and something to evaluate and be joyfully proud of each night. Even if you find little to be happy about at the end of any day, that evaluation provides you with even more incentive to do better tomorrow.  Forgive yourself for today’s failures and resolve to do better tomorrow. If today’s failures were caused by the actions of someone else, forgive them and learn from the experience. You will get another chance to do better tomorrow, and you will be wiser then.

Seeing life or the issues that you face as a struggle is a negative way to look at things. If instead you accept the challenge of overcoming the setbacks or obstacles that may come your way as part of your mission and purpose in life, then you will be able to pause and celebrate (be joyful) when you have met those challenges. You will have fulfilled your purpose.

It’s not a struggle; it’s your purpose…

Don’t Struggle…Make good decisions…

December 27, 2022

I recently saved a quote by Will Smith that I saw somewhere, even though I disagree with it –

“In all honesty, everyone is struggling.  Some are better at hiding it than others.”  (Will Smith)

I really don’t believe that everyone is struggling; however, I do think this quote by Martha Beck is true –

“Life is full of tough decisions, and nothing makes them easy.” (Martha Beck)

What Will Smith might see as a struggle is more often than not just a decision point in life, a place where a decision must be made, maybe a tough decision. Many times those decisions involve a right or wrong choice from a moral point of view. Oft times they also involved a conflict between our own self-interest and the interests of others. Doing the “right thing” to help someone else might not seem sometimes to be in our own best interest. But it is the “right thing” to do.

I have posted here a few times in the past that I often include in my prayers the request that God “help me make good decisions” today. There doesn’t have to be a decision starting me in the face, it’s just a request that God help me make valid right and wrong evaluations when decisions come up during the day and hopefully do the right things.

So, there is no reason to struggle with or hide your decisions. If you pause and let God help remind you what is right and wrong in any situation or decision, you will make the right decision. I suppose that does make it a bit easier. Maybe Martha should have said, “Life is full of tough decisions and asking God for help with them makes it easier.”

Don’t struggle with the decisions that you have to make. Ask for and accept God’s help. He will help you see the right and wrong in any situation and doing the right thing is always the best thing and the easiest thing in the long run.

So, don’t struggle today and this week; instead let God help you make good decisions.

Say ouch and move on…

December 26, 2022

This is a rather long quote, but worth the read…

As seen on The Loneliest Sport – ‘When I was a boxer in the 1970’s, I was hit in the face by Joe Frazier, knocked out by Muhammad Ali, and knocked down a couple of times by Ron Lyle before I got up and won. All of the fights had one thing in common: When they were over, I could hardly remember the pain. I forgot my weak knees, the cuts, the blood in my eyes. If not for the films of my fights, I would have put them totally out of my mind. It’s the same when you hit rough times: Don’t let the pain and disappointment lodge inside.’ (George Foreman)

Life does throw disappointments and some pain our way from time to time. How we react to them is an important factor in whether we are happy or not. Some, unfortunately, hold on to the pain and disappoint of those moments, unable to forgive or forget and move on with their lives. For them, holding on to failures becomes a way of life and a way to avoid trying again to achieve their dreams or seeing a new dream.

For George Foreman the setbacks that he experienced early in his career were real and I’m sure quite painful; however, he got back up and put them out of his mind and got back to work. Eventually he prevailed ad won the Heavyweight Championship Belt. He has gone on to become a successful TV salesman and advertising personality.

It is easy to make the statement, “Don’t let the pain and disappointment lodge inside”, but sometimes not so easy to actually do that.  I think it is important to acknowledge to ourselves that those disappointment hurt, to say a kind of mental “Ouch”. Acknowledging them and saying that ouch puts boundaries around the incident. It allows us to package it up and then set it aside. Otherwise, we just continue to revisit and re-feel the pain. In fact, we may make revisiting that pain a part of our life and let it influence our decisions going forward. We accept the role of victim to that pain.

An important step that Foreman did but did not talk about in his quote is that he kept getting back up after each defeat.  What Foreman is saying is don’t be a victim. Don’t let a pain from your past dictate your future. Even if the failure that you’ve just experienced was actually the end of the dream that you had been pursuing for quite some time, that does not mean that your life is over. It just means that it is time for a new dream to pursue. Say ouch and move on. God has a different plan for your life.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Find that new plan and turn your life in that direction.

So, when you hit a rough spot in life or suffer a disappointment, try this 4-step method of dealing with it:

  1. Acknowledge that it happened (maybe put into words what just happened and say it out loud)
  2. Say ouch, that hurt (maybe a good cry would help)
  3. Package it up and set it aside (put the end boundary of “it happened in the past” on it)
  4. Move on with life (trust that God has a plan for your and look for your next dream)

But first, get back up!

Farewell and God Speed Jack Freed

December 21, 2022

This morning I got this final post from the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

Jack’s Winning Words 12/21/22 (Guest authored by Jack’s son Dave Freed)

“Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again.” (William Shakespeare)  It’s the end of an era. After over 20 years of bringing a motivational message to friends and family, Jack’s Winning Words as we know it has come to its end. My father Jack died yesterday in his sleep with his daughters by his side. Five days a week, 50+ weeks per year, for over 20 years means Jack sent out over 5,000 Winning Words messages.  It was a labor of love, and I hope you found the messages valuable. 😉  Jack 

Funeral arrangements are pending, but the expectation is to have a service sometime in January.

As readers of this blog well know, I got a lot of inspiration for my blog from posts that Jack made to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words. Jack was the pastor of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church that I joined when we moved to Michigan in 1978.

As Jack’s son pointed out in this post, Jack shared over 5,000 posts to his blog, always in the same format – a single paragraph featuring a short, thought-provoking quote. Jack most often used his paragraph to ask what the quote meant to the reader. Jack’s posts and his thoughts will be greatly missed.

God speed Jack Freed, God speed. We will meet again.

You be you and be happy about it…

December 19, 2022

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”  (Steve Jobs) 

We all have some tendency to try to be like someone else whom we might admire, to live their life. In the end, we cannot be them and must live our own lives. Perhaps another quote from Jack’s blog sums that up very well – “Aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person that you always should have been.” (David Bowie)

You may arrive at that point and realize that you don’t very much like the person that you have become, but there is no reason that you still cannot become the person that you wish to be. Perhaps Steve Jobs should have also said that you shouldn’t waste your time thinking about what might have been, the “couldas, woulda, shoulda’s” of life. You must find a way to accept life as it is, and to be happy about it. If for no other reason, you should be happy that you still have time to make changes in your life to become that person that you desire to become. For that to occur, another quote from Jack’s blog seems appropriate –

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you.” ― Lewis B. Smedes, author and theologian

We become prisoners of the sins of the past, those of others against us and those that we commit, if we cannot forgive others or ourselves. Being unable to forgive others is to allow them to control your life, to set your agenda. It is amazing how liberating it feels when you forgive them and free yourself from the hatred and plans for revenge that you had been carrying around. Try it. You’ll like it.

I have also posted here a few times about forgiving yourself as a major step to moving forward in life. You truly set yourself free to be that person that you want to be when you also forgive yourself. Time spent revisiting the disappointments of the past is wasted time and is associated with words like remorse, regrets, and failure. Time spent thinking about a better future might be called dreaming, but can also be associated with goals, planning, and anticipating – all much more positive than wasting time on the past.

So, don’t waste your time trying to be someone else or reliving the past. Forgive others and, most importantly, forgive yourself and start the journey to becoming the person that you always wanted to be.

You be you and be happy about it.

Listen to your inner voice…and let it happen

December 16, 2022

I’m not sure where I saved this quote from, but it appealed to me this morning – “The inner life of a human being is a vast and varied realm.” (Edward Hooper)

There’s probably a quote somewhere about the advice that we often hear being given to noisy and loud children to “use your inside voice”. Our inside (inner) voices are those that we use and listen to in our “inner life”; the vast and varied realm that happens inside our heads. You sometimes hear someone ask, “Did I just say that out loud?” They forgot to use their inner voice for the thoughts that they were having in their inner life and said them out loud.

Another quote that I saved, from the Jack’s Winning Words blog also seems to fit here – “Sometimes my feelings creep out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.”  (Sent by Jackie Beach)

Those times are times when some portion of your inner world gets out in public. Emotions are very big in the inner world and most of the time we try very hard not to let them get out so that others can see. Stifling emotions like anger and rage are probably good things, but it is important to let out our emotions like love or regret or sadness. Stifling them in the name of stoicism can lead to a cold, lonely existence.

Sometimes the inner you and the “you” that the public sees are in sync, especially in times of great fear. When your inner voice is crying out in fear, to whom do you turn? During those times another post from the Jack’s Winning Words blog from December 13, 2022,  seems most appropriate –

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”  (Psalm 56:3)  Some people scream or gasp when they’re frightened.  Some cross themselves.  Others reach out to hug someone.  A child will grab the hand of a parent.  Joan Baez sang, “Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea.”  By that, she meant what the psalmist meant…“When I’m scared, I put my trust in the Lord.”  During life’s scary times, God’s hand is reaching out for yours.  Take it! 

Our inner life is the place from which we most often converse with God and the place where he most often answers us. We read in the Bible – The Lord knows all man’s thoughts (1 Chronicles 28:9). It just makes sense that God can also enter those thoughts to provide answers to our questions or encouragement and support in our times of fear or remorse.  We just need to listen for God’s quiet inner voice (some call it our conscience) and put our faith in what He tells us. Of course, it helps if we surrender to that advice by saying with our inner or outer voice, “Not my will but thy will be done.” For many the ritualistic act of praying provides the quiet break that they need in order to hear the inner voice of God.

So, take some time each day to pray and listen for and to your inner voice. Take God’s hand during that time and then let it happen.

Never lose your ability to be silly…

December 10, 2022

I recently collected a few quotes on silliness –

“Children have one kind of silliness, as you know, and grown-ups have another kind.” (C.S. Lewis)

“[Silliness is] very, very, important. Very important. The other side of it is taking yourself terribly seriously. Which I think occasionally, you know, if you’re a brain surgeon, I wouldn’t want him to be silly when he’s doing the operation. But afterwards, if he wants to go laugh around that’s fine. There’s got to be a silly side to all of it.”  (Michael Palin)

“Mix a little foolishness with your prudence; it’s good to be silly at the right moment.” (Horace)

“Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.” (Christopher Morley)


I have posted here in the past a couple of times about making funny faces to yourself in the mirror in the morning as you get ready for your day. Doing that provides a short break in the seriousness of your day and lets your mind reset into a more neutral mode. You cannot be like Palin’s brain surgeon during surgery all of the time. Taking a moment to be silly also allows us to be free, if just for that moment, of our self-imposed unanimity as adults – we can do something that is not being done because we think it is what is expected of us.

Because I think it is critical to our mental health that we retain an ability to be silly from time to time. As C.S. Lewis said, children have a different kind of silliness, one that is uncensored by concerns of what others may think. As we grown up we are conditioned by society to suppress our urges to be silly. We are forced to conform more and more to the more serious norms and expectations of society. We are told to “act like a grownup”, which usually means with great seriousness. However, I think some of these quotes get it right – it is important to we find some time and ways to be silly, even as adults.

Some of the quotes that I collected, but chose not to use, substituted the word “foolish” for the word “silly”; but, I thought about it, that word is too close to “foolhardy” to be comfortable for me. Being foolish has a connotation of being stupid in it, at least in my mind. It is that connotation that seems to apply to shows like Jackass, where the actions are sometimes dangerous and almost always stupid, instead of just silly. Being silly does not have to be dangerous.

So, give yourself a mental break from the serious business of being an adult and find a way to be silly today. Make a funny face in your mirror while getting ready in the morning or allow yourself a little chuckle at something that maybe only you find funny during the day. Have your moments of silliness during the day. Others may say (or think), “Oh, that’s just silly”, and that’s OK; that’s the point. Being silly will provide the little mental breaks that you need to keep you sane.

Never lose your ability to be silly.

Are you prepared?

December 8, 2022

Today’s quote reminds us to think ahead…”It’s better to look ahead and prepare, than to look back and regret.”  (Jackie Joyner-Kersee)

That’s good advice and should be followed whenever possible; however, life doesn’t always give us much time to look ahead, much less to think ahead. Sometimes life just comes at us, and we have to make decisions on the fly. How can you be better prepared for those times, so that you make good decisions?

I’ve shared here a few times that I often will add to my prayers the sentence, “Help me make good decisions today.” If nothing else that helps put my mind in decision making mode with the added benefit of having touched base with the concept of God and, out of that, with an understanding of right and wrong. I am more prepared.

The strongest reaction to threatening or stressful situations that we have as humans is that of self-preservation. That’s what makes the actions of people like the man who rushed the shooter at the recent Club Q mass-shooting incident so unusual and heroic. Even he admits that he really didn’t have time to think about it. He attributed it to going into “combat mode” but it was really about doing what was right in that instant. Somewhere in his background there must have been some strong teaching or experience that imprinted upon him a strong sense of right and wrong; strong enough to overcome his self-preservation instinct and move him to action. He was prepared.

Another example that most have heard about shows the benefit of taking actions to be prepared. When he was interviewed later about his heroic landing of a disabled plane on the Hudson River, pilot Sully Sullivan told the interviewers that he had been preparing for that moment all of his piloting life. He actually when over various flight emergency scenarios in his mind and had a solution for them in mind when he took off. He was prepared.

Today’s headline is the real question that you need to ask yourself each day. You probably are not going to have to make life threatening or lifesaving decisions like the two examples above, but you will be faced with many decisions that will test your ability to choose between right and wrong. Are you ready to make decisions as needed throughout the day based upon a solid understanding of right and wrong? Upon what do you base that understanding? Are you prepared?

I’ve posed here in the past about those WWJD bracelets that were popular worldwide in the 90’s. One does not have to go on a nostalgia trips and find one of those bracelets to wear in order to be reminded to do the right thing – what Jesus might do in the situation. Just pausing each morning to ask God to help you make good decisions during the day will have the same effect. You will be reinforcing your internal right and wrong compass and you will be better prepared for the decisions that you will need to make. Are you prepared?

Ask God to help you make better decisions today.