Pause and imagine smelling the roses this December…

December 7, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought –

“God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.”  (J.M. Barrie)

Our memories and our imaginations can provide wonderful relief from the dreary dayssmell lthe roses of winter to come; too remember roses in December; however, memory also serves to keep alive those who are no longer with us. As Thomas Campbell put it- “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”

Many people pause on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to remember those who are no longer with them’ perhaps because those times in the past were some of the happiest when they were still here. Perhaps those we remember are not departed, just distant. A quote by Washington Irving seems appropriate for that circumstance – “Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.” 

So, pause this December and at Christmas, and remember the smell of roses and the wonderful times that you had with departed loved ones or those who are just far away. They live in your heart, so they will never die.

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Let’s give thanks for what we have…

November 22, 2017

Today’s post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog is a great reminder that we need to pause and give thanks for all that we have, rather than getting ready to bolt out the door on Friday morning in search of more stuff.

“Lord, as we bow our heads to pray, 

We celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

 

Help us have the right attitude, 

As we turn to you in gratitude.

 

Thank you for our festive mood; 

Thank you, Lord, for this good food;

 

Thanks for blessings great and small; 

Thank you, thank you for it all.”  Amen

 

(Thanksgiving Table Prayer by Joanna Fuchs)

 

Black Friday is named for the fact that the money made on that one day is what puts many retailers in the black for the year; however, it might as well be named for one of the darkest aspects of human nature – greed. The need for more, more, more drives people as much as the savings that they think they are getting on that day. Thanksgiving is just another example of the perversion days that are supposed to be set aside for thoughtful reflection and gratitude for the things that God has given us. The requirements of children’s sports have already taken away most Sundays and turned Sunday mornings from family time at church to travel time to games.

It’s common for people to ask, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” My response will be what I’m not doing for Thanksgiving. I’m not going Black Friday shopping. If anything, I will shop in Milford, where the local merchants have decided to turn it into Give Back Friday and will be donating a portion of all sales to local charitable causes. That’s one thing that I’ll remember to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.  Maybe I’ll see you there.

Give Back Friday

Picture from the Give Back Friday Facebook Page


Get going in a different direction…

November 15, 2017

Thaccess deniedis little quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog got me to thinking about the rejections in my life and how that changed my direction.

“Sometimes rejection in life is really redirection.”  (Tavis Smiley)

Rejections in life can come in many forms. We tend to remember the bigger moments of rejection, like being turned down for a date or being passed over for a promotion; however, life is full of little moments in which something that we want to do is somehow rejected or, at least that path is blocked and we must go in a different direction.

 

 

How we react to rejections in life and what we choose to do in the new direction says a bored2lot about us. Some don’t deal with rejection very well and may slip into anger or depression every time things don’t go the way that they and planned and hoped. Some are so flighty that rejections are quickly forgotten and they flit off in a new direction, seemingly oblivious to the rejection. Do you know people who react to rejection in those ways?

For most of us rejection is just a temporary bump in life. They may stop us for a moment, as we internalize what just happened, but we go on. What few of us take the time to do is to think about that rejection as a redirection in our lives. I wonder what would happen if woman-prayingwe paused and thought to ourselves, “OK, God didn’t want that to happen to me or for me; I wonder what direction He wants to take me in now?”

By taking that moment to attribute the rejection/redirection in your life to God’s will, you remove the need to seek an answer to the question of why that just happened. You also excuse yourself of the need to find blame in yourself or others. It was God’s will, not your will or actions that brought about the rejection, so use it as a redirection and seek His will in which way to go next. Maybe start off with a little prayer like, “God I know that you have something else in mind for me; please help me see the path that you wish for me to take.” Do that, knowing that God has only the best outcome in mind for you; and you will joyfully start off in your new direction.

Dealing with rejections as redirections from God in your life will allow you to keep a positive attitude towards life, no matter how and many or what types of rejections you hit. Sometimes God may throw a rejection at you to help re-ground you on the important things in life, like family vs. possessions. A rejection may force you to realize that you had begun to value the wrong things and to pursue the wrong things. Sometimes that rejection is a wake-up call that says that you have become too complaisant and too expectant of success; that you have become full of yourself and God needed to take you down a peg and remind you of who is in charge.

man prayingMaybe you can start each day with a variation of that little prayer that I suggested earlier. “God, I don’t know what you have in mind for me today, but help me accept the things that happen and see the new directions that you have laid out for me; trusting in You and your love for me, through your Son, Jesus Christ.”

Then get out there and get going in those new directions.


Are you sitting or standing?

October 31, 2017

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “It’s easy to sit up and take notice.  What is difficult is getting up and taking action.”  (Honore de Balzac)

Last week Detroit hosted a bunch of women who have decided to stand up and take action. This Women’s Convention in Detroit grew out of the Women’s March on andrew-robles-295224Washington, which was itself a protest against what many women felt was a more than just a macho attitude in Washington about women or just boys and men behaving badly. The movement grew out of the decision of one woman to stand up and take action, rather than just sit watching the TV and lamenting the news in Washington D.C. as it unfolded.

The fact is that we are all confronted on a daily basis with many things that we need to evaluate our reactions to and take the appropriate actions. We see bullying and walk bully.pnghurriedly on by; we see acts driven by racism or homophobia and look away in hopes that now one saw us; we pass by the beggar and avoid eye contact; we make it a point to avoid the person who just ended a relationship because we really don’t want to hear about it; we don’t go to visit the sick person in the hospital because we just don’t have the time to waste; we don’t correct the person making inappropriate remarks or touching us inappropriately because we just want to “get along”.

The fact is that we all sit by and take notice of many things that we should be standing up and doing something about. I do. You do. We all do. Does that make it right? No! The coulda woulda shouldaexcuses are all the same. “I don’t want to get involved”.” “It’s not my problem.” “I don’t have time for that.” I would posit that as a fellow human being you are already involved, it is your problem as soon as you recognize it and there is nothing more important that you could spend your time on that helping a fellow human being. In Mark 12:31 Jesus told us that the second Great Commandment is, “Love your neighbor and you love yourself.” You cannot love your neighbor if you ignore him and his problems.

Now, obviously, you cannot spend all of your time seeking out and solving the problems of those around you. That is not what is meant by “getting up and taking action”; however, you can decide to stop avoiding or ignoring what is going on around you. Just like the women who have use the hashtag #MeToo, you can decide to start speaking up about the injustices or prejudices that you experience or see in your day to day life. You may get thrown off a plane, like the women on the News recently who complained about being racially targeted for reassignment of a seat on the plane. You may be passed overstart-with-me for some promotion or reward because you won’t “play ball” with your boss; however, in the long run right will win out.  Being in the right and deciding to stay on that side and take action, not only means never having to say you’re sorry; in many cases, (especially those involving high profile lawyers) being right and standing up and doing something about it is rewarding in more ways than just emotionally.

So, take stock at the end of the day and look back on the things that were wrong that you took notice of. Did you stand up or sit by passively and hope that they would quickly pass? How does that make you feel? What can you do differently tomorrow? Don’t take the easy way out. Don’t just sit up; stand up for what you know is right. Stand up and have a great week.


Withhold consent…

October 27, 2017

From my little list quotes comes this thought for the day –

“Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

To which I would respond, withhold consent. Do not give others the power to controlarrogant your life, your emotions, your actions or reactions. Withhold consent. Take charge of your life and decide that you, and only you, will determine how you feel about yourself and about life.

I’ve posted here many times about the need to love yourself before you can love others (see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2017/03/15/first-of-all-be-happy-with-yourself/ ). A strong belief in yourself and comfort with yourself is the base upon which you can begin to build relationships with others. You will not get positive results if you enter into a relationship with the thought that, “I don’t like me, so you probably won’t like me either.” That will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. As Jack Freed posted in his Jack’s Winning Words blog recently –  “If you keep saying that things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet.”  (Isaac Singer) Don’t become a prophet about yourself. Withhold consent.

It is not about bragging or being cocky; it about being self-assured and self-confident, this-is-mebecause you like yourself. It brings with it a radiance in your personality that makes women look more beautiful and men look more handsome. If you can get to that state of liking yourself and feeling comfortable with who and what you are, you will notice that what others may think of you, or say about you, takes on much less meaning. What they think or say cannot make you feel inferior because you withhold consent.

And when you encounter those who would try to drag you down to their level by being judgmental, petty, or just plain nasty; just ignore them. I’ve noticed in life that nothingthumbs down makes those people more frustrated than your refusal to rise to the bait that they are using to try to lure you into self-doubt or worse. It is for some a nasty game and for others a way to try to bring others down to their level of misery and self-loathing. Withhold consent.

Perhaps one way to reinforce your positive feelings about yourself is to start each day with a little prayer asking God to be with you throughout the day. If you believe that He man prayingis with you; then, when you encounter someone who is trying to make you feel inferior, you can quickly bring up this thought from Romans 8:31 – “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Indeed. With God in your corner, it’s relatively easy to withhold consent.

Have a great, self-assured and empowered day.


You decide what kind of day to have…

October 25, 2017

From a list of quotes that I keep on hand came a really meaningful one from Stephen Covey – “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

I’m sure that we all know someone, (perhaps it’s you) who is always lamenting their bad luck and complaining how life seems out to get them. They blame their state in life on the circumstances that have befallen them. Perhaps you also know someone who is athis-is-me Pollyanna-type who always finds a way to make lemonade out of the lemons that come their way. Which are you? Which would you rather be?  The one has decided to be unhappy with life and the other will not let life ruin their happiness. You decide what kind of day you will have.

Let’s face it; stuff happens. Life does not always go as we had planned or hoped. failuresSometimes we just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and something bad happens. Sometimes we actually make the bad decision to be at that place. Whichever it is, you are then faced with more decisions about how to react to things that are happening or that just happened. Perhaps another quote sums up your situation best: “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” —Charles Swindoll. Since your day is made up of events that you will react to; you decide what kind of day you will have.

I’ve posted her before about reacting to things and problem solving, so I won’t rehash those bits of advice. I think the main thing to focus upon is recognizing that you are reacting to things that are happening around you or to you and that you’re making decisionsdecisions about what to do next, instead of letting some knee-jerk reaction control your future. By being conscious of your situation, you can choose to react in a positive way, rather than a negative way. You can choose to move forward with your life in a positive way, rather than shrinking back or retreating into depression. You can be in control; not of the situation, but of your reaction to it. You decide what kind of day you will have.

In my post – Life is lived somewhere in between – I mentioned a little prayer that I use almost daily to put myself in the right frame of mind for the day – “God help me make good decisions today.” Keeping that little prayer in mind forces me to acknowledge that, right-and-wrongwhile I may not be in control of the things that are happening, I am in control of the decisions that I make in reaction to what is happening. Realizing that causes me to take a little pause and ask myself, “What is the right thing to do?” Just that little pause and that thought will allow you to see what God is telling you to do and you will make better decisions. You decide what kind of day you will have.

Maybe you forgot to say that little prayer this morning and life has already thrown you a curve ball. Maybe your initial reaction to that situation was a knee-jerk response thatwoman-praying took you off in a bad direction. It’s never too late to turn back to God and say “A little help here”. Maybe you need to ask for God to help you recover from a bad decision. God will always be there for you and it’s never too late to ask Him for help. It’s as simple as this little prayer – “Not my will but thy will be done.” You decide what kind of day you will have.

Have a great day! It’s your call.


A good return on your investment…

October 23, 2017

From recent posts on the Jack’s Winning Words blog come these two quotes that just seem to belong together…

“Be nice to people…maybe it will be unappreciated, unreciprocated, or ignored, but spread love anyway.  We rise by lifting others.”  (Germany Kent)

“What I know for sure is that what you give comes back to you.”  (Oprah)

What a nice way to start the week off, by getting in a giving frame of mind. The Bible says, “Give and it will be given to you” – Luke 6:38

When we hear the word “give” our thoughts immediately turn to our wallets and money. There are certainly more than enough appeals going on at any one time to empty out ourdonate 2 wallets and we are a generous and compassionate people. However, what the Bible and these two quotes really mean at their core it to give of yourself – your time, your attention and your love. Give that to others and it truly will come back to you.

What does it cost you to be nice to people? The time and attention and love that you show to someone else by being nice to them doesn’t come out of your wallet, it comes from your heart and it is more precious than anything that you might have in your wallet.

homeless-beggarWalking by a beggar on the street and perhaps tossing a few cents or a dollar in their cup is really a form of ignoring them and their plight. You make them go away in your mind, because you tossed that money their way. After all it’s too much of a bother to stop and talk to them, to try to find out how they got there and what would really help them escape the cycle of poverty that they are in. Our government tends to take that approach all too often.

You may not see a beggar today; but, there are hundreds of people that you might meet who are hungering for someone to talk to or from whom they would appreciate some acknowledgement and perhaps the sharing of a friendly smile. If you ask someone, “How ae you doing?” and they start to tell you about an issue in their life; do you mentally saybeing kind 1 here’s a dollar and wish you could walk away or do you pay attention and offer your support?

You don’t have to try to solve other people’s problems for them; however, by listing, empathizing, and perhaps offering your advice; you may help them see how to solve their problems themselves. At a minimum, you may make them feel better and perhaps you will feel your boat rise a little too by helping them raise theirs.

So, be nice to others this week. I think you’ll see a good return on that investment.