What do you know about you?

July 28, 2021

I saved this quote about a month ago – “Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort.” – Fred Rogers

As I’ve looked at it over time, my thoughts on it have changed a few times. I’m not sure that I like the word “discovering” at the beginning. Perhaps accepting or dealing with would be a better way to start, but I suppose the revelations we make about ourselves as we become more conscious of our thoughts and actions could be classified as discoveries.

I also think the focus should be more on what we do about those discoveries than just about making them. How does one come to grips with discovering racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or anti-Semitic bents in one’s thinking? How does one deal with fears that are unfounded and based on biases or bad information that was instilled in us as children? When one is confronted with irrefutable evidence that a “truth” that we had long held is false, what are we to do?

Facts and beliefs have always coexisted in an uneasy mix in our minds and our perception of ourselves has always been made up of that same uneasy mix. Perhaps that is why some may have a tough time having love for themselves – they don’t really like some of the things that they see in themselves, yet they are unwilling to change what they see.

Discovering or getting to know yourself requires time to think and reflect on the thought processes that drive the decisions that one makes in life. How many of your decision are based upon real thought and how many are just knee-jerk reactions, based upon long held, but perhaps baseless biases or prejudices? When you recognize those poorly based decisions, what do you do about them? It’s a conundrum.

Without going to far down this rabbit home, there are a couple of passages from the bible that provide some guidance and hope for dealing with these issues.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

-AND-

“Whoever gets sense loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will discover good.” – Proverbs 19:8

Some people wear those little bracelets that have WWJD on them – What Would Jesus Do? Asking that question whenever you hit one of those knee jerk moments may help you at least stop to think about what is driving your reaction to the situation. So long as you are uncomfortable with the answer there is hope. Stop and try to discern the will of God – what is acceptable to God.

You may discover truths about yourself that you don’t like and that is OK, Discovery is the first step to recognizing and correcting them, it is the start to discerning what is good and acceptable and perfect. You may never get to perfect, but you can sure get further away from those old bad habits and reactions. As Mr. Rogers said, “It is worth the effort”.

What do you know about yourself and what is driving your decisions? Think about it.


Don’t be a pretzel…

July 27, 2021

Weeks ago, Pastor Freed used this quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“Life makes pretzels of us all.”  (Sarah Bird)

Life has a way of taking unexpected twists and turns that can tie us into knots and make pretzels of us all. I suspect that a big part of the impact that life’s surprises have on us is our inability to just go with the flow of life. Instead, we deny, avoid and fight against the unexpected changes that occur in life, choosing to hold on to our goals and plans instead of adjusting and formulating new ones that fit the situations in which we find ourselves. Don’t be a pretzel.

It is man’s ego that really causes the issues. We refuse to admit that things are beyond our ability to control. Rather than focusing upon our reaction to events, we continue to try to influence the events themselves.  But we cannot change what has happened and what is yet to happen. In the present, we cannot really influence what is happening so much as how we are reacting to what is happening. Many times, instead of turning a failure into a learning experience, we continue to rail against it and look for others to blame. Don’t be a pretzel.

However, life is not a big conspiracy against us and we have no one, other than ourselves, to blame for any failures or disappointments. Perhaps, we did not train or practice enough to succeed. Perhaps, on this day our opponent was just better than us. Perhaps we did not appreciate the size and complexity of the challenge and did not plan our attempt to conquer it well enough. Perhaps instead of visualizing success, we saw failure in our future and we let that vision came true. Whatever the reason, things didn’t turn out as we had hoped. Don’t be a pretzel.

What are we to do about the twists and turns of life to avoid tying ourselves up in knots and becoming a pretzel? We can begin by letting go of the notion that we have the ability to control things – we don’t. A good way to get in the right frame of mind to allow yourself to flow with life, instead of becoming a pretzel, is to start your day with the simple prayer, “Not my will but Thy will be done.” Accepting that God’s will, and not yours, is in control of things allows you stop wasting your time railing against the inevitable and start focusing instead on how you can best react to what is happening. You can turn your natural “fight or flight” reaction to the unexpected into one of learning and adapting.  Don’t be a pretzel.

So, will you be able to avoid life’s twists and turns? No. But you don’t have to let life tie you up into a pretzel. When life throws a twist in your way; right after you say to yourself, “I ‘didn’t see that coming”, pause and ask yourself, “I wonder what God has in mind for me in all of this?” That pause and question will put you in a frame of mind to start thinking clearly about how you should react and adjust to the situation, rather than just letting the fight or flight response take over your life and make a pretzel, out of you. Don’t be a pretzel.

Start each day with that simple little prayer and ask God to give you His peace in the face of the day’s twists and turns. God’s peace, which passes all understanding, will keep you from becoming a pretzel. Don’t be a pretzel.


Find happiness in today…

July 26, 2021

I have been saving this quote for a while – “Never forget yesterday, but always live for today…because you never know what tomorrow can bring, or what it can take away.”  (Tiny Buddha)

Of course, it came from a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, my favorite source for quotes.

I decided to use it today because of the stories over the weekend of various Olympic athletes who have had to withdraw from the competition because of testing positive for the COVID virus. Imagine how disappointing it must be for someone who has trained for 5 years for their opportunity (the extra year because of the delay of the games in 2020), only to be denied the chance to even compete at the last minute.

For one competitor, it must have been especially disappointing. John Rahm was at the Olympics to represent Spain. Rahm, you may remember, was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Golf tournament just a little over a month ago because of testing positive for COVID. He came back to win the US Open in his next outing and has been ranked number 1 or 2 in the world for some time.

In some of the interviews with disqualified athletes the disappointment of the moment had passed and they were already in the mode of training for the “next time”. For them, living in the moment means finding happiness in the small successes and improvements that come from a daily training routine and from knowing that they were doing their best.  Rahm expressed such an attitude after his withdrawal from the Memorial tournament.

We must all learn to accept and build upon the past, whether that is to continue improving or to learn from a failure and move on. It is OK to have goals and dreams that are out in the future. That helps motivate us. However, it is really important that we focus on living for today, doing the best that you can in the time that you will have today. Tomorrow may never come for some. For others tomorrow may provide nothing but setbacks or may prove to be a time of breaking through to a new level.

So, if we cannot change the past and we cannot control the future, that leaves us with just the present in which to find happiness. What we do with today is all that really matters and we can control that, or at least make good decisions as the day unfolds. Living in the moment means paying attention to the things, people and events around you as you encounter them. It means finding fulfilment and joy in what you do. It means being happy just to be alive and finding peace within yourself and with others.

Perhaps you can get into the proper frame of mind to live in the moment if you start with a little prayer thanking God for giving you another day. You woke up this morning and that is a great start to the day. After you thank God for another day, ask Him for His help to make this a great day; a day that you live to the fullest. You don’t have to forget yesterday, just put it where it belongs – in your past – and you shouldn’t spend too much time thinking or worrying about tomorrow – it will get here when it gets here.

Rather, let yourself become immersed in today. Take in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of today. Relish the opportunities to interact with other people. Become more aware of what new things you are experiencing or learning as the day progresses. Savor the day, for it is all the time that you really have. At the end of the day, you can take time to thank God for being with you and helping you enjoy the time. That would be a good time to ask Him for another day.

What will you do with today? What happiness will you find in today?


Are you ready for chance?

July 24, 2021

Today’s quote come from a post of quotes that I saw recently on the Internet. I’m not sure what you will think about when you read it, but I immediately thought of pilot Sully Sullenberger being prepared when his plane lost both engines shortly after takeoff.

“Chance favors only the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur

During interviews following the incident, Sullenberger said that he had been preparing all of his life for just such a chance occurrence and that this mental preparation just kicked in when it happened. I wonder how many other airline pilots spend much time thinking about what they would do if their plane was suddenly disabled? I suspect that quite a few have thought about that scenario since Sully landed his plane in the Hudson River.

I have posted here before about being ready to deal with the unexpected things that can happen in life. A major part of that preparedness is having the ability to not panic, to give yourself time to think, to analyze the situation and to formulate a proper response. That sounds like a lot to do in a split-second situation, but the prepared human mind is capable of amazing things.

We are told that a natural response to a threat is “fight or flight” to lash out in defensive response or to duck or run. Perhaps the better way to phrase the response choices is “react and then think” or “think and then react”. If you can train yourself to have the latter response to chance you will make better decisions and fair better when the unknow happens to you.

Chance happenings don’t always involve unexpected bad things. Sometimes chance puts us in a position for good things to happen and we must be ready to take advantage of those things, too. There are those who believe that good things happen to those who go through life in a positive frame of mind. There is probably something to that, but it may be because those people were already looking for the chance to have good things happen. They actually take some of the chance out of the picture by moving towards the good things.

So, how does one prepare their mind for the randomness of chance? It begins by having confidence in yourself and developing a pattern or system for dealing with problems in life. Some may call it their coping mechanism. For many that coping mechanism is based upon their faith. Faith may also provide a solid foundation for self-confidence. Faith provides a moral foundation for making quick decisions that can guide our reactions to various situations – the right and wrong of that decision making.

Faith may also allow us to make the quick call on whether the situation at hand is even one that we can actually  try to handle or whether it is “in God’s hands”.  We can waste a lot of time and energy trying to fix or react to something that is beyond our control or our ability to control.  The sooner that we come that decision the quicker we can refocus upon the only things that we can control – our reaction to the event.

Maybe before you start out each day (your take-off, so to speak), you can ask God to help you be ready for the chance occurrences of the day, to think before you react and to give you the wisdom and courage to deal with whatever occurs. Maybe just asking Him to be with you during the day will put you in the right frame of mind to deal with chance in your day.  Remember what we have been told – “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

Chance really cannot stand against those who have prepared their minds through prayer. They can say with confidence, “Bring it on, I’m prepared for you.”

Are you ready for chance?


Live it & own it.

July 22, 2021

I saw a car commercial last night for the Hyundai SUVs that had the tag line – “It’s your journey. Own it.” I thought what a great tag line for life.

All too often in the journey of life we allow ourselves to think as if we are victims, that life is out of control, or out to get us. The “poor me”, “why me”, “stuff always happens to me” victim mentality can be a trip into depression for many.  Don’t go there. Live it & own it.

Sure, things that are out of your control will happen to you, through no fault of your own; however, you do control how you react to those events. If you “own it” you accept that it happened and take steps to react, recover from it and learn from it. Live it & own it.

Sometimes, when you look back over the events that have just happened to you, you can see places where you made poor decisions. Learn from that revelation. Sometimes you may see nothing that you could have or should have done differently. In those cases, just reflect on how you reacted and whether there was a better way to deal with the situation. Live it & own it.

Accepting responsibility for your own actions and reactions to events is the most important step to dealing with them. It’s OK to say that you had no control over the things that happened, unless you did make the decision to do something really stupid that put you at risk. In that case, hopefully you had someone capture it on video so that you can submit it to the Jackass show or America’s Funniest Videos. That is one way to live it & own it.

For most, the passage from childhood to adulthood involves the acceptance of personal responsibility. In the Bible we are told –

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11

Children may be forgiven for not understanding why and how things happened to them and for reacting badly when things go wrong. As adults, we are expected to react in a different way, a more reasoned way, to the happenings in our lives. We are told in Galatians 6:5 – “For each will have to bear his own load”. God is there with us to give us the strength to persevere through our trials, not to take them away from us. We are expected to live it & own it.

Perhaps if you start your day with a prayer, not that God prevent anything bad from happening to you during the day; but, rather, that God be with your during those events and give you the strength and peace of mind to deal with them, your day will unfold differently. Yes, the bad things may still happen, but you are ready for them. You have God at your side. Live it & own it.

So, as you start out on today’s leg of your journey through life, remember the Hyundai tag line – It’s your journey. Own it.


Never stop dreaming – Never stop flying

July 21, 2021

I happened upon today’s quote while searching for something else recently.

1936 photo by Carl Van Vechten

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
 “Dreams”
by Lanston Huges

[From Wikipedia] James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. One of the earliest innovators of the literary art form called jazz poetry, Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance.

It is hard to imagine what it must be like for a bird that cannot fly, because of a broken wing. When flight comes as natural to you as breathing, to have that suddenly taken away must be a frightening and confusing thing. The bird is still alive, but not really “alive” because it cannot fly.

If we cannot dream of a better tomorrow, we become like that bird. Perhaps we lose all hope because we cannot see that better tomorrow in our dreams. People suffering from depression experience that feeling because they can see no way out of the situation that they find themselves in. They sink into despair because they have lost the ability to dream of a better time. They cannot fly on the wings of their imagination.

Most of us don’t sink into despair, but we may occasionally get so wrapped up in our day-to-day lives that we don’t take time to dream – we lose sight of our hopes for a better day tomorrow. I saved this quote from a cartoon character and it seems to fit –

 “Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.”

— Charlie Brown, from “Peanuts,” on pacing

Maybe Charlie Brown could have added something about taking time to dream while you are resting.

Rest is certainly important, so that we don’t burn out physically; however, taking time to dream, to have hopes for tomorrow, is also important so that we don’t burn out mentally.

Taking time to pray each day can provide a great setting in which to take that break from the stresses of your day-to-day life and set aside a moment for yourself to dream of a better tomorrow. Then you can ask God for the perseverance to never lose sight of those dreams and continue to pursue them. Perhaps that prayer will be the only step you take today towards realizing those dreams, but it is a step in the right direction and it keeps the dream alive.

So, don’t allow yourself to become like a broken winged bird. You can still dream. Keep your dreams alive. Keep your hopes alive. Keep your faith alive.

Take some time to pray and dream today. Someday soon you will fly again.


We need more dance numbers…

July 20, 2021

I appreciate the wisdom often found in the comics. The cartoonists often find ways to say things that I might have thought about but not found the words to express. Such is today’s quote.

Calvin: They say the world is a stage. But obviously the play is unrehearsed and everybody is ad-libbing his lines.

Hobbes: Maybe that’s why it’s hard to tell if we’re living in a tragedy or a farce.

Calvin: We need more special effects and dance numbers.

— Calvin and Hobbes, from “Calvin & Hobbes,” on the tragicomedy of life

Yes, life is unrehearsed, and we are all ad-libbing as we go along. Most of us aren’t living in either a tragedy or a farce; although, if one pays attention there is much in life that one can find amusing, even farcical.

Life seldom swings to the extremes of tragedy or farce and it can seem a little tame or boring at times. Nature often supplies the special effects these days, usually with tragic results. What we really need are more dance numbers – things that make us happy and inclined to dance.

I have opined here a few times on letting go of the things that trouble us by taking them to God in prayer. I recommend adding to your prayers the simple little line, “not my will but thy will be done.” Why? Because that simple thought frees us from the self-imposed burden of solving every problem or concern that besets us. It allows us to accept what may have already happened and face what is yet to be with a confident sense of God’s presence in our lives. We are not alone. We do not have to try to solve every problem by ourselves. God is with us.

Once you have lifted that burden off your shoulders, you can cue the band and enjoy a dance number. God does not want you to be unhappy. Instead, He wants you to celebrate life and be happy. We read in Ecclesiastes 2:26 – “To the person who pleases Him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness…”

OK, so it doesn’t say anything about dance numbers. You be happy your way and I’ll continue to happily dance away. Life needs more of that.

Thanks be to God.


Are you grateful this morning? Do you care?

July 19, 2021

I get a daily feed of graphics that are supposed to be used in my real estate business and most usually end up in posted to my Facebook real estate business page.

This morning I got a graphic that just begged to be posted here. I mean, how true is this?  

If you wake up in the morning grateful that God has given you another day, it will be a great day. If, on the other hand, you wake up in dread of facing another day, it will probably end up being a dreadful day.

Be thankful to God for another opportunity to do some good while you are alive and dedicate yourself to making the most of the day. That doesn’t mean that you need to run around doing good deeds all day; however, it does mean that you need to do the best that you can all day, whether at work, at home or at play.

Probably the most important thing that you can do today to be your best comes from the post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog today  – “The main thing is to care.  Care very hard, even it is only a game you are playing.”  (tennis great Billie Jean King)

You must care about life. You must care what you are doing and how you are spending your time here on earth. You must care about others, your feelings for them and their feelings about you. You must care about your impact on the environment and the world around you. You must become more aware and you must care for the things that you become aware of. If you care about these things, you will be grateful that you have another day to enjoy them and to be the best that you can be. Not to care is to cease to exist, even if you ae still alive.

Once you care about the people and things, you become grateful that God has given you another day and it becomes easy and natural to want to do better, to care more and not to waste the day. Perhaps one of the principles of the medical profession could serve as a good starting point for caring – to do no harm. It is easy to move from that principle to caring about doing good.

So, in your morning prayers, start with being grateful to God for giving you another day. Ask God for the courage, the strength and the perseverance to make the most of the day. Ask God to help you care about others and about what goes on during the day. Once you refocus from caring only about yourself onto caring about others and the world around you, your life becomes rich with meaning, and you will find even more things to be grateful for tomorrow.

Are you grateful this morning? Do you care?

Have a grateful and caring week ahead. You’ll have a greater life.


Are you facing the wrong direction?

July 17, 2021

Many of the cartoons that we read in the newspapers or elsewhere carry more than just entertainment value with them. Cartoonists can be philosophers in their own right and many use their cartoons to deliver great life messages and advice. I recently stumbled upon a site with quotes derived from cartoons and saved a few of them for this blog. One that focused upon attitude from the cartoon “Ziggy” caught my attention –

“Just remember… if things look hopeless, maybe you’re facing the wrong direction!”— Ziggy

How true is that! Hopelessness means that you have turned away from your dreams and ambitions and are staring in the direction of despair. Hopelessness is a sense of abandonment, which means that even God is not there with you. But how can that be? In Matthew 28:20 Jesus said, “I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” If you cannot see Jesus there with you, maybe you are facing the wrong direction.

So, if Jesus is with us, how can we be hopeless? Perhaps we have turned away from Jesus and looked for solutions to our problems within ourselves. When the problems that we face are too large for us to resolve, what are we to do? Maybe you are facing the wrong direction.

The truth is that things are going to happen in life that we have no control over. What we do have control over is how we react to those things. Do we let the situations of life overcome us or do we find a way to go on with life? Maybe we are facing the wrong direction.

We do not have to understand why things happen nor is it up to us to find solutions for every problem that we face. Sometimes the only “solution” is to accept that something happened that you cannot control and move on. Maybe you are facing the wrong direction.

What are we to do about all these things? We can find the answer in the Bible – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Is the peace that surpasses all understanding the answer or solution to all of life’s problems? No. But, it is the answer to how we react to those problems. That peace allows us to accept and deal with whatever life throws at us. If you find that you cannot be at peace and deal with life, perhaps you are facing the wrong direction.

Do not stare into the abyss of hopelessness and despair. Turn back to God in prayer and turn your life around. You’ve just been facing the wrong direction.


Be not afraid…learn to sail your ship.

July 16, 2021

I like finding quotes that seem to naturally go together, even if it takes a little thought to make the connection. Today’s quotes come from wildly different sources, but just seemed to make sense to me when put together.

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” – Louisa May Alcott

AND

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.  Nelson Mandela

As we sail through life we my encounter many storms, some much scarier than others. Fear is a natural reaction for many, especially to a storm that we have not encountered before. When we are young every storm is a crisis; however, as we grow older, whether we realize it or not, we become less fearful of new storms, because they usually have aspects that we have encountered and weathered before – we have learned how to sail our ships through them. Perhaps that is the secret to conquering fears that Mandela was referring to in his quote.

Fears of things unknown may involve a fear of “looking stupid” or just a fear of failing at something. Many times, it involves the fear of what others may think of us if we do, or don’t do, something, or fail at it. Sometimes we fear rejection and the humiliation of being turned down. Really big fears usually boil down to fear of suffering pain or death if one fails. In almost every case, we let our imaginations run wild with improbable scenarios of the consequences of failure.

Real ships are sailed using a ship’s compass as the primary way to navigate through the gloom of night and through storms. In life we need and depend upon a moral compass to get us through dark times and crisis. Real sea captains always check and reset their compass’s before setting out to sea. We can check and reset our moral compasses before setting out each day by taking a moment to reconnect with God through prayer. Perhaps you know that this will be a rough day, at work or for personal reasons. Ask God for a little extra help and guidance to get your through this storm. Let God be your compass as you learn to sail your ship.

Once we get through whatever the event was that we feared, we can look back at the course that we steered and see where we might have taken a different tack and sailed through the event better. We are learning to sail our ship with God as our compass. The longer we live and learn and the more we put our trust in God as our compass, the better that we get at it, until we can state as William Ernest Henley did – “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”

Set sail today with God as your compass. You can overcome your fears by taking your directions from God. Be not afraid…learn to sail your ship.