Look for good and focus upon it…

August 29, 2019

The quote that Jack used in his Jack’s Winning Words blog today is this short phrase – “Focus on the Good!”  (The Christophers)

Yesterday I wrote about putting a smile in your voice to make your day better and Jack left this comment – “SOMETIMES////EASIER SAID THAN DONE”. I suppose that I could return his comment as a comment on his post this morning.

It is sometimes very hard to focus upon the good because there is so much noise made about the bad. The evening news casts provide a prime example. Both local and national news shows seem to be focused upon telling us about all of the bad that has occurred. Locally it’s about who shot who, who robbed who, who carjacked who and on and on. At fire burning homethe national level it’s about large scale disasters or foreign wars (trade wars or shooting wars) or plane crashes or other bad news.

The national news organizations often fly their talking head to the scene so that he/she can stand in the devastation and report. The dumbest and most insensitive thing that all of the newscasters do, including Lester Holt, is to thrust a microphone in the face of a grieving person at the disaster scene and ask, “How does it feel to lose your entire family?” Just once, I wish someone would tell them to get the hell out of their face and leave them alone; but that response probably wouldn’t be shown on the newscast.

Some local newscasts and even at the national level, have been trying to balance things out a bit by taking a minute or two at the end of the newscast to show a good news or feels good story. It’s a start, but one has to endure the first 25 minutes to get to that part at the end.

smiling manHow does one focus on the good? It begins by resolving to look for the good – in situations and in people. There are many situations that are real or perceived setbacks in life – things that didn’t go as planned or as hoped. It is too easy to just see the bad in those situations and get down on life or on yourself. However, if you look hard enough there is good in even those situations, usually to be found in what didn’t happen or in the knowledge that you have gained.

A friend taught me a valuable lesson for life when he said, in response to me expressing my disappointment over something that had gone wrong with an event that we were responsible for running; “Well, at least nobody died.”  He was right. I was beating myself up for something that, in the great scheme of things, didn’t really matter all that much. Nobody died. I was focusing upon the bad and not all of the good that came out of the event. Now my wife and I both use that little phrase to stop ourselves from wasting too much time worrying about or regretting something that happened or didn’t happen that we probably had no control over in the first place.

What steps can you take to allow yourself to focus upon the good? First, you have to be looking for it. Go into every situation and every new relationship with someone looking for the good in it or in them. Second, you need to recognize the good. Sometimes the only good to come out of a situation is the learning that you get from it. If that is it, so be it. Learn from it and move on.

Finding the good in people is sometimes harder because it is difficult to put aside your preconceptions and prejudices. A good example is encountering someone that you don’t girl with nose chainknow who has visible tattoos or maybe a nose ring or perhaps just purple colored hair. Picture that and get a feel for your immediate reaction. Was it “Oh, wow, that’s so cool. I want to get to know this person better” or did you have a defensive reaction that caused you to shrink back from meeting that person? How will you be able to find the good in that person if you can’t even bring yourself to meet them and look for it?

How can you get in the right frame of mind to focus upon the good? Perhaps it is something as simple as asking God each morning to, “Help me see the good man prayingin all things and in all people today.”  At least you will start out the day looking for the good.  You may have to remind yourself several times during the day and maybe even remember that “at least nobody died” when you have a setback; but, I’m pretty sure that you’ll find some good in the things that occur and the people that you meet if you focus upon it. And that’s a good thing.

Have a great and focused day. Find the good!

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Be happy; put a smile in your voice…

August 26, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog featured this quote – “Smile when you answer the phone.  The caller will hear it in your voice.”  (Unknown)

Jack went on to write about trying to smile when he answers the phone, even if it is a sales call or a robo call. He even tries to have a pleasant conversation with sales call operators, with mixed results. I must admit that the flood of robo calls has probable taken the smile off my face when I answer the phone; but, I try not to be rude. Sometimes, just hanging up is the only solution to a persistent sales pitch.

The tone of your voice conveys a lot about your attitude at the moment. That is why people will ask if you’re OK when you mumble a frowney face greeting in return toEmoji_Face-with-Pleading-Eyes their cheery, “Hello.” It might just be that you were distracted and lost in thought when they encountered you or perhaps you were thinking about something unpleasant. Whatever the reason, you didn’t have a smile on your face or in your voice.

It takes a conscious effort to wear a smile on your face and to have one in your voice. Most of us have “at rest” faces that are much less inviting that we know. It’s not that we are unhappy or mad, it’s just that we aren’t making the effort to smile, to be happy.

You may ask, what do I have to be happy about; why should I smile? Well, for one; you woman-prayingwoke up again this morning. The alternative might be worthy of a frown. Second, the things and people that God has put into your life again surround you. Surely, those loved ones that you still have bring a smile to your face and fond memories of those that have departed can add to the reasons to smile. Perhaps starting your day with a brief prayer of thanks to God will put that smile on your face. Whatever it take, try putting that smile on each day before you venture out. Your day will go much better for that effort made first thing in the morning.

People with a smile on their face and in their voice seem to attract other people with theanimated-light-bulb-gif-22 same attitude and that leads not only to a more pleasant day, but often to a much more productive and successful day. Most of us prefer doing business with smiling friendly people, rather than some sourpuss sales clerk or co-worker who seems put out by having to talk to us.

So, take the time this morning to thank God for another day and all attitude-2of the things that He has provided. Ask that He stay with you during the day to provide you with what you need. Then, put on a smiley face and let it seep into your voice.

It’s going to be a great day!


What will you do with the ball?

August 20, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this sports quote – “The man with the ball is responsible for what happens to the ball.”  (Branch Rickey)

Another sports saying, probably from tennis, is the familiar, “the ball’s in your court.” Others include, “you’ve got the ball”, “give me the ball” and the ever popular, “don’t drop the ball.”

Sports metaphors are often used in inspirational speeches because they are easy to relate baseball glove and ballto and usually simplistic. Most people grew up playing sports of some sort and can quickly relate to how “life is like (fill in your favorite sports metaphor here). Many sports involve a ball of some sort and size, so metaphors that involve a ball are common. When we succeed, we got the ball over the goal line or in the goal; however, when we fail we dropped the ball.  What will you do with the ball?

man relaxingHaving the ball is much different from just being a spectator and watching the ball. Some tend to approach life as if they are a spectator. They sit back and watch rather than take the ball and do something with it. Yet life often thrusts the ball into our hands and we are forced to do something with it. We can pull back and drop the ball or we can take it across the goal line. What will you do with the ball?

Your faith is the ball that God hands off to you. You can take it and run with it, living football playeryour life in such a way that you get the ball over the goal line or you can fumble the ball. Just as the football player with the ball may have to break a few tackles to get to the goal line, you will likely have to endure some obstacles and things that want to bring you down on your way to the end zone. Hold strong to your faith (the ball) and you will reach the goal line. Your end zone is eternal life and you have the ball. What will you do with the ball?

woman-prayingSo, to slightly modify Mr. Rickey’s quote – The man with faith is responsible for what happens to that faith. What will you do with your faith?

You have the ball. What will you do with the ball?


Be extraordinary instead….

August 12, 2019

In a quote that I saved from the Jack’s Winning Words bog, Lou Holtz said – “I can’t believe that God put us on this earth to be ordinary.”

 Lou Holtz may have initially used that thought as motivation for his athletes at Notre Dame, but ILou_Holtz suspect that he had a broader application in mind for mankind in general. Lou is a devout Catholic and often speaks in motivational talks about the higher calling of man to serve others and God.

It is all too easy to be ordinary, to let yourself slip into that mode where the needs and problems that you see around you are someone else’s concern, not yours. It is less hassle to pass on the other side of the road from the injured man who helperwas beaten and robbed, rather than be the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37). After all, you have issues of your own to deal with, so you do not have time to stop and help.

Yet, somewhere is the back of your mind there is that little voice telling you, “you should stop and help”. Some might label that as your conscious. Lou Holtz might tell you that it is the quiet voice of God, trying to move you to not be ordinary – to do what He put you here to do.

There used to be an Army recruiting commercial on TV that used the tag line – “Be all that you can be.” Maybe that is what the little voice is telling you – don’t be ordinary, be extraordinary instead. Be all that you can be by stopping to help.

We see almost weekly stories on the nightly news about someone rushing to help in an emergency – maybe running into a burning building to rescue someone trapped inside homeless manor pulling someone from a car wreck moments before the car explodes into flames. Those “heroes” were not being ordinary. They did not decide to pass by on the other side of the road. They listened to the voice of God and helped. Did you drive by the same scene and keep on going, even though you thought, “Oh, those poor people, I hope that they are alright”? How ordinary of you.

One does not have to go looking for emergencies or crisis to find ways to help; to be extraordinary. Every community across this nation has volunteer organizations that are helping with poverty, homelessness, mental health, drug and alcohol addiction or other pressing issues. Extraordinary people who refused to pass by those issues on the other side of the road make up those organizations. You can join them and be extraordinary, too.

helping-2You don’t have to have great wealth to help. You don’t have to have great power to help. You just have to have compassion and resolve that you will make a difference by stopping and helping, instead of passing  by on the other side of the road.  Don’t let yourself be ordinary. That’s not what God put you here for.

Be extraordinary today!


What do you see?

August 5, 2019

From a recent post in the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought – “The traveler sees what he sees.  The tourist sees what he has come to see.”  (Gilbert Chesterton)

arrogantAs I thought about Chesterton’s quote, going to church on Sundays came to mind and the saying morphed into – “The self-righteous sees the church service. The faithful sees the face of Jesus.”

It is all too easy to become wrapped up in the beauty of the church building or the carefully choreographed rituals of the church service and be like the traveler in Chesterton’s quote. For many years the Catholic Church resisted the movement away from using Latin in the Mass because the inability of the laity to preacher-pointingunderstand what was going on was a big part of the mystery and drama that the clergy wanted to maintain. It was considered to be part of the show that the congregation has come to see. What do you see?

But, the faithful, like the tourists in Chesterton’s quote, have come to see something in particular – they have come to be with Jesus. In Matthew 18:20 we are told that Jesus said jesus-as-light– “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” The faithful came not to be entertained, but to see Jesus. What do you see?

Look around the next time that you are in church. Which one of the others who are there with you is Jesus in your midst? Is He the well-known congregant who is always faithfully at church or that stranger that you’ve never seen there before? Is He the infant noisily crying in the back of the church or the hunched over elderly man in the pew next to you? Could He be delivering the sermon or just listening to it like you are? What do you see?

 The difference between the traveler and the tourist that Chesterton was pointing out is one of intentional focus. For the traveler, the scenery unfold around them as they proceed, but it may be barely noticed – it is simplify background noise in their lives. For the tourist, the scenery that is unfolding around them as they go IS what they came togods-hands-2 see. They not only notice, but also take it in and savor it. It is often much the same with church. One can just get through the service, mindlessly mouthing the words of the songs and blankly staring ahead during the sermon; or one can be in the moment, savoring the time that they have to be with Jesus in worship. For those who open their hearts to God, church is a time to see what you came to see – the face of Jesus in your midst. What do you see?

 So, next Sunday; be the tourist and savor the moments that you will have with Jesus in your midst. Focus upon what you came to see and find God in the crowd, in the service and in the building. Ask yourself – What do you see? Do you see what you came to see?


Free from reason…

August 3, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “The law is reason, free from passion.”  (Aristotle)

Jack went on to write – Have you ever served on a jury?…or, have you ever had a jury pass judgment on you?  Aristotle describes not only the law, but also the ideal jury…reasonable and dispassionate…like the sculpture, Lady Justice, which gives form to impartiality blindfolded; fairly weighing evidence holding a balance scale; able to enforce the verdict grasping a sword.  At the Last Judgment, would you want a jury of peers, or God?

As I thought about what Aristotle said a variation came to mind – Faith is passion, free from reason.

Man’s higher-level ability to reason, to think things out and reach a conclusion or solve a problem is certainly one thing that sets him apart from other living things; although many primates have some level of reasoning ability. Reason, combined with no small insightmeasure of ego, is also what keeps man from knowing God. Man has always tried to figure out how he got here and wondered about some supreme force or being that was somehow in control of things. It is that use of the human ego, leading to the need to put God in our own human context, which limits our ability to know and love Him. Our reasoning keeps us from opening ourselves to a passion for God, to having faith.

What are we to do?

Stop trying to figure God out. Stop trying to force God into that little image that looks like you that you can conjure up in your head. Stop using your reasoning and open yourself to the passion of knowing – have faith.

The Star Wars franchise of movies introduced us to the concept of The Force, which comes as close to describing faith as anything else. Early episodes focused upon yoda drawingunderstanding and using The Force. The understanding part really boiled down to accepting and believing, which Yoda tried to teach Luke in the initial installment. It is interesting that there was no attempt in Star Wars to put a face on The Force or to characterize it as being something that looked like any of the characters in the series – there were no drawings or painting of The Force. In order to suspend disbelief and accept The Force in the Star Wars movies, one had to have faith in something that is never seen, but is always there to be called upon by the faithful – the Jedi.

Perhaps we all need to suspend our disbelief and free ourselves from reason. Once free woman-prayingfrom the need to figure God out, maybe we can move on to the passion of accepting and knowing Him in our lives. In that moment of passion, all of your cares, concerns, pains, fears and troubles will fade into the background. You will have found faith, free from reason.

May The Force be with you.


What do you see?

July 29, 2019

In today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog this quote is used – “I shut my eyes in order to see.”  (Paul Gauguin).

Jack went on to write about imagination and seeing “in the mind’s eye”. He even referenced John Lennon and his song Imagine, which he wrote as he imagined world peace for a world that seems to be constantly at war.

Athlete’s, especially those at the highest levels of their sport often use “visualization”, Tiger Woodswhich is a form of imagining to “see” the play or shot that they are about to try, in order to practice and perfect it in their minds. Note that imagination starts with the same root as image – the visualization of something.

man daydreamingMany of us likely spend some time imagining what we might do with the money as we buy our Lottery tickets. It is amazing how generous we can be in our minds with imaginary money. I wonder how many would carry through on that imagined generosity if they actually won. I wonder what I would do?

For many, a time of prayer is also a time when we close our eyes, so that we can “see”. What we are looking for is our imagined image of God. With the exception of those who saw Jesus when He was on earth, no one has actually seen God; so we all try to imaginepraying what He will look like.

There is a tendency for people to use the phrase “the face of God”, but that is limiting your imagination to your own human frame of reference. Why do we limit ourselves to imagining that God looks like us? How egotistical is that?

There is a cute commercial running right now about Chees-zits crackers in which one character tries to quiet a big wheel of cheese by putting his hand over what would be the location of a mouth on a human face. The wheel of cheese exclaims, “You think I have a mouth. I’m a wheel of cheese.” Perhaps God is saying to us, “You think I look like you? I’m God!” Let your imagination soar. Get outside the limits of your human existence and “see” God.

woman-prayingSo, close your eyes and look for God. Perhaps it is in closing our eyes and shutting off the key way that we see and perceive the real world around us that we allow our minds to imagine the God that is not of this world, but of the world to come. Let your imagination take you there. Perhaps along the way your imagination will encounter “the peace that passes all understanding” – Philippians 4:7.

Close your eyes and pray. What do you see? Can you see God?