Realizing the obvious…

May 4, 2022

Pastor Jack Freed posted this bit of wisdom today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words

“Live simply.  Love generously.  Care deeply.  Speak kindly.  Leave the rest to God.”  (Advice from the Old Hillbilly)

Given the current focus upon political correctness, Freed had to immediately clarify that he was not using the term Hillbilly in any derogatory way. He then opined that he believes in the advice.

I often like to combine quotes that I have collected over time, because they seem to make more sense of something when combined. Such is the case today. An earlier post to Jack’s blog used this quote –

“That’s the way things come clear…all of a sudden…And then you realize how obvious they’ve been all along.”  (Madeleine L’Engle) 

I think the “all of a sudden” part doesn’t necessarily mean that the realization takes place quickly, just that, when the light bulb comes on in your head, it feels like it just happened. In many cases it may have taken years. During that time, it wasn’t necessarily that you didn’t see the obvious, but rather that you were in denial of the obvious. That can be especially true in cases of prejudices that are driven by fears. One can go years declining the opportunities to meet new people because they are “different”. Maybe there are places that you “just don’t go” because you have unfounded fears of dangers that you can’t really identify.

Then, one day, you take that chance to talk to someone who is different or go to that place that you would never go to. Suddenly you realize that that person or place is very interesting and that talking to them or going there was a pleasure. You bang yourself on the forehead and think, why was I denying myself this experience all this while? You realize that is was unfounded fears holding you back and life becomes richer for having overcome them.

Perhaps if take the advice from the Old Hillbilly and invert the order things will look and be a lot different for you. If you stop trying to control everything (an impossible task anyway), and leave it to God, you will be free to do the rest of those things that the Old Hillbilly advised.

A quick and easy way to do that is to start each day with the little prayer that I like to use – “Not my will but thy will be done.” Then you can go on to say, “Bring it on God. I’m ready to Live simply.  Love generously.  Care deeply.  Speak kindly.” 

Realize the obvious.

Make new roads…

May 2, 2022

The Chevrolet division of General Motors has been using the tag line, “Find New Roads” for a while now and in life it is always exciting to have new experiences – to find new roads. Even more exciting I think is to make new roads. This quote that I’ve had in my “use in the future” file defines one way to make new roads. “Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.”  (Lin Yutang)

Hope also creates the paths in our lives that lead to our future. Sometimes it looks, or at least feels, like there is not a path to the future, but hope continues to drive us to forge that path if none existed before. Hope leads us to the thought that Hannibal expressed centuries ago – “I will either find a way or make a way.”

Making new roads is never easy and sometimes one pursues a path for quite some time before discovering or realizing that it is a path up a blind alley leading nowhere. In those cases, it is necessary to backtrack and start again on a different path. It is not necessary to give up the hope that is driving you, but it is necessary to recognize and admit that the path you were on isn’t going to allow you to realize your hope. In that case, a modification of the Chevrolet slogan makes sense – Make new roads.

There are many collective experiences of hope that involve many people walking on what are new roads. The last two years have found many people walking on the newly created road of hope for a cure or an answer to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are hopes for peace in the world, especially now with the war in the Ukraine. Make new roads.

You might think that hope based upon faith would be a wide and well-traveled road that is clearly marked by signs erected by the various religions of the world. For many, however, their personal faith is a new path that is not always clear or easy to walk. They may join others once a week on the highways of religious beliefs; but, on Monday the road may seem to narrow to a path or sometimes less. Sometimes hope points to a path never traveled before and that is when you must commit to your faith more than ever. Make new roads.

So, if your hopes are taking you down paths you’ve never traveled before, take a moment to get your faith bearings and put your trust in God’s will for you. Hope gets you started, but faith clears the way. You may soon notice that others of faith are walking along similar paths. Together, you are Making new roads.

So, grab the controls and enjoy the ride…

April 29, 2022

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “The bad news is, Time flies!  The good news is, You’re the pilot.”  (Michael Altshuler)

Freed when on to comment on studies that show that time does indeed seem to go more slowly when one is young that when older. I suspect that this is the same phenomenon that makes the return trip from a new destination seem shorter that the time it took to get there.

The real point of today’s quote is that you are still in control, no matter how fast things seem to be happening. Perhaps it is a blessing that time seems to fly. That usually means that you are busy and not just sitting around being bored with life. Personally, I know that I seem to be busier now, in my semi-retired life than I was when I was working full time in a big company. I have two part-time jobs and some volunteer work that keeps me busy each day. I also make it a point to do something with my wife each day and we have a dog that demands attention in exchange for the unconditional love that she gives us. Time flies by.

As we get older, I suspect that life, like that return trips from somewhere new, just seems faster because less of it is all new to us. Even though life may seem faster, there is actually more time to notice and enjoy the nuances that one might have missed when it was all new to us. We usually have become smart enough to be able to separate out the important things in life from  the chaff of distractions and the noise of “emergencies” that seem to pop up.   By slowing down and prioritizing the processing of what is happening all around us in life, we are better able to enjoy living it and not just focusing on “getting through it”. We can stop and smell the flowers.

So, grab the controls of your life and enjoy the ride. Another quote from Jack’s Winning Words seems to apply to this – “Wake up determined to go to bed satisfied.”  (Dwayne The Rock Johnson)            

Don’t ever forget that you are the pilot. Be determined that you will control not the events of the day but your reactions to them and you will go to bed satisfied with your day, no matter how fast it may have seemed to go by.

A good way to put yourself in the right frame of mind is to start each day with a little prayer thanking God for giving you another day, letting go of your need to control things by saying, “not my will but thy will be done”, and asking for God’s help reacting to things throughout the day. Then at the end of the day thank God again for your day and reflect on what you accomplished or learned that day.  It’s all good. Be satisfied. Enjoy the ride. You have God as your co-pilot.

Worry about liking yourself first…

April 21, 2022

I’ve had this quote lying around in my quotes collection for quite some time. I felt that it is true, but I couldn’t seem to find the right words to describe why I felt that way.

“Remember: The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.”  (Douglas Coupland, novelist)

Then it dawned upon me that I have written about why this true several times. It involves liking yourself and being comfortable with who you are. Feeling lonely is mostly about not having someone else there to affirm and validate who you are and that is based upon doubts that you may have about yourself. Sometimes those doubts are based upon the inability to forgive yourself for a mistake in judgement or actions. I’ve posted here a few times about forgiving yourself. Most of the time forgiving yourself involves accepting that God forgives you first. You really don’t need the reassurance of others to validate yourself. You can self-validate and indeed you must; but first, you must be able to accept God’s forgiveness and then forgive yourself.

Once you accept and become comfortable with who you are you will notice that is literally impossible to become lonely, since there are several billion other people walking the earth with you. Your interactions with those that you encounter will no longer involve using them to validate yourself; but, rather, sharing life experiences with them and, by sharing, enriching your life and theirs. You don’t need them to make you feel better about yourself, but by sharing time and experiences with them you both will feel better about life and yourselves.

There is a famous business book by Antony Thomas Harris titled “I’m OK – You’re OK” that deals with how to interact with people with different personality types. The key to using these techniques in business or in life lies in that first part “I’m OK”. You have to understand and be OK (comfortable) with who you are before you can move on to dealing with someone else.

So, maybe Coupland is correct. When we feel lonely, we need to be alone so that we can get right with God and ourselves, forgive ourselves if necessary, validate ourselves and get back to the point of feeling that “I’m OK”. If you can get there, the lonely part will take care on itself.

Hey, “you’re OK”, too.

Make your path…

April 20, 2022

Today’s inspirational graphic may seem to point to some hidden “path” to achieve your dreams; however, you take the first step along that “path” when you turn your dreams into goals.

All of us have dreams and most are simple musings about things that we think we might like to do or which might be fun to do. Sometimes those dreams take on greater meaning and become goals in our lives. Once they become goals, then this quote from Hannibal takes over – “I will either find a way or make one.” Hannibal famously made a way to get over the Alps in 218 BC to attack Rome in the second Punic War.

Many times, the dreams that drive us have no easy path to achieve, so we must make one. That usually means planning, dedication and hard work. Making the path to your dream often means getting the education that is required, whether that is learning a trade or getting advanced college degrees. One does not just stumble upon some magical path to becoming a doctor or lawyer or teacher. It takes years of hard work and perseverance. Make your path.

Turning your dreams into goals involves process. Part of that process is a realistic evaluation of your dream as a goal. Some dreams involve things that cannot possibly be achieved, due to constraints or requirements that cannot be met. Those dreams are best left as idle musings and one can then fantasize about what one might do if the dream came true. Once you have separated the chaff of pipe dreams from achievable goals, make your path.

Dreams that pass the test of being realistically possible and become a goal must then be turned into a roadmap (the path) of things that need to be done to make progress towards that goal. Once process takes over one can begin got break the path to achieving that goal down into smaller, achievable steps, with sub-goals along the way. Beware the tendency to try to achieve too much in each step or to become discouraged by the slow pace of the progress that you seem to be making. Celebrate each small victory or step along the way and keep revisiting and refreshing your view of the goal. Make your path.

Perhaps it will help if you print out Hannibal’s quote and post it on your wall to look at every now and then when you might get discouraged. It will remind you of the goal and of the need to make a way. It may help you be patient while making that way. If it were easy there would have been a simple and straightforward path in front of you. There seldom is. Make your path.

Venturing into the unknown to make a new path is a scary proposition; however, you have a traveling companion in God. If you trust in God and continually ask for his help, he will show you the way. You may find that God has a different destination in mind for you and that is OK. You will know that you have arrived at where God wants you to be when it dawns upon you that “this is what I was supposed to be doing”.  Make your path.

Keep Dreaming…Keep going…

March 31, 2022

In my role as a Realtor® I get a daily email with an inspirational graphic in it. Sometimes I’ll notice that a couple of them just seem to go together to create an entirely new inspirational thought. Such is the case today.

These two graphics came to me weeks apart, yet they just seem to work together –


I think the glue that holds these two thoughts together is faith.

One can have dreams that are mere idle musings and it is easy to let go of them. Life changing dreams are seldom so casual and often involve appeals to God for help in achieving them. That brings the second graphic into play. One must have faith to keep pursuing their dreams, even in the face of long delays or temporary setbacks.

Dreams are seldom accompanied by detailed plans and an exact timetable. Initial prayers are seldom requests for the patience and perseverance needed to achieve one’s dreams, yet that is what is most often required. Instead of questioning God as to why he hasn’t helped you achieve your dream yet, it is better that you should thank him for helping you get as far as you are and try to understand the guidance that he is giving you. If nothing else, at least acknowledge that it is not over yet, so your dream is still alive. Keep praying for the patience and perseverance to continue pursuing your dream.

We are told in the Bible –

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)

That quote from James also alludes to the real payoff of faith; not so much the achievement of earthly dreams, but the realization of eternal life through Jesus. Perhaps that points out to us that we have not been dreaming big enough.

If you haven’t realized that yet, don’t worry, it’s not over yet.

Keep moving but be at peace…

March 30, 2022

In his post this Monday to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith.  They keep it awake and moving.”  (Frederick Buechner) Pastor Freed went on to say that even he has doubts from time to time; however, he has found those doubts to be things that actually strengthen his faith.

How can having doubts about your faith make it stronger? I think the answer is that doubts throw you off-center; they trouble your mind and spin you away from the beliefs that your faith is based upon. Doubts are distractions and sometimes major events in one’s life can cause very big doubts and major distraction from our beliefs. This is especially true when we lose a loved one or when a major event causes seemingly catastrophic disruption to our lives. Think of the doubts that people in Ukraine must be gong through right now. Many times those doubts center around the thought “How could God let this happen to me?”

So, there you are, spinning further and further away from your faith. How do you reestablish your faith, re-center yourself and regain control? How do you actually make your faith stronger in the face of doubts?  I think Jack answered that question in an earlier post using a quote sent to him by one of his followers –

“Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace.”  (Sent by RVB) 

We say “peace be with you” often in church or maybe “be at peace” during a conversation, but how does one master peace? It all gets back to faith. The reason that one has ants in their pants is their inability to control things, to solve the unsolvable problem or face the reality of a temporary failure. We spend sleepless nights agonizing over the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” of life instead of accepting what has happened and moving on.

The quickest way to move on is to acknowledge your faith and accept that you need God’s help. I use the little prayer, “Not my will but thy will be done”, but you can use a prayer as simple as, “Yo God, a little help here.” The point is not to create long, flowery prayers, but to surrender your life to God and let him take control. Giving up the futile fight to control everything puts you back in control of your life by putting you back in control of how you react to the events of life. It puts you at peace.

So, Pastor Freed is right that those doubts actually strengthen one’s faith by forcing us to keep returning to that faith as the best and only answer to life’s challenges. If your life feels like you are standing on an anthill, circle back to your faith and ask God for his help.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:7)

The C’s and P’s of life…

March 16, 2022

As a Realtor® I have often written blog posts on my real estate blog about the three C’s of real estate – Condition, Clutter and Cleanliness. Those three things are critical factors in determining the price and speed at which a property will sell. In days past I would also usually also write about the three-P’s that that I advise the sellers about – Price, Patience and Perseverance. In these days of low inventory and rapidly rising prices the Three-P’s advice seems to matter less, but the three C’s still have a big impact on how quickly a property will sell and for how much.

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed uses this quote from one of his followers – “The 3 C’s of life: You must make a CHOICE to take a CHANCE, or your life will never CHANGE.”  (Sent  by Kathy M)

Certainly, that is good advice. One must stop and think about the direction that life is taking them in and make thoughtful choices about changing that direction by taking a chance on a different direction. Each day, when you wake up you arrive at that inflection point of continuing down the path that you are on or making changes in your direction.

I will submit that there are also three P’s to life which you can also use to control your future – Patience, Perseverance and Prayer.

The first two P’s are often in short supply in today’s fast-paced world of instant gratification; however, events in our lives often unfold at a pace that can be frustratingly slow. Perhaps that’s what makes the third P so important.

As you start each day, if you take time for a little prayer, it will give you the opportunity to ask God for the Patience and Perseverance that are required in life. It may also allow you to recognize that, whatever the small amount of progress that you made yesterday, it was still progress towards your goals. Be thankful for that and ask God’s help to make even more progress today.

I have posted here in the past that one does not have to compose long, windy prayers. God understands your needs, so a little prayer that I like to use, “Not my will, but thy will be done” can work. Even using a sports phrase like, “A little help here” works with God. The important thing is not how you ask but THAT you ask for God’s help. We have been told – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  (Matthew 7:7)

So, take to heart the advice from Kathy M and implement the three C’s in your life; but also practice the three P’s of life. If you have the courage to take the chance to make the changes that you see need to be made in your life, also have the faith to practice the three P’s.

Have faith in your new direction. God is with you.

Take the time to learn…

March 15, 2022

This quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog got me to thinking about how we learn from the past.

“How we handle what’s ahead of us will be determined by what we learned from everything that’s behind us.”  (Craig Lounsbrough)

The key word in that quote is “learned”. All of us have some time behind us, some of us more than others; but, did we learn from the things that are in our past. Some are destined to repeat the mistake of their past simply because they did not take the time to try to learn from those mistakes.

Learning is not necessarily an automatic process. There are some things that our brains process without us giving it a lot of thought, like not touching a hot stove because it will burn us. Most things that we should be learning from do require that we stop ad think about what just happened and what we can learn from it.

Some things that we learn from also require that we admit that we were wrong in our decision making process and require us to examine the “knowledge” that we had at the time upon which we based those decisions. That can be an ugly process because t often brings us face-to-face with our prejudices and baseless fears. Learn from that.

If you stop and think about a situation and the answer to your questioning about why you reacted as you did is ”I did not trust that person or I feared that person because their skin is a different color than mine”, then you have come face-to-face with your own prejudices. Learn from that.

Maybe, when you think about something that just happened that went wrong, you will find that you made some bad assumptions or based your decision on inaccurate or untrustworthy data. Learn from that.

The key to learning is always to stop and think about it. Often you will find that your knee-jerk reaction to a situation is not what you would do once you have had time to consider your response. Maybe just learning to take the time to think is the real learning in that.

Maybe it would help if you actually made time each morning to think about the things that happened yesterday or the day before and ask yourself, “What can I learn from that?” Perhaps you should just add to your morning prayers, “God, please help me learn from the past, so that I might be a better person in the future.”

Never stop learning and never stop trying to learn from your own past. That way you will be better prepared for what is ahead today.

Indeed, it is the deed…

February 9, 2022

Although I saw today’s quote recently on-line somewhere, I’m sure that it has been used in the Jack’s Winning Words blog, probably more than once.

 “The smallest deed is better than the grandest intention.” – Anonymous

I have also mentioned here before that one of my mother’s oft used phrases was, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” She would have agreed that the road to hell should probably be called ‘Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Lane”.

Inaction is often the path of least resistance and one too often chosen by many. For most the underlying cause is fear – fear of real or imagined negative or dangerous outcomes or fear of failure if we try. But surrendering to fear steals our lives away and we become zombies (the living dead). Early Twentieth Century reporter and author Dorothy Thompson put it this way – “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

We should not become content with ourselves if we know that something is wrong and do nothing about it. We do not have to try to single handedly conquer the worlds big problems – hunger, wars, disease, poverty and the like; however, we can act as an individual on any of them by supporting the big efforts that are already underway through organizations like The U.N. or The Red Cross or W.H.O. At a small. Local level there are any number of worthy Go Fund Me drives underway at any time and lots of local volunteer non-profits in need of help. You don’t have to be rich to make an impact locally where your volunteer time is often the most needed resource.

Sometimes it is just acting on your concerns or what you observe that can make a dramatic difference. Think how many recent tragedies might have been averted had someone who noticed a troubled person’s distress had acted to help them or get them help before they acted on their troubled state. Being more aware of your surroundings and the signed that are there as calls for help could make a huge difference in things like domestic violence or human trafficking.

Most people have good intentions, but their comfort zone keeps them on Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Lane instead of taking action to implement those intentions. Keep in mind that the size of the response based upon those intentions is not as important as actually taking the first steps to implement those intentions. Maybe keeping the Nike slogan – Just Do It – in mind will help or maybe remember those little WWJD bracelets from the 1990’s.

From Wikipedia – The phrase “What would Jesus do?”, often abbreviated to WWJD, became popular particularly in the United States in the late 1800s after the widely read book by Charles Sheldon entitled, In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do. The phrase had a resurgence in the US and elsewhere in the 1990s and as a personal motto for adherents of Christianity who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Jesus through the actions of the adherents.

I’m pretty sure that Jesus would not have let himself be trapped on Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Lane and neither should you let yourself be trapped there either. Even your smallest deed to act on those good intentions is better than wishing later that you had acted.

Indeed, it is the deed. Just do it.