Find your way to peace in the present

September 21, 2019

In today’s post to his Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this little saying that he saw on a Burger King crown –  “No one’s happy all the time…and that’s OK.” 

Jack must have seen that crown in May of this year, when Mental Health Month was celebrated in the United States. We see mental health advice or tips in many places, mostly in cheery little messages that are trying to chase the blues away. It is more realistic to say, as Burger King did, that we all have ups and downs and that it is OK to be down a little, so long as you don’t allow yourself to spiral all the way down into depression. In fact, poking a little fun at being down can often help relieve some of the tension that comes with being down.

A down feeling can result from many causes – a failure or defeat at work, the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship and many other causes. In most cases the thing that you are down about was always out of your ability to control, but was all have a tendency to think that we could have done something different to effect the outcome and change history – we get down on ourselves.

That feeling of guilt stems from the thoughts that we could have done something different noticed something sooner or made a different choice or decision. Those thoughts can keep us awake at night going over and over the scenarios in our minds that will forever remained as options that we did not choose.

Sometimes our down mood is not about the past, but about the future – we play out option after option in our mind, fearing that the worst that we can imagine is going to happen. We spend restless nights in mental anguish fearing things that will never happen.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu had this bit of philosophical advice –

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.

Lao-Tzu  was a Chinese philosopher believed to have lived in the 6th Century BC and is credited with founding the philosophical system of Taoism, which stresses being in harmony with nature.

The best way that one can be at peace in the present is be at peace with God. Accept that God’s will has been done in the past and trust that it will be done in the future. Rather than lament what is past or fear what is in the future, marvel at what God is unfolding for you in the present.

Focus your attention on the wonderful people that he is causing to cross your path, so that you might experience them. Become more aware of, and thankful for, the wonders of nature that God has put all around you. Be thankful for the challenges that God is presenting to you to keep your life interesting. Make use of your time to learn and to increase your knowledge. Put 100% of your mental and physical effort into the moment at hand, rather than wasting either on things that are past or which may be in the future. 

Many find the Bible to be the best guide book for life and in the Bible we find these words –

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” –  John 14:27

Find your way to peace in the present.

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Are you in good hands?

September 9, 2019

Today’s headline is the tag line from the Allstate Insurance commercial. If nothing else, it begs the questions of who or what controls your fate. Some people profess a belief in Karma –

kar·ma

noun

(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.

Others see their future actions as being somehow predetermined by destiny or fate. Some have the hubris to believe that they, alone, will determine their own future.

A Christian knows that his/her future is in good hands, because they have entrusted it to God. Whether they use these exact words or not when they pause to pray before the start of the day, they are secure in the thought – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” They can focus not upon railing against the event of the day; but, rather, figuring out how to act or react to what God has put on their plate.  They are also comforted by the thought that God has promised not to give them things that they cannot handle and to always be there with them.

As you start a new week, how will you answer the question, “Are you in good hands?” IF you already know the answer, then you are in the best hands.


What meals do you remember?

September 4, 2019

In today’s entry to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack writes about his childhood memories of meals at home and used this quote – “As a child our family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.”  (Buddy Hackett)

Of course, Jack’s post brought back a flood of memories from my own childhood and the meals that we used to get back then. On today’s restaurant menus, what passed for a salad in our house would be called a Wedge Salad; although when my mom was served it back then, itlettuce wedge only came with a spoonful of mayonnaise as a dressing. Chopping a wedge out of a head of lettuce was a quick and easy way to have a salad. Most of the time the salad might have consisted of orange Jell-O with shredded carrot in it or perhaps the always-popular canned mixed fruit (one always hoped to get the cherry slices).

Jack mentioned liver and onions and that was big at our house, too; although as a child I hated it. My dad was a hunter and during rabbit and bird seasons, there was sometimes game on the table – mostly rabbit. It was always a joke that whoever got a piece of bird shot in their portion won the prize for the night. If we had chicken, it was always a whole bird and there was always a “wishbone” to be pulled. My sister and I would each take an end and pull until it broke. Iwishbone have discovered later in life that there are two different interpretations of who wins when the wishbone breaks. At our house, it was the short piece that the rules declared was the winner and the loser could hang their piece on a doorknob. In other houses it was apparently the longer piece that won.

Vegetables that were served with meals were most often canned – corn, peas, green beans, mixed peas and carrots, black-eyed peas, butter beans and the ever popular creamed corn. During the summer, we might actually have some fresh vegetables, especially snap beans or butter beans, and corm on the cob was a favorite. Occasionally, mom might cook up some greens (collard greens or spinach with bacon grease) as a nod to her southern heritage.

Desserts were rare, with Jell-O cubes again being a favored go-to for mom or occasionally ice cream – it seemed almost always to be Neapolitan. Of course there was the occasional pie or cake (angel food or pineapple upside down cake seemed to be the favorites at our watermelonhouse. In the summer months, a watermelon often served as dessert and we had fun spitting seeds to see who could launch them the furthest. The fall usually meant pumpkin pies and the occasional mincemeat pie or a shoofly pie (my dad was Pennsylvania Dutch, so that was a favorite of his). If all else failed, mom would just shift the canned fruit salad from the salad course to the dessert course.

What meals do you remember from your childhood? Do you remember when TV dinners were introduced and became a big thing? Have you ever eaten a TV dinner?How about fish sticks ( the go-to for fish for myTV dinners mom)?  Can you remember back before pizzas were available everywhere? What was your favorite “take out” family meal back then? Do you recall what it was like for the whole family to gather for dinner and not have a TV going or everyone looking at their phones?

Many of us have fond memories or maybe just vivid memories of childhood meals – loved or hated. What meals do you remember from your childhood?  As a matter of fact, how many of you even remember Buddy Hackett? Thanks Jack, for bringing back fond childhood memories.


Don’t hurt, get help.

August 30, 2019

The Jack’s Winning Words blog recently used this quote – “Hurt people hurt people!”  (Aubrey Fontenot)

Jack went on to write about people who were bullied themselves sometimes turning into bullies and shared a “feels-good” story about a bully who was befriended by the person that he was trying to bully.

In the broader sense, people who are hurt quite often take their hurt out on others by abusived wifetrying to hurt them – they share their pain. Hurts can come in many forms – a social snub, a painful breakup of a relationship, bullying by others, the sudden loss of a loved one and many other personal tragedies that hurt. Many of those forms of hurt can be passed on to others by the one is is initially hurt. Don’t hurt, get help.

The most common reactions to a threat or hurt are fight or flight. The ones who hurt timidothers because of their hurt are exercising a form of fight – they are lashing back at the world and those around them. The alternative is often flight, which can lead to withdrawal and depression in some people.  Don’t hurt, get help.

So, what is a third alternate? Maybe the best thing is to get help. That help can come in the form of professional help – a counselor or therapist – or it may just come from a trusted friend with whom you can share the pain or from your pastor. Inbeing kind 1 any case, having someone to talk with about the hurt can immediately help. It takes away the loneliness aspect of the pain. Don’t hurt, get help.

If the hurt is bullying, most schools and businesses now have programs to report such behavior and get help resolving the problem. There is no shame in reporting a bully. You are helping both yourself and that person when you do so. Don’t hurt, get help.

If the problem goes beyond bullying, or maybe involves inappropriate sexual behavior and work, school, in athletics or at church; there is now heightened awareness of those issues and certainly no longer any social stigma involved with being brave enough to angry womanreport it to authorities. There is no need to remain quiet or to be embarrassed about reporting someone for inappropriate behavior. The #MeToo era has removed the stigma and ushered in an era of empowerment for victims.  Don’t hurt, get help.

The loss of a loved one can often result in the person who is left behind becoming withdrawn and maybe even depressed about life without the departed. The pain of the loss is real and It needs to be acknowledged. A period of grief is natural; however, life goes on and it is important to put the memory of the person in its proper place in your mind and move on. Often people find the help that they need after churchsuffering the loss of a loved one in their faith. Your pastor may be the best person to turn to for that help.  Don’t hurt, get help.

What all of these examples have in common is that they do not involve you turning your hurt into pain for others. They don’t involve lashing out or bullying others. They don’t involve sharing your pain or loss by hurting others; and they are not about withdrawing into a dark place. They do all involve getting help with the pain. Don’t hurt, get help.

A first step to getting help is often admitting to yourself that you need help. A few quietwoman-praying moments spent in prayer is often the best time to make that admission to God and to yourself. Perhaps something as simple as, “God, I cannot deal with this alone. Give me the courage and strength to seek the help that I need to deal with this hurt.” With God at your side it is much easier to seek the help that you need. Don’t hurt, get help.

A surprising outcome for those who get the help that they need to deal with a hurt is that many end up helping others.  They find satisfaction and fulfillment working with people who are going through what they went through and passing on the message. You often see news stories about parents who lost a child to some accident or disease or other helpercause creating foundations to work to prevent or cure those causes of loss and pain. They have progressed beyond getting help to giving help. They are living the message – Don’t hurt, get help. 

For them the message has become Helped people, help people.


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!


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?