Be careful with your words…

September 14, 2021

Pastor Freed used this quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.”  (Unknown)

Also today’s quote of the day from a site that I get a daily feed from had this quote –  “To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.” (Benjamin Alire Sáenz)

Both contain great advice about watching what you say, or at least being more aware and careful about it.

Freed went on to write about his Swedish Uncle John admonishing a then sassy child to  “Tyst med du!” which meant, “Be quiet!”, in Swedish.

Sáenz related a story that he had written about a child named Ari who’s father came back from the View Nam war a changed man, seemingly uncommunicative and very careful with his words. Ari came to appreciate his father’s careful choice of words when he did speak.

We should all be more careful about what we say, instead of just blurting out the first things that comes to mind. Maybe that is why we need the Lord to keep his hand over our mouths. Invariably, when I stifle the urge to blurt something out in reaction to an event or person, I quickly realize how inappropriate, or maybe even hurtful, it would have been to let that thought fly out of my mouth. Does that ever happen to you?

I have noticed the trait in some people to give thoughtful consideration to what they are about to say and the words that they will use. President Barack Obama was one of those people. If you watched him closely, you could actually see that he was considering the words to use when answering a question or making a statement. I suspect that some of that was his legal background.

Being careful about what you say, and about the words that you chose to say it, requires the discipline to stop and think before using your mouth. People may think of you as being deliberate and that is a good thing. Spontaneity is a good thing if you are cheering for a great play in sports; however, it can be a dangerous thing if you engage your mouth before engaging your brain in response to someone’s question or statement.

The book of Proverbs in the Bible is a rich source for advice about our words –

Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”

Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Proverbs 18:20 “Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”

Start your day by adding the line from Jack’s Winning Words to your prayer and imagine throughout the day that the Lord has his hand on your mouth. Take time to think before you speak, and the Lord will remove his hand. Bring satisfaction from the words that you let slip during the day.


Keep looking for the rainbows in life…

September 13, 2021

We tend to associate rainbows with the beautiful and positive things in life. Here are two quotes that I had in my collection of quotes about rainbows –

“If you want to see the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”  (Dolly Parton) Parton

“You’ll never find a rainbow if you are looking down” – Charlie Chaplin

Dolly reminds us that there will be hard times in life, but that there is often a rainbow at the end of each hardship. We must persist through the tough times to get to the good times. Having the attitude that you will get through whatever you are facing and continuing to look for the rainbow at the end is made easier if you recall the words “…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

It is in that peace, just as in the calm after the storm, that you will often find the rainbow.

Chaplin’s quote reminds us to keep our heads up and not get down, during difficult times. If you walk through life with your head down, you will miss seeing the rainbows in your life. Always be looking for the good things in life (the rainbows) and you will find them. Ziggy Marley put it this way, “There’s a rainbow in the sky, all the time, don’t be blind.”

An even better approach to life was suggested by poet Maya Angelou – “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” Imagine how good it would feel to be the rainbow in someone else’s life. Keeping your head up will allow you to see those opportunities, too.

Yes, there will be rain in your life – failures or disappointments, setbacks and even the deaths of loved ones. However, if you keep the faith and keep your head up, there will be rainbows, too. Keep looking for those rainbows and keep being a rainbow to others.


Who are you pretending to be?

September 6, 2021

Psychologist Carl Rogers said – “What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.” Rogers specializes in helping people be themselves unashamedly and confidently. That begs the question that forms today’s headline – who am I (or you) pretending to be?

It is not unusual to see young people – girls and boys – dressing like their heroes and maybe trying to talk and act like them. After all, youth is a time when we are still trying to decide who we are and what we want to become. Hopefully one can come to grips with the who we are part and accept themselves, so that they can move on the who we want to become part. Some never do and spend their lives trying to live as someone else. They are pretending.

I’ve posted here several times about loving yourself, accepting who you are and moving on with life. That is an important first step to take before you can truly love others. An important precursor to loving yourself is accepting God’s love for you. If God can love you, who are you to question his judgement? So, get in touch with God and accept His love and then you can get in touch with yourself and love who you are. You don’t have to pretend with God or with yourself.

I think it is OK to have heroes, so long as what we try to emulate about them are the good characteristics of who they are – their moral character – and not just pretend to be them by dressing and talking like they do. There is no benefit that accrues to you by looking like your heroes, but there could be great benefit from emulating their focus and resolve, their willingness to work hard to achieve their goals, or their kindness and generosity.  

That makes it all the more important to choose the right heroes to begin with. Choosing to model yourself after a villain, whether a movie villain or a real-life bad guy, is a receipt for disaster in life. Sometimes that choice is subtle, like going along with something that you know is wrong, just to get along with someone that you idolize. Many got into drugs that way, by following their rock and roll heroes down that path. That always ends badly.

So, ask yourself if what you are doing is the real you or are you pretending to be someone else? Try being the real you, making your own decisions about what to wear and how to act. You might be surprised to learn that, if you portray the real you, you could become someone else’s hero? Imagine someone trying to be like you. Would you be happy about how they are acting?  

Who are you pretending to be? Try openly being you – that’s good enough for God and it will be good enough for everyone else, too. Try it, you’ll like it.


Don’t overthink it…just do it.

August 30, 2021

How many times at the end of a day have you ended up with a bad case of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s” over things that you didn’t do during the day? It happens to us all. There are things that we hesitate doing out of some fear of the unknown. Perhaps we avoid meeting or greeting someone because they look different from us. Or maybe we don’t go someplace because of some totally unfounded fear. Maybe we do not even attempt to do something new because we fear that we will fail.

A couple of quotes that I’ve had laying around for a while seem appropriate –

“A small act is worth a million thoughts.” (Ai Weiwei)

“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.” – Brené Brown

In the weekly prayer for forgiveness that we use at my church we ask God for forgiveness for “the things that we have done and for those things left undone.” It is in those things left undone that most us need to seek forgiveness, especially those things eft undone when it come to helping others. We spend too much time thinking, or worrying, about reasons not to do something and the moment quickly passes. Maybe we spend too much time thinking about how we might do something and again the moment passes. That is where the words of Al Weiwei really apply. We can have a million thoughts of doing wonderful things, but if we do not act they are worthless. One of my Mom’s favorite sayings was,” the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” You can easily substitute “thoughts” for the word intentions.

Brown’s words, too, speak to overcoming our initial fears and actually trying (showing up) new things. Each time we get through that barrier of fears we become a bit braver for the next time. Even if we show up and one of our fears proves to be true, the fact that we survived it or overcame it makes us a little braver for the next time. Hopefully we learn from the experience.

So, you have to act; you have to show up. Ending the day with the thoughts that, “I wish it had gone differently, but here’s what I learned”, is so much more satisfying than ending it with a case of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s” because you didn’t even try.

Don’t overthink life…just live it.


Be somebody’s and be your own

August 27, 2021

Every now and then, I notice that a couple of the little quotes that I collect just seem to go together or maybe have more meaning when used together.

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.”  (Oscar Wilde)

“I can be somebody’s and still be my own.” – Shel Silverstein

I have written a few times about the importance of loving yourself, before you can really love others and Wilde’s quote seems to sum it up nicely. A component of that self-love that I have also written about is the ability to forgive yourself for mistakes or failures. One key to both is accepting the forgiveness and love of God in your life.

Being yourself and loving yourself means being able to be content when alone and not being dependent on another for your sense of well-being or fulfilment. It means having your own independent interests and opinions. It means finding wholeness within yourself and not as a part of someone else. You may share a great deal of who you are with someone else, but at the end of the day (or the relationship) that part comes back to you.

Silverstein’s quote speaks to the commitments that we make as we become someone else’s husband, wife, father, mother, lover, friend or relative. We give a part of ourselves to them and share our love with them; however, we remain ourselves and must still love ourselves. I suspect that it would be very hard to have a serious relationship with someone who did not love themselves. You may be there for them, but that s not the same as giving yourself to them.

When you don’t love yourself it very difficult to share yourself to someone else because you feel that it would be like sharing a flawed gift. Your inability to forgive and love yourself may embarrass you or make you feel ashamed of yourself. It certainly doesn’t put you in the mood to openly share of yourself.

So takes Wilde’s advice and start that lifelong love affair with yourself. It may help to first accept God’s forgiveness and love for you. It is a small step from there to being able to love yourself. Only then will you truly be ready to be somebody’s, because you will already be your own.

Don’t you just love it?


Outgrow yourself…

August 25, 2021

I saw this quote on another blog – “You are allowed to outgrow people. This includes past versions of yourself.” – Mandy Hale from the blog theenlightenedmind622

We may not think immediately of the term “outgrow” when we reflect on old friends that we no longer associate with and we seldom have enough self-awareness to recognize the old habits that we have abandoned; but both reflect “growth” in our lives. The growth is in wisdom. We outgrew them (or the old us) in large part because we acquired new knowledge and used that knowledge to make changes in our lives.

In some cases, people tumble into “toxic relationships” with others, perhaps a “friend” with some bad habits or prejudiced feelings about others. When you become aware of those bad habit or traits you have a choice to make about remaining friends with them. You may conclude from a thoughtful analysis of the situation that there is little upside to remaining in contact with them and lots of potential downside. If the relationship is a marriage, it is all the more important to be honest with yourself about the good and bad of staying in the relationship. All too many abusive marriages end after too much pain and suffering, sometimes even with the death of one of the partners. Live is too short to stay in toxic relationships.

Outgrowing yourself means that you have taken the time to examine the decisions that you make about things and about people. You have thought about what pre-conceived notions or even prejudices you have allowed to creep into your life which now dictate your actions and reactions. The beginning of the growth that you might be experiencing is the recognition of factors that are controlling our thinking that have no valid basis in fact or proof. Once you begin to examine and question why you think a certain way, you are ready to outgrow the old you.

It is important that you allow yourself that growth as Mandy Hale said. You must give yourself permission. A part of that permission is forgiving yourself for your earlier behavior. You need to own it and then forgive it and move on to the new you. You’ve outgrown the old you.  

In order to grow, many things need to be nurtured. The way one nurtures growth in their thinking is to think about it. One needs to take time for reflection on the events of the day and the decisions that were made. It might also be good to question why you are driven in certain directions, maybe towards or away from certain people. Asking your self as you go through the day, “Am I making this decision based upon facts or feelings and what is driving those feelings.” If you find that fear is a common feeling, you need to question what you fear and why. You need to outgrow those fears.

It’s probably a good thing to take time at the start of each day to ask God for the presence of mind during the day to think before acting or reacting. Most people have some set of goals in mind for the day. Perhaps you could add a goal of personal growth by resolving to outgrow old fears or pre-conceived notions. Then you would have something else to be proud of at the end of the day.

Outgrow yourself.


Ouch! Oh, now I understand…

August 23, 2021

I spotted this quote somewhere recently and it struck a chord with me –“The trouble with using experience as a guide is that the final exam often comes first and then the lesson.” (Anonymous)

How true is that! Much of what we learn in life comes to us right after a failure or a mistake. One might say that much of wisdom is built on the bumps and bruises of life. Some things we can learn out of books or be taught about in classes, but it is through experiences that we truly build wisdom.

The whole trial and error process is a key component of the Scientific Method that we hear about so often. Scientists come up with a hypothesis or theory and then design tests of trials to either prove or disprove those theories. Even medicine works that way, with clinical trials conducted to test the efficacy of drugs that “in theory” should work against a particular disease or condition. It is through those clinical trials that the drugs side effects are uncovered and they are evaluated as risks or downsides against the positive effects of the drug.

The learning process doesn’t always have to be painful; however, it almost always results from failures. So, taking steps to reduce the pain of a failure and at least trying to learn from them is a valuable use of your time. The Scientific Method tries to make it easier to learn from a trial or experiment by reducing the number of variables that could impact the outcome. That is a factor in why drug trials can be so hard to get into. Your medical history or even your genetic makeup may place you outside of the factors that the scientists are trying to control.

In normal day-to-day life we may “test the waters” for things like asking for a raise or maybe asking someone out on a date. We may also try to do things, perhaps without thinking them through, and fail at it. If we use that experience to learn we are building our wisdom. If we just keep making the same attempt over and over, without change; well, that’s just crazy.

So, live your life with an awareness that every day is an experience that we can learn from, every interaction with another person is an opportunity to learn, and every decision that you make is a trial that could result in an error or an unexpected outcome. Learn from the results of those decisions. Maybe, instead of using experience as a guide for life you should use experience as the goal of life – get out there and experience it – the wisdom will come later.

And don’t worry about life’s final exam – you have already been given the answer to that test by Jesus. Everybody who believes passes that test.


Free yourself…

August 21, 2021

I saw this quote recently in a daily email of inspirational quotes that I somehow got on the mailing list to receive.  

“Forgiveness is just another name for freedom.” – (Byron Katie}

One may be excused for not immediately associating freedom with forgiveness. However, if you think about it for a while, the inability to forgive, whether it be forgiving someone who has wronged us in some way or forgiving ourselves for our own mistakes, holds us captive to the bitterness and pain from which we cannot free ourselves.

If, or once, we find it in our hearts to forgive, we are free to go on with life, unencumbered by the baggage of past transgressions, whether by us or against us.

We can find the advice to forgive others in the Lord’s Prayer, where we are admonished to forgive the transgressions (sins or trespasses are terms also used)  of others as God forgives our transgressions. It is in accepting that God forgives us that we also find the reason to forgive ourselves and free ourselves to move on in life.

Forgiving others is sometimes not easy, especially if it is still close in time to whatever the incident was that needs to be forgiven. Sometimes there is an initial reaction of shock to some slight, rejection or wrong that we perceive has been done to us. That is usually quickly replaced by anger. We get mad at someone or maybe at ourselves. We seek someone to blame for what has happened. Hopefully those reactions dissipate quickly, and we can start to think rationally.

There is no way forward along the paths of hate or disappointment that does not lead to further hate or even to depression.  The only way forward that leads to a better life is to forgive. The forgiveness path replaces hate with love. Forgiving does not equate to forgetting, it just means putting the incident in proper perspective and making the choice not to continue down the paths of hate or disappointment. If God can forgive you for your mistakes, surely you can forgive others for theirs or yourself for those same mistakes. If you can reach that point, it is a short journey down that path to get to love for those same people or for yourself.

I know of no greater example of this than the forgiveness that the survivors of the racial massacre of nine worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015. After the initial shock of the heinous act by Dylann Roof wore off, the survivors found it in their hearts to forgive him and even to pray for him. They freed themselves from the fears and hate of that incident and found a way to share God’s love.

Let us hope that none of us are involved in anything so horrific. Let us also strive to put whatever smaller incidents have taken place in our lives into perspective and move as quickly as we can to forgiveness, so that we, too, can be free.

Forgive…Free yourself.


Glue your life back together…

August 20, 2021

In his blog (Jack’s Winning Words) this morning, Pastor Freed used this quote – “God is the ‘Goodness Glue,’ the love that holds the dark and light of things together.” (Fr.  Richard Rohr)

We sometimes hear the term “shattered life” or maybe that someone was “broken up” by events in their life. The fact is that we all experience things that overwhelm us and seem to shatter the world that we live in and us with it. It is in those times that we really need the “Goodness Glue” to put things back together.

Pastor Freed wrote about Gorilla Glue being touted as the most powerful glue on the planet earth. It is relatively easy to use; just unscrew the cap and put some on the pieces that need to be reconnected. Fortunately, God’s Goodness Glue is also easy to use. Just start to pray and let God use his love to put your life back together.

The things that tend to disrupt and shatter our lives tend to be losses and fear. We may lose a loved one or suffer a breakup in a relationship. Maybe we lose a job or a home. Then the fear sets in. Fear for the future. The “what will I do now”, kind of fear. Some of that fear is caused by the feeling of being alone in the circumstances in which one finds themselves. However, we are never alone. God is always there with us, and we have but to call upon him to begin experiencing his Goodness Glue. Uncap God’s Goodness Glue with the simple prayer, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

With worldly glue, like Gorilla Glue, you can feel the stickiness of the glue on your fingers (don’t feel it too long or you’ll end up in the ER with fingers stuck together). With God’s Goodness glue, what you feel is the sense of calm (God’s peace) that comes over you once you accept his help in your life. Somewhere in the back of your mind you can hear God whisper, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”

So, when life deals you a shattering moment, just get out the Goodness Glue from God and glue your life back together. Let the peace that comes with God’s Goodness Glue settle over you. Gorilla Glue advertises that it is for the toughest jobs on planet Earth, but when you need something tougher for problems that seem Earth shattering, call on God and his Goodness Glue.

Let God’s Goodness Glue put your life back together.


Dream bigger…

August 17, 2021

I saw this little quote from Laird Hamilton, a world class surfer, in a series of quotes from athletes – “Never let your memories be bigger than your dreams.”

Athletes seem to always be focused upon doing better, running faster, scoring more, achieving greater. That focus on doing better in the future is what keeps them going and training.

As one gets older, it becomes more difficult to keep one’s dreams ahead of one’s memories, especially if one has lived a full and satisfying life. However, I think it is important to continue to have dreams and goals that you strive to achieve. Perhaps those dreams are a little less ambitious than they once were and maybe they are more focused upon doing things for others, but they still provide a purpose in life and one can still strive towards achieving a new personal best in whatever they are trying to do.

The physical limitations that creep in with age can seem to put a cap on the things that we can dream of personally doing, but we may just need to dream of achieving them in a different way. Many top-level athletes become coaches when their playing days are over. They use the knowledge and wisdom that they collected when they participated to teach others how to do it even better than they did.

There are opportunities like that in the non-athletic world, where there is a constant need for teachers, mentors, tutors, and coaches. There is something very rewarding about seeing someone whom you have taught or mentored being successful and being able to think, “I taught him/her how to do that.”  Your dream may shift from thoughts about yourself to hopes for your protégée.

Of course, one never completely stops thinking about one’s own future and dreaming about what that may hold. Thoughts and dreams may shift towards what comes next. It is then that the reassurance that there is a “next” can bring the most comfort. There are many passages in the Bible that talk about Jesus’ promise that those who believe in Him shall have everlasting life. Perhaps that is the biggest dream of all. I can’t imagine any of my memories of life here on earth rivalling what is in store in that dream – what is next.

But, while I’m still here, I choose to continue to dream – to have work to do, unfulfilled goals to pursue and personal bests for which to strive. I have lots of great memories, but I also have lots of new memories to make, new friends to meet and new goals to achieve.

Never stop dreaming; in fact, dream bigger.