Create your own sunshine…Let the Son shine through you…

August 21, 2017

Amidst all of the eclipse, Jack Freed posted this thought today on his Jack’s Winning Words blog –  “Somedays you just have to create your own sunshine.”  (Unknown)

Jack went on to write…Here’s a thought:  Why not do something to bring sunshine into a person’s life?  It could be making a phone call, or sending a text, just to say, “Hi!”  Or, doing an unexpected good deed.  Make the world brighter, today!      😉  Jack 

Currently, many people in the U.S. are obsessing about the eclipse, which is now only a couple of hours away. I am not one of those people. I’ll probably just sit on my front porch and watch it get dark and then light again. I don’t have eclipse glasses and don’t soldiersplan to look up at the sun. I suspect that the partying associated with the various gatherings across the country is the real draw that attracts people to travel to get to a site in the path of the total eclipse. Given the choice of being totally in the dark or being in the sunshine, I would choose the sunshine every time.

I get a notice from Facebook every time that someone has a birthday (assuming that they have filled out their Facebook profile correctly) and I always take the time to wish them a happy birthday on their timeline. It seems like most people appreciate that and it’s such a simple thing to do. Maybe that is bringing a little ray of sunshine into their day. Perhaps a better way of looking at it is that it is bringing a little ray of Son shine. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the thing that Jesus (the Son) would do.

We all have dark times in our lives and we see others going through dark times. It is in those times that we need to let the light of the Son of God shine through us to create our own sunshine and to be the sunshine in the lives of others. It is impossible to stay in the dark if you let the light of the Son shine into your heart and out through you to others. christ lightYou just don’t have time for self-pity and dark moods if you are doing God’s work in the world and spreading the sunshine of the Son.

So, go ahead and watch the eclipse, if you must; but, don’t wait for the sun to come out on the other side of the moon before you get back to spreading your own sunshine or Son shine, as the case may be.


Entitled to nothing; but, thankful for everything…

August 12, 2017

Today’s quote is one that I saw on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently – “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”  (Tiny Buddha)

I would have added the words “they have” to the end of that quote. It is the human tendency to covet what we don’t have that causes dissatisfaction and dissention in our lives. Perhaps the most over-abused term in our modern language is the word “right”, as in it is my right to have (put in anything that you have heard lately using that phrase). Many people feel that they are entitled to or have a right to things that they don’t have and they somehow come to the conclusion that the society that they live in have some sort of obligation to provide them with that things or service or whatever it is that they feel entitle to. In fact, this feeling has become so prevalent in America that news casts often capture people characterizing things like access to health care or a clean water supply as “basis human rights.”

Let’s be clear. There are no such things as basic human rights or entitlements. One has only to journey to the wilds of the South American Jungles or the jungles of Africa to find primitive tribes living hard-scramble subsistence existences to find examples of peoplei want living in the most natural state of human rights. Anywhere else, where people are given, or have free access to, things above the subsistence level by the society they live in, is an example of privileges being extended by that society and not examples of people having rights to those things.

Those people living without entitlements in the wilderness are very happy when the tribal hunters return from a successful hunt or when what crops that they might plant bear fruit. They may wish for an easier life, but they may also be happy with what God has provided them from the land around them, even if their concept of God is somewhat murky.

No one wants to return to a crude, subsistence level of living in the jungle; however, all of us could learn to be a little more thankful and happy with what God has provided and be less focused upon what we don’t have. That is not to say that we need put up with cases of overt discrimination or criminal activities, such as happened in the Flint water crisis; however, we should couch our response to such activity in the proper terms. It was not that the Flint residents had a basic human right to clean water so much as it was that the residents who were paying for water to their houses had the right to expect that the water would be clean and safe to drink and use. That was not the case in Flint and is perhaps not the case in other locations in America. In some cases, it involves ineptitude on the part of the governmental bodies that supply the water and in others it involves criminal conduct by those who knew that they were doing wrong, such as in Flint.

woman-prayingOne can get in the right frame of mind about life by starting each day with a little “thank you” prayer to God for allowing you to awaken to another day. You weren’t even entitled to that day, so right away you have been given a gift to enjoy. Everything beyond that is just something that you should enjoy and be thankful for having. So, take the advice from today’s quote and make the best of everything that you have; rather than spend your time and energy worrying about things that you don’t have. God has just given you the most precious thing that money can’t buy and which isn’t a right – time. Use your time today wisely; be thankful and happy and make the best of what you have.


Is it time for you to switch gears? Can you do better?

March 3, 2017

“Life is like a 10-spreed bicycle.  Most of us have gears we never use.”  (Charles Schulz)  – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Jack went on to write: An old song says, “You can be better than you are.”  We all have potential…unused abilities.  I’ll never forget a high school teacher who handed a test back to me, saying, “Jack, you can do better than this.”  He was right.  We all can do better!  In school, at work, at home, in relationships.  Is today that day when we begin to use a new gear?  I can do better!  I will do better! 

If you think back to your bicycle riding days (assuming that they are over, like for me – long over in my case) you may have used 2-3 of the 10 speeds on your bike. Sometimes youbicycle-rider-1 might have shifted down to a lower gear when you were going up a hill and pumped a little bit harder and faster; but for the most part you settled into a comfortable gear for the flat portions and just pedaled along. Life can be like that. We all hit tougher (uphill) stretches during which we must shift gears and pedal harder and faster; but for the most part we just settle into a comfortable gear and pedal along through life.

Perhaps it’s time to challenge yourself. Can you do better at work or in school? Can you do more to have a better relationship with your life partner and family? Can you do more in your community to help others? Can you do better? Maybe it’s time for you to switch gears and pedal harder and faster in life. Why? Because, in your heart, you know that you can do better.

The thing that works well in this analogy is the fact that switching gears is a conscientious effort. In times of emergencies (the uphill times in life) that switch of gears happens without giving it a lot of thought. The situation demands that you do something different, that you switch gears; and, you just do it. You may go into problem-solving mode or even life-saving mode; but, you definitely do so in a different gear than you had been in – you swing into action.

Making the conscientious decision to switch gears in your day-to-day life is more deliberate, but can be no less demanding of you to pedal harder and faster. Making the bicycle-rider-2decision to volunteer at a local charity means switching gears. Making the decision to work with special needs children or adults requires a switch in your gears. Deciding to volunteer at your church or maybe at your child’s school will require choosing a new gear. Even the decision to just try to be a better partner in your life-relationship or a better parent to your children means choosing a new gear and pedaling harder. Doing those things means raising your life to a new, higher level and requires a new, uphill gear and that you pedal faster and harder.

All of these decisions require a commitment first that you want to change and you want to do better. It would be sad, indeed, if you ended life with a bad case of the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” about gears that you never used because you wouldn’t make the effort to switch from your comfort zone and try something that required you to use a new gear and pedal harder. You don’t get extra credit at the end of life for turning in unused gears.

So, think about your life and the gears that you aren’t using. Can you do sobicycle-rider-3mething out of the ordinary to help someone else? Can you put more effort into your relationships with your family members? Can you show the world your faith in actions, rather than just talking about it? Can you do better? Can’t we all?

Have a great day – Switch gears and pedal hard!


The struggle to be you…

February 11, 2017

In a recent post to his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – Jack Freed shared this quote – “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.”  (Rudyard Kipling)

We all struggle to some extent with the need to be an individual while living within the “tribal” space defined by our society. One could look to the TV show Alone to see the consequences of really living outside of the support system that the tribe (society) provides us all. Even in that TV reality series the contestants were allowed to take with them some of the things that are only available to us all because of the societies in which we live. Still, the conclusion that all of the contestants eventually come to is that they’d much rather be back with the tribe.

For most of us the struggle to retain an individual identity within our societal structure does not involve being isolated in some far flung corner of the world. For the most part, our decisions about what we should or will do involve the decisions that we make about obeying or ignoring the rules of that the society has put in place, which we call laws. Most of the time obeying the laws is a no-brainer, since many of them were put into place to defaced-traffic-signprotect us from some common danger or to provide some common good for all. Sometimes obeying a specific law may seem to be a personal inconvenience, given whatever circumstances brought you to the point of having to make a decision about obeying them or ignoring them.  Stop signs, no turn on red signs and don’t walk until you are told you can walk instructions are examples of widely ignored rules (laws) that people make conscious decisions to ignore from time to time.

Religion is another area in which we make conscious decisions about what to accept and what to ignore or at least not honor in our everyday lives. The “tribe”, in the case of religion, is the church or denomination of the church. Each separate denomination has created its own set of rules and interpretations of the beliefs upon which religion is built. Perhaps the church was way ahead of the current administration in Washington in its use of the concept of “alternative facts”. Even the Bible, upon which all of the Christian christian-denominationsdenominations base their beliefs, has been subject to repeated changes and interpretations by various tribes within the Christian religion. There is a common core of beliefs that runs throughout Christianity; but, upon that core various tribal split-offs have imposed their own set of rules and interpretations. There is Yiddish proverb that I saw on Jack’s blog that probably applies to that – “God created a world full of many little worlds.” Maybe that proverb was created to describe the fragmented little tribes that Christianity has evolved into.

I think the little saying that we started with today was referencing the need to maintain some level of individual thinking and decision making to avoid being swept away by society (the tribe) into something that we may not want or with which we may not agree. When we are young children, we tend to “learn” how to fit in and do what is right by watching others and imitating them. We certainly get lots of advice from parents about what is right or wrong and whether how we are acting is good or bad.

At some point in our growing up phase (sometime pre-teen but almost always in the teen Gothyears) almost everyone hits that point where they start to rebel against some things that they are being told to do or about being told how to act. For some that rebellion may manifest itself in their appearance and for some in their choice of friends or behavior when in tribal (societal) settings. For some the rebellion never really takes hold and the mantra of “go along to get along” becomes their way of life. For all of us, the need to continually make personal decisions on the choices that life presents means that we are forever evolving as individuals.

The struggle to find your own identity is always going to be a balancing act between the things that you accept from the rules of the tribe (Society) and the things that seem important enough to you to cause you to go against the rules or mores of the tribe, or at least a part of the tribe. That’s where the Yiddish proverb comes in handy. It turns out that we don’t live “alone”; we live in lots of little worlds or tribes and we may even be able to be members of several of those tribes (worlds). In today’s worlds there is an attempt to define membership in simplistic terms such as “us and them.” Members of each little disagreement2world try to compartmentalize one as for or against something and allow little to no room for a middle ground. The decisions about which worlds to live in are what we struggle with to define ourselves as individuals. Those same decisions contribute greatly to what we call character in people.

Perhaps, as you struggle with defining what being you means, the most helpful thing to keep in mind is that being you and having your own opinions about things is not necessarily a matter of right and wrong. It is a matter of making personal choices for yourself. Others may, and will, make different choices and you need to accept that this is OK, too. If you look for them at all, you will see that, even people with diametrically opposed views from yours on some things, at the same time share many of the choices that you made when you accepted membership in the larger tribe (society) that you both live in. We have a term for accepting the differences that may exist without rancor – civility. If you extend civility to others, you will likely receive it in return; and, you will find that you can still be an individual within the context of the tribe.

Being a member of the tribe (society) need not overwhelm you, but it does provide some useful boundaries and guideline about what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior, if one wishes to remain a member of the tribe and not to be alone. Young people in their explainingrebellious phase often experience hard bumps into those boundaries and learn lessons about life “the hard way.” We all will continue to bump into laws, rules, ordinances, restrictions and other barriers to doing whatever we want to do as we age. If we are civil about those encounters we will likely be able to find a way to be happy as individuals and stay within the tribe.

Have a great journey on the trip to discover who you are. Maybe I’ll see you along the way. Stop in and visit my little world.


Hold on, the future is starting now…

January 10, 2017

“I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”  (Homer) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

VR2Isn’t it amazing that the wisdom of so long ago, such as that of Homer, is so applicable in today’s world. One wonders if William Shakespeare was somehow channeling Homer when he said – “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

In more modern times Steve Jobs put it this way – “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

I might have added under Steve’s category of whatever (things to trust) that trusting God is a good way to face the future. I have posted here before about the cathartic moment in my life when I finally surrendered myself to God and prayed “Not my will, but thy will be done.” From that moment on, for me the future held not fear, but promise.

How do you face your future? Is the future a scary place that you’d rather not think about or a grand adventure just waiting for you to jump aboard? Do you see the future as being full of dangers or full of opportunities? Are you trying to hide from the future or boldly woman-prayingjumping into it? How have you prepared for the future? Have you been sitting in fear contemplating all that could go wrong or confidently striding forward in anticipation of all that will go right?

The future is in your own hands; however, you don’t have to face it alone, God is always with you. He has told you that –

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

So, like Steve Jobs said; do not worry about connecting the dots of your future. God has a plan for connecting those dots and will be there to help you. He will give you the strength that you need, the perseverance that is required and the resolve to get to that future, if you just trust in His plans for you.

The future starts now, are you ready to go?


Don’t be a phubber…

December 28, 2016

In a 1997 movie called “Flubber”, an absent-minded professor, played by the late Robin Williams, invents a super bouncy rubber product that is the central theme in the comedy movie. More recently a phenomenon called phubbing has swept the land. Jack Freed wrote about it in his blog Jack’s Winning Words recently.   ‘Phubbing’ was coined in 2013 and is a mix of words ‘phone’ and snubbing’ It is the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at a phone. P-phubbing is the act of ignoring a partner by being distracted by tech. Snubbing your partner by checking your phone can cause them to become depressed and anxious.

Jack’s post was titled “Stop looking at your phone.  Look around you.”

I must admit that I’m a bit of a phubber these days. I have a really hard time not taking my phone out to see what just came in, if it dings or make any other sound to indicate that a phone with msgnew email or message or Instagram has just arrived. There is a sense of immediacy about it that demands me attention. My wife finds that to be both disturbing and sad. I agree when I sit and think about it, but so far cannot overcome the urge to see what is happening that caused the alert sound.

I’m not sure that my behavior actually fits the definition of Phubbing, since I am not overtly trying to snub those around me, although I am ignoring them while distracted by my phone. Perhaps it is more like the epidemic of distracted driving that has caused so many accidents since he rise of the smartphone. I guess one might call this phenomenon “distracted living.”

Whatever it is, the advice that Jack’s blog contained to stop looking at your phone and start looking at (and interacting with) those people and things around you is sound. One cannot have a relationship with a device and even though the visual experiences available group-of-girls-looking-at-phonesthrough the phone are amazing, they do not contain the other sensory cues that real experiences contain and are thus somewhat one-dimensional. The sights may be wonderful, but the sights, sounds, smells and feel of actually being there and in the experience are far more wonderful and lasting.

Some people think of this activity as “multi-tasking”; however, I think that might be best described as “doing multiple things poorly at the same time.” If you don’t focus upon the things and people at hand you don’t really understand what is happening around you or catch the clues from the people that carry the real messages that they are trying to get across. Perhaps the most important message is the request – “Look at me.” You cannot be there for someone if your eyes and mind are focused somewhere else, like on your phone.

Don’t let distracted living rob you of the truly important moments in life when others couple-looking-at-phonesreach out to you for help or to show affection. You cannot really love your phone, nor can it show you love back. Besides that, real life doesn’t need to be recharged every 8-12 hours. Your significant other shouldn’t need to tape your phone to their forehead (see Jack’s post) in order for you to look at them, nor will seeing a Facebook post about your children’s sports events really be the same as being there for them. Put the phone down and pick up life again.

Oh, sorry, I’ve got to go; I just heard a ding from my pocket.


Do you hear what I hear?

December 21, 2016

“All people want is for someone to listen.”  (Hugh Elliott) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

The title to today’s post is the title of one of the most popular of Christmas songs. Unfortunately most of us don’t take the time to “hear” the most important things of all – what other people are saying to us. That can be especially true when those people are in listenneed and trying to reach out for help. Sometimes, as Hugh Elliott said, all they need or want is for someone to listen to them. In our society today we are far too distracted by other things to really listen or perhaps far too focused on what we want to say next to pay attention to the person speaking to us.

I’ve posted here in the past about being a good listener as a part of being a good friend or helper. Being a good listener takes focus and a selfless commitment understanding what the other person is trying to say. Many times you might pick up as much content from the body language and timbre of the speakers voice as from the words themselves. Many caringpeople have trouble finding the right words to get across what they are trying to express, but the fears and concern or maybe the pain that is driving the conversation will come through if you just listen. You might also be able to pick up on the level of guardedness that the person is using, which may be an indication that you are not yet truly a trusted adviser. That should cue you to try to build that trust.

Sometimes just “lending an ear” is all that is needed. Maybe the person just needed to “get it off my chest”. Having someone to sit and listen to their story can be cathartic for the speaker. Sometimes they will actually work things out right there in front of you whilebeing kind 1 they are speaking. The opportunity to verbalize their issue to someone else helps clarify it for them, too. Sometimes they might just need someone to say, “It’ll be alright” or “you’ll make it through this.” Maybe your time and attention is all that they needed to reassure themselves.

Sometimes you may actually have to act as a counselor or guide to help them see a way out of the situation or at least sew where they can go to get further help. You can’t be as helpful if you aren’t listening and paying close attention to the details. Maybe you feel like you have enough problems of your own and don’t need or have time to take on the problem of others. What a sad world of lonely, troubled people we would live in if that were the case. We’re all in this thing called life together and all of us will eventually hit issues or problems that exceed our ability to deal with them by girls huggingourselves. The time you spend listening too and helping other is just paying back or paying forward for the help that you will need and receive some day.

The Holiday season can be especially difficult for people who may be undergoing hardship or loneliness. So, beyond listening to the music and carols of the season, listen for those who just need someone to hear what they have to say. The gift of your time and attention to those people may be the best gift that you give this Christmas.

Do you hear what I hear? Listen.