Indeed…

September 20, 2017

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.”  (Peter Marshall)

That little quote from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog captures the essence of a lot of the problems that we are seeing in politics and elsewhere these days. problem-solverThere is a tendency to spend time thinking or talking about or planning to take on the big problem all at once, instead of just taking actions to resolves little pieces of the problem one at a time.  The President spends a lot of time talking about getting a deal done on this or that, while getting nothing done; and, the dysfunctional Congress seems just as happy to do nothing, since that fits into their Radical Right vision of anarchy as the ultimate goal of getting all government interference out of people’s lives.

In our own lives, I’ve written here a few times about tackling problems or challenges by breaking it down into small pieces and doing each of them. We tend to try to figure out the solution to the whole, big problem before taking any action. Sometimes there are lots of little preparatory steps that must be taken before we even can get to the main problem and it the thought of having to do all of those things, just to get ready to take on the worriesproblem, that stalls people out.  Think about painting a room and all of the furniture moving and drip cloth spreading and edge taping and plug and switch cover removing and all of the other things that need to be done just to get ready to open the paint can. Sometimes it can take as much time in the preparation and post work as it does actually doing the project.

How many times have you passed someone begging on the street and that set off a torrent of thinking and planning about how you could solve world hunger, rather than stopping and giving the guy a couple of bucks to get something to eat tonight? Or maybe you’re on a committee within your church or organization that is wrestling with the insightissue of declining membership. Rather than go out and personally invited someone to the next meeting or service, you spend all of your time researching or thinking about grand plans to improve things – and nothing gets done.

Instead of putting a lot of time and energy into the planning of a grand solution to the big problems in our society or organization, why not resolve to do what you can right now with the things that are right there in front of you. Do something, rather that thinking about doing everything. If enough of the small, immediate things get done the bigger problem may just fade away. Ask yourself, “What can I do right here, right now to help?” Then just do it. It may be a small thing, but that small deed actually done is better than spending your time planning a big deed that never gets off the drawing board.

Indeed…

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It was a great weekend in Milford…

September 18, 2017

Every year, the third weekend in September is a great time to be in Milford, Michigan, and this year was no exception.

The weekend kicked off with the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce Brewed In Brewed in MIchigan logoMichigan event out at the Bakers of Milford restaurant. This event, now in its ninth year, featured beers, ales, meads, hard ciders and wines from over 35 Michigan based craft breweries/wineries. It also had tasty foods from more than 10 local restaurants, as well as music and lots of fun for everyone.

On Saturday, the 41st annual Milford Home Tour started the first day of its two day run DSCN0555which features tours of five local homes, as well as the Milford Historical Museum and the Log Cabin in South Park. The Oak Grove Cemetery was also open with self-guided tours of the grave sites ofOak Grove Cemetery entrance the many of the people who built or lived in the homes that were on the tour and information on those and the graves of Milford’s WWI veterans was provided by local historian Linda Dangenhardt.

On Sunday the Home Tour continued and the 33rd annual Milford Car Show took center CAR SHOWstage all the way down south Main Street and into Central Park. Over 340 cars were in display from 8 AM until 3 PM. There were cars and trucks of every age, description and type – from un-restored antiques to modern street rods. The sights and sounds during the day were enough to satisfy any car enthusiast. In addition, there was an antique tractor show outTractor Show at the Huron Valley State Bank parking lot featuring tractors from collectibles to day-to-day working farm tractors and equipment.

So, it was a busy and very entertaining weekend in Milford, Michigan; of course, every weekend is great when you live in Milford…just sayin’.


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?