Try one more time…

February 8, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “When the world says, ‘Give up,’ hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.’”   (Unknown)

One can draw inspiration to overcome adversity or chase away the blues from many different sources, but they all boil down to the same thing – to try one more time.

Perhaps you have exhausted yourself trying to accomplish a seemingly impossible task woman-prayingat home or at work. Maybe it looks like failure is the only path ahead. Perhaps you are ready to give up. If you take the time to pause and seek the help of God, that small whisper that you hear may be Him telling you that you are not alone and that you should try one more time.

Sometimes in that pause to seek help, you also conclude that you should try something different this time. That is the voice of wisdom breaking through. There is a definition of insanity that talks about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Great athletes who perfect a skill through repetitive practice will always be trying something different as they practice, because they are always trying to get a better result, not the same result. When they fail, they always try one more time.

Sometimes depression can creep into the lives of people with seemingly sunny dispositions. It may sneak in through the door of self-doubt or perhaps be thrust upon depression4you by an insensitive or hurtful comment from someone. Perhaps some physical event in your life has left you feeling different, maybe with less energy or even in constant pain. You might begin to think that you should just give up or give in to the feeling or the pain; but then something happens – perhaps a kind word or deed from a stranger or some small sign, like a rainbow after a storm appears– and you know at that moment that you’ve got to try one more time.

I recalled, while writing this, that post that I wrote back in  January of 2014 about the single candlestory of the four candles. In that story the candles represented peace, faith, love and hope and the story told how the first three may have been extinguished by circumstances in our lives; however, if hope was kept alive,  the others could once again burn in our lives – https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/01/27/where-there-is-hope-there-can-never-be-complete-darkness-2/ 

If you visit my blog do a search using the word “hope” as the key word and you will find that I have written many times about it, usually also linked to faith.  Try one more time.

So, don’t give up, don’t give in and don’t quit. Listen instead for that whisper from God, hold tight onto your hope, and try one more time.

 

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Give the most precious gift of all – your time…

February 4, 2019

This little bit of wisdom comes from a recent post to the blog Jack’s Winning Words – “Waste of time is the most extravagant of all expenses.”  (Theophrastus)

It would follow then that the gift of your time to someone else would be the most extravagant gift that one could give.

It is not unusual for older people (especially dads) to look back over their lives and regretworking against time not having spent more time with their children when they were young and at home. Too many dads see in hindsight that the long hours at work that they put in, trying to earn more for their family, were also missed opportunities to spend time with the children when they were growing up.

Missed ball games, or dance recitals, or school plays were precious moments that cannot be made up later. Whatever the extra money bought is long gone, along with those opportunities to be there as they grew. It gets worse for two-earner families where both parents miss all of the events of childhood.

grandparentsMany adult children also have regrets about not visiting more often with parents, or other family members, before they were gone. You hear it all the time, “I wish I had the opportunity to tell him/her that I loved them before they passed.”  You did have that time, but you chose to spend it elsewhere.

So, consider those things before you waste that most precious of all commodities in your life – your time. Is there someone that you can give that time to by spending it with them? Is putting in that extra time at work really more important than seeing that ball game or attending that recital? Is working on your home projects to-do list more father-daughter danceimportant than stopping by to see how mom and dad are doing, or maybe just giving them a call to chat. And, is collapsing in your chair with that after work beer really as important as taking time to talk with your spouse about how their day was?

Memories in life are not filled with the recollections of possessions that you managed to accumulate; memories are made up of snippets of time, some happy, some sad; but all well spent and mostly spent on and with others.

family grroupThe bottom line is that all you really have is your time. Don’t waste it; but, rather, spend it wisely on and with those that you love. Be there for the game. Be there for the dance recital. Be there at the end of the day to talk with your spouse. Don’t just do it – just be there – give the gift of your time.

In his post, Jack referenced the famous Jim Croce song “Time in a Bottle”. Listen to it and consider this –

How will you spend your time today?

Really?


Get your reward…give joy to others

February 2, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.”  (Gibran)

The newspapers and TV news organizations often cover stories about people volunteering to help others, whether it is at a homeless shelter , a soup kitchen or maybe just a phone bank where volunteers are answering calls about things like drug addiction. Whatever the story, there are always a few who show up on camera, sometimes they aresewrving soup interviewed and sometimes the camera just pans around and you see them. For some of those people, that is their joy. In fact, for some, that is their reason for being there – to be recognized and acknowledged for their work.

But, in most cases, there are many more people involved who do not make it into the picture or on the screen. They are busy working away in the background, doing the tasks that must be done in order to allow those on camera to do their part – cooking food, packing food, delivering food or other tasks that don’t make it on camera. . For them the joy is found in just doing for others, and it can be a much more profound joy, because it comes from within.

I’ve written here before about serving at our church’s annual Lenten Soup Supper. I bowl of soupalways try to volunteer to do the job that no one else seems to want, busing tables, washing dishes, collecting the trash, whatever. There are other jobs that seem to get more attention and praise, but none that gives the satisfying sense of joy that doing those unglamorous jobs that need to be done provides. Sure, a few people at the tables may say “Thank you” when I bus the table, but most of the joy for me comes from within – from doing a job that needed to be done and which added in some small way to their joy in the event.

There is an old saying that “It’s better to give than to receive”. It turns out that, by giving joy to others, you will also receive joy in return – from within. Therefore, the next time that you ask yourself how you could be happier in life; answer by deciding to give joycaring and happiness to others and your life will take care of itself. There are ton’s of opportunities in every community to volunteer to serve worthy causes and to help others – to bring joy into their lives. Guess what will also come into your life? Find your joy in service to others.

Have a joyful weekend – find a way to serve others.

 


Good times or bad, thy will be done…

January 26, 2019

There were repeated images on the Detroit area news shows this week of Nancy Kerrigan, after she had been attacked during practice for the 1994 Olympic Trials, crying out “Why? Why?”. That old news footage served to add meaning to something else that I saw this week.

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this bit of wisdom – “We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way.”  (Unknown)

There is within that question the implication that one is asking this question of God – “God, how could you let this happen to me?” In his post, Jack referenced a book – When Bad Things Happen to Good People. I have not read that book, but I’m sure that it musthelping hands seek to refocus people from thinking that God made those bad things happen and being confused about why onto looking instead to God for help in dealing with the bad things and our reactions to them. I don’t ever pray to God to protect me from all bad things, but rather to help me make good decisions in life to be better able to deal with what comes my way.

The second part of that little saying above is also important. We tend to turn to God for help in bad situations, but seldom take the time when good things happen to thank Him man prayingfor those things. We see professional athletes sometimes pausing in the end zone or as they cross home plate making some sign towards heaven and thanking God for their good fortune at that moment. How many of us make that same effort when good things happen in our day-to-day lives? How many good things happen to, or for, us every day that we don’t even think about? Why did they happen and to whom do we owe thanks?

Yet there are countless times in every day when things could have gone a different way, sometimes in a very bad way. Every now and then, it will hit me, when one of those moments has just passed without something bad happening, that I was “lucky” that I had made a different decision or chosen a different path. Then I stop to consider whether that was luck, or God playing a role in my life. I ask, “Why did this just happen to me?” I chose to believe that it was God helping me through what could have been a bad time.

The take away from all of this is that we should be thankful for God’s hand in the good woman-prayingthings that happen to us and we should ask for his help to make good decisions and for the strength to deal with the bad things that might happen. We must accept the bad with the good when we pray, “Thy will be done.” However, we can go on in that prayer to recognize and thank God for the good things and to ask for His help in dealing with the bad things.

Have a great and reflective weekend. What are you thankful for and what things could you use God’s help with?

 


Remember it, but don’t live in it…

January 16, 2019

The past. For some the past is not just a time to be remembered, but also a time that they can’t seem to escape…a place that they chose to live in today. The inability to put the past in proper perspective and live in the present is a part of what we now call PTSD. The terms “shell-shocked” and “the fog of war” were used after WWI to describe that state offacing the wall 2 mind in which many soldier returned to civilian life. Whatever it is called, a major component of this condition is the inability to put the past behind and forge a new life ahead. You might occasionally encounter an ex-soldier with this condition wandering the streets. But, they might tell you that they are not wandering. They are “out on patrol”. They are living in the past.

For some who suffer from this condition, only professional help will be able to bring them into the here and now. For many it is enough to find a new mission, a new purpose, a new place to belong, a new “family”. A key factor in the inability to let go of the past for many soldiers may be that the friends they had in stressful combat situations became like family to them. These were people that they counted on to have their backs in modern soldierfirefights and to watch their backs on patrol. For many, younger soldiers, who were experiencing their first time away from their birth homes, these buddies became their family. When they return from these experiences in foreign lands and are released from active duty, many do not find any replacement for that feeling of mission or family, even if they return to their birth home. Some choose to live in the past, reliving their time with their buddies in combat, where they felt more comfortable, more “at home”.

Soldiers aren’t the only ones who suffer from this condition. Many of the mass shooting tragedies that we see in the news today have at their root a failed relationship – a romance or marriage gone bad. Some of the perpetrators in those cases may seek revenge as closure, a way out of the trap of the past that they have been living in. Most end with their own, self-inflicted death. These are people who can not put the past behind them and live in the moment.

It may seem like a daunting task to try to help someone with this condition. Many are initially resistant to help. But, remember that a key component is the lack of a new “family” that they can relate to and feel comfortable with, a new squad to be a part of with a new mission. Perhaps that s why programs to match up veterans struggling withman with dog PTSD with dogs is so effective. Dogs provide unconditional love in return for their care and caring for them provides a sense of purpose and mission to the vet. Caring for the animal forces them to live in the present.

Dogs can provide a wonderful first step back into the present for many of those vets, but you can provide the next vital step, if you will jump in and help. You can become that buddie that they can talk to and share stories. You can become a source of ideas and inspiration to take the necessary steps to get back into the mainstream of life and the workforce. Some may not realize that the time that they spent in the service equipped them with many of the skills that are valued in the workplace. The ability to take instructions and act upon them and the ability to work within a team structure are critical skills in today’s workforce. The old squad in combat becomes the work team in the plant or office. Help your buddie see that he/she can be a valued member of a new family at work and after hours. Help them stop living in the past and encourage their listenparticipation in the here and now. Let them know that you have their backs.

For those non-soldiers whose sense of loss or fear or self-doubt has driven them into isolation and a life in the past, it is important that they, too, find new purpose and relationships in the present. You can provide that bridge to the present by committing little more than your time. Just spending time with them listening is sometimes the best way to help them find their way out of the past. Just responding with comments like, “that must have been great, but what are you doing now?” might help. The idea is to help them re-establish perspective…to see that those things are in the past and that they need to focus more on the present. Perhaps the most difficult situation to deal with is the loss of a loved one – a spouse, a parent or a child. The challenge is to help them see those memories of the lost one as a place that they can visit from time to time… hopefully a happy place, but not a place to live in.

I love this quote from a book by Beryl Markham from her book West with the Night“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”

The past is no place to live, but you can get stuck there sometimes. I’ve written twice recently about living in the moment and this little quote from George Harrison ties these two themes together nicely – “It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”

So remember the past, but don’t live there. Learn from the past, but dwell upon it (or in it). Your past might have been happy or sad, wonderful or horrible, boring or fulfilling; but, what are you doing now?


What are you doing with your nows?

January 15, 2019

In today’s installment fo the blog Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed used this quote from Emily Dickenson – “Forever is composed of nows.”

Jack went on to write about listening to the tick-tock of a grandfather’s clock in his home and equating each second,  each tick and tock of that clock to a now moment. Being the good ex-Pastor that he is, Jack also reminded us that only God can count the seconds in forever. What are you doing with your nows?

Many of us tend to think that things will go on forever, whether it be our lives, or our loves or our loses or perhaps our loneliness. Both Dickenson and Jack were correct to point out that the forever that we see is composed of a whole bunch of nows. We don’t know how many nows we will have (only God does); so, we can’t control that part of forever. What we can control is how we react to the nows that we encounter in life – how we deal with life’s setbacks, as well as to the successes that we have in life. Neither will last forever. They exist in the nows and must be enjoyed or dealt with there. What are you doing with your nows?

The fact is that “forever” is different for each of us and none of us knows how long that is. Tragedies like the accident that killed an entire family from Dearborn happen in life and for each of them their forever was different. There is a popular saying that you see on T-shirts – Live every moment like it was your last. That was in the lyrics of a song by the Canadian group Nickleback – If today was your last day. What are you doing with your nows?

This is not to say that you live life with total abandon and disregard; but rather that you savor each moment that God give you here. Draw life in alike a deep breath and appreciate its aroma. Experience those around you and celebrate the differences that you discover. Don’t pass through your nows without thinking about them. Be aware of your presence and the presence of others in those nows. They are not throw-away mpments; they are part of your forever. Use each one in some meaningful way, because you won’t pass through them again. What are you doing with your nows?


Live in the moment, live for the moment…

January 8, 2019

Seen on an email message recently – “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

There was one of those “miracle” stories on the national news last night about a man who had been given up for dead by his doctors and family. He had suffered what was thought to be a fatal stroke. He was completely unresponsive and appeared to be brain dead. The family had made the decision to take him off the life support systems in the hospital and had begun making funeral plans. Then “the miracle” occurred. He woke up. Apparently, he had been suffering from a rare condition in which the brain literally shuts down. There is a big, fancy name for it.

Now, after a period of rehabilitation, he is back to a normal life with his family. Saying that he and his family now appreciate the moment and live in the moment is probably an understatement. None of us should have to go through a situation like that, but all of us should appreciate the moment and live in the moment. Just being alive to enjoy the moment is a great thing that we take for granted and don’t appreciate.

Take time each morning, when you wake up, to thank the Lord that you did wake you and that He gave you that moment to live in. If you start out by just appreciating that youthis-is-me are alive, it will make planning and doing something with those moments that you have been given more meaningful and fulfilling. There are no boring moments, no dreaded routines or jobs, no wasted time, no crushing fears or aching loneliness. There are only moments that you have been given here on earth to be alive. Live in them and be thankful that you got the chance to experience them. And, live for the next moment, for things will be different then.

One never knows how many moments we have in life. Being more aware and smell-the-rosesappreciative of those moments as we live them heightens our experiences and allows us to learn and grow with each passing moment. It also allows us to avoid living in the past and helps us focus upon the future – the moments that we anticipate just ahead.

There is a saying that goes something like “Live life as if each moment is your last”. The underlying philosophy which that saying is espousing is not to live life dangerously or stupidly, but rather appreciatively. As Khayyam put it –  “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”