Don’t quit…

September 8, 2022

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote –

“I was going to quit, but I wasn’t done.”  (Sent by Elizabeth R) 

Freed went on to write – A cartoon shows a disheveled woman asking, “Do I work at home, or do I live at work.”  Are you one of those virtual employees?  If you have a strong work ethic, you know the feeling.  You’re given a job.  You do the job.  No excuses. 

Some may see this quote as a metaphor for life in general. Life can seem to be overwhelming sometimes and we may have the urge to just quit, to give up, to admit defeat in life; but we are not done. We cling to life and don’t quit because we have hope – hope for a better future.

Out of that hope comes faith. And, that faith assures us that we are no alone in whatever struggles we are facing, God is with us. That faith gives us courage and the resolve to persevere., even in the face of death.

So, today, no matter what challenges you are facing in life, renew your hope and tap into your faith. God is not done yet.

Don’t even consider quitting, you are not done yet.


What sustains you?

August 19, 2022

I like this quote because it harkens back to hope – “There are times when dreams sustain us more than facts.”  (Helen Fagin)

The facts and reality of day-to-day life can often get tough or boring, but if one has hope and dreams based upon that hope it is more bearable.

You may have been inclined to answer the question in today’s title with the word “faith”. I would submit that faith is based upon hope and the dream of a better afterlife to come.

One may have somewhat passive hope and dreams or one may use that hope and  those dreams to motivate them into action. President Barack Obama put it this way in his Iowa caucus victory speech in 2008–

“Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”

There are many times in life when the “facts” of what is happening around us or to us may not be very encouraging. It is during those times that our faith and the hope that it is based upon sustain us. We get through those times because we know and trust that we can get through them, because we are not alone. We have not only hope but faith in that hope.

There was a quote in the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently that also seems appropriate to use here.

“I trust the next chapter, because I know the author.”  (Unknown) 

If you have faith in God, you know the author of your life and you can have hope and faith in whatever He has laid out for you in the next chapter of your life. What is even more comforting is that the same hope and faith will carry you on into the chapter after this life. You can be sustained when facing death not in fear, but in hope and anticipation, because you know the author for that, too.

We all have hopes and dreams, based upon those hopes. As for me, I trust the next chapter in my life, because I know the author.

What sustains you?


Leave your shadow behind…

July 21, 2022

In yesterday’s post to his Blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this old German proverb – “Come on, jump over your shadow.” Pastor Freed explained in his post how it was used originally to challenge someone to take risks.

Our shadows might be seen as a metaphor for our fears or maybe our reputation; so, leaving it behind allows us to try new things. The thing about shadows is that we seldom think of them, they are just there, following us around, much like the fears and prejudices that follow us around and limit our experiences. I can imagine how someone could see their shadow as being something that holds them back. We do not try new things because we are afraid of unintended consequences. We do not meet new people because they are different from us, and we allow our fears or prejudices to hold us back. Come on, jump over your shadow.

Our “shadow” might also be used to refer to our reputation, or at least what we think is our reputation – the shadow of our self-perception. This is the perception that others have or us or maybe that we have of ourselves. Perhaps we see ourselves as introverted and shy, so we avoid doing things that many others do because, “we just don’t do things like that” – we are afraid to even try. Yet something in us is shouting the old German proverb – Come on, jump over your shadow.

Maybe we are conscientious that we avoid certain people, not because of who they are but what they are – a different color, a different look, a different way of speaking, something “different” from us. That is the shadow of our unfounded fears and prejudices following us around. Every time that shadow yells “Don’t talk to them”, another voice in the back of your mind that longs to know more about them is saying, “Come on, jump over your shadow.”

At work we may not be happy with our job or position in the company, but we hesitate to talk to our managers about getting ahead or doing something different and potentially more rewarding. Maybe it is a fear of being fired or maybe just a lack of confidence in our on ability to perform a different job. Yet we hear that nagging little voice saying, “Come on, jump over your shadow.”

Whatever our reason for holding ourselves back in life and in relationships, we need to find the courage to heed the old German proverb. Perhaps we can find the courage that we need in ISAIAH 41:8-10 –

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Maybe you can refocus away from fear and upon the positives of your faith:

 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 TIMOTHY 1:7)

Whatever your motivation, summon up your faith and assert your self-control. There are wonderful people and great opportunities just beyond the shadows of fear and prejudice that are holding you back. “Come on, jump over your shadow”


Listen for Hope’s song…

July 8, 2022

Pastor Freed recently used this quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”  (Emily Dickenson)

Sometimes it can be very hard to hear Hope’s little song amidst the calliope of news about hateful acts of deceit or violence that we are overwhelmed with each day; but it is still there. One must consciously pause and search the soul for its presence. Sometimes, we call that pause prayer.

Why take time for prayer each day?

“Our physical, emotional, and spiritual health requires rest. We need to take a break. We need to nurture ourselves. To take a time out to refuel, rejuvenate, and revive ourselves.”

― Dana Arcuri

“Prayer is perpetual rejuvenate force.”

― Lailah Gifty Akita

Prayer gives one the chance to hear Hope’s song. If you listen very carefully to Hope’s little song you may also realize that Hope is singing a duet with Faith, the other little feathered thing that resides in the soul. Hope and Faith always sing together in prayer.

There was a 1960’s song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono titled, “Give Peace a Chance”. Perhaps in this day and age we need a new song titled, ”Give Hope a Chance”.

So, if your world gets too noisy and overwhelming, take time to rejuvenate by finding a quiet little place (literally or figuratively) to pray and listen for the little song of hope and faith that is there in the back of your mind.

Give Hope a chance.


Keep Dreaming…Keep going…

March 31, 2022

In my role as a Realtor® I get a daily email with an inspirational graphic in it. Sometimes I’ll notice that a couple of them just seem to go together to create an entirely new inspirational thought. Such is the case today.

These two graphics came to me weeks apart, yet they just seem to work together –

-AND-

I think the glue that holds these two thoughts together is faith.

One can have dreams that are mere idle musings and it is easy to let go of them. Life changing dreams are seldom so casual and often involve appeals to God for help in achieving them. That brings the second graphic into play. One must have faith to keep pursuing their dreams, even in the face of long delays or temporary setbacks.

Dreams are seldom accompanied by detailed plans and an exact timetable. Initial prayers are seldom requests for the patience and perseverance needed to achieve one’s dreams, yet that is what is most often required. Instead of questioning God as to why he hasn’t helped you achieve your dream yet, it is better that you should thank him for helping you get as far as you are and try to understand the guidance that he is giving you. If nothing else, at least acknowledge that it is not over yet, so your dream is still alive. Keep praying for the patience and perseverance to continue pursuing your dream.

We are told in the Bible –

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)

That quote from James also alludes to the real payoff of faith; not so much the achievement of earthly dreams, but the realization of eternal life through Jesus. Perhaps that points out to us that we have not been dreaming big enough.

If you haven’t realized that yet, don’t worry, it’s not over yet.


Keep moving but be at peace…

March 30, 2022

In his post this Monday to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith.  They keep it awake and moving.”  (Frederick Buechner) Pastor Freed went on to say that even he has doubts from time to time; however, he has found those doubts to be things that actually strengthen his faith.

How can having doubts about your faith make it stronger? I think the answer is that doubts throw you off-center; they trouble your mind and spin you away from the beliefs that your faith is based upon. Doubts are distractions and sometimes major events in one’s life can cause very big doubts and major distraction from our beliefs. This is especially true when we lose a loved one or when a major event causes seemingly catastrophic disruption to our lives. Think of the doubts that people in Ukraine must be gong through right now. Many times those doubts center around the thought “How could God let this happen to me?”

So, there you are, spinning further and further away from your faith. How do you reestablish your faith, re-center yourself and regain control? How do you actually make your faith stronger in the face of doubts?  I think Jack answered that question in an earlier post using a quote sent to him by one of his followers –

“Your life becomes a masterpiece when you learn to master peace.”  (Sent by RVB) 

We say “peace be with you” often in church or maybe “be at peace” during a conversation, but how does one master peace? It all gets back to faith. The reason that one has ants in their pants is their inability to control things, to solve the unsolvable problem or face the reality of a temporary failure. We spend sleepless nights agonizing over the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” of life instead of accepting what has happened and moving on.

The quickest way to move on is to acknowledge your faith and accept that you need God’s help. I use the little prayer, “Not my will but thy will be done”, but you can use a prayer as simple as, “Yo God, a little help here.” The point is not to create long, flowery prayers, but to surrender your life to God and let him take control. Giving up the futile fight to control everything puts you back in control of your life by putting you back in control of how you react to the events of life. It puts you at peace.

So, Pastor Freed is right that those doubts actually strengthen one’s faith by forcing us to keep returning to that faith as the best and only answer to life’s challenges. If your life feels like you are standing on an anthill, circle back to your faith and ask God for his help.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:7)


The C’s and P’s of life…

March 16, 2022

As a Realtor® I have often written blog posts on my real estate blog about the three C’s of real estate – Condition, Clutter and Cleanliness. Those three things are critical factors in determining the price and speed at which a property will sell. In days past I would also usually also write about the three-P’s that that I advise the sellers about – Price, Patience and Perseverance. In these days of low inventory and rapidly rising prices the Three-P’s advice seems to matter less, but the three C’s still have a big impact on how quickly a property will sell and for how much.

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed uses this quote from one of his followers – “The 3 C’s of life: You must make a CHOICE to take a CHANCE, or your life will never CHANGE.”  (Sent  by Kathy M)

Certainly, that is good advice. One must stop and think about the direction that life is taking them in and make thoughtful choices about changing that direction by taking a chance on a different direction. Each day, when you wake up you arrive at that inflection point of continuing down the path that you are on or making changes in your direction.

I will submit that there are also three P’s to life which you can also use to control your future – Patience, Perseverance and Prayer.

The first two P’s are often in short supply in today’s fast-paced world of instant gratification; however, events in our lives often unfold at a pace that can be frustratingly slow. Perhaps that’s what makes the third P so important.

As you start each day, if you take time for a little prayer, it will give you the opportunity to ask God for the Patience and Perseverance that are required in life. It may also allow you to recognize that, whatever the small amount of progress that you made yesterday, it was still progress towards your goals. Be thankful for that and ask God’s help to make even more progress today.

I have posted here in the past that one does not have to compose long, windy prayers. God understands your needs, so a little prayer that I like to use, “Not my will, but thy will be done” can work. Even using a sports phrase like, “A little help here” works with God. The important thing is not how you ask but THAT you ask for God’s help. We have been told – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  (Matthew 7:7)

So, take to heart the advice from Kathy M and implement the three C’s in your life; but also practice the three P’s of life. If you have the courage to take the chance to make the changes that you see need to be made in your life, also have the faith to practice the three P’s.

Have faith in your new direction. God is with you.


Help me get through this…

January 8, 2022

A quote that I saved from a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog serves to illustrate how our faith helps us get through the trials of life.

“God didn’t remove the Red Sea; He parted it.  God doesn’t remove our problems; He makes a way through them.”  (Jack’s Winning Words – Sent by Kathy M)

Quite often we might initially pray for the wrong thing – for God to remove whatever trial or hardship is in front of us. However, as Kathy M pointed out in her quote, that is most often not how God works in our lives. Instead, God gives us the strength to get through whatever it is; or, rather, our faith in God gives us that strength.

Perhaps a better thing to pray for is for God to strengthen our faith so that it strengthens us. In the end, no matter how grave the circumstance may seem, our faith has already assured us that we shall have everlasting life thru Jesus.

 Faith is the bedrock upon which the KCCO phrase is based – Keep Calm and Carry On. Our faith calms us when frenzy might overtake us, and it allows us to move forward and carry on with life. The little prayer that I often use – “Not my will but thy will be done” – has an amazing calming effect in the midst of crisis and immediately opens the door to a better future. It does not resolve anything in and of itself, but it removes the burden of what is at hand and give it to God. It frees you to carry on. Try it the next time that your life is in crisis.

So, what have you got for us, life? Bring it on. We will get through it with God’s help.


Hope supplies the light…

January 5, 2022

I’ve has these two quotes in my saved file for a while and they just seem to go together –

“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” (Stanley Kubrick)

“Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent”.  (Mignon McLaughlin)

Kubrick’s quote points out that we must find our own way our of the darkness of sorrow or anger or despair – the things that plunge us into darkness.

I wrote a few years back about four candles – Peace, Love, Faith and Hope – and how one by one they were extinguished until only the candle of Hope remained burning (see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/01/27/where-there-is-hope-there-can-never-be-complete-darkness-2/).

Our lives can seem like the candles sometimes, especially when jarring events snuff out the candle of Peace or the unexpected loss of a loved one causes the candle of Love to flicker out. Sometimes it is all too easy to allow events to overcome us and so we lose sight of the candle of our Faith. In those times all we have is the candle of Hope to show us the way our of the darkness.

If we can get to the point that McLaughlin mentioned, where we realize that the darkness we are in is not permanent by holding out hope for a better tomorrow, we can start to reignite the other candles in our lives.

Recent events in the U.S. and around the world have provided vivid images of people who have lost everything or endured unimaginable hardships and yet still cling to hope. Out of that hope many have expressed their faith that things will get better, and that life will go on. Most often they express gratitude that they still have their loved ones and state that they will rebuild their lives and their homes. They know that the feelings of loss and despair that they may have at that moment will not last.

You do not have to suffer a disaster to be plunged into a dark place. For some, mental illness takes them to those places often. No matter how you got there, the candle of Hope is the way out. Keep Hope burning in your life and let its light show you the way out of the darkness. Peer into the darkness with the light of Hope and you will see God standing there with the candle of Faith ready to be reignited.

Faith is most often the first candle to be relit by Hope. Hope illuminates God as our guide out of our funk and allows us to ask God for His help.

Once you have the candle of Faith burning in your life again it becomes possible to relight the candle of Love and to once again allow the candle of Peace to guide your way through life.

Hold on to Hope…it supplies the light in the darkness.


Take a new look thru the lens of faith…

December 31, 2021

A couple of quotes that I’ve had laying around for some time just seemed to go together this morning to make a point.

“If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror.” (Shane Koyczan)

“Success is personal, so stop comparing your apples to their oranges.”  (Yohance Salimu) 

Many people have a hard time appreciating themselves. They tend only to see their faults or failures when they look at their life in their mental mirror. They also only see other people’s oranges of success and fail to see their own apples of success. A good deal of that lack of self-appreciation is based upon our tendencies to compare ourselves to others or to envy what we see as the success of others when compared to our own lives.

Many times this tendency starts in childhood when a parent or adult may say something like , “Why can’t you be more like (insert brother or sister or any other person here)?” We pick up on the fact that others may be comparing us, or our successes, to others as children and we let that become an internal measure also, Our view in the mirror becomes distorted.

Men, in particular, seem to adopt a competitive comparison model as a measuring stick for their lives, constantly evaluating where they are in life compared to others and perhaps not liking what they see in the mirror when they make those evaluations. What changes as they grow up are the yardsticks by which they measure their successes and position in life – money, power, position and possessions. That is a game in which one can never really win or be satisfied.

The society that we live in feeds this competitive battel by constantly barraging us with products commercials that claim to make you better than you are now, if only you buy and use their products. After all they claim, one is never as beautiful or successful enough, when compared to whatever model or spokesperson that they are using.

Both of the quotes above recommend changing the way you look at things. They both point to appreciating yourself as you are and where you are in life as the key to happiness. Perhaps you can start appreciating yourself by accepting the fact that God loves you just the way you are and where you are in life. God sees your beauty, even if you can’t, and He accepts your life as is. In fact, he has already forgiven you for any mistakes that you have made and opened the door for you to forgive yourself.

A focus on faith also frees you to put things in your life in better perspective. It allows you to celebrate your wins in life and not worry about comparing them to the wins of others. So, get a new lens of faith and see the beauty that God sees in you. Once you start seeing your successes in life through a faith lens, the successes of others become something that you can celebrate with them rather than being envious of them.

Now you have a better view in life’s mirror.