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.


Just beyond reason and logic…

November 22, 2021
Portrait of U.S. statesman, inventor, and diplomat Benjamin Franklin as he looks on one hundred dollar bill obverse. Clipping path included.

I seldom see quotes from Ben Franklin that I disagree with, but this is one – “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”

Perhaps Franklin meant to advise us not to let reason get in the way of faith. Many great scientists and thinkers, including Albert Einstein, have resolved any conflict that they might have had between faith and reason.

“The more I study science, the more I believe in God.” (Einstein)

I prefer to think of it this way. Faith lies just beyond the boundaries within which reason and logic try to constrain our imagination. Hope also lives in that nether land that is, by definition, beyond our ability to comprehend using logic and reason. In fact, it is hope that brings faith into focus and allows us to see what we do not need to understand to believe.

I think that one can use reason and will logically arrive at Faith as the only answer to the great questions of life – the Why’s and How’s and What happens next questions. At some point one accepts that there are no earthly answers to those questions and realizes that all logical paths lead back to the same place – faith in something that we cannot comprehend but which must exist in order for us to exist.

At the beginning of each episode of the TV show The Twilight Zone the narrator said – “You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!” Faith goes well beyond the twilight zone because takes us beyond the limits of our imaginations.

So what Franklin might have said, instead, is, “The way to see by faith is to look beyond what we can see with the eyes of logic and reason and to use hope as your lens to focus upon what is important.”

Open your eyes to faith. See your future through the lens of hope.


Take control of you…

November 9, 2021

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

“Life was made up of things you couldn’t control…Life wasn’t what you made it.  You were what life made you.”  (Sara Zarr)

There is certainly a lot of truth in that quote. But, I would submit that it is rather defeatist in tone. Life throws unexpected twists and turns at you; things that you can’t control; however, you do control how you react to those events, and it is in those reactions that one finds out who they really are. The events of life do not make you anything, they just present opportunities for you to learn and adapt and grow as a person.

It usually takes a person many years to realize that they can’t control things in life and to let go of that “need” to try to control things. That realization is part of the “wisdom” of older people. Once one stops trying to control the events of life, they are better able to take control of themselves and can focus more on their reactions to those events.

The opposite of believing that you can control everything is the thought that God controls everything, and you are just along for the ride. A healthier middle ground is to believe that God allows everything in life to happen, but he also gives us the faith and strength to endure those events.

While you cannot control the events of life, you can take control of you and your reactions to those events. You can ask God to strengthen your faith to help to endure and persevere through those events. We already know that God will help, for he told us in Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Armed with faith in the promise of God’s help, one might look life in the eye and say “Bring it on, I’m ready.”  In that case, it makes sense to change the last line of Zarr’s quote to read – “You are what you made of life.

With God’s help, take control of you.


Are you all-in?

October 7, 2021

A couple of quotes that I picked up from the Jack’s Winning Words blog just seem to fit together this morning –

“Love is, or it ain’t.  Thin love ain’t love at all.  (Tori Morrison)

“Ya either got faith or ya got unbelief and there ain’t no neutral ground.” (Bob Dylan)

Jack used the first quote today and commented on recalling “thin soup” from his life during The Great Depression, which extra water was added to soup pots to thin out the soup and make it go farther. Thin love, or watered-down love, he opined is as unsatisfying as thin soup. The Dylan quote he used some time ago in another post and he commented on the inability to have partial faith in God.

It is not possible to say that you believe in and love God only some of the time. However, what sometimes happens those who believe, is that they get distracted and wander away from God from time to time. Jesus told a parable about sheep that occasionally wandered away from the flock and how the good shepherd searched for those sheep to bring them back into the flock.

The events of life can distract us and cause us to wander away from our faith. We may become too focused on success in our work life and begin to ignore both our family and our faith. Perhaps we get so wrapped up in the secular events of our family, like sports practices and games, that we abandon our churches and temporarily lose sight of our faith. In some cases of the loss of a loved one, we may become overwhelmed by grief or remorse or even anger and turn away from God. That is the “How could God let this happen” reaction to a personal tragedy.

But the words of Morrison and Dylan provide the answer to our questions and the relief of our pain. If you love God and believe in him, but have wandered off; let the good shepherd, Jesus, find you and lead you back to the flock. Just like in a poker game, you must play the hand that you’ve been dealt in life, so either fold (not a good option at all) or go all-in with your faith. There is no thin love for, or partial belief in, God; you either got it or you ain’t. If you got it, let Jesus find you through all of life’s challenges and lead you back to the flock.

Are you all-in?


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.