You hold your future…

November 14, 2020

Pastor Freed recently used this John Wooden quote in his blog , Jack’s Winning Words“I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.”

Wooden, the famous UCLA Basketball coach and one of the winningest basketball coaches ever, was an inspirational leader and quite the philosopher.

This quote acknowledges two great truths – none of us knows what the future will bring and each of us has the power to control how we react to whatever the future brings.

Events, the things that happen around us or maybe most often to us, are mostly out of our control. Sometimes what control we have is not to place ourselves in the way of those events; but, most of the time, we don’t have enough warning or information about what is going to happen to even make that decision.

There are times and events in our lives that we know enough about (maybe from previous attempts at something) that we can consider the various directions that the future might take and plan our response for each. Even then, we seldom really “see” more than a few of the possibilities and surprises often still occur. That is the future. How we deal with it is our future.

Some might say, “Well it’s all in God’s hands.” While it may be true that God knows what will happen, it is also true that the free will that God gave humankind leaves up to us to decide how we will react to those events. If we have no moral compass, no sense of what is right or wrong it is likely that we will choose poorly and our future will not be what we hoped it might be.

It is our faith (or lack of faith) that provides that compass or leaves us without direction. Charles Spurgeon had this to say about Mankind’s free will – “Free will carried many a soul to hell, but never a soul to heaven.”

[Charles Haddon Spurgeon (19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892) was an English Particular Baptist preacher. Spurgeon remains highly influential among Christians of various denominations, among whom he is known as the “Prince of Preachers”- Wikipedia]

Martin Luther (who hopefully needs no introduction) weighed in on Free Will with this thought – “Free will without God’s grace is not free at all, but is the permanent prisoner and bond slave of evil, since it cannot turn itself to good.”

So, free will gives us the freedom to make decisions that impact our future and God’s Grace helps us make the right decisions. Maybe we do hold the key to our own future, but God’s grace helps us choose the best door to the future in which to use that key. That is why I have posted here a few times that one ought not futilely pray to God to make the situations that one faces go away; but, rather, one should pray to God for help to make good decisions to deal with those situations. I recently post What kind of karma are you making about that very thing.

John Wooden knew and now you know who holds the future. You do. With God’s at your side it is a bright one.

Make your own future today. God will be there to help guide you.


Don’t dwell…Do something…

September 5, 2020

One of the quotes that I saved from the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time back seemed appropriate to comment on this morning –

“Don’t dwell on went wrong.  Instead, focus on what to do next.”  (Denis Waitley)

The word dwell caught my attention. As I often do when wondering about a word, I Googles it and one of the results that came back was this…

5 Ways to Stop Dwelling on Negative Thoughts

  • Go Shopping in Your Mind. One distraction trick is to visualize yourself in the grocery store.
  • Keep Positive Company. If you can’t get troublesome feelings out of your mind, it may have something to do with your social circle.
  • Physically Throw Them Away. (I guess one could write them down on a piece of paper and then throw that paper in the trash)
  • Have a Cup of Tea.
  • Reframe Your Situation. (One example of reframing is redefining a problem as a challenge. Such a redefinition activates a different way of being. Problem has a heavy quality to it, while the notion of a challenge is enlivening.)

I think I get most of the advice, except maybe the cup of tea. Perhaps that advice was posted by someone in England. In America that might have read “Have a glass of wine”.

Most of the advice is really how to force (or trick) yourself to stop thinking about whatever it is, which would then allow you to refocus on the “what’s next” part. In that part of the quote, where the word “do” is the important word. The thinking involved in dwelling on a failure or a disappointment actually does nothing to resolve the situation in which you find yourself. It is in the doing that you are able to move ahead with life.

Sometimes you may start doing something to resolve the situation and realize that you are going in the wrong direction; but, at least you started doing instead of just dwelling on it and you can change direction and keep going. Your mind will be focused on the proposed solution or the new direction and not on the past.

The year 2020 will go down as one that gave us plenty of opportunities to dwell on failures or disappointments. With all of the things that have been canceled or delayed, it is easy to dwell in a stupor of disappointment and disgust. Blaming government leaders for what they did or didn’t do is a wasteful pastime of little real help – it is just dwelling upon the past. We must focus upon what to do next. A part of that is doing the things that are advised by our health-care professionals to contain the spread of the virus while we await a vaccine. Every time you put on your mask, think of it as “doing “ your part to help contain the virus.

A big and more positive thing to do about 2020 is to plan the rescheduling of the things that have been delayed. One must continue to believe that there will be a future and that events that have been delayed will take place in that future. Perhaps the song Tomorrow from the movie Annie would help. There will be a tomorrow.

Rather than dwell in the dumps about things that didn’t go as you had hoped they would in 2020, spend your time planning and doing things about making 2021 a great year. It will be remembered as the year that we all unmasked and got on with life.

Don’t dwell, do something.


Who holds your future?

March 14, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “Positive thinking is not about expecting the best to happen every time, but accepting that whatever happens is the best for that moment.”  (Lori Schneider)  This is especially true when we see God at work in our lives. Ralph Abernathy once said, “I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”

Some people use the term “karma” and others point to “destiny” when they discuss whatman praying controls their future. In both cases one could ask, “But, who/what controls that?” Eventually you always get back to God as the only answer to your future. If that is the case, and the thought in the opening quote is also true, then we should be asking God for His help in accepting what he has in store for use and making the best of it.

VR2The real point is that we can’t fight against the future and we aren’t in control of it, but we are in control (or we could be) of how we react to the events of the future. We need to be in the right frame of mind, a positive, upbeat frame of mind,  to face each day. Jack used another quote in today’s Winning Words that is really applicable here – “To begin, begin within.”  (William Wordsworth).

So the real answer to the opening question, “Who holds your future?”, is that you do. You don’t have control over what will happen, just how you will react to what happens. It is within you.  So, when you get hit with that lemon today; instead of letting it sour your whole day, stop and say to yourself, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming; but, how can I make lemonade out of this situation?” If you just give yourself that little pause and the chance to see some good come out or any circumstances, you’d be surprised how differently your day will go.

Sometimes it help to get in the right frame of mind to have something to refer to or to read at the beginning of the day. I am subscribed to Jack’s Winning Words, so I get Jack’s little insights five mornings a week (he doesn’t post on the weekends). I also get updatesMarlo Rutz head shot on posts to a great new Facebook chat group by local women’s empowerment coach and comedian Marlo Rutz. Marlo’s chat group is called Laughter, Light and Love. You can see it here. Marlo’s posts are to a public Facebook group that you have to join in order to see each day.

I also hope that a few people also find something in what I post to be helpful to get into the right frame of mind in the morning. In my last post, I wrote about taking control of the day, rather than letting the day control you. A major step to make that happen is to get in the right frame of mind. Taking the time each morning to get your head in a positive mode isn’t going to change what happens during the day, but it will make a big difference on the how the day goes for you.

Who holds your future? You do. Make it a bright one.

 


Change the future…touch a life…

April 16, 2018

From today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog post comes this gem sent in by one of his followers. If you want to touch the past, touch a rock.  If you want to touch the present, touch a flower.  If you want to touch the future, touch a life.”  (Sent by Al Weidlich)

That thought about changing the future by touching a life is the foundation of many organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, AA and NA and many more. It is all about touching other people and showing them compassion and caring. Those “touches” have the power to change people’s lives. Coincidentally they also change the lives of those who reach out to touch others.

We have become a society that is distracted and entertained by technology to such ancouple-looking-at-phones extent that we don’t look away from it long enough to see the lives that need touching as they pass us by. How can one see the distress and fear in the eyes of someone in need, if our eyes are glued to the screens of our smartphones? How can one have the conversation that leads to understanding of those needs if one is busy texting someone else with the handshakelatest “news” of our day?

Perhaps it is time to put away our technology and look around to see the people who share our lives. They may not be friends right now; but they could be. They may not need help right now; but they might. You will never know the pleasure of having them as a friend or the joy of helping them with a problem if you never take the time to reach out and touch their life. Something as simple as a friendly greeting may be all it takes to engage them enough to touch their life. Instead of looking away as you pass, look at them and see them as a person that it might be interesting to know.

Sure there is time to touch the past, whether it be a rock or an old photo; and there is time to touch the present, which we do with the things around us every day; but, it is our ability to touch the future and make a difference in it by touching the lives of others that is exciting. Touching things from the past or present has little impact upon them (other than perhaps to leave a fingerprint); however, we can change the course of history by complimenttouching and improving the lives of others. How powerful is that? Nothing else that you will do with your life will have greater impact than changing the lives of others for the better.

So, reach out this week and touch the lives of others. At the end of the day, think back on the opportunities to touch other lives that you took and those that you missed and resolve to do better tomorrow. I think that you will also realize the powerful changes that have occurred in your life because you made that effort and because others have made the effort to touch your life.

Put down those phones and stay in touch.


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?


And then the sun came up…

November 9, 2016

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today.  It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”  (Charles Schulz) – from the post on Jack’s Winning Words on the day after the recent Presidential election.

The reactions to the U.S. election around the world ranged from the pollsters’ and pundits’ shock and disbelief to a general sense worry and fear. The stock markets of the world swooned and nervous governments everywhere when back to the drawing boards to try to figure outme what this will mean to them. Many went to bed not knowing the outcome; some did not go to bed at all. And then the sun came up.
The world did not end and will not end because of the election of Donald Trump to be President of the United States. The awesome power and responsibilities of that office seemed to sink-in to the President Elect a bit as he delivered his winning speech to supporters, pledging to be a President for all of the people and trying to reassure allies and adversaries around the world that he will act prudently and with restraint. He had been through a dark and brutal campaign for almost two years; and then the sun came up.

President Elect Trump’s campaign tapped into and aligned itself with the frustration and anger of the American electorate – a frustration with the gridlock and self-dealing of Washington politicians and the anger of feeling helpless as the world-wide economy shifted and took jobs with it to other countries. That anger and frustration sometimes turned very dark, but it also fueled a movement bent on change, no matter what the cost. Perhaps there will be real good come out of some of that change. Whatever the immediate future holds, there will always be a tomorrow and another opportunity to change again. A old saying tells us that it is always darkest before the dawn.  And then the sun came up.

For those with tears in their eyes and fears in their hearts who supported Secretary
Clinton, it is hard to see anything positive from the outcome; however, they must not lose faith in the basic goodness and principals upon which our country was founded. Whether
it veers slightly to the right or slightly to the left it continues to move forward as the greatest example of a free people ruling jesus-as-lightthemselves for their common good and the good of the world. We print the foundation of our beliefs as a people on our money – In God we Trust.

And then the Son comes up.

God bless America!


What it was, what it is and what it yet may be…

July 15, 2015

“People always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.”  (Marcel Pagnol) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Ways blog recently.

I have some fond memories from the past, but I’m not sure that those really were “the good ole days.”  There wereman relaxing
lots of things that could have been better back then and many of them have gotten better. Perhaps we were better off somehow when we were not as connected as we are now. There is a simple contentment in being blissfully ignorant about what is happening around you.

politiciaN SPEAKINGPoliticians almost always try to paint a picture of better days ahead for America, as if the present is somehow terrible, especially if the other party can somehow be blamed for the mess that they say we are currently suffering. Most of us likely think that things will get better in the future, although the recent Great Recession has left a lingering pessimism about that future. For some the good ole days will forever be the pre-recession time when money flowed like water and no one was concerned about tomorrow.

As for the present, many have adopted the phrase “it is what it is” in a defeatist acceptance of things that need to be changed or improved. I prefer to say “it is what we make of it” and look for ways to change the things that need attention. What is you view of the present? Is it a pit that you feel trapped in or a springboard for tomorrow? Are afraidyou just accepting the day as it happens or using the day to make things happen? Do you see yourself as a victim of circumstances or as an victor in the daily struggles of life. Do you ask “Why me?” or say “Why not me?” Are you looking for excuses or looking for opportunities? The day , the week, the month and the rest of your life is what it yet may be. What are you doing with that?

The future may be less resolved than you would like it to be, but it is only through your resolve that it becomes clear. It is what you make it. Have a great day and resolve to look for opportunities not excuses.


Start the year by considering three words, three words and five words…

January 1, 2015

The words to pause and consider are …What it was, what it is and what it yet may be.

The media tend to spend a lot of time at this time of the year looking back on what was and pundits are called upon to look ahead and make predictions (which, of course are reviewed at the end of the next year to see which came true).

What it was – It’s not a bad idea in our own lives to pause and look back at what was, realizing that all of those things (both good and bad) are in the past. The value in looking back is to try to learn from those things and, hopefully, be able to do less of the bad things and more of the good into the future. This is something that should not be dwelled upon for too long.

What it is – Pausing to look at where you are at today gives you the foundation for making thinking hardchanges. Taking the time to do an honest assessment of your current situation will allow you to plan properly for the prospects that you see (or desire) in the future.  The key is to be realistic with yourself.  Don’t BS yourself if you hope to plan to get ahead. Sometimes it is valuable to get some honest third party input on this topic. You may need that to honestly answer the question, “Am I as good as I think I am?” More on why that is important below.

What it yet may be– This is the most important thing to think about and should be is a combination of your hopes, dreams and aspirations. More importantly these should be the thingswomen dreaming that help you set your goals. Being realistic about your goals in life is important, too. I have read many stories about very successful people who were able to set high, but realistic goals, once they let a dose of reality into their planning. It’s great to have a dream of being a major sports star or perhaps a Rock Star; but, if you’re only a mediocre athlete or an average singer in a small garage band it may be time to get real. If you love the industry and want to remain a part of it, perhaps you can focus on being one of the successful industry players around the periphery – sports or music agent or producer or reaching goalperhaps a stage hand or umpiring official. Many people who take those routes end up quite successful and still get to hang around with the sports or entertainment performers that they love.  An important point here is that taking this route may be better for you than abandoning your dreams altogether and looking back later with a bad case of the coulda, woudlda, shoulda’s.

Where do you go from here?

For some the year may have ended in a failed marriage. I hit that a lot in my real estate business. This process of reflection, assessment and planning provides the opportunity to clean the slate and start fresh, perhaps with a new relationship in your future. A clean slate in those cases doesn’t just mean trying to wipe away the memories of the ex-partner. It also means trying to see and old cooupleunderstand the roles that BOTH parties may have had in the failure of the marriage. Once you can see the things that perhaps you did or could have done differently in the partnership to make it work, you are on your way towards maybe having a successful second chance – one that works this time. Trying to go forward with the chip on your shoulder that the fault was all the other person’s is a sure receipt for repeating the disaster. That person is gone. Focus upon fixing the person that you still have with you.

For some, perhaps the year ended in loneliness because of the loss of a life partner. There is no reason that you cannot find happiness and companionship again with another person. There are introductionsocieties in which a widow is expected to live alone for the rest of their life; ours is not one of them. Any partner with whom you were happy would want you to continue to be happy and that means having the companionship of someone new. Appreciate what you had in the past, but move on with life. You needn’t fear having to go back into the dating game. You might be surprised how the “game” has changed, especially if you are a bit older. Maturity does a wonderful job of refocusing people away from the superficial things that seem so important to the young and onto the things that actually provide the foundation for lasting relationships – personality, humor, interests, etc. Modern technologies and social media have also made it much easier to find a new partner.

For most of us the challenges of life as we start a new year aren’t quite as big or dramatic; so, for us this time reflection, assessment and planning is a chance or renewals  or mid-course corrections. Maybe we just need to renew and revitalize our goals, perhaps taking this opportunity to reprioritize some of the plans that we’ve been executing upon. For some, maybe it is time for a mid-course correction. You’ve been working towards your goals for some time and now you’ve facing new daylooked up and assessed. Are those goals still valid? Is that what you really want to achieve; or, do you now see that this either the wrong destination or just a stop on the journey towards where you really want to end up? Either way, it’s good to find that out, so that you can make course corrections. Maybe you got a degree in one thing and now realize that you don’t want to pursue that field as a career. Your degree is still worth something and maybe you can apply some of what you learned in a different field. Maybe it will just provide the base from which you can get further education in the field that you now see for yourself. The important thing is to realize that you need to change courses and go for it.

So, take time as you pause to begin a new year and look back on “What it was”, take a good look at ”What it is” and then spend some time contemplating “What it yet may be.” The past is written in the books; you are living in the present; but, the future is yours to shape. Have a great year ahead – it is yet to be.