Who are you?

June 24, 2022

A post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog this week posed the question that is today’s topic. Pastor Freed  posed this question in the quote that he used – “Imagine that you have lost your occupational role and your family relationships.  Who are you now?”  (Brian Thorne) 

I have posted here before that; men in particular seem to find their identities more in their jobs than even their homes. Certainly, their roles as husbands and fathers make up some part of how they identify themselves. I recently read part of an article on depression in older men that is supposedly caused by the changes that they encounter when they have retired. Perhaps the root cause of the depression in older, retired men is the loss of the “role” that they played in their work life. Their parental roles may have also become greatly reduced by that time.

The study that resulted in the article that I read looked at depression in homeless people who have no job, no family ties and even no home with which to identify. Those homeless who were diagnosed with depression struggled to answer the question, “Who am I?” Many retired men in particular struggle with the same feelings of depression, once their job identities are removed.

I have written here several times about loving yourself. Often that starts with forgiving yourself for past mistakes; however, it always comes down to accepting yourself as you are before moving on to the roles that you might be playing in your interactions with others. A big part of accepting yourself is acknowledging your relationship with God and His role in your life. The little prayer that I use a lot here – “Not my will, but thy will be done” – serve to free you from the time-wasting need to try to control everything in your life and lets you focus instead of using your time to be the best person that you can be in whatever roles you are playing.

Maybe you don’t have the identity of your old work role anymore, but there are plenty of volunteer opportunities begging for your help in every community across this nation. Shifting the use of your time to volunteer work allows you to use many of the skills that you might have developed in your old work life to the betterment of others in you r community. The rewards in terms of your feeling of self-worth can be much greater than those that you received at work.

You may also find that your can increase your spousal role now that you have more time to give to the person who has been by your side for a long time. It’s not so much that you were ignoring that person as it is that you just didn’t have the time or maybe didn’t give it the priority that it deserved. You may find that you fall in love all over again with the one person that has been there all along.

One trap that is all to easy to fall into is living in the past. Avoid the tendency to say, “I used to be…” and instead focus upon what you are doing now, the who you are now. Whether it involves volunteer work or maybe a part-time job, share that instead of past accomplishments. Be more conscious of the time that you are spending with your life-mate and celebrate the joy that you can bring to their life by doing so. Take the time that you have now to continue educating yourself, either formally through classes or just through reading and exploring the answers to questions that you have.

If you start each day with a little prayer thanking God for giving you another day and vowing to make the best use of the time that you have been given, you will find that you don’t have time to be depressed because you are busy all day long working at making the lives of others better.

So, who are you? You’re the person that others are thankful is around to lend a hand or get things done. You’re the person whose life-mate is thankful is there for them. You’re the person with whom God is happy at the end of the day. Another quote from today’s installment to Jack’s Winning Word seems to fit here – “If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.”  (Max Lucado)

Be that guy/gal and you’ll know who you are because you’ve got your picture on God’s refrigerator.


Don’t try to hide from life…

December 16, 2021

A couple of quotes that I’ve had laying around from some time seem to point to the same thing – that one cannot and should not try to avoid the hardships in life but strive to overcome them.

“A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.”  (Helen Keller)

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”  (Dolly Parton)

Those who spend their lives avoiding anything that might bring hardship often end up living really boring and unsatisfying lives. They never try things that they fear – a fear created by their own imaginations most of the time – and thus miss out on some of life’s great rainbow moments of success and pleasure.

Many people interviewed after overcoming great adversity or mastering some great challenge report that they have never felt “so alive” as in those moments. Whether you attribute that to an adrenalin rush or to the flush of success doesn’t matter, they are rainbow moments in their lives.

A life carefully crafted to avoid hardships becomes bland and seamless. Instead of a mantra of “we shall overcome” they follow the rule “we will not participate”. One cannot even achieve contentment living such a life because they must always be on guard to avoid imaginary confrontations, dangers, or hardships. They are hiding from life rather than living it. For them the rain never stops, and the rainbow never appears.

Sure, the rain will fall in the lives of those who do participate; however, those who chose to overcome the hardships will get to see the rainbows in life. So, maybe, one should not pray to God to help you avoid life’s hardships; but, rather, pray that God give you the strength and perseverance to overcome them and show you the rainbows.

With God’s help, master the hardships life throws at you. Live a happy life. See the rainbows.


What’s in you?

October 30, 2021

A daily quote that I get from somewhere (who knows how one gets on these email lists) struck a chord with me yesterday –

All the ill that is in us comes from fear, and all the good from love. (Eleanor Farjeon)

One needs to think a bit about the broad generalizations in Farjeon’s statement. There are lots of emotions or feelings that one can have about things in life, but they do all boil down to either fearing or loving whatever it is that has evoked those reactions. Even the strong negative (ill) emotion of anger is motivated deep down by fear.

It is a worthwhile exercise to explore and try to identify the root causes of regret, anger or anxiety in your life. Why? Because it forces you to confront those fears and allows you to overcome them. Cutting through the emotional layers of fear allows one to focus upon the thing that is driving the fear – the upcoming decision or event or, maybe, the person that we fear facing.

Then, instead of allowing your imagination to explore all of the possible negative outcomes (something that it is very good at), you can instead use your imagination to visualize the desired outcome. Professional golfers use that visualization technique all of the time to “see” the successful outcome of their next shot. You don’t imagine that they stand there “seeing” their next shot going in the water or into a trap. No. Instead they “see” their shoe landing softly on the green and rolling towards the cup. Why would you spend time visualizing failure rather than “seeing” yourself being successful in whatever challenges you are facing.

So, where is the love (the good) in all of this? Using the same logic as I espoused for analyzing the fears in your life, you can backtrack the love side to find its core, too. If you have been able to visualize your success in whatever is facing you, it is easy to take the step of loving what it is that you see yourself doing. From there it is a small, but important step to love yourself for having the courage to be successful. If you can love who you are and what you are about to do, you can then admit to yourself that you could not have done it alone and acknowledge and embrace the love of God that gave you that courage.

So, at the heart of the love in your life is God’s love for you and all the rest of the good (the love) radiates out from that core, like the ripples in a pool of water when you toss in a rock. For at the core of all fears is the fear of death and those who believe in God know that Jesus has saved us from death and promised eternal life. Allow me the latitude to paraphrase Romans 8:31 – “If God is with us, what is there left to fear?”

Love God, be fearless and life will be good. What’s in you?


Be at peace…

October 29, 2021

I have written about being at peace a few times in this blog, but two quotes that I saw recently inspired me to visit that topic again.

“If God be our God, He will give us peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.”

– Thomas Watson

“As we pour out our bitterness, God pours in his peace.”

– F.B. Meyer

We live within a worldly environment that too often surrounds us with trouble or tries to provoke us into anger, bitterness, or despair. It’s all to easy to get swept up and swept away by events over which we have no control.

I have mentioned Milford United Methodist pastor Doug McMunn in few posts in the past, because he often uses the phrase “Be at peace” when greeting or talking with people. If you meet Doug you will appreciate very quickly that he is at peace with himself and the world around him. Perhaps that is something that we expect of pastors; but not all are at peace. How do we achieve that same peace for ourselves?

If you read those two quotes above, there is one precursor implied in both that is critical and that is that you allow God into your life. Once there, as Watson says, God can create peace. As we accept God we pour out our bitterness, we forgive others, and ourselves, and allow God to pour in his peace.

The storms that Watson refers to are all the distractions and seeming emergencies that life can throw at us. If we allow those distractions to accomplish their goal, we drift away from God and focus upon the impossible task of trying to be in control, trying to resolve life’s conundrums. We are not at peace because ewe have not accepted the peace that God offers us.

We often let ourselves become to intensely focused upon things that are not really all that consequential in the grand scheme of life. Few of us ever are faced with decisions or tasks which involve life or death situations. However, I think of the pressure that healthcare workers in COVID wards are under, or which they put on themselves, because in that case people do die. Too many of them have been unable to find peace in the fact that they did their best to provide care and tried their best to make their patients as comfortable as possible in the face of death. It was not their fault, yet they fault themselves. They must pour out their bitterness and disappointment and let God pour in his peace.

As you finish each day, try to put behind you the things that you so fiercely focused upon during the day. Take time to touch base with God again and let Him calm the storms of your life and give you His peace. In the morning, touch that base again so that you can start the day at peace. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much calmer the storms around you will seem during the day when you carry God’s peace with you.

Be at peace.


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?


It is not karma…

July 11, 2021

Pastor Freed used this quote recently in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“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 a concept that many people believe in called “karma”. The thought is that people get what they deserve to get. Similar thoughts lead to sayings like “things come around that go around” or “He/she had it coming to them.” Karma.

But, today’s quote actually begs a different response or point of view. It may be couched in religious terms by changing it to read, “We have no right to ask God, ‘Why did you let this happen to me?’ when bd things happen unless we also thank God for every moment of happiness that comes our way.” It is not karma, it’s God’s will.

For the longest time in my life I was one of those who only turned to God in the bad times, the times that I needed His help. I seldom thanked God for the good things that happened in my life or even recognize the things that didn’t happen because He is with me. It did occur to me to be thankful for the bigger things, perhaps the things that I had prayed fort help with, but the little things, especially the little things that didn’t happen just escaped my notice or thanks.

I don’t recall exactly when I became more aware of those little things, aware enough to thank God for once again saving my bacon, but I do now think more often about the events of the day and how something (karma or God) went right or didn’t happen, when it easily could have gone the other way. I chose to believe that God was with me and watching over me during those events or non-events.

We were told in the Bible – “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…” (Genesis 28:15) We were also given free will, which allows us to do both good and evil things. The devil often throws temptation in our path and many succumb to those temptations and wander away from God. But God is always with us, living the back of our minds in what we call our conscience. That small voice that tells us what is right from what is wrong is the voice of God quietly providing guidance.

So, it is really not karma that got us through the events of the day – good or bad – but rather God watching over us. That is why I now look back over each day and see the times when God was there to make something good happen or to save me from something bad by making it not happen. I spend as much time thanking Him for the good as praying for His help with the bad.

What about you? Do you thank God for the good things that happen in your life or the bad things that He saved you from? Do you wait until you are in trouble and need His help? Do you get what you deserve? It is not karma.


Don’t give up a second of peace…

May 12, 2021

I saw that quote in a Pinterest post somewhere and it resonated. Anger is a terrible thing and a waste of time. Angry people are usually tense people and that tension is bad for the heart as well as the mind.  Anger is usually directed at someone, although it can be directed at an inanimate object, which is really dumb.

Anger and hate seem to go hand-in-hand, because hate is the most convenient outlet for anger. You often hear angry people saying, “I hate that person (or that thing)” when they are angry at someone or something. I often us the retort, “hate is such a strong emotion to waste upon an inanimate object” if the person is talking about hating a thing. My wife hates that little phrase. Perhaps I overuse it.

We may hear people saying, “I hate that about you” or maybe  “I hate you for that” when they become angry with someone about something usually some behavior. We sometimes hear the phrase about angry people, “He/she was stewing over that”, meaning that they were allowing themselves to be consumed by the anger to the exclusion of all else.  

If we really stop and think about it, there is really nothing that being angry can change about whatever happened to put you in that state of mind. Anger usually results from events that is now in the past, so they are done and there is no way to change what happened. Instead of anger, one might benefit from trying to learn from the events, especially if those event are likely to reoccur if nothing changes. A failure or a rejection that sparked your anger really needs to be analyzed for things that you could change the next time, in order to be more successful.

As the little quote says, anger take us away from being at peace. Perhaps it would help if we reinforced our peace of mind each morning with a prayer. We could ask God to be with us during the day and to help us stay at peace as we encounter things that might upset us. Thinking about God being there, so that we can reach out to Him for reassurance and to steady ourselves may help us maintain that peace during trying times during the day. It can’t hurt to try that.

So don’t waste your time being angry. It accomplished nothing and is bad for your general health. Instead, be at peace. You’ll feel better and the world around you will be a better place for it. I have taken a little liberty with this Bible quote, but we are told –

“Do not be anxious (or angry – ed.) about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7

I’ve posted here before in blogs about a local Methodist Pastor, Doug McMunn, who will often greet people with the little phrase “Be at peace”. Doug is a person who always seems to be in that state of peace and being around him is a calming thing. Maybe, when you next encounter an event that is making you angry, you can whisper Doug’s advice to yourself and “Be at peace.”

Wouldn’t you really rather be in a peaceful place in your life?

Be at peace.


Who is watching you?

May 5, 2021

Two quotes that I’ve been saving to write about just seem to go together.

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.” ― William W. Purkey

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”― Eleanor Roosevelt

Purkey’s quote is the better known and one that is often referenced, especially the first few words. Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote though not as well known is none the less quite true and good advice.  At the core of both is the need to just be you and live your life without letting to many concerns about what others may think of you dictate how you act. That is not to say that it is OK to do anything illegal or harmful just because you fell like doing it. There are norms within any society that dictate a few limits to our behavior.

Most of us do stop to think about what others may think before we act on an impulse to sing out loud or dance in public; but sometimes the impulse is just too strong and we do it anyway, not caring, in those cases, what anyone else may think. The hesitancy to express love for someone else out of fear of rejection is probably something that many have experienced. Maybe it was a crush on someone in school (maybe even a crush on a teacher) or perhaps some fantasy about a popular entertainment figure that played out in your mind. Most get over this unrequited love, but some went on to become stalkers and get into trouble over it.

So, within reason, whether it’s dancing or singing or loving, it is important to do what is in your heart and not let the criticism that may follow dictate your actions. Implicit in Roosevelt’s quote and at the end of Purkey’s quote is the real key message of both – live life like it is heaven on earth. If you start each day with a positive, upbeat attitude and with a sense of gratitude to God that you have been given another day in Paradise, the whole day will go better for you.

Instead of looking ahead at the day and asking yourself, “How can I get through this day?”, ask instead, “How can I make this day even better for me and for someone else?” Why? Not because someone is watching you; but because God is watching you. God gave you another day and is watching to see what you will do with it. We are told in the Bible –

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

You know in your heart that doing things that are harmful to others or illegal are not “good, acceptable and perfect”. God did not put those things in your mind, or your heart and you can feel that they are not right. Through prayer, search your heart for the things that God put there and do them, instead. Then you will be living like it is heaven on earth. If you do that, maybe others will sing along with you when you thought that no one was watching.

Have a great day doing the right things. God is watching you and others are waiting to sign along with you. Live like it’s heaven on earth.


See the wind…hear God

May 3, 2021

The quote that Pastor Freed used today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, is from poet Christina Rossetti.

“Who has seen the wind?  Neither I nor you: 

But when the leaves hang trembling,

The wind is passing through. 

Who has seen the wind?  Neither you nor I: 

But when the trees bow down their heads,

The wind is passing by.” 

I was inspired to wax poetic, too –

Who has seen God? Neither I nor you:

But when things happen in our lives,

It was God passing through.

Who has seen God? Neither you nor I:

But when we bow of heads in prayer,

We know God is nearby.

Who has seen God? Maybe none can say:

But those who believe without seeing,

Will walk with God today.

Even though we cannot “see” the wind, we can see the results of it being there. We cannot see God either, but those who believe in God will see the results of Him being there.

While one cannot see the wind, we can feel it on our faces and know that it is there. We cannot see God, but we can feel Him in our hearts and know that He is there.

When the wind blows, we hear a rustling in the trees. When God speaks to us, we hear a whisper in the back of our minds. That brings to mind another quote that I’ve used here before that reminds us to make time for prayer –

“Make time for the quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud.”  (Greg Olson)

Will you hear the whispers of God? Make time in your life for those quite moments of prayer when you can hear the voice of God. Maybe that rustling sound you hear in the trees as the wind passes through is the whisper of God trying to talk to you.

Shhhhhh….God is talking to you. See the wind and hear God


Let God be “the one”…

April 2, 2021

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used a quote that is attributed to Marilyn Monroe – “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure.  I make mistakes.  I am out of control and at times hard to handle.  You be the one who nurtures and builds.  You be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, the one who looks for the best in people.” 

In his post, Freed speculated about whether it might have been Joe DiMaggio or maybe even John F. Kennedy, about whom Marilyn was speaking. I thought, when I read it, perhaps it was more like a prayer and God is the “You be the one” being addressed. Pastor Freed opines that Marilyn was a complex person, often misunderstood. Perhaps she had come to the realization that she needed to let God be in control of her otherwise out of control life.

Whether Marilyn was, in fact, asking for God’s help or not; the rest of us certainly could benefit from turning control of our lives over to God. Let God be the one who understands and forgives us, who nurtures and builds us and brings out the best in us. It is as simple as believing and uttering the little one line prayer that I have used here before – “Not my will; but, thy will be done.”

If you can bring yourself to that point, where you surrender completely to God’s will in your life, amazing things can happen in your life. God will forgive you and bring out the best in you. Life may continue to be chaotic all round you, but a sense of peace will descend upon you that will allow you not only to cope, but to thrive.

A great deal of the stress and anxiety that we have about the events of our daily lives is formented out of our fear of the unknown, our inability to answer the question what comes next (after death). Jesus provided the answer to that question in his death and resurrection. For those who believe, there is a place reserved for them in the “next”.

Get your reservation for what is next by letting God be “the one” in your life. You will find that your concerns about what happens in the here and now will melt away. God will bring out the best in you.

Let God be “the one” in your life.