How are you carrying your loads?

July 10, 2019

A saying attributed to Lou Holtz is this morning’s inspiration –

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”  (Lou Holtz)

It is easy to think immediately about physical loads and the advice that we may have picked up over time about how to lift and carry things. I’ve been amazed from time to time how a couple of appliance delivery guys, or maybe moving company guys, can use a simple set of straps to lift and carry heavy appliances or other items. They know how to carry those loads by using that strap.

Lou_HoltzI suspect that the load that Holtz was referring to had more to do with the loads of obligations or stress or guilt or remorse or sadness that we all pick up in life over time. For many, the “life” loads that occur are not carried well and they end up breaking down under the load. Some point to the inability to deal with (to carry) these loads as the root cause of depression and suicide.

The key to the ability of the moving guy to lift and carry heavy or bulky boxes or items is that strap that they use to gain leverage and the right grip on the load. It is also important to know when a load should be shared with a partner. In dealing with our life loads, our strap is our faith and the partner that we need is God. The life loads that I mentioned above are very real and can be very heavy – the loss of a abusived wifeloved one, the end to a relationship, the loss of a job come to mind. However, the loads can also include the regret at having made a thoughtless remark about someone or the guilt that comes after passing by the person in need of help.

To extend the moving person analogy a bit further, it is also important eventually to put the load down. Using your faith as the strap that allows you to lift and bear the load. Asking God for help when you need it allows you r bear even heavier loads. But, it is also important to find a way and a place to put the load down. Accepting that the person is woman-prayinggone or that the relationship is over or that the job went away or that you did do what you now regret is a first step. Turning that acceptance into a memory that finds its place in your knowledge bank is the next step. Using that knowledge to go on with life is the final step. Dwelling in a pit of disbelief or remorse or regret is a sure formula for depression. It happened. It’s over. You need to move on. Grab your strap of faith and move that event to its proper place in your memories and then PUT IT DOWN.

Prayer is a good way to pause and think about the loads that you might be carrying and how you are dealing with them. Maybe, in addition to asking for help with today’s decisions, you can ask God to help you find the right place to put down some of the loads that you’ve been carrying around for a while. Maybe it’s time to put down the load of sadness from the loss of a loved one and find that place in your heart where fond memories of them will live forever and bring a smile to your face, rather than a frown.depression 5 Maybe you can refocus all of the energy that you have been putting into regret over the loss of that old job into doing better at your new job. Maybe you can turn the remorse of having made that insensitive remark to a fellow worker into motivation for being a better person towards others.

Now that you’ve figured out how to carry and put down your loads, make better use of the strap of your faith to pick up and share the loads of others who could use your help. Help them lift the loads of poverty or infirmity or loss by being there for them, on the other end of the strap. You may be surprised that your own loads start to feel lighter or gods-hands-2that you just put them down without thinking about it.  That is the hand of God and he is on both ends of the strap that is lifting you up. Let God carry your load; you’ve things to do helping others with their loads. Don’t worry. It won’t break you down. You know how to carry those loads – God is on the other end of your strap.


What will you see when you look at the mirror?

July 8, 2019

“God is like a mirror.  The mirror never changes, but everybody who looks at it sees something different.”  (Harold Kushner)  From a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Rabbi Kushner’s quote immediately brings to mind the question that is today’s headline. If looking to God shows a reflection of who you are, perhaps that is why so many turn away from Him. They just don’t like what they see in the mirror. Perhaps they see thearrogant things that they could have done differently; or, things that maybe should have done but did not. Maybe they see the ugliness of their prejudices or the hurt that their hate for others causes. Maybe the distorted face of cynicism stares back at them and they don’t like it. For many it may just be the look of guilt for having been away from God for so long.

Perhaps the mirror analogy is telling us that we see our own ego in the mirror and that mirror imagewe need to look beyond that reflection to find God in the mirror. Whatever one initially sees in God’s mirror; if you look beyond the ego that is reflected there and find God, the shame and guilt and remorse will all melt away as God forgives your sins and welcomes you back into the fold. Continue to look and ask for forgiveness and you will be rewarded with God’s peace.

Many are so wrapped up in themselves, in their own wants and needs that they do not take the time to look beyond the surface reflection in God’s mirror. They see only the things that they want to see and ignore all else. They may glance at God from time to time and see the things that they need for God to forgive; but, their reaction is one of “I’ll get back to you on that.” Many never do get back to God until it is too late.

So, take some time in prayer to look into God’s mirror and see what He sees. Ask for His man prayingforgiveness for the things you have done wrong or the things left undone that you should have done. Don’t start the day and the week with leftover baggage from the past. Unburden yourself and start anew by taking your problems to God. Look in the mirror and smile. You’ve seen the face of God there and he was smiling back at you.

What will you see when you look in the mirror – look deeply and find God there.


Make time to reboot yourself…listen for the whisper

June 14, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this little tidbit of wisdom – “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”  (Anne Lamott) Jack’s post went on to explain that re-booting things like computers or smartphones often fixes glitches that develop over time. I’ve certainly noticed that with my own computer and phone. Have you? I’ve noticed that those devices just seem to get overwhelmed or confused sometimes and turning them off and then back on seems to resolve that confusion and allow them to function properly again.

A point that Jack also made was that we all need to make time to reboot ourselves – toinsight take time away from the demands of day to day life, to let our minds settle and to get a fresh start. That is easier said than done in today’s 24/7 world, where we seem to always be booked with something that “we have to do”. Weekends, which used to be times to relax, are now times of constant activities. We have golf tee times or a tennis court reserved; we have to get out on the boat; we have children in sports or dance or other competitive activities. If there is not a weekend tournament, there is practice to get to or something that we need to go buy “for the team”.  We don’t have time for church on Sunday morning because that’s when the big tournament is or that’s when the team could get ice time at the rink. It’s go, go, go all weekend long. Some even welcome Mondays, so that they can get back to the comfort of work.

Then there is the influence of technology on our lives. When we have a moment, we phone with msgspend it staring down at our phone to see what might be going on that we missed. We schedule our lives there in our calendar apps and our lives are chronicled and shared there on the various social media that we use. It seems so important to us that we also check to see what others are doing and sharing about their lives that we have little time left for anything else.

Yet, we need to make time to unplug from this world, to reboot ourselves. Maybe you are the type of person who will have to put this time into your calendar in order to actuallywoman-praying do it; maybe not. One good way to make that time and use that time is to set aside a short period for prayer each day. Starting each day with some prayer time is a good way to do that; but, it can be any time during the day.

Why use that time for prayer? Because it forces us to stop and step back from the world for a few minutes and acknowledge something that is bigger and more important than anything else going on in your life at the moment. It provides some perspective on things and it allows the calming and clearing of the mind. It allows you to reboot. Just taking time for that quiet little prayer that I like to use – “Not my will; but, thy will be done” – seems to work wonders for me.

listenThere is a little plaque on our kitchen wall that says, “Take time for quiet moments, for the world is loud and God whispers.” You really need to make time for those quiet moments in your life, so that you can listen for the whispers of God in your life. Don’t worry; everything else in life will wait for you to reboot. Have a peaceful weekend and find time to listen for the whisper.

 


Look within first…

April 25, 2019

Do you know someone who is always seeking your approval or the approval of others? Maybe that describes you.

There are many things in life that require someone’s approval before we proceed; but just being yourself is not one of them. Yet, far too many people are so unsure of themselves that they constantly seek the input and approval of others. They need constant reassurance that they are OK; that they look OK (maybe beautiful); that what they are doing is OK (maybe trendy). This insecurity and constant need for approval is a sure sign of low self-esteem.

Perhaps parents or siblings who constantly tore them down as children – telling them that they were ugly or dumb or bad –  causing their low opinion of themselves. Maybe cruel people at school made fun or you or shunned you. Maybe you were bullied at bully.pngschool or at work. Maybe you have fallen into an abusive relationship where control is achieve by constantly tearing you down. Maybe some or all of that has happened to you.

No matter what the root cause, the path to a better, more productive and satisfying life starts by first looking within and becoming comfortable with what you see. You must accept yourself and love yourself, before you interact with others. A key to that self-acceptance is to understand that God accepts you and loves you as you are. God does not judge you. You are beautiful in God’s jesus-as-lighteyes. He forgives you whatever sins you may have committed and opens His arms to welcome you.

Once you accept God onto your life and understand that He accepts you just as you are, you will find that your need for acceptance and approval by others is gone. Once you realize that God loves you, you can love yourself and that is the bedrock of self-confidence. The approval of others is no longer required and the control of you by others is no longer possible, once you embrace God and learn to love yourself.

Some who lack self-esteem may fall into the pit of depression. It is important to realizedepression3 that no matter how dark it may seem or how deep the hole is that you find yourself in; you are not alone. God is there with you and He is always ready to help, if you will only let Him in. The way to do that is simple – surrender yourself to Him. I have written here many times about the simple, short prayer that I’ve used in times when I needed God’s help – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” The results can be immediate and dramatic.

You do not need the constant approval and reassurances of others. You only need the peace that comes with your acceptance by God. Who else really matters? What else really matters? Start by realizing that God loves you and then you will find that you can love this-is-meyourself and that is the ultimate in self-esteem.

Start your day by looking within and liking what you see. If you don’t see it, ask God to had you a new mirror. There’s a you in His mirror that you’re really going to love.

Have a great and confident day. You are OK.


Use your powers today…

April 24, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this quote – “Kindness is within our power even when fondness is not.”  (Henry James)

As I thought about that quote, and contemplated writing something about it; other, similar thoughts came to mind –

Compassion is within our power even when sharing is not

Forgiving is within our power even when forgetting is not

Believing is within our power even when understanding is not

The point of all of this is that we have it within our power to deal with the events and circumstances that life presents even if we cannot change them. The key is being able to accept that we cannot change them and moving on by dealing with life as it is and not as we would like it to be.

I’ve posted here in the past about the amazing stories that have come out of some of the most terrible hate crimes of recent times. I recall one in particular which involved a mass killing in a church. Sometime later, several survivors of that atrocity were interviewed and shared that they had forgiven the shooter and were now praying for his forgivesoul. They will never forget, but they had forgiven.

Perhaps the issue for most of us is focusing too much on the part that comes after the “even when” in those sentences. It takes a conscious effort to be kind to someone that we may not “like” or of whom we may not be fond. Having compassion for the plight of someone is possible, even if we cannot imagine or share their situation. It is especially hard to move on to forgiving someone who has wronged us in some way when we cannot get the act out of our minds and forget it.

For many, the final saying above is the hardest because they cannot let go of the need to understand everything and just believe. Yet, at the very core of faith is believing. It is the surrender of the need to understand that frees us to accept God and have faith. Thatwoman-praying need to understand is man’s ego coming out and the need to try to control things. Faith is admitting that we are not in control and putting our trust in the one who is – God. Faith starts with the little prayer “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

Start by believing even when you don’t understand. I think you’ll find that the rest of those things that are within your power – kindness, compassion, forgiveness and more – will come more naturally. Use your powers today.

believeIt’s going to be a great day.


Make today the better day…

March 11, 2019

“Something to keep in mind… When one thing comes to an end, another thing begins.”  (From the movie, Love Happens) – as reported in the Jack’s Winning Words blog today. Jack went on to write a few upbeat and encouraging words, as he always does. He concluded his remarks with, “A new and better day is ahead!”

bored2Maybe you had a tough week last week or the weekend didn’t turn out as you had hoped. Whatever the disappointment or set-back from the past, today is a new day and you still have the opportunity to make it a better day, a great day. Even if the problems that you were facing yesterday, or last week, are still there and still must be faced; you can make it a better day by approaching them with a new attitude and a new resolve to get through them and make it a better day.

Perhaps it was the loss of a loved one or the failure of a relationship or marriage. Maybe it was getting a layoff notice at work or word that the company was going under. Maybe it was something less dramatic, but none the less serious to you, such as your furnace going out on a cold weekend. Whatever the cause of yesterday’s bad day and no matter how it affected you then, you start today with a clean slate in terms of how you will react to the situation.

In most situations, you can’t really control the things that are happening or which haveangry woman happened. The only thing that you control is how you react to those happenings. You can give up and let them drag you down into the pit of despair and depression or you can take a deep breath and begin to work things out. There may not be a “solution” to what happened, but there is a way to accept it and move on with life.

Perhaps one of the best ways to find your way out of the mess that your mind may have put you in is to stop and have a moment of prayer. God has said that He will always be woman-prayingthere with us and that if we trust Him everything will be all right. He didn’t say that there would be no pain, no hardship, or no grieving. He said that if we believe in Him through those things we will be rewarded with a peace that passes all understanding. I have found that nothing helps more in life to get through life’s crises than to be at peace when all of those around you are in panic. That peace starts by going to God andgods-hands-2 saying, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

So, if you want to make today a better day, start by getting yourself right with God and asking for His help. Then bring it on. You’re ready to make it a better day.

Peace be with you.


You can’t stand pat…

February 27, 2019

In poker you can decide to do nothing and play the cards that you were dealt. It’s called standing pat. Sometimes in life we are dealt a hand that we like and perhaps we wish we could stand pat, but that is seldom possible, because life moves on and we must move on, too. In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed writes about choosing a way forward, using a quote from FDR – “There are many ways of moving forward, but only one way of standing still.”

There have been lots of songs written about trying to hold onto a time in life to to get back to one of those times. Jim Croce sang about trying to put time with someone he loved in a bottle and Cher lamented about turning back time. We don’t really have either of those options, so we are faced with making choices about which way to move forward.

mind at workSometimes we are faced with situations for which there just doesn’t seem to be a way forward that isn’t lined with danger or pain or fears. We become paralyzed by our fears, uncertainty and doubts. Our imaginations take over in those times and conjure up the worst possible outcomes. We envision failure, rather than visualizing success. During those times we may feel very alone, which adds to our fears.

It is during those darkest hours when we need to call upon our faith and lean on the one who will never leave us and always provide a way forward – God. I have posted here depression3many times about giving up the self-delusion that we are in control, that we can work our way out of whatever the situation is purely through our own efforts. Life is too big to get our arms around and control. We are swept along with events that occur around us and the only thing that we can perhaps control is how we react to them. We can’t stand pat. We must choose a way forward. Sometimes the only way to see that gods-hands-2way forward is to let God show us. Ask for His help and trust in Him to guide us forward.

We can’t stand pat; but, we don’t have to play the hand that we were dealt alone. Let God into your life and ask Him to show you the way forward. God doesn’t promise a way forward without pain or dangers or setbacks or even death; but, He does promise that you will get to where you are supposed to go and that He will stay with you every step of the way. You are not alone.

Find your path forward, today. Ask God for help.


It’s going to be a very pleasant spring…

February 25, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this reminder –   “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant”  (Anne  Bradstreet)

Given the recent weather and the icy conditions this winter, spring is going to feel especially nice this year.

In the quote that Jack used, Bradstreet went in to write, “;if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be as welcome.”

Even though winter can feel depressingly long at times, we know that spring will come, depression4things will change, flowers will bloom again and all will feel good again. So it is with life. It is hard to imagine getting through some things that occur in life, but we do. Life goes on and things get better. The pain of a loss dulls over time, replaced by fond memories. The sharp disappointment of a failure fades and is replaced by wisdom from the experience. The depressing weight of our fears, uncertainties and doubts give way to the joy of success in new experiences. It’s going to be a very pleasant spring.

Our ability to weather the winter months is bolstered by the certainty in our minds that spring will come. We believe that better weather is just ahead. We can bolster our abilitywoman-praying to get through the trials and tribulations of life by believing in God and his love for us. That belief helps us look forward to the better times ahead that He has promised. Our adversities melt away once we pray, “not my will but thy will be done”. We stop focusing upon the past and look once again to the future. It’s going to be a very pleasant spring.

We are perhaps tasting winter’s adversity right now, with ice, winds, and freezing temperature; however, somewhere is the back of our minds we can picture those first flowers in the iceflowers pushing their way through the snow to announce that spring is finally here. So, we soldier on, slogging through the slush or slipping along on the ice, in the certain belief that spring will arrive soon. In life, we go on in the certain belief that God is with us and that things will be all right if we just trust Him. We may be in the midst of a hardship or feeling the pain of some event in our lives; but we must continue to believe in God. It’s going to be a very pleasant spring.

So, hunker down today with your coffee (or whatever), listen to the wind howling through the trees and watch the salt trucks rumble by trying to keep the roads clean. Today may be another miserable winter day, but it does get us closer to the spring that we know is coming. Say a little prayer and ask God for the strength to weather another day of adversity in your life, in the certainty that…

It’s going to be a very pleasant spring.


Who do you think you are?

February 19, 2019

Have you ever had someone ask you that question? Often the question is asked right after you’ve tried to do something that is reserved for others, perhaps for dignitaries or famous people. Or, maybe you’ve tried to cut into a line, like the football player in the pizza commercial. You’ve tried to claim a privilege that you are not due. Who do you think you are?

In today’s post to his blog Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote –  “The difference between you and God is that God doesn’t believe he’s you.”  (Anne Lamott)

It’s not so much that we actually believe that we are God as it is that we tend to try to control things in our lives as if we were God. We try to bend things to our will. As Jack put it in his post, we tend to pervert the Lord’s prayer to read “My will be done.” Who do you think you are?

arrogantWhen God gave humankind free will, it also gave birth to man’s ego and that ego grew to believe that men could control their own destinies. One perversion of thinking that comes out of this ego-driven way of thinking is the confusion over what things are privileges and what things are rights. Men who develop God complexes often believe that everything they are doing is their right. It is that ability to forget who we are and assume privileges as rights that allowed the settlers of America to displace the Native Americans that they found here. The settlers and those who followed claimed that it was their “manifest destiny” to take the land. The Native Americans were asking all along- Who do you think you are?

The same God-like ego allowed the introduction of slavery into America. After all, the slave owners told themselves, these slaves were not men and women like us. There was certainly a lot of precedence in the Bible for slavery and, after all, they were God’s good preacher-pointingChristians, so it was OK. The slaves had a different view of things and asked, Who do you think you are?

In today’s world, we have many people in business and government who assume the mantle for God to tell us what is good for us. They see nothing wrong with raising the price of a drug by 1,000% or evicting homeless people from the hovels in which they found shelter. They pass laws that they say will prevent us from harming ourselves or push products upon us for conditions that we did not know we had. They see nothing wrong with depleting our natural resources and polluting our environment. They get indignant when we ask, Who do you think you are?

Yet, that is the question that we need to continue to ask- of them and of ourselves. It man prayingstarts with getting your own head straight about who you are and how you relate to God. Once you figure out the part about “Thy will be done”; then you can ask the real questions, “How can I help? What is my role?” First, you must correctly answer the question, “Who do you think you are?” Then you are ready to say to God, “Here I am, send me.”

So, think about it, before you set out on another day, Who do you think you are?


Good times or bad, thy will be done…

January 26, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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