Let’s hope that we’ve learned…

May 18, 2020

Jack had a particularly apropos quote today in his blog – Jack’s Winning Words“Experience is a hard teacher, because she gives the test first and the lesson afterward.”  (Vern Law)

We are all living through the test right now and the real-time grades that we see on the news every night show that many are failing and even more are failing to learn. Even the national health official in Sweden who made the call not to impose any stay at home guidance now is saying, “Gee, I didn’t realize that so many would die.” Sweden has experienced one of the highest per capita death rates in the world because of that decision.  They were going for herd immunity and instead ended up thinning the herd.

In the United States we have seen the consequences in meat packing plants across the country of some states not taking enough precautions. We will soon see the second wave of infections due to the re-opening of many states before they were ready. The focus has now turned to testing and tracing, neither one of which we are prepared to do adequately. The models predict well over 100,000 dead by mid-June. Still, some idiots claim this is all a hoax or a plot to unseat President Trump. He certainly doesn’t need the help of this pandemic to prove that he shouldn’t be President.

I’m certain that the cooler heads of the health professionals that still exist in Washington will learn from this experience; however, they will probably not be allowed to use that new knowledge as long as the Tweeter-in-Chief is in charge. He has already chosen to ignore their advice on re-opening the country and called into question their loyalty to him every time they disagree with one of his pronouncements.

Hopefully, the experience of the last four years has taught enough of us a lesson that we take actions to apply what we have learned at the ballot box in November. We shall have to wait until after the election to start to see sanity return to the decision making process at the Federal level. Until that time, remember that we are still taking the test and what you do to protect yourself and others will determine your grade.

Stay home. Stay safe. Learn from this experience.


A world in search of its Golden Calf.

December 25, 2019

Today is Christmas Day, 2019, but already some of the local stores have put away Christmas and New Year’s Day stuff and have their Valentine’s Day merchandise out. By the time that we get to February, the Valentine’s Day stuff will be gone and the St. Patrick’s Day merchandise will be everywhere. That won’t last long, because they have to get the Easter stuff up before mid-February.

We have become a society obsessed with staying ahead of things and maintaining a fast pace. We have no time to relax, because we might miss something. We may not know what that is, but we constantly check Facebook or Instagram to see what that might be.

What are we looking for? What is driving this need for activity and speed in our lives? Why do we rush to find “the next big thing?” What are we in search of?

Perhaps a story from the Bible will shed some light on this question. Recall when Moses led his people out of bandage in Egypt and went up the mountain to talk to God. The people grew restless and impatient for Moses’ return. They wanted something to worship and look to for comfort in the midst of their trying times, so they created an idol – a statue of a calf made out of gold. Unlike their mysterious God, whom none but Moses could talk to or see, this idol was something concrete to them. They could see it and touch it; so, it gave them some level of comfort. Of course, Moses had a fit when he came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments in hand.

man looking through telescope

In today’s world, the next big thing, or at the least, the things that we don’t yet have, have become our Golden Calf, the things that we idolize. We are impatient to get them, because we think they will bring us comfort and peace; however, when we get each one we find ourselves longing for the next big thing the next thing that we don’t have. We are obsessed with things, with success, with experiences; with whatever we believe is missing in our lives that would make us happy.

The reality for most is that what is missing in their lives is God. If they allowed God into their life and embraced Him, they would experience the “peace that passes all understanding” and know the joy and contentment that this brings. Worldly possessions and pursuits become meaningless when compared to the joy of knowing Him.

On this Christmas Day, take a moment to reflect upon your life. What is important to you? What are you pursuing or searching for? What things do you think you need to make you happy? If you got those things, would you stop and be happy or would you still be running after the next big thing? What is your Golden Calf?

Then ask yourself, where is God in your life? Is He a priority in your life? If He was a priority in your life, do you believe that you would need/want that next big  thing? Stop your searching. The next big thing is right there with you. Embrace God and be happy with your life.

Merry Christmas! May you know God’s peace.


Have faith in life…

December 18, 2019

I get a kick out of the various “”life is like…” quotes. Do you remember what Forest Gump said life is like (or at least what his momma told him life is like)?  In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Jack Freed used this quote – “Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes along.”  (Samuel Butler) 

Whether you think that life is like Gump’s mysterious box of chocolates or like trying to learn the violin while playing in public, both seem to point to the unpredictability of life and the need to learn, or adapt, as we go.

Below are three of the best “Life is like” quotes that I found. Think a bit about each one.

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

“Life is like a book. There are good chapters, and there are bad chapters. But when you get to a bad chapter, you don’t stop reading the book! If you do… then you never get to find out what happens next!” – Brian Falkner

“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls…are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.” – James Patterson

Going back to Butler’s quote, I think it is very important that we learn as we go, not only to avoid repeating mistakes, but to grow in intellect and wisdom.

Patterson’s quote in particular helps one put some perspective on the important things in life.  Perhaps, as we learn, we will discover that there are other balls in our lives like the rubber ball that Patterson described as work, which we can drop without fear that they will break. Some that we may drop, like prejudices or unfounded fears, we hope will not bounce back, Those balls are better left behind in life.

There is another ball that Patterson didn’t mention, which many keep in the air in their lives – faith. Indeed, even if the other four balls that Patterson identified as important and fragile – family, health, friends and integrity – are somehow shattered in your life, keeping the ball of faith in the air (in your life) is the only ball that will help you bounce back.  

Faith is what helps us get through the bad chapters in life that Falkner was alluding to and faith shapes our free will response to life that Nehru was talking about. It is our faith that God is there with us that helps us deal with the problems that come our way and to see and celebrate the good in the situation that God is always putting there for us.

No matter what allegory you may use for life, if you keep faith alive in your life the music that you create as you go through life with be beautiful indeed.


Decide to be happy today…

November 14, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used a couple of quotes that seem to fit together and which lead to my thoughts about the topic.

“The world of the happy is quite different from that of the unhappy.”  (Ludwig Witherspoon)

“We are about as happy as we make up our mind to be.”  (Abraham Lincoln)

Do you know someone who seems always to be unhappy? How about someone who seems to be happy all the time? Which would you rather be around today? Why?

The first quote that Jack used gives you the best clue about why you might choose to be around the happy person – their world is a happy, pleasant place to be. There are smiles and laughter and good feelings that are contagious; whereas the dark world of the unhappy person is foreboding and full of frowns and tears and sorrow – not a pleasant place to be. The two worlds are different and those who choose to abode in it with them are impacted by that difference.

So, the choice is to be dragged down into an unhappy world or to be lifted up in joy by a happy environment.

It is now important to understand what Lincoln said. You have the choice to make each morning about which world you will live in that day and which world you will let the public see. Your world, and your day, will be quite different, depending upon which choice you make.

You may retort, “That’s easy for you to say, you aren’t facing the problems that I have today.” Before you start sharing that pity party routine, let us establish that you are correct that no one else has exactly the same challenges facing them as you do. However, there are also people facing much worse situations and problems than you have; so, you can start by being thankful that you are not in their situations. That may lead you to realize that you should be thankful to be alive, so that you can deal with your issues. You are already one-step better off than the alternative and a step closer to a happy place.

Perhaps those two realizations will have already led you to thanking God for another day and for not being in a worse place; but, if not, take time now for that. While you are thanking God, ask for His help in facing your issues and the day. You might be surprised how fast God can put a smile on your face after you have said the little prayer, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Your world will be different. You may not think of yourself as being happy. Perhaps you feel that you are just less unhappy. That’s OK. It will show on your face and in how you interact with others. You might be surprised how much more people want to interact with you when they see you as happy, rather than seeing a sourpuss. People would much rather interact with a Cheerful Cherise  than with a Debbie Downer.

A side benefit of deciding to be happy, rather than down, is that more people will also be willing to help you with your problems. The reason is that many people tend to avoid an unhappy person, so they never get to know you well enough to offer help. Whereas, people who have encountered a happy person and gotten to know them want to help you stay happy, so they offer help.

So, take Lincoln’s advice and make up your mind to be happy today. Take the time to thank God for all that He has already done for your and ask Him for His help with the issues that you are currently facing. Then put on a smile and head out into a happy world. It’s a better and more helpful place to spend the day in.

Decide to be happy today!


What do you see in your mirror?

September 25, 2019

“Let us be thankful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.”  (Samuel Butler)  – that was the quote used in the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write that is was good that the mirror just reflects what we let the outside world see and does not show our thoughts or feelings or fears. It just shows us what we look like to others. 

However, for some, even that is not true. They look in the mirror and see their imperfections or maybe they see an overweight person when a truly thin person is standing there. They actually distort the reflection much as a caravel mirror might. Some famous actresses, who are considered some of the most beautiful people in the world, have said in interviews that they considered themselves to be ugly, or at least not very attractive, when they were young. They didn’t like what they saw in the mirror, even if the rest of the world disagreed. People suffering from bulimia have a distorted view of themselves as being fat, when in fact most are rail thin.

Can you imagine how we all might look if the mirror reflected what is in our minds and hearts? Would that be an ugly image, filled with fears, anxieties, distrust, hate, bigotry and other things that we try not to let the world see? Perhaps, it would be the image of a loving, caring, intelligent and inquisitive person who is too timid to act upon or show those feelings. In all likelihood, it might look a bit like the cartoon characterizations of people with a devil on one shoulder and an angel; on the other. There seems to be a little of both in most people, with most able to keep the devil at bay, in public at least. That is sometimes called “being politically correct”.

So, what do you see in your mirror? Look deeper than just the reflection that you see. Can you see the flaws that lurk back there in the darker parts of your mind – the unfounded fears and prejudices, the feelings of superiority or entitlement, the lack of self-love and self-confidence, the uncertainly about death and your unanswered questions about your own mortality? For many, the reflections brought on by prayer provide a mirror for their lives. They look beyond the superficial image that than one can see in a real mirror and see the reassuring hand of God in their life and in the world, the goodness in the people that they’ve encountered, and the wonders of the world that He has created all around them. They are able to visualize, in that mirror of prayer, the rewards that await them in heaven? What do you see in your mirror when you stop to pray?

As you get ready to leave for your day today, stop and look in both of your mirrors.  The one on the wall that will let you see the physical image that the world will be seeing and allow you to adjust your hair and clothes and the one in prayer that will let you adjust what you really want the world to see – the hand of God in your life. You’ll look better throughout the day because you checked both mirrors.

What do you see in your mirror? Which one are you looking at?


What are you listening to? Time to change the tune!

February 2, 2014

I ran across this little saying in a blurb about a new book recently – The Voice You Listen to Will Determine the Future You Experience.  The saying was in the advertising for the new book by Stephan Furtick titled Crash the Chatterbox. In Crash the Chatterbox, best-selling author Pastor Steven Furtick focuses on four key areas in which negative thoughts are most debilitating: insecurity, fear, condemnation, and discouragement. He asks, “What great deeds are in danger of remaining undone in your life because of lies that were planted in your past or fears that are looming in your future?”

fearI have written in the part about FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt – which is common in the business world and is often used as a delaying tactic by larger companies to keep customers from buying from smaller, more nimble companies with new products. Just throw out a little FUD about the new product or the small company and you will freeze a certain portion of the market.

I’ve also written about the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda’s – those after the fact regrets that we all get from time to time about things left undone; especially things that turn out to have been really fun for those not so timid that they didn’t even try.

Whenever I write one of these pieces, I get feedback from new readers saying they liked what I wrote and inviting me to see what they’re up to. For the most part these are from people now well on their way to dispairrecovering from some dark period in their lives; something that drove them in places in their minds from which they may still be struggling to escape.

The good news is that most of them have made it out of their person hells, or have at least begun the journey back, and they are usually now espousing a more positive, upbeat outlook on life. Most, but not all. There are still way too many people out there, many of them spewing out words of hate or darkness and despair on their blogs. I refuse to go there with them.

Whatever the situation that has occurred to drag those people into the hole that they are in needs to be confronted as the first step to recovery. No matter what it is – it is; and once you accept that, you can ask yourself the next question – “Now, what I’m I going to do from here?”

I wrote recently about the four candles story; about the candles of peace and faith and love being extinguished, and how having the candle of hope still lit enables the other three to be relit. Sometimes preceding any effort to use Hope to relight the other candles in your life it is necessary to just stop – stop the wallowing in pity and self-blame; pause the fear, uncertainty and doubt; put aside the insecurity, fear, condemnation and discouragement for the moment – and accept the fact that you are where you are and that there is nothing that you can do to change that.

The next step, at least for me, is to admit that you cannot solve everything by yourself. Just admitting that will take a large load off your shoulders. For many, having gotten into this mental state is a paralyzing experience – nothing gets done because everything is feared. Others may try and try different ways out, edge of the abyssonly to find that each door just leads them deeper into the maze of despair.

Sometimes it is right at the edge of the abyss that many finally figure out that help has been with them all along. They stop. Some get down on their knees, some just look up; but all eventually say, “Not my will but thy will be done.” They offload their troubles to the only power strong enough to bear any burden. In that moment they experience liberation from the troubles and darkness that have surrounded them. They have chosen to listen to the voice of Hope and they have used the last flicker of the candle of hope to relight the candle of faith. They will see the candles of love and peace also be quickly reignited in their lives as well when they stop doing the things that have been pushing others away.

So listen to the voice of hope. That will also let you hear the voices of faith, love and peace in your life. If you can do that, the calliope of negative noise that tries to overwhelm you from time to time will be shut outlistening toi music of your life. Think of it as if you are wearing a set of noise canceling earphones and the only thing you can hear is a playlist made up of the pleasant sounds and tunes of hope, faith, love and peace. People will wonder why you are walking around with a smile on your face all the time. Maybe you’ll even have time to read the book by Pastor Furtick – Crash the Chaterbox.


Be the Daffodil…

December 12, 2013

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”  (Albert Camus) from  http://www.jackswinningwords.blogspot.com/ .

The allusion to winter and summer is often used in literature when the authors are writing about good and bad times in life. We all have our “winter” times in life. It might be a time when a loved one has died or perhaps it is a time when one has lost a job and can’t see another on the horizon. Sometimes we create our own winter by letting our imagination run away with us, turning a minor issue into a huge problem. In some cases there appears to be medical reasons why some people’s brains take them off into winter. Those cases can often be help by proper medications.

For those non-medical reasons that cause us to slip into a wintry mood, we need to pause and try to find that invincible summer that is there within us all. We may have to make an extraordinary effort, but it is there.  The invincible summer is that spark of hope and faith and optimism that, if allowed to grow and flame-up within us, can get us through anything. In some cases it will be based upon faith. In some hope will provide the spark and in either case optimism will fan the spark into a flame that will drive away the darkness and cold of your winter.

Daffodil Blooming Through The Snow Stock Photo By -Marcus-

Daffodil Blooming Through The Snow Stock Photo
By -Marcus-

The images conjured up by winter are cold and darkness and perhaps loneliness. Summers bring thoughts of warmth and sunlight and good times with friends and family. I recall every Spring, when winter is giving way to summer, photos that I have seen and used in advertising over the years of a hardy little Daffodil peeking out from a snow drift, bringing its bright yellow message of hope for summer, even in the midst of winters last snowy gasp. That invincible little Daffodil is the harbinger of the summer ahead.

Perhaps you can find a Daffodil in the midst of your winter; or, better yet, be the Daffodil that brightens up someone’s wintry day and gets them started back towards summer. Taking the time to reach out to someone that you see needs help finding summer in their life can also brighten your life and help you through your own wintry periods.

So, peak out from beneath the snow of winter and let your invincible summer shine through. Be the Daffodil and bring summer on.