Don’t mess with your selfie…

April 3, 2020

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words,  pastor Jack freed used this quote – “The easiest thing in the world to be is you.  The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be.  Don’t let them put you into that position.”  (Leo Buscaglia)

So, why is so hard for some  to just be yourself? I suspect that it is because we don’t necessarily like what we see when we look at ourselves. We take a mental “selfie” and immediately break out our copy of a virtual Photoshop to try to alter the picture.

For some it is their physical appearance with which they are uncomfortable. That may lead to all sorts of different and sometimes unusual steps to change that appearance. It may involve dying one’s hair bright orange or perhaps just wearing unusual clothes. Maybe it means getting a noose ring or a tattoo. It may even lead to plastic surgery to correct a perceived imperfection.

For others the desire to “fit in” may force dramatic changes in their behavior or lifestyle. If putting on the “uniform” of the group to which one wishes to belong isn’t enough, they change things like their vocabulary and speech patterns or maybe adopt a different lifestyle.

The rationale for making any of these changes is based upon trying to make yourself into something that you are not, to be something that you think other people want you to be. That rationale starts with your own dissatisfaction with what you see when you take that mental selfie. If you cannot love yourself and what you see in that selfie, it is natural to try to find others to emulate, in the mistaken belief that you will be happier being them than you are being you.

Life seldom works out that way. It is not until much later in life that most discover and appreciate the words of Meryl Streep – “What makes you different or weird, that’s your strength.” 

Maybe what you see in your mental selfie looks weird to you, or at least different. Start by embracing that and saying it is OK – it is your strength. In fact, maybe you should find ways to enhance and bring out those differences that make you unique. After all, they are your strength. Instead of being just another clone dressed in the cookie-cutter “uniform” of the crowd, you will stand out as someone with the confidence and strength of character to go their own way in fashion as in life. You might be surprised how attractive that can be.

How do you start to go your own way? Well, it starts with loving yourself and who you are. I’ve posted here about accepting and loving yourself first several times. Rather than spending your time seeking the approval of others, seek first approval of yourself. You must come to the conclusion that I am who I am, I like who I am and I’m not going to change who I am to suit others. The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more comfortable you will be around others. In that comfort within your own skin you will find courage and confidence that will radiate from you and make you the type of person that others enjoy being around.

For some, loving yourself may start with accepting the fact that God loves you just the way yo are. God does not ask or expect you to change. He just loves you and accepts for who you are. After all, He made you what you are and how can you not love that. So, if you can accept the love of God, you should be able to love yourself and then you can go on to love others and be loved by others.

So, it is alright to look in the mirror in the morning and take that mental selfie. The goal should not be to makes changes to be like someone else; but, rather, to be the best you that you can be that day. Embrace the things that make you different. They are your strength. They empower you. Loving yourself will allow others to love you, too.

Today, start by taking that mental selfie and saying – “Hello world. Get a load of this. It’s me. Don’t you just love it? I do.”  The world will be a happier place because you let the real you shine through.


Thinking about love…

January 16, 2020

Today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog is one of those short little ditties that gets you thinking about all of the other things that you have seen about it or could say about it. The quote was  –

“The duty of love is to listen.”  (Paul Tillich)

Almost immediately, the famous movie line “Love is never having to say you’re sorry” popped into my mind. Then came a flood of thoughts that might be quotes of their own from someone..

The opportunity of love is to share.

The reward of love is reciprocation.

If the duty of love is to listen; then the requirement of love is to act.

The opposite of love is not hate; it is apathy.

Once you start thinking about love, you eventually come around to Jesus final commandment that we “Love one another as I have loved you”.

He went on to say in the next verse of John 15 – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

What do you think about when you read today’s quote? Hopefully those thoughts lead you down a happy path.

If you start down the path that Jesus laid out in John 15 it will lead you to a warm, secure and confident place where you know that you are loved.

Think about it.


Light up the world…share the love.

January 9, 2020

I need to share Jack’s entire post from today’s entry in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words –

“Love multiplies and adds as we divide it with others.”  (Arthur C. Nielsen –adapted)  A leader was trying to illustrate the truth of this quotation to a group of young people.  Each person was given an unlit candle.  The leader then lit a candle and passed the flame to a candle that was unlit and that one passed it to the next…and so on.  Then she commented: “Look at all of these candles…from a single flame which is not diminished.  “Love multiplies” as we share it!

It seems to me that the two key words in that whole post are the words “love” and “share”. Jesus came to earth as God’s way of expressing his love for his people and recast their perception of Him from a God to be feared into a God to be loved and embraced through His Son. Jesus preached a message of love for one another and in deed left that as his final commandment in John 13:34 – “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.”

God, as interpreted by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day was a God to be feared. Those same leaders created and imposed rigid instructions for keeping God happy by following the rituals that they designed. Jesus threw out those rules and substituted love for the fear that was the foundation of the beliefs at the time.

Jesus may be thought of as that first candle in the story that Jack related in his post. The light of that first candle was the love that Jesus shared even unto His death on the cross. That light has been passed from person to person and from generation to generation ever since. That original love is undiminished, just as the light from the original candle was undiminished as it was shared.

Our mission, it would seem, is not to sit there with an unlit candle or a candle whose light we keep to ourselves; but, rather, to share the light and the flame of our candle with others. Sharing the good news of Christ is not about preaching at people, it is about sharing the love that we inherited when we accepted Christ and lit our candle.

You need not get up on a soapbox to share that love. If you just reach out to others who may be in need, you are sharing the love. If you greet others with a cheerful voice and a sincere interest in them, you are sharing the love. If you live your life as an example of the love that Christ has for you, you will naturally share and spread the light of your candle.

As you start out each day, take a moment to turn up the wick of your candle through prayer, then go out, and light up the world by sharing your love. The world will be a brighter place because of your light. Share the Love.


Seeing love in your mind’s eye…

October 9, 2019

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack told a wonderful little story that used this quote as it’s headline – “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.”  (Shakespeare) Go read Jack’s post.

There is a little phrase that people often use – “in my mind’s eye”. They use it to describe the ability to “see” things in our minds. Athletes use this ability to visualize a shot or a play ahead of it actually happening. Most of us use it to give form to our imaginations and conjure up images of the good or bad things to come. It is interesting that vision is the primary sense that we imagine in our minds and not touch or smell or sounds (although most dreams, which also take place in the mind, involve sounds as well as things that we see).

So, how does one see love in the minds eye? I would submit that is less visual than it sounds and involves the “mental” sensations of various of our senses all at the same time. One does not so much “see” love and they sense it, they experience it. You can watch love (or experience it yourself) as a child (or adult) plays with a new puppy. There is unconditional love coming from the puppy and the new owner is returning that love. You also see it many times with young couples interacting when they think no one is watching (or they don’t care if anyone is watching).

Trying to put the experience of love into words gets complicated. It is a feeling of warmth and safety and surrender and reciprocation and comfort and appreciation that washes over you all at the same time. There are alliterative phrases that have been used by authors, poets and song writers trying to describe this feeling, like “melting into his arms” or “a warm embrace” or “swimming in the pools of her eyes”. Whatever words one chooses to use to describe the feeling of love usually end up describing a very satisfying experience or state of mind.

How do you “see” love in your mind’s eye? What words come to your mind when you think of someone (or something) that you love? Doesn’t that make you feel better?

Imagine how great you would feel is you could love everyone that you meet. That is what Jesus asked us to do in Luke, Mark and Matthew when he stated the Second Great Commandment – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” What a great place to live this world would be if instead of meeting people with judgement or fear or prejudice or hate, we met them with love in our minds. The next time you meet a stranger, trying seeing them with love in your mind’s eye.

Have a great and loving day. I’ll be seeing you.


It’s all about the journey together…

June 18, 2019

A post some time ago on the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this little gem – “Lovepraying-together does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”  (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

That got me to thinking that it also isn’t just about looking in the same direction but moving in that direction – taking life’s journey together. You often hear from divorcing couples that they are going in different directions and that may be a very apt description of what has happened in their lives. The common direction that they thought that they had, based upon physical attraction and the heat of passion, turned out not to be the way they wanted to go, once the passion cooled and time started to take its toll physically. It’s all about the journey together.

soulmate1True love is not about the heat of the moment but about the journey through life. It is about being able to reach to your side when you are uncertain or afraid and grasp the hand of the one person that you know will be there for you and with you. It is about sharing moments, both proud and disappointed, and events both good and bad It is about supporting and being supported. . It’s about being able to look back and smile at what you’ve been through together and look ahead in anticipation of all the wonderful things yet to come.  It’s all about the journey together.

One hears often from long time partners the phrase, “I couldn’t have done it without him/her.” Unsaid is the thought that I wouldn’t have wanted to do it without that partner. God knew that Adam needed a partner in life and created Eve. Ever since then, men have sought their partners for life’s journey. When it is real and lasting, we call that bond love. It’s all about the journey together.

Have you found your life partner for the journey through life? I’ve been with mine for 53

ID-1009082

“Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

years now and we’re still looking forward together. Enjoy your journey through life with someone that you love. It’s all about the journey together.


Always carry a spare smile…

June 12, 2019

In today’s post to his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – Jack Freed shared this thought from Dolly Parton – “If you see someone without a smile, give ‘em yours.” Jack went on to Dolly PArtonwrite that recent studies have shown that people are less happy today than they were in the 1990’s. Although he didn’t mention why that is true, he did echo Dolly’s advice about taking the time to listen to those that you encounter during the day and sharing a smile where needed.

As a society, we have become a bit more introverted and insular. I blame the rise of the smartphone for at least some of that. We have allowed ourselves to be captivated andcouple-looking-at-phones captured by a device that steals time away from everything else, including our interactions with other human beings. Me may not even notice the frown or sadness on the face of those that we encounter because we are too busy looking at our phones. We certainly don’t take the time to ask what is wrong, and since we can’t Google that, we just move on to the next attention grabber that shows up on our screen.

So, perhaps the first step to all of us getting better and having smiles would be to put this-is-medown those smartphones and take a good look at what is going on around us. Step two might be to make sure that we put a smile on our own face. I’ve posted here a few times about loving yourself before you can share love with others (see the post Start your day with love and the rest will take care of itself). So take a moment, before you set out on your day, to find that love of self and who you are that will put a smile on your face. Many times that may involve taking time for a short prayer of thanks to God for another day. Acknowledging and accepting the love of God each day allows you to also love yourself and then to be ready to share that love with others.

Back to the thought of the day about sharing a smile. In order to share your smile you need to do a little more than just smile at someone, although that helps, too. Perhaps your smile is the icebreaker that allows you to ask, “How are you doing?” or even “Is there something troubling you that I might be able to help with?” That might be being kind 1awkward with a total stranger, but many of the people that you encounter won’t be total strangers. Finding a way to initiate a conversation will allow you to find out what may be troubling them. Even if you can’t really do anything to help in the situation; just giving them an outlet to talk about whatever it is that is troubling them will help. You can be empathetic and supportive, even if you can’t solve the problem. Sometimes they may just need a shoulder to cry on or a good hug of reassurance.

So, always carry a spare smile and be ready to share it with others who might need it today. You have more and they need the one on your face more than you do, right now. smiling-sunPut away your smartphone and look around you for those who might need to borrow your smile. When you find them and give them your smile, you’ll find that God immediately puts another smile on your face so you can continue His work in the world.

Share a smile today!


Start your day with love and the rest will take care of itself.

February 18, 2019

Think about how much better your days will go if you take the time each morning to refresh your feeling of God’s love for you and your love for yourself. Start by remembering that God loves you unconditionally and is always with you. Then take the time to reinforce your love for yourself, who you are, what you are where you are and where you are going. You must first love yourself, before you can love others.

One of the better self-help books ever written is the 1967 book I’m OK You’re OK by Thomas Harris. Harris wrote the book as a practical guide to transactional analysis as a method for solving problems in life – how to get along with others. The key to the advice in Harris’ Book may be found in the first two words of title – I’m OK. That part is saying, “I love myself”. Only then can you move on to the “You’re OK” part. The book, and the courses that are taught from it, teach how to accept and interact with others in or day-to-day world, by recognizing and accepting where you and they are coming from in any interaction.

So, it is important, before you go out in the world and start encountering others and situations that you must deal with, that you establish in your own mind that you are OK; that you love yourself for who you are and are therefore able to love others for who they are. It is much easier to love yourself, if you are not carrying around a big load of guilt – guilt that you feel for something that you did or left undone. That is why acknowledging all of your sins, transgressions, omissions or whatever and asking for God’s forgiveness will give you the foundation upon which you can then build your love of self and face the new day with confidence and a positive attitude.

There is, in that moment of prayer, a point at which you feel the load of your sins being lifted from you and you feel the sense of self-loathing being replaced by self-loving.  That is your “I’m OK” moment. Keep that feeling with you throughout the day and the rest of the day will be OK, too. It all starts with love – love of God and God’s love back to you.

Try it. You will be OK.


Love today and be loved…

February 14, 2019

From today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this –

“There is only one happiness in life: to love and to be loved.”  (George Sand)

Jack went on to reveal that George Sand was actually a 19th century female poet who was a romantic rebel (she also smoked cigars and wore trousers).  She and Frédéric Chopin were once “an item.” 

“George” probably didn’t write those words for a Valentine’s Day card; although they have become quite popular as a Valentine’s Day quote. Valentine’s Day, like so many other holidays started out as a religious celebration of St. Valentine and had devolved into a commercialized, secular day. Of course, certain merchants love that and it does provide a small boost to the economy, sort of like St. Patrick‘s Day, which is coming up in mid-March. I guess we need things like that to break up the winter doldrums.

happy dogBack to today’s saying. Giving and receiving love applies not only to human relationships, but to those between humans and their pets. That’s why the unconditional love that a dog can show its owner is so powerful and satisfying. Maybe not so much (or at least not quite as unconditional) for cats.

For those in a loving relationship with a partner, the sense of happiness comes also with a sense of comfort and safety and commitment. One finds contentment in the arms of a loved one and a sense that the world around you melts away into the background. There is an overwhelming sense of relief and satisfaction in finding that special person withpraying-together whom you are able to open your soul and allow yourself to become vulnerable – to share unconditional love. Perhaps that is why relationships that sour are so painful, that sense of betrayal of the thrust that you placed in that person.

For those still searching for that one true love of your life, keep the faith. Love is out there somewhere for you. You must be willing to take a few chances, suffer a few bruises and put yourself out there a few times in order to find your soulmate. In our youth, we often mistake passion for love, only to be disappointed once the passion cools. As we grew a bit older and a lot wiser, we begin to understand how to see the true beauty in people and how to identify true love.

valewntines day themeSo, live, laugh and love this Valentine’s Day. Exchange cards and candy and chocolate covered strawberries. Embrace that special person in your life and be happy that he/she is yours and you are theirs. Love and be loved. Feel the happiness that a shared unconditional love can bring.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Love is like the Bird of Paradise…

March 15, 2018

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote – “The Bird of Paradise alights upon the hand that does not grasp.”  (John Berry)

Jack went on to explain that the Bird of Paradise is an actual bird, a very beautiful bird,Bird of PAradise in Indonesia and thought by many to be the first bird that God created in the Garden of Eden. To see such a bird is rare and to actually have one alight upon your hand even more rare.

It occurred to me that the quote could also apply to love. Just as the Bird of Paradise goes not wish to be grasped and possessed; love is something meant to be shared not grasp and held onto like a possession. I have heard of more than one relationship failing because one of the parties became “too possessive”, too “graspy”.

It is a fault of our human nature that we want to possess things and sometimes even to Controllingpossess people. We want them to be “ours” and ours alone. What we don’t understand is that love is a feeling that must be shared and not possessed. Saying I love you to someone does not carry with it “I own you”; but, sometimes people imply that into the relationship. Those relationships are doomed to fail. Love is something that is at the same time shared and earned in return.

One earns love in relationship through kindness, gentleness, consideration, attentiveness, loyalty and many other things that are all oriented towards giving in the relationship. Freedom is one of those things. You cannot earn the love of another by holding them captive as if they were a possession. Most often the possessor’s own insecurities and fears drive possessive behavior. Rather than show love towards the partner to earn their love in return; these insecure partners try to grasp them instead and hold them hostage.  We use terms like manipulative, domineering or controlling for men and clingy, manipulative and high-maintenance for the women in these possessive relationships. No matter what we call it, they are grasping for love.

Often these possessive relationships remain intact long enough to evolve into domesticgirl crying violence situations. It is often the case that domestic violence is driven as much by the need to control the other person as from any other reason. Once all other techniques of control fail, the possessive person is left with physical violence or threats as a mechanism of control. Domestic violence becomes the final spiral towards oblivion of a long failed relationship.

So, what is the take away from all of this? It is that love, like the Bird of Paradise, lights on the open hand of trust in a relationship. You love someone and hope that they love you back. There are things that you can do to earn that love in return andholdiing love in hand there are things that you could do that would cause love (and the Bird of Paradise) to fly away by being too possessive. Love cannot be grasped it can only be shared and it must be shared freely and without constraints. Just as the Bird of Paradise is beautiful to behold, love is a beautiful things to see and feel and even touch, but it cannot be grasped and possessed.

Share a loving day with your partner with an open hand and an open heart.


Make somebody’s day…appreciate them…

December 4, 2017

From a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time back comes this little gem –

“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.”  (Sent by Paul McCullough)

I suspect that there are many things that McCullough could have put after the words “will always…” in his quote. Things like “feel better” come instantly to mind. There are also other words that come to mind to replace the word appreciated that also ring true…words like respected or even loved.

One of the things that the Special Olympics does at their version of the Olympics is to make sure that every Special Olympian  who participates gets a medal. They don’t focus upon only rewarding the “winners” in each event; but, rather recognize all of those who made the effort… they appreciate the effort and all of the athletes who compete are the better for it and feel better about themselves.

hugging-bearsIn our daily lives there are probably lots of people who do things for us that normally go unnoticed and unappreciated. There’s the bus driver who helps get us to work or maybe the guard at the guard shack who there to help insure our safety. Maybe it’s the day-care worker who takes care of our children while we work or the lunch room worker or the waitress who is there to server our noon-time meal. It may be the paper delivery person who has to get up at 4 AM in the morning each day to go get the papers and deliver their routes. Perhaps it one of the many retail people that we may encounter during the day.

These are all people who in some small way make your day better and you have the opportunity to make their day better by appreciating what they do for you. Many of great-jobthese people blend into the background and become just a part of the environment to us. We only recognize them when something doesn’t go as we wish and we complain about it and them. We may call their managers in anger over some perceived slight in the service; but, how many call just to tell that manager what great service they gave us?

We have the power to change that. A simple thank you may put a smile of their faces. Sure, we may leave a tip on the table for the waitress; but, how often do we take the time to thank them for their service and tell them that we appreciate that they are there?  I have a friend who is a life coach who never misses the opportunity to tell others how much he appreciates what they do for others in their volunteer work in the community or for their ideas and contributions in meetings. It’s a small thing, but one that he takes the time to do whenever he can. I’m sure that it makes those whom he compliments feel better for having their efforts and contributions  be recognized.

old cooupleSometimes this tendency to ignore and not appreciate them extends to our life partners, especially to the career-oriented men in the relationship. Call it complacency or just laziness, we sometimes become so self-centered that take for granted all that a spouse does for us to make our life better. The cooking and cleaning and housekeeping and laundry and child care all seem to fade into the background and become unappreciated expectations, rather than something that could be and should be acknowledged and appreciated. It takes only a moment of your time to give your partner a hug and tell them how much you appreciate the meal that they just served, even though you may have no real appreciation of how much time and effort went into the making that meal.

So, start out this week with appreciation of others in mind and be alert to those that you handshakeencounter to whom you can show appreciation. It should start at home, but there are countless other opportunities throughout the day to show appreciation to others and make their day better because of it. You may be thinking, “what difference can it make?”; however remember that the great majority of people just don’t make the effort. You can be the one bright moment in that person’s life today and that’s a great opportunity that will make you feel better, too.

Let me start by saying that I appreciate that you took the time to read this post and I hope it helps make your day better for having read it. Thank you, I appreciate you. Now, go out and find someone else to appreciate.