Hope supplies the light…

January 5, 2022

I’ve has these two quotes in my saved file for a while and they just seem to go together –

“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” (Stanley Kubrick)

“Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent”.  (Mignon McLaughlin)

Kubrick’s quote points out that we must find our own way our of the darkness of sorrow or anger or despair – the things that plunge us into darkness.

I wrote a few years back about four candles – Peace, Love, Faith and Hope – and how one by one they were extinguished until only the candle of Hope remained burning (see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/01/27/where-there-is-hope-there-can-never-be-complete-darkness-2/).

Our lives can seem like the candles sometimes, especially when jarring events snuff out the candle of Peace or the unexpected loss of a loved one causes the candle of Love to flicker out. Sometimes it is all too easy to allow events to overcome us and so we lose sight of the candle of our Faith. In those times all we have is the candle of Hope to show us the way our of the darkness.

If we can get to the point that McLaughlin mentioned, where we realize that the darkness we are in is not permanent by holding out hope for a better tomorrow, we can start to reignite the other candles in our lives.

Recent events in the U.S. and around the world have provided vivid images of people who have lost everything or endured unimaginable hardships and yet still cling to hope. Out of that hope many have expressed their faith that things will get better, and that life will go on. Most often they express gratitude that they still have their loved ones and state that they will rebuild their lives and their homes. They know that the feelings of loss and despair that they may have at that moment will not last.

You do not have to suffer a disaster to be plunged into a dark place. For some, mental illness takes them to those places often. No matter how you got there, the candle of Hope is the way out. Keep Hope burning in your life and let its light show you the way out of the darkness. Peer into the darkness with the light of Hope and you will see God standing there with the candle of Faith ready to be reignited.

Faith is most often the first candle to be relit by Hope. Hope illuminates God as our guide out of our funk and allows us to ask God for His help.

Once you have the candle of Faith burning in your life again it becomes possible to relight the candle of Love and to once again allow the candle of Peace to guide your way through life.

Hold on to Hope…it supplies the light in the darkness.


Achieving peace in your time…

December 8, 2021

“Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control.” (Jack Kornfield) Jack Kornfield is an author, Buddhist practitioner, Spirit Rock Meditation Center founding teacher, and one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West.

I love Kornfield’s quote because it so simply and straightforwardly expresses the truth. The belief that we can control things that happen in life is a futile illusion that we allow to drive us to frustration and, in some cases, to despair. It is only through letting go of that illusion of control and focusing instead on how we react to, or recover from, the things that happen to and around us that we can truly be at peace.

Some people don’t like the use of the word surrender. They equate it to giving up, to quitting, to being a loser. There is an old comedy routine where a man goes to his doctor and, twisting his arm back and forth, says,” Doc it hurts when I do this, what can I do?” The Doctor looks at him and says, “Stop doing that.”

Well, if your attempts to control things in life have continually failed, stop doing that. It was all an illusion anyway. If instead you surrender to God’s will by saying the little prayer, “Not my will but thy will be done”, you are only surrendering the illusion that you were in control. You will find an immediate sense of relief and calm if you surrender your life to God’s will and God’s peace will descend upon you.

But, you may say, “I feel like I’m giving up and failing somehow.” Well, you are giving up a futile effort, but you should feel good about that. Plus, it is not really a failure if you did not achieve something that was not possible to begin with; however, you may need to forgive yourself for taking so long to come to the right conclusion to put your trust in God.

Surrender the illusion. Let God be in control. Achieve peace in your time.


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.


Be at peace

October 9, 2021

I got the opportunity last weekend to deliver the Sunday sermon at my church in the absence of our Pastor. We say the Lord’s Prayer every week in preparation for Communion and a part of that prayer is are the lines “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive the trespasses of others”. I opined in that sermon that one of the “others” that we need to forgive is ourselves. The inability to forgive others or ourselves is a one-way ticket to unhappiness and maybe even to depression.

Men seem to have two innate tendencies that are their undoing – the need to understand everything and the need to control everything. Unfortunately, the need to understand things is thwarted by our limited imaginations and the need to try to control everything was never more than a pipedream. We can’t even control ourselves, much less anything else.

So, what we are left with is frustration and consternation. We are not at peace because we cannot stop fighting a battle that we cannot win against an enemy that we cannot even see, much less explain. I saw a quote recently that I will paraphrase – If you are having regrets you are living in the past. If you have anxieties you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot change the past or control the future. The only thing that you have any real power over is how you act and react in the present. You can be in turmoil, or you can be at peace. The choice should be a no-brainer, but it is very difficult for many.

I recently received a notification from WordPress.com where my blog is hosted that I had achieved one of their milestones – they informed me that I had posted my one thousandth blog post. As I looked back over the years of posts (I started posting to this blog in 2012) I noticed that I had posted many times about being at peace and how I have used the same little prayer for years to get to that peace – praying to God, “Not my will but thy will be done.”

The conclusion that I have come to is to forgive myself for any past failures, disappointments or sins (as God has forgiven me already) and put my trust in Him for my future. That leaves me peacefully happy in the present and I’m good with that. Try it, you might like it, too.

Be at peace!


Glue your life back together…

August 20, 2021

In his blog (Jack’s Winning Words) this morning, Pastor Freed used this quote – “God is the ‘Goodness Glue,’ the love that holds the dark and light of things together.” (Fr.  Richard Rohr)

We sometimes hear the term “shattered life” or maybe that someone was “broken up” by events in their life. The fact is that we all experience things that overwhelm us and seem to shatter the world that we live in and us with it. It is in those times that we really need the “Goodness Glue” to put things back together.

Pastor Freed wrote about Gorilla Glue being touted as the most powerful glue on the planet earth. It is relatively easy to use; just unscrew the cap and put some on the pieces that need to be reconnected. Fortunately, God’s Goodness Glue is also easy to use. Just start to pray and let God use his love to put your life back together.

The things that tend to disrupt and shatter our lives tend to be losses and fear. We may lose a loved one or suffer a breakup in a relationship. Maybe we lose a job or a home. Then the fear sets in. Fear for the future. The “what will I do now”, kind of fear. Some of that fear is caused by the feeling of being alone in the circumstances in which one finds themselves. However, we are never alone. God is always there with us, and we have but to call upon him to begin experiencing his Goodness Glue. Uncap God’s Goodness Glue with the simple prayer, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

With worldly glue, like Gorilla Glue, you can feel the stickiness of the glue on your fingers (don’t feel it too long or you’ll end up in the ER with fingers stuck together). With God’s Goodness glue, what you feel is the sense of calm (God’s peace) that comes over you once you accept his help in your life. Somewhere in the back of your mind you can hear God whisper, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”

So, when life deals you a shattering moment, just get out the Goodness Glue from God and glue your life back together. Let the peace that comes with God’s Goodness Glue settle over you. Gorilla Glue advertises that it is for the toughest jobs on planet Earth, but when you need something tougher for problems that seem Earth shattering, call on God and his Goodness Glue.

Let God’s Goodness Glue put your life back together.


Don’t go there…

June 5, 2021

A quote I recently saw while searching for something else caught my attention, so I saved it as a possible future blog post topic.

“Conflict cannot exist without your participation.” – Wayne W. Dyer

There are many things in life that one can “get caught up in”, but conflicts are not one of them. One cannot claim to be an innocent bystander if one enters into a conflict with someone else. Judge Judy likes to use the word kerfuffle to describe a conflict that escalates beyond a difference of opinion and into actions from one or both sides. Life is full of mental conflicts, only a few of which turn into kerfuffle’s. Don’t go there.

Road rage incidents have been in the news lately when they have escalated into kerfuffle’s that involved guns. Usually yelling and a few choice gestures suffice in road rage incidents, but occasionally they go well beyond that and sometimes result in crashes or worse. Don’t go there.

Conflicts in marriages are inevitable, but usually are resolved without rage or kerfuffle. When things go beyond just disagreeing, it can result in the marriage turning into cases of domestic violence. It is a sure sign of immaturity and lack of self-control when one of the partners resorted to physical violence to deal with conflicts. I heard a shocking statistic on the news recently that more people (mostly the women) died last year due to domestic violence involving guns than died from all diseases combined, including COVID-19. Don’t go there.

Since it takes two to tango (or tangle as we are discussing here), it is easy to understand how you can avoid conflicts and kerfuffle’s – just don’t go there.  That is relatively easy to say; but for most of us, much harder to control. Much of our response to things that happen around or to us is a knee-jerk reaction. The initial reaction may be one of surprise or fear and we draw back; however, anger may quickly replace fear and then we lash out. One may have only a split-second between the initial surprise reaction and the action response of striking back. Don’t go there.

How does one prepare for the unexpected or unwanted, such that we do not allow ourselves to participate in conflicts and kerfuffle’s? I submit that it has to do with being in the right frame of mind and being at peace with yourself and the world around you. If your mindset is to forgive the person who cuts you off in traffic, rather than flip them the bird or try to speed up and get past them again, you will avoid conflict.  If you show pity for the person who is so enraged that they push their way past you at the door, rather than push them back, you will avoid conflict. If you refuse to ”rise to the bait” of an insult or a slight from someone that is obviously aimed at provoking a reaction, you will avoid conflict. Don’t go there.

But why should you be the one to give in and turn the other cheek? There is an obvious answer in the Bible about turning the other cheek; however, there are also these passages –

AND

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”  (Colossians 3:12-14 )

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”  (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

Perhaps then, the way to get into the right frame of mind and avoid conflict and kerfuffle’s is to start each day with a prayer that asks God to stay with you during the day and to intercede in that spit second between action and reaction to keep you at peace. If you take that split-second to ask God for His advice before reacting to that incident, He will say – Don’t go there.

Have a peaceful and conflict free weekend!


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.


Make the best of what life gives you…

February 28, 2021

I was searching for inspiration this morning when I ran across this John Wooden quote – “Things Work Out Best For Those Who Make The Best Of How Things Work Out.”

I love how the words flow in that quote and the underlying psychological advice. None of us can really control the things that happen to us in life, but we can control how we react to those things. Accepting that reality is the first step to making the best of what happens to us in life.

Instead of sinking into despair at life’s setbacks, no matter how bad, one must continue to search for the best path forward from where one find’s oneself. It is the ability to accept setbacks in life as a learning experiences and to adjust your approach to resolving the problem at hand that, so that you can make progress, that separates the winners in life from those admit defeat and never achieve their goals.

Making the best of how things work out doesn’t mean accepting where you have temporarily ended up as your ”station in life”.  That is a defeatist attitude.

A setback may have involved taking the wrong path entirely towards that goal or it could have just been a poor execution of the correct approach to a solution. It is important to stop and consider that and make your adjustments based on what you can now see when wrong.  The worst thing that you can do is to continue to do the same wrong thing over and over and expect a different outcome.

Too often we focus too much attention on what happened yesterday. It is like trying to drive your car in a race by looking only in the rear view mirror. You will see the disasters that have already happened but no the one looming just ahead.

It makes little sense to pray that nothing bad ever happens to you; rather it makes good sense to pray for the patience, wisdom and perseverance to deal with whatever happens and to make good decisions.

So, perhaps you can include in your prayers the request that God help you accept what has already happened and better prepare you for what is ahead. There is a term for that in the bible  – be at peace. May you be at peace with what has already happened, so that you may be better prepared for what lies ahead.

Make the best of it. Things will work out.


It is how you make the journey, not how far you get…

September 14, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this Native American blessing –  “May every sunrise bring you hope.  May every sunset bring you peace.”

Freed went on to comment upon how the Native American view of the Great Spirit in nature that was all around them in nature influenced their lives. He lamented the lack of such recognition of God in our lives in modern times.

Perhaps the bridge between the hopes that we have at the beginning of a day and the peace one seeks at the end of each day rests on how one conducts oneself during the day. Maybe a little prayer at the beginning would help – “Dear God, please be with me today as I pursue my hopes and help me conduct myself in such a way that I will be without regrets and find peace at the end of this day”.

Things that you’ve done or those things that you left undone drive regrets. Both of those are conscious choices and not just happenstance. So, at each decision point during the day, stop and ask yourself, “Will I regret doing (or not doing) this at the end of the day?” Often just taking that little pause to think will help you make better decisions and be at peace with yourself at the end of the day.

Each day is a journey. Each has its own hopes and goals. Some days you may find that you quickly achieve your hopes and goals. On other days frustrating obstacles may pop up that prevent achieving anything towards your goals and hopes. Sometimes achieving peace at the end of one of those frustrating days is very hard. That is when you must be able to let the frustrations go, put them behind yourself and renew your hopes for a better day tomorrow. Just remind yourself that it is not how far you get each day, but rather how you conducted yourself that day.

Here is another bit of Native American wisdom that I recently saw –

“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” – Cherokee

Be at peace at the end of every day.


Advice from Ben Franklin…

February 18, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote that is attributed to Benjamin Franklin – “Those who in quarrels interpose, must often wipe a bloody nose.” 

Franklin was probably referring to those who stick their nose in where it doesn’t belong, or to those who jump into arguments seeking to be peacemakers. It often happens that the anger that was being vented between the arguing parties becomes refocused onto the peacemaker. We sometimes see on the nightly news that some would-be peacemaker in a street argument ends up being shot or injured by one of the parties to the argument.

While being a peacemaker is sometimes dangerous or difficult, it is a role to which we have been called. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Perhaps suffering the occasional bloody nose is the price that one must pay to be a peacemaker. Peacemakers are the “first responders” in life’s brouhaha’s . Defusing a disagreement that could get out of hand requires that one jump in, separate the parties and stop the progression of the situation. Once the escalation of emotions is halted; the peacemaker can determine a course of action by listening to the two sides. Often it is a misunderstanding of what has been said or the words that were used. Sometimes just helping one or both parties understand what it is that they are disagreeing upon is enough to calm things down. Sometimes not.

In some cases, the best that the peacemaker can achieve is détente, a pause that one hopes will lead to a more permanent understanding. Even that may be looked at as a win, since the situation was calmed to the point where it didn’t boil over into physical conflict. Perhaps  the bloody nose that the peacemaker might have suffered that provided the outlet for the anger that was driving the situation.

Whatever the situation, it is better to act, to interpose as Franklin put it; than to sit by and do nothing, even if there is an element of danger involved in acting. Why? Because you know, it is right to do so.

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17 )

And, what if you don’t act? Maybe Franklin would have put it this way –

Those who sit by and do not act, most often regret it after the fact.

Do the right thing! Be a peacemaker. Your nose will heal and you will be better for having acted.

Peace be with you.