Let’s give thanks for what we have…

November 22, 2017

Today’s post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog is a great reminder that we need to pause and give thanks for all that we have, rather than getting ready to bolt out the door on Friday morning in search of more stuff.

“Lord, as we bow our heads to pray, 

We celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

 

Help us have the right attitude, 

As we turn to you in gratitude.

 

Thank you for our festive mood; 

Thank you, Lord, for this good food;

 

Thanks for blessings great and small; 

Thank you, thank you for it all.”  Amen

 

(Thanksgiving Table Prayer by Joanna Fuchs)

 

Black Friday is named for the fact that the money made on that one day is what puts many retailers in the black for the year; however, it might as well be named for one of the darkest aspects of human nature – greed. The need for more, more, more drives people as much as the savings that they think they are getting on that day. Thanksgiving is just another example of the perversion days that are supposed to be set aside for thoughtful reflection and gratitude for the things that God has given us. The requirements of children’s sports have already taken away most Sundays and turned Sunday mornings from family time at church to travel time to games.

It’s common for people to ask, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” My response will be what I’m not doing for Thanksgiving. I’m not going Black Friday shopping. If anything, I will shop in Milford, where the local merchants have decided to turn it into Give Back Friday and will be donating a portion of all sales to local charitable causes. That’s one thing that I’ll remember to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.  Maybe I’ll see you there.

Give Back Friday

Picture from the Give Back Friday Facebook Page

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Get going in a different direction…

November 15, 2017

Thaccess deniedis little quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog got me to thinking about the rejections in my life and how that changed my direction.

“Sometimes rejection in life is really redirection.”  (Tavis Smiley)

Rejections in life can come in many forms. We tend to remember the bigger moments of rejection, like being turned down for a date or being passed over for a promotion; however, life is full of little moments in which something that we want to do is somehow rejected or, at least that path is blocked and we must go in a different direction.

 

 

How we react to rejections in life and what we choose to do in the new direction says a bored2lot about us. Some don’t deal with rejection very well and may slip into anger or depression every time things don’t go the way that they and planned and hoped. Some are so flighty that rejections are quickly forgotten and they flit off in a new direction, seemingly oblivious to the rejection. Do you know people who react to rejection in those ways?

For most of us rejection is just a temporary bump in life. They may stop us for a moment, as we internalize what just happened, but we go on. What few of us take the time to do is to think about that rejection as a redirection in our lives. I wonder what would happen if woman-prayingwe paused and thought to ourselves, “OK, God didn’t want that to happen to me or for me; I wonder what direction He wants to take me in now?”

By taking that moment to attribute the rejection/redirection in your life to God’s will, you remove the need to seek an answer to the question of why that just happened. You also excuse yourself of the need to find blame in yourself or others. It was God’s will, not your will or actions that brought about the rejection, so use it as a redirection and seek His will in which way to go next. Maybe start off with a little prayer like, “God I know that you have something else in mind for me; please help me see the path that you wish for me to take.” Do that, knowing that God has only the best outcome in mind for you; and you will joyfully start off in your new direction.

Dealing with rejections as redirections from God in your life will allow you to keep a positive attitude towards life, no matter how and many or what types of rejections you hit. Sometimes God may throw a rejection at you to help re-ground you on the important things in life, like family vs. possessions. A rejection may force you to realize that you had begun to value the wrong things and to pursue the wrong things. Sometimes that rejection is a wake-up call that says that you have become too complaisant and too expectant of success; that you have become full of yourself and God needed to take you down a peg and remind you of who is in charge.

man prayingMaybe you can start each day with a variation of that little prayer that I suggested earlier. “God, I don’t know what you have in mind for me today, but help me accept the things that happen and see the new directions that you have laid out for me; trusting in You and your love for me, through your Son, Jesus Christ.”

Then get out there and get going in those new directions.


Don’t give up the chase…

October 9, 2017

From a collection of inspirational sayings that I found on the internet comes this saying – “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” —Vince Lombardi

For many years, Lexus used the tag line “The relentless pursuit of perfection” and they made excellent automobiles. They have been questioned for changing their tag line to “Engineering the impossible”, which is perhaps a little harder to relate to for the common man.

bored2In day-to-day living, many people claim to be (or at least, admit to being) perfectionists – people who constantly strive for perfection, sometimes to the consternation of those around them. Many times, if the object of their desire for perfection is a sport, you will see them practicing, doing something over and over until they master that aspect of the sport. For many, the inability to achieve perfection dominates their lives and makes them unhappy.

I think it is OK to constantly have perfection as a goal in whatever you are doing. After all, not striving for perfection as you do something is admitting, up front, that you willmediocrity quote accept mediocrity as a final outcome. One seldom hears cheers being lead that proclaim proudly, “We’re number two” or signs extolling you to “be good enough”. Rather, we see and hear, “Be the best that you can be”; strive for perfection.

Striving for perfection may seem to be a prescription for constant frustration and disappointment, but it needn’t be; rather it should be the constant goal that keeps us learning, evaluating, adjusting and improving. One should never stop asking themselves, “How can I be a better spouse, a better parent, a better sibling or just a better person?”

The dictionary defines perfection as – the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

Perhaps the flaws or defects in our lives are our sins. Maybe if you start by striving for WWJDperfection in your religious life those other things will take care of themselves. At least we have one “perfect” example to try to emulate in our pursuit –  Jesus. Perhaps one of those little WWJD bracelets would cause us to pause and think before we act, before we say something or do something that would cause us to backslide on our pursuit of perfection.

We may not achieve perfection, but we might get closer to excellence in life if we stopped to think “What would Jesus do?” I’m pretty sure that He would not do anything that He would regret later or that would hurt someone else. Maybe that’s a good starting point for your pursuit in other aspects of life. Another thing that we will realize, once we embrace Jesus in our lives, is that he has already forgiven all of our flaws and defects. The grace of God that he died on the cross to give to us has already made us perfect, oncewoman-praying we accept Him.

So, never give up the pursuit of perfection in life; but, perhaps reevaluate your priorities and whomever you’ve been using as a role model for perfection and refocus yourself on the one role model who promises that you will achieve perfection through Him. Start with a prayer.

Have a perfect day.


What will you DO today?

October 6, 2017

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” —Leonardo da Vinci

We start each day with some sort of list of good and kind and helpful things that we know coulda woulda shouldawe should do and which we could do; but, then we think of other things and those initial thoughts become things that we would do if we weren’t already so busy. At the end of the day we may pause to reflect on our coulda, woulda, shoulda list of things left undone. We knew and maybe we thought ourselves to be willing, but we didn’t DO.

We are all presented with hundreds of opportunities/challenges each day to either do something or ignore something. In most cases, we know “know” what needs to be done or what should be done; however, as Leonardo said, knowing doesn’t always lead to doing the right thing. Many times it isn’t that we are unwilling to do the right thing; rather, it is that we choose to give something else or someone else our time and attention. We know, but we don’t do.

sewrving soupPerhaps it was calling or visiting someone that you know in alone or could use your visit to make their day. Maybe it was taking time to volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen or with organizations like Meals on Wheels. Maybe it was stopping to talk to someone at work whom you know is going through some difficult times. Maybe it was just taking time to spend with your spouse or children. We know we should do those things, but we don’t. Maybe we are even willing to do those things, but we let other activities consume our time.

Perhaps the secret to implementing Leonardo’s advice is to spend those quiet moments at the beginning of the day with a prayer that asks for God’s help in setting your man prayingpriorities and committing your time. I find the simple prayer “Not my will but thy will be done” and the request “Help me make good decisions today” to be a good way to start my day. The first part is an ego release that relieves me from having to try to solve every problem on my own and the second part makes me stop and think about that the right things to do are in any decisions that I’m faced with making during the day. Leonardo would probably want me to add, “and let me act (DO) on those decisions.” You can come up with your own prayer, but be sure to ask for help doing and not just thinking about things

What will you DO today?


Keep God as the one constant in your life…

August 4, 2017

The only thing constant about life is that there are no constants…everything changes – that’s vaguely what the ancient philosopher Heraclitus was alluding to when he said that “life is flux”.

 

Every now and then I stop and think about how things, little things, change in my life from day to day or week to week. For a while I was going to gym and working out every day. Then it became three times a week and now it is maybe 2-3 times a week. It’s not that I consciously decided to stop going all the time, but life changed and I got too busy to women looking at watchgo every day and then too busy to go 3 times a week and now I really have to make a special effort to go twice a week.

 

The same thing happened to my blogging. For a while I was posting to this blog every day, then maybe 3-4 times a week, then maybe 1-2 times a week and now maybe 1-2 ties every two weeks. I didn’t stop loving to do blog posts, but I ran out to time because I let other things take precedence over spending that hour to write a post.

 

There are many other examples that I could expound upon and many examples in your life that might come to your mind. Life changes and our daily routines change with it, sometimes causing things that we used to like to do to fall by the wayside. Our faith and churchthe practice of it in our daily lives can become victims of life’s changes and distractions, if we don’t make a special effort to recognize God as the central constant in our lives.  For most that means taking time out once a week to attend church.

 

I’ve posted here a couple of times (perhaps the posts might be considered to have been rants) about the hegemony of sports, especially youth sports, on the practice of religion in America. We certainly didn’t see that change coming.  Whole families are taken away from church because of soccer or female soccer playerbaseball or other sports (hockey in the winter) that are now played or practiced on Sunday mornings. One could hope that somehow the families involved took time later in the day to home school their children on the importance of God and religion in their lives, but I suspect that is more of a dream than a real hope.

 

So why make God the one constant in our lives? I would ask in reply to that question; what else do we have, if not God, to serve as an anchor, a constant, in our lives?  God is the only thing that we can imagine or point to that never changes. Our beliefs may waiver and our minds may wander from time to time; but, every time that we turn back to God, He is the same. He never leaves us and He never stops loving us, even as we wander away, distracted by other demands in our lives.me

 

It is worthwhile to take a moment each day and at least acknowledge that fact, that God is the one constant, in our lives. Just reaching out to God as the touchstone in our lives on a daily basis will serve to keep us grounded in values that will also serve us well in meeting life’s challenges. I have shared here before the very simple, yet immensely powerful little prayer that I use to reach out to God – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” That simple little sentence incorporates belief, acceptance, surrender, and hope all in one phrase and is a great start to any day. Try it yourself. It will help you keep God as the one constant in your life and you will begin each day unburdened by the concerns and fears that you just handed off to God.


Hope based upon faith is not dreaming or wishing…

July 17, 2017

Recently the Jack’s Winning Words blog has featured a couple of post on wishing and hope –

“Wishing are the dreams we dream when we’re awake.”  (Buddy DeSylva)

“Accept life and what it brings, I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things.”  (The Kinks)

Jack went on to write – Peter Marty wrote recently about the difference between wishing and hoping.  Wishing upon a star is different than placing hope in God.  Hope seems to have a spiritual tone to it.  It’s what sustains us when we’re not ready to give up on God.  The Kinks’ song came out of the writer’s down time.  As I read the lyrics I see more hoping than wishing.  What do you see?    😉  Jack 

I suppose that one could argue about which comes first faith or hope. I would take the position that hoping in the absence of faith is just like dreaming or wishing; there is no basis for belief that something will actually happen to make the dream or wish come true. As Jack wrote, “Wishing upon a star is different than placing hope in God”, and thewoman-praying main difference is that “placing hope in God” is actually placing your faith in God. After all, who are you asking when you wish for something without a belief in God? Who will grant your wish? To whom do you turn when you have a dream of a better life? Hope based upon faith provides clear instructions on where to take your wishes and dreams and how to ask for what you need and want.

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” – Matthew 21:22

As you read the first part of that quote the tendency is to say, “Alright, I can have whatever I ask for”; however, the kicker is in those last four words – “if you have faith.” Time after time in the Bible you will read that faith is the precursor to hope or the fulfillment of prayers. Many times we “pray” for things that we do not get and there is usually the same answer for why not –

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” – James 4:3

There are many things that we may dreams about or wish for that fall under the general man prayingcategory of our passions – the things of this world that we sometimes think are so important. We might pray to win the Lotto or we might pray for a new car or for other material things, rather than praying that God help us do the right things in life and trust that He will provide all that we really need. The key is having faith first and allowing that faith to guide what you ask God for in your prayers. Base your hopes on faith and they will be fulfilled –

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24

I think I wrote here once before that, if I happen to include a mention of the Lottery in my prayers, I ask God to help me do the right things with the money, if I should win. Lately I have refocused my requests in prayer to a very simple ask – “God help me make good decisions today.” I have faith that those good decisions will actually be God decisions.

What do you ask God for in your prayer? Are your hopes based upon your faith?


Do you need to change direction?

February 15, 2017

“If we don’t change directions soon, we’ll end up where we’re going.”  (Prof Irwin irwin-coreyCorey) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write a little about Professor Irwin Corey, who died recently at age 102. For those who don’t remember the Professor, here’s a link to one of his appearances on the show Late Night with David Letterman in 1983 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CsdRGbQPr0 .

Every now and then our lives can get as nonsensical as the Professor and we need to step back and take his advice. Fist we may need to clearly see where we are going and decide if we really want to get there or continue in that direction. The bedrock upon which AA and NA and all of the rest of the self-help programs that seek to aid people in changing their direction in life is recognizing that you have a problem and making the conscientious new-way-forwarddecision to change direction. All of the programs are really there to support that decision and change in direction your life.

In order to clearly see the direction in which you are currently headed and then make a rational decision about whether to continue along that path, it is important to be temporarily at peace and free of the distractions of your daily life. For many, those moments of peace and focus come during the times when they stop to pray. For some that is a rare occasion, but for many that is a daily time to pause, empty you mind of other things and have a frank discussion with God and with man prayingyourself. Some call it soul searching, you may call it meditation or whatever. The point is to temporarily let go of the things that clutter you mind and focus upon what it is that you want out of life and whether the path that you are on will take you there or not.

Sometimes when you meditate on your life you may have to admit that you’re off on a sidetrack, perhaps totally distracted by the urge to make money or to achieve some goal that will bring you temporary pleasure. Those may be the times that you need heed advice that I wrote about some time ago and say “so what”. So what if you get that next pay increase or that promotion. Will that really make you happier and take you another step to what you want out of life?  Most sidetracks on the railroad lines end up at a dead end and so will you, if you don’t change direction sometimes.

We become so consumed by the pace and requirements of our day-to-day lives that we goallose track of the goals that initially set out to achieve or the dream that originally launched us on our journey. No one sets out to work until they drop or to ignore their family and friends in pursuit of more success at work. They just end up with their heads down charging full speed ahead so much that they miss the turns and changes in direction that are needed some times to reach their ultimate goals in life. Neither does anyone really define their goals in life purely in terms of money or position. People who take the time to really reflect on their goals in life tend to use terms like happiness or fulfillment or usefulness or love to define their ultimate goals.

So, perhaps it is time to take the Professors advice and find a quiet moment (maybe in prayer) to assess if the direction that you are currently headed in will get you to where youwoman-praying really want to end up. It’s almost never too late to change directions, otherwise you will end up getting to where you’re going. If you do take that time during prayer, you might find the directions that God can provide for you to be the ultimate GPS system for your journey. Just like you do in your car, use prayer to reset your destination and then listen to the directions that God gives you.

I’ll see you along the way.