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.

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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.


What are you grateful for?

November 29, 2016

“Gratitude improves your attitude, dude!”  (James Taylor), as seen on a recent post at the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

When you get older even things like waking up for another day can be something that one gratitude-1is grateful for. Being grateful is a realization and acknowledgement that the things that happen to us, the experiences that we have and the successes that we experience in life are not totally within our control. Other powers, or other people, have a causal effect on our lives. When you can acknowledge that, the veil of feeling alone in this world is lifted and your gratitude improves your attitude, dude.

When we can put aside ego for a moment and acknowledge and be grateful for those other people and that higher power, we are embracing the fact that we are part of something greater than ourselves; we are a part of society, a member of the pack called “We”. There is some reward in saying “I” did it; but there is a much greater feeling of goodness when you can say “We” did it. It is much more rewarding to thanks and hug others and receive hugs for having accomplished something together than to sit alone and ponder your success. Gratitude improves your attitude, dude.

gratitude-3Beyond acknowledging and being grateful for the help of others, there is the awareness that a higher power is at work in the world and does not ignore you. You may call out for help in prayer to God or you may thank God for saving your bacon today; in either case you are stepping back from your own ego and acknowledging God and showing gratitude for His presence in your life. A secondary benefit of thanking God in prayer for what he has already done for you is the comforting feeling that you’ll get that the future will be OK too, because He will be with you then, too. Gratitude improves your attitude, dude.

We are in the season when people overload on Hallmark Channel feel-good movies and shows and all of the classics from Miracle on 34th Street to Charlie Brown’s Christmas. In every happy ending to those stories there is a group acknowledgement of gratitude for each other and for God and the spirit of Christmas as expressed in the manger in attitude-2Bethlehem. Every Christmas story ends with a group hug and cheerful attitudes as the characters acknowledge and are grateful for the birth of Jesus and His lasting impact on their lives. What are you grateful for this year? Think about it and then say it our loud. It will make you feel better to do that, because gratitude improve your attitude, dude.

Have a grateful week ahead!


Now more than ever…

November 22, 2016

“Cast all your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”  (1 Peter 5:17) – from a post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time ago.

Anxiety is defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”

The recent election has caused a great deal of anxiety among people who voted for Hillary winner-loserClinton and against Donald Trump. That anxiety is driven by fears that President-Elect Trump will actually carry out some of the more outrageous promises that he made while campaigning, concerning things like building a wall at our southern border and deporting illegal aliens or taking harsh and discriminatory measures against various ethnic or religious groups. There would have been a similar anxiety had Hillary won from those who saw her as a threat to their right to own weapons or who fear more and bigger government interference in their daily lives. Those on both sides should step back and remember Peter’s advice – “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

There is a great deal of irrationality in both of those views. While a modern President can impact our lives in many ways, our governmental system does not allow for him/her to run roughshod over the will of the people or even that of the minority. Having rebelled against an onerous king, the founding fathers of America put enough checks and balances into the reality2system to insure that tyranny by a ruling leader would not be possible. Also at work here is the shift that President Obama has spoken about that occurs once one actually has to be the President, rather than just campaigning to be the President. We can see that already in Mr. Trump’s rapid backpedaling away from some of his more outrageous stated positions from his campaign. Some have called that being pragmatic, but perhaps the Lord is already at work and you can, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

If one lives long enough, one gets to see (and live through) the various swings of the political pendulum back and forth between the two major parties and their underlying philosophies on government. The earliest that I recall being actually aware of who was President and what they meant was during President Eisenhower’s terms in office; although I do vaguely recall early TV news reports of Margaret Truman playing a piano eisenhowerconcert for her family while in the White House. I do remember how the press seemed to cover every golf outing that President Eisenhower took and how he was called the “do nothing” president; even though he was the father of our modern Interstate system of highways and a bulwark against the spread of Communism after WW II. Eisenhower also created NASA in response to the launch of the Sputnik satellite by the USSR. He fought behind the scenes against Joe McCarthy and effectively ended McCarthyism. There were many who feared what would happen when Eisenhower was elected; but, also many who had faith enough to, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

I could go on to give examples of the anxieties caused by the elections of each of the Presidents since Eisenhower; but, here we are today, still anxious yet still hopeful. Things will change for a while as the pendulum prepares to swing back towards the other side. Perhaps it is at its furthest rightward point away from the center, but I suspect that this last election was actually a turning point and the momentum has already shifted back reality-checktowards the middle for the next few elections. Those most likely to be disappointed are not those who voted for the losing candidate, but those who voted for the winner, in hopes that all of their anger, hate and prejudices would be assuaged. For those who standing quivering in fear and anxiety at this turn of events, I can only offer the comfort of faith and ask them to, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

Now is not the time to abandon your faith; now is the time to find strength and comfort in it. Many may feel the same way they recalling feeling when they faced a bully at school or bully.pngat work. There is a lot of bluster and bravado from the winning side and some disappointment, whimpering and shame on the losing side. Both have already subsided as both now try to envision a future with this status quo. One side is focusing upon what they can actually do for the next four years and the other is deciding what they can actually prevent from happening in that same time period. The gridlock that is our Congressional arm of government has shifted from “prevent Obama from doing anything” to “prevent Trump from doing anything.” The Lord does work in mysterious ways, indeed. “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

In churches across the land the prayers remain the same – “Lord give our leaders the wisdom to lead us wisely and to do the right things” (or words to that effect). We haveman praying no power over what those leaders see as “the right things”, but God does. Now, more than ever, we need to trust in God to put into the hearts and minds of those in power the wisdom and compassion to do the right things. So pray often and pray hard for God to intervene to make the right things happen; and, pray with the conviction that you can, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

Have a great and anxiety-free week ahead.