Are the outcomes really coincidences?

October 1, 2018

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “When I pray, coincidences happen.  When I don’t, they don’t.”  (William Temple)

Temple is referring to things that “happen” which seem to be the result of, or at least associated with, a prayer. Sometimes, if the coincidence is important or significant enough, it may even be called a miracle. A logical explanation that one may pursue is thewoman-praying thought that praying for something in particular, or some outcome to an upcoming event, forces one to visualize the steps necessary to achieve that outcome. Visualization is a well-known technique for success in athletics and other pursuits in life.

Another possible explanation for the coincidences of success after prayer might be that prayer puts one in a positive frame of mind and being positive and confident going into a situation has a strong influence on the results. The feeling that you have God on your side is a huge positive motivator and comfort through any adversity. I’m sure that research could prove some proof that prayer releases some endorphins inman praying the brains of those who fervently pray and they feel better (perhaps even invincible) as they tackle the challenge that they prayed about.

Perhaps prayer forces us to take the vague and amorphous fears that we have about whatever it is that we are praying about and put them in a box that we then hold up in front of God and ourselves. We are able to acknowledge that we need help with the things in that box. The fact that we express that need for help in prayer allows us to admit to ourselves what our fears are mind at workand forces us to deal directly with them. The feeling that, through our prayers, we have God on our side in dealing with those fears provides the strength and courage to take the first steps towards overcoming them. Prayer often provides that little push that we need to get started.

Oft times, we allow things in our lives to grow in importance all out of scale to their actual meaning or impact. I posted not too long ago about a great piece of advice that I got from a friend who had noticed that I was obsessing about something that had little real significance in the grand scheme of things. He just looked at me as I was lamenting something that I hadn’t done and ask, “Did anybody die?”  As absurd as that sounded initially within the context of my diatribe, it was actually the exact thing that I need to hear and think about to put things back into perspective. I use it often now to re-position the importance and priority of things in my mind

Finally, taking things to God in prayer allows us to reset our perspective on things thathelping hands might be going on in our lives.  In my prayers, I often use the little phrase “not my will, but Thy will be done”. For me, that is the quickest and easiest way to let go of things that I have no control over anyway and put my trust back into the coincidences that God makes happen in our lives.

What works for you?

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I know that I know nothing; but I believe…

April 5, 2018

Today’s musing is based upon a quote from a past post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

 “True wisdom comes…when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves and the world around us.”  (Socrates)Socrates

It is a wise man who admits to himself that he doesn’t understand life, no matter how well educated he may be. Training the mind to think helps with many things, but understanding life is not one of them. One might be better able to explain a few things in life (you could use the term rationalize instead of explain); however, understanding why things happen in life the way they do is beyond our abilities to understand. At some point, one reaches the end of the string of logic that they may have formulated to explain things in life. It is at that point that belief has to take over, because understanding is out of reach.

Reaching the end of understanding of things also forces a person to pause to consider bored2what it is that they believe in. It is comforting in those times to have a strong belief in God. Not understanding why things happen can be unsettling. It can cause confusion and anxiety. It can lead to hopelessness and depression. Being able to say to yourself, “I do not have to understand the ‘why?’ of everything. I just need to believe in God and accept His plans for me.”

It is that acceptance, of both God and His plan for you that provides you with needed comfort and relief.  You release yourself from the burden of trying to solve it yourself, figure it out yourself or understand it; you learn to accept life as it comes at you and do the best that you can with what life presents to you. You can focus more on how to deal with life, rather than being hung up on why things happen. Believe that things happen for a reason, even if you don’t understand those reasons. Find your purpose in dealingman praying with those things that happen.

You can start each day in the right frame of mind with a little prayer to God in which you say, in your own words; “God, I don’t know what you have in store for me today; but, I know that you will be with me and that you will not give me anything that I cannot handle with you at my side.” I shorten that prayer down quite a bit by reducing it a simple sentence , “Not my will but thy will be done.” Whatever prayer you decide to use, start each day with acknowledgement and acceptance of God in your life and nothing that you hit during the day will overwhelm you. Truly a wise decision.


Make the fourth choice…

December 24, 2017

Jack had an interesting quote recently in his blog Jack’s Winning Words

“In life you have three choices…Give up…Give in…or Give it your all.”  (Charleston Parker)

Those are the choices from the kind of human, ego-centric point of view that most of us use in life. Quotes like that are the fodder of coaches and leaders everywhere as they rally the team or the troops. There’s certainly nothing bad about deciding to give it your all in life, whether it be to the demands of your job or to the needs of your family.

Striving to do your best is always a worthy goal; however, as we take time today and tomorrow to reflect upon the true meaning of Christmas, I would submit that there is a fourth choice in life…Give it to God. You don’t have to give up on life or give in to the temptations of life; instead give yourself to God and let Him handle your fears and trials. Let Him give you the strength to resist the temptations of life and the endurance and perseverance to give it your all. With God on your side all things are possible.

So, this Christmas, as we give thanks to God for giving us the greatest gift of all time – His Son Jesus – let us also give Him a gift of ourselves. Give yourself to God and you will not have to give up or give in and you will be able to give it your all.

Not to belabor this little prayer that I’ve written about often here; but, the easiest wayman praying that I’ve found in my life to give yourself to God is to prayerfully say to Him…Not my will but thy will be done.

Make the fourth choice.

Merry Christmas to all.


The pause that refreshes…

December 21, 2017

From a post not long ago to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes today’s inspiration – 

“When you press the pause button on a machine, it stops, but when you press the pause button on human beings they start…to think, to reflect, to reimagine what is possible.”  (Thomas Friedman)

So often life becomes hectic and we allow ourselves to be swept up in the hustle and bustle of trying to keep up, trying to make snap decisions and react quickly to the changes that are happening around us. What we need sometimes is our own pausepause symbol button for life. We need time to think and reflect, to evaluate things and, possibly, to reimagine our role and reactions to what is happening. How many times we think back to situations and from that new point of view, say to ourselves, “if only I had thought of this back then.” Perhaps you would have thought of that back then, if you had hit the pause button.

So maybe imagining that you do have a pause button is a good way to deal with things. Maybe we should hit pause and step back from the situation long enough to think and consider all of the possibilities and reimagine our future direction. Hurtful things that bored2happen to us often elicit equally hurtful reactions from us and usually just end up compounding the problem. Problems that are so big that they overwhelm us too often cause responses that are overly ambitious and not well thought out. Pausing to see how to break the problem down into a series of smaller and simpler responses can lead to a much better chance of success.

In my life I have a built in pause button in my two dogs. We take four walks a day, starting with the first one at about 6 AM each morning. Those walks, each lasting about 20-30 minutes, require that I pause and give me time to think about things. The first walk of the day is my planning walk, in which I have the chance to reflect on what is upcoming during the rest of the day and lay out a plan of sorts. The two in the middle of the day provide a pause to reflect on what has happened, what things I ‘m faced with responding to or allowing me to make changes to my original plan in reaction to how the day has gone so far. The end-of-day walk allow for reflection upon the events of the day and the decisions that I made. That pause allow me to learn from the day’s events and hopefully to increase my store of knowledge on how to deal with upcoming events.

 

You really don’t need dogs to walk in order to pause in your daily life; but, you do need to have the discipline to hit the pause button a few times during your day, in order to give yourself time to reflect and make the best decisions on what to do next. The ability to reimagine what is possible is critical to good mental health. The alternative is to allow yourself to become overwhelmed by seemingly impossible situations and perhaps to woman-prayingslide into depression because you see no way out. You may wish to say a little prayer, asking for God’s help with the decisions that you have to make or perhaps you would finbd comfort in the little prayer that I use and have written about here many times – “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

Pause and think, reflect and pray – then reimagine your future. It’s the pause that refreshes.


I’ll work on being me and you can work on being you…

December 15, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come this little reminder – “Don’t you ever let a soul tell you that you can’t be exactly who you are.”  (Lady Gaga) Jack went on to write a little about the childhood of  Stefani Germanatta (Lady Gaga) who wasWoman from behind attributed labeled as an eccentric misfit in school. Look at what happened to her when she decided to keep being herself, instead of trying to conform to someone else’s idea of what was cool or proper.

Many of us spend too much of our time trying to fit in or be cool. The sad thing is that we have no real idea what that means, other than that some people that we see around us seem to be having a better time than we are. Therefore, we try to dress and act like them, in hopes that this is all that it takes to be jerkaccepted and to be considered cool. That never works. Instead we just end up looking pathetic in the eyes of those people that we are trying so hard to emulate and impress.

Some people even try to be cool with more than one group. They usually end up failing with all of the groups and may end up losing the ability to remember who they really are. The key to success in life is not trying to make yourself over into something that you are not; but, rather, trying hard to be the best you that you can be.

I’ve posted here before about the Dr. Seuss advice that there’s nobody you’er than you. You don’t want to lose that advantage by trying to become someone else. So work on becoming the best you that you can be. Develop, use and share your talents. Make sure that you stay recognized as “one of a kind” instead of becoming “one of them”.

Have you ever noticed how people who have passed are sometimes praised by people who state, “There will never be another like him/her.” They were being the best person that they could be. If you focus on being the best you that you can be, they may say that about you some day. And that would be cool.

A nice side benefit of focusing upon being yourself is all of the time that you get back. You don’t have to spend time trying to understand what you think makes others cool and worrying about what others think of you. Maybe if you start each day with a little prayerwoman-praying – “God help me be the best me that I can be today. Help me do the right things and focus my energy on doing better each day.” Then you could end the day by taking some time to reflect on your day and with another prayer, “Please God, help me see and understand the things that I could have done better this day; so that I can be a better me tomorrow.”

As for me, I’ll be over here working on being a better me. Maybe I’ll encounter you today and get the chance to see the better you. Let’s work on that.


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


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.