Don’t hold your breath…give back

March 13, 2018

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this little yoga saying – “When you inhale you are taking the strength from God.  When you exhale it represents the service you are giving to the world.”  Jack went on to write that we should all stop and, recognizing our breathing, contemplate our relationship with God.

But, don’t hold your breath. As you are thinking about God, think also about exhaling and giving back in service to the world. That can initially be a rather overwhelmingworries thing to contemplate, with thoughts of “What can I do? I’m just one little person” or maybe “I have no skills to help the world.” The fact is that your time and willingness to help are the only things that you need to get started making a difference in the world. Don’t hold your breath.

Maybe, like most you don’t see or know about the needs that are right in your own back yard. The fact is that the world around you is brimming with unfulfilled needs. There are people who need food prepared for them or delivered to them. There are millions of people who cannot function on a day-to-day basis without someone’s helping uphelp. There are children who are too hungry to learn in school. There are thousands in hospitals and nursing homes that long for someone to talk with. There are caregivers struggling to to get through each day without anyone to relieved them. There are families trying to deal with hardships or losses with no one to turn to for help or counseling. Don’t hold your breath.

Perhaps your challenge (excuse) is that you don’t know how to find those in need and how to get started helping. There are many organizations in every community in the country that exist to help people in need and those organizations always, always need help from volunteers willing to do the work. Those organizations can provide you with the opportunities to jump in and do what is needed. That is really the key – to be willing to do what is needed. Not everyone gets toseerving others stand on the food line serving the food when the TV cameras show up. There are many people in the background doing tasks like preparing the food or washing the dishes. Those are often thankless tasks, but essential to the process. Often, when I volunteer for something, I’ll ask, “What’s the job that nobody wants to do?” Then that’s the job I ask for. In church event’s that’s usually set-up and tear-down or perhaps washing dishes. Don’t hold your breath.

So, as you sit there in whatever pose you are holding in your yoga class, contemplate God with the breath that you took in and then focus on how you can help in your community with the breath that you ae about to exhale. Don’t hold your breath…the needs are too great and there’s a job waiting for you to serve your community. Now exhale and get out there. Don’t hold your breath.


No thanks; I’ll take the stairs…

March 14, 2016

“The fact that there’s a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven says a lot about expected traffic numbers.”  (Shower Thoughts) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

My mom also often used the phrase, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I RoundTuitsuppose that road is marker with round tuits, which you always meant to get. The side roads to that destination probably are named Coulda, Woulda and Shoulda. It’s no wonder that traveling on that path is often referred to “going down the road to ruin.”

The climb to heaven must seem daunting to many, too; since Jack went on to remind usfacing stairs that Jesus said it would be easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to get into heaven. Of course He was talking about earning your way into heaven. He went on to explain that we get in to Heaven through the grace of God by accepting Him as our Savior.

So, if we can’t earn our way to Heaven, why live a good life in communion with God and perhaps service to others? The answer to that has to do with being ready for your own final judgement. No one knows when their time will come and no one is going to be given the time to say “I’m sorry” and ask for forgiveness at the end. It seems to make much more sense to be ready at any time.

Being ready means having a steady and meaningful relationship with God and the willingness to accept His will for your life. Most find that God’s will involves helping others and doing what’s right as you live out your days. From that service and acceptance of God’s will comes the peace and contentment with life that others may not understand. helperPerhaps that is how we climb the stairs to Heaven, one stair of service and prayer at a time – not earning our way; but rather, accepting our way into our final reward.

I’m sure that we’ve all met or heard about people who devote their lives to helping others. Mother Teresa in India always comes to mind; but there’s countless people right in our own communities that serve the needs of others. I think of the people of Supportive Alternative Living (S.A.L.) in my community who serve the needs of adult special needs people living independently in our neighborhoods and the volunteers at Community Sharing who provide food and services to those in need in our area. You may not see them providing those services; but maybe that’s just because they are a little ahead of you on the stairway.

So, this week, as life throws in your face the opportunities for you to get on the highway toclimbing stairs hell, just say, “No thanks; I’ll take the stairs.” It doesn’t matter how far along you are; at least you’re going in the same direction, if you’re on that stairway. So, take your first step up today.


Experience the joy of service.

February 25, 2014

“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” ― Kahlil Gibran

I like that little saying. This is the time of the year when churches observe Lent, the precursor to Easter. During Lent our church, like many others, holds a soup supper. We do a round-robin exchange of soup suppers with several other churches in the area.

For the last few years (I can’t even recall how many now) I volunteer to be what is washing dishesessentially the busboy during our church’s turn to host the soup supper. I originally did that because no one else wanted that job. I quickly discovered a great sense of fulfillment and joy out of taking that little role of service to others and have volunteered for that role ever since.

For me and for many people whom I have met over time, there is real joy to be found in serving others. There is an even greater sense of satisfaction to be found in taking on roles of service that no one else wants to do. Usually those are the jobs in the background in which the people toil away and never get any recognition for their efforts. They don’t do it for recognition; they do it because it must be done and someone must do it. Why not them?

There is another saying that I’ve struggled with how to use in a blog post, this one by George Bernard Shaw – Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness. I guess that I disagree with Shaw on one point; doing what must be done, especially in service to others can also be happiness.

helping elderlyThere are a great many of these little, unheralded or behind the scenes jobs out there just looking for someone to do them. It could be visiting with a shut-in or someone in a nursing home with no family nearby. It could be serving meals at a homeless shelter. It could be offering to shovel off the walk and drive for an elderly neighbor. Maybe it’s standing out in the cold with a bucket and collecting for a charity. Maybe it’s picking up the morning paper from the drive an placing it on the door step of an elder neighbor. One program locally that can always use volunteer help is the Huron Valley Youth Assistance Program, which provides counseling and mentoring to at risk youth in the community. See my earlier post on that program.

Not every job is the one that the newspaper prints a picture of or that makes the evening tutoringTV news. For every one of those there are a hundred jobs in the background that must also be done. Look around and find those little jobs, especially the ones that no one else wants to do; and take them on. You’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel about it and it will put a smile on your face that others will see and respond to with a smile back.

This saying by Mahatma Gandhi – “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”  – points to a side benefit of serving others. You may well find yourself in the process, find out what you are made of and find purpose in your life. Many people go through life with much material success – money, homes, cars, etc. – and yet live with a nagging sense of emptiness a lack of the sense of fulfillment. Committing yourself to acts of service to others, without any expectation of reward or remuneration, can go a long way towards filling that void.

Finally, I found this quote, which I thought is an appropriate way to sum this up – “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”  ―  Martin Luther King Jr.