The World Is A Great Gift
As I rise up to each passing new day, as with the passing of the clouds, I’m not only thankful for the gift of the beauty of this world, but also thankful to God the giver of this gift.
To fully appreciate this, I think we need to make time for solitude: A state in which you spend time alone, or with God, in thought and free from the input from other minds or interactions (such as listening to the news, podcasts, or reading books).
Because we live in a war torn world shows how we can easily take this world for granted. Solitude, when kept in balance, can keep things in right perspective.
Lovers Reading by the Lake
How To Beat The System
Back in the day when I started to drive a car, the police were in the beginning phase of using radars to detect the speed you were driving. What followed was the radar detectors so that you would know if you were in the vicinity of the radar.
Well, over the years there has been this back and forth of new radars or detectors as the signals kept getting upgraded. So I recall asking my late father at the time what this is all about. He told me not to worry about it .. that the best way to beat the system was to simply drive the speed limit.
This way there is no reason for the radar or the detector, because we are following the laws or the rules. But, there is something in us as humans that is competitive, or something. Today you might compare this to digital communications, and privacy and security with search engines, browsers, and email.
Enter the Vivaldi browser: “In a world where what we read online is being monitored, stored, and sold to advertisers, Vivaldi Feed Reader is a breath of fresh air. Skip the algorithms and create a private news feed of the latest content from your favorite sources.”
Short of the long, “We are PAYING, with our data, to use these services. But we still consider them to be free, which makes us very lenient on them when we get poor value.”
The only way it seems to stay out from under the radar is to stay off the platforms as much as possible, at least for now. Privacy and security is not something you should have to pay for on the free internet.
Sunday Afternoon City Chicago
Truth and Transparency
The best way to build trust with others, is to be truthful with transparency.
When we rationalize, or cloud things over because we are afraid how others will respond to us, then are we being true to ourselves?
If we don’t know who we are, then how can we expect to be transparent with others, to trust the person they think we are.
The start of strife is like the opening of a dam;Proverbs 17:14
check a quarrel before it bursts forth!
The arguer insist on his own way.
A conflict resolver looks for a resolution instead of trying to win an argument.
Love means looking out for the other persons interest.
Unresolved conflicts stand as barriers to unity, whether it be friendships, co-workers, politics, or a marriage, etc.
If we don’t find a way to meet in the middle, we become enemies instead of teammates.
So, stop trying to win an argument, and start trying to understand each other.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.Philippians 2: 3-4
Free Bird And Sunset Clouds
Letting Go To Grow
The more we hold on to, the less we give away.
The more we give away, the less we have to hold on to.
Letting go teaches us there is more to life, than just ourselves.
When we give ourselves away, it teaches us how to grow.
Stare At This For A Moment
The Cure For Feeling Alone
It is normal for all of us to feel lonely at times, and sometimes wonder if life is worth living. To lose site of our gifts and abilities, and purpose.
The good news is there is a cure for this. It is to use the gifts that we are given, to then give back to others. Gifts are meant to be shared.
When you reach out and give, always thinking of others before yourself, a tricky thing happens — that is LOVE – wanting the best for the other person without expecting anything in return.
Whether you are a good listener, a person who provides a service, in the military or first responder to provide for community or country, a parent or teacher to impact lives and minds, making crafts or cooking, touching or hugging, and the many other ways to make a positive difference in the world, you see your value when you thrive on giving.
Author Gary Chapman calls this The Five Love Languages – Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Gifts, Quality Time, Physical Touch – whether it’s in a friendship or marriage, work relationships, parenting, or in the community, the idea is to first know and share your love language, then learn to identify and meet others with their love language.
Many times we mostly feel alone when we have an unmet emotional need. When you go out and give to others, this is the best way to find your gifts, abilities, and purpose. …. The best way to find a friend is to be one.
Black Tulips In Black And White
The Benefits Of Being In Community
When I saw this birdbath today, I not only noticed the textures and colors, but also thought about how birds are in community. A birdbath is like the community swimming pool. If you will.
With social media relevant today, why does it seem so many people say they are lonely? It is because our bodies are designed to have interaction with each other, to laugh with and touch each other. The power if a smile is priceless. Yet, there is so much of our society that works towards individualism, pulling us apart.
For example at my church here in America are a number of interest groups, like for youth, or scripture study, or expectant mothers, yet when we worship it is everyone together in community.
If you are into newsletters and mailing lists like I am, you are aware that you can now segment your subscribers into category lists. However, with the mailing lists that I manage, I keep everyone together in community. So that means I have separate categories in one email, and everyone gets (sent) it, they just look at the sections of the newsletter that interests them.
I think that community is where we grow by learning from each other. When we share our differences with each other we learn more (or ask questions) about ourselves. So to pull this all together, the birdbath is a symbol of nature, that God created birds to bath themselves not only to be clean but to have community … there is much in nature us humans can learn from.
Shadow Light Judas Tree
The morning sunlight illuminates the leaves of a Judas tree, amongst the light and shadow play.
Every Life Has A Story
When I look at all the people in the world, I not only see them as a person, but see the story of their lives.
Because it is about stories that make us the people who we are.
I believe that integrity is the main element that we measure each other.
n. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
n. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
n. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.
*From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
Integrity helps us to evaluate our own life, and get a better look at the impact that we are having on this world.
The more you are grateful for what you have, the more you will have to be grateful for.Zig Ziglar
Stop and take a good look at your life. Are you where you are meant to be?
Are you doing the right thing?
Are you on the best track for you?
Every life – every person – has a story.
What is your story?
Feet on the Street
Art is everywhere especially in things that go unnoticed!
The Online Meeting Axiom
In the past year that the COVID pandemic has spread around the world, online conference video chats have become more the norm than the exception they were. And all of these platforms it seems have had to make improvements to their technology to meet the demand.
Yet, some of them have become more popular than others even though they may not be the best. For example, the first two on the scene years ago were FreeConferenceCall in 2001 and Skype in 2003, which I use more than the others. I usually can’t have a call without someone asking why we’re not on Zoom or Teams, etc.
I get it, the quality axiom is at work here: ‘Kleenex’ means tissues, ‘Weber’ means grills, ‘Google’ means search engine, and so on … so now does Zoom mean online video meeting? The other argument is to use the platform that everyone is familiar with so it is easier to use. The answer to this one is the more you use something, the more you become familiar with it.
The truth I see is that, in searching for the light, all of these platforms work the same and have similar issues, and the variables happen based on what equipment or internet connection you have. So you find two of them that best meet your needs and make it work for you.
Because, just like with soda pop I like ‘RC’, even though ‘Coke’ or ‘Pepsi’ are more popular doesn’t mean they are the best.
Morning Lit Magnolia
The morning sunlight illuminates the pink and white petals on the branches from a magnolia tree. Just a simple moment in life …
The Best Use of Our Time
Sometimes photography will see elements in the sky that the human eye does not.
Sometimes reflections in the water see elements in the sky that photography does not.
Sometimes the silent moments help us to reflect life more clearly.
Many people tell me how much they are afraid of silence. I have been there too at times. We busy ourselves just to avoid the silence in our lives. Yet, silence is really the best use of our time.
It is where we find the answers to our problems, our dreams, our true needs, and ourselves. It could be ten minutes, or a few hours, but spending time in silent thought has shown our true selves come to the surface through all the noise, and help us to become our best self.
Yes, you sometimes have to work through the ugliness to see light, yet it is through our struggles that we become stronger in finding our true self. This is why I find scheduling in my calendar silent time each day can be best use of my time … and yours.
There is a common lesson to spend one hour a day in silence, for sixty days. Many people in the end find the results mind blowing … pun intended. Give it a try, one day at a time.
Don’t be afraid of silence. FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real
A light snow at sunrise, illuminated by the late Autumn trees in the background. This moment in time is what I call God’s paint brush, to show us there are things in life that only He can do.
I Want to be Free
It seems just about everywhere you look these days people are saying they want to be free, or they want their freedoms. But, I’m wondering if everyone has the same meaning of what freedom is?
n. The condition of not being in prison or captivity.
n. The condition of being free of restraints, especially the ability to act without control or interference by another or by circumstance.
(From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)
For example, my parents raised me and my siblings with the idea that every person has a right to their opinion, but they do not have a right to their own facts, or truth.
Freedom has a connection to truth, just like rules determine freedoms. In other words, when we treat others with respect then they in turn would treat us with respect. On the other hand, if we feel the freedom to treat others without respect we’re not going to get as far as if we used kindness.
I get it, sometimes we just want to go off the usual path and do something we are not allowed, or experience something because we can, but not because we should or that it is the right thing to do. I believe there is a time for everything when put into right perspective.
Integrity gives you real freedom because you have nothing to fear since you have nothing to hide.Zig Ziglar
If you do what you need to do when you need to do it, then the day will come when you can do what you want to do when you want to do it.Zog Ziglar
True freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace.Saint John Paul II
During my morning coffee, the sky changed like every two minutes over the course of one hour. So too my thoughts.
Forgiveness and Obedience
I think these words are both simple yet profound, because they are easy to understand and agree with, yet not so easy to live:
Forgiveness is releasing the other person from the debt that they owe you. Forgiveness does not mean that what they did was permissible. It does not mean that you must be their best friend. It does not mean that you even must address the person directly. Forgiveness is freeing your heart to live and love in the measure God created you.
Obedience can have a negative connotation in our culture today because everyone wants to be “free”. We interpret freedom as doing what we want to do. In the spiritual life, freedom comes when we are obedient to God’s will. Obedience comes from a Latin word which means “to listen”. When we listen to God’s voice and are obedient to Him, we find true freedom … Sin can be defined as “I want what I want right now.” Holiness can be defined as “I want what God wants when He wants it.” Obedience to God leads to holiness, which in turn leads to happiness, which we all seek.
Our lives are a work in progress.
Sunday Silence: Birds
Sunday is a day for silence. And on this Sunday in 2019 the silence pales to the sound of birds singing in the tree branches. ….
Many times we, including myself, tend to judge people based on how we see a situation before or without being fully educated about the matter or understanding fully the people involved.
When people hurt us with their words or actions, especially family members or co-workers for example, or people we spend a lot of time with, we tend to take it personally.
I have found that many times what is important is how we respond rather than how we react. In other words, to be always forgiving with kindness to others, even when they are not kind to us, brings many dividends in the long term.
Like the unconditional love of a dog. The more you lead them with love, the more they love back. It’s about who is at the end of the leach.
Likewise, kindness doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be truthful or matter of fact, rather the words we use and how we present the information, putting others before ourselves, makes all the difference. Because we are all a work in progress and need each other to make it in life.
I’m sure you’ve heard the words to not judge others unless you want to be judged. I tend to favor The Golden Rule of treat others the way that you want to be treated.
Always try to see people as God sees them, and don’t be so quick to judge.
Life is short. Let’s be kind.
Email is the Original Social Media
With my last blog post, I talked about how using blogs and MeWe are an alternative to the big tech option of information suppression social media. This post I would like to add how Email is the original social media, and I make the argument how you could not have a world without Email.
Before blogs and social media, Email was used as early as 1972 and rapidly grew in popularity as computers became a common feature for consumers. Many of us, and I still do today, had several groups set up in our Email contacts who we share thread discussions back and forth. From this came the Email list providers, which allow us to broadcast our messages usually outbound, however the subscribers can reply privately if they choose to. And when I communicate to bloggers, we often are using Email to discuss truly important things that we wouldn’t say in public – or make plans – as not everything is in public.
Ask yourself how many times a day you check your Email account. Now compare that to the number of times you check your social networking account. With Email, you build a permission-based list of people that want to hear from you. Isn’t that what all of us do on a social media network (with a little difference in permissions, depending on what service we’re using).
Not only can Email be more secure when used properly, with social media your messages could pass by too quickly and disappear, or be suppressed, into the news feed before you even notice (this can now happen to your inbox unless you have the right webmail service). With Email, readers have to either open or delete the Email, and can save items in their inbox for further action, giving your emailed message more impact. Email may not have the buzz, but it still has a lot of power.
People also make the mistake that Facebook is the largest social network to date, in reality, the largest social networks are Email. That is if you agree if Facebook, as a private community of your friends, is a social network, then so is email. They both have the same requirements:
1) profiles (emails have signatures),
2) Ability to connect to each other (the act of Emailing, and often responding,
3) Do something useful (Email users share information, and sometimes collaborate).
Finally, Email is still a highly important mode of communication, while we often complain about keeping the inbox clean, research indicates people still trust Emails from friends and people they know – this will only continue as the Email address becomes more valuable than the phone number or street address.
The DIgital World, Respond or React.
In the digital world of social media, websites and blogs, mailing list providers and servers, there seems to be an increased amount of delatforming, suppression, and censoring, by companies known as ‘big tech’. Many people seem to be reacting by staying on the platforms either thinking they are not going to get suspended or they are waiting to see how long it will take. My thinking instead is it’s best to respond to big tech by being pro active, and deplatform yourself.
When enough people leave these platforms the big tech will feel the squeeze on their bottom line, which will not make their investors happy. This is why it is important to find a website or blog platform that uses it’s own servers and promotes your privacy and safety, or at least is independent of the big tech business, and don’t forget that email is the original social media.
For example, although I’m on MeWe because of it’s ‘privacy bill of rights’, I still have several groups who email with me directly. And it’s important to do all this through a privacy browser like Vivaldi, instead of using an app where big tech can peep with their prying eyes. This is the one thing about MeWe I don’t understand, however, that on mobile the website leads you to use the app when I think that is less private than going through the browser from their website.
And having your own space on a blog is the way to go, because you can still link your thoughts and responses if needed with other blogs and articles. The main take away is that as long as you follow the rules and TOS you should be fine, however, I feel that because these big tech businesses are removing others who just want to speak freely, then it is best we all move to another platform who allows this, as God made us to be social creatures as long as we respect each other.
Tree Tops Minimalism
Have you ever thought about what it might be like to be a leaf at the top of a tree? … Or do I have too much time on my hands?
Keep Your Focus
This beautiful moment in time came and went in less than twenty minutes, yet it is one of those moments that you steal some time to notice God’s creation, that He is still in control.
The thought that came to mind, though, before I clicked the camera shutter, was how without this sky the trees are back to the ‘reality’ of everyday. That you have to look through these trees to see the full picture of colors and cloud formations.
The same thing happens in everyday life, that if we don’t keep our focus on what is important, we can become distracted by the ‘eye candy’ in front of us. That it is okay to appreciate the beauty of life to remind, those of us who believe, that it is not all about us but through His love.
In any event, I hope whatever this moment in time brings to mind for you, that you find it meaningful even if it is as quick as it came and went, from my camera to you.