A Ragamuffin’s Regretful ‘If Only”s


‘Woulda’…’coulda’ …’shoulda’ … Life’s ‘if only’s that can block out the bright sunshine with dark stratocumulus clouds of regret. Intriguing that “if” resides smack dab in the middle of LIFE.

Regret is “If Only’s” synonym. The dictionary defines regret as, “To feel sorry, disappointed, distressed, or remorseful about. To remember with a feeling of loss or sorrow; mourn.

Ever been there? . . . total bummer! . . . not where any of us wants to spend a lot of time. The good news . . . we don’t have to!

All regrets are all past tense. They may be useful to learn from, but not to focus and dwell on. One thing I’ve learned in struggling with regrets over the past eight decades is . . .

Regrets are a place of reference, not a place of residence

Without fail, choosing to focus on my blessings always scatters regret’s ‘if only’ ominous clouds, and life’s sunshine soon comes back out to bask in.

Sure wish I’d learned this a long time ago. My German grandmother was spot on whenever she observed me about to hatch yet another regret (regretfully a frequent occurrence 😊), and would sternly, but lovingly reprimand . . . “Freddy, you’re too soon old and too late smart!” . . . I’m still working on the latter 😊

In her book The Top Five Regrets of The Dying palliative nurse Bonnie Ware poignantly lists the five most common regrets of ole duffers (some actually older than me😊) facing the imminent reality we all like to bury in the background, but will ultimately unearth and come face-to-face with one day . . . I’m actually gonna’ die!!!

Here’s the five terminal regrets Bonnie discovered folks at eternity’s threshold wrestle with:

  • I Wish I’d Lived a Life True to Myself, Not the Life Others Expected of Me
  • I Wish I Hadn’t Worked so Hard
  • I Wish I’d Had the Courage to Express My Feelings
  • I Wish I Had Stayed in Touch With My Friends
  • I Wish I Had Allowed Myself to Be Happier

In this New Year may we all turn these wishes into actions while we’re still blessed with the time to do so.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it .”

Psalm 118:24

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to come!

2023 New Year Resolution


Adolph Ochs, the owner of the New York Times, organized the first Times Square New Year’s Ball Drop on December 31, 1907. Save for wartime blackouts in 1942 (the year I was born ) and 1943, this iconic event has welcomed in every New Year ever since.

In today’s vernacular,’ dropping the ball’ means to “make a mistake” . . . ever made one? As for this chief ‘ball dropper’. . . not since I just woke up. . . but allow me a couple more minutes to rectify that😊

Since that first Ball Drop 115 years ago our “One nation under God” has woefully ‘dropped the ball’ . . . How??? . . . Why??? . . . there’s 335,829,797 reasons (the population of the United States of America as of today according to Google) . . . and I’m one of those.

Here’s a candid short list of just a half dozen ‘ball drops’ I’ve been guilty of over the past 365 days of 2022:

  • Contemplating on the woulda’, coulda’, shouda’s instead of being grateful for all I have
  • Subtle condemnation of others different social, ethnic, economic, and religious groups
  • Being ‘too busy’ to be there for others in their time of need
  • Disparaging others through self-perceived ‘constructive’ and ‘humorous’ remarks
  • Seeking to be respected at the expense of not respecting others
  • Focusing on what’s in it for me in lieu of what’s in me for it

Compiling this list, the word “others” increasingly convicted my conscience. None of us has ever seen a motive. We can only surmise what motivates others’ demeanor, actions, and beliefs. God’s mercy and grace knows no “others”, only all ragamuffins such as I.

Sooooooo . . . what’s the solution? . . . One-by-One. As much as I’d like to convince my other 335,829,796 Americans to hop on board the Remedy Railroad, it has to begin with me . . . and you.

Therefore, my 2023 New Year resolution, aware there will off-the-rail ‘ball drops’ along the way, is to strive day-by-day to seek compassionate, objective discernment in everything, filtered through Dr. Luke’s healing prescription . . .

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

Luke 6:7

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  All the best for all of His best in 2023

Being Jesus


Today a friend posted on their blog (gratefuladdict) the note below.

Someone . . . prompted by love’s pure compassion . . . placed this note on the van windshield a homeless person was living in.

This note simultaneously blessed and convicted me . . . blessed, aware of my undeserved abundance . . . convicted, how I often ‘lose sight’ of the destitution of ‘others’ less fortunate . . . ‘others’ who, just like myself, Jesus literally ‘loved to death’ some 2,000 years ago . . . and will continue to throughout eternity.

There are no ‘others’ in Jesus’ sight, and my ‘love vision’ needs to focus less on being me, and more on being like Him.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

For when I was hungry and you gave Me food; I  was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” … “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

Matthew 25:35, 40

The Blind Boy


Ever experience a situation you later regret not taking the time to offer helping someone? . . .

  • a motorist with the hood up on the side of the road
  • an elderly lady pulling two loaded shopping carts through the supermarket parking lot
  • a mother trying to comfort her crying young child who just tripped and fell on the sidewalk

You just read three I’ve been guilty of this past year when, unlike the Good Samaritan, I was too ‘busy’, and chose to “…pass by on the other side of the road…”?  . . . proof positive I’m an ever continuing Christian work-in-progress. My regrets linger, but I’m forever grateful my Abba always has time for me in spite of my ‘blindness’.

Soooooo . . . what prompted these lamentable musings . . . reading the story below today. Whether it’s true or not, its message is. It poignantly reminded me while I sometimes may be ‘blind’ to others in need . . . Love is never blind.

The Blind Boy

Five computer saleswomen from Milwaukee went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They assured their husbands they would return in ample time for dinner. The meeting ran overtime, and the women ran to the train station tickets in hand.

As they barged through the terminal, one woman inadvertently kicked over as table supporting a basket of apples. A 10-year-old boy was selling apples to pay for his books and clothes for school. Without breaking stride, the women clambered aboard the train with a sigh of relief . . . all but one.

She paused, got in touch with her feelings, and experienced a twinge of compunction for the boy whose apple-stand had been overturned. She told her companions she would catch the next train. Later she told them, “I’m really glad I did, because the 10-year-old boy was blind.”

As the woman gathered up the apples scattered about the floor, she noticed several were bruised. She reached in her pocket and said to the child, “Please accept twenty dollars for the apples I damaged. I hope I didn’t spoil your day. God bless you.”

As she started walking away, the bewildered blind boy called after her, asking, . . .

Are you Jesus?”

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Nature vs. Civilization


Mt. Rainier

On each flight into and out of SEATAC I’m inspired by a mountain. Towering 14,410 ft., Mt. Rainier pierces through the clouds in silent sentinel watch in over the cacophony of Seattle’s nearly 3 ½ million souls 59 miles to the southeast . . . a bittersweet contrast.

On this flight it was as though Mt. Rainier was gasping for air above the smoky haze of Oregon’s wildfires far to the south. It heightened apprehension that our planet’s escalating nature/civilization skirmish is one I fear nature is losing. Yet, in the melancholy beauty of the sunset, two Scripture verses and one classic secular quote quietly reassured me:

In His hands are the depth of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him.” – Psalm 95:4

 “…to appoint unto them that mourn, and give them beauty for ashes…” – Isaiah 61:3

It ain’t over till it’s over”- Yogi Berra 😊

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Contemplating Life


This Great Smoky Mountains ephemeral, after-the-storm panorama marked the close of another day. The scene evoked a juxtaposed, sobering/joyful contemplation of life’s unknown brevity, and breathtaking beauty. As dusk fell, the confident wisdom of a beloved preacher comforted my thoughts:

What is your life? You are but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

James 4:14

This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24

I’ve read the last chapter of Revelation, and we win .”

Billy Graham

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Three Final Choices


Hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains I wandered upon an old cemetery. Treading in a hush of reverent silence, I carefully meandered among the grave-sites reading tombstone inscriptions. Three thoughts surfaced . . . no pun intended 😊

Old Elkmont Cemetery
  1. The uncertainty and brevity of life – several tombstones marked the graves of infants, who left and returned to Heaven the same day.
Infant Tombstone

2. ‘Have and Have Not’ disparities remain until death – among those tombstones artfully engraved with poignant parting thoughts were those marked with simple, anonymous stones.

Tombstones

3. After eight decades, I’m forever grateful to still be able to fog a mirror – odds on, I’ll be taking up residence with this quiet congregation sooner than most still above ground.

The World Economic Forum reports the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest in society has grown during the pandemic and continues to widen.

  1. For 99% of the global population, incomes have fallen and over 160 million more people have been forced into poverty.
  2. This inequality is contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people a day. Every four seconds one of the inhabitants we share this planet with perishes through hunger, lack of potable water, lack of access to life-saving healthcare, and other basic life needs. 
  3. Since 1995, the top 1% have captured nearly 20 times more of global wealth than the bottom 50 % of humanity.

Few reside in the rare stratosphere of the 1% . . . if you do, please call me . . . Collect! 😊. However, few of us can recall the last time we were truly hungry; parched for a sip of clean water; without access to health care; homeless without shelter, etc., etc., etc. Bottom line . . . as Americans we are richly and undeservedly blessed!

Someday this world’s playing field will be leveled, no more disparities, and we will all face the final quintessential disparity . . . Heaven or Hell. Our Creator has graciously narrowed Eternity’s destiny to 1 of 3 final choices each of us must make, no abstentions allowed:

  1. Accept
  2. Reject
  3. Ignore

Jesus

Salvation is found in no one else. for there is no other name under Heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”. –  Acts 4:12

My prayer remains we’ll share Heaven together with Him.

Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

WORRY


Worry is no joke! Its stress causes serious problems. Worry’s stress hormones in the brain have been linked to shrinking brain mass; lowering IQ; heart disease; cancer; premature aging; predicting martial problems; family dysfunction; clinical depression; and making seniors more prone to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Some 500 hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened. In 2015, long before Covid added to this world’s worried stress overload, an article published in the now-closed Huff Post reported on a study that confirms Montaigne’s humorous, but sadly spot-on quip.

In this study, subjects were asked to write down their worries over an extended period of time and then identify how their perceived misfortunes actually materialized. The results were as follows:

  • 85 % of what subjects worried about never happened.
  • With the 15 % that did happen, 79 % of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning.
  • This means that 97 % of worries consists of self-inflicted, mind punishing, fearful exaggerations and misconceptions.

That leaves just 3 % of legitimate worries that most likely will happen just as imagined, regardless of whatever mitigating interventions may be implemented.

Perhaps there’s a tad of subtle credibility in Mad Magazine’s smiling, half-wit icon, Alfred E. Neuman’s motto. . . What, Me Worry? However, Alfred’s humorous motto is unrealistic, wishful thinking.

Truth is, some 2,000 years ago, One who carries the worries of each of us stated worry’s ultimate, one-day-at-a-time, remedy:

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:31

Peace . . . Hope . . . Joy . . . Love


Clouds abated today and sunshine peeked through, a welcome respite from a lengthy stretch of stormy weather . . . and I heard the mountains calling.

John Muir once said, “You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you” . . . and today they moved in.

High among mountain cathedrals’ majesty, blanketed in pristine virgin white, He silently whispered to my soul in the solitude . . . Peace, Hope, Joy and Love . . . so thirsted for in the world below me.

Scripture tells us that faith can move mountains . . . climbing mountains always moves my faith to greater heights, wishing I could linger longer.

I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

Chugach Vista
Contented Footprints
Talkeetna Vista

Seasons Exchange


Snows receding from the mountains . . .

Trumpeter swans nesting on the lake . . .

Spring relinquishing to Summer . . .

Seasons exchange in the Land of the Midnight Sun

 “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

                                           
Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Giants in the Clouds
Trumpeter Swans