Your Life Is Not Your Own

german

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

This is a re-post of an article that I posted a couple of years ago around Memorial Day. It is a powerful message that you will not soon forget. This an amazing account of incredible sacrifice during World War 2 involving simple towns people. Warning: Tissues WILL be required!

Around this time each year, Memorial Day, I am reminded of a story that I once heard. Though the exactness of it I cannot confirm, I am assured its basis is quite factual, and its message definitely deserves to be retold.

The story is of a man, Andrew, who was known all his life for selfless sacrifice and good works. He always stood in defense of the defenseless, and toiled without tiring, standing up for the downtrodden and underprivileged. As he grew old, and people tried to honor him for his well-lived life of service, he was reluctant to accept the praise and attention that his community desired to heap upon him. It was then, for the first time, that he told a story that had burned deep in his heart and was hard for him to relate.

Andrew was a young man, thirteen years old and living in Austria, when the Germans invaded. The Austrians, brave and proud, decided to fight back. In the town where Andrew lived, the men and teenage boys organized and destroyed a power plant that the Germans relied on to continue their war effort. The men and boys all knew this would cause great hardship on themselves as well, for they also relied on the power from the plant. But the thing they had not counted on was the swift and severe retribution that would come from the Nazi invaders.

The next morning, before the sun was even up, trucks rolled into town. Soon, the sound of marching soldiers was heard in the streets. The men and boys of the town, twelve years old and older, were ordered to the town square. Andrew found himself standing in a line with the other men and boys, still trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes.

The commanding officer berated them, and told them they were fools to think they could stand against the might of the German army. He told them they were nothing, and their minuscule efforts would not slow down the German war effort, but it would hurt them because a price was going to be paid for their rebellion. He then said that every 20th man in the line would be shot.

As each 20th man was pulled from the line and marched away, Andrew looked down the line and started counting. With horror, he realized that he stood in a 20th position. He trembled with fear as the soldiers moved closer and closer to him, and the shots started to ring out at the edge of town where the unfortunate men were being taken.

As the Germans continued to move down the line, Andrew could see others counting and their eyes turning to him with a look of pity and concern. Andrew found himself wanting to flee, but too frightened to move. Even if he tried to run, the soldiers on the trucks, with the mounted machine guns, would cut him down before he could get ten yards.

But then, in the instant that the last man before Andrew was pulled from the line, the Germans turned their eyes away, and Andrew felt a hand on his shoulder. The hand tightened quickly, and before he knew what had happened, he was jerked forcibly over one spot, and the old man who had been standing next to him moved swiftly to switch positions.

Andrew looked up at the silver haired man and the man smiled. Just before he was taken from the line and led away, the old man spoke quietly to Andrew. “Your life is no longer just your own. Live it for both of us.”
Andrew watched silently as the old man disappeared from view toward the edge of the village. His heart jumped as the shots sounded, shots that Andrew knew should have been his own. In that instant, tears flowing down his face, he determined he would indeed live his life for both of them. From that day he had tried to live so that the unknown old man would have felt his sacrifice was well repaid.

Each time I consider the flags flying by the many graves in the cemetery, thinking back on Andrew’s story, I realized that no one’s life belongs just to them. Each of us owes a debt to many who have paid prices through hardship, hard work, and even the sacrifice of their lives, from which we have benefited.

With the wind gently whipping the flags in the breeze, I, too, renewed my own dedication in how I live my life.
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(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at daris@darishoward.com; or visit his website athttp://www.darishoward.com)

Children and Their Pets

beautyoverseas

Photo Credit: Beautyoverseas.com

There is nothing more precious and heartwarming than seeing pictures of little children with their pets There is a special relationship between humans and their pets…even more so with kids. So, without further ado, I will post some pictures of these touching relationships thst will certainly bring a song to your soul and a smile to your face.

Enjoy!!

Buzzfeed

Photo Credit: Buzzfeed.com

Elly Prestegaard

Photo Credit: Elly Prestegaard

Julieanneimages via Flickr

Photo Credit: Julieanneimages.com

South Orange Humane Society Flickr

Photo Credit: South Orange Humane Society

Tumblir

Photo Credit: Tumblir

Volodymyr Rozhko

Photo Credit: Volodymyr-Rozhko

Tumblir 2

Photo Credit: Tumblir

Tumblir 3

Photo Credit: Tumblir

youtube

Photo Credit: YouTube

ascabras

Photo Credit: Ascabras

 

I hope you enjoyed these awesome images. 

I will post more pictures in a future post…if there is enough interest to do so!

Have an awesome day!

 

The Beautiful Heart

People literally spend millions and millions of dollars every year on beauty aids, enhancements, and surgeries just so they can look younger, prettier, sexier, etc. The sad thing is this: no matter how much time and effort a person tries to make themselves appear younger or look better, they will still get old…in other words…you can’t beat Mother Nature.

Brandon Zierer

Photo Credit: Brandon Zierer via CC Flickr

So…what should a person focus their time and energy on each day? The answer is this…THEIR HEART because this is what a person is REALLY made of. The following story is a terrific example of this concept. It illustrates to us in a picturesque way about the true beauty of an individual.

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One day, in a heavily crowded place, a young man was shouting at the crowd.

“People look at me; I have the most beautiful heart in the world.”

Many people looked at him and were stunned to see the beautiful heart in a perfect shape, no little flaw, which looked quite amazing. Most of the people who saw his heart was mesmerized by the beauty of his heart and praised him.

However, there came an old man and challenged the young man, “No my son, I have got the most beautiful heart in the world!”

The young man asked, “Show me your heart, then!”

The old man showed his heart to him. It was very rough, uneven, and had scars all over the heart. Also, the heart was not in shape, appeared like bits and pieces joined together in various colors. There were some rough edges, some part of the heart were removed and filled with other pieces.

The heart of the old man simply looked like various pieces of heart joined together and formed as a heart.

The young man started laughing at his heart, “My dear old man, are you mad? See, my heart! How beautiful and flawless it is. You cannot find even a bit of imperfection in my heart. See, yours. It is full of scars, wounds and blemishes. How can you say your heart is beautiful?”

“Dear boy, my heart is just so beautiful as your heart is. Did you see the scars? Each scar represents the love I shared with a person. I share a piece of heart with others when I share love and in return I get a piece of heart, which I fix at the place where I had torn a piece!” said the old man.

The young man was shocked.

And the old man continued. “Since the pieces of heart I shared were neither equal nor in the same shape or size, my heart is full of uneven edges and bits and pieces.” “My heart is not in shape because sometimes I never get the love in return from those I gave it. So where do you see the real beauty? Your heart which looks fresh and fuller with no scars which indicates you never shared love with anybody. Did you?”

The young man stood still and never spoke a word. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He walked to the old man, tore a piece of his heart and gave the piece to the old man. 

Many people give importance and respect to physical beauty. Yet, physical appearance isn’t the real beauty…the heart is! Like the old adage says: “Beauty really is only skin deep!”

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Source: kidsworldfun.com

Pictures That Speak Volumes #71

Old Stuff Magazine

Photo Credit: Old Stuff Magazine

This is an incredible photo that shows the beautiful silent language that animals sometimes share with humans. I believe that animals can sense when people are hurting, suffering, or experiencing times of despair or hardships.

There are times when I feel that animals were put on this earth for not only the enjoyment of the human race but also for healing, joy, and comfort.

Look at the absolute happiness and delight in this crippled person’s eyes…proving once again, that a photo really is worth a thousand words!!

The Day Jim Brown Fought Muhammad Ali

Sportsgrid

Photo Credit: Sportsgrid.com

Here’s an interesting account of the day Hall of Fame footballer, Jim Brown fought boxing legend, Muhammad Ali.

I think we have all wondered at some time in our lives what it would be like if two super heroes got together and fought it out. Superman vs. Iron Man. The Rock vs. The Incredible Hulk. Batman vs. Captain America. But what about famous sports stars or Hall of Famers?

This is an amazing story, written by Ryan Wilson, that I found a while ago, about two of the greatest athletes of all time and the one time that they faced off against each other. This is a short but fascinating account of this meeting.

During his nine-year playing career, Hall of Famer and former Browns running back Jim Brown was known for his unmatched athleticism and legendary toughness. Not only was he the best player of his era, he was one of the best players ever. In addition to what he accomplished on the football field, in college at Syracuse, Brown was a second-team All-American in basketball and a first-team All-American in lacrosse.

Given that he excelled at just about anything he tried, it’s not surprising that Brown briefly considered boxing after he retired from the NFL in 1965 at the age of 29. Specifically: Brown wanted to get in the ring with then-heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. And not just for a sparring match but for a full-on fight.

Brown had introduced promoter Bob Arum to Ali, so Arum felt that he owed Brown the courtesy of at least checking with the heavyweight champ to gauge his interest. This was 1966, Brown was a year removed from football and pursuing his acting career, and Ali was 24 and in his prime.

So Arum took Brown’s message to the champ. The details, via this fantastic profile of Arum (who turns 81 Saturday) by Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix.

“So I went to talk to Ali,” Arum told Mannix. “He says, ‘Jim wants to do what? Bring him here.’ So I took him to Hyde Park in London, where Ali used to run. Ali said, ‘Jimmy, here’s what we’re going to do: You hit me as hard as you can.’ So Brown starts swinging and swinging, and he can’t hit him. He’s swinging wildly and not even coming close. This goes on for, like, 30 seconds. Then Ali hits him with this quick one-two to his face. Jimmy just stops and says, ‘OK, I get the point.'”

Think about that for a second. Jim Brown — who routinely trucked some the biggest, strongest and fastest athletes on the planet — couldn’t even touch Ali…that is mind-blowing!

 

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Read more stories on my publications site at http://www.broowaha.com/articles/16465/the-day-jim-brown-fought-muhammad-ali#EVlu8v6MHMLYFI2b.99

Three Kinds of Friends

Nick Russill

Photo Credit: Nick Russill via CC Flickr

Throughout the duration of our lifetime, there are many people that come into our lives. Each one of them has an unique effect on us…each in their own way.

Generally speaking, people come into your life in one of three ways: a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly.  They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  They may seem like a godsend, and they are.  They are there for the reason you need them to be.  Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.  Sometimes they die.  Sometimes they walk away.  Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.  What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled;  their work is done.  The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.  They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.  They may teach you something you have never done.  They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.  Believe it!  It is real!  But, only for a season.

Lastly, there are people that come into your life that will last a lifetime. LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.  Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway);  and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.  It is said that love is blind but great friendships last forever.

Why Life Is Like a Camera…

Martin Pettitt

Photo Credit: Martin Pettitt via CC Flickr

There are many times in our lives when life seems good…everything is going well, we are healthy, making money, have plenty of food to eat, we have great families and friends, and the list goes on.

But sometimes, the tables get turned and we  can become sad or bitter or discouraged. It is during these “down” times that we can remember the simple lessons of a camera. They are as follows:

FOCUS on what’s important

CAPTURE the good times

DEVELOP from the negatives

And if things don’t work out….

TAKE ANOTHER SHOT!

The Five Fingers of Prayers

Michael Goghlan

Photo Credit: Michael Goghlan via CC Flickr

I came across this little, fun way to pray many, many years ago that I always thought was a pretty good idea and a terrific way to remember not only who or what to pray for…but HOW to pray.

This is beautiful – and it is surely worth making the 5 finger prayer a part of our lives!

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1.Your thumb is nearest you.

So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you.

They are the easiest to remember.

To pray for our loved ones is,

as C. S. Lewis once said, a “sweet duty.”

2. The next finger is the pointing finger.

Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal.

This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers.

They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction.

Keep them in your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger.

It reminds us of our leaders.

Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators.

These people shape our nation and guide public opinion.

They need God’s guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger.

Surprising to many is the fact that is our weakest finger,

as any piano teacher will testify.

It should remind us to pray for those who are weak,

trouble or in pain.

They need prayers day and night.

You cannot pray too much for them.

5. And lastly comes our little finger

– the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves

in relation to God and others.

As the Bible says, “The least shall be the greatest among you.”

Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself.

By the time you have prayed for the other four groups,

your own needs will be put into proper perspective

and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

Showing Compassion to Others – Pictures That Speak Volumes #70

Monkey Saving Puppy

I think that this is a terrific picture that shows the simple and pure compassion that an animal can show to another creature in a time of great danger. It is probably safe to say that this monkey saved the life of this puppy. Simply an incredible picture!

It makes me think of how much more, we as human beings…who are more intelligent and knowledgeable than animals…can treat other human beings with love, care and compassion. Too many individuals waste too much of their time here on earth being mean, judgmental, and thoughtless to others. Imagine what a better place YOUR WORLD would be if you took the time each day to help others and find ways to be an encouragement and blessing to them.

Remember the monkey!!

“You Are My Sunshine”

SONY DSC

Photo Credit: Ronnie Meijer via CC Flickr

We all know and have heard the old adage about the “power of love.” Love is not jealous. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it  is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Simply put…Love never ends.

Love can also strengthen the spirit, uplift the soul, and heal the body. Such is the case for this beautiful story. It shows the incredible bond and the love between a brother and sister and the true, positive power that it can possess. (Tissues may be required 🙂

Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling.

The new baby was going be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sang to his sister in Mommy’s tummy. He was building a bond of love with his little sister before he even met her.

The pregnancy progressed normally for Karen, an active member of the the Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tennessee, USA.

In time, the labor pains came. Soon it was every five minutes, every three, every minute. But serious complications arose during delivery and Karen found herself in hours of labor.

Finally, after a long struggle, Michael’s little sister was born. But she was in very serious condition. With a siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushed the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital, Knoxville, Tennessee.

The days inched by. The little girl got worse. The pediatrician had to tell the parents there was very little hope. Be prepared for the worst. Karen and her husband contacted a local cemetery about a burial plot. They had fixed up a special room in their house for their new baby they found themselves having to plan for a funeral.

Michael, however, kept begging his parents to let him see his sister. “I want to sing to her,” he kept saying.

Week two in intensive care looked as if a funeral would come before the week was over. Michael kept nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care.

Karen decided to take Michael whether they liked it or not. If he didn’t see his sister right then, he may never see her alive. She dressed him in an oversized scrub suit and marched him into ICU. He looked like a walking laundry basket.

The head nurse recognized him as a child and bellowed, “Get that kid out of here now. No children are allowed.”

The mother rose up strong in Karen and the usually mild-mannered lady glared steel-eyed right into the head nurse’s eyes, her lips a firm line, “He is not leaving until he sings to his sister.”

Then Karen towed Michael to his sister’s bedside. He gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live. After a moment, he began tossing. In the pure-hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sang:

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray.”

Instantly the baby girl seemed to respond. The pulse rate began to calm down and became steady.

“Keep on singing, Michael,” encouraged Karen with tears in her eyes.

“You never know, dear, how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away.”

As Michael sang to his sister, the baby’s ragged, strained breathing became as smooth as a kitten’s purr. “Keep on singing, sweetheart.”

“The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms”.

Michael’s little sister began to relax as rest, healing rest, seemed to sweep over her. “Keep singing, Michael.” Tears had now conquered the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glowed.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don’t take my sunshine away…”

The next day,…the very next day…the little girl was well enough to go home.

Keeping A Dream Alive: A Story of Perseverance and Courage

 

Sarah Ackerman

Photo Credit: Sarah Ackerman via CC Flickr

There are many things that a person may endure in a lifetime that may require an incredible amount of courage and perseverance such as dealing with a disease, a health condition, a family tragedy, or a host of other circumstances. Throughout these times and down through the ages, two types of people usually emerge from these trying times: individuals that give up on life and become depressed, miserable, and despondent or, a person that shows strength, courage and perseverance who overcomes the adverse situation and becomes an encouragement and inspiration to others.

 Today’s story is a tremendous illustration of astonishing courage and unbelievable commitment. It is my hope that it will serve as a reminder of the strength and power of the human spirit…one that we all might be able to use if needed.

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The Brooklyn Bridge that spans over the river tying Manhattan Island to Brooklyn is truly a miracle bridge. In 1863, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea for this spectacular bridge. However, bridge building experts throughout the world told him to forget it: it could not be done.

Roebling convinced his son, Washington, who was an up and coming engineer, that the bridge could be built. The two of them developed the concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With unharnessed excitement and inspiration, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge.

The project was only a few months under construction when a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling and severely injured his son, Washington. Washington was left with permanent brain damage and was unable to speak or walk. Everyone felt that the project would have to be scrapped since the Roeblins were the only ones that knew how the bridge could be built.

Even though Washington was unable to move or talk, his mind was as sharp as ever, and he still had a burning desire to complete the bridge. An idea hit him as he lay in his hospital bed, and he developed a code for communication. All he could move was one finger, so he touched the arm of his wife with that finger, tapping out the code to communicate to her what to tell the engineers who were building the bridge.

For thirteen years, Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger until the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge was finally completed!!!

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So, when things get tough and it seems like all hope is gone…BE PERSISTENT and have the COURAGE and you WILL PREVAIL!!!

The Lesson of Accomplishment – From An Oyster!

Ylvers

Photo Credit: Ylvers via CC Pixabay

Throughout a lifetime, there are many times and situations that people that can have either a positive or negative effect on their pursuit of accomplishing a goal. Some individuals get discouraged, disheartened, or dispirited when some obstacles get in their way and they simply give up or lose focus on attaining their desired objective. Other people take a bad circumstance and decide to make “lemonade out of lemons.”

 Today’s little poem is a story about an oyster that will serve as a reminder of how we can successfully accomplish our goals that we set in our life despite some things may cause us pain along the way.

 

The once was an oyster whose story I tell,

Who found that sand had gotten under its shell:

Just one little grain, but it gave it much pain,

For oysters have feelings although they’re so plain.

 

Now, did it berate the working of fate,

Which had led it to such a deplorable state?

Did it curse out the government,

Call for an election?

No. As it lay on the shelf,

It said to itself,

“If I cannot remove it,

I’ll try to improve it.”

 

So the years rolled by as the years always do,

And it came to its ultimate destiny – stew.

But this small grain of sand which had bothered it so,

Was a beautiful pearl, all richly aglow.

 

Now this tale has a moral – for isn’t it grand?

What an oyster can do with a grain of sand.

What couldn’t we do if we’d only begin

With all of the things that get under our skin.