A Story of Christmas Magic

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Photo Credit: Dragon Lady via Flickr

One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season, is finding interesting and heartwarming stories that touch your soul and put a smile on your face. Well. today, I was reading some stories on the web page “The Gathering Place” and came across this story. Even though the author is unknown, I felt that it was a sweet little tale to share with you! Please be prepared…a box if tissues may be required.

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Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl.

“Who is this?” asked Santa, smiling. “Your friend? Your sister?”

“Yes, Santa,” he replied. “My sister, Sarah, who is very sick,” he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

“She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!” the child exclaimed. “She misses you,” he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy’s face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas.

When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

“What is it?” Santa asked warmly.

“Well, I know it’s really too much to ask you, Santa, but ….” the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa’s elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors.

“…The girl in the photograph … my granddaughter . well, you see … she has leukemia and isn’t expected to make it even through the holidays,” she said through tear-filled eyes. “Is there any way, Santa . any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That’s all she’s asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa.”

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do.

Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do.

“What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying,” he thought with a sinking heart, “this is the least I can do.”

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children’s Hospital.

“Why?” Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah’s grandmother earlier that day.

“C’mon …. I’ll take you there,” Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.

Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl’s brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah’s mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah’s thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah’s aunt, sat in a Chair near the bed ! with weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, “Ho, ho, ho!”

“Santa!” shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact.

Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son — 9 years old — gazed up at him with wonder and excitement.

Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he ad to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah’s face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.

As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa’s shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering “thank you” as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.

Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she’d been a very good girl that year.

As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl’s mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah’s bed, holding hands.

Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.

“Oh, yes, Santa … I do!” she exclaimed.

“Well, I’m going to ask that angels watch over you,” he said.

Laying one hand on the child’s head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still
with eyes closed, he started singing softly,

“Silent Night, Holy Night …. all is calm, all is bright.”

The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah’s frail, small hands in his own.

“Now, Sarah,” he said authoritatively, “you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!”

He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he “had” to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could — not dolls or games or toys — but the gift of HOPE.

“Yes, Santa!” Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room.

Out in the hall, the minute Santa’s eyes met Rick’s, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed.

Sarah’s mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa’s side to thank him.

“My only child is the same age as Sarah,” he explained quietly. “This is the least I could do.”

They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap.

“Hi, Santa! Remember me?!”

“Of course, I do,” Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a “good” Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the “only” child in the world at that moment.

“You came to see me in the hospital last year!”

Santa’s jaw dropped. Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest.
“Sarah!” he exclaimed.

He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy — much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before.

He looked over and saw Sarah’s mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed — and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about — this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, “Thank you, Father. ‘Tis a very, Merry Christmas!”

A Pleasant Reminder of the Reason for Thanksgiving

img_20131128_182723One of my favorite time of each year is the celebration of Thanksgiving and all that it entails. Meeting with family, friends, and relatives…eating the Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings…playing football in the cool weather then coming into a warm house and smelling all of the scrumptious food…watching NFL football games on TV…or simply going around the dinner table and listening to each person share the things that they are thankful for.

Thanksgiving is truly a time to give thanks. We have SO MUCH that we should be thankful for but sometimes, we can forget just how much we have been blessed. The following story, that was conveyed by Cary Schmidt, is a cute little story that (I hope) will serve as a reminder to the many blessings that we have been given.

Two old friends met each other on the street one day.  One looked forlorn, almost on the verge of tears.  His friend asked, “What has the world done to you, my old friend?”

The sad fellow said, “Let me tell you:  three weeks ago, my uncle died and left me forty thousand dollars.”

“That’s a lot of money.”

“But you see, two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left me eighty-five thousand dollars, free and clear.”

“Sounds to me that you’ve been very blessed.”

“You don’t understand!” he interrupted.  “Last week my great-aunt passed away.  I inherited almost a quarter of a million from her.”

Now the man’s friend was really confused.  “Then, why do you look so glum?”

“This week . . . nothing!

That’s a problem with receiving something on a regular basis.  Even if it is a gift, we eventually come to expect it.  The natural tendency is that if we receive a gift long enough, we come to view it almost as an entitlement.  We feel hurt, even angry if we don’t receive it any longer.

It is the same way with the blessings God gives us every day.  I don’t deserve the comfortable home that I live in, the beautiful scenery around me, the clean water I drink.  But after receiving these gifts (and a multitude of others) for years, I sometimes fail to be grateful.  I’ve come to expect these good things.  And when one of them is removed for a short time (like water or electricity or the internet going down), I get upset.

Let’s make an effort today to recognize the blessing we’ve come to take for granted.  Focus on what we have rather than on what we don’t have, and see if it doesn’t improve our attitudes.

A Marvelous Kind of Medicine

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There is a medicine that has been around for thousands of years and has been used by millions of people around the world in every culture known to man. It is known for its power to change the way people feel about themselves and have a powerful and positive effect on people that are experiencing anxiety, low self-esteem, anger, depression, and a host of other issues.

The great thing about this medicine is that it will cost you nothing and is available for your use at any time, anywhere.

What is this marvelous medicine? Where can you find it?

Simple. It is called kindness. It is available at any time of day and you can use it wherever you may be.

You see, kindness is an amazing and powerful thing, The simple act of being kind to people and developing a habit of thinking of others instead of focusing on ourselves can have a huge, positive effect on an individual’s total well-being.

Let’s see what the positive impact kindness can have on a person who consistently uses this practice…

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Like many medicines that treat depression, kindness stimulates the production of serotonin which is known as the “feel-good” chemical. Seratonin assists in healing wounds, relaxation and is responsible for making people happy.

Acts of kindness can be very contagious. Once someone witnesses another person perform an act of kindness to another individual, they, in turn, will use it to help others. You can see this happen quite often. For example, a person is going to enter a building and the person in front of them stops and holds the door open for them. Sometime later, that person holds the door open for someone else. These actions can create “domino effect” and can improve the day of many people!

It has been shown that kindness can actually reduce a certain amount of pain that a person may be experiencing. When an individual does something nice, their brain releases hormones called endorphins to the nervous system. These hormones interact with receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine.

It that been found that people who are kind have 23% less cortisol in their bodies than people who are living under stressful conditions. This results in a person’s ability to have lower blood pressure and stress levels. Cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone” and can have adverse effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems. Perpetually kind people also age slower! According to Dr. David Hamilton, not only does acts of kindness lower blood pressure, but it also creates emotional warmth, which releases the “love hormone” called oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of the chemical nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. which in turn reduces blood pressure and protects the heart.

Research from Emory University proved that when people are kind to another person, an individual’s brain’s pleasure and reward centers “light up”…as if that person was the recipient of the good deed…not the giver. This phenomenon is otherwise known as the “helper’s high.”

In a study done by the University of British Columbia, it was demonstrated that a group of people who were classified as “highly anxious individuals” performed as little as six acts of kindness a week for a month. After that one month, participants reported an increase in positive moods, relationships, and a decrease in socially anxious people.

Another interesting fact about the power of kindness was reported by Mr. Stephen Post of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine who discovered that when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced and well-being and good fortunes are increased.

In addition to the aforementioned information, people which practice consistent acts of kindness also enjoy other attributes of a quality life. In a 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that people who were altruistic…in this case, people who were generous with their money…were the happiest overall.

Lastly, individuals who steadily show kindness to others can have a longer lifespan. According to Christine Carter, Author, “Raising Happiness in Pursuit of Joyful Kids and Happier Parents”, people who volunteer their time, tend to have fewer aches and pains. giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an incredible 44% lower likelihood of dying early…and that’s after eliminating other contributing factors such as physical health, smoking habits, exercise, gender, and a host of other things.

(Resource: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org)

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There are two great quotes about kindness from two well-known people that I would like to leave with you…

The great philosopher, Aesop, once stated one of my favorite quotes regarding kindness…“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Mark Twain, the legendary American author, once said about kindness… “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” 

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So, increase your quality of life today…go out and be kind to someone today. It will make you feel great, make your life happier, increase your physical well-being, build your self-esteem, and lead to good fortune!

 

 

Conquering the Barriers of Life

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Discouragement. Frustration. Exasperation. Defeated. These are just a few words that describe the way many people feel when they fall short of achieving a goal that they have set for themselves. Failing to reach a goal can test one’s patience to its limits and, if not attained, can lead to an individual to just quit and give up.

It is an important concept to remember that the “answer” or the accomplishment of achieving your goal may be just around the corner…if you are persistent and don’t give up.

Consider the following story…

A marine biologist was involved in an experiment with a shark. He placed a shark in a tank along with other small bait fishes.

As expected, the shark ate every single fish.

The marine biologist then inserted a clear fiberglass to create two sections within the tank.  He placed the shark in one section and smaller fished in the other section.

The shark quickly attacked, but then he bounced off the fiberglass. The shark kept on repeating this behavior. It just wouldn’t stop trying.

While the small fish in the other section remained unharmed and carefree. After about an hour, the shark finally gave up.

This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks. Each time, the shark got less aggressive. Eventually the shark got tired and simply stopped attacking altogether.

The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass. The shark, however, didn’t attack. It was trained to believe in the existence of a barrier between it and the bait fish.

It is good to remember that many of us, after experiencing setbacks and failures, emotionally give up and stop trying. Like the shark, we chose to stay with past failure and believe that we will always be unsuccessful. We build a barrier in our heads, even when there is no ‘real’ barrier between where we are and where we want to go. Don’t give up. Keep trying because success may be just a try away.

Do It All the Way

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Time really does fly and unfortunately, this thing called “life” really does become busy and gets into our way from allowing us to do the things that we love to do. Whether it be enjoying our favorite hobbies, visiting the eatery of our choice, going on a date with our special loved one, or simply spending time with our friends, we all need to carve out some time throughout our lives, to make sure that we are fully enjoying the fullness and blessings of life.

A little while ago, I received the unfortunate and sad news that one of my childhood buddies had suddenly passed away. I felt horrible. We always told each other how much we wanted to get together, hang out, have some good laughs, and reminisce about our “glory days.” We had gotten together sporadically over the years and had recently decided to make plans for a get-together. It never happened. He passed away suddenly after a simple procedure went horribly wrong and he was gone. I felt saddened and dismayed about the whole situation, but it made me realize, even more so than ever, how precious our life is and how much we need to spend as much time doing the things we enjoy…even if it means that we sacrifice some of the “busy things” in our life.

You never know how much time you have left with the ones you love. I thought that I had more time. I didn’t know that so many moments were the lasts. I have learned this: instead of living with the fear of the lasts, live with love for all the moments. Even the ones you are pulling your hair out and screaming…don’t do it halfway. Do it all the way, and don’t let those moments escape you.

Dive in fully.

Soak them up.

Live.

Love.

Savor it all.

Giving Someone A Push

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Have you ever had a want, desire, or dram that you have always wanted to accomplish in your life and just never saw it come to fruition? Or, how many of us have a job or project that we would like to do but just haven’t gotten around to get it done? If you are like most people, all they need is that little motivation or push to get them going…once they get going…they finish well. We need someone to give us that extra push.

Such is the case in a story that I discovered a while ago written by Irene Sax in Newsday which demonstrates this thought in a great way.

Jean Nidetch, a 214-pound homemaker desperate to lose weight, went to the New York City Department of Health, where she was given a diet devised by Dr. Norman Jolliffe.

Two months later, discouraged about the 50 plus pounds still to go, she invited six overweight friends home to share the diet and talk about how to stay on it.

Today, 28 years later, one million members attend 250,000 Weight Watchers meetings in 24 countries every week.

Why was Nidetch able to help people take control of their lives?

To answer that, she tells a story.

When she was a teen-ager, she used to cross a park where she saw mothers gossiping while the toddlers sat on their swings, with no one to push them. “I’d give them a push,” says Nidetch. “And you know what happens when you push a kid on a swing? Pretty soon he’s pumping, doing it himself. That’s what my role in life is–I’m there to give others a push.”

Who will be the person or group of people that you will help “push” today?

 

What I Learned From the Easter Bunny

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Throughout my life, I have been blessed to listen to many inspiring, motivational, and heartwarming speakers. I have met a lot of famous people and rubbed elbows with the “rich and famous.” But of all the people that I have ever met and listened to, none of them were more inspirational than one of the most well-known entities of all-time…that’s right…the Easter Bunny,

It is my hope that these great words of wisdom will touch your heart as much as they do mine 🙂
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What I learned from the Easter Bunny……

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.

There’s no such thing as too much candy.

All work and no play can make you a basket case.

A cute tail attracts a lot of attention.

Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.

Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.

Some body parts should be floppy.

Keep your paws off of other people’s jelly beans.

Good things come in small, sugar coated packages.

The grass is always greener in someone else’s basket.

To show your true colors, you have to come out of the shell.

The best things in life are still sweet and gooey.

May the joy of the season fill your heart.
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Remember: “A true friend is someone who thinks you are a good egg 
even though they know you are slightly cracked.” 🙂

When Life Isn’t Fair

Proactive Coaching
Photo Credit: Via Proactive Coaching

Have you had times in your life when everything seems to go wrong and nothing that you can say or do goes right? People get a flat tire on a way to a meeting. Someone slept through their alarm clock and got to work late.  A person loses their car keys and will be late for an appointment. The list goes on and on.  You might decide to make excuses for other things…things that you may have wanted to do your whole life but haven’t, a failed relationship, a job that you never finished, etc. Some people make excuses for everything and never get anyhting accomplished.

Let me tell you a short story that I recently came across that was found on the site, “Proactive Coaching,” that I think will illustrate the power of NOT making excuses and performing to the fullest talents and gifts that you possess.

Look at the picture above. This is Jim Thorpe and you can see that he’s wearing different socks and shoes. This wasn’t a fashion statement. It was the 1912 Olympics, and Jim, an American Indian from Oklahoma represented the U.S. in track and field. On the morning of his competitions, his shoes were stolen. Luckily, Jim ended up finding two shoes in a garbage can. That’s the pair that he’s wearing in the photo. But one of the shoes was too big, so he had to wear an extra sock. Wearing these shoes, Jim won two gold medals that day.

This is a perfect reminder that you don’t have to resign to the excuses that have held you back. So, what if life hasn’t been fair? What are you going to do about it today? Whatever you woke up with this morning; stolen shoes, ill health, failed relationships, don’t let it stop you from running your race. You can experience more in life if you’ll get over the excuses and get on with living.

You can have reasons, or you can have results…but you can’t have both.

Special Note (from Wikipedia):

Thorpe’s monument, featuring the quote from Gustav V (“You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.”), still stands near the town named for him, Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.[17] The grave rests on mounds of soil from Thorpe’s native Oklahoma and from the stadium in which he won his Olympic medals.[101]

Thorpe’s achievements received great acclaim from sports journalists, both during his lifetime and since his death. In 1950, an Associated Press poll of almost 400 sportswriters and broadcasters voted Thorpe the “greatest athlete” of the first half of the 20th century.[102] That same year, the Associated Press named Thorpe the “greatest American football player” of the first half of the century.[103] In 1999, the Associated Press placed him third on its list of the top athletes of the century, following Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan.[104] ESPN ranked Thorpe seventh on their list of best North American athletes of the century.[105]

Thorpe was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, one of seventeen players in the charter class.[106] Thorpe is memorialized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame rotunda with a larger-than-life statue. He was also inducted into halls of fame for college football, American Olympic teams, and the national track and field competition.[18]

President Richard Nixon, as authorized by U.S. Senate Joint Resolution 73, proclaimed Monday, April 16, 1973, as “Jim Thorpe Day” to promote the nationwide recognition of Thorpe.[107] In 1986, the Jim Thorpe Association established an award with Thorpe’s name. The Jim Thorpe Award is given annually to the best defensive back in college football. The annual Thorpe Cupathletics meeting is named in his honor.[108] The United States Postal Service issued a 32¢ stamp on February 3, 1998 as part of the Celebrate the Century stamp sheet series.[109]

In a poll of sports fans conducted by ABC Sports, Thorpe was voted the Greatest Athlete of the Twentieth Century out of 15 other athletes including Muhammad AliBabe RuthJesse OwensWayne GretzkyJack Nicklaus, and Michael Jordan.[110][111]

 

Poems to Make You Smile

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There is nothing better when a person is having a bad day than to laugh and smile. Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love to make people laugh and smile. I feel that that is one of my biggest blessings in life. The late Mother Teresa once said, “Let us all meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” It is with that spirit, that I decided to post and few poems that I hope will bring a smile to your face, a moment joy to your heart, and an encouragement to finish your day on a positive note. If one of the following poems have lifted your spirits and have inspired you, feel free to share your blessing with other today!

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Keep on Smiling

~ Poet: Alexandra Skiathitis

If at times you feel you want to cry

And life seems such a trial

Above the clouds there’s a bright blue sky

So make your tears a smile

 

As you travel on life’s way

With its many ups and downs

Remember it’s quite true to say

One smile is worth a dozen frowns

 

Among the world’s expensive things

A smile is very cheap

And when you give a smile away

You get one back to keep

 

Happiness comes at times to all

But sadness comes unbidden

And sometimes a few tears must fall

Among the laughter hidden

 

So when friends have sadness on their face

And troubles round them piled

The world will seem a better place

And all because you smiled!

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A Smile

~ Poet: Unknown

A smile is cheer to you and me

The cost is nothing-it’s given free

It comforts the weary-gladdens the sad

Consoles those in trouble-good or bad

To rich or poor-beggar or thief

It’s free to all of any belief

A natural gesture of young and old

Cheers on the faint-disarms the bold

Unlike most blessings for which we pray

It’s one thing we keep when we give it away.

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Smile

~ Poet: Charlie Chaplin

Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it’s breaking

When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by

If you smile through your fear and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

You’ll see the sun come shining through for you.

 

Light up your face with gladness

Hide every trace of sadness

Although a tear may be ever so near

That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying?

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying?

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile!

If you would like to hear this poem in a song, CLICK HERE! (sung by Natalie Cole)

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Try Smiling

~ Poet: Unknown

When the weather suits you not, Try smiling.

When your coffee isn’t hot, Try smiling.

When your neighbors don’t do right,

Or all of your relatives fight,

Sure ‘tis hard, but you might Try smiling.

 

Doesn’t change the things, of course-Just smiling.

But it cannot make them worse-Just smiling

And it seems to help your case,

Brightens up a gloomy place,

Then, it sort o’ rests your face-Just smiling.

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Gladness Every Morning

~ Poet: Nixon Waterman

Touch your lips with gladness and go singing on your way,

Smiles will strangely lighten every duty;

Just a little word of cheer may span a sky of gray

With hope’s own heaven-tinted bow of beauty.

Wear a pleasant face wherein shall shine a joyful heart,

As shines the sun, the happy fields adorning;

To every care-beclouded life some ray of light impart,

And touch your lips with gladness every morning.

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A Face Without A Smile

~Poet: Unknown

Like a bread without the spreadin’,

Like a mattress without a beddin’,

Like a cart without a hoss,

Like a door without a latchspring,

Like a dry an’ barren creed bed-

Is the face without a smile

 

Like a house without a dooryard,

Like a clock without a mainspring,

That will never tell the hour;

A thing that sort o’ makes yo’ feel

A hunger all the while-

Oh, the saddest sight that ever was

Is a face without a smile!

 

The face of man was built for smiles,

An’ thereby he is blest

Above the critters of the field,

The birds an’ all the rest;

He’s just a little lower

Than the angels in the skies,

An’ the reason is that he can smile;

Therein the glory lies!

 

So smile an’ don’t forget to smile,

An’ smile, an’ smile ag’in

‘Twill help you all along the way,

An’ cheer you mile and mile;

An’ so, whatever is your lot,

Jes’ smile, an’ smile, an’ smile!

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“So, if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected, let’s start an epidemic quick…and get the world infected!” ~ Russel H. Conwell

———————-

Anyone can make you smile,

many people can make you cry,

But it takes someone really special

To make you smile with tears in your eyes!

The Power of the Pow-Wow

 

Andy Wright
Photo Credit: Andy Wright via CC Flickr

One of the worst things that a person experiences throughout their lifetime are negative comments and hurtful words. They can be devastating. They can tear down an individual’s self-esteem, sense of worth, and confidence. It has been said that for every negative comment that is said to someone, that person would then need seven positive remarks to offset that one negative comment.  It has been proven, that when a person is given encouragement and reassuring words, they perform better in their workplace, become happier, and have a deeper sense of value and importance.

Consider this…how much better would people feel and act if positive and heartening words were the norm instead of the common everyday vernacular of negativity?

tribe

Take for example the following African tribe. In this tribe, when someone does something wrong, they take the person to the center of the village where the entire tribe surrounds the individual and for two days say all the good things that the person has done in their life. The tribe believes that each person is good but sometimes people make mistakes which are really a cry for help. They unite to reconnect with them and their good nature.

What a beautiful demonstration of a community’s love and concern for one of their own! Again I ask, shouldn’t we try to emulate this kind of behavior towards our family and friends every day (or when it is needed?)

As some of you know, I am a teacher and a sports coach. A few years ago, one of my teams was going through a tough stretch. There was a lot of in-fighting, accusations, and ill-will between team members. Something had to be done…so, I came up with a plan. The idea was called a “Pow-Wow” mainly because I used to really like the idea of the Native American Indians spending their time together in their tee-pees, fellowshipping and sharing their thoughts and concerns together.

The “Pow-Wow” consisted of all of my players sitting in a circle (myself included), with one of the individuals holding a ball. The person with the ball in their possession was not allowed to speak. One-by-one, each of the other players would share constructive criticism with their teammate. Negative personal comments were not allowed. Once every player “holds the ball,” The process starts over again. This time, nothing but encouraging, reassuring, and emboldening comments are shared. The beautiful result was that when the players left the “Pow-Wow” there was a noticeably higher level of confidence, camaraderie, and team spirit which continued until the end of the season. Those positive and motivating words healed a broken team and helped drive the team to a successful season. I have used this “Pow-Wow” method a few times during my 32 years of coaching and it has ALWAYS lead to fantastic results…all because of positive and uplifting words.

Thus, the Power of the Pow-Wow!

Remember…ONE KIND WORD can change a person’s entire day!!

 

 

The Fog and The Swimmer

Ozge Can
Photo Credit: Ozge Can via CC Flickr

Throughout every person’s life, an individual may have one, or many goals, that they set for themselves. There are many kinds of goals. Whether they are short term, long term or just temporary, the important thing is that we stay consistent, focused and keep our eyes on the goal. There are times when attaining a goal may be easy or other times when it seems like a goal is far, far away and we will never be able to reach it but if we don’t lose heart and keep working hard, a goal can be accomplished. Today’s story is a great example of a person who learned from her weakness, became a stronger, more determined individual and met her goal.

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When she looked ahead, Florence Chadwick saw nothing but a solid wall of fog. Her body was numb. She had been swimming for nearly sixteen hours.

Already she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. She had managed to finish that swim in a record time, 16 hours and 22 minutes on August 8, 1950. Now, at age 34, her goal was to become the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to Palos Verde on the California coast.

On that Fourth of July morning in 1952, the sea was like an ice bath and the fog was so dense she could hardly see her support boats. Sharks cruised toward her lone figure, only to be driven away by rifle shots. Against the frigid grip of the sea, she struggled on – hour after hour – while millions watched on national television.

Alongside Florence in one of the boats, her mother and her trainer offered encouragement. They told her it wasn’t much farther. But all she could see was fog. They urged her not to quit. She never had . . . until then. With only a half mile to go, she asked to be pulled out.

Still thawing her chilled body several hours later, she told a reporter, “Look, I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land I might have made it.” It was not fatigue or even the cold water that defeated her. It was the fog. She was unable to see her goal.

Two months later, she tried again. This time, despite the same dense fog, she swam with her faith intact and her goal clearly pictured in her mind. She knew that somewhere behind that fog was land and this time she made it! Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the Catalina, eclipsing the men’s record by two hours!

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~ Author Unknown ~

Source: inspirationalstories.com

The Extra Degree

Your Best Digs
Photo Credit: Your Best Digs via CC Flickr

It is interesting how many people think that the little things that can happen in life, can really have no significant impact during situations or circumstances that may occur in their lives. They may become careless or thoughtless about words that they say or the actions that they perform. It is an important concept to understand and remember…the little things in life DO MATTER and can leave a significant impact on others.

The “little things” in life, can also lead to great accomplishments and success. It is said that “the difference between an ordinary person and an extraordinary person, is that little EXTRA.” An athlete that takes a little more time than the average player, will become an exceptional player. The same goes for the business world, teachers, coaches, or any other kind of profession…the “little extra” can have a huge impact on the life of an individual.

Consider the following story, written by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson, which demonstrates the power of going the “extra mile” or “the extra degree.”

At 211 degrees, water is hot.

At 212 degrees, water boils.

And with boiling water, comes steam.

And steam can power a locomotive.

One degree makes all the difference.

And, the one degree of effort in business and in life separates the good from the great!

The average margin of victory for the last 25 years in all major professional golf tournaments, combined, was less than three strokes.

The average margin for victory between an Olympic Gold Medal and no medal at all is extremely small. For example, in the 2004 Men’s 800m race, the margin of victory was an incredible 0.71 seconds!

At the Indianapolis 500, the average margin for victory for the past 10 years has been 1.54 seconds. On average, the winner took home $1,278,813, the second place prize was $621,321, a difference of $657,492. (Note, these stats are from a few years ago 😊

It is your life.

You are responsible for the results of it.

It is time to turn up the heat.

To get what we have never had, we must do what we have never done.

You are now aware,

You now have a target for everything you do!

Always Be Your Best

champion

Here is a little poem that I thought that I would share with you today that will, hopefully, encourage and inspire you to “Always Be Your Best!”

When you think it doesn’t matter

If you fail or pass the test.

Keep in mind the reason why

You should always be your best.

 

While the whole world may not notice

If you tried to give it your all,

There is a person in you

To whom it matters when you fall.

 

That little voice inside you –

Which directs your thoughts each day –

will make the final judgment

if you won or lost each day.

 

Never can never fail yourself

If you give it all you’ve got.

The world extends a hand to you

When you give life your best shot.

 

For all that really matters

When you’re finished with your test,

It’s not the final score at all –

But did you do your best?

 

~ Tom Krause

 

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Have an AWESOME Day!!!

The Good Things in Life

Jason Calvert
Photo Credit: Jason Calvert via CC Flickr

It was once said, that when people watch the evening news, the news reporters always open their newscast with “Good Morning or Good Evening” then proceed to go on and tell you why it isn’t. Unfortunately, it appears that there is an untold number of bad and negative occurrences that take place around us each day, and the general demeanor of many people, are increasingly getting more and more depressing daily.

It has also been said that for every one thing negative that a person says to another person, that individual needs to say seven positive things back to the person that they spoke harshly to cancel out that one negative comment.

So, in that spirit, I have decided to give you several quotes that I hope, will encourage you and uplift your spirit. Take some time to “stop and smell the roses” and read some words and notes of encouragement.

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Always look at the good things in life, and never dwell on the negative. If you keep your head down, you’ll miss the blessings

 

I no longer allow the negative things in life to spoil all the good things I have

 

I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY!

 

Don’t let people steal the joy from your life.

 

Always believe…Good things are on the way!

 

Enjoy the little things.

 

Be strong because things will get better. It may be stormy now, but remember…it never rains forever.

 

The best things in life are the people you love, the places you go, and the memories you make.

 

Take a deep breath…it’s a bad day, not a bad life.

 

A single thread of hope…is still a powerful thing!

 

Focus on the good.

 

When you are focused upon how good it is…the good gets better.

 

The greatest things in life are free!

 

Anyone can find the dirt on someone. Be the person who finds the gold!

 

Look for something positive each day…even if some days you may need to look a little harder.

Why do we close our eyes when we pray? When we cry? When we dream? Or when we kiss? Because we know that the most beautiful things in life are not seen, but felt by the heart.

 

Actually, …you can!

 

A happy life does not mean everything around you is perfect…it means choosing to be happy despite knowing the fact that life can never be perfect.

 

Good things take time.

 

Be thankful for the bad things in life. For they opened your eyes to good things you weren’t paying attention before.

 

Beautiful people always wear a smile.

 

Smile…it increases your face value 😊

 

There are only three things that people need in life: water, food, and compliments.

 

Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.

 

Let life surprise you!

 

And last but not least…

Invest in your mind…

Invest in your heart…

Invest in yourself!

Homelessness and the Tyranny of Urgency

unnamed
Photo Credit: Author Unknown

A day or so ago, a friend of mine, who works and ministers to the homeless, sent me the following newsletter that I thought would be a good thing to share with you. Let’s all take a little time each day to consider how fortunate we really are…and how many individuals struggle for food, shelter, and clothes every day! Maybe you can help the unfortunate in your own way.

Here is the story, written by my friend, Paul…

It’s Super Bowl Sunday! Are you running around trying to get everything ready for the party you’re hosting or attending? Have you decided who you’re rooting for? Is the DVR set? Did you add extra time so you can record “This Is Us” after the game? Are you going in late to work tomorrow? Do the kids get to stay up?

If you haven’t got things figured out by now, “time’s a wasting” and you better get to it! The game starts at 6:30PM EST whether you’re ready or not and you might feel stressed because of this. However, I hope we can all agree this is probably not the most important thing happening in your life right now.

The more we get caught up in what is urgent, the more we lose sight of what’s most important. It’s easy to get confused between important and urgent. Urgent is always right in front of us. Urgent is obvious. While urgent can be important, it’s not usually the case.

I believe most days we find ourselves not doing the most important thing but the most urgent thing. Many times it’s because we don’t want to miss out. Experts call it, “FOMO” or Fear Of Missing Out. We’re consumed with social media. No longer do we have to wait for a letter for an update from a friend or the next morning’s newspaper to get details about world news. Almost everything is only a click away and slow download speeds are considered intolerable.

When we get caught up in what seems urgent, we lose sight of what is important. Even worse, we stifle imagination and basically deny ourselves permission to dream about the future. We unconsciously tell our brains there’s no need to create because every moment and thought is being filled in for us. The result is instead of truly living, we’re just existing.

Our friends that are homeless are also plagued with urgency. It’s not usually because of FOMO, but rather because of instability and insecurity. They ask questions most of us don’t give much thought to, but for our friends who are homeless these are questions connected to incredible stress:

“When am I going to eat again?”
“When am I going to sleep again?”
“Where am I going to sleep?”
“Will someone take my things if I sleep?”
“Will I be able to stay warm?”
“How am I my going to get back on my feet?”
“Who is going to hire me?”
“What can I even do?”
“When am I going to shower again?”

All these items are important, but because they are unanswered questions their urgency becomes a roadblock to moving forward. When we’re always being led by urgency, the things that are truly important, or should I say, should be truly important get lost and now the urgent things are the most important because they’re the only things.

If the previous questions can be answered with certainty and consistency people will be able to think and plan for tomorrow and beyond again instead just the next hour. However, if the previous questions don’t get answered, then these questions start to be asked:

“Will people even come near me?”
“Does anyone even see me?”
“Do I matter at all?”
“Who even loves me anymore?”

So, what do we do?

HELP, HOPE, HOME

HELP
We need to HELP relieve people of these urgencies. We need to remove these stressors out of their lives and give them permission to dream again. It’s obvious one should have a job and save money, but if you’re plagued with urgency, it seems nearly impossible to plan for a future you’re not sure you’re even going to have.

HOPE
Once a person has stability and security then HOPE can grow and when hope grows, all things are possible! My favorite verse in the Bible is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through him (Christ) who gives me strength.” However, for anything to grow the conditions must be right. I’m reminded of “The Parable of the Sower” in Matthew 13. Seeds need the right soil to flourish. For seeds of hope to grow in people, other people with hope need to be the “soil” surrounding the people who need it most.

HOME
With a foundation of stability offered through relief help and a restoration of hope in Christ, a person can genuinely focus on HOME. Home is not just any shelter, but a place where a person has the peace of knowing they are loved beyond all measure by God….because they are!

For you and I, we may need to be reminded of Psalm 121:

Psalm 121 English Standard Version (ESV)
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

The world continues to spin whether we know every detail or not. We don’t need to have FOMO. It’s OK if we let go of or miss certain things because God sees and knows everything and doesn’t miss anything. Stepping away from time to time is a great way to honor God and show Him you trust him with everything!

If you want to help our friends experiencing homelessness, here four ways you can make an impact in your community and the world around you RIGHT NOW!

1.) Be a Good Neighbor!
When you are kind to those around you, someone in crisis may have the courage to open up to you. (Matthew 22:36-40, Luke 6:31, Luke 10:25-37)

2.) Bow Your Head!
Prayer is powerful and effective. It is our greatest weapon in spiritual warfare. Please pray for wisdom, discernment, and favor. (Matthew 6:5-14, Philippians, 4:6, James 5:13-16, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

3.) Get Involved!
Volunteer with us, one of our partners, or in your community. Time is the one thing we never get back. When you choose to spend time with someone, it speaks volumes about both you and the person your with. If you’re willing to spend time with someone often overlooked by society, there’s a good chance someone else will take notice and realize that person’s life matters. (Isaiah 58:9b-10, Matthew 25:40, Hebrews 13:16)

4.) Cheerfully Give!
Donating your money is a great way to have an impact even when you can’t be physically present. $10 PER MONTH or MORE can make a significant difference in an individual’s life, my family’s well being, and the way the world views homelessness. PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY TODAY! (Proverbs 19:17, Malachi 3:10, Luke 10:2, 2 Corinthians 9:7,12)

BE THE HANDS AND FEET OF CHRIST!

 

 

EMMANUEL LABOR is God working through us…

Do It Anyway

Christina W
Photo Credit: Christina W. via CC Flickr

Have you ever tried to help other people and do something thoughtful and kind, yet become discouraged, disheartened, or upset when the outcome didn’t turn out the way you expected? There are times throughout our lives, when may t to accomplish certain goals, overcome negative or hurtful situations, and fall short. It can become very dispiriting, demoralizing, or down-right depressing.

There are two things that a can do when they face a difficult circumstance: 1) dwell on the negative, become bitter, lose focus, and quit the things that they were trying to accomplish, or, 2) maintain a single-mindedness desire to accomplish a goal, dream, or to help others. What decision would you make?

A few days ago, I came the following little sonnet (Author Unknown) which I found to be a good source of encouragement to me. It is my wish that it will motivate you to stay positive and focused in your quest to make others happy and when you chase your dreams.

“Do It Anyway”

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered:

FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish and ulterior motives:

BE KIND ANYWAY.

If you are successful, you will win false friends:

SUCCEED ANYWAY.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you:

BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight:

BUILD ANYWAY.

If you find serenity and happiness, others may be jealous:

BE HAPPY ANYWAY.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow:

DO GOOD ANYWAY.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough:

GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU HAVE ANYWAY.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God:

IT WAS NEVER BETWEEN YOU AND THEM…ANYWAY.

The Chair

Photo Credit: Michael Ngilen via CC Flickr

It is an amazing thing to me, what people do to cope with the unfortunate circumstances and situations that they have been dealt in their lives. Some people will become pessimistic, despondent, isolated, and secluded…shutting off their friends, family and the rest of the world, while others will flee to the world of alcohol, drugs, or some other form of entertainment or vice, to lessen the pain that they are experiencing.

Transversely, other people try to look at their situation from a different perspective with a positive outlook. They decide that they are going to get their priorities in order, learn to enjoy everything about their lives even more then they used to do, and/or “make lemonade out of the lemons” that were given to them.

Today’s short story is a beautiful illustration of how an individual decided to spend his last days here on earth…

A man’s daughter had asked the local pastor to come and pray with her father. When the pastor arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The priest assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said.

“No, who are you?”

 “I’m the new associate at your local church,” the pastor replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.”

 “Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”

Puzzled, the pastor shut the door.

 “I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church, I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head…”

 “I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I’ll be with you always.’ Then just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.”

 “So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”

 The pastor was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue the journey.

 Then he prayed with him and returned to the church.

 Two nights later the daughter called to tell the pastor that her daddy had died that afternoon.

 “Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked.

 “Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, In fact, beyond strange–kinda weird. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside the bed.”

 

Live Every Day As If It Were Your Last!

 

You Need A Bigger Frying Pan!

Fugzu
Photo Credit: Fugzu via CC Flickr

Faith. It is a small word, yet it holds incredible power and hopes for millions of people throughout the world. Faith is also one of the hardest things to believe and trust in because it is simply a belief in things that you cannot see. For example, when you are going to sit on a chair, you just sit on it. You don’t check its legs, the sturdiness, and strength of the chair…you just sit on it because you know, you have the FAITH that it is going to hold you.

Unfortunately, many people put their faith into a box or simply don’t have the faith to accomplish the goals and desires that they may have for themselves in their life. Today, I would like to share the following little story with you that will demonstrate the importance of faith and using it to its fullest potential.

Two men went fishing. One man was an experienced fisherman, the other wasn’t. Every time the inexperienced fisherman caught a big fish, he threw it back. The experienced fisherman watched this go on all day and finally got tired of seeing this man waste good fish. “Why do you keep throwing back all the big fish you catch?” he asked.

The inexperienced fisherman replied, “I only have a small frying pan.” Sometimes, like that fisherman, we throw back the big plans, big dreams, big jobs, big opportunities that God gives us. Our faith is too small. We laugh at that fisherman who didn’t figure out that all he needed was a bigger frying pan; yet how ready are we to increase the size of our faith?

Whether it’s a problem or a possibility, God will never give you anything bigger than you can handle. That means we can confidently walk into anything God brings our way.

You can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).

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Source: vielouis-stories.blogspot.com

Words of Wisdom…From An Angel!

Nicolas Raymond
Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond via CC Flickr

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you had the opportunity to meet an angel? Even better…imagine if you could live with an angel? Well, I would like to tell you…I do! This past summer, I was going to leave home for 6 weeks, work a job in another state by myself, leaving her home with my son. The day I was to leave, she gave me a small “Care Package” which was full of little goodies such as snacks, mosquito repellant, toiletries, but most lovingly, a little notepad that she called, “Words of Wisdom for Rich.”

There, written on every page were simple quotes, Scripture verses, and other encouraging and inspiring words. I thought that it was such a thoughtful and loving thing to do. During that time while I was away, I looked forward each day to read my angel’s new “Words of Wisdom.” I thought to myself, that not only did these things mean a lot to me, but I decided that they would be great things to share with others.

So, without further ado, here are the “Words of Wisdom” that my wife found and gave to me during my absence from home. It is my hope, that you will find encouragement and inspiration in one or more of these nuggets of truth, and help you on your journey of life.

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“I have told you these things so that in me, you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

“All God wants from Man is a peaceful heart.” ~ Meister Eckhart

Always Pray. Pray Always.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace…and be thankful.” ~ Colossians 3:15

What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that His grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” ~ Rick Warren

When you feel like quitting, think about what you started.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is ve, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.” ~ Galatians 5:22

“Peace begins with a smile.” ~ Mother Teresa”

Jesus gives us hope because He keeps us company, has a vision and knows the way we should go.” ~ Max Lucado

Be so happy that when others look at you, they become happy!

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” ~ Hebrews 12:14

PEACE If does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work…it means to be amid these things and still be calm in your heart. ” Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom

Your attitude determines your direction!

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase…just take the first step!

 

“If you can’t fly, then run.

If you can’t run, then walk.

If you can’t walk, then crawl,

But whatever you do,

You have to keep moving forward.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King

 

Go the extra mile…it’s never crowded!

“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is rather than what you think it should be.

“Courage is contagious. What brave person takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened. ~ Billy  Graham

Don’t stop until you are proud!

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18

“Lord, if it’s not your Will, let it slip through my grasp and give me the peace not to worry about it.” ~ Tony A Gaskins Jr.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9

If it doesn’t challenge you…it won’t change you!

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:7

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Within the covers of the Bible are the answers to all the problems men face.” ~ Ronald Reagan

If you were able to believe in Santa Claus for like 8 years, you can believe in yourself for like 5 minutes!

“Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.” ~ Proverbs 12:20

May every sunrise hold more promise, and every sunset hold more peace!

“My dear child, you worry too much. I’ve got this…remember?” ~ God

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” ~ Karim Seddiki

“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” ~ Psalm 29:11

Don’t let people pull you into their storm…pull them into your peace.

Everything will be okay in the end. If it is not okay, it’s not the end.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” ~ Romans 12:18

Don’t let anyone’s ignorance, hate, drama, or negativity stop you from being the best person that you can be.

Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for

“Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.” ~ Psalm 34:14

It is possible to choose peace over worry.

Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.

“Create the life that you cannot wait to wake up to!” ~ Josie Spinardi

“Great peace has those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” ~ Psalm 119:165

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” ~ Billie Jean King

Always to remember to fall asleep with a dream and wake up with a purpose.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust you.” ~ Isaiah 26;3

Real peace is not the calm. Real peace is the presence of God in the storm.

“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” ~ Vince Lombardi

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” ~ Steve Martin

“Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” ~ Isaiah 26:12

Patience is the key to paradise.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ~ Nelson Mandela

PROVE THEM WRONG!

“Though the mountains are shaken, and the hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord.” ~ Isaiah 54:16

———————————–

Which one of these statements is your favorite? Are there more than one? It is my hope that you can use one of them and apply them to your life.

NEVER LOSE HOPE 😊

 

NEVER LOSE HOPE 😊

The Love Chapter: Holiday Edition

Jakob Lawitzki
Photo Credit: Jakob Lawitzki via CC Flickr

One of the best, well-known chapters of the Bible worldwide, is 1 Corinthians 13…otherwise known as “The Love Chapter.” It has been used down through the ages in weddings, vows, ceremonies, and various other events.

Recently, I came across a “Christmas Version” of this popular passage of Scripture from a friend of mine that I thought would be fun to share with you. I hope that you will enjoy it and inspire you to remember the real reason for the season (and hopefully, every day of your life).

1 Corinthians 13 (A Christmas Version)

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I am just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I am just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing I the choir’s cantata, but do not focus on those that I love the most, I have missed the point.

…In other words,

Love stops the cooking to hug a child

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, and golf clubs will rust.

But the gift of love will endure.

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In case you would like to know what 1 Corinthians 13 says in Scriptures, here it is (the small numbers are the verses in the chapter) …

1 Corinthians 13

1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [a]to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,

does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part;

10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

12 For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the [f]greatest of these is love.

Hope in the Midst of Despair

Steve Damron
Photo Credit:: Steven Damron via CC Flickr

Have you ever felt worthless? Have you experienced the isolation and loneliness that your life was going nowhere and there was nothing that you could do to help others or make a positive contribution to today’s world? If so, then I have just the thing for you that will hopefully help encourage and inspire you today.

Have you ever felt worthless and your life had no purpose? Have you experienced the isolation and loneliness that your life was going nowhere and there was nothing that you could do to help others or make a positive contribution to today’s world? If so, then I have just the thing for you that will hopefully help encourage and inspire you today.

Consider the following story….

It was a beautiful mid-April morning along the seaside port of San Francisco. The weather was unseasonably warm and there was a slight breeze lazily blowing in from the northeast. Most of the city’s population were sleeping while some of the “early birds” began to wake up and get ready for another day.

Then, at 5:45 a.m., their world changed in a disastrous instant that forever changed their lives…and the spirit of the nation. In the next horrifying minute or so, the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, shook the city to the ground. More than 3,000 people were killed and over half of the 400,000 occupants of the city lost their homes and everything that they owned.

The tremendous earthquake, (later estimated as a 7.8 on the Richter Scale) not only caused hundreds of buildings and structures to topple, but the powerful shaking also destroyed the city’s water and gas lines. The gas from the ruptured pipes soon ignited, caught fire and spread quickly throughout San Francisco, spreading more havoc and terror throughout the land. The fires went on to burn for the next three days and over 500 city blocks were destroyed.

One of the reasons the fires were so devastating and destructive was because of the destroyed water network of the city. Almost all the fire hydrants in the system were useless…except for one. This one fire hydrant was the only working one in the entire city and it, single-handedly, saved the city’s famous Mission District from certain obliteration. Located on top of a hill, the horses that pulled the fire wagons were so tired that they could not climb the hill and get to the hydrant. So, the people in the area gathered together, pushed the horses and pulled the fire wagons to the water supply and for the next few days, was the center of the water usage for the firemen.

The fireplug was later fondly nicknamed, the “little giant”, and is referred to today as “the Golden Fire Hydrant” by the folks of San Francisco. Each year, on April 18, at 5:45 in the morning, a ceremony is held in which the hydrant is spray painted once again with a fresh coach of gold spray.

So, why do I tell you about this story? A tale of this one fire hydrant that helped to save the Mission District and parts of the surrounding neighborhood? It is because of this…think of how this little structure had such an enormous impact on the surrounding community and how much this small but powerful instrument not only helped to extinguish some of the fires, but it was a tremendous encouragement and help to the people that needed it! It may have looked small and insignificant, but it had a huge impact! This is also so true with a person’s life. No matter how little and worthless or insignificant that you may feel, you were put in the world to make an impact on others. Your personality, characteristics, and abilities are unique, and they are your own. No one in the world is exactly like you. You can have an impact on someone else, your neighborhood or community in your own individual and unique way.

We all are all “little” compared with the vast, untold billions of people living in the world today, but we can be “giants” by what we do for others in the small worlds that we live in every day!

The Greatest Distance in the World

Kevin Gill
Photo Credit: Kevin Gill via CC Flickr

A mile is 5.280 feet long. The distance between New York City and London, England is approximately 3,500 miles, New York City to Hong Kong around 8,000 miles. If you took a trip around the globe, you would travel almost 25,000 miles! Yet, this distance is still not the farthest in the sense of importance to an individual and what they do with the life they are given.

What is the greatest, most important distance in the world? It was once said, that the greatest distance in the world is an astounding 18 inches…the distance from a person’s heart to their head. People can have all the knowledge about a particular subject matter in their head and be as smart as the wisest individuals who walk the earth but unless they LIVE it and USE their abilities, it will mean nothing.

Here is a story to illustrate what I am trying to say:

One morning a man was sitting at the breakfast table intently reading the morning paper when his wife came up to him and started to ask him questions about their plans for the upcoming day. The man just sat there, slightly nodding his head and showed no other reactions. Despite numerous attempts to get a conversation with her husband started…he was just too busy reading his paper.

Then the lady had an idea to try and break her husband’s trance from his paper. She said to him in a calm voice, “Honey, there a huge, hairy spider crawling up your sleeve.” The man just sat there, nodded slightly, and continued to read the paper never even giving her a glance.  She tried the same tact a few other times…again, to no avail. Suddenly she screamed, “HONEY! THERE’S A HUGE, HAIRY SPIDER CRAWLING UP YOUR SLEEVE!”  Her husband screamed, jumped up from his seat, threw down his newspaper, and started making moves that a Ninja would be proud of!

You see, the man had HEARD his wife but he didn’t LISTEN. He knew that there was a spider crawling up his arm but he didn’t do anything about it because he was TOO BUSY doing something else. It wasn’t until he took what he KNEW and put it into ACTION that did anything about combating the evil creature.

Many people are like that man who was reading the newspaper. They hear what is going on and KNOW what to do but without putting their knowledge into action, they are no different than anyone else.

One of my favorite slogans in athletics is also so very true in a person’s everyday life: “The difference between an ordinary person and an extraordinary individual, is that little EXTRA.” There are an untold number of people that have great ideas, thoughts, inventions, solutions to the world’s problems, etc., and do actually DO anything about them. They do ACT on their THOUGHTS. A person may have all of the book knowledge of something but if they never actually use it…it is worthless. An individual may know how to build a house, where to place the lumber, the plumbing, the electrical systems, the foundation, etc., but if that person never goes out and physically builds a house…what good is having that knowledge?

So,  I ask you today…are you a THINKER or a DOER? How well are you conquering the greatest distance in the world?

Navigating the Seas of Grief and Despair

Jeremy Segrott
Photo Credit: Jeremy Segrott via CC Flickr

The death of a close friend, a dear sibling or spouse, or a loving relative can lead a person to great depths of grief, despair and hurt. There are times when the death seems like a blessing because the person was suffering from an illness or some other misfortune, and they are now free from their suffering. In some instances, the individual expires because of old age or in other occasions, the passing of an individual is sudden and shocking. Regardless, when someone a person knows passes from this life, there is usually a time of great sorrow and pain.

Over the course of this past year, I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing some family and friends of mine who either died suddenly or have been going through the dark valleys of their lives. I came across the following story a while back that was written by an older gentleman, who had written his response to someone who had asked the following question in an editorial in his newspaper: “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.” Many people responded but there was one old man whose incredible comment stood out from the rest. What he stated might just change the way we approach life and death:

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, parents, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

 I wish that I could say that you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever someone I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if that scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and love. And scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

 “As for grief, you’ll find that it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with all of the wreckage around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was…and is no more. All you can do is float. You find some piece of wreckage and hang on for a while. Maybe it is a physical thing. Maybe it is a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float and stay alive.

 “In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they crash over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. If might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave keeps crashing…but in between waves…there is life.

 “Somewhere down the line, and it is different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall…or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at an airport. You can see it coming and for the most part, you prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

 “Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come…and you will survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of love…and lots of shipwrecks.”   ~ Source: Pinterest

It is my deepest hope and prayer that this commentary can help you or someone you know who may be “drowning” in a Sea of Despair or Grief. I know this…it helped me when I read it a while ago when my lifelong and best friend died, and who I miss every day…my Dad. So’s here to hope, grace, and happiness…and remembering the times with your loved one…the memories that will last a lifetime!

The Mighty Power of the Wind

Danny Tax
Photo Credit: Danny Tax via CC Flickr

There is something special about the wind. Something magical. The wind can feel so nice and relaxing on a hot summer day or it can chill you to your bones during a cold winter. It can look beautiful as it blows through Weeping Willows or rustles the leaves during an autumn day.

It can do things in many unique and fun ways such as flying kites, windsurfing, listening to wind chimes, sail a boat, play with a pinwheel, the list can go on and on. We have learned, thousands of years ago, to harness the wind and make it work for us such as machines called windmills. They were used to mill grain, pump water, or both, such as the windmills in Holland for example. Recently, we have created immense wind farms, which convert the power of the wind into electricity, pump water from the ground, or draining water-filled tracks of land.

We have all seen and experienced the mighty and destructive force of the wind through thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricane. The devastation that it leaves behind can cause damage that, sometimes, will take years and years to repair and rebuild.

The power of nature is simply awesome.

But there is a peculiar thing about the wind…you cannot see it. People know it is there…they see its results and feel its effects, but it isn’t visible. Author, Christina Rossetti, once wrote a poem in The Golden Book of Poetry (1947), “Who Can See the Wind?”

“Who Can See the Wind?”

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you:

But when the leaves hang trembling,]

The wind is passing through.

 

Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I:

But when the trees bow down their heads,

The wind is passing by.

The words that people speak are a lot like the wind. They can be encouraging, helpful, destructive…and, like the wind, they are unseen, but the effect that they can have on someone can leave a lasting impression that may last days, years, or a lifetime. A person’s words of encouragement can uplift, inspire, and motivate an individual or they can also criticize, berate, and demean another person that could leave severe and detrimental impacts on their life.

It has once been said that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body. Even though it cannot physically lift a weight, it is like the small rudder of a large ship. A little thing like a rudder has a tremendous ability to move and steer a huge structure such as a ship with precision. Likewise, the tongue is a lot like a rudder…it has the ability to give a person the power to either encourage and inspire or to tear down and discourage someone.

How will you use your words today? Will you use them to uplift and encourage someone who may be in need? Or in a way that might be harmful or detrimental?

The choice is yours.

Things People Will Never Learn in School

13998648398_cce12682e5_b
Photo Credit: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives via Flickr

I came across a short article about Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, when he spoke to a high school not too long ago. There has been some debate whether or not he actually delivered this speech, but the points here are “right on the money”.   The following eleven points are things that people either did not or will not learn in school. He spoke about how the feel-good, politically correct teachings have created a generation of children who have no concept of reality and how these ideas have set them up for failure in the real world.

Personally, I think that these eleven ideas are very insightful and are things in which, if we are wise enough, can help us to enrich our everyday lives.

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Rule 1: Life isn’t fair…get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough…wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up…it’s not your parents’ fault…so don’t whine about your mistakes…learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they will give you as MANY TIMES you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are, you’ll end up working for one.