We all have dreams and goals of the things that we would like to accomplish in our lives…building a successful business, establishing an effective career, having a positive, worthwhile job, the list can go on and on. The real question is HOW we go about attaining of life-long goals. How do we treat our family and friends? How much time and effort do we dedicate to achieving the material things in life like a nice house, fancy cars, good-looking clothes, lots of money, etc.?
Where is your heart? Your focus? Your priorities?
A short time ago, I came across the following story which, I hope, will serve as a helpful reminder that we should all be careful and wise when we are building the castles of our lives.
A little while ago, on a nice, warm summer day, a little boy, on his knees, scoops and packs the sand with plastic shovels into a bucket during his time at the beach. He upends the bucket and dumps its contents on the beach and starts to work on his creation. After a short time, to the delight of the little architect, a castle tower is created. He spends the entire afternoon shoveling out the moat, packing the walls, and strategically placing the guards around the castle using bottle tops and building bridges with Popsicle sticks. With his hours of hard work on the beach, a sandcastle will be built.
Meanwhile, in a big city with busy streets and rumbling traffic, a man works in an office. He shuffles papers into stacks, delegates assignments, cradles the phone on his shoulder and punches the keyboard with his fingers. He juggles with numbers, contracts get signed and much to the delight of the man, a profit is made. All his life he will work. Formulating the plans and forecasting the future. His annuities will be sentries and Capital gains will be his bridges. An empire will be built.
The two builders of the two castles have very much in common. They both shape granules into grandeur. They both make something beautiful out of nothing. They both are very diligent and determined to build their world. And for both, the tide will rise and the end will come. Yet that is where the similarities cease. For the little boy sees the end of his castle while the man ignores it. As the dusk approaches and the waves near, the child jumps to his feet and begins to clap as the waves wash away his masterpiece. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He is not surprised, he knew this would happen. He smiles, picks up his tools and takes his father’s hand, and goes home.
The man in his sophisticated office is not very wise like the child. As the wave of years collapses on his empire, he is terrified. He hovers over the sandy monument to protect it. He tries to block the waves with the walls he made. He snarls at the incoming tide. “It’s my castle,” he defies. The ocean need not respond. Both know to whom the sand belongs.
So, go ahead and build your dreams but build with a child’s heart. When the sun sets and the tides take – applaud. Salute the process of life and go home with a smile.
Everyone comes from a family and it goes without saying that problems and negative situations will occasionally show their ugly heads. But the one thing that some just can’t seem to figure out is the family and relative terminology such as who is their second or third cousin, great uncle, etc. Stuff like this can drive us crazy. They can really create turmoil and misunderstanding.
If you think your family has problems figuring this stuff out, consider the marriage mayhem created when 76-year-old Bill Baker of London recently wed Edna Harvey. She happened to be his granddaughter’s husband’s mother. That’s where the confusion began, according to Baker’s granddaughter, Lynn.
“My mother-in-law is now my step-grandmother. My grandfather is now my stepfather-in-law. My mom is my sister-in-law and my brother is my nephew. But even crazier is that I’m now married to my uncle and my own children are my cousins.”
From this experience, Lynn should gain profound insight into the Theory of Relativity.
Let’s say it’s 7:30pm and you’re going home in your car (alone of course) after an unusually hard day on the job. You find yourself really tired, upset and frustrated. Your job has been very stressful, the boss has been giving you a hard time, and your deadline for getting a project done is fast approaching.
Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to drag out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only a few minutes from the hospital nearest your home. Unfortunately, you don’t know if you’ll be able to make it that far. You have been trained in CPR, but the guy who taught the course did not tell you how to perform it on yourself.
What do you do? HOW DO YOU SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE?
Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack without help, the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.
There is good news, however! These victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly
and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let-up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.
Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way,
heart attack victims can get to a hospital.
If everyone who gets this little note decides to send it to 10 people, you can bet that we’ll save at least one life!
Tell as many other people as possible about this. It could save their lives!!
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. The grave rests on mounds of soil from Thorpe’s native Oklahoma and from the stadium in which he won his Olympic medals.
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. That same year, the Associated Press named Thorpe the “greatest American football player” of the first half of the century. In 1999, the Associated Press placed him third on its list of the top athletes of the century, following Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan.ESPN ranked Thorpe seventh on their list of best North American athletes of the century.
Thorpe was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, one of seventeen players in the charter class. 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.
It’s funny how you can learn things from even the smallest things in our life. In today’s story, you’ll find an interesting way to remember where our trust SHOULD be every day.
Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband’s employer’s home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.
The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband’s employer was quite generous as a host and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.
As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband.
He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment. Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts.
Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny. He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up? Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her.
Finally, she could stand it no longer. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value.
A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?
“Look at it.” He said. “Read what it says.”
She read the words “United States of America.”
“No, not that; read further.”
“No, keep reading.”
“In God we Trust?”
“And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!
When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, “In God We Trust,” and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message. It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful…and God is patient.
There is no question, that in today’s modern world, time is flying! My grandmother used to always say, “the older you get, the days get longer and the years get shorter.” Man, if that isn’t the truth! The sad thing is this, that sometimes we get so caught up in the business of life, that we forget to take a moment and think about the really nice thing. In life and we forget to remember the “unseen things.”
The following three short stories serve as quick reminders of the simple concepts of wisdom that we sometimes forget. It is my hope that you will be able to remember them each day!
Once upon a time, a village decided to get together and pray for rain. On the day of the prayer, all the people gather…only a small boy brought an umbrella.
Consider the feeling of a one-year-old baby. When you throw it up in the air, it laughs because it knows that you are going to catch it.
Every night we go to sleep, we have no assurances that we will wake up alive the next morning but we still set the alarm for the next day.
The Civil War was a bloody and vicious war. At least 618,000 Americans died and some say the toll reached 700,000. Casualties exceeded all of America’s other wars from the Revolution through Vietnam.
In the winter of 1862, General Robert E. Lee’s forces had claimed several key battlefields in the Eastern Campaign. One of those key battles was as one-sided as a battle could be. It was the Battle of Fredericksburg. On December 13, 1862, Union forces began what was termed a desperate and eventual doomed assault on a heavily fortified position known as “the stone wall at sunken road.”
After crossing a river, the Union confidently took the town of Fredericksburg with little resistance. The Confederate army had voluntarily given up the town so that they might fortify themselves along a stone wall at the base of a sloping hill. As the Union army began to approach the wall, they were attacked and by the morning of December 14th over 8,000 Union soldiers had been shot in front of the stone wall. Many of those remaining on the battlefield were still alive, but suffering from their wounds, the cold, and thirst.
During the night, both sides were forced to listen to the cries and moans of those soldiers for hours. A Confederate soldier stationed near the wall later stated that it was “weird, unearthly, and terrible to hear and bear the cries of the dying soldiers filling the air – lying crippled on a hillside so many miles from home – breaking the hearts of soldiers on both sides of the battlefield.”
Richard Rowland Kirkland, an infantry sergeant for the Confederacy could not rest or sleep due to the suffering of the Union soldiers and that morning he asked his commanding officer if he could scale the wall and, the shooting stopped. provide water for the suffering Union troops. The commanding officer was reluctant at first because of the danger to Richard but later allowed to do so. As Richard climbed the wall, several shots were instantly fired thinking that Kirkland’s motives were to wound more, but after realizing what was happening, the shooting ceased. Richard Rowland Kirkland made his way to each soldier comforting them the best he could by laying his jacket over one and providing water to the thirsty lips for all. For the next hour and a half, he would scale the wall several times with his canteen to get more water for his enemy.
It was a moment that temporarily stopped the Civil War.
You see, Mr. Kirkland showed an incredible sense of courage and leadership to his men and the enemy in an extremely adverse situation. He most likely was very scared and fearful knowing that his decision to help others might have been his last…but he made a commitment and stuck to it to its conclusion.
How much more should people, as leaders, step up, stay focused on the task at hand and work together with others, to achieve their goals! There is a huge difference between a Boss and a Leader…a Boss has people work for THEM to get a job completed, while a Leader works together with people, to accomplish a task. I doubt very much that anyone will experience a situation as extreme as Mr. Kirkland, but will have the opportunity each day to demonstrate their leadership skills to those around them.
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.
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.
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.
I think that some people will find this hard to believe, but people are not perfect. All of us have inadequacies and deficiencies that others may look at in a negative light but what individuals don’t realize, is that in many, many ways, some weaknesses in people can, in fact, be used in positive ways! This is true in all areas of life whether it be at work, schools, businesses, etc. We should learn, especially if you are a leader, how to find strengths through weaknesses.
Consider the following story…
There was once a man who had two large clay pots which he would hang on the ends of a pole he carried across his neck when he went to fetch water from a stream. One of the pots had a small crack in it while the other was perfect. The perfect pot always brought home a full pot of water while the cracked pot returned home barely half full.
For years, the man would always return from the stream with only one and a half pots of water. The perfect pot was very proud of its accomplishment; however, the cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection. It felt terrible that it only accomplished half of what it was intended to do.
One day while kneeling by the stream to fill his two pots, the cracked pot spoke out, “I am sorry Sir and want to apologize.”
“Why? What are you sorry about?” asked the man.
“Because of my flaw, I can only give you half a load. Never ever have I given you what you expected,” said the cracked pot.
The man continued to quietly fill his pots. When he put his pole over his neck with his two pots attached, he looked at the cracked pot and said, “Today as we walk home, look down at the path as we walk.” As they walked, the cracked pot did what he was told; he looked down at the path. By the time they arrived home half the water in the cracked pot had leaked out and it was feeling sorry for itself again.
After the man put down his pole, he asked the cracked pot, “What did you notice along the path on our way home?”
“I noticed beautiful flowers growing along our path,” replied the cracked pot.
“You’re right,” said the man. “Flowers do grow along our path. “However, did you notice they only grow on one side of the path and not the other?”
You see, I have always known about your flaw and I decided to take advantage of it. I only planted flower seeds on your side of the path and every day as we walked back from the stream, you watered the seeds for me. Because of you, I have always had an abundance of beautiful flowers to decorate my home and share with my friends. Without your flaw, I would never have had all this beauty in my life.”
Remember, the people we know are just like the cracked pot. They all have flaws. Rather than complain about their imperfections, maybe we should acknowledge their flaws and take advantage of them to make our lives and places where we live and work, better places to live. For example, in the working world, imagine how much better a work environment could be or how much production would improve, if leaders looked upon their employees with this kind of mindset! Maximizing strengths through weaknesses is a true sign of a successful person!
There are many, many causes and circumstances throughout a person’s life that may make an individual fearful and afraid of the future or a situation that they might be presently experiencing and can cause a great deal of hardship and turmoil. Some of the leading causes of anxiety and distress in today’s world are things such as stresses in school, work, relationships, financial/money, the death of a loved one, a serious medical illness, drugs…the list goes on and on.
It is during these times, that people may begin to feel isolated, lonely, and hopeless. Friends, family, and other acquaintances may seem a million miles away and it can appear like no one is around to help.
Well, I have great news for you!!! Today, I am going to share with you an old American Indian legend regarding the Cherokee Indians and their young boy’s “rite of passage” into manhood. It is my hope that this story will supply you with a positive sense of comfort and reassurance when you are experiencing the “valleys and shadows” of life.
At the time the ritual begins, a father takes his young son into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. The boy is required to sit on a stump the entire night and not remove his blindfold until he sees the dawns first rays of sunlight shine through it. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.
The boy is not allowed to tell any of the other boys in his village of this experience because each male must experience and come into manhood on his own. Naturally, the boy is terrified and scared to death. He can hear all kinds of noises…some are familiar, but many are strange and scary. There is no question that wild animals are all around him…or maybe even another human that may be wanting to cause him harm!
The wind blows the grass and the earth and shakes his stump…but the boy sits quietly and stoically, never getting up or removing his blindfold. This is the only way that he can become a man!
Finally, what seems like an eternity, the terrible night is over. Dawn’s first rays of sunlight appear, and the boy now takes off his blindfold. It is then that he discovers his father sitting on a stump next to him. He had been watching his son the entire night, protecting him from harm.
You see folks, we, too, are never alone…even when we don’t know it, God is always with and watching over us…sitting on the stump next to us!
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
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.
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.
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)
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:
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you:
BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight:
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:
I have been finding and posting inspiring, motivational, and encouraging stories on this blog for the past four years now. There have been instances in which people have been interested in sharing personal stories and have been willing to post their tale on this site, “Good Time Stories.”
Today, I would like to share with you, one such story which was written by my friend, known as the “Old Mainer,” from his own blog, “Old Mainer.” This is a beautiful story of an everlasting love that I am sure will touch your heart and soul. It is my hope that you not only enjoy this story but will also inspire you to discover a way to remember how much your “better half” loves you.
Each evening when I get undressed, I remove the contents of my pockets and place them on my dresser. It is all the usual stuff that we can’t live without. Cell phone, pocket knife, spare change, watch, ring, etc. Although most of the paraphernalia changes as time progresses, there is one item that I have been placing there for many years. It is a coin. Well, not a coin in the true sense of the word. It is not currency and has no monetary value. In fact, it looks more like a silver blob of aluminum that was melted down. It is flat on one side and almost smooth on the other. It wasn’t always thus. At one time, the smooth side had three words embossed on it.
I traveled a lot in my job. Never for long durations, but frequent enough to pull me away from home more then I would have liked. That is when I started carrying the coin. I always knew it was there, in my pocket, and it gave me a sense of comfort. Often, I would run my fingers over the words, as if trying to read them by touch.
When I retired, I continued to carry the coin. It had become such a part of me, that to be without it was not acceptable. Because, to me, it’s value is in what it is instead of what it’s worth. A symbol of sorts that defines me. Defines us.
The coin was given to me by my wife before departing on one of my trips. She had picked it up in a little shop. They had several of them with different phrases, but this one caught her eye and she picked it up on a whim. She probably only paid a dollar or two, but it has grown in value over the years.
Today, only the remnants of two letters remain, a V and E. All the others have worn away. But to me, they are still there. Always will be. Just more deeply embedded. It will always say I LOVE YOU. That will never wear away. If the words are gone before me, the love will still be there, and only I will see it.
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.”
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).
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.
“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.
There are some stories that are worth repeating..today’s story is one of them.
A year or so ago, I posted a story that I had come across simply called, “The Sandpiper.” Unbeknownst to me, the story that I published was one that had been copied and re-written by another person who wrongly took credit for it. Fortunately for me, the daughter of the real author, Mary Serman Hilbert, contacted me and told me the following…
“This story was written by my mother Mary Sherman Hilbert back in in 1978 and is copyrighted in the US Library of Congress. It was published in Readers Digest in 1980. The story has been reprinted in over ten languages and made into two plays.
There are many plagiarized versions on the internet, including the one that has an MR. Peterson instead of Mrs. P. (Ruth Peterson) as the central woman, as you have posted here. Please read Snopes assessment here for accurate clarification of the story’s background: https://www.snopes.com/glurge/sandpiper.asp
My mother passed away New Years Day 2010 at the age of eighty-seven.
~ Leigh Hilbert, December 11th, 2017
Most people who have posted my mom’s story have had good intentions and had no way to know if it had been altered along the internet pathways.
There are a few correct versions online. I will post here the original version and you can maybe repost it.”
So, without further ado, here is the original, beautiful story of the Sandpiper…..
A Sandpiper to Give You Joy
by Mary Serman Hilbert
Several years ago, a neighbor related to me an experience that happened to her one winter on a beach in Washington State. The incident stuck in my mind and I took note of what she said. Later, at a writers’ conference, the conversation came back to me and I felt I had to set it down. Here is her story, as haunting to me now as when I first heard it:
She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.
She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.
“Hello,” she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.
“I’m building,” she said.
“I see that. What is it?” I asked, not caring.
“Oh, I don’t know. I just like the feel of the sand.”
That sounds good, I thought and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. “That’s a joy,” the child said.
“It’s a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.”
The bird went glissading down the beach. “Good-bye, joy,” I muttered to myself,
“hello, pain,” and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.
“What’s your name?” She wouldn’t give up.
“Ruth,” I answered, “I’m Ruth Peterson.”
“Mine’s Windy.” It sounded like Windy. “And I’m six.” “Hi, Windy.”
She giggled. “You’re funny,” she said. In spite of my gloom I laughed too and walked on.
Her musical giggle followed me. “Come again, Mrs. P,” she called. “We’ll have another happy day.”
The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, an ailing mother.
The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. “I need a sandpiper,” I said to myself, gathering up my coat.
The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.
“Hello, Mrs. P,” she said. “Do you want to play?”
“What did you have in mind?” I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.
“I don’t know. You say.”
“How about charades?” I asked sarcastically.
The tinkling laughter burst forth again. “I don’t know what that is.”
“Then let’s just walk.” Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. “Where do you live?” I asked.
“Over there.” She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter.
“Where do you go to school?”
“I don’t go to school. Mommy says we’re on vacation.”
She chattered “little-girl” talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Windy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.
Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood even to greet Windy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding that she keep her child at home.
“Look, if you don’t mind,” I said crossly when Windy caught up with me, “I’d rather be alone today.” She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.
“Why?” She asked.
I turned on her and shouted, “Because my mother died!” – and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child?
“Oh, she said quietly, “then this is a bad day.”
“Yes, and yesterday and the day before that and – oh, go away!”
“Did it hurt?”
“Did what hurt?” I was exasperated with her, with myself.
“When she died?”
“Of course it hurt!” I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.
A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn’t there. Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn-looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.
“Hello,” I said. “I’m Ruth Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.”
“Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in.”
“Wendy talked of you so much. I’m afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please accept my apologies.”
“Not at all – she’s a delightful child,” I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it. “Where is she?”
“Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn’t tell you.”
Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught.
She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks she declined rapidly ” Her voice faltered. “She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?”
I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything, to say to this lovely young woman.
She handed me a smeared envelope, with MRS. P printed in bold, childish letters.
Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues – a yellow beach, a blue sea, a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:
A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY
Tears welled up in my eyes and a heart that had almost forgotten how to love opened wide. I took Wendy’s mother in my arms. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, “I’m so sorry,” I muttered over and over, and we wept together.
The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words – one for each year of her life – that speak to me of inner harmony, courage, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand – who taught me the gift of love.
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.
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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 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.
9 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.
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!
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?
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!
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?
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.
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.