Be That One

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What kind of person are you? Are you compassionate, sympathetic, and kind towards others? Or are you someone who is unsympathetic, callous, and impervious in your relationships with individuals?

The following poem was written by Sheri Eckert and serves as a great reminder that we should all “Be That One” kind of person who looks to inspire, encourage, and assist others in their journey of life.

Be That One

Be that one.

That One who forgives when a deep offense has been committed.

That One who loves when no one else does.

That One who shares kindness to those who are mean.

Be That One who looks past the insult, instead seeing the pain that motivated it.

That One who shines the light upon those who sit in utter darkness.

Because the impact of being That One runs far and wide.It brings healing to the wounded, joy to the sad, and hope to those in despair.

Be That One.


How beautiful a day can be when KINDNESS touches it” 🙂

Walk Backwards

I hope people can learn how to walk backwards – starting today. 

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A long time ago, a man got drunk and passed out naked.  One of his sons found him and began telling others about his embarrassing position. 

Maybe his son felt overlooked by his two brothers, maybe he was sternly corrected by his father, maybe he just like being the center of attention – and this sure got people’s attention.

His two brothers listened and were mortified. They looked at their brother and without saying a word, went to their passed-out father. 

As they entered the room, they did not want to see their father disgraced, so they walked in backward. 

They actually walked backward.

They carried a blanket and covered their father as he laid there naked and drunk as a skunk. 

(Try walking backwards right now where you’re at – unless you’re driving : ) 

They wouldn’t dare mention this to anybody. No matter how strict, how selfish or how sinful their father was, they were determined to cover his sin, to sober him up and to encourage him to learn from his mistake and start living a better life. 

He did. His name was Noah, and he built a pretty famous boat. 

There’s an old saying: Love covers a multitude of sins. 

What do you do when find out someone posted something years and years ago that is completely offensive (btw why would you even be looking for offensive material from several years ago?)

Do you “out” somebody, post it, tell your friends, tell your neighbors? 

That’s a “gotcha!” mentality; why not have a ‘grace’ mentality and walk backwards?

I encourage you try to give mercy and grace to people at their weakest moments.  I’m grateful many have shown me that in my life and I’ve tried to show the same. 

I truly believe we will reap what we sow. Some people call it karma, call it what you want, but it’s absolutely true.

Noah’s two sons were blessed and their families; the other son and his family were not blessed. 

You can hurt people or help people, break people down or build people up, you can laugh at them or love them.

Now more than ever, choose love and walk backwards.

Burnt Biscuits

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Unconditional kindness and compassion for others should be our core focus every day of our lives. I recently came across the following story, written by an unknown author, which illustrates this lesson…one that we all should remember to do each day.

When I was a kid, my Mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. I remember one night when she made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and a batch of extremely burnt biscuits on the table in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed.

All my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day at school has been. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bite of that thing…he never made a face nor uttered a word about it!

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits…and I will never forget what he said, “Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then.”

Later that night, I went to say good night to my daddy, and I asked him if he REALLY liked his biscuits burnt. He wrapped me up in his arms and said lovingly, “Your Mom put in a hard day at work today and she is really tired…and besides, a little burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!”

As I have grown older, I’ve thought about that many times. Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I’m not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like anyone else. But what I have learned over the years is that learning to accept each other’s faults and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

And that’s my prayer for you today…that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God. Because in the end, He’s the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn’t a deal-breaker!

We could extend this philosophy to any relationship. In fact, UNDERSTANDING is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife, parent-child, or friendship!

“Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket…keep it in your own.” So, please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned one will do just fine 😊

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Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil…it has no point.

The Story of the Christmas song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

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In March of 1863, 18-year-old Charles Appleton Longfellow walked out of his family’s house on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and—unbeknownst to his family—boarded a train bound for Washington, D.C., traveling over 400 miles across the eastern seaboard in order to join President Lincoln’s Union army to fight in the Civil War.

Charles (b. June 9, 1844) was the oldest of six children born to Fannie Elizabeth Appleton and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the celebrated literary critic and poet. Charles had five younger siblings: a brother (aged 17) and three sisters (ages 13, 10, 8—another one had died as an infant).

Less than two years earlier, Charles’s mother Fannie had tragically died after her dress caught on fire. Her husband, awoken from a nap, tried to extinguish the flames as best he could, first with a rug and then his own body, but she had already suffered severe burns. She died the next morning (July 10, 1861), and Henry Longfellow’s facial burns were severe enough that he was unable even to attend his own wife’s funeral. He would grow a beard to hide his burned face and at times feared that he would be sent to an asylum on account of his grief.

When Charley (as he was called) arrived in Washington D.C., he sought to enlist as a private with the 1st Massachusetts Artillery. Captain W. H. McCartney, commander of Battery A, wrote to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for written permission for Charley to become a soldier. HWL (as his son referred to him) granted the permission.

Longfellow later wrote to his friends Charles Sumner (senator from Massachusetts), John Andrew (governor of Massachusetts), and Edward Dalton (medical inspector of the Sixth Army Corps) to lobby for his son to become an officer. But Charley had already impressed his fellow soldiers and superiors with his skills, and on March 27, 1863, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, assigned to Company “G.”

After participating on the fringe of the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia (April 30-May 6, 1863), Charley fell ill with typhoid fever and was sent home to recover. He rejoined his unit on August 15, 1863, having missed the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863).

While dining at home on December 1, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow received a telegram that his son had been severely wounded four days earlier. On November 27, 1863, while involved in a skirmish during a battle of the Mine Run Campaign, Charley was shot through the left shoulder, with the bullet exiting under his right shoulder blade. It had traveled across his back and skimmed his spine. Charley avoided being paralyzed by less than an inch.

He was carried into New Hope Church (Orange County, Virginia) and then transported to the Rapidan River. Charley’s father and younger brother, Ernest, immediately set out for Washington, D.C., arriving on December 3. Charley arrived by train on December 5. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was alarmed when informed by the army surgeon that his son’s wound “was very serious” and that “paralysis might ensue.” Three surgeons gave a more favorable report that evening, suggesting a recovery that would require him to be “long in healing,” at least six months.

On Christmas day, 1863, Longfellow—a 57-year-old widowed father of six children, the oldest of which had been nearly paralyzed as his country fought a war against itself—wrote a poem seeking to capture the dynamic and dissonance in his own heart and the world he observes around him. He heard the Christmas bells that December day and the singing of “peace on earth” (Luke 2:14), but he observed the world of injustice and violence that seemed to mock the truthfulness of this optimistic outlook. The theme of listening recurred throughout the poem, eventually leading to a settledness of confident hope even in the midst of bleak despair.

You can hear the song HERE or You can read the whole poem/song below…

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Article Credit: Justin Taylor, “The Christian Coalition”

Remembering Our Loved Ones

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All of us have relatives or other people that we know who are advancing in years and who are people that we might consider, “getting old.” As they progress in their age, we sometimes lose our patience with them and become mad or angry. We forget the times when we were younger, that they were kind, caring, and tolerant of our persistent questions and inquiries about so many things.

It is important for all of us to remember our aged loved ones and the love they once openly demonstrated for us.

The following story is a great example of this idea…

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An 80-year-old man was sitting on the sofa in his house along with his 45 years old highly educated son when suddenly a crow perched on their window.

The father asked his son, “What is this?” The son replied, “It is a crow”. After a few minutes, the father asked his son the 2nd time, “What is this?” The son said “Father, I have just now told you “It’s a crow”. After a little while, the old Father again asked his Son the 3rd time, “What is this?”

At this time some expression of irritation was felt in the son’s tone when he said to his Father with a rebuff. “It’s a crow, a crow”. A little after, the father again asked his son the 4th time, “What is this?”

This time the son shouted at his father, “Why do you keep asking me the same question again and again, although I have told you so many times ‘IT IS A CROW’. Are you not able to understand this?”

A little later the father went to his room and came back with an old tattered diary, which he had maintained since his son was born. On opening a page, he asked his son to read that page. When the son read it, the following words were written in the diary.

“Today my little son aged three was sitting with me on the sofa when a crow was sitting on the window. My son asked me 23 times what it was, and I replied to him all 23 times that it was a Crow. I hugged him lovingly each time he asked me the same question again and again for 23 times. I did not at all feel irritated, I rather felt affection for my innocent child”.

While the little child asked him 23 times “What is this”, the father had felt no irritation in replying to the same question all 23 times and when today the father asked his son the same question just 4 times, the son felt irritated and annoyed.

So…

If your parents attain old age, do not repulse them or look at them as a burden, but speak to them a gracious word, be cool, obedient, humble and kind to them. Be considerate to your parents. You should remind and tell yourself every day, “I want to see my parents happy forever. They have cared for me ever since I was a little child. They have always showered their selfless love for me. I will serve my old parents in the BEST way I can. I will always try to say good and kind words to them, no matter how they behave.”

They crossed all mountains and valleys without seeing the storm and heat to make me a person presentable in the society today”.

———————–

“Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

A Special Bonus Video!

The Compassion of a Stranger

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A lady walked down a city street one day, she spotted a beggar. The man looked old, he smelled, was unshaven and dressed in worn-out clothes. Everyone who passed by looked at him with contempt; they didn’t have anything against him but didn’t like him merely because of who he was…a filthy beggar.

But then, a particular woman saw him, she was filled with compassion.

The beggar was improperly dressed for the weather and it was so cold. He was wrapped up in what looked like a coat from a very old and not-so-warm suit. She asked the man with a kind voice, “Sir? Are you all right?”

The man looked at the woman, who, based on her appearance, was an example of what people from a wealthy background looked like. The old beggar thought that she, like every other person, was mocking him. He just shook his head and growled, “Leave me alone.”

But the women did not move. Instead, to his surprise, she smiled at him and gently asked if he was hungry.

“No, I’ve just come from having dinner with the president. Now go away,” the beggar replied with a notable sarcasm. The woman’s smile did not fade. She placed her hands under the beggar’s arm and tried to pick him up.

“Woman, what do you think you are doing?” the beggar said annoyed.

“Is there a problem ma’am?” a policeman shouted, walking towards the lady and the beggar.

“Not at all officer. I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will, you help me?” the women replied

The policeman looked at her with surprise, “that man is old Jack and has been here for years. What have you got to do with him anyway?”

“I am going to take him to a cafeteria to get something to eat and get him out of the cold for a while,” the women answered.

“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man asked. “I don’t want to go in there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.”

“Here’s a good chance to feed yourself, Jack. Don’t blow it,” the officer advised.

After much difficulty and effort, the woman and the officer managed to bring Jack into the cafeteria. It was past breakfast time and too early for lunch. The manager strode towards the table and asked “What’s going on here officer?” he asked. “Is this man in trouble?”

“She brought old Jack in here to be fed and get a good wholesome meal,” the policeman answered.

“Not in my cafeteria! People like him are bad for business,” the manager angrily retorted.

“Now you know why I didn’t want to come in here!” Jack said to the lady, “now let me go. I never wanted to be here in the first place!”

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. “Sir, I reckon you know Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?”

“Of course I do, ” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”

“And I guess you make a good amount of money through those meetings.”

“I certainly do! Why does it concern you anyway?”

“Because I am the CEO of the company” the women replied, showing no sign of pride in her statement. The restaurant owner stood there in stunned silence. “Ohhh.” was all that the manager managed to say.

She looked at the officer, “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?”

“No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”

“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?”

“Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”

“I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer,” the manager immediately replied.

“You served him right,” he said.

“Oh, believe me, officer, that was not what I intended. I have a reason behind all this.” She stared at Jack intently, and asked, “Jack, do you remember me?”

Old Jack examined her face, “well you do look familiar,” he added thoughtfully.

“Do you remember a cold and hungry girl who frequently visited this place when you worked here?” the women asked, “she has perhaps grown old…hasn’t she?”

The officer looked surprised. He couldn’t imagine this fine looking woman as a poor and hungry woman.

“I had just graduated and had come to the city looking for a job. I didn’t find one for a really long time. I was running out of cash and had been asked to vacate my apartment too.  I lived on these streets for days. It was the cold month of February, I still remember how cold, miserable, and hungry I was. And that’s when I found this place and walked in hoping to find something to eat and what my little budget could afford.”

Jack’s face suddenly lit up, “now I remember you. I used to be at the counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”

“I know,” the woman said. “Then you offered me the biggest roast beef sandwich, a cup of coffee, and a table for me to sit and enjoy the meal. I saw you put the price of my food in the cash register”

“So you started your own business?” Old Jack asked.

“No, not exactly. That very afternoon I got a job. I worked my way up. Then, I started my own business.” She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. “Please pay a visit to the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now. I am sure there is something in my office for which we can use your help. We can even pay you a certain amount of your salary in advance.”

Fighting back the tears, Jack asked, “How can I ever repay your kindness?”

“You don’t have to” the woman answered. “Thank Jesus. He led me to you.”

“Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said to him as they both walked out the door.

“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy, thank you. I saw a miracle today. And of course, thank you for the coffee”

She frowned. “I forgot to ask you whether you used cream or sugar. That’s black.”

“I do use cream and more sugar than what is good for my health,” he replied.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“Please don’t be. I have a feeling that this coffee is going to taste as sweet as sugar,” he replied with a smile as he walked away.

Question: What act of kindness did YOU show someone today?

The Golden Slippers

Hilary McHone

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There are times in each of our lives when we need a reminder of the importance of having a spirit of giving and generosity towards others. Thus, is the case for the following story that I had posted on an old blog page of mine. While the author of this story is unknown, it is a beautiful story that I am sure will touch your heart and hopefully, remind all of us of the wonderful essence of a caring heart. (warning: tissues may be needed 🙂
It was only four days before Christmas. The spirit of the season hadn’t yet caught up with me, even though cars packed the parking lot of our local discount store. Inside the store, it was worse. Shopping carts and last-minute shoppers jammed the aisles. Why did I come today? I wondered. My feet ached almost as much as my head. My list contained names of several people who claimed they wanted nothing, but I knew their feelings would be hurt if I didn’t buy them anything. Buying for someone who had everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift-buying anything but fun.

Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last minute items and proceeded to the long checkout lines. I picked the shortest but it looked as if it would mean at least a 20 minute wait. In front of me were two small children — a boy of about 5 and a younger girl. The boy wore a ragged coat. Enormously large, tattered tennis shoes jutted far out in front of his much too short jeans. He clutched several crumpled dollar bills in his grimy hands. The girl’s clothing resembled her brother’s. Her head was a matted mass of curly hair. Reminders of an evening meal showed on her small face. She carried a beautiful pair of shiny, gold house slippers.

As the Christmas music sounded in the store’s stereo system, the girl hummed along, off-key but happily. When we finally approached the checkout register, the girl carefully placed the shoes on the counter. She treated them as though they were a treasure.

The clerk rang up the bill. “That will be $6.09,” she said.
The boy laid his crumpled dollars on top of the stand while he searched his pockets. He finally came up with $3.12. “I guess we will have to put them back, ” he bravely said. “We will come back some other time, maybe tomorrow.”

With that statement, a soft sob broke from the little girl. “But Jesus would have loved these shoes, “she cried.

“Well, we’ll go home and work some more. Don’t cry. We’ll come back,” he said.

Quickly I handed $3.00 to the cashier. These children had waited in line for a long time. And, after all, it was Christmas. Suddenly a pair of arms came around me and a small voice said, “Thank you, lady.”

“What did you mean when you said Jesus would like the shoes?” I asked.

The boy answered, “Our mommy is sick and going to heaven. Daddy said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus.”
The girl spoke, “My Sunday school teacher said the streets in heaven are shiny gold, just like these shoes. Won’t mommy be beautiful walking on those streets to match these shoes?”

My eyes flooded as I looked into her tear streaked face. “Yes,” I answered, “I am sure she will.”

Silently I thanked God for using these children to remind me of the true spirit of giving.

A Beautiful Short Story of Love

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This is a short little story of unconditional love that will be certain to make your day!

An elderly man hurried to his 8:00am doctor appointment, he wanted to finish quickly so that he could get to another appointment. The doctor asked what it was, and the old man proudly said that every morning at 9:00am he would go to the hospital and have breakfast with his wife.

The doctor asked what her condition was, and he replied that for the past 5 years his wife has had Alzheimer’s and hasn’t known who he is. The doctor asked the old man why he continued to visit her of she had no idea who he was…and the old man replied…” Because I still know who she is.”

Beautiful words of unconditional love.

I hope this little story made your day and put a smile in your heart!!

Children: They Learn What They Live

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Children have always fascinated me. I have been a teacher, coach, camp director, and counselor, etc., for over 30 years. I have seen all kinds of children during that time. There are children who are very well behaved, fun to have around, and a joy to know. Some are quiet, reserved, secluded, and would rather do things by themselves. Still others, are belligerent, disobedient, nasty and mean. It really is a fascinating thing how individuals can have such a variety of personalities, behaviors, and mannerisms.

I have discovered that a majority of the time, the people that are good, wholesome, and well-rounded, have been brought up in a caring, loving, and nurturing family whereas individuals that have been raised in a negative or repressed environment possess the traits that aren’t as likable. Basically, it all comes down to the way a person is raised.

All of this leads me to today’s story.

Many years ago, a woman named Dorothy Law used to write a daily column for one of her local newspapers regarding family matters. One day, she was up against the deadline to get an article into the newspaper and she was short on material, so she created a 14-line poem which dealt with childrearing. It soon took on a life of its own and became a type of guideline millions and millions of parents around the world.  For many, many years after the article was published, it was widely thought that the poem was written anonymously. Dr. Nolte never received credit or compensation and, believe it or not, wasn’t even aware that her writing had grown to the great popularity that it has become, and had forgotten about it. It wasn’t until 1974 that she decided to copyright her poem and later, wrote a best-selling book, “Children Learn What They Live: Parenting to Inspire Values,” along with a co-author, Rachel Harris.

Dr. Dorothy Nolte died in 1988 at the ripe old age of 81, but she left with the world, a timeless poem that will forever serve as a reminder to parents, the importance of raising their children with integrity, character, and thoughtfulness towards others.

It is my hope that you will enjoy this poem and share it with your loved ones.

Children Learn What They Live ~ by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about

them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

 

As a parent…what will you do? If you are NOT a parent, how will you treat others?

A Holocaust Survivor’s Story of Forgiveness

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During the Second World War, Corrie Ten Boom and her family showed great courage in helping to rescue Jewish people from the Nazis. Corrie’s involvement with the Dutch underground began with her acts of kindness in giving temporary shelter to her Jewish neighbors who were being driven out of their homes. Soon the word spread and more and more people came to her home for shelter. As quickly as she would find places for them, more would arrive. She had a false wall constructed in her bedroom behind which people could hide.

After a year and a half, her home developed into the center of an underground ring that reached throughout Holland. Daily, dozens of reports, appeals, and people came in and out of their watch shop. She wondered how long this much activity and the seven Jews that they were hiding would remain a secret.

On February 28, 1944, while Corrie was 48 years old, a man came into the shop and asked Corrie to help him. He stated that he and his wife had been hiding Jews and that she had been arrested. He needed six hundred gilders to bribe a policeman for her freedom. Corrie promised to help. She found out later that he was an informant that had worked with the Nazis from the first day of the occupation. He turned their family into the Gestapo. Later that day, her home was raided, and Corrie and her family were arrested (their Jewish visitors made it to the secret room in time and later were able to escape to new quarters). Her father died 10 days later from a sickness.

They were arrested and imprisoned by the Germans. Corrie and her sister were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where her sister died. The rest of her family was never seen again. error just before the end of the war in 1945. She spent the rest of her long life spreading the news of God’s forgiveness.

Here is a story of forgiveness, that she once shared. I still think it would have been so hard for me to ever have done………..

 

A Holocaust Survivor’s Story of Forgiveness

~A Guidepost article from 1972 relates a short story titled “I’m Still Learning to Forgive(Corrie TenBoom) ~

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him, a balding heavy-set man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. …

And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent. …

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard in there.” No, he did not remember me.

“I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us.” “But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, …” his hand came out, … “will you forgive me?”

And I stood there — I whose sins had every day to be forgiven — and could not. Betsie had died in that place — could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” …

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion — I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand, I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!”

For a long moment, we grasped each others’ hands, the former guard, and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”

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Have you ever been hurt by someone and angry at them? How willing have you been to forgive them? Imagine the hurt and hate that Corrie had and how hard it must have been for her to forgive this man. Let’s use this story as an example of how we can forgive others, even though it may be very difficult, and make ourselves better people because of it.


Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does change the future!

Homelessness and the Tyranny of Urgency

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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…

The Joy of Changing A Life

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Photo Credit: August Brill via CC Flickr

The joy and satisfaction of making a life-long difference in a person’s life is an experience and accomplishment of untold fulfillment. I have been a teacher for more than 30 years and have had the opportunity to teach thousands of people. It is such a gratifying and rewarding sentiment when I see my “kids” grow up, go to college, and become successful men and women in their professions and families.

Personally, there is honestly one thing that I have always felt that has been satisfying more than this…and that would be the instances when I had the chance to encourage and support a “less fortunate” individual. Watching them gain confidence and self-esteem as they journeyed down the “road of life”, gives me an amazingly sense of accomplishment.

Today’s story is a tremendous illustration of times when we judge people wrongly, by their looks and actions…then, fortunately, open their eyes to their REAL situation . The following is a heartwarming, inspirational true story of such an instance.

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Mrs. Thompson stood in front of her fifth grade class on the first day of school and told a lie, a big lie.  As she welcomed the students, she said that she would treat them all the same.  But that was not true because there was one student she would not treat the same – his name was Teddy Stoddard.

The school district hired Ms. Thompson the year before and she couldn’t help but notice Teddy last year.  He was a known problem child with a lousy academic record. He didn’t play well with others; his clothes were a mess; he always looked like he needed a bath, and he had a bad attitude.  Consequently, Mrs. Thompson delighted in marking Teddy’s papers with a broad red pen and placing big bold ‘X’s on all his wrong answers.  She loved putting a large ‘F’ at the top of his papers so other students could see his grade when she handed them out.

School policy required that each teacher review the records of their students during the first week of December.  Mrs. Thompson held Teddy’s file off until last.  When she finally sat down to review his file, she was taken aback.  Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child who does neat work and has excellent classroom manners. He is a joy to have in my class – I will miss him next year.”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an above average student who is well liked by his classmates.  He has been having trouble lately because of his mother’s illness, and life at home has really been a struggle for him.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s recent death has been very hard on Teddy.  He tries hard to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life is negatively affecting him.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a withdrawn child who doesn’t show much interest in school.  He has few friends, often comes to class unprepared, and is frequently disruptive.”

Mrs. Thompson was now ashamed of her behavior. She felt even worse a few weeks later when her students brought in their Christmas presents for her.  All were wrapped in holiday paper and tied with ribbons except for one.  Teddy’s was clumsily wrapped in brown paper from an old grocery bag with no ribbon.  Mrs. Thompson opened Teddy’s present first.   Some children laughed when they saw a rhinestone bracelet with several stones missing and an old bottle of perfume only 1/4 full; but Mrs. Thompson quickly stifled their laughter by commenting on how beautiful the bracelet was as she put in on.  She then dabbed some perfume on each wrist, inhaled deeply and said it smells wonderful.

Before he left class that afternoon, Teddy walked up to Mrs. Thompson’s desk, slowly leaned in and said, “I just want you to know you smell just like my Mom use to.”  Then he ran out of the room.  When all the other students left, Mrs. Thompson cried at her desk. That was the day she vowed to quit teaching.  Never again would she teach reading, writing or arithmetic, instead she would start teaching children.

She began to pay attention to Teddy.  As she worked with him, his mind came alive.  The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  By the end of the school year, Teddy was one of the brightest students in her class.   Despite “her lie to treat all students the same,” it was obvious Teddy was her pet.  The following year, Teddy transferred to middle school and Mrs. Thompson never saw him again.

Towards the end of the next school year, Mrs. Thompson found a note under her door.  It was a note from Teddy telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Seven years passed before she received another note.  This time Teddy wrote he had just finished high school – third in his class – and that he would be going to college and that, by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had in my whole life.

Four more years went by when a letter from Teddy arrived explaining he had graduated from college and was planning on going to medical school in the fall and, by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had.

Several years passed before another letter arrived.  In this letter, Teddy stated he met a woman and they would be getting married in June.  He explained that his father died a few years earlier and he was wondering if she, Mrs. Thompson, would agree to sit in the place of honor reserved for the groom’s parents at the head table. This letter was signed Theodore J. Stoddard M.D.

Of course Mrs. Thomson agreed. She arrived at the plush wedding ceremony wearing an old rhinestone bracelet with several rhinestones missing and carried a scent of a perfume that Teddy once said reminded him of his mother.  Dr. Stoddard came forward and hugged her.  As he inhaled the fragrance of her perfume, he whispered in her ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for making me feel important and thank you for making a difference in my life.” Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back, “No Teddy you have it wrong.  I need to thank you. You taught me. You taught me I could make a difference.”

Author Unknown