A Story of Christmas Magic

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Photo Credit: Dragon Lady via Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it?” Santa asked warmly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

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

“Hi, Santa! Remember me?!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Pleasant Reminder of the Reason for Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

“That’s a lot of money.”

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

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

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

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

“This week . . . nothing!

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

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

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

A Marvelous Kind of Medicine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Conquering the Barriers of Life

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

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

Consider the following story…

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

As expected, the shark ate every single fish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do It All the Way

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

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

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

Dive in fully.

Soak them up.

Live.

Love.

Savor it all.

Giving Someone A Push

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

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

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

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

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

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

To answer that, she tells a story.

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

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

 

What I Learned From the Easter Bunny

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

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

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.

There’s no such thing as too much candy.

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

A cute tail attracts a lot of attention.

Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.

Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.

Some body parts should be floppy.

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

Good things come in small, sugar coated packages.

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

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

The best things in life are still sweet and gooey.

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

When Life Isn’t Fair

Proactive Coaching
Photo Credit: Via Proactive Coaching

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

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

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

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

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

Special Note (from Wikipedia):

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

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

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

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

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

 

Poems to Make You Smile

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

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Keep on Smiling

~ Poet: Alexandra Skiathitis

If at times you feel you want to cry

And life seems such a trial

Above the clouds there’s a bright blue sky

So make your tears a smile

 

As you travel on life’s way

With its many ups and downs

Remember it’s quite true to say

One smile is worth a dozen frowns

 

Among the world’s expensive things

A smile is very cheap

And when you give a smile away

You get one back to keep

 

Happiness comes at times to all

But sadness comes unbidden

And sometimes a few tears must fall

Among the laughter hidden

 

So when friends have sadness on their face

And troubles round them piled

The world will seem a better place

And all because you smiled!

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A Smile

~ Poet: Unknown

A smile is cheer to you and me

The cost is nothing-it’s given free

It comforts the weary-gladdens the sad

Consoles those in trouble-good or bad

To rich or poor-beggar or thief

It’s free to all of any belief

A natural gesture of young and old

Cheers on the faint-disarms the bold

Unlike most blessings for which we pray

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

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Smile

~ Poet: Charlie Chaplin

Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it’s breaking

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

If you smile through your fear and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

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

 

Light up your face with gladness

Hide every trace of sadness

Although a tear may be ever so near

That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying?

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying?

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile!

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

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Try Smiling

~ Poet: Unknown

When the weather suits you not, Try smiling.

When your coffee isn’t hot, Try smiling.

When your neighbors don’t do right,

Or all of your relatives fight,

Sure ‘tis hard, but you might Try smiling.

 

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

But it cannot make them worse-Just smiling

And it seems to help your case,

Brightens up a gloomy place,

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

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Gladness Every Morning

~ Poet: Nixon Waterman

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

Smiles will strangely lighten every duty;

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

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

Wear a pleasant face wherein shall shine a joyful heart,

As shines the sun, the happy fields adorning;

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

And touch your lips with gladness every morning.

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A Face Without A Smile

~Poet: Unknown

Like a bread without the spreadin’,

Like a mattress without a beddin’,

Like a cart without a hoss,

Like a door without a latchspring,

Like a dry an’ barren creed bed-

Is the face without a smile

 

Like a house without a dooryard,

Like a clock without a mainspring,

That will never tell the hour;

A thing that sort o’ makes yo’ feel

A hunger all the while-

Oh, the saddest sight that ever was

Is a face without a smile!

 

The face of man was built for smiles,

An’ thereby he is blest

Above the critters of the field,

The birds an’ all the rest;

He’s just a little lower

Than the angels in the skies,

An’ the reason is that he can smile;

Therein the glory lies!

 

So smile an’ don’t forget to smile,

An’ smile, an’ smile ag’in

‘Twill help you all along the way,

An’ cheer you mile and mile;

An’ so, whatever is your lot,

Jes’ smile, an’ smile, an’ smile!

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

———————-

Anyone can make you smile,

many people can make you cry,

But it takes someone really special

To make you smile with tears in your eyes!

The Fog and The Swimmer

Ozge Can
Photo Credit: Ozge Can via CC Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————

~ Author Unknown ~

Source: inspirationalstories.com

The Good Things in Life

Jason Calvert
Photo Credit: Jason Calvert via CC Flickr

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY!

 

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

 

Always believe…Good things are on the way!

 

Enjoy the little things.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Focus on the good.

 

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

 

The greatest things in life are free!

 

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

 

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

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

 

Actually, …you can!

 

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

 

Good things take time.

 

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

 

Beautiful people always wear a smile.

 

Smile…it increases your face value 😊

 

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

 

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

 

Let life surprise you!

 

And last but not least…

Invest in your mind…

Invest in your heart…

Invest in yourself!

Do It Anyway

Christina W
Photo Credit: Christina W. via CC Flickr

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

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

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

“Do It Anyway”

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

FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY.

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

BE KIND ANYWAY.

If you are successful, you will win false friends:

SUCCEED ANYWAY.

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

BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight:

BUILD ANYWAY.

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

BE HAPPY ANYWAY.

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

DO GOOD ANYWAY.

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

GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU HAVE ANYWAY.

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

IT WAS NEVER BETWEEN YOU AND THEM…ANYWAY.

The Chair

Photo Credit: Michael Ngilen via CC Flickr

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

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

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

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

“No, who are you?”

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

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

Puzzled, the pastor shut the door.

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

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

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

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

 Then he prayed with him and returned to the church.

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

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

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

 

Live Every Day As If It Were Your Last!

 

Words of Wisdom…From An Angel!

Nicolas Raymond
Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond via CC Flickr

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

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

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

————————————

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

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

Always Pray. Pray Always.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your attitude determines your direction!

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

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

 

“If you can’t fly, then run.

If you can’t run, then walk.

If you can’t walk, then crawl,

But whatever you do,

You have to keep moving forward.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King

 

Go the extra mile…it’s never crowded!

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

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

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

Don’t stop until you are proud!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do something today that your future self will thank you for

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

It is possible to choose peace over worry.

Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patience is the key to paradise.

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

PROVE THEM WRONG!

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

———————————–

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

NEVER LOSE HOPE 😊

 

NEVER LOSE HOPE 😊

The Love Chapter: Holiday Edition

Jakob Lawitzki
Photo Credit: Jakob Lawitzki via CC Flickr

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

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

1 Corinthians 13 (A Christmas Version)

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

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

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

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

…In other words,

Love stops the cooking to hug a child

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

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

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

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

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

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

But the gift of love will endure.

————————————-

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

1 Corinthians 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For we know in part and we prophesy in part;

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

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

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

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

Hope in the Midst of Despair

Steve Damron
Photo Credit:: Steven Damron via CC Flickr

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

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

Consider the following story….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Greatest Distance in the World

Kevin Gill
Photo Credit: Kevin Gill via CC Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mighty Power of the Wind

Danny Tax
Photo Credit: Danny Tax via CC Flickr

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

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

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

The power of nature is simply awesome.

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

“Who Can See the Wind?”

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you:

But when the leaves hang trembling,]

The wind is passing through.

 

Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I:

But when the trees bow down their heads,

The wind is passing by.

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

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

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

The choice is yours.

Things People Will Never Learn in School

13998648398_cce12682e5_b
Photo Credit: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives via Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Light in a Life of Gloom

Eric Moreno
Photo Credit: Eric Moreno via CC Flickr

It seems to me, generally speaking, that people are becoming increasingly more uneasy, drab, and miserable. Negativity, pessimism, and a general malaise pervade today’s society. Wars, rumors of wars, terrorism, harmful and destructive banter, violence, riots, race bating, etc., have basically resulted in air of melancholy throughout the land. Its negative influence is apparent just about wherever you go in today’s world.

So, what you do? Is there anything that we can do to improve this situation…Maybe in our own small way? It has been said, that for every one negative thing that a person says to another individual, that person should then say seven positive things to offset that negative word.

Our words are powerful weapons that we can use to uplift others, build up their confidence, self-worth, and overall sense of well-being and self-reliance. There are many, many things that we can do to accomplish this goal…share a few kind words to someone, giving others compliments, a courteous acknowledgement, a word of encouragement…the list goes on and on. Today’s story is a beautiful example of the kind of encouragement that warms the heart of another individual, but it also demonstrates the sad illustration of regret.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his room-mate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he himself never got to see anything? It didn’t seem fair. At first thought the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window – that thought, and only that thought now controlled his life.

Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running in. In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped, along with that the sound of breathing. Now there was only silence-deathly silence.

The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take it away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

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Which person will you be?

How bright is your light?

The choice is yours!

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Story Source: truthbook.com

Great Life Lessons to Live By

Dennis Yang
Photo Credit: Dennis Yang via CC Flickr

There are many times throughout our everyday lives that we get caught up in the ”hustle and bustle” of life and forget “the little things”…the things that should be the most important things to live by.

Whether we are experiencing tough situations in life or are enjoying good times, quite often, these little principles, are the nuggets of truth that will help make our lives a little bit happier and more enjoyable.

I recently came across the following article, written by Barry Davenport,“Life Lessons That Have Endured the Test of Time.” via http://liveboldandbloom.com, about these life lessons that I thought would be a good thing to share. So, without further ado, here is today’s encouraging and motivational article.


You know the old saying, “Youth is wasted on the young?”

I think about that on occasion — how I wish I’d had the self-awareness, confidence, and joy I have now when I was in my twenties and thirties.

So much of life is wasted on worry, regret, pain, and heartache. Of course some of this is inevitable and necessary. But I spent too many of my younger days sweating over things I didn’t need to sweat about.

I simply didn’t know better. Or if I did, it just hadn’t sunk in yet.

I suppose “life lessons” are called that for a reason. You need to experience life in order to learn the lessons. And the more life you experience, the more lessons you accumulate. However, some extremely valuable lessons came from other people. Some I learned from reading great thinkers like Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. Others were passed on from friends and family.

Although some lessons must be learned through experience, you don’t have to wait until midlife to become aware of what’s truly meaningful and worthwhile. You simply need the curiosity and desire for self-awareness and personal growth. Once you learn the lessons, you can apply them in your life at any age and see the benefits to your happiness and well-being.

Here are 50 important life lessons that have stood the test of time:

Life is now

We keeping waiting for that amazing thing to happen in the future that will be the key to our happiness. But this is it. Right now. Life continues to be a series of right nows. So learn to love right now, and you’ll have an amazing life.

Fear is an illusion (mostly)

Most of the things we fear never happen. Or if they do happen, they are rarely as bad as we fear they will be. For most of us, fear is the worst thing that will happen to us. Reality isn’t as painful.

Relationships rule

At the end of the day, what matters most are the people in our lives. Put them first every single day. Before work. Before the computer. Before your hobbies. Treat them like they are everything to you. Because they are.

Debt isn’t worth it

Nothing is more draining and humiliating than being in debt. Spend below your means. Save money. Live free.

Your kids aren’t you

You re the vessel to bring your children into the world and their caretakers until they can care for themselves. You can teach them, love them, and support them, but you can’t change them. They are unique individuals who must live their own lives. Let them.

Things gather dust

Time and money spent accumulating material things will one day irritate you. You must clean, maintain, and move stuff. The less stuff you have, the freer you are. Purchase mindfully.

Fun is underrated

How much of your day is fun? Really fun? Life is short. We should enjoy it. Don’t make things serious that don’t have to be. Create more fun in your life. Don’t worry about what other people think of your fun. Just enjoy it.

Failure is good

We try so hard to avoid failure, but failure is the real evidence that we’ve tried. If you avoid failure, you avoid taking action. Expect and accept that failure is part of the experience. Learn from it and move on.

Friendships need care

One of the top five regrets of the dying is that they let their friendships fade away. Friendships need time and attention. Nurture them like a prized garden. The payoff is so worth it.

Experiences first

The pleasure and positive memories afforded by great experiences far outweigh material things. If you’re trying to decide between the new sofa or the family trip, take the trip every time.

Anger isn’t worth it

The feel-good release of anger lasts a few minutes. The repercussions last far longer. Regret, stress, and unhappiness are the byproducts of angry outbursts. Learn healthier ways to communicate your feelings, and when anger arises, step away until it dissipates.

Kindness matters

Small expressions of kindness have an enormous positive impact on other people. It doesn’t take much to be kind. Practice it every day, in every situation, until it’s your natural way of being.

Age is a number

When you’re twenty you think fifty is old. When you’re fifty, you feel thirty. Our chronological age doesn’t have to define us. Don’t allow a number to hold you back or prevent you from being the person you are inside.

Vulnerability heals

Being real, open, and vulnerable invites people in and allows them to relate to you on a much deeper and more intimate level. Vulnerability, practiced with safe and loving people, can heal emotional pain and strengthen relationships.

Posturing builds walls

Creating a persona to impress or shield yourself from pain diminishes intimacy and authenticity. People generally see through this, and it pushes them away.

Exercise is power

Exercise should be a daily priority for everyone. It makes you physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger. It improves your health and your outlook. It is the panacea for just about everything.

Grudges cause pain

Holding on to a grudge is like injecting poison into your body every day. Forgive and let go. There’s no other way.

Passion upgrades life

When you find that thing you love to do with all your heart, every day feels like a gift. If you haven’t found your passion, make it your mission to find it. The joy it brings spills over into all aspects of your life.

Travel expands you

Travel makes you are more interesting, insightful, and accepting person. It expands you, enlightens you, and teaches you about the variety of people, lifestyles, and cultures. It is a pursuit well worth saving for.

You aren’t always right

We think we have the answers, know what’s right and wrong, good and bad, best for ourselves and other people. But we aren’t always right. There’s always more than one version. There are many perspectives that are valid. Keep yourself open to that truth.

It will pass

Whatever is causing you worry or pain right now won’t cause you worry and pain forever. Time heals. Things change. It will pass.

You define meaning

A meaningful life is what you define it to be. If you neglect to define meaning, you won’t experience it. Decide what makes life worth living for you, and then design your life around that.

Risk expands you

To make positive change in your life, you often must take risk. You must tolerate some level of uncertainty. Taking thoughtful, calculated risk strengthens your change muscle and helps you grow.

Change is good

Life is change. We shouldn’t resist it. Remaining stagnant is in opposition to the natural order of life. Flow with change. Embrace it and regard it as an adventure.

Thoughts aren’t real

Every moment of the day, we have random thoughts floating through our brains. Many of the thoughts are negative and limiting. You don’t have to believe them. They aren’t the truth or the whole truth. Thoughts can become our reality, but only if we let them.

You can’t control others

We want people to think and behave as we do. We want them to accommodate us and live the way we think they should live. We want to change them. But with awareness, we realize we can’t and shouldn’t try to control others. Instead, embrace differences and honor the uniqueness of the people in your life.

Your body is a temple

We all have something, or many somethings, we hate about our bodies. But your body houses your very essence. Treat your body with respect and care for the efficient and wondrous way it takes care of you.

Touch heals

Physical touch is healing and intimate. It bonds us to other people and relieves stress and anxiety. It has a myriad of health benefits such as lowering heart rate and improving the immune system. Mindful, loving touch with those you love is a gift that should be shared.

You can handle it

Whatever you think you can’t handle, you actually can. You have more strength, more resilience, and more inner wisdom than you give yourself credit for. You’ll get through it and survive.

Gratitude multiplies happiness

Consciously focusing on all you have rather than thinking about what you don’t have is afar better use of brain power. Gratitude fosters positive feelings and well-being.

Intuition counts

Your judgement is important, but your intuition super charges your judgement. Intuition is data from your subconscious mind, based on your past experiences and patterns in life. It can arise spontaneously when you are called on to make a decision or need information.

Please yourself first

Pleasing others for approval and acceptance might feel good in the short term, but eventually you will lose yourself and feel resentful. Please yourself first and give to others based on conscious choice, not the desire for approval.

Self-honesty is freedom

When you are in denial about something, you are blinding  yourself to the truth. And even if the truth is temporarily painful, it will ultimately set you free. Be radically honest with yourself so you can live authentically.

Perfection is boring

Perfection is unattainable, and the pursuit of it makes us boring. It is our differences, our foibles, and our imperfections that connect us to humanity and make us real.

Serving creates meaning

If you want meaning in your life, start with serving others. Find a way to make a difference, even a small difference, and your life will feel purposeful.

Little things matter

It’s not the big wins, the great accomplishments, or the status in life that really count. It’s the accumulation of little things — the quiet moments in nature, special time with our kids, seeing the smile on our spouse’s face when we walk in the door. Pay attention to these things.

Learn forever

There is so much to learn and explore in our very short lifetimes. Take advantage of learning every single day. Challenge yourself to acquire a new skill, read something different, take a class. Learning keeps our minds engaged and sharp, even into old age.

Aging happens

Our bodies age. It is a truth we can’t avoid. You can manage aging by doing the best with what you’ve got. But beyond that, do your best to let it go. Enjoying life is the best antidote to getting older.

Marriages change

The person you married will change over time. You will change over time. Hopefully you will change in the same direction or come to love the changes in the other person. Don’t let these changes take you by surprise.

Worry is worthless

Worry is useful only if it leads directly to a solution. But the very nature of worry implies that it doesn’t. You worry about “what if’s” that aren’t real, and the worry itself creates stress and physical symptoms that cause real reason for angst. Learn how to manage your worry thoughts.

Heal your wounds

Don’t allow pain from your past (or present) to linger and cause you suffering. Don’t stuff it down or pretend it doesn’t matter when it does. Seek support from a professional trained to help you heal and renew your emotional health.

Simple is better

A life full of complications, obligations, and an overwhelming schedule make life more difficult and stressful. A simpler life in all regards gives you more space for joy and engagement.

Do the work

If you want something in life, you must do the work to get it. There are rarely shortcuts. But truthfully the work is what affords the most sense of accomplishment.

It’s never too late

This is an excuse for not trying. Great things can be accomplished at any age.

Action beats angst

Action is the cure for worry, procrastination, indecision, anxiety, and frustration. Stop thinking and do something, and you will create momentum that leads to something valuable or at the least heals your turmoil.

Creation beats reaction

Be proactive in your life, designing exactly what you want rather than reacting to what life throws at you. Creation empowers you and expands your opportunities.

Release attachments

Don’t become too attached to outcomes or beliefs. Remain open to all possibilities and ideas. You will be surprised how much more there is to life when you don’t cling to your life experience.

Your words matter

The words you speak have power. Consider your words carefully. Use them for good rather than harm. Once they are out, you can’t take them back.

Make every day count

If you live to age ninety, how many days do you have left? It is a finite number, and one day you will reach the last one. Be conscious of the value of every single day.

Love is the answer

Love is why we are here. It is the force for good in this sometimes random and harsh world. Share it freely. Express is daily.

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Story Credit: Barry Davenport via http://liveboldandbloom.com

The Acre of Diamonds

Zach Dischner
Photo Credit: Zach Dischner via CC Flickr

The following story was told by Dr. Russell H. Conwell to raise millions of dollars to help fund the formation of Temple University in Philadelphia. He used the story to fire the imagination of his listeners during more than 6,000 fund-raising lectures. The story gives us a tremendous illustration of a way that a person can find true happiness in their own “Acres of Happiness.”

Many, many years ago, a young American was traveling down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East and was accompanied by an old Arab guide that he had hired in Bagdad.

During the trip, the guide told him a story about an ancient Persian Ali Hafed. Hafed owned a very large farm, orchards, grain fields, gardens, and money coming in from loans that he made. He was a wealthy and contented man.

One day Hafed was visited by an ancient Buddhist priest who told him how the earth was created and, particularly, about the most valuable thing in the world – diamonds!

Said the priest, “A diamond is a congealed drop of sunlight.” The priest told Hafed that, if he had one diamond the size of his thumb, he could purchase the entire county, and if he had a mine of diamonds he could place his children upon thrones through the influence of his great wealth.”

This set Hafed’s mind ablaze with a lust for such great wealth. So he sold his farm, left his family in charge of a neighbor, and began a search for diamonds in places the priest had said might contain them. Hafed spent all of his money on his lifelong, unsuccessful search and died, far from home, a penniless, suffering, disappointed old man.

The man who purchased Hafed’s farm one day led his camel into the garden to drink and as the camel put its nose into the shallow water of the garden brook, Hafed’s successor noticed a curious flash of light emanating from a black stone in the stream. He pulled out the black stone and placed it on the mantel of his fireplace in his home, and forgot about it.

A few days later the same Buddhist priest who had taught Hafed about the diamonds came to meet the new owner and saw the black stone. “That is a diamond!” he shouted. When his host said that it was just a pebble he had picked up in the garden, the priest replied, “I tell you, I know a diamond when I see it. I know without a shadow of a doubt, that the stone is a diamond.”

It turns out that the farm became the famed diamond mine of Golconda, the richest diamond mine in all of history. The Kohinoor diamond and the crown jewels of England and Russia came from that mine.

The moral, of course,  is that, if Hafed had spent his time and energy exploring his own farm, he would have discovered riches beyond his wildest dreams. This story should teach us all, that if you wish you find greatness, and even wealth, you must first begin where you are…NOW! If you serve your community in a positive way, if you are an honest person, if you are a good provider for your family, whether you work in a shop, in a factory, or whatever your occupation may be, you can find happiness and recognition if you do it well. To find success in whatever endeavor that you choose, you must first look for your “acre of diamonds” right where you live.

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Source: “Wisdom Well Said”

Gestures of Kindness

Pixabay CC0 Public Domain
Photo Credit: Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

There are many kinds of people that we can find in today’s world: the pessimists and optimists, the solemn, the boisterous, the sad, the happy, the mean and nasty, the thoughtful and caring…the list goes on and on. There are also numerous ways that people convey the way they feel towards others by how they act, what they say, and how they behave towards others.

Think of  five different people that you may know…whether or not they are you friends or not does not matter. Think of how they act and/or what they say…OK…think of the way that you feel when they are around you. Do they make you happy or sad? Angry or joyful? Worthless or invaluable? Do they make you feel like a million bucks and on top of the world or like a loser that isn’t worth a dime? Our actions, more than our words, really can mean everything to people that we come in contact with everyday.

Let me tell you this quick little story: Every Sunday, my family and I go to church and every week, as I am walking to my seat, there is one elderly usher, who I will name Charlie, that I always look forward to see the most. I have known Charlie for many years now, but unfortunately, I have never really gotten to know him and I have only learned things about him by bits and pieces. I know that he lives alone with his beloved dog, lost his wife years ago, enjoys camping, and loves the Lord. Like I said, I really don’t know much about him…BUT…I do know this, he is a man with a gentle soul who always has kind words to say, a big smile, a caring spirit, and has always been a HUGE inspiration and source of reassurance to me…he is a quiet man of encouragement!

How many of you are a “Quiet Encouragement” to others? The great thing is this…you don’t have to do or say a lot of things to be a light and inspiration to others! So, make a goal every day and determine how many people you will try to encourage through simple gestures of kindness!

An Encouragement for Dealing With the Discouragements in Life.

Wikimedia
Photo Credit: National Institutes of Health via Wikimedia

I think that it is safe to say that most people like to help others. The gesture makes us feel good about ourselves and makes our lives a little brighter and happier. Conversely, there are instances in which it can seem like we do kind and caring things for people as well as try to “live the good life.” Have you ever noticed that? You try to do things the right way over and over again…yet some individuals that you may know (or don’t know) keep finding the one wrong thing that you may have done and focus on that.

Today’s story serves as an encouragement for you…to remind you to always keep your eyes on the positive things in life and not the mistakes that you may have made.

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One day a school teacher wrote the following math equations on the blackboard;

9×1=7

9×2=18

9×3=27

9×4=36

9×5=45

9×6=54

9×7=63

9×8=72

9×9=81

9×10=90

When he was done, he looked at the students who were all laughing at him, because the first equation was wrong. The teacher then said the following….”I wrote that first equation wrong on purpose because I wanted you to learn something important. This was for you to know how the world out there will treat you. You can see that I wrote the correct equations 9 times correctly but none of you congratulated me for it; you all laughed and criticized me because of the one wrong thing that I did. So this is the lesson…”

“The world will never appreciate the good you do a million times, but will criticize you for the one wrong thing that you do…don’t get discouraged.”

“ALWAYS RISE ABOVE THE LAUGHTER AND CRITICISM…STAY STRONG!.”

Time is Precious

vincent-albanese
Photo Credit: Vincent Albanese via CC Flickr

The speed and pace of today’s world is absolutely incredible. It seems as though time is flying by quicker and quicker, and we find ourselves with less time to do the things that we once did. The Technology Age, computers, the internet, social media, etc., has made it so that information can be found instantly and at the touch of a button.

Unfortunately, statistics also show us that people are under more stress, have less social skills, and are more out of shape, then ever before. How often do we desire to do something with our loved ones, family or friends…then “put it off”, and never get to do it?

The following poem, “Slow Dance,” written by David Weatherford, is an awesome reminder of the importance of spending our time wisely. Using our limited time here on Earth, to enjoy friendships, the beauty of the world, the joy of life, etc. It is my hope that the following words touch your heart and inspire you to understand the sweet importance of time and how we should use it.

“SLOW DANCE” by DAVID WEATHERFORD

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round

Or listened to rain slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight

Or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

Do you run through each day on the fly?

When you ask, “How are you?” do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

Ever told your child, “We’ll do it tomorrow,”

And in your haste not seen his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die,

’Cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

When you run so fast to get somewhere,

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race, so take it slower,

Hear the music before your song is over.