Building the Castles of Our Lives

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We all have dreams and goals of the things that we would like to accomplish in our lives…building a successful business, establishing an effective career, having a positive, worthwhile job, the list can go on and on. The real question is HOW we go about attaining of life-long goals. How do we treat our family and friends? How much time and effort do we dedicate to achieving the material things in life like a nice house, fancy cars, good-looking clothes, lots of money, etc.?

Where is your heart? Your focus? Your priorities?

A short time ago, I came across the following story which, I hope, will serve as a helpful reminder that we should all be careful and wise when we are building the castles of our lives.

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A little while ago, on a nice, warm summer day, a little boy, on his knees, scoops and packs the sand with plastic shovels into a bucket during his time at the beach. He upends the bucket and dumps its contents on the beach and starts to work on his creation. After a short time, to the delight of the little architect, a castle tower is created. He spends the entire afternoon shoveling out the moat, packing the walls, and strategically placing the guards around the castle using bottle tops and building bridges with Popsicle sticks. With his hours of hard work on the beach, a sandcastle will be built.

Meanwhile, in a big city with busy streets and rumbling traffic, a man works in an office.  He shuffles papers into stacks, delegates assignments, cradles the phone on his shoulder and punches the keyboard with his fingers. He juggles with numbers, contracts get signed and much to the delight of the man, a profit is made. All his life he will work. Formulating the plans and forecasting the future. His annuities will be sentries and Capital gains will be his bridges. An empire will be built.

The two builders of the two castles have very much in common. They both shape granules into grandeur. They both make something beautiful out of nothing. They both are very diligent and determined to build their world. And for both, the tide will rise and the end will come. Yet that is where the similarities cease. For the little boy sees the end of his castle while the man ignores it. As the dusk approaches and the waves near, the child jumps to his feet and begins to clap as the waves wash away his masterpiece. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He is not surprised, he knew this would happen. He smiles, picks up his tools and takes his father’s hand, and goes home.

The man in his sophisticated office is not very wise like the child. As the wave of years collapses on his empire, he is terrified. He hovers over the sandy monument to protect it. He tries to block the waves with the walls he made. He snarls at the incoming tide. “It’s my castle,” he defies. The ocean need not respond. Both know to whom the sand belongs.

So, go ahead and build your dreams but build with a child’s heart. When the sun sets and the tides take – applaud. Salute the process of life and go home with a smile.

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Source: All Time Short Stories

Stop Your Quacking!

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A little while ago, I found a story that has been one of my favorites for quite some time. I decided to pass this story along. It is a beautiful little story that shows us the value of life and the depth of a mother’s love for her children.

It was a typical hectic wet spring Saturday and I was driving to a local department store in search of a baby shower gift for my daughter, she was having my first Grandchild. I told my husband I would only be gone a short while cause I kind of knew what I wanted to buy. As most rainy spring Saturday’s would have it, the traffic was heavy and everyone seemed to be in a mad hurry.

As I was leaving BABIES ARE US, and scampered across the parking lot to my car, I noticed a large brown duck circling a sewer grid. As I approached the duck she came waddling up to me frantically quacking. As soon as she knew she had my attention, she turned and waddled back to the sewer grid. As I looked down into the sewer I counted eleven tiny yellow ducklings. I thought for a moment saying out loud that I was very late and very wet and there was nothing I could do. Besides, the sewer grid was much to heavy for me to move. Even out loud, no excuse sounded good enough, I knew I couldn’t leave. This was a mother duck and her ducklings were in trouble and she came to me for help. As I stood there helpless, other people approached to see why I was standing in a parking lot talking to a duck. She circled me relentlessly quacking. It was quite the spectacle.

Just then a young man and his pregnant wife approached me and I began explaining the situation. Without coaxing, the young man took action. He carefully lifted off the grate and went in after the ducklings. One by one he lifted them to me. An employee from a nearby store came out with a box and we began filling the box with the little quackers. Seven ducklings filled the box and the young man assumed his rescue feat was completed. As he returned the sewer grid and turned to me he saw the sadness in my face, I knew in my heart I had counted eleven ducks, four were still lost…

By now a small crowd had gathered to watch the rescue. With seven ducklings in the box I set the box on the ground and moved away. The mother duck cautiously entered the box of quackers and quieted them down. A couple from the crowd volunteered to take the box to a nearby pond. When they tried to pick up the box the Mother duck flew from the box in noisy fright. Again, the employee from the nearby store ran through the rain with a top for the box. As the Mother duck settled down the second time in the box of quackers I quickly placed the cover on top. Although, the Mother duck protested, the couple put the box in their car and set off for the pond. Everyone seemed happy, applauding everyone’s efforts and then left. But I couldn’t! There were four more baby ducks down there.

I stood quietly listening and worrying… they were baby ducks! A half hour had passed as I stood the rainy vigil with no sounds from the sewer, except the gushing water. Two new people came by to ask me why I was standing near the sewer staring down. I explained what happened and that four ducklings were still missing. The woman and her daughter then lifted the grate and suddenly we heard the low quacks of the ducklings calling for their Mother over the gushing water.

The man with his pregnant wife came to the rescue again, this time armed with a flash light. He smiled at me and said, “Four more huh!” He disappeared again into the sewer drain and was gone for several minutes. The rain had picked up and the sewer was again being filled with water. The pregnant young woman began to openly worry about her husband being in the sewer and how wet he would be. Suddenly, his head popped out of the sewer drain followed by a huge smile. In his jacket were 4 ducklings quacking their heads off.

We covered the sewer drain and got into our cars. He waited until we lined up to follow him in his truck to the nearby pond where the mother duck and the other ducklings had been released. With lights on high-beam and windshield wipers flapping, as though in a parade, we approached the pond. Standing near the water, the quacking of the four stragglers brought the mother duck and her brood to the shore line to be re-united. My heart was singing and everyone was smiling like we had all just won the million dollar lottery.

I didn’t ask any of the rescuer’s names or what made them want to get involved with saving eleven tiny ducklings on a very wet busy Saturday in spring, I only know I felt as though the mother duck and God were counting on us.

When I finally arrived home dripping wet my husband looked at me with some annoyance saying “where were you for so long.” I just smiled and said, “Someone quite small reminded me just how precious life is and the love that bonds mothers and their offspring, so just stop your quacking! I’m going to be a GRANDMOTHER!”

Source: Truthbook.com

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Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. ~Mother Teresa

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!

 

 

I Went to See A Friend Today

backlit dawn foggy friendship
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I recently came across a poem about friends and friendship the other day that is, in some ways, related to a previous post of mine, “Do It All the Way”. Friendships and the passing of time, are things that we need to consider more and more each day. The following poem was posted on May 6, 2016 by oldmainer It serves as a great reminder to us all!

 I Went to See A Friend Today

I went to see a friend today
A friend I had not seen
Since he was in his twenties
And I was still a teen

We were both inseparable then
See one, you’d see the other
Sharing everything we did. 
He was like a brother

But as so often happens
Too soon there came the day
When he decided to remain
And I to move away

We wished each other good luck
Recalled good times we’d shared
Said that we would keep in touch
See how each other fared

But of course that didn’t happen
The days just came and went
No phone calls were ever made
No greetings ever sent

How quickly the time passes
And friendships start to dim
Although we went our separate ways
I often thought of him

I wondered how he looked today
How he had weathered life
Did he still live in our old home town
Did he ever take a wife

One day I got a letter
And when I looked inside
I read I regret to inform you
That your friend has died

I went to see a friend today
As I’ve often said I would
To visit for a little while
My promise to make good

I wish that I could tell him
How bad I feel that I
Never took the time to say hello
Before I said goodbye

Friendships are precious. Be sure to take some time to visit the people that are special in your life. Enjoy the time you spend together and remember the good memories from the past.

 

“There is nothing on this earth more prized than true friendship.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

Family Problems and the Theory of Relativity

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Everyone comes from a family and it goes without saying that problems and negative situations will occasionally show their ugly heads. But the one thing that some just can’t seem to figure out is the family and relative terminology such as who is their second or third cousin, great uncle, etc. Stuff like this can drive us crazy. They can really create turmoil and misunderstanding.

But…

If you think your family has problems figuring this stuff out, consider the marriage mayhem created when 76-year-old Bill Baker of London recently wed Edna Harvey. She happened to be his granddaughter’s husband’s mother. That’s where the confusion began, according to Baker’s granddaughter, Lynn.

“My mother-in-law is now my step-grandmother. My grandfather is now my stepfather-in-law. My mom is my sister-in-law and my brother is my nephew. But even crazier is that I’m now married to my uncle and my own children are my cousins.”

From this experience, Lynn should gain profound insight into the Theory of Relativity.

~ Campus Life, March, 1981, p. 31

Life

Laugh

Love

Children: They Learn What They Live

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

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

All of this leads me to today’s story.

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

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

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

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

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

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

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

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

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

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

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

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

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

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

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

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

them.

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

 

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

Short Love Stories That Will Touch Your Heart (part 1)

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Are you tired of all of the bad, negative, fake, antagonizing, and depressing that you hear each day about the world around you? Then I have just the thing for you! The following short love stories will be sure to make you smile and (hopefully) give you some enjoyment and delight while you read these uplifting accounts of love.

Today, my 75-year-old grandpa who has been blind from cataracts for almost 15 years said to me, “Your grandma is just the most beautiful thing, isn’t she?” I paused for a second and said, “Yes she is. I bet you miss seeing that beauty on a daily basis.” “Sweety,” my grandpa said, “I still see her beauty every day. In fact, I see it more now than I used to when we were young.”

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Today, I was sitting on a hotel balcony watching 2 lovers in the distance walk along the beach. From their body language, I could tell they were laughing and enjoying each other’s company. As they got closer, I realized they were my parents. My parents almost got divorced 8 years ago.

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Today, I was in an accident that left me with a gash on my forehead.  The doctors wrapped a bandage around my head and said I have to keep it on all week.  I hate wearing it.  Two minutes ago my little brother walked into my room wearing a bandage on his head.  My mom said he insisted that he didn’t want me to feel alone.

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My grandpa keeps an old, candid photo on his nightstand of my grandma and him laughing together at some party in the 1960’s. My grandma passed away from cancer in 1999 when I was 7. This evening when I was at his house, my grandpa caught me staring at the photo. He walked up, hugged me from behind and said, “Remember, just because something doesn’t last forever, doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth your while.”

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Love Your Family,

Love Your Friends,

Love Your Life

 

Old Warwick

donkey
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There is an old proverb that says that “Many hands make light work.” In other words, large tasks or jobs can become smaller and easier to accomplish when divided among many people. When people work together in a positive and encouraging environment, the sky really is the limit to the things that can be done. This is true for every work and job setting, the family unit, sports teams, etc. Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” The important thing is that each member of the group feels important and that their thoughts, opinions, ideas, and contributions are important and worthwhile to their group.

 There are times when as leaders, we need to take the time to encourage, inspire, and uplift the individuals that we are working with. A good leader will lead by example by working with their group, sometimes side by side and not in a dictatorship-type of role. Positive motivation and incentive are some of the biggest keys to healthy teamwork.

 Today’s Story illustrates this concept of teamwork beautifully…

Many, many years ago, a man became lost while driving his car through the countryside. Foolishly, he tried to read his map as he was driving and soon drove off the road and landed in a ditch. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt but his car was securely stuck in some deep mud. He decided to look for help. After a short distance, he spotted a farmhouse and decided to ask someone for assistance.

The man soon met the farmer and told him of his predicament. Pointing out to his field, the farmer said, see that old mule out there? The man looked at the old, haggard and frayed mule then looked back to the farmer. The farmer said, “Yep, old Warwick there can do the job!”

The man shrugged his shoulders and thought to himself, I have nothing to lose, so the two men and Warwick made their way back to the ditch.

The farmer hitched up old Warwick to the car, snapped the reins and yelled out, “Pull, Henry! Pull, Nellie! Pull, Ted! Pull, Franklin! Pull, Warwick!” Then, with minimal effort, the aged mule popped the car from the murky sludge, the car was free!

The man stood in amazement. He thanked the farmer, patted the mule, then asked, “Why did you call out all those other names before you called out Warwick?”

The farmer just smiled and said, “Old Warwick is almost blind. As long as he believes that he is part of a team, he doesn’t mind pulling.”

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“A GOOD LEADER inspires others with confidence in him…a GREAT LEADER inspires them with a confidence in themselves.” ~ Unknown

Homelessness and the Tyranny of Urgency

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Photo Credit: Author Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what do we do?

HELP, HOPE, HOME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BE THE HANDS AND FEET OF CHRIST!

 

 

EMMANUEL LABOR is God working through us…

A Sandpiper to Bring You Joy

Ekaterina Chernetsova (Papchinskaya)
Photo Credit: Ekaterina Chernetsova (Papchinskaya) via CC Flickr

There are some stories that are worth repeating..today’s story is one of them.

A year or so ago, I posted a story that I had come across simply called, “The Sandpiper.” Unbeknownst to me, the story that I published was one that had been copied and re-written by another person who wrongly took credit for it. Fortunately for me, the daughter of the real author, Mary Serman Hilbert, contacted me and told me the following…

“This story was written by my mother Mary Sherman Hilbert back in in 1978 and is copyrighted in the  US Library of Congress. It was published in Readers Digest in 1980. The story has been reprinted in over ten languages and made into two plays.

There are many plagiarized versions on the internet, including the one that has an MR. Peterson instead of Mrs. P. (Ruth Peterson) as the central woman, as you have posted here. Please read Snopes assessment here for accurate clarification of the story’s background: https://www.snopes.com/glurge/sandpiper.asp

My mother passed away New Years Day 2010 at the age of eighty-seven.

~ Leigh Hilbert, December 11th, 2017

Most people who have posted my mom’s story have had good intentions and had no way to know if it had been altered along the internet pathways.

There are a few correct versions online. I will post here the original version and you can maybe repost it.”

So, without further ado, here is the original, beautiful story of the Sandpiper…..

A Sandpiper to Give You Joy

by Mary Serman Hilbert

Several years ago, a neighbor related to me an experience that happened to her one winter on a beach in Washington State. The incident stuck in my mind and I took note of what she said. Later, at a writers’ conference, the conversation came back to me and I felt I had to set it down. Here is her story, as haunting to me now as when I first heard it:

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.

She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.

“Hello,” she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.

“I’m building,” she said.

“I see that. What is it?” I asked, not caring.

“Oh, I don’t know. I just like the feel of the sand.”

That sounds good, I thought and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. “That’s a joy,” the child said.

“It’s what?”

“It’s a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.”

The bird went glissading down the beach. “Good-bye, joy,” I muttered to myself,

“hello, pain,” and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.

“What’s your name?” She wouldn’t give up.

“Ruth,” I answered, “I’m Ruth Peterson.”

“Mine’s Windy.” It sounded like Windy. “And I’m six.” “Hi, Windy.”

She giggled. “You’re funny,” she said. In spite of my gloom I laughed too and walked on.

Her musical giggle followed me. “Come again, Mrs. P,” she called. “We’ll have another happy day.”

The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, an ailing mother.

The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. “I need a sandpiper,” I said to myself, gathering up my coat.

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.

“Hello, Mrs. P,” she said. “Do you want to play?”

“What did you have in mind?” I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.

“I don’t know. You say.”

“How about charades?” I asked sarcastically.

The tinkling laughter burst forth again. “I don’t know what that is.”

“Then let’s just walk.” Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. “Where do you live?” I asked.

“Over there.” She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter.

“Where do you go to school?”

“I don’t go to school. Mommy says we’re on vacation.”

She chattered “little-girl” talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Windy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.

Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood even to greet Windy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding that she keep her child at home.

“Look, if you don’t mind,” I said crossly when Windy caught up with me, “I’d rather be alone today.” She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.

“Why?” She asked.

I turned on her and shouted, “Because my mother died!” – and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child?

“Oh, she said quietly, “then this is a bad day.”

“Yes, and yesterday and the day before that and – oh, go away!”

“Did it hurt?”

“Did what hurt?” I was exasperated with her, with myself.

“When she died?”

“Of course it hurt!” I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn’t there. Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn-looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.

“Hello,” I said. “I’m Ruth Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.”

“Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in.”

“Wendy talked of you so much. I’m afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please accept my apologies.”

“Not at all – she’s a delightful child,” I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it. “Where is she?”

“Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn’t tell you.”

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught.

She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks she declined rapidly ” Her voice faltered. “She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?”

I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything, to say to this lovely young woman.

She handed me a smeared envelope, with MRS. P printed in bold, childish letters.

Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues – a yellow beach, a blue sea, a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:

A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY

Tears welled up in my eyes and a heart that had almost forgotten how to love opened wide. I took Wendy’s mother in my arms. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, “I’m so sorry,” I muttered over and over, and we wept together.

The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words – one for each year of her life – that speak to me of inner harmony, courage, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand – who taught me the gift of love.

Navigating the Seas of Grief and Despair

Jeremy Segrott
Photo Credit: Jeremy Segrott via CC Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Courage to Change Your Life Forever

Pixabay
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Relationships are things that can come in all kinds of degrees, shapes and sizes. It was once said that relationships are like birds, if you hold them tightly they die. If you hold them loosely, they fly away. But if you hold with care, they remain with you forever.  Some relationships can be beautiful, loving, and delightful for people who really enjoy each other and being together.

Unfortunately, there are also other kinds of relationships that can be abusive, hateful, and unbearable. In many instances, people feel trapped…wanting to get out of them but either unwilling to “take the step” or afraid…of either not knowing what to do next or of more physical and/or emotional abuse.

A few days ago, I came across the following story on kindnessblog.com that I decided that I would share on my blog, that will hopefully motivate and encourage someone who might be experiencing an unhealthy relationship right now. It is a beautiful story of courage and hope.

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A man came across a folded piece of paper while he was at San Francisco airport that said ‘read me‘ on the front.  How could anyone possibly resist that invitation?  He knew he just had to look.  So, he did.

And what he discovered inside was surprising and wonderful…

“I recently left an emotionally abusive relationship After months of insults I wont repeat, false accusations, lies, delusions, broken mirrors, nightly battles…. I left. I know that I was being poisoned by each day that I stayed. So with a heavy heart, I left my lover of three years, knowing that I had already put it off too long. At first he begged, then he cursed, but eventually he packed his bags and faded out of my life like a bad dream.

For the first few weeks, my body seemed to reject this. For three years I had seen the world through him-colored glasses. I didn’t know who I was without him. Despite the kindness of friends and even strangers. I could not help feeling utterly alone.

But it was this sense of lonesomeness that set me free. Somewhere along the way, I let go. I released all the painful memories, the names he had called me, the shards of him buried deep in my brain. I stopped believing the things he had made me think about myself. I began to see how extraordinary, breathtakingly beautiful life is. I meditated, drank too much coffee, talked to strangers, laughed at nothing. I wrote poetry and stopped to smell and photograph every flower. Once I discovered that my happiness depends only on myself, nothing could hurt me anymore.

I have found and continue to find peace. Each day I am closer to it than I was yesterday. I am a work in progress but I am full to the brim with gratitude and joy. And so, since I have opened a new chapter in my life, I want to peacefully part with the contents of the last chapter. The end of my relationship was the catalyst for a wealth of positive changes in my life. It was a symbol, more importantly, it was an act of self-love. It was a realization that I deserved to be happy and I could choose to be.

And so, in an effort to leave behind the things that do not help me grow, I am letting go of a relic from the painful past. I wore this necklace-a gift from him-every day for over tow years. To me, letting it go is a joyous declaration that I am moving forward with strength and grace and deep, lasting peace.

Please accept this gift as a reminder that we all deserve happiness. Whoever you are, and whatever pain you have faced, I hope you find peace.

Namaste,
Jamie”

Leaving a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but it is most certainly possible.

Jamie’s letter shows that with courage and a measure of self-love, you can change your own life for the better, and find happiness in a way you might not have thought possible.

The Things Money Can’t Buy

Keith Cooper
Photo Credit: Keith Cooper via CC Flickr

There is no question that everyone wants to have money and wealth. It is comforting to know that when you have an adequate amount of money, you can enjoy some of the good things in life: good food, good friends, and good times. But there is also a downside of having a lot of money: greed, theft, bad intentions, and, more importantly, a loss of the things that are REALLY valuable in a person’s life.

Today’s short story is a terrific illustration of the effects that money and wealth can have on everyone around you. It is not a bad thing to have a lot of money and/or wealth, but what you do with it.

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Caha had a big family with 3 daughters, 2 sons, and a beautiful wife. He not only lived with his family but also had his father and mother living with them as well. He was a very hard worker and spent countless hours every day at his job to be able to feed his family. Being the sole bread winner of the family the took pride in all that he did and how much he gave his loved ones.

Caha worked for more than 16 hours a day. His kids didn’t see him much.  He would leave his home early every morning before the kids woke-up and come home during the late hours of the night when kids were fast asleep. Every day, his entire family eagerly await to spend quality time with him…the kids miss him so much.

Sundays were always the favorite day for Caha’s family because it was on those days that he would spend all of his time with them. Unfortunately, to meet the increasing household expenses and educational expenses, Caha decided to accept a weekend job and work even on Sundays. Needless to say, his kids, wife and parents were very disappointed.

Caha’s continues this work schedule for a few weeks which soon became a year. After a year, his company was very impressed at all the hard work that he had put into the business and was offered a promotion that had an attractive pay raise and benefits. He gladly accepted it.

Soon, Caha’s family moved to a new house, wore better clothes and ate the best food that money could buy. However, as usual, Caha continued his busy workload and earned more and more money.

One day his wife asked him ‘Why are you working so hard for money? We can be happy with what we have now.’

Caha replied, ‘I want you and our family to have the best things in the world and always be happy.”

Two more years passed and Caha hardly spent time with his family. The children yearned to have their father at home. Meanwhile, the sincere efforts and hard work of Caha earned him a fortune. He was offered partnership and shared in the profits of the company. As time continued to march on, Caha continued to earn more and more wealth.

Caha’s family eventually became one of the richest families in the city. They now had a beautiful beach house, fabulous cars, and a plethora of other valuable goods. They had everything that they could ever dream of but there was still a huge vacuum…his children longed and craved for their father to be home with them.

His children eventually grew into their teens and they were no longer kids. By this time, Caha had earned enough wealth to provide a luxurious life for his family for the next five generations.

One day, Caha’s family went to their beach house to spend their vacation. One of his daughters asked, ‘Dad will you please spend one, just one day at home and stay with us here?’

Caha nodded his head and replied, ‘Yes darling, tomorrow for sure, I will join you for the lunch and be with you all for next few days. I’m tired of work and need some relaxation!’

Upon hearing the news, the entire family became very happy and were ecstatic knowing that they were finally going to be spending time with Caha!!

Unfortunately, the next day, in the early morning hours, Caha’s entire family perished in a Tsunami that hit the shores of their beach home.

Meanwhile, at his job, Caha was so busy that he didn’t hear the news about Tsunami. Later, when he tried to reach his beach house, the only thing he saw was water and debris everywhere. He screamed and called out for his family, but he never did find anyone from his family. He was totally alone. Caha knew that he can never have them back or see them again. All the money, the millions of dollars that he had earned, could never bring them back.

Then he remembered his wife’s words, ‘Why are you working so hard for money? We can be happy with what we have now.’

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Like I mentioned previously, money can’t buy everything. We all need to remember that the most important and valuable things in life are the things that are unseen. Take time each day to give your loved ones a simple hug, a loving kiss, and tell them how much you love and care for them…because these are the things that money will never be able to buy!

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!

The Joy of Changing A Life

august-brill
Photo Credit: August Brill via CC Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Unknown

The Need of Caring for Others

artis-rams
Photo Credit: Artis Ram via CC Flickr

I have stated in previous blogs, that I firmly believe that the reason people are put on this earth is to assist other individuals and show compassion and empathy towards them. When we really love our neighbors as ourselves, we find that we feel more content, satisfied, and happy about our own lives. Many, many times, you will discover that the happiest people in the world, are the ones that help and care about others.

Today’s story is a beautiful illustration of the love that a son shows his elder father which, once again, is a small sample, of how much we should assist other people, like our loved ones, as they get older.


A son took his old father to a restaurant for an evening dinner.

His father, being very old and weak, while eating, dropped food on his shirt and pants. The mess that he made disgusted the other diners in the restaurant while his son remained calm.

After they were finished eating, the son, who was not embarrassed at all, quietly took him to the wash room, wiped off the food particles, removed the stains, combed his hair and fitted his glasses firmly, When they came out, the entire restaurant was watching them in dead silence, not able to grasp how someone could embarrass themselves publicly like that.

The son settled the bill and started to leave the eatery with his father.

At that time, an old man amongst the diners called out to the son and asked him, “Don’t you think you left something behind?”

The son replied, “No sir, I haven’t.”

The old man retorted, “Yes, you have! You have left a lesson for every son and hope for every father.”

The restaurant went silent.

To care for those who once cared for us is one of life’s highest honors!

Pictures That Speak Volumes #79: Sweetness

a724728398c9b57cb92dbaf714feab8c
Photo Credit: Unknown

There is absolutely nothing in the world heartwarming, precious and has the ability to bring a smile to a face than watching the innocent love and joy of a child and their pet. Just look at the enjoyment, contentment, and adoration of this little girl.

Simply…Priceless!

Showing Grace

Todd Huffman
Photo Credit: Todd Huffman via CC Flickr

Grace is an amazing thing…an attribute that is hard to find in some people. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve and not getting what you do deserve. The following story is a terrific illustration of the amazing power of grace. As you read this tale, think: do I show grace to other people? CAN I show grace to others? Today, think of ways how you can demonstrate grace towards others, then go out and show it when the time arrives!

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Ahmed Shah was a famous ruler of Afghanistan.

The nation had been wracked by conflict among tribal leaders, but Shah brought peace. Legend has it Shah led the people to a secret valley that he had discovered on his travels, a vast plain, bordered on all sides by sheer cliff faces. To protect their new peaceful way of life it was imperative that no-one reveal the hidden passageway into the plain..

One day, Ahmed Shah was approached by a very nervous lieutenant. “Emir, we  caught someone revealing the location of the secret passageway.” The traitor was Ahmed Shah’s mother!

Ahmed Shah was distraught. He could release Ahmed’s mother, kill the soldiers who captured her and hush the whole matter up by killing the guards who had captured her. But all chaos would break loose once word of this got out. Shah decided he would think it over during the night and announce his decision in the morning.

When morning arrived everyone gathered in the square. Ahmed announced his mother must receive a hundred lashes, which would almost certainly mean her death. Ahmed’s mother was marched into the square and bound.

The first two lashes already saw her bloodied and buckled. Ahmed could bear it no longer.  He halted proceedings, untied his mother and carried her to his rooms. Then emerging from his hut, he demanded that no-one move. He had something to say. He then addressed the crowd,

“The penalty for my mother’s crime was one hundred lashes. She has paid two of them. I will pay the other ninety-eight.” By the end Ahmed was at death’s door, beaten, bloodied and bruised. For some weeks it was unclear if he would survive. He did survive and his people never forgot this act of loving grace.

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Source: storiesforpreaching.com

The 89 Year Old Thief

89 Year Old Thief

The Four Wives We All Have

Eksley
Photo Credit: Eksley via CC Flickr

Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.

He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.

He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times.

The King’s 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her!

One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, “I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I’ll be all alone.” Thus, he asked the 4th wife, “I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No way!”, replied the 4th wife, and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.

The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, “I have loved you all my life. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No!”, replied the 3rd wife. “Life is too good! When you die, I’m going to remarry!” His heart sank and turned cold.

He then asked the 2nd wife, “I have always turned to you for help and you’ve always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?” “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this time!”, replied the 2nd wife. “At the very most, I can only send you to your grave.” Her answer came like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.

Then a voice called out: “I’ll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go.” The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was so skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said, “I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!”

In truth, we all have 4 wives in our lives: Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die.

Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.

Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.

And our 1st wife is our Soul, which is often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. So cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us who will follow us to the throne of God and continue with us throughout Eternity. When the world pushes you to your knees…..You’re in the perfect position to pray. Think about this… Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days? But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than to our own family, an unwise investment indeed, don’t you think? And we often treat strangers and co-workers better than members of our family.
Have you hugged and loved your family today and told them that you love them? If not, what are you waiting for?

The love of a family is life’s greatest blessings!

 

 

 

There’s A Mouse in the House!!

micolo-j Flickr
Photo Credit: Micolo-j via CC Flickr

This is a re-post of an article that I posted way back when I first began my “Good Time Stories” page. It is one of my favorite little stories. I hope you like it as much as I do!!


There are many people in today’s world that want nothing to do with helping other people. Their thought is, “why should I go out of my way to help them with the problem that they are facing? It has nothing to do with me.” Well, sometimes this decision can come back to affect them. The story today clearly illustrates why, sometimes, we should go out of our way to help others.

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. What food might this contain? The mouse wondered – he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr.Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me.”” I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The pig sympathized, but said, I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. “Be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow and said “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house — like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.

But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.
The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember…..the mouse in the house.

One of Life’s Highest Honors

Thomas Leuthard
Photo Credit: Thomas Leuthard via CC Flickr

It was once said that the reason that humans are put into this world is to help and encourage others. Think about it. What makes you the happiest? When you are receiving something or getting something?

 The most important things in life aren’t the things that you can see…like money, houses, boats, clothes, etc. The things in life that REALLY matter and have infinite meaning to people, are the things that are priceless and unseen such as kindness, love, thoughtfulness, etc….ways that you TREAT others.

 Today’s short story is a great example of the ULTIMATE way that a person can repay someone with kindness and goodness.


A son took his father to a restaurant for an evening dinner.

The father, being very old and weak, while he was eating, dropped food and his shirt and pants. Other diners watched him in disgust and revulsion while his son was calm and enjoyed hit time with his dad.

After they were finished eating, the son, who wasn’t embarrassed at all, quietly took his father to the washroom, wiped off the food particles, removed the stains, combed his hair and fitted his glasses firmly. When they came back out, the entire restaurant was watching them in dead silence, not able to grasp how someone could embarrass themselves publicly like that.

The son settled the bill and started leaving with his father.

At that time, an old man sitting among the diners called out to the son and asked him, “Don’t you think that you have left something behind?”

The son replied, “No sir, I haven’t.”

The old man retorted, “Yes, you have! You have left a lesson for every son…and hope for every father.”

The restaurant was silent.

To care for those who once cared for us, is one of life’s highest honors!

Pictures That Speak Volumes #74

kid and cat
Photo Credit: Unknown

There is nothing more precious than seeing the pure innocence and joy of a youngster. This photo is a terrific image of a little toddler enjoying his furry little friend.

It really does make you think what people would be like…as they get older…if they still had this kind of total happiness and joy throughout their lives. It just goes to show us once again, the importance of taking the time to enjoy the little things in life, staying focused on the positive, learn from the negative, and ALWAYS be thankful!

Remember: NO ONE IS IN CHARGE OF YOUR HAPPINESS EXCEPT FOR YOU!!! 

 

 

The Story of a REAL Superman!

Scott Feldstein
Photo Credit: Scott Feldstein via CC Flickr

We all love super heroes. When most of us were growing up, we always had a role model, someone we looked up to, or a super hero that we wanted to be when we grew up. It was fun thinking (and sometimes still do) about the awesomeness of having the super power to fly, leap higher than the tallest building, run faster than lightning, become bulletproof, and a host of other things.

Sometimes, unbeknownst to us, there are sometimes REAL super heroes in our midst…and we have no idea who they are! Such is the case of today’s story of a person that was a super hero despite of the “evil” said by others.

I am sure that today’s short story will touch your heart in a special way and, maybe, bring a tear to your eye…but it is a story and a lesson that you may never forget…

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While sitting on a train one day, a young boy about 7 years old got on dressed as Superman. He had the biggest smile on his face…his eyes beaming…and joy just emanating from his soul. Suddenly, a heartless and callous man asked the boy, “Hey kid, you aren’t Superman! So why are you dressed up like him?”

The young boy just looked at him and said, “I may not look like Superman to you, but I’m going to see my mom who is very sick in the hospital and she smiles every time she sees me…so I’m her Superman…and that’s why I am dressed like this.”

Absolutely Precious!

The Purpose of Dogs According to Six-Year-Old

jimmy brown
Photo Credit: Jimmy Brown via CC Flickr

One of my favorite things in life when I was younger was having a companion that was as close as a sibling, friend, or family member….my pet dog. We did everything together…go swimming, play soccer (he was the goalie), fishing, going on walks, etc. I remember how sad I was when I learned that my dad had to “put him down” after living a long dog’s life.

I used to think, “I wonder why dogs were given to us humans?”

Well, of all of the explanations that I ever heard, the following story is probably the best explanation that I ever heard. I hope you enjoy this short little story as much as I did!

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Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found that he was dying of cancer. I told the family that we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought that it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting his old friend for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animals lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly piped up, “I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, “people are born so they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

The six-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, that’s why they don’t have to stay here as long.