It’s Time to Celebrate!!!

bright celebration christmas color
Photo by Martin Hauenstein on Pexels.com

My grandma was an awesome lady. She used to give my brother and I great words of advice and words of wisdom as we grew up…but that story is for another day. But there is one quote that she used to say to us…especially as she got older…that I am understanding more and more each day, “the older you get, the days get longer and the years get shorter.” WOW! Isn’t that the truth!!

It is hard to believe that it was almost six years ago, February, 2013, that I decided to start a little blog in which I could share motivational, inspirational, heartwarming, and entertaining stories that I would find on the internet or from other people. I used to thunk that if I ever posted 100 posts…that would be amazing…200 or 300 posts would be “out of this world.”

Well, today marks my 1,000 post on “Good Time Stories!”

I never imagined in a million years that I would ever post that many stories, etc. I have enjoyed every minute and every word of each one of them. For people that know me (and even if you don’t), there is nothing in the world that makes me happier, makes my life feel so fulfilled as helping and encouraging others! I truly believe that human beings are wired in such a way, that “it is truly better to give than to receive.” Think about it…when do you feel the best? When you receive something or when you give something to someone and see the joy and happiness in someone. The gratitude and joy that they send back to you is immeasurable…simply awesome. If you ever have a lousy day, try helping someone else or show them an act of kindness…it will change your whole day!!

So, my journey of finding and posting new words and stories of encouragement will continue. Hopefully, I will be able to continue to find these stories and anecdotes to brighten others in a world that primarily a dark place…and give them a reason to smile, laugh, and see that every life is beautiful and our amazing world is a good place to be!

A Beautiful Short Story of Love

man wearing blue jacket holding a brown stick towards the heart drawn on sand
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

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

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

Beautiful words of unconditional love.

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

The Power of the Pow-Wow

 

Andy Wright
Photo Credit: Andy Wright via CC Flickr

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

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

tribe

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

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

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

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

Thus, the Power of the Pow-Wow!

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

 

 

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…

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.

 

The Mother Who Became A Hero

I have always found that the power of words and what people say to other individuals, a fascinating thing. We all know how much words can affect people…whether they be good or bad…we all need to watch and be careful what we say. Sometimes words that are spoken wrongly, can hurt or crush a soul, while transversely, words that are vocalized in a positive manner, can uplift and encourage a person…sometimes more than they could ever imagine.

Thomas Edison
Photo Credit: Unknown

Such is a story that I found on the web site, The Meta Picture.com It a story about a mother who changed her son’s life forever. The son later became a famous American inventor and enjoyed world-wide fame. This is a great lesson about the power of words.

—————————-

One day, when Thomas Edison was just a boy, he came home after school one day and gave a paper to his mother. He told her, “My teacher gave this paper to me and told me to only give it to my mother.”

His mother’s eyes were tearful as she read the letter out loud to her child: “Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers to teach and train him. Please teach him yourself.”

Several years later, after Edison’s mother died and he was now one of the greatest inventors of the century, Thomas was looking through some old family things when he came across a folded paper in the corner of a drawer in a desk. He took it and opened it up. On the paper it read: “Your son is addled (mentally ill). We won’t let him come to school anymore.

Edison cried and cried for hours and then he wrote in his diary: “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century.”

Humanity Restored in the Midst of Anger

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Photo Credit: Andrew via Pinterest

There are a lot of mean and thoughtless people in the world. These individuals can not only be obnoxious, rude and inconsiderate but they can be tear people apart with their sharp words and hurtful actions.

Unfortunately, many people don’t take a stand against these kind of people…that’s why a story like the one that you are going to read, is a reaffirmation of the goodness of the human spirit…and hopefully, give you courage to stand up against these people when the time comes.

(I am at my regular grocery store at the checkout. The bagger is a sweet man with a mental disability, who is carefully bagging my items.)

Bagger: “You want this one?”

(He holds up one of my canvas bags, which has a hole in it.)

Me: “No, use another. Thanks.”

Woman behind me: “God! Hurry up!”

Me: I just finished paying. He’s fine.”

Woman behind me: “Oh, so you’re slow like him too? God, all you special people need to stop interfering with normal people.”

Bagger: *looks offended* “Ma’am, she’s not not-smart. She goes to (University).” *points to my university logo on my sweatpants* “She’s real smart.”

Me: “And he’s the best bagger here! He’s very careful, ma’am, which is a good thing with groceries.”

(My bags are done. Since he knows I walk back to my dorm, the bagger just hands them to me and helps me shoulder them.)

Woman behind me: “God, he won’t even help you take them to your car? What a delinquent. I want to see a manager about this!”

Me: “I walk, lady. You want to call a manager over something I have intentionally asked him to do many times?”

Bagger: *to me* “Have a nice day!”

Woman behind me: “Retard.”

(The cashier, who hasn’t said a word through the whole thing, looks at the woman calmly.)

Cashier: “Refusal of service for massive discrimination towards a valued employee, as well as a regular customer. You may leave your items here: we’ll shelve them later. Please leave.”

(She instead decides to cause a massive disturbance, eventually breaking a shelf, and needing to be physically restrained while the bagger leads me and another customer behind the cigarette counter for our safety. We have to wait for the police to come.)

Bagger: “Still coming next week?”

Me: “Yep.”

(His smile made me really happy for the rest of the day.)

Bagger1
Photo Credit: Pinterest

Just One More Time…

Mark K Baird via Morguefilecom
Photo Credit: Mark K. Baird via Morguefile.com

I recently turned the big “5-0” a couple of years ago and what was even more humiliating, was receiving an AARP membership letter in the mail the very next day…Ahhh! Anyway, I have always been a nostalgic-type guy and I have become even more so during the past months.

I usually find myself a few times each day thinking to myself, “just once, I would love to go back in time and do…..” basically, reminding myself of the days or years in my past. It always brings a type of warmth to my heart and a smile to my face thinking of the friends, people, places and activities that I used to enjoy.

I know that it isn’t healthy to “overindulge” or “dwell on the past” too much on the things of the past, but sometimes, when life gets hard, crazy, or hectic, it’s always nice to sit back and think of the special things that happened…when life was simple and pure.

So, if I could, I would love to go back and do some of these things…just one more time

Stay outside until the street lights came on…which meant it was time to come home

Have bike races around the block with baseball cards flapping in my spokes which we thought made us sound like we were riding motorcycles

Hear the dinner bell ring…which called us all home for dinner

Listen to grandma calling all of our cats letting them know that their food was ready

Go Snapper fishing with my dad off the boat docks until sundown

Help my mom decorate her classroom and get it ready for her students

Play baseball and kickball with the kids in our neighborhood for hours each day

Build a tree fort in the trees in our backyard

Play and “Hide and Seek” in the woods and discover things around creeks and ponds

Save the world from evil and chaos as super heroes Batman (and my brother) Robin

Sit on my grandfather’s lap and listen to one more of his stories

Go sleigh riding down “Mueller’s Hill”, fly off the snow ramps and navigate around the obstacles that we made

Give my mom and dad one more hug

Visit neighbors with my brother and then enjoy the treats that they would give us

Have crabapple fights with the neighbors

Build sandcastles then making a big sand wall trying to prevent the incoming tide from destroying my fortress

Smell the aromas of the sausage and pepper sandwiches, homemade French fries, fresh cotton candy and pizza that that were always present at the boardwalk

Hear the sounds of the binging and ringing of bells, whistles and other noises emanating from the boardwalk arcades

Feel the sudden pull of the line on my pole as a fish got snagged on the hook and the excitement of the “fight”

Experience my heart “skipping a beat” as I asked a girl on the first date of my life

Watch my dad take portraits of people in his photography studio

Take a family vacation with my wife and two boys

Experience the excitement and magic of dating my wife then marrying her

Go to Yankee Stadium with friends

Stand on the rock jetty by the beach, watching fishing, luxury, and other boats come in

Go to college again

Play miniature golf during a beautiful summer night

Go to a family reunion

I could go on and list more things for hours…but the one thing that I wish that I could do….just one more time…if only for a moment…would be to TELL my mom, dad and grandma…how much I loved them…and thank them for all the love that they showed me.

Life is short. Take the time each and every day to enjoy the big AND small things. Appreciate and be thankful for all the people that are in your life and let them know how much they mean to you…before they are all gone.

 

Your Life Is Not Your Own

german
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

This is a re-post of an article that I posted a couple of years ago around Memorial Day. It is a powerful message that you will not soon forget. This an amazing account of incredible sacrifice during World War 2 involving simple towns people. Warning: Tissues WILL be required!

Around this time each year, Memorial Day, I am reminded of a story that I once heard. Though the exactness of it I cannot confirm, I am assured its basis is quite factual, and its message definitely deserves to be retold.

The story is of a man, Andrew, who was known all his life for selfless sacrifice and good works. He always stood in defense of the defenseless, and toiled without tiring, standing up for the downtrodden and underprivileged. As he grew old, and people tried to honor him for his well-lived life of service, he was reluctant to accept the praise and attention that his community desired to heap upon him. It was then, for the first time, that he told a story that had burned deep in his heart and was hard for him to relate.

Andrew was a young man, thirteen years old and living in Austria, when the Germans invaded. The Austrians, brave and proud, decided to fight back. In the town where Andrew lived, the men and teenage boys organized and destroyed a power plant that the Germans relied on to continue their war effort. The men and boys all knew this would cause great hardship on themselves as well, for they also relied on the power from the plant. But the thing they had not counted on was the swift and severe retribution that would come from the Nazi invaders.

The next morning, before the sun was even up, trucks rolled into town. Soon, the sound of marching soldiers was heard in the streets. The men and boys of the town, twelve years old and older, were ordered to the town square. Andrew found himself standing in a line with the other men and boys, still trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes.

The commanding officer berated them, and told them they were fools to think they could stand against the might of the German army. He told them they were nothing, and their minuscule efforts would not slow down the German war effort, but it would hurt them because a price was going to be paid for their rebellion. He then said that every 20th man in the line would be shot.

As each 20th man was pulled from the line and marched away, Andrew looked down the line and started counting. With horror, he realized that he stood in a 20th position. He trembled with fear as the soldiers moved closer and closer to him, and the shots started to ring out at the edge of town where the unfortunate men were being taken.

As the Germans continued to move down the line, Andrew could see others counting and their eyes turning to him with a look of pity and concern. Andrew found himself wanting to flee, but too frightened to move. Even if he tried to run, the soldiers on the trucks, with the mounted machine guns, would cut him down before he could get ten yards.

But then, in the instant that the last man before Andrew was pulled from the line, the Germans turned their eyes away, and Andrew felt a hand on his shoulder. The hand tightened quickly, and before he knew what had happened, he was jerked forcibly over one spot, and the old man who had been standing next to him moved swiftly to switch positions.

Andrew looked up at the silver haired man and the man smiled. Just before he was taken from the line and led away, the old man spoke quietly to Andrew. “Your life is no longer just your own. Live it for both of us.”
Andrew watched silently as the old man disappeared from view toward the edge of the village. His heart jumped as the shots sounded, shots that Andrew knew should have been his own. In that instant, tears flowing down his face, he determined he would indeed live his life for both of them. From that day he had tried to live so that the unknown old man would have felt his sacrifice was well repaid.

Each time I consider the flags flying by the many graves in the cemetery, thinking back on Andrew’s story, I realized that no one’s life belongs just to them. Each of us owes a debt to many who have paid prices through hardship, hard work, and even the sacrifice of their lives, from which we have benefited.

With the wind gently whipping the flags in the breeze, I, too, renewed my own dedication in how I live my life.
———————————–
(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at daris@darishoward.com; or visit his website athttp://www.darishoward.com)

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