A Second Chance at Life

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Have you ever thought to yourself how “good” your life REALLY is? What if the direction of your life suddenly changed and you found yourself in a situation that you had never thought that you would be in? One minute you think your life is great, you are healthy and everything is “smooth sailing?” then you find out that something in your body or mind wasn’t as good as you thought and that you were “very close” to experiencing a life-changing event?

Such was the case with me…

I have always enjoyed my life: talking with other people, spending time with my family and friends, enjoying the taste of delicious food, taking in the pleasures of seeing the beautiful things in the world, generally speaking, loving the life that I have been given.

But a little over a week ago, my life drastically took an unexpected turn. What was supposed to be a simple two hour screening procedure turned into a four day stay in the hospital.

It was during those four days that I discovered that my heart had been beating at an outstanding rate (150 beats per minute) and because of that high tempo, my heart had weakened to a dangerous level. Unbeknownst to me, I had had this condition for the past couple of years!

After leaving the hospital and meeting with the doctor the next day, I was told that the doctor was surprised that I hadn’t had either a stroke or a heart attack. YIKES!! What a shocking, wake up piece of news. I had NEVER KNOWN that my heart was 1) beating at such a high rate, and 2) that my heart had weakened to such a bad state.

So, imagine my thoughts today, when the doctor told me that despite the condition of my heart, everything would be ok. The doctors found out what was causing my elevated heart rate, the proper medicine to take to control my heart rate, and that my condition was totally correctable and curable!

The doctor simply said, “look at it this way…you have a second chance at life.

Needless to say, I am ecstatic for a couple of reasons…1) I feel great. I feel like I did 10-20 years ago, 2) I feel excited that now that I know that the doctors diagnosed the problem, everything will be OK, and 3) I have a new lease on life and I am going to take full advantage of it and take care of myself and love life even more than I did before.

Just thinking of “what could have happened” has left me feeling very humble and aware of my mortality more than it ever was. And it has taught me a lesson. It has taught me to live my life to its fullest. I shouldn’t be afraid to fail because, many times, it is when we fail that we grow and learn lessons that will benefit us in our lives.

It has made me value and love my friends, loved ones and family more so now than ever. I has allowed me to REALLY appreciate the things around me that I have taken for granted every day. But more importantly, it has strengthened my faith and assurance that my Lord and God never once abandoned or left me. He has always been there by my side throughout my life when things were going well and He was guiding the doctors and comforting me during my stay in the hospital.

You see, that’s the beauty of true FAITH. Faith is that knowledge of believing in someone or something when you cannot see it but you KNOW it is there. When you sit on a chair, do you bend down and test it first to make sure that it will hold you? Or do you simply just sit on the chair without closely inspecting its durability and strength?  Having faith in the Lord is exactly the same thing. I KNOW that He will take care of me and I KNOW that He is there to hold me up and to strengthen me. I don’t have to question or test anything that He does for me..My life is in His hands and if my time on earth is done, He will hold me close to himself and take me home. I have total peace and total fulfillment in my life knowing that He is always there with me.

So, how has your life treated you? How much do you appreciate the ways that you have been blessed? How well do you REALLY love and appreciate your loved ones? How strong is your faith? How secure are you if things were to suddenly go in a negative direction in your life?

Take the time everyday to truly be thankful for the good things in life. Find the moments in your daily routine to be grateful for your family and friends and show them how you feel. Discover the paths that you can follow and explore to give yourself a second chance in life.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  ~ Colossians 3:17

The Talk of the Town

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Photo Credit: Judy Baxter via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Judy Baxter via CC Flickr

Every once in a while, I come across a story that reminds mes how important it is to keep the things that happen in our lives in proper perspective. Such is the case of today’s tale…

Funerals are a somber moment, aren’t they? It’s hard to imagine a situation where you would find them light and funny.

But then, maybe it’s something like that that you need to keep your perspective on the more important things in life. Read on and see what I mean.

Consumed by my loss, I didn’t notice the hardness of the pew where I sat. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend, my mother. She finally had lost her long battle with cancer.

The hurt was so intense; I found it hard to breathe at times. Always supportive, mother clapped loudest at my school plays, held a box of tissue while listening to my first heartbreak, comforted me at my father’s death, encouraged me in college, and prayed for me my entire life. When mother’s illness was diagnosed, my sister had a new baby and my brother had recently married his childhood sweetheart, so it fell on me, the 27 year old middle child with no entanglements to take care of her.

I felt it an honor. “What now?” I asked sitting in church. My life stretched out before me as an empty abyss. My brother sat stoically with his face toward the cross while clutching his wife’s hand. My sister sat slumped against her husband’s shoulder, his arms around her as she cradled their child.

All so deeply grieving, no one noticed I sat alone. My place had been with our mother, preparing her meals, helping her walk, taking her to the doctor, seeing to her medication.

Now she was gone. My work was finished, and I was alone. I heard a door open and slam shut at the back of the church. Quick steps hurried along the carpeted floor. An exasperated young man looked around briefly and then sat next to me. He folded his hands and placed them on his lap. His eyes were brimming with tears. He began to sniffle, “I’m late,” he explained, though no explanation was necessary.

After several eulogies, he leaned over and commented, “Why do they keep calling Mary by the name of Margaret?”

“Because that was her name, Margaret. Never Mary. No one called her Mary”, I whispered. I wondered why this person couldn’t have sat on the other side of the church. He interrupted my grieving with his tears and fidgeting. Who was this stranger anyway?

“No, that isn’t correct,” he insisted, as several people glanced over at us whispering, “Her name is Mary, Mary Peters. That isn’t who this is? Isn’t this the Lutheran church?”

“No, the Lutheran church is across the street, I believe you’re at the wrong funeral, sir.” The solemnness of the occasion mixed with realization of the man’s mistake bubbled up inside me and came out as laughter. I cupped my hands over my face hoping it would be interpreted as sobs. The creaking pew gave me away. Sharp looks from other mourners only made the situation seem more hilarious.

I peeked at the bewildered, misguided man seated beside me. He was laughing too, as he glanced around deciding it was too late for an uneventful exit. I imagined my mother laughing. At the final Amen, we darted out a door and into the parking lot. “I do believe we’ll be the talk of the town,” he smiled.

He said his name was Rick and since he had missed his aunt’s funeral, he asked me out for a cup of coffee. That afternoon began a lifelong journey for me with this man who attended the wrong funeral, but was in the right place.

A year after our meeting, we were married at a country church where he was the assistant pastor. This time we both arrived at the same church, right on time. In my time of sorrow, he gave me laughter. In place of loneliness, I now had love. This past June we celebrated our twenty second anniversary. Whenever anyone asks us how we met, Rick tells them “Her mother and my Aunt Mary introduced us, and it’s truly a match made in Heaven.”

Pictures That Speak Volumes #62

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Photo Credit: Timetobreak.com

Photo Credit: Timetobreak.com

I have always found it interesting when people complain about “how bad they have it”…whether it be at work, a job, at home, etc. What we quite often forget is how awful and depressing conditions are for other people that live around the world.

Take for example today’s picture of a mine worker who is required to work under atrocious and dangerous conditions every day…quite often just making a few cents or dollars a day. Notice the fingers of the worker in the picture above and observe how black they are.

So, take some time today to be thankful for all of the blessings that you have been given and say a quick prayer (or you may want to do something) for people living around the world in tough decisions everyday!

Learning to Stand in Times of Trouble

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Photo Credit: Rigor via Pixabay

Photo Credit: Rigor via Pixabay

Bringing a giraffe into the world is a tall order. A baby giraffe falls 10 feet from its mother’s womb and usually lands on its back. Within seconds it rolls over and tucks its legs under its body. From this position it considers the world for the first time and shakes off the last vestiges of the birthing fluid from its eyes and ears. Then the mother giraffe rudely introduces its offspring to the reality of life.

In his book, “A View from the Zoo”, Gary Richmond describes how a newborn giraffe learns its first lesson. The mother giraffe lowers her head long enough to take a quick look. Then she positions herself directly over her calf. She waits for about a minute, and then she does the most unreasonable thing. She swings her long, pendulous leg outward and kicks her baby, so that it is sent sprawling head over heels.

When it doesn’t get up, the violent process is repeated over and over again. The struggle to rise is momentous. As the baby calf grows tired, the mother kicks it again to stimulate its efforts. Finally, the calf stands for the first time on its wobbly legs.

Then the mother giraffe does the most remarkable thing. She kicks it off its feet again. Why? She wants it to remember how it got up. In the wild, baby giraffes must be able to get up as quickly as possible to stay with the herd, where there is safety. Lions, hyenas, leopards, and wild hunting dogs all enjoy young giraffes, and they’d get it too, if the mother didn’t teach her calf to get up quickly and get with it.

The late Irving Stone understood this. He spent a lifetime studying greatness, writing novelized biographies of such men as Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Sigmund Freud, and Charles Darwin.

Stone was once asked if he had found a thread that runs through the lives of all these exceptional people. He said, “I write about people who sometime in their life have a vision or dream of something that should be accomplished and they go to work.

“They are beaten over the head, knocked down, vilified, and for years they get nowhere. But every time they’re knocked down they stand up. You cannot destroy these people. And at the end of their lives they’ve accomplished some modest part of what they set out to do.”

– Craig B. Larson, Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching from Leadership Journal
Read more at http://www.motivationalwellbeing.com/motivational-stories-2.html#ixzz3gfhD81Ef

The Perfect Dog

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Photo Credit: Alex Brown via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Alex Brown via CC Flickr

A day or so ago, I came across a short story “The Perfect Dog” written by Jan Peck, a contributor of the book, “Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul” that I thought was a beautiful short story that should be shared with you. It is a sad fact, that in the eyes of some people, they believe either that they or others are ugly, unattractive or worthless. They short-change themselves, become pessimistic, unenthusiastic, and develop a harmful degree of low self-esteem and self-worth.

The important thing that we all need to remember is this…we are all a unique individual and creation. There is NO ONE in the world that is EXACTLY like you. Like I said, you are an original..not a copy. Maybe more importantly, there are people all around us that will love you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE…regardless how you look. We all need to remember things like this and there is no better way to illustrate this concept then today’s story!

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During summer vacations, I would volunteer at the vet’s, so I’d seen a lot of dogs. Minnie was by far the funniest-looking dog I’d ever seen. Thin curly hair barely covered her sausage-shaped body. Her bugged-out eyes always seemed surprised. And her tail looked like a rat’s tail.

She was brought to the vet to be put to sleep because her owners didn’t want her anymore. I thought Minnie had a sweet personality, though. “No one should judge her by her looks,” I thought. So the vet spayed her and gave her the necessary shots. Finally, I advertised Minnie in the local paper: “Funny-looking dog, well behaved, needs loving family.”

When a young man called, I warned him that Minnie was strange looking. The boy on the phone told me that his grandfather’s sixteen-year-old dog had just died. They wanted Minnie no matter what. I gave Minnie a good bath and fluffed up what was left of her scraggly hair. Then we waited for them to arrive.

At last, an old car drove up in front of the vet’s. Two kids raced to the door. They scooped Minnie into their arms and rushed her out to their grandfather, who was waiting in the car. I hurried behind them to see his reaction to Minnie.

Inside the car, the grandfather cradled Minnie in his arms and stroked her soft hair. She licked his face. Her rattail wagged around so quickly that it looked like it might fly off her body. It was love at first lick.

“She’s perfect!” the old man exclaimed.

I was thankful that Minnie had found the good home that she deserved.

That’s when I saw that the grandfather’s eyes were a milky white color – he was blind.

Pictures That Speak Volumes #61

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Photo Credit: via timetobreak.com

Photo Credit: via timetobreak.com

Many of us are rich more than we can ever imagine. We have a nice house, warm homes, food to eat, clothes to wear, money to spend and a plethora of many, many other blessings.

That is why today’s photograph is such a powerful image. This is a picture of a son who just graduated college with his penniless and homeless father….it makes you think just how good we have it!!!

Five Ways to Remember During the Hard Times

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AloneEverything is going to be alright, may be it won’t happen today but eventually everything is going to be fine. Sometimes in our life, it looks like everything is falling apart and whatever you do fail. But you need to be strong in such hard times. It’s the hardest times that teach us the most valuable lessons of our life. Every struggle in your life has shaped you into the person you are today. You must be thankful for the hard times as they can only make you stronger.

Strength doesn’t come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. So learn to be strong even in the hardest times of your life. Don’t worry about the hard times. Because some of the most beautiful things we have in life come from only changes and mistakes. So you need to understand the value of hard times and how it helps and ultimately be strong. Here are 5  ways you must remember to be strong in hard times.


Remember, Hard Times Don’t Last Forever.

As previously mentioned, everything is going to be alright.  May be not today, but eventually it’s going to happen. Your strength is not in the way you surrender, but in the way you fight with the difficulties. Hard times are not going be there in your life always. It’s only you who can make it stay in your life for a long time. You need to learn how to be strong in the hardest times of your life. Because this is something only you can do.

You can only make yourself stronger. Not anybody else. You can’t give up. Because anyone can give up. This is perhaps the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that is real strength.

Remember, Every Struggle in Life Only Makes You Stronger.

Struggles increase your inner strength. You can’t always realize what you can do until or unless you get a chance to actually do that. The hard times in your life gives you the opportunity to prove yourself. Every struggle in your life makes you stronger and helps you become more confident and productive. Hard times help you realize your inner strength. Remember, Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the heroes within us is revealed.

Be strong because things will get better one day. It might be stormy now. But it can’t rain forever. It’s really hard to believe that the most important lessons in your life you learn only through hard times and struggles. So discover your inner strength and find out what you can for yourself in best way possible. The most difficult phase of life is not when nobody understands you. It is when you don’t understand yourself.

Stay Positive with all Your Positive Thoughts.

Don’t wish away your days waiting for better times ahead. Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. This is in your hand to live it in the best way possible. Don’t keep negative thoughts and wait for positive times. Learn to make your negative thoughts positive. Just because something is not happening for you right now, doesn’t mean that it will never happen in your life. You will never get positive results withnegative thinking. Be strong enough to believe in your inner qualities.

Be strong to think highly of yourself. Because the world takes you at your own estimate. The struggles you face in life are not supposed paralyze you. They are supposed to help you discover who you are. Positive thinking is not about expecting the best to happen every time. Be strong enough to believe that whatever happens in your life is the best for this moment. Whatever life gives you, even if it hurts you, just be strong and act like the way you always do.

Find the Right Person to Be with You.

You can’t love everyone. But can’t leave someone who never leaves you in hard times. You can’t leave someone who always gives you the right lesson. True friends help you understand your inner qualities. They help you become more productive. Right guidance can solve even the most difficult problems of your life easily. So it’s very important to find the right person to be with. True guidance helps you become stronger and more productive.

It’s not about finding someone who won’t fight with you or make you sad. It’s about finding someone who will still be standing there wiping the tears away, holding you in their arms after a fight. The person who will never leave you. It doesn’t matter how hard things get. Be strong and live everyday of your life as the last day of your life. Don’t be afraid of hard times that come in your life only to make you stronger. Live with noregrets. Because everything happens for a reason.

Learn to Smile Through the Hard Times.

A smile is the first thing to fixing things. The trick is to enjoy life by noticing what’s right. Sometimes you just have to smile to make things easier. A smile is a gift to yourself in hard times. A smile acts like nothing is wrong or everything is going to be fine. Peace begins with a smile. A smile is perhaps the most beautiful expression in the world.

Be strong and learn to smile through the hard times. Let your smile change your world and don’t let the world change the way you smile. Smile at things that make you sad. Sometimes hard times don’t seem to get any better. But a smile is the first thing that can make the things easier to solve. Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile. But sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.

When times get hard, don’t give up. Smile and start fighting until you win. You might make a lot of mistakes. But this is first step to unlock your inner strength if someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, it means that they have never tried a new thing in their life.

Credit: http://uniquelifeguide.com / Other Source: http://karinasussanto.wordpress.com

Grandchildren Can Say They Funniest Things!

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Photo Credit: Ann Jutatip via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Ann Jutatip via CC Flickr

I recently came across this hilarious little list on wimp.com that II thought would be something fun to share and enlighten your day. We all know that children are usually very good at telling us “the truth” or “the way it is” in innocent and honest ways. I trust that the following article will bring a smile to your face and a song to your heart as it did mine.


It’s no secret that grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren. While our parents typically mean the world to us, our grandparents usually hold a special place in our hearts. They may seem strange and old fashioned at times, but there is something so honest and sweet about how they appreciate the simple things in life. Nothing ever seems to make them nearly as happy as when they are spending time with family, and they have no greater love than spoiling their grand kids.

A group of eight-year-olds were ask to define what a grandparent is. The brutally-honest answers they gave are nothing short of hilarious.

  • Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of her own. They like other people’s.
  • A grandfather is a man and a grandmother is a lady!
  • Grandparents don’t have to do anything except be there when we come to see them. They are so old they shouldn’t play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money.
  • When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.
  • They show us and talk to us about the color of the flowers and also why we shouldn’t step on “cracks.”
  • They don’t say, “Hurry up.”
  • Usually grandmothers are fat but not too fat to tie your shoes.
  • They wear glasses and funny underwear.
  • They can take their teeth and gums out.
  • Grandparents don’t have to be smart.
  • They have to answer questions like, “Why isn’t God married?” and “How come dogs chase cats?”
  • When they read to us, they don’t skip. They don’t mind if we ask for the same story over again.
  • Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don’t have television, because they are the only grown-ups who like to spend time with us.
  • They know we should have snack-time before bedtime and they say prayers with us every time and kiss us even when we’ve acted badly.
  • A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. ”Oh,” he said, ”She lives at the airport and when we want her we just go get her. Then when we’re done having her visit, we take her back to the airport.”
  • Grandpa is the smartest man on earth! He teaches me good things but I don’t get to see him enough to get as smart as him!

A Wonderful Glimpse Into Yesteryear

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Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via CC Flickr

A short time ago, a small group of World War 2 veterans were quietly waiting for their flight at Reagan International Airport, when something magical took place.

Someone decided to play some old-time music from the 1940’s, and suddenly, as if a vail was lifted and a curtain pulled back, the solders instantly reverted back to a time when they were young, agile and filled with life.

The following video shows us this unique transformation in a beautiful and wonderful way and the tremendous power of music.

July 4, 1939: A Day That Will Never Be Forgotten

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Photo Credit: Harris & Ewing via Wikimedia

Photo Credit: Harris & Ewing via Wikimedia

He is a tribute to one of the greatest baseball players of all time…

I am a 60’s kid. I started watching baseball on the old black and white TV when I was about 7 or 8 years old. The first team that I ever watched was the New York Yankees and from that point on, I was forever a Yankees fan and a baseball fanatic. I tried to learn about as many famous ball players that I could and I loved so many of them.

My all-time favorite baseball player let alone my all-time favorite ATHLETE was “the Iron Horse”, Lou Gehrig…the Hall of Fame first baseman for the Yankees. I remember watching the movie “The Pride of the Yankees”, the Lou Gehrig story, totally mesmerized. I used to try to hit like him, play like him, etc.

One of the things that Lou Gehrig was so famous was two things: A disease that would later take his life, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) otherwise known as “Lou Gehrig Disease,” and his famous “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech. It was July 4th, 1939 and the Yankees had decided that they were going to honor Gehrig and staged a “Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium.” Ruth and other members of Murderer’s Row returned for the ceremony, along with Yankee officials and dignitaries.

At first, Gehrig was too overwhelmed to speak, but the crowd chanted: “We want Gehrig!” He stepped to the microphone, blowing his nose and rubbing his eyes. Cap in hand, he spoke: “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? … “When you have a father and mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body, it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed, that’s the finest I know. So I close in saying that I might have had a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”

Two years later, Gehrig was gone.

To me, that speech showed the kind of man that he was. Gehrig not only was an astonishing player (he was actually voted as the BEST first baseman of all-time), famous, and well known through-out America, he was an incredibly humble and soft spoken man. He would let his stats do his talking. I used to think that when I played baseball (or any sport) I would emulate his character.

Well, twenty-one years ago, my oldest son was born and we named him Luke Eric. What does that mean? Say his name fast….pretty cool huh? The funny thing about it is that we got the name by accident but once it was said, we decided to keep it. (just a little note: my other son was born on Joe DiMaggio’s birthday but we couldn’t decide on a good Yankee name for him BUT if he was a girl, do you know what his name MIGHT have been? Jody. Get it? Jo-dy (Joe D)…Joe DiMaggio’s nickname.”

Anyway, in remembrance of Mr. Gehrig, here are some remarkable facts about Lou that shows just exactly how good he was.

1. Lou played fullback while he was at Columbia college and studied engineering.

2. Lou was the only one out of four children who survived past infancy in his family.

3. Lou won the Triple Crown in 1934. His batting average was .363, 49 homeruns, and 165 RBIs!

4. The Yankees had actually tried to trade him to the Red Sox but they DIDN’T WANT HIM!

5. Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive games. During that time, he suffered 17 fractures in his hands at different times (see how tough he was?)

6. Because of his durability, people affectionately gave him the nickname, “The Iron Horse.”

7. When Gehrig’s consecutive game streak was in full effect, he played first base the entire

8. period except for one game in which he played left field (September 28, 1930).

9. Gehrig accumulated 1,995 runs batted in (RBI) in 17 seasons, with a career batting average of .340, on-base percentage of .447, and slugging percentage of .632!

Celebrating America’s Freedom: July 4th

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Photo Credit: Jill111 via Pixabay

Photo Credit: Jill111 via Pixabay

Independence Day is one of my favorite times of the year. The picnics, barbecues, fireworks, parades and spending time with family and friends make it a day of great fun. In remembrance of our freedom, I decided that for the next few blogs leading up to July 4th, I will post some stories that give us a historical background as to how some things in America came to pass. Today’s story: The Birth of the Fourth of July.

Celebrating America’s Freedom: July 4th

Independence Day also known as 4th of July is the birthday of the United States of America. It is celebrated on July 4th each year in the United States. It is the anniversary of the day on which the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress – July 4, 1776.

This was the day that America announced to the world that the 13 colonies no longer belonged to Great Britain. The thirteen colonies were: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia. In May, 1776, after nearly a year of trying to resolve their differences with England, the colonies sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress. Finally, in June, admitting that their efforts were hopeless; a committee was formed to compose the formal Declaration of Independence. Headed by Thomas Jefferson, the committee also included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. On June 28, 1776, Thomas Jefferson presented the first draft of the declaration to Congress. Independence Day was first observed in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776.

On July 4, 1777, the night sky of Philadelphia lit up with the blaze of bonfires. Candles illuminated the windows of houses and public buildings. Church bells rang out load, and cannons were shot from ships breaking the silence. The city was celebrating the first anniversary of the founding of the United States.

The Fourth of July soon became the main patriotic holiday of the entire country. Veterans of the Revolutionary War made a tradition of gathering on the Fourth to remember their victory. In towns and cities, the American flag flew; shops displayed red, white, and blue decorations; and people marched in parades that were followed by public readings of the Declaration of Independence. In 1941, Congress declared July 4 a federal legal holiday. It is one of the few federal holidays that have not been moved to the nearest Friday or Monday.

Some Fun July 4th Facts:

The first public Fourth of July event at the White House occurred in 1804.

Before cars ruled the roadway, the Fourth of July was traditionally the most miserable day of the year for horses, tormented by all the noise and by the boys and girls who threw firecrackers at them.

The first Independence Day celebration west of the Mississippi occurred at Independence Creek and was celebrated by Lewis and Clark in 1805.

Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on Independence Day, July 4, 1826.

On July 4th, 1776, only two people actually signed the Declaration of Independence. (Thomas Jefferson and Charles Thompson)

There was actually a country that declared their independence from America on July 4th, 1946…the Philippines!!!

The average age of those who signed the Declaration of Independence was 45. The youngest at 27, was Thomas Lynch, Jr. of South Carolina. The oldest delegate was Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania at age 70. Thomas Jefferson was 33.**

Have an awesome and safe 4th of July everyone!!


** resource: list25.com

The Greatest Day of His Life

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Photo Credit: Oakley Originals via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Oakley Originals via CC Flickr

Time…it is a valuable thing to all of us. The thing that is unlike anything else about time, is that once you experience each small sliver of time or once it is upon you, you can never get it back. You can never buy back time or get a “do-over.”

It is for these reasons that we should all value each bit of time that we have each day. We shouldn’t use our time foolishly or waste it worrying about things that may never happen or dwell on the negative things in life.

We should always focus on living our lives and spending our time with others with one thought: no regrets. I think one of the worst things that a lot of people do is look back on their lives and regret the times or things that they did or didn’t do with someone.

So, when I discovered today’s video, it not only made me a little misty-eyed, but it also reminded me of the importance of time…how we spend it with ourselves and more importantly…how we spend it with our family and friends.

One word of warning…a box of tissues may be needed :)

Forever

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This is one of the most beautiful pictures that you will ever see…..

Photo Credit: Unknown

Photo Credit: Unknown

Slaying the Dragon of Anxiety

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Photo Credit: Rubyblossom via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Rubyblossom via CC Flickr

Anxiety and stress…millions upon millions of people struggle coping with this monster every day. The effects of anxiety on some people can be downright nasty, frightening, and frustrating. People suffering from anxiety can have an assortment of symptoms: insomnia, irregular heartbeats, trembling, fear of dying, chills or hot flashes, dizziness, shortness of breath, sweating, sudden overwhelming fear, nausea,  trouble concentrating, breathing rapidly, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, as with many medical conditions, the exact cause and the genesis of anxiety is not exactly known or understood. There are some things that can contribute to anxiety such as traumatic life experiences, inherited traits, a vast assortment of medical causes, or medications.

I recently had a bout with anxiety (as I also did a year or so ago). In both cases, the anxiety was caused by something different. The first time, it was triggered by a medication that had an adverse effect on my body…unfortunately, it lasted quite a while. A short time ago, I began to experience a high level of anxiety again, due mainly to an accumulation of a number of factors such as a medical problem (kidney stones), an overwhelming work load, and a private emotional time of my life.

I decided to go to my Face Book page and ask my friends for their suggestions as to how I could deal with my anxiety and I found many of them to be VERY helpful and successful. I also researched other ways and techniques that individuals deal with anxiety…and It is for these reasons, that I decided to share a list of them with you!!!

It is my hope and prayer that the following “weapons” will help in your “fight” in slaying the dragon…anxiety.

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Anxiety-Busting Ideas

  1. Chew Bubble / Chewing Gum – The next time you feel the axiety coming on, unwrap a stick of gum, start chewing and enjoy it! According to studies, knowing on a piece of gum lowers anxiety and eases stress. Some researchers believe that the rhythmic act of chewing may increase the blood flow to your brain, while others believe that the smell and taste help you to relax.

2. Get Outside – Fresh air and the feeling of openness, freedom, and the enjoyment of everything that Mother Nature has for you ca have an adverse effect in the way that you feel. The feel of the warm sun, a nice breeze, nice smelling flowers, the songs of the birds, and many other things, will lower your stress. Levels

3. Smell Some Lavender – It has been believed for hundreds of years that certain smells can have a tremendous, positive effect on a person’s mental state. The proof is in the pudding…how often are you doing something, then suddenly experience a certain smell which in turn, “takes you back” to a time that you may have long since forgotten…maybe it brings you to a place that gives you happy memories. Such is the case with Lavender. Lavender has a relaxing, soothing effect with people when it is smelled.

4. Smile and/or Laugh – Don’t be a crab! Just as negative feeling and mind thoughts can have adverse effects on a persons psyche…when a person smiles, it can do just the opposite. When times get difficult and arduous, put a smile on your face…a REAL one. Believe it or ot, when you smile, the muscles around your face and mouth , reduces your body’s stress as well as lowers your heart rate faster once the stressful experience ends.

5. Pray the Alphabet – This technique had a tremendous positive effect with me. I am a Christian with a strong faith in God but it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t do something like that yourself. When I pray the alphabet, I begin with the latter. A, then pray for every person I know whose name starts with the letter “A”…the on to “B”, etc. I very rarely ever got to the letters in the middle of the alphabet…especially if I did the prayer while I was in bed at night. It is effective because it takes the focus off of my “problem” and think of something else.

6. Listen to Music – Try to listen to something that you enjoy like music or a podcast and try to listen to every word or every note. Music has “magical” powers…it can make you dance, helps plants to grow, lulls babies to sleep, marches men off to war, enchant people and nations, drive out evil spirits, etc. Music can slow down the brain waves, as well as affect a person’s heartbeat and blood pressure. Music can also boast the immune system, boost productivity, and strengthen memory and learning. The point? Listening to music can uplift your soul and spirits sometimes in ways that you could never imagine.

7. Be Nice to Yourself – Some anxiety and negative thoughts and feelings are self-induced. They are sometimes brought on because of the way an individual may think of themselves. If person is continually putting themselves down, pessimistic, and cynical about their life, they will bring much added stress and strain upon themselves…sometimes, more than they should have. Therefore, BE KIND TO YOURSELF! Tell yourself every day when you wake up (and throughout the day) how awesome you are, how much you are loved and cared for. Staying positive and using compassionate self-talk will help you to relax and get a better grip on your situation. Remind yourself in a calm and assured way…the same way that you might help a friend, that “everything will be OK, etc. Also, do things that you enjoy!

8. Write Your Anxiety Away – Take the time each night to find something to write about…things that make you anxious, happy, or anything else that you may find helpful. The act of writing out words and putting your thoughts on paper is very therapeutic. It doesn’t matter if you write it out with a pen, pencil, or crayon…the important thing is to be honest with yourself. Again, this was one of the biggest things that helped me fight off my bouts with anxiety. I slept better at night and helped me to focus on not only the things that bothered me or caused me the anxiety, helped me to realize the things NOT TO FOCUS ON…and to move on with my life.

9. Breathe – When you feel your anxiety coming on or if you are in the process of experiencing it, take the time to focus on your breathing. Focusing on your breathing takes your focus off of the thing that may be causing you the stress. Find a quiet place to go then sit quietly. Take a nice, long, slow breath through your nose (count to 8 while you are doing so), hold your breath for 4 seconds, then release your breath in a slow, soothing fashion (again, count to 8 while you are exhaling). When you start feeling your anxiety begin to build, force yourself to focus on one thing around you instead. Take a relaxing breath and very slowly describe to yourself every detail about that object or person. Keep doing it and don’t allow yourself to focus on your anxiety. Keep focusing outward. Within a few minutes your anxiety attack will go away. It takes practice but with every anxiety attack it gets a bit easier.

10. Talk to A Friend – I found this to be a very, very helpful way. There is nothing better than talking with someone who has gone through the same things that you have. There are many times, that your friends can give you great strategies and techniques how to battle your stresses and anxiety. This blog is a great example of that! Sharing with a loved one allows you to “open up” easier and be more honest. More importantly, you will feel much less alone.

11. Meditation – I’ll keep this one short…take at least 8 minutes, once a day, to focus on something that brings you pleasure…music, a movie, or something that makes you smile. Play it in your head and only focus on that. Eventually, your heart rate will slow down and you will soon return to normal.

12. Yoga / Tai Chi – Learn the good, helpful techniques to slow down your breathing and focus on positive things. Again, this is turn will lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

13. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – There’s many skills for distress tolerance in dialectical behavioral therapy. They suggest trying to hold ice, using imagery, playing with play dough.

There’s also an acronym that help with mindfulness: RAIN. Recognize that it’s happening. Accept without judgment (no judgment is crucial) it is happening. Investigate how your body feels. Note mentally when/how I t happened and what it felt like.

14. Lay Your Problems at the Feet of Christ – ..and do just that…LEAVE THEM THERE! Don’t go back and dwell on the past or the things that cause you distress or anxiety. Leave your problems and sorrows with the Lord…and keep them there!!

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Matthew 6: 25-34 – Do Not Be Anxious: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his ispan of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, Oh you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

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