Left Alone in a Forest

Moon Over Redwood Forest

Photo Credit: Zest-pk via CC Flickr

There are many, many causes and circumstances throughout a person’s life that may make an individual fearful and afraid of the future or a situation that they might be presently experiencing and can cause a great deal of hardship and turmoil. Some of the leading causes of anxiety and distress in today’s world are things such as stresses in school, work, relationships, financial/money, the death of a loved one, a serious medical illness, drugs…the list goes on and on.

It is during these times, that people may begin to feel isolated, lonely, and hopeless. Friends, family, and other acquaintances may seem a million miles away and it can appear like no one is around to help.

Well, I have great news for you!!! Today, I am going to share with you an old American Indian legend regarding the Cherokee Indians and their young boy’s “rite of passage” into manhood. It is my hope that this story will supply you with a positive sense of comfort and reassurance when you are experiencing the “valleys and shadows” of life.

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At the time the ritual begins, a father takes his young son into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. The boy is required to sit on a stump the entire night and not remove his blindfold until he sees the dawns first rays of sunlight shine through it. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.

The boy is not allowed to tell any of the other boys in his village of this experience because each male must experience and come into manhood on his own. Naturally, the boy is terrified and scared to death. He can hear all kinds of noises…some are familiar, but many are strange and scary. There is no question that wild animals are all around him…or maybe even another human that may be wanting to cause him harm!

The wind blows the grass and the earth and shakes his stump…but the boy sits quietly and stoically, never getting up or removing his blindfold. This is the only way that he can become a man!

Finally, what seems like an eternity, the terrible night is over. Dawn’s first rays of sunlight appear, and the boy now takes off his blindfold. It is then that he discovers his father sitting on a stump next to him. He had been watching his son the entire night, protecting him from harm.

You see folks, we, too, are never alone…even when we don’t know it, God is always with and watching over us…sitting on the stump next to us!

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE!

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Homelessness and the Tyranny of Urgency

unnamed

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…

Do It Anyway

Christina W

Photo Credit: Christina W. via CC Flickr

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

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

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

“Do It Anyway”

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

FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY.

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

BE KIND ANYWAY.

If you are successful, you will win false friends:

SUCCEED ANYWAY.

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

BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight:

BUILD ANYWAY.

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

BE HAPPY ANYWAY.

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

DO GOOD ANYWAY.

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

GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU HAVE ANYWAY.

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

IT WAS NEVER BETWEEN YOU AND THEM…ANYWAY.

The Coin

Waferboard

Photo Credit: Waferboard via CC Flickr

I have been finding and posting inspiring, motivational, and encouraging stories on this blog for the past four years now. There have been instances in which people have been interested in sharing personal stories and have been willing to post their tale on this site, “Good Time Stories.”

Today, I would like to share with you, one such story which was written by my friend, known as the “Old Mainer,” from his own blog, “Old Mainer.”  This is a beautiful story of an everlasting love that I am sure will touch your heart and soul. It is my hope that you not only enjoy this story but will also inspire you to discover a way to remember how much your “better half” loves you.

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Each evening when I get undressed, I remove the contents of my pockets and place them on my dresser.  It is all the usual stuff that we can’t live without.  Cell phone, pocket knife, spare change, watch, ring, etc.  Although most of the paraphernalia changes as time progresses, there is one item that I have been placing there for many years.  It is a coin.  Well, not a coin in the true sense of the word.  It is not currency and has no monetary value.  In fact, it looks more like a silver blob of aluminum that was melted down.  It is flat on one side and almost smooth on the other.  It wasn’t always thus.  At one time, the smooth side had three words embossed on it.

I traveled a lot in my job.  Never for long durations, but frequent enough to pull me away from home more then I would have liked.  That is when I started carrying the coin.  I always knew it was there, in my pocket, and it gave me a sense of comfort.  Often, I would run my fingers over the words, as if trying to read them by touch.

When I retired, I continued to carry the coin.  It had become such a part of me, that to be without it was not acceptable.  Because, to me, it’s value is in what it is instead of what it’s worth.  A symbol of sorts that defines me.  Defines us.

The coin was given to me by my wife before departing on one of my trips.  She had picked it up in a little shop. They had several of them with different phrases, but this one caught her eye and she picked it up on a whim.  She probably only paid a dollar or two, but it has grown in value over the years.

Today, only the remnants of two letters remain, a V and E.  All the others have worn away.  But to me, they are still there.  Always will be. Just more deeply embedded.  It will always say I LOVE YOU.  That will never wear away.  If the words are gone before me, the love will still be there, and only I will see it.

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Posted on March 2, 2014 by oldmainer

LIVE. LOVE. LAUGH.

The Chair

Photo Credit: Michael Ngilen via CC Flickr

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

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

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

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

“No, who are you?”

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

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

Puzzled, the pastor shut the door.

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

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

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

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

 Then he prayed with him and returned to the church.

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

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

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

 

Live Every Day As If It Were Your Last!

 

You Need A Bigger Frying Pan!

Fugzu

Photo Credit: Fugzu via CC Flickr

Faith. It is a small word, yet it holds incredible power and hopes for millions of people throughout the world. Faith is also one of the hardest things to believe and trust in because it is simply a belief in things that you cannot see. For example, when you are going to sit on a chair, you just sit on it. You don’t check its legs, the sturdiness, and strength of the chair…you just sit on it because you know, you have the FAITH that it is going to hold you.

Unfortunately, many people put their faith into a box or simply don’t have the faith to accomplish the goals and desires that they may have for themselves in their life. Today, I would like to share the following little story with you that will demonstrate the importance of faith and using it to its fullest potential.

Two men went fishing. One man was an experienced fisherman, the other wasn’t. Every time the inexperienced fisherman caught a big fish, he threw it back. The experienced fisherman watched this go on all day and finally got tired of seeing this man waste good fish. “Why do you keep throwing back all the big fish you catch?” he asked.

The inexperienced fisherman replied, “I only have a small frying pan.” Sometimes, like that fisherman, we throw back the big plans, big dreams, big jobs, big opportunities that God gives us. Our faith is too small. We laugh at that fisherman who didn’t figure out that all he needed was a bigger frying pan; yet how ready are we to increase the size of our faith?

Whether it’s a problem or a possibility, God will never give you anything bigger than you can handle. That means we can confidently walk into anything God brings our way.

You can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).

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Source: vielouis-stories.blogspot.com

Words of Wisdom…From An Angel!

Nicolas Raymond

Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond via CC Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

Always Pray. Pray Always.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your attitude determines your direction!

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

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

 

“If you can’t fly, then run.

If you can’t run, then walk.

If you can’t walk, then crawl,

But whatever you do,

You have to keep moving forward.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King

 

Go the extra mile…it’s never crowded!

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

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

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

Don’t stop until you are proud!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do something today that your future self will thank you for

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

It is possible to choose peace over worry.

Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patience is the key to paradise.

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

PROVE THEM WRONG!

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

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

NEVER LOSE HOPE 😊

 

NEVER LOSE HOPE 😊