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…

Great Life Lessons to Live By

Dennis Yang
Photo Credit: Dennis Yang via CC Flickr

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is now

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

Fear is an illusion (mostly)

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

Relationships rule

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

Debt isn’t worth it

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

Your kids aren’t you

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

Things gather dust

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

Fun is underrated

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

Failure is good

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

Friendships need care

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

Experiences first

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

Anger isn’t worth it

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

Kindness matters

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

Age is a number

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

Vulnerability heals

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

Posturing builds walls

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

Exercise is power

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

Grudges cause pain

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

Passion upgrades life

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

Travel expands you

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

You aren’t always right

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

It will pass

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

You define meaning

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

Risk expands you

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

Change is good

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

Thoughts aren’t real

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

You can’t control others

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

Your body is a temple

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

Touch heals

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

You can handle it

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

Gratitude multiplies happiness

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

Intuition counts

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

Please yourself first

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

Self-honesty is freedom

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

Perfection is boring

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

Serving creates meaning

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

Little things matter

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

Learn forever

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

Aging happens

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

Marriages change

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

Worry is worthless

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

Heal your wounds

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

Simple is better

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

Do the work

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

It’s never too late

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

Action beats angst

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

Creation beats reaction

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

Release attachments

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

Your words matter

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

Make every day count

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

Love is the answer

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

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

The Joy of Changing A Life

august-brill
Photo Credit: August Brill via CC Flickr

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

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

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

————————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Unknown

The Need of Caring for Others

artis-rams
Photo Credit: Artis Ram via CC Flickr

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The son replied, “No sir, I haven’t.”

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

The restaurant went silent.

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

Encouraging Quotes of Gratitude and Thanksgiving

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Photo Credit: Hey Paul Studios via CC Flickr

I have always felt that the one thing in the world that make people truly the happiest, is when they do and give things to other people. How many times that you remember, have you felt really good about yourself, when you have helped someone? Said an encouraging word? Giving thanks for everything that you have?….or maybe just a small thing? Gratitude and Thanksgiving…both words go hand together…or like Forest Gump would say, “Like peas and carrots.”

I decided to find some inspiring quotes from all kinds of people, to hopefully, encourage you, enlighten your soul, or inspire you to say “thank you” or help someone today. Make it a goal of yours to show gratitude and compassion to at least one person every day!

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“There is joy without gratitude” ~ Brene Brown

“At times our own flame goes out, and is rekindled by a spark from another person… Each of us had cause to think, with great gratitude, of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” ~ Karl Barth

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them>” ~ John F. Kennedy

“When you love what you have, you have everything you need.” ~ Unknown (one of my favorites though 🙂

“Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more>”  Oprah Winfrey

“Nothing os more honored than a grateful heart.” ~ Seneca

“Gratitude and Thanksgiving is more than an attitude, it’s a lifestyle.” ~ Jenni Mullnix

“If the only prayer you ever say is “Thank You”, that would be enough.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.” ~ Unknown

“I’m thankful for every moment.” ~ Al Green

“No one has ever become poor from giving.” ~ Maya Angelou

“What if, today, we were grateful for everything?” ~ Charlie Brown


A Final Thanksgiving Poem Just For You!!

May you stuffing be tasty

May your turkey be plump

May your potatoes and gravy

Have nary a lump

 

May your yams be delicious

And your pies take the prize

And may your Thanksgiving dinner

Stay off your thighs!

~ Unknown

A Man and a Fork

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Photo Credit: Waferboard via CC Flickr

There was a young man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as he was getting his things ‘in order,’ he contacted his Priest and had him come to his house to discuss certain aspects of his final wishes.

 He told him which songs he wanted sung at the service,what scriptures he would like read, and what outfit he wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the Priest was preparing to leave when the young man suddenly remembered something very important to him.

 

‘There’s one more thing,’ he said excitedly..

 

‘What’s that?’ came the Priest’s reply.

 

‘This is very important,’ the young man continued.

‘I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.’

 

The Priest stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say.

That surprises you, doesn’t it?’ the young man asked.

 

‘Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,’ said the Priest.

 

The young man explained. ‘My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.

In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,

‘Keep your fork.

 

‘ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming …. like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.

 

Something wonderful, and with substance!’

 

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’

 

Then I want you to tell them:

‘Keep your fork … the best is yet to come.’

The Priest’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young man good-bye. He knew this would be one of  the last times he would see him before his death.

But he  also knew that the young man had a better grasp of heaven than he did. He had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice his age, with twice as much experience and knowledge.

 

He KNEW that something better was coming.

 

At the funeral people were walking by the young man’s casket and they saw the suit he was wearing and the fork placed in his right hand. Over and over, the Priest heard the question, ‘What’s with the fork?’ And over and over he smiled.

 

During his message, the Priest told the people of the conversation he had with the young man shortly before he died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to him.

 

He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

 

He was right. So the next time you reach down for your  fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

 

Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed.

They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.

 

Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share. Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility.

Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND… and  I’ll bet this will be an Email they do remember, every time they pick up a fork!

And just remember … keep your fork!

The BEST is yet to come!

When Angels Speak

Photo Credit: Istolethetv via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Istolethetv via CC Flickr

There is something very special and unique when kind words are spoken to people who are struggling and dealing with hard times…but none more treasured, when they are spoken from an angel. The kinds of angel that I am talking about aren’t the kind that you may be thinking…the celestial, heavenly beings that thousands of stories and books have been written and told about. The variety of angels that I am referring to is the sweet, innocent creatures that we know as children. It truly is an amazing and heartwarming thing to observe the things and actions that a child may do to another person to encourage and help them.

 Children usually say and do things in such open and honest ways…more than most adults would do. Sometimes, I think that children have the wonderful ability to see others and the world in which they live, in ways that we adults struggle to see.

 Today’s story comes from a friend of mine who wrote the following story about her little son. I found it so heartwarming and delightful; I thought that it would be something that would be a good thing to share with you.

 I hope that this story will remind you of the wonder and magic words of the “angels.”

“I took the kids to Walmart this afternoon and while we were there, we passed an elderly couple in the aisle. Instead of walking past them, Michael stops and looks at the woman in the wheelchair and says, “Hi! I’m Michael. What’s your name?”. The woman smiled and said her name was Molly, We stood there for a few minutes longer while Michael and Molly talked, before I told him it was time to say good-bye. He very gently touched his fingers to the woman’s cheek, looked her in the eyes and said, “Molly, you’re my friend.”

It was one of those moments that I just don’t have the words for. The couple seemed genuinely touched by the whole thing and Michael left with the biggest smile on his face. This isn’t the first time he’s done something like this and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but it always catches me off guard. He has such a gentle and compassionate spirit, and always seems to know exactly when someone needs that small act of kindness.

Watching him, it reminds me to slow down, step out of my comfort zone, and look for those small ways to show love to someone. You may never know what that smile or small gesture means to someone else.”

Pictures That Speak Volumes #78: The Cat’s Meow

IMG_1038
Photo Credit: Unknown

There is something really special and magical when small animals get together with little children. The result is usually simply adorable! Today’s picture is a perfect example of that sweet time of most of our lives, when we had the enjoyable time to love our pets and feel good about the world.

I am sure that you probably remember such a time…if so, leave a comment and share your experience with us!!

Showing Grace

Todd Huffman
Photo Credit: Todd Huffman via CC Flickr

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

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Ahmed Shah was a famous ruler of Afghanistan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: storiesforpreaching.com

Pictures That Speak Volumes #77

Mike Wells Ugandan Boy
Photo Credit: Mike Wells

This picture really does speak 1,000 words and it should touch the heart and spirit of each one of us. This is a picture, taken by Mike Wells, of a little Ugandan boy whose hand is being held by a missionary.

This should serve as a great reminder to all of us, as to how “rich and blessed” a lot of us really are. There are many things that we take for granted…nice homes, cars, families, jobs, good health, food, etc. We all should take a moment out of time, everyday, to give thanks for all that we have!

Why Teachers Are Heroes

Vicki Soto
Victoria Soto – An American Hero

I have been a teacher and a coach for 30 years. My mother was a teacher for more than 45 years and my wife, and now recently, my son, are teachers. It have always found it intriguing, personally as a teacher and coach, and by watching other educators, how possessive and protective that we can become with our students. The fact the we spend almost 8 hours a day with them, five days a week (or more), can lead teachers to have those kinds of relationships.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise to me, that when a calamity or a dangerous situation takes place, a teacher can become a fierce defender and protector of their charges…sometimes giving the ultimate sacrifice…their lives, for their students. That’s why, a story like the following one that I found on Oddee.com, touches my soul so deeply.

Aside form this, teachers can also have an effect on a young person’s life and their future, by the example that they demonstrate each day in their classroom or on the field. It’s the reason why, in my opinion, teachers will always be heroes.

“Like astronauts, every good teacher is a hero. It bears repeating that the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary should never be forgotten.

On December 14, 2012, 26 people – 20 students and 6 adult staff members – were shot and killed at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT.

A 27-year old teacher, Victoria Soto, sacrificed her life when she hid her students in a closet to protect them from crazed gunman Adam Lanza. When Lanza entered her classroom, she told him that the students were in the gym. The terrified kids started running from the closet and Lanza began shooting. Soto threw herself in front of the children and was killed. The last moments of her life were spent protecting her young students by using her body as a shield against bullets from the deranged madman’s gun.

Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach sprung into action, but were killed when trying to keep Lanza from entering the building. Teacher Lauren Rousseau hid her students in the bathroom in her attempt to protect the children and also died while doing so.

District Superintendent Janet Robinson noted these and other “incredible acts of heroism” that “ultimately saved so many lives.””

How Deep is Your Love?

Photo Credit: Unknown
Photo Credit: Unknown

It has always been fascinating to me how strong and fervent the power of love can be. It can make the simplest and humblest individual into a person who is incredibly courageous, strong, and brave…especially in the time of harm and danger.

Such is the story that you will read today. I can’t help but think…how many people would have the determination, love, and bravery that this man, husband and son had when his life was at one of its darkest depths? It makes you think…. 

In March 2001, Japan got hit with the most devastating and deadly Tsunami’s that have ever hit the country. Millions of people lost their homes, businesses, belongings, etc., and tens of thousands of people either were injured or lost their lives.

One of the towns that was struck was named Ishinomaki where a man named Hideaki Akaiwa was working in his home.. Realizing his wife was trapped in their home, he ignored the advice of the emergency personnel and other professionals, who told him to wait for the army to arrive and help him with a search and rescue.

Instead, he found a wet suit, jumped in the furious water current…dodging cars, houses, and other  kinds of debris that was being dragged around and carried away by the current…any of which could have killed him instantly. He navigated the now submerged streets in the pitch dark, freezing water until he found his house.

Swimming inside, he discovered his wife alive on the upper level with only a small amount of breathing room and pulled her to safety. If he had waited for the army, his wife, of 20 years, would have been dead.

But Hideaki wasn’t finished. A short time later, he realized that his mother was also missing. So he jumped back into the water and managed to save her life as well.

Every day, for weeks after the tsunamis struck, Hideaki got into the water on one-man search and rescue missions, saving countless lives. This proved that two natural disasters in a single day…and insurmountable odds…can’t stand in the way of love.

Source: themetapicture.com

 

A Man That Had It All (and still does!)

I simply LOVE short, inspirational and heartwarming stories like this. It is stuff like this that inspires me to be kind to at least one person each day. Just look at the happiness on Scott’s face and the total love and contentment on the little child’s face…priceless!!

Scott Neeson

 

 

The Four Wives We All Have

Eksley
Photo Credit: Eksley via CC Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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