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).
The death of a close friend, a dear sibling or spouse, or a loving relative can lead a person to great depths of grief, despair and hurt. There are times when the death seems like a blessing because the person was suffering from an illness or some other misfortune, and they are now free from their suffering. In some instances, the individual expires because of old age or in other occasions, the passing of an individual is sudden and shocking. Regardless, when someone a person knows passes from this life, there is usually a time of great sorrow and pain.
Over the course of this past year, I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing some family and friends of mine who either died suddenly or have been going through the dark valleys of their lives. I came across the following story a while back that was written by an older gentleman, who had written his response to someone who had asked the following question in an editorial in his newspaper: “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.” Many people responded but there was one old man whose incredible comment stood out from the rest. What he stated might just change the way we approach life and death:
“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, parents, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
I wish that I could say that you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever someone I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if that scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and love. And scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
“As for grief, you’ll find that it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with all of the wreckage around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was…and is no more. All you can do is float. You find some piece of wreckage and hang on for a while. Maybe it is a physical thing. Maybe it is a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float and stay alive.
“In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they crash over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. If might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave keeps crashing…but in between waves…there is life.
“Somewhere down the line, and it is different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall…or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at an airport. You can see it coming and for the most part, you prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
“Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come…and you will survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of love…and lots of shipwrecks.” ~ Source: Pinterest
It is my deepest hope and prayer that this commentary can help you or someone you know who may be “drowning” in a Sea of Despair or Grief. I know this…it helped me when I read it a while ago when my lifelong and best friend died, and who I miss every day…my Dad. So’s here to hope, grace, and happiness…and remembering the times with your loved one…the memories that will last a lifetime!
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!
I recently turned the big “5-0” a couple of years ago and what was even more humiliating, was receiving an AARP membership letter in the mail the very next day…Ahhh! Anyway, I have always been a nostalgic-type guy and I have become even more so during the past months.
I usually find myself a few times each day thinking to myself, “just once, I would love to go back in time and do…..” basically, reminding myself of the days or years in my past. It always brings a type of warmth to my heart and a smile to my face thinking of the friends, people, places and activities that I used to enjoy.
I know that it isn’t healthy to “overindulge” or “dwell on the past” too much on the things of the past, but sometimes, when life gets hard, crazy, or hectic, it’s always nice to sit back and think of the special things that happened…when life was simple and pure.
So, if I could, I would love to go back and do some of these things…just one more time…
Stay outside until the street lights came on…which meant it was time to come home
Have bike races around the block with baseball cards flapping in my spokes which we thought made us sound like we were riding motorcycles
Hear the dinner bell ring…which called us all home for dinner
Listen to grandma calling all of our cats letting them know that their food was ready
Go Snapper fishing with my dad off the boat docks until sundown
Help my mom decorate her classroom and get it ready for her students
Play baseball and kickball with the kids in our neighborhood for hours each day
Build a tree fort in the trees in our backyard
Play and “Hide and Seek” in the woods and discover things around creeks and ponds
Save the world from evil and chaos as super heroes Batman (and my brother) Robin
Sit on my grandfather’s lap and listen to one more of his stories
Go sleigh riding down “Mueller’s Hill”, fly off the snow ramps and navigate around the obstacles that we made
Give my mom and dad one more hug
Visit neighbors with my brother and then enjoy the treats that they would give us
Have crabapple fights with the neighbors
Build sandcastles then making a big sand wall trying to prevent the incoming tide from destroying my fortress
Smell the aromas of the sausage and pepper sandwiches, homemade French fries, fresh cotton candy and pizza that that were always present at the boardwalk
Hear the sounds of the binging and ringing of bells, whistles and other noises emanating from the boardwalk arcades
Feel the sudden pull of the line on my pole as a fish got snagged on the hook and the excitement of the “fight”
Experience my heart “skipping a beat” as I asked a girl on the first date of my life
Watch my dad take portraits of people in his photography studio
Take a family vacation with my wife and two boys
Experience the excitement and magic of dating my wife then marrying her
Go to Yankee Stadium with friends
Stand on the rock jetty by the beach, watching fishing, luxury, and other boats come in
Go to college again
Play miniature golf during a beautiful summer night
Go to a family reunion
I could go on and list more things for hours…but the one thing that I wish that I could do….just one more time…if only for a moment…would be to TELL my mom, dad and grandma…how much I loved them…and thank them for all the love that they showed me.
Life is short. Take the time each and every day to enjoy the big AND small things. Appreciate and be thankful for all the people that are in your life and let them know how much they mean to you…before they are all gone.
If you’re spiritually alive, you’re going to love this!
If you’re spiritually dead, you won’t want to read it.
If you’re spiritually curious, there is still hope!
A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. I’ve gone for 30 years now,’ he wrote, ‘and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons, but for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them so, I think I’m wasting my time and the priests are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all.’
This started a real controversy in the ‘Letters to the Editor’ column. Much to the delight of the editor, it went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:
I’ve been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this… They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!’
Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible!
One of my favorite TV shows that I used to enjoy watching when I was a kid, was about this friendly, caring and compassionate man who loved to share the good things in life and his positive personal thoughts with us kids…Mr. Fred Rogers, host of “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”.
He always had this kind and gentle way of explaining the important and every-day-things of life in entertaining and educational ways. I used to think that it must have been really a cool thing to live in a neighborhood like that. Unfortunately, or course, the neighborhood wasn’t real and “life” was a lot harder and different from the way it was portrayed.
The one thing that I learned the most from watching most of his shows, something that I still try to do every day…even now…is to show kindness and compassion to other people…especially individuals that were less fortunate than me.
One of the best examples that I ever saw of the great, beautiful kindness of Mr. Roger’s was the following video clip of Mr. Rogers and a little crippled boy in his wheelchair named Jeff Erlanger in 1981. The result of this interview and the way Fred Roger’s spoke and treated Jeff during this time, changed Jeff’s life forever.
Twenty years later, Fred Rogers was nominated to the TV Hall of Fame. During the H.O.F dinner something magical and beautiful happened…which you will see in this video.
It WILL touch your heart and hopefully, illustrate to you the fantastic power of showing kindness and compassion to others…just be sure to have a box of tissues with you…you’ll need them 🙂
Today is September 11…and throughout America, there are hundreds of ceremonies and numerous “Moments of Silences” for people across our nation to reflect upon the happenings of that tragic day over a decade ago.
It is still as fresh in my memory, as if it happened yesterday, exactly what I was doing at the time the first plane hit the tower. I remember teaching my Physical Education class out on the field when the assistant Head Master of my school came out and told me what had happened. The rest of the day and the weeks to come seemed so surreal. Seeing the towers fall, the people running, the great plumes of smoke, people covered with ashes, dirt and ash, rumors of the Pentagon, the Capital Building and the White House getting hit and the chaos that ensued…it was a crazy time!
The thing that I also remember vividly, was how the country came together as one. American flags flew all across the land. it became virtually impossible to even buy a flag because they were all sold out. People flew them from their homes, businesses, cars, and even from the back of pick-up trucks! There was even a night that people were asked to light a torch or a candle and place it on their lawns or windows to show their love and support for the policemen, firefighters, and rescue people. Patriotism for our country had never been so strong…and sadly, nor has it been since then.
Here’s the thing, the thing that I am most proud of…our flag and what it is a symbol for. It represents our freedom…freedom to worship where and when we want…freedom to go anywhere as we please…freedom to vote for people that we want in office…freedom to go to and from anywhere that we wish…and so much more. It represents the hundreds of thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives for this country so that we could enjoy the freedoms that we have.
Today’s short video clip and a nice little reflection on our flag and some of the things that it should remind us of.
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
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!
Every once in a while, I come across a short story or illustration that reminds me of things that I may have forgotten…such was the case when I found this brief tale. It made me remember really how fortunate that I am and how important it is to always give thanks and be thankful!
I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels.
My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, ‘This Is the Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are Received.’
I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.
Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section.
The angel then said to me, ‘This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them.’
I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth
Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the Door of a very small station To my great surprise, only one angel was Seated there, idly doing nothing.
‘This is the Acknowledgment Section,’ My angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed ‘How Is it that there is no work going on here?’ I asked.
‘So sad,’ the angel sighed. ‘After people receive the blessings that they asked For, very few send back acknowledgments .’
‘How does one acknowledge God’s blessings?’ I asked.
‘Simple,’ the angel answered. Just say, ‘Thank you, Lord.’
‘What blessings should they acknowledge? ‘ I asked..
‘If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy .’
‘And if you get this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity. ‘
Also ‘ If you woke up this morning with more health than illness … You are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day .’
‘If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation .. You are ahead of 700 million people in the world.’ ;
‘If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people In the world .’
‘If your parents are still alive and still married …you are very rare .’
‘If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you’re unique to all those in doubt and despair.’
Ok, what now? How can I start?
If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
There are times in our lives that we wonder where God is when life gets hard. Sometimes it seems like God isn’t listening, doesn’t care, or is going to answer our prayers. The good news…He IS always there and ALWAYS working and comforting people…sometimes in ways that are unknown to us…as the following story so beautifully shows us.
A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. She was still groggy from surgery.
Her husband, David, held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news. That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency cesarean to deliver couple’s new daughter, Dana Lu Blessing.
At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor’s soft words dropped like bombs.
“I don’t think she’s going to make it,” he said, as kindly as he could. “There’s only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one.”
Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Dana would likely face if she survived. She would never walk, she would never talk, she would probably be blind, and she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on.
“No! No!” was all Diana could say.
She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away.
As those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Dana’s underdeveloped nervous system was essentially ‘raw’, the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn’t even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Dana struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.
There was never a moment when Dana suddenly grew stronger. But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there. At last, when Dana turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later, Dana went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted. Though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero.
Five years later, Dana was a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She showed no signs whatsoever of any mental or physical impairment. Simply, she was everything a little girl can be and more. But that happy ending is far from the end of her story.
One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Dana was sitting in her mother’s lap in the bleachers of a local ball park where her brother Dustin’s baseball team was practicing. As always, Dana was chattering nonstop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her arms across her chest, little Dana asked, “Do you smell that?”
Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, “Yes, it smells like rain.”
Dana closed her eyes and again asked, “Do you smell that?”
Once again, her mother replied, “Yes, I think we’re about to get wet. It smells like rain.”
Still caught in the moment, Dana shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, “No, it smells like Him. It smells like God does when you lay your head on His chest.”
Tears blurred Diana’s eyes as Dana happily hopped down to play with the other children.
Before the rains came, her daughter’s words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along. During those long days and nights of the first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Dana on His chest and it was His loving scent that the little girl was remembering.
God is not a knife edge to carefully balance on lest one falls into the abyss. God is an infinite plain, no matter which way you fall, he catches you.