Coping With Grief and the Shipwrecks of Life

Lookas PHT

Photo Credit: Lookas PHT via CC Flickr

Grief. Despair. Pain. Suffering. These are just a few words that describe the feelings and emotions that millions of people experience everyday around the world. The death of a family member or loved one, the loss of a job, a separation from a spouse, personal injury, loss of a job, the passing of a pet, sickness, cancer…the list goes on and on.

 Grief and depression can sometimes be overwhelming and lead an individual to suffer from a variety of physical problems such as fatigue, headaches, sore muscles, heart and chest pains…just to name a few. People can also experience emotional stresses such as numbness, bitterness, detachment, inability to show or feel joy, etc. Like I said, grief and depression can be downright devastating!!

 If you have experienced times like these or are currently fighting through a difficult time in your life, the following story might, very well, be just for you. It tells of a great approach that you may be able to use to help you deal with grief in a positive fashion.

 I read the following short story that I felt would be a fantastic post for my blog. It is my hope and prayer that this illustration might help you, even in a small way, to change your outlook and perspective on your life and help you heal a wounded soul and a broken heart!

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Someone on Reddit wrote the following heartfelt plea online:

 “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

A lot of people responded. Then there was one old man that wrote an incredible comment that stood out from the rest that might just change the way that we approach the turmoil of life, death, and other negative experiences.

“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, mom, 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 is my two cents.

“I wish I could say 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 the 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 continue to love. And the 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 it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. All you can do is float. You find some piece of wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it is a physical thing…a happy memory, a photograph, etc. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. staying 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 still crash all 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. It 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 comes crashing…but in between waves…there is life.

“Somewhere down the line, and it is different for everybody, you will 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, for the most part, and 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 onto 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 will survive them. And other waves will come…and you will have to survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves…and lots of shipwrecks.”

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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

Three Great Life Lessons From Alexander the Great

Jean Simon Berthelemy

Painting by Jean-Simon Berthelemy

I am a big fan of history. I love reading and listening to books and documentaries of all kinds of history that ha spanned over the centuries. It is fascinating to see how past world leaders, inventors, athletes, armies, scientists, politicians, wars, etc.

One of the people who has always fascinated me was Alexander the Great. He was a supreme commander who, believe it or not, was actually tutored under the great philosopher, Aristotle! He wasn’t a big man…he was actually a short and stocky man who had two different color eyes…one brown and one blue. He also founded over 20 cities that bore his name…the greatest being the famous city of Alexandria in Egypt. At the peak of his reign, he ruled over 2007731 square miles of the world!!

So, it is no surprise that when I read the following story about Alexander the Great on Speakbindas.com, it fascinated me and actually reminded me of me some really good concepts and lessons in life, that we all, should never forget! I encourage you to take the lessons that you will read and put them into your heart!!


There is very instructive incident involving the life of Alexander, the great Macedonian king. Alexander, after conquering many kingdoms, was returning home. On the way, he fell ill and it took him to his death bed. With death staring him in his face, Alexander realized how his conquests, his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no consequence.

He now longed to reach home to see his mother’s face and bid her his last adieu. But, he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit him to reach his distant homeland. So, the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last. He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.” With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes.

“My first desire is that,” said Alexander, “My physicians alone must carry my coffin.” After a pause, he continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.

“The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin.”The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes. But no one dare bring the question to their lips.

Alexander’s favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. “O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?”

At this Alexander took a deep breath and said: “I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have just learnt. I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can really cure any body. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So let not people take life for granted.

The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the way to the graveyard is to tell People that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.

And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world.”

Alexander’s last words:  “Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying“.

With these words, the king closed his eyes. Soon he let death conquer him and breathed his last.

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.””

Be Careful What You Wish For!

jessicahtam

Photo Credit: Jeassicahtam via CC Flickr

A little while ago, I read the following story that made me sit back and think about the incredible power of love and the importance of making it our goal to make a beautiful thing, last for a lifetime. We have to change our mindsets to a more positive focus…we need to WANT to achieve a goal instead of HOPING that it might happen.

I hope you enjoy this story…


While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life-changing experiences that you hear other people talk about -the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly. This one occurred a mere two feet away from me. Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jetway, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags.

He stopped right next to me to greet his family. First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, I heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes and replied softly, “Me, too, Dad!”

Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping his son’s face in his hands said, “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug.

While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father.

The man said, “Hi, baby girl!” as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder, motionless in pure contentment.

After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing.

He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed. “I love you so much!” They stared at each other’s eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands. For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds, but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn’t possibly be.

I puzzled about it for a moment then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm’s length away from me.

I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married?” “Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those.” he replied, without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife’s face. “Well then, how long have you been away?” I asked the man finally turned and looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile.”Two whole days!”

Two days? I was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, I had assumed he’d been gone for at least several weeks – if not months. I know my expression betrayed me, I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!”

The man suddenly stopped smiling. He looked me straight in the eye, and with forcefulness that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, “Don’t hope, friend… decide!” Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, “God bless!” With that, he and his family turned and strode away together.

I was still watching that exceptional man and his special family walk just out of sight when my friend came up to me and asked, “What’cha looking at?” Without hesitating, and with a curious sense of certainty, I replied, “My future!”

Read more at http://www.motivationalwellbeing.com/motivational-stories-8.html#ixzz48J18nFM3

The Art and Skill of Listening

Egrodziak

Photo Credit: Egrodziak via CC Flickr

We all know that life in today’s world is getting faster and faster. Lifestyles are getting busier, more complicated, and less enjoyable. One of the skills that a good number of individuals have lost along the way, has been the skill or ability to actually be quiet, listen and hear to what people (or things) are saying.

How many times have you found yourself “going through the motions” responding to people in robotic, mechanical ways, and never really hearing to what is being said?

Let’s really take the time each day to stop and authentically listen and hear to what our friends, loved ones, or other things” are being said…the results may surprise you!

Today, I have included four very short stories that will illustrate the importance of listening to different things. I hope that these stories will help you in some small way, to maybe improve your relationships with people.

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Mr. President

The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.” It was not till the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Nonplussed, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”

The Signal Gets Weaker

I listen to my local radio station while I’m driving in my car. When I drive away from the radio tower, the signal gets weaker and weaker.  But if I turn the car around and drive back into town, the signal becomes stronger and I can hear it again.

In the same way, we stop hearing God when we drift away from Him.  But if we will turn around and come back to Him, we’ll hear His voice again. The closer we are to God, the clearer we can hear Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Kent Crockett’s Sermon Illustrations, www.kentcrockett.com

 

The Ship Wreck

On December 9, 1902, on Mt Desert Rock off the coast of Maine, a young lighthouse assistant awakened the lighthouse keeper to tell him that he thought he heard a steamboat whistle nearby. The two of them went out into the bitter cold and saw, on the tip of a rock ledge, what appeared to be a wrecked boat. The two men took a rope and fought their way through the icy wind until they saw a tugboat with several men aboard pinned to the rock. It took several attempts, but at last they reached the boat, and despite the frigid conditions, pulled 18 men to safety. Had the young assistant keeper not heard the whistle in the night, some of the crewmen might have perished, for the boat sank shortly after the last man was rescued. Afterwards, as the survivors warmed up and talked about their ordeal, they marveled that their distress whistle could even have been heard over the howling wind and pounding waves. One of the seamen remarked, “That whistle was the voice of God; and thankfully, someone heard it.” (LecAid ibid.) God speaks to us. And when you hear that word, it brings comfort, solace, strength, guidance, courage, and wisdom. God speaks to YOU. And when you hear that word, when you LISTEN to that word, when you RESPOND to that word, you have in your hands a strong rope to lead you over the most troubled waters. For God’s word is the word of life. This is the word of the Lord! AMEN.

An Old Man’s Wisdom

There is a story told of an old man and his grandson who were walking down a business street in a downtown district. As they walked along, the grandfather suddenly stopped, turned his head slightly, and tweaked his ear. After a moment he said to his grandson, “Follow me.”

They slowly moved from where they were standing to a small planter box next to a sidewalk café. The planter was filled with various seasonal plants, but as the old man gently pushed back the flowers, behind them revealed a small bird’s nest filled with baby chicks; their chirping almost indistinguishable from the din of lunchtime dinners and people on the sidewalk.

No one seemed to pay any attention to the old man, his grandson or the little nest, but the grandson was amazed. After watching for a few minutes and then moving away the little boy looked up at his grandfather.

“Grandpa, how did you hear the birds? There is so much noise, so much happening, how could you hear?”

Without saying a word the old man took several coins from his pocket and tossed them on the ground.

With the tinkling of the coins on the sidewalk it seemed everything came to a stop. People turned around. Diners stopped eating to look their way. Several almost seemed to want to reach down and pick up the dropped coins. Then as quickly as it had happened – everything went back to the way it was.

That’s when the old man spoke, “It’s all in what you are listening for, my child, its all in what you are listening for…”

Sometimes I think we are much like the crowd walking down the street. We fail to hear the most important things in life. We’ve filled our lives with so much noise that it’s difficult to hear anything anymore. And when we do hear, we often mistake what we are hearing for what we want to hear instead of what we should be hearing.

Remember this little bit of trivia: The word LISTEN has the same letters as the word SILENT!

There’s A Mouse in the House!!

micolo-j Flickr

Photo Credit: Micolo-j via CC Flickr

This is a re-post of an article that I posted way back when I first began my “Good Time Stories” page. It is one of my favorite little stories. I hope you like it as much as I do!!


There are many people in today’s world that want nothing to do with helping other people. Their thought is, “why should I go out of my way to help them with the problem that they are facing? It has nothing to do with me.” Well, sometimes this decision can come back to affect them. The story today clearly illustrates why, sometimes, we should go out of our way to help others.

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. What food might this contain? The mouse wondered – he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr.Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me.”” I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The pig sympathized, but said, I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. “Be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow and said “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house — like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.

But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.
The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember…..the mouse in the house.