The Civil War was a bloody and vicious war. At least 618,000 Americans died and some say the toll reached 700,000. Casualties exceeded all of America’s other wars from the Revolution through Vietnam.
In the winter of 1862, General Robert E. Lee’s forces had claimed several key battlefields in the Eastern Campaign. One of those key battles was as one-sided as a battle could be. It was the Battle of Fredericksburg. On December 13, 1862, Union forces began what was termed a desperate and eventual doomed assault on a heavily fortified position known as “the stone wall at sunken road.”
After crossing a river, the Union confidently took the town of Fredericksburg with little resistance. The Confederate army had voluntarily given up the town so that they might fortify themselves along a stone wall at the base of a sloping hill. As the Union army began to approach the wall, they were attacked and by the morning of December 14th over 8,000 Union soldiers had been shot in front of the stone wall. Many of those remaining on the battlefield were still alive, but suffering from their wounds, the cold, and thirst.
During the night, both sides were forced to listen to the cries and moans of those soldiers for hours. A Confederate soldier stationed near the wall later stated that it was “weird, unearthly, and terrible to hear and bear the cries of the dying soldiers filling the air – lying crippled on a hillside so many miles from home – breaking the hearts of soldiers on both sides of the battlefield.”
Richard Rowland Kirkland, an infantry sergeant for the Confederacy could not rest or sleep due to the suffering of the Union soldiers and that morning he asked his commanding officer if he could scale the wall and, the shooting stopped. provide water for the suffering Union troops. The commanding officer was reluctant at first because of the danger to Richard but later allowed to do so. As Richard climbed the wall, several shots were instantly fired thinking that Kirkland’s motives were to wound more, but after realizing what was happening, the shooting ceased. Richard Rowland Kirkland made his way to each soldier comforting them the best he could by laying his jacket over one and providing water to the thirsty lips for all. For the next hour and a half, he would scale the wall several times with his canteen to get more water for his enemy.
It was a moment that temporarily stopped the Civil War.
You see, Mr. Kirkland showed an incredible sense of courage and leadership to his men and the enemy in an extremely adverse situation. He most likely was very scared and fearful knowing that his decision to help others might have been his last…but he made a commitment and stuck to it to its conclusion.
How much more should people, as leaders, step up, stay focused on the task at hand and work together with others, to achieve their goals! There is a huge difference between a Boss and a Leader…a Boss has people work for THEM to get a job completed, while a Leader works together with people, to accomplish a task. I doubt very much that anyone will experience a situation as extreme as Mr. Kirkland, but will have the opportunity each day to demonstrate their leadership skills to those around them.
Throughout every person’s life, an individual may have one, or many goals, that they set for themselves. There are many kinds of goals. Whether they are short term, long term or just temporary, the important thing is that we stay consistent, focused and keep our eyes on the goal. There are times when attaining a goal may be easy or other times when it seems like a goal is far, far away and we will never be able to reach it but if we don’t lose heart and keep working hard, a goal can be accomplished. Today’s story is a great example of a person who learned from her weakness, became a stronger, more determined individual and met her goal.
When she looked ahead, Florence Chadwick saw nothing but a solid wall of fog. Her body was numb. She had been swimming for nearly sixteen hours.
Already she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. She had managed to finish that swim in a record time, 16 hours and 22 minutes on August 8, 1950. Now, at age 34, her goal was to become the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to Palos Verde on the California coast.
On that Fourth of July morning in 1952, the sea was like an ice bath and the fog was so dense she could hardly see her support boats. Sharks cruised toward her lone figure, only to be driven away by rifle shots. Against the frigid grip of the sea, she struggled on – hour after hour – while millions watched on national television.
Alongside Florence in one of the boats, her mother and her trainer offered encouragement. They told her it wasn’t much farther. But all she could see was fog. They urged her not to quit. She never had . . . until then. With only a half mile to go, she asked to be pulled out.
Still thawing her chilled body several hours later, she told a reporter, “Look, I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land I might have made it.” It was not fatigue or even the cold water that defeated her. It was the fog. She was unable to see her goal.
Two months later, she tried again. This time, despite the same dense fog, she swam with her faith intact and her goal clearly pictured in her mind. She knew that somewhere behind that fog was land and this time she made it! Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the Catalina, eclipsing the men’s record by two hours!
It is interesting how many people think that the little things that can happen in life, can really have no significant impact during situations or circumstances that may occur in their lives. They may become careless or thoughtless about words that they say or the actions that they perform. It is an important concept to understand and remember…the little things in life DO MATTER and can leave a significant impact on others.
The “little things” in life, can also lead to great accomplishments and success. It is said that “the difference between an ordinary person and an extraordinary person, is that little EXTRA.” An athlete that takes a little more time than the average player, will become an exceptional player. The same goes for the business world, teachers, coaches, or any other kind of profession…the “little extra” can have a huge impact on the life of an individual.
Consider the following story, written by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson, which demonstrates the power of going the “extra mile” or “the extra degree.”
At 211 degrees, water is hot.
At 212 degrees, water boils.
And with boiling water, comes steam.
And steam can power a locomotive.
One degree makes all the difference.
And, the one degree of effort in business and in life separates the good from the great!
The average margin of victory for the last 25 years in all major professional golf tournaments, combined, was less than three strokes.
The average margin for victory between an Olympic Gold Medal and no medal at all is extremely small. For example, in the 2004 Men’s 800m race, the margin of victory was an incredible 0.71 seconds!
At the Indianapolis 500, the average margin for victory for the past 10 years has been 1.54 seconds. On average, the winner took home $1,278,813, the second place prize was $621,321, a difference of $657,492. (Note, these stats are from a few years ago 😊
It is your life.
You are responsible for the results of it.
It is time to turn up the heat.
To get what we have never had, we must do what we have never done.
It was once said, that when people watch the evening news, the news reporters always open their newscast with “Good Morning or Good Evening” then proceed to go on and tell you why it isn’t. Unfortunately, it appears that there is an untold number of bad and negative occurrences that take place around us each day, and the general demeanor of many people, are increasingly getting more and more depressing daily.
It has also been said that for every one thing negative that a person says to another person, that individual needs to say seven positive things back to the person that they spoke harshly to cancel out that one negative comment.
So, in that spirit, I have decided to give you several quotes that I hope, will encourage you and uplift your spirit. Take some time to “stop and smell the roses” and read some words and notes of encouragement.
Always look at the good things in life, and never dwell on the negative. If you keep your head down, you’ll miss the blessings
I no longer allow the negative things in life to spoil all the good things I have
I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY!
Don’t let people steal the joy from your life.
Always believe…Good things are on the way!
Enjoy the little things.
Be strong because things will get better. It may be stormy now, but remember…it never rains forever.
The best things in life are the people you love, the places you go, and the memories you make.
Take a deep breath…it’s a bad day, not a bad life.
A single thread of hope…is still a powerful thing!
Focus on the good.
When you are focused upon how good it is…the good gets better.
The greatest things in life are free!
Anyone can find the dirt on someone. Be the person who finds the gold!
Look for something positive each day…even if some days you may need to look a little harder.
Why do we close our eyes when we pray? When we cry? When we dream? Or when we kiss? Because we know that the most beautiful things in life are not seen, but felt by the heart.
Actually, …you can!
A happy life does not mean everything around you is perfect…it means choosing to be happy despite knowing the fact that life can never be perfect.
Good things take time.
Be thankful for the bad things in life. For they opened your eyes to good things you weren’t paying attention before.
Beautiful people always wear a smile.
Smile…it increases your face value 😊
There are only three things that people need in life: water, food, and compliments.
Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.
I think that some people will find this hard to believe, but people are not perfect. All of us have inadequacies and deficiencies that others may look at in a negative light but what individuals don’t realize, is that in many, many ways, some weaknesses in people can, in fact, be used in positive ways! This is true in all areas of life whether it be at work, schools, businesses, etc. We should learn, especially if you are a leader, how to find strengths through weaknesses.
Consider the following story…
There was once a man who had two large clay pots which he would hang on the ends of a pole he carried across his neck when he went to fetch water from a stream. One of the pots had a small crack in it while the other was perfect. The perfect pot always brought home a full pot of water while the cracked pot returned home barely half full.
For years, the man would always return from the stream with only one and a half pots of water. The perfect pot was very proud of its accomplishment; however, the cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection. It felt terrible that it only accomplished half of what it was intended to do.
One day while kneeling by the stream to fill his two pots, the cracked pot spoke out, “I am sorry Sir and want to apologize.”
“Why? What are you sorry about?” asked the man.
“Because of my flaw, I can only give you half a load. Never ever have I given you what you expected,” said the cracked pot.
The man continued to quietly fill his pots. When he put his pole over his neck with his two pots attached, he looked at the cracked pot and said, “Today as we walk home, look down at the path as we walk.” As they walked, the cracked pot did what he was told; he looked down at the path. By the time they arrived home half the water in the cracked pot had leaked out and it was feeling sorry for itself again.
After the man put down his pole, he asked the cracked pot, “What did you notice along the path on our way home?”
“I noticed beautiful flowers growing along our path,” replied the cracked pot.
“You’re right,” said the man. “Flowers do grow along our path. “However, did you notice they only grow on one side of the path and not the other?”
You see, I have always known about your flaw and I decided to take advantage of it. I only planted flower seeds on your side of the path and every day as we walked back from the stream, you watered the seeds for me. Because of you, I have always had an abundance of beautiful flowers to decorate my home and share with my friends. Without your flaw, I would never have had all this beauty in my life.”
Remember, the people we know are just like the cracked pot. They all have flaws. Rather than complain about their imperfections, maybe we should acknowledge their flaws and take advantage of them to make our lives and places where we live and work, better places to live. For example, in the working world, imagine how much better a work environment could be or how much production would improve, if leaders looked upon their employees with this kind of mindset! Maximizing strengths through weaknesses is a true sign of a successful person!
Have you ever experienced situations in your life in which seem impossible to solve and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel? Are the obstacles that have gotten in your way and have stopped you from achieving a life dream or a personal goal? Then I have an inspiring and motivational story you! This is an encouraging illustration of obedience, perseverance, faith and long-suffering. It will demonstrate to you the importance of maintaining your faith and patience with adversities that may come into your life.
A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.
So, this the man did, day after day
For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t moved.”
Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.
Satan said, “Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough.”
That’s what the weary man planned to do but decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. “Lord,” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”
The Lord responded compassionately, “My friend when I asked, you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.
And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown; your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition, you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock.”
At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when what God wants is just a simple obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves mountains.
When everything seems to go wrong… just P.U.S.H.!
When the job gets you down … just P.U.S.H.!
When people don’t react the way you think they should … just P.U.S.H!
When your money is “gone” and the bills are due…just P.U.S.H!
When people just don’t understand you, just P.U.S.H.
There are many, many causes and circumstances throughout a person’s life that may make an individual fearful and afraid of the future or a situation that they might be presently experiencing and can cause a great deal of hardship and turmoil. Some of the leading causes of anxiety and distress in today’s world are things such as stresses in school, work, relationships, financial/money, the death of a loved one, a serious medical illness, drugs…the list goes on and on.
It is during these times, that people may begin to feel isolated, lonely, and hopeless. Friends, family, and other acquaintances may seem a million miles away and it can appear like no one is around to help.
Well, I have great news for you!!! Today, I am going to share with you an old American Indian legend regarding the Cherokee Indians and their young boy’s “rite of passage” into manhood. It is my hope that this story will supply you with a positive sense of comfort and reassurance when you are experiencing the “valleys and shadows” of life.
At the time the ritual begins, a father takes his young son into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. The boy is required to sit on a stump the entire night and not remove his blindfold until he sees the dawns first rays of sunlight shine through it. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.
The boy is not allowed to tell any of the other boys in his village of this experience because each male must experience and come into manhood on his own. Naturally, the boy is terrified and scared to death. He can hear all kinds of noises…some are familiar, but many are strange and scary. There is no question that wild animals are all around him…or maybe even another human that may be wanting to cause him harm!
The wind blows the grass and the earth and shakes his stump…but the boy sits quietly and stoically, never getting up or removing his blindfold. This is the only way that he can become a man!
Finally, what seems like an eternity, the terrible night is over. Dawn’s first rays of sunlight appear, and the boy now takes off his blindfold. It is then that he discovers his father sitting on a stump next to him. He had been watching his son the entire night, protecting him from harm.
You see folks, we, too, are never alone…even when we don’t know it, God is always with and watching over us…sitting on the stump next to us!
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
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.
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.
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)
Have you ever tried to help other people and do something thoughtful and kind, yet become discouraged, disheartened, or upset when the outcome didn’t turn out the way you expected? There are times throughout our lives, when may t to accomplish certain goals, overcome negative or hurtful situations, and fall short. It can become very dispiriting, demoralizing, or down-right depressing.
There are two things that a can do when they face a difficult circumstance: 1) dwell on the negative, become bitter, lose focus, and quit the things that they were trying to accomplish, or, 2) maintain a single-mindedness desire to accomplish a goal, dream, or to help others. What decision would you make?
A few days ago, I came the following little sonnet (Author Unknown) which I found to be a good source of encouragement to me. It is my wish that it will motivate you to stay positive and focused in your quest to make others happy and when you chase your dreams.
“Do It Anyway”
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered:
FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish and ulterior motives:
BE KIND ANYWAY.
If you are successful, you will win false friends:
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you:
BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight:
If you find serenity and happiness, others may be jealous:
BE HAPPY ANYWAY.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow:
DO GOOD ANYWAY.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough:
GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU HAVE ANYWAY.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God:
I have been finding and posting inspiring, motivational, and encouraging stories on this blog for the past four years now. There have been instances in which people have been interested in sharing personal stories and have been willing to post their tale on this site, “Good Time Stories.”
Today, I would like to share with you, one such story which was written by my friend, known as the “Old Mainer,” from his own blog, “Old Mainer.” This is a beautiful story of an everlasting love that I am sure will touch your heart and soul. It is my hope that you not only enjoy this story but will also inspire you to discover a way to remember how much your “better half” loves you.
Each evening when I get undressed, I remove the contents of my pockets and place them on my dresser. It is all the usual stuff that we can’t live without. Cell phone, pocket knife, spare change, watch, ring, etc. Although most of the paraphernalia changes as time progresses, there is one item that I have been placing there for many years. It is a coin. Well, not a coin in the true sense of the word. It is not currency and has no monetary value. In fact, it looks more like a silver blob of aluminum that was melted down. It is flat on one side and almost smooth on the other. It wasn’t always thus. At one time, the smooth side had three words embossed on it.
I traveled a lot in my job. Never for long durations, but frequent enough to pull me away from home more then I would have liked. That is when I started carrying the coin. I always knew it was there, in my pocket, and it gave me a sense of comfort. Often, I would run my fingers over the words, as if trying to read them by touch.
When I retired, I continued to carry the coin. It had become such a part of me, that to be without it was not acceptable. Because, to me, it’s value is in what it is instead of what it’s worth. A symbol of sorts that defines me. Defines us.
The coin was given to me by my wife before departing on one of my trips. She had picked it up in a little shop. They had several of them with different phrases, but this one caught her eye and she picked it up on a whim. She probably only paid a dollar or two, but it has grown in value over the years.
Today, only the remnants of two letters remain, a V and E. All the others have worn away. But to me, they are still there. Always will be. Just more deeply embedded. It will always say I LOVE YOU. That will never wear away. If the words are gone before me, the love will still be there, and only I will see it.
It is an amazing thing to me, what people do to cope with the unfortunate circumstances and situations that they have been dealt in their lives. Some people will become pessimistic, despondent, isolated, and secluded…shutting off their friends, family and the rest of the world, while others will flee to the world of alcohol, drugs, or some other form of entertainment or vice, to lessen the pain that they are experiencing.
Transversely, other people try to look at their situation from a different perspective with a positive outlook. They decide that they are going to get their priorities in order, learn to enjoy everything about their lives even more then they used to do, and/or “make lemonade out of the lemons” that were given to them.
Today’s short story is a beautiful illustration of how an individual decided to spend his last days here on earth…
A man’s daughter had asked the local pastor to come and pray with her father. When the pastor arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The priest assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said.
“No, who are you?”
“I’m the new associate at your local church,” the pastor replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.”
“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
Puzzled, the pastor shut the door.
“I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church, I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head…”
“I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I’ll be with you always.’ Then just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.”
“So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”
The pastor was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue the journey.
Then he prayed with him and returned to the church.
Two nights later the daughter called to tell the pastor that her daddy had died that afternoon.
“Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked.
“Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, In fact, beyond strange–kinda weird. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside the bed.”
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).
There are some stories that are worth repeating..today’s story is one of them.
A year or so ago, I posted a story that I had come across simply called, “The Sandpiper.” Unbeknownst to me, the story that I published was one that had been copied and re-written by another person who wrongly took credit for it. Fortunately for me, the daughter of the real author, Mary Serman Hilbert, contacted me and told me the following…
“This story was written by my mother Mary Sherman Hilbert back in in 1978 and is copyrighted in the US Library of Congress. It was published in Readers Digest in 1980. The story has been reprinted in over ten languages and made into two plays.
There are many plagiarized versions on the internet, including the one that has an MR. Peterson instead of Mrs. P. (Ruth Peterson) as the central woman, as you have posted here. Please read Snopes assessment here for accurate clarification of the story’s background: https://www.snopes.com/glurge/sandpiper.asp
My mother passed away New Years Day 2010 at the age of eighty-seven.
~ Leigh Hilbert, December 11th, 2017
Most people who have posted my mom’s story have had good intentions and had no way to know if it had been altered along the internet pathways.
There are a few correct versions online. I will post here the original version and you can maybe repost it.”
So, without further ado, here is the original, beautiful story of the Sandpiper…..
A Sandpiper to Give You Joy
by Mary Serman Hilbert
Several years ago, a neighbor related to me an experience that happened to her one winter on a beach in Washington State. The incident stuck in my mind and I took note of what she said. Later, at a writers’ conference, the conversation came back to me and I felt I had to set it down. Here is her story, as haunting to me now as when I first heard it:
She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.
She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.
“Hello,” she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.
“I’m building,” she said.
“I see that. What is it?” I asked, not caring.
“Oh, I don’t know. I just like the feel of the sand.”
That sounds good, I thought and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. “That’s a joy,” the child said.
“It’s a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.”
The bird went glissading down the beach. “Good-bye, joy,” I muttered to myself,
“hello, pain,” and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.
“What’s your name?” She wouldn’t give up.
“Ruth,” I answered, “I’m Ruth Peterson.”
“Mine’s Windy.” It sounded like Windy. “And I’m six.” “Hi, Windy.”
She giggled. “You’re funny,” she said. In spite of my gloom I laughed too and walked on.
Her musical giggle followed me. “Come again, Mrs. P,” she called. “We’ll have another happy day.”
The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, an ailing mother.
The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. “I need a sandpiper,” I said to myself, gathering up my coat.
The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.
“Hello, Mrs. P,” she said. “Do you want to play?”
“What did you have in mind?” I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.
“I don’t know. You say.”
“How about charades?” I asked sarcastically.
The tinkling laughter burst forth again. “I don’t know what that is.”
“Then let’s just walk.” Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. “Where do you live?” I asked.
“Over there.” She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter.
“Where do you go to school?”
“I don’t go to school. Mommy says we’re on vacation.”
She chattered “little-girl” talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Windy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.
Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood even to greet Windy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding that she keep her child at home.
“Look, if you don’t mind,” I said crossly when Windy caught up with me, “I’d rather be alone today.” She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.
“Why?” She asked.
I turned on her and shouted, “Because my mother died!” – and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child?
“Oh, she said quietly, “then this is a bad day.”
“Yes, and yesterday and the day before that and – oh, go away!”
“Did it hurt?”
“Did what hurt?” I was exasperated with her, with myself.
“When she died?”
“Of course it hurt!” I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.
A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn’t there. Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn-looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.
“Hello,” I said. “I’m Ruth Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.”
“Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in.”
“Wendy talked of you so much. I’m afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please accept my apologies.”
“Not at all – she’s a delightful child,” I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it. “Where is she?”
“Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn’t tell you.”
Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught.
She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks she declined rapidly ” Her voice faltered. “She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?”
I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything, to say to this lovely young woman.
She handed me a smeared envelope, with MRS. P printed in bold, childish letters.
Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues – a yellow beach, a blue sea, a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:
A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY
Tears welled up in my eyes and a heart that had almost forgotten how to love opened wide. I took Wendy’s mother in my arms. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, “I’m so sorry,” I muttered over and over, and we wept together.
The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words – one for each year of her life – that speak to me of inner harmony, courage, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand – who taught me the gift of love.
One of the best, well-known chapters of the Bible worldwide, is 1 Corinthians 13…otherwise known as “The Love Chapter.” It has been used down through the ages in weddings, vows, ceremonies, and various other events.
Recently, I came across a “Christmas Version” of this popular passage of Scripture from a friend of mine that I thought would be fun to share with you. I hope that you will enjoy it and inspire you to remember the real reason for the season (and hopefully, every day of your life).
1 Corinthians 13 (A Christmas Version)
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I am just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I am just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing I the choir’s cantata, but do not focus on those that I love the most, I have missed the point.
…In other words,
Love stops the cooking to hug a child
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, and golf clubs will rust.
But the gift of love will endure.
In case you would like to know what 1 Corinthians 13 says in Scriptures, here it is (the small numbers are the verses in the chapter) …
1 Corinthians 13
1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [a]to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
12 For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the [f]greatest of these is love.