Sunday’s Religious Musings

Sunday's Religious MusingsHere’s another fun read I received in my inbox earlier this month. The original author of these religious musings is unknown.

During these serious and troubled times, people of all faiths should remember these Four great truths:
1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God’s Chosen People.
2. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian world.
4. Baptists do not recognize each other at the liquor store.

A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan. She asked the class, “If you saw a person lying on the roadside, all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?” A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence, “I think I’d throw up.”

A Sunday school teacher asked, “Johnny, do you think Noah did a lot of fishing when he was on the Ark?”
“No,” replied Johnny. “How could he, with just two worms.”

A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible – Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters a month to learn the chapter. Little Rick was excited about the task – but he just couldn’t remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line. On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the congregation. Ricky was so nervous, when it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone and said proudly, “The Lord is my Shepherd, and that’s all I need to know.”

The preacher’s 5 year-old daughter noticed that her father always paused and bowed his head for a moment before starting his sermon. One day, she asked him why. “Well, Honey,” he began, proud that his daughter was so observant of his messages. “I’m asking the Lord to help me preach a good sermon.”
“How come He doesn’t answer it?” she asked.

A Rabbi said to a precocious six-year-old boy, “So your mother says your prayers for you each night? That’s very commendable. What does she say?” The little boy replied, “Thank God he’s in bed!”

When my daughter, Kelli, said her bedtime prayers, she would bless every family member, every friend, and every animal (current and past). For several weeks, after we had finished the nightly prayer, Kelli would say, “And all girls.”
This soon became part of her nightly routine, to include this closing. My curiosity got the best of me and I asked her, “Kelli, why do you always add the part about all girls?”
Her response, “Because everybody always finish their prayers by saying ‘All Men’!”

Little Johnny and his family were having Sunday dinner at his Grandmother’s house. Everyone was seated around the table as the food was being served. When Little Johnny received his plate, he started eating right away. “Johnny! Please wait until we say our prayer.” said his mother.
“I don’t need to,” the boy replied.
“Of course, you do” his mother insisted. “We always say a prayer before eating at our house.”
“That’s at our house.” Johnny explained. “But this is Grandma’s house and she knows how to cook.”

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The Haircut, A Sunday Piece of Inspiration

The Haircut, A Sunday Piece of InspirationThe following is another great Sunday read about The Haircut, however, the original author is not known. Enjoy!

Blessed are those that can give without remembering, and take without forgetting.

One day a florist went to a barber for a haircut. After the cut, he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, “I cannot accept money from you, I’m doing community service this week.” The florist was pleased and left the shop. When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a “thank you” card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill the barber again replied, “I cannot accept money from you, I’m doing community service this week.” The cop was happy and left the shop. The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a “thank you” card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Then a Congressman came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill, the barber again replied, “I can not accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.” The Congressman was very happy and left the shop. The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen Congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.

…and that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it.

As Ronald Reagan said, “Both politicians and diapers need to be changed often, and for the same reason!”

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A Teacher and the Missing School Desks

 A Teacher and the Missing School DesksThe original author is unknown:

In September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a History teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock, did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks in her classroom.

When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks. “Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?”

She replied, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.”

They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”

“No,” she said.

“Maybe it’s our behavior.” She told them, “No, it’s not even your behavior.”

And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom. Kids called their parents to tell them what was happening and by early afternoon television news crews had started gathering at the school to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the desk-less classroom. Martha Cothren said, “Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he or she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.”

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it. Twenty-seven (27) U.S. Veterans, all in uniform, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.

Martha said, “You didn’t earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. They went halfway around the world, giving up their education and interrupting their careers and families so you could have the freedom you have. Now, it’s up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don’t ever forget it.”

By the way, this is a true story. And this teacher was awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars Teacher of the Year for the State of Arkansas in 2006. She is the daughter of a WWII POW.

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The Car Thief Who Just Got out of Prison

The Car Thief Who Just Got out of PrisonA woman hurried to the pharmacy to get medication. When she returned to her car she found that she had locked her keys inside. The woman found an old rusty coat hanger left on the ground. She looked at it and said “I don’t know how to use this.”

She bowed her head and asked God to send her some help. Within five minutes a beat-up old motorcycle pulled up, driven by a bearded man who was wearing an old, weathered, “do-rag” with skulls on it. He got off of his bike and asked if he could help.

She said, “Yes, my daughter is sick. I’ve locked my keys in my car and I must get home. Please,” she pleaded, “Can you use this hanger to unlock my car?”

He said “Sure.” He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was open. She hugged the man and through tears said “Thank You so much! You are a very nice man.”

The man replied “Lady, I am NOT a nice man. I just got out of prison yesterday, I was in prison for car theft.”

The woman hugged the man again; she was still sobbing, “Oh, thank you, God!” She shouted to the sky, “You even sent me a Professional!”

The moral of the story? “When God sends you help, don’t ask questions.”

Original author is unknown.

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Time is here and now

Clouds constantly change their appearance as they move across the sky

“And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”

This famous line comes from a well-known Pink Floyd song titled TIME.

Even more than in the 1970s when PinkFloyd wrote these lyrics, people have forgotten that time, and living in the present, is a gift from God to enjoy and make it what you want.  We should all be grateful that we are alive, and are given the opportunity to make the world a better place.

The greatest enemy to living in the moment and making things work for you is pre-occupation with the past and the future, wasting time on scenarios that only happen in our mind and in fact never materialize and actually occur.

So many of us are boggled down by the bad things that have happened to us, and our mind set is that we remain a victim to those things that happened. But really, you are only a victim as long as you allow yourself to be, or even worse, as long as you make yourself one.

There are people who revel in being a victim, because that’s all they’ve ever known. They are comfortable in their habits, and they seem to have committed their lives to staying there as long as they live. Don’t be one of those people. Don’t be stuck milling over a painful world that you went through, and therefore have no future.

The other great enemy of your happiness is what can happen in the future. Some people live their lives dreaming of what might be that never comes. There are people who are living for the day they win that lottery, and every night they sit in front of the TV with great anticipation hoping that their numbers will come in, as their bills continue to mount. There is nothing wrong with playing the lottery, but meanwhile, getting a good job that will pay your bills is far more pragmatic.

Living is meant to be an active process, and if you don’t keep up with it, it will take the direction away from you. Living is growing, changing, circulating your vitals and finding new worlds while you change the old ones. Living is actively getting off your butt and participate into the mess, learning, moving, becoming a force in yourself instead of being taken over by it.  Sit in that miserable job for years and accept that comfortable paycheck and one day you realize that life has passed you by. Stay in that miserable marriage without doing something about it and one day you realize that life is passing you by. Time waits for no man, and as time goes by, you suddenly see that you have wasted what could have been active choices and abundant living.

You are only given your life once, and that’s why today is called “the present.” Take your present, unwrap it, and enjoy it.

There is only one way to overcome the inheritance of a bad past or the hopeless end of a future that never comes, and that is to live in the “Now”, to enjoy the present in all its glory. In fact, it is only by living in the present that you have any power to make your life and the lives of those around you better.

Living in the present gives you power to do something about your life and the lives of others around you. You can activate choice, and you can do it immediately. You can chose to motivate yourself, to move out into that ‘cruel’ world and make it better. If you need to get a better job, now is the time. If you need to love your kids, now is the time. If you need to get a better understanding of God and the Universe, now is the time. If you need to make amends with a friend or a loved one, now is the time. If you want to enjoy their company, now is the time. If that car needs fixing, now is the time. If you desire a better place to live, now is the time. If you wish to get out of that unhappy relationship, now is the time. You are not going to live forever. In fact, the only thing you know for sure is that you are going to die.

So start living!

What are you waiting for? To win the lottery? Are you waiting for your children to get nicer? Are you waiting for Prince Charming to magically appear on his horse and scoop you up and take you to his castle? Well, here is a truth; nothing is not going to happen until you make it happen.

So make it happen! Stop whatever it is you’re doing for a moment and listen to the wind singing in the leaves on the trees. See how the branches sway, how they enjoy the breeze, how they take in every moment without worry and enjoy their existence. Look at the clouds and see their glory. They revel in their existence as their shape changes in front of your eyes while moving across the sky. Listen to the people around you that are within earshot: Those are the people you need to interact with right now, those are the people who need your help! Help them. Stop the drama of your past and dreaming of the future. Get into the present and grab your time and don’t worry about what problems you might face in the future. Take the Power of Now and influence that future to be shaped and sculptured in your favor by the choices you make today, right now. The greatest power of the present is its ability to influence the future by the choices you make today. So decide what you want to do, what you need to do, prepare for it as best as you can and do it, NOW.

Success Comes with Perseverance and Skill

Success comes as you unveil your masterpiece

Success comes as you unveil your masterpiece

For success to happen it takes more than only perseverance and skill, you also need to have clarity, balance and energy.  This is what I often discuss with my competition athlete clients, such as clay shooting champion Wendell Cherry, paddle board champion Sean Poynter or any of my pro golf clientele. And this does not only apply to sports, it is equally evident in life in general.

In this article, I’d like to go a step further and describe the role of perseverance in achieving greater success as it helps your ability to achieve peak performance in life, and whatever aspect of life you choose to put your attention to.

To help illustrate the value of perseverance in achieving greater success, I would like to share the following quote from 19th century’s social reformer Jacob Riis with you.  It states:  “When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two and I know it was not that blow that did it-but all that had gone before.”

I chose this quote because so many times we focus so hard on our outcomes…looking at the end goal or destination, that we overlook all of the successes we have along the way.  We can become so goal oriented and focused on what the goal is, what life will look like when we get there, how we can visualize our life, revving ourselves up mentally and emotionally in order to get to that point where we are ready…to feel like we are focused, we know what we want and we are going to stop at nothing until we get it!!

The problem with that is, since we are so focused on achieving our long-range goals, we often end up missing out on opportunities right in front of us.  We end up not seeing the smaller successes and their opportunities, because our vision is so set on where we want to end up, that we do not see what is right here in front of us.  We then tend to get frustrated or not see progress, as it usually takes time to achieve success.  Or, we only look for progress that looks the way we want it to; meaning, we define and visualize sub-goals in order to reach the larger ones and if they don’t look the way we want, we don’t see our progress!

Riis’s quote really addresses perseverance as a way to achieve peak performance.  Being steady or persistent; having a course of action or a purpose and in spite of all kinds of obstacles, challenges, discouragements or difficulties, you stay steady on pace…committed to the journey you are on.  In theology, I like how they bring in grace as a part of this.  The ability to be in a state of grace from beginning to end; being able to put your mind to something and have goals, desires and wonderful ideas for your life, but to come back and take action and commit yourself to the process with a state of grace…not with frustration, discouragement or set definitions of exactly how success should look.

It is when your ego get involved that you say:  “this is exactly when this should happen and if it doesn’t happen like this, at this time, or look like this, then I am going to get frustrated and discouraged and think that things are not going the way they should.” If you do that, you might feel like you are not making any progress and you may want to give up on your goals altogether.  Instead, with grace, you are capable of realizing that you are making progress, and progress is success.

Of course, you will see a lot less progress if you sit in your recliner watching TV all day.  You can have all the goals you want, visualize things and have all these ideas of how you would like outcomes to be; but if you just sit like that all day with very little action on your part to participate in the creation of what you want, then you won’t see progress to keep you energized in pursuing your goals.

Putting that aside, let’s say you are taking action, making phone calls and stepping out, filling out applications and going on interviews, having regular get-togethers or events that are part of your business plan.  Then it is just like that stone cutter hammering away at his rock.  It may be the 101st blow when you finally see all of your hard work coming together…all of what you have been focused and working on, resulting in some great achievement.  The point is that success does not come by thinking about achieving it alone. You must take consistent action if you are going to succeed.

So as you work towards your goal, keep in mind that you cannot chisel out a beautiful sculpture with just one whack of your hammer.  You also cannot chisel it out by hacking away at it and being crazy with your hammer.  You have to do a little at a time; have a vision, have a goal and come back to take the steps and see the progress of each success along the way.  So in that, you will be able to slowly, gradually, with perseverance, diligence, and focus, make the kind of progress to have a really beautiful outcome – achieve peak performance.

It is the Journey towards the destination

Now think about being that stone cutter, and maybe how you just want to get the job done…you really want the outcome and are focused solely on that as a measure of your success.  You want it to come out and you get frustrated as you chip it wrong, or something doesn’t work out the way you want, or it is taking too long.  Obviously, stone cutters know better than that.  But here you are in life, doing that with your own dreams, goals and desires.  People do that every single day.  Every day, they get frustrated when things don’t go the way they hoped or it looks like their hard work is not paying off.  When outcomes are not exactly as people want them to be, they do not see success in what they have accomplished.  They fail to realize that peak life performance does not just come from reaching a goal…it is the journey and all the work they put into reaching that goal that creates success.

Rather than being gentle on ourselves or realizing success comes with one hit of that hammer at a time; and sometimes one hit could change the whole plan because what we thought was going to be the shoulder, might have to be something else if we whacked a little too hard and a bigger chunk came off then we wanted.   So now we have to recreate our plans and vision, but that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean we have to destroy the whole piece.  It means recreating our vision.  We don’t have to get upset about that.

There are always obstacles along the way to achieving greater success.  You will face challenges, but it does not have to mean the end of your goal or dream, or that everything is over.  It could mean that you will evolve, accept and mold yourself with life and circumstances and still have your goals, dreams and desires, but be in reality at the same time.  You could redefine success as you hit each obstacle and figure out how to persevere in spite of it.  Perseverance is so important to achieving peak performance.

Success is a matter of not giving up.

That is persevering; of knowing that each little step along the way is building to the end result, and it’s with each success that your goal is achieved.  Then when you reach one goal, you can decide what else you want to pursue after that – you never really reach ‘the end’.   You want to pat yourself on the back, give yourself credit for what you have done, and see the progress you have made already.  Know that success does not have to look exactly how you think it should look, and that’s okay as long as you are taking action.

How do you really achieve peak performance?

As long as you have really good clarity, put energy forth into your goals and desires (that you are clear on), and take action to move forward in spite of obstacles that arise along the way, you will achieve successes that propel you toward your best possible performance.  You will start to see the evolution of the beautiful desires you are creating, the beautiful sculpture of your dreams, if you keep taking one step, one hit of that hammer, without giving up as challenges present themselves.  Your successes come as you work around those challenges.

But have that clarity and vision first, like that sculpture for the stone cutter; and find the right level of emotional balance, so you avoid an emotional roller coaster if things don’t happen like you thought they should, or in the time you envisioned them to happen.  Have balance and take breaks from your work to rejuvenate your batteries and have energy.  Take care of yourself and other areas of your life so you don’t feel guilty, like you might be neglecting yourself or others.  You want to have really good energy when it is time to focus on achieving greater success with your goals, and you need to maintain balance in order to do that.

As you are striving to be successful and reach your goals, be totally in the process and enjoy the moments, knowing that every step creates your peak performance and leads to the greater picture of success in your life.  Never become discouraged or think your steps are small or insignificant, as you work towards greater success.  Remember what Jacob Riis said: “When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it-but all that had gone before.”

What peacefulness and grace that brings, to help you enjoy the journey.  Have your destination in mind and just enjoy the journey.  Steady persistence, perseverance in your course of action and purpose, your state of mind…especially in spite of obstacles, difficulties or anything that would be challenging or discouraging…that is what creates peak life performance and will bring you the greatest success.  If you cannot enjoy the journey, what’s the point?

I hope this helps to get you into a healthy state of mind and being, where you can really enjoy your life to the fullest on your road to achieving greater success.  If you need any help with this or other similar topics, please contact me.  If you strive for goals in line with your clarity of purpose, life balance and personal energy, you can have greater success and achieve peak performance in your life – so long as you persevere.
Thanks for reading, and have an amazing day!

Take a Break and Meet Your Publisher

Albrecht Durer's Magic Square counts 34

Anyway you go it adds up to does 2014

As most of us, I am too busy to take time to meet people. In fact, I am just too busy.  I have not taken time to give myself the glory of the day, or the blessings around me on a regular basis, or the appreciation of many who have taken time to care for me and be grateful for my presence in their lives.  That’s why last Friday was particularly unusual, although when I had awoken to carry out my committed duties, I did not think so.

Feed the pets, clear my desk of odds and ends paper-wise, and then teach a college class.  Finished at noon, I was then off to the Northern part of the state, unknown in my travels because I haven’t traveled much since my own near-fatal auto accident five years ago, and meet with a man who had willingly accepted my articles on his blogsite, writing being a passion I have been able to maintain after my crash.  I love to write, so my interest in a publisher who had welcomed me to his area of influence had been peaked by kind correspondence and even a couple of kind notes from readers who had picked up my articles on this website.  So I arranged to force myself to take the long drive and meet Han or Johan.

His presence didn’t disappoint me.  He was a large man with a pleasant smile and an anticipation of comfort and the breaking of bread accompanied by an open and comforting conversation as to who we were and how our paths had brought us together at this point.  Sometimes it is difficult, even discomforting to try to get to know someone, especially when you are brought to a point where you can’t say it yet not to appear rude, but you wish you could get out of there, back in your own car, and then to the comfort of your toys and distractions, away from these people you don’t really know or like.

But Han was not like that: He was genuinely glad to see me, and though we had never met, we had already known each other for years, as would rapidly become clear as we shared our “war” stories, one by one, many of which would come as we share the years together that were before us. (Avant Vue anyone??) We knew each other, and we had been there, and though our stories might differ in detail and action, their principal lessons and dealings with people were all the same.  And we would laugh together as we agreed on the same conclusions that we knew were coming from whatever stories we would tell; that anonymous person we had to eliminate from their position; or that person we would have to elevate because of their proper attitude; or that person that we would work with and prep to take a position of supervision.  Our stories were different, but there was an emotional union in our commonality.  And we enjoyed each other’s fellowship as we laughed and even cried together, not outwardly, but in our hearts.  And we had found a brother in action through the spinning of our lives.

If you were to ask me the best part of meeting Han, I would say the commonality of general experiences.  Indeed, each of us is unique, but some of us wear our uniqueness as a badge of honor, and pretend we have been where no man has gone before.  Well, Han has, but he doesn’t display the badge, he wears it in his heart.  He has traveled the world, literally sailed the seas, flown planes, fought for our freedom and built companies.  He has worked with all types of people, and where he has seen a need, he has worked at building where others tear down.   He believes in fairness, proper development, a good drink and a good joke shared with equal happiness to all present, regardless of background, belief, upbringing, gender or race.  He knows how to tell a good story, and he knows one when he hears or reads it.  He has a great time sharing, and a great time listening.  He doesn’t want to waste his time with a poor story, but he always has time for a good one, regardless of what he is doing, whether it be funny, sad, inspirational or factual.

I don’t know what you are doing or how busy you are, but I can guarantee that you will do yourself a favor if you take a break and travel to Han, and spend some time with him, listening to wherever his conversation will take you.
I promise it will be a delightful trip away from home for a few hours in his presence.  It was for me.

Saying Goodbye to Jim Wallace and Stephen Covey

Founder of The Travel Agencies dies after year long fight with cancer

Rest in Peace Jim Wallace, your community is grateful for your inspiration

Some weeks are just harder than others as we say goodbye to people who made a difference in this world because of the force of nature they were in life.

Last Monday I received message that Stephen Covey had unexpectedly passed away at age 79 from complications after a bicycle accident and this afternoon I received word that Jim Wallace, founder of the Travel Agency here on Amelia Island had passed on after a year long illness.

I had met Covey on several occasions during my early publishing days in NYC and as I phased out my corporate existence by moving to the Caribbean Islands, Stephen Covey became world famous as the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” in 1989;

Jim Wallace whom I met through my Internet work for the  Travel Agency, thought it was dangerously wrong ” to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Stephen Covey insisted we focus on our character, values, conduct, respect for others, to operate with unflinching integrity. He inspired us to have the courage to be extraordinary – not just of ourself, but in our ability to grow, develop, improve and enrich and seed greatness into countless others. He also urged us to have patience.

Jim Wallace made the very astute observation that often “The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of ignorance.” He was honest to a fault and his business acumen was confirmed in the mantra “Take care of the client and your staff and the bottom line will take care of itself.” He started The Travel Agency in 1974 when most of the people in Fernandina thought they needed a passport to cross the bridge (so to speak)

Stephen Covey would have been proud of Jim Wallace, if their paths had ever crossed.

We lost two forces of human nature this week that inspired us to do better, to be decent and to be proactive. I’m sad yet proud that both men have in one way or another contributed to my life and made a better world.

Rest in Peace and thanks for all your inspiration.

The Blue Rose Reminds of What is Important

The Blue Rose Reminds of What is Important

Image found at

This story about a blue rose comes from my 91 year old grandmother and reminds us that our actions have a greater impact than we sometimes realize. The original author is unknown.

Having four visiting family members, my wife was very busy, so I offered to go to the store for her to get some needed items, which included light bulbs, paper towels, trash bags, detergent and Clorox.

I scurried around the store, gathered up my goodies and headed for the checkout counter, only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a young man who appeared to be about sixteen-years-old. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I was there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and declared in a loud voice, “Mommy, I’m over here.”

It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged and also startled as he turned and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened and surprise exploded on his face as I said, “Hey Buddy, what’s your name?”

“My name is Denny and I’m shopping with my mother,” he responded proudly.

“Wow,” I said, “that’s a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but my name is Steve.”

“Steve, like Stevarino?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “How old are you Denny?”

“How old am I now, Mommy?” he asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle.

“You’re fifteen-years-old Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by.”

I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes about summer, bicycles and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with excitement, because he was the center of someone’s attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy section.

Denny’s mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time to talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn’t even look at him, much less talk to him.

I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I have no idea where it came from, other than by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I told her that there are plenty of red, yellow, and pink roses in God’s Garden; however, “Blue Roses” are very rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness. You see, Denny is a Blue Rose and if someone doesn’t stop and smell that rose with their heart and touch that rose with their kindness, then they’ve missed a blessing from God.

She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she asked, “Who are you?”

Without thinking I said, “Oh, I’m probably just a dandelion, but I sure love living in God’s garden.”

She reached out, squeezed my hand and said, “God bless you!” and then I had tears in my eyes.

May I suggest, the next time you see a BLUE ROSE, don’t turn your head and walk off. Take the time to smile and say Hello. Why? Because, by the grace of GOD, this mother or father could be you. This could be your child, grandchild, niece or nephew. What a difference a moment can mean to that person or their family.

From an old dandelion!

Sunday Sentiments About a Dog

A Dog's IntuitionThis Sunday’s sentimental story is about a very special dog, who had a very special personality. My mother always told me that cats and dogs have instincts beyond humans as this story (sent to us by my mom) illustrates.

The original author is unknown.

“Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named Lucky. Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.

Mary or Jim would go to Lucky’s toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky’s other favorite toys. Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease… in fact; she was just sure it was fatal.

She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her… what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary’s dog through and through.

If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won’t understand that I didn’t want to leave him! The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn’t even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap.

Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn’t come to her when she called. It made Mary sad but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed. When Mary woke for a second she couldn’t understand what was wrong. She couldn’t move her head and her body felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned!

While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life.

He had covered her with his love.

Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It’s been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free. Lucky, he still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.

Remember, live every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing from God. And never forget, the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.”

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Everything Happens for a Reason

Deb Cottle

Deb Cottle

Deb Cottle, motivational speaker and author, truly believes that everything happens for a reason. A champion of charity, she knows that when we help others we often find our own gifts. She shared with me a story about her recent trip to the airport:

“Although I did get lost on the way to the airport leaving from the south end of the island, Granny Jean JUST made her flight in time! But, after dropping Jean at the curb, I was worried that if she didn’t make her flight, she would need me to come back and pick her up. So, I decided to go to the Clarion Hotel and sit for awhile and sip some coffee and wait.

There was only one other person in the little cafe. An older black gentleman, who told me a sad story. His house caught fire the night before, and the insurance company put him up at this hotel for two nights while he found another place to live. He was pretty rattled, and had trouble understanding his insurance policy that he had with him.

Immediately, I jumped up and got him a cup of coffee and spent the next half hour helping him with his insurance policy and then confirming WHAT he needed to do next, and WHERE he needed to go. He was VERY grateful, and it was MY good deed of the day. And off he went!

If I hadn’t gotten lost, and wasn’t at the coffee shop to wait until Jean’s plane took off, that man probably wouldn’t have received the support he needed in his time of need.

So, everything does happen for a reason. The goal is to look at opportunities in which we can help others and not focus on the negative experiences or situations in our own lives. Someone always has it worse than us!”

Amelia Island resident, Deb Cottle is founder & president of World On A String, a company focused on enhancing people’s lives through inspirational seminars, workshops, coaching, products and professional speaking.

The Pencil Parable

The Pencil Parable

The Pencil Parable

Artist Jennifer Maestre holds a long list of accolades and accomplishments with her unusual beading work. She is a graduate of Welsley College and holds a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art. Jennifer has been teaching her offloom techniques for many years.

The Pencil Parable

A pencil maker advised the pencil of five important lessons just before putting it in the box:

    1. Everything you do will always leave a mark.
    2. You can always correct the mistakes you make.
    3. What is important is what is inside of you.
    4. In life, you will undergo painful sharpenings, which will only make you better.
    5. To be the best pencil, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the hand that holds you.

We all need to be constantly sharpened. This parable may encourage you to know that you are a special person, with unique God-given talents and abilities. Only you can fulfill the purpose which you were born to accomplish. Never allow yourself to get discouraged and think that your life is insignificant and cannot be changed and, like the pencil, always remember that the most important part of who you are, is what’s inside of you.

Author Unknown

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Patience is a Virtue

Patience is a Virtue

Patience is a Virtue

Proverbs 16:32, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”

Patience is often thought of as a virtue, referred to in religion or spiritual practices by lessons. It could be the story of Job in the Christian or Hebrew Bibles, here Job endures the earthly struggles of evil and good, and patience is the lesson learned. The Talmud displays patience more as a trait as told as the character, Micah, suffers many challenges while patiently waiting on God to save him. Islam teaches to learn patience and struggle through the tough times, rather than ignoring them. The Koran notes that, “No one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but the persons of the greatest good fortune.” (41:35)

So, just how does one learn patience? How do you respond to the things that make you boil up inside with anger? Is there a better way? Theologically speaking, patience is one of the seven virtues, right up there with kindness, humility and the other four virtues to overcome the seven deadly sins. Patience overcomes “wrath” when we learn to resolve conflicts peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence.

How do we keep from personally wanting to hand out our own “Code of Hammurabi” justice to the person who cuts us off in traffic?

While acting upon your anger may bring you a bit of instant relief, it could cost you much more in physical, emotional or financial grief in the long run. Be patient and remind yourself that no reaction is worth the satisfaction if it brings you more strife!

Often, things are not what they seem. You may think someone has wronged you, when in truth you were the farthest thing from their mind. Be patient and aware that sometimes… it is not about you!

Have faith in yourself. You do not need to get even and seek revenge for every injustice done to you. Try to focus on the peace of mind and the comfort your heart will receive for your patience.

Patience could be practiced a bit more by us all.

“Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
Ecclesiastes 7:9

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages

By: Kimberly Reeves-Turner

My Grandma was born on April 15, 1914. She was from a different era than myself. Just being in her presence brought a peace in my life. She taught me by just living her life. She had very little, but gave so much of herself to others, her time, talent and love. She worked with her hands by cooking and sewing but it came form her heart and you could feel it. She was a rock in our family, a firm foundation, a place and person to call home.

She lived through the depression and learned how to make do with little. She came from a family of 13 children. Her parents taught her values, morals and work ethic. I sat and listened to her stories. I could’nt even imagine going without like she did, working so hard at a young age and having so much responsibility. She told stories of having only one or two outfits to her name, feeding a family with just the bare minimum, walking to school miles away, working in factories during the depression, the pains of childbirth at home, and many more life enduring stories. It came from her treasure of memories, from her heart, it was all of those moments that made her who she was. She was a christian woman, she wasn’t perfect but she was the best woman I have ever met. I watched my Grandma grieve the loss of two of her sons, I can’t imagine that pain. She never said bad things about people. When I was angry or hurt I could talk to her and she would just listen, without judgment or condemnation.

She gave from the heart, she knew the true values in life. She worked in the garden, she loved her plants and trees, She made quilts by hand, she cooked for her family and loved to feed people. She taught me patience, kindness and love. She told me when I was a little girl “when the devil tempts you to do something bad, you tell him, ‘get behind me Satan!'” I still remember that. My Mother loved me and cared for me, but there is something special about a Grandma’s love, it is so unconditional. I think because they have lived their life, they don’t sweat the small stuff and they learn to cherish every moment with those that you love because time goes by so fast. I wrote this in memory of my Grandma, but I know there are many that will read this that can relate to whom ever influenced their life.

We should take time to thank God for placing those individuals in our lives, the ones that have made such an impact on who we are today. It was through their hardships and life experiences that they were able to pour into our lives. My Grandma passed away two and a half years ago but I still miss her. I know she lives on through me due to the investment she made in my life, she helped create the woman I am today. Remember you also may be that rock in someone else’s life. We impact those around us every day and dont even realize it. Some people wonder their whole life what their purpose is and feel they have no significance. My Grandma was never famous but she was very significant. You may not be anything to the world but you may be the world to one person!

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent for many Western Christians, here is a brief description: Traditionally, ashes are placed on the forehead of the faithful in the shape of a cross. This ancient custom has been adopted by Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, some Methodists, Episcopalian, Lutheran and other religions. The ashes are from the burning of the Palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday activities. The practice is to remind one of the necessity to change their lives and feel remorseful for their sins.

Lint is a form of cleansing, or discipline that is carried out for about 40 days. Different foods and activities are sacrificed or avoided during the season of lint such as alcohol or red meat. Many give up their Facebook and MySpace activities, some commit to reading the bible every day, while others choose to give up sweets, which is why the Easter Bunny brings a basket of candy to many children at the end of Lent.

Genesis 3:19: “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

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