Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011-01 - What will you take…?

"Time, faith and the love of my family and friends," he said. How wonderful. Somehow, from the moment we met, I knew we would connect. His response was perfect. His answer was mine.
It is that time of year when we reflect back on accomplishments and failures. It is a wrapping up and an unfolding all in one. The sentimental fool that I am keeps me deep in thought filling my days with mood swings easily compared to riding a roller coaster. Oddly, I love those ups and yes, even the downs. The happy thoughts remind me that life is good. The sad thoughts remind me that life is fragile. In the end I hope for more happy than sad, but still come out on top when the ball officially drops on New Year’s Eve, if I can at least find balance.
You may think this strange, too, when I say some of my best years turned out to be the years when I struggled, lost, failed and retreated into the darkness of that final night of the old year.
Job loss, car repossession, debt, divorce, a failed business, cancer in my family, death of loved ones, depression, all made life nearly unbearable. Still, the light of the new day, the new year, always seemed to be brighter than any other.
It was in falling down that I learned how to climb.
It was in losing that I learned how to win.
It was in struggling that I found strength.
It was in darkness that I learned to see again.
So, why was this man's response to me so perfect? This man had just lost his business. This man was struggling with finances, self-image, and hope. He was standing on the edge of a dismal past and desperately trying to see the possibilities in his future. Instead of dismissing everything as failure he chose to acknowledge the most important parts.
I asked him, "If you could take something with you into the new year, what would it be?"
"Time, faith, the love of my family and friends," he said. "If I have time I can begin again. I can build again. I can start over. If I have faith, I know I cannot fail. If I have the love of my family and friends, I have purpose."
~ Bob Perks

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"Reflect upon your present blessings - of which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes - of which all men have some."
~ Author Unknown
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010-52- And He shall sustain thee…

I was driving home from a meeting this evening about 5, stuck in traffic on Colorado Blvd., and the car started to choke and splutter and die. I barely managed to coast, cursing, into a gas station, glad only that I would not be blocking traffic and would have a somewhat warm spot to wait for the tow truck.
Before I could make the call, I saw a woman walking out of the quickie mart building, and it looked like she slipped on some ice and fell into a gas pump, so I got out to see if she was okay When I got there, it looked more like she had been overcome by sobs than that she had fallen; she was a young woman who looked really haggard with dark circles under her eyes. She dropped something as I helped her up, and I picked it up to give it to her. It was a nickel.
At that moment, everything came into focus for me: the crying woman, the ancient Suburban crammed full of stuff with 3 kids in the back (1 in a car seat), and the gas pump reading $4.95.
I asked her if she was okay and if she needed help, and she just kept saying 'I don't want my kids to see me crying!', so we stood on the other side of the pump from her car. She said she was driving to California and that things were very hard for her right now. So I asked, 'And you were praying?' That made her back away from me a little, but I assured her I was not a crazy person and said, 'He heard you, and He sent me.'
I took out my card and swiped it through the card reader on the pump so she could fill up her car completely, and while it was fuelling, walked to the next door McDonald's and bought 2 big bags of food, some gift certificates for more, and a big cup of coffee. She gave the food to the kids in the car, who attacked it like wolves, and we stood by the pump eating fries and talking a little.
She told me her name, and that she lived in Kansas City. Her boyfriend left 2 months ago and she had not been able to make ends meet. She knew she wouldn't have money to pay the rent on Jan 1st, and finally, in desperation, had called her parents, with whom she had not spoken in about 5 years. They lived in California and said she could come live with them and try to get on her feet there. So she packed up everything she owned in the car. She told the kids they were going to California for Christmas, but not that they were going to live there.
I gave her my gloves, a little hug and said a quick prayer with her for safety on the road. As I was walking over to my car, she said, 'So, are you like an angel or something?'
This definitely made me cry. I said, 'Sweetie, at this time of year angels are really busy, so sometimes God uses regular people.'
It was so incredible to be a part of someone else's miracle. And of course, you guessed it, when I got in my car it started right away and got me home with no problem. I'll put it in the shop tomorrow to check, but I suspect the mechanic won't find anything wrong.
Sometimes the angels fly so close enough to you that you can hear the flutter of their wings...
~ Author Unknown

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"…we can feel the real joy of giving when we're doing something for others knowing that we're simply doing it for ourselves - we're doing it for our own joy."
~ Author Unknown
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010-51 - Wild Flowers…

Each spring brings a new blossom of wildflowers in the ditches along the highway I travel daily to work.
There is one particular blue flower that has always caught my eye. I've noticed that it blooms only in the morning hours, the afternoon sun is too warm for it. Every day for approximately two weeks, I see those beautiful flowers.
This spring, I started a wildflower garden in our yard. I can look out of the kitchen window while doing the dishes and see the flowers. I've often thought that those lovely blue flowers from the ditch would look great in that bed alongside other wildflowers. Every day I drove past the flowers thinking, "I'll stop on my way home and dig them." Gee, I don't want to get my good clothes dirty..." Whatever the reason, I never stopped to dig them.
One day on my way home from work, I was saddened to see that the highway department had mowed the ditches and the pretty blue flowers were gone. I thought to myself, "Way to go, you waited too long. You should have done it when you first saw them blooming this spring.
"A week ago we were shocked and saddened to learn that my oldest sister-in-law has a terminal brain tumor. She is 20 years older than my husband and unfortunately, because of age and distance, we haven't been as close as we all would have liked. I couldn't help but see the connection between the pretty blue flowers and the relationship between my husband's sister and us. I do believe that God has given us some time left to plant some wonderful memories that will bloom every year for us.
And yes, if I see the blue flowers again, you can bet I'll stop and transplant them to my wildflower garden.
Brenda Urbanek

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“There are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back”
~Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010-50 - Sandbox Rock…

A little boy was spending his Saturday morning playing in his sandbox. He had with him his box of cars and trucks, his plastic pail, and a shiny, red plastic shovel. In the process of creating roads and tunnels in the soft sand, he discovered a large rock in the middle of the sandbox. The lad dug around the rock, managing to dislodge it from the dirt. With no little bit of struggle, he pushed and nudged the rock across the sandbox by using his feet. (He was a very small boy and the rock was very large.)
When the boy got the rock to the edge of the sandbox, however, he found that he couldn't roll it up and over the little wall. Determined, the little boy shoved, pushed, and pried, but every time he thought he had made some progress, the rock tipped and then fell back into the sandbox. The little boy grunted, struggled, pushed, shoved -- but his only reward was to have the rock roll back, smashing his chubby fingers. Finally he burst into tears of frustration.
All this time the boy's father watched from his living room window as the drama unfolded. At the moment the tears fell, a large shadow moved across the boy and the sandbox. It was the boy's father. Gently but firmly he said, "Son, why didn't you use all the strength that you had available?"
Defeated, the boy sobbed back, "But I did, Daddy, I did! I used all the strength that I had!"
"No, son," corrected the father kindly. "You didn't use all the strength you had. You didn't ask me."
With that the father reached down, picked up the rock, and removed it from the sandbox.
~ Author Unknown

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"To solve any problem, here are three questions to ask yourself: First, what could I do? Second, what could I read? And third, who could I ask?"
~ Jim Rohn
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