The Carpenter’s House . . .

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The Carpenter’s House
Author Unknown

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family.

He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by. The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.”

What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built. If we had realized that we would have done it differently.

Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity. The plaque on the wall says, “Life is a do-it-yourself project.” Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today.

Consider this: Build wisely today!

Who Rekindles Your Light?…

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Who Rekindles Your Light?

An insightful woman, who had lived through numerous dark nights and days, once taught me about getting through difficult times. “I appreciate your outlook on life,” I commented to Mrs. Tucker. I was in my twenties and she was fifty years older. In the short time I knew her she became a significant teacher for me. I learned from her remarkable attitude and her unshakeable strength of character, both of which undoubtedly buoyed her through treacherous waters.

“Well, I have been through a lot of tough times,” she told me. “In fact, sometimes it was awfully hard for me and my husband. He couldn’t always find work. Some days he would come home horribly depressed and say, ‘Things are so bad I don’t know if I can take it.’ And I would say to him, ‘Well, you know, things could be worse.’ And once he said, ‘I’ve heard that so many times I think I’m gonna die!’ I was hurt…but I just hated to see him so depressed. I didn’t know what to say. Later he confessed that if I would have wept in despair, he wouldn’t have been able to make it. He needed me during those times.”

It occurs to me that HOW she responded to her husband’s pain was probably not as important as the simple fact that she was there and cared. He knew he could always count on her to be a ray of light in his darkness and a strong hand to lift him when he stumbled or to soothe his hurts. He needed her…and for similar reasons, she needed him, too.

Albert Schweitzer said so well, “Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.” During those difficult times they rekindled one another’s light.

Who rekindles your light? Who blows your light into flame when it threatens to flicker out? Sometimes this person is a relative, sometimes a teacher, or a pastor, or a close friend. I’ve learned that if I need the light of my spirit rekindled during a bleak time, there are a few special people who can do it.

I admire some people for their brilliance and I respect others for their strength. But I am indebted to those who can rekindle my spirit. I hope I can be such a person for others.

By Steve Goodier http://www.LifeSupportSystem.com

Consider this: Who rekindles your light?

The Given Light . . .

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The Given Light
Barbara Hug

Once upon a time a man had heard, that in a foreign place, far away, there was a holy flame burning. So he got up and left his home to find the holy flame and bring some of its light back home to his house. He thought: ‘When I have this light, then I will have happiness and life and all the people I love will have it too.’

He travelled far, far away and finally found the holy flame, with which he lit his light. On his way back he had only one worry: ‘That his light could go out.’

On his way home he met someone who was freezing and didn’t have any fire and who begged him to give him some of his fire. The man with the light hesitated for a moment. Wasn’t his light too precious, too holy to be given away for something ordinary like that? Despite these doubts, he decided to give some of his light to the one who was freezing in the darkness.

The man continued his journey home and when he had almost reached his house a terrible thunderstorm started. He tried to protect his light from the rain and the storm, but at the end his light went out.

To return the long way back to the place where the holy flame was burning was impossible, he wouldn’t have had enough strength to go back this far – but he was strong enough to return to the human being whom he had helped on his way home.

………and with his light he could light his own again.

Consider this: Are you sharing your light with others?

Not Just A Pipe Dream . . .

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Not Just A Pipe Dream

Are your dreams and beautiful ideas just pipe dreams?

According to Webb Garrison in his book Why You Say It (Rutledge Hill Press, 1992), the term “pipe dream” has its origins in the 19th century. The drug opium was imported into Europe from Asia and was widely used in certain literary circles in Britain. Opium was smoked in a pipe and, once under the influence, people had hallucinations that were referred to as pipe dreams. So today, an unrealistic or impractical idea may be quickly discounted as a pipe dream.

But not all seemingly impossible or far-fetched ideas are merely pipe dreams. A case in point is the dream millionaire Eugene Lang gave to high school students in the impoverished neighborhood in which he was raised. Addressing a class of eighth-graders in the South Bronx, Lang threw away his prepared speech. The empty eyes of the students in attendance told him they were not interested in his “motivational” talk. Their neighborhood had become a battlefield of poverty, drugs and gangs, and a breeding ground of despair. About 80% of them would not complete high school. Few would ever leave the neighborhood. Fewer still would climb out of poverty. That is why Mr. Lang tossed aside his speech. The students didn’t need a speech; they needed a dream.

Then, the words that came from Eugene Lang’s mouth may have even astonished him! “If you graduate from high school,” he told the youth, “I will send you to college.” Send you to college!

For the next four years he worked with the school and kept the dream alive. And the results were phenomenal: all but two of the 60 teenagers finished high school! True to his word, he sent them to college. “He gave us hope,” one student said, no doubt speaking for the majority. Another one of the students, upon meeting Lang later, said to him, “Mr. Lang, we did the impossible.”

Writer Sarah Ban Breathnach says, “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” Because not every seemingly unrealistic idea is a pipe dream. When that beautiful dream is combined with hard work and great expectation, then the impossible can be achieved. For when you and I believe enough in a magnificent dream, most anything can happen.

Steve Goodier

http://www.LifeSupportSystem.com

Consider this: What dream are you making possible?

Reading More and Dusting Less . . .

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Reading More and Dusting Less
Ann Wells

I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time working. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.

I’m not ‘saving’ anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the first Amaryllis blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries. I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties, but wearing it for clerks in the hardware store and tellers at the bank. ‘Someday’ and ‘one of these days’ are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.

I’m not sure what others would’ve done had they known they wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted. I think they would have called family members and a few close friends. They might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think they would have gone out for a Chinese dinner or for whatever their favorite food was. I’m guessing; I’ll never know.

It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew my hours were limited. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and parents often enough how much I truly love them. I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives.

And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God.

Consider this: Today is a gift, unwrap it.

12 Short stories to inspire you to action . . .

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These 12 short stories are all very good lessons that make you think twice about the daily happenings in our lives as interact with others.

1. Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class. When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said, “Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.”

2. Today, I asked my mentor – a very successful business man in his 70s – what his top 3 tips are for success. He smiled and said, “Read something no one else is reading, think something no one else is thinking, and do something no one else is doing.”

3. Today, after my 72 hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug. When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her. She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said, “On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”

4. Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying. And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face.

5. Today at 7AM, I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the money, so I went into work. At 3PM I got laid off. On my drive home I got a flat tire. When I went into the trunk for the spare, it was flat too. A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted, and then he offered me a job. I start tomorrow.

6. Today, as my father, three brothers, and two sisters stood around my mother’s hospital bed, my mother uttered her last coherent words before she died. She simply said, “I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often.”

7. Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a small hospital bed. About 5 seconds after he passed, I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy.

8. Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling. I chuckled and asked, “Why?” She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.” I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?” Because that’s where I keep all my stuff,” she said.

9. Today, when I witnessed a 27-year-old breast cancer patient laughing hysterically at her 2-year-old daughter’s antics, I suddenly realized that I need to stop complaining about my life and start celebrating it again.

10. Today, a boy in a wheelchair saw me desperately struggling on crutches with my broken leg and offered to carry my backpack and books for me. He helped me all the way across campus to my class and as he was leaving he said, “I hope you feel better soon.”

11. Today, I was feeling down because the results of a biopsy came back malignant. When I got home, I opened an e-mail that said, “Thinking of you today. If you need me, I’m a phone call away.” It was from a high school friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years.

12. Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe . He said he hadn’t eaten anything in over 3 days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy. Then my friend offered him the rest of the sandwich he was eating. The first thing the man said was, “We can share it.

Consider this: The best sermons are lived, not preached. Which one do you need to live today?

Good People . . .

Monday Morning Inspiration

Good People
A Yiddish Folk Tale

An old man sat outside the walls of a great city. When travelers approached, they would ask the old man, “What kind of people live in this city?” The old man would answer, “What kind of people live in the place where you came from?”

If the travelers answered, “Only bad people live in the place where we came from,” the old man would reply, “Continue on; you will find only bad people here.”

But if the travelers answered, “Good people live in the place where we came from,” then the old man would say, “Enter, for here too, you will find only good people.”

Consider this: What kind of people live in your city?

Your inner voice . . .

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Your Inner Voice
Bob Eilers

My day started just like all the other days for the past 15 years where I get up, make some coffee, shower, get dressed and leave for the train station at preciously 7:35 A.M. to arrive at work by 8:30. While on the train I would always choose a seat away from the crowd so I can read the newspaper in peace and quiet. At work I am always being bombarded with questions from coworkers, suppliers, telephone and then those dreaded meetings so the last thing I need is some stranger to sit beside me and make small talk.

I don’t know why but for some reason when I got on the train today it was unusually full, something I don’t recall ever happening in the past. With hesitation I sat down in the only seat available beside a middle aged man that had his head down and seemed to be lost in his thoughts. I was glad that he didn’t notice when I sat next to him as he just continued to look down towards the floor.

Shortly after the train left for my 30 minute ride downtown I found myself wondering what this man was thinking about. What could be so important that he didn’t even see me sit next to him? I tried to forget about it and started to read my paper. However, for some strange reason this “inner voice” kept prompting me to talk to this man. I tried to ignore the “voice” as there was no way I was starting a conversation with a complete stranger.

As you probably guessed I eventually broke down and came up with an excuse to ask him a question. When he raised his head and turned his eyes towards me I could see that he must have been really upset as he had red eyes and still had some tears rolling down the side of his face despite his feeble attempt to wipe them away. I can’t describe the sadness I felt seeing someone in so much pain.

We talked for about 20 minutes and in the end he seemed to be doing better. As we were leaving the train he thanked me profusely for being an angel by taking the time to talk. I never did find out what was making his heart so heavy with pain but was glad I listened to the “voice” that day.

Several weeks had passed when I noticed an envelope on my desk after returning from lunch. It was not addressed to anyone and only had the word “Angel” written on it. My receptionist attached a note saying a gentleman dropped it off saying he did not know my name but had described me well enough that the receptionist knew it was for me. When I read the note inside the envelope I was so filled with emotions that I couldn’t contain myself. It was a letter from the man I met on the train thanking me again for talking to him and saving his life that day.

Apparently he had some very hurtful personal problems that were so overwhelming he was planning to take his life that day. In his letter he went on to explain that he was a religious person and in desperation screamed out to God that if God really cared about him he would send someone to prevent him from taking his life. In his eyes I was that someone, that Angel sent by God.

Not being a religious person myself I don’t know what that “voice” was that made me take a chance and talk to a stranger but I do know that it made a difference in someone’s life that day. So the next time you feel prompted for no apparent reason to talk to a friend, relative, neighbor or even a complete stranger please remember my story. You just may make a difference in someone’s life when you listen to your inner voice.

Consider this: What is your “inner voice” saying to you today?

The Cracked Pot . . .

The Cracked Pot
Author Unknown

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots was perfectly made and never leaked. The other pot had a crack in it and by the time the water bearer reached his master’s house it had leaked much of it’s water and was only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, God will use our flaws to grace his table. In God’s great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don’t be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness we find our strength.

Consider this: Appreciate who you are.

The Cleaning Lady . . .

The Cleaning Lady
Joanne C. Jones

During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.

Before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘Hello’.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

Consider this: People matter. Who have you overlooked today?