The lyrics in the song had such impact on me that I had to write them down as soon as the song was over. I was afraid the busyness of life would push them into the back of my memory and didn’t want that to happen.
A group called 11th Hour sang the poignant words, “I’d like to shake the hand, that reached out a hand, that reached out a hand to me.”
What a beautiful way to express the ripple effect of kindness.
I know how much I appreciate those who have reached out a hand to help me. What I hadn’t stopped to think about was someone must have done the same for them. Through this act, the initial person impacted my life in a positive way, without ever having direct contact with me.
I also have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people I may never meet. When I reach out in love and support, there is no way of knowing how that act may be passed on.
Like a stone tossed in a pond, the ripples move in an ever widening circle.
Thank you to all who perform acts of kindness. You make more of a difference than you will ever know.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop
My husband and I attended a church service in another city and encountered something we’d never experienced before.
We were confused by signs proclaiming this was an upside-down church and wondered what that meant.
Someone quickly came over to introduce himself and explain the concept of an upside-down church.
He said they run on a four-week rotation that includes not only Sunday but how the congregation views the rest of the week as well.
Week one was UP, in which their focus was on new and growing relationships with God. Week two was SIDE, in which they came alongside each other in accountable and supportive community. Week three is DOWN, when they reach down in humble acts of service to bring justice, hope, joy and peace to their community. Week four is PARTY. This is when the church as a body celebrates what God has done during the previous weeks.
I thought of the difference I could make in the world if I was turned upside down.
Personally, I would spend more time getting to know God. When I focus UP, God is a priority and not simply an afterthought.
SIDE can be a challenge for me. I often come and go, make small talk and then have no further contact with these people until the next Sunday. It is up to me to make the effort to get to know people in order to build a supportive community.
DOWN is when I take time from my busy life to reach out in acts of service to those around me. It is incredibly rewarding to experience what happens when the love of Jesus is shown in practical ways.
Next, we come to PARTY, which to me means to celebrate. God does great things in and through us. These deserve to be celebrated.
It’s very possible the visit to this church will turn my world upside down.
Now that I am no longer in the workforce, there is no need to get out of bed early in the morning. The alarm is only set for the days I go to a morning exercise class. Other than that, I let my body dictate how much sleep it needs.
Last week, for several days in a row, I arose and left the house while it was still dark outside. It would have been easy to grumble and complain about the early start and the long days.
Instead, I changed my attitude from, “I hate to get up this early” to “I choose to get up early for the benefit of ..” I was privileged to spend my days with an amazing group of people who are changing the world one heart at a time. For me, the benefit far outweighed a few hours of lost sleep.
This attitude is not just useful for getting me out of bed in the morning. It can be used throughout the day in a myriad of ways.
When I consciously think of what I get to do, rather than what I have to do, my mind shifts from unhappiness to gratitude. It’s amazing the difference this simple change in focus makes.
Things I would normally take for granted are appreciated. The abundance in my life is recognized and I become a more positive person to be around.
I may not have control over all situations in my life but I can choose how to react to them. I choose to look for the benefit and live in gratitude.
I had been advised to check my blood pressure on a regular basis. Due to circumstances, this hadn’t been done for more than two months. The day a follow-up medical appointment was scheduled, I set up my portable machine. Sometimes the reading is higher in a clinical setting and I wanted to have a realistic comparison before I left home.
I secured the cuff on my arm and started to read my morning devotions while the machine did its work. The results were not what I wanted to see. Maybe I hadn’t put the cuff on properly.
The procedure was repeated and the outcome was just as discouraging. I was relaxed and felt no stress so how could my blood pressure be so high? This wasn’t looking good.
I cleared the machine and started again. This time I prayed for God to give me peace about whatever the results may be. I felt fine and didn’t want an increase in medication but if that’s what I needed to stay healthy, I would accept it without a fight. When I opened my eyes and looked at the screen I saw my blood pressure was perfect this time.
Just to be sure, I took it twice more, once while reading and once while praying. The positive impact of prayer was undeniable.
Many times I have experienced peacefulness envelope my mind during and after prayer. What I hadn’t realized was the effect this also had on me physically.
I now had undeniable evidence of the positive effect of prayer on mind, body and soul. No matter how I look at it, prayer is good medicine.
While in New Brunswick in late September, my husband and I made a stop at Cape Enrage. This is on the Bay of Fundy and, as the name suggests, turbulent waters are often encountered there. In fact, the area closes to tourists in early October due to safety concerns.
The oldest active lighthouse on the New Brunswick mainland stands 125 feet above the water here. We were told it has undergone several changes since being built in 1840. Among other things, upgrades to the lighting system have been done to ensure it remains bright enough to safely guide passing vessels.
What I found interesting was the fact it has been moved from its original location three times due to erosion. The effects of the elements were posing a danger to its existence and the whole thing was moved. Can you imagine the work involved in that?
I thought about the changes I have had to make in my life over the years. In order to survive what the elements have thrown at me, there has been a need to change my position. The moves were necessary but definitely not easy.
My thoughts, beliefs and habits were uprooted as the solid ground I thought I was on slowly eroded. If I didn’t make some changes, my life would soon crumble around me.
I learned the tools necessary to establish myself on a firm foundation. The storms of life no longer hit me with the same force. Because of this, my light shines brighter and perhaps it can help guide others through their turbulent waters.
Today’s story in honour of Remembrance Day appeared in my book Dragonflies, Snowdrifts and Spice Cake.
November 11 is known as Remembrance Day in Canada. In other countries, it is called Armistice Day or Poppy Day. This date marks the anniversary of the official end of World War 1, November 11, 1918. As a holiday the day commemorates the sacrifices made in armed conflicts. Countless numbers have given their lives. Many more have suffered serious injuries and great emotional scars.
The sacrifice that so many have paid to ensure a better life for those who followed is overwhelming. That’s why, on this day and for weeks before, people wear artificial poppies as a symbol of remembrance. There’s also a period of silence at the eleventh hour to remember these sacrifices. Many areas have commemoration ceremonies and military parades.
Those who made the sacrifices are remembered and appreciated. Among those I honour are my father and father-in-law, who both fought in World War 11.
While I’m remembering those sacrifices, I need to remember the greatest sacrifice of all. Jesus gave his life so that I may have the opportunity to spend eternity with him. He paid the penalty for my sins so that I may be forgiven. He knew what the outcome would be but carried it through because of his great love. This is something I didn’t deserve. This gift is something to thank him for each and every day.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16 NIV)
I remember when my children were small and I wanted to tell them something important. They’d be focused on other things and not paying attention. In order to have them hear me, I’d start by saying, “Look at me.” Once I had their visual attention they could hear me much better.
Come to think of it, this is still the case in attempting to communicate with anyone distracted by television, cell phones or other electronics. They will respond as if they know what I said but the message is forgotten as soon as I walk away.
It is up to me to ensure my words are heard and understood. I can’t assume this is the case if I haven’t confirmed it.
An example of this came in a conversation in which one man said, “I always listen; I just don’t always hear.” Isn’t that interesting? He would listen to what was said, but if he didn’t think the subject matter was of importance to him, didn’t actually take it in. He could be looking directly at the person speaking and still not be paying attention.
I confess to occasionally allowing my mind to wander when someone is speaking to me. Sometimes I’m formulating a response to them and others I’m going through a mental to-do list. When either of these happens I am not giving the conversation the undivided attention it deserves. It takes a conscious effort to be a good listener.
It’s no accident that the words listen and silent are made up of the same six letters. In order to really listen and hear what is being said, I need to be silent. Not just vocally, but also to silence and focus my mind. Only then will I truly hear you.
My husband and I were attending a church service when we heard the cry of a child. The fussing became muffled but didn’t stop.
A few minutes later we could hear the child being removed from the sanctuary. That is when things intensified. Not only did the crying get louder, but a little voice also started yelling, “No daddy. I don’t want to go out.” The wailing and pleading continued as the father moved to exit the building with his distraught child.
Later, upon reflection, I recognized that I have shown the same type of behaviour with my heavenly Father. When I choose not to behave the way God wants me to, I am being rebellious. I fuss and complain because I’m not getting my own way.
God may choose to remove me from the situation but that’s not what I want. Instead, my desire is for things to change to accommodate me. I let it be known that I want to stay where I am. In essence, I’m also saying, “No daddy, I don’t want to go. Let me stay here.”
In this state, there is no reasoning with me until God has my full attention. If I’m not focused on Him, I’m not hearing or understanding what He wants me to know.
God is not surprised when I act this way. Although this behaviour seems to be an inherent part of human nature, it doesn’t mean any of us are given permission to act as rebellious children.
It is only when I am still, quiet and completely focused on the Lord that my rebellious thoughts will be captured and I will no longer act like an unruly child.
“We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NLT)
I don’t fully understand why, but many of my story ideas come during exercise class. It may be triggered by something the instructor or another participant said. Sometimes it’s the completely random thoughts that seem to flow when my body is in motion.
This particular inspiration came from the instruction given in a class. “Don’t hold your breath when things get hard” we were told. She said the toughest part wouldn’t last long and we needed to know how to breathe through it. We were instructed to inhale when the going is easier and exhale through the most physically demanding time. Not only would this help us work through the exertions, it would build strength and endurance.
I think this hold true for more than just physical exercise. When times get tough I tend to hold my breath and hope the difficulty passes quickly. The end result is never what I hoped for. I end up feeling weaker and don’t have the strength to fight through the situation. Sometimes I get so tired I give up.
I’ve heard it said that without challenge there is no change. This is a good reminder for me to fight through the challenge and keep moving forward. Each deep breath I take will bring me closer to my goal. When I reach the other side I will see that the positive change experienced was worth the temporary discomfort.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” quote often credited to Albert Einstein