I’m a big quote and story fan, if that isn’t already understood from my random quotes thrown into a few posts. I find pleasure in reading them, especially when I am having a difficult time in life. I put together, here, a few of my favorite stories I have run into. If there are any that are particularly special to you – feel free to add them.
In no particular order, here it goes –
Yesterday and Tomorrow
There are two days in every week about which we should not worry.
Two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is yesterday with its mistakes and cares,
Its faults and blunders, Its aches and pains.
Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday.
We cannot undo a single act we performed.
We cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.
The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow.
With its possible adversities, Its burdens,
Its large promise and poor performance.
Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.
Tomorrow’s Sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds,
but it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.
This just leaves only one day . . . Today.
Any person can fight the battles of just one day.
It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternity’s -
yesterday and tomorrow that we break down.
It is not the experience of today that drives people mad.
It is the remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday
and the dread of what tomorrow may bring.
Let us therefore live but one day at a time.
The park bench was deserted as I sat down
to read beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree.
Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown,
for the world was intent on dragging me down.
And if that weren’t enough to ruin my day,
A young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play.
He stood right before me with his head tilted down
and said with great excitement, “Look what I found!”
In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight,
with it’s petals all worn, not enough rain, or to little light.
Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play,
I faked a small smile and then shifted away.
But instead of retreating he sat next to my side
and placed the flower to his nose and declared with overacted surprise,
“It sure smells pretty and it’s beautiful, too.
That’s why I picked it; here it’s for you.”
The weed before me was dying or dead.
Not vibrant of colors, orange, yellow or red.
But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave.
So I reached for the flower, and replied, “Just what I need.”
But instead of him placing the flower in my hand,
he held it mid-air without reason or plan.
It was then that I noticed for the very first time
that weed-toting boy could not see: he was blind.
I heard my voice quiver, tears shone like the sun
as I thanked him for picking the very best one.
You’re welcome, he smiled, and then ran off to play,
unaware of the impact he’d had on my day.
I sat there and wondered how he managed to see
a self-pitying woman beneath an old willow tree.
How did he know of my self-indulged plight?
Perhaps from his heart, he’d been blessed with true sight.
Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see
the problem was not with the world; the problem was me.
And for all of those times I myself had been blind,
I vowed to see the beauty in life, and appreciate every second that’s mine.
And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose
and breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose.
And smiled as I watched that young boy, another weed in his hand about to change the life of an unsuspecting old man.
We have TWO choices
Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!” He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator.
If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?” Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, ‘Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.’ I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”
“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.
“Yes, it is,” Jerry said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.”
I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.
Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.
After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.
I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?”
I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. “The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Jerry replied. “Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live.”
“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.
Jerry continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, ‘He’s a dead man.’ I knew I needed to take action.”
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Jerry. “She asked if I was allergic to anything. ‘Yes,’ I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Bullets!’ Over their laughter, I told them, ‘I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.’”
Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.
Encouragement by the Window
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.
The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his room-mate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he himself never got to see anything? It didn’t seem fair. At first thought the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window – that thought, and only that thought now controlled his life.
Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running in. In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped, along with that the sound of breathing. Now there was only silence-deathly silence.
The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take it away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”
Epilogue. . . . You can interpret the story in any way you like. But one moral stands out: There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can’t buy.
Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. They find out that the new baby is going to be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sings to his sister in Mommy’s tummy.
The pregnancy progresses normally for Karen, an active member of the Panther Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tennessee. Then The labor pains come. Every five minutes … every minute. But Complications arise during delivery. Hours of labor. Would a C-section be required? Finally, Michael’s little sister is born. But she is in serious condition. With siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushes the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital,Knoxville, Tennessee.
The days inch by. The little girl gets worse. The pediatric specialist tells the parents, “There is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst.” Karen and her husband contact a local cemetery about a burial plot. They have fixed up a special room in their home for the new baby – now they plan a funeral.
Michael, keeps begging his parents to let him see his sister, “I want to sing to her,” he says. Week two in intensive care. It looks as if a funeral will come before the week is over. Michael keeps nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. But Karen makes up her mind. She will take Michael whether they like it or not. If he doesn’t see his sister now, he may never see her alive. She dresses him in an oversized scrub suit and marches him into ICU. He looks like a walking laundry basket, but the head nurse recognizes him as a child and bellows, “Get that kid out of here now! No children are allowed. The mother rises up strong in Karen, and the usually mild-mannered lady glaressteel-eyed into the head nurse’s face, her lips a firm line. “He is not leaving until he sings to his sister!” Karen tows Michael to his sister’s bedside. He gazes at the tiny infant losing the battle to live. And he begins to sing. In the pure hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sings:
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray — ”
Instantly the baby girl responds. The pulse rate becomes calm and steady.
Keep on singing, Michael. “You never know, dear, how much I love you, Please don’t take my sunshine away—” The ragged, strained breathing becomes as smooth as a kitten’s purr.
Keep on singing, Michael. “The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms…” Michael’s little sister relaxes as rest, healing rest, seems to sweep over her.
Keep on singing, Michael. Tears conquer the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glows. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don’t, take my sunshine away.”
Funeral plans are scrapped. The next, day-the very next day-the little girl is well enough to go home!
Woman’s Day magazine called it “the miracle of a brother’s song.” The medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of God’s love!
NEVER GIVE UP ON THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE.
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived 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, perfect to the end for which it was made. 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 it 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, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father’s table. In God’s great economy, nothing goes to waste. So as we seek ways to minister together, and as God calls you to the tasks He has appointed for you, don’t be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and allow Him to take advantage of them, and you, too, can be the cause of beauty in His pathway.
Go out boldly, knowing that in our weakness we find His strength, and that “In Him every one of God’s promises is a Yes.”
Words of Wisdom
I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.
I’ve learned that no matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back
I’ve learned that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.
I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that counts.
I’ve learned that you can get by on charm for about 15 minutes. After that, you’d better know something.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t compare yourself to the best others can do, but to the best you can do.
I’ve learned that it’s not what happens to people that’s important. It’s what they do about it.
I’ve learned that no matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides.
I’ve learned that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.
I’ve learned that it’s a lot easier to react than it is to think.
I’ve learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.
I’ve learned that you can keep going long after you think you can’t.
I’ve learned that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
I’ve learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you.
I’ve learned that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place. (Amen to that!)
I’ve learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
I’ve learned that learning to forgive takes practice.
I’ve learned that there are people who love you dearly, but just don’t know how to show it.
I’ve learned that money is a lousy way of keeping score.
I’ve learned that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.
I’ve learned that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you’re down will be the ones to help you get back up.
I’ve learned that I’m getting more and more like my grandma, and I’m kinda happy about it.
I’ve learned that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.
I’ve learned that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.
I’ve learned that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.
I’ve learned that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.
I’ve learned that you should never tell a child her dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if she believed it
I’ve learned that your family won’t always be there for you. It may seem funny, but people you aren’t related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again. Families aren’t biological.
I’ve learned that no matter how good a friend someone is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.
I’ve learned that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
I’ve learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief.
I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
I’ve learned that sometimes when my friends fight, I’m forced to choose sides even when I don’t want to.
I’ve learned that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. And just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.
I’ve learned that sometimes you have to put the individual ahead of their actions.
I’ve learned that we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change.
I’ve learned that if you don’t want to forget something, stick it in your underwear drawer.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.
I’ve learned that the clothes I like best are the ones with the most holes in them.
I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.
I’ve learned that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process.
I’ve learned that there are many ways of falling and staying in love.
I’ve learned that no matter the consequences, those who are honest with themselves, get farther in life.
I’ve learned that many things can be powered by the mind, the trick is self-control.
I’ve learned that no matter how many friends you have, if you are their pillar, you will feel lonely and lost at the times you need them most.
I’ve learned that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don’t even know you.
I’ve learned that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.
I’ve learned that writing, as well as talking, can ease emotional pains.
I’ve learned that the paradigm we live in is not all that is offered to us.
I’ve learned that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.
I’ve learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon.
I’ve learned that although the word “love” can have many different meaning, it loses value when overly used.
I’ve learned that it’s hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people’s feelings and standing up for what you believe.
Dance Like No One’s Watching
We convince ourselves that life
will be better after we get married,
have a baby, then another.
Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough
and we’ll be more content when they are.
After that we’re frustrated that we
have teenagers to deal with,
we will certainly be happy
when they are out of that stage.
We tell ourselves that our life will be complete
when our spouse gets his or her act together,
when we get a nicer car,
are able to go on a nice vacation,
when we retire.
The truth is there’s no better time
to be happy than right now.
If not now, when?
Your life will always be filled with challenges.
It’s best to admit this to yourself
and decide to be happy anyway.
One of my favorite quotes comes
from Alfred D Souza.
He said, “For a long time it had seemed
to me that life was about to begin -real life.
But there was always some obstacle in the way,
something to be gotten through first,
some unfinished business,
time still to be served,
a debt to be paid. Then life would begin.
At last it dawned on me that these
obstacles were my life.”
This perspective has helped me to see
that there is no way to happiness.
Happiness is the way,
so, treasure every moment that you have.
And treasure it more because you shared it
with someone special,
special enough to spend your time…
and remember that time waits for no one.
So stop waiting until you finish school,
until you go back to school,
until you lose ten pounds,
until you gain ten pounds,
until you have kids,
until your kids leave the house,
until you start work,
until you retire,
until you get married,
until you get divorced,
until Friday night,
until Sunday morning,
until you get a new car or home,
until your car or home is paid off,
until spring, until summer,
until fall, until winter,
until you are off welfare,
until the first or fifteenth,
until your song comes on,
until you’ve had a drink,
until you’ve sobered up,
until you die, until you are born again
to decide that there is no better time
than right now to be happy…
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
So, Work like you don’t need money.
Love like you’ve never been hurt and
Dance Like no one’s watching.
How Many Marbles do You Have?
The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, of maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.
A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the kitchen, with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time.
Let me tell you about it. I turned the volume up on my radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning talk show. I heard an older sounding chap with a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business himself.
He was talking about “a thousand marbles” to someone named “Tom”. I was intrigued and sat down to listen to what he had to say. “Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital. ” He continued, “Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities.” And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.”
“You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.” “Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.
“Now stick with me Tom, I’m getting to the important part. “It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. “I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. “So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. “I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in my workshop next to the radio. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.
“I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight. “Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then God has blessed me with a little extra time to be with my loved ones…… “It was nice to talk to you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your loved ones, and I hope to meet you again someday. Have a good morning!”
You could have heard a pin drop when he finished. Even the show’s moderator didn’t have anything to say for a few moments. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to do some work that morning, then go to the gym. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.” “What brought this on?” she asked with a smile. “Oh, nothing special,” I said. ” It has just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.”
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you a bridge at the eventide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”
– Will Allen Dromgoole