Do You Believe in Miracles?

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted Unknown

How Much is a Miracle?

Author Unknown

Tess was a precocious eight year old when she heard her Mom and Dad talking about her little brother, Andrew. All she knew was that he was very sick and they were completely out of money. They were moving to an apartment complex next month because Daddy didn’t have the money for the doctor bills and their house.

Only a very costly surgery could save Andrew now and it was looking like there was no one to loan them the money. She heard Daddy say to her tearful Mother with whispered desperation, “Only a miracle can save him now.”

Tess went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured all of the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even. The total had to be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes. Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall’s Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.

She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention but he was to busy at this moment. Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!

“And what do you want?” the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. “I’m talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven’t seen in ages,” he said without waiting for a reply to his question.

“Well, I want to talk to you about MY brother,” Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. “He’s really, really sick… and I want to buy a miracle.”

“I beg your pardon?” asked the pharmacist.

“His name is Andrew, and he has something bad growing inside of his head, and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?”

“We don’t sell miracles here, little girl. I’m sorry but I can’t help you,” the pharmacist said, softening a little.

“Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn’t enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs.”

The pharmacist’s brother was a well dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, “What kind of a miracle does you brother need?”

“I don’t know,” Tess replied with her eyes welling up. “I just know he’s really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But, my Daddy can’t pay for it, so I want to use my money.”

“How much do you have?” asked the man from Chicago.

“One dollar and eleven cents,” Tess answered barely audibly. “And it’s all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to.

“Well, what a coincidence,” smiled the man. “A dollar and eleven cents — the exact price of a miracle for little brothers.” He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said “Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let’s see if I have the kind of miracle you need.”

That well dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specializing in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed without charge. And it wasn’t long until Andrew was home again and doing well. Mom and Dad were happily talking about the chain of events that had led them to this place.

“That surgery,” her Mom whispered, “was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?”

Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost… one dollar and eleven cents… plus the faith of a little child.

—–

A miracle is not the suspension of natural law, but the operation of a higher law.

According to Snopes.com, the validity of this story is ‘undetermined’ since 2007. Whether it’s true or not, this doesn’t diminish the value of the message… nor the faith of a child.

Today’s inspiring story was shared from the following website: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/faithstories/howmuchmiracle

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Why You Need an Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude is like a well-formed muscle - Use it or lost it Ed J. Pinegar

5 Reasons to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

The word gratitude has its origins in Latin, meaning gifts freely given. According to Dr. Angeles Arrien, author of Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, the Latin root of the word gratitude is grata or gratia — a gift. Gratitude shares a common root with the word grace, which means a gift freely given that is unearned.

Robert Emmons, Ph.D., the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, describes gratitude in two parts. First, it’s an acknowledgement of the good things in life received. And secondly, it’s the recognition that this goodness comes from a source outside of ourselves. This can be a higher power, the natural world, or from social connections with others.

Benefits Of Gratitude

Developing a habit of gratitude is one of the best things you can do to increase your health and happiness. Gratitude is emphasized by all the great religious traditions and is an important component of many spiritual practices. We are now coming to understand what the ancients already understood about the importance of gratitude. Here are five excellent reasons to develop an attitude of gratitude that have the support of science as well.

1. Gratitude makes you happier:

If you are already reasonably happy, gratitude can make you happier. But it can also lift your mood if you struggle with depression. One way that expressing gratitude works is by creating a surge of “feel good” brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. According to gratitude expert Dr. Robert Emmons, gratitude may work by reducing underlying negative emotions such as regret, envy, frustration, and resentment. There’s evidence that the more grateful a person is, the less likely they are to experience depression.

Clinical psychologist Philip Watkins found that clinically depressed patients show significantly lower levels of gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than control groups. Psychologist Dr. Deborah Serani, author of Living with Depression, reminds us that gratitude needs to be expressed all year round. She says, “Stopping to give seasonal thanks is a wonderful thing, but what’s even better is practicing gratitude year round. In fact, studies show that consistent positive interactions, particularly ones that involve gratitude, increase happiness and decrease levels of depression.”

Gratitude can make your kids happier, too. A study led by Jeffrey Froh, co-author of Making Grateful Kids, found that materialistic teens do worse in school and are more likely to get depressed. Froh believes our materialistic value system is to blame for a lot of teenage angst. He contends that focusing on extrinsic goals like image, money, and status does not fulfill psychological needs — even if these goals are met — thereby contributing to depression.

2. Gratitude improves your relationships:

Being grateful can help you make and keep friends, and strengthen relationships of all kinds. Gratitude helps you connect and empathize with others. Expressing gratitude can enhance marriages and make the relationship more resilient. Some experts believe that gratitude is the glue that holds couples together.

Research finds that grateful people exhibit enhanced brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). These are areas of the brain linked to emotional processing, interpersonal bonding, moral judgment, and the ability to understand the mental states of others.

3. Gratitude makes you a better person — at any age:

Being grateful can make you an all-around nicer, more likable person. Those who regularly express gratitude are less materialistic and more spiritual. They are less self-centered and have better self-esteem. Grateful people are more sensitive, less likely to be envious, and less likely to be aggressive or seek revenge.

This holds true for people of all ages. When children from tots to teens are taught to be grateful, it makes them happier and better students. They act more kindly and generously to both friends and strangers alike. Gratitude enhances their sense of responsibility toward future generations which makes them better stewards of the environment.

4. Gratitude makes you healthier:

Feeling and expressing gratitude can make you healthier and it may even help you live longer. It reduces stress and increases emotional resilience. It helps you sleep better, especially if you do gratitude exercises before bed. It even boosts your immune system. Grateful people are more likely to take care of themselves — to eat healthy, exercise, and take measures to manage stress.

One study had participants keep a short, daily journal. One group wrote about things they were grateful for, while another group wrote about what went wrong that day. Besides feeling happier, those in the gratitude group reported fewer health complaintsand exercised more than the group that wrote only to vent their frustrations of the day.

5. Gratitude can give your career a boost:

Whether you are an employee, entrepreneur, or business owner, gratitude can make you more successful. Forbes, one of the world’s most popular sources of business news, has dozens of articles about the importance of gratitude in business. Being grateful can increase productivity and enhance your decision making skills. It can make you a better manager and help you understand and relate to your customers, co-workers, and clients.

How To Develop A Gratitude Habit

Some people are naturally more grateful than others, but expressing gratitude is a skill that anyone can learn to do. The first step to strengthening your gratitude muscle is to pay more attention to life and the people around you. It’s hard to be grateful for that which you do not notice! A great beginner’s exercise is to keep a gratitude journal. Buy a blank paper journal or use a gratitude app like Gratitude 365. One typical exercise is to write down five things you are grateful for before you go to bed. If you are stumped, it’s OK to start with the most obvious basics.

Once you’ve developed the habit of keeping a gratitude journal, you can get even more out of it by writing specifics — the more detailed the better. A University of Southern California study found that writing five sentences about one thing you’re grateful for is more effective than writing one sentence about five things you’re grateful for. Study participants who wrote in detail reported feeling more energetic, happy, alert, and excited than those who wrote generalities.

Let others know you appreciate them. Gratitude works even better when you share it. Develop a habit of telling one person every day what you appreciate about them or thank them for a job well done. Again, it helps to be more specific than general. Instead of saying to a friend “Thank you for being there,” tell them “I appreciate what a good listener you are. You have such wise advice and I always feel better after talking to you.” Imagine how different you would feel being on the receiving end of each of these sentiments!

Most people take the good things in their life for granted. If you aren’t sure whether you are sufficiently grateful to reap gratitude’s many benefits, you can take this gratitude quiz developed by The Greater Good Science Center based at the University of California Berkeley. It will help you know whether you are in need of a “gratitude tune-up.” If you are still having a hard time getting into the gratitude mindset, this video featuring Brother David, a highly respected Benedictine monk, should help. You’ll find more of his inspirational videos at Gratefulness.org.

You can change your life, the lives of those around you, and even the world by being grateful. It’s not hard to do and takes less time than many other healthy lifestyle habits such as meditation, exercise, or even brushing and flossing your teeth!

Today’s Blog post was written by Deane Alban and is shared from the following website: http://reset.me/story/5-reasons-to-develop-an-attitude-of-gratitude/

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Counting Our Blessings

We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count Neal A. Maxwell The Power of Counting and Speaking Your Blessings

Once upon a time, a wise man met with a king. The king challenged the man with a riddle. He said, “In my hands is a small bird. Is it alive or dead?” The wise man paused and looked down.

The wise man thought to himself, “If I say it is alive, he will close his hand and crush it. If I say it is dead, he will open his hand and let it fly away.”

The wise man turned his head up and said in a soft yet commanding voice, “It’s all in your hands.”

The same is true for us. Our lives are in our hands. It is not always easy. We face struggle, challenges, and difficulties. But we can derive blessings from them, if we are intentional. We can, to use the phrase of the late Debbie Friedman, “find the courage to make our lives a blessing.”

To make our lives a blessing, we need to make two critical choices: count our blessings and speak our blessings.

Counting our blessings

As a father of two young children, I am truly blessed. Yet, that’s easy to forget at 3:00 a.m. when one child’s loud crying wakes up the other.

One of the ways I remind myself is by following an ancient Jewish custom. In Judaism, the first thing we are supposed to do each morning is sit up and say the words,

I am grateful to you, Oh God, who has restored my soul from sleep and given me the breath of life.

No sighing. No turning our pillows over and burying our heads in them. We recognize the blessing of life. We prime ourselves to live with gratitude. We count our blessings and find happiness in them.

Saying blessings

It is not enough, however, to recognize and count our blessings. We have to say them, too. Acknowledge them. Speak them.

That’s why the ancient sages urged us to say 100 blessings a day. Something magical happens when we give expression to our feelings, when we use words to show gratitude.

About a month ago, I saw an example of this magic. I was in my office when a member of my congregation came by. He had a burning question.

“I was dining at a restaurant in New York,” he began. “A few tables away from me a man stood up and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes, and everybody in the restaurant cheered. Then the man walked quietly over to a corner, put on a yarmulke, and said some type of blessing. His and his fiance’s eyes filled with tears. Rabbi, do you have any idea what blessing he said?”

I recited a blessing I thought it might be, and he said, “Yes, that’s it! Do you have a copy?” “Sure,” I said. “Why do you ask?”

“I am planning to propose to my girlfriend this weekend, and I want to say it with her.”

With tears in my eyes, I handed him the blessing.

How a blessing works

Blessings express our feelings. They need not be traditional ones. They simply need to come from the heart. When they do, they can change lives.

I experienced this truth near the end of my grandfather’s life. We were very close. Up until his death, I tried to talk to or visit him every day. We would usually end our conversations with my saying “Talk to you tomorrow.” We did not say, “I love you.” He was not a warm fuzzy kind of guy, and it just did not feel right.

But during the last few weeks of his life, something changed. Perhaps it was the birth of my daughter or his declining condition. Whatever the cause, our moments became more infused with meaning.

When I said, “I love you”

A month before my grandfather died, I was sitting by his bed, talking to him. As I got up to leave, I felt a twitch in my stomach. Turning to him, I said, “Grandpa, I love you.”

He didn’t say anything. Our connection, however, had changed. Thereafter, we ended each conversation with my saying, “I love you.”

Saying ‘I love you’ to our dearest ones blesses them and us. It is a way we make our lives a blessing. It is something each of us can do today, tomorrow and for the rest of our lives.

This is one more way we can speak and share our blessings. When we do, we learn the discipline of gratitude and the importance of words in our daily lives.

Everyone has an opportunity look at his or her life and decide what to focus on. Will it be the tragedy, the pain, the hardship? Or will it be a blessing? You decide.

The Blog post I am sharing today was written by Evan Moffic and is from the following website: https://goinswriter.com/count-your-blessings/

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Procrastination…Get Rid of It!

You may delay, but time will not and lost time is never never found again Benjamin Franklin

How to Stop Procrastinating

Personally, I’ve come to embrace my procrastinating nature to a certain degree. When my to-do list gets too long, I simply start a new one. And you know what? Most of the time, the tasks I thought I had to do turned out to be not so important after all.

Sometimes, procrastination can be a sign that what we’re working on the wrong thing. It can also be a sign that maybe we need to step back, take a deep breath, and recharge before tackling the task again tomorrow.

Of course, sometimes procrastination is a product of laziness. If you have an exam to study for, a paper to write, if you have a presentation to make, or a boss/client to appease, then the work will have to get done, whether you start today or put it off until tomorrow.

Only Do Work You’re Really Passionate About

Maybe you don’t have a procrastination problem as much as you have a work problem. If you find yourself procrastinating day in and day out, week after week, month after month, year after year, maybe you’re not doing what you’re meant to do. Maybe its time to get a new job, switch careers, or drop out of school and pursue your passion.

Of course, there’s also a good chance you’re faced with a painful, unpleasant task and you simply need to power through to get to where you want to be in life. If that’s the case, then read on.

If there’s work you need to get done, here are some effective ways you can try overcoming procrastination:

1. The First 30 Minutes Of The Day Is Always For Work

Does this sound familiar: you start the work day/study session by telling yourself you’re “just going to check email/facebook/twitter/reddit for 5 minutes, then I’m going to get to work”. Before you know it, 5 minutes has dragged into 2 hours, and 2 hours has dragged into 4 hours, and you realize you’ve spent half your day sucked into a never-ending loop of checking email, social media, youtube, and your favorite viral news sites?

The first 30 minutes of your day/work day/study session should be spent doing work. If you need to check email or your social news sites, do it once you’ve established a good work groove and you’ll find it much easier to shut it off. Or better yet, block distractions out completely until you’re done.

Having trouble jumping into those first 30 minutes? Tell yourself that you’re just going to get 10 minutes of work done and if its just too painful, you’ll give yourself a break. That first 10 minutes is usually all you need to start getting focused.

2. Become More Self Aware

Procrastination usually comes in two forms. There’s:

  1. Difficulty in starting a task
  2. Getting distracted while working on a task

They both follow a similar pattern of self rationalization.

  • You tell yourself “I really need to get started on this.”
  • You feel stressed.
  • You feel an urge to do something else, so you tell yourself “I’ll get started soon, but I can afford another 5 minutes doing this one other thing.”

Giving yourself this little reprieve relieves the stress temporarily and reinforces the neural pathways associated with procrastination, making it just a bit easier to fall victim to procrastination again, 5 minutes later.

Try this next time you find yourself facing this never-ending cycle. Next time you’re about to start a task and you feel a voice in your head telling you to “check your email, it might be important!”, or “I wonder if anyone commented on my Facebook status”, resist the urge. Tell yourself you’ll just resist it this one time.

You’ll find that the urge does pass once you acknowledge it for what it is – a sudden impulse driven by your reptilian brain.

3. Block Out Distractions

Did you know that willpower is a limited resource that can be depleted like any other form of energy? Much like going on a morning jog tires you out for your evening work out, the more energy you spend resisting temptation, the less energy you’ll have for resisting temptation later on. This has been confirmed by real studies.

What does this mean for someone trying to get rid of procrastination? It means that just knowing that Facebook or Reddit is one click away can make it more likely that you’ll get distracted and start procrastinating. While you might be able to resist the temptation during the first half of your work day, as you expend energy focusing, you’ll become more and more likely to give into temptation and start procrastinating.

To avoid this, use software like Rescuetime, StayFocusd or Freedom to block distracting websites, or block the internet out altogether. Not having to deal with the temptation of constant distractions will not only make it less likely that you’ll succumb to momentary temptation, but it will actually give you more energy to focus on your work and avoid procrastinating when you’re tired.

4. Embrace Imperfection

One of the reasons we procrastinate is to avoid having to make tough decisions and deal with a difficult task. If you’re trying to write the perfect paper, coming up with the perfect thesis can be so intimidating that you don’t even want to get started.

Instead of always aiming for perfection, start intimidating projects by just getting started. Can’t come up with a perfect first line for your essay? Just start writing anything that comes to mind on the topic. Can’t think of a topic? Just start writing down anything vaguely related to the subject matter.

The same can be applied to studying. Is the thought of reading that thick textbook too intimidating? Just start by reading the table of contents, or the first page. Too tired to take notes or really process the concepts? Just skim through what you need to get through and come back tomorrow to re-examine the material when you’re refreshed. Getting something done is better than doing nothing, and once you get started, you’ll often find you have more energy than you thought you did.

5. Make Yourself A Date

Human beings can be strange – if we’re meeting a friend, we’ll set a fixed time to do so, and we show up. Most of us would never make an appointment with a friend and simply avoid showing up for no reason. Yet when it comes to important tasks like going to the gym, or getting another chapter written for your novel, we’ll just set vague goals and feel perfectly comfortable pushing back our self-imposed deadlines.

Start scheduling your important tasks and showing up every time, no matter what. You wouldn’t bail on a meeting with a friend just because you feel a little tired, would you? So why do you do it with the gym? If you want to go to the gym 3 times a week, instead of just telling yourself you’ll go 3 times this wekk, pick 3 days and 3 times that you’re going to show up, and don’t miss those appointments no matter what.

Today’s inspiring article was shared from the following website: http://www.keepinspiring.me/how-to-stop-procrastinating/

 

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Let Gratitude Enable Your Ability to Soar!

TriumphI am always saddened by others who habitually feel sorry for themselves…not because they usually don’t have good reasons for their “blues” but because my experience has taught me that their lives would significantly improve just by taking the time to recognize their blessings. No matter how difficult our lives are, I know that we each are blessed! I believe that searching for and recognizing our blessings enables us to feel the strength of God with us more abundantly… that in itself is a wonderful blessing!

I hope you will enjoy today’s inspiring story!:

The Peace of ‘Enough’ During the Holidays

During this season of bounty, how should we define “enough?” Is there such a thing as enough love? Enough laughter? Enough money? Enough calm?

At first glance, we might be tempted to say, no—those positive things can never be truly fulfilled or completed to the point where we would say, “enough.” But if we reflect more deeply, we can imagine important boundaries that each one of those calls for in a positive, meaningful life.

Believing we can be loved “enough” means trusting the love in our lives rather than always feeling the need to chase or question it.

Laughing with deep, authentic joy is neither possible nor helpful to attempt all the time. Without “enough” laughter, we’d crowd out our other emotions, including the smiles that come from quiet joy more than giggles or guffaws.

While we all strive to better ourselves financially, finding contentment in the resources we have is an important part of living positively. If you still question the idea of “enough” money, just ask lottery winners, whose windfalls are found in multiple scientific studies not to affect overall senses of wellbeing.

Cultivating calm is a lifelong pursuit, but if we never feel calm “enough,” we will never find the motivation to act, to move or to assert ourselves in ways that free us to explore new possibilities for our lives.

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, strikes me as the perfect opportunity to reflect on the balance between “bounty” and “enough,” both in the contexts of the delicious Thanksgiving foods that we look forward to all year long and the emotional surge many of us experience during the holiday season.

As we tuck into our leftovers today, let’s remember to be grateful for their delicious gifts, but also for the deep peace that comes from knowing how to experience the feeling of being satisfied—knowing how and when to say “enough.”

Today’s story was written by Holly Lebowitz Ross and is shared from the following website: https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/life-advice/the-peace-of-enough-during-the-holidays

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