Are You Thankful for Your Thorns?…Dealing with Adversity

rose bushes profile-girl-rose-young-girl-50998With Thanksgiving quick approaching, the last thing you may have on your mind is thorns. However, life is full of thorns and it is important to be thankful – even for some of the thorns! In that spirit, I share today’s story:

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week, she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. “Had she lost a child? No – she has no idea what I’m feeling,” Sandra shuddered. Thanksgiving? “Thankful for what?” she wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, can I help you?” The flower shop clerk’s approach startled her. “Sorry,” said Jenny, “I just didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you.” “I . . . . I need an arrangement.” “For Thanksgiving?” Sandra nodded. “Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the ‘Thanksgiving Special’?” Jenny saw Sandra’s curiosity and continued. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories, that each arrangement insinuates a particular feeling. Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?” “Not exactly!” Sandra blurted. “Sorry, but in the last five months, everything that could go wrong has.”

Sandra regretted her outburst but was surprised when Jenny said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.” The door’s small bell suddenly rang. “Barbara, hi!” Jenny said. She politely excused herself from Sandra and walked toward a small workroom. She quickly reappeared carrying a massive arrangement of green bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Only, the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped, no flowers. “Want this in a box?” Jenny asked. Sandra watched for Barbara’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems and no flowers! She waited for laughter, for someone to notice the absence of flowers atop the thorny stems, but neither woman did. “Yes, please. It’s exquisite.” said Barbara. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I’d not be so moved by its significance, but it’s happening again. My family will love this one. Thanks.”

Sandra stared. “Why so normal a conversation about so strange an arrangement?” she wondered. “Ah,” said Sandra, pointing. “That lady just left with, ah . . . ” “Yes?” “Well, she had no flowers!” “Yep. That’s the Special. I call it the “Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.” “But, why do people pay for that?” In spite of herself she chuckled. “Do you really want to know?” “I couldn’t leave this shop without knowing. I’d think about nothing else!” “That might be good,” said Jenny.

“Well,” she continued, “Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today. She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she faced major surgery.” “Ouch!” said Sandra. “That same year, I lost my husband. I assumed complete responsibility for the shop and for the first time, spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.” “What did you do?” “I learned to be thankful for thorns.” Sandra’s eyebrows lifted. “Thorns?”

“I’m a Christian, Sandra. I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and I never thought to ask Him why good things happened to me. But, when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time to learn that dark times are important. I always enjoyed the flowers of life but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.” Sandra gasped. “A friend read that passage to me and I was furious! I guess the truth is, I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.” She started to ask Jenny to “go on” when the door’s bell diverted their attention.

“Hey, Phil!” shouted Jenny as a balding, rotund man entered the shop. She softly touched Sandra’s arm and moved to welcome him. He tucked her under his side for a warm hug. “I’m here for twelve thorny long-stemmed stems!” Phil laughed, heartily. “I figured as much,” said Jenny. “I’ve got them ready.” She lifted a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerated cabinet. “Beautiful,” said Phil. “My wife will love them.” Sandra could not resist asking, “These are for your wife?” Phil saw that Sandra’s curiosity matched his when he first heard of a Thorn Bouquet. “Do you mind me asking, Why thorns?” “In fact, I’m glad you asked,” He said. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but we slogged through, problem by rotten problem. We rescued our marriage – our love, really. Last year, at Thanksgiving, I stopped in here for flowers. I must have mentioned surviving a tough process because Jenny told me that for a long time she kept a vase of rose stems — stems! — As a reminder of what she learned from ‘thorny’ times. That was good enough for me. I took home stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific thorny situation and give thanks for what the problem taught us. I’m pretty sure this stem review is becoming a tradition.” Phil paid Jenny, thanked her again and as he left, said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special!”

“I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life, ” Sandra said to Jenny. “Well, my experience says that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, Sandra, Jesus wore a crown of thorns so that we might know His love. Do not resent thorns.” Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. “I’ll take twelve long-stemmed thorns, please.” “I hoped you would, ” Jenny said. “I’ll have them ready in a minute. Then, every time you see them, remember to appreciate both the good and hard times. We grow through both.” “Thank you. What do I owe you?” “Nothing. Nothing but a pledge to work toward healing your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.”

Jenny handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach a card like this to your arrangement but maybe you’d like to read it first. Go ahead, read it.” My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn! I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorn. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear, teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow.

-Author Unknown

Story shared from the following website: http://www.heavensinspirations.com/thankful-for-thorns.html

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Excellence – We Are What We Repeatedly Do

I think we all crave excellence. What I think most of us do not crave is the effort that excellence takes. Some may say that we are inherently lazy – I think mortality makes it easy to shrink from the pain of growth. Excellence comes from what we repeatedly do – so does failure.

Therefore, in order to become excellent, we must cultivate habits of excellence – do things right, grow our minds, enhance and refine our skill set, think positive thoughts, take responsibility for ourselves, etc.

Excellence is never the easy way but it is always the best way!

I hope you enjoy the writings I share today from Ralph Waldo Emerson!:

Thoughts About Living with Excellence

Skill to do comes of doing. Do the thing and you will be given the power.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or find it not. What you are comes to you.

Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good. Set down nothing that will not help somebody.

Put your trust in ideas and not in circumstances. Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely.

To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.

Unless you do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will not grow. We aim above the mark to hit the mark.

Written by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Words from Ralph Waldo Emerson are shared from the following website: http://www.agiftofinspiration.com.au/stories/excellence/Thoughts%20on%20Living%20with%20Excellence.shtml

 

 

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Adversity – It Is Not What Happens to You…

It is not what happens to you but What happens Within you that counts

We all have adversity in our lives. Admittedly, some have greater loads of adversity to carry and to deal with in their lives but no one escapes the grasp of adversity.

Yet, it is adversity that makes us strong, that teach us lessons, and that can reveal the masterpiece that lies within each of us.

As you read today’s story, I hope you will remember the amazing potential that lies within you!:

The artist Michelangelo often stirred up the opposition of the contemporary artists of his day. Many of them envied his magnificent abilities. One example was the architect Bramante.

Pope Julius retained Michelangelo to build him a splendid tomb. Michelangelo gladly accepted the project and spent eight months in a marble pit personally cutting and selecting the most perfect stones. When he returned, he found the pope had second thoughts. Bramante had turned Pope Julius against the project. The Pope cancelled it.

Later the idea for another special project entered the Pope’s mind. Bramante saw the project as a time consuming trap for which there would be little public recognition. Bramante recommended Michelangelo for the job.

The great artist saw the trap. He knew what Bramante was up to. He wished to turn the project down but did not want to refuse the Pope’s request. So Michelangelo went to work. He spent many years doing the slow and tedious labor the project required. It was the Sistine Chapel.

The inspiration that flowed through Michelangelo can likewise flow through any human being. That is what the inspiration wants to do. It cannot be stopped. It is a living, powerful river that easily circumvents all obstacles.

Michelangelo collected his inner forces for a complete victory. Likewise, we must not fear to face the trickery of some people and expose it for what it is. This is not negative, but intelligent protection and spiritual perception.

In his many books on inner development author Vernon Howard refers to Michelangelo several times. He quotes him as saying, “The more the marble wastes, the more the statue grows.” And, “I released the statue from the stone.” He chiseled away all that was unnecessary, and David emerged.

By: Tom Russell

Story shared from the following website: http://www.inspirationalstories.com/7/715.html

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Cynicism is an Intellectual Cop Out…There is a Better Way

Cynicism is an intellectual copout, a crutch for a withered soul, a thin excuse for inaction and retreating commitment. Do not become cynical; be appropriately concerned and actively involved.

Cynicism is an intellectual cop out,a crutch for a withered soul, a thin excuse for inaction
and retreating commitment. Do not become cynical; be appropriately concerned and actively involved.    Jeffrey R. Holland

There is a lot of cynicism being thrown around in our country right now. I believe in the quote by Jeffrey R. Holland. That is why I used it for today’s meme.

I understand concern. I understand differences of opinion. I understand a desire for leaders to see the world as we see it. I also understand that the solution to every problem, concern or care in this world is God.

I wish that I could share the memories of my near death experience with the world. In it, everyone would be blessed to see that God is real and His love is perfect and ever enduring. Everyone would see His infinite and complete perfection and understand that the key to all happiness, joy and true success is to make God an integral part of all we do and align our choices and actions with His unchanging truth.

The world is imperfect and we are imperfect but the greater the effort of mankind, as a whole, to choose light in this world, the more we will receive peace, safety, and joy. As Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “When God works through us, No One and Nothing can stand against us.”

I hope you enjoy today’s story which was shared by Hugh Downs!:

Hugh Downs on Overcoming Cynicism

One morning on our Today show we reported on a group of teenagers whose demonstrations had shocked their community. In the faces of the young people pictured on the screen I saw a total rebellion against authority.

“That could have been me 25 years ago,” I said to myself.

It started me thinking back to the age of 14 when the change within me occurred. Up until then I had accepted without question the patterns my parents had set. Then slowly I began to see things through a haze of contempt and rebellion.

Perhaps it was partly because I stood first in my class and took great pride in my pseudo-intellect and glib tongue. Success, I concluded, was all that mattered.

As captain of my own ship, I decided that I needed help from no one. Sensitivity to need and concern for others were, to me, signs of weakness or guilt. I had a theory for everything.

Since a great percentage of those in my home town of Lima, Ohio, were church-going people, I divided them into two neat groups: the ones who used church once a week as a cleansing ritual, and the others who attended church with the thought, “I want to be on the winning side in case there is something to all this.”

So I argued that all churches should be abolished because they stood in the way of faith. I theorized that a man can worship God as he sees fit—where and when he chooses. And if he doesn’t choose to, that is his privilege too. (I didn’t choose to, by the way.)

My name for this theory was “Reverse Piety.” It sounded very smart to me.

But as a working philosophy of life it was to prove more and more unsatisfactory. Actually I should have known better.

My father was a Methodist, my mother a Baptist, but in a spirit of early ecumenicity they became Episcopalians when they were married. Time after time they showed their concern for others.

For a while, my father and a partner ran an auto accessory store. When they went into the red, the partner declared himself bankrupt. My father and mother decided that there was a moral as well as a material obligation involved. He took a job and over the years paid back every penny he owed.

I resented it since it meant there was no money for me to continue college. I had to quit after the first year. My bitterness increased when I applied for 26 jobs in a row and didn’t get one.

Then one day I stopped at the radio station in Lima with the halfhearted hope that there might be some kind of job open. They gave me an audition—and to my surprise I was hired as an announcer. The pay was $7.50 a week.

There was hardly any direction to go but up. I was married and a father when one of those experiences occurred which, in retrospect, you can call a turning point.

The radio station where I worked had to cut costs. My job was in danger. Thinking that my boss was looking for a good excuse to let me go, I built up a real dislike of him.

Then one day he called me into his office. To my surprise his manner was kindly. He was concerned about me. And he worked out a plan for me to stay on the job.

Something happened inside me at that point to chip away at the crust of cynicism I had built up around myself. I thanked him for his thoughtfulness, then said impulsively, “You do this for me when all the time I have been hating you because I didn’t think you wanted me here?”

My boss said calmly, “Why don’t you try to get outside of yourself, Hugh? If you do, you’ll tap a source of spiritual and physical energy that will make you feel inexhaustible.”

I chewed that thought long and hard. The words were certainly not new, but now they had meaning.

For a time I had been examining other faiths, from Judaism to Buddhism and Islam. Each has much to offer. Inevitably I came back to a reexamination of Christianity.

While pondering questions of faith and systems of philosophy, I was moving from radio to television, from Ohio to Chicago and then to New York. The years passed. I worked with Kukla, Fran and Ollie, with Sid Caesar, Jack Paar and the Today show.

As success came I followed the pursuits I liked: astronomy, boating, flying, celestial navigation, music. They can satisfy body and mind, but they leave the spirit unfulfilled. Yet, answers to my quest for faith were coming and piece by piece, like putting together a mosaic, the picture was taking form.

An actor contributed to it. I don’t even know his name. But he was in a very successful play and he was asked how he could possibly remain fresh after giving the same performance, day after day, 700 times.

“The audience hasn’t seen the play 700 times,” he said. “It’s a new play for them every night. If I thought only of myself I’d be stale by the 10th performance. But every night I think of the audience instead of myself and they renew and refresh me.”

Last year I sailed across the Pacific in a small boat. It was immensely satisfying to navigate that distance, even though I had a fall during the voyage that injured my spine. Back home, doctors said it required surgery.

I was taken to the hospital in a wheelchair. The operation was a success and I walked out without any help. Yet the experience added something to me.

First, the ordeal was neither fearsome nor intolerable though from the outside it seemed so. Second, there was always someone along the corridors whose troubles and pain were worse than your own. Cheering them was not depressing or morbid, but just the opposite. You got outside yourself.

At one time I served on the Citizens’ Advisory Committee of the New York State Mental Health Association. That committee was scheduled to make one of their regular visits to patients.

I would have ducked going, if I could. I couldn’t. In our car pool the driver of our auto was a rabbi whose sense of compassion interested me.

At the hospital we walked through the clean, neat rooms. Two very disturbed boys caught our attention. One was 13, the second, perhaps two years older. The older one said very little. The younger one said nothing at all.

As the rabbi talked with them I asked a nurse, “What hope is there for these boys?” She shrugged her shoulders. “Very little,” she said.

As we were leaving, I looked over my shoulder and saw the younger boy sitting on an oak bench, all alone, staring into nothingness, the picture of endless despair.

“That boy,” I said to the rabbi, “looks very much like my own son. I can’t help it, but I’m glad—” I was starting to express thankfulness for the fact that my son was normal.

“I know how you feel,” he interrupted. “That boy is my son.”

It was days before I got over the shock of that experience.

The picture of the rabbi not only ministering to his own son, and to all the afflicted in that institution, but also moving to save me embarrassment is still vivid before my eyes. For in his agony he had learned to lose himself in his concern for others.

This was what my parents were trying to tell me as they scrimped and sacrificed to pay off a debt that was moral, not legal. It was what my boss at the radio station was saying to me when I was 22; and it was what the actor meant when he talked about playing one role 700 times.

Different people were getting the message to me, but it took a long time before I really heard and embraced as the heart of my faith the words Christ uttered to His disciples: He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Shared from the following website: https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/positive-living/emotional-and-mental-health/guideposts-classics-hugh-downs-on/page/0/2?nopaging=1

 

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A Tribute to Abraham Lincoln and George Washington…Happy President’s Day!

President's Day 2017

Abraham Lincoln and George Washington are two of my heroes. I believe their greatness lies in their determination to live their lives with honor and integrity. I believe that for any life to be truly meaningful life, it must be lived with honor and integrity.

Today, I share two stories. Both of them communicate a few of the qualities that I admire and respect in these two amazing men. Happy President’s Day! I hope you will enjoy!

The Heavy Log

Once upon a time a rider came across a few soldiers who were trying to move a heavy log of wood without success.

The corporal was standing by just watching as the men struggled.

The rider couldn’t believe it. He finally asked the corporal why he wasn’t helping.

The corporal replied: “I am the corporal. I give orders.“

The rider said nothing in response. Instead he dismounted his horse. He went up and stood by the soldiers and as they tried to lift the wood and he helped them.

With his help, the task was finally able to be carried out.

Who was this kind rider?

The rider was George Washington, the Commander-in-chief.

He quietly mounted his horse and went to the corporal and said, “The next time your men need help, send for the commander-in-chief.”

Listening to a Nervous Friend

Abraham Lincoln was listening to the story of a nervous friend who was narrating about the failures and misfortunes of his life. After his narration was over, Abraham Lincoln told the person to have a glance at a board. The friend of Lincoln minutely glanced at the board and read the content written on the board. The content written on the board were the list of failures occurred to Abraham Lincoln during his life. After reading the content on the board, a new shine of hope appeared on the person’s face and he heartily thanked Lincoln for showing him a new direction towards his goal.

Let’s take a glance at the list of disheartening failures which Lincoln smiling endured and went on to become a great leader of America.

1) Unsuccessful in business   ( at age of 21)
2) Lost miserably in legislative elections (at age of 22)
3) Faced the untimely death of his sweetheart (at age of 24)
4) Had to suffer a severe nervous breakdown (at age of 27)
5) Was defeated in Congressional race (at age of 34)
6) Had to face failure of becoming a Senator (at age of 45)
7) Failed again in becoming a vice president (at age of 47)
8) Had to overcome the failure of losing Senatorial race (at age of 49)
9) Finally became the 16th President of United States of America(at age of 52)

Such heartbreaking failures could lead any person to nervous breakdown or dampen his confidence. But Lincoln faced every disappointment and failure with courage and marched on to path of success and leadership. His life was an inspiring story of courage which inspired countless leaders and upcoming youngsters all over the globe.

Story about Abraham Lincoln shared from the following website: https://prashantb.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/an-motivational-incident-from-life-of-abraham-lincoln/

Story about George Washington shared from the following website: http://baybusinesshelp.com/2013/02/15/2-stories-of-george-washington-and-the-power-of-humility/

 

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