You Can Never Cross the Ocean Unless You Have the Courage to Lose Sight of the Shore…

art wood sign on beach

I don’t know about you but personal growth always feels like a remodeling project to me – with too many walls being demolished and the new construction always fraught with delays. Yet, when the work is done, I never fail to look back and feel a heart full of gratitude.

Personal growth is such a blessing! Self improvement always requires a leap of faith and courage. Although we may see massive benefits to changing, where we are is usually where we feel most comfortable. God is our most ardent fan. He is mindful of our capacity and our abilities. No one knows us better – not even ourselves. You only know yourself from a mortal perspective. He knows your mortal history and your pre-mortal history. He knows your magnificence! Best of all, He believes in You!!

Are you feeling a need for some changes? Perhaps God is nudging you! Listen to your heart and allow yourself to really feel deeply what God is trying to speak to your spirit. Then use His guidance to start the step by step process that He will provide. He will help you across your “oceans” and you will never regret the journey.

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Heroes…Are Made by the Paths They (We) Choose

Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with Brodi Ashton

My life has been blessed with many heroes. Some have done things as simple as giving me a ride to church. Others have given me advice. Some have provided a positive example (often without even knowing it).

I hope your life has been blessed with heroes as well!

I believe in heroes and the positive impact they have on our world! I believe that some of the most important heroes the world has ever known has been those heroes that have been known by just one or two individuals. A hero does not have to be world famous to be a hero in my book.

I am especially thankful to those heroes who have overcome significant obstacles and who have persevered despite difficulties. Today’s story tells of one such hero. I hope it will inspire you as it has inspired me!

AN UNLIKELY HERO

CHILDHOOD

As an infant, he was largely abandoned to a nanny. His mother, in fact, rarely saw him. His dad almost never did.

At 7 years old, he was sent to a boarding school where he proved to be literally the worst in his class. His parents got reports that declared their son “seems unable to learn anything.”

He was punished severely, once being dragged into a room and beaten until bloody for school infractions. He changed schools after his nanny discovered welts on his back from the beatings once he was home on break.

He made no friends in school.

His mom rarely visited him and even forgot to send him Christmas presents; His dad also failed to visit him at school—ever—even when he was nearby and his son wrote letters asking him to stop by.

His letters were never even answered. Dear dad didn’t even know exactly how old his own son was.

TEEN YEARS

Later, as a teen, his father wouldn’t let him go to the best school saying his son would just embarrass him, that he was “such a stupid boy.” He just couldn’t accept that kind of public humiliation from that “damned impudent little idiot.”

Again, in high school, he did not fair too well. As if to underscore that fact, on parent visitation days, while other kids’ parents came to see their children, his never did.

The class would march out in rank order, from the highest score to the lowest. He was always dead last. His parents were embarrassed, so stayed home. He felt the sting of it, as he said, “sharply.” Certainly a gross understatement.

COLLEGE

When he proudly wrote his dad telling him he had been accepted into military college, his dad finally wrote back to say, “You are a constant disappointment to me …. Not only are you a complete failure … I see nothing ahead of you but failure… Do not write me anymore; I do not wish to hear anything more from you.”

The same year the son graduated from military college, his dad died in lingering pain and agony after being brought home in a straight jacket, perhaps reflecting the emotional straight jacket he had helped secure around his son’s psyche for so many relentless years.

So who is this failure of a son? Who was it that went nowhere and did nothing? Who was it that was hampered by a loveless childhood with a detached mother and verbally and emotionally abusive father who never understood or cared for his own son?

WHO WAS THIS HAPLESS SON FROM AN UNHAPPY FAMILY?

He was an artist, winning several awards under a pseudonym.

He was a very successful author of several books (one winning him the Nobel Prize) making him a wealthy man.

He was the lone voice who saw war coming in the appeasement policies Nevel Chamberlain brokered with Germany.

He was made Prime Minister of England twice and presided over a successful war against the spread of Nazism.

His name was Sir Winston Churchill.

 

You are endowed with all that’s needed to lift your own life from the past, making something wonderful out of the spare parts.

Caveat: No one’s life is exactly like anyone else’s. So we can’t assume any direct correlation between his and ours.

Still, to see someone who rose from such childhood obscurity with so many emotional obstacles in the way, to such heights of success is inspiring nonetheless.

My hope has been to inspire you to a level of confidence that will be the push behind the next step closer to the life that awaits you.

AFTERTHOUGHTS

So what advice might Churchill offer a person living below their potential, someone trapped in the pain of their childhood, someone who yearns for something better, more meaningful, happier than what they’ve settled for?

He might say what he once told a graduating class of high school students:

“Never give up. Never, ever, ever give up.”

Story shared from the following website: http://meanttobehappy.com/the-extraordinary-story-of-an-unlikely-hero-your-past-does-not-predict-your-future/

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One Can Never Consent to Creep…Overcoming Adversity

One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar. Helen KellerAre you a fan of adversity? Do you wish it would go away and never haunt your life again?

I used to believe that adversity was a sign that my life was off track and/or I had done something to incur the Lord’s wrath.

Since the time of my near-death experience, I recognize it for what it is: difficult experiences which grow my depth, abilities and gifts.

My near-death taught me about the incalculable worth of adversity. Yet, even now, it is always difficult and often trying.

Yet, I find that as I keep my spiritual muscles well-exercised, I am able to utilize the Lord’s assistance with each trial and get through each event successfully. The bonus is that as I do so, I find myself additionally armed with greater wisdom, strength, and ammunition to address the next trial that comes my way.

What perspective do you use as you endure your trials?

I hope that as life provides difficulties, you will lean on the Lord to help you! I know that He is always there anxious to help you and me!

May great blessings be yours! I hope you will enjoy today’s story!:

Jim Abbott – A Story about Overcoming Adversity

If you’re a baseball fan—and even if you’re not—then you know that with spring comes Spring Training, wherein hope springs eternal…unless, of course, you’re a Mets fan.  (Sadly, we speak from experience here.)…

While we’re on the subject of pitchers, there have been quite a few who truly were and are inspirational people—you might say overcoming adversity is a prerequisite to succeeding in any sport.

Christy Mathewson, one of the game’s first clean-cut role models and a WWI veteran, and Sandy Koufax, another great pitcher and role model, throwing no-hitters (including a perfect game and Vin Scully’s legendary 9th inning call) while standing up for his Jewish heritage, refusing to pitch on Yom Kippur—the holiest day on the Hebrew Calendar—before coming back in pitch the Dodgers to victory, both come to mind, as does Tommy John himself, the pitcher for whom the surgery is named.overcoming adversity 6 Inspiring Stories of Overcoming Adversity You Might not Know ir t interconnectedlives 20 l as2 o 1 a 0345523261

But while Christy and Sandy are in the Hall of Fame and Tommy was a trailblazer, when it comes to overcoming adversity, few compare to Jim Abbott.  In making the big leagues, Abbott truly was one of a kind—he is the only player to have played Major League Baseball with only one hand.

As a boy, he would throw a rubber ball against a wall, slip his throwing hand into his glove—which rested on the stump which ends his right hand—and then fielded the ball using his now-gloved left hand.

But those rubber ball exercises gave Abbott great reflexes, and he went on to not just make his high school and later college baseball teams, where he not only pitched, but batted for himself—and hit home runs one-handed.

He attended and pitched for the University of Michigan, where he won the Big Ten Player of the Year in 1988.  From there he made the US Men’s Baseball Team and won an unofficial Gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and the following year he realized his dream and made it to the big leagues, signing with the then-California Angels.

But his crowning moment of glory was still to come.  After pitching solidly for the Angels, Jim Abbott moved on to the biggest names in baseball—and sworn enemies of every Mets fan out there—the New York Yankees.

The original Yankee Stadium was called “the House that Ruth Built,” and it saw more than two dozen World Series winners, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, the 1950s Yankees of Mantle, Berra, Ford and Casey, the 1970s variety with Reggie Jackson—suffice it to say it saw some of the biggest names and moments in baseball history.

Even among such hallowed baseball history, Jim Abbott not only showed himself to be an All-Star when it came to overcoming adversity, he earned baseball immortality and joined those other Yankee greats in 1993 by pitching a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium.  He also pitched for the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he got his first MLB hit—an RBI.

No one overcame more physical adversity to make it to the major leagues than Jim Abbott, after that incredible no-hitter and a career that spanned more than a decade, he’s still working to inspire people, having appeared on Boy Meets World and making his living today as a motivational speaker.

Remember—with baseball, hope springs eternal.  Here’s hoping that Matt Harvey makes a great comeback this year…and that he and everyone else who plays the game may do so with the same degree of determination and character as Jim Abbott.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.interconnectedlives.com/overcoming-adversity/2/

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Imagination…

Live out of Your Imagination not Your History. Stephen Covey

We all have imagination. It is one of our God-given gifts.

Think of all the improvements and inventions that have come to mankind through that amazing gift called imagination!

I am in awe of those many individuals who have lived true to their imaginations in spite of adversity and great difficulty. I am grateful for each of them who have improved and inspired our world, as a result.

Dmitri Shostakovich is one such individual. I hope you will be inspired by his story!:

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH

If you’re not a classical, opera, or symphonic music fan, you may not have heard of Shostakovich by name, but there’s a good chance that you know some of his most famous works.

From his “Waltz No. 2”—used in the film Eyes Wide Shut—to his “Romance” and many astounding symphonies, Shostakovich stands in the annals of music as one of the true modern greatest, and possibly the greatest composer of the last century.

And all while facing the very-real possibility of death on a daily basis.

Dmitri Shostakovich was an extremely bright musical student and hit the ground running in his career, reeling off enough initial “hits” in terms of compositions to establish himself as one of Russia’s premiere composers.

And then along came Stalin, one of the few men to rival Hitler himself as one of history’s worst villains.  The 1930s were a time of conflict and terror throughout the world, a time when just about everyone, in one way or another, had to overcome adversity in one form or another, and Shostakovich was no exception.

Stalin had fully taken power by then, and “the Great Terror/Great Purge” in Russia had led to the deaths of many of the composer’s acquaintances and friends in government-sponsored executions and purges.overcoming adversity 6 Inspiring Stories of Overcoming Adversity You Might not Know ir t interconnectedlives 20 l as2 o 1 a 0060144769

And then, terrifyingly, Stalin’s opinion of Shostakovich soured as well.  In 1936 Shostakovich began to receive severe criticism for his work, with some of the criticism potentially coming as part of Stalin’s influence.

Stalin himself attended performances of Shostakovich’s work, and was displeased—which, in an era where dissidents were being purged, was no small thing.  What’s more, Shostakovich drew upon everything from post-Romantic to Jewish musical both—all detested by Stalin, and dangerous to be associated with.

Shostakovich was publicly denounced in the USSR—not once, but twice.  The pressure mounted.  He had his Fourth Symphony withdrawn, and lived in constant fear that he and his family would be targeted by Stalin as part of the ongoing purges.

After experiencing a slight renewal after WWII, Shostakovich was once again the target of Stalinist wrath.  He was denounced for the second time, as were other composing greats such as Sergei Prokofiev and the Armenian-born Aram Khachaturian, was denounced for allegedly “anti-Russian” themes in his music.

Here we can see a picture of the three greats together, but in the late 1940s, they all faced bans on their work and censorship, even though Shostakovich cared greatly for Russia—just not under Stalin’s iron grip.  Things seemed to be coming to a head, with his living situation a nightmare, his works suppressed, and Shostakovich’s growing fear that at any moment he would be taken to a camp, killed, or both.

Imagine not just being publicly shamed in front of your entire country, and having your living situation and social status plummet, but being unable to leave and spend every day wondering not just if it will be your last as an esteemed artist—but if it will be your last period, and that if you dare to object, it won’t just be you that suffer, but your family and friends as well.  Shostakovich and hundreds of millions of his fellow countrymen living under Stalin faced that adversity terror on a daily basis.

But he never stopped writing, and never ceased to return to his favorite themes in his suppressed, “desk drawer” works—and that of facing and trying to overcome adversity resounds throughout these pieces.

He outlived Stalin—who died in 1953—and while his troubles weren’t over, the worst of them were, and after more than a decade of terror and public humiliation, be began his resurgence into critical favor around the world, exemplifying what it means to overcome adversity, and how genius can flourish even in the darkest times.

After years of personal denouncement and private terror, Shostakovich stands today as one of the past century’s greatest artists—and without question, one of its bravest.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.interconnectedlives.com/overcoming-adversity/3/

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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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