The Greatest Gifts You Can Give Your Children…

I have learned that there are things that can be given to children that are invaluable; none of which cost a dime.

The most valuable gift is the gift of God in their lives. When parents give this gift to children, they enable their children to have a mentor and an ally with them for the rest of their lives – through thick and thin and through highs and lows.

The next most important gift is the gift of two solid, dependable parents who love each other and who blatantly and boldly are committed to each other and their relationship.

The third most valuable gift is the gift of knowing how to work. Most children balk at this gift at some time in their lives. Yet, a child who knows how to work will be an adult who is not afraid of work or responsibility.

The fourth most valuable gift is the gift of independence and/or self-responsibility. A parent is responsible for their initial guidance but it is the child who will ultimately become responsible for his/her actions and for their life.

One of the most amazing examples I have ever witnessed was a man who was new to a congregation I attended. He was a professional man and clearly very capable. At the time, I was only a young teenager. This man was asked to be a door greeter on Sundays. Everyone else that had been asked to be a door greeter had considered it to be such a trivial and insignificant task that they ignored the task and left it undone – considering it to be beneath them. Not this man. He made sure that everyone was greeted with a warm smile and a hand shake. Within just a few weeks, he had learned the names of everyone who regularly attended and he addressed each of us by name with sincere questions about how we were doing. Little did he know the keen eye that I kept on him as he welcomed members each week. Little did he know what a remarkable example he set for me. From him, I learned that there is no insignificant task and that one person addressing a seemingly trivial task with love and devotion can change the world (at least my world!).

I love the following quote by Gordon B. Hinckley:

“I do not mean to say this with egotism. But I believe in my capacity and in your capacity to do good, to make some contribution to the society of which we are a part, to grow and develop, and to do things that we may now think impossible.

I believe that I am a child of God, endowed with a divine birthright. I believe that there is something of divinity within me and within each of you. I believe that we have a godly inheritance and that it is our responsibility, our obligation, and our opportunity to cultivate and nurture the very best of these qualities within us.

Though my work may be menial, though my contribution may be small, I can perform it with dignity and offer it with unselfishness. My talents may not be great, but I can use them to bless the lives of others. I can be one who does his work with pride in that which comes from hand and mind. I can be one who works with respect for my associates, for their opinions, for their beliefs, with appreciation for their problems and with a desire to help them should they stumble. I believe in the principle that I can make a difference in this world. It may be ever so small. But it will count for the greater good. The goodness of the world in which we live is the accumulated goodness of many small and seemingly inconsequential acts.

This quote sums up well for me all that I know and believe to be true about work, addressing insignificant tasks and the importance of strong, positive examples for children. I think today’s story does a great job of teaching the same precept! I hope you enjoy!

An Insignificant Task

The day when the jobs were handed out was one of the most exciting for all the children in the class. It took place during the first week of the term. On that day, every boy and girl was given a job for which they would be responsible for the rest of that school year.

As with everything, some jobs were more interesting than others, and the children were eager to be given one of the best ones. When giving them out, the teacher took into account which pupils had been most responsible during the previous year, and those children were the ones who most looked forward to this day. Among them Rita stood out. She was a kind and quiet girl; and during the previous year she had carried out the teacher’s instructions perfectly. All the children knew Rita was the favorite to be given the best job of all: to look after the class dog.

But that year there was a big surprise. Each child received one of the normal jobs, like preparing the books or the radio for the lessons, telling the time, cleaning the blackboard, or looking after one of the pets. But Rita’s job was very different. She was given a little box containing some sand and one ant. And even though the teacher insisted that this ant was a very special ant, Rita could not help feeling disappointed. Most of her classmates felt sorry for her. They sympathized with her, and remarked at how unfair it was that she had been given that job. Even her father became very angry with the teacher, and, as an act of protest, he encouraged Rita to pay no attention to this insignificant pet. However, Rita, who liked her teacher very much, preferred to show the teacher her error by doing something special with that job of such little interest.

“I will turn this little task into something great,” Rita said to herself.

So it was that Rita started investigating all about her little ant. She learned about the different species, and studied everything about their habitats and behavior. She modified the little box to make it perfect for the ant. Rita gave the ant the very best food, and it ended up growing quite a bit bigger than anyone had expected…

One day in spring, when they were in the classroom, the door opened, revealing a man who looked rather important. The teacher interrupted the class with great joy, and said,

“This is Doctor Martinez. He has come to tell us a wonderful piece of news, isn’t that right?”  “Exactly”. said the Doctor. “Today they have published the results of the competition, and this class has been chosen to accompany me, this summer, on a journey to the tropical rain forest, where we will be investigating all kinds of insects. Among all the schools of this region, without doubt it is this one which has best cared for the delicate little ant given to you. Congratulations! You will be wonderful assistants!”

That day the school was filled with joy and celebration. Everyone congratulated the teacher for thinking of entering them in the competition, and they thanked Rita for having been so patient and responsible. And so it was that many children learned that to be given the most important tasks you have to know how to be responsible even in what are apparently the smallest tasks. And without doubt, it was Rita who was most pleased at this, having said to herself so many times “I will turn this little job into something really great”.

Pedro Pablo Sacristán
Story shared from the following website: https://freestoriesforkids.com/children/stories-and-tales/insignificant-task

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Education…Learning Can Transform our Lives

Education.  "The what informs, but the why transforms".  Dieter F. UchtdorfEducation is not about going to a certain building and learning “certain things”. Education is about learning – growing in knowledge, wisdom and intelligence.

I am an autodidact and I believe in autodidactiscism – Self-directed learning. I love learning!

After my near-death experience, I realized, more than ever, the importance of always learning and growing!

I also believe in the power of teachers.

What I do not believe is that four walls labeled a classroom are necessary to create a learning environment.

However, if you look at history, autodidacts have been very important to the world in which we live. Here is a short list of autodidacts:

  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Walt Disney
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Bill Gates
  • Michael Faraday
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Walter Cronkite
  • Henry Ford

I love that we can teach each other and that life is meant to be a life-long learning experience! What do you love? Do you study it? Do you find books and other learning materials and treat yourself to frequent learning sessions?

Think of the difference that spending just 10 minutes a day learning about something you love would do! What could you learn in a year? 5 years? a lifetime?

Then, think of what you could do with that knowledge and the many creative ways you could share what you have learned with others!

We are all students and we are all teachers! (We never know the full extent of the influence we have on others – good or bad)

In that light, I share a story about the positive influence a teacher had with young man. I hope you enjoy!:

To Walker, With Love

Four months ago, I was contacted by American Greetings for a video series on gratitude. Not fully knowing what I was getting into, I was charged to take pause and think the people who had shaped my life. These are the people who I would put on my #ThankList. A #ThankList is a list of people you want to express gratitude toward for helping to shape your life, and it’s a step toward a world that’s just a little bit nicer. Had it not been for this project, I may have never had this opportunity. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I am grateful to share my #ThankList story.

I always knew that I wanted to be some kind of entertainer. Growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in New York City (Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn a.k.a. Bed-Stuy), my life was not always easy. My mother raised us in a city-owned apartment while on welfare, and my father suffered from drug issues. However, there was love in the home. Quite often, my mother would have movie nights with us. They dealt with themes of the dangers of drugs and what happens to people who make wrong choices. I was mesmerized by seeing the many black faces on the screen.

One night, my mom came home with the movie To Sir, With Love, starring a tall, black man named Sidney Poitier. In this movie, Mr. Poitier played a handsome, well-dressed and educated but stern teacher. As I watched, not only did I notice another inspiring black talent, but I was reminded of someone who I had grown to admire — Mr. John Walker.

Mr. Walker was my fifth grade teacher. He was cool, sharply dressed, slick and stern. He loved his students and we loved him. I remember getting my report card on the last day of fourth grade and seeing the words “New Teacher: Mr. Walker.” I was excited because I’d NEVER had a male teacher before.

From the first day of fifth grade (September 1984), Mr. Walker laid down the class rules. I remember sitting nervously and thinking, How do I get out of his class? I had no idea this class would be one of the most impactful times of my life.

My biological father was in my life and I loved him, but he had drug issues. Mr. Walker became my father away from home. The father who, when you weren’t in his presence, you still wanted to make proud. He always brought positivity to our lives. He would give us weekly speeches telling us that we don’t have to be products of our environments — on welfare, using drugs or spending a life in prison. Mr. Walker always told us we could do anything and be anyone we wanted.

The first time I ever left New York City was for a school trip that Mr. Walker arranged for us at a farm. This was an overnight trip. We prepared for months by hosting bake sales to raise funds. I remember Mr. Walker working so hard. He wanted us to experience life outside of Bed-Stuy. It was a trip I’ll never forget.

Another day, Mr. Walker said we could put on a play in class. I remember him saying, “Waliek, this is your chance to show us what you got, so if you want the lead part, you better go home and learn it by tomorrow.” I ran home and memorized the whole play in one night. I think I did this more for Mr. Walker because he believed in me and gave me that opportunity. One day, the school had a special assembly program and we noticed that Mr. Walker brought a special briefcase with him. As the program began, the host called on him. Our class became fidgety with excitement and curiosity. He opened his special briefcase and pulled out a gold trumpet. Before he started, he dedicated his performance to all the students, but especially our class. It was the most beautiful music I’d ever heard. I was so shocked and amazed. My teacher was not only one of the coolest, best dressed, educated men, but he was also an entertainer — just like me. I have never in my life been more grateful to be in the presence of Mr. John Walker. I hope that we all encounter a Mr. Walker along the way.

When I created my #ThankList, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that Mr. Walker topped my list. Although he didn’t know at the time, Mr. Walker changed the course of my life. Without this opportunity from American Greetings, I would have never had the opportunity to share this story. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/waliek-crandall/to-walker-with-love_b_7191256.html

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Super Mom…

Super mom mother-429156Motherhood is such a tough job. Yet, though the rewarding moments may come infrequently, I believe that motherhood is one of the most important jobs in this world. Few others can shape a child and the world in which we live like a mother. I have seen the effect that I have had on my first four children. (Which I think/hope is mostly positive?!)  I have also seen the effect of their birth mother on my adopted children. Although my adopted son was four and my adopted daughter was nine when we adopted them, the emotional damage received as a result of a mother who frequently abandoned her children still continues to plague my children and our family. Their ability to love, trust and allow themselves to be vulnerable has been significantly compromised. Just like innocent victims in a car accident, they are left not really understanding why it had to happen to them and though the damage and neglect was not their fault, they each must be the one who does the work of recovery. I hope that every mother who feels the burden of her frequently thankless job will know that heaven thanks you for all of the sleepless nights, sacrifices made, moral instruction, positive example setting and nurturing that you do and so do I. Though I know that few days FEEL that way, as mothers, we truly are in a partnership with God. With God’s help, we are the ones who are most able to effect positive changes in this world. When the world needs change, God sends a babies into the hands and hearts of women who will raise, nurture, and instill values and principles within those children that will enable them to rise above adversity and become a part of the positive solutions needed to address the various problems of this world. God knows that the super heroes of this world are not leaders of government – they are the mothers (and fathers) who are daily in the trenches of family life; loving the sometimes unlovable, teaching children who often seem unreachable, and giving their families all of their energy even though that energy vanished with the morning chores. Tonight, as you prepare for bed, give yourself a pat on the back; for today you were a part of the super hero work of raising responsible children!

 

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Find the David within You…

Goliath shutterstock_125301275There are days in which the very fiber that you are made of seems stretched beyond any reasonable ability to hold it together. Sometimes those days turn into weeks, months and even years. Such were the days for me when I trudged through severe depression. I look back at that experience now and I have no idea how I made it through. The truth is that “I” didn’t make it through – “We” did. God took me by the hand and we made it through my depression together. I would have never guessed, at the time, that there would ever come a day that I would feel that the pain and suffering was worth it. Yet, here I am and it was. I won’t take the time to go into detail but there is a level of understanding, compassion and passion that I never could have obtained without that experience. When you are having those experiences in your life – don’t try to go it alone. God is there to help you. And know that, in the end, you will find the David within you and you will be better for it.

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Each Child a Miracle…

each child a miracle pexels-photoLife is precious and so are children. Each of us is a child with great potential and promise. Our bodies may age and our hair may go grey but inside each of us is an eternal spirit that does not age. We learn, we mature, we gain skills – each of those things is an important component of life. We each have a promise to fulfill – that promise is kept by the way we live our lives. When you look at a child and see the potential in them, remember that God sees us as His children and that we too have potential! Potential and promise is not just for infants – it is for all of us.

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