True Wealth…Do You Have It?

True Wealth – do you have it?  When you make an assessment of your life – is your bank account wealthy but your relationship account poor? Have you ever noticed how miserable some of the very wealthiest people are?

When my father died, I came to know how truly wealthy he was. His bank accounts weren’t overflowing with wealth but his relationship accounts were. It seemed that everyone who knew him had a story to tell about him helping them or how much they valued his friendship. My dad was the kind of person his friends knew they could count on.

My dad rarely stepped inside of a church because of feelings of inadequacy and yet the leader of the congregation that my dad belonged (whom you would think would have not known him due to poor church attendance) knew him well, claimed that my dad was a truly treasured friend, and shared nothing but praise for the many times he had witnessed my father serve him and others.

My dad left nothing in his will for his grandchildren or great grandchildren but he left a treasure trove of precious memories. Whether it was dad helping my oldest daughter as a child feed my dad’s lame calf, inviting everyone out to sled in his fields or his frequent calls to meet him while he was in town for an ice cream cone – my family knew my dad’s love for them. Even in his last months of ill health, my dad was a frequent provider of his infamous piggy back rides.

A friend remarked to me after my dad’s funeral that he hoped that he was remembered as fondly at his funeral as my dad was at his. I think that my friend realized how truly wealthy my dad was. Wealth like the kind my dad had is truly priceless.

Today, I share a story that I think speaks to the importance of acquiring people wealth. I hope you enjoy!:

Once upon a time, a very strong woodcutter asked for a job in a timber merchant and he got it. The pay was really good and so was the work condition. For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.

His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he supposed to work.

The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees.

“Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!”

Very motivated by the boss words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he could only bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.

“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.

“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked.

“Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”

Reflection:

Our lives are like that. We sometimes get so busy that we don’t take time to sharpen the “axe”. In today’s world, it seems that everyone is busier than ever, but less happy that ever.

Why is that? Could it be that we have forgotten how to stay “sharp”? There’s nothing wrong with activity and hard work. But we should not get so busy that we neglect the truly important things in life, like our personal life, taking time to get close to our Creator, giving more time for our family, taking time to read etc.

We all need time to relax, to think and meditate, to learn and grow. If we don’t take the time to sharpen the “axe”, we will become dull and lose our effectiveness.

Author: Stephen Covey
From: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Story shared from the following website: http://rishikajain.com/2015/08/16/the-story-of-a-woodcutter-author-stephen-covey/

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Helping Others…He Climbs Highest Who Helps Another Up!

Helping Others...He Climbs Highest Who Helps Others Up

Helping others does not have to be a Christmas thing. It can be a way of life – or a way of living. We don’t have to donate our time 24/7 but we can help in ways that fit into our lives. Helping others always make us feel better and it makes those we serve feel better as well! I love the positive impact we can have on the lives of others when we give just a little bit of personal time and assistance! I hope you enjoy today’s story!:

Saving Memories
Rebecca Sell, Fredericksburg, Virginia

Three months after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Rebecca Sell, then 24, a photojournalist for Fredericksburg, Virginia’s Free Lance-Star who was on assignment covering the disaster, captured a distraught New Orleans couple sifting through waterlogged photo albums. As she snapped the photo, something within her clicked. “I told them I could take the ruined pictures, copy them and give them digitally restored photos,” she recalls. Although a bit skeptical, the couple agreed. Rebecca took their photos home with her once her assignment ended, restored them and took them to the couple at their temporary residence in Virginia. “It felt so good to be able to do that for them,” says Rebecca.

 When her editor, Dave Ellis, saw the photo of the couple, he suggested they go back and restore damaged photos for even more people. So in January 2006, with paid time off from the paper, the two set up shop in the Pass Christian, Mississippi, public library, 65 miles from New Orleans (or rather, the double-wide trailer that now served as the library; the original had been destroyed in the hurricane). After posting a notice in the community newsletter, Rebecca and Dave were inundated with 500 photos in four days: water-spotted wedding pictures, baby photos crinkled with moisture. For each, the pair snapped a new digital picture, then used high-tech software to erase water spots and restore colors. “We worked from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day for four days,” says Rebecca. “It was a massive undertaking.” In a stroke of luck, a popular website linked to Dave’s blog about the experience, and soon Operation Photo Rescue, as it came to be known, had emails from hundreds of volunteers, including photographers, restoration experts and Photoshop whizzes, eager to help.

Though digital restoration is a painstaking process, mending irreplaceable family pictures means the world to victims like Emily Lancaster, 71, of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, who tossed out piles of ruined photo albums after Katrina, never thinking the mildewed mess could be salvaged. But she just couldn’t bear to part with a few treasured pictures, including a portrait of her father, who had passed away, and a photo of her husband as a boy. Then she heard about Operation Photo Rescue. “I didn’t have a whole lot of hope they could fix them, but they did,” Emily says. “Almost every day I think about all the pictures I’ve lost. I’m so happy to have these two.”

In the five years since Katrina, Operation Photo Rescue—now headquartered in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with more than 2,000 volunteers—has collected thousands of pictures ruined by floods, hurricanes and tornadoes in such states as Iowa, Georgia, Kansas, Texas and Louisiana. Volunteers make “copy runs” to disaster areas across the country to gather damaged photos from survivors; operating costs are covered by donations and grants. “It’s great to be able to give people some of their history back,” says Rebecca. “One person told me that thanks to us, her grandmother got to see her photos again before she passed away. Moments like that remind me why I do this.”

To volunteer or make a donation, go to OperationPhotoRescue.org.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.womansday.com/life/real-women/a2093/lending-a-helping-hand-112631/

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How Do You Know and Describe God?

how-do-you-know-and-describe-god-lamp-revised-639489

During my near death experience, I was allowed to witness a visit that I had with God prior to my life on earth. As a result, I know and understand God in ways that few mortals do. Most importantly, I know that God is perfect. We, as mortals, talk about God being perfect but our mortal limitations make it almost impossible to relate to what perfect really is.

In God’s case, perfection is not dependent on our perspective. God’s perfection is whole and complete. There is nothing that God does not know. There is no talent, ability, or knowledge that He is lacking. He is not perfect compared to __________ (you fill in the blank). He is the completely and utterly and totally perfect.

I often see man try to humanize God and instill in Him weaknesses and faults. It may make someone feel better (I doubt it?) but that does not change God. God is unchanging and He does not waver. God’s laws do not change, His purposes do not change, and neither does His love.

The God I have come to know, as a result of my near death experience, is intent on helping us learn, loves nothing more than to be able to bless us, is our most ardent fan and supporter and loves us perfectly.

If there is one lesson that I have learned as a result of all of my experiences, it is that we can come to know and understand God most easily through our hearts. It is within our hearts that we feel Him and it is within our hearts that we are taught all truth – including all truth about God.

Today I would like to share a story from the following website: http://godrestorestestimonials.weebly.com/short-inspirational-stories.html#perfect

I hope you enjoy the story about the King!

A king who did not believe in the goodness of God, had a slave who, in all circumstances, said: “My king, do not be discouraged, because everything God does is perfect, no mistakes!”

One day they went hunting and along the way a wild animal attacked the king. His slave managed to kill the animal, but could not prevent his majesty losing a finger.
Furious and without showing his gratitude for being saved, the nobleman said “Is God good? If He was good, I would not have been attacked and lost my finger.” The slave replied: “My king, despite all these things, I can only tell you that God is good, and he knows “why” of all these things. What God does is perfect. He is never wrong!” Outraged by the response, the king ordered the arrest of his slave.

Later, he left for another hunt and was captured by savages who made human sacrifices. In the altar, ready to sacrifice the nobleman, the savages found that the victim had not one of his fingers, so he was released. According to them, it was not so complete to be offered to the gods.

Upon his return to the palace, he authorized the release of his slave that he received very affectionately. “My dear, God was really good to me! I was almost killed by the wild men, but for lack of a single finger, I was let go! But I have a question: if God is so good, why did he allow me to put you in jail?”

The slave replied: ”My King, if I had gone with you in this hunt, I would have been sacrificed for you, because I have no missing finger, therefore, remember everything God does is perfect. He is never wrong.”

Thank you for letting me share my knowledge of God with you today. May God’s blessings be yours and may you feel His perfect love for you!

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As We Observe Evil and Opposition

Female climber struggles up the edge of a challenging cliff.

Opposition and trials are a part of life. They are also a part of growth. There is no question that, at times,  great suffering comes as a result of the choices of others. However, we should be quick to note that great blessings also come because of the choices of others.

We would all do well to remember that each of us is a contributor to the world we live in. None of us has an anonymous effect on the world. It is our choice whether our contribution will be positive or negative at any given moment. Choices are a blessing and we are given great power in the blessing of choice.

I am often inspired by stories that share the power of positive choice – especially under adverse conditions. I believe that positive choices combined with faith and prayer constitute the ingredients for receiving some of God’s greatest blessings!

It is in that spirit that I want to share a story from the blog of Seth Adam Smith at:  https://sethadamsmith.com which was shared on March 27, 2014:

I’ve been feeling really discouraged lately—like, really discouraged. While struggling to move forward, I was quietly reminded of this true story. It is—quite frankly—one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever heard.

It was the summer of 1941, and the Nazis were rapidly tearing through Russia, destroying everything in their path. Adolph Hitler had pompously declared that by August 9, 1942, Nazis would celebrate the taking of Leningrad (present-day St. Petersburg).

On September 8, 1941, the Nazis surrounded the city of Leningrad, forming a blockade.

The city’s almost 3 million civilians (including about 400,000 children) refused to surrender and endured rapidly increasing hardships in the encircled city. Food and fuel stocks were limited to a mere 1-2 month supply, public transport was not operational and by the winter of 1941-42 there was no heating, no water supply, almost no electricity and very little food. In January 1942 in the depths of an unusually cold winter, the city’s food rations reached an all time low of only 125 grams (about 1/4 of a pound) of bread per person per day. In just two months, January and February of 1942, 200,000 people died in Leningrad of cold and starvation. Despite these tragic losses and the inhuman conditions the city’s war industries still continued to work and the city did not surrender. [Source: Saint-Petersburg.com]

By the end of the siege, the number of deaths in Leningrad outnumbered those who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, combined.

Under these conditions, in the midst of what would become an 872-day siege, the Symphony of Leningrad planned a “counter-offense.” They resolved to perform the newly-completed Seventh Symphony of Dmitry Shostakovich, a native of Leningrad, and broadcast it on loudspeakers throughout the city, towards enemy lines.

The score—both long and complex—called for a 90 piece orchestra, and only half of the members of the symphony at Leningrad had survived the horrors of the siege.

Despite extra rations, many members of the symphony would faint from exhaustion during rehearsals. They all had strength enough to play through the whole piece only once—three days before their big performance.

Their performance was set for August 9, 1942. It was no coincidence that August 9th was also the date set by Hitler to celebrate the capture of Leningrad.

The Philharmonic Hall was packed – people came in their finest clothes; city leaders and generals took their places. The musicians, despite the warm August temperature, wore coats and mittens – when the body is starving, it is continually cold. Outside, throughout the city, people gathered to listen at loudspeakers. Hours earlier, Leonid Govorov, Leningrad’s military commander since April 1942, ordered a barrage of artillery onto the German lines to ensure their silence for long enough time for the work to be performed without interruption. Loudspeakers, on full volume, pointed in the direction of the Germans – the city wanted the enemy to hear.

‘This performance,’ announced Eliasberg in a pre-recorded introduction, ‘is witness to our spirit, our courage and readiness to fight. Listen, Comrades!’ And the city listened, as did the Germans nearby. They listened as the city of Leningrad reasserted its moral self.

At the end – silence. Then came the applause, a thunderous applause that lasted over an hour. People cheered and cried. They knew they had witnessed a momentous occasion. It was, as Eliasberg described later, the moment ‘we triumphed over the soulless Nazi war machine.’…

…Years after the war, Eliasberg met some Germans who had been sitting encamped in their trenches outside the city. On hearing the music, they told the conductor, they had burst into tears, ‘Who are we bombing?’ they asked themselves, ‘We will never be able to take Leningrad because the people here are selfless.’ [Source: History in a Minute]

When I get really discouraged, I often think about this symphony of Leningrad. They were starving, dying, and surrounded by forces that wanted to destroy them. And yet, in the face of such evil, they found within themselves the strength to play music. And their music was a force that turned the tide of the war.

So, if you’re feeling discouraged and defeated—don’t quit. Play on, hope on, and move forward. Just like the symphony at Leningrad, the music you play—even in the midst of incredible darkness—can and will turn the tide of your own battles.

May great blessing be yours! Have a wonderful weekend!

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Be the Change You Want to See in the World…

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Do you ever want to see change in the world we live in? Do you want people to be nicer? Do you want your relationships to be stronger and more rewarding? Would you like this world to be a little bit of heaven on earth? I believe that, at times, we all want the world to be better.

Yet, if we look long enough, there are wonderful things about this world and there are wonderful people! This world is full of goodness, inspiration and miracles! We attract those things that we value and cherish!

Yet, evil does exist and will so long as we chose to be participants. If we want the world to be a safe place to be – we must do our part to make it safe. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if everyone in the world chose to be honest, then we would know that we could trust everyone. There was such a time that existed in previous Asian cultures. In that culture, a man’s (woman’s) word was his word. Even on the battle field, if an enemy declared that he would surrender and never come to battle again, they could be trusted to take their arms, go home and never be a threat again.

That kind of world can exist. It is all a matter of choice. Remember that God will always maintain our ability to choose – even if our choices are negligent and/or immoral.

When we choose to be a person who is honest and trustworthy, we choose to bring the world one step closer to paradise. When we choose to allow those who are untrustworthy to suffer the consequences of their actions, we take a giant leap towards the ideal of making the world a heaven on earth.

I believe the world has become apathetic towards violence, dishonesty, and morality. As a result, we live in a world that is more violent, less secure, and where greater unhappiness thrives.

If we want a utopia, we must do our part rather than claim we are an exception from the rules.

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