Inexpressible Joy

Inexpressible Joy

“Resolve to keep happy and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”–Helen Keller

I love this picture.  This baby finds joy in simply being, in the act of self-discovery.

I have been feeling sad.  I found out today my Grandfather has days to live and I cant get to him in time.  I am so grateful he has had 97 wonderful years.  He has been such an example of living an active full life.  In his 80’s he went white water rafting and drove cross country.  Yes, he actually was driving up unto around two years ago.  He was walking miles a day in his early 90’s and keeping fully alive.  He always loved learning and had his own way of living, he always lived life on his terms.

So why am I writing about joy while I am mourning.  I guess I just realize that as Helen Keller says, it is a resolve, a choice to keep happy and joyful regardless of the circumstances; joy and gratitude give you the strength to withstand and the difficulties of life.  So I thought I would write about joy to remind myself that joy comes from a place of love.  I love my Grandfather so much.  He always was so happy to see me, I knew I was loved, and I dedicate this post to him.

Like this child we can find joy in exploring ourselves and seeing the beauty within.  I have been learning and growing so much lately.  I truly love who I am becoming.  I have to say there is much work left to do but boy am I loving the journey of self-discovery.  To be able to look at yourself and see yourself and truly love yourself is something to be joyful about.  I can be happy and joyful for the gift of my journey into deeper self-discovery, just like the baby in the picture.

Today I was reminded of a pact I made with my Grandfather.  The last time I saw him he told me he wanted me to get healthy physically and lose weight.  I said “I want you to be around to see me do it”.  He said, “It is a deal, I will stick around and you get healthy so I can see you live your life.”  I know he may not be around to see me in this life but I will keep my part of the pact so he can see me get healthy and living his dream for me as he watches over me.  So Grandpa, I will be loving myself more, and taking better care of me.  Thanks for all the love and joy!

Faith is Not Belief Without Proof, But Trust Without Reservation

Faith is Not Belief Without Proof, But Trust Without Reservation

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

I have been thinking of the beauty in the faith of a child.  It is so pure, so innocent and so simple.  I have always had great faith, it is what has gotten me through the darkest times.  As I grow in my spirituality and learn more each day I can’t help thinking how much people over think things.  The more I learn the more I realize how simple it is.  I read this story which, I received though weboflove.org and it moved me.  I want to encourage each of us including me, to remember, it is really simple.  Too me it is all about love; love God, love others and love ourselves.  Everything else comes as a result of living your life that way.  I hope this story inspires you and moves you as it did for me.

Kevin’s World

By Kelly Adkins

I envy Kevin.

My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that’s what I heard

him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped

outside his closed door to listen. “Are you there, God?” he said. “Where are

you? Oh, I see. Under the bed.” I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room.

Kevin’s unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night

something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the

very different world Kevin lives in.

Kevin was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties

during labor. Apart from his size (6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is

an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and

he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed,

that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas,

and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied

with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for

the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite

macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in the

entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like

a mother with her newborn child.

Kevin does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05,

eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water

boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather

our dirty laundry for his next day’s laundry chores. And Saturdays–oh, the

bliss of Saturdays! That’s the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a

soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of

each passenger inside. “That one’s goin’ to Chi-car-go!” Kevin shouts as he

claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday

nights.

And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn’t know

what it means to be discontent. His life is simple. He will never know the

entanglements of wealth or power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he

wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never

worries that one day they may not be. His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so

happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the

carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is

begun, nor does he leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are

done, Kevin knows how to relax.

Kevin is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure. He

still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are

wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with

appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is

always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God. Not confined by

intellectual reasoning, he approaches his faith as a child. Kevin seems to know

God–to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an “educated”

person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.

In my moments of doubt and frustrations, I envy the security Kevin has in his

simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine

knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.

It is then I realize that perhaps Kevin is not the one with the handicap–I am.

My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances–they all become

disabilities when I don’t trust them to God’s care. Who knows if Kevin

comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in

that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love

of God. And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened and we are all

amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I may realize just how much God

heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed. Yet

Kevin won’t be surprised at all!

Pay It Forward: Show a Little Act of Kindness Today

Pay It Forward: Show a Little Act of Kindness Today

“Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him.”  ~Albert Schweitzer

So often we get caught up in the minutia of our lives and lose sight of those around us who could benefit from a caring word or an act of kindness.  Life is messy and we need to allow our mess to become our message.  We all have struggles, bad days and moments of frustration that can cause us to forget the blessings that fill our lives.  It is more than a choice it is act of sheer will to keep ourselves in a state of gratitude that recognizes that we have so much that we can’t even count our blessings if we tried.

You know when you were a kid and you did not want to finish your food and your parents promptly reminded you of all those starving kids in China.  The last couple of weeks my computer has been beyond dysfunctional.  It has been so frustrating trying to get all the things I’ve needed to do, done.  I was really annoyed.  I had to keep reminding myself how lucky I was.  As Max Lucado said in Six Hours One Friday, “I am crying over spilt champagne.”  There are people who don’t have shoes, cloths, food, or homes and I am annoyed because I am having problems with my computer in my air conditioned apartment, clothed with a full belly.

All that energy wasted grumbling and belly aching being full of all that negativity, for what?  I could have been using the extra time and energy encouraging someone, serving someone in need, and stepping out of my comfort zone long enough to show some kindness and love to someone who needed it more than me.  That is why I included the story below.  I hope it inspires you to put things in perspective the next time you see you’re day take a wrong turn.  Instead of having a pity party because you have some inconveniences and struggles, be grateful for your blessings and pay it forward.  Someone out there may just need a random act of kindness or a gentle reminder that we are more than our circumstances, more than you right now.

When I first started this blog I decided to include inspirational stories, poems and videos that teach love, empowerment and tolerance.  I have volumes to say on the subject and hope to inspire you and to encourage you to love and empower others in your world as well.  When I came across this beautiful piece of writing (shown below) that says it so eloquently I believe it deserves to be shared.  I received it from the web of love email I received from a site that is accomplishing what I hope to accomplish, spread the love, check it out at www.weboflove.org

Love is in the Moment

By Annie

It was early morning, yet already it had been a stupendously bad day. One thing after another. The downward spiral continued when a large pitcher of orange juice slid from my hands and smashed to the floor. Glass and sticky juice spewed to the farthest corners of the kitchen, slithering down cabinets and appliances, puddling at my feet.

Stunned, I looked at the mess. Then I dropped dejectedly down to the floor, my eyes filling with overdue tears. The tears came from begrudging and angry acceptance that “today is just not my day.”

Bad day or not, errands had to be done. Filled with angst and negative mental baggage, I got in my car to drive into town. In the few minutes it took to travel to the bank I made a decision. I would be careful not to pass my bad day off to anyone else. I would be cordial and polite. And I would NOT retaliate when that harried driver pulled quickly and rudely in front of me causing me to slam on my breaks, dumping the contents of my drink onto the front car seat!

Standing in line at the bank, I was silently talking to myself. Actually, I was scolding myself. All of the events that had accumulated and contributed to my bad day were, in reality, so very minor and trivial. I was over-reacting. I was indulging in self-pity. I tried to imagine the innumerable, individual lives that had been affected by 9/11, by war, by hurricances, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

For the second time that day my eyes filled with tears as I realized how disconnected I felt from all those individuals who are trying to cope with truly traumatic events in their lives. They all seemed so distant and unknowable, and this justified and intensified my belief that I was being self-centered and selfish. I was sure that all my efforts to be a caring and loving person were for naught.

A voice broke through my mental distractions. Somehow I had mechanically finished my bank transaction and the teller was trying to get my attention. “Young lady,” she was saying, “Young lady!”

I looked up and into the eyes of the bank teller, a silver-haired grandmother with a gentle beauty. Her keen eyes reflected concern as she leaned forward and softly said, “I don’t know what is happening inside of you, but please, believe me when I tell you that – everything will be okay.”

And then she did something quite marvelous. My hands were resting on the counter. She took her hands and placed them gently on top of mine. The touch was quick but electric. And in that moment my world shifted.

In the moment of her touch my self-doubt vanished. I found understanding and acceptance. I knew that love was being channeled through the heart of this beautiful woman directly into my heart. I was infused with a profound awareness – that I am loved. I was speechless. I smiled. It was my first smile of the day. But it would not be my last, as from that moment on my entire day was transformed.

Perhaps without even knowing it, the kind-hearted bank teller allowed herself to be a conduit of divine love. She was instrumental in transforming a day that seemed destined to be a day of tears into a day of smiles. The seemingly small gesture of a this gentle woman not only changed the course of my day, it became a powerful reminder in my life. The profound effect of that one simple, loving touch remains in my heart to this day.

More people than not scoff at the idea of world peace. Laugh if you wish. As for myself, I believe it is possible to transform our world … one act of loving kindness at a time. Remember: A simple smile. A warm handshake. A kind word. A gentle hug. Through these, we open the transformative power of love.
Note: See Annie’s website and her book, Love: My Search for Truth:
http://www.metarev.com/client/lovemysearch

Attitude of Gratitude

Attitude of Gratitude

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say “thank you?”  ~William A. Ward

When we stop to think about how much we have to be grateful for it really boggles the mind.  We take so many things for granted.  It breaks my heart when people say they have nothing to be thankful for.  I find myself saying thank you all day long.

Even when times are hard or we face challenges we can be grateful.  A few weeks ago I had to take a cat scan and as part of this particular test I had to keep my arms over my head through the entire procedure and not move.  I had dislocated and torn my shoulder a few years back and I never got full range of motion back.  It was excruciatingly painful to hold it in place over my head for 10 minutes a pop, three times.  The whole time in my head I remember I just kept saying thank you, thank you that I have my arms, thank you that I can feel pain, thank you that technology like this exists and I can access it… It made such a difference in how I felt.

“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.”

– Eileen Caddy

It is like a cup.  If you fill a cup with gratitude and you can’t find any room to squeeze in complaining and griping.  If you are grateful you overflow with joy.  It is so easy to think about all the things we have to be grateful for.  You just need to start.  I like to do gratitude lists when I feel discouraged.  By the time I reach 100 I can’t remember what I was upset about.  Try it out!

We all have so many blessings.  Yet we can find ourselves focusing on the things we do not like instead of realizing how lucky we are to even have them.  We may not like our house.  But we can choose to be thankful to have a home.  We may not like our fat thighs but we can be thankful we have legs and can walk.  There are so many people who don’t know whether they are going to be able to feed their children, today.  Are you complaining your toast is too burnt?  Hate your commute to work, thank God you have a job, thank God you don’t have to walk 2 hours a day each way, somewhere in the world someone does.

One of my Shero’s of all time, the most amazing woman, is Helen Keller.  She was not only blind but deaf also.  I imagine that things were a challenge for her every day.  One of my favorite quotes is by her, she said, “So much has been given to me I don’t have time to think of that which has been denied.”  Amazing!

No matter what our situation, we can find our blessings.  Sometimes you can start with thank you that I can breathe.  Even if you have to breathe through a machine, you get to breathe.  You are alive and as long as you are alive, you have hope.  Think of all those people who died fighting for every last second.  You get to live!

I want us not only to recognize how much we miss focusing on the negative but also by being to busy to notice a child’s smile.  We need to not get so busy that we forget to notice all the gifts and blessings that are around us each day.  What do you take for granted?  Do you notice rainbows, sunsets the sound of the rain?  Take time to notice all that is around you and be grateful, and why not just for the heck of it, say thank you.