Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Million Dollar Smile

Each year this organization of men came to the Children's Home Society Orphanage. 

All the boys and girls would get two dollars each. The men would take us in groups of five to downtown Jacksonville, Florida, to do some Christmas shopping.

I remember going with this one gentleman three years in a row. He would take us shopping, then he would ask us if we wanted to go to the movies. I remember watching him closely when we got to the theater. I watched him as he pulled out his wallet to pay for our tickets. He looked over at me and just smiled with his great big smile. During the movie he bought us all the popcorn and candy that we wanted. I remember thinking how wonderful it was that someone would spend their own money on someone like us.

We all laughed at the funny movie and had a really good time. The man would laugh really hard and then he would pat me on the top of the head. Then he would laugh really hard again and reach over and rustle my hair.I would just look at him, and he would just keep smiling with his great big wonderful smile.

That trip to the movies was the first time in my life that I ever felt as if someone really cared about me. It was a wonderful feeling which I have never forgotten, even to this day, decades later. I don't know if that men felt sorry for me, but I do know this: If I ever win the big lottery, that man will find out that he carried a million-dollar smile.

This is why I believe it is so important that organizations and clubs, such as the Shriner's and Jaycees, continue to reach out and help the children who are less fortunate. In my particular case, it was this one man's personal act of kindness that will be remembered for years to come. Just one little simple act of kindness.   

It is these little-tiny acts that will insure that when some confused child goes off the deep end one day, he or she will forever remember that small glimmer of kindness that was shown to them by someone. That little speck of hope, that little dim light of goodness that will forever be stuck somewhere in the far reaches of their confused mind.

I thank you, kind Sir, for a memory which I now share with my children and grandchildren fifty years later.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Keep Your Dream

I have a friend named Monty Robert who owns a horse ranch in San Ysidro. He has let me use his house to put on fund-raising events to raise money for youth at risk programs.

The last time I was there he introduced my by saying, "I wan to tell you why I let Jack use my horse. It all goes back to a story about a young man who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer who would go form stable to stable, race track to race track, farm to farm and ranch to ranch, training horses. As a result, the boy's high school career was continually interrupted. When he was a senior, he was asked to write a paper about what he wanted to be and do when he grew up.

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"That night he wrote a seven-page paper describing his goal of someday owning a horse ranch. He wrote about his dream in great detail and he even drew a diagram of a 200-acre ranch, showing the location of all the buildings, the stables and the track. The he drew a detailed floor plan for a 4,000-square-foot house that would sit on a 200-acre dream ranch.

"He put a great deal of his heart into the project and the next day he handed it into his teacher. Two days later he received his paper back. On the front page was a large red F with a note that read, 'See me after class.'

"The boy with the dream went to see the teacher after class and asked, "Why did I receive an F?"

"The teacher said, 'This is an unrealistic dram for a young boy like you. You have no money. You come form an itinerant family. You have no resources. Owning a horse ranch requires a lot of money. You have to buy the land. You have to pay for the original breeding stock and later you'll have to pay large stud fees. There's no way you could ever do it.' Then the teacher added, "If you will rewrite this paper with a more realistic goal, I will reconsider your grade."

"The boy went home and thought about it long and hard. He asked his father what he should do." His father said, 'Look son, you have to make up your own mind on this. However, I think it is a very important decision for you.' "Finally, after sitting with it for a week, the boy turned in the same paper, making no changes at all."

He stated, "You can keep the F and I'll keep my dream."

Monty then turned to the assembled group and said, "I tell you this story because you are sitting in my 4,000-square-foot house in the middle of my 200-acre horse ranch. I still have that school paper framed over the fireplace." He added, "The best part of the story is that two summers ago that same school teacher brought 30 kids to camp out on my ranch for a week." When the teacher was leaving, he said, "Look, Monty, I can tell you this now. When I was your teacher, I was something of a dream stealer. During those years I stole a lot of kid's dream. Fortunately you had enough gumption not to give up on yours."

"Don't let anyone steal your drams. Follow your heart, no matter what."   

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Monday, June 24, 2019

The Gift from God by Renne R. Vroman

It was a warm summer day when God placed it in her hands. She trembled with emotion as she saw how fragile it appeared. This was a very special gift that God was entrusting to her. A gift that would one day belong to the world. Until then, He instructed her, she was to be its guardian and protector. The woman said she understood and reverently took it home, determined to live up to the faith God had placed in her.

At first she barely let it out of her sight, protecting it form anything she perceived to be harmful to its well-being; watching with fear in her heart when it was exposed to the environment outside of the sheltered cocoon she had formed around it. But the woman began to realize that she could not shelter it forever. It needed to learn to survive the harsh elements in order to grow strong. So with gentle care she gave it more space to grow... enough to allow it to grow wild and untamed.
One day she became aware of how much the gift had changed. It no longer had a look of vulnerability about it. Now it seemed to glow with strength and steadiness, almost as if it were developing a power within. Month after month she watched as it became stronger and more powerful, and the woman remembered her promise. She knew deep within her heart that her time with the gift was nearing an end.

The inevitable day arrived when God came to take the gift and present it to the world. The woman felt a deep sadness, for she would miss its constant presence in her life. With heartfelt gratitude she thanked God for allowing her the privilege of watching over the precious gift for so many years. Straightening her shoulders, she stood proud, knowing that it was, indeed, a very special gift. One that would add to the beauty and essence of the world around it. And the mother let her child go.

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Choice - Story of Wealth, Success and Love

A woman came out of her house and saw three old men with long white boards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them. She said, "I don't think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat."

"Is the man of the house home ?" they asked. "No," she said, "he's out." "Then we cannot come in," they replied. 

In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened.

"Go tell them I am home and invite them in!" The woman went out and invited the men in. "We do not go into a house together," they replied. "Why is that?" she wanted to know. One of the old man explained, "His name is Wealth," said pointing to one of his friends, and said, pointing to another one, "He is success, and I am love." then he added, "Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home."

The Choice - Story of Wealth, Success and Love 

The woman went in and told her husband what was said. He husband was overjoyed. "How nice!" he said. "since that is the case, let us invite wealth. Let him come in and fill our home with wealth!" His wife disagreed. "My dear, why don't we invite Success?" Their daughter-in-law was listening from another corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion: "Would it not be better to invite Love" Our home will then be filled with love!" "Let us heed our daughter-in-law's advice," said the husband to his wife." Go out and invite Love to be our guest!." The woman went out and asked the three old man, "Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest." Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other two also got up and followed him. Surprised the woman asked Wealth and Success: "I only invite Love, why are you coming in?" The old man replied together: " If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would have stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever he goes, we go with him. Wherever there is Love, there is Wealth and Success!!!"

"Where there is pain, we with you peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubting, we wish you a renewed confidence in your ability to work through it. Where there is tiredness, or exhaustion, we wish you understanding, patience, and renewed strength. Where there is fear, we wish you love, and courage."

Peace to all.

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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Big Rocks of Life

One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and to derive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget.

As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz," and he pulled out a one gallon wide mouth mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. He also produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?"

 

Everyone in the class yelled, "Yes". The time management expert replied, "Really?"  He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some of the gravel in and shook the jar causing the pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. He then asked the class once more if the jar was full.

By this time the class was on to him and said "Probably not."

"Good" he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand and started dumping it into the jar. The sand went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked if the jar was full.

"NO!" the class shouted. Once again he said "Good" and grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it into the jar until the jar was filled to the brim.

Then he looked around the room and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is that no matter how full your schedule its, if you try really hard you can always fit some more in."

"NO", the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth is that this illustration teaches us that if you don't put the 'big rocks' in first, you'll never get them in at all."
 

What are the 'big rocks' in your life? Time with our loved ones, your faith, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching or mentoring others. Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first, or you'll never get them in at all. So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the BIG ROCKS in my life?

Then, put those in your jar first." 

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Friday, June 21, 2019

I tried to climb the Mountain today by Gary Barnes

I tried to climb the mountain today. As I inched my way the path, I felt overwhelmed, so I had to turn back.

I tried to climb the mountain today. On my journey, darkness started to fall, and I was full of fear, so I had to return to a safe place.

I was ready to climb the mountain today. But it was so hot outside, I thought I better stay in my nice air-conditioned house and rest up for tomorrow's attempt.

I was about to climb the mountain today. But I had so many other things to do, so instead of climbing the mountain I took of much more important tasks. I washed my car, mowed the grass and watched the big game. Today the mountain will just have to wait. 

I was going to climb the mountain today. But as I started at the mountain in it's majestic beauty, I knew I stood no chance of making it to the top, so I figured why even bother trying.

https://www.successcolors.com/2019/06/i-tried-to-climb-mountain-today-by-gary.html 

I have forgotten about climbing the mountain today; until a friend came by and asked me what I was up to lately. I told him I was thinking about climbing that mountain some day. I went on and on about how I was going to accomplish this task.

Finally, he said, "I just got back from climbing the mountain. For the longest time I told myself I was trying to climb the mountain but never made any progress. I almost let the dream of making it to the top die. I came up with every excuse of why I could not make it up the mountain, but never once did I give myself a reason why I could. One day as I started at the mountain and pondered, I realized that if I didn't make an attempt at this dream all my dreams will eventually die."

"The next morning, I started my climb." He continued, "It was not easy, and at times I wanted to quit. But no matter what I faced, I placed one foot in front of the other, keeping a steady pace. When the wind tried to blow me over the edge, I kept walking. When the voices inside my head screamed "stop!" I focused on my goal never letting it out of sight, and I kept moving forward. At times, I was ready to quit, but I knew I had come too far. Time and time again, I reassured myself that I was going to finish this journey. I struggled to make it to the top, but I climbed the mountain!"

"I have to be going," my friend said. "Tomorrow is a new day to accomplish more dreams. By the way, what are you going to do tomorrow?"

I looked at him, with intensity and confidence in my eyes, and said, "I have a mountain to climb." 

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Best Interview by P.L. Sweeney

Yesterday is a day that I won't forger for a long time. My 9-year-old daughter had told me yesterday morning that one of her year-younger fiends (third grade) wanted to interview me for a school assignment. Wow! A third-grader wants to interview me! I was thrilled. All during the day, I was anticipating questions and how I would respond. "How did you become Cyber Sis?" I could hear her ask. "How many hours do you work on the column?" was another obvious question. "How many readers do you have?" might pop in there as a candidate.
I prepared to field most questions she could throw at me with responses that would be comprehended by 8 year old children. Nothing too complicated. Nothing too condescending. A tough job, if you really think abut it.

https://www.successcolors.com/2019/06/the-best-interview-by-pl-sweeney.html


While shopping at a fresh produce stand, I imagined all the similes and metaphors I could use (for comedic effect) using fruit. "What do you think of your work?", answered with "It's a peach!" "How do you think people see you?", to be followed with "I'm a watermelon -- hard on the outside, but soft at the center." All day long, the muted excitement built.

I even changed clothes, just to appear "fresher" for the interview. When I went to the bus stop, I was primed! Upon returning home, I offered the girls after school refreshments. Anxious to begin, I asked Kayla where she would like to hold the interview.

She said, "Oh, it's okay. I don't need to interview you. I found somebody else."

Crestfallen (to say the very least) I replied, "Oh, really? Who did you get to interview?" trying to mentally size up the competition. She said, "Oh, just my mother's boss's mother."
"Really?" was my catchy comeback. "And what type of work does She do?" "I don't think she works. She's in a rest home." Not seeing any relationship between the targeted interview subjects, I asked, "Why did you happen to close her?"
"I had to interview somebody really old, around 50, who could tell me about life in the 1960's. She looks a lot older than you do!"she casually commented, munching on carrot sticks. 

And that was the best interview I never had..  

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Red Marbles - An Important Message in Life

During the waning years of the depression in a small southeastern Idaho community, I used to stop by Brother Miller's roadside stand for farm-fresh produce as the season made it available.

Food and money were still extremely scare and bartering was used, extensively. One particular day Brother Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me.

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I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a basket for freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas.

I am pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Brother Miller and the ragged boy next to me.
"Hello Barry, how are you today?"
"Hello, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas...... sure look good."
"They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?"
"Fine. Git tin' stronger alla'time." 
"Good. Anything I can help you with."
"No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas."
"Would you like to take some home?"
"No, Sir. Hot nu thin' to pay for 'em with."

"Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?"
"All I got's my prize Aggie ? best taw around here."
"Is that right? Let me see it."
"Here 'tis. She's a dandy.
"I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red.

Do you have a red one like this at home?"
"Not zackley... but, almost."
"Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red taw."
"Sure will. Thanks, Mr. Miller."

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said: "There are two other boys like him in our community; all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever.
When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decided he doesn't like red after all and he send them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange on, perhaps."

I left the stand, smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Utah but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys and their bartering. 

Several years went by each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Brother Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them.

Upon our arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. A head of us in line were three young men. 
One was in an Army uniform and other two wore short haircuts, dark suits and white shirts, obviously potential or returned missionaries.

They approached Mrs. Miller, standing smiling and composed, by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket.

Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary, awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes glistening she took my hand and led me to the casket. "This is an amazing coincidence," she said. "Those three young men, that just left, were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim "traded" them.

Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size....they came to pay their debt. We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world," she confided, "but, right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho."

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three, magnificently shiny, red marbles. 
    
The moral:
We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. 

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Sioux Indian Story

"My grandfather took me to the fish pond on the farm when I was about seven, and he told me to throw a stone into the water. He told me to watch the circles created by the stone. Then he asked me to think of myself as that stone person.

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"You may create lots of splashes in your life but the waves that come from those splashes will disturb the peace of all your fellow creatures," he said.

"Remember that you are responsible for what you put in your circle and that circle will also touch many other circles. You will need to live in a way that allows the good that comes from your circle to send the peace of that goodness to others. The splash that comes from anger or jealousy will send those feelings to other circles. You are responsible for both."

That was the first time I realized each person creates the inner peace or discord that flows out into the world. We cannot create world peace if we are riddled with inner conflict, hatred, doubt or anger. We radiate the feelings and thoughts that we hold inside, whether we speak them or not. Whatever is splashing around inside of us is spilling out into the world, creating beauty or discord with all other circles of life. 

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Thief by Larry Harp

I remember as a small child when we would have these gatherings with either family or friends. Invariably someone would come up and mention my "cuteness" and ask, "What are you going to be when you grow up?"

Well, it started out being a cowboy or some super hero. Later it was fireman, policeman, lawyer... As I grew older my dreams of the future changed. When, at last, I was in college, I was asked, "What will you major in?" Another question designed to find out what I would be when I "grew up."

https://www.successcolors.com/2019/06/thief-by-larry-harp.html 

By then I had my heart set on becoming a preacher as my father before me. So I studied and prepared for that life. I reached success in that endeavor. I was preaching nearly full-time for much of my adult life. Physical disability keeps me from plying my trade full-time anymore, but I still am called upon to preach here and there. I am content that I could realize my dream and perhaps have a positive influence on someone's life. My kids are now reaching their dreams and it thrills me to watch them achieve their goals.

However, for many, there is a "thief" which goes around stealing our dreams and robbing us of the necessary mental state to attain our goals.

Sometimes, the thief will come as a parent, a relative, a friend or a co-worker, but the greatest thief is, so many times, just ourselves.

We find ourselves just about reaching the pinnacle, and this "small" voice inside says, "You'll never make it." "You can't possibly do this." "Very few have ever done this successfully." And on an don the "small" voice predicts some kind of failure. Failure, though, is exactly how dreams are realized. It is one of the most important tools we have, because it teaches us invaluable lessons. And, when we learn these lessons well, we are poised and ready for success, which is probably just around the corner.

The message I always gave my children was, you are capable of doing anything our heart desires. You are smart enough, good-looking enough, strong enough, and worthy of reaching the starts. The human spirit is indomitable. Remember the saying, "If you can conceive it, and your heart can believe it, you can achieve it."

There are no "overnight" successes, but with perseverance, it will come. Imagine yourself in the life you dream of living. Then in your heart, believe it will happen for you, as it has for others. Then work, work, work, work. You get the picture.

So, be true to your dream, and don't let anyone steal it form you -- especially yourself. You can do anything your heart desires, so don't give up or give in. Let the dream in you live.   

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