A Grandparent’s Touch

Baby and Grandmother

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 4:9

The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is complex. They store the past, celebrate the past and become a memory in the future. In this age of technology growth we may have gain instant information but we have missed out on the simple niceties of life. Holding a face to face conversation with someone, the physical response to conversation creates additional depth that cannot be felt through a text. Grandparents and grandchildren’s relationships comprises of a more lenient and compassionate element. The grandparents recognizes the speed in which time is passing and the grandchild feels love and support from this family teacher that establishes a solid self-esteem. It also supports that the connection allows for the relationship to change over the time so that the one who needed support while growing up can now reciprocate to the caregiver as they age.

The relationship between a grandchild and grandparent is a very special one. While grandparents act as an authority figure and provide unconditional love, they also get to spoil their grandkids in a way parents simply can’t. But beyond that, grandparents also wield incredible influence. Here are 10 things grandchildren can learn from their grandparents.

World History

Children can find out what it was like to grow up during the Great Depression or World War II from grandparents who experienced life during that time. Personal stories are much easier to remember than lists of names and dates from books.

Teaching a new skill

When they were growing up, many grandparents learned practical skills such as sewing, gardening, baking, farming or woodworking. These are great things to pass on to grandchildren, as they may not be commonly taught anymore, but are still very useful talents to possess. They also understand how to use an item or product fully, teaching recycling in a practical way.

Wisdom

Life lessons and other advice delivered by grandparents have more validation because they’ve often lived through the same or similar experience — possibly more than once.

Family History

Everyone has those old black and white pictures of unknown relatives or family friends, but grandma and grandpa may actually know where they were taken, the history behind the picture and who those mystery people are. Resource for your family tree — who are their siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles? You’ll know about tons of family members you didn’t know existed, even stories about their parents that the parent may not want told!

Humor

Teasing is a part of growing up, but when it comes from someone who loves you unconditionally, it’s way more enjoyable. Learning jokes and pranks from your grandparents is a great way to bond with them and understand how to react if you’re teased by your own peer group.

Listening

Many young children are used to their parents listening to everything they say, and they expect others will do the same. While this is often normal for young children, it’s important for them to learn how to listen to others as well. Listening to their grandparents reminisce about the past teaches the children how to listen and participate in a conversation.

Games

Playing card and board games instead of video games encourages successful social interaction. Learning to share, play fair and understand how to be a good winner are important life lessons that will serve they well in their life.

Emotional Support

Having a sounding board who doesn’t spend every day with you, like a parent or guardian does, can be invaluable when you’re trying to navigate the teenage years. Amy Kelly of Libby, Montana says,

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Grandparents have lived long enough to realize not to get upset over the little things; life is too short. Young grandchildren think everything is hyper-important, but can learn to adjust their priorities after discussing problems with their grandparents, who have a broader world view.

Snail Mail

The art of letter writing is fading. It’s great practice for kids who are learning how to write. Purchase postcards, stationery and stamps and set up some pen pal time with your grandparents and you can each send postcards, letters or souvenirs about is going on in their lives. You’ll both have a great time waiting for the next letter to come in the mail, and grow closer in the process.

The Angelus by Millet

The Angelus

    God grants each of a special set of gifts, one of the most amazing gifts to me is the ability to depict an everyday occurrence in a profound manner that it causes you to stop and reflect on what you are seeing or experiencing. It could be by book, film, photographs, drawing or painting. This painting is a wonderful depiction of giving praise to God.  The subject matter always makes me stop and look a little closer to the painting. The subject is beautiful:  a man and a woman are reciting the Angelus in a quiet field. Because they have paused in the middle of working, all the tools of their labor–a potato fork, basket, sacks, and a wheelbarrow–are right beside them. What is the meaning behind the name of the painting, The Angelus is?

Millet reportedly wrote of the painting, “The idea for The Angelus came to me because I remembered that my grandmother, hearing the church bell ringing while we were working in the fields, always made us stop work to say the Angelus prayer for the poor departed very religiously and with cap in hand.”

The painter, Jean François Millet, was born in Gruchy near Gréville on Oct. 4, 1814. His parents were peasants, and he grew up working on a farm. In 1837 Millet moved to Paris to study painting. To learn the traditions of classical and religious painting, he entered the studio of Paul Delaroche, a successful academic imitator of the revolutionary romanticist Eugène Delacroix. He and Delacroix were not a successful pairing but Millet stayed on in Paris, supporting himself by making pastel reproductions of rococo masters, occasional oil portraits, and commercial signs. During the 1840s Millet’s painting gradually shifted from classical and religious subjects to scenes of the rural and peasant life with which he was familiar. As it did, he gained increasing support and recognition from other painters in his generation. Among these were Narcisse Diaz de la Peña and Théodore Rousseau, two landscape painters who were instrumental in forming the loose association of artists known as the Barbizon school. Millet and the other Barbizon artists resisted the grand traditions of classical and religious painting, preferring a direct, unaffected confrontation with the phenomena of the natural world. During the 1830s and 1840s their works were generally regarded as crude, unfinished, and unacceptable to the official tastes of the Parisian Salons. After mid-century, however, the Barbizon artists slowly gained increasing recognition, and their achievement became an important inspiration for the younger generation of impressionists. Millet moved to Barbizon in 1848. The village was his home for the rest of his life, and he died there on Jan. 20, 1875.

The story the Angelus tells is first of all one of willingness, of actively embracing a task at hand, just as Mary rose to her calling as Mother of God. She not only conceived but, as the prayer continues, exclaimed, Be it done unto me according to thy word. Second, the prayer is one of embodiment and immanence: And the Word became flesh / And dwelt among us. This is an old devotion that was already well established 700 years ago. The Angelus originated with the 11th-century monastic custom of reciting three Hail Marys during the evening, or Compline, bell. The first written documentation stems from Italian Franciscan monk Sinigardi di Arezzo (died 1282). Franciscan monasteries in Italy document the use in 1263 and 1295. The current form of the Angelus prayer is included in a Venetian Catechism from 1560. The older usages seem to have commemorated the resurrection of Christ in the morning, his suffering at noon and the annunciation in the evening.  In 1269, St Bonaventure urged the faithful to adopt the custom of the Franciscans of saying three Hail Marys as the Compline bell was rung. The picture, even after interrupting work with a divine injunction, the prayer insists that the divine is also present in the people and things at hand, however fleshy and messy they appear. Upon returning to work, then, we take that incarnation with us.

From the tones of the colors, the humbleness of the people and the innocence of the surroundings this painting express a devotion and commitment to their Faith. That is always a beautiful thing.

The Milk of Human Kindness

This time of season fills me with anticipation of celebrating with my family and visiting with friends. To appreciation the frailty of these numbered gatherings, storing these memories to be revisited each year as the old generations pass and the new ones become part of the family cycle.

One of my favoChristmas Carolrite Christmas movies/books is the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In all of its versions – musical, depressions era, cartoons, even the Muppets, the message is the same. In A Christmas Carol, compassion is the main ingredient in the kindness and generosity cake that Dickens seems to crave. Scrooge is able to see the contrast between those people who are willing to feel pity towards him (his ex-fiancée, his nephew, his clerk) and those who coldly dismiss him as he does them (fellow business people, his servants, the pawn shop owner). Then he reaches deep inside himself and finds the empathy that’s he’s been repressing, and he’s flooded with the milk of human kindness toward those around him. After that, he is transformed into someone who can put himself into the shoes of others, and even forgive them for their misdeeds. In other words, he’s now one of the people who are emotionally best equipped to live life.

We all know a Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Nephew Fred and Fezziwig, we even can say that we are each a bit of these characters at one time or another.  Just maintain a balance that always allows us to emphasize with the people around us, and to assist others when they need help. Each time I watch a version of the Christmas Carol the message brightens my Holiday season, with the sense of generosity being exhibited. The novel’s most famous line is Tiny Tim’s prayer, “God bless us every one.” The novel centers on a Christian holiday and the Christian virtue of charity. Church bells ring out at key moments, and the crowds in the street dutifully heed their call to worship. The novel even ends with a kind of conversion, when Scrooge decides to start loving his neighbor as himself. Who wouldn’t applaud that?

I will end with a quote, one that shows the transformation of Scrooge. “He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk—that anything—could give him so much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew’s house.” (5.47). I hope all of you have a moment this Holiday season where you and Scrooge can share a moment of happiness.

 

Gratitude

fall_autumn_thanksgiving_cards

Be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father. Ephesians 5:18-20

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I begin to think about the blessings in my life. A game we play is after we have had to vent about a situation we list three blessings. What this does is it reduces the stress from the bad situation by replacing it with positivity. It surprises me how quickly counting blessings can lighten your day. That lead me to thinking about how grateful I should be for all I have. There is always someone somewhere who has it worst then you. As Abraham Lincoln liked to say, this too shall pass, so focus on the positive aspects in your life and learn from the bad situations.

While researching this topic I came across several points of view as to how it can benefit us as individuals and as a group.  There is a project called Operation Gratitude that express thank you to all that serve. That does not just apply to the armed forces, it includes the Wounded Heroes Program, First Responders, Disaster Relief and Care packages for Care Givers to name a few. Its catch phrase is Operation Gratitude and it continues its dual mission both in expressing gratitude to our Military and First Responder communities, and to provide every American that opportunity to say “Thank You.

Gratitude is a selfless act. Gratitude acts are done unconditionally to show to people that they are appreciated, not because people are looking for something in return; however, that is not to say that people do not return the favor. Gratitude can be contagious, in a good way.

Gratitude promotes reciprocity. Someone performs an act of gratitude for another person, and in turn, that person may be motivated to do something gracious for the former person, or continue the favor for a stranger.

After all, acts of gratitude aren’t only for people that you know! A common contemporary phrase that people are familiar with is, “paying it forward.”

Though, paying it forward does not obligate you to reciprocate if you cannot, but it does spread positivity via gratitude.

According to Dr. Robert Emmons, the feeling of gratitude involves two stages (2003):

  1. First comes the acknowledgment of goodness in one’s life. In a state of gratitude, we say yes to life. We affirm that all in all, life is good, and has elements that make it not just worth living, but rich with texture and detail. The acknowledgment that we have received something gratifies us, both by its presence and by the effort the giver put into choosing it.
  2. Second, gratitude is recognizing that some of the sources of this goodness lie outside the self. At this stage, the object of gratitude is other-directed; one can be grateful to other people, to animals, and to the world, but not to oneself. At this stage, we recognize not only the goodness in our lives, but who is to thank for it, and who has made sacrifices so that we could be happy.

Practicing gratitude can decrease levels of depression and anxiety (Kashdan & Breen, 2007). Of course, having lower levels of stress, depression, and anxiety may aid in having higher levels of well-being. If a major objective of positive psychology is to increase levels of well-being, these findings show the value of gratitude in positive psychology investigations. Try this link for several exercises that promote gratitude. https://daringtolivefully.com/gratitude-exercises.

So this Thanksgiving, while you are enjoying your feast, count the blessings in your life and share your gratitude with your loved ones. By brightening someone else’s day you reap the benefits.

Finding out about your family history

“Let your roots grow down into Him and then let your lives be built on Him then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught you will overflow with Thankfulness.”

Colossians 2:7

We have all seem a family tree, with names and birth & death dates listed. The information is there but what does it mean to you, how can you relate to the information? We all are a combination of genetics, family history, upbringing and our own personal experiences. Wouldn’t it be interesting to add details to your ancestors? Information gathered from the traditional means of libraries and archives but also conversations with people who actually knew them. You can also create an audio/visual family tree. Your tree interpretation may not be an actually tree but an album that states the basic information along with description of what is happening in the photography or during that time of their lives.

First, write down all the information you have about yourself. See the chart listed below to use as a guide. The more information you fill in you can easily see what needs to be researched.

Family Tree

After listing your information in the family tree add the information that includes birth and death dates, locations of significant events in their lives. Such has marriages, birth of their children, etc.) This will help when you begin to do more in-depth research on your ancestors.

Take advantage of some of your readily available resources. Look at old photo albums and look for comments that may have been made alongside or on the back of the photos. Take pictures of the photographs to uploaded later to your computer and add to your research. Next, make a list of questions to ask your grandmother or great aunt their mothers but also encourage them to talk about themselves and their children. Recording the conversation will ensure that nothing is missed.

Once you have gather information next try and plug the information into several web sites to get more information. See the list below for ones that have free searches available.

  1. com
  2. Access Genealogy.com
  3. The Olive Tree
  4. Family Search
  5. Family Tree Searcher
  6. Genealogy Today
  7. S. National Archives
  8. K. National Archives
  9. US GenWeb Project
  10. WorldGenWeb Project

Also, try this link for additional ways to gather information, Finding Your Ancestors in Vital Records.

Good luck and have fun!

Taking the High Road

Kindness“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think of these things”. Philippians 4:8

Sometimes we allow other people and circumstances dictate how we see ourselves and we search to find something to help ease the stress/pain. While researching this article I find several factors on how to deal with negativity based on perspective, health status and mind set. Below I will share the highlights from my research.

Perspective – I describe this section being about how individuals see a situation differently. No one can change another person in a situation, the only way to alter the situation is for someone to change their interpretation of the situation.

  1. Don’t sweat things that you cannot directly control – We have to accept that there are things out of our control that we cannot change. To fight against something we can’t change just increases stress and frustration in our life.
  2. Take pleasure in the simple things – We have to learn to appreciate what we have, to count our blessings when we lose ourselves in the drive for material possessions.
  3. Turning misfortunate into something positive – As Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” It is easy to focus on a negative event occurring in our lives, to feel desperation and hopelessness. By finding a positive aspect we develop an ability to lessen our reaction to negativity and come away with a new understanding on how we deal with life roadblocks and come out the other side better for it.
  4. Don’t whine about a problem, be proactive and find a way to make it better – Face the problem and figure out how to make it better or come up with a plan to ensure that it does not happen again. There can be a quick solution or a life style change, commit yourself to change for the betterment of your life.

Mindset – How you have trained your mind and emotions to react together to affect a positive attitude to life. This video is very powerful, demonstrating that you can affect a positive change with just a change of attitude. https://www.facebook.com/foundr/videos/1072402526193820/

  1. Love yourself, respect yourself and accept your self-worth. Recognize that you are a worthy individual and that people will respond to you based on your own self-esteem. Be proud of who you are, your successes and celebrate your abilities.
  2. Practice your will power muscle. Set a goal, follow through and celebrate the accomplishment. It won’t be easy and you probably won’t want to do it, but it will pay off in the end.
  3. The world does not revolve around you, connect with others in a positive and compassionate manner. You can get great satisfaction by doing a kindness for another.
  4. Do not dwell on past negative experiences, worrying about how you would do it different now, guilt and regret do not help you get through the experience. Determine and resilience will help you to focus on a brighter future.

Physical – How does your body feel today? If you do not take care of your body it can affect how you respond to negative influences.

  1. Sleep allows you to recharge for the next day. Even quick power naps can help reduce stress and improve your ability to overcome obstacles.
  2. By making any decisions in an emotional state, you are most likely going to do something that you regret. Always insist on not making any decisions about how you are going to handle this negative person until you have had at least one night’s sleep or ideally a weekend to recover.
  3. Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks and non-nutritional foods. Water, fresh fruits and nuts help to maintain a positive outlook
  4. Watch your favorite movie, drop your troubles on the floor and enjoy. Once you are relaxed you can pick up your issues again and see them through different eyes. Sometimes stepping away and coming back changes your perspective.

This last section is dealing with being a caregiver. It is one of the most stressful and rewarding time(s) of your life. The bond you will form will metamorphose into a relationship that will test your endurance, change your view on life and show you how large your heart truly is. I found this article on line by Anne-Marie Botek from Impressions magazine. http://impressions.locable.com/2012/07/26/1637/6-tricks-for-rising-above-negativity. Below is a synopsis of the article

Caregiver rising

Since human caregivers lack wings, (though their dedication to their loved ones certainly qualifies them for a pair) they can’t physically fly away from their problems.

What they can do, according to Waterman, is practice being grateful for the good things in their lives—even when these things are nearly impossible to recognize. “Even if you aren’t feeling positive or grateful about your situation, you can enact certain behaviors and the [grateful] attitudes and feelings will follow,” she says.

Here are a few tips to help caregivers find their wings of gratitude and rise above negative emotions:

  1. Thank your mortal guardian angels: Whether or not you refer to them as guardian angels, every caregiver has people in their lives that love and support them. These are the people who’ve gotten you through past trials, or are currently helping you cope with the challenge of caring for your loved one. Taking the time to thank these folks will not only make them feel good, but it is also likely to generate a host of positive feelings within you as well. When expressing your gratitude, Waterman says that face-to-face interactions are best because they can provide a more powerful positive response. But, if time and distance prohibit you from thanking your earth-bound angel in person, a hand-written thank you note will certainly suffice.
  2. Share your light: Ward touts the power of smiling and greeting the people you see on the street or in the grocery store. Even if you don’t know someone personally, Ward says that when you say ‘Hi’ to a stranger, you may, “be surprised by how another person’s smile or wise words can lift your spirits.”
  3. Spend 8 minutes on Cloud 9: Each day, Waterman suggests taking eight minutes to sit and reflect on the positive experiences in your life. For the caregiver, it may help to try and identify those things you are grateful for when it comes to taking care of your elderly loved one. (After your reflection, if you feel up to it, Waterman says you may want to express these feelings of appreciation to the elder. Even if they can’t understand you, or brush off your comments, giving voice to your gratitude may foster a more loving relationship between the two of you). If your present situation seems too gloomy, you can turn your attention to the simpler days of yesteryear. Delve into those moments and really feel the positivity and gratitude that wells up inside of you when you think about them.
  4. Collect daily joy sprites: It’s easy to get so caught up in our own problems that we fail to notice the beautiful moments of everyday life. Waterman’s remedy for this is to keep small pieces of paper and a pencil with you wherever you go. Throughout the day, as you notice things like how nice the flowers in your garden smell, or how great a cool breeze feels on a hot summer day, write them down. At the end of the day, re-read those pieces of paper, and then put them in a special box for safekeeping and future reference.
  5. DIY your wings: If it’s just been, “one of those days,” and you can’t seem to pinpoint any instances of positivity, you may need to create your own motivational moments. Ward advises searching for inspiration in books, videos, music—anywhere you can find it. For a quick pick-me-up, buy a book of motivational quotes, or create your own, personalized list of poignant phrases. According to Ward, doing this as little as once a day for a week can be enough to help foster feelings of gratitude and perspective.
  6. Seek out like-minded souls: People have a tendency to feed off of one another’s emotional vibes. This means that just one Negative Nancy or Positive Polly can influence the attitudes of those around them. “Negativity is contagious,” Waterman says, “but so is positivity.” For someone taking care of an elderly loved one, it is important to be able to engage in gripe sessions with caregiving comrades. But, Waterman stresses that it’s also vital to maintain a network of positive people who can support you and offer perspective when needed.

Fostering an attitude of gratitude while taking care of a loved one can be a challenge. Even if you do every single one of the things on the list above, the effects won’t be miraculous or instantaneous. As Masini says,” Cultivating gratitude is a matter of discipline. It requires mindfulness and focus.”

In conclusion, you have the option on how you deal with negativity. Use your wings and soar.

My Father’s Eyes

Homecoming 2017 - 2By wisdom a house is built; And by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.    Proverbs 24: 3-4

Homecoming is upon again, remembering our ancestors, connecting with seldom seen relatives and witness the beginning of the next generations. As we age the perspective of how we see the cycle of our lives is seen through different eyes each year. We remember loved ones; some that had reached the end of their natural lives and some taken too soon. We allow the stress in our lives to sometimes eclipse the relationships we have in our lives, allowing them to be unattended and that closeness that we relied on becomes stagnant. This time of year, the celebration of renewal shows in the trees leafing up, the flowers blooming, birds singing in the trees and the laughter of children, reminding us to stop and appreciate what is around us. We can see God in the scent of honeysuckle and hedge, the red, yellow and white tulips and the brilliant displays of azaleas. With all the wonderment around us why do we continue to strive for things that is not for our betterment but to impress others? The verse I chose speaks of our house and how it is built and filled with wisdom, understanding and knowledge, what a great legacy to leave our relatives.

I was thinking of the people who have passed in my life, wondering if they had stayed longer how would my life be different? I thought of those who lost a parent too young or a child before they had reach their full maturity or regret for not visiting our grandparents more because it was easy to put it off. There is a song by Eric Clapton called “My Father’s Eyes” in which he talks about his father and son. There is quite a few opinion of about the background of the song; one story seems to be the most common. It was inspired by the fact that Clapton never met his father, who died in 1985. It also refers to the brief life of Clapton’s son Conor, who died at age four after falling from an apartment window. “In it I tried to describe the parallel between looking the eyes of my son, and the eyes of the father that I never met, through the chain of our blood”, said Clapton in his autobiography. He retired the song in 2004, along with Tears in Heaven. It describes how Clapton wishes he knew his father. It tells of a man who had his faith tested by the death of his young son and how he comforts himself with the thought of his father with his son. As the song processes he talks that “Then the jagged edge appears; Through the distant clouds of tears.; I ‘m like a bridge that was washed away; My foundations were made of clay. In the next stanza he talks about his father’s eyes again and how he is right there with him. As the song progress does his father become God? He talks of losing his faith and finding again. Did this help him to accept and move on with his grief, to comfort him and allow him to continue with his life?

We all need to feel that connection to another, to help us with our burdens as we help them with theirs. It is the strength of these connections that allows flexibility in our relationships so that when we remember them or they remember us it is fully and without regret.

 

 

My Father’s Eyes

Eric Clayton

Sailing down behind the sun,
Waiting for my prince to come.
Praying for the healing rain
To restore my soul again.

Just a toe rag on the run.
How did I get here?
What have I done?
When will all my hopes arise?
How will I know him?
When I look in my father ‘s eyes.
My father ‘s eyes.
When I look in my father ‘s eyes.
My father ‘s eyes.

Then the light begins to shine
And I hear those ancient lullabies.
And as I watch this seedling grow,
Feel my heart start to overflow.

Where do I find the words to say?
How do I teach him?
What do we play?
Bit by bit, I ‘ve realized
That ‘s when I need them,
That ‘s when I need my father ‘s eyes.
My father ‘s eyes.
That ‘s when I need my father ‘s eyes.
My father ‘s eyes.

Then the jagged edge appears
Through the distant clouds of tears.
I ‘m like a bridge that was washed away;
My foundations were made of clay.

As my soul slides down to die.
How could I lose him?
What did I try?
Bit by bit, I ‘ve realized
That he was here with me;
I looked into my father ‘s eyes.
My father ‘s eyes.
I looked into my father ‘s eyes.
My father ‘s eyes.

My father ‘s eyes.
My father ‘s eyes.
I looked into my father ‘s eyes.
My father ‘s eyes.

Fables and Angels

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”   Luke 21:1-4

angelI was doing some research and came across some tall tales. I remember growing up listening to short stories and fables that were either funny or had a moral attached to it.

I found quite a few but these two were some of my favorites. The first one makes me smile and the second warms my heart.

 

The Talking Mule

A South Carolina Tall Tale

Retold by S. E. Schlosser

A farmer owned a mule which he used for work all week. But being a Church-going man, he let the mule rest on Sunday.

One Sunday, the farmer had to go to a funeral. So he sent his son to saddle the mule.

“Since when do I have to work on Sunday?” asked the mule.

The boy dropped the saddle and ran to the house.

“Paw, the mule talked!” he shouted.

“Can’t you even saddle the mule?” asked the farmer.

“But Paw, the mule don’t want to work on Sunday,” the boy protested.

The farmer sent the boy to his room for talking crazy and went out to saddle the mule.

“Move over,” he said to the mule.

“Where’s my supper?” asked the mule.

The farmer dropped the saddle in the same spot as his boy and ran out of the barn, followed by the dog.

“I ain’t never heard a mule talk before,” he gasped.

“Me neither,” said the dog.

The man bolted for the house and slammed the door.

“The mule talked!” he told his wife.

“What!” said his wife.

“And when I exclaimed: ‘I ain’t never heard a mule talk before’, the dog said: ‘me neither’.”

“That’s crazy,” said his wife.

“What’s so crazy about that?” asked the cat. “Haven’t you ever heard of a talking mule?”

 

THE ANGEL

By Hans Christian Anderson

    “WHENEVER a good child dies, an angel of God comes down from heaven, takes the dead child in his arms, spreads out his great white wings, and flies with him over all the places which the child had loved during his life. Then he gathers a large handful of flowers, which he carries up to the Almighty, that they may bloom more brightly in heaven than they do on earth. And the Almighty presses the flowers to His heart, but He kisses the flower that pleases Him best, and it receives a voice, and is able to join the song of the chorus of bliss.”

These words were spoken by an angel of God, as he carried a dead child up to heaven, and the child listened as if in a dream. Then they passed over well-known spots, where the little one had often played, and through beautiful gardens full of lovely flowers.

“Which of these shall we take with us to heaven to be transplanted there?” asked the angel.

Close by grew a slender, beautiful, rose-bush, but some wicked hand had broken the stem, and the half-opened rosebuds hung faded and withered on the trailing branches.

“Poor rose-bush!” said the child, “let us take it with us to heaven, that it may bloom above in God’s garden.”

The angel took up the rose-bush; then he kissed the child, and the little one half opened his eyes. The angel gathered also some beautiful flowers, as well as a few humble buttercups and heart’s-ease.

“Now we have flowers enough,” said the child; but the angel only nodded, he did not fly upward to heaven.

It was night, and quite still in the great town. Here they remained, and the angel hovered over a small, narrow street, in which lay a large heap of straw, ashes, and sweepings from the houses of people who had removed. There lay fragments of plates, pieces of plaster, rags, old hats, and other rubbish not pleasant to see. Amidst all this confusion, the angel pointed to the pieces of a broken flower-pot, and to a lump of earth which had fallen out of it. The earth had been kept from falling to pieces by the roots of a withered field-flower, which had been thrown amongst the rubbish.

“We will take this with us,” said the angel, “I will tell you why as we fly along.”

And as they flew the angel related the history.

“Down in that narrow lane, in a low cellar, lived a poor sick boy; he had been afflicted from his childhood, and even in his best days he could just manage to walk up and down the room on crutches once or twice, but no more. During some days in summer, the sunbeams would lie on the floor of the cellar for about half an hour. In this spot the poor sick boy would sit warming himself in the sunshine, and watching the red blood through his delicate fingers as he held them before his face. Then he would say he had been out, yet he knew nothing of the green forest in its spring verdure, till a neighbor’s son brought him a green bough from a beech-tree. This he would place over his head, and fancy that he was in the beech-wood while the sun shone, and the birds caroled gaily. One spring day the neighbor’s boy brought him some field-flowers, and among them was one to which the root still adhered. This he carefully planted in a flower-pot, and placed in a window-seat near his bed. And the flower had been planted by a fortunate hand, for it grew, put forth fresh shoots, and blossomed every year. It became a splendid flower-garden to the sick boy, and his little treasure upon earth. He watered it, and cherished it, and took care it should have the benefit of every sunbeam that found its way into the cellar, from the earliest morning ray to the evening sunset. The flower entwined itself even in his dreams- for him it bloomed, for him spread its perfume. And it gladdened his eyes, and to the flower he turned, even in death, when the Lord called him. He has been one year with God. During that time the flower has stood in the window, withered and forgotten, till at length cast out among the sweepings into the street, on the day of the lodgers’ removal. And this poor flower, withered and faded as it is, we have added to our nosegay, because it gave more real joy than the most beautiful flower in the garden of a queen.”

“But how do you know all this?” asked the child whom the angel was carrying to heaven.

“I know it,” said the angel, “because I myself was the poor sick boy who walked upon crutches, and I know my own flower well.”

Then the child opened his eyes and looked into the glorious happy face of the angel, and at the same moment they found themselves in that heavenly home where all is happiness and joy. And God pressed the dead child to His heart, and wings were given him so that he could fly with the angel, hand in hand. Then the Almighty pressed all the flowers to His heart; but He kissed the withered field-flower, and it received a voice. Then it joined in the song of the angels, who surrounded the throne, some near, and others in a distant circle, but all equally happy. They all joined in the chorus of praise, both great and small, the good, happy child, and the poor field-flower, that once lay withered and cast away on a heap of rubbish in a narrow, dark street.

God is our teacher, a perfect example as to how we should all act as his stewards. He shows us everyday through loving examples, and it is these examples that we interpret into stories and fables. Sharing and teaching others through his lessons.

New Beginnings

January image“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away, behold, new things have come!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

New Beginnings

As we begin a new year perhaps we can do some reflecting over our lives and see where we can shed some negativity from our lives. All you need is the right attitude, a controlled mind, the belief in self, and faith in life. It is easier said than done but if you can release yourself from some of the burdens life hands you, with the help of God, image the difference it will make in your life and the people around you.

I was researching on the internet and came across this story, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

All the Difference in The World

Every Sunday morning I take a light jog around a park near my home.  There’s a lake located in one corner of the park.  Each time I jog by this lake, I see the same elderly woman sitting at the water’s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her.

This past Sunday my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped jogging and walked over to her.  As I got closer, I realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap.  There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap.  She had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush.

“Hello,” I said.  “I see you here every Sunday morning.  If you don’t mind my nosiness, I’d love to know what you’re doing with these turtles.”

She smiled.  “I’m cleaning off their shells,” she replied.  “Anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim.  It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.”

“Wow!  That’s really nice of you!” I exclaimed.

She went on: “I spend a couple of hours each Sunday morning, relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out.  It’s my own strange way of making a difference.”

“But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?” I asked.

“Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied.

I scratched my head.  “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent?  I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are fresh water turtles living in lakes all around the world.  And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells.  So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?”

The woman giggled aloud.  She then looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbed off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world.”

The moral:  You can change the world – maybe not all at once, but one person, one animal, and one good deed at a time.  Wake up every morning and pretend like what you do makes a difference.  It does.

Here are a couple of steps to try to help you make a difference.

Let the things you can’t control, GO. – Most things are only a part of your life because you keep thinking about them.  Positive things happen in your life when you emotionally distance yourself from the negative things.  So stop holding on to what hurts, and make room for what feels right.  Do not let what is out of your control interfere with all the things you can control.

Accept and embrace reality. – Life is simple.  Everything happens for you, not to you.  Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late.  For everything you lose, you gain something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else.  You don’t have to like it, but it’s just easier if you do.  So pay attention to your outlook on life.  You can either regret or rejoice; it’s your choice.

Take a risk. – Be willing to take a risk. We do not know what the future holds, it requires great faith to begin again. Making a big life change or trying something new can be scary.  But do you know what’s even scarier?  Regret.  So realize that most of your fears are much bigger in your mind than they are in reality; you’ll see this for yourself as soon as you face them.

Forgive. To release yourself from the bondage of your mistakes, guilt, wrongdoings, and tortures of other people, forgive yourself and others.

If possible, use the option of apologizing for your mistakes. This frees us from a negative bond and gives us the permission to move forward to start a new life.

Be Peaceful. A calm and composed mind helps us be peaceful and productive. Drop your tensions and don’t worry – that will only accumulate stress.

Learn mind control and meditation. You’ll be more happy and peaceful when you let go of things that you cannot control. You’re less burdened and can concentrate on working with life.

Accept. One more step to attain peace of mind and move forward is to accept the past because you cannot change it. Accept yourself, your life and the circumstances, and try to make the best use of the resources at hand. Acceptance of a problem gives you something concrete to work on to correct your wrongdoings and change your life.

Keep climbing. – Every person who is at the top of the mountain did not fall there from the sky.  Good things come to those who work for them.  You gain confidence and grow stronger by every experience in which you truly push yourself to do something you didn’t think you could do.  If you are standing in that place of in-between, unable or unwilling to go backwards, but too afraid to move forward, remember that you can’t enjoy the view without being willing to climb.

Willing to Change – Be willing to change what needs to be changed. If we keep doing the same things we’ve always done, we will keep getting the same results we’ve always gotten. Be honest with yourself and plan on how to change a behavior or a habit successfully.

God is our new beginnings – Be assured that God is a God of new beginnings and He wants to help you to get rid of negativity and replace it with positivity.

For Unto Us A Child Is Born!

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7 

 

handelHandel’s Messiah was a compilation of two men, Charles Jennens and George Fridereric Handel. Charles Jennens, the man who provided the texts for five of Handel’s great oratorios, was much more than a librettist. An independently wealthy man, Jennens supported the arts, built an extraordinary Leicestershire mansion and was the first person to publish Shakespeare’s plays in separate volumes. It was original written for East but is one of the most popular Christmas oratorio performed. As a devout Anglican and believer in scriptural authority, part of Jennen intention was to challenge advocates of Deism, who rejected the doctrine of divine intervention in human affairs. Shaw describes the text as “a meditation of our Lord as Messiah in Christian thought and belief”, and despite his reservations on Jennens’s character, concedes that the finished wordbook “amounts to little short of a work of genius”. There is no evidence that Handel played any active role in the selection or preparation of the text, such as he did in the case of Saul; it seems, rather, that he saw no need to make any significant amendment to Jennens’s work.

Baroque composer George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Germany, in 1685. In 1705 he made his debut as an opera composer with Almira. He produced several operas with the Royal Academy of Music in England before forming the New Royal Academy of Music in 1727. When Italian operas fell out of fashion, he started composing oratorios, including his most famous, Messiah. During his lifetime, Handel composed nearly 30 oratorios and close to 50 operas. At least 30 of those operas were written for the Royal Academy of Music, London’s very first Italian opera company. He was also a prolific writer of orchestral pieces and concerti grossi. He is said to have made significant contributions to all of the musical genres of his generation. His most renowned work is the oratorio Messiah, written in 1741 and first performed in Dublin in 1742. His 1741 work, ‘Messiah,’ is among the most famous oratorios in history.

The music for Messiah was completed in 24 days of swift composition. Having received Jennens’s text sometime after 10 July 1741, Handel began work on it on 22 August. His records show that he had completed Part I in outline by 28 August, Part II by 6 September and Part III by 12 September, followed by two days of “filling up” to produce the finished work on 14 September. The autograph score’s 259 pages show some signs of haste such as blots, scratching-outs, unfilled bars and other uncorrected errors, but according to the music scholar Richard Luckett the number of errors is remarkably small in a document of this length. The original manuscript for Messiah is now held in the British Library’s music collection.

The three-part structure of the work approximates to that of Handel’s three-act operas, with the “parts” subdivided by Jennens into “scenes”. Each scene is a collection of individual numbers or “movements” which take the form of recitatives, arias and choruses. There are two instrumental numbers, the opening Sinfony, in the style of a French overture, and the pastoral Pifa, often called the “pastoral symphony”, at the mid-point of Part I.

In Part I, the Messiah’s coming and the virgin birth are predicted by the Old Testament prophets. The annunciation to the shepherds of the birth of the Christ is represented in the words of Luke’s gospel.

Part II covers Christ’s passion and his death, his resurrection and ascension, the first spreading of the gospel through the world, and a definitive statement of God’s glory summarized in the “Hallelujah”.

Part III begins with the promise of redemption, followed by a prediction of the Day of Judgment and the “general resurrection”, ending with the final victory over sin and death and the acclamation of Christ. According to the musicologist Donald Burrows, much of the text is so allusive as to be largely incomprehensible to those ignorant of the biblical accounts. For the benefit of his audiences Jennens printed and issued a pamphlet explaining the reasons for his choices of scriptural selections.

For your enjoyment please click on the below link and listen to a beautiful performance of Handel’s Messiah “For Unto Us A Child Is Born”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f7jhk-IjDo

Merry Christmas!