With the recent death of the Reverend Billy Graham, this poem was read on a Christian radio station as a tribute to Billy Graham's humble and simple ministry to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has definitely made me think about how I am using the precious time God has given to me this side of heaven to bring others to him. I hope you enjoy the poem and that it causes you to think about your "dash".....we only get one chance to live this life! Make it count for Jesus Christ!
I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time
is left that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash…would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent YOUR dash?
1996 Copyright Inspire Kindness, LLC
With the continuing tragedies occurring in our schools across the nation, a good friend of mine, Diana Roth, wrote her concerns on Facebook. It is well written and has put into words what a lot of us are feeling. It is lengthy, but worth the time to sit, read, ponder and consider what we might do to begin to eliminate what is happening altogether. Many of us have raised our families, but what about our grandchildren? What might each of us do to encourage change in actions, deeds and laws?
Thanks, Diana, for your permission to publish these thoughts.
From a concerned and loving heart
On this February 14, when our children are in schools innocently enjoying their Valentine cookies and cupcakes and when our hearts and minds are focused on thinking of ways to honor and delight those we love, along comes the news of what I understand to be the insanity of the 18th school shooting of the year. Oh, how my heart is aching and my mind feels the absolute disgust of a society where this can happen repeatedly. Once again, the television view of children in single file being led out of the war zone we call school, brings tears to my eyes. The innocence of these cherished children and the sorrow inflicted on their lives and the lives of their families overwhelms me and leaves me with such a feeling of utter despair and hopelessness. I can only think of wanting to change the culture that leads to such tragedy but the feeling of helplessness prevails.
Is it the anger and lack of tolerance we have for others unlike ourselves? Is it the parenting by adults who fail to lead by good moral example or are too permissive or who are, themselves, products of a damaged society and are somehow innocently numb to such an unprincipled culture? Is the fact that intimacy with others has been replaced by communication via text and social media and parents spend far too much time ignoring children and choose instead to be on their screens staying up to date with their social media? Is it the emotional and sexual abuse of parents and others that has been inflicted on America's children, leaving them with various degrees of mental illness? Is it a video game industry that defies supervision by adults and parents, but seeminly introduces gaming innocently, and, step by step, leads to video games that present unbelievable violence and gore and other anti-social behaviors? Is it the remarkably easy access to guns and knives? Is it an alcohol and drug culture where the goal is to numb all of our minds so we can't think clearly and where violence is at the very core of the industry? Is it a film and television industry where the eyes of our young people witness murder and gore and become accustomed to such sights and consider visual vulgarities a casual and bizarrely acceptable fact of life? Is it a music industry in which violence against others is clearly spoken and where the lack of empathy or respect is a common theme? Each movie and television producer and director and each musical artist tries to create scenes and words that are new and unique to be able to sell their product. In doing so, they lack the imagination to do so without resorting to introducing a shock value in the form of violence and vulgarities. Is it a television industry where, even comedy, models sarcastic and disrespectful language and behavior. Is there no way to have music and film that models humanity and kindness so children (and adults) are able to comprehend a gentler world? Is it a government model where participants cannot even try to get along? Is it the frenetic flurry in which we live - where there is no time for peaceful thoughts and introspection? Is it a culture where there is more respect for those with money than those with compassion? Is it because we live in a world where the opinions expressed are those of the extreme conservative or extreme liberals and the voices of reason have been lost?
We have created a culture where extremes are the norm in our childrens' lives and they live in a world where only excitement and the thrill of the extreme satisfies and peaks their curiosity. How can we ever transform our lives to be able to live in a world of simplcity and gentleness, with a compassionate value for human life and love for all people, when we live in a world of violence and hatred? And when will it happen that we aren't bombarded with news reports featuring local mayors and police chiefs and our favorite newscasters with the now mundane play by play desciptions of violence in our schools? We listen and watch and shake our heads at the futility and the hopelessness of it all. Or we (and, yes, I mean "I") go to the internet or gather around the water fountain to piously express our opinions. But nothing changes, and we send our children off daily to their war zones hoping that it won't happen in our neighborhood. All of us babble on and on about the critical importance of freedom of choice and our human rights - the right to own weapons, the right to see movies we want, the right to speak the words we want, listen to the music we choose. Well, when do our children have a choice and right NOT TO DIE and what do we have to do to create such a climate in this world?
As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend.
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my Friend.
But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.
At last I snatched it back and cried,
"How could You be so slow"-
"My child," He said,
"What could I do?
You never did let go."
There are a lot of reasons why the heart can hurt. Basically, it boils down to one of two reasons; a physical ailment or an emotional one. I’ve had both. The physical ailment scared the wits out of me. I went to the Emergency Room clutching my chest one night hyperventilating and truly believed I was in the throes of a heart attack. Come to find out it was a Goliath sized case of GERD! Although I know now to watch my diet, I believe it was associated with stress. There were too many major happenings occurring in my life in a short span of time while my mental and emotional state raced to catch up with my circumstances.
But probably most of us have hurting hearts due to emotional causes. It’s part of life to have your heart broken into pieces and I don’t know many people who haven’t experienced that trauma. Personally, I went through two broken engagements before meeting my husband. Yep, two. Two guys asked me to marry them and then simply changed their minds. One broke up with me on the phone a day before we were to go meet his parents in another state. I closed myself up in my little home, drew the shades and sat there most of that weekend wondering what in the world went wrong. He never told me, I still haven’t a clue.
I’ve not had many other situations that came close to a broken heart except the death of dear loved ones and they didn’t pass from this life out of spite, it’s just the circle of life. But I will tell you a mother’s heart will command the top seat at the table when it comes to the ongoing condition of your heart. If you’ve followed this website and my writings you are aware that Gary and I have a granddaughter. As any grandparent will share, once you are handed that small bundle of pure sweetness and God’s miracle of life, that baby goes up on an enormously high plain labeled with his/her name. Somehow it’s an entirely different feeling from having children of your own. However, there is nothing in this world that can ache, hurt and mostly fill you with joy unspeakable than raising those God-given gifts we call our own children.
All through my life I wanted to be a mom; plain and simple. Maybe it was due to the fact my own mother went to work when I was only six years old. During the ‘50s and ‘60s moms were not looked on kindly for missing work to attend school parties and activities. I had an aunt show up for those events. I missed my mom and I told myself if humanly possible when I became a mom I would be at all those parties with homemade chocolate chip cookies in hand. God granted that wish when I married Gary. Although we weren’t a rich family materialistically, we made the sacrifices necessary so I could fulfill that dream. In fact, my kids were probably sick of seeing my face in their schools I was there so often.
As they got older I went to all the sporting events, took turns carpooling soccer practices and, after struggling to finish my education while they were in school, I worked at teaching positions where my paycheck went into tuition at a private school and soccer tournaments. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer my kids were in college. Ironically, I had an insurance policy for cancer that I had taken out when I was 20 years old. For some reason, Dad had us invest in a policy even though cancer wasn’t spoken of, much less diagnosed a lot in the early ‘70s. As a consequence of that policy I was able to pay a semester of college for each of the kids and was able help with some of their college expenses.
But now they are grown. They have their own lives and are living them as they see fit. So why does a mother’s heart ache when the job she was called to do is slowly ceasing to the degree it was once needed and desired? Because a mom is always a mom and a mom’s heart never stops beating. It continues to remember being one of the most important people in her children’s lives. The notes, the cards, the hugs, the constant sharing, the shopping, the lunches, the movies, the simple conversations for the first 15 minutes after getting off the school bus, the frantic calls about all the stuff that is due at college; trying to get organized to move out of a apartment; sitting in hospitals when they experienced broken limbs and sometimes being requested to pray for a friend.
However, the circle of life continues….the heart is a strong organ that beats every minute of every day and when God decides that heart has beat enough and needs a rest, it will be called home. I write this blog because a lot of moms have shared with me a lot of heartaches recently. There is so much going on that I simply couldn’t list it all and I would never do that since many of my conversations have been confidential. I write my experiences because it’s just life. I want to reassure my readers hurt happens to all of us.
Yesterday I posted a blog about suffering and how God can remove all the bumps on life’s highway so we can all live abundant joyful existences. But that’s not how life works. Moms have been bearing burdens of joy and sorrow throughout the Bible. With good intentions we often rise up as surly bears to protect our cubs, but sometimes we have to back up and let God be God.
We pray, we grow, we cling to the promises of God….and we love others as God first loved us….unconditionally.
Much love and hugs to all my mom friends out there…..
With this being the very first day of February when our attention turns to boxed gifts of chocolate candy, jewelry, flowers and perhaps a nice dinner date, I have been studying the subject of suffering. Yep, suffering. It has brought up quite a few interesting points of study and I thought I might as well share them since perhaps this month isn't quite the celebration of chocolate candy you might like to be experiencing.
I am co-leading a class that deals with a variety of subject areas in order to introduce the Bible to those who might believe it to be a difficult book to understand. To be perfectly honest, I've been a Christian for a long time and I still get stumped and scratch my head as I ask God to reveal hard answers on a child-like level so that I might get the picture. Do I get all the answers I desire? Nope, but when you think of it, God is the Supreme Being, the Creator of All so how can I, with the finite mind I have been graciously given, explain the infinite ways of the Almighty?
I like to deduce it like this...when our little ones were babies and we tried to communicate on their level, we didn't usher in concepts and dialogue they would not understand. We simply smiled and used soothing sounds often reading to them and telling them about the colors, shapes or animals on the pages. Even then they didn't have the conceptual wisdom to comprehend. They just loved being held and given attention.
Likewise, we are babes in Christ. He can't explain all of creation because his knowledge is far beyond anything we can perceive. He reveals life in bite-sized pieces according to our spiritual growth. As we grow in our knowledge of him, we are given more insight. But we continuously question God's intentions as if he owes us any explanation at all. Honestly, it reminds me of children who demand, "I can do it myself!" Shouldn't we at least stop and thank God for what we have been given?
Okay, I'm off point....suffering. I came across the Job story this week. It's a hard one to understand. (In fact all suffering, regardless of who it is, is difficult to understand.) Here's my take on the story. Believe it or not, scripture tells us that God doesn't allow us to be tested or tempted beyond what we can endure. Of course, I believe that pertains to believers and that's what Job was....he loved, served and believed in God. But if you look at the story, Job was living a great life. Satan believed the only reason Job was giving any time or allegiance to God was because he was living a "charmed" life...if you will. God knew that wasn't true, so he allowed Satan to test Job.
You can call it unfair, totally out of the realm of reasonableness, but Job withstood the terrible things that happened to him and in the end was doubly blessed. Why do I still believe in a God that would do this? Because I, too, have felt suffering. Not like Job, of course, and I would never equate anything I have faced in life thus far with Job's ordeal. But here's a truth I've come to acknowledge, God can remove every pebble in the path of my journey. He can make my life one of total Cinderella adventures and zip lining blessings. But instead of being a Cinderella, I often feel as though I'm walking barefoot on a rocky road that has no smooth places for my feet to rest. Every time I feel as though I'm getting a break from the cuts and bruises of those stones, another one shows up. However, this I know...God has His eye on me. He knows where I am at all times and what is happening in my little corner of the world. He is Omnipresent, he's in all places at all times. That in itself is an awesome thought far beyond anything I can understand. If I was never desperate for God's presence, would I give him more than a passing thought?
If you read through the book of Job, you will discover, as we all do who are tested through sufferings, Job's faith increased and his spiritual resolve grew even greater. And that, my friend, is the goal. Greater faith, greater perseverance and a greater witness for the Lord. Why? Because we often learn through the hardships God is greater than our circumstances.
Is suffering something we need to experience so spiritual growth can occur? No, it's not. But I will share that when the hard things of life happen and I have no other place to turn, God has always been there and the result is a greater trust in who he is and what he can do. God is Omnipotent....all powerful and he's Omniscient....all knowing. We need to realize there are just things in life we will never fully grasp....so for now, we pray that God will help us face whatever each day brings and that he will be given all the glory! There is coming a day when suffering will be over!