Sunday, February 28, 2010

Keeping Your Marriage Full of Happiness

What makes marriages last? It's the small stuff, it turns out: telling him he looks great in his jeans, bringing her coffee in bed in the morning, sneaking off without the kids from time to time, taking turns doing the laundry. Terri Orbuch, a Michigan-based research professor and a family therapist, spent decades charting the love lives of 373 married couples in the U.S. -- the longest-running study of marriage conducted in North America. The results were surprisingly simple. "Really great marriages are not the result of long hours of hard work, but of everyday behaviours and attitudes, seemingly small gestures that show your spouse that he or she is noticed, appreciated, respected, loved and desired," Orbuch noted. [ more ]

Today's Tip: Do a small act of kindness for your significant other today.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

An Act of Kindness Straight from His Heart

Here is another beautiful story that arrived in my email and it goes hand in hand with what this blog represents:

Two years ago an African man from Malawi, Elias, arrived at my sister’s home in the rough, bush country of South Africa with nothing but the shirt on his back. He was hoping to come to South Africa to find employment in order to support his family in Malawi. Little did he realize my sister at that time was struggling to keep her body and soul together. Nevertheless, Elias was given permission to stay on the property with the understanding that she was unable to help him financially and he would have to find “piece work” employment to support himself.

As unemployment is rife, Elias was unable to find work immediately, so my sister taught him how to grow organic vegetables, sew and bake. Elias is keen to learn whatever he can to take the knowledge back to Malawi with him once he goes home.

Elias finally found employment but my sister hit a bad patch. Being without transport, this was no joke when you are live 15–20 miles from the nearest shop through rough mountainous terrain. Despite approaching various neighbors in the area asking for a lift, no one was willing to assist her even though most were going into town at least once a day.

Early one wet, cold winter’s Saturday morning, Elias arrived at my sister’s back door, dressed and ready to walk to the shops for her. Touched as she was by this gesture, she had to tell Elias she had no money as she had not been able to get to the bank. His reply was, “I know ma'am, but I got pay so I will buy for you now.” Not taking no for an answer, Elias did a wonderful act of kindness straight from his heart.

I find it very difficult to understand how those of us that have much cannot help one another, yet someone with nothing and far from his own home, without being approached, so willingly gives his time and hard earned money.

Today's Tip: Visit a local museum and leave a donation!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Heavenly Voice

by Lissa M. Lee

Last week at work, a dear friend of my boss dropped by and
related this story.

His company had been toiling and negotiating on an offer for
months. It had become the obsession of his office. They finally had
a realistic proposal and he was sitting across from his customer.

"Thanks, Dave," he said, "but we'll have to pass this year."

He was devastated. How could he face his employees? The loss
of this million dollar deal would result in layoffs. His stomach
initially tied in knots over presenting the bid, was now wrenched
tighter. He simply could not understand how the client could afford
to refuse their offer. He dreaded returning to the office.

Pulling into a truck stop he ordered coffee before returning to
the office. His waitress was friendly, although slightly distracted.
As she poured the coffee and he nonchalantly said hello and asked how
she was. He fully expected the traditional Southern response,

"Fine and you?"

"Oh, I've been better," she began. "My husband abandoned me and
the kids after Katrina. Left us stranded here and this is the only
job I could find. It ain't too bad mind you. The boss lets me work
around my kids so they ain't at home alone. But yesterday someone
stole my purse. It had everything in it, birth certificates, shot
records, social security cards, everything I had evacuated with. And
every penny we had, $300 was in there. Now I don't so much mind they
took the money, it's just money, but all those important papers. I
need those for the kids and their schooling. I don't even know if I
can get new papers with New Orleans being in such a mess."

He bobbed his head with feigning interest in her conversation.
He wanted to interrupt her and point out that she had only lost $300.
He had just lost millions. Before he could reply, she turned to
another table.

Sipping the warmth, he thought about their dilemmas. Both of
them had been dealt a raw deal, but self-pity made him feel that
somehow his loss was greater. Proportionally though, their losses
were probably equal.

As he drank my coffee he flipped his cell phone and attempted to
scan emails. No reception. Shutting it, he sank into the comfort of
the red plastic padded dining booth and stared aimlessly. His daze
was interpreted by the newly familiar voice.

"They found it!" She squealed with delight. "They found my
purse! All our important papers were still there. We're gonna be
all right!"

Everyone in the truck stop applauded.

She came to refresh his coffee. He declined the offer and
congratulated her good fortune. She was gracious and told him to
have a nice day as he took his ticket and headed for the cash

"She's still out $300," the heavenly Voice whispered.

"Okay," he acknowledged. "I'll leave a $20. That's a 1000% tip."

"She's still out $300," came the Voice again.

"All right," he moaned, "I've got $50 in my wallet. I'll leave that."

"She lost $300," repeated the Voice.

"Look, God," he began. "I just lost a million dollar deal.
Have a little sympathy for me!"

"She lost $300," the Voice insisted.

"All right, all right," he grudgingly relented. Taking out his
American Express he paid for the coffee and wrote in a $300 tip.
Walking through the parking lot to his car, he tried his cell phone
again, still no tower. He got in his car and headed for the office
trying to think of a diplomatic way to break the bad news.

Opening the door to his office, his secretary practically leapt
from her desk to greet him.

"Mr. Smith," she bubbled, "You'll ever guess who just called!"

"Do I have to?" he asked.

"Oh no sir, I was just so excited I couldn't help myself," she
beamed. "Mr. Jones called right after you left. He tried getting
you on your cell, but he said he couldn't reach you. Must have been
in a dead zone, right sir?"

She inhaled and continued at lightening speed, "Anyway he said
he went over the figures you gave him with his sales and production
staff after your meeting. They decided to double the order. Can you
believe it! Doubled the order! Our price was just too good to pass.
They have faxed over the signed contracts! Isn't that fantastic?
The contracts are on you desk."

Stunned, he looked at his secretary in utter disbelief, "He said what?"

She slowly repeated the telephone conversation. He could not
believe it. He walked into the office to examine the faxed contracts
for himself.

He noted the time on the fax and the American Express receipt.

They were the same.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beautiful Advice

An Angel says, 'Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.'

1. Pray

2. Go to bed on time.

3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.

4. Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health..

5. Delegate tasks to capable others.

6. Simplify and unclutter your life.

7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)

8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.

9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard
things all together.

10. Take one day at a time.

11. Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety . If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.

12. Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases.

13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.

14. K..M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.

15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.

16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line..

17. Get enough rest

18. Eat right.

19. Get organized so everything has its place.

20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.

21. Write down thoughts and inspirations in a journal.

22. Every day, find time to be alone.

23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try and pray.

24. Make friends with Godly people.

25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.

26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good 'Thank you Jesus .'

27. Laugh.

28. Laugh some more!

29. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.

30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).

31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).

32. Sit on your ego

33 Talk less; listen more.

34. Slow down.

35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.

36 Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before. GOD HAS A WAY OF TURNING THINGS AROUND FOR YOU.

'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Romans 8:31)

Today's Tip: Take your pick from the list above. Sometimes doing something for yourself can make all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Turning Kindness Into A Habit

Here's another feel great story to pass along and share with all of you.

Last winter I was going through a rough patch in my life. I had a bunch of terrible things going on around me. I felt very distant and became quite selfish. I hated the way I was feeling and one day I woke up and told myself, “You are above this, stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

Then, I tried out an experiment, and it has DEFINITELY changed me for the better. Every day I would do at least one act of kindness - It could be anything…

  • Bringing the trash down to the trash compactor for my 80 year old neighbor,
  • Going into the store to buy something for myself (like a bit of makeup) and coming out with something for someone else (like candy for my boyfriend)
  • Sitting down with my sister or a friend and just simply listening.

And I can tell you is that it went from self discipline, something that I actively made sure I did everyday to something much greater than that - I find that now I am sincerely all about this idea! I try to do something for everybody I can think of in a day! It really does feel great.

In the last two months, my boyfriend has been going through a very tough time and has been quite miserable. I have really tried to be present for him, intensely listening to everything he said, waiting for hints to see where I could help, whether it’s a small thing or a big thing, helping him out with a place to stay or just stocking up with plenty of movies, candy, sunflower seeds, a new calculator, a hat, or a book waiting for him,

It all comes so automatically and it feels good to make someone smile. Even if, at first, it's not naturally in you, just do it, and I promise it will become a part of you. and it will feel FANTASTIC!

Today's Tip: Use any of the suggestions found within this article, they are all great and fun to do as well!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Juicy Way to Help!

Just another great inspirational story I got in my email this morning and had to share for those of you that read this blog!

"When the rain stopped, I felt like it would be perfect to go for an evening walk. I woke up my friend, who had broken her arm a month ago and was waiting for the cast to be removed, as I thought a walk would make her feel fresh too. Our walk led us to a fruit juice shop. As I was taking my last sip of tropical mango juice a little boy came running in to get some juice and seemed to be in a hurry. The little one did not realize that tinned juice cost a bit more than fresh juice. When he realized that he did not have enough money to buy it, he started to walk back to his Dad to get more money. It looked like they were in a hurry and did not want to miss their bus. I called the boy and gave him the canned juice and paid for it. The boy accepted it, smiled, thanked me and ran to his Dad. They both waved at me as they got onto the bus. It was a small incident that made me realize that it isn't difficult to mak yourself happy. You just have to do small acts of kindness and brighten another person's day."

Today's Tip: If you see a need like the one above, jump in and fulfill it! It truly will make a difference in the lives of those you help!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Kind Heart on Flight 662

I found this story on and wanted to share it all with you. I hope you enjoy it.

My name is Erica F. I am a Flight Attendant for US Airways. This morning on a flight from Charlotte, NC to Phoenix, AZ I witnessed an amazing transformation not only in me but also in many of the passengers on board our flight. I was approached by our First Class flight attendant while I was preparing the accounting machine for in-flight sales. She said that a kind First Class passenger wanted to purchase food and drinks for the military personnel boarding our flight. I was stunned; the group was much larger than I initially thought it was—approximately 30 to 35 members.

As we proceeded with our service, we found that several people throughout the rest of the plane were offering to buy the service men and women something as well! I had to tell them that someone in First Class had already beaten them to it! When it came time to close out our sales I approached the kind gentlemen and commented, “So, I understand you’re the lucky man who gets this bill!” He quickly reached for his wallet and retrieved a credit card. I joked with him about the enormous amount! Then I showed him the low figure. It was amazing how low it was from both of our original guesstimate.

I tore off the receipt and with it I handed him a few thank you notes from the servicemen and women including one from myself. In my note I explained that every person that learned of his kind gesture expressed gratitude, not just the service personnel but the other passengers on the plane as well. I also expressed my thankfulness to him for reminding me of one thing: my biggest lesson in life. Through my mother’s example I was encouraged to be driven by my heart. And to be kind regardless of what little we had monetarily. (Sadly, it was a heart attack that ended her life not long ago.) As we started our decent, I turned to head to the aft of the aircraft to complete my duties when he got my attention. “Excuse me, Erica.” He stood up, turned to look at me, “I just want to say thank you.” He said. I had a hard time keeping a tear from rolling down my cheek. “ME? Thank me?” I offered a big hug and said again…“Thanks for your kindness, sir.”

I had boarded the flight tired from a long trip and homesick for my family. It was clear to me and my crew and several passengers that it wasn’t the money that made a huge difference on this flight. It was the kind gesture of appreciation from a stranger with a giving heart that touched us all and reached far across our country this given day.

Erica Fresquez

Today's Tip: Next time a kid comes to your door selling something, buy one! Imagine how many doors that child knocks on and most of the time, they hear, "No thanks!" Be the one that makes their day!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Daffodil Principle

Here is another great story I wanted to pass along I got about two years ago. I hope you love it!

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead . "I will come next Tuesday", I promised a little reluctantly on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.

"Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in these clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!"

My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time, Mother." "Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her.
"But first we're going to see the
"Carolyn," I said sternly, "Please turn around." "It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."

After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, " Daffodil Garden " We got out of the car, each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight.

It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.

"Who did this?" I asked Carolyn. "Just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.

On the patio, we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking", was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read. The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain." The third answer was, "Began in 1958."

For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration.

That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time--often just one baby-step at time--and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world .

"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years? Just think what I might have been able to achieve!"

My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. "Start tomorrow," she said.

She was right. It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, "How can I put this to use today?"

Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting.....
Until your car or home is paid off
Until you get a new car or home
Until your kids leave the house
Until you go back to school
Until you finish school
Until you clean the house
Until you organize the garage
Until you clean off your desk
Until you lose 10 lbs.
Until you gain 10 lbs.
Until you get married
Until you get a divorce
Until you have kids
Until the kids go to school
Until you retire
Until summer
Until spring
Until winter
Until fall
Until you die...

There is no better time than right now to be happy. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. So work like you don't need money.Love like you've never been hurt, and, Dance like no one's watching.

Today's Tip: Give away ten articles of clothing you haven't worn in the past two years! If you haven't worn it by now, you aren't going to wear it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

Today's Tip: When you are picking up your food at the drive through window and after you get your change, give the drive up person a tip! Tell them thank you for making your day! Watch the smile on their face as well!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Southern Hospitality and Love

by David Welch

The story of how I met, and then fell in love with my Valentine
might be what some people would say is an odd way of meeting, but in
our case it has worked for us.
God has a plan for all of us though, and we understand we are
together because God brought us together for a reason. I have never
questioned God for the health troubles I've had to deal with, and try
an live in the present. I look forward to the future, but never blame
God for what troubles I've had during my past.
My name is David Welch, and I've been a diabetic since I was
four years old. Since I was 23 I've had many health problems --
blindness, loss of my kidneys, open heart surgery, and now I'm in a
The one thing I have enjoyed doing since my health has declined
is to use my computer with a screen reading program for the blind.
One evening, I downloaded a program I had heard about called
Freedom Chat, which was for blind people. Chat programs are
something I really never enjoyed, but I'm so glad this time I tried
it out. I didn't call anyone when I got online, but I received a
private message from a young lady asking who I was. We started
chatting and we both had health problems and felt comfortable with
our conversation. Come to find out she was legally blind in one eye
and completely blind in the other, along with being deaf in one ear.
She had Lupus which had created many of her health problems.
We chatted several times as the weeks went by, but neither of us
thought much more of it than just a friendly conversation. I found
out that she was from Thailand, but had become an American citizen
nearly twenty years earlier. Her name was Nualanong Pumyam, but
wanted to be called an American name, Nicole.
Nicole mentioned to me that she was in school still working on
her English, and computer skills using JAWS, the same screen reading
program that I was using, and I thought I could help her out with her
school work. We spent many evenings on the phone, with free long
distance service, working on the computer skills, and her English. I
had no problem helping her with her computer skills -- but hey, I
probably need a little help at times myself with English!
The one thing I kept telling her, was she should never trust
anyone that she chats with. I told her many times she should go out
and enjoy her life, but never agree to meet some guy that she was
talking with over the Internet. I wanted Nicole to understand that
meeting someone she had been chatting with over the computer could be
very dangerous!
As time went by the two of us started feeling much closer, and
she said she would love to see what Kentucky was like. We managed to
arrange for a plane ticket so she could visit Glasgow, Kentucky,
where I live.
Yes, we did exactly what I had been preaching for her to never
do, and brought her to my hometown.
With help from my brother driving me to the airport in
Nashville, we picked up Nicole. It didn't take her long to notice a
big difference between the people in San Jose, California, and the
southern hospitality of the people that she would meet here in
Kentucky. She said the people in Glasgow all seemed so friendly, and
she fell in love with the town.
The visit turned into a move to Glasgow, and she has never
returned to California since.
Actually, as I mentioned, Nicole fell in love with Glasgow, but
we fell in love with each other as well. We have been together now
for four years, and we have built a good life with one another, and
on July 5, 2009, Nicole became my bride.
I may not have the ability to always provide her with material
things, like other men might give their girlfriend or wife, but we
certainly give each other loyalty, respect, happiness, and most
significantly... love!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Good News of the Day

She's a Brooklyn-based writer who, five years ago, was shocked to find herself in possession of a six-figure book advance. She wanted to give a chunk of it away, but was not sure how. So she decided she would make it someone else's problem -- nine other people's problems. She chose nine thoughtful friends, gave them each $100, and told them they would be expected to account for what they had done with it at a gathering a month later. Heart-warming high jinks have ensued ever since. [ more ]

Today's Tip: I challenge you all to take $5.00 and post here in the comments on what you did with it today. The best part about leaving you with no options on how to spend it will inspire creativity in all of us. I am up for the challenge are you?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Applaud Life by Bob Perks

I stood on a large rock at the back of the hotel, high atop a hill overlooking a golf course. From my vantage point I could see for miles. From off to my right, I heard the faint sounds of an approaching train. To my left was the greatest show on earth. No, not the circus. The sunset.

I had been in a hurry to get settled into my room for the evening. Having just traveled about five hours, I was tired and hungry. I rushed out the back door and planned on heading to the mall across the street. During my previous visit here, I remembered that they had not one, but two, Chinese restaurants. I love chicken fried rice and wonton soup.

But it all had to wait. It was calling me again.

Just as I reached for my keys, I looked up and saw the great possibilities in the patterns that were forming off in the distance. I argued with my growling stomach and my Mickey Mouse watch that this wouldn't take very long. But a good sunset from beginning to end often does.

I discovered a huge boulder that was perfectly placed at the corner of the property, right on the edge of the hill. Some landscape designer had most likely charged the hotel owners a bundle to place the boulder there - for it served as a focal point for people to gather as they toured the property and the sales manager pointed out the nearby golf course and tennis club.

Yes, others had been there before me, perhaps breathing in the fresh air and soaking up the last rays of sunshine.

But today I was happy to have this front-row seat all to myself.

About a half mile away, the approaching train passed by the remnants of a previously occupied factory and then jauled its dozen or more flat cars through the wooded backdrop of the ninth hole. While seated in my hot tub at home, I often wave at planes flying overhead as I wonder where the passengers are headed. It seemed appropriate to do the same for the trainmen. I knew they couldn't see me, but it still mattered to me.

As I watched, the sun began its final descent, painting the clouds and sending golden beams of light high into the sky, the brightness of the sunset created a silhouette of the trees and buildings before me. I turned away fro a moment, so that even I cast a long shadow across the parking lot, making me feel bigger than I am.

Then the finale.

I heard a voice inside me. It was that childish prankster from my past that taunts me with "Dare ya!" and "Bet you won't do it!"

So I did. I didn't care who might be looking. I applauded as if I had just seen the final performance of Cats on Broadway. I even yelled "All right!" and "That's a keeper!"

It was over. I slowly turned wondering if anyone saw me. But no one was there. Someone should have noticed. How sad it was. They were probably having pizza somewhere. But they lost and I gained.

They would have at least had a good laugh at the man who applauded life. Or perhaps they would have joined me. Maybe next time.

When was the last time life was so exciting that joy and happiness burst out and you just had to stand up and applaud?

Here is my challenge to you. Tomorrow when you wake up, jump out of bed and applaud. Whistle and yell, "All right!" and "This is a keeper!" And then just wait until you see how your day turns out.

I dare ya! I double dare ya!

"Be still and know that I am God." ~ Psalm 46:10

Today's Tip: Offer to carry someone's groceries to their car, pay the toll for someone behind you or give some flowers to the toll workers! Just think of the lasting smiles those little things will create!

Friday, February 5, 2010

You've Been Upgraded

My life currently requires a fair bit of travel but I was definitely surprised by my latest flight as when I walked in I realized that my ticket was in 1st class! This is seldom the case and so I thought it must have been a courtesy upgrade due to frequent travel.

I was traveling with my colleague and remembering a story I had read a few months ago, I quickly decided that I was going to offer the seat to someone else. I mentioned this to my colleague and his response was to do the same! So together, he and I made our way through the plane, Smile Cards in hand, looking for an unsuspecting person to tag. Towards the back, we found a couple unsuspecting young folks and offered an upgrade. They jumped at the chance :)

Once we sat down in our new seat, the woman on the other side of the aisle looked at me and asked 'why would you give up comfy seats to strangers so you can sit back here?' I responded, 'So I could see a couple people smile, and they're not strangers, they're family!' She liked that answer :)

Today's Tip: If you have airline miles you aren't going to use, donate them to a worthy cause or to military families who may have no funds to visit one another. You will give more than wings that day.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

They Ran Through the Rain Believing

I found this beautiful heartwarming story from Bob Perks I had to share with you. I hope you really enjoy it!

I listen. That's where my stories come from.

I speak. That's how I get to meet the most incredible people.

But sometimes just listening from afar is enough to fill my heart.

I don't always need to say hello to bring a perfect stranger into my life. Conversations overheard can provide life lessons even more powerful than conversations we are actually a part of.

Not long ago I had a brief encounter that filled my day - and my heart - to capacity. If only they knew the gift they gave me.

She must have been six years old, this beautiful brown-haired, freckle-faced image of innocence. Her mom could have posed for a Norman Rockwell painting. Not that she was old-fashioned. Her brown hair was ear length with enough curl to appear natural. She had on a pair of tan shorts and a light blue knit shirt. Her sneakers were white with blue trim.

She looked like...a mom.

It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the tops of rain gutters, in such a hurry to hit the earth that it has no time to flow down the spout. Drains in the nearby parking lot were filled to capacity, leaving huge puddles to lake around the parked cars.

We all stood there under the awning, just inside the door of the Wal-Mart. We waited, some patiently, other aggravated because nature had messed up their hurried day.

I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I get lost in the sound and the sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and the dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing carefree as a child come pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.

Her voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in.

"Mom, let's run through the rain," she said.

"What?" her mother asked.

"Let's run through the rain!" she repeated.

"No, honey. We'll wait until it slows down a bit," Mom replied.

The young child waited another minute and then repeated her statement. "Mom... let's run through the rain."

"We'll get soaked if we do," said Mom.

"No, we won't, Mom. That's not what you said this morning, " insisted the young girl as she tugged at her mother's arm.

"This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?"

"Don't you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, 'If God can get us through this, He can get us through anything!'"

The entire crowd stopped dead silent. You couldn't hear anything except the splashing of the rain. We all stood quietly, waiting to see what would happen.

The mother paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some mothers would laugh it off and scold the child for being silly. Some might even ignore what she had said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child's life. A time when innocent trust could be nurtured so that it would bloom into faith.

"Honey, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain. If God lets us get wet, well, maybe we just needed washing," Mom said.

Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling, and laughing as they darted past cars and, yes, through puddles. They held their shopping bags over their heads just in case.

They got soaked. But they were followed by a few believers who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars ... perhaps inspired by the little girl's faith and trust.

I want to believe that somewhere down the road in life, that mother will find herself reflecting back on these moments they spent together, captured like pictures in the scrapbook of her cherished memories. Perhaps when she watches proudly as her daughter graduates... or as her daddy walks her down the aisle on her wedding day.

She will laugh again. Her heart will beat a little faster. Her smile will tell the world they love each other. But only two people will share that precious moment when they ran through the rain believing that God would get them through.

And, yes, I did.

I ran through the rain.

I got wet.

I guess I needed washing.

"Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7

Today's Tip: Relive those childhood memories, run into the rain, splash in those puddles and let God wash you clean!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Bus Ride That Changed My Life

I was moved to tears after reading this and wanted to share it with you readers, some of whom have children or family in the military. I hope it truly makes your day.

A few years ago I was an employee of an international company that sold computer devices. I had to travel a lot as part of my work. I remember that I was at a stage of my life where I only cared about how to make more money and how to solve technical problems. I was locked in my own world living as a robot that only worked in a mechanical way.

On one of my work trips, I came to the airport to take a bus to downtown, as usual. It was the same routine: get into the city, take the bus to the hotel, check in, visit the client, work late, take the bus back to the airport and fly back out... That day, for some reason, something was different. I decided not to take the same exit in the airport and took the stairs down to a different exit and walked out. At this exit there was a beautiful landscaped space that I had never seen before. The bus came along and I let it go past because I wanted a few more minutes to enjoy the landscape. Finally the next bus came along and I got on that one.

Before that day I always took the seat behind the driver. That day I sat down somewhere in the middle. A boy was seated next to me. He was carrying a lot of suitcases and bags as if he was moving. While I was watching how he was accommodating all his stuff, (which was a lot!), I was thinking to myself, how annoyed he must be at having to manage so much stuff. Just then, he just turned to me and gave me one of the most authentic smiles I had ever seen from a stranger, he extended his hand and shook mine strongly and said "hi".

As the bus started to drive off, I was hoping to myself that he wasn't going to be the kind of 'annoying' guy who would just start talking to the strangers next to them. Before I had even finished that thought, he said:

"The perfect day in the perfect place, huh?”

I remember thinking to myself - this must be one of those typical people who is young and naive and just thinks everything is beautiful and easy. Why he was annoying me when I just wanted to enjoy the bus ride?

"Perfect day!? Did your parents pay for you to have some vacations on the beach?” I snapped at him sarcastically.

He looked at me in a strange way because of my rudeness. I immediately felt bad and apologized. Then I was the one who tried to lead the conversation. I asked him his name, where he was going and what he was doing. The story that followed changed my whole perspective on life. Everything is different for me now because of this young boy on the bus.

“You can call me John. I’m 20 years old and I’m here because I want to achieve my biggest dream ever.” He replied calmy.

“No, I’m not here for vacation, and I do not have parents," he continued softly. I was shocked and embarrassed by my earlier behaviour.

“I’m sorry,” I said, and let him continue with his story.

“I lost my dad 10 years ago then my mom got married again and my stepfather was a bad person. He treated us in an awful way and my mum turned a blind eye. One day in August, my stepfather hit me for a long time and threw me out of the house. I was just 10 years old.” I could not believe this. A few minutes earlier I was trying to avoid him and now, I just wanted to hear more about his story.

”Since then, I’ve been living all over the country for the last 10 years. I’ve lived on the street, I’ve eaten from the garbage and also I’ve known many other people who have been wonderful and kind to me. I have been lucky. And I have learned a lot from life through these years.” He said simply.

At that point I couldn’t say a word. I felt the tears rising. Fortunately he continued talking..

“My grandpa was a general of the army. He left me this,” he said proudly.

He showed me a kind of long knife with a gold handle. He said this was his his best memory of his childhood. He said that the knife was priceless to him because every time he was faced with something difficult in his life, he would touch the knife and feel better and know that no matter what, he could surpass anything.

“So what are you doing here?” I asked, very curious by now.

He smiled and told me that for 10 years, all the time, every moment of every day, he had only one thing on his mind, to join the army like his grandpa.

“I have come here to achieve the dream of my life, I'm on my way to the army school where my grandfather studied a long time ago and the only thing I know is that I will persist until I succeed. I will follow my dream and every day of my life I will be happy.”

At this point, I could not hold back the tears. The bus had reached his stop, he stood up, took all his bags, extended his hand again to shake mine and with a big smile on his face told me, “it has been a pleasure, I hope to see you again”. I shook his hands tightly, unable to say much at this point. I was choked up with emotion.

This was such an important moment in my life. I would never have imagined that that a young homeless man of 20 years could change my entire life during one short bus ride.

It was an earth shattering moment when I understood what a great person he was. To have unwavering faith all this time. And what a smile! Until today, I still don’t know if he was a kind of angel. His teachings are still with me and I always try to do everything with my best smile on my face.

Today's Tip: Wave, say Hi, and thank those service personnel that put their very lives on the line each and every day so that we can maintain the freedoms we have today!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bobby's Dime

I should have posted this story at Christmas but I just came across it this morning. Sometimes keeping the Christmas spirit alive throughout the year is worth doing. I hope you enjoy it.

Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn't like them and anyway he didn't own any. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold.

Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. Try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend."

Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far.

What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sisters, who ran the household in their mother's absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing.

Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to.

Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime.

Never before has anyone felt as wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment. As he held his new found treasure, warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when salesperson after salesperson told him that he could not buy anything with only a dime.

He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering. Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you."

As Bobby waited, he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.

The sound of the door closing as the last customer left jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid.

Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.

"That will be ten cents young man." the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime. Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime! Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?"

This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, "Merry Christmas, son."

As he returned inside, the shop keeper’s wife walked out. "Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?"

Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, "A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.

When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars.

When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses."

The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at all but their heart warmer.

by Thomas Pucci

Today's Tip: Do something fantastic in the life of a child today and show them the magic that still exists in all of us! Make a child's day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Give the Spirit of Kindness

In light of the very recent hard times that remain on our current horizon, the view hasn't changed very much for some. Let us all remember that we, ourselves, could very well find our selves in this same predicament one day. Here is another heart warming story to share with all of you.

"It has been a very hard couple of years, and I've been going through many ups and downs. [...] I am truly blessed however, to have loving people in my life to hold my hand through this life altering process.

That's where Elizabeth comes in. She lives underneath an archway near a Rite Aide. I felt so sad inside, and wondered what I could do, or say to help this poor lady. She told me that she had family, and I wondered how on earth they could allow their own flesh and blood to live on a cold sidewalk. I did what I could that day to buy her a meal, but somehow I couldn't stop thinking about her.

The next day, I was looking for her, and gave her some clothes, an umbrella, some food, all I could. Since my meeting her, it's become my mission to do what I can to make her day brighter. My point being, as hard as we think our lives are, there can be someone else's life, that is that much more tragic. Please, be selfless and care about the people we don't know -- we are all on this earth together!"

Today's Tip: Step outside of your comfort zone and let your charity and giving be shown to those that could really benefit from it. Don't judge, just give with your whole heart as if God himself were asking you to do it.