Inspiring Moment: Body Statue

Written by Braiden

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Just Two More Words

Written by Anonymous on January 16, 2012

When I thought about being able to spend five more minutes with a departed loved one, I immediately thought of both my parents and my mother-in-law.

I miss them all terribly.

If I had the chance, I would simply tell them all, “Thank you.”

Inspiring Moment: Tree Branch

Written by Braiden

 

Encouraging and Hopeful Words for the New Year

Written by John Paul Carter on January 12, 2012

Here’s another inspiring article from our monthly guest columnist, John Paul Carter, as originally published in his twice-a-month column, “Notes From the Journey,” in the Weatherford (Texas) Democrat. 

One afternoon last year when we were in North Carolina visiting our friends Ann and Robert, we toured the Billy Graham Museum in Charlotte. The impressive exhibits not only chronicled the life and achievements of the world famous evangelist but also the lives of the other members of his team.

In an audio interview, Cliff Barrows, Graham’s dynamic music leader, told of a time early in his career when his dad took him aside and said: “Son, you did pretty well, tonight. But let me give you a little tip. You’ll never get people to sing better by telling them they didn’t do too good. Tell them they did well, but you think they can do better.”

“Ever since that conversation,” Barrows reflected, “I’ve always tried to encourage people.” The inspiring music of the volunteer crusade choirs was due in part to Cliff Barrow’s encouragement.

It reminds me of a time, several years ago, when the roles were reversed and I learned a similar lesson about encouragement from my son. My dog Gus was still alive and Rush was staying with us between jobs. Although house-trained, Gus had made a mess in the house and I was angry and yelling at him. Rush stepped between me and my cowering pup.

Speaking just loud enough to get my attention, he said, “Stop it, Dad! Don’t you know that Gus wants to please you more than anything else in the world?” He took the dog outside and I sheepishly cleaned the rug.

Later that day, as I reflected on the experience, I realized that my now grown son, whether he realized it or not, was not only talking about Gus but also about children. It was a lesson about the human need for more encouragement and less criticism. I wish I’d learned that much earlier in my children’s lives. But hopefully, old dogs can still learn new tricks!

Centuries before the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, Isaiah prophesied that the coming Messiah “would not break the bruised reed or quench the dimly burning wick.” In other words, he would come with encouragement for those who were down and almost out. Jesus of Nazareth did not disappoint.

One who caught this Spirit of Jesus was a man named Joseph, one of the first members of the early church. Acts says that the apostles gave him a new name, “Barnabus,” which meant, “son of encouragement.” He was Paul’s traveling companion and encourager on his early missionary journeys. But when Paul became disenchanted with young John Mark, Barnabus took Mark under his wing and he and Paul went their separate ways. Think of what our New Testament might have looked like, had it not been for Barnabus’ encouragement of Mark!

It’s been my experience that most of us are doing close to the best we know how. While we need help in lots of ways, one of the things we need most is encouragement and hope.

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Saying Goodbye…Looking Ahead

Written by Tammy Redmon on January 9, 2012


Saying Goodbye…

Last month our family lost it’s matriarch. My Grandmother, Beverly June Vance, went home to heaven and to her long-awaited dance with my Grandpa Archie.

While this passing was filled with emotions and left us all feeling a great loss, it was the reality of this signifying an end of an era that shook us most of all. My grandmother was the last of her generation in our family.

Beyond the significance to our family, it is also significant to the community in which she grew up. Everyone has moved away now and all that remains are memories. As wonderful as they are, the reality is that the future generations will not know of the history that left us on July 18, 2010.

I am not one to be saddened by death; in fact, I tend to look at the passing in a way that honors history and life. With this one however, it struck me in a different way than ever before. It made me think of (as it does for most) my own legacy and the design of my life.

It is a gift in my mind to have the rich family history that I have, and it struck me as sad that my own children may not recognize the same for themselves. It begged a question. How do we honor the past as we grow into our future?

Looking Ahead…

We live our lives from day to day, often by accident. It’s not a normal behavior to plan for intentional experiences that create legacy. So much has been created for us, we now are simply going through the motions of keeping all things moving in an effort to keep afloat. But, what if it all ended tomorrow? Who would know of your effort?

When we joined together as a family to honor the life my grandmother lived, we could only think of the past. To honor a woman who lived life with joy and with intention. Today, I can’t help but feel a compelling call to action for my own life and children, to live with intention for the moment. To worry less about staying ‘afloat’ and more about living with joy. To make a difference here and now in the lives of those close to me. Not waiting on ‘someday’ for that perfect timing.

That was my Grandma. She lived with intention and with a constant desire to give to others. To nurture. Whether through her freshly baked cookies or the best ever hot fudge sundaes, she put her heart in all things. Especially when they were for her family.

The only “someday” she lived for was the day she could try a new recipe on the family or sew that matching shirt to her dress for Grandpa.

I know that you may be thinking, in death people think of life. And, while that is in part true for me today, more over I am thinking of intentional legacy. The intentional actions I make today can change many tomorrows. My grandmother’s actions changed my life for the better and gave me perspective on the choices I make today. While I will miss her deeply, I am forever blessed by who she is in me. That part of my heritage that I have a compelling call to honor and take forth into my everyday living.

What does intentional living mean to you?

How might you find yourself waiting for ‘someday’ and yet missing your today?

Might I encourage you to reflect on how you are spending your days and living your life? It shouldn’t take us to reflect in death how we want to be living in life. My grandmother lived fully and was her feisty self right until the end. She modeled the way very well; now it’s my turn.

Inspiring Moment: Angel

Written by Braiden

 

For the Love of a Great Dog Named Amanda

Written by Nancy on January 5, 2012

Nancy and Amanda as “a ball of fluff” puppy

My husband I moved to the Seattle area just about 15 years ago, and I didn’t know a soul. Fortunately, we adopted a golden retriever puppy a few months later. Amanda helped open doors to new friends and neighbors and wonderful places to play and explore. Some say the people in the Northwest are nice, but not friendly. I can say with fond authority that having a dog like Amanda makes all the difference in the world.

With her happy gait and friendly expression, people would come out of their homes to say hello to both of us as we took long walks in the neighborhood. When we visited local parks, traveled the ferries, or took road trips around the region, she seemed to smile and invite conversation.

She could shake hands and do a “high five” with anyone wishing to make her acquaintance. At home, she was a loyal companion and playmate.

She was always happy to see me when I returned home from work or errands. She often sat happily at my feet with her dark brown eyes holding my gaze and her right paw holding my hand.

She helped welcome our son Kyle to our home six years ago. She endured various home remodeling projects with good humor. The pitter patter of her paws brought joyful noise throughout our house.

Over the years, I watched Amanda grow from a ball of fluff to a mature and regal adult to a tired and weary senior citizen. As time passed, her quick and bouncy gait changed to a slow and deliberate saunter.

Sometimes, she would have trouble walking up the stairs. Her hearing grew weak, her vision grew cloudy, and she seemed so very tired. Yet every now and then, her tail would wag, and she would look at me with those dark brown eyes so I could see the puppy inside.

Last Wednesday, I learned that Amanda had a tumor. The prognosis was grim. Rather than put her through the surgery and the follow-up care at age 15, I made the difficult choice to lay her down. Through my tears, I tried hard to hold her gaze as I held her right paw with my hand. I then buried my face in her fur as she quietly slipped away.

I sat with Amanda for quite a while, remembering all the special moments I shared with her throughout her life. At six weeks old, she picked me for her new master, and I made a commitment to love her and care for her until the very end.

She led a charmed life and brought smiles and joy to everyone she met, especially me. Aside from being stung by a bee once, I don’t think she ever had a bad day in her life.

She introduced me to the people and places of the Puget Sound in a magical, joyful way. The years with Amanda passed quickly, the memories are sweet, and the end came all too soon. For the love of a great dog named Amanda, I am all the richer.

She’ll always have a place in my heart.

Editor’s Note: Nancy wrote this moving story seven years ago, shortly after Amanda’s death. She now shares her life with another magnificent golden retriever, Shadow, shown above.

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