Monday, September 1, 2014

counting your blessings

Years ago, I managed a restaurant for a while and one day I waited on a woman who had no arms. She asked if we might have a table where she could position herself a bit away from it. I wasn't quite sure what to expect at first, but this woman didn't ask for us to feed her. She did everything for herself - with her feet. It was Amazing to watch her function at a dinner table with such a huge positive outlook on life.

You have probably seen basketball games on television played by people in wheelchairs. You normally think of running back and forth on the court, but these wheelchair bound players are simply incredible and so full of life.  Who says you need legs to play basketball?

Have you ever caught yourself complaining about the simplest thing and than realizing how good you have it and how much worse it might be for others? I recall an old saying: "I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet." Think about it. The things we complain about, others might rejoice in.
 
Life is so full of blessings. Sometimes we are just too blind to appreciate them.  I thank God that I have so many friends that help keep my eyes on these wonderful prizes every day.  Thanks to Toan especially.  Just knowing him is a blessing.  Isn't it great to have people like that in your life?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Picture cooperation

I've told you this story about cooperation before, but I really like it, and since cooperation is such a great thing, I thought I'd share this story again.
 
It's about a man who was taken on a tour of both heaven and hell. In hell he was shown a banquet hall filled with diners seated at a table that was covered with all kinds of delicious food. Each person’s back and left arm were tied to the chair so that bending at the waist was impossible, and the left arm could not move. The right arm was stiffened so that the elbow would not bend. The people at the table could gaze at the delicious spread and they could smell the aroma of the food, but they were starving.

In heaven, the picture was exactly the same – backs and left arms shackled, right arms stiffened – but the diners were feasting and rejoicing, because each diner used his stiffened right arm to feed the person to his or her right. It was a picture of people working together – a picture of cooperation. Working together as a team, we can do so much more!
 
Think about it.  How wonderful this world would be if we all worked together!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

History and Michael Sam

Whether or not history looks with favor on Michael Sam, only time will tell, but this morning I simply must give at least mention here of the man who earlier in the year became the first openly gay person to by drafted by an NFL team. Michael Alan Sam, Jr does have a spot in the history books regardless of how things go these next few days.

Is he a great player?  Will he be long remembered for his on-field performance?  Well again, it is too early to predict that, but today we do know that Sam has been cut, as the Saint Louis Rams set their final roster of 53 players. Did they do it because he was gay? There are some who will be saying that of course. But there is no evidence to support this.  It just was not his time.  Sam was not a strong enough player.
 
If you are a sports reporter, today is a tough one.  It is certainly one of the busiest for tracking NFL news.  It's also the most painful day of the year for NFL players.  "Will I make the cut?"  It's tough not knowing and then if you don't make it, that is really tough - especially when you are getting a little more than the usual media attention.
 
ESPN went over the line when it felt covering the gay guy's showering habits would be a good idea, but other than that, the media gave him pretty objective coverage from what I saw.  There were actually a few who might have given some unwarranted praise.  From the team side, it looked to me like the players were treating him like a player, and isn't that how it should be?
 
How wonderful it would have been if the first openly gay NFL player turned out to be a future Hall of Famer, but it just doesn't work that way.  We don't always get greatness just because we want it.  So will Sam be remembered as football's Jackie Robinson?  Well he did break the barrier, but if in this season he remains unclaimed, we might remember little else.  But be kind to him - it isn't easy being a first anything, especially with all that attention.  Be kind to the Rams too because they did give him a chance and he just didn't make it. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Be extreme

Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist: ‘Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.’ And John Bunyan: ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.’ And Abraham Lincoln: ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.’ And Thomas Jefferson: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

“So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified.

“We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime - the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”
 
Yesterday, a friend of mine was talking about time he spend in jail as an activist.  The words above were written by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr in a letter he sent from his Birmingham Jail cell. Dr King was an extremist. My friend certainly is too.  I invite you to follow their lead! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Surprise!

Even though this blog is NOT about me, today being my birthday (I won't say which one), it seems like I should surprise everyone and make an exception.  From time to time I do say a bit about myself, but rather than sharing pictures of my various activities and tales of the many events I take part in, the purpose here is to be uplifting and encouraging about doing good in the world and coming up with more and more ways to make a difference.  I prefer to be but a humble tool in the process and to save the spotlight for the real heroes who are making a difference every single day.
 
It being my birthday though, I would like to offer some thanks to all of you who read these words.  It really brightens my days to know that folks do actually end up on this page.  The clicker says that someone comes, but it doesn't tell me who you are or what you are thinking of course, so do feel free to leave some comments!  It also doesn't tell me if you actually read this stuff, so you comments will help with that too!  Oh and if anything I ever write actually motivates you to get out there and do something, you couldn't possibly have me a greater gift!  Each year I raise funds for AIDS Walk San Francisco and for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk and I want to give thanks for all the people who have sponsored me there too!
 
I love surprises, so do feel free to surprise me any time by giving to someone else.  Surprise me with the best gift of all - love for others!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chocolate squirrel

Any thinking person would have realized that the waitress had offered us chocolate swirl, but somehow I heard chocolate squirrel.  I'm not sure whether I was thinking of an Easter sort of chocolate animal or an actual squirrel made somehow into ice-cream.  This was years ago, but still when I hear someone say chocolate swirl, I think chocolate squirrel.  It's much the same with the word ripple.
 
For some reason I don't think first of the ripples we all make in the world when we do good.  Oh I think of it all the time, don't get me wrong, but when someone just says the word ripple, the first thing I think of is chocolate ripple.  Perhaps I have some sort of chocolate fixation.
 
Did you ever stand on the banks of a pond or lake and throw pebbles into the water?  What happened?  Ripples, right?  That's the kind of ripples that would come to mind for most people, I would think.  Every time you hit the surface, this ripple effect occurs.  It's fun to watch.  As I said though, there is a kind of ripple effect in the world when we do something good.  Sharing information, doing good deeds, challenging people in acts of charity (like the ALS bucket challenge huge started as a tiny ripple and is now huge) - these are all things that can grow from a tiny ripple.
 
When information is shared from person to person, it's impact becomes greater.  This ripple effect can go on and on, just like in the water, with each circle getting larger.  If each person continues to share, there is no telling how big this ripple effect can be.
 
I really love this idea!  Within social interactions, these ripples can be seen with situations not directly related to the initial interaction.  What one person does can effect another person, even if the two have never met.
 
Do something good for someone and watch them in turn do something good for someone else.  If everyone continues to pass it on, imagine those ripples as they continue to grow.  Now let's celebrate with some fudge ripple or maybe some chocolate squirrel.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

summertime kindness

It's summertime. The days are hot. People are in a hurry to get to their vacation spots. Along the way, so folks get a little short-tempered. What a great time to practice some random acts of kindness!

Tell people in your life why you love them.  Make a point of finding the name of a store employee and then praise him/her through that company’s corporate office.  Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through.  Bring flowers to work and share them with coworkers.  As you go about your day, pick up trash.  Donate blood.  When drivers try to merge into your lane, let them in with a wave and a smile.  Call or visit a homebound person.  Pay a compliment at least once a day.
 
These are just a few ideas.  Use your imagination.  The list really can be endless!  As summer winds down, let's let our kindness continue winding up!