Monday, August 25, 2008
It's school time again! After a summer of sleeping in or doing things on your time, the alarm bell announcing that first day of school can be a rude awakening. Heading back to school signals a time of transition: new classes, new teachers, new schedules, and a new social scene. You're probably feeling excited and maybe a little sad that summer is over. Some kids feel nervous or a little scared on the first day of school because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school. Luckily, these "new" worries only stick around for a little while.
Dread it or love it, you gotta go to school.
What would life be like without an education? Many know the answer. And it is not a pretty picture. There are nearly one billion illiterate adults. Million of adults never had an education beyond elementary school. You probably know someone who cannot read. You may not know they cannot read, because they hide the fact. Many kids reached high school only to drop out, for one reason or another. We can be so smart at that age. Without an education, life has great challenges.
Knowledge is the key to success. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is the food of the soul.
To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to sand out in the cold.
Keeping it real.....Ric
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
We've all heard the saying that pride goeth before the fall. What is it about pride that is so attractive? What is it about pride that trips us up? Is there good pride and bad pride?
Pride is a conceited superiority. It is a part of our mind that tells us we are better than, greater than, more important than, more deserving than or more qualified than anyone else. It is an arrogance that deceives us and tries to make us believe that we don’t need God or others, we only need ourselves. Pride is all about "me, myself, and I." Pride is essentially self-worship.
Another face of pride is self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is the arrogance that says, “My way is right, no other way is right.” It’s setting oneself above others and proclaiming oneself as better than others. It is looking at the homeless person or the less educated or those with less money and thinking we are better than them.
I believe that arrogance and pride are the vain attempt to fill a hole left by a lack of self-worth. Self-worth is something much different than pride. It’s the comfortable knowledge that we have been gifted with talents that are useful and please God and other people. A quick wit or a gift for painting, a way with people or a knack for cooking, all of us have God-given talents that when practiced can astound. Self-worth recognizes these talents as having value with out the need to make them seem better than anyone else’s talent.
It's hard to stop and think for a minute, "No, I'm not worth more than anyone else, God loves us all the same and His opinion is the only one that really matters."
What is that thing that drives us to need to feel better than others?
For one, we listen to TV, especially the reality shows, where there is always a competition going on - and also advertisements that suggest if we buy a certain product we will be better than those who don’t have it.
But, I suspect it is an obsessive need to be loved. The very nature of pride says, “I don’t need you.” This drives people and God away, leaving the proud alone and lonely. Not just humanly lonely, but spiritually lonely, too. It is almost as if the proud spirit is crying out desperately for us to notice it is special when we already knew that it was. It’s the owner of the proud spirit that doesn’t know and can’t seem to understand that indeed he is special, but not better than the rest of us.
And before we all get a little puffed up with the idea that ‘we’re not like that!’ lets remember that we all are like that to one degree or another. No human has driven pride completely out. Many of us have our own little hidden prides. Hidden prides can be the most dangerous kinds of all because they are often disguised as what we believe to be virtues.
It is easy to recognize the big prides, the ones that say, “I’m bigger than, better than, more than, smarter than, wiser than anyone else. “ Inverted pride is a hidden pride that says, ‘I’m less than, worse than, uglier than, more useless than anyone else.” This kind of pride is disguised as the virtue of humility but it’s not humility at all. This too is a deflated self-worth but this one says that God made me wrong. God doesn’t do anything wrong. It is we that warp what He has made so perfectly. There are many kinds of hidden pride and our job is to sniff them out and be rid of them. They are no better than the visible prides and will do the same kinds of damage to our spirits.
Pride is a difficult thing. Pride manifests itself in selfish motives, an exaggerated ego, a low opinion of others, and disrespect for God. Most often we use the word pride where we really mean value. We tell our children, “I’m proud of you.” We really mean, “you have great value to me.” All of us want to be valuable and loved but when we become so desperate for these things, we often develop an unhealthy pride to mask our desperation.
What we really must understand is that no matter what anyone thinks of us, God loves us and made us just right. We are not perfect by any means but we are all gifted. He knows it; we must learn it and get beyond the need to let everyone know about it. Focus instead on thanking God for the great job He did.
"A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor." (Proverbs 29:23)
Friday, August 15, 2008
Dexter, a big bouncy dog, was walking round in little circles with very stiff back legs. That could only mean one thing. He was mad. Very mad. He snorted and puffed and puffed and snorted. He did so much puffing and snorting and going round in circles that he began to feel sick, so he stopped.
Mattie, a rather large black cat, suddenly appeared. "Dexter, what on earth is wrong with you?" she asked. "I'm mad," he snorted. "A very rude frog has just come up to me and called me names." "That's funny," said Mattie. "He did the same to me yesterday." "What did he call you?" asked Mattie in a caring way. She liked Dexter and didn't want anyone to hurt or annoy him. Dexter didn't really want to repeat the names and so he gazed down at the grass for a long time. "Go on," urged Mattie. "I will then be able to judge how bad the names are." "Well," replied Dexter, "he called me a Biggy, Diggy, Doggy, Woggy." Mattie tried very hard not to laugh because she thought the names were quite funny. Trying to be helpful she said, "Well you are big and you do dig." "Stop," cried Dexter. "I do not wish to be called biggy or diggy or doggy or woggy." "Sorry," said Mattie still trying not to smile.
"Anyway, Mattie, what did the frog call you?" asked Dexter with a cheeky look on his face. Now it was Mattie's turn to look away. "I'd rather not say," she replied shyly. "Oh go on. Tell me, tell me, tell me," said Dexter who was pleased that he wasn't the only one to be called names. "Well," Mattie said, "he called me Scratty, Fat, Mattie, Catty." Dexter laughed out loud. He just couldn't help himself. Then he quickly stopped laughing because he could see how upset Mattie was. Trying to be helpful he said, "Well you are a cat, and Mattie is your name and...." he stopped here and gave a little cough, "...you are a little fat." "But I am not scratty," Mattie cried. "What does that mean?" asked Dexter puzzled. "I don't know, but I don't like the sound of it," said Mattie still upset.
"I have an idea," said Dexter. "Let's go and find this frog and tell him off." "OK," said Mattie, who wasn't sure if she wanted to see this rude frog again, The two of them set off into the forest and soon bumped into their friend Dusty the rabbit. Dusty had a clever way of getting out of her hutch, and none of the grown-ups knew how she did it, but that's another story.
Today Dusty was looking a little upset, so Dexter and Mattie asked her what was wrong. "I've just seen this very rude frog," began Dusty, and both Dexter and Mattie said at the same time, "and he called you names." "How did you know that?" asked Dusty. "Did you hear what he called me?" "No," said
Mattie, "but he has done the same to us." Dusty began to feel a little better, but she still wasn't happy.
Dexter, who always wanted to know everything about everybody, asked Dusty what she had been called. "Don't laugh," pleaded Dusty, She cleared her throat and said, "He called me a Dummy Bunny with a Funny Tummy." Both Mattie and Dexter burst out laughing and poor old Dusty just sat there in silence. "Don't worry," said Mattie gently, "he called me Scratty Fat Mattie Catty and Dexter a Biggy Diggy Doggy Woggy." This brought a smile to Dusty's face and she began to feel a little better. "We are trying to find the frog and tell him off," said Dexter. "Do you want to come with us?" "Yes please," said Dusty and the little party of three set off deeper into the forest.
It wasn't long before they came to the swampy part of the wood. Frogs like these kinds of places and sure enough after a few minutes the cheeky frog appeared and hopped up to them. "Hi," he said in a friendly croak. "Don't you try and be friendly with us," said Dexter. "You have upset us all with your silly names." The frog looked surprised. "Why have I upset you? I was only being friendly. Sometimes," said the frog, "when you have good friends, you call them names. Not nasty names, but friendly silly names. That's what I did with you," "Oh," said Mattie a little surprised. "Do you mean that those names were meant to be friendly? "Yes," said the frog. "I only call people I like silly names. That means I would like them to be my friends and play with me some time."
Dexter, Mattie and Dusty thought about this for some time and decided the frog was probably telling the truth. After all the names did make them all laugh. "Ok," said Dexter. "We believe you, and we will come and play with you, but first we have to think up a name for you." "OK," said the frog happily. He liked names. Mattie, Dexter and Dusty put their heads together and thought hard, and finally came up with a name. The frog waited by the swamp.
"We've got a name for you," said Dusty. The frog hopped eagerly back to the little group. "We are going to call you the Iggy Oggy Bog Frog." The frog hopped up and down in delight. He loved it and thanked the little group for such a fine name.
The four of them said they would all come back the next day and play games with each other. So Iggy Oggy Bog Frog, Dummy Bunny with the Funny Tummy, Scratty Fat Mattie Catty and Biggy Diggy Doggy Woggy all went home happy that it had all ended so well. Having silly names wasn't such a bad idea after all.
The forest went quiet for a while, and then the frog returned and sat by the side of the swamp. He'd never had so many different animal friends and he'd never been given a name before. He was so pleased that he began to sing to himself, "I'm the Iggy Oggy Bog Frog." All the trees whispered back, "He's the Iggy Oggy Bog Frog." Iggy Oggy sighed with pleasure. He was indeed a very happy boggy froggy.
Friday, August 8, 2008
The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like that she had never missed a meal in her life.
His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.
'Leave me alone,' he growled.
To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling --her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. 'Are you hungry?' she asked. 'No,' he answered sarcastically. 'I've just come from dining with the President. Now go away.' The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.
'What are you doing, lady?' the man asked angrily. 'I said to leave me alone.
Just then a policeman came up. 'Is there any problem, ma'am?' he asked.
'No problem here, officer,' the woman answered. 'I'm just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?'
The officer scratched his head. 'That's old Jack. He's been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?'
'See that cafeteria over there?' she asked. 'I'm going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.'
'Are you crazy, lady?' the homeless man resisted. 'I don't want to go in there!' Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up.
'Let me go, officer. I didn't do anything.'
'This is a good deal for you, Jack,' the officer answered. 'Don't blow it.'
Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table.
'What's going on here, officer?' he asked. 'What is all this. Is this man in trouble?'
'This lady brought this man in here to be fed,' the policeman answered.
'Not in here!' the manager replied angrily. 'Having a person like that here is bad for business.'
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. 'See, lady. I told you so. Now if you'll let me go. I didn't want to come here in the first place.'
The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. 'Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?'
'Of course I am,' the manager answered impatiently. 'They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.'
'And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?'
'What business is that of yours?'
'I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.'
The woman smiled again. 'I thought that might make a difference' She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. 'Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?'
'No thanks, ma'am,' the officer replied. 'I'm on duty.'
'Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?'
'Yes, ma'am. That would be very nice.'
The cafeteria manager turned on his heel . 'I'll get your coffee for you right away, officer.'
The officer watched him walk away. 'You certainly put him in his place,' he said.
'That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.'
She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently. 'Jack, do you remember me?'
Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes 'I think so - I mean you do look familiar.'
'I'm a little older perhaps,' she said. 'Maybe I've even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.'
'Ma'am?' the officer said questioningly. He couldn't believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.
'I was just out of college,' the woman began. 'I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.'
Jack lit up with a smile. 'Now I remember,' he said. 'I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.'
'I know,' the woman continued. 'Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the price of my food in the cash register. I knew then that everything would be all right.'
'So you started your own business?' Old Jack said.
'I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.' She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. 'When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He's the personnel director of my company. I'll go talk to him now and I'm certain he'll find something for
you to do around the office.' She smiled. 'I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet.
'If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you.'
There were tears in the old man's eyes. 'How can I ever thank you?' he said.
'Don't thank me,' the woman answered. 'To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus... He led me to you.'
Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways. 'Thank you for all your help, officer,' she said.
'On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,' he answered.
'Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget.
And... And thank you for the coffee.'
Wishing you well.....Ric
Friday, August 1, 2008
I am a word person, I like words, both written and spoken. There is nothing more powerful, I believe, than the right words spoken at the right time. Sometimes I write words, sometimes speak them publicly, which means they are either read or heard, they somehow go out into the air. I try to have words to share that are encouraging and uplifting and loving, but Remember: even if my words touch your heart, having said them or written them gives me no special credits in heaven. My life is what matters, as is yours.
My life is my word, and it is my choice to bring good or ill with it- with my life, and not just my words.
I hope, yes, I do, to be able to bring my little estate of goodness to the world to share it. And who knows, it just might prime a pump that starts a larger process, and things might begin to become what they ought to have been.
We have far too many words these days between blogs and newspapers and the Internet and TV and radio. Maybe a vow of silence would be in order. I've often wondered about communication without words. What if we could not speak? How would we communicate the timeless truths? How could we communicate affection? How could we tell people we are in love, or angry or hurt?
I use words, I have to, but I also have to live them. Talk is cheap. It is not enough to say I love you. If he or she really does love you, you will know by their actions, regardless of what their words say.
Wishing you the best....Ric