The Power of Saying…

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Have you ever wondered how much power the things we say have?

I have been thinking about this lately…the things we don’t say that we should… like “thank you” or “I love you”, “you are special” or “I’m really glad you are in my life”. And conversely, the things we say that we shouldn’t… things said in anger or frustration; things we regret later, but no apology can erase from memory; things like “that’s stupid” or “you just don’t think” or ”what’s wrong with you”.

Can you think of a time you had the opportunity to say something nice to someone and you just didn’t? Can we afford to assume that people know what we are thinking; that they know they are appreciated, liked or loved?

I know that I can think of many times that I didn’t say an encouraging, motivational or loving word, but I could have – there was no reason I didn’t – I just didn’t. The truth is I don’t need a reason to appreciate someone for something special they are doing; or something they are struggling to accomplish that is worth a little praise; or just that they, themselves, are special, (but often I just haven’t made the effort).  I know my husband loves me, but how would I feel if he never said it? I love my children – do they know? And yes, I know that love and acceptance are much more than words, but a little kind speech can do so much to reinforce a person’s feeling of self-worth and belonging!

I read, somewhere, once that a man could tell his wife that he loved her just the way she was a thousand times, and accidentally let one negative comment slip out about her weight, her dress, or whatever and that all those “I love you’s”  would be filled with doubt. How fragile our self-worth is and how easily shook by our spoken words!

How would I have felt if my parents hadn’t always assumed the worst of me, or assumed that I was the one that was going to get into the trouble that the other two sisters actually got into? (Yes, they really did say this to me many times as I was growing up.) How could our words be used to help others who are hurting; or who have made mistakes, if we just found a way to say it differently?

We all make mistakes, we are all imperfect, but what if even while we were correcting a child for wrong behaviour; or disagreeing with a loved one, we took the time to speak our side with love and care for their feelings. What if we built them up and sent them off feeling better instead of breaking their spirits or angering them into ignoring us entirely?

If any of you remember the band Mike and the Mechanics…they sang a song called “In the living years” that spoke of missed opportunities and missed things he never got to say to his father. It is a powerful sentiment that I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to miss any more opportunities to say something and to say it from my heart!

My Christmas Prayer

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I thank You, Lord, that I am blessed with love and joy and peace;

I thank You, Lord, that I am learning humility, mercy and grace;

I thank You, Lord, that both on earth and in heaven I have a place.

I pray that all would realize the true meaning of this holiday;

I pray that with thankful hearts we not pass by any in need or lonely;

I pray that no one fights, and that all people would be free;

I pray that children everywhere can fearlessly play and live;

I pray that every heart would have hope and believe;

I pray that amongst the gifts that we receive, all may know the gift of giving.

I pray for a Merry Christmas for you and yours, and everyone!

A World We Seldom See

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Although I have been to Mexico a few times, I did something different this time…

Yes, I did the beach; the poolside bar; and the tacky souvenir tour around the city, but I also took a trip to the countryside. I visited some small towns and villages and saw some amazing things…

There were brightly coloured small homes, all in a row; a beautiful old cathedral in the middle of a town of less than 500 people; young children shyly peering out from behind their mother while she baked in a brick oven; an old man working outside (30 Celsius heat, plus humidity) in open shack, covered in palm fronds, making floor tiles the way they have for centuries; dilapidating adobe huts that looked uninhabitable; undernourished, but friendly, dogs running free all over the villages; brilliant flora and fauna everywhere, including growing out of the adobe and red clay buildings; and a group of young boys, dressed in little more than what we would consider rags, who spend their spare time making tiny carvings out of scraps of wood just hoping to sell them for a few pesos to anyone who wanders by.

There are so many common, everyday things that we tend to take for granted as being our right to have, that are unaffordable luxuries to many people both here and all around the world. Have you ever woken up and thought “I am so glad that I have electricity; a place to live with a solid roof; or a car to drive me where I want to go”, or as you were figuring out which shoes to buy to match a specific outfit, have you ever wondered “what if I couldn’t afford to have even one pair of shoes”?

I sometimes find it frustrating that our culture (North American culture) has become so self-absorbed; so focused on our own wants that we rarely even give a thought to those with less, or those in need. The sad truth is that we often feel denied if we can’t have everything we want. When I look at my beautiful puppy I cannot imagine not being able to get him medical help at the local vets, if he needed it – how could I ever imagine not being able to take my child to the local doctor’s office? When I get up in the morning and turn on my coffee machine, my computer, my TV I never stop to think what life would be like without any of them.

I know what you might be thinking, and this letter is not intended as a dig at our social/economic development, but it is meant to remind me of how lucky we really are! (Let me explain that my family is not rich, or even well off, instead I would say that my family is of average income and means, which is still far better off than many others.) I sometimes watch the news and am temporarily saddened when a disaster or unfortunate event is broadcast; and like many others I give to charities; I even sponsor a child in a foreign land, but in my day-to-day life I often forget that there is a whole big world out there, and many people just aren’t as fortunate as we are.

I guess the point that I am leading up to is that my vacation made me feel more inspired than ever before to see how many ways, (both big and small; in my country and far beyond) that I can give back; get involved; and contribute to a better world for everyone.

There is so much more I can do! And my wish would be that all of you could join me, but if for whatever reason that is not possible, at least I know that I have had the pleasure of being able to share these thoughts with you.

I went on vacation and looked beyond the traditional tourist spots to life in the country, the real country, and left with new eyes…

Be blessed and be content!

The Lonely Girl (artwork inspired by being “invisible”)

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I finally found it in an old box…

the picture I drew many years ago, the one I said I would share with you all once I found it. (It’s old and it’s crumpled, but it is a picture of me, and although in the picture the world can clearly see me, I am still alone and not included in life.)

I hope that others can find hope in the fact that you are not alone! There are people all over the world, maybe even in your school or workplace that struggle in simular ways, so take heart there is always hope and something worth breathing for!

Humanity

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I met a woman who was my sister; I spoke with a man who became my brother;

I helped a homeless person in need and we became friends…

I saw a girl laughing and I laughed with her, until we saw a person saddened and we too began to weep…

I was hungry and someone ate with me; I spoke to another of encouragement and they passed it on to many…

I worked with others to build a house, and together we passed out kindness to all we met…

I felt within myself with joy and gladness that every person alive is my family!

I think I know who you are… by how I see you.

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Q: Is this a cave in the desert or is it a tree?

I have been wondering lately, just how we see others affects how we treat them…

It’s human nature to form opinions (judgments) about things based on our first sighting of them/it, but how often is that information skewed by what we see?

Can I really feel the texture of a wool sweater just because it looks like it would be soft and cuddly – I can’t. It could be itchy and scratchy but I won’t know this until I get close enough to feel it. (Trust me on this – I have owned more than one sweater that I couldn’t stand the feel of on my skin!)

I am fairly certain that our opinions of people are often just as incorrect, or at least incomplete, because we base them on how they look; what they are wearing; the way they express themselves verbally; and whatever else we glimpse of them at first.

For example: a woman on the bus with a couple of children in tow doesn’t mean she is a single mother that can’t afford a car – she could just be choosing not to drive somewhere because it would be easier than trying to find parking. (She might even be on her way downtown to meet her husband after work for a family dinner and trip to Disney on Ice, and since he already has a car there why would she bring another?) Or the well-dressed young man you see in the coffee shop next to the court-house could be the defendant, but he could be the up and coming young lawyer fresh out of law school – can you really know without asking him? (Again, I don’t think so.)

The sad fact is that not only do we form opinions about people often before we ever meet them, but we often jump to the wrong conclusions based on what we see and dismiss the situation assuming that we have it figured out. I have seen sweet little old ladies jab at people with their canes or umbrellas to get them to move out of their way, instead of politely asking to pass. I have also noticed a “punkish” looking teenage boy (big ear studs and baggy pants type) holding open the door for a lady with a stroller.

I have even noted the difference in the way people treat me based on how I have dressed that day. For example, I decided to go to the mall dressed in my comfy sweat pants and sweatshirt (sneakers and baseball cap) one day, because I was in a hurry and really didn’t feel that well anyway, but I did need to pick up something that couldn’t wait for another day. So I wandered into a well-known store and was immediately followed around the entire store until I left, despite my answer of not needing any help when the store clerk asked me if there was something she could do for me. At this I felt a little bit like she was expecting me to steal something and I actually found it annoying enough to take my shopping elsewhere. (The store clerk lost a sale, because I got tired of being tailed like a criminal.) This can also work in reverse, because if you go somewhere dressed up, primped and looking like you own the world, people tend to fall all over you trying to help you, offering you complimentary coffee and so on. I know someone in particular who cannot afford much of what she is used to because she is now single again, but she was brought up fairly wealthy and refuses to budget or cutback. So she is drowning in debt and maxed out credit cards fill her wallet, but if you looked at her you would think she has it all together.

There are so many examples of how looks can be deceiving, that sometimes I wish we couldn’t see each other at all until after we knew each other. There is so much we base on looks and so much more to see than just appearances… we really are trying to see with blinders on!

A: (Answer: it is a tree.)