July 2012

By the time a person is contemplating retirement it is time for a few reflections on life so far.  I started thinking about my life decisions to date and where they had led me.

Was I naïve in some ways? Yup… Did I trust a little too much?  I trusted without verification, but I was not trained to ‘verify’  -  that is, to find out whether what someone said was really true.  I was trained to forgive and tried to do that.  This path led to some disappointments and many of my missteps, I’m sure.

In many cases we just believe what someone says – from our family and friends to our country’s officials and leaders.  The result of all this is where we are today, in all the parts and places of our lives and in our country’s life also.

The good thing about going to church is that we can get a re-direction, a checkup of sorts, on where we are headed now.  And the perspective is wide enough that we can help ourselves and others in the process.  Going to church helps me think about the plight of those less fortunate than me, including parents, friends,children and our beloved animals and pets.

Church is a place where I can feel safe and protected by those around me, who are there because we have common beliefs and a chance to make life time connections with others.  In church I realize I am not alone in my values and am reminded that helping others is a worthy goal.

Kindness and love are the only answer.  Conversely, cruelty and terror cannot be tolerated.  We all have to deal with the results of our actions, even though we have tried in many cases, to do our best and something has not worked out.  In church we hear that even though we have failed, we are encouraged to try again, and try to do our best, not only for ourselves but for others. 

The rewards of this behavior are amazing.  We feel part of a larger effort, not alone in our own struggles, and we feel good about ourselves by helping others, developing inner strength from knowing that we are doing the ‘right thing’.

I was very close to my Mother and spoke with her almost every day.  Periodically, I would have some dilemma that seemed hopeless and would complain to Mother about the unfairness or difficulty of a solution.  When she and I could not resolve a problem she had a stock answer, which was “Well, Mary, there is only one thing I can tell you.  You are just going to have to do something for someone else, a good deed.”  The first time I heard this I was practically insulted.  What?  Leave my little insulated world of Me, Me and Me?  Think of someone else, and their problems?  But what about me? 

These were not welcome words but it did not take long to realize that the real world was a lot bigger than ‘my world’ and that my problems were not exactly so important.  They forced me to forget about myself or at least, to try to let go and focus on something else and ‘someone else’s problems’.  Amazingly, my big issues always seemed to disappear and fade away.

Mother always listened and gently re-focused me to the bigger picture about life.  Church does the same thing for me.  My pastor helps to put my life in perspective and point me to the larger reality of the world, and the needs of many people less fortunate than me.

I do believe that God listens to me and that some remarkable things have happened in my life as a result of my prayer and beliefs.  Blessings are not a one-way street, I have to do something to demonstrate that I can pass on blessings, not just sit and receive them.  That is hard, but the rewards are wonderful.

Remember, It’s rChance to Live and Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way!

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

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Whenever the “Fourth of July” holiday descends upon us, I am reminded of July 4, 1826, and the sad and ironic events of that day.  Two of the Founding Fathers of our American Revolution died on that day, exactly fifty years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.  The two were Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

Both men were truly Founding Fathers.  Adams was the champion for independence at the Continental Congress while Jefferson most eloquently put down in words the defining document of the Continental Congress and our nation, The Declaration of Independence.

John Adams was the second President of the United States, and Thomas Jefferson was the third.  In fact Jefferson defeated Adams in Adams bid to win a second term.  When one Founding Father opposes another in a Presidential election there obviously was a falling-out between them.

But as statesmen of the highest order, they put aside their differences and exchanged a series of letters reflecting on what the two men help bring forth, the United States of America. 

It was perhaps fitting, that both of them passed on July 4, 1826 – exactly fifty years after the birth of our nation.

Do you have a 4th of July story to share?  We would love to read it and so would rChance readers.

Remember, It’s rChance to Live and Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way!

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