Posts Tagged With: making a difference

By Small and Simple Things

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One of my favorite Christmas traditions every year (and possibly one of yours too!) is curling up on the couch with family and watching It’s a Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart in pure 1946 black-and-white splendor. At the end of the movie when the credits are rolling, tears are being wiped away from every eye in the room, I always wonder what it would be like to have George Bailey’s wish…to see what the world would be like without me. What difference has my simple, small life really made?

George Bailey: [George hears a train whistle] There she blows. You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?

Uncle Billy: Uh huh. Breakfast is served; lunch is served; dinner…

George Bailey: No no no no. Anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.

No doubt about it, It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas classic, a beloved movie in many, many homes. And maybe that’s because we all have a bit of George Bailey in us. We all want to do BIG things. We want to explore the world, make our mark, leave it for the better. We want to be good at something, known for something, have people remember our names after we have gone. And so often we feel like the whistle blows, the plane starts up it’s motor, the anchor is hoisted, and we’re left watching from the station. But I wonder if we realize, just as George Bailey had the opportunity to find out, no matter how insignificant, how small and simple our lives feel at times, we are making differences. Our lives are intertwined into so many others. We make ripples, and even the smallest ones touch more than we could ever imagine.

Clarence: Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

I wonder if we could all see, if only we could know what we have done. If only we knew…

I think who I have become is ultimately a collection of small moments I have shared with others.

I think who I have become is ultimately a collection of small moments I have shared with others.

If only Mrs. Chamberlain knew. An awkward tom-boy with a hideous bowl cut and no self-esteem was completely changed in her third-grade class. If only she knew how many elementary ed professors read about how every child deserves to have a teacher like her, who gives them a chance, believes in them, and loves them.

If only Regina, the owner and boss of the best family-owned burger joint around, knew. Those who have worked for her over the years would all agree she taught us far more than how to make a killer Ladybug shake or count back change. She taught us about being kind, giving people a chance, and serving others with a smile. Always. She taught us to truly care about others and think more of them than of ourselves.

Yeah, we lost almost every game. We weren’t the best in the league, but we loved soccer. We loved it because we had amazing coaches. Their pep talks when the score board read 5-0 might have seemed to fall on deaf ears, but their encouragement went far. To this day we are all changed because they taught us to love the game, to be a team, to have fun and be good sports…even if we could never seem to get the ball in the net.

If only friends from long ago knew. If only they could feel the way their simple messages, phone calls, letters, have made me feel on a bad day. If only they realized how much their friendship has meant to me over these many, many years.

If only the kind lady at the grocery store realized how far-reaching the effects of her simple gesture of allowing us to go ahead of her at the checkout counter meant. Not just to the hungry, crying baby and the exhausted mother, but countless others who I have shared her story with. I want to be her someday when I don’t have the anxious kids in tow.

If only…if only Mrs. M knew how scared my son was to start the first grade. How he didn’t like to read, how he despised writing. How he has blossomed and reads every night, writes stories on the bus, and talks about her at every meal. She is his hero. She is MY hero.

He’s only the custodian, but Mr. Mike creates ripples. The kids love him. The way he teases them in the lunch room making each one giggle with delight. He makes a difference. Every single day. They will remember that forever. If only he knew.

If only each one of us could know.

Each day, each moment, our small actions touch others. Sometimes in very big ways when we don’t even know it. We may never do really big, grand things. We may never have an audience of millions, have stadiums or buildings named after us, or have our photo on the cover of magazines or in books. We may never be the best. But life really is wonderful, and you and me, all of us, even in our small and simple ways, make a difference.

Clarence: You see, George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?

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Categories: Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

You can Create

“I wanna be a Brontosaurus!” “Mom, can I be a train conductor?” Thank goodness for pinterest, I thought to myself. A vague memory from the year before of me venting to my husband after all the Halloween festivities were over, “Next year we BUY the costumes!” floated back to my mind. I brushed it off, like I do every year. Eh, last year was different, and it really wasn’t THAT bad, was it? M, dressed up as the “Red Barron” even won the costume contest. That had to have been worth something. The hours and hours of work to create a plane out of cardboard boxes and duct tape resulted in one exhausted mom, three tuckered out kids, and a $5 coupon to the ice cream shop for winning grand prize. Totally worth it.

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We scoured pinterest for a couple minutes, and soon they’d decided on pirates. No, lions. Firefighters? Cowboys!! Cowboys. It was settled. R and N would be cowboys, M would be the horse, Dad would be the bad guy, and mom would be the “Damsel in distress?” I offered. “No, Mom. You can be the cactus.” Ok, the cactus. The cowboys we found in our closets, and the horse head we paper mached half of a milk jug and painted brown with a mess of yarn hot glued to the top.

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I threw myself on our couch and sat back to admire our work. Then, like every year, the thought came back. “Why do I go through this every single October? It would be easier, cheaper, and loads faster to just go buy them.” And then words from one of my favorite talks came to my mind.

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty…”

It seemed silly, really. I’m just creating Halloween costumes, I’m not generating amazing pieces of art for the world to enjoy. I’m not serenading visitors with beautiful melodies flowing from my fingers or my voice.

You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.”

Creating is an inherent trait we received from the greatest Creator of all. Whether it is Halloween costumes, happy homes, loving children, meals for our family, or lovely paint strokes on a canvas. We often get down on ourselves and feel like we don’t measure up. But even when our contributions seem small, when our works fall short of a masterpiece, they still make a difference. And we must keep trying.

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Peggy is older and lives in a small house all on her own. Chances are you have never heard of her. I only met her a handful of times, but her story of creation will forever be with me. Gram would visit her often, helping with grocery shopping, housework, and whatever else she needed. That’s how her story became a part of my life. You see, she is completely blind. She was diagnosed with MS and has suffered for years from the effects, but that never slows her down. Even with her loss of eyesight, she continues to bake bread for those in her small town. Gram would often get phone calls from Peggy asking her to deliver a loaf of bread to this family or that, one having just returned from the hospital with a new baby, another simply needing a friendly gesture. Her bread doesn’t always look perfect, but her creations bless the lives of all who receive it. It’s a simple act of love that she shares with others. A few weeks after Gram passed away, we received a note in the mail. It was from Peggy, someone we vaguely knew. The writing was slanted and some words went over the others. She so kindly sent her sympathy and expressed her love for the amazing woman we all would so dearly miss. That simple note was not written with beautiful penmanship. It was difficult to make out the words as they jumbled together. But that card touched us so deeply.

If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it…”

In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers.”

YOU are an artist. You can create masterpieces, you can touch lives. Maybe you don’t feel like your medium is a paintbrush, a hammer, a keyboard, a cooking spoon, or the ivory keys of a piano. Start with a smile, and go from there. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect, if it doesn’t measure up to that of others. Even if our Red Barron hadn’t won the costume contest last year, it would have still been worth the time we spent together duct taping, cutting, and painting, laughing, working, and talking. Don’t allow yourself to feel like your contributions are small. Even if your efforts only touch one, that one is worth it. Even if that one is simply you.

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All quotes taken from a talk given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Happiness, Your Heritage October 2008)

A really great 2 minute video!! Please watch: Create

 

Categories: Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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