Category Archives: Reflections
[This particular essay is often attributed to Brad Pitt. But according to SNOPES, a fact-checking website, Brad Pitt did not author this beautiful essay. The writer remains a mystery but it doesn't take away anything from the beauty and inspiration of the story. Hope you enjoy it!]
My wife got sick. She was constantly nervous because of problems at work, personal life, her failures and problems with children. She has lost 30 pounds and weighted about 90 pounds in her 35 years. She got very skinny, and was constantly crying. She was not a happy woman. She had suffered from continuing headaches, heart pain and jammed nerves in her back and ribs. She did not sleep well, falling asleep only in the morning and got tired very quickly during the day.
Our relationship was on the verge of break up. Her beauty was leaving her somewhere, she had bags under her eyes, she was poking her head, and stopped taking care of herself. She refused to shoot the films and rejected any role. I lost hope and thought that we’ll get divorced soon … But then I decided to act on it. After all I’ve got the most beautiful woman on the earth. She is the ideal of more than half of men and women on earth, and I was the one allowed to fall asleep next to her and to hug her shoulders.
I began to pepper her with flowers, kisses and complements. I surprised her and pleased every minute. I gave her lots of gifts and lived just for her. I spoke in public only about her. I incorporated all themes in her direction. I praised her in front of her own and our mutual friends.
You won’t believe it, but she blossomed. She became better. She gained weight, was no longer nervous and loved me even more than ever. I had no clue that she can LOVE that much. And then I realized one thing: the woman is the reflection of her man. If you love her to the point of madness, she will become it.
The end of the story, but we hope this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship with your significant other. — Positive Outlooks Team
There was a horse trailer parked at DD a few minutes ago. The owner was rubbing the horses face while one of our young homeless folks approached and asked to pet the horse. He then took some change out of his pockets and told the owner to help feed the horse with the change. The owner refused to take his change. So I whispered to the owner that the man was offering all that he has and it would make him feel real good to help an animal. So the owner gratefully accepted the change.
The homeless man was happy to pet the horse. This is probably a huge reward for him just being near a horse after living in the city and never having a chance to be with something so majestic. I then went into DD and bought my iced coffee. The homeless man came in and sat down. He’d probably been on his feet walking around all night. I could tell he was tired. I bought a $10 DD gift card for him and asked the woman behind the counter to go hand it to him. He just stared at the card for a few minutes before getting in line. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he was staring at that card. I hope someone leads him to our Mission. I just couldn’t approach him with teary eyes.
I hope what he experienced this morning will give him hope in his heart. It gave me hope in my heart that someday all people will look at homeless folks, not as bums or addicts, but as the kind and loving folks they are. When you see a homeless person, smile at them. Don’t turn your head the other way. A smile or a small gesture of kindness can brighten their day. I know that today my day was brightened and blessed by just witnessing this man’s generosity, despite him not having a penny left to his name.
Mark Cook is a homeless advocate and Founder of The Matthew 25 Mission, a homeless outreach center in Taunton, MA. Mark has worked with the homeless and poor for over a decade. You can follow him on Facebook, HERE.
Sun is shining through the windows of my office, making the butter yellow paint on the walls seem to smile. Something about the light and the color takes me back 15 years to a significant happening I’ll never forget.
It was a June day. The day that the yard sale of the century was held in my back yard in Salem, Oregon. A number of us joined efforts to hold a one-day extravaganza to rid ourselves of all our extra stuff! The weather was perfect, the dickering invigorating, and the experience of a collaborative sale a sheer delight.
By 3 o’clock in the afternoon, despite the fact that lots and lots of stuff had sold, there was still plenty of stuff on hand. So we regrouped and decided to offer all that remained for free. We wanted it gone!
Word spread like wildfire through the neighborhood and beyond. Soon the back yard was jammed with people . . . elbowing each other, diving to be first, wild-eyed and hunkered down, stuffing their bags until those bags burst.
Four Hispanic men walked cautiously into the melee. One approached me holding a man’s hat and spoke softly, “How much?” I smiled. “It’s free. Everything is free! Take whatever you want.” His forehead furrowed and he paused. Slowly, with increased volume, he repeated, “How much?” I took the hat, put it in a bag and placed it back in his hands. “Nada!” (My Spanish is VERY limited!) “Everything is free. This is yours!”
Reunited with his companions, he seemed perplexed. They spoke with heads together, then turned to look at me with questioning eyes. He approached next with a tea pot. “How much?” Placing it in a bag, I smiled and gently said. “Nothing. Nada. Everything is free. Please. Take what you need.” He walked away, shaking his head and gesturing his bewilderment to his companions. This process continued with several well-considered items until one man’s eyes fell on the bike with training wheels that my daughter had long since outgrown. He pointed and looked at me. I walked the bike over to him. “You have a bambina?” I smiled, and held my hand to measure the height of a small girl. “Si,” he responded proudly. “For your bambina.” I gently pushed the handlebars toward one of his hands and placed the matching bright pink bike helmet in the other. “Please, take it. For your little girl.”
The four amigos paused at the gate for a long time, with worried faces, speaking softly. They were clearly hesitant to leave the yard, not knowing if this pale, strawberry blonde American woman with the suspiciously ceaseless smile was (a) loco, or (b) setting them up to be arrested for stealing, or (c) actually GIVING all these things to them without expecting money in return.
Finally the designated spokesman came back and spoke imploringly, “How much do we pay you?”
Realizing they were afraid to leave without a financial exchange of some kind, I quickly wrote a pseudo-receipt on a piece of scratch paper listing what they had chosen, signified “Paid in Full,” then signed my name.
“Gracias” they each repeated, tentatively shaking my hand. As they walked down the sidewalk, they glanced around nervously to be sure they were doing the right thing. I waved and called, “Adios.” The satisfaction I felt was indescribable.
At sunset a sound came from my front porch. Opening the door, I saw a sight that brought tears to my eyes. There sat a cardboard box filled with a 2-pound brick of Colby cheese, a package of flour tortillas, a bag of corn chips, two pomegranates, and a child’s drawing of a pink bicycle with careful letters that read: “Muchas gracias.”
True generosity returned from grateful hearts. I was overwhelmed with emotion. To this day, I still am. And so I continue to reflect on it some 15 years later. In gratitude, I ponder it still.
If you wish to follow Carolyn Bolton on Facebook, click HERE.
This Sunday is Father’s Day, a tender day for my tender heart. I miss my father. Truth is …. I have missed him nearly my entire life. And I miss him still.
Daddy was only 21 and serving in Japan with the U.S. Army the day I was born in Southern Idaho. He was an aircraft mechanic, servicing the “Gooney birds” that carried out tons upon tons of troops and cargo and military equipment as America mopped up after our efforts in Asia during the Korean Conflict. Gooney birds were technically a modified version of the civilian Douglas DC-3 aircraft that was specially fitted with a cargo door and strengthened floor to carry heavy transport.
It was overseas that my daddy learned to love Pall Mall cigarettes with no filter, readily provided to U.S. military personnel as one of the perks of their enlistment. It was a love affair that would last a lifetime for my daddy … in the most literal sense.
When he returned to us after his enlistment, he wasn’t home for long. To this day I don’t know all the places he called home during the next 10 years, but I do know he smoked a LOT of Pall Malls, played music here and there, and came back fluent in Cajun. He didn’t come home of his own accord, but that’s a longer story. At age 10, I had my daddy back. For a while.
The ensuing decades hold hundreds of stories to be told. Highs, lows, adventures, troubles, elation, anguish … and all things in between. The constant during it all was those beloved Pall Malls. Bless my daddy’s heart. And the near constant was my missing him, for one reason or another.
I spoke face-to-face with daddy for the last time in October 2000. He visited to say good-bye, relating terrifying premonitions of an impending medical crisis. Daddy was declining quickly from a combination of COPD, chronic bronchitis and some stage of lung cancer that the VA didn’t seem to be able to put a number on. The visit was brief, focused, earnest. Daddy begged me to promise I would come to remove him from life support if he was ever hooked up to machines with no hope of recovery. There was nothing he feared more. I agreed. And, of course, I thought these were merely the fears of a very sick man whose remaining lung capacity was measurable at a frightening 38 percent.
“The call” came mere weeks later, on November 4, 2000. My stepmom told me that daddy had coded again (respiratory arrest was happening more frequently due to diminished lung capacity from that love affair with Pall Malls); this time resuscitation hadn’t succeeded. He was in ICU with a respirator breathing for him. Pupils fixed and dilated. Unresponsive to stimuli. Soaring body temperature reflecting frantic activity by his hypothalamus to garner signs of life, feedback, from the regulatory centers of his brain. I got in my car and drove straight through.
Results from three days of neurological testing catalyzed the most heartbreaking … yet to this day the most holy … experience of my life. I kept my word to my father.
We had the hospital remove all needles, tubes and machinery and move daddy to a private hospice room. With the radio tuned to his favorite “oldies” station, I pulled a chair close. I talked to him, held his hand. His autonomic functions wound down quickly. Exactly an hour after disconnection he took one last shallow breath, turned his face straight ahead and—with eyes still closed—smiled a smile that went ear-to-ear. I had the blissful experience of cradling this man who had given me my first wee spark of life as he crossed over to life beyond.
In the days and months that followed, people witnessed my tears but also heard me tell stories of my dad that brought smiles and snickers. Power that was mine for a specific window of time to be used for a specific, consecrated purpose. That power was love.
Was my father a perfect dad? Nope. But I know that he did the very best he could, given the abilities he could muster during those passages of his life that he was with me – and when he was away. He taught me that real love is a choice, not a feeling. A get-up-every-morning-and-choose-to-love-again kind of choice. None of us is perfect. Authentic love seeks to focus on the goodness in the other.
Happy, happy Father’s Day to my dad. This year and every year as long as I draw breath. Another year of me missing you has come and gone! And I love and miss you still.
If you wish to follow Carolyn Bolton on Facebook, click HERE.
[This story was spotted going viral on Facebook. It has been going on around the internet for years. So enjoy the story and let your heart be filled with grace!]
A little girl had been shopping with her Mom in Wal-Mart. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence.
It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout.. We all stood there, under the awning, just inside the door of the Wal-Mart. We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day. I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.
Her little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in, ‘Mom let’s run through the rain,’.
‘What?’ Mom asked.
‘Let’s run through the rain!’ She repeated.
‘No, honey. We’ll wait until it slows down a bit,’ Mom replied.
This young child waited a minute and repeated: ‘Mom, let’s run through the rain..’
‘We’ll get soaked if we do,’ Mom said.
‘No, we won’t, Mom. That’s not what you said this morning,’ the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom’s arm.
‘This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?’
‘Don’t you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, ‘ If God can get us through this, He can get us through anything! ‘ ‘
The entire crowd stopped dead silent.. I swear you couldn’t hear anything but the rain.. We all stood silently. No one left. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child’s life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith.
‘Honey, you are absolutely right. Let’s run through the rain. If GOD let’s us get wet, well maybe we just need washing,’ Mom said.
Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They got soaked.
They were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. And yes, I did. I ran. I got wet. I needed washing.
Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories…So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories every day.
I HOPE YOU STILL TAKE THE TIME TO RUN THROUGH THE RAIN.
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