Thursday, July 31, 2014

Benjamin Franklin Invented "Paying It Forward"

Ben Franklin and "Pay It Forward"
This totally blows my mind, but Benjamin Franklin essentially invented the concept of "paying it forward," as we know it.

In a letter to Benjamin Webb, Franklin wrote this:
"I do not pretend to give such a deed; I only lend it to you. When you [...] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.
Although he was the son of an impoverished candle-maker, Ben grew to become one of the wealthiest men in America—yet he never forgot his roots and constantly strove to better society. He founded America's first hospital, organized the world's first fire department, and dedicated the remaining years of his life to the abolition of slavery. It truly amazes me how prodigiously charitable this man was.

I challenge you to honor Ben's legacy by "paying it forward" today. Do a good service for someone in need—because the world is in desperate need of goodness.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Suicide & The Hope of God's Light

"I realized that it is part of our condition as mortals to sometimes
feel as though we are surrounded by darkness..."

As someone who struggled (and occasionally still struggles) with suicidal thoughts and feelings, this wonderful video hit really close to home. I am so grateful for the people who made it.

"Many of us have wondered if God knows us or if He even exists. Todd was someone who made fun of people who thought God was real, and he wasn’t surprised when he didn’t get an immediate answer to a prayer. But could God be giving us small but obvious answers? And how patient do we need to be to get those answers?"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Children With Down Syndrome Answer A Mother's Question...

"My baby has Down Syndrome..."

If any of you know about my family life, you'll know that I have a tender spot in my heart for those who have "disabilities."

In this heartwarming video, 15 people with Down syndrome share a message to a future mother. I still have tears in my eyes...

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Touching Story From the American Revolutionary War

The surrender of Cornwallis
In a wonderful speech about American history, David McCullough, author of 1776 and John Adams, shared a powerful story about General George Washington's troops, after they had suffered several heavy defeats:
The next morning a unit from Pennsylvania rode in—militiamen, among whom was a young officer named Charles Willson Peale, the famous painter. He walked among these ragged troops of Washington’s who had made the escape across from New Jersey and wrote about it in his diary. He said he’d never seen such miserable human beings in all his life—starving, exhausted, filthy. One man in particular he thought was just the most wretched human being he had ever laid eyes on. He described how the man’s hair was all matted and how it hung down over his shoulders. The man was naked except for what they called a blanket coat. His feet were wrapped in rags, his face all covered with sores from sickness. Peale was studying him when, all of a sudden, he realized that the man was his own brother. 
I think we should feel that they were all our brothers, those brave 3,000, and remember what they went through, just as Abigail Adams stressed in her letter. And that they didn’t quit!
Truly, our world only expands as we reach out to those who are suffering and struggling.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Frederick Douglass & The Secret Behind Success

Self-Made Men?
In 1895, Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and abolitionist leader, gave a phenomenal speech titled "Self-Made Men." It it, Douglass shares the secret behind successful men and women:
I am certain that there is nothing good, great or desirable which man can possess in this world, that does not come by some kind of labor of physical or mental, moral or spiritual. A man, at times, gets something for nothing, but it will, in his hands, amount to nothing. What is true in the world of matter, is equally true in the world of the mind. Without culture there can be no growth; without exertion, no acquisition; without friction, no polish; without labor, no knowledge; without action, no progress and without conflict, no victory. A man that lies down a fool at night, hoping that he will waken wise in the morning, will rise up in the morning as he laid down in the evening. … 
From these remarks it will be evident that, allowing only ordinary ability and opportunity, we may explain success mainly by one word and that word is WORK! WORK!! WORK!!! WORK!!!! Not transient and fitful effort, but patient, enduring, honest, unremitting and indefatigable work into which the whole heart is put, and which, in both temporal and spiritual affairs, is the true miracle worker. Everyone may avail himself of this marvelous power, if he will. There is no royal road to perfection. Certainly no one must wait for some kind of friend to put a springing board under his feet, upon which he may easily bound from the first round of their ladder onward and upward to its highest round. If he waits for this, he may wait long, and perhaps forever. He who does not think himself worth saving from poverty and ignorance by his own efforts, will hardly be thought worth the efforts of anybody else. 
The lesson taught at this point by human experience is simply this, that the man who will get up will be helped up; and the man who will not get up will be allowed to stay down.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

God Is A Weaver

While reflecting on my life this past year, I was reminded of this poem. It's a reminder that although we can't always see the full picture of our lives, God is making it into something beautiful.

The Weaver

My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me,
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Oftimes He weaveth sorrow,
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I, the underside.

Not till the loom in silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

- Author Unknown

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ralph Waldo Emerson & the Power of Reading

Ralph Waldo Emerson
I love these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson on the power of reading:
"Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a 1000 years, have set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. The men themselves were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, fenced by etiquette; but the thought which they did not uncover to their bosom friend is here written out in transparent words to us, the strangers of another age."