I am not the world's best airline passenger. I'm not afraid of flying, it's just that if I had the choice I prefer to keep my feet planted on the ground. I get a little claustrophobic and I always seem to get a kid sitting behind me that enjoys kicking my seat for thousands of miles. And then there is always some guy with headphones on that is playing music so loud that ten rows of passengers feel they've just turned on a radio station they don't like. Giving up total control of my life and destiny for a couple of hours sitting in a tin can shooting through space is not my idea of a good time. I guess I've always thought that the pleasure of the destination was never worth the agony and inconvenience of getting there. So my trips to the airport during the past few months have been to confined to dropping off or picking up friends and relatives. This past Sunday was a typical jaunt to the airport. As I was sitting there killing time, waiting for my wife's plane to arrive, I noticed something that I had taken for granted in the past. There were dozens and dozens of people waiting for their arrivals near the gate. Nothing unusual, but what struck me was the way people were waiting. I had seen it a hundred times before, but not in the same light. What I'm talking about is a "dance" that takes place at each gate when arriving passengers parade off their plane. It is totally unrehearsed, yet it is a masterpiece of choreography. Despite never meeting, all of these strangers find their place and know exactly where to stand and what to do. And the results are as touching and emotional as the best play, concert or movie. But it's not a movie -- it's real life. This little ritual is conducted every few minutes. If you're lucky, you might even be a participant. I've always thought it was awkward for those parading off the plane to walk through the gauntlet. You know what I mean. They walk off the plane single file and suddenly they are greeted by dozens of strangers who are staring at them. Some passengers go out of their way to look pretty bored, others have big smiles. Their eyes are moving quickly to find a familiar face in the crowd which can be overwhelming for a few seconds. But what a sight -- the expressions and excitement that occurs in that split second -- when those eyes meet between friends and loved ones. To watch lovers connect as if they had been apart for years (more likely days); seeing parents greet their children who have been away, possibly arriving back from college; witnessing wives and young children seeing daddy coming home for the first time in months from a military assignment. And the best sight is the thrill of grandparents seeing and holding their newly born or young grandchildren for the very first time. Yes, there are lots of smiles, hugging and tears. One boy, about 4 or 5 years old, spotted his grandfather and ran toward him with open arms yelling, "Grandpa!" His grandfather didn't have to say anything -- just lifting him up to the sky and then holding him tight. This convergence of souls and emotions happens in a flash. From quiet anticipation as the plane touches down to an organized jumble of conversation and dancing among the passengers and their waiting relatives and friends. No one told them what to do. Everyone knew where to stand. Sometimes words were spoken. Other times just a smile and hug were greeting enough. It's all spontaneous and natural. It's all over in a couple of minutes. The dance dissipated as quickly as it began as this group of complete strangers heads off to baggage and goes their separate ways -- never to be in the same place at the same time again. But as this ends, a brand new troupe congregates at another gate to repeat these special moments... just a little slice of life in the day of those who know the joy of being part of the "airport dance."
I saw a beautiful example of kindness in 1968 during the Special Olympics track and field meet. One participant was Kim Peck, a brain damaged, severely handicapped boy racing in the 50-yard dash. Kim was racing against two other athletes with cerebral palsy. Kim moved quickly ahead of the other two. Twenty yards ahead, 10 yards from the finish line, he turned to see how the others were coming. The girl had turned her wheelchair around and was stuck against the wall. The other boy was pushing his wheelchair backward with his feet. Kim stopped, went back and pushed the little girl across the finish line. The boy in the wheelchair going backward won the race. The girl took second place. Kim lost.... or did he?? The croud that gave Kim the standing ovation didn't think so.
A STORY OF LOVE/LIFE!
It's been eleven months since my diagnosis of leukemia. The new chapel is to be dedicated at Mississippi College, my Alma Mater, and a place close to my heart I need to be home. Looking back, I remember heariNG the dreaded diagnosis of cancer. I remember saying words that day but feeling nothing. No sadness, no helplessness, no anger, no longing. It was as though a fuse had blown: the lights had gone out. Never in my forty-five years had I been in such a state. I couldn't articulate a thing and I wondered what was happening to me. I felt detached from my body, unable to care! It just couldn't be happening! Any minute, I just knew God was gonna whoosh on in and take it all away. My thoughts were on sleep... perhaps with sleep I'd recover. Weeks later, I knew that I had to be honest with myself and admit that I was afraid, and that I did need God, needed somebody, needed everybody! I began to find a way to live while searching also for a way to say goodbye. I concluded that there are no rules for living or dying...So, God sent me an angel to help me decide that I needed to devote myself to being Alive . Alive to make Memories... Alive to have courage Alive to let go with emotional honesty Alive for popcorn and jelly donuts Alive for remembering the good times and sharing the time that's left. And that's when I realized, ~~God does give us endurance to match encounters.~~ I hope that one day my husband can gaze into the expanse of the blue sky, full of puffy clouds, and remember. Remember when he would say "That cloud looks like a turtle." If he does, I know he will say, "but Annah would always say, it looks like a bird." And I will be smiling down on him and say,"It's beautiful up here, honey....you'd love the view!" Take a little time now to recall some of the fine memories that you have. There are some, you know. Give your memory time to call them back and share them with someone you love. They may bring some tears to your eyes, but they will also warm your heart. Allow your memories. They are part of you...they are your story! There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb; but together we can do it by taking one day at a time. This web site was created by Annah, as a gift of love for her family and friends, on Thursday, November 12, the day before critical surgery which resulted in the removal of her leg as the result of cancer. At the time the tumor was found, she had been a patient for several months in the hospital following a bone marrow transplant. Annah is a very wonderful, gifted, Child of God...and she is a fighter...However, she and her family are in need of prayer...Please pray for this family that God's Will is done. But Annah is at peace...as you can see from this beautiful web site...please share her link with your friends and loved ones...NOTE: The "ANNAH...IN FULL BLOOM" graphic was not part of her original page and has been added to her site as it is so befitting this lovely lady... On Friday, November 20, Annah's beloved husband, Ted, discharged her from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston, where she had been a patient for almost five months, and, accompanied by a nurse, granted her last wish and flew her back to her Mississippi home...Annah "got her wings" and went to be with God shortly after returning home, surrounded by her husband and children and other family members... Services for Annah were held in her hometown in a suburb of Jackson, Mississippi...Annah's wishes were for "no flowers", only a single long-stem red rose from her husband, Ted...she requested that friends wishing to give flowers to her instead give a "single red rose" to the one they love most...and to tell them they are loved...Also, her wish was for donations to be made to the American Cancer Society and for all to seriously consider becoming a bone marrow donor...To find out more about this program and how you can give the gift of life, just click on "Annah's Rose of Love"...this rose is a gift from Annah to you to be placed on your web site...just click on the rose with your mouse, and then link to the National Bone Marrow Program...you will be helping to make Annah's dream come true...for a cure to be found for this horrible disease and for lives to be saved thru this miraculous donor program! The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center - Houston, TX On the day of her funeral, 300 "Peace Roses" were delivered to her home for a special rose garden to be planted in memory of Annah, a gift from her husband. A representative of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center recorded a very special message in her guest book the week following her death, acknowledging, that a rose garden would be created at the cancer hospital also in her memory... Annah's Rose... Just one rose, it starts out small, a flower or a sign. With rain and love it comes to know the sun and grows in time. Just one rose, it grows to know the heart as its own sign. That's why you'll find when I think of you it's the rose that comes to mind. ~~Ashley Almost Home If we travel East, or if we travel West, no matter where we roam, Oh! How sweet it is, to turn around, and know we're almost Home. As we search the world for its beauty, whether it be land or foam, The most beautiful part of our journey, is the time we're "almost Home." As we struggle in life for incentive, and try to reach for the dome, How great it is to know we have tried, and know we're almost Home. My footprints will soon be over, that are made in clay or in loam. "Please Lord, deliver a message... Tell my Mother, "I'm almost Home." Howard McDowell (NOTE: Howard McDowell is the late father of Country Music Star, Ronnie McDowell... to visit Ronnie's "Florida for Ronnie" fan club page... "Annah" (Latin form of Hannah..."favor" or "grace"...the Mother of Samuel the Prophet in the Old Testament) Flowers and footprints were at your grave. And I wondered who had come and what feelings your grave had absorbed. Across the field of Hope, I wanted so badly to hear God's roll call of those special angels with birthdays. I listened; knowing your name had already been called. Watering your grave with my tears, I talked to God. Now, seemingly so far removed, I questioned how I could go on living without you, Annah, and if you could enter my heart at this moment, just what would you say? Would it be the same words of love you shared during our last dance as you wiped away my tears? "Ted, you have life, you have love and many things you know you must do. So cry and grieve, but go on! You have loved me until you became a part of me. That part I will take with me to God. I have loved you until I have become a part of you and that is my gift to you for always." I peeled off a petal of the one single red rose I held. Another petal. Another. And another. Until all the petals were all gone. Much like your life Annah. I felt you wipe away my tears and I knew it was time to go. I knelt down and etched the words, "I love you Annah" into the fresh moist dirt. As I walked away, muggling my sorrow with joy, I knew "you put the blue back in the sky, the rainbow in my eyes and the red back in the rose just when I needed it most" and I felt your love shining on and knew it would be a never ending light. And I knew that God was with me, working, filling me with his presence and giving new life. Ted December 28, 1998 (Annah's 46th birthday) May we all find Annah's peace, which is a gift from God when we love and place our faith in Him... "But all who humble themselves before the Lord shall be given every blessing, and shall have wonderful peace..." If there is light in the soul, There will be beauty in the person, If there is beauty in the person, There will be harmony in the house, If there is harmony in the house, There will be order in the nation, If there is order in the nation, There will be peace in the world. ~~
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to be kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. February 18...Ted has been discharged from the hospital; however, he still has a rehabilitation period ahead...he is facing the possibility of two additional surgeries which will hopefully allow him to walk again...on behalf of his family and everyone who loves this tremendous statesman and friend, I am asking for prayer...prayer for healing of his body, and for God to bless this family in a very special way...and prayer for our country, that God will indeed bless America again....
.FAITH makes all things possible...HOPE makes all things bright...LOVE makes all things easy...take time to say "I LOVE YOU" to your loved ones today for there is no promise of tomorrow.......................
Cindy glanced nervously at the clock on the kitchen wall. Five minutes before midnight. "They should be home any time now," she thought as she put the finishing touches on the chocolate cake she was frosting. It was the first time in her12 years she had tried to make a cake from scratch, and to be honest, it wasn't exactly an aesthetic triumph. The cake was . . . well, lumpy. And the frosting was bitter, as if she had run out of sugar or something. Which, of course, she had. And then there was the way the kitchen looked. Imagine a huge blender filled with all the fixings for chocolate cake -- including the requisite bowls, pans and utensils. Now imagine that the blender is turned on. High speed. With the lid off. Do you get the idea? But Cindy wasn't thinking about the mess. She had created something, a veritable phoenix of flour and sugar rising out of the kitchen clutter. She was anxious for her parents to return home from their date so she could present her anniversary gift to them. She turned off the kitchen lights and waited excitedly in the darkness. When at last she saw the flash of the car headlights, she positioned herself in the kitchen doorway. By the time she heard the key sliding into the front door, she was THIS CLOSE to exploding. Her parents tried to slip in quietly, but Cindy would have none of that. She flipped on the lights dramatically and trumpeted: "Ta-daaa!" She gestured grandly toward the kitchen table, where a slightly off-balance two-layer chocolate cake awaited their inspection. But her mother's eyes never made it all the way to the table. "Just look at this mess!" she moaned. "How many times have I talked to you about cleaning up after yourself?" "But Mom, I was only..." "I should make you clean this up right now, but I'm too tired to stay up with you to make sure you get it done right," her mother said. "So you'll do it first thing in the morning." "Honey," Cindy's father interjected gently, "take a look at the table." "I know -- it's a mess," his wife said coldly. "The whole kitchen is a disaster. I can't stand to look at it." She stormed up the stairs and into her room, slamming the door shut behind her. For a few moments Cindy and her father stood silently, neither one knowing what to say. At last she looked up at him, her eyes moist and red. "She never saw the cake," she said. Unfortunately, Cindy's mother isn't the only parent who suffers from Situational Timbercular Glaucoma -- the occasional inability to see the forest for the trees. From time to time we all allow ourselves to be blinded to issues of long-term significance by Stuff That Seems Awfully Important Right Now -- but isn't. Muddy shoes, lost lunch money and messy kitchens are troublesome, and they deserve their place among life's frustrations. But what's a little mud -- even on new carpet -- compared to a child's self- esteem? Is a lost dollar more valuable than a youngster's emerging dignity? And while kitchen sanitation is important, is it worth the sacrifice of tender feelings and relationships? I'm not saying that our children don't need to learn responsibility, or to occasionally suffer the painful consequences of their own bad choices. Those lessons are vital, and need to be carefully taught. But as parents, we must never forget that we're not just teaching lessons -- we're teaching children. That means there are times when we really need to see the mess in the kitchen. And times when we only need to see the cake.
Make a choice!Take a good look around you and realize that your life right now is the direct result of all the choices you have made in the past. How do you like where you are? You've certainly made a lot of progress to arrive here. You've survived and managed to thrive up to this point. Are there things that could be better? Probably so. Are there places you would like to go, things you want to do? Can you envision the possibility of life being even better, even more fulfilling and enjoyable, than it is right now? So how do you get there? The same way you got where you are right now. As a direct result of the choices you make. There are choices and there are choices. We usually pay a lot of attention to the big ones -- where to go to college, who to marry, which house to buy. Yet often the most powerful choices are the "little" ones, the ones which are made day after day -- whether to make just one more sales call, whether to get up a few minutes early and exercise, what kind of attitude to take on a daily basis toward work and career. Your quality of life is the result of every choice you make. And every moment is a choice. The future is steadily approaching. Pay attention to your choices. They will actively shape that future. -- Ralph Marston ++++++++++
LOOKING FOR A RELATIONSHIP (By Virginia Santoro)
Friday, March 5th: "We keep perpetuating the myth that there's a "Mr. Right" or "Miss Right" out there who can ride in on a white horse, with no troubles of his/her own, and make everything wonderful. Truth be told ~ Mr. Right or Miss Right are no doubt looking for somebody to answer their own 911 call. Do you REALLY think somebody is going to come looking for the kind of burden your problems would lay on them? Even if they were willing (and most aren't), are they able? A man or woman are not your God. It is the God in you ~ the very Love in you that can restore what you've lost and make your life what it is meant to be. That's how you make it wonderful. The relationship you seek will become real in your experience when you stop expecting someone else to be the antibiotic to all life's infections. The cure is within you. The relationship is an expression of the radiantly healthy you that YOU bring forth to join with another. Until you heal your "Self," you don't have the right to expect to join with someone else."
~~~ "You cannot belong to anyone else, until you belong to yourself." (Pearl Bailey) ~~~ "Your divine mate is seeking you, and you can only meet divinely." (Jewel Diamond Taylor) ~~~ "Would you marry you?" (Iyanla Vanzant) ~~~ "You are so loved!" ~~ +++++++++++++++++++++++++
Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there, to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson,or to help you figure out who you are or who you want to become. You never know who these people may be (possibly your roommate, neighbor, professor, long lost friend, lover, or even a complete stranger), but when you lock eyes with them, you know at that very moment they will affect your life in some profound way. And sometimes things happen to you that may seem horrible, painful, and unfair at first, but in reflection you find that without overcoming those obstacles you would have never realized your potential, strength, willpower, or heart. Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by chance or by means of good luck. Illness,injury, love, lost moments of true greatness, and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of your soul. Without these small tests, whatever they may be, life would be like a smoothly paved, straight,flat road to nowhere. It would be safe and comfortable, but dull and utterly pointless. The people you meet who affect your life, and the success and downfalls you experience, help to create who you are and who you become. Even the bad experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are probably the most poignant and important ones. If someone hurts you, betrays you, or breaks your heart forgive them, for they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to when you open your heart. If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally, not only because they love you, but because in a way, they are teaching you to love and how to open your heart and eyes to things. Make every day count. Appreciate every moment and take from those moments everything that you possibly can for you may never be able to experience it again. Talk to people that you have never talked to before, and actually listen. Let yourself fall in love, break free, and set your sights high. Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don't believe in yourself, it will be hard for others to believe in you. You can make of your life anything you wish. Create your own life and then go out and live it with absolutely no regrets. Most importantly, if you love someone tell them, for you never know what tomorrow may have in store. And learn a lesson in life each day you live. ************************
Today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday. Was it worth it? *****************************************************************
THERE SHE GOES
My friend's mother-in-law was ill and she told her grandson who lived with her that she thought that she had the flu. He dearly loved Grandma, and did all he could to help her as she was not in the best shape even though she had lived alone before this much loved granson had chosen to live with her to help her. That night the grandson asked Grandma if he should get medical help for her as she seemed worse, but she said "no" she would be okay. He got up early the next morning and was fixing her coffee when he heard her talking, so went into her room to see what was going on, and asked her why she was talking to herself. She said that she was NOT talking to herself -- that Grampa (who was deceased) was there and he wanted her to go with him, and she would like to do just that. She said that she couldn't go until she asked her grandson if it was all right with him for her to go with Grampa. He was stunned and told her that if that was what she really wanted, it was fine with him. She closed her eyes and quietly died. The grandson was in shock and as she had requested "no resucitation" he didn't call for medical help, just notified the large family. Two of Grandma's great-grandsons were especially distraught as they were little and couldn't understand why she wasn't there anymore. The night after the funeral they were crying for their grandmother, so to help them, their Mom told them a little story that she made up. She took them to the window and said that all of the stars in the sky belonged to someone that others loved -- that God had taken them home, and one of them was Grandma's. At that moment there was a wonderful bright shooting star. The boys said in unison, "There she goes!" The experience dried up their tears and they were content that Grandma was OK and that they could be with her anytime they wanted, just by looking at the night sky.
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