Happy Independence Day! I am so thankful for being a citizen of the United States of America! We are so blessed! I hope you are able to spend this day relishing in the freedoms we enjoy and surrounded by those you love most!
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Miracles can brighten your day, comfort your soul and strengthen your faith. Learn how to see them everywhere.
I have been thinking a lot about miracles lately. Miracles are big, some are small and I think most might even go unnoticed. Miracles can brighten your day, comfort your soul and strengthen your faith. The best part is there are already miracles in your life. Here’s how to spot them. Slow down
You are busy. I am busy. Everyone is busy. Some people bask in the glorification of busy. Technology, work, activities, competition—all these things can overwhelm your life. Stop. If even for a moment, just stop. Two words that pierce my soul every time I hear or read them are: Be still. I have these two words plastered around my workspace, my home, and even my phone. Be present. Surround yourself with your family. Surround yourself with the moments miracles are made of.
David Bednar said, “Tender mercies of the Lord are real and … do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence.” What is a tender mercy? Bednar describes them as personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support and spiritual gifts. Knowing these tender mercies are sent to us personally is a miracle in itself. See how many tender mercies you can recognize today.
I was recently watching a classic movie, Charlotte’s Web, with my daughter, and one part really stood out to me. Fern’s mother asks the question, “Do you understand how there could be writing in a spider’s web?” And the doctor simply replies, “Oh no, I don’t understand it. But for that matter, I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.”
How many miracles are already present in our lives, every day? Miracles aren’t just events like the parting of the Red Sea. They include simple moments like a baby’s first smile or the beauty of the earth. Miracles should inspire not only awe but also gratitude.
Speaking of gratitude, I believe this is an essential attribute to recognizing miracles. Practicing thankfulness, paired with prayer, makes it almost impossible to not see the miracles that bless your life. Say a prayer of gratitude. You might be surprised at the miracles already there, ones you just may not have noticed. A prayer of gratitude is often the answer you need.
Many people have a gratitude journal or something of the like. Mine is called a tender mercy journal. I don’t write in it every day. But when I’m feeling disconnected or in extra need of God’s love, I’ll commit to writing down every tender mercy I see in a day, a week or so on. I find that when I’m purposely looking for them, they are more easily found. And when they are written down, they are not easily forgotten.
Everyone experiences miracles. They are already happening in your life. You just need to know how and where to look. Instead of trying to over-analyze everything, try recognizing things as miracles. Big or small, each one is significant and meant just for you.
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The subject of adoption is near and dear to my heart. The adoption of my youngest son and daughter has its own story – one that continues to this day. You can read about my adoption story in my book, A Glimpse of Heaven. However, today, I want to share someone else’s story with you as well. Adoption begins in the heart and that is where it needs to stay – I hope you enjoy today’s story!:
But one afternoon in October 2002, I walked out of the store with something more valuable than anything money could buy. I found hope in the unlikeliest of places after months of despair, thanks to a woman who decided to strike up a conversation with me in the store’s café.
It was a painful time for me. Married a little over two years, I’d suffered three devastating miscarriages in nine months and, at 42, was slowly coming to terms with the idea that I might never be able to have a child. Up until that point, I never really gave much thought to being a mother, and suddenly I could think of little else. My husband and I had been together for ten years before we decided to get married because neither of us was in a hurry to do so. My parents’ marriage had ended disastrously, leaving my mother in deteriorating health and dire financial circumstances. After her death a few years later, I vowed to maintain my independence, and I threw myself into my work as a freelance marketing consultant and fledgling writer. Motherhood just wasn’t part of the plan.
As my 40th birthday approached, I began, for the first time, to notice babies and their happy, smiling mothers wherever I went. I wished I could talk to my own mother about the yearning, hurt, and confusion I was experiencing.
On that fateful day, I’d been trudging around the city sleepwalking through meetings with clients while the voice inside me cried out, “It’s too late! You missed your chance to be a mother! You wanted an all-consuming career, and now you’ve got one.”
A light mist turned into a heavy rain. Perfect, I thought. Just the thing to match my mood. With an hour to kill before my next appointment, I ducked into Saks, hoping to distract myself with some retail therapy. When scouring the sale racks did little to lift my spirits, I decided to head to the ninth-floor café.
An elegantly dressed, slightly older woman wearing a tweed blazer and oversize pearls was seated a few stools away at the half-empty counter.
“Would you like to see a picture of my daughter?” she asked me.
“Sure,” I said, not at all sure why I was remotely interested.
She reached across the counter and handed me a photo of a smiling Chinese girl. The child was about seven years old and was wearing a Snow White costume.
“That’s Melanie. She’s in the first grade,” she said. I could hear the motherly pride in her voice.
“She’s pretty,” I said. “I love her costume.”
We were still chatting when our salads arrived. My new acquaintance told me she was exhausted, having been up half the night worrying over the news that some boys on her daughter’s bus had teased her about the “funny-smelling” Chinese snacks she had in her lunch box.
The woman explained that she felt strongly about teaching her daughter about Chinese customs and maintaining ties to her heritage.
“What made you decide to adopt her?” I asked, uncertain whether I’d ventured into too-personal territory.
“I didn’t want work to be my whole life,” she said.
I’m not sure if she saw the tears welling up in my eyes as I replied, “I don’t either, but I’m afraid it’s too late.”
“I was 51 when I adopted Melanie,” she said with more than a hint of reassurance in her voice. “And it’s the most rewarding, exciting thing I’ve ever done.”
When our checks came, she handed me her business card, and I finally learned her name—and in that minute, I saw a happier, more fulfilled version of myself. Jill Totenberg was a public relations consultant and a happy, loving adoptive parent. Could I ever hope to have that kind of life?
That night, I dreamed of my mother, remembering that she once had wanted to adopt a child from Vietnam, but my father hadn’t felt the same way. It was the first time she’d ever appeared in my dreams. I woke up knowing I could be—and would be—a mother. I also knew how that was going to happen.
A few days later, in the car on our way to dinner, I told my husband that I wanted to look into adopting a girl from China. “You’re enough for me,” he said. “But if you want to find out more about that, we can.”
In early 2003, we registered with an adoption agency and began an 18-month “paper pregnancy.” During that time, I kept in touch with Jill, e-mailing her occasionally. I promised to visit so I could meet her daughter, but as often happens, life got in the way. Still, the little girl in the Snow White costume and her mother were never far away in my thoughts.
When my husband and I returned from China with our nine-month-old daughter, Madeline Jing-Mei, in November 2005, Jill was one of the first people I e-mailed. “I did it!” I wrote. “I’m a mother, and she’s beautiful!”
“Congratulations,” she wrote back. “You’re embarking on the greatest adventure of your life.”
We recently reconnected on Facebook, and I reminded her that meeting her was the single most important encounter I’d ever had with a stranger. “I can’t imagine my life without Madeline. She’s the happiest child, and I adore her. I would have never really thought about adopting a baby from China if I hadn’t met you that day,” I told her. “You changed my life.”
“You were just ready to hear what I had to say,” said Jill. “It was meant to be.”
Today’s story was written by Diane Clehane and is shared from the following website: https://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/adoption-story-started-saks/2/
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A Dozen Christmas Roses
Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn’t wear boots; he didn’t own any and he didn’t like them anyway. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother’s Christmas gift.
He shook his head as he thought, “This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don’t have any money to spend.”
Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn’t because his mother didn’t care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far. What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older sisters and one younger sister, who ran the house hold in their mother’s absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother.
Somehow it just wasn’t fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing. Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn’t easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to.
Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun’s rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment.
As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn’t buy anything with only a dime.
He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother’s Christmas gift.
The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering. Then he put his hand on Bobby’s shoulder and said to him, “You just wait here and I’ll see what I can do for you.”
As Bobby waited he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.
The sound of the door closing as the last customer left jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby’s eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby’s heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.
“That will be ten cents young man,” the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime.
Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime!
Sensing the boy’s reluctance, the shop owner added, “I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?”
This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, “Merry Christmas, son,”
As he returned inside, the shop keeper’s wife walked out. “Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?”
Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, “A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn’t sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.
“When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too, was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars.
“When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses.” The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn’t feel cold at all.
Today’s inspirational Christmas Story is shared from the following website: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/holidaystories/dozenchristmasroses
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By Pastor Rob Reid
The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.
They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc., and on December 18th they were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On December 19th a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm – hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.
The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.
By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.
Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?”
The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.
The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, which was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.
What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.
One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.
The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.
Today’s inspiring Christmas story was shared from the following website: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/holidaystories/christmasreunion
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