Hardships and How They Help Us

“He who knows no hardships will know no hardihood. He who faces no calamity will need no courage. Mysterious though it is, the characteristics in human nature which we love best grow in a soil with a strong mixture of troubles.”–Henry Emmerson Fosdick

Going through a difficult time is never easy!  We are not particularly thrilled when we are in the middle of hard times, and often are filled with feelings of resentment towards the situation, circumstances, others who are involved and then God usually tends to get blamed for far more than His share in our process of poor choices.  Going through these times seems to last forever as time tends to come to a stand still. You know the saying that “time flies when you’re having fun“, but then there is the flip side, it tends to stand still when we are battling with something.

But there is a positive side to all of this and believe it or not, you tend to gain so much more after having passed through tough times than if you were to continue sailing through everything without adversity.  We tend to take for granted what comes easily, and will appreciate much more the things that we have to fight for.  There is no victory without a battle, there is no triumph without a trial, there are no roses without thorns, to gain beauty you often have to suffer a bit.

I was just thinking of a tough project I had gone through not too long ago where we were trying to set up a youth center to train young people for volunteer work.  We received a large property with an old style farm-house on it that lacked heating and some of the more basic necessities. It was given for our use for a very low price because we had agreed to fix it up in exchange for a long-term contract for our work.  Not having a great financial backing we had to approach different businesses to ask for their help in the way of donating the needed supplies.  The work on it was huge and we were for the most part new at this type of work, but with time we were given a lot of help by experts to do the more technical jobs.  The house had, no heating, well water that needed a purification system since it came from an impure source, and the walls and windows had to be redone.

We went on with this work for 4 years, 3 of those 4 years we had no heating as this was the most difficult item to get help with.  Thank God the first winter was very mild, but that did not last all that long.  The area where this farmhouse was is known for its humidity and when winter set in, almost every day there was a thick fog that took half the day to dissipate.  Each year that went by was becoming more and more difficult to face, and the situation became a bit depressing, to say the least, as the cold would reach deep down into the bone! We finally got the heating working and then our time was up for this particular project.

You might think, how can there be anything positive come from torturing yourself for these 3 years?  Well, I’ll tell you that , since this time after having spent most of my living years in the comfort of a warm house and environment, today, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for heat, clean water to drink from the tap and a comfortable place to lay my head.  Even the seemingly simple and “normal” things of life can be taken for granted and overlooked, until you have had to experience a time without the things that today you just take for granted!

My parents, as those of many others who have gone through a World War, and the Great Depression learned through those times to appreciate the value of everything they ever had.  We grew up with most of what we needed and even wanted!  Today, however we are faced with a serious economic situation that is surely going to help us to grow to be wiser, more saving, more thankful tomorrow, once things finally start turning around.  There is so much that you can learn through adversity and times of trial and tribulation that whilst in the midst of it all can cause you great despair.  In the meanwhile, hold on tight, don’t lose hope …ever, once the roller coaster comes to a halt and you finally get down, you will feel a bit wobbly for a  little while , but once you find you footing, you will be strengthened more grateful that it is over with and that you are still alive to face the next adventure!

Have you had it rough and learned from difficulty? I really do like it when you comment!

Appreciation–An All Too Neglected Practice

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary. — Margaret Cousins

There are so many things in life that we simply take for granted, particularly the people that we live with, work with, and encounter in the course of the day.  It is so common to grow used to things being the way they are that we don’t pause long enough during the day to take notice of them let alone to express our appreciation for them through words or acts of appreciation.

It is interesting that this might be so since we all know how wonderful it is when someone takes notice of something that we took the time to attend to at work, or a special something we do for our spouse, or family member.  Not that this is why we do things for others in the first place, but when anyone sits up and takes notice of us, and expresses their appreciation to us, it makes us want to go out of our way to do even more things for them.

Knowing how appreciation helps to spur us on to do better, it is a wonder why we don’t show our appreciation more generously to those who we live and work with.  Of course if you have been raised in an environment where little or no appreciation has been given for what you have done, then it can seem normal to you to treat others the very same way that you have been treated. In the Bible it says to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you“, but this often is miss quoted or miss applied as “do unto others as they have done unto you“.

Have you ever worked really hard to accomplish something at work or at home that you felt real satisfied with and that brought about real progress or improvement, but then it only gets a passing glance?  No appreciation for all the hard work, the long hours, the concentrated effort that went into it, and in the end no one acknowledged you for it?  How did that make you feel?  Did it make you want to continue to do it again or rather did it make you feel like “what’s the use”?” Most likely you felt like saving yourself the effort the next time around.

Now try this…stop and take a moment to thank your wife for having cooked a wonderful meal and let her know how much you appreciate the way she prepared the meal. Tell you husband how much it means to you when he takes the trash out with out you having to remind him.  Thank your son or daughter for the extra chores that they do around the house and make sure to reward them in some significant way for their good job! Express today to your co-worker your appreciation for all the details that they tend to throughout the day!  Do this regularly for a few months and see if you don’t notice a major difference in how they work, respond to you and reciprocate your attitude!

By applying this principal and putting it into practice, you are sure to notice a tremendous change for the better!  Appreciation is powerful, appreciation is yet another way of expressing love and it is love, not money that makes the world go around!  How has it changed your life when you have been appreciated? What was it like to go largely unnoticed? Your comments are appreciated!  (Yes they truly will be!)

Gratitude and Positiveness

“I once complained because I had no shoes, till I met a man who had no feet.”

Life is so full of ups and downs, and twists and turns.  It is sad but it is so easy to look at what we don’t have instead of being thankful for what we do have.  We work hard at times to achieve certain goals, and when things don’t work out just the way we think that they ought to, it becomes all too easy to complain or get upset.

Most of our problems however are things that we can work out without much ado.  If things don’t quite work out one way, we can easily adjust things to work out our problems in rather simple fashion.  There are however those who have it harder than ourselves, they were not necessarily dealt the best cards out of the deck, you might say.  Some people can tend to grow bitter about it and blame God, parents nature or life. And yet others can turn something considered catastrophic and male into a gift.  If you have not yet met this wonderful person, allow me to introduce to you, Nick Vujicic

Did God make a mistake?  Should his parents have aborted?  Nick has inspired millions throughout the world to reflect on their lot in life.  He has truly inspired me as well and I pray that after having watched this video you can realize how silly most of our problems are in comparison.  And who may have a true difficulty, handicap or problem, you can turn around and make it into a gift and inspiration to the entire world!