A Story To Live By
by Ann Wells (Los Angeles Times}
My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package.
"This," he said, "is not a slip. This is lingerie."
He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached.
"Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion."
He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me.
"Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion."
I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.
I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life.
I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event-such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market if I like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends. "Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.
I'm not sure what my sister would've done had she known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing - I'll never know.
It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with - someday. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write - one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them.
I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special.
Every day, every minute, every breath truly is... a gift from God.
Words. Do you fully understand their power? Can any of us really grasp the mighty force behind the things we say? Do we stop and think before we speak, considering the potency of the phrases we utter? -- Joni Eareckson Tada
The woman in the above story REALLY CHEWED on that handful of words, mixed them with faith (walked in the words) and got a much fuller life from them. All the words cramped into her brains from a college education could not have given her a better life than those sixteen words taken to heart.
We, Christians, if we've spent any quality time reading the Bible, know the importance of words. We do not have to be walking Bible knowledge libraries to bring true change in people's lives (unless God has called you to that). A handful of carefully selected words planted with divine purpose will bring forth fruitful lives beyond our wildest imagination.
This day, spend some time dwelling on the subject of these words…
"The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." John 6:63
What do these words mean? REALLY mean! If you are a Christian, the One who spoke AND STILL SPEAKS these words lives inside you. AND He has brought His Father AND the Holy Spirit with Him. YOU are His house. He is the very Word of God. All that has ever been created was made by the Word of God and He lives inside of you. Are these words true? Now where are they in you? In your head or in your heart or somewhere in between? Oh, saint, do you have any idea of how our lives would change if we chewed on these few words and determined in our hearts to get the fullness of life out of them?
Father, I pray that someone grab hold of these words, chew on them, mix them with faith…and chew and chew and chew
In you, saints, are words that if taken to heart, would revolutionize your community.
"Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that hour what you ought to say." Luke 12:11-12
Oh, what awesome words! Are they just meant to be read as a story that happened 2,000 years ago?
Christian, the woman in the above story had a life-changing experience with the words she heard that day. We are FULL of those kind of words…life-changing words. We need to chew on them ourselves AND we need to be about our Father's business. He is interested in planting those kind of words into the hearts of those around us. YOU and I are the containers of those words…those seeds. We need to learn to be spiritual farmers…planting eternal seeds into this world's true earth…the hearts of men, women, and children.
I have read so many stories about great men and women. And so often when they tell their stories of what made them great, it was often just a few carefully planted words that reached fertile soil. We do not need to become great scholars or preachers to do this. Look at the words the man in the above story spoke. He did not spend 20 years of his life in college to learn to speak those words that changed the course of this woman's life. He was not a high-priced psychologist. A child can speak words like that. A person with no formal education at all can speak words like that.
The One Who created the stars and set them in motion by His words lives in you. He is creating New Heavens and a New Earth. From where is He doing this!? Oh, saint, can you hear it! Grab hold of these words. Receive the life in them. Don't let Satan come and snatch them away. Chew on them. Mix them with faith. Dwell upon them. Dwell in them.
Allow each of us, Father, to plant words into the hearts the peoples of this world that will set them on a higher course of life than if they had not met us. Oh, Father, do not let the reader walk away from these words without taking them to heart. Let them dwell on and in these words until they bring change, both is themselves AND in the earth in which you have planted them (your community). Father let these words grab them and not let them go until they taste of the richness found in them. Hold their attention to them, Father, until their appetite is developed for them and they chew and chew and chew. The chewing gum companies offer pigs hooves mixed with sugar which quickly lose flavor. Let them chew on Your words mixed with faith that taste sweeter and sweeter the more one chews on them. Yes, Lord, burn these words into their bosoms and do not let them go until they have developed a taste for words that are "spirit and life."
Oh, I feel the fire burning in my inner being as I dwell on these words. Let that fire go with these words and may this inspirational message go to every nation in this world. Wake us up, Lord to the awesome power of what you have planted within us that this world may become a paradise again. Amen.
-- Gary Amirault
"I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special.
Every day, every minute, every breath truly is... a gift from God."
"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." John 15:7
Mix them with faith...and chew, chew, chew.... Remember, the flavor gets sweeter, the longer you chew. :-)
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