Friday, July 29, 2011

Turning Inconvenience Into Opportunity

Perhaps you are like me and preoccupied by the excessive heat and exceptional drought of this summer of 2011. There are times that I am guilty of just forcing myself to do what I absolutely have to. This afternoon was one of those days. After I finished cooking the Friday lunch for the Sr. Adult's group at church, I decided to go ahead and run to the next town and complete some of my "once a month" errands that I do there. Next week we're having Vacation Bible School, so I needed to get my "first of the month" chores done by the end of the month. As I prepared to drive home, for some reason, I had a sudden, passing thought about the victims of the Holocaust during World War II, as well as other groups who have suffered from horrendous crimes throughout history. The sweltering heat had led to my having thoughts of questioning why life has to be so hard at times...then I jumped in my car with its refrigerated air-conditioning as I prepared to go home to simple luxuries, such as my microwave oven and all the ice I wanted in my glass of lemonade. We not only have food to eat, houses to live in, permission to worship and come and go as we please, and basically, no one telling us we have to go live in inhuman conditions under constant threat of death and annihilation. I thought of the long ago cattle cars on the rails of Europe, that people were loaded into with a few hastily gathered possessions and what it would be like to look at your children sitting in the train beside you, wondering if any of you were going to live thru that horrible time. I'm reminded as well, of the on-going suffering of today's refugees in today's world. There are too many to make a quick list, I would leave someone important out. So, turn this time of inconvenience into an opportunity to remind yourself that "I can do this. I am inspired to make it through hard times. I am supposed to be here, God has a plan for me. I am inspired to survive for other days, because I want to continue this race, otherwise known as my life."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Another Story Of One Who Was Inspired To Survive

Before Candid Camera...before America's Funniest Home Video's...paving the way was Art Linkletter's House Party TV show. Every summer afternoon my sisters and I were home as little girls, we loved to watch him interview children on his show. During the 1950's he became a daytime television staple. Little children from around the Los Angeles area were chosen to appear in special segments every day called Kids Say The Darndest Things. I'm sure some were natural born talkers who would say anything, others were probably the one the teacher most needed a break from. What we got in exchange was hilarious, refreshingly honest television, as children said whatever came off the tops of their heads as he interviewed them. It's estimated he interviewed 23,000 children over the 27 years of the show. 

Looking back into the past of Art's early life, it's amazing he achieved what he did. Started off on a rocky path when he was abandoned by his parents in infancy, he was adopted by a minister and his wife. He came of age in the Great Depression of the 1930's. With no jobs available, he took to riding the rails and doing odd jobs around the USA. Eventually, he found a way to go to college. After college he had the opportunity to work in radio, which he said "paid better than the teaching" that he was educated for. Radio led to movies and eventually, a new industry called television. He had all the characteristics of a great talk show host: quick thinking, good in front of an audience, a sense of humor, and a great inteviewing skills - the roots of his skills could probably be traced back to the years he rode the rails as a young man.  The most beloved part of every show was when he interviewed the young children that would say ANYTHING on nationwide television. These television episodes led to multiple books with collections of the childrens' sayings. 

Art and his wife enjoyed one of the longest lasting celebrity marriages of all times - 74 years! After his daughter Diane died a tragic death, he used much of his remaining years to advocate against drug use. Art Linkletter exemplifies being a person inspired to survive sucessfully in spite of a rocky start in life and tragic family events.


"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it." John Ruskin

There is no substitute for life experiences, putting one foot in front of the other one, day after day, year after year. It changes us, like the fire changes the molten steel. No, we didn't want that house fire, that diagnosis, that loss...but we can learn to work through it, cope, and survive regardless. Eventually we are able to look back and say, I made it when I wasn't sure I could and I'm a better person for having had the experience. Social scientists have researched the difference between the youth who make it and those that don't. One common trait of those who survive successfully is resilience.

Words Of Encouragement From Audrey Hepburn

And now a few words from one of my favorite 1960's movie star, Audrey Hepburn. "Nothing is impossible. The word itself says 'I'm possible'." 

Many do not realize what struggles Audrey Hepburn had during her child and teen years. She grew up in Europe in the Nazi occupied country, The Netherlands. Her admired slim beauty was actually a result of the nutritional deprivation she experienced during her formative years. They had to live on so little food during the war, that later when she was able eat properly her body would not process the food correctly and allow her to gain weight. In her later years, she became an avid humanitarian for the refugees around the world, because she knew too well what it was like to live as a child in a war torn country.  She remembered being so hungry they made flour from tulip bulbs to make bread. Doesn't seem possible does it?

The Influence of One Man

146 years ago this past April,  Abraham Lincoln died from the assassination attempt from the night before. We would be hard pressed to think of a single American who did more for his country. He achieved much in the time he had on earth. He did not allow himself to be held back from achieving a good life because he was born in a 1 room cabin and only received 18 months of formal schooling. He had to read law books on his own because he couldn't afford to go to law school. He became a successful lawyer who even argued a case before the Supreme Court. Considered a gifted orator and debator, he started out in the political arena by getting elected as a state representative. His debates with Stephen Douglas in the 1858 U.S. Senate race are still considered the outstanding political debates of all time, although Douglas defeated him in that electoral race. Two years later he received the nomination to run for U.S. President, which as we all know, he won, becoming the 16th President. He would go on to change the course of this country for all times. All of us owe gratitude for Abraham Lincoln. Because of him, we took a stand in the world that slavery was wrong. Because of him, we started on the road for a better life for all mankind. Because of him, we have greater tolerance today. Do we live in a perfect place? Maybe not. But, I definately believe we live in a better place because the man that signed his name, A. Lincoln worked, lived, and died for his beliefs for his country.

Inspired To Make A Difference In The Life Of Others

Dave Pelzer is an adult survivor of child abuse.  He has written 7 books to encourage others. His first book, A Child Called It details experiences so horrific it is hard to imagine - much less read about. I do not see how he kept from becoming a monster. Instead, he grew up to educate others about child abuse and why it must not be allowed. I believe we must all make a conscious effort to improve life for children. His newest book is Moving Forward - Taking The Lead In Your Life.  If you want to read some inspiring words about one who is truly inspired to survive, check out Dave Pelzer's books.

What Inspires You To Survive?

When times get hard, some people are easily discouraged and give up at the drop of a hat. Others become more determined to dig in and make a go of it, no matter what they encounter. Which category do you plan to be in? Which category have you taught or are teaching your children to be a part of? I am reminded of a very moving scene in the movie, Schindler's List, that occured in a concentration camp when children who have been hidden from the Nazi's are being discovered. One child has such a strong desire to survive that he actually hides in the human excrement of a laterine. Unbelievable, I know. But that is an ultimate example of a strong will to survive. No matter what storms may come in life, we can take comfort that there will eventually be a better day, a better time. It may not be evident at the time we are struggling. There are times we just have to let our faith comfort and sustain us until it is easier to carry on. What has inspired you to survive?