#TeachersAppreciationWeek

In reflection of Teachers Appreciation Week…

One mind at a time.
One imagination at a time.
One heart at a time.
One smile at a time….
One.
It only takes one teacher to inspire a student.
It only takes one student to inspire the world.

-April McCallum, @DestinysWomen

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One Life At A Time

Just One

People who want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And, I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world:

They hold the unshakeable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world. -Beth Clark

Click to Read Related Posts:

10 Quotes about the Power of One

Sometimes It Takes Just One

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Sometimes It Takes Just One

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. –Mother Teresa

There are familiar expressions floating around about the power of many. For example, “It takes a village to raise a child”, or “many hands make light work”.  Whether you agree with the first statement or not, I think it’s safe to say, we are stronger when we work together to bring about positive change. The strength may come from a greater capacity to raise funds, solve parts of a problem that you just don’t have the expertise or experience to manage on your own, or it may just strengthen you because you need an emotional support system.

Got Village?

But there are times when there is no village. You haven’t found your “tribe” to go with you. Whether it’s to help the homeless, encourage single-mothers, support widows, feed the poor, or help realize a vision that will empower your community, or simply one life. People around you seem clueless, disinterested, or maybe, just too busy to get involved on a personal level.Whatever the situation, it can feel like you are standing alone. And many times, you are. It can feel like you are in some kind of warped reality. You may wonder why people don’t see what you see, or care, or feel like you do.

So, what do you do with that? What do you do when an opportunity to make a difference in a situation or someone’s life presents itself? Do you walk away with your head down because no one would go there with you? Do you get mad (at who, and why)? Do you back peddle in your mind convincing yourself that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all, wondering, “What was I thinking?!?”

Vision for Something Versus Nothing

My good friend Nora had a saying that stuck with me. She said, “If you see the need, you have the gift”. Not that it’s technically true all of the time, but it does make you stop and think. Why do I see this, when seemingly no one else around me does, or not right now anyways? Is it possible that it’s for a reason? And, does it even matter why? Think about it, are you really going to stop because no one would “go there” with you? Does that even make sense?

Maybe you can’t do everything, but you can do something. Maybe you can’t feed or clothe or help educate a community, but you can feed or clothe or help donate to help just one person. It may be something as simple as helping widows with chores, buying diapers or formula for a single mom, giving toward one child’s education, donating a used musical instrument to a child that couldn’t otherwise afford to follow their passion for music. It can be a million things or it can be just one. It may come in the form of money, but it may just be spending time with someone that’s lonely, mentoring, encouraging, teaching, or serving—things that money can’t buy, but that make all of the difference in someone’s life. And because every single individual life makes up a community, the community becomes stronger and better because of it!

Opportunities are Invitations

You may learn about a need in your community through everyday conversation, by reading a story in the newspaper, hearing it on the local news, or from seeing it with your own eyes. You want to get involved and make a difference. Maybe you talk to a friend or two, but they’re not really interested, or they don’t think it’s their “problem”. Maybe you share with a group you’re involved with hoping they’ll see the need like you do and get on board, but they don’t. They may have other pressing projects, or their priorities might not match yours.

Again, what do you do with that?  So, here’s what I want you to think about: if we take our focus off of the “that” (the issue or need) and re-focus on the “you” in the question, it changes how we view it. Imagine the need and imagine the question posed this way: What are YOU going to do with that? Instead of just seeing the issue or need as a problem, it transforms it into an opportunity. Opportunities are invitations. Personal invitations with your name written on them, because you are the one who saw and was moved by the need. This is an opportunity for YOU. Are you going to accept the invitation?

Power of One

Go there anyways. Go alone if you must.  But go with confidence, and a smile in your heart knowing that you saw a need and you did something to make a difference in another person’s life.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Are You In?

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house.

God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both of their lives.

God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war.

God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and

God is with us if we are with them.

Bono, Lead Singer, U2

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Making the Most of Our Moments

 

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. -Anne Frank

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Keep Love Alive

 

“Love always involves responsibility, and love always involves sacrifice.” -William Barclay

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What Does Love Look Like?

What does love look like?

It has the hands to help others.

It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.

It has eyes to see misery and want.

It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.

That is what love looks like.

-Saint Augustine

 

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Bridges in Our Lives

I am where I am because of the bridges that I crossed. Sojourner Truth was a bridge. Harriet Tubman was a bridge. Ida B. Wells was a bridge. Madam C. J. Walker was a bridge. Fannie Lou Hamer was a bridge.” –Oprah Winfrey

The same could be said by each of us about the people God has placed along the path throughout our life’s journey. Reflection makes us grateful.

Who were the “bridges” in your life?  What specifically made them a bridge for you? What words would you use to describe them? What words would they use to describe you? What are the lasting imprints they left on you? How will they be remembered in the archives of your story?

Some people stay in our lives forever, but most come and go through different seasons. Often the ones we remember most are the ones who gave us just the right encouragement or advice at just the right time. Maybe they didn’t use many words, but modeled for us what it meant to be brave, bold, creative, discover our voice, or follow our dreams. Or, maybe they were the ones who simply “showed up” when no one else did. Maybe they held our hearts, helped us heal, forgive, understand, or just listened.

Whatever our story, they were there. And, they were there for us. Because of them, we knew that somehow it was going to be okay. When we didn’t quite have enough of our own, they shared with us their courage, faith, love, and hope.

I’m so grateful for the people who were “bridges” in my life. I count them as blessings… like flowers in my internal garden that stand just a little taller and are just a little more fragrant than all the others. And in turn, they made me stand just a little bit taller and a little more fragrant. They lift our heads, our voices, our aspirations, our belief in God, and in ourselves, while quietly helping us not to settle, but believe there is “more to be had”.

It is important to reflect on the people who were bridges at significant and pivitol times in our life because it keeps us grateful. They are valuable and irreplaceable parts of our story. Likewise, it is important to be vigilant so that we don’t miss the opportunity to be a bridge in someone else’s life. Our blessings are meant for us at very specific times along our journey, but they are also meant to be shared and passed along to others on theirs.

Are you a bridge in someone else’s story today?

 
Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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What Does Love Look Like?

 

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery
and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what
love looks like.” –Saint Augustine

 

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Sandy Hook: Community Matters

I began writing this post when thinking about the families who have experienced such great loss in the Sandy Hook shootings. We’ve all read and heard stories surrounding the fateful incident, one that has stirred a gamut of thoughts and emotions in all of us. In the midst of this dark time, I’ve been moved by the significance of community. Not just about being stronger together… but about being better together

History is filled with all sorts of accounts about groups of people who banded together and were strengthened by their numbers, but for all the wrong reasons. I want to bear witness to the people who come together for all the right reasons. Because of their intentions and solidarity, they leave an indelible effect in a community, a place, and a time, because they leave it better for having come together.

Over and over we hear testimonies of people in the midst of crisis who have felt pulled to “be there” for one another, and not just family and friends, but complete strangers. That’s just pure goodness and selflessness in a time when “self” has been so prioritized. How refreshing. One man said he got tired of watching the sadness and sorrow on his television set and decided to go down to where the victims’ families were gathering. In his words, he was compelled to go and just “be present” for strangers in his community. What strikes me about these simple gestures is they’re not about some big strategy about how to rush in and save the day, but simply about “being present” and “being there”.  

It’s about showing up when people need us most; and, it’s about showing up with what is in our hand to give at that moment. Sometimes we miss significant opportunities because we withhold or delay until we think we have “enough” to give. You being present, is enough.

We see an outpouring of compassion during the holidays, strangers being more thoughtful of one another, generosity in giving and also in spirit. It’s the one time of year when collectively, the world is a little kinder and a little gentler.  If only we would take hold of that spirit of generosity and thoughtfulness throughout the year.  One woman said, “After feeling so helpless in the wake of that tragedy, our little family of three decided we needed to do something–anything–to help”. It’s that tugging on our heart strings to treat others as we hope they would treat us if the tables were turned.

“Your strength and compassion (have) been, and will continue to be, an inspiration to me and countless others as we work to honor the memory of your precious children and our beloved staff.” (Note posted by Principal Donna Page on the Sandy Hook School’s website)

Again, it is the simplicity of human kindness that is so often what remains in our memories. Never underestimate the healing power of an encouraging word, holding someone’s hand (even if in silence), and heartfelt prayers. A principal who had experienced violence at his school in the past said, “We remember the love and prayers that were sent to us, and in an effort to pay that kindness forward, we wanted to send to you our love, our hope, and our faith, so that you may heal in your own time from this tragedy.”

When others are too weak, we hold them up. When they are numb, we help them feel. When they are cold, we give them some of our warmth. When they can’t speak, we simply allow them space and time.

Randy Caballero, a young boxer, started an event called Just a Little Something. He said, “When we bring this valley together, we can make anything possible.” So many people stepped up to do something over doing nothing. Sure they felt helpless and impotent to make any real difference. What do you say to a mother who has just lost her baby? What words can possibly comfort at a time like that? The point is, sometimes it’s not about words, or doing just the right thing, it’s about showing up, being there, and not letting those who are suffering suffer alone. From stuffed animals to bracelets, handcrafted items to flowers, balloons and memory books to poems and prayers—every little thing came together to form something very powerful, a community that locked arms (and hearts). The clear and indelible message was, “We are here for each other.”  

When victims’ families receive gifts and love notes with hope-filled words from strangers whose eyes fill with tears and hearts swell with empathy for a grieving mother and father—ones they will never meet–that means something. Fire Chief Stephen MacAdam said, “You see from the events this week, it really is a family, not just in one town, but right across the country”.

Whether it’s a mass shooting in an affluent village in the town of Newtown, Connecticut called Sandy Hook, or at Virginia Tech; natural disasters in now-familiar places like Joplin or New Orleans; or mass devastation and human rights atrocities in war-torn regions in the Middle East, Bosnia, or the Congo, the message doesn’t change. When we are “there” for each other, sharing our courage, faith, love, and resources, our communities are stronger, which means our children are stronger, and we are stronger.

“At the end of the day, the equation is in favor of what is good and what is human and what is giving instead of what takes away.” -Veronique Pozner (Mother of the youngest shooting victim)  Read the Article: “Noah Pozner’s Family Remembers and Mourns”.

The cousin of a Sandy Hook shooting victim wears a bracelet that was given out at his cousin’s funeral. It reads, “Ana Grace. Love Wins.” Yes, it does.

Photo by: ValleyIndy/Flickr

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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