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

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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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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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10 Quotes about The Power of One

You’ve probably heard the expression: “The Power of One”. A less eloquent way of conveying the same idea might be: “Don’t just sit there, do something.”  Many of us are hyper-focused on what’s right in front of our face. In our shortsightedness, we find it easy to fixate on problems rather than solutions. Naturally, the problems then become too big, and solutions seemingly unattainable.  

When it comes to the needs of humanity, our typical response is self-reflecting. We think we can’t make a big enough difference to matter. Imagine throwing pebbles at a water tower. When in reality, it’s simply a matter of adjusting our thinking and our approach to problems.

When we step outside of ourselves, we begin to see ourselves not as the solution, but as part of the solution. Something that is much bigger than “just us”. We are able to imagine positive change and real solutions. Picture a quilt. In and of itself, each part may seem insignificant, but once each individual piece is woven together, we are able to see the bigger picture. We can envision how a solution actually is possible.

I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. -Edward Everett Hale

I wondered why somebody didn’t do something.  Then I realized… I am somebody. -Author Unknown

Each time we stand up for an ideal, or act to improve the lot of others, or strike out against injustice, we send forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. -Robert F. Kennedy

The power of one man or one woman doing the right thing for the right reason, and at the right time, is the greatest influence in our society. -Jack Kemp

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. -Theodore Roosevelt

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

Get friends involved. Get the community to take action. Everyone cannot do everything but each of you can do one thing. -Somaly Mam

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little. -Edmund Burke

I don’t feel like I’ve done anything extraordinary but take my little light and shine it in darkness. -Leymah Gbowee

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

These 10 quotes about the power of one are friendly reminders that each of us can make a difference where we are. Waiting until we have all the answers or means is not only impractical, it’s unrealistic. We can only give what is in our hands and in our hearts today. That is our responsibility, that is our privilege.

It’s amazing how once you step out, like-minded people are drawn together. Doors begin to open. Opportunities present themselves. Ideas proliferate. Collaboration is a powerful and rewarding thing when its purpose is to create a better world for those who cannot do it for themselves.

It’s much more fulfilling (and fun) to be a part of positive change, than to sit it out on the sidelines. When you hold back on others, you hold back on yourself. Likewise, when you hold back on yourself, you hold back on others. As Leymah Gbowee suggests, just start by shining your little light… then see what begins to happen.

How are you making a positive impact with what you have, right where you are? Have you found in reaching out to make a difference for others, it made a difference in YOU?

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

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10 Quotes About Compassion: Living Outside of Yourself

Compassion is defined as sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. The opposite of compassion is mercilessness or indifference. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among these fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects. –Herman Melville

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. –Leo Buscaglia

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal. –Albert Pike

If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew. –Pocahontas

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived–that is to have succeeded. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit. –Nelson Henderson

Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it. –Wilfred Peterson

We won’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What’s important is that you do care and you act. –Charlotte Lunsford

If there is any kindness I can show, any good thing I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. –William Penn

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak and strong, because some day in life you will have been all of these. –George Washington Carver

Let these 10 quotes about compassion serve as a reminder that as members of this family called the human race, we are interconnected and are meant to share in life’s journey. It’s not always the planned or the expected that makes an impact. To the contrary, it is often the simple, small, personal, unanticipated, or seemingly insignificant gifts of compassion that light (or re-light) our hearts on fire. Memories of unexpected kindnesses and the thoughtfulness of both friends and strangers are forever etched on my own heart.

What about you? Maybe you remember a time when a friend or stranger showed you compassion in an unexpected hour. If so, what impression did it leave on your life?  How has it made a difference in your own compassion toward others? 

Join me on Twitter: @DestinysWomen

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

 

“Not the torturer will scare me, nor the body’s final fall, nor the barrels of death’s rifles, nor the shadows on the wall, nor the night when to the ground the last dim star of pain is hurled, but the blind indifference of a merciless, unfeeling world.” -Roger Waters 

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Journey of Compassion: Walking a Mile in Her Shoes

Homeless Woman, Los Angeles, California


You’ve no doubt heard the expression: You never truly know someone until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.  Make that her shoes. Our lives seem to have become so self-focused and self-serving that our compassion level for others has become dull and taken a backseat. So what exactly is compassion? It is defined as sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help.

It’s easy to poke a stick at something, or someone, from a distance. We taunt, ridicule, make uninformed accusations and false assumptions. And it is all too easy to judge externals, becoming self-proclaimed critics of that which we do not understand. We hide behind shadows or sit on lofty perches as we dispense judgments, but regardless of our methodology, they are only our judgments—our limited and flawed estimation of the truth.

How can we know where a woman has really been until we know her — know her story, know her life and until we have in essence, walked a mile in her shoes?

Offering a Hand Up

If only we were to sit down and speak eye to eye and listen heart to heart, we would understand the full truth about her life. It’s likely that in more cases than not, our conclusions would be dramatically altered. Giving a hand up benefits two people, the recipient and the giver. But extending no hand and holding another person down serves no one. How much more powerful to funnel our energy into benevolence, prayer, positive words and action through things like social justice, spiritual transformation, practical compassion and creative advocacy.
 

Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand another
person’s feelings or difficulties.


Circumstances Do Not Define a Person

Masai Women, Tanzania

Many women suffer from the fallout of oppression. While some struggle with cultural and gender discrimination resulting in a lack of education, opportunity and personal freedom, others suffer under the oppression of violence, forced labor or are sex trafficked resulting in stolen lives. Many girls and women are basically discarded. Scarred and despairing, they live their lives in the wake of abandonment.

Maybe you know of a woman burdened by lies she was told about herself. Like the story of Cinderella, she was told that the better shoes weren’t for her and she was relegated to “her place” in life. And then, there are women who have, for whatever reason, made bad choices and because of those decisions, are not wearing the shoes intended for them. They are not alive to their own destiny and higher purpose.

The good news is, as long as there is still a road ahead to travel, she can make positive choices in the place where she finds herself and with what is in her hand. The journey is still in the making.

“Circumstances do not define a person, they are only stepping stones in their journey to wherever they intend to go” –April McCallum

Choice of Shoes

Women's Shoes Shanghai Market


Just because she was born into a land of less opportunity, a different color skin, a culture where women don’t have a voice and equal rights, or she has made unwise decisions maybe unlike our own–it doesn’t make us better, it makes us different.

We may not relate to the devastating poverty, abuse or discrimination she has faced, but it doesn’t make her less of a person for suffering from it as a result.

We may have made better choices, but it doesn’t make her dreams or destiny less valuable. It doesn’t make her less worthy as a human being.
 

“Suffering and joy teach us, if we allow them, how to make the leap of empathy, which transports us into the soul and heart of another person. ln those transparent moments we know other people’s joys and sorrows, and we care about their concerns as if they were our own.” -Fritz Williams

But for the Grace of God


There’s a familiar quote that says: There but for the grace of God, go I. None of us choose the family, nation, time in history, political persuasion, talents, physical body, intellectual capacity or skin color that we are born into. We cannot take credit. We had nothing to do with it. We only have control over what we choose to do with what we’ve been dealt.

Are we compassionate, kind, giving, loving, forgiving, understanding and honest? Do we hoard all that is within our power—our talents, influence, abilities, wealth and creativity—for ourselves, our own pleasure? Or do we steward these gifts well by sharing them with others. Are we givers, or are we merely takers?

If we look not only where her shoes have taken her, but why, and are honest about it… we become softer, kinder and more compassionate. If we are willing to take the lenses off to see her maybe even for the first time through a transparent filter — She becomes us, and we, her.

We can commit to swap shoes once in awhile, and teach our daughters, and the next generation, to do the same. Therein lies the journey of compassion.

“One who walks the road with love… will never walk the road alone.”

© by April McCallum, Destiny’s Women

(Photos by Dave Blume, Jess McCullochDavid Dennis, World Bank, Markusram)

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