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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Celebrating the Spirit of Thanksgiving

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. -Thornton Wilder

Pause to Reflect

It’s easy to become so consumed with the swirl of life around us that we rarely pause to reflect on the good things in our lives. I think that’s why so many people appreciate Thanksgiving—a day dedicated to remember, appreciate and to give
thanks. We set aside just one day out of the entire year to allow our minds to stop
and consider our many blessings and to allow our hearts to swell with gratitude;(and of course, the plethora of tantalizing tastes and smells doesn’t hurt!) As we adjust our routine, slow our pace and begin thinking about all of the unexpected joys, triumphs, lessons, opportunities—blessings—of the year now past, the list goes on and on.

Connecting the Dots

As we begin to think about one thing we’re grateful for, a natural snowball effect begins to take place.  And that’s good. It’s good because we do more than just check an item off our mental list. We take time to look at the details of a thing and realize it’s not just about a solitary experience, incident, possession, or relationship, but the reality that our lives are full of connections. If we let our minds relax and expand on a single grateful thought, other thoughts begin to flood in.

Time Doesn’t Stand Still

We’re grateful for time off from our normally busy schedule and routine. It’s time to recharge our batteries, let down our guard, and maybe relax in a way we haven’t all year. Time is a commodity we don’t necessarily stop to be thankful for on a regular basis. Why? Because we think it’ll just “always be there”. But, it won’t. We all live on borrowed time. We spend it, use it, and invest it in whatever way we choose, but when it’s gone, it’s gone. So, we are grateful for time. Time to be with, or catch up with, those we care about. In the process, we are also making new memories, and that brings up something else to be thankful for–the people in our lives. It’s an opportunity to reflect on each person who has brought something into our lives that has made our personal tapestry even richer.

Perspective Matters

Maybe we’re thankful for the chance to travel this holiday and to appreciate new scenery; or, we’re glad we don’t have to cook because we’re visiting family or friends away from home, and we appreciate the change. Or, maybe on the flipside, we are the ones that are doing the hosting and “work”, but we’re grateful that we can serve others this holiday season. And, we consider it a blessing to be able to share in the warmth, laughter and joy in our own home. Then course, there’s the food. And even with that, it’s more than just the initial “food” thought. Yes, it tastes wonderful and we are more satisfied in the end than when we first gathered around our tables. But more than that, to be grateful for the plenty—for the abundance of provision, when so many don’t have the ability to enjoy even the simplest of meals. We are thankful to live in a place where we are free to farm, to buy and sell our goods, and to make a living so we can enjoy days like these, celebrating with the ones we love.

Linger, Reflect, Celebrate

If we linger on that thought, it goes even deeper. Our hearts surge with gratitude for our freedoms and liberties. We’re grateful for those who have gone before us to
make a way. We’re grateful to live in a land where freedom is celebrated and not cursed–a land where every man and woman has the ability to pursue their passions and live out their dreams. We have great cause to celebrate our freedom of speech, religion, and basic human rights that so many around the world cannot take for granted. We’re thankful for the opportunity for prosperity, peace, and a hope that still burns brightly for those who believe.

The Simple Things

And, it is the simple things. A glance at the fireplace and we’re thankful for its warmth. A glance out the window and we appreciate the leaves that are changing hues and the crispness in the air. In nature, we witness that there is order in the
universe, the changing of seasons like clockwork, and the beauty of each new transformation. We take pleasure in the smiles, laughter, and camaraderie of our family and friends that have gathered. Maybe we stop to ponder the newness of life, gratefulness for the accomplishments and blessings of the past year, or the opportunity for fresh beginnings ahead. And on and on it goes, if we take the time to pause and reflect.

Count Your Blessings

So, as you gather to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, what are you thankful for?Who are you grateful for? What do you want to be more appreciative for in the year
ahead?

Thanksgiving should be more than a holiday we set aside each year. We can choose to live with the spirit of Thanksgiving in our hearts and minds—as a part of who we are–with an attitude and posture of gratitude every day.

There’s an old expression, “Count your blessings count them one by one,” and that’s the idea. When we start to break it down, we begin to realize that each thing we have to be thankful for is connected to something else. Every blessing is filled with its own blessings, like gifts within gifts. And behind every gift, no matter how great or how small, there’s a gift-giver that is worthy of our expressions of gratitude.

May your heart and home be filled with gratitude this Thanksgiving season, and throughout the year!

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

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15 Quotes about Suicide

Life ebbs and flows, and is forever changing. When darkness, pain, or despair feel like permanent companions, it’s important to remember, nothing ever remains the same forever. Darkness can lift. We can find relief from pain and sadness. And hope, though it may seem buried and no longer within reach, is still very much alive whether we feel it or not. Hold on because there are people that love you, dreams to chase, experiences and joys yet to be discovered, and most of all, because your life is a gift to you and the world, and it really does matter. Take courage… Choose life.

People never forget a friend or loved one who has succeeded in suicide. We carry it every day, not in the back of our minds, but in the center of our broken hearts. -Candace

Suicide is a desperate attempt to get out of what seems to be an intolerable situation. It appears to be a way of escape from the pain of living. -June Hunt

No one teaches you how to do this. How do you let go of someone who you love so much? -Kathy

When people kill themselves, they think they’re ending the pain, but all they’re doing is passing it on to those they leave behind. -Jeanette Walls

But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself. -Albert Camus

I feel as though the carpet had been ripped right out from under me, and I have been left to pick up the pieces of a dream that would never be fulfilled. -Katrina

Sometimes even to live, is an act of courage. -Seneca

It’s hell. But it is survivable. You have to understand that and take ownership of it: suicidal feelings and behavior are survivable. -Suicide Survivor

To have him gone forever is a pain that will never go away. -Bethany

Those struggling with life-threatening thoughts do not feel connected to others. They feel all alone— even alone in the midst of a crowd. -June Hunt

I’m the girl nobody knows until she commits suicide. Then suddenly everyone had a class with her. -Tom Leveen

Did you really want to die?
No one commits suicide because they want to die.
Then why do they do it?
Because they want to stop the pain.
-Tiffanie DeBartolo

She will never know how much she is loved. -Desiree

When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace. ‘This is my last experiment,’ wrote a young chemist in his suicide note. ‘If there is any eternal torment worse than mine I’ll have to be shown’. -Kay Redfield Jamison

At the split second I hit freefall, I didn’t want to die. What did I just do? The voices were gone. I was right there, facing ultimate death… I said God, please let me live. –Kevin Hines

Psychologist, Dr. Sheldon Solomon says: We all have the capacity to create meaning and to lead rich lives. This is a possibility that defies nationality, class, and culture. We can all get through dark times; we can choose life, and we can come out stronger in the process.

Resources:

For help, contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime 24/7, to be connected with a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area.

Learn More: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Tools that Can Help Save Lives (by Lisa Firestone, ph.D.)

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

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Suicide Prevention: Hope When Life Seems Hopeless

“Suicide is a desperate attempt to get out of what seems to be an intolerable situation. It appears to be a way of escape from the pain of living.” –June Hunt

According to the World Health Organization, approximately one million people die by suicide annually. Suffering suicide is a deliberate act of killing oneself while in an extreme state of despair. In Latin, sui means “oneself” and cide means “to kill.”

In her book, Suicide Prevention: Hope When Life Seems Hopeless, June Hunt addresses faulty assumptions: “My future holds no promise;” “My wrongs won’t be forgiven;” “My dreams won’t come true;” saying, “so goes the fatalistic thinking of the hopeless.” Suicide Prevention: Hope When Life Seems Hopeless is part of the Hope for the Heart series authored by June Hunt. She is a popular speaker, radio host, and counselor known for offering biblical hope and practical help at pivotal times in peoples lives.

Living with Hopelessness

How sad it is that there are people around us who find the idea of exiting life early a welcome solution to their seemingly untangleable unending/unresolvable torment. They are convinced that death will rescue and relieve them from suffering the heavy burden of overwhelming pain. They are without hope.

God created everyone with an inner need to feel significant, yet the desire to live slowly burns out within a heart that no longer sees a reason to live. As the candle of hope is extinguished, that inner sense of purpose is snuffed out by overwhelming despair.”

Hunt speaks to the power of haunting trauma, mocking shame, suffocating secrecy, engulfing agony, a victimizer’s power, crushing emotional burdens, tormenting self-hatred, and the catalysts that push sufferers over the edge. Those who entertain suicidal thoughts are often surrounded by feelings of smallness (powerless over their tormenting internal or external accusers), darkness, coldness… hopelessness.

Her acrostic (that spells the word escape) gives clues to issues that often attend suicide: Excessive Loss, Social Isolation, Critical Illness/Impairment, Abusive Background, Psychological Disorders, Excessive Guilt.

You’re Not Alone

When we lose our capacity for hope, darkness takes advantage and begins to seep into our thinking. It fools us into believing the worst, isolating us, and making us believe we are the only ones experiencing this inner hell.

  • Do you ever think that life is not worth living?
  • Do you ever wish you could fall asleep and not wake up?
  • Are you thinking of harming yourself?
  • What do you fear the most?

When you’re in the darkest depths of despair, when you feel emotionally trapped with no way out, remember, you’re not alone. Countless thousands all around the world are experiencing the same feelings of hopelessness. Did you know that over 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder, or that untreated depression can significantly increase the risk for suicide? She writes, “Those struggling with life-threatening thoughts do not feel connected to others. They feel all alone–even alone in the midst of a crowd.” What we need to know about people obsessed with or considering suicide is this:

People don’t want to die—what they really want is for their pain to end.

That means they want hope. They want a reason to hope. But they need something more powerful than themselves to lead them out of the darkness that deceives them into thinking and believing that death is the answer, and into the light.

Getting Help

The author outlines three stages for observers to be aware of in the case of potential suicide (associated thinking/behaviors/attitudes); characteristics of suicidal teens; and various questions you can ask a suicidal spouse, child, or friend. Readers will also learn definitions, characteristics, causes, and most importantly, steps to solutions. The booklet offers a run-through of personal spiritual history, medical history, thought patterns, and family suicidal history that can be used as an assessment aid; plus a practical checklist with examples of ways to alleviate suicidal obsession.

There is also a special section for parents, educators and coaches dedicated to “bully-cide.” (Bully-cide refers to a person who dies of suicide because of the torment, fear, and humiliation associated with being bullied.)

If you are plagued with suicidal thoughts, or suspect someone you know might be, this booklet provides a quick overview with both practical and spiritual help. It is also wise to share with a trusted friend, advisor, medical and/or mental health professional.

In reestablishing hope for the heart, the author leads readers back to God’s desire: to restore lives through his love, to give comfort, and compassion. He wants to make broken lives and shattered hearts whole again–to alleviate pain, heal hearts, and restore hope.

Author June Hunt

About the Author June Hunt is a biblical counselor whose award-winning radio program “Hope for the Heart” is heard on nearly 900 radio outlets around the world. She is a sought-after public speaker on topics such as crisis counseling, child abuse, forgiveness and self-worth. Her “Hope for the Heart” booklets have been translated into 27 languages.

Additional Resources:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline (or call 1-800-273-8255)

Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors

How to Help Someone Who is Suicidal

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

Note: Rose Publishing provided me with an advanced reader copy of this booklet.

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

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Daring, Discovering, Dreaming

Daring, discovering and dreaming are a part of what makes life worthwhile. The past is gone and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Find out what makes you come alive right now, today. Dare to dream. Give yourself permission to be quiet, to reflect and think about your gifts and talents and interests. Then go for it. Start walking step by step toward the future you’ve only imagined up to this point. Dare to step out of your comfort zone and learn or discover something new. Live your passion… Live your life on purpose.

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Being The Change

“Being the Change” is more than just giving money, time or talents to an issue. We can see that change is needed. We can understand that change needs to happen for things to get better. We can advocate for change by raising flags, issues, and our voices in an attempt to convince others of the necessity and benefit of it. But none of that can ever be enough.

The foundation of a culture is based around thoughts and beliefs (be it a culture within a society, family, or workplace). Those thoughts and beliefs drive expectations, set boundary lines in place, inform supply and demand, allow adjustments to the definitions of  “normal”, “worthy”, or “beneficial” according to popular belief. But popular belief isn’t necessarily right, just, or life-producing. That’s why thoughts are so powerful. They inform our belief systems. Decisions are made based on what people believe to be true (or good, or right, or profitable) whether they are in fact, or not.

If we really want to “be the change” (the positive difference-making change) we need to stop and think for ourselves. And ask questions, the right questions. Is this really justice, and why? Is this really “good” or “right”? For who, and on what basis? If it’s profitable, at who’s expense, and at what cost?

Once we know the truth, we can see if the reality of the culture is in alignment or not. If not,  it’s ultimately about adopting new mindsets and re-wiring our hearts toward a saner culture. Our thoughts and beliefs then begin to manifest in tangible ways that align with what is truly just, and right, and good, regardless of popular belief. “Being the change” is less about the externals and more about the internals. There really is strength in the power of one. It becomes more personal. It’s transformation from the inside out.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

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Only One You!

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” -Neil Gaiman

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If You Had Your Life To Live Over

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a second chance to live your life over, or at least certain parts of it? Or, maybe you wouldn’t change a lot, but just adjust the way you viewed it, or responded to it. 

I came across the following thoughts from a woman who has seen and experienced more life than many will ever have a chance to. It’s refreshing to look at life, relationships, and circumstances from a little different perspective once in awhile.

“If I had my life to live over, I’d try to make more mistakes next time.  I would relax.  I would limber up.  I would be sillier than I have been this trip.  I know of very few things I would take seriously.  I would be crazier.  I would be less hygenic.  I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets.  I would burn more gasoline. I would eat more ice cream and less beans.  I would have more actual troubles and have fewer imaginary ones.  You see, I am one of those people who lives with propriety–sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, and day by day.  Oh, I have had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them.  In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.  Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead each day.  I have been one of those people who never go anywhere without a themometer, a hot-water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat, and a parachute.  If I had it to do all over again, I would go places, do things, and travel lighter than I have.  If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.  I would play hooky more.  I wouldn’t get such good grades except by accident.  I would ride on more merry-go-rounds.  I’d pick more daisies.” –Nadine Stair, 85 years old

There’s something about being more spontaneous for those who haven’t made it much of a habit. And there’s something about being more intentional for those who haven’t made it a habit. 

Though Nadine’s thoughts are lighthearted, many of us hold so rigidly to our old ways of doing things for no better reason than, “just because”. Call it tradition, habit, or lack of motivation.  But, as long as there is still time left in the hourglass, there is an opportunity to try something new, something different. Time to breathe just a little more freely, laugh just a little louder, take time to consider the more important things in life, or to simply try something new. 

Life goes by so quickly. Seasons come and go, as do opportunities, ideas, and people.  I can’t imagine what could make one more content than to live a full life–to any age–without regrets.  Maybe it’s time to get barefoot, to forgive, to love deeper, start a new tradition, lose an old one… or maybe, to simply begin living more intentionally.

If you could, would you change anything?  For the things that are within your control, there’s no time like the present!

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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Anne Geddes: Celebrating Motherhood

Anne Geddes, “photographer extraordinaire,” has not only captured our attention with her brilliant photography, but also our hearts and imaginations.  Her art draws and inspires us with the angelic faces of babies employing monochromatic to vibrant colors in both minimalistic yet extravagant settings. Her work is a tribute to life, pregnancy and the celebration of motherhood across the world.

Who else would have ever dreamed to capture images of babies tucked in pea pods, unfurling from exotic orchids, popping up from flower pots, sleeping peacefully atop bright orange pumpkins, or with peonies and cabbages crowning their tiny heads? That creative vision and precision of technique is what has, in part, set Anne Geddes apart in her field.

She is one of the world’s most respected and beloved photographers. The iconic images dreamed up by Anne Geddes were birthed from a “deeply held belief that each and every child must be protected, nurtured and loved.”

You can find the Timeless 2012 calendar and New Beginnings datebook 2012 among her recent projects, but her latest work, my Pregnancy™: A Woman’s Story, is her new quarterly magazine. In each issue nine women will tell their compelling stories of pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period accompanied by her distinct and remarkable work. 

“They are incredibly powerful stories, individual stories, also warm stories, sometimes very funny stories, and at times very sad stories… but always interesting… always compelling… and I just knew that if I found these stories so compelling, women around the world would feel the same.” -Anne Geddes

To learn more about Anne Geddes and her beautiful artwork, or most recent project, a tribute to pregnancy and motherhood, visit her website, blog or follow her on Twitter.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Twitter: @DestinysWomen

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

 

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