Category: Giving

The Joy Of Service

When our Love
watches the morning’s birth,
allows a child to “be,”
touches a forgotten soul,
bakes a carrot cake,
we will know Joy.

When our Love
honors the other,
helps the helpless,
celebrates the birthing,
comforts the dying,
we will know Joy.

When our Love
plants roses,
shares our fullness,
writes a poem,
dreams a hope,
we will know Joy.

When our love dances with another,
sings to the angels,
whispers to a Beloved,
kneels in thanksgiving,
we will know Joy.

Joy is our birthright;
love is our purpose;
holiness is
God’s Light in us.

May our Joy be
as deep as the ocean;
our Love
as warm as the sun;
our Light
as radiant as the stars.

Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

Who Am I?

When you ask,
“Who am I, Lord?”
God answers, “You are
more than this face, these hands,
this body,
more than your feelings,
your laughter and your tears,
your joy and your pain,
more than your thinking,
your beliefs, your planning,
more than your doing,
working, making,
more than your past,
your parents, your circumstances
more than you titles
father, mother, child
doctor, friend.
You are more than
your anger, fears,
failures or doubts.
You are more than your successes
wealth or fame.
One moment you are this,
another moment that.
One moment happy, one moment sad,
one moment empty, one moment filled.
Like the clouds, you are ever changing.
You are a kaleidoscope, each moment
rearranging the colors of your being.
You are a many-faceted splendor.
You are a beautiful Gift of Life;
a radiance of God’s Light.
In Truth
you are of the Lord.
You are wise, you are beautiful,
you are kind,
you are a fountain
fed by the ‘living waters.’
You are God’s Love.”

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

Practice Makes Good Better

People are complicated. They have many facets, do strange things sometimes, and in so many, their ego leads their life. Nature is easy. That’s where I started in my appreciation practice. I began appreciating plants, trees, leaves, bushes, weather, the sky, the air, the temperature, the breeze, the small close-up view, and the grander wide-angle long views. It was easy and I felt so good expressing my appreciation in my mind. I was thanking God for all of what I was seeing.

Everywhere I went, whether just outside my home or in some other part of the world, nature was right there. As I would appreciate one thing, then I found it easier to appreciate another. As that happened, the Law of Attraction began putting other things to appreciate in my path until I was almost in a constant state of appreciation as I viewed nature.

Then I moved to people. In this, I would try to find at least one thing to appreciate about everyone that I might see, or interact with. I might like their eyes, their hair, the clothes they chose, or their shoes, or their smile, or their laughter. There are so many possibilities that I found it an easy challenge to like at least one thing about other people.

As part of this, I began seeing things about myself that I could appreciate. As I said earlier, to appreciate others and not ourselves is to not really appreciate at all. Then, the Law of Attraction began helping me see other things to appreciate about me. It might be things I said or wrote. It might be the way my hair looked that day. I began complimenting myself in the mirror. Then I began doing it aloud. I do it more today because it is so important to appreciate ourselves. After all, we are who we live with 365/24/7.

Then, I began practicing being bold enough to share something that I appreciated about another to them aloud. It is always interesting to hear and see their responses. It’s also funny. I might compliment a woman on her blouse or other aspects of their choices in clothing, and they will often say thank you, and then tell me how cheap it was and maybe even which store it came from as if they are negating its value by having it be inexpensive. But, whatever their reaction, it has always been positive and you can see how they appreciated someone noticing in their eyes, face, and body language.

Now I do this a lot. If I see the same people time and again like at the bank or something, I can always find something else to compliment them on. My finding things to appreciate is now habitual. I don’t even think about it much. I am used to seeing things to appreciate wherever I am, all day long. It matters not whether I am at home and finding things, or out and about, or at events. I am constantly seeing things to appreciate and I am constantly appreciating them inside.

Even when I see something that I don’t really appreciate, I find things about it that I can appreciate. For example, I’m not much of a fan of graffiti, or at least the kind of graffiti I see around where I live, but I can and do appreciate their creativity. I don’t appreciate that they are damaging other people’s property, or that they are uncaring about any of that, but I can appreciate their humanity and perhaps even that which causes them to feel less than and to try to be more than in an attempt to find their own wholeness.

On that note about graffiti, I see it and quickly look away. I don’t want to give it any energy. I used to give it all kinds of energy by putting down those who were doing these acts and feeling bad in the process. I have learned that feeling good is my goal and it is that which helps me to become more, so I turn to a better feeling view and give that energy instead. Even in this, it is all about finding something to appreciate.

On the other hand, the word graffiti simply means writing or drawing on a wall or other object. In some definitions, they use the word illicit. So, there are all kinds of graffiti that I truly appreciate, and some of it is quite spectacular as art. Even as I sit at the railroad crossing and see all the cars with graffiti on them, I see many with very elaborate painted words and images. Obviously, they had more time to spend on that project, but looking beyond the idea of changing other people’s property without their permission, much of this artwork is truly creative and even beautiful.

Then, outdoor murals can be considered graffiti. There are all kinds of ways to find appreciation in something that we may normally hate to see or even feel angry about and more. Becoming a grateful person is finding different ways to appreciate things, and I think even especially things, that we might not normally appreciate. It is life-changing—changing for the better.

Love Them. Love Them Anyway. Love Them Regardless.

“The secret of health for both mind and body
is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about
the future, but to live the present moment
wisely and earnestly.”

— Siddhartha Gautama

“It makes no difference how deeply seated may
be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how
muddled the tangle, how great the mistake.
A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.”

— Emmet Fox

[Classic post from 6-28-12. Note: As I reread this post, I thought of similar events in people’s lives that I know or know of. I thought it was an enlightening reminder to consider how we can enjoy the present moments with our loved ones and to worry not about the past or the future. There is positive in every so-called tragedy and as we open to what we can find in that way we are both transformed.]

Since I’ve shared a lot of myself in these blogs, I will continue that by telling you that my wife is dying in front of me and fading more each day. She has ALS, and other ailments and in the last year has aged at least ten. She was forced to retire this year by not being able to function in her capacity any longer. Most recently she was a Children’s Pastor, and now on disability with a fatal disorder.

How do I turn that into an inspiration? It depends on how one would look at this.

Indeed, it would be so easy to say how sad it is and to mourn the why’s and wherefore’s, seek blame, and that list goes on much longer, and it is to no avail anyway. If I believe that these things just are given out at random to undeserving souls, or some devil was to blame, or anything at all we might think of from the outside, it is a seriously sad situation. And, at the same time, feeling sorry and feeling the potential loss is casting a dark shadow on anything like love.

Yesterday, I talked about accepting situations as if we had planned and executed them on purpose, whether consciously or unconsciously. In my mind, it is only with this kind of thought that I can deal with this by accepting and to feel love rather than all those other fearful and sorrowful emotions.

Does the way we think affect our health? I think there is no doubt in my mind and we can watch people over time and see how they deal with things and one way is an illness. Is it too late? I don’t believe so, but it is not up to me. This kind of talk from me falls on deaf ears, but I am too close and she has her own mind and beliefs many of which do not match mine.

So what to do?

Love her. Find joy. Stay in the moment as much as I can because in the moment there is only love and no fear. Don’t treat her as being less than, or excessively careful and all that fear stuff, but to just enjoy all the little moments that we used to let go by unnoticed and unappreciated.

Life can change in an instant when someone goes quickly. Life can change in moments in situations like this. A lot of people around her are sad and avoid seeing her, talking with her because her speech is affected so much now, but I debate with her and challenge her and have fun with her. She was a debate champion and I never even got close to winning an argument on any subject and never had any fun with it either. But now, I have fun.

Now we just go do things on the spur of the moment or do things we haven’t done in a long time, go for coffee which never was her favorite and is now for some reason. It’s not about making up for lost time, or anything like that, it is just a relaxing in allowing the present moment to take priority. It never used to but does now. And, that is a lesson I’ve been working on accepting and learning of late as well.

I talked about one of my favorite books, Power To Praise by Merlin Carothers and that book is what taught me to praise God for everything including things that my previous training taught me to condemn. It is so powerfully true and in the practicing of it, I see his message so clear. It is acceptance, then appreciation and love.

It is also an inspiration to pay more attention to the present every day regardless of health and circumstance. I’ve always liked that quote that says, “if you truly love God, what is there to worry about?

Happiness Is A Choice To Be So By Appreciating The Abundance Of Love We Have In Us And Around Us. There Is An Endless Supply. Endless. Use It.

Spread Some Joy Today–See the sparkle in the eye, the smile of love in the face. See yourself as a reflection of others.

The Paradigm Of Love: Wealth Of The Heart

Once I knew a person of great heart wealth. She was ninety-two, a little bent from time. Her hair was white, her wrinkles deep, her eyes radiated light and love. She was beautiful, and she was one of my great teachers. Although we only spent one hour together, she changed my life.

Mary Hadley lived in a small room in a complex for the elderly in Pasadena, California. Her material possessions were the pictures on the walls and the teapot from which she poured our tea.

I, a stranger making a ministerial visit, knocked on her door. After a long moment, she opened the door, and I explained my being there. Suddenly her eyes lit up, and she explained, “Every day I ask, ‘Lord, what miracles do you have for me today?’ And here you are!” She thought I was a miracle, and this was the first time I felt like a miracle.

Such Divine-Human Love radiated from this small weathered being that I felt immersed in radiant light. When I was leaving the complex, someone told me, “Everyone loves Mary Hadley.” What is this love that can embrace a stranger and recognize another as a miracle?

Can the wealth of Mary Hadley be counted?

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

Heaven On Earth

Heaven on Earth is
not “the Heaven of Heavens,”
not the eternal kingdom,
not the perfect place.

For in Heaven on Earth
are the tears
for another’s pain,
for the wounded souls,
for God’s violated gifts.

Heartbreak abounds in
Heaven on Earth,
yet also are there tears
of joy in spring’s blooming,
of rapture in a setting sun,
of wonder in a child’s smile.

Heaven on Earth
cannot be found
by “doubt” or “disbelief,”
is denied the worldly wise,
is unknown to human pride.

For in Heaven on Earth
heart touches heart;
gentleness holds the frightened;
joy sees the other and dances,
and the newborn pine rises out of ashes.

Heaven on Earth is lived
in a moment of “Light,”
in a moment of knowing,
in a moment of deep tenderness,
in a moment of kneeling.

For Heaven on Earth
is Love’s dwelling place
known to all
who open to Love.

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

The Spring Of Kindness

“No kind action ever stops with itself.
One kind action leads to another.
Good example is followed.
A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions,
and the roots spring up and make new trees.
The greatest work that kindness does to others
is that it makes them kind themselves.”

– Amelia Earhart

Ain’t it the truth!

One of my favorite authors who really helped me get going in sales way back in ’72-73 is Frank Bettger. His book, How I Raised Myself from Failure To Success in Selling, is a classic and is very encouraging for someone new to sales (or a veteran in sales, for that matter). In it, he talks about getting fired from a professional baseball team because he looked like he had no energy and he seemed to be dragging the team down. So, he decided to change and to become the most enthusiastic player anywhere and he created the popular phrase, “to become enthusiastic, act enthusiastically!” This became his central theme and I have several copies of his signed books, all of which say “Enthusiastically, Frank Bettger.”

The quote above is very similar to me: To become kind, act with kindness! Ain’t it the truth. We already know it. We know when we act with kindness that we feel great and can see on the face of the other that they feel great too. The thing we don’t see is how that great feeling is passed on by that other person throughout their day or even into days ahead.

I try to remember to give sincere compliments wherever I go, to people I see, whether for the first time or the hundredth time. I am always looking for something to compliment people on. Many times, there is no discernable reaction to my comment, but I am sincere and it feels really good to me, so that is all that matters. I know, they heard it, and they appreciated it even though they may not show it immediately. And, again, the best part is that it not only has an effect on them but on others they interact with throughout the day. How cool is that?

Sometimes I do this in bulk and in what some might think are “crazy ways.” I’ll give you just one example that I remember as a bit off the chart. I was a sales manager at a small fledgling dealership in 1989. It was gloomy and struggling. I wanted to inject some life into it and did a number of things that helped. They had a fairly strong service business. Matter of fact, that was what kept the dealership afloat.

So I had this crazy idea come into my head to give a dozen roses to all the employees (13 of them) and have a blank card on it, so they could take it home and pass some of the pleasure on to their spouse or loved ones or just enjoy it themselves.

It was a bit crazy because I didn’t have much money, but I broke out a credit card and bought 16 dozen roses of all different colors, one dozen each in vases, arranged and delivered. It was $660. I couldn’t really justify the expense when my reasoning tried to stop me, but, I was jazzed and I acted immediately. I had each employee stop by the office on their way home and I had them choose one they liked and I thanked them for their service to the company. For all they knew, the company bought them. I also gave one set to the General Manager and Owner who worked at a different location. Plus one to take home with me for my wife.

You had to have been there to see the looks on all their faces. It was priceless. And, guess what happened when they went home. I am sure that it was a hit there as well. In addition, it is the kind of gesture that you so rarely see. It was worth every cent and then some.

And guess how happy that florist must have been.  One action and so many are positively affected. It is like spreading joy!

I was only at that store for three months, when a marvelous opportunity came to me unexpectedly. Is there a correlation? It was an opportunity that changed my life, and that is still with me to this day, 31 years later!

Many times, I get thoughts like this and I am happy that I act on many of them even though some are a bit over the edge like this one. But, you know, life is all too short, and to miss an opportunity like that would be to miss an opportunity to love.

I call those thoughts inspirations. Typically, right after you get one, your reasoning facility takes charge to try to justify that thought using logic and reason. The typical result would be letting the inspiration go down the drain.

If you ever have any of these strange, yet wonderful inspirations, I hope you act on them. Think of the joy that you will create for yourself and many others! I think that is a great reason! And, you never know–that act of kindness might have an interesting side effect… on all concerned!

My Own Celebration

“When you do not love yourself, you become “needy,” and you try to get the love you need through others. When you deny your own needs, you resort to manipulation, control, or pitiful begging to get others to fulfill your needs.

In the early days of our marriage, I was “needy,” wanting love from my husband that I couldn’t give myself. Every spring, I dropped clear hints of my love of daffodils, hoping he would bring me daffodils. While he did many things for me, he never brought me daffodils. One day, some years later, as I was beginning to learn about loving oneself, I thought, “I will buy some daffodils.”

The day I bought myself daffodils was not a sad one. Instead, it was a day of victory in my realization that I could honor my celebration of spring with the beauty of the spring daffodils. In confession, I must say that I have extended this, and now celebrate fall with chrysanthemums, Christmas with pine boughs, and summer with bouquets of daisies. These small gifts nurture my heart. Having lunch alone in a cozy restaurant with a favorite book nurtures my heart. Buying a new book or an inspirational tape recording for listening in my car nurtures my heart. While my beloved nurtures me in ways he things are important, I have great joy in the self-love of my own celebration.”

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

Note: This book, Reflections of the Heart was shared with me by a dear friend and reader. Her mother published this book and I have enjoyed it so much that I’ve found some poems and other golden nuggets to share from it. Thank you, Sherilyn.

Love’s Surprise

I thought the point was happiness,
but my heart
was seeking Love.

Then the goal became success,
but my heart
was seeking Love.
Finally, I hoped for peace,
but my heart
was seeking Love.

In the end my heart prevailed;
Love became my goal.
How? Where?
“Love others and they will love you,”
I was told,
but often they did not.
“Give love and it will return to you,”
but often it did not.
What then is the secret?

Then Love answered,
“Don't wait on love
from this or that person;
receive love from
where it is given.”

“See how this blooming daisy
offers its love,
how the smile
of a stranger,
the kindness of a friend,
the glory of the sunrise
love you?”

And I began to learn
Love is offered throughout my day;
my heart can be filled by
unexpected bits of love
from here, from there,
if I but have eyes to see
and heart to receive.

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

Resources and Logistics

“It’s not a matter of resources, there are more than enough resources. It is more a matter of logistics.”

— Albert K. Strong

“If you give things away with this mythical idea it should have no cost, it will end up demonstrating that it had no value.” This is a quote by Dean Kamen, who is the inventor of the Segway, and many other inventions, and contrary to many who thought he was dead, he is still very much at it. In fact, he is driven to it. I learned so much about him and what he is doing now to try and eradicate disease from the planet by providing clean water from a movie about him on Netflix titled Slingshot. He had figured out how and built machines that can take any kind of water regardless of its present state and make it pure drinkable water.

His quote above is in reference to how many people think about philanthropy–that we should give and that it should not have a cost to the people it is given to, and that the company making these products should just donate them without cost. As I thought about that, since I pretty much agreed with the mainstream idea of helping others around the world, it occurred to me that it isn’t sustainable that way.  What is more sustainable all around the world is enterprise.

Indeed, if more so-called non-profit organizations were run as an enterprise, they would fare better and last longer in my opinion. This applies to churches as well. The idea of enterprise is open to wide interpretation. There are so many ways of doing a thing.

Dean learned soon enough after trying to get his water machine to the people who need it, that it isn’t about resources, it is about logistics, and that the logistics were the most challenging of hurdles to traverse. So, he partnered with a company that is in more countries than are registered in the United Nations–Coca-Cola. They are working together to create sustainable clean water and enterprise will drive it into the future.

Consider this idea in our daily lives. I suspect that we appreciate things more when they have a cost. It is so often the things that have been given to us that are not valued by us with rare exceptions of attached emotion. Even the things that have great cost in comparison also may have greater value. Or not. Value is not fixed; rather, it is a sliding scale. When I look at things I own, I remember what it cost and how I came by it.

But it isn’t the cost alone, is it? As I look around my multi-functional office environment, I see the relative value that is not based on cost. Some things I value greater because it somehow provides greater value to me, which is a way of saying that it means more to me because it is in alignment with me in some way, or it touches me in some important way.

Gifts are wonderful to give. And, perhaps the best gifts cannot be continually given without participation by the receiver. Besides, in my experience, whenever the giver and the receiver are in alignment, there is grand value in comparison to just giving. Yet that is most often a hit and miss affair.

I think it is better to accept responsibility in giving, in that we remove the altruistic idea that our gift is for the sole benefit of the receiver. By accepting responsibility as a giver, we realize that the giving aspect is far more for us than it is for the receiver. Though we would love to have the receiver appreciate the gift, it is really our giving that makes us feel better. At seasonal times such as Christmas, the giving aspect is in full swing, but though we think our focus is on the receiver, it is not. It is on our idea of giving.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with giving, I’m only accepting responsibility for my own thoughts, intent, and actions in doing so. I am giving this gift for me to them. My ego is attached to it as well. If it doesn’t thrill them, I am disappointed. That is not the gift that keeps on giving. As I let go of any benefit to me by focusing on the value to the recipient, I may experience where they are in their world enough to have the gift be of long-term benefit. All of this relates to that old story of giving them a fish or teaching them how to fish. The latter is infinitely more generous, and more importantly, it is sustainable because they are involved in the process of the value of the gift.

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Mesa, AZ