maybe I’m not a muggle afterall

This will probably be all over the place, but I felt like typing… I love technology, I love pictures, and I try not to let these loves consume my life. But in the last few years Instagram began to allow short (and now even longer, but still short) videos, I was mesmerized. The first few days when I would look at a picture and it would start moving, my first thought was always, “maybe I’m not a muggle afterall.”

Yes, I really enjoyed reading the Harry Potter series and I’ve watched and enjoyed the movies more than one time. I’m not the least bit embarrassed to say my sister and I took our daughters to Universal Studios in Florida and spent days in the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”  We probably had more fun than they did. I’ve also read and enjoyed the Twilight series, but I must admit Harry Potter and Hogwarts has those vampires beat. I don’t see these stories as being any more damaging to human kind than Cinderella with her bibbity bobbity boo that changed pumpkins into carriages and mice into carriage drivers, or Sleeping Beauty and the wicked witch and her poisonous apple, or Snow White and the magical mirror that identified her as being the ‘fairest in the land’.

The Harry Potter series is filled with so much wisdom, much more than a princess finding her prince and living happily ever after – talk about false expectations! At the Hogwarts School, there are strong female characters who usually fight their own battles, sometimes saving the male characters. There are strong male characters who, when faced with choices between right and wrong, show the struggle they go through before choosing the right path. Many of the ‘evil’ characters are portrayed with beautiful almost perfect exteriors, covering and hiding a rotten and hideous spirit. A lot of the wisdom within the walls of the castle known as Hogwarts is attributed to headmaster Albus Dumbledore. This quote is one of my favorites:

It is not our abilities that show who what we truly are. It is our choices.

Ain’t that the truth! Think of all those people we consider to have natural ability – like sports heroes, actors, or talented musicians – then think of the choices many of them make. Those people have SO much going for them – why do they choose the wrong path? And then I thought about it a little bit more; the things that these celebrities seem to have –  ADORATION, POWER, FAME, and MONEY. That’s a heady and dangerous combination. The world they live in is filled with so much temptation, so much adoration. People adore and claim to “love” these celebrities before they even meet them. And no matter what that person does, they still get that adoration. Someone can be a complete jerk and people are still clamoring to get to know them; to be close to them; to do whatever that person wants them to, to be a part of their world. Their bad behavior is reinforced as there doesn’t seem to be any immediate consequences. And then, after a while, these people who are ‘adored’ come to feel that many rules of normal society don’t apply to them – and I don’t mean just laws, but even basic behavior, like treating people with dignity and respect.

A person may have many natural abilities or talents, but a person’s CHARACTER is not predetermined – it is built, challenged, and tested on a daily basis. 

We must always remember – we have choices; we have control over a lot of the things that affect our lives. We have to consciously strive to make good choices. And I firmly believe it’s not what happens to us, it’s how we react, how many times we get up and try again, that determines the course and happiness of our lives. 

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sometimes you just gotta laugh…

Letters of apology from Spouses following an argument:

Hi Sweetheart,

I’m sorry about getting into an argument about putting up the Christmas lights.  I guess that sometimes I feel like you push me too hard when you want something.

I realize that I was wrong, and I am apologizing for being such a hard-headed guy.  All I want is for you to be happy and be able to enjoy the holiday season. Nothing brightens the Christmas spirit like Christmas lights!

I took the time to hang the lights for you today and now am off to the hockey rink.  Again, I am very sorry for the way I acted yesterday.

I’ll be home later.

Love you……

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Her response:

Hi Honey,

Thank you for that heart-felt apology.  I don’t often get an apology from you, and I truly appreciate it.

I, too, felt bad about our argument and want to apologize.  I realize that I can sometimes be a little pushy. I will try to respect your feelings from now on.

Thank you for taking the time to hang the Christmas lights for me. It really means a lot.

In the spirit of love and forgiveness, I washed your truck for you, and now I am off to the mall.

I love you too!

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Sometimes humor is the only things that gets you through the day!!

and I sure am glad we don’t have a pool…

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a heart shattered…

I am copying this verbatim from CNN.com. Here is the link to the original article.
http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/16/health/autism-homeless-man/index.html

It’s important, it’s thought provoking, it’s real, it’s scary, it’s sad.

A heart shattered by a glimpse into autism

By Rob Gorski, Special to CNN
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Mon April 16, 2012

Editor’s note: Rob Gorski writes for “Lost and Tired,” where he blogs about the reality of raising three boys on the autism spectrum. He and his wife, Lizze, have three boys, Gavin, 12, Elliott, 6, and Emmett John, 3.

Canton, Ohio (CNN) — As the snow started falling, I drove to Giant Eagle to pick up some groceries. With a storm on the way, I needed to stock up on supplies in case we got snowed in.

I pulled into the parking lot of the store and found a spot right in front of the entrance. I sat there for a few minutes, collecting what I needed to take in.

As I reached over to the passenger seat to grab my wallet, I glanced over at the car next to me through the passenger window and saw three people who were loading their groceries into their car. I also saw a large man standing there, reaching over the hood of their car. He was wiping the snow and ice off the car’s windshield with his bare hands.

The owner of the vehicle looked at him with an icy stare that seemed to say, “How dare you touch my car.”

She seemed disgusted just breathing the same air as the man cleaning her windshield. Instead of asking him to stop or giving him a few dollars, she quickly climbed into her car and gunned the car forward so fast the man was knocked back.

A few seconds later, the man got up, walked to my car and knocked on my window. I hadn’t even processed what I had just witnessed. Now he was coming over to me and I had no idea what to say.

“Please, not now, I just want to get what I need and get home,” I thought to myself. Where I live, it’s common for people to approach you for money. I took a deep breath and started to open the door. The man opened it the rest of the way, being careful not to hit the car next to me.

This man stood well over 6 feet and wore sweatpants, a light flannel shirt and boots that were left untied. It was roughly 20 degrees outside and he was clearly not dressed for the cold.

In a rather abrupt voice, he broke the silence by asking, “Can I have your change?”

I scooped up the change I had in the car and gave him everything I had, which was only $2.37. After handing him the money, I explained that I didn’t have any more.

“I’m cold and hungry. Can you take me to the shelter?” he asked.

I noticed his hands. They were at his side but his fingers moved silently up and down, as though he was playing an invisible piano.

He spoke with great difficulty — in a stilted, mechanical fashion and his face showed no emotion.

I never felt threatened, although he stood in my personal space about 1 or 2 feet in front of me. He would occasionally look in my direction, but never at me. Although he stood so close, he avoided eye contact.

“Can you drive me to the shelter? Because it’s warm there and they have food,” he asked me again.

“I’m homeless and very hungry,” he said. “I’m not lying to you. If I lie to you then you might not help me.”

I really didn’t know what to say, because I wasn’t comfortable driving him anywhere.

Then he asked me to buy him some food and gloves. I thought about what to say. I knew he would have a hard time understanding: I don’t have any money. My family is struggling to survive each day. I was trying to figure out how to explain to him that I couldn’t help, but I was at a loss for words.

Then something happened that shook me to the core and completely broke my heart. As I was trying to tell him no, he looked me in the eyes. All of a sudden, I was looking at my oldest son.

My wife and I have three boys with autism; the oldest is 12. Looking at the bare-handed man was like looking through some special window at my oldest son, 20 or 30 years from now.

It was like being run over by a freight train. I was washed by a wave of clarity and my eyes and heart were now open to what was happening in front of me. Suddenly I was transformed from a person trying to avoid the whole situation into a parent, filled with compassion and understanding. He again asked me to buy him food because he was hungry and gloves because his hands were cold.

Something about him was so familiar.

Yes, I would buy him some food. I would never deny any of my children food if they were hungry. He smiled in my direction and took my hand without looking at me and led me into the store. His hands were cold, hardened and chapped.

I noticed the looks people gave me as I walked with the bare-handed man into the grocery store. His clothes were old, beaten up and had a foul odor.

He asked me to buy him a gift card so he could buy food later, when he would be hungry again. So we walked over to the rack and he picked out a Giant Eagle gift card. I put $25 on the gift card. I gave him $25 in cash and asked him to please buy some gloves and a bus ride to the shelter. He asked for the receipt so “When the police stop me, I can prove I didn’t steal this.”

He told me again that he wasn’t lying. I told him I knew he wasn’t.

He turned to walk away, stopped and looked in my direction as if to say “Thank you,” but didn’t. What he did said more than a simple thank you. He showed me his eyes again for a brief moment before he turned around and left.

I was beside myself with grief. How could someone I didn’t know have such a profound effect on me? It took everything I had not to burst into tears.

I just couldn’t shake just how much the bare-handed man reminded me of my oldest son. Their eyes, mannerisms and even the way they speak were so similar. My son struggles with boundaries and personal space simply because he doesn’t understand, not because he wants to be invasive.

All I could think was, “How does this happen?” I was smacked in the face with reality.

Someday I won’t be here to take care of my children. What if this happens to them? What if they are the ones wiping off a windshield with their bare hands and almost being run over by someone who doesn’t care?

I can’t let that happen. I won’t let that happen.

Since that cold February day in 2011, I have met the bare-handed man on a few more occasions. Along the way, I learned that his name is Tim and that he remembers me. Tim has shown me just how much work still needs to be done.

I would like to think that my experience that day — the way people treated Tim in that frozen parking lot — was an isolated incident. Sadly, I know it’s not. Things like this happen all the time. To this writer and father of three beautiful boys on the autism spectrum, this is simply unacceptable.

We need to do what we can to help the world better understand both children and adults with autism. I’m terrified of what the future might hold for my children. I have witnessed how cruel and unforgiving the world can be to people who are perceived as different. It is an ugly reality but one I’m working to help change.

Please help spread autism awareness, even if it’s one person at a time.

Remember that the autistic children of today will be the autistic adults of tomorrow. These people need and deserve our compassion, understanding and respect. Let’s help to ensure that what happened to my friend Tim in the parking lot of the Giant Eagle doesn’t have to happen to anyone else, ever again.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rob Gorski.

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who’s the Susie in your life…

another one of those wonderful stories that cross my desk…

Come with me to a third grade classroom…..

There is a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It’s never happened before, and he knows that when the boys find out he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they’ll never speak to him again as long as he lives.

The boy believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his head down and prays this prayer, ‘Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now I’m dead meat.’

He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered.

As the teacher is walking toward him, a class mate named Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water. Susie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy’s lap..

The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, ‘Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!’

Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is wonderful. But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to someone else – Susie.

She tries to help, but they tell her to get out. You’ve done enough, you klutz!’

Finally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, ‘You did that on purpose, didn’t you?’ Susie whispers back, ‘I wet my pants once too.’

May God help us see the opportunities that are always around us to do good…

Each and everyone one of us is going through tough times right now, but God is getting ready to bless you in a way that only He can… Keep the faith.

This prayer is powerful, and prayer is one of the best gifts we receive. There is no cost but a lot of rewards. Let’s continue to pray for one another. “Father, I ask You to bless my friends, relatives and those that I care deeply for, who are reading this right now. Show them a new revelation of Your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them Your peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence through Your grace. Where there is need, I ask you to fulfill their needs. Bless their homes, families, finances, their goings and their comings. Amen.”

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invisible children…

I’ve seen this term pop up everywhere – Invisible Children”. I had no idea what it meant and for some unknown reason, I hadn’t felt the need to watch any of the videos out there or read anything to find out more – I’m sure it was probably my “very busy life” or some other really important thing like Pinterest or Words with Friends, but whatever the reason I was using, I am truly ashamed.

This morning, something today prompted me to watch a video – I think it was a “tweet” from someone I felt was important. I am so glad I did – these things hurt to watch, but not watching doesn’t make the problem go away. The video I watched this morning is shown below, is slighty less than 30 minutes long, absolutely WORTH EVERY SECOND SPENT WATCHING, and absolutely SPELLBINDING. Please take the time to watch and SPREAD THE WORD. This man, Kony and those like him, must be stopped! Let’s make Kony famous so he can be found!

…and thank you to the people who keep trying to spread the word to people like me who are so “busy” with other things…

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mercy or revenge…

I’m on a great mailing list – there is a gentleman who retired from the company I work for and he sends out a weekly or sometimes bi-weekly newsletter he calls “Breadcrumbs” – there is always great stuff in this newsletter. The following came from that newsletter and caused me to pause and think. I like that 🙂

“Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  (Colossians 3:13ESV)

We all stumble, we all sin, we all blow it, we all make mistakes, and no one is perfect except Jesus Himself. Therefore, we all need massive doses of mercy. Since we are all imperfect this may be the most common way to bless other people. When people around you make a mistake – at work, at school, at home – what do you do? You should show mercy.

Here’s the problem. You only learn mercy by being hurt. God may allow some pain – some hurt – in your life where you learn to express mercy. You will not have to forgive anybody more than God has already forgiven you. This is the motivation for our mercy. God has been merciful to you, so you need to be merciful to others.

Every time we get hurt, we have a choice. “Am I going to use my energy for retaliation or for reconciliation? Am I going to use my energy for revenge or am I going to use it for restoration?” We don’t have enough energy to do both.

We need to develop reputations wherever we are as people who show mercy. Christ-followers should not be known for what we are against. Christians should be known for our mercy. “He’s the most forgiving person in the office.” “She’s the most merciful person at our worksite.”

When someone makes a mistake, when someone blows it, how do you lift them up with your words?  You don’t rub it in: “That was stupid! What were you thinking when you did that? You idiot!” No, you don’t rub it in, you rub it out.

Some have a hard time doing this because they do not know the difference between forgiveness and trust. God calls us to forgive people immediately whether they ask for it or not. In fact, for believers in Christ, forgiving people is not optional. If you claim to be a Christ-follower, you must forgive them and trust God. However, that does not mean that you continue to let them do what they are doing.  For instance, if you’re in a home situation and someone has been abusing you, you change that situation; but, you have to forgive them so you don’t hold on to resentment and grudge, which ends up hurting you more and more as long as you hold on to it.

The fact is the people in your life who you least want to forgive are the people who need it the most- the unlovely people – the people you don’t want to love. Hurt people hurt people.   So here’s the secret of mercy – learn their background. When you find out the background of people, you cut them a whole lot more slack. You find out the background of people and the hurts and heartaches they’ve been through you’re going to be a lot more forgiving. You start looking at people with the eyes of Jesus. That’s mercy.

Who needs your mercy? Think about it right now. Write it down.  Now, work toward sharing a word of mercy with those on your list.

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WD-40…

Another one of those fun (and yet amazing) things that pass over my desk…

Does anybody know what the main ingredient of WD-40 is? Don’t lie and don’t cheat by looking it up or rushing to the bottom of this note. I had a neighbor who bought a new pickup. I got up very early one Sunday morning and saw that someone had spray painted red all around the sides of this beige truck (for some unknown reason). I went over, woke him up, and told him the bad news. He was very upset and was trying to figure out what to do….probably nothing until Monday morning, since nothing was open. Another neighbor came out and told him to get his WD-40 and clean it off. It removed the unwanted paint beautifully and did not harm his paint job that was on the truck. I’m impressed! WD-40 who knew? ‘Water Displacement #40’. The product began from a search for a rust preventative solvent and degreaser to protect missile parts.

WD-40 was created in 1953 by three technicians at the San Diego Rocket Chemical Company. Its name comes from the project that was to find a ‘water displacement’ compound. They were successful with the 40th formulation, thus WD-40. The Convair Company bought it in bulk to protect their atlas missile parts. Ken East (one of the original founders) says there is nothing in WD-40 that would hurt you…When you read the ‘shower door’ part, try it. It’s the first thing that has ever cleaned that spotty shower door. If yours is plastic, it works just as well as glass. It’s a miracle! Then try it on your stove top…Viola! It’s now shinier than it’s ever been. You’ll be amazed.

  • Protects silver from tarnishing
  • Removes road tar and grime from cars
  • Cleans and lubricates guitar strings
  • Gives floors that ‘just-waxed’ sheen without making them slippery
  • Keeps flies off cows
  • Restores and cleans chalkboards
  • Removes lipstick stains
  • Loosens stubborn zippers
  • Untangles jewelry chains
  • Removes stains from stainless steel sinks
  • Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill
  • Keeps ceramic/terra-cotta garden pots from oxidizing
  • Removes tomato stains from clothing
  • Keeps glass (and plastic) shower doors free of water spots
  • Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors
  • Keeps scissors working smoothly
  • Lubricates noisy door hinges on vehicles and doors in homes
  • It removes black scuff marks from the kitchen floor! Use WD-40 for those nasty tar and scuff marks on flooring. It doesn’t seem to harm the finish and you won’t have to scrub nearly as hard to get them off. Just remember to open some windows if you have a lot of marks
  • Bug guts will eat away the finish on your car if not removed quickly! Use WD-40!
  • Gives a children’s playground slide a shine for a super fast slide
  • Lubricates gear shift and mower deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers
  • Rids kid’s rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises
  • Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows and makes them easier to open
  • Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close
  • Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards in vehicles, as well as vinyl bumpers
  • Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles
  • Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans
  • Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling
  • Lubricates fan belts on washers and dryers and keeps them running smoothly
  • Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades and other tools
  • Removes splattered grease on stove
  • Keeps bathroom mirror from fogging
  • Lubricates prosthetic limbs
  • Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell)
  • WD-40 attracts fish. Spray a little on live bait or lures and you will be catching the big one in no time. Also, it’s a lot cheaper than the chemical attractants that are made for just that purpose. Keep in mind though, using some chemical laced baits or lures for fishing are not allowed in some states
  • Removes all traces of duct tape
  • Folks even spray it on their arms, hands, and knees to relieve arthritis pain
  • Florida’s favorite use is: ‘cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers
  • The favorite use in the state of New York: WD-40 protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements
  • Use it for fire ant bites. It takes the sting away immediately and stops the itch
  • WD-40 is great for removing crayon from walls. Spray on the mark and wipe with a clean rag
  • Also, if you’ve discovered that your teenage daughter has washed and dried a tube of lipstick with a load of laundry, saturate the lipstick spots with WD-40 and rewash. Presto! The lipstick is gone!
  • If you spray WD-40 on a distributor cap, it will displace the moisture and allow the car to start

and…
the basic ingredient is FISH OIL!

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