This is a compilation of thoughts and quotes that I have found or written recently, as well as many that I've collected throughout the years. Most thoughts are posted randomly, as I feel inspired. A listing of quotes can be found alphabetically (check the 2008 and 2009 archives listing), or by source.

Feel free to suggest additions!

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7

Monday, February 23, 2015

Why do things go wrong when we're trying to do what's right?

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Lately I've been pondering why it is that when we set out to do something good 
we face such difficult adversity. Sometimes it even feels like we’re being 
punished for doing the right thing.

Last week I attended a board meeting for the Christmas Box International, 
a charitable organization I founded about fifteen years ago to help abused 
and neglected children. As our director read the list of the year’s accomplishments, 
my mind went back to one of our first board meetings–a painful, agonizing one. 
Back then, it seemed, nothing was going right. Community donations were a 
fraction of what we’d hoped for while our first shelter, which was still under 
construction, was a money pit–six months behind schedule and more than a 
half million dollars over budget. I had used up nearly all my personal savings 
building the shelter and now I couldn’t even qualify for a loan to finish it. 
And we still hadn’t helped a single child. We had no shelter, no money, no 
community support and abused children with no place to go. Surely there couldn’t 
be a more worthy cause than helping abused children, I reasoned. Then why did 
it seem that the universe was against us?

As we were beginning the board meeting my father, who sat on the charity’s
board, asked to speak. “Before we go any further,” he said. “I’d like to make a 
motion. I’m sorry to say this isn’t working. This shelter has nearly bankrupted 
my son. I make a motion that we close down the project.” His words were met 
with stunned silence. Then another board member spoke out. “I’d like to second 
the motion,” he said. “The community hasn’t rallied around this cause like we 
hoped. In all honesty, this is a sinking ship.” As I looked around the table 
everyone seemed to concur. Finally I asked, “Is that how you all feel?” Almost 
all of the board members nodded in agreement. I sat quietly for a moment 
pondering the motion. Honestly, it would have been an incredible relief to stop. 
At times the stress and discouragement of the project seemed overwhelming.

“Just a moment,” I said, excusing myself from the meeting. Walking out of the 
conference room I ducked into the only room not occupied–a mechanical closet. 
There I knelt down to pray. I asked God one question. May I quit? The impression 
that came back was unmistakable. “No. If you fail, no one else will succeed.”
My heart sank. I got up off my knees and walked back into the meeting. Looking 
around the table I said, “Thank you for your concern, but I’m not going to stop. 
If the ship is sinking, I’ll be going down with it. You’re free to join me or not.” 
The room was quiet. Then our director said, “All right. Let’s get on with business.”
The next week I printed up T-shirts for the board and staff with the words: 

For the next few months we continued to painfully limp along. Then one day I 
received a phone call from a friend of mine. A wealthy man she had told about 
the shelter wanted to know more. (He has asked to remain anonymous) Several 
days later I gave him a tour of the unfinished facility. Afterwards he asked me 
how things were going.
“Not like we hoped,” I said. “It’s just about bankrupted me.”
He looked at me quizzically. “You put your own money into this?”
“Almost all of it,” I replied.
He looked surprised. “I’ve never seen a celebrity use their own money,” he said. 
The next day I received a phone call from the man’s assistant. “My boss wanted 
me to call and let you know he is wiring a million dollars to help you finish 
your shelter.”

The shelter was completed. Since then more than 70,000 children have been helped. 
That’s a football stadium!

A few years ago I was signing books when I noticed a pretty young woman 
standing near the back of my line, staring at me. When she finally reached 
my table she said, “Mr. Evans, my whole life I’ve wanted to meet you.”
“You like my books?” I asked.
“Never read them,” she replied.
“Then why did you want to meet me?”
“I’m one of your shelter kids,” she replied. The young lady went on to explain 
that her biological parents were drug addicts and when the state took her and her 
brother away, no one wanted both of them. “We lived in your shelter until mom 
and dad adopted us. Our caseworker said that if it wasn’t for you I would have 
been raised without my brother.” She put her arm around the teenage boy next 
to her. “I’ve always wanted to thank you for my brother.”

That was a beautiful moment–and a sharp contrast to the first four years of panic 
attacks and misery. I remember during those years feeling frustrated and angry 
that everything seemed to go wrong. Many times I felt abandoned by God.
Since then I’ve come to believe that there are two reasons our good deeds are met 
with opposition. First, is to allow us the opportunity to prove to ourselves the 
level of our commitment. It’s been said that adversity introduces a man to himself. 
This is true. If all worthy endeavors were easy, there would be no greatness or 
nobility in the world. Just expediency.

The second reason is more pragmatic. More times than not we do not succeed 
in spite of our challenges and obstacles, but precisely because of them. It is the 
struggle itself that gives a thing life. As Thoreau wrote, “All misfortune is but a 
stepping stone to fortune.” In my case, going through the challenges of building
 the shelter forced me to take an active role in the organizations’ development 
and management. Without it, our cause to help children would probably not have 
survived on to today.

We all have our great causes, in our homes and in the world. It’s important to 
remember that oftentimes the rugged road we are forced to walk is the only path 
to our destination.

5 Habits of Unhappy People

5 habits of unhappy peopleHave you ever wondered why some people walk happily down the streets without a care in the world, while others are so consumed in their misery?
It has something to do with the choices they make in their daily lives.
Sure, circumstances can make life unhappy, but more often, people’s unhappiness comes from their own choices.
And each choice when repeated becomes a habit.
These habits directly affect the quality of lives they live, especially their happiness.
Here are 5 habits of unhappy people, to help you avoid them and perhaps, inspire you to be happy…

1. Being a Perfectionist

Does life have to be perfect before you’re happy? If you answered yes, then you may never be happy.
Setting your performance bar at an inhuman level can only lead to low self-esteem because you’ll always feel like you’re not good enough whenever you fail to achieve perfect results.
We live in the real world where imperfections, failure and mistakes are part of life. The sooner you accept that, the happier you’ll become.
So, how do you overcome perfectionism? Know yourself and limits, and set realistic goals that you can achieve.
Most importantly, forgive yourself for your mistakes, and take necessary steps to learn from them.

2. Letting The Past Dictate Their Future

Another major cause of unhappiness in many people is living in their past.
If your past was riddled with bad experiences and negativity, there are high chances that your current personality mirrors this.
However, one thing is for sure; you can’t change the past, therefore, allowing yourself to be part of it, can only pull you down.
The past should be looked at as what it is, mere learning experiences. If you really think about it, whatever it is doesn’t exist anymore. Therefore there is no point dwelling in the past.
You only have today, so learn to let go of your bad past experiences and focus on your present life.

3. Holding Grudges

It’s very easy to allow yourself to hold a grudge against someone else.
After all, it’s only natural to feel angry and harbor ill feelings against the people who have wronged you.
However, what most people don’t realize is that holding grudges only destroys their own lives.
You end up being more hurt than the person you’re trying to get back at.
How do you let go of grudges?
Learn to forgive and forget the wrongs other people have done to you, accept them for who they are, and move on with your life.

4. Engaging in Negative Self-Talk

The way you speak to yourself shapes your self-image, either for better or for worse.
And as you may already know, self-worth is a key component to happiness.
It’s not easy to be happy when you have low self image and esteem.
You can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy, because whatever you believe yourself to be, it somehow manifests because you yourself are giving it the energy it needs to realize and materialize.
Instead of wasting your time and energy on negative self-talk, realize when you make mistakes, accept and learn from them, and move on.

5. Living Beyond Their Means

We live in a materialistic world where we’re continuously bombarded with adverts of different products, all promising an easier and more fulfilling life.
Buying a new gadget certainly makes most people feel good, but what do you do if you don’t have enough money to spend?
Do you get yourself the latest SUV at the expense of your son’s college fees? I don’t think so.
It’s much better to involve yourself in other activities like sightseeing, exercise etc that will bring you the gratification, without getting into debt.
Now that you know these habits, strive to keep them at bay by following the advice provided.
Above all, enjoy every second you have in this world; after all is short.
Every single one of these points is important to know in order to change our mindset and life for the better. The more knowledge and understanding that we have however, increases our level of consciousness. This gives us the power to take control of our life. Through self-empowerment we can begin to change our way of thinking and perceiving the world, manifesting in it better things and better experiences.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Try Your Best

From the Music and the Spoken Word Broadcast on Sunday, February 8, 2015:

No one ever does everything perfectly right all the time. Each of us makes mistakes and falls short of perfection. That’s life, and that’s OK.

Broadway musical star Idina Menzel shared how she came to this realization. Recently, she wrote: “There are about 3 million notes in a two-and-a-half-hour musical; being a perfectionist, it took me a long time to realize that if I’m hitting 75 percent of them, I’m succeeding. . . . I am more than the notes I hit, and that’s how I try to approach my life. You can’t get it all right all the time, but you can try your best. If you’ve done that, all that’s left is to accept your shortcomings and have the courage to try to overcome them.”1

It’s not that lofty goals, big plans, and high expectations are bad. We grow by stretching, by courageously striving to achieve more than we previously thought possible. But growth also requires patience and perspective. Sometimes we give up on ourselves too early, we start to define ourselves by our mistakes, or we expect perfection and are therefore forever disappointed. When this happens, we may need to ease up and simplify our lives.

For an overwhelmed college student, that meant lightening her schedule and her expectations a bit. For a busy mother, it meant deciding to go a little easier on herself and her children. For all of us, it can mean that we simply do our best—not someone else’s best.

We are all far more than the notes we hit—or fail to hit. Perhaps we should define ourselves not by what we are today but by what we can be, by what we aspire to be. Wherever those aspirations are leading us, let us accept that success can happen over time, little by little. With this perspective, our mistakes and shortcomings can teach us instead of condemn us. In reality, this is what it means to do our best.

1. “Business Lesson: Idina Menzel,” Southwest: The Magazine, Nov. 2014, 57, 

- Lloyd D. Newell

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

What the Sea Means to Me

What the sea 
means to me,
As I stand 
feet in sand,

Sunny skies 
in my eyes,

Water blue 
greenish hue,

Waves roll in, 
dreams begin,

Splashes up, 
fills my cup,

Spirit buoyed, 
no more void.

Ocean birds 
sing the words:

"Come and fly, 
let fear die

No more roam, 
this is home."

by Ken R. Young