(This is an archived article from Dec 14 2005 written by Leslie Centanni)
There isn't one person who lives an entire lifetime without helping at least one other person. Oh, they may brag about it, regret it, do it for selfish reasons, or holy reasons, or no reason at all. Maybe they'll do it over and over, or never help another soul again. But from the meanest bad guy to the nicest good guy, every person has at least one incident in their personal book of life of helping another person. So what makes for this extraordinary commonality? It's just human nature. Sometimes denied, and often thwarted, but human nature nonetheless.
In my view, helping someone else in a tangible, personal way is more fulfilling than giving money, although money does have its place. For example, there's this lady in Oklahoma, just a nice lady, a little elderly, who "promised God" when her adopted son died that she was going to do something to help the families of every fallen soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan. She's not a rich person, so she couldn't just give away money and be done with it. And even if she were a millionaire, the spirit of her giving wasn't about money anyway. She's not a politician, glad-handing for accolades, a socialite pining for adulation, or a movie star seeking the limelight.
No, Jan Landers is just a hard-working lady who finds comfort in comforting others. An engraver by trade (a skill she only learned a few short years ago), Jan simply began making personalized engraved dog tags-- which she calls "Fallen Hero Angel Tags" --for customers and friends with loved ones serving in Iraq, as her son had also done. She became inspired to make sure EVERY mom who lost a child in Iraq got one of these tags, so they could "hold their child close to their heart" by way of this little memento. So she began at the beginning, crafting one tag at a time, pulling names and contact information from whatever sources she could find, and painstakingly engraving each Angel Tag with a picture the fallen service member, the date they were lost to their loved ones, and the words "All Gave Some, Some Gave All".
Family members who have received their own Angel Tags (whether mom, wife, dad, whoever) tell of their deeply felt emotions when receiving the small token of handmade love and care. Jan's gift works, just as surely as a big warm hug or shared tears.
This is just one example of how you can help someone else in needâ€¦ whether that need be one of comfort, care, food, clothing, advice, or even a job. Use any ability you may have to help another who has a need, or a hope, for help. The key isâ€¦ every person helped must, in turn, help yet another person, and use their own particular gifts or abilities as the opportunity presents itself. Over the history of mankind, we've seen how this system works in times of extreme difficulty, and in my opinion, there is no time like the present to get it working in our every day lives in a big way.
A revolution of this magnitude, oddly, can only happen one person at a time. That "one person" includes you and me, too, my friends. It requires a commitment between you and your conscience, and me and my conscience, to be there for each other (if we are able) without fear of exploitation or manipulation. This may seem like an unrealistic view of human relations, but why not try?
There is no time like the present to make your move. We all face difficult or seemingly insurmountable challenges at one time or another, and surely we all require help now and again. Let that hard reality be the catalyst that motivates you to help someone else. It doesn't take a lot of effort, just sharing a little of whatever you've got with someone else.
There are a lot of people like Jan. I know, because I've met them. In my life, I've had many reasons to be grateful for people reaching out to help me, even when I didn't realize I needed the help. Jan's carefully crafted tags arrive in the mail, an unexpected and extraordinary blessing that just shows up one day, and you can imagine the emotional reaction. You can help Jan continue to make the Angel Tags or go find another cause, but whatever you do, do something to help someone somewhere today.
This world, and our country too, have suffered such emotional hardships, such difficult moments these last few years. I see 9/11 as a scar that will mark us for all time as a people and a nation. I also see it as the defining moment in the ultimate demise of the evil men who perpetrate such acts. The new millennium was forever defiled by their bloodstained acts of ill-conceived retribution. And so, a new generation of young people the world over had to learn the hard way the meaning of "fight or die" in defense of their nations. It hasn't been an easy lesson, not for any of us. It never is.
The thing we must remember is that there are lost souls capable of terrible evil in every generation, every nationality, every country, tribe, race, community, and walk of life. But there are also trusting and honest souls capable of great good who believe in the preservation of life, and in dwelling in peace amongst their neighbors. It's not a matter of being an American, it's a matter of being a decent human being. Even as we learn who not to trust, we must be able to trust someone. So, as the old story goes, we must beware of wolves in sheep's clothing. But just as importantâ€¦ keep your heart open to the possibility a lamb is on your doorstep.
I find the fact that Christmas and Hanukkah fall on the same day this year a curious and delightful paradox.
Best Wishes and a very Happy New Year to us all!
Fallen Heroes "Angel Tags" Project: http://www.landersink.com/fallenheroes.htm
I know this is long, but it's an excellent example of the spirit of love and charity, and well worth reading! Author unknown.. but she could be someone you know, or even you.
"In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone..
The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two.
Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Wenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries.
Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.
If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.
I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.
The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck.
The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job.
Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.
An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night.
I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.
That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.
When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money--fully half of what I averaged every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak.
I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.
One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires.
Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered. I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires. I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids.
I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then hid them in the basement so there would be something for
Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.
Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.
On Christmas Eve, the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.
When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.) It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car - or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what.
When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement.
My old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door, crumbled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.
Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes.
There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour.
There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items.
And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll..
As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.
....Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December..
And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop...."
THE POWER OF PRAYER. God still sits on the throne, the devil is a liar. You maybe going through a tough time right now, but God is getting ready to bless you in a way that only He can. Keep the faith.
My instructions were to pick four people that I wanted God to bless, and I picked you.
Please pass this to at least four people you want to be blessed. 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. Here is the prayer:....
Father, I ask You to bless my friends, relatives and email buddies reading this right now. Show them a new revelation of Your love and power.
I know I picked more than four, so can you.