One Person Can Make a Difference

I believe that one person really can make a difference.  All too often we hear reference to the fact that I am just one person, I can’t change the world.  I am learning that we really do all individually and collectively make a difference.  Just like the rock that is skipped across the still water that sends ripples as it disappears into the bottom of the lake; we too send ripples across not only our lives but the lives all around us.  Just imagine what the lake would look like if 3 or 4 were skipping rocks at the same time, now imagine how dramatically the face of it would change if a hundred all did the same.  The ripple effect becomes exponential, not only do we have an impact on those around us but also on the spheres of influences that those around us have.

One can look back at history and see many examples of individuals who made a huge impact on the world.  Billy Graham, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Helen Keller, Anne Frank, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Abraham Lincoln just to name a few.  We see their influence on the world and attribute it to some special gift that they had.  While circumstances may have impacted their influence they each chose to use the situations they were given to make a difference for others.  I am not sure that they were really anything “special” more that the outcome was based on the decisions that they made.

We are all nobody special and yet we all are special in that each and everyone regardless of status, upbringing, mistakes of the past, and even natural ability can and do make a difference.  Recently I received notice that my son was going to receive the Presidential Unit Citation.  This award is given for “extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy.  The unit must display such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign.”  How does a young man from Keizer, Oregon; raised by a single mom; not associated with anyone of high stature; just a regular every day kid become such a hero?  I would like to take credit that I was such a wonderful mom who had all the right answers and did all the right things but that’s really not true (except the wonderful mom thing, well okay truthfully, I just did the best that I knew how with lots of mistakes and tons of God’s grace).  What really shaped this young man was a result of the seeds that were planted by all those who crossed his path, yes even the bad seed.

Kind of an interesting thought how does bad seed turn into good fruit?  While the seed that was sown may not have necessarily been meant for good; our attitude, decisions and choices that we make can stall us, turn us bitter, or even develop into a full blown pity party.  (Oh yes I have often had coffee with pity, sometimes even a full scale lunch, it was a lonely gathering that only I enjoyed, unfortunately for those around me it often had a rancid odor, in other words while I might have enjoyed the pity party it stunk for those around me.)  Or we can use the seed to turn a different direction, reevaluate our purpose and mission, or in my sons’ case set out to prove that they were wrong.  Whatever the motivation it still boils down to decisions and choices and in many cases those decisions and choices must be made over and over again.  The problem with much of life is it is so daily.  Daily decisions (often the same ones being made over and over again), daily habits, daily choices that often don’t really seem to make a difference.  Maybe it’s just that we don’t see the difference that they make.  Consider eating a 3 inch chocolate chip cookie.  Will it make a difference if I have one today? Probably not, but if I make a decision to have a cookie today, and then tomorrow, and the next and so on that simple cookie that adds 120 calories a day, adds 3600 calories in a month or 43,200 calories in a year.  There is power in exponential growth.  Influence works the exact same way; if we each only made a difference in a person’s life exponential growth will automatically kick in.  But even more what if we each made a difference each and every day whether it be simply holding the door open, buying a meal or a bag of groceries for someone who is hungry, a kind word, or even simpler sharing a smile with everyone we walk or drive by.  By looking at things this way changing the world seems more of a possibility, maybe even a reality.

One may never know the impact that they have on others.  I have been extremely blessed to see the impact of one’s life that really just loved and accepted others where they were.  I have had so many come up to me and tell me how much they knew that Ryan loved them.  He didn’t just say it, he showed it.  It has impacted me to emulate my son and make a difference in others and I do believe that I can inspire others to do the same.  It is best summed up by John F Kennedy “One person can make a difference and every person should try.”

Shawna

For Your Birthday

I like to think about
God watching over our lives
from the beginning…

…arranging things
so that our paths would cross
and we would realize
we were meant for each other.

God made you for me…
and I bet it makes Him happy
to see what a wonderful husband
you are.

It makes me happy, too…
having your love
and sharing our faith
in the One who knows us so well.

I love you.

—————————————

Above was the verse on the birthday card my wife gave me today. While I’m not entirely sure I’m worthy of such praise… I can truly identify with the idea that our relationship was divinely arranged from the beginning. I know that some people have their faith reinforced after witnessing healings and such. Our relationship is one miracle that has definitely reinforced mine. It was as much an obvious evidence of God as I could imagine.

Pondering Thoughts of the Vastness of Life

I sat outside this afternoon at the picnic table at work soaking up the sun (yes it does shine once in awhile here in Oregon).   The view was tremendous.  My office is on a hillside overlooking the south part of town, it is almost a park like setting.  The industrial area below was humming with work, and you could hear the traffic moving along I-5, yet the birds chirping seemed to be a much stronger sound, well at least more peaceful and beautiful.  The valley gives way to rolling hills which leads into the mountains, really quite breath taking.

As I sat there taking it all in I was overwhelmed by the vastness.  Quite different than the view from my desk which is really limited.  I began to wonder what God’s view was at that time (and yes for a brief minute, Ryan’s view from Heaven, how spectacular it must be).

I began to think about the little details.  I am confident that in one of the houses, way across where I could barely see, was someone.  However, my view being limited I couldn’t tell if there was someone, let alone what color their hair was, or eyes, or were they wearing flip flops?  Probably not at least not blinged out ones like those of us who are “cool” do.  Okay squirrel….(for those of you who are wondering what in the world that means, watch the movie UP). Focus…okay back to the view and thought.

How in the world can God up in Heaven, look down at the vastness and yet care about each and everyone of us individually?  He not only knows what color my hair is, He has a plan and purpose that is specific just for me.   While I don’t doubt this at all, I just don’t understand how that is possible.  He is not surprised by anything that happens and He promises to work all things for good.  Our lives are indeed like the tapestry.  Lots of threads all woven together.  

While I prefer bright cheery colors and could live with out the black and dark brown colors, I realize the blacks and the browns or dark colors if you will, are what give the tapestry definition.  Just like the dark times in our lives, they add definition and dimension to make up the final picture. While I know this is true, I still would prefer to live without the dark.  Perhaps I have already had enough of the dark colors and now its time for the brightness to paint my life.

It’s been a little over 5 years since Ryan was KIA.  I am reminded of it again as the anniversary of some of his best buddies approaches tomorrow.  I couldn’t help but ask why they were taken.  Ryan’s purpose was to protect them, if they were going to be taken as well, then why did he have to die also?  These questions still remain unanswered, although the more I learn the more I wonder if he could have handled it.  He took the other losses so personal.  He told me his job and mission was to protect the others.  He had felt like he failed.  So when he was killed I accepted it, knowing he was saving the others (okay so accepted may not be the best word, but it did help knowing that he was doing what he was “called” to do).  All that to say that the darkest days have also shaped who I am.  I definitely have a different perspective on life and it’s brevity.  In fact 6 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to sit out on the picnic bench.

We don’t always know what God’s plan for us is but we can stand on His promises knowing that He loves us, never gives us more than we can handle and will work all things for good.  Just like the sunshine that beat down on my face today, God has blessed me immensely with a new phase of bright colors and sunshine with the perfect man for me.

You’re the Best, Shawna

Principles for Life

I have been reading Black Belt Patriot by Chuck Norris (which I highly recommend). Imagine what this country if not the world would be like each if us adapted his Principles for Life:

  1. I will develop myself to the maximum of my potential in all ways.
  2. I will forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements.
  3. I will always be in a positive frame of mind and convey this feeling to every person that I meet.
  4. I will continually work at developing love, happiness and loyalty in my family and acknowledge that no other success can compensate for failure in the home.
  5. I will look for the good in all people and make them feel worthwhile.
  6. If I have nothing good to say about a person, I will say nothing.
  7. I will give so much time to the improvement of myself that I will have no time to criticize others.
  8. I will always be as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.
  9. I will maintain an attitude of open-mindedness toward another person’s viewpoint while still holding fast to that which I know to be true and honest.
  10. I will maintain respect for those in authority and demonstrate this respect at all times.
  11. I will always remain loyal to God, my country, family and my friends.
  12. I will remain highly goal-oriented throughout my life because that positive attitude helps my family, my country, and myself.

Just imagine…. Shawna

Seasons

As I sit and look out the window with the blue sky attempting to burst through the dull gray of winter, it reminds me of the cycles people often go through. There are times in life that reflect the warmth of summer — bursting with love, peace, laughter, family and all the joyful things that are like a child playing on a swing set on a warm August day. Then there are the dark seasons of life that resemble gloomy, cold, stormy days in the midst of winter — loss of a loved one, financial stress, even the humdrum of daily life. But then there comes the season I enjoy most — springtime. Spring is full of hope. New buds and blossoms burst forth with signs of new life invoking new possibilities, hopes and dreams; gray transitions into beautiful colors bringing joy to all those around. The air, while still crisp, warms, and the sun begins to peek through the window pane, warming my soul and bringing a smile to my face.

Just as nature experiences all seasons, so do we. Sometimes we can prepare —like putting on a coat during the winter — but life does throw us curve balls. We go through unexpected seasons, but we can remain hopeful when going through winter because we know “spring” is coming. I have found challenging times lead to growth and new opportunities. I must choose to take advantage of those opportunities and in the difficult seasons plant good seeds so that when spring comes around, beauty, hope and joy will burst forth and bless others. So while it is still winter time, know that spring is coming and with that season will come hope.

~Shawna Fenison