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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Before & After

Priceless photo taken by Brandy
Well, hello there, Sunshines!  Yes, it’s me.  I’m here!  I’m here!  As I looked back at the last blog that I wrote at the end of May, I indicated, “My writing schedule will be a bit sporadic over the next several weeks as I spend some time with my family and friends.”  I did, in fact, spend much time with family and friends over the summer.  However, my writing schedule wasn’t a bit sporadic.  It was virtually non-existent, wasn’t it?  Yes, it truly was.

Nonetheless, I assure you that I was using my time super-duper-fruitfully while making awesome memories at the lake, the river, the beach, the pool, and anywhere else a body of water might be!  I was also polishing up the last few details for the cover of my upcoming children’s book, Gabriel’s Golden Key.  My summer goal was to have my book ready for the fall, just in time to be the perfect purchase for a Christmas gift!  Soooo….stay tuned for the fall release date, my sunshiny friends!

I pray that your June and July were also blessed with health, memorable times, rest, and relaxation.  Then, there’s that eighth little month of the year called August.  August is synonymous with the start of school, so countless folks rejoice in August, while others cringe.  Some of the kiddos started school in the middle of August and some began at the end of the month.  In fact, many of our college students began this week. 

For our fam, the start of school means earlier bedtimes and wake times, hellacious mountains of paperwork to fill out and sign, lunches to pack, school supplies to purchase and label, a few new outfits to wear, and some giggles.  Giggles?  Yes, for me, at least.  After the first day of school, I was perusing facebook for all those precious back-to-school pictures that everyone posts.  I ran across the one above from my sweet friend, Brandy.

I couldn’t stop smiling at the before-and-after shot she captured.  It was a classic.  I love before-and-after pictures anyway and this one was a genuine, 100% REAL deal!  In the morning, those gals were peppy and ready to go!  After a long day at school, they were zonked!  Completely wiped out!  I’m certain that the “after” picture could be found in over 90% of cars or buses – students and teachers alike!  Ha!

I’m always amazed at some of the before-and-after photos that I see online – whether it be someone’s picture after months of exercise and eating right or a fancy make-up artist’s talented work – it’s a thrill for me to see.

There are some other “before-and-after” things that I think about.  For instance, my Uncle Erol sent me an e-mail with six tiny stories that had great meanings.  BEFORE reading them, I had my own idea of what each of these virtues meant.  AFTER reading them, I had a better appreciation for the words.  Here goes:

  • During an incredibly dry season, all the people in a farming village decided to pray for rain.  On the day of prayer, everyone gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella.  That's FAITH.
  • When you throw a baby in the air, she laughs.  Why?  Because she knows you will catch her.  That's TRUST.
  • Every night we go to bed and we don’t have any assurance of being alive the next morning.  However, we still set our alarms to wake us up.  That's HOPE.
  • We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of having zero knowledge of the future.  That's CONFIDENCE.
  • We see the world suffering, but we still get married and have children.  That's LOVE.
  • On an elderly man's shirt was written a statement - I am not 90 years old…I am sweet 16 with 74 years of experience.  That's ATTITUDE.

With ideas of before-and-after running through my head today, I also want to share a thought-provoking story from my friend at Mikey’s Funnies:

A young lady named Sally relates an experience she had in a seminary class taught by her teacher, Dr. Smith.  She says Dr. Smith was known for his elaborate lessons.  One particular day, Sally walked into the seminary and knew they were in for a fun day.  On the wall was a big target and on a nearby table were many darts.

Dr. Smith told the students to draw a picture of someone they disliked or someone who had made them angry in the past.  Then he would allow them to throw darts at the person's picture.

Sally's friend drew a picture of a girl who had stolen her boyfriend.  Another friend drew a picture of his little brother.  Sally drew a picture of a former friend, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing, even drawing pimples on the face.  Sally was pleased at the overall effect she had achieved.

The class lined up and began throwing darts.  Some of the students threw their darts with such force that their targets were ripping apart.  Sally looked forward to her turn, but was filled with disappointment when Dr. Smith, because of time limits, asked the students to return to their seats.

As Sally sat down, thinking about how angry she was because she didn't have a chance to throw any darts at her target, Dr. Smith began removing the target from the wall.  Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus.

A complete hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled picture of Jesus; holes and jagged marks covered His face and His eyes were pierced.

Dr. Smith said only these words, "I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me" (Matthew 25:40).

No other words were necessary.  The tear-filled eyes of each student focused only on the picture of Christ.

With the beginning of school and all the fatigue and stresses that can come with that, I guess this is a good time to remember to try and look for Christ in everyone this week…BEFORE we throw the dart.  Once the dart has been thrown, we can’t take it back.  Once the damaging words have been said…once the hurtful actions have been done…we can’t undo them.

Here’s to thinking BEFORE we speak, so that we don’t regret the AFTER.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!