Web Inspirations

Web Inspirations for Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere

Here's a true story about a magnificent elm tree. The tree was planted in the first half of the 20th Century on a farm near Beulah, Michigan (USA). It grew to be a magnificent tree.

In the 1950s, the family that owned the farm kept a bull chained to the elm. The bull paced around the tree, dragging a heavy iron chain with him, which scraped a trench in the bark about three feet off ground. The trench deepened over the years, though for whatever reason, did not kill the tree.

After some years, the family sold the farm and took their bull. They cut the chain, leaving the loop around the tree and one link hanging down. Over the years, bark slowly covered the rusting chain.

Then one year, agricultural catastrophe struck Michigan in the form of Dutch Elm Disease. It left a path of death across vast areas. All of the elms lining the road leading to the farm became infected and died.

Everyone figured that old, stately elm would be next. There was no way the tree could last, between the encroaching fungus and its chain belt strangling its trunk.

The farm's owners considered doing the safe thing: pulling it out and chopping it up into firewood before it died and blew over onto the barn in a windstorm. But they simply could not bring themselves to do it. It was as if the old tree had become a family friend. So they decided to let nature take its course.

Amazingly, the tree did not die. Year after year it thrived. Nobody could understand why it was the only elm still standing in the county!

Plant pathologists from Michigan State University came out to observe the tree. They observed the scar left by the iron chain, now almost completely covered by bark and badly corroded.

The plant experts decided that it was the chain that saved the elm's life. They reasoned that the tree must have absorbed so much iron from the rusting chain, that it became immune to the fungus.

It's said that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. Or, as Ernest Hemingway put it, "Life breaks us all, but afterwards, many of us are strongest at the broken places."

The next time you're in Beulah, Michigan, look for that beautiful elm. It spans 60 feet across its lush, green crown. The trunk is about 12 feet in circumference.

Look for the wound made by the chain. It serves as a reminder that because of our wounds, we can have hope! Our wounds can give us resources we need to cope and survive. They can truly make us strong.

-- Steve Goodier

Jan 20, 2008


Jan 18, 2008

Someone to Look After

During my second year of college, I was scouting around for a place to live, as my roommates had dropped out of school. One Sunday after church, the pastor put his arm around me and said, "I understand you need a room. Our daughter is in New Zealand this year as a foreign exchange student. If you'd like to stay with us, you may use her room."

To be honest, I really didn't want to stay with "the preacher's family." I was 19 years old and on my own. But then he told me how much rent would be: a ridiculously low figure that included one home-cooked meal a day. I thought about the offer for about a minute and decided to move in.

At the end of the semester, I had planned to find other living arrangements, since the daughter was to return home. But they asked if I wanted to stay on another term, suggesting I move across the hall and share a room with their son. By this time, I seemed to have been adopted into their family. Her people became my people, as it was put so beautifully in the old biblical story of Ruth. I happily accepted the offer.

As I vacated the daughter's bedroom, I thought it might be nice to have a little sister to look after. But when I later met my new sister, I realized the idea of looking after her might be more interesting than I first imagined.

We eventually fell in love, married, and have looked after one another for many years. There have been times that life turned out to be more challenging than either of us could have known. But we have always been able to go forward, largely because we knew somebody deeply cared.

It isn't about marriage, it's about love. It's about mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and special friends who are as close as family. It's about anybody who can say, "I'll be around, you can count on me. I'll try to look after you and sometimes, I will need you to look after me."

Is there somebody you can depend on? And are others counting on you? We travel the path of life best when there is somebody to look after, and when someone is looking after us.

--Steve Goodier

Jan 17, 2008

Thrown from the Bull

Speaker Andy Sherman tells about learn­ing to ride bulls in the rodeo.

At eighteen, he told his father he wanted to be a professional bull rider. His father said, "You want to do what? Why would you want to do that?" Andy said jokingly, "I don't know - I guess I like the hours. You just work eight seconds at a time. That appeals to me."

His father, concerned about the inherent danger, responded, "I absolutely forbid you to do that!" And, at that moment, young Andy instantly knew his life's calling!

The only problem was - he couldn't ride. Always 7 1/2 seconds away from making the eight­-second buzzer, he decided to enter "Rodeo School."

The first day of school he was told to get on a bull. He got on and was immediately thrown off. The instructor said, "Get on another one." He was thrown from a second bull. Then a third. And a fourth. He finally asked the instructor, "Are you going to show me how to ride these things?" "That's how you ride them," came the re­ply. "Just get on one and ride."

By the week's end, Andy had climbed on, and been thrown off, about eighty bulls. But he learned how to ride. Experience can be a great teacher. Unfor­tu­nately, there is only one way to get it, and that is to fall a few times until you learn.

Like the em­ployer who told her new employee, "I hired you to make right decisions."

"And how do I do that?" he asked.

"Experience!" she answered.

"How do I get experience?" he asked.

"Wrong decisions."

But experience will never come if we are afraid to try. And fail. And try again. And maybe fail again.

We may have to "get thrown from a lot of bulls" if we are ever going to learn to ride.

But that is part of living a full and happy life!

-- Steve Goodier

Jan 16, 2008

True generosity

When a tornado touched down in a small town nearby, many families were left devastated. Afterward, all the local newspapers carried many human-interest stories featuring some of the families who suffered the hardest.

One Sunday, a particular picture especially touched me. A young woman stood in front of a totally demolished mobile home, an anguished expression twisting her features. A young boy, seven or eight years old, stood at her side, eyes downcast. Clutching at her skirt was a tiny girl who stared into the camera, eyes wide with confusion and fear.

The article that accompanied the picture gave the clothing sizes of each family member. With growing interest, I noticed that their sizes closely matched ours. This would be a good opportunity to teach my children to help those less fortunate than themselves. I taped the picture of the young family to our refrigerator, explaining their plight to my seven-year-old twins, Brad and Brett, and to three-year-old Meghan.

"We have so much, and these poor people now have nothing," I said. "We'll share what we have with them."

I brought three large boxes down from the attic and placed them on the living room floor. Meghan watched solemnly as the boys and I filled one of the boxes with canned goods and other nonperishable foods, soap and other assorted toiletries.

While I sorted through our clothes, I encouraged the boys to go through their toys and donate some of their less favorite things. Meghan watched quietly as the boys piled up discarded toys and games.

"I'll help you find something for the little girl when I'm done with this," I said.

The boys placed the toys they had chosen to donate into one of the boxes while I filled the third box with clothes. Meghan walked up with Lucy, her worn, faded, frazzled, much-loved rag doll hugged tightly to her chest. She paused in front of the box that held the toys, pressed her round little face into Lucy's flat, painted-on-face, gave her a final kiss, then laid her gently on top of the other toys.

"Oh, honey," I said. "You don't have to give Lucy. You love her so much."

Meghan nodded solemnly, eyes glistening with held-back tears. "Lucy makes me happy, Mommy. Maybe she'll make that other little girl happy, too."

Swallowing hard, I stared at Meghan for a long moment, wondering how I could teach the boys the lesson she had just taught me. For I suddenly realized that anyone can give their cast-offs away. True generosity is giving that which you cherish most.

Honest benevolence is a three-year-old offering a treasured, albeit shabby doll to a little girl she doesn't know with the hope that it will bring this child as much pleasure as it brought her. I, who had wanted to teach, had been taught.

The boys had watched, open-mouthed, as their baby sister placed her favorite doll in the box. Without a word, Brad rose and went to his room. He came back carrying one of his favorite action figures. He hesitated briefly, clutching the toy, then looked over at Meghan and placed it in the box next to Lucy.

A slow smile spread across Brett's face, then he jumped up, eyes twinkling as he ran to retrieve some of his prized Matchbox cars.

Amazed, I realized the boys had also recognized what little Meghan's gesture meant. Swallowing back tears, I pulled all three of them into my arms.

Taking the cue from my little one, I removed my old tan jacket with the frayed cuffs from the box of clothes. I replaced it with the new hunter green jacket I had found on sale last week. I hoped the young woman in the picture would love it as much as I did.

It's easy to give that which we don't want anymore, but harder to let go of things we cherish, isn't it? However, the true spirit of giving is to give with your heart.


Jan 9, 2008

Get enough sleep

We spend so many hours at work that when we clock off, we try to squeeze every minute out of what remains of the day to feel that we have a life.

Yet, our bodies cry out for sleep as most of us will need seven to nine hours of rest in bed. So how can we really impress at work, have a life and get enough sleep as well?

Get tips on how to managing your lifestyle better to get enough shut-eye at Fit For Work

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