The Beatles sang, "I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends", and that is so true. Regular Chat Room attendees become like a family to each other. Everyone is in the "Same Boat", just at different stages of their journeys. So, everyone is able to offer input, encouragement, and help to the group in their own special ways. Many friends send very helpful emails to be shared, and so we would like to post some of them here for all to benefit from. Enjoy.
As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.
Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles. An Angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.
But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in everyday life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all. I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.
My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.
Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose, each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise. My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and death, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.
And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.
I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.
Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, "Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you."
May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through.
The Three Trees
Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams.
The first tree said, â€˜Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.'
Then the second tree said, 'Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take Kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.'
Finally the third tree said, 'I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest Tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.'
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, 'This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter, 'and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.
At the second tree the woodsman said, 'This looks like a strong tree. I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.' The second tree was happy Because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his
dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, 'I don't need anything special from my tree, I'll take
this one,' and he cut it down.
When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for.
The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.
The third tree was cut into large pieces, and left alone in the dark.
The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.
Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.
Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said 'Peace' and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in it’s boat.
Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.
The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a bigger plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, God will give you great gifts that you can share with others.
Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.
We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His Ways are not always our ways, but His ways are always what is best for us.
DEAR ABBY: I'm responding to "The Other Woman, Anywhere, USA" (March 11).
Please tell your readers if they find themselves in her shoes, they should RUN in the opposite direction.
My husband, "John," and I both left our spouses to be together. It has been 10 years, and I regret leaving my ex-husband every day. I traded a wonderful marriage for an obnoxious, self-absorbed, arrogant man.
John still spends Christmas Day with his ex and his adult children. He says it's out of guilt. He paid for his daughter's wedding reception with money from our joint account. John went alone. I was "forbidden" to attend.
My "soul mate" usually forgets my birthday, and one year he also "forgot" Christmas. If only I could turn back time. I find myself praying for the end of time and realize I'm probably getting what I deserve.
-- LIVING WITH REGRET
DEAR LIVING: Your letter is a reminder that there is dignity in being alone and filling one's "down time" with good friends and helping the less fortunate. As I expected, "Other Woman's" letter generated a ton of mail. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Your reply to "The Other Woman" was 100 percent right on. I was once in love with a married woman and won her heart. I thought, "All's fair in love and war," and had little regard for her husband. Then I met him.
When I looked into his eyes, I knew what I was doing was wrong and bad karma. Here was a human being with a soul, who loved and trusted his wife, who was true to his marriage vows and trusted her to be true, too. If the situation were reversed, I wouldn't want my wife to have an affair with another man. Spiritually, it was an important and painful lesson.
My advice to married people having an affair is to ask yourselves how you would feel if you were being cheated on. Do the right thing. Honesty and integrity matter.
-- FORMER OTHER MAN, ANYWERE, USA
DEAR ABBY: I was the other woman for six years. It has taken me a year to realize how unhealthy the relationship was for me. Not only did it damage my self-esteem, but the guilt became unbearable. I wish I could go back and undo what I have done. Luckily, I now have someone who cares about me and accepts me - flaws and all - and loves me for who I am all the time, not just one or two hours a week.
-- WISER NOW IN VIRGINIA
DEAR ABBY: I was the other woman. Over time I have come to understand that I believed what I wanted to believe because I was lonely, needy and vulnerable. I learned as time went on that my lover was incapable of developing a mature, responsible and meaningful relationship. I experienced the calamitous consequences emotionally, psychologically and financially -- as did our child.
Through counseling, friendships and networking with other women and getting to know myself in a rigorously honest way, I became too healthy to be the “other woman”. I'm now in the marriage I always dreamed of to a man with character and heart, who is devoted to me and "our" child. I learned that the right man would find me when I became the person he was looking for. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it.
-- FINALLY FULFILLED
DEAR ABBY: Thank you for the letter from "The Other Woman" and your reply. I have been divorced 12 years and involved with a married man for more than a year. The affair has been lonely, degrading, unfulfilling and a real self-esteem buster.
Your answer reminded me of what I have always known. Because of it, I have decided to end my affair and get back into the real world. I hope "Other Woman" also wakes up and does the same. And soon.
-- GRATEFUL IN ALABAMA