Sap Thaw Promise

forest-glen-innHere in the northeast, the end of January and beginning of February is a unique time of year. We all know that winter is far from over but “cabin fever” sets in, and people are ready for that first, sunny taste of Spring. Thoughts of fishing and camping start coming to mind, and an incoming snow storm is not embraced with very much grace. Fortunately there is a reprieve that usually comes our way during this unsettled time of year. The old timers who lived in the Adirondacks call it the “January”, “Sap” or “Sweet Water” thaw, and it was a promise of warmer weather yet to come.

This early thaw is caused by a shift in the Jet Stream which crosses through our region far overhead. This time of year one part of it tends to take a dip into the western US, and another part of it meanders northward into Canada. This massive “S” shaped movement blocks cold arctic air from flooding into our region and funnels warm southern air up from Texas, Florida and Georgia. Our days can warm into the 40’s and 50’s, and snow-melt runs into the ice-clogged rivers filling them with water once again. If it lasts long enough, Sugar Maples begin to wake up, and the sap begins to make an early run. Indians in our area were the first to collect this maple sap, which they called “sweet water”.  Thus, the name “sap thaw” or “sweet water thaw” came into being.

Those who own a sugarbush, where maple sap is collected and evaporated into maple syrup, understand the importance of the sap thaw. The first early run of the regular sap season is like money in the bank. This is because every drop collected during these times has a higher concentration of sugar to water. An early run can be in the order of 30 to 1, which means thirty gallons of sap will produce 1 gallon of syrup. Later runs will have a ratio of 40 to 1, and this produces a very different kind of syrup.

On a few rare occasions there has been an extended “sap thaw”, and people were able to collect enough sap to begin their sugaring season in late January or early February. A very early thaw can produce a ratio as high as  25 to 1. This means the final product will be a sweet, light amber syrup of the highest quality and this will bring a premium price at market. Because the early sap has less water content, it needs less heat to drive off the water and bring it to the right consistency for syrup. Later runs need more evaporation which means more heat must be added, and this produces a darker, stronger flavored syrup that is not as highly prized.

I give this lesson from the maple sugaring industry because I want to illustrate a point. The potential for a sweet syrup is always in the sap, but it takes a lot of heat and time to bring it out. Also, each gallon of maple syrup is made the exact same way. The sap may be boiled in different kinds of evaporators, and they may use different heat sources, but the process is always the same. There is no real shortcut if maple syrup is going to be done right. The point is, it just takes more time to get the syrup when there is a lot of water in the way.

We are just like that maple sap. We naturally come with a lot of excess stuff which has to be dealt with. The harder we hold on to it, the harder it is to get at the final sweet product God placed within us. When we yield easily, the light amber-colored syrup of goodness will flow out of us for all to enjoy. When we don’t quickly yield to the dealings of God, He has to apply more heat in order to get rid of that which is undesirable. This means the process of life will become more and more difficult over time. If we are not careful, these additional dealings will impact many areas of our life, which can change how we see God and life in general.

What I mean is, resistance to the dealings of God only serves to prolong the “heat” He must apply to bring change to our life.  That prolonged heat was never intended for us, but it will start to make subtle shifts in what we think, and how we view things. We can begin to doubt God’s goodness and question His love and plans for us. In the end, it can shake our faith, cause us to see ourselves as a victim and even make us stumble in our walk with the Lord. If this continues, what’s in us will begin to become dark and bitter, like the last old run of maple syrup. This all happens because we insist on stubbornly fighting every change God’s is trying to make, and we cling to the things that really need to go.

What about you? Have you been holding on to things God wants to eliminate from your life? Is there anger, unforgiveness, offense, emotional pain, negative people around you, disappointment or other things you are holding on to that are now holding on to you? Perhaps it’s time to yield to the dealings of God, stop the struggle and just let some things go. The fact is, you can’t change your past, but your past does have the power to change your future.

If you hold on to the good things, and release those things that want to hold you hostage, everything will change. You can move forward and finally get to the good stuff God intended for your life. The best part is, all this will happen with a lot less heat simply because you made a shift in the right direction. This could be your season to change. Change your attitude, change your point of view and begin to listen for the sound of running water. Even in the dead of winter, a sap thaw promise of better things to come can be found. That choice, my friends, is always up to you!


Nothing Is Ever Really Lost


Alan Robinson and Walter MacFarlane have been close friends for 60 years. It all started when they played football together at a prep school in Hawaii. The men grew up, lived a few houses apart, raised families and remained good friends all their working years. As they approached retirement, they each decided to take a DNA test and uncover the details of their lost personal histories. Walter never knew his father, and Alan never knew his birth mother because he had been adopted as a baby. The men felt it was time to uncover who they really were, since both longed for family connections they had never known.

Honolulu news station KHON-TV reported that after a number of unsuccessful searches on social media and other sites, MacFarlane finally found a clear match using a DNA-matching website. He was excited to tell his friend that someone out there had an identical X chromosome with his. This meant that the unknown man and he had the very same birth mother and Walter actually had a brother he never knew about. After the DNA match was confirmed, the two mystery men exchanged names. To Walters amazement, his unknown brother was none other than his best friend Alan. Both men said it was an “overwhelming experience” when they revealed the wonderful news to friends and family.

“This is the best Christmas present I could ever imagine,” Mr Robinson said. “I had a younger brother, and never knew it. It’s funny that all these years I thought I never had any close relatives, but I always had my best friend Walter. The funny thing is, I adopted his kids as my own nieces and nephews. They just accepted me as part of the family. Now I find out they really are my nieces and nephews. What’s so amazing is that all these years our families grew up together, and I thought I had lost that time with family but nothing was ever really lost. It’s overwhelming to think about right now.” He went on to say, “There were many times when I thought, you know, I look like Robi in some ways, but I just blew it off as wishful thinking. Now I know why!”

Many times in life it seems as if something has been lost forever. We can think something that was so important is gone, and it can never be recovered. A friendship, a relationship or even personal property that had great meaning, can all go missing. At such times, the longing to have everything made right can begin to overtake our lives, and rob us of the joy of living for today. The question is, what will we do in situations like this? The answer to that question really depends on us.We can move on, hold on to hope and make the best of things, or we can hold on to the loss and let that pain rule our lives.

In some cases, things can actually be restored, and bridges long gone can be mended. Other times, you may have to forgive what happened, and just let things go into the hands of God. Every circumstance has a solution of it’s own, and we must be patient, make the best of things and keep a good attitude, no matter how things have turned out. A friend of mine is a good example of how holding on to hope and not the loss, allows God and circumstances to work out what seems impossible. We just have to do our part, keep looking, and be patient.

45 years ago he was living down south. He had traveled there in his truck with his trusty childhood .22 rifle, from his home in upstate New York. One day someone broke into his truck and took that prized childhood gun. Fortunately, he had removed the bolt from it and that was the only thing he had to remind him of that treasure. He held on to that bolt for decades and continue to confess that one day he would find the gun that fit that bolt. Sure enough, thirty odd years later he found the same year and model gun, and the owner basically gave it to him because it was missing the bolt. His bolt slipped right into the gun frame as a perfect match, and at that moment he realized anything is possible if you have hope and don’t give up.

If you have suffered a loss, missed an opportunity or had something just slip through your fingers, don’t despair. All is not lost. God is able to do amazing things if you will just relax, continue to do your part and patiently hold onto the hope that is within you. In the economy of God, nothing is ever really lost. It may be misplaced for a season, or be in hiding for a reason. It may have been taken from you by force, or you may have let go of it by mistake. The thing is, don’t count it as a loss. I am here to tell you that nothing is impossible with God. If He can raise people from the dead and part the Red Sea, He can surely restore anything that seems long gone and lost forever.

Look with the eyes of faith. Never, ever give up. Trust God in all things. Bathe everything in prayer. Dwell on all the wonderful things God has already done. Be patient and don’t let your heart be troubled. He is a master at doing what is impossible for everyone else. Have a heart of expectant gratitude and open joy. Live life to the fullest and take others with you, where ever that may be. By doing these things you will impact everyone who gets near you and be more than a life-changer, you will be a world-changer. My question is simple; “why tell the stories of what others have done when you can really live life and tell stories of your own?” Remember, nothing is ever lost, but it may be delayed for a season or a reason! You just have to wait for it…….

Thinking It Through

Old_Red_CarThe day we live in is often over run by emotional decision-making, impulsive decisions, lack of prayer, not getting wise counsel and not thinking things all the way through. I have seen this deadly, over-powering combination have a devastating impact on the lives of many people, and the finances of numerous families. In the moment of what seems to be a crisis, snap decisions get made that look like a necessary answer to the problem at hand. Unfortunately, without fully thinking through things, the immediate solution that gets embraced usually has a long-term problem attached to it that will complicate life, frustrate everyone and cause a multitude of problems that tie us up in ways we never anticipated. All this mess happens because emotions rule us and we will not slow down long enough to think things through.

Years ago I had a car that was running pretty good. It was not the most beautiful thing on the road, but it was dependable and got me where I needed to go. I bought it for cash so the repairs it needed were paid for in full as they came up. That car got me to work and it let me go where I wanted to go with my free time. Then something happened that change everything. One of my friends purchased a newer vehicle and he was “only paying $120 a month”. Every time I saw him in that car something in me got fired up. Eventually, my car was in need of another minor repair and with that, what had always been a good car, was now viewed as a piece of junk. Thus, on an emotional impulse, without any counsel and without thinking it all the way through, I used my good car as a down payment for a “nice car”. Best of all it was only going to cost me $100 a month. What a deal!!!

Oh what joy filled my soul. I was such a happy camper as I drove that car off the lot and down the highway. It really was a nicer car and I just knew I had made the right decision. Of course this vehicle needed minor repairs, just like my other car, but the cash I always had on hand for repairs now went to pay the car loan. So, I was forced to work extra hours to keep it running, and lost the free time I always had on weekends. The newer car needed to use higher octane gas and that cost me more to drive it. My car insurance went up, the inspection and registration cost more, and the repair bills on this newer vehicle were bigger as well. I realized very quickly that I did not own my car, but it owned me. It took my free time, my finances, my freedom, my weekends and the convenience I always had of going when I wanted to go with extra money in my pocket. I was a prisoner of one emotional decision because I had not waited, calmed down and thought it through. Worst of all, my old car was gone and I could not get it back.

How about you? Has a decision you made changed your life in ways you could not have imagined? Has an action, not thought all the way through, had a negative impact on your life, or the lives of those you love? Did you solve one issue, only to discover that everyone was left struggling with things that were never an issue in the past? Is there less freedom, more expense, the same income, less time, and more frequent inconvenience for you and those around you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the bad news is that you have fallen into  the same emotional decision trap I did. The good news is you don’t have to live there forever. You will have to live with the negative, even painful consequences for now, but one good decision at a time will allow you to climb out of that emotional black hole.

It took me quite a while to save up enough money to get rid of that money sucking car. It took discipline, self-restraint, emotional control, wise counsel and determination to keep my eyes on the goal. That mistake cost me a lot, and it changed my life for the worse. However, I learned from the mess I put my self and my family through, and so can you. I did not look to others to bail me out, and neither should you. I did not get offended when people did not jump at the chance help me every time the mess I made over ran me. Don’t you go there either. Most of all, I did not become negative or critical about the life I had chosen for myself. I embraced the stupid thing I did and never did it again!

Did you catch that?  I owned it, prayed and rode out the storm. I grew up and stopped whining. I took full responsibility for my stupid, poorly thought out decision and the mess it caused me and others. I made things right with those I had selfishly impacted. I slowed down and began to think about what might happen in any given situation. I began to make better decisions in moments of crisis, and one step after another, things slowly got better. It was not an instant success story, but more of a slow, painful climb out of a slippery hole I had dug for myself.

Perhaps this is the year you will begin to think things through as well. If you have made emotionally based, impulsive decisions, no doubt your life is not what you want it to be, and that can really stink. Fortunately, you and those you love, don’t have to stay in that pit of despair forever. If you refuse to change, then your life is what you have made it. Stop complaining and just live with it. However, if you have decided not to be stuck in past mistakes, you can begin today to build a better life, one decision at a time.

Think things through. Don’t let emotions push the decision button in your life. Talk to those who have the kind of life you want, and get your counsel from them. Avoid the “experts” who are ready to show you the way but clearly have not found it for themselves. Slow down and let the dust settle before you make a move. Most of all take it to prayer, and if you are married, be sure your husband or wife is in full agreement. Never forget that your spouse is God’s safety net in every decision to be made! Do these things and next year at this time, life for you could be so much better. Now get out of that pit of emotional decisions, and begin to enjoy 2018 as your best year ever!

When It’s Time

In August 1977, my father turned 72, and I was at the ripe old age of 23. That November we made our traditional hunting trip to Upper Saint Regis Lake, and set up our base camp in my father’s work shop, for our week of hunting. We were hunting on the property around Henry Olmstead’s great log chalet. This was a beautiful, old “Adirondack camp” called Forest Lodge. Dad was the personal guide for Mr. Olmstead,  and his wife Patricia, when they were in camp during the warmer weather. Dad was also the caretaker for the 125 acres of property,  all of the year.

That Fall we hunted as we always did, and each of us was rewarded with a nice buck for the freezer. As always, my father also shot an additional doe the first day, and that was our “camp meat”. This was the fresh meat we feasted on during our entire time in hunting camp. Our yearly hunting week was a wonderful time of stories, roasted venison, early morning hunts and evenings by the wood stove with a hot cup of coffee. This was the stuff of memories that we all carried with us through the rest of our lives.

When this particular week was nearly over, I noticed a change in my father’s countenance. I had never seen anything like it before. It was a look on his face that said something had turned a corner within him, but he was not ready to talk about it. Then it happened on the last day of our hunt. As we headed back to camp, dad and I walked the pine scented trail between Bear Pond and camp in thought-filled silence. There was a light snow falling, and the snow flakes swirl around dad’s red and black, Woolwich cap. It was on this trail that the silence was finally broken by what needed to be said.

Dad looked back over his shoulder at me, and gave a sad smile. At that moment I knew something of importance was about to be spoken. His baritone voice then filled my ears with, “son, I’ve done plenty of killing in my time. My deer hunting days are over”. We paused on the trail as our eyes met, he nodded his head, and then we walked back to camp without saying another word. There was no discussion, no debate and no compromise in his voice. I knew it was a statement of fact, a resolved reality within his heart that would not be changed.

The shock of his words echoed in me, but there was nothing else to be spoken.  In my mind I was thinking, “No, no no…how can this be? My dad, the last of the old-time Adirondack guides, is done hunting? How can I hunt without my father? This is just not right!” However, I respected his decision, and had to honor him for the choice he had made. In the end, I accepted the fact that this was the time for such a thing to happen, and true to form, Dad never hunted again. How fitting that two years later, on the last weekend of hunting season, my father died and went to be with his Savior.

We all have moments in life when we know it’s time. A bridge is crossed, a resolve is made or a decision is finalized within us, and there is no turning back. Those are sobering, solitary moments when time momentarially stops, and life takes on a new direction. When it’s over, things will never be the same. Want an example of what I mean? My two youngest sons enlisted in the Air Force six months apart. When each came home to tell me,  I was thrilled and proud beyond words. I knew it was an answer to many years of prayer. However, when they drove down the driveway for the last time, heading for boot camp, I got choked up and then I wept! Why? I knew it was time for this to happen, and life would never be the same for them or our family.

Such things have to be embraced so we can all grow and move on in life. To falter, and hold on in moments like this, is deadly in so many ways. It’s like sand in the gears of a finely tuned automobile. You can do it, and some will, but the outcome is not going to good for anyone. Directional damage, confusion and unnecessary drama all mix together into a weighty emotional cement when we hold on to that which needs to be let go of. Whether it is a hobby, a relationship, a career choice or a piece of clothing, when it’s time, we must let go, or nothing will move to the next stage of life.

Remembering the past, and cherishing it’s good memories, is a blessing to everyone. This is the foundational base upon which a healthy life is built. It’s how clear, relational and historical continuity is established in everyone. However, when we move beyond happy memories, and hold on to people, practices and things long after the time of letting go, it becomes an anchor to the soul and a blockage to the flow of life as it should be. This becomes a source of bondage to everyone, and a destroyer of personal vision. It is the dream killer in every life.

As we get ready to plunge into a new year, take a moment to evaluate what you are doing, and where you are going. Is this the direction you wanted for your life? If your dreams have been smothered by the past, and you lack clear vision for the future, it is definitely time for you to let some things go. Set time aside this last week of 2017, and ask God to show you what people, places, past experiences and things need to be released. Until you cast off every weight that is holding you back, you will never catch the wind of that which can carry you into your future.

Now is the time to cut away every anchor that you have been holding on to. This is your chance to hoist those sails and catch the fresh wind of a new year as it is beginning to blow. This is the opportunity you have been waiting for, to have a new life and a new vision. It’s time… so go do it, and have a happy new year with the new you!

Following The light

creation handsThe whole world seeks to find peace in these times of conflict, distress and confusion. Some look to jobs, others follow after relationships and others look to finances. However, the only peace that will satisfy the cry which is in every human heart, comes from God. If you keep seeking the peace offered by this world, you will be manipulated by it, disappointed with it, and left empty once you have it. The wise men sought Jesus 2000 years ago by following what they saw in heaven; a light in the darkness of the night. What they found when they found Him, was more than an answer. They found absolute peace for their soul and absolute hope for their future. All this happened just because they refused to stop following the light God gave them.

In case you missed it, the God of creation has given all of us the light we need to make our way to Him. That “Light” came into the world as a baby boy, and was born to a Jewish virgin named Mary. He lived a sinless life and offered Himself freely on the cross as a sacrifices for our sins. When Jesus was born in Bethelehem, God came for all of us. When He died on the cross, God died for all of us. When He rose from the dead, God conquered death, hell and the grave for all of us. If He did all that for us, why not do the one thing He asks of you?

What’s that, you might ask? Give yourself back to Him by embracing what Jesus did to pay for your sins! You are guilty, He was not. Can you believe that truth?  He died on the cross in your place, and paid the price for your sins. Can you believe how much He loves you?  He went into hell and defeated the devil, so you would not have to? Can you believe He rose from the dead to prove He had the victory? Can you believe He freely offers that new, eternal life to you? If you can, then you believe in the real Christmas message, and you understand what Christmas is all about. If you don’t believe, then what is stopping you? Why not give the best gift of all?? Give yourself back to God and be free of sin so you can know His love. Be like the Wise Men of old, and follow the light of truth that is shining in your dark night. If you follow that truth, you will find the One God the Father sent to bring you back to Himself! Then you will most certainly have a very Merry Christmas, and a peace filled life!

“The Track People Of Freedom”


“Many years ago, no one knows for sure just how long ago it was, a master builder built train tracks to connect every corner of his world. He planned it out to the last detail, and built a magnificent train to run on those tracts. It would deliver everything the people would ever need to be happy and healthy. He left a handbook that explained the benefit people would have if they build around the tracks, and the responsibilities they would have, if they were to live there in safety. Last of all, he left it totally up to them to build, or not build their towns, around the track. They had freedom to do as they wished.

At first the people did what they wanted and built their towns far from the tracks. Those communities prospered for a season but soon fell into disrepair and disgraceful, violent behavior. They lied, took advantage of each other, stole and broke every promise they made. In time their own actions caused them to be banished, and soon the towns were no more. The few people who left these communities and survived, had found their way to towns that had been built around the tracks. These towns had found the builders handbook and decided to follow its instructions. All of the towns grew and the people prospered and raised families that were filled with joy and purpose. The closer they followed the instructions in the handbook, the more benefit they got from living around the tracks. Life was good, and all the people were healthy and happy.

Over time, a very small portion of the people decided certain instructions in the builder’s handbook were not for them. They used their freedom to do whatever their emotions led them to do. So, one fine day they chose to ignore a very important part of the handbook. They began to build their homes on the train tracks. Even though there were instructions against that deadly practice, in defiance to the handbook, they did so any way. Everyone in town knew when the train came through all the track people would die. However, no matter how strongly they warned them, the track people continued to build there anyway, and began to violently oppose anyone who tried to stop them.

At first the citizens of the town had them arrested for this foolish, and deadly behavior. It violated the laws that were passed, based on the builder’s handbook, and the people of town were deeply concerned for the safety of the track people. Everyone, but the track people, became happy as the laws were inforced and this restored order for a time. However, over the years, the track people stubbornly resisted the laws and built on the tracks in secret. They became more and more angry with the people in town as their people on the tracks continued to die. No matter what evidence the town presented to show that living on the tracks was a deadly lifestyle, the track people refused to change. Sadly, over time, the pain they were experiencing and the rejection they felt from everyone made them reject the handbook even more.

Eventually the track people were confident they had come up with a solution. They got into positions of authority and passed laws based on a handbook of their own making. These laws gave them the right to not only build on the tracks, but they could marry on the tracks as well. When these new laws were passed, they shook their fists at the town in defiance and clapped their hands and rejoiced over what they had accomplished. It was a great victory for the track people because they had succeeded in getting everything their own way. Yet, the trains kept coming….. and everyone who lived on the tracks and married on the tracks died.

The endless self-inflicted tragedy brought emotional distress, disease and rejection to all the track people, and soon they decided something had to be done. They all agreed that the problem was very clear, and it certainly was not their decision to defy the handbook and live on the tracks. No… it was the train! Get rid of the train and there would be no need for a handbook, and the tracks would be safe. If they got everyone to agreed that the problem was the train, the problem could be solved! Anyone who disagreed was silenced and branded as a bigot, a track-a-phobic and a hater of freedom. Thus, the track people tried to overwhelm all opposition, silence any voice of reason and mock anyone who dared to quote anything from the builders handbook. It seemed as if they had won.

The problem in all this was much bigger than the track people could imagine. The train was built to run according to the prefect plan of the master builder, and it would NEVER stop. It would run it’s appointed rails, and continue to benefit and bless the entire world as it was designed to do. This also meant it would continue to plow through, and bring total destruction to anyone who stubbornly chose to live on the tracks. The sad truth is, it could have benefitted the track people if they had simply obey the handbook, and gotten off the tracks. Since they had decided that would not happen, the unnecessary and tragic end of all the track people would eventually come to pass.”

Does this story sound familiar to you? Freedom has never been the ability to do what you want. Freedom is the ability to do what is right! Now the question must be asked, “How does anyone know what is right”? The answer to that is found in one place, the builder’s handbook, the Bible. If you have never read it, now might be a good time to start.  A day is coming when we will all be held accountable for the truths that are in it. Will you be ready for that day? If you want more info feel free to email me at Now go have yourself a great day……… and get off the tracks! 🙂

When December Comes


     December is a month of change, wonder and nostalgia. It brings to a final conclusion the Fall season, as Thanksgiving has just passed, and hunting season is basically over. This last month of the year ushers in Christmas, the new year and all that the cold days of winter have yet to unleash. It is more than just another month on the calendar. When December comes to the northeast, it brings with it the stuff of warm childhood memories and the reality of a long, snow-filled winter. How you see it depends on how you see life. For the young and the young at heart, it is a time of dreams come true in a winter wonderland. For everyone else, it is a time of preparing to go on hold until the Spring thaw arrives. The point being made here is quite simple, life is what you make it.
     My father and mother were believers in making life good, and they instilled that value in our family. We never had much in material wealth, but we were wealthy in the things that mattered most. Love, food on the table, a clean, warm home and consistent fair discipline were in great abundance. Since my parents had both lived through the great depression of 1929, they knew what it was to go without. I heard the stories of what things were like in those days, and I marveled at how resourceful they were with the little they had. What really amazed me was that I never heard them complain about it, not once. They took great pride in the fact that their struggle for survival was met with personal strength and the courageous conviction needed to make the best of what they had on hand.
     No one ever sat back and expected or wanted the government to bail them out. People did what was necessary to make ends meet, and they helped each other when things got tough. It was not just a way of living for everyone, it was a way of staying alive. If you didn’t work together, you didn’t survive, and everyone understood the consequences. My grandmother, Louisa Rossi, was a great example of this. Over the years, my mother told me stories of how grandpa and grandma Rossi passed this lifestyle down to her and others. Especially during holiday time, when December came, they brought hope to the hopeless in what could have been the start of a very difficult winter.
     My grandfather, Alexander Rossi, was a master blacksmith in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the dark days of the depression. He always made a good salary even when others in their apartment building in Flatbush, NY had lost their jobs. Many of those people worked temporary jobs for the wealthy, stood hours in bread lines or dug through the garbage behind restaurants just to have one meal a day. To help these unfortunate ones, grandma Rossi made it a point of cooking extra, and I mean a lot of extra, every night. She knew some in their building had eaten little that day, so just before dinner she would take a walk and invite families to join them for the evening meal. It was not uncommon for 25 or 30 people to share God’s bounty and blessing around my grandparent’s dining room table.
     To spare the guests from feeling embarrassed, grandma would ask each family to bring some minor item that was “needed” to complete the meal. A loaf of bread, a few apples, a bottle of wine or even a jug of water were welcomed additions to any meal. The time spent together praying over the meal, sharing recipes and telling stories, enriched everyone. Such kind-hearted generosity deeply impacted the lives of all who shared those meals. It kept families together during the hard months, and encouraged them to hold on for the better days to come. No one knows how many thousands of dollars grandma Rossi spent over the years, but her desire to alleviate suffering and bless all she could, made it a worthwhile, eternal investment. She knew that a little kindness, food and time was all you needed to make someone feel that life was worth living.
     Years ago, in Saranac Lake, NY, I learned a very hard lessons along these lines as I was on my way to teach school one day. It was a bitter cold January day when I stopped at a traffic light and saw a ragged man crossing the street in front of me. He had cardboard wrapped around his shoes to keep the snow out, torn gloves on his hands and wore a dirt stained overcoat. In my heart I felt God wanted me to stop and buy the man a hot breakfast. To do so would have made me late for work so I ignored the clear inner voice and drove on. By the time I arrived at work I was deeply convicted and promised God I would look for that person the next day and stop to buy him food. I never saw the man again. What I did see was the story of a homeless man who had been found frozen to death a few days later. Had I stopped that story may have ended very differently.
     What about you? When December comes, what acts of kindness will you pass on? Perhaps your days will be filled with stress and frustration of not have more to give those who already have more than they can use. My hope is that you will look beyond your self interests and seek to help and bless those who have honest needs to be met. Think of the treasured lessons to be learned around a table of food that is filled with those who have no family, the lonely or the singles who are by themselves this holiday season. Consider the eternal impact you could have by opening up your life and sharing your table with those who are less fortunate.
Who knows, by slowing down and showing compassion and kindness, you might touch someone God has destined to change the world. It could change a life, and that life might be yours!