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THE OLD CHURCH BELL

Martha lived in a small, picturesque, village with her young daughter Mary.  Her neat and tidy cottage was just a short distance from the parish church, a fine looking building of which the villagers were very proud.  The church was well known for it’s beautiful melodic bell housed within a grand tower however the bell had developed a crack earlier in the year and had been transported down to London to be repaired.  Martha was well known and respected in the village.  She was on many commities and was the main person responsible for organising the fundraising to pay for the bell’s repair.  She also done a lot in the community.

As Martha was settling her daughter Mary for bed Mary turned to her mother and said that while she was praying Jesus had spoken to her and said that he would be paying Martha a visit tomorrow.  Martha looked at Mary puzzled.

“Did he say what time he would call?”

“No” replied Mary; “He just said tomorrow.”

Mary settled for bed leaving her mother pondering over the news.  The church were holding a Christmas Fare the next day to raise much needed funds and Martha and Mary were looking forward to going and supporting them but the news that the Lord was going to pay her a visit filled her mind.  As she lay in bed Martha pondered over what her daughter had said…

“The Lord was going to pay her a visit.”

“Why visit me?” she pondered.

As she lay in bed she thought of all the committees she was on and all the good work she does through the church and suddenly she realised:

“Of course The Lord will visit me!” she said. “There is no one else in the village so worthy of his visit. It is obvious he would choose to visit me!”

Morning broke over the sleeping village and Martha woke early.  She looked out of her window at the old church.

“What a beautiful view for The Lord” she thought.  “It is such a shame the old bell is away being repaired”.

Martha made herself busy making a start cleaning her cottage ready for her expected visitor.  Then after she had made breakfast she telephoned all her friends:

“Sorry I won’t be able to see you at the Church Fare this afternoon” she said. “I am expecting an important visitor… The Lord is calling round to see me!” she explained with pride.

“We will miss you” they all said.

Martha looked at her daughter Mary; she looked tired and the Vicar’s wife had agreed to collect Mary and walk her to the Church Fare that afternoon so Martha told Mary to go back to sleep again so she would be fresh and awake for when the Vicar’s wife called round.

While Mary was sleeping she started cleaning and tidying her house with great enthusiasm.

An hour later she heard the church bell ring.

“That’s absolutely perfect” she said “Now the Lord can hear our beautiful bell and well as see our beautiful church from my window.  She looked at the clock and noticed it was exactly one o’clock.

“Not only have they reinstalled the church bell but it has rung exactly on time. Absolutely perfect! She exclaimed”

Suddenly the kitchen door flung open and Mary came running in crying.  Martha looked down at her daughter. She looked terrified.

“I have had a nasty dream” said Mary in a trembling, terrified voice.

“Please give me a cuddle and tell me you love me.” Mary pleaded.

“Don’t be so silly” said Martha. “There is nothing to be afraid of.  Girls of your age shouldn’t be frightened by nightmares.  Go back to your room and start getting ready as the Vicars wife will be calling round to collect you soon!”

“Please give me a hug… I am frightened!” said Mary.

“No!” said Martha getting annoyed with her daughter.  “I don’t have time for that.  I have to prepare for The Lord’s visit!”

Mary slowly went back to her room and got dressed.  Half an hour later the Vicar’s wife called and walked Mary to the Church Fete.

Now that Martha was on her own she once again started tiding her cottage.  As she was polishing a silver candlestick she heard the old church bell ring once more. “Time seems to be passing so quickly” she thought.

Just as she put the candlestick down there was a knock at the door.  Martha looked out of the window and noticed the old gentleman across the road was standing outside.  She knew he didn’t have much money, and was not in the best of health, but it was the fact that he always wore such old tatty clothes which worried her.  What if The Lord comes and see’s such a untidy looking man outside her house?  What will the Lord think?  Martha decided she must get rid of this gentleman as quickly as possible.  She opened the door and put on her smile.

“My brother is coming this afternoon and I have broken my chair” the gentleman said. “Could I please borrow one of your chair’s for him to sit on as he will have travelled such a long way and is not in the best of health and cannot stand for long”.

“I am sorry” said Martha “But I have an important visitor calling myself this afternoon!” “Can’t your brother sit on an old upturned bucket or something!”

“I am sorry but I have so much preparation to do. Goodbye!” she exclaimed as she shut the door in the old gentleman’s face.

Martha finished off cleaning the silver and got out the vacuum cleaner.  She just finished vacumming when she heard the old church bell ring once more.

“It’s getting late and there is still so much preparation to do” she thought to herself.

Suddenly the phone rang.

“Oh no! Not another interruption!” she exclaimed.

As she picked up the phone she could hear an old lady crying.  Martha’s heart sunk.  She recognised the voice immediately.  It was an elderly widow from the church.  Her husband had died almost exactly a year ago and she often felt very lonely.

 “I am sorry” said Martha sharply “I don’t have time for you today. The Lord is calling round this afternoon and I must prepare for his visit!  Ring me back tomorrow and I will help you then!”

“Please talk to me.” The elderly widow pleaded. “I am feeling so lonely”.
“Ring back tomorrow!” repeated Martha as she slammed down the phone.
Martha finished tidying her house and sat down waiting for the Lord to arrive.

But he didn’t come.  She was so looking forward to showing him around her neat and tidy house and telling him about all the good things she has done through all committees she is on.  But still he didn’t come.

After waiting for almost an hour she heard someone ring the doorbell and she excitedly opened it expecting to see Jesus.  Instead she saw the Vicar’s wife.  The Vicar’s wife looked at Martha puzzled.

“Oh” she said taken slightly aback.  “We weren’t expecting you to be here”.

“Why ever not?” said Martha.  “I have been here all day preparing for The Lord’s visit!”

“But mummy” said Mary “We met Jesus as we came here and he said he rang the bell three times but couldn’t get any response.  We thought you must have gone out”.

That’s strange thought Martha.  “I never heard the doorbell ring!”

She pushed the button to test it and a loud ding dong echoed through the hall.  Her puzzled thoughts were however interrupted by the Vicar’s wife.

“By the way Martha we had great news!  We had a call from London this afternoon.  They have repaired the old church bell and will be transporting it back to our village next week.  It has been so quiet this past month without it. We are all looking forward to hearing it ring again.”

With shame Martha suddenly thought of her daughter’s words “He rang three times and got no response” and realised the three opportunities she had missed to see him that day.

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It was sunrise at a quiet seaside village.  The birds had just woken up and were filling the peaceful air with their morning song.  Everything was so tranquil… a sharp contrast to the violent storm that raged the previous night.  The only sign of the storm left behind were hundreds of starfish that had been washed up on the shore.  The starfish, out of water, were powerless to move and as the warm sun started to rise so their slow death became inevitable.

Silhouetted against the glorious sunrise an old man hobbled along.  He had been up since dawn.  He shuffled a few paces with his walking stick, bent down, picked up a starfish and threw it into the sea.  Then shuffled a few more paces, stopped down and picked up another starfish and also threw that back into the sea.

A group of teenagers walking along the beach saw the old man and his impossible task.  “Look at that old fool” they said amongst themselves “How can he ever hope to save all those hundreds of starfish!”.  They started jeering at the old man and making fun at him and as the old man bent down to pick up yet another starfish one of the teenagers went up to him and shouted “Why waste your time in such a pointless task you stupid old man? What difference will throwing that one starfish back into the sea make?”  The old man looked the teenager in the eye and said quietly “It will make all the difference in the world to this one!”

Are you a starfish collector?

Being able to touch other people’s lives, to help the helpless, and make a difference in the world is a precious gift.  The starfish in the old man’s hand was powerless on it’s own; it needed the old man’s help to survive.  Perhaps we can only help just one or two people in this world… but to them we are a gift beyond price.

Sometimes we can all be starfish.  Events can happen in our lives over which we have no control.  It is then we often need the helping hand of someone else.  Are you willing to be that helping hand when needed?

New Beginnings

Butterfly

“Sometimes in life what appears to be an end is really a new beginning”

Life is full of surprises.  Sometimes joyful surprises, but occasionally devastating ones.  We can be walking down stairs at work, trip, then suddenly, in an instant, without warning, our lives are changed forever when we awake in a hospital to be told we have broken our spine and will be paralysed for life.  We can have an uncomfortable pain in our stomach for a few days, visit the doctor, and after a few short tests be told he suspects we have terminal cancer and have only a few months to live.  We can be standing bored out of our minds in a supermarket checkout queue then our mobile phone rings and our life is shattered in an instant when we hear that our lifetime partner has been killed in a motor accident on the way home from work.  We can pop out to the local shop for a bottle of milk then walking home be passed by three or four fire trucks and, as we walk round the corner, suddenly realise the house we left a few minutes ago is now a burnt out shell and all our possessions have been destroyed forever.

Not all surprises in life are welcome.  Our lives can all be changed in an instant, unexpected and without warning.  Suddenly we can feel our life has ended.  We can see no future; no purpose in life.  We can see no purpose in continuing.  We shake our fist violently at good with anger and shout WHY ME?  WHY ME!!

“Sometimes in life what appears to be an end is really a new beginning”

Overcome with frustration and anger we can see nothing but darkness.  Yet, in the following days we come to a crossroads.  We are faced with a choice.  Will you look on your misfortune as excuse to remain angry and bitter as you sink deeper into resentment and hatred towards the world for the rest of your life… or will you realise you may not be able to change your circumstances but you can learn to control your outlook.  Will you see your misfortune as your end, or the opportunity for a new beginning?  When you enter a room will all your friends avoid you as they are fed up with your moaning, negative attitude… or will you be an inspiration to others who can see what you have gone through and wish they could share your positive and joyful new outlook on life?

Welcome to my treasure chest of inspirational and motivational thoughts.  Precious gems shining hope and light into this modern dark and depressing world.  I hope that these priceless gems will fill your heart with inspiration just as they did mine when I discovered them.