Category Archives: Intro

God is Good!

We often hear the phrase – God is good. It is usually followed up – All the time. Then, we hear it said a different way – All the time, God is good. But what does that mean?

Too often, we have these cliches, that may be spoken with the best of intentions, but are they – spoken with any intention at all? I say this because it is so easy to say simple phrases like – I’m good or I love you or something else and they become statements that are said without meaning or real intention. In fact, in those moments, they can actually be a lie.

But when we use God’s name this way, what are we really saying? Are we trying to tell our friends, spouse or even the world that we believe that God is indeed good. Heck, in todays economy of language and word usage – what does the word good even mean? I mean when someone asks you how you are doing, what is your typical response?

“I’m good!” or “All good!”

But is that the truth? I would venture a guess that most of the time we use that phrase, it is really saying – I don’t really want to talk about. So, when a word like “good” is caught up in that kind of usage and it has become so common that it has become meaningless, how does this reflect on our statement – “God is good”?

Here is something to consider – if, in the course of our normal conversations, we have ascribed no value to a word, like good, its usage can be described as “vain” or useless, pointless – producing no result. Wouldn’t that lead us to conclude that we may be taking the Lord’s name in vain?

Or let’s go one step further. If we say that we are Christian and yet, we do not act in accordance with Christ, are we not taking His name in vain there too?

My goal here is not to condemn but to get us thinking and maybe have us to change the way we use certain phrases. Maybe we stop and think and then intentionally say – God is good, oh so good. He has done for me, what I cannot do for myself. I realize that it may be difficult to get that out in every situation. But if we are thinking that, it therefore becomes the intention of the statement. I believe that people can tell the difference but more importantly – God knows our hearts and our intention.

One last thing – God truly is good and He makes our lives matter by His goodness, love and empowering Spirit. He calls us His Masterpiece, even when we feel like we are nothing but a mess. He has a mission for us, even when we feel lost, with no purpose. Your life matters – no matter what, no matter where you are and no matter how many mistakes you have made. God is just that good!

If you get a chance, check out my books – Your Life Matters, The Toolkit To Change Your World and Transformed – A Memoir of a Life Changed By God. Both are available on Amazon or at http://www.yourlifematterstoday.com

Also, check out the new radio show/podcast on VoiceAmerica beginning 5/17/22 at 9am called – Your Life Matters Today by Dr. Cliff Robertson, Jr. My first guest is my long-time friend – Cesar Cantu, the current Executive Director of The Warriors Refuge.

God Bless You!

Dr Cliff

Love Yourself!

Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, as ourselves. Great! But how do we do that, when we do not first love ourselves? And for that matter… how do we love ourselves? Is it about a pampered day at a spa?

No – unless of course you plan to love those around you that way, and you believe that is what Jesus had in mind.

I believe we love ourselves by taking care of our minds, bodies and souls. Beginning with the soul – we give our hearts, our faith, to Jesus. We feed that soul with His word. We feed our soul with good music that moves us to a closer relationship with Him. We are involved in church – His body. We talk with Him – daily. We cherish the gifts from God – our spouse, children… all of it.

Loving our bodies is easy to define, but hard to do. We eat better and exercise – this is love. We go to the doctor for check ups – this is love. There is more here but that’s the basics.

Loving our minds can be a bit tricky. The main ways we love our minds is through positive mental health and controlling the things we allow into our heads. Mental health includes the depression and anxiety we deal with. The grief that we often ignore due to busyness. The need to speak to a professional because it is overwhelming. Unpacking the past – the tragedies and neglect, the hurts and the hang ups. All of it. The truth is that unless we deal with it, one day it will deal with us. And how can we love someone else, who is going through the valley of the shadow of death, when we refuse to deal with our own?

Finally, we love our minds by controlling the inputs. The world has a message for you that may not be healthy for your mind to hear. They could be selling you things that are a lie. Social media can be good and can be bad. Too much of it has been shown to be bad for our mental health. They portray images of perfect families, on perfect vacations and leave out the pain and challenges – they leave out “the rest of the story.” I recommend taking a social media fast. Make it a week, minimum. See how you feel about it at the end of the week.

When we do these things- and for the record, this is not a comprehensive list – we will be loving ourselves. Now- go love your neighbor as you have loved yourself.

#yourlifematters

God bless you!

Dr Cliff

Good Friday? What exactly is so good about it?

When I hear the word “good”, I think of things that bring a smile, or something that is positive in my life or the world. I think of a light rain that waters the grass. I think of a beautiful sunrise or sunset. I think of the embrace of my wife and her kisses. I think of how God describes His creation…

It is difficult for my human brain to understand how a day filled with severe, disfiguring pain can be good. Two beams of wood, three large spikes, and a long walk to Golgotha… can’t be good, right? To think of these spikes, driven into the hands and feet of Jesus Christ as he is nailed to the cross…

To imagine him placed on this cross, where He struggled to breathe, until He breathed His last… All of this while He is forgiving His executors, and inviting the one next to Him to join Him in paradise… how can we describe this as anything but horrific and tragic?

And yet… it was good.

This is Friday and all appears to be lost… but Sunday’s coming… to use all the pain and suffering for the good.

Jesus was placed in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. Along with Nicodemus, they wrapped Jesus’s body in burial cloth. They rolled a big stone over the front of the tomb, and walked away… Their thoughts are not recorded but can you imagine what they were thinking? Burying someone who had taught and performed miracles before them…

Guards were placed outside the tomb for fear that someone might come and take the body.

His disciples hid for fear that His fate would be their own. Women wept and planned to come back to the tomb and give His body the traditional burial treatments.

In their grief, everyone thought it was over… But God…

In God’s economy, the word “good” is not used often. The first time it is used was when God described His creation. So if we take that meaning and apply it to this day of events, we can see He is calling it Creation Level Good! What He is saying is that what has happened on Friday is about to change the world! And change the world in a way that is beyond anyone’s capacity to comprehend.

You see, what appears to be over and impossible… does not necessarily make it so. With God… all things are possible.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story…

Dr. Cliff

#YourLifeMatters

Who Do You Say You Are?

Can I get an amen?

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21

When we think about ourselves, who do we say we are? What are our thoughts about self? I know that when I say those words, my initial thoughts are – I don’t think about me. But is that true?

It is easy to run ourselves down, but why? When we look at a concept called Social Comparison Theory, it tells us that we are often comparing ourselves with others. In the age of social media and digital air-brushing, the impact is often fairly negative.

But the truth is that this isn’t new. The battle to keep up with our neighbors or peers is an age old conundrum . The problem with it is that you can never win. The comparison cycle goes on and on and if we continue down that path long enough, we can destroy ourselves – mentally, emotionally and financially.

What if we stepped off the comparison treadmill and looked at things from a different paradigm?

When Leonardo DaVinci looked at a block of granite, he saw an image that was present beneath the surface before he hit it with the first strike of the chisel. The Creator can always see the end from the beginning because He has a plan.

The same is true for you. Your Creator, God Almighty, can see who you are and what you are meant to be, even if no one else can. He call us “chosen”, “a child of the king”, “saved”, “forgiven” and a “masterpiece”.

Let’s redirect our minds and hearts to hear what our Creator is saying…

We can do this by seeking Him in His word. Devotionals are good sources for this. I use a free one called – Our Daily Bread. I read it almost every morning as part of my daily routine. It fills me with His word and some stories that help me to apply it to my life.

Also, you might consider my new book – Your Life Matters. I talk about this subject at length and I think you may find some encouragement there as well. It’s available here on this website or you can go to Amazon and look up the title plus my name –

Dr Cliff

God Bless You!

Continue reading Who Do You Say You Are?

Your Life Matters – Book Excerpt -Some people you might know…

In this book, I include some stories about people you might know or may come to know after you read this book. I hope these stories inspire you!

A lady named Sonya

I’d like to tell you a story about a woman who you might not have heard about. She grew up poor, one of twenty-four children, and a minority in Detroit.

She married at thirteen to escape problems at home and it didn’t end well. Her husband was an alcoholic and a bigamist, and he left her with two young boys and no support.

She worked two and three jobs at a time to make ends meet. With no formal education, she cleaned floors, homes, and bathrooms—whatever work she could find.

That was a hard life already. Add the responsibility of two young boys, who would often go unsupervised for hours at a time, in tough neighborhoods. This created a nearly hopeless situation. She was stern with them and made them study and read. They couldn’t turn on the TV until after all their homework was complete.

During that time, she was struck with clinical depression.

Instead of allowing her challenges with depression to drag her and her boys down, she got the help she needed. Family members took care of the boys for a couple of months until she came back home.

She could have let that stigma of mental illness drag her down and keep her there, but she didn’t. She went back to work and instilled the same work ethic and overcoming spirit into her boys. This mom had her sons read books that opened their minds and encouraged them to study hard. She cared about them and worked to make a difference in their lives every day. She did the very best she could.

Her life mattered because she didn’t give up, even when she had to be so tired – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And yet, each day she got up and did all she could one more day. Isn’t that what we are all called to do?

Her story of struggle isn’t unique. Her uncommon courage is. She defied the odds and not only survived but thrived – and so did her boys.

One son worked hard and earned excellent grades. He became a mechanical engineer.

The other son wanted to become a doctor. A brain surgeon, better known as a neurosurgeon. That son earned his Pre-Med degree from Yale and went to the University of Michigan for medical school.

He has now written best-selling books. A movie has been made about his life. He has run for President of the United States and was appointed to be the 17th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson.

His mother’s name was Sonya Carson, and her life mattered.

At any point in her life, she could have given up. Many others have given up, but not Ms. Carson. People throw up their hands every day, and walk away from families, abandoning children. They just quit on life. But not her.

When she battled clinical depression while working three jobs, she might have asked, “Is this all there is?”

But she didn’t let that stop her. I believe her faith allowed her to see, that even during times of great struggles, there was still hope.  

That’s how Sonya Carson lived her life. She didn’t know how her boys were going to turn out but she was determined to give them all she had.

She was changing the world by loving her sons.

Each day that she invested in those boys yielded a change in the world for the better.

Her story could be your story too. We each make an impact on this world.

Each day matters. It is a gift.

#YourLifeMatters.

Robin Sharma

When I look at people who have unusual last names, I often wonder about where they might be from and how long ago their family immigrated. Then I wonder about their circumstances in the country they left, and what led them to leave. Perhaps they searched for something better but found new and different challenges, including language barriers.

Robin’s family immigrated from India to Canada in search of a better life. Robin grew up in a small town, Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, Canada, and wanted to be an attorney. He pictured himself arguing important cases before a jury and fighting for justice.

His parents encouraged him to follow his dreams. He received his law degree and went to work for the Nova Scotia Supreme Court and later for the government of Canada, as a staff litigation attorney.

Even though he achieved his dream, he felt empty. He knew there had to be more to life than grinding through the legal briefs and depositions each day. He wanted to write. He felt it as a calling. He wanted his writing to inspire others to have their best life, which he also believed he would find for himself, by writing.

His mother edited his first book, Megaliving: 30 Days to a Perfect Life. Robin self-published it through a local Kinkos. He copied, printed, and bound a hundred copies of his book.

The book sold thirty copies, twenty-eight of which were bought by his own family. Robin did not give up.

Two years later he wrote his second book and self-published it as well, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. While this book was initially self-published, Harper Collins picked it up. It is now an international best-seller, having sold millions of copies in many different languages.

His mission with this book was to walk through his struggles on the pages, coming to a place of inner peace and success defined by his terms and not that of the world. He realized his success by helping others achieve success and peace in their lives.

In this pursuit, Robin has created a life that has made a difference in the world that is beyond quantification. He has gone from selling a few books out of the trunk of his car to working with national leaders and CEOs of some of the largest companies in the world.

What is interesting about Robin Sharma’s story is not his greatness on the stage or the publishing and corporate worlds. It’s how he cares for the people around him.

The other day I listened to one of his coaching sessions. Yes, I subscribe to his coaching program. I was struck by him sharing that in the middle of his busy day, he turned his car around, got out, and helped a homeless man get to a safe place. He gave him warm clothes and enough money to buy something to eat.

You don’t see many people in the corporate power circuit doing that. but Robin is different. He then encouraged each of us, to open our eyes to the challenges of the people around us. We could spend a few minutes and a couple of dollars to make a difference in someone’s life.

I mentioned in a previous chapter that he routinely buys a bottle of wine at a restaurant. He only takes one big glass of it and then gives the remaining portion of the bottle, to the kitchen staff for their wonderful work.

This has inspired others to do the same. He has also inspired some of those he has helped, to change their lives and begin to pursue their dreams. I learned from Robin that when you take the time to care for those around you, you are making the world a better place, one kind act at a time.

Erin and Ben Napier

Many have heard of Erin and Ben Napier from the hit HGTV show, Hometown. Erin posted on Instagram while they were in the process of renovating their 1925 Craftsman cottage dream home on a budget.

But this isn’t about stardom and how you get there. It’s about how we matter. What they did in their hometown of Laurel, Mississippi, changed the world for many people in that town. Laurel, not that many years ago was pretty rundown, like many small towns in America today. Locals had moved out, industries relocated, and the town was withering on the vine.

Ben and Erin, along with several friends and relatives decided they were going to do something about it and they did. Taking on one house or building at a time, they transformed much of their town into something pretty special. What’s even more extraordinary is how the changes they started have cascaded into an economic boom for the whole town.

My wife and I traveled there recently, and we were blown away to see it all. We were there in the middle of the week and all of the restaurants were busy, some with waiting lines outside. The shops were busy. The main street was shining like a new dime. A lot of work was still in progress, but you could see that tremendous change had taken place and it was only growing. It was inspiring, to say the least.

A couple of things to note here, as the Ben & Erin company name grew, they kept as much of their product and order fulfillment local as possible. They employ over fifty locals, not including film and production crews from HGTV. They’ve created good jobs for people, providing a boost to the local economy and the economic base of the area.

If they had farmed it out overseas, it would have helped their pocketbooks but not helped the community. This people over profit mentality tells me that these people are special. They would rather make less and impact more.

This also tells me they value people. You and me. I also see it in the homes they choose to renovate and show on TV. It’s most often the affordable home that they are working on and not the super expensive. Now don’t get me wrong, once or twice a season, you will see a higher-end home thrown in there but even then, it is still not extravagant.

I am not here to make Ben and Erin heroes. I’m saying the lives of the people in Laurel and the surrounding areas matter to them. They do a lot for the people of this area. They give. This is a testament to me of what one couple can do if they care for others in a real, tangible way.

I recently read an article about one of the houses that they renovated on their show. The couple who lived there are moving away as part of a work advancement and the house is for sale. The realtor who has the home listed told the reporter that he gets calls nearly every day from people looking to move there from all over the country because they want to be a part of what is going on in Laurel, MS.

I wonder how you and I might do this where we are today? I wonder if we helped a neighbor or got involved in our local town revitalization efforts what difference could it make. How many people it could lift? We would tell them “Your Life Matters” without ever saying the words, just showing them by our actions. I think this might just change the world.

Tony Robbins

His life started in a pretty tough environment with an abusive, even violent home life. When his mom left her husband, Tony’s life got better.

She remarried and the new husband adopted Tony as his son. They didn’t make a lot of money. Tony worked as a night janitor while he was in school so that they could pay for food and electricity. When he turned eighteen, he left home but stayed at the same job. His work skills didn’t allow for much else.

Then he met someone who recommended this self-improvement workshop by a guy named Jim Rhone. It cost around $50.00 to attend. Tony managed to scrape up the money and went.

It changed his life.

He went on to promote Jim Rhone conferences and Jim took Tony under his wing, mentoring him. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tony Robbins became wildly successful, but I don’t want to focus on that. I want to look at someone who started with nothing, became something, and now spends most of his time working to help others. Too many times, we only focus on the “overnight success” part of the story. A person got a break that we didn’t get.

When the truth is, Tony cleaned toilets for a living to eat until his breakthrough came. He worked hard and did the thankless work that many in America do as well. He did not allow his circumstances to dictate who he was or what his potential could be. He didn’t allow his socio-economic status to determine his value or his future.

Now fast forward forty years, Tony is very successful. Yet, to me, what makes him worth writing about, is not the money he has made or the businesses he has built, but how much he has given to help those in most dire need.

As his career took off, he began The Tony Robbins Foundation to help youth in crisis, the homeless, the hungry, the elderly, and those in prison. In 2014 he donated the proceeds of his books, Money, Master the Game, and Unshakable, to Feeding America.

Above and beyond the book royalties, he donated more money to the charity out of his pocket. In addition, Tony works with an organization called Spring Health to provide much-needed clean drinking water to rural parts of India. He is also involved with a non-profit called, Operation Underground Railroad, which is focused on ending human trafficking. His work is not just changing lives but saving lives.

I find these missions incredible. But in all of this, what you don’t see is that behind the scenes, even from his earliest days, Tony focused on helping those that couldn’t help themselves. When someone was in need, and he could help, he helped. His life mattered to many, even before he had what the world would call “wealth.” After he obtained wealth, he continued his mission of helping those who were in dire need.

While that is remarkable, I also see that he often gave when he was at his lowest, either financially or emotionally. Like most people, he battled with depression at times. He discovered that by helping others, his mental health improved.

Isn’t it funny that our greatest challenges can lead us to a place of healing, as we turn to help others? This just seems to round out the message that our lives—wherever we are—matter.

We don’t have to be a Tony Robbins to change the world. We can do it from wherever we are, one person at a time. In fact, we are probably already doing it and don’t even realize it.

Joyce Meyers

What would you think if I told you about someone who grew up in an abusive home where she was sexually molested from the age of five until she left her house upon graduation from high school? How do you think her story turned out?

What if I were to tell you that this young lady, to escape the sexual abuse, moved out and married the first guy who showed any interest in her? This part-time used car salesman convinced his new bride to steal from the company she worked from so that they could go on vacations to California.

Sounds like a woman on a fast track to prison, right? Add to that, they frequented bars and drank heavily. The husband, during all of his free time, cheated on his wife.

After five years of this, she had caught him one too many times. She walked out and they divorced.

She knew she needed a different life and went to church. As she became involved, she ended up teaching a women’s Bible study. She met a man at church, and they dated for a year or so before they married.

Her life headed in a new direction. Her Bible study grew popular, and after a few years, she became the associate pastor of the growing church. She was asked to do a daily fifteen-minute inspirational radio spot.

Letters and notes came from people who commented on how her message and teaching was exactly what they had needed to hear at that moment. Some wrote from broken homes and broken marriages. Others were writing from the brink of suicide and sharing that her messages had saved their lives.

She eventually started an independent ministry with the radio program and it went to radio stations all over that part of the country. When that happened, she stepped down from the church to focus on this full-time ministry. She sold tapes of her messages at different churches where she spoke and wrote a book that became popular.

One day her husband commented, “You should start a TV program. I bet that would help a lot of people.”

WGN in Chicago picked up her show, Enjoying Everyday Living, with Joyce Meyers.

She went from someone who suffered abuse as a child for a very long time, to someone traveling and ministering around the globe. Her books have sold millions of copies. Her fans will tell you that her message is relatable and personal. Some mention that her stories of abuse, ugly marriage, and then total transformation by Christ, have helped them through some of the toughest times in their lives, in some cases, literally saving their lives.

This is more than a rags to riches story. Her story is to inspire those who are going through really tough times right now. You may be thinking that there is no hope. You may believe that the things you have done, are beyond redemption.

You would be wrong.

You may be thinking you don’t know where to begin. Well, here are some ideas.

Remember my story about going to Wal-Mart and buying a plant or flowers for someone, anyone? What did Joyce do that turned her life around?

She got involved with something that lifted her and inspired her to give to others. She didn’t know she was going to end up where she is today, but knowing she needed something different, she took that step of faith to a new place—a positive step that changed everything about her life.

It could have the same result for you. Get involved with a cause, maybe several. Go back to school. Find a church. Do something positive and affirming and see where it leads you. Make sure you are giving to those around you as you go, When you do that, you’re planting seeds for your future.

You do not know when or where the harvest will come, but rest assured it will come and it will be life-changing for you and all who know you, not to mention all of those that you gave to along the way.

This is the last excerpt from the book that I will share… unless you tell me you want more here. I believe that if you are looking to change your life – change your world, this book can help. But the most important ingredient in making a change is you – you deciding that today, I want more; today I am going to believe; today I am going to live; today I am going to trust the voice of God in my life that says – I am His Masterpiece!

Dr Cliff Robertson Jr

Howdy Ya’ll

I have been posting lots of excerpts from the book – Your Life Matters- and many of you have read and commented on the various social media posts where it has been shared. I want you to know that I appreciate your kind words and positive feedback.

Writing sometimes comes easy and, at other times, can be difficult. I used to dread the editing part, but now I see it as part of the process that must be embraced. I even have a new tool – grammerly.com – that helps along the way.

I am currently working on my next manuscript – Simple Faith. It will be followed by Under New Management and Abide. These are books that will help, I hope, people who struggle with their faith and help with living the Christian Life.

Up to recently, I have been swamped running an organization called The Warriors Refuge. It is a veteran’s homeless shelter, counseling center, and vocational training facility. Stepping down as Executive Director to focus on my writing and speaking ministry is a massive act of faith. I have to tell you that there are times when I feel a bit lost. Trusting God for the next steps in this new journey is my only path forward.

Pray for me that I may hear the still small voice of God and follow hard after Him.

How may I pray for you?

Dr Cliff

Your Life Matters Book Excerpt #6 Your Circumstances Do Not Dictate Your Value

Depression and anxiety are the two most common things Americans struggle with. Sometimes this is caused by a chemical imbalance that requires medication to help a person work through it and thrive. Other times, it is because of circumstances such as the ones listed below.

  • Grief over the loss of a loved one or the loss of a significant relationship.
  • Financial distress. Loss of job, loss of a capacity to earn, stock market losses.
  • Persistent feelings of failure and shame.
  • Feeling like, “I don’t measure up. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m too poor.”
  • Bullying. Being bullied or shamed into doing things.
  • Disability. Serious medical condition. Terminal or chronic illness.
  • Legal trouble. Criminal or civil.
  • Adverse childhood. Trauma/ abuse/ neglect.
  • Discrimination.

You may remember the staggering statistics from chapter 2 with 25% of Americans dealing with anxiety and/or depression in one form or another at any given moment.

So what does this mean? Why does this matter? Why are we even talking about it?

When I look at those numbers, I see the hurt and the pain associated with it. So many have lost their loved ones and friends and they are wondering why they are still here.

“Why do I exist?”

“I have no purpose. All I do is hurt. I can’t pay my bills. Why should I even live?”

Many people ask that question. When they have no answer, they choose to die by suicide. It has become the tenth leading cause of death in America today, taking around 50,000 lives each year.

I’d like to tell you a story about a woman who you might not have heard about. She grew up poor, one of twenty-four children, and a minority in Detroit.

She married at thirteen to escape problems at home and it didn’t end well. Her husband was an alcoholic and a bigamist, and he left her with two young boys and no support.

She worked two and three jobs at a time to make ends meet. With no formal education, she cleaned floors, homes, and bathrooms—whatever work she could find.

That was a hard life already. Add the responsibility of two young boys, who would often go unsupervised for hours at a time, in tough neighborhoods. This created a nearly hopeless situation. She was stern with them and made them study and read. They couldn’t turn on the TV until after all their homework was complete.

During that time, she was struck with clinical depression.

Instead of allowing her challenges with depression to drag her and her boys down, she got the help she needed. Family members took care of the boys for a couple of months until she came back home.

She could have let that stigma of mental illness drag her down and keep her there, but she didn’t. She went back to work and instilled the same work ethic and overcoming spirit into her boys. This mom had her sons read books that opened their minds and encouraged them to study hard. She cared about them and worked to make a difference in their lives every day. She did the very best she could.

Her life mattered because she didn’t give up, even when she had to be so tired – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And yet, each day she got up and did all she could one more day. Isn’t that what we are all called to do?

Her story of struggle isn’t unique. Her uncommon courage is. She defied the odds and not only survived but thrived – and so did her boys.

One son worked hard and earned excellent grades. He became a mechanical engineer.

The other son wanted to become a doctor. A brain surgeon, better known as a neurosurgeon. That son earned his Pre-Med degree from Yale and went to the University of Michigan for medical school.

He has now written best-selling books. A movie has been made about his life. He has run for President of the United States and was appointed to be the 17th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson.

His mother’s name was Sonya Carson, and her life mattered.

At any point in her life, she could have given up. Many others have given up, but not Ms. Carson. People throw up their hands every day, and walk away from families, abandoning children. They just quit on life. But not her.

When she battled clinical depression while working three jobs, she might have asked, “Is this all there is?”

But she didn’t let that stop her. I believe her faith allowed her to see, that even during times of great struggles, there was still hope.  

That’s how Sonya Carson lived her life. She didn’t know how her boys were going to turn out but she was determined to give them all she had.

She was changing the world by loving her sons.

Each day that she invested in those boys yielded a change in the world for the better.

Her story could be your story too. We each make an impact on this world.

Each day matters. It is a gift.

#YourLifeMatters.

Oseola McCarty, a washerwoman

What is a “washerwoman” and how could she change the world? A washerwoman went to someone’s home and washed their clothes. Hanging, folding, and ironing them as needed.

This was a very low-paying job, but for someone who has no formal education and is willing to work hard, it helped to pay the bills.

Meet Ms. Osceola McCarty. When she was a young girl, Osceola’s aunt became ill and could not take care of herself. This led Osceola to leave school to take care of her sick aunt. After that, she did what other women in her family had done for years – she became a washerwoman.

She was very frugal and saved all the money she could. She opened an account at TrustMark Bank in Hattiesburg Mississippi. When she earned money from her work, she deposited it there.

She didn’t own a car, preferring to walk everywhere she went. She didn’t subscribe to the newspaper, thinking it an extravagance. She had a black and white television and only watched the broadcast shows through the major networks.

Oseola was diligent about saving money in her bank account. As her account grew, the bankers at TrustMark bank noticed, and wanted to make sure that she was taken care of. They started working on her behalf as unofficial guardians. They convinced her to buy a couple of window air-conditioner units, and some other things for her personal welfare.

Then one day, when she was coming into the bank to make her routine deposit, one of the trust officers stopped and warmly greeted Ms. McCarty. He called her by name and invited her to his office. He also called in a man she knew well… An attorney she did laundry for.

At first, she was concerned that there might be a problem.

The bank trust officer quickly put her mind at ease. Nothing was wrong. This was a good meeting. He just wanted to share some good news with her. He asked her, “Oseola, do you know how much money you have in the bank?”

She said, “No, why don’t you tell me?”

“Well, Oseola, you have over $250,000 in your account.”

“I don’t know if that is a lot of money or not, sir.”

“Oseola, it is a lot of money and I would like to know what you would like to do with all of your money. Let me explain.” He took out ten dimes and some slips of paper. He explained to her that each dime would represent 10% of her total. Each slip of paper would represent where she wanted that money to go.

She looked at the two men, smiled, and said, “This is a blessing isn’t it!” Then she reached over to the first dime and said, “I want this to go my church.”

The trust officer wrote the name of Friendly Baptist Church on the slip.

Then Oseola reached over and moved the second, third and fourth dimes over and said, “I would like for this to go to my three remaining relatives.” She then gave the names to the trust officer.

She looked at the remaining six and said, “I want the rest of this to go for a scholarship at University Southern Mississippi, to students that are not otherwise going to be able to go to school, preferably of African American descent.”

The attorney put together the trust document and the bank helped to manage her money for the rest of her life.

When the word got out, that a washerwoman had just given over $250,000 away, and mostly for a scholarship, local leaders in the Hattiesburg area founded an endowment in her honor to make sure that this gift would be recognized forever.

President Bill Clinton awarded Oseola McCarty the Presidential Citizens award. The University of Southern Mississippi awarded her its first honorary degree. Then Harvard followed up giving her an Honorary Doctorate.

The founder of CNN, Ted Turner, said, “I’m inspired. If a washerwoman can give away all she has, maybe I need to step up to the plate as well. I pledge a billion dollars of my fortune to causes around the world.”

A lot of people stepped up and contributed because of this one woman’s story. But as a closing note, Oseola wanted just one thing—to see the person who received the first scholarship walk across the stage.

She was afraid, that because of her advanced age and poor health that this might not happen. In 1999, the first graduate of the Oseola McCarty Scholarship walked across the stage at USM, and Oseola was there.

She passed away several months later from complications related to cancer. A reporter sought out the scholarship recipient who graduated and asked her to comment on the passing of her benefactor.

She was quoted as saying, “The world is such a better place because of Oseola McCarty. She brought sunshine everywhere she went and asked for nothing in return. And now heaven is even brighter with their newest angel.”

There is so much to say here, but just let this story settle into your heart.

Think, what is possible for me?

How much of a difference can I make in this world if I will just commit to making daily efforts for the good?

Your Life Matters – Excerpt #5 PTSD

Approximately, 24 million Americans suffer from some form of PTSD

Chapter 7

PTSD

Men and women have been going to war in various parts of the world since the beginning of time. Each time they do, they leave a part of themselves—if not all of themselves—there, on the battlefield. Often the battlefield comes home with them.

War forever changes a person. Each person is affected in his or her own way. The impact on soldiers is so diverse that it has baffled everyone who has tried to come up with some formulaic way of addressing it. How do you help a person assimilate back into a world where people aren’t shooting at them or planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) meant to blow them to kingdom come?

We can trace PTSD in some form or another back to the Greco-Persian wars. Wherever mankind goes to war, some scars are seen. Others remain hidden. Where there are scars, there is pain. And where there is pain there is a need for healing. Too often, when it comes to our internal scars, they go untouched, unshared, and certainly unhealed

American soldiers first experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the Revolutionary War against England. Only after significant advances in military technology did the problem show up in large numbers. That happened during the Civil War, where PTSD was called by a variety of names, like – “acute mania”, nostalgia (now known to have been depression), or a condition called – “soldiers heart” (which was most likely high anxiety due to the invisible scars of war on the mind). In World War I, due to the nature of trench warfare, constant shelling, and the use of “mustard gas”, led to terms such as “shell shock” and “gas hysteria” being used to describe soldiers’ symptoms (Horowitz, 2015).

While there have been many terms for PTSD over the years, how it is to be treated, or whether it can be treated, has remained a moving target. It has led many that suffer from it, to end their own lives.

.According to research in this field, almost 70% of veterans who suffer from PTSD do not know that there are methods to help heal. And of those that know that there are treatment options, many do not always trust them.

PTSD’s partner, depression, adds to the challenge. The Veterans Administration (VA) statistics tell us that someone is 300% more likely to suffer from depression if they have PTSD.

This shocking number goes hand in hand with the statistics that show that those with PTSD are far more likely to commit suicide. Yet, when depression is added to the mix, it skyrockets the numbers dramatically. Visit the VA website or the NIH for current statistics.

My experience working with those that have PTSD has not been confined to those in the military alone. I have counseled women who have suffered from sexual trauma and betrayal trauma that create the same results. What is also interesting is that one of the fastest-growing groups that suffer from PTSD is adolescents. Visit the National Institute for Mental Health website for current statistics.

One story about a command driver in Iraq during the post-Desert Storm—Operation Enduring Freedom resounds deeply in my soul. A young man joined the Army, right out of high school in South Texas. He was a tough kid that grew up outdoors in the hot South Texas sun. He was a high school athlete, a preacher’s kid, and a man of faith. Not ready to go to college after high school, he always wanted to join the Army, like many in his family had done. He was determined to follow in his father’s footsteps, who had served in Vietnam.

Because he was in good physical condition, he breezed through basic training, though many found it difficult. He excelled at the physical challenges and wanted more. He shot a rifle well and handled other weapons with just as much ease.

When he went to Advanced Infantry Training, he excelled there as well. It seemed he could do everything they asked of him.

After he completed his training and was assigned to a unit, he asked for Airborne training. He qualified, but the current classes were filled. He would have to wait for the next available slot.

His unit deployed to Iraq. There, he drove an armored personnel carrier. He saw a lot of action from the day he arrived. There were mortar rounds lobbed at his unit as they were departing the airfield. When they took cover, snipers fired at them. They all survived the first day, but it was a rough introduction to war and Iraq.

As they patrolled, the mine sensing gear on the vehicle in front of the convoy picked up on what might be an improvised explosive device (IED). When the bomb techs got out to investigate the IED detonated.

The enemy had waited in the distance and triggered it. They must have been a bit anxious because no one was close enough yet for any damage to occur. They had set it off too early. But the explosion rocked the convoy and our young driver was rocked a bit as well.

It was one thing to see the enemy and engage them with your rifle or artillery. But it was another to have booby-traps and remote detonation IEDs going off with no warning. He was not prepared for this, nor was anyone, but he soldiered on.

Over the next months of convoys, the group confronted the enemy almost daily and did their job well. Then came the day that no one saw coming. The mine-sensing vehicle stopped, signaling that there was a problem. Feeling like he was in a dream, the explosion went off right under their vehicle. It came with such force that the command vehicle was flipped upside down. Outside it rained liquid metal and a pink mist.

Once our young driver regained consciousness, he could only see smoke. He felt blood coming down his face. Other vehicles in his convoy were engaging the enemy. He could hear the gunfire and the tanks booming away.

Members of his unit came and began cutting the doors off of the armored personnel carrier to get them out. One person in the command vehicle was dead, and all of the others were wounded but survived.

When our young driver emerged and could finally clear his eyes, he saw a medic looking him over. He asked the medic what happened.

The medic told him that the bomb-sensing vehicle had missed the bomb that was right underneath them. When they stopped, it was remotely detonated.

The young man asked, where was the vehicle and what happened to the soldiers?

The medic just shook his head. “They’re gone … there is almost nothing left. You guys are lucky to be alive. If that vehicle had been four or five feet farther up the road, the blast would have incinerated your vehicle too.”

The young man began to doubt whether he could do this anymore. But, like a good soldier, he carried on, tucking away those feeling and images in his mind, hoping to forget.

Each time they went out, it became harder and harder. It wasn’t because the enemy was that much worse, but the enemy was in his head. He couldn’t forget one of his good friends from basic training had been in the vehicle that was lost. They had just had a conversation that morning, right before the convoy headed out.

His friend told him, “Don’t worry big guy, we are taking the lead and we won’t let anything get to you guys.” He gave his life to keep his word.

As time passed, they caught random gunfire, an occasional rocket or mortar fire, but our young driver just kept on. He was a good soldier and was determined to do his best. He defended this unit the best he knew how to do. He fired his rifle when needed. He drove as he was trained and the conditions dictated. He did his job. Each time, he tucked away the next loss, close call, explosion, or look in the enemy’s eyes when his rifle shot met its mark.

When it was time to load up and ship out, our young man wasn’t sure what to expect but he was looking forward to the break. He slept most of the way back home on the Air Force C-141.

When he arrived in the United States, he was able to go home on leave. His parents met him at the airport in Houston and gave him a hero’s welcome. People in the airport terminal cheered our young man as he walked with his family.

Just before he stepped out of the terminal, he saw an Arab man look up from his phone after pushing a button on it, looking right at him. Our young soldier had seen this before in Iraq and it was often a signal that something bad was about to happen. He froze in place. His family walked a few more steps, but his father noticed and went back for him.

“What’s wrong, son?” His father asked.

“I just saw something that … oh it was nothing. Sorry. It is just a major adjustment being back in the normal world.” Our young man said. He tucked this feeling away too, but with a heightened sense of awareness that around any corner there could be an enemy waiting to exploit their weakness.

On the way home, he tried to engage with his family but struggled. He was constantly scanning the other vehicles looking for threats, looking for signs of roadside disturbances that might signal an IED placement.

He thought he must be going crazy. In his mind, he could see threats everywhere and everyone was oblivious. So, he swallowed his fear and put on a brave face, and did his best to engage with his loving family.

When he got to the family home, the church had set out a big welcome home meal. Everyone hugged him and shook his hand. Some of the old men shared war stories of their own. They would ask him for stories, but he just said, “nothing much to tell. It is tough and the enemy is serious.”

That would be all. And yet, each time, in his mind, the events would all play out in living color and sound, as if they were happening again. He thought no one would understand, so he kept it all to himself.

When the crowd of well-wishers finally left, he told his family he was tired and wanted to shower and go to sleep. They helped carry his belongings to his room. His Mom and Dad hugged him, his older brother slugged him in the shoulder and told him that he was proud of him. His sister kissed him on the cheek. He smiled and thanked them all.

In the shower, he hoped the sand from the desert was going to finally be washed away. But it didn’t, no matter how hard he scrubbed. More than sand needed to be washed away.

When he finally laid down and closed his eyes, he was immediately asleep, but that’s when the dreams played in his head.

The tracer rounds went out and came in. The ground shook from an explosion. Someone’s voice came over the radio, then went silent in mid-sentence. That could only mean one thing.

The vehicle he had been driving lifted up and rolled over, leaving his body hanging upside down from a seatbelt, with blood dripping down his face. Every detail replayed in his dreams as if he were still there.

He couldn’t tell his family what was going on. He wasn’t okay but didn’t want to burden them with something they wouldn’t understand.

And yet, they could see that something wasn’t right—they knew him well enough to know what no sleep looked like.

He brushed their concerns to the side.

One afternoon, a West Texas wind whipped across the house, slamming the door so hard the house rattled. He immediately hit the floor and covered his head.

When he lifted his head, everyone in the house stood staring at him with mouths wide open. No mortar round. Just wind. He shook his head, got to his feet, and fumbled an apology. Before anyone could speak to him, he hurried to his room.

Behind the closed door of his room, he threw himself on his bed and began to weep. He wept from the deepest pit of his soul over the things he had seen, the people he had lost, and the people that he had killed. Every image and face came rushing back to his mind and he didn’t know what to do to make it stop.

Then he remembered his old Master Sargent, who had served at the end of Vietnam. He drank a lot and wouldn’t talk about his experiences over there. He guessed he was drowning the demons he saw that must be like his own. The stories of guys getting into drugs didn’t make sense, until now. That must have been how they stopped the never-ending replay of the memories from hell.

Some had taken their own lives. He now understood that level of desperation. He also knew he was headed down the same path. He knew he had to walk out of that room and get some help from his family and any means necessary, or he would end up like them.

He dropped to his knees and prayed. God must have an answer for him. During his prayer, his father came in, and with tears in the old pastor’s eyes, he knelt beside his son, wrapping his arms around him.

Together, they prayed for what seemed like hours. The young man spoke to God about the things that he had seen, experienced, and done—all of it. He asked God to forgive him where he had failed. He wasn’t sure where he had failed but it sure felt like he had. He asked God to take away the dreams and the fear of living with this burden. To help him lay it down at the foot of the cross. To help those families that had been struck by this war in all the different ways that war can destroy lives. He prayed for the courage to finish his tour of duty and then walk away into a new life. He prayed for the help he would need to recover mentally and the strength to stay away from those things that could impair his mind, like drugs or alcohol.

He felt God’s presence. A simple phrase came to his heart, that could have only come from God. “I will.”

He got up from the floor, helping his father, who swore he didn’t need the help. They walked into the family room where everyone was talking quietly. He sat down next to his sister. Looking around the room, he finally smiled.

He took his sister’s hand and told the family, “I need to tell you guys the stories of what happened while I was in Iraq. The things I have seen, done, and lived through are pretty rough, but I know that if I do not get them out now, I never will.”

And so in the very comfortable living room, he talked while they listened. Now and then, someone asked a question where they wanted to know more.

His Mom left the room briefly to order pizza and get something for everyone to drink. She would have rather cooked but didn’t want to miss a thing.

When the pizza arrived, they ate and continued the conversation until long after midnight. Some shed tears. Some had exclamations of shock. When he finished, silence filled the room, along with a new sense of overwhelming respect for their son/brother/soldier.

The young man felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders. When he went to bed that night, he was finally able to sleep, really sleep.

When he got up the next day, he had renewed sense of purpose and knew that he needed to make sure that he kept talking about it and that he needed to see a professional counselor. He would not allow anyone’s opinion about getting help to deter him.

He was scheduled to fly back to his base the next day and wanted to spend all this time with his family. The guys got together and played a round of golf.

The ladies planned a going-away party for the young man. It was wonderful. They invited all of his old friends that were close enough to come and when they got home after their golf game, he was overwhelmed with the love of his family and friends again.

But this time was different. They knew him, and they had also heard from him – all that he had been through, leaving nothing out. Knowing they knew all he had been through, and that they loved him, made all the difference in the world.

When he returned to his base, he sought out counseling. In the remaining year of his enlistment, he went to college on the base in between his work details.

When they asked if he wanted to reenlist—and they made the offer very attractive—he respectfully declined. He planned to finish that degree and have a family. And that is exactly what he did. He is now the husband of a beautiful woman and the father of a houseful of wonderful kids. He works at a great job for a big company.

He also still sees a counselor a couple of times a year, just to stay proactive. It helps. And, he now helps other veterans who are dealing with PTSD as a peer-support specialist volunteer. He says that helps him as much as anyone.

This young man’s life matters! He is an American Hero, that served our country. He continues to serve others in both small and large ways, the best that he can. At each point in his life, he was making an impact on those around him. I wonder how many lives his service in the military impacted? I wonder how many lives he saved through his valor? In turn, how many families, kids, co-workers, employers, churches, or others did his life intersect with, either directly or indirectly, in a positive way?

Even if it was just one – his life would matter. Does this story resonate with you? If you are someone who experiences PTSD, I want you to know that there is help. Reach out to www.thewarriorsrefuge.us and ask for counseling. We will either provide counseling or we will find you a counselor close to where you are. You are not alone and help is available!

YOUR LIFE MATTERS!

The book is coming out next week!

Dr. Cliff

Your Past Doesn’t Define Your Future -Your Life Matters Book Excerpt #4

This is the 4th Excerpt of the book that is about to be released called – Your Life Matters!

I hope this story inspires you.

George Mueller

In college, I studied about George Mueller. He became one of my heroes. If you haven’t heard of him, Mueller built great orphanages on simple faith. Eventually, these orphanages covered thirteen acres of land on Ashley Downs, in Bristol, England. But, when God put it into the heart of George Mueller to build these orphanages, George had only two shillings (fifty cents) in his pocket.

By the time of Mr. Muller’s death, there were five immense buildings of solid granite, capable of accommodating two thousand orphans. Without making his desires known to anyone but God, over one million, four hundred thousand pounds ended up being donated – over seven million U.S. dollars today. It arrived as it was needed, to build and maintain the orphanages.

Although George Mueller became famous as one of the greatest men of prayer known to history, he was not always a saint. He wandered into a deep mess before he came to Christ.

Mueller was born in Prussia, in 1805. His father was a tax collector. Not the best example for a young man, his father spent much of his time in the bars and brothels.

George routinely lied to his father about the money he spent, both how much he spent and where he threw it away. He also stole from his father when his father was drunk or out spending time with the women in the brothels.

Since his father was wrapped up in the dark side of the world, he didn’t provide much fatherly instruction. He gave the family money, that they quickly burned through. At ten years of age, George was sent to a Christian school. His father wanted to make a Lutheran clergyman of him, not that he might serve God, but that he might have an easy and comfortable living wage from the State Church. (Lawson, 1911).

“My time,” said George, “was now spent in studying, reading novels, and indulging … in sinful practices. Thus, it continued until I was fourteen years old when my mother suddenly died. The night she was dying, I, not knowing of her illness, was playing cards until two in the morning. On the next day, being the Lord’s Day, I went with some of my companions to a tavern, and then, being filled with strong beer, we went about the streets drunk.”

“I grew worse and worse,” said Mueller. “Three or four days before I was confirmed (and thus admitted to partake of the Lord’s supper), I was guilty of gross immorality; and the very day before my confirmation, when I was in the vestry with the clergyman to confess my sins (according to the usual practice), after a formal manner, I defrauded him; for I handed over to him only a twelfth part of the fee which my father had given me for him.”

Lying, stealing, gambling, skirt-chasing, wasteful spending, was just the tip of the iceberg. No one would have imagined that this wayward young soul would become known for his faith in God and his power in prayer.

When his father sent young George to collect rent, George would lie about the amount he collected and pocket the difference. His reckless behavior brought him to the point of having no money to buy food. He even stole bread from a soldier.

In 1821, George went to Magdeburg and spent six days there drinking and chasing women. From there, he went to Brunswick and rented an expensive hotel until his money ran out. Next he rented a room at a fine hotel in a neighboring village, intending to defraud the hotel. Caught before he could leave, he traded his finest clothes for rent money. He then walked six miles to another inn, where he was arrested for trying to defraud the landlord. (Lawson, 1911). This time he was jailed for his crime, at sixteen years old.

But then something that can only be described as a “come to Jesus” moment occurred in his life. While at school, one of his friends brought him to the house of a Christian family on a Saturday afternoon.

They ate dinner together and afterward began a Bible study that was far deeper than any he had been involved in before. His heart was moved in a way he had never experienced. Before George could ask a question of the man leading the study, the man quietly slipped to his knees to pray, and his family joined him in prayer.

George had never experienced this, even in all the Christian Studies and seminary/clergyman schooling he had attended. George, unsure what to do, joined them on his knees, too.

In that moment of solemn prayer, George surrendered his life to Christ. He began to cry for the errors of his ways and wanted to do nothing but make amends and share the love of Christ with everyone he came in contact with. It was a moment of real transformation.

He went on to preach around the countryside, and then moved to London to preach there. In 1834, Mr. Mueller started the Scripture Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad to aid Christian day-schools, assist missionaries, and circulate the Scriptures.

Shortly after this, he began the orphanages that impacted so many children. “These institutions of both learning and housing, without government support, without asking anyone for help, without contracting debts; without committees, subscribers, or memberships; but through faith in the Lord alone and intense prayer, had raised and disbursed no less a sum than £1,500,000 ($7,500,000) at the time of Mr. Mueller’s death.” (Lawson, 1911). The bulk of this was spent on the orphanage.

“By the time Mueller died, 122,000 persons had been taught in the schools supported by these funds; and about 282,000 Bibles and 1,500,000 Testaments had been distributed through the same fund. Also, 112,000,000 religious books, pamphlets, and tracts had been circulated; missionaries had been aided in all parts of the world, and no less than ten thousand orphans had been cared for using this same fund.” (Lawson, 1911).

At the age of seventy, Mr. Mueller made great evangelistic tours, traveling 200,000 miles around the world. He preached in many lands and in several different languages, frequently speaking to as many as 4,500 or 5,000 people.

He preached three to four times throughout the United States. He continued his evangelistic tours until he was ninety years of age. During these seventeen years of evangelistic work, he estimated he had addressed three million people. All his expenses had been paid by those who sent in funds, in answer to his prayers of faith.

It would be an understatement to say that George Mueller’s life mattered, but I am struck by the times when there was neither food nor money to buy food. As mealtimes in the orphanages drew near, they gathered around the tables in the dining hall and George prayed. All the staff and children would file in and they would join him silently praying.

They were always interrupted by a knock on the door. Someone would deliver food saying, “I felt moved by the Lord to bring this to your institution. I hope it helps.”

No one had said a word publicly, other than their prayers to God. No one had cried in the streets for help or set up a fundraising drive. They prayed.

This wasn’t an isolated occurrence. If that were the case, many would think it to be a coincidence. But their prayers were answered every time there was a need or a shortage.

Every time.

No one ever went without a meal in these orphanages, ever.

I wonder about the impact that this type of devoted prayer must have had on the people at the orphanages who witnessed it, from the staff to the residents. How did this shape their lives of faith?

I imagine it had a tremendous impact on them. Simply learning about the story has had a profound impact on me.

So, you see, your past does not define your future. You can begin again today and live in such a way that the change inspires others and leads them out of their darkness. “If I did it, so can you,” will be your byline. Then you reach down and lift them up and walk with them a while.

Dr Cliff

Excerpt of Chapter 2 The Invisible Pain – Depression and Mental Health

Here is the 3rd Installment from the book – Your Life Matters!

The Invisible Pain of Depression/Mental Health

Depression and mental health issues are rampant in our world today. I see it in my work as a counselor and in my capacity as founder of a veteran’s homeless shelter. I live it every day.

As a pastor, I used to run a small group that focused on mental health, and it was the most widely group in the church. Statistics from the psychiatry.org website show that depression is an epidemic. About 17% of people walking around at any given time are suffering from depression

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) statistics showing that up to 25% of the world population suffers from a recognized anxiety disorder and yet, only about one-third of those are seeking any sort of treatment

When we are depressed, we feel like doing nothing. Or worse, we may feel like taking our own lives. We may feel like our lives are over or it will never get any better. We feel like our lives do not matter, but that is a lie.

There have been points in my life when I have struggled with depression. Sometimes it seemed so dark, I didn’t know the way out. One day, in particular, a friend checked on me and I told her I was struggling.

She told me “Get out of the house. It’s too beautiful a day to stay inside.”

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I went outside while we talked.

“Cliff, now drive to Wal Mart. When you get there buy a fall plant, in a planter and give it to someone–anyone you see that might benefit from a little brightness in their day.”

“Are you serious? You want me to go and buy a plant or flowers for someone I don’t know and give it to them? They are going to think I’m crazy. They’ll think I’m a stalker and just weird.”

“Go and do it,” she insisted.

Reluctantly, I got in my car and deliberately drove past the Wal Mart near my home to a grocery store across town, hoping to avoid seeing anyone I knew. They’d certainly think I had lost my mind.

I took a deep breath and plodded inside. A beautiful display of fall plants greeted me near the entrance. At $10 each, I could do this. I looked over the plants and grabbed the first one I saw that looked decent and headed for the checkout.

After I paid for the plant and headed out the exit door, I stood to the right and watched the people coming and going. How strange that no one looked at anyone else. Even stranger that I stood there with an eye for giving something away to a perfect stranger.

Where do I begin? How do I choose? Some people were dressed up and others dressed down. Then I spotted an elderly lady coming out of the store. She took short deliberate steps with her cart of groceries, focused on the asphalt in front of her. She pushed as if she were using all her strength to push a sled uphill.

I walked to her, smiled. “Hi, my name is Cliff, and I would like to give you this plant for your home and maybe if you would let me, help you to your car with these groceries.”

She looked at me with a hint of a smile along with questions on her face. When she saw the plant in my hand, she lit up like a Christmas tree. “That’s the nicest thing anyone ever offered to do for me.”

I unloaded the groceries into her car and placed the plant in the seat next to her.

She gave me the biggest hug I had received in a long time and told me, “You absolutely made my day. Thank you so much.”

For the first time in a while, a smile crept over my face. I told her, “You made a difference in my life too.”

She tilted her head a little sideways with a question in her eyes, and then waved it off and thanked me again.

I’m not sure why I didn’t tell her why I came and bought a gift for a stranger. Somehow it seemed like it might dim the beauty of the moment. It was enough for me to know that I had made a difference in someone’s life. At that moment, that mattered more to me than I have words to express.

The depression that weighed me down, evaporated. That was a miracle to me. In fact, it felt so good, that I went back into the store and did it again and it was just as awesome the second time. I still do that from time to time.

By the way, I ended up marrying that friend who recommended it, but we’ll get back to that later.

I have learned that when you do something for someone else who cannot repay you, it’s as much a gift to you as it is to them.

This is all tied to a psychological theory called “Positive Psychology.” We discuss this at length in the tool kit section of this book. Feel free to skip ahead and read it. It’s important stuff.

Do you like what you read so far?

Let me know what you think.

Dr. Cliff