Yesterday at the gas station I look to see a small farm truck parked a few pumps away. An older man with a cowboy hat was filling some gas cans in the back of the pickup. A feeling of gratitude sparked in me as I recognized him as my 3rd grade teacher. I walked over to him as my vehicle was filling up, and he recognized me after almost 25 years. “I’ve been reading The Great Brain to my kids” I proudly said to him. He smiled and we shared a brief conversation, and I hope he felt the gratitude I have for him having read to us rowdy 3rd graders. The Great Brain books by John D Fitzgerald were about a boy who grew up in a fictitious town near Cedar City, UT around 1896. The older brother, Tom, is known as “The Great Brain” and he uses his brain and his “money loving heart” to swindle almost anyone he can, but mostly his own little brother. Despite the series of stories of a possible crook in the making, Tom, often uses his brain to help others. The books always teach a lesson, and give you a few good laughs along the way.
So, last night, I read to my 3 girls in one of The Great Brain books that we picked up at the local library. We read how Tom used his brain to help an uneducated and untamed 12 year old tomboy of a girl named Dotty to learn to read, write, and get along with the other kids. Dotty’s mother died when she was young, and her father (like many of us men) had a hard time communicating with Dotty in a way that matched his love for her.[images style="2" image="http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jimmyandshelly.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2015%2F05%2Fphoto.jpg" width="541" caption="I%20love%20Mercer%20Mayer's%20illustrations!" align="center" top_margin="0" full_width="Y"]
Then came the part when Dotty receives a gift from her father. It represented a significant sacrifice for a man down on his luck and even lower on his confidence. More so, it represented the love that he always had for his daughter, and somehow until then, wasn’t able to clearly share it. I lost it. My girls asked why I was crying, and I just told them that I understood what it means for a Dad to love his little girls. Then they all tackled me and smothered me in hugs and kisses.
What a blessing it is to be entrusted to raise these precious angels from heaven! No matter the level of confidence. No matter our financial, social, or physical resources, we make all difference by loving them as best as we can.
So, if you’re reading to your kids already, consider The Great Brain in the line-up, and if you’re not reading to them, now is always a great time to start.
Jimmy Coray is the founder of Every Mountaintop, an addiction recovery support program that helps individuals and families overcome the limiting beliefs and behaviors that are keeping them from blissful recovery. Jimmy has felt the devastating effects of addiction in his own life, and is driven to reach out to strengthen and support others by connecting them with the most effective resources for success. Jimmy is also the founder of 26 Peaks in 26 Weeks, a weekly hiking club that has hiked the tallest peaks in the Wasatch Mountains as a way of getting out of the world where the air and your mind are clear. Jimmy shares his tips and thoughts on positive recovery on his youtube channel www.youtube.com/everymountaintop.
I grew up loving to serve those around me more than anything else in the world. My parents taught us by example to help the neighbors with projects, take dinner to those who were sick, and share the bounties from our garden with friends. It always brought me so much joy to join my dad on a walk down the street and notice how many people he stopped to talk to, just to let them know someone cared. I spent my high school years on committees and in clubs whose core focus was service and it brought me much satisfaction. Even during my college years all of my extracurricular activities were centered on giving to others. Once I became a mom, I struggled to serve on the same level I had become accustomed to. I used the excuse (and I truly believed it) that I didn't have as many opportunities to serve. Soon, my lack of service turned to apathy, and eventually selfishness until I was drowning in an ocean created by my own self-centeredness. I felt that my cup was always empty so I had nothing left to give to others. Many times over the years I have stopped to reevaluate myself and wonder where the “real” Shelly went. The girl who loved service more than anything else. As I started to question my own happiness and ability to love others, I realized that I had become so consumed with my own circumstances that I had done a 180 degree turn until I was only worried about myself. Many of my actions towards my children, husband, and neighbors were out of duty and necessity, not love. I had developed what I like to call and “inward mindset.” I only focused on what was best for me, and even when I did something for someone else my motives were often not pure.
After many prayers and searching for myself I cam to the painful conclusion that I wasn’t really missing the opportunities to serve, I was lacking the outward mindset and desire to serve, and that was something that I had control over. I needed to replace my selfish it's-all-about-me goggles with “Godly Goggles.”
When wearing these goggles I view other people around me as God would see them. I see them as people with fears, hopes, dreams, feelings, desires, imperfections and strengths. When I look at them with my Godly Goggles I see them for who God created them to be and I see their heart. I am filled with understanding and love for them and wonder what I can do that would be best for them without any thought of what’s in it for me. Once I started putting my Godly Goggles on more often I was bombarded with ample opportunities to serve His children which filled my cup to overflowing so there was more than enough to share.
I soon found that while the service I rendered when wearing my Godly Goggles was often the answer to someone's prayer, it was also an answer to my own.
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Tip Tuesday comes from the Book of Mormon in Jacob 2:17
“Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all…”
Can you take a moment out of thinking about all the things that you need to do, and ponder what someone else near you is in need of? Do you know your neighbors, coworkers, kid’s friends and parents? Do you avoid eye-contact in public, or are you willing to share your love and light through a simple smile?
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Happiness is not found in getting everything done that needs to be done so we can say “Woo Hoo! I’m done!” As we go through life, there are many things clamoring for our attention. It is the relationships that we build, cultivate, and cherish that make life so sweet and fulfilling.
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