Friends and Neighbors

Columnist: Life is about learning to count our blessings, cope with our tragedies


Dear Readers,

In this last column of 2013, I just want to share some things with you. Looking back on the year, I am reminded of how much we have come though. Some things were devastating and some things were just down, right wonderful!

I learned a lot this year, like really coming to know that none of us is free from sorrow and disappointments. It's just a part of life and who we are. And that is OK with me, because the pain and the disappointments have helped me to grow. I am growing because I have learned to see the blessings in the thing that have happened to me — things I couldn't have changed anyway.

I learned, all over again, the blessing of forgiveness. And while it is not always easy to forgive, I have learned to do it anyway. And you know something? I reap huge blessings for being a forgiving soul. When I was young, I used to say that I wouldn't hold bitterness and hate in my heart because they would only make me old and ugly.

Well, I have lived long enough to be old. Couldn't stop the aging hand. But I could keep myself from becoming ugly. By keeping my heart forgiving, cheerful and loving, I can always be beautiful. What's on the inside of a person radiates to the outside. That's the kind of beauty that shines from inside. And that means we can all be beautiful.

And again, I learned, that friendships, old and new, are so precious. I rediscovered this year, just how precious they are when my son Rick, died. My friends came from all over — New York, Georgia, right here at home and from all parts of Florida, just to hug and comfort me. Old friends, whom I hadn't been in contact with very much over the past years, hovered around me like a mother hen, comforting and protecting her own. I learned again how great it is to have good neighbors, who have become my surrogate family.

I learned, too, to see the joy in the little things. My little great-grandsons Jaylen and Tavaris, taught me that lesson. Their little antics and stories keep me smiling, even when I want to cry.

Some years ago, I was told that I was going blind. So I daily thank the Lord for letting me see the butterflies that flutter around the plants in my yard. I've learned to be more thankful for that.

Everyday this year, something has happened to me to help me to know what it means to have faith in God; to have a wonderful spiritual father, Bishop Walter H. Richardson, who really does care for the souls that God has put in his charge; to have a wonderful and caring church family that is always praying for me and for my well being. It is through Bishop Richardson's teachings that I have learned to be thankful even in the midst of pain and sorrow. And to know that I have my angels with me always, protecting me and looking after me.

As we go about our daily life, it is so easy to forget the blessings that are bestowed on us. Events and issues will sometime blot out the goodness that often surrounds us.

In a few days, God wiling, we will be in a new year, with new problems and challenges to overcome. The most useful thing I have learned this year is to let go of the things that I can't change, to change the things I can and to place the things I can't change in the hands of the Lord. And then, move on.

With that, dear readers, have a wonderful and blessed New Year!

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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