Are you ready for some inspirational stories that will make your heart jump for joy? These days, it is so easy to get down. Both individually and as a nation, we have so many problems and it often seems like things just keep getting worse. For example, this week we learned that pending home sales in the United States just dropped by the most in 3 years and that they have now been declining for 8 months in a row. And without a doubt, incredibly challenging times are on the horizon. In response, a lot of people are going to choose to complain bitterly and curse the darkness. Others are going to respond with fear and will try to hide from the world as much as they can. But I don’t think that either of those approaches is a good way to react to the problems that we will be facing. Rather, I believe that the right choice is to be a light in the darkness and to try to make a difference. As you will see below, there are many ways that this can be done. You don’t have to be famous, or run for political office, or have a million dollars. All that it takes is a willingness to reach out and love the one in front of you. If all of us decided to do what we could to truly make a difference in the life of one other person, our nation would be a far better place. The following are 5 people who made a conscious decision to shine a light in the darkness…
Kelly Nixon Mayr
It takes a lot of love and compassion to adopt a child into your own home. When that child has special needs, it can be especially challenging. That is why the story of Kelly Nixon Mayr is so inspiring. Along with her husband, she has made a lifestyle out of helping children with special needs…
Kelly Nixon Mayr of Colorado has birthed five children, adopted one troubled teen and fostered several special-needs infants. On Tuesday, she and husband Paul announced, through their family blog, that they had finalized their adoption of Angie, a 2-year-old who was born drug-exposed and clubfooted, whom they had fostered on and off since she was 1.
Now they are preparing for their next adoption—of Rita, an 8-year-old Eastern European orphan with arthrogryposis (a rare syndrome causing unbendable joints) and a case of post-traumatic stress disorder.
But Nixon Mayr, 45, who speaks about her close-knit brood with equal parts passion and humor, insists that she and her husband are not extraordinary.
“I yell at my kids, and I think one might have had Goldfish for breakfast the other day,” she tells Yahoo Shine with a laugh. “The only thing we are is willing.”
It takes a lot of money to raise those children. Kelly and her husband could have used that money on a larger house, luxury cars and expensive vacations. But instead, they willingly chose to live their lives in service to others.
Younger Americans are capable of feats of great compassion as well. For example, a YouTube personality known as “Rahat” could have easily ignored the homeless man that he would often see at the local shopping mall. But instead, he decided to do something about it…
On March 4, a YouTube magician and prankster name Rahat set aside his mischievous pranks to do something really kind for a homeless man he’d often seen hanging around his shopping mall.
He heard that the man named Eric was a “nice and respectable guy,” so he gave him a lottery ticket telling him it was a winner and that he should come to the shop and claim his prize. The store clerk was privy to the stunt and pretended the ticket was indeed a winner and handed over $1,000 in cash to the homeless gentleman.
Rahat, who had secretly given the clerk the cash to give to Eric recorded a video of how excited Eric was to “win” the money.
And thanks to Rahat’s YouTube video and fundraising efforts, a total of $42,000 has been raised for that homeless man, and his future is looking bright for the first time in a very long while.
Sometimes it is an animal that desperately needs some love and compassion. In this economic environment, there are a lot of people that are abandoning their pets, and there are a lot of homeless dogs and cats that are in a tremendous amount of pain right now.
That is why what people like Annie Hart are doing is so wonderful…
When Annie Hart rescued a sick, homeless pit bull, not even she could have predicted the miraculous transformation the animal would undergo.
Hart is the executive director of the Bill Foundation and is no stranger to rescuing animals.
She ended up naming the pit bull Gideon. The dog was in such bad shape that he actually trembled at the sight of humans.
Doctors also discovered that Gideon was suffering from multiple severe bacterial and highly contagious fungal infections. He was put in quarantine.
As you watch the video of the transformation of this dog that I have posted below, you might just find yourself getting choked up over it…
Mark A. Mayo
How many of you would be willing to give your life so that someone else could live?
That is precisely what Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark A. Mayo recently did. It is this kind of heroism that America desperately needs more of…
Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark A. Mayo, 24, was killed during a shooting incident at Naval Station Norfolk Monday. Mayo was assigned to Naval Security Forces, Naval Station Norfolk.
Norfolk Naval Base commander Robert Clark said the young sailor sacrificed himself to save others.
“It was incredibly extraordinary,” says Clark.
The shooting happened around 11:20pm Monday night at Pier 1 onboard the USS Mahan.
Mark Mayo was protecting a sailor who first confronted a civilian intruder. That man, a truck driver, tried to board the destroyer Mahan. He disarmed the watch stander and then turned the watch stander’s gun at Mayo.
“He jumped into the way between the gunman and the petty officer of the watch. She fell to the ground. He covered her and he basically gave his life for hers,” says Clark.
“Doing that, that’s something he would do,” says Virgil Savage, a fellow sailor and close friend of Mayo. “He always stood up for the little guy.”
You can read more about Mayo’s incredible act of bravery right here.
Dan And Linda Catlin
It takes a very special individual to commit your entire life to serving the homeless.
But that is exactly what Pastor Dan Catlin and his wife Linda have been doing for many years.
The following is an excerpt from a profile of the Messiah’s Branch homeless ministry in Wichita, Kansas that was written by Jessiqua Wittman…
Messiah’s Branch is a family-owned homeless ministry. Since the year 2000, Dan and Linda Catlin have been traveling an hour, at least twice a week, to help the homeless in the city of Wichita, Kansas.
When I was a teenager (before we were homeless ourselves), my family had the privilege of working with this family.
We’d arrive at the mission building (a renovated bar), around 12:30 on Tuesdays and Fridays. The homeless people of the city, usually about 50 to 70 of them, would already be trickling into the area. There are a lot more homeless people than that in Wichita. Those were just the people from the surrounding area that could walk there, and had no other ministry that they could go for food. Most churches (besides Messiah’s Branch) require identification before they feed people off the street, and oftentimes homeless people have lost their identification long ago, whether because of drugs, mugging, or police raids (many of the police in Wichita are very hostile towards homeless people).
When you serve the homeless, there are no vacations. It is just a relentless battle against human pain and suffering. To do this year after year, you have got to be driven by compassion…
Sister Linda can hold a knife and cut a potato at the same time, in the same hand! The whole time seasoning her stew and chatting and laughing with a young homeless couple that are hanging around the kitchen door, hungry for more than just food.
And Pastor Dan? What does he do? He takes some people to doctor’s appointments, some to the hospital. Sometimes he buys shoes, or makes sure they find a coat that will fit just right. The way I remember him most is being the resident jar-opener.
In the wintertime, when it reaches a certain temperature, Pastor Dan and Sister Linda open up the building full time. There are so many people that come, they lay them all side-by-side in rows on the floor. For a week sometimes, it’s like this.
I have personally talked to Pastor Dan and I know how hard he has worked to help the homeless of Wichita for so many years.
But the need just keeps getting greater.
All over the country, the middle class is shrinking and more people are falling into poverty.
We are going to need a lot more people like the ones you just read about above.
And you don’t have to do exactly what they are doing. Find your own way to make a difference. We all have different gifts, and together we can make this country a better place.
So make a conscious decision to shine a light in the darkness.
In the end, you will be glad that you did.
Whatever you may think about the George Zimmerman trial, the truth is that it is yet another example that shows very clearly how divided America is at this point. I was hesitant to write anything about the Zimmerman trial today, because it seems like the more people talk about it the more divided we become. But we need to have some honest discussions about these issues, because all of this division threatens to literally tear this nation apart. If we do not learn how to love one another and forgive one another, America is not going to have any sort of a future. After all this time, the people of the United States should have been able to get beyond racial hatred. Instead, it appears to be growing with each passing day. Right now, there are millions of Americans that hate African-American people. Right now, there are millions of Americans that hate Hispanic-American people. Right now, there are millions of Americans that hate Asian-American people. Right now, there are millions of Americans that hate white people. Right now, there are millions of Americans that hate Jewish people. All of this hatred is evil, and it is eating away at our nation like cancer. The problems that our country is facing are immense, and we are never going to have any hope of solving them until we can forgive one another and start to honestly love one another.
When groups of Americans begin to label other groups of Americans that don’t look like them as “the enemy”, we all lose.
We should refuse to listen to those that would attempt to divide us and pit us against one another. We must find a way to come together and overcome all of the bitterness and resentment that is out there. Those that harbor hatred in their hearts are not doing any good and they are slowly but surely destroying themselves.
We need to start understanding that every human life is of great value. I doesn’t matter what someone looks like or where they are from. The following is a direct quote from one of our most important founding documents, the Declaration of Independence…
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Indeed, we are all greatly loved and greatly valued by our Creator. Those that choose to hate a particular group of people are choosing to come against the Creator of us all.
Almost every single day there are people that come to my websites that post comments expressing dislike for one particular group of people or another. And just about wherever you go on the Internet these days, you can see the hatred rising. If this continues, what is America going to look like in a few years?
It seems like almost everyone in America has an opinion about how the Zimmerman trial should have ended. And that is okay. But no matter how you feel about it, you should not be setting fires, burning American flags, smashing store windows or vandalizing police vehicles. You should not be trying to convince us all that one group or another is “sub-human” or that one group or another is “superior”. And you should not be attempting to claim that “the Jews” are the root cause of all of our problems.
If you hate a particular group of people, you are part of the problem.
In Matthew chapter 22, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is…
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
First of all, we are to love God with everything that is inside of us.
Secondly, we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
So exactly who qualifies as a neighbor?
Jesus answered that question in Luke chapter 10…
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Are you willing to love those that look different than you do?
Of course we all could do better and we have all made mistakes. That is one reason why forgiveness is so important.
We all need to have grace for one another and to be open to reconciliation.
If Americans are able to forgive one another and start loving one another, we may be able to start moving this country back in the right direction.
If not, strife and discord will literally tear our communities apart.
The choice is up to you America.
The United States is clearly in an advanced state of decline. Many people around the world (and even inside America) rejoice at this, but not me. I mourn for the country that I was born in and that I still love. Yes, the United States has never been perfect, but the Republic that our Founding Fathers started truly has been a light to the rest of the world in a lot of ways over the centuries. Unfortunately, our foundations are badly rotting and our nation is collapsing all around us. Many Americans like to think that the United States is greater today than it has ever been before, but the truth is that America is like a patient that has stage 4 cancer that has spread to almost every area of the body. Our nation is being destroyed in thousands of different ways, and more distressing news emerges with each passing day. This article will mainly focus on the economic decline of America, but much could also be said about our social, political, moral and spiritual decline as well. We are simply not the same country that we used to be. Americans are proud, selfish, greedy, arrogant, ungrateful, treacherous and completely addicted to entertainment and pleasure. Our country is literally falling apart all around us, but most Americans are so plugged into entertainment that they can’t even be bothered to notice what is happening. Most Americans seem to assume that we will always have endless prosperity just because of who we are, but unfortunately that simply is not true. We inherited the greatest economic machine the world has ever seen and we have wrecked it, and now a very painful day of reckoning is approaching. But most people will not understand until it is too late.
The following are 34 signs that America is in decline…
#1 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001. That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011. That is not just a decline – that is a freefall. Just check out the chart in this article.
#2 According to The Economist, the United States was the best place in the world to be born into back in 1988. Today, the United States is only tied for 16th place.
#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.
#4 According to the Wall Street Journal, of the 40 biggest publicly traded corporate spenders, half of them plan to reduce capital expenditures in coming months.
#5 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.
#6 America once had the greatest manufacturing cities on the face of the earth. Now many of our formerly great manufacturing cities have degenerated into festering hellholes. For example, the city of Detroit is on the verge of financial collapse, and one state lawmaker is now saying that “dissolving Detroit” should be looked at as an option.
#7 In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent. Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.
#8 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.
#9 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.
#10 Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.
#11 Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.
#12 The U.S. trade deficit with China during 2011 was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990.
#13 Incredibly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shut down since 2001. During 2010, manufacturing facilities were shutting down at the rate of 23 per day. How can anyone say that “things are getting better” when our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted?
#14 Back in early 2005, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was less than 2 dollars a gallon. During 2012, the average price of a gallon of gasoline has been $3.63.
#15 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.
#16 As I have written about previously, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971 according to the Pew Research Center. Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are “middle income”.
#17 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing. That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.
#18 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.
#19 Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners in the United States had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned. By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.
#20 Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.
#21 Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.
#22 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.
#23 According to one survey, 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.
#24 Back in 1950, 78 percent of all households in the United States contained a married couple. Today, that number has declined to 48 percent.
#25 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that receives direct monetary benefits from the federal government. Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.
#26 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7 percent of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.
#27 In November 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps. Today, 47.1 million Americans are on food stamps.
#28 Right now, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
#29 As I wrote about the other day, according to one calculation the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
#30 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid, and things are about to get a whole lot worse. It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#31 In 2001, the U.S. national debt was less than 6 trillion dollars. Today, it is over 16 trillion dollars and it is increasing by more than 100 million dollars every single hour.
#32 The U.S. national debt is now more than 23 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.
#33 According to a PBS report from earlier this year, U.S. households that make $13,000 or less per year spend 9 percent of their incomes on lottery tickets. Could that possibly be accurate? Are people really that foolish?
#34 As the U.S. economy has declined, the American people have been downing more antidepressants and other prescription drugs than ever before. In fact, the American people spent 60 billion dollars more on prescription drugs in 2010 than they did in 2005.
So what are our “leaders” doing about all of this?
They just continue to insist that everything is “just fine”.
Sadly, the truth is that they live in a world that is very different from most of the rest of us.
Barack Obama is getting ready to take a 20 day vacation to Hawaii.
When was the last time you got to take a 20 day vacation?
And most of our “leaders” have no idea what it is like to struggle from month to month on a paycheck.
Overall, more than half of the members of Congress are millionaires. We are led by wealthy men who are serving the interests of other wealthy men.
But the problem with our system is not limited to the president and the members of Congress. The truth is that the political system in America has become a colossal beast that just continues to grow no matter who is in power. The political establishment of both parties is totally dependent on this beast, and they will continue to feed it and serve it because it has been very good to them. The following is from an outstanding article by Steve McCann…
The Republican and Democratic political establishments are made up of the following:
1) many current and nearly all retired national office holders whose livelihood and narcissistic demands depends upon fealty to Party and access to government largesse;
2) the majority of the media elite, including pundits, editors, writers and television news personalities based in Washington and New York whose proximity to power and access is vital to their continued standard of living;
3) academia, numerous think-tanks, so-called non-government organizations, and lobbyists who fasten onto those in the administration and Congress for employment, grants, favorable legislation and ego-gratification;
4) the reliable deep pocket political contributors and political consultants whose future is irrevocably tied to the political machinery of the Party; and
5) the crony capitalists, i.e. leaders of the corporate and financial community as well as unions whose entities are dependent on or subject to government oversight and/or benevolence .
Do you think that there is any chance that this insidious system will be uprooted any time soon?
Of course not.
We will continue on the same path that we are on right now and America will continue to decline.
Many will rejoice as America falls, but I will not.
I will mourn for a mighty Republic that has fallen and for a dream that has been lost.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the United States is a really weird place. Not that “weird” is always bad. Sometimes “weird” can keep life interesting. But without a doubt, the United States is one of the most unique nations in the history of the world. Some of the weird facts about the United States listed below may be difficult for you to believe. Others are likely to completely shock you. Hopefully there is a little something for everyone in this article, and hopefully you will learn some new things from reading it. I know that I certainly learned some new things as I wrote it. In general, everything tends to be larger in America. The people are larger, the cars are larger, the divorce rate is the highest on the planet and the U.S. government has piled up the largest debt in the history of the world. Whether America does something good or bad, it usually does it in a very “big” way. It is easy to love the United States and all the good that it has done, but it is also easy to be horrified by how far this nation has fallen and by the direction that this country is currently headed. So where does America go from here? That is a very good question.
The following are 40 weird facts about the United States that are almost too crazy to believe….
#1 The highest point in the state of Florida is only 345 feet (115 yards) above sea level.
#2 Today, 66 percent of all Americans are considered to be overweight.
#3 The state of Alaska is 429 times larger than the state of Rhode Island is. But Rhode Island has a significantly larger population than Alaska does.
#4 The average supermarket in the United States wastes about 3,000 pounds of food each year.
#5 Approximately 48 percent of all Americans are currently either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.
#6 Alaska has a longer coastline than all of the other 49 U.S. states put together.
#7 In the UK, an average of about $3,500 is spent on healthcare per person each year. In the United States, an average of about $8,500 is spent on healthcare per person each year.
#8 Montana has three times as many cows as it does people.
#9 The average U.S. citizen drinks the equivalent of more than 600 sodas each year.
#10 The only place in the United States where coffee is grown commercially is in Hawaii.
#11 The United States has 845 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people. Japan only has 593 for every 1,000 people and Germany only has 540 for every 1,000 people.
#12 The grizzly bear is the official state animal of California. But no grizzly bears have been seen there since 1922.
#13 For many years it was the other way around, but today a majority of all Americans (including Pat Robertson) actually support the legalization of marijuana.
#14 Jimmy Carter was the first U.S. president to have been born in a hospital.
#15 In the middle of the last century, the United States was #1 in the world in GDP per capita. Today, the United States is #13 in GDP per capita.
#16 Today, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.
#17 One survey found that 25 percent of all employees that have Internet access in the United States visit pornography websites while they are at work.
#18 In 2011, our trade deficit with China was more than 49,000 times larger than it was back in 1985.
#19 One out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.
#20 The city of Juneau, Alaska is about 3,000 square miles large. It is actually bigger than the entire state of Delaware.
#21 The United States puts a higher percentage of its population in prison than any other nation on earth does.
#22 There are more unemployed workers in the United States than there are people living in the entire nation of Greece.
#23 The original name of the city of Atlanta was “Terminus“.
#24 Sadly, more than 52 percent of all children that live in Cleveland, Ohio are living in poverty.
#25 The median price of a home in the city of Detroit is now about $6000.
#26 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.
#27 According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.
#28 According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, approximately 167,000 Americans have more than $200,000 of student loan debt.
#29 There are three towns in the United States that have the name “Santa Claus“.
#30 There are 313 million people living in the United States. 46 million of them are on food stamps.
#31 In the United States as a whole, one out of every four children is on food stamps.
#32 In 1940, 68.0% of all women in the 20 to 34 year old age group in the United States were married. In 2010, only 39.2% of women in that age group were married.
#33 The United States has a teen pregnancy rate of 22 percent – the highest in the world. New Zealand is number two at 14 percent.
#34 According to the CDC, there are 19 million new cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia in the United States every single year.
#35 The United States has the highest divorce rate on the globe by a wide margin. Puerto Rico is number two. Perhaps Puerto Rico really would fit in as the 51st state.
#36 More people have been diagnosed with mental disorders in the United States than in any other nation on earth.
#37 The United States has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain.
#38 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.
#39 The U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.
#40 It took from the founding of the nation until 1981 for the U.S. national debt to cross the one trillion dollar mark. Today, our national debt is well over 15 trillion dollars and we add more than a trillion dollars to our debt every single year.
Do you have any other weird facts that you think should be added to this list? Please feel free to leave a comment with your feedback below….