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.
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.
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