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We Are All Like Nicky

SHARED WITH PERMISSION FROM A FRIEND WHO SAYS: As a special educator I was fortunate to work with many Nicky’s. Each has been a blessing to me and I’ve remained friends with many of them and their families over the years!!!
🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

Not just the holidays, every day….

🎄 In 1979, I was managing a Wendy’s in Port Richey Florida.
Unlike today, staffing was never a real problem, but I was searching for a someone to work three hours a day only at lunch.
I went thru all my applications and most were all looking for full time or at least 20 hours per week.
I found one however, buried at the bottom of a four-inch stack that was only looking for lunch part-time.
His name was Nicky.
Hadn’t met him but thought I would give him a call and see if he could stop by for an interview. When I called, he wasn’t in but his mom said she would make sure he would be there.
At the accorded time, Nicky walked in.
One of those moments when my heart went in my throat.
Nicky suffered from Downs Syndrome.
His physical appearance was a giveaway and his speech only reinforced the obvious.
I was young and sheltered. Had never interacted on a professional level with a developmentally disabled person.
I had no clue what to do, so I went ahead and interviewed him.
He was a wonderful young man. Great outlook.
Task focused.
Excited to be alive. For only reasons God knew at that time, I hired him.
3 hours a day, 3 days a week to run a grill.
I let the staff know what to expect.
Predictably the crew made sure I got the message, ” no one wants to work with a retard.”
To this day I find that word offensive.
We had a crew meeting, cleared the air, and prepared for his arrival.
Nicky showed up for work right on time.
He was so excited to be working. He stood at the time clock literally shaking with anticipation.
He clocked in and started his training.
Couldn’t multi task, but was a machine on the grill.
Now for the fascinating part…..
Back in that day, there were no computer screens to work from. Every order was called by the cashier.
It required a great deal of concentration on the part of all production staff to get the order right.
While Nicky was training during his first shift, the sandwich maker next to him asked the grillman/trainer what was on the next sandwich.
Nicky replied,”single, no pickle no onion.”
A few minutes later it happened again.
It was then that we discovered Nicky had a hidden and valuable skill.
He memorized everything he heard! 
Photographic hearing!
WHAT A SKILL SET.
It took 3 days and every sandwich maker requested to work with Nicky.
He immediately was accepted by the entire crew.
After his shift he would join the rest of his crew family, drinking Coke like it was water! It was then that they discovered another Rainman-esque trait. Nicky was a walking/talking perpetual calendar!
With a perpetual calendar as a reference, they would sit for hours asking him what day of the week was December 22, 1847. He never missed.
This uncanny trait mesmerized the crew.
His mom would come in at 2 to pick him up.
More times than not, the crew would be back there with him hamming it up.
As I went to get him from the back, his mom said something I will never forget.
“Let him stay there as long as he wants.
He has never been accepted anywhere like he has been here.”
I excused myself and dried my eyes, humbled and broken hearted at the lesson I just learned.
Nicky had a profound impact on that store.
His presence changed a lot of people.
Today I believe with every fiber of my body that Nicky’s hiring was no accident.
God’s Timing and Will is Perfect.
This Christmas, I hope we all understand what we are celebrating.
We are all like Nicky.
We each have our shortcomings. We each have our strong points. But we are all of value.
God made us that way and God doesn’t make mistakes.
Nicky certainly wasn’t a mistake. He was a valuable gift that I am forever grateful for.
We are celebrating the birth of the ONE that leveled the playing field for all of us.
God doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, republican or democrat or black or white.
He doesn’t care if your chromosome structure is perfect.
He doesn’t care what level of education you have attained.
He cares about your heart.
He wants us all to love and appreciate the gift HE gave us on Christmas, His son, the Savior, our salvation.
His Son that was born to die for our sins.
To pay our debt.
To provide us a path for eternity.
So this Christmas, lets check our hearts.
There is a little bit of Nicky in all of us and I suspect there is a Nicky somewhere in your life that is looking for the chance to be embraced.
Thank God for that.
Thank God for His perfect gift, Christ Jesus.
Merry Christmas. 🎄

An Invite You Can Use

Come as you are

See what you become

That’s part of an ad for St. Louis Community College.

Sounds to me like an invitation to the good news of the Gospel that you could also use to bring someone with you to church.

Come as you are

See what you become

How about you?

What, Me? Thankful? part 7

Wrapping this up, again all still from the Harvard School of Medicine —

PREVIOUSLY Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

AND Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

AND Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.

AND Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

AND Pray. People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.

TO CONCLUDE Meditate. 

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment.

Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”), it is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).

— As always, I’d love to hear from about how you’re incorporating one or more of these into your life.

Please hit me up, using any of today’s regular platforms.

See you back here tomorrow.

What, Me? Thankful? part 6

No, we’re not finished. And yes, these still come directly from the Harvard School of Medicine —

PREVIOUSLY Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

AND Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

AND Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.

AND Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

TODAY Pray. 

People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.

You and I both know that people who are religious can also use prayer for other purposes entirely. See Luke 18:9-14 for what Christ Jesus says about this.

And then by contrast….

What, Me? Thankful? part 5

Picking up where we left off last week in the Health Letter from the Harvard School of Medicine

PREVIOUSLY Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

AND Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

AND Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.

AND THAT LAST ONE GOES PERFECTLY WITH TODAY’S Count your blessings. 

Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for.

Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week.

As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

Julia Cameron and others stress the necessity of doing such things old school, i.e., with a pen/pencil and in a notebook.

I agree.

What, Me? Thankful? part 4

Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis, again directly from The Harvard School of Medicine —

PREVIOUSLY IN THIS SERIES Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

AND Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

NEW TODAY Keep a gratitude journal. 

Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.

These are do-able.

You are worth your effort.

What, Me? Thankful? part 3

Same source, ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.

FROM YESTERDAY:Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

NEW TODAY: Thank someone mentally. 

No time to write?

It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

There’s that same song!

Name them one by one.

Whose names are on your list?

What, Me? Thankful? part 2

Here’s one way to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis, again straight from The Harvard School of Medicine

Write a thank-you note. 

You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life.

Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible.

Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month.

Once in a while, write one to yourself.

— Come back tomorrow for more simple powerful ideas to put into practice?

Or, should that be simply powerful ideas to put into practice?

What, Me? Thankful?

I’m lifting several things straight from The Health Letter that comes from The Harvard School of Medicine. Let’s jump in with both feet —

Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met.

Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack.

And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.

Starting tomorrow, you and and I’ll look at several ways to grow in this practice.

Meanwhile, I keep hearing an old song playing somewhere in the back of my head, or maybe it’s my heart:

Count your blessings,

name them one by one.

The Best Surprises

“The best surprises are found where you least expect them.”

Sounds like something from the first part of my 9am sermon yesterday morning with Jane Peters.

In fact it’s from a Lowe’s tv commercial that ran at the two minute warning break of the Cincinnati–Pittsburgh game late yesterday afternoon.

This week, as we approach Thanksgiving, let’s be on the lookout for God’s gifts of unexpectedly delightful surprises in the midst of the ordinary.

Deal?