WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?

During one of my trips to Israel, I had the awesome experience of wading out into the Dead Sea-the lowest place on earth. I was captivated by its beauty yet highly aware and extremely cautious of the high salinity of this body of water. In fact, at one point I gasped in alarm as the stinging waters splashed into my eyes.

True to its name the Dead Sea is dying. Although it is being fed by the Jordan River, there is no outflow of waters from it. Thus, it is shrinking at an alarming rate. Its salt levels are so high that neither plants nor animals can survive within it. Nevertheless, within its depths lies precious minerals used in various anti-aging, cosmetic and healing products since the time of ancient Egypt.

Just as water flows in from the Jordan River, it not only stops there, but it is evaporating at an exceptional rate. In that respect lies a striking similarity between the Dead Sea and those who bask in the beauty and blessings of this life, yet fail to share those blessings with others.

We are all blessed with precious gifts and talents. Yet how often do we fail to recognize them? How often, due to procrastination, fear of failure or simply a negative attitude, do we allow them to lie dormant within ourselves simply failing to share them?

For those who have done just that, what did the world miss? Without the paintings, sculptures and architecture of Michelangelo, generations would be deprived of the beauty he left for this world, but even more generations of artists to follow him would have failed to have been inspired by his works. Had Thomas Edison not pursued/shared his talents he would not have invented the light bulb, phonograph, motion picture camera, and so many other modern contributions or held 1,093 patents in his name. On a very different, yet just as significant scale is the example of Mother Teresa and how she most humbly lived her life to simply care for others.

What lies within each and every one of us is precious. Yet with the distractions of this world, we tend to allow the days to pass without seeking, discovering and using those gifts. Don’t let another day pass without striving to share your God given gifts with another. It may be as simple as brightening one’s day with a kind word, compliment or a smile; listening to someone who is obviously troubled; apologizing for a misunderstanding (not a sign of weakness, but one of courage); sending a card or taking a meal to someone who is ill; giving respect and/or aid to a homeless outcast; or simply praying for one in need. However small the gesture, make a conscious effort of seeking out ways to serve, and the heartwarming response will change your life and the lives of those around you. Yes, if we open our hearts to understand and encourage our fellow travelers of this world, our gifts will not only be revealed to us, but will blossom exponentially. Your compassion for others may just give them the hope they felt was forever lost.

What makes you happy? What makes you feel the most alive? Within the answers to those questions lies the gifts of your heart. I believe you will find the answers in those examples above. You will experience happiness through what eventually becomes unconscious habits to make others happy. For it is there you will find your true passion. No matter what age or walk of life you may find yourself, there is the time and the opportunity to discover that passion and live life to the fullest. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “for it is in giving that we receive.” Thus, it is when we love that we receive love in return. That is the greatest gift of all.

The above analogy doesn’t end there. Interestingly enough man has intervened to attempt to save the Dead Sea by running a pipeline between it and the Red sea. We too can bring renewed lifelines to each other as we share the love of God through the smallest and simplest gestures in life. Just as His Divine presence lives within each of us, we must continue to ask him to lead us to the ones who need us each day. For it is there we will find our passion, our true happiness.

Today on All Saints Day, let us remember all those holy souls who lived their passion for bringing God’s heart and spirit to us. May their examples be a lifeline to us all!

Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Is there someone who has been on your mind? Take a few minutes to stop and listen to your spirit. For it is there in the silence of your heart that you will find guidance, answers, specific direction and peace.

If there is something you’ve been longing to do, take that first step. That is always the most difficult. Once the process is in motion, you are on your way to accomplishing that dream.

If someone is on your mind, reach out to them. They may need comfort, encouragement or just need to know they have a friend who cares. On the other hand, they may have some specific wisdom to share with you. Nevertheless, there is a reason they were on your mind.

Just as the scripture from Esther reveals that “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created”. Each and every moment of your life is an opportunity to live your purpose.

“took the road less traveled by…”

May 2018 by Penelope (Penny) Martin

Celebrating 20 years!

As I began to savor a yummy Dove chocolate, I glanced down to read the quote on the red foil wrapper… “Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations”.  I then flashbacked to the breathtaking scenery Jim and I witnessed as we traveled throughout Utah on our vacation last summer.  Driving through the treacherous roads woven amongst the red rocks to the Grand Canyon and its immense beauty, we were led to the most magnificent of views.  Had we stayed on the main interstates, we surely would have seen some amazingly beautiful sights off in the distance.  However, as we traveled through the narrow, perilous side roads, each new turn revealed to us what seemed to a more spectacular view than the one before.

We couldn’t help but think of how the early settlers of this country traveled throughout and explored such rugged territory including the Grand Canyon…how they struggled through not only the most treacherous terrain, but the harshest weather as well. Yet in spite of such adversity, they remained intent upon establishing a new life.  Their difficult path led them to, not only a land of beauty, but to the new life they were seeking.

So it is with life. If we take the easy road, we may be able to coast along.  But is that good enough?  Perhaps our life’s destination might be just okay, but don’t we want more than just okay?  Don’t we want to experience the utmost joy and beauty of life?

Holy Land Stone Company is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year!

When I look back to the early days of HLSC, I realize how little we knew about what we were about to undertake. Although we had Jim’s vision (providing a piece of Jerusalem Stone to remind us of our faith and religious heritage), we had no idea where this road would lead.   We ventured out into an industry completely unfamiliar to us with an entirely unique product line.  Yet we found it to be one that not only reminds us of our faith, but one that encourages us, inspires us and brings us together as a family of God, reminding us that we are His and He is always with us. I believe as Robert Frost wrote, we “took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

It is and has been a challenging and at times quite difficult road, yet one filled with beauty, hope, and so many heartwarming experiences. We see God’s hand at work in our customers, suppliers, employees and all those who walk this road with us.  This journey has and continues to make my life more fulfilling.  I wouldn’t have wanted to have miss out on any of it.  I wouldn’t have wanted to take an alternative, easier road.

As you walk the road of life, do you see a clear, smooth path or do you feel the struggles of life blocking your pathway to peace? At those times when the road becomes rough and you fear you may have lost your way, always remember it is those very struggles that develop your character and give you the compassion and wisdom to guide others through their difficult roads.  And most importantly, as you seek God’s guidance, you will discover His hand leading you through your uncertainty.

As we commemorate HLSC’s milestone, I thank you for traveling with us. May the road of life lead you to the most beautiful of destinations, and may you find inspiration and hope with every turn… perhaps even within the midst of a chocolate break!

In conjunction with our 20th anniversary commemoration, we are pleased to introduce our newly designed website:

It is with gratitude and love we say “see you later” to our dear friend Hope Lockwood who is retiring from Holy Land Stone after 12 years. Many of you know Hope for her joyful demeanor and eagerness to help as she greeted phone/in-house customers. In addition to her many contributions to HLSC, she served as our final quality control inspector as she packed orders. She always went the extra mile and prayed for those who were to receive each order. We will miss you, Hope, but know you will enjoy your retirement!

Have a blessed month!

Penny & the Holy Land Stone Team

Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right.

April 2018 by Penelope (Penny) Martin

A man was passing by an encampment of elephants.  They were not confined in cages, but rather each one’s single leg was tied to a simple rope.  The gentleman was puzzled as to why the elephants in their massive size and strength would not simply break free from their ropes and escape.  Thus, he asked the trainer why they just stood there without escaping.

The trainer explained how the young elephant calves are tied to a strong rope to restrain them.  They tug and struggle relentlessly until eventually they submit to the confines of the rope.  As they grow, they remain tied to this same size rope. As a result the elephants become bound by a false belief in their hopeless restrictions…a false reality that permeates into the very depths of their spirits.

Quite often we too hang on to false beliefs that have become ingrained into our subconscious.  Perhaps there were words of defeat spoken to us as children or throughout difficult times of our lives.  Perhaps years of negativity experienced throughout a relationship has left us with feelings of inadequacy and a false perception of who we truly are.  Or perhaps we may have gone through a series of trials that have left us defeated and somewhat cynical.

Nevertheless beneath the confines of our mind’s limitations, lies a world of hope.   Beyond the restraints of our false fears lies a life of unlimited possibilities.  In order to discover what truly lies within us, we must break free from these fears and restrictions.   As children of God created, not for failure, but for victory, we must soar beyond any past defeats knowing He will guide us toward becoming the person He intended us to become.

It takes time to shed those misconceptions. However, regardless of our age or stage of life, each new day is an opportunity to make a conscious effort to grow towards the truth.  We must decide each morning to step out of our comfort zone and do something new (i.e. reach out to meet with someone who has been on our mind; offer to help a difficult co-worker; volunteer at church, school, nonprofit, etc.; take someone to their doctor’s appointment; learn a new hobby; take a public speaking course, etc.).   It need be nothing on a grandiose scale…a simple act of kindness will do.

“We can do no great things, but only small things with great love.” —St. Teresa of Calcutta

 I guarantee you a bit of discomfort will bring a profound sense of accomplishment and inspire you to overcome your limitations.  Set your goals.  Begin with baby steps, and you will gain the confidence and satisfaction to stretch yourself even further.  Then at the end of each day, bask in your accomplishments and plan your next step.

 

God of deep waters and infinite riches, challenge me to go where I fear, to do what is difficult and what I thought could never be done. Push me to go to the deep waters of life and cast my net wide, for I put all my hope, trust and faith in you.Matthew Kelly

A couple of years ago after taking up horseback riding, I came to recognize a parallel between life and a particular aspect of my riding.  At times I have a tendency to look down while riding.  Whether I’m trying to gauge the position of my reins or watch my horse, my trainer is constantly “hollering” at me to “stop looking down and look up!”  He reminds me to look up in the direction of where I want to go, and then warns me if I look down, that is exactly where I’ll end up…on the ground!

So it is with life as well.  We must look up and focus on our future. Don’t look back at what you thought you couldn’t possibly do, but look forward to the unlimited possibilities God has placed before you.

The elephants were conditioned to believe they couldn’t escape.  Had they stepped out beyond the confines of their ropes, they would have discovered their freedom.  However, they remained trapped in the prisons of their minds.  We, however, through the grace and power of God, have the ability to defeat our fears and limitations.

Today is a new day…a day to discover what is holding you back and to face your self-doubts–leaving them forever behind you.  So don’t waste another moment.  Step out in faith, and never look back!