My friend, Jan, worked directly with three-year old severe special needs children in Fulton County for the past several years. Jan is the one who introduced me to Pete, the Cat, a character she had read about again and again with her students. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes is the début picture book of author Eric Litwin, and the illustrator is James Dean.
Don’t let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.“ Anonymous
This story pleased and satisfied this little group of preschoolers, regardless of how many times they heard it.
A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn.” Anonymous
While Pete’s circumstances can in no way be compared to the young woman in the following story’s life journey, both are examples of learning how to respond to our circumstances.
Life is not always a bed of roses. Thorns help you to appreciate the flower. Hardship helps one appreciate the beauty of life.” Cherlynn Shakespeare
This is a lesson we must work on with our growing children and grandchildren, because as adults, we know, “Life is not always a bed of roses!” Helping our children to see this early on will help them immensely in their future.
Smooth sailing do not make skillful sailors.” African Proverb
Not ‘rescuing our children’ when life’s circumstances take an unexpected turn will empower them and strengthen them to go forge ahead amidst disappointment.
Another friend, also named Jan (W.), posted the following story on Facebook recently and we both agreed that when going through a tough time, it is imperative to stop and make a conscious decision about our reaction. To stop and decide: Will I be an egg, a carrot, or coffee?
Thanks for this story, Jan. This is a good lesson for all of us, no matter what stage of life we are in. You’ll see what I mean.
A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her – her husband had cheated on her and she was devastated. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’
‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.
Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.
Finally, the grandmother asked the granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, grandmother?’
Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?
How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.
The man with a toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound. The poverty-stricken man makes the same mistake about the rich man.” George Bernard Shaw
The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.
When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.
May we all be like the COFFEE.
Thanks to Eric Litwin and James Dean for following their dream and writing
The Next time we face adversity,
let’s think about Pete and how to best respond!