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October 30, 1995

Laymen at several city churches have weekly devotional breakfasts where they take turns bringing an inspirational thought, a prayer time and perhaps even a song or two to set the right tone for the day. Today's column contains an origi­nal piece written by a Perry churchman for one of those groups and it contains some thoughts that I believe would be helpful to all of us. Notice especially his suggestions about ap­preciating the little things in life. The writer wants to remain anonymous and I respect his wishes. The rest of today's col­umn is his:

"The Ultimate Compliment"

The green and warmth of spring and summer change into the autumn crispness and crystals of winter.

The hairs on our head from full and colorful, change to not so full and silver.

Our families, from young and all-consuming, to weaned and spread across the land like pollen through a field.

As life takes us down the path of so many changes, it's always refreshing to meet someone from years gone by that as we talk to them we find ourselves giving them the ultimate compliment, "You haven't changed a bit."

When we hear those words, what is it that makes them feel like such a compliment:

It's usually because we understand and remember the goodness in those people from years gone by. We understand all of the changes that have occurred in those people's lives. We understand all of the challenges, joys, tragedies and successes they have experienced.

Yet through it all, their wonderful spirit for life and love of all that is good still remains. And so we compliment those people by saying, "You haven't changed a bit."

We've all seen the other side of this situation, an old friend who has gone through many changes in life, and has been unable to remember his/her roots. And it only takes a few minutes to discover that he/she has "changed." It's not a pleasant thought, but one that should teach us some simple lessons.

God knows who we are; we are not "changed" in His eyes. From the time we are born until He comes to take us home, God knows who we are. He knows we are weak, he knows we sin. But he gives us the tools to remain strong and the understanding of what is good.

It is our challenge in life, through our actions, our words, and the spirit in which we share our lives to maintain our steadfast understanding of what is good.

It is in service to God that we should love those around us the same now as we did before. And remember how to appreciate the little things in life, as we did before....

Take time to help a stranger, as we did before.
Whistle a tune for no reason at all, as we did before.
Overtip a waitress.
Compliment someone for a job well done.
Say "Thank you," a lot.
While watching a sunrise, say a prayer.
Always wave at kids on a school bus.
Mow a neighbor's lawn when he's on vacation.
Send a card to an old friend.
Send flowers to a loved one without a reason.
Laugh a lot.

All those things that we used to do, and that's how people knew us.

"Who we are" is always on the table being observed by God and those around us to determine if we have changed. Through out successes or failures in life, have we changed? It is not always easy for us to know if we've changed, but our friends know and God knows.

Fortunately, God never changes. It is His words and wisdom that are always there to comfort us and remind us to do things as He would have us do them. (Hebrews 1:9-12)

As we are all unchanged children in God's eyes, let us use the example of a child's innocent spirit and love of life to make sure those around us can give us the ultimate compliment, "You've not changed one bit."