Friday, January 24, 2014

The Ultimate Gift

Sunrise, January 22,2014
A journey may be long or short,
but it must start 
at the very spot one finds oneself.
From The Ultimate Gift
By Jim Stovall

What's important in life? Is it a full bank account? Is it status? Or is it something less tangible?

Last fall, Randy went to a financial workshop in Great Bend sponsored by an area bank. One of the presenters recommended a book. It went on Randy's Christmas list, but it turned out to be a gift for both of us. (Thanks, Kathy!)

The book, The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall, is the fictional account of a young man named Jason. The book opens in a lawyer's office, where Jason and his relatives are all eagerly awaiting the disposition of Red Stevens' multi-billion dollar estate. One by one, Jason's relatives leave the room with some of the fortune.

Then, it's Jason's turn to sit with his Great Uncle Red's old lawyer and friend, Theodore Hamilton, and learn what treasures he'll receive from the estate. The lawyer puts a videotape into a machine and Great Uncle Red begins to talk to Jason.

To receive his portion of the fortune, Jason will have to learn a series of lessons and prove that he understands the concepts to the satisfaction of Red's old friend and lawyer. At any time he fails, Jason forfeits whatever wealth his Uncle Red has left for him.

Via video, Uncle Red says:
"I lived my life in a big way. I had a lot of big accomplishments, and I made a lot of big mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was when I gave everyone in our family everything they thought they ever wanted. It took me many years to figure out that everything we ever do or know or have in this life is a gift from the good Lord. He has a special plan for each of us, and He has provided everything we need to fulfill that plan. ... Only as an old man did I come to learn that all happiness comes from the gifts that God has given us ... not from money or possessions."
At the beginning of each month, Jason must meet with Ted Hamilton and listen to the "gift" from his Uncle Red. Jason is none too thrilled that he has to jump through all these hoops with no guarantee that he'll ever get any of the billion dollars in loot.

But, as the lessons go on, month after month, there's a change in Jason. And the lessons were food for thought for a couple of Kansas farmers, too. We both highly recommend the book. (I understand there's a movie based on the book, too, but I always choose the book over the movie.)

While there's much more to the lessons than just this brief synopsis, the book's message has stayed with me. So, here are the gifts, illustrated with my photos:
The Gift of Work:  
He who loves his work never labors.

The Gift of Money: 
Money is nothing more than a tool.
 It can be a force for good, a force for evil, or simply be idle.

The Gift of Friends:
 It is a wealthy person, indeed, 
who calculates riches not in gold but in friends.

The Gift of Learning: 
Education is a lifelong journey 
whose destination expands as you travel.

The Gift of Problems: 
Problems can only be avoided by exercising good judgment. 
Good judgment can only be gained by experiencing life's problems.

The Gift of Family: 
Some people are born into wonderful families. 
Others have to find or create them. 
Being a member of a family is a priceless privilege 
which costs nothing but love.

The Gift of Laughter:
 Laughter is good medicine for the soul. 
Our world is desperately in need of more such medicine.

The Gift of Dreams:
 Faith is all that dreamers need to see into the future.

 The Gift of Giving: 
The only way you can truly get more out of life for yourself
 is to give part of yourself away.

The Gift of Gratitude:
 In those times when we yearn to have more in our lives,
 we should dwell on the things we already have. 
In doing so, we will often find that our lives are already full to overflowing.

The Gift of a Day: 
 Life at its essence boils down to one day at a time. Today is the day!

The Gift of Love: 
 Love is a treasure for which we can never pay. 
The only way we keep it is to give it away.

The Ultimate Gift:
  In the end, life lived to its fullest
 is its own ultimate gift.

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