Have you ever wondered why the flag of the United States of America is folded 13 times when it is lowered or when it is folded and handed to the widow at the burial of a veteran?
Here is the meaning of each of those folds and what it means to you.
The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of all the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.
The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."
The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day.
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation's motto, "In God We Trust".
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.
The next time you see a flag ceremony honoring someone that has served our country, either in the Armed Forces or in our civilian services such as the Police Force or Fire Department, keep in mind all the important reasons behind each and every movement.
They have paid the ultimate sacrifice for all of us by honoring our flag and our Country.
Keep the fork
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and was given 3 months to live. As she began getting her things in order, she called her pastor and asked for him to come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she wanted read, and what dress she wanted to be buried in. She also requested to be buried with her favorite Bible in her left hand. Everything was in order and as the pastor was preparing to leave, the woman suddenly remembered one final request that was very important to her. Please Pastor, just one more thing, she said excitedly. Sure, What is it came the pastor's reply. This is very important to me, the woman continued..... I want to be buried holding a fork in my right hand. The pastor gazed at the woman, with a loss for words. That surprises you, doesn't it ? the woman asked. The pastor replied Well to be quite honest, I'm puzzled by the request . The woman explained. You see, Pastor, in all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I remember that when the dishes were being cleared after the main course, someone would inevitably lean over to me and say, 'Keep your Fork'... it was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming, like velvety chocolate cake or deep dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance to end the great meal . The pastor listened intently and a smile came upon his face. The woman continued, So, I just want people to see me there in the casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder....'What's with the fork?'...then I want you to tell them: Keep your Fork......the best is yet to come .
The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman goodbye. He knew that this would be one of the last times that he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of Heaven than he did. She KNEW and trusted that the best was yet to come.
At the funeral, everyone that walked by the woman's casket saw her wearing a beautiful dress with her favorite Bible held in her left hand and a fork held in her right hand. Over and Over the pastor heard people ask the question, Why is she holding a fork? and his smile began to get larger and brighter each time. During his message, the pastor told the people about the conversation that he had with the woman shortly before she died. He explained the fork and what it symbolized to her. The Pastor told everyone how he could not stop thinking about the fork and how he hoped that they would not be able to stop thinking about it either.
That fork and the meaning of it to the woman had quite the impact on everyone and they are still sharing the story with people they meet. Now it has been shared with you......so the next time you reach for your fork, let it remind you, oh so gently, that the best is yet to come...
In a university commencement address several years ago, Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca Cola Enterprises, spoke of the relation of work to one's other commitments:
"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them - work, family, health, friends and spirit and you're keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls - family, health, friends and spirit - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life."
The Room With A View
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window.
The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods when his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he himself never got to see anything? It didn't seem fair. At first thought the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window - that thought, and only that thought now controlled his life.
Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running in. In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped, along with that the sound of breathing. Now there was only silence-deathly silence.
The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take it away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. . .
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased room mate to describe such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
Epilogue. . . .
You can interpret the story in any way you like. But one moral stands out: There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can't buy. . .
A wise man
A LOVE STORY - Sufi Style
One day, I woke up
early in the morning to watch the sunrise.
Ah, the beauty of God's creation is beyond description.
As I watched, I praised God for the beautiful work.
As I sat there, I felt the Lord's presence with me.
He asked me, "Do you love me ?"
I answered, "Of course God! You are my Lord!"
Then He asked, "If you were physically handicapped, would you still love me ?"
I was perplexed. I looked down upon my arms, legs and the rest of my Body and wondered how many things I wouldn't be able to do, the things....I took for granted.
And I answered, "It would be tough Lord, but I would still love you."
Then the Lord said, "If you were blind, would you still love my creation ?"
How could I love something without being able to see it ?
Then I thought of all the blind people in the world and how many of them still loved God and his creation. So I answered, "Its hard to think of it, but I would still love you."
The Lord then asked me, "If you were deaf, would you still listen to my word ?"
How could I listen to anything, being deaf ? Then I understood. Listening to God's word is not merely using our ears but our hearts. I answered, "It would be tough but I would still listen to your words."
The Lord then asked, "If you were mute, would you still praise my Name ?"
How could I praise without a voice ? Then it occurred to me: God wants us to sing from our very heart and soul. It never matters what we sound like. So I answered, "Though I could not physically sing, I would still praise your Name."
And the Lord asked, "Do you really love me ?"
With courage and a strong conviction, I answered boldly, "Yes Lord! I love you because you are the one and true God!" I thought that I had answered well......
But God asked, "Then why do you sin ?"
I answered, "Because I am only human, I am not perfect."
"Then why do in times of peace you stray the furthest ? And why only in times of trouble do you pray the earnest ?"
No answer. Only tears.
The Lord continued: Why only pray at fellowships and retreats? Why seek me only in times of worship? Why ask things so selfishly? Why ask things so unfaithfully?
The tears continued to roll down my cheeks.
Why are you ashamed of Me?
Why are you not spreading the good news?
Why in times of persecution, you cry to others when I offer My shoulders to cry on? Why make excuses when I give you opportunities to serve in My Name?
I tried to answer but there was no answer to give.
You are blessed with life.
I made you not throw this gift away.
I have blessed you with talents to serve me, but you continue to turn away. I have revealed My word to you, but you do not gain in knowledge. I have spoken to you, but you ears were closed. I have shown my blessings to you, but your eyes were turned away. I have sent you servants, but you sat idly as they were pushed away. I have heard your prayers and I have answered them all. Do you truly love Me?
I could not answer.
How could I ?
I was embarrassed beyond belief.
I had no excuse.
What could I say to this ?
When my heart had cried out, and the tears had flowed, I said, "Please
forgive me Lord. I am unworthy to be your servant."
The Lord answered, "That is my grace, my servant."
I asked, "Then why
do you continue to forgive me?
Why do you love me so ?
The Lord answered,
"Because you are my creation.
I will never abandon you.
When you cry, I will have compassion and cry with you.
When you shout with joy, I will laugh with you.
When you are down, I will encourage you.
When you fall, I will raise you up.
When you are tired, I will carry you.
I will be with you till the end of the days and I will love you forever."
Never had I cried
so hard before.
How could I have been so cold.
And for the first time, I truly prayed.
There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail into the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.
The Destination is Now
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We are traveling by train. Out the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of children waving at a crossing, cattle grazing on a distant hillside, row upon row of corn and wheat, flatlands and valleys, mountains and rolling hillsides and city skylines.
But uppermost in our minds, is the final destination. On a certain day, we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there, our dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.
Restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes -- waiting, waiting, waiting, for the station. "When we reach the station, that will be it!" we cry. "When I'm 18." "When I buy a new 450sl Mercedes Benz!" "When I put the last kid through college." "When I have paid off the mortgage!" "When I get a promotion." "When I reach retirement, I shall live happily ever after!"
Sooner or later, we realize there is no station, no one place to arrive. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.
Relish the moment" is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118.34: "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."
It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad, it is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less.
Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
So often we don't pay attention to all the little things that God does to make himself real to us. God is ALWAYS there... and so real... but unfortunately... so often we "forget," or are in too much of a "hurry" to experience Him. I hope that you are reminded of God's awesomeness while reading this, and are encouraged in one way or another. Remember... God can use any thing, or person to demonstrate his love for you.
whispered, "God, speak to me"
And a meadowlark sang.
The child did not hear.
So the child yelled, "God, speak to me!"
And the thunder rolled across the sky
But the child did not listen.
The child looked
around and said,
"God let me see you" and a star shone brightly
But the child did not notice
And the child shouted,
"God show me a miracle!"
And a life was born but the child did not know.
So the child cried out in despair,
"Touch me God, and let me know you are here!"
And touched the child.
But the child brushed the butterfly away
And walked away unknowningly.
Heaven's Grocery Store
I was walking down
life's highway a long time ago.
One day I saw a sign that read, "HEAVEN'S GROCERY STORE".
As I got a little closer, the door came open wide,
And before I realized it, I was standing inside.
I saw a host of
ANGELS. They were standing everywhere.
One handed me a basket and said, "My Child, shop with care".
Everything a human needed was in that grocery store....
And what you couldn't carry, you could come back the next day for more.
First, I got some
PATIENCE; LOVE was in the same row.
Further down was UNDERSTANDING; you need that everywhere you go.
I got a box or two of WISDOM, a bag or two of FAITH.
I just couldn't miss the HOLY GHOST, for it was all over the place.
I stopped to get
some STRENGTH, and COURAGE, to help me run
By then my basket was getting full, but I remembered I needed some GRACE.
I didn't forget SALVATION, for SALVATION was free,
So I tried to get enough of that to save both you and me.
Then I started up
to the counter to pay my grocery bill,
For I thought I had everything to do the MASTER'S will.
As I went up the aisle, I saw PRAYER; I just had to put that in,
For I knew when I stepped outside, I would soon run into sin.
PEACE AND JOY were
plentiful; they were last on the shelf.
SONG and PRAISE were hanging near, so I just helped myself.
Then I said to the angel, "Now, how much do I owe?"
He smiled and said, "Just take them.... everywhere you go."
Again, I smiled and
said, "How much do I really owe?"
He smiled again and said, "MY CHILD, GOD PAID YOUR BILL....
A LONG, LONG TIME AGO."
Last week I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As we bowed our heads he said, "God is great, God is good. Thank you for the food, and I would thank you even more if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And liberty and justice for all! Amen!"
Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!"
Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?"
As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table.
He winked at my son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer."
Really?", my son asked.
Cross my heart"! Then in theatrical whisper, his eyes rolling to indicate the woman whose remark had started this whole thing, the man added,
Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."
Naturally, I bought my children ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment and then did something I will remember for the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and without a word walked over and placed it in front of the woman.
With a big smile he told her, "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes and my soul is good already!"
Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots, he didn't like them and anyway he didn't own any. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold.
Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend." Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far.
What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister, who ran the household in their mother's absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing.
Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to.
Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment. As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw.
His excitement quickly turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn't buy anything with only a dime. He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift.
The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering. Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you." As Bobby waited he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.
The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.
"That will be ten cents young man," the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime. Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime.
Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime! Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?" This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true.
Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, "Merry Christmas, son."
As he returned inside, the shop keepers wife walked out. "Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?"
Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, "A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.
"When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too, was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars. "When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses."
The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at all.
'Twas The Night Before Jesus Come
'Twas the night
before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there.
The children were
dressing to crawl into bed,
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap,
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.
When out of the
East there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!
When what to my
wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray
I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY!
The light of his
face made me cover my head
It was Jesus! Returning just like He had said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw him in spite of myself.
In the Book of Life
which He held in his hand,
Was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as he searched for my name;
When he said, "It's not here" my head hung in shame.
The people whose
names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound
While all the rest were left standing around.
I fell to my knees,
but it was too late;
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and cried as they rose out of sight,
OH, IF ONLY I HAD BEEN READY TONIGHT.
In the words of
this poem the meaning is clear,
The coming of Jesus is coming near.
There's only one life and when comes the last call
We'll find that the Bible was true after all!
The Important Things Life Teaches You...
~ 1 ~ Most Important Question
During my second month of night school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Obviously, this was some kind of joke... I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. "Absolutely," said the professor. "In your lives, in your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant.They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello'." I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.
~ 2 ~ Pickup in the Rain
One night, at 11:30 PM, an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her - generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote down his address, thanked him and drove away. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."
Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole
~ 3 ~ Always remember those who serve
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" "Fifty cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it. "How much is a dish of plain ice cream?" he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she said brusquely. The little boy again counted the coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and departed. When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies - her tip.
~ 4 ~ The Obstacle in Our Path
In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many others never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one's condition.
~ 5 ~ Giving Blood
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save Liz." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?" Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood.
By Francie Baltazar-Schwartz
Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"
He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"
Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, 'Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."
"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.
"Yes, it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life."
I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.
Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.
After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.
I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?"
I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live."
"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.
Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man.'
"I knew I needed to take action."
"What did you do?" I asked.
"Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breathe and yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them. 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."
Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.
We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.
We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.
The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.
For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin -- real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special -- special enough to spend your time -- and remember that time waits for no one.
So stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy: Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
Thought for the
Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching.
The Lord's Baseball Game
Bob was caught up in the spirit where he and the Lord stood by to observe a baseball game. The Lord's team was playing Satan's team. The Lord's team was at bat, the score was tied zero to zero, and it was the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs.
They continued to watch as a batter stepped up to the plate whose name was Love. Love swung at the first pitch and hit a single, because Love never fails. The next batter was named Faith, who also got a single because Faith works with Love. The next batter up was named Godly wisdom. Satan wound up and threw the first pitch; Godly Wisdom looked it over and let it pass, because Godly Wisdom does not swing at Satan's pitches. Ball one. Three more pitches and Godly Wisdom walked, because Godly wisdom never swings at Satan's throws. The bases were loaded.
The Lord then turned to Bob and told him He was now going to bring in His star player. Up to the plate stepped Grace. Bob said he sure did not look like much! Satan's whole team relaxed when they saw Grace. Thinking he had won the game, Satan wound up and fired his first pitch. To the shock of everyone, Grace hit the ball harder than anyone had ever seen. But Satan was not worried; his center fielder, the Prince of the air, let very few get by. He went up for the ball, but it went right through his glove, hit him on the head and sent him crashing on the ground; then it continued over the fence for a home run! The Lord's team won.
The Lord then asked Bob if he knew why Love, Faith, and Godly Wisdom could get on base but could not win the game. Bob answered that he did not know why. The Lord explained, "If your love, faith and wisdom had won the game you would think you had done it by yourself. Love, faith and wisdom will get you on base, but only My grace can get you home.
Are you listening?
Listen . . .
When I ask you to listen to me, and you start to give advice you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to I listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to I listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
Listen . . .
All I asked was that you listen, not talk or do - just hear me.
Advice is cheap; two cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I m not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and weakness.
But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and can get about the business of-understanding what's behind this irrational feeling.
And when that's clear, the answers are obvious and I don't need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what s behind them Perhaps that's why prayer works, sometimes, for some people because God is mute and he doesn t give advice or try to fix things-God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.
So, please, listen, and just hear me. And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn; and I listen to you.
A naturally therapeutic person is one who, by a natural response to those in pain, empowers them to realize their own healing potential lies within them, and never in the one who is helping or giving advice.
-- Jaquelyn Small, 1993
The Cookie Thief
A woman was waiting at an airport one night,
With several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shop,
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.
She was engrossed in her book, but happened to see,
That the man beside her, as bold as could be,
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between,
Which she tried to ignore, to avoid a scene.
She read, munched cookies, and watched the clock,
As the gutsy "cookie thief" diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
Thinking, "If I wasn't so nice, I'd blacken his eye!"
With each cookie she took, he took one too.
When only one was left, she wondered what he'd do.
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh,
He took the last cookie and broke it in half.
He offered her half, as he ate the other.
She snatched it from him and thought, "Oh brother,
This guy has some nerve, and he's also rude,
Why, he didn't even show any gratitude!"
She had never known when she has been so galled,
And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate,
Refusing to look back at the "thieving ingrate."
She boarded the plane and sank in her seat,
Then sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise:
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes!
"If mine are here," she moaned with despair,
"Then the others were his and he tried to share!"
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief!
Pots & Flaws
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you." "Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?" "I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."
Each of us has our own unique flaws. We re all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father's table. In God's great economy, nothing goes to waste.
LITTLE TEDDY STODDARD
There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie.
Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard. Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers. At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.
Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around.” His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.” His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken.” Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class.”
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present, which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.
Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.” After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became her “teacher's pet.”
A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life. Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer-the letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD. The story doesn't end there.
You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together. They hugged each, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.” Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you.”
Once upon a time, there was a child ready to be born.
One day he asked God: "They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?"
God: "Among the many angels, I chose one especially for you. She will be waiting for you and will take care of you."
Child: "But tell me, here in Heaven, I don't do anything else but sing and smile, and that's enough for me to be happy. Will I be happy there?”
God: "Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you every day. You will feel your angel's love and be happy."
Child: "How am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don't know the language that men talk?"
God: "Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear. With much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak."
Child: "And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?"
God: "Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray."
Child: "I've heard that on earth there are bad men. Who will protect me?"
God: "Your angel will defend you even if it means risking her own life."
Child: "But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore."
God: "Your angel will always talk to you about me and will teach you the way to come back to me, even though I will always be next to you."
At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from earth could already be heard. The child, in a hurry, asked softly:
"Oh God, if I am about to leave now, please tell me my angel's name."
God: "Your angel's
name is of no importance. You will call