Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.
Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
When his mother
asked him what he had said to the neighbor,
boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."
What It Means to Be Adopted
Moon's first graders were discussing a picture
of a family.
One little boy in the picture had a different color hair than the other
family members. One child suggested that he was adopted and a little
said, "I know all about adoptions because I was adopted." "What does it
mean to be adopted?" asked another child. "It means," said the girl,
you grew in your mommy's heart instead of her tummy."
A four year old was
at the pediatrician for a check up. As the
looked down her ears with an otoscope, he asked, "Do you think I'll
Big Bird in here?" The little girl stayed silent. Next, the doctor took
a tongue depressor and looked down her throat. He asked, "Do you think
I'll find the Cookie Monster down there?" Again, the little girl was
Then the doctor put a stethoscope to her chest. As he listened to her
beat, he asked, "Do you think I'll hear Barney in there?" "Oh, no!" the
little girl replied. "Jesus is in my heart. Barney's on my underpants."
As I was driving home from work one day, I stopped to watch a local Little League baseball game that was being played in a park near my home.
As I sat down
behind the bench on the first-base line, asked
the boys what the score was. "We're behind 14 to nothing," he answered
with a smile. "Really," I said. "I have to say you don't look very
"Discouraged?" the boy asked with a puzzled look on his face. "Why
we be discouraged? We haven't been up to bat yet."
Roles And How We Play Them
disappointed with my spot in my life, I stop and
about little Jamie Scott. Jamie was trying out for a part in a school
His mother told me that he'd set his heart on being in it, though she
he would not be chosen. On the day the parts were awarded, I went with
her to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining
pride and excitement. "Guess what Mom," he shouted, and then said those
words that will remain a lesson to me: "I've been chosen to clap and
A Lesson In Heart
A lesson in "heart"
is my little, 10 year old daughter, Sarah,
born with a muscle missing in her foot and wears a brace all the time.
She came home one beautiful spring day to tell me she had competed in
day" - that's where they have lots of races and other competitive
Because of her leg support, my mind raced as I tried to think of
for my Sarah, things I could say to her about not letting this get her
down - but before I could get a word out, she said "Daddy, I won two of
the races!" I couldn't believe it! And then Sarah said, "I had an
Ah. I knew it. I thought she must have been given a head start...some
of physical advantage. But again, before I could say anything, she
"Daddy, I didn't get a head start... My advantage was I had to try
An Eye Witness Account from New York City, on a cold day in December...
(Wishfully, this is the kind of thing that would happen frequently, everywhere...)
A little boy about 10 years old was standing before a shoe store on the roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and said, "My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?" "I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes," was the boys reply. The lady took him by the hand and went into the store and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel.
He quickly brought them to her. She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with a towel. By this time the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes. She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, "No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?"
As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face, with tears his eyes, answered the question with these words: "Are you God's Wife?"
The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps.
She paid the driver and, using her hands to feel the location of the seats, walked down the aisle and found the seat he'd told her was empty. Then she settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg.
It had been a year since Susan, thirty-four, became blind. Due to a medical misdiagnosis she had been rendered sightless, and she was suddenly thrown into a world of darkness, anger, frustration and self-pity. Once a fiercely independent woman, Susan now felt condemned by this terrible twist of fate to become a powerless, helpless burden on everyone around her.
"How could this have happened to me?" she would plead, her heart knotted with anger. But no matter how much she cried or ranted or prayed, she knew the painful truth her sight was never going to return. A cloud of depression hung over Susan's once optimistic spirit. Just getting through each day was an exercise in frustration and exhaustion.
And all she had to cling to was her husband Mark. Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Susan with all of his heart. When she first lost her sight, he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again. Mark's military background had trained him well to deal with sensitive situations, and yet he knew this was the most difficult battle he would ever face. Finally, Susan felt ready to return to her job, but how would she get there?
She used to take the bus, but was now too frightened to get around the city by herself. Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even though they worked at opposite ends of the city. At first, this comforted Susan and fulfilled Mark's need to protect his sightless wife who was so insecure about performing the slightest task.
Soon, however, Mark realized that this arrangement wasn't working - it was hectic, and costly. Susan is going to have to start taking the bus again, he admitted to himself. But just the thought of mentioning it to her made him cringe. She was still so fragile, so angry. How would she react? Just as Mark predicted, Susan was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again. "I'm blind!" she responded bitterly. "How am I supposed to know where I'm going? I feel like you're abandoning me." Mark's heart broke to hear these words, but he knew what had to be done. He promised Susan that each morning and evening he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that is exactly what happened.
For two solid weeks, Mark, military uniform and all, accompanied Susan to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses, specifically her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment. He helped her befriend the bus drivers who could watch out for her, and save her a seat. He made her laugh, even on those not-so-good days when she would trip exiting the bus, or drop her briefcase.
Each morning they made the journey together, and Mark would take a cab back to his office. Although this routine was even more costly and exhausting than the previous one, Mark knew it was only a matter of time before Susan would be able to ride the bus on her own. He believed in her, in the Susan he used to know before she'd lost her sight, who wasn't afraid of any challenge and who would never, ever quit.
Finally, Susan decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. Monday morning arrived, and before she left, she threw her arms around Mark, her temporary bus riding companion, her husband, and her best friend.
Her eyes filled with tears of gratitude for his loyalty, his patience, his love. She said good-bye, and for the first time, they went their separate ways.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday... Each day on her own went perfectly, and Susan had never felt better. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself!
On Friday morning, Susan took the bus to work as usual. As she was paying for her fare to exit the bus, the driver said, "Boy, I sure envy you."
Susan wasn't sure if the driver was speaking to her or not. After all, who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled just to find the courage to live for the past year? Curious, she asked the driver, "Why do you say that you envy me?"
The driver responded, "It must feel so good to be taken care of and protected like you are." Susan had no idea what the driver was talking about, and asked again, "What do you mean?"
The driver answered, "You know, every morning for the past week, a fine looking gentleman in a military uniform has been standing across the corner watching you when you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely and he watches you until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss, gives you a little salute and walks away. You are one lucky lady."
Tears of happiness poured down Susan's cheeks. For although she couldn't physically see him, she had always felt Mark's presence. She was lucky, so lucky, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a gift she didn't need to see to believe - the gift of love that can bring light where there had been darkness.
God watches over us in just the same way. We may not know He is present. We may not be able to see His face, but He is there nonetheless!
Be blessed in this thought: "God Loves You - even when you are not looking."
Words for the soul...
"Are there any questions?" An offer that comes at the end of college lectures and long meetings. Said when an audience is not only overdosed with information, but when there is no time left anyhow. At times like that you sure do have questions. Like, "Can we leave now?" and "What the hell was this meeting for anyhow?" and "Where can I get a drink?" The gesture is supposed to indicate openness on the part of the speaker, I suppose, but if in fact you do ask a question, both the speaker and the audience will give you drop-dead looks. And some fool--some earnest idiot--always asks. And the speaker always answers. By repeating most of what he has already said.
But if there is a little time left and there is a little silence in response to the invitation, I usually ask the most important question of all: "What is the meaning of life?"
You never know - somebody may have the answer, and I'd really hate to miss usually taken as a kind of absurdist move - people laugh and nod and gather up their stuff and the meeting is dismissed on that ridiculous note.
One, and only once, I asked the question and got a serious answer. One that is with me still.
I went to an institute dedicated to human understanding and peace on the isle of Crete. At the last session on the last morning of a two-week seminar on Greek culture, led by intellectuals and experts in their fields, Alexander Papaderos rose from his chair at the back of the room and walked to the front, where he stood in the bright Greek sunlight of an open window and looked out. We followed his gaze across the bay to the iron cross marking a German cemetery from W.W.II. He turned and made the ritual gesture: "Are there any questions?"
Quiet quilted the room. These two weeks had generated enough questions for a lifetime, but for now there was only silence. "No questions?" Papaderos swept the room with his eyes. So, I asked. "Dr. Papaderos, what is the meaning of life?" The usual laughter followed, and people stirred to go. Papaderos held up his hand and stilled the room and looked at me for a long time, asking with his eyes if I was serious, and seeing from my eyes that I was.
"I will answer your question." Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into his leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. And what he said went like this:
"When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place. I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone, I made it round.
I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine - in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find. I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game, but a metaphor for what I might do with my life.
I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light - truth, understanding, knowledge - is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it. I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have, I can reflect light into the dark places of this world - into the black places in the hearts of men - and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life."
And then he took his small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and reflected them onto my face and onto my hands folded on the desk.
Much of what I experienced in the way of information about Greek culture and history that summer is gone from memory. But in the wallet of my mind I carry a small round mirror still.
Are there any questions????
Growing Good Corn
James Bender, in his book *How to Talk Well* (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1994) relates the story of a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it.
The reporter discovered that the farmer shared is seed corn with his neighbors. "How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?" the reporter asked.
"Why sir," said the farmer, "didn't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn."
He is very much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor's corn also improves.
So it is in other dimensions. Those who choose to be at peace must help their neighbors to be at peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.
The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbors grow good corn.
Freedom & Responsibility
I don't know the validity of this creation, but the underlying tone still applies; freedom shares the see-saw with responsibility.
FREEDOM ISN'T FREE
As we approach the Fourth of July, I offer the following as food for thought: Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward. Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted... We shouldn't.
So, take a couple of minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.
WHO'LL TAKE THE SON?
A wealthy father and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picaso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, "Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet stuck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art. The young man held out his package. "I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this." The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. "Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift."
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The father died a few months later.
There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son.
The auctioneer pounded his gavel. "We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?" There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted. "We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one." But the auctioneer persisted. "Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?" Another voice shouted angrily. "We didn't come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh's, the Rembrandt's. Get on with the real bids!" But still the auctioneer continued. "The son! The son! Who'll take the son?" Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. "I'll give $10 for the painting." Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. "We have $10, who will bid $20?" "Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters." "$10 is the bid, won't someone bid $20?" The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. "Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!" A man sitting on the second row shouted. "Now let's get on with the collection!"
The auctioneer laid down his gavel. "I'm sorry, the auction is over." "What about the paintings?" "I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!"
God gave his son 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, "The son, the son, who'll take the son?" Because, you see, whoever takes the Son, gets everything.
Minister Joe Wright
When minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual politically-correct generalities, but what they heard instead was a stirring prayer, passionately calling our country to repentance and righteousness.
The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest In six short weeks, the Central Christian Church had logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of the prayer from India, Africa and Korea.
Commentator Paul Harvey aired the prayer on The Rest of the Story on the radio and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired!!
Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe on those who call evil good," but that's exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.
We confess that:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn children and called it a choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of Your will. I ask it in the name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
What awesome insight !!! With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called a Christian nation that fears the Lord!
Please send this prayer to as many of your Christian friends as you can. Let us all help to get the Lord back into our lives and most importantly into the lives of our children. Amen.
Brownies with a Difference
Many parents are hard pressed to explain to their youth why some music, movies, books, and magazines are not acceptable material for them to bring into the home or to listen to or see.
One parent came up with an original idea that is hard to refute. The father listened to all the reasons his children gave for wanting to see a particular PG-13 movie. It had their favorite actors. Everyone else was seeing it. Even church members said it was great. It was only rated PG-13 because of the suggestion of sex-they never really showed it. The language was pretty good-the Lord's name was only used in vain three times in the whole movie. The teens did admit there was a scene where a building and a bunch of people were blown up, but the violence was just the normal stuff. It wasn't too bad. And, even if there were a few minor things, the special effects were fabulous and the plot was action packed. However, even with all the justifications the teens made for the "13" rating, the father still wouldn't give in. He didn't even give his children a satisfactory explanation for saying, "No." He just said, "No!"
A little later on that evening the father asked his teens if they would like some brownies he had baked. He explained that he'd taken the family's favorite recipe and added a little something new. The children asked what it was.
The father calmly replied that he had added dog poop. However, he quickly assured them, it was only a little bit.
All other ingredients were gourmet quality and he had taken great care to bake the brownies at the precise temperature for the exact time. He was sure the brownies would be superb.
Even with their father's promise that the brownies were of almost perfect quality, the teens would not take any.
The father acted surprised. After all, it was only one small part that was causing them to be so stubborn. He was certain they would hardly notice it. Still the teens held firm and would not try the brownies.
The father then told his children how the movie they wanted to see was just like the brownies. Our minds are us into believing that just a little bit of evil won't matter. But, the truth is even a little bit of poop makes the difference between a great treat and something disgusting and totally unacceptable. The father went on to explain that even though the movie industry would have us believe that most of today's movies are acceptable fare for adults and youth, they are not.
Now, when this father's children want to see something that is of questionable material, the father merely asks them if they would like some of his special dog poop brownies. That closes the subject.
Funny, isn't it.
Funny how a $100 "looks" so big when you take it to church, but so small when you take it to the mall.
Funny how long it takes to serve God for an hour, but how quickly a team plays 60 minutes of basketball.
Funny how long a couple of hours spent at church are, but how short they are when watching a movie.
Funny how we can't think of anything to say when we pray, but don't have difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend.
Funny how we get thrilled when a baseball game goes into extra innings, but we complain when a sermon is longer than the regular time.
Funny how hard it is to read a chapter in the bible, but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a best selling novel.
Funny how people want to get a front seat at any game or concert, but scramble to get a back seat at church services.
Funny how we need 2 or 3 weeks advance notice to fit a church event into our schedule, but can adjust our schedule for other events at the last moment.
Funny how hard it is for people to learn a simple gospel well enough to tell others, but how simple it is for the same people to understand and repeat gossip.
Funny how we believe what the newspaper says, but question what the Bible says.
Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven provided they do not have to believe, or think, or say, or do anything.
Funny how you can send a thousand jokes through e-mail and watch it spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.
FUNNY, ISN'T IT ?
Are you laughing?
Are you thinking?
Spread the Word and give thanks to the Lord for He is good!
HOW DO YOU LIVE YOUR DASH?
I read of a man who
stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning...to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years. (1934 - 1998)
For that dash
represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth...
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars...the house...the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this
long and hard...
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile...
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your
eulogy's being read
With your life's actions to rehash...
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?
A Soldier Died Today
By R.F. Dees and his grandson, Justin Pierce in honor of Memorial Day and veterans who have fought in wars and conflicts. (Posted: Marietta Monitor, Marietta, OK May 28, 1999)
He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast; And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past. Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done, In his exploits with his buddies, they were heroes everyone. And tho' sometimes to his neighbors, his tales became a joke, All his legion buddies listed, for they knew whereof he spoke. But we'll hear his tales no longer, for old John has passed away; And the word's a little poorer, for a soldier died today. He'll not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife, For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life. Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way, And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today. When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state, And thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great. Newspapers tell their life stories, from the time that they were young. But, the passing of a simple Soldier goes unnoticed and unsung. Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land, A person who breaks promises and cons his fellow man, Or the ordinary fellow, who in times of war and strife, Goes off to serve his Country and offers his life? It"s so easy to forget them, for it was so long ago, That the "old Johns" of our country went to battle, but we know, It was not the politicians, with their promises and ploys, Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys. He was just a "common soldier" and his ranks are growing thin. But, his presence should remind us, we may need his like again. For when countries are in conflict, then we find the Soldier's part, Is to clean up the troubles, that others often start. If we cannot give him honor, while he's here to hear the praise, Then at least, let's give him homage at the ending of his days. Perhaps a simple notice, in the paper that would say, "Our country is in mourning, cause a Soldier passed away today."
The Paradox of Our Time
George Carlin - but as I pass this on - it is
The Paradox of Our Time - George Carlin
The paradox of our
time in history is:
We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers;
wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more, but
we buy more, but enjoy it less.
We have bigger
houses and smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time.
We have more
degrees, but less sense; more
knowledge, but less
judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less
We drink too much,
smoke too much, spend too
little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late,
get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too
We have multiplied
our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life.
We've added years to life, not life to years.
We've been all the
way to the moon and back, but have trouble
crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We've conquered outer space, but not inner space.
We've done larger
things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
We've split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We plan more, but
We've learned to rush, but not to wait.
We build more
computers to hold more
information to produce more copies than ever,
but have less communication.
These are the times
of fast foods and slow digestion;
tall men, and short character; steep profits,
and shallow relationships.
These are the times
of world peace,
but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun;
more kinds of food, but less nutrition.
These are days of
two incomes,but more divorce;
of fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are days of
quick trips, disposable diapers,
throw-away morality, one-night stands,
overweight bodies, and pills that do
everything from cheer to quiet, to kill.
Two babes in a manger
It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear the for the first time the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger.
Throughout the story, the children and the orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city.
Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby's blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States.
The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about six years old and had finished his project.
As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one but two babes in the manger. Quickly I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babes in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manager scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously.
For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately--until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manager. Then Misha started to ad lib.
He made up his own ending to the story as he said, " And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay. But I told him I couldn't because I didn't have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.
So I asked Jesus, " If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?" And Jesus told me, "If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me."
So I got in the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him. For always."
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him--FOR ALWAYS.
I've learned that it's not what you HAVE in your life, but WHO YOU HAVE in your life that counts.
On Thursday, May 27, 1999, Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee's sub-committee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful. It needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating, and deeply personal. There is no doubt that God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness. The following is a portion of the transcript:
"Since the dawn of creation there has been both good and evil in the heart of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers. The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart.
"In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent. I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy - it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves.
"I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew I would be speaking here today.
"Your laws ignore
our deepest needs
Your words are empty air
You've stripped away our heritage
You've outlawed simple prayer
Now gunshots fill our classrooms
And precious children die
You seek for answers everywhere
And ask the question "Why"
You regulate restrictive laws
Through legislative creed
And yet you fail to understand
That God is what we need!"
"Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? "We have refused to honor God, and in doing so, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs - politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties.
"We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts. Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers. The young people of our nation hold the key. There is a spiritual awakening taking place that will not be squelched!
"We do not need more religion. We do not need more gaudy television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage. We do not need more million dollar church buildings built while people with basic needs are being ignored. We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God!
"As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes - He did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School - prayer was brought back to our schools."
"Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God - given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA - I give to you a sincere challenge. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone! My daughter's death will not be in vain. The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!"
Can you bus a table
I tried not to be biased in hiring a handicapped person, but his placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. I had never had a mentally-handicapped employee, and I wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie. He was short, a little dumpy, and had the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Down Syndrome.
I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade. The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck stop germ;" the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks. I shouldn't have worried.
After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot. After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table.
Our only problem was convincing him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus the dishes and glasses onto a cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag. If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.
Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home.
That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie had missed work. He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Down Syndrome often had heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.
A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery and doing fine. Frannie, my head waitress, let out a war whoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news. Belle Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of the 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table. Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a withering look.
He grinned. "OK, Frannie, what was that all about?" he asked.
"We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay."
"I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?" Frannie quickly told Belle Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery, then sighed. "Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be OK," she said, "but I don't know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is." Belle Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables. Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do.
After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.
"What's up?" I asked.
"I didn't get that table where Belle Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off," she said. "This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup."
She handed the napkin to me, and three twenty-dollar bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed "Something For Stevie".
"Pony Pete asked me what that was all about," she said, "so I told him about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this."
She handed me another paper napkin that had "Something For Stevie" scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds. Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply "truckers."
That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work. His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called 10 times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy. I arranged to have his mother bring him to work, met them in the parking lot, and invited them both to celebrate his first day back. Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting.
"Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast," I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. "Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate your coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me."
I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room. I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession.
We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins.
"First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess," I said. I tried to sound stern. Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had "Something for Stevie" printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table. Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it.
I turned to his mother. "There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. Happy Thanksgiving."
Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well. But you know what's funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table. Best worker I ever hired.
"Life is about people connecting with people, and making a positive difference"
"Take care of yourself, ... and those you love, ... today, ... and everyday!"
Luther had been home from the war nearly four months, now, and worked at the Carnation Milk plant in Mt. Vernon where his wife, Jenny, worked. This morning he was in the little Miller cafe next door to the post office waiting for the mail to be "put up." Sitting across from him in the booth was his old friend, Fred Hill. They were discussing the war which was still going on in the Pacific Theater. Recruitment posters still lined the walls of the little cafe.
Fred had not been in the service, because when the war started in 1941, his parents had been in very poor health; his father with a bad heart, and his mother with cancer. He was needed at home to care for them and operate the farm. His parents had since died, and the farm was now his -- his and Maggie's.
When Luther, Fred's best friend since childhood had flown over Miller in the B-17, and when the bodies of the Hobbs boys and Billie Martin had been shipped home, and when Perry came home with hooks where his hands should have been, Fred felt guilty. He felt he had not done his part for the war effort, and in his own eyes, he was diminished.
But today, it was Luther who seemed depressed. Fred asked him what was bothering him. "You seem down in the dumps, today, Luther," he said. "I can't see what could be botherin' you. You came through the war without a scratch, you got a beautiful wife and a baby on the way, you got a good job, what's the problem?"
"Jenny's mother is in bad shape," said Luther. "We're going to have to take her in, and with the baby coming we don't have the room."
"Can't build a room on?" asked Fred.
"No lumber available," said Luther. "I've tried here, Mt. Vernon, Springfield, Joplin, and there won't be any more shipments for the duration. Who knows how long that will be?"
"Tried Will's sawmill?" "Yeah, but he just saws oak, and it's green. The baby'll be here in August, and we can't wait for the lumber to dry. Besides, you can't build a whole room out of oak, anyway."
"Wouldn't want to," said Fred, "Reckon the mail's up?" "Probably." The two young men left the cafe and went into the post office next door. Buford Patten, the postmaster, had raised the door to the service window, signaling that the mail was in the boxes. Luther and Fred retrieved their mail and left -- Luther to work at Mt. Vernon, and Fred back to the farm.
That evening, Fred finished the milking and sat on the front porch with Maggie. "Days are gettin' longer," he said, "Man could get half a day's work done after five o'clock."
"Better put your Pa's car up," said Maggie, "Radio says rain tonight." Fred's father had bought a new 1941 Ford just before his first heart attack, and the car was now Fred's. He had built a new garage for it just before Christmas, and tonight he congratulated himself on getting it built before the lumber ran out. He didn't even know it had, until Luther told him this morning.
Fred drove the car into the new garage and latched the door. He walked back around the house to the front porch. Something was nagging at his mind, but he couldn't define it. He shook it off and sat on the porch with Maggie until darkness fell. They could see heat lightning in the West, and the wind started to rise. They went in the house to listen to the news of the war on the radio, and shortly went to bed. The next morning, Fred again drove his pickup into Miller for the mail. The air was fresh and clear now, the rain having washed it clean. The sun was shining, and he felt good. When he reached the cafe, Luther was there ahead of him. "Still haven't found any lumber, I guess?"
"No, I asked everybody at work, and nobody knows of any. I don't know what we'll do."
Now the nagging in Fred's mind defined itself. "I found the lumber for you," he said. "You did? Where?" Luther was delighted. "Fella I know. He'll let you have it free, you bein' a veteran and all. He doesn't seem to want you to know who he is, so I'll have to haul it in for you. It's good lumber, fir and pine, cut different lengths and got nails in it, but that's no problem. Tell you what, you get your foundation poured, and I'll bring you a pickup load everyday and help you build it. We'll have it done before the baby gets here."
"That's a friend for you," Luther said to himself, as he drove to Mt. Vernon. That evening he came home with sacks of cement in his pickup. Luther dug and poured the foundation, and when it was ready for the footings, he told Fred.
"Fine," said Fred, "I'll bring the first load over and be there when you get home from work."
Fred appeared every evening with a load of lumber, and the two men worked until it was too dark to see. Sometimes Maggie came, too, and the women sat in the house listening to the radio or talking about babies or Jenny's ailing mother, their sentences punctuated by the sound of the hammers outside.
Over the next few weeks the new room took shape and was finished and roofed. "Where did you get the shingles?" asked Luther. "Same fella," answered Fred. "He's got all kinds of stuff." Luther didn't push. Lots of older folks liked to help out the young veterans anonymously. It was common. It was done! The women fixed the room up inside and moved Jenny's mother in. The men went back about their business. At supper one evening, Luther told Jenny he would like to do something nice for Fred and Maggie, since they had been so helpful with the new room.
"I know," said Jenny, brightly, "Maggie likes those big wooden lawn chairs like Aunt Birdie has in her lawn. Why not get them a couple of those?"
"Good idea," agreed Luther, and the next Saturday he bought a couple at Callison's hardware and loaded them into his pickup. When he got out to Fred's farm, there was no one home, Fred and Maggie having gone into Springfield, shopping. "That's ok," Luther thought, "I'll just put them in the garage in case it rains." He drove around the house and into the driveway that led to Fred's new garage. The garage was gone. Only the foundation remained to show where it had been. Luther put the chairs on the front porch and drove home, tears in eyes.
The two men are now in their mid-seventies, and are still the best of friends. They never spoke of the incident. How could they? There was nothing to say.