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A chilly Bolivia, air hovered through our tiny, dark bedroom as my six-year old brother and I, only a year older, slipped out of bed. We grabbed our coats and put on our shoes. Without heat in our old home, wearing coats inside was as normal as the Spanish we spoke.
But this morning was different; it was Christmas. We dashed off to the small living room where we had left our old pair of shoes the night before. No Christmas tree, no decorations or frills in our home. But, following tradition, Baby Jesus promised to leave one present atop the shoes. Some years, we’d find nothing but new underwear, other years we’d find new socks. The gift itself wasn’t our focus, but the fact the one, solitary item was brand new made us squeal with joy.
And then one Christmas, one special Christmas, I lifted the package lying on my shoes. As always, it was wrapped in newspaper. I tore through it, held my breath, and there it was—a doll with large brown eyes peeking at me. I grabbed it from the box, clutched it against my chest and inhaled the aroma. Even though it smelled of plastic, it sent a wave of delight through me.
Those days flicker memories of the simple life, uncomplicated and easy. It was a life lacking in material possessions, but one rich with appreciation for small things.
Events turned the pages of each year. As I grew up in America, life changed. Prosperity visited our marriage, we hurried to indulge our children and we began accumulating stuff. Life became easier, but far more complicated. Gifts cost more and their purchase rang urgent. Eventually, our wants turned to nagging needs. Sadly, what we cherished as children now painted a sorrowful scene. And the peace each Christmas season had previously brought subtly ushered tension instead.
But, as weather changes and seasons offer variety, this writer believes we can also change by taking a step back to the simpler life, easier routine and lighter burdens.
Let’s ask our children to list the things they already have before jotting their wants for Santa. Cross off your list a few social gatherings and replace them with quiet moments, long enough to savor the calmness that screams to be heard, to relish in the sound of quiet that was forgotten in a blaring world. And, most importantly, long enough to hear God whisper, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
What a revelation! We know He’s God, but do we know He’s God over the shaky economy, the uncertainty of the world and the future of our jobs? And it’s in that moment of quiet reflection that His truth lights our life brighter than any star in the silent night.
In that silence, I dared to toss the glitter aside and placed my shoes out. And not surprisingly, I found the one gift, meaningful and vital to life: gratitude.
I clutched it tight; reveling in a new appreciation of what surrounds me. Even in blindness, I can see the world with more passion and gusto. Knowing who is God, gratitude lifted my veil of gloom as it shone emphasis on what I can do, what I have, on the treasures that enrich my life, and on the potential that is yet to be explored. Most of all, the spirit of gratitude sparked soothing contentment, trickled in joy, and rekindled the beauty of hope.
My wish for you is that you take a look at the simpler season—Jesus did—a manger housed his birth, but His life determined our destiny. This Christmas, leave out your shoes. The gift you find might determine a more profound outlook, yet simpler and uncomplicated.
~ Janet Perez Eckles ~
jeckles at cfl.rr.com
Janet Perez Eckles is a conference speaker, free lance writer, contributor to ten books including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and Guidepost books. She authored the inspirational book, TRIALS OF TODAY, TREASURES FOR TOMORROW—Overcoming Adversities in life. Janet imparts nuggets of inspiration at: www.janetperezeckles.com
Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, 'Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.'
Then the second tree said, 'Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take Kings and Queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.
Finally the third tree said, 'I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me .'
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, 'This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a Carpenter, 'and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him in to a treasure chest.
At the second tree the woodsman said, 'This looks like a strong tree. I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.'
The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, 'I don't need anything special from my tree, I'll take this one,' and he cut it down.
When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for.
The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.
The third tree was cut into large pieces, and left alone in the dark.
The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.
Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.
Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and Said 'Peace' and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.
Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it.
When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sabbath came, the tree came to realize it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.
The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you.. If you place your trust in Him, God will give you great gifts.
Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined. We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His Ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.
Way back in the dinosaur days of the 1980s, I worked for a man who believed strongly in delayed gratification. He practiced it in the office, where he delayed increasing any of his employees’ salaries long past the appropriate time. And he practiced it at home, where he delighted in wrapping his toddler son’s Christmas presents so thoroughly – layer upon layer of paper secured by yards of tape and elaborately tied ribbons -- that it sometimes took the child days to open each gift.
My boss would regale us in the last week of December with proud tales of how his son worked diligently each day – for a few minutes anyway – to open his surprises from Santa. We were even treated to pictures of the boy slumped sound asleep over a partially opened present. While the tyke’s father felt this extra effort would build his character, I often wondered if he would eventually come to hate Santa for being such a bureaucrat.
This boss of mine was a graduate of Harvard, a fact he regularly found a way to work into the conversation. I don’t even remember his last name anymore, but I remember that he was highly educated, and I remember his penchant for uber-wrapping presents. That’s why I’m pretty sure he and his Ivy League education are responsible for the plague now known as “wrap rage.”
In case you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, wrap rage describes the frustration and homicidal anger we non-Harvard graduates feel when we try to open the fiendishly-packaged products we’ve purchased. Wrap rage -- like road rage, slow-cashier rage and cellulite-showing-up-overnight rage (my personal favorite) -- seems to compound the other rages we feel every day but can’t define. There are an estimated 200,000 injuries each year in the United States suffered by people using sharp tools -- scissors, knives, samurai swords -- to pierce the plastic that encases pretty much everything we buy. The technical term for it is clamshell packaging, but that’s really an insult to the clam, which has enough sense not to surround itself with such ridiculous stuff. That’s why I think it must have been invented by someone from Harvard.
My husband and I are University of Oklahoma alumni, which means you cannot blame us for wrap rage. It also means our football team can wipe the floor with the team of my former boss, but that’s another column for another day. As parents of modern American children who cannot possibly grow into decent adults without owning all the latest electronic equipment and toys (or so they tell us), we’ve experienced our share of wrap rage, and we have the scars to prove it.
My personal packaging nemesis has always been the various incarnations of Barbie. It’s taken me 30 minutes on Christmas morning to release Barbie from her clamshell prison. Not only is she entombed in plastic, she’s also wired down, her hair stitched to the box and with thick plastic manacles on her arms and torso. Barbie must either be a serious threat to national security or one very kinky doll. Whichever it is, we probably should not be allowing our children to play with her.
The good news is that somebody is finally attempting to stop the insanity. Amazon.com has promised to begin replacing its clamshells with “frustration-free” packaging. Maybe by next year, Christmas morning will be a little more peaceful and a lot safer. And the clams can take back their shells.
Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at: JackiePapandrew.com
After almost two weeks of constant cloudiness I saw the sun again today. It was like greeting an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years. It lit up not only the sky and the Earth but my soul as well. I smiled towards the Heavens and thanked God for this beautiful sight. I knew too that it was just one of the million ways that God says, “I love you” to us everyday.
In fact, if I started writing on all the ways that God lets us know just how much He loves us then I would never stop. I would like to share just a few of them with you here, though. There are those unexpected hugs from our kids, that shining light in another’s eyes when they love you, the laughter of a child, a puppy licking your hand, a kitten purring on your lap, a new baby’s smile, and the first songs of the birds in the Spring. There are also the delightful smells of Spring flowers and Fall leaves, plus warm sweaters, warm hearts, and hot chocolate on cold, Winter days. Let’s not forget either inspiring books, encouraging words, beautiful music, and the peace that prayer brings.
We are also blessed with caring friends, good-hearted neighbors, and compassionate strangers who bring us comfort in times of need. Then we have all those obstacles that make us steer off the wrong road and onto the right path as well as all those problems that make us stronger, better, and more loving people. God’s wondrous love flows through all of these things and through our own hearts and souls as well. That is why I find the best way to start any day is to say, “I love You too dear God and I thank You for my life here.”
God loves us all so much. He says it in a million ways everyday of our lives. His love is all around us and within us as well. His love watches over us in this life and His love promises us an even greater life to come. His love and the joy it brings are His gifts to us. Let’s make them our gifts to each other as well.
~ Joseph J. Mazzella
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty, I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in who I trust!" Psalm 91:1-2
It was Christmas Day. I have four boys, Nathaniel III 12,
Josees 9, Christian 6 and George 3.
My wife had wisely gotten the three oldest boys Lego(r) sets for
Christmas. It taught them some of the rudimentary aspects of
construction and engineering. The older two were busy putting
their sets together. Nathaniel III was working on a 6,000 piece
rendition of the Taj Mahal. He finished it in a few hours.
My wife had gotten them sets that matched their ages and
So why was Christian in the corner crying?
That's the question that I asked him.
This was his answer:
"Because Josees' Legos are bigger than mine!"
While Christian sat crying, his Legos sat idle and unused.
I then heard George crying. "What's wrong with him?" I asked
Puddin (my wife). "Christian has a plastic light-up sword and
George doesn't," she replied.
...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
(Eph 6:17 KJV)
Have you heard any Christians crying and whining lately because
the parent saw fit to give someone else a bigger gift, set of
building materials or a more elegant and eloquent sword?
Do you have any unused gifts, building materials or swords that
are idle because yours are not as fancy, big or sharp as
Are they rusty and wet with tears?
Perhaps it's high time to start building and swinging with what
you have instead of looking at what the other person has.
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.
G. K. Chesterton
Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you to be a better person.
Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months!
Edward Payson Powell
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
T.S. Eliot, 'Little Gidding'
We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.
Edith Lovejoy Pierce
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given;
While angels sing with tender mirth,
A glad new year to all the earth.
A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.
We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential.
A Little information..
Ball Dropping both literally and figuratively began in NYC in 1812.
In the United States, New Year's Eve is a major social holiday. One of the top destination cities for New Year's Eve from 2003 to 2006 has been New York. Las Vegas is also attracting a large number of New Year's Eve party goers with the famous Las Vegas strip being closed to vehicles and buses.
In the past 100 years the 'ball dropping' on top of One Times Square in New York City, broadcast to all of America (and rebroadcast in many other countries), is a major component of the New Year celebration.
The 1,070-pound (490 kg), 12-foot (3.7 m) diameter Waterford crystal ball located high above Times Square is lowered, starting at 11:59:00pm and reaching the bottom of its tower 60 seconds later, at the stroke of midnight (12:00:00am). This is repeated for all four time zones in the continental US. It is sometimes referred to as 'the big apple' like the city itself; the custom derives from the time signal that used to be given at noon in harbors.
From 1981 to 1988, New York City dropped an enlarged apple in recognition of its nickname. From 1972 through 2006, Dick Clark hosted televised coverage of the event called Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, shown on ABC, and now renamed Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest for the arrival of 2009. From 1956 to 1976 on CBS, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians serenaded the United States from the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue in New York City. The Royal Canadians continued on CBS until 1978, and Happy New Year, America replaced it in 1979, continuing until 1995. The song Auld Lang Syne has become a popular song to sing at midnight on New Year's Eve.
HAVE A HAPPY DAY TODAY, TOMORROW, AND ALWAYS AND KNOW THAT GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF ALL OF US!
I remember when I first graduated college. I was already married with a baby son. I had an education degree but full time teaching jobs where I lived were scarce. For a few years then I did my best to make ends meet by substituting as much as possible. I would get up early each morning and hope for the phone to ring. A call meant work and every penny counted.
On one particularly cold morning I got a call to work at a grade school 15 miles away. Only a light snow coated the roads so I wasn’t worried about the trip. What I didn’t realize, though, was that water from the previous day’s rain had frozen on a patch of the road before the snow covered it. This was on a part of the road that curved around the edge of a mountain. Going off on one side of the road would land you in a ditch but going off the other could send you over the side of the mountain.
As I approached the dangerous spot I was going faster than I should. I wanted to make it to the school before the classes started. Just before I reached it, however, I saw a dog walking in my lane of the road. I braked early to avoid hitting the pooch and then was about to speed up again when I hit the black ice.
Thankfully, the angel with paws had made me slow down enough that I was able to steer the car back towards the ditch and away from the edge of the mountain curve. I only needed a tow instead of a trip to the hospital or mortuary. I guess God wasn’t quite ready for me to leave this life yet.
Albert Einstein said, "God doesn’t play dice." This is true for the world and for our lives.
As I look back upon that day I can see God’s loving handiwork in it. I think He still had more for me to learn and do in this life. I just pray that I don’t waste a moment of it. I pray that I make everyday I have left a loving gift to my Heavenly Father who made me. May you do the same.
My aunt is really rich. She doesn’t have a big bank account, though. Still, I have known her to share the last penny in it to help someone in need. She doesn’t have a fancy, new car either, but she gets the most out of her old, used one giving rides to friends who can no longer drive themselves. Her home is no mansion. Yet, my childhood visits to it have filled my mind with treasured memories and my heart with priceless happiness. My aunt’s riches come instead from the places that high prices and inflation can never lessen. My aunt’s riches come from her loving soul, her generous spirit, and her joyous life.
Every time I speak with her on the phone or get a card from her in the mail the richness of that life shines though. Her gentle laughter has brightened my day many times over the years. Her optimism and faith have strengthened my own as well. Her kindness, caring, and happiness have helped so many people, touched so many souls, and done so much good in this world. When it comes to the treasures of Heaven she will forever be one of the wealthiest people I know. When it comes to finding the joy in living she will always be rich beyond compare. I only pray that one day we all can live with such priceless love.
Leo Buscaglia once wrote that, "We find the greatest riches where we find the joy in living; since we serve God and ourselves best in joy, it seems to be the only sensible goal in life." My dear aunt learned this a long time ago and she has spent her whole life teaching it to others as well. I am proud to have been one of her students and taken her course in the "Richness of Living 101." Thanks to her I daily choose more love, more joy, more laughter, and more life. Thanks to her I seek and share the treasures of Heaven always. Thanks to her I am far wealthier in oneness with God. May your own life grow rich as well in the things that truly matter.
That all-too-quotable Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." (I think that happened to me once.)
But even if you know where you want to end up, do you REALLY WANT to be there? I'm not talking about traveling now, but where we're going with our lives. Is the dream you are following really that important to you?
Most people are not lazy. They simply have uninspiring goals. They don't accomplish what they set out to do because they lose interest. The dream they are following is simply not that important to them.
But then I think of Dennis Oehler. He ran the 100-meter dash in 11.73 seconds. Record-holder Maurice Greene ran it in 9.79 seconds, almost two seconds faster. So what's the big deal? Maurice Greene has two legs. Dennis Oehler has one. One leg -- and a huge dream.
The truth is -- we are always highly motivated when something means a great deal to us. If I fell into a deep lake and I didn't know how to swim, I would become highly motivated in an instant. Climbing from the lake would mean more to me than anything else in the world. My effort would be no less than astounding and I would suddenly become one of the most excited and enthusiastic persons imaginable.
And that goes for anything that is truly important to us. If we want something badly enough, we will find necessary energy, excitement and drive to grasp it.
Writer Tim Redmond says this about following worthwhile dreams: "There are many things that will catch my eye, but there are only a few that catch my heart...it is those I consider to pursue."
Is your dream big enough -- important enough -- to catch your heart?
You perhaps recall the story of the blacksmith who gave his heart to Jesus.
Though living a more Godly life, still he was not prospering materially. In fact, it seems that from the time of his conversion more trouble, affliction and loss were sustained than ever before. Everything seemed to be going wrong.
One day a friend who was not a Christian stopped by to talk to him awhile. Sympathizing with him in some of his trials, the friend said
"It seems strange to me that so much affliction should pass over you just at the time when you have become an earnest Christian. Of course, I don't want to weaken your faith in God or anything like that. But here you are, with God's help and guidance, and yet things seem to be getting steadily worse. I can't help wondering why that is."
The blacksmith did not answer immediately, and it was evident that he had thought the same question before. But finally, he said,
"You see here the raw iron which I have to make into horse's shoes. You know what I do with it? I take a piece and heat it in the fire until it is red, almost white with the heat. Then I hammer it unmercifully to shape it as I know it should be shaped. Then I plunge it into a pail of cold water to temper it. Then I heat it again and hammer it some more. And this I do until it is finished."
"But sometimes I find a piece of iron that won't stand up under this treatment. The heat and the hammering and the cold water are too much for it. I don't know why it fails in the process, but I know it will never make a good horse's shoe."
He pointed to a heap of scrap iron that was near the door of his shop.
"When I get a piece that cannot take the shape and temper, I throw it out on the scrap heap. It will never be good for anything."
He went on, "I know that God has been holding me in the fires of affliction and I have felt His hammer upon me. But I don't mind, if only He can bring me to what I should be.
And so, in all these hard things my prayer is simply this:
Try me in any way you wish, Lord, only don't throw me on the scrap heap."
Once upon a time, twin boys were conceived in the same womb. Weeks passed and the twins developed. As their awareness grew, they laughed for joy, “isn’t it great that we were conceived? Isn’t it great to be alive?”
Together the twins explored their world. When they found their mother’s cord that gave them life, they sang for joy, “how great is our Mother’s love, that she shares her own life with us!”
As weeks stretched into months, the twins noticed how much each was changing. “what does it mean?” asked the one. “It means that our stay in this world is drawing to an end, said the other. “But I don’t want to go”, said the other, “but maybe there is life after birth.” But how can there be?” responded the other one. “We will shed our life cord, and how is life possible without it? Besides, we have seen evidence that others were here before us and none of them have returned to tell us that there is life after birth. No, this is the end.”
And so the one fell into deep despair, saying, “If conception ends in birth, what is the purpose of life in the womb? It is meaningless! Maybe there is no mother after all?” “But there has to be,” protested the other. “How else did we get here? How do we remain alive?”
How you ever seen our mother?” said one. “Maybe she lives only in our minds. Maybe we made her up because the idea made us feel good?”
And so the last days in the womb were filled with deep questioning and fear. Finally, the moment of birth arrived.
When the twins had passed from their world, they opened their eyes and cried for joy. For what they saw exceeded their fondest dreams.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young,
compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant
of the weak and strong...............because someday in your life you
will have been all of these.
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule
A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.
A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people.
The outlines were:
In a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life.. Her coat was new. She looked like that she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.
'Leave me alone,' he growled.
To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling -- her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. 'Are you hungry?' she asked.
'No,' he answered sarcastically. 'I've just come from dining with the president. Now go away.' The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.
'What are you doing, lady?' the man asked angrily. 'I said to leave me alone.
Just then a policeman came up. 'Is there any problem, ma'am?' he asked.
'No problem here, officer,' the woman answered. 'I'm just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?'
The officer scratched his head. 'That's old Jack. He's been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?'
'See that cafeteria over there?' she asked. 'I'm going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.'
'Are you crazy, lady?' the homeless man resisted. 'I don't want to go in there!' Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up.
'Let me go, officer. I didn't do anything.'
'This is a good deal for you, Jack,' the officer answered. 'Don't blow it..'
Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table.
'What's going on here, officer?' he asked. 'What is all this. Is this man in trouble?' 'This lady brought this man in here to be fed,' the policeman answered.
'Not in here!' the manager replied angrily. 'Having a person like that here is bad for business.'
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. 'See, lady. I told you so. Now if you'll let me go. I didn't want to come here in the first place.'
The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. 'Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?'
'Of course I am,' the manager answered impatiently. 'They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms'
'And do you make a good amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?'
'What business is that of yours?'
'I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.'
The woman smiled again. 'I thought that might make a difference.' She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. 'Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?'
'No thanks, ma'am,' the officer replied. 'I'm on duty.'
'Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?'
'Yes, ma'am. That would be very nice'
The cafeteria manager turned on his heel 'I'll get your coffee for you right away, officer.'
The officer watched him walk away. 'You certainly put him in his place,' he said.
'That was not my intent believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.'
She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest She stared at him intently. 'Jack, do you remember me?'
Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes 'I think so -- I mean you do look familiar.'
'I'm a little older perhaps,' she said. 'Maybe I've even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.'
'Ma'am?' the officer said questioningly. He couldn't believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.
I was just out of college,' the woman began. 'I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.'
Jack lit up with a smile. 'Now I remember,' he said. 'I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.'
'I know,' the woman continued. 'Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the price of my food in the cash register I knew then that everything would be all right.'
'So you started your own business?' Old Jack said.
'I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business, that, with the help of God, prospered.' She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. 'When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He's the personnel director of my company. I'll go talk to him now and I'm certain he'll find something for you to do around the office.' She smiled. 'I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you.'
There were tears in the old man's eyes 'How can I ever thank you?' he said.
'Don't thank me,' the woman answered 'To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus.. He led me to you.'
Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways. 'Thank you for all your help, officer,' she said.
'On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,' he answered. 'Thank you. I saw something today that I will never forget. And...And thank you for the coffee.'
Have a Wonderful Day. May God Bless You Always. And don't forget that when you 'cast your bread upon the waters,' you never know how it will be returned to you.
If you have missed knowing me, you have missed nothing. But, if you have missed knowing my LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, you have missed everything in the world.
God is so big He can cover the whole world with his Love and so small He can curl up inside your heart.
I used to wonder, "How in the world can Mother call them
I am a logical, statistical man.
I call things as I see them.
I didn't see beauty.
My mother would tell people this with an enthusiasm they
could feel. She was genuine. She wasn't telling them they
were beautiful to get something from them. Most of the
time, they were trying to get something from her.
I wondered for years what was wrong with Mother's perception and
vision. Couldn't she see that all of the people she called beautiful,
You were beautiful only if you had a certain figure and face
that was classed as beautiful by the laws of the world and
glamour. Yet when my mother spoke, people smiled as though
Glamour magazine had listed them as one of the beautiful people
of the year.
It took me years to finally understand my mother's vision
and the phrase, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
My mother had a spirit that could see the beauty in a person.
Most only look on the outside and then compare what they
see with the standards the world has given them.
That was what I was doing.
Today when you leave your house, carefully look at the first
person whom you see and notice how beautiful they are.
They may be balding, fat, wrinkled, pimply, or any of the
other things the world frowns upon as beauty.
Look at them closely and look for the beauty.
If you really look, you'll see it.
I didn't believe that at first until I tried it.
Sure enough, as I stared and opened another set of eyes,
I was able to see the beauty in every person.
No matter how rough or worn a person looked,
each pain etched line held a glimpse of beauty.
You just had to look for the beauty. It's there.
When you leave your home this morning, look hard at each
person. You will start to see the beauty of every human who
you didn't know existed. Trust me and try this.
If you sincerely look, you will see it.
When you get home after seeing the beauty in faces you see,
look in the mirror.
Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. She didn't move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands.
When I sat down beside her she didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if she was OK
Finally, not really wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. 'Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking,' she said in a clear voice strong.
'I didn't mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,' I explained to her.
'Have you ever looked at your hands,' she asked. 'I mean really looked at your hands?'
I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making.
Grandma smiled and related this story:
'Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.
'They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor.
They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war.
'They have been dirty, scraped and raw , swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special.
They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse.
'They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand.
They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.
'These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of life.
But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.'
I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandma's hands and led her home.
When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and husband I think of grandma. I know she has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.
I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.
A clergyman was walking down the street when he came upon a group of a few boys about 10 years of age, surrounding a dog. Concerned that the boys were hurting the animal, he went over and asked them what they were doing.
One of the boys replied, “This dog is an old neighborhood stray. We take him home with us sometimes, but since only one of us can take him home we’re having a contest: whichever one of us tells the biggest lie can take him home today.”
Of course, the Reverend was shocked. “You boys shouldn’t be having a contest telling lies!” he exclaimed. He then launched into a 10-minute sermon against lying, beginning, “Don’t you boys know it’s a sin to lie?” and ending with, “Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie.”
There was complete silence for about a minute while the boys all looked at each other and lowered their heads. Just as the Reverend began to think he had gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and handed him the leash. “Alright, reverend,” he said, “You win. You can take him home”.
She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.
'Hello,' she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.
'I'm building,' she said.
'I see that. What is it?' I asked, not really caring.
'Oh, I don't know, I just like the feel of sand.'
That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by.
'That's a joy,' the child said.
'It's a what?'
'It's a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.'
The bird went gliding down the beach. Good-bye joy, I muttered to myself, hello pain, and turned to walk on. I was depressed, my life seemed completely out of balance.
'What's your name?' She wouldn't give up.
'Robert,' I answered. 'I'm Robert Peterson.'
'Mine's Wendy... I'm six.'
She giggled. 'You're funny,' she said.
In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me.
'Come again, Mr. P,' she called. 'We'll have another happy day.'
The next few days consisted of a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and an ailing mother. The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. I need a sandpiper, I said to myself, gathering up my coat.The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed.
'Hello, Mr. P,' she said. 'Do you want to play?'
'What did you have in mind?' I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.
'I don't know. You say.'
'How about charades?' I asked sarcastically.
The tinkling laughter burst forth again. 'I don't know what that is.'
'Then let's just walk.'
Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face.
'Where do you live?' I asked.
'Over there.' She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter.
'Where do you go to school?'
'I don't go to school. Mommy says we're on vacation.'
She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.
Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home. 'Look, if you don't mind,' I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, 'I'd rather be alone today.' She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.
'Why?' she asked.
I turned to her and shouted, 'Because my mother died!' and thought, My God, why was I saying this to a little child?
'Oh,' she said quietly, 'then this is a bad day.'
'Yes,' I said, 'and yesterday and the day before and -- oh, go away!'
'Did it hurt?' she inquired.
'Did what hurt?' I was exasperated with her, with myself.
'When she died?'
'Of course it hurt!' I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.
A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't there. Feeling guilty, ashamed, and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.
'Hello,' I said, 'I'm Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.'
'Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy spoke of you so much. I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept my apologies.'
'Not at all -- she's a delightful child.' I said, suddenly realizing that I meant what I had just said.
'Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn't tell you.'
Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. I had to catch my breath.
'She loved this beach, so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly...' Her voice faltered, 'She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?'
I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope with 'MR. P' printed in bold childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues -- a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed:
A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY.
Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide. I took Wendy's mother in my arms. 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry,' I uttered over and over, and we wept together.
The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words -- one for each year of her life -- that speak to me of harmony, courage, and undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the color of sand -- who taught me the gift of love.
NOTE: This is a true story sent out by Robert Peterson. It happened over 20 years ago and the incident changed his life forever. It serves as a reminder to all of us that we need to take time to enjoy living and life and each other.
The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.
Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of everyday traumas can make us lose focus about what is truly important or what is only a momentary setback or crisis.
This week, be sure to give your loved ones an extra hug, and by all means, take a moment... even if it is only ten seconds, to stop and smell the roses.
May God Bless everyone who reads this! There are NO coincidences!
Everything that happens to us happens for a reason. Never brush aside anyone as insignificant. Who knows what they can teach us?
WHAT IS A GRANDPARENT?
(taken from papers written by a class of 8-year-olds)
Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their
own. They like other people's.
A grandfather is a man & a grandmother is a lady!
Grandparents don't have to do anything except be there when we come
to see them. They are so old they shouldn't play hard or run. It is good
if they drive us to the shops and give us money.
When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty
leaves and caterpillars.
They show us and talk to us about the colors of the flowers and also why
we shouldn't step on 'cracks.'
They don't say, 'Hurry up..'
Usually grandmothers are fat but not too fat to tie your shoes.
They wear glasses and funny underwear.
It's funny when they bend over, you hear gas leaks and they blame their dog.
They can take their teeth and gums out.
Grandparents don't have to be smart.
They have to answer questions like 'Why isn't God married?' and 'How
come dogs chase cats?'
When they read to us, they don't skip. They don't mind if we ask for
the same story over again.
Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have
television because they are the only grownups who like to spend time
They know we should have snack time before bed time and they say
prayers with us and kiss us even when we've acted bad.
A 6 YEAR OLD WAS ASKED WHERE HIS GRANDMA LIVED. ''OH,'' HE SAID,
''SHE LIVES AT THE AIRPORT AND WHEN WE WANT HER WE JUST GO GET
HER. THEN WHEN WE'RE DONE HAVING HER VISIT, WE TAKE HER BACK TO
GRANDPA IS THE SMARTEST MAN ON EARTH! HE TEACHES ME GOOD THINGS
BUT I DON'T GET TO SEE HIM ENOUGH TO GET AS SMART AS HIM!
Mom got up early Sunday morning and got the kids ready for church. Dad sat in the living room, reading his newspaper and looking out at the snow.
They'd had the conversation before, but nothing had changed. "Why don't you go with us this week?" she asked. He didn't look up from his paper. "You know why," he said out loud and then in his own mind finished the answer with "A truly great God wouldn't care about puny humans anyway." The man replayed the argument in his mind: "If God is so perfect and great, why would he care about helping us? If God is so powerful, why would he make his son become a human being? Why would he stoop so low to help us....if God is really so great."
The house was silent except for the sound of the logs crackling in the fireplace. From the other end of the house came a strange thump. The man put down his paper and walked down the hall.
Outside the window huddled a group of birds. In confusion and fear, they had flown into the window pane and fallen to the ground. They huddled together in the snow trying to figure out what to do next. The man felt sorry for the birds. He thought to himself, "The birds could go in our barn and they'd be warm there." So he went outside and opened the door to the barn. Then he waited in the cold. The birds didn't move.
"I know, I'll shoo them over to the barn door," the man thought. But as he tried to herd the birds to the barn they simply scattered. Only after he left them alone did they come back to their spot in the snow.
The man had one last plan. He went back in the house and got a loaf of bread. Carefully, he tore off pieces of bread and made a path to the barn door. But the birds just huddled closer together, ignoring the gift of life which the man was offering.
Stumped, the man stood looking at the birds, wondering just what it would ake to get them to safety. He thought to himself, "If only I could become a bird and lead them to safety, then they wouldn't have to die." And he stopped and thought about it again. And he finally understood.
What a wonderful blessing I have received and it all was because of Cracker Soup . . .
Oh how I loved cracker soup when I was sick and small.
It warmed my little tummy and I loved it best of all.
So as I grew that’s all I wanted when I was sick in bed.
And that’s what my Mommy gave me; it’s what I was fed.
No wonder I continued the tradition when my kids were small.
It too became their favorite when unwell & when growing tall.
They loved to watch me make it and stood right by the stove.
Until it was completely finished cooking and into it they dove.
Now my grandchildren also love it, even when they are well.
They all know how to make it, but they would never tell.
For it has been a family secret for more years than I can count.
Making it for dear sick friends, when they are down and out.
The littlest of my grandson’s stands right by the stove.
He watches everything I do, how to make it he now knows.
He gets out the crackers, then the milk, sugar and the butter.
He tells me what to do all through and not a word do I utter.
When finished and steaming in the little pot, his tiny tongue I see.
Just licking his watering lips and bringing memories back to me.
Suddenly I realized, those who’ve gone before will remain in the loop.
Never to be forgotten, as long as our offspring make Cracker Soup.
I love your story above called GRANDMA'S HANDS. I was live with my paternal grandmother after my Mom died at 36. Grandma Johnson had an amazing affect on my life and even though she has now passed away I think of her almost every day. She lived to be 96 and I often thought of how much she had seen her life time and how much she had gone through. Thanks so much for bring back such a warm memory. She would have loved reading that story.
Elise--Proud fanclub member and mother of 3 beautiful furry children!!!
In a supermarket, Kurtis the stock boy, was busily working when a new voice
came over the loud speaker asking for a carry out at register 4. Kurtis was
almost finished, and wanted to get some fresh air, and decided to answer the
call. As he approached the check-out stand a distant smile caught his eye, the new check-out girl was beautiful. She was a tad older (maybe 26, and he was only 22) and he fell in love.
Later that day, after his shift was over, he waited by the punch clock to find
out her name. She came into the break room, smiled softly at him, took her card and punched out, then left. He looked at her card, BRENDA. He walked out only to see her start walking up the road. Next day, he waited outside as she left the supermarket, and offered her a ride home. He looked harmless enough, and she accepted. When he dropped her off, he asked if maybe he could see her again, outside of work. She simply said it wasn't possible.
He pressed and she explained she had two children and she couldn't afford a
baby-sitter, so he offered to pay for the baby-sitter. Reluctantly she accepted
his offer for a date for the following Saturday. That Saturday night he arrived
at her door only to have her tell him that she was unable to go with him. The
baby-sitter had called and canceled. To which Kurtis simply said, "Well,
let's take the kids with us."
She tried to explain that taking the children was not an option, but again not
taking no for an answer, he pressed. Finally Brenda, brought him inside to meet her children. She had an older daughter who was just as cute as a bug, Kurtis thought, then Brenda brought out her son, in a wheelchair. He was born a paraplegic with Down Syndrome.
Kurtis asked Brenda, "I still don't understand why the kids can't
come with us?" Brenda was amazed. Most men would run away from a woman with two kids, especially if one had disabilities - just like her first husband and father of her children had done. Kurtis was not ordinary - - - he had a different mindset.
That evening Kurtis and Brenda loaded up the kids, went to dinner and the
movies. When her son needed anything Kurtis would take care of him. When he needed to use the restroom, he picked him up out of his wheelchair, took him and brought him back. The kids loved Kurtis. At the end of the evening, Brenda knew this was the man she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life with.
A year later, they were married and Kurtis adopted both of her children.
Since then they have added two more kids.
So what happened to Kurtis the stock boy and Brenda the check-out girl? Well, Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Warner now live in Arizona , where he is currently employed as the quarterback of the National Football League Arizona Cardinals and has his Cardinals in the hunt for a possible appearance in the Super Bowl. Is this a surprise ending or could you have guessed that he was not an ordinary person.
Kurtis is also a devout Christian and a leader in many Bible study programs with his team mates and other professional football players, and is highly respected in the National Football League.
It should be noted that Kurtis Warner also quarterbacked the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
He has also been the NLF's Most Valuable Player twice and the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.
It comes as no surprise that Kurtis is going to SUPER BOWL XLII again this time with THE PHOENIX CARDINALS