Angela's Inspiration Stories 3.33 megs by cuiliqing

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									  Angela's Inspirational
         Stories
       Dr. Angela Muñiz Aschbrenner




                            Dr. Angela Aschbrenner, recip-
                            ient of several distinguished
                            national    and     international
                            awards, has compiled more
                            than 50 years of educational
                            experiences      into     several
                            easy-to-read booklets.
                            Dr. Aschbrenner holds two
                            Ph.D.s specializing in educa-
                            tional leadership, earned solely
                            on scholarships and a Delta
                            Kappa Gamma grant. She
                            serves as a consultant to her
                            previous school district in
                            southern California, the U.S.
                            Department of Defense, the In-
ternational Association of Secondary Principals, European
Council of International Schools, and EARCOS. She pres-
ents international workshops on leadership, self-esteen,
and motivation. She also holds state offices in CADA, Delta
Kappa Gamma, and the California Retired Teachers Asso-
ciation (CRTA).                                        -2008-
I am already planning Volume II, so if you have a special in-
spirational story, please send it to me at the following ad-
dress.
                Dr. Angela M. Aschbrenner
                707 S. Sierra Ave., Unit 17
                Solana Beach, CA 92075-2642
                Tel.: 858-259-6854
                e-mail: DRAASCH4@aol.com
-2-
                Angela's Inspirational
                       Stories
         Table of Contents
Analogy of God ........................................................... 21
Appreciation ................................................................ 95
Around and Around ..................................................... 15
Breakfast at McDonald's ............................................. 85
Can I Borrow $25 ........................................................ 48
Carlin Tribute Commentary ......................................... 29
Carpenter's Solution ................................................... 61
Chivalry in a Third Grade Class ................................... 67
Classroom Activity = Lifetime Impact! ......................... 22
Coffee Lesson ............................................................ 38
Crabby Old Woman .................................................... 43
Crack[ed]pot................................................................ 94
Daddy's Empty Chair ................................................... 71
Daffodil Principle ......................................................... 91
Deck of Cards ............................................................. 6
Different Point of View—1........................................... 17
Different Point of View—2........................................... 19
Duck and the Devil ..................................................... 77
Eye-ful Views .............................................................. 25
Feeling Old ................................................................. 27
Five Life Lessons ........................................................ 64
Four Boyfriends .......................................................... 31
Glass of Milk ................................................................ 87
God and the Spider ..................................................... 8
I'm Invisible ................................................................. 33
Information Please ...................................................... 82
International Navy Conference ................................... 69
Keep Your Fork .......................................................... 11
Keepers ...................................................................... 37
Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee ................... 26
Memories in Action ...................................................... 53
Most Valued Treasure ................................................ 45
Mystery Resolved ........................................................ 68
Nails in the Fence ........................ .............................. 20
Notice Something Beautiful ......................................... 39
Pass It On ................................................................... 79

                                       -3-
Paul Harvey Comments ..........................................               70
Prayer for Gifts ........................................................     73
Prayer for Military ....................................................       9
Old Man and the Dog ..............................................            73
One at a Time .........................................................       63
Puppies for Sale .....................................................        13
Real-Moment Deprivation .......................................               49
Red Marbles ...........................................................       88
Remember When ...................................................             59
Sneeze ....................................................................   24
Son's Love ..............................................................     14
Special Olympics—Special Participants .................                       81
Story Behind "The Praying Hands" .........................                    56
Take My Son ..........................................................        41
Tomorrow ...............................................................      16
Two Horses ............................................................       90
Whale .....................................................................   78
Wheels of Life .........................................................       5
Who Makes What? .................................................             62
Who Packed Your Parachute .................................                   10
Wooden Bowl .........................................................         51
Your Wonderful Life ................................................          35




                                        -4-
Bless EVERYTHING that happens in your life in the next few
days.
Curse ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that hapens in your life for
the next few days.
Accept that: Everything happens for a reason.
Simply put, thank the infinite for everything that you get, and
don't even think of cursing anything that happens to you. Good
or bad, just do it! You have nothing to lose. No one will even
know that you are doing anything special, and within a very short
time, I promise that miracles will begin to happen in your life. I
hope that some of the following stories will touch you.
Consciousness struggles with counter intentions when creating.
Awareness creates without effort. Let awareness create what
you would like.
Since friends sent me a number of the following stories, some
with no credits and some with different names as originators, I
am not including credits unless I am certain of the author's iden-
tity. I planned to separate the stories into different categories,
but finally, I decided that each reader may find something spe-
cial by traveling through the pages less taken.
                               -5-
               The Deck of Cards                                    Each of us has our own unique flaw. It's the cracks and
                                                                    flaws each of us has that make our lives together so very
During the North African campaign in World War II, a                interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take all people
bunch of soldier boys had been on a long hike. They ar-             for what they are and look for the good in them.
rived in a little town called Cassino, and since the next day
was Sunday, several of the boys went to church.                       To all of my crackpot friends: Have a great day and
                                                                                 remember to smell the flowers!
After the chaplain read the prayer, the text was taken up.
Those of the boys who had prayer books read them aloud,
but one boy had only a deck of cards, so he spread them                                  Appreciation
out.                                                                               Dr. Angela Muñiz Aschbrenner
The sergeant who commanded the boys saw the cards and               Appreciation is a free gift that you can give to anyone you
said, "Soldier, put away those cards."                              encounter; it is completely your choice. Each time you
After the service, the soldier was taken prisoner and taken         choose to thank someone for a job well done, you are mak-
before the provost marshal. The provost marshal said, Ser-          ing the world a better place.
geant, why have you brought this man here?"                         At one of my workshops, I asked participants to close their
"For playing cards in church, sir."                                 eyes and think of someone who had touched his/her life
                                                                    and rekindled inner lights. Then I asked if they had thanked
"And what have you to say for yourself, son?"                       that person to validate their actions. A participant came to
"Much, sir," the soldier replied.                                   me later and said he thought of one of his favorite teachers
                                                                    who had made such an impact on him and others that he
The marshal said, "I hope so, for if not, I shall punish you        would write to her ASAP. Later, I received a call from this
severely."                                                          man, and he read the teacher's letter, a response which
                                                                    said, "In all the years that I enjoyed teaching, this is the first
The soldier responded, "You see, sir, I had been on the             time I received a 'Thank you' letter. I am retired and live
march for six days and I had neither Bible nor prayer book,         alone and often wondered if I had made a positive, signifi-
but I hope to satisfy you, sir, with the purity of my intentions.   cant difference. I read your beautiful letter over and over.
You see, sir,                                                       Thank you for validating my life."
        • When I look at the ace, it reminds me that there is       This reminded me of one of my own
          but one God.                                              teachers, Mrs. Greenwald. She encour-
        • When I see the deuce, it reminds me that the Bi-          aged me to go on in education and com-
          ble is divided into two parts, the old and new tes-       plimented me on my achievements. Be-
          taments.                                                  cause of her, I became a teacher. When I
        • When I see the trey, I think of the Father, the Son       received my first Ph.D., I wrote and ex-
          and the Holy Ghost.                                       pressed my appreciation for all that she
                                                                    had done and let her know how she had
        • When I see the four, I think of the four evangelists      been my inspiration. She wrote back and
          who preached the gospel; they are Matthew,                let me know that she appreciated hearing
          Mark, Luke, and John.                                     from me. She was living in a retirement
        • When I see the five, it reminds me of the five vir-       home. My second letter to her was re-
          gins who trimmed their lamps. There were ten of           turned because she had passed away.
          them—five were wise and were saved; five were             Everyone needs validation as others express their appreci-
          foolish and were shut out.                                ation, so think of those who have touched your life and re-
        • When I see the six, it reminds me that in six days,       kindled your inner light. Thank them TODAY!!! before it is
          God made this great heaven and earth.                     too late!!!
                               -6-                                                                        Love, Angela
                                                                                                  -95-
   There is no better time than right now to be happy.                   • When I see the seven, it reminds me that on the
        Happiness is a journey, not a destination.                          seventh day, God rested.
             Work like you don't need money.                             • When I see the eight, I think of the eight righteous
             Love like you've never been hurt.                              persons God saved when He destroyed Earth.
                                                                            These were Noah, his wife, and their three sons
              Dance like no one is watching.                                and their wives.
          Wishing you a beautiful, daffodil day!                         • When I see the nine, I think of the lepers our Sav-
 Don't be afraid that your life will end; be afraid that it will            ior cleansed and nine of the ten didn't even thank
                        never begin!                                        Him.
                                                                         • When I see the ten, I think of the ten command-
                    Crack[ed]pot                                            ments God handed to Moses on the tablet of
                                                                            stone.
                          An elderly Chinese woman had                   • When I see the king, it reminds me once again
                          two large pots; each hung on one                  that there is but one King of Heaven, God Al-
                          of the ends of a pole which she                   mighty.
                          carried across her neck. One of                • When I see the queen, I think of the blessed Vir-
                          the pots had a crack in it; the other             gin Mary who is Queen of Heaven.
                          pot was perfect and always deliv-
                          ered a full portion of water.                  • The jack or knave is the devil.
                          At the end of the long walk from               • When I count the number of spots on a deck of
                          the stream to the house, the                      cards, I find 365, the number of days in a year.
                          cracked pot arrived only half full.            • There are 52 cards, the number of weeks in a
                          For a full two years, this went on                year.
                          daily, and the woman took home                 • There are 13 tricks, the number of weeks in a
                          only one and a half pots of water.                quarter.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplish-
ments. The poor cracked pot, however, was ashamed of its                 • There are four suits, the number of weeks in a
own imperfection and miserable that it could do only half of                month.
what it had been made to do.                                             • There are 12 picture cards, the number of months
                                                                            in a year.
After two years of what the cracked pot perceived to be bit-
ter failure, one day by the stream, it spoke to the woman. "I      So you see, sir, my deck of cards has served me as a Bible,
am ashamed of myself because this crack in my side                 a prayer book, and an almanac."
causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."          The charges were dismissed.
The old woman smiled and said, "Did you notice that there
are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other
pot's side? That's because I have always known about
your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the
path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.
For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flow-
ers to decorate the table. Without your being just the way
you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the
house."


                              -94-
                                                                                               -7-
              God and the Spider
                                                                 One day at a time, she had created something of extraordi-
                                                                 nary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle
                                                                 her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles
                                                                 of celebration.
                                                                 That principle is learning to move toward your goals and
                                                                 desires one step at a time, often just one baby-step at a
                                                                 time, learning to love the doing, and learning to use the ac-
                                                                 cumulation of time. When we multiply tiny places of time
                                                                 with small increments of daily effort, we, too, will find that
During World War II, a U.S. marine was separated from his        we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the
unit on a Pacific island. The fighting had been intense, and     world!
in the smoke and crossfire, he had lost touch with his com-
rades.                                                           "It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What
                                                                 might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful
                                                                 goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it
                                                                 'one bulb at a time' through all those years? Just think what
                                                                 I might have been able to achieve!"
                                                                 My daughter summed up the message of the day in her
                                                                 usual direct way. "Start tomorrow," she said.
Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming         She was right. It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of
in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a    yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebra-
high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly, he       tion instead of a cause for regret is to ask only, "How can I
crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the mo-       put this to use today?"
ment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for
him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all of the     Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting . . .
caves, and he would be killed.                                           < Until your car or home is paid off
                                                                         < Until you get a new car or home
As he waited, he prayed:      Lord, if it be your will, please           < Until your kids leave the house
                              protect me.                                < Until you go back to school
                              Whatever your will, though, I              < Until you finish school
                             love you and trust you. Amen                < Until you clean the house
After praying, he lay quietly—listening to the enemy begin               < Until you organize the garage
to draw close. He thought, "Well, I guess the Lord isn't go-             < Until you clean off your desk
ing to help me out of this one."                                         < Until you lose 10 lbs.
                                                                         < Until you gain 10 lbs.
Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of              < Until you get married
this cave.                                                               < Until you get a divorce
                                                                         < Until you have kids
                                                                         < Until the kids go to school
                                                                         < Until you retire
                                                                         < Until summer
                                                                         < Until spring
                                                                         < Until winter
                                                                         < Until fall
                                                                         < Until you die
                             -8-                                                              -93-
                                                                As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all
"It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive      the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web
yourself if you miss this experience."                          across the opening of the cave.
                                    After abut 20 minutes,      "Hah," he thought, "what I need is a brick wall and what the
                                    we turned onto a small      Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense
                                    gravel road, and I saw a    of humor!"
                                    small church. On the far
                                    side of the church, I saw   As the enemy drew closer, he watched from the darkness
                                    a hand-lettered sign with   of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after
                                    an arrow that read Daffo-   another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last
                                    dil Garden. We got out      stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the di-
                                    of the car and took the     rection of his cave, they moved on. Suddenly, he realized
                                    children's hands. I fol-    that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked
                                    lowed Carolyn down the      as if no one had entered for quite a while.
path. Then as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped.
Before us lay the most glorious sight! It looked as though
someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over
the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers
were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons
and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow,          "Lord, forgive me," prayed the young man. "I had forgotten
salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different col-    that in you, a spider's web is stronger than a brick wall."
ored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled
and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There    All of us face times of great trouble. When we do, it is easy
were five acres of flowers.                                     to forget what God can work in our lives—sometimes in the
                                                                most surprising ways. Remember that with God, a mere
"Who did this?" I asked Carolyn.                                spider's web may become a brick wall of protection.
"Just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the
property. That's her home."
Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, small and
modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up
to the house. On the patio, we saw a poster.
"Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking," was
the headline.
The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read.
The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman,
two hands, two feet, and one brain."
                                                                               Prayer for Military
                                                                                 Lord, I thank you for all of
The third answer was, "Began in 1958."
                                                                                 our military members and
For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I                                   their families.
thought of this woman whom I had never met and who,
more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a                          I pray for your brick wall of
time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure                        protection to protect them
mountain top. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year,                              every day!!!
the unknown woman had forever changed the world in                                          Amen
which she lived.
                                                                                             -9-
                            -92-
     Who Packed Your Parachute?                                  cause we have problems or challenges. He watches over
                                                                 us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we
                         As a leader, do you honor and ap-       are in need.
                         preciate the power of WE? Do you
                         stop to thank and recognize the         Sometimes, we are like the blind horse being guided by the
                         members of your team? Do you            little ringing bells of those whom God has placed in our
                         consistently show an attitude of        lives. Other times, we are the guide horses helping others
                         gratitude?                              to find their ways. Good friends are like that. You may not
                                                                 always see them, but you know they are always there.
                         Here is a great story about Captain     Please listen for our bells, and we'll listen for yours. Re-
                         Charles Plumb, a graduate of the        member:
                         Naval Academy, whose plane, af-                          Be kinder than necessary.
ter 74 successful combat missions over North Viet Nam,
was shot down. He parachuted to safety, but he was cap-             Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
tured and tortured, and he spent 2,103 days in a small
box-like cell.
                                                                            Daffodil Principle
After surviving the ordeal, Captain Plumb received the Sil-
ver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, and two Purple           Several times my daughter had telephoned to
Hearts. After he returned to America, he spoke to many           say, Mother, you must come to see the daffodils
groups about his experience and how it compared with the         before they finish blooming."
challenges of every day life.
                                                                 I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from
Shortly after returning home, Charlie and his wife were sit-     Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. "I will go next Tues-
ting in a restaurant. A man rose from a nearby table,            day," I promised a little reluctantly on her third
walked over to him, and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet        call.
fighters in Viet Nam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk.
You were shot down!"                                             Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised,
                                                                 and—reluctantly—I drove there. When I finally walked into
Surprised that he was recognized, Charlie responded,             Carolyn's house, I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of
"How in the world did you know that?"                            happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my
The man replied, "I packed your parachute."                      grandchildren.
Charlie looked up with surprise. The man pumped his              "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in these
hand, gave a thumbs up, and said, "I guess it worked!"           clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you
                                                                 and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive
Charlie stood to shake the man's hand and assured him, "It       another inch!"
most certainly did work. If it had not worked, I would not be
here today."                                                     My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all
                                                                 the time, Mother."
Thinking about the man, Charlie could not sleep that night.
He wondered if he might have seen him and not even said,         "Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and
"Good morning! How are you?" He thought of the many              then I'm heading for home!" I assured her.
hours the sailor had spent bending over a long wooden ta-        "First, we're going to see the daffodils," Carolyn re-
ble in the bottom of the ship, carefully folding the silks and   sponded. "It's just a few blocks from here. I'll drive. I'm used
weaving the shrouds of each chute, each time holding in          to this."
his hands the fate of someone he didn't know.
                                                                 We left with Carolyn behind the wheel, but the air remained
Plumb then began to realize that along with the physical         "soupy" and sight distance was very restricted.
parachute, he needed mental, emotional, and spiritual
                                                                 "Carolyn," I said sternly. "Please turn around."
                             -10-                                                             -91-
With loving gentleness, she lifted the                            parachutes. He had called on all of these supports during
lifeless fingers of her deceased hus-                             his long and painful ordeal.
band. Resting underneath were three
exquisitely shined red marbles.                                   As a leader, how many times a day, a week, a month, do
                                                                  we pass up the opportunity to thank those people in our
                                                                  lives who are "packing our parachutes"?
                                                                  Now is a good time to start!
The moral:
       We will not be remembered by our words,
                  but by our kind deeds.
      Life is not measured by the breaths we take,                                 Keep Your Fork
     but by the moments that take our breath away.
                                                                  A young woman had been diagnosed with a terminal ill-
                                                                  ness and given three months to live. As she was getting her
                    Two Horses                                    things "in order," she asked her pastor to go to her house to
                                                                  discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him
Just up the road from my home is a field with two horses in       which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scrip-
it. From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse,       tures she would like to have read, and what outfit she
but if you stop your car, or if you walk by, you will notice      wanted to wear.
something quite amazing. Looking into the eyes of one             Everything was in order, and the pastor was preparing to
horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen        leave when the young woman suddenly remembered
not to have him put down, but has made a good home for            something very important to her. "There's one more thing,"
him. This alone is amazing.                                       she said excitedly.
If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a      "What's that?" the pastor asked.
bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, you will
see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field. At-        "This is very important," the young woman continued. "I
tached to the horse's halter is a small bell. It lets the blind   want to be buried with a fork in my right hand."
friend know where the other horse is so that he can follow.       The pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing
As you stand and watch these two friends, you will see that       quite what to say.
the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind           "That surprises you, doesn't it?" the young woman asked.
horse and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and
then walk slowly to the place where the other horse is            "Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," admitted
standing, trusting that he will not be led astray.                the pastor.
When the horse with the bell                                      The young woman explained, "My grandmother once told
returns to the shelter of the                                     me this story, and from that time on, I have always tried to
barn each evening, it stops                                       pass its message along to those I love and to those who
occasionally and looks back                                       are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending
to make sure that the blind                                       socials and dinners, I always remembered that when the
friend is not too far behind to                                   dishes of the main course were being cleared away, some-
hear the bell.                                                    one would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep your fork.' It
                                                                  was my favorite part of the meal because I knew that some-
Like the owners of these                                          thing better was coming—like velvety chocolate cake or
two horses, God does not                                          deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful—and with sub-
throw us away just because                                        stance! I just want people to see me there in that casket
we are not perfect or be-                                         with a fork in my hand, and I want them to wonder 'What's
                             -90-                                                             -11-
                                                               like him in our community. All three are in very poor circum-
with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them: 'Keep your       stances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, ap-
fork—the best is yet to come.'"                                ples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with
The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged     their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he does-
the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of         n't like red after all, and he sends them home with a bag of
the last times he would see her before her death. He also      produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they
knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven         come on their next trip to the store."
than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would       I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A
be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much     short time later, I moved to Colorado, but I never forgot the
experience and knowledge. She knew that something              story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.
better was coming.
                                                               Several years went by, each more rapidly than the previ-
At the funeral, people walked past the young woman's cas-      ous one. Recently, I had occasion to visit some old friends
ket and saw the outfit she was wearing and the fork placed     in that Idaho community, and while I was there, I learned
in her right hand. Over and over, the pastor heard the ques-   that Mr. Miller had just died. They were having his visitation
tion, "What's with the fork?" Over and over, he smiled.        that evening, and knowing my friends wanted to go, I
During his message, the pastor told the people of the con-     agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary,
versation he had with the young woman shortly before she       we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to
died. He also told them about the fork and about what it       offer whatever words of comfort we could.
symbolized to her. He told them how he could not stop          Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an
thinking about the fork and that they probably would not be    army uniform and the other two had nice haircuts and wore
able to stop thinking about it either.                         dark suits and white shirts—all very professional looking.
He was right. The next time you reach down for your fork,      They approached Mrs. Miller who was standing composed
let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to     and smiling by her husband's casket. Each of the three
come. Friends are very rare jewels indeed. They make you       young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke
smile, and they encourage you to succeed.                      briefly with her, and moved on to the casket.
Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a        Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one,
sweet responsibility. Cherish the time you have and the        each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm
memories you share—and keep your fork!                         hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the
                                                               mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.
                                                               Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and
                                                               reminded her of the story from those many years ago and
                                                               what she had told me about her husband's bartering for
                                                               marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and
                                                               led me to the casket.
                                                               Those three young men who just left were the boys I told
                                                               you about. They just told me how they appreciated the
                                                               things Jim "traded" with them. Now, at last, when Jim could
                                                               not change his mind about color or size, they came to pay
                                                               their debt."
                                                               "We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,"
                                                               she confided, "but right now, Jim would consider himself
                                                               the richest man in Idaho."

                            -12-                                                            -89-
Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed:                           Puppies for Sale
  Thank You, God, that Your love has spread abroad
            through human hearts and hands.                       A farmer had four puppies that he needed to sell. He
                                                                  painted a sign and set about nailing it to a post on the edge
                                                                  of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he
                    Red Marbles                                   felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a
                                                                  little boy.
I was at the corner grocery store buying some early pota-         "Mister," the child said, "I want to buy one of your puppies."
toes when I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and fea-
tures, ragged, but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of          "Well," said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back
freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes, but I was      of his neck. "These puppies come from fine parents and
also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a push-       cost a good deal of money."
over for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the
peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between        The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching
Mr. Miller, the store owner, and the ragged boy next to me.       deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and
                                                                  held it up to the farmer. "I've got thirty-nine cents. Is that
"Hello, Barry. How are you today?" asked Mr. Miller.              enough to take a look?"
"H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas.       "Sure," said the farmer. He whistled and then called, "Here,
They sure look good."                                             Dolly!"
"They are good, Barry. How's your ma?"                            Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly fol-
"Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time."                              lowed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face
                                                                  against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with light. As
"Good. Would you like to take some peas home with you?"           the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed
asked Mr. Miller.                                                 something else stirring inside the doghouse. Slowly another
                                                                  little ball appeared; it was noticeably smaller. Down the
"No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with."                       ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner, the little
"Well, what have you got to trade me for some of those            pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to
peas?"                                                            catch up.
"All I got's my prize marble here," Barry answered.               "I want that one," the little boy said, pointing to the runt.
"Is that right? Let me see it," said Miller.                      The farmer knelt down at
                                                                  the boy's side and said,
"Here 'tis. She's a dandy."                                       "Son, you don't want that
"I can see that. Hmmmmm. Only thing is this                       puppy. He will never be
one is blue, and I sort of go for red. Do you have                able to run and play with
a red one like this at home?" the store owner                     you like these other dogs
asked.                                                            would."
"Not zackley, but almost."                                        With that, the little boy
                                                                  stepped back from the
Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you, and          fence, reached down, and
next trip this way, let me look at that red marble," Mr. Miller   began rolling up one leg
told the boy.                                                     of his trousers. In doing
"Sure will. Thanks, Mr. Miller."                                  so, he revealed a steel
                                                                  brace running down both
Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to           sides of his leg and at-
help me. With a smile, she said, "There are two other boys
                             -88-                                                                -13-
tached to a specially-made shoe. Looking back up at the          Much love and compassion are sent to each person who
farmer, he said, "You see, sir, I don't run too well myself,                may read this and learn how to:
and he will need someone who understands."                                   Love people and use things,
With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked                 not love things and use people!
up the little pup. Holding it carefully, he handed it to the
boy.
"How much?" asked the little boy.
                                                                                   A Glass of Milk
"No charge," answered the farmer. "There's no charge for         One day, a poor boy, who was selling goods from door to
love."                                                           door to pay is way through school, found that he had only
                                                                 one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he
The world is full of people who need someone who under-          would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost
stands.                                                          his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. In-
                                                                 stead of a meal, he asked for a drink of water.
                   A Son's Love                                           She thought he looked hungry, so she brought him a
                                                                          large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then he
A nurse took the tired, anxious                                           asked, "How much do I owe you?"
serviceman to the bedside.                                                "You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother
"Your son is here," she said to the                                       has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness."
old man. She had to repeat the                                            He said, "Then I thank you from my heart." As
words several times before the                                   Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger phys-
patient's eyes opened. Heavily                                   ically, but his faith in God and man was stronger, also. He
sedated because of the pain fol-                                 had been ready to give up and quit.
lowing his heart attack, he dimly
saw the young uniformed Marine                                   Years later, that young woman became critically ill. The lo-
standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand.       cal doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city
The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old          where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.
man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and en-             Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When
couragement.                                                     he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange
                                                                 light filled his eyes. Immediately, he rose and went down
The nurse brought a chair so that the marine could sit be-       the hall of the hospital to her room.
side the bed. All through the night, the young marine sat
there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand     Dressed in his doctor's gown, he went in to see the patient.
and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally,       He recognized her at once. He went back to the consulta-
the nurse suggested that the marine move away and rest a         tion room determined to do his best to save her life. From
while. He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the              that day, he gave special attention to the case.
ward, the marine was oblivious of her and of the night           After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly re-
noises of the hospital—the clanking of the oxygen tank, the      quested that the business office pass the final bill to him for
laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings,        approval. He looked at the bill and wrote something on the
the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then,         edge. Then the bill was sent to her room. She feared to
the nurse heard the young man say a few gentle words.            open it because she was sure it would take the rest of her
The dying man said nothing, but he held tightly to his son all   life to pay all of it. Finally, she looked, and something
through the night.                                               caught her attention on the side of the bill.
Toward dawn, the old man died. The marine released the           She read these words: Paid in full with one glass of milk. It
now-lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the       was signed by Dr. Howard Kelly.
                             -14-                                                           -87-
with them. The young woman at the counter asked the men
what they wanted.                                                 nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited. Finally,
                                                                  she returned and started to offer words of sympathy, but
The blue-eyed one said, "Coffee is all, Miss," because that       the marine interrupted her.
was all they could afford. If they wanted to sit in the restau-
rant and warm up, they had to buy something, and they just        "Who was that man?" he asked.
wanted to get warm.                                               The nurse was startled. "He was your father," she an-
Then I really felt it—a compulsion so great that I almost         swered.
reached out and embraced the little man with the blue             "No, he wasn't," the marine replied. "I never saw him before
eyes. It was also the moment when I noticed that all eyes in      in my life."
the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I
smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give        "Then why didn't you say something when I took you to
me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray.                   him?"
                 When the breakfasts were handed to me, I
                 walked around the corner to the table that       I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also
                 the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put      knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn't here.
                 the a tray on the table and laid my hand on      When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I
                 the blue-eyed gentleman's cold hand. He          was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed."
                 looked up at me with tears in his eyes and       The next time someone needs you, just be there. Stay!
                 said, "Thank you."                               This is what we are put on this earth to do anyway. Right?
I leaned over, began to pat his hand, and said, "I did not do
this for you. God is here working through me to give you
hope."                                                                         Around and Around
I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and                              A True Story
son. When I sat down, my husband smiled at me and said,           His name was Fleming and he was a poor Welsh farmer.
"That is why God gave you to me, Honey, to give me hope."         One day, while he was trying to earn a living for his family,
We held hands for a moment, and at that time, we knew             he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby swamp. He
that only because of the grace we had been given, we were         dropped his tools and ran to the swamp. There he found a
able to give. We are not church goers, but we are believers.      terrified young boy who was up to his waist in damp black
That day showed me the pure light of God's sweet love.            compost; he was screaming and trying to break free.
                                                                  Farmer Fleming saved the boy from what would have been
I returned to college on the last evening of class with this      a slow and painful death. On the following day, an elegant
story in hand. I turned in my project, and the instructor read    carriage arrived at his farm. An elegantly dressed noble-
it. Then she looked up at me and said, "May I share this?"        man got down and presented himself as the father of the
                                                                  boy Fleming had saved the day before.
I nodded slowly. She got the attention of the class and be-
gan to read. That was the moment when I knew that we, as          "I want to compensate you," said the nobleman. "You
human beings and beings who are a part of God, share this         saved my son's life." At that moment, the farmer's son
need to heal people and to be healed.                             came to the door of their cabin. "Is that your son?" the no-
                                                                  bleman asked.
In my own way, I had touched the people at McDonald's,
including my husband and our son, and also the class in-          "Yes," the farmer answered with pride.
structor and every other soul who shared the classroom on         "Let's make a deal," the nobleman proposed. "Allow me to
the last night I spent as a college student. I was graduated      give to your son the same level of education that my son
with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn:               will enjoy. If the boy is anything like his father, I have no
UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE.
                                 -86-
                                                                                              -15-
doubt that he will grow up to be a man we will all be proud
of."                                                          The note said, "Tell him to remember there are other
The farmer accepted, and Farmer Fleming's son attended        worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean."
the best school of the time. He was graduated from St.        I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.
Mary's Medical School in London. Later, he became known
to the world as the renowned Dr. Alexander Fleming, the        Never underestimate the impression you may make on
inventor of penicillin.                                                              others.
Years later, the boy Farmer Flem-
ing had saved from the swamp
became sick with pneumonia.
                                                                       Breakfast at McDonald's
                                                                                  A True Story
What saved his life this time?
Penicillin                                                                   I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, and 3),
                                                                             and I recently completed my college degree.
Who was the nobleman? Sir                                                    The last class I had to take was sociology.
Randolph Churchill                                                           The teacher was absolutely inspiring; she
What was the name of the noble-                                              exhibited qualities that I wish every human
man's son? Sir Winston Churchill                                             being had been graced with. Her last project
                                                                             of the term was called "Smile."
Someone once said, "What goes around comes around.
Work as if you don't need the money. Sing as if no one                       The class was asked to go out and smile at
were listening. Live as if Heaven resided on Earth."                         three people and document their reactions. I
                                                              am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone
                                                              and say, "Hello." Therefore, I thought this would be a piece
                     Tomorrow                                 of cake—literally! Soon after we were assigned the project,
                                                              my husband, our youngest son, and I went to McDonald's
Around the corner                 Tired of playing            one crisp March morning.
I have a friend                   A foolish game,             This visit was one of our ways of sharing special play time
In this great city                Tired of trying             with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be
That has no end.                  To make a name.             served, when all of a sudden, everyone around us began to
Yet the days go by,               "Tomorrow," I say,          back away; then even my husband did. I did not move an
And weeks rush on,                "I'll call on Jim           inch, but an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside
And before I know it,             Just to show that           of me as i turned to see why they had moved. As I turned
A year is gone.                   I'm thinking of him."       around, I smelled a horrible "dirty body" smell, and there.
I never see                       But tomorrow comes,         standing behind me, were two poor homeless men. As I
My old friend's face              And tomorrow goes, and      looked down at the short gentleman close to me, I saw that
For life is a swift               The distance between us     he was smiling. His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of
And terrible race.                Grows and grows.            God's light as he searched for acceptance.
He knows I like him               Around the corner,          He said, "Good day," as he counted
Just as well                      Yet miles away—             the few coins he had been clutching.
As in the days                    "Here's a telegram, sir."   The second man fumbled with his
When I rang his bell.             Jim died today.             hands as he stood behind his friend. I
                                                              realized that the second man was
He rang mine, but                 That's what we get and      mentally     challenged     and     the
We were younger then,             Deserve in the end.         blue-eyed gentleman was his salva-
And now we are busy,              Around the corner,          tion. I held my tears as I stood there
Tired old men.                    A vanished friend.
                           -16-
                                                                                          -85-
                                                                  Remember always to say what you mean. If you love
plexity, I would recall the serene sense of security I had        someone, tell that person. Don't be afraid to express your-
then. I appreciated how patient, understanding, and kind          self. Reach out and tell someone what he/she means to
she was to have spent her time on a little boy.                   you. Don't wait because if you decide later that the time is
A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put        right, it might be too late. Seize the day. Never have re-
down in Seattle. I had about half an hour between planes. I       grets. Most important, stay close to your family and friends
spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who           for they have helped make you the person you are today.
lived there. Then without thinking about what I was doing, I
dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information,
please." Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew             A Different Point of View—1
so well.
                                                                  In the faint light of the attic, an old man, tall and stooped,
"Information."                                                    bent his great frame and made his way to a stack of boxes
I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, "Could you      that sat near one of the little half-windows. Brushing aside
please tell me how to spell fix?"                                 a wisp of cobwebs, he tilted the top box toward the light and
                                                                  carefully began to lift out one old photograph album after
There was a long pause. Then came the soft-spoken voice.          another. Eyes once bright, but now dim, searched long-
"I guess your finger must have healed by now."                    ingly for the source that had drawn him there.
I laughed. "So it's really still you," I said. "I wonder if you   It began with fond recollections of the love of his life, long
have any idea how much you meant to me during that                gone, and somewhere in these albums was a photo of her
time."                                                            that he hoped to rediscover. Silent as a mouse, he patiently
"I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your calls            opened the long-buried treasures and soon was lost in a
meant to me. I never had any children, and I used to look         sea of memories. Although his world had not stopped spin-
forward to your calls."                                           ning when his wife left it, the past was more alive in his
                                                                  heart than in his present aloneness.
I told her how often I had thought of her over the years, and
I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my    Setting aside one of the dusty albums, he pulled from the
sister.                                                           box what appeared to be a journal from his grown son's
                                                                  childhood. He could not recall ever having seen it before, or
"Please do," she said. "Just ask for Sally."                      that his son had ever kept a journal. Shaking his white
Three months later, I was back in Seattle. This time, a dif-      head, he wondered why Elizabeth always saved the chil-
ferent voice answered, "Information."                             dren's old junk.
I asked for Sally.                                                Opening the yellowed pages, he glanced over a short read-
                                                                  ing, and his lips curved in an unconscious smile. Even his
"Are you a friend?" she asked.                                    eyes brightened as he read the words that spoke clearly
"Yes, my name is Paul and I'm a very old friend," I an-           and sweetly to his soul. It was the voice of the little boy who
swered.                                                           had grown up far too fast in this very house and whose
                                                                  voice had grown fainter and fainter over the years. In the
"I'm sorry to tell you this," she said. "Sally had been work-     utter silence of the attic, the words of a guileless
ing part-time the last few years because she was sick. She        six-year-old worked their magic and carried the old man
died five weeks ago."                                             back to a time almost totally forgotten.
Before I could hang up, she continued, "Wait a minute. Did        Entry after entry stirred a sentimental hunger in his heart
you say your name was Paul?"                                      like the longing a gardener feels in the winter for the fra-
                                                                  grance of spring flowers. That hunger, however, was
"Yes."                                                            accompanied by the painful memory that his son's simple
"Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in
case you called. Let me read it to you."
                                                                                               -17-
                             -84-
recollections of those days were far diferent from his own.      "Information Please, I hurt my finger," I wailed into the
How diferent?                                                    phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an
                                                                 audience.
Reminded that he had kept a daily journal of his business
activities over the years, he closed his son's journal and       "Isn't your mother home?" she asked.
turned to leave, having forgotten the cherished photo that
originally triggered his search. Hunched over to keep from       "Nobody's home but me," I blubbered.
bumping his head on the rafters, the old man stepped to          "Are you bleeding?"
the wooden stairway, made his descent, and then headed
down a carpeted hallway that led to the den.                     "No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it
                                                                 hurts."
Opening a glass cabinet door, he reached in and pulled out
an old busines journal. Turning, he sat down at his desk         "Can you open your icebox?" she asked. I said I could.
and placed the two journals side by side. His was                "Then," the voice said, "chip off a little piece of ice and hold
leather-bound and engraved neatly with his name in gold,         it to your finger."
while his son's was tattered, and the name Jimmy had             After that, I called Information Please
been nearly scuffed from its surface. He ran a long skinny       for everything. I asked her for help
finger over the letters, as though he could restore what had     with my geography, and she told me
been worn away with time and use.                                where Philadelphia was. She helped
As he opened his journal, the old man's eyes fell upon an        me with my math. She told me my
inscription that stood out because it was so brief in compar-    pet chipmunk, that I had caught in
ison with other days' entries. In his own neat handwriting       the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.
were these words:                                                               Then there was the time Petey, our pet canary
Wasted the whole day fishing with Jimmy. Didn't catch a thing.                  died. I called Information Please and told her
                                                                                the sad story. She listened and then said the
With a deep sigh and a shaking hand, he took Jimmy's                            usual things grown ups say to soothe a child. I
journal and found the boy's entry for the same day, June 4.                     was unconsoled, however, and asked her,
Large scrawling letters pressed deeply into the paper read:                     "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully
      Went fishing with my dad. Best day of my life.                            and bring joy to families only to end up as a
                                                                                heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"
     Remember: To a child, Love is spelled T-I-M-E.
                                                                 She must have sensed my deep concern for she said qui-
                                                                 etly, "Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to
                                                                 sing in."
                                                                 Somehow, I felt better. By that time, the Information Please
                                                                 voice was familiar to me. One day, I called her and asked,
                                                                 "How do you spell fix?"
                                                                 All of this took place in a small town in the Pacific North-
                                                                 west. When I was nine years old, we moved across the
                                                                                   country to Boston. I missed my friend very
                                                                                   much. Information Please belonged in that
                                                                                   old wooden box back home, and I somehow
                                                                                   never thought of trying the tall, shiny new
                                                                                   phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I
                                                                                   grew into my teens, the memories of those
                                                                                   childhood conversations never really left
                                                                                   me. Often, in moments of doubt and per-
                             -18-                                                             -83-
One girl with Down's Sndrome bent down and kissed him                  A Different Point of View—2
and said, "This will make it better." All nine children linked
arms and walked across the finish line together. Everyone        One day, the father in a very wealthy family took his son on
in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several       a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing
minutes.                                                         him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and
                                                                 nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor
People who were there are still telling the story. Why? The      family.
reason is that deep down, we know one thing:
     What truly matters in this life is helping others win,      On their return from the trip, the father asked his son,
                                                                 "What did you think of the trip?"
even if it means slowing down and changing our courses.
                                                                 "It was great, Dad," the son replied.
                                                                 "Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.
              Information Please
                                                                 "Oh, yeah!" said the son.
When I was quite young, my father had one of the first tele-     "So tell me—what did you learn from the trip?" inquired the
phones        installed   in   our                               father.
neigborhood. I remember well
the polished old case fastened                                   The son answered,
to the wall. The shiny receiver
hung on the side of the box. I                                   "I saw that we have one dog and they have four.
was too little to reach the tele-                                "We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden
phone, but I used to listen with                                 and they have a creek that has no end.
fascination when my mother
talked to it.                                                    "We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have
                                                                 the stars at night.
Then I discovered that some-
where inside the wonderful de-                                   "Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the
vice lived an amazing person.                                    whole horizon.
Her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing          "We have a small piece of land to live on and they have
she did not know. Information Please could supply any-           fields that go beyond our sight.
body's number and the correct time. My first personal ex-
perience with this genie-in-the-bottle came one day while        "We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.
my mother was visiting a neighbor.                                                                  "We buy our food, but
Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I                                                 they grow theirs.
whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible,                                             "We have walls around
but there didn't seem to be any reason to cry because there                                         our property to protect
was no one at home to give me sympathy. I walked around                                             us; they have friends to
the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at                                          protect them."
the stairway.
                                                                                                    The boy's father was
The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the foot stool in the parlor                                      speechless.
and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the
receiver and held it to my ear. Information Please, I said                                          Then his son aded,
into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two                                              "Thanks, Dad, for show-
later, a small, clear voice spoke into my ear.                                                      ing me how poor we are."



                             -82-                                                            -19-
Isn't perspective a wonderful thing! The son's responses          The old lady wondered how someone who had so little
make us wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks            could be so welcoming to a stranger. Then she remem-
for everything we have rather than worrying about what we         bered Bryan. After the lady finished her meal, she paid with
don't have.                                                       a hundred dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get
                                                                  change, but the old lady slipped out the door fast. She was
Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your           gone by the time the waitress returned. The waitress won-
friends! Pass this story on to others and help them refresh       dered where the lady could have gone.
their perspectives and appreciations.
                                                                  Then the waitress noticed something written on the napkin.
                                                                  There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady
                                                                  wrote: You don't owe me anything. I have been there, too.
                                                                  Somebody once helped me out the way I'm helping you. If
                                                                  you really want to pay me back, here is what you do—do
                                                                  not let this chain of love end wth you. Under the napkin
                                                                  were four more $100 bills.
                                                                  There were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and more
                                                                  people to serve. Finally, the waitress had made it through
               Nails in the Fence                                 another day. When she got home from work that night and
                                                                  climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His fa-         what the lady had written. How could that lady have known
ther gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he      just how much she and her husband needed it? With the
lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the       baby due the next month, it was going to be hard to meet
fence.                                                            their expenses. She knew how very worried her husband
                                                                  was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a
The first day, the boy drove 37 nails into the                    light kiss and whispered soft and low, "Everything is going
fence.                                                            to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson."
Over the next few weeks, as he learned to
control his anger, the number of nails                                                  God bless you!
hammered daily gradually dwindled
down. He discovered that it was easier to hold his temper
than to drive those nails into the fence.                                Special Olympics—Special
Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at                      Participants
all. He told his father about it, and the father suggested that
the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able                                A few years ago at the Seattle Spe-
to hold his temper.                                                                        cial Olympics, nine contestants, all
                                                                                           physically and/or mentally disabled,
The days passed, and the young boy was finally able to tell                                assembled at the starting line for
his father that all of the nails were gone                                                 the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they
from the fence. The father took his son                                                    all started out, not exactly in a dash,
by the hand and led him to the fence.                                                      but with a relish to run the race to
He said, "You have done well, my son,                                                      the finish and win.
but look at the holes in the fence! The
fence will never be the same. When                                All ran, that is, all except one boy who stumbled on the
you say things in anger, they leave a                             asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry.
scars just like these. You can put a                              The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and
knife into a man and draw it out. It won't                        looked back. Then they all turned around and went back to
                                                                  him. Every one of them!
                             -20-                                                              -81-
He could see that she was frightened and tired from stand-       matter how many times you say 'I'm sorry'; the wound is
ing out in the cold air. He knew how she felt. She had that      still there.
extra chill which fear can put into a person. He said, "I'm
here to help you, ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car           "A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. Friends are
where it's warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Ander-             very rare jewels, indeed. They make you smile and encour-
son."                                                            age you to succeed, they lend an ear, and they share
                                                                 words of praise. They always want to open their hearts to
She had only a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad      us."
enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to                  You are my friend and I am honored!
put the jack, and he skinned his knuckles a time or two.
Soon he was able to change the tire, but he had become
dirty, and his hands hurt.                                                        Analogy of God
As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the                 Robin Williams (yes, that Robin Williams)
window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was
from St. Louis and was just passing through. She couldn't        [This is an outstanding explanation of God and why God al-
thank him enough for coming to her aid. Bryan just smiled        lows pain and suffering. It is an explanation that many
as he closed her trunk. The lady asked how much she              other people will understand.]
owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her.         A man went to a barbershop to have
She already imagined all the awful things that could have        his hair cut and his beard trimmed.
happened if he had not stopped.                                  As the barber began to work, they
Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a       talked about many things and vari-
job for him. This was helping someone in need, and God           ous subjects. When they eventually
knows there were plenty of people who had given him a            touched on the subject of God, the
hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it   barber said, "I don't believe that God
never occurred to him to act any other way. He told her that     exists."
if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw      "Why do you say that?" asked the
someone who needed help, she could give that person the          customer.
assistance needed. Bryan added, "And think of me." He
waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a    "Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that
cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for       God doesn't exist. Tell me—if God existed, would there be
home, disappearing into the twilight.                            so many sick people? Would there be abandoned chil-
                                                                 dren? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor
A few miles down the road, the                                   pain. I can't imagine loving a God who would allow all of
lady saw a small cafe. She went in                               these things."
to grab a bite to eat and to take
the chill off before she made the                                The customer thought for a moment, but he didn't respond
last leg of her trip home. It was a                              because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber
dingy looking restaurant. Outside                                finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he
were two old gas pumps. The                                      left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long,
whole scene was unfamiliar to the                                stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty
woman. The waitress who ap-                                      and unkempt.
proached her was a young lady                                    The customer turned back and entered the barbershop
with a sweet smile, one that even                                again. He said to the barber, "You know what? Barbers do
being on her feet for the whole day couldn't erase. The          not exist."
waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never
let the strain and aches change her attitude.                    "How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "I am
                                                                 here, and I am a barber. I just worked on you!"
                             -80-                                                             -21-
"No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist be-          dreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay
cause if they did, there would be no people with dirty long     afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line ropes
hair and untrimmed beards like that man outside."               wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, and a line was
                                                                tugging in her mouth.
"Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is, people do not
come to me."                                                    A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands
                                                                (outside the Golden Gate Bridge) and radioed an environ-
"Exactly!" affirmed the customer. "That's the point! God,       mental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team
too, DOES exist! What happens is that people don't go to        arrived and determined that the whale was in such a bad
Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much         condition that the only way to save her was to dive in and
pain and suffering in the world."                               untangle her—a very dangerous proposition. One slap of
                                                                her tail could kill a rescuer.
            Be blessed and be a blessing!
 Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps if you're not      The rescue team worked for hours with
                 willing to move our feet!                      curved knives, and eventually, they
                                                                freed her. When she was free, the di-
                                                                vers say that she swam in what
            Classroom Activity =                                seemed like joyous circles. She then
              Lifetime Impact!                                  came back to all of the divers, one at a
                                                                time, and nudged them. By pushing
              Dr. Angela Muñiz Aschbrenner                      them around gently, she thanked them. Some of the divers
One day, a teacher asked her students to list the names of      said this incident was the most incredibly beautiful experi-
the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leav-    ence of their lives. The man who cut the rope out of the
ing a space between each two names. Then she told them          whale's mouth said that her eye was following him the
to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of       whole time, and he will never be the same.
their classmates and write it next to that person's name. It
took the remainder of the class period to finish this assign-   May you and all those you love be blessed and fortunate
ment. As the students left the room, each one handed in                        enough to be surrounded
his/her papers.                                                 by people who will help you get untangled from the things
                                                                                  that are binding you.
The following Saturday, the teacher wrote the name of           May you also always know the joy of giving and receiving
each student on a separate sheet of paper and listed what                               gratitude.
everyone else had said about that in-
dividual. On Monday, she gave each
student his/her list. Before long, the                                               Pass It On
entire class was smiling.
"Really?" she heard whispered. Most                             One day, a man saw an old lady stranded on the side of the
of the comments were something                                  road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see that she
like, "I never knew that I meant any-                           needed help. He pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got
thing to anyone!" and "I didn't know                            out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached
others like me so much."                                        her. Even with the smile
                                                                on his face, she was wor-
No one ever mentioned those papers                              ried. For the last hour or
in class again. The teacher never knew whether or not the       so, no one had stopped
students discussed the comments after class or with their       to help. Was he going to
parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accom-          hurt her? He didn't look
plished its purpose. The students were happy with them-         safe; he looked poor and hungry.

                            -22-                                                            -79-
Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go         selves and with one another. That group of students
fishing, and Grandma said, "Im sorry, but I need Sally to          moved on.
help make supper."
                                                                   Several years later, one of the students was killed in Viet
Sally just smiled and said, "Well, that's all right because        Nam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special
Johnny told me he wanted to help."                                 student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military cof-
                                                                   fin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.
Again, she whispered to Johnny, "Remember the duck?"
                                                                   The church was packed with his friends. One by one, those
Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help Grandma. Af-          who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher
ter several days of Johnny's doing both his chores and             was the last one to bless the coffin. As she stood there, one
Sally's, he couldn't stand it any longer. He went to               of the soldiers who acted as a pallbearer approached her.
Grandma and confessed that he had killed her pet duck.
                                                                   "Dr. Aschbrenner, were you Mark's Student Council
Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug, and said, "Sweet-              teacher?" he asked.
heart, I know you did. You see, I was standing at the win-
dow, and I saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I          She nodded, "Yes."
forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let
Sally make a slave of you."                                        Then he said, "Mark talked about you a lot."
                                                                   After the funeral many of the people went to a luncheon to-
Thought for the day and every day: Whatever is in your             gether, including most of Mark's former classmates and his
past, whatever you have done—and the devil keeps throw-            teacher. Mark's mother and father were there, too,
ing it up in your face (lying, cheating, debt, fear, bad habits,   obviously waiting to speak with their son's teacher.
hatred, anger, bitterness—whatever it is), you need to             "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a
know that God was standing at the window and He saw the            wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he
whole thing. He has seen our whole lives. He wants you to          was killed. We thought you might recognize it."
know that He loves you and that you are forgiven. He is just
wondering how long you will let the devil make a slave of          Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces
you.                                                               of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded
                                                                   and refolded many times. The teacher knew without
The great thing about God is that when you ask for forgive-        looking that the papers were the ones on which she had
ness, He not only forgives you, but He also forgets. It is by      listed all of the good things each of Mark's classmates had
God's grace and mercy that we are saved.                           said about him.
Go ahead and make the difference in someone's life today.          "Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said.
Share this with a friend, and always remember: God is at           "As you can see, Mark treasured it."
the window!
  When Jesus died on the cross, he was thinking of                 All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around.
                               you!                                Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my
                                                                   list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."
                                                                   Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wed-
                      The Whale                                    ding album."
The San Francisco Chronicle                                        "I have mine, too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."
featured a front-page story about                                  Then Anne, another classmate, reached into her pocket-
a female humpback whale which                                      book, took out her wallet, and showed her worn and fraz-
had become entangled in a spi-                                     zled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Anne
der web of crab traps and lines.                                   said, and without batting an eyelash, she continued, "I think
She was weighted down by hun-                                      we all saved our lists."
                             -78-                                                                -23-
That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She               • The sympathetic voice that had just read the right
cried for Mark and for all of his friends who would never see            article
him again.
                                                                      • Cheyenne's unexpected appearance at the ani-
The density of people in society is so thick we forget that              mal shelter
life will end one day—and we don't know when that one day             • The dog's calm acceptance and complete devo-
will be.                                                                 tion to my father
Please tell the people you love and care for that they are            • The proximity of their deaths
special and important. Tell them before it is too late.
                                                                Suddenly, I understood. I knew that God had answered my
Remember: You reap what you sow. What you put into the          prayers after all.
lives of others comes back into your own.
    May your day be as blessed as you are special!!!                   Life is too short for drama and petty things,
                                                                      so laugh hard, love truly, and forgive quickly.
                          The Sneeze                                              Live while you are alive.
                          A True Story                           At every opportunity, tell the people you love that you
                                                                                         love them.
            They walked in tandem, each of the ninety-two       Forgive now those who made you cry; you might not get
            students filing into the already crowded audito-                       a second opportunity.
            rium. With their rich maroon gowns flowing and
            the tranditional mortarboards on their heads,
            they looked almost as grown up as they felt.                  The Duck and the Devil
            Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and
            Moms freely brushed away tears.                     A little boy was visiting his grandparents on their farm. He
This class would not pray during the commencement exer-         was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods. He
cises—not by choice, but because of a recent court ruling       practiced in the woods, but he could
prohibiting it. The principal and several students were care-   never hit the target. Becoming a bit dis-
ful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling.        couraged, he headed back for dinner.
                                                                As he was walking back, he saw
There were inspirational and challenging speeches, but no       Grandma's pet duck.
one asked for or even mentioned divine guidance for the         On impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit
graduates or their families. The speeches were nice, but        the duck square in the head, and killed
they were routine—until the final speech received a stand-      it. He was shocked and grieved! In a
ing ovation.                                                    panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood
A solitary student walked proudly to the micro-                 pile. Then he saw that his sister was watching him. Sally
phone. He stood still and silent for just a moment,             had seen it all, but she said nothing.
and then it happened. All 92 students, every single             After lunch the next day, Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash
one of them, suddenly sneezed!!!!                               the dishes."
The student on stage simply looked at the audience              Sally responded, "Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to
and said, "God bless you—each and every one of                  help in the kitchen."
you." Then he walked off the stage.
The audience exploded into applause. This gradu-                Then she whispered to her brother, "Remember the duck?"
ating class had found a unique way to invoke God's              Johnny did the dishes!
blessings on their futures without the court's ap-
proval.
                            -24-                                                            -77-
At those words, Dad whirled around angrily—his hands             This is a true story. It happened at the University of Mary-
clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with        land. Wouldn't it be fantastic if this idea would take off and
hate. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when         fill the whole country!!!
suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wob-
bled toward my dad and sat down in front of hm. Then             This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be
slowly, carefully, he raised his paw. Dad's lower jaw trem-                        glad in it. Psalm 118:24
bled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced
the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then
Dad was on his knees hugging
                                                                                    Eye-ful Views
the animal. It was the beginning                                 Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the
of a warm and intimate friend-                                   same hospital room. One man was allowed
ship.                                                            to sit up in his bed for an hour each
Dad named the pointer Chey-                                      afternoon to help drain the fluid from his
enne. Together, Dad and Chey-                                    lungs. His bed was next to the room's only
enne explored the community.                                     window.
They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They             The other man had to spend all of his time
spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling        flat on his back. The men talked for hours
for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services     on end. They spoke of their wives and fami-
together—Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly         lies, their homes, their jobs, their involve-
at his feet. Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable through-          ment in the military service, where they had
out the next three years. Dad's bitterness faded, and he         been on vacations. Every afternoon, when
and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night, I           the man in the bed by the window could sit
was startled to feel Cheyenne's cold nose burrowing              up, he would pass the time by describing to
through our bed covers. He had never before come into our        his roommate all of the things he could see outside the win-
bedroom at night. I woke my husband, put on my robe, and         dow. The man in the other bed began to live for those
ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face se-      one-hour periods when his world would be broadened and
rene, but his spirit had left quietly sometime during the        enlivened by all of the activity and color of the world out-
night.                                                           side.
Two days later, my shock and grief deepened when I dis-          The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks
covered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed. I wrapped          and swans played on the water while children sailed their
his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As I buried him   model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flow-
near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for     ers of every color, and a fine view of the city skyline could
the help he had given in restoring Dad's peace of mind.          be seen in the distance. As the man by the window de-
The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary.         scribed all of this in exquisite details, the man on the other
This day looks like the way I feel, I thought as I walked        side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this pic-
down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was sur-       turesque scene. One warm afternoon, the man by the
prised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had              window described a parade passing by. The man across
made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It         the room could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by
was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his        the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
life. Then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2: Be not forget-     One morning, the day nurse arrived with water for their
ful to entertain strangers.                                      baths, but she found the lifeless body of the man by the
"I've often thanked God for sending that angel," the minis-      window. He had died peacefully in his sleep. Sadly, the
ter said.                                                        nurse called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle         As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if
that I had not seen before:                                      he could be moved to the space next to the window. The
                             -76-                                                             -25-
nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making                                       but I rejected one after the other for
sure the patient was comfortable, she left him alone.                                      various reasons—too big, too small,
Slowly and painfully, the man propped himself up on one                                    too much hair. As I neared the last
elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He                                 pen, a dog in the shadows of the far
strained to turn slowly and look out the window beside the                                 corner struggled to his feet, walked to
bed. It faced a blank wall! The man asked the nurse what                                   the front of the run, and sat down. It
could have compelled his deceased roommate to describe                                     was a pointer, one of the dog world's
such wonderful things outside this window.                                                 aristocrats. This one, however, was a
                                                                                           caricature of the breed. Years had
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not                                   etched his face and muzzle with
even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to en-                                shades of gray. His hip bones jutted
courage you."                                                                              out in lopsided triangles. Nonethe-
Epilogue: There is tremendous happiness in making oth-                                     less, his eyes caught and held my at-
ers happy—despite our own situations. Shared grief is half                                 tention. Calm and clear, they beheld
the sorrow, but happiness, when shared, is doubled. If you                                 me unwaveringly.
want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that        I pointed to the dog and asked, "Can you tell me about
money cannot buy.                                                 him?"
   Today is a gift; that is why it is called "The Present."
                                                                  The officer looked and then shook his head in puzzlement.
                                                                  "He's a funny one—appeared out of nowhere and sat in
         The Mayonnaise Jar and                                   front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone
                                                                  would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago,
           Two Cups of Coffee                                     and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow."
                    When things in your life seem almost too      He gestured helplessly. As the words sank in, I turned to
                    much to handle, and when 24 hours in a        the man in horror. "You mean you're going to kill him?"
                         day are not enough, remember the
                         mayonnaise jar and the two cups of       "Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy. We don't have
                         coffee!                                  room for every unclaimed dog."
                         A professor stood before his philos-     I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited
                         ophy class and had some items in         my decision. "I'll take him," I said.
                    front of him. When the class began, he        I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me.
wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise            When I reached the house, I honked the horn twice. I was
jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the   helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the
students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.            front porch.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured          "Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!" I said excitedly.
them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles
rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. Then he        Dad looked and then wrinkled his face in disgust. "If I had
asked the students again if the jar was full. They ageed that     wanted a dog, I would have got one, and I would have
it was.                                                           picked out a better speciman than that bag of bones. Keep
Next, the professor picked up a box of sand and poured it         it! I don't want it!" Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned
into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.      back toward the house.
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students              Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat mus-
responded with a unanimous, "Yes!"                                cles and pounded into my temples. "You'd better get used
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from un-           to him, Dad. He's staying!" Dad ignored me. "Did you hear
der the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, ef-    me, Dad?" I screamed.
                             -26-                                                              -75-
about it, but later on that same day, I saw him outside            fectively filling the empty space between the grains of
alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever any-     sand. The students laughed.
one teased him about his advancing age or when he could-
n't do something that he had done as a younger man.                "Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided. "I want
                                                                   you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf
Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart         balls are the important things—your family, your children,
attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a              your health, your friends, and your favorite passions—and
paramedic administered CPR to keep the blood and oxy-              if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life
gen flowing. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an oper-         would still be full."
ating room. He was lucky. He survived, but something in-
side Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately re-      The professor continued, "The pebbles are the other things
fused to follow the doctor's orders. Suggestions and offers        that matter, such as your job, your house, and your car.
of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The            The sand is everything else—the small stuff. If you put the
number of visitors thinned and then finally stopped alto-          sand into the jar first, there will be no room for the pebbles
gether. Dad was left alone.                                        or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all of
                                                                   your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have
My husband and I asked Dad to come live with us on our             room for the things that are important to you.
small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere
would help him adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I          "Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happi-
regretted the invitation. It seemed that nothing was satis-        ness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical
factory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated       checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18
and moody. Soon I was taking my pent up anger out on my            holes. There will always be time to clean the house and fix
patient, loving husband. We began to bicker and argue.             the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first—the things
Alarmed, he sought out our pastor and explained the situa-         that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
tion. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appoint-              One of the students raised her hand and asked what the
ments for us. At the close of each session, he prayed, ask-        coffee represented. The professor smiled and said, "I'm
ing God to soothe Dad's troubled mind. The months wore             glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how
on, however, and God was silent. Something had to be               full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of
done, and it was up to me to do it.                                cups of coffee with a friend."
The next day, I sat down with the phone book and methodi-              [Be sure to share this with someone you care about.]
cally called each of the mental health clinics listed in the
Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sym-                  Every event and every person who comes
pathetic voices that answered—in vain. Just when I was                             into my life has a purpose.
giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, "I              I need not judge myself, the event, or the person—
just read something that might help you! Let me go get the
article."                                                                          only allow myself to accept
                                                                                    the gift of the encounter.
I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable
study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were un-
der treatment for chronic depression. Their attitudes had
improved dramatically, though, when they were given re-
                                                                                                    Feeling Old
sponsibility for a dog.                                                                    Some of us are closer to old age
I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out                           than others, but this is a great way of
a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels.                                thinking about it—now or in the fu-
The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down                                 ture.
the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs.
Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted
dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one,
                             -74-                                                               -27-
A young person asked me how I felt about                                                Prayer for Gifts
being old. I was taken aback because I do
not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my                                    Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive.
reaction, she was immediately embar-                                          I asked God for water; He gave me an ocean.
rassed, but I explained that it was an inter-
esting question, and I would ponder it and                                    I asked God for a flower; He gave me a garden.
let her know.                                                                 I asked God for a friend; He gave me all of YOU!
Old age, I decided, is a gift. I am now, prob-                                If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
ably for the first time in my life, the person I
have always wanted to be. Oh, not my
body! I sometimes despair over my body—the wrinkles,
the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. Often I am taken                                                                   Place
aback by that old person who lives in my mirror (who looks                                                               mirror
like my mother!), but I can't agonize over those things for                                                              here.
long. I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonder-
ful life, or my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly.
As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself and less crit-
ical of myself. I've become my own friend.
I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie or for not
making my bed or for buying that silly cement gecko that I                     The Old Man and the Dog
didn't need, but that looks so avante garde on my patio. I
am entitled to eat a treat, to be messy, and to be extrava-            "Watch out! You nearly ran that red light!" my father yelled
gant.                                                                  at me. "Can't you do anything right?"
               I have seen too many dear                               Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head to-
               friends leave this world too                            ward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to
               soon—before they under-                                 challenge him. A lump rose in my throat. I wasn't prepared
               stood the great freedom                                 for another battle.
               that comes with aging.
               Whose business is it if I                               "I saw the light, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driv-
               choose to read or play on                               ing." My voice was measured and steady, sounding far
               the computer until 4:00                                 calmer than I really felt. Dad glared at me; then he turned
               a.m. and sleep until noon?                              away and settled back. At home, I left Dad in front of the
                                                                       television and went outside to collect my thoughts. Dark,
I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60s           heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The
and 70s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost          rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil.
love, I will. I will walk on the beach in a swim suit that is
stretched over a bulging body and will dive into the waves             What could I do about him? Dad had been a
with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances               lumberjack in Washington and Oregon. He
from the jet set. They, too, will get old.                             had enjoyed being outdoors and had rev-
                                                                       eled in pitting his strength against the forces
I know that I am sometimes forgetful, but some of life is just         of nature. He had entered grueling lumber-
as well forgotten. Eventually, I remember the important                jack competitions and had often placed.
things. Sure, over the years, my heart has been broken.                The shelves in his house were filled with tro-
How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one or              phies that attested to his prowess.
when a child suffers or even when somebody's beloved pet
gets hit by a car? Broken hearts, however, are what give us            The years marched on relentlessly. The first
strength and understanding and compassion. A heart                     time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked
                               -28-                                                                -73-
"No, who are you?" asked the father.                              never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the
                                                                  joy of being imperfect.
The minister told him his name and then remarked, "I saw
the empty chair and I figured you knew I was going to show        I am truly blessed to have lived long enough to have my
up."                                                              hair turning gray and to have my youthful laughs be forever
                                                                  etched into deep grooves on my face. Many others have
"Oh, yeah, the chair," said the bedridden man. "Would you         never laughed, and many have died before their hair could
mind closing the door?" Puzzled, the minister shut the            turn silver.
door.
                                                                  As we grow older, it is easier to be positive. We care less
"I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter," said       about what other people think. I don't question myself any
the father, "but all of my life, I have never known how to        more. I've even earned the right to be wrong.
pray. At church, I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer,
but it went right over my head.                                   To answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free.
                                                                  I like the person I have become. I am not going to live for-
"I abandoned any attempt at prayer," the old man contin-          ever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lament-
ued, "until one day four years ago, my best friend said to        ing what could have been or worrying about what will be. I
me, 'Johnny, prayer is just a simple matter of having a con-      shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it)!
versation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest. Sit down in a
chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith, see
Jesus on the other chair. It's not spooky because he prom-
ised I will be with you always. Then just speak to him in the
same way you're doing with me right now.' So, I tried it, and
I've liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day.
I'm careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an
empty chair, she'd either have a nervous breakdown or
send me off to the funny farm."
The minister was deeply moved by the story and
encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then
he prayed with the man, anointed him with oil, and then re-
turned to the church. Two nights later, the daughter called        Regardless of age, we find that in retirement, we are so
to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon.         busy that we wouldn't have time for a full-time job!
"Did he die in peace?" he asked.
"Yes," she answered, "when I left the house about two
                                                                         Carlin Tribute Commentary
o'clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved                             George Carlin
me, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the          What a difference a sad event in
store an hour later, I found him, but there was something         someone's life can make. George
strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy            Carlin, well-known comedian in the
died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair be-         70s and 80s, wrote this very elo-
side the bed. What do you make of that?"                          quent—and very appropriate—
The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, "I wish we       message shortly after his wife died.
could all go like that."                                          The paradox of our time in history is
                                                                  that we have:
                                                                         • Taller    buildings,     but
                                                                           shorter tempers
                                                                         • Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints
                             -72-                                                              -29-
We:
                                                                   talk back to your mother, that you learn what Ivory soap
       •Have spent more, but have less                             tastes like.
       •Have bought more, but enjoyed less                         May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your
       •Have bigger houses, but smaller families                   hand on a stove, and stick your tongue on a frozen flag-
       •Have more conveniences, but less time                      pole. I don't care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don't
                                                                   like it. If a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you real-
       •Have more degrees, but less sense                          ize he/she is not your friend. I sure hope you make time to
       •Have more knowledge, but less judgment                     sit on a porch with your grandma/grandpa and go fishing
       •Have more experts, yet more problems                       with your uncle while learning about their generations that
                                                                   led to life today.
       •Have more medicine, but less wellness
       •Drink too much, smoke too much, spend too reck-            May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holi-
        lessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry,   days. I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a
        stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little,       baseball through your neighbor's window and that she
        watch TV too much, and pray too seldom                     hugs you and kisses you at Hannukah/Christmas time
                                                                   when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.
      • Have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our
        values                                                     These things I wish for you—tough times and disappoint-
                                                                   ment, hard work and happiness. To me, it's the only way to
      • Talked too much, loved too seldom, and hated               appreciate life. Written with a pen. Sealed with a kiss. I'm
        too often                                                  here for you. If I die before you do, I'll go to heaven and wait
      • Have learned how to make a living, but not a life          for you.
                                                                   ----------
      • Have added years to life, but not life to years
      • Have been all the way to the moon and back, but            When asked the following riddle, 80% of kindergarten kids
        have trouble crossing the street to meet a new             got the answer; that compares with 17% of Stanford Uni-
        neighbor                                                   versity seniors!
      • Have conquered outer space, but not inner space                                        Riddle
      • Have done larger things, but not better things
                                                                    What is greater than God and more evil than the devil?
      • Have cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul
                                                                    The poor have it. The rich need it. If you eat it, you will
      • Have conquered the atom, but not our prejudice                                        die.
      • Have written more, but learned less                                                   Nothing!
      • Have planned more, but accomplished less
      • Have learned to rush, but not to wait
      • Have built more computers to hold more informa-
        tion and have produced more copies than ever,
                                                                                       Daddy's Empty Chair
        but communicated less and less                                           A man's daughter asked the local minister to
These are times of:                                                              come and pray with her father. When the min-
                                                                                 ister arrived, he found the man lying in bed
      • Fast foods and slow digestion                                            with his head propped up on two pillows. An
      • Big men and small character                                              empty chair sat beside his bed. The minister
      • Steep profits and shallow relationships                                  assumed that the old fellow had been in-
                                                                                 formed of his visit.
                                                                                 "I guess you were expecting me," he said.
                             -30-
                                                                                                 -71-
                                                                    These are the days of:
Without hesitating, the American admiral replied, "Maybe
it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies, and Americans                    • Two incomes, but more divorce
arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German!"                           • Fancier houses, but broken homes
          Suddenly the group became very quiet.                              • Quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway mo-
                                                                               rality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and
                                                                               pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill
           Paul Harvey Comments                                     It is a time when:
We tried so hard to make things                                              • There is much in the showroom window, and
better for our kids that we made                                               nothing in the stockroom
them worse. For my grandchildren,                                            • Technology can bring a letter to you, and you can
I'd like better. I'd really like for them                                      choose either to share the insight or just hit delete
to know about hand me down
clothes and homemade ice cream                                      Remember: Spend some time with our loved ones be-
and leftover meat loaf sandwiches.                                                   cause they are not going to be around for
I really would.                                                                      ever.
I hope you learn humility by being                                  Remember: Say a kind word to someone who looks up to
humiliated and that you learn hon-                                                   you in awe because that little person will
esty by being cheated. I hope you                                                    grow up soon and leave your side.
learn to make your own bed and
mow the lawn and wash the car. I                                    Remember: Give a warm hug to the one next to you be-
really hope nobody gives you a                                                       cause that is the only treasure you can give
brand new car when you are sixteen. It will be good if, at                           with your heart, and it doesn't cost a cent.
least one time, you can see puppies born and your old dog           Remember: Say "I love you" to your partner and your
put to sleep.                                                                        loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss
I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you be-                            and an embrace will mend a hurt when the
lieve in. I hope you have to share a bedroom with your                               affection comes from deep inside of you.
younger brother/sister. It's all right if you have to draw a line   Remember: Hold hands and cherish the moment, for
down the middle of the room, but when he/she wants to                                some day, that other person will not be there.
crawl under the covers with you because he/she is scared,
I hope you let him/her. When you want to see a movie and            Give time to love; give time to speak! Give time to share the
your little brother/sister wants to tag along, I hope you'll let    precious thoughts in your mind. Do it daily!
him/her.
I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends                           Four Boyfriends
and that you live in a town where you can do it safely. On
rainy days, when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don't         (This story may turn out to be very different from your ex-
ask your driver to drop you off two blocks away so you              pectations. It is a wonderful, wonderful message, and if you
won't be seen riding with someone as uncool as your mom.            think it has something to do with "real" boyfriends, you will
If you want a slingshot, I hope your dad teaches you how to         be surprised at the end. Enjoy!)
make one instead of buying one.
                                                                    Once upon a time, there was a girl who had four boy-
I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books. When you        friends! She loved the fourth boyfriend the most and
learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and            adorned him with rich robes and treated him to the finest of
subtract in your head. I hope you get teased by your friends        delicacies. She gave him nothing but the best.
when you have your first crush on a boy/girl, and when you
                                                                                                  -31-
                              -70-
She also loved the third boyfriend very much and was al-          The people at NASA thought it was a casual remark to
ways showing him off to neighboring kingdoms. However,            some rival Soviet cosmonaut. Upon checking, however, it
she feared that one day, he would leave her for another.          was found that there was no Gorsky in either the Russian
                                                                  or American space programs. Over the years, many peo-
She loved her second boyfriend, too. He was her confidant         ple questioned Armstrong about what the "Good luck, Mr.
and was always kind, considerate, and patient with her.           Gorsky" statement meant, but Armstrong always just
Whenever this girl faced a problem, she could confide in          smiled.
him, and he would help her get through the difficult times.
                                                                  On July 5, 1995, in Tampa Bay, Florida, while answering
The girl's first boyfriend was a very loyal partner and had       questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the
made great contributions in maintaining her wealth and            26-year-old question to Armstrong. This time, he finally re-
kingdom. However, she did not love the first boyfriend. Al-       sponded. Mr. Gorsky had died, so Neil Armstrong felt that
though he loved her deeply, she hardly took notice of him!        he could answer the question.
One day, the girl fell ill and she knew her time was short.       One time in 1938, when Armstrong
She thought of her luxurious life and wondered, "I now            was a kid in a small midwest town,
have four boyfriends with me, but when I die, I'll be all         he was in his back yard playing
alone."                                                           baseball with a friend. His friend hit
Thus she asked the fourth boyfriend, "I loved you the most,       the ball which landed by the bed-
endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great           room windows in the neighbor's
care over you. Now that I am dying, will you follow me and        yard. The neighbors were Mr. and
keep me company?"                                                 Mrs. Gorsky. As he leaned down to
                                                                  pick up the ball, young Armstrong
"No way!" replied the fourth boyfriend, and he walked away        heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr.
without another word. His answer cut like a sharp                 Gorsky.
knife—right into her heart.
                                                                  "Sex! You want sex? You'll get sex when the kid next door
The sad girl then asked the third boyfriend, "I loved you all     walks on the moon!"
my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me
company?"
"No!" replied the third boyfriend. "Life is too good! When            International Navy Conference
you die, I'm going to marry someone else!" Her heart sank
and turned cold.                                                  A. U.S. Navy admiral was attending
                                                                  a naval conference that included
Then she asked the second boyfriend, "I have always               admirals from the U.S., English,
turned to you for help, and you've always been there for          Canadian, Australian and French
me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?"          Navies. At a cocktail reception, he
"I'm sorry, but I can't help you out this time!" replied the      found himself standing with a group
second boyfriend. "At the very most, I can only walk with         of half a dozen or so officers who
you to your grave." His answer struck her like a bolt of light-   included personnel from most of
ning, and the girl was devastated.                                the countries.
Then a voice called out, "I'll go with you. I'll follow you no    All of the attendees were chatting away in English as they
matter where you go."                                             sipped their drinks. A French admiral suddenly complained
                                                                  that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Ameri-
The girl looked up, and there was her first boyfriend. He         cans learn only English. He then asked, "Why is it that we
was very skinny because he suffered from malnutrition and         always have to speak English at these conferences rather
neglect.                                                          than French?"

                             -32-                                                             -69-
is saying to himself, "Wow! What a miracle just happened          Greatly grieved, the girl said, "I should have taken much
to me! Susie made a miracle happen!"                              better care of you when I had the chance!"
                                                                  ------------------------
All of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the
boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him             In truth, you have four boyfriends in your lives. Your fourth
downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his           boyfriend is your body. No matter how much time and effort
pants dry out. All of the other children are on their hands       you lavish on making it look good, it will leave you when
and knees cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is            you die.
wonderful, but as life would have it, the ridicule that should    Your third boyfriend is made up of your possessions, sta-
have been his has been transferred to someone else,               tus, and wealth. When you die, it will all go to others.
Susie.
                                                                  Your second boyfriend consists of your family and friends.
Finally, as they are waiting for the bus at the end of the day,   No matter how much they have been there for you, the fur-
the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, "You did that on        thest they can stay by you is up to the grave.
purpose, didn't you?"
                                                                  Your first boyfriend is your spirit which is often neglected in
Susie whispers back, "I wet my pants once, too."                  pursuit of wealth, power, and pleasures of the world. How-
                                                                  ever, your spirit is the only thing that will follow you wher-
May we always see the opportunities that are around us            ever you go. Cultivate, strengthen, and cherish it now, for it
 to do a kind act and to be of service to those in need!          is the only part of you that will follow you to the throne of
 These are the little "miracles" in life that we can make         God and continue with you throughout eternity.
                    happen for others!
                                                                                  Thought for the Day
                                                                     Remember that when the world pushes you to your
                                                                       knees, you are in the perfect position to pray!

                                                                                      I'm Invisible
                                                                    What a nice message for parents, teachers, and other
                                                                                   hard-working people!

                                                                  It all began to make sense—the blank stares, the lack of re-
                                                                  sponse, the way one of the kids will walk into the room
               Mystery Resolved                                   while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. In-
                                                                  side, I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obvi-
                     A True Story                                 ously not! No one can see if I'm on the phone or cooking or
                      On July 20, 1969, as the commander          sweeping the floor or even standing on my head in the cor-
                      of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, Neil         ner because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible!
                      Armstrong was the first person to set       Some days, I am only a pair of hands and nothing more.
                      foot on the moon. His first words after     Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?
                      stepping on the moon were, "That's          Some days, I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human
                      one small step for man, one giant leap      being. I'm a clock to be asked, "What time is it?" I'm a satel-
                      for mankind."                               lite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney channel?"
                      These words were heard by millions          I'm a car to be ordered, "Right around 5:30, please."
                      on earth, but just before he re-entered     I was certain that these were the hands that once held
                      the lander, he made the enigmatic re-       books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that
                      mark, "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky."              graduated summa cum laude, but now they had disap-
                             -68-                                                              -33-
peared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.             color returning to the girl's cheeks. Then the boy's face
She's going . . . she's going . . . she's gone!                    grew pale, and his smile faded.
One night, a group of us were having dinner and celebrat-          He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling
ing the return of a friend from England. Janice had just           voice, "Will I start to die right away?"
come back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and
on about the hotel where she stayed. I was sitting there and       Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor;
looking around at the others who were put together so well.        the child thought that he was going to have to give all of his
It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I          blood to his sister in order to save her life.
looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I
could find that was clean.
My unwashed hair was pulled up in a clip, and I was afraid I
could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty
pathetic when Janice turned to me with a beautifully
wrapped package and said, "I brought you this."
It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I didn't
know why she had given it to me until I read her inscription:
To Charlotte with admiration for the greatness of what you
are building when no one sees.
In the days ahead, I would read—no, devour—the book. I
would discover what would become—for me—four
life-changing truths after which I could pattern my work:
                                                                      Chivalry in a Third Grade Class
         • 1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals;
           we have no record of their names.                       An eight-year-old boy was sitting at his desk, and all of a
         • 2. Those builders gave their whole lives for works      sudden, there was a puddle between his feet and the front
           they would never see finished.                          of his pants was wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop,
         • 3. They made great sacrifices and expected no           and he cannot imagine how this could possibly have hap-
           credit.                                                 pened. It's never happened before. He knows that when
                                                                   the boys find out, he will never hear the end of it. When the
         • 4. The passion of their building was fueled by their    girls find out, they will never speak to him again as long as
           faith that the eyes of God saw everything.              he lives.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who went to       The boy is sure that his heart is going to stop beating im-
visit a cathedral while it was being built. He saw a workman       mediately. He puts his head down and prays that some-
carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. The man was           thing might resolve this terrible situation. "Five minutes
puzzled and asked the workman, "Why are you spending               from now," he thinks, "I am going to die of embarrassment!"
so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be cov-
ered by the roof? No one will ever see it."                        He looks up from his desk and sees the teacher coming to-
                                                                   ward him. She has a look in her eyes that says he has been
The workman replied, "Because God sees."                           discovered.
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It   As the teacher walks toward him, he also sees that a class-
was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you. I       mate, Susie, is walking in his direction, and she is carrying
see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one            a goldfish bowl filled with water. Susie trips in front of the
around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no se-            teacher, and inexplicably, she dumps the bowl of water into
quin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked is too small          the boy's lap. He pretends to be angry, but all the while, he

                              -34-                                                              -67-
Fourth Important Lesson: The Obstacle in Our Path                        for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great
                                                                         cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."
In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway.
Then he hid and watched to see whether or not anyone                     At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. It is not a dis-
would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest                ease that is erasing my life though. It is the cure for the dis-
merchants and courtiers went by and simply walked                        ease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my
around the boulder. Many loudly blamed the king for not                  strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I
keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about get-                see myself as a great builder—as one of the people who
ting the stone out of the way.                                           show up at a job that they will never see finished and to
                                                                         work on something for which their names will never be ac-
Then a peasant came along carrying a load                                knowledged. The writer of the book went so far as to say
of vegetables. Upon approaching the boul-                                that no cathedrals could ever built in our lifetime because
der, the peasant laid down his burden and                                there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
tried to move the stone to the side of the
road. After much pushing and straining, he                               When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the
finally succeeded. After the peasant picked                              friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving,
up his load of vegetables, he noticed a                                  "My mom gets up at 4:00 in the morning and bakes home-
purse lying in the road where the boulder                                made pies, and then she hand-bastes a turkey for three
had been. The purse contained many gold                                  hours and presses all of the linens for the table." That
coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was              would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I
for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.                 just want him to want to come home, and then, if there is
The peasant learned what many of us never understand:                    anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna
                                                                         love it there."
   Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our
                          condition.                                     As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot
                                                                         be seen if we're doing it right. One day, it is very possible
Fifth Important Lesson: Giving When It Counts                            that the world will marvel—not only at what we have built,
                                                                         but also at the beauty that has been added to the world by
Many years ago, a hospital volunteer became acquainted                   the sacrifices of invisible women.
with a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare
and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery ap-                             God bless you as you build your cathedrals!
peared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old
                               brother who had miraculously sur-
                               vived the same disease and had                          Your Wonderful Life
                               developed the antibodies needed                         Dr. Angela Muñiz Aschbrenner
                               to combat the illness. The doctor
                               explained the situation to Liz's little   We all live far more significant lives than we realize or give
                               brother and asked the boy if he           ourselves credit for. All you have to do is look at your life in
                               would        be                           a new way, just the way Jimmy Stewart did in It's a Won-
                               willing to give                           derful Life. Zero in on what is important to you. Spend a few
                               his blood to                              minutes at the end of each day listing the things you love
                               his sister.                               and enjoy. Focus on some of the small, often overlooked,
                                                                         pleasures, such as coffee aroma, sunsets, and unex-
He hesitated for only a moment be-                                       pected cards and phone calls, as well as major accom-
fore taking a deep breath and saying,                                    plishments or obstacles you've overcome.
"Yes, I'll do it if it will save her." As the
transfusion progressed, he lay in a                                      Keep a diary. Before you go to bed, jot down the answers
bed next to his sister and smiled, as                                    to these three questions:
everyone else did as they saw the
                                -66-                                                                    -35-
        • 1. What surprised me today?                              She seemed to be in a big hurry, but she wrote down his
                                                                   address and thanked him. Seven days later, a knock came
        • 2. What touched or moved me?                             on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV
        • 3. What inspired me?                                     was delivered to his home. A special note was attached.
At first, your answers may be nothing, nothing, nothing;                              "Thank you so much for assisting me
soon, however, you will begin to notice things you never                              on the highway the other night," the
noticed before—little things that mean a lot.                                         note began. "The rain drenched not
                                                                                      only my clothes, but also my spirits;
In addition, keep a "Success Folder" which is a collection of                         then you came along. Because of you, I
the positive letters, awards, or simple notes and cards you                           was able to make it to my dying hus-
have received. Whenever you feel a little down, just read                             band's bedside just before he passed
some of the items from your success folder and reconfirm                              away. God bless you for helping me
that you have helped make a positive, significant differ-                             and unselfishly serving others."
ence in those whose lives you have touched. You can get
almost anything you want by helping others get what they                              The note was signed:
want!                                                                                                   Sincerely,
Being fulfilled, both at work and in life, is the key to most                                           Mrs. Nat King Cole
happiness, and being happy is crucial to leading a healthier
and longer life. What makes a person content, resilient,           Third Important Lesson: Always remember those who
and able to handle life's difficulties with a positive attitude?   serve.
The happiest people seem to be those who are able to               In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less than
avoid constant arguments, who let go of resentments, and           it does now, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop
who, therefore, build close relationships. Your relation-          and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of
ships with family members, friends, co-workers, and every-         him.
one else in your life is what you leave as your legacy.
                                                                   "How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.
                                                                   "Fifty cents," replied the waitress.
If you already consider yourself agreeable, but still have a
hard time getting close to others, perhaps you need to ex-         The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied
amine your trust level. You can grow more trusting by              the coins in it.
changing your approach to others. Try to attribute good            "Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.
motives to people and to assume that they are being nice
to you because they are caring, not because they have ul-          By then more people were waiting for tables, and the wait-
terior motives or are manipulative. This small change can          ress was growing impatient.
make an enormous difference. Making decisions and ac-                         "Thirty-five cents," she replied brusquely.
cepting responsibility for your actions add value and excite-
ment to your life. We cannot control everything in our lives,                 The little boy counted his coins again.
but we do control our attitudes and reactions.                                "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.
Women are more attuned to their bodies than men are.               The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the ta-
Women are trained to pay attention to their feelings and           ble, and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid
bodily changes. It is listening to that constant dialogue          the cashier, and left. When the waitress went back, she be-
among our bodies, minds, and spirits that allows us to heal        gan to cry as she wiped down the table. Placed neatly be-
ourselves. When you are passionate about your mission,             side the empty dish were two nickels and five pennies.
you can truly achieve great things.
                                                                   He couldn't have the sundae because he had to have
                                                                   enough left to leave her a tip.
                             -36-                                                               -65-
                   this is probably happening on hundreds
                   of beaches all up and down this coast?        Playing on teams and in individual sports had a great deal
                   Can't you see that you can't possibly         to do with who I am today. I gained a sense of fair play, I
                   make a difference?"                           learned how to participate as part of a team, and I built up
                                                                 my physical endurance and confidence. There is a
                   The local native smiled, bent down, and       self-confidence that comes from being physically active—a
                   picked up yet another starfish. As she        sense of well-being which, in turn, gives a person much
                   threw it back into the sea, she replied,      more energy and enthusiasm. It is a good, positive cycle.
                   "Made a difference to that one!"
                                                                 It is very important for working women to find some mo-
                                                                 ments to let their minds wander, to dream their dreams,
               Five Life Lessons                                 and to think their private, happy thoughts. Don't get caught
                                                                 up in everyday obligations. When the house is quiet and
First Important Lesson: Cleaning Lady                            you can have some uninterrupted time to yourself, unwind
                                                                 by taking a nice bubble bath in a darkened bathroom with
During my second month of college, our                           soft candlelight and your favorite music playing in the back-
professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a                            ground.
conscientious student and had breezed
through the questions until I read the                           The combination of spiritual and social support can reduce
last one: What is the first name of the                          depression, help cope with stress, and perhaps even ex-
woman who cleans the school?                                     tend life. Make an appointment with yourself to exercise.
                                                                 Silence your worst critic: YOU! Smile, even if you are
Surely this was some kind of joke. I had                         cranky or blue. (Fake it until you make it!) Stay connected
seen the cleaning woman several times.                           to those who matter. Rediscover the meaning of your life.
She was tall, dark-haired, and in her                            Say YES to joy and NO to guilt trips! Don't let yourself feel
50s, but how would I know her name? I                            down about arranging your life so it brings you joy. The
handed in my paper, leaving the last                             payoff will be an ample supply of serenity and energy. Live
question blank. Just before class ended, one student             your life with passion. Lived right, once is enough!
asked if the last question would count toward our quiz             When you are at the end of your life and you reminisce,
grade.                                                                             what will you remember?
"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will
meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your
attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say,                                Keepers
"Hello."
                                                                 Their marriage was good; their dreams were focused; their
I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned that her        best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them
name was Dorothy.                                                now—Dad in trousers, a tee shirt, and a hat, and Mom in a
                                                                 house dress, lawn mower in one hand and dish towel in the
Second Important Lesson: Pickup in the Rain                      other. It was a time for fixing things—a curtain rod, the
                                                                 kitchen radio, a screen door, the oven door, the hem in a
At 11:30 one night, an older African American woman was          dress—all of the things we kept. It was a way of life, and
standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to en-         sometimes, it made me crazy.
dure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down, and
she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided          All of that re-fixing, left-over eating, and renewing—I
to flag down the next car.                                       wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence.
                                                                 Throwing things away meant that you knew there would al-
A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard         ways be more. Then my mother died, and on that clear
of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety,   summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was
helped her get assistance, and put her into a taxicab.
                             -64-                                                            -37-
struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't                                    "You want to know what I make? I
any more.                                                                                      make kids wonder. I make them ques-
                                                                                               tion. I make them criticize. I make them
Sometimes what we care about most gets all used up and                                         apologize and mean it. I make them
goes away—never to return. So—while we have it, it's best                                      write. I make them read, read, read.
that we love it, care for it, fix it when it's broken, and heal it
when it's sick. This is true for marriage, old cars, children                                  "I make them
with bad report cards, dogs and cats with bad hips, aging                                      show all of their
parents, and grandparents. We keep them because they                                      work in math and
are worth it and because we are worth it, too.                                            perfect their final
                                                                                          drafts in English. I
Some things we keep are people—like a best friend who                                     make them under-
moved away or a classmate we grew up with. There are                                      stand that if you
some keepers which make life important—like people we                have the brains and follow your heart, then if someone ever
know who are special to us—so we keep them close!                    tries to judge you by what you make, you must pay no at-
 Good friends are like stars: You don't always see them,             tention because that person just didn't learn."
           but you know they are always there.
                                                                     Susan paused and then continued, "You want to know
                   Coffee Lesson                                     what I make? I make a difference. What do you make?
                                                                     -------------------------
A group of alumni, all highly established in their respective        This is worth sending to every teacher you know—and to
careers, got together for a visit with their old university pro-     everyone else, too!
fessor. The conversation soon turned to complaints about
the endless stress of work and life.
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went into the
                                                                                         One at a Time
kitchen and soon returned with a large pot of coffee and an          A friend was walking down a deserted Mexican beach at
eclectic assortment of cups—porcelain, plastic, glass,               sunset. As she walked along, she began to see another
crystal—some plain, some expensive, some quite exqui-                woman in the distance. As she grew nearer, she noticed
site. Quietly, he told them to help themselves to some fresh         that the local native kept leaning down, picking up some-
coffee.                                                              thing, and throwing it out into the water. Time and again,
When each of his former students had a cup of coffee in              she kept hurling things out into the ocean.
hand, the old professor cleared his throat and patiently be-         As the friend approached even closer, she noticed that the
gan to address the gathering.                                        woman was picking up starfish that had been washed up
"You may have no-                                                    on the beach. One at a time, she was throwing them back
ticed," he said, "that                                               into the water.
all of the nicer looking                                             The friend was puzzled. She approached the woman and
cups were taken up                                                   said, "Good evening. I was wondering—what are you do-
first, leaving behind                                                ing?"
the      plainer     and
cheaper ones. While                                                  "I'm throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see,
it is only natural for                                               it's low tide right now, and all of these starfish have been
you to want the best                                                 washed up onto the shore. If I don't throw them back into
for yourselves, that is                                              the sea, they will die up here from lack of oxygen."
actually the source of                                               "I understand," my friend replied, "but there must be thou-
many         of     your                                             sands of starfish on this beach. You can't possibly get to all
stress-related prob-                                                 of them. There are simply too many. Don't you realize that
lems.
                              -38-                                                                 -63-
The neighbor, the farmer's younger brother, was coming             "Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.
toward them, his hand outstretched. "You are quite a fellow        In fact, the cup merely disguises or dresses up what we
to build the bridge after all I've said and done."                 drink. What each of you really wanted was coffee, not a
                                                                   cup, but you instinctively went for the best cups. Then you
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then         began eyeing each other's cups.
they met in the middle, taking each other's hands. They
turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoul-                             "Now consider this: Life is coffee.
der.                                                                                      Jobs, money, and positions in soci-
                                                                                          ety are merely cups. They are just
"No, wait! Stay a few days. I've got a lot of other projects for                          tools to shape and contain life, and
you," said the older brother.                                                             the types of cups we have do not
"I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but I have many                               truly define nor change the quality of
more bridges to build."                                                                   the lives we live.
Remember this:                                                     "Often, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy
                                                                   the coffee that God has provided us. God brews the coffee,
God won't ask what kind of car you drove, but He'll ask how        but He does not supply the cups. Enjoy your coffee!"
many people you helped get where they needed to go.
God won't ask the square footage of your house, but He'll           The happiest people don't have the best of everything,
ask how many people you welcomed into your home.                      they just make the best of everything they have.
God won't ask about the clothes you had in your closet, but
He'll ask how many you helped to clothe.                           Remember:
God won't ask how many friends you had, but He'll ask how              * Live simply.
many people there were to whom you were a friend.                      * Love generously.
God won't ask in what neighborhood you lived, but He'll ask            * Care deeply.
how you treated your neighbors.                                        * Speak kindly.

               Who Makes What?                                            Notice Something Beautiful
The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing            From a Good Morning America interview with Lisa
                                                                     Beamer, widow of Todd Beamer who said, "Let's roll,"
life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with            and helped take down the plane that was heading for
education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from                        Washington, D. C., on 9/11/01
someone who decided his best option in life was to become
a teacher?"                                                        Lisa Beamer said it is the little things that she misses most
He reminded the other dinner guests what is said about             about Todd, such as hearing the garage door open when
teachers: Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.               he came home and her children running to meet him. She
                                                                   now has another child, a beautiful little girl named Mary.
To stress his point, he said to another guest, "You're a
teacher, Susan. Be honest. What do you make?"                      On the TV show, Lisa recalled the following story which
                                                                   helped her cope with her loss. She said that many years
Susan, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness,             previously, she had a high school teacher whose husband
replied, "You want to know what I make? I make kids work           died suddenly of a heart attack. About a week after her
harder than they ever thought they could. I make a student         husband's death, the teacher shared some of her insight
with a C+ feel like the winner of the Congressional Medal of       with a class of students. As the late afternoon sunlight
Honor. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in         came streaming in through the classroom windows and the
absolute silence.
                             -62-                                                               -39-
                          class was nearly over, she moved a
                          few things aside on the edge of her
                          desk and sat down there.                                The Carpenter's Solution
                          With a gentle look of reflection on her       Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining
                          face, she paused and said, "Class is          farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years
                          over. I would like to share with all of you   of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery, and trading la-
                          a thought that is unrelated to class, but     bor and goods as needed—without a hitch. Then the long
                          which I feel is very important. Each of       collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunder-
                          us is put here on earth to learn, share,      standing, and it grew into a major difference. Finally, it ex-
                          love, appreciate, and give of ourselves.      ploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks
None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It            of silence.
can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is the
Power's way of telling us that we must make the most out of             One morning. there was a knock on
every single day."                                                      John's door. He opened it to find a man
                                                                        with a carpenter's toolbox. "I'm looking
Her eyes beginning to water, she went on, "So I would like              for a few days' work," the carpenter
for all of you to make me a promise. From now on, on your               said. "Perhaps you would have a few
way to school or on your way home, find something beauti-               small jobs here and there that I could
ful to notice. It doesn't have to be something you see. It              help with. Could I help you?"
could be a scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting
out of someone's house, or it could be the sound of the                                                 "Yes," said the older brother. "I
breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or it might be                                       do have a job for you. Look
the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it                                                across the creek at that farm.
falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things and                                           That's my neighbor. In fact, it's
cherish them, for although it may sound trite to some, these                                           my younger brother! Last week,
things are the 'stuff' of life—the little things we are put here                                       there was a meadow between
on earth to enjoy, the things we often take for granted. We                                            us. He recently took his bull-
must make it important to notice them, for at any time, they                                           dozer to the river levee, and
can all be taken away."                                                                                now there is a creek between
                                                                        us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll do him
The class was completely quiet. The students picked up                  one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you
their books and filed out of the room silently. That after-             to build me a fence—an eight-foot fence—so I won't need
noon, Lisa said that she noticed more things on her way                 to see his place or his face any more."
home from school than she ever had before during that
whole semester. Every once in a while, Lisa thinks of that              The carpenter replied, "I think I understand the situation.
teacher and remembers what an impression she made on                    Show me the nails and the post-hole digger, and I'll be able
all of the students, and she tries to appreciate all of those           to do a job that pleases you."
things that sometimes we all overlook.                                  The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the car-
-------------------------                                               penter get the materials ready, and then he was off for the
Take notice of something special that you see during your               day. The carpenter worked hard all that day—measuring,
lunch today. Go barefoot or walk on the beach at sunset.                sawing, and nailing. About sunset, when the farmer re-
Stop off on the way home to get a double dip ice cream                  turned, the carpenter had just finished his jobl The farmer's
cone. As we get older, it is not the things we did that we of-          eyes opened wide; his jaw dropped. There was no fence
ten regret, but the things we did not do.                               there at all; there was a bridge—a bridge that stretched
                                                                        from one side of the creek to the other! It was a fine piece of
   Remember: Life is not measured by the number of                      work—hand rails and all!
                  breaths we take,
    but by the moments that take our breath away!
                                -40-                                                                   -61-
                                                                                             Take My Son
Remember when the words "I do" meant that you really did,                                     A wealthy man and his
And not just temporarily 'til someone blew his lid.                                           son loved to collect rare
There was no such thing as "no one's fault, we just made a mistake,"                          works of art. They had
There was a time when married life was built on give and take.                                everything in their col-
There was a time when just one glance was all that it would take,                             lection, from Picasso to
And you would know the kind of car, the model, and the make.                                  Raphael. They often sat
They didn't look like turtles trying to squeeze out every mile;                               together and admired
They were streamlined, white walls and fins, and really had some style                        the great works of art.
One time, the music that you played whenever you would jive              When the Viet Nam conflict broke out. the
Was from a vinyl, big-holed record called a forty-five.                  son went to war. He was very courageous, and he died in
The record player had a post to keep them all in line,                   battle while rescuing another soldier. The boy's father was
And then the records would drop down and play one at a time.             notified, and he grieved deeply for his only son.
Oh, sure, we had our problems then, just like we do today,               About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a
And always we were striving, trying for a better way,                    knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a
And every year that passed us by brought new and greater things.         large package in his hands. He said, "Sir, you don't know
We now can even program phones with music or with rings.
                                                                         me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He
Oh, the simple life we lived still seems like so much fun.               saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to
How can you explain a game—just kick the can and run?                    safety when a bullet struck him in the heart, and he died in-
And why would boys put baseball cards between bicycle spokes,            stantly. He often talked about you and your love for art."
And for a nickel, red machines had little bottled Cokes?
This life seemed so much easier and slower in some ways.                 The young man held out his package and continued, "I
I love the new technology, but I sure miss those days.                   know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think
So times move on, and so do we, and nothing stays the same,              your son would have wanted you to have this."
But I sure love to reminisce and walk down memory lane.
                                                                         The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son,
                                                                         painted by the young man who delivered it. The father
                                                                         stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the per-
                                                                         sonality 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," replied the young man, "I could never
                                                                         repay what your son did for me. It's a gift."
                                                                         The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time vis-
                                                                         itors went to his home, he took them to see the portrait of
                                                                         his son before he showed them any of the other great
                                                                         works that he had collected.
                                                                         The man died a few months later. There was to be a great
                                                                         auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered,
                                                                         excited about seeing the great paintings and having an op-
                                                                         portunity to purchase them for their collections. On the plat-
                                                                         form sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded
                                                                         his gavel and announced, "We will start the bidding with
                                                                         this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?"

                                -60-                                                                  -41-
There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room
shouted, "We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this                              Remember When
one."
The auctioneer persisted, however. "Will somebody bid for           A little house with three bedrooms and one car on the street,
this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100? $200?"             A mower that you had to push to make the grass look neat.
                    Another voice angrily                           In the kitchen on the wall, we had only one phone,
                                                                    And no need for recording things; someone was always home.
                    called out, "We didn't
                    come to see this                                We had only a living room where we would congregate,
                    painting. We came to                            Unless it was at meal-time in the kitchen where we ate.
                    see the Van Goghs,                              We had no need for family rooms or extra rooms to dine;
                                                                    When meeting as a famiy, those two rooms would work out fine.
                    the Rembrandts. Get
                    on with the real bids!"                         We had only one TV set, and channels—maybe two—
                                                                    But always, there was one of them with something worth the view.
                    Still the auctioneer                            For snacks, we had potato chips that tasted like a chip,
continued. "The son! The son! Who'll take the son?"                 And if you wanted flavor, there was Lipton's onion dip.
Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was        Store-bought snacks were rare because my mother liked to cook,
the long-time gardener of the man and his son. "I'll give $10       And nothing can compare with snacks in Betty Crocker's book.
for the painting." Being a poor man, it was all he could af-        The snacks were even healthy—with the best ingredients—
                                                                    No labels with a hundred things that make not a bit of sense.
ford.
                                                                    Weekends were for family trips or staying home to play.
"We have $10. Who will bid $20?" called the auctioneer.             We all did things together—even go to church to pray.
                                                                    When we did our weekend trips—depending on the weather—
"Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters," yelled some-       No one stayed at home because we liked to be together.
one in the crowd.
                                                                    Sometimes we would separate to do things on our own,
The auctioneer responded, "$10 is the bid. Won't someone            But we knew where the others were without our own cell phone.
bid $20?"                                                           Then there were the movies with our favorite movie star,
                                                                    And nothing can compare with watching movies in the car.
The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the pic-             Then there were the picnics at the peak of summer season;
ture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments            Pack a lunch and find some trees and never need a reason.
for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel and         Get a baseball game together with the friends you know;
announced, "Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!"                       Have real action playing ball—and no game video!
A man sitting in the second row shouted, "Now, let's get on         Remember when the doctor used to be the family friend,
with the collection!"                                               And didn't need insurance or a lawyer to defend?
                                                                    The way that he took care of you—do what he had to do—
The auctioneer laid down his gavel. "I'm sorry, but the auc-        Because he took an oath and strived to do the best for you.
tion is over."                                                      Remember going to the store and shopping casually,
"What about the paintings?" the crowd shouted.                      And when you went to pay for it, you used your own money?
                                                                    Nothing that you had to swipe, or punch in some amount!
"I am sorry," the auctioneer continued. "When I was called          Remember when the cashier person really had to count!
to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in      Remember when we breathed the air; it smelled so fresh and clean,
the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this   And chemicals were not used on the grass to keep it green.
time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned.              The milkman and the bread man used to go from door to door,
Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire es-           And it was just a few cents more than going to the store.
tate, including the paintings. The man who took the son             There was a time when mailed letters came right to your door
gets everything!"                                                   Without a lot of junk mail ads sent out by every store.
                                                                    The mailman knew each house by name and knew where it was sent;
                                                                    There were no loads of mail addressed to "present occupant."
                              -42-                                                                    -59-
The next time you see a copy of that touching creation,    God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on the cross.
take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you need   Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, "The Son,
one, that no one—no one—ever makes it alone.               the Son, who'll take the Son?"
                                                           The reason, you see, is that whoever takes the Son gets
                                                           everything!
                                                            For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten
                                                            Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall have eternal
                                                                               life. John 3:16
                                                                                 That's love!




                                                                         Crabby Old Woman
                                                                                          When an old lady died in the
                                                                                          geriatric ward of a small hospi-
                                                                                          tal near Dundee, Scotland, it
                                                                                          was believed that she had
                                                                                          nothing left of any value.
                                                                                          When the nurses were going
                                                                                          through her meager posses-
                                                                                          sions later, they found this
                                                           poem. Its quality and content so
                                                           impressed the staff that copies
                                                           were made and distributed to ev-
                                                           ery nurse in the hospital. One
                                                           nurse took her copy to Ireland.
                                                           The old lady's sole bequest to pos-
                                                           terity has since appeared in the
                                                           Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the North Ire-
                                                           land Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation
                                                           has also been made based on her simple, but eloquent,
                                                           poem. This little old Scottish lady, with nothing left to give to
                                                           the world, is now acknowledged as the author of this
                                                           "anonymous" poem winging across the internet.
                          -58-                                                           -43-
                       Crabby Old Woman
What do you see, nurses?         A woman of thirty,                  etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than
     What do you see?                My young now grown fast,        those of most of his professors, and by the time he was
What are you thinking            Bound to each other                 graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for
     When you're looking at me? With ties that should last.          his commissioned works.
A crabby old woman,              At forty, my young sons             When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer
     Not very wise,                  Have grown and are gone,        family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate
Uncertain of habit,              But my man's beside me              Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and mem-
     With faraway eyes?              To see I don't mourn.           orable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht
Who dribbles her food            At fifty, once more                 rose from his honored position at the head of the table to
     And makes no reply              Babies play round my knee,      drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice
When you say in a loud voice, Again we know children,                that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing
     "I do wish you'd try!"          My loved ones and me.           words were, "Now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, it is
                                                                     your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your
Who seems not to notice          Dark days are upon me,              dream, and I will take care of you."
     The things that you do,         My husband is dead.
And forever is losing            I look at the future;               All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the
     A stocking or shoe?             I shudder with dread.           table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face.
                                                                     He was shaking his lowered head from side to side while
Who, resisting or not,           For my young are all rearing        he sobbed and repeated over and over, "No . . . No . . . No .
     Lets you do as you will,        Young of their own,             . . No." Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his
With bathing and feeding,        And I think of the years            cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he
     The long day to fill?           And the love that I've known.   loved, and then holding his hands close to his right cheek,
Is that what you're thinking? I'm now an old woman                   he said softly, "No, brother, I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is
     Is that what you see?           And nature is cruel;            too late for me. Look , , , look . . . what four years in the
Then open your eyes, nurse, 'Tis jest to make old age                mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger
     You're not looking at me.       Look like a fool.               have been smashed at least once, and lately, I have been
I'll tell you who I am           The body, it crumbles;              suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I can-
     As I sit here so still.         Grace and vigor depart.         not even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make
As I do at your bidding,         There is now a stone                delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a
     As I eat at your will.          Where I once had a heart.       brush. No, brother—for me, it is too late."
I'm a small child of ten         But inside this old carcass         More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht
     With a father and mother,       A young girl still dwells,      Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and sil-
Brothers and sisters,            And now and again,                  ver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and
     Who love one another.           My battered heart swells.       copper engravings hang in every great museum in the
A young girl of sixteen          I remember the joys.                world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are
     With wings on her feet          I remember the pain.            familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than
Dreaming that soon now           And I'm loving and living           merely being familiar with it, you may very well have a
     A lover she'll meet.            Life over again.                reproduction hanging in your home office.
A bride soon at twenty,          I think of the years                One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he sacrificed,
     My heart gives a leap,          All too few, gone too fast,     Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused
Remembering the vows             And accept the stark fact           hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched sky-
     That I promised to keep.        That nothing can last.          ward. He called this powerful drawing simply "Hands," but
                                                                     the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to
At twenty-five now,              So open your eyes, people,          this great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love to
     I have young of my own,         Open and see,                   his brother Albert as "The Praying Hands."
Who need me to guide             Not a crabby old woman—
     And a secure happy home.        Look closer at ME!!
                             -44-                                                                 -57-
something for you to do around the office." She smiled and        Remember the poem Crabby Old Woman when you next
continued, "I think he might even find the funds to give you      meet an old person whom you might just brush aside with-
a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a       out looking at the young soul within. One day, we will all be
place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need any-   there, too!
thing, my door is always open to you."                            Please share this poem with others; it is something we all
There were tears in the old man's eyes. "How can I ever                         need to read and acknowledge.
thank you?" he asked.
"Don't thank me," the woman answered. "To God goes the                        Most Valued Treasure
glory. Thank Jesus. He led me to you."
                                                                   A young man learned what is most important in life from
Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at                          the man next door.
the entrance before going their separate ways. "Thank you
for all of your help, officer," she said.                         It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man.
"On the contrary, Ms Eddy," he responded. "I thank you! I         College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact,
saw a miracle today—something I will never forget. And . . .      Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his
and, thank you for the coffee!"                                   dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little
                                                                  time to think about the past and often no time to spend with
                                                                  his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing
Story Behind "The Praying Hands"                                  could stop him.
                                                                  On the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last
In the fifteenth century in a tiny village near Nuremberg,        night. The funeral is on Wednesday."
Germany, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen!
In order merely to keep food on the table for this family, the    Memories flashed through Jack's mind like an old newsreel
father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profes-          as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.
sion, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and         "Jack, did you hear me?" his mother asked.
at any other paying chores he could find in the neighbor-
hood.                                                             "Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I
                                                                  thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died
Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of                years ago," Jack said.
Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both
wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well    "Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him, he asked
that their father would never be financially able to send ei-     how you were doing. He would reminisce about the many
ther of them to Nuremberg to study at the academy. After          days you spent over on 'his side of the fence' as he put it,"
many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the          his mom told him.
two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin.       "I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.
The loser would go down into the nearby mines, and with
his earnings, he would support his brother who would at-          "You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped
tend the academy. Then in four years, after the brother           in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she
who won the toss completed his studies, he would support          said.
the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his art
work, or if necessary, by also laboring in the mines.             "He's the one who taught me carpentry," Jack said. "I
                                                                  wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a
They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church.              lot of time teaching me things he thought were important.
Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Al-        Mom, I'll be there for the funeral." As busy as he was, Jack
bert went down into the dangerous mines, and for the next         kept his word. He caught the next flight to his home town.
four years, he financed his brother, whose work at the
academy was a sensation almost immediately. Albrecht's
                             -56-                                                              -45-
Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no        The cafeteria manager turned on his heel. "I'll get your cof-
children of his own, and most of his relatives had already      fee for you right away, officer."
passed away. The night before Jack had to return home,
he and his mom stopped by to see the old house next door        The officer watched him walk away. "You certainly put him
one more time.                                                  in his place," he said.
Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was       "That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason
like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through       for all of this." She sat down at the table across from her
space and time. The house was exactly as he remem-              amazed guest and stared at him intently. "Jack, do you re-
bered. Every step held memories—every picture, every            member me?"
piece of furniture. Jack stopped suddenly.                      Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. "I
"What's wrong, Jack?" his mom asked.                            think so. I mean you do look familiar."
"The box is gone," he said.                                     "I'm a little older, perhaps," she said. "Maybe I've even
                                                                filled out more than I was in my younger days when you
"What box?" Mom asked.                                          worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and
                                                                hungry."
"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of
his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what           "Ma'am?" the officer said questioningly. He couldn't be-
was inside. All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value        lieve that such a magnificently turned out woman could
most'," Jack responded.                                         ever have been hungry.
It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly the         "I was just out of college," the woman began. "I had come
way Jack remembered it except for the box. He figured that      to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Fi-
someone from the Belser family had taken it.                    nally, I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked
                                                                out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was
"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack la-     February, and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this
mented. "I better get some sleep. I have an early flight        place and walked in on the off chance that I could get
home in the morning, Mom."                                      something to eat."
It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died when          Jack lit up with a smile. "Now I remember," he said. "I was
Jack discovered a note in his mailbox when he returned          behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if
home from work.                                                 you could work for something to eat. I said that it was
The note read: Signature required on a package. No one at       against company policy."
home. Please stop by the main post office within the next       "I know," the woman continued. "Then you made me the
three days.                                                     biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me
Early the next day, Jack retrieved the package. The small       a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and
box was old and looked as if it had been mailed a hundred       enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then
years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the re-   when I looked over, I saw you put the price of my food into
turn address caught his attention. It read: Mr. Harold          the cash register, and I knew then that everything would be
Belser.                                                         all right."
Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the pack-      "So you started your own business?" Old Jack asked.
age. There inside was the gold box and an envelope.             "I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Even-
Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside:                  tually, I started my own business which, with the help of
Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents         God, prospered." She opened her purse and pulled out a
to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life.       business card. "When you are finished here, I want you to
A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing and his   pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He's the personnel director of my
eyes filling with tears, Jack carefully unlocked the box.       company. I'll go talk to him now, and I'm certain he'll find
                            -46-                                                             -55-
"Are you crazy, lady?" the homeless man resisted. "I don't         There he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his
want to go in there." Then he felt strong hands grab his           fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched
other arm and lift him up. "Let me go, officer. I didn't do any-   the cover.
thing."                                                            Inside, he found these words engraved: Jack, thanks for
"This is a good deal for you, Jack," the officer answered.         your time! Harold Belser
"Don't blow it."                                                   "The thing he valued most . . . was . . . my time!" Jack
With some difficulty, the woman and the police officer fi-         mused.
nally got Jack into the cafeteria and settled him at a table in    Jack held the watch for a few minutes; then he called his of-
a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most         fice and cleared his appointments for the next two days.
of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch
had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafete-         "Why?" asked Janet, his assistant.
ria and stood by his table.                                        "I need some time to spend with my son," Jack replied.
"What's going on here, officer?" he asked. "What is all this?      "Oh, and by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!"
Is this man in trouble?"
"This lady brought the man in here to be fed," the police-
man answered.
"Not in here!" the manager replied angrily. "Having a per-
son like that here is bad for business."
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. "See, lady, I told you so.
Now 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 bank-
ing firm down the street?"
"Of course I am," the manager answered impatiently.
"They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet                             Give of your time today.
rooms."                                                              You never know how you might touch a person's soul
"Do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at                       or when that person will be gone,
these weekly meetings?"                                                         and the chance will be gone.
"What business is that of yours?"
"I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, President and CEO of the com-
pany."
"Oh."
The woman smiled again. "I thought that might make a dif-
ference," she responded. She glanced at the officer who
was busy stifling a giggle and asked, "Would you like to join
us for 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."
                             -54-
                                                                                               -47-
                                                                   ¤ Every day, you should reach out and touch some-
              Can I Borrow $25?                                      one; people love that human touch—holding hands,
                                                                     a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
A man came home from work late, tired, and irritated and
found his five-year-old son waiting for him at the door.           ¤ You still have a lot to learn!
Son: Daddy, may I ask you a question?                              ¤ You should pass this on to everyone you care about!
Dad: Yeah, sure. What is it?
Son: Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?
Dad: That's none of your business. Why do you ask such
       a thing?
Son: I just want to know. Please tell me. How much do
    ` you make an hour?
Dad: If you must know, I make $50 an hour.
Son: (lowers head) Oh!
       (lifts head) Daddy, may I please borrow $25?                         Memories in Action
Dad: (furious) If the only reason you asked is so you can
       borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some            The man looked up slowly. He saw a woman who was
       other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to
       your room and go to bed. Think about why you are        clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was
       being so selfish. I don't work hard every day for       new. She looked as if she had never missed a meal in her
       such childish frivolities.                              life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of
Son: (goes quietly to his room and shuts the door)             him, the way so many others had done before.
Dad: (sits down; becomes even angrier) How dare he ask
       such questions—only to get some money?                  "Leave me alone," he growled.
After an hour or so, the man has calmed down.                  To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She
Dad: (thoughtfully) Maybe there was something he really        was smiling—her even white teeth displayed in dazzling
       needed to buy with that $25, and he doesn't ask for     rows.
       money very often.
       (goes to boy's room and opens door) Are you             "Are you hungry?" she asked.
       asleep, Son?                                            "No," he answered sarcastically. "I've just come from din-
Son: No, Daddy. I'm awake.                                     ing with the president. Now go away."
Dad: I've been thinking that maybe I was too hard on you
       earlier. It's been a long day, and I took my aggrava-   The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the
       tion out on you.                                        man felt a gentle hand under his arm.
       (hands money to the child) Here's the $25 you
       asked for.                                              "What are you doing, lady?" the man asked angrily. "I said
Son: (sits up straight and smiles) Oh, thank you, Daddy!       to leave me alone."
       (reaches under his pillow and pulls out some crum-      Just then a policeman came up. "Is there any problem,
       pled bills, begins to count money slowly, and then
       looks up at his father)                                 ma'am?" he asked.
Dad: (starts to become angry again when he sees that           "No problem here, officer," the woman answered. "I'm just
       the boy already has money; grumbles) Why do you
       want more money if you already have some?               trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?"
Son: Because I didn't have enough, but now I do. Daddy,        The officer scratched his head. "That's Old Jack. He's been
       I have $50 now. Can I buy an hour of your time?         a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you
       Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to
       have dinner with you.                                   want with him?"
Dad: (crushed and humble; puts arms around his little          "See that cafeteria over there?" she asked. "I'm going to
       son) Please forgive me, Son. I didn't understand.
-------------------------                                      get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for a
                                                               while."
                            -48-                                                           -53-
fork or spilled food. The four-year-old watched it all in si-    This story is a reminder to everyone working so hard in life.
lence.                                                           We should not let time slip through our fingers without hav-
                                                                 ing spent some time with those who really matter to us,
One evening before dinner, the father noticed his son play-      those close to our hearts.
ing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child
sweetly, "What are you making?"                                  Do remember to share that $50 worth of your time with
                                                                 someone you love. If we die tomorrow, our employers can
Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a lit-      probably replace us easily in a matter of hours. The family
tle bowl for you and Mama to eat your food from when I           and friends we leave behind, however, will feel the loss for
grow up." The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.        the rest of their lives.
The words so struck the parents that they were speech-
less. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks.                 Make time for living while you're still breathing!
Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be
done.
That evening, the husband took Grandfather's hand and
gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of
his days, he ate every meal with the family. For some rea-
son, neither the husband nor the wife seemed to care any
longer when a fork was dropped, milk was spilled, or the ta-
blecloth was soiled.
On a positive note, ponder the following lessons learned:
     ¤ No matter what happens and no matter how bad
       things seem today, life does go on, and it will be
       better tomorrow.
     ¤ You can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she
       handles the following things: a rainy day, the elderly,
       lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
     ¤ Regardless of your relationship with your parents,
       you will miss them when they are gone from your life.              Real-Moment Deprivation
     ¤ Making a "living" is not the same thing as making a       Life is a series of moments; to live each one is to succeed.
       "life."                                                   Many of us suffer from real-moment deprivation. You feel
     ¤ Life sometimes gives you a second chance.                 as if you have to be doing something. You always have the
     ¤ You should not go through life with catcher's mitts on    radio or TV turned on. If you are not doing something, you
       both hands; you need to be able to throw something        feel uncomfortable. Another symptom is that you feel that
       back.                                                     no matter how much you accomplish, it is not enough. You
                                                                 work toward a degree, you work at your career, but nothing
     ¤ If you pursue happiness, it will elude you, but if you    seems to be completely satisfying. Another symptom is the
       focus on your family, your friends, the needs of oth-     sense that life is passing you by.
       ers, your work, and doing the very best you can,
       happiness will find you.                                  Try making the most of each day and of life's littlest things.
                                                                 A real moment is one in which we are right here, right now,
     ¤ Whenever you decide something with an open                not thinking about what we did or what we will do. It's about
       heart, you usually make the right decision.               living in the present. Life is made up of precious moments,
     ¤ Even when you have pains, you don't have to be            but we have to acknowledge them, especially at the time
       one.                                                      when they are happening.
                             -52-                                                             -49-
      Yesterday is a cancelled check. Tomorrow is                Live so that people will never think of age when they are
                   a promissory note.                            with you.
      Today is cash, so spend it wisely and enjoy it!            Get a lot of fun out of life. Take or teach classes that inter-
       Make time for real moments in your life and               est you. Play golf or cards. Travel, walk, and meet new
   create special moments for yourself and for others.           people. Enjoy yourself and have no feelings of guilt. Do all
       The trouble with time is that you don't learn             you can to help make others happy. Get out and work at
      to make the most of it until most of it is gone!           one thing after another that captivates your interest until
                                                                 you find the activities best suited to you. There are plenty of
Memories are the epoxy glue of humanity. Memories may            things that need to be done in every community. As long as
sit dormant in the human mind, and then something is said,       you are alive, there will be much to be done. Write a Suc-
or something is seen, or something happens, and a mem-           cess Journal, and as you write, you will relive all that you
ory seeps out. "Do you remember?" someone asks. The              write about. What a gift that will be to give to your children
memory is shared, savored, and suddenly, it inflates to          or grandchildren so that they will know you better.
wield a mystical power over everyone, bonding the group
warmly.
Military personnel share those sorts of memories years
later, and so do sports team members and classmates at
school reunions. Many family members and friends share
precious moments of the past. Who cares whether or not
the memories are completely accurate? They are
there—preserved in a magical patina of fondness undulled
by time—adding pleasure to the present.                                         The Wooden Bowl
In order to simplify and adjust to our new way of life, why      You will remember this tale of the wooden bowl tomorrow,
use the word retirement? Think of it as a change from one        a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.
pattern of life to another. The fact that a person is making
this change, perhaps even after many years, makes it no          A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law,
less a shift from one form of activity to another. The con-      and four-year-old grandson. The old man's hands trem-
cept of retirement suggests that one is through. The person      bled, his eye sight was blurred, and his steps faltered. The
retires or leaves the active scene. He/she abandons partic-      family ate together at the table, but the elderly grandfa-
ipation and will wither away in front of the TV. A much          ther's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult.
better concept is "life readjustment." Whatever you do, re-      Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped
pulse—with all your spirituality and personality force—the       the glass, milk spilled onto the tablecloth.The son and
idea that your constructive life is ended.                       daughter-in-law became irritated with the messes.
Entertain the thought that some of the greatest contribu-        "We must do something about Father," said the son. "I've
tions of your life can be made in these latter years. You        had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on
have all of the required assets, experience, maturity, and       the floor."
understanding, and your faith will supply you with hope and      The husband and wife set a small table in the corner.
revitalized eagerness and enthusiasm. Keep your mind             Grandfather ate alone there while the rest of the family en-
alert and your faith strong, and time will deal easily with      joyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two,
you.                                                             his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family
Be an ageless type of person. Time is measureless; kings,        glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a
beggars, and all the rest of us have only 24 hours a day. It's   tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the cou-
how we choose to use these hours that makes the differ-          ple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a
ence. You are no older than you will admit yourself to be.
                             -50-                                                             -51-

								
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