FRIENDSHIP AND LOVE

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

Love starts with a smile, grows with a kiss, and ends with a tear. Don't cry over anyone who won't cry over you. Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget. You can only go as far as you push. Actions speak louder than words. The hardest thing to do is watch the one you love, love somebody else. Don't let the past hold you back; you're missing the good stuff. Life's short. If you don't look around once in a while, you might miss it. A best friend is like a four leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have. If you think that the world means nothing, think again. You might mean the world to someone else. When it hurts to look back, and you're scared to look ahead, you can look beside you and your best friend will be there True friendship never ends. Friends are forever. Good friends are like stars....You don't always see them, but you know they are always there. Don't frown. You never know who is falling in love with your smile. What do you do when the only person who can make you stop crying is the person who made you cry? NOBODY IS PERFECT UNTIL YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THEM. (Isn't that the truth?) Everything is okay in the end. If it's not okay, then it's not the end.

Most people walk in and out of you life. But only True friends leave footprints in your heart. Send this on to everyone special in your life, even the people who really make you mad sometimes. Whether we realize it or not, everyone we know is very special to us. When we look back on our younger years, we will remember the people who went to school with us, the people who made us laugh, the people who hung out with us when nobody else would, and the people who made our lives much better simply by being a part of it. There may be somebody who is thinking about you RIGHT NOW and wishing that you were around. That's the wonderful thing about friendship-you always feel loved and cared about. The most important thing to remember is... Always appreciate the friends that you have. A fight may come and go very easily, but a friendship could last forever. For every second spent in anger, a minute of happiness is wasted. So send this to your friends and let them know that you care.

Love and Time
Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived: Happiness, Sadness, Knowledge, and all of the others, including Love. One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all constructed boats and left. Except for Love. Love was the only one who stayed. Love wanted to hold out until the last possible moment. When the island had almost sunk, Love decided to ask for help. Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said, "Richness, can you take me with you?" Richness answered, "No, I can't. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There

is no place here for you." Love decided to ask Vanity who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel. "Vanity, please help me!" "I can't help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat," Vanity answered. Sadness was close by so Love asked, "Sadness, let me go with you." "Oh . . . Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!" Happiness passed by Love, too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her. Suddenly, there was a voice, "Come, Love, I will take you." It was an elder. So blessed and overjoyed, Love even forgot to ask the elder where they were going. When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way. Realizing how much was owed the elder, Love asked Knowledge, another elder, "Who Helped me?" "It was Time," Knowledge answered. "Time?" asked Love. "But why did Time help me?" Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, "Because only Time is capable of understanding how valuable Love is." A Box Full of Kisses
The story goes that some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, "This is for you, Daddy." The man was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found out the box was empty. He yelled at her, stating, "Don't you know, when you give someone a present, there is supposed to be something inside? The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and cried, "Oh, Daddy, it's not empty at all. I blew kisses into the box. They're all for you, Daddy." The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness. Only a short time later, an accident took the life of the child. It is also told that her father kept that gold box by his bed for many years and, whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there. In a very real sense, each one of us, as humans beings, have been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses... from our children, family members, friends, and God. There is simply no other possession, anyone could hold, more precious than this.

Always be careful...
By Valerie

Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird. The police told her "Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door." The lady then said that the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The police said, "We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door." He told her that they think the serial killer has a baby's cry recorded, and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby's cries outside of their doors, when they're home alone at night. This should probably be taken seriously because the Crying Baby theory was mentioned on America's Most Wanted this past Saturday when they profiled the serial killer in Louisiana.

THE 4 WIVES
There was a rich merchant who had 4 wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to delicacies. He took great care of her and gave her nothing but the best. He also loved the 3rd wife very much. He's very proud of her and always wanted to show off her to his friends. However, the merchant is always in great fear that she might run away with some other men. He too, loved his 2nd wife. She is a very considerate person, always patient and in fact is the merchant's confidante. Whenever the merchant faced some problems, he always turned to his 2nd wife and she would always help him out and tide him through difficult times. Now, the merchant's 1st wife is a very loyal partner and has made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and business as well as taking care of the household. However, the merchant did not love the first wife and although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her. One day, the merchant fell ill. Before long, he knew that he was going to die soon. He thought of his luxurious life and told himself, "Now I have 4 wives with me. But when I die, I'll be alone. How lonely I'll be!" Thus, he asked the 4th wife, "I loved you most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No way!" replied the 4th wife and she walked away without another word. The answer cut like a sharp knife right into the merchant's heart. The sad merchant then asked the 3rd wife, "I have loved you so much for all my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No!" replied the 3rd wife. "Life is so good over here! I'm going to remarry when you die!" The merchant's heart sank and turned cold. He then asked the 2nd wife, "I always turned to you for help and you've always helped me out. Now I need your help again. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?" "I'm sorry, I can't help you out this time!" replied the 2nd wife. "At the very most, I can only send you to your grave." The answer came like a bolt of thunder and the merchant was devastated. Then a voice called out : "I'll leave with you. I'll follow you no matter where you go." The merchant looked up and there was his first wife. She was so skinny, almost like she suffered from malnutrition. Greatly grieved, the merchant said, "I should have taken much better care of you while I could have !" Actually, we all have 4 wives in our lives • The 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it'll leave us when we die. • Our 3rd wife ? Our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, they all go to others. • The 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how close they had been there for us when we're alive, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave. • The 1st wife is in fact our soul, often neglected in our pursuit of material, wealth and sensual pleasure. Guess what? It is actually the only thing that follows us wherever we go. Perhaps it's a good idea to cultivate and strengthen it now rather than to wait until we're on our deathbed to lament.

Alexander Fleming
His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to eke out a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death. The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved. "I want to repay you," said the nobleman. "You saved my son's life." "No, I can't accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel. "Is that your son?" the nobleman asked. "Yes," the farmer replied proudly. "I'll make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll grow to a man you can be proud of." And that he did. In time, Farmer Fleming's son graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin. Years afterward, the nobleman's son was stricken with pneumonia. What saved him? Penicillin. name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son's name? Sir Winston Churchill. Someone once said what goes around comes around.

A WAKE UP CALL
by Catherine Pulsifer

The story below is a true story that happened in September. During the month of September, a dear friend of mine lost her husband suddenly in an accident. The tragedy was a shock to everyone. This accident was sudden and certainly unexpected. It drove home the realization that you just don't know when a loved one is no longer going to be with you. We sometimes take our love ones for granted, and we expect that they will be with us forever. However, as we all know, life does not work that way and sometimes we get a wake up call that shocks us and makes us stand back and realize how short life is. In consoling her, I tried to imagine if I was in her shoes how would I feel. It was impossible to imagine what she was going through. What words do I say to help her? Sometimes words just can not express our feelings. Sometimes our actions are much more meaningful than words. A hug can sometimes express more than our words will ever express. Sometimes, just being there to listen is more meaningful and helpful to people. A SECOND WAKE UP CALL, As I was leaving the funeral parlor, I ran into a Marilyn. (Marilyn has been a true friend to me over the years. She is one of those friends who is with you in the good times and is always by your side in the bad times. She has a sense of humor that makes everyone laugh and she makes everyone feel at ease.) We chit chatted for a few moments, and then she asked me how my job was. So I started talking and talking and talking (am sure she wished she had never asked, ha) I was having a stressful week with my job and I was telling her all the issues and how I was feeling. She listened to me as I was raving about my frustrations, then without saying a word, she took her hands and placed them on my face, and said to me, "But at least you had a day." The touch of her hands on my cheeks, the calmness in her voice, and the words she spoke, "BUT AT LEAST YOU HAD A DAY", hit me like a ton of bricks. All the frustrations, all the stress that was building up inside of me came to a complete stop. Since that day, when I start feeling stressed, I remind myself of Marilyn's words - but at least I had a day! Things could be a lot worse, the stress of the situation always could be worse, but I am alive and I have a lot to be thankful for - so I shall not waste my days with stress and frustrations - Life is too short!

Positive Attitude
Jerry is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!" He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life. "Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested. "Yes it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life." I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in the restaurant business...he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gun point by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.

I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?" I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live." "Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked. Jerry continued, "...the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action." "What did you do?" I asked. "Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'BULLETS!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead'." Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude, after all, is everything.

Building Your House
An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business to live a more leisurely life with his wife and enjoy his extended family. He would miss the paycheck each week, but he wanted to retire. They could get by. The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go & asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but over time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career. When the carpenter finished his work, his employer came to inspect the house. Then he handed the front-door key to the carpenter and said, "This is your house... my gift to you." The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then, with a shock, we realize we have to live in the house we have built. If we could do it over, we would do it much differently. But, you cannot go back. You are the carpenter, and every day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Someone once said, "Life is a do-it-yourself project." Your attitude, and the choices you make today, help build the "house" you will live in tomorrow. Therefore, Build wisely!

BUTTERFLY
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us.

We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly! I asked for Strength......... And God gave me Difficulties to make me strong. I asked for Wisdom......... And God gave me Problems to solve. I asked for Prosperity......... And God gave me Brain and Brawn to work. I asked for Courage......... And God gave me Danger to overcome. I asked for Love......... And God gave me Troubled people to help. I asked for Favors......... And God gave me Opportunities. I received nothing I wanted ........ I received everything I needed!

Trust in God. Always !

Dads Blessings
A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer's showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted. As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box. Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man's name embossed in gold. Angry, he raised his voice to his father and said "With all your money, you give me a Bible?" and stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible. Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things. When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father's important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. And as he did, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer's name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words PAID IN FULL. How many times do we miss Spirit's blessings and answers to our prayers because they do not arrive exactly as we have expected?
TODAY'S's affirmation: "Today I look beyond the obvious and allow miracles to be created in my life."

DETERMINATON

In 1883, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with the Long Island. However bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before. Roebling could not ignore the vision he had in his mind of this bridge. He thought about it all the time and he knew deep in his heart that it could be done. He just had to share the dream with someone else. After much discussion and persuasion he managed to convince his son Washington, an up and coming engineer, that the bridge in fact could be built. Working together for the first time, the father and son developed concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With great excitement and inspiration, and the headiness of a wild challenge before them, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge. The project started well, but when it was only a few months underway a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling. Washington was injured and left with a certain amount of brain damage, which resulted in him not being able to walk or talk or even move. "We told them so." chase wild visions." "Crazy men and their crazy dreams." "It`s foolish to

Everyone had a negative comment to make and felt that the project should be scrapped since the Roeblings were the only ones who knew how the bridge could be built. In spite of his handicap Washington was never discouraged and still had a burning desire to complete the bridge and his mind was still as sharp as ever. He tried to inspire and pass on his enthusiasm to some of his friends, but they were too daunted by the task. As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, a gentle breeze blew the flimsy white curtains apart and he was able to see the sky and the tops of the trees outside for just a moment. It seemed that there was a message for him not to give up. Suddenly an idea hit him. All he could do was move one finger and he decided to make the best use of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife. He touched his wife's arm with that finger, indicating to her that he wanted her to call the engineers again. Then he used the same method of tapping her arm to tell the engineers what to do. It seemed foolish but the project was under way again. For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife's arm, until the bridge was finally completed. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man's indomitable spirit and his determination not to be defeated by circumstances. It is also a tribute to the engineers and their team work, and to their faith in a man who was considered mad by half the world. It stands too as a tangible monument to the love and devotion of his wife who for 13 long years patiently decoded the messages of her husband and told the engineers what to do. Perhaps this is one of the best examples of a never-say-die attitude that overcomes a terrible physical handicap and achieves an impossible goal. Often when we face obstacles in our day-to-day life, our hurdles seem very small in comparison to what many others have to face. The Brooklyn Bridge shows us that dreams that seem impossible can be realised with determination and persistence, no matter what the odds are. Even the most distant dream can be realized with determination and persistence.

DON'T WE ALL
I was parked in front of the mall wiping off my car. I had just come from the car wash and was waiting for my wife to get out of work. Coming my way from across the parking lot was what society would consider a bum. From the looks of him, he had no car, no home, no clean clothes, and no money. There are times when you feel generous but there are other times that you just don't want to be bothered. This was one of those "don't want to be bothered times." "I hope he doesn't ask me for any money," I thought. He didn't. He came and sat on the curb in front of the bus stop but he didn't look like he could have enough money to even ride the bus. After a few minutes he spoke. "That's a very pretty car," he said. He was ragged but he had an air of dignity around him. His scraggly blond beard keep more than his face warm. I said, "thanks," and continued wiping off my car. He sat there quietly as I worked. The expected plea for money never came. As the silence between us widened something inside said, "ask him if he needs any help." I was sure that he would say "yes" but I held true to the inner voice. "Do you need any help?" I asked.

He answered in three simple but profound words that I shall never forget. We often look for wisdom in great men and women. We expect it from those of higher learning and accomplishments. I expected nothing but an outstretched grimy hand. He spoke the three words that shook me. "Don't we all?" he said. I was feeling high and mighty, successful and important, above a bum in the street, until those three words hit me like a twelve gauge Don't we all? I needed help. Maybe not for bus fare or a place to sleep, but I needed help. I reached in my wallet and gave him not only enough for bus fare, but enough to get a warm meal and shelter for the day. Those three little words still ring true. No matter how much you have, no matter how much you have accomplished, you need help too. No matter how little you have, no matter how loaded you are with problems, even without money or a place to sleep, you can give help. Even if it's just a compliment, you can give that. You never know when you may see someone that appears to have it all. They are waiting on you to give them what they don't have. A different perspective on life, a glimpse at something beautiful, a respite from daily chaos, that only you through a torn world can see. Maybe the man was just a homeless stranger wandering the streets. Maybe he was more than that. Maybe he was sent by a power that is great and wise, to minister to a soul too comfortable in themselves. Maybe God looked down, called an Angel, dressed him like a bum, then said, "go minister to that man cleaning the car, that man needs help." Don't we all?

EAGLES IN A STORM

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm. When the storms of life come upon us - and all of us will experience them we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God's power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives. We can soar above the storm. Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
People always come into your life for a reason, a season and a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do. When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, or to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. They may seem like a godsend to you, and they are. They are there for a reason, you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die, Sometimes they just walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

GENEROSITY
Mahatma Gandhi went from city to city, village to village collecting funds for the Charkha Sangh. During one of his tours he addressed a meeting in Orissa. After his speech a poor old woman got up. She was bent with age, her hair was grey and her clothes were in tatters. The volunteers tried to stop her, but she fought her way to the place where Gandhiji was sitting. "I must see him," she insisted and going up to Gandhiji touched his feet. Then from the folds of her sari she brought out a copper coin and placed it at his feet. Gandhiji picked up the copper coin and put it away carefully. The Charkha Sangh funds were under the charge of Jamnalal Bajaj. He asked Gandhiji for the coin but Gandhiji refused. "I keep cheques worth thousands of rupees for the Charkha Sangh," Jamnalal Bajaj said laughingly "yet you won't trust me with a copper coin." "This copper coin is worth much more than those thousands," Gandhiji said. "If a man has several lakhs and he gives away a thousand or two, it doesn't mean much. But this coin was perhaps all that the poor woman possessed. She gave me all she had. That was very generous of her. What a great sacrifice she made. That is why I value this copper coin more than a crore of rupees."
Life Still Has A Meaning
If there is a future there is time for mendingTime to see your troubles coming to an ending. Life is never hopeless however great your sorrowIf you're looking forward to a new tomorrow. If there is time for wishing then there is time for hopingWhen through doubt and darkness you are blindly groping. Though the heart be heavy and hurt you may be feelingIf there is time for praying there is time for healing. So if through your window there is a new day breakingThank God for the promise, though mind and soul be aching, If with harvest over there is grain enough for gleaningThere is a new tomorrow and life still has meaning. I will convince

my heart.

DREAMS
The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that that lit up her entire being. She said, "Hi, handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?" I laughed and enthusiastically responded, "Of course you may!" and she gave me a giant squeeze. "Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I asked. She jokingly replied, "I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel." "No seriously," I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age. "I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!" she told me. After class we walked to the student union building and share a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this "time machine" as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up. At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, "I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know." As we laughed she cleared her throat and began: "We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. "You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dean and don't even know it!" "There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity in change." "Have no regrets. The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets." She concluded her speech by courageously singing The Rose. She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the years end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be.

If you read this, please send this peaceful word of advise to your fiends and family. We send these words in loving memory of ROSE. Remember, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY, GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL. There are many messages in this story: - you are never to old to learn, - always pursue your dreams, you are never to old to set your goals and accomplish your dreams, - laugh and find humor in everyday, - find opportunities in change,especially in today's world where change is moving at a fast pace, don't let change overwhelm you, let change help you find opportunities you may have never seen! - have no regrets - her story is so true, so many people use words such as "if only", "I wish", "I can't", etc. Do you have a dream, a wish, then turn it into a goal today - break it down, take one step, then another and accomplish your dream. Catherine Pulsifer

Thomas Edison's
It was a cold December night in West Orange, New Jersey. Thomas Edison's factory was humming with activity. Work was proceeding on a variety of fronts as the great inventor was trying to turn more of his dreams into practical realities. Edison's plant, made of concrete and steel, was deemed "fireproof". As you may have already guessed, it wasn't! On that frigid night in 1914, the sky was lit up by a sensational blaze that had burst through the plant roof. Edison's 24-year-old son, Charles, made a frenzied search for his famous inventor-father. When he finally found him, he was watching the fire. His white hair was blowing in the wind. His face was illuminated by the leaping flames. "My heart ached for him," said Charles. "Here he was, 67 years old, and everything he had worked for was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, 'Charles! Where's your mother?' When I told him I didn't know, he said, 'Find her! Bring her here! She'll never see anything like this as long as she lives.'" Next morning, Mr. Edison looked at the ruins of his factory and said this of his loss: "There's value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God, we can start anew." What a wonderful perspective on things that seem at first to be so disastrous. A business failure, divorce, personal dream gone sour . . . whether these things destroy an individual depends largely on the attitude he or she takes toward them. Sort out why it happened, and learn something from the blunders. Think of different approaches that can be taken. Start over.

Happiness is Attitude
The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. "I love it," she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy. "Mrs. Jones, you haven't seen the room .... just wait." “That doesn't have anything to do with it," she replied. "Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged ... it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it ... It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away ... just for this time in my life."

GOOD THINGS DON’T STAY TOGETHER,
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

BUT OFTEN STAY APART

Moments that we’ve shared, cannot be jotted down on paper, But nevertheless it was chemistry, not vapor, You walked into my life, and made the deepest mark, This ignited my fire, which gave birth to a spark, When you are here, I have the world with me, It is heaven; I wish it could be eternity, We walked side by side, Hand in hand, under the moonlight, The touch of your hand, your presence worthwhile, The warmth that you give me makes me feel so secure, I will be with you in pain; I will be with you in cure! As the sun rose, and a new day just began, You leave my hand and told me it’s all done, I know you have to go, but you’ll stay by my side, That look in your eyes, just seems to tell me more, Though, the parting is a pain, our love seems to grow, You tell me not to cry, but, keep a positive heart, “Because all good things don’t stay together, but often stay apart.” The day is finally here, when you leave me all alone, Like an orphan misses a mother, and a homeless misses a home, The depth in your eyes, your touch and your feel, Is what I’ll miss, I’ll miss you for real, That passion and that care, you’ve showered on me, Are all those special moments, and that’s what they are going to be. If I had to give you something, that would remind you of me, I’d give you a house full of memories, Because memories are things that go deeper into time, We can look back at them and revive all that, lasting for years to go, We’ll build it together and cherish it forever, All that we shared, we’d capture under lock and key, And make a life in that house, which is ideal for you and me. Its time for us to part, you’ll be at the other end of the world, Both of us with a totally shattered heart, My heart bleeds to see you depart, I will wait for you with bated breath, I will lead my life, but I will also fret, Cause without you I am incomplete, the emptiness is there, Only when you are with me again, will that hollowness disappear, As the sun goes down, with autumn all around, Till the waters are blue, I will wait for you, I wish you luck for the times we‘re apart, I will miss you, don’t worry

Mothers day - inspiring story about mother
A man stopped at a flower shop to order some flowers to be wired to his mother who lived two hundred miles away. As he got out of his car he noticed a young girl sitting on the curb sobbing. He asked her what was wrong and she replied, "I wanted to buy a red rose for my mother. But I only have seventy-five cents, and a rose costs two dollars." The man smiled and said, "Come on in with me. I'll buy you a rose." He bought the little girl her rose and ordered his own mother's flowers. As they were leaving he offered the girl a ride home. She said, "Yes, please! You can take me to my mother." She directed him to a cemetery, where she placed the rose on a freshly dug grave.

The man returned to the flower shop, canceled the wire order, picked up a bouquet and drove the two hundred miles to his mother's house.

Another man's folly
...He paid the price for another man’s folly. One life gone, 2 people dead ! A mother is devastated, she is howling with pain, yelling all she can in that dark and dingy corner of her four by four kholi. There was nobody to hear her yell and not a soul to pacify her, because outside her shack is a long winding lonely road. There was no existence of mankind for miles and miles ahead. The wind was at rest, the leaves didn’t rustle and no resonance of a barking dog, silence filled the air. Loneliness was already killing her, but no one knows what made her cry? Losing something you love with all your heart isn’t really the grief you can ever overcome. Radha lost her baby. Her only means to live. She saw her child getting crushed under a car in front of her own eyes. Blood was all over and the accident was terrible. One lonely night, she was walking down the street t get a breath of fresh air with her child cuddled tight in her arms. She walked a long time s till she saw the face of mankind (in the evilest form). The whole time she walked with her child in her arms the only thing that worried her was Aryans (her son’s) future. What kind of a person will he be? Will he make me proud? How much light is life going to bring in his existence? She was imagining and feeling every day of the Childs growth, and what she had in store for him. But who knows what’s in store for us tomorrow, life can change in the splits of a second. Talk about destiny, all those dreams hopes and expectations were snatched away from her in an instant. Her smiles were frowns and her faith just crumbled, like a deal soul in a living, rather breathing body. This is how it happened…. On that abandoned road, were a few streetlights barely sufficient? There was this one light that was visible from a distance, but as it came closer it got brighter and brighter. That light changed radha’s life into darkness forever. A speeding car came down that road, as if the driver had jammed the accelerator, cutting across the wind. He came at a speek of 110kmph throwing beer bottles out of his half open window. He was definitely drunk, the speed took everything in its path. Just then, there was a loud cry, and silence set in again. The cry of a baby and no sight of a child. Ironically the mother wasn’t hurt, not a scratch on a body, not a bruise on her arm. She opened her eyes and didn’t she Aryan, her vision was blur. After a few minutes when her sight cleared up she looked all over frantically for her baby, but alas! There was nothing. Just then she noticed something about then feet away it was blood draining into the gutter’s, and pieces of minced flesh, laying there saying so much without saying anything at all. The blood of her baby, the child who hadn’t even seen life, He paid the price for another man’s folly. The same little child whose future was just being planned. Simple, don’t drink and drive. You could take a life, but kill a number of people.

Keep On Singing
Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. They find out that the new baby is going to be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sings to his sister in Mommy's tummy. The pregnancy progresses normally for Karen, an active member of the Panther Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tennessee. Then the labor pains come. Every five minutes every minute. But complications arise during delivery. Hours of labor. Would a C-section be required? Finally, Michael's little sister is born. But she is in serious condition. With siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushes the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital, Knoxville, Tennessee. The days inch by. The little girl gets worse. The pediatric specialist tells the parents, "There is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst."

Karen and her husband contact a local cemetery about a burial plot. They have fixed up a special room in their home for the new baby - now they plan a funeral. Michael, keeps begging his parents to let him see his sister, "I want to sing to her," he says. Week two in intensive care. It looks as if a funeral will come before the week is over. Michael keeps nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. But Karen makes up her mind. She will take Michael whether they like it or not. If he doesn't see his sister now, he may never see her alive. She dresses him in an oversized scrub suit and marches him into ICU. He looks like a walking laundry basket, but the head nurse recognizes him as a child and bellows, "Get that kid out of here now! No children are allowed. The mother rises up strong in Karen, and the usually mild-mannered lady glares steeleyed into the head nurse's face, her lips a firm line. "He is not leaving until he sings to his sister!" Karen tows Michael to his sister's bedside. He gazes at the tiny infant losing the battle to live. And he begins to sing. In the pure hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sings: "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray --- " Instantly the baby girl responds. The pulse rate becomes calm and steady. Keep on singing, Michael. "You never know, dear, how much I love you, Please don't take my sunshine away---" The ragged, strained breathing becomes as smooth as a kitten's purr. Keep on singing, Michael. "The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms..." Michael's little sister relaxes as rest, healing rest, seems to sweep over her. Keep on singing, Michael. Tears conquer the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glows. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don't, take my sunshine away." Funeral plans are scrapped. The next, day-the very next day-the little girl is well enough to go home! Woman's Day magazine called it "the miracle of a brother's song." The medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of God's love! NEVER GIVE UP ON THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE Life Experiences of Bill McDonald "A Spiritual Warrior's Journey"

Amazing Grace
It was during the summer of 1994 that a most wonderful and unexplainable experience took place in the lives of my daughter and me. It all began when I went to Los Angeles for a church convocation. I was staying at a hotel in the downtown area and was attending the classes and meetings in the same hotel. One afternoon, between events, my old friend Bob invited me out to lunch. He wanted to take me to a local Indian restaurant that was only a short walk from the hotel. We had a great lunch and some good conversation. We left the restaurant and began our walk back to the hotel. We walked through the downtown area where many homeless people hung around the streets. As we stepped around one corner, a man with a wild look on his face jumped up in front of us. He thrust a filthy finger at Bob as he shouted out a date, including the month and the year. My friend stood frozen as their eyes met. I asked Bob what that date meant to him. He turned to me and said that it was his birthday, right down to the year. We were both dumbfounded as to why, or how, some homeless man could possibly have known that kind of information. The man had looked just like all the other homeless men we saw around us, except for that strange look in his eyes. We turned and walked across the street to get away from the homeless man who had shocked us with his sudden insight. He did not follow us as we made it safely to the other side of the street. Just outside the metro station steps, we came upon an old black man. He was standing

with a tarnished saxophone in his weathered hands. The beat-up old instrument case lay open on the sidewalk with its precious few collection of coins. I felt an odd compulsion, so I approached him. I asked him if he accepted requests for music. He said he did, so I asked him if he could play my favorite hymn, “Amazing Grace.” He gave me an odd little smile, nodded, and said he would give it a try. Then, that old man lifted his dull saxophone up to his chapped lips and began to softly play. As the music began to flow, people walking by on the street actually stopped. Cars slowed down, rolling down their windows to better hear. The music that spilled from this man’s sax was unlike anything I had ever heard before. Bob and I just stood there. Tears formed in my eyes. The music was so sweet and peaceful. The old man was playing this traditional spiritual hymn in a jazz style that sounded utterly perfect. The strangest thing about his music, however, was the effect it had on all those people who had just moments before been running around in their business suits and mentally engaged in worldly affairs. Even the other homeless men seemed to be transported beyond this street corner serenade. It was as if we were all together in some chapel, instead of on a busy LA city street. I noticed that people coming up from the Metro station stairs had stopped to listen. No one was moving. All of us were transfixed by the music coming out of this old man’s saxophone. When I looked at the musician, I noticed that a change had come over him as he played that song. His once dirty, street-hardened face and hands now appeared much softer. His eyes sparkled with a moist, far away look. He held that instrument tenderly, lovingly, as if it were his child. As he finished the song, he had a glow about him; he seemed radiant. A soft light seemed to come from him. I quietly put a donation in his case. It felt as if I were putting the donation in the collection basket at my church on Sunday. He had a small, knowing smile across his ebony face. I asked him to play it again for me as I walked back to the hotel down the street. So, once again he put that sax to his lips and began another sweet rendition of “Amazing Grace” in his soft jazz style. Bob and I reluctantly headed back to the hotel. The sounds of his sax followed us and seemed to bounce off the tall office buildings that surrounded us. That song had not only transformed both of us, but I noticed that other listeners seemed to be as emotionally moved as we were. When I boarded the plane to return home to Sacramento, I could still see that old man’s face etched in my mind. The sound of his music was still playing within me. I sat on the plane, completely at peace with myself and the world. The memories of the song caused tingles up and down my spine, almost as if I were in love or being loved. Now, here is the rest of the story… When I returned home, my daughter came to visit me. As I began to tell her the story of the old man and the song, she stopped me. She asked me if it had happened that past Thursday. I replied, “Yes, it had.” She asked if it had taken place about one in the afternoon. I replied that it had. She then told me about her experience with her boyfriend, at that same day and time in Sacramento while I was still in LA. She and her boyfriend had been driving around town, and she was trying to find some music on his car radio. As she was turning the dial, she happened upon the sounds of a saxophone playing the hymn “Amazing Grace.” She went on to explain that it had sounded very different from anything she had ever heard before. She said it had sounded kind of like jazz. The song was so moving that they pulled off the road so they could listen to it with their full attention. They had both listened to the hymn in awed silence, just sitting there in the parked car. I was moved by her story. I found it wonderfully strange that a radio station could have been playing that same song, at the same time, as my street musician was playing it for me in LA. Also, both versions of the song were played by a sax and both had that soft jazz sound to them. The reactions of my daughter and her boyfriend were just as emotional as Bob and I had in LA. I needed to take my daughter to pick up her car that same morning after we exchanged stories about what had happened to each of us. When I turned the key over to start my pickup truck, the radio came on playing “Amazing Grace.” It was not the same version, but it brought us a moment of reflection over all that had happened. I suddenly had a wave of blissful love engulf me as the impact of what had happened sunk in. We both looked at each other, and we felt bonded together forever. I do not know how any father and daughter could ever feel any closer than we did at that moment. We will never be able to fully understand what happened, but we will always cherish the memory of that hymn “Amazing Grace.” Now, whenever I hear that song being played or sung, I feel such inner bliss because I know that God really does love us; and he blesses us in so many ways.

Angels and Dogs
The year was 1956, and I was 10 years old. I had just returned home from my long stay at the San Jose County Hospital where I was a captive for almost a full year of my young life. I had been through some long treatments and a year of complete bed rest. I was just glad to be alive and home again. I was looking for ways to make myself better, not just physically but spiritually as well. Even though I was very young, I felt a strong urge and need to draw closer in my personal relationship with God. One of the first things I remember doing was taking a vow never to eat meat again. My thinking was that if the Catholics did not eat meat on Fridays, then I could go without it altogether. After all, I had so much to be grateful for. My mother was supportive of my decision, but she did suggest that I eat some fish and fowl since otherwise there would not be much for me to consume. Shortly after making this personal decision, I shared a strange yet beautiful experience with my mother. The moment still stands out brightly in my heart and mind today. We were resting on the sofa in the living room when I began to hear what sounded like the singing of a church choir. I had never in all my life heard singing as wonderful as this. The multitude of muted feminine voices seemed to be coming from all around us, even from inside of me. The sound and feel of the sensuous music was soft—very holy, very sacred. I had never heard any church music sound so inspiring or so beautiful. At first, I had thought that someone may have left on a radio or a record player. I could tell from the look my mother gave me that she was hearing the singing also! We both got up and searched the entire house, but we could not locate the source of this beautiful singing. No matter where I went, the music followed me. Outside, it seemed to be coming from the sky itself. A pleasurable, blissful chill came over my entire body, and a joyful shiver raced up my spine. It was like being loved and being in love. No matter where we went, the music remained the same volume as if it were a part of us. The voices were everywhere, singing, praising, loving. My mother and I finally stood side by side, listening. Peace washed over both of us. I embraced the feeling of love that blossomed within myself. I felt as if I were being hugged by a divine being. Neither I nor my mother could offer any explanation for the singing, so we just absorbed all that awesome peace. Finally, after a blissfully long time, the voices gently faded. My mother and I both felt lightheaded and joyous for several days following that event. Later, when my mother suggested to me that we had perhaps been blessed to hear the angels themselves singing, I fully accepted that as a fact. And it felt right. Just a short while after this shared experience, a passing car hit one of our dogs. He could barely move when I found him lying there in the street. I tearfully carried him inside the house to the sofa where I knelt down on my knees and prayed. I prayed with all my heart and soul for God to heal my dog. With all my faith, I tensed up my entire body; then, I gently laid my hands on the dog and wished with all my strength for God to transfer that energy to him. It felt like electricity jumping from my fingertips into the dog's body. To my astonishment, my dog suddenly jumped off the sofa. He paraded around the house as if nothing had ever happened. He was healed! I believed that God healed my dog because I had trusted and believed in Him. My faith in God had healed my dog. More strange and wonderful experiences began to unfold after that healing. I found that I was aware of events in the future, not just my own future but in the futures of other people I didn't even know. At the time, I did not realize what was unfolding or why these things were happening to me. Back then, I was but a small, trusting child who somehow was graced to have experienced the magic and holiness of God's angels. I heard them sing, and they touched my heart and soul forever!

Cat Angel
We once had a very fat and lovable tabby cat called "Critter." She belonged to my son before he left to go into the Army and eventually off to the Gulf War. That is how my wife and I became the caretakers of this furry feline. Over a short period of time, Critter took over the house not by being bossy but by being so

loving. She knew how to get anything she ever wanted just by turning on the old charm. This cat was not a fighter but definitely a lover. She got along with all of the neighborhood cats and dogs, allowing any of them into our yard. When I went into the garden, she followed me all around, stopping where and when I did. She lay or sat at my feet as I worked in the garden, sometimes almost causing me to trip over her fat little body. She was a people cat and loved to be around us all the time. I had a room built into the attic space above my garage ceiling. This little room was my sanctuary, a place where I could find quiet for prayer and meditation periods. I put a couple of chairs in there right under the skylight I had installed in the roof. I would sit in one chair and old Critter often wandered up the pull-down steps and climbed onto the other chair, which had a soft cushion on it. She always lay there, silent and still, no matter how long I was meditating or praying. She really enjoyed being up there with me, as evidenced by her purring. She never left until I was finished, and we went into the house together. If I left the stairs down when I went to work, she often wandered back up there and sat in "her" chair. I enjoyed her company at night the most. Her nightly routine began when she jumped up on our mattress and pounced along from the foot of the bed to our pillows. She circled around a few times, rubbing her furry body into our faces before she settled down between our heads. I loved to pet her soft body, which started her purring like a small motor. But in order to get any sleep, I had to nudge her toward our feet, where she eventually curled up into a small ball of fur and slept. Around four every morning, she wanted to be let outside for her morning social time. One day while I was away on a business trip, my wife called me with bad news. Some stray dogs had been running loose and got into our yard. They had attacked and killed our friendly, little tabby cat. My wife said that she was not home when it happened. It was our neighbor who stopped the attack and took the cat to the vet's office where she died. At least we were spared from having to see her bloody body or hearing her cries for help. I felt an emptiness inside because I never got to say goodbye to her. There was no closure for me. Not long after Critter's death, something happened to help me with my closure. I had been sleeping in late on a cold Sunday morning when I felt a familiar bounce at the end of the mattress. It was followed by the pouncing of little cat-like feet walking up the bed toward my head. I felt the touch of fur on my neck and the back of my head. I could hear the loud purring and feel the warm breathing in my ear of a cat. I reached behind my head expecting to stroke my cat, but when I did, there was nothing there. No cat. No nothing at all. A gentle current of energy flowed up my spine as I realized what had happened. I knew my cat was no longer alive. Yet, I knew that what I had felt were very real sensations. I knew then that my cat had come back just to say goodbye in the only way a cat angel could. I felt at peace once again. I had my closure.

Our Heavenly Father's Gifts
I asked God to take away my pride, And God said "No." He said it was not for him to take away, but for me to give up. I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. And God said "No." He said her spirit is whole, her body is only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience. And God said "No." He said patience is a by-product of tribulations. It isn't granted, it is earned. I asked God to give me happiness. And God said "No." He said he gives me blessings, happiness is up to me. I asked God to spare me pain. And God said "No." He said suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to Me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow. And God said "No." He said I must grow on my own. But he would prune me to make me fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life. And God said "No." He said I will give you life, that you may enjoy all things. God to help me LOVE others, as much as he loves me. And God said, Ah, finally you have the idea. Amen!!!

The Hitchhiker
For several days I had a nagging feeling that I had someone special waiting for me. In fact, I couldn't get the thought out of my mind. Hebrews 13:2 kept coming to the forefront of my thoughts. It was a mantra playing in my mind, overshadowing all my other thoughts: "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." When I went to the local bookstore, I picked up only one book. It was Linda Goodman's Star Signs. It was stacked on a lower shelf, and I had to actually stoop down to see it there. I reached down and pulled out this one particular hardback that was among dozens of other books. For whatever reason, this book acted like a magnet. I felt drawn to it. I quickly opened it at the beginning of the book, and jumping out at me was the Bible quote from Hebrews 13:2, which had been ever present in my thoughts all week long. I could not believe that the first book I picked up, on the first page I turned to, had this verse sitting right there in front of me to remind me of "my appointment." I did not know what specifically I was to do or whom I was going to run into. I was trusting that my inner feelings would lead me to the right place and the right time to make "my appointment." I relaxed and let the thought go. Later in the week, while at work in downtown Sacramento, I got an urge to leave work early to head home. The feelings were too strong to ignore. I left work, heading south down Highway 99. That Bible passage kept coming back to me as I drove. I knew something was about to happen, so I was on the lookout for what it might be even though I was not totally certain of what I was looking for. My feelings got stronger the farther I drove south. I felt I was about to make my appointment and very soon. When I passed the South Sacramento Kaiser Hospital, which was only about five miles from my house, I saw a hitchhiker alongside the highway. It was illegal to be hitchhiking on that stretch of the highway. He was not near an onramp, and he was standing along the highway where no one could safely pull over to give him a ride. It was obvious that this young man did not have a clue as to how to hitchhike. I decided that I should pull over and give him a ride. It just did not feel like an optional thing to do. My feelings were very strong that this was something I needed to do. I pulled over as close to where he was as I possibly could. Even then, he had to run about 100 feet to get to my pickup truck. When he got up to my side window, I could see how young he was. I later found out he was 22 years old. He looked beat-up by the weather and life in general. He was soaked from sleeping in a field alongside the highway the night before. The rain had continued to dampen him and his spirits all day. He was wearing a short sleeve shirt, and he didn't even have a jacket. He had taken a pair of white socks and had fashioned gloves over both of his arms. It was apparent that he was trying to keep warm, but the socks were soaked, as was everything else he was wearing. He looked in at me through my truck window, but then he pulled back with a strange look on his face when he got a good look at me. I asked him where he was heading. He replied that he was trying to get to Texas, to find his stepdad. I was only going a couple more exits down the highway, but I told him to hop in the truck and I would take him a short way. He smelled like someone who had been living out on the streets for weeks without a

shower. He had a rancid body order that emanated in all directions. It was a musky, foul smell like a pile of unwashed gym clothes stuffed in a locker for months. His clothing was drenched and more than just dirty; he was filthy from head to toe. He was so cold and chilled that he was actually shaking. He did not say too much as we made it to my exit ramp. When I took the turnoff, I impulsively asked him to stay in the truck. I took him to my home so he could warm up and eat. When we got to my house and my daughter saw the young man coming in with me, she made an expression that I knew meant she wondered what in the heck I was doing. His odor permeated the house. I showed him the bathroom where he could take a hot shower. I gave him some of my clothing to change into, tossing his spent rags in my garbage can. When he was clean and freshly dressed, I took him to my garage and pulled out my camping equipment. My thoughts were that if this kid were going to survive out on his own, he needed some basic equipment. I pulled out a backpack and filled it with camping gear, including a waterproof tarp that he could use to make a shelter. Back in the house, I packed a wool blanket and some other comfort items into the backpack. I went through my clothing and gave him some underwear, tee shirts, sweaters, socks, extra jeans, and most important, a jacket. I also gave him an old Oakland Raider's baseball cap and a bag to carry extra food and clothing. I made sure that he was fully equipped. He was grateful and polite when I made him lunch. He looked at me in the same way he had when we first saw each other on the highway. I asked him what he was thinking. He told me that he had left his grandmother's house up on the northern coast of California because she had died. He had no one to turn to and no place to call home. He told me about all his time spent in foster homes and about the lousy life he had been living. He was now trying to hitchhike to Texas to see if his stepdad would take him in. He went on to tell me how he got to that place on the highway and what had happened to him the night before. He told me that the rainstorm had drenched him. He was unable to stay dry because he had no tent or rain gear. Everything he owned had been totally rain soaked. His sleeping bag was ruined, so he had thrown it away. He had no jacket or spare clothing. He went on talking, and it was easy for me to see that he was desperate and depressed. The night before, he had felt that he had absolutely nothing in his life for which to live. There was nobody in his life to help him or care about him. This caused him much inner pain. I could empathize since I'd felt this way many times during my younger years. As he talked about his night of despair, I could tell how close this young man had come to thoughts of suicide. I thought on that night of his young life when all he wanted was to end all the suffering. He had felt so unloved and unwanted, even the weather was against him. At this point in his conversation, his eyes got that fixed look on me again. He told me that at his very lowest point of despair the night before, he had some kind of "real-life dream," as he called it, while he was totally awake. He saw a man who looked just like I did: same clothing, same beard, hair, eyes, and voice. He believed I was the one who had been in his real-life dream the previous night. He did not understand how or why. He went on to say that "this man" came to him with a smile on his face as he reached out and said something. I stopped his story at this point. I opened a kitchen drawer, reached in and pulled out an opened pack of sugarless chewing gum. His eyes opened wide. "Some people have said that I have a special psychic gift. When I hand you this, you will understand more fully what happened to you last night," I said. I reached out and put the pack of gum into his hand, and his eyes began to tear up. Why I had said and done this, I was not even sure myself, but the words just came out. He stated that in his real-life dream, the man who looked like I did, had put the package of chewing gum into his hands. Then, the man in the dream went on to say something to him. "And the man said that everything would be all right. God loves you," I finished his sentence for him. The young man let out a gasp. He said that was word for word what the man in his dream had said to him. Those were the exact words that the night before gave him enough hope to continue his journey to Texas. My daughter, who had been watching all this transpire, couldn't believe all that she heard. The kitchen was very quiet for a few moments as we tried to figure out what had taken place. We had just witnessed something incredibly special. We did not have a clue as to how or what had happened or even why. I gave the young man a hug. We got back into my pickup truck, and I drove him to the best spot to catch a ride heading south on Highway 99. I put a few dollars in his pocket and handed him a raincoat so he would be comfortable. He got out of my truck, and I watched him walk away down the road. He turned one last time to look back at me, sitting there in my truck. "Thanks," he called out.

"Thank God," I replied. He walked over to the on-ramp for the highway to continue his journey. I started up my truck and turned around to head home. My eyes were beginning to get moisture in them. I figured it must have been all the rain, but I knew this was much deeper. I knew God had given me a special gift that day. That happened back in 1991, and I have been sending out prayers for this young man ever since. I do not know his name or where he is, but I know that in some strange and wonderful way our paths had crossed. Our lives have been forever changed because I listened to that voice within me. How many more strangers are waiting out there for others to discover and help? How many are "angels unawares?" Out of the Mouths of Children I was on a family outing with some old friends and their two children, enjoying a rafting trip down the American River not too far from Sacramento. We had been rafting under a hot summer sun, and we pulled over to a beach to rest and have lunch. That is when we heard shouting and saw some activity on the beach up the river. Our friend Beverly, who had been walking ahead of me, was quickly on the scene where two young men had pulled a 17-year-old boy from the river. The young man was not breathing. His face was white and bluish as he lay motionless on the ground. He looked like a dead person. A group of young people with their heads bowed had gathered around him. No one was moving to do anything to help revive the drowned boy whose time was running out very quickly. Beverly, who had just completed a Red Cross CPR class, was getting ready to jump in and help. She was willing to do what she had been trained to do, but she was not totally confident since she had never done this in a real situation before. I told her to step aside and allow me. I had been a professional lifeguard in my last year in the U.S. Army. I had some reallife experiences and also had taken the class several times over the years. I knew I could help. I knelt down and took the young man's head in my hands. By this time, he looked very much dead. He must have been lying on the beach for several minutes in this condition. He looked as bad as I have ever seen someone who wasn't drowned beyond saving. I began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I could feel his chest swell up and rise each time I pushed my air into his lungs. In my mind, I kept wondering why all these young people were not doing anything and why they had just left their friend lying on the sandy beach. I looked around and saw all these able-bodied teenagers still standing there with their heads bowed. I was getting angry with them as I continued to force my air into this young victim's lungs. Finally, after what seemed several minutes, he coughed violently, shooting a stream of vomit right into my mouth and up my nose. I gagged, but only briefly stopped to clear my own mouth and nose. He then began to violently vomit several more times, so I turned him over on his side to allow him to clear out his lungs. At least a full cup of water came running out of his mouth as he gasped and sat up. He began getting his color back as he continued to cough and spit. When he was fully alert, he stood up. All of his friends came over to hug him. He was still kind of in a daze, but he was very much alive, no thanks to all of his friends. I was a little annoyed by their lack of action, and I told them so. They looked at me as I told them that I thought they should have been doing something besides just bowing their heads. "We were doing something, we were praying to Jesus to send us someone who knew what he was doing to come and save him," one young man said. "Well, what good did that do?" I arrogantly muttered back to him.

"You came, didn't you? And you knew what to do! Can't you see, you were the answer to our prayers." I stood there silently for several moments trying to collect myself. How could I not see that these teenagers had actually done something? I was there at the right time and the right place, and I knew what I was doing. I left feeling both humbled and blessed at the same time. My only thought was that of a passage I had read in the Bible: "Those whose glory above the heavens is chanted by the mouth of babes and infants."

The Ant & the Contact Lens
Brenda was a young woman who was invited to go rock climbing. Although she was scared to death, she went with her group to a tremendous granite cliff. In spite of her fear, she put on the gear, took hold on the rope and started up the face of that rock. Well, she got to a ledge where she could take a breather. As she was hanging on there, the safety rope snapped against Brenda's eye and knocked out her contact lens. Well, here she is on a rock ledge, with hundreds of feet Below her and hundreds of feet above her. Of course, she looked and looked and looked, hoping it had landed on the ledge, but it just wasn't there. Here she was, far from home, her sight now blurry. She was desperate and began to get upset, so she prayed to the Lord to help her to find it. When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but there was no contact lens to be found. She sat down, despondent, with the rest of the party, waiting for the rest of them to make it up the face of the cliff. She looked out across range after range of mountains, thinking of that Bible verse that says, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth." She thought, "Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me." Finally, they walked down the trail to the bottom. At the bottom there was a new party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, "Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?" Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across the face of the rock, carrying it. Brenda told me that her father is a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a picture of an ant lugging that contact lens with the words, "Lord, I don't know why You want me to carry this thing. I can't eat it, and it's awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me do, I'll carry it for You." I think it would probably do some of us good to occasionally say, "God, I don't know why you want me to carry this load. I can see no good in it and it's awfully heavy. But, if you want Me to carry it, I will." God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

The Dart Board A young lady named Sally, relates an experience she had in a seminary class, given by her teacher, whom we'll call Brother Smith. She says Brother Smith was known for his elaborate object lessons. One particular day, Sally walked into seminary and knew they were in for another fun day.

On the wall was a big target and on a nearby table were many darts. Brother Smith told the students to draw a picture of someone that they disliked or someone who had made them angry, and he would allow them to throw darts at the person's picture. Sally's girlfriend (on her right), drew a picture of a girl who had stolen her boyfriend. Another friend (on her left), drew a picture of his little brother. Sally drew a picture of Brother Smith, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing, even drawing pimples on his face. Sally was pleased at the overall effect she had achieved. The class lined up and began throwing darts, with much laughter and hilarity. Some of the students threw their darts with such force that their targets were ripping apart. Sally looked forward to her turn, and was filled with disappointment when Brother Smith, because of time limits, asked the students to return to their seats. As Sally sat thinking about how angry she was because she didn't have a chance to throw any darts at her target, Brother Smith began removing the target from the wall. Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus ... A complete hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled picture of Jesus; holes and jagged marks covered His face and His eyes were pierced out. Brother Smith said only these words, "In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me." No other words were necessary; the tear-filled eyes of each student focused only on the picture of Christ. The students remained in their seats . . . even after the bell rang . . . then slowly left the classroom, tears streaming down their faces. Enough Said!!! "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'" Matthew 25:40 The Bridge There was once a big turntable bridge, which spanned a large river. During most of the day, the bridge sat with the length running up and down the river parallel with the banks allowing ships to pass freely on both sides of the bridge. But, at certain times of the day, a certain train would come along and the bridge would be turned sideways across the river allowing the train to cross. A switchman sat in a small shack on one side of the river, where he operated the controls to turn the bridge and lock it into place when the train crossed. One evening, when the switchman was waiting for the last train of the day to come, he looked off into the distance, through the dimming twilight, and caught sight of the train's light. He stepped to the controls and waited until the train was at a prescribed distance when he was to turn the bridge. He turned the bridge into position, but to his horror, he found that the locking control didn't work. If the bridge was not locked securely into position, it would wobble back and forth at the ends when the train came to it, causing the train to jump the track and go crashing into the river. This would be a passenger train with many people aboard. He left the shack with the bridge turned across the river, and hurried to the other side of the river, where there was a lever, which he could use to operate the lock manually. He could hear the rumble of the train now, and leaned backwards to apply his weight to it, locking the bridge. Many lives depended upon this man's strength. Then, coming across the bridge from the other direction, he heard a sound that made his blood run cold. "Daddy, where are you?" His fouryear-old son was crossing the bridge to look for him. His first instinct was to cry out to the child, "Run! Run!" But the train was too close. The

tiny feet would never make it across the bridge in time. The man almost left the lever to run and snatch up his son and carry him to safety, but he realized he could not get back to the lever in time. Either the people on the train, or his son, must die. He took just a moment to make his decision. The train sped swiftly and safely on its way, and no one on board was even aware of the tiny, broken body thrown mercilessly into the river by the rushing train. Nor were they aware of the pitiful figure of a sobbing man, still clinging tightly to the locking lever long after the train had passed. They didn't see him walking home more slowly than he had ever walked to tell his wife how he had sacrificed their son. Now, if you can comprehend the emotions, which went through this man's heart, you can begin to understand the feelings of our Heavenly Father, when He sacrificed His Son to bridge the gap between us, and eternal life. Can there be any wonder that he caused the earth to tremble and the skies to darken when His Son died? And how does it feel when we speed along life without giving a thought to what was done for us through Jesus Christ? When was the last time you thanked Him for the sacrifice of His Son? - Author Unknown

A Letter To You From Satan
I saw you yesterday as you began your daily chores. You awoke without kneeling to pray. As a matter of fact, you didn't even bless your meals, or pray before going to bed last night. You are so unthankful, I like that about you. I cannot tell you how glad I am that you have not changed your way of living, fool, you are mine. Remember you and I have been going steady for years, and I still don't love you yet. As a matter of fact, I hate you, because I hate God. I am only using you to get even with God. He kicked me out of heaven, and I'm going to use you as long as possible to pay him back. You see, FOOL, GOD LOVES YOU and HE has great plans in store for you. But you have yield your life to me, and I'm going to make your life a living hell. That way, we'll be together twice. This will really hurt God. Thanks to you, I'm really showing Him who's boss in your life with all of the good times we had. We have been watching dirty movies, cursing people out, stealing, lying, being hypocritical, fornicating, overeating, telling dirty jokes, gossiping, being judgmental, back stabbing people, disrespecting adults, and those in leadership positions, no respect for the Church, bad attitudes. Surely you don't want to give all this up. Come on, Fool, let's burn together forever. I've got some hot plans for us. This is just a letter of appreciation from me to you. I'd like to say "THANKS" for letting me use you for most of your foolish life. You are so gullible, I laugh at you. When you are tempted to sin, you give in HA HA HA, you make me sick. sin is beginning to take it's toll on your life. You look 20 years older, and now, I need new blood. So go ahead and teach some children how to sin. All you have to do is smoke, get drunk or drink while under-aged, cheat, gamble, gossip, fornicate, and live being as selfish as possible. Do all of this in the presence of children and they will do it too. Kids are like that. Well Fool, I have to let you go for now. I'll be back in a couple of seconds to tempt you again. If you were smart, you would run somewhere, confess your sins, and live for God with what little bit of life that you have left. It's not my nature to warn anyone, but to be your age and still sinning, it's becoming a bit ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I still hate you. IT'S JUST THAT YOU'D MAKE A BETTER FOOL FOR CHRIST.

Mountain Story - An interesting short story
"A son and his father were walking on the mountains. Suddenly, his son falls, hurts himself and screams: "AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!" To his surprise, he hears the voice repeating, somewhere in the mountain:

"AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!" Curious, he yells: "Who are you?" He receives the answer: "Who are you?" And then he screams to the mountain: "I admire you!" The voice answers: "I admire you!" Angered at the response, he screams: "Coward!" He receives the answer: "Coward!" He looks to his father and asks: "What's going on?" The father smiles and says: "My son, pay attention." Again the man screams: "You are a champion!" The voice answers: "You are a champion!" The boy is surprised, but does not understand. Then the father explains: "People call this ECHO, but really this is LIFE. It gives you back everything you say or do. Our life is simply a reflection of our actions. If you want more love in the world, create more love in your heart. If you want more competence in your team, improve your competence. This relationship applies to everything, in all aspects of life; Life will give you back everything you have given to it."
YOUR LIFE IS NOT A COINCIDENCE. IT'S A REFLECTION OF YOU!"

NEW THEORY OF MOTIVATION LISTS 16 BASIC DESIRES THAT GUIDE US COLUMBUS, Ohio - Professor Steven Reiss says there's nothing wrong with workaholics, non-curious schoolchildren and timid people. While much of society may believe these people have problems that need to be fixed, Reiss said his research suggests they are probably happy just the way they are. They just have personalities that don't fit in with much of society. Reiss, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Ohio State University, has spent ten years developing and testing a new theory of human motivation. The result of his research is published in the new book Who Am I? The 16 Basic Desires That Motivate Our Action and Define Our Personalities (Tarcher/Putnam, 2000). After conducting studies involving thousands of people, Reiss has found that 16 basic desires guide nearly all meaningful behavior. The desires are 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. power, independence, curiosity, acceptance, order, saving, honor, 9. physical exercise, 10. social contact, 11. family, 12.status, 13.vengeance, 14.romance, 15.eating, 16.tranquility.

8. idealism,

PUPPIES FOR SALE
A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign advertising the pups 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 Felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the Eyes of a little boy. Mister," he said, "I want to buy one of your puppies." "Well," said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, "these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money." The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching 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 enough to take a look?" "Sure," said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle, "Here,Dolly!" he called. Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse. Slowly another little ball appeared; this One noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up.... "I want that one," the little boy said, pointing to the runt. The farmer knelt down at the boy's side and said, "Son, you don't want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would." With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers. In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself To a specially made shoe. Looking back up at the farmer, he said, "You see sir, I don't run too well myself, and he will need Someone who understands." The world is full of people who need someone who understands.

Parable Of The Pencil - Pencil story
The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box. "There are 5 things you need to know," he told the pencil, "Before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be." "One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in Someone's hand." "Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you'll need it to become a better pencil." "Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make." "Four: The most important part of you will always be what's inside." "And Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write." The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart. Now replacing the place of the pencil with you. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best person you can be. One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God's hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess. Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems in life, but you'll need it to become a stronger person. Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make. Four: The most important part of you will always be what's on the inside.

And Five: On every surface you walk through, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to do your duties. Allow this parable on the pencil to encourage you to know that you are a special person and only you can fulfill the purpose to which you were born to accomplish. Never allow yourself to get discouraged and think that your life is insignificant and cannot make a change.

Sand and Stone
A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: "TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE." They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one, who had been slapped, got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After the friend recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: "TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE." The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?" The other friend replied: "When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it." LEARN TO WRITE YOUR HURTS IN THE SAND, AND TO CARVE YOUR BENEFITS IN STONE

THE BRICK
About ten years ago, a young and very successful executive named Josh was traveling down a Chicago neighborhood street. He was going a bit too fast in his sleek, black, 12 cylinder Jaguar XKE, which was only two months old. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no child darted out, but a brick sailed out and - WHUMP! - it smashed Into the Jag's shiny black side door! SCREECH..!!!! Brakes slammed! Gears ground into reverse, and tires madly spun the Jaguar back to the spot from where the brick had been thrown. Josh jumped out of the car, grabbed the kid and pushed him up against a parked car. He shouted at the kid, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?!" Building up a head of steam, he went on. "That's my new Jag, that brick you threw is gonna cost you a lot of money. Why did you throw it?" "Please, mister, please. . . I'm sorry! I didn't know what else to do!" Pleaded the youngster. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop!" Tears were dripping down the boy's chin as he pointed around the parked car. "It's my brother, mister," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up." Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me." Moved beyond words, the young executive tried desperately to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. Straining, he lifted the young man back into the wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checking to see that everything was going to be OK. He then watched the younger brother push him down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long walk back to the sleek, black, shining, 12 cylinder Jaguar XKE -a long and slow walk. Josh never did fix the side door of his Jaguar. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone has

to throw a brick at him to get his attention. . . Some bricks are softer than others. Feel for the bricks of life coming at to you. For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has positive answers.

The Buzzard, The Bat, and the Bumblebee
If you put a buzzard in a pen six or eight feet square and entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of his ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of ten or twelve feet. Without space to run, as is his habit, he will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top. The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash. A Bumblebee if dropped into an open tumbler will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself. In many ways, there are lots of people like the buzzard, the bat and the bee. They are struggling about with all their problems and frustrations, not realizing that the answer is right there above them.

The Gift of Life
On the very first day, God created the cow. He said to the cow, "Today I have created you! As a cow, you must go to the field with the farmer all day long. You will work all day under the sun! I will give you a life span of 50 years." The cow objected, "What? This kind of a tough life you want me to live for 50 years? Let me have 20 years, and the 30 years I'll give back to you." So God agreed. On the second day, God created the dog. God said to the dog, "You are supposed to do is to sit all day by the door of your house. Any people that come in, you will have to bark at them! I'll give a life span of 20 years." The dog objected, "What? All day long to sit by the door? No way! I give you back my other 10 years of life!" So God agreed. On the third day, God created the monkey. He said to the monkey, "Monkeys have to entertain people. You've got to make them laugh and do monkey tricks. I'll give you 20 years life span." The monkey objected. "What? Make them laugh? Do monkey faces and tricks? Ten years will do, and the other 10 years I'll give you back." So God agreed. On the fourth day, God created man and said to him, "Your job is to sleep, eat, and play. You will enjoy very much in your life. All you need to do is to enjoy and do nothing. This kind of life, I'll give you a 20 year life span." The man objected. "What? Such a good life! Eat, play, sleep, do nothing? Enjoy the best and you expect me to live only for 20 years? No way, man!....Why don't we make a deal? Since the cow gave you back 30 years, and the dog gave you back 10 years and the monkey gave you back 10 years, I will take them from you! That makes my life span 70 years, right?" So God agreed. AND THAT'S WHY.... In our first 20 years, we eat, sleep, play, enjoy the best and do nothing much. For the next 30 years, we work all day long, suffer and get to support the family. For the next 10 years, we entertain our grandchildren by making monkey faces and monkey tricks. And for the last 10 years, we stay at home, sit by the front door and bark at people!

THE OBSTACLE IN OUR PATH

In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many others never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one's condition.

That's Not My Job
This is a story told about four people named, Somebody, Everybody, Anybody and Nobody.

There was one important job to be done.

Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about it because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it. Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

The Making Of A Mother
By the time the Lord made mothers, He was into the sixth day working overtime. An Angel appeared and said "Why are you spending so much time on this one?" And the Lord answered and said, "Have you read the spec sheet on her? She has to be completely washable, but not elastic; have 200 movable parts, all replaceable; run on black coffee and leftovers; have a lap that can hold three children at one time and that disappears when she stands up; have a kiss that can cure anything from a scraped knee to a broken heart; and have six pairs of hands." The Angel was astounded at the requirements for this one. "Six pairs of hands! No way!" said the Angel. The Lord replied, "Oh, it's not the hands that are the problem. It's the three pairs of eyes that mothers must have!" "And that's on the standard model?" the Angel asked. The Lord nodded in agreement, "Yep, one pair of eyes are to see through the closed door as she asks her children what they are doing even though she already knows. Another pair in the back of her head are to see what she needs to know even though no one thinks she can. And the third pair are here in the front of her head. They are for looking at an errant child and saying that she understands and loves him or her without even saying a single word." The Angel tried to stop the Lord "This is too much work for one day. Wait until tomorrow to finish." "But I can't!" The Lord protested, "I am so close to finishing this creation that is so close to my own heart. She already heals herself when she is sick AND can feed a family of six on a pound of hamburger and can get a nine year old to stand in the shower." The Angel moved closer and touched the woman, "But you have made her so soft, Lord." "She is soft," the Lord agreed, "but I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish." "Will she be able to think?" asked the Angel.

The Lord replied, "Not only will she be able to think, she will be able to reason, and negotiate." The Angel then noticed something and reached out and touched the woman's cheek. "Oops, it looks like You have a leak with this model. I told You that You were trying to put too much into this one." "That's not a leak." the Lord objected. "That's a tear!" "What's the tear for?" the Angel asked. The Lord said, "The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her disappointment, her pain, her loneliness, her grief, and her pride." The Angel was impressed. "You are a genius, Lord. You thought of everything for this one. You even created the tear!" The Lord looked at the Angel and smiled and said, "I'm afraid you are wrong again. I created the woman, but she created the tear!"

The Rose Within
A certain man planted a rose and watered it faithfully and before it blossomed, he examined it. He saw the bud that would soon blossom, but noticed thorns upon the stem and he thought, "How can any beautiful flower come from a plant burdened with so many sharp thorns? Saddened by this thought, he neglected to water the rose, and just before it was ready to bloom... it died. So it is with many people. Within every soul there is a rose. The God-like qualities planted in us at birth, grow amid the thorns of our faults. Many of us look at ourselves and see only the thorns, the defects. We despair, thinking that nothing good can possibly come from us. We neglect to water the good within us, and eventually it dies. We never realize our potential. Some people do not see the rose within themselves; someone else must show it to them. One of the greatest gifts a person can possess is to be able to reach past the thorns of another, and find the rose within them. This is one of the characteristic of love... to look at a person, know their true faults and accepting that person into your life... all the while recognizing the nobility in their soul. Help others to realize they can overcome their faults. If we show them the "rose" within themselves, they will conquer their thorns. Only then will they blossom many times over.

The Two Pots
A Water Bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes my water to leak out all the way back to your house." The bearer said to the pot, "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 flowers to

decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, we would not have such beauty." Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

Parable of the Pencil
The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box. There are 5 things you need to know, he told the pencil, before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be. One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone's hand. Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you'll need it to become a better pencil. Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make. Four: The most important part of you will always be what's inside. And Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write. The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart. Now change places with the pencil. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best person you can be.

The Praying Hands

Below is a touching story about DURERS Praying Hands that is circulated widely. It tells of DURER doing his creation in appreciation of a brother who went to work in the mines to support Albrecht's education.

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy. After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines. They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works. When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No ...no ...no ...no." Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late." More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office. One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands." The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one - no one - - ever makes it alone!

THE VALUE OF A SMILE
A smile cost nothing, but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it. A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and is nature's best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.

Big Mud Puddles and Sunny Yellow Dandelions
When I look at a patch of dandelions, I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my yard. My kids see flowers for Mom and blowing white fluff you can wish on. When I look at an old drunk and he smiles at me, I see a smelly, dirty person who probably wants money and I look away. My kids see someone smiling at them and they smile back.

When I hear music I love, I know I can't carry a tune and don't have much rhythm so I sit selfconsciously and listen. My kids feel the beat and move to it. They sing out the words. If they don't know them, they make up their own. When I feel wind on my face, I brace myself against it. I feel it messing up my hair and pulling me back when I walk. My kids close their eyes, spread their arms and fly with it, until they fall to the ground laughing. When I pray, I say thee and thou and grant me this, give me that. My kids say, "Hi God! Thanks for my toys and my friends. Please keep the bad dreams away tonight. Sorry, I don't want to go to Heaven yet. I would miss my Mommy and Daddy." When I see a mud puddle I step around it. I see muddy shoes and dirty carpets. My kids sit in it. They see dams to build, rivers to cross, and worms to play with. I wonder if we are given kids to teach or to learn from? Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. I wish you Big Mud Puddles and Sunny Yellow Dandelions!!!

A parable - A Farmer Who Owned An Old Mule
The mule fell into the farmer's well. The farmer heard the mule 'braying' - or - whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery. Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back: he should shake it off and step up! This he did, blow after blow. "Shake it off and step up... shake it off and step up... shake it off and step up!" he repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed the old mule fought "panic" and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up! You're right! It wasn't long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well! What seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him. All because of the manner in which he handled his adversity. Are you a Carrot, an Egg or Coffee Bean?
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life, and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it, and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first pot, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. She then asked her to take the egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to smell and sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she smelled and tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What's the point, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity- boiling waterbut each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water. "Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When trials and adversity knock on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?" Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a passive heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside, am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or, am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you become better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Like the CARROT, the EGG, OR the COFFEE BEAN?

If A Dog Was The Teacher
If a dog was the teacher, you would learn stuff like: - When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. - Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride. - Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy. - When it's in your best interest, practice obedience. - Let others know when they've invaded your territory. - Take naps. Stretch before rising. - Run, romp, and play daily. - Thrive on attention and let people touch you. - Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. - On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass. - On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree. - When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body. - No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout! Run right back and make friends. - Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. - Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough. - Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not. - If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. - When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently

A White Lie Cake!
Alice was to bake a cake for the church ladies' group bake sale, but she forgot to do it until the last minute. She baked an angel food cake and when she took it from the oven, the center had dropped flat. She said, "Oh dear, there's no time to bake another cake." So, she looked around the house for something to build up the center of the cake. Alice found it in the bathroom - a roll of toilet paper. She plunked it in and covered it with icing. The finished product looked beautiful, so she rushed it to the church. Alice then gave her daughter some money and instructions to be at the sale the minute it opened and to buy that cake and bring it home. When the daughter arrived at the sale ... the attractive cake had already been sold. Alice was beside herself.

The next day, Alice was invited to a friend's home where two tables of bridge were to be played that afternoon. After the game a fancy lunch was served, and to top it off, the cake in question was presented for dessert. Alice saw the cake, she started to get out of her chair to rush into the kitchen to tell her hostess all about it, but before she could get to her feet, one of the other ladies said, "What a beautiful cake!" Alice sat back in her chair when she heard the hostess say ... "Thank you; I baked it myself." A gentle reminder that it never pays to tell even a little white lie!!

Two frogs
A group of frogs were traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs saw how deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that they were as good as dead. The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit with all their might. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and gave up. He fell down and died. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said, "Did you not hear us?" The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time. This story teaches two lessons: 1. There is power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day. 2. A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them. Be careful of what you say. Speak life to those who cross your path. The power of words... it is sometimes hard to understand that an encouraging word can go such a long way. Anyone can speak words that tend to rob another of the spirit to continue in difficult times. Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another.

The Window
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain the fluids from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed next to the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed would live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the outside world. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake, the man had said. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by

the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Unexpectedly, an alien thought entered his head: Why should hehave all the pleasure of seeing everything while I never get to see anything? It didn't seem fair. As the thought fermented, the man felt ashamed at first. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window - and that thought now controlled his life. Late one night, as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room, he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running. In less than five minutes, the coughing and choking stopped, along with the sound of breathing. Now, there was only silence--deathly silence. The following morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendant to take it away--no words, no fuss. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. Moral of the story: The pursuit of happiness is a matter of choice...it is a positive attitude we consciously choose to express. It is not a gift that gets delivered to our doorstep each morning, nor does it come through the window. And I am certain that our circumstances are just a small part of what makes us joyful. If we wait for them to get just right, we will never find lasting joy. The pursuit of happiness is an inward journey. Our minds are like programs, awaiting the code that will determine behaviors; like bank vaults awaiting our deposits. If we regularly deposit positive, encouraging, and uplifting thoughts, if we continue to bite our lips just before we begin to grumble and complain, if we shoot down that seemingly harmless negative thought as it germinates, we will find that there is much to rejoice about.

The Wooden Bowl
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and a four-year old grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together nightly at the dinner table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating rather difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass often milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. "We must do something about grandfather," said the son. I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor. So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner at the dinner table. Since grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. Sometimes when the family glanced in grandfather's direction, he had a tear in his eye as he ate alone. Still, the

only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food. The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?" Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and mama to eat your food from when I grow up." The four-yearold smiled and went back to work. The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. 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. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled. Children are remarkably perceptive. Their eyes ever observe, their ears ever listen, and their minds ever process the messages they absorb. If they see us patiently provide a happy home atmosphere for family members, they will imitate that attitude for the rest of their lives. The wise parent realizes that every day that building blocks are being laid for the child's future. Let us all be wise builders and role models. Take care of yourself, ... and those you love, ... today, and everyday!

Touching life story.....
A young man was getting ready to graduate college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer's showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted. As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious, but somewhat disappointed the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible. Angrily, he raised his voice at his father and said, "With all your money you give me a Bible?" and stormed out of the house, leaving the holy book. Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care things. When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search his father's important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. As he read those words, a car key dropped from an envelope taped behind the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer's name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words...PAID IN FULL. How many times do we miss God's blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?

Trees That Wood
Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty." Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull." Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me." After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter" ... and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest. At the second tree a woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship. When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don't need anything special from my tree so I'll take this one", and he cut it down. When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark. The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams. Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time. Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and he stood and said "Peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat. Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined. We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

Unconditional Love - motivating story
A story is told about a soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in Vietnam. He called his parents from San Francisco. "Mom and Dad, I'm coming home, but I've a favor to ask. I have a friend I'd like to bring home with me." "Sure," they replied, "we'd love to meet him." "There's something you should know the son continued, "he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mind and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us." "I'm sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live." "No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us." "Son," said the father, "you don't know what you're asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can't let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He'll find a way to live on his own." At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide. The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn't know, their son had only one arm and one leg. The parents in this story are like many of us. We find it easy to love those who are good-looking or fun to have around, but we don't like people who inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable. We would rather stay away from people who aren't as healthy, beautiful, or smart as we are. Thankfully, there's someone who won't treat us that way. Someone who loves us with an unconditional love that welcomes us into the forever family, regardless of how messed up we are. Tonight, before you tuck yourself in for the night, say a little prayer that God will give you the strength you need to accept people as they are, and to help us all be more understanding of those who are different from us!!! There's a miracle called Friendship That dwells in the heart You don't know how it happens Or when it gets started But you know the special lift It always brings And you realize that Friendship Is God's most precious gift! Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us.

Value
A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?" Hands started going up.

He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this." He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air. "Well," he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty. "Now who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air. "My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. You are special Don't ever forget it!

Wait For The Brick A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door! He slammed on the brakes and drove the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car, shouting, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?" The young boy was apologetic. "Please mister ... please, I'm sorry... I didn't know what else to do," he pleaded. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop..." With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. "It's my brother," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up." Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me." Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out his fancy handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. "Thank you and may God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the little boy push his wheelchairbound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention! God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It's our choice: Listen to the whisper ... or wait for the brick!

THE WINNER AND THE LOSER
The Winner - is always part of the answer The Loser - is always part of the problem The Winner - always has a program The Loser - always has an excuse The Winner - says "Let me do it for you" The Loser says "That's not my job" The Winner - sees an answer for every problem The Loser - sees a problem for every answer The Winner - sees a green near every sand trap The Loser - sees two or three sand traps near every green The Winner - says "It may be difficult but it's possible" The Loser - says "It may be possible but it's too difficult"

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