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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.
..... ~ author unknown ~


Meeting God

There once was a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer, and he started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry so he offered her a Twinkie. She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Once again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted!

They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word. As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave but before he had gone more than a few steps; he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?"

He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? She's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!"

Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, "Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?"

She replied, "I ate Twinkies in the park with God." But before her son responded, she added, "You know, he's much younger than I expected."

Too often we under-estimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Embrace all equally!
..... ~ author unknown ~



Barefoot and dirty, the little girl just sat in the park and watched people go by. She never tried to speak, she never said a word. Many people passed, but not one person glanced her way, no one stopped, including me. The next day I decided to go back to the park, curious if the little girl would still be there. Right in the very spot she was yesterday, she sat perched on high, with the saddest look in her eyes. But today I could not just walk away, concerned only with my affairs. Instead I found myself walking over to the little girl. For as we all know, a park full of strange people is not a place for young children to play alone.

As I began walking towards her, I could see the back of the little girl's dress indicated a deformity. I figured that was the reason the people just passed by and made no effort to care. As I got closer, the little girl slightly lowered her eyes to avoid my intent stare. I could see the shape of her back more clearly. It was grotesquely shaped in a humped over form. I smiled to let her know it was okay, I was there to help, to talk.

I sat down beside her and opened with a simple "hello." The little girl acted shocked and stammered a "hi" after a long stare into my eyes. I smiled and she shyly smiled back. We talked 'til darkness fell and the park was completely empty. Every one was gone and we were alone. I asked the girl why she was so sad. The little girl looked at me and said, "Because I am different." I immediately said "That you are!" and smiled. The little girl acted even sadder, she said, "I know."

"Little girl," I said, "you remind me of an angel, sweet and innocent." She looked at me and smiled slowly, she stood to her feet and said, "Really?" "Yes, dear, you're like a little guardian angel sent to watch over all those people walking by."

She nodded her head 'yes' and smiled, and with that she spread her wings and said, "I am. I'm your guardian angel," with a twinkle in her eye. I was speechless, sure I was seeing things. She said, "And when you began thinking of someone other than yourself, my job here was done."

Immediately I stood to my feet and said, "Wait, so why did no one else stop to help an angel?" She looked at me and smiled, "You're the only one who could see me," and she was gone. With that my life was changed dramatically. So when you think you're all you have, remember, your angel is always watching over you. Mine was.
..... ~ author unknown ~

"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers;
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
Hebrews 13:2 ..


The Visitor

One day, a man went to visit a church. He arrived early, parked his car, and got out. Another car pulled up near him, and the driver told him, " I always park there. You took my place!"

The visitor went inside for Sunday School, found an empty seat, and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, "That's my seat! You took my place!" The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday School, the visitor went into the church sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, "That's where I always sit. You took my place!" The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still said nothing.

Later, as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood, and his appearance began to change. Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?" The visitor replied, "I took your place."
........ ~ author unknown ~



The Trouble Tree

The carpenter I had hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough, first day on the job. A flat tire had made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start.

While I drove him home, he sat in stoney silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.

When opening the door he underwent an amazing transformation. His tan face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterwards he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again.

"Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."
..... ~ author unknown ~


A Sandpiper to Bring You Joy

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live.  I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.

She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes blue as the sea. "Hello," she said.  I Answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.  "I'm building," she said.  "I see that.  What is it?"  I asked, not caring.  "Oh I don't know, I just like the feel of the sand."  That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. 

A sandpiper glided by.  "That's a joy," the child said.  "It's what?"  "It's a joy.  My mama says sandpipers come to bring us  joy."  The bird went glissading down the beach. "Good-bye joy," I muttered to myself, "hello pain," and turned to walk on.  I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.  

"What's your name?" She wouldn't give up.  "Ruth," I answered. "I'm Ruth Peterson." "Mine's Wendy,... and I'm six." "Hi, Wendy."  She giggled. "You're funny," she said.  In spite of my  gloom I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me.  "Come again, Mrs. P," she called.  "We'll have another happy day."   The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, an ailing mother. 

The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater.  "I need a sandpiper," I said to myself, gathering up my coat.     The never changing balm of the seashore awaited me.  The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed.  I  had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.  "Hello, Mrs. P," she said.  "Do you want to play?" "What did you have in mind?"  I asked, with a twinge of annoyance. "I don't know, You say." 

"How about charades?"  I asked sarcastically.     The tinkling laughter burst forth again.  "I don't know what that is."  "Then let's just walk." Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face.  "Where do you live?"  I asked. "Over there."  She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter. "Where do you go to school?"  "I don't go to school.  Mommy says we're on vacation." She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things.

When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day.  Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.     Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of  near panic. I was in no mood even to greet Wendy.  I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home.  "Look, if you don't mind," I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, "I'd rather be alone today."  She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.  "Why?" she asked. I turned on her and shouted, "Because my mother died!" and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child?   "Oh," she said quietly, "then this is a bad day." "Yes, and yesterday and the day before that and oh, go away!" "Did it hurt?"  "Did what  hurt?"  I was exasperated with her, with myself.  "When she died?"  "Of course it hurt!" I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself.  I strode off.    

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't there.  Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door.   A drawn looking young woman with honey colored hair opened the door. "Hello," I said.  "I'm Ruth Peterson.  I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was."  "Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in."  "Wendy talked of you so much.  I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you.  If she was a nuisance, please accept my apologies."     "Not at all she's a delightful child," I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it.  "Where is she?"  "Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia.  Maybe she didn't tell you." 

Struck dumb, I groped for a chair.  My breath caught.  "She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no.  She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days.  But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly ..." Her voice faltered.  "She left something for you ... if only I can find it.  Could you wait a moment while I look?"  I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything, to say to this lovely young woman. 

She handed me a smeared envelope, with 'MRS. P' printed in bold, childish letters.  Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues a yellow beach, a blue sea, a  brown bird.  Underneath was carefully printed: A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY     Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten how to love opened wide.  I took Wendy's mother in my arms. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," I muttered over and over, and we wept together.

The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words one for each year of her life that speak to me of inner harmony, courage, undemanding love.  A gift from a child with seablue eyes and hair the color of sand who taught me the gift of love.
......... ~ author unknown ~


Smoke Signals

The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stung with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me!" he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember next time your little hut is burning to the ground ~ it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.
.................... ~ author unknown ~



My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. "This," he said, "is not a slip. This is lingerie." It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. "Joan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion."

He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. "Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion." I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death.

I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special. I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life.

I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view
without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.

I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event-such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $98.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends'.

"Someday" and "One of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now. I'm not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing-I'll never know.

It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with-someday. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write-one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughters often enough how much I truly love them.

I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special day. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is.... a gift from God.
..... ~ author unknown ~


Thank the Lord !!

Lord, thank you for this sink of dirty dishes; we had plenty of food to eat.

Thank you for this pile of dirty, stinky laundry; we have plenty of nice clothes to wear.

And I would like to thank you, Lord, for those unmade beds; they were so warm and comfortable last night. I know that many have no bed.

My thanks to you, Lord, for this bathroom, complete with all the splattered mirrors, soggy, grimy towels and dirty lavatory; they are so convenient.

Thank you for this finger-smudged refrigerator that needs cleaned so badly; It has served us faithfully for many years. It is full of cold drinks and enough leftovers for two or three meals.

Thank you, Lord, for this oven that absolutely must be cleaned today. It has baked so many things over the years.

The whole family is grateful for that tall grass that needs mowing, the lawn that needs raking; we all enjoy the yard.

Thank you, Lord, even for that slamming screen door. My kids are healthy and able to run and play.

Lord, the presence of all these chores awaiting me says You have richly blessed my family. I shall do them cheerfully and I shall do them gratefully.
..... ~ author unknown ~


Mrs. Thompson

There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher.  Her name was Mrs. Thompson.  And as she stood in front of her fifth grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. 

But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard. Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath.  And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs.  Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers. 

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last.  However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh.  He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well-liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in School.  He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs.  Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.  Mrs.  Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. 

Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume.  But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was.  She put on the bracelet dabbed some of the perfume on her wrist.  Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs.  Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to. After the children left she cried for at least an hour.

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.  Mrs.  Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive.  The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her pets."

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy.  He then
wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs.  Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came.  This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further.  The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had.  But now his name was a little longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.

The story doesn't end there.  You see, there was yet another letter that spring.  Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.  Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what?  She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing.  And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference." Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong.  You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference.  I didn't know how to teach until I met you."
....... © Klcanan


Quality of Life

The American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.

The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, ..."only a little while."

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, ..."but what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will this all take?" To which the American replied, "15 to 20 years."

"But what then, senor?"

The American laughed and said that's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich; you would make millions!"

"Millions, senor? Then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire... move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos..."
..... ~ author unknown ~

It is regretable when the pursuit of money becomes a consuming passion, taking precedence over personal happiness. Possessions tie you down because you can't come and go as you please ~ you have to take care of them and be sure no one steals them. Inevitably, you become the posession. Measure wealth not by the things you have, but by the things you have for which you would not take money.





Life is changed, not taken away.
To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.




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Page Updated: 10-27-09
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Mom ~ November 27, 1999
©Marilyn Jeffries, Reflection of the Echo, 1974-2009




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