Inspirational Stories:
When looking to enhance the atmosphere of your relationships, family, church, or a classroom, etc., simply reading stories like the following can make a major difference.   To easily and quickly improve your finances, re-direct your taxes, while also greatly benefiting the environment, and the economy and country (at no cost to you), check this - most beneficial program that ever was.   Please contact us (below) about concerns, questions or counseling help (free) about anything.


Arguing with children can be risky.

In a grade school lesson, a teacher was explaining a little bit about whales.

A little girl in class piped up and said: “I just learned that Jonah in the bible was swallowed by a whale.”

The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was relatively small.

The girl said: "I am sure Jonah was swallowed by a whale."

The teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; that it was physically impossible.

The little girl replied: "My Sunday school teacher told me Jonah was swallowed and she would not lie to me.”

A bit perturbed by this, the teacher proclaimed: "That is a “story” from the bible, it is not factual, and I will not argue with you."

After a little thought, the girl responded: "Well, when I get to heaven, I will ask Jonah".

Now challenged, the teacher spouted: "What if Jonah didn’t go to heaven?"

Not at all daunted, the girl quipped, " . . . . . ok then you ask him."

- - “Out of the mouth of babes . . . “


Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American
Woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway
Trying to endure a lashing rain storm.   Her car had
Broken down and she desperately needed a ride.
Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.
A young white man stopped to help her, generally
Unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960's.   The man
Took her to safety, helped her get assistance and
Put her into a taxicab.
She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his
Address and thanked him.   Seven days went by and a
Knock came on the man's door.   To his surprise, a
Giant console color TV was delivered to his home.  
A Special note was attached.
It read:
"Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway
The other night. The rain drenched not only my
Clothes, but also my spirits.   Then you came along . . .
Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying
Husband's' bedside just before he passed away . . .   God Bless you
for helping me and unselfishly serving others."
Sincerely,
Mrs. Nat King Cole.



Two Nickels and Five Pennies . .

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less,
A 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and
Sat at a table.   A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.
"How much is an ice cream sundae?"   he asked.
"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.
The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and
Studied the coins in it.
"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.
By now more people were waiting for a table and the
Waitress was growing impatient . .
"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied.
The little boy again counted his coins.
"I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.
The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on
The table and walked away The boy finished the ice
Cream, paid the cashier and left . .   When the waitress
Came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table.
There, placed neatly beside the empty dish,
Were two nickels and five pennies . .
You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had
To have enough left to leave her a tip.



Obstacles 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 stone out of the way.
Then a peasant came along carrying a load of
Vegetables.   Upon 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. After 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 of us never understand!
Every obstacle presents an opportunity (to grow, or gain).



Giving ALL

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a
hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who
was suffering from a rare & serious disease.   Her only
chance of recovery appeared to be a blood
transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had
miraculously survived the same disease and had
developed the antibodies needed to combat the
illness.   The doctor explained the situation to her
little brother, and asked the little boy if he would
be willing to give his blood to his sister.
I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a
deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save
her."   As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed
next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing
the color returning to her cheek.   Then his face
grew pale and his smile faded.
He looked up at the doctor and asked with a
trembling voice, "Will I die right away, or how soon?"
The boy had misunderstood the doctor;
he thought he would have to give his sister
all of his blood in order to save her.



The Cleaning Lady.

During my second month of college, our professor
Gave us a pop quiz.   I was a conscientious student
And had breezed through the questions until I read
The last one:
"What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"
Surely this was some kind of joke.   I had seen the
Cleaning woman several times.   She was tall,
Dark-haired and in her 50's, but how would I know her name?
I handed in my paper, leaving the last question
blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if
the last question would count toward our quiz grade.
"Absolutely, " said the professor . .   "In your careers,
You will meet many people.   All are significant . .   They
Deserve your attention and care, even if all you do
Is smile and say "hello . . . "
I've never forgotten that lesson . . I also learned that her
Name was Dorothy.




One Real, Amazing, Hero (Tango-Mike-Mike)
(video, 6 minutes)
Motivation to:   Stand up, be counted, contribute, make a difference, take responsibility, shirk petty selfish concerns, let the past go, and look forward - considering: What will you leave behind?


Last Wish of a Fireman
12/3/2004


Those Phoenix people are OK!!! Read on.....Stop telling God how big your storm is. Instead tell your storm how big your GOD is!

In Phoenix, Arizona, a 26-year-old mother stared down at her 6 year old son, who was dying of terminal leukemia. Although her heart was filled with sadness, she also had a strong feeling of determination. Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up and fulfill all his dreams. Now that was no longer possible.. The leukemia would see to that. But she still wanted her son's dreams to come true.

She took her son's hand and asked, "Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be once you grew up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?" "Mommy, I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up." Mom smiled back and said, "Let's see if we can make your wish come true."

Later that day she went to her local fire department in Phoenix, Arizona, where she met Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Phoenix.

She explained her son's final wish and asked if it might be possible to give her six-year-old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.

Fireman Bob said, "we can do better than that. If you'll have your son ready at seven o'clock Wednesday morning, we'll make him an honorary fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards! And if you'll give us his sizes, we'll get a real fire uniform for him, with a real fire hat - not a toy one, a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots. They're all manufactured right here in Phoenix, so we can get them fast."

Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his fire uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck. Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station. He was in heaven. There were three fire calls in Phoenix that day and Billy got to go out on all three calls. He rode in the different fire engines, the paramedic's van, and even the fire chief's car. He was also videotaped for the local news program. Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him, so deeply touched Billy that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible. One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept that no one should die alone, began to call the family members to the hospital. Then she remembered the day Billy had spent as a fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition.

The chief replied, "We cando better than that. We'll be there in five minutes. Will you please do me a favor? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system that there is not a fire? It's just the fire department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will you open the window to his room?"

About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Billy's third floor open window. Sixteen firefighters climbed up the ladder into Billy's room. With his mother's permission, they hugged him and held him and told him how much they loved him. With his dying breath, Billy looked up at the fire chief and said, "Chief, am I really a fireman now?"

"Billy, you are, and the Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand," the chief said.

With those words, Billy smiled and said, "I know, He's been holding my hand all day, and the angels have been singing . . "

He closed his eyes one last time.

WRONG FUNERAL
6/7/2004


Consumed by my loss, I didn't notice the hardness of the pew where I sat. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend -- my mother. She finally had lost her long battle with cancer. The hurt was so intense, I found it hard to breathe at times. Always supportive, Mother clapped loudest at my school plays, held a box of tissues while listening to my first heartbreak, comforted me at my father's death, encouraged me in college, and prayed for me my entire life. When mother's illness was diagnosed, my sister had a new baby and my brother had recently married his childhood sweetheart, so it fell on me, the 27-year-old middle child without entanglements, to take care of her.

I counted it an honor. "What now, Lord?" I asked sitting in church. My life stretched out before me as an empty abyss. My brother sat stoically with his face toward the cross while clutching his wife's hand. My sister sat slumped against her husband's shoulder, his arms around her as she cradled their child. All so deeply grieving, no one noticed I sat alone. My place had been with our mother, preparing her meals, helping her walk, taking her to the doctor, seeing to her medication, reading the Bible together.

Now she was with the Lord. My work was finished, and I was alone. I heard a door open and slam shut at the back of the church. Quick footsteps hurried along the carpeted floor. An exasperated young man looked around briefly and then sat next to me. He folded his hands and placed them on his lap. His eyes were brimming with tears. He began to sniffle. "I'm late," he explained, though no explanation was necessary.

After several eulogies, he leaned over and commented, "Why do they keep calling Mary by the name of 'Margaret?'" "Because that was her name, Margaret. Never Mary. No one called her 'Mary,'" I whispered. I wondered why this person couldn't have sat on the other side of the church.

He interrupted my grieving with his tears and fidgeting. Who was this stranger anyway? "No, that isn't correct," he insisted, as several people glanced over at us whispering, "Her name is Mary, Mary Peters." "That isn't who this is." "Isn't this the Lutheran church?" "No, the Lutheran church is across the street." "Oh." "I believe you're at the wrong funeral, Sir."

The solemnness of the occasion mixed with the realization of the man's mistake bubbled up inside me and came out as laughter. I cupped my hands over my face, hoping it would be interpreted as sobs. The creaking pew gave me away. Sharp looks from other mourners only made the situation seem more hilarious. I peeked at the bewildered, misguided man seated beside me.

He was laughing, too, as he glanced around, deciding it was too late for an uneventful exit. I imagined Mother laughing. At the final "Amen," we darted out a door and into the parking lot. "I do believe we'll be the talk of the town," he smiled. He said his name was Rick and since he had missed his aunt's funeral, asked me out for a cup of coffee. That afternoon began a lifelong journey for me with this man who attended the wrong funeral, but was in the right place.

A year after our meeting, we were married at a country church where he was the assistant pastor. This time we both arrived at the same church, right on time. In my time of sorrow, God gave me laughter. In place of loneliness, God gave me love. This past June we celebrated our twenty-second wedding anniversary. Whenever anyone asks us how we met, Rick tells them, "Her mother and my Aunt Mary introduced us, and it's truly a match made in heaven."

(Whe it is time, needed & right, the Lord provides.)

The Bridge Keeper
(or – “Understanding Easter and the Atonement” -- also, a good Christmas story)
12/21/2003


There was once a bridge which spanned a large river.   During most of the day the bridge sat with its length running up and down the river parallel with the banks, allowing ships to pass thru freely on both sides of the bridge.   But at certain times each day, a 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 for the trains to cross.   One evening the switchman was waiting for the last train of the day to come, when thru the dimming twilight he caught sight of the train lights.

He stepped to the controls and when the train was within a prescribed distance, he turned the bridge into position.   Although to his astonishment, he found the locking control was not working.   If the bridge was not locked in position it would wobble back and forth at the ends and cause the train to jump the track and go crashing into the river.   And this would be a passenger train with many people aboard.

He left the bridge turned across the river, and hurried across the bridge to the other side of the river where there was a control lever which he could operate manually to lock the bridge in place.   He would have to hold the lever back firmly as the train crossed.

He could hear the rumble of the train, and he took hold of the lever and leaned backward to apply his weight to it, locking the bridge. He kept applying the pressure to keep the mechanism locked.   Many lives depended on this man's strength.   Then, from the direction of his control shack across the bridge, he heard a sound that made his blood run cold. "Daddy, where are you?"   His four-year-old son was crossing the bridge to look for him.

His first impulse was to cry out to the child,   " Run! Run!"   But the train was too close; the tiny legs would never make it across the bridge in time.   In the same instant, he almost left the lever to run and snatch up his son and carry him to safety.   But he realized that he could not get back to the lever in time for the train to pass safely.   Either the people on the train or his little son would have to die.   It took a moment to make his decision.

The train sped safely and swiftly on its way.   No one on board was even aware of the tiny broken body thrown mercilessly into the river by the onrushing train.   Nor were they aware of the pitiful figure of the sobbing man, still clinging tightly to the locking lever long after the train had passed.   Neither did they see him walking home more slowly than he had ever walked before, to tell his wife how they had lost their son.

As we comprehend what this experience must have meant to this man and how it affected him, we begin to realize what our Father in Heaven must have had to endure when He sacrificed His Son (the most innocent man ever) - 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 was crucified?   And how it must affect Him when we speed along thru life with little thought or appreciation for their sacrifice.

May all your Prayers be answered.
(May 27, 2003):

A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert like island.

The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God.

However, to determine whose prayers should be most effective, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first thing they prayed for was food.

The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man's parcel of land remained barren.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island and boarded the ship with his wife.

Since none of the other man’s prayers had been answered, he considered him unworthy to receive God's blessings, so he decided to leave the second man on the island.

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, "Why are you leaving your companion on the island?"

"My blessings are a result of my faith and prayers, since I was the one who prayed for them," the first man answered. "His prayers were all unanswered and so I figured he does not deserve anything."

"You are sorely mistaken, and are in great debt to him.”

“How’s that?” the first man asked.

”It was his great faith that invoked the blessings, and he prayed that all your prayers might be answered."

Are our blessings the fruits of our prayers and work alone, or of those of another praying for us? What (and who) are you praying for?

With obedience come blessings. May all your righteous prayers be answered.

Is Your Hut Burning?
(May 16, 2003):

The only survivor of a shipwreck was 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 in which 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 stunned 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.

The weary man asked his rescuers:   "How did you know I was here?"

They replied:   "We saw your smoke signal."

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, the next time your little hut is burning to the ground -- it just may be the smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

What is An American?
(Feb 2003):

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week (February 2, 2003), but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American - any American. So, an Australian dentist wrote the following to let everyone know what an American is, so they would know when they found one.

Characteristics of an American:

An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may, also, be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan. An American may, also, be a Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

An American is Christian, or he or she could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses. An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, nor to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American is from the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God given right of each man and woman to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need. When Afghanistan was overrun by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country. As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan.

Americans welcome the best ~ the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best athletes. But they also welcome the least. One national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes “your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed.” These in fact are the people who built America. Some of them were working in The Twin Towers the morning of September 11, earning a better life for their families.

I’ve been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 other countries and cultures with first languages other than English including those countries of the 9/11 terrorists.

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler tried. So did General Tojo, Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world. But, doing so would be futile because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

One of the most special Christmas Stories ever:

In September 1960 I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.   Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two.   Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared.   Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds.   He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries.   Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.

If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.   I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress.   I loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.   The seven of us went to every factory, store, and restaurant in our small town. No luck.   The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whoever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything.   I had to have a job.   Still no luck.

The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop.   It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift; 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.   I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people.   I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep.   This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job.   And so I started at the Big Wheel.   When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money -- fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage.   The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak.   I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.   One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat.   New tires.   There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires.   Had angels taken up residence in Indiana?   I wondered.

I made a deal with the owner of the local service station.   In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office.   I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.   I was now working six nights instead of five, and it still wasn't enough.

Christmas was coming, and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants, and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up. When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.)

It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car -- or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what.

When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door, scrambled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes: There was candy, nuts, bananas, and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items, and there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll. As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December . . . . and they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

History of "TAPS"
(April 2003):

We in the United States have all heard the haunting song, "Taps." It's the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes. But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings.

Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harris's Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army. The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate.. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform. This wish was granted. The haunting melody, we now know as "Taps" ... used at military funerals was born.

The words are:

Day is done . . . Gone the sun . . . From the lakes . . . From the hills . . . From the sky . . . All is well . . . Safely rest . . . God is nigh . . . Fading light . . . Dims the sight . . . And a star . . . Gems the sky . . . Gleaming bright . . . From afar . . . Drawing nigh . . . Falls the night . . . Thanks and praise . . . For our days . . . Neath the sun . . . Neath the stars . . . Neath the sky . . . As we go . . . This we know . . . God is nigh . . .

Christmas Reunion
True Story - submitted by Pastor Rob Reid


The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc., and on DEC 8 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On DEC 19 a terrible tempest -- a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted or two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.

She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?"

The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were.

These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike?

He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between. The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

The 4 Wives

Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.

He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.

He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times.

The King's 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her!

One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, "I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I'll be all alone." Thus, he asked the 4th wife, "I have loved you the 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. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.

The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, "I have loved you all my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No!", replied the 3rd wife. "Life is too good! When you die, I'm going to remarry!" His heart sank and turned cold.

He then asked the 2nd wife, "I have always turned to you for help and you've always been there for me. 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." Her answer came like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.

Then a voice called out: "I'll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go." The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was so skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said, "I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!"

In truth, we all have 4 wives in our lives: Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die.

Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.

Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.

And our 1st wife is our Soul. Often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. So cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us who will follow us to the throne of God and continue with us throughout Eternity. When the world pushes you to your knees.....You're in the perfect position to pray. Think about this... Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days. But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than to our own family, an unwise investment indeed, don't you think? And we often treat strangers and co-workers better than members of our family.

Do you know what the word FAMILY means? FAMILY = (F)ATHER (A)ND (M)OTHER, (I), (L)OVE, (Y)OU

SCARS

Some years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His mother, in the house was looking out the window, saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his mother. It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. >From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator. Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his mother's fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved. The newspaper reporter, who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, "But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my mom wouldn't let go." You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. No, not from an alligator, or anything quite so dramatic, but, the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret. But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, He's been there holding on to you. The Scripture teaches that God loves you. If you have Christ in your life, you have become a child of God. He wants to protect you and provide for you in every way. But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril - and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That's when the tug-of-war begins, and if you have the scars of His love on your arms be very, very grateful. He did not - and will not - let you go.

Pancakes for Breakfast

Six year old Brandon decided one Saturday morning to fix his parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor. He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten. Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was getting very bad. He didn't know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove (and he didn't know how the stove worked)! Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor. Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky. And just then he saw Dad standing at the door. Big crocodile tears welled up in Brandon's eyes. All he'd wanted to do was something good, but he'd made a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him. Then, walking through the mess, he picked up His crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process. That's how God deals with us. We try to do something good in life, but it turns into a mess. Our marriage gets all sticky or we insult a friend or we can't stand our job or our health goes sour. Sometimes we just stand there in tears because we can't think of anything else to do. That's when God picks us up and loves us and forgives us, even though some of our mess gets all over Him. But just because we might mess up, we can't stop trying to "make pancakes," for God or for others. Sooner or later we'll get it right, and then they'll be glad we tried.... Please pass some of this love on to others. . . . . . . . . . . . Suppose one morning you never wake up, do all your friends know you love them? (6)

Attitude - You Choose

Michael 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 natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Michael 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 Michael and asked him, Ï don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" Michael replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. 1. You can choose to be in a good mood or.... 2. 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," Michael 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 affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life." I reflected on what Michael said. Soon hereafter, I left the Tower 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 Michael was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Michael was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back. I saw Michael 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 I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon to be born daughter," Michael replied, "Then, as I lay on the ground, 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. Michael 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 Michael." 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, "Gravity." Over their laughter, I told them, Ï am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead." Michael 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. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34) After all, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

"The Storm" (Sacrifice)

After a few of the usual Sunday hymns, the church's pastor slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit and, before he gave his sermon that evening, he briefly introduced a guest minister who was in the service that evening. In the introduction, the pastor told the congregation that the guest minister was one of his dearest childhood friends and that he wanted him to have a few moments to greet the church and share whatever he felt would be appropriate for the service. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak. "A father and son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific coast," he began, "when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized." The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story. The aged minister continued with his story. "Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life - to which boy he would throw the other end of the life line. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian and he also knew that his son's friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves. As the father yelled out, "I love you, son!" he threw the life line to his son's friend. By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered. By this time, the teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old minister's mouth. "The father, he continued, knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus and he could not bear the thought of his son's friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save the son's friend. How great is the love of God that he should do the same for us. Our Heavenly Father sacrificed His only begotten Son that we could be saved. I urge you to accept His offer to rescue you and take a hold of the life line He is throwing out to you." With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. The pastor again walked slowly to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon with an invitation at the end. However, no one responded to the appeal. Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man's side. "That was a nice story," politely stated one of the boys, "but I don't think it was a very realistic for a father to give up his only son's life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian." "Well, you've got a point there," the old man replied, glancing down at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face. He once again looked up at the boys and said, "It sure isn't very realistic, is it? But I'm standing here today to tell you that story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me. You see, I was that father and your pastor is my son's friend."

Obedience Respected

More than a century ago the nobility of England, in their colorful finery, were on a fox hunt. The came to an area with a closed gate where a ragged youngster sat nearby.

"Open the gate, Lad" said the leader of the hunt.

"No, this property belongs to my father, and he desires it left shut," answered the boy.

"Open the gate, lad. Do you know who I am?"

"No, sir."

"I am the Duke of Wellington."

"The Duke of Wellington, this nations hero, would not ask me to disobey my father."

The riders of the hunt silently rode on.

A Poor Rich Family
By Eddie Ogan

I'll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.

By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially. When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decide to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn't listen to the radio we'd save money on that month's electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three potholders to sell for $1. We made $20 on potholders.

That month was one of the best of our lives. Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we'd sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so we figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before. That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn't care that we wouldn't have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church!

On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn't own an umbrella, and the church was a mile from our home, but it did not matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart and her feet got wet. But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes and I felt rich.

When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us kids put in $20. As we walked home after church we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs and we had boiled Ester eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn't say a word. She opened the envelope. We asked what it was, but she didn't say a word. She opened the envelope, and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills. Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn't talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn't have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night. We had two knifes that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn't have a lot of things that other people had, but I'd never thought we were poor. I didn't like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed - - I didn't even want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor! I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much.

Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn't know. We'd never known we were poor. We didn't want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn't talk on the way. Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse. At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, "Can't we all sacrifice to help these poor people?" We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week. Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering. When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn't expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, "You must have some rich people in this church." Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that "little over $100." We were the rich family in the church! Hadn't the missionary said so? From that day on I've never been poor again.

An Olympic Event
"A little kindness goes a long way at Olympics:"
-- The Daily Herald on Saturday, February 16, 2002.

PROVO -- The Olympic ideal played out in real life here over the past week as a small group of Utahns embraced the struggling women's hockey team from Kazakhstan.

When the team showed up in grubby gear for a practice at The Peaks Ice Arena on Feb. 8, Orem's Shannon Arnoldsen and other volunteers couldn't help but notice.
"Sweden gets off the bus with matching berets and Versace outfits," said Matthew Hemmert, a volunteer who supervises team transportation. "Then Kazakhstan gets off in hospital scrubs or sweat pants with holes in them."

The bus driver told Arnoldsen a sobering tale. He had taken the team shopping for souvenirs at a local mall, but the players had returned to the bus after 10 minutes.

"Too expensive," the players told the driver.

He next took them to Wal-Mart. A few players made purchases, but most said the same thing: "Still too expensive."

Finally, the bus arrived at a dollar store. "Not exactly where you want Olympians to pick up Olympic souvenirs," Hemmert said.

The story gnawed at Arnoldsen, who took three years of Russian at BYU and felt a kinship with the women from this impoverished former Soviet Republic. She went shopping that night in search of souvenirs for the team. She thought about Olympic pins, but wanted the gift to be from Provo. It didn't go well at first.

"We just couldn't afford anything because there's 25 players and coaches," she said.

At the Olympic Spirit store, fittingly, she backed into one of her neighbors in northeast Orem, and told him the story.

Arnoldsen turned the project over to another neighbor, Susan Randall, and returned to work at The Peaks. Before she knew it, Roger Utley and Gordon Brown at the bookstore agreed not to a discount, but to a donation of 25 hooded BYU sweatshirts worth $750. Friends raised $400. The man with the $100 bill arranged for a gift of 25 button-down dress shirts from the Utah Homebuilders Association.

There was more: Randall's daughter created Valentine's Day cards for each team member. A Provo official provided the city's Olympic pins and colorful magazines with beautiful pictures of the area. Children wrote letters of friendship.

Arnoldsen found the players' names on the Internet and personalized the Valentine's cards, then placed $20 in each.

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan had lost 7-0 to Canada on Monday. While they lost another 7-0 game Wednesday at The Peaks, Arnoldsen and Hemmert laid out the gifts on each seat of the team bus. Arnoldsen happened upon a young man who had served a two-year LDS church mission in Russia and he agreed to translate her letter to the team:

"We were impressed and inspired by the obstacles you overcame to come to the Olympics," Arnoldsen wrote. "We wanted you to have something to remember your time here."
It was signed, "From your American friends."

The first player onto the bus was goalie Natalya Trunova. Her face was blotchy from crying over the team's second lopsided loss. She found Arnoldsen's letter and read it, then began to sob and shake. She went back into the building to bring out her teammates, who were overwhelmed.

"We were very grateful to get the gifts," Trunova said through a translator Friday after making 48 saves in a 4-1 loss to Russia. "We've been grateful for the cheering of the crowds. It made our day to get those gifts, to know there were people happy to see us and have us here."

The team's coach, Alexandr Maltsev, confirmed that the women's program, making its first Olympic appearance, has a limited budget and no corporate sponsors. Trunova, who managed to bring just $30 to the Olympics, mentioned that the team's Olympic uniforms had barely arrived in time.

Arnoldsen's concern for 25 people from the other side of the world struck a chord of international goodwill, said Natalya Yakovchuk, who scored Kazakhstan's only Olympic goal on Friday. "I'm glad to have this opportunity to thank the citizens of America for the exceedingly warm reception, excellent hospitality, the way they treat our team, which is especially wonderful because we're not known as the best team," Yakovchuk said. "Thank you on behalf of our entire team." Said Maltsev, "I'm honored the team touched the heart of the people here."

Randall, like Arnoldsen, was uncomfortable with the idea that a reporter knew about the good deed. "We wanted to extend our friendship because we thought they were young and poor and beat up and needed friends," Randall said. "We have a lot here, so it's kind of nice to share. And we're grateful BYU came through."

Hemmert is grateful to have worked as a volunteer with Arnoldsen. "This is what the Olympics are all about," he said. "Shannon is just incredible. She deserves a gold medal."

WEAKNESS or STRENGTH?

Sometimes your biggest weakness can become your biggest strength. Take, for example, the story of one 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident. The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn't understand why, after three months of training the master had taught him only one move. "Sensei," the boy finally asked, "Shouldn't I be learning more moves?" "This is the only move I know, but this is the only move you'll ever need to know," the sensei replied. Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training. Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals. This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened. "No," the sensei insisted, "Let him continue." Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion. On the way home, the boy and sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind. "Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?" "You won for two reasons," the sensei answered. "First, you've almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm." The boy's biggest weakness had become his biggest strength. Shalom u'vracha!

A Sign ???
( -- though, only the "exercise" of faith is what matters.)

Supposedly a true story of something that happened just a few years ago (1998) at USC.

There was a professor of philosophy there who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn't exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever really gone against him because of his reputation. At the end of every semester on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, "If there is anyone here who still believes in Jesus, stand up!"

In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say, "Because anyone who believes in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that He is God, and yet He can't do " it." And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. All of the students would do nothing but stop and stare. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had been too afraid to stand up.

Well, a few years ago there was a freshman who happened to enroll. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about his professor. He was required to take the class for his major, and he was afraid. But for three months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said, or what the class thought. Nothing they said could ever shatter his faith...he hoped.

Finally, the day came. The professor said, "If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!" The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom. The professor shouted, "You FOOL!!! If God existed, he would keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!"

He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleat of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away unbroken. The professor's jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man, and then ran out of the lecture hall.

The young man who had stood, proceeded to walk to the front of the room and shared his faith in Jesus for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of God's love for them and of His power through Jesus.

"The Story Of Charlie Coulson" (Valiancy)
A true account about "Charlie Coulson - The Christian Drummer Boy" taken from an old, out of print book called "Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayers."

I was a surgeon in the United States Army during the Civil War. After the battle of Gettysburg, there were hundreds of wounded soldiers in my hospital. Many were wounded so severely that a leg or an arm, or sometimes both, needed to be amputated. One of these was a boy who had been in the service for only three months. Since he was too young to be a soldier, he had enlisted as a drummer. When my assistants came to give him Chloroform before the amputation, he turned his head and refused it. When they told him that it was the doctor's orders, he said, "Send the doctor to me." I came to his bedside and said, "Young man, why do you refuse the chloroform? When I picked you up on the battlefield, you were so far gone that I almost didn't bother to pick you up. But when you opened those large blue eyes, it occurred to me that you had a mother somewhere who might be thinking of you that very moment. I didn't want you to die on the field, so I had you brought here. But you've lost so much blood that you're just too weak to live through an operation without chloroform. You'd better let me give you some." He laid his hand on mine, looked at me in the face and said, "Doctor, one Sunday afternoon, when I was nine and a half years old, I gave my life to Christ. I learned to trust Him then. I know I can trust Him now. He is my strength. He will support me while you amputate my arm and leg." I asked him if he would at least let me give him a little brandy. Again he looked at me and said, "Doctor, when I was about 5-years-old, my mother knelt by my side with her arms around me and said, "Charlie, I am praying to Jesus that you will never take even one drink of alcohol. Your father died a drunkard, and I've asked God to use you to warn people against the dangers of drinking, and to encourage them to love and serve the Lord." I am now 17- years-old, and I have never had anything stronger than tea or coffee. There is a very good chance that I am about to die and go into the presence of my God. Would you send me there with brandy on my breath?" I will never forget the look that boy gave me. At that time I hated Jesus, but I respected that boy's loyalty to His Savior. And when I saw how he loved and trusted Him to the very end, something deeply touched my heart. I did for that boy what I had never done for any other soldier. I asked him if he wanted to see his chaplain. Chaplain R. knew the boy well from having seen him often at the tent prayer meetings. Taking his hand he said, "Charlie, I am sorry to see you like this." "Oh, I am all right, sir," answered Charlie. "The doctor offered me chloroform, but I told him I didn't want any. Then he wanted to give me brandy , which I didn't want either. So now, if my Savior calls me I can go to Him in my right mind." "You must not die, Charlie," said the Chaplain, "but if the Lord does call you home, is there anything I can do for you after you're gone?" "Chaplain, please reach under my pillow and take my little Bible. My mother's address is inside. Please send it to her and write a letter for me. Tell her since I left home I have never let a single day pass, not matter if we were on the march, on the battlefield, or in the hospital, without reading a portion of God's word, and daily praying that He would bless her." "Is there anything else I can do for you, my lad?" asked the Chaplain. "Yes. Please write a letter to the Sunday School teacher of the Sands Church in Brooklyn, New York. Tell him that I've never forgotten his encouragement, good advice, and many prayers for me. They have helped me and comforted me through all the dangers of battle. And now, in my dying hour, I thank the Lord for my dear old teacher, and ask Him to bless and strengthen him. That is all." Then turning to me, he said, "I'm ready, doctor. I promise I won't even groan while you take off my arm and leg, if you don't offer me chloroform." I promised, but I didn't have the courage to take knife in my hand without first going into the next room and taking a little brandy myself. While cutting through the flesh, Charlie Coulson never groaned. But when I took the saw to separate the bone, the lad took the corner of his pillow in his mouth and all I could hear him whisper was, "O Jesus, blessed Jesus! Stand by me now." He kept his promise. He never groaned. I couldn't sleep that night. Whichever way I tossed and turned I saw those soft blue eyes. The words, "Blessed Jesus. Stand by me now" kept ringing in my ears. A little after midnight , I finally left my bed and visited the hospital - something I had never done before unless there was an emergency. I had such a strange and strong desire to see that boy. When I got there, an orderly told me that 16 of the badly wounded soldiers had died. "Was Charlie Coulson one of them?" I asked. "No , sir," he answered. "He's sleeping as sweet as a babe." When I came to his bed, one of the nurses said, "at about 9 o'clock two members of the YMCA came through the hospital to sing a hymn. Chaplain R. was with them. He knelt by Charlie's bed and offered a fervent and soul-stirring prayer. Then, while still on their knees, they sang one of the sweetest of all hymns, 'Jesus, Lover of my Soul.' Charlie sang along with them, too. I couldn't understand how that boy, who was in such horrible pain, could sing." Five days after I performed the operation, Charlie sent for me, and it was from him that I heard my first Gospel sermon. "Doctor," he said, "my time has come. I don't expect to see another sunrise. I want to thank you with all my heart for your kindness to me. I know you are Jewish, and that you do not believe in Jesus, but I want you to stay and see me die trusting my Savior to the last moment of my life." I tried to stay, but I just couldn't. I didn't have the courage to stand by and see a Christian boy die rejoicing in the love of that Jesus who I hated. So I hurriedly left the room. About 20 minutes later, an orderly came and found me sitting in my office with my hands covering my face. He told me that Charlie wanted to see me. "I've just seen him," I answered, "and I can't see him again." "But Doctor, he says he must see you once more before he dies." So I made up my mind to go and see Charlie, say an endearing word and let him die. However, I was determined that nothing he could say would influence me in the least bit, so far as his Jesus was concerned. When I entered the hospital I saw he was sinking fast, so I sat down by his bed. Asking me to take his hand, he said, "Doctor, I love you because you are a Jew. The best friend I've found in the world was a Jew." I asked him who that was, and he answered, "Jesus Christ, and I want to introduce you to Him before I die. Will you promise me, doctor that what I am about to say to you, you will never forget?" I promised, and he said, "Five days ago, while you amputated my arm and leg, I prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ and asked Him to make His love known to you." Those words went deep in my heart. I couldn't understand how, when I was causing him the most intense pain, he could forget about himself and think of nothing but the Savior and my unconverted soul. All I could say to him was, "Well, my dear boy, you'll soon be all right." With these words I left him, and 12 minutes later he fell asleep safe in the arms of his Savior. Hundreds of soldiers died in my hospital during the war, but I only followed one to the grave, and that was Charlie Coulson. I rode 3 miles to see him buried. I had him dressed in a new uniform, and placed in an officer's coffin, with a United States flag over it. That boy's dying words made a deep impression on me. I was rich at that time so far as money was concerned, but I would have given every penny I possessed if I could have felt towards Christ as Charlie did. But that feeling cannot be bought with money. Alas, I soon forgot all about my Christian soldier's little sermon, but I could not forget the boy himself. Looking back, I now know I was under deep conviction of sin at that time. But for nearly 10 years I remained unrepentant, until finally the dear boy's prayer was answered, and I surrendered my life to the love of Jesus. About a year and a half after my conversion, I went to a prayer meeting one evening in Brooklyn. It was one of those meetings where Christians testify about the loving kindness of God. After several had spoken, an elderly lady stood up and said, "Dear friends, this may be the last time I have a chance to publicly share how good the Lord has been to me. My doctor told me yesterday that my right lung is nearly gone and my left lung is failing fast, so at the best I only have a short time to be with you. But what is left of me belongs to Jesus. It's a great joy to know that I shall soon meet my son with Jesus in heaven." "Charlie was not only a soldier for his country, but also a soldier for Christ. He was wounded at the battle of Gettysburg, and was cared for by a Jewish doctor who amputated his arm and leg. He died five days after the operation. The chaplain of the regiment wrote me a letter and sent me my boy's Bible. I was told that in his dying hour my Charlie sent for that Jewish doctor and said to him, "five days ago while you amputated my arm and leg I prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ for you." As I heard this lady speak, I just couldn't sit still! I left my seat, ran across the room and taking her hand I said, "God Bless You, my dear sister. Your boy's prayer has been heard and answered! I am the Jewish doctor that Charlie prayed for, and his Savior is now my Savior! The love of Jesus has won my soul!"

What women really want . . .


Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him, but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So the monarch offered him freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer; if, after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.
The question: What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and, to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.
He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everybody: the princess, the prostitutes, the priests, the wise men, the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Many people advised him to consult the old witch--only she would know the answer. The price would be high; the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged. The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no alternative but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer his question, but he'd have to accept her price first: The old witch wanted to marry Gawain, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend! Young Arthur was horrified: She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises... etc. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature. He refused to force his friend to marry her and have to endure such a burden. Gawain, upon learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur. He told him that nothing was too big a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table. Hence, their wedding was proclaimed, and the witch answered Arthur's question thus: What a woman really wants is to be in charge of her own life. Everyone instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared. And so it was. The neighboring monarch granted Arthur total freedom.
What a wedding Gawain and the witch had! Arthur was torn between relief and anguish. Gawain was proper as always, gentle and courteous. The old witch put her worst manners on display, and generally made everyone very uncomfortable.
The honeymoon hour approached. Gawain, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But what a sight awaited him! The most beautiful woman he'd ever seen lay before him! The astounded Gawain asked what had happened. The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she'd appeared as a witch, she would henceforth be her horrible, deformed self half the time, and the other half, she would be her beautiful maiden self. Which would he want her to be during the day, and which during the night? What a cruel question! Gawain pondered his predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his home, an old witch? Or would he prefer having by day a hideous witch, but by night a beautiful woman with whom to enjoy many intimate moments? What would you do? What Gawain chose follows below, but don't read until you've made your own choice.

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Noble Gawain replied . . . . . that he would let her choose for herself. Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time, because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.
Is there a moral here? . . . . . . . . . Certainly:
Treat your woman (guys) with total respect (and love) and like the queen she is or should be, and watch how beautiful she will be.
Or, (on the other hand):
If your woman doesn't get her own way, . . . . things are going to get ugly! : )

... unto one of the least of these …….

Ruth went to her mailbox and there was only one letter. She picked it up and looked at it before opening it, but then she looked at the envelope again. There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter: Dear Ruth: I'm going to be in your neighborhood Saturday afternoon and I would like to visit. Love Always, Jesus. Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. "Why would the Lord want to visit me? I'm nobody special. I don't have anything to offer. " With that, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets. "Öh, my goodness. I really don't have anything to offer. I'll have to run down to the store and buy something for dinner. " She reached for her purse and counted out its contents. Five dollars and forty cents. "Well, I can get some bread and cold cuts, at least." She threw on her coat and hurried out the door. She bought a loaf of French bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk, leaving a grand total of twelve cents to last her until Monday. Nonetheless, she felt good as she headed home, her meager offerings tucked under her arm. "Hey, lady, can you help us, lady?" Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadn't even noticed two figures huddled in the alleyway. A man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags. "Look lady, I ain't got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living out here on the street, and, well, now it's getting cold and we're getting kinda hungry and, well, if you could help us lady, we'd really appreciate it." Ruth looked at them both. They were dirty, smelled badly and frankly, she was certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to. "Sir, I'd like to help you, but I'm a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and I"m having an important guest for dinner tonight and I was planning on serving that to Him." "Yeah, well, okay lady. I understand. Thanks anyway. " The man put his arm around the woman's shoulders, turned and he headed back into the alley. As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart. "Sir, wait!" The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley after them. "Look, why don't you take this food. Í'll figure out something else to serve my guest." She handed the man her grocery bag. "Thank you, lady. Thank you very much!" "Yes, thank you!" It was the man's wife, and Ruth could see now that she was shivering. "You know, I've got another coat at home. Here, why don't you take this one." Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the woman's shoulders. Then smiling, she turned and walked back to the street....without here coat and with nothing to serve her guest. "Thank you, lady! Thank you very much!" Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too. The Lord was coming to visit and she didn't have anything to offer Him. She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her mailbox. "That's odd. The mailman doesn't usually come twice in one day." She took the envelope out of the box and opened it. Dear Ruth: It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal. And thank you too, for the beautiful coat. Love Always, Jesus The air was still cold, but even without her coat, Ruth no longer noticed.

Love and Mrs. Leonard

I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started to go to school, my classmates - who were constantly teasing - made it clear to me how I must look to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and hollow and somewhat garbled speech. I couldn't even blow up a balloon without holding my nose, and when I bent to drink from a fountain, the water spilled out of my nose. When my schoolmates asked, "What happened to your lip?" I'd tell them that I'd fallen as a baby and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. By the age of seven I was convinced that no one outside my own family could ever love me. Or even like me. And then I entered the second grade, and Mrs. Leonard's class. I never knew what her first name was - just Mrs. Leonard. She was round and pretty and fragrant, with chubby arms and shining brown hair and warm dark eyes that smiled even on rare occasions when her mouth did not. Everyone adored her. But no one came to love her more than I did. And for a special reason. The time came for t;he annual "hearing tests" give at our school. I was barely able to hear anything out of one ear, and was not about to reveal yet another problem that would single me out as different. And so I cheated. I had learned to watch other children and raised my hand when they did during group testing. The "whisper test" however, required a different kind of deception: Each child would go to the door of the classroom, turn sideways, close one ear with a finger, and the teacher would whisper something from her desk, which the child would repeat. Then the same thing was done for the other ear. I had discovered in kindergarten that nobody checked to see how tightly the untested ear was being covered, so I merely pretended to block mine. As usual, I was last, but all through the testing I wondered what Mrs. Leonard might say to me. I knew from previous years that she whispered things like "The sky is blue" or "Do you have new shoes?" My turn came up. I turned my bad ear to her, plugging up the other solidly with my finger, then gently backed my finger out enough to be able to hear. I waited and then the words that God had surely put into her mouth, seven words that changed my life forever. Mrs. Leonard, the pretty , fragrant teacher I adored, said softly, "I wish you were my little girl"



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