Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Elf's Tale

(It is my understanding that the following was originally published as “An Elf’s Tale” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Cheer by Tyree Dillingham.)

It was six o’clock at the mall, and I was as exhausted as an elf on Christmas Eve. In fact, I was an elf and it was Christmas Eve. That December of my sixteenth year, I’d been working two jobs to help my parents with my school tuition and to make a little extra holiday money. My second job was as an elf for Santa to help with Kids’ photos. Between my two jobs, I’d worked twelve hours straight the day before; on Christmas Eve, things were so busy at Santa land that I hadn’t even had a coffee break all day. But this was it – only minutes more, and I’d have survived!

I looked over at Shelly, our manager, and she gave me an encouraging smile. She was the reason I’d made it through. She’d been thrown in as manager halfway through the season, and she’d made all the difference in the world. My job had changed from stress-filled to challenging. Instead of yelling at her workers to keep us in line, she encouraged us and stood behind us. She made us pull together as a team. Especially when things were their craziest, she always had a smile and an encouraging word. Under her leadership, we’d achieved the highest number of mall photo sales in California.

I knew it was a difficult holiday season for her – she’d recently suffered a miscarriage. I hoped she knew how great she was and what a difference she’d made to all her workers, and to all the little children who’d come to have their pictures taken.

Our booth was open until seven; at six, things started to slow down and I finally took a break. Although I didn’t have much money, I really wanted to buy a little gift for Shelly so that she’d know we appreciated her. I got to a store that sold soap and lotion just as they put the grate down. “Sorry, we’re closed!” barked the clerk, who looked as tired as I was and didn’t sound sorry at all.

I looked around and, to my dismay, found that all the stores had closed. I’d been so tired I hadn’t noticed.

I was really bummed. I had been working all day and had missed buying her a present by one minute.

On my way back to the Santa booth, I saw that Nordstrom was still open. Fearful that they, too, would close at any moment, I hurried inside and followed the signs toward the Gift Gallery. As I rushed through the store, I began to feel very conspicuous. It seemed the other shoppers were all very well-dressed and wealthy – and here I was a broke teenager in an elf costume. How could I even think I’d find something in such a posh store for under fifteen dollars? I self-consciously jingled my way into the Gift Gallery. A woman sales associate, who also looked as if she’d just stepped off a fashion runway, came over and asked if she could help me. As she did, everyone in the department turned and stared.

As quietly as possible, I said, “No, that’s okay. Just help somebody else.”

She looked right at me and smiled. “No,” she said. “I want to help you.”

I told the woman who I was buying for and why, then I sheepishly admitted I only had fifteen dollars to spend. She looked as pleased and thoughtful as if I’d just asked to spend $1500. By now, the department had emptied, but she carefully went around, selecting a few things that would make a nice basket. The total came to $14.09.

The store was closing; as she rang up the purchase, the lights were turned off.

I was thinking that if I could take them home and wrap them, I could make them really pretty but I didn’t have time.

As if reading my mind, the saleslady asked, “Do you need this wrapped?”

“Yes,” I said.

By now the store was closed. Over the intercom, a voice asked if there were still customers in the store. I knew this woman was probably as eager to get home on Christmas Eve as everybody else, and here she was stuck waiting on some kid with a measly purchase.

But she was gone in the back room a long time. When she returned, she brought out the most beautiful basket I’d ever seen. It was all wrapped up in silver and gold, and looked as if I’d spent fifty dollars on it – at least. I couldn’t believe it. I was so happy!

When I thanked her, she said, “You elves are out in the mall spreading joy to so many people, I just wanted to bring a little joy to you.”

“Merry Christmas, Shelly,” I said back at the booth. My manager gasped when she saw the present; she was so touched and happy that she started crying. I hoped it gave a happy start to her Christmas.

All through the holidays, I couldn’t stop thinking about the kindness and effort of the saleswoman, and how much joy she had brought to me, and in turn to my manager. I thought the least I could do was to write a letter to the store and let them know about it. About a week later, I got a reply from the store, thanking me for writing.

I thought that was the end of it, until mid-January.

That’s when I got a call from Stephanie, the sales associate. She wanted to take me to lunch. Me, a fifteen-dollar, sixteen-year-old customer.

When we met, Stephanie gave me a hug, and a present, and told me this story.

She had walked into a recent employee meeting to find herself on the list of nominees to be named the Nordstrom All-Star. She was confused but excited, as she had never before been nominated. At the point in the meeting when the winner was announced, they called Stephanie – She’d won! When she went up front to accept the award, her manager read my letter out loud. Everyone gave her a huge round of applause.

Winning meant that her picture was put up in the store lobby, she got new business cards with Nordstrom All-Star written on them, a 14-karat gold pin, a 100-dollar award, and was invited to represent her department at the regional meeting.

At the regional meeting, they read my letter and everyone gave Stephanie a standing ovation. “This is what we want all of our employees to be like!” said the manager who read the letter. She got to meet three of the Nordstrom brothers, who were each very complimentary.

I was already a little overwhelmed when Stephanie took my hand. “But that’s not the best part, Tyree,” she said. “The day of that first store meeting, I took a list of the nominees, and put your letter behind it, with the 100-dollar bill behind that. I took it home and gave it to my father. He read everything and looked at me and said, “When do you find out who won?”

“I said, ‘I won, Dad.’”

“He looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Stephanie, I’m really proud of you.’”

Quietly, she said, “My dad has never said he was proud of me.”

I think I’ll remember that moment all my life. That was when I realized what a powerful gift appreciation can be. Shelly’s appreciation of her workers had set into motion a chain of events – Stephanie’s beautiful basket, my letter, Nordstrom’s award – that had changed at least three lives.

Though I’d heard it all my life, it was the Christmas when I was an elf – and a broke teenager – that I truly came to understand that the littlest things can make the biggest difference.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas

What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

This week, I was sent the following which I found very interesting:
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. "The Twelve Days of Christmas!" is a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning:
1) the surface meaning, plus
2) a hidden meaning known only to members of their church.
Each element has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit -- i.e., Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Actions and Motives

My friend, the Rev H. Dwight Bolton, sent me an e-mail in May concerning "Hate!" It was a sermonette of sorts by Bishop T.D. Jakes titled "ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVES* * * * SHAKE THEM HATERS OFF!" In it, Bishop Jakes is quoted as saying: A hater is someone that is jealous and envious and spends all their time trying to make you look small so they can look tall. They are very negative people. Nothing is ever good enough! When you make your mark, you will always attract some haters... That's why you have to be careful who you share your blessings and your dreams with because some folk can't handle seeing you blessed...
Bishop Jakes is further quoted to say ... "The problem I have with haters is that they see my glory, but they don't know my story..."
Bishop Jakes' conclusion is quoted as You can handle your haters by:
1. *Knowing who you are & who your true friends are (VERY IMPORTANT!!)
2. *Having a purpose to your life
3. *By remembering what you have is by divine prerogative and not human manipulation.
Purpose does not mean having a job. You can have a job and still be unfulfilled. A purpose is having a clear sense of what God has called you to be. Your purpose is not defined by what others think about you. Fulfill your dreams! You only have one life to live................when its your time to leave this earth, you want to be able to say, I've lived my life and fulfilled my dreams, .........I'm ready to go HOME!

When I was young, my top three priorities in order were: 1) my family, 2) my job, and 3) my duty to God!
Dr. Roy Woods, V.P. for Academic Affairs at Norfolk State University, taught the Sunday School class I attended at Bank Street Baptist Church in Norfolk, VA. He helped me to grow and mature. His teachings, dialog with friends & mentors, and studying the word of God as presented in the Bible have led me to change.

My priorities now, in order, are: 1) God, 2) family, and 3) academic & intellectual development of all mankind--especially youth.

I realize that each tub must sit on its own bottom. Hopefully, I can be a positive influence and help people to orient their tubs so they sit squarely on their individual bottoms; however, the choice is up to the individuals. The people who have influenced my life are too numerous to mention in this small space. So suffice to say, I'm indebted to a number of people and my interactions with them. I have probably lived longer than I'm going to live! As I finish my life on this side of the earth, I will live it according to the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth -- i.e., the BIBLE -- Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves [Philippians 2:3 (NIV)].
My aim and hope is that when my life on earth is over -- and given all of the sins I've committed -- that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost will still be able to say in reference to me "I am well pleased!"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Difference between Heaven and Hell

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.”

The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in.

In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.

The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, “You have seen Hell.”

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The holy man said, 'I don't understand.

“It is simple,” said the Lord. “It requires but one skill.
You see, they have learned to feed each other.
The greedy think only of themselves.”

When Jesus died on the cross, he was thinking of you.

Source: Peggy Harris – Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 8:12 PM

Friday, October 10, 2008

Shay Day

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, a father delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he noted everything nature does is done with perfection. My son, Shay, could not learn things like other children, He could not understand things as other children did. Where is the natural order of things in my son?' The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay (physically and mentally handicapped)comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents it self in the way other people treat that child.' Shay's father then told the following story:

One day when when Shay and I walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball, Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?' Shay's father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

Shay's father approached one of the boys and asked if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and with a broad smile put on a team shirt. His Father watched with a small tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the father's joy at his son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all his team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay , run to first! Run to first!' Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!' Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball ... the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay'

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third! Shay, run to third!'

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!' Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it's least fortunate amongst them.

May your day, be a ShaY Day!

source: Blue Angel [dd1913@hotmail.com] -- Friday, October 10, 2008 12:44 AM

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

"Jack, did you hear me?"

"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.

"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.

"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.

"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said.

"He's the one who taught me carpentry," Jack said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important...Mom, I'll be there for the funeral."

As busy as he was, Jack kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown.

Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time.

The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture....Jack stopped suddenly.

"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.

"The box is gone," he said.

"What box? " Mom asked.

"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value most,'" Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox.

"Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package.

The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention.

"Mr. Harold Belser" it read.

Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope.

Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside.

"Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life." A small key was taped to the letter.

His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover.

Inside he found these words engraved: "Jack, Thanks for your time! Harold Belser."

"The thing he valued most...was...my time."

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days.

"Why?" Janet, his assistant asked.

"I need some time to spend with my son," he said.

"Oh, by the way, Janet...thanks for your time!"

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away."

Have a great day-and thank you for your time...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Doing God's will is a lot like dancing.

When dancing, if two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully.

Dancing takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

GUIDANCE -- "G," (God) followed by "U" -- "I" -- makes for a wonderful DANCE

God, you, and I dance.

God make me willing to let you lead in this dance of life!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chinese Good Luck Tantra Totwm

Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

Marry a person you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

When you say, "I love you," mean it.

When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye.

Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

Believe in love at first sight.

Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.

Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.

In disagreements, fight fairly. Please, no name-calling.

Don't judge people by their relatives.

Talk slowly but think quickly.

When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"

Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

Say, "Bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.

When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

Remember the three R's: 1) Respect for self, 2) Respect for others, and 3) Responsibility for all your actions.

Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

Spend some time alone.

Source: Juanita Harvell -- Wednesday, November 07, 2001 @ 8:27 AM

Monday, August 11, 2008


Carl was a quiet man. He didn't talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.

Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning.

The sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in W.W.II. Watching him, we worried that although he had survived W.W.II, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs and drug activity.

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up. He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened.

He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him. Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, "Would you like a drink from the hose?". The tallest and toughest looking of the three said, 'Yeah, sure," with a malevolent little smile. As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled. Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg.

He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him. Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it. "Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet. Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. "Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise-up someday." His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water.

Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, Carl, what are you doing?" "I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately", came the calm reply. Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose.

This time they didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water. When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done.

Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.

The summer was quickly fading into fall. Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack. "Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna hurt you this time." The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl.

As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl. "What's this?" Carl asked. "It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. Even the! money in your wallet." "I don't understand," Carl said. "Why would you help me now?" The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I learned something from you", he said. "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you. We picked on you because you were old and we knew we could do it.

But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate." He stopped for a moment. "I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back."

He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. "That bag's my way of saying thanks for being straight. Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather. In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church. The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life. In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden."

The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to care for Carl's garden." The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door. Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. "I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said.

The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him."

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. In that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.

One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday."

"Well, congratulations!" said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. "That's! wonderful! What's the baby's name?" "Carl," he replied.

That's the whole gospel message simply stated.

Source: Pamela Porter -- Tuesday, April 01, 2003 7:01 PM

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cab Ride (A feel good story.)

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window.

Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, and then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked.

"Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice.

I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

"It's nothing," I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated."

"Oh, you're such a good boy", she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"

"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly.

"Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long."

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said "I'm tired. Let's go now."

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door.

The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse.

"Nothing," I said.

"You have to make a living," she answered.

"There are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you."

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.

What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift?

What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

source: Valerie Washington -- Fri, 06 Oct 2006 08:56:04

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Checkin In

A minister passing through his church in the middle of the day,
Decided to pause by the altar and see who had come to pray.
Just then the back door opened, a man came down the aisle,
The minister frowned as he saw the man hadn't shaved in awhile.

His shirt was kinda' shabby and his coat was worn and frayed.
The man knelt, he bowed his head, then rose and walked away.
In the days that followed, each noon time came this chap,
Each time he knelt just for a moment, a lunch pail in his lap.

Well, the minister's suspicions grew, with robbery a main fear,
He decided to stop the man and ask him, "Watcha' doin' here?"

The old man, he worked down the road. Lunch was half an hour.
Lunchtime was his prayer time, for finding strength and power.
"I stay only moments, see, 'cause the factory is so far away;
As I kneel here talking' to the Lord, this is kinda' what I say:


The minister feeling foolish, told Jim, that was fine.
He told the man he was welcome to come and pray just anytime.
Time to go, Jim smiled, said "Thanks." He hurried to the door.
The minister knelt at the alter, he'd never done it before.

His cold heart melted, warmed with love, met with Jesus there.
As the tears flowed, in his heart, he repeated old Jim's prayer:


Past noon one day, the minister noticed that old Jim hadn't come.
As more days passed with out Jim, he began to worry some.
At the factory, he asked about him, learning he was ill.
The hospital staff was worried, but he'd given them a thrill.
The week that Jim was with them, brought changes in the ward.
His smiles, a joy contagious. Changed people, his reward.
The head nurse couldn't understand why Jim was so glad,
When no flowers, calls or cards came, not a visitor he had.

The minister stayed by his bed, he voiced the nurse's concern:
No friends came to show they cared. He had nowhere to turn.
Looking surprised, old Jim spoke up and with a winsome smile;
"The nurse is wrong, she couldn't know, that all the while
Everyday at noon He's here, a dear friend of mine, you see,
He sits right down, takes my hand, leans over and says to me:


Source: Demetrius H Marlowe -- Wednesday, September 02, 1998 6:56 PM

Thursday, July 31, 2008


People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Source: Howard W Buchanon II -- Sunday, October 28, 2001 @ 11:52 AM

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

If Tomorrow Never Comes

If I knew this would be the last opportunity we’d have to spend time together,
I’d be there to share your day, but
I'm sure we'll have more opportunities
so I’ll just let this one slip away.

For there's always tomorrow to make up for an oversight,
We always get a second chance to make everything right.
There will always be another day to say " I love you!"
Surely there will be another chance to say " Anything I can do?"

But just in case I might be wrong and today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you and I hope you never forget.
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone -- young or old alike!
Today may be the last chance you get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you're waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes, you'll surely regret the day,
That you didn't take the extra time for a smile, a hug, or a kiss
and were too busy to grant someone what turned out to be their one last wish.

So always hold friends and loved ones dear.
Take time to say "I'm sorry." "Please forgive me?" "Thank you!" or "It's okay."
And if tomorrow never comes, you'll have no regrets about today.

source: unknown -- my paraphrased version of the original.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Love -- A Perspective

Once upon a time there was an island where all the feelings lived; happiness, sadness, knowledge, and all the others, including love.

One day it was announced to all of the feelings that the island was going to sink to the bottom of the ocean. So all the feelings prepared their boats to leave.

Love was the only one that stayed. She wanted to preserve the island paradise until the last possible moment.

When the island was almost totally under, love decided it was time to leave. She began looking for someone to ask for help. Just then Richness was passing by in a grand boat. Love asked, "Richness, Can I come with you on your boat?" Richness answered, " I'm sorry, but there is a lot of silver and gold on my boat and there would be no room for you anywhere."

Then Love decided to ask Vanity for help who was passing in a beautiful vessel. Love cried out, "Vanity, help me please."

"I can't help you", Vanity said, "You are all wet and will damage my beautiful boat."

Next, Love saw Sadness passing by. Love said, " Sadness, please let me go with you." Sadness answered, "Love, I'm sorry, but, I just need to be alone now."

Then, Love saw Happiness. Love cried out, " Happiness, please take me with you." But Happiness was so overjoyed that he didn't hear Love calling to him.

Love began to cry. Then, she heard a voice say, "Come Love, I will take you with me." It was an elder. Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that she forgot to ask the elder his name. When they arrived on land the elder went on his way. Love realized how much she owed the elder.

Love then found Knowledge and asked, "Who was it that helped me?"

"It was Time", Knowledge answered.

"But why did Time help me when no one else would?" Love asked.

Knowledge smiled and with deep wisdom and sincerity, answered, "Because only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is."

Source: "an anonymous internet friend"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Three Little Words -- 2nd Installment

I Thank You
Gratitude is an exquisite form of courtesy. People who enjoy the companionship of good, close friends are those who don't take daily courtesies for granted. They are quick to thank friends for their many expressions of kindness. On the other hand, people whose circle of friends is severely constricted often do not have the attitude of gratitude.

Count On Me
"A friend is one who walks in when others walk out." Loyalty is an essential ingredient for true friendship; it is the emotional glue that bonds people. Those who are rich in their relationships tend to be steady and true friends. When troubles come, a good friend is there, indicating, "you can count on me."

Let Me Help
The best of friends see a need and try to fill it. When they spot a hurt they do what they can to heal it. Without being asked, they pitch in and help.

I Understand You
People become closer and enjoy each other more if they feel the other person accepts and understands them. Letting others know in so many little ways that you understand him or her is one of the most powerful tools for healing your relationship.

Go For It
Some of your friends may be nonconformists, have unique projects and unusual hobbies. Support them in pursuing their interests. Rather than urging your loved ones to conform, encourage their uniqueness - everyone has dreams that no one else has.

I suppose the three little words that you were expecting to see have to be reserved for those who are special;

I Love You!

source: Blue Angel [dd1913@hotmail.com] Sent: Monday, July 21, 2008 7:53 PM

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Three Little Words -- 1st Installment

The Power of Three Little Words
Some of the most significant messages people deliver to one another often come in just three words. When spoken or conveyed, those statements have the power to forge new friendships, deepen old ones and restore relationships that have cooled. The following three word phrases can enrich every relationship:

"I'll Be There"
Being there for another person is the greatest gift we can give. When we are truly present for other people, important things happen to them and to us. We are renewed in love and friendship. We are restored emotionally and spiritually. "Being there" is at the very, very core of civility.

"I Miss You"
Perhaps more marriages could be salvaged and strengthened if couples simply and sincerely said to each other, "I miss you." This powerful affirmation tells partners they are wanted, needed, desired, and loved.

"I Respect You"
Respect is another way of showing love. Respect conveys the feeling that another person is a true equal. It is a powerful way to affirm the importance of a relationship.

"Maybe You're Right"
This phrase is highly effective in diffusing an argument and restoring frayed emotions. The flip side of "maybe you're right" is the humility of admitting "maybe I'm wrong."

"Please Forgive Me"
Many broken friendships/relationships could be restored and healed if people would admit their mistakes and ask for forgiveness. All of us are vulnerable to faults, foibles and failures. A man should never be ashamed to own up to the possibility he has been in the wrong, which is by saying in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.

conitinued tomorrow:

source: Blue Angel [dd1913@hotmail.com]Sent: Monday, July 21, 2008 7:53 PM

Monday, July 21, 2008

Psuedo Reitirement -- 2nd post

The beginning of my fourth week of retirement!
1st week -- Links Convention in Seattle;
2nd week -- Alaskan cruise;
3rd week -- true beginning of retirement.
Have you ever thought of what retirement is really going to be like and what you will really do? Obviously I have. Well, to paraphrase-- "I've met retirement and it is upon me!" I think the key with retirement is like anything else -- i.e. to have a plan and work the plan. Last week (Tuesday, July 15th) I wrote down some things in my personal journal that I'd like to accomplish. As I look back over the list, I've accomplished 4 of 10; started on another, sort of accomplished another, and clearly have four to go. Well, today I resume my quest.

I think the key to this retirement thing -- and to life -- is to have a plan and work the plan (I already said that , didn't I?). Today, I will sit down and update the list. Some of the things I have to do are mundane and really won't make the list even though they are things I need to do -- e.g. keep my appointment with the Cardiologist, refill some prescriptions, finalize registration and develop a workout schedule at Memorial Hospital's Health and Lifestyle clinic. Other things are short term and need to be dealt with -- i.e., clean up my study and get it ready as my daily work place, resolve the MS Office desktop problem with my desktop computer, etc. Others are more long term retirement issues -- e.g. setting priorities for the work I intend to do as part of this retirement thing.

Sharon Hurt asked me to contact her regarding some volunteer activities with the South Bend Community School Corporation. Since this may fit in with the 2nd of my volunteer objectives for retirement -- i.e., character development for inner city youth -- I will schedule contacting Sharon high on my priority of activities for this week.

I'll finish this entry for now and return at some future point. I want to stay in touch and keep my friends up to date on my activities; however, I don't want to be a pest. So I'm going to use this blog to stay in touch. Hopefully those friends and acquaintances who would like to stay in touch will either e-mail me at bobsiwel@sbcglobal.net or respond by placing comments on this blog. Thank you for taking time to check me out. My wish is for God to continue to bless you and give you peace.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Psuedo Retirement -- 1st post

June 30, 2008 was my last day as the Executive Director of the Council On Aging for Elkhart County, Inc. On July 1st, my wife Margaret and I departed for the Links Convention in Seattle, Washington. This was my first time in Seattle. It appeared to be a very clean and beautiful city. Took a tour of the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field. Great tour!

On Sunday, July 6th, we departed for a seven day Alaska cruise. It was beautiful; however, in each Alaskan city (Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan) they said it was cooler and wetter than normal. It was an interesting cruise and the sights were great. I recommend it but I don't think we will do it again. It was just to cold, gloomy, and overcast for m!

We returned to South Bend at Midnight on Monday, July 14th!

I'm beginning to settle into reviving my firm (SIWEL) and getting my home office into an everyday work space. Doing a little bit every day! Haven't had a chance to play golf since retirement but there is always tomorrow.

Brian is in the Peace Corps serving in the "Kyrgyz Republic” also referred to as “Kyrgyzstan." He has a blog you may want to check out. It is http://abiglove.blogspot.com

Well, it is late so I'm going to log off. Hopefully I will check back in more frequently and let you know how this Pseudo Retirement is going! :-)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"O Death, where is your sting?" NKJV 1st Cor 15:55

It is in the living!

My friend Adolph Eskridge died today. Several of my friends and acquaintances have died recently. That is probably because the end of life as we know it on this earth is death.

I remember when my friend the Rev. Billy Kirk died. That was an experience I do not want to repeat. I visited his wife after his death but that was not something I wanted to experience either. That is probably why I didn't do it to often.

That is probably one of the reasons I didn't pursue the pastorate at Greater St. John Missionary Baptist Church. As a pastor, one has to deal with death much more than I desire.

Death and I have not had a good relationship.
It has been too close, too real, and t0o disconcerting.
Never anything that brought peace and solace.
Too many friends have gone on but then that is to be expected.

I guess what I will take from these experiences is to enjoy what I have I have it because this to will pass. Colossi ans 2: 6-23 helps me to make some sense of our sojourn on this earth just as Hebrews 2: 14-18 helps to explain the pains of Jesus' sufferings on this earth.

I'm still struggling with this earthly experience -- the good, the bad, and death. Perhaps the solace that will get me through day by day, experience by experience, and what we know as life and death is my faith and belief in Jesus Christ.

My daily experiences will pass -- not necessarily forgotten --but pass.

Thank you Holy Ghost! Amen!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A blog -- A journal

Is there a difference? Does each have a different purposes? Does it matter?

It is spring break. My wife and I are not going anywhere. We are just chillin!

I'm working on taxes, summer vacation, the revival of my consulting firm and just cleaning up some junk in my study.

My wife is enjoying life as only she knows how! I envy (?) her sometimes.

I've submitted my resignation as the Executive Director of the Council On Aging because I don't know how to limit my work day and focus on just those duties and responsibilities that are mind. If one of my supervisor or coordinator co-workers is absent -- regardless of the reason -- I tend to try to do their job too so that none of our clients are short-changed. When I was younger, that was okay. Now I'm 67 and I just don't have the energy to do that on an extended basis any more. So rather than disappoint clients or myself, it is easier to resign.

My intent is to revive my consulting firm, work on what I want to work on (e.g., Boy Scouts), and work when I want to work! I don't know if my social security income will be sufficient so that is why I'm reviving SIWEL, Inc. -- a management consulting firm specializing in issue and problem resolution. I've developed a marketing piece labeled "Engagement Considerations" which gives a potential client an overview of the types of activities I will consider and how my prices are determined. Companion pieces are 1) a brief "Bio-Sketch" which is a one page narrative about my experiences and my family, and 2) a brief two page resume listing prior positions, consulting engagements, and professional activities. Will they be enough. God only knows and he(she) hasn't shared that with me yet! Does it matter? Ditto! There is also a Church Resume that summarizes pastoral activities, appointments and affiliations; however, I don't know how and if that will be used.

Should this be in my blog or my journal. Well, one thing is for sure. This is my blog and it is here. I can assure you, it is not my intent to re-write this in one of my several journals!

May God continue to bless you and keep you. Peace! 1906

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Faith and Trust

My son's wife just had a miscarriage!

I was concerned about them and how they would handle the lost; however, I've just read her blog entry for April 5th (http//web.mac.com/laura_lew/Site/Blog/Blog.html) and I feel confident they will be okay.

They both share a strong belief, faith, and trust in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Christ.

Because we are human, we don't always have the same faith and confidence in others that we have in ourselves; however, after reading her blog entry, my concern for them is placed at ease.

These are two truly wonderful young people -- granted I may be a little biased -- but if the rest of the world were like them, the world would be a better place.

I thank God for the blessings he has placed in my life, including Laura and Jeff.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Reality of Relationships

The "reality of relationships" is that relationships measure the distance or proximity between two things.

Theoretically a relationship measurement exists even when there is no proximity between the two items being compared or discussed!

That is the beauty of measurement -- it quantifies in a very real sense the strength or proximity of the relationship in such a way that anyone else who wants to make the same comparison can measure it in the same way that anyone else measures the relationship and they will obtain the same result.

A good example is the relationship between one's self and God:

At the nominal level of measurement, one concedes the theoretical construct of God, so by definition "God is!" An atheist may claim that their is no such entity as God but by the mere fact that they acknowledge the concept of God, the atheist creates God's existence. The fact the atheist may not want to have or acknowledge a relationship with God does not negate the existence of the theoretical concept "God" that the atheist wishes to deny.

At the ordinal level of measurement, not only does God exists, the relationship one has with God is greater than the relationship an atheist has with God. The atheist by definition denies the existence of God but has to acknowledge the theoretical construct in order to deny the absence of a belief. The absence of the belief has more to do with the powers and description ascribed to God rather God's actual existence.

At the interval and ratio levels of measurement, it is more difficult to measure the relationship. A quantitative measurement scale would need to be constructed in order to measure the relationship between an individual and God at the interval or ratio level of measurement. Such a scale could be constructed and based on various thresholds of pain going from the extreme of either the absence of pain or the euphoria of pleasure to the other extreme magnitude where the level and intensity of pain is such that it causes the individual to give up its life to escape the pain.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mathematical Relationships

Relationships describe the proximity of things to each other.

  • Mathematical relationships describe the proximity or presence of objects using one of the four measurement scales.
  • Human relationships describe the proximity of humans as measured by using one of the four measurement scales
Measurement Levels or Scales:

  1. nominal measurement -- things are either equal to or not equal to;
  2. ordinal measurement -- things are either equal to, less than, or more than;
  3. integer measurement -- things are not only equal or not equal but also how much more than or less than; and
  4. ratio measurement -- the absence of a condition or relationship.
Examples of measurement on the different levels or scales:

  1. Nominal relationship is the color of an object or the presence of a human relationship.
  2. Ordinal relationship is to describe the size of objects in comparison to one or more similar objects -- e.g., one object is bigger than, less than, or the same size as another object
  3. Interval measuresurement is to say it 2o degrees warmer today than yesterday or any day this week.
  4. Ratio level measurement is the quantity or value of money in a bank account -- e.g. a zero balance indicates the absence of the monetary value.