A weary mother returned from the store, Lugging groceries through the kitchen door.
Awaiting her arrival was her 8 year old son, Anxious to relate what his younger
brother had done.
"While I was out playing and Dad was on a call, TJ. took his crayons and wrote on
the wall! It's on the new paper you just hung in the den. I told him you'd be
mad at having to do it again."
She let out a moan and furrowed her brow, "Where is your little brother right
now?" She emptied her arms and with a purposeful stride, She marched to his
closet where he had gone to hide.
She called his full name as she entered his room. He trembled with
fear - he knew
that meant doom! For the next ten minutes, she ranted and raved about the expensive
wallpaper and how she had saved.
Lamenting all the work it would take to repair, She condemned his actions and total
lack of care. The more she scolded, the madder she got, Then stomped from his room,
She headed for the den to confirm her fears. When she saw the wall, her eyes
flooded with tears. The message she read pierced her soul with a dart. It said,
"I love Mommy," surrounded by a heart.
Well, the wallpaper remained, just as she found it, With an empty picture frame hung to
surround it. A reminder to her, and indeed to all, take time to read the handwriting
on the wall
Red roses were her favorites, her name was also Rose. And every year her husband
sent them, tied with pretty bows. The year he died, the roses were delivered to her
door. The card said, "Be my Valentine", like all the years before.
Each year he sent her roses, and the note would always say, "I love you even
more this year, than last year on this day. My love for you will always grow, with every
passing year." She knew this was the last time that the roses would appear.
She thought, he ordered roses in advance before this day. Her loving husband
did not know, that he would pass away. He always liked to do things early, way
before the time. Then, if he got too busy, everything would work out fine. She
trimmed the stems, and placed them in a very special vase. Then, sat the vase beside
the portrait of his smiling face. She would sit for hours, in her husband's favorite
chair. While staring at his picture, and the roses sitting there. A year went
by, and it was hard to live without her mate. With loneliness and solitude, that had
become her fate. Then, the very hour, as on Valentines before, The doorbell rang,
and there were roses, sitting by her door.
She brought the roses in, and then just looked at them in shock. Then, went to
get the telephone, to call the florist shop. The owner answered, and she asked him,
if he would explain, Why would someone do this to her, causing her such pain?
"I know your husband passed away, more than a year ago, "The owner said,
"I knew you'd call, and you would want to know. The flowers you received today,
were paid for in advance. Your husband always planned ahead, he left nothing to
chance. There is a standing order, that I have on file down here, And he has paid,
well in advance, you'll get them every year. There also is another thing, that I
think you should know, He wrote a special little card...he did this years ago. Then,
should ever I find out that he's no longer here, That's the card...that should be sent, to
you the following year." She thanked him and hung up the phone, her tears now flowing
hard. Her fingers shaking, as she slowly reached to get the card. Inside the
card, she saw that he had written her a note. Then, as she stared in total silence,
this is what he wrote... "Hello my love, I know it's been a year since I've been
gone, I hope it hasn't been too hard for you to overcome. I know it must be lonely,
and the pain is very real. For if it was the other way, I know how I would feel.
The love we shared made everything so beautiful in life. I loved you more than words
can say, you were the perfect wife. You were my friend and lover, you fulfilled my
every need. I know it's only been a year, but please try not to grieve. I want
you to be happy, even when you shed your tears. That is why the roses will be sent
to you for years. When you get these roses, think of all the happiness, That we had
together, and how both of us were blessed. I have always loved you and I know I
always will. But, my love, you must go on, you have some living still.
Please...try to find happiness, while living out your days. I know it is not
easy, but I hope you find some ways. The roses will come every year, and they will
only stop, When your door's not answered, when the florist stops to knock. He will
come five times that day, in case you have gone out. But after his last visit, he
will know without a doubt, To take the roses to the place, where I've instructed him, And
place the roses where we are, together once again.
A man found a cocoon of a
butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several
hours as it struggled to force it's body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop
making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no
farther. So, the man decided to help the butterfly, he took a pair of scissors and snipped
off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. BUT, it had a
swollen body, and small shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly, because he
expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to support the body,
which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of
it's life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to
fly. What had he done in his well intentioned kindness and haste? What he did not
understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required to get through the
tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into it's
wings so that it would be ready for flight ONCE it achieved it's freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If god allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We
would not be as strong as we could have been . . . And we could never fly . . .Have a great day, great life, and struggle a little . . . Then fly !!!
It was only four days before Christmas. The spirit of the season had not yet caught up
with me, even though cars packed the parking lot of our local discount store. Inside the
store was worse. Shopping carts and last-minute shoppers jammed the aisles. Buying for
someone who had everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift buying
anything but fun. Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last-minute items and
proceeded to the long checkout lines. I picked the shortest, but it looked as if it would
mean at least a 20 minutes wait. In front of me were two small children - a boy of about
five and a slightly younger girl. She carried a beautiful pair of shiny, gold
house-slippers. As the Christmas music sounded in the store's stereo system, the small
girl hummed along, off-key, but happily. When we finally approached the checkout register,
the girl carefully placed the shoes on the counter. She treated them as though they were a
treasure. The clerk rang up the bill. "That will be $6.09," she said. The boy
laid his crumpled bills atop the stand while he searched his pockets. He finally came up
with $3.12. "I guess we'll have to put them back," he bravely announced.
"We'll come back some other time, maybe tomorrow." With that statement, a soft
sob broke from the little girl. "But Jesus would have loved those shoes." she
cried. "Well, we'll go home and work some more. Don't cry, we'll come back." he
assured her. Quickly I handed $3.00 to the clerk. These children waited in line for a long
time. And after all, it was Christmas. Suddenly a pair of arms came around me and a small
voice said, "Thank you lady." "What did you mean when you said Jesus would
like the shoes?" I asked. The boy answered, "Our mommy is sick and going to
heaven. Daddy said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus." The girl spoke,
"My Sunday school teacher said the streets up in heaven are shiny gold, just like
these slippers. Won't my mommy be beautiful walking on those streets to match these
shoes?" My eyes flooded as I looked into her tear-streaked face. "Yes," I
answered, "I'm sure she will." Silently I thanked God for using these children
to remind me of the true spirit of giving. Somehow, not only for Christmas, But all the
long year through. The joy that you give to others. Is the joy that comes back to you.
As you are well aware we can have a bigger impact on those we teach than we are often
aware of. Here is a story that demonstrates this fact. Maybe you have heard it before.
ALL GOOD THINGS
He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in Morris, Minn.
All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in
appearance, but had that happy to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional
mischievousness delightful. Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again
that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was
his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving - "Thank you for
correcting me, Sister!" I didn't know what to make of it at first, but before long I
became accustomed to hearing it many times a day. One morning my patience was growing thin
when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice teacher's mistake. I looked at
Mark and said, "If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!"
It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking again." I
hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the
punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it. I remember the scene as if it had
occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened by drawer and took
out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off
two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front
of the room. As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it!!
I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark's desk, removed the tape,
and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, "Thank you for correcting me,
Sister." At the end of the year, I was asked to teach junior high math. The years
flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than
ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instruction in the
"new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in third. One
Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I
sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves, and edgy with one
another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list
the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space
between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each
of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish
their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers.
Charlie smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good
weekend." That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of
paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday I gave
each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling.
"Really?" I heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything to
anyone!" "I didn't know others liked me so much." No one ever mentioned
those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their
parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students
were happy with themselves and one another again. That group of students moved on. Several
years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were
driving home, Mother asked me the usual questions about the trip- the weather, my
experiences in general. There was a lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a side-ways
glance and simply said, "Dad?" My father cleared his throat as he usually did
before something important. "The Eklunds called last night," he began.
"Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark
is." Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said.
"The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend." To
this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me about Mark. I had
never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature.
All I could think at that moment was, Mark I would give all the masking tape in the world
if only you would talk to me. The church was packed with Mark's friends. Chuck's sister
sang" The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Why did it have to rain on the day of the
funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and
the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and
sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there,
one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to me. "Were you Mark's math
teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. "Mark talked
about you a lot," he said. After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed
to Chuck's farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting for
me. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his
pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize
it." Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper
that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that
the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark's
classmates had said about him. "Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother
said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it." Mark's classmates started to gather
around us. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in
the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put
his in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in
my diary." Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her
wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at
all times," Vicki said without batting an eyelash. "I think we all saved our
lists." That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his
friends who would never see him again.
Written by: Sister Helen P. Mrosla
I CALLED a friend at 6 a.m. and a sleepy female voice
answered. Realizing that I had dialed the wrong number, I apologized and hung up.
When I redialed, the same voice told me I still had the wrong number. As I started
to apologize profusely, the woman interrupted me. "Please don't apologize," she
said. "I'm sitting by the window with a cup of coffee enjoying a truly beautiful
sunrise. If you hadn't awakened me, I would have missed it."
IT WAS mid-October and the trees along the parkway were
ablaze with colour. At an overlook, we stood next to a woman who was showing the
view to her elderly mother. "Isn't it wonderful of God to take something just
before it dies and make it so beautiful?" the daughter commented as she gazed at some
falling leaves. "Wouldn't it be nice if He did that with people?" the
mother mused. The younger woman looked at the stooped, white-haired figure beside
her. "Sometimes He does," she answered so softly that she thought no one
MY FRIEND was approaching the age of 60, and recovering from
losing her husband to a younger woman. Her children were on their own and no longer needed
her. She had tried, unsuccessfully, to get a job and was depressed, feeling useless and
anxious about the future.
One day she was waiting to cross a busy street, feeling old, ugly, helpless
and totally incapable of getting to the other side. A ten-year-old boy was poised on the
curb beside her, waiting for the light to change.
"Do you think," my friend asked, "that you could help an old
lady across the street?"
"Sure," he agreed cheerfully, "Where is she?"
My friend, smiling inside and out, sailed across the street on her own.
IN THE middle of one of my parents' more memorable
disagreements, my father jumped up from the table, grabbed two sheets of paper, and said
to my mother, "Let's make a list of everything we don't like about each other."
Mom started writing. Dad glowered at her, and then wrote on his paper.
She wrote again. He watched, and every time she stopped, he would start
writing. They finally finished. "Let's exchange complaints," Dad
said. They gave each other their lists. "Give mine back," Mom pleaded when
she glanced at his sheet. All down the page Dad had written: "I love you, I
love you, I love you."
MY SISTER sent several photos with her last letter, showing
the bookcase she had built, the macrame hanger she had made, and the back porch she had
constructed. I was impressed, and felt myself inadequate. When my husband came
home, I showed him the photos and lamented, "What do I make?" "You
make me happy," he said.
I RAN short of money while visiting my brother, and borrowed
$50 from him. After my return home, I wrote him a short letter every few weeks,
enclosing a $5 check in each one. He called me up and told me how much he enjoyed
the letters, regardless of the money; I had never written regularly before.
Eventually I sent off a letter and the last five-dollar check. In my mail box the
next week I found an envelope from my brother. Inside was another $50.
WHILE my wife was busy rummaging through items on sale in a
department store, I was trying to keep our two little monsters out of mischief. I
was about to stomp off to the car with a boy under each arm when an elderly man ambled up,
smiling at the boys. "These two yours?" he asked. "Yes."
"They look as if they're full of the devil." And then, tousling the
boys' hair, he looked me in the eye and added: "You're a rich man, sir, a rich
man." We stood there, the boys not understanding what had happened. As
for me, I could feel my chest swelling with pride.
MY SISTER tells how one day a dozen roses were delivered to
her with a card reading only: "Someone who loves you. " No name. Being
single, her first thoughts were of the men in her life - old boyfriends, new
acquaintances. Or could it be Mom and Dad? Someone at work? She mentally ran
down the list. Finally she called a friend to help her go over the possibilities.
Something the friend said provided a clue.
"Janet, did you send the flowers?" my sister asked.
"Because you sounded so depressed the last time we talked that I wanted
you to spend the day thinking about all the people who love you."
When I was a little girl, my mother used to embroider
a great deal. I would sit at her knee and look up from the floor and ask what she was
doing. She informed me that she was embroidering. I told her that it looked
like a mess from where I was. As from the underside I watched her work within the
boundaries of the little round hoop that she held in her hand, I complained to her that it
sure looked messy from where I sat.
She would smile at me, look down and gently say, "My daughter, you go about
your playing for awhile, and when I am finished with my embroidering, I will put you on my
knee and let you see it from my side."
I would wonder why she was using some dark threads along with the bright ones and
why they seemed so jumbled from my view. A few minutes would pass and then I would hear
Mother's voice say, "Daughter, come and sit on my knee." This I did only
to be surprised and thrilled to see a beautiful flower or a sunset. I could not
believe it, because from underneath it looked so messy.
Then Mother would say to me, "My daughter, from underneath it did look messy
and jumbled, but you did not realize that there was a pre-drawn plan on the top. It
was a design. I was only following it. Now look at it from my side and you
will see what I was doing."
Many times through the years I have looked up to my Heavenly Father and said,
"Father, what are You doing?" He has answered, "I am embroidering
your life." I say, "But it looks like a mess to me. It seems so jumbled.
The threads seem so dark. Why can't they all be bright?" The Father seems
to tell me, "'My child, you go about your business of doing My business, and one day
I will bring you to Heaven and put you on My knee and you will see the plan from My
A True Story
Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was
always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would
ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be
He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around
from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his
attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was
there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked
him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How
do you do it?"
Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two
choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad
mood." I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I
can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from
it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their
complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side
"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.
"Yes it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you
cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to
situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good
mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you
I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant
industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but often thought about him when I
made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.
Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do
in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at
gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking
from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him.
Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.
After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the
hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.
I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was,
he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?"
I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the
robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I
should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the
floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to
die. I chose to live.
"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.
Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was
going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the
expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their
eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man. " I knew I needed to take action."
"What did you do?" I asked.
"Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said
Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors
and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and
yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate
on me as if I am alive, not dead."
Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing
attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.
Attitude, after all, is everything.
I AM a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my
college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely
inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last
project of the term was called "Smile." The class was asked to go out and smile
at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile
at everyone and say hello anyway, so, I thought, this would be a piece of cake, literally.
Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to
McDonald's one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special play time with
our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone
around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch...an
overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had
moved. As I turned around I smelled a horrible "dirty body" smell, and
there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short
gentleman, close to me, he was "smiling". His beautiful sky blue eyes were full
of God's Light as he searched for acceptance. He said, "Good day" as he counted
the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood
behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally deficient and the blue eyed
gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them. The young
lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, "Coffee is all Miss"
because that was all they could afford. (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm
up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm). Then I really felt it -
the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue
eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every
action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast
meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had
chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue eyed
gentleman's cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Thank
you." I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, "I did not do this for you.
God is here working through me to give you hope." I started to cry as I walked away
to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said,
"That is why God gave you to me, Honey. To give me hope." We held hands
for a moment and at that time we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been
given were we able to give. We are not church goers, but we are believers. That day
showed me the pure Light of God's sweet love. I returned to college, on the last evening
of class, with this story in hand. I turned in "my project" and the instructor
read it. Then she looked up at me and said, "Can I share this?" I slowly
nodded as she got the attention of the class. She began to read and that is when I
knew that we, as human beings and being part of God, share this need to heal people and be
healed. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald's, my husband, son,
instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a
college student. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn:
ONE aspect of my job as a vending-machine attendant in a
factory was to make refunds to people who had lost money in the machines. A
"victim" was asked to write his name and the amount he had lost on a small card,
which he then deposited in a box near the machine. The system worked on trust, as there
was no way of checking on lost money. My faith in humanity was reaffirmed one day when I
received a card in the box with the words: "Mr. Simpson. Machine gave too much
back." Across the bottom of the card were taped two dimes and a nickel.