They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc. and on Dec 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On Dec 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm - hit the area and lasted for 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.
True Story - submitted by Pastor Rob Reid
From a horse nutrition site.
Well, I knew there had to be a downside to beet pulp, and thought it only fair that I pass it on . . . This afternoon I decided to bring some beet pulp pellets into the house to soak, because I wanted to get an idea of the % volume they expanded during soaking. Researchers are like that, pathetically easy to amuse and desperately in need of professional help. So I trundled in a bucket, about three pounds of beet pulp, added in the water and set it in the living room to do its thing. No problem. Science in the making.
Well, one thing I don't think I've mentioned before is that in my ongoing quest to turn this house into Noah's Ark, we have not only four horses, two dogs, three house cats plus Squeaky the barn cat, a sulfur-crested cockatoo, a cockatiel and assorted toads: we also have William, a fox squirrel who absent-mindedly fell out of his tree as a baby a year or so ago, and got handed off by my vet to the only person he knew silly enough to traipse around with a baby squirrel and a bottle of Esbilac in her book-bag. Being no dummy, William knew a sucker when he saw one and has happily been an Urban Squirrel ever since.
And for those of you that think A Squirrel's Place is In The Wild, don't think we didn't try that. Last year at Christmas, we thought we'd give him his first lesson in Being a Wild Squirrel, by letting him play in the undecorated Christmas tree. His reaction was to shriek in horror, scutter frantically across the floor, and go try to hide underneath the nearest border collie. Since then, the only way he will allow himself to be taken outside is hiding inside Mummy's shirt and peering suspiciously out at the sinister world. So much for the remake of Born Free!
Anyway, when I set out the bucket of beet pulp, I may have underestimated the lengths that a young and enthusiastic squirrel will go to stash all available food items in new and unusual hiding spots. I thought letting William out of his cage as usual and giving him a handful of almonds to cram under cushions and into sleeping dogs' ears was sufficient entertainment for the afternoon. After all, when I left, he was gleefully chortling and gloating over his pile of treasure, making sure the cockatoo saw them so he could tell her "I have Almonds And You Don't." Sigh. So much for blind optimism.
Well, apparently when the almond supply ran out, beet pulp pellets became fair game. I can only imagine the little rat finding that great big bucket and swooning with the possibilities of being able to hide away All That Food! The problem isn't quite so much that I now have three pounds of beet pulp pellets cleverly tucked away in every corner of my house. It's that as far as I can tell, the soaking-expanding-and-falling-apart process seems to be kinda like nuclear meltdown. Once the reaction gets started, no force on earth is going to stop it. So when I happily came back from the grocery store, not only do I find an exhausted but incredibly fulfilled squirrel sprawled out snoozing happily up on the cat tree, I find that my house smells like a feed mill. Virtually every orifice is crammed full of beet pulp. This includes the bathroom sink, the fish tank filter, my undie drawer, the kitty box (much to their horror) and ALL the pockets of my book-bag. I simply can't WAIT to turn on the furnace and find out what toasting beet pulp smells like.
The good news is that in a case of siege, I have enough carbohydrates hidden in my walls and under the furniture to survive for years. The bad news is that as soon as I try to remove any of the Stash, I get a a hysterical squirrel clinging to my pant leg, tearfully shrieking that I'm ruining all his hard work and now he's going to starve this winter. (This despite the fact that William is spoiled utterly rotten, knows how to open the macadamia nut can all by himself and has enough of a tummy to have earned him the unfortunate nickname Buddha Belly.)
So, in case anyone was losing sleep wondering just how much final product you get after soaking three pounds of beet pulp, the answer is a living room full. I'd write this new data up and submit it as a case study paper to the nutrition and physiology society, but I suspect the practical applications may be limited.
Off to go empty the Shop-Vac. Again.
Are you tired of all those mushy "friendship" poems that always sound good but never actually come close to reality? Well, here is a "friendship" poem that really speaks to true friendship and truth itself!
When you are sad, ...I will get you drunk and help you plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.
When you are blue, ...I'll try to dislodge whatever is choking you.
When you smile....I'll know you finally got laid.
When you are scared, ...I will rag you about it every chance I get.
When you are worried, ...I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be and to quit whining.
When you are confused, ...I will use little words to explain it to your dumb ass.
When you are sick, ...stay away from me until you're well again. I don't want whatever you have.
When you fall, ..I will point and laugh at your clumsy ass.
This is my oath, I pledge 'till the end. Why you may ask?
Because you're my friend! A friend will help you move. A really good friend will help you move a body.
Interview With God
You Might Be From A Small Town If....
You can name everyone you graduated with.
You know what 4-H is.
You ever went to parties at a pasture, barn, or in the middle of a dirt road.
You used to drag "main."
You said the 'f' word and your parents knew within the hour.
You schedule parties around the schedule of different police officers, since you know which ones would bust you and which ones wouldn't (same goes with the game warden)
You ever went cow-tipping or snipe hunting.
You could never buy cigarettes because all the store clerks knew how old you were (and if you were old they'd tell your parents anyhow).
When you did find someone old enough and brave enough to buy cigarettes, you still had to go out to the country and drive on back roads to smoke them.
You have ever gone home for Homecoming.
You know what an Ice Cream Social is.
It was cool to date someone from the neighboring town.
You had senior skip day.
The whole school went to the same party after graduation.
You don't give directions by street names or directions by references (turn by Nelson's house, go two blocks east Anderson's, and it's four houses left of the track field).
You can't help but date a friend's ex-girlfriend(or boyfriend).
Your car stays filthy because of the dirt roads, and you will never own a dark vehicle for this reason.
You think kids that ride skateboards are weird.
The town next to you is considered "trashy" or "snooty", but is actually just like your town.
You refer to anyone with a house newer than 1980 as the "rich people."
The people in the city dress funny, then you pick- up on the trend two years later.
You bragged to your friends because you got pipes on your truck for your birthday.
Anyone you want can be found at either the Dairy Queen or the feed store.
You see at least one friend a week driving a tractor through town.
Football coaches suggest that you haul hay for the summer to get stronger.
Directions are given using "the" stop light as a reference.
Your letter jacket was worn after your 19th birthday.
You have ever taken a trailer or dog to school on a daily basis.
Weekend excitement involves a trip to a Wal-Mart.
Even the ugly people enter beauty pageants.
You decide to walk somewhere for exercise and 5 people pull over and ask if you need a ride.
Your teachers call you by your older siblings names.
Your teachers remember when they taught your parents.
You can charge at all the local stores.
The closest McDonald's is 45 miles away.
So is the closest mall.
It is normal to see an old man riding through town on a riding lawnmower.
You laugh your head off reading this because you know they're all true!
Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy's life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn't realize was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep. But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.
I was responding to a call from a small brick four-plex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some party people, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory in the industrial part of town.
When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under such circumstances, many drivers just honk once or twice, wait a minute, 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 1940s 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 asked.
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, then asked, "Can 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 rearview 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, 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.
Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and many others adorned the walls of the family estate.
The widowed elder man looked on with satisfaction, as his only child became an experienced art collector. The son's trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world.
As winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram. His beloved son was missing in action. The art collector anxiously awaited more news, fearing he would never see his son again.
Within days, his fears were confirmed. The young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic.
Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Easter holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season, a season that he and his son had so looked forward to, would visit his house no longer. On Easter morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man.
As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. As he opened the door, he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hand. He introduced himself to the man by saying, "I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you."
As the two began to talk, the soldier told of how the man's son had told everyone of his father's love of fine art. "I'm an artist," said the soldier, "and I want to give you this." As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man's son. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man's face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture above the fireplace. A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the old man set about his task.
True to his word, the painting went above the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars of paintings. And then the man sat in his chair and spent Easter gazing at the gift he had been given. During the days and weeks that followed, the man realized that even though his son was no longer with him, the boy's life would live on because of those he had touched. He would soon learn that his son had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his caring heart.
As the stories of his son's gallantry continued to reach him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease the grief. The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces for which museums around the world clamored. He told his neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received. The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation.
With the collector's passing, and his only son dead, those paintings would be sold at an auction. According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on Easter day, the day he had received his greatest gift.
The day soon arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled this day; greatness would be achieved as many would claim "I have the greatest collection." The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum's list. It was the painting of the man's son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid. The room was silent. "Who will open the bidding with $100?" he asked. Minutes passed. No one spoke. From the back of the room came, "Who cares about that painting? It's just a picture of his son.
Let's forget it and go on to the good stuff." More voices echoed in agreement. "No, we have to sell this one first," replied the auctioneer.
"Now, who will take the son?" Finally, a friend of the old man spoke.
"Will you take ten dollars for the painting? That's all I have. I knew the boy, so I'd like to have it." "I have ten dollars. Will anyone go higher?" called the auctioneer. After more silence, the auctioneer said, "Going once, going twice. Gone." The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, "Now we can get on with it and we can bid on these treasures!" The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over.
Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, "What do you mean it's over? We didn't come here for a picture of some old guy's son. What about all of these paintings? There are millions of dollars of art here! I demand that you explain what's going on here!" The auctioneer replied, "It's very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son . . . gets it all!"
Just as those art collectors discovered on that Easter day, the message is still the same - the love of a Father - a Father whose greatest joy came from His Son who went away and gave his life rescuing others. And because of that Father's love...whoever takes the Son gets it all.
Bill Cromie, MD, MBA.
When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember well the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box.
I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother used to talk to it. Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person - her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know.
"Information Please" could supply anybody's number and the correct time.
My first personal experience with this genie-in-the-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn't seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway.
The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the foot stool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. "Information Please," I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.
"I hurt my finger..." I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.
"Isn't your mother home?" came the question.
"Nobody's home but me," I blubbered.
"Are you bleeding?" the voice asked.
"No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts."
"Can you open your icebox?" she asked. I said I could.
"Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it to your finger," said the voice.
After that, I called "Information Please" for everything. I asked her for help with my geography and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk, that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.
Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary died. I called "Information Please" and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things grown ups say to soothe a child.
But I was unconsoled. I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"
She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, "Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in."
Somehow I felt better.
Another day I was on the telephone. "Information Please."
"Information," said the now familiar voice. "How do you spell fix?" I asked.
All this took place in a small town in the Pacific northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. "Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the tall, shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.
A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle I had about half-an-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then, without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information, please."
Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.
I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, "Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"
There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now."
I laughed, "So it's really still you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time."
"I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls."
I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.
"Please do," she said. "Just ask for Sally."
Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, "Information."
I asked for Sally. "Are you a friend?" she said.
"Yes, a very old friend," I answered. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said. "Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago."
Before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Paul?"
"Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you. The note said, "Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean."
I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.
Never underestimate the impression you may make on others. Whose life have you touched today? Why not pass this on, I just did.
Hands started going up. He said, "I am going to give this to one of you, but first, let me do this." He proceeded to crumple the bill up.
He then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air.
"Well, he replied what if I do this?" He dropped it on the ground, and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty.
"Now, who still wants it?" Still hands went into the air.
He said, "My friends, you all have learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it, because, it did not decrease in value. It was still worth 20 dollars."
"Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel that we are worthless, but, no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do, or whom we know, but by whom we are. You are special, don't ever forget it!"