One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy,sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
"Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
Put The Glass Down ==================
A lecturer was giving a lecture to his students on stress management.Â He raised a glass of water and asked the audience, "How heavy do you think this glass of water is?"Â The students' answers ranged from 20g to 500gm.
"It does not matter on the absolute weight.Â It depends on how long you hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it is OK. If I hold it for an hour, I will have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you will have to call an ambulance.
It is the exact same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."
If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, we will not be able to carry on, the burden becoming increasingly heavier.Â What you have to do is to put the glass down, rest for a while before holding it up again.
We have to put down the burden periodically, so that we can be refreshed and are able to carry on.
So before you return home from work tonight, put the burden of work down.Â Don't carry it back home.Â You can pick it up tomorrow.
Whatever burdens you are having now on your shoulders, let it down for a moment if you can.
Pick it up again later when you have rested.
Rest and relax.Â Life is short, enjoy it!
The other day, someone at a store in our town read that a methamphetamine lab had been found in an old farmhouse in the adjoining county and he asked me a rhetorical question, "Why didn't we have a drug problem when you and I were growing up?"
I replied: I had a drug problem when I was young:
I was drug to church on Sunday morning.
I was drug to church for weddings and funerals.
I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather.
I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults.
I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher, or if I didn't put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me.
I was drug out to pull weeds in mom's garden and flower beds and cockleburrs out of dad's fields.
I was drug to the homes of family, friends, and neighbors to help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard, repair the clothesline, or chop some firewood;
and, if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, she would have drug me back to the woodshed.
Those drugs are still in my veins; and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, and think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin; and, if today's children had this kind of drug problem, America would be a better place. - author unknown
The Trouble Tree By Author Unknown
I hired a carpenter to help me restore an old farmhouse. He had a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.
On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of some branches with both hands. As he opened the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.
Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier. "Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So, I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again." Then he smiled and said, "Funny thing is, when I come out in the morning to pick 'em up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."
T-shirt with holes in it, jeans, and no shoes.Â This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Â Kind of esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.
Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students but are not sure how to go about it.
One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat. The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat. By now, people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Â Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit, and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet.
By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.
About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill.
Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. Â He walks with a cane and, as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves that you can't blame him for what he's going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?
It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. Â The minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do. And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty, he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won't be alone.
Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister gains control, he says, "What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget."
"Be careful how you live. Â You may be the only Bible some people will ever read".
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question.
"When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. 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 comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes, in the way other people treat that child."
Then he told the following story: Shay and his father had 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. Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play.
The boy looked around for guidance and, getting none, he took matters into his own hands 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."
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 the outfield.
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 inning, 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, 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 'cause 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 moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to 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 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 took the ball and turned and threw the ball on a high arc to right field, far beyond the reach of the first baseman.
Everyone started yelling, "Shay, run to first! Run to first!"
Never in his life had Shay ever made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second!"
By the time Shay rounded first base, the right fielder had the ball.
He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions and intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.
Shay ran toward second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases toward home.
Shay reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third!"
As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams were screaming, "Shay, 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."
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, Â perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
you should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light
then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"
"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
and now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
but my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
the red white and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
to fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.
In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just
75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two.
Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds.
He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.
I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. I loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.
The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything.
I had to have a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.
An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning.
She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people.
I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.
That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.
When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money--fully half of what I averaged every night.
As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage.
The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.
One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home
and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered.
I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.
I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids.
I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.
On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine.
The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.
When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.)
It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car-or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what. When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows.
Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door,crumbled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.
Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.
As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.
Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop...
This came in my Email. I verified it on Snopes - this actually happened.
Quote:This is a statement that was read over the PA system at the football game at Roane County High School, Kingston, Tennessee by school Principal Jody McLoud, on September 1, 2000. I thought it was worth sharing with the world, and hope you will forward it to all your friends. It clearly shows just how far this country has gone in the wrong direction.
It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games to say a prayer and play the National Anthem to honor God and Country.
Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a violation of Federal Case Law.
As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it an alternate lifestyle, and if someone is offended, that's OK.
I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing condoms and calling it safe sex. If someone is offended, that's OK.
I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a viable means of birth control. If someone is offended, it?s no problem.
I can designate a school day as earth day and involve students in activities to religiously worship and praise the goddess, mother earth, and call it ecology.
I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depict people with strong, traditional, Christian convictions as simple minded and ignorant and call it enlightenment.
However, if anyone uses this facility to honor God and ask Him to bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, Federal Case Law is violated.
This appears to be inconsistent at best, and at worst, diabolical.
Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone except God and His Commandments.
Nevertheless, as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules that they do not necessarily agree. For me to do otherwise would be inconsistent at best, and at worst, hypocritical. I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression.
For this reason, I shall render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and refrain from praying at this time. However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank God, and ask Him in the name of Jesus to bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against the law -- yet.
AND . . . one by one, the people in the stands bowed their heads, held hands with one another, and began to pray. They prayed in the stands. They prayed in the team huddles. They pray at the concession stand. And they prayed in the announcer's box. The only place they didn't pray was in the Supreme Court of the United State's of America - the seat of "justice" in the one nation under God.
Somehow, Kingston, Tennessee, remembered what so many have forgotten . . . we are given the Freedom OF Religion, not the Freedom FROM Religion.
Don't you just LOVE those folks from East Tennessee? There are two of us on this forum: myself and Patrick.
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz
Here's a Yule Story That Ought to be a Movie
By Ronnie Polaneczky
AND NOW, in time for the holidays, I bring you the best Christmas story you never heard.
It started last Christmas, when Bennett and Vivian Levin were overwhelmed by sadness while listening to radio reports of injured American troops.
"We have to let them know we care," Vivian told Bennett.
So they organized a trip to bring soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital to the annual Army-Navy football game in Philly, on Dec. 3.
The cool part is, they created their own train line to do it.
Yes, there are people in this country who actually own real trains. Bennett Levin - native Philly guy, self-made millionaire and irascible former L&I commish - is one of them.
He has three luxury rail cars. Think mahogany paneling, plush seating and white-linen dining areas. He also has two locomotives, which he stores at his Juniata Park train yard.
One car, the elegant Pennsylvania, carried John F. Kennedy to the Army-Navy game in 1961 and '62. Later, it carried his brother Bobby's body to D.C. for burial.
"That's a lot of history for one car," says Bennett.
He and Vivian wanted to revive a tradition that endured from 1936 to 1975, during which trains carried Army-Navy spectators from around the country directly to the stadium where the annual game is played.
The Levins could think of no better passengers to reinstate the ceremonial ride than the wounded men and women recovering at Walter Reed in D.C. and Bethesda, in Maryland.
"We wanted to give them a first-class experience," says Bennett. "Gourmet meals on board, private transportation from the train to the stadium, perfect seats - real hero treatment."
Through the Army War College Foundation, of which he is a trustee, Bennett met with Walter Reed's commanding general, who loved the idea.
But Bennett had some ground rules first, all designed to keep the focus on the troops alone:
No press on the trip, lest the soldiers' day of pampering devolve into a media circus. No politicians either, because, says Bennett, "I didn't want some idiot making this trip into a campaign photo op." And no Pentagon suits on-board, otherwise the soldiers would be too busy saluting superiors to relax.
The general agreed to the conditions, and Bennett realized he had a problem on his hands.
"I had to actually make this thing happen," he laughs.
Over the next months, he recruited owners of 15 other sumptuous rail cars from around the country - these people tend to know each other - into lending their vehicles for the day. The name of their temporary train?
The Liberty Limited.
Amtrak volunteered to transport the cars to D.C. - where they'd be coupled together for the round-trip ride to Philly - then back to their owners later.
Conrail offered to service the Liberty while it was in Philly. And SEPTA drivers would bus the disabled soldiers 200 yards from the train to Lincoln Financial Field, for the game.
A benefactor from the War College ponied up 100 seats to the game - on the 50-yard line - and lunch in a hospitality suite.
And corporate donors filled, for free and without asking for publicity, goodie bags for attendees:
From Woolrich, stadium blankets. >From Wal-Mart, digital cameras. From Nikon, field glasses. >From GEAR, down jackets.
There was booty not just for the soldiers, but for their guests, too, since each was allowed to bring a friend or family member.
The Marines, though, declined the offer. "They voted not to take guests with them, so they could take more Marines," says Levin, choking up at the memory.
Bennett's an emotional guy, so he was worried about how he'd react to meeting the 88 troops and guests at D.C.'s Union Station, where the trip originated. Some GIs were missing limbs. Others were wheelchair-bound or accompanied by medical personnel for the day.
"They made it easy to be with them," he says. "They were all smiles on the ride to Philly. Not an ounce of self-pity from any of them. They're so full of life and determination."
At the stadium, the troops reveled in the game, recalls Bennett. Not even Army's lopsided loss to Navy could deflate the group's rollicking mood.
Afterward, it was back to the train and yet another gourmet meal - heroes get hungry, says Levin - before returning to Walter Reed and Bethesda.
"The day was spectacular," says Levin. "It was all about these kids. It was awesome to be part of it."
The most poignant moment for the Levins was when 11 Marines hugged them goodbye, then sang them the Marine Hymn on the platform at Union Station.
"One of the guys was blind, but he said, 'I can't see you, but man, you must be f---ing beautiful!' " says Bennett. "I got a lump so big in my throat, I couldn't even answer him."
It's been three weeks, but the Levins and their guests are still feeling the day's love.
"My Christmas came early," says Levin, who is Jewish and who loves the Christmas season. "I can't describe the feeling in the air." Maybe it was hope.
As one guest wrote in a thank-you note to Bennett and Vivian, "The fond memories generated last Saturday will sustain us all - whatever the future may bring."
God bless the Levins.
And bless the troops, every one.
I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie. He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Down syndrome. I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade. The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truckstop germ;" the pairs of white shirted businessmen on expense accounts who think every truckstop waitress wants to be flirted with.
I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks. I shouldn't have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my trucker regulars had adopted him as their official truckstop mascot. After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table. Our only problem was convincing him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus the dishes and glasses onto the cart and meticulously wipe the table with a practiced flourish of his rag. If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.
Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truckstop. Their social worker, which stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was the probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home.
That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work. He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Down syndrome often had heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months. A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery and doing fine. Frannie, my head waitress, let out a war whoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news. Belle Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of the 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table. Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a withering look. He grinned.
"OK, Frannie, what was that all about?" he asked. "We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay." "I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?"
Frannie quickly told Belle Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery, then sighed. "Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be ok," she said, "but I don't know how he and his mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is."
Belle Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables. Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do. After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand a funny look on her face.
"What's up?" I asked. "I didn't get that table where Belle Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off," she said, "This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup." She handed the napkin to me, and three twenty dollar bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed "Something For Stevie". "Pony Pete asked me what that was all about," she said, "so I told him about Stevie and his mom and everything, and Pete and Tony looked at each other and they ended up giving me this." She handed me another paper napkin that had "Something For Stevie" scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds. Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply "truckers."
That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work. His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called 10 times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy. I arranged to have his mother bring him to work, met them in the parking lot, and invited them both in to celebrate his day back. Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting.
"Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast," I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. "Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate you coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me." I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room. I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins.
"First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess," I said. I tried to sound stern. Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had "Something for Stevie" printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table. Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother. "There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. Happy Thanksgiving."
Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well.
But you know what was funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table.
Best worker I ever hired.
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.
Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it. In his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.
It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.
Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.
If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy.
"Today is a gift, that's why it is called the present."
In Phoenix, Arizona, a 26-year-old mother stared Down at her 6 year old son, who was dying of Terminal leukemia.
Although her heart was filled with sadness, She also had a strong feeling of determination. Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up & Fulfill all his dreams. Now that was no longer possible. The leukemia would see to that. But she still Wanted her son's dream to come true.
She took her son's hand and asked, "Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be once you grew up?
Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?"
Mommy, "I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up."
Mom smiled back and said, "Let's see if we can make your wish come true." Later that day she went to her local fire department in Phoenix, Arizona, where she met Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Phoenix. She explained her son's final wish and asked if it might be possible to give her 6 year old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.
Fireman Bob said, "Look, we can do better than That. Â If you'll have your son ready at seven o'clock Wednesday morning, we'll make him an honorary Fireman for the whole day.
We can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards! And if you'll give us his sizes, we'll get a real fire uniform for him, with a real fire hat - not a toy -- One-with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots.
They're all manufactured right here in Phoenix, so we can get them fast." Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck.
Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station.
He was in heaven.
There were three fire calls in Phoenix that day and Billy got to go out on all three calls. He rode in the different fire engines, the Paramedic's van, and even the fire chief's car.
He was also videotaped for the local news program.
Having his dream come true, with all the Love and attention that was lavished upon him, so deeply touched Billy, that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible.
One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept - that no one should die alone, began to call the family members to the hospital.
Then she remembered the day Billy had spent as a Fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition.
The chief replied, "We can do better than that.
We'll be there in five minutes. Will you please do me a favor? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system, that there is not a fire? It's the department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will you open the window to his room?
About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Billy's third floor open window-------- 16 fire-fighters climbed up the ladder into Billy's room.
With his mother's permission, they hugged him and held him and told him how much they LOVED him.
With his dying breath, Billy looked up at the fire chief and said, "Chief, am I really a fireman now?"
"Billy, you are, and the Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your Â hand," the chief said.
With those words, Billy smiled and said, "I know, He's been holding my hand all day, and the angels have been singing.. Â "
He closed his eyes one last time.
REAL NEWSPAPER ADS
FREE YORKSHIRE TERRIER.
8 years old. Hateful little dog. Bites.
1/2 Cocker Spaniel, 1/2 sneaky neighbor's dog.
Mother, AKC German Shepherd.
Father, Super Dog...able to leap tall fences in a single bound.
FOUND DIRTY WHITE DOG.
Looks like a rat ... been out a while.
Better be a reward.
COWS, CALVES: NEVER BRED.
Also 1 gay bull for sale.
$300 Hardly used, call Chubby.
California grown - 89 cents lb.
JOINING NUDIST COLONY!
Must sell washer and dryer $300.
WEDDING DRESS FOR SALE.
WORN ONCE BY MISTAKE.
AND THE BEST ONE:
FOR SALE BY OWNER:
Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica, 45 volumes.
$1,000 or best offer.
No longer needed, got married last month.
Wife knows everything.
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. --Thomas Jefferson
I asked God to take away my habit. God said, No. It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. God said, No. His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary
I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No. Patience is a byproduct of tribulations; it isn't granted, it is learned.
I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No. I give you blessings; Happiness is up to you.
I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.
I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No. You must grow on your own!, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No. I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.
I asked God to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me. God said...Ahhhh, finally you have the idea.
The baggy yellow shirt had long sleeves, four extra-large pockets trimmed in black thread and snaps up the front. It was faded from years of wear, but still in decent shape. I found it in 1963 when I was home from college on Christmas break, rummaging through bags of clothes Mom intended to give away. "You're not taking that old thing, are you?" Mom said when she saw me packing the yellow shirt. "I wore that when I was pregnant with your brother in 1954!"
"It's just the thing to wear over my clothes during art class, Mom. Thanks!" I slipped it into my suitcase before she could object. The yellow shirt became a part of my college wardrobe. I loved it. After graduation, I wore the shirt the day I moved into my new apartment and on Saturday mornings when I cleaned. The next year, I married. When I became pregnant, I wore the yellow shirt during big-belly days. I missed Mom and the rest of my family, since we were in Colorado and they were in Illinois . But that shirt helped. I smiled, remembering that Mother had worn it when she was pregnant, 15 years earlier.
That Christmas, mindful of the warm feelings the shirt had given me, I patched one elbow, wrapped it in holiday paper and sent it to Mom. When Mom wrote to thank me for her "real" gifts, she said the yellow shirt was lovely. She never mentioned it again.
The next year, my husband, daughter and I stopped at Mom and Dad's to pick up some furniture. Days later, when we uncrated the kitchen table, I noticed something yellow taped to its bottom. The shirt!
And so the pattern was set.
On our next visit home, I secretly placed the shirt under Mom and Dad's mattress. I don't know how long it took for her to find it, but almost two years passed before I discovered it under the base of our living-room floor lamp. The yellow shirt was just what I needed now while refinishing furniture. The walnut stains added character.
In 1975 my husband and I divorced. With my three children, I prepared to move back to Illinois . As I packed, a deep depression overtook me. I wondered if I could make it on my own. I wondered if I would find a job. I paged through the Bible, looking for comfort. In Ephesians, I read, "So use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will be standing up."
I tried to picture myself wearing God's armor, but all I saw was the stained yellow shirt. Slowly, it dawned on me. Wasn't my mother's love a piece of God's armor? My courage was renewed.
Unpacking in our new home, I knew I had to get the shirt back to Mother. The next time I visited her, I tucked it in her bottom dresser drawer.
Meanwhile, I found a good job at a radio station. A year later I discovered the yellow shirt hidden in a rag bag in my cleaning closet. Something new had been added. Embroidered in bright green across the breast pocket were the words "I BELONG TO PAT."
Not to be outdone, I got out my own embroidery materials and added an apostrophe and seven more letters. Now the shirt proudly proclaimed, "I BELONG TO PAT'S MOTHER." But I didn't stop there. I zig-zagged all the frayed seams, then had a friend mail the shirt in a fancy box to Mom from Arlington , VA. We enclosed an official looking letter from "The Institute for the Destitute," announcing that she was the recipient of an award for good deeds. I would have given anything to see Mom's face when she opened the box. But, of course, she never mentioned it.
Two years later, in 1978, I remarried. The day of our wedding, Harold and I put our car in a friend's garage to avoid practical jokers. After the wedding, while my husband drove us to our honeymoon suite, I reached for a pillow in the car to rest my head. It felt lumpy. I unzipped the case and found, wrapped in wedding paper, the yellow shirt. Inside a pocket was a note: "Read John 14:27-29. I love you both, Mother."
That night I paged through the Bible in a hotel room and found the verses: "I am leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't fragile like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really love me, you will be very happy for me, for now I can go to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do, you will believe in me."
The shirt was Mother's final gift. She had known for three months that she had terminal Lou Gehrig's disease. Mother died the following year at age 57.
I was tempted to send the yellow shirt with her to her grave. But I'm glad I didn't, because it is a vivid reminder of the love-filled game she and I played for 16 years. Besides, my older daughter is in college now, majoring in art. And every art student needs a baggy yellow shirt with big pockets.
The Journey Of A Mother
For those who are fortunate enough to still be blessed by having your Mom with you, this is beautiful...For those who aren't...it is even more beautiful. It takes my breath away.
The young mother set her foot on the path of life. "Is this the long way?" she asked. And the guide said "Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning."
But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years.
So she played with her children, she fed them and bathed them, and taught them how to tie their shoes and ride a bike and reminded them to feed the dog, and do their home work and brush their teeth. The sun shone on them, and the young Mother cried, "Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."
Then the nights came, and the storms, and the path was sometimes dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother dre w them close and covered them with her arms, and the children said, "Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come."
And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary . But at all times she said to the children, "A little patience and we are there." So the children climbed, and as they climbed they learned to weather the storms.
And with this, she gave them strength to face the world. Year after year, she showed them compassion, understanding, hope, but most of all...unconditional love.
And when they reached the top they said, "Mother, we would not have done it without you."
The days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she became little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And the mother, when she lay down at night, looked up at the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned so much and are now passing these traits on to their children."
And when the way became rough for her, they lifted her, and gave her their strength, just as she had given them hers.
One day they came to a hill, and beyond the hill, they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide.
And mother said: "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk with dignity and pride, with their heads held high, and so can their children after them. And the children said, "You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates."
And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: "We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence."
Your Mother is always with you.
She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she's the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick and perfume that she wore, she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not feeling well, she's your breath in the air on a cold winter's day. She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow, she is Christmas morning .
Your Mother lives inside your laughter.
And she's crystallized in every tear drop. A mother shows every emotion ...happiness, sadness, fear, jealousy, love, hate, anger, helplessness, excitement, joy, sorrow.. . and all the while, hoping and praying you will only know the good feelings in life.
She's the place you came from, your first home, and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not space...not even death!
Story by Bruce Vincent
For those of us who sometimes find ourselves having doubts about our President, here is an excellent piece--- worth every minute it takes to read it. This is from a man, Bruce Vincent, from Montana who received an award from the President. He writes:
I've written the following narrative to chronicle the day of the award ceremony in DC. I'm still working on a press release but the White House press corps has yet to provide a photo to go with it. When the photo comes I'll ship it out. When you get done reading this you'll understand the dilemma I face in telling this story beyond my circle of close friends.
Stepping into the Oval Office, each of us was introduced to the President and Mrs. Bush. We shook hands and participated in small talk. When the President was told that we were from Libby, Montana, I reminded him that Marc Racicot is our native son and the President offered his warm thoughts about Governor Racicot. I have to tell you, I was blown away by two things upon entering the office.
First, the Oval Office sense of 'place' is unreal. The President later shared a story of Russian President Putin entering the room prepared to tackle the President in a tough negotiation and upon entering the atheist muttered his first words to the President and they were "Oh, my God."
I concurred. I could feel the history in my bones. Second, the man that inhabits the office engaged me with a firm handshake and a look that can only be described as penetrating. Warm, alive, fully engaged, disarmingly penetrating. I was admittedly concerned about meeting the man. I think all of us have an inner hope that the most powerful man in our country is worthy of the responsibility and authority that we bestow upon them through our vote.
I admit that part of me was afraid that I would be let down by the moment - that the person and the place could not meet the lofty expectations of my fantasy world. This says nothing about my esteem for President Bush but just my practical realization that reality may not match my 'dream.'
Once inside the office, President Bush got right down to business and, standing in front of his desk, handed out the awards one at a time while posing for photos with the winners and Mrs. Bush. With the mission accomplished, the President and Mrs. Bush relaxed and initiated a lengthy, informal conversation about a number of things with our entire small group. He and the First Lady talked about such things as the rug in the office. It is traditionally designed by the First Lady to make a statement about the President, and Mrs. Bush chose a brilliant yellow sunburst pattern to reflect 'hope.' President Bush talked about the absolute need to believe that with hard work and faith in God there is every reason to start each day in the Oval Office with hope. He and the First Lady were asked about the impact of the Presidency on their marriage and, with an arm casually wrapped around Laura, he said that he thought the place may be hard on weak marriages but that it had the ability to make strong marriages even stronger and that he was blessed with a strong one.
After about 30 or 35 minutes, it was time to go. By then we were all relaxed and I felt as if I had just had an excellent visit with a friend. The President and First Lady made one more pass down the line of awardees, shaking hands and offering congratulations. When the President shook my hand I said, "thank you Mr. President and God bless you and your family." He was already in motion to the next person in line, but he stopped abruptly turned fully back to me, gave me a piercing look, renewed the vigor of his handshake and said, "Thank you - and God bless you and yours as well."
On our way out of the office we were to leave by the glass doors on the west side of the office. I was the last person in the exit line. As I shook his hand one final time, President Bush said, "I'll be sure to tell Marc hello and give him your regards."
I then did something that surprised even me. I said to him, "Mr. President, I know you are a busy man and your time is precious. I also know you to be a man of strong faith and have a favor to ask you."
As he shook my hand he looked me in the eye and said, "Just name it." I told him that my step-Mom was at that moment in a hospital in Kalispell, Montana, having a tumor removed from her skull and it would mean a great deal to me if he would consider adding her to his prayers that day. He grabbed me by the arm and took me back toward his desk as he said, "So that's it. I could tell that something is weighing heavy on your heart today. I could see it in your eyes. This explains it."
From the top drawer of his desk he retrieved a pen and a note card with his seal on it and asked, "How do you spell her name?" He then jotted a note to her while discussing the importance of family and the strength of prayer. When he handed me the card, he asked about the surgery and the prognosis. I told him we were hoping that it is not a recurrence of an earlier cancer and that if it is they can get it all with this surgery.
He said, "If it's okay with you, we'll take care of the prayer right now. Would you pray with me?" I told him yes and he turned to the staff that remained in the office and hand motioned the folks to step back or leave. He said, "Bruce and I would like some private time for a prayer."
As they left he turned back to me and took my hands in his. I was prepared to do a traditional prayer stance - standing with each other with heads bowed. Instead, he reached for my head with his right hand and pulling gently forward, he placed my head on his shoulder. With his left arm on my mid back, he pulled me to him in a prayerful embrace.
He started to pray softly. I started to cry. He continued his prayer for Loretta and for God's perfect will to be done. I cried some more. My body shook a bit as I cried and he just held tighter. He closed by asking God's blessing on Loretta and the family during the coming months. I stepped away from our embrace, wiped my eyes, swiped at the tears I'd left on his shoulder, and looked into the eyes of our president. I thanked him as best I could and told him that me and my family would continue praying for he and his.
As I write this account down and reflect upon what it means, I have to tell you that all I really know is that his simple act left me humbled and believing. I so hoped that the man I thought him to be was the man that he is. I know that our nation needs a man such as this in the Oval Office. George W. Bush is the real deal. I've read Internet stories about the President praying with troops in hospitals and other such uplifting accounts. Each time I read them I hope them to be true and not an Internet perpetuated myth. This one, I know to be true. I was there. He is real. He has a pile of incredible stuff on his plate each day - and yet he is tuned in so well to the here and now that he 'sensed' something heavy on my heart. He took time out of his life to care, to share, and to seek God's blessing for my family in a simple man-to-man, father-to-father, son-to-son, husband-to-husband, Christian- to-Christian prayerful embrace. He's not what I had hoped he would be. He is, in fact, so very, very much more.
We demand more uplift stories.
Can you hear me?
Are you listenin' any more?
Hello God, if we're still on speakin' terms,
Can you help me like before?.
I have questioned your existence,
My resistance leaves me cold.
Can you help me go the distance?
Hello God. Hello, hello.
This old world has gone to pieces,
Can we fix it? Is there time?
Hate and violence just increases,
We're so selfish, cruel and blind.
We fight and kill each other,
In your name, defending you.
Do you love some more than others?
We're so lost and confused.
Hello God, are you out there?
Can you hear us?
Are you listenin' any more?
Hello God, if we're still on speakin' terms,
Can you help us like before?.
Oh, the free will you have given,
We have made a mockery of.
This is no way to be livin'.
We're in great need of your love.
Â (Hello, hello.)
Hello God, can you grant us,
Love enough to make amends?
Is there still a chance,
That we could start again?
Hello God, we've learned our lesson.
Dear God, don't let us go.
More than ever,
Hello God. Hello, Hello.
Â Hello God, we really need you,
We can't make it without you.
We beseech you,
In the name of all that's true.
Hello God, please forgive us,
For we know not what we do.
Hello God, give us one more chance,
To prove ourselves to you.
Written by Dolly Parton
I was sitting alone in one of those loud, casual steak houses that you find all over the country.
You know the type--a bucket of peanuts on every table, shells littering the floor, and a bunch of perky college kids racing around with long neck beers and sizzling platters.
Taking a sip of my iced tea, I studied the crowd over the rim of my glass.? My gaze lingered on a group enjoying their meal.
They wore no uniform to identify their branch of service, but they were definitely "military:" clean shaven, cropped haircut, and that "squared away" look that comes with pride.
Smiling sadly, I glanced across my table to the empty seat where my husband usually sat.
It had only been a few months since we sat in this very booth, talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East.
That was when he made me promise to get a sitter for the kids, come back to this restaurant once a month and treat myself to a nice steak.
In turn he would treasure the thought of me being here, thinking about him until he returned home I fingered the little flag pin I constantly wear and wondered where he was at this very moment.
Was he safe and warm?? Was his cold any better?? Were my letters getting through to him?
As I pondered these thoughts, high pitched female voices from the next booth broke into my thoughts.
"I don't know what Bush is thinking about.? Invading Iraq.? You'd think that man would learn from his old man's mistakes.? Good lord.
What an idiot!? I can't believe he is even in office.? You do know, he stole the election."
I cut into my steak and tried to ignore them, as they began an endless tirade running down our president.
I thought about the last night I spent with my husband, as he prepared to deploy.? He had just returned from getting his smallpox and anthrax shots.
The image of him standing in our kitchen packing his gas mask still gives me chills.
Once again the women's voices invaded my thoughts.
"It is all about oil, you know. Our soldiers will go in and rape and steal all the oil they can in the name of 'freedom'.
Hmmm!? I wonder how many innocent people they'll kill without giving it a thought?? It's pure greed, you know."
My chest tightened as I stared at my wedding ring.? I could still see how handsome my husband looked in his "mess dress" the day he slipped it on my finger.
I wondered what he was wearing now.? Probably his desert uniform, affectionately dubbed "coffee stains" with a heavy bulletproof vest over it.
"You know, we should just leave Iraq alone.? I don't think they are hiding any weapons. In fact, I bet it's all a big act just to increase the president's popularity.
That's all it is, padding the military budget at the expense of our social security and education.
And, you know what else?
We're just asking for another 9-11.? I can't say when it happens again that we didn't deserve it."
Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched gathering outside our base.
Did no one appreciate the sacrifice of brave men and women, who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom??
Do they even know what "freedom" is?
I glanced at the table where the young men were sitting, and saw their courageous faces change.
They had stopped eating and looked at each other dejectedly, listening to the women talking.
"Well, I, for one, think it's just deplorable to invade Iraq, and I am certainly sick of our tax dollars going to train professional baby-killers we call a military."
Professional baby-killers?? I thought about what a wonderful father my husband is, and of how long it would be before he would see our children again.
That's it!? Indignation rose up inside me.? Normally reserved, pride in my husband gave me a brassy boldness I never realized I had.?
Tonight one voice will answer on behalf of our military, and let her pride in our troops be known.
Sliding out of my booth, I walked around to the adjoining booth and placed my hands flat on their table.
Lowering myself to eye level with them, smilingly said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation.
You see, I'm sitting here trying to enjoy my dinner alone.
And, do you know why?
Because my husband, whom I love with all my heart, is halfway around the world defending your right to say rotten things about him."
"Yes, you have the right to your opinion, and what you think is none of my business.
However, what you say in public is something else, and I will not sit by and listen to you ridicule MY country, MY president, MY husband, and all the other fine American men and women who put their lives on the line, just so you can have the "freedom" to complain.? Freedom is an expensive commodity, ladies.
Don't let your actions cheapen it."
I must have been louder that I meant to be, because the manager came over to inquire if everything was all right.
"Yes, thank you," I replied.
Then, turning back to the women, I said, "Enjoy the rest of your meal."
As I returned to my booth applause broke out.? I was embarrassed for making a scene, and went back to my half eaten steak.
The women picked up their check and scurried away.
After finishing my meal, and while waiting for my check, the manager returned with a huge apple cobbler ala mode.
"Compliments of those soldiers," he said.? He also smiled and said the ladies tried to pay for my dinner, but that another couple had beaten them to it.
When I asked who, the manager said they had already left, but that the gentleman was a veteran, and wanted to take care of the wife of "one of our boys."
With a lump in my throat, I gratefully turned to the soldiers and thanked them for the cobbler.
Grinning from ear to ear, they came over and surrounded the booth.
"We just wanted to thank you, ma'am.
You know we can't get into confrontations with civilians, so we appreciate what you did."
As I drove home, for the first time since my husband's deployment, I didn't feel quite so alone.
My heart was filled with the warmth of the other diners who stopped by my table, to relate how they, too, were proud of my husband, and would keep him in their prayers.
I knew their flags would fly a little higher the next day.
Perhaps they would look for more tangible ways to show their pride in our country, and the military who protect her.
And maybe, just maybe, the two women who were railing against our country, would pause for a minute to appreciate all the freedom America offers, and the price it pays to maintain it's freedom.
As for me, I have learned that one voice CAN make a difference.
Maybe the next time protesters gather outside the gates of the base where I live, I will proudly stand on the opposite side with a sign of my own.
It will simply say, "Thank You!"
One day, the father of a very wealthy family took hisÂ son on a trip to the country with the express purposeÂ of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.Â
On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"Â
"It was great, Dad."Â
"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.Â
"Oh yeah," said the son.Â
"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?"Â asked the father.Â
The son answered:Â
"I saw that we have one dog and they had four.Â
We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.Â
We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.Â
Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.Â
We have a small piece of land to live on and theyÂ have fields that go beyond our sight.Â
We have servants who serve us, but they serve othersÂ
We buy our food, but they grow theirs.Â
We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."Â
The boy's father was speechless.Â
Then his son added, "Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are."Â
Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what weÂ don't have.Â
Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends!
Â Two thousand one, nine eleven
Â Three thousand plus arrive in heaven
Â As they pass through the gate,
Â Thousands more appear in wait
Â A bearded man with stovepipe hat
Â Steps forward saying, "Lets sit, lets chat"
Â They settle down in seats of clouds
Â A man named Martin shouts out proud
Â "I have a dream!" and once he did
Â The Newcomer said, "Your dream still lives."
Â Groups of soldiers in blue and gray
Â Others in khaki, and green then say
Â "We're from Bull Run, Yorktown, the Maine"
Â The Newcomer said, "You died not in vain."
Â From a man on sticks one could hear
Â "The only thing we have to fear.
Â The Newcomer said, "We know the rest,
Â trust us sir, we've passed that test."
Â "Courage doesn't hide in caves
Â You can't bury freedom, in a grave,"
Â The Newcomers had heard this voice before
Â A distinct Yankees twang from Hyannisport shores
Â A silence fell within the mist
Â Somehow the Newcomer knew that this
Â Meant time had come for her to say
Â What was in the hearts of the five thousand plus that day
Â "Back on Earth, we wrote reports,
Â Watched our children play in sports
Â Worked our gardens, sang our songs
Â Went to church and clipped coupons
Â We smiled, we laughed, we cried, weÂ fought
Â Unlike you, great we're not"
Â The tall man in the stovepipe hat
Â Stood and said, "Don't talk like that!
Â Look at your country, look and see
Â You died for freedom, just like me"
Â Then, before them all appeared a scene
Â Of rubbled streets and twisted beams
Â Death, destruction, smoke and dust
Â And people working just 'cause they must
Â Hauling ash, lifting stones,
Â Knee deep in hell, but not alone
Â "Look! Blackman, Whiteman, Brownman, Yellowman
Â Side by side helping their fellow man!"
Â So said Martin, as he watched the scene
Â "Even from nightmares, can be born aÂ dream."
Â Down below three firemen raised
Â The colors high into ashen haze
Â The soldiers above had seen it before
Â On Iwo Jima back inÂ '45
Â The man on sticks studied everything closely
Â Then shared his perceptions on what he saw mostly
Â "I see pain, I see tears,
Â I see sorrow -- but I don't see fear."
Â "You left behind husbands and wives
Â Daughters and sons and so many lives
Â are suffering now because of this wrong
Â But look very closely. You're not really gone.
Â All of those people, even those who've never met you
Â All of their lives, they'll never forget you
Â Don't you see what has happened?
Â Don't you see what you've done?
Â You've brought them together, together as one.
Â With that the man in the stovepipe hat said
Â "Take my hand," and from there he led
Â three thousand plus heroes, Newcomers to heaven
Â On this day, two thousand one, nine eleven
Â Author UNKNOWN