The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Stories of Inspiration

#55

Angel At Presbyterian Hospital

A couple of Wednesdays ago, I got an evening phone call from the pediatric ICU at Presbyterian Hospital, in Charlotte, NC, where I work as a child life specialist. Usually when they call at night, it means something bad has happened. This, however, was different. My coworker told me that the most amazing thing had just happened and she just had to call to tell me.

We had a patient who has really grown up in and out of the hospital. All the staff knows her and her family. She had been in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for about a month, and had been intubated - on life support. She was not doing well. The doctors had approached mom about taking her off life support the Saturday before. Mom was okay with it, and said that she’d been through so much and if was her time to go she wanted to honor that. So they had taken her off.

It was Wednesday and she was still alive. Amazing. The doctors approached mom about taking off her oxygen mask. Mom was supportive, and began praying over her daughter. The mother of another young patient who was in the bed next to her began praying with her.

The nurse practitioner went to the nurses’ station to chart that she had taken off the oxygen mask. While doing so, she looked up at the security monitor that videotapes the double doors leading into the PICU. It records anyone who may be waiting outside the doors to get in since it is a secure unit. She saw a man standing there, and it looked a little funny to her, so she decided to walk down the hall to open the double doors personally. When she opened them, no one was standing there.

She walked back down to the nurses station to finish charting, assuming he had walked away, but saw him still standing there on the monitor. So she opened the doors with a button near the nurses’ station and leaned over to see him walk in, but no one was standing there.

She pulled over another nurse and both stood staring at this man on the monitor and opening the doors to find no one there. The nurse practitioner leaned in closely to look at the man on the monitor and said, ‘Oh my gosh. That’s an angel. You can see his wings!’

They said that the sun starting shining so brightly and the whole PICU was strangely filled with light. They said he was a tall man and you could see wings behind him.

They pulled over all the staff of the PICU and the two praying mothers and everyone was staring at this man on the monitor and opening the doors to find no one there. Crying, everyone pulled out their camera phones to take pictures, but no one could get it to show up on their camera. The mother of the girl pulled out her camera phone and finally got a picture of the angel who was guarding the doors to the PICU. He turned out as a man of light. I have attached the picture from her phone.

The girl was later discharged from the hospital to go home.

A Miracle.

#56

I think I’ll add this, to my own story of inspiration. And the lesson, is to do a bit of research first. Well, I had a leak in my power steering. It’s an older car. And a couple of different mechanical “experts”, gave me quotes of $1500 - $2000 - to fix it. The big part was the rack and pinion assembly and corresponding labor - about 5 - 6 hours. Well, I did a bit of research. And mixed Valvoline max life, power steering fluid - with stop leak…with one quarter of Lucas, power steering stop leak. The last product guarantees 100%, to stop the leak. And also to recondition the rack and pinion assembly seals. Well, guess what? For a total investment of $35, it appears to have solved the problem. And if I needed mechanical repair, then I would get three estimates. This way, I can see if anyone - is too high or low.

P.S.The Lucas fuel injector deep clean…added to the gas every 3 - 4 K miles, is also great.

And here’s a quote from me. “The person with the $2K solution, won’t tell you about the $35 solution.”

1 Like
#57

Shay: God’s Plan

At a fund-raising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the school’s 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.

“Everything God 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 God’s plan reflected in my son?”

The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. “I believe,” the father answered, “that when God brings a child like Shay into the world, an opportunity to realize the Divine Plan presents itself. And it comes in the way 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 will let me play?” Shay’s father knew that most boys would not want him on their team. But the father 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 from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We are losing by six runs, and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and I’ll try to put him up 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. At the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the outfield. Although no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be 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 bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base.

Shay was scheduled to be the next at-bat. Would the team actually let Shay bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that this was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved 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 toward Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have ended the game.

Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond 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 was rounding first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman for a tag. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions had been, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head. Shay ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home.

As 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 home, stepped on home plate and was cheered as the hero, for hitting a “grand slam” and winning 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 the Divine Plan into this world."

1 Like
#58

Why would God want ME?

I’m not perfect. I have all kinds of problems. I have no ability. I have no gifts. I’m just not worthy. Why would God want me?

Well, did you know that

Moses stuttered.

David’s armor didn’t fit.

John Mark deserted Paul.

Timothy had ulcers.

Hosea’s wife was a prostitute.

Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning.

Jacob was a liar.

David had an affair.

Solomon was too rich.

Jesus was too poor.

Abraham was too old.

David was too young.

Peter was afraid of death.

Lazarus was dead.

John was self-righteous.

Naomi was a widow.

Paul was a persecutor of the church.

Moses was a murderer.

Jonah ran from God’s will.

Miriam was a gossip.

Gideon and Thomas both doubted.

Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.

Elijah was burned out.

John the Baptist was a loudmouth.

Martha was a worry-wart.

Noah got drunk.

Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse?

So did Peter, Paul - well, lots of folks did.

But God doesn’t require a job interview for salvation. He’s our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t look at financial gain or loss. He’s not prejudiced or partial, not judging, grudging, sassy, or brassy, not deaf to our cry, not blind to our need. He know who we are and what we are and loves us in spite of ourselves.

#59

Angels Came To My Rescue

My name is Bruce Van Natta, and I love to work on trucks.

I’m a self-employed diesel mechanic; also a Christian family man living out my power truck dreams and providing for my wife and four children. I never gave a second thought to the danger of working on engines that weigh thousands of pounds, until November 16, 2006.

I was working on a Peterbilt logging truck about an hour from our home. The guy I was working with, who drives the truck, asked me if I would look at one more leak before I left.

So, if you could picture one of these great big Peterbilt trucks, I slid under the front big bumper feet first. The front axle was jacked up and the right front wheel removed.

I said to him, “You jump up inside and see what the temperature of the engine is.” The axle is right across my chest at this point, maybe an inch or two above me.

The 20-ton capacity jack holding up the truck, shot out from its position. This 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of weight that’s on this axle, came down across my mid-section like a blunt guillotine, and nearly crushed me in half.

I tasted the blood in my throat when it fell on me. I looked down and could see there was less than three inches of space between the bottom of the axle and the cement.

I knew the thickest part of my body was maybe two inches thick.

I begged the man that jacked up the truck to get me out from under it. He didn’t want to because he could tell that I might have a broken back and I did.

The vertebrae in my spine were cracked the width of the axle.

I tried to pull myself out from under the truck. It was the most incredible pain you can think of. I got myself to where my head was sticking out from under the front bumper.

The next thing I did was to call out, “Lord, help me.”

I called it out again. “Lord, please help me!”

I felt strange and the pain left my body.

At that point, I was unconscious. My spirit left my body and floated to the ceiling, and was looking down at the accident scene. The man I had been working with was on his knees next to my body. I could faintly hear him saying, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’

But on each side of him, also on their knees were angels. They might have been about eight feet tall. They didn’t have wings, just very broad shoulders.

There was a bright light shining around each one of them. They didn’t move, and I never heard them say anything. They just had their arms under the truck, not holding the truck up; but had their arms angled in toward my body. There was no pain, just peace. I can’t describe the peace I felt in the garage.

I knew I had a serious choice to make.

I was definitely on the edge of life and death. There were two thoughts in my head. One was, ‘Shut your eyes and give up and die. You are just going to go to heaven anyway.’ The other voice in my head was much quieter and not much more than a whisper, ‘If you want to live, you’re going to have to fight, and you are going to have to fight hard.’

The next thing I knew, my spirit went back down into my body.

I was conscious while I was flown on a life flight to the hospital. Doctors there doubted I would survive the next few hours. My ribs were broken, my pancreas and spleen crushed, and several major arteries had been severed.

We found out from doctors later, I had five places that major arteries were completely severed. I found out from the doctors there was a medical study done in 2001. According to that study, by the University of South California, they used my case and compared it against that study. They can’t find anyone else in the world that has lived with five major arteries being severed.

I should have bled to death in a few minutes. So my thought is, the angels were there to somehow hold me together. I stayed in the hospital for over two months and survived five major surgeries. I still had overwhelming obstacles to overcome. Almost 75 percent of my small intestine was crushed in the accident and had to be removed. An adult has 18-20 feet of small intestine. I was down to less than 100 cm of small intestine.

Someone came in and told us that he didn’t expect me to live much more than a year, that I was going to starve to death.

I was losing weight very rapidly: and they were feeding me intravenously. My once 180 lb. frame dropped to 126 lbs. My family was praying and my community rallied around me. I also received an unexpected visitor in my hospital room one day.

The Lord woke up a man in New York two days in a row. This was someone that I met one time on vacation. He came and prayed for me in the hospital. He put his palm on my forehead, and he prayed the way Jesus taught us to pray. He spoke to the mountain, in this case my small intestine, ‘I command you to grow back in the name of Jesus Christ.’ I felt like 220 volts come out of his palm and into my forehead. I could feel my intestines moving around and up and down.

After nine long months of surgeries and hospital stays, I was finally able to feed myself and gained weight, back up to 170 lbs.

When I returned for testing, radiology reports and doctors confirmed that I had almost nine feet of small intestine. They said the small intestines the Lord gave back to me were twice as good as normal. They work just as if I had all of it; absorb the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients I take into my body.

Over and over, the Lord kept confounding the doctors from the point of saying I shouldn’t live. I should have bled to death. My intestines miraculously were growing back. God was showing us that miracles were happening. My pancreas rejuvenated by itself. My spleen rejuvenated by itself.

Miracle after miracle, God was just showing up. He is a miracle worker.

-Bruce Van Natta -

#60

Butch O’Hare

During the course of World War II, many people gained fame in one way or another. One man was Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. One time his entire squadron was assigned to fly a particular mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. Because of this, he would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to leave formation and return. As he was returning to the mother ship, he could see a squadron of Japanese Zeroes heading toward the fleet to attack. And with all the fighter planes gone, the fleet was almost defenseless. His was the only opportunity to distract and divert them. Single-handedly, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes and attacked them. The American fighter planes were rigged with cameras, so that as they flew and fought, pictures were taken so pilots could learn more about the terrain, enemy maneuvers, etc. Butch dove at them and shot until all his ammunition was gone, then he would dive and try to clip off a wing or tail or anything that would make the enemy planes unfit to fly. He did anything he could to keep them from reaching the American ships. Finally, the Japanese squadron took off in another direction, and Butch O’ Hare and his fighter, both badly shot up, limped back to the carrier. He told his story, but not until the film from the camera on his plane was developed, did they realize the extent he really went to, to protect his fleet. He was recognized as a hero and given one of the nation’s highest military honors. And as you may know, O’Hare Airport was named after him.

Prior to this time in Chicago, there was a man called Easy Eddie.

He was working for a man you’ve all heard about, Al Capone. Al Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic, but he was notorious for the murders he’d committed and the illegal thing’s he’d done. Easy Eddie was Al Capone’s lawyer and he was very good. In fact, because of his skill, he was able to keep Al Capone out of jail. To show his appreciation, Al Capone paid him very well. He not only earned big money, he would get extra things, like a residence that filled an entire Chicago city block. The house was fenced, and he had live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. Easy Eddie had a son. He loved his son and gave him all the best things while he was growing up; clothes, cars, and a good education. And, because he loved his son he tried to teach him right from wrong. But one thing he couldn’t give his son was a good name, and a good example.

Easy Eddie decided that this was much more important than all the riches he had given him. So, he went to the authorities in order to rectify the wrong he had done. In order to tell the truth, it meant he must testify against Al Capone, and he knew that Al Capone would do his best to have him killed. But he wanted most of all to try to be an example and to do the best he could to give back to his son, a good name. So he testified. Within the year, he was shot and killed on a lonely street in Chicago. These sound like two unrelated stories, but Butch O’Hare was Easy.

#61

Value

A popular speaker started off a seminar by holding up a $20 bill. A crowd of 200 had gathered to hear him speak. He asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”

200 hands went up.

He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.” He crumpled the bill up.

He then asked, “Who still wants it?”

All 200 hands were still raised.

“Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” Then he dropped the bill on the ground and stomped on it with his shoes.

He picked it up, and showed it to the crowd. The bill was all crumpled and dirty.

“Now who still wants it?”

All the hands still went up.

“My friends, I have just showed you a very important 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.

Many times in our lives, life crumples us and grinds us into the dirt. We make bad decisions or deal with poor circumstances. We feel worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. You are special – Don’t ever forget it!

#62

The Seasons of Life

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn to not judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall.

When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.

The second son said no – it was covered with green buds and full of promise.

The third son disagreed, he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.

The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfilment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but one season in the tree’s life.

He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are – and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life – can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.

If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfillment of your fall.

Moral:

Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.

Don’t judge life by one difficult season.

Persevere through the difficult patches and better times are sure to come.

#63

In January 2000, leaders in Charlotte , North Carolina , invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor.

Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggled with Parkinson’s disease. But the Charlotte leaders said, “We don’t expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you.” So he agreed.

After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said, "I’m reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time Magazine as the ‘Man of the Century.’

Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn’t find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn’t there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.

The conductor said, ‘Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.’

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, ‘Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are No problem. You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.’

Einstein looked at him and said, ‘Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going.’"

Having said that, Billy Graham continued, "See the suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand new suit. My children, and my grandchildren are telling me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion.

You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. But when you hear I’m dead, I don’t want you to immediately remember the suit I’m wearing.

I want you to remember this:

‘I not only know who I am… I also know where I’m going.’"

1 Like
#64

Gracefully Broken!

I was in Dollar Tree last night and there was a lady and two kids behind me in the LONG line. One was a big kid, one was a toddler. The bigger one had a pack of glow sticks and the baby was screaming for them so the Mom opened the pack and gave him one, which stopped his tears.

He walked around with it smiling, but then the bigger boy took it and the baby started screaming again.

Just as the Mom was about to fuss at the older child, he bent the glow sticks and handed it back to the baby.

As we walked outside at the same time, the baby noticed that the stick was now glowing and his brother said “I had to break it so you could get the full effect from it.”

I almost ran because l could hear God saying to me, “I had to break you to show you why I created you. You had to go through it so you could fulfill your purpose.”

That little baby was happy just swinging that “unbroken” glow stick around in the air because he didn’t understand what it was created to do which was “glow”.

There are some people who will be content just “being” but some of us that God has chosen, we have to be “broken”. We have to get sick. We have to lose a job. We go through divorce. We have to bury our spouse, parents, best friend, or our child because, in those moments of desperation, God is breaking us but when the breaking is done, then we will be able to see the reason for which we were created… so when you see us glowing just know that we have been broken but healed by his Grace and Mercy!!!

#65

14-year-old dog Abbey

Our 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month. The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so, and she dictated these words:

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.

I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.

Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith’ in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies.’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,

Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away.

Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I’m easy to find. I am wherever there is love.

Love, God

#66

Four finger pianist

What do you do when you’re born with two digits on each hand and your legs are amputated at the knees when you’re three? Well, if you’re Hee Ah Lee, you become a concert pianist.

4-Finger Pianist | Inspire 21

#67

Ears

“Can I see my baby?” the happy new mother asked. When the bundle was nestled in her arms and she moved the fold of cloth to look upon his tiny face, she gasped. The doctor turned quickly and looked out the tall hospital window. The baby had been born without ears. Time proved that the baby’s hearing was perfect. It was only his appearance that was marred.

When he rushed home from school one day and flung himself into his mother’s arms, she sighed, knowing that his life was to be a succession of heartbreaks.

He blurted out the tragedy. “A boy, a big boy … called me a freak.”

He grew up, handsome for his misfortune. A favorite with his fellow students, he might have been class president, but for that. He developed a gift, a talent for literature and music. “But you might mingle with other young people,” his mother reproved him, but felt a kindness in her heart.

The boy’s father had a session with the family physician. Could nothing be done? “I believe I could graft on a pair of outer ears, if they could be procured,” the doctor decided.

Whereupon the search began for a person who would make such a sacrifice for a young man. Two years went by.

Then, “You are going to the hospital, Son. Mother and I have someone who will donate the ears you need. But it’s a secret,” said the father.

The operation was a brilliant success, and a new person emerged. His talents blossomed into genius, and school and college became a series of triumphs. Later he married and entered the diplomatic service.

“But I must know!” He urged his father, “Who gave so much for me? I could never do enough for him.”

“I do not believe you could,” said the father, “but the agreement was that you are not to know … not yet.”

The years kept their profound secret, but the day did come … one of the darkest days that a son must endure. He stood with his father over his mother’s casket. Slowly, tenderly, the father stretched forth a hand and raised the thick, reddish-brown hair to reveal that the mother – had no outer ears.

“Mother said she was glad she never let her hair be cut,” he whispered gently, “and nobody ever thought Mother less beautiful, did they?”

Real beauty lies not in the physical appearance, but in the heart. Real treasure lies not in what that can be seen, but what that cannot be seen. Real love lies not in what is done and known, but in what that is done but not known.

#68

40 Pieces Of Advice

#69

The Old Man and the Dog

“Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!” My father yelled at me. “Can’t you do anything right?”

Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn’t prepared for another battle.

“I saw the car, Dad. Please don’t yell at me when I’m driving.”

My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.

Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil.

What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often.

The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his powers.

The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn’t lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn’t do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing.

At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived… But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone He obstinately refused to follow doctor’s orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust.

Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation.

It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue…

Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad’s
troubled mind.

But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.

The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain.

Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, “I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article.”

I listened as she read… The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world’s aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed…

Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention… Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.

I pointed to the dog “Can you tell me about him?”

The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement. “He’s a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we’ve heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow…” He gestured helplessly.

As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. “You mean you’re going to kill him?”

“Ma’am,” he said gently, “that’s our policy. We don’t have room for every unclaimed dog.”

I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. “I’ll take him,” I said…

I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch. “Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!” I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. “If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don’t want it” Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. “You’d better get used to him, Dad. He’s staying!”

Dad ignored me. “Did you hear me, Dad?” I screamed.

At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate.

We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.

Dad’s lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal.

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship.

Dad named the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad’s bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne’s cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father’s room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.

Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad’s bed… I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad’s peace of mind.

The morning of Dad’s funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

“I’ve often thanked God for sending that angel,” he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article…

Cheyenne 's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter. … …his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father. . and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all. -By Catherine Moore-

#70
#71

Graduation Speech

Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who’d rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there’s no reason we can’t
entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.

I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ?:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future.

Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-old’s I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen. -Mary Schmich-

#72

As a 22-year-old, he was hit by a truck while on a training ride for western Sydney’s Nepean triathlon in 1988.

A priest administered last rites beside the M4 motorway but Maclean survived with his back broken in three places, pelvis in four places, right arm in two places, fractured sternum, punctured lungs and a head injury.

An incomplete paraplegic, he spent four months in hospital – grieving the loss of his sporting career and dealing with pain and depression. But once he started rehab, he took on a series of challenges.

Four years after his accident, Maclean and a friend won the state two-man kayak championships. Three years later, he became the first person to complete the gruelling Hawaii Iron Man triathlon – a swim of 3.8 kilometres, cycle of 180kms and run of 42kms – in a wheelchair. Another three years later, he became the first wheelchair athlete to swim the English Channel.

At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Maclean raced on the track and the marathon in a wheelchair. He represented Australia at the Paralympics in 2000 and 2008, winning a silver medal for rowing. He became a motivational speaker and started a foundation to help wheelchair users aged under 18.

While training for the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, Maclean started a new form of therapy called NeuroPhysics Training and Rehabilitation, which used intense exercises to stimulate the nerves and help the nervous system recover some of its function. As his focus switched from winning a gold medal to walking again, he managed three faltering steps. A month later, he walked across a gym then back again.

As he improved, Maclean decided to take on the Nepean triathlon again – a 1km swim, 30km cycle and 10km run. With the help of walking poles that he discarded with 30 metres to go, Maclean finished the race with his wife and son amid emotional scenes three years ago.

“Every challenge I had ever conquered, every Everest I had ever climbed, all built to this crescendo,” he writes in the book.

“Amanda, Jack and I crossed the line, not as the finish but as the beginning of a whole new world of possibilities.”

#73
#74

Bounced Check Letter

Below is an actual letter sent to a bank. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times.

Dear Sir:

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire salary, an arrangement which, I admit, has only been in place for eight years.

You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $50 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank. My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways.

I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, prerecorded faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan repayments will, therefore and hereafter, no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete.

I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. Press buttons as follows:

1.- To make an appointment to see me.
2.- To query a missing payment.
3.- To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
4.- To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
5. -To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
6.- To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
7.- To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is required. Password will be communicated at a later date to the Authorized Contact.
8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.
9. To make a general complaint or inquiry.

The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever-so-slightly less prosperous New Year?

Your Humble Client