The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Stories of Inspiration

#75

When I was only 18 months old, I was diagnosed with lead poisoning. I was supposed to end up in the hospital in a wheelchair.

My parents told me that the day I was brought into the hospital, my face was yellow and I wouldn’t stop crying. The doctor said it was permanent. But in just one month, I went back to the doctor, and he said the lead poisoning was completely gone. My parents had prayed for me throughout the whole month, hoping it would go away.

My dad always drank.

My older brother and I always got scared of him when he came home drunk. One day, my dad had to go to the hospital because he drank too much. He was in the hospital for one month, and I prayed every day for him to get better. My dad was in pain and agony, and no medicine made him feel better. By the time my dad was able to come home, the doctor said he had one year to live.

My dad is now 52, and it has been six years. My dad stopped drinking when I got into second grade. It was a miracle. Ever since, my dad never drank again.

The doctor told me 11 years ago that I would be in a wheelchair, unable to talk, see, move or do anything. Yet in second grade, I was entered in a Talented Artist Program; in fifth grade, I was in honors classes; in sixth grade I was in a play and on two softball teams; and in seventh grade, I am in a play, am president of my class, and I am in a Documentary Film Club.

I thank God every day for the blessings he gave me. He is what motivates me and inspires.

-Marta C., 7th-grader-

#76

A Lesson In Patience

https://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/the-chinese-bamboo-story-a-lesson-in-patience/

#77

Christian The Lion

Australian John Rendall and his friend Ace Berg bought the lion cub from Harrods in London in 1969 when the world famous store had an exotic animals department. Herrods had gotten the cub from Illfracombe zoo and it was on display at the store in cage when spotted by Rendall and Berg.

Christian lived in the basement of Rendall’s flat in Chelsea and for a year was a pampered cat. And a clean one too, according to Rendall. He unfailingly used a very large kitty litter box and was jointly cared for by Rendall, Berg, and two of their female friends.

Christian eventually grew to nearly 200 pounds and started growing a mane, which made him look fearsome even though he was very friendly and accompanied his owners to all kinds of events. He became a feature at Rendall’s furniture store and one day Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna walked into the store and saw Christian. They were actors who had been in the film Born Free, the true story of a lion cub named Elsa that was successfully rehabilitated into the wild in Africa by conservationist George Adamson and his wife Joy.

It was decided that Adamson and Africa might be the next destination for Christian. Adamson was cautious because Elsa had been an African lion born in Africa. Christian was from London and had lived a very different first year of life.

In Africa, Christian befriended a lion from the Born Free film named Boy. Adamson added a female lion to the friendships and began the process of educating Christian about the wild.

Rendell and Berg would visit from time to time to check on Christian’s progress but it was in 1974 that Adamson told them that Christian had finally adapted to the wild. He had a litter of cubs, did not return to the camp very often and was the leader of his pride (Boy had been shot and killed in a tragic event near the camp.)

Upon hearing the news, Rendell and Berg decided they would make a final trip to say goodbye even though Adamson told them it might be a waste of time. Christian had not been seen in nine months. But when the two men arrived in Kenya Adamson told them that Christian and his pride of lionesses and cubs had arrived the night before, almost as though he had known they were coming. Adamson said Christian was sitting on his favorite rock outside the camp waiting for them. The reunion, as seen on the video, was one of overwhelming joy and tears. Afterwards Adamson warned that the lionesses didn’t seem too pleased with what was going on so it might be time to leave. It was the last time that Christian was ever seen.

Watch a video of Christian and his lifelong family at YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVNTdWbVBgc&feature=player_embedded

#78

Communion on the moon -Eric Metaxas-

Buzz Aldrin on lunar surface July 20th, 1969

Forty years ago two human beings changed history by walking on the surface of the moon. But what happened before Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong exited the Lunar Module is perhaps even more amazing, if only because so few people know about it. "I’m talking about the fact that Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon. Some months after his return, he wrote about it in Guideposts magazine.

And a few years ago I had the privilege of meeting him myself. I asked him about it and he confirmed the story to me, and I wrote about in my book “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask).”

The background to the story is that Aldrin was an elder at his Presbyterian Church in Texas during this period in his life, and knowing that he would soon be doing something unprecedented in human history, he felt he should mark the occasion somehow, and he asked his minister to help him. And so the minister consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine. And Buzz Aldrin took them with him out of the Earth’s orbit and on to the surface of the moon.

He and Armstrong had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes when Aldrin made the following public statement:

Buzz Aldrin

“This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion. Here is his own account of what happened:

"In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup.

Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.’

I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly.

I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility . It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.

And of course, it’s interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon - and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the ‘Love that moves the Sun and other stars.’"

#79

Laus Deo… a history lesson

In Washington DC, there can never be a building of greater height than the Washington Monument…
this is a LAW.

On the aluminum cap, atop the Washington Monument in Washington DC, are two words: Laus Deo. No one can see these words. In fact, most visitors to the monument are totally unaware they are even there and for that matter, probably couldn’t care less.

These words have been there for many years; they are 555 feet, 5.125 inches high, perched atop the monument, facing skyward to the Father of our nation, overlooking the 69 square miles which comprise the District of Columbia, capital of the United States of America.

Top of the Washington Monument Laus Deo! Two seemingly insignificant, unnoticed words. Out of sight and, one might think, out of mind, but very meaningfully placed at the highest point over what is the most powerful city in the most successful nation in the world.

So, what do those two words, in Latin, composed of just four syllables and only seven letters, possibly mean? Very simply, they say…

“Praise be to God!”

Though construction of this giant obelisk began in 1848, when James Polk was President of the United States, it was not until 1888 that the monument was inaugurated and opened to the public. It took twenty five years to finally cap the memorial with a tribute to the Father of our nation, “Laus Deo… Praise be to God!”

From atop this magnificent granite and marble structure, visitors may take in the beautiful panoramic view of the city with it’s division into four major segments. From that vantage point, one can also easily see the original plan of the designer, Pierre Charles l’Enfant… a perfect cross imposed upon the landscape, with the White House to the north. The Jefferson Memorial is to the south, the Capitol to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west.

Pastor Jeff Strite looking at Laus Deo A cross you ask? Why a cross? What about separation of church and state? Yes, a cross; separation of church and state was not, is not, in the Constitution. So, read on . How interesting and, no doubt, intended to carry a profound meaning for those who bother to notice.

Praise be to God! Within the monument itself are 898 steps and 50 landings. As one climbs the steps and pauses at the landings the memorial stones share a message! On the 12th Landing is a prayer offered by the City of Baltimore; on the 20th is a memorial presented by some Chinese Christians; on the 24th a presentation made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia quoting Proverbs 10:7, Luke 18:16 and Proverbs 22:6.

Praise be to God!

When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4th, 1848, deposited within it were many items including the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society. Praise be to God! Such was the discipline, the moral direction, and the spiritual mood given by the founder and first President of our unique democracy .“One Nation, Under God.”

George Washington’s Prayer - have you ever read it? If not, do so now.

The Washington Monument in Washington DC

“Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United states at large.” And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Laus Deo!

When one stops to observe the inscriptions found in public places all over our nation’s capitol, he or she will easily find the signature of God, as it is unmistakably inscribed everywhere you look.

You may forget the width and height of “Laus Deo,” it’s location, or the architects… but no one who reads this will be able to forget it’s meaning, or these words: “Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” – Psalm 127:1

-Washington Monument by Peter Krogh-

#80

Dear Mom & Dad

This is the first chance I had to write to you. I’m sorry if I made you worry. I want you to know that all is well and I arrived safe and sound at Camp Heaven. Everything around me is more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.

The trip was short. I got here just after I closed my eyes and fell asleep. It was as if no time had past at all.

I miss you so very much. I was told to tell you not to worry because I would be seeing you soon. Please pass this letter on to all my relatives, friends at home, and at school.

I arrived standing before a huge gate.

A Beautiful Angel was there waiting to greet me; he had very large wide wings protruding from his shoulders and was wearing a whiter than snow robe with a golden sash around his waist. A Sparkling Halo circled above his head; his whole being glowed as bright as the sun. I was able to see his face; it was unlike any face I had ever seen before…perfect, soft, and gentle. He greeted me with a loving smile. I asked him who he was; he answered with a low and echoed voice:

“My name is Gabriel. I am an Archangel and Messenger of God.”

I could hardly believe what I was seeing: a real live angel! He extended his arms to me; I rushed and fell right into them. He embraced and held me tight, then said: “Welcome home Michael!”

He held my body close to his. I was engulfed in Love, and a profound peace; joy flowed throughout my whole body!

Mom and Dad, don’t feel bad but the love I felt was a thousand times stronger than anything I ever felt before.

He then said: “Come Michael, all your brothers and sisters are eager to see and greet you. Grab on to my cloak.”

We traveled through the air for a short while and landed on this wonderful outdoor arena that looked like a King’s Palace all shiny and bright. A large group of men, women, and children had gathered. There were kinds of animals milling around. I noticed there were doggies too. I was so thrilled to see doggies. I saw lots of Black Labs, just like our Smoky Bear.

Gabriel put his arm around my shoulder and announced: “Children, this is your new brother Michael; welcome him home!”

Everyone cheered and applauded louder than a crowd at a sports stadium; they all came to greet me and gave me lots of hugs and kisses. I felt like a Super Star! Gabriel then said: “OK, enough kissing and hugging, it’s time to celebrate!”

I started hearing the sound of music playing but didn’t know where it was coming from. I looked up; descending from the sky was an army of Celestial Angels playing the most beautiful and enchanting music I had ever heard. Each one had a different instrument: a trumpet, harp, bell, and others instruments. The Celestial Music permeated the entire palace.

Then, suddenly,a huge table and chairs appeared in the center of the palace; they glistened like gems! The table was longer than a football field and filled with a assortment of all different kinds of fruit, vegetables, and breads; the spread was enormous!

Gabriel seated at the head table stood, lifted his wine glass high and said: "Children, I hereby propose a toast to welcome the arrival of God’s new adopted son, our new brother, and new addition to The Family of God, Michael! The crowd lifted their glasses and shouted: “Here! Here!” and sipped the wine.

The Angels started playing a tremendous joyous sounding song. Everyone shouted out say: “Welcome Home Michael! Welcome Home! Michael!” Gabriel then said: “Hallelujah! It’s time to eat, drink, and be merry! Let the celebration and feast begin!”

Mom and Dad, I’m in Heaven! It’s more wonderful and beautiful than words could ever express!

Although I miss you and all my friends very much, please know that I am as happy as I ever could possibly have imagined. Everyone is always filled with Joy and Laughter and truly show their Love and concern toward one anther.

Gabriel told me this will be my ‘Eternal Permanent New Home and Family!’ I can stay here forever and never have to worry again about getting sick, growing old, or have bad things happen.

Please be well and take care of yourself! It’s just like when you sent me away to those other camps for the summer, except this one is the greatest one of them all and will never end.

I am in Heaven and here is where I was meant to be, where I belong, and where I will live in love forever and ever!

Well, I gotta go now; they’re calling my name to join in on another exciting outdoor game. I’ll try to write again soon but it’s hard to stop from all the fun I’m having.

I love you both so very much!

Your son, Michael

-By Milton Lopez Delgado-

#81

Worse than a bad decision

Do you know why 95% of people out there never “have enough” of anything and find themselves lost, confused, and constantly searching for the reason WHY?

The answer is simple…

“Most people will loose more to indecision than they will to a bad decision.”
– Andrew Carnegie

This is not only the truth; it is the Number One reason people remain unsuccessful in their lives. Even the unsuccessful people aware of this principle remain unconvinced of how powerful decisions are and how debilitating indecision can be.

Let me ask you this…

If someone asked you to give up the next 20 years of your life, without being paid, how long would it take you to make that decision?

Maybe you know the story of Andrew Carnegie (believed to be the world’s first Billionaire - see footnote below).

He called a young cub reporter into his office and asked him to devote 20 years to interviewing only the world’s richest people in order to share ‘The Secret’ of wealth, success, and happiness with the rest of the world.

But, did you know that Mr. Carnegie secretly held a stopwatch beneath his desk and gave Napoleon Hill only 60 seconds to answer yes or no before he would lose the opportunity forever?

Mr. Carnegie knew that if Napoleon required more time to think about it then he was the wrong guy.

You see, Mr. Carnegie knew that ‘Successful People’ make decisions quickly.

Napoleon Hill took 32 seconds to say YES… and his lack of indecision led to the writing of “Think and Grow Rich,” the best-selling book responsible for helping to create an estimated One Million Millionaires!

Born into poverty in 1883, Napoleon Hill rose to become one of the world’s most distinguished and respected authors of all time. He moved from newspaper reporter to law student to working for Andrew Carnegie, and became a confidant and adviser to businessmen and presidents. Hill has counted among his many associates Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and hundreds of other world leaders.

Andrew Carnegie, Philanthropist

Can you imagine becoming the richest person in the world and then giving your money away? That’s exactly what Andrew Carnegie did. After retiring in 1901 at the age of 66 as the world’s richest man, Andrew Carnegie wanted to become a philanthropist, a person who gives money to good causes. He believed in the “Gospel of Wealth,” which meant that wealthy people were morally obligated to give their money back to others in society.

#82

The Wolves Within

An old Grandfather, whose grandson came to him with anger at a schoolmate who had done him an injustice, said,

"Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.

But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times."

He continued,

“It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.”

“But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eye and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”

The Grandfather solemnly said, “The one I feed.”

#83

The Glasses

Mother’s father worked as a carpenter. On this particular day, he was building some crates for
the clothes his church was sending to some orphanage in China.

On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to find his glasses, but they were gone. When he mentally replayed his earlier actions, he realized what happened; the glasses had slipped out of his pocket unnoticed and fallen into one of the crates, which he had nailed shut. His brand new glasses were heading for China!

The Great Depression was at it’s height and Grandpa had six children. He had spent $20 for those glasses
that very morning. He was upset by the thought of having to buy another pair.

“It’s not fair,” he told God as he drove home in frustration.

“I’ve been very faithful in giving of my time and money to your work, and now this.”

Several months later, the director of the orphanage was on furlough in the United States.

He wanted to visit all the churches that supported him in China, so he came to speak one Sunday at my grandfather’s small church in Chicago. The missionary began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting the orphanage.

“But most of all,” he said, "I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year.

You see, the Communists had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses. I was desperate. Even if I had the money, there was simply no way of replacing those glasses.

Along with not being able to see well, I experienced headaches every day, so my coworkers and I were much in prayer about this. Then your crates arrived. When my staff removed the covers, they found a pair of glasses lying on top.

The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. Then, still gripped with the wonder of it all, he continued: “Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as though they had been custom-made just for me! I want to thank you for being a part of that.”

The people listened, happy for the miraculous glasses. But the missionary surely must have confused their church with another, they thought. There were no glasses on their list of items to be sent overseas.

But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, an ordinary carpenter realized the Master Carpenter had used him in an extraordinary way.

#84

My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.

Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it.

Scars are a testament to life.

Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph.

Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy.

They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out.

But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself.

And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks. -G. Snow-

#85

Will Rogers Humorous Observations

Will Rogers, who died in a 1935 plane crash with his best friend, Wylie Post, was probably the greatest political sage this country ever has known.

  1. Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco.

  2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

3… There are two theories to arguing with a woman… Neither works.

  1. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

  2. Always drink upstream from the herd.

  3. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

  4. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back into your pocket.

  5. There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.

  6. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

  7. If you’re riding’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.

  8. Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier’n puttin’ it back.

  9. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

About Growing Older

First ~ Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

Second ~ The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

Third ~ Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me; I want people to know ‘why’ I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren’t paved.

Fourth ~ When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra.

Fifth ~ You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.

Sixth ~ I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.

Seventh ~ One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.

Eighth ~ One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been.

Ninth ~ Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.

Tenth ~ Long ago, when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it’s called golf.

And, finally ~ If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you are old.

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#86

Precious Lord: Birth of a song

Back in 1932, I was 32 years old and a fairly new husband. My wife, Nettie and I were living in a little apartment on Chicago’s Southside. One hot August afternoon I had to go to St. Louis, where I was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting. I didn’t want to go. Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child. But a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis. I kissed Nettie good-bye, clattered downstairs to our Model A and, in a fresh Lake Michigan breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66.

However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, had forgotten my music case.

I wheeled around and headed back. I found Nettie sleeping peacefully. I hesitated by her bed; something was strongly telling me to stay. But eager to get on my way, and not wanting to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of the room with my music.

The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on me to sing again and again. When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up with a Western Union telegram. I ripped open the envelope. Pasted on the yellow sheet were the words: YOUR WIFE JUST DIED. People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out. I rushed to a phone and called home.

All I could hear on the other end was “Nettie is dead. Nettie is dead.”

When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. I swung between grief and joy. Yet that night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little boy together, in the same casket. Then I fell apart. For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done me an injustice. I didn’t want to serve Him any more or write gospel songs. I just wanted to go back to that jazz world I once knew so well.

But then, as I hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought back to the afternoon I went to St. Louis. Something kept telling me to stay with Nettie. Was that something God? Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died. From that moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him.

But still I was lost in grief.

Everyone was kind to me, especially a friend, Professor Frye, who seemed to know what I needed. On the following Saturday evening he took me up to Madam Malone’s Poro College, a neighborhood music school. It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows. I sat down at the piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys.

Something happened to me then I felt at peace. I feel as though I could reach out and touch God. I found myself playing a melody, one I’d never heard or played before, and the words into my head-they just seemed to fall into place:

“Precious Lord, take my hand,
lead me on, let me stand!
I am tired, I am weak,
I am worn, Through the storm,
through the night lead me on to the light,
Take my hand, precious Lord, Lead me home.”

The Lord gave me these words and melody. He also healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power. And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.

-Thomas A. Dorsey- Gospel Songwriter

#87

Angels in the alley

Diane, a young Christian University student, was home for the summer. She had gone to visit some friends one evening and time passed quickly as each shared their various experiences of the past year.

She ended up staying longer than planned, and had to walk home alone. She wasn’t afraid, because it was a small town and she lived only a few blocks away.

As she walked along under the tall elm trees, Diane asked “God” to keep her safe from harm and danger. When she reached the alley, which was a short cut to her house, she decided to take it, however, halfway down the alley she noticed a man standing at the end as though he were waiting for her. She became uneasy and began to pray, asking for “God’s” protection. Instantly a comforting feeling of quietness and security wrapped around her, she felt as though someone was walking with her.

When she reached the end of the alley, she walked right past the man and arrived home safely.

The following day, she read in the newspaper that a young girl had been raped in the same alley, just twenty minutes after she had been there. Feeling overwhelmed by this tragedy and the fact that it could have been her, she began to weep.

Thanking the Lord for her safety and to help this young woman, she decided to go to the police station. She felt she could recognize the man, so she told them her story. The police asked her if she would be willing to look at a lineup to see if she could identify him. She agreed and immediately pointed out the man she had seen in the alley the night before. When the man was told he had been identified, he immediately broke down and confessed.

The officer thanked Diane for her bravery and asked if there was anything they could do for her.

She asked if they would ask the man one question. Diane was curious as to why he had not attacked her. When the policeman asked him, he answered, “Because she wasn’t alone. She had two tall men walking on either side of her.”

#88

There are aspects of the Lord that are better felt than telt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA8VJh0UJtg

“God is the God of the animals in a far lovelier way, I suspect, than many of us dare to think, but he will not be the God of a man by making a good beast of him.” -George MacDonald-

#89

Flying with no hands

Oxford and Cambridge have now decided to remove the words CAN’T and IMPOSSIBLE from their dictionary.

Jessica Cox, 25, a girl born without arms, stands inside an aircraft. The girl from Tucson , Arizona got the Sport Pilot certificate lately and became the first pilot licensed to fly using only her feet. Jessica Cox of Tucson was born without arms, but that has only stopped her from doing one thing: using the word “can’t.”

Her latest flight into the seemingly impossible is becoming the first pilot licensed to fly using only her feet.

With one foot manning the controls and the other delicately guiding the steering column, Cox, 25, soared to achieve a Sport Pilot certificate.

Her certificate qualifies her to fly a light-sport aircraft to altitudes of 10,000 feet.

She’s a good pilot. She’s rock solid," said Parrish Traweek, 42, the flying instructor at San Manuel’s Ray Blair Airport . Parrish Traweek runs PC Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Services and has trained many pilots, some of whom didn’t come close to Cox’s abilities.

When she came up here driving a car," Traweek recalled, “I knew she’d have no problem flying a plane.”

Oxford and Cambridge have now decided to remove the words CAN’T and IMPOSSIBLE from their dictionary

#90

The Old Fisherman -Mary Bartels Bray-

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out-patients at the clinic. One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. “Why, he’s hardly taller than my eight-year-old,” I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face - lopsided from swelling, red and raw.

Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, "Good evening. I’ve come to see if you’ve a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there’s no bus 'til morning. "He told me he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success, no one seemed to have a room. “I guess it’s my face… I know it looks terrible, but the doctor says with a few more treatments…”

For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: “I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning.”

I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. “No thank you. I have plenty.” And he held up a brown paper bag. When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn’t take a long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury. He didn’t tell it by way of complaint. In fact, every other sentence was prefaced with a thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going.

At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children’s room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, “Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won’t put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair.” He paused a moment and then added, “Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don’t seem to mind.” I told him he was welcome to come again.

And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they’d be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 am, and wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.

In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish or oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious.

When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning.

“Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!”

Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illness would have been easier to bear. I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.

Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse. As she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, “If this were my plant, I’d put it in the loveliest container I had!” My friend changed my mind. “I ran short of pots,” she explained, “and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting out in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden.” She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in Heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. “He won’t mind starting in this small body.”

All this happened long ago - and now, in God’s garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand.

Our Lives are not determined by what happened to us, but by how we react to what happens, not by what life brings us but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results.

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#91

A lesson in faith - Charles Blondin-

The amazing story of Charles Blondin, a famous French tightrope walker, is a wonderful illustration of what true faith is.

Blondin’s greatest fame came on September 14, 1860, when he became the first person to cross a tightrope stretched 11,000 feet (over a quarter of a mile) across the mighty Niagara Falls. People from both Canada and America came from miles away to see this great feat.

He walked across, 160 feet above the falls, several times… each time with a different daring feat - once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and blindfolded. One time he even carried a stove and cooked an omelet in the middle of the rope!

A large crowd gathered and the buzz of excitement ran along both sides of the river bank. The crowd “Oohed and Aahed!” as Blondin carefully walked across - one dangerous step after another - pushing a wheelbarrow holding a sack of potatoes.

Then a one point, he asked for the participation of a volunteer. Upon reaching the other side, the crowd’s applause was louder than the roar of the falls!

Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed his audience: “Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?”

The crowd enthusiastically yelled, “Yes! You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. We believe!”

“Okay,” said Blondin, “Who wants to get into the wheelbarrow.”

As far as the Blondin story goes, no one did at the time!

This unique story illustrates a real life picture of what faith actually is. The crowd watched these daring feats. They said they believed. But… their actions proved they truly did not believe.

#92

A prayer

Heavenly Father, help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

#93

This is from today’s CAC newsletter:

Indwelling Spirit

A Constant Grace
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to reveal to us the truth of our being so that the way of our being can match it. — Wm. Paul Young [1]

The love in you—which is the Spirit in you—always somehow says yes. (See 2 Corinthians 1:20.) Love is not something you do; love is something you are. It is your True Self. Love is where you came from and love is where you’re going. It’s not something you can buy. It’s not something you can attain. It’s the presence of God within you, called the Holy Spirit or what some theologians name uncreated grace.

You can’t manufacture this by any right conduct, dear reader. You can’t make God love you one ounce more than God already loves you right now. You can go to church every day for the rest of your life. God isn’t going to love you any more than God loves you right now.

You cannot make God love you any less, either—not an ounce less. Do the most terrible thing and God wouldn’t love you less. You cannot change the Divine mind about you! The flow is constant, total, and 100 percent toward your life. God is for you.

We can’t diminish God’s love for us. What we can do, however, is learn how to believe it, receive it, trust it, allow it, and celebrate it, accepting Trinity’s whirling invitation to join in the cosmic dance.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (c. 1090–1153) wrote, “Inasmuch as the soul becomes unlike God, so it becomes unlike itself.” [2] Bernard has, of course, come to the same thing I’m trying to say here: the pattern within the Trinity is the same as the pattern in all creation. And when you return to this same pattern, the flow will be identical.

Catherine LaCugna (1952–1997) ended her giant theological tome God for Us with this one simple sentence:

The very nature of God, therefore, is to seek out the deepest possible communion and friendship with every last creature on this earth. [3]

That’s God’s job description. That’s what it’s all about. And the only thing that can keep you out of this divine dance is fear or self-hatred. What would happen in your life—right now—if you fully accepted what God has created?

Suddenly, this is a very safe universe. You have nothing to be afraid of. God is for you. God is leaping toward you! God is on your side, honestly more than you are on your own.

Gateway to Presence:
If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

[1] Wm. Paul Young, Trinity: The Soul of Creation , session 7 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2017), MP4 download.

[2] Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons on the Song of Songs , 82.5. This translation is from William Harmless, Mystics , (Oxford University Press: 2008), 55.

[3] Catherine Mowry LaCugna, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (HarperSanFrancisco: 1993), 411.

Adapted from Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 193-194.

Image credit: The Miraculous Haul of Fishes (detail), Henry Ossawa Tanner, between 1913 and 1914, National Academy of Design, New York, NY.

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#94

How to be happy

Are you almost disgusted with life, little man?
I’ll tell you a wonderful trick that will bring you contentment, if anything can
Do something for somebody, quick!

Are you awfully tired with play, little girl?
Wearied, discouraged, and sick -
I’ll tell you the loveliest game in the world,
Do something for somebody, quick!

Though it rains like the rain of the flood, little man
and the clouds are forbidding and thick,
You can make the sun shine in your soul, little man
Do something for somebody, quick!

Though the stars are like brass overhead, little girl,
and the walks like a well-heated brick
and our earthly affairs in a terrible whirl,
Do something for somebody, quick!