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Encouraging

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 17, 2014

Years ago a farmer who owned land along the Atlantic seacoast constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic because of the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops. As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals.

Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. “Are you a good farmhand?” the farmer asked him.

“Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the little man.

Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer was well satisfied with the man’s work.

Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore.  Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!”

The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows..”

Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm.  To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, the doors were barred, the shutters were tightly secured, everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away.

The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 17, 2007

One day a beggar saw a proclamation posted on the palace gate. The king was giving a great dinner to honor his son. Anyone dressed in royal garments was invited. The beggar looked at the rags he was wearing and sighed. Surely only kings and their families had royal garments.

An idea crept into his mind. The audacity of it made him tremble. The beggar approached the guard at the gate saying, “Please, sire, may I speak to the king.”

“Wait here,” the guard replied.

In a few minutes, he returned. “His majesty will see you,” he said, and led the beggar in.

“You wish to see me?” asked the king.

“Yes, your majesty. I would like to attend the banquet honoring your son but I have no royal robes. Please, sir, if I may be so bold, may I have one of your old garments so that I may attend the banquet?”

“You have been wise in asking me,” the king replied. He called to his son requesting, “Take this man to your room and dress him in some of your clothes.”

The prince did and soon the beggar was clothed in royal garments that he had never dared dream or hope for.

“You are eligible to attend my father’s banquet tomorrow,”
said the prince. “But even more important, you will never need any other garments. These will last forever.”

“Oh, thank you,” cried the beggar dropping to his knees. As he started to leave, he looked back at his former clothes, a pile of dirty rags on the floor. He quickly gathered them up.

The banquet was greater than he had imagined, but he did not enjoy himself as he should. He had made a small bundle of his rags and it kept falling off his lap. As the food was passed around the beggar missed some of the feast’s delicacies.

Time however proved the prince right. The clothes given him by the prince lasted forever.

As time passed people took note of the little bundle of filthy rags that he clung to rather then the royal robes he was wearing. They spoke of him as the old rag man.

One day as he lay dying, the king came to visit him. The beggar saw the sad look on the king’s face when he looked at the small bundle of rags by the bed. He remembered the prince’s words and he wept bitterly at his folly and confessed that not leaving behind his bundle of rags had cost him a lifetime of true royalty.

In compassion the king wept with him.

Each of us has been invited into God’s royal family. To feast at God’s table and all we have to do is shed our old rags and put on the “garments” of faith provided by God’s Son, Jesus.

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 15, 2014

A young boy had just gotten his driver’s permit and asked his father, an evangelist, if they could discuss his use of the car.

The father took him into his study and said to the boy,

“I’ll make a deal with you, son. You bring your grades up from a C to a B, study your Bible a little, get your hair cut, then we’ll talk about the car.”

Well, the boy thought about that for a moment, and decided that he’d settle for the offer, and they agreed on it.

After about six weeks, the boy came back and again asked his father about using the car.

Again, they went to the study, where his father said,

“Son, I’ve been real proud of you. You’ve brought your grades up, and I’ve observed that you have been studying your Bible, and participating a lot more in the Bible study class on Sunday morning. But, I’m real disappointed, since you haven’t gotten your hair cut.”

The young man paused a moment, and then said,

“You know, dad, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair and there’s even a strong argument that Jesus had long hair.”  [The latter is probably not true]

His father replied,

“You’re right, son. Did you also notice that they all walked everywhere they went?”

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 15, 2005

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have…

My Mom used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife and no bleach, but we didn’t seem to get food poisoning.

My Mom used to defrost hamburger on the counter AND I used to eat it raw sometimes too, but I can’t remember getting E-coli.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes we had no helmets.

We played with toy guns, cowboys and Indians, army, cops and robbers, and used our fingers to simulate guns when the toy ones or my BB gun was not available.

Some students weren’t as smart as others or didn’t work hard so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade. That generation produced some of the greatest risk-takers and problem solvers. We had the freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

Almost all of us would have rather gone swimming in the lake instead of a pristine pool (talk about boring), the term cell phone would have conjured up a phone in a jail cell, and a pager was the school PA system.

We all took gym, not PE . . . and risked permanent injury with a pair of high top Ked’s (only worn in gym) instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built in light reflectors. I can’t recall any injuries but they must have happened because they tell us how much safer we are now. Flunking gym was not an option . . . even for stupid kids! I guess PE must be much harder than gym.

Every year, someone taught the whole school a lesson by running in the halls with leather soles on linoleum tile and hitting the wet spot. How much better off would we be today if we only knew we could have sued the school system.

Speaking of school, we all said prayers and the pledge and stayed in detention after school and caught all sorts of negative attention for the next two weeks. We must have had horribly damaged psyches.

I can’t understand it. Schools didn’t offer 14 year olds an abortion or condoms (we wouldn’t have known what either was anyway) but they did give us a couple of aspirin and cough syrup if we started getting the sniffles. What an archaic health system we had then. Remember school nurses? Ours wore a hat and everything.

I thought that I was supposed to accomplish something before I was allowed to be proud of myself.

I just can’t recall how bored we were without computers, PlayStation, Nintendo, X-box or 270 digital cable stations. I must be repressing that memory as I try to rationalize through the denial of the dangers could have befallen us as we trekked off each day about a mile down the road to some guy’s vacant lot, built forts out of branches and pieces of plywood, made trails, and fought over who got to be the Lone Ranger. What was that property owner thinking, letting us play on that lot? He should have been locked up for not putting up a fence around the property, complete with a self-closing gate and an infrared intruder alarm.

Oh yeah . . . and where was the Benadryl and sterilization kit when I got that bee sting? I could have been killed!

We played king of the hill on piles of gravel left on vacant construction sites and when we got hurt, Mom pulled out the 48 cent bottle of Mercurochrome and then we got our butt spanked. Now it’s a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of a $49 bottle of antibiotics and then Mom calls the attorney to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat.

We didn’t act up at the neighbor’s house either because if we did, we got our butt spanked (physical abuse) . . . and then we got our butt spanked again when we got home.

Mom invited the door to door salesman inside for coffee, kids choked down the dust from the gravel driveway while playing with Tonka trucks (remember why Tonka trucks were made tough . . . it wasn’t so that they could take the rough Berber in the family room), and Dad drove a car with leaded gas.

Our music had to be left inside when we went out to play and I am sure that I nearly exhausted my imagination a couple of times when we went on two week vacations. I should probably sue the folks now for the danger they put us in when we all slept in campgrounds in the family tent.

Summers were spent behind the push lawnmower and I didn’t even know that mowers came with motors until I was 13 and we got one without an automatic blade-stop or an auto-drive. How sick were my parents?

Of course my parents weren’t the only psychos. I recall Donny Reynolds from next door coming over and doing his tricks on the front stoop just before he fell off. Little did his Mom know that she could have owned our house. Instead she picked him up and swatted him for being such a goof. It was a neighborhood run amok.

To top it off, not a single person I knew had ever been told that they were from a dysfunctional family. How could we possibly have known that we needed to get into group therapy and anger management classes? We were obviously so duped by so many societal ills, that we didn’t even notice that the entire country wasn’t taking Prozac!

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 11, 2001

There are two days in every week about which we should not worry.
Two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is yesterday with its mistakes and cares,
Its faults and blunders, Its aches and pains.
Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday.
We cannot undo a single act we performed.
We cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.

The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow.
With its possible adversities, Its burdens,
Its large promise and poor performance.
Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.
Tomorrow’s Sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds,
but it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.
This just leaves only one day . . . Today.
Any person can fight the battles of just one day.
It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternity’s -
yesterday and tomorrow that we break down.
It is not the experience of today that drives people mad.
It is the remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday
and the dread of what tomorrow may bring.

Let us therefore live but one day at a time.

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 10, 2010

In 2003, police in Warwickshire , England , opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. It had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had clearly been abused.

In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a greyhound female, to the nearby Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary known as a willing haven for animals abandoned, orphaned or otherwise in need.  http://www.warwickshirewildlifesanctuary.co.uk/

Geoff and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved.

They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.

The dog had other ideas. No-one remembers now how it began, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It wouldn’t matter if it was a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or, probably, a rhinoceros, Jasmine would peer into the box or cage and, where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.

Geoff relates one of the early incidents. “We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them.”

“But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits. She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings.

“She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose.”

Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary’s resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and 15 rabbits.

And one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, 11 weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster mum role. Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection and makes sure nothing is matted in her fur.

“They are inseparable,” says Geoff. “Bramble walks between her legs and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It’s a real treat to see them.”

Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 8, 2014

- Kleenex Alert!!!  :-)

Soapy Smith is a twenty-four-pound calico Rex rabbit. A Rex rabbit’s coat lacks the stiff guard hairs of other breeds, resulting in a fur texture that is as soft as a cloud. People look startled when they first touch him and remark how soft he is. I’ve noticed he seems to make everyone who meets him a little softer, too.

One day, Soapy Smith and I visited a shelter for battered women located in a bedraggled section of the city. The women in the shelter looked at me through downcast eyes. No one smiled a greeting, and they appeared uninterested in Soapy’s carrier. Everyone seemed tense and ready to flee. One little girl in particular moved like a wisp in the background. Never raising her eyes, never reaching out, she drifted in and out of the gathered group. The staff informed me that she had been there for over a month and had not spoken the entire time. Nothing they tried had any effect. Her mother said she had talked at one time but not in recent memory. I didn’t want to imagine what could have happened to rob this little girl of the natural curiosity and enthusiasm so natural to childhood.

Spreading a blanket on the floor, I sat down and opened Soapy’s carrier. As the silent child circled past me, I told the group that Soapy would come to talk to them if they sat on his blanket. Several children did this, including the silent girl. In a short time, Soapy emerged from his carrier and slowly hopped from one child to another. Unlike visits at schools where the first touches produced squeals of delight, this visit was unusually quiet. After touching Soapy, these children looked down and sighed softly or smiled into their hands. Soapy continued his rounds, and the children and their mothers gradually began to talk about Soapy and ask questions.

I chatted with the women and children as I kept one eye on the little girl. She sat rigidly at the edge of the blanket, legs held stiffly out straight in front of her. She was staring hard at Soapy. It appeared that he kept making eye contact with her. He would hop from child to child, each visit taking him a little closer to the girl. I began to wonder if he was pausing to give her time to watch him. During all other visits we had given together in schools, his usual behavior was to hop around the circle letting each person pet him. When he got back to me he would wash his face and then start the circle again.

That day, I watched as Soapy finally worked his way toward the girl. She didn’t reach out to him or encourage him in any way. Rather she sat tensely, just staring.

Finally Soapy came to a stop about two inches from her thigh. He quietly reached out and laid his chin on her knee. I was astonished. While a common behavior for dogs, this is not a behavior exhibited by rabbits, especially not by this rabbit.

The child did not reach out to pet Soapy. Instead, she slowly leaned toward him. When her face was within inches of his, she carefully reached out and circled him with her arms. So softly that no one in the room could hear, she began to talk. Folded around the rabbit, she pillowed her head on his back and whispered to him. Soapy remained motionless.

I looked up and noticed that the shelter workers had stopped talking. Every adult in the room froze in place. Time seemed suspended. Then quietly the child unfolded and sat back up. Soapy sat up too, reached forward and briskly licked her knee. She did not smile. She did not reach out to him, but the rigidity of her back relaxed, and her shoulders rounded into a comfortable slope. The little girl stood up and walked over to her mother and began to suck her thumb.

The little girl reappeared when I was preparing to leave. She reached her hands out and looked me directly in the eye. I held Soapy out to her. She wrapped him in a big hug and pressed her face against him. Suspended from my hands as he was, I was concerned that he would begin to struggle. Instead he reached out his head again and laid it on the child’s shoulder. His breathing slowed and he closed his eyes. As quickly as it happened, the little girl released her hug and stepped back. As she turned away, I thought I saw the beginnings of a faint smile.

The rabbit in his cloud of soft, warm fur had touched something deep in the child – something that had died from too much hard experience. Soapy’s innocence and trust appeared to kindle those very same qualities in the little girl.

Numerous times, I’ve seen how the loving presence of an animal can heal where words have no effect. It seems the language of the heart is simple after all.

By Maureen Fredrickson
Program director for the Delta Society
Excerpted from Animals As Guides for the Soul by 
Susan Chernak McElroy © 1998, from Chicken Soup 
for the Cat & Dog Lover's Soul by Jack Canfield, 
Mark Victor Hansen, Marty Becker, D.V.M. and Carol Kline.
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