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Heavenly Raindrops

My sweet dad went to heaven two years ago today.  I wrote this poem the morning after he died.  I post it again as a tribute to the finest man I ever knew!  Although I miss him, I wouldn’t want him to return to this earth and all his suffering for anything.  Miss you Daddy!  Hoping we will see you soon!

Real heroes in battles
Are often unsung
Those that bravely defend
Yet refuse recognition when done.

 My dad was one of those
A hero, no doubt
Suffering all kinds of wars
But giving others’ praise was his shout.

 The kind of warrior
Who rare did complain
When the battles were fierce
He would let his faith alone sustain.

 A contradiction, of sorts
Though champion for sure:
Brave enough to conquer
Yet kind enough, our hearts he did stir.

 Touching lives everywhere
With his gentle ways

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
May 31, 2002

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to outpatients 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 my 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 a.m. and I 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 and 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.

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.

 

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
May 29, 2002

It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now.

Everybody’s gone, except for a few joggers on the beach.  Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts…and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds.  As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, ‘Thank you.  Thank you.’

In a few short minutes the bucket is empty.  But, Ed doesn’t leave.

He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place.

When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away.  And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like ‘a funny old duck,’ as my dad used to say. Or, ‘a guy who’s a sandwich shy of a picnic,’ as my kids might say. To onlookers, he’s just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They can seem altogether unimportant …. maybe even a lot of nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters.

Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida. That’s too bad. They’d do well to know him better.

His full name:   Eddie Rickenbacker.  He was a famous hero back in World War II.  On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down.  Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft.

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks.  Most of all, they fought hunger.  By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water.  They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were.

They needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose. Time dragged.  All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft.

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap.  It was a seagull!

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move.  With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck..  He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal – a very slight meal for eight men – of it.  Then they used the intestines for bait.  With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait … and the cycle continued.  With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found and rescued (after 24 days at sea).

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first life-saving seagull.  And he never stopped saying, ‘Thank you.’  That’s why almost every Friday night he would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

 

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
Vintage Dilbert May 28, 2002

Vintage Dilbert
May 28, 2002

When you get to heaven, God is not going to ask you why you weren’t more like Mother Teresa, Billy Graham or Bono. He’s likely to ask you why you weren’t more like you. Your responsibility and source of real freedom and success is to discover who you are. Lead with your own unique talents and personality. Be authentically you and let God use you.

Remember the classic movie, Forrest Gump. At one part, Jenny asks, “What are you gonna be when you grow up?” and Forrest says, “Why can’t I be me?”

Theologian Frederick Buechner once told a graduating class:

“The voice we should listen to most, as we choose a vocation, is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us the gladdest? What can we do that leaves us with the strongest sense of sailing true north? Is it making things with our hands out of wood or stone or paint or canvas?” Or is it making something we hope like truth out of words? Or is it making people laugh or weep in a way that cleanses their spirit? I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it is a good thing, and it is our thing, and it is the calling voice that we were made to answer with our lives.”

Can you trust what makes you “glad? Could that really be the voice of your “calling?”

“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him…. The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him….” – Thomas Merton

By Dan Miller--as seen in Love Your Work
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
May 30, 2002

The Keeper of the Spring was a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the western slopes of the Alps. The old gentleman had been hired many years ago by a young Town Council to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water.

By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, the mill wheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants was picturesque beyond description.

Years passed. One evening the Town Council met for its semi-annual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man’s eye caught the salary figure being paid the obscure Keeper of the Spring. Said the Keeper of the Purse: “Who is this old man? Why do we keep him on year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know the strange ranger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn’t necessary any longer! By unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man’s services.

For several weeks, nothing changed. By early autumn, the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A couple of days later, the water was much darker.

Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was soon detected. The mill wheels moved slower, and some finally ground to a halt. Swans left, as did the tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.

Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they hired back the old Keeper of the Spring……and within just a few weeks, the veritable river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps once again.

 

From Peter Marshall's book, “Mr. Jones, Meet the Master”

Especially Made

“Mommy, I’m getting nervous.” That was my son, Gabriel. We were the only ones in the car. Daddy was at work, and siblings were just dropped off at the grandparents’ house. We were on our way to a boys’ birthday party, running late from getting lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood. I assured him that I would stay with him at the party. We rang the doorbell, but the house was quiet. As I guessed, everyone had gathered in the backyard. The boys, all around 6 to 7 years old, were running around playing with toy guns. Gabriel stuck with me, like a fly on a wall.

Army MenHe became interested in a bag of army men toys and began to set up his soldiers on the patio table. A couple of the boys joined him, and I quickly whispered in his ear, “It’s ok if they move things around. They just…

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