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Especially Made

Some time last year, I was chatting with a woman from my church. She had said to me, “I don’t know you well. And, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I saw you the other day, and it seemed by your face that there’s just something heavy on your heart.” She really took a risk by saying that. Like she said, we didn’t know each other well, and I could’ve just given her a canned “Everything is fine” answer and avoided crossing her path in the future. But, in her words, she was attempting to reach out when my facial expression that she had noticed before probably said, “Please leave me alone.” I praise God that this sister in The Lord was willing to step out of her comfort zone in order to be used by Him.

Thank you, Target.This conversation got me thinking. What do I look like when I’m out…

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
February 28, 2001

Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

“He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, ‘Here you go,'” Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, “like what’s going on here?” Diaz says. “He asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?'”

Diaz replied: “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me … hey, you’re more than welcome.

“You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help,” Diaz says.

Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.

“The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi,” Diaz says. “The kid was like, ‘You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'”

“No, I just eat here a lot,” Diaz says he told the teen. “He says, ‘But you’re even nice to the dishwasher.'”

Diaz replied, “Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?”

“Yea, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way,” the teen said.

Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. “He just had almost a sad face,” Diaz says.

The teen couldn’t answer Diaz — or he didn’t want to.

When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill ’cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.”

The teen “didn’t even think about it” and returned the wallet, Diaz says. “I gave him $20 … I figure maybe it’ll help him. I don’t know.”

Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen’s knife — “and he gave it to me.”

Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, “You’re the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch.”

“I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.”

Written for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.
http://www.npr.org/2008/03/28/89164759/a-victim-treats-his-mugger-right

 

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
February 27, 2008

A few months before I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me the word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger.. He was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn’t seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to her room and read her books (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home… not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and  my mother blush.

My Dad was a teetotaler who didn’t permit alcohol in the home, not even for cooking. But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked… and NEVER asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you were to walk into my parent’s den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name?….

We just call him… “TV.”
He has a younger sister now. We call her “Computer.”

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

Vintage Dilbert
February 25, 2012

Some thoughtful information for those who are daughters, were daughters, have daughters, intend to have daughters, or intend to date a daughter.

Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you’d better be delivering a package, because you’re sure not picking anything up.

Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter’s body, I will remove them.

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: you may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilizing a “barrier method” of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate: When it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

Rule Five: In order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is “early.”

Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process that can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don’t you do something useful, like change the oil in my car?

Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and goose down parka zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which feature chain saws are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are better.

Rule Nine: Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a potbellied, balding, middle-aged, dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.

Rule Ten: Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy outside of Hanoi. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight, speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car. There is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.

Now go, and have a nice time…

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

Vintage Dilbert
February 25, 2013

It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, “Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday.” Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

“Jack, did you hear me?”

“Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” Jack said.

“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ‘his side of the fence,’ as he put it,” Mom told him.

“I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said.

“You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said.

“He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important… Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,” Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown.

Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time.

The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture… Jack stopped suddenly.

“What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked.

“The box is gone,” he said.

“What box? ” Mom asked.

“There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ‘the thing I value most,'” Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

“Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days,” the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package.

The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention.

“Mr. Harold Belser,” it read.

Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope.

Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside.

“Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter.

His heart racing, tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover.

Inside he found these words engraved: “Jack, thanks for your time! Harold Belser.”

“The thing he valued most… was… my time.”

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days.

“Why?” Janet, his assistant asked.

“I need some time to spend with my son,” he said.

“Oh, by the way, Janet… thanks for your time!”

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

Vintage Dilbert
February 24, 1991

Kleenex Alert!!!!   Enjoy!!       Take Care and god Bless  🙂  Kenny  T

The baggy yellow shirt had long sleeves, four extra-large pockets trimmed in black thread and snaps up the front.  It was faded from years of wear, but still in decent shape.  I found it in 1963 when I was home from college on Christmas break, rummaging through bags of clothes Mom intended to give away.

“You’re not taking that old thing, are you?”  Mom said when she saw me packing the yellow shirt.  “I wore that when I was pregnant with your brother in 1954!”

“It’s just the thing to wear over my clothes  during art class, Mom.  Thanks!” I slipped it into my suitcase before she could object.

The yellow shirt became a part of my college wardrobe.  I loved it.  After graduation, I wore the shirt the day I moved into my new apartment and on Saturday mornings when I cleaned.

The next year, I married.  When I became pregnant, I wore the yellow shirt during big-belly days.  I missed Mom and the rest of my family, since we were in Colorado and they were in Illinois. But that shirt helped.  I smiled, remembering that Mother had worn it when she was pregnant, 15 years earlier.

That Christmas, mindful of the warm feelings the shirt had given me, I patched one elbow, wrapped it in holiday paper and sent it to Mom. When Mom wrote to thank me for her “real” gifts, she said the yellow shirt was lovely.  She never mentioned it again.

The next year, my husband, daughter and I stopped at Mom and Dad’s to pick up some furniture.  Days later, when we uncrated the kitchen table, I noticed something yellow taped to its bottom.  The shirt!

And so the pattern was set.

On our next visit home, I secretly placed the shirt under Mom and Dad’s mattress.  I don’t know how long it took for her to find it, but almost two years passed before I discovered it under the base of our living-room floor  lamp.  The yellow shirt was just what I needed now while refinishing furniture.  The walnut stains added character.

In 1975 my husband and I divorced.  With my three children, I prepared to move back to Illinois.  As I packed, a deep depression overtook me.  I wondered if I could make it on my own.  I wondered if I would find a job.

I paged through the Bible, looking for comfort.  In Ephesians, I read,  “So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will be standing up.”

I tried to picture myself wearing God’s armor, but all I saw was the stained yellow shirt.  Slowly, it dawned on me.  Wasn’t my mother’s love a piece of God’s armor?  My courage was renewed.

Unpacking in our new home, I knew I had to get the shirt back to Mother.  The next time I visited her, I tucked it in her bottom dresser drawer.

Meanwhile, I found a good job at a radio  station.  A year later I discovered the yellow shirt hidden in a rag bag in my cleaning closet.  Something new had been added.  Embroidered in bright green across the breast pocket were the words “I BELONG TO PAT.”

Not to be outdone, I got out my own embroidery materials and added an apostrophe and seven more letters.  Now the shirt proudly proclaimed, “I BELONG TO PAT’S MOTHER.”  But I didn’t stop there. I zig-zagged all the frayed seams, then had a friend mail the shirt in a fancy box to Mom from Arlington, VA.  We enclosed an official looking letter from “The Institute for the Destitute,” announcing that she was the recipient of an award for good deeds.  I would have given anything to see Mom’s face when she opened the box.  But, of course, she never mentioned it.

Two years later, in 1978, I remarried.  The day of our wedding, Harold and I put our car in a friend’s garage to avoid practical jokers.  After the wedding, while my husband drove us to our honeymoon suite, I reached for a pillow in the car to rest my head. It felt lumpy.  I unzipped the case and found, wrapped in wedding paper, the yellow shirt.  Inside a pocket was a note:

“Read John 14:27-29.  I love you both, Mother.”

That night I paged through the Bible in a hotel room and found the verses:  “I am leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.  Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really love me, you will be very happy for me, for now I can go to the Father, who is greater than I am.  I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do, you will believe in me.”

The shirt was Mother’s final gift.  She had known for thre months that she had terminal Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Mother died the following year at age 57.

I was tempted to send the yellow shirt with her to her grave. But I’m glad I didn’t, because it is a vivid reminder of the love-filled game she and  I played for 16 years.  Besides, my older daughter is in college now, majoring in art.  And every art student needs a baggy yellow shirt with big pockets.

Author - Patricia Lorenz   http://www.patricialorenz.com/
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