Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
October 3, 2015

The pastor of the church I attended as a young man was a distinguished, dignified and always impeccably dressed man who also happened to have a warm and compassionate heart. He was so formal and well-groomed that newcomers would expect this tall, handsome man with a PhD from an Ivy League school serving a large, affluent suburban church to be cold and distant. But he wasn’t; he was warm and sincere.

Then I had one lesson in how he remained that way.

I signed on to serve as Scripture reader, and on the first Sunday sat on a chair behind the pastor’s podium. It was rather large, semi-circular pulpit with a chair directly behind it. The pastor entered and sat down. He was, as always, impeccably dressed: blue pinstriped business suit, silk tie carefully knotted, starched white shirt with cufflinks, and on his feet, black shoes polished like mirrors. This was not a man who wore a Rolex or drove a Porsche. But he was always careful to dress well, from his pocket handkerchief to his tiepin.

Then, just before the sermon, I watched the pastor reach down and untie both of his expensive leather dress shoes. He slid his feet out of them, and then reached under the cuffs of his tailored suit. He pulled off his black dress socks as well. I was completely bewildered. He then pushed both shoes and socks to the side and stood up for his sermon. No one else knew it, but our dignified, dapper, classy pastor preached his sermon barefoot, in his tailored suit and silk tie.

When the sermon was over, he unobtrusively pulled on both shoes and socks, and left the podium.

I said nothing and just assumed he had reasons of his own. Perhaps his feet hurt? I forgot about it, especially as it did not happen again for the next few Sundays.

Then, two months later, I noticed the pastor sliding his feet out of a pair of spit-polished tasseled loafers, followed again by the socks. I was again confused and slightly amused by the contrast between the fancy business suit and the soles of his bare feet which appeared when he leaned forward with enthusiasm.

After the service ended, I went up to the still barefoot minister and respectfully asked why he did this.

The pastor looked slightly embarrassed, picked up the shoes and socks and told me a story from his student years:

“My seminary professor told me I was a fine preacher, but that I had one fault. I was too arrogant. Too proud. I remembered that. And I remember my roots, too.”

He then told me that he had grown up as a janitor’s son and took his shoes off when he visited his Dad. Those were his roots. In the years since, he had earned several degrees and his gifts had brought him to this church. He was successful and praised, but he never wanted to forget where he came from.

“Whenever I start getting too proud and smug, I look down at my shiny Brooks Brothers shoes and fancy socks and realize it’s time to take off my “successful well-dressed suit-and-tie pastor” feet and put on the feet of a janitor’s boy. It keeps me humble. It’s hard to be smug when I’m barefoot.”

And with that the pastor grinned, put on his Italian tasseled shoes and socks and left the pulpit.

by: Ken Wells © 2004
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 14, 1994

Courtesy wasn’t really optional in my childhood home. I grew up with two sisters just older than me. If I wasn’t courteous to them, they would slug me.

Yes, I saw the irony (even though in those days I thought “irony” was a shirt that needed a lot of pressing). And no, I didn’t say anything about it. That would’ve been rude.

And – let’s face it – painful.

Kathy, my youngest sister, had a strange fascination with my eating habits. She felt it was her duty to point out to our mother that I was taking more than my share of mashed potatoes, or that I was hiding my parsnips under pieces of fat from the roast beef. And whenever we traveled and Dad bought hamburgers for us to eat on the way, Kathy would intentionally wait until after I had hungrily wolfed mine down before she would start eating hers. And then she would torment me with the deliberately long, slow, luxurious mastication of her hamburger.

I thought that was rude. She said it was just good manners.

And then she stuck her bun-and-burger-and-special-sauce-covered tongue out at me.

Wanda Lynne, on the other hand, was anxious to make me a kind and courteous Lothario. Never mind that I was still years away from actually dating. Wanda Lynne wanted to make sure I would treat the girls I dated better than the boys she was dating were treating her – at least, that was my theory. So she made me open doors for her and help her into her chair at dinner. And when we walked up the hill to church she taught me to walk on the inside closest to the road. She said it was courteous for me to do this so if a car came by and splashed water or snow it would hit me before it hit the girl I was with. But I always thought she was secretly hoping an inattentive driver would come along and pick me off.

Years later I went away to college, and I remembered the things my sisters had taught me. I assumed that was the way that grown up people act, and as an 18-year-old college freshman I wanted more than anything else to act like a grown up. So as I walked into the university library for the first time, I noticed an older woman – probably at least a junior – walking behind me, and I held the door open for her.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, glaring at me. “Do you think that because I’m a woman I’m not strong enough to open a door for myself?”

I was stunned … and speechless.

She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Freshmen,” she muttered, brushing past me.

I stood there for a moment. My face was flushed and warm from embarrassment. I decided that there would be no more door opening or chair holding or closest-to-the-traffic walking for me. And if I wanted to eat the last of the mashed potatoes in the cafeteria, so be it!

As I stood there, however, another upperclassman approached the library door, her arms overloaded with textbooks. Instinctively I reached to open the door for her. I grimaced as soon as I realized what I had done, and I braced myself for the muttered invective that was sure to follow. Instead, I received a warm smile and a look of relief.

“Thanks!” she said brightly. “It’s nice to see we still have a few gentlemen around here!”

Of course, if I were REALLY a gentleman I would have offered to help her with her books. But I was still a little gun-shy, and I didn’t want to press my luck. Even so, I decided that the good feeling I got from performing an act of simple courtesy was worth the possibility of bluster. To do otherwise would be to go against a lifetime of training – not to mention rendering meaningless countless sisterly slugs. Three years later I met a beautiful freshman who actually appreciated my courtesy to her, and for 35 years we’ve been trying to out-nice each other.

I’ve been thinking about this lately, especially since September is National Courtesy Month. And I’ve noticed that while the world in which we live can be dark and sometimes foreboding, courtesy and kindness bring pleasant, refreshing light to our lives whether we are the giver, the receiver or just an interested observer. A teenager stands to give an elderly man her seat on a crowded bus. A motorist slows to allow another vehicle to merge onto the freeway smoothly and safely. A shopper with a week’s worth of groceries in his cart allows someone with only a few items to go ahead of him in the check out line. Such simple courtesies don’t necessarily change our lives, but they can certainly change the way we feel about them.

Even without the slugging.

 Author - Joseph B. Walker 
   Copyright © 2012 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 12, 2011

Bernard Mears had arrived in America in his mother’s arms.

He was two years old in 1878. The Mears family were all hard workers and made a place for themselves in the land of opportunity.

Bernie was smart and wanted to be his own boss. When Bernie was 25 he took a wife. Bernie had saved some money and decided on a dry goods and grocery store combined.

He and Marie found an empty building to rent and proceeded to fill it with inventory. There was an apartment upstairs. They were not blessed with children, so the two of them worked side by side to become established and build a trade.

Marie had a knack for arranging the merchandise to appeal to customers and Bernie didn’t mind the long hours. He was happy, life was good.

The business thrived until the great depression hit the entire country. No one had money to purchase pretty things or even food. In 1930, Marie had a heart attack and left Bernie alone.

Following Marie’s death, which Bernie felt was brought about from worry about the store, he lost interest in everything. He was keeping odd hours of opening and closing the store. He had few customers and did not make them feel welcome. Bernie wandered about the store, dusting a bit and sweeping the floor. His inventory remained almost the same, as nothing much was sold. After awhile, he stopped sweeping and dusting.

The grocery part still had canned foods but little else. Bernie was loosing weight and not eating much once his fresh meats and cheeses were depleted. A deep depression set in. He had lost Marie, his true love, and now his business seemed lost as well. Why did he want to live?

A few houses down the street lived a family who had also fallen on hard times. They seldom had three square meals a day. Julie, the youngest girl was fourteen. Julie worried about Mr. Mears getting so thin. At meal time, she would take a portion of their meager meal to Bernie. She would stay and talk to him, dusting and cleaning.

After several months Bernie began to improve. He still had no customers to speak of, but from what he had left in the store, he would sack a few cans to take to Julie’s family.

In early spring, Julie saw her father planting a garden. This gave her an idea. She suggested to Bernie to make a garden in the big space beside the store, which they had once thought would become a parking lot, and sell the produce really cheap in the store. It would help the neighbors and also Bernie to have money for new merchandise. They would plant half the garden space now and half in three weeks giving them fresh produce for a long time.

Julie prayed hard as they placed the seeds in the ground. When the seeds sprouted, Julie looked anxiously at the rows and there were no empty spots. They all came up and produced the best crop of vegetables Bernie had ever seen. Julie gave another prayer of thanks.

You might say those two had the idea for the first Dollar Store as they reduced the prices until nothing in the store cost more than a dollar with many items a penny or nickel. They soon became well known in the community for having the best prices and finest produce in town. They also extended credit to their neighbors and accepted various items as trade for merchandise.

The two of them worked hard throughout the 1930s and made a very successful business. Julie earned a salary. As the economy picked up, so did sales at the store.

Bernie was now in his 66th year. Julie was doing most of the work while Bernie clerked a bit and kept books. They had hired a man to plant and tend the garden.

One afternoon when Bernie closed his ledger, he smiled at Julie.

“We are now knee deep in black ink, Julie. Our hard work has paid off. Please give me a dollar bill.”

Julie had no idea why he wanted a dollar, but pulled one from her purse and gave it to him. Bernie smiled.

“Julie, you now own this store. I have given it much thought, and since my parents have passed and my sister married well, there is no one I want to leave it to, or who deserves it more. You saved me and the store years ago. As soon as the paperwork to transfer title to you is complete, I plan on going out and seeing the rest of this great country.”

Julie thanked him and added that she would always keep the name of Mears Family Store, and he could come back when he wanted to.

A few days later, Bernie packed and loaded his car and left among many tears and good luck wishes from the neighbors. Many postcards, letters and phone calls would be forthcoming over the years. Bernie would meet many interesting people in his travels, and view wondrous things.

Julie sighed, wiped her hands on the big white butcher apron she wore and went back to work. She sat down at Bernie’s big desk and thought to herself, who would ever imagine a Jewish man, a part Indian girl and a few seeds would have survived the worst this country could throw at them and come out on top?

We truly reap what we sow.

 Author - Clara Wersterfer, Copyright © 2008 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 10, 2010

Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named “Lucky.” Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.

Mary or Jim would go to Lucky’s toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky’s other favorite toys. Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease….in fact, she was just sure it was fatal.

She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her…. what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary’s dog through and through. If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won’t understand that I didn’t want to leave him. The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn’t even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap. Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn’t come to her when she called. It made Mary sad but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.

When Mary woke for a second she couldn’t understand what was wrong. She couldn’t move her head and her body felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life. He had covered her with his love.

Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It’s been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free. Lucky? He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.

Remember . . . live every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing from God. And never forget…. the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.

If you see someone without a smile today give them one of yours! Live simply. Love seriously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

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

Vintage Dilbert
September 4, 2015

Did you hear about the lady who was standing in a checkout line with her shopping cart heaped full? She said, “My husband’s going to be so mad that I’ve shopped all day.” The clerk replied, “I’m sure he’ll understand when you tell him about all the bargains you found.” The woman said, “Well, normally that’s true; but this morning he broke his arm, and he’s waiting in the car for me to take him to the hospital emergency room.”

People who love to shop enjoy that story and can relate to it. Shopaholics like me lose all track of time when they’re sniffing out sales in search of that illusive ultimate bargain.

But yesterday, I had a first time experience. I went to Walmart, bought the two items on my list, and was back in my car within ten minutes. It was an unfamiliar and eerie feeling to shop without a cart, spend less than ten dollars, and leave the store without checking out the sale racks. Normally, I run in for a couple of things and emerge four hours later with an empty checkbook and a forklift loaded with purchases.

I love to shop. I like it even more than triple fudge chocolate bliss surprise, double decker super duper supreme pizza, or having a weekend at home alone without kids or spouse.

Shopping is my favorite hobby and my greatest talent. I can turn a trip to the drugstore for toenail clippers into a shopping marathon. I go into a sort of shopping stupor when I walk through those automatic doors, and I rarely leave without an overflowing cart full of handy items like the industrial size cherry pitter I got for half price, or the duster on a twelve foot pole — which I’ve never used — to clean those hard to reach places. (Heck! I don’t even clean the EASY to reach places.)

I’ve found some real bargains over the years, like those cute little nets you put over paper plates to keep flies off your potato salad. Too bad I can never find them when we go on picnics. Then there were those ten-cent pantyhose. Now that’s the sort of discount you don’t see everyday. I’m sure I’ll need them eventually, even if they are iridescent orange. And how about those adorable little brushes made especially for scrubbing mushrooms! No, I never remember to dig them out when I wash mushrooms, but my husband used them to zip strip his grandmother’s old dresser once. What about the great deal I got on old Monkeys albums! At ninety-nine cents each, they were a steal, so guess what everyone on my shopping list is getting for Christmas this year? I was so proud of the fondue pot I got on sale in 1975. I haven’t had the chance to use it yet, but last month my grandson found it useful for melting crayons.

My favorite drug of choice is the Dollar Store. The last thing my hubby tells me when I leave the house is, “Stay away from the Dollar Store!” He knows I’m helpless to resist its lure as it beckons me to satisfy my addiction within its treasure-laden aisles. I can have a real shopgasm there. I’ve been known to push not one but two carts around in that fun-land. Children follow me and stare in amazement as I heap the baskets to overflowing.

I stock up on things like dog toys, potholders, extension cords, ear wax removers, and kitty litter. Sure, I don’t have a cat; but I might get one someday, and I’ll be prepared. After all, everything in the store is only one dollar, so why not splurge? What a rush! Till I reach the checkout counter and the clerk announces my total of $387.

My husband doesn’t understand about sales. He doesn’t care that I saved ten dollars. All he sees are the double digit figures in the check register. I hate the way his lips turn white and form a thin, straight line when he looks through the check book. And when the veins in his neck bulge out, I know he’s beginning to get peeved with me. At times like that, I wonder if he considers me a habit that he’d like to kick.

Tom is a twice-a-year shopper. Every Christmas Eve at 11:000 PM, he makes a five minute trip through the open-all-night drug store to pick up whatever is on the end caps of the aisles. Family members are always surprised by his unique gifts like the battery powered nose hair trimmer and the package of Snoopy band-aids I received last year. His second shopping spree takes place during the Spring equinox when he spends a total of seven minutes purchasing his new summer wardrobe.

I hate shopping with my husband because he goes into race mode once his feet hit the floor of a store. He grabs whatever is nearest the checkout counter, doesn’t try anything on, and he never uses a cart. I run to keep up, as he throws items over my arms. The next day, I inevitably must trudge back to the store to exchange it all because the shoes are three sizes too small and the shirts he picked out were size 6X.

I know better than to send him to the grocery store. I once gave him a list with three items on it and he didn’t get any of them. Instead of canned tomatoes, he brought home a can of beets. Instead of a bag of sugar, I got a bag of flour. And rather than buying oranges, he got a case of grapefruit. We HATE grapefruit. He claims the mistakes are the result of not reading labels, being in a hurry, and simply grabbing whatever looks like the item he’s after. I think he does it on purpose so I won’t send him to the store again.

Maybe I do need to become a little more like him though. Think of the time I would save if I spent less of it in search for the ultimate bargain.

Actually, I don’t need to shop to find the deal of the century. I’ve already found it — and not just the deal of this century, but of every century.

The best deal I ever got is the one God made two thousand years ago. He paid a ransom for me with the life of His only son. By sacrificing Jesus, He purchased my freedom from the power of sin and death. His blood bought eternal life for me.

I know I’ll never find a better deal in any mall on earth. The price has been paid. You too can get the same deal. The choice is yours.

Author - Marsha Jordan 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 8, 2008

“Oh, there you are, Jack,” I said as I looked up from planting a geranium.

“Where have you been?  I haven’t seen you for awhile and I was wondering about you,” I said as I washed off my hands with the hose and dried them on a rag.   I walked toward the bench to rest and visit with Jack for a while.  I had left my tea and toast on the table next to the bench that I had brought out for breakfast.

“Care for some toast, Jack?” I asked as I offered to share with him.   I knew that Jack loved almost any kind of bread and he did not hesitate to join me.  He seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to knowing when I was having a bite to eat.  At any rate, once Jack finished his bread he was content to sit and listen to whatever I had to say with very little comment and he seemed to simply enjoy my company. He didn’t appear to be a bit anxious about anything.

It occurred to me that Jack seemed to have perfected the art of listening, which is something that a lot of people could learn from him.  He just kept looking at me while moving his head now and then as if to show that he was paying attention.

I try to keep an eye on Jack because he was orphaned at an early age.  Since I began looking out for him he has lived a fairly sheltered life.  He doesn’t really know about the threats that are out there in the world.  After all, he is still just a teenager and has a lot to learn but like most teens he is very independent and doesn’t think about the dangers that abound around him.

I had a nice conversation with Jack and I cautioned him once again about the perils that exist in his world but he continued to walk around the patio completely unconcerned until the dog came over and then he decided to join me on the bench again.   Perhaps Jack is learning to be cautious after all, I thought.

I’ve learned a lot from Jack, too.  He just takes one day at a time and appears to be content to believe that all of his needs will be met.   He trusts that there will always be something to eat one way or another, whether it’s food he has to find himself or a bit of bread that is shared with him.

You see, Jack is a little bird.  I rescued him from certain death when the cat discovered him under the propane tank.  I took care of him until he had feathers and was old enough to fly.  Now he flies wherever he wants and usually soars in for a landing on my outstretched hand whenever I call his name.  He loves to splash in the homemade birdbath that I contrived from an old platter and some stones.

Jack has pretty much learned to make his own way in life now and manages to find food that is generously provided to him by our heavenly Father.  He doesn’t worry about anything.  Jack seems to have a good life.  How do I know?  A little bird told me.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or what you will drink;
nor about your body, what you will put on.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap
nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they?”
Matthew 6:25-26

Author - Pamela Perry Blaine
© July 3, 2007
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
September 4, 2004

At first, I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong; so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was there sort of like a picture of a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn’t know Him.

Later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life was like a bike ride, on a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t recall when he suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since.

When I had control, it was rather boring, and predictable . . . It was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew the exciting paths to take, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds — it was all I could do to just hang on! At times it seemed like madness. He said: “Pedal!”

And by faith I did, although I worried and was anxious. “Where are you taking me?” He laughed, but no answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure.

When I’d say, “I’m scared,” He’d lean back and touch my hand. He took me to people that had gifts that I needed. Gifts of healing, acceptance, love, and joy. So many priceless gifts to take on my journey — my Lord’s and mine. Then we were off again. He said, “Give the gifts away — they’re extra baggage now — there’ll be more gifts to come.” So I did, I gave them to people we met, and found that in giving I also received, and my burden was lighter.

I didn’t trust him at first to be in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it — but I discovered he knows how to handle even the roughest roads in my life. Now I’m learning to be quiet and pedal in the strangest places. I’m beginning to enjoy the view, the challenge of the ride, as well as the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion — Jesus Christ.

When it seems I just can’t take anymore, I keep my eyes and faith on Him. He looks at me, with a big smile, and says: “. . . Keep on Pedaling.”

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given

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