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Encouraging

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The world today is both an amazing and, sometimes, scary place – and those two things converge nowhere like with our children.

In bygone days, children were essentially left free to roam about with little concern for their safety. Everyone has an older relatively who would talk about the treacherous trek they’d have to make to go to school. Things like “crossing guards” didn’t exist for them.

The concept is one that makes perfect sense: a public safety officer stands guard at intersections children have to cross to make their way to school. It helps keep them safe from drivers distracted by their coffee, make-up, or the radio on their commute to work.

These guards also give kids a hopefully, friendly face to say “good morning” to each day. However, in North Carolina, winters can be cold, unforgiving, and leave people of all ages in no mood to chat.

A crossing guard for Trask Middle School, known to the kids as Ms. Minnie, is a trusted friend to the kids. She greets them warmly no matter the outside temperature and has done so for 19 years. In fact, she’s been there so long that she never expected that the adults driving by her daily post would pay attention to her.

Kayla Thomas, a teacher for a local high school, does pay attention to Ms. Minnie and was shocked to see her leading some of the kids to her car parked near the intersection she minds each morning. Stunned by what she saw, Kayla had to snap a picture.

In today’s suspicious world, seeing a crossing guard taking kids to her car might be a cause for concern, but if you look carefully you’ll see something amazing near the trunk of the car: a clothing rack full of winter coats.

As Kayla wrote on Facebook:

“Today I noticed that she had a rack of coats by her car, and signs saying “free coats” posted everywhere. It took every ounce of restraint in my body not to put the car in park and get out and hug this woman, to thank her for using her free time to keep our students safe and for giving coats to people who may not have them. There is still good in this world, despite what we see and hear everyday. People like her give the rest of us hope that we can all live in peace and focus on the things that really matter.”

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Ms. Minnie gives the coats to kids who need them, and asks for nothing in return. Her generosity is not just limited to the winter months either.

She is also known for handing out umbrellas to kids on rainy days. At the beginning of the school year, she passes out school supplies. While these gifts to the kids are surely important and wonderful, it’s her personality that truly serves them. Her positive attitude gives kids something to smile about, even those who dread going to school.

For Ms. Minnie, however, all this attention is not why she does it. No, she does what she can to make her community a better place. The kids of Wilmington are lucky to have a woman like her in their corner.

By - Joshua Patton 12/26/2017
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“So where do you think we will be going to church next month?” That became a common inquiry from my husband. We had moved to this mid-Atlantic hinterland and found ourselves in search of a new church. This mission was compounded by the fact that we knew no one. Weekly, we checked out a different church to find the perfect place to worship.

After months, we found the perfect place (or so we thought). It was close to home, had a great children’s program, and seemed to have an appropriate amount of young, growing families. I spoke with the greeter and found out who to call. The next day, Monday, I did just that.

“Hello, may I speak with Reverend Coleman?…Oh, well is there a better time to reach him? My family and I have been relocated to this area, and we really like your church and your congregation and would like the appropriate paperwork to formally join.”

The receptionist, who had been taking Reverend Coleman’s calls, told me that we could not join the church because too many families were enrolled. A new congregation was forming, however. “Perhaps you could speak with someone there,” she said. I was to call a man whom I did not know, at a place that did not exist, for a congregation that was only being formed…somewhere.

“Okay, we will go back to the church one more time, and maybe we can find out where this new group meets,” I told my husband and children. They were agreeable, mainly because we always went to breakfast after church. The draw was not the worship but the fellowship and the feast afterward. At the next Sunday mass, the homily was actually given by the new leader of the scattered flock of people. Thus, we now had a contact; her name was Mary Lou. I called her the next day.

“Oh, yes, yes, yes!” she said. “We would love to have you join our congregation. May I stop over and introduce myself and bring the paperwork for you and your family? We are still looking for a permanent place to have our weekly church gatherings, but we are delighted that you will be joining us.” Mary Lou chattered on for a while longer, and I knew we were going in the right direction, although I was not sure where.

“Mommy, I thought we were going to church,” Jay questioned the following Sunday as we pulled into the parking lot of a movie theater.

“We are, sweetheart,” I answered, as his daddy parked the car. Jason’s eyes lit up, and he was not about to let this drop, thinking one or both of his parents had lost their minds. “Why are we here if we are supposed to be going to church?”

“The church is not a church yet, and we do not have anywhere else to go, so we are going to the movie theater,” I explained. None of us really cared where we went after a few weeks, especially because on these days we began going to the movies after church, which took the place of breakfast. Pop and popcorn began to substitute for ham and eggs.

As the summer wore into autumn, and the leaves began to drop from the trees, the congregation continued to grow and the accommodations in the movie theater became too small. It was time to move on again, and the new location was, again, due to the generosity of a community member. This time we were shuffled to an old, gray barn. It was not much to look at, but it served the purpose — and our active, hard-working, and still-growing community gathered at this rustic spot, now filled with folding chairs.

It took a long time to get wiring into this dimly lit structure to supply us with light, heat, and a microphone. Reverend Appleby fortunately had a sense of humor and a booming voice. However, as October transitioned into November, and Thanksgiving ushered in Advent, our necessity for heavy coats during church became more apparent.

“Jim, make sure the kids have their gloves this morning,” I said. “It is really cold. I know we should expect December weather, but the wind seems brutal today.”

“Check. We have gloves and hats, and I grabbed a blanket, just in case we need it. We can wrap these little monkeys up; they’ll stay warm for the hour.”

The cold weather brought preparation but still no permanent church. December wore on and Christmas Eve appeared in a flash.

Again, we had the checklist before church. “Honey, let’s keep the kids extra warm. It may snow tonight. Can you help me get Katie’s boots on?”

Robby, our second child, mumbled, “Mommy, do we have to go? It’s too cold.”

“Yes, honey, we do. It is Christmas Eve, and if we have time to wait for Santa, we have time to go to church and remember Jesus’ birthday.”

So we packed up the children and drove to the barn. “This is an exceptionally blustery night,” I remarked. “It is a good thing that Daddy remembered the blanket, isn’t it?”

“Yes!” the three children yelled in unison. Dusk slipped into darkness as we parked along the old country road and trudged along to the barn, children in tow, wrapped up so much that they could barely walk. We entered our familiar “church.”

The old, gray barn was no longer just an old, gray barn. It had been transformed into a nativity scene — a real one, with a real manger and real sheep and a cow and a donkey. Hay was everywhere. The eyes of the children were filled with sheer wonder. Amid the animals were people. The woman wore a blue robe, and the man was in old, brown sackcloth tied with a rope. He held a staff, and she held an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes. They were not just people; they were the Holy Family. They were surrounded by shepherds tending the flock. I don’t remember what the music was, if there was any. Nor do I remember what the homily was, if one was given. I don’t even know if we stayed warm enough. I do remember being in the presence of the true spirit of Christmas. It was magnificent.

That Christmas Eve celebration could have lasted forever. We finally left the barn to find that snow was lightly falling and the stars were announcing the birth of Jesus. We all felt a silent joy at the miraculous event we had been witness to. Eventually, we did find a church to call our own. But nothing ever came close to that Christmas Eve of wonder, with Jesus in the old, gray barn.

By Elizabeth Toole

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Once upon a time there was a leafy tree in a field. Leaves grew densely on the tall branches. The roots were deeply into the ground. The tree was the most remarkable among the rest.

The tree then became the home for some birds. They built their nests and they lived on his branches. The birds made holes on him, and they hatched their eggs within the greatness of the tree. The tree felt so delighted because he was accompanied as he walked through his long lasting days.

People were grateful for the presence of the tree. They often came over and sheltered under him. Under his branches, they sat down and opened their picnic baskets. “This tree is very useful,” that’s what the people said everytime they went home from shelter. The tree was very proud hearing those compliments.

However, time went on. The tree was beginning to be sick. His leaves and twigs were falling, then his body became thin and pale. The greatness he used to have was fading away. Birds felt reluctant to build their nests there. No one would come to sit under the tree to shelter anymore.

The tree wept, “Oh God, why is it so hard for me? I need friends. Now no one would come close to me. Why do you take all the glory I used to have?” The tree cried loudly, so it echoed throughout the forest. “Why wouldn’t you cut me down, so I don’t have to bear this suffering?” The tree kept on crying, and his tears were running down his dry body.

Seasons came and went, but his condition had not changed. The tree was still feeling lonely. His branches became drier and drier. Every night the tree wept and cried, until the morning broke.

“Cheep…chirp….cheep” Ah, what was that noise? Oh, it’s a little baby bird who has just pipped from the egg. The old tree woke up from his daydream.

“Cheep…chirp…cheep”, the noise became louder and louder. There was another baby bird. Not long after that, the tree became noisy because of the birth of new baby birds. One…two…three…and four baby birds have been born to this world. “Ah, He has answered my prayers,” exclaimed the old tree.

The day after, there were many birds flying to the old tree. They were going to build new nests. The dry branches have turned out to attract their attention to nest there. The birds felt warmer to stay inside the dry branches instead of their place before. The number of birds was increasing and there were more kinds of them. “Wow, now my days are brighter with their presence here”, murmured the old tree gladly.

The old tree was back to cheer again. And when he looked down, his heart was flowing with joy. There was a new little tree growing near his roots. The new tree seemed to smile at him. The tears of the old tree has grown a little tree who would continue his devotion to nature.

by: Author Unknown, Source Unknown

Vintage Dilbert August 21, 2001

Vintage Dilbert
August 21, 2001

I closed Words of Affirmation – a book I was reading with my morning coffee. It did not seem to have the effect I wanted.

It was a Monday morning. A dark, wet November morning when it seemed like it would take a million years to get to summer again. So dark I was sure I did not even remember what summer looked like anymore. And no affirmation seemed to work. I thought bears got it right – what a perfect idea to sleep through the lousiest part of the year and wake up when spring came!

I got into a conversation with a coworker about this when I got to work.

You don’t think words of affirmation work? He asked me.

…words of affirmation.

Today – no.

I used to think so too, he said, until I realized the effect my words had on a certain person.

What do you mean?

Well, it was someone I knew pretty well. I have to say I treated him rather badly.

You? But you are always so positive! How did you treat him badly?

I told him I did not like anything about him, really. I looked at him and said he had grown a belly. That his face was sagging. His hair was thinning. I told him I did not even like his name.

I could not find words. I just did not believe him. He could see what I was thinking and nodded.

I swear this is true. You can imagine what it did to his self-esteem. If we hear such negative affirmations about ourselves, we tend to believe them, don’t you agree?

Well I sure agreed.

I still cannot believe you! I said, – You are always encouraging others. How can it be possible you would have said such words to anyone you know?

Such words and even more, he nodded.  Now I am not proud of myself, but I thought this would be useful for you to know when you wonder if words of affirmation work.  It wasn’t only what I said, I also did pretty bad things to him. When he was feeling low, I did not want to sympathize but told him he should snap out of it and play cheerful.  When he was hungry I did not give him a chance to eat proper food.  When he felt like doing something fun I said to him that he was being childish and having fun was not productive.  After all he was always short on cash so obviously he was a lazy worker.

No…

And worst of all, when he was sick and needed care, I did not care.  I told him to get up and get to work. And when he did, I never told him he did good work.  Oh no, I only told him he could do better.

I knew my coworker had been a boss at a smaller firm before.  But still, surely he would never have behaved in such a way towards his employees?

You could say I was ashamed of him, he said,  I wanted to get rid of him because he just wasn’t good enough for me, but couldn’t.

But… That was heartless!

He nodded.

I agree. I was a horrible person. I was cruel towards him. And I could see the effect of my words on him. He was depressed most of the time, tried to drown his sorrows by watching TV, drinking too much and calling in sick whenever he could.

Well no wonder!  I exclaimed, but I have to say I never would have believed you could behave in such a way!

Then one day it all changed, he said.

What happened?

I stood there in front of the bathroom mirror one morning. I saw the dark circles under his eyes, I saw the excess weight.  I saw the hair that needed cutting. And I saw the eyes that once had looked at the world eagerly.  Now they were so sad and tired.  And there and then I realized he deserved better.  I knew the time had come to start finding good things about myself.  So I told the man whom I had disliked so many years that he was a good person after all.  I decided to like every likeable thing about myself and tell it to myself too.

My jaw dropped.

 

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know
 the author so credit can be given
Dilbert.com - August 1, 2001

Dilbert.com – August 1, 2001

 

Some of the difficult moments in life is giving someone a hug when you need it the most.

Fighting back the tears in your eyes to wipe off someone else’s tears.

Listening to somebody’s grief when you want your pain to be heard.

Being the reason for someone’s smile when your own smile is lost.

To bless someone else while you are going through your own storm.

To be the strong one, you know?
Author Unknown – Please comment on this post if you know the author so credit can be given

Vintage Dilbert March 25, 2016

Vintage Dilbert
March 25, 2016

Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind and a chronic, terminal illness that had been slowly killing him all his young life. Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and had sent him to St. Theresa’s Elementary School.

At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher. One day, she called his parents and asked them to come to St. Teresa’s for a consultation.

As the Forresters sat quietly in the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems. Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students!”

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue while her husband spoke. “Miss Miller,” he said, “there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.”

Doris sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read or write. Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. “Oh God,” she said aloud, “here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared with that poor family! Please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.”

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares. Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. “I love you, Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loudly enough for the whole class to hear. The other children snickered, and Doris’ face turned red. She stammered, “Wh-Why, that’s very nice, Jeremy. Now please take your seat.”

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. “Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”

Yes, Miss Miller!” the children responded enthusiastically – all except for Jeremy. He just listened intently, his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them. That evening, Doris’ kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their Math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arms. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine.”

Next Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that the moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom. “My Daddy helped me!” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Flustered, Doris replied, “but Jeremy – your egg is empty!” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty too!”

Time stopped. When she could speak again. Doris asked him, ” Do you know why the tomb was empty?”

“Oh yes!” Jeremy exclaimed. “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then his Father raised him up!”

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

Author - Ida Mae Kemp
Vintage Dilbert March 24, 2004

Vintage Dilbert
March 24, 2004

1. Today, I waited on an elderly couple. The way they looked at each other… you could see they were in love. When the husband mentioned that they were celebrating their anniversary, I smiled and said, “Let me guess. You two have been together forever.” They laughed and the wife said, “Actually, no, today is our fifth year anniversary. We both outlived our spouses and then life blessed us with one more shot at love.”

2. Today, I walked my daughter down the aisle. Ten years ago I pulled a fourteen year old boy out of his mom’s fire-engulfed SUV after a serious accident. Doctors initially said he would never walk again. My daughter came with me several times to visit him at the hospital. Then she started going on her own. Today, seeing him defy the odds and smile widely, standing on his own two feet at the altar as he placed a ring on my daughter’s finger.

3. Today, I operated on a little girl. She needed O- blood. We didn’t have any, but her twin brother has O- blood. I explained to him that it was a matter of life and death. He sat quietly for a moment, and then said goodbye to his parents. I didn’t think anything of it until after we took his blood and he asked, “So when will I die?” He thought he was giving his life for hers. Thankfully, they’ll both be fine.

4. Today, my dad is the best dad I could ask for. He’s a loving husband to my mom (always making her laugh), he’s been to every one of my soccer games since I was five (I’m seventeen now), and he provides for our family as a construction foreman. This morning when I was searching through my dad’s toolbox for a pair of pliers, I found a dirty folded up paper at the bottom. It was an old journal entry in my dad’s handwriting dated exactly one month before the day I was born. It reads, “I am eighteen years old, an alcoholic who is failing out of college, a past cutter, and a child abuse victim with a criminal record of auto theft. And next month, ‘teen father’ will be added to the list. But I swear I will make things right for my little girl. I will be the dad I never had.” And I don’t know how he did it, but he did it.

5. Today, due to Alzheimer’s and dementia, my grandfather usually can’t remember who my grandmother is when he wakes up in the morning. It bothered my grandmother a year ago when it first happened, but now she’s fully supportive of his condition. In fact, she plays a game every day in which she tries to get my grandfather to ask her to re-marry him before dinnertime. She hasn’t failed yet.

6. Today, I was sitting on a hotel balcony watching two lovers in the distance walk along the beach. From their body language, I could tell they were laughing and enjoying each other’s company. As they got closer, I realized they were my parents. My parents almost got divorced eight years ago.

7. Today, I told my eighteen year old grandson that nobody asked me to prom when I was in high school, so I didn’t attend. He showed up at my house this evening dressed in a tuxedo and took me as his date to his prom.

8. Today, my dad passed away from natural causes at the age of ninety-two. I found his body resting peacefully in the recliner in his bedroom. In his lap, facing upright, were three framed 8×10 photographs of my mom who passed away about 10 years ago. She was the love of his life, and apparently the last thing he wanted to see before he passed.

9.Today was the ten year anniversary of my dad’s passing. When I was a kid he used to hum a short melody to me as I was going to sleep. When I was eighteen, as he rested in his hospital bed fighting cancer, the roles were reversed and I hummed the melody to him. I haven’t heard that melody since, until last night. My fiancé and I were turned on our sides looking at each other in bed when he started humming it to me. His mom used to hum it to him when he was a kid.

10. Today, as I watched my seventy-year-old grandmother and grandfather being silly with each other and laughing in the kitchen, I felt like I got a short glimpse of what true love feels like. I hope I find it someday.

11. Today, my fiancé returned home from his last tour of duty overseas. Yesterday he was just my boyfriend, or so I thought. Almost a year ago, he mailed me a package. He told me I wasn’t allowed to open it until he got home in two weeks. But then his tour got extended for another eleven months. Today, when he got home, he told me to open the package, and just as I pulled the ring out of the box, he got down on one knee.

12. Today, I walked up to the door of my office (I’m a florist) at 7:00 AM to find a uniformed Army soldier standing out front waiting. He was on his way to the airport to go to Afghanistan for a year. He said, “I usually bring home a bouquet of flowers for my wife every Friday and I don’t want to let her down when I’m away.” He then placed an order for fifty-two Friday afternoon deliveries of flowers to his wife’s office and asked me to schedule one for each week until he returns. I gave him a 50% discount because it made my day to see something so sweet.

13. Today, my dad came to see me for the first time in six months since I told him I’m gay. When I opened the door he had tears in his eyes and he immediately gave me a huge hug and said, “I’m sorry, Jason. I love you.”

14. Today, my autistic little sister spoke her first word at the age of six – my name.

15. Today, my mother passed away after a long battle with cancer. My best friend lives 2,000 miles away and called to comfort me. While on the phone, he asked, “What would you do if I showed up at your house and gave you the biggest hug in the world?” “I would surely smile,” I replied. And then he rang my doorbell.

16. Today, as my ninety-one year old grandfather (a military doctor, war hero, and successful business owner) rested in his hospital bed, I asked him what his greatest life accomplishment was. He turned around, grabbed my grandmother’s hand, looked her in the eyes, and said, “Growing old with you.”

17. Today, as I was sleeping, I woke up to my daughter calling my name. I was sleeping in a sofa chair in her hospital room. I opened my eyes to her beautiful smile. My daughter has been in a coma for ninety-eight days.

18. Today, my grandmother and grandfather, who were both in their early nineties and married for seventy-two years, both died of natural causes approximately one hour apart from each other.

19. Today, at a jazz club in San Francisco I saw a man and woman enjoying a drink together. The woman was a dwarf and the man must have been six feet tall. Later in the evening they went out onto the dance floor. The man got down on his knees so they could slow dance together. They danced the rest of the night.

20. Today, on our tenth anniversary, she handed me a suicide note she wrote when she was 22, on the exact day we met. And she said, “For all these years I didn’t want you to know how foolish and unstable I was back when we met. But even though you didn’t know, you saved me. Thank you.”

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