15 April 2018

posted 14 Apr 2018, 08:44 by C S Paul
15 April 2018

Quotes to Inspire

  • No matter what age you are, or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning. Barbara De Angelis
  • How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. George Washington Carver
  • Everyone has a purpose in life... a unique gift or special talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals. Deepak Chopra 
  • Pleasure is not the purpose of man's existence. Joy is. David O. McKay
  • Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men. Albert Einstein
  • Every living creature that comes into the world has something allotted him to perform; therefore, he should not stand an idle spectator of what others are doing. - Sarah Kirby Trimmer
  • The key that unlocks energy is desire. It's also the key to a long and interesting life. If we expect to create any drive, any real force within ourselves, we have to get excited.Earl Nightingale
  • If you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by realizing that you are the author and everyday you have the opportunity to write a new page. Mark Houlahan
  • When you take charge of your life, there is no longer a need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life.- Geoffrey F. Abert
  • Hold on to your dreams for they are, in a sense, the stuff of which reality is made. It is through our dreams that we maintain the possibility of a better, more meaningful life. Leo Buscaglia
  • Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect. It is important to know how to feel, how to respond, and how to let life in so that it can touch you. Jim Rohn
A Chicken Teaches a Lesson of Faith at Easter
By Isabel Wolseley, Syracuse, New York

It was an Easter Sunday we would never forget.

What do you think of when you think of Easter?

Eggs, of course. The symbol of new life come spring. How better to illustrate the season's spiritual message?

I looked forward to teaching the lesson of the egg in my Sunday school class as Easter approached, but when I asked the children where eggs came from the answer surprised me.

"Bunnies!" all 12 students shouted.

Bunnies? I thought. Could these kids be so far removed from nature they actually think rabbits lay eggs? My own chickens would have been insulted!

"It's on TV," one of the girls explained. "A white rabbit lays chocolate eggs."

Now I knew what they meant. I'd seen the commercial, but it didn't have much to do with the lesson I wanted to teach. I had to think this through.

The following Sunday morning I got ready for school, still not sure what to do. I have to find a way to set them straight, I thought.

I checked my chicken coop before I left. My birds strutted and clucked around the hen houses: Ida, Ada and Henney Penney in their nesting boxes, Rudy the rooster scratching at the ground. Penney puffed her feathers to twice her size when Rudy got close. She was guarding a dozen eggs.

"If only the kids at Sunday school could see your eggs," I said, stroking Penney's copper-speckled feathers, "they'd forget all about chocolate."

That's when it hit me: What if I took Penney and her eggs to Sunday school with me? How many of the kids had ever seen a real egg hatch? Or watched an ordinary-looking, beige-colored egg turn into a live chick with bright little BB-pellet eyes, downy feathers and tiny feet, peeping away? The hatching of an egg was like a miracle. Why not share it with the kids? I'd give those children an Easter message they'd never forget!

I hunted for a box to hold the eggs. But wait a minute: Was I really planning to bring a chicken to church? I tried to remember another time any kind of animal had joined us at our solemn service. Once a sparrow flew in an open window and fluttered around, disturbing the reading. And a puppy had wandered in and led the ushers in a merry chase around the aisles while the children laughed. But those events hadn't been planned.

I thought of a certain church lady, a good Christian with very strong opinions. She'd once objected to my son's carrying in a Bible with a jazzy cover. "It's a New Testament," I'd assured her as she eyed the brightly colored jacket. 

"Well," she'd sniffed, "it looks like a Betty Crocker cookbook!"

I had a vision of my little bantam hen pooping on the ecclesiastical carpet. "I guess chickens really don't belong in church," I said. But then I remembered Jesus' own words in the Gospel of Matthew: "How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings."

"That settles it," I told Penney. "Jesus would approve of a chicken in church, and he's who matters!" Penney would be in the Sunday school wing anyway. Nowhere near the church, actually. And nowhere near that straitlaced church lady (I hoped).

I poked holes in the lid of a straw-filled cardboard box and transferred Penney and her eggs into it. It was waiting on the table when the children came to class. As they took their seats I said, "Guess what's inside."

"Rabbits!" one boy shouted.

"Kitten!" a girl said over him.

"Puppy!" called someone else.

"Nobody has guessed it," I said and lifted the lid. All the children gasped. Penney blinked in the sudden light and ruffled her feathers, but soon settled down and clucked. The children came forward slowly, so as not to scare her. The girls took turns stroking her feathers.

"What do you think Penney's brought with her?" I said. I lifted her up to reveal a dozen eggs. 

A boy poked one of the shells with a pudgy finger. "How can she sit on them?" he asked. "They're hard!

"Penney wants her babies very much," I said. "She's willing to go through hard things. Just like your mother did before you were born. God puts love into all parents' hearts—even chicken parents!"

Now that the children had seen the eggs, I offered them a deal. "Penney has laid 12 eggs. That's one for each of you," I said. "You have a choice what to do with your egg. You can take it home and have your mom cook it for breakfast..."

The children giggled.

"Or I can bring Penney back next week and you can see your eggs turn into babies!"

Not one child voted for an omelet. By the following week the children had told all their friends. We discussed the impending blessed event. They couldn't wait to see the chicks they'd been promised on Easter Sunday.

I promised, I thought as I got ready for bed on Saturday night. Should I have been so confident the children would see chicks on Easter? It took 21 days for a bantam hen egg to hatch, and in the interest of timing, I'd taken the eggs from under Penney so that she'd miss a day of brooding. But what if I'd miscounted, or addled the eggs when moving them? What if Penny's temperature wasn't just right? The hatching of a chicken was God's work, not mine. God, I prayed after I switched off the light, please let at least one egg hatch for them.

The church parking lot was crowded the next morning. Everyone came for the Easter service. But why were so many people gathered around the Sunday school wing? I made my way through the crowd with my cardboard box.

"Is that Penney?" a woman asked me.

"Did the eggs hatch yet?" a man said.

They were all here to see Penney and her eggs! Along with every child from every Sunday school class, not just my own. Even the pastor came over to see what was going on. "It's an expectant hen," I told him, blushing. "I thought the children would like to see the eggs hatch."

"What a perfect way to illustrate today's sermon!" he said. "Would you bring Penney into the church?"

So much for keeping Penney under wraps, I thought as a pack of children cheered and followed me into the sanctuary. They plunked themselves on the stage at the front of the church. Okay, God, I thought as I lifted the lid. Time for an Easter miracle! 

A gasp went up. There was Penney with not one but six wobbly chicks. Three were already dried and fluffy as dandelion down. The other three were still wet from their shells. Two more eggs were nearly cracked in half, the babies just emerging. The last four eggshells showed tiny holes where miniature beaks were pecking.

I looked up, beaming, from Penney's new family—right into the face of that straitlaced parishioner I'd dreaded. She was gazing down at the chicks as happy and amazed as the little girl in front of her who asked, "How did you get the eggs to hatch right on Easter?"

"God decides when the eggs hatch," I said. "He knew this was the right time!"

And just the right place—right in his own house, where all new life begins.

The Miraculous Easter Dinner
By MaryBeth Seal, Niles, Michigan

She enjoyed the perfect Easter meal, thanks to a friend and a mysterious coincidence.

I love everything about making Easter dinner except the Saturday shopping. That day, the supermarket can be as crowded as a department store at Christmas. And this Easter, on top of my regular checklist, I had to buy the ingredients for a delicious new recipe I’d discovered: sliced ham and turkey layered with Swiss cheese and spinach, all wrapped in pastry dough.

Trouble was, my work schedule had left me no time to shop earlier in the week.

I’ll get up extra early and take care of everything Saturday morning, I thought, as I drove to the office Friday. But that morning Yola, one of my co-workers, asked if my husband, Robert, and I would help her move the next day. “I really don’t have anybody else to ask,” she apologized.

“Sure,” I told her, soft touch that I am. Bright and early Saturday morning, Robert, my 15-year-old son Ben, and I drove our pickup to her old apartment. Oh, the piles of furniture and boxes! It took us till late afternoon to get her settled in her new place.

By the time we returned home, I was spent. I don’t know how I’m going to go shopping now, let alone cook Easter dinner, I thought. The only ingredient I had at home was the spinach.

On the kitchen counter were two shopping bags of food Yola had sent home with us – her thanks for helping her move. She was leaving on a trip the next day, and didn’t want the food to go to waste.

I reached into the first bag and pulled out a package of sliced ham. Well, that’s lucky, I thought. At least I can cross one thing off my list.

Then I pulled out a package of sliced turkey, and another of Swiss cheese.

That’s odd, I thought. There’s no way Yola knew my Easter dinner plans.

I reached back into the grocery bag, thinking of the Easter miracle. All of sudden, the strangest feeling came over me. My hand closed around a package near the bottom of the bag. I lifted it out. It was a box of pastry dough – the final ingredient I needed for my recipe. 

Faith and Prayer Helped Her Overcome Depression
By Julie West Garmon, Snellville, Georgia

Joy eluded me like a forgotten melody. I felt as if I'd lost myself...

Easter Sunday, the calendar on my kitchen wall proclaimed. So did the kids' baskets with their neon-colored eggs and marshmallow bunnies. And our new outfits for church.

Jamie, 13, and Katie, 11, had polka-dot dresses like mine, and three-year-old Thomas proudly wore a miniature tie. Easter was all around.

So why wasn't it Easter inside me too?

"Look!" my husband, Rick, said as we pulled out of the driveway. "The pear trees are blooming! First time since we planted them!"

I don't even remember us having pear trees. What's the matter with me, Lord? It had come on so suddenly, this gray, gloomy hopeless feeling.

At church, shouts of "Happy Easter!" bombarded us. "Happy Easter!" I parroted, mimicking my friends' bright smiles. Put on a happy face. What kind of Christian is sad on Easter?

I told myself it was only temporary. But April and May went by with the same dreary numbness. I forgot to eat, I was losing weight, I couldn't sleep. My mother wanted me to see my doctor, but what could I say to him–"I'm feeling sad but there's no reason for it"?

Besides, weren't Christians supposed to rejoice in the Lord? All my 34 years I'd gone to two church services every Sunday, Tuesday night outreach, Wednesday night Girls-in-Action when I was younger, nowadays Prayer Meeting with Rick.

What would everyone think if they knew that I was feeling this darkness inside, that I was failing God so?

Maybe I just needed a change of scene. In June, when we went on vacation, things would be different.

On the drive to Florida's Gulf coast, I tried to join in with Rick and the kid's excited plans about everything they wanted to do once we got to the beach, but I ended up feeling like the odd sock in the dryer.

At our rental condo I went through the motions, packed picnics for the beach, played games, and at night while my family slept, slipped outside to cry.

Stepping out the glass sliding doors into the briny darkness, I listened to the rhythm of the waves. Why didn't it soothe me as it always had? I have new freckles on my arms, Lord, so I must be in Florida. Why can't I feel anything?

I came home feeling worse than when we left. I stopped looking in mirrors, unwilling to face the drawn, needy-eyed woman lurking there.

All summer I forced myself to take the kids to our neighborhood pool, thinking, Maybe if I act like the other moms, I can feel like a mom again. As my friends chatted, I put on sunglasses and pretended to be absorbed in a magazine.

I thought I was fooling even Rick, till one evening he said, "You don't hum any more, Julie. Is something the matter?"

No! That was the trouble. Everything was fine, except me. "I'm just a little tired," I told him.

"Let's pray about it," he said.

I have prayed! I've prayed and prayed and nothing happens. Rick must have been more worried than he let on, because for the first time in our married life, he suggested we kneel and pray out loud together. I repeated everything after him, like wedding vows.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

It became a nightly ritual, praying together at bedtime. "Thank you, Lord," Rick would close, "for giving Julie your perfect peace." I'd feel peaceful too–for as long as he prayed. Then he'd fall asleep, and when I couldn't lie still any longer, I'd ease off the covers and tiptoe over to the clock.
12:10. 2:30. 4:15. It became one more thing to conceal. How could I tell my husband that his prayers weren't working? How could I disappoint Rick like I'd disappointed God?

By October my mother had started dropping in "just to say hello" a couple of times a week. She asked no questions but her transparent efforts to cheer me up told me that my forced smiles were no longer fooling her, either.

In early November she insisted on taking me shopping. At the mall Mother zipped over to an outfit. "Look, Julie, this is the new color for fall! Mustard. See those jeans? And the matching vest?" Explaining it to me like I'm a preschooler.

She grabbed the clothes and pushed me into the fitting room. My back to the mirror, I pulled on the jeans, two sizes smaller than usual, and tightened the belt to its last notch.

"Julie, what's taking so long? Can I come in now?"

"Okay," I said resignedly.

"Oh, Julie, that color's wonderful with your red hair! I'm getting you the outfit. Why don't you wear it out, and we'll stop for ice cream on the way home." Yippee. Ice cream.

Back in her Oldsmobile, I refused to get out again. "You go in for the ice cream and bring it out." I was safer in the car than with people who might expect me to be chatty and cheerful.

Mother came back with my childhood favorite, a chocolate milkshake with real whipped cream. I sucked hard and fast through the straw to try to remember those shivery feelings. It was no good. Why isn't anything in life fun anymore?

Mother started coming by daily. I hated it when she arrived, and I hated it worse when she left. One morning she walked in with her camera and followed me around the house snapping pictures. "I want to show you how pretty you are."

Mothers always think daughters are pretty. I'm a fake and a failure and it has to show. Still, seeing her trotting after me, clicking away, was so funny that I had to laugh. It was like hearing a forgotten song. She finished the roll and hurried off to a one-hour developer.

Coming back, she fanned out the pictures like a winning hand of cards. She must have had these touched up. I look so... normal.

I picked out my favorite shot, the one with me laughing, and carried it around the rest of the day, then put it on the refrigerator. I wanted to hold on to that laugh, to believe it meant I could be happy–be me–again. But as with Rick's prayers at bedtime, the lift didn't last.

When Mother came back the next day, I was sitting on the kitchen floor crying. She got down beside me. "Julie, I think it's time to see the doctor."

The last fragments of my self-respect crumbled at that. Dialing the doctor's number felt like the final defeat. He gave me an appointment right away.

I sat in the familiar green leather chair in his waiting room, wishing I could be one of the other patients. The lady with the five fidgety kids, the old man staring out the window, the gangly teenager.

What grown woman needs her mother to go to the doctor with her? And what would Dr. Kelly say when he found there was nothing wrong with me? I could see him marking my chart "Mental Case/Weirdo."

"Julie, come on back," the nurse called. Would she have to know too?

"What's the matter, Julie?" Dr. Kelly prompted gently.

Confessing my condition to someone else was one of the hardest things I'd ever done. "I–I just don't feel like myself anymore. I guess I haven't felt like me for maybe nine months now and I can't seem to stop crying."

In a matter-of-fact manner, my doctor went on asking questions. Had the symptoms come on suddenly? he inquired.

"Have you lost weight?"

"Do you sleep too little or too much?"

"Have you lost pleasure in the things you used to enjoy?"

"Do you have trouble concentrating?"

Yes, yes, yes! To them all.

"Julie," the doctor said, "you're in a depression. Depression can have many causes, but when it comes on this suddenly it can be a physical condition due to a decreased serotonin level in the brain. It's not a character failing or a sign of weakness. Even big, strong football players experience depression."

He's not judging me! Football players. Say it again... a physical condition...

"But, Dr. Kelly, if I had enough faith, couldn't God heal depression?"

"I'm a man of faith too, Julie. Sometimes God uses doctors to help heal. Remember when Jamie broke her arm? You took her to an orthopedist.

"Depression is an illness," he went on, "often treatable with medication." He tore a prescription off his pad.

"With this, your serotonin level will gradually increase. As it does, I believe you'll start feeling like your old self. You'll need to stay on the medicine at least six months. I'll want to see you again in four weeks."

I left his office walking on air. But a week on the medication changed nothing. Hope slipped away like an escaping balloon.

Then one morning in the second week, I woke up and realized I had slept the whole night through. Like a slow-motion film, frame by frame, other changes followed, cheerful moments breaking one by one through the grayness.

One Saturday some two months after my visit to the doctor, Rick and I took the kids to McDonald's. We stepped through the door and suddenly I remembered the taste of french fries. This is what it feels like to be excited about food! I stood in line like an impatient child.

"May I take your order?" said the boy on the other side of the counter.

"Yes!" I answered eagerly. "I'll have a large order of french fries and a large chocolate milkshake, and, oh yeah, lots of ketchup!"

I grabbed the tray and followed my family to a booth. Yummy, salty, hot french fries! Adding plenty of pepper, I dragged each fry through a big mound of ketchup. The saltiness made me crave my milkshake. I sucked the cold drink down so hard and fast that my throat shivered.

Thank you, Lord, for my chocolate milkshake. I grabbed Rick's hand under the table and whispered, "I love you."

Two more months went by, the good days coming more and more often. Then it was Easter Sunday again–oh, but not like any Easter I'd ever known!

As we pulled out of the driveway on the way to church, I noticed the pear trees were a glory of white lace. In place of dull gray were yellow daffodils, pink dogwood–everywhere new life, new hope.

And most of all in me. Dr. Kelly was wrong. "You'll be your old self again," he promised. But this was a new self! This self didn't have to be the model Christian who never missed a church service and showed only her best side.

This self was weak and needy and depressed and knew that was all right–all right with people and all right with God. Once I admitted I was hurting, I'd found his helpers all around me. Rick. Mother. Dr. Kelly. My friends at church I'd assumed would be so disapproving.

It was when I thought I'd failed God that I'd truly found him, when I'd plummeted the farthest that I'd landed in his arms. Sometimes, I realized as we drove up to the church, the most glorious way we can rejoice in the Lord is to let him have our deepest pain.

Did you Know ?
  • The “spot” on the 7-Up comes from its inventor who had red eyes – he was an albino. ’7' was because the original containers were 7 ounces and ‘UP’ indicated the direction of the bubbles.
  • Chocolate can kill dogs, as it contains theobromine, which affects their heart and nervous system.
  • Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of plaster.
  • There are only two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: “abstemious” and “facetious.”
  • If one places a tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion, it will instantly go mad and sting itself to death.
  • Bruce Lee was so fast that they actually had to slow film down so you could see his moves.
  • Mosquitoes have 47 teeth.
  • Beavers can hold there breath underwater for 45 minutes.
  • A bear can run up to 30 mph.
  • Flamingos are pink because there diet consists mainly of shrimp.
  • A chameleon's tongue is as long than its body.
  • The largest pig on record was a Poland-China hog named Big Bill, who weighed 2,552 lbs
  • The giant cricket of Africa enjoys eating human hair
  •  A duck’s quack doesn’t echo. No one knows why!
Just for laughs

Pearly Gates Story

A man dies and goes to heaven. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates. St. Peter says, "Here's how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you've done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in." 

"Okay," the man says, "I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart." 

"That's wonderful," says St. Peter, "that's worth three points!" 

"Three points?" he says. "Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service." 

"Terrific!" says St. Peter, "that's certainly worth a point." 

"One point? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans." 

"Fantastic, that's good for two more points," he says. 

"TWO POINTS!!" the man cries, "At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!" 

Come on in!"  
Small Female Janitor

A very small female janitor (4’10’, 90 pounds) worked at an amusement park and was told to go out and sweep up the trash. 

As she was getting ready to start cleaning up her supervisor noticed her putting rocks in her pockets. 

When the supervisor asked her what she was doing, she said, “It’s very windy out there and I’ll get knocked over by the wind… So, now I weigh me down to sweep.”