A Brother’s Miracle

Posted in STORIES on January 28, 2009 by mybookofwisdom

Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3 year old son Michael, prepare for a new sibling. They found out that the new baby is going to be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sings to his sister in Mommy’s tummy.

The pregnancy progresses was normal for Karen, an active member of the Panther Creek United Methodist church in Morristown, TN. Then the labor pains come. Every five minutes…..every minute. But complications arise during delivery. Hours of labor. Would a c-section be required?

Finally, Michael’s little sister is born. But she is in serious condition. With sirens howling in the night, the ambulance rushes the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary’s hospital, Knoxville, TN. The days inch by. The little girl gets worse. The pediatric specialist tells the parents, “There is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst.” Karen and her husband contact a local cemetery about a burial plot. They have fixed up a special room in their home for the new baby and now they plan a funeral.

Michael keeps begging his parents to let him see his sister. “I want to sing to her,” he says. Week two in intensive care. It looks as if a funeral will come before the week is over.

Michael keeps nagging about singing to his sister but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. But Karen makes up her mind. She will take Michael whether they like it or not. If he doesn’t see his sister now, he may never see her alive.

She dresses him in an oversized scrub suit and marches him into ICU. He looks like a walking laundry basket, but the head nurse recognizes him as a child and bellows, “Get that kid out of here now! No children are allowed!”

The mother rises up strong in Karen, and the usually mild-mannered lady glares steel-eyed into the head nurse’s face, her lips a firm line. “He is not leaving until he sings to his sister!”

Karen tows Michael to his sister’s bedside. He gazes at the tiny infant losing the battle to live. And he begins to sing. In the pure hearted voice of a 3 year old, Michael sings: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray – – -”

Instantly the baby girl responds. The pulse rate becomes calm and steady.

“Keep on singing, Michael.”

“You never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away- – -”

The ragged, strained breathing becomes as smooth as a kitten’s purr.

“Keep on singing, Michael.”

“The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms…” Michael’s little sister relaxes as rest, healing rest, seems to sweep over her.

“Keep on singing, Michael.”

Tears conquer the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glows.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

Funeral plans are scrapped. The next day – – – the very next day, the little girl is well enough to go home!

Woman’s Day magazine called it “the miracle of a brother’s song”.

The medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of God’s love!

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The Blue Ribbon

Posted in STORIES on January 27, 2009 by mybookofwisdom

A teacher in New York decided to honor each of her seniors in high school by telling them the difference they each made. Using a process developed by Helice Bridges of Del Mar, California, she called each student to the front of the class, one at a time. First she told them how the student made a difference to her and the class. Then she presented each of them with a blue ribbon imprinted with gold letters which read, “Who I Am Makes a Difference.” 

Afterwards the teacher decided to do a class project to see what kind of impact recognition would have on a community. She gave each of the students three more ribbons and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment ceremony. Then they were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom and report back to the class in about a week. 

One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby company and honored him for helping him with his career planning. He gave him a blue ribbon and put it on his shirt. Then he gave him two extra ribbons, and said, “We’re doing a class project on recognition, and we’d like you to go out, find somebody to honor, give them a blue ribbon, then give them the extra blue ribbon so they can acknowledge a third person to keep this acknowledgment ceremony going. Then please report back to me and tell me what happened.” 

Later that day the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had been noted, by the way, as being kind of a grouchy fellow. He sat his boss down and he told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon and would he give him permission to put it on him. His surprised boss said, “Well, sure. The junior executive took the blue ribbon and placed it right on his boss’s jacket above his heart. As he gave him the last extra ribbon, he said, “Would you do me a favor? would you take this extra ribbon and pass it on by honoring somebody else? The young boy who first gave me the ribbons is doing a project in school and we want to keep this recognition ceremony going and find out how it affects people.” 

That night the boss came home to his 14-year-old son and sat him down. He said, “The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine. He thinks I’m a creative genius. Then he put this blue ribbon that says ‘Who I Am Makes A Difference’ on my jacket above my heart. He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor. As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honor with this ribbon and I thought about you. I want to honor you. “My days are really hectic and when I come home I don’t pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough grades in school and for your bedroom being a mess, but somehow tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You’re a great kid and I love you!” 

The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he couldn’t stop crying. His whole body shook. He looked up at his father and said through his tears, “I was planning on committing suicide tomorrow, Dad, because I didn’t think you loved me. Now I don’t need to.” 

 

Who You Are Makes A Difference

The Bishop’s Gift

Posted in STORIES on January 27, 2009 by mybookofwisdom

Once a church had fallen upon hard times. Only five members were left: the pastor and four others, all over 60 years old. 

In the mountains near the church there lived a retired Bishop. It occurred to the pastor to ask the Bishop if he could offer any advice that might save the church. The pastor and the Bishop spoke at length, but when asked for advice, the Bishop simply responded by saying, “I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you.” 

The pastor, returning to the church, told the church members what the Bishop had said. In the months that followed, the old church members pondered the words of the Bishop. “The Messiah is one of us?” they each asked themselves. As they thought about this possibility, they all began to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the off chance that that one among them might be the Messiah. And on the off, off chance that each member himself might be the Messiah, they also began to treat themselves with extraordinary care. 

As time went by, people visiting the church noticed the aura of respect and gentle kindness that surrounded the five old members of the small church. Hardly knowing why, more people began to come back to the church. They began to bring their friends, and their friends brought more friends. Within a few years, the small church had once again become a thriving church, thanks to the Bishop’s gift. 

Something to think about…. What if God were one of us? 

 

by Joan Osborne

Bike Ride with God

Posted in STORIES on January 27, 2009 by mybookofwisdom

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 out there sort of like the President. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn’t really know Him. 

But later on when I recognized my Higher Power, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride; but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that God was in the back helping me pedal. 

I don’t know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since…life with my God makes life exciting. 

When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points. 

But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places and at breakneck speeds. It was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said “pedal.” 

I worried and was anxious and asked, “Where are You taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to trust. 

I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure; and when I’d say, “I’m scared,” He’d lean back and touch my hand. 

He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing acceptance, and joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey; our journey, God’s and mine. 

And we were off again. He said, “Give the gifts away. They’re extra baggage, too much weight.” So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light. 

I did not trust Him at first, in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it. But He knew bike secrets, knew how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high places filled with rocks, fly to shorten scary passages. 

And I’m learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, my God. 

And when I’m sure I can’t do any more, He just smiles and says, “PEDAL”! 

 

 

author unknown

Beware The Lord’s Prayer

Posted in STORIES on January 27, 2009 by mybookofwisdom

Our Father who art in heaven….. 

“Yes?” 

Don’t disturb me. I am praying. 

“But you called Me!” 

Called you? I didn’t call you. I am praying to “Our Father who art in heaven”. 

“There! You did it again!” 

But I didn’t mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord’s prayer. It makes me feel good… sort of like getting a job done. 

“All right. Go on.” 

Hallowed be Thy Name…. 

“Hold it. What do you mean by that?” 

By what? 

“By hallowed be Thy name.” 

I mean…. it means….. Good grief! I don’t know what it means… How should I know? It’s just part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean? 

“It means honored, holy, wonderful.” 

Ah! That makes sense. I never thought about what hallowed meant before….. 

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven…. 

“Do you really mean that?” 

Of course! Why not? 

“What are you going to do about it?” 

Do? Nothing. I suppose I just think it would be rather good if you got control of everything down here as you have up there. 

“Have I got control over you?” 

Well, I do go to church. 

“That isn’t what I asked you! What about the habit of laziness you have? And your bad temper? You’ve really got a problem there, you know. And then, there’s the way you spend your money all on yourself. And what about the kind of books you read?” 

Stop picking on me! I am just as good as some of the rest of those hypocrites down at the church. 

“Excuse Me. I thought you were praying for My will to be done. If that is to happen, it will have to start with the ones who are really praying for it. Like you, for example.” 

Oh, all right! I guess I do have some habits now that you mention them. I could probably name some others. 

“So could I!” 

I haven’t thought about it very much until now. But I really would like to cut out some of those things. I would like to, you know, be really free. 

“Good. Now we’re getting somewhere. We’ll work together, you and I. Some victories can really be won. I am proud of you.” 

Look, Lord, I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does. Give us this day our daily bread…. 

“You need to cut out the bread. You’re overweight as it is.” 

Hey, wait a minute. What is this? Criticize me, eh? Here I was doing my religious duty and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my habits. 

“Praying is a dangerous thing. You could wind up changed, you know. That’s what I’m trying to get across to you. You called Me and here I am. It’s too late to stop now. Keep on praying. I’m interested in the next part of your prayer. Well, go on.” 

I’m scared to. 

“Scared of what?” 

I know what you’ll say. 

“Try Me and see.” 

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. 

“What about Bill?” 

See! I knew you would bring him up. Why, Lord? He told lies about me, cheated me out of some money. He never paid back the debt that he owes me. I’ve sworn to get even with him. 

“But your prayer? What about your prayer?” 

I didn’t mean it. 

“Well, at least, you are honest. But it’s not much fun carrying that load of bitterness around inside you, is it?” 

No, but I’ll feel better as soon as I get even with that fella. Boy, have I got some plans for old Bill. He’ll wish he never did me any harm. 

“You won’t feel any better. You’ll feel worse. Revenge isn’t sweet. Think of how unhappy you already are. But I can change all that.” 

You can? How? 

“Forgive Bill. Then I’ll forgive you. Then the hate and sin will be Bill’s problem and not yours. You may lose the money but you will have settled your heart.” 

But Lord, I can’t forgive Bill. 

“Then I can’t forgive you.” 

Oh, you’re right. You always are. And more than I want revenge on Bill, I want to be right with you. All right, all right, I forgive him. Help him to find the right road in life, Lord. He’s bound to be awfully miserable, now that I think about it. Anybody who goes around doing the things he does to others has to be mixed up inside. Someway, somehow, show him the right way. 

“There, now, wonderful. How do you feel?” 

Hmm… Well, not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, I feel quite tremendous. You know, I don’t think I’ll have to go to bed tense tonight for the first time since I can remember. Maybe I won’t be so tired from now on because I’m not getting enough rest. 

“You’re not through with your prayers. Go on.” 

Oh, all right….. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…. 

“Good, good. I’ll do just that. Just don’t put yourself in a place where you can be tempted.” 

What do you mean by that? 

“Stop hanging around the magazine stand where Playboy is sold. Change some of your friendships. Some of your so-called friends are beginning to get to you. They’ll have you completely involved in wrong things before long. Don’t be fooled. They advertise that they’re having fun, but for you, it would be ruin. Don’t use me for an escape hatch.” 

I don’t understand you…. 

“Yes, you do. You’ve done it a lot of times. You get caught in a bad situation, you get into trouble, and then come running to me: ‘Lord, help me get out of this mess and I promise you I’ll never do it again.’ You remember some of those bargains you tried to make with Me?” 

Yes, and I’m ashamed. Lord, I really am. 

“Which bargains are you remembering?” 

Well, when the woman next door saw me coming out of the video games center. I remember telling you: “O God, don’t let her tell my mother where I’ve been. I promise I’ll be in church every Sunday.” 

“She didn’t tell your mother but you didn’t keep your promise, did you?” 

I’m sorry, Lord. I really am. Up till now, I thought that just praying was enough. I didn’t expect you to answer like this. 

“Go ahead and finish your prayer.” 

For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 

“Do you know what would bring Me glory? What would really make Me happy?” 

No, but I’d like to know. I want now to please you. Now I can see how good it would be to be a real follower of you. 

“You just answered the question.” 

I did? 

“Yes. The thing that would bring Me glory is to have people like you truly love and follow Me. And I see that happening between us. Now that some of these old sins are exposed and out of the way, well, there’s no telling what we can do together.” 

Lord, let’s see what you can make of me, okay? 

“Yes. Let’s see……” 

 

 

author unknown

The Balloon

Posted in STORIES on January 27, 2009 by mybookofwisdom
Everywhere he went, the man carried brightly colored balloons. He enjoyed watching them float above his head. And it was easy to hold the string in his hand or wrap it around his wrist and take his colorful balloons wherever he went. The other people where he worked were accustomed to seeing them. They didn’t mind; it brightened the office a little. Even at night the balloons would float above the man as he slept. 

One day he went to the fair and had a great time. At the fair he could blend into the atmosphere of the rides and lights and noise. Oh, sometimes people tried to buy his balloons, thinking he was a vendor, but of course he wouldn’t sell even one. 

At one of the booths he filled in a ticket to see if he could win a free ocean cruise. He certainly didn’t plan on winning, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. Yet two weeks later a telegram came, he had won! He would enjoy great entertainment and the world’s finest chef providing his meals. Talk about excited! The man started packing immediately. He was ready to go days before it was time to leave. 

On the morning of the big day, he called a taxi and had the driver take him to the dock very slowly. He had to go slowly because the balloons wouldn’t all fit in the taxi and he had to hold some of them out the window. At the dock he unloaded his luggage, went aboard ship, and was welcomed by the officials who had planned his trip. They even had someone take his suitcases down to his cabin while he stayed on deck and enjoyed the activity. The ship was crowded. Many people were aboard just to say good-bye to friends. Confetti, horns, streamers–and lots of balloons. He felt right at home. 

Eventually the visitors left and the voyage was begun. It was great! Sailing on a big ocean liner was really refreshing. It also made him very hungry. Someone told the balloon man that the evening meal was in just one hour–a welcome relief!

The balloon man, still clutching his balloons and refusing to part with even one, eagerly awaited the dinner bell of this luxury cruise. 

When they rang the bell, he started to walk toward the dining room on the second deck. The aroma of the food was so enticing. There was one problem, though. Whoever had designed the ship hadn’t left enough room for a man with a handful of balloons to get down the passageway. You could do it if you released some of the balloons, but the balloon man just couldn’t do that. He had seen some crackers and cheese on the upper deck earlier, so he went back and ate that instead. It was good. Maybe not as good as the chef’s dinner but it was good enough. Besides, he had his balloons. That night the sunset was beautiful and it was exciting to walk along the deck. But it sure got cold quickly after that. Sea air not only makes you hungry, it makes you tired as well. He asked one of the ship’s crew where his room was, and the crewman took him down a wide hall and opened the door of his cabin. 

It was beautiful. They had given him one of the classiest rooms on the ship. He could see that the interior decorating was the best. And the bed looked inviting. Unfortunately, the door to the cabin was so designed that he couldn’t get all the balloons in without breaking some. He tried, but it just wouldn’t work. 

Back on deck he found some blankets and a deck chair. He tied the balloons around his wrist and the arm of the chair and tried to sleep. The next morning he was still tired. All that day he ate crackers and cheese and that night he slept on deck again. 

The next morning the balloon man received an engraved invitation from the captain of the ship. He had been invited to sit at the captain’s table and enjoy the specialty of the world famous chef. He would prepare it especially for the balloon man. All that day the man watched as the crew made preparations for the evening banquet, and at 8:00 p.m. the ships bell rang and the passengers began to go to the dining room. The man watched them go. Soon he could hear the murmur of voices, the sound of silverware and the clink of glasses. The aroma of the food became even more enticing. 

He stood at the end of the passage way for some time. Finally he walked to the back of the ship. He could still hear the dinner in progress. He reach in his pocket and felt the engraved invitation. He knew there was a special place reserved for him at the captain’s table. Then he looked up at his balloons. It was hard to do, but slowly–very, very slowly (he hadn’t unclenched his hand for years)–one at a time he uncurled his fingers. One by one the balloons began to drift away. 

As he watched, the wind caught them and blew them out of sight. The man turned and walked down the passageway. That night, as a guest at the captain’s table, he enjoyed the finest meal and the best companionship he’d ever known. 

Are you hanging on to a handful of balloons that keep you from being close to Jesus? What are the names of your balloons? Are they friends? Bad habits? Sex? Possessions? Your pride? Your popularity? Maybe it’s time to just let those balloons go so that you can enjoy the relationship with Christ that is yours for the taking. “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1).

author unknown 

Attitude Is Everything

Posted in STORIES on January 27, 2009 by mybookofwisdom
 

Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!” 

He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?” Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.’ I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.” 

“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested. 

“Yes it is,” Jerry said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.” I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gun point by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?” 

I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. “The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Jerry replied. “Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live. 

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked. 

Jerry continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, ‘He’s a dead man.’ 

“I knew I needed to take action.” 

“What did you do?” I asked. 

“Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Jerry. “She asked if I was allergic to anything. ‘Yes,’ I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Bullets!’ Over their laughter, I told them, ‘I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.” 

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

 

by Francie Baltazar-Schwartz