Motivational Stories

Have you ever had to make a speech or give a talk and wanted to emphasize a point or even open the speech with a motivational story? Here is a collection that I’ve gathered over the years from various sources that you are welcome to use. I have tried to reflect a theme for each story. But the themes are general and the stories may be too long for what you need, so you are welcome to improvise or edit a story to fit you situation. Again, pass on any good ones you come across to me so I can add them to the list. Some of them have religious overtones, but that is not a prerequisite. This page is, and always will be, a work in progress.

A Bible or a Sports Car
Theme: Our blessings are sometimes hidden from us

A Red Marble
Theme: Security, Accepting Who we are, Learning with every goodbye.

Canadian Tribute to The United States
Theme: Patriotism, Don’t underestimate what other people think of you

I Have a Friend
Theme: The value of friendship, the importance of communication

Friendship and Thanks
Theme: The value of friendship, never underestimate the power of your actions.

Bill Gates Addresses High School Students
Theme: Good advice regardless of what you think of Bill Gates

Teaching School
Theme: What it takes to be a teacher

The Last Ride
Theme: Family & friends are EVERYTHING; being alone

The Paradox of Our Times
Theme: Greed; want vs. need; making a difference; material vs. real value

The Window
Theme: Sharing grief; happiness in making others happy

As Time Goes By
Theme: Growing older

A Whisper or a Brick
Theme: We have to get hit by a brick to see the reality of life

A Cowboy’s Guide to Life
Theme: A simple, but accurate, perspective on life

A Grandfather Answers Back
Theme: A generation gap; the world we are in compared to what it used to be

A Wonderful Message by George Carlin after 9/11/01
Theme: A perspective on life

Adversity
Theme: How do you react to adversity?

The Cracked Water Pot
Theme: Take notice in the flaws in people

Two Cows
Theme: An interesting comparison of different government structures

Don’t Stop Making Pancakes
Theme: Don’t stop trying

Four Basic Management Lessons
Theme: Who do you trust?

Things to Remember
Theme: On life and living

The Weight of the World, the Responsibility of a Generation
Theme: On Faith and President Bush, regardless of what you think of him

Going Full Circle
Theme: Your goals might be pretty simple and right in front of you

Shake It Off and Take A Step Up
Theme: Take what is given to you and use it to your advantage

A Bible or a Sports Car

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.

As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box.

Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man’s name embossed in gold. Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, “With all your money you give me a Bible?” and stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse, Matt 7:11: “And if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father which is in heaven, give to those who ask Him?”

As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words… PAID IN FULL.

How many times do we miss God’s blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?

A Red Marble

During the waning years of the Depression in a small Southern community, I used to stop by Mr. Miller’s roadside stand for farm-fresh produce as the season made it available. Food and money were still extremely scarce and bartering was used, extensively. One particular day Mr. Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller and the ragged boy next to me.
“Hello Barry, how are you today?”
“H’lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them peas……sure do look good.”

“They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?”
“Fine. Gittin’ stronger alla’time.”
“Good. Anything I can help you with?”
“No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.”
“Would you like to take some home?”
“No, Sir. Got nuthin’ to pay for ’em with.”
“Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?”
“All I got’s my prize aggie-best taw around here.”
“Is that right? Let me see it.”
“Here ’tis. She’s a dandy.”

“I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?”
“Not ‘zackley …..but, almost.”
“Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red taw.”
“Sure will. Thanks, Mr. Miller.”

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said: “There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever. When they comeback with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, perhaps.”
I left the stand, smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved out of the area but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys and their bartering.

Several years went by each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon our arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two were equally clean-cut and dressed in dark business suits.

They approached Mrs. Miller, standing smiling and composed, by her husband’s casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary, awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes glistening she took my hand and led me to the casket. “This is an amazing coincidence,” she said. “Those three young men, that just left, were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim “traded” them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size…they came to pay their debt. We’ve never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,” she confided, “but, right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in the world.”

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three, magnificently shiny, red marbles.

JUST REMEMBER: After a while, you learn the subtle differences between holding a hand and chaining a soul; and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t mean security; and you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises, and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open, with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child…you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure, that you really are strong, and you really do have worth. And you learn and learn. With every good-bye you learn.

Canadian Tribute to The United States

This, from a Canadian newspaper, is worth sharing. America: The Good Neighbor.

Widespread but only partial news coverage was given recently to a remarkable editorial broadcast from Toronto by Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian television commentator. What follows is the full text of his trenchant remarks as printed in the Congressional Record:

This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth. Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

When the France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it. When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped.

The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, war mongering Americans.

I’d like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC10? If so, why don’t they fly them? Why do all the International lines except Russia fly American Planes?

Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you automobiles.

You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon – not once, but several times – and safely home again.

You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.

When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.

I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don’t think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I’m one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those.

Stand proud, America!

I Have a Friend

Around the corner I have a friend
In this great city that has no end,
Yet the days go by and weeks rush on,
And before I know it, a year is gone

And I never see my old friend’s face,
For life is a swift and terrible race,
He knows I like him just as well,
As in the days when I rang his bell,
And he rang mine.

We were much younger then,
And now we are busy, tired men.
Tired of playing a foolish game,
Tired of trying to make a name.

“Tomorrow” I say “I will call on Jim”
“Just to show that I’m thinking of him.”
But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes,
And distance between us grows and grows.

Around the corner!- yet miles away,
“Here’s a telegram sir-”
“Jim died today.”
And that’s what we get and deserve in the end.
Around the corner, a vanished friend.

If you love someone, tell them. Remember always to say what you mean. Never be afraid to express yourself. Take this opportunity to tell someone what they mean to you.

Seize the day and have no regrets. Most importantly, stay close to your friends and family, for they have helped make you the person that you are today and that’s what it’s all about anyway.

The difference between expressing love and having regrets is that the regrets may stay around forever.

Friendship and Thanks

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.”

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends that afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.”
He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now.

I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. And my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Damn boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.
Kyle was valedictorian of his class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.

Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than I did and all the girls loved him!

Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach … but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and
gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and Dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth. Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse.

Bill Gates Addresses High School Students

Here’s some advice Bill Gates recently dished out at a high school speech about 11 things they did not learn in school.

RULE 1
Life is not fair. Get used to it.

RULE 2
The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

RULE 3
You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with a car phone, until you earn both.

RULE 4
If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.

RULE 5
Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping-they called it opportunity.

RULE 6
If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

RULE 7
Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

RULE 8
Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

RULE 9
Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

RULE 10
Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

RULE 11
Be nice to nerds. Chances are you will end up working for one.

Teaching School

Let me see if I’ve got this right. You want me to go into a room with all those kids, and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning. Not only that, I’m to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, behaviorally modify disruptive behavior, and observe them for signs of abuse, drugs, and T-shirt messages.

I am to fight the war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for guns and raise their self-esteem. I’m to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, how and where to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook and how to apply for a job, but I am never to ask if they are in this country illegally.

I am to check their heads occasionally for lice, maintain a safe environment, recognize signs of potential antisocial behavior, offer advice, write letters of recommendation for employment and scholarships, encourage respect for the cultural diversity of others, and oh yeah, teach, always making sure that I give the girls in my class fifty percent of my attention.

I’m required by my contract to be working, on my own time, summer and evenings and at my own expense towards additional certification, advance certification and a master’s degree, to sponsor the cheerleaders or the sophomore class and after school I am to attend committee and faculty meetings and participate in staff development training to maintain my current certification and employment status.

I am to collect data and maintain all records to support and document our building’s progress in the selected state mandated program to “assess and upgrade educational excellence in the public schools.”

I am to be a paragon of virtue larger than life, such that my very presence will awe my students into being obedient and respectful of authority. I am to pledge allegiance to supporting family values, a return to the basics, and my current administration.

I am to incorporate technology into the learning, but monitor all web sites for appropriateness while providing a personal one-on-one relationship with each student. I am to decide who might be potentially dangerous and/or liable to commit crimes in school or who is possibly being abused, and I can be sent to jail for not mentoring these suspicions to those in authority.

I am to make sure ALL students pass the state and federally mandated testing and all classes, whether or not they attend school on a regular basis or complete any of the work assigned.

I am to communicate frequently with each student’s parent by letter, phone, newsletter, and grade card.
I’m to do all of this with just a piece of chalk, a computer, a few books, a bulletin board, a 45 minute or less plan time, and a big smile…. on a starting salary that qualifies my family for food stamps in many states…

Is that all??

And you want me to do all of this and expect me do it WITHOUT PRAYING.

The last ride

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep. But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.

I was responding to a call from a small brick four-plex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some party people, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory in the industrial part of town. When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under such circumstances, many drivers just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked.

“Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she asked.

I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. “It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Can you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”

I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. “I don’t have any family,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.” I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light.

Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware . . . beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

The Paradox of Our Times

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses, but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, but not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the
street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space; we’ve cleaned up the air, but spoiled the soul; we’ve split the atom, but not prejudice. We have higher incomes, but lower morals; we’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are the times of tall men and short character; steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition. These are the days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this information to you, and a time when you can choose either to make a difference…….. or not.

The Window

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up. He would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look our the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Epilogue: There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

As Time Goes By

I’ve learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing “Silent Night”
Age 6

I’ve learned that our dog doesn’t want to eat my broccoli either
Age 7

I’ve learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back
Age 9

I’ve learned that just when I get my room the way I like it, Mom makes me clean it up again
Age 12

I’ve learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up
Age 14

I’ve learned that although it’s hard to admit it, I’m secretly glad my parents are strict with me
Age 15

I’ve learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice
Age 24

I’ve learned that brushing my child’s hair is one of life’s great pleasures
Age 26

I’ve learned that wherever I go, the world’s worst drivers have followed me there
Age 29

I’ve learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it
Age 30

I’ve learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don’t know how to show it
Age 42

I’ve learned that you can make someone’s day by simply sending them a little note
Age 44

I’ve learned that the greater a person’s sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others
Age 46

I’ve learned that children and grandparents are natural allies
Age 47

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow
Age 48

I’ve learned that singing “Amazing Grace” can lift my spirits for hours
Age 49

I’ve learned that motel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone
Age 50

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things:
a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights
Age 52

I’ve learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills
Age 52

I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die
Age 53

I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life
Age 58

I’ve learned that if you want to do something positive for your children, work to improve your
marriage
Age 61

I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance
Age 62

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands You need to be able to throw something back
Age 64

I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people, and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you
Age 65

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision
Age 66

I’ve learned that everyone can use a prayer
Age 72

I’ve learned that it pays to believe in miracles And to tell the truth, I’ve seen several
Age 75

I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one
Age 82

I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone People love that human touch-holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back
Age 85

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn
Age 92

A Whisper or a Brick

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared.

Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door! He slammed on the brakes and spun the Jag back to the spot from where the brick had been thrown. He jumped out of the car, grabbed some kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, “What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?!!”

Building up a head of steam he went on. “That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?!!”

“Please, mister, please. I’m sorry, I didn’t know what else to do!” pleaded the youngster. “I threw the brick because no one else would stop…”

Tears were dripping down the boys chin as he pointed around the parked car. “It’s my brother,” he said. “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.”

Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.”

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He lifted the young man back into the wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checking to see that everything was going to be okay.

“Thank you and God bless you,” the grateful child said to him. The man then watched the little boy push his brother down the sidewalk toward their home.

It was a long walk back for the man to his Jaguar….a long, slow walk. He never did repair the side door. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.

God whispers in your soul and speaks to your heart. Sometimes when you don’t have time to listen, He has to throw a “brick” at you.

It’s your choice: Listen to the whisper-or wait for the brick.

A Cowboy’s Guide to Life

Don’t squat with your spurs on.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier ‘n puttin’ it back in.

If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.

If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.

After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

There’s two theories to arguin’ with a woman. Neither one works.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.

Never slap a man who’s chewin’ tobacco.

It don’t take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don’t be surprised if they learn their lesson.

When you’re throwin’ your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

There are three kinds of men: 1. The one that learns by reading. 2. The few who learn by observation. 3. The rest of them have to tinkle on the electric fence for themselves.

A Grandfather Answers Back

One evening a grandson was talking to his grandfather about current events.

He asked what he thought about the shootings at schools, the computer age, and just things in general.

The granddad replied, “Well, let me think a minute … I was born before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees and the pill.

There was no radar, credit cards, laser beams or ball-point pens. Man had not invented pantyhose, air conditioners, dishwashers, clothes dryers, well the clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air and man hadn’t yet walked on the moon.

Your grandmother and I got married first — and then lived together. Every family had a father and a mother, and every boy over 14 had a rifle that his dad taught him how to use and respect. And they went hunting and fishing together. Until I was 25, I called every man older than I, ‘Sir’ — and after I turned 25, I still called policemen and every man with a title, ‘Sir.’

Sundays were set aside for going to church as a family, helping those in need, and visiting with family or neighbors.

We were before gay-rights, computer-dating, dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy.

Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and common sense. We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions.

Serving your country was a privilege; living here was a bigger privilege.

We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent. Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.

Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening breeze started.

Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends — not purchasing condominiums.

We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing ear rings. We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President’s speeches on our radios. And I don’t ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey.

If you saw anything with ‘Made in Japan’ on it, it was junk. The term ‘making out’ referred to how you did on your school exam.

Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, and instant coffee were unheard of. We had 5 & 10-cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents.

Ice cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel. And if you didn’t want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.

You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600, but who could afford one? Too bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.

In my day, ‘grass’ was mowed, ‘coke’ was a cold drink, ‘pot’ was something your mother cooked in, and ‘rock music’ was your grandmother’s lullaby.

‘Aids’ were helpers in the Principal’s office, ‘chip’ meant a piece of wood, ‘hardware’ was found in a hardware store, and ‘software’ wasn’t even a word.

And we were the last generation to actually believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby.

No wonder people call us “old and confused” and say there is a generation gap

… and I am only 55 years old come September 2nd.

A Wonderful Message by George Carlin after 9/11/01

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.

We spend more, but have less. We buy more, but enjoy less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life.

We’ve added years to life not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.

We conquered outer space but not inner space.

We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.

We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less.

We plan more, but accomplish less.

We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.

We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.

A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it.

A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

Adversity

A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In one he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and the last he placed ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

The daughter sucked her teeth and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. In about twenty minutes he and turned off the burners. He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them a bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her he asked. “Darling, what do you see.”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.

She humbly asked. “What does it mean Father?”

He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity, boiling water, but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you,” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean? ”

The Cracked Water Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer, “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said. The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said,

“As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them. There is a lot of good out there.

Two Cows

Socialism: You have two cows. You keep one and give one to your neighbor.

Communism: You have two cows. The government takes them both and provides you with milk.

Fascism: You have two cows. The government takes them and sells you the milk.

Bureaucracy: You have two cows. The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and then pours it down the drain.

Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

Corporate: You have two cows. You sell one, force the other to produce the milk of four cows and then act surprised when it drops dead.

Democracy: You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point that you must sell them both in order to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow which was a gift from your government.

Don’t Stop Making Pancakes

Six-year-old Brandon decided one Saturday morning to fix his parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor.

He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten. Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was getting very bad. He didn’t know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove (and he didn’t know how the stove worked!).

Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor. Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky.

And just then he saw Dad standing at the door. Big crocodile tears welled up in Brandon’s eyes.

All he’d wanted to do was something good, but he’d made a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him. Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process.

That’s how God deals with us. We try to do something good in life, but it turns into a mess. Our marriage gets all sticky or we insult a friend, or we can’t stand our job, or our health goes sour. Sometimes we just stand there in tears because we can’t think of anything else to do. That’s when God picks us up and loves us and forgives us, even though some of our mess gets all over Him.

But just because we might mess up, we can’t stop trying to “make pancakes” for God or for others. Sooner or later we’ll get it right, and then they’ll be glad we tried…

Four Basic Management Lessons

*** Lesson Number One ***
A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day. A small rabbit saw the crow, and asked him, “Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?”

The crow answered: “Sure, why not.”

So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Management Lesson: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

*** Lesson Number Two ***

A turkey was chatting with a bull. “I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree,” sighed the turkey, “but I
haven’t got the energy.”

“Well, why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings?” replied the bull. “They’re packed with Nutrients.”

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it actually gave him enough strength to reach the first branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fortnight,
there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Soon, he was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

Management Lesson: Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there.

*** Lesson Number Three ***

When the body was first made, all the parts wanted to be Boss. The brain said, “I should be Boss because I control the whole body’s responses and functions.”

The feet said, “We should be Boss as we carry the brain about and get him to where he wants to go.

“The hands said, “We should be the Boss because we do all the work and earn all the money.”

And so it went on and on with the heart, the lungs and the eyes until finally the rectum spoke up. All the parts laughed at the idea of the rectum being the Boss. So the rectum went on strike, blocked itself up and refused to work. Within a short time the eyes became crossed, the hands clenched, the feet twitched, the heart and lungs began to panic and the brain fevered.

Eventually they all decided that the rectum should be the Boss, so the motion was passed. All the other parts did all the work while the Boss just sat and passed out the crap!

Management Lesson: You don’t need brains to be a Boss – any asshole will do.

*** Lesson Number Four ***

A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold, the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field.
While it was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on it. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, it began to realize how warm it was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.

A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him!

Management Lesson:

1) Not everyone who dumps on you is your enemy.
2) Not everyone who gets you out of trouble is your friend.
3) And when you’re in deep doo doo, keep your mouth shut!

Things to Remember

If you want your dreams to come true, don’t oversleep.

The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention.

Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.

The best vitamin for making friends….B1.

The 10 commandments are not multiple choice.

The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.

Minds are like parachutes…they function only when open.

Ideas won’t work unless YOU do.

One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time.

One who lacks the courage to start has already finished.

The heaviest thing to carry is a grudge.

Don’t learn safety rules by accident.

We lie the loudest when we lie to ourselves.

Jumping to conclusions can be bad exercise.

A turtle makes progress when it sticks its head out.

One thing you can give and still keep…is your word.

A friend walks in when everyone else walks out.

The pursuit of happiness is the chase of a lifetime.

The Weight of the World, the Responsibility of a Generation

In a message dated 9/26/01 6:11:52 PM Pacific Daylight Time, JF Towson writes :

This was the same man who came within a hair’s breadth of losing an election in November, who withstood the political chicanery of the Florida Democratic machine to fix the vote count. This was the same man who admitted to having a drinking problem in younger years, and whose happy-go-lucky lifestyle led him to mediocre grades in college and an ill-fated oil venture. This was the same man who mangled syntax even more than his father, and whose speaking missteps became known as “Bushisms.”

And on Friday, this was the man who bore the weight of the world and the responsibilities of a generation with dignity, class, confidence, appropriate solemnity, and even much-needed wit.

One thing struck me during the campaign, that difficult, roller coaster campaign that now seems years ago. It was that George W. Bush never seemed to get ruffled. Whether the theft of a campaign debate video or the sudden (some would say, vicious) release of a DUI arrest two decades ago at a key moment, “W” did not lose his cool. At times, his staff seemed overconfident, as did many of us. A 350-electoral-vote win, they quietly implied . . . and we optimistically believed.

Then they counted the votes, miscounted others, and re-counted still others. At the end, he was still there. Whereas Al Gore almost frantically huffed and puffed, trying to gin up something out of nothing, Bush quietly but confidently waited at his ranch. He didn’t do nothing: that is the mistake people have constantly made with this man, confusing lack of bluster for absence of action. No, his team of attorneys and the iron-willed James Baker were carrying out his orders, but W stayed in the background, confident and faithful.

You see, it is this faith business that confounded everyone. We have had such actors and liars in public office that we have looked skeptically whenever anyone used the term faith. But this was the same man who was the first politician ever in recent memory to name Jesus Christ as the lord of his life on public TV. Not an oblique reference to being “born-again” or having a “life change.” He said the un-PC-like phrase, “Jesus Christ,” to which his handlers and advisors, no doubt, off stage, were also saying, “Jesus Christ” in a much different tone.

God has a way of honoring those who honor him. David learned that while he was on the run from Saul’s armies. Job learned that after his time of horrible tribulation. The Messiah said so Himself, many times.

So this was the man who actually put faith into practice. He actually loves those who hate him. It is a staggering concept, so foreign in daily occurrence that few thought it anything but grandstanding. Even one of W’s biggest supporters chided the president for adhering to his “new tone.”

Yet there he was, again and again, thanking the Democrats. Appointing his enemies to high places in his government. Inviting his former foes and their wives to private movie screenings, and (I know, this is hard to stomach) even treating them with dignity. See, this was the man who learned early on how faith worked: by praying for his enemies, you “heap burning coals upon their heads.” Happen to catch Bill Clinton at the National Prayer Service? Didn’t look too good, did he?

This was the man who named the absolute top people in national security and defense, then caught barbs from the politically righteous that this one didn’t have the right views on abortion or that one didn’t have the right position on guns.

And on September 11, at mid-morning, this was the man thrust into a position only known by Roosevelt, Churchill, Lincoln, and Washington. The weight of the world was on his shoulders, and the responsibility of a generation was on his soul.

So this same man—the one that the media repeatedly attempted to tarnish with charges of “illegitimacy,” and the one whose political opponents desperately sought to stonewall until mid-term elections—walked to his seat at the front of the National Cathedral just three days after the two most impressive symbols of American capitalism and prosperity virtually evaporated, along with, perhaps, thousands of Americans.

As he sat down next to his wife, immediately I knew that even if his faith ever faltered, hers didn’t. I have never seen a more peaceful face than Laura Bush, whose eyes seemed as though they were already gazing at the final outcome . . . not just of this conflict, but of her reward in Heaven itself. In this marriage, you indeed got two for the price of one.

The appropriate songs were sung, as one said, to in an almost unbearably emotional service. I, for one, broke down innumerable times merely listening on tape delay on the radio. How the man spoke without blubbering, I’ll never know.

Then came the defining moment of our generation. Some people fondly recall their Woodstock days. Others mark with grim sadness November 22, 1963, as the day America lost her innocence. But I firmly believe when the history of this time is written, it will be acknowledged by friend and foe alike that President George W. Bush came of age in that cathedral and lifted a nation off its knees.

It wasn’t so much his words, though read a decade later; they will indeed be as stirring as any. The conflict would end, he noted, “at a time of our choosing.” It certainly wasn’t his emotion. What had to have been one of the most stunning exhibitions of self-control in presidential history, W was able to deliver his remarks without losing either his resolve or his focus, or, more important, his confidence. It was as if God’s hand, which had guided him through that sliver-thin election, now rested fully on him. His quiet confidence let our enemies know . . . and believe me, they know . . . that they made a grave miscalculation.

Now, this same man who practiced his faith through a tough election, who steeled his convictions even more in a drawn-out Florida battle, and who never once gave in to the temptation to get in the gutter with his foes (well, ok, maybe the “Clymer” comment is an exception), this same man now lifted the weight of the world and the responsibility of a generation and put it on his modest shoulders as though it were another unpleasant duty.

As he walked back to his seat, the camera angle was appropriate. He was virtually alone in the scene, alone in that massive place of God, just him and the Lord. But that’s the way it’s always been in his life recently. In that brief time it took him to return to his seat, I believe he heard words to the effect of, “You can do this, George. I am with you always. And you can do this well, because I am going before you. And don’t worry about the weight. I’ve got it.” And I saw in his eyes a quiet acknowledgement. “I know. Thank you, Lord.”

Back at his seat, when W sat down, George H. W. Bush reached over and took his son’s hand. The elder Bush always struck me as a religious man, but not someone who shared his life on a daily basis with the Lord. George H. W. treats the Father like a respected uncle, visiting him on appropriate holidays and knowing the relationship is real, but not constant. Anyway, I believe that in that fatherly squeeze George H. W. said, “I wish I could do this for you, son, but I can’t. You have to do this on your own.” W squeezed back and gave him that look of peace that Laura had kept throughout. It said, “I don’t have to do it alone, dad. I’ve got help.”

Going Full Circle

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you immensely. You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch.

With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! And, from there, you can direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Just 20, perhaps 25 years,” replied the American.

“And after that?” said the Mexican?

“Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing.

“When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?”

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife, and spend your evenings drinking and playing the guitar with your friends.

Shake It Off and Take A Step Up

One day a farmer’s donkey fell into an abandoned well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway; so it just wasn’t worth it to him to try to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They each grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.

Realizing what was happening, the donkey at first cried and wailed horribly. Then, a few shovels full later, he quieted down completely. The farmer peered down into the well, and was astounded by what he saw. With every shovel full of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up on the new layer of dirt. As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off, to the shock and astonishment of all the neighbors!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick is to not let it bury you, but to shake it off and use it to take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, and never, NEVER giving up!

Remember, shake it off and take a step up!

The sequel to this story is that the donkey came back and kicked the crap out of the farmer who let him fall into the well in the first place and then tried to bury him.

Moral: When you try to cover your ass, it always comes back to get you.