Thursday, February 24, 2005


The Camping Trip
By Meghan Mazour

     It was raining sideways and thundering so loud that the house shook.  Anne sat in the middle of the hardwood floor surrounded by sleeping bags, camping stove, groceries and a tent.  She wondered if the tent would be able to float in the ocean-sized puddles that were forming on the leaf-covered ground.
     In a few minutes Sam was supposed to arrive for their anniversary camping trip.  They had hardly seen each other the last few weeks.  They were both bogged down with graduate thesis and research projects.  In addition to their schoolwork, Anne taught two classes a week and Sam worked full-time for his mentor.  They knew the only way they could spend some time together was to go out of town, away from phones, computers and professors asking for last-minute favors.  This trip was going to be their reunion as well as their one-year anniversary celebration.
     "Just my luck," Anne said out loud.  "We finally have plans and it has to rain on our camping trip.  We're cursed!"
     The front door opened and there was Sam, clad in soggy hiking boots and clothes so wet they looked like they were melting.
     "Who's cursed?" he asked, plopping down on the splayed sleeping bags.  "Certainly not us.  Two wildly in-love newlyweds about to go on the world's most fabulous camping trip?"
     Anne shook her head.  "You don't really want to go camping in this weather?"
     "You bet I do!"
     Before Anne could answer, Sam stood up and walked around the room.  First, he unplugged the phone, then the computer.  He pulled down the shades and covered the television with the orange afghan they kept on the couch.  Then he began setting up the tent in the middle of the living room floor.  He brought the George Foreman grill in from the kitchen and set it up next to the tent and lit a fire in the rarely used fireplace.
     "Now," he said smiling, "have you ever seen a more beautiful campsite?"  He opened his arms wide and Anne rose and stood in his embrace, laughing as she surveyed their campsite.
     That night after they roasted hot dogs on the George Foreman grill and toasted marshmallows in the fireplace, they were tucked inside their sleeping bags.  Sam circled his arms around Anne's waist.
     "Sam," Anne said, "when we planned this night, I imagined that by now we would be watching the sunset behind House Mountain and sipping on some champagne, but, somehow, this makes it all the more special.  We don't need a romantic sunset, or a fancy bottle of champagne or beautiful scenery - we just need each other, forever.  Together we can make any situation work out right."
     Anne and Sam just celebrated their ten-year wedding anniversary.  To celebrate they did the usual; they went on a romantic camping trip - right in their own living room.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005








Big Problems, Little Miracles
By Patricia Lorenz

     My pastor called it my "midlife crisis."  Personally, I think it was just a string of rotten luck, including horrendous income changes, my son's poor health winging its way into its sixteenth straight month, medical bills that could choke a buffalo, bewilderment following cross words with two of my grown children, the empty-nest syndrome looming just months away when my youngest would be leaving for college eighteen hundred miles away, daily lower back pain due to lack of exercise, arguments with a woman in Texas over a book we were coauthoring and the fact that I'd only seen the sun for about twenty-six hours all winter.
     Call it any old psychobabble thing you want - midlife crisis, midwinter funk, too many lifestyle changes at once, mild depression, premenopausal angst, seasonal affective disorder or simply being sick of being a single parent after twelve years.  Whatever it was, the fact remained that I was not my usual cheerful self from the end of January until mid-March that year.  By then my friends and family had caught on that the big-time blues had invaded my home, heart and health.
     For a time, it was all I could do to barely take care of the three basics around the house: food, clothing and shelter.  For about a week, during the bleakest days of all, the smallest things could reduce me to tears.  I bit my lip a lot, trying to hold back tears.
     One day after a job interview, I stopped at my friend Sharon's house for a cup of tea.  She knew something waswrong, even though I didn't go into all the details.  She hugged me, poured a second cup and tried to make me laugh.  As I was leaving, Sharon noticed one of the two buttons that hold the decorative belt on the back of my winter coat was missing, causing the belt to dangle ridiculously in the back.
     At that moment, during that extremely low point in my life, I honestly could not comprehend how or when I would manage to sew that button back on.  Mortified, I felt hot tears sneaking into my lower lashes as I headed for the front door.
     Sharon pulled open my coat at the bottom.  "Hey, look here.  There's an extra button sewn inside.  Take your coat off and I'll sew it on for you right now."
     At that moment, I felt more love and more compassion from a friend than ever before in my life.  Granted, over the years, my friends have been wonderful to me, with me and for me.  But this gesture, when I was at such a state emotionally, dragging so low that a missing button was about to send me over the edge, the gift of Sharon's time, her caring and intuitive knowing that I could not muster the energy to sew that button on myself, meant more to me than if someone had come to my door with a sweepstakes check.
     When I got home that afternoon, I found a silly greeting card in the mail from another friend, Kay.  Inside, it simply said, "I've got a hug here with your name on it."  Every time I looked at that card for the next couple of weeks, I felt loved and buoyed by the light of Kay's friendship.
     A few days later, on what was probably the darkest day of all, a day I seriously considered begging my doctor for a Prozac prescription, my Texas coauthor, the one I'd had arguments with as we worked on our book, sent me a "sunshine box."  Little miracles of love spilled out of that box: chocolates, red silk tulips, sunflower candles, ginger-lily bath gel and three little juice boxes of pure Florida gold.
     My heart melted as I noticed for the first time that day that the sun was actually shining.  I took one of the juice boxes and the candy out to the deck and sat in my favorite yellow rocker in the forty-degree weather, sipping juice and basking in the glorious sunshine and in the wonderful miracle of friendship.
     That sewed-on button, the hug card and the sunshine box got me through those dark days without drugs or further mental deterioration.
     And when I began taking brisk half-hour walks every morning the following week, I did a lot of thinking about those friends of mine and their gifts of love.  Before I knew it, I understood one of the most amazing, most profound aspects of life: God has designed the world and his people in such a way that no matter how big our problems, the smallest gesture given in love from a friend can become the biggest miracle of all.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


                      Robby's Night
True Story 
At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Hondorf. I am a former elementary school music teacher from Des Moines, Iowa. I've always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons-something I've done for over 30 years. Over the years I found that children have many levels of musical ability. I've never had the pleasure of having a prodigy though I have taught some talented students.

However I've also had my share of what I call "musically challenged" pupils. One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single Mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby.

But Robby said that it had always been his mother's dream to hear him play the piano. So I took him as a student. Well, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor.
As much as Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel. But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to learn.   

Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he'd always say, "My mom's going to hear me play someday." But it seemed hopeless. He just did not have any inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled but never stopped in.   

Then one day Robby stopped coming to our lessons. I thought about calling him but assumed because of his lack of ability, that he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that he stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!

Several weeks later I mailed to the student's homes a flyer on the upcoming recital. To my surprise Robby (who received a flyer) asked me if he could be in the recital. I told him that the recital was for current pupils and because he had dropped out he really did not qualify. He said that his mother had been sick and unable to take him to piano lessons but he was still practicing. "Miss Hondorf . . I've just got to play!" he insisted.   

I don't know what led me to allow him to play in the recital. Maybe it was his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that it would be all right. The night for the recital came. The high school gymnasium was packed with parents, friends and relatives. I put Robby up last in the program before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my "curtain closer."

Well, the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing and it showed. Then Robby came up on stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked like he'd run an eggbeater through it. "Why didn't he dress up like the other students?" I thought. "Why didn't his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special night?"  

Robby pulled out the piano bench and he began. I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen Mozart's Concerto #21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys, they even danced nimbly on the ivories. He went from pianissimo to fortissimo.  From allegro to virtuoso. His suspended chords that Mozart demands were magnificent! Never had I heard Mozart played so well by people his age. After six and a half minutes he ended in a grand crescendo and everyone was on their feet in wild applause.

Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy. "I've never heard you play like that Robby! How'd you do it? " Through the microphone Robby explained: "Well Miss Hondorf . . .. remember I told you my Mom was sick? Well, actually she had cancer and passed away this morning. And well . . . she was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special."   

There wasn't a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care, noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy and I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil.

No, I've never had a prodigy but that night I became a prodigy. . . of Robby's. He was the teacher and I was the pupil For it is he that taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe even taking a chance in someone and you don't know why.

Robby was killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995.


Creative Poise
By Dr. Robert Schuller

Keep a strong possibility posture as you confront your problem with creative poise. You will use Possibility Thinking to:

• Remind yourself that every problem is an unfilled need.

• Remember that success is finding a need and filling it.

• View your problem as an opportunity in disguise.

• Welcome your problem as a guideline or challenge.

• Look for and find someone somewhere who can help you solve or sublimate this problem.

If you live near the ocean, watch the waves roll in. You may see a timid swimmer who, spotting a great wave rising, panics, turns, and runs, only to be overcome by the rushing mountain of water and sent tumbling and sputtering in the surf. Now watch the surfer. He looks for and sees the savage wave swelling. He welcomes the wave with the spirit of Caleb, "Give me a mountain!" He is poised with a surfboard in his hands. As the rising, racing wave reaches full crest this Possibility Thinker mounts the liquid mountain and is lifted high and carried far!

Face your problems with creative poise and you will never be defeated.

Monday, February 14, 2005












Sometimes I think when I'm alone how life can change so fast,
We realize so many times that nothing ever lasts.
When we are young it seems as if the world will never change,
The world just keeps on spinning and our lives don't rearrange.

When I was just a teenager my whole life was ahead,
Having fun and living life with nothing yet to dread.
Yes, I had some problems but I never dwelt on sorrow,
I knew then that everything would work out by tomorrow.

Then I reached my twenties and I felt that I was grown,
I could handle anything in my direction thrown.
I had my life ahead of me and nothing in my way,
I was so enjoying life in work and also play.

Then I reached my thirties and my outlook changed again,
Now the world was not so carefree as it once had been.
New responsibilities became apart of life,
Caring for a family now my children and my wife.

Then a new horizon loomed as I reached middle age,
I then paid more attention to the headlines on the page.
I was so much more aware of worldly news events,
Middle age awakened me to such a broader sense.

The carefree life I knew was gone of being worry free,
Suddenly it seems that all events affected me.
Worry of a world gone mad and worries of myself,
Worries of a stable life and worries of my health.

Worries of the future and just what it all will be,
Worries of the ones I love that mean so much to me.
Worry will not help a thing it only hinders health,
But it seems as I get older I can't help myself.

So as I sit and watch the world that has raced by so fast,
I crave to have that carefree youth that I had in my past.
As the years pile up on me they stop me in my tracks,
Making me just realize what this old world still lacks.

It lacks the love of life we had when we were young and free,
It lacks the human kindness that we once knew it to be.
So in this world of chaos as we struggle to maintain,
With so many worries it could drive us all insane.

Stop to smell the flowers and don't dwell on negative,
Take each day as it comes by and don't forget to live.
For if we live in fear and worry thinking of the sorrow,
We will miss the day we have by thinking of tomorrow. 

Copyright © James A. Kisner.

Friday, February 11, 2005



How would you rate your level of "Inner Peace"? Enough to stay
calm in a den of lions? Enough to get through a good day? Enough
for the next five minutes, so long as everybody leaves you alone?

You may need a good case of inner peace, a disease that could
leave you stress-free and contented for years to come. A
chiropractor named Jeff Rockwell composed a list he calls
"Symptoms of Inner Peace." You may have already caught this
disease! See how many of these symptoms you exhibit:

1. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from
fears based on past experiences.

2. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

3. A loss of interest in judging self.

4. A loss of interest in judging others.

5. A loss of interest in conflict.

6. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

7. A loss of ability to worry (this is a serious symptom).

8. Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

9. Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

10. Frequent attacks of smiling through the eyes of the heart.

11. Increasing susceptibility to love extended by others as well
as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

12. An increasing tendency to let things happen.

Inner peace is a communicable disease that could possibly infect
your home or workplace. You may already be showing signs of it
and quite possibly be passing it along to others! Rockwell warns:
"If you have all or even most of the above symptoms, please be
advised that your condition of PEACE may be so far advanced as to
not be treatable."

Have you caught it?

Monday, February 7, 2005



A little girl had been shopping with her Granddaddy in Wal-Mart.
She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful blonde hair, an image of
innocence. It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over
the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no
time to flow down the spout. We all stood there under the awning and
just inside the door of the Wal-Mart.

We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed
up their hurried day. I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in
the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of
the world. Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child come
pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.

The little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we
were all caught in "Granddaddy, let's run through the rain," she said
"What?" Granddaddy asked.

"Let's run through the rain!" She repeated.

"No, honey. We'll wait until it slows down a bit," Granddaddy

This young child waited about another minute and repeated:
"Granddaddy, let's run through the rain,"

"We'll get soaked if we do," Granddaddy said.

"No, we won't, Granddaddy. That's not what you said this morning,"
the young girl said as she tugged at her Granddaddy's arm.

This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not
get wet?

"Don't you remember? When you were talking to Grandmama about her cancer! ,  you said, 'If God can get us through this, he can get us
through anything!"

The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldn't hear
anything but the rain. We all stood silently. No one came or left in
the next few minutes.

Granddaddy paused and thought for a moment about what he would
say. Now some would laugh it off and scold him for being silly. Some might
even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young  child's life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will  bloom into faith.

"Honey, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain.! If
GOD let's us get wet, well maybe we just needed washing," Granddaddy said

Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as
they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They held their
shopping bags over their heads just in case. They got soaked But they
were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the
way to their cars. And yes, I did. I ran. I got wet. I needed washing.

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions,
they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no  one can ever take away our precious memories..So, don't forget to make time  and take the opportunities to make memories everyday. To everything there is
a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

A friend sent this to me to remind me of life. Hope you enjoy it.