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What An Inspiration!

Freckles vs. Wrinkles

An elderly woman and her little grandson, whose face was sprinkled with bright freckles, spent the day at the zoo. Lots of children were waiting in line to get their cheeks painted by a local artist who was decorating them with tiger paws.

"You've got so many freckles, there's no place to paint!" a girl in the line said to the little fella. Embarrassed, the little boy dropped his head. His grandmother knelt down next to him. "I love your freckles. When I was a little girl I always wanted freckles, she said, while tracing her finger
across the child's cheek. "Freckles are beautiful!"

The boy looked up, "Really?" "Of course," said the grandmother. "Why, just name me one thing that is prettier than freckles."

The little boy thought for a moment, peered intensely into his grandma's face, and softly whispered, "Wrinkles."

Don't you just love it?

Lessons From Geese

By Angeles Arrien

This Fall, when you see geese heading south for the winter flying along in "V" formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way.  

FACT: As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an "uplift" for the bird immediately following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock has at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on it's own.

LESSON: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.  

FACT: When a goose flies out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone. It quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front of it.

LESSON: If we have as much common sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others. It is harder to do something alone than together.

FACT: When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation, and another goose flies to the point position.

LESSON: It is sensible to take turns doing the hard and demanding tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent of each others skills, capabilities, and unique arrangements of gifts, talents, or resources.

FACT: The geese flying in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

LESSON: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one's heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek. We need to make sure our honking is encouraging and not discouraging.  

FACT: When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two other geese will drop out of formation with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their flock.

LESSON: If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by our colleagues and each other in difficult times as well as in good!

All I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

By Robert Fulghum

Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup - they all die. So do we.

And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: Look. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and sane living.

Think of what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nations to always put things back where found them and cleaned up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is better to hold hands and stick together.

If a Dog Were Your Teacher

If a dog were your teacher you would learn stuff like.....

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When it's in your best interest--practice obedience.

Let others know when they've invaded your territory.

Take naps and stretch before rising. Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass. On hot days, drink lots of water, and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout, run right back and make friends.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

 Five Great Lessons

1 - Most Important Lesson

During my second month of engineering school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.

Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say, 'Hello'."

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned that her name was Dorothy.

2 - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 PM, an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down, and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s.

The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him.

Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console colour TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read:

"Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.


Mrs. Nat King Cole."

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always Remember Those Who Serve

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

"How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.

"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it. "Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table, and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies.

You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson - The Obstacle in Our Path

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.

The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When It Counts

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save her..."

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?"

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor--he thought that he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

You see, after all, understanding and attitude, are everything.

Donkey In The Well

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a 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, it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly.

Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. 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, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!

The Stranger

A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small town.   From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.  As I grew up, I never questioned his place in our family.

Mom taught me to love the Word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller.  He could weave the most fascinating tales.  Adventures, mysteries, and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening.  He was like a friend to the whole family.   He took Dad, Bill, and me to our first major league baseball game.  He was always encouraging us to see the movies, and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars.

The stranger was an incessant talker.  Dad didn't seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietly get up-while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places-go to her room, read her Bible, and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.

You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house--not from us, from our friends,or adults.  Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm.  To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted.

My Dad was a teetotaler who didn't permit alcohol in his home-not even for cooking.   But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life.  He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often.

He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely--too much, too freely--about sex.  His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.

As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more.  Time after time he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked, and never asked to leave.

More than forty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive.   But if I were to walk into my parents' den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk, and watch him draw his pictures.

His name?  We always just called him . . . TV. 

The Dress

Do you like my dress?" she asked of a passing stranger. "My mommy made it just for me." She said with a tear in her eye.

"Well, I think it's very pretty, so tell me little one, why are you crying?"

With a quiver in her voice the little girl answered. "After Mommy made me this dress, she had to go away."

"Well, now," said the lady, "with a little girl like you waiting for her, I'm sure she'll be right back."

"No ma'am, you don't understand," said the child through her tears, "my Daddy said that she's up in heaven now with Grandfather."

Finally the woman realized what the child meant, and why she was crying.

Kneeling down she gently cradled the child in her arms and together they cried for the mommy that was gone.

Then suddenly the little girl did something that the woman thought was a bit strange. She stopped crying, stepped back from the woman and began to sing. She sang so softly that it was almost a whisper. It was the sweetest sound the woman had ever heard, almost like the song of a very small bird.

After the child stopped singing she explained to the lady, "My mommy used to sing that song to me before she went away, and she made me promise to sing it whenever I started crying and it would make me stop." "See," she exclaimed, "it did, and now my eyes are dry!"

As the woman turned to go, the little girl grabbed her sleeve, "Lady, can you stay just a minute? I want to show you something."

"Of course," she answered, "what do you want me to see?"

Pointing to a spot on her dress, she said, "Right here is where my Mommy kissed my dress, and here," pointing to another spot, "and here is another kiss, and here, and here. Mommy said that she put all those kisses on my dress so that I would have her kisses for every boo-boo that made me cry."

Then the lady realized that she wasn't just looking at a dress, no, she was looking at a Mother who knew that she was going away and would not be there to kiss away the hurts that she knew her daughter would get. So she took all the love she had for her beautiful little girl and put them into this dress, that her child now so proudly wore. She no longer saw a little girl in a simple dress, she saw a child wrapped in her Mother's love.

This is what we do as Mothers and get passed on from our Mothers, how to give and show love even when it is invisible to others.

The Room

by Joshua Harris

(Circulated on Internet e-mail as written by Brian Moore, or as "Author Unknown")

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room.

There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings.

As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I have liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I have betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," Comfort I have Given," Jokes I Have Laughed at." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: Things I've yelled at my brothers". Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature. When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I have listened to," I realized the files grew to contain
their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music but more by the vast time I knew that file

When I came to a file marked "Lustful thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the
Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.

I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at
me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again.

He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things.

But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me. Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no, " as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it
was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door.There were still cards to be written.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil. 4:13

A Strong Woman Versus A Woman Of Strength

A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape...but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape.

A strong woman isn't afraid of anything...but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear.
A strong woman won't let anyone get the best of her...but a woman of strength gives the best of herself to everyone.
A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future...a woman of strength realizes life's mistakes can also be God's blessings and capitalizes on them.
A strong woman walks sure footedly...but a woman of strength knows God will catch her when she falls.
A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face...but a woman of strength wears grace.
A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey...but a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong. 

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. There is a lot of good in us! Remember to appreciate all the different people in your life! Or as I like to think of it--if it hadn't been for the crackpots in my life, it would have been pretty boring and not so interesting...

Thank you all my crackpot friends...

Man In The Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to a mirror and look at yourself',
And see what THAT man has to say.

For it isn't your father or mother or wife
Who judgment upon you must pass--
The man whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

Some people may think you a straight-shooting chum,
And call you a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.

He's the fellow to please, never mind all the rest,
For he's with you clear up to the end,
And you've passed the most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the man in the glass.



1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are often buried with their owners.

PART II. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier? The lesson? The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care!

Facts of life:

1. At least 5 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.
2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.
3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.
4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.
5. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.
6. You mean the world to someone.
7. If not for you, someone may not be living.
9. You are special and unique.
10. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.
11. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.
12. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.
13. When you think you have no chance at getting what you want, you probably won't get it, but if you have faith, you probably sooner or later will get it.
14. Always remember compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.
15. Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know.
16. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they're great!!!!

The List

By Sister Helen P. Mrosla

He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary's School in Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, but had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness delightful.

Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving - "Thank you for correcting me, Sister!"

I didn't know what to make of it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day.

One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice teacher's mistake. I looked at Mark and said, "If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!"

It wasn't ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, "Mark is talking again." I hadn't asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it. I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened my drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark's desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room.

As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it!! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark's desk, removed the tape, and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, "Thank you for correcting me, Sister."

At the end of the year, I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instruction in the "new math," he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in third.

One Friday, things just didn't feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves and edgy with one another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers. Charlie smiled. Mark said, "Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend."

That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling.

"Really?" I heard whispered. "I never knew that meant anything to anyone!"

"I didn't know others liked me so much."

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again.

That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual questions about the trip--the weather, my experiences in general.

There was a lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a sideways glance and simply says, "Dad?" My father cleared his throat as he usually did before something important.

"The Eklunds called last night," he began.

"Really?" I said. "I haven't heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is."

Dad responded quietly. "Mark was killed in Vietnam," he said. "The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend."

To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me about Mark.

I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, "Mark I would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me."

The church was packed with Mark's friends. Chuck's sister sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to me.

"Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. "Mark talked about you a lot," he said.

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates headed to Chuck's farmhouse for lunch. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting for me. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket.

"They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

Mark's classmates started to gather around us.

Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."

Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."

"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group.

"I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said without batting an eyelash. "I think we all saved our lists."

That's when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

 Ponder These

* A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where train stops. On my desk, I have a work station...

* If quitters never win, and winners never quit, what fool came up with "quit while you're ahead"?

* I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible whole lot more as they get older, then it dawned on me. they were cramming for their finals.

* I thought about how mothers feed their babies with little tiny spoons and forks, so I wonder what Chinese mothers use...Toothpicks?

* Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do...write to these men? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so

the mailmen could look for them while they delivered the mail?

* How much deeper would oceans be if sponges didn't live there?

* If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the OTHERS here for?

* Go ahead and take risks....just be sure that everything will turn out OK.

* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

* Ever wonder what the speed of lightning would be if it didn't zigzag?

* Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

* How come you don't ever hear about gruntled employees? And who has been dissing them anyhow?

* Since light travels faster than sound, isn't that why people appear bright until you hear them speak?

* How come "abbreviated" is such a long word?

* If it's zero degrees outside today and it's supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?

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