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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Erasing the lies we believe.

For almost 40 years, Margaret had lived with the memory of one soul-scarring day in the one-room schoolhouse she attended. From the first day Margaret came to class, she and Ms. Garner, her bitter and harsh teacher, didn’t get along. Over the years, the animosity between them only worsened until one fateful day when she was nine years old, Margaret’s life was forever altered.

That day, Margaret frantically raced into her classroom after recess, late again. Ms. Garner was furious. “Margaret!” she shouted, “we have been waiting for you! Get up here to the front of the class, right now!”

Margaret walked slowly to the teacher’s desk, was told to face the class, and then the nightmare began.

Ms. Garner ranted, “Boys and girls, Margaret has been a bad girl. I have tried to help her to be responsible. But, apparently, she doesn’t want to learn. So we must teach her a lesson. We must force her to face what a selfish person she has become. I want each of you to come to the front of the room, take a piece of chalk, and write something bad about Margaret on the blackboard. Maybe this experience will motivate her to become a better person!”

Margaret stood frozen next to Ms. Garner. One by one, the students began a silent procession to the blackboard. One by one, the students wrote their life-smothering words, slowly extinguishing the light in Margaret’s soul. “Margaret is stupid! Margaret is selfish! Margaret is fat! Margaret is a dummy!” On and on they went, until twenty-five terrible scribblings of Margaret’s “badness” screamed from the blackboard.

The venomous sentences taunted Margaret in what felt like the longest day of her life. After walking home with each caustic word indelibly written on her soul, she crawled into her bed, claiming sickness, and tried to cry the pain away, but the pain never left, and forty years later, she slumped in the waiting room of psychologist’s office, still cringing in the shadow of those twenty-five sentences. To her horror, Margaret had slowly become what the students had written.

After decades of depression and anxiety, she had finally sought help and was having the last meeting with her psychologist. Two long years of weekly counseling helped Margaret to finally extricate herself from her past. It had been a long and a difficult road, but she smiled at her counselor (how long it had been since she’d smiled!) as they talked about her readiness to move on.

“Well, Margaret,” the counselor said softly, “I guess it’s graduation day for you. How are you feeling?”

After a long silence, Margaret spoke. “I…I’m okay.”

The counselor hesitated, “Margaret, I know this will be difficult, but just to make sure you’re ready to move on, I am going to ask you to do something. I want to go back to your schoolroom and detail the events of that day. Take you time. Describe each of the children as they approach the blackboard, remember what they wrote and how you felt – all twenty-five students.”

In a way, this would be easy for Margaret. For forty years she had remembered every detail. And yet, to go through the nightmare one more time would take every bit of strength she had. After a long silence, she began the painful description. One by one, she described each of the students vividly, as though she had just seen them, stopping periodically to regain her composure, forcing herself to face each of those students one more time.

Finally, she was done, and the tears would not stop, could not stop. Margaret cried a long time before she realized someone was whispering her name. “Margaret. Margaret. Margaret.” She looked up to see her counselor starring into her eyes, saying her name over and over again. Margaret stopped crying for a moment.

“Margaret. You…you left out one person.”

“I certainly did not! I have lived with this story for forty years. I know every student by heart.”

“No, Margaret, you did forget someone. See, he’s sitting in the back of the classroom. He’s standing up, walking toward your teacher, Ms. Garner. She is handing him a piece of chalk and he’s taking it, Margaret, he’s taking it! Now he’s walking over to the blackboard and picking up an eraser. He is erasing every one of the sentences the students wrote. They are gone! Margaret, they are gone! Now he’s turning and looking at you, Margaret. Do you recognize him yet? Yes, his name is JesusLook, he’s writing new sentences on the board. ‘Margaret is loved. Margaret is beautiful. Margaret is gently and kind. Margaret is strong. Margaret has great courage.’”

And Margaret began to weep. But very quickly, the weeping turned into a smile, and then into laughter, and then into tears of joy. 

by Michael Yaconelli


Sunday, April 27, 2014

The POOREST-rich family you'll ever know.

The Rich Family In Church
By Eddie Ogan

By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.I'll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.

When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn't listen to the radio, we'd save money on that month's electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1.

We made $20 on pot holders. That month was one of the best of our lives.

Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we'd sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change.

We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before.

That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn't care that we wouldn't have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering.

We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn't own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn't seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet.

But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt rich.

When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us kids put in a $20.

As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn't say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills.

Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn't talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. 

We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn't have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night.

We had two knifes that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn't have a lot of things that other people had, but I'd never thought we were poor.



Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday! ISABELLA

Isabella, the Greek & Italian Princess-Warrior celebrated her 1st birthday!

Below are some of her favorite things:


Cheesy Bread Bowl



Hand crafted award-winning Tomato Bisque soup!


All Smiles!!


BIG smiles! 


Per request via birthday girl ...
German Chocolate Cake. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Get The man right

The following story is from the book:  "The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic" by Matthew Kelly.


Prologue


Once upon a time there was a very successful business
owner. His company had faithfully served millions of customers
for many, many years. But lately, business had not been so good,
and his competitors were just waiting for him to fail. For weeks
and months, the man pondered the crisis, but the problems were
so complex, and solutions seemed nowhere to be found.
Everyone was wondering what would happen to this great
company, so finally the businessman announced that he was hosting
a dinner for all of his employees to unveil a plan that would
save the company and return it to its former glory. He wanted to
convey to them how important each person was to the future success
of the organization.

The morning of the dinner, he was sitting in his study at home
working on his speech, when his wife came in and asked if he
would mind watching their son for a few hours while she ran
some errands. He was about to say, “I really need to focus on finishing
my speech,” but something caught his tongue and he found
himself agreeing, reluctantly.

His wife had only been gone about ten minutes when there
was a knock on the study door, and there appeared his seven year-
old son. “Dad, I’m bored!” he exclaimed. The father spent
the next couple of hours trying to amuse his son while also trying
to finish his speech. Finally he realized that if he could not find
some way to entertain his child he was never going to get his
speech finished in time.

Picking up a magazine, he thumbed through the pages until
he came to a large, brightly colored map of the world. He ripped
the picture into dozens of pieces, and led his son into the living
room. Then, throwing the pieces all over the floor, he announced,
“Son, if you can put the map of the world back together I will
give you twenty dollars.”

The boy immediately began gathering the pieces. He was
keen to earn the extra money, as he needed just twenty more dollars
to buy a toy he had been saving for since his last birthday.
The father returned to his study, thinking he had just bought
himself a couple of hours to finish working on his speech, because
he knew his seven-year-old son had no idea what the map of the
world looked like.

But five minutes later, just as he was settling into his speech,
there was another knock on the study door. There stood the
young boy holding the completed map of the world.
The father said in amazement, “How did you finish it so
quickly?” The boy smiled and said, “You know, Dad, I had no
idea what the map of the world looked like, but as I was picking
up the pieces, I noticed that on the back there was a picture of
a man.” The father smiled, and the boy continued. “So, I put a
sheet of paper down, and I put the picture of the man together,
because I knew what the man looked like. I placed another sheet
of paper on top, then holding them tightly I turned them both
over.” He smiled again and exclaimed, “I figured, if I got the man
right, the world would be right.”

The man handed his son twenty dollars. “And you’ve given
me my speech for tonight.
 
If you get the man right, you get the world right.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Story of how I became Rev. Fashion Faux-Pas.

I like to set my clothes out the night before an important event.
I follow this rule especially when the event takes place super early in the morning. I reason to myself that the more steps I can clear out of the way the night before, the more time I will have in the morning. And if you have a detector for baloney, then you’d know that the real reason I do this is so that I can sleep longer in the morning.

So there I was this past Saturday night. Isabella was going to sleep and I was scurrying about the house grabbing my dress pants, shoes, shirt and accessories. Done! All ready for Sunday morning.

I do this in the pitch black mind you. If you want the reason for this, you’ll have to reach far back into my childhood when my dad initiated the, “Are you going to pay the electric bill?" speech. Dad’s speech worked; in fact it worked so well that only an Owl has better night vision than me and my brother.

However, this past Sunday my plan backfired. And boy did it backfire badly.
Walking to my car this past Sunday I did not pay a lot of attention to the color of my pants due to my stinging anger with the fact that it was like 18 degrees AND the season of Spring was supposed be here. (You have to live in Western, Pa. to understand).

At church, I looked in the mirror and noticed that my tie, my shirt, my shoes & belt looked pretty fancy …
But something was off.
When I stepped out into the sunlight, my Black pants that I had laid out the night before suddenly, even magically, turned Navy Blue! I was now Rev. Fashion Faux-pas. I was telling a friend about this issue, and they told me that they run into this problem all the time. They also gave me a little advice on how to avoid this dreadful mistake in the future. Here is the test they perform when choosing clothes that are Black or Navy Blue. They simply get the 2 garments; hold them right next to one another, and bring them to a bright light. By placing the two colors side by side and exposing them to the light, each garment is easy to distinguish.

Do you ever feel like you spend a lot of your time trying to distinguish between what is almost right and almost wrong? I mean, spotting evil is pretty simple. Along with having an eye for what is clearly right too. But I think many suffer from not having a fine-tuned outlook on life.



Discernment these days is tough. The Apostle Paul says, "Examine everything carefully & hold fast to that which is good." Oftentimes, we do not know what is the right thing or wrong thing to do because we are not holding our decisions against the real thing. We ask our friends and family. We search the Net. Or we gauge our lives off of current trends, popularity polls or what our society finds acceptable. If that describes you, you are making the same mistake that I did last Saturday night when I picked out my dress pants in the dark. C. S. Lewis once stated, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” Perhaps this is what the Psalmist meant when he wrote, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.” Saturday night, I needed to hold my Navy Blue pants right next to the Black ones in the light to make a proper decision. Life’s journey is not a straight path as it offers many twists and turns. Do not underestimate living your life in the light! Each decision you make, whether you think it is a big or small one changes the course of your life. 

Live in the Light. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Family Game Night

It seems like quality time with your family is hard to come by these days. So many distractions! Play practice, ball games, deadlines ... does it ever end? Just last week Christen and I had one of those great night's where we shut of the TV and played old fashioned board games.

The first game we played was UNO.
It took us a few rounds to remember exactly how to play, but we figured it out. The first player to win 3 games is champion at the house. So the stakes where high. Christen won the first. I won the second. She won the next. And then in Montana-like fashion I made a stealth come-back to win 3 games to 2. 
-At least that is how I remember it.


The next game we played was Scrabble.
This was a bit tricky due to our spelling / grammar / syntax / phraseology family issues.


Here is the before shot. 
When Christen and I were still friends ...


And here is the after photo. 
Take a good look at those words folks, I am not going to say which words belong to whom, but a huge clue would be that any word you have never heard of belongs to the other player. (Let's thank Google for that).  


We had a lot of fun playing these games. It reminded me of the days when we did not have cable or Internet. Yes, you read that right. We laughed, we talked, we played together. And it felt good.


Wondering who won the Scrabble game? Take a good look at the bottom of the picture. You will see something that rarely happens in this game. 
A tie game! Can you believe it?