4 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sIndex01. The Living Bible 0602. The Bee Sting 0803. Jesus Loves Me 0904. The Right Hands 1105. The Brownies 1206. Lessons From Legos 1507. The Apple Cart 1708. God walked With You Through The Valleys 1909. Running Through The Rain 2210. Find The Opportunities 2411. Why Go To Church ? 2612. The Fern And The Bamboo 2713. Was It Coffee You Wanted ? 2914. Installing Love 3015. The Three Tress 3216. Heaven: A Guild For Travelers 3417. Don’t Leave It On The Desk 3718. A Thousand Marbles 4319. Death 4520. Elephants and Pigs 4621. The Flat Tire 4822. Let Go 5123. Psalm 23 5324. Purify of Silver 5525. God’s Ways 5626. The Mayonnaise Jar 5727. Dancing With God 5928. God and The Spider 6029. Dinner Guest 6230. The Seed 6431. The Butterfly and Flower 6732. Puppy Size 6833. The Hand 71
5 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s34. Seven Wonders of The World 7335. Why Did Jesus Fold The Napkin 7436. The Holy Alphabet 7637. The Uninvited Guest 7738. The Expensive Trash Bag 8139. The Coal Basket 8340. Paid in Full 8541. The Rich Family In The Church 8842. The Six Letter Word 9243. Little Boy 9344. Your Angel 9545. Are You God’s Wife? 9746. Perspective of Life 9847. The Many Names of Christ 10048. The Next Door Neighbor 10249. A Letter From Your Father 10650. The Pumpkin 108
6 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe Living Bible 01His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans, andno shoes.He is brilliant. Kind of profound and very, very bright. He became a Christianwhile attending college.Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservativechurch. They want to develop a ministry to the students but are not sure howto go about it.One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt,and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aislelooking for a seat.The church is completely packed and he cant find a seat. By now, people arereally looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything.Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit, and when he realizes thereare no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet.By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, adeacon is slowly making his way toward Bill.Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit.A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a caneand, as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselvesthat you cant blame him for what hes going to do.How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understandsome college kid on the floor?It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy.
7 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the mans cane. All eyesare focused on him. You cant even hear anyone breathing. The minister canteven preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do.And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With greatdifficulty, he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him sohe wont be alone.Everyone chokes up with emotion.When the minister gains control, he says, "What Im about to preach, you willnever remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget."Be careful how you live. You may be the only living Bible some people willever read.- Author Unknown
8 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe Bee Sting 02A vacationing family drives along in their car, windows rolled down, enjoyingthe warm summer breeze of the sunny day.All of a sudden a big black bee darts in the window and starts buzzing aroundinside the car. A little girl, highly allergic to bee stings, cringes in the backseat. If she is stung, she could die within an hour."Oh, Daddy," she squeals in terror. "Its a bee! Its going to sting me!"The father pulls the car over to a stop, and reaches back to try to catch thebee. Buzzing around towards him, the bee bumps against the front windshieldwhere the father traps it in his fist.Holding it in his closed hand, the father waits for the inevitable sting. The beestings the fathers hand and in pain, the father lets go of the bee.The bee is loose in the car again. The little girl again panics."Daddy, its going to sting me!" The father gently says, "No honey, hes notgoing to sting you now. Look at my hand."She sees the bees stinger in his hand. Likewise, Jesus says to us, "Look atmy hands." He has Satans sting, the sting of death, the sting of sin, the stingof deceit.Jesus has all of those stingers in His hands.When you see that nail-scarred hand, realize that, on your behalf, Jesus tookall the pain that Satan could throw at Him.He reduced Satan to a big black bee thats lost its stinger -- all Satan can do isbuzz.Thats the victory that Jesus won for you!--This story was told by Frank Peretti on the Focus on the Family RadioProgram –
9 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sJesus Loves Me 03 03While vacationing in Atlanta, I visited a church on a Sunday when they hadinvited back one of their senior pastors to preach to the congregation.He was 92 at that time and I wondered why the church had asked the oldgentleman to preach at that age. After a warm introduction and welcome, herose from his high back chair and walked slowly--with great effort and a slidinggate--to the podium.Without a note or written paper of any kind, he placed both hands on the pulpitto steady himself and then quietly and slowly he began to speak."When I was asked to come here today and talk to you, your pastor asked meto tell you what was the greatest lesson ever learned in my 50 odd years ofpreaching."I thought about it for a few days and boiled it down to just one thing that madethe most difference in my life and sustained me through all my trials."There was one thing that I could always rely on when tears and heart breakand pain and fear and sorrow paralyzed me. The only thing that would comfortwas this verse:"Jesus loves me this I knowFor the Bible tells me so.Little ones to him belongWe are weak but he is strongYes, Jesus loves me...The Bible tells me so"When he finished, the church was quiet. You actually could hear his foot stepsas he shuffled back to his chair.My pastor once told me, "I always noticed that its was the adults who chosethe childrens hymn Jesus Loves Me (for the children of course) during ahymn sing, and it was the adults who sang the loudest because I could seethey knew it the best."A friend gave me this new version of this old favorite, for those of us who havewhite hair, or no hair at all.
10 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sJESUS LOVES MEJesus loves me this I know,Though my hair is white as snow.Though my sight is growing dim,Still He bids me trust in Him.Yes, Jesus loves meYes, Jesus loves meYes, Jesus loves meThe Bible tells me so.Though my steps are oh, so slow,With my hand in His Ill go.On through life, let come what may,Hell be there to lead the way.Though I am no longer young,I have much which Hes begun.Let me serve Christ with a smile,Go with others the extra mile.When the nights are dark and long,In my heart He puts a song.Telling me in words so clear,Have no fear, for I am near.When my work on earth is done,And lifes victories have been won.He will take me home above,Then Ill understand His love.I love Jesus, does He know?Have I ever told Him so?Jesus loves to hear me say,That I love Him every day--Author Unknown
11 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe Right Hands 04A basketball in my hands is worth about $19.A basketball in Michael Jordans hands is worth about $33 million.It depends whose hands its in.A baseball in my hands is worth about $6.A baseball in Alex Rodriguezs hands is worth $25 million.It depends whose hands its in.A tennis racket is useless in my hands.A tennis racket in Roger Federers hands usually means a Wimbledon title.It depends whose hands its in.A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal.A rod in Moses hands will part the mighty sea.It depends whose hands its in.A sling shot in my hands is a kids toy.A sling shot in Davids hand is a mighty weapon.It depends whose hands its in.Two fish and five loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches.Two fish and five loaves of bread in Gods hands will feed thousands.It depends whose hands its in.Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse.Nails in Jesus Christs hands will produce salvation for the entire world.It depends whose hands its in.As you see now it depends whose hands its in.So put your concerns, your worries, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, yourfamilies and your relationships in Gods hands because...It depends whose hands its in.- Author Unknown
12 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe Brownies 05We become de-sensitized a little bit at a time.Some years ago, I walked into my office after a Sunday morning service tofind a sandwich bag on my desk containing three chocolate brownies. Somethoughtful and anonymous person who knew my love for chocolate had placedthem there, along with a piece of paper that had a short story written on it. Iimmediately sat down and began eating the first brownie as I read thefollowing story.Two teenagers asked their father if they could go the theater to watch a moviethat all their friends had seen. After reading some reviews about the movie onthe internet, he denied their request."Aw dad, why not?" they complained. "Its rated PG-13, and were both olderthan thirteen!"Dad replied: "Because that movie contains nudity and portrays immorality asbeing normal and acceptable behavior.""But dad, those are just very small parts of the movie! Thats what our friendswhove seen it have told us. The movie is two hours long and those scenesare just a few minutes of the total film! Its based on a true story, and goodtriumphs over evil, and there are other redeeming themes like courage andself-sacrifice. Even the movie review websites say that!""My answer is no, and that is my final answer. You are welcome to stay hometonight, invite some of your friends over, and watch one of the good videos wehave in our home collection. But you will not go and watch that film. End ofdiscussion."The two teenagers walked dejectedly into the family room and slumped downon the couch. As they sulked, they were surprised to hear the sounds of theirfather preparing something in the kitchen.They soon recognized the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven,and one of the teenagers said to the other, "Dad must be feeling guilty, andnow hes going to try to make it up to us with some fresh brownies. Maybe we
13 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e scan soften him with lots of praise when he brings them out to us and persuadehim to let us go to that movie after all."About that time I began eating the second brownie from the sandwich bag andwondered if there was some connection to the brownies I was eating and thebrownies in the story. I kept reading.The teens were not disappointed. Soon their father appeared with a plate ofwarm brownies which he offered to his kids. They each took one.Then their father said, "Before you eat, I want to tell you something: I love youboth so much."The teenagers smiled at each other with knowing glances. Dad was softening."That is why Ive made these brownies with the very best ingredients. Ivemade them from scratch. Most of the ingredients are even organic. The bestorganic flour. The best free-range eggs. The best organic sugar. Premiumvanilla and chocolate."The brownies looked mouth-watering, and the teens began to become a littleimpatient with their dads long speech."But I want to be perfectly honest with you. There is one ingredient I addedthat is not usually found in brownies. I got that ingredient from our own backyard. But you neednt worry, because I only added the tiniest bit of thatingredient to your brownies. The amount of the portion is practicallyinsignificant. So go ahead, take a bite and let me know what you think.""Dad, would you mind telling us what that mystery ingredient is before weeat?""Why? The portion I added was so small. Just a teaspoonful. You wont eventaste it.""Come on, dad; just tell us what that ingredient is.""Dont worry! It is organic, just like the other ingredients.""Dad!"
14 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s"Well, OK, if you insist. That secret ingredient is organic...dog poop."I immediately stopped chewing that second brownie and I spit it out into thewaste basket by my desk. I continued reading, now fearful of the paragraphsthat still remained.Both teens instantly dropped their brownies back on the plate and beganinspecting their fingers with horror."DAD! Why did you do that? Youve tortured us by making us smell thosebrownies cooking for the last half hour, and now you tell us that you addeddog poop! We cant eat these brownies!""Why not? The amount of dog poop is very small compared to the rest of theingredients. It wont hurt you. Its been cooked right along with the otheringredients. You wont even taste it. It has the same consistency as thebrownies. Go ahead and eat!""No, Dad...NEVER!" "And that is the same reason I wont allow you to gowatch that movie. You wont tolerate a little dog poop in your brownies, so whyshould you tolerate a little immorality in your movies? We pray that God willnot lead us unto temptation, so how can we in good conscience entertainourselves with something that will imprint a sinful image in our minds that willlead us into temptation long after we first see it?"I discarded what remained of the second brownie as well as the entireuntouched third brownie. What had been irresistible a minute go had becomedetestable. And only because of the very slim chance that what I was eatingwas slightly polluted. (Surely it wasnt...but I couldnt convince myself.)What a good lesson about purity! Why do we tolerate any sin? On the day ofthe Passover, the Israelites were commanded to remove every bit of leavenfrom their homes.Sin is like leaven - a little bit leavens the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6).- by David Kirkwood
15 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sLessons From Legos 06Life might be less complicated for all of us if we each received our own Legokit at birth.Yes, I realize there is a choking hazard for children under three. But when youare old enough, you can learn a lot from Legos. I have learned that:~ There is strength in numbers. When the bricks stick together, great thingscan be accomplished.~ Playtime is important. Sometimes it doesnt matter what you are building, aslong as youre having fun.~ Disaster happens. But the pieces can be put back together again.~ Every brick has a purpose. Some are made for a specific spot - most canadapt almost anywhere - but every one will fit somewhere.~ Color doesnt matter. A blue brick will fit in the same space as a red brick.~ Size doesnt matter. When stepped on in the dark, a 2 x 2 Lego brickcauses the same amount of pain as a 2 x 8 brick.~ No one is indispensable. If one brick is unavailable, another can take itsplace.~ All Lego men are created equal (1.5625 inches tall). What they become islimited only by imagination.~ It doesnt always turn out as planned. Sometimes it turns out better. If itdoesnt, you can always try again.I thought about each of these statements as it relates to the church. Some ofthe statements apply more than others.For example, unity is a biblical concept. When Christians stick together, greatthings can be accomplished.
16 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sAnd it is an important biblical truth that every Christian has a purpose. AsPaul describes it in 1Corinthians 12 using the analogy of a human body, someof us are eyes, some are hands, still others are feet, but we all have a purposeand a role.But while it is technically true that "no one is indispensable", theteaching of scripture is that each one of us is needed and the body suffersgreatly if we dont do our part. (1Cor. 12:20-22)The greatest comparisonbetween Legos and Christianity, though, is that we are indeed a buildingshaped by Gods own hand. And every Christian is a part of that building --not a plastic building block, but a "living stone":"As you come to him, the living Stone -- rejected by men but chosen by Godand precious to him -- you also, like living stones, are being built into aspiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptableto God through Jesus Christ." (1Peter 2:4-5)- by Steve Klusmeyer
17 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe Apple Cart 07A few years ago, a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention inChicago. The convention lasted all week, and all the salesmen had assuredtheir wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday nights dinner.As they hurried to the airport to catch their return flight, they rushed down theairports corridor with their briefcases in hand. In their rush, one of thesesalesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples.Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all continuedrunning so they would make their plane.All but one.He stopped after running a few more yards, took a deep breath, andexperienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had beenoverturned.He told his buddies to go on without him, waved goodbye, told one of them tocall his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his takinga later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all overthe terminal floor.He was glad he did.The 16 year old girl running the apple cart was totally blind. She was softlycrying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same timehelplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, noone stopping and no one to care for her plight.The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put themback on the table and helped organize her display.As he did this, he noticed that many of the apples had become battered andbruised; these he set aside in another basket.When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here,please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?"
18 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sShe nodded through her tears.He continued on with, "I hope we didnt spoil your day too badly."As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out tohim, "Mister....."He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.She continued, "Are you Jesus?"He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way tocatch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul:"Are you Jesus?"Do people mistake you for Jesus?Thats our call, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell thedifference as we live and interact with a world (shopping, working, reacting toothers that are serving us) that is blind to His love, life and grace.If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would.Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. Itsactually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by afall. He stopped what He was doing and picked you and me up on a hill calledCalvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.Let us live like we are worth the price He paid.Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind ofbattle.- Author Unknown
19 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sGod Walks With You Through The Valleys 08Life is good on the mountaintops of celebration. But no matter how much wedlike to spend our lives up there, we need to walk through the valleys ofchallenges, too. Life is tough in the valleys.Still, there are valuable lessons we can learn in the valleys that we couldnever learn if we stayed on the mountaintops.If you find yourself walking through a valley right now, let God teach you as Hewalks alongside you. Heres how you can find victory in the valleys:* The Valley of Uncertainty. Remember that every day of your life is gift fromGod. Thank Him for each day, and decide to use your time as well as youcan. Dont assume that you have tomorrow; live one day at a time, as best asyou can. Praise God for giving you life and ask Him to accomplish His fullpurposes for you. Understand that nothing can take you from Earth untilGods plan for you is complete, and nothing can keep you here after Godsplan for you is complete.* The Valley of Fear. Know that God wants to use this valley to deepen yourfaith. Be assured that nothing can change the fact that you belong to God,and He is in ultimate control of your life. Ask God to make you aware of Hispresence with you and to give you the peace that only He can give - the peacethat surpasses all understanding. Remember that God will help you overcomeanything thats causing you fear. Ask Him to give you the strength youneed. Realize that God will be faithful to you, even when youre not faithful toHim. Use your time in this valley to learn how to trust God more, knowing thatstruggles build trust by showing you how to live out your faith.* The Valley of Detours. Realize that what is a detour to you because itsunexpected is, to God, just part of the expected path for your life. Even thoughyou dont know where the detour will lead, God does. Lift your eyes beyondyour circumstances to God and trust Him to guide you well. Cooperate withHis plans for you; work with Him instead of against Him. Decide to live yourlife according to biblical morals, and follow God in both adversity andprosperity. Count on Gods promises in Scripture as He works out His plan foryour life. Cling to His providence and move forward in confidence.
20 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s* The Valley of Suffering. Understand that, because God is sovereign, nothingcan get to you without first coming through Him. Know that He wont allow youto suffer any more than you can bear, and that the suffering He allows you toexperience is all for a good purpose in your life. Ask God to show you whatHe wants to learn from your suffering. Use your time of suffering to get toknow God better, love Him more, and trust Him more. Dont lose heart;seasons of suffering inevitably end, and often result in positive growth for you.* The Valley of Storms. Invite God to use the storms you go through to stretchyour faith.Understand that God can use storms for correcting (returning you to a rightrelationship with Him), perfecting (to mature you and prepare you for servingmore in His kingdom), and instructing (to teach lessons you couldnt learnotherwise). As you struggle through a storm, keep in mind that Jesus iswatching and listening, and He is rooting for you. Not only that, but He ispraying for you to remain faithful and learn to trust Him even more. Dontpanic, no matter how much rain falls, how loud the thunder crashes, or howclose the lightening strikes, because God is more powerful than any storm youcould ever experience.* The Valley of Discouragement. Seek counsel from people who are close toGod, rather than from worldly sources. Ask strong Christians to pray for you,because their prayers are powerful. Bring your problems and pains to Godand ask Him to empower you to handle them according to His will. Ask Godfor encouragement, and know that He will give it to you. Dont isolate yourselfor fall into lethargy. Remember that if you wait until you feel like doingsomething, you often wont do it, but if you decide to take action no matterwhat your feelings, your feelings will follow. For example, if you wait to readyour Bible until youre in the mood to do so, you probably wont read it. But ifyou read it anyway, despite your feelings, youll discover that youll want toread it more. Trust that obeying God will always bring His blessings into yourlife. Remember that nothing is impossible for God, and that problems areplatforms for Him to work miracles if He chooses to do so. Know that you cando all things through Christ, who strengthens you. Dont quit living a faithfullife; if you do, youll miss out on Gods best for you. Be persistent in faith untilyour circumstances change - and know that, in the process, you will changefor the better yourself.* The Valley of Confusion. While walking through this valley, dont let yourselfbecome disoriented.
21 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sStay focused on God, and firmly cling to Him and His promises, regardless ofwhat happens. Be assured that even when your circumstances confuse you,God knows what Hes doing in your life. Ask Him to help you trust Him more.* The Valley of Correction. Recognize that every crisis is an opportunity totake a personal inventory to determine how closely connected you are toGod. Ask Him to show you any sins in your life that are blocking intimacy withHim. Repent, accept His forgiveness, and embrace the grace He offers to bereconciled with Him. Know that through your repentance, God can restore youand use your life to accomplish great things.* The Valley of Sickness. Understand that sickness is a summons topray. Dont be shy about praying often, about everything you need, likehealing, strength, and wisdom. Intercede for your loved ones and yourmedical team. Keep praying until answers come. Ask others - especiallystrong Christians - to pray for you, and let them know your specificrequests. Dont wait for others to contact you; take the initiative to contactthem. Seek the best medical care you can find, pray hard, and never give uphope. Understand that, while physical healing isnt guaranteed, God willintervene according to His will if you pray and give you peace and possiblyrestored health as well.- by Whitney Hopler
22 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sRunning Through The Rain 09A little girl had been shopping with her Mom in Wal-Mart. She must havebeen 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence.It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of raingutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down thespout.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 uptheir hurried day.I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of theheavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running,splashing so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve fromthe worries of my day.The little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were allcaught in."Mom, lets run through the rain," she said."What?" Mom asked."Lets run through the rain," she repeated."No, honey. Well wait until it slows down a bit," Mom replied.This young child waited about another minute and repeated: "Mom, lets runthrough the rain.""Well get soaked if we do," Mom said."No, we wont, Mom. Thats not what you said this morning," the young girlsaid as she tugged at her Moms arm."This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not getwet?"
23 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s"Dont you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, yousaid, If God can get us through this, he can get us through anything! I knowHe will get Daddy through it ".The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldnt hear anything butthe rain. We all stood silently. No one came or left in the next few minutes.Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Nowsome would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignorewhat was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young childs life. Atime when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith."Honey, you are absolutely right. Lets run through the rain. If God lets us getwet, well maybe we just needed washing," Mom said.Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they dartedpast the cars and yes, through the puddles. They held their shopping bagsover their heads just in case. They got soaked.But they were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children allthe 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 cantake away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one canever take away your precious memories.So, dont forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memorieseveryday.To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose underheaven. Take time to run through the rain.- Author Unknown
24 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sFind The Opportunities 10There is a nine-year-old student sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, thereappeared a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants is wet.He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine howthis has happened. Its never happened before, and he knows that when theboys find out he will never hear the end of it.When the girls find out, theyll never speak to him again as long as he lives.The boy believes his heart is going to stop, he puts his head down and praysthis prayer, "Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutesfrom now Im dead meat."He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher with a look in hereyes that says he has been discovered.As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named Susie is carrying agoldfish bowl that is filled with water. Susie trips in front of the teacher andinexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boys lap.The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, "Thankyou, Lord! Thank you, Lord!"Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is theobject of sympathy.The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on whilehis pants dry out.All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around hisdesk.The sympathy is wonderful. But, as life would have it, the ridicule that shouldhave been his has been transferred to someone else--Susie.She tries to help, but they tell her to get out. "Youve done enough, you klutz!"
25 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sFinally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walksover to Susie and whispers, "You did that on purpose, didnt you?"Susie whispers back, "I wet my pants once, too."May God help us see the opportunities that are always around us to do goodhelping others.Find those opportunities, you will make a difference in someones life.- Author Unknown
26 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sWhy Go To Church? 11A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained thatit made no sense to go to church every Sunday."Ive gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heardsomething like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I cant remember asingle one of them. So, I think Im wasting my time and the pastors arewasting theirs by giving sermons at all."This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much tothe delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:"Ive been married for 30 years now. In that time, my wife has cooked some32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for asingle one of those meals. But I do know this."They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work.If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today."Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spirituallydead today!"- Author Unknown
27 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe Fern And The Bamboo 12One day I decided to quit...I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality.... Iwanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God."God", I said. "Can you give me one good reason not to quit?"His answer surprised me. "Look around", He said. "Do you see the fern andthe bamboo?""Yes", I replied."When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them.I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Itsbrilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. ButI did not quit on the bamboo.In the second year the fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothingcame from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo."In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would notquit. The same in year four."Then in the fifth year, a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to thefern, it was seemingly small and insignificant.But just six months later, the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall. It had spentthe five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what itneeded to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it couldnot handle."Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you haveactually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quiton you."Dont compare yourself to others." He said. "The bamboo had a differentpurpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful. "Your time willcome", God said to me. "You will rise high"
28 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s"How high should I rise?" I asked."How high will the bamboo rise?" He asked in return."As high as it can?" I questioned"Yes." He said, "Give me glory by rising as high as you can."I left the forest, realizing that God will never give up on me. And He will nevergive up on you.Never regret a day in your life.Good days give you happiness; bad days give you experiences; both areessential to life.- Author Unknown
29 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sWas It The Coffee You Wanted? 13A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit theirold university professor.Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work andlife. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returnedwith a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups--porcelain, plastic, glass,crystal; some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite--telling them tohelp themselves to the coffee.When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If younoticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind theplain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best foryourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress."What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciouslywent for the best cups and were eyeing each others cups."Now consider this: Life is the coffee, and the jobs, money and position insociety are the cups.They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and do not change the quality ofLife. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffeeGod has provided."So, dont let the cups drive you .... enjoy the coffee instead."- Author Unknown
30 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sInstalling Love 14Tech Support: Yes, how can I help you?Customer: Well, after much consideration, Ive decided to install Love. Can you guideme through the process?Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?Customer: Well, Im not very technical, but I think Im ready. What do I do first?Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to installLove while they are running?Tech Support: What programs are running ?Customer: Lets see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentmentrunning right now.Tech Support: No problem, Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your currentoperating system.It may remain in your permanent memory but it will no longer disrupt otherprograms. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its owncalled High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge andResentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. C an youturn those off ?Customer: I dont know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do thisas many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been completelyerased.Customer: Okay, done! Love has started installing itself. Is that normal?Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need tobegin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.
31 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sCustomer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, "Error - Program not runon external components." What should I do?Tech Support: Dont worry. It means that the Love program is set up to run on InternalHearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simplymeans you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.Customer: So, what should I do?Tech Support: Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive-Self;Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.Customer: Okay, done.Tech Support: Now, copy them to the "My Heart" directory. The system will overrideconflicting files and begin patching faulty programming. Also, you need to deleteVerbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure itis completely gone and never comes back.Customer: Got it. Hey! My heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on mymonitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is thisnormal?Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes awhile, but eventually everything gets itat the proper time. So Love is installed and running. One more thing before we hangup. Love is Freeware.Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. T hey will in turnshare it with others and return some cool modules back to you.Customer: Thank you, God.God/Tech Support: Youre welcome, Im here anytime.- Author Unknown
32 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe Three Trees 15Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing theirhopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasurechest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could bedecorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty."Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kingsand queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyonewill feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest treein the forest.People will see me on top of the Hill and look up to my branches, and think ofthe heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be thegreatest tree of all time and people will always remember me."After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group ofwoodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said,"This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to acarpenter," and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because heknew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.At the second tree, the woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree. I shouldbe able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because heknew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightenedbecause he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not cometrue. One of the Woodsmen said, "I dont need anything special from my tree,Ill take this one," and he cut it down.When the first tree arrived at the carpenter, he was made into a feed box foranimals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at allwhat he had prayed for.The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams ofbeing a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.
33 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe third tree was cut into large pieces, and left alone in the dark.The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and theyplaced the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the firsttree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but thismanger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this eventand knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the secondtree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on thewater, a great storm arose and the tree didnt think it was strong enough tokeep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said"Peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carriedthe King of Kings in its boat.Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through thestreets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they cameto a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the topof a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strongenough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible,because Jesus had been crucified on it.The moral of this story is that when things dont seem to be going your way,always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in him, Godwill give you great gifts.Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.We dont always know what Gods plans are for us. We just know that Hisways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.- Author Unknown
34 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sHeaven: A Guide For Travelers 161. ACCOMMODATIONSArrangements for first-class accommodation have been made in advance."In my Fathers house are many rooms......I am going there to prepare a place for you."(John 14:2).2. PASSPORTSPersons seeking entry will not be permitted past the gates without having properpapers/credentials and having their names registered with the ruling Authority."Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful ordeceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lambs book of life".(Revelation 21:27).3. DEPARTURE TIMESThe exact date of departure has not been announced. Travelers are advised to beprepared to leave at short notice."It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.(Acts 1:7).4. TICKETSYour ticket is a written pledge that guarantees your journey. It should be claimed andits promises kept firmly in hand."I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternallife and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24).5. CUSTOMSOnly one declaration is required while going through customs."That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that Godraised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9).
35 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s6. IMMIGRATIONAll passengers are classified as immigrants, since they are taking up permanentresidence in a new country. The quota is unlimited."......they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one..........he has prepared a cityfor them." (Hebrews 11:16).7. LUGGAGENo luggage whatsoever is necessary."For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it." (1 Timothy6:7).8. AIR PASSAGETravelers going directly by air are advised to watch daily for indications of imminentdeparture."After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in theclouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1Thessalonians 4:17).9. VACCINATION AND INOCULATIONInjections are not needed, as diseases are unknown at the destination."He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning orcrying or pain....." (Revelation 21:4).10. CURRENCYSupplies of currency may be forwarded ahead to await the passengers arrival. Deposityour heart, mind/soul & life."But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy,and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:20).11. CLOTHINGA complete and appropriate new wardrobe is provided for each traveler.
36 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s"...For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe ofrighteousness...." (Isaiah 61:10).12. TIME CHANGESResetting of watches will not be necessary to adjust to any/night schedule."The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives itlight, and the Lamb is its lamp........for there will be no night there." (Revelations21:23,25).13. RESERVATIONSBooking is now open. Apply at once.".......now is the time of Gods favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2)14. CORONATION CEREMONYThe highlight of the journey is the welcoming reception and coronation which await thearrival."Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteousJudge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longedfor his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:8).- Author Unknown
37 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sDont Leave It On The Desk! 17There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man whotaught at a small college in the western United States.Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particularinstitution. Every student was required to take this course his or her freshman year,regardless of his or her major.Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in hisclass, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing butrequired drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take ChristianityseriouslyThis year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only afreshman but was studying with the intent of going into the seminary for theministry. Steve was popular, he was well-liked and he was an imposing physicalspecimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was thebest student in the Professors class.One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him."How many push-ups can you do?"Steve said, "I do about 200 every night.""200? Thats pretty good Steve," Dr. Christianson said, "Do you think you could do300?"Steve replied, "I dont know. Ive never done 300 at a time.""Do you think you could?" again asked Dr. Christianson"Well, I can try," said Steve."Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to doabout 300 push-ups in sets of 10 for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell meyou can do it!" said the Professor.Steve said, "Well, I think I can. Yeah, I can do it."Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what Ihave in mind."
38 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sFriday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room.When class started, the Professor pulled out a big box of doughnuts. No, these werentthe normal kinds of doughnuts; they were the extra fancy BIG kind with cream centersand frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day,and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr.Christiansons class.Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want tohave one of these doughnuts?"Cynthia said, "Yes."Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-upsso that Cynthia can have a doughnut.""Sure." Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten.Then Steve again sat in the desk. Dr. Christianson then put a doughnut on Cynthiasdesk.Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want adoughnut?"Joe said, "Yes."Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have adoughnut."Steve did ten push-ups; Joe got a doughnut. And so it went, down the firstaisle. Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their doughnut.Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on thebasketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and neverlacked for female companionship.When the Professor asked, "Scott, do you want a doughnut?"Scotts reply was, "Well, can I do my own push-ups?"Dr. Christianson said, "No. Steve has to do them"
39 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThen Scott replied, "No, I dont want one then."Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you doten push-ups so Scott can have a doughnut he doesnt want."With perfect obedience, Steve started to do ten push-ups.Scott said, "Hey! I said I didnt want one!"Dr. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desk and these aremy doughnuts. Just leave it on the desk if you dont want it."And he put a doughnut on Scotts desk.Now, by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floorbetween sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You couldstart to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow. Dr. Christianson starteddown the third row. Now, the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr.Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a doughnut?"Sternly, Jenny said, "NO!"Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve would you do ten more push-ups so thatJenny can have a doughnut she doesnt want." Steve did ten; Jenny got the doughnut.By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room.The students were beginning to say "No" and there were all these uneaten doughnutson the desks. Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each doughnut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floorbeneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physicaleffort involved.Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, towatch Steve do each push-up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a setbecause he couldnt bear to watch all of Steves work for all those uneatendoughnuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the setand watch Steve closely. Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During hisclass, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down onthe steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the Professorrealized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in theroom. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.
40 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sDr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next.Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lotmore time to complete each set.Steve asked Dr. Christianson, "Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?"Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, "Well, theyre your push-ups.Youre in charge now. You can do them any way you want." And Dr. Christianson wenton.A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student came to the room and was aboutto come in when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Dont come in! Stay out!"Jason didnt know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, "No. Let himcome in."Professor Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in, you will have to do tenpush-ups for him."Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a doughnut."Dr. Christianson said, "Okay Steve, Ill let you get Jasons out of the way rightnow. Jason, do you want a doughnut?"Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. "Yes," he said, "Give me adoughnut.""Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a doughnut?"Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, washanded a doughnut and sat down.Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row and then started on those visitors seated by theheaters. Steves arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himselfagainst the force of gravity. By this time, sweat was profusely dropping off of his face,there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, andvery popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, doyou want a doughnut?"
41 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sLinda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Linda canhave a doughnut that she doesnt want."Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.Then, Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want adoughnut?"Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. "Dr. Christianson, why cant Ihelp him?"Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone. I have givenhim this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for adoughnut whether they want it or not.When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Stevehere is the only student with a perfect grade.Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve toldme that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I toldSteve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing yourpush-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.""Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a doughnut."As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he hadaccomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his armsbuckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, "And so it was, that our Savior, JesusChrist, on the cross, plead to the Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit. with theunderstanding that he had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up hislife. And, like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the deskuneaten."Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, butwearing a thin smile. "Well done, good and faithful servant," said the Professor, adding,"Not all sermons are preached in words."Turning to his class, the Professor said, "My wish is that you might understand and fullycomprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the
42 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e ssacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not only His Begotten Son,but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not wechoose to accept his gift to us, the price has been paid."Wouldnt you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?"- Author Unknown
43 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sA Thousand Marbles 18The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps its the quietsolitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe its the unbounded joyof not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturdaymorning are most enjoyable.A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the study with a steaming cup ofcoffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as atypical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems tohand you from time to time.I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio inorder to listen to a Saturday morning swap net.Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendoussignal and a golden voice.You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business.He was telling whomever he was talking with something about "a thousandmarbles." I was intrigued and stopped to listen."Well, Tom, it sure sounds like youre busy with your job. Im sure they pay youwell but its a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much.Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours aweek to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughters dance recital."Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a goodperspective on my own priorities."And thats when he began to explain his theory of a thousand marbles."You see, I sat down one day and did a little math. The average person livesabout 75 years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average,folks live about 75 years. Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came upwith 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has intheir entire lifetime.
44 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s"It took me until I was 55 years old to think about all this in any detail and bythat time I had lived through over 2800 Saturdays. I got to thinking that if Ilived to be 75, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy."So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended uphaving to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them homeand put them inside of a large, clear plastic container."Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out. I found that bywatching the marbles diminish, I focus more on the important things in life."There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help getyour priorities straight."Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take mylovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out ofthe container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have beengiven a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time."It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family,and I hope to meet you again here on the band. 75 year Old Man, this isK9NZQ, clear and going, good morning!"You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off.I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going tomeet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I wentupstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss."Cmon honey, Im taking you and the kids to breakfast."What brought thison?" she asked with a smile."Oh, nothing special, its just been a long time since we spent Saturdaytogether with the kids.Hey, can we stop at a toy store while were out?"I need to buy some marbles."- Author Unknown
45 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sDeath 19A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examinationroom"Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side."Very quietly, the doctor said, "I dont know.""You dont know? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the otherside?"The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came asound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog spranginto the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.Turning to the patient, the doctor said, "Did you notice my dog? Hes neverbeen in this room before. He didnt know what was inside. He knew nothingexcept that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang inwithout fear."I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing. Iknow my Master is there and that is enough."- Author Unknown
46 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sElephants And Pigs 20Four blind men met an elephant one day.The first blind man grabbed the elephants trunk. "An elephant is long, thin andflexible", he said."You are wrong", declared his friend, who had hold of the elephants leg. "It istall and solid like a tree trunk. I cant put my arms around the elephant.""What are you two talking about?" asked the third blind man, who was feelingthe elephants side. "An elephant is large and flat and very hard. An elephantis like a wall.""You are all wrong!" cried the blind man who had grabbed the elephantstail. "An elephant is like a piece of rope. I can hold it in one hand."The four blind men continued to argue about the elephant. They did notrealize that all of them were right and all of them were wrong. They did notknow that they each had only part of the picture, not the whole.How often have we all met with similar experiences in our own lives? Weveall been in arguments in which all the participants had only part of thetruth. Weve all been in discussions in which each person was convinced thathe or she had the full picture when in fact nobody did.Without openness and listening to the other blind men, the one who held theelephants trunk would have been convinced that the trunk was the wholeelephant and that this was all there was to know about an elephant. The manwho held the elephants leg would have had just as limited an understanding.When someone holds on to his or her own point of view and is determined notto listen to others, we describe that person as pig-headed. When a pig wantsto do something, nothing will divert it from its intentions. To act like a pig is notto act as a human being. Its not acting courteously, for a start. To act like apig means to push other people with their thoughts and ideas to one side. Itmeans to be selfish and greedy. It means to ignore the fact that other peoplealso have a right to their own point of view. It means to be even blinder thanthe four blind men who met the elephant.
47 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sHow do I approach life? Am I like one of the blind men? Am I like apig? What do I have to do in order to become more human, more likeGod? Can I be more open to other people? Can I be less greedy? Can Ibecome a listener to others needs and ideas?Lord, sometimes I am blind. Sometimes I am pig-headed and like to hold onto my own ideas. Help me, Lord, to be open to the thoughts and ideas ofothers. Help me to be more human, more like you, in the way in which I dealwith other people today. Amen- Author Unknown
48 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe Flat Tire 21My tire had a staple in it. Of all times for this to happen -- a flat tire.But when is a good time for a flat tire? Not when you are wearing a suit andyou have been traveling for nearly five hours and, adding to this bleak picture,nightfall is approaching. Wait; did I mention that I was on a countryroad? Okay, now you have the picture.There was only one thing to do: call AAA. Yeah, right. The cell phone Ibought for security and protection in moments like this isnt in range to callanyone. "No Service" it says. No kidding!I sat for a few minutes moaning and complaining. Its a male thing. Then Ibegan emptying my trunk so that I could get at the tire and tools needed to getthe job done. I carry a large plastic container filled with what I call "just-in-case-stuff." When I am training or speaking, I love to have props with me. Ihate leaving anything home so I bring everything...just in case.Cars buzz by me. A few beep sarcastically. I hear the horn saying "ha ha!" Isay, "Youll get yours!" Darkness begins to settle in. Its becoming a bitdifficult to see. The tire is on the passenger side, thank God, away from all thetraffic, but making it difficult to benefit from the headlights of passing cars.Suddenly a car pulls off the road behind me. In the blinding light I see a malefigure approaching me. "Hey, do you need any help?""Well, it certainly isnt easy doing this with a white dress shirt and suit on," Isaid. Then he steps into the light. I literally was frightened.This young guy was dressed in black. Nearly everything imaginable waspierced and tattooed. His hair was cropped and poorly cut. He had leatherbracelets with spikes on each wrist."How about I give you a hand?" he said."Well, I dont know . . . I think I can . . . "
49 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s"Come on, it will only take me a few minutes." He took right over. Whilewatching him I happened to look back at his car and noticed for the first timesomeone sitting in the passenger seat. That concerned me. I suddenly feltout numbered. Thoughts of car-jackings or robberies flashed through mymind. I really just wanted to get this over and survive it. Then, withoutwarning, it began to pour. The night sky had hidden the approachingclouds. It hit like a waterfall and made it impossible to finish the tire change."Look, my friend, just stop what youre doing. I appreciate all your help.You better get going. Ill finish after the rain stops," I said."Let me help you put your stuff back in the trunk. It will get ruined," he insisted."Then get in my car. Well wait with you," he insisted."No, really. Ill take care of everything," I said."You cant get in your car with the jack up like that. It will fall. Come on. Getin," he said as he grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the car.Crack! Boom! Lightning and thunder roared like a freight train. I literallyjumped in his car. "Oh, God, protect me!" I thought to myself.Wet and tired I settled into the back seat.Suddenly a small frail voice came from the front seat of the car. `"Are you allright?" she said as she turned around to face me."Yes, I am," I replied with much relief seeing the old woman there. It must behis Mom."My name is Beatrice and this is my neighbor Jeff," she said. "He insisted onstopping when he saw you struggling with the tire.""I am grateful for his help," I said."Me, too!" she said with a laugh. "Jeff takes me to visit my husband. We hadto place him in a nursing home and its about 30 minutes away from where welive. So, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we have a date." Shelaughed and shook her head.
50 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s"Were the remake of the Odd Couple," Jeff said as he joined in laughing."Jeff, thats incredible what you do for her. I would never have guessed, well,ah, you know I . . ." I stumbled with the words."I know. People who look like me dont do nice things," he said.Silence. I really felt uncomfortable. I never believed that I judged people bythe way they dressed. I was angry with myself for being so stupid."Jeff is a great kid. Im not the only one he helps. Hes a volunteer at ourchurch. He also works with the kids in the learning center at the low incomehousing unit in our town," said Beatrice."Im a tutor" Jeff said quietly as he stared at my car.Silence again played a part now in a moment of reflection rather than theuncomfortable feeling that I had insulted someone. He was right. What hewore on the outside was a reflection of the world as he saw it. What he woreon the inside was the spirit of giving, caring and loving the world he wanted tosee.The rain stopped and Jeff and I changed the tire. I tried to offer him moneyand of course, he refused it. As we shook hands I began to apologize for mystupidity.He said, "I experience that same reaction often. I actually thought aboutchanging the way I look. But then I saw this as an opportunity to make a point."So Ill leave you with the same question I ask everyone who takes time toknow me. If Jesus returned tomorrow and walked among us again, would yourecognize Him by what He wore or by what He did?"- Author Unknown
51 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sLet Go 22A man named Jack was walking along a steep cliff. One day when heaccidentally got too close to the edge and fell.On the way down he grabbed a branch, which temporarily stopped his fall. Helooked down and to his horror saw that the canyon fell straight down for morethan a thousand feet.He couldnt hang onto the branch forever, and there was no way for him toclimb up the steep wall of the cliff. So Jack began yelling for help, hoping thatsomeone passing by would hear him and lower a rope or something."Help! Help! Is anyone up there? Help!"He yelled for a long time, but no one heard him. He was about to give up whenhe heard a voice."Jack, Jack. Can you hear me?""Yes, yes! I can hear you. Im down here!""I can see you, Jack. Are you all right?""Yes, but who are you, and where are you?""I am the Lord, Jack. Im everywhere.""The Lord? You mean, God?""Thats Me.""God, please help me! I promise if, youll get me down from here, Ill stopsinning. Ill be a really good person. Ill serve You for the rest of my life.""Easy on the promises, Jack. Lets get you off from there; then we cantalk. Now, heres what I want you to do. Listen carefully."
52 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s"Ill do anything, Lord. Just tell me what to do.""Okay. Let go of the branch.""What?" asked Jack."I said, Let go of the branch. Just trust Me. Let go!"There was a long silence.Finally Jack yelled, "Help! Help! Is anyone else up there?"Have you ever felt like Jack?We say that we want to know the will of God, but when we find out what it is,we cant handle it.Sounds too scary or too difficult and we decide to look elsewhere.When He says, "Let go of the things that stand between you and Me, and trustMe with your life," it sounds pretty scary. But when we let go, we find freedomand safety in His hands.- Author Unknown
53 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sPsalm 23 23A special look at one of the most quoted passages of the Bible.The Lord is my ShepherdThats Relationship!I shall not wantThats Supply!He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.Thats Rest!He leadeth me beside the still waters.Thats Refreshment!He restoreth my soulThats Healing!He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness.Thats Guidance!For His name sakeThats Purpose!Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.Thats Testing!I will fear no evil.Thats Protection!For Thou art with meThats Faithfulness!Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me,Thats Discipline!Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.Thats Hope!
54 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThou anointest my head with oil,Thats Consecration!My cup runneth over.Thats Abundance!Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.Thats Blessing!And I will dwell in the house of the Lord.Thats Security! Forever.Thats Eternity!- Author Unknown
55 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sPurifier of Silver 24Malachi 3:3 says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what thisstatement meant about the character and nature of God.One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and getback to the group at their next Bible Study.That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watchhim at work. She didnt mention anything about the reason for her interestbeyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let itheat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver inthe middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all theimpurities.The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thoughtagain about the verse that says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier ofsilver." She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in frontof the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.The man answered that yes; he not only had to sit there holding the silver, buthe had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If thesilver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How doyou know when the silver is fully refined?"He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, thats easy -- when I see my image in it"If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye onyou and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.- Author Unknown
56 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sGods Ways 25The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabitedisland. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him.Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood toprotect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his littlehut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky.The worst had happened. Everything was lost. He was stunned with grief andanger."God, how could you do this to me?" he cried.Early the next day, however, he was wakened by the sound of a ship that wasapproaching the island.It had come to rescue him."How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers."We saw your smoke signal," they replied.Its easy to get discouraged sometimes when things appear to be goingbadly. But we shouldnt lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, evenin the midst of pain and suffering.Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground, it just may be asmoke signal that summons the grace of God.- Author Unknown
57 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe Mayonnaise Jar 26When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in aday are not enough, remember this story about a mayonnaise jar and twocups of coffee.A professor stood before his philosophy class with several items in front of him.When the class began, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jarand proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jarwas full. They agreed that it was.The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into thejar. He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into the open areasbetween the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar wasfull. They agreed it was.The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Ofcourse, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar wasfull and the students responded with a unanimous"yes."The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table andpoured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty spacebetween the sand. The students laughed."Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognizethat this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--God,your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favoritepassions--things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, yourlife would still be full."The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, andyour car."The sand is everything else -- the small stuff."If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for thepebbles or the golf balls."The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small
58 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sstuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you."Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with yourchildren. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out todinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fixthe disposal."Take care of the golf balls first--the things that really matter. Set yourpriorities. The rest is just sand."One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.The professor smiled. "Im glad you asked. It just goes to show you that nomatter how full your life may seem, theres always room for a couple of cups ofcoffee with a friend."- Author Unknown
59 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sDancing With God 27When I meditated on the word, Guidance, I kept seeing "dance" at the end ofthe word.I remember reading that doing Gods will is a lot like dancing. When twopeople try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesnt flow with themusic, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin toflow with the music.One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightlyin one direction or another.Its as if two become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender,willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skillfrom the other.My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.When I saw "G", I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i"."God", "u" and "i" dance." God, you and I dance.As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidanceabout my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead.My prayer for you today is that Gods blessings and mercies be upon you onthis day and everyday.May you abide in God as God abides in you.Dance together with God, trusting God to lead and to guide you through eachseason of your life.I hope you dance!- Author Unknown
60 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sGod & The Spider 28During World War II, a US marine was separated from his unit on a Pacificisland. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire, hehad lost touch with his comrades.Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction.Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small cavesin the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for themoment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him came up theridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed.As he waited, he prayed, "Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whateveryour will though, I love you and trust you. Amen."After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. Hethought, "Well, I guess the Lord isnt going to help me out of this one."Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave.As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, thespider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave."Ha," he thought. "What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent meis a spider web. God does have a sense of humor."As the enemy drew closer, he watched from the darkness of his hideout andcould see them searching one cave after another.As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement,however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on. Suddenly,he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if noone had entered for quite a while."Lord, forgive me," prayed the young man. "I had forgotten that in you, aspiders web is stronger than a brick wall."We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget whatGod can work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways.
61 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sAnd remember, with God, a mere spiders web becomes a brick wall ofprotection.- Author Unknown
62 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sDinner Guest 29Ruth went to her mailbox and there was only one letter. She picked it up andlooked at it before opening, but then she looked at the envelope again. Therewas no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter:Dear Ruth,Im going to be in your neighbourhood Saturday afternoon and Id like to stopby for a visit.Love Always,JesusHer hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. "Why would theLord want to visit me? Im nobody special. I dont have anything to offer." Withthat thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets. "Oh mygoodness, I really dont have anything to offer. Ill have to run down to thestore and buy something for dinner."She reached for her purse and counted out its contents. Five dollars and fortycents. "Well, I can get some bread and cold meat, at least” She threw on hercoat and hurried out the door. A loaf of French bread, 200g of sliced ham, anda carton of milk...leaving Ruth with a grand total of twelve cents to last her untilMonday.Nonetheless, she felt as she headed home, her small offerings tucked underher arm when she heard. "Hey lady, can you help us, lady?"Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadnt even noticed twopeople huddled in the alleyway. A man and a woman, both of them dressed inlittle more than rags."Look lady, I aint got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living outhere on the street, and, well, now its getting cold and were getting kindahungry and, well, if you could help us, lady, wed really appreciate it."Ruth looked at them both. They were dirty, they smelled bad and, frankly, shewas certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to. "Sir,Id like to help you, but Im a poor woman myself. All I have is a little ham and
63 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e ssome bread, and Im having an important guest for dinner tonight and I wasplanning on serving that to Him.""Yeah, well, OK lady, I understand. Thanks anyway."The man put his arm around the womans shoulders, turned and headed backinto the alley. As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in herheart. "Sir, wait!" The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alleyafter them. "Look, why dont you take this food. Ill figure out something else toserve my guest." She handed the man her grocery bag."Thank you lady. Thank you very much!" "Yes, thank you!" It was the manswife, and Ruth could see now that she was shivering."You know, Ive got another coat at home. Here, why dont you take this one."Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the womans shoulders. Thensmiling, she turned and walked back to the street without her coat and withnothing to serve her guest. "Thank you lady! Thank you very much!"Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too. TheLord was coming to visit and she didnt have anything to offer Him.She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticedanother envelope in her mailbox. "Thats odd. The mailman doesnt usuallycome twice in one day." She took the envelope out of the box and opened it.Dear Ruth,It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal. And thankyou, too, for the beautiful coat.Love Always,JesusJesus said that when you do something kind for one of the leastimportant people, you do a great kindness to HIM.- Author Unknown
64 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe Seed 30Successful Christian business man was growing old and knew it was time tochose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of hisdirectors or his children, he decided to do something different.He called all the young executives in his company together."It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO," he said. "I havedecided to choose one of you."The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. "I am going togive each one of you a seed today - a very special seed. I want you to plantthe seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what youhave grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants thatyou bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received aseed.He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot,soil and compost and he planted the seed.Every day, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After aboutthree weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds andthe plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, butnothing ever grew.Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, otherswere talking about their plants, but Jim didnt have a plant and he felt like afailure.Six months went by - still nothing in Jims pot. He just knew he had killed hisseed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didntsay anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizingthe soil - he so wanted the seed to grow.A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company broughttheir plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasnt going totake an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened.
65 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sJim felt sick at his stomach. It was going to be the most embarrassing momentof his life, but he knew his wife was right.He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazedat the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful--inall shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of hiscolleagues laughed. A few felt sorry for him!When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his youngexecutives.Jim just tried to hide in the back."My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown," said the CEO."Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his emptypot. He ordered the financial director to bring him to the front.Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows Im a failure! Maybe he willhave me fired!"When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to hisseed. Jim told him the story.The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and thenannounced to the young executives, "Here is your next Chief Executive! Hisname is Jim!"Jim couldnt believe it. Jim couldnt even grow his seed. How could he be thenew CEO the others said?Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room aseed.I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But Igave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them togrow.
66 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sAll of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers."When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seedfor the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty tobring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the newChief Executive!"If you plant honesty, you will reap trustIf you plant goodness, you will reap friends.If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentmentIf you plant consideration, you will reap perspective.If you plant hard work, you will reap success.If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.If you plant faith in Christ, you will reap a harvest.So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.Two thousand years ago Paul wrote to the church at Galatia the same storybut with fewer words, "What you sow, so shall you reap" (Gal. 6:7)."We are grass that will wither and die but the incorruptible seed of Gods Wordwill live forever - sow it daily into the life of your family! (1 Peter 1: 23 - 25).- Author Unknown
67 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sThe Butterfly and The Flower 31Once there was a man who asked God for a flower and a butterfly.But instead God gave him a cactus and a caterpillar.The man was sad. He didnt understand why his prayer was not answered.Then he thought, "Oh well, God has too many people to care for," and hedecided not to question.After some time, the man went to check up on the cactus and the caterpillar.To his surprise, from the thorny and ugly cactus, a beautiful flower had grown.And the unsightly caterpillar had been transformed into the most beautifulbutterfly.God always does things right.His way is always the best way, even if it seems all wrong to us.If you asked God for one thing and received another, trust Him.He will give you what you need at the appropriate time.What you want is not always what you need.Todays thorn is tomorrows flower.- Author Unknown
68 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e sPuppy Size 32The mother shook her head in frustration with her daughter. She then turnedto the volunteer at the animal shelter."Danielle keeps repeating it over and over again. Weve been back to thisanimal shelter at least five times. It has been weeks now since we started allof this," the mother told the volunteer."What is it she keeps asking for?" the volunteer asked."Puppy size!" replied the mother."Well, we have plenty of puppies, if thats what shes looking for.""I know...we have seen most of them," the mom said.Just then Danielle came walking into the office."Well, did you find one?" asked her mom."No, not this time," Danielle said with sadness in her voice. "Can we comeback on the weekend?"The two women looked at each other, shook their heads and laughed."You never know when we will get more dogs. Unfortunately, theres always asupply," the volunteer said.Danielle took her mother by the hand and headed to the door. "Dont worry, Illfind one this weekend," she said.Over the next few days, both mom and dad had long conversations with her.They both felt she was being too particular."Its this weekend or were not looking any more," Dad finally said infrustration.
69 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s"We dont want to hear anything more about puppy size either," Mom added.Sure enough, they were the first ones in the shelter on Saturday morning.By now Danielle knew her way around, so she ran right for the section thathoused the smaller dogs.Tired of the routine, mom sat in the small waiting room at the end of the firstrow of cages. There was an observation window so you could see theanimals during times when visitors werent permitted.Danielle walked slowly from cage to cage, kneeling periodically to take acloser look. One by one the dogs were brought out and she held each one.One by one she said, "Sorry, youre not the one."It was the last cage on this last day in search of the perfect pup.The volunteer opened the cage door and the child carefully picked up the dogand held it closely. This time she took a little longer."Mom, thats it! I found the right puppy! Hes the one! I know it!"she screamed with joy. "Its the puppy sighs!""But its the same size as all the other puppies you held over the last fewweeks," Mom said."No not size...the sighs. When I held him in my arms, he sighed," she said."Dont you remember? When I asked you one day what love is, you told melove depends on the sighs of your heart. The more you love, the bigger thesigh!"The two women looked at each other for a moment. Mom didnt know whetherto laugh or cry. As she stooped down to hug the child, she did a little of both.
70 | I n s p i r a t i o n a l S t o r i e s"Mom, every time you hold me, I sigh. When you and Daddy come home fromwork and hug each other, you both sigh. I knew I would find the right puppy ifit sighed when I held it in my arms," she said.Then holding the puppy up close to her face she said, "Mom, he loves me. Iheard the sighs of his heart!"Close your eyes for a moment and think about the love that makes you sigh. Inot only find it in the arms of my loved ones, but in the caress of a sunset, thekiss of the moonlight and the gentle brush of cool air on a hot day.They are the sighs of God. Take the time to stop and listen; you will besurprised at what you hear.Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take ourbreath away.- Author Unknown