Saturday, December 31, 2011

Keep Them Close

I grew up in the 40's and 50's with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it. A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress, things we keep.
It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more. But then my mother died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more. Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away, never to return. So, while we have it, it's best we love it, and care for it, and fix it when it's broken and heal it when it's sick.
This is true for marriage and old cars and children with bad report cards and dogs with bad hips and aging parents and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. Some things we keep; like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with. There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special, and so we keep them close!

Nine Things God Won't Ask When You Die.

1. God won't ask what kind of car you drove. He'll ask how many people you drove who didn't have transportation.
2. God won't ask the square footage of your house, He'll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
3. God won't ask about the clothes you had in your closet, He'll ask how many you helped to clothe.
4. God won't ask what your highest salary was. He'll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.
5. God won't ask what your job title was. He'll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.
6. God won't ask how many friends you had. He'll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.
7. God won't ask in what neighborhood you lived, He'll ask how you treated your neighbors.
8. God won't ask about the color of your skin, He'll ask about the content of your character.
9. God won't ask why it took you so long to seek Salvation. He'll lovingly take you to your mansion in heaven.

Wishing You A Good Ordinary Holiday

Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles:
A fresh pot of coffee you didn't have to make yourself.
An unexpected phone call from an old friend.
Green stoplights on your way to work or shop.
A day of little things to rejoice in.
The fastest line at the grocery store.
A good sing along song on the radio.
Your keys right where you look.
A day of happiness and perfection
Little bite-size pieces of perfection that fill you with overwhelming joy.
Knowing that the Lord is smiling on you, holding you ever so gently.
Realizing just how special and rare you really are.
A day filled with Peace, Happiness and Joy.
A very Blessed Holiday Season and 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Year Blessing

The single, most significant dimension of life is your relationship with the Source of Goodness who never ceases to sing love songs to your soul, so you:
1. find meaning, purpose, and vitality in what you do daily.
2. treasure your loved ones and let them know how dear they are to you.
3. make choices and decisions that reflect your truest self.
4. look in the mirror at least once a day and smile in happy amazement.
5. remember relationships are what count above all else - more than work or money, or all the material things we spend so much time tending.
6. live in an uncluttered manner, enjoying the freedom to be content.
7. keep your sense of humor when things don’t go the way you want.
8. marvel with each new day at the wonders of creation that constantly present themselves to you.
9. never give up on yourself when others turn away or do not understand.
10. are attentive to the health of your body, mind and spirit.
11. take risks and accept the growth-full challenges that come to you.
12. draw on your inner strength and resiliency when you are in need.
13. carry peace within yourself, allowing it to slip into the hearts of others.

So our planet becomes a place where violence, division, and war are no more.

© Joyce Rupp January 2004

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bad Day at Work

When you have a ‘I Hate my Job’ day, try this:
On your way home from work stop at your pharmacy and go to the thermometer section and purchase a rectal thermometer made by Johnson & Johnson. Be very sure you get this brand.
When you get home, lock your doors, draw the curtains and disconnect the phone so you will not be disturbed. Change into very comfortable clothing and sit in your favorite chair. Open the package and remove the thermometer. Now, carefully place it on a table or a surface so that it will not become chipped or broken.
Take out the literature from the box and read it carefully. You will notice that in small print there is a statement: 'Every Rectal Thermometer made by Johnson & Johnson is personally tested and then sanitized. '
Now, close your eyes and repeat out loud five times:
'I am so glad I do not work in the thermometer quality control department at Johnson & Johnson.'
Have a nice day; and remember, there is always someone else with a job
that is more of a pain in the butt than yours!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve 1881

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.
It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.
After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible; instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though; I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what.
Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.” The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.
After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. “Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?” You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I’d been by, but so what?
Yeah,” I said, “Why?”
“I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.” That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. “What’s in the little sack?” I asked. Shoes, they’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.”
We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying those shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.
We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, and then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?” “Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?”
Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.
“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.
“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said. He turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.” I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak.
My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.
I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”
In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it. Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes. Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn’t want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.
At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We’ll be by to get you about eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away. Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles. I don’t have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will.”
Out on the sled I felt warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and I have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and I were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children.
For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensen’s, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas At Arlington Cemetery

Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell.

Readers may be interested to know that these wreaths -- some 5,000 -- are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine. The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He's done this since 1992. A wonderful guy. Also, most years, groups of Maine school kids combine an educational trip to DC with this event to help out. Making this even more remarkable is the fact that Harrington is in one of the poorest parts of the state.

Twelve Days of Christmas

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

1. The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
2. Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
3. Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
4. The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
5. The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
6. The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
7. Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit – Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
8. The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
9. Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
10. The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
11. The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
12. The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

So there is your history for today. Now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What Happens In Heaven When We Pray?

I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, “This is the Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received.”
I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world. Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section. The angel then said to me, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them." I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.
Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. "This is the acknowledgment Section, my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed. "How is it that there is no work going on here?" I asked. "So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments." "How does one acknowledge God's blessings?” I asked. "Simple," the angel answered. Just say, "Thank you, Lord." "What blessings should they acknowledge?" I asked. "If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy."
“And if you get this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity." "If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day." "If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 700 million people in the world." "If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world." "If your parents are still alive and still married you are very rare." "If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you're unique to all those in doubt and despair."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Irish Friendship Wish

May there always be work for your hands to do;
May your purse always hold a coin or two;
May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;
May the hand of a friend always be near you;
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thanks For Your Time

A young man learns what's most important in life from the guy next door. Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.
"Jack, did you hear me?"
"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.
"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.
"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.
"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said
"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important. Mom, I'll be there for the funeral," Jack said.
As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away. The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture. Jack stopped suddenly.
"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.
"The box is gone," he said
"What box?" Mom asked.
"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value most,'" Jack said.
It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured some one from the Belser family had taken it.
"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I'd better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."
It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read. Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention.
"Mr. Harold Belser" it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside.
"Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett.
It's the thing I valued most in my life." A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.
Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved: "Jack thanks for your time! - Harold Belser."
"The thing he valued most was my time"
Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. "Why?" Janet, his assistant asked.
"I need some time to spend with my son," he said. "Oh, by the way, Janet thanks for your time!"

Friday, December 9, 2011

Where's The Line To See Jesus

While at the mall a couple of years ago, my then four year old nephew, Spencer, saw kids lined up to see Santa Claus. Having been taught as a toddler that Christmas is the Holiday that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, he asked his mom, "Where's the line to see Jesus"? My sister mentioned this to my dad, who immediately became inspired and jotted words down to a Song in just a few minutes. After putting music to the words, and doing a quick recording at home, he received a great response from friends.
He sent the song off to Nashville without much response, except for a Christian song. A writer suggested adding a bridge at the end of the first chorus. My dad then asked if I wanted to record the song to see what we could do with it. I listened to the song, made a few changes to the words to make it flow better, and we headed to Shock City Studios. It was at the studio where Chris, owner and producer, rewrote the 2nd verse and part of the Chorus. With goose bumps and emotions high, we were all hopeful and felt like we had something special. The demo was recorded in just less than two hours and sent off again to Nashville. Still no response.
Then two weeks before Christmas last year, my cousins Greg and Robbie decided to do a video to see what we could accomplish on YouTube. The first day we had 3000 hits and it soared from there. We received e-mails, phone calls, Facebook messages from People all over asking for the music, CD's, iTunes, anything. We had nothing. After a couple of meetings with Chris following the amazing response, we got serious. We headed back into the studio this past spring. This time with guitars, drums, bass, pianos, choirs. The real deal. And here we are today.
Getting iTunes set up, a website put together, and loving that thousands upon thousands of Christians have come together, remembering the true meaning of Christmas. Out of the mouths of babes come profound truths that many adults can not understand. Hopefully Spencer's observation will cause people all over to reflect on the love of Jesus, and that one day we will all stand in line to see Him. We are most thankful to our Heavenly Father to have this chance to Share our music with you. Merry Christmas everyone.
You will need to copy and paste the website below into the address line of your web browser, then click on go. http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=OExXItDyWEY&vq=medium
Every happening, great and small is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message. (Malcolm Muggeridge)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Christmas Pageant

My husband and I had been happily married (most of the time) for five years but hadn't been blessed with a baby. I decided to do some serious praying and promised God that if he would give us a child, I would be a perfect mother, love it with all my heart and raise it with His word as my guide.
God answered my prayers and blessed us with a son. The next year God blessed us with another son. The following year, He blessed us with yet another son. The year after that we were blessed with a daughter. My husband thought we'd been blessed right into poverty. We now had four children, and the oldest was only four years old. I learned never to ask God for anything unless I meant it. As a minister once told me, "If you pray for rain make sure you carry an umbrella."
I began reading a few verses of the Bible to the children each day as they lay in their cribs. I was off to a good start. God had entrusted me with four children and I didn't want to disappoint Him. I tried to be patient the day the children smashed two dozen eggs on the kitchen floor searching for baby chicks. I tried to be understanding when they started a hotel for homeless frogs in the spare bedroom, although it took me nearly two hours to catch all twenty-three frogs. When my daughter poured ketchup all over herself and rolled up in a blanket to see how it felt to be a hot dog. I tried to see the humor rather than the mess.
In spite of changing over twenty-five thousand diapers, never eating a hot meal and never sleeping for more than thirty minutes at a time, I still thank God daily for my children. While I couldn't keep my promise to be a perfect mother, I didn't even come close; I did keep my promise to raise them in the Word of God. I knew I was missing the mark just a little when I told my daughter we were going to church to worship God, and she wanted to bring a bar of soap along to "wash up" Jesus, too. Something was lost in the translation when I explained that God gave us everlasting life, and my son thought it was generous of God to give us his "last wife."
My proudest moment came during the children's Christmas pageant. My daughter was playing Mary, two of my sons were shepherds and my youngest son was a wise man. This was their moment to shine. My five-year-old shepherd had practiced his line, "We found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes." But he was nervous and said, "The baby was wrapped in wrinkled clothes." My four-year-old "Mary" said, "That's not 'wrinkled clothes,' silly. That's dirty, rotten clothes." A wrestling match broke out between Mary and the shepherd and was stopped by an angel, who bent her halo and lost her left wing. I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary dropped the doll representing baby Jesus, and it bounced down the aisle crying, "Mama-mama." Mary grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and held it tightly as the wise men arrived. My other son stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown, knelt at the manger and announced, "We are the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur." The congregation dissolved into laughter, and the pageant got a standing ovation.
"I've never enjoyed a Christmas program as much as this one," laughed the pastor, wiping tears from his eyes. "For the rest of my life, I'll never hear the Christmas story without thinking of gold, common sense and fur." "My children are my pride and my joy and my greatest blessing," I said as I dug through my purse for an aspirin.

GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Airline Captain

My lead flight attendant came to me and said, "We have an H.R. on this flight." (H.R. stands for human remains.) "Are they military?" I asked. 'Yes', she said. 'Is there an escort?' I asked. 'Yes, I already assigned him a seat'. ‘Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck? You can board him early," I said.
A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us. 'My soldier is on his way back to Virginia,’ he said. He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words. I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers.
The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the flight deck to find his seat. We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin. 'I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is on board', she said. She then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home.
The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia. The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when she asked me if there was anything I could do. 'I'm on it', I said. I told her that I would get back to her. Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail like messages.
I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio. There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with the dispatcher. I explained the situation I had on board with the family and what it was the family wanted. He said he understood and that he would get back to me. Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family.
I sent a text message asking for an update. I saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is the text: 'Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only.
When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.' I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father. The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, ‘you have no idea how much this will mean to them.' Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit. When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told that all traffic was being held for us. 'There is a team in place to meet the aircraft', we were told. It looked like it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the copilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, 'Take your time.' I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the public address button and said, ‘Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. His Name is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXXXX. Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.'
We continued the turn to the gate, came to a Stop and started our shutdown procedures. A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft.
When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of ‘God Bless You', I'm sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one. Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made.
They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier. I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety in these United States of America.

The Three Trees

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, 'Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.' Then the second tree said, 'Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take Kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will 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 Tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.'
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen 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 a carpenter, 'and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest. At the second tree the woodsman said, 'This looks like a strong tree. I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.' The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, 'I don't need anything special from my tree, I'll take this one,' and he cut it down. When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The 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 they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and 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 second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep 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 carried the King of Kings in its boat.
Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough 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 each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.

Twas the Month before Christmas

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
See the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas;
It won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate 'Winter Break'
Under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS not Happy Holiday!
Please, all Christians join together and wish everyone you meet
MERRY CHRISTMAS
Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Heavenly Father,
This day we set aside to give You thanks.
You have blessed us in so many ways:
In the beauty and richness of our land,
In the freedom we enjoy to know and love You,
And for Your surpassing goodness and
bountiful offering at our table.
You have given us even greater gifts of family and friends
Who love and care for us.
Bless this wonderful meal and each one of us.
I ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Onions and Mayonnaise

In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu. Many of the farmers and their family had contracted it and many died. The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn't believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.
Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser in AZ. She said that several years ago many of her employees were coming down with the flu and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu. Now there is a P. S. to this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:
I do know that I contacted pneumonia and needless to say I was very ill. I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put it into an empty jar...placing the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs. Sure enough it happened just like that. The onion was a mess and I began to feel better. Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.
Lots of times when we have stomach problems we don't know what to blame. Maybe it's the onions that are to blame. Onions absorb bacteria is the reason they are so good at preventing us from getting colds and flu's and is the very reason we shouldn't eat an onion that has been sitting for a time after it has been cut open.
I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, Makers of mayonnaise. Mullins is huge, and is owned by 11 brothers and sisters in the Mullins family. My friend, Jeanne, is the CEO. Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned from a chemist. The guy who gave us our tour is named Ed. He's one of the brothers Ed is a chemistry expert and is involved in developing most of the sauce formula. He's even developed sauce formula for McDonald's.
Keep in mind that Ed is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed's answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially- made Mayo is completely safe. "It doesn't even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it's not really necessary." He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the quaint essential picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on the table and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.
Ed says that! When food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the 'victim' last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). Ed says it's not the mayonnaise (as long as it's not homemade Mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It's probably the onions, and if not the onions, it's the POTATOES. He explained that onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion. He says it's not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator. It's already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!)
Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you'll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put on your sandwich, you're asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down. Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions. Please remember it is dangerous to cut an onion and try to use it to cook the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Your First Christmas Card!

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
See the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS!,
not Happy Holiday!
Please, all Christians join together and wish everyone you meet
MERRY CHRISTMAS
Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Senior Wedding

Jacob, age 92, and Rebecca, age 89, living in Miami , are all excited about their decision to get married. They go for a stroll to discuss the wedding, and on the way they pass a drugstore.. Jacob suggests they go in.
Jacob addresses the man behind the counter: "Are you the owner?"
The pharmacist answers, "Yes."
Jacob: "We're about to get married. Do you sell heart medication?"
Pharmacist: "Of course, we do."
Jacob: "How about medicine for circulation?"
Pharmacist: "All kinds."
Jacob: "Medicine for rheumatism?"
Pharmacist: "Definitely."
Jacob: "How about suppositories?"
Pharmacist: "You bet!"
Jacob: "Medicine for memory problems, arthritis and Alzheimer's?"
Pharmacist: "Yes, a large variety. The works."
Jacob: " What about vitamins, sleeping pills, Geritol, antidotes for Parkinson's disease?"
Pharmacist: "Absolutely."
Jacob: "Everything for heartburn and indigestion?"
Pharmacist: "We sure do."
Jacob: "You sell wheelchairs and walkers and canes?"
Pharmacist: "All speeds and sizes."
Jacob: "Adult diapers?"
Pharmacist: "Sure."
Jacob: " We'd like to use this store as our Bridal Registry."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Start your day right

It’s hard to imagine, but there was once a time when there weren’t coffee shops on every corner and vending machines in every workplace. Most people ate breakfast at home because it was their only opportunity to nourish themselves for the day’s work, notes Meg Galvin, a World Master Chef who teaches at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State and is a co-author of the newly released “The SparkPeople Cookbook.”
Now, plenty of people rush out of the house and grab something to eat on the way to work or school or worse, eat nothing at all. And that’s not good, Galvin and other health experts say. Turns out your mother and grandmother were right: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. (And don’t forget to drink water before, during or after breakfast. You’ve just gone for probably several hours without drinking or eating anything and are likely at least a little dehydrated.) “At our house,” Galvin said,” you’re not allowed out the door unless you’ve had breakfast.” But why? And what should – and shouldn’t – you eat before you start your day?

Four reasons why you need breakfast:
1. “Breakfast provides fuel for your brain and body since you’ve essentially been fasting overnight,” said Lisa Andrews, a registered dietitian for Pleasant Ridge-based Sound Bites Nutrition. Eating breakfast improves focus and concentration and has been linked with improved work productivity and higher test scores in kids, she said.
2. Breakfast kick starts your metabolism, Andrews said. You need carbohydrates, fat and protein to stimulate your metabolism. Without them, your body’s ability to use calories slows down, making weight control more difficult, Andrews said.
3. Breakfast helps to maintain blood sugar, which keeps up your energy throughout the morning and prevents fatigue and irritability, Andrews said. Foods with refined carbohydrates and lots of sugar, such as toaster pastries, sweetened cereals, granola and fruit bars, doughnuts and even bagels, get digested too quickly, drop blood sugar and leave you hungrier.
4. Breakfast prevents you from overeating at your next meal, Andrews and Galvin said. “Get into the habit of eating before midday,” Galvin said. “Otherwise, your hunger just builds, and all of a sudden you’ll eat anything.”

Six quick, easy and healthy breakfast ideas
1. Peanut butter or almond butter on whole wheat bread or apples, Andrews and Galvin suggested.
2. Granola, yogurt and fresh fruit, one of Galvin’s go-to breakfasts.
3. Eggs, egg whites or egg substitute cooked in a non-stick pan with vegetables chopped the night before. This takes about as long to cook as toaster pastries, Galvin said.
4. Trail mix made with Cheerios, mixed nuts and raisins – a simple breakfast for kids, Andrews said.
5. Hard boiled eggs made ahead of time with whole grain crackers or toast, Andrews said.
6. Not a breakfast fan? You don’t have to eat conventional breakfast foods in the morning, Galvin pointed out. She suggested snacking on some almonds, pecans, and Andrews recommended low-fat cheese sticks, whole grain crackers and grapes.

A vitamin with breakfast?
Pro: You’ll remember to take it, Andrews said.

Con: “If you take your vitamin in the morning, bran, shredded wheat and other high fiber foods can bind iron and calcium, which impairs absorption,” Lisa said. Many breakfast cereals are already fortified with vitamins, so a multivitamin may not even be necessary.
Andrews suggests people take vitamins before bedtime because some people complain that vitamins make them nauseated, especially pregnant women. So if that’s the case, they’d sleep through it. If you take calcium, take it at a different time of day than a vitamin containing iron, Andrews said. Calcium is best absorbed after meals in small doses, i.e., 500 mg at a time. If you take your multivitamin and calcium together, they compete for the same binding (absorption) site in the small intestine, which impairs utilization of the nutrients, she said.

Lauren Bishop (Cincinnati Enquirer 11/10/2011)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Saying Grace In A Restaurant

Last week, I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As we bowed our heads he said, 'God is good, God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justice for all! Amen!' Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, “That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!”
Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, 'Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?' As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job, and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table. He winked at my son and said, 'I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer.' 'Really?' my son asked. 'Cross my heart,' the man replied. Then, in a theatrical whisper, he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), 'Too bad she never asked God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes.'
Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment, and then did something I will remember the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and, without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, 'Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; and my soul is good already.'

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Special Guardian Angel

On July 22nd I was in route to Washington, DC, for a business trip. It was all so very ordinary, until we landed in Denver for a plane change. As I collected my belongings from the overhead locker, an announcement was made for Mr. Lloyd Glenn to see the United Customer Service Representative immediately. I thought nothing of it until I reached the door to leave the plane and I heard a gentleman asking every male if he were Mr. Glenn. At this point I knew something was wrong and my heart sunk.
When I got off the plane, a solemn-faced young man came toward me and said, "Mr. Glenn, there is an emergency at your home I do not know what the emergency is, or who is involved, but I will take you to the phone so you can call the hospital." My heart was now pounding, but the will to be calm took over. Woodenly, I followed this stranger to the distant telephone where I called the number he gave me for the Mission Hospital. My call was put through to the trauma center where I learned that my three-year-old son had been trapped underneath the automatic garage door for several minutes and that when my wife had found him he was dead. CPR had been performed by a neighbor, who is a doctor, and the paramedics had continued the treatment as Brian was transported to the hospital.
By the time of my call, Brian was revived and they believed he would live, but they did not know how much damage had been done to his brain, nor to his heart. They explained that the door had completely closed on his little sternum right over his heart. He had been severely crushed. After speaking with the medical staff, my wife sounded worried but not hysterical, and I took comfort in her calmness.
The return flight seemed to last forever, but finally I arrived at the hospital six hours after the garage door had come down. When I walked into the intensive care unit, nothing could have prepared me to see my little son lying so still on a great big bed with tubes and monitors everywhere. He was on a respirator. I glanced at my wife who stood and tried to give me a reassuring smile. It all seemed like a terrible dream. I was filled-in with the details and given a guarded prognosis. Brian was going to live, and the preliminary tests indicated that his heart was OK, two miracles in and of themselves. But only time would tell if his brain received any damage.
Throughout the seemingly endless hours, my wife was calm. She felt that Brian would eventually be all right. I hung on to her words and faith like a lifeline. Al l that night and the next day Brian remained unconscious. It seemed like forever since I had left for my business trip the day before. Finally at two o'clock that afternoon, our son regained consciousness and sat up uttering the most beautiful words I have ever heard spoken. He said, "Daddy hold me" and he reached for me with his little arms.
By the next day he was pronounced as having no neurological or physical deficits, and the story of his miraculous survival spread throughout the hospital. You cannot imagine, when we took Brian home, we felt a unique reverence for the life and love of our Heavenly Father that comes to those who brush death so closely.
In the days that followed, there was a special spirit about our home. Our two older children were much closer to their little brother. My wife and I were much closer to each other, and all of us were very close as a whole family. Life took on a less stressful pace. Perspective seemed to be more focused and balance much easier to gain and maintain. We felt deeply blessed. Our gratitude was truly profound.
Almost a month later to the day of the accident, Brian awoke from his afternoon nap and said, "Sit down Mommy. I have something to tell you." At this time in his life, Brian usually spoke in small phrases; so to say a large sentence surprised my wife. She sat down with him on his bed, and he began his sacred and remarkable story:
"Do you remember when I got stuck under the garage door? Well, it was so heavy and it hurt really badly. I called to you but you couldn't hear me. I started to cry, but then it hurt too badly. And then the ' birdies ' came." "The birdies?" my wife asked puzzled. "Yes," he replied. "The birdies made a whooshing sound and flew into the garage. They took care of me." "They did?" "Yes," he said. "One of the birdies came and got you. She came to tell you "I got stuck under the door." A sweet reverent feeling filled the room. The spirit was so strong and yet lighter than air. My wife realized that a three-year-old had no concept of death and spirits, so he was referring to the beings who came to him from beyond as "birdies" because they were up in the air like birds that fly. "What did the birdies look like?" she asked.
Brian answered, "They were so beautiful. They were dressed in white, all white. Some of them had green and white. But some of them had on just white." "Did they say anything?" "Yes," he answered. "They told me the baby would be all right." "The baby?" my wife asked confused. Brian answered. "The baby lying on the garage floor." He went on, "You came out and opened the garage door and ran to the baby. You told the baby to stay and not leave."
My wife nearly collapsed upon hearing this, for she had indeed gone and knelt beside Brian's body and seeing his crushed chest whispered, "Don't leave us Brian, please stay if you can." As she listened to Brian telling her the words she had spoken, she realized that the spirit had left his body and was looking down from above on this little lifeless form. "Then what happened?" she asked. "We went on a trip," he said, "far, far away." He grew agitated trying to say the things he didn't seem to have the words for. My wife tried to calm and comfort him, and let him know it would be okay. He struggled with wanting to tell something that obviously was very important to him, but finding the words was difficult.
"We flew so fast up in the air. They’re so pretty Mommy," he added. "And there are lots and lots of birdies." My wife was stunned. Into her mind the sweet comforting spirit enveloped her more soundly, but with an urgency she had never before known. Brian went on to tell her that the "birdies" had told him that he had to come back and tell everyone about the "birdies." He said they brought him back to the house and that a big fire truck and an ambulance were there. A man was bringing the baby out on a white bed and he tried to tell the man that the baby would be okay. The story went on for an hour.
He taught us that "birdies" were always with us, but we don't see them because we look with our eyes and we don't hear them because we listen with our ears. But they are always there, you can only see them in here (he put his hand over his heart). They whisper the things to help us to do what is right because they love us so much. Brian continued, stating, "I have a plan, Mommy. You have a plan. Daddy has a plan. Everyone has a plan. We must all live our plan and keep our promises. The birdies help us to do that because they love us so much."
In the weeks that followed, he often came to us and told all, or part of it, again and again. Al ways the story remained the same. The details were never changed or out of order. A few times he added further bits of information and clarified the message he had already delivered. It never ceased to amaze us how he could tell such detail and speak beyond his ability when he talked about his birdies. Everywhere he went, he told strangers about the "birdies." Surprisingly, no one ever looked at him strangely when he did this. Rather, they always got a softened look on their face and smiled. Needless to say, we have not been the same ever since that day, and I pray we never will be.
You have just been sent an Angel to watch over you. Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people become friends and stay a while... leaving beautiful footprints on our hearts. And we are never quite the same because we have made a good friend!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Study finds priests leading happy, healthy lives

Ave Maria Press
Although modern secular portrayals often paint the priesthood in a negative light, the results of a new study reveal that Catholic priests are among the happiest people in the country. A thorough scientific evaluation conducted by Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, clinical associate professor of pastoral studies at The Catholic University of America, shows that priests as a whole are highly satisfied with their lives.
The study, which includes data from a 2009 survey of 2,482 priests from 23 dioceses and a 2004 survey of 1,242 priests from 16 dioceses, is the basis of Msgr. Rossetti’s new book “Why Priests Are Happy: A Study of the Psychological and Spiritual Health of Priests” (Ave Maria Press, $18.95).1 Msgr. Rossetti, a licensed psychologist, told Our Sunday Visitor that at first the study’s findings may seem surprising or even counterintuitive.
But the results, he explained, are in line with secular studies and social science research conducted over the past three decades. “Studies consistently show that religious people, those with a strong spiritual life and a religious faith, tend to be happier, more well-adjusted people,” Msgr. Rossetti said. “Frankly, the reality is that religion is good for you, psychologically and spiritually.” That is especially true for priests, he said. In the study, priests tested slightly higher on standard psychological evaluations than the average person, and reported one of the highest rates of satisfaction with their work of people in any profession.
That may come as a surprise in the wake of so many negative stories about the priesthood.
“News of the death of the priesthood is greatly exaggerated,” said Msgr. Rossetti. “The fact is that there are a lot of wonderful priests in this country, and they are doing just fine.”

Avoiding burnout
Being happy, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that priests have an easy life. Msgr. Rossetti noted that priests today are often greatly overworked, yet on a standardized test they have slightly lower measures of burnout than the average working person. “That’s an apparent contradiction. Priests are overwhelmed with the amount of work that they have to do, but they are not burned out,” Msgr. Rossetti told OSV.
The reason, he explained, is that burnout is not simply a measure of the amount of work one has, but also incorporates factors such as job satisfaction and personal support. “So if you have a lot of good friends, you have a good spiritual life and you like what you do, you are probably not going to burnout,” he said.
That’s been the case for Father Scott Hastings, pastor of St. Leonard Parish in Madison, Neb. Father Hastings told OSV that while his work can sometimes be stressful, burnout is not really a concern as long as he focuses on the blessings of priestly life. “I see my work as a gift from God. ... Some days there are things that I don’t enjoy, but prayer lets me see the Lord’s hand,” Father Hastings told OSV. “Staying close to him in work and prayer is what prevents burnout. Of course, knowing one’s limits is helpful, too,” he said.

Finding Joy in Priesthood
The study conducted by Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti includes among its findings the following statistics on the happiness of today’s priests:

94.9% feel a joy that they consider a grace from God
93% have close friendships with laypersons
92.4% are happy overall being a priest
88.9% have good morale
87.6% have close friendships with fellow priests
82.1% would choose to remain celibate if priests were allowed to marry
76.6% have a good relationship with their bishop
75.1% say celibacy has been a personal grace

Joy of celibacy
Another common myth about the priesthood that Msgr. Rossetti’s study dispels is the perception that without spouses or children, priests are likely to suffer from loneliness. In reality, the results show no correlation between celibacy and loneliness, and the vast majority of priests say they find the celibate life to be a grace. According to Father Kurtis Gunwall, vocations director in the Diocese of Fargo, N.D., the assumption that priests are lonely is widespread and is often an obstacle for those discerning a vocation to the priesthood.
“The general public and most Catholics have a misconception that a man cannot be happy without sex, marriage and a family,” Father Gunwall told OSV. “Those are joyful things but they are not the ultimate source of true happiness,” he said. Father Gunwall said that he often explains the joys of celibate life by likening it to a marriage. Though some may face the temptation to be unfaithful, those who focus on the love of their spouse can remain happy in their commitment to be with only one person. “And neither do I struggle with keeping my love and commitment to God and his Church in place,” he said.
Msgr. Rossetti also noticed another interesting connection in his results — that priests who spend more time in prayer are even less likely to report feelings of loneliness. “I think that loneliness is not merely whether you are married or not. Loneliness is a measure of inability to really connect at a deep level,” said Msgr. Rossetti. “I know lots of married people who are really lonely. “But those who pray more tend to connect with God on a deeper level, and that helps them to connect with themselves and with others, so these people are living more deeply interpersonal lives,” he said.

Staying happy
Even with the study’s encouraging results, Msgr. Rossetti said that there are still areas of concern that priests should be aware of. Although the percentage of priests experiencing severe burnout is low, many still have excessive workloads, he said, and divisions over political and social issues may pose a threat to priests’ sense of unity. The best thing priests can do to avoid potential pitfalls and continue being happy, he advised, is to focus on living out their vocation to the best of their ability.
“I found that when priests live priesthood well, when they live it the way it is supposed to be lived, they are happier people,” Msgr. Rossetti explained. “That is true of all walks of life. In your marriage or your job or whatever you are doing, when you live it right; with integrity, with honesty, with good Christian values, you are going to be a happier person,” he said. And as priests continue living joyfully, he added, he is hopeful that opinions about the priesthood will change. “The reality is that being a priest is a wonderful life, and I think more people need to know that,” Msgr. Rossetti said. “It is the best-kept secret in the Catholic Church.”

By Scott Alessi - OSV Newsweekly, 10/30/2011
1 Polling thousands of clerics, new book refutes common misconceptions regarding priesthood.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Render Unto Rome

We all need to question Peter’s Pence, which is advertised as the collection for the Holy Father’s charitable uses, and determine where the money goes. The Vatican has released information about approximately 11 percent of the 2009 collection of $82 million; the rest is unaccounted for. What I learned during my research is that, for most of the last century, funds from Peter’s Pence went to plug the Vatican’s operating deficit. The Vatican Bank is not even listed as an asset on the financial records.
Secondly, we need to follow closely the wave of parish closings—an average of one church per week over the past 15 years. The priest shortage is the primary reason. Demographic changes are relevant, too. So is the reality of costly abuse litigation.
A related issue is the use of suppression, the Church-approved device by which a bishop literally seizes a parish and all of its assets for whatever uses he wants. In Ohio, for example, a bishop ordered a parish suppressed. When the parishioners raised $100,000 and hired an attorney [to keep it open], the bishop used almost $78,000 to pay his attorney to fight the parishioners. The court in that state ruled that the bishop owned the parish. When that decision was delivered, the bishop had the church torn down and used the parishioners’ money to pay the legal fees. I see this as rank injustice and a moral outrage!
Another key theme in the book relates to embezzlements by priests and lay workers. Several years ago the so called Villanova Study was conducted by the university’s graduate program for Church management. Approximately 85 percent of respondents reported embezzlement of funds from the Sunday collection. In my book I quote Michael W. Ryan, a retired U.S. Postal Inspection Service manager and rock-ribbed Catholic who has studied this for more than 20 years. He estimates that, since 1965, the Church has lost approximately $2 billion from the Sunday collection to embezzlement and theft.
Finally, a core theme of my book is that the Roman Catholic Church does not have an adequate justice system. Instead, we have these ancient tribunals at the Vatican that give bishops de facto immunity from prosecution. No matter what they do, the worst that can happen is they will “step down.”
It became clear to me in writing this book that, as Catholics, we really are shaped by a culture of passivity. It’s not just “pray, pay, obey,” as the old slogan goes. It’s deeper than that. The biggest benefit the bishops have at this time is the apathy of the average Catholic. Most people go to church to hear the Gospel, to be comforted, to be part of the community. We are not disposed to think about the Church as a political institution.
I think there is a parallel between the so-called Arab Spring and what’s going on in the Church. We are witnessing, I believe, the slow crumbling of the edifice of Catholic authority as we once knew it. We are living through the second Reformation. This one is coming from within—from Catholics who want justice from their own Church.

By Jason Berry (Excerpts taken from St. Anthony Messenger October 2011.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

I Pray You Enough

I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport.. They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they hugged, and the mother said, 'I love you, and I pray you enough.' The daughter replied, 'Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I pray you enough, too, Mom.' They kissed, and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking, 'Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?' Yes, I have,' I replied. 'Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?'
'Well...I'm not as young as I once was, she lives so far away & has her own busy life. I have some challenges ahead, and the reality is - her next trip back will be for my funeral,' she said. 'When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I pray you enough.' May I ask what that means?' She began to smile. 'That's a prayer that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.' She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and she smiled even more. 'When we said, 'I pray you enough,' we wanted the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.' Then, turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory.

I pray you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear..
I pray you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I pray you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I pray you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I pray you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I pray you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I pray you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

Then, she began to cry, and walked away.

They say, it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but an entire life to forget them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Untimely Death

To prove the truth of the Bible, a passage is quoted and several examples are given to show that the passage is true. As you read down below, mocking God can have dire consequences. The suggestion here is that a single statement made by the individual leads to his/her death because it seems to violate a single passage in the Bible. This completely overlooks the many passages that focus on God’s mercy and desire for us sinners to repent and be saved. My concern in sharing this is to alert you to the dangers of using Bible passages this way.

Did you know that death is certain but the Bible speaks of untimely death? It is written in the Bible (Galatians 6:7): 'be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sow, so shall he also reap!

Here are some men and women who mocked God:

John Lennon (Singer): Some years before, during his interview with an American Magazine, he said:
'Christianity will end, it will disappear. I do not have to argue about that I am certain. Jesus was ok, but his subjects were too simple, today we are more famous than Him' (1966). Lennon, after saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, was shot six times.

Tancredo Neves (President of Brazil): During the Presidential campaign, he said if he got 500,000 votes
from his party, not even God would remove him from Presidency. Sure he got the votes, but he got sick a day before being made President, then he died.

Cazuza (Bi-sexual Brazilian composer, singer and poet): During A show in Canecio (Rio de Janeiro),
while smoking his cigarette, he puffed out some smoke into the air and said: 'God, that's for you.' He died at the age of 32 of lung cancer in a horrible manner.

The man who built the Titanic: After the construction of Titanic, a reporter asked him how safe the
Titanic would be. With an ironic tone he said: 'not even God can sink it.’ The result: I think you all know what happened to the Titanic.

Marilyn Monroe (Actress): She was visited by Billy Graham during a presentation of a show. He said
the Spirit of God had sent him to preach to her. After hearing what the Preacher had to say, she said: 'I don't need your Jesus'. A week later, she was found dead in her apartment.

Bon Scott (Singer): The ex-vocalist of the AC/DC. On one of his 1979 songs he sang: 'Don't stop me;
I'm going down all the way, down the highway to hell'. On the 19th of February 1980, Bon Scott was found dead, he had been choked by his own vomit.

Campinas (2005) : In Campinas, Brazil a group of friends, drunk, went to pick up a friend. The mother
accompanied her to the car and was so worried about the drunkenness of her friends and she said to the daughter holding her hand, who was already seated in the car: 'My daughter, go with God and may He protect you.' She responded: 'only if He (God) travels in the trunk, cause inside here.....it's already full'. Hours later, news came by that they had been involved in a fatal accident, everyone had died, and the car could not be recognized what type of car it had been, but surprisingly, the trunk was intact. The police said there was no way the trunk could have remained intact. To their surprise, inside the trunk was a crate of eggs, none was broken.

Christine Hewitt (Jamaican Journalist and entertainer): said the Bible (Word of God) was the worst book
ever written. In June 2006 she was found burnt beyond recognition in her motor vehicle.

Let us pray: Lord, I love you and I need you, come into my heart and forgive my sins, I believe that you
died and rose from the dead on the third day. Please bless me, my family, my home and my friends in Jesus' name. Amen!

Apology to My Brothers and Sisters in developing Countries

To my brothers and sisters in developing countries:
While I was deciding which oat bran cereal to eat this morning, you were searching the ground for leftover grains from the passing wheat truck.
While I was jogging at the health center, you were working in the wealthy landowner’s field under a scorching sun.
While I was choosing between diet and regular soda, your parched lips were yearning for a sip of clean water.
While I complained about the poor service in the gourmet restaurant, you were gratefully eating a bowl of rice.
While I poured my “fresh and better” detergent into the washing machine, you stood in the river with your bundle of clothes.
While I read the newspaper and drank my cup of steaming coffee, you walked the long, dusty miles to a crowded schoolroom to learn how to read.
While I scanned the ads for a bargain on an extra piece of clothing, you woke up and put on the same shirt and pants that you have worn for many months.
While I built a fourteen-room house for the three of us, your family of ten found shelter in a one-room hut.
While I went to church last Sunday and felt more than slightly bored, you stood on the land with those around you and felt gratitude to God for being alive for one more day.
My brothers and sisters, forgive me for my arrogance and my indifference. Forgive me for my greed of always wanting newer, bigger, and better things. Forgive me for not doing my part to change the unjust systems that keep you suffering and impoverished. I offer you my promise to become more aware of your situation and to change my lifestyle as I work for the transformation of our world.

By Joyce Rupp ("Apology to My Brothers and Sisters in Developing Countries" taken from: Out Of The Ordinary: Prayers, Poems, And Reflections For Every Season)

We need St Francis now

Some things never go way. The best ones, in fact, come back to us in whole new ways. Saints are like that. The church calendar that formed me, for instance, provided the Catholic community one feast day after another designed to remind us of the heroes of the Catholic community. On those days, congregations held special masses, sang special songs, prayed special prayers and blessed special statues.
On St. Joseph's Day, for instance, the Italians had street fairs in which they spread a family feast from one end of the country to the other in honor of Joseph, the just one, who protected the Virgin and raised the child Jesus in a holy family. And so that Holy Family became a model for us all. For committed children and faithful fathers and strong mothers.
On St. Patrick's Day, the Irish carried shamrocks to remind us of Patrick's exegesis of the Trinity which, we were told, converted the pagans of Ireland and were still a clear icon to us of the God whose presence is "three in one." It was the articulation of a 'mystery' that became clearer as we got older.
On Halloween, all the saints of the church were honored for their faithful lives and their models of goodness. We dressed up to look like Therese of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola and the Children of Fatima rather than Peter Pan and The Terminator and a vampire or two on Halloween.
We named our children for saints. We dedicated our churches to their memory. We presented them as icons and heroes to our children long before celebrities and rock bands and rappers and reality shows conquered the airwaves and took their place. Long before Brittany and DeShaun and Darcy and Travis replaced Peter and Mary and John and Theresa as baptismal names.
In that period, we lived immersed in a veritable "communion of saints," surrounded by signs and images of those whose lives were themselves meant to be templates for our own.
We don't do those things anymore. For many good reasons, both liturgical and theological. At the same time, the stories and the figures go on stirring in my memory, raising old ideals, provoking old memories of beauty and fidelity and awareness and commitment. Only now those figures and those stories ring in strong new ways. For instance, Oct. 4 is the Feast of Francis of Assisi, IL poverello, the poor one, whose voice in the newly emerging mercantile class of the 13th century warned of the greed and corruption and destitution that would come when the world was run more on profit for the rich than it was on a prophetic commitment to the poor. And he was right. But Francis was known for more than protests.
Francis loved animals, too. He was a walking apostle for ecology and the protection of woodlands which having been destroyed for parking lots and housing estates leave animals who once lived in caves and forests spilling over into our largest cities. He talked to the animals. He understood them. He knew their place in creation.
Francis talked to the birds about their call to the unceasing singing of the praises of God. When the birds surrounded him, he told them, "My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in every place give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you.
He calmed the wild. The wolf Gubbio who had been ravaging animals and people alike lay down at his feet like a puppy when Francis scolded him for his violence: "All these people accuse you and curse you. But Brother Wolf, I would like to make peace between you and the people." Then Francis led the wolf into the town, and surrounded by startled citizens made a pact between them and the wolf. Because the wolf had "done evil out of hunger", the townsfolk were to feed the wolf regularly, and in return, the wolf would no longer prey upon them or their flocks. In this manner Gubbio was freed from the menace of the predator."
No doubt about it. In a world where species after species is disappearing under the rubric of "progress," where animals are being used for research on materials and cosmetics, where the boundaries between forests and cities are fast disappearing, where bears show up in shopping districts of major cities and crocodiles show up on people's front lawns, we need St Francis now. It is also becoming clear that Francis knew what we are only now discovering.
In our time, the science that separated us from nature is now declaring that animals, too, have intelligence, have emotions, have needs like ours. Research by Dr. Filippo Aureli, professor of animal behavior and co-director of the Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology in Liverpool, England, indicates that the study of animal emotions, particularly in birds and primates is providing new insight and information on the emotions of humans, as well as the feelings of animals.
Well, I am an animal lover, too. And I have been threatening for years now that my last book would be Two Dogs and a Parrot: The Spiritual Lessons I Have Learned From My Pets. The parrot, named "Bennie" for obvious Benedictine reasons, is the most obvious educator of them all.
From Bennie I am learning persistence and emotional sensitivity. Both of which are needed in this world of invisible women and neglected children.
Persistence is a very good thing for a woman to know in a man's church. If Bennie needs something, she simply refuses to give up trying to get it. She will knock at her hopper until it gets filled, until the door gets opened, until you put her on your shoulder and make her a real part of the community.
Emotional sensitivity, the awareness of the needs of needy others, is her forte. She stretches herself out on the top of her cage, thin as a pencil, rigid as a piece of steel and stares at you until you stop work and give her the loving she seeks, for her sake and yours. She teaches us to be very aware of very small signals in life.
No wonder that churches to this day bless animals on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis. St. Francis would find it all very normal, very necessary. From where I stand, we need to take another look at what animals have to teach us today, yes, but we have to take another look at what the saints have to say to us today, too. Somehow or other, the models we have put in their stead have not, as a class, managed to fill the gaps.
And what does the Lord ask of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

By Joan Chittister

Monday, October 10, 2011

God's "Phone" Number

Hello God, I called tonight to talk a little while I need a friend who'll listen to my anxiety and trial. You see, I can't quite make it through a day just on my own. I need your love to guide me, so I’ll never feel alone. I want to ask you please to keep my family safe and sound. Come and fill their lives with confidence for whatever fate they're bound. Give me faith, dear God, to face each hour throughout the day, and not to worry over things I can't change in any way. I thank you God, for being home and listening to my call, for giving me such good advice when I stumble and fall.
Your number, God, is the only one that answers every time. I never get a busy signal, never had to pay a dime. So thank you, God, for listening to my troubles and my sorrow. Good night, God, I love You, too, and I’ll call again tomorrow! Please bless all my friends and family too.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Little Southern Humor

A group of Alabama friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for the day. That night, one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under the weight of an eight-point buck. "Where's ben?" the others asked. "Ben had a stroke o' some kind. He's a couple of miles back up the trail," the successful hunter replied. "You left beny layin' out there and carried the deer back?" they inquired. "A tough call," nodded the hunter. "But I figured no one's gonna steal ben!"
The owner of a golf course in Georgia was confused about paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help. He called her into his office and said, "Y'all graduated from the University of Georgia and I need some help. If I wuz to give yew $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you take off?" The secretary thought a moment, and then replied, "Everthang but my earrings."
A senior citizen in Louisiana was overheard saying ... "When the end of the world comes, I hope to be in Louisiana ." When asked why, he replied, "I'd rather be in Louisiana 'cause everythang happens in Louisiana 20 years later than in the rest of the world."
The young man from Mississippi came running into the store and said to his buddy, "Bubba, somebody just stole your pickup truck from the parking lot!" Bubba replied, "Did y'all see who it was?" The young man answered, "I couldn't tell, but I got the license number."
A man in North Carolina had a flat tire, pulled off on the side of the road, and proceeded to put a bouquet of flowers in front of the car and one behind it. Then he got back in the car to wait. A passerby studied the scene as he drove by, and was so curious he turned around and went back. He asked the fellow what the problem was. The man replied, "I got a flat tahr." The passerby asked, "But what's with the flowers?" The man responded, "When you break down they tell you to put flares in the front and flares in the back. I never did understand it neither."
A Tennessee State trooper pulled over a pickup. The trooper asked, "Got any ID?" The driver replied, "Bout whut?"
The Sheriff pulled up next to the guy unloading garbage out of his pick-up into the ditch. The Sheriff asked, "Why are you dumping garbage in the ditch? Don't you see that sign right over your head." "Yep," he replied. "That's why I'm dumpin' it here, 'cause it says: 'Fine For Dumping Garbage.' "

Monday, October 3, 2011

Advice from Snopes.com

Any time you see an email that says "forward this on to '10' (or however many) of your friends", "sign this petition", or "you'll get bad luck" or "you'll get good luck" or "you'll see something funny on your screen after you send it" or whatever --- it almost always has an email tracker program attached that tracks the cookies and emails of those folks you forward to. The host sender is getting a copy each time it gets forwarded and then is able to get lists of 'active' email addresses to use in spam emails or sell to other spammers. Even when you get emails that demand you send the email on if you're not ashamed of God/Jesus --- that is email tracking, and they are playing on our conscience. These people don't care how they get your email addresses - just as long as they get them. Also, emails that talk about a missing child or a child with an incurable disease "how would you feel if that was your child" --- email tracking. Ignore them and don't participate!
Almost all emails that ask you to add your name and forward on to others are similar to that mass letter years ago that asked people to send business cards to the little kid in Florida who wanted to break the Guinness Book of Records for the most cards. All it was, and all any of this type of email is, is a way to get names and 'cookie' tracking information for telemarketers and spammers -- to validate active email accounts for their own profitable purposes.
You can do your Friends and Family members a great favor by sending this information to them. You will be providing a service to your friends. And you will be rewarded by not getting thousands of spam emails in the future! Do yourself a favor and stop adding your name(s) to those types of listing regardless how inviting they might sound! Or make you feel guilty if you don't! It's all about getting email addresses and nothing more. You may think you are supporting a great cause, but you are not! Instead, you will be getting tons of junk mail later and very possibly a virus attached! Plus, we are helping the spammers get rich! Let's not make it easy for them! Email petitions are not acceptable to Congress of any other organization - i.e. Social security, etc. To be acceptable, petitions must have a "signed signature" and full address of the person signing the petition, so this is a waste of time and you are just helping the email trackers.

Tips for Handling Telemarketers
Three Little Words That Work! The three little words are: 'Hold On, Please...' Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt. Then when you eventually hear the phone company's 'beep-beep-beep' tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task. These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting..
Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end? This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone. This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a 'real' sales person to call back and get someone at home. What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine that dialed the call, and it kicks your number out of their system. Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer!!!

Junk Mail Help:
When you get 'ads' enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these 'ads' with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away. When you get those 'pre-approved' letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope. Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 44 cents postage, 'IF' and when they receive them back. It costs them nothing if you throw them away! The postage was around 50 cents before the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-paid return envelopes. Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back! If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on anything you send them. You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! It still costs them 44 cents. The banks and credit card companies are currently getting a lot of their own junk back in the mail, but folks, we need to overwhelm them. Let's let them know what it's like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all they're paying for it...Twice! Let's help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that's why they need to increase postage costs again. You get the idea!

Cosby Has Done It Again

I have decided to become a write-in candidate for president in the year 2012. Here is my platform:

1. Any use of the phrase: 'Press 1 for English’ is immediately banned! English is the official language; speak it or wait outside of our borders until you can.
2. We will immediately go into a two year isolationist attitude in order to straighten out the greedy big business posture in this country. America will allow NO imports, and we'll do no exports. We will use the 'Wal-Mart’s policy, ‘If we don’t have it, you don't need it.' We'll make it here and sell it here!
3. When imports are allowed, there will be a 100% import tax on it coming in here.
4. All retired military personnel will be required to man one of the many observation towers located on the southern border of the United States (six month tour). They will be under strict orders not to fire on south bound aliens.
5. Social Security will immediately return to its original state. If you didn't put nuttin in, you AIN'T getting nuttin out. Neither the President nor any other politician will be able to touch it.
6. Welfare. -- Checks will be handed out on Fridays, at the end of the 40 hour school week, the successful completion of a urinalysis test for drugs, and passing grades.
7. Professional Athletes -- Steroids? The FIRST time you check positive you're banned from sports ... for life.
8. Crime -- We will adopt the Turkish method, i.e., the first time you steal, you lose your right hand. There are no more 'life sentences'. If convicted of murder, you will be put to death by the same method you chose for the victim you killed: gun, knife, strangulation, etc.
9. One export of ours will be allowed: wheat; because the world needs to eat. However, a bushel of wheat will be the exact price of a barrel of oil.
10. All foreign aid, using American taxpayer money, will immediately cease and the saved money will help to pay off the national debt and, ultimately, lower taxes. When disasters occur around the world, we'll ask The American People if they want to donate to a disaster fund and each citizen can make the decision as to whether, or not, it's a worthy cause.
11. The Pledge of Allegiance will be said every day at school and every day in congress.
12. The National Anthem will be played at all appropriate ceremonies, sporting events, outings, etc.

My apology is offered if I've stepped on anyone's toes.... nevertheless..... GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Sincerely,
Bill Cosby