Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Carl's Garden......


Carl was a quiet man. He didn't talk much. He would always greet you with a
big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our neighborhood for
over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.

Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight
of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp from a
bullet wound received in WW II. Watching him, we worried that although he
had survived WW II, he may not make it through our changing uptown
neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring
for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his
characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.
He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared
finally happened.

He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members
approached him. Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked,
"Would you like a drink from the hose?"

The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure", with a
malevolent little smile. As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two
grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over the
ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his
retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled. Carl tried to get himself
up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg.

He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help
him. Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he
couldn't get there fast enough to stop it. "Carl, are you okay? Are you
hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet. Carl just
passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head.

"Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise-up someday." His wet clothes clung
to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle
again and started to water.

Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you

"I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately", came the calm
reply. Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could
only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was
unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink form his hose. This time they
didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head
to foot in the icy water.

When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the
street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at
the hilarity of what they had just done. Carl just watched them. Then he
turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with
his watering.

The summer was quickly fading into fall. Carl was doing some tilling when he
was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and
fell into some evergreen branches. As he struggled to regain his footing, he
turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormenters reaching down for
him. He braced himself for the expected attack. "Don't worry old man, I'm
not gonna hurt you this time." The young man spoke softly, still offering
the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl.

As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and
handed it to Carl. "What's this?" Carl asked.

"It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. Even the money
in your wallet."

"I don't understand," Carl said. "Why would you help me now?"

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I learned
something from you", he said. "I ran with that gang and hurt people like
you. We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it. But
every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting
back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You
kept showing love against our hate." He stopped for a moment. "I couldn't
sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back." He paused for another
awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. "That bag's my way
of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess." And with that, he
walked off down the street.

Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took
out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet,
he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride
that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his
funeral in spite of the weather. In particular the minister noticed a tall
young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the
church. The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life. In a voice
made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best and make your garden as
beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden."

The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to care
for Carl's garden." The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until
one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door. Opening the
door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the
flyer. "I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said.

The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the
stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl's kindness had turned
this man's life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden
shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him."

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers
and vegetables just as Carl had done. In that time, he went to college, got
married and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot
his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought
Carl would have kept it.

One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care
for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife
just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday."

"Well, congratulations! " said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed
keys. "That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?"

It was Carl.

-- Author Unknown

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Brownie Crumbs........


Mrs. Baughman was my 6th grade Sunday School teacher. One morning, she
brought a pan of brownies to our class. As the goodies sat over by her
chair, she gave each child a slip of paper marked with a household expense:
house payment, utility bill, phone bill, entertainment, etc.

My slip had a car payment. Before long, Mrs. Baughman picked up the tray of
brownies and began naming the expenses written on the papers. As we gave her
our expenses, she redeemed each one for a brownie.

"Car payment" she announced. I jumped up to get my brownie from the pan.
Finally the last brownie had disappeared.

But one boy named Donald still held his unredeemed slip. "God!" called Mrs.
Baughman. Donald came forward hoping the teacher had one more brownie
hidden some where.

With a knife Mrs. Baughman scraped the crumbs from the bottom of the pan
into Donald's napkin. He got a pretty raw deal, I thought -just crumbs.

"The brownies represent your money", the teacher explained to us. "If you
don't give God his share right away, He probably won't get anything except
maybe the crumbs."

I never forgot that illustration. The day my friend Donald got only the
brownie crumbs, even as a child I learned that God should have the first
right to everything I have.

In the years since Mrs. Baughman class I have struggled with giving and
priorities, But whenever I recall the "Crummy Sunday School Lesson", I know
who should and must always come first in my life!

-- Author Unknown

Sunday, May 3, 2009

the HOLY Alphabet..........

The Holy Alphabet

A lthough things are not perfect
B ecause of trial or pain
C ontinue in thanksgiving
D o not begin to blame
E ven when the times are hard
F ierce winds are bound to blow
G od is forever able
H old on to what you know
I magine life without His love
J oy would cease to be
K eep thanking Him for all the things
L ove imparts to thee
M ove out of "Camp Complaining"
N o weapon that is known
O n earth can yield the power
P raise can do alone
Q uit looking at the future
R edeem the time at hand
S tart every day with worship
T o "thank" is a command
U ntil we see Him coming
V ictorious in the sky
W e'll run the race with gratitude
X alting God most high
Y es, there'll be good times and yes some
will be bad, but...
Z ion waits in glory...where none are ever sad!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

when you thought I was't looking..........


When you thought I wasn't looking, by a Child

A message every parent should read, because your children are watching and
doing as you do, not as you say.

"When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the
refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned
that it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me
and I learned that little things can be the special things in life.

When you though I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there
is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a
friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of
each other.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to
help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something
should give to those who don't.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I felt you kiss me good night and I felt
loved and safe.

When you though I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and
everyone in it and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your
responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good and I learned that I would
have to be responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes and I
learned that sometimes things hurt, but its all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be
everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of life's lessons that I
need to know to be good and productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say,
'Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.'"

Each of us - parent, grandparent or friend - influence the life of a child.

-- Author Unknown