Here are 10 suggestions to help you develop and maintain a healthy self-image. Read them slowly. Meditate on them regularly.

1. Hate your sin, but never hate yourself.

2. Be quick to repent.

3. When God gives you light, walk in it.

4. Stop saying negative things about yourself. God loves you and it's wrong to hate what He loves. He has great plans for you, so you're in conflict with Him when you speak negatively concerning your future.

5. Never be afraid to admit that you've made a mistake and don't always assume that when things go wrong, it must be 'my fault'.

6. Don't meditate excessively on what you've done, right or wrong; both of these activities keep your mind on you! Center your thoughts on Christ.

7. Take good care of yourself physically. Make the best of what God gave you to work with, but don't be obsessed with your appearance.

8. Never stop learning but don't allow your education to become a point of pride. God doesn't use you because of what's in your head: He uses you because of what's in your heart.

9. Realize that your talents are a gift, not something you have manufactured yourself; never look down on people who can't do what you do.

10. Don't despise your weaknesses they keep you dependent on God.

POSITIVE CHANGE Contributed by Melanie Schurr

"... let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is." Romans 12:2

Change can be frightening at times because it entails a breaking away from the familiar in order to step into something new. That new thing may be a relocation to another state, joining a new club, meeting new friends, or trying a new hair style.

Think of how giving in to ungodly acts can change someone. Consider the person who steals from an employer, resulting in the loss of a job. Or what about the individual who gives into lust by getting unhealthily close to a member of the opposite sex, then having an extra-marital affair that ends up destroying a marriage?

God does call us to change; to open our wings like a butterfly who has transformed from a caterpillar, and broken free of his cocoon. God desires this beautiful transformation so that we can live up to the potential He calls us to: new creations who thirst for God's good a nd pleasing ways. Our Creator wants our desire to be to please Him, not man.

What society may deem as acceptable is not always okay is God's eyes. Man may say it's okay to have a little fling as long as no one finds out, but God defines adultery as sin. So too does man often support a spirit of vengeance by wanting to return jab for jab and blow for blow, but God calls us to love one another and treat each other as we wish to be treated.

While change can be disconcerting at times, there is no need to fear it with our Heavenly Father. He is our loving Dad who only wants what is best for us so that we may not only be approved in His sight, but live more joyously and peacefully.

Won't you take His hand and make a positive change today?


I was but a youth and thoughtless,
As all youths are apt to be;
Though I had a Christian mother
Who had taught me carefully.

There came a time when pleasure
Of the world came to allure,
And I no more sought the guidance
Of her love so good and pure.

Her tender admonitions fell
But lightly on my ear,
And for the gentle warnings
I felt an inward sneer.

But Mother would not yield her boy
To Satan's sinful sway,
And though I spurned her counsel
She knew a better way.

She made my room an altar,
A place of secret prayer,
And there she took her burden
And left it in His care.

And morning, noon and evening
By that humble bedside low,
She sought the aid of Him who
Understands a mother's woe.

And I went my way unheeding,
Careless of the life I led,
Until one day I noticed
Prints of elbows on my bed.

Then I saw that she had been there
Praying for her wayward boy,
Who for love of worldly pleasure
Would her peace of mind destroy.

Long the conflict raged within me,
Sin against my Mother's prayers,
Sin must yield - for Mother never
While she daily met Him there.

And her constant love and patience
Were like coals upon my head,
Together with the imprints
Of her elbows on my bed.

And so at last the fight was won,
And I to Christ was led,
And Mother's prayers were answered
By her elbows on my bed.

LITTLE SPRINGS By Sally I. Kennedy

To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. 1 Corinthians 12:7,11-12

I almost missed it. The ground looked soggy, the trail puddly. And muddy. On closer look, a little spring was coming from under a rock to the right of the trail.

One little spring. Enough water to give drink to animals, birds. As it meandered across the road, and downhill on the massive mountain, it would join other little springs.

The little springs would merge and eventually flow together into one mighty river at the base of the mountain. Together they would make beautiful music as one, as they rolled through the floor of the mountain valley.

Little springs. Like different gifts and talents, I thought. Individually they are wonderful, and have a purpose. Sort of like musical instruments. So great individually. Together, though, they create bands, and songs; orchestras, and symphonies.

God gives the gifts as He sees fit. And every believer is guaranteed one or more. He alone knows what beautiful music they will make together - for us, as well as for others.

That is good news!


If You've Ever Been In Love...

Think back (for some of you this will take longer than others) to when you met that man/woman that you just knew would be the one. Remember when you realized/admitted to yourself that you loved him/her. Now remember how much you wanted to act like you were in a movie, and yell to everyone in the football stadium "I love (fill in the name)!!!!" You told family and friends how perfect he was. You told your boys how
she was just what you were looking for.

Well, I told THE LORD I loved Him today. And He said to me, "How much do you love me? You haven't told anyone how good I've been to you. You haven't shared how perfect my love is. You haven't spread the good news that I am always there to listen to your problems. You haven't told your family how I helped you pay your bills when you didn't have a high paying job, or how I got you a better one. You didn't tell your boys how I took away that addiction that would have cost you not only your job, but that woman that was just what you were looking for. So how much do you really love me?

So, I said I would share with my friends and family (for starters) just how wonderful, perfect, understanding, patient, loving, unselfish, considerate and forgiving GOD really is. He has blessed me with a family that loves me and friends that I can confide in. But even more than that He has saved me from a destruction I couldn't even see coming. He gave to me the peace of knowing Him and He has never
broken a promise. Truly He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. And I stand in my stadium today to yell to you all "I love THE LORD!!!"


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 somewhere.

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!



My experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others, The fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become. -Hudson Taylor

Many years ago, I read this bumper sticker: Live simply so that others may simply live. The reasoning makes sense. If I content myself with a P250-shirt instead of a P3500 Lacoste, I can help others with my P3250. Trust me, there's immense pleasure! You'll find that the empty thrill of owning a diamond ring on your finger pales in comparison to the joy of handling a piece of bread to an orphan child.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. - 2Corinthians 9:8

Listen to me. I can't explain how it works logically, because giving and receiving a hundredfold blessing is a supernatural activity. In my experience, the more I give, the more I receive. It just works that way!

However, I don't give to receive. That's important.

I give because I believe it's right to give. As another bumper sticker declares, "Tithe if you love Jesus. Any idiot can honk!"

The Old Testament law of tithing, or giving 10% of your income, is a good guideline to follow. The New Testament challenges usto give with a cheerful heart. When you're cheerful, you may give more than 10%!

Make it a habit. Give as much as you can.


A budget is a theological document. It tells you who or what you worship. - Anonymous

If you aim for nothing, you'll get there. And if you don't plan how you'll spend your money, you'll end up in the same place financially: you'll have nothing at the end of the day.

First of all, track your spending. Before leaving for work, tuck into your pocket a little notebook where you can jot down expenses every time you purchase something. Each new day should have its own page. Tedious? Don't worry â€" you'll get the hang of it after a while; it'll be like second nature.

You're doing this because you want to know where your money goes. This "diagnosis" will give you the wisdom where to cut back and do some "surgery."

At the end of each month, pull out your tiny notebook and make a spreadsheet. (You can also use your computer for this.) Create categories: Food, House maintenance, Medical, Clothing, Tuition, etc. Pencil down your expenses and voila, what you've got
is a "spending record."

If you do this for about tow or three months, you can now create a "spending plan" or budget â€" based on your diagnosis.

One guy who made a spending record for the first time was shocked to realize he could save P1,500 each month if he gave up his after office-office-hours snack before returning home. "I deserve this because I work so hard," he reasoned â€" until he summed up the yearly savings if he went straight home to his wife and let her feed him from their kitchen.

This page won't be enough to teach you all that you need to learn about home budgeting. My suggestion is that you get a friend whose financial life is in order and ask her to help you develop your system.

And stick to your budget! Remember: The moment you get your salary, give your tithes first. Second, give to your savings account. Third, give to your "irregular expenses" account. If you don't make these your first bills, trust me, you won't be able to tithe or save at all.

Budget, budget, budget.


NO CHURCH SEASON is closer to my heart than Lent. Lent is derived from the Anglo Saxon word "lenctem," meaning "spring." The word reflects the lengthening of days as we move from winter towards summer. Lent is the 40 days (excluding Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Traditionally it has been a time of fasting commemorative of Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the wilderness following his baptism. Lent also recalls the 40 days that Elijah and Moses both spent with God, as well as the 40 years that Israel spent wandering in the desert.

Lent is the perfect season of the year for solitude and self-reflection. As we spiritually journey into the desert, Lent is a time to re-examine our boundary lines and get realigned, set in right relationship with God and the world around us. I would like to suggest a Lenten path to travel as the days grow longer and Easter
approaches,the path of simplicity.

Simplicity is not about poverty, or a renunciation of possessions, or a set of "dos" or "don'ts." Rather, simplicity is a spiritual discipline that re-orients one's life by deliberately organizing it around a central purpose. Adhering to a focused center reduces the fractured nature of our lives. Our priorities become aligned to the focus of our lives, and the way we live out our simplicity in terms of our time, energy, and money becomes a reflection of our inner beliefs. On the most basic level, simplicity means being honest and sincere with ourselves about our faith and what really matters most to us.

To walk the path of simplicity we must believe that God calls us to it. Lent invites us to journey in the way of Jesus by learning more about his way and applying it in our lives.

In the coming 40 days of Lent, allow Christ's light to shine more brightly in your life and lead you into a path of simplicity that helps you re-orient your life toward God in Christ.


On March 1, 1950 in Beatrice, Nebraska, the pastor went to church that Saturday afternoon to prepare for the evening choir practice. Most choir members would arrive between 7:15 to 7:30 PM. He then went home for a quick supper, was ready to return with His wife and daughter, when it was discovered the daughter's dress was soiled
and needed a change which in turn must first be ironed.

High school sophomore Ladona had trouble with her Geometry problems and had to stay to finish the problem. Usually, she would always be early for rehearsal.

Two sisters were ready to go to church, but the car won't start. They called up the geometry girl to pick them up. Mrs. Schuster with a small daughter normally would arrive at 7:20, but that night her old Mother needed her and so she dropped by her
mother's house.

A lathe operator wanted to stop putting off an important letter ("I didn't know why") and was late. Stenographer Joyce Black, "feeling just plain lazy" stayed until the last possible minute. Then she was ready to go until it happened.

Machinest Harry Ohl was going to take his two boys to choir practice, since his wife was away, but somehow started talking with someone and when he looked at his watch, it was already too late.

Pianist Marilyn Paul decided to come one half-hour earlier. But after supper, she fell asleep and arrived barely on time. Choir director and the mother of the pianist, Mrs. Paul, was late due to her daughter. She had tried unsuccessfully to wake her up before.

Two high school girls usually go together. But one was listening to the 7-7:30 radio program and that evening broke their usual habit of promptness in order to listen to the end.

At 7:25, The West Side Baptist Church blew up. Its roofed crushed in and its walls fell down---due to leaking gas. But the choir members were all late.

And this never happened before.


Today I turned on my computer and began to type. I had finished about two lines before I looked at the screen and saw a confusing jumble of letters. I had unknowingly placed my hands one key to the left of proper starting position. Therefore, each word I wrote made absolutely no sense.

The same could happen if I played the piano and put my hands in the incorrect position. The mistake would be audible and detected quickly, but the short musical interlude would be miserable sounding.

The same is true of my Christian walk. I may be off the "beaten path" a little; perhaps putting self first and exemplifying other characteristics which are not Christian. I would sound and look unappealing and make no sense as a Christian, even by being one step to the right or left of where I should be.

I am thankful God wants to place me back where I need to be, in the proper position in His beautiful plan. I need to remember to "look" where I am and "listen" to how I sound. Am I glorifying God in my actions and words? This is my desire, and I am thankful God taps me lovingly on the hand when I am out of place. How about you?


I had two conversations this week with people who appeared to be in two different places in their lives. One was facing success and the other facing failure. Both of them were unhappy.

The first man had finally reached a goal in life that took him several years to complete. "It was all that I ever wanted," he said.

The other man had recently experienced great loss in his life. "It was all that I ever wanted," he said.

The successful man was sadly depressed because he felt that life was over for him. "There is nothing more I can do!" he told me.

The man facing the great loss was sadly depressed because he felt that life was over for him. He also said, "There is nothing more I can do!"

Who is right?

Neither of them.

They are both in the exact same place. There is as much ahead of you after a gain as there is after a loss.

It's like playing your favorite sport. If you lose the game you must evaluate why, plan to improve your chances and come back fighting.

If you win, you must evaluate why, plan to improve your chances and come back fighting to stay a winner.

They both put too much value and importance in the things they had, rather than in who they were.

The successful man gained nothing if the journey to that success didn't inspire him even more. What lessons did he learn? What can he teach others?

The man who was facing loss truly failed because he found nothing of value in losing. What lessons did he learn? What can he teach others?

The successful man stood upon the mountain top and gained nothing from the view. The man who never reached the top stopped looking up. Both journeys are what I call "God inspired."

Nothing we do, nothing that happens ends, it is just continued in another form. Like tossing a rock in a still pond. The initial impact sends ripples across the water which eventually fade. But the presence now of the rock in the water has changed everything. That rock displaced water.

The first man's success sent ripples into the world. His journey to success and his arrival changed everything.

The other man's failed attempt also sent ripples into the world. His failure to arrive changed everything.

Both are immeasurable, but the fact remains, everything changed.

After telling them this story I asked both of them, "Where do you go from here?" In both cases there was silence.

"God made both you and the rock. The rock has no choice but to stay there."

Unhappiness is inspiration waiting to come to life. It is a sign of being"God Inspired." If you are unhappy, discover the inspiration within it. Ask yourself, "Where do you go from here?"

Listen. God is speaking to you right now. "I believe in you!"

WHAT A PAIN! By Martha Bolton

Have you ever tried walking with a pebble in your shoe? All you had to do was remove it, but that would have taken too much time and energy. You would have had to stop, sit down, take off your shoe, remove the pebble, put your shoe back on, then stand up and start walking all over again.

Besides, it wasn't a big rock or anything. It was just a tiny pebble. So you decided to simply ignore it. You kept walking, pebble and all. Eventually, of course, you got a blister, which soon popped and almost become infected. But at least you didn't have to waste any time by stopping and removing that pebble, right?

How often do we walk around with something in our lives that shouldn't be there? We know we should get rid of it, but it's easier to ignore it and to pretend it's not there. Sure, it's affecting our walk. It's blistering, and could eventually infect the other parts of our lives, but we still choose to do nothing about it.

Before long, we're complaining about the path and the pain we're forced to endure. But it's not the path that's giving us the problem. It's what we are refusing to remove.

Is there something you're having a hard time removing from your life? Why do you think we shouldn't ignore the little things that threaten to hinder our walk?

* DEAR LORD, I'd like to become the person You desire me to be. I know it isn't easy, so I'm praying for Your guidance and strength. Apart from You, I will just flutter around and go astray. Remove the blisters of my life. Set all things right for me, Lord, and let me walk with confidence and faith.

THE QUILT Author Unknown

As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls. Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles.

An Angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life. But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in everyday life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened. My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose, each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been.

My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise. My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and death, and false accusations that took from me my world as I knew it.

I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me. And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.

I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air.

I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes. Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ.

Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, "Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.

My prayer is that all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through.

ROSE By Fr. John Cef Ledesma

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know.

I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, "Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?"

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, "Of course you may." and she gave me a giant squeeze.

"Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I asked.

She jokingly replied, "I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel."

"No seriously," I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age. "I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one." she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this "time machine" as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friendswherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up. At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us.

She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said "I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me.I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know."

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began: "We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many
people walking around who are dead and don't even know it.

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity in change. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don't have regrets for what wedid, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets." She concluded her speech by courageously singing "The Rose". She challenged each of us to study the lyrics of live them out in our daily lives.

At the years end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too lateto be all you can possibly be.


THE POWER OF GOD Author Unknown

Have you ever been down and out and nobody seems to be around for you to talk to...THAT'S GOD...he wants you to talk to him.

Have you ever been just sitting there and all of a sudden you feel like doing something nice for someone you care for...THAT'S GOD... he talks to you through the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever been thinking about somebody that you haven't seen in a long time and then next thing you know you see them or receive a phone call from them...THAT'S GOD...there is no such thing as "coincidence."

Have you ever received something wonderful that you didn't even ask for, like money in the mail, a debt that had mysteriously been cleared, or a coupon to a department store where you had just seen something you wanted, but couldn't afford...THAT'S GOD...he knows the desires of your heart...

Have you ever been in a situation and you had no clue how it is going to get better, but now you look back on it...THAT'S GOD... he passes us through tribulation to see a brighter day...

VALENTINE'S DAY Author Unknown

A time of giving, remembering, loving. A time for friends, family, spouses.
A time to stop... pause a moment... and look at the beauty that surrounds life.

Look not only at the obvious beauty of the sun, sea and sky, but also at the magical beauty of the unknown, the unexplained, the many things we so readily take for granted.

Like the way the petals so uniformly, yet individually, form the image and take on the identity of a flower, a precious gift of Life...Nature's life.


How the uniqueness and similarity in every person merge, The warmth, the understanding, the certainty shared by many, yet expressed and felt so differently.

As is the flower a constant reminder to us of life's beauty and new beginnings, so too is the thought , the emotion, the drive which makes us unique, yet brings us together.


I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called "Smile." The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and
always smile at everyone and say hello anyway, so, I thought this would be a piece of cake, literally.

Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald's one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special play time with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved.

As I turned around I smelled a horrible "dirty body" smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was "smiling." His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God's Light as he searched for acceptance. He said, "Good day" as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I
realized the second man was mentally deficient and the blue eyed gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them.

The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, "Coffee is all Miss" because that was all they could afford. (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm). Then I really felt it-the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes.

That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue eyed gentleman's cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his
eyes, and said, "Thank you."

I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, "I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope." I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son.

When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, "That is why God gave you to me, Honey. To give me hope." We held hands for a moment and at that time we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give.

That day showed me the pure Light of God's sweet love. I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in "my project" and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, "Can I share this?" I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class. She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings and being part of God, share this need to heal people and be healed. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald's, my husband, son, instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student.

I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn: UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE. Much love and compassion is to each and every person who may read this and learn how to LOVE PEOPLE AND USE THINGS - NOT LOVE THINGS AND USE PEOPLE.

ALWAYS THERE Author Unknown

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!

CARL'S GARDEN Author Unknown

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 activity.

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 doing?"

"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.


I refuse to be discouraged, to be sad or to cry.
I refuse to be downhearted and here's the reason why:
I have a God who is almighty; who is sovereign and supreme;
I have a God who loves me, and I am on his team.
He is all wise and powerful; Jesus is His Name; though everything else is changeable, My God remains the same.

I refuse to be defeated.
My eyes are on my GOD.
He has promised to be with me, as through this life I trod.
I am looking past my circumstances, to heaven's throne above.
My prayers have reached the heart of God.
I am resting in His love.

I give thanks to Him in everything.
My eyes are on His face.
The battle is His; the victory is mine; He will help me win the race.

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