CAT'S TALE Contributed by Lisa Suhay

Cat was walking along one early evening, heading toward the village.
Cat was a friendly sort. In her lives she wore many hats. Sometimes she was a companion, listener and even a watch cat. Suddenly, out of the shadows leaped a massive dog. To cat it seemed as if a chunk of the sky had fallen into her path.

In the shadowy darkness, the animal towered over cat and bared its great, sharp, yellow teeth.

"Run away," the dog snarled.

Startled nearly out of her wits, cat knew that if she were going to survive she must not panic. She imposed a steely calm on herself and looked up at the beast.

"I beg your pardon," answered cat, far more calmly than she felt. "I have business here. Let me pass."

The dog had not expected this reaction. He usually left his victims weak with fear by simply looking at them.

"Run," he repeated. "I don't like the way you drift about these parts cozying up to people and making them feel so secure. This is my place. Everyone here does as I tell them to."

Now cat was nearly paralyzed with fear and running was absolutely out of the question. Cat knew that if she did run away she would never be able to see her friends in these parts again. She also realized that if she did not stand, she would always live in fear of dogs. Perhaps she would spend her life cringing at shadows as so many other cats did.

It wasn't right. There was nothing wrong with cat helping people. The wrong was in the animal she was facing.

Cat breathed a silent prayer; "Oh help me find my way home safe." A little spark kindled in cat's heart. The light in her heart began to fill her and unfreeze her muscles and nerves. Suddenly, cat was no longer pretending - she really wasn't afraid.

Cat realized at that moment, nothing mattered more to her than shining her light in this dark creature.

"I invite you to come with me and meet my friends," cat purred. "I hate to think of you out here all alone."

Slowly, cat managed to put one paw in front of another until she found herself gliding past the menacing creature.

"Stop," snarled the dog. "Take one more step and I will destroy you. Don't you dare cross me!"

It was too late. Cat had found her feet and was going at a fast pace toward the village where her friends waited for her.

She rushed into the home of the village's guard dog and told her story.

"Did I do right?" cat asked "You did just fine," he answered. "You aren't finished. Now you must go out and tell your tale so that others who find themselves in fear might recall it and find their light."

And so cat did.


Last week I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son had 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. Then in a theatrical whisper he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), "Too bad she never asks 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."


There was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with, out in the woods. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit the target. Getting a little discouraged, he headed back to dinner.

As he was walking back, he saw Grandma's pet duck. Just out of impulse, he let fly, hit the duck square in the head, and killed it. He was shocked and grieved. In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.

After lunch that day grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes."

But Sally said, "Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today, didn't you Johnny?" And then she whispered to him, "Remember, the duck?" So Johnny did the dishes.

Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing, and Grandma said, "I'm sorry but I need Sally to help make supper."

But Sally smiled and said, "Well, that's all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help." And she whispered again, "Remember, the duck?" So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's, he finally couldn't stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he killed the duck. She knelt down, gave him a hug, and said, "Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing. But because I love you, I forgave you. But I was just wondering how long would you let Sally make a slave of you."

I don't know what's in your past. I don't know what one sin the enemy keeps throwing up in your face. But whatever it is, I want you to know something. Jesus Christ was standing at the window and He saw the whole thing. But because He loves you, He is ready to forgive you. Perhaps He's wondering how long you'll let the enemy make a slave out of you. The great thing about God is that He not only forgives, but He forgets.

THE REAL POOR Author Unknown

One day, a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people can be. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from the trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"

"It was great, Dad." "Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked. "Oh yeah," said the son. "So what did you learn from the trip?" asked thefather. The son answered, "I saw that we have one dog and they have four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us and they have friends to protect them." With this, the boy's father was speechless. Then his son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are."

Too many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don't have. What is one person's worthless object is another's prize possession.

It is all based on one's perspective. Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks to God for all the bounty we have been provided by Him instead of worrying about wanting more. Take joy in all that He has given us, especially our friends.

A LOVE STORY Author Unknown

Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived; Happiness, Sadness, Knowledge, and all the others, including Love. One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all repaired their boats and left.

Love wanted to persevere until the last possible moment. When the island was almost sinking, Love decided to ask for help. Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat.

Love said "Richness, can you take me with you?"

Richness answered, "No, I can't. There is a lot of silver in my boat. There is no place here for you."

Love decided to ask Vanity who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel. "Vanity, please help me!"

"I can't help you Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat," Vanity answered.

Sadness was close by so Love asked for help, "Sadness, let me go with you."

"Oh....Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself."

Happiness passed by Love too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her!

Suddenly there was a voice, "Come Love, I will take you." It was an elder.

Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that he even forgot to ask the elder his name. When they arrived at dry land, the elder went his own way.

Love realizing how much he owed the elder, asked Knowledge, another elder. "Who helped me?"

"It was Time," Knowledge answered.

"Time?" asked Love.

"But why did Time help me?"

Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, "Because, only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is."


Once upon a time, a king had a great highway built for the people who lived in his kingdom. After it was completed, but before it was opened to the public, the king decided to have a contest. He invited as many of his subjects as desired to participate. The challenge was to see who could travel the highway the best, and the winner was to receive a box of gold.

On the day of the contest, all the people came. Some of them had fine chariots, some had fine clothing and fancy food to make the trip a luxurious journey. Some wore their sturdiest shoes and ran along the highway on their feet to show their skill. All day they traveled the highway, and each one, when he arrived at the end, complained to the king about a large pile of rocks and debris that had been left almost blocking the road at one point, and that got in their way and hindered
their travel.

At the end of the day, a lone traveler crossed the finish line warily and walked over to the king. He was tired and dirty, but he addressed the king with great respect and handed him a small chest of gold. He said, "I stopped along the way to clear a pile of rocks and debris that was blocking the road. This chest of gold was under it all. Please have it returned to its rightful owner."

The king replied, "You are the rightful owner."

"Oh no," said the traveler, "This is not mine. I've never known such money."

"Oh yes," said the king, "you've earned this gold, for you won my contest.. He who travels the road best is he who makes the road better for those who will follow."

Remember those words of wisdom as you travel the road of life!


During one of our seminars, a woman asked a common question. She said,

"How do I know if I married the right person?" I noticed that there was a Large man sitting next to her so I said, "It depends. Is that your husband?"

In all seriousness, she answered "How do you know?" Let me answer this question because the chances are good that it's weighing on your mind. Here's the answer.

EVERY relationship has a cycle. In the beginning, you fell in love with your spouse.

You anticipated their call, wanted their touch, and liked their idiosyncrasies.

Falling in love with your spouse wasn't hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience. You didn't have to DO anything. That's why it's called "falling" in love... because it's happening TO YOU.

People in love sometimes say, "I was swept off my feet." Think about theimagery of that expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing, and then something came along and happened TO YOU.

Falling in love is easy. It's a passive and spontaneous experience. But after a few years of marriage, the euphoria of love fades. It's the natural cycle of EVERY relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse's idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts.

The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship, but if you think about your marriage, you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage. At this point, you and/or your spouse might start asking, "Did I marry the right person?" And as you and your spouse reflect on theeuphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else.

This is when marriages break down. People blame their spouse for their unhappiness and look outside their marriage for fulfillment.

Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most obvious. But sometimes people turn to work, church, a hobby, a friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances. But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your marriage. It lies within it. I'm not saying that you couldn't fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you'd feel better. But you'd be in the same situation a few years later. Because (listen carefully to this): The Key To Succeeding In Marriage Is Not Finding The Right Person; It's Learning To Love The Person You Found!

SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. It'll NEVER just happen to you. You can't "find" LASTING love. You have to "make" it day in and day out. That's why we have the expression "the labor of love."

Because it takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it takes WISDOM.. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make your marriage work. Make no mistake about it.

Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your spouse) to succeed with your marriage. Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. Just as the right diet and exercise program makes you physically stronger, certain habits in your relationship WILL make your marriage stronger. It's a direct cause and effect.

If you know and apply the laws, the results are predictable. .. you can "make"
love works. Love in marriage is indeed a "decision".. . not just a feeling.

KNOWN ONLY TO HIM By Sally I. Kennedy

My soul finds rest in God hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken…he is my refuge. Psalm 62:1-7

We were visiting from out of town, and arrived a little before the service started at a church downtown. We slid into seats on the side up near the altar. It felt so peaceful, and we were thanful for a place to worship, hear the Word of God and be with other believers.

Near us, I saw an older man come in and sit by himself. He was dressed; his body looked thin and fragile, yet strong. I couldn't see his face until passing him later. It was then I noticed the sadness in his eyes. His whole demeanor actually seemed sort of limp with, perhaps grieving.

My heart went out to him; I breathed a little prayer. I don't know him and probably never will. But I know someone who does.God alone knows our deepest thoughts. He alone knows our heart of hearts. In reality, we are known only to Him.

In 1952, Carl Stuart Hamblen wrote the words and music to the gospel song:

Known only to him are the great hidden secrets
I'll fear not the darkness when my flame shall dim
I know not what the future holds
But I know who holds the future
It's a secret known only to Him

In this world of fear and doubt
On my knees I ask the question
Why a lonely, heavy cross I must bear
Then he tells me in my prayer
It's because I am trustworthy
He gives me strength far more than my share

Known only to him are the great hidden secrets
I'll fear not the darkness when my flame shall dim
I know not what the future holds
But I know who holds the future
It's a secret known only to Him

How wonderful this same God is loving, kind, merciful, and comforting towards us.


A young man was walking through a supermarket to pick up a few things when he noticed an old lady following him around. Thinking nothing of it, he ignored her and continued on. Finally he went to the checkout line, but she got in front of him.

"Pardon me," she said, "I'm sorry if my staring at you has made you feel uncomfortable. It's just that you look just like my son, who just died recently."

"I'm very sorry," replied the young man, "is there anything I can do for you?"

"Yes," she said, "As I'm leaving, can you say `Good bye, Mother!'?

"It would make me feel so much better."

"Sure," answered the young man.

As the old woman was leaving, he called out, "Goodbye, Mother!"

As he stepped up to the checkout counter, he saw that his total was P4,500.

"How can that be?" he asked, "I only purchased a few things!"

"Your mother said that you would pay for her," said the clerk.

Do you know that you can tell a lot about a person's character by how he or she acts at the supermarket? Michael Josephson from the Web Site "Character Counts" narrates his experience. Michael says:

I remember being in a crowded store that had a shortage of shopping carts. A prosperous-looking fellow and his wife were pushing a cart when another man stopped them. "Excuse me," the second man said, "but that's my cart."

The first guy looked annoyed and, instead of apologizing, protested, "But someone took my cart." His wife glared at him, and he reluctantly relinquished his ill-gotten gain.

He had ignored the age-old wisdom: "Two wrongs don't make a right" in favor of a distorted version of the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as others have done unto you."

Then there are the folks who change their mind about buying an item and put it on the nearest shelf, rationalizing that the store hires people to put misplaced things back. Schools employ custodians to clean the halls, but does that mean it's okay for kids to throw their candy wrappers on the floor?

Finally, there are the express-line cheaters who enter the "10 items or less" line with 14 items because they're in a hurry or they love having a competitive edge. They count on the fact that no one will call them on such a moral misdemeanor. And if someone does, they're ready to play lawyer: "It depends on what you call an item. These melons are part of the fruit group so I count them as one."

Being considerate, playing by the rules, and setting a good example are important, even in the supermarket.

Michael is right.

Our daily actions really reveal who we are.

No matter how gentlemanly we act when we are rude to the waiters, the security guards and the janitors then we are rude (period).

I don't care how give a donation one gives, how charitable a person is or how beautifully his or her press releases. The photo-ops may be very impressive. The credentials may be very notable and the titles may be very prominent but all you need is to look at the way the person treats his family and you will have a fair indication as to the true character of the person.

Another accurate indicator is the way a person responds to money. Hah! Money is the best acid test for character.

And so, whether the issue is money, fame, power, family or something as trivial as supermarket activities, the character shows.

Do not confuse character for reputation.

Reputation is what people perceive about us whether they are right or not but character is what and who we really are when nobody is watching.

The Scriptures talk a lot about molding our character so that we may become Christ-like. And this has a practical reason because as famous basketball coach John Wooden says: "Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there." The next time we go to the supermarket, keep our eyes open not to look at others but to watch out for ourselves.


A man's daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed.

The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. "I guess you were expecting me," he said.

"No, who are you?" said the father.

"I'm the new minister at your church," he replied. "When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up."

"Oh yeah, the chair," said the bedridden man. "Would you mind closing the door?"

Puzzled, the minister shut the door. "I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter," said the man. "But all of my life, I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head."

"I abandoned any attempt at prayer," the old man continued, "until one day about four years ago, my best friend said to me, 'Johnny, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest. Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It's not spooky because he promised, "I'll be with you always." Then just speak to him in the same way you're doing with me right now." So, I tried it and I've liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I'm careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she'd either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm."

The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey.

Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her Dad had died that afternoon.

"Did he die in peace?" he asked.

"Yes, when I left the house about two o' clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?"

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, "I wish we could all go like that."

From 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 -- "So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. That is why we live by believing and not by seeing. We live by faith, not by sight."

ARE YOU JESUS? Author Unknown

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner.

In their rush, with tickets and brief-cases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of baskets of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding.

All but one. He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved goodbye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.

He was glad he did.

The 16 year old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping, and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them into the baskets, and helped set the display up once more. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $20 for the damage we did. Are you okay?"

She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.

She continued, "Are you Jesus?"

He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?"

Do people mistake you for Jesus?

That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.

If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day. You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked you and me up on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.

Let us live like we are worth the price He paid.


Cindy waited 34 long years and stayed in the marriage. She gave it her all, and waited for her husband to come around. He was emotionally unavailable. He dropped dead from a heart attack last month. Bye-bye to that hope.

Sam is 58 years old. There's been a hole in his heart as big as all outdoors for 56 of those years, wanting his father who disappeared when he was two. Dianne has been looking for someone to come into her life for many years. A partner and lover. She is old now. It may not happen.

Have you ever longed for something you've never had? Something money can't buy? Maybe a good relationship with your mother or father, or your kids. Perhaps you would really like a relationship that is now impossible, because that person has died.

You can be sad about something you never had. You can grieve something you never will have. But can you lose something you never had?

One thing you could never lose - even if you wanted to - the unconditional love that God your Father has for you. Never. No way! Not possible to lose that; it's there for ever and ever. It's just for you.

The LOVE that GOD has for YOU is not, and never could be, something you never had. It's been there all of your life. Even before.And it will be after.

Just ask him to show you. He will!


Heavenly Father, Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and was rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job)! is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not just to those who are close to us but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judgment and quick to forgiveness and patience and empathy and love.


THE SOURCE By Sally I. Kennedy

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:3

Sometimes when hiking, we try to take a trail that leads to a waterfall. I’ve loved each of the few we’ve ever seen. A trickling peaceful waterfall, tumbling down slippery rocks. One that thunders and is powerful and majestic. A waterfall that splashes in a swift current below over time-worn boulders, to meet up downstream with yet another river.

I’d never seen the source of any of the waterfalls, until this one particular day. The trail zig-zagged up a wooded hillside, then a rocky, open area. A sign here and there prodded us onward and upward, to catch a glimpse of the Top-of-the-Waterfall.

We were rewarded with the most glorious sight, the place where the waterfall begins. From the waterfalls we’d seen before, we knew of course that they started somewhere. There was a source, even though we couldn’t see it.

TAKE THE HIGH ROAD By Sally I. Kennedy

The guide book said it was an easy hike around the lake, where the flat path hugged the water's edge. It was going to take longer this day, because I had to stop every few feet, it seemed, for another breathtaking view in the late afternoon light.

Rounding a bend, the path began to lean upward. Within minutes the fork in the road became visible.

The low road? The known path, The easy one. The high road? The unknown path. The intrigue and mystery of what's out there.

I found myself whistling an old ballad, "Oh! ye'll take the high road and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye". Decisions, decisions, hmmmm……..

I thought about forks in the road, spiritually- speaking. The Bible advises us to set our thoughts on things above, not below. I believe we need to set our goals high, rather than low; be challenged.

Actually, we always have a choice. My way, God's way. Seek the face of God, who gives us strength for the journey. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. (1 Chron 16:11)

The high road, God's way, always the better path. That is good news.

THE OTHER SIDE Author Unknown

A sick man turned to his doctor, as he was leaving the room after paying a visit, and said, "Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side."

Very quietly the doctor said, "I don't know."

"You don't know? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?"

The doctor was holding the handle of the door. On the other side of the door there came the sound of scratching and whining. As he opened the door a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, "Did you notice that dog? He had never been in this room before. He did not know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing: I know my Master is there, and that is enough. And when the door opens, I shall pass through with no fear, but with gladness."

START OVER By Woodrow Kroll of "Back to the Bible"

When you've trusted God and walked his way
When you've felt his hand lead you day by day
But your steps now take you another way ...
Start over.

When you've made your plans and they've gone awry
When you've tried your best and there's no more try
When you've failed yourself and you don't know why ...
Start over.

When you've told your friends what you plan to do
When you've trusted them and they didn't come through
And you're all alone and it's up to you ...
Start over.

When you've failed your kids and they're grown and gone
When you've done your best but it's turned out wrong
And now your grandchildren come along ...
Start over.

When you've prayed to God so you'll know his will
When you've prayed and prayed and you don't know still ...
When you want to stop cause you've had your fill ...
Start over.

When you think you're finished and want to quit
When you've bottomed out in life's deepest pit
When you've tried and tried to get out of it ...
Start over.

When the year has been long and successes few
When December comes and you're feeling blue
God gives a January just for you ...
Start over.

Starting over means "Victories Won"
Starting over means "A Race Well Run"
Starting over means "God's Will Done"
Don't just sit there ............ ..



When I was a little boy, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eat every bite!

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I'll never forget what he said: "Baby, I love burned biscuits."

Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned.. He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she's real tired.. And besides - a little burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!"

You know, life is full of imperfect things...... and imperfect people I'm not the best housekeeper or cook. What I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each other's faults - and choosing to celebrate each other's differences - is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

And that's my prayer for you today. That you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God. Because in the end, He's the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn't a deal-breaker!

THE BURDEN Author Unknown

"Why was my burden so heavy?" I slammed the bedroom door and leaned against it. Is there no rest from this life? I wondered. I stumbled to my bed and dropped onto it, pressing my pillow around my ears to shut out the noise of my existence.

"Oh God," I cried, "let me sleep. Let me sleep forever and never wake up!"

With a deep sob I tried to will myself into oblivion, then welcomed the blackness that came over me.

Light surrounded me as I regained consciousness. I focused on its source: the figure of a man standing before a cross.

"My child," the person asked, "why did you want to come to Me before I am ready to call you?"

"Lord, I'm sorry. It's just that... I can't go on. You see how hard it is for me. Look at this awful burden on my back. I simply can't carry it anymore."

"But haven't I told you to cast all of your burdens upon Me, because I care for you? My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."

"I knew You would say that. But why does mine have to be so heavy?"

"My child, everyone in the world has a burden. Perhaps you would like to try a different one?"

"I can do that?"

He pointed to several burdens lying at His feet. "You may try any of these."

All of them seemed to be of equal size. But each was labeled with a name.

"Why there's Joan's!" I said. Joan was married to a wealthy businessman. She lived in a sprawling estate and dressed her three daughters in the prettiest designer clothes. Sometimes she drove me to church in her Cadillac when my car was broken.

"Let me try that one." How difficult could her burden be? I thought.

The Lord removed my burden and placed Joan's on my shoulders. I sank to my knees beneath its weight. "Take it off!" I said. "What makes it so heavy?"

"Look inside."

I untied the straps and opened the top. Inside was a figure of her Mother-in-law, and when I lifted it out, it began to speak.

"Joan, you'll never be good enough for my son," it began. "He never should
have married you. You're a terrible mother to my grandchildren. .."
I quickly placed the figure back in the pack and withdrew another. It was Donna, Joan's youngest daughter. Her head was bandaged from the surgery that had failed to resolve her epilepsy.

A third figure was Joan's brother. Addicted to drugs, he had been convicted of killing a police officer.

"I see why her burden is so heavy, Lord. But she's always smiling and helping others. I didn't realize..."

"Would you like to try another?" He asked quietly.

I tested several. Paula's felt heavy: She was raising four small boys without a father. Debra's did too: a childhood of sexual abuse and a marriage of emotional abuse. When I came to Ruth's burden, I didn't even try. I knew that inside I would find arthritis, old age, a demanding full-time job, and a beloved husband in a nursing home.

"They're all too heavy, Lord." I said. "Give back my own."

As I lifted the familiar load once again, it seemed much lighter than the others.

"Let's look inside." He said.

I turned away, holding it close. "That's not a good idea," I said.


"There's a lot of junk in there."

"Let Me see."

The gentle thunder of His voice compelled me. I opened my burden.

He pulled out a brick.

"Tell me about this one."

"Lord, you know. It's money. I know we don't suffer like people in some countries or even the homeless here in America. But we have no insurance, and when the kids get sick, we can't always take them to the doctor. They've never been to a dentist. And I'm tired of dressing them in hand-me-downs. "

"My child, I will supply all of your needs... and your children's. I've given them healthy bodies. I will teach them that expensive clothing doesn't make a person valuable in my sight."

Then He lifted out the figure of a small boy. "And this?" He asked.

"Andrew..." I hung my head, ashamed to call my son a burden. "But, Lord, he's hyperactive. He's not quiet like the other two. He makes me so tired. He's always getting hurt, and someone is bound to think I abuse him. I yell at him all the time. Someday I may really hurt him...."

"My child," He said, "if you trust Me, I will renew your strength. If you allow me to fill you with My Spirit, I will give you patience."

Then He took some pebbles from my burden.

"Yes, Lord," I said with a sigh. "Those are small. But they're important. I hate my hair. It's thin, and I can't make it look nice. I can't afford to go to the beauty shop. I'm overweight and can't stay on a diet. I hate all my clothes. I hate the way I look!"

"My child, people look at your outward appearance, but I look at your heart. By My Spirit you can gain self-control to lose weight. But your beauty should not come from outward appearance. Instead, it should come from your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in my sight."

My burden now seemed lighter than before.

"I guess I can handle it now." I said.

"There is more." He said. "Hand Me that last brick."

"Oh, you don't have to take that. I can handle it."

"My child, give it to me." Again His voice compelled me. He reached out His hand, and for the first time I saw the ugly wound.

"But, Lord, this brick is so awful, so nasty, so.....Lord! What happened to your hands? They're so scarred!" No longer focused on my burden, I looked for the first time into His face. In His brow were ragged scars --as though someone had pressed thorns into His flesh.

"Lord," I whispered. "What happened to you?"

His loving eyes reached into my soul.

"My child, you know. Hand me the brick. It belongs to me. I bought it."


"With My blood."

"But why, Lord?"

"Because I have loved you with an Everlasting Love. Give it to Me."

I placed the filthy brick into His wounded palm. It contained all the dirt and evil of my life: my pride, my selfishness, the depression that constantly tormented me.

He turned to the cross and hurled my brick into the pool of blood at its base. It hardly made a ripple.

"Now, my child, you need to go back. I will be with you always. When you are troubled, call to me and I will help you and show you things you cannot imagine now."

"Yes, Lord, I will call on you."

I reached to pick up my burden.

"You may leave that here if you wish. You see all these burdens? They are the ones that others have left at my feet. Joan's, Paula's, Debra's, Ruth's..... When you leave your burden here, I carry it with you. Remember, my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

As I placed my burden with Him, the light began to fade. Yet I heard Him whisper, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

A peace flooded my soul.

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