It takes strength to be certain,
It takes courage to have doubts.
It takes strength to fit in,
It takes courage to stand out.
It takes strength to share a friend’s pain,
It takes courage to feel your own pain.
It takes strength to hide your own pain,
It takes courage to show it and deal with it.
It takes strength to stand guard,
It takes courage to let down your guard.
It takes strength to conquer,
It takes courage to surrender.
It takes strength to endure abuse,
It takes courage to stop it.
It takes strength to stand alone,
It takes courage to lean on a friend.
It takes strength to love,
It takes courage to beloved.
It takes strength to survive,
It takes courage to live.
by David L. Griffith
It had been a very long night. Our black cocker spaniel ‘Precious’ was having a difficult delivery. I lay on the floor beside her large four-foot square cage, watching her every movement. Watching and waiting, just in case I had to rush her to the veterinarian.
After six hours the puppies started to appear. The first-born was black and white. The second and third puppies were tan and brown in color. The fourth and fifth were also spotted black and white. “One, two, three, four, five,” I counted to myself as I walked down the hallway to wake my wife, Judy, and tell her that everything was fine.
As we walked back down the hallway and into the spare bedroom, I noticed a sixth puppy had been born and was now laying all by itself over to the side of the cage. I picked up the small puppy and laid it on top of the large pile of puppies, who were whining and trying to nurse on the mother. Precious immediately pushed the small puppy away from rest of the group. She refused to recognize it as a member of her family.
“Something’s wrong,” said Judy.
I reached over and picked up the puppy. My heart sank inside my chest when I saw the little puppy had a cleft lip and palate and could not close its little mouth. I decided right there and then that if there was any way to save this animal I was going to give it my best shot.
I took the puppy to the vet and was told nothing could be done unless we were willing to spend about a thousand dollars to try and correct the defect. He told us that the puppy would die mainly because it could not suckle. After returning home, Judy and I decided that we could not afford to spend that kind of money without getting some type of assurance from the vet that the puppy had a chance to live. However, that did not stop me from purchasing a syringe and feeding the puppy by hand. Which I did every day and night, every two hours, for more than ten days. The little puppy survived and learned to eat on his own as long as it was soft canned food.
The fifth week I placed an ad in the newspaper, and within a week we had people interested in all of the pups, except the one with the deformity. Late one afternoon I went to the store to pick up a few groceries. Upon returning I happened to see the old retired schoolteacher, who lived across the street from us, waving at me. She had read in the paper that we had puppies and was wondering if she might get one from us for her grandson and his family. I told her all the puppies had found homes, but I would keep my eyes open for anyone else who might have an available cocker spaniel. I also mentioned that if someone should change their mind, I would let her know. Within days, all but one of the puppies had been picked up by their new families. This left me with one brown and tan cocker as well as the smaller puppy with the cleft lip and palate.
Two days passed without me hearing anything from the gentleman who had been promised the tan and brown pup. I telephoned the schoolteacher and told her I had one puppy left and that she was welcome to come and look at it. She advised me that she was going to pick up her grandson and would come over at about eight o’clock that evening.
That night at around seven-thirty, Judy and I were eating supper when we heard a knock on the front door. When I opened the door, the man who had wanted the tan and brown pup was standing there. We walked inside, took care of the adoption details and I handed him the puppy. Judy and I did not know what we would do or say when the teacher showed up with her grandson. At exactly eight o’clock the doorbell rang. I opened the door, and there was the schoolteacher with her grandson standing behind her. I explained to her the man had come for the puppy after all, and there were no puppies left. “I’m sorry, Jeffery. They found homes for all the puppies,” she told her grandson.
Just at that moment, the small puppy left in the bedroom began to yelp.
“My puppy! My puppy!” yelled the little boy as he ran out from behind his grandmother.
I just about fell over when I saw that the small child also had a cleft lip and palate. The boy ran past me as fast as he could, down the hallway to where the puppy was still yelping. When the three of us made it to the bedroom, the small boy was holding the puppy in his arms. He looked up at his grandmother and said, “Look, Grandma. They found homes for all the puppies except the pretty one, and he looks just like me.”
The schoolteacher turned to us, “Is this puppy available?”
“Yes,” I answered. “That puppy is available.”
The little boy, who was now hugging the puppy, chimed in, “My grandma told me these kind of puppies are real expensive and that I have to take real good care of it.”
The lady opened her purse, but I reached over and pushed her hand back down into her purse so that she would not pull her wallet out. “How much do you think this puppy is worth?” I asked the boy. “About a dollar?” “No. This puppy is very, very expensive,” he replied.
“More than a dollar?” I asked.
“I’m afraid so,” said his grandmother.
The boy stood there pressing the small puppy against his cheek. “We could not possibly take less than two dollars for this puppy,” Judy said, squeezing my hand. “Like you said, it’s the pretty one.”
The schoolteacher took out two dollars and handed it to the young boy.
“It’s your dog now, Jeffery. You pay the man.”
Still holding the puppy tightly, the boy proudly handed me the money. Any worries I’d had about the puppy’s future were gone.
The image of the little boy and his matching pup stays with me still. I think it must be a wonderful feeling for any young person to look at themselves in the mirror and see nothing, except “the pretty one.”
By Roger Dean Kiser,
a love, hope, courage books writer
A teacher teaching Maths to seven-year-old Laiq asked him, “If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?”
Within a few seconds Laiq replied confidently, “Four!”
The dismayed teacher was expecting an effortless correct answer, three. She was disappointed. “Maybe the child did not listen properly.” – she thought.
She repeated, “Laiq, listen carefully. If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?”
Laiq had seen the disappointment on his teacher’s face. He calculated again on his fingers. But within him he was also searching for the answer that will make the teacher happy. His search for the answer was not for the correct one, but the one that will make his teacher happy.
This time hesitatingly he replied, “Four.”
The disappointment stayed on the teacher’s face. She remembered that Laiq liked strawberries.
She thought maybe he doesn’t like apples and that is making him loose focus.
This time with an exaggerated excitement and twinkling in her eyes she asked, “If I give you one strawberry and one strawberry and one strawberry, then how many you will have?”
Seeing the teacher happy, young Laiq calculated on his fingers again. There was no pressure on him, but a little on the teacher. She wanted her new approach to succeed.
With a hesitating smile young Laiq replied, “Three?”
The teacher now had a victorious smile. Her approach had succeeded. She wanted to congratulate herself.
But one last thing remained. Once again she asked him, “Now if I give you one apple and one apple and one more apple how many will you have?”
Promptly Laiq answered, “Four!”
The teacher was aghast. “How Laiq, how?” she demanded in a little stern and irritated voice.
In a voice that was low and hesitating young Laiq replied, “Because I already have one apple in my bag.”
A man had a little daughter, an only and much beloved child. He lived only for her, she was his life. So when she became ill and her illness resisted the efforts of the best obtainable physicians, he became like a man possessed, moving heaven and earth to bring about her restoration to health.
His best efforts proved fruitless, however, and the child died. The father was totally irreconcilable. He became a bitter recluse, shutting himself away from his many friends, refusing every activity that might restore his poise and bring him back to his normal self.
Then one night he had a dream. He was in heaven and witnessing a grand pageant of all the little child angels. They were marching in an apparently endless line past the Great White Throne. Every white-robed, angelic tot carried a candle. He noticed, however, that one child’s candle was not lit. Then he saw that the child with the dark candle was his own little girl. Rushing towards her, while the pageant faltered, he seized her in his arms, caressed her tenderly, and asked, “How is that your candle is the only one not lit?” “Father, they often relight it, but your tears always put it out again,” she said.
Just then he awoke from from his dream. The lesson was crystal clear, and it’s effects were immediate. From that hour on he was no longer a recluse, but mingled freely and cheerfully with his former friends and associates. No longer would his little darling’s candle be extinguished by his useless tears.
The pastor called me to come forward. I walked to the pulpit confident and proud. I looked out at my family. Some wore somber expressions. Others had faces still damp with tears. Then I gazed down at the shiny black coffin crowned with yellow flowers.
My father, Charlie Lyons, was gone. It was my turn at his funeral earlier this year to pay tribute to the man who taught me so much growing up on the Northside. How do you sum up a lifetime in 10 minutes?
I flashed to Dad holding the handlebar and jogging alongside my bike until I felt ready to ride on my own. I saw him pulling up to my broken-down car at night, doing a quick fix and trailing me home. I thought of the hug we shared at my wedding.
Then, I started talking about a special moment I draw from now. Dad was always full of advice, but one of the biggest lessons he taught me one summer was about having a strong work ethic. When my brother and I were growing up, we mowed yards during the summer to earn pocket change. Dad was our salesman. He pitched our service to neighbors and offered a price they could not refuse. My brother and I got $10 per yard. Some yards were a half-acre. I later found out our friends were charging $20 or more for the same amount of work.
Every time we headed out to mow lawns, Dad was there to watch. I used to wonder why he came with us. He stood supervising our work in the sticky Florida heat when he could have been inside relaxing with air conditioning and an icy drink.
One day we were cutting our next-door neighbor’s yard. She always waited until the grass was knee-high to call us over. To make matters worse, we had an old lawn mower that kept cutting off as we plowed through her backyard jungle. This particular afternoon, I was finishing up and was tired and sweaty. I pictured the tall glass of Kool-Aid I would gulp in a minute to cool down.
I was just about to cut off the lawn mower when I saw Dad pointing to one lone blade. I thought about the chump change I was getting paid for cutting grass so high it almost broke the mower. I ignored him and kept walking. Dad called me out and yelled, “You missed a piece.”
I frowned, hoping he would let me slide and go home. He kept pointing. So beat and deflated, I went back to cut that piece of grass. I mumbled to myself: “That one piece isn’t hurting anyone. Why won’t he just let it go?”
But when I reached adulthood, I understood his message: When you’re running a business, the work you do says a great deal about you. If you want to be seen as an entrepreneur with integrity, you must deliver a quality product. That single blade of grass meant the job was not done.
Other neighbors took notice of the good work we did and we soon garnered more business. We started out with one client, but by the end of the summer we had five, which was all we cared to handle because we wanted time to enjoy our summer break from school.
The lesson my dad taught me stayed with me: Be professional. If you say you are going to perform a job at a certain time, keep your word. Give your customers the kind of service you would like to receive. It shows how sincere you are and how much pride you take in your work.
Before I knew it, my tribute was over. I saw my wife jump to her feet in an ovation. The pastor embraced me. People rushed to shake my hand. Though Dad’s body lay inside the coffin, I felt his spirit there. I pictured him standing in the sanctuary, wearing the white T-shirt and blue shorts he did on grass-cutting days. Always there for me and always proud.
By Patrick A. Lyons
One day, Buddha was walking from one town to another with a few of his followers.
While they were traveling, they happened to pass by a lake. They stopped to rest there and Buddha asked one of his disciples to get him some water from the lake.
A disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed some people were washing clothes in the water and, right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake.
As a result, the water became very muddy. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!”
So he came back and told Buddha, ”The water in the lake is very muddy. I don’t think it is suitable to drink.”
After a while, Buddha again asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water.
The disciple obediently went back to the lake. This time he found that the mud had settled down and the water was clean so he collected some in a pot and brought it to Buddha.
Buddha looked at the water then looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be and the mud settled down on its own. It is also the same with your mind. When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time and it will settle down on its own.”