Steve, a twelve-year-old boy with alcoholic parents, was about to be lost forever, by the U.S. education system. Remarkably, he could read, yet, in spite of his reading skills, Steve was failing. He had been failing since first grade, as he was passed on from grade to grade. Steve was a big boy, looking more like a teenager than a twelve year old, yet, Steve went unnoticed... until Miss White.
Miss White was a smiling, young, beautiful redhead, and Steve was in love! For the first time in his young life, he couldn’t take his eyes off his teacher; yet, still he failed. He never did his homework, and he was always in trouble with Miss White. His heart would break under her sharp words, and when he was punished for failing to turn in his homework, he felt just miserable! Still, he did not study.
In the middle of the first semester of school, the entire seventh grade was tested for basic skills. Steve hurried through his tests, and continued to dream of other things, as the day wore on. His heart was not in school, but in the woods, where he often escaped alone, trying to shut out the sights, sounds and smells of his alcoholic home. No one checked on him to see if he was safe. No one knew he was gone, because no one was sober enough to care. Oddly, Steve never missed a day of school.
One day, Miss White’s impatient voice broke into his daydreams.
“Steve!!” Startled, he turned to look at her.
Steve locked his gaze on Miss White with adolescent adoration, as she began to go over the test results for the seventh grade.
“You all did pretty well,” she told the class, “except for one boy, and it breaks my heart to tell you this, but...” She hesitated, pinning Steve to his seat with a sharp stare, her eyes searching his face.
“...The smartest boy in the seventh grade is failing my class!”
She just stared at Steve, as the class spun around for a good look. Steve dropped his eyes and carefully examined his fingertips.
After that, it was war!! Steve still wouldn’t do his homework. Even as the punishments became more severe, he remained stubborn.
“Just try it! ONE WEEK!” He was unmoved.
“You’re smart enough! You’ll see a change!” Nothing fazed him.
“Give yourself a chance! Don’t give up on your life!” Nothing.
“Steve! Please! I care about you!”
Wow! Suddenly, Steve got it!! Someone cared about him? Someone, totally unattainable and perfect, CARED ABOUT HIM??!!
Steve went home from school, thoughtful, that afternoon. Walking into the house, he took one look around. Both parents were passed out, in various stages of undress, and the stench was overpowering! He, quickly, gathered up his camping gear, a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, a bottle of water, and this time...his schoolbooks. Grim faced and determined, he headed for the woods.
Once upon a time, a man punished his 5-year-old daughter for using up the family's only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper. Money was tight, and he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve, he saw that the child had pasted the gold paper so as to decorate a shoebox to put under the Christmas tree.
Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, "This is for you, Daddy!"
As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction.
But when he opened it, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. "Don't you know, young lady, " he said harshly, "when you give someone a present there's supposed to be something inside the package!"
The little girl looked up at him with tears rolling from her eyes and said: "Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full."
The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.
An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept that little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.
In a very real sense, each of us as human beings have been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and God.
There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.
I live in Hollywood. You may think people in such a glamorous, fun-filled place are happier than others. If so, you have some mistaken ideas about the nature of happiness.
Many intelligent people still equate happiness with fun. The truth is that fun and happiness have little or nothing in common. Fun is what we experience during an act. Happiness is what we experience after an act. It is a deeper, more abiding emotion.
Going to an amusement park or ball game, watching a movie or television, are fun activities that help us relax, temporarily forget our problems and maybe even laugh. But they do not bring happiness, because their positive effects end when the fun ends.
I have often thought that if Hollywood stars have a role to play, it is to teach us that happiness has nothing to do with fun. These rich, beautiful inpiduals have constant access to glamorous parties, fancy cars, expensive homes, everything that spells "happiness".
But in memoir after memoir, celebrities reveal the unhappiness hidden beneath all their fun: depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, broken marriages, troubled children, profound loneliness.
The way people cling to the belief that a fun-filled, pain-free life equates happiness actually diminishes their chances of ever attaining real happiness. If fun and pleasure are equated with happiness, then pain must be equated with unhappiness. But, in fact, the opposite is true: More times than not, things that lead to happiness involve some pain.
As a result, many people avoid the very endeavors that are the source of true happiness. They fear the pain inevitably brought by such things as marriage, raising children, professional achievement, religious commitment, civic or charitable work, and self-improvement.
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room‘s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end.
They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn‘t hear the band - he could see it in his mind‘s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly and painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer's showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.
As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man's name embossed in gold.
Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, "With all your money you give me a Bible?" He then stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.
Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and a wonderful family, but realizing his father was very old, he thought perhaps he should go to see him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make the arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.
When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father's important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago.
With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. As he was reading, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer's name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words… "PAID IN FULL".
How many times do we miss blessings because they are not packaged as we expected? I trust you enjoyed this. Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. Sometimes we don't realize the good fortune we have or we could have because we expect "the packaging" to be different. What may appear as bad fortune may in fact be the door that is just waiting to be opened.
Once upon a time there was a baby eagle living in a nest perched on a cliff overlooking a beautiful valley with waterfalls and streams, trees and lots of little animals, scurrying about enjoying their lives.
The baby eagle liked the nest. It was the only world he had ever known. It was warm and comfortable, had a great view, and even better, he had all the food and love and attention that a great mother eagle could provide. Many times each day the mother would swoop down from the sky and land in the nest and feed the baby eagle delicious morsels of food. She was like a god to him, he had no idea where she came from or how she worked her magic.
The baby eagle was hungry all the time, but the mother eagle would always come just in time with the food and love and attention he craved. The baby eagle grew strong. His vision grew very sharp. He felt good all the time.
Until one day, the mother stopped coming to the nest.
The baby eagle was hungry. "I'm sure to die," said the baby eagle, all the time.
"Very soon, death is coming," he cried, with tears streaming down his face. Over and over. But there was no one there to hear him.
Then one day the mother eagle appeared at the top of the mountain cliff, with a big bowl of delicious food and she looked down at her baby. The baby looked up at the mother and cried "Why did you abandon me? I'm going to die any minute. How could you do this to me?"
The mother said, "Here is some very tasty and nourishing food, all you have to do is come get it."
"Come get it!" said the baby, with much anger. "How?"
The mother flew away.
The baby cried and cried and cried.
A few days later, "I'm going to end it all," he said. "I give up. It is time for me to die."
He didn't know his mother was nearby. She swooped down to the nest with his last meal.
"Eat this, it's your last meal," she said.
The baby cried, but he ate and whined and whined about what a bad mother she was.
"You're a terrible mother," he said. Then she pushed him out of the nest.
Picked up speed.
Faster and faster.
He screamed. "I'm dying I'm dying," he cried. He picked up more speed.
He looked up at his mother. "How could you do this to me?"
He looked down.
The ground rushed closer, faster and faster. He could visualize his own death so clearly, coming so soon, and cried and whined and complained. "This isn't fair!" he screamed.
Something strange happens.
The air caught behind his arms and they snapped away from his body, with a feeling unlike anything he had ever experienced. He looked down and saw the sky. He wasn't moving towards the ground anymore, his eyes were pointed up at the sun.
"Huh?" he said. "What is going on here!"
"You're flying," his mother said.
"This is fun!" laughed the baby eagle, as he soared and ped and swooped.
"Yes it is!" said the mother.