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December 2001

Quote of the Month: Am I not destroying my enemies what I make friends of them? - Abraham Lincoln

Thought:

A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape...
but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape...

A strong woman isn't afraid of anything...
but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear...

A strong woman won't let anyone get the best of her...
but a woman of strength gives the best of her to everyone...

A strong woman walks sure footedly...
but a woman of strength knows God will catch her when she falls...

A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face...
but a woman of strength wears grace...

A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey...
but a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will
become strong.
--unknown to me

Story: The Burden

"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.

"Lets look inside" He said.

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

"Why?"

"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."

"How?"

"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 it's 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.

- Louise Gouge, Moody Magazine February 1993, as it appeared in Wit & Wisdom                                

Joke of the Week:

A very successful businessman had a meeting with his new son-in-law.  "I love my daughter, and now I welcome you into the family," said the man.  "To show you how much we care for you, I'm making you a 50-50 partner in my business.
All you have to do is go to the factory every day and learn the operations."

The son-in-law interrupted, "I hate factories.  I can't stand the noise."

"I see," replied the father-in-law.  "Well, then you'll work in the office and take charge of some of the operations."

"I hate office work," said the son-on-law.  "I can't stand being stuck behind a desk all day."

"Wait a minute," said the father-in-law.  "I just make you half-owner of a moneymaking organization, but you don't like factories and won't work in a office.  What am I going to do with you?"

"Easy," said the young man.  "Buy me out."

 


November 2001

Quote of the Week: Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. - Henry Ford (1863-1947)

Thought: Age

Men are like wine - some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age. - Pope John XXIII
Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. - Satchel Paige
Age is not a handicap.  Age is nothing but a number. It is how you use it. - Ethel Payne
The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. - Lucille Ball

Story of the Week:

When God Make Mothers

By the time the Lord made mothers, he was into the sixth day
working overtime. An Angel appeared and said "Why are you
spending so much time on this one?" And the Lord answered and
said, "Have you read the spec sheet on her? She has to be
completely washable, but not plastic; have 200 movable parts, all
replaceable; run on black coffee and leftovers; have a lap that
can hold three children at one time and that disappears when she
stands up; have a kiss that can cure anything from a scrape knee
to a broken heart; and have six pairs of hands."

The Angel was astounded at the requirements for this one. "Six
pairs of hands! No Way!" said the Angel.

The Lord replied, Oh, it's not the hands that are the problem.
It's the three pairs of eyes that mothers must have!"

"And that's on the standard model?" the Angel asked. The Lord
nodded in agreement, "Yep, one pair of eyes are to see through
the closed door as she asks her children what they are doing even
though she already knows. Another pair in the back of her head,
are to see what she needs to know even though no one thinks she
can. And the third pair are here in the front of her head. They
are for looking at an errant child and saying that she
understands and loves him or her without even saying a single
word."

The Angel tried to stop the Lord "This is too much work for one
day. Wait until tomorrow to finish." "But I can't!" The Lord
protested "I am so close to finishing this creation that is so
close to my own heart. She already heals herself when she is sick
AND can feed a family of six on a pound of hamburger and can get
a nine year old to stand in the shower."

The Angel moved closer and touched the woman, "But you have made
her so soft, Lord." "She is soft," the Lord agreed, "but I have
also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or
accomplish."

"Will she be able to think?" Asked the angel. The Lord replied,
"Not only will she be able to think, she will be able to reason,
and negotiate."

The Angel then noticed something and reached out and touched the
woman's cheek. "Oops, it looks like you have a leak with this
model. I told you that you were trying to put too much into this
one."

"That's not a leak." the Lord objected. "That's a tear!"

"What's the tear for?" the Angel asked. The Lord said, "The tear
is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her disappointment,
her pain, her loneliness, her grief, and her pride."

The Angel was impressed. "You are a genius, Lord. You thought of
everything for this one. You even created the tear!"

The Lord looked at the Angel and smiled and said, "I'm afraid you
are wrong again, my friend. I created the woman, but she created
the tear!"

- Author Unknown

Joke of the Week:

4 YEARS OF AGE My Mommy can do anything!
8 YEARS OF AGE My Mom knows a lot!  A whole lot!
12 YEARS OF AGE My Mother doesn't really know quite everything.
14 YEARS OF AGE Naturally, Mother doesn't know that, either.
16 YEARS OF AGE Mother?  She's hopelessly old-fashioned.
18 YEARS OF AGE That old woman?  She's way out of date!
25 YEARS OF AGE Well, she might know a little bit about it.
35 YEARS OF AGE Before we decide, let's get Mom's opinion.
45 YEARS OF AGE Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?
65 YEARS OF AGE Wish I could talk it over with Mom.....

Meditation:

* Name the ten wealthiest people in the world.
* Name the last ten Heisman trophy winners.
* Name the last ten winners of the Miss America contest.
* Name eight people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.
* How about the last ten Academy Award winners for best picture, or
* The last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?  I didn't do well either.  With the exception of you trivia
hounds, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday too well.

Surprising how quickly we forget, isn't it?  And what I've mentioned above
are no second-rate achievements.  These are the best in their fields.  But
the applause dies.  Awards tarnish.  Achievements are forgotten. Accolades
and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz.  See how you do on this one