Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Walk Slower, Daddy

"Walk a little slower, Daddy",
Said a little child so small.
"I'm following in your footsteps,
And I don't want to fall.

Sometimes your steps are very fast,
Sometimes they're hard to see;
So walk a little slower, Daddy,
For you are leading me.

Someday when I'm all grown up,
You're what I want to be;
Then I will have a little child
Who'll want to follow me.

And I would want to lead just right,
And know that I was true;
So, walk a little slower, Daddy,
For I must follow you."

-Author Unknown-

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Daddy is Real

He was like no man I had ever known - a big, shy, gentle man, who adored children. He was a U.S. Navy Electrician, with powerful hands, yet to see him brush the dirt off a child's scraped knee left me breathless at his tenderness. He was younger than I, that was certain, but I noticed that his eyes had a look about them, as though he had seen much sorrow. So had I.

I was on the run, from an abusive marriage, taken in by mutual friends. I was devout, even prudish, but with a "wicked" sense of humor that could crack him up and make him blush to the roots of his hair. I found that irresistible.

I was pretty sure that I was in trouble, when my nine year old daughter, Jenny, cornered me and asked if I would "marry again." That filled me with panic.

"Oh my, Jenny! I'd like to not think about that for about a hundred years!"

"O.K., Mommy." Jenny replied, giving me a level look. "...But, if you ever do, I want you to marry someone like, Louie." I was stunned. Only nine years old, and already planning her future.

"You know," she continued. "He'd make a great Daddy!"

I could feel myself repelling down the side of a cliff, without a safety net, but I was charmed by her candor...and even then, I could feel God beckoning me toward this wonderful man. Of course, Jenny gave Louie "the speech." What she expected out of a father. What she would consider as appropriate behavior. Suddenly, my nine year old was a therapist and matchmaker, right in the middle of the living room. I expected that Louie would "run for the hills!" But he stayed on.

He was from Tennessee, and very country. I found him likeable, sensitive, and charming. He was a gentleman and a gentle man. It was not in him to take advantage of a woman. He was my friend, with perfect courtesy, and he was attractively awkward. Altogether lovely to a woman like me.

From a distance, we fell in love. Not even in his heart would he bridge that gap of impropriety. I had never met anyone like him before. We loved the same books. When it came to music, we were from different planets. I was whimsical, creative, a dreamer. He was practical, solid, a rock. But we both loved my children, and against all odds, we fell in love.

Of course it would never last. How could it? He loved motorcycles! And he owned one! I loved the ballet and opera. The closest I came to rock and roll was the BeeGees, and the closest he came to ballet was when he was launched from his motorcycle, making a hard right turn! We talked away the night every chance we got. I could make him helpless with laughter, which in turn, delighted my heart! How could it not work? But the miracle worker and the wisest of us all, turned out to be six year old Helen.

We were sitting in my car, right outside of Baskin Robbins. She was licking her Bubble Gum ice-cream cone. I was inhaling my Pistachio Almond Fudge.

"We need to have a serious talk, Momma." She said. She looked intently at me, with her sea green eyes.

"I've been thinking. I think it's time that we get married." She pulled herself up to her full, three-feet, six inches in height, as she searched my face.

Helen had proposed to Louie, weeks ago. She had ushered him into her room, sat him down on her bed, and stood in front of him. Her hand raised, finger pointing for emphasis, she said:

"You know, Louie, I've been looking for a man like you, my whole life." Stunned, all Louie could do was listen.

"Now, Louie," she began, "all of us girls need you, and I know that Momma does, too! That is why I'm asking you to marry us!" Afterwards, when Louie told me about the proposal, I thought...oh boy, this guy is history!!

"So what did you tell her?" I asked him, not quite nonchalantly.

"I told Helen, that as soon as we decide that we want to get married, she would be the first to know." He said, looking at me with an intense gaze.

Helen thought that Louie looked like Elvis. (I guess he did, sort of, if you closed one eye and looked at him through the heart of a child.) She had fallen in love with this big, gentle man...head over heels. Our romance had blossomed surrounded by a crowd of little girls...a blonde, a brunette, and a red-head. We had discussed marriage and there was no doubt that he was crazy about the girls...and me.

Helen had been the most hurt, when her 'birth father' had abandoned her. He explained to her that it was "nothing personal." Now, I wondered if a new marriage would be the best thing for my daughters, and I knew that Louie wondered if his great love could erase a lifetime of hurt.

Now, here I was, being lectured in a parking lot by my six year old.

"You know, Momma, you're not getting any younger" (Where did she get this stuff?) "Louie loves us, and he WANTS us. I want him to be my Daddy! My real Daddy!"

Words of reassurance rushed to my tongue, as Helen exclaimed. "Momma, my birth father doesn't want me!" An exquisite pain shot through me! Of course he does! I wanted to scream, but I could not invalidate the truth she spoke, with a lie.

"I think it's time, we got married!" Helen said. "We've been dating long enough!"

Finally, with tears in my eyes, I said, "Helen, I don't know what's inside some men's hearts, but I know Louie's heart. He loves you. He loves all of us, and if there is anyone who can be your "real" Daddy, he can. And I'm going to tell him 'yes' for all of us!"

That night we had a celebration dinner...Louie, Helen, Jenny, Michelle and me. With Kool-Aid glasses held high, we toasted a new future, a new family, and a new hope: where children are always treasured, and every Daddy is "real."

Written by J Lewis

Sunday, June 17, 2012

No Regrets

If I knew it would be the last time that I'd see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time that I see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss and call you back for just one more.

If I knew it would be the last time I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word, so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time, I could spare an extra minute or two to stop and say "I love you,"
Instead of assuming you would know I do.

If I knew it would be the last time I would be there to share your day,
Well, I'm sure you'll have so many more, I can let just this one slip away.

For surely there's always tomorrow to make up for an oversight,
And we always get a second chance to make everything right.

There will always be another day to say our "I love you's,"
And certainly there's another chance to say our "Anything I can do's?"

But just in case I might be wrong, and today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you and I hope we never forget,

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old alike,
Today may be the last chance you get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you're waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes, you'll surely regret the day,

That you didn't take that extra time for a smile, a hug, or a kiss,
Too busy to grant someone what turned out to be their last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today, whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them and that you'll always hold them dear.

Take time to say "I'm sorry," "Please forgive me," "Thank you" or "It's okay".
And if tomorrow never comes, you'll have no regrets about today.

-Author Unknown-

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Joys of Motherhood

I was renewing my driver's license at the County Clerk's office and was asked by the woman recorder to state my occupation. I hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

"What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job?"

"Of course I have a job, I'm a mother."

"We don't list 'mother' as an occupation ... 'housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about this until one day I found myself in the same situation again, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career-woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high sounding title,

"What is your occupation?" she probed.

What made me say it, I do not know ... The words simply popped out. "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."

The clerk paused, ballpoint pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard right.

I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire.

"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?"

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research, (what mother doesn't), in the laboratory and in the field, (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters, (the whole darned family), and already have four credits, (all daughters).

Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day, (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are more of a satisfaction rather than just money."

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants - ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs I could hear our new experimental model, (a 6 month old), in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.

I felt triumphant! I had scored a beat on bureaucracy! And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another mother."

Motherhood...What a glorious career! Especially when there's a title on the door.

- Author Unknown ~

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Pancake Lesson

Six-year-old Brandon decided one Saturday morning to fix his parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor.

He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten.

Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was getting very bad. He didn't know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove (and he didn't know how the stove worked!).

Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor.

Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky. And just then he saw Dad standing at the door. Big crocodile tears welled up in Brandon's eyes. All he'd wanted to do was good, but he'd made a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him.

Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process.

That's how God deals with us. We try to do something good in life, but it turns into a mess. Our marriage gets all sticky or we insult a friend, or we can't stand our job, or our health goes sour.

Sometimes we just stand there in tears because we can't think of anything else to do. That's when God picks us up and loves us and forgives us, even though some of our mess gets all over Him. But just because we might mess up, we can't stop trying to "make pancakes" for God or for others. Sooner or later we'll get it right, and then they'll be glad we tried...

I was thinking... and I wondered if I had any wounds needing to be healed, friendships that need rekindling or three words needing to be said, sometimes, "I love you" can heal & bless.

Remind every one of your friends that you love them, Even if you think they don't love back, you would be amazed at what those three little words, a smile, and a reminder like can do.

-Author Unknown-

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I Bless You, My Son

A long time ago there was a young boy who lived with his father in a small cottage.
Almost every evening he would hear his father say the same thing:

"Poor me. I will die a sad old man because you are a fool and will never amount
to anything."

But the boy was not a fool, in fact, he showed a lot of wisdom for his age, and
he had a generous heart. One day, after helping a widow stack wood, he was about
to go home when she stopped him and placing her hand on his head spoke these words:

"You are a reflection of the face of God. The world is brighter for the joy you
have given me this day. I bless you my child."

The boy stepped back, amazed: "What was that?"

"Why, it was a blessing my child! Haven't you ever received a blessing before?"

Back at home he asked his father: "Papa? Why do you curse me? Why do you not bless

"What a ridiculous question. It is against my nature to bless. Poor me. I will die
a sad old man because you are a fool and will never amount to anything."

"Oh" said the boy, and he felt sorry for his father. That night he decided that
no matter how uncomfortable it felt, he would become the kind of person who blessed
others. And so he did.

The boy grew to be a man, left the forest and built a home for himself and had a
family of his own. He was still haunted by the curses of his father, but he had
decided to bless.

Almost every evening, he would call one of his children to himself, lay his hand
upon their head and speak these words:

"You are a reflection of the face of God. The world is brighter for the joy you
give me this day. I bless you my child."

One evening there was a knock on the front door and as he had raised his children
to do, they welcomed in a blind beggar, and gave him some food to eat. The young
man walked in and immediately recognized it was his own father, but he didn't reveal
his own identity.

He listened to the old man speak. And the old man talked about how he had lost his
eyesight, and how he'd been forced to beg in a world where life was hard. Just then
his son spoke up:

"Grandfather! You're welcome to stay here with us!"

"But I have no money to pay you." said the old man.

"Oh, we don't need any money; all we ask is that as long as you stay with us, you
speak only blessings. - What's the matter?"

"It...it's against my nature to bless!"

"Grandfather, I can tell by your hands that you have worked your whole life. So,
begging must be against your nature as well, but see, it has brought you here to

The old man couldn't argue this point, so he agreed to stay, but it was weeks before
he spoke a word - it was so against his nature to bless. When he finally did, you
could hardly hear him:

"What's that Grandfather?"

"I said, bless you for taking an old man in from the cold. I wish my son had turned
out like you, but he was a fool and..."

"Ah! Grandfather, only blessings!"

"Well, I wish my son had turned out like you! Bless you!"

This wasn't bad for a first blessing! And a week later he spoke another one and
it was a little smoother. Then he began to bless every day -- many times in a day.
You could say that blessing became... second nature to him.

The more he blessed, the more he smiled. The more he smiled the more his heart softened.
And the more his heart softened, the more joy he began to experience; a different
kind of joy than he had known before.

They lived happily for years until one winter the old man fell ill and was near
death. As his breathing grew labored, his son sat on the bedside and asked:

"Grandfather, is there anything I can get for you?"

"No one can bring me what I most need at this hour."

"Please Grandfather, anything! What would you like?"

"I should like to see my own son once more to give him my blessing. As he was growing,
I gave only curses. I told him it was against my nature to bless. And, as you can
see, I have learned to bless too late..." Then his son leaned closer and whispered:

"Papa! Papa it's me, your own son... I am here! It is not too late! God has seen
fit to bring us together these last years. It's not too late! I'm here... I'm here!"

And they embraced. A moment later the old man straightened up, stretched out a trembling
hand, laid it upon his son's head, and spoke these words:

"You are a reflection of the face of God. Though I cannot see you with my eyes,
I see you with my heart and the mercy you have shown me these past years is like
a brilliant light, dispelling all shadow as I pass from time into eternity. I will
die a happy old man, because I have learned to bless and so...my son... I... bless

With these words, his hand fell back down to his chest and he died with this beautiful
smile on his face.

Just then the wind became very strong outside and he got up to close the shutter,
but then he heard an ancient voice:

"Eternity shines brighter for the joy you bring me this day. I bless you my child."

Then the wind died down and everything became peaceful in the countryside and in
the heart of the young man.

~ Author Unknown ~

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Flying With Chickens

Once, long ago, an Indian warrior found an eagle's egg on a mountaintop, and he put it in the nest of a barnyard hen. When the time came, the chicks hatched, and so did the little eagle, who had been kept warm in the same brood.

The tiny eagle grew along with the hatchlings. After some time it learned to cluck and cackle like chickens, to scratch the ground, to look for worms. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air onto the lower branches of the bushes, just like all the other chickens.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. Up there in the bright blue, this bird glided with graceful majesty among the wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The old eagle was awestruck. It turned to the nearest chicken and asked, "Who's that?"

The chicken looked up and answered, "Oh, that's the golden eagle, the king of the birds. He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth... we're chickens."

So, the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

Written by Anthony De Mello, SJ