It was a long, cold, dark winter. One that she didn’t think would ever end. There was snow, rain, and sleet. A couple of times there was enough ice to nearly break the branches on the trees. The little girl held on. She waited for the warmer weather, the better times, the warmth of the sun. She knew it would come, it was just a matter of time. As she waited patiently, she would say her prayers, she would thank God for protecting her and her mommy and daddy during these cold, dark, winter nights.
Finally, the day had come. The first bud of spring appeared out of the ground. The bud peeked out of her shoot and could feel the warmth surround her. She was filled with so much joy that, at first, she didn’t notice she was the only bud sprouting. After basking in the warmth of the sunshine for a few minutes she looked around, startled that she was the only one. Where was everyone else? Was she going to be all alone? Did she come out too soon? Was colder weather coming back and she would die because of her eagerness to sprout? She was filled with fear and doubt but she stayed strong. She knew God had a plan for her. It was then that a little girl saw her and started yelling for her dad to come see the new flower. The little girl was so excited that the bud could not help but smile. Her excitement was contagious.
A little while later another bud awakened. He also took a moment to take in the warmth around him. He then looked to see if the others had awakened and that was when he saw her. She was within inches of him and he knew he would love her. It didn’t take long for her to notice him either, even though it took the help of a little girl yelling “Look, daddy, now there’s two!”
They welcomed the spring with all the other buds that started to awaken. With all the other flowers around them, they knew they were meant for each other. When the rains came, he would lean towards her to cover her petals. When the strong winds came they would lean into it together, holding stems. They were inseparable. When the bees came they opened their petals for them so they could spread their seeds to other lands where there were no flowers. They also knew that the bees relied on their pollen to take back to their hives for food. It was a beneficial relationship. Everything was new and exciting.
Then summer came. It was a scorching summer, one like they had never seen. There was no water. Many flowers died but not our couple. They shared what they had with each other. Every little drop of moisture was shared between them. Luckily, they were also planted where they had shade for part of the day. They counted the hours down together until they were cooled by the shade. Every once in awhile the little girl would come out with a can of water and water them, helping to keep them alive. They were often too tired to open their petals wide enough for the bees to come but they did their best. They knew the only way to survive this summer was with the help of others. They prayed their prayers for rain, for cooler temperatures but it was not to be. Sometimes in life, God doesn’t answer prayers and there are reasons only He knows why. They had reached a point in their relationship that they were still together, but they didn’t talk much. Too much too worry about, too much life got in the way. When was their next rain drop, how would they make it through another day without food, why couldn’t they be like they were in the spring? Did they waste this whole season of their life? They knew better because they still shared the little water they had, they still protected each other but the excitement was gone.
Before they knew it Autumn was here. They had made it through the difficult summer and were enjoying another season of their life. The rains came again, as well as cooler weather. When he looked at her she was still the most beautiful, most loving, most caring flower in the garden. When she looked at him he was still the bravest, strongest, most handsome flower this side of Eden. They held each other’s petals more each day, knowing that their days were winding down. They reflected on the spring and the summer. Days when their love was new and days when they didn’t know if they would make it. They thought of their seeds spread far and wide, soon to be new flowers that would spread their love and beauty around the world. It wasn’t easy, they had moments of doubt but they fought for each other, they fought for their love. They survived.
Soon the cold winds blew again. They held on for as long as they could but with each passing day, their petals would fall off. They knew it wouldn’t be long now but they held on for each struggling moment. Relying on each other to get by. Praying for just one more second. She was the first to go, as she was the first to sprout. He wasn’t far behind her.
The little girl, all bundled up from the cold, looked at her daddy and said, “Look, daddy, the first two here are the last two to leave. I wonder if they were happy here, I wonder if they were in love.”
“Now, now,” said the daddy, “we know flowers can’t fall in love but if they could, those two would definitely have been like me and your mom. Through all the seasons and all the weather, the rain, the sun, the cold, they were standing right beside each other. Holding petals all the while.”
The little girl giggled. Through the cold, dark, winter nights she was safe as she anxiously waited for the first bud of spring to blossom again.
This is a story about a turkey named Tom. However, this was not an ordinary turkey. Tom the turkey did not want to be a turkey. Tom wanted to be an eagle.
Tom often thought to himself, “self, I do not like myself. Self, this is one boring life I live.” Day after day Tom would trot around the yard with all his turkey friends gobbling gobbling and gobbling. Tom would eat all the food that was given to him and he would watch himself getting fatter and fatter.
Tom would look to the sky and see the eagles flying around. Soaring above the trees. “So beautiful,” he thought. “I want to be like that. I want to be majestic. I want to be an icon. I want people to look at me with awe. I want to be a national symbol and for people to look at with me with thanksgiving in their hearts.”
As much as Tom flapped his wings he could not get off the ground. It wasn’t that Tom did not practice, because he did. Some days that was all Tom did. Tom would run around the yard flapping his wings, never to get more than a foot or so off the ground. “God, why would you give me wings but not let me fly very well? Why would you let me see the eagles soar but not let me join them?”
Many of Tom’s less ambitious friends would talk behind his back. “Who does he think he is?” “Look at that fool trying to fly like an eagle!” “Doesn’t he realize he will never be anything other than what he is?”
Many days and months passed by and nothing ever changed for the Tom. Every day it was the same thing. Wake up, eat, walk around the yard, eat, try to fly. Every day Tom would ask the same questions. “Why God why? I want to be more than this. I want people to look at me in awe and be thankful that I am here. I want people to love me.”
Soon the weather started to get colder. Many days people would come and grab some of Tom’s friends and he would never see them again. Tom continued to eat and grew bigger and bigger. One day a family came and walked around the yard looking for the perfect turkey. They found one in the Tom.
The father looked at his family and said, “This turkey is beautiful. He will be the perfect symbol for our thanksgiving dinner .” The little girl looked at the turkey and said “I love you turkey. You are so beautiful.”
Tom gobbled and gobbled. Tom was so happy. “Finally,” he thought, ” I am being appreciated. I may not be flying like an eagle yet but at least people are seeing me as special.”
Tom was taken to the family’s home where Tom was promptly killed and cooked for dinner. Before they ate the family prayed. “Thank you God for this wonderful meal. Especially this beautiful turkey. We will forever remember this turkey in our hearts on this national holiday.”
You see, God gave Tom everything Tom asked for. Tom was looked at with awe and beauty. Tom was a national symbol. The people gave thanks from their hearts for Tom. Tom was made exactly how God wanted Tom to be and exactly how Tom wanted to be seen. Tom just didn’t realize that who he was was exactly who he was made to be.
What do you ask God for? Have you ever asked for a pure heart? Have you ever asked God to show you the way to be more like Him? Or are all of your asks and wants more about you? Have you ever thanked God for who you are, for who He made you to be?
I walked by him at least twice a day. More often than not it was closer to six times a day. He was always in the same spot, always wearing the same clothes and always staring down at the ground.
Anytime that I would walk by and I had some change I would drop it in his hat. He would never look up. He never said thank you. As a matter of fact, I never heard him say anything. I was usually on the go or on my phone or talking to my co-workers so I might not have heard him if he did, but I really don’t think he did.
After a few weeks of dropping change, I decided to do an experiment. I started off dropping one dollar bills in his hat. When he didn’t react I started dropping fives. Then I would drop a ten spot here and there. Nothing, no reaction from this guy. He didn’t even look up to see what I looked like.
I even got my co-workers involved. I had them start giving whatever they had on them to this guy. They all reported back the same thing that I experienced. No acknowledgement that we even existed. No thank you. Nothing. We had to be giving him enough to pay for rent somewhere. Or at least buy some new clothes.
Many months passed. It was getting close to Thanksgiving. I had a really good year financially. Even got myself a promotion. Life was good. I was doing some early Christmas shopping and decided I would buy this guy a winter coat. I even put a hundred dollars in the pocket. I put the jacket down beside him on my way to work. Again, no acknowledgement.
I had enough. I was finally going to talk to this guy. I was going to ask him what his problem was. Why couldn’t he even say thanks. Why couldn’t he at least look up and give me a nod at least. Give me something man. I have been giving to you for over six months now.
As luck would have it though I was tied up in important meetings all day. I had to have lunch catered because I couldn’t get out of the office. When I left that day he wasn’t there. For the first time in as long as I can remember he wasn’t there.
The next morning he wasn’t there either. Same thing at lunch. Same thing on my way home. The entire week was the same. He was no where to be found.
The next week a lady came into my office. She asked for me by name. How did she know my name? Anyway, turns out she was the sister of this man. She told me how Jim, her brother, that was the guys name, had cancer and it took a turn for the worse. He passed away last week. He left a note for her to give to me. I asked how she knew about me. She said it was all in the note.
She also told me more about his story. One night Jim, his wife and kids went out to eat and on their way home they were hit by a drunk driver. Jim was the only one that survived. He never recovered. He never talked again. She never learned if it was trauma from the accident or by choice. Jim just checked out of this world.
I couldn’t believe what I heard. How come I never talked to him? Was I too lost in my own world to reach out to him? Did I think I was better than him? This was another human being and all I did was throw money at him. I didn’t even try to get to know him.
After his sister left I went to my office and opened the letter.
I know your name because I listened when you walked by me. I know you are married and have four girls. Congrats on your promotion by the way. I know all of this from listening to you talk on your cell phone. By listening to you talk to your co-workers.
I wanted to thank you for all you gave me. I wanted you to know that I listened because I cared about you. I listened waiting for you to say something to me. I listened, and waited for you to acknowledge me.
I would give you everything you gave me back to you if you would’ve said a single word to me. I would rather have had a friendship with you than your money. I wished you would’ve got to know me. I wasn’t always this way.
I heard you talk about God to your co-workers as you were leaving the building. I heard you thank Jesus when you got your promotion. I heard you talk about hope and faith to your wife in one of your talks. I would’ve liked to know more about God but you didn’t share him with me.
All this time I thought he was ungrateful. What I have come to realize is how ungrateful I am. I realize how I take my life, my wife, my children, my friends, my health, my job for granted. I didn’t realize how lucky I am. No longer. I now realize how quickly all that can be taken away from me.
I also came to realize that I don’t share God or my beliefs with anyone outside my circle. I am not spreading the good news of my savior like I should.
For that, I will always be grateful for ungrateful Jim. I only wish I would’ve taken the time to get to know him.
Guilty by Newsboys – I am guilty of not speaking of God enough. I want to be guilty for sharing it.
“Step right up, come on in, only a dollar” shouted the carny. He looked right at me and my friends. “Come on in boys, this will change your life” and he winked at me. I don’t know why but my gut was telling me something was wrong. My friends wanted to go in and since I didn’t want to be left out, I went in with them.
It wasn’t much at first. A conveyor belt going the opposite direction. Oooh scary right? We made a tight turn to the right and the floor started shaking. Everyone started to laugh but the feeling inside me was getting worse. It was then the lights went out. We started reaching out, touching each other to make sure we were all still there. We slowly inched forward and hit a wall, promptly piling into each other. Then the lights came on and that was when the fun began.
We were looking at ourselves, all four versions of each of us. We looked at each other like what the crap, a couple of my friends used some other choice words. In one mirror there was me, looking as normal as I am now, if you can call that normal. In the second mirror I was a hideous monster. What the heck? The third mirror I was a baseball player, uniform, glove and all. How could this be? I only was wearing the clothes I came in with. The fourth mirror showed me as an old, decrepit old man, all by myself. It was then we realized there was no exit. We did the only thing we could and started to push on the mirrors. The only one that moved was the second one. We all looked at each other and kind of shrugged and took a step through. But we weren’t all together on the other side.
There I was, the hideous monster. I pulled on my skin and clothes to get them to come off but they were me and I was them. It was then I noticed a small light in the distance. I walked toward it and saw it was a cell phone. It had a note on it. PRESS PLAY. What I saw disgusted me and I wish I didn’t have to tell you about it, but I do. It was 15 second clips of my life. There was me eight years old pushing the other kids down on the playground. There was me twelve years old stealing a cassette from the local music store. There was me sixteen years old with my girlfriend. We were in the backseat and she said she wasn’t ready but I said we had already gone too far so let’s keep going. There was me at nineteen at a college party when a bunch of guys took a passed out girl upstairs and I didn’t stop them. There was me at twenty two when I didn’t take the keys from my friend and he drove home drunk, but he didn’t make it. There was me at home instead of visiting my dad before he passed away. There was me watching a movie instead of calling a friend who was home alone, waiting for me to call. There was me ignoring my wife because of past mistakes. Was I really this monster? Is this how others see me?
Then we were all back in the same room of mirrors. We all looked at each other like what was that? No one was laughing now. We pushed on the mirrors again but only the third one opened this time.
There I was, at Wrigley Field, pitching for the Cubs. The crowd was chanting my name. Oh yeah, this is what I was made for. They all love me. I was on the mound, World Series, game seven, bottom of the ninth, two outs, two on, two strikes. One more strike and I bring a championship to Chicago. The wind up, the pitch…and I heard it. My shoulder popped. Then I heard the crack of the bat as it connected to the ball. Then I heard the silence. Just like that it was all over. The game, my career, my life. I was so angry. I was mad at God. How could He bring me to this moment and then let it all go? One pitch. It was all over. What kind of God would do that to me? I shut everyone out. I drank myself to sleep every night. I didn’t know the women’s names I would wake up to. I didn’t care. I went from 60,000 people screaming my name to the deafening silence of my own thoughts.
There we were again. All six of us in the same room of mirrors. Mark said that wasn’t so bad. “Let’s get this over with,” said Scott. We looked at each other and hesitantly stepped into the fourth mirror.
There I was. A decrepit old man. No one there but me. A lifetime of choices led me to here. A lifetime of bad choices. How did I get here? I was a good guy once. I believed in God, once upon a time. I looked in the mirror and the mirror looked back. Was this really me? Then I was gone. There in my casket, all by myself. Honestly, all by myself. No one came to say goodbye. Not one single person! Was I that unloveable and selfish? Was I really that bad of a person? I guess the truth hurts because I must’ve been for not one single person to show up.
We were all back in the room of mirrors. A couple of my friends said how cool their mirrors were. They hope their lives turn out like that. I didn’t have anything to say. This time the first mirror, the normal mirror, opened and we walked through. A couple turns and a few distorted mirrors later we were at the exit.
“Hey boys, how’d you like it? Did you like what you saw?” said the carny. “The mirrors don’t lie boys. If you didn’t like what you saw, you still have time to do something about it.” That was when he looked at me again and winked and gave me something. I was too terrified to look at it so I stuck it in my pocket and left. He turned around and started shouting , “step right up boys and girls, come on in, only a dollar and it will change your life.”
I forgot about what he gave me until I got home and undressed. It fell out of my pocket. A small bible with a note inside. Read this if you want to change your life. Read this if you didn’t like what you saw in the mirrors. It is your choice.
Monster by Skillet –
All Of Me by Meatloaf –
Ain’t Much Left Of Me by Blackberry Smoke –
These Things I Hate (Revolves Around Me) by Bullet For My Valentine –
I can’t tell you how far or how long I ran. I am willing to bet my last dollar it was farther and longer than I thought was possible.
I stopped to catch my breath and two questions popped into my head. What did I do for him to be here? Why was he following me?
I started to run again. In between my breaths, I heard the roar of rushing water below. It was in that moment I knew I took the wrong path.
I had three choices. Two of them would surely end in death. I could jump off the cliff into the cold rushing water. Death. I could stand there and do nothing and let him catch me. Death.
Since the first two choices would end in death, I had one choice left.
I had to escape.
Come on, come on. THINK!! I looked around, evaluating my options. Looking for another way. Time was running out. I could hear him coming.
I threw a rock over the cliff into the water. Hoping he thought I jumped. Then I looked at my only option left. The thickest thorn bush I had ever seen.
This is going to hurt.
I jumped in.
I tried quieting my breathing. I tried curling up into a small ball. I tried wishing that the moon wasn’t full. But it was.
I heard his footsteps. Getting closer. And closer. How did I get here?
I remember the day it happened. One year ago. One year ago today to be exact. I was in one of my “seasons,” as I like to call them. Nothing was going right. I was sinking into the quicksand I called depression. I was spiraling out of control. Failure was coming and I couldn’t stop it. Shame and guilt knocked on my door and I not only answered, I let them in.
Have you ever done something and one second after you did it you said what did I just do? I am so stupid. Why did I do that? I just let everyone I know down and I know they could never forgive me. I couldn’t even forgive myself so how could they?
I had to keep what I had done a secret. NO MATTER WHAT!! The truth would kill them, therefore killing me. Since I was already dead, there was no need to kill them. So I kept it to myself.
I sank further into my guilt and shame. I withdrew from everyone. Oh, I still had a killer smile and was wittingly charming. I could get by. I faked a lot of happiness. Inside, I cried a lot of tears. I was rotting inside and I knew they could smell it. I knew they knew I was a fake. But they never said anything.
Maybe I was better at hiding it than I thought. Then I started thinking, I am such a good liar. Which led to more guilt and shame. Which led to him.
At first, I didn’t pay much attention. I would see him at the gas station or maybe at the store. You know the feeling you get when you think someone is watching you. I would get that and look up and he would be looking at me. He wouldn’t look away. I got chills down my spine. What a creep, I thought.
Through the first few months, I would seem him every couple of weeks. As the year progressed, I would see him more and more. Recently, as I was falling apart and my lies were catching up to me, as my guilt and shame were eating at me, I was seeing him every day.
EVERY SINGLE DAY!!
ALWAYS LOOKING AT ME.
NEVER LOOKING AWAY.
I finally was getting the courage to approach him and ask him what his deal is. That’s when he took the first step to me. I froze. Then, I ran.
I ran and here I am. In this thorn bush. Scratched and bleeding. Dying inside. Hiding from a man who wouldn’t quit following me.
As smart as I thought I was by throwing the rock into the water, he was smarter. As quiet as I thought I was being, he could still hear me. As dark as I thought my hiding place was, he still found me.
I, for the first time, took a good look at him. I mean, a really good look. I wanted to know who was going to end my days. That’s when I saw the crown of thorns around his head. He didn’t say a word. He just reached his hand down and by the light of the moon, I saw the scars on his. A sudden peace came over me and for some unknown reason, I reached out and took his hand.
The thorns parted as he pulled me up. My bleeding wounds stopped bleeding. It was like a giant boulder was taken off my shoulders.
“I forgive you.” In those three words that he said my heart changed. It was like clean air was poured into my dirty lungs. Tears of guilt were replaced with tears of joy.
I walked back home, with him by my side. I knew it may be a long road to recovery, but I knew I had to tell them. I knew they had to know the truth. I could not keep living with this.
I also knew with him there was no condemnation, no guilt, no shame. I had to believe that they would forgive me also. I had to hope and pray for a better future. No matter what happens, I knew I had to continue to walk with him, not run away from him.
I took a deep breath and walked into the house. I knew we would be okay. I knew that I would be a better man. I knew they would forgive me. I knew we would survive the lies. Even so, I knew this was going to hurt.