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Rise Up Country


Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and many others adorned the walls of the family estate. The widowed, elder man looked on with satisfaction as his only child became an experienced art collector. The son’s trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world.

As winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram. His beloved son was missing in action. The art collector anxiously awaited more news, fearing he would never see his son again. Within days, his fears were confirmed. The young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic.

Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season, a season that he and his son had so looked forward to, would visit his house no longer. On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man. As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home.

As he opened the door, he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hand. He introduced himself to the man by saying, “I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you.” As the two began to talk, the soldier told of how the man’s son had told everyone of his, not to mention his father’s, love of fine art. “I’m an artist,” said the soldier, “and I want to give you this.” As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the son.

Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man’s face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture over the fireplace. A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the old man set about his task.

True to his word, the painting went well above the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars of paintings. And then the man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given. During the days and weeks that followed, the man realized that even though his son was no longer with him, the boy’s life would live on because of those he had touched. He would soon learn that his son had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his caring heart.

As the stories of his son’s gallantry continued to reach him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease the grief. The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces for which museums around the world clamored. He told his neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received.

The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation!

Unmindful of the story of the man’s only son, but in his honor, those paintings would be sold at an auction. According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on Christmas day, the day he had received his greatest gift. The day soon arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled this day; greatness would be achieved as many claim “I have the greatest collection.” The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum’s list. It was the painting of the man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid. The room was silent.

“Who will open the bidding with $100?” he asked. Minutes passed. No one spoke. From the back of the room came, “Who cares about that painting? It’s just a picture of his son. Let’s forget it and go on to the good stuff.”

More voices echoed in agreement. “No, we have to sell this one first,” replied the auctioneer. “Now, who will take the son?” Finally, a friend of the old man spoke, “Will you take ten dollars for the painting? That’s all I have. I knew the boy, so I’d like to have it.”

“I have ten dollars. Will anyone go higher?” called the auctioneer. After more silence, the auctioneer said, “Going once, going twice. Gone.” The gavel fell, cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, “Now we can get on with it and we can bid on these treasures!”

The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, “What do you mean it’s over? We didn’t come here for a picture of some old guy’s son. What about all of these paintings? There are millions of dollars of art here! I demand that you explain what’s going on here!” The auctioneer replied, “It’s very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son…gets it all.”

Puts things into perspective doesn’t it? Just as those art collectors discovered on that Christmas Day, the message is still the same: the love of a Father, a Father whose greatest joy came from His Son, who went away and gave His life rescuing others. And because of that Father’s love, whoever takes the Son, gets it all.

– Unknown

One day, an atheist was walking through the woods, admiring all the beauty that the “accident of evolution” had created.
“What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!” he said to himself.

As he strolled alongside the flowing river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look.
There he saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charging toward him!
The man screamed in horror and ran as fast as he could away from the giant bear…
As the bear’s shadow fell over him, the man tripped and fell to the ground…
Feeling the hot breath of the terrifying bear on his neck, the man rolled over. The bear loomed large over him, raising its fierce paws to strike him dead.
As the bear’s shadow fell upon his face and its paws came down upon his chest, the atheist screamed, “Oh help me, God!”
Time stopped.
The river he loved suddenly stopped flowing…
The trees stopped swaying…
The bear froze.
Then a bright light beamed down upon the man, a voice boomed all around him, “I am God, and even though you don’t believe in me, I am here for all beings on this earth.”
The atheist felt relieved and confessed to God, “I’m in a situation and wonder if you would get me out of it.”
“You deny my existence your whole life, teach others I don’t exist, and even credit creation to a ‘cosmic accident’. Yet still, you ask for my help. Am I to count you as a new believer?”
The atheist looked directly into the light and replied, “It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian?”
“Very well,” said the voice. The light went out. The river resumed running. And the sounds of the forest returned.
Then the bear dropped down from its terrifying stance, clasped its paws tightly together… bowed its head and spoke:
“Thank you, Lord, for this meal which I am about to receive. I am truly grateful. Amen.”

“There comes a point in your life when you realize:

Who matters,

Who never did,

Who won’t anymore,

And who always will.

So, don’t worry about people from your past, there’s a reason why they didn’t make it to your future.”

– Adam L Gordon

A man dies and goes to heaven.

St. Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates and says,

“Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”

“Okay,” the man says, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her and loved her deep in my heart.”

“That’s wonderful,” says St.Peter, “that’s worth two points!”

“Only two points?” the man says. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithes and service.”

“Terrific!” says St.Peter. “That’s certainly worth a point.”

“One point!?!! I started a soup kitchen in my city and also worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”

“Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,” St.Peter says.

“Two points!?!!” Exasperated, the man cries, “At this rate, the only way I’ll get into heaven is by the grace of God.”

‘Bingo! Now you can come in!’ St Peter lets the man inside heaven

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

What is heaven? What is hell? The parable of the Long Spoons explains very well what heaven and hell truly are.

One day a man said to God, “God, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.”

God showed the man two doors. Inside the first one, in the middle of the room, was a large round table with a large pot of vegetable stew. It smelled delicious and made the man’s mouth water, but the people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.

The man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. God said, “You have seen Hell.”

Behind the second door, the room appeared exactly the same. There was the large round table with the large pot of wonderful vegetable stew that made the man’s mouth water. The people had the same long-handled spoons, but they were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The man said, “I don’t understand.”

God smiled. It is simple, he said, Love only requires one skill. These people learned early on to share and feed one another. While the greedy only think of themselves…

Sometimes, thinking solely of our personal gratification, we tend to forget our interdependence with everyone and everything around us, so much so that we stop caring about them.

But, as this parable makes it clear, by doing so not only don’t we help others overcome their suffering, but we’re also unconsciously harming ourselves, since we are all connected on a very deep level.

Story credit: It’s not known for sure who wrote it, but it’s often attributed to Rabbi Haim of Romshishok.

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”

The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”

So the rowboat went on.

Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”

To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the motorboat went on.

Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”

To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the helicopter reluctantly flew away. Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”

To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”
A pastor, known for his lengthy sermons, noticed a man get up and leave during the middle of his message. The man returned just before the conclusion of the service. Afterwards the pastor asked the man where he had gone.

“I went to get a haircut,” was the reply.

“But,” said the pastor, “why didn’t you do that before the service?”

“Because,” the gentleman said, “I didn’t need one then.”
Once, when one of my daughters was eleven years old, she complained about a pain in her knee. Seeing nothing wrong with her knee, I suggested that it was probably growing pains. My daughter didn’t like the explanation. “Why can’t we grow without pain?” she demanded.

Unfortunately, in real life, growth is often associated with pain. As the famous saying goes, “No pain — no gain.” While we may not have control over the “pain” part, especially when it’s caused by others, we do most definitely have control over the “gain” part.

Most of our learning and growth in life comes not from the good times but rather from the difficult times. During the good period we are happy and therefore do not want anything to change. It is during the bad times, when we are unhappy with the status quo, that we learn how to change things — how to make our world better than it is.

When life throws challenges at us, we have a choice. We can feel sorry for ourselves and cry and complain, “Why me?” Or we could stop and say to ourselves: “What can I do, given the new circumstances that have arisen?”

I once asked an elderly wise person whom I used to approach for advice, “Where do you get such good judgement from?” He answered, “Good judgment comes from bad experience.” He related to me the following story, which had a profound effect on me.

One day, a donkey fell into a pit. The animal cried and whined for hours while his owner tried to figure out what to do. Finally, the farmer decided that since the animal was old, and the pit needed to be covered up anyway, he’d just bury the old donkey right there. He got a shovel and started filling in the pit. The donkey kept up its wailing, but then fell silent. After an hour of furious shoveling, the farmer paused to rest. To his amazement, he saw his old donkey jump out of the pit and trot away!

At first, when the donkey realized what was happening, he cried even more piteously. But then the wise animal hit on a plan. As each spadeful of dirt hit his back, the donkey would shake it off and take a step up on the growing mound of earth. Eventually, the mound grew high enough for him to jump out of the pit.

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the pit well is to shake it off and take a step up. We can get out of the deepest pits by not stopping and never giving up. Just shake it off and take a step up.

Try it, it works!

By Yaakov Lieder
A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room.

“Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.”

Very quietly, the doctor said, “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?”

The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, his golden retriever sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear.

“I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing. I know my Master is there and that is enough.”
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”

A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us.
One day a man was asked to paint a boat by an owner of boat. He brought with him paint and brushes and began to paint the boat a bright red, as the owner asked him.

While painting, he realized there was a hole in the hull and decided to repair it.

When finished painting, he received his money and left.

The next day, the owner of the boat came to the painter and presented him with a nice check, much higher than the payment for painting.

The painter was surprised: – You’ve already paid me for painting the boat! he said.But this is not for the paint job. It’s for having repaired the hole in the boat. Ah! But it was such a small service … certainly it’s not worth paying me such a high amount for something so insignificant!

My dear friend, you do not understand. Let me tell you what happened. When I asked you to paint the boat, I forgot to mention about the hole. When the boat dried, my kids took the boat and went on a fishing trip. They did not know that there was a hole. I was not at home at that time. When I returned, and noticed they had taken the boat, I was desperate because I remembered that the boat had a hole. Imagine my relief and joy when I saw them returning from fishing.

Then, I examined the boat and found that you had repaired the hole! You see, now, what you did?

You saved the life of my children! I do not have enough money to pay your “small” good deed.

Moral!! So, no matter who, when or how. Just continue to help, sustain, wipe tears, listen attentively and carefully repair all the “leaks” you find, because you never know when one is in need of us or when God holds a pleasant surprise for us to be helpful and important to someone.
A group of alumni, highly established in their own careers, got together to visit their old University professor. Conversation turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups. Porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking and some expensive, some even exquisite. He then told them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in their hand, the professor said, “Did you notice,  all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to have the best for yourself, that is the source of your problem and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases the more expensive the cup, it mostly hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup but you consciously went for the best cups, and then you began eyeing each others’ cups.”

Now consider this. Life is the coffee. The job, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. God brews the coffee not the cups. So enjoy your coffee. The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have… Live simply, love generously, speak kindly and leave the rest to God. And let others enjoy life too.

What a profound statement on life, explained so simply. The professor explained to his students the real meaning of life. Do try this experiment with your friends and relatives at home, the result would always be same. People always would try to grab the best and the most expensive cup little realising that it really adds no taste to the coffee. If the coffee is bad, the most expensive cup is worthless and if it is good it would taste excellent even in a paper cup too.

Have you noticed that relatives who give expensive gifts are always welcomed with open arms rather than relatives who give meaningful gifts like a lovely card with a lovely message. Money speaks!

A visit to any temple is noteworthy to prove  the above point. That coffee is important and not the cups.  Vip and vvips come in hordes, do not want to stand in queue, get pampered by the priests who are ready to do anything as long as they get their dakshine. The vvips forget the real purpose of coming to temple is to pray to God and not show off their influence or money power. But that is what they do. Stand in front of the deity with garlands and shawl around their own necks!

Life (which itself is a gift of  God) is meant to be enjoyed but we become so engrossed in meaningless and mundane things that we forget to enjoy life. If one just sits down and makes a list of things one does everyday, the result would be shocking. The same “routine” is done day in and day out for days, weeks,  months and sometimes years too.  Ninety percent of our lives we live by following a routine and only about ten percent is done differently which gives us the pleasure and joy. Like going on a holiday with family or hiking etc. Since one has to live and for that one has to earn too, it is not possible to get away from the routine but the man who is able to change the equation and make things differently for at least twenty percent of his life is more happy and joyful.

Look at the world with positiveness and you will be surprised how things will change for better. Learn to enjoy the coffee and not to bother about the type of cups.

Jesus and Satan were having an on-going argument about who was better on the computer. They had been going at it for days, and frankly God was tired of hearing all the bickering. Finally fed up, God said,
— THAT’S IT! I have had enough. I am going to set up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge who does the better job.

They moused.

They faxed.

They e-mailed.

They e-mailed with attachments.

They downloaded.

They did spreadsheets.

They wrote reports.

They created labels and cards.

They created charts and graphs.

They did some genealogy reports.

They did every job known to man.

Jesus worked with heavenly efficiency and Satan was faster than hell.
Then, ten minutes before their time was up, lightning suddenly flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, rain poured, and, of course, the power went off.

Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld. Jesus just sighed.


Finally the electricity came back on, and each of them restarted their computers. Satan started searching frantically, screaming:
— It’s gone! It’s all GONE! I lost everything when the power went out!
Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours of work.


Satan observed this and became irate.
— Wait! — he screamed. — That’s not fair! He cheated! How come he has all his work and I don’t have any?
God just shrugged and said:
— Jesus saves.

On the first day, God created the dog and said: “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years.” The dog said: “That’s a long time to be barking. How about only ten years, and I’ll give you back the other ten?” So, God agreed.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said: “Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I’ll give you a twenty-year life span.”

The monkey said: “Monkey tricks for twenty years? That’s a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?” And God agreed.

On the third day, God created the cow and said: “You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves, and give milk to support the family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.”

The cow said: “That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty, and I’ll give back the other forty?” And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created man and said: “Eat, sleep, play, marry, and enjoy your life. For this, I’ll give you twenty years.”

But man said: “Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?” “Okay,” said God. “You asked for it.”

So that is why the first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play, and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren, and for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.
John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”

He was a natural motivator.

If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, “I don’t get it!”

“You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”

He replied, “Each morning, I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood, or you can choose to be in a bad mood.”

“I choose to be in a good mood.”

“Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim, or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.”

“Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining, or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”

“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.

“Yes, it is,” he said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood.”

“You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live your life.”

I reflected on what he said. Soon thereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some sixty feet from a communications tower.

After eighteen hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident.

When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?”

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

“The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be-born daughter,” he replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live.”

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.

He continued, “…the paramedics were great.”

“They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER, and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, “he’s a dead man.” I knew I needed to take action.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said John. “She asked if I was allergic to anything. Yes, I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, gravity.”

Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day, we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude, after all, is everything.

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34.

After all, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

There is the most important choice you will ever make in this world…to believe Jesus Christ is your savior and Lord…choose wisely.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20
How do you act when the pressure’s on, when the chance for victory is almost gone, when fortune’s star has refused to shine, when the ball is on your five-yard line?

How do you act when the going’s rough? Does your spirit lag when the breaks are tough? Or, is there a flame in you that glows brighter as the battle grows fiercer?

How hard, how long will you fight the foe? That’s what the world would like to know!

Cowards can fight when they’re out ahead. The uphill grind shows a thoroughbred! You wish for success? Then tell me, son, “How do you act when the pressure’s on?”

From “The Winners Manual” by Jim Tressell, Head Football Coach at Ohio State University
So, there’s this huge flood one day, and an entire town looks like it’s going to be swallowed up by the waters. And the police and rescue agencies are running all over the place trying to get people to safety. So, they send the rescue boat over to this house where a guy’s sitting on the roof with the water lapping around his ankles, and they say, “Come on, quickly, there isn’t much time.” To which he says, “Nah, it’s okay, God will provide.”

So about an hour later they’re zooming past in the boat again, and they notice the guy’s still there, only the water’s up to his waist, almost at the top of the roof. “Quick,” they say. “Get in the boat, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.” “Nah, don’t worry. God will provide.”

An hour after that, a rescue helicopter flies over the area and notices the guy, who must be standing on the peak of the roof now, with only his head and shoulders out of the water. “GRAB THE ROPE!” they cry. “IT’S YOUR ONLY HOPE!” “Don’t worry,” he replies calmly. “God will provide.”

So, he gets drowned, of course. And he goes to heaven and is a little ticked off with God for drowning him like that and expresses his concern saying, “I had faith, I believed in you, and still you didn’t help me.”

“HELP YOU?!” God replies. “What MORE did you want? I sent you two boats and a helicopter!”
Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman: “And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?” the reporter asked. She simply replied, “No peer pressure.”

Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to the very elderly widow and asked, “How old was your husband?” “98,” she replied. “Two years older than me.” “So, you’re 96,” the undertaker commented. She responded, “Hardly worth going home, is it?”

I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor’s permission to join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over! It’s scary when you start making the same noises as your coffeemaker.

Remember: You don’t stop laughing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop laughing.
Today, we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, “Common Sense,” who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were lost in bureaucratic red tape long ago. He will be remembered for having cultivated such valuable lessons: Knowing when to come in out of the rain; Why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn’t always fair; and Maybe it was my fault.

“Common Sense” lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student only worsened his condition.

“Common Sense” lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Panadol, sun lotion, or a band-aid to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. 

“Common Sense” lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. 

“Common Sense” took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home, and the burglar could sue you for assault.

“Common Sense” finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. 

“Common Sense” was preceded in death by his parents, “Truth” and “Trust,” his wife, “Discretion,” his daughter, “Responsibility,” and his son, “Reason.” He is survived by his three stepbrothers, “I Know My Rights,” “Someone Else Is To Blame,” and “I’m A Victim.” Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Written by Lori Borgman 
Did you hear about the Oklahoma teacher who was helping one of her kindergarten students put on his cowboy boots? He asked for help, and she could see why? Even with her pulling and him pushing, the little boy’s cowboy boots still didn’t want to go on. By the time they got the second boot on, she had worked up a sweat. She almost cried when the little boy said, “Teacher, they’re on the wrong feet.” She looked, and sure enough, they were.

It wasn’t any easier pulling the kid’s cowboy boots off than it was putting them on. She managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the cowboy boots back on, this time on the correct feet. He then announced, “These aren’t my cowboy boots. She bit her tongue rather than get right in his face and scream, “Why didn’t you say so?” like she wanted to. 

Once again, she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting cowboy boots off his little feet. No sooner had they gotten the kid’s cowboy boots off when he said, “They’re my kid brother’s cowboy boots. My Mom made me wear ’em.” Now, she didn’t know if she should laugh or cry. But, she mustered up what grace and courage she had left to wrestle the cowboy boots on his feet again. Helping him into his coat, she asked, “Now, where are your mittens?” He said, “I stuffed ’em in the toes of my cowboy boots.”
I walked through a county courthouse square, on a park bench, an old man was sitting there. I said, “Your old courthouse is kinda run down.” He said, “Naw, it’ll do for our little town.” I said, “Your old flagpole has leaned a little bit, and that’s a Ragged Old Flag you got hanging on it.”

He said, “Have a seat.” And I sat down. “Is this the first time you’ve been to our little town?” I said, “I think it is.” He said, “I don’t like to brag, but we’re kinda proud of that Ragged Old Flag.”

“You see, we got a little hole in that flag there when Washington took it across Delaware. And it got powder-burned the night Francis Scott Key sat watching it writing “Say Can You See.” And it got a bad rip in New Orleans with Packingham and Jackson tuggin’ at its seams.”

“And it almost fell at the Alamo beside the Texas flag, but she waved on through. She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville, and she got cut again at Shiloh Hill. There was Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, and Bragg, and the south wind blew hard on that Ragged Old Flag.”

“On Flanders Field in World War I, she got a big hole from a Bertha gun. She turned blood red in World War II. She hung limp and low a time or two. She was in Korea and Vietnam. She went where her Uncle Sam sent her.”

“She waved from our ships upon the briny foam, and now they’ve about quit waving her back here at home. In her own good land here, she’s been abused. She’s been burned, dishonored, denied, and refused.”

“And the government for which she stands is scandalized throughout the land. And she’s getting threadbare, and she’s wearing thin, but she’s in good shape for the shape she’s in. ‘Cause she’s been through the fire before, and I believe she can take a whole lot more.”

“So, we raise her up every morning; we take her down every night. We don’t let her touch the ground, and we fold her upright. On second thought, I do like to brag. ‘Cause I’m mighty proud.”
The Buzzard. If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird will be an absolute prisoner despite its ability to fly. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

The Bat. The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkably nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

The Bumblebee. A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top but persists in finding some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists until it completely destroys itself.

People. In many ways, there are lots of people like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. They struggle with all their problems and frustrations, never realizing that all they have to do is look up.
The Buzzard. If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at

One day a woman’s husband died, and on that clear, cold morning, in the warmth of their bedroom, the wife was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t anymore. No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat, no more “just one minute.” Sometimes, what we care about the most gets all used up and goes away, never to return before we can say goodbye, say “I love you.”

So, while we have it, it’s best we love it, care for it, fix it when it’s broken, and heal it when it’s sick. This is true for marriage…and old cars…and children with bad report cards…and dogs with bad hips…and aging parents and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. 

Some things we keep like a best friend who moved away or a classmate we grew up with. There are just some things that make us happy, no matter what. Life is important, like people we know who are special. And so, we keep them close! Live today to the fullest because tomorrow is not promised. I received this from someone who thought I was a “keeper!”

the top, the bird will be an absolute prisoner despite its ability to fly. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

The Bat. The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkably nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

The Bumblebee. A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top but persists in finding some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists until it completely destroys itself.

People. In many ways, there are lots of people like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. They struggle with all their problems and frustrations, never realizing that all they have to do is look up.
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank and your wallet and a spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear, harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world.

If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare, even in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them, or even touch them on the shoulder, you are blessed because you can offer a healing touch.

Count your blessings and make this a good day.

Dan Asmussen recently shared some powerful words of wisdom in a post on Facebook, which is now going viral. In the anecdote, a father is trying to educate his son what it means to be poor  The dad thinks his son shares his perspective on what life is all about. Instead, he is the one that takes away the lesson!

The anecdote reads:

One day a very wealthy father took his son on a trip to the country for the sole purpose of showing his son how it was to be poor. They spent a few days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

After their return from the trip, the father asked his son how he liked the trip. “It was great, Dad,” the son replied. “Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked. “Oh Yeah,” said the son.

“So what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

“We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.”

“We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.” The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “It showed me just how poor we really are.”

Too many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don’t have. What is one person’s worthless object is another’s prize possession. It is all based on one’s perspective.

Sometimes it takes the perspective of a child to remind us what’s important.

A man walked to the top of a hill to talk to God.

The man asked, “God, what’s a million years to you?”

And God said “A minute.”

Then the man asked:

“Well, what’s a million dollars to you?”

and God said: “A penny”

Then the man asked:

“God…..can I have a penny?”

And God said:

“Sure…..In a minute.”

© 2004,  J Taylor Ludwig

I was shocked, confused, bewildered as I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all, nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven who made me sputter and gasp–
The thieves, the liars, the sinners, the alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine, looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal? I would love to hear your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here? God must’ve made a mistake.

‘And why’s everyone so quiet, so somber – give me a clue.’
‘Child,’ He said, ‘they’re all in shock. They never thought they’d be seeing you!’

Hilarious, right?! Heaven’s Surprise  puts into perspective how quickly we often judge others. I’ve been guilty of it myself. But have you noticed, I am not God? I don’t know who’s going to heaven and who isn’t, because I can’t see someone’s heart. All I can see is their lifestyle. Life is a journey and we are all in process. As long as we keep moving forward, we will make it to our destination. Plus, I’ve got enough areas in my own life that I need to work on. I don’t have time to try to police the lifestyles of others. Let’s read that again . . .

This isn’t a free for all now. I do believe if someone professes to be a Christian, he/she should walk worthy of his/her calling, carrying themselves like someone who’s life has been changed. We all need to possess more of the fruit of the Spirit (patience, love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control). But they’re called the fruit of the Spirit for a reason. We need the Holy Spirit’s power to change. We aren’t good on our own.

Every once in a while, a ewe will give birth to a lamb and reject it. There are many reasons she may do this. If the lamb is returned to the ewe, the mother may even kick the poor animal away. Once a ewe rejects one of her lambs, she will never change her mind.

These little lambs will hang their heads so low that it looks like something is wrong with its neck. Their spirit is broken.

These lambs are called “bummer lambs.” Unless the shepherd intervenes, that lamb will die, rejected and alone. So, do you know what the shepherd does?

He takes that rejected little one into his home, hand-feeds it and keep it warm by the fire. He will wrap it up with blankets and hold it to his chest so the bummer can hear his heartbeat. Once the lamb is strong enough, the shepherd will place it back in the field with the rest of the flock.

But that sheep never forgets how the shepherd cared for him when his mother rejected him. When the shepherd calls for the flock, guess who runs to him first?

That is right, the bummer sheep. He knows his voice intimately.

It is not that the bummer lamb is loved more, it just knows intimately the one who loves it.

It’s not that it is loved more, it just believes it because it has experienced that love one on one.

So many of us are bummer lambs, rejected and broken. But He is the good Shepherd. He cares for our every need and holds us close to His heart so we can hear His heartbeat.

We may be broken but we are deeply loved by the Shepherd.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” ~ Psalm 23

“There comes a point in your life when you realize:
Who matters,
Who never did,
Who won’t anymore,
And who always will.
So, don’t worry about people from your past, there’s a reason why they didn’t make it to your future.”

― Adam L Gordon

One of the most intriguing stories to emerge during World War II occurred just shy of a year after the Pearl Harbor attack and involved an American icon. The incident captured the attention of the free world and has been described as the first American epic of the war.

Captain Edward Vernon Rickenbacker had gained fame as a daring racecar driver before becoming the United States’ top-scoring fighter ace of World War I and a Medal of Honor recipient. After the war he delved first into the automobile industry and then wound his way back to aviation, eventually becoming president of Eastern Air Lines. Rickenbacker was a strong voice for aviation, on several occasions testifying before congressional committees about actions he felt would be detrimental to both military and civilian aviation.

In late 1942 Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Army Air Forces chief of staff General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold asked the 52-year-old airline executive to travel to the Pacific theater as a $1-a-day nonmilitary observer. His mission was to evaluate and report on the status of U.S. Army Air Forces combat units stationed there. His itinerary included visits to Australia, New Guinea and Guadalcanal.

Rickenbacker was accompanied on the mission by his aide, Colonel Hans Adamson. On October 20, 1942, they climbed aboard a well-worn Boeing B-17 in Hawaii that had been converted into a transport plane. The B-17 was crewed by Captain William Cherry Jr. of Abilene, Texas, pilot; Lieutenant James Whittaker of Burlingame, Calif., co-pilot; Lieutenant John De Angelis of Nesquehoning, Pa., navigator; Private John Bartek of Freehold, N.J., engineer; and Sergeant James Reynolds of Fort Jones, Calif., radio operator. Also along was Staff Sgt. Alexander Kaczmarczyk from Torrington, Conn., an enlisted airman who was returning to his outfit in Australia after recovering from a lengthy illness. The plane was also loaded with a large number of bags of high-priority mail and secret documents.

Thanks to a broken hydraulic line, the takeoff on the 20th had to be aborted. All onboard plus luggage, mail bags and navigation equipment were transferred to another B-17. They finally took off at 1:30 a.m. on October 21, bound for island ‘X’ (so designated for security reasons; actually Canton Island), about 1,800 miles to the southwest.

An hour before the estimated arrival time, Captain Cherry throttled back, slowly descended to about 1,000 feet and began looking for Canton Island. It never came into view. Thinking they had overshot their mark, Cherry and De Angelis made a 180-degree correction and began looking for their destination from the opposite direction. Again they saw nothing but ocean.

Reynolds kept in constant contact with personnel at Canton. He requested a bearing, but the island did not have the equipment to provide one. He next contacted another island, known as “Y,” for assistance and was told to circle at 5,000 feet for 30 minutes and to keep sending continuous radio signals. In the end, however, all Y could provide was a compass course reading, which was worthless since that did not tell the crew whether they were flying toward or away from their destination. Without a bearing the pilot did not know in which direction to fly.

There was no question about it now—they were lost. De Angelis offered one possible explanation: His octant had been aboard the plane during the aborted takeoff in Hawaii, and it might have been jarred enough to throw his observations off. Even a few degrees could have caused them to fly many miles to the right or left of their destination. The crew asked Canton to fire off anti-aircraft shells, set to explode above the clouds at 7,000 feet, and also to send out search planes in every direction. Nothing worked. Their only hope was to spot a ship, but that also proved fruitless.

At 1:30 p.m. the pilot told Rickenbacker they had only one hour of fuel remaining. Rickenbacker wrote out a note and gave it to the radio operator to send. It was the last message anyone received from the B-17. Reynolds continued sending out SOS signals while Cherry climbed to 5,000 feet for a better view and shut down two engines to conserve fuel. As the gas gauge neared zero, Cherry began preparing to ditch. Meanwhile, all hands were busy tossing out everything not considered essential to survival, including mail, a toolbox, cots, blankets and luggage, as well as Rickenbacker’s briefcase containing classified material. They filled thermos bottles with water, gathered emergency rations and other items and arranged them near the rear hatch to make it easier to get at them after ditching. Mattresses were propped against the bulkhead to cushion the men from the expected jolt, and everyone donned Mae West life jackets.

There were three self-inflating rubber rafts available, two with a listed capacity of five men that Bartek was set to expel by pulling cockpit levers, plus a two-man raft rolled up in the radio compartment. Cherry advised that, since the plane weighed 25 tons, they should not expect to have more than 30 to 60 seconds to exit the craft after splashdown. Rickenbacker stuffed a map, some official papers and his passport into his coat pockets. He also grabbed several handkerchiefs and a 60-foot line; both later proved to be godsends.

As Cherry started his long glide downward, the men braced themselves for the crash. Bartek was standing behind the pilot, holding onto the levers to release the two big rafts. Rickenbacker was strapped to his seat on the right-hand side, holding a pillow to protect his face. Adamson was sitting on the deck, bracing his back against a mattress. Reynolds remained at his radio, sending a constant series of SOS signals — hoping someone somewhere might establish a fix on them. About the time someone yelled ‘Only 50 feet left!’ one engine sputtered and died. Rickenbacker glanced out a window and could see that the ocean was rough, with high swells. In a moment the big plane did a soft but loud belly-flop in the middle of a trough and skipped another 50 feet before coming to a stop against the waning slope of a swell. As crash landings at sea go, this one was about as good as they got. Had Cherry misjudged the waves by only a few seconds, the plane and its passengers might have sunk immediately.

Green water immediately began gushing through smashed windows, making it impossible to salvage much of the survival equipment. Reynolds suffered from cuts on his hands and face, and his head had struck the radio panel, resulting in more bleeding. Adamson suffered a badly sprained back, but most of the injuries were manageable.

When the rafts were inflated and free, the pilots exited through the forward hatch and lent a hand to the passengers. Rickenbacker’s escape hatch was above a wing, so he helped the others climb out once he was outside the plane. The swells were well over six feet high, making the rafts extremely difficult to handle.

The 200-pound Adamson was helped into one of the big rafts to join Bartek, but when Rickenbacker squeezed his large frame into the same raft there was hardly room to move. It was like trying to shoehorn a size 10 foot into a size 9 brogan. Cherry, Whittaker and Reynolds crawled into the other big raft, but the small one was upside down, and Kaczmarczyk and De Angelis were having difficulty getting aboard. Meanwhile, Rickenbacker’s craft began floating aimlessly, and before he could free the raft’s two small oars it was tossed against the plane’s tail section and almost capsized.

The B-17 was still partially afloat, although by then it had begun settling deeper into the water. In all the confusion and yelling between the rafts, the men began looking for the water thermoses that had been so carefully stacked together prior to the crash. They were gone. They then discovered that the only food they had managed to salvage were four oranges Cherry had stuffed into his jacket pocket.

Rickenbacker’s 60 feet of line probably had more to do with their salvation than anything else. The crewmen tied the rafts 20 feet apart, which allowed them closer contact when problems arose, as well as the camaraderie so important in dire situations. Had the three rafts been allowed to float aimlessly around in the Pacific, it is doubtful that any of the men would have survived.

The men began to take stock of their clothing. Rickenbacker and Adamson were the only two fully dressed. Adamson had his cap and uniform, and Rickenbacker was in a business suit with shirt and tie and his felt hat. Most of the others had shed practically everything, including their shoes, expecting to have to swim after the crash. The pilots had held onto their leather jackets, but Bartek was wearing only a one-piece jumper.

A quick inventory of possessions showed they had a first-aid kit, a Very pistol with 18 flares, two hand pumps for bailing water and pumping air into the rafts, two sheath knives, a pair of pliers, a small compass, two collapsible bailing buckets, some patching gear for each raft, pencils and Rickenbacker’s map. Reynolds had grabbed two fishing lines, but there was no bait. The pilots had also kept their pistols.

The men were exhausted, and several were also violently seasick. Adamson’s back injury was very painful, while the others suffered from a variety of cuts and bruises. Sergeant Kaczmarczyk, who had been out of the hospital only a couple of weeks, was in serious trouble. He had swallowed a lot of seawater and needed more help than the others could provide. As the sun set, the temperature plunged. A three-quarter moon, although beautiful to look at, signaled the start of a long and lonely night. The men held an organizational meeting and set a series of two-hour watches, to keep alert for any serious problems and to be aware of any approaching ship or plane. It turned out there was little need for such sentinels — few if any of the men actually slept that night. Although the winds had subsided by midnight, waves continued to slosh icy-cold water into the boats, and the tired men spent most of the night bailing. Sharks followed the boats constantly.

On the second day, the men slowly recovered from the chill of night until midmorning, when the hot sun began its torture. The men decided to eat one of Cherry’s oranges. Voted the ‘orange custodian,’ Rickenbacker cut and doled them out. Each man’s eighth of an orange was the only food he would have for two days. Some ate peel and all, but Cherry and Rickenbacker saved their peels for fish bait.

The next six or seven days proved excruciating, as a glassy calm brought intolerable heat that blistered every inch of exposed flesh from the tops of their heads to the soles of their feet. Saltwater soaked into skin that cracked open and then dried, only to be soaked again. When the men developed runny sores on their mouths, they folded Rickenbacker’s handkerchiefs into triangles and placed them over nose and mouth “bandit fashion.”

During daytime, the men looked forward to the coolness of the nights, and at night they craved the heat of the days. Given a choice of the two, most preferred the days because they could see their companions and seagulls and watch the movement of waves. The nights were fearful, filled with frequent moans, cries and prayers.

Unable to stretch out at night, Rickenbacker later remarked that if he ever met the man who proclaimed those rafts held two and five men apiece he would demand that he prove his theory on a lengthy voyage under similar circumstances. In his five-man raft, Rickenbacker’s 185-pound frame, Adamson’s 200 pounds and Bartek were wedged into a usable area measuring 9 feet by 5 feet. The two-man raft had an inside measurement the size of a small, shallow bathtub.

As Rickenbacker put it: ‘Whenever you turned or twisted, you forced the others to turn or twist. It took days to learn how to make the most of the space, at an incalculable price in misery. A foot or hand or shoulder, moved in sleep or restlessness, was bound to take the raw flesh of a companion. With the flesh, tempers turned raw and many things said in the night had best be forgotten.’

The second orange was divided and distributed on the fourth morning, the second time the men had eaten in 72 hours. The sharks and hundreds of small fish swimming around the rafts ignored the bare hooks as well as those baited with orange rinds. Whittaker fashioned a spear out of one of the oars, but one attempt at impaling dinner did more damage to the spear than to the shark, so that project was abandoned.

At first, Cherry and Adamson sat all day with loaded revolvers, hoping to spot a seagull, but none came close enough for a shot. After a few days, however, the saltwater had rusted the pistols so badly that the men tossed them overboard.

The last two oranges by then had begun to deteriorate because of the saltwater, so the men had the third one on the fifth day and the last one a day later. Soon after the last of the fruit was gone, the men’s mood became deeply somber. At that point it seemed they would need a miracle to save them. They held prayer meetings and sang hymns to keep their spirits up. On the eighth day, events took a dramatic turn. After the afternoon prayer service, Rickenbacker was lying on his back with his hat pulled down over his face when something landed on it—a seagull. Rickenbacker slowly reached up, clamped his fingers around the gull’s legs and held on tight, then wrung its neck and stripped its feathers. He carved it up, divided the meat into equal shares and kept the intestines for bait. It did not matter to the men that the meat was raw and tough and tasted fishy. They ate all of it, including the bones.

When Cherry used the bait on a hook, a small mackerel grabbed on almost immediately. Rickenbacker then hooked a small sea bass. They ate one of the fish that afternoon and the other the next day. That cool, wet meat helped abate the men’s water craving. Spirits soared, and they began to believe they might manage to survive indefinitely with the abundance of fish, which had suddenly become easy prey.

Late that same afternoon the sky turned cloudy, the wind took on a different feel, and for the first time the prospects for rain looked promising. The men tried to remain awake after dark so they would be ready. It became so dark they could hardly keep track of the rafts. About 3 a.m. raindrops fell for a few minutes, and they spotted a squall not far away. They paddled toward it, praying they could get in its path. There was already a plan in place for such an occasion: They would catch rain on handkerchiefs, shirts and socks spread out over the rafts — Adamson even removed his shorts. The squall turned into a driving rainstorm, and all hands did what they could to collect water. Rickenbacker was designated his raft’s wringer; as the clothing became soaked, he twisted the water into a bucket.

After the storm subsided, the men agreed to ration the water sparingly: a half-jigger per day per man. It was the sweetest water they had ever tasted. The rain had also drenched their bodies and sores, cleansing much of the salt brine that had collected. However, Kaczmarczyk’s condition continued to deteriorate. Adamson, too, was suffering more and more, and Reynolds began to fade.

The winds suddenly grew much stronger, tossing the rafts around like so many corks and causing them to bump into each other, frequently drenching the men with the cold water. Rickenbacker asked Bartek to change boats with Kaczmarczyk so that Rickenbacker could hold the sergeant tight to help keep him warm. It seemed to help; Kaczmarczyk stopped shivering and began to sleep.

A couple of days later, Kaczmarczyk asked to rejoin De Angelis. Several men assisted in the transfer, realizing that the end was near for the young man. During the early morning hours of the 13th day he heaved a long sigh — his last breath. Upon Rickenbacker’s insistence, the group waited until daylight before making a final decision, to be absolutely certain he was gone. They removed Kaczmarczyk’s wallet and identification tag and then rolled his body over the side. It disappeared after a few minutes.

When all the drinking water was gone, their thirst became more and more intense. The men even experimented with saving their urine, hoping the heat and air would somehow distill it enough so that they could drink it. That did not work. It had been three days by then since they had finished off the fish. Sharks were always present in large numbers, swimming so close that they were continually bumping into the boats. Cherry caught a baby shark, stabbed it, cut it into small pieces and passed it around to the men. But the meat turned out to be tough and too smelly to eat. They tried curing it in the sun and everything else they could think of, but nothing worked. Even starving men had limits on what they would eat. The seawater, meanwhile, continued to take its toll. All the men suffered from salt sores that began with a rash affecting their legs, thighs and bottoms. Watches stopped working, the compass needle froze. Rickenbacker’s secret orders from Stimson faded out, and his map stuck together at the folds. Most of the items were of little use, however, because no one knew where they were, and time seemed irrelevant.

Rickenbacker had with him three St. Christopher medals and a crucifix that he had received from the young daughter of a friend before he left for Europe in World War I. He was not a Catholic and had never associated the items with good fortune. Nevertheless, he could not entirely dismiss the possibility that his fate was somehow involved with them. Another prized possession was a watch given him by the city of Detroit after World War I.

Rickenbacker’s concern for Adamson grew deeper by the day. His strength was ebbing away, his clothing was rotting and his eyes were bloodshot and swollen. One night Rickenbacker awoke and realized Adamson had somehow fallen overboard and was struggling a few feet away. Cherry and Whittaker helped Rickenbacker pull Adamson back into the raft.

The next morning Rickenbacker and Adamson reminisced at length about their association, which spanned several decades. After that session, however, the colonel seldom talked to anyone. The mood on the rafts changed drastically in the days that followed. The men made unusual demands, cursed each other and became wrathful because their prayers were not being answered. Even so, they drew the rafts together as usual each evening for prayer and the reading of scripture from Bartek’s fading Bible.

Rickenbacker tried everything to keep the men going. When sympathy proved ineffective, he would lash out with criticism — anything to prod them not to lose faith. One of the men called him the meanest and most cantankerous SOB he had ever known. Several of the men, Rickenbacker later learned, had sworn an oath that they would continue living, hoping for the pleasure of burying him at sea. Rickenbacker believed that all would be forgiven if, or when, they reached land. He never gave up hope of rescue, holding fast to his opinion that they were hundreds of miles north and west of convoy and air-ferry routes. The men made numerous attempts to row to the southeast, but prevailing tides and winds were against them.

While steadfast in his belief that the best chance for survival was to keep the rafts together, Rickenbacker finally agreed that it was time to try something different. The raft carrying the three strongest men would attempt to override the prevailing current and head to the southeast, hoping to be sighted by a transport plane or ship. Cherry, Whittaker and De Angelis volunteered and set out. Early the following morning Reynolds helped Rickenbacker stand up to look around, and they spotted the raft a short distance away. On their return, Cherry reported that the current and breeze were simply too much to overcome.

Although their latest gamble was a failure, intermittent squalls the next few days brought more drinking water. Rickenbacker came up with the idea to empty the carbon dioxide stored in his Mae West life jacket and replace it with water. Taking a mouthful, he forced it through a narrow tube into the jacket compartment. Although it took quite a while, he managed to store a quart of water.

The lack of food continued to be a problem. Fortune smiled again during one very dark night when a pack of sharks chased a school of mackerel through the three-raft convoy. Two of the fleeing fish landed in the rafts, were captured and promptly eaten. It was the first food in nearly a week.

Late in the afternoon of the 17th day, Cherry stood up and cocked an ear. Suddenly all the men saw what Cherry had heard: a monoplane aircraft with pontoons about five miles away flying low and fast in and out of squalls. Several of the men stood up, waved their arms and yelled even though they were too far away to be heard. Although it was clear they had not been spotted, the airplane was a great stimulus, the only sign of human life they had seen in more than two weeks. It meant either that land was in the vicinity or there was a ship nearby capable of launching an airplane. Most of the men were too excited to sleep that night, so they talked until they were exhausted.

The next afternoon they spotted two airplanes flying together several miles away. The men waved their shirts (the flares had been expended), but to no avail. They saw four more planes on the morning of the 19th day — two to the north and two to the south at about 4,000 feet. Once again attempts to signal them proved fruitless. No planes were sighted the next day, but a fair amount of food appeared when hundreds of small sardinelike fish swam by. The men captured a couple dozen of them, which meant they could enjoy sizable portions of both food and water.

Late in the afternoon of day 20, Cherry announced he wanted to man the small raft and try to find land. After much arguing back and forth among the men, Rickenbacker finally agreed to let him try, even though he felt it would be hopeless, believing that one raft would be more difficult to see than three. Since the planes had come from different directions, Cherry had no idea which way to head. De Angelis transferred to the lead raft, and Cherry drifted away with his Mae West full of water. Whittaker and De Angelis announced a short time later that they, too, wanted to try it on their own. Reynolds, who was also in their boat, was too sick to be aware of anything. They had concluded there was nothing to be gained by staying together. Rickenbacker did not agree with them, but when he realized the men would not change their minds, he acquiesced. The two rafts disappeared from sight by nightfall, leaving Rickenbacker alone with two very sick men: Adamson and Bartek, both of whom were barely alive. They had only about 2 1/2 quarts of water and no food.

On the morning of the 21st day, Rickenbacker poured a jigger of water for each, but neither Adamson nor Bartek could raise his head to drink. Rickenbacker successfully scooped up several small fish, but his strength, too, was ebbing. It seemed unusually hot, and Rickenbacker kept looking for a sign — any sign — that might indicate land was in the vicinity. There was none. Not even a gull. Bartek became alert enough to ask if any more planes had been seen, but when the answer was negative, he uttered something about there never would be any before lapsing back into a semicoma.

A short time later, however, Bartek muttered that he heard planes—and he was right. Two floatplanes were approaching from the southeast. Rickenbacker, the only one with enough strength, waved his old hat as hard as he could, but the aircraft disappeared to the west. He knew darkness would arrive soon and probably eliminate any chance of being found. Lady Luck was with them, however: A half-hour later the two planes returned and headed straight for them. The planes were low enough that Rickenbacker could see the pilot in one of them smiling and waving a hand. He was overjoyed to find that the aircraft belonged to the U.S. Navy.

After making a full circle around the raft, both planes headed away. The sun would soon be setting, and a squall had appeared to the south. Rickenbacker was concerned. (He later learned that the planes had left temporarily because they were getting low on fuel.)

About an hour later both planes reappeared, descended to a low altitude, and as one of them left the scene the other circled above, causing Rickenbacker to wonder whether a rescue attempt would be made that night or if they would have to wait until daylight. He definitely did not want to spend one more night on the raft, and he doubted that Adamson would survive much longer without help.

Just as dusk was turning to dark, the pilot released a white flare and a minute later fired a red one. Rickenbacker realized that he was signaling a ship, which soon appeared on the southern horizon, blinking a code signal. The pilot began a short glide and settled down on the water not far from the raft, taxied over and killed his engine. As Rickenbacker grabbed hold of the plane’s pontoon, the fliers climbed out on a wing and introduced themselves: pilot Lieutenant W.F. Eadie of Evanston, Ill., and radioman L.H. Boutte of Abbeville, La. They reported that a PT-boat was en route to pick up the men in the raft. Since Japanese were in the area, they did not want to signal the boat with additional flares. Instead, they decided to load the three survivors on the plane and taxi toward the vessel.

The pilot broke the good news that Captain Cherry had been sighted the day before about 25 miles away by a Navy plane on a routine patrol mission. Boutte had also been the radioman on that plane and had spotted Cherry’s raft. A nearby PT-boat picked up Cherry, who gave general directions to where Rickenbacker’s boat would be. In the meantime, a radio dispatch reported that three men had been located on an uninhabited island in that area. That would likely be Whittaker, De Angelis and Reynolds, and a doctor already had been dispatched to the island. Rickenbacker and his mates were the luckiest of the group, since their craft had drifted into the open sea, hundreds of miles from the next chain of islands. Rickenbacker estimated that during their 21-day marathon they had traveled perhaps 400 or 500 miles and across the international dateline. If so, it was now November 12, not the 11th.

After Adamson was lifted into the cockpit, Rickenbacker thought that he and Bartek would be left behind to await the rescue ship. But that was not to be the case—the crew secured Rickenbacker to one of the wings and Bartek to the other, then taxied toward the vessel that was heading in their direction. With their legs dangling off the leading edges of the wings, Rickenbacker and Bartek survived a wild half-hour ride in pitch dark to the rescue vessel.

After much discussion, the boat skipper, Lieutenant Eadie and Rickenbacker decided that Rickenbacker and Bartek would be taken aboard the boat, but that Adamson needed to continue on to an island base 30 miles away as he was in no condition to be transferred twice—onto the boat and then again at the island.

On the ship, blankets and bedrolls were ready for them. Bartek immediately fell asleep, but the excitement during the previous hour left Rickenbacker wide-awake. Three weeks of inactivity in cramped quarters had rendered his legs weak and wobbly, and he had to hold onto things when he made his first attempt to walk to the ship’s head.

When they arrived at the island base, Rickenbacker and Bartek were finally on solid ground—the answer to their prayers. A short drive down a lane between beautiful palm trees under a full moon to a small hospital climaxed a memorable day. The hospital was a one-story structure with fewer than a dozen cots and no air conditioning. Despite his demand for more, Rickenbacker was allowed only two ounces of water every two hours that first night. During that night Rickenbacker craved water more than at any time during his long ordeal at sea. It was one of the most uncomfortable nights he had ever experienced. The sunburn and sores that covered most of his body, even though they had been treated with healing compounds, hurt worse than during all his days on the raft. He had nightmarish dreams and woke frequently in a confused state. This was not the blissful experience he had envisioned while adrift. Cherry arrived the next day, and Navy tenders brought Whittaker and De Angelis a day later. Reynolds’ condition was so poor that they did not want to move him.

Whittaker and De Angelis described their harrowing experience. The day after they set out alone, they sighted palm trees and made for an island. When they made it to the beach, the two of them, too weak to stand, crawled on their hands and knees, dragging Reynolds across the sand. They found rainwater to drink and killed a rat, eating it raw. Then natives arrived by canoe and took them to a nearby island where an English missionary treated them until a Navy tender picked them up.

That afternoon a flying boat flew five of the men to larger medical facilities on Samoa. Too ill to be moved, Bartek and Reynolds remained on the tender. Adamson was moved only because his condition required the additional care available at Samoa, a decision that probably saved his life.

At the hospital all the men except Adamson were soon making a satisfactory recovery, and Rickenbacker wired Secretary of War Stimson that he expected to be well enough to continue his mission in about two weeks. General Arnold sent word that he would send a plane from the United States as soon as Rickenbacker was ready.

After two weeks of drinking gallons of fruit juice and eating everything placed before him, the man the Boston Globe called ‘The Great Indestructible’ was feeling great, had regained half of the 40 pounds he had lost and told General Arnold that he was ready to go. Before leaving, however, Rickenbacker had to break the news to Adamson that he would have to stay behind, but promised to pick up his aide on the way back home. Bartek had arrived at Samoa looking quite frail but well on his way to recovery. He reported that Reynolds was out of danger but still too ill to be moved.

The plane, piloted by Captain H.P. Luna and a crew of six, took off at sunrise on December 1 for Brisbane, Australia. After the first day, much of the flying was done at night so that Rickenbacker could visit island air bases during the day.

At Brisbane he visited with Australian military officials, then boarded an armed B-17 and flew to Port Moresby, New Guinea, to visit General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters and spend time with Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, commander of the Fifth Air Force, Brig. Gen. Ennis C. Whitehead and Brig. Gen. Kenneth N. Walker. In the course of his stay, Rickenbacker had many eye-opening discussions with the generals who were directing action against the Japanese.

On the way back to Brisbane, they stopped at several bases before Rickenbacker boarded a Consolidated B-24 and headed for Guadalcanal, where he learned much about combat conditions that would prove beneficial to Washington. From Guadalcanal, Rickenbacker stopped in Samoa before heading for home.

On Samoa, he visited Adamson, who had suffered a relapse. He recovered quickly, however, and soon was fit enough to make the trip home accompanied by his physician.

Before leaving Samoa, Rickenbacker received the good news that Reynolds, though very thin and weak, would also be allowed to return home with them. They left on December 14, dropping Reynolds off at his hometown of Oakland and stopping by Los Angeles so that Rickenbacker could visit his mother before the final leg to Bolling Field at Washington, D.C. They arrived on December 19, exactly two months from the day they had left San Francisco.

A large group greeted them at the airport, including Robert Lovett, assistant secretary of war for air; General Arnold; Maj. Gen. Harold George, chief of the Air Transport Command; and other high-ranking officials—as well as Rickenbacker’s wife, Adelaide, and sons, David and Billy, and Mrs. Adamson.

A portion of Rickenbacker’s mission report to Stimson and General Arnold included practical suggestions for survival equipment—including a sheet to cover rafts and collect rainwater and saltwater distilling kits. There is no doubt the recommendations came from a man with real-life experience.

This article was written by Billy A. Rea and originally appeared in the February 2004 issue of World War II magazine.

Not too long ago, I wrote my autobiography. People have asked me why I waited so long to do it. I suppose I felt I needed to live some more life first. I also felt there were some chapters still to be written in my own life.

I heard about a 15-year-old celebrity who is writing their autobiography. How much life have you lived at 15?

I, on the other hand, know that I am on the “back end” of life now, not the front end. I figure I have more life behind me than before.

Writing my autobiography was both hard and helpful. Hard because I had to dig up some old memories I would have rather left buried. Helpful because I have been able to see the “big picture” a bit better and marvel at how God has taken the “bad things” of my life and used them for His glory.

It was interesting that many people who read the book said the same thing: “I did not know you went through all of that!” They knew me as “Pastor Greg,” the guy who preaches from the Bible. They didn’t know me as the kid with the seven-time divorced mom from the alcoholic home who once used to party, drink, and even do drugs for a time!

I don’t boast of these things; quite the opposite. I only tell my story to point people to His story. But I feel it can glorify God to see how He can take a life that has the “deck stacked against it” in practically every way and redeem it.

My life pales in comparison to different people in the Bible that God used. The Bible is replete with stories like this that are far more dramatic then mine.

Reminding us that God can do extraordinary things through ordinary people. God may not have called you to be a pastor or a teacher or a missionary, per se. But it is clear that He is looking for a person to show Himself “strong on behalf of.”

Think of all the ordinary people He has used to turn the world upside down. But also consider how utterly unqualified so many of them were.

  • Noah got DRUNK.
  • Abraham was too OLD.
  • Jacob was a LIAR.
  • Gideon was AFRAID.
  • Rahab was A PROSTITUTE.
  • Jeremiah and Timothy were considered TOO YOUNG.
  • David had an AFFAIR.
  • Moses was a MURDERER.
  • Elijah was SUICIDAL at one point.
  • Jonah RAN FROM GOD.
  • The Disciples FELL ASLEEP while PRAYING.
  • The Samaritan Woman WAS DIVORCED five times.
  • Timothy had AN ULCER.
  • John the Baptist ATE BUGS.
  • And Lazarus WAS DEAD!

So what’s your excuse?

This is not to condone what any of these people did, but it is to say that God used all of them!

“If you want to know the value of one year, just ask a student who failed a course.

If you want to know the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

If you want to know the value of one hour, ask the lovers waiting to meet.

If you want to know the value of one minute, ask the person who just missed the bus.

If you want to know the value of one second, ask the person who just escaped death in a car accident.

And if you want to know the value of one-hundredth of a second, ask the athlete who won a silver medal in the Olympics.”

― Marc Levy

Take time to think:
it is the source of power.

Take time to read;
it is the foundation of wisdom.

Take time to play;
it is the secret of staying young.

Take time to be quiet;
it is the opportunity to see God.

Take time to be aware;
it is the opportunity to help others.

Take time to love and be loved;
it is God’s greatest gift.

Take time to laugh;
it is the music of the soul.

Take time to be friendly;
it is the road to happiness.

Take time to dream;
it is what the future is made of.

Take time to pray;
it is the greatest power on earth.

Author: Unknown

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”

The little boy then understood how powerful his words were. He looked up at his father and said “I hope you can forgive me father for the holes I put in you.”

“Of course I can,” said the father.


by Charles Swindoll

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes


The Soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
‘Step forward now, Marine,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?’
The Marine squared his shoulders and said,
‘No, Lord, I guess I have not.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can’t always be a saint
I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny,
That wasn’t mine to keep…
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear..
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears
If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,
It needn’t be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the Marine waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
‘Step forward now, Marine,
You’ve borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in hockey sticks.’

Author Unknown~