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Author Unknown
A few months before I was born, my Dad met a
stranger who was new to our small town. From the
beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchant-
ing newcomer and soon invited him to live with our
family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was
around to welcome me into the world.
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my
family. In my young mind, he had a special niche.
My parents were complementary instructors: Mom
taught me the word of God, and Dad taught me to
obey it. But the stranger... He was our storyteller.
He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with
adventures, mysteries and comedies.
If I wanted to know anything about politics, history
or science, he always knew the answers about the
past, understood the present and even seemed able
to predict the future! He took my family to the first
major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he
made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking,
but Dad didn¡¯t seem to mind.
Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest
of us were shushing each other to listen to what he
had to say, and she would go to her room and read
her books (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the
stranger to leave.)
Dad ruled our household with certain moral convic-
tions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor
them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our
home, not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our
longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter
words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm
and my mother blush.
My Dad was a teetotaler who didn¡¯t permit alcohol
in the home, not even for cooking. But the stranger
encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made
cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distin-
guished. He talked freely (much too freely!) about
sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, some-
times suggestive, and generally embarrassing.
I now know that my early concepts about relation-
ships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time
after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet
he was seldom rebuked, and NEVER asked to leave.
More than fifty years have passed since the stranger
moved in with our family. He has blended right in
and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first.
Still, if you were to walk into my parent¡¯s den today,
you would still find him sitting over in his corner,
waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch
him draw his pictures. His name?
We just call him... ¡°TV¡±.
Heart Of Stone
- Author unknown
I was born with a heart of stone
The hardest of hearts was all I had known
Casting off emotions that welled within
Ignoring them completely with a casual grin
I would keep friends at a distance
Building solid walls in firm resistance
No one could penetrate my heart of stone
I had then found myself cold and alone
I worked on maintaining my wall every day
Sealing up the cracks with mortar and clay
Grounded deep and firm within my soul
With it there I had complete control
I was proud of the great shield I had built
It blinded me from any shame or guilt
Little did I know how lonely I would be
Frigid and dark my heart was within me
When I was most alone inside my heart
I began to crumble and slowly fall apart
My mortar seemed to run dry
No more patching, my wall began to die
The firm foundation started to erode
Brick by brick and load by load
The stone began to chip and break
It was then that life gave one last shake
The wall had fallen and broken to pieces
Then I felt one of the greatest releases
I had worked so hard to build this wall
The greatest release was to see it fall
When it fell, I learned a lesson so great
Life is not built on the things I create
Importance lies in the love that I share
To show everyone that I really do care
That moment I received something new
A heart of flesh and a crisp life view
My heart of stone had been replaced
This gave my soul a brand new taste
A soft heart ready to freely give love
A new spirit; a spirit given from above
Fresh excitement flows like a river
My thanks go to the great gift Giver
Ezekiel 36:26: I will give you a new heart and
put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you
your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
The Reading Room
2014 November
Pg 5 - The Sunshine Express
Treasures From The Inbox
Over the river and through the woods,
To have a first-rate play;
Oh hear the bells ring, Ting-a-ling-ling!
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river and through the woods,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground, Like a hunting
hound! For this is Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river and through the woods,
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go extremely slow
It¡¯s always so hard to wait!
Over the river and through the woods,
Now Grandmother¡¯s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
(Karen Schafer lives in & writes about
life from Gateway, Colorado)
My earliest memory of Thanksgiving is Novem-
ber 1948. I was 6 years of age and attending a
small country school north of Denver.
At that age it took very little effort to impress
this country girl. I was intrigued by the ad-
ventures of the pilgrims. As the holiday grew
closer, we colored more and more pictures of
pilgrims and turkeys.
Finally, gathered around an old out of tune
piano, we sang ¡°over the river and through the
woods to grandma¡¯s house we go.¡± A kaleido-
scope , farmscape traveled across my six year
old mind as we sang. I believed we were sing-
ing about my grandparent¡¯s home in Illinois.
There was certainly acres of woods, a creek
and a large barn housing a horse and raven-
hued sleigh with large silver bells.
At home a big tom turkey was penned out back
near the chicken house. I checked on him daily
when returning from school. Thankfully, I was
spared his beheading! I have no idea where my
mother purchased him but, every year thereaf-
ter, the thanksgiving turkey was brought home
from the market, oven ready.
Thanksgiving morning we were awaken by the
aroma of roasting turkey. It was one of the few
times the family dressed up for dinner. The ta-
ble was set with ¡®company¡¯ dishes atop a white
linen tablecloth. A traditional meal consisting of
turkey, dressing, mounds of whipped potatoes,
real cranberries and pumpkin pie was served.
Father, sitting at the head of the table, carved
the turkey. A traditional meal, a traditional
family from the 1940¡¯s. For those family times
and memories I am eternally thankful.
As November approaches I am asked ¡°what are
we doing for Thanksgiving this year?¡± I consid-
er eating out but it is a fleeting thought. Family
and friends, both old and new, will gather.
There will be the traditional meal, laughter and
joy. Each person will tell what they are most
thankful for, grace will be said and husband will
carve the turkey.
Over the River and Through the Woods,
To grandmother¡¯s house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh,
Through white and drifted snow!
Over the river and through the woods,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.
If you get email, you
get stuff. Sometimes
it is spam, sometimes
it is a true gem.
Here is one of those
gems worth sharing:
Positively Karen
He who thanks but with the lips
Thanks but in part;
The full, the true Thanksgiving
Comes from the heart.
~J.A. Shedd
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends...
For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
But whether we have less or more,
Always thank we God therefore.
~Author Unknown
For what I give, not what I take,
For battle, not for victory,
My prayer of thanks I make.
~Odell Shepard
A Poetic Thanksgiving
¡°We can only be said to be
alive in those moments when
our hearts are conscious of
our treasures.¡±
- Thornton Wilder
The Stranger