Sunday, May 31, 2015

"You can't take your money to heaven..."

An alert reader from Granger, IN, USA, sent me the YouTube link to a recent graduation speech by Coach Lou Holtz.  It inspired me, and I know you'll enjoy it too.

During his career, Lou served as head football coach at The College of William and Mary, North Carolina State University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Minnesota, Notre Dame, and the University of South Carolina. He's the only college football coach in history to lead six different programs to bowl games. In his short commencement address, he shares his deepest beliefs about success in life, promising graduates of Franciscan University of Steubenville,"You can't take your money to heaven, but you can take your children."  Prepare to be amused and uplifted. Here's the link.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A surfer named Matt

Matt Passeri is a five-time champion Argentinian surfer. He was set for another big win this month until he was disqualified when he burst into the waves with a partner riding on his back. That's against the rules, but Matt called it the greatest victory of his career. Why?

The man on his back was Nicolas Gallegos. He had dreams of becoming a professional surfer until an accident left him paralyzed at age 19. He could no longer surf, so Matt decided to help him out. He broke the contest rules by standing up with Nicolas hanging on his back and catching some waves. He said he has no regrets about giving up the title to make Nicolas' dream come true. The whole ride was captured on video, and you can see it here.

Friday, May 29, 2015

This is more than puppy love

A family in New York State began visiting animal shelters in search of the perfect puppy for their son Beau. After a few weeks, they found a puppy they fell in love with. His name was Theo. Theo craved human friendship and attention so much that, three days after coming home with them, he began joining Beau for his daily nap. Beau's Mom began snapping "nap pictures" which are now warming hearts around the world."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Hand of Grace

Grace Hildreth, 9, is a spunky third-grader living near South Bend, Indiana. Nobody's sure why she was born without a complete right arm. She accomplishes a lot with just one hand, but wishes she had two, so she could shake hands with people, and tickle her sisters. Now she can, thanks to dedicated engineering students at nearby Penn High School who used their 3-D printer to create a working hand for her. One of the students, senior Spencer Graf, at first thought the task was too hard for "a bunch of high school kids with no real-life engineering experience." But after the modeling was done, he knew they could do it. And they did.


As reported in the South Bend Tribune, Grace recently demonstrated her new arm at Penn High School before a crowd of 200 school administrators, teachers, families and students, including the engineering students who made her hand. Before she came on stage wearing a gown made by high school sewing students, everyone watched a student-made movie called "Hand of Grace" which told her story. You can see it at  When it was time to demonstrate her arm, Grace placed her artificial hand next to a bottle of glue; tightened her fingers around the bottle and raised it high in the air, to a roar of applause. Grace has nine more years before she graduates from Penn High School. During those years, future high school engineering students will continue to refine and improve the artificial arm to better meet her changing needs. They won't give up until they create the perfect hand of Grace.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

He's confident he saved the city

As "Crumbs of Comfort" exceeds 9,000 page views, an alert reader from Plymouth, IN, USA, recommended today's crumb. It's about 5-year-old Miles Scott, who was in remission from leukemia. During his "fight" with the disease, the difference between good and evil became very clear to him. He found comfort in super heroes, and his favorite was Batman. His dream in life was to be Batman for a day. The Make-A-Wish Foundation agreed to make his dream come true. Organizers hoped 200 people would show up in the streets of San Francisco (aka "Gotham") on Nov. 15, 2013, to watch him save the city. Instead, 25,000 appeared (some flew in from overseas)  and another two billion followed his heroics on social media. Even President Obama used a Vine message to praise his crime-fighting.

The city was so crowded officials had to create a parade route as Batkid was rushed from one location to another -- saving a woman in distress, stopping the Riddler and capturing the Penguin at AT&T Park. At day's end, a grateful mayor gave him the key to the city. Miles, now 7, is cancer free and has no doubt that he really did save the city. Said one participant, "by helping him save the city, we saved ourselves."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The milk of human kindness

Last August, Shelley Ruck, 33, started to worry when she got caught on a very hot day in a traffic tie-up on the M6 south of Lancaster in England. Cars were backed up for 30 miles. Her eight-month-old son George was with her, and she had only one bottle of baby formula left. When she noticed a crowd had gathered on an overpass to peer down and see what was happening, she called out and explained her problem. That's when an anonymous team of Good Samaritans swung into action.

They hopped in their cars and drove to a local shop where they purchased enough supplies to keep George happy for hours, including baby milk powder, two sterilized bottles filled with boiling water and a bottle of spring water. After they returned to the overpass, one of them scrambled down the embankment and handed the goods to Shelley. The Good Samaritans would not accept a penny in payment, asking only that she "make sure the baby is okay."

Traffic remained gridlocked from 2 p.m. until 11 p.m. because of an accident."Those people saved us," Shelley told the London Express.  "It was the kindest thing anyone could have done. It was absolutely unbelievable."

Kindness like this helps explain the lyrics of a song popular with Brits during WWII. "May this dear land we love so well in dignity and freedom dwell. Though worlds may change and go awry while there is still one voice to cry, There will always be an England."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Clothes for Love

The Korean Dry Cleaners Association of New York City has a little-known program called "Clothes for Love." A tradition for the past 30 years, the dry cleaners spend six months each year gathering items left behind from launders across Manhattan.

The sometimes elegant, always forgotten threads are put to good use. Last month, the association donated 80 boxes of coats, suits, shirts and pants to shelters through New York's Department of Homeless Services. That's 2,000 pieces of unclaimed clothing. Since the program began in 1985, the association has donated tens of thousands of freshly laundered or dry-cleaned clothing items to homeless folks in the Big Apple.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

God has no Facebook page

God has no Facebook page, but always answers knee-mail. Does he respond to any other form of social media? Maybe the answer is yes! This picture illustrates Genesis  chapter 8, verses 6 and 7.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"God did most of the saving."

In the fall of 2011, then 14-year-old Taylor Hale slipped off the hood of a friend's car and hit her head on the pavement -- very hard. She was rushed to the hospital with a brain injury and put into a medically induced coma, but after a week she suffered a brain hemorrhage. Nothing more could be done. She was brain dead. It was time to make final arrangements and take her off life support.

Then, and now.

That day, Jeff Stickel, a friend of Taylor's parents, visited the hospital and asked permission to pray for her.  He felt God had called him to help. He put his hands on Taylor's neck and asked God to heal her. Hours later, her life support was shut off, but when she struggled to take a breath under her own power, it was reconnected and her brain activity began to increase. She tried to talk as she awoke from her coma. From that day on, progress was slow but steady. First a wheel chair, then a walker, then walking by herself. She missed her freshman year of high school, but a tutor helped her catch up with academics. This month, she graduated from Waukee High School with her class, and she'll attend junior college next fall.

How did it happen? The doctors say nobody recovers from the hemorrhage she had. Taylor and her parents use the same phrase to describe her recovery -- the hand of God.  "God can save people," Taylor says. "I'm always thankful to all the doctors and nurses and therapists who helped me get better, but God did most of the saving."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mother praises police for helping her son

Joseph Owusu is a student at Virginia Tech. As he was driving home from school late one night last week, one of the back tires blew off his little Mercedes in Rocky Mount, VA, stranding him on Route 220 South, a busy highway. Before long, Virginia State Police officer Matt Oakes pulled up behind him and approached his car. Joseph's mother, Dr. Nadu Owusu, remembers what happened next. "This kind officer didn't ask if his Mercedes was stolen, but rather got on his knees to help replace his tire." Since the tire was stuck on the wheel, Trooper Oakes positioned his well-lit cruiser to make sure other drivers were aware of Joseph's stranded car as AAA responded.

Even after AAA came, Trooper Oakes stayed to be sure the repair was complete and young Joseph was safe. "There's a lot of good in this world, and people want to hear positive stories," Dr. Owusu said. "As far as I was concerned, there was  good person waiting with my son. There's a lot of good in America and that needs to be heard. Police need our support."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"I felt like the world was coming full circle."

Its not unusual for your sister to attend your college graduation, unless you never knew you had a sister. That's what happened at Columbia University this month. The story began years ago, when Leslie Parker, 54, gave birth to two daughters as an unwed teenager in Florida. Leslie aspired to be a writer, but drug abuse, poverty and emotional problems dashed her hopes and caused her to give up both girls for adoption. "If I had raised them, they would not have had the privileges they had," she said. The two daughters, Lizzie Valverde, 35, and Katy Olson, 34, didn't know each other when both enrolled at Columbia in 2013. They met, of all places, in a creative writing class.

Katy Olson and Lizzie Valverde were given up for adoption.

On the first day of class students introduced themselves, and after class, Katie, who knew she was adopted and had a missing sister, approached Lizzie very excited, asking a lot of personal questions. Lizzie thought Katy was having a panic attack until Katy exclaimed, "I think we're sisters!" She was right. Until that moment, Lizzie didn't know she had a sister, but she had discovered their birth mother through online research and met her. She encouraged Katy to meet her too. But when?

This month, Lizzie graduated with a B.A. in creative writing. Katy, who graduated last year with the same degree and is now pursuing a master's degree in writing at Columbia, was there to congratulate her. Their birth mom also attended, meeting Katy for the first time.

"In them I see what I had the potential to be," Parker said. "They're both living what I always wanted to be. I felt like the world was coming full circle."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Five-year-old touches hearts in Waffle House

Five-year-old Josiah Duncan and his mom Ava Faulk were eating at a Waffle House in Alabama recently when a homeless man wandered in and sat at a table. Josiah noticed that nobody was serving him, and asked his mom why. She explained that he was homeless and probably just came inside to get warm. That's when Josiah insisted they buy him a meal. He jumped up and asked the man if he needed a menu, because he "could not order without one." The man asked for a hamburger, and wondered, "can I have some bacon?" Josiah said he could have as much as he wanted.

Before the man took his first bite, Josiah asked if he would say grace with him. The homeless man agreed, so Josiah prayed very loud, "God our Father, we thank you for our many blessings. Amen."and the eleven other diners in the restaurant prayed aloud with him. By the time he was done, there wasn't a dry eye in the restaurant. Josiah's mom said, "Watching my son touch the eleven people in that Waffle House will be forever one of the greatest accomplishments of a parent I'll ever get to witness."

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

She believes her prayers were answered

In January, 2012, Melissa Dohme of Clearwater, FL, was dating Robert Lee Burton, Jr.  She told him it was time to break up, and he asked to come over and give her a farewell hug. But instead of hug, Robert stabbed her neck and face, not once but 32 times. Bystanders called 911 and minutes later firefighter-paramedic Cameron Hill found her on the pavement outside her home. "It was so bad you couldn't tell she was blond," he remembered. Hill loaded her into a helicopter that flew her to a hospital. During three weeks, she flat-lined four times and suffered nerve damage that partly paralyzed one side of her face, but to everyone's surprise, she recovered. She left rehab walking, determined to become a nurse.  After she fearlessly faced down her attacker in court, Burton was sentenced to life without parole. In 2013 she told WFLA, "By a miracle I'm still here."

In the fall of 2012, Melissa spoke in a church as an advocate against domestic violence. Two of her first-responders were in the audience. One was Cameron. They hugged and planned to meet again. "I had this feeling about him," she said. This month, representing Hands Across the Bay (a non-profit supporting Tampa Bay families) Melissa was invited to throw the first pitch at a Tampa Bay Rays game,  As she approached the mound, Cameron ran out to give her the ball. On it were four words. "Will you marry me?" When she said yes, the crowd roared approval and the public address system played wedding music. Melissa managed to accept Cameron's proposal, admire her ring, kiss him, and still throw the first pitch. He caught it, and returned the ball to her with an armful of roses.

"If you believe there's good in the world, then you'll find it," she said in 2013. "I believe (Cameron) is the answer to my prayers that I've prayed all the time."

Monday, May 18, 2015

Feeding body and soul (Matt. 25: 35)

Ten years ago, Rev. Richard Joyner decided he'd conducted too many funerals in his 300-member congregation at Conetoe Missionary Baptist Church about 70 miles from Raleigh, NC. Thirty members, all younger than 32-years-old, died in one year. Many of the deaths were related to poor diets. So Rev. Joyner expanded his pastorate to feed not just souls, but also bodies. In 2007, he started a small community garden tended by the youngest members of his church. The harvest of healthy foods was given to local families or sold at farmer's markets, with proceeds spent on scholarships.

Rev. Joyner feeds hungry souls and bodies.   (Photo courtesy of Natalie Basis)

The initiative took root, and today 60 students tend 25 acres of vegetables plus 130 bee hives during after-school and summer programs. More than 20 other local churches have joined the effort. Youthful gardeners learn how to cook what they grow, plus patience, persistence and leadership. On weekends, families can harvest all they want, so long as gardeners do the cooking. Joyner says his youthful gardeners "feel really good when they take something home to their parents. They get to see how it feels to be givers rather than takers."

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mother's Day is every day

Mother's Day has come and gone, but let's not forget Mom until next year. Your Mother may not be perfect, but when the chips are down. she has your back. Here are some quotes worth remembering.

"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."
Abraham Lincoln

"Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials."
Meryl Streep

Renoir -- Mother and Child

"Motherhood has taught me the meaning of living in the moment and being at peace. Children don't think about yesterday or tomorrow. They just exist in the moment."
Jessalyn Gilsig (actress)

"More than any other human relationship, overwhelmingly more, motherhood means being instantly interruptible, responsive, and responsible."
Tillie Olsen (feminist writer)

"Throughout my life, my mom has been the person that I've always looked up to."
Mike Krzyzewski (basketball coach)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The keys to love and respect

Sam Brownlee was a deputy sheriff in Weld County, Colorado until five years ago, when he was killed in the line of duty. Recently the department decided to retire the 2010 Dodge Charger he always used. It's worth about $12,500, and income from the sale would directly benefit COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors), a group that supports families of slain police officers.

Brownlee's oldest son, Tanner, was 15 when his Dad died. Now 20, he hoped to buy the car as a way for him and his younger brother to stay connected with their Dad. He didn't have much money, but he started a GoFundMe page for the car and went to the auction anyway. "Realizing how much this car meant to (my Dad), I understand it now and I want to keep that and hold on to it," he told KSDK-TV.

Because folks in Weld County strongly support the families of fallen officers, bids quickly exceeded the car's value. After bidding all he had, Tanner was far outbid by a rancher who wishes to remain anonymous. The rancher won the car with a bid of $60,000, but when the sheriff gave him the keys, the rancher walked over to deputy Brownlee's son, placed the keys in his hand, and said, "Tanner, here's your car." Tanner was so surprised that he cried. The rancher hugged him, and everyone else in the room applauded. Somewhere in heaven, deputy Brownlee applauded too.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The church has left the building!

My boyhood summers were spent at Camp Elektor on Lake Teedyuskung in eastern Pennsylvania. We often hiked ten miles from camp to the nearest town, Hawley, just to eat lunch at the diner. Fifty years later, Hawley remains dear to my heart and I often read the News-Eagle online. Today's crumb, which will be enjoyed by readers in the United States, Ukraine, China, France, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, India, Poland and Sweden, comes from the News-Eagle.

On Sunday, May 31, eleven congregations from five different denominations will not go to church! Instead, they will do community projects like handyman work for the elderly, sprucing up local businesses, writing thank-you notes to local firemen, cleaning up Bingham Park and planting flowers.

The church has left the building.

This year, some of the 200-strong army of church volunteers will also offer free public services. Refreshments and blood pressure screenings will be available in Bingham Park, along with free kids haircuts at the gazebo. Anyone can receive a free car seat safety check, or even a pet blessing. General coordinator Anna Considine says, "We would love to have more community members join us, as you do not need to belong to a local church to participate. All are welcome."

This local initiative recalls a verse by poet Edgar Guest, who wrote, "If God can mark the sparrow's fall, I don't believe He'll fail to notice us and how we act when doubts and fears assail; I think He'll hold what's in our hearts above what's in our creeds, and judge all our religion here by our recorded deeds. And since man is God's greatest work since life on earth began, he'll get to heaven, I believe, who helps his fellowman."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

An Amish prayer for all of us

Twenty-five years in Indiana left me with dear Amish friends. Instead of building churches, Old Order Amish worship in each other's homes, or under a tent if weather permits. After hearing a sermon, the congregation sings German hymns without any instruments. An Amish man was at worship one Sunday when he saw a little girl singing. It inspired him so much that he wrote this poetic prayer.

It was just a usual Sunday, we were met with one accord, 
Gathered in the house of worship, singing praises to the Lord.
When my eye beheld a daughter of the great Eternal King
And my heart within grew tender as I watched that daughter sing.
Solemnly she held her hymnbook while she listened quite intent
To the preacher's earnest reading, line by line the old hymn went.
Then our voices rose together, lifting song into the air,
And she too was sweetly singing, gladly sending up her share,
Though the deepness of the meaning was beyond her childish mind;
And the number which was called for Mother dear had helped her find.
As I watched, my own heart smote me and I had to bow my head,
For I'd heard a mighty sermon, though not a word was said.
Many times I too can hardly understand God's how and why,
And deeper shades of meaning He has hidden from my eye.
Oh that I might go on singing like the little maiden here
Even though the way's perplexing and the next step isn't clear.
Oh, that I might pour my efforts into doing what I can,
Well content with my small portion of our Father's master plan!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The ripeness of age makes us sweeter

May is Older Americans Month, and according to a recent Census Bureau report, there are now more older Americans than ever before in United States history -- about 55 million. A few play shuffleboard at Florida mobile home parks, but most are so active that the entertainment industry has realized their value in the consumer market. Later this month, producers of Senior Star Search hope more than 200 older entertainers will audition to join a permanent senior theatre company in greater Los Angeles. Winners will receive money, performance opportunities, access to workshops, publicity and industry exposure. Contestants younger than 55 need not apply.

Carol Channing, 94

Do seniors really have the moxie to strut their stuff on stage? Many say yes, including Tony Bennett (88), Angela Lansbury (89), Cloris Leachman (89), Florence Henderson (81), and young Valerie Harper (75). Maybe Carol Channing said it best. "Growing up in the Christian Science church, age was never an important factor to me....however, apparently it is to the rest of the world. It's nice to know there are others in this world who encourage us to celebrate the contributions that seniors bring to society."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fresno police befriend residents

According to The Washington Post, police in Fresno, CA, have adopted "community-policing" instead of the zero tolerance policy which leads to mass arrests in other cities. The initiative began in 2002 when police reached out to clergy in high crime areas. Then they held a block party to build relationships with young kids. Residents were suspicious at the first party, but police now host more than 20 parties each year and have earned citizen support. For example, when a woman was killed in a neighborhood controlled by a gang, everyone knew who did it. In the past, nobody would talk. This time a tipster trusted police enough to call and the suspect was quickly arrested. A few weeks later, at another block party, police began disbanding that gang.

Thea Goodman takes selfie with Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer at block party.   (Washington Post)

Today, the police block parties are planned by teenage volunteers who meet at police headquarters regularly. This frees officers to grill hot dogs and let kids sit in a police cruiser. Said one teen volunteer, "When I used to see a cop, I'd feel nervousness. Now I want to become a police officer."

Monday, May 11, 2015

What does BFF really mean?

According to the London Daily Mail, Xie Xu, 18, met his best friend, 19-year-old classmate Zhang Chi, when they enrolled at Daxu High School in Xuzhou, a large Chinese city in the province of Jiangsu. Zhang suffers from muscular dystrophy. It's hard for him to walk, so Xie decided to carry him around campus to be sure he won't miss any classes. The boys live in dorms near the school. Xie carries Zhang from their rooms to the school and back again, also helping him with daily tasks like getting meals and washing clothes. Xie says he carries Zhang about a dozen times each day.  He's done this for three years, so far.

Others have noticed. Vice-principal Guo Chunxi says Xie is a "most beautiful student. He exerts a positive influence on other students, who also help Zhang. With their assistance, Zhang has never once been absent."

 Xie and Zhang are both serious scholars, ranking at the top of their class, and look forward to studying together in college.

Man's best friend ate what?

A Belgian Malinois named "Benno" lives with his owner, Larry Brassfield, in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Benno has a voracious appetite.

Benno with owner Larry Brassfield and vet Dr. Sarah Sexton, holding ammo he ate.

Recently Brassfield took Benno to the vet after he ate 23 rounds of live ammunition. He didn't just swallow the bullets. First he chewed and mangled each one. Menno survived an operation to remove the explosives, and Brassfield promises not to leave ammo laying around the house again, but he doubts Benno will stick to dog food in the future. Why?

In the past, Benno has eaten Brassfield's wife's bra, drywall, weed-eater string, baseboards, LEGOs, a gasoline-soaked lawn mower air filter, quilt batting, magnets, marbles, tennis shoes, aluminum foil, wax paper, Styrofoam peanuts, stuffed animals, coins and of course, the TV remote.

"You can baby-proof a house, but I don't think it's possible to Benno-proof a house," says Brassfield. "Lord knows we've tried and failed."

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's influence lasts a lifetime

A reader from Carmel, IN, USA, recommended today's crumb of tribute to Roy Eaton, 84, a man who personifies the term "bounce-back-ability." Born on May 14, 1930 to Jamaican immigrants, he grew up in Harlem. His Dad was a mechanic and his Mom a domestic servant, but they knew their son could break the chain of poverty. Despite losing part of a finger on his right hand when he was three, he began taking piano lessons when he was six, and learned quickly. One year later he won a competition at Carnegie Hall. At age 20, he debuted with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. With encouragement from his parents, he studied at City College of NY and the Manhattan School of Music simultaneously, eating lunch each school day in five minutes or less. He later studied at the University of Zurich, and then Yale.

After a stint in the Army during the Korean War, he needed a job and became the first African-American person to have creative functions and general accounts at a major NYC  advertising agency. Known as the Jackie Robinson of advertising, he wrote familiar jingles like "You can trust your car to the man who wears the star" and "We're having Beefaroni. It's made from macaroni."   Then tragedy struck. In 1959 he was in a car crash that killed his bride and left him in a coma with a 10% chance of survival, but he did survive and continued his advertising career until returning to the concert stage in 1986, performing (where else?) at Lincoln Center.

After a second marriage ended in divorce, he finally found the love of his life and is happily married today. For the past 30 years, he has been a practitioner of transcendental meditation, which he credits with helping him through hard times and broken marriages.

According to our Indiana contributor, Roy was on TV recently and said he owes everything to his Mother. She was devoted to the Unity School of Christianity, and promised him, "The light of God surrounds you, the love of God enfolds you, the power of God protects you," a popular Unity prayer.

And his "lifetime mantra" was also a gift from his Mother. She reminded him again and again, that,  to overcome prejudice, he needed to do 200% to get credit for 100%. And so he did.

Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sweet siblings pray for "nice" foster parents

Four Louisiana siblings split among different foster families have made a public plea to be adopted together into one home. "I miss my brother and my sister," said Hakeem, 7. He's living in a foster home with his brother Leon, 8, while sister Delores, 9, and older brother Dontae, 12, live in separate foster homes. They have not lived together for almost three years.

Hakeem, Leon, Dontae and Delores.

Many families don't feel ready to parent so many children all at once, but during Louisiana's last fiscal year, six families adopted five siblings at once, and 43 families adopted sets of three siblings. Ideally the older siblings take on parental roles, providing a helpful support system. Even so, 75% of foster children are placed apart from their brothers and sisters.

Hakeem, Leon, Delores and Dontae pray to escape that statistic. They dream of uniting with foster parents who are "nice, kind and sweet." And those are the qualities they'll bring to the table. Mary Williams is the current foster Mom for Leon and Hakeem. "They have their routines and chores," she said, "and they love to ask me what I need them to do. They're always asking, 'Ms. Mary, are you okay?'"

To inquire about uniting these sweet siblings in your home, call the Department of Children and Family Services in Louisiana at 337-491-2470.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

"Lord, hear our cry"

Thursday, May 7, was National Day of Prayer, an annual event in the United States since 1952. This year's theme is "Lord, hear our cry." According to, more than 90% of Americans believe in a higher power, but what do they pray for? The majority, 82%, pray for their family or friends. 74% pray for a solution to personal problems. 42% pray to be forgiven for their own sins. 38% pray for relief in national disasters. 37% simply recognize God's greatness. 36% pray for future prosperity, and 20% pray for folks of other faiths or no faith at all. The Pew Research Center (no relation to church pews) finds 55% of Americans pray every day while 23% pray weekly or monthly. In either case, a  survey by Beliefnet found 41% believe their prayers are answered.

For example, people in New Orleans, LA, have recently received positive messages from heaven, or at least from the sky, when clouds of love appeared out of thin air. Words like hope, faith, and "coexist" have also appeared over the city. "We were at a jazz festival today and we saw a big heart in the sky," said Jimi Harper.

The author of these Godlike ideas was businessman Frank Scurlock, founder of the Noigiler Foundation (that's religion spelled backwards) He was so moved by the violence in New Orleans and nationwide that he hired Nathan Hammond, one of only five sky-writers left in the United States, to paint the sky with messages of hope. His goal is to inspire everyone. Let's pray he's successful.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rock, paper, scissors

Rock-paper-scissors is a zero-sum hand game usually played between two people in which each player simultaneously forms one of three shapes with an outstretched hand. The shapes are a rock (closed fist), paper (a flat hand) or scissors (a fist with two fingers extended to form a V like scissor blades). The game has three possible outcomes beside a tie. Rock beats scissors (rock crushes scissors) but paper beats rock (paper covers rock) and paper looses to scissors (scissors cut paper).
But a "Crumbs of Comfort" reader from Redlands, CA, USA, discovered another reason why paper beats rock, and that reason is sheer PERSISTENCE. Here's the photo he submitted as proof.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was the brain-child of Anna Jarvis. Her mother, Ann Jarvis, was a peace activist caring for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War. Ann organized Mother's Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. After she died, Anna campaigned to make Mother's Day an annual event, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as a national holiday honoring mothers. But some folks honor mothers more than one day each year.

Katy Simcox and her 3-year-old son Maddox.

Katy Simcox, of Henderson, KY, balances motherhood with her job in a nursing home. Recently she took her son Maddox to a restaurant for lunch. "I was just listening to him and talking to him," she said, when a waitress came to her table and told her not to worry about the tab, because a woman sitting nearby had just paid it. Simcox thanked the woman, who said she'd never seen a young mother who was so caring toward her child. "Other moms can learn a few things from you," she said. According to Katy, "It's not the kind of thing you hear often, and it made me feel really good." The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave Katy her contact information and invited her to call if she ever needs extra support."

Monday, May 4, 2015

"For me, this keeps her alive."

Linda Briel and her husband Bob live in The Villages, FL., a retirement community with over 100,000 residents one hour north of Orlando. Their daughter Amy died in April, 2013, when she was only 44 years old. Amy loved music all her life, and was buried with her beloved silver trumpet. To help deal with grief, Linda does something positive on or around the anniversary of Amy's death. She wants other children to love music as much as Amy did. Last year, she donated $1,700 to Wildwood Middle and High School (near The Villages) to provide private music lessons for students who could not afford them.
Villages Elementary School of Lady Lake, FL.

This year, on the second anniversary of Amy's death, Linda saved $1,000 and donated it to the music department at Villages Elementary School of Lady Lake to replace the music department's 15-year-old wooden xylophones with new, more durable fiberglass instruments. Linda and Bob attend Lady Lake United Methodist Church, and when fellow-members heard of her plans, they took a collection and doubled her gift to $2,000.  "For me, this keeps Amy alive," said Linda. "I try to keep a positive spin on (April) and have something to smile about, rather than just being down in the dumps. We all have to pick ourselves up and keep going." Linda smiled through tears when she received a thank you card for her gift, signed by about 100 children.

Limited only by infinity?

Terry Tao is an Australian-born Chinese American mathematician working in harmonic analysis, partial differential equations and random matrix theory. He scored above 760 on his SATs when he was eight years old. He taught high school calculus at Garfield High School when he was seven. He earned his bachelor and master's degrees when he was 16. He was 21 when he earned his PhD at Princeton.

Child prodigy Terry Tao in a university class.

Use the link at the end of this post to watch Terry being interviewed by humorist Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report. It will make you laugh, and think. Are we all limited only by infinity?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

"All that matters is love."

Julie Van Stone and her son Rowan cherish the memory of  Rowan's Dad, Joseph, through stories and scrapbooks filled with pictures and postcards. In order to give his son a good life, Joseph had joined the Navy and later earned two Master's degrees. While away at school, he sent his son letters and postcards from each state he passed through while driving across the country from his school to his home. Then Joseph unexpectedly died. Rowan knew he would not receive any more cards. And he never did, until recently.

Just a few days before the second anniversary of Joseph's death, a card arrived in the mail dated June 10, 2007. "Hello from Pennsylvania," it said. "I love you and I miss you so much. See you soon, Love, Daddy."

Nobody is sure why it took the card eight years to arrive in Rowan's mailbox, but Julie considers it the final goodbye Joseph never gave Rowan when he died. Joseph's last words to Julie were, "Everything is a circle. We will see each other again. All that matters is love."