Monday, August 31, 2015

The power to be spiritual

Rt. Rev. Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) is best remembered today as author of the Christmas carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem. Few know that he went to Boston Latin School and Harvard University before studying at Virginia Theological Seminary. He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1860 and opposed slavery during the Civil War. He helped design (and was pastor of) Trinity Church, where worshippers still gather today in Boston's Back Bay. His sermons contained many memorable quotes, and my favorite describes the countless caring individuals featured on this blog, Here it is.

"God has not given us vast learning to solve all the problems, or unfailing wisdom to direct all the wanderings of our brothers' lives, but He has given to every one of us the power to be spiritual, and by our spirituality to lift and enlarge and enlighten the lives we touch."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rainbow Grandpa saves historic village

Huang Yung-fu, 93, was born in Hong Kong. He joined the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) army in 1946 to fight communist troops in mainland China during the civil war there. When KMT was defeated, many troops including Huang followed their leader, Chiang Kai-shek, to the island of Taiwan. Soldiers were housed in hundreds of military villages as Chiang regrouped, but when communists took control of the mainland, these temporary homes became permanent. Over the years, many villages were demolished as residents demanded better housing. Of the 1,200 original homes in Huang's village, only 11 remained, but he didn't want to leave, so instead, he started painting all the remaining homes. He painted night and day until nearby university students discovered his work and launched a campaign to save the village.

                                                                                                                         AFT Photo / Sam Yeh
Thanks to Huang, his village has become one of the area's leading attractions, drawing more than a million visitors annually. Tourists of all ages take selfies in front of the murals, including 19-year-old Hsiao Chi, a student from Taipei. "These graphics are amazing," he said. "They should be preserved." And finally the government agrees. "The government has promised me they will keep my house and this village," said Huang, now known as Rainbow Grandpa. "I am so happy and thankful."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Great-grandmother leaves no child unfed

Gray's Harbor County (in the state of Washington) is financially depressed. Many residents depend on government help to feed themselves and their children. So when the schools announced they could not provide free or reduced-price lunch during summer vacation, a great-grandmother named Phyllis Shaughnessy and a group of volunteers took action. After holding a fundraiser, they launched a free summertime lunch service to feed more than 200 hungry children.

                                                                                                                           Photo by KING News
Each morning this summer, the ladies met at the Green Lantern Tavern to pack non-perishable food items. Then they fanned out to deliver the lunches to grateful kids. Now that children are back in school, most have access to the FDA-approved school lunch, but Phyllis and her friends aren't quitting. They'll continue their program on weekends and holidays throughout the year because they know they're delivering more than food. "You're delivering the children hope and love and a lunch," said Phyllis. "They need to know someone cares."

Friday, August 28, 2015

"Heavenly Father, are you really there?"

In 2007 when Chase Burch was 10, she was diagnosed with brain cancer and accepted for treatment at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. As she wakened after emergency surgery, her dad, Jared Chase, was sitting by her bed singing A Child's Prayer from the Latter Day Saints hymnal. It's her favorite hymn, and she began to softly sing it with him, "Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child's prayer? Some say that heaven is far away, but I feel it close around me as I pray." Before long, a coincidence happened which helped convince Chase that God was really there and loved her. What was this sign from heaven?

                                                                   Chase Burch in 2012              Photo by

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was on tour and performing in Memphis. Chase had begun chemotherapy so she was too ill to attend, but went to the hotel where they were staying, hoping to meet a few singers. The choir decided she deserved much more. When she and her family entered the hotel, the entire choir was waiting in the lobby and balconies to give her a surprise performance. Without knowing about her experience after surgery, one of the songs they sang was A Child's Prayer. "It gave us hope," said Chase's dad. And the final proof of God's love? Chase has been healthy since her treatment, and is now national spokesperson for the hospital, telling audiences how St. Judes loves children and parents. If a child's treatment uses up all of Mom or Dad's insurance coverage, additional care is free. Would you like to see and hear Chase as she listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the hotel lobby in 2007? Then find a tissue to dry your eyes and visit

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Behind every hero is a heroic Mom

We all know about the three young Americans who subdued a would-be terrorist armed with an assault rifle aboard a Netherlands-France bullet train last week, saving many lives. On Monday, the President of France awarded each man France's highest honor, the Legion of Merit. The mothers of the heroes were invited to attend the ceremony, but had no way to get there, until pilot Doug Perrill called his boss, Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, to ask if he'd let them use his private plane. Boyle immediately agreed. During the next 12 hours, Perrill and the State Department rapidly resolved passport issues.

                                                                                                                      AP Photo  Michel Euler, Pool
Boyle met the mothers at Portland International Airport last Sunday and visited with them briefly. He said they were all talking about the excitement they had for their sons. Then the Moms boarded his private, 12-seat, twin-jet Dassault Falcon 2000 and took off. Last minute flights through international air space are complicated, but the State Department coordinated everything. The jet touched down at Le Bourget Airport in Paris about 7:30 a.m. local time on Monday and the mothers were rushed to the Presidential Palace in time to hear President Francois Hollande tell their sons, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, that the whole world admires their courage and cool composure. The men have been friends since middle school, and their Moms are friends too, but they would have had watch the ceremony at home on TV without Tim Boyle's generosity. "We're fortunate to be in the position where we can help these families out," said Boyle, "and so that's what we did."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thank you, readers

Believe it or not, this blog has enjoyed over 12,000 page visits since it began last August, including 1,063 in July. It's been read in the United States, France, Brazil, Australia, Costa Rica, Germany, the United Kingdom, Greece, Ireland and India.  Some Crumbs are adapted from the Internet and assumed to be in the public domain, or posted with "Fair Use" in mind (according to the U.S. Copyright Fair Use Act [title 17, U.S. Code]). The blog produces no revenue, and no copyright infringement is intended. If you see something copyrighted that belongs to you and want it removed, please contact me with your name, URL of disputed content, and explanation of how you believe it infringes your copyright, and it will be deleted in obedience to the Golden Rule.

He played his game right

Malyk Bonnet, 17, of Montreal, Canada may have saved a kidnapped woman's life earlier this month, just by following a hunch. On his way home from work, he noticed a couple fighting at his bus stop. "The guy was screaming at her," Bonnet said, so he moved in closer and the couple asked him for help with bus fare to the nearby town of Laval. Concerned for the woman's safety, Bonnet said he lived in Laval too and rode with them, befriending the man along the way. "I played my game," said Bonnet, "and he seemed to trust me." Bonnet didn't know the man was the girl's ex-boyfriend and had taken her against her will. Friends had reported her missing.

                                                                                                                                    Courtesy photo

When they arrived in Laval, Bonnet offered to buy the couple dinner at a local restaurant and gave them a gift of $50. Then he borrowed a cell phone from a stranger (his battery was dead) and called police. When the alleged kidnapper saw him on the phone, he became suspicious, but relaxed when Bonnet said he was just calling a cab. The man was shocked when police arrived a few minutes later. Bonnet was relieved the woman wasn't hurt. "We made eye-contact and she had tears in her eyes," he said. "She was really happy." So were the police. They took up a collection to reimburse him for the money he doled out to keep the couple in his sights, and called him a hero. Bonnet's mother is proud of her son's bravery. "She told me she's going to tell my kids about this one day," he said. "I'm just a normal guy, but I played my game right."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Let's show the world what God can do

You never know who you'll meet in a Christian Science Reading Room. In Palo Alto, CA, you might meet George Pierce, who works there part-time. He's a duathlon (run-bike-run) racer, and he's a champion, despite a 2010 accident that almost ended his career. During a training ride on his bike, Pierce was hit from behind by a car. The next thing he knew, medics were stooped over him asking his name and birth date. At Stanford Hospital he was stabilized and diagnosed with multiple neck and back fractures, but he declined further medical care and within 36 hours he was home.

                                Pierce, 3rd from right, at World Duathlon 2012       George Pierce/Facebook

He didn't recover overnight. He slept in a recliner at first, and sometimes wore a neck brace, but he had great faith that prayer would bring healing. Soon he could take brief walks, and within three months he was running slowly. "When I forgave, that's when healing came faster," he said. "There was no anger, no emotional commitment to the accident. I won't say it was easy. It was hard." Then one day he heard what he describes as an angel message -- "Get ready to race," and in April 2011, one year after the accident, he competed in the Duathlon National Championships in Tucson, AZ, qualifying for the World Championships four months later in Spain. Pierce says the healing recalibrated him. Racing wasn't about winning anymore. It was about "let's show the world and myself who God is, and what God can do."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Is there a Catholic Worker Community near you?

The idea for today's Crumb of Comfort comes from the Herald-Times in Bloomington, IN, where two of my newsroom friends, reporter Lauren Slavin and photographer Chris Howell, discovered a Catholic Worker Community with great generosity, but no Catholics. In a nutshell, a Bloomington couple with three children have opened their home to people with no place to stay. So far, two other homes on their street also welcome the homeless in this Catholic Worker Community where all members are Christian but none (at present) are Catholic and guests are  never proselytized. More than 100 guests have been helped since the Community began seven years ago. The three homes can accommodate up to 21 guests. Some stay overnight; some for years.

                                                                                                                                       Photo by Chris Howell / Herald-Times

How does the community work? One grateful guest puts it this way. "If you ain't got something, and they've got it, they're more than willing to give it to you. If it wasn't for these people, I'd be froze to death or something. To bring homeless people off the streets, to help them, to give them a chance, it's wonderful."

To read the fascinating history of Catholic Worker Communities (going back to the Great Depression) and access a directory of 236 communities across the United States, visit

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The best father-daughter friendship ever?

What is it about girls and their Dads? Or step-Dads, in special cases? When I became a step-Dad, my daughters were starting first and third grade. Today they're both successful adults, but as they grew up we shared moments I remember fondly -- like the moment my second-grader still needed to hold her tennis racket with two hands, but wanted to volley the ball over the net 100 times, forcing me to return all her random hits to her forehand after a gentle bounce. Whew! Or the morning my fourth-grader came downstairs for a breakfast of Fruity Pebbles. I told her, "Guess what! Last night, Libya invaded Chad." She paused before asking, "Libya Newton John? Who's Chad?"

 The girls and I went to summer camp together; we went trick-or-treating together; we ate donuts together on Saturday mornings and pizza on Saturday nights, shared bedtime stories and seldom missed Sunday School. But I have one regret. Even though one was a tap-dancer and the other a gymnast, we never danced together. I didn't realize this until watching the 5-minute video linked here. Yes, it's sponsored by Quaker Oats and you'll notice some product placement, but please watch it anyway. It touched my heart, and I bet it will touch yours too.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Officer Dad adopts unadoptable child

As reported in People magazine and on the Spartanburg Sheriff's Office Web page, School District 6 in Spartanburg County, SC, has a uniformed policeman -- called a School Resource Officer -- in every school. The officer assigned to the Child Development Center is Master Deputy Mike Gibson. Students think of him as their friend, but one little boy needed more. (We'll call him Billy, not his real name.)  Billy began calling Gibson Officer Dad, and then just Dad. Gibson found Billy had been abused and was floating from one foster home to another. Because of behavior problems, experts felt Billy was unadoptable, but Gibson disagreed. He believed Billy was "something God put in my path. I feel that God's telling me we can help this one."

                                                                                                                          Photo courtesy of WYFF

In 2014, Gibson and his wife went through months of classes to be certified to become Billy's foster parents. Then the Gibsons, who already have three children, adopted him. What happened next? "Between us, the stability he had at home and in class, he was able to literally thrive," Gibson says. Gibson's wife Kimber agrees Billy is "as normal and sweet as any child you'd ever meet." Now six years old, Billy was named a "Terrific Kid" at school. Thank you, Officer Dad!

Friday, August 21, 2015

When kids love their Mom, others do too

Michelle Garn, 42, of Potterville, MI, had a stroke 13 years ago. Since then, the Mom of three has been confined to a wheelchair. Her disability hasn't made her a worse parent. According to her kids, she's the best Mom in the world. But money is short, and she's been ferrying them to games and sports and friends' homes in a 15-year-old van which is rusting away. Hoping to help, her son Brendan, 17, entered an essay contest for National Mobility Awareness Month praising his Mom. First prize was a new van, but he didn't win. Since he made the finals, he was written up in the Lansing State Journal, and his story was seen by Tom Kolassa, chair of the Olivet College Board of Trustees. Tom wanted Michelle to know, "You didn't win this contest, but you are first place in somebody's heart." Neither Michelle, her son Brendan or her 13-year-old daughter Robin expected what happened next. As you can see from this photo, Robin cried.

    "Words can't describe how happy I am. It's so nice," said Robin. Photo by Dave Wasinger

What brought her to tears was a 2014 handicapped accessible Chrysler Town & Country van with only 15,000 miles on it. Tom purchased it for $45,000 and gave it to Robin's Mom. They all remember the day he delivered his gift. Jason Babcock, sales manager for Freedom Motors, gave the family a gas gift card and showed Michelle the van's features including the new hydraulic ramp.

"Oh my gosh," she said. "It's beautiful! I don't know how to thank you." Brendan added, "That someone would actually do this. It's unbelievable." To meet the Garn family and read the essay which inspired Tom to donate the van, visit

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Maybe we should all do this?

Brooke Oacha of Texas went to a restaurant for lunch this month and saw an elderly lady approaching from a distance, so she paused and held the door open for her. The lady thanked Brooke, and then asked the hostess for a "table for one." Brooke hesitated a moment, but then gathered her courage and approached the lady. She said, "I'm eating by myself too. Would you like to have lunch together?" The older woman was thrilled. Here they are.

                                                                                                           Courtesy photo
The lady's name is Delores. She lived with her Mom and her aunt for the past ten years, but her Mom recently passed away and her aunt was put in a nursing home. She's had a hard time being alone. They had a wonderful talk over lunch. According to Brooke, "she just kept smiling and saying 'thank you' and listening to me, which made me smile too. Her words healed my heart as much as I healed her lonely one. (Asking to join her for lunch) was the best decision I've made all year!!!" But there's more. Brooke and Delores plan to have lunch together every Thursday from now on.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why not send Cameron a birthday gift?

Cameron Carlyle is a junior at The Villages Charter High School in Florida this fall. Her birthday is September 16, and she'd like a gift from you. No need to buy her an iPhone or a Jeep. She just wants cash to send to her friends at Nkawie Government Hospital near Kumasi, Ghana. Two summers ago, she and her Mom volunteered there as part of Projects Abroad. Cameron admits she didn't enjoy life in Ghana at first, but it grew on her. " There's no pavement, no air-conditioning and no toilets," she said, "but the people make up for it. I gave a little girl a pencil and she started to cry because she was so happy. From then on, I had the greatest time in my life." But one thing bothered her at the hospital where she worked.

                                                                       Cameron Carlyle             photo by Bill Mitchell, Daily Sun

When a mother in labor needs an emergency C-section, and this happens three or four times each day, she must be rolled on a gurney outside and down a stone path to another building a football field away. So Cameron decided to expand the maternity ward. The new building, which hospital officials named the Cameron Ausley Carlyle Maternity Theatre, contains an operating room plus additional beds, a bathroom, a scrub room, a nurses' station and a room to hold an incubator for premature babies. Last September Cameron asked for donations instead of birthday gifts and received over $1,000. Her Web site, "Cameron Cares," raised $4,320 in less than one week toward her goal of $16,000, and checks keep coming in. The new facility is built, but not yet fully utilized. Even so, when Cameron returned to volunteer again last summer, a chief tribal member gave her the title "Queen of Development." To see a gallery of photos of Cameron at the hospital, visit  You can also use this Web page to send her a birthday gift.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Child sucked into tornado survives

It happened in Alabama the spring of 2011. Reginald and Danielle Epps and their three sons, Reginald Jr. (RJ), 8, James, 6, and Joel, 4, were watching TV when they saw warnings of an approaching tornado. Reginald got some flashlights and they were all in the kitchen when they heard the wind. As Reginald shouted at RJ to come with them into the bedroom, the walls and roof came apart and RJ floated up inside the tornado.

RJ Epps (left front) visiting Disney World with his family.

Reginald remembered, "I got down on top of James while Danielle got on top of Joel to protect them. We held on and prayed for our lives. Danielle was saying 'God protect us! God protect us!" and I told James in his ear, 'It's OK buddy. I'm here for you.'"

Thirty seconds later the tornado was gone. Their house was totally destroyed. "When it settled down, I could see this dark silhouette walking towards us and realized it was RJ. I couldn't believe it," Reginald said. The boy was taken to the hospital but suffered only scratches. He told the nurse he floated up into the tornado and floated back down. He saw his parents' flashlights and started walking toward their light. Reginald thinks his son's return is incredible. "RJ could have been anywhere by now," he said.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The story of the water angel

Darlene Arviso, a 50-year-old grandmother, is known to her friends as the water angel. Born on the Navajo reservation, she grew up hauling water home from the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission in New Mexico, and that's not unusual. Would you believe sixty-thousand (60,000) Navajos living on the reservation have no running water? Darlene drives a school bus on weekday mornings and afternoons, but while classes are in session, she drives St. Bonaventure's new water truck, known to locals as the Yellow Buffalo.

                                                                                                                                Photo by Sarah Tory
Where reservation water mains end, the Yellow Buffalo begins. It delivers water to 250 homes. Darlene can usually visit ten homes a day, so the 400 gallons each home receives must last a month. By comparison, you probably use 400 gallons in four days. If bad weather prevents water delivery, and snow can't be melted, some people drink from livestock troughs, even though the water often makes them sick.

In fact, Darlene does much more than deliver water. She's a link between far-flung homes. She gives her cell number to all her clients and sometimes they call her asking for help. Some need food, or extra blankets in winter, or just a friend to talk with. Darlene says, "Sometimes, I just pray with them."

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Good advice for all husbands!

From the American Civil War until the Roaring 20's most men wore pocket watches. Wrist watches became fashionable after WWI, but pocket watches still made ideal gifts, since they could be personalized with a photo or engraving, like the ones shown here.

A story is told of a couple who were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. The husband was asked to reveal the secret of successful marriage.  He explained that he grew up in an orphanage and worked hard for everything he got. He had no time to date girls until Sarah swept him off his feet. She was the only girl he ever dated, and eventually she managed to get him to propose to her.

On their wedding day, Sarah's Dad took the new groom aside and gave him a small gift. He promised, "Within this gift is all you need to know to have a happy marriage." The nervous young man hastily unwrapped the gift. It was a large, golden pocket watch. Across the cover of the watch a five-word reminder had been engraved -- a reminder he would see whenever he checked the time. The five words were, "Say something nice to Sarah." Husbands, how often have you checked the time today?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Maybe it's time to let go?

To let go is not to care for, but to care about.
To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To let go is not to judge, but to let another be human.
To let to is not to arrange others' outcomes, but to allow others to arrange their own.
To let go is not to be protective, but to let others learn the hard way.

To let go is not to deny, but to accept.
To let go is not to scold, but to find my own faults and correct them.
To let go is not to regulate everyone else, but to regulate myself.
To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.
To let go is to fear less....and love more.

Friday, August 14, 2015

In case you missed recent posts

When a faithful reader from Redlands, CA, asked why there were no new "crumbs" for the past two days, I explained that travel prevented me from getting around to it.  To remedy this, he sent the gift pictured here, which I now re-gift to you in case you ever have the same problem.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Daughter's love helps save her Dad

Diana Kim, 30, grew up on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Her Dad owned a camera shop where she learned to love photography. After her parents separated, he drifted away and she bounced between relatives' homes, but never lost her love of photography. As a student in 2003, she launched a multi-year photo project about Hawaii's homeless, and in 2012 she found her Dad among the folks she was documenting. Suffering from schizophrenia, he refused to take medicine, eat, or bathe. He would not speak or make eye-contact with her, but for a few years she sat with him on the streets again and again, fearing he would die. "I would sit there and pray quietly, just asking for a miracle," she said. Here's how he looked.

                                                                                  August, 2014, by Diana Kim

Finally he suffered a heart attack and someone called the police. Under hospital care he stabilized and his mental health conditions were addressed. Diana believes the heart attack saved his life. She says he did many things that hurt her as she grew up, "but I have chosen to forgive him so we can move forward." Today her Dad has hopes and goals again. He's planning to visit his family in South Korea. Diana knows prayers can be answered and miracles can happen. She says, "So long as we are alive in this world, every day is an opportunity to take hold of that 'second chance.' There is no failure unless you give up, and I haven't given up on him." Here they are today.

                                                                                                                                      Courtesy Diana Kim

Monday, August 10, 2015

As high school football practice begins again in the US

Dear Coach,
I just read your letter to my son and us (his parents) telling of your expectations for athletes on your team. John's mother and I couldn't agree more, since we've long recognized the value of high school athletics. Judging from your record, you understand the game well, and that's important. But there's another phase of coaching that's even more important. Let me explain. John's mother and I are loaning you our most prized possession. During the next four years, our son will make you one of our prime dinner table conversations. He'll tell us about your emotional half-time talk when you came from behind to beat Rivaltown. We'll hear about how you can still pass and kick the football. While we hear this, our son's eyes will shine. You see, Coach, he'll idolize you.

                                                                                                                                   Courtesy photo

Kids don't have many heroes anymore. Some professional athletes sell their souls for a buck. Some coaches make negative news. You're our son's hero. We're relying on you. His muscles are nearly developed but his mind is still impressionable, so your responsibility is great. He'll never forget you, Coach, so impress him with courage to do his best!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A crumb from the Turkish Syrian border

So far, Turkey has welcomed nearly two million refugees from Syria. Four thousand are camping in the Turkish city of Kilis, near the Syrian border. Turks in Kilis see the refugees every day, and know how hard it is to be homeless. Some local residents have decided to help by inviting their Syrian brothers to attend Turkish wedding suppers.  When Fethullah Uzumcuoglu and his bride Esra Polat got married in Kilis in July, they invited Syrian refugees to eat with them.

                                                                                                                                   Photo: @kimseyokmu
The couple pooled the money received from their families to host a party for refugees living in the city. According to the groom's father, "God willing, this will lead others to do the same and give food to our Syrian brothers and sisters. For us, it was an interesting wedding dinner." The groom said, "Seeing the happiness in the eyes of the refugee children was just priceless. We started our journey to happiness by making others happy, and that's a great thing." He added that his friends were so inspired that they hope to do the same thing at their wedding celebrations.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dump picker wins Peace Prize

Since this blog now enjoys readers from as far away as Saudi Arabia, Australia, Russia and France, we will sometimes reach beyond the United States to find "Crumbs of Comfort." Today's crumb comes from Cavite City in the Philippines. That's where Cris "Kesz" Valdez' father forced him from age two to scavenge dump sites. He used any money his son found to buy drugs and alcohol. and beat him if he came home empty-handed. At age four, Kesz ran away, sleeping with other kids in an open tomb in the cemetery. Three years later, while scavenging a dump site, he fell into burning tires and was injured. A social worker named Harnin Manalaysay rescued him, nursed him back to health and adopted him. Kesz never had a birthday party until 2005, when he was seven. He refused any presents for himself, giving small gifts to street children instead.  When still a pre-teen, he organized a charity called Championing Community Children. As shown here, Kesz distributes "hope gifts" including clothes, toothbrushes, flip flops and toys to street kids. So far his organization has distributed over 10,000 "hope gifts."

                                                Kesz dresses a homeless child's leg injury.                        Courtesy photo

In 2012, Kesz' work was recognized by the International Children's Peace Prize, granting $130,000 to invest in his program. He received the award from Desmond Tutu. Accepting the prize, Kesz spoke to homeless children around the world. "Our health is our wealth! Being healthy will enable you to play, think clearly, get up and go to school, and love the people around you." Now 16, Kesz wants to be a doctor and give other street children the love he received from his adopted Dad, Harnin Manalaysay. "I want children of the streets to get the same chance I had," he says. To watch a brief inspiring video about Kesz, visit

Friday, August 7, 2015

A miracle mother's day gift

Mother's Day fell on a Sunday in 1992. Surgical nurse Deanna Murray, 28, was working the day shift at the Medical Center of Central Massachusetts in Worcester. Her husband Michael, 27, was home with their two children, 3-month old Matthew and his 20-month-old sister. Around noon, Michael decided to take the kids to the hospital to give Deanna some Mother's Day gifts -- a necklace and a single rose. Then he carried the both children back to the indoor garage where his '87 Hyundai was parked. Matthew was already in his car seat, so Michael set him temporarily on the roof while strapping his daughter into her seat. Then, forgetting Matthew was still in his seat on the roof, Michael drove slowly out of the dark garage and through the streets of Worcester. NOBODY BEEPED to warn him something was wrong. He accelerated onto I-290 and was going about 50 miles per hour when he heard a scraping on the roof. "You could hear it slide," he said. "I looked where he should have been. Then I looked in the rear view mirror and saw him sliding down the highway." That's when an angel appeared. His name was James Boothbay, 67, a retired antiques dealer. James was driving behind Michael and doesn't like to tailgate, so he saw what he assumed was a doll slide off the Hyundai. He saw the car seat bounce a few times, but never tip over. When the "doll" opened its mouth, James quickly stopped and angled his car to block traffic. By then, Michael was backing up, and they both found baby Matthew unharmed. Even the car seat was undamaged. Michael told James, "When the police arrive, tell them I went to the hospital." He knew it would be best to break the news to his wife very gently, so he asked her to come down the hall to the emergency room under the pretense that "Matthew has fallen." She ran down the hall, and when she heard the full story, she said "nurses had to sit me down and hold me. It's a miracle. It really is."
State trooper Mario Tovar agreed. "The doctors gave him a good bill of health. He's a miracle baby. What a Mother's Day gift!"

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sometimes kindness can change a life

Sometimes simple kindness can make a giant difference in a child's life. It happened recently to a little boy in Wisconsin. Brock suffers with Autism and impulsivity control issues. He's making progress, but he seldom smiles. His goal is life is to be a policeman, and he broke into a grin one day when his Mom went to the police station to pay a parking ticket. One of the officers made the effort to show Brock around the station, smiling all the time. He patiently answered all Brock's questions, like "why do cops have refrigerators?" Before leaving the station, Brock told the officer he was his hero. But what Brock wanted most of all was a photo of himself with a policeman, to hang on the wall of his room. Now he has one, and here's how it happened.

                                                                                                                           Courtesy photo

About three weeks later, an officer and his dog responded to a call in Brock's neighborhood. Believe it or not, Brock waited patiently for about an hour until the officer was finished. Then he started to approach the officer. He got scared and hesitated a few times, but kept going, saying "Oh my gosh, I'm really doing this, Mom!" Mustering all his courage, he asked Officer Morgel for a photo, along with K-9 officer Riko. Because officer Morgel was incredibly patient and truly listened to Brock instead of brushing him off, Brock has his dream photo, and is smiling more every day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Indiana State Police incident

Dwayne Ellrich probably knew he was exceeding the speed limit on I-65 last month, especially when he saw the flashing lights of a state police car in his rear view mirror. Dwayne was taking his daughter Ashley to a Special Olympics event where she would be a participant. They were both nervous when Trooper Darrick Scott approached their car. Would they get a ticket, or a warning?

                                                                                                       Dwayne Ellrich/Facebook          

"When I pulled them over, I could see they were both uncomfortable," said Scott. "I wanted to make them more relaxed, so I went over to Ashley's window and gave her my hat." He offered to make her a state trooper for five minutes, and told her it was her duty to decide if her Dad should get a ticket. He recalled that "she thought about it, and then surprised me by saying yes."

But Scott didn't give her Dad a ticket. Instead, "I read him the warning and added that Ashley would be monitoring his speed." Later, Dwayne posted the incident on Facebook, crediting the trooper with reminding him to hit the brakes. "There are some great cops out there," he wrote. An ISP public information officer replied with a Facebook post, "We are extra glad that Ashley is on our side!"

Monday, August 3, 2015

Worst Day Ever?

Meet Chanie Gorkin, a sociable, studious senior this fall at all-girls Beth Rivkah High School in Brooklyn, NY.  Last November a teacher assigned her to write a theme on the topic, "Worst Day Ever." As an Orthodox Jew, Chanie doesn't believe in worst days, so instead she wrote a verse which teaches about finding the good hidden in every moment. Her Mom explains one of the major tenets of Hasidic philosophy is that "there is God in everything and it's part of our mission in life to look for the good." Her poem earned an "A" and appeared in an anthology, where it was forgotten until last month. While Chanie worked as a camp counselor without internet access, it suddenly went viral. Enjoyed by thousands on social media, it's been translated into Russian, Chinese, Hebrew and Italian and featured on ABC and NBC. If it lifts your heart, feel free to share this post.

Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don't try to convince me that
There's something good in every day
Because when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don't last.
And it's not true that
Its all in the mind and heart
True happiness can be attained
Only if one's surroundings are good
It's not true that good exists
I'm sure you can agree that
The reality
My attitude
It's all beyond my control
And you'll never in a million years hear me say
Today was a very good day.

Now read from the bottom up and see what I really feel about my day.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Blessings often boomerang

The Bible promises that blessings can boomerang. We read in Ecclesiastes, "Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days," or as one wag translates it, "Cast thy bread upon the waters, and it shall return to you as ham sandwiches." Kayla Lane, 20, knows about ham sandwiches. She's a waitress at the West Side Cafe in Fort Worth, TX. Two of her regular customers are Debbie and Shaun Riddle. Kayla hadn't seen them for a few weeks, and when they returned for lunch, she learned they just lost their nine-week-old daughter Glory to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Kayla depends on her waitress salary to pay her way through the University of Texas at Arlington where she majors in Education, but she decided to cover the couple's tab anyway. When their check arrived, it said, "Your ticket has been paid for. We are terribly sorry for your loss." What inspired her to do this? "I did it because it was amazing to see their strength," she said. "They still prayed before their meal and everything." The Riddles were deeply touched, but that's not all.

                       From left, Shaun and Debbie Riddle and Kayla Lane.       Courtesy photo

After they got home, Debbie realized how hard it must be to attend college and work full-time. She said everyone at the West Side Cafe "is so nice and friendly. They just really care." Then she found a onesie Glory had received from her Grandma. It said, "Kisses, 25 cents. I'm saving for college." Debbie knew she'd never see Glory go to college, but then she remembered Kayla and decided to launch a fund to help all student employees at the Cafe, with Kayla receiving the first scholarship. Debbie launched a GoFundMe page in Glory's memory, and in the first 19 days it received $2,900 from 73 donors, including a $500 donation from Tracey Sanford, owner of West Side Cafe.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

They don't teach this in nursing school

Matt Hickling is a nurse at Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer in Albany, NY. Last month he was told one of his patients, named Abby, wanted to marry him. Whenever Abby visits the center for treatment, she looks for Matt and eventually they bonded. With consent of the family, he described the ceremony on Facebook, with photos. His bride is four years old.

When news of the nuptials got out, most of the Melodies Center staff decided to attend. A friend loaned Matt a fancy tuxedo T-shirt, and others provided Abbey with a white dress to wear over her regular clothes. Enchanted Garden Florists donated fresh flowers. The staff hummed the wedding march as Abby walked down the aisle over rose petals. Her Mom gave her away. Her physician, Dr. Jennifer Pearce, officiated, but no sooner had she said "We are gathered together..." than Abby took over. She turned to Matt and asked, "will you marry me?" "Of course I will," he said, and they sealed their vows with a hug and two ring pops. Then Matt pushed Abby down the corridor in a pink toy car with a "Just Married" sign and cans tied to the back. Soon they returned to the wedding room for cake and photos, and Dr. Lauren Silverman showed Abby how to push a piece of wedding cake into Matt's face. Matt gave Abbey a framed wedding photo, and she said, "this is the best day ever." She has 18 more months of treatment, and Matt hopes she'll remember the wedding and smile when times are tough. He knows he will too. Abby's Mom knew the Melodies Center staff are creative and thoughtful, but she said "I never expected all of this. We're grinning from ear to ear."