Skip Navigation Links
Short Stories & tales
A Quiet Man
Carl was a quiet man. He didn't talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.
Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII. Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity.
When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.
He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened. He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him. Ignoring their
attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, "Would you like a drink from the hose?"
The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure," with a malevolent little smile. As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.
Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running
to help him. Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it. "Carl, are you okay? Are
you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet.
Carl just passed hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. "Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise-up someday." His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started
to water. Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?"
"I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately," came the calm reply.
Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.
A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose.
This time they didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand drenched him head to foot in the icy water. When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the
street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done.
Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth-giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.
The summer was quickly fading into fall. Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors
reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack.
"Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna hurt you this time." The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. As he helped Carl get up the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl.
What's this?" Carl asked. "It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. Even the money in your wallet."
"I don't understand," Carl said. "Why would you help me now?"
The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I learned something from you," he said. "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you. We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it. But everytime we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate." He stopped for a moment.
"I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back." He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say.
"That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess." And with that, he walked off down the street.
Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his
wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.
He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather. In particular the minister noticed a tall young man he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church. The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life. In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden.
The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to care for Carl's garden." The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the
minister's office door. Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. "I believe this is my job, if
you'll have me," the young man said.
The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around.
As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him."
The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. In that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as
beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.
One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday."
"Well, congratulations!" said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. "That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?"
"Carl," he replied.
That's the whole gospel message simply stated. Take 60 seconds give this a shot! Let's just see if Satan stops this one. All you you do is:
1. Simply say a small prayer for the person who sent you this, (Father God, bless this person in whatever it is that You know he or she may be
needing this day!)
2. Then send it on to five other people. Within hours five people will have prayed for you, and you will have caused a multitude of people to
pray to God for other people. Then sit back and watch the power of God work in your life for doing the thing that you know He loves.
Contributed by Clay & Peggy Van Doren
I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just Off the corner of the towns square.
The food and the company were both especially good that day.
As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street.
There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back.
He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read,
"I will work for food."
My heart sank. I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him.
Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief.
We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind.
We finished our meal and went our separate >ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them.
I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor.
I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him.
I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car.
Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me:
"Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square."
And so, with some hesitancy, I headed back into town.
As I turned the square's third corner. I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the storefront church, going through his sack. I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on.
The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor
"Looking for the pastor?" I asked. "Not really," he replied, "just resting."
"Have you eaten today?" "Oh, I ate something early this morning."
"Would you like to have lunch with me?"
"Do you have some work I could do for you?"
"No work," I replied. "I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch."
"Sure," he replied with a smile. As he began to gather his things. I asked some surface questions. "Where you headed?""St. Louis."
"Where you from?" "Oh, all over; mostly Florida."
"How long you been walking?" "Fourteen years," came the reply.
I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly
beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and particulation that was startling.
He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said,Jesus is The Never EndingStory."
Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen
years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beachin Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought. He was hired, but the tent
would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly.
He gave his life over to God. "Nothing's been the same since," he said,
"I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now."
"Ever think of stopping?" I asked. "Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me. But God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads."
I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: "What's it like?"! "What?" "To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to >show your sign?"
"Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments.
Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture>that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to
realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me."
My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned to me and said,
"Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for
you. For >when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in." I felt as if we were on holy ground. "Could you use another Bible?" I >asked.
He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite. "I've read through it 14
times," he said."I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see."
I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very rateful. "Where you headed from here?"
"Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park >coupon.">"Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?"
"No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next."
He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him
back to the town-square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we >drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things.
"Would you sign my autograph book?" he asked. "I like to keep messages from folks I meet." I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his
calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left
him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah,
"I know the plans I have for you," declared the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you.
Plans to give you a future and a hope."
"Thanks, man," he said. "I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you."
"I know," I said, "I love you, too."
"The Lord! is good." "Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?" I asked.
"A long time," he replied. And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new
friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed.
He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, "See you in the New
"I'll be there!" was my reply.
He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, "When you
see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"
"You bet," I shouted back, "God bless."
"God bless." And that was the last I saw of him. Late that evening
as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and
reached for the emergency brake, I saw them... a pair of well-worn brown working gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle.
I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night
I remembered his words: "If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"
Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office.
They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his
ministry. "See you in the New Jerusalem," he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will... If this story touched you, forward it to a friend! "I shall
pass this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again." My instructions were to send this to four people that I wanted God to bless and I picked you. This prayer is powerful and there is nothing attached,
prayer is one of the best gifts we receive. There is no cost but a lot of rewards, let's continue to pray for one another. God bless and have
a nice day!
"Father, I ask you to bless my friends, relatives and e-mail buddies
reading this right now. Show them a new revelation of your love and power.
Holy spirit, I ask you to minister to their spirit at this very moment.
Where there is pain, give them your peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence through your grace,
In Jesus'precious Name. Amen."
Contributed by Clay & Peggy Van Doren
REALLY GOOD ADVICE !
Words to Live By
Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.
Eat a live toad in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.
If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
Never buy a car you can't push.
Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you don't have a leg to stand on.
Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
The early worm gets eaten by the bird, so sleep late.
When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
Birthdays are good for you; the more you have, the longer you live.
Ever notice that the people who are late are often much jollier than the people who have to wait for them?
If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?
You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened.
A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
Happiness comes through doors you didn't even know you left open.
Have an awesome day, and know that someone has thought about you today....
...Regards Clay & Peggy
A Chinese Blessing...
A Chinese Blessing...
A water bearer in China had two large pots, each
hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his
One pot had a crack in it, while the other pot was
perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walk from the stream to the
house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the
bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of
water to his house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its
accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But
the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own
imperfection, and miserable that it was able to
accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After 2 years of what it perceived to be a bitter
failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the
"I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side
causes water to leak out! all the way back to your
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that
there were flowers only on your side of the path, but
not on the other pot's side?
That's because I have always known about your flaw,
and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path.
Every day while we walk back, you've watered them. For
two years I have been able to pick these beautiful
flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just
the way you are, there would not be this beauty to
grace the house."
Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all
But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that
make our lives together so very interesting and
rewarding. You've just got to take each person
for what they are, and look for the good in them.
Blessings to all my CRACKPOT friends
Clay Van Doren
The Road of Life
At first, I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn't know Him. But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don't know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since.
When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable it was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds. It was all I could do to hang on!
Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!" I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure, and when I'd say, "I'm scared," He'd lean back and touch my hand. I gained love, peace, acceptance and joy; gifts to take on my journey, My Lord's and mine. And we were off again.
He said, "Give the gifts away. They're extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.
I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it; but he knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten, scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.
And when I'm sure I just can't do it anymore, He just smiles and says... "Pedal."
Whatever your cross
Whatever your pain
There will always be sunshine.
After the rain
Perhaps you may stumble
Perhaps even fall
But God's always there
To help you through it all.
Funny how you can send a thousand "jokes" through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about passing it on.
Funny, isn't it, when you go to forward this message, how many on your buddy list will not receive it because you're not sure they believe in anything? Funny? No!
Sad, and thought-provoking...
May God give you the strength and courage to pass this along to
everyone on your email buddy list....
I JUST DID