Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Folded Napkin ... A Truckers Story


I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie. He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued sp
eech of Downs Syndrome.

I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade. The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck stop germ" the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks.

I shouldn't have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot. After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table.

Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and glasses onto cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag. If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home. That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work.

He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome often have heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine. Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news. Bell Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of this 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table. Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a withering look.

He grinned. "OK, Frannie, what was that all about?" he asked.

"We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay."

"I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?"

Frannie quickly told Bell Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery, then sighed: "Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be OK," she said. "But I don't know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is." Belle Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables.

Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do. After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.

"What's up?" I asked.

"I didn't get that table where Bell Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off," she said. "This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup."

She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed "Something For Stevie.

Pony Pete asked me what that was all about," she said, "so I told him about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this." She handed me another paper napkin that had "Something For Stevie" scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds.

Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply: "truckers."

That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work. His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called 10 times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy.

I arranged to have his mother bring him to work. I then met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back. Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting.

"Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast," I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. "Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate you coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me!"

I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room. I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins.

"First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess," I said. I tried to sound stern. Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had "Something for Stevie" printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table.

Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother.

"There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. "Happy Thanksgiving,"

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well. But you know what's funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table. Best worker I ever hired.

Plant a seed and watch it grow. At this point, you can bury this inspirational message or forward it fulfilling the need! If you shed a tear, hug yourself, because you are a compassionate person.

Well.. Don't just sit there! Share this story!

Keep it going, this is a good one!

Friday, October 26, 2012


 

 
"The Lord directs the steps of the GodlyHe delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand" (Psalm 37:23-24 NLT).


                                    Isaiah 65:24

This is a story written by a doctor who worked in Africa .  
One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died, leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive; as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator).

We also had no special feeding facilities. 


Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in. 


Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates).. 


'And it is our last hot water bottle!' she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in   Central Africa
 
it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. 


They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways. 


'All right,' I said, 'put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts Your job is to keep the baby warm.'


The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough,mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. 


During prayer time, one ten -year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. 'Please, God' she prayed, 'Send us a hot water bottle today It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.' 


While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, 'And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?' 


As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say 'Amen?' I just did not believe that God could do this. 


Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in   Africa  for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home. 


Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator! 


Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there on the verandah was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children.. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly.  Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box.  From the top, I lifted out brightly-colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - that would make a batch of buns for the weekend.


Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the.....could it really be? 


I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, a brand new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried. 


I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could. 


Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, 'If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!'


Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully-dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted! 


Looking up at me, she asked, 'Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?'


'Of course,' I replied! 


That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. 


And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it 'that afternoon.' 


'Before they call, I will answer.' (Isaiah 65:24) 


When you receive this, say the prayer. That's all I ask. No strings attached. Just send it on to whomever you want - but do send it on.

Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost, but a lot of rewards. Let's continue praying for one another.  


This awesome prayer takes less than a minute. 


Heavenly Father, I ask you to bless my friends reading this. I ask You to minister to their spirit. Where there is pain, give them Your peace and mercy. Where there is self doubting, release a renewed confidence to work through them Where there is tiredness or exhaustion, I ask You to give them understanding, guidance, and strength. Where there is fear, reveal our love and release to them Your courage.. Bless their finances, give them greater vision, and raise up leaders and friends to support and encourage them.  I ask You to do these things in Jesus' name. Amen

P. S. Passing this on to anyone you consider a friend will bless you both. Passing this on to one not considered a friend is something Christ would do.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30

So, did you think i dropped off the end of the world? Well, i guess in a sense i did. Mom and i sadly but determinedly set off for Mom's favorite cousin Luise Boese's funeral on Tuesday, August which was held at Linden on the 16th. We traveled through from home to Three Hills Diamond Inn motel that day, stopping occasionally. Wednesday morning we visited her Aunt Helen in the Linden Nursing Home, Aunt Joan Barkman at her place, stopped to see the Fabric Store and saw another friend before meeting with Heather and Aunt Joan for lunch in Linden. After lunch we went back to the motel for rests before the family supper and service for Luise. Well, i think within an hour, 911 had been called, and shortly thereafter was taken to the hospital with excruciating pain. After a sleepless night, a transfer to the Red Deer Hospital for a CT scan was ordered. By 6:30 that night Mom was in surgery. She had had a blood clot to the colon, which caused the colon to die. Peter & Karen got to Red Deer that night, and we have been making the Holiday Inn Express our home. i am happy to say she made it through surgery, and by the prayers of friends and relatives she has made it this far. Truly we saw prayers answered not only daily, but hourly. She is still in ICU where we expect she might be for a few days/weeks depending on how things go. She is off of the ventilator, and they are hoping to have her moving soon. So that's where we have been/are. Thanks so much hardly seems enough to say for all that has been done for us. So for now i'll just say God has been good to us. Thanks for the prayers, and we ask for continued prayer. The nurses and doctors for the most part have been awesome instruments in God's hands, and we can not say enough about the care she has had so far. God Bless.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Say I Love You Now



i got this in a post from Amanda Stephan at Sisters in Cahoots  and wanted to share

I received this in an email from my loverly (yes, I said loverly) daughter. It was too poignant not to share. I hope it's a blessing to you today.

One day a woman's husband died, and on that clear, cold morning, in the warmth of their bedroom, the wife was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't "anymore". No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat, no more "just one minute."

Sometimes, what we care about the most gets all used up and goes away, never to return before we can say good-bye, say "I love you."

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


Some things we keep -- like a best friend who moved away or a sister-in-law after divorce. There are just some things that make us happy, no matter what.
Life is important, like people we know who are special.. And so, we keep them close!


 Suppose one morning you never wake up, 
do all your friends know you love them?


Let every one of your friends know you love them. Even if you think they don't love you back. And just in case I'm gone tomorrow:



I Love You, My Bloggy Friends!!!



Live today because tomorrow is not promised.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Magnolias....a rerun of a beautiful story

I am sharing a post i received via email tonight. It is a story that has been circulated before, and will be again. Sorry no idea who wrote it.

MAGNOLIAS - I really hope all of you will read this.
 

I was getting ready for my daughter June's wedding which was taking place
in a church about forty miles away, and felt loaded with responsibilities as
I watched my budget dwindle..... So many details, so many bills, and so little
time.

My son Jack said he would walk his younger sister down the aisle, taking the
place of his dad who had died a few years before. He teased Patsy, saying
he'd wanted to give her away since she was about three years old!

To save money, I gathered blossoms from several friends who had large
magnolia trees. Their luscious, creamy-white blooms and slick green leaves
would make beautiful arrangements against the rich dark wood inside the
church.

The big day arrived - the busiest day of my life - and while her bridesmaids
helped Patsy to dress, her fiancé Tim walked with me to the sanctuary to do
a final check. When we opened the door and felt a rush of hot air, I almost
fainted; and then I saw them - all the beautiful white flowers were black.
Funeral black. An electrical storm during the night had knocked out the air
conditioning system, and on that hot summer day, the flowers had wilted
and died.

I panicked, knowing I didn't have time to drive back to our hometown, gather
more flowers, and return in time for the wedding and I certainly didn't have
extra money to buy a new set from the florist in town.

Tim turned to me. 'Edna, can you get more flowers? I'll throw away these
dead ones and put fresh flowers in these arrangements.'
I mumbled, 'Sure,' as he be-bopped down the hall to put on his cuff links.

Alone in the large sanctuary, I looked up at the dark wooden beams in the
arched ceiling. 'Lord,' I prayed, 'please help me. I don't know anyone in
this town. Help me find someone willing to give me flowers - in a hurry!'
I scurried out praying for the blessing of white magnolias.

As I left the church, I saw magnolia trees in the distance. I approached a
house.... no dog in sight.... knocked on the door and an older man answered.
So far so good. No shotgun. When I stated my plea the man beamed....
'I'd be happy to!'

He climbed a stepladder and cut large boughs and handed them down to me.
Minutes later, as I lifted the last armload into my car trunk, I said, 'Sir,
you've made the mother of a bride happy today.'

No, Ma'am,' he said. 'You don't understand what's happening here.'

'What?' I asked.

'You see, my wife of sixty-seven years died on Monday. On Tuesday I
received friends at the funeral home, and on Wednesday..... He paused.
I saw tears welling up in his eyes. 'On Wednesday I buried her.' He looked
away. 'On Thursday most of my out-of-town relatives went back home, and
on Friday - yesterday - my children left.'

I nodded.

'This morning,' he continued, 'I was sitting in my den crying out loud. I
miss her so much. For the last sixteen years, as her health got worse, she
needed me. But now nobody needs me. This morning I cried, 'Who needs
an eighty-six-year-old wore-out man? Nobody!' I began to cry louder.
'Nobody needs me!'

About that time, you knocked, and said, 'Sir, I need you.'

I stood with my mouth open. He asked, 'Are you an angel? I assured him
I was no angel.

He smiled. 'Do you know what I was thinking when I handed you those
magnolias?'

'No.'

'I decided I'm needed. My flowers are needed. Why, I might have a flower
ministry! I could give them to everyone! Some caskets at the funeral home
have no flowers. People need flowers at times like that and I have lots of
them. They're all over the backyard! I can give them to hospitals, churches
- all sorts of places. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to serve
the Lord until the day He calls me home!'

I drove back to the church, filled with wonder. On Patsy's wedding day, if
anyone had asked me to encourage someone who was hurting, I would have
said, 'Forget it! It's my only daughter's wedding, for goodness' sake! There
is no way I can minister to anyone today.'

But God found a way. Through dead flowers. 'Life is not the way it's
supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes
the difference.'

If you have missed knowing me, you have missed nothing.
If you have missed some of my emails, you may have missed a laugh.

But, if you have missed knowing God you have missed everything in the world!!
He can be your everything. May God's blessings be upon you.

THIS IS SO TRUE.... BEING NEEDED IS SO UPLIFTING TO EACH OF US.
  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 17, 2012

First of all, Happy Father's Day to all the Dads and dad figures out there. Just as someone can have a mother's heart without having children, so you can have a father heart without children.

It's a rainy afternoon here in the Three Hills/Linden/Swalwell area. How totally blessed we were though that the rain stayed away and the sun shone warmly this morning, and through the graveside service for Aunt Anna Baerg. It was only after while we sat downstairs at the church having lunch with the family that the skies opened up and it rained.

i didn't post last weekend, but i had brought Mom down then, too and we visited family and loved ones in this area, including Aunt Anna, who knew us, but did not respond well. Actually Mom and i came down Thursday, bringing Karen along to see her family as well. We stopped at Barrhead to drop her off at her sister Kim's and then carried on, stopping at Innisfail to see Mom's aunt Helen who turned 100 years young in February before going to Three Hills for the night. Friday we went to Red Deer to see her cousin Luise who lost her husband in May, stopped in Innisfail to see Aunt Helen again, then to Linden to see Aunt Anna. That was a rough day for Mom, seeing those three in the same day. Saturday we saw friends and family in the Linden area, Sunday we took Helen Rose to see her mom in Innisfail, than came back to Linden to visit more. Monday morning we met Karen, her mom and sister and niece for breakfast in Linden and left for home. We met Peter in Fahler, had supper in Eaglesham and were very happy to get home that night.  Either that night or Tuesday we were told Aunt Anna had been moved to palliative care, and she passed away Wednesday.
Friday afternoon Mom and i were on the road to Linden again. It is so great to have a place like the Diamond Inn - Best Western to stay in at Three Hills when we com to the area. Today has been tiring, although Aunt Anna was 95 years old (or young?) and was more than ready to go home. It is really a day of reunion...meeting cousins and friends we hadn't seen, since perhaps 8 years ago when Uncle Peter Baerg passed away.
Now we're taking a break from family. Peter and Karen arrived last night, but left for home just a bit ago. i brought Mom and Aunt Doris (Uncle Abe's widow from Abbotsford, B.C.) to the motel for naps. We plan on going to the Swalwell Hall for 6:00 for supper and memories with the family.

As for life on the Barkman Farms? We have all but 200 acres seeded into either canola, wheat or barley. The 200 acres is hopefully drying this weekend, so we can put canola in there yet. The 200 acres of fescue we had last year will be sprayed out and we plan on seeding that to winter wheat.
Our canola from last year has all be hauled to the elevator, and this last week and next we have wheat to haul to the elevator, and spraying for weeds to do. We don't have a garden, not this year nor last year, and perhaps we will put our garden spot into something else. We do have our flower gardens for when we need garden therapy, and i have strawberry plants. As for fresh produce? we have market gardens and farmer's markets to keep us supplied. And we don't need make work projects.
Now that i've talked your ears off, i will close. Have a great week.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 30, 2012

Last night we had our first thunderstorm of the year, And was it impressive. With it, came a little rain. Just enough rain to shut down the seeding. It came in fast, from the east, and within 10 minutes of rain, the to the field i was working on was nigh onto impassible with an SUV.  Maybe 15 minutes later  it reached the west field where Peter and Karen were working with the new-to-us seeder. We did get about 200 acres closer to being done this week, and with two units going, it should only be a few more days till we're done for the season. The wheat is all in, only canola and barley left.
The dogs certainly wanted to be close to a human during the storm. These farm dogs suddenly thought they were lap dogs. So sweet though.
It must be spring - we have found kittens. One kitten wandered away from the security of her litter and got caught where her mother couldn't help, so her mom came to the next best source of help - humans. Once we got her baby out of the tough spot, she was anxious to retrieve her though. This mother "looses" about one or two kittens each year in the same spot. You'd really think she'd find another nest, but it is safe from us unless they fall down the wall.

The other litter i came upon as i was looking for lumber. This one had five, and all darkish in color and the mother was very upset and hissing when i took her babies to show the rest of the family. And shortly after i took them back and put them nicely into their nest, she had found another nest for them.  This year it doesn't look like we'll have any tame ones, and the only way i'll get close is if they think i am a dog! The day is coming along, and today we are going for a breakfast meeting so have a great day!