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The Hand of a Teacher

Thanksgiving Day was near. The first grade teacher gave her class a fun assignment, to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful.

Most of the class might be considered economically disadvantaged, but still many would celebrate the holiday with turkey and other traditional goodies of the season. These, the teacher thought, would be the subjects of most of her student’s art. And they were.

But Douglas made a different kind of picture. Douglas was a different kind of boy being frail and often unhappy. As other children played at recess, Douglas was likely to stand close by her side. One could only guess at the pain Douglas felt behind those sad eyes.

Yes, his picture was different. When asked to draw a picture of something for which he was thankful, he drew a hand. Nothing else. Just an empty hand.

His abstract image captured the imagination of his peers. Whose hand could it be? One child guessed it was the hand of a farmer, because farmers raise turkeys. Another suggested a police officer, because the police protect and care for people. Still others guessed it was the hand of God, for God feeds us. And so the discussion went, until the teacher almost forgot the young artist himself.

When the children had gone on to other assignments, she paused at Douglas’ desk, bent down, and asked him whose hand it was. The little boy looked away and murmured,

“It’s yours, teacher.”

She recalled the times she had taken his hand and walked with him here or there, as she had the other students. How often had she said, “Take my hand, Douglas, we’ll go outside.” Or, “Let me show you how to hold your pencil.” Or, “Let’s do this together.” Douglas was most thankful for his teacher’s hand.

Brushing aside a tear, she went on with her work.

The story speaks of more than thankfulness. It says something about teachers teaching and parents parenting and friends showing friendship, and how much it means to the Douglases of the world. They might not always say thanks. But they’ll remember the hand that reaches out.
~ Copyright 2004 by Steve Goodier who is publisher of many books as well as a free newsletter on sharing life and love at: http://www.lifesupportsystem.com. This story is used by permission ~

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Riding in a F-14 Tomcat

This is an article written by Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated. He details his experiences when given the chance to fly in the back-seat of an Air Force F-14 Tomcat. Often top ranked U.S. athletes such as John Elway, John Stockton, and Tiger Woods are given this photo opportunity which helps promote both them and the U. S. Navy Air Force.

The U.S. Navy invited me to try it. I was thrilled. I was pumped. My pilot would be Chip (Biff) King of Fighter Squadron 213 at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. Whatever you’re thinking a Top Gun named Biff King looks like, triple it. He’s about six-foot, tan, ice-blue eyes, wavy surfer hair, finger-crippling handshake like the kind of man who wrestles alligators in his leisure time.

Biff King was born to fly. His father, Jack King, was for years the voice of NASA missions. “T-minus 15 seconds and counting.” Remember? Chip would charge neighborhood kids a quarter each to hear his dad.

Biff was to fly me in an F- 14D Tomcat, a ridiculously powerful $60 million weapon. I was worried about getting airsick, so the night before the flight I asked Biff if there were something I should eat the next morning.

“Bananas,” he said.

“For the potassium?” I asked.

“No,” Biff said, “because they taste about the same coming up as they do going down.”

The next morning, out on the tarmac, I had on my flight suit with my name sewn over the left breast. No call sign like Crash or Killer. But, still, very cool. I carried my helmet in the crook of my arm, as Biff had instructed. If ever in my life I had a chance to nail Nicole Kidman, this was it.

A fighter pilot named Psycho gave me a safety briefing and then fastened me into my ejection seat, which, when employed, would “egress” me out of the plane at such a velocity that I would be immediately knocked unconscious.

Just as I was thinking about aborting the flight, the canopy closed over me, and Biff gave the ground crew a thumbs-up. In minutes we were firing nose up at 600 mph.

Those first 20 minutes were the rush of my life. Unfortunately, the ride lasted 60 minutes. It was like being on the roller coaster at Six Flags Over Hell. We did barrel rolls, snap rolls, loops, yanks and banks. We dived, rose and dived again, sometimes with a vertical velocity of 10,000 feet per minute. We chased another F-14, and it chased us.

We broke the speed of sound. Flying at 200 feet above the sea we did 90-degree turns at 550 mph, creating a G force of 6.5, which is to say I felt as if 6.5 times my body weight was smashing against me.

And I egressed the bananas. And I egressed the pizza from the night before. And I egressed a box of Milk Duds from the sixth grade. I went through not one airsick bag, but two.

I thought I used to know “cool.” But now I really know “cool.” Cool are guys like Biff, men with cast-iron stomachs. I wouldn’t go up there again for Derek Jeter’s black book, but I’m glad Biff does every day, and for less a year than a rookie pitching reliever makes in a single game.

A week later Biff called. He said he and the other fighter pilots had the perfect call sign for me. Said he’d send it on a new patch for my flight suit.

What is it? I asked in excitement. Then he gave it to me…

“Two Bags.”

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The $25,000 Idea

In 1912 efficiency expert Ivy Lee met with his prospective client, Charles Schwab who was President of Bethlehem Steel, and outlined how his organization could benefit the company. Lee ended his presentation by saying:

“With our service, you’ll know how to manage better.” Schwab then stated:

“We don’t need more ‘knowing’ but need more ‘doing.’ If you can give us something to help us do the things we already know we ought to do, I’ll gladly pay you anything within reason you ask.”

“I can give you something in twenty minutes that will step up your doing at least fifty percent,” Lee answered.

“Okay”, Schwab said, “show me.”

Lee then handed Schwab a blank sheet of paper and said:

“Write down the six most important tasks you have to do tomorrow in order of their importance. The first thing tomorrow morning look as item one and start working on it until it is finished.”

“Then tackle item two in the same way; and so on. Do this until quitting time. Don’t be concerned if you have only finished one or two. Take care of emergencies, but then get back to working on the most important items. The others can wait.”

“Make this a habit every working day. Pass it on to those under you. Try it as long as you like, then send me your check for what you think it’s worth.”

In a few weeks, Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000 with a letter stating that he learned a profitable lesson.

After five years this plan was largely responsible for turning the unknown Bethlehem Steel Company into the biggest independent steel producer. Schwab purportedly made a hundred million dollars and became the best known steel man in the world.

~ Author Unknown ~

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The Fourth Graders’ Tombstone

Donna’s fourth grade classroom looked like many others. My job was to make classroom visitations and encourage implementation of a training program that would empower students to feel good about themselves and take charge of their lives.

I took an empty seat in the back of the room and watched. The students were filling a sheet of notebook paper with determination and persistence witha list of “I Can’ts.”

“I can’t kick the soccer ball past second base.”
“I can’t do long division with more than three numerals.”
“I can’t get Debbie to like me.”

The activity engaged my curiosity, so I decided to check with the teacher to see what was going on, but I noticed she too was busy writing.

“I can’t get John’s mother to come for a teacher conference.”
“I can’t get my daughter to put gas in the car.”
“I can’t get Alan to use words instead of fists.”

Why were the students and teacher dwelling on the negative instead of writing the more positive “I Can” statements?

The students were then instructed to fold the papers in half and bring them to the front and placed their statements into an empty shoe box. Then Donna added hers. She put the lid on the box, tucked it under her arm and headed out the door and down the hall.

The students followed the teacher. I followed the students. Halfway down the hallway Donna entered the custodian’s room, rummaged around and came out with a shovel. Donna then marched the students out to the farthest corner of the playground. There they began to dig.

The digging took over ten minutes because most of the fourth graders wanted a turn. The box of “I Cant’s” was placed at the bottom of the hole and then quickly covered with dirt. Thirty-one 10 and 11 year-olds stood around the freshly dug grave site. At this point Donna announced,

“Boys and girls, please join hands and bow your heads.” They quickly formed a circle around the grave, creating a bond with their hands. They lowered their heads and waited. Donna delivered the eulogy.

“Friends, we gathered here today to honor the memory of ‘I Can’t.’ While he was with us here on earth, he touched the lives of everyone, some more than others.

We have provided ‘I Can’t’ with a final resting place. He is survived by his brothers and sisters, ‘I Can,’ ‘I Will,’ and ‘I’m Going to Right Away.’ They are not as well known as their famous relative and are certainly not as strong and powerful yet.

Perhaps someday, with your help, they will make an even bigger mark on our world. May ‘I Can’t’ rest in peace and may everyone present pick up their lives and move forward in his absence. Amen.”

She turned the students around, marched them back into the classroom and held a wake. They celebrated the passing of “I Can’t” with cookies, popcorn and fruit juices.

Donna cut a large tombstone from butcher paper. She wrote the words “I Can’t” at the top and put “RIP” in the middle. The date was added at the bottom. The paper tombstone hung in Donna’s classroom for the remainder of the year.

On those rare occasions when a student forgot and said, “I Can’t,” Donna simply pointed to the RIP sign. The student then remembered that “I Can’t” was dead and chose to rephrase the statement.

I wasn’t one of Donna’s students. She was one of mine. Yet that day I learned an enduring lesson from her as years later, I still envision that fourth grade class laying to rest, “I Can’t.”

~ Author Unknown ~

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Keep Them Close

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, or that we can 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, for old cars, for children with bad report cards, for dogs with bad hips, and for aging parents and grandparents.

It is important to let every one of our friends and family know that we love them even if we think they don’t love us back. We keep them because they are worth it. Because we are worth it.

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!

~ Author Unknown ~

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