Post WWII Hard Times

Times were hard.  The war was over and thousands of men were back, flooding the job market.  Lots of them could not find work.  The Oldham clan would load up in the back of a big truck with tall sides all around and head to Arizona to pick the pima cotton. I remember we had to pay 10 cents for a cup of water once we crossed the border into Arizona and it was kind of shocking, being from Texas where you could get water for free all along the way! We'd find some tourist courts to stay at for $4 a day and settle in there before everybody headed out to become part of the Pima cotton pickin crew.  The pima cotton grew on 6' stalks.  SD would not let me go out and pick because I was pregnant and already had some of you kids.  I only remember me and an old man 93 years old staying behind there at the courts each day when everybody else went out to pick the cotton.  When the cotton harvest was done, we loaded up and drove back to Texas.

When I think about it, I didn't have it near as hard as some other people.  I knew of a mother that had a lot harder time than I ever had.  People didn't have washing machines in their houses after The War.  Instead, there were wash houses that mothers would send their children to with the wash loads and a mother sent her three daughters and one young son one day to the wash house to get the family wash done.  The girls left the brother with the cloths at the wash house and went for a ride.  Their car stalled on the railroad track and the train came and hit the car and all three of those girls were killed.  I can not imagine losing three daughters all in one day.... I've never had as hard of times as that!

What If He Had Just Tried? by Becky Benedict

There once was a man who owned a very large, successful investment company .  He was a good Christian man and had always operated his business with integrity and honesty.  He had worked very hard, day in and day out, year after year.  God had blessed his efforts and had given him favor among his colleagues in the business world and exceptional opportunities to grow his business.

Through the years, and especially in recent times, the man had carefully selected younger professionals to join his business.  He had interviewed them extensively, shared his vision of the future of the company, and listened as they shared their hopes and dreams to determine if the candidates might be a good match with his company.  He noticed whether they had a strong desire to be successful and considered their intellect, foresight, confidence, honesty, courage, goals and dreams, concern for others and philosophy of life.  Eventually,  he had three junior partners in his business and each had valuable abilities and strengths.  He invested hours of time with each one so they knew how he thought and they each understood his philosophies of doing good business - the same ideals that had always guided him in business and helped him become an investment leader.

After years of pleading from his wife he had decided to take his family and go away for some much needed rest and relaxation.  He felt confident he could trust his business partners to take charge of business matters while he was gone.

He called his three junior partners into a conference, explained that he was taking a vacation and laid out the plan of action for the time he would be gone.  First of all he explained that the very able office manager would, as always, be in charge of all day to day clerical duties pertaining to accounts and office management.  The junior partners were not surprised that he asked them to give special attention to specific investors, though.  To the youngest junior business partner who loved to multi task, was very capable in making wise decisions quickly, and was single and, therefore, more flexible with his time and able to work extra hours whenever needed, he gave charge of five of his most active investors.  To the junior business partner who was the most analytical and had an innate ability to see all the angles at once and consider all the possibilities in depth,  he assigned two of the most critical  accounts.  To the junior business partner who was great at tracking investments and recommending changes, kindhearted and patient, he gave one very valuable account.  In addition to being a major investor, this particular client was facing lots of difficulty in his personal life.  His wife was seriously ill with a debilitating medical problem.  His teenage son was acting out, angry because his dad was so busy with his mom he felt he didn't have time for him.  The client was just too overwhelmed and had entrusted his rather large investment portfolio completely to the company.  The owner knew that this particular junior partner would give this account the attention it would need in the trying weeks ahead.   He advised the Junior Partner to even go beyond business duties with this client - maybe send a gift card with an encouraging note, make a few phone calls to check on his wife, invite his son for a game of golf or something.

In the next couple of days, the Senior Partner also met privately with each junior partner to be sure they understood exactly what he expected of them during the time he would be away and to discuss any concerns they might have.  When he was sure that all concerns had been addressed and the assignments were completely understood the Senior Partner felt confident that his capable partners would attend to all the needs of their clients during his absence. He happily bid them farewell and assured them of his return on a specific day.

The next day, he left with his family, so happy to have this opportunity to enjoy such a special time with those he loved so much.

The youngest Junior Partner was thrilled with the opportunity to oversee five of the most active investors of their firm!  He responded quickly to all inquiries from these investors.  He watched their investments closely and notified them of all possibilities of increasing the worth of their investment portfolio.  He advised them of the ones he felt were most worthy of their investment.  They were pleased as they saw their investments increase in value and each one recommended the firm to a friend who was searching for an investment firm to help them with their portfolio as well.

The most analytical Junior Partner spent hours each day reviewing and considering all the complexities of the two accounts that the Senior Partner had entrusted to his care.  These investors were very particular about the kinds of investments they were willing to make - they wanted to know particulars such as the company mission and purpose.  He was determined to guide and advise these clients of the most worthy investment opportunities as he discovered them.  These clients were very pleased with the investment opportunities the Junior Partner advised them toward and each one recommended the firm to a friend.

Since he was in charge of only one account, though he knew it was a very valuable account, the third Junior Partner did not feel any urgency to get right on his assignment.  He decided to take a closer look at investment trends and other good information that would, perhaps, give him a slight edge over the other junior partners. So, he got completely sidetracked and failed to be vigilant about  tracking the particular client's investment portfolio to which he was assigned.  After all,  he really felt he was capable of handling more than this one account and resented the boss's decision in the matter.  So, he figured there need be no hurry since he actually was particularly assigned only that one account.  He had a nagging reminder in the back of his head, though, about the clients wife who was very ill and even started, several times, to pick up the phone and check on her and let the client know he had his back as far as protecting, even growing his investment portfolio.  But, he was afraid he might not respond correctly if the news of his wife's condition was worsening, so he decided it would be better if he did not call.  He decided the safest thing would be flowers and a get well card for the wife.  But, he didn't know what kind of flowers she might like and what if he couldn't find a card that said the right thing?  After all, what should a note of encouragement say in dire circumstances such as this?  He decided that was a bad idea after all.  He had been ashamed to admit to the Senior Partner that he didn't know the first thing about the game of golf, but was resigned to try to comply with the senior partners request.  When it came down to it, though, he just couldn't bring himself to even try to do it.  He remembered he'd heard that the son was a district golf tournament winner.  Wouldn't he look like a goof out on the green with this kid?! But the days of the Senior Partner's vacation were ending soon and he would be back in the office and would be asking for a report. The Junior Partner decided he would just have to explain to the Senior Partner why he could not succeed at managing and protecting the account he had been assigned.  He was sure the Senior Partner would understand.

Meanwhile the Senior Partner was enjoying a great time with his family.  They went to Orlando, a place they'd always dreamed of going.  They weren't disappointed!  Disney was great fun!!  They ate great food, the hotel accommodations were superb and just being together, having fun with his family, was such a good time.  So, the senior partner and his family returned home with their buckets full!  They felt closer. They'd had a great family vacation!

The Senior Partner returned to work the next week with a skip in his step and a smile on his face, grateful he'd had three capable partners to leave the business with while he'd enjoyed some much needed R&R.  After he'd greeted his office staff, and gave a little summary of his vacation, the next order of business was to conference with each Junior Partner individually and hear their reports.

The first Junior Partner reported the value of his assigned clients portfolios had increased by five times!  These investors had been so pleased that they have introduced five more high profile clients to the firm.  The Senior Partner was very pleased with his report and gave him a firm handshake of appreciation for a job well done.  A bonus would also be forthcoming.

The second Junior Partner reported the value of his assigned clients portfolios were increased three times and they had been so pleased that they had introduced three more clients to the firm.  The Senior Partner was very pleased with his report and gave him a firm handshake of appreciation for a job well done.  A bonus would also be forthcoming

The third Junior Partner gave his report, concentrating on all the reasons he did not attend to the particular client whom he had been assigned.  Instead, he proceeded to share some suggestions he had pertaining to other clients whose portfolios he had reviewed in light of the trending investment opportunity.  The Senior Partner was astonished to learn that the Junior Partner, whom he had chosen because he felt him to be especially suited for the assignment,  had not even tried to help this particular client in his absence.  He quickly pulled up the account in their company computer system and saw that his investment portfolio was disintegrating. The Senior Partner became angry and asked the junior partner why he had put his own desires and perceived shortcomings ahead of this very important client and his needs!  "You gave me the most difficult assignment!  I'm an investment specialist not a grief counselor, resource provider or babysitter! You expected me to go way beyond my responsibility just to keep this client happy."  The Senior Partner reminded him that he had made his expectations clear to Junior Partner when he assigned the account to him.  He reminded the Junior Partner he had confirmed he understand the expectations and agreed to the task.   He also reminded the Junior Partner that one of the company ideals was to always treat clients as people first, clients second.  "I had every right to expect you to be a great representative for our company and our ideals in my absence.  I know you are capable  and you could have extended our company's compassion toward this client and increased the worth of his portfolio if you had only tried!"  Right then the Senior Partner felt too angry to continue the conversation and asked the Junior Partner to leave his office.

The Senior Partner felt so very troubled and distressed.  He knew this client must be contacted at once and assured that his investments were being carefully looked after and that his portfolio was a priority for the firm.  Most of all, he knew it was important that this client feel his investment company was caring and compassionate.  He reassigned this account to the youngest, but most energetic Junior Partner. The Junior Partner called the client immediately.  He asked about the son;  sadly, the father said his attitude was about the same.  He asked the father to pass on an invitation to go play a game of golf with him and maybe help him improve his game.  He asked what his wife's favorite flowers were and ordered a beautiful floral arrangement to be sent to her at once.

With the client reassured and feeling glad that he had put his portfolio in the hands of a company with a heart, the senior partner returned his attention to the problem at hand.  He agonized over the decision that must be made - whether to allow the Junior Partner to stay with the company or not.  He prayed about the decision.  Finally, he concluded that a junior partner who does not take to heart the importance of an assignment such as he had been given but, instead, acts very selfishly, preferring his own comfort and pleasure to that of the client and success of the company, could be the ruination of the firm.  Finally, he called the Junior Partner, whom he had thought to be kind, caring and compassionate, back into his office and gave him the bad news - he would no longer be a part of the firm. Sadly, he said to the Junior Partner, " even if you had tried and had failed, that would have been forgivable, but not even trying is totally unacceptable and unforgiveable.  We can no longer keep you in the firm.  I believed you to be talented and capable, not perfect.  I want you to remember this: I would not have dismissed you from our firm today if you would have only tried to take care of this very special client I left in your care.  So, sadly, I bid you goodbye and can only lament how different might today be if you had only tried!"

By Becky Benedict, inspired by Matthew 25:14-31

The Burdens In My Backpack by Becky Benedict

I'm glad my backpack had wheels
Because it made it easier
To take it up that hill each day.
In it was my lunch, a simple necessity,
Even in my ominous place of destination:
Thousands of books and wondrous collections of artifacts,
Minds engulfed in learning
And world views being supported or formed.
I was a librarian, surrounded every day
With awesome, awful, terrifying and wonderful stories and information
To answer a question, support or deny a view,
Be entertained or just browse through.

I'm glad my backpack had wheels
Because it made it easier to take it up that hill each day,
With my extra pair of shoes in it that I'd need
When my feet began to hurt later in the day,
As I would serve the students who would come asking for help.
Searching for the information they must find,
Those students would expend themselves,
Trying to ingest it well enough to write their paper or pass a coming exam.
Even when they preferred to be out running around with their friends in a less nobel pursuit,
This was what the dream they were chasing required!

I'm glad my backpack had wheels
Because it made it easier to take it up that hill each day.
In it I carried a Bible, inspirational reads, or personal development reads,
Something good to think on when I took my lunch break each day.
I'd do my best to locate the requested resources and prepare them for use
To support this faculty of higher education,
Those shaping many young minds and helping them prepare for a successful future.
Many of the faculty gave their best to their profession
And became beacons of light to the students although often,
I felt remorse to see the unethical, anti Christian, impure and ignoble views and ideas
Pressed upon these young minds through resources demanded by the instructors.

I'm glad my backpack had wheels
Because it made it easier to take it down that hill on that day.
It was a great and glorious day; a sad and sorrowful day,
Five years of my life invested in the lives of the young and older,
Who saw visions and dreamed dreams
And had hopes and great expectations for their futures,
A few just trying to survive the day or find solutions to their personal challenges,
Those I tried to encourage on days they felt sad, disappointed or mistreated,
Several who will always hold a special place that loves them in my heart.

I'm glad my backpack had wheels
Because it made it easier to take it down that hill on that day.
After I'd placed in it my personal files,
Which told the story of goals I had set and many of them completed,
Projects I was proud I'd been significantly involved in,
Representing good memories of team efforts
with colleagues I'd respected for their knowledge and sharing.
Cards of appreciation, encouragement and friendship
That added value to my days there and made it worth the doing.

I'm glad my backpack had wheels
Because it made it easier to take it down that hill on that day
I cleared my desk of all personal items,
Tears dropping on my desk calendar pad as I placed these things in my backpack.
Hugs, a cake and kind encouraging words from the true friends I had there.
Nice best wishes from those who were glad to see me leaving,
But maybe wondering if their pursuit to see me gone
Had turned out to be the victory they were so determined to obtain.

I'm glad my backpack had wheels
Because it made it easier to take it down that hill on that day.
When I was realizing that, in an effort to be the best worker I could be
I had been pressed to be what I could never really be -
An undercover agent and an office politician!
Write page after page of documentation as proof of
Coworkers inabilities, unprofessionalism, insubordination or other office crimes,
Learn when to present myself strong, demanding and sure,
Or when to cower down instead of standing up for what I really thought or believed! 
Only I and my God know how grieved my soul had become
By trying to gain or keep their respect and keep my job secure.
And I was glad it was over as I left through the staff exit door on that day,

I put it in the trashcan!
And pulled my backpack down that hill.

I'm glad my backpack had wheels 
Because, loaded with my personal items and files,
It was easier to pull it into my house and store it in a closet on that day,

Because I could not, in my grief, sort and put those things away.
For five years now, in the closet it has stayed
And the burdens of memories it holds has penetrated me many days and nights.
But I've come to realize,  I've carried those burdens in my backpack long enough!
I shall sort through it and save only my awards, certificates
And notes or cards of appreciation!
Thank God, He is ridding me of this burden
Of my backpack filled with memories of pain
Which I will never have to pull up or down that hill again!

How to Find Paradise by Darren Hardy, Publisher, Success Magazine

Once, long ago, there was a man who was displeased with his life.
Yes, he had a wife who loved him and two children who adored him.
He liked his work and had friends he enjoyed, but still something nagged at him.
Daily, he found himself dreaming of an unseen place he heard about called Paradise.
One morning over a bowl of oatmeal, he stopped dreaming of Paradise and decided to go find it. Without a word to his family, he walked out the front gate with the broken latch, away from the place he had called home and never looked back. He was a man bound for Paradise.
For three days he traveled. And each night, before falling asleep, the man removed his shoes and deliberately pointed them in the direction he had been traveling, toward Paradise. Each morning he carefully stepped into his shoes and continued his quest.
Then on the third night the man accidently kicked his unofficial compass 180 degrees. When the first rays of morning fell, the man leapt to his feet, carefully stepped into his shoes and began traveling in the direction they told him to go—toward “Paradise.”
Exactly three days later, he arrived. “Paradise!” he cried from atop the hill. Though, as he stared at the village below, he thought it looked vaguely familiar… but wrote it off as coincidence.  He excitedly descended the hill and walked through the village of Paradise where strangers knew him by name. Of course they did! Why wouldn’t they? This was Paradise!
The man continued until he came to the end of the road where there was a gate with a broken latch. He walked through, and as he did, he heard a melodious voice calling him in for dinner and could smell the aroma of his favorite meal. As he opened the front door the man was greeted by two children who yelped “Daddy!” as they wrapped themselves around him and a woman who kissed him like she meant it.
Ah! Paradise he thought.
Now, every morning the man eats his bowl of oatmeal and revels in his new, wonderful life in Paradise.

Sometimes an illustration is better than a thousand spoken words

A member of the church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks,the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.

The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember's flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, 'Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I will be back in church next Sunday.'

By  Mairi Krausse

The Family Storyteller

Who doesn’t like to hear a good story? Stories connect us to our past, explain our sorrows, and share our joys. Stories may take us soaring on the wings of imagination while others are true stories that help us understand life or give us a strong anchor to our past and who we are today.
A good story can provide the best entertainment! When I was a girl, my daddy was the best story teller in our family. He was a world War II Veteran, serving on the European fronts of terrible war scenes such as Normandy. But he survived the war without an injury, we thought. He created for us a funny guy named Huffaker . Daddy would tell the stories of this funny guy who turned military life into a continuous circus of fun and games; Daddy would laugh and we would laugh. When things seemed dull at our house we’d say: “Tell us about Huffaker, Daddy!”
Now that Daddy is 90, he tells the other side of his war stories; they’re not funny and a tear often trickles down his cheek when he tells them. Now we can see the other side of the war – a horrible nightmare where thousands of men were killed every day. His stories help us understand that, in addition to the Huffakers who made the war bearable, the heart of many Americans were gravely injured for a cause greater than themselves.
Some of us think we’re mass telling our stories now on Face book, Twitter, My Space and other social networks. But this is not good story telling; the short little quips cannot create the colorful or poignant pictures on the stages of our minds to be placed in our permanent story library like my Daddy’s stories. How can these succinct little descriptions or comments compare to hearing the incredulous disbelief of a mystery, the hushed sounds of amazement, the excitement in a joyous exclamation or the voice choking with regret or breaking in sorrow? How can they compare to observing the worried wrinkle or a shadow of concern falling across the brow, the flushing of crimsoned cheeks, the tilt of the chin in thoughtful remembrance, the sparkle in the eye, the playful wink , the delight in a smile? Don't get confused and think you’re telling your story on the social networks of today – be sure you REALLY share it with someone, somewhere, sometime.