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My Friend Barry

My Friend Barry

My Friend Barry

I first met Barry in the mid-80’s while working as the secretary for the President of a limousine company in the town where I grew up, a suburb of Dallas. My boss, Charles was the newly appointed President of the National Limousine Association based in Washington, DC. Barry, a man nearly twice my age and also serving on the board lived near the Associations’ headquarters and would routinely call to discuss issues with my boss. When Barry would call he would exuberantly say “Good morning!!!” and you could tell from his voice and tone that it really was!

Being a young mother of two small daughters, often it was well up into the day before my morning felt “good” to me. Usually fatigued from the daily routine of getting dinner the night before, baths, making lunches, helping with homework, and then getting up early to rush the girls off to school and drive the 20+ miles to work in traffic, I would be doing well to muster up a smile, much less any enthusiasm, yet Barry’s calls would always rejuvenate me.

As time went on, I found myself anxiously awaiting his phone calls. He would always ask about my family and before long he knew as much about my family as my closest friends. He would be genuine in his interest to hear how the girls were doing as well as my husband, Bill.

His laughter was contagious and his zest for life always made me glad he called. Barry spoke of his family too, a wife of many years, children and his most recent family addition, a grandson. You could tell from our conversations that he not only loved life, but also his family. In the spring of ’88 his work with the Association would bring him to Dallas. When he called to tell me the news that he would, at last, get to meet me in person, I was ecstatic! I had long wondered what he looked like and wanted to see for myself if that enthusiasm on the phone was indeed something that was the ‘real deal’.

Barry arrived some weeks later and chose to stay over on Saturday to see some of the Dallas area. He had asked if Bill, the girls and I were up for showing him around and I jumped at the opportunity, saying “yes” without first checking with the family.

As it turned out, there was a softball tournament that Saturday and Bill, being an assistant coach, could not get out of attending it. Feeling bad that I had already accepted the invitation to show him the city, I begged off from sitting in the stands for hours watching teams of children play softball (none of which included my own) and said nothing to Barry of the change in plans.

On that Saturday we were to meet at his hotel for brunch. His treat! When I arrived alone he was hugely disappointed that the girls and Bill were not with me. I explained the circumstances and he asked if we could include a trip to the ball fields as part of our excursion that day and I agreed. Little did I know that the events of that day would change me forever!

Barry was a gentleman in every sense of the word and his attitude and humor kept me entertained throughout the entire day – one surprise after another. However, it was the way he treated others that would remain with me and alter my ways of thinking for a lifetime.

It started first with the waitress at brunch. He made sure he knew her name and called her by it throughout the morning meal, but it didn’t stop there. He complimented her on the tiniest of tasks and genuinely showed an interest in every part of her job. When she warmed up to us, his humor kicked in. When she asked if we were from out of town, he remarked that he had flown in because we were getting married that afternoon! He continued by asking her if she didn’t agree that I was the most beautiful woman in the world and wouldn’t I make a lovely bride for him.

Obviously, the waitress didn’t know what to say seeing that we were years apart in age, so she smiled and agreed with him. He went on with his charade as I sat smiling and listening to his ridiculous story. All the while he made it remarkably believable. When she walked away, I laughed and told him how crazy he was and he laughed just as hard as I.

Throughout our meal our waitress would provide the best of service, coming to check on us regularly and offering anything that she could possibly bring us. It was obvious that she couldn’t get enough of Barry and his outlandish story and every time she appeared at the table, he added to it even going so far as to invite her to the ‘wedding’ that afternoon.

It was hard to contain myself as I wondered what he would do if she accepted. I could tell from that first experience I was in for a day full of surprises and Barry didn’t disappoint me. After walking out into the lobby, still laughing about his charade with the waitress, we encountered the hotel custodian, an elderly black man with graying hair and a demeanor so low I sensed immediately that he wanted to be invisible. As he polished and cleaned the lobby tables and doors we stood talking about the day’s agenda.

Barry wanted to run up to his room and get his sunglasses and I told him I’d wait there in the lobby for him. We were standing near the elevator and the custodian had made his way over to clean out the ashtrays. I remember them being the ones with the sand on the top that, when freshened up, had the hotel’s logo pressed into the clean sand.

Barry went into action! He greeted the elderly custodian with the warmest “hello, good morning, sir” that I have ever heard – much like that between two long lost friends at a chance meeting. The custodian smiled and softly returned a shy “hello” back as he continued with the ashtrays. Barry was relentless.

“How are you (waiting for his name) today?” The old man replied, “Oh, fine”.

“And what is your name, sir?” The old man replied with his first name, Henry.

“Well, Mr. Henry.” Barry began. “No, sir, that’s my first name, Henry. Me’s last name is Turner”, was his reply.

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Turner”, Barry said. Mr. Turner now smiling and standing a little straighter and taller turned to look towards me. I returned the smile, waiting to see what was in store for us both from Barry.

He continued. “Mr. Turner, how long have you worked for the hotel?” he asked.

“Oh, nearly five years now” came his reply.

“And do you take care of this beautiful lobby all by yourself, or do you have help?”

Barry continued to pry. “No sir, I do it all by myself, ain’t got no helpers, don’t need nobody, I likes doing it real nice by myself” he answered.

Barry then walked towards the ashtray he had just finished restoring to perfection. “Mr. Turner, how do you get that logo in the sand like that, I have often wondered how it’s done and you’re the first person I have ever seen who could actually tell me.” Mr. Turner, now standing tall and confident walked over to the next ashtray and proceeded to show Barry the tricks of the trade so to speak. He carried a rubber stamp in his supplies that when pressed into the smoothed out sand made the logo prominent. “Jest like that, sir”, was Mr. Turner’s reply.

Barry studied the logo in the sand intently and turned to Mr. Turner and remarked, “well, I’ll be – that is impressive if I must say so – and that must take practice to get it right in the center and make it stand out like that – yes, a real art I’d say”.
Barry had turned his total and complete attention to the aging custodian, showing him a genuine interest in these mundane tasks and Mr. Turner was thriving on the attention he was getting. The elevator arrived and Barry went up. The elderly custodian began to whistle a little tune as he continued his cleaning and when he got to the next ashtray, he stood looking at his work as an artist does upon completing a masterpiece.

Sitting silently in the lobby glancing through a magazine I began to take it all in. I marveled at the changes that had come over Mr. Turner – he walked tall now to the next ashtray, his head held high, a smile on his withered face and he whistled softly – a transformation made in only moments by an act of respect and a few spoken words.

The remainder of the day proved to be more of the same as we visited historical locations, shops and even the ball fields where we found the girls and Bill intently watching the softball tournament. Everywhere we went Barry made the people he encountered feel like they were the owner or president of their company, or could be! His enthusiasm and concentrated interest in whatever they were doing brought smiles and opened conversation everywhere we went.

Later that night, alone with my thoughts, I replayed the video in my mind of Barry making small talk with total strangers standing near us in a line, the waitress, Mr. Turner and even the way he reacted when meeting my family. What a difference he made in the lives of those he would never meet again, whose day was made more special because of a word, a smile, a story.

I closed my eyes and thought to myself, I want to live my life just like Barry – making those I encounter feel important everywhere I go! The following year, the limousine company I worked for declared bankruptcy and closed its doors. I was handed the word processor on my desk as payment for my last two weeks at work.

School was about to end for summer vacation and I decided to take that time to enjoy it with the girls and think of what I would do next. Barry stayed in touch with me, making sure I would be all right in light of my sudden loss of work and income. I assured him I was fine and that I would bounce back come September when school started back and that I would find other employment.

It was then that Barry began to encourage me to start my own business – he reminded me that I had the knowledge and personality to be successful and now I had an expensive tool by which to get started – the computer. At first, it seemed more like the story of us getting married that day – totally ridiculous – but he wouldn’t let it go.

As we continued to converse over the summer it became more and more evident that he was right – I could do it! I spent the summer gearing up for my new company, “Secretarial Solutions” and on the first day of school while dropping the girls off I heard a knock on my van window. I rolled down the glass and a gentleman asked for my business card.

Puzzled, I asked, “What business card?” forgetting the signs on the side of our van advertising my new business. He smiled, “Isn’t this your van?” “Yes,” I replied and then snapped to what he meant and scrambled to find my new business card to hand him. He became my very first customer!

For the remaining four years my business grew and I thrived. Barry was there for me each time I needed advice or direction and always for encouragement. Whenever I found an opportunity – which was daily – I put into action what Barry had shown me – and even today it is the standard by which I live.

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to Barry Locke, and then I smile knowing if he isn’t still here on earth making people feel important, he is surely in heaven making up stories to entertain the angels!

By Linda Hastings

Meditation: A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. – Proverbs 15:13

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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The Drowners

The Drowners

The Drowners

Walking through the forest, a seasoned hiker came upon a broad, slowly moving river. He stopped to gaze over the waters, appreciating the beauty, when suddenly he heard a faint cry coming from upstream.

Looking in the direction of the noise, he saw an obviously drowning man floundering in the river and drifting slowly toward him.

The hiker was stunned momentarily, but he sprang into action when he saw the man disappear beneath the waters. Throwing off all of his cumbersome gear, he dove into the river and swam like a madman toward the spot where the man went under.

Upon reaching the spot he plunged below the surface and frantically hauled up the helpless man. He then laboriously towed the victim to shore. Heaving the lifeless body up on the riverbank, the hiker attempted to revive the man, who eventually spit up water and began to breathe.

Relieved, the hiker paused to catch his breath. But no sooner had he done so than he heard another voice out on the water. Another drowning person!

Once again he swam out and pulled the person to shore, a little more slowly this time. As the hiker-turned-lifeguard revived the second victim, he heard yet another cry for help.

All day long the hiker worked, rescuing one person after another as they came drifting down the river. There seemed to be no end to drowning victims, and the hiker didn’t think he could keep it up.

Just when he was about to collapse from exhaustion, he spotted another man walking rapidly beside the river, headed upstream. “Hey mister!” he cried out. “Please help me! These poor people are drowning!”

Amazingly, the man kept walking upstream. The astonished hiker called out again. Without even acknowledging the cry, the man kept going. Indignant and angry, the hiker leapt to his feet, ran toward the uncompassionate man, stood directly in his path, and in a loud voice demanded, “Sir! How can you possibly walk past all these drowning people? Have you no conscience? Must I force you to help me save these people?”

The stranger stopped, looked at him for the first time and said with a calm, focused voice, “Sir, please get out of my way. I am headed upstream to stop the guy who is pushing all these people in.”

Each of us has a role to play in rescuing those who are drowning in sin. Some of us pull people from the water and resuscitate them with counseling, food and shelter, a rehabilitation program, a support group, or financial aid. Affirm those doing these important ministries.

Others of us find our place of ministry upstream, opposing the one pushing people into the river. We do this by introducing those people to Jesus Christ. Knowing Christ sets a person free from sin and releases them from Satan’s power over them.

By itself, pulling people from the water isn’t enough. We need to help people deal with the problem of sin at its source.

– Author Unknown

Meditation: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” – Romans 10:15

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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Do You Have Your Nikes on?

Do You Have Your Nikes on?

Do You Have Your Nikes on?

When running in the race of life, what kind of shoes is on your feet? Are they high-heeled stilettos, loafers, house slippers, or tennis shoes? While we may be concerned with what is on our feet and how comfortable they are in the situation, if we don’t have the right type of shoes on, we may not succeed.

I mean, a runner doesn’t wear a pair of wrestling shoes if he is running a marathon. He wears the most appropriate running shoe that will go the distance. When you prepare to run, one of the first things you do is stretch to warm your muscles. If not, your body isn’t prepared for what you are about to do.

But what about the race of life? There are many things, which come up for which we may not be prepared. You may be stressed out, suffering, and not know how to handle the situation. But, there is HOPE. Hope that you can overcome whatever you are facing and be victorious.

As my pastor, Randy Gilmore, says, “Hope is confidence in present resources and ultimate good.” The word, Nike, is Greek for ‘victory’ or ‘overcoming’. In the race of life, I want to have my Nikes on. For those of you who have heard one of my motivational presentations and me talk about my “shoe issues” when I tried out for the girls’ basketball team in eighth grade (I couldn’t find shoes big enough to fit me in the women’s section, so I had to go the men’s shoe area to find a pair), guess what tennis shoes I picked out? A new white pair of Nike hightops with a red swoosh. Though I didn’t know if I would make the team, I had hope in wearing my Nike tennis shoes as I was prepared to do my best.

In the middle of life’s storms where you may feel stretched, stressed out, are suffering, or something else may be going on in your life, Hope lifts our spirits as we go through the storm. God has generously provided a way to carry you through it. Having hope protects our minds, like a helmet.

Hope provides us with a way out of our struggle and shields us, like an umbrella. Hope lifts our spirits from the storms in life, which may be dampened. Hope is having your Nikes on when facing your situation, as we are overcomers and victorious. There is power in hope!

Here are three thoughts to keep in mind when running in the race of life:

1. Look for hope in your present resources.
2. Surround yourself with friends and family who support you.
3. Seek guidance and assistance from others who can help you along your journey to reach the finish line.

Be victorious and have your Nikes on!

By Darcy Keith

Meditation: But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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Mentor, Teacher, Friend and A Jedi Warrior

Mentor, Teacher, Friend and A Jedi Warrior

Mentor, Teacher, Friend and A Jedi Warrior

Once upon a time not far away lived a young boy named, Gary. Now this young boy dreamed of being a Jedi Warrior just like in the Star War Movies. He was not aware of his own powers within himself, nor was he aware that later on in years he would be transformed and mentored by many worthy elders as a young child and adult. Oh, how he dreamed of using his “light-saver” to fight for his honor and help the various Galactic Republics here on earth.

The quiet and somewhat shy Gary watched many Star War movies and collected various memorabilia throughout his younger years. His great challenge was collecting all of the Star War hero autographs and photos. He accomplished his feat all but one, Luke Skywalker played by Mark Hamill.

After 20 years, Gary finally received his most beloved autograph. As Gary waited in line for Mark’s autograph the announcement that no more autographs would be taken. Gary leaped to the head of the line and placed photo of young Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the hands of Mark Hamill. “Please sign this as I’ve been waiting years for this!” Mark looked surprised and said, “Is this for your son?” Gary replied, “No, it’s for me, I’ve been waiting 20 years.”

Photos were taken of Gary and Mark to confirm that he did sign the photo. Gary so rejoiced in this goal. His patience, ability to continue his dream helped him obtain the dream come true. Was it worth it? Definitely yes! As a youth, Gary dreamed and hoped of becoming a Jedi Warrior. His dream has come true.

Gary is now a Toastmaster International First Vice President. The powers within himself have developed throughout the years of developing leadership skills and being mentored along the way by many fine leaders. He has fought one of the greatest battles within himself and that is shyness. As the story goes, Luke Skywalker becomes a stronger because of his faithful friends and leaders throughout the galaxy; so did Gary. They saw something that Gary couldn’t immediately see, a potential leader.

Yes, Gary is one of my cherished friends. He shares his knowledge and leadership skills with all that wants to know how to develop their leadership talents. I’ve known Gary since 1999 when we were in the Toastmaster International District Officer Training, as I call it “young Jedi’s in training.” Like Gary, through our own ambitious talents and leadership apprenticeship we are becoming the leaders for tomorrow. We need more individuals like Gary to be committed and be a visionary dreamer that makes dreams come alive.

Gary’s skills as a district leader and then two years as an International Director have given him the opportunities of a lifetime. Yet, Gary now continues to dream beyond his own dreams as a young child. He is now in line for one of the highest achievements within Toastmasters, the title of President of Toastmasters International. I see Gary leading and mentoring new leaders worldwide. I do know Gary’s leadership goes far beyond Toastmasters! I’m so proud of my friend Gary! For myself, I see another side of Gary, and that is one of honor and respect. Though shy, he is respected for his wisdom.

What can I say, but, “May the Lord Be With You!”

By Rosie Johnson-Tsosie

Meditation: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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Spring Forever in My Heart

Spring Forever in My Heart

Spring Forever in My Heart

“I can’t believe it. These blooms have lasted so long this year,” my wife said.

“I hadn’t really thought about it, but you are right. As much as I love Lilacs, they come and go so fast,” I said.

It has been incredibly exciting this year here in my backyard. Our Lilac tree has produced the most blooms I have ever seen. The scent is so wonderful that I spend a lot of time just standing on our small deck breathing it all in.

Many of the branches are hollow and cracked leaving me to believe it has seen many Springs. A few winters ago one of the biggest branches crashed to the ground under the weight of melting snow. It broke my heart. I guess I wasn’t expecting much from the old thing this year. But it is magnificent!

Since we have been experiencing so much rain lately the flowers have become heavier. The once tall bush seems to be under a lot of pressure. I can relate to that. There are big gaps because the branches are lower.

Sadly, today I noticed the first bunch of flowers turning brown. It won’t be long until they are all gone. But here’s what I’ve learned from it.

Some people are like fragrant flowers. They come into our lives ever so briefly and leave behind a scent that remains embedded in our being. They brighten your day by just having had contact with them even if for a moment. If kindness would have scent it would remind you of them.

Like when I smell pine, all the best Christmas memories rush through my mind. When I smell roses I think of romantic, moon filled evenings.

Some people, having given so much to you, remain a part of who you are forever. You cannot possibly go through a day without thinking about them. Their beautiful spirit gently nudges your heart each time you hear their name. The very thought of them stirs within your soul like the sweet fragrance of a thousand roses.

Loved ones who have passed on, having given their lives to you, having stayed in bloom through a lifetime of eternal Spring, are like these Lilacs. Although my heart is saddened having discovered that they are dying, I will not remember them that way. I will forever see a thousand blooms each time I think of them. In the coldest, darkest days of the winter of my life, the memory of them will get me through it all. Even the slightest fragrance, a wisp of “almost there again,” will bring a smile to my face and my heart will pound remembering the love.

Oh God, thank you not only for the beauty of the people you bring into my life, but for the lingering fragrance and everlasting memories of ever having loved them at all.

Loving them and believing in you, means I will have “spring forever in my heart.”

By Bob Perks

Meditation: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. – John 3:16

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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The Fable of the Porcupines

The Fable of the Porcupines

The Fable of the Porcupines

It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold.

The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered and protected themselves, but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions.

After a while of not being able to bear the hurts from their proximity, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and, being alone and frozen, they began to die.

So they had to make a choice…Either endure the hurt from the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together.

They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the warmth and heat that came from them. This way they were able to survive.

The best group is not the one that brings perfect people together, but one where each individual learns to live with the imperfections of the others and can admire their good qualities.

Better to be surrounded by warm pokes than be frozen in solitude. Stay blessed and united, great family.

God loves a united family.

— Author Unknown

Meditation: We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. – Romans 15:1

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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