The Marbles Story
The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable. A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the kitchen with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time.
Let me tell you about it. I turned the volume up on my radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning talk show. I heard an older sounding chap with a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business himself. He was talking about “a thousand marbles” to someone named “Tom”. I was intrigued and sat down to listen to what he had to say.
“Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital.” He continued, “Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities.” And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.”
“You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. Know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.”
“Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now stick with me Tom, I’m getting to the important part.”
“It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy- five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.” “So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in my workshop next to the radio. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.” “I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.”
“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.”
“It was nice to talk to you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your loved ones, and I hope to meet you again someday. Have a good morning!”
You could have heard a pin drop when he finished. Even the show’s moderator didn’t have anything to say for a few moments. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to do some work that morning, then go to the gym. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss.
“C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.”
“What brought this on?” she asked with a smile. “Oh, nothing special, it’s just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.”
— Author Unknown
Meditation: Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. – Ecclesiastes 5:18
You will succeed in Jesus Name!
While at the park one day, a woman sat down next to a man on a bench near a playground. “That’s my son over there,” she said, pointing to a little boy in a red sweater who was gliding down the slide.
“He’s a fine looking boy,” the man said. “That’s my daughter on the bike in the white dress.” Then, looking at his watch, he called to his daughter.
“What do you say we go, Melissa?”
Melissa pleaded, “Just five more minutes, Dad. Please? Just five more minutes.”
The man nodded and Melissa continued to ride her bike to her heart’s content.
Minutes passed and the father stood and called again to his daughter. “Time to go now?”
Again Melissa pleaded, “Five more minutes, Dad. Just five more minutes.”
The man smiled and said, “O.K.”
“My, you certainly are a patient father,” the woman responded.
The man smiled and then said, “Her older brother Tommy was killed by a drunk driver last year while he was riding his bike near here. I never spent much time with Tommy and now I’d give anything for just five more minutes with him.
“I’ve vowed not to make the same mistake with Melissa. She thinks she has five more minutes to ride her bike. The truth is, I get five more minutes to watch her play.”
Life is all about making priorities, what are your priorities? Give someone you love 5 more minutes of your time today.
– Author Unknown
Meditation: One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple. – Psalm 27:4
You will succeed in Jesus Name!
It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.
Over the phone, his mother told him, “Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday.”
Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.
“Jack, did you hear me?”
“Oh sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” Jack said.
“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ‘his side of the fence’ as he put it,” Mom told him.
“I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said.
“You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said.
“He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important… Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,” Jack said.
As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.
The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.
Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time.
The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture… Jack stopped suddenly.
“What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked.
“The box is gone,” he said.
“What box?” Mom asked.
“There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ‘the thing I value most,'” Jack said.
It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.
“Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”
It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days,” the note read.
Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention.
“Mr. Harold Belser” it read.
Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside.
“Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.
Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:
“Jack, Thanks for your time! – Harold Belser.”
“The thing he valued most…was…my time.”
Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. “Why?” Janet, his assistant asked.
“I need some time to spend with my son,” he said. “Oh, by the way, Janet… thanks for your time!”
— Author Unknown
Meditation: A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction. – Ecclesiastes 6:2
You will succeed in Jesus Name!
A mother named Antoinette Kuritz shared this idea of hers and we sure can pick this up and apply it to our own kids. Antoinette says:
From the time each of my children started school, I packed their lunches. And in each lunch I packed, I included a note. Often written on a napkin, the note might be a thank you for a special moment, a reminder of something we were happily anticipating, or a bit of encouragement for an upcoming test or sporting event.
In early grade school, they loved their notes. They commented on them after school, and when I went back to teaching, they even put notes in my lunches. But as kids grow older, they become self-conscious, and by the time he reached high school, my older son, Marc, informed me he no longer needed my daily missives. Informing him that they had been written as much for me as for him, and that he no longer needed to read them, but I still needed to write them, I continued the tradition until the day he graduated.
Six years after high school graduation, Marc called and asked if he could move home for a couple of months. He had spent those years well, graduating Phi Beta Kappa magna cum laude from college, completing two congressional internships in Washington, D.C., winning the Jesse Marvin Unruh Fellowship to the California State Legislature, and finally, becoming a legislative assistant in Sacramento. Other than short vacation visits, however, he had lived away from home. With his younger sister leaving for college, I was especially thrilled to have Marc coming home.
A couple of weeks after Marc arrived home to rest, regroup and write for a while, he was back at work. He had been recruited to do campaign work. Since I was still making lunch every day for his younger brother, I packed one for Marc, too. Imagine my surprise when I got a call from my 24-year-old son, complaining about his lunch.
“Did I do something wrong? Aren’t I still your kid? Don’t you love me anymore, Mom?” were just a few of the queries he threw at me as I laughingly asked him what was wrong.
“My note, Mom,” he answered. “Where’s my note?”
This year, my youngest son will be a senior in high school. He, too, has now announced that he is too old for notes. But like his older brother and sister before him, he will receive those notes till the day he graduates, and in whatever lunches I pack for him afterwards.
What a great idea from a great mother who knows how to communicate her love to her children. Wish that all mothers would do the same.
The question I would like to ask you is as a mother, are you positive with your kids?
There is a great need for being creative with the way we treat our kids. And while the whole world wallows in negativity, the best thing we can do for our kids is to offer them an option that the family is a place for peace, joy and security. Your children will grow up with confidence, joy and optimism if you first display that in the way you deal with them.
Love notes? Corny? Some of you are probably thinking but not for kids who are reassured that no matter what happens, their parents will love them unconditionally.
This is why God leaves us with His “Love Notes” through the Holy Scriptures reminding us all the time that even when we have messed up, His love for us will never change.
You might want to pick up on this idea and leave love notes to your kids. But better still, you may want to practice being loving and joyful first. And do you know why? Because the best inheritance you can leave your children is a good example.
By Francis J. Kong
Meditation: Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. – 1 John 3:1
You will succeed in Jesus Name!
The Other Grandma
We were grandmothers together to two of the nicest grandkids anybody ever had. It makes great comedy on television for the two grandmothers to engage in rivalry, but that never happened with us. We both babysat—sometimes on the same day—passing those wonderful children between us with her sometimes coming to get them from me and I sometimes going to her home to pick them up. I liked her a lot and never doubted that she gave my grandchildren the best of love and care. Even after our children divorced, our relationship remained the same.
Can you imagine how sad I was for my grandchildren when I recently learned that her cancer was terminal and she did not have much longer to live? It was heart-breaking for me because of those grandchildren. They were facing one of the most difficult losses of life at a time when it would be most devastating.
When I saw my four-year-old granddaughter a couple of days later, I said to her, “Honey, I’m sorry your nana is so sick.” Perhaps she didn’t want to talk about it; perhaps she was busy playing with cousins, or perhaps she didn’t really hear me. All she replied was, “That’s okay.”
The next day, when I was with her again, after a few minutes, she nearly jumped in my face and yelled at me, “Aren’t you sorry about my nana?”
“Of course I am, Honey; remember, I told you I was sorry yesterday.”
“I guess you didn’t hear me but I am sorry, Sweetheart. I even wrote a prayer for your nana.”
“Where is it?” she demanded. “Read it to me.”
“I don’t have it with me. I left it at home, but we could say a prayer for Nana right now.”
“No, write it.”
She brought a small piece of paper and thrust it at me. As I struggled (out loud for her benefit) to find words, she scribbled on another piece of paper, first seeming to write what I said and later saying aloud words of her own. When I had finished, she said she was going to mail the prayers to her Nana in the city where she was in the hospital. She said, “I know how to mail things.”
Then she folded up both papers (rather messily) and asked me to write on them. At her instruction, I wrote, “To Nana at Indianapolis. She then immediately ran out of the house to place the “letters” in the rural mailbox.
I made a mental note to tell her father to retrieve them later but I forgot to tell him.
Two days more passed and I saw my little granddaughter again. She was not in a very good mood and I asked her why she was so “saucy” with me. Her answer, “I want to be saucy because I’m mad and I’m sad.” Of course I asked her why and her answer was heart-breaking. “Because I don’t want my nana to go and I know she has to. She has to next month.”
“How do you know that?” I asked.
“Because I know things; she tells me things.” And then she added in a tone of despair, “And the mail doesn’t even go to Indianapolis.”
There was nothing I could do at that point but tell her I loved her. I later learned that she was the one who got the mail every day for her daddy and she had been complaining about her letters not being taken until her dad finally looked at the box and discovered the “letters”.
The very next day after this dear precocious child told me she knew her nana had to go, her mother called and asked that the child be brought to Nana’s bedside to say goodbye. Her dad took those precious prayers along so she could give them to Nana personally.
Please Note: This is an entirely true and very recent story which is the reason why I request that my name be withheld if you use this article.
– Name Withheld
Meditation: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3
You will succeed in Jesus Name!
A man came home from work late again, tired and irritated, to find his 5 year old son waiting for him at the door. “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
“Yeah, sure, what is it?” replied the man.
“Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?
“That’s none of your business! What makes you ask such a thing?” the man said angrily.
“I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?” pleaded the little boy.
“If you must know, I make $20.00 an hour.”
“Oh,” the little boy replied, head bowed. Looking up, he said, “Daddy, may I borrow $10.00 please?”
The father was furious. “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is just so you can borrow some to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you’re being so selfish. I work long, hard hours every day and don’t have time for such childish games.”
The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. The man sat down and started to get even madder about the little boy’s questioning. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?
After an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think he may have been a little hard on his son. Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $10.00, and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door. “Are you asleep son?” he asked.
“No daddy, I’m awake,” replied the boy.
“I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier,” said the man. “It’s been a long day and I took my aggravation out on you. Here’s that $10.00 you asked for.”
The little boy sat straight up, beaming. “Oh, thank you daddy!” he yelled. Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out some more crumpled up bills. The man, seeing that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, then looked up at the man.
“Why did you want more money if you already had some?” the father grumbled.
“Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied.
“Daddy, I have $20.00 now. Can I buy an hour of your time?”
Share some time with those who need you. They need our time more then we will ever know.
Meditation: Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. – John 13:1
You will succeed in Jesus Name!