Angel Stories and Inspirational Encounters
Welcome to the Angel Stories and Inspriational Encounters. If you are anything like us and LOVE inspirational stories about how GOD sends angels to interact, intervene and make their presences known in our lives, then you've come to the right page. Perhaps you need a pick me up or your day isn't going just the way you want it. Whatever the situation that has come to land you here on this page, GOD has brought you here. Below this introduction to our page, is heart warming and calming angel music. Whatever the need is for you being here you've come to the right place. Please take a moment to ask GOD to help calm your hearts and minds and feel free to hit the play button below and listen to some relaxation music that surrounds you with GOD's presence and his angels that he sends to keep us safe and protected while you read inspiriting stories of how angels look out for us and get us through the most troubling of times in life as well as how they can lend their friendship and so much more to us through the hand of GOD. Please feel free to share these stories with others or this page if you know someone who needs a little inspiration about how GOD works in our lives. So hit play on the player below and watch GOD and his angels go to work in your lives. This page like our E learning center that we have, will add new content as it becomes available. Please check back and watch for new updates.
Current Angel Stories Library Listing Table of Contents
Filling up on Faith
Walking with Angels
The Christmas Angel
The Lady in White
At a Crossroad
The Call that Changed my Life
A Long Forgotten Prayer
Meant to Be
Ready for Anything
He Makes Winds His Messengers
Give me a Break
Earning Their Wings
On a wing and A Prayer
1. Filling up on Faith by Erika Bentsen, Sprague River, Oregon
Christmas moring, I'd driven my boss, Bruce, to the hospital because he was suffering from kidney stones. We'd barely made it to the hospital because we didn't have time to fuel the truck. Now we were running dangerously low on gas and neither Bruce nor I had our wallets with us. When Bruce was discharged the nurse came running down the hall.
" I heard you were having trouble getting home" she said. She pressed a $25.00 Shell gas card into my hand.
" Thank you!" I said. Maybe miracles did happen on Christmas Day.
We made it to the Shell station but it was closed. Infact, it seemed like every station in the area was closed for the holiday. Now what? I drove up the mainstreet. I saw a sign for a gas station: " Open until 4 p.m. on Christmas Day". I glanced at the clock. 4:15pm. I stopped and got out and knocked on the door of the attendants booth. Lord, I need an angel.
The lone occupant turned to face me. It was a young man, with bright orange spiked hair and a metal stud through his lower lip. " Can I help"?
"We've spent all morning in the emergency room," I said. " We don't have enough gas to make it home or any money. I know you're not Shell, but could you use this card?"
"Those dont work here," he said. " But I"ll pump twenty-five dollars worth. You can come back and pay." I never wished anyone a merrier Christmas in my life!
The next day I drove back to town to return the card to the nurse and pay our bill at the station.
"What's this for?" the attendant on duty asked.
I told him about the young man's generosity. " He had earrings and orange spiky hair......"
"No one here like that, " He said.
I've driven past that gas station many times since, and I've not seen that young man. Maybe he moved on to another job. Maybe he dyed his hair and I just dont recognize him. The only thing I'm sure about is that on that Christmas, he was the angel that got us home.
2. Midnight Kiss by Mary Elizabeth Rathbun, Columbus, Ohio
Don and I welcome every New Year with a midnight kiss. In 55 years, we'd missed our kiss only once. During that year we were separated because he was in Pacific during World War II.
Now at half an hour to midnight, I lay in bed alone on my first New Year's without him, missing him terribly. How can I get through tonight? I thought.
I wached the Time Square celebration play on TV. " Wake me when the ball starts down." I said. Even though Don was gone, I often still talked to him.
I dozed off as the crystal ball decended. But something woke me from a deeper sleep. It was a kiss. A soft warm kiss on my cheek. "Don"? I said. The clock on the night table chimed midnight.
"Happy New Year, Love" I whispered. Knowing he could hear me. It seemed an angle helped me start the year off right. Just like always. Except this year a heavenly angel stood in for my earthly one.
3. Angel Sightings by Rose Hina, Roseville, Ohio
WHEN MY ELDERLY PARENTS moved to a trailer property, Dad lost no time putting in a flower garden and shade tree. Recently, an arborist came to spruce up the trees around our land, and a limb on Dad's shade tree caught my eye. My father tends a gardn in heaven now, but he left an angel here to watch over me.
4. Walking with Angels, by Donna Griffith, Lafette , Tennessee
Mom and I always realied on one another. I worked in fast food, but before and after my shifts, she served me the best home -cooked breakfast and dinner a girl could want. But Most of all, I looked forward to our evening walks.
One evening, we awlked down the road to the first major intersection. "Look both ways before you cross," Mom said. " Always the mother hen, " I said. Always trying to take care of me. Just like I"m always trying to take care of her. Lord, I wush we had someone to take care of us both.
There weren't any cars coming , so we stepped into the cross walk. Half way across the street I heard screetching wheels. A late model sedan was barreling right for us! There was no time to run. "Jesus," I mumbed, braced for impact.
That's when I felt them; two strong hands on my upper arms. The car was so close I could make out specks of dirt on the front grille. But the second before the collision I was lifted up into the air. I felt a rush of wind as the car passed me. Some how I'd been lifted out of harm's way just in time.
The next thing I knew I was sitting on the side walk across the street, the concrete under my palms. Mom!
I expected her to see her lying injured in the road. But she wasn't there. Mom sat a few feet away from me. " Are you all right?" she asked. "Yes," I said. "How are you?" Mom sat up straight, and took a big stretch. " I feel fine, "thanks to that man," she said.
"what man ?" I asked
"The man who picked me up and carried me over here just as the front of that car brushed passed me. How on earth did you get out of the way in time?".
"The man who helped you must have had a friend".
We looked around in either direction for our saviors, but there was no one in sight. I was unsure about exactly what had happened,but I'd never felt so cared for, so safe, and secure, either. Maybe there was someone else. Mom and I could rely on.
Times are easier now. Mom and I still take our evening walk. And our angels walk with us.
5. The Christmas Angel By Tullia Hamilton, St. Lousi Missouri
We found hope in a second hand store
CHRISTMAS WAS COMING, and while browsing a local second store with my sister, Sheila, I thought about everything my family had to be grateful for in 2006. We had to stay positive.
We wouldn't be in New Orleans this year. Our old neighborhood was still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Luckily I had room n my home in St. Louis to take them all in.
My family had lived in New Orleans for generations, including the last 50 years in the Lower Ninth Ward. I hadn't lived in the city since 1969, but I visted often and Christmas was still defined in my mind by the city's traditions.On December 25th, we made it to our friends' houses, enoying a drink , tasting their gumbo, and feasting on Mirliton, sweet potatoes and revelvet cake.
"keep an eye out for little things we can use as stocking stuffers," Sheila said , scanning an uppershelf.
This move has been so hard for Mama, Aunt Gladys and Aunt Ellen.
"It would have ben nice to have a little bit more of home for Christsmas".
We do have the angel, I thought. SOme of us had made a trip back to the house in New Orleans, to see what we could salvage. The Devastation was beyond belief. " I've lived in that neighborook all my life," my brother, Ro, remarked when we returned. "but I couldn't even tell where I was. All the land marks were gone.
Family Momentos were missing too. Decades' worth of photos, clothing, furniture-Most of it gone. Except for the few items that we boxed up and brought back to St. Louis. When we unpacked the boxes my mom exclaimed with delight, "you found the Christmas angels!" She picked up a transparent glass candle holder in the shape of an angel. It was one of a pair, a gift to my mother from her sister-in-law. The pair had stoodon our Christmas dinner table every year since the 1980's.
Where's the other one?" I said. Ro shook his head. " Lost forever." That single angel would have a place of honor on our holiday table this year, but there would be something asd about seeing her all alone. It was as if, just like us, she'd lost apart of herself. I tried to concentrate on all the angels we had since the storm. People donated clothes, toiletries, and money. Another friend even found a weekly bingo game in St. Louis to make my aunts feel more at home. Our family would be together this Christmas. GOD help me focus on that instead of what we lost, I thought. Maybe that pair of candleholders woudn't be there on the table, but one angel was a blessing enough.
Sheila and I brought our purchasesto the register. I had just taken out my wallet to pay when she grabbed my arm. " Look!" she said. " Is that what I think it is?"
I peered into the glass case. Could it be? Yes! Two glass angels-our angels, a pair.
The cashier seemed a little confused by the excitement. There was nothing special about the candelholders that she could see. But for us, they were a small miracle. When my family sat down to Christmas dinner that year, our table had never felt so abundant. Once there were two angels, and then one. and now three! Proof that with GOD, nothing good was ever lost forever.
6. The Lady in White by Marie Ansner, Overland Park, Kansas
Her scarf blew in the air like a giant wing
PASSENGERS FILLED the aisles as I made my way to the back of the plane. I tossed my back into the overhead compartment and sat down, nodding politely to the woman next to me. Soon the captain announced our take off. "Here we go," I said quietly. The woman glanced at me. She thought I was talking to her. The truth is, I was talking to the angel who travels wiht me. I sometimes forget that no one can actually see her. Some people find that odd- a woman my age talking to a guardian angel. Wasn't I a little old for that?I understand. I'd once thought I might be too old for that too.
Back in 1950, I was 10 years old-practically grown up. I thought- and spending Easter on Uncle Walt and Aunt Mary's farm in Minnesota, on the banks of the Mississippi River. After Lunch my mom said, " You can stay with the girls next door."
"Great!" I said, pulling on my coat and hat. Nine year old Elaine, and her sister, Maryann, who was eight, were like cousins to me. We'd had a lot of adventures together on the farm.
"Youre the oldest," my mother reminded me. " Look out for the others."l will. I said."
Elaine, Maryann and I played tagfor a while, thenI suggested we go down by the river. "Last year it was frozen solid until mid-April at least," I said. The girls nodded.
The ice was sinking righ from under us,
and we were still at least 75 feet from shore
Sure enough, the Mississippi looked like one big skating rink. We made our way tenatively across the slippery surface. About 50 feet out, Maryann slipped. "Careful," I said in my most grown up voice. Elaine and I helped her to her feet, and we ventured farther out. A hundred feet from shore we stopped and gased at the sheet of ice stretching out over the surface before us. Maryann slid over the surface in her boots.
"We must be a million miles out!" she exclaimed.
A thunderous crack sounded through the frozen air. The ice was breaking! " What are we going to ?" Maryann asked in a tiny frightened voice. I was just as scared as she was. But I was the oldest.
"It's ok, Maryann" I said. "Hold my hand." I reached for Elaine with the other hand. We hadn't walked far when we heard aother crack. I looked over my shoulder. Our foot prints were already filled with water. The ice was sinking right from under us, and we were still at least 75 feet from shore.
"I'm scared! "Elaine said.
Maryann was silent. She's probably too scared to even cry, I thought.
" Don't look back," I said, for my own good as well as theirs.
I didn't feel so grown up now. How I wished for someone I could turn to. When I was younger I used to ask GOD to sen an angel when I got scared.
But were angels something 10-year olds believed in? Had I outgrown them? A chilly wetness wept over my foot and I looked down. My ankles has sunk right into the ice, which was fast becoming slush.Who cares how old I am, I thought. I need an angel!
'Let's pray as we go," I said. Elaine and Maryann bowed their heads. I tried to imagine that a angel moved with us, protecting us. I squeezed the girls' hands and prayed with all my strength. "GOD please get us safely to shore. You're the only one who can."
Elaine squealed as we all sank knee-deep into the water and slush.
"This ice is still holding," I assured her. "We're almost there." Some how I knew we were being watched over. Had GOD heard my prayers?
Finally the girls and I made it to shore. I turned to look back at the river- all I could see was black open water. The ice must have been breaking behind us as we walked!
" Are you two ok?" I asked. Elaine nodded, but Maryann looked out at the river frowning. "What happened to the lady?" She asked.
"The lady who was with us on the ice,"Maryann said. " I know you said not to look back, Marie, but I couldn't help it. She was so beautiful, and when I saw her I felt better." So tat's why Maryann was so quite on the ice I thought.
"What did the lady look like?" her sister asked.
"She wore a long dress, and her white scarf blew in the air like a giant wing," Maryann said. "She stayed with us the whole time."
Elaine and I glanced at each other. We had no doubt that Maryann was telling the truth.
"But how come we didn't see her?"Elain asked.
I thought about it for a second.
"Maybe we're too grown up,"I said. "But that's okay. We know she was there."
I have done alot of growing up since then. But I have not outgrown GOD, or angels. From my seat on the airplane,I looked out at the clouds stretching in all directions, much like on the ice on the river had that day.
Across the ice or though the sky, I alwys know the lady in white is with me.
7. Heaven's Music by Sheletta Brundidge, Cottage Grove, Minnesota
My FOUR YEAR OLD SON stood by me in the kitchen, playing with a button on my dress. He pushed the buton through the hole and back out. Over and over. Daniel had Non Verbal Autism. He didn't talk, make eye contact or play with his siblings. He lived in his own little world.
I let out a sigh as I wiped down the counter. GOD please help Daniel find his voice. My three youngest children all had autism, but Brandon and Cameron had both responded well to speech therapy. Daniel had made little progress, only managing to master a couple of words, and only when prompted. He'd never spoken on his own.
Now with his speechtherapist losing faith that Daniel could be reached, I was losing faith that GOD had my back on this. I leaned against the counter, as angry with him as I'd ever been.
Then I heard something. Humming? I looked down at Daniel. He was stil dutifully working on my dress button but was he humming something vaguely familiar. Then I heard him sing 3 words: old town road. He was doing Lil Nas X ad Bill Ray Cyrus. My other kids had been playing it non stop for months.Who knew GOD had my bac all this time?
Daniel's therapist immediately incorporated music into his treatment and he progressed quickly. "Old Tow Road remined our family favorite. In time, Daniel learned to say 3 more words on is own: I love you.
8. Modern Love by Patricia Gallagher, Philadelphia Pennsylvnia
A mother and daughter find an old-time craft and a newfangled way to keep in touch
Mom, WE NEED to come up with a hobby to do together on Skype," my youngest daughter, Kristen, told me last spring. Two years ago Kristen had moved from Philidelphia, where we lived, to San Francisco. We skyped religiously for an hour every sunday, and her father was actually giving her guitar lessons that way.
I wracked my brain. " You know that I'm terrible at crafts, but what if we try making potholders?'" The ones you weave with the loops of cotton over a small loom." When I was 10, I'd made many and sold them for a nickle each in our nieghborhood. They were simple to master but I hoped I still had the skills.
"That sounds really cool," Krsisten said, and she immediately ordered each of us a loom and several bags of loops."We'll call our sessions Patti's Pot Holders, after you."
My happiest moments had ben those spent as a family. I tried to include my children in every aspect of my life. How I missed our Sunday dinners with all of us being gathered around the big dining table, but I also wanted the kidsto feel unfettered, especially as young adults. " You hae wings," I told them and Kristen had used hers to go 3,000 miles away. Every day seemed to bring a new adventure: "Mom and I kayaking!" "Mom, I'm hiking! "Mom I'm salasa dancing!" I could hardly keep up with her spontaneous text messages.
We spentthe first pot holder get together, figuring out the instructions, as I refreshed my memory. First you attach the loops horizontally to the sides of the 7 inch frame. Then working horizontally, you weave the other loops over and under the attached loops, using a crochet hook. To complete the pot holder, you create a crocheted edge. The whole process takes about an hour. By the third sessoin we'd gotten the hang of it well enough to have long conversations while we worked. " Can I ask you anything and you'll tell me the truth?" Kristen said., and soon the question cut both ways. I'd learned more about my daughter than when she was living nearby and I'd see her every week.
The 15 colorful pot holdersI've made so far hang on my kitchen wall, positioned to look like an arti installation. The real art- of listening and sharing quality time with my daughter-hung like angels in the airwaves between Phillyand San Francisco.
9. At a Crossroad by Gerald Rainey, Springfield Oregon
Sometimes the right direction isn't always as clearly marked as you might like
I SHIFTED UNCOMFORTABLY in my seat as the worship team played their first song. This was our pastor's last Sunday. He was taking up an exciting new position as regional director of the demonination. I was happy for him, but his move had me thinking even more about my own career. What was GOD's plan for my life? For Pastor Gary, the road ahead seemed crystal clear. Why couldn't it be like that for me?
For nine months now I"d been wrestling with the making a career change. The idea was to work with my wife, Rikki, in her small company where she served as a court-appointed-fiduciary for vulnerable clients, managing, their legal financial and medical decisions. I'd even talked to Pastor Gary about my struggle. "Sounds like we're both moving into uncharted waters," he'd told me. Just follow GOD's diretion.
The difference was, his promotion came with a pay increase. I was most likely at a major pay cut, probably to zero. I'd be giving up a job as the chief financial officer of a large credit union , which came with a good salary and health benefits, and walking away from a firmly established 25-year career. I prayed every day for direction but heard nothing in return.
How could I be sure I wasn't throwing away my family's futureand a sucessful career for nothing
Now the chuch with my wife beside me, the worship team contiued to play as I fought to pay atteniton.I put my head in my hands. Depends on me for everything I heard the words clearly and immediately looked up.
Where had that come from?
I glanced at Rikki. Her head was bowed. I whispered as I nudged her. " I think GOD just spoke me. He told me to depned on him."
Rikki nodded. "Sounds as if you need to make a decision."
We'd been all over it together. I wasn't usually indecisive. I was a numbers guy. I made decisions based on facts- retun on investment, data trend lines. My goal was to minimize the element of risk. Maybe that meant staying where I am. I'd seen plenty of businesses fail, and GOD wasn't always there to pick up the pieces. How could I be sure I wasn't throwing away my family's future and a successful career for nothing?
Up on the stage, Pastor Gary read from Dueteronoomy: " And you shall love the Lord your GOD with all your heart." Do that, he said and everything will fall into place. "If only it were that simple," I whispered to Rikki. My feet didn't know how to take a step foward. I just couldn't make the leap.
On the way home from church we talked about how the whole thing had started. Rikki had been telling me about a client of hers, an elderly woman by the name of Lucille Anderson.
Before Rikki took her case, Lucille had lost thousands of dollars, a situation that could have been avoided with some sound financial planning.
"I could help someone like Lucille," I said again, still trying to convince myself. " Budgeting, expenses, analyisis, investments- that's what I do. I could make a real difference."
It was hard to see how the work I did at the credit union benefited spcific individuals. The job was more than about ensuring the financial health of the credit union. With me focused on the clients' finacial affairs, Rikki would be freed up to concentrate on their medical, housing and health issues. Lucilles name had come up frequently in our conversations as a realife-example of how I could be effectivein this proposed new business venture.
For the rest of the day I thought about what I'd heard in church. WHy Couldn't I have the faith of Pastor Gary? Why was it so hard for me to believe that I could dpend on GOD for everything? My stomach was in knots. By 8 P.M. the cramps were so severe that Rikki rushed me to the ER. Doctors couldn't find the problem. Pain medication gave me no relief. I was in agony.
At 2 A.M. I was still in the ER, curtains drawn around my bed. Rikki was asleep in the chair, but I couldn't even sleep. A doctor came in to review my chart. " Your symptoms point to a bowel obstruction," he said but it's not showing up in the tests."
A nurse poked her head around the curtain. " Doctor, Lucille is readyto be discharged to West Valley if you can sign off on her chart," she said and mentioned the name of an assisted living facility I'd heard Rikki talking about.
"Is that Lucille Anderson, by any chance?" I asked. " Rikki opened her eyes. "What about Lucille?" she said grogilly.
The doctor looked surprised.
"I'm sorry I'm not at liberty to say."
"If it's Lucille Andersoon, you can tell me, Rikki said. "I"m her guardian."
The doctor flipped through the chart. " Well yes, I see that you are." Then he pointed to the curtain.
" Lucille is i the next bed."
The doctor lead Rikki to her. I lay back on the bed, stunned. The next bed? Only GOD would have arranged for the very woman who has sparked my interestin making a career change to just be feet away in my hour of need. What are the odds? I imagined a team of angels seeing every detail and orchestrating the meeting.
Now they would be dancing, clapping, and laughing with the Lord. The message couldn't have been clearer.
and as soon as I embraced it, my stomach pain disappeared.
Lucille and I were both discharged that day. Rikki followed up with Lucille, and I drafted a letter of resignation to the the CEO of the credit union. When I'd finished there wasn't a twinge of fear or regret.
At first it wasn't always easy finacially but we had savings to help and found sways to trim expenses. I focused on the warmth and satisifaction I got from working one on one with the vulnerable clients, and from working in tandom with my wife. In time our business grew. I knew GOD had me exactly here he wanted me.
10. The Call that Changed My Life by Sally Tankersley, Stow, Ohio
Nothing could bring back my son, but couldn't GOD somehow make him feel more alive to me?
THE RINGING ON THE PHONE startled me awake. I glanced at the clock. Nine A.M. on the dot. Must be important. I picked up. " Hello?"
"I'm trying to reach Sally from the Pathway to Wisdom blog," the woman on the other end said. She sounded young and anxious. My heart went out to her. I was a Christian life coach who specialized in helping other women. She must have been calling to set up an appointment.
I heard her take a deep breath. " My name is Courtney, and I dont know how to say this, but I think you are my grandmother."
I was so surprised, I almost dropped the phone. "What makes you think I'm your grandmother, Courtney? I said.
"You see, I recently uploaded my DNA to a geneology website, and the results showed that your daughter is my aunt, which would make you my grandmother."
My daughter and I had uploaded our DNA to the site a few months earlier. They were having a two-for - one special, and we were curious to see how much of our Irish and Enlish heritagewould show up in our DNA. I never could have anticipated something like this.
Sally gained a granddaughter and four great grand children when Courtney came into her life.
"Do you have sons?" she asked. " I do," I replied, "three. My youngest , John, passed away several years ago, though." I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
John, a diabetic, had been only 34 years old when he died of an aneurysm while awaiting a kidney transplant. I was going to be his donor.
Time hadn't lessened the painof losing him, and I often asked GOD for a dream, a beautiful bird singing at my window- something to make John more alive to me.
" I know that John died," Courtney said. " Before I called you, I did some research online. I found his obituary, and when I saw his picture I felt an instant connection. All my life I had wondered who my father was. The moment I saw that photo I knew I had found him". She said. "Even if it was too late to get to know him." " And your mother confirmed this?" I aksed.
"My mother has never wanted to talk about it. All she would say is that they were both very young. She never told my father about the pregnancy." Courtney said. " He never found out about me".
I felt tears pricking at my eyes. This young woman seemed to have found the the father she'd always longed to know . No one could tell her more about John than I could. He felt as alive to me as ever, as I thought of a hundred stories. I wanted to tell the daughter he never had a chance to meet. But maybe Courtney had gotten all she wanted from this phone call-confirmation that John was my son, her father.
Courtney's voice tenatively filled the silence. " I was wondering...........since we dont live too far from each other, how would you feel about meeting me? And if it wouldn't be too much, I know my kids would love to meet you too."
I gasped. If Courtney had children, that meant I was a great - grandmother! " I would absolutely love that," I told her. GOD had given me more than I could have ever asked for: someone who needed me to bring John to life for her. I could watch his spirit grow in a family I could love for him.
11. A Long Forgotten Prayer by Glenna McKelvie, Montgomery ,Texas
The gift for my daugter might just well have been for me
NOBODY IN MY FAMILY knew what I really wanted for Christmas. Not my parents nor any of my seven brothers and sisters. I'd told no one. No one but GOD.
I wanted a pedal car just like the one I'd seen on display at the Orpheum Theater when my family went to a movie. " Bright red," I prayed secretly in my bed one winter night. "with pedals to make it go , doors that open and close , and headlights!"
I couldn't expect a toylike that from my parents. It was too extravagantfor a family on a budge wihth eight children. Too extravagant for Santa as well. The gifts he bought were always more reasonably priced. A present this expensive would be a miracle , and only GOD could make miracles happen. So I prayed in secret for my bright red pedal car with headlights and doors that opened and shut.
But just because GOD could permorm miralces didn't mean he always did. Christmas morning came and went with no pedal car. I got over it pretty fast. By the time I was 7 I would have been too tall to fit inside it and press those pedals anyway.
Infact by then I had forgotten all about it. I'd gotten roller skates that year. From then on, if no snow was on the ground, I was zooming around the block in them.
I grew up, got married, had a child of my own - had my own financial problems. One day I sat at the kitchen table working out our holiday budget. My three-year old daughter, Jami, played on the floor. My husband was in school only working part time. I was already expecting our second child. Money was tight, but I'd learned long ago that you didn't alot of money to have a special Christmas.
"Daddy's home!" Jami announced as the front door opened.
Don sweapt her up in his arms. He'd spent the day at a friend's farm helping him clear the land before the snow fell. " Look what I got for a thank you," Don said. He pulled out oa book of green stamps out of his pocket. Stamps could be traded for select merchandise.
"These will come in handy for Christmas huh?"Once we 'lick 'em and stick 'em' into the book?"
The next few weeks were full of Christmas Spirit. On CHristmas Eve, Jami and I decorated the tree, and Don took the stampsto the store for presents. I kpet Jami distracted while he hid them. " Wait til you see what I got," Don said to me when she was asleep. He disappeared and came back with something big and bright red. "Isn't it great?" It's............"
"It's a pedal car!" I said. "A bright red pedal car!"
It wasn't the exact card I'd seen at the theater all those years ago, of course. This was an updated model. But it was bright red and the doors opened and closed. It had headlights. "It's exactly what I prayed for, I'd said in amazement. I was way too big for a pedal car, but GOD knew we never out grow miracles.
12. Spiritual Fitness by Andrea Arthur Owan, Tuscon Arizona
How A peregrine Falcon Helped me train for Pilgrimage
HIKING HAS NEVER been my passion. I was never so aware of the fact as I was this early August morning, trudging through the foothills in the Arizona heat. "I'll never make it up this slope, Lord, I thought to myself. I didn't have the breath to pray out loud. How am I going to walk hundreds of miles on a pilgrimage?
My husband, Chris, and I were preparing to walk part of the Camino de Santiago, or the way of the St. James, one of the oldest pilgrimage paths in Europe. We planned to take the Camino Frances route, starting at St. Jean- -Pied-de-Port in the southwest of France and traveling across the Pyrenees mountains in to northern Spain. We'd go as far as Logrono. One day we hoped to complete the journey to the church where St. James's bones are said to be buried.
The plilgrimage was my idea. I"d first heard about it years ago in a movie. I couldn't imagine making that kind of trek, even though my husband and I were fairly active, but the idea stuck with me.
Then one day I was buying a new pair of shoes at a local sports center, when I noticed an ad for a Camino de Santiago class. " The walk takes preparation," the woman at the sports center explained. " Yo'll learn what to expect and what equiptment you'll need, how to train, how to avoid injuries. The teacher has made the pilgrimage many times.
I won Chris over when I got home, and we both joined the class. We bought our equiptment. I started getting up earlyevery morning to walk the slopes near our house. The an unexpected oral surgery interfered with my training schedule. "Nothing strenuous for 8 weeks," the doctor advised me.
"What about Hiking?" I asked. The doctor frowned at me. "Nothing that could raise your heart rate. No hiking."
It's certainly raised now, I thought., sipping from my water bottle on my first day day back at training. Chris had continued on his own evening hikes, but my stamina had really fallen off. I vowed to complete three miles today, no matter what. I'd covered barely half of that, and I was almost ready to drop.
Movement in a eucalyptus tree up ahead caught my attention. A peregrine falcon took flight. It glided over the road in front of me and settled on a tree just a few feet away. I stopped to admire the bird's lustrous slate -colored wings and black -on -cream breast feathers. It's enormous black and gold eyes seemed to gaze right through me. Then it spread it's wings again and flew away.
Maybe the distraction had given me a chance to catch my breath. Maybe the falcon's beauty had inspired me. Whatever the reason, my next step didn't feel so difficult. I wasn't ready for a pilgrimage, but I was pretty sure I could complete today's three miles.
And I did. Seeing the falcon seemed to be a luky fluke. But the next day, the bird showed up again. And the day after that. And the day after that. Each day he flew closer and sat longer, watching me. My steps invariably felt lighter after I saw him.
It got to where I was happy to wake up early every morning. Would the falcon perch in a tree branch today?Or on a near by roof? How close would it get? I stopped worrying about whether I'd cover enough mileseach day and just look forward to meeting the falcon. It was my special secrete. I didn't tell anyone about it not even Chris.
On my last day of training, two days before our departure, Chris joined me on my early morning walk. We set out just after sunrise. An unnatural quiet and sense of peace blanketed the neighborhood. Nothing seemed to be stirring. We turned the corner out of our cul-de- sac, making our way on to the adjacent street. I saw a black object suspended in the sky up ahead. It was zooming our direction. The falcon!
I kept my eyes on him,waiting for the swerve that was coming. But the falcon didn't swerve. The raptor simply folded it's wings, tucked it's head and shot down the middleof the street like a missile locked on a target- us!
Chris and I froze. When the falcon was almost upon us, it spread and tilted it's wings, altering it's angle just enough. The bird cleared our heads by no more than than a foot. I looked up. The falcon arced around, it's shadow passing over us, and settled in a tree.
"Wow," Chris whispered. I squeezed his hand.
From the moment the two of us took our first steps on the Way of Saint James, I wasn't worried about whether I would make the entire trek. That was no longer important to me-or to Chris. What was important was the journey and whatever GOD might show us along the way.
Andrea and Chris logged almost 250 miles of walking in 16 days. They took side trips and stopped in hotels, pensions and hostelsalong the way. " When I first got the idea to do the walk, I wasn't sure what GOD wanted me to learn fromt he experience," Andrea says. A woman in her training class told her just to pay attention. "I came home feeling saturated in heaven," Andrea says. "Thingsdidn't bother me as much. Now I can just sit and restand be present." Andrea intends to return to the Camino Frances for another leg of the Journey.
13. Meant to Be by Lis Smith, Lowell, Massachusetts
More than anything I wanted to have a baby. GOD had another plan.
Bzzz. I stepped into the hallway of the hospital where I worked to answer the call on my phone. Children were the focus of my job at the hospital, but this call was about having a child of my own. I'd been waiting to hear back from the office of the fertility specialist who'd been guiding me through the in vitro fertilization proceduresfor eight months. So far the treatments hadn't resulted in a pregnancy, but maybe this call would be the first step toward realizing my dream of becoming a mother. " Hello?" I said, trying to control my excitement.
"I'm afraid I have bad news." the nurse said. "The doctor received your lastest lab test results, which disqualify you from further IVF treatments."
I listened numbly as she explained that my blood tests showed I was premenopausal. I mumbled assurances that I understood and thanked her for her help. When the call ended, I let myself cry for the dream that had come to an end.
The fertility specialist had done her best. Many doctors would have discouraged me from the start. I was 41 years old and single. But the doctor thought I still had a chance to conceive. More important, she understood what having a child meant to me. Growing up I'd wanted only two things: To be a pediatric nurse and to be a mother- perferably the mother of a large family. I had achieved my professional goals and recently been promoted to seniordirector of nursing and patient services. But marriage and motherhood eluded me. I went on dates, had a long term relationship. Nothing worked out.
I focused my attention on my nieces and nephews. Concentrated on helping the children at the hospita, some of who didn't have parents of their own. I tried to accept the cards I'd been dealt, but my own dream wouldn't die.
Eventually I decided to have a baby on my own. I wiped my eyes with a tissue. Now that chance is gone too, I thought. Everywhere I turned it seemed the world was telling me my dream wasn't meant to be, so why couldn't I let it go? I slipped my phone back into my pocket and took the rest of the afternoon off.
On the way home I called my sister, Elly. She met me at my apartment. "Have you considered adoption?" she asked.
I shook my head. How could I make her understand? I imagined a thousand timeshow it would feel to learn I was pregnant. And then experience the moment when I felt a visceral connection to the child growing inside me, the child who was unmistakably GOD's unique gift to me. Clearly it wasn't meant to be.
I tried to loose my self in my work. On our busiest days, I could forget my deep sadness completely. And thankfully, most days were our busiest.
A couple of weeks after the nurse called, I stepped out of a medical unit and rounded the corner toward my office. Another nurse was coming toward me, but I hardly noticed her. My eyes went straight to the baby in the stroller she was pushing. The little girl looked like an angel, her hospital gown hanging off her narrow shoulders, with big blue eyes, and one, wispy blond curl atop her head.
"Who's this?" I said smiling for what felt like the first time in weeks.
"This is Gisele", The nurse said.
I leaned down and playfully twisted a finger in her feather light curl.
"She was born at 29 weeks, " the nurse said. One pound fourteen ounces. Exposed to narcoticsin utero. She continues to have issues and needs a medical foster home."
"Where are her parents?" I asked.
"Both parents are addicts," the nurse reported. The department of Children and Families is looking for a foster parent who can care for a preemie with multiple health issues, including a feeding tube. Her neuroligical prognosis is still uncertain. She's up to twelve pounds , but at eigh months old, she's already missed several milesones."
Living in a hospital can't help, I thought. A baby needed to interact with the wider world to thrive.
"Enjoy your stroll," I told the nurse.
"We'll take excellent care of you here, Gisele,"
Finally! Liz and Gisele make it official.
I FOUND MYSELF repeating the girl's name to myself on my drive home. Her face appeared before me at odd moments all evening long. The next day I wandered up to her unit after work. I held her, talked to her, helped her sit up. Time seemed to stand still. The little visit felt like a gift. If I were her foster mother, I could do this every day. And Gisele needed someone with medical training. She needed me.
I applied to be a foster mother and was quickly approved. My coworkers threw me a baby shower. They loaded my car with supplies and toys- there was just about everything I would need to care for a nine month old who was the size of a three month old.
I fostered Gisele for 553 days. During that time, I was struck with the significanceof her birthdate. She was born July 19, 2016-One week before I started my fertility treatments and nine months before I met her.
On October 18, 2018, I officially adopted Gisele. On that day I stood in front of a judge who read my daughter's name out for the first time : Gisele Catherine Smith." Something deep inside me stirred. It was an emotion I'd never felt before, but it was familiar all the same. I'd imagined it all my life: a mothers visceral connection to her child. Her very own child, who was a uniquie gift from GOD. A gift given just exactly the way it was meant to be.
Liz is happy to report that Giseleis now an outgoing, bubly three year oldwho is thriving in preschool, singing, dancing, and sculpting iwht play-doh. She still usees her feeding tube sometimes but has started eating solid foods. "IF you'd told me a year ago that Gisele would be asking for pizza, " Liz says, " I wouldn't have believed you." Even more than pizza, Gisele loves having a family, including 13 cousins. " Her progress is slow, but she's headed in the right direction," Liz says. And her mom will be with her every step of the way.
14. Ready for Anything by Donna Ide, Rehboth, Massachusetts
The New Year had barely begun when I counted my very first blessing
THE NIGHT SKY out the kitchen window was a dark inky blue with traces of wispy white snowflakes twirling everywhere. But inside it ws cozy and bright. My oven and I had been working overtime, and now the whole house smelled delightful. The aroma of the chicken casserole cooling on the counter mingled wiht the smells of freshly basked dinner rolls and home made chocolate chip cookies. Everything was coming together beautifully.
What a wonderful way to usher in the new year- a potluckdinner and some board games, followed by a midnight prayer service with my church family. We were alll looking forwad to another New Year's Eve celebration and I didn't want to be late.
Once the casserole had colled enough, I wrapped everything in aluminum foil for the short car ride to the church. I slipped on my coat, gloves and boots and braced myself. The frigid air stole my breath. The snow was falling hard.
After making sure everything was secure in the passenger seat, I pulled out of the drive way onto the road. I stepped on the breaks and the car skidded a few extra feet. I gritted my teeth. Between the snow and the ice the road was slippery. I'd drive carefully. But some extra protection couldn't hurt. I took a deep breath, calmed down and recited, " For he will command his angels concerning youin all your ways." Then I was on my way - very slowly.
The drive was an uneventful one, and when I neared the church I spied an open parking spot not too far from the parish center's entrance. I checked on the casserole- still warm.
I got out of the car and gathered my offerings , stacking them precariously one on top of the other. I carefully -oh so solowly- made my way down the row of parked cars.
The last thing I wanted to do was slip and fall. I was so focused on placing one foot in front of the other, I didn't notice the car barrleing toward me until it was too late.
It was a bulky late -model sedan. And it was going too fast, sliding on the ice. Laden with the heavy casserole dish, I stood frozen in fear. The driver didn't even seem to notice me and made no effort to stop. I couldn't have moved if I tried. Within the blink of any eye, the grille of the car was mere inches from me. I braced myself for impact.
I'll never forget what happen next. Or, more accurately, what didn't happen. I was not hit.
To my utter amazement, I watched as that huge sedan was picked up and placed back down on the icey asphalt, barely missing me. The car sped past, the wind rustling through my hair.
I still can't explain what happened that night. But I didn't have to see the angel to know that one was ushering me-literally- into the new year.
Although it's been years since that Icy New Years's Eve in the church parking lot, Donna knows that she still has angels coming to her rescue. " Thanfully nothing as dramatic as that event," Donna says, "But angels are watching all the time." Once while visiting my brother, she noticed she'd lost one of her treasured earrings. They turned the house upside down looking for it. She did the same thing whe she got back home. The earring was no where to be found. Days turned to weeks, and she asked GOD to help. "I need angelsto ad in the search. "SIX months later, Donna found her lost earring on the back porch, sparkling in the morning light.
15. He Makes Winds His Messengers by Joe Whalen, Ocean Island Beach, North Carolina
CLEAR BLUE SKIES. Bright June sunshine. It was a perfect Sunday morning for golf, but it wasn't a perfect day for me. My wife, Jan had died recently, and I missed her terribly. Just last night, I"d been staring at her picture. "Honey, I'm sure you're happy, but it would mean the world to me if you sent me a sign so I knew for sure."
My family had rallied around me. My son had driven my grandson nine hours from their home in Delaware to mine in North Carolina to stay with me for two weeks. On the visit I had suggested we meet half way in Virginia. It would cut their drive in half, and we could take the weekend to go golfing together. My son had eagerly agreed.
As we were coming of the tenth green toward the golf cart, I saw a beautiful black and yellow butterfly sitting on the steering wheel. I slid quietly into the cart, and as soon as we headed for the eleventh tee, the butterfly flew onto my shoulder. I thought it would fly off when I got out of the cart, but instead it stayed there.
On the fifteenth hole, I took my stance for my next shot. The butterfly flew off my shoulder, swirled around my club and then my arms as if enveloping me in a hug. It landed on my left cheek, then whispered by my lips and finally flew straight ahead until it disappeared into the sky.
The boys and I were speechless. Yellow was Jan's favorite color. As the butterly floated off, I knew for sure she was happy in heaven. The boys had given me a day of golf to remember.
16. Only Human? By Susan Banks -Yurik, Parma, Ohio
THE SNOW WAS really coming down now. It swirled around the windshieldof my brother's idling truck. I sat in the passenger seat, catching glimpses of my brother and husband, feet slipping on the cice, trying to push our car into a parking lot set off the road.
With a polar vortex bearing down on us, news alter had urged people to stay in doors. But we had to pick up our daughter at college. My husband and I though the storm would hold off. We were wrong. Luckily, we'd been stranded near my brother's house.
I saw my husband grip his lower back. Lord, please send your might angelsto help us.
Straining to see if the guys had made any progress, I noticed a set of flickering headlights approaching. It has to be an emergency vehicle, I thought. No one else in their right mind would be out now.
My heart sank- it was just an old pick up truck. It stopped beside our car, and a young man stepped out. He wasn't wearing a coat or a hat or gloves, just a T-shirt and jeans. He walked calmly over to my husban and brother. Standing between them, he gripped the bumper and lifted. He pushed the car with such force, my brother and husband could barely hold on to help keep it steady.
Once the car was safely in the lot, the young man gave us a nod before returning to his truck. As he turned around to head back the way he came, I noticed that both his headlights and tail lights were off. He simply vanished into the snow. Our daughter would get a late start on her winter break , but ours had come right on time.
17. Restoration Complete by Barry Winters, Mount Savage, Maryland
What happens when a retired fire fighter teams up with a calico stray
NOBODY KNEW where the calico cat came from. She just appeared on my in-law's porch one night. " We put a box outside so she had some shelter," my mother-in-law said," Looks like we have an outdoor cat now."
Alot of folks dump their unwanted animals on that old country road. My in- laws had taken or re-homed many strays in their lives, but I felt especially bad for the little female calico. I passed by almost every day and got in the habit of stopping to say hello to her from afar. Soon she came to expect my visits. When I pulled up in my truck one day, she made a beeline for me and hopped right into the cab. She purred and showered me with affection.
I rubbed the cat behind her ears. Somehow I think I knew how she felt, in a new place in her life, not quite sure what the future held. That last year had been rough for me. I'd been forced to take some time off from my work as a firefighter after a heart procedure would put an end to it. I had an irregular heart beat known as ventricular tachycardia. I was hoping the procedure would not put an end to it. I missed being at the station with the crew of firefighters I workd along side.
My wife, Pattysue, and I lived in western Maryland, right on the Mason- Dixon Line. Her parents lived on a piece of farmland nearby. I'd been renovating a house on their propertyoff and on for more than three years now - a beautiful 1817 stone house that used to belong to Pattysue's grandmother. We planned to move in as soon as the restoration was complete, but I was behind in my tasks. The heart procedure was yet another set back.
Once I had recovered from the operation, I went back to the doctor to get cleared to return to work. "I'm sorry, Barry. The procedure didn't fix the issue," he said. "We can treat your heart issue with medication, but you'll have to make some lifestyle changes. The physical stress of firefighting takes a huge toll on your health, and we can't risk the complications. It's time for you to retire." I was 51 years old and the news was devestating. Pattysue tried to help me look on the bright side. " You can spend all the time you want restoring the house," she said. That's why I drove to my in-laws so often.
Puddin was Barry's on the job companion. The capstone of the winter's house has the initals of the orignal owner and the stone mason who built it in 1817.
MY NEW UNIFORM became old jeans and a flannel shirt. I felt stronger physically, but my spirits were crushed. As a firefighter, I could be on 24 hour shifts at a time, spending nights at the firehouse, surrounded by people I repected and trusted. Pattysue understood that our marriage-no matter how happy- couldn't fill this void in my life. To cheer me up she invited the old crew over. We caught up and enjoyed some of my homemade oyster stew, but after they left I was back to being a team of one.
"Just like you," I said to my calico friend. "A team of one. " The cat hopped out, and I drove on to stone house to work.
One afternoon my mother -in-law walked over to check on the house's progess, the calico cat following closely behind her. " My humming birds will be back soon," she said. "I'm worried they'll be taunted by you-know-who." After a brief tour inside, she went back home- minus one cat. The cat was delighted with her new commodations. She was content lying on the porch in a patch of sun. I'd never seen a huming bird here, and I had no flowers to attract them.
The calicaco finally got her name during a lunch break in the garage. I was having scrapple, a type of loaf of meat and flower I'd eaten since childhood. " puddin," we called it. No one I knew these days liked it. Most of the people turned up their nose at the odd mystery meat in the dish. I was enjoying some of when the cat sauntered in and mewoed her interest in having a taste. I gave her the last bite. She loevd it too. "Well, Puddin," I said.
"We are kindred spirits."
Puddin' was right there with me every day while I worked on the house. What ever room I was in, she watched from the window. If I went out in the garage for a tool, she followed me with her tail high. When I took my lunch break she sat at my feet. I always gave her the last bite. She became such a fixture to my day-to-day life, I didn't feel alone anymore. I was back to working in a team. Even if Puddin' wasn't doing any of the heavy lifting or hammering, she was still the perfect assistant. The one who was always there to keep me company and encourage me with her meows.
Finally Pattysue and I moved into the stone house and made it our own. Country farm living was made sweeter every day by my feline companion. In the mornings she sat next to me on the porch and watched the sun rise.
One moring it crept up over the hill and bathed the land in a beautiful yellow glow. What will I do today I thought. The long -in-coming renovation was complete, and I wondered where I would go from here. But the future wasn't a daunting uncertainty to me anymore. Not with Puddin' on my team, and GOD, who'd sent her my way.
18. Give me a Break by Amy Barta, Plymouth, Massachusetts
Living with my disability was one thing, but to still be living at home with my parents? Ugh
I OPENED MY EYES that first morning in my new apartment, half expecting to hear jostling around the house. Nothing. No mom cooking breakfast down the hall. No dad powering up the leaf blower outisde the window. No nieces and newphews running across the floors. Just me, myself and I. Alone. This is perfect I thought.
I was 31 and finally living on my own. My own schedule. My own rules. My own life. I wanted to strike out and pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Maybe not a world- traveling writer-the way i'd imagined when I was younger- but at least independant. My parents didn't understand, so I'd left without filling them in on my decision.
I'd stayed in bed a while longer, savoring the silence. It had taken me a long time to get here. In july 1997, at age 13, I'd been diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia. My parent and older sisters were behind me through four mericless relapses and eight years of brutal treatment, including Chemo and radiation.
The treatments left me with a slew of side effects, but by the grace of GOD, I was able to graduate, not only from high school, but also from the University of Michigan. After college, I'd contended myselfwith staying home, sharing an address with the people who raised and loved me.
It wasn't so bad. Mom and dad had redesigned the kitchen and bathroom to make cooking and showering as easy as possible for me, neurotoxicityon my brain stem had robbed me of my balance. They also added on a beautiful deck, where I could sit and read and recharge. My sisters and their children came around alot. Between visits, I worked on my blog about what I'd learned from fighting cancer. But what kind of real writer still lived with her parents at my age? My illness had cheated me out of so much. I hoped my parents would understand why I had to move out.
A group of friends help me strip my bedroom and pack my clothes. We accomplished all this while my parents weren't home. I figured I just has to prove to them that I could do it.
My own schedule. My own rules. My own life. I wanted to strike out and pursue my dream of becoming a writer.
Now I was laying in bed thinking about how those friends had been the ones to tell my parents I was gone, but not where I had gone to. I didn't want them coming to get me. I needed a chance to prove myself.
A few blissful days went by. Sure, running the dishwasher, and doing laundry proved daunting. And after only one week, the living room really was asking for a good cleaning. My exhaustion problems made it difficult to keep up, but at least I was on my own right?
On day 17, I cleared a spot at my desk and sat down to write. I looked around at the mess. How could I write when I needed to vacuum? I went to the closet to pull out the machine but quickly put my hand on the wall to steady myself. I physically couldn't do it. How is a person without a trace of balance supposed to push a vacuum around a room for a thorough cleaning?
It was time I call my mom.
"Amy, where are you? Tell me you're okay?"
"Mom, I thought I wanted to live on my own, but I didn't know it would be like this," I said through tearss. " I dont want to be here anymore!"
Mom and Dad drove over that night. It was obvious that I was struggling, but my parents wouldn't let me give up on the idea so quickly. " We want you to be sure," Mom said. "please think this thing through." They didn't ever want me to move out in the same way someday in the future. I'd made a huge mistake. It was the most immature thing I'd ever done.
THE NEXT DAY, Mom called.
"Amy," She said, "if you're really ready, we'll help you move back home." I couldn't believe they forgave me so quickly! Pretty soon I was in my old room, and we fell into our family routine. My nieces and nephews running around and screaming, "Aunt Amy, Aunt Amy, watch this!" While my sisters and I caught up. I was so happy to be surrounded by their noise again.
I sat down to write at our kitchen table one day, watching as my mom emptied the dishwasher. I simply didn't have the energy to do such things, at least not consistently. I still needed my parent's help. So what? I'd need doctors and nurses and angels trying to survive cancer. I Needed my family now. Admitting it and appreciating it was the most mature decision I've made so far.
19. Earning Their Wings by Carol Port Rosenstein, Los Angeles, California
We were at a respite for my husband, Irwin, who has Parkinson's disease, when suddenly he sat down at the piano. He hadn't played in years. but his posture improved and he worked the keys with confidence.
"He looked like a new man," I told his doctor who wasn't all that surprised. Exposure to music has known benefits. So I gathered a few of Irwin's friends for a jam session. We met weekly and the band uplifted the players and their care givers alike. Suddenly we were becoming one big famiy, all in this together.
In 2014 Iwin and I founded Music Mends Minds to encourage other care givers to try this approach. There are currently 18 Music Mends Minds bands in the United States. Go to musicmendsminds.org to see if there's a band in your city or to request a band kit. Music can make a difference.
20. On a wing and A Prayer by Reba Wiley, Pine Hill, Alabama
TWO YEARS AFTER putting my education on hold, I was ready financially to complete the B.A. I needed to enter the seminiary. I'd gotten as far as I could at a junior college close to home. Now that I had to finish up at a university 70 miles away. I sat n my dorm room as long as I could stand it, then went wandering arund by myself. Eventually I wound up in the cafeteria. My shoes echoed on the terazzo floor. The glow of the street lights filtered through the enourmous plate glass windows, casting distored shadows across the big empty room. I'd never felt so alone in my life. I thought of calling my mother to come get me. I just couldnt face college on my own. Maybe this isn't what GOD wans for me I thought. " Lord, I can't stay here!" I said. "I can't do it!"
I focused on the double doors at the far end of the the cafeteria and kept walking. I"d go back to my dorm and call my mom to say I'd made a mistake.
The doors opened before me. Light from the outside outside hall streamed in, and standig in the middle of it was a familiar face. Cindy was a freshman in my high school when I was a senior. I knew who she was- everybody - did- but there was no way she would remember me. She was a beauty queen and a majorette, and we had no friends in common.
Reba Dobbins?" Cindy said. " What are you doing here?" " I came back to school, I stammered, shocked she knew my name. "Come join my roomate and me for pocpcorn and a movie!" The next morning, college didn't seem so daunting. I still had plenty of challenges ahead of me. In my 39 year career as a pastor I would face plenty more. And none of them alone.