WHEN TO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT

Cyrus was an old farmer and had worked hard all of his life. He was independent, but he was getting older and everything was just a little bit harder. Still, he was determined to maintain his independence and pride.

When the Boy Scouts came around wanting to rake his leaves, he shooed them away, telling

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MURDER IN THE DARK

 Donna and I had barely started dating. She played in the orchestra for a musical, so I went almost every night. One night after the musical finished, she invited me backstage. As we were mingling with other cast and orchestra members, one of them made an announcement.

“Hey, everyone, how would

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PAYING IT BACKWARD

My daughter Heather had had a bad day. In fact, the whole week hadn’t been that good. She had started school, and there was a mixup in her classes. By the time she had that straightened out, a few days of class had already gone by. She then had to catch up, and there was the challenge of friends

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MEMBER OF A BAND

We were in a theatre production, and the men’s changing room was nothing but an old converted closet. We were stuffed tight in there, which made for times of joking, telling stories, and barely getting into costume before the opening scene. One night we were still getting dressed when the preshow

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GRAFFITI ARTIST

A truck was approaching, and I recognized some art work on the side and smiled. I thought back to the first day of class a couple of years earlier. The students were introducing themselves. When we got to Wyatt, his introduction was unique.

“I am a graffiti artist,” he said.

“Not like the graffiti

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THE TATTOO

Sunday, after church, we loaded our harp into the van, then, connected the van to the tent trailer. We were soon on our way to a music camp for our daughter Elliana to be part of an orchestra and a choir. We arrived at our destination shortly before five in the afternoon and rushed to the school where

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WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A GIRL

I was scoutmaster to eighteen boys. On Tuesday nights I handled the scouting activities, but on Sundays, though I met with them in their church class, another man taught them. But one week, after he finished the Sunday lesson and everyone was leaving, he stopped me.

“Daris, I would like you to teach

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COMPUTER REPAIR

My phone rang, and when I answered, it was Andy. “Hey, Daris,” he said, “can you come help me? My printer isn’t working.”

It was the early days of the internet, and most people didn’t know anything about it yet. A teaching salary didn’t pay all of the bills for my family, so I worked

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KEY COMMENTS

I finished passing back the linear algebra tests that I had graded to my students. “Check the tests over,” I told them. “Check to make sure the points I gave you add up to the score that I gave you. Let me know if you have any questions, or if there is anything that you disagree with.”

David

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HIGH STEAK DEALS

My scouts, like most young boys, were very competitive and always looking for an edge on everything. That seemed especially true when it came to food. They always wanted the biggest cookie, the best looking cupcake, or the largest steak.

I had only been a scoutmaster for a short time when I first saw

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THE CHRISTMAS GIFT

My son, Scott, and his wife, Janalyn, lived with us for a while this summer after graduation. His job didn’t start until September, and it gave us a chance to get to know Janalyn. Our life was quite a bit different from how she grew up. She had never canned food before, and she soon learned the

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TOOTHACHES AND PAIN KILLERS

Years ago, about the time Russia was opening up more to tourists from the west, three of my colleagues from the university decided to take a few weeks of their summer and travel there. They didn’t have any itinerary; they would just go and hope for the best. Upon their return, I asked Loren about

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PRACTICE AND PERFORMANCE

I was an offensive guard on our high school football team. We had a good line. We worked hard and practiced hard. Our backs were incredibly talented, but too often, because of their talent, they didn’t practice to their full potential. Often their efforts were only half-hearted. Johnson, our leading

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THE BIG WEDDING DAY

School was ending for the summer, and my roommates and I were all preparing to go our separate ways. Jim was getting married, so we all made plans to meet again at his and Michelle’s wedding.

Bruce suggested that we all pool our money and buy one bigger gift. He said he would be in charge of purchasing

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A NICE, PEACEFUL NEIGHBORHOOD?

My brothers and sisters have settled far and wide across the United States. This makes it hard to get together due to the cost of travel and hotels.

My mother bought a small condo that is somewhat central to many of us, and has invited us to use it to reduce expenses as we travel. It is in a warmer

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FLOWERS DON’T LAST FOREVER

My wife, Donna, looked out the window and saw two little girls. The girls are about nine years old and are good friends. Both of them are from single parent homes and have struggled in the tough situations they have found themselves in. We have watched these little girls, who were already quite shy,

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IT TAKES A COMMUNITY TO RAISE A CHILD

As I stood in the grocery store checking my list, I thought I heard someone call my name. I turned around, but I didn’t see anyone I recognized, so I went back to my list. I heard my name again, but this time there was no mistaking it. I turned to see a young man approaching me. He was about 6 foot

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THE KEY OF TOGETHERNESS

As we finished our scout meeting, I reminded the boys about the next week. “Don’t forget that it is our monthly service meeting. We will be helping Old Widow Rosting clean out her shed, so come an hour early and dress in old work clothes.”

“Not another service project,” Gordy grumbled. “Last

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GRANDCHILDREN CAUGHT RED HANDED

I had forgotten what it was like to have small children around the house when we promised our daughter we would watch her three children for a week. We were really excited. They live about 14 hours away, so we don’t see them as often as we would like.

The day finally arrived when we met her to pick

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AN INTERESTING PARTY

I always like to sit and chat with my students before class starts. One particular day, as we visited, a young lady spoke to me.

“Professor Howard, I think I remember you telling us you have a cow that you milk?”

“Yes, Abby, that is correct.”

“Can I come milk your cow? I’m from Los Angeles,

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AN EVENING CONCERT

It was the evening before Thanksgiving, and David stood in the stage wing ready to go on. It was to be his debut performance at one of the biggest, most famous concert halls in the world.

As the announcer welcomed everyone and talked about the many things they had to be grateful for, David considered

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JUST NEIGHBORLY NEIGHBORS

When Tina called, Sally could tell something was really wrong. Tina’s voice was panicked and tense. She was so tense, in fact, that Sally couldn’t understand what she was saying. Sally decided it would be best to walk to Tina’s house and see what the problem was.

Tina was new to the area, and

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A RULE OF THUMB- TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Derek, a friend of mine, had lost half of his thumb to a power saw while building kitchen cabinets. Despite this setback, I never once saw him discouraged, even during the days of his recovery. He always found a way to keep his sense of humor.

One day he agreed to let my scout troop use his wood shop

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ONE CAT IS ENOUGH

Jed wasn’t fond of cats. So when his wife approached him about getting a kitten he adamantly refused. “Why do you think we need a cat around here?” he asked.

“Because I counted two mice in our house today,” she replied. “And where there is one or two, you know there are more.”

“We’ll

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JOINING THE CHURCH CHOIR

I called my friend on Saturday evening. “Hey, are you going to go to the sock hop that was announced last week at church?”

“Not me,” he replied. “Sock hops are dumb. Besides, I plan to go to choir practice tomorrow, and I want my voice to be good and strong.”

“It will take more than a

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