“This was one of my favorite books when I was growing up,” my mom told me years ago when she gave me a copy of Anne of Green Gables. It quickly became a favorite of mine, too. I loved reading about … Continue reading
Sometimes you read or hear a story and it touches you so deeply, you never forget it. This story is like that–for me, anyway. I first heard it when a pastor shared it in a sermon about 20 years ago. It was first published in the 1970’s in a magazine called Home Life, and there are actually two versions of it, but the version I’m sharing is the one I heard first. I like to think it’s a true story, because it has such a beautiful ending. Read it and you’ll see…
THE TEACHER by Elizabeth Silance Ballard
There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his
papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.
Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners… he is a joy to be around.”
His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well-liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”
His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”
Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class.”
By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.
Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.”
After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.
Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets.”
A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, second in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer. The letter was signed,
Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.
The story doesn’t end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he’d met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.
They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”
Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”
What a difference this teacher made in that little boy’s life! It just shows you what a little compassion, caring, love, and encouragement can do. It can make a huge impact, and it’s something we all can do. This story is a good reminder for me, and I hope it is for you, too!
Is there anyone who has made a life-changing impact on you?
In mid-October, I finally got around to buying a pumpkin for my porch. I was at Wal-Mart, and I saw a display that said “Pink Pumpkins.” When I went over to look, I found that these pumpkins benefited breast cancer research. Then I remembered that October was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (see NBCAM.org). So of course I bought a pink pumpkin–not only did it benefit a good cause, but I also loved their uniqueness.
Cancer had also been on my mind just the month before, in September, when I had to have a biopsy myself. My lump was in a different area and it turned out to be benign, but for a short time I faced the possibility of having cancer. And that makes you look at life a little differently. Priorities change. Things that seemed important before suddenly don’t matter. One thing that struck me when I went to the huge medical complex to have my biopsy done was how packed the parking garages and parking lots were. That meant there were a lot of people dealing with cancer and other serious illnesses. Thankfully, there continue to be more and more cancer survivors as time goes on and hopefully we’re much closer to finding a cure soon.
Around this same time in September, when I was cleaning out a cabinet filled with books in my living room, I came across one I had read several years ago, One Month to Live. The book (a New York Times bestseller) challenges you to live life fully, with passion and purpose, making the most of your time here on earth. And living life with an eternal perspective–focusing on what really is important and leaving a meaningful legacy.
I noticed I had marked a page with a sticky note, so I went to that page and reread it. It included the story of a young wife and mother who was losing her battle with cancer. And then I thought about all those cancer patients at the medical complex. Even though there are more survivors and better treatments, some patients will make it through, and some, like this brave woman, will not. But she had an eternal perspective–she had the hope of heaven because of Jesus and knew she would see her family in heaven again. Here is the passage:
Jess Moody was a young pastor in Owensborough, Kentucky, when he became good friends with a young couple in his church. One day the husband came to Pastor Moody’s office clearly distraught and said, “Jess, I’ve just heard the most awful news. My wife has terminal cancer, and it has spread all over her body. The doctors have just told us she has only weeks, not even months, and Jess, she’s at the hospital, and she’s asking for you. We don’t know how to handle it. We don’t know what to do.”
Jess immediately went to the hospital. There the young wife and mother said to him, “I remember in one of your sermons you said a thousand years is like a day to God and a day is unto a thousand years. Is that true? Is a thousand years like a day to God?” The pastor said, “Yes, it’s in the Bible.” She said, “Good, because I’ve been doing the math, and I figure if a thousand years is like a day, then forty years is like one hour. I’ll be leaving my husband and the children soon. He may live another forty years, but that will be just like an hour to me in heaven. When he gets to heaven, I’ll greet him and say, ‘Where have you been for an hour? Did you just go to the office, or were you running errands? I’ve missed you.’ My children may live another seventy or eighty years, but that will be like two hours to me. When they get to heaven, I’ll greet them and say, ‘How was school today? Mom misses you when you’re gone for a couple of hours. I wonder how you are doing, because mommies don’t like to be away from their children long.’ “
Jess Moody said two weeks later she went to be with the Lord, and the last thing she said to her husband was “I love you. Take care of my children. I’ll see you in an hour.”
From ONE MONTH TO LIVE, by Kerry and Chris Shook
What an inspiring example of having an eternal perspective! I was so touched when I read this. Because it was a tragic situation. But this woman’s story shows that even through tragedy, there is hope.
There is always hope.
You can find out more information about cancer, support, and treatments at Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the American Cancer Society.
Imagine my surprise when I went for a walk in a quiet wooded area recently and saw this sweet little creature! It looked like a baby bird, but it was so big…probably at least a foot tall. I took some pictures with my i-Phone…
I thought it might be either a baby hawk or an eagle–I’ve seen eagles flying in the area before–and those feet really looked like eagle feet to me. The baby didn’t look or seem injured in any way. I didn’t know if it had fallen from a nest or why it was there. Hopefully the mama was close by. The closest I got to the baby bird was about five feet. Later on, I googled “baby eagle photos” and found a variety of different–looking baby eagles…some had yellow beaks, but some had beaks like this one…and the same coloring.
The baby bird wasn’t there when I checked back. Hopefully the baby is with mama bird.
So what do you think–could this be a baby eagle? Do any of you know anything about eagles?
What an inspiring little film! I’m sure you’ve heard of it–it’s had over 2 million views in a very short time. Filmmaker Nirvan Mullick made this film in East L.A. and posted it on Vimeo this past Monday. Caine’s Arcade is about a very creative and imaginative 9-year old boy who built his own cardboard arcade inside his dad’s auto parts store…and got the surprise of his life one special day! To see Nirvan Mullick’s Vimeo posting, click here. It will definitely make you smile…and maybe even tear up a little! :) I just love great stories like this!
Is is possible that summer is almost over? I will remember this summer as the summer of The Move and the hottest summer I’ve known in Arkansas. And I’ll remember how much I loved seeing the daisies begin blooming in my garden every June. Early in the month, they would start opening up, like little bursts of sunshine, along the back fence. I planted the Shasta Daisies from an inexpensive packet of seeds. I usually don’t have great success with seeds, but these sprouted right up and bloomed for several months that first summer. The next year there were even more daisies. After a few years, I started thinning the daisies out and giving them to friends to plant in their own gardens.
This particular daisy was one of the first that bloomed this summer. Little did I know when I took this picture in early June that a month later my house would be sold! I put it up for sale at the end of June, thinking that it might sell by next spring with the housing market being so slow. Much to my surprise, the house sold in a week! At first I was excited that it sold so fast, but then reality set in…I have a month to find a new place to live and move! Yikes!
The first two weeks of apartment-hunting were pretty discouraging. Nothing that I liked was available when I needed it. Rent was higher than I thought it would be. An apartment community I was interested in had an apartment available, but it was too small. Things were not looking good.
Then, the third week of my search, an apartment I could realistically fit into suddenly opened up at a place I really liked. My house was inspected and I didn’t have to repair or replace anything. Things were looking up! The move was still pretty crazy, though. I didn’t realize how much “stuff” I had collected while living in my little house. I donated a lot of things to Goodwill. It felt good to do some “downsizing.” There’s nothing like a Move to make you want to get rid of things–especially when you’re moving in 105 degree heat! You certainly don’t want to be lugging things around that you don’t need or use.
I’m pretty settled in my apartment now, and I’m enjoying this new place that will be my home for the next year or two. Friends ask me if I miss the house. I don’t really…it wasn’t my “dream” house. It was a nice little home that I enjoyed living in for the time I was there. But it felt like the right time to sell and move. And I certainly don’t miss mowing the lawn :) But I do miss the flowers sometimes. I had flowers that bloomed from early spring to late fall…it was always a delight to watch them bloom each season.
And the daisies were one of my favorites.