The Parachute

Charles Plumb, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was a jet fighter pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a Communist prison.
He survived that ordeal and now lectures about lessons learned from that experience.
One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”
“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.
“I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!”
Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your ‘chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform-a Dixie cup hat, a bib in the back and bell-bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I might have passed him on the Kitty Hawk. I wondered how many times I might have seen him and not even said good morning, how are you or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot, and he was just a sailor.”
Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know. Now, Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory-he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute and his spiritual parachute.”
He called on all these supports before reaching safety. His experience reminds us all to prepare ourselves to weather whatever storms lie ahead.
SUGGESTION: Recognize people who pack your parachute and strengthen yourself to prevail through tough times.
— Author Unknown

His name was Fleming

Who would have guessed this was how a wonderful life-saving drug was discovered? Certainly not me. You know I always wondered how Winston Churchill and Alexander Fleming got their starts…

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to eke out a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby boy. He dropped his tools and ran to the boy. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved. “I want to repay you,” said the nobleman. “You saved my son’s life.” “No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,” the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer.

At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family’s cottage. “Is that your son?” the nobleman asked. “Yes,” the farmer replied proudly. “I’ll make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll grow to a man you can be proud of.” And that he did.

In time, Farmer Fleming’s son graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin.

Years afterward, the nobleman’s son was stricken with pneumonia. What saved him? Penicillin.

The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill.

Someone once said, “What goes around comes around.”

Author Unknown

Forrest Gump In Heaven

Forrest Gump dies and goes to heaven. He is met at the pearly gates by St. Peter himself. The gates are closed, however, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper. St. Peter says, “Well, Forrest, it’s certainly good to see you. We have heard so many good things about you. I must inform you that the place is filling up fast, and we’ve been giving an entrance quiz for everyone. The tests are short, but you need to pass before you can get into Heaven.
Forrest responds, “It sure is good to be here, St. Peter. I was looking forward to this. Nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. Sure hope the test ain’t too hard; life was a big enough test as it was.”
St. Peter goes on, “I know, Forrest, but the test is only three questions:

1. What days of the week begin with the letter T?

2. How many seconds are there in a year?

3. What is God’s first name?”
Forrest goes away to think the questions over. He returns the next day and goes up to St. Peter to try to answer the exam questions.
St. Peter waves him up and says, “Now that you have had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your answers.”
Forrest says, “Well, the first one how many days of the week begin with the letter ‘T?’   Shucks, that one’s easy. That’d be Today and Tomorrow.”
The Saint’s eyes open wide, and he exclaims, “Forrest! That’s not what I was thinking, but you do have a point though, and I guess I didn’t specify, so I will give you credit for that answer. How about the next one? How many seconds in a year?”
“Now that one’s harder,” says Forrest, “but I thought and thought about that, and I guess the only answer can be twelve.” Astounded, St. Peter says, “Twelve! Twelve! Forrest, how in Heaven’s name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?”
Forest says, “Aw, come on, St. Peter, there’s gotta be twelve, January second, February second, March second… ”
“Hold it,” interrupts St. Peter. “I see where you’re going with it. I guess I see your point, though that wasn’t quite what I had in mind, but I’ll give you credit for that one too. Let’s go on with the next and final question. Can you tell me God’s first name?”
Forrest replied, “Andy.”
When St. Peter asked how in the world he came up with the name Andy, Forrest replied, “You know, St. Peter, that song we sing in church: ‘Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me.'”
The lesson: THERE IS ALWAYS ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW, and just because another person doesn’t see things the same way or understand the same way that you do, does not mean that it’s wrong.
— Author Unknown

Fun Historical Facts

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children-last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the dogs, cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. That posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence. Maybe that’s where the phrase, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” came from?

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying “dirt poor.”

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a “thresh hold.”

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man “could bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or “upper crust.”

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days, and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a “wake.”

England is old and small, and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a “bone-house” and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside, and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the “graveyard shift” to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be “saved by the bell” or was considered a “dead ringer.”

Whoever said that history was boring?

Author Unknown

Unconditional Acceptance

Got this in my e-mail and wanted to share with all my readers. No matter what our situations are, we all want to be accepted, despite our socioeconomc status, race, sexual orientation, or disability. I have found the true meaning of unconditional acceptance in the last four years in a VERY big way: my co-workers with the city of Marietta, business owners and citizens in the community have really accepted me and taken me in as a member of their society and for that I could never repay them. No amount of money or kindness could ever thank them enough for making me feel like a valued member of society. In the grand scheme of things, I think you will find that that’s all anybody wants, especially someone who’s down on their luck or having a bad day. Just a gentle, touching, caring hand and someone to let them know that they DO in fact matter and are just as much a part of society as anyone else.

I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called “Smile.” The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway, so, I thought this would be a piece of cake, literally.
Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald’s one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special play time with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch…an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved.
As I turned around I smelled a horrible “dirty body” smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was “smiling.” His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God’s light as he searched for acceptance. He said, “Good day” as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally deficient, and the blue eyed gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them.
The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, “Coffee is all Miss” because that was all they could afford. (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm). Then I really felt it-the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes.
That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman’s cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes and said, “Thank you.” I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, “I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope.” I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son.
When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, “That is why God gave you to me, Honey. To give me hope.” We held hands for a moment and at that time we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give.
That day showed me the pure light of God’s sweet love. I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in “my project,” and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, “Can I share this?” I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class. She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings and being part of God, share this need to heal people and be healed. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald’s, my husband, son, instructor and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student.
I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn: UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE.

Much love and compassion is to each and every person who may read this and learn how to LOVE PEOPLE AND USE THINGS – NOT LOVE THINGS AND USE PEOPLE.
— Author Unknown

Will You Give This To My Daddy?

My mom sent this to me and as a HUGE supporter of the U.S. military, I felt I needed to share this with all of you. Let’s bring them all home and show our support by wearing red every Friday.

As a company, Southwest Airlines is going to support ‘Red Fridays.’

Last week I was in Atlanta, Ga., attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed one of the greatest acts of patriotism I have ever seen.

Moving through the terminal was a group of soldiers in their camos. As they began heading to their gate, everyone (well almost everyone) was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and cheering.

When I saw the soldiers, probably 30-40 of them, being applauded and cheered for, it hit me. I’m not alone. I’m not the only red-blooded American who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families.

Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line everyday for us so we can go to school, work and home without fear or reprisal.

Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or our service men and women, a young girl, not more than six or seven years old, ran up to one of the male soldiers. He kneeled down and said, ‘Hi.’

The little girl then asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her.

The young soldier, who didn’t look any older than maybe 22 himself, said he would try and what did she want to give to her daddy. Then suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek.

The mother of the little girl, who said her daughter’s name was Courtney, told the young soldier that her husband was a Marine and had been in Iraq for 11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter Courtney missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up.

When this temporarily single mom was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second. Then one of the other servicemen pulled out a military-looking walkie-talkie. They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it..

After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney, bent down and said this to her, “I spoke to your daddy, and he told me to give this to you.” He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying “Your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything, and he is coming home very soon.”

The mom at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and, as the young soldier stood to his feet, he saluted Courtney and her mom. I was standing no more than six feet away from this entire event.

As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, there were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last act of selflessness, turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.

We need to remember everyday all of our soldiers and their families and thank God for them and their sacrifices. At the end of the day, it’s good to be an American.

RED FRIDAYS —– Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing red every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the “silent majority.” We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record-breaking numbers.

We are not organized, boisterous or over-bearing. We get no liberal media coverage on TV, to reflect our message or our opinions. Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of Americans support our troops.

Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday – and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar will wear something red.

By word of mouth, press, TV — let’s make the United States on every Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming football game in the bleachers.

If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, co-workers, friends and family, it will not be long before the USA is covered in RED, and it will let our troops know the once “silent” majority is on their side more than ever; certainly more than the media lets on.

The first thing a soldier says when asked “What can we do to make things better for you” is…We need your support and your prayers.

Let’s get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something red every Friday.



Don’t Let the Super Committee Eliminate Programs for Kids with Disabilities

If you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning, you’ve probably noticed that I am really proud of receiving my high school diploma and college degree. Getting an education was really important to me, not only because I was able to learn and absorb new information, meet new friends and get to know some amazing teachers, but also because I was able to prove to MYSELF and the people who said, “Jason will never amount to anything” that I can do anything I set my mind to and can achieve the impossible dream. I know there are so many young kids out there who have a disability, and I’m sure all they want is to be accepted despite their disability and be able to receive a quality education without fear that they won’t be able to afford it.

When I read that funding for programs for children with disabilites may be cut, you can bet your ASS I was furious because we are people too, damn it, and deserve to be a part of society just as much as those multi-millionaires with the $500,000 Corvette or the $750 million mansion overlooking the ocean who have so much money coming out of their ass that they have six maids, a butler and a chauffeur driving them around to all the swanky parties with celebrities who have their nose stuck up in the air like they’re God’s gift to the world… I received this information from the Easter Seals and they were gracious enough to allow me to post it to my blog. This is too important to let it do down the toilet without a second thought. Let’s band together and let our elected officials in Washington know that people with disabilites deserve an education and a way to pay for it. Hell, as much as they keep jacking up insurance, pretty soon, we won’t even be able to go to the damn doctor without it costing us a damn arm and a leg. No wonder the past couple years I’ve felt like an old man. If I knew insurance would cover me, I’d go get a checkup, but I keep putting it off because I’m afraid of what it’ll cost me. And I have medical expenses of my own every month to worry about….

Dear Friend,

Books, paper, pencils. You wouldn’t send your child back to school without these essentials.

But millions of children with undiagnosed disabilities are going to be missing something even more critical to their success when they start school this year: help for their special needs. Deprived of the therapies and treatment they need to learn and play with other children their age, many children with disabilities can feel lost and alone in class, are unable to make friends, and quickly fall behind.

Right now, the fate of all federal programs, including those that can save our nation’s most vulnerable children from falling behind, rests in the hands of the newly-named Super Committee. They are charged with cutting another $1.5 trillion from the federal budget, and funding for critical services for kids with special needs is on the chopping block. Don’t let the Super Committee deny kids the services they need to succeed.

Send a message to your representative and make sure they know how critical these programs are for millions of young children with special needs.

Your letters and messages helped many critical disability programs survive the first round of budget cuts – now ensure that these services continue to help millions of American children and their families. We can’t let down the nearly 1.5 million children with undiagnosed disabilities returning to school this month. They are depending on us to speak up for them.

There are boys and girls sitting in class right now who are unable to succeed due to an undiagnosed disability. Help can be as simple as getting a pair of glasses to a little girl so she can see the blackboard, or screening for a little boy showing signs of autism so he can start school on par with his peers. There’s still time to get these kids the help they need.

Tell your representatives you’re counting on them to speak up and urge the Super Committee to defend vital services for young children. Click here to send your message by Friday, September 30!

The first month of school is nearly over. Don’t let another month go by for a child who needs treatment for their disability.

Thank you,

Katy Beh Neas
Senior Vice President, Government Affairs

The Super Committee must cut another $1.5 trillion from the federal budget and the critical programs that support children with disabilities are on the chopping block.

Tell your representative: don’t let the Super Committee cut services for kids with special needs.

Your letters and messages helped many critical disability programs survive the first round of budget cuts – now ensure that they continue to help millions of American children and their families.


*Required fields

* Title: Mr. Ms. Mrs. Miss Dr.

* First Name:

* Last Name:

* Your Email:

* Address 1:

Address 2:

* City:

* State / Province: 

* ZIP / Postal Code:

Phone Number:


Don’t eliminate funding for early intervention services

Dear [Decision Maker],

The Super Committee is faced with the difficult task of cutting more spending from the federal budget. As a supporter of Easter Seals, I want you to know how important federal funding is to millions of children and families living with disabilities. This funding provides diagnosis and treatment for young children with disabilities. Without proper treatment, these kids may never catch up in school and succeed in life. In addition, early intervention makes good fiscal sense. Getting children the support they need now will help avoid more costly interventions later. All kids deserve to achieve their dreams. I urge you to tell your colleagues on the Super Committee not to eliminate funding for these life-changing programs — help that can be as simple as a pair of glasses so a little girl can see the blackboard, or screening for a 3-year-old boy who shows signs of autism.

* Please personalize your message

With the proper help at an early age, these kids can learn, succeed and thrive.

Thank you,

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[City, State ZIP]

Encouragement for Today

You know, sometimes somebody comes along at JUST the right moment… those moments you have no energy, are facing an uphill struggle, are fighting and clawing just to make ends meet, are questioning your purpose in life and your reason for living. A person will come along with an encouraging email, phone call, pat on the back or a comforting hug to let you know that you are not alone in the battles you’re fighting. Mandy B. Anderson is one of these people. I first got acquainted with Mandy on Twitter, we got to talking and something inside my heart said that she was a wonderful woman who has her priorities straight, lives life with no regrets and truly has a passion for helping others realize their worth in life and their true potential. I am so glad I got acquainted with Mandy, but regret that I didn’t meet her sooner. I found out that she has overcome so much during her life with cystic fibrosis, and in the time we’ve known each other, I’ve found a renewed passion for life by reading her newsletters and live each and every day to its fullest, even though some days are really a struggle for me because of my disability, spina bifida. Some days I want to just crawl in bed and sleep my troubles away but every time I read Mandy’s tweets, e-mails or newsletter I remember that I AM worth it and every day is a blessing full of dreams just waiting to be fulfilled. She has so graciously allowed me to re-post this article that was in her most recent newsletter. I hope you love it as much as I do, and I truly pray that you’ll sign up for her newsletter and connect with her on Twitter.

A Note from Mandy…

Yesterday I realized that so many of us are walking around without getting enough encouragement. We feel beat up, not good enough, worn out, and even hopeless just because we lack the support from someone in our corner yelling “You Can Do It!”
Let’s start this week off right. Here’s some encouragement for you – I challenge you to share this article with as many people as you can. Encourage five new people every day this week!
I believe in you! You can do this – and you are going to do great things!

Lots of love,

Mandy B. Anderson

Encouragement For Today

Inspirational Life Quotes To Lift Your Spirits

By: Mandy B. Anderson 

We all need more encouragement in life.

It’s true. We all struggle; we all have moments of confusion and doubt. We all worry from time to time. But you…

You were designed to succeed. This life of sickness, unhappiness, stress, despair, hopelessness, struggle…it’s not the life for you. Every piece of your past up to this point has been a stepping stone to get you to this moment. The hopelessness and endless questions that filled your mind when your daughter was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) – those all happened to get you to this moment. Those feelings of sadness and confusion that you have because you’ve been struggling with PTSD and depression – those all happened to get you to this moment. Those seasons of financial debt and marriage problems all happened to get you to this moment.

This is a moment of truth – let it speak directly to your soul.

Maybe you’ve never been told that you were designed to succeed. Maybe you’ve never been told that yes, you can do it.

Maybe you’ve never been told that you are beautiful and worth it.

Maybe you’ve never been told that you were designed to be healthy, to overcome. If you haven’t, that’s okay because today is a brand new day.

Let today be the start of a new path…the path toward a life of true wholeness. Let today be the day that you rise up out of the ash heap and step into the life that you have always dreamed of, the life you were designed for!

Today, may you be inspired by these encouraging quotes – said by many people who have overcome their own obstacles. Yes, you can live in True Wholeness too!

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible.” – Audrey Hepburn

“There is great power in believing in your destiny. You can move mountains.” – Nick Vujicic

“It’s the thoughts behind the words you speak that create your attitude.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

“You are custom-made for God’s works to be made manifest in you!” – Nick Vujicic

You have a gift that only you can give the world – that’s the whole reason you’re on the planet. Use your precious energy to build a magnificent life that really is attainable. The miracle of your existence calls for celebration every day.” – Oprah Winfrey

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.” – Mother Teresa

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” – Pamela Vaull Starr

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” – Lanston Hughes

“The difference between hearing instruction and accepting instruction is ACTION.” – Dani Johnson

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up some place else.” – Yogi Berra

“Storms make oaks take roots.” – Proverb

“Men’s best successes come after their disappointments.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The only courage you ever need is the courage to live your heart’s desire.” – Oprah

“When you judge yourself harshly or put intense pressure on yourself, you become judgmental of others. Loving and accepting yourself as God loves you opens the door to a much greater sense of peace and fulfillment.” – Nick Vujicic


You CAN do ALL things through Christ who gives you strength! (Phil. 4:13)

Until next time…be blessed, be healthy, and be inspired!
– Mandy

About Mandy B. Anderson

Mandy B. Anderson dreamed of becoming a professional singer, despite being born with cystic fibrosis (CF), a disease that severely limited the very breath she needed to sing. Overcoming statistics of an early death, a fire that destroyed her and her husband’s home, and the limits of her own mind, Mandy has become a sought after inspirational speaker, coach, author and singer who has written and produced multiple songs. She currently lives in North Dakota with her husband, Nate and their dog, Ajah.

How Can This Be?

Here is yet another heartfelt, inspirational guest post by my friend Janet, whom I met on Twitter. You may recall she guest hosted on the blog a couple months ago, but if not, go ahead and re-read her first post. Janet has one of the most amazing spirits of anyone I’ve had on the blog, and it’s my honor and pleasure to welcome back Janet Gemberling.

How can this be? You knew me before I saw light, felt coldness and warmth, the first pangs of hunger, drew my first breath, before I first bowed my head in prayer.

You called to my heart, before I could speak, before I could understand, before I could know who You possibly were.

You died to save me before I took my first step, before I could bask in Your glorious world, before I made my first mistake, before I had my first thought.

You loved me more than all of Your creation. You loved me and made a place for me. You loved me in spite of myself.

Oh on my knees my heart cries how can this be? The God of heaven and earth was with me from the beginning and will be with me forever. I was never alone and will never be alone. In my darkest moments You broke through with such a blinding, overpowering light it sent the dark running, cowering from You.

How can this love never throw its hands up in disgust with me? What manner of love is this? You have taken what I conceive as love and entirely re-wrote it. What ever could this insignificant person do to make You smile? To bring joy to who You are? All You have asked is for me to follow You, be born of Your Spirit, and believe in who You are? It doesn’t even seem a fair exchange to my simple mind. So much made for my pleasure, the stars in the sky, the sounds of praise and worship, the beautiful children You’ve bestowed on me, Your voice awakening my spirit. How can this be?

About Janet Gemberling

Janet Gemberling is a happily-married mother with four sons and lives west of Denver. She has written women’s bible studies, been involved as a vocalist in music ministry and has written church holiday programs. Eager to follow God, Janet, at five years old, walked to church for Sunday school by herself. Janet loves and encourages interaction with her readers. “Not every event is joyful, but you can bring joy to every event.”

Maggie and Her Four-Legged Angels

I met Maggie a few months ago on Twitter (seems to be a pattern there Jason) and was really captivated by her work. I offered her the chance to be a guest blogger, and she graciously accepted. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for animals, especially dogs. I’ve had three dogs in my life, and every day I find something else to love about them. They love me when I’m feeling sad, run around and make me laugh and are just the friend I need when things aren’t going my way. I can talk to my puppy and it’s almost like he understands me. You should see him when he cocks his head and his ears perk up when I’m talking to him… Anyway, I’ve always believed that dogs were a man’s best friend, but after reading Maggie’s amazing story, I now truly believe that animals of all kinds really are angels on earth. It’s my pleasure to present to you Maggie Weakley and the story of Maggie’s Angels. If this doesn’t make you smile, you either hate animals or just don’t have a HEART!!!

Thanks again for featuring me, Jason. It is quite an honor 🙂

My love for art and animals has been with me since I was a little girl. I would constantly draw all kinds of animals on everything, especially in my school notebooks. My first true inspiration/teacher, what I believe has shaped me as an artist, was watching the films from Walt Disney. The art of Walt Disney, the imagination, the stories, the emotions and the character development they had in the films made a huge impression on me. I would practice drawing all the Disney characters for hours, trying to capture their expressions and the human qualities the animators were so good at conveying. For a long time, I thought that someday I would be an animator and maybe even get a chance to work for The Walt Disney Studios, but as I grew older, my interests changed. I started focusing more on my love of animals, my love for art, and marine biology became my next big interest.

In high school I loved biology, and in my senior year I took a marine biology class that completely changed me. The passion the teacher had for the subject, and the hands-on experience I developed by taking care of marine animals captured my imagination, and I thought I could do this for a living. I also took a drawing class because I figured it would be an easy grade, but what I wasn’t expecting was how much I had missed drawing. Some of the students in the class were taking group lessons from Barbara Bassett, an art teacher from Winter Park, Fla. They all encouraged me to call her so I could take her class. I was so nervous when I called her, and when she said she had to interview me first to see if I qualified to be in her class, I was mortified! I gathered all my courage and as many drawings as I thought would be worthy of her time. Apparently, I did well enough to get into her class that summer. I really felt intimidated in this class of talented kids who were younger than me, but I worked twice as hard as everyone else to prove myself. In the fall I started at the University of Central Florida, majoring in biology, with a sub major in business, but I decided to take a figure drawing class, too. I thought, “Why not, it will be fun!” I never suspected that the combination of Ms. Bassett’s class and this figure drawing class would change my stars. I was at UCF for two years when everything changed.

Just a brief history of how I was raised… I come from a traditional Spanish family, where the women in the family leave their parents’ home when they get married. My father is a doctor and so was his father, and my mother stayed home, raised her girls and took care of the house. Art was a hobby to them, not a career. I know they were proud of the artwork I was doing, but I don’t think it ever crossed their minds that I would want to make this my career. One afternoon, in Ms. Bassett’s class, all the kids were getting their portfolios ready to send out to the art schools. I’m watching the excitement of it all and thought to myself, “I would love to send out my portfolio, too,” but was I ready? I gathered all my courage, went up to Ms. Bassett and asked her, “Do you think I could apply to art school too?” She responded with a smile, “I thought you’d never ask!” She said that I could have applied last year, but I had to believe in myself that I could do it. My heart sank because the scary thing was ~ how do I persuade my parents to let me go? I figured I would send my portfolio to the different art schools and wait to see if I would even be accepted. I continued doing well at UCF and even made the honor roll every semester. Then “the letters” arrived. I applied to Rhode Island School of Design, The School of Visual Arts, and Columbus College of Art and Design. I was accepted to all three schools, but CCAD in Columbus, Oh., offered me a scholarship. I about fainted! Now, how do I tell my parents? I took a deep breath and told them. As you might suspect, they were shocked and angry. I explained that I wanted to go to CCAD, which was in Columbus, Oh., (we lived in Orlando Fla.) and that I received a scholarship. My dad kept saying, “What are you going to do with an art degree?” and then I began to point out that art is all around us. It is in the pictures we hang, in the chairs we sit in, in the house we live in, art is everywhere! I know this was a truly difficult decision they made to let me go, and I am forever grateful they let me live out my dream.

I attended CCAD from 1986-1990 focusing on Illustration and Fine Art. While I was attending CCAD, I saved a little money, and the first thing I did was buy my first dog, a Westie (West Highland Terrier) that I named Perry. Perry had the personality of a Great Dane, never realizing how small he truly was. He was confident, loyal, funny and kept me on my toes. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 14. It’s hard to think of him without my eyes watering, I still miss him very much.

I graduated from CCAD with a BFA in Illustration, and right after graduating I got a position as an art director for Shoebox Greetings at Hallmark Cards Inc., in Kansas City, Missouri. I was in charge of the everyday card line, which included birthday, friendship and special occasions. When I was working there, I decided it was time to get a big dog for protection. That’s when Fe (pronounced Fay), a white German Shepherd mix, came into my life. Fe was abused by whomever owned her previously and was in bad shape when I got her. It took a while to get her physically and mentally healed, but she became a great gift from God. She could never do enough to repay me and show me how grateful she was. Sweet, affectionate, tolerant and respectful sums up what a wonderful dog she turned out to be. She passed away in February 2005, two months shy of turning 15 years old. It was the hardest day of my life.

I worked at Shoebox for three years developing the line and learning all about the industry. I loved working there. There was so much creativity and talent, and everyone just fueled each other. It was a great time in my life. In the meantime, my relationship with Kent, my best friend from CCAD, got serious. I married him in 1993, moved back to Columbus, Oh., and became a freelance artist, working for other greeting card companies and as an illustrator for my husband’s company, Blue Sky Graphic Communication, Inc. which was based in Columbus, Oh.

While Perry and Fe were with us, they were the two greatest companions that anyone could ever dream of. I am grateful they both lived such long and great lives. They were with me through my college years, my first job, my wedding, becoming a mother and all the different places we lived. They were with me all the time, even on vacations. They even helped me raise “Carter,” a puppy I raised for Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. I know there are so many people with the same type of relationship with their dogs, cats, horses or any of the wonderful pets we have in our lives. Thinking about that is what planted the seed in my mind to create paintings based on our love of our pets.

We moved to Ocala in 1998. It was an exciting and scary time because we didn’t know if we could make our businesses work there. At first it was tough and work was slow, but soon we became established. We love Ocala and everything about it, the people, the environment, and it’s a wonderful place to live and raise our family. My family includes my husband, Kent, my two sons, Lucas and Max, my horse, Luna, my two Pygmy-Nigerian goats, Lightning and Trixie, an Australian Shepherd named Sky, a little Chihuahua named Mio, and my little Westie angel, who, along with my past and present pets, are inspiration for my portraits.

In 2000 I came up with a solid idea of creating a line of artwork dedicated to the personality of our pets, and I called it Maggie’s Angels because our pets are our angels. My life has always revolved around animals. The subject I love to draw the most is animals, so why not create an entire collection of colorful paintings featuring animals the way I see them and I’m sure other pet owners see their little angels? I wrote it all out in a notebook. Every detail was carefully planned, but it wasn’t until 2005, when The Marion Cultural Alliance in Ocala had a local art show called “Bark About Art,” that I launched Maggie’s Angels. I had a booth and filled it with 35 original 8″x 8″ colorful, expressive dog portraits. My portraits were a hit, and it went so well that people ordered custom commissions. A few months later the local magazine, Ocala Style, wanted to do a story about me and published it in the January 2006 issue. They featured my bulldog painting on the cover. It was amazing what that cover and story did for my little company. The phone calls started coming in, and I became swamped with commissions. Clients came in saying they wanted their pets painted in my style. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing that period of time was.

I feel very blessed because I am not only creating art that I love, but the people I meet through my work are amazing and keep me inspired. Maggie’s Angels has grown throughout the years, and now I create portraits featuring all kinds of animals. I am also currently working on a variety of other projects and paintings with different themes. My talent has also allowed me to help raise money for different animal rescue groups and help those in need. Last year I painted a mural and created two original paintings for the Marion County Humane Society helping them remodel three of their cat rooms. It is wonderful to be able to use my talent for charitable work.

I believe the journey that got me here was long, and I see the road ahead, and it is also long because there is so much more I want to accomplish. Where it will lead me, I’m not sure, but I will definitely do my best and give it my all. I have faith that I’m on the right path and have a feeling that my animal friends will be on the trail with me.
To see more of my artwork, visit or