Waiting in a long line to ride a roller coaster, I considered turning back several times. When it was finally my turn to board, the safety bar in the seat I was to occupy wouldn’t release properly. I was afraid of getting stuck, but I hopped in anyway. When the safety bar came down too tightly on my lap, I felt trapped and scared! I considered waving my hand and asking to be excused from the ride. But an attendant announced over the loudspeaker, “You can scream and you can shout, but there’s no way we’ll let you out.”
Picnics are usually a lot of fun, unless you realize— minutes before you leave—that you’re supposed to bring a dish to share! When this happened to me, I quickly put some meat in a pot, cranked up the heat, and left the kitchen to finish other preparations. Several minutes later, I smelled something burning. I ran to the kitchen, but of course it was too late to salvage the burnt offering.
Often, when I search for something on the Internet, I’m not sure I can trust the information I find. If I type a topic into a well-known search engine, I may end up on a website that features unverified information. Disclaimers warn that experts haven’t reviewed the content and so there’s no way to guarantee that it’s accurate, complete, or unbiased. No matter how authentic the material might seem, I know it’s unwise to trust it.
Amy Bleuel tried to end her life after years of mistreatment and heartbreak. She was 6 when her parents divorced and her stepmother began abusing her. At 13, she was sexually assaulted and blamed for the crime. At 18, her father committed suicide. Addiction and more personal trauma followed. Yet Amy’s faith in Jesus enabled her to survive. In time, she founded a support group for people with similar struggles—The Semicolon Project. Its message is simple, but powerful: “A semicolon is used when an author could have chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the semicolon is your life.”
Scientists conducted a social experiment with two groups of commuters at a train station. They asked one group to start conversations with their seatmates. They instructed the other group to remain silent. The commuters who talked while traveling said they had a “more positive experience” than those who did not. Initially, commuters believed starting a conversation would be hard, but they found that most people were happily willing to talk.
During the closing seconds of an American football game, the referee had to make a very difficult, game-deciding call. His decision resulted in one team winning and the other facing the bitter sting of a loss. Furious fans from the losing team ridiculed and threatened the ref for days and weeks. In time he experienced panic attacks and even considered suicide. Doctors diagnosed his condition as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Lorenzo Quinn’s 900-pound aluminum sculpture called “Hand of God” features a gigantic open hand with a man seated on the highest part of an upturned palm. The man appears to be troubled and his posture reflects deep discouragement. But the hand that holds him up is much larger than he is.
It’s winter in New York City. The air temperature hovers just above freezing. A man puts on his wet suit and prepares to ride the waves at Long Beach, an area southeast of Queens where he lives. As he faces the water, he meditates on avoiding danger and prays to the ocean gods. His surfboard—a 9-foot Hawaiian-made job—features a picture of his now-deceased spiritual guru. The man says of the image, “It keeps me centered.”
After dropping my kids off at school, I drove onto a busy road and turned on some Christian music. Worrying my way through a long to-do list, I started to feel overwhelmed. Just then, I saw a sign in the back window of a car that read JESUS. At the same moment, the name Jesus was sung by someone on the radio. Hearing and seeing “Jesus” in the same instant snapped me out of my anxious state as I considered the power and hope found in His name (Matthew 28:20).
A man known as the “king of cocaine” built an island hideaway known to the locals as the big house. It featured a marble lobby and an enormous pool ringed by palm trees. The now-deceased man’s estate included multiple waterfront dwellings where 300 guests could lodge in luxury. Gardens, boats, and a helicopter landing pad all displayed the “king’s” immense but wrongly amassed wealth.
Joanne Milne experienced the world as a soundless place. Deaf for the first 39 years of her life, everything changed after she had cochlear implant surgery. The procedure enabled sound vibrations to rouse her auditory nerves. A nurse’s voice was the first noise she heard, and the experience brought her to tears. She said, “Hearing things for the first time is so, so emotional, from the ping of a light switch to running water. . . . I can already foresee how it’s going to be life-changing.”
In 1993, Bill and Susie Mosca founded an essay contest. The winner received the couple’s bed and breakfast facility. Janice Sage’s entry took first place and she acquired the Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant. After 22 years of hosting guests, maintaining buildings, and managing finances, Janice wanted to retire. Because, as she said, “There are a lot of talented people that . . . . just can’t go out and buy an inn like this,” she also decided to give it away to a worthy person through an essay contest.
Thanks to journalist Swagat Thorat, India has a newspaper for its blind citizens. An estimated 24,000 visually impaired people read the biweekly braille publication. Thorat believes that the ability to read articles about current events is important. He named the newspaper Sparshdnyan, which means: knowledge by touch.
As a newborn, Katheryn Deprill was abandoned in a Burger King restaurant. Katheryn’s mother, just 17, hid the pregnancy and gave birth in her bedroom. After kissing her infant daughter on the forehead, she left the baby where she was sure to be found. Twenty-seven years later, Katheryn Deprill met her birth mother and thanked her for giving her life.
On a recent trip into the city, I noticed people stationed on several street corners. Their clean, coordinated T-shirts announced a common goal—to help end homelessness. One of them approached me offering information. As I paused there on the street, I noticed a homeless man standing just a few feet away. I saw his scruffy outfit and downcast look. Although the advocates for the homeless were doing a good thing, they seemed oblivious to the man. No one spoke to him or offered him food.