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Saw God in Scales

John & Janet–MI

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Saw God Stand Up

He wasn’t looking for a kid. He was a 28-year-old single guy with a dog and a job that requires him to travel.

Then one day this spring, he came across a boy lying in a cardboard box. He was there, among the bushes behind a northwest Phoenix clothing store where the man was working that day.

The boy was dirty, hungry and terribly alone. He had no jacket and only one shoe.

“I went up to him and said, ‘Hey, Buddy, are you OK,’” the man told me. “He wasn’t breathing very well and had been crying. He just kind of looked at me and I knew right there and then I had to help him somehow, some way. He’s a kid. He’s a 12-year-old kid. Who would just ignore that?”

He called DCS. No one got back to him

As it turns out, the Department of Child Safety might. The boy has been in the system since he was six months old, the man would later learn. He was removed from his mother as an infant and later from his father but he was always sent back.

After a meal, a shower and some clean clothes and a place to stay for the night, the boy began opening up to the man. He’d run away from an abusive father and had been on his own for a week. Eventually, the boy would show the man the scars crisscrossing his back – the ones put there by someone wielding a car antenna. And he would tell him of the other scars, the ones that don’t leave an outward mark.

The man says he called DCS several times to report that he’d found the boy but nobody ever got back to him.

“No one came out,” he said. “No one responded. No one called me back.”

It would take months, he says, before DCS got involved.

And so the 28-year-old single guy with the dog became a dad of sorts. Or as the boy would see him, a savior.

One who needed help to help this child.

Enter Arizona Helping Hands. The Scottsdale-based non-profit was formed in 1998 with a simple mission: Do at least one good deed every day.

Eighteen years later, the organization is a godsend to foster families — aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers and grandparents and family friends who suddenly find themselves taking care of children, many of whom arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

The organization gets much of its funding from Arizona Foster Care Tax Credit donations. (A married couple can give $1,000 and take it off their state income tax.) It is also supported by the newspaper’s Season for Sharing program.

“Anything we can do to make life a little bit easier for the foster families,” Dan Shufelt, CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, told me. “That’s what we’re all about.”

Arizona Helping Hands offers vital support: beds, clothes, diapers, toys, whatever might help. By the end of this week, the non-profit will have touched about 3,200 kids in foster care this year. It will have given birthday presents to 881 children and handed out 2,000 beds.

One of them to a 12-year-old boy who was sleeping in a cardboard box.

Shufelt saw the 28-year-old man sitting in the waiting room at Arizona Helping Hands in August. By then, DCS was involved but offered little in the way of actual help, the man says.
‘I didn’t want to volunteer and then fail him’

Meanwhile, the air mattress the boy had been sleeping on had busted and he was already outgrowing his new clothes and the boy’s birthday was coming up and it was all more than a 28-year-old single guy with a dog could handle.

Without help, that is.

Shufelt not only provided the man with a bed and clothes but with information on what’s out there to help foster families and how to find it.

“They made it so much easier for someone like me to make that decision to hang on,” the man told me. “It’s been so expensive to take him on. Making the decision to take on a kid mentally and continually was scary. I didn’t want to volunteer and then fail him because I can’t afford it or didn’t have the resources.”

When it comes to kids who so desperately need help, failure is simply not an option. Or, it shouldn’t be.

The now 29-year-old single guy with a dog and a kid is working to get licensed as a foster parent. He’s hoping to adopt the boy or at least become his permanent guardian.

Boy: I don’t want presents, just love

“It is a beautiful thing to watch him grow and have an opportunity to live as he never had the chance to live,” the man told me. “It’s worth everything just to see him smile.”

As for the boy, he’s now in therapy and his night terrors are easing. He’s enrolled in a new school where he’s making good grades and friends and he made the 7th grade basketball team.

More importantly, he’s found someone to care about him, and that is no small thing in a state where 18,000 children are living in foster homes, group homes or shelters.

Recently, the boy wrote a letter to Santa.

“I have been a good kid this year, because even though I’ve had a hard and tough life, I pushed forward and broke the chain,” he wrote. “I met someone who cares about me and who loves me. I’m so grateful for the life I have now. I have good grades and have been good at school. I don’t want presents – I just want to be with my foster dad. What I want – LOVE, that is all.”

Pat–Scottsdale, AZ

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Saw God in a Believer



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Saw God in 20 Seconds


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Saw God in a Hug

Cam Newton spent part of his day off at an Atlanta Hospital granting a Christmas wish for a young Auburn fan with a severe heart condition.

Ten-year-old Austin Deckard, who was diagnosed with advanced pulmonary hypertension, received the visit of the Carolina Panthers quarterback just one day before he was to undergo a risky procedure.

The story of Newton’s big surprise to Austin started last week, with a post on social media from Austin’s elementary school teacher, Courtney Cooper.
She mentioned Deckard’s condition and how he wished to meet his favorite football player.

“Austin told me he ‘wished Cam Newton could come to his birthday party,'” Cooper said in her post. “Austin may not ever make it to an Auburn football game but I know social media is a strong force that can make things happen.”

Newton got the message, and Austin’s wish became a reality on Tuesday.


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Saw God in John 3:16

(Posted on Jan 13,2012)

There’s no need to embellish in this story. Facts speak for themselves.

On Jan. 8, 2009, in the BCS Championship Game, then-Florida quarterback Tim Tebow wore eye black with the inscription John 3:16, a reference to the Bible passage that says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
On Jan. 8, 2012, three years to the date that he caused millions of football fans to Google the meaning of John 3:16, Tebow played his first NFL playoff game, against the Pittsburgh Steelers. And …

Tebow threw for 316 yards.

Tebow averaged 31.6 yards per completion, the highest single-game postseason completion average in NFL history.

Ben Roethlisberger’s second-quarter interception, which led to a Matt Prater field goal and a 17-6 Broncos lead, came on third-and-16.

The Steelers finished the game with a time of possession of 31:06.

And at the time Tebow threw the game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas — the NFL’s longest postseason pass in overtime history — CBS’s final quarter-hour overnight ratings were, yes, a 31.6.

Now, some people believe in UFOs; some don’t. Some believe in the afterlife; some don’t. Some believe in coincidences; some don’t. And some people believe in the power and talents of Tebow; some don’t. But there can be no denying that the events from Denver’s wild-card win over Pittsburgh are downright eerie.

When this string of 3:16 facts was relayed to one NFL executive this week, he paused and said: “Is that right? I’m converting.”

Pat–Scottsdale, AZ

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Saw God in Magnificent Earth

John & Janet–MI

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Saw God In Santa’s Arms

Knoxville, Tenn. — A Tennessee Santa Claus says a terminally ill 5-year-old boy died in his arms after he gave the boy a present in the hospital.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports Eric Schmitt-Matzen, who does about 80 events a year as Santa, was asked a few weeks ago to visit the dying boy.

Schmitt-Matzen says after giving the boy a toy, the boy asked how he would be able to tell when he got to where he was going after he died. Schmitt-Matzen told him to tell them he was “Santa’s Number One elf” and they would let him in.

He says the boy gave him a big hug, asked “Santa, can you help me?” and died in his arms.

Schmitt-Matzen says it took him days to recover, but he’s continuing to play Santa.

Pat–Scottsdale, AZ

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Saw God at the Finish Line

There are 100 meters of asphalt road left between Jonathan Mendes and the finish line of the New York City Marathon, and he still won’t explain exactly why he is doing this. Why, for the past 11 hours and 20 minutes this 96 year-old man has been running—well, not so much running as tottering—26.19 miles through all five of the city’s boroughs.

He looks up and smiles. You can see the creases around his eyes scrunch behind massive, orange-tinted sunglasses. You get the sense that he’d rather not explain himself. You might try and fish for an inspiring answer, some reason why this limping man, wearing a 16-year-old Asics windbreaker, is still out in the 45-degree darkness, but he won’t give one—nothing satisfying, anyway.
As a bomber pilot in the Marines, Jonathan Mendes flew more than 100 missions in World War II and then more than 70 missions in the Korean War. He trained John Glenn and Ted Williams. He graduated from Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School. Now he lives in a spacious apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He still walks two miles around Central Park’s reservoir every morning at 7:30 a.m., and drinks a scotch every afternoon at 4 p.m.

He doesn’t need to tell you why he’s out here, completing his 16th New York City Marathon. He takes another step forward.

“You have to have goals in life,” he says. “They don’t have to be important. But at this stage I’ve done it all. I’ve skied all over the world. I’ve canoed the great rivers of the world. I flew dive-bombers for the Marine Corps in World War II, and jet fighter attack planes in Korea. And I never got hurt, so I don’t have any bad memories.”

When he walks—which is slowly, with short steps, at a 25-minute-per mile pace—his back is arched so that the brim of his blue cap, emblazoned with the U.S. Marine Corps insignia, is pointed toward the ground. He clutches the sleeves of his two support guides to keep balance. He’s been in this position, inching his way forward, for the past 13 miles.

He stops at the top of the final hill on West Drive and looks up. Spotlights swirl in purple and blue across the empty road. Carly Rae Jepsen echoes from speakers near the finish. There are three people standing in the grandstands. Another cluster of a dozen or so people mingles beyond the finish line’s arches. No one has seen him yet. He lifts his right leg up, bending it at the knee to stretch, then he lifts his left leg, readying himself for the final kick.

“More like the final crawl,” he says. He can see the finish line at last through his sunglasses. “How about that?” he says.
The man on his right is Tom Mangan, Mendes’ personal trainer. Mangan works with Mendes twice a week, doing bodyweight exercises and stretches. With the consultation of a doctor, Mangan cleared Mendes to enter the race two weeks ago.

“Jon is an exceptional man,” Mangan says. “We have been laughing all day.”

They started in Staten Island at 8:51 a.m. with the disabled athletes. It is now 8:14 p.m. Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie sprinted across the same spot at a sub-5-minute-per-mile pace more than eight hours ago, winning the race in 2:07:51. It took Mendes more than 30 minutes to finish the last mile.

The man on Mendes’ left is Art Berman, a 35-time marathoner and volunteer with the organization Achilles International, which matches older and disabled athletes with guides to complete endurance events. Berman met Mendes when they were paired at the start line of the 2015 marathon race. Mendes dropped out at mile 16 last year, after his knees gave him trouble.
“Jon just likes the challenge of doing this. He is a very determined man, if you haven’t figured that out,” Berman says.

With 20 meters left, volunteers in blue jackets notice the ambling crew inching closer. Peter Ciaccia, the marathon’s race director, jogs out and puts an arm around Mendes. They cross the line together, then Ciaccia procures a medal and places it around Mendes’ neck.

“Semper fi,” Ciaccia says.

“Do or die,” Mendes replies.

The official clock, on a temporary pillar in the middle of the finish line, stopped tracking runners more than 45 minutes ago. Mendes’ time will not appear in official results. His guides aren’t really even sure what it is.

According to the New York Road Runners, the organization that puts on the race, the oldest official finisher this year was 88-year-old Bertha McGruder. The oldest official finisher ever is 91. Mendes has 11 official finishes, with five more coming after the clock stopped.

He doesn’t seem to care that his time won’t count this year.

A marathon for the nonagenarian doesn’t seem to have hurt him that bad. He smiles at the finish line.

“I’d like to go lie down,” he says. A medical volunteer guides him to a large white tent. He is lowered in to a bed with the back raised at a 45-degree angle. The volunteer asks if he wants something to drink. Maybe some hot chocolate or some water?

He wants scotch.
Mendes drinks scotch with his trainer, Tom Mangan, inside the medical tent. KIT FOX
Mangan pulls out a small brown paper bag from his pocket and produces three miniature bottles of brown liquor—Johnnie Walker Black Label. Mendes grabs a bottle.

“I’ve been saying for years that the key to living this long is a shot of whisky a day and a good woman, in that order,” Mendes says.

The good woman approaches, wearing a purple vest and carrying a clipboard. She is another volunteer nurse. She kneels down beside the low bed and asks Mendes how he is doing.

He takes a sip of scotch and grabs her hand. “Oh, I am just fine,” he says.

Pat–Scottsdale, AZ

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Saw God in a Reminder


Woke up this morning with fog over the Ocean here at Myrtle Beach….Looked like the sky had fallen! It was a reminder to rise up and be the person God intends me to be….it rose slowly and so do I…. NOT a morning person! XOXO


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