(Photo and story by Shortstoriesshort.com)
When I started this blog, I had high hopes. But I must admit, there were many doubts too. Over the years I have seen this blog grow beyond my wildest dreams. And I have each and every visitor that comes to Cop-A-Squat or shares this blog with others, to thank for its huge success. I am mostly grateful to our Heavenly Father: without Him, none of our good fortune would have happened.
What can one man do? Quite a bit, if you look at the lives of some of the greatest men that ever lived. What can an army of men do with a solid purpose? Together they can move the world. Just like a bundle of sticks, there is more strength together than one stick alone.
As we enter a new year, what are your plans to change the world? What can you do to make a positive impact on others? We, at Cop-A-Squat, publish posts and books that we hope will entertain and inspire people to enjoy healthy reading, that hopefully will make reading more enjoyable and impact their lives in positive ways.
With every purchase of our books you are helping us change the world, one reader at a time. We can bring encouraging stories to the world, but we cannot do this alone. We need each and every one of you, because there is strength in unity – we ask you to join us on our journey.
I want to share an inspiring short story and a short video with you on the power of working together. See how the power of many makes all the difference.
Please enjoy the ‘Unity is Strength’ short story and its accompanying video. See you all in the coming months. We wish you all a Happy New Year.
The Cop-A-Squat Family
UNITY IS STRENGTH
Once, an old man was very ill and lay dying in his bed. He had four sons who were always fighting with each other. He always worried about them and wanted to teach them a lesson and asked his sons to come to him. When they came, the old man gave them a bundle of sticks and said, “Can you break these sticks?”
The first son tried to break the bundle but nothing happened. He tried very hard and finally gave up. Then it was the turn of the second son to try his luck. He thought it would be an easy task and picked up the sticks easily. He tried his best to break the sticks but nothing happened. Then, the third son tried to break the bundle of sticks, but he couldn’t do anything either.
Meanwhile, the youngest son jeered at his brothers and thought they were very incompetent. He thought he was very clever and took one stick at a time and easily broke all of them.
The old father then smiled at his sons and said, “Children, do you understand what happened? It is always easy to break the sticks one by one. But when they are bundled together, none of you could break them. In the same way, you four brothers should always be together. No one will be able to hurt you then.” The four brothers realized what their father was trying to teach them, forgetting all their enmity and learning that unity is strength.
From that day onwards, they never fought with each other and lived together in peace and harmony.
It was time for a transformation.
Along with our general sprucing up around the ole’ Packed House Publications corner, we’ve decided to update one of our most special books with a spanking-new book cover.
Dusty Remains is an awesome collection of 300 words or less stories, but unfortunately, a year ago, with the innocence of new kids on the block, we unintentionally gave Dusty Remains a textbook-looking book cover.
And, we came up with this.
Yeah, this is a little embarrassing. We eventually figured out a crazy skull head being pierced to death with a screw bit from the heavens doesn’t exactly convey heartfelt stories like Dusty Remains has. It just looks…gothic, and pretty weird.
So, we contacted another artist, Anil Saxena, (thanks Anil!), and made this:
Looks pretty great, doesn’t it? It actually represents the whole “fragile as dust” theme in the book, and has a more eye-grabbing effect than the last tries.
So, how did we do? Leave a comment below on what you think of the new cover!
And, as a complimentary gift for our guests, here is the first story from “Dusty Remains.”
She stands there alone, by the gate, with her usual big smile. She smiles even more when he approaches. There by the gate they talk. She shyly tilts her head downward. He knows she’s reluctant, but even so he holds out his hand.
She steps around him, he cuts off her exit. Like a game she’s played so many times, she tries to dart around him; unable to do so, she shrugs her shoulders in defeat.
Once again he holds out his hand. She lets her soft hand fall into the cradle of his majestic one.
They walk away, the sun on their backs, the gate disappearing with each step.
She pauses, so does he. He looks at her, then nods his head. “It’s okay.” His gentle tone, so reassuring.
A few steps from the corner, she pauses once more. Now he wipes the tears from her eyes.
“How did you know my birthday was today?” Her faint voice is strained under the weight of her tears.
“I know everything about you, Sara. I’m a magician.” His eyes lock on hers.
“Is that how you found out I like ponies?”
“And you will keep your promise to let me ride my pony every day?”
“And my mom won’t stop you?”
“Your mom won’t stop me. I promise.”
“What’s my pony’s name?”
“Whatever you want it to be.”
“Is my pony a boy or a girl?”
“Why, it’s a girl, just like I promised you yesterday.”
“Where is she?”
“Right around this corner.”
Sara’s face lights up. She skips with delight and anticipation.
SARA! SARA! WHERE ARE YOU! SARA, SARA!
“Ma’am, we’ll find her, trust me.” Nancy’s eyes drown in tears.
A stiff wind blew through the window. Whoooooo! Out went the five candles.
Why have you let the hardships put distance between you? Sitting on the same sofa, you’re light-years from each other. What happened?
How did she become an umbrella tucked in the closet only to be appreciated on rainy days? And sadly for you, he became as a throw pillow that decorated your life.
Are you going to toss away all the years you built together just because you’ve forgotten how to express love? Please think before you answer – how will your response affect the other?
Can you look at her? Can you look at him? Are you going to remain silent and let fear and stubbornness take authority over your lives? Is it worth leaving your precious marriage in ruins?
STOP, PLEASE STOP!
I heard a man pleading with my parents like that many years ago. Unfortunately, they didn’t listen. They didn’t make it.
I want to make it. I want to stay married to my beautiful wife forever and a day.
For our GOOD FRIDAY, my wife and I saw a movie without the kids. To her amazement I wanted to see ‘Hope Springs’.
“You don’t like romantic comedies.”
“I don’t, not really. But I love you and I think it might be funny.”
I won’t spoil the movie, but it was more than just amusing, it was truly a reminder that from hope springs love.
What did you do this week to remind your loved one you only have eyes for them? Leave your reply below.
And remember, you can and will make it if you don’t quit. And as always, keep your head up.
However, these pictures are no laughing matter.
(Photos courtesy of Family from Afar)
One of the most effective ways to change this is to get to the root cause. And making huge shoe donations isn’t the answer.
Consider this: “After Hurricane Mitch in 1998, Honduras was flooded with shipments of donated goods. They clogged ports, overwhelmed military transport, and made it nearly impossible for relief agencies to ship in the things they really needed. Those donations did harm, not good. Expired drugs had to be carefully disposed of. Inappropriate donations had to be transported away and discarded. All of this wasted time and money. ” Nobody wants your old shoes: How not to help in Haiti.
Sometimes the donations aren’t of any real use for the area. As one one-time islander in Honduras explains about the shoes… “I lived through Hurricane Mitch on a little Island called Utila in the Bay Islands of Honduras. So much devastation. The Islanders were quite confused about the container that arrived on a ship to Utila full of high heel shoes. Yes, high heel shoes, the entire container!” A Day Without Dignity.
Many times our good intentions can cause more harm than good. Donating Shoes and Other Aid Fads.
However, I know how a charitable heart works and I totally understand the urge to send shoes for these needy children. But let’s find another way to help. As one emergency relief workers states: “Donating stuff instead of money is a serious problem in emergency relief. Only the people on the ground know what’s actually necessary.”
One sure way to offer your assistance is to give to charities that get at the root cause. These impoverished families need programs that fund money to families in search of a better life through education and self-sufficiency.
For our GOOD FRIDAY, let’s help kids all over the world get new shoes. Consider donating money to a local charity or an international one like Childfund International or Compassion International. Both these charities help the child by providing their parents with means to buy goods that are local (including shoes). Come back on Friday and tell us what charity you chose to help. And as always, keep your head up.
Where is the Wealthiest place on earth?
Many believe it’s in the oil rich reserves of the Middle East. Or the diamond mines of South Africa. There are even those who tell you it’s in all the cemeteries of the world.
None of those answers are correct, not one.
Of the three places mentioned, why would people believe wealth could ever possibly be in the grave? You no doubt heard this overused and under-thought excuse: “Many people in cemeteries died before their treasures could be realized.”
A treasure that can’t be accessed isn’t a treasure.
No, there are zero treasures in the cemeteries, none of which are of any value to us.
So where does all the wealth of the world lie? Where it’s always been, right here.
Our true wealth is in the living. So, instead of focusing on what could have been, let’s gear our hearts and minds on what can be.
Case in point:
An eight-year-old boy turned in filthy homework every day. It had soot all over it, smearing the pages with dirty smudges. It smelled of smoke, and so did the boy. The kids would laugh, and every time he handed it to his teacher, she begrudgingly accepted it; for a week this went on. Finally at end of the week she said: “meet with me after class.”
“Why is your work like this? Don’t you care enough about school not to hand in work like this?”
With his head down, the boy answered. “Our house caught on fire. Our furniture was ruined; there was water everywhere, and we had nowhere else to go, so we had to move back in. All of the lights won’t work, so I have to do my homework by candlelight.”
With tears in her eyes, she gladly accepted the homework and told the boy he could do his homework after class in her classroom.
That’s why I believe the wealth of the world is in the hearts and minds of our children and the people of all nations, who have the fortitude to not give up. Period.
If you’re not familiar with our Good Friday, please read: Good Fridays. If you like, please join us for this Good Friday.
Our Good Friday: Read a book to a child before Friday, then come back and tell us how it went. And as always, keep your head up.