BEULAH LAND LABRADORS
" WORDS TO LIVE BY "
LITTLE TEDDY STODDARD
There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name is
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 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'a 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Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show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 felt 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 which 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 1/4 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 wrists.
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, third 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, 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."
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
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 gentle man was his salvation. 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 onlybecause of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give.
We are not church goers but we are believers. 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
I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn:
UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE. Much love and compassion is sent to each and every person who may
read this and learn how to LOVE PEOPLE AND USE THINGS - NOT LOVE
THINGS AND USE PEOPLE. If you think this story has touched you in any way.
May God bless you, Mick
The A - Z of Friendship
(A)ccepts you as you are
(B)elieves in "you"
(C)alls you just to say "HI"
(D)oesn't give up on you
(E)nvisions the whole of you (even the unfinished parts)
(F)orgives your mistakes
(I)nvites you over
(J)ust "be" with you
(K)eeps you close at heart
(L)oves you for who you are
(M)akes a difference in your life
(P)icks you up
(Q)uiets your fears
(R)aises your spirits
(S)ays nice things about you
(T)ells you the truth when you need to hear it
(W)alks beside you
(X)-plain things you don't understand
(Y)ells when you won't listen and
(Z)aps you back to reality
A FRIEND IS A TREASURE
A friend is someone we turn to
When our spirits need a lift,
A friend is someone we treasure
For our friendship is a gift,
A friend is someone who fills our lives
With beauty, joy, and grace
And makes the world we live in
A better and happier place.
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