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The Pickle Jar

The pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on the floor
beside the
dresser in my parents' bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would
empty his
pockets and toss his coins into the jar.

As a small boy I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins
made as
they were dropped into the jar. They landed with a merry jingle when
the jar
was almost empty. Then the tones gradually muted to a dull thud as
the jar was

I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and admire the
copper and
silver circles tha!*^++nted like a pirate's treasure when the sun
poured through
the bedroom window. When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the
kitchen table
and roll the coins before taking them to the bank.

Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production.
Stacked neatly
in a small cardboard box, the coins were placed between Dad and me on
the seat
of his old truck.

Each and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at
hopefully. "Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile
mill, son.
You're going to do better than me. This old mill town's not
going to hold
you back."

Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins
across the
counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly. "These
are for
my son's college fund. He'll never work at the mill all his life like

We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice
cream cone.
I always got chocolate. Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at
the ice
cream parlor handed Dad his change, he would show me the few coins
nestled in
his palm. "When we get home, we'll start filling the jar again."
He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As
they rattled
around with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other. "You'll
get to
college on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters," he said. "But
you'll get
there. I'll see to that."

The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in
another town.
Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their
bedroom, and
noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose and
had been

A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the
dresser where
the jar had always stood. My dad was a man of few words, and never
lectured me
on the values of determination, perseverance, and faith.

The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more
eloquently than
the most flowery of words could have done. When I married, I told my
Susan about the significant part the lowly pickle jar had played in my blushing style garments for bridesmaid in pastel pink
life as
a boy. In my mind, it defined, more than anything else, how much my
dad had
loved me.

No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to
doggedly drop his
coins into the jar. Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the
mill, and
Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime
was taken
from the jar.

To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring
catsup over
my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than
ever to
make a way out for me. "When you finish college, Son," he told me,
his eyes
glistening, "You'll never have to eat beans again - unless you want

The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born, we
spent the
holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each
other on
the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild. Jessica began
whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms.

"She probably needs to be changed," she said, carrying the baby
into my
parents' bedroom to diaper her. When Susan came back into the living
there was a strange mist in her eyes.

She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading
me into
the room. "Look," she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on
floor beside the dresser. To my amazement, there, as if it had never
removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with
coins. I
walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into my pocket, and pulled out
fistful of coins. With a gamut of emotions choking me, I dropped the
into the jar. I looked up and saw that Dad, carrying Jessica, had
quietly into the room. Our eyes locked, and I knew he was feeling the
emotions I felt. Neither one of us could speak.

This truly touched my heart. I know it has yours as well.
Sometimes we
are so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small
gesture you
can change a person's life, for better or for worse.

God puts us all in each other's lives to impact one another in
some way.
Look for God in others.

The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched -
they must
be felt with the heart ~ Helen Keller
Happy moments, praise God.

Difficult moments, seek God.

Quiet moments, worship God.

Painful moments, trust God.

Every moment, thank God.

A true friend reaches for your hand and touches your