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It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.Over the phone, his mother told him, “Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday.” Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.“Jack, did you hear me?”

“Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” Jack said.

“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ‘his side of the fence’ as he put it,” Mom told him.

“I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said.

“You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said

“He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important…Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,” Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture….Jack stopped suddenly.

“What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked.

“The box is gone,” he said

“What box?” Mom asked.

“There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ‘the thing I value most,'” Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

“Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days,” the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. “Mr. Harold Belser” it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside.

“Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:

“Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser.”

“The thing he valued most was…my time”

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. “Why?” Janet, his assistant asked.

“I need some time to spend with my son,” he said.

“Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!”

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We have a bedtime ritual already established with our 7-month-old son. First, we read a couple of books, then sing a couple of songs (which could range from “Jesus Loves Me” to “The Itsy-bitsy Spider” to “How Great Thou Art”) then we say a short prayer as we lay him down into his crib. Most nights, he does great and just falls right to sleep.
On rare occasions, he isn’t so happy to sleep – he wants to crawl around and get into more things that we haven’t put up yet. He has also learned to stand in his crib and scream. After this short protest, he always grows tired, quiet, lies down and falls asleep.
Perhaps the best occasion as a parent is waking up your baby in the morning. When either my wife or I go in to wake him he is usually asleep or just waking. Once he hears us or sees us, he gets a grin on his face, sits up giggles joyfully and awaits being lifted out of the crib, cuddled and fed.
Joy comes in the morning.

why do you wear a watch? to be on time for meetings? orient yourself? to know when the next time to eat is?
for a recent mission trip to Moldova (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moldova) i purchased an inexpensive digital watch that was designed to keep two different time zones. being bad at math, i set one for my home time and one for Moldova time and set off on my way. the original reason for setting the watch was to make sure i called home to talk with my wife during waking hours.
while on the mission trips i grow specfically interested in the cause, the country and the people. as we (i went with CERI http://www.cerikids.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?&pid=249&srcid=237) interacted with the orphaned children in the poorest country in the former Soviet Union, love was evident in their hearts as it was expressed vividly through our main form of communication – actions.
a little bit about moldova that the link doesn’t tell you. the country is beautiful with rolling hills, good land for agriculture and a decent climate. they have resources they could tap. amidst this, the chief export of the country is young girls into the sex trade. as i talked with, interacted with, made crafts with these orphans, i couldn’t stop thinking that i know with 80% certainty what will happen to you when you turn 16 and have to leave this orphanage to allow space for others who are younger. the boys there have a slightly different potential future. the boys, upon leaving the orphanage at 15 are not immune to the sex trade but have a higher chance of ending up in jail – caught for stealing in order to stay alive. knowing this, when we made crafts that centered around a biblical theme it made me cry every time one of those children once completing their craft ran over to one of us Americans and gave us their work as a gift. those who have nothing giving to those who comparatively have everything. the flight over to Moldova alone would sponsor a child in one of the orphanages five years. all they want to do is love. all they ask for is love.
i was there with a digital camera – it’s amazing how quickly they learn that their picture is on the back of the camera. it went like this. take a picture, everyone gathering around to see themselves. take a picture, everyone gathering around to see themeselves. repeat. one six-year-old boy knew about as much english as i russian. he followed me, helped me take pictures, taught me more russian and even showed off some of his talents for the camera. he looked at my watch and with gestures asked if he could have it. i said i couldn’t give it to him, but will always keep your time zone on my watch and every time i hit that button that shows your time, i’ll stop, think of you and pray for you. i do, everytime.