This simple story I relate to you exactly as it unfurled…reminding me there is still pure beauty and innocence in the world.


A mother and her daughter entered the bookstore…at guessing ages I am poor…I know enough not to try to guess the mother’s age…but her daughter was five…or maybe four.


They browsed around the bookstore for a while…up and down every aisle they looked…then they exited the store…without purchasing a book.


I could see them talking outside the window…I imagine there was a lesson the mother wanted her daughter to learn…because a few moments later…by herself…the daughter had returned.


Soon she was at the counter…book in hand…and in a voice so pleasant and nice asked, “Sir, could you please tell me…this book…what is the price?”


I told her $4.99…she smiled then I said, “Wait! There’s more…with tax this little golden book comes to five dollars thirty-four.


She thought for a moment and this is my favorite part to reminisce…then held up a twenty dollar bill and asked, “Is the price of the book less than this?”


And I had to smile as I witnessed the beauty and the innocence in this little girl with her hair flowing down her back when I told her, “Not only is that enough…but you’ll be getting money back!”


Once again with her beauty and innocence now on full display…she smiled…handed me the twenty dollar bill, picked up her book…and began to walk away.


“Wait!” I cried as she walked away while still within my range… “I’m glad you have your book but you forget your change.”


I will remember forever her expression…it was a smile both innocent and grand….when I counted out fourteen dollars and sixty-six cents and put it in her hand.


I could see how her mind was working…how lucky she felt…I could tell…

Because after coming in with one bill…

she was leaving with her book….5 bills and 4 coins as well.


“I’m rich!” She said smiling at me.  “Richer than I was before….

I nodded thinking how we’re both a littler richer since she walked into the store.


As she left I silently thanked her for reminding me in this world there is beauty and innocence still….

a fact I will remember every time I find within my hands…a twenty dollar bill.

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There is a a purity born into every baby…an innocence that runs deep…I imagine every parent feels it whenever they watch their baby sleep.


We not only see it in the way they sleep…but in the morning when they rise…we see it in the way they look at us…it’s in their smile…in their eyes.


I saw it in my children and grandchildren…in the different things they’d say and do…and I imagine you’ve seen it in your children…and in your grandchildren too.


I’m also sure you’ve seen it even if you don’t have children…if that was never meant to be…because innocence is one of the easiest and most endearing sights our eyes will ever see.


Yes, if you want to view a little innocence…watch a child…listen to their sounds…you’ll quickly come to realize…that is…where innocence abounds.


And we’re not alone…nature also sees their innocence for why do you suppose…she allows the ladybug to crawl upon their finger…and the butterfly to land upon their nose.


But innocence is fragile and as the years go by 

if it’s not cared for…

if it’s not nurtured…

there’s a chance that it may die.


So I pray…once born…once created…once that innocence arrives…

we’ll do our best with all our children…to keep that innocence alive..


For I can think of nothing more distressing…

more tragic…

a more sorrowful expense…

than a child who’s lost their purity…

who’s lost their trust…

who’s lost their innocence.


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Having worked in schools and now in a bookstore many children have come my way…and whenever I see a child I see innocence on display.


I love the way a child’s mind works….there’s no pretense…no deception…

I love their openness…their candor…love the innocence of their perception.


Recently I was again reminded of that innocence when a mother and daughter I had the pleasure to meet…they were in the bookstore when the mother noticed her daughter’s shoes were placed on her wrong feet.


When she mentioned this to her daughter…her daughter bent down and placed her hands upon her calves…“Don’t be silly Mommy,” she said, “these are the only feet I have.”


Her mother and I smiled at each other…knowing children see things differently…as they struggle to make sense out of the world they hear and see.


I wonder if a child’s mind…(of course this is just a guess)…

isn’t created to absorb love, and acceptance…and cultivate tenderness. 


I picture a child’s mind as vast…

and open…

and wherever it originates from…

the more love and acceptance that’s put into it…

the more open and tender it becomes.


As I watched her mother help her change her shoes…

and, thankfully, not her feet…

I secretly hoped this child’s mind throughout her life

would remain open



and sweet.


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It was an unexpected downpour…that burst out of the sky.

The older couple huddled under their lone umbrella…trying to stay dry.


Until they saw two young girls…with a joy so beautifully unrestrained




playing in the rain.


The old man began to smile, held his arms out high…

then walked from under the umbrella..leaving his wife behind….

“Come back under here you insane old fool.” His wife demanded…

but the old man…he gracefully declined.


“Do not worry about me.” he said. 

“I am neither foolish nor insane...
It’s just...I had forgotten what it feels like…

to stand out in the rain.”


His wife closed up their umbrella…

and with a joy so beautifully unrestrained…

they laughed, 

they jumped 

they danced together…

playing in the rain.

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From the safety of his room…watching raindrops sliding down his window pane…he noticed a bird…perched on a branch…with no protection from the rain.


The more he watched…the more he thought…that bird needs caring for…so he put on his raincoat…grabbed an umbrella…and headed for the door.


“Where are you going with that umbrella?” His mom asked.  He said, “Don’t worry Mom…it’s not for me…It’s for a little bird…caught in the rain…whose sitting in our tree.”


And she could not help but smile…as raindrops inched slowly down her window pane…as she watched her son…holding an umbrella over a bird caught in the rain.


And she thought…how wonderful is a child’s innocence…it has it’s own beauty…it’s own rhyme…and how endearing is that innocence…whose only enemy…is time.


And she found herself praying that in him this innocence would never wane…as he waved to her while holding an umbrella…over a bird caught in the rain.


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I was returning a bike to it’s home this morning…left out by a child who, no doubt, was remiss and as I pushed it along the sidewalk I began to reminisce.


Back to when I was a child…remembering what it was like…the day I learned to balance…the day I learned to ride a bike.


I remember the innocence…the freedom…riding without a care…I remember the smile on my face …I remember the wind blowing in my hair.


I’d ride for hours with my friends…friends with whom I’d grown…for once you hopped on your bike in our neighborhood…you never rode alone.


Our bikes took us on adventures that strengthened our hearts and soothed our souls.  We’d only stop to climb a tree…skip some stones…or dive into the swimming hole…


We loved to ride together through the ditches during a rain..

and if we fell and skinned our knees…we just ignored the pain. 


We learned to ride with no hands…down our street and all around…

We’d attach baseball cards to our spokes just to listen to the sound.


For when we heard those baseball cards…on whatever bicycle we were striding…no longer were they bikes…but motorcycles we were riding.


On our bikes is where we learned to be independent…it’s where we learned to pretend…on our bikes is where we learned what it means to be a friend.


At the doorstep of the house I set the bike down…gently on its side…and I thought how different the world is now than it was when I first learned to ride.


I’m not sure it was true…but when I visit those memories again and again and again…wasn’t the world a little kinder, a little gentler, a little more innocent back then?


Perhaps that’s why as I grow older I find it difficult to comprehend…how, though many people still remember how to ride a bike.…they’ve forgotten how to be friends..


How somewhere in the midst of living…they’ve forgotten how to be kind…

How without the  even realizing it…they’ve left their innocence behind…


Which makes me wish more people would remember exactly what it was like…

The day we found our balance…the day we learned to ride a bike.

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Our children and grand children have all grown…

which is as it should be…I don’t mind

but every now and then I miss the innocence they left behind…


It’s not that their innocence is gone forever. They will always have a trace…

It’s just that as they all grow older…other feelings take its place…


It’s funny as a father then grandfather…as our children and grandchildren grew…

once their innocence became a little buried…some of mine did too.


But yesterday for a little while…my circumstances turned

when a friend visited with Jaxson, her grandson…and my innocence returned.


We played with toys our children played with…matchbox cars, a ball…a train

but the most fun we had was outside…when I taught him how to make it rain.


I showed him how to hold the hose…”straight up like this”…I explained…

“and when you press the lever here…you can make it rain”.


At his age he doesn’t say a lot of words that is until we made it rain…when

I heard him say as plain as day…again…again…again.


And so we made it rain again and again…and again

the old man and Jaxon who’s about to turn three

Until a little rain was not enough and he turned the hose on me.


And so for the next few moments our destinies were set

and when the rain subsided…we both were soaking wet.


He waved as his grandmother took him home to change 

and with water dripping off my back

I waved goodbye to Jaxson…

as I welcomed my innocence back.

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Dear God,


It’s Billy, have you got a minute…I apologize for bothering you

with the entire universe to look after…

I imagine you have a lot to do


But have you checked in on the Earth lately…

perhaps from way up there it’s hard to tell

but I think if you look hard enough

you’ll see we’re not doing very well.


I know you must be happy with all the love down here

and that is a reason to celebrate…

but as happy as you are with all the love

you’ve got to be saddened by all the hate.


Which is why after church this morning 

I’m sending this prayer to you…

you see I’m afraid and confused and I’m worried

and I don’t know what else to do.


So God if you happen to have the time…

I wonder…could you to re-create….

a world that keeps the love that’s already here

but gets rid of all the hate?


I hope this isn’t too much to ask…

and I’m not even sure what kind of power you’ve got…

but if you could make this one prayer come true

it sure would mean a lot.


And if you make this dream come true…

in church will I never miss another Amen…

and I’ll make you this promise:

I’ll never bother you again!


Well I have to go now…

My mom says there are a lot of things I have to do…

And if you’re going to get rid of everyone’s hate

I imagine so do you.


Your friend,


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You have to love the reasoning of a child.

You have to stand in awe…

You have to love it

Oftentimes I think that, as adults…

we could use a little more of it…


Their son saw magic everywhere

In ever cranny 

and every nook

When they asked how he sees so much magic

He smiled…


because I know where to look.

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