When I was a kid, my mother believed in angels, but I didn’t. I was on the fence about angels. I didn’t believe in hocus pocus. My thought was, if angels were real, then why were they always the worst team in the Major Leagues? My mother used to say, “When you get older, you will believe.”

“How can you be so sure?” I asked.

“Because, when you’re older there will be moments in your life when you cannot logically explain what just happened, without believing.”


But then I started writing. And almost immediately, I started receiving stories from people.

Like this one: The young woman was in her car. It was midnight. The two-lane highway was desolate.

Her Impala struck a deer. It wasn't just a deer. It was an animal about the size of a subtropical continent. Her car spun. The automobile went into the opposite lane.

An oncoming vehicle struck her. She blacked out.

The next thing she remembers is a man helping her from the car. He lifted her out. He placed

her against the guardrail. “You’re going to be okay,” he said.

When the paramedics found her, she was asking where the man went. “Ma’am,” the EMTs explained, “Nobody travels this highway at this time of night.”

That’s when she looked at what used to be her car. It was a pile of soot. If she would have been inside, she would have been permanently checked into the Horizontal Hilton.

And here’s another. The man worked at a commercial factory. He was overseeing huge production machines. And when one of the machines started acting up, one of his workers, a young woman, tried to fix the mechanical problem herself.

The employee had her arm inside the machine when one of the hydraulic levers pinned her arm inside the machine and was about to sever her limb.

The foreman was trying to help, so were…

The following reader-submitted letters have been edited to be family friendly.

READER FROM PENNSYLVANIA: You seem like a nice person, but I keep trying to figure out whether you are a true follower of Jesus or not. Can you tell me if you are, please? At this stage of my life, I ONLY want to surround myself with strong Christians.

ME: What about drunkards and tax collectors? I’m probably not your kind of guy.

READER FROM MICHIGAN: Sean, I can’t stand your writing. You are a clueless mother trucker. You think this world is a great place, but you’re wrong. The truth is we are all in serious trouble. I was in law enforcement for 29 years and I’ve seen the worst of the worst. Watch the news once in a while. Quit turning a blind eye and grow up.

ME: What is a mother trucker?

READER FROM ALABAMA: Dear Sean, I can’t figure out if you’re religious or not. I wish I knew where you stand on Jesus because I’m afraid you’ve rejected Him as your

personal Lord and savior. If you have indeed turned your back on our savior, I want you to know that I’m praying for you.

ME: “Savior” should be capitalized.

READER FROM WEST VIRGINIA: Your haircut is outdated, Sean. You look pretty unkempt with all that hair. No offense, I just wanted you to know.

ME: Thank you for not calling me fat.

READER FROM MONTANA: Why do you consistently use fragment sentences? I was an English teacher for 37 years. I always penalized students for using fragments when they should have been using commas.

ME: I offer my. Sincerest. Apologies. Ma’am.

READER FROM NEW JERSEY: Dear Sean, you have taken several pot shots at New Jersey over the years and it makes me so mad I’ve quit reading you. I grew up in New Jersey, so has my entire family. I’ve raised an…

Dallas. The mid-1980s. There were three Mexican boys in the supermarket. The meat department. They were covered in sawdust and drywall mud. They were eyeing the beef, looking for the cheapest cuts. Counting their nickels and dimes.

But they came up short. They were about to walk away when the butcher came from behind the counter and handed them 25 pounds of ground beef.

That’s a lot of meat.

“The expiration dates are technically past due,” said the butcher, “but this is still perfectly good meat if you freeze it. And it’s just going to go to waste if you don’t take it.”

“How much do we owe you?” asked one of the boys.

“Nothing,” said the butcher. “On the house.”

The three young men looked at each other. No words were said. One of the boys started crying.

“God bless joo,” was their response.

“God bless j’all too,” said the Texan butcher.

Rural Kansas. The man was walking his dog in the neighborhood when it happened. A car wreck took place in front of him. On the street. The

Ford Contour plowed into a telephone pole. Nose first. Game over.

Soon, the vehicle was on fire. Someone inside the automobile was screaming.

“They were horrible screams,” the dog-walker remembers.

He didn’t know what to do, so he plunged into the burning car and dragged the driver from the inferno. There was a baby was in the back seat. He saved the infant, too.

Today, the baby is a grown woman who drives a truck for a living. A few months ago, that truck driver visited a nursing home.

“You don’t know me,” she said, as she sidled up to the elderly man’s bedside. “But you saved my life when I was a baby in a burning car. I just wanted to thank you.”

The old man died last week. The truck driver told this same story at that man’s…

There was a lot of excitement in the admissions department a few weeks ago. It was a big day. All the angels were getting their wings ruffled over a big-time celebrity who was checking in.

“Did you hear?” said one angel to another. “Today’s the day! She’s coming!”

“Who’s coming?”

So the angel pulled out the logbook and pointed to the photograph of a small 7-year-old girl. The girl who spent her last days on hospice. The girl whose family prayed until the bitter end. The girl who never, not even once, lost heart. Not even in the face of illness.

The angels were pulling out all the stops for the big party. The beautification committee was hanging streamers and a large banner over the abalone gates that read “Welcome Home!”

The snack committee brought so much food they ran out of paper plates. The fireworks crew prepared for a huge display.

The first spectators started arriving early. Among them were people like Elvis, George Washington Carver, William Franklin Graham, Lewis and Clark, Vincent van

Gough, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Leonardo da Vinci, and Babe Ruth. And there were many others who you’ve never heard of.

There is no rank of importance in this place. Everyone is the same. It’s hard to explain this concept to Earth people. One of the most popular saints up here, for instance, is an elderly man who used to be a janitor in a Soviet orphanage. You’ve never heard of him, but he’s a big deal.

So everyone gathered at the gates. Not just people, but animals, too. Zebras, lions, sheep, antelope, penguins, and squirrels.

And the all-star band was warming up. Vivaldi played fiddle, Chopin was on keyboard, Miles Davis played flugelhorn, Lawrence Welk was conducting.

You could hear the rustle of wings when the angels crowded the gates. They sounded like a bunch of excited chickens. Angels love new arrivals.

The reception was…

What is a Fifth Sunday Sing? Well, don’t feel bad if you don’t know. This probably means you grew up someplace like Sacramento. Or worse, Queens.

For the unbaptized, Fifth Sunday Sings were started in the pioneer days. Back then, rural Americans couldn’t make it to church every Sunday. Back then, America had 32 million farmers. So churches had “all-day sings,” usually every fifth Sunday.

After four Sundays, homesteaders traveled travel miles into town, camped out on the church grounds, brought food, and spent the Sunday hanging out. Singing. Eating.

They’d shake each other’s hands and say, “I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays, Carl.” Some called them “camp meetings.” Or “dinner on the grounds.”

No matter what you call them, they still happen. Although they are rare.

Food has always been central to these quintessential small-church gatherings. Every woman brings her ace dish. She places her dish on a long table, alongside the others, and everyone eats until their feet swell and their ears ring.

I was a chubby child, and this is

exactly the reason why. We did fifth Sunday sings. And I was always first in line for any potluck. Although my fundamentalist brethren did not call them “potlucks.” We called it a “pot providences.” We did not believe in luck. Luck was for heathens, reprobates, and Presbyterians.

Right now, I am at a fifth-Sunday-sing potluck at Pleasant Hill Baptist in Slocomb, Alabama. And I’m experiencing all the old feelings from childhood.

Today, Sister Annette has made chicken and dumplings. The old way. With hardboiled eggs. Miss Annette insists there is nothing special about her dumplings. She says it’s “Just homemade chicken broth, rolled dumplings, and hard boiled eggs.” No big deal, she says.

But here’s the thing. Miss Annette has no idea that, today, young women don’t hand-roll dumplings. In fact, people don’t prepare anything homemade anymore.

I read a recent study that said…

Rural Alabama. Geneva County. A barbecue joint. The woman was alone. She was sitting all alone, in the booth by herself. She looked lost. There were scabs on her face. Her teeth were gone. She was bone-thin.

The woman was clothed in rags. She looked like she was in her fifties, but she might have been only 20-something. I don’t know much, but I once had a friend who became addicted to meth. And this woman bore all the tell-tale signs.

The irony is, nobody noticed her. She was invisible. Nobody paid her any mind. Except, of course, for her waitress.

Her waitress was a young, wholesome looking girl. Blonde. High-school-age maybe. The server saw the woman. She approached and took the woman’s order. The skinny woman ordered simply water and potato salad. That was all.

“Don’t you want to order more?” asked the youthful waitress.

The waitress had her shirt tied around her waist so that her midriff showed a little. She wore tight-fitting jeans. And she had a sleeve of tattoos, like many of today’s

kids have. She looked like pep rallies and senior class trips.

“No, ma’am,” said the woman. “I can’t afford more.”

The waitress looked at her for a beat and said. “But you need to eat more than just potato salad.”

“I’ll be okay,” said the woman.

The waitress just smiled at her. She went back to the kitchen. In a few moments, the waitress reappeared with two big foam boxes of food. She showed the boxes to the woman. Inside were two pounds of meat. A pound of pulled chicken. A pound of pulled pork. Coleslaw. Potato salad. Camp stew. Sauce. Pickles. Chutney.

The lean woman looked at all the food and said, “I didn’t order this.”

“It’s on the house,” said the waitress. “The kitchen has to get rid of their meat today.

The woman was proud. She showed no emotion. She…

The hotel pool. The sun is high. All the hotel guests’ children are wearing bathing suits, excitedly scurrying into the pool so they can pee in it.

I travel for a living and stay in lots of hotels. In my short time on this planet, I’ve learned a few things about kids in hotels.

One: Never get into the pool. Two: when it’s approaching midnight, children will collectively hold a decathlon in the hallways above your room.

Three: regardless of which is your room, in the middle of the night, gaggles of kids will hold a laughing contest outside your door. Four: Every apple on the breakfast buffet has been fondled by a 5-year-old with a runny nose.

Anyway, the pool. There were two boys at the swimming pool who caught my attention.

One of them was named Ben. I know this because Ben’s little brother kept shouting it. It was always “BEN!” this. And “BEN!” that.

The little brother was missing both arms at the elbow joint. And one of his legs was impaired, too. When they arrived at the pool, Ben removed

his little brother’s prosthetics and left the paraphernalia with their towels. Then he helped his tiny brother into the pool.

“I’m scared, Ben!” said the boy.

“Don’t worry,” said Ben. “I’ve got you.”

Ben had his arms wrapped around the little boy, bear hugging him from behind. He was carrying him.

When they eased into the water, Ben was still embracing his little brother tightly, and his brother was freaking out.

“Don’t let me go, Ben!”

“I won’t.”



So Ben held his brother even tighter. In the pool, Ben carried the little boy around the shallow end until his brother calmed down. And when Ben’s brother was relaxed, Ben taught him to float on his back.

“Don’t let go of me, Ben!” said the little boy who had no arms.

“I won’t,” said Ben,…