Then, he met her. She’d moved to town to teach school. When he saw her at church, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He approached her with an idea.

I drove four hours to meet the editor of a big-city newspaper. I walked into a large office wearing my nicest necktie. I was young. Wide-eyed.

She told me I had five minutes. I handed her a pathetic resume so tiny it needed a magnifying glass.

“You’re not even a journalism major?” she remarked.

“No ma’am.”

“You’re still in community college?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You’re wasting my time. I’ve got journalists lining up around the block. Find me a good story, and maybe we’ll talk.”

A good story.

The next day, I stopped at a nursing home. I walked inside and asked if there were any storytellers in the bunch.

The woman at the desk gave me a look. “They’re ALL storytellers, sweetie.”

She introduced me to a ninety-four-year-old man. We sat in the cafeteria. I asked to hear about his life. He said, “You with the IRS or something?”

He talked, and he was eighteen again. A rural boy who’d never set foot in a schoolhouse. His father used a wheelchair. His mother was dead.

Then, he met her. She’d moved to town to teach school. When he saw her at church, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He approached her with an idea.

“I played on her sympathy,” he said. “Was my only hope, she was too pretty to be seen with me.”

He asked her to teach him to read. She agreed. He made fast progress—which was no surprise. He would’ve rather died than disappoint a pretty girl.

They married. She taught, he farmed. During those years, he remembers how they sat together in the evenings, watching evening take hold of the world. Love can be simple.

She died before age forty.

It was crippling. He gave up living. His fields went to weed. He lost his farm. He lost himself. He checked into a room at the motor-inn.

“I had nothing left,” he said. “I sat on the bed with a thirty-eight caliber in my hand…”

There sat a leather-bound, bestselling book on the motel nightstand.

He opened it. He read a passage. Then another. And another. He stayed awake all night, reading the red words. That’s when he claimed everything changed.

He remarried. He had three kids, a career working for an auto-part distributor. He paid three tuitions, and watched five grandchildren grow.

“If Loretta wouldn’t have taught me to read,” he said, “I coulda never read the first word, and I wouldn’t be here, talking into your little tape recorder. She saved me.”

That night, I typed seven hundred words about him. It was the first thing I ever wrote that felt important. It took me a week to edit.

The lady at the newspaper showed me the door.

“Sorry,” she said. “This isn’t journalism, we don’t print this kinda thing.”

Like I said, I was young.

He died not long after. They buried him in a suit. Necktie. A ratty book in his hands. He wore a Gideon lapel pin and held a framed copy of an unpublished story some kid wrote about him.

I’m writing this because once, I wanted to be a journalist.

And because I’m grateful we don’t always get everything we want.


  1. Melodie - August 2, 2018 5:47 am

    Yes! Thank God for unanswered prayers! I’m sure we can all think of a few. Love your work, Sean. My daily go-to. 🙂

  2. cathy notaro - August 2, 2018 6:08 am

    Not printing ‘this kind of stuff’ is most likely the reason newspapers are almost extinct.
    And yes, thank God for unanswered prayers.

  3. Maureen A - August 2, 2018 9:31 am

    What a blessing for all of us, that you didn’t become a journalist.

  4. Pete m - August 2, 2018 9:40 am


  5. Carolyn Allen - August 2, 2018 10:35 am

    So thankful, Sean, that you didn’t become a stuffy
    journalist. If you had you probably wouldn’t be touching people’s hearts and souls like you are.
    Thank you for touching mine every morning.

  6. Ruthie - August 2, 2018 10:36 am

    That woke me up – wonderful story.

  7. Gale Smith - August 2, 2018 11:06 am

    Journalists are a dime a dozen….and most of them are light-years away from being Barbara Walters. Sean, you are something special: you are a writer. Your words will still be ringing out long after we are all gone. That’s as close to immortal as you can get.

  8. LeAnne Martin - August 2, 2018 11:17 am

    This is beautiful, Sean. What a precious story. Thank you!

  9. Barbara - August 2, 2018 11:21 am

    Thank you again Sean! You bring Memories, Feelings, and Hope to us Every Day! ?

  10. Ellen - August 2, 2018 12:08 pm

    What Gale said…
    Thank you and your words for making a difference in my life.

  11. Clint - August 2, 2018 12:09 pm

    That’s why right or left, it’s all “fake news”. That story is real news. Perhaps you should start a newspaper with stories like this. Employee that kid in a necktie and use real paper. I’d subscribe to it. I’m sure everyone posting here would.

  12. Anna - August 2, 2018 12:11 pm

    Thank you, Sean, for staying true to your “journalism”and not that of anyone else. The world is full of those, and there is only one you to bless so many every day as you do.

  13. Jim Heywood - August 2, 2018 12:18 pm

    Sean, sometimes you just stun me with a completely unexpected bolt from the blue. Thanks again.

  14. Barbara Pope - August 2, 2018 12:19 pm

    What a wonderful story about a real man in more ways than one.

  15. Jan - August 2, 2018 12:21 pm

    Amen! Your stories are the kind of news we need … they remind us that the world is still made up of real people leading real lives, the kind of lives that matter!

  16. Marilyn - August 2, 2018 12:26 pm

    I look forward to your blog each morning. It’s a great way to start my day, so keep on keeping on, Sean. I also like to see the art work that goes with your story.

  17. Rebecca - August 2, 2018 12:52 pm

    I think this story is especially good. Thanks for helping me begin the day with a smile.

  18. Dianne - August 2, 2018 1:00 pm

    Sometimes God’s unanswered prayers for us are the best answers. I never question the “No” answers anymore. Thank you for another beautiful start to my day.

  19. Jeanne Butler - August 2, 2018 1:02 pm

    I am grateful you didn’t get what you wanted either. Way too many journalists in this sad world but only one wonderful Sean. Thank you. Love you Sean.

  20. Donna - August 2, 2018 1:09 pm

    Exquisite! God is Great!

  21. cronkitesue - August 2, 2018 1:21 pm

    I was a journalist and now I’m writing fiction. When I was an editor, I would have used that story. I would have given you free rein to find real stories. Just like the Anniston Star and the Birmingham News did for Rick Brag.

  22. Jack Darnell - August 2, 2018 1:31 pm

    I have always thought story telling was important. Still do. We have too many ‘bleed stories’. My opinion, which evidently doesn’t mean much in this world, we have FEW real journalists. Ones who know a real story when they see it.
    Good visit as always, thanks.

  23. Laurie Ulrich - August 2, 2018 1:32 pm

    So am I~

  24. Richard C. - August 2, 2018 1:37 pm

    Indeed, let’s thank God for unanswered prayers (thanks Garth). Your epistles each morning restore my faith quite often. You have a gift not taught in school – the gift of seeing good in people. May God continue to bless you.

  25. Ronnie - August 2, 2018 1:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing this one! Love it!

  26. Betty Foster - August 2, 2018 1:53 pm

    Amen! We. Would have lost a beautiful window on the world.

  27. P.J. Anderson - August 2, 2018 1:56 pm

    ????????The world needs fewer journalist and more Seans!

  28. Phillip Saunders - August 2, 2018 2:19 pm

    Beautiful story, Sean. Bet that editor now wishes she had hired you; but, you are right – sometimes the best answer is “no.” Remember Romans 8:28.

  29. Patti Pignetti - August 2, 2018 2:23 pm

    Do glad you didn’t stop writing

  30. Edna B. - August 2, 2018 2:36 pm

    I agree with everyone else. There are too many journalists in the world and most of them don’t know how to write stories. It’s the stories we want and need. The ones about people and the good that is out there. I don’t read newspapers very often and I don’t watch the news very often. There’s not much good happening there. I loved today’s story. God Bless you Sean. Keep those wonderful stories coming. You have a fabulous day. Hugs, Edna B.

  31. Jones - August 2, 2018 2:38 pm

    Excellent, simply excellent. Thank you.

  32. Martha Tubb - August 2, 2018 2:43 pm


  33. Jacque Kochak - August 2, 2018 2:46 pm

    Well, a lot of us so-called journalists really like your work. That editor didn’t know what she was talking about. This story really touched me.

    • Michael A. Nalley - April 4, 2021 11:29 pm

      Wouldn’t it be great if all of us reported some good things from time to time. There still is a lot of good out there.

      • Michael A. Nalley - April 4, 2021 11:31 pm

        But I understand that is no what the papers or the net want to pay for.

  34. Jacque Kochak - August 2, 2018 2:47 pm

    And I am so, so glad you were stubborn enough not to listen to her.

  35. Dianne Correll - August 2, 2018 2:50 pm

    Love it. No opinions, just truth!!

  36. Joy - August 2, 2018 3:00 pm

    You are so right..It is wonderful that God knows what is best for us, even if we don’t at the time. Psalm 23 says it all! Love you Sean and I am grateful for your writings.

    I am so glad my computer is fixed and I can read your articles…however, I have read all the ones that came in while it was down…just didn’t comment on them.

  37. Dru - August 2, 2018 3:06 pm

    The story is the truth. I grew up loving my grandparents’ stories and taught several decades using stories to illustrate every important point. Stories are what students remember—not PowerPoints. Journalists pursue headlines, not stories, and the shortest route to headlines is accusation and blame, not truth. Your stories are gold, Sean—especially this one.

  38. Pat - August 2, 2018 3:06 pm

    I am old now, but remember when I was about 12, I went to a revival with my mother. The only thing I remember from the sermon (and have never forgotten) was the minister saying that “sometimes our disappointments are God’s appointments”.

  39. Edy - August 2, 2018 3:12 pm

    Excellent! A great reminder

  40. Bruce Stover - August 2, 2018 3:21 pm

    This piece alone is probably far better than anything she ever wrote. Great story..’

  41. Jack Quanstrum - August 2, 2018 3:25 pm

    Love the story. Life’s twists and turns are an amazing ride some scary some fulfilling!

  42. Anne Trawick - August 2, 2018 3:43 pm


  43. Janie's Jottings - August 2, 2018 4:48 pm

    This is the best kind of story. It touches your heart and you may even feel like you’ve been punched in the gut. It’s beautiful how a broken man can be reborn. Once again Sean you have blessed my day. Keep it up!!!

  44. Susan in Wausau - August 2, 2018 8:48 pm

    I love your stories of real folks and real love. I think, however, that sometimes we misunderstand that God hasn’t answered. Sometimes the answer is no!

  45. Sue Jones - August 2, 2018 9:06 pm

    I only wish I could write like you. My oldest granddaughter is in college now majoring in Journalism. I hope she does as well as you do.

  46. Cheryl Clem - August 2, 2018 9:35 pm

    How you stir feelings in me that I thought we’re long dead. I look forward to waking up in the mornings to see what story lies ahead. You are a real inspiration and blessing to me.
    Don’t stop…..please.

  47. Maria Shytle Painter - August 2, 2018 9:42 pm

    It’s been said that every time an elderly person dies, a library burns down.Thanks for capturing this one! My Dad finally wrote out his life story and had it published…it’s a treasure I give as a gift to so many friends.It’s called “Carolina Roots” by Tom Shytle… it’s all about a little boy who decides to join the Air Force after growing up in a dirt floor house in the mountains of NC…God sure is good!

    • Janet Mary Lee - August 3, 2018 9:30 pm

      Liked your post,Maria! I great side to Sean’s great stories!! 🙂

  48. Ed Steadman - August 3, 2018 5:33 am

    I love this story

  49. Afi Scruggs - August 3, 2018 3:46 pm

    Sean, I’ve been a journalist for more than 30 years. You were blessed. She should have hired you on the spot because: you went out and got a story in less than 24 hours! It was a great feature! You exhibited enterprise and energy. (Like you do know). We know where you are. Where is she?

  50. Katherine - August 3, 2018 4:12 pm

    My brother-in-law is a Gideon and will appreciate this post. I intend to forward it to him right away.

  51. Linda Chipman - August 4, 2018 5:02 pm

    Thank God for unanswered prayers.

  52. Lynda of Willow, Alaska - August 5, 2018 12:46 am

    Wow, Sean, wow. Very good, loved your story.

  53. Mike - September 29, 2018 7:03 am

    Keep writing until you can write no more. Inspiring…..yes. Thank you for sharing your talent.

  54. Johnny Payne - January 25, 2021 1:36 am

    Great article as usual. I was a Gideon for several years and there are hundreds of examples of how the Gideon Bibles have touched lives. Once in a nursing home we were replacing worn or missing Bibles in the residents rooms. We went in one little lady’s room and asked if she had a Bible and could we inspect it. She replied sure just look in the second drawer of my chest. We found about 25 Bibles she had gotten from other rooms. Never a dull moment!!

  55. Shirley McCrummen - January 25, 2021 1:58 am

    Beautiful story thank you for sharing

  56. Shirley Kelly - January 25, 2021 2:26 am

    A Gideon visiting the school I attended as a child brought me to the Lord. Gideons don’t always know about the ones that have accepted Jesus. So greatful for them. So glad this man found the “Best Seller”. Loved the story. Shirley Kelly

  57. Linda - January 25, 2021 3:58 am

    Your stories touch so many lives. Mine included ❤️

  58. Aunt Si or Martha Black - January 25, 2021 11:42 am

    Im so glad you didn’t become a journalist but a storyteller instead. A story told well can do so much, fantasy or fiction or a mix told well………… I’m so happy to have found you, a teller of tales.

  59. joan moore - January 25, 2021 8:21 pm

    Feelings over the facts every time!

  60. jan-e - January 27, 2021 1:33 pm

    Another bestie.

  61. Peggy Kelly - April 4, 2021 11:32 pm

    Your writing is a wonderful gift to us all. Thank you Sean from the bottom of my heart.

  62. Frances Lester - April 5, 2021 10:16 pm

    “They are ALL storytellers!” Thanks for reminding us to listen and enjoy every one!

  63. Ken W. - July 23, 2022 9:08 am

    Thanks friend.Excellent story.

    Ken W.


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