"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jer. 29:11

Thursday Tête à tête

>> Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trash ... Utter Trash

The rain tapped on the window making its arrival known. Norman sat at his desk staring into the flames dancing around the logs in the hearth. 
I really believed God had called me to write this.
He thumbed through the pages of his manuscript, a book he had poured his soul into. Trash…utter trash, he shook his head and rolled his chair away from the desk. Checking his watch he headed to the kitchen. 

The sight of his wife standing at the kitchen sink brought a smile to his face. With his hands on her shoulders he dropped a kiss on the top her head and then joined his children at the table. 

“What do I owe this pleasure to? Don’t you have school today?” A teasing glint filled his eyes.

“Father, you know we’re on Christmas vacation.” Margaret ran her hands through her hair and pulled her blond curls over one shoulder.  “I could have stayed at the dorm and studied.” She giggled as if someone had ticked her.

“Then I wouldn’t have to share a room again.” Elizabeth tossed her sister a fake smile.

Ruth turned from the sink. “Liz, you love having your big sister home from college.” 

“Mom, Robbie wants me to come to his house.” John toppled his glass of milk.

“We’ll see, let’s finish lunch first.” Ruth rushed over to mop up the spill, but her husband had already handled it.

After lunch Norman returned to his office. Ruth sashayed in and found him staring at a stack of letters with a defeated and somber expression.  

Putting her arm across his shoulders, she laid her head on his.  “Another rejection letter?”

“Yes. And now I know what to do.” He dumped the entire manuscript into the trashcan.

Ruth reached to retrieve it and before she could grasp it, Norman placed his hand on hers. 

“Leave it, that’s where it belongs. I plainly went outside the will of God.” 

“Norman, you can’t mean that. I read your manuscript. It has the potential to make a difference in peoples lives.”  Ruth pulled a hanky from her pocket and dabbed a tear.

“Dear, we have to face reality.  The manuscript is where it belongs.  I’m going to the church for a while.”  He took his hat from the rack by his office door and gave his wife a hug.  “I’ll be back before dinner. I love you.”

“I love you too.” Her eyes filled with sadness.

She turned and peered into the trashcan. What am I going to do? 

An idea popped right into her head and she knew exactly what to do. She hurried and changed her clothes.  As she shoved her arms into her coat, she called to her son.

“John, come on and I’ll drop you at Robbie’s.”

Ruth opened the door of the girl’s room.  “I’ll be back in a couple of hours.” 

“John, are you ready?” Ruth picked up her purse and keys.

“Mom, what’s the trashcan for?” John stretched trying to see inside the container.

“Come on. Get in the car, I’m in a hurry.” 

After dropping John off she drove to the business district.  She struggled and pulled open the heavy glass door to the offices of Prentice-Hall Publishers. 

The secretary glanced up from her typewriter. She looked at Ruth and puckered her brow. “May I help you?”

Ruth shifted the trashcan to the other arm.  Uncomfortable with the glare the secretary was directing at her.  “I want to see the person in charge of publishing. Please.”

“Do you have an appointment?” Her surly tone of voice indicated she knew Ruth did not have an appointment.

“I need to give this … this manuscript to the publisher.” Ruth spoke barely above a whisper.

“I’m sorry, but ...”  

A man came through the doorway behind the secretary’s desk.  “Susan, I need the file for…I apologize, I didn’t see you were talking to someone.” He stepped around the desk.

“What’s this?” He motioned to the trashcan in Ruth’s arms.

“It’s my husband’s … manuscript.” 

“May I see it?”  Ruth cringed inside as she timidly pushed the container toward him.

“No. I meant the manuscript.”

“My husband asked me to leave it in the trash.”  Ruth once more thrust the container toward the man. 

He shook his head and chuckled as her removed the manuscript from the trashcan. “What’s your name?”

“Ruth…Ruth Peale.”

“Nice meeting you Mrs. Peale, I’m Mr. Hall.  Leave your phone number and address with my secretary. I’ll look your manuscript over and notify you if we’re interested.”

The following weeks Ruth listened for the two short rings, which meant the phone was for them and not another party on the party line. The call didn’t come.

More than two month had gone by and Ruth and given up hope. One morning, they were finishing breakfast when the sound of the doorbell echoed through the house. Ruth wiped her hands on her apron and opened the door. Mr. Hall was standing on her front porch.  

He removed his hat. “Hello Mrs. Peale, is your husband home?”

“Mr. Hall, please come in.”  Ruth showed him to the sitting room. “Have a seat and I will get my husband.” Her pulsed raced as she went to find Norman.


Mr. Hall spoke with Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.  In 1952 Prentice-Hall published, The Power of Positive Thinking.  

Note: Based on a true story.

I LOVE reading your comments!


dandelionfleur January 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM  

Oh, irony! Beautiful irony! Loved this account, Rita. If only we all had a Ruth Peale in our lives!

Claudette H Wood January 26, 2012 at 11:34 AM  

That is really cool! A reminder to never give up on your dream. I love the way his wife honored his wish to leave the manuscript in the trash can.

Rhonda Schrock January 31, 2012 at 8:49 AM  

Very cool. God can do anything He wants, any way He wants.

Anonymous,  February 9, 2012 at 3:35 AM  

Rita, I'm doing some catch up reading and loved this account. Mrs. Peale visited my mother once years ago and mother so enjoyed her visit. This is truly a great encouragement to young and older writers who want to toss it all aside and choose another avocation. Thanks for writing it! Love you, Mariane Holbrook

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"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

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