"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."
~~Abraham Lincoln

Hi all,

Welcome to another celebration of Promotion Day!  On April 26th, 1865, Andrew became an angel of death.  This development was covered in the TBAA episode "Beautiful Dreamer."  Below you'll find some reflections on that episode (thanks Rebecca and Cindy!) along with a story about a very different "Promotion Day" written by yours truly at about 2 AM Saturday morning... well, at least part of it was.  ;-)

Also, from here on out we'd like to do newsletters centered around various TBAA episodes.  So if you have something you'd like to say or create about Andrew in a particular episode, please let me know.  We already have the start of a list of episodes we want to get around to but I'm happy to add more!  It'd be nice to cover some of John's other projects, too.

Finally, for those of you who may not have already heard, some very special items are showing up on Ebay.  Please check this page and the links on it regularly for information and to see some fabulous photos of John and memorabilia.

Thank you!

God bless,

Reflections on "Beautiful Dreamer"

From Rebecca:

I loved that episode as I did all the historic ones because they brought a piece of history and the historical figures to life.  I think they did a beautiful job in representing Mr. Lincoln as well as Mary Todd Lincoln.  History says Mr. Lincoln did have dreams and visions, and loved seeing that weaved into an episode of TBAA.  Loved that episode.   Also loved how they created a modern day story about a child who could get some inspiration and hope by hearing about Mr. Lincoln.  I believe history is so important because by learning history we learn so much about the world we live in today.

This was a wonderful way for Andrew to start his career as an Angel of Death.  What better assignment then Abraham Lincoln.  What a case worker Andrew was,  even though John Wilkes Boothe was who he was Andrew still tried with all of his heart to show him the way.  None of us know whether in actuality he accepted Gods grace and forgiveness or not however Andrew was wonderful!

From Cindy:

My thoughts on Beautiful Dreamer

I love the historical episodes of TBAA.  Andrew was such a strong character in this story, and I love that he was really the ‘featured angel’ in this one.  I have a feeling that John’s personal convictions may have mirrored Andrew’s as well too, concerning equal rights. The scenes with Andrew arguing with JWB trying to get him to see that his belief that he was acting on behalf of God was wrong really hit home on a couple of points.  First, I have had the exact same type ‘discussions’ with friends, and even family...and I have not been able to get through to them either…in fact, those topics have really become taboo and are not brought up, and it’s not that we agreed to disagree in some instances, but that we had to declare them off limits or ruin the relationship-and so I understand Andrew’s frustration.

second point is I just finished a Bible study on the book of James. And it talked about not changing God’s word to fit our beliefs. Wow! Poor Andrew trying to get JWB to see that, by telling him yes, slavery is in the Bible, but, people created slavery, not God, and slavery is an abomination to God.  And, in my Bible study, it talked about how we should err on the side of mercy…not back down from the Truth, but, show people the kind of mercy/grace God offers…and Andrew did that by telling JWB that there was still time for him to seek God’s grace.  That was just really a good example of the way I understand James.  I just loved how Andrew cared about JWB and stayed with him until the very end truly wanting him to change.

The only ‘thing’ that bothered me with the episode, is the assumption that JWB was depicted as not surrendering to God on this issue and therefore, not going to Heaven. And, by having Andrew walking away from him (even tho he was not his AOD-he would have seen his AOD) that strongly indicated that. I only say that since this was a historically based episode.  I would have been absolutely fine with it if JWB were not a real person.  I do like that the writers did show the free will option that God gives all humans, but wish they had done that with a fictional character, even writing a fictional character into the story just for that purpose.  I also personally believe that once you truly surrender to and belong to God you can never be taken away from Him, even if your beliefs/opinions do get skewed and you distance yourself from Him…and that God allows that opportunity to surrender/reconcile to Him throughout one’s life, and especially at the point of death, so how do we know that’s not the case with JWB?  I know there is evidence that shows JWB’s beliefs and convictions…but, even Sam said, ‘a heart can change in an instant’. Its back to that ‘err on the side of mercy’.  Just didn’t like the writers condemning JWB like that.

In closing, I love that the writers used this storyline to ‘promote’ Andrew. Andrew thinking that he failed, yet, he did exactly what God was looking for…extending grace and mercy and compassion to a seemly undeserving person and sticking with and hoping for that person to the very end. Yep, that’s the kind of AOD I want…

From Jenni:

So I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do for this Promotion Day.  Actually, I was starting to get a bit concerned that I'd come up empty.  Then this came out.  Sam's story popped into my head at 2 AM on Saturday morning... forcing me awake.  Prior to that, Sam wasn't supposed to be in this story at all.  But I'm glad he is.  A more accurate title for this one might have been "Jenni Works Through Her Issues Connected to Andrew's Relationships with His Co-Workers" but that's a little lengthy.  ;-)  So I went with...

A Different Promotion Day

It was 2:33 PM on Wednesday, April 25th and JenniAnn was frowning at her silver pocket watch.  She wouldn't have been so anxious over three minutes of tardiness if not for the fact that she knew somewhere there was a certain gold pocket watch reading 2:38...  Andrew's.  Measured in his time, the angel of death was actually eight minutes late and that was highly uncharacteristic.  JenniAnn reasoned that perhaps she had gotten confused.  She thought the plan had been to meet at the tree then walk over to Serendipity, retrieve Lulu, double back to Willowveil, grab Fawn, and then discuss plans for the Promotion Day picnic as the dogs got their exercise.  But maybe Andrew had said Serendipity then Willowveil then tree...  Perhaps he was waiting in his house, fretting over *her* lateness.  Cheered by this possibility, JenniAnn sprinted towards Andrew's.  When she made her way up the steps, she noticed that the front door was open.  While the angel was certainly a fan of fresh air, it seemed odd he'd leave the place open for every mosquito, moth, and bee to enter.

"Andrew?" JenniAnn called, poking her head inside.

There was only silence in response.

Her nerves returning full-force, the woman stepped into the hallway. 

"Andrew?" JenniAnn repeated.  When there was again no answer she poked her head into the kitchen.  Empty.  She darted towards the living room.  The scene she found there both touched and concerned her.  Andrew was laying on his couch fast asleep with Lulu tucked against his chest also snoozing away.  After approaching on tip-toe, JenniAnn softly set the back of her hand against the angel's forehead.

"He's fine," a deep, whispering voice assured. 

Jumping, JenniAnn spun around to find Sam seated on the piano bench.

The angel smiled, stood up, and motioned for her to follow him out of the room.

"I was just checking to see if he had a fever," the woman
, blushing slightly, explained once they were in the hall.  "I was worried cause, well, Andrew seldom takes naps and especially not when he's sposed to be somewhere.  We were gonna meet to discuss a few things for tomorrow's Promotion Day picnic."

Sam frowned.  "He'll feel badly about that when he wakes up."

"Then I'll tell him he shouldn't.  I don't know what's going on but clearly he needs some sleep.  And I can hardly be mad at a guy over missing his own party plans."  She shrugged.  "So, um, what are you doing here?"

Declining to answer directly, Sam entered the kitchen and grabbed a pitcher of sweet tea from the refrigerator.  "Would you care to join me, JenniAnn?"

She eyed the supervisor warily. 
"Sure..."  Sam had never asked for a private visit with her.  She wasn't sure this was a good thing.  It brought to mind a certain meeting with Tess some years ago that had been trying.  It was far from her fondest memory. 

Sam chuckled as he filled two glasses.  "I'm not Tess," he answered simply.

JenniAnn burst out laughing.  "Thankfully."  She cringed.  "I, umm, didn't mean to say that out loud."

"Say what?"

JenniAnn grinned.  She'd long felt like Sam had a better grasp on Andrew's connection to Dyeland than either Monica or Tess and was now even more sure of it.

"I can assure you that you have nothing to worry over either concerning yourself or Andrew."  Sam handed her a glass then motioned to the table.  Once they were seated, he continued.  "I'd only stopped in for a moment.  Meeting you here was as much a surprise to me as it was to you."

"So Andrew was sposed to meet up with you, too?"  JenniAnn frowned.  That made his nap even more out of character.

"No.  Andrew was unaware I was coming.  I may no longer be his supervisor but that doesn't mean I don't still like to check in on him.  Today seemed like a good day to do that.  I read his records on occasion and I know he's had much on his mind of late.  It's been a demanding run of cases and now he has Violeta's well-being to concern himself with... which he does deeply... and..."

"Us," JenniAnn finished.

Sam took a sip of tea and nodded.  

"I wish he didn't always concern himself so much with us."  Sighing, the woman raised her glass and drank.

The angel crossed his arms over his chest and peered down at her.  "I wish you didn't always concern yourself so much with Andrew."

JenniAnn nearly choked on her tea before protesting.  "But I love him!  How could I not?  And any sacrifice or any added worry pales in comparison to all the blessings that..."  She stopped when she noticed Sam was smiling knowingly at her.  She crossed her arms over her own chest and glared playfully at him.  "Well played.  I got it.  Andrew feels the same way and I shouldn't wish any different when it would bother me if he or anyone close to him was trying to wish what I feel away.  And I know the others would agree.  Still...  It is a lot for him to deal with.  But it does..."  Her features softened.  "It does make me feel better to know you check on him, Sam.  Will you also be here tomorrow for the picnic?"

"Yes, I wouldn't miss it.  Thank you for the invitation.  Special day."

"I'm so glad!  It always means so much to Andrew to have his fellow angels about.  Although... I guess our whole 'Promotion Day' thing must be a little bittersweet for you."  JenniAnn looked kindly at the angel.  Sam wasn't known for wearing his emotions on his sleeve but today's chance run-in was proof that he missed Andrew.  "We've always celebrated it as a big accomplishment in Andrew's life... which it is and always will be... but for you... what is that?  Kinda like the angel equivalent of a parent sending a kid off to college?"

Sam laughed.  "Something akin to that, I suppose.  A lot of joy and hope.  A little sadness, yes.  Mostly pride and love.  Andrew had come such a long way in the years I supervised him.  Did you know that's not the only promotion of Andrew's I witnessed?"

Intrigued, JenniAnn shook her head.

"I'm the one who told him he was going to become a caseworker.  I can still remember it like it was yesterday."  A wistful smile crossed Sam's face.

Fascinated, JenniAnn set her hand on his arm.  "Please tell me."

"I thought you might be eager to hear my story.  First, a visual."  Sam's smile lingered as a piece of paper appeared before him.  He handed it to JenniAnn.

"Oh..."  Reverently holding the archaic paper, JenniAnn examined it closely.  It was a drawing of Andrew in a style somewhat reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci.  "He looks so... dreamy."

Sam chuckled.

JenniAnn smiled.  "I meant he looks like he *is* dreaming.  He's always dreamy himself, of course.  But this... he looks... younger somehow.  Lighter.  Freer."

"That was drawn shortly after Andrew and I had a fateful meeting on a hill..."

Carefully setting the drawing on the table, JenniAnn listened intently as Sam delved into his story.


Sam paused a few yards away from the other angel and studied him.  Andrew was sitting on a rock, smiling at two figures who were playing a game of their own design in the field below.  It was only when the blonde angel let out a sigh that the elder angel approached.

"Andrew," Sam called.

At once Andrew was on his feet and running his hand through his hair.  "Sir!  Hello.  It's umm... Sam, right... sir?"

"It is."  Sam kept his amusement to himself.

Relieved he'd gotten that much right, Andrew smiled for a moment before again becoming nervoud.  "I'm sorry I... well, I mean I know my assignment ended a while ago but the Father hadn't given me any further direction so I thought... maybe... I could stay.  Just for a while."

Something about the fellow before him made it difficult for Sam to maintain his no-nonsense facade.  Chuckling, he set his hand on the flustered angel's shoulder.  "I'm not here to scold you, Andrew."

Further relief washed across Andrew's face.

"You did a fine job rescuing that boy from those wolves.  To lose him would have broken his sister's heart not to mention those of his parents."  Sam smiled at the two children Andrew had been watching over.

"Thank you."  His blonde hair fell across his face as he bowed his head and smiled.  "But..."


Andrew again dragged his hand through his hair.  Then he squared his shoulders and looked Sam directly in the eyes.  "I... well, I am always grateful to do the Father's work.  Always, sir.  I love saving people.  I love guiding them out of dangerous woods, pulling them from raging rivers, but then... then I move on.  I never really get a chance to know them... a chance to learn much about them.  They're amazing and interesting and... I love them, Sam.  Do you think maybe someday I could be..."  The angel's voice dropped, taking on a reverent tone.  "A caseworker?  If you do, do you think you could give me some guidance?  Maybe some things I could be doing now to prepare for when... I mean if... the Father should decide..."

Sam's smile lit up his entire face.  "You think you'd enjoy caseworking, Andrew?"

Eyes growing wide, the angel nodded profusely.  "I know I would, Sam.  To have a chance to really help humans... not just save them from danger but to help them in their daily lives... to tell them about God's love..."  He peered longingly in the direction of the village.  "Sam, what's it like?"

"How would you like to find out together?" Sam asked, his eyes twinkling.

Andrew blinked and stared at his fellow angel, afraid to hope that he was saying what he seemed to be saying.

"Andrew, the Father has asked me to supervise you as you begin to serve Him as a caseworker," Sam clarified.  "Would that be something you..."

Instead of answering, Andrew dropped to his knees.  "Thank You, Father...  Thank You," he murmured.  "I promise you I'll always do my best for You and for them.  I'll always strive to love them as You love them.  I love You.  Thank You!"

Sam looked down at the angel as he said his prayer of thanksgiving.  He was surprised to feel a tear splash down his cheek.  He'd told many angels about their promotions and seen reactions running the gamut from shock to hesitancy to celebratory but this... this was something.  Well he knew Andrew would face heartache and frustration down the road.  He suspected he knew as much, too.  After all, angels talked amongst themselves.  But Andrew was merely grateful.  Sam was confident he'd enjoy his own time supervising this one.

His prayer finished, Andrew stood and hugged Sam.  "Thank you.  Thank you for taking me on as your protege!"

"You're very welcome, Andrew."  Sam smiled at the angel.  For a brief moment he recalled a time very, very long ago.  He had witnessed Andrew's creation.  He could still remember the Father saying to him "You're going to really love this one, Sam.  I've got plans for the two of you."  Sam was ready to see those plans unfold.

"So when do we start?" Andrew asked eagerly.

Touched and amused by his charge's buoyant attitude, Sam felt excitement in his own heart.  "Now, Andrew.  Just in the village over.  You're going to be working as an apprentice to an artist and..."


"And he worked that assignment with much love and wisdom.  And the next and the next after that..."  Sam glanced with pride at the drawing.  "Sometimes I barely felt like I was supervising Andrew.  The only challenge I ever had with him was an overly self-critical streak."  The supervisor's face settled into a rueful smile. 

JenniAnn frowned.  She was all too familiar with that streak.

"And the occasional burst of pride that masked..."

"Sam?  Laja?" 

The two looked up to see a confused Andrew, his white suit crumpled, framed by the kitchen entry.  A yawning Lulu was at his heels. 

On meeting JenniAnn's gaze, Andrew remembered their planned meeting.  His eye brows arched and he yanked out his pocket watch, glancing at its face then back at the woman.  "I'm so sorry!"  He slumped into a third chair at the table and rested his head in his hands.  "When I got back I was only going to change but then I saw Lulu asleep on the couch and I thought I'd lay down with her for just a minute but I must have...  I can't believe I fell asleep when I was supposed to meet you, Laja!  I'm sorry."

JenniAnn and Sam looked at each other with pointed glances.  The former squeezed his hand and shook her head.  "It's all right!  Besides, I suppose Sam and I are both guilty of breaking and entering so... well, actually just entering... your front door was completely open."

Andrew grimaced.  "I just wanted to let some air into the main hall and since I only meant to be here for a few minutes..."

"Well, in any case, we've been stealing your sweet tea so let's just call it even," JenniAnn reasoned.
  "So are you feeling all right?  It's not like you to crash in the middle of the day."

Andrew noticed the drawing on the table then.  His eye brow arched.  "Beverage theft and telling tales behind my back?"

"Guilty as charged," Sam confessed.

"Ah."  The angel of death glanced at the drawing.  "I needed a haircut.  It's nearly as long as yours, Laja."

JenniAnn poured him a glass of tea.  "I rather like it, actually.  And nice try on changing the subject.  Are you feeling all right?" she repeated.

The angel of death nodded.  "Yeah.  I guess I was just a little tired.  Last night was Violeta's first...  See, the Father's only been having her go with me on the easier assignments.  But last night was her first one that involved murder and she..."  He shook his head.

JenniAnn felt tears pricking her eyes when Sam set a hand on Andrew's arm.  The gesture very obviously comforted Andrew but it consoled her, too.  Someone was watching over Andrew.  God, of course.  Always God.  But Sam, too.  The bonds between trainee and supervisor were apparently never broken... not after centuries, not by promotions, not by maturity. 

"She's really struggling," Andrew continued.  "The Father's given her a few days back in Records before she's with me again."

"That doesn't mean you failed Violeta, Andrew," Sam assured.  "It only means she needs a little extra time to come to terms with what she's witnessed.    And when she's ready to come back, there's no one better to continue helping her and guiding her."

The angel of death smiled.  "You think so?"

Sam looked proudly at him.  "I know so." 

"And I'd like to second it and I think Lulu would third it if her vocal cords allowed," JenniAnn added.

Andrew laughed.  "Thank you.  Well, I guess I'll go make myself presentable and then how about we go take that walk?  A little sunshine would do me good."

JenniAnn beamed.  "Sure."

"Sam, you want to come along?"

Sam nodded.  "I could do with a little sunshine myself."

"Great!"  With a smile for each of his friends, Andrew turned and headed upstairs.

Left alone with Sam again, JenniAnn found herself studying him.

"Yes?" the angel prodded after a few moments.

JenniAnn startled to attention.  "I guess I was just wondering...  None of this ever seemed to strike you as odd.  Monica and Tess took a bit of time to come to terms with Andrew spending time here.  Adam was game from the beginning.  Henry, too.  Although they both seemed as if they didn't quite believe it.  But you... I can remember when you first visited.  You weren't surprised that people would want to lavish so much attention on Andrew.  You never seemed, well, weirded out."

"JenniAnn, I was with Andrew in the time between his two biggest promotions.  I stood there with him as he looked down at that village on the day he met me.  I saw the longing in his eyes and in his heart to spend time among you.  Centuries later I saw him cry when President Lincoln was killed and he thought he'd failed all of you.  I've seen your fellow humans break his heart and shake his confidence.  And then, on that day I first visited all of you here, I saw this band of humans come together... for him.  And I was happy... for Andrew, for all of you.  There was a moment when I looked across the lawn and I saw Andrew talking to a couple of you girls.  I don't know what you were discussing but he looked... to borrow your word... dreamy.  I can't feel 'weirded out' by a situation that gave me a glimpse once again of that boy on the rock."

"And I... I just wanted to know that someone from his side... an angel... was watching out for that boy.  And you have been." 

"I have been," Sam avowed.

JenniAnn sighed.  "I'm so glad.  I love him..."

"I know.  I love him, too.  And the Father loves him best of all and no matter what the future brings... from one promotion to the next... He's going to see to it that Andrew has all the support he needs."

"Yep.  God's good like that."

"Sure is!"

JenniAnn and Sam turned to see a grinning Andrew leaning against the door jamb.

"And I love you both, too," he added, his smile becoming gentler.  "And I feel very, very supported."

JenniAnn approached the angel and hugged him.  "Good.  Sam told me about when you became a caseworker.  And, of course, I know about when you became an AOD.  You were so hopeful... so happy with both.  If you could go back... knowing all you do... would you..."

Andrew nodded.  "Yes.  No matter how many times I went back, no matter how many times the Father offered me the promotions... yes.  All the sad things that have happened... all the times I've been frustrated or angry or worn out... they're vastly outnumbered by all the times of joy, by all the love I've seen, by all the love I've felt.  And they've all brought me to this moment...  standing here with two great friends and the best dog ever... and knowing that tomorrow I'm going to be celebrating with so many more friends.  God *is* good.  Now, come on!  Let's go enjoy this day He's given us!"  With that, Andrew and Lulu led his friends into the sunlight.

Andrew's optimistic demeanor and gratitude set the tone for the long walk that followed and for the picnic the next day.  At odd moments each picnic-goer found themselves reflecting on how Andrew's frustration and feeling of failure had been the beginning of 147 years of compassionate care towards those who were facing the end of their lives or were consumed with grief.  How many lives had been righted by Andrew's counsel, how many hearts had been healed by his gentleness, how many spirits had been revived by his encouragement in those 147 years... only God knew.  He rejoiced over every one and over the dedication and love of his angel.  To the Father it made perfect and complete sense that Andrew would be loved and celebrated by everyone from an angel older than the hills to the smallest of the Tunnel children to a basset hound.

For a few moments during the picnic, Andrew stepped away from the crowd and walked among the trees.  He remembered that fateful day when he'd wandered the woods looking for peace and found Sam.  As he reflected, a breeze blew through and carried with it a still, small voice.

"Well done, good and faithful servant," the much loved Voice whispered.

Andrew smiled and looked up at the sun pouring through the branches.  Then the voice was replaced by the gleeful shrieks of children starting up a game of hide-and-seek.  Andrew laughed when he heard Rose nominate him as the seeker.  Quickly, Andrew made his way back to the clearing to start the game.

As the game began, a man appeared in the hills that surrounded the Fields of Gold.  He took a seat on a rock and peered out as Andrew screwed his eyes shut and began to count while everyone else darted into hiding.  He smiled and whispered to Himself the words that Andrew was not yet meant to hear.  He would say them again... out loud... when Andrew's next promotion came to pass.

"You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things."

And He knew that Andrew would fill the role He had in store for him with the same faithfulness, compassion and love he had brought to his time in the choir, Search and Rescue, Caseworking, as an angel of death, and every task he had been given in between.  God was pleased.

The End

ETA: This newsletter is dedicated to John's ability to distract me from... well, John.  Nitwit here originally neglected to include this segment of the newsletter.  See, I finished writing the story and then wandered off to go watch Touched.  So...  John's customary dedication was originally left off because I was watching John.  Wow... just wow.  The man's got me so focused on him that when I take a break from him it's just to go spend time with another iteration of him.  Thanks, John.  :-)


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(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)