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Then it came to pass that Jesus, the Son of God, was to be born of Mary at Bethlehem. And as the glorious tidings spread through Paradise, all the angels rejoiced and their voices were lifted to herald the Miracle of Miracles, the coming of the Christ child.
The Angels and the Archangels, the Seraphim and Cherubim, the Gatekeeper, the Wingmaker, even the Halosmith put aside their usual tasks to prepare gifts for the Blessed Infant. All but the Littlest Angel. He sat down on the top-most step of the Golden Stairs and anxiously waited for inspiration.
What could he give that would be most acceptable to the Son of God? At one time, he dreamed of composing a lyric hymn of adoration. But the Littlest Angel was woefully wanting in musical talent.
Then he grew tremendously excited over writing a prayer! A prayer that would live forever in the hearts of men, because it would be the first prayer ever to be heard by the Christ Child. But the Littlest Angel was lamentably lacking in literate skill.
"What, oh what, could a small angel give that would please the Holy Infant?..." The time of the miracle was very close at hand when the Littlest Angel at last decided on his gift. Then, on that Day of Days, he proudly brought it from it's hiding place behind a cloud, and humbly, with downcast eyes, placed it before the Throne of God. It was only a small, rough, unsightly box, but inside were all those wonderful things that even a Child of God would treasure!
A small, rough, unsightly box, lying among all those other glorious gifts from all the Angels of Paradise! Gifts of such radiant splendor and breathless beauty that Heaven and all the Universe were lighted by the mere reflection of their glory! And when the Littlest Angel saw this, he suddenly knew that his gift to God's Child was irreverent, and he wished he might reclaim his shabby gift.
It was ugly and worthless. If only he could hide it away from the sight of God before it was noticed!
But it was too late! The Hand of God moved slowly over all that bright array of shining gifts, then paused, then dropped, then came to rest - on the lowly gift of the Littlest Angel! The Littlest Angel trembled as the box was opened, and there, before the Eyes of God and all His Heavenly Hosts was what he offered to the Christ Child.
And what was his gift to the Blessed Infant? Well, there was a butterfly with golden wings, captured one bright summer day on the high hills above Jerusalem, and a sky blue egg from a bird's nest in the olive tree that shaded his mother's kitchen door. Yes, and two white stones, found on a muddy river bank, where he and his friends had played and, at the bottom of the box a limp, tooth-marked leather strap once worn as a collar by his mongrel dog, who had died as he had lived, in absolute love and infinite devotion.
The Littlest Angel wept hot and bitter tears, for he knew that instead of honoring the Son of God he had been most blasphemous. Why had he ever thought that the box was so wonderful? Why had he ever dreamed that such utterly useless things would be loved by the Blessed Infant?
In frantic terror, he turned to run and hide from the Divine Wrath of the Heavenly Father. But suddenly he stumbled and fell, and with a horrified wail and clatter of halo, he rolled in a ball of consummate misery to the very foot of the Heavenly Throne!
There was ominous and dreadful silence in the Celestial City, a silence complete and undisturbed save for the heartbreaking sobbing of the Littlest Angel. Then suddenly The Voice of God, like divine music, rose and swelled through Paradise! And the Voice spoke, saying:
"Of all the gifts of all the angels, I find that this small box pleases me most. It's contents are of the Earth and of men, and My Son is born to be King of both. These are the things that my Son, too, will know and love and cherish and then, regretfully will leave behind Him when His task is done.
"I accept this gift in the Name of the Child, Jesus, born of Mary this night in Bethlehem."
There was a breathless pause, and then the rough, unsightly box of the Littlest Angel began to glow with a bright, unearthly light, then the light became a lustrous flame, and the flame became a radiant brilliance that blinded the eyes of all the angels!
None but the Littlest Angel saw it rise from it's place before the Throne of God. And he, and only he, watched it arch the firmament to stand and shed it's clear, white, beckoning light over a Stable where a Child was born.
There is shown on that Night of Miracles, and it's light was reflected down the centuries deep in the heart of all mankind. Yet earthly eyes, blinded, too, by it's splendor, could never know that the lowly gift of the Littlest Angel was what all men would call forever:
Location: I don't know but wherever I am, I'VE GOTTA CUT BACK ON THE CAFFIENE!!!!!
I KNOW WHO I AM
I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil 3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:1
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor 1:21-22 )
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28 )
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16 )
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12 )
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16). I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).. I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1). I am God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected. (Phil. 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven ( Col 1:14). I have been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God
Do you know
Who you are?
Keep this bell ringing...pass it on
'The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you;
The LORD turn His face toward you
And give you peace...
ďDo all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.Ē
- John Wesley ]
No Matter How Hard your Situation, Try to Always remember that someone out there is always having a harder go of it than you!
Originally sent by Jim and Sally Reed - Tyler, Texas
Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations -- extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.
My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant."
I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there would be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.
Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.
So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.
Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment - songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.
So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title. Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row-center stage -- held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."
The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down -- totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W."
The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W." Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.
A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.
In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.
For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:
"C H R I S T W A S L O V E"
And, I believe, He still is.
Amazed in His presence...
Humbled by His love.
May each of you have a Merry Christmas as you reflect on His Amazing Love for us. Hope you all have a wonderful Christwaslove holiday season.
Location: I don't know but wherever I am, I'VE GOTTA CUT BACK ON THE CAFFIENE!!!!!
I was talking to Caterina on the phone yesterday and I had mentioned to her about this song from Sonya Isaacs called THE BATTLEFIELD. In a documentary she did, she talked about the meaning of this song. And basically she stated that it is about her before she was saved and after she was saved and how many people shyed away from her because of her new found belief and that the greed of people for money etc. are more important than God but she would rather have Jesus than all of that. And that the chorus statement "I'M GONNA DIE ON THE BATTLEFIELD" means to her that through your walk in faith with Christ, you have bullets from the enemy (Satan) constanly slung in your direction and some people step out of their Faith to avoid them, but that she will not and therefor will die on the battlefield for Christ. She said you know God has a plan, and sometimes his plan is to allow the bullets to get close enough to you to get your attention but not to hit you and other times they hit and wound you or they hit and take you. It is always his plan and if you dodge a bullet then that is his plan but if you dont that it is OK too because that is his plan also. So I apologize in advance for the video link as it does not represent what her interpretation of the song was meant to say but it was the only link that I could find so that you all could hear it. I have also posted the lyrics for you as well. I hope you all enjoy it and that it brings you much comfort as it does to me!
Location: I don't know but wherever I am, I'VE GOTTA CUT BACK ON THE CAFFIENE!!!!!
Another Song that helps me through alot is the song by Aaron & Jeffrey titled "HEAL ME". I was not able to find a link for you to hear it but I was able to get the lyrics. But if any of you have the chance to find it and listen to it online--it is one of the most beautiful and uplifting songs I believe I have ever heard!!!
"HEAL ME"--By Aaraon & Jeffrey
It's another good-to-see-you Sunday morning
Oh, I hardly hear the words roll off my tongue
Looking in myself for signs of something
That's long gone
Oh, I stumble through a verse that says You love me
As the voices echo my thoughts drift away
And I close my eyes ashamed I'm feelin' nothing
Heal these eyes
Heal this heart
Heal my mind
Breathe Your breath of life
Wake my soul
From this sleep
Give me back the joy
Of when I first believed
Oh, I lose myself to one more day's indifference
When my eyes are everywhere but fixed on You
I don't have the strength to overcome this distance
But You do
I don't wanna waste another minute
Takin' all Your love for granted
I just wanna feel Your Holy Spirit
Rushing over me
No Matter How Hard your Situation, Try to Always remember that someone out there is always having a harder go of it than you!
A MountainWings Moment
Wings Over The Mountains of Life
The Child's Ant
God had been trying to get my attention for some months, but I
was too deep in debt to hear Him. However, it took just one
divinely orchestrated incident to put everything in
I had woken up early to prepare my two little daughters for
school. As I tried to put the older one in the bathtub, she saw
an ant right there. You would have thought she saw a viper.
All my entreaties to her to put down her feet were ignored: her
greatest problem at that point was an ant. To her, an ant was a
big deal, but it wasn't to me. I could easily take care of an
ant any day. Then I got impatient with her for fearing an ant.
At that point, I had a MountainWings Moment! It was as if I
heard an audible voice: "Is that not what you have been doing
to me all these past months?"
What? You mean all the debts I thought were big enough to crush
me were like that ant to God? I had to apologize for having a
low impression of God.
Today, a few months later, all the debts are gone.
My fav lifter is Elvis' How Great Thou Art. The power he put into that song just sends shivers down my spine. No matter how many times I listen to it, it always gives me a lift when I need it. Also, just a smile or a hi from a friend, whether it be a coworker or online friend can make my day. I love logging on to Splitcoaststampers and seeing all the neat new stuff you guys have done while I'm working the night away. It gives me "food for thought" and I can't wait to get home and play with my stamps & inis & papers...........thanks guys.
A true story points to a universal truth about human beings: we learn best by watching how others behave.
President Calvin Coolidge once invited friends from his hometown to dine with him at the White House. Unsure of their table manners, the guests decided to imitate the president. They watched closely to see which utensils he used, what foods he ate and when.
Their strategy seemed to succeed until coffee was served. Coolidge poured some coffee into his saucer. They did the same. He added sugar and cream. His guests did, too. Then the president bent over and put his saucer on the floor for the cat!
Like Coolidge's hometown guests, we, too, seem to learn best by imitation. Kids learn by observing parents when they are young, and by copying their peers as they grow older. In fact, parents should probably be less concerned about whether their children are paying attention to them and more worried about the fact that their kids are ALWAYS watching.
They tell us that adults learn in much the same way. If you're struggling with your computer or want to learn to drive a car, you will be more successful if you have someone show you how to do it. You can always read the operator's manual and try to figure everything out yourself, but you will learn best by watching others and asking questions.
What if you want to become more self confident, to organize your life, to be a better parent or to get along better with others? Again, we're told that the best way to learn these skills and attitudes is to find somebody who already is confident, or who is an effective parent or who has healthy attitudes and then mimic the traits you want to adopt. It is the easiest and quickest way to shape your life.
Just about ANY personality trait or skill can be learned: simply find it in someone you know and copy it. Then watch what happens.
The small Canadian Hemlock shook her lacy branches in the wind, like a little girl swinging her petticoats.
Like a small child, I had become alive with hope. We stood there, in the windy Christmas tree lot, and each of us was filled with the joy of Christmas. There was no way that we would say "no" to the small Canadian wonder. For she was beautiful. The perfect tree.
Due to my deteriorating asthma Christmas had become a struggle for me. But this year was different. Due to the wonders of modern medicine, we were looking for our first real Christmas tree in years. And she was extra special, because she was a living tree. Costly though it was, we paid the man, and we considered it a bargain.
We made a promise to our living tree. We would take care of her, and we would keep her alive until spring. Then we would plant her in a special place in our garden. Our first hurdle was finding a pot to put her in. We settled on a laundry tub. After we bumped the tree ball up the stairs and negotiated the heavy weight of the root ball into the shiny tub, we filled the tub with water, just like a potted plant.
Oblivious to the combination of moisture and electricity, we had our tree lighted in no time. Standing back, in the living room, now darkened except for the lights of the tree, was a breathless, magical moment. Tears rolled down my cheeks, as I thanked God, for giving me back my Christmas.
We went a little wild, carefully placing every childhood token, every home-made gift, and every bauble and bead, that we had packed so long ago, only to be forgotten. But not this Christmas. Our little living tree became filled with a lifetime of love and sharing.
Christmas came and went, all too fast. We carefully removed each ornament, the lights, and the garland. Tenderly, we moved our potted tree down into the chilled basement, right in front of the patio door. I would frequently slip downstairs and visit the little tree. Then standing before her, I would whisper, "Stay alive, little tree. Please stay alive. I need you to live."
From January until early spring I made sure that our tree's root ball never dried out. She even seemed to flourish. Then the needles began to drop. Hastily, my husband dug a huge hole in our back yard. Into the ground, with a mixture of perfect soil, went our little tree, along with all of my hopes and dreams.
Was it too late? Was she dead? Would, by some miracle, she grow?
The spring weather was raw and I could not visit her often. Each day, with more and more branches devoid of needles, our hopes flagged. We agreed that we would give her until fall. If no new growth appeared, our little tree would be pulled from the ground. My heart was heavy, as I approached my own retirement. Perhaps I was like that little tree. Maybe I was finished. I felt like all the hope had been sucked out of me, too.
The summer skies opened with life giving rain. After three years of drought, there was a new day for our gardens and our little tree. Perhaps by some miracle our Canadian princess would find life again. I must confess that I talked to God every day. Like a small child, placing my hand into the sheltering hand of my Father, I begged Him for that little tree. One day, my husband and daughter shouted at me.
"Come outside!" they called. Hastily, I covered my mouth to protect my lungs from the raw spring wind, and I hurried into the back yard.
"Look at the tree! Look at the tree! It's growing buds!"
Hardly daring to hope, I journeyed over to the garden, and I searched, as my daughter gently guided my eyes to the tips of each tiny branch. There they were! Tiny growth buds, tender and green. Tears dripped from my eyes, as I thanked God for this wonderful gift. We hadn't killed her after all.
Now, as I await the first winter snows, our Canadian Hemlock is thriving. It seems like a miracle, which I too have shared, for I am gardening again. Along with our little tree (which now is thick with healthy needles) I too have experienced a rebirth. Just as she was dormant, so was I.
I had given up. I, too, thought that my growing days were gone.
Well, a new day has dawned, and my little tree and I are spreading our branches together.
Santa was very disappointed in the letters he received
until one little boy of four touched his heart.
Santa had no desire to get out of his soft comfy bed.
He had no interest in Christmas or the letters that he read.
They all seemed so selfish and colder than any time before.
He was hoping that generosity would take over and really soar.
But as he read his daily mail, not one was genuinely giving.
It was I want, I desire, I need, I require, nothing about living.
Until he opened one he had never seen before.
He couldnít believe what he read, from a little boy of four.
I am just little and Iíve been a good boy this year,
I have a very brave daddy who hasnít been here.
Heís in the war Santa and heís been gone awhile.
I miss my Daddy Santa and the way he made me smile.
I made a card for him and put it in this letter.
I didnít want it to get lost, so I thought this was better.
All I want for Christmas Santa is for you to deliver this.
So my Daddy wonít feel alone and heíll know he is missed.
Santa held the tearstained letter tightly in his fist.
Iíve got to read this letter; Iíve got to know the gist.
So Santa opened up the letter and put his glasses on.
And read the letter to a lucky father from his loving son.
I love you daddy more and more each day.
And I remember you every night when I kneel to pray.
I wanted you to know Daddy, Iím being very good.
I donít do things Iím not supposed to even if I could.
Mommy cries a lot Daddy, I think she misses you.
She tries not letting me see her tears, but Iíve seen quite a few.
If I was really big Daddy, Iíd come and bring you home.
Or Iíd stay and fight for you so Mommy wouldnít be alone.
Weíre going on a new adventure and weíll be living in our car.
So weíll be closer to schools and church, we wonít have to go so far.
Weíre even going to take our daily showers at the new YMCA.
Doesnít that sound fun Daddy, itís where you & I would play?
Thatís all I have to say now Daddy, except I love you so.
You are my Hero & Iím your buddy, but I wish you didnít go.
Santa filled his sleigh & decided there would be Christmas after all.
And we can thank that little boy, who made Santa feel so small.
~ Bonnie May ~
All Rights Reserved
Bonnie was born in Shamokin, Pennsylvania in 1945. Poetry has been her passion for 50 years and she has had many of her poems published. She wrote a children's story as a senior in high school, that was later published as: "The Tale of a Rabbit's Tail." Since then she has published: "Grandpa, When Animals Die, Do They Go to Heaven," children's book and two poetry books, "My Heart Wants to Tell You" and "MY HEART WANTS TO TALK! TALK! TALK!." These books can be purchased through http://www.Lulu.com.
Everyday is a blessing, and in each moment there are many things that we can be grateful for. The world opens up to us when we live in a attitude of gratitude. In essence, gratitude has a snowball effect. When we are appreciative and express that gratitude, the universe glows a bit brighter and God showers us with even more blessings.
There is always something to be grateful for, even when life seems hard. When times are tough, whether we are having a bad day or stuck in what may feel like an endless rut, it can be difficult to take the time to feel grateful. Yet, that is when gratitude can be most important. If we can look at our lives, during periods of challenge, and find something to be grateful for, then we can transform our realities in an instant.
There are blessings to be found everywhere. When we are focusing on what is negative, our abundance can be easy to miss. Instead, choosing to find what already exists in our lives that we can appreciate can change what we see in our world. We start to notice one blessing, and then another.
When we constantly choose to be grateful, we notice that every breath is a miracle and each smile becomes a gift. We begin to understand that difficulties are also invaluable lessons. The sun is always shining for us when we are grateful, even if it is hidden behind clouds on a rainy day. A simple sandwich becomes a feast, and a trinket is transformed into a treasure.
Living in a state of gratitude allows us to spread our abundance because we emanate that grateful energy from our beings. Even if the world does not reflect back to us what we embody, the additional blessings that inevitably flow our way will give us even more to be grateful for. God wants to shower us with blessings. The more we appreciate life, the more the Giver of Life bestows us with more goodness.
Sorry, this is too long and had to be posted in two parts but well worth the read.
A Christmas Story Part I
Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.
It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.
After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard.
"Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight."
I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.
Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.
After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something.
"Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?"
ďYou been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked.
The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what?
Yeah," I said, "Why?"
"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt."
That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.
"What's in the little sack?" I asked.
ďShoes, they're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."
We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern.
We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible then, we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?"
"Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?"
Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.
"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.
"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak.
My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.
I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us.
"God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."
In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.
Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.
Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.
At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.
Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, may the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will."
Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn 't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.
For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.
Jesus is Better than Santa
Santa lives at the North Pole.
JESUS is everywhere.
Santa rides in a sleigh;
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.
Santa comes but once a year;
JESUS is an ever present help.
Santa fills your stockings with goodies;
JESUS supplies all your needs.
Santa comes down your chimney uninvited;
JESUS stands at your door and knocks.. and then enters your heart.
You have to stand in line to see Santa;
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.
Santa lets you sit on his lap;
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.
Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, What's your name?"
JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.
Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly;
JESUS has a heart full of love.
All Santa can offer is HO HO HO;
JESUS offers health, help and hope.
Santa says "You better not cry;"
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.
Santa's little helpers make toys;
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken home s and builds mansions.
Santa may make you chuckle but;
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.
While Santa puts gifts under your tree;
JESUS became our gift and died on the tree. It's obvious there is really no comparison.
We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about.
We need to put Christ back in Christmas.
Jesus is still the reason for the season.
May the Lord Bless and Watch over you and your loved ones this Christmas 2008
I got this in an email from my mother in law this morning. It was too good not to share.
There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things 'in order,' she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.
She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.
Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.
'There's one more thing,' she said excitedly.
'What's that?' came the Pastor's reply.
'This is very important,' the young woman continued. 'I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.'
The Pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.
That surprises you, doesn't it?' the young woman asked.
'Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request,' said the Pastor.
The young woman explained. 'My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep your fork.' It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming...like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!'
So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder 'What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them: 'Keep your fork, the best is yet to come.'
The Pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming.
At the funeral people were walking by the young woman's casket and they saw the cloak she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the Pastor heard the question, 'What's with the fork?' And over and over he smiled.
During his message, the Pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would
not be able to stop thinking about it either.
He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come. Friends are a very rare jewel , indeed They make you smile and encourage you to succeed . They lend an ear, they share a word of praise , and they always want to open their hearts to us.
Show your friends how much you care. Remember to always be there for them, even when you need them more. For you never know when it may be their time to 'Keep your fork.'
Cherish the time you have , and the memories you share ..
being friends with someone is not an opportunity but a sweet responsibility.
I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid.
I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous " cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.
Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus? " she snorted....
"Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for
years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and
let's go. "
"Go? Go where, Grandma? " I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun. "Where " turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars.
That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car."
Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.
I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas
shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching
that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.
I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.
Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went
out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!
I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real
warm, and he would like that.
"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly.
"It's for Bobby."
The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.
That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus " on it.
Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.
Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I
crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."
I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.
Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to
open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.
Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were -- ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.
I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.
May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care...And may you always believe in the magic.
What a wonderful story. It warms my heart to hear about these things. I am in charge of 65 residents at an assisted living facility on the night shift. I see so many of my residents receiving nothing for Christmas, even cards. I try to do cards for everyone at least. Other staff have done candy & fruit, decorated a door or made ornaments. Just because someone is elderly & has dementia doesn't mean they have forgotten the wonders of Christmas.
My mom had vascular dementia and was in a nursing home for 3 1/2 years before she passed away in 2005. It was so sad to see some of the residents who did not have any visitors. The facility was a very nice one and did their best to bring cheer and encouragement to the residents.