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Old 11-28-2011, 01:10 PM   #2601
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This story has been around but thought it was worth to share again...

This is a story written by a doctor who worked in Africa.

One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died, leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive; as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator).

We also had no special feeding facilities.

Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in.

Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates)..

'And it is our last hot water bottle!' she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa
It might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles.

They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.

'All right,' I said, 'put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts Your job is to keep the baby warm.'

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough,mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died.

During prayer time, one ten -year-old girl, Ruth , prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. 'Please, God' she prayed, 'Send us a hot water bottle today It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.'

While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, 'And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?'

As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say 'Amen?' I just did not believe that God could do this.

Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home.

Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!

Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there on the verandah was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children.. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. >From the top, I lifted out brightly-colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored.. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - that would make a batch of buns for the weekend.

Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the.....could it really be?

I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, a brand new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried.

I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could.

Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, 'If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!'

Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully-dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted!

Looking up at me, she asked, 'Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?'

'Of course,' I replied!

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator.

And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it 'that afternoon.'

'Before they call, I will answer.' (Isaiah 65:24)
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Old 11-28-2011, 01:37 PM   #2602
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Caterina, that story was beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:19 PM   #2603
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Originally Posted by fairsinger View Post
Caterina, that story was beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

You are so welcome! It is a lovely encouraging story.
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Old 11-30-2011, 05:58 PM   #2604
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Hope For Tomorrow

Enjoy the sun while you have it,
Tomorrow you may face the rain.
Take joy in the present-day pleasures
So that you can handle the pain
That comes to us all in are lifetime
As surely as day becomes night.
Understand we often have good times
That help keep our spirits bright.
So when we have serious problems
And the world seems so very gray,
Remember that things will get better
And there will be a better day.
There is always hope for tomorrow
No matter how deep the pain,
From storms that swirl all around us,
Life will surely be brighter again.

~ Mary Eileen Butera ~
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Old 11-30-2011, 09:10 PM   #2605
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Wow...........I love testimonies like that!! It's called "God's WOW factor !!! The more to praise Him for !!!
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Old 12-01-2011, 04:43 AM   #2606
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Wow...........I love testimonies like that!! It's called "God's WOW factor !!! The more to praise Him for !!!

Amen, thanks for your sweet post!
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:23 AM   #2607
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Homeward Bound

I once clipped a funny story from "Reader's Digest" submitted by Joanne Mitchell. She wrote, "My brother adopted a snake named Slinky, whose most disagreeable trait was eating live mice. Once I was pressed into going to the pet store to buy Slinky's dinner. The worst part of this wasn't choosing the juiciest-looking creatures or turning down the clerk who wanted to sell me vitamins to ensure their longevity. The hardest part was carrying the poor things out in a box bearing the words 'Thank you for giving me a home.'"

That's a little hard to take. Dinner with Slinky cannot be a mouse's idea of going home.

Another woman tells of a time when she was at home with her children and the telephone rang. In going to answer it, she tripped on a rug, reached out for something to hold on to and grabbed the telephone table. It crashed to the floor and jarred the receiver from the cradle. The table fell on top of the family dog, which leaped up barking and howling. The mother's three-year-old son, startled by this noise, broke into loud screams. The woman mumbled some colorful words and finally managed to pick up the receiver and lift it to her ear. Before she could answer, she heard her husband's voice over the phone say, "Nobody's said hello yet, but I'm positive I have the right number."

Now that sounds all-too-typical - from peace to pandemonium in about two seconds. Any of us who have raised children or even any of us who WERE children probably get it.

Families today come in all different shapes and sizes. And when peace turns into pandemonium, one may long to get away from it all, at least for a while. But the fact is, we each are born into families and we seem to have an irresistible urge to start new ones. At a deep level I believe we know that the family is just about the most important and probably the most enduring institution ever created. Regardless of what a family looks like, whether or not children are present, home is a place where our souls can finally connect with the soul of another; a place where we can, and should, feel safe, cared for and even special.

In 1688 Johannes Hofer, a Swiss medical student, coined a word to describe an illness whose symptoms include insomnia, anorexia, palpitations, stupor, and, above all, a persistent thinking of home. The word he coined was "nostalgia." There is a yearning within the human heart to return to that place where we were secure, loved and made to feel important.

Songwriter Paul Simon picks up the feeling when he sings that "every stranger's face I see reminds me that I long to be homeward bound."

If we can't be homeward bound, can we make "home" out of where we are? Home may be as much a state of being as a place. We talk about feeling at home when we feel at peace or when we feel comforted. "I am at home in this place," we might say. It's a state of well-being and solace.

If home is as much about attitude as it is about latitude, then we never need feel too far from home. That's good to know, especially during those times when we find our thoughts homeward bound. Can you make the place you are a space of peace? Can you find comfort in your surroundings and warmth in the company of friends? If so, even if you're not at the place you live, you will be at home.

~ Steve Goodier ~
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Old 12-02-2011, 12:01 PM   #2608
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Caterina- thanks for another great post!
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Old 12-03-2011, 06:34 AM   #2609
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A man leaves all kinds of footprints when he walks through life. Some you can see ... others are invisible, like the prints he leaves across other people's lives.

-- Margaret Lee Runbeck
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:38 AM   #2610
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I've Learned -

"I've learned.....That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I've learned.....That when you're in love, it shows.

I've learned..... That just one person saying to me, 'You've made my day!' makes my day.

I've learned.....That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I've learned.....That being kind is more important than being right.

I've learned..... That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

I've learned.....That I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way.

I've learned.....That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

I've learned.....That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

I've learned.....That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

I've learned.....That we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.

I've learned.....That money doesn't buy class.

I've learned.....That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

I've learned....That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be
appreciated and loved.

I've learned.....That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

I've learned.....That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

I've learned.....That love, not time, heals all wounds.

I've learned.....That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

I've learned....That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

I've learned.....That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I've learned....That life is tough, but I'm tougher.

I've learned.....That opportunities are never lost, someone will take the ones you miss.

I've learned.....That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I've learned.....That I wish I could have told my Mother that I love her one more time before she passed away.

I've learned.....That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

I've learned.....That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I've learned..... That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you're hooked for life.

I've learned.....That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

I've learned.....That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it."
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:29 AM   #2611
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SUNDAY FUNNIES....

Three pastors met and were talking over conditions at their churches. The
first pastor said, "You know, since summer started, I've been having
trouble with mice in my church. I've tried everything - noise, cats, spray
- nothing seems to scare them away."
The second pastor said, "Yeah, my church too. There are hundreds of them
living in the church basement. I've set traps and even called in an expert
exterminator. Nothing has worked so far."
The third pastor said, "I've had the same problem. So I baptized all mine
and made them members of the church. Haven't seen one of them since!


**********************************

Mildred, the church gossip and self-appointed arbiter of the church's
morals, kept sticking her nose into other people's business. Several
residents were unappreciative of her activities, but feared her enough to
maintain their silence. She made a mistake, however, when she accused
George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his pickup truck
parked in front of the town's only bar one afternoon. She commented to
George and others that everyone seeing it there would know what he was
doing. George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just
walked away. He didn't explain, defend, or deny, he said nothing. Later
that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred's house
...............




. . . .and left it there all night

***********************************

Sitting on the side of the highway waiting to catch speeding drivers,
a police officer sees a car puttering along at 22 mph.

He says to himself: "This driver is just as dangerous as a speeder!"

So he turns on his lights and pulls the driver over.

Approaching the car, he notices that there are five old ladies, two in the front seat and three in the back...wide eyed and white as ghosts.

The driver, obviously confused, says to him "Officer, I don't understand, I was
doing exactly the speed limit! What seems to be the problem?"

"Ma'am," the officer replies, "you weren't speeding, but you should know that
driving slower than the speed limit can also be a danger to other drivers."

"Slower than the speed limit? No sir, I was doing the speed limit exactly...Twenty-two miles an hour!" ....the old woman says a bit proudly.

The police officer, trying to contain a chuckle explains to her that 22 is the highway number, not the speed limit.

A bit embarrassed, the woman grins and thanks the officer for pointing out her error.

"But before I let you go, Ma'am, I have to ask...Is everyone in this car OK? These women seem awfully shaken, and they haven't made a peep this whole time," the officer asks.

"Oh, they'll be all right in a minute, officer. We just got off Highway 109."

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Old 12-04-2011, 01:17 PM   #2612
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Thanks for giving me and the hubby a good laugh. :>)
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Have a creative, happy day!! :>)
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:15 PM   #2613
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luv Flowers View Post
Thanks for giving me and the hubby a good laugh. :>)


Glad you got a chuckle out of it!
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:41 AM   #2614
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The children in the nursery school enthusiastically recited this little verse:

"If you want a Merry Christmas,
And I'm sure you do,
Try to make a Merry Christmas,
For some other person, too!"

Isn't this the secret of happiness and enjoyment of life – at Christmas, or at any time.

The more we give of ourselves, the more we experience a sense of fulfillment.

The more we had the happiness of those around us, the happier we are and the more enjoyable are our lives.
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:45 AM   #2615
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REMEMBERING THE 70th ANNIVERSARY OF PEARL HARBOR....

70th Anniversary Of Pearl Harbor Brings Back Emotions For Veterans - YouTube

God bless the Greatest Generation.
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Old 12-07-2011, 06:23 AM   #2616
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God Bless their souls.
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Old 12-08-2011, 08:36 AM   #2617
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This is just precious.

A Kids View of the Christmas Story - YouTube
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Old 12-09-2011, 04:52 AM   #2618
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CLEANING UP THE MESS

"It is God who made the heavens and the earth… nothing is too hard for God." Jeremiah 32:17

There is a classic story about a social worker who went into the home of a
family and was quite taken back by the condition she found there. The
family did not really have a sense of neatness. Everything was filthy.
There were old newspapers on the floor and there was a mess everywhere
she looked.

She thought and she prayed. She said, "God, how can I, in a subtle way,
make them have the desire for cleanliness and better things in life which
they could have if they took the time to have it?" One day, she was at a
flower shop. She noticed this incredibly beautiful potted plant. It was
the most beautiful plant she had seen in some time. She bought it and
instead of taking it home to her own house, she took it over to the house
of that family.

She set it in the middle of the dining room table. The family started to
look at God’s beauty in that plant. They started to look at their
surroundings. They saw that the surroundings did not quite match the
beauty of the God’s plant.

They cleaned, and then they painted, and they discovered beauty again.

When you bring something beautiful of God into a chaotic environment it
can change everything at home, at the office, or even in a chaotic mind.

It does not take much of God to change everything. Like a small candle
can light the darkest room, so can one thought of God brighten a life.
God is so perfect that imperfection melts away. Even faith the size of a
grain of mustard seed can permanently change a life.

There may be times when you may seem overwhelmed by the day-to-day
problems of life. Rather than focusing on these problems, however, you
turn your attention to the power of God with you, and in your life.

You look to the beauty of God, and at the same time, release any
difficulties to God. Before you can be completely free of anxiety, you
must fully release the problem, not just give it to God and continue to
worry about it. You trust that because you have God's love and grace
helping you, you can handle any situation. God knows your needs even
before you ask, and Divine power is bringing about wonderful results even
as you pray.

As you let go of the mess of thinking and worrying about your problems,
and let God's power work in and through you, you will be free from
tension, stress, and strain.
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Old 12-10-2011, 11:11 AM   #2619
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"Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God." Philippians 4:6

TIME GETS BETTER WITH AGE

I learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing "Silent Night".
Age 5

I learned that our dog doesn't want to eat my broccoli either.
Age 7

I learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they
are doing and wave back.
Age 9

I learned that just when I get my room the way I like it, Mom makes me
clean it up again.
Age 12

I learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering
someone else up.
Age 14

I learned that although it's hard to admit it, I'm secretly glad my
parents are strict with me.
Age 15

I learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice.
Age 24

I learned that brushing my child's hair is one of life's great pleasures.
Age 26

I learned that wherever I go, the world's worst drivers have followed me there.
Age 29

I learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so
that no one will believe it.
Age 30

I learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don't know
how to show it.
Age 42

I learned that you can make some one's day by simply sending them a little note.
Age 44

I learned that the greater a person's sense of guilt, the greater his or
her need to cast blame on others.
Age 46

I learned that children and grandparents are natural allies.
Age 47

I learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life
does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
Age 48

I learned that singing "Amazing Grace" can lift my spirits for hours.
Age 49

I learned that motel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone.
Age 50

I learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these
three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
Age 51

I learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills.
Age 52

I learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss
them terribly after they die.
Age 53

I learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.
Age 58

I learned that if you want to do something positive for your children,
work to improve your marriage.
Age 61

I learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
Age 62

I learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both
hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
Age 64

I learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you
focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people,
and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.
Age 65

I learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make
the right decision.
Age 66

I learned that everyone can use a prayer.
Age 72

I learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.
Age 82

I learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People
love that human touch - holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat
on the back.
Age 90

I learned that I still have a lot to learn.
Age 92
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Old 12-11-2011, 04:51 AM   #2620
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Bottom Line Identity

Can we rest securely in the knowledge that we are cherished by a God who pursues us passionately? If we can burrow deep into that identity, we don't much need pretension, titles, acclaim, prestige or perfect Christmas gifts. We have enough.

— Advent Day-by-Day
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Old 12-11-2011, 06:04 AM   #2621
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smileyj View Post
Bottom Line Identity

Can we rest securely in the knowledge that we are cherished by a God who pursues us passionately? If we can burrow deep into that identity, we don't much need pretension, titles, acclaim, prestige or perfect Christmas gifts. We have enough.

— Advent Day-by-Day
What a very PRECIOUS truth!!

~ Rita
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Old 12-11-2011, 11:08 AM   #2622
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smileyj View Post
Bottom Line Identity

Can we rest securely in the knowledge that we are cherished by a God who pursues us passionately? If we can burrow deep into that identity, we don't much need pretension, titles, acclaim, prestige or perfect Christmas gifts. We have enough.

— Advent Day-by-Day
Joan, so very true, thanks so much for sharing!!
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:29 AM   #2623
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Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost A Cent!

1. THE GIFT OF LISTENING . . .
But you must REALLY listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.

2. THE GIFT OF AFFECTION . . .
Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

3. THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER . . .
Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, "I love to laugh with you."

4. THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE . . .
It can be a simple "Thanks for the help" note or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.

5. THE GIFT OF A COMPLIMENT . . .
A simple and sincere, "You look great in red," "You did a super job" or "That was a wonderful meal" can make someone's day.

6. THE GIFT OF A FAVOR . . .
Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.

7. THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE . . .
There are times when we want nothing better, than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.

8. THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL DISPOSITION . . .
The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone, really it's not that hard to say, Hello or Thank You.
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:51 AM   #2624
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love this. Thanks for posting and giving me something to think about!
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Old 12-14-2011, 06:00 AM   #2625
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kheila Kirwan View Post
love this. Thanks for posting and giving me something to think about!

You are so welcome! Hope you have a truly blessed day and wonderful CHRISTmas season!!
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Old 12-14-2011, 12:58 PM   #2626
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Caterina- thanks for the gentle reminder!
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Old 12-15-2011, 08:43 AM   #2627
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Please remember our brave military and all their families, especially the ones who will be missing their love one.


GOD BLESS THIS AIRLINE CAPTAIN:

He writes: My lead flight attendant came to me and said, "We have an H.R. on this flight." (H.R. stands for human remains.) "Are they military?" I asked.

'Yes', she said.

'Is there an escort?' I asked.

'Yes, I already assigned him a seat'.

'Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck? You can board him early," I said.

A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us.

'My soldier is on his way back to Virginia ,' he said. He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words.

I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers. The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the flight deck to find his seat.

We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin. 'I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is on board', she said. She then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home. The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia .

The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane.. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when she asked me if there was anything I could do. 'I'm on it, I said. I told her that I would get back to her.

Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-maillike messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio. There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with the dispatcher. I explained the situation I had on board with the family and what it was the family wanted. He said he understood and that he would get back to me.

Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family. I sent a text message asking for an update. I saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is the text:

'Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only. When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.'

I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father. The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, 'You have no idea how much this will mean to them.'

Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit. When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told that all traffic was being held for us.

'There is a team in place to meet the aircraft, we were told. It looked like it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned t he seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the copilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, 'Take your time.'

I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the public
address button and said, 'Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. His Name is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold.. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXXXX. Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.'

We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown procedures.. A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft.

When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger s lowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of "God Bless You", "I'm sorry", "thank you?" "be proud", and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one.

Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made. They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.

I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety in these United States of AMERICA .
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:55 PM   #2628
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God's Voice and Hands

We are God's messenger if we take our calling seriously. We may be the only messenger God can send to a family member, a work colleague, a hurting neighbor or a confused child.

— from Catholic Update: Advent Day-by-Day
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Old 12-16-2011, 12:20 PM   #2629
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There's a marvelous book entitled "Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting" by
Lynn Grabhorn, published by Hampton Roads.

In it she shares this Christmas story.

“Its Christmas time, pretend that you are Santa Claus at the mall, replete
with a scratchy beard and pillowed tummy. You're listening to all the wee
folk rattle off their long lists of wants, but after a while you decide to
spread around some magic dust so that kids of any age will feel the urge
to reveal some of their less socially acceptable wants.

“Up comes a little cutie-pie, about six, who hops up on to your knee. She
starts to give you her list: a few special toys as seen on TV, and a
couple of old standbys like a doll and a puppy. That's it. Nothing new.

“So you spread your magic dust and out of comes: a big swing in the
backyard, a daddy to be around more, a mommy who will take time to play,
someone – anyone – who will believe about the pretty angels in the
bedroom, and somebody to always make everything alright. Oh, and lots of
brothers and sisters, please. Then she jumps down, happy as a lark.

“Do you remember what your secret wants were at six years of age?

“Next a tall, gangling 18-year-old comes up, having fun with the
experience and quite willing to go along with the gag.

"’All right now, what would you like Santa to bring you?’ Once again, even
though the teenager is gladly entering into the spirit of this silliness,
the list is alarmingly short. ‘Well, I will take that new car you got
hidden in your sack, Santa. And I wouldn't mind a few thousand dollars in
my stocking for play money. And if you just happened to have a romance
back there in your sleigh, hey, that would be cool!’

“You sprinkle your magic, the 18-year-old relaxes, and out of comes an
amazing list of rightful wants, having to do with careers, and friends,
and success, and fame, and clothes, and living conditions, and family –
and genuine happiness – ‘whatever that is,’ he mumbles.

“Do you remember what your secret wants were at 18 years of age, and what dreams got stuffed away so that you could live in ‘the real world?’

“Finally comes the adult, gleefully hopping up on your Santa Claus knee as
the kids watch and snicker.

"’And what would you like, my friend,’ you ask expectantly. You’re
dismayed to find that this person has the shortest list of anyone so far,
as though every hope and dream ever owned just flew to the next galaxy.
Oh, there's the new house, and new car, and a flippant crack about winning
the lottery, but that's it. Quickly you sprinkle your magic dust. Nothing.
You sprinkle more. Still nothing. You empty the bag. Slowly at first, as
if having to be pulled up from the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean,
comes a comment about having a pie shop. And another about learning to
play the piano. A pause, and then another about taking a horticultural
course at a local college. And another about building a unique kind of
sailboat. This one’s on a roll now. There's another about being able to
financially help a friend open a dance school, and another about having an
automatic garage door, and another about opening a summer camp for city
kids and about having confidence to talk in front of a group of people.
There's one about improving relations with certain family members, and
learning how to be more loving, and on, and on, and on. It took a full
bag, but the dam holding back those long forgotten treasures finally
broke.

“What dreams have you put aside? Your ambitions, your forgotten goals,
even your littlest desires – what are they? WHAT ARE THEY?”

This is time to have a long talk with God and uncover again those dreams
and desires that may be covered up with the dust of the years and in so
doing, you will receive the gift of life – more abundantly than ever
before.
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Old 12-17-2011, 07:27 AM   #2630
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Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every
act creates a ripple with no logical end.

-- Scott Adams
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Old 12-18-2011, 10:05 AM   #2631
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Too funny...

I am fine......YOU BETCHA.....

Ole's car was hit by a truck in an accident. I
In court, the trucking company's lawyer was questioning Ole.

'Didn't you say, sir, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine, ?' asked the lawyer.

Ole responded, 'Vell, I'll tell you vat happened. I had yust loaded my favorite mule, Bessie, into da.....'

'I didn't ask for any details', the lawyer interrupted. 'Just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'?

Ole said, 'Vell, I had yust got Bessie into da trailer and I vas driving down da road... ..

The lawyer interrupted again and said, 'Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question.'

By this time, the Judge was fairly interested in Ole's answer and said to the lawyer, 'I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule, Bessie'.

Ole thanked the Judge and proceeded. 'Vell, as I vas saying, I had yust loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into da trailer and vas driving her down da highvay ven dis huge semi-truck and trailer ran da stop sign and smacked my truck right in da side. I vas trown into one ditch and Bessie vas thrown into da other. I vas hurting real bad and didn't vant to move.
However, I could hear Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape yust by her groans'. 'Shortly after da accident da Highway Patrolman, he came to da scene.. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he vent over to her'..

'After he looked at her and saw her fatal condition he took out his gun and shot her right 'tween da eyes.

Den da Patrolman, he came across da road, gun still smoking, looked at me and said, 'How are you feeling?'

'Now vat da heck vould YOU say?
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:42 AM   #2632
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"The walls we build around us to keep out the sadness also keep out the joy."
Jim Rohn

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes as she pushed against a
December gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a
spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor
automobile accident stole her ease. During this Christmas week, she would
have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss.

As if that weren't enough, her husband's company threatened a layoff.
Then her sister, whose annual holiday visit she coveted, called saying she
could not come. What's worse, Sandra's friend infuriated her by suggesting
her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to
empathize with others who suffer. "She has no idea what I'm feeling,"
thought Sandra with a shudder. "Christmas? Christmas for what?" she
wondered aloud.

For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended
her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

"Good afternoon, can I help you?" The shop clerk's approach startled her.

"I....I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra. "For Christmas? Do you
want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a
customer favorite I call the Christmas Special?" asked the shop clerk.
"I'm convinced that flowers tell stories," she continued. "Are you looking
for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Christmas?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything
that could go wrong has gone wrong." Sandra regretted her outburst, and
was surprised when the shop clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement
for you."

Then the door's small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, "Hi,
Barbara...let me get your order." She politely excused herself and walked
toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement
of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the
rose stems were neatly snipped...there were no flowers.

"Want this in a box?" asked the clerk.

Sandra watched for the customer's response. Was this a joke? Who would
want rose stems with no flowers!?! She waited for laughter, but neither
woman laughed. "Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile.
"You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so
moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again,"
she said as she gently tapped her chest.

"Uhh," stammered Sandra, "that lady just left with, uhh... she just left
with no flowers!

"Right... I cut off the flowers. That's the Special...I call it the
Christmas Thorns Bouquet."

"Oh, come on, you can't tell me someone is willing to pay for that?"
exclaimed Sandra.

"Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you
feel today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be
joyful about.

She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her
son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery "That same year I had
lost my husband," continued the clerk," and for the first time in my life,
I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no
family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.

"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've
always thanked God for good things in life and never thought to ask God
why those good things happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever
ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I always
enjoyed the 'flowers' of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of
God's comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're
afflicted, and from God’s consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend
had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've
lost a baby and I'm angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop. "Hey, Phil!" shouted the clerk
to the balding, rotund man.

"My wife sent me in to get our usual Christmas arrangement ...twelve
thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a
tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind me
asking why she wants something that looks like that?"

"No...I'm glad you asked," Phil replied. "Four years ago my wife and I
nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the
Lord's grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem. He
rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of
rose stems to remind us of what we learned from "thorny" times, and that
was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I
decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks to God
for what that problem taught us." As Phil paid the clerk, he said to
Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"

"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life." Sandra said
to the clerk. "It's all too... fresh."

"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that
thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more
during trouble than at any other time.”

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time, since the accident,
she loosened her grip on resentment. "I'll take those twelve long-stemmed
thorns, please," she managed to choke out.

"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in minute."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?" asked Sandra. "Nothing." said the clerk.
"Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart this Christmas. The
first year's arrangement is always on me." The clerk smiled and handed a
card to Sandra.

"I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you'd like to read it first."

It read: "Dear God, I have never thanked you for my thorns. I have thanked
you a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me
the glory of the challenges I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show
me that I have climbed closer to you along the path of my own pain, and I
feel your comfort now. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of your
rainbow look much more brilliant."
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:28 PM   #2633
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This story has been around but thought it is so uplifting to share it again.


YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW:
Good morning said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on the ground.

The man slowly looked up.

This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life.

His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before. "Leave me alone," he growled.

To his amazement, the woman continued standing.

She was smiling -- her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. "Are you hungry?" she asked.

"No," he answered sarcastically. "I've just come from dining with the president. Now go away."

The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.

"What are you doing, lady?" the man asked angrily. "I said to leave me alone.

Just then a policeman came up. "Is there any problem, ma'am?" he asked.

"No problem here, officer," the woman answered. "I'm just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?"

The officer scratched his head. "That's old Jack. He's been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?"

"See that cafeteria over there?" she asked. "I'm going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile."

"Are you crazy, lady?" the homeless man resisted. "I don't want to go in there!" Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. "Let me go, officer. I didn't do anything."
"This is a good deal for you, Jack" the officer answered. "Don't blow it."

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived.

The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table. "What's going on here, officer?" he asked. "What is all this, is this man in trouble?"

"This lady brought this man in here to be fed," the policeman answered.

"Not in here!" the manager replied angrily. "Having a person like that here is bad for business."

Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. "See, lady. I told you so. Now if you'll let me go. I didn't want to come here in the first place."

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. "Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?"

"Of course I am," the manager answered impatiently. "They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms."

"And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?"

"What business is that of yours?"

I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company."

"Oh."

The woman smiled again. "I thought that might make a difference." She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. "Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?"

"No thanks, ma'am," the officer replied. "I'm on duty."

"Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?"

"Yes ma'am, that would be very nice."

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel, "I'll get your coffee for you right away, officer."

The officer watched him walk away. "You certainly put him in his place," he said.

"That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this."

She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently."Jack, do you remember me?"

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. "I think so -- I mean you do look familiar."

"I'm a little older perhaps," she said. "Maybe I've even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry."

"Ma'am?" the officer said questioningly. He couldn't believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

"I was just out of college," the woman began. "I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat."

Jack lit up with a smile. "Now I remember," he said.. "I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy."

"I know," the woman continued. "Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble... Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right."

"So you started your own business?" Old Jack said.

"I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered." She opened her purse and pulled out a business card.. "When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons...He's the personnel director of my company. I'll go talk to him now and I'm certain he'll find something for you to do around the office." She smiled. "I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet... If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you."

There were tears in the old man's eyes. "How can I ever thank you?" he said.
"Don't thank me," the woman answered. "To God goes the glory. Thank God...... He led me to you."

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways.

"Thank you for all your help, officer," she said.

"On the contrary, Ms. Eddy," he answered. "Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And thank you for the coffee."

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Old 12-21-2011, 06:26 AM   #2634
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Today I'd like to share with you a story that originally appeared in Woman's Day Magazine almost 30 years ago (1982), but the message is needed more today than ever. It was written by Nancy W. Gavin.


It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas – oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it-overspending...the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma – the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears.

It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them."

Mike loved kids-all kids-and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came.

That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me.

His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.

For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal it's contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there.

You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.

The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope. Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

May we all remember each other, and the Real reason for the season, and God's true Spirit this year and always.
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:33 AM   #2635
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Santa Claus and Grandma

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 of Santa Claus!
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:40 AM   #2636
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Caterina- Thanks! I believe that Christmas is for giving.
Merry CHRISTMAS!
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:54 AM   #2637
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Christmas Inspiration

Isaiah 9:6 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

"W-w-w-hat is this?''

As he tore open the brightly colored paper, the boy's heart dropped. It was flat, so it wasn't a baseball or a glove.

He ran his fingers across the blue vinyl cover, touched the white sheets of paper, slowly bit his lip to keep from crying. This wasn't a Christmas present, it was a school supply. It was a binder filled with blank pages. The boy looked angrily over at the balding man wearing a weary smile and a stray piece of tinsel on his shoulder.

"I-I-I can't play with this," the boy said.

"Yes, you can," the father said.

The awkward, stammering eighth-grader slapped Jackson 5 and "Gilligan's Island" stickers on the binder to at least make it look cool, then tucked it into the bottom drawer next to his plaid shorts and forgot all about it. The next time he saw it was March, three months later, as he headed out to watch a sandlot baseball game.

He had earlier announced to his family that when he grew up, he was going be a sportswriter, using the universal language of bats and balls to connect to a world he couldn't easily touch. On this day, he had finally worked up the courage to practice covering a game.

"Wait," said his father, emerging from the boy's bedroom, holding that dusty blue binder covered in stickers. "If you're going to be a sportswriter, you have to have a notebook."

"Oh y-y-yeah," the boy said. "My n-n-notebook."

And so he toted that binder to the baseball game, to a high school track meet the next day, somewhere new every weekend, wiping the dust off his giant glasses and pulling chewed pencils out of his wrinkled shirt pocket
and filling that binder, reveling in words that worked, shouting in a voice that didn't stammer, adding exclamation points for the drama, Bobby Kleinart hit the heck out of that baseball for a home run off the concession stands for Westport Chevron, boxes of Good N'Plenty went flying, what a play!

Soon the white pages became full, and so more pages were carefully added, more baseballs clearing the fence, more snacks falling out of the sky, words written by a nobody for nobody, words meaning everything, the binder
and the boy growing together. "W-w-what is this?"

The gift sat in the basement, unwrapped, shiny and cluttered and weird. It was an electric typewriter given to a ninth-grader who had no idea how to use it. This wasn't a Christmas present, it was a third-period class.

"I-I-I can't type," the boy said.

"But I can," his mother said. "Bring me your binder."

Its stickers had worn down into bits of shiny strips, and its vinyl was cracked and frayed, but the binder's pages still exhaled the cluttered breath of scribbled observations — the Ballard High cross-country team is one tough cookie! His mother opened to his most recent story, turned a switch, started a strange whir, and began pecking.

"W-w-what are you doing?" the boy said.

"Don't you want this in that newspaper?" the mother said.

Oh yeah. That newspaper. It was a neighborhood weekly that needed stories to fill the space between school announcements and mortuary ads. A month earlier, the boy visited their storefront offices, opening his binder, showing the balding old boss his stories, watching him slowly shake his head.

"Your handwriting is terrible," the boss said. "Did you know that newspapers use typewriters?"

He could not begin typing class until the summer, so his mother spent hours every weekend tapping his stories to life. He scribbled, and she typed, word for word, her third full-time job, sometimes falling asleep between paragraphs, but always finishing in time to say, "Great story" and "Let's go."

Then, together, in the middle of every Sunday night, the mother and the boy would ride through the darkened city to that newspaper's storefront, where the boy would slide that week's stories into a mail slot, then rush back to the car for the relieved drive home, the sportswriter and his ghostwriter.

"W-w-hat is this?"

The gift was covered in light blue tissue paper, held together with a frayed red ribbon. The young man opened it carefully, forced a smile, scratched his head. It was a scrapbook. But it was an empty scrapbook. It was two covers of ornate brown leather held together by dozens of empty pieces of gray construction paper. It was silly.

"T-t-his is great, but w-w-hat's going in it?" the young man asked.
"You," his grandmother said.

So for the next seven years, she put him there, filling the scrapbook with everything the young man wrote, for now he was an amateur sportswriter being published in any newspaper that would have him. The grandmother
carefully cut and pasted every volleyball feature, shuffleboard column and flag football game story, everything from the neighborhood weekly, the high school newspaper, and soon even from the tiny college newspaper.

She underlined phrases in her careful handwriting. She drew her own exclamation points after words with more than one syllable. The book grew fat and messy as she grew old and frail.

The young man thought she was saving stories about other people. The grandmother knew better. She knew these would wind up being stories about a young man, chronicling his increased confidence, his diminished stammer, the slow realization of his dream.

"Dad, what was your best gift ever?"

The middle-aged man is sitting with his three children around a Christmas tree. He has been a sportswriter for more than half of his life now, still chasing that dream, still thankful it is a journey he has not taken alone. He looks at his children sitting amid the shiny torn wrapping paper, the kids covered in the solitary pleasures of iPods and Uggs and software programs that do things mothers and electric typewriters could never do.

He wonders if he can ever give them what was given to him. He wonders if they will ever understand. One of them asks him again.

"Dad, what was your best gift ever?"

He looks up at a photo on the mantle. It is a 30-year-old family photograph. It contains the images of the father who still calls every other day to ask what he has in his notebook, the mother who now types him encouragement in e-mails, and the grandmother who died during his first year at one of this country's biggest newspapers.

Before passing, she insisted that he stay on the job and skip her funeral. She insisted he write one more story for that scrapbook.

"Daaad! What was your best gift! C'mon."

He points to the photo.

"They were," he said. - BILL PLASCHKE, Sportswriter LA Times
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Old 12-23-2011, 03:20 PM   #2638
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Great story! Merry Christmas! Hope you too, have special memories of family and friends.
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Old 12-24-2011, 06:22 AM   #2639
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smileyj View Post
Great story! Merry Christmas! Hope you too, have special memories of family and friends.

Thanks, Joan, right back to ya!
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Old 12-24-2011, 06:24 AM   #2640
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Christmas Eve Inspiration

Luke 2:15-16 "When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger."

Billy was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Billy
didn't wear boots; he didn't like them and anyway, he didn't own any. The
thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of
keeping out the cold. Billy had been in his backyard for about an hour,
already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his
mother's Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, "This is
useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don't have any money to
spend."

Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five
had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there
just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the
small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far.

What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made
up for in love and family unity. Billy had two older and one younger
sister, who ran the household in their mother's absence. All three of his
sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just
wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing.

Wiping a tear from his eye, Billy kicked the snow and started to walk down
to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six
without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to. Billy walked
from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window.

Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach.

It was starting to get dark and Billy reluctantly turned to walk home when
suddenly, his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting
off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny
dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Billy felt at that
moment.

As he held his new-found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire
body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly
turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn't buy anything
with only a dime.

He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner
asked if he could help him, Billy presented the dime and asked if he could
buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at
Billy and his ten-cent offering.

Then he put his hand on Billy's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait
here and I'll see what I can do for you." As Billy waited, he looked at
the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why
mothers and girls liked flowers.

The sound of the door closing as the last customer left jolted Billy back
to reality. All alone in the shop, Billy began to feel alone and afraid.
Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter.

There, before Billy's eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves
of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow.
Billy's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into
a long white box.

"That will be ten cents young man," the shop owner said reaching out his
hand for the dime. Slowly, Billy moved his hand to give the man his dime.
Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime!

Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to
have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?"

This time Billy did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box
into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner
was holding for Billy, he heard the shopkeeper say, "Merry Christmas,
son."

As the shopkeeper returned inside, the shopkeeper's wife walked out. "Who
were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?"

Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he
replied, "A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting
up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set
aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the
time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside, anyway.

Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to
buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.

"When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I, too, was a poor
boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I
never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars. "When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice
was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses." The shop owner and
his wife hugged each other, tightly, and as they stepped out into the
bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at all.

May this story instill the spirit of CHRISTmas in you.
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