Friday, December 31, 2010

What is a Saint?

Well, it's New Year's Eve, and my youngest daughter just headed back to college. This is a wonderful thing, but hard on a Mother's heart! She was so excited to get back to school, to see her family (there) and friends!  It's exactly where she needs to be but... I will miss her a lot, we all will!  She is an amazing young lady, and she loves her family, and is a big help to everyone around her. Yes, she will be missed.
I won't write more because I know I am going to either start crying, or start whining to you more, so I will spare us both. Happy New Year dear friends! I hope you enjoy this last Christmas story about Nicholas, a real saint ( which in the dictionary means...a follower of Christ). I hope we can be more like St. Nicholas every day of this new year! If we would, just think what a happier world we would live in? So, let's try and change things for the better, shall we? Good night!

This is the story of the real Santa Claus, St. Nicholas.
To this day people say that St. Nicholas, or Santa, is the special friend of children.

This is the story of the real Santa Claus, St. Nicholas.
To this day people say that St. Nicholas, or Santa, is the special friend of children.

The real Santa lived a long time ago in a place called Asia Minor. It is now the country of Turkey. His name was Nicholas.
Nicholas' parents died when he was just a teenager. His parents left him a lot of money which made him a rich young man. He went to live with his uncle who was a priest.
Nicholas heard about a man who had lost all his money. He had three daughters who were old enough to get married. But in those days young women had to have money in order to get married. This money was a "dowry" and it was used to help the new family get started. If you didn't have dowry money, you didn't get married.
This family was so poor they had nothing left to eat. The daughters were going to be sold as slaves because they couldn't live at home any longer. They were very sad. They wouldn't be able to have families of their own. And they would have to be slaves—no longer able to decide where they would live or what they would do.
The night before the oldest daughter was to be sold, she washed her stockings and put them in front of the fire to dry. Then all of them went to sleep—the father and the three daughters.
In the morning the daughter saw something lumpy in her stocking. She reached in and found a small, heavy bag. Inside was gold! Enough to provide food for the family and money for her dowry. Oh, how happy they were!
The next morning, another bag with gold was found. Imagine! Two of the daughters would now be saved. Such joy!
And the next night, the father planned to stay awake to find out who was helping his daughters. He dozed off, but heard a small "clink" as another bag landed in the room. Quickly he jumped up and ran out the door. Who did he catch ducking around the corner?
Nicholas, the young man who lived with his uncle. "Nicholas, it is you! Thank you for helping us—I hardly know what to say!" Nicholas said, "Please, do not thank me—thank God that your prayers have been answered. Do not tell others about me."
Nicholas continued helping people. He always tried to help secretly. He didn't want any attention or thanks. Years passed and he was chosen to be a bishop. Bishops look after their people as shepherds look after their sheep. And that is what Nicholas did. When there wasn't any food, he found wheat; so no one went hungry. He always helped people in trouble. All his life Nicholas showed people how to love God and care for each other.
The people loved Nicholas. After he died, they told stories of the good and kind things Nicholas had done. Sailors took these stories about Nicholas everywhere they went. Some of the stories were about his special care for children—helping and protecting them when danger threatened. And so more and more people learned about good, kind Nicholas. They wanted to be like him. He is an example of how we should live. And that is why he became a saint.

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy."  ~ Francis Pharcellus Church

"Santa Claus is anyone who loves another and seeks to make them happy; who gives himself by thought or word or deed in every gift that he bestows"  ~ Edwin Osgood Grover

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More than just a fruit cake!

For Christmas this year, a dear friend of ours gave us a loaf of her Mom and Grandmother's Favorite Spice bread! It looked like fruit bread and I think it did have some fruit in it, but it was wonderful. She told us the story of her first Christmas married, poor and away from home...how her Mom sent her this bread and that she cried when she opened it. I was honored that she shared it with us.
I thought of her when I read this Christmas story, we all need to have traditions that we pass on to each generations, it makes Christmas more special that way! Hope you enjoy it!

I never cared for the taste of fruitcake, but I’ve been saving one for years.
It’s the last of those I used to get every Christmas from Elizabeth, my friend Paul’s mom. She always cooked up what seemed like hundreds for family and friends, wrapping them in plastic, and tying them with red and green ribbons.
Fruitcakes are known to take on lives of their own, passing from one person to the next, sometimes lingering long enough to carbon-date. Cut one open, if you dare, and divine its age like you’d count the rings of some ancient tree.
Though we pretended to like them, Elizabeth never pressed us for reports on their flavor, probably sensing that many simply became souvenirs—if not albatrosses—not that it seemed to matter. Still, everybody got one, delivered with a proud smile and wrapped in love, a present from this woman who used her recipes to nourish our souls as much as our bodies.
The tradition was passed down by Elizabeth’s mom, who had learned it from her own aunt. With nobody sure how many generations back it goes, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn an early version of the recipe, scripted on papyrus and stored in an urn, has been unearthed during some distant archaeological dig.
Paul’s father lost his hearing some years back, and got to where he couldn’t see very well. Then Elizabeth’s diabetes eventually put her in a wheelchair and robbed her of sight, so Paul moved back home that fall to help care for them.
As Christmas approached, Elizabeth kept mentioning how much she wished she could hand out those fruitcakes again. Saddened by having to break the tradition, she reminisced about helping Grandma when she was a little girl. Tears welled in her eyes as she talked about her fruitcakes, admitting that eating them isn’t what matters, that it’s cooking up some love and sharing it with people who mean the most to her.
During her nap that afternoon, Paul searched through two boxes stuffed with hundreds of recipes filed in no particular order. He finally found it, flour-crusted, yellow with age, and difficult to read. He went out and bought the ingredients, then set about mixing, determined to make her a batch to give away. Paul’s not known for his culinary finesse, and most family recipes require a dollop of magic beyond what’s actually written down, so he finally had to wake her, confessing his plan and asking her to help.
They spent the rest of the afternoon making fruitcakes. She took charge, while Paul served as her eyes and hands. They didn’t need that old recipe card; Elizabeth knew this one by heart.
She glowed with pride as she handed them out, accepting kisses and thanks, hugging back with newfound strength despite her frail condition. She’d probably felt that way every year, but this marked the first time we really noticed.
Several days after Christmas, Elizabeth required hospitalization, but there was little that could be done, and she took a turn for the worse. In a stark, antiseptic room far from the familiar aromas of her kitchen, Paul lost his mother, and we all lost a friend.
Gathered at the house after the funeral, Paul and his siblings carefully copied her fruitcake recipe, all vowing to carry on the custom. Several of them did, too—for a couple of years. Busy with their own lives and still discovering their own unique ways to celebrate, they gradually let the fruitcake tradition slip away.
Some things will never leave us, though. Elizabeth’s children, like all of us she touched, will always carry on with a more important tradition: living the way she taught. Devotion to our families, integrity, loyalty, and love for each other . . . these are what I see being passed on to the next generation. These are truly Elizabeth’s recipe for life.
I still have that fruitcake somewhere, the one she and my friend made together. When I look at it, I can see her face lighting up as she presented it to me.
It is, after all, just a fruitcake. I still don’t care for the taste. And I can’t say how long I’ll manage to hang on to this odd thing, a souvenir wrapped in plastic and tied with red and green ribbons . . .
A family recipe, the reminder of those last precious moments my friend spent with his mom, a Christmas gift from the heart.

"Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone."   - Charles Schulz

"Two things upon this changing earth can neither change nor end; the splendor of Christ's humble birth, the love of friend for friend."    - Author Unknown

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This time two years ago...

   I decided to use one of my posts from two years ago, why? Well, because I am still struggling some and it brought me peace to read it again, plus it was about a book that I was reading at the time.
   I have been hurting pretty bad for almost a month now. It seems harder to take, because I was doing so good. I am amazed at how easy it is to feel down and discouraged, when you hurt this bad. It's like your  whole perspective is changed instantly, and you aren't sure how much more you can handle. I know that this won't last forever, but even these last 3 days I have had a migraine (which is coming from something being pinched in my neck), and it is hard to enjoy anything. I am a little fearful tonight that I am not going to get much better than this, I pray that's not true. So I won't type any more. I will just share this older post with you. I needed it tonight, and maybe one of you needed it too?
Good night dear friends!
FEAR NOT!    December 2008
When the kids were little, every Christmas eve we would get together with their cousins and dress up and reenact the Christmas story found in the book of Luke. I have always loved the declaration that the angel made to the shepherds before the Savior was born.

Luke 2:10-11 THE ANGEL SAID UNTO THEM, FEAR NOT: FOR, BEHOLD, I BRING YOU GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY, WHICH SHALL BE TO ALL PEOPLE, FOR UNTO YOU IS BORN THIS DAY IN THE CITY OF DAVID A SAVIOUR, WHICH IS CHRIST THE LORD.  In a book that I am reading called JESUS, THE VERY THOUGHT OF THEE by Robert Millet and Lloyd D. Newell, they remind  the reader that the theme for Savior's life was to FEAR NOT, it began the night He was born and continued through His life. He promises to save us from fear if only we would put our trust in Him. But after two thousand years, do we still fear the cost of following Christ? His message cannot comfort  us if we allow his peace to be overshadowed by our anxiety and fear. His saving message if for everyone. When we "fear not" and trust in him, we find safely, direction and peace.

Here is it the most wonderful time of the year and I am really struggling to find direction, peace and the ability to feel safe. Once you have had cancer, safe, direction and peace is a hard place to find. Almost daily you have to work on being safe about your thoughts and feelings, if you don't, your mind and thoughts can get carried away from you and before you know it you have lost the ability to LIVE IN THE MOMENT because you are too worried about the future, how long or short it will be. Cancer tries to rob you of so many things,  it is a daily effort to stay focused and FEAR NOT!  Direction...that is truly something that I need right now. I need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, exactly what I need to do to keep this cancer from returning and be as healthy as I can.

I am grateful for this time of the year that really reminds me of this theme and for that little baby in a manger who has been such a guiding force in my life.

Thanks again for being my friends!

"Whatever else be lost among the years, Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing: Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears, Let us hold close one day, remembering Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men. Let us get back our childlike faith again."  ~ Grace Noll Crowell

"We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear."  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Christmas Spirit

The story that I chose for today is... one of the stories from my new Chicken Soup for the Soul Tales & Christmas book, I received for Christmas from one of my dear friends. The story is too long to type, but I will give you the jest of the story and some of the parts that meant a lot to me.
   It was called the LESSONS FROM MY GRANDPARENTS by Beth Cato. The story started out with a mother reminding her daughter while she was home for Christmas, to please go through some of the boxes that her grandmother had set aside for her. Her grandmother was now in a nursing home, but wanted to make sure that some of her favorite things, went to her favorite people. She was surprised to see what her grandmother had passed on to her...her Christmas Santa collection.  Here is what she said about her Grandmother and Christmas. 
   "Her enthusiasm for Christmas rivaled that of any bouncy child. She grabbed Christmas gifts on sale all year long." She encouraged me to start playing traditional carols in June or July.  "Good music is good music all  year long," she said. There's no need to limit to December."
   When I was on summer break, she helped me to start making crafts to give as gifts to my uncles and cousins. More than once, she surprised me with bags of Styrofoam circles and sparkly pom poms. When my grandpa was sick and bedbound, we would sit in nearby chairs and work on little projects while Burl Ives crooned over the sound of the fans and air conditioning.
   Knowing her joy for Christmas, I always bought her Santa figurines. Despite my small allowance, I believed I was giving her something grand. As an adult, I realized the truth.
   "Some of these are outright hideous," I muttered, already sorting through them to make a donate-to-charity pile. "Why did she keep them?" I help up one porcelain Santa Claus with runny mascara and almost nonexistent legs.
   "Because you gave them to her," Mom said.
   My grandma has been widowed almost twenty years now. She needs a walker to get around. Her eyesight is too poor, her hands too shaky to do crafts. But she loves her holiday music and the sight of Santa Claus still makes her squeal. Looking back, I realized how much she and Grandpa taught me about the true spirit of the season.
Now she had gifted me with all of her beloved old Santa Clauses as she prepared for her own death. With my returns home so infrequent, I never knew if I would see her again. Every hug and kiss was precious. She knew I loved her, but beyond that, did she realize how she embodied Christmas for me?

   The story then ends with a letter to her Grandmother, thanking her for all the things that she has taught her and how she hopes to pass all those things on to her children some day. Here is the last sentence of her letter...
   "I'm proud to be your granddaughter. For me,  you'll always be the spirit of Christmas.
Love,
Beth  
 

" A grandparent is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend."   ~ Unknown

"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air."   ~ W. T. Ellis

"From Home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another. The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other."      ~Emily Matthews

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas all year long!

   I have always said that I wished Christmas could last all year long. Well, this morning I got so excited when my daughter Lauren came home from work with a car full of beautifully wrapped Christmas packages. Actually they didn't have any thing in them, but they were taking down their displays and Lauren expressed how much I would love to have them ( if they were just going to throw them anyway ), since I keep my Christmas decorations up till at least the middle of January. They just thought it was funny but not me, I was so excited. You should see the tree now, it doesn't look bare at all! The only down side was trying to explain them to my 4 year old granddaughter. She just kept saying "Nana, what's in those presents?" We went downstairs and wrapped package for Lauren's birthday and that seemed to take her mind off of it! They are just decorations! 
Two reasons why I leave Christmas up that long, first is Lauren's birthday is in January and she has always asked that we would keep them up for her party. The second reason is...no one really wants to take it all down so...I don't complain. It kind of helps me to work on my Christmas presents for next year.
   The book that some dear friends sent me this Christmas, goes right along with my theme tonight, it is called ...SNOWMEN ALL YEAR by Caralyn and Mark Buehner. It was such a cute children's book, and I am glad to know, that I am not the only one who would like the season to last all year long! :) 

"Christmas - that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.  It may weave a spell of nostalgia.  Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved. " ~Augusta E. Rundel

"Whatever you believe with feeling becomes your reality."  ~ Brian Tracy

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." - Copy to Clipboard
  --  Charles Dickens

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's the little things!

I just finished reading today the book THE SEVENTEEN SECOND MIRACLE by Jason F.Wright, he is the author of Christmas Jar ( another favorite of mine ). Here  is the summary that is on the back of his book...

   Seventeen seconds can change a life-forever. This is what Rex Conner learned one summer afternoon in 1970 when his gaze was diverted for just seventeen seconds and tragedy occurred. Forty years later the waves of that day still ripple through the lives of many people, including Rex's son, Cole.

   Cole Conner is a patient teacher, and has long shared his father's story with those in need. This fall Cole has invited three struggling teenagers to learn about Rex Conner-- and the Seventeen Second Miracle.

   The teens will hear how Rex remade his life---seventeen seconds at a time---by performing small acts of kindness that sometimes had life-altering consequences. As Cole's students learn, miracles can happen--with a little help from you. When this knowledge is put to a surprising test, what the students discover may transform your world, as it did theirs. A Seventeen Second Miracle could change your life---if you let it.

ornament

I thought it was perfect for Christmas this year, that I received this beautiful ornament from one of my dearest friends. It goes right along with this incredible story... of the Seventeen Second Miracle. Once again Jason Wright has written a book that makes you want to do something good for someone ( much like the Christmas Jar ). It doesn't have to be big, remember it's the little things that can, and does change lives. I love this book, I love this ornament, and I love so many of my family and friends who have performed Seventeen Second Miracles for me and my family. This book wasn't a Christmas book, but it certainly could have been! This is what Christmas is all about! I hope you get a chance to read it! Good night dear friends.

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” ~ C.S. Lewis

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."     ~ Albert Einstein

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Today my story is one of the best stories ever told. The birth of the Son of God. There is a you tube video on a blog from Paul Cardall. He is an incredible musician and survivor! Please go to the address below, and watch the video of..... yes, the best Christmas story EVER!

http://beforemyheartstops.blogspot.com/ 

P.S. Don't forget to read the quote off to the right, on his blog from Albert Einstein

My post wouldn't be complete without a quote you know! :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Teach the Children

Well, I believe that we got everything done tonight like we had plan. Dinner at 5:00 with everyone ( except our Brad and Krystal, who are in Idaho), then Amy played the piano and we practiced some Christmas songs. Then Angie and I went outside and sprinkled Magic Reindeer food on the lawn ( that our dear neighbor gave to us ). Next we put milk and cookies out on our special Christmas plate for Santa, and put it by the fireplace ( and of course some carrots for the Rudolph and the other reindeers ). Then the girls got on their Christmas pajamas. Next, I read the Night before Christmas. Then we got the Fischer Price Nativity down ( see photo below, every Grandmother and Nana, needs one of these! ), and the girls and I put all the pieces out on the table as Jeff ( Poppa ) read the Christmas story out of the book of Luke. That went pretty well, with only a couple of arguments over certain pieces of the nativity. After that, we bundled up and went to a home to do some Christmas caroling, it was fun and I believe the family that we visited enjoyed it ( or at least I hope they did ). Then back to our cars for some  driving around to see Christmas lights, and then the girls were home before bed time at 8:00 p.m. ( Mission accomplished ). It was a neat experience and we were certainly grateful for it.
Well, I am not sure anyone will actually read my blog tonight, being that it is Christmas Eve, put I still wanted to share this neat story with you. I hope you enjoy and that you have a wonderful Christmas! 
Oh no, it is late and I need to head to bed, I think I just heard the jingle bells from Santa's sleigh...gotta go!

True Meaning of Christmas
-Author Unknown
Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. This is how it happened. I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room, and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out.

"What are you doing?" I started to ask.
The words choked up in my throat, and I saw that he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know. He then answered me with a simple statement: "TEACH THE CHILDREN!"
I was puzzled, what did he mean?
He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the children. Teach them the real meaning of Christmas. The meaning of Christmas that nowadays has been forgotten."

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it before the mantle. Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind. All the needles point Heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward Heaven.

He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. Teach the children that the star was the Heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of His promise.

He then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDLE. Teach the children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light, we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness.

Once again he reached into his bag and removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree. Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love Christ showed for us. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection.

He then pulled from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF. Teach the children that I, Santa Claus, symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December.

He then brought out a HOLLY LEAF. Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent the blood that He shed for us.

Next he pulled from his bag a GIFT and said, "Teach the children that God so loved the world that whoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the Holy Babe and presented Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men.

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree. Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring strayed sheep back to the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper.

He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. Teach the children that it was the angels that heralded the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will."

Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL. Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should bring mankind to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return.
Santa looked around and was pleased. He looked back at me and I saw that the twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, "Remember, TEACH THE CHILDREN the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center for I am but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, Our Lord, Our God, and Savior.

 

Kris Kringle: "Oh, but there is. I'm not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and affects a jolly demeanor. You know, I... I... I'm a symbol. I'm a symbol of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives. If... you can't believe, if you can't accept anything on faith, then you're doomed for a life dominated by doubt."

Are our hearts too small?

   I never really liked the movie The Grinch that stoled Christmas but, I like the moral of the story. The Grinch's heart was too small, and even when he took everything away that represented Christmas in Whoville, that Christmas still happened.
    It reminds me often to ask myself...am I doing things for the right reason at Christmas, is my heart in the right place? Actually, I love Christmas...I love giving gifts...so this really is my season to shine, so to speak. Still I some times get caught up in doing all the things, and I wonder if I should be doing something of more importance instead? So I thought this story was appropriate for tonight, Christmas is coming. It will whether we have everything made, bought, wrapped or given. Yes, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year...so why not enjoy every single moment of it? 
Good night dear friends, remember there is only two more sleeps till Christmas!

The Grinch, a fictional, bitter, cave-dwelling, green, catlike creature with a heart "two sizes too small," lives on snowy Mount Crumpit, a steep, 3,000-foot (910 m) high mountain just north of Whoville, home of the merry and warm-hearted Whos. His only companion is his faithful dog, Max. From his perch high atop Mount Crumpit, the Grinch can hear the noisy Christmas festivities that take place in Whoville. Envious of the Whos' happiness, he makes plans to descend on the town and, by means of burglary, deprive them of their Christmas presents, holiday ham and decorations and thus "prevent Christmas from coming."

However, he learns in the end that despite his success in stealing all the Christmas presents and decorations from the Whos, Christmas comes just the same. He then realizes that Christmas is more than just gifts and presents. His heart grows three sizes larger; he returns all the presents and trimmings and is warmly welcomed into the community of the Whos.

 

" And then the true meaning of Christmas came through, And the Grinch found the strength of ten GrinchesÖ plus two."  ~ Dr. Seuss

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."     ~ Dr. Seuss 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let us never forget the true meaning of Christmas!

Thanks to my dear friend who sent me this story. It reminded me, that often the holidays get so busy that we forget the true meaning of Christmas. This story was a perfect reminder for me, and hopefully for you too!   Good night dear friends!

The "W" in Christmas
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'd 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...

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."  ~Roy L. Smith

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."  ~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

"May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love."
~Author Unknown

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Well, today was a full day of sewing, sewing and sewing! I know exactly how those elves feel at the North Pole! :) I only have the gifts for the girls ( granddaughters ) to go, of course I am creating them first. Not sure why I can't just follow a pattern, but I find it much more challenging, to create something new ...that no one else has ever made! I made a couple of owl purses, some nesting puppies and monsters, plus a baby and blankets and dolls with blankets...not very big, and definitely not expensive... but made with LOTS of love. I will try and get some photos of them up soon.

After dinner we all went to downtown Bellevue, and stood outside to watch SNOWFLAKE LANE. It starts exactly at 7:00 p.m. each evening, and there were a ton of people there. I mean bodies were just smashed all together, everyone trying to see over each other's head. I like people... but that was almost too much for me :). Angie and Jenny, got to sit on Dad and Poppa's shoulders, so they had the best seats in town. First the toy soldiers come walking down the street, playing their drums and dancing. Then the snow starts, or is suppose too. The snow was so lite this year that you had to look hard to find it ( that was disappointing ). Then there were Sugar Plum fairies, Rudolph, and even a Christmas Mouse walking around and talking to all the children.
It was just fun, having everyone together, and doing something Christmasy.

So here is my story for the night!
One of my Christmas books that I love is this one...

The Mitford Snowmen: A Christmas Story

Here is a brief summary... In the Mitford Snowmen, everyone's favorite characters are filled with holiday spirit. And when a swirling snowfall brings them to Main Street for a snowman building contest, the spirit of competition comes alive as well. Will Father Tim and Uncle Billy's creation win the prize in Mitford's First Annual Snowman Jubilee? Will Percy and J.C. steal the show? And what's that wondrous smell of chocolate in the air? So, come . And let the little town with the big heart bring Christmas joy in this special holiday story.

A few years ago, Hallmark was selling ornaments and gifts that were designed after this book, each year I place my snowman ornament on the tree, I think of this neat little story. Hope you too enjoy it!

"This, the spirit of Christmas, that forever and ever endures. May it leave its richest blessing in the hearts of you and yours."   ~ Unknown

"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. "  ~ Burton Hillis

Monday, December 20, 2010

No Santa...impossible!

For my whole life, I have defended Santa Claus. I struggle with people who say that there isn't any such person. Now that I have found this story, I decided to rest my case! Yes, there is a Santa Claus, he is as real as we are! I hope you enjoy this story and the lesson that goes with it!
Santa Claus

I remember my first Christmas party 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.

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 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 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 Bobbie Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobbie Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobbie Decker didn't have a cough, and he didn't have a coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobbie 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," I replied shyly. "It's ... for Bobbie."

The nice lady smiled at me. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons, and write, "To Bobbie, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobbie 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 Bobbie'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 doorbell 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 Bobbie.

Forty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie 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.

"Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus!... There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this " ~ Francis P. Church

"Whenever you give someone a present or sing a holiday song, you're helping Santa Claus. To me, that's what Christmas is all about. Helping Santa Claus!"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Coming Home!

A story that someone told today in church was about the feelings of Christmas and coming home! How so many of the Christmas songs talk about coming home, and what that feels like. We know that when we come home that it will be a place of rest. ( or at least that is what our homes should be like ) It is a place where you are loved, no matter what your faults are. It's a safe place. A place of great comfort. Then the speaker mentioned that similar, should be the feelings of being close to Christ. Someone who loves you know matter what, who comforts you in time of need. Someone who brings great peace to your heart. Yes, coming home and all the feelings that come with that, are much like knowing the Savior and making Him a central part of our lives. I love the feeling of HOME and especially at Christmas time!2011 Christmas Open House 004

  (Here is a photo of our kitchen, right before the Christmas Open House)

"It is possible for Christ to be born in men's lives and when such an experience actually happens, a man is " in Christ" Christ is "formed" in him. This presupposes that we take Christ into our hearts and make Him the living contemporary of our lives. He is not just a general truth or fact in history, but the Savior of men everywhere and at all times. When we strive to be Christlike, He is "formed" in us; if we open the door, He will enter; if we seek His counsel, He will counsel us. For Christ to be "formed" in us, we must have a belief in Him and in His Atonement. Such a belief in Christ and the keeping of His commandments are not restraints upon us. By these, men are set free. This Prince of Peace waits to give peace of mind, which may make each of us a channel of that peace.
   The real Christmas comes to him who has taken Christ into his life as a moving, dynamic, vitalizing force. The real spirit of Christmas lies in the life and mission of the Master."
   ~ Howard W. Hunter

"Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration."  ~Charles Dickens

"The light is what guides you home, the warmth is what keeps you there."  ~Ellie Rodriguez

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Little Drummer Boy

I read this neat this neat story from one of the Chicken Soup for the soul book,I began typing it and then right near the last couple of paragraphs, I pushed the wrong button... and it disappeared. Even my kids tried to help me get it back but...it didn't work. So, I am going to share with you another one of my favorite stories Little Drummer Boy. I think this story has been rewritten a  few times, but the jest of it is the same. The little drummer boy shared the talents he had with the little baby Jesus. Reminding us that we just need to give from our heart, to have the most perfect gifts for those around us.

 

Little Drummer Boy
David's mother cooked the food in the kitchen of the inn he grew up in. His father was the innkeeper. His mother cooked the food. David's older sisters cleaned the rooms, and his older brother swept the stable. David loved to sing. He would sing to his mother as she cooked the food. David made up songs and banged on pots and bowls as he sang to her. David's mother smiled at him. "Someday you will sing in the temple, my son," his mother said. David grinned at his mother. "Tem-ple," David said very carefully.
David's father came into the kitchen. "How is my big boy?" David's father asked as he swung David onto his shoulders. "Pum Pum Pum! Tem-ple come!" David sang as he drummed on his father's head with a wooden spoon. David's father smiled as his son kept on drumming. "We must find this boy a drum or my poor head will not survive!" said David's father, with a laugh.
A few years later David got a small drum for his birthday. Soon he was beating rhythms on his drum wherever he went. Pat-a-rum, pat-a-rum, pat-a-rum, David drummed to copy the donkeys on the road. Swish-click-click-tum, swish-click-click-tum, went David's drumming to copy his brother sweeping straw in the stable.
One day David's father said to his family, "We are going to be very busy. Caesar Augustus has ordered a count of all the families in all the towns." "Pum Pum. Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum. I counted six of us!" David sang. "Why does this make us busy?" "Because people will come to Bethlehem to be counted with their families," said David's father. "They will need a place to stay. They will stay with us, and we will be very busy."

David loved to beat his drum to the sound of donkeys strolling along the road.

David's mother cooked more food. David's sisters cleaned the rooms. David's brother swept out the stable and put new hay and pots of water in the stalls. David's father greeted the people as they came into town. Soon the inn was very full. David played his drum and sang his songs for the people.
Late one night there was a knock at the door. David peeked around his father at the young man and his wife, who was on a donkey. They had no room for these people! What could they do? David's father was a kind man. "You can stay in the stable," he said. "It is warm and dry there. I can send food out to you." The young man thanked David's father and walked the donkey to the stable.
David helped his mother carry bread and cheese out to the young couple. His mother told him the woman was going to have a baby soon. The next day there was a lot of excitement. "The young woman who stayed in the stable last night had her baby," David's mother told him. "The baby is the King of Kings, they say!" said David's father.

Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and the little drummer boy -- drumming and singing.
David gave the gift of song to Baby Jesus.

David could not see the baby because of the crowd around the stable. David stood at the back of the crowd and began to make up a song for the baby: "Come, they told me, our newborn king to see. Our finest gifts we bring to lay before the king. So to honor him when we come."

The crowd began to part when they heard David's beautiful singing: "Baby Jesus, I am a poor boy, too. I have no gift to bring that's fit to give a king. Shall I play for you on my drum?"

David stepped closer to Mary, Joseph, and their son. Baby Jesus smiled at David, reached out, and patted his drum. http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/inspirational-christmas-stories13.htm

 

"The only gift is a portion of thyself."  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"What we are is God's gift to us.  What we become is our gift to God."  ~Eleanor Powell

Friday, December 17, 2010

Visit from St. Nicholas

This is one of my favorite stories. Some of the words are still too big for my 4 year old granddaughter, but I think she gets the jest of it. One tradition that we started a couple of years ago. I bought these cute felt stuffed Christmas mice, they really are sweet. So the idea is to hide the mice somewhere in my decorations, and see if Angie can find the Christmas mice. She likes looking for them. I went more simple on my decorations this year but still...there is lots to see and look at.
So even if you have heard this story a million times, go ahead and read it to a child and watch it come to life all over!

By: Clement C. Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

"There are three stages of a man's life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn't believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus."  ~Unknown

  "Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus! There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence."  ~Francis P. Church

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Things aren't always as they seem!

We don't watch TV that often anymore. I know that seems weird in today's society, but the truth is...we like it this way. It doesn't mean it never comes on, there are exceptions to the rules, like on Saturday if Jeff and Lee want to watch a Football, Basketball or Baseball game, but that is about it.
  One of the reason that we turned off our TV was because of all the negativity it had on it. Another big factor that lead to that decision was...the amount of filth that was coming into our home through the TV. I saw a commercial a few years ago where it made a piece of gum act like a person,and then do a strip tease with the jingle of the commercial. I was thinking "wow, what a sad world we live in, where everything ( almost everything ) is sexual or made to at least look that way.
   I am very big on protecting my home, this should be one place we feel safe and happy. By turning off the TV, we are keeping a lot of that junk out of our home, and that feels good. It really has made a difference. I am sure by now you are wondering what this has to do with my Christmas story? Well, it is a funny story tonight but it is so true. We tend judge things a certain way, when in the end... they are really not like that at all. Much like the news, it seems like all it is reporting is murders, theft, infidelity or drugs. Yet, I know that isn't true, but because we hear it day in and day out, we begin to believe it. There are a lot of wonderful stories out there, a lot of wonderful people out there making real contributions in the world, but we just don't hear about them that often. Wonder why kindness doesn't sell? It really should.
   Anyway, enjoy this cute story and remember...things aren't always as they seem!
How They Forecast a Cold Winter

One day in early September the chief of a Native American tribe was asked by his tribal elders if the winter of 2009/10 was going to be cold or mild.  The chief asked his medicine man, but he too had lost touch with the reading signs from the natural world around the Great Lakes.

In truth, neither of them had idea about how to predict the coming winter.  However, the chief decided to take a modern approach, and the chief rang the National Weather Service in Gaylord Michigan.

'Yes, it is going to be a cold winter,' the meteorological officer told the chief.  Consequently, he went back to his tribe and told the men to collect plenty of firewood.

A fortnight later the chief called the Weather Service and asked for an update. 'Are you still forecasting a cold winter?' he asked.

'Yes, very cold', the weather officer told him.

As a result of this brief conversation the chief went back to the tribe and told his people to collect every bit of wood they could find.

A month later the chief called the National Weather Service once more and asked about the coming winter. 'Yes,' he was told, 'it is going to be one of the coldest winters ever.'

'How can you be so sure?' the chief asked.

The weatherman replied: 'Because the Native Americans of the Great Lakes are collecting wood like crazy.'

http://www.guy-sports.com/humor/christmas/christmas_stories_funny.htm

Holly and Ivy

Well, I won't talk much at all tonight. We just got back from the E.R. at the hospital. Our youngest son Lee, got injured in a basketball game. Some kid landed on his neck. Long story short, he is ok but sprained the ligaments in his neck pretty bad. I am so tired, I think that is how they explained it? Any way, it has been a long night already, I hope . Emergency rooms are the worst. Shoot my neck is hurting after sitting in those chairs for hours. Need to head to bed. Enjoy your story!

The Story of Holly and Ivy

The Story of Holly and Ivy is a 1958 children's book written by Rumer Godden and illustrated by  Barbara Cooney.

Synopsis

The orphanage outside of Mill Valley has closed up for Christmas, and the children have all been dispatched to various homes for the holiday. Only one child, Ivy, is overlooked. The head of the home cannot take Ivy home with her, so she decides to send her to an infants' orphanage some distance away. Ivy suggests that she could instead go to her "grandma's house", the only problem being that she has no grandmother.

The train that Ivy is placed on passes through the town of Mill Valley. While the train is stopped, Ivy happens to peer out the window, and notices that (due to a malfunction of some sort), the illuminated welcome sign no longer reads MILL VALLEY but instead reads I V Y. She takes this to indicate that she really does have a grandma, and that she lives in that town. She leaves the train, and it departs without her.

Meanwhile, a beautiful new Christmas doll named Holly is standing in the display window of Mr. Blossom's toy store, wishing for a little girl to come and take her home. The toy owl next to her, Abracadabra, treats her with undisguised contempt, and suggests that since no one will want Holly after the holiday, she will wind up spending the year in the back room with him.

Elsewhere in Mill Valley, Mrs. Jones suggests to her husband that they have a Christmas tree that year, but her husband refuses, saying that it would be a waste of money: they have no children to enjoy it. Despite his words, Mrs. Jones buys a Christmas tree and decorates it.

After a very hectic afternoon, Mr. Blossom's toy store finally closes. Neither Holly nor Abracadabra has been sold. Mr. Blossom is tired from a long day's work, so he asks Peter to lock up the store for him. He also tells Peter that he can pick a toy for himself, as a bonus. Peter locks up the store, but he has a hole in his pocket, and the key to the store slips out of it without him noticing, landing in the snow outside the shop.

Meanwhile, Ivy's search for her "grandma" has not gone well. Feeling very discouraged, she is walking past the toy store when Holly catches her eye. The doll is exactly what she wanted, but she is outside, and the store is locked. She happens to find the key that Peter dropped, and decides to keep it. Night falls, and she takes shelter in a nearby alley.

The next morning, she returns to the toy store to look at Holly, and overhears a conversation between Peter and Officer Jones, who has been on patrol all night. Peter is distraught about losing the key to the shop. Ivy realizes that was the key that she found, and returns it. Peter goes in to check on the store. Officer Jones quickly realizes that Ivy is on her own, and decides to take her home for breakfast.

Back in the store, Peter ensures that the store has not been robbed. Since little Ivy saved his job, he decides to use his bonus to select a present for her, and chooses Holly. Abracadabra, furious that Holly's wish is about to come true, hurls himself at Peter and winds up in the trash. When Mr. Blossom goes to retrieve him later, he has mysteriously vanished.

At the Jones's house, Ivy realizes that they have a beautiful Christmas tree and no children, which means that she has found her grandma. Shortly after, Peter arrives and delivers a beautifully wrapped box, which of course contains Holly. Everyone's wishes have come true: Ivy has a family and a Christmas doll. Holly has a little girl to hug and squeeze and love her. And when they adopt Ivy, the Joneses have the child they always wished for.

“I didn’t give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.
For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true.
No, I didn’t give you The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.”
– Unknown

"Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas!"  ~ Dale Evans Rogers

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Out of the mouth of Babes!

The story that I would like to share with you tonight is actually on www.youtube.com and it is called REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS  BY mdun999. 

  It is about 4 minutes long, and it is told from a child. If you ever want to get life into perspective, ask a child what is important and what you should do. I really hope you will take the time out to listen and watch it! It will definitely put you in the mood for Christmas!  It is the best Christmas story ever!
Good night!

"Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good-will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."   ~ Calvin Coolidge

"Christmas is time to sing, "happy birthday" to someone in form of Christmas carols"   ~ Carmen Rutlen

Monday, December 13, 2010

Love at Home

I know that I am suppose to share a Christmas story with you but tonight I think I am going to share a short Christmas poem instead. Why? Because I read this other poem about Family life, and it touched me so much, I felt like I should share it. So I hope you can enjoy them both! Good night dear friends!

Christmas gift suggestions:

To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.   ~ Oren Arnold

FAMILY

I ran into a stranger as he passed by,
'Oh excuse me please' was my reply.
He said, 'Please excuse me too;
I wasn't watching for you.'
We were very polite, this stranger and I.
We went on our way and we said goodbye.
But at home a different story is told,
How we treat our loved ones, young and old.
Later that day, cooking the evening meal,
My son stood beside me very still.
When I turned, I nearly knocked him down.
'Move out of the way,' I said with a frown.
He walked away, his little heart broken.
I didn't realize how harshly I'd spoken.
While I lay awake in bed,
God's still small voice came to me and said,
'While dealing with a stranger,
common courtesy you use,
but the family you love, you seem to abuse.
Go and look on the kitchen floor,
You'll find some flowers there by the door.
Those are the flowers he brought for you.
He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue..
He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise,
you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes.'
By this time, I felt very small,
And now my tears began to fall.
I quietly went and knelt by his bed;
'Wake up, little one, wake up,' I said.
'Are these the flowers you picked for me?'
He smiled, 'I found 'em, out by the tree.
I picked 'em because they're pretty like you.
I knew you'd like 'em, especially the blue.'
I said, 'Son, I'm very sorry for the way I acted today;
I shouldn't have yelled at you that way..'
He said, 'Oh, MOM, that's okay.
I love you anyway.'
I said, 'Son, I love you too,
and I do like the flowers, especially the blue.'

"The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him."  ~ Pablo Casals

"Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them."  ~ Richard L. Evans  ( this is a great quote to remember as we prepare, for the holidays! )

 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Spirit

I am sorry that I didn't write a post yesterday. I was in a lot of pain, and so I stayed low most of the day. When my pain is really bad, it hurts to even write so... thanks for understanding. I was able to go to church today for a little while, and how grateful I am. Going to church renews and uplifts me. So even though I couldn't stay the whole time, I was thankful for being there for at least, a little while. Plus, I love singing the Christmas songs in church, that was a great memory from the time I was a little girl sitting in church with my family and grandma.
Here is  your Christmas story for tonight, it's good.

Christmas Spirit

The line of disgruntled customers snaked around the counter and disappeared somewhere in the men's ware department. There were just two more shopping days before Christmas, and most of the shoppers in line were in panic mode, coiling to strike. One of those customers was my husband, Dale.
Dale is one of those people who shop better under pressure. They are the no-nonsense shoppers who depend on fast service because every minute counts as the countdown before Christmas continues. But the service here was anything but fast.
The problem was the elderly lady at the front of the line, who was twittering happily to the lone salesgirl manning the cash register.
"This sweater is for my granddaughter," the lady explained. " She's going to be a teacher, you know. And she's doing very well. She has a nice boyfriend who is an architectural technician. He's just started a job with a good company, but you know, we  haven't  seen any sign of a ring yet. Young people  seem to wait so long these days. They've been going out for quite a while now. Why, I was married with one child and another one on the way when I was her age."
On and on she rattled as she painstakingly counted out her change, oblivious to the writhing serpent of customers behind her. When she finally zipped her purse shut and picked up her parcel, the clerk motioned to the man next in line.
"Thank you, dearie," said the lady as she started to move slowly away, checking the contents of her shopping bag. She was almost to the end of the counter when suddenly she turned back. "Opps! Excuse me," she cried. A collective hiss went down the line. Several fangs were bared. An ominous rattle of keys began in someone's pocket.
"What's this for?" she asked, holding up a piece of paper
"It's a discount coupon that will give you a 15 percent off your next purchase here at the store, from now until the end of January," replied the weary salesgirl.
"Well, thank you, my dear, but I won't be needing this," she beamed. "Here, you can use it right now!" she said, handing it to the man next in line. The man's eyes widened, and he mumbled a word of thanks as she shuffled to the door.
Then an amazing thing happened. The man stepped up to the counter and used the coupon that the elderly lady had given him. When the clerk handed him another coupon for his next visit to the store, he promptly turned around and gave it to the woman in line behind him. After she had used that coupon toward her purchase and the clerk gave her another one, the woman then passed it back to the shopper behind her. By the time it was Dale's turn, the salesclerk had a smile on her face, and so did Dale as he turned around to give his coupon to the lady behind him. And so it went, on down the line until there  was nothing left of that disgruntled snake, not even a rattle. One small act of kindness had snowballed into a mountain of goodwill.
Dale says it was one of the best gifts he got that Christmas---when he discovered that the Christmas spirit is still alive and well in our world.   ~ Lisa Beringer ( Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas )

"The only blind person at Christmastime is he who has not Christmas in his heart"  ~ Helen Keller

"Selfishness makes Christmas a burden, love makes it a delight."   ~Unknown

"He who has no Christmas in his heart will never find Christmas under a tree."   ~ ( Sunshine Magazine ) 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hard day!

For some reason, even after sleeping so well last night...I was exhausted today. I couldn't quite make myself do very much. That worries me a bit but, I have to remember what a tough week this has been... so maybe I am still trying to recoup from that? Also when Lee came home today from school, he said he was going to take a quick nap before his basketball game. I asked him to set his alarm and he said he would. I was going to stay up to make sure he didn't over sleep, but then I feel asleep myself. When he woke me up, he was so upset...for every minute they are late the coach makes them run a mile. He said "Mom, I am going to have to run 10 miles now before the game". Oh, I felt so bad, not that it was my fault but... most Moms would have been up and cooking dinner at that time instead of sleeping. Lee kept telling me it wasn't my fault, but somehow I felt like it was. Why can't I be healthy and have energy like other Moms? Why does everything I do, effect my body so hard? I really feel like my kids have Mothered me more these past 2 years, than I have Mothered them. That is sad. Ok, I am not going to talk about this anymore. I just need to chalk this up, as one of my BIGGER THAN ME DAYS and start fresh again tomorrow!
  Anyway, I will share tonight, just a sweet short Christmas story that I read today. Simple but profound. I hope you enjoy it and remember the true meaning of this wonderful time of the year. 

"At home in a hidden-away corner, I have a small black walking stick with an imitation silver handle. It once belonged to a distant relative. Why do I keep it for a period now spanning more than 70 years? There is a special reason. As a small boy I participated in a Christmas pageant in our ward. I was privileged to be one of the three Wise Men. With a bandana about my head, Mother's piano bench cover draped over my shoulder, and the black cane in my hand. I spoke my assigned lines. "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him" ( Matthew 2:2) I vividly remember the feeling of my heart as the three of us "Wise Men" looked upward and saw a star journeyed across the stage, found Mary with the young child Jesus, then fell down and worshipped Him and opened our treasures and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
I especially liked the fact that we did not return to the evil Herod to betray the baby Jesus but obeyed God and departed another way.
The years have flown by, but the Christmas cane continues to occupy a special place in my home; and in my heart is a commitment to Christ.  ~ Thomas S. Monson

"Wise men still seek Him"

"Let us keep Christmas beautiful without a thought of greed. That it might live forevermore to fill our every need. That it shall not be just a day, but last a lifetime through. The miracle of Christmastime, that brings God close to you."  ~ Ann Schultz

 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One of my favorite stories and movies

This is a great story, and I have loved it since a child. Rudolph was played every Friday night (the day after Thanksgiving). I loved the fact that even though Rudolph was different, when he learned to love himself first, then he realized his purpose in life, has always hit home to me. Most of my childhood, I felt different!
But after reading the background about how this story came to be... I love it even more! I won't write much tonight, so  you have time to read this!

The true story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer:
   On a December night in Chicago, a little girl climbed onto her father's lap and asked a question. It was a simple question, asked in children's curiosity, yet it had a heart-rending effect on Robert May.

   "Daddy," four-year old Barbara asked, "Why isn't my Mommy just like everybody else's mommy?"

  Bob May stole a glance across his shabby two room apartment. On a couch lay his young wife, Evelyn, racked with cancer. For two years she had been bedridden; for two years, all Bob's income and smaller
savings had gone to pay for treatments and medicines.
The terrible ordeal already had shattered two adult lives. Now Bob suddenly realized the happiness of his growing daughter was also in jeopardy. As he ran his fingers through Barbara's hair, he prayed for some satisfactory answer to her question.

   Bob May knew only too well what it meant to be "different." As a child he had been weak and delicate. With the innocent cruelty of children, his playmates had continually goaded the stunted, skinny lad to tears.
Later at Dartmouth, from which he was graduated in 1926, Bob May was so small that he was always being mistaken for someone's little brother. Nor was his adult life much happier. Unlike many of his classmates who
floated from college into plush jobs, Bob became a lowly copy writer for Montgomery Ward, the big Chicago mail order house. Now at 33, Bob was deep in debt, depressed and sad.
   Although Bob did not know it at the time, the answer he gave the tousled haired child on his lap was to bring him to fame and fortune. It was also to bring joy to countless thousands of children like his own Barbara. On that December night in the shabby Chicago apartment, Bob cradled his little girl's head against his shoulder and began to tell a story.

   "Once upon a time there was a reindeer named Rudolph, the only reindeer in the world that had a big red nose. Naturally people called him Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." As Bob went on to tell about Rudolph, he tried desperately to communicate to Barbara the knowledge that, even though some creatures of God are strange and different, they often enjoy the miraculous power to make others happy.
Rudolph, Bob explained, was terribly embarrassed by his unique nose. Other reindeer laughed at him; his mother and father and sister were mortified too.
Even Rudolph wallowed in self pity.

   "Well," continued Bob, "one Christmas Eve, Santa Claus got his team of husky reindeer -Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen ready for their yearly trip around the world. The entire reindeer community assembled to cheer these great heroes on their way. But a terrible
fog engulfed the earth that evening, and Santa knew that the mist was so thick he wouldn't be able to find any chimney. Suddenly Rudolph appeared, his red nose glowing brighter than ever. Santa sensed at once that here was the answer to his perplexing problem. He led Rudolph to the front of the sleigh, fastened the
harness and climbed in.

   They were off! Rudolph guided Santa safely to every chimney that night. Rain and fog, snow and sleet; nothing bothered Rudolph, for his bright nose penetrated the mist like a beacon. 

   And so it was that Rudolph became the most famous and beloved of all the reindeer. The huge red nose he once hid in shame was now the envy of every buck and doe in the reindeer world. Santa Claus told everyone that Rudolph had saved the day and from that Christmas, Rudolph has been living serenely and happy."

   Little Barbara laughed with glee when her father finished. Every night she begged him to repeat the tale until finally Bob could rattle it off in his sleep. Then, at Christmas time he decided to make the story into a poem like "The Night Before Christmas" and prepare it in bookish form illustrated with pictures, for Barbara's
personal gift.  Night after night, Bob worked on the verses after Barbara had gone to bed for he was determined his daughter should have a worthwhile gift, even though he could not afford to buy one...

   Then as Bob was about to put the finishing touches on Rudolph, tragedy struck. Evelyn May died. Bob, his hopes crushed, turned to Barbara as chief comfort. Yet, despite his grief, he sat at his desk in the quiet,
now lonely apartment, and worked on "Rudolph" with tears in his eyes.

   Shortly after Barbara had cried with joy over his handmade gift on Christmas morning, Bob was asked to an employee's holiday party at Montgomery Wards. He didn't want to go, but his office associates
insisted. When Bob finally agreed, he took with him the poem and read it to the crowd. First the noisy throng listened in laughter and gaiety. Then they became silent, and at the end, broke into spontaneous
applause.

   That was in 1938. By Christmas of 1947, some 6 million copies of the booklet had been given away or sold, making Rudolph one of the most widely
distributed books in the world. The demand for Rudolph sponsored products, increased so much in variety and number that educators and historians predicted Rudolph would come to occupy a permanent place in the Christmas legend.

"If there are things you don't like in the world you grew up in, make your own life different."  ~ Dave Thomas

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."

"You were born an original. Don’t become a copy."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

One of our favorite Christmas tradition!

Now one of our favorite Christmas traditions came from this book. I loved it from the moment that I read it. I got to meet the author and thank him personally for the profound effect he had on so many, through writing this  book. I hope as you read this summary, that you will want to go out and get this book before Christmas. And I hope that it leads you to wanting to begin your own family Christmas Jar and tradition. It is a great way to think of someone less fortunate than you, every single day!

Today I dropped Lauren at work(which is at a Book Store), and I saw this book again and thought...that is the Christmas story I should share tonight!  If I were rich and it were possible... I would buy one for each of you, that's how much I think of this book.  Hope you are taking time, to enjoy the holidays and the magic that it holds!

Christmas Jars

We live in a day when our civilization seems to be on the brink of disaster and pessimism is rampant. Out of this negative environment Mr. Jason F. Wright has managed to capture a classic moment of hope and optimism. In his new book Christmas Jars, Mr. Wright captures several moments of humanity at its highest and shows us how to combat some of our social ills in our society. Through his main character, the writer show us a character representative of many modern day individuals who grow up isolated and without a past. Throughout her life the main character, Hope, struggles and faces many trials and tribulations which she has surmounts. Through the kind deeds of others and integrity of different people who cross her path she manages to thrive and grow to be an intelligent and productive person in society. One person who has been of great influence is her adoptive mother and another is a complete stranger who does her a kind deed. At this critical time in her life when she faces one of her biggest crises this kind deed leads her to search out the individual or individuals that have given her a jar full of money. Living in a world when nothing is ever given for nothing she latches on to this story and through every means possible attempts to seek out the giver. Through her search she finds something she does not expect and she must weigh out her priorities. What is important? What should she do with this information? In this instance her values are put to the test. Throughout her life she has waited for her big story, but as she confronts these different issues she realizes that some things are more important than her big break. The seeds that were planted in her heart by the kind deeds of strangers saves her and creates hope for the future. As the main character's name expresses, Mr. Wright extends to the reader the possibility of hope in a world full of emotionally and socially bankrupt individuals. There is always hope sometimes it may be hidden, but nevertheless a spark can be ignited and grow not only in the person given hope, but others as well. Goodness does exist we just might have to search it out and it is contiguous. As fragile as it may be it can be strengthened even in the face of adversity. Greed and evil can be overcome and just about everyone deserves a break. It's not always those who are economically poor that need a break, but those who will not extend a kind hand also. This book is definitely a good read. In it's simplicity it puts across a powerful and significant message.
http://www.shvoong.com/books/475523-christmas-jars/

"I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month."  ~ Harlan Miller

  "For somehow, not only at Christmas, but all the long year through, The joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back to you."  ~ John Greenleaf Whittier

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I love this story!

I first heard this story when I was 22 years old and serving a mission for my church. We had been invited to dinner, at a sweet young family's home. Afterwards  they asked us to stay while they read a Christmas story to their kids. They had flannel board cut outs to help the little ones understand it better. The children loved it, and I thought is was one of the most beautiful Christmas stories I had ever heard. I now have the book and read it my kids and grandkids. Hope you enjoy it!

Good night! 

The Three Trees

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: " I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I'll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!" The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on it's way to the ocean. " I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I'll be the strongest ship in the world! The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. I don't want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they'll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.

Years, passed. The rain came, the sun shone and the little trees grew tall. One day three wood cutters climbed the mountain. The first wood cutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the first tree fell. "Now I shall make a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!" the first tree said.

The second wood cutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It's perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters!" thought the second tree. " I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!"

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last wood cutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the wood cutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me." He muttered. With a swoop of his shining ax, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the wood cutter brought her to a carpenter's shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, or treasure. She was coated with saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals. The second tree smiled when the wood cutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and awed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river, instead she was taken to a little lake. The third tree was confused when the wood cutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" The once tall tree wondered. " All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God..."

Many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. "I wish I could make a cradle for him." Her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. " This manger is beautiful." She said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and a thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She new she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and the rain. The tired man awoke. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten wood pile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hand to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

The next time you feel down because you didn't get what you wanted, sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.

"I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be."  ~ Douglas Adams

"I have no regrets in my life, I think that everything happens to  you for a reason. The hard times that  you go through build character, making you a much stronger person."  ~ Rita Mero

Monday, December 6, 2010

What a wonderful day!

I am completely worn out but very happy. Tonight was our Annual Neighborhood Open House and we had a ton of people come and stay, to enjoy the food and atmosphere of the Season! We started having our Open Houses over 16 years ago, only missing one when I was diagnosed with cancer. How blessed we feel to have soooooooooooooo many dear friends that are like family to us. There were many that couldn't come or who have moved away, but some how I felt they were still here in spirit with us ( maybe because I was missing them so much). But I am beyond spent so I will leave you with this sweet Christmas story.

Gift from the Heart, A


December is the busiest time of the year. Everyone's busy preparing for the holidays and continuing family traditions. Has it ever crossed your mind, as to how many really stop and think what Christmas is all about? Are we teaching our children the true meaning of Christmas or how many gifts need to be bought? If we have taught our children the true meaning of Christmas, what we've instilled in them will be carried into generations to come. I like to see families create traditions all year long. After all, the original gift to all of us here on earth, was given from His heart. For through our hearts, one single gift of kindness, can touch an endless amount of hearts forever.

This is a story about a child that saw the importance of giving and never thought about giving up. Some may think a child isn't old enough to carry enough wisdom to teach us all a lesson in living. But I've learned a heart grows from life's many challenges and sometimes a child's challenges can be far greater than some adults. We met a little girl seven years ago, during one of my daughter's occasional hospital stays. Her name was Beth and she was my daughter's room mate for a week. Beth was a very happy girl despite her medical problems she was facing. Her long blonde curls always seemed to bounce with her smile. The girls got to know each other well and had become good friends. On the pediatric floor of the hospital, we saw many seriously ill children. It was so sad, even though my daughter had an incurable kidney disease and not a very good chance of living to see old age herself. We always saw many children with all kinds of cancer, and sadly enough Beth was one of those children. She was doing two weeks of chemo and radiation. I was amazed at her will and determination to never give up despite how very sick her treatments made her. She was always concerned about my daughter and the other children with cancer she grew to know over her many hospital stays.

My daughter's IV treatments were done after a week and I was happy to finally bring her home. We were awaiting the final discharge orders when Beth appeared from the other side of the curtain that separated their beds. She said, "I want you to have this. I know you need a new kidney, so keep this angel pin with you till you get better. She will watch over you so you smile all over. My friend, John gave this to me to watch over me, but it's time for this angel to watch over you. When you get your new kidney and smile, you can give this angel to someone that needs her too. I'm done reading my book so here's my bookmark that has a poem on it called, Don't Quit!, I know it by heart anyhow." My daughter thanked her and the girls exchanged hugs and big smiles. I knew, we may never see Beth again, but we never forgot the gift she gave from her heart that day. During that year, we found out Beth has passed away. It was so sad to know such a beautiful little girl was no longer bouncing smiles to everyone she would meet. Her sincere kindness will stay with us forever.

We kept that angel for six more years. My daughter had gone beyond what medical journals had studied and expected from her disease. Was it the angel watching over her or pure luck? My daughter ended up on kidney dialysis for over a year, and one month after almost loosing her, a kidney became available and she received a transplant. My heart tells me, an angel upstairs was watching with a loving smile. My daughter had kept that angel pin and now she felt it was time to give it to someone who needed watched over till they could smile again. She gave it to an elderly man trying to overcome the damage from heart problems and undergoing extensive therapy. His family has informed us, that when he returns home he wants to give the angel to someone he knows suffering from a brain tumor.

How many families and hearts this angel has touched no one knows for sure.

But all it took was one single gift of kindness, that has and will touch an endless amount of hearts forever.

So this Christmas season, look around and see that gift that can't be bought. Create a tradition with your children or maybe someone you love. Make someone's day and do the unexpected, let a friend know you care, or greet a stranger with a warm smile. Give the gift that keeps on giving. It's open twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, it's a gift from your heart. After all, isn't that what Christmas is all about?

"From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another. The warmth and joy of Christmas brings us closer to each other." ~Emily Matthews

"The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others' burdens, easing other's loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas."  ~ WC Jones