May we always keep the true meaning of Christmas
in our hearts; and may we share the warmth and joy
of this glorious season throughout the whole year.
( YOUR mail goes here )
Angels, Once in a While
In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just seventy-five cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave fifteen dollars a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.
I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. I loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed, crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck.
The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid sixty-five cents an hour and I could start that night.
I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.
That night when and the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.
When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money ― fully half of what I averaged every night.
As the weeks went by, heating bills added another strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.
One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered. I made a deal with the owner of the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.
I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.
On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe.
A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up. When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car.
I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.)
It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car-or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what. When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was full-full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door, scrambled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.
Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes:
There were candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.
As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning. Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December ― and they all were hanging out at the Big Wheel truck stop!
THE POWER OF PRAYER
Father, I ask you to bless my friends
reading this right now.
Lord, show them a new revelation of Your love and power.
Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment.
Where there is pain, give them Your
peace & mercy.
Where there is self doubting, release a renewed confidence
in Your ability to work through them.
Where there is tiredness, or exhaustion,
I ask You to give them understanding, patience,
& strength as they learn submission to Your leading.
Where there is spiritual stagnation,
I ask You to renew them by revealing Your nearness,
and by drawing them into greater intimacy with You.
Where there is fear, reveal Your love,
and release to them Your courage.
Where there is a sin blocking them, reveal it,
and break its hold over my friend's life.
Bless their finances, give them greater vision,
and raise up leaders, and friends to support, and encourage them.
Give each of them discernment to recognize the demonic forces around them,
and reveal to them the power they have in You to defeat it.
I ask You to do these things in Jesus' name.
In Christian love,
Your Friend in Jesus.
You are not alone.
You never have been,
and you never will be.
God has been with you every step of the way.
Where the path leads,
He is lighting lamps to guide you.
And if you ever do feel for a second that
He is not right there beside you,
it is only because He has gone ahead for a moment or two
to build a bridge that will keep you safe from harm
and that will lead you on toward the sunlight shining through.
Wherever you go, may you be with God,
for God will always be with you.
The Night Before Jesus
'Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there.
The children were dressing to crawl into bed,
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the Late Show While I took a nap.
When out of the East there arose such a Clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was The matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and Threw up the sash!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray ~
I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY!
The light of HIS face made me cover my head ~
It was Jesus! returning just like He said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.
In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved woman and man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name,
When He said, "It's not here," my head hung in shame.
The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound
While all the rest were left standing around.
I fell to my knees, but it was too late;
I had waited too long and this sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;
Oh, if only we had been ready tonight.
In the words of this poem the meaning is clear,
The coming of Jesus is dawning near.
There's only one life and when comes the last call
We'll find that the Bible was true after all.
~ author unknown ~
A SPECIAL CURE
I hurried into the local department store to grab some last minute Christmas gifts. I looked at all the people and grumbled to myself. I would be in here forever and I just had so much to do. Christmas was beginning to become such a drag. I kinda wished that I could just sleep through Christmas. But I hurried the best I could through all the people to the toy department. Once again I kind of mumbled to myself at the prices of all these toys. And wondered if the grandkids would even play with them. I found myself in the doll aisle.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little boy about 5 holding a lovely doll. He kept touching her hair and he held her so gently. I could not seem to help myself. I just kept looking over at the little boy and wondered who the doll was for. I watched him turn to a woman and he called his aunt by name and said, "Are you sure I don't have enough money?" She replied a bit impatiently, "You know that you don't have enough money for it!" The aunt told the little boy not to go anywhere that she had to go get some other things and would be back in a few minutes. And then she left the aisle.
The boy continued to hold the doll. After a bit I asked him who the doll was for. He said, "It is the doll my sister wanted so badly for Christmas. She just knew that Santa would bring it." I told him that maybe Santa was going to bring it. He said "No, Santa can't go where my sister is... I have to give the doll to my Mamma to take to her." I asked where his sister was. He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, "She's gone to be with Jesus. My Daddy says that Mama is going to have to go be with her soon." My heart nearly stopped beating.
Then the boy looked at me again and said, "I told my Daddy to tell Mama not to go yet... tell her to wait till I got back from the store". Then he asked me if I wanted to see his picture. I told him I would love to. He pulled out some pictures he had taken at a little booth at the front of the store. He said "I want my Mamma to take this with her so she won't ever forget me. I love my Mama so very much... I wish she did not have to leave me, but Daddy says she will need to be with my sister."
I saw that the little boy had lowered his head and had grown so very quiet. While he was not looking I reached into my purse and pulled out a handful of bills. I asked the little boy, "Shall we count that money one more time?"
He grew excited and said "Yes, I just know it has to be enough". So I slipped my money in with his and we began to count it. Of course it was plenty for the doll. He softly said, "Thank you Jesus for giving me enough money." Then the boy said, "I only asked Jesus to give me enough money to buy this doll so Mama can take it with her to give to my sister. And He heard my prayer. I wanted to ask Him for enough to buy my Mama a white rose... I didn't ask Him. but I think He must have known anyway, because He gave me enough to buy the doll and a rose for my Mama too... she loves white roses so very, very much..." The aunt came back just then and I wheeled my cart away.
I could not keep from thinking about the little boy as I finished my shopping in a totally different spirit than when I had started. And I kept remembering a story I had seen in the newspaper several days earlier about a drunk driver hitting a car and killing a little girl and the Mother was in serious condition. The family was deciding on whether to remove the life support. Now surely this little boy did not belong with that story. Two days later I read in the paper where the family had disconnected the life support and the young woman had died. I could not forget the little boy and just kept wondering if the two were somehow connected.
Later that day, I could not help myself... I went out and bought some white roses and took them to the funeral home where the young woman was. And there she was holding a lovely white rose, the beautiful doll, and the picture of the little boy in the store. I left there in tears, my life changed forever. The love that little boy had for his little sister and his mother was overwhelming. But in a split second a drunk driver had ripped the life of that little family to pieces.
It Takes a Child
Except for the Christmas story told in the New Testament, the narrative that follows is the most powerful Christmas story I have ever read. Although the magazine that originally printed the story is no longer in business, the publisher has graciously given permission to reprint the following shortened version. This is a first-person account from a mother about her family as they ate dinner on Christmas Day in a small restaurant many miles from their home. Nancy, the mother, relates:
We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, "Hi there." He pounded his fat baby hands on the highchair tray. His eyes were wide with excitement and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled and giggled with merriment.
I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man with a tattered rag of a coat; dirty, greasy and worn. His pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. "Hi there, baby; Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster," the man said to Erik. My husband and I exchanged looks, "What do we do?"
Erik continued to laugh and answer, "Hi, hi there." Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.
Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, "Do ya know patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo." Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk. My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.
We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. "Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's "pick-me-up" position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man's. Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, gently, so gently, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back.
No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for a moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, "You take care of this baby." Somehow I managed, "I will," from a throat that contained a stone. He pried Erik from his chest ― unwillingly, longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, "God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift."
I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, "My God, my God, forgive me." I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, "Are you willing to share your son for a moment?" ― when He shared His for all eternity. The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, "To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children."
I sure can't add anything of significance to Nancy's story, except to wish you all Happy Holidays. - Author and source unknown -
The story goes that some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, "This is for you, Daddy."
He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found the box was empty. He yelled at her, "Don't you know when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside it?" The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, "Oh, Daddy, it's not empty, I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy."
The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness. It is told that the man kept that gold box by his bed for years and whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.
In a very real sense, each of us as humans, have been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, friends, family or God There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.
"Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly." ~ anonymous ~
The Finest Gift
At Christmastime a special gift
is not upon the tree,
It is never tied with ribbons,
nor is it something one can see.
Yet among all the lights so bright
and presents wrapped and gay.
It is the finest gift of all
for every Christmas Day.
It is the love of Christmastime
a-glow in every heart,
all the good will of the season,
in which all may have a part.
~Virginia Katherine Oliver~
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
And remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly & clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull & ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud & aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain & bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing future of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity & disenchantment
it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness.
Beyond wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees & the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors & aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
~ Copyright by Max Ehrmann, 1927 ~
A bauble, trinket, or a toy
Which through the years were not destroyed;
Are remnants of the distant past,
Which tho we treasure, cannot last.
A bit of tinsel for the tree
So treasured by the family,
Of loved ones who have left this earth
Yet leave behind a bit of mirth!
A tinseled angel or a star
Which tiny fingers must not mar;
Some photographs of family fun
Of Christmases which hearts have won.
Yes, all these things so precious be
Yet dearer far is love we see,
Of Him Who brought us Christmas Joy
Personified in One Small Boy.
~ Sancie Earman King ~
A SOLDIERS CHRISTMAS
'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,
HE LIVED ALL ALONE,
IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE
MADE OF PLASTER AND STONE.
I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY
WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,
AND TO SEE
JUST WHO IN THIS HOME DID LIVE.
I LOOKED ALL ABOUT,
A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,
NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS,
NOT EVEN A TREE.
NO STOCKING BY MANTLE,
JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND,
ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES
OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.
WITH MEDALS AND BADGES,
AWARDS OF ALL KINDS,
A SOBER THOUGHT
CAME THROUGH MY MIND.
FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT,
IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,
I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER,
ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.
THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING,
CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR
IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.
THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE,
THE ROOM IN SUCH DISORDER,
NOT HOW I PICTURED
A UNITED STATES SOLDIER.
WAS THIS THE HERO
OF WHOM I'D JUST READ?
CURLED UP ON A PONCHO,
THE FLOOR FOR A BED?
I REALIZED THE FAMILIES
THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT,
OWED THEIR LIVES
TO THESE SOLDIERS
WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.
SOON ROUND THE WORLD,
THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,
AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE
A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.
THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM
EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,
BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS,
LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.
I COULDN'T HELP WONDER
HOW MANY LAY ALONE,
ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE
IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.
THE VERY THOUGHT BROUGHT
A TEAR TO MY EYE,
I DROPPED TO MY KNEES
AND STARTED TO CRY.
THE SOLDIER AWAKENED
AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE,
"SANTA DON'T CRY,
THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;
I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM,
I DON'T ASK FOR MORE,
MY LIFE IS MY GOD,
MY COUNTRY, MY CORPS."
THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER
AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP,
I COULDN'T CONTROL IT,
I CONTINUED TO WEEP.
I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS,
SO SILENT AND STILL
AND WE BOTH SHIVERED
FROM THE COLD NIGHT'S CHILL.
I DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE
ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT,
THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR
SO WILLING TO FIGHT.
THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER,
WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,
WHISPERED, "CARRY ON SANTA,
IT'S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE."
ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH,
AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT,
MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND,
AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT.
~ author unknown ~
"Oh Holy Night"
Jerry & Jessie 1997
Life is changed, not taken away.
To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
Page 2 of Christmas Stories & Poems "FROM YOU"
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Page Updated: 10-27-09
Designed, Created and Maintained by:
Mom ~ December 22, 1999
İMarilyn Jeffries, Reflection of the Echo, 1974~2009
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED