Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rear Ended

It's been snowing a lot the last two days. I decided to take my kids plus one out to eat and play at an indoor playground for lunch. It's something I usually don't do, but with the plus one they really needed to get some energy out. I was stopped at a light waiting to make a right hand turn. That is when it happened. I couldn't believe it! I didn't see him coming or I could have pulled forward a little. The kids were okay so I jumped out to see what had happened. Nothing. My car was fine and to a huge surprise his was too. He was in an old mini van and me in my XL SUV and my ball in my hitch, I honestly couldn't believe that no damage was done to either car. How blessed we were that nothing happened and all 4 of the kids were just fine.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Our Christmas was just lovely. I hope yours was too. My 5 year old and my 4 year old wanted their very own scriptures from Santa. Well he delivered. They were so excited! They been carrying them around everywhere. Even when we went to relatives they had to bring them, then left them in the car. Then last night when my 5 year old was going to bed he told me he was going to read them in his room. Then he stopped and asked me if I would help him read them. I was so touched that a 5 year old already wants to read his own scriptures on his own. I know I wasn't thinking about that when I was his age. So I helped him read the first page of 1st Nephi. The Lord truly is sending His special spirits to the earth now.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

12th Day, Christmas is for Sharing

Christmas is for Sharing
by Richard Warner
I knew that Homer had wanted canyon boots for as long as I could remember. He was eleven and I ten, and we had spent many nights under the blue quilts at the cabin talking about how great it would be to have some real boots--boots that would climb through thorny bushes, that would ward off rattlesnakes, and that would nudge the ribs of the pony; we had planned the kind of leather they should be, and what color they should be, and what kind of decoration they should have. But we both knew it was just talk. The depression had been hard on Father's business, and even shoes for school were usually half-soled hand-me-downs.
Christmas that year had promised as always to be exciting, though mainly because of the handmade things we'd worked on in school for our parents. We never had money to spend on each other, but we had caught early in our lives a sort of contagion from our mother. She loved to give, and her anticipation of the joy that a just right gift would bring to someone infected our whole household. We were swept up in breathless waiting to see how others would like what we had to give. Secrecy ruled--open, exaggerated secrecy, as we made and hid our gifts. The only one whose hiding place we never discovered was my Grandmother's. Her gifts seemed to materialize by magic on Christmas morning and were always more expensive than they should have been.
That Christmas I was glowing because Mother had been so happy with the parchment lampshade I'd made in the fourth grade, and Father had raved over the clay jewelry case I had molded and baked for him. Gill and Emma Lou had been pleased with the figures I'd whittled out of clothespins, and Homer had liked the Scout pin I'd bargained for with my flint. Then Grandma started to pass out her presents.
Mine was heavy and square. I'd been in the hospital that year and then on crutches, and I'd wondered how it would be to have an erector set to build with. Grandma had a knack at reading boys' minds, I was sure that's what it was. But it wasn't. It was a pair of boots; brown, tangy-smelling leather boots .
I looked quickly to Homer's package. His was a sweater. He'd needed one all fall. I wanted to cover my box before he saw what it was. I didn't want boots; they should have been his. He came toward me, asking to see, and I started to say, "I'm sorry, broth.."
But he was grinning, and he shouted, "Hey everybody--look what Richard got." He swooped the boots out of the box, fondled them like treasure, and then sat on the floor at my feet to take off my half-soled shoes and put on the brand new boots.
I don't remember how the boots felt, nor even how they looked. But Christmas rang in my soul because my brother was glad for me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

11th Day, The Christmas Mistake

The Christmas Mistake
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 t heir 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: "CHRISTWAS LOVE"

And, I believe, He still is.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

10th Day, The Empty Box

Before you read this story I want to tell you what I did with it. I first read it in 2001. So that Christmas I decided I could paint a box and give it to my Grandma, my mother's mother, for Christmas. She and I were always close. I did change it a little bit. I asked my whole family to write down their favorite memory of my Grandma along with mine and put it in the box. So technically it wasn't empty. I gave it to her along with this story. I've never felt so good about a present before. I don't know how it touched her life or if it did. She passed away suddenly the next February. I talked with her the week before. My very last words to her were, "I love you." I am so grateful I felt inspired to give her that gift for Christmas for it was her last. I miss you Grandma.
Enjoy the Story, Merry Christmas.

The Empty Box
Even thought it was only September, the air was crisp and children were already whispering about Christmas plans and Santa Claus. It made the already long months until Christmas seem even longer. With each passing day, the children became more anxious, waiting for the final school bell. Upon its ringing everyone would run for coast, gloves and the classroom door, racing to see who would be the first one home; everyone except David.
David was a small boy with messy brown hair and tattered clothes. I had often wondered what kind of home life David had and often asked myself what kind of mother could send her son to school dressed so inappropriately for the cold weather months without coat, boots, or gloves. But something made David special. It wasn't his intelligence or manners for they were as laking as his winter clothes, but I never recall looking at David and not seeing a smile. He was always willing to help and not a day passed that David didn't stay after school to straighten chairs and clean erasers. We never talked much; he would just simply ask what else he could do. Then thank me for letting him stay and slowly head for home.
Weeks passed and the excitement over the coming Christmas grew into restlessness until the last day of school before the holiday breaks. I can't recall a more anxious group of children as that final bell rang and they scattered out the door. I smiled in relief as the last of them hurried out. Turning around, I saw David quietly standing by my desk. "Aren't you anxious to get home, David?" I asked. "No," HE quietly replied. Ready to go home myself I said, "Well, I think the chairs and erasers will wait, why don't you go home." "I have something for you", he said and pulled form behind his back a small box wrapped in old paper and tied with string. Handing it to me, he said anxiously, "open it!" I took the box from him, thanked him, and slowly unwrapped it. I lifted the lid and to my surprise saw nothing. I looked at David's smiling face and back into the empty box and said. "The box is nice, David, but ti's empty. " "Oh no it isn't," said David. "It's full of love. My mom told me before she died that love was something you couldn't touch or see unless you know it's there...can you see it?" Tears filled my eyes as I looked at the proud dirty face I had rarely give attention to. "Yes, David, I can see it," I replied. "Thank you."
David and I became good friends after that Christmas and I can say that with the passing years, I never again let the uncombed hair or dirty face bother me, and I never forgot the meaning behind the little empty box that sat on my desk.

Monday, December 21, 2009

9th Day, A Small White Envelope

A Small White Envelope
It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas---oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it-overspending... the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma---the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.
Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church, mostly black. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, resented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.
Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them." Mike loved kids-all kids-and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came.
That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.
For each Christmas, I followed the tradition---one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.
As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.
Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us. May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always. God bless---pass this along to your friends and loved ones.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

8th Day, The Faded Blue Blanket

The Faded Blue Blanket
Ladius and his brothers were shepherds and took good care of their father's sheep. One night when they were on the hillside, a bright star appeared. The star got brighter and brighter until it lit up the whole sky. Ladius was afraid. Then an angel appeared and Ladius was more afraid until the angel told them that Baby Jesus had been born that night in Bethlehem.
Ladius limped over to his brothers who were planning to set out for Bethlehem. His oldest brother said, "Who will tend the sheep?" Ladius looked down at his crippled foot and said, "I would only slow you down. Let me stay with the sheep." He tried not to show how sad he felt that he could not go to see the special baby.
His brothers said. "We must each take a gift." One brother chose to pick some meadow lilies to give to the baby; the other brother decided to give Jesus his precious ring.
"Here, take my blanket to him," said Ladius. It was very old and worn, and faded by the sun. "No, Ladius." said his brothers. "The blanket is too worn out to give to the baby. Besides, you will need it tonight if it gets cold."
His brothers left and Ladius was alone. He stood holding his blanket and tears came to his eyes. He wanted so very much to go and see the new little King and especially to give him a present. But his brothers were right, his blanket was too old and worn out.
"Are you coming, Ladius?" called a voice. Standing nearby was the same angel who had brought the news. "You wanted to see the child, didn't you?" "Yes," nodded Ladius, "but I must stay and tend the sheep."
"My name is Gabriel," said the angel. "Your sheep will be taken care of if you come with me. Take my hand and bring your blanket."
Suddenly, Ladius was outside a stable. He saw his brothers by the manger. Ladius started to call out to them, but the angle told him not to call out. "Look," said the angel. "The baby has no blanket covering him." "I would give him my blanket," said Ladius "but it is too old and faded." The angel whispered, "Give me the blanket." Then he took the blanket and quietly covered the Baby. But the blanket was no longer faded and worn; a wonderful thing had happened! Now the blanket was bright and beautiful!
Gabriel told Ladius, "Yours was the best gift of all, because you gave all that you had." And before he knew it, Ladius was back on the hillside watching over the sheep.
Soon his brothers returned. "Did you find Him?" asked Ladius. "Yes," smiled his brothers, "but tell us, where is your blanket?"
Ladius walked around to look and he noticed as he walked that he was not limping anymore! He also noticed that the faded, blue blanket was gone and it could not be found anywhere.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

7th Day, Check it Twice

"Check it twice"
By Bob Perks

She had been waiting for this moment for weeks now. All the other kids in her class had already told Santa what they wanted for Christmas. Her mom had been urging her to make her list to give to Santa, but she just couldn't make up her mind.

"Why is it so difficult for you to decide?" mom asked her. "I have so many things to do and I can't keep asking you for your list."

"I know what I want but I don't know how to write it," she replied.

"Your brother made his list up weeks ago. Of course he wants the entire toy store, but at least he has a list."

"He's just a child mother!" she replied.

"Oh, and you're so mature at the age of nine?"

"I'll be a teenager soon!" she replied.

Although she had four years to get ready for it, that was something mom didn't want to think about these days. Time was always a precious thing to her, even more so now that she lost her husband last year in a work related accident. Bills have been piling up and work difficult to find. On top of that, her own mother was seriously ill requiring her to visit her daily. The holidays are normally quite hectic, but this one was particularly difficult.

Finally, one day while mom was visiting grandma, the young girl sat down to make her list. She neatly folded the paper and placed inside the special green and red envelope, sealed it and left it on the table for Santa.

Just before bed time that day she told her mom that she did indeed make her Christmas wish list. Her and her brother would place their lists together on the kitchen table and "magically" the list would disappear by morning reaching Santa through what they called "North Pole air mail."

Just before heading to bed herself, mom sat down to read her daughter's list. Quietly and carefully opening it, she unfolded the paper. It was blank.

"This has never happened before," she thought. But how could she even ask her daughter about it. This was a letter to Santa and parents never see those things.

Lying in bed that night mom came up with the answer. They were planning on attending the church Christmas party the next night. Every year Santa would make a visit and give each child in attendance a small gift. Since Mom knew Santa personally, so she would ask him to make a point to speak to her daughter about the blank letter.

The party was festive and filled with holiday goodies. Music and laughter filled the small church basement as Santa made his entrance. Mom stood by her children waiting eagerly for him to speak to her daughter.

"Well, Jessica. How are you? I got your list this year but, I'm a bit confused. It was blank. I even checked it twice. Don't you want any presents this year?" Santa asked.

Jessica motioned for Santa to come closer.

"What I want this year you can't bring," she said.

"Oh, but Santa has lots of things for good little girls and boys," the old gentleman assured her.

"I don't want things," she said. "What I want only God can give me."

It suddenly became very quiet in the room.

"But you can help me, Santa," Jessica said.

"Anything, Jessica," Santa said in his real voice and quite out of character.

"Will you pray with me?" she asked.

"Of course, what do you need?"

"All I want this year is for my Mom to be happy and my grandma well," Jessica said.

There wasn't a dry eye in the room. Santa stood tall, clasped the hands of the little girl and began to pray.

"Oh, Heavenly Father, God of all that is good, please hear my prayer. Jessica has requested a very special gift this year. One that only You can provide. I am just the provider of things of this world. Things that have no real value. But you Oh, God, are the Provider of life and the Giver of everlasting love. This young child, with wisdom far beyond her years, asks nothing for herself, but for her mom to be happy and her grandmother well. Please hear the prayer of this child and bless her for her generous spirit all the days of her life."

And the people gathered there said "Amen!"

"Jessica," her mom said.

"Look, it happened already! I've never been happier in my life."

And so it will be for you, too, my friends. If you have made your list for Santa already, I urge you to "check it twice." For things bring only temporary happiness and God's Love eternal joy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

6th Day, The Filling Station

The Filling Station
The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. He had no decorations, no tree, no lights. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. There were no children in his life. His wife had gone.

He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through. Instead of throwing the man out, George, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the space heater and warmup.

"Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy. I'll just go"

"Not without something hot in your belly," George turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew. Made it myself. When you're done there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said.

There in the driveway was an old 53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked.

"Mister can you help me!" said the driver with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken."

George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold; the car was dead. "You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But mister. Please help...."The door of the office closed behind George as he went in. George went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building and opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting.

"Here, you can borrow my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. George turned and walked back inside the office.

"Glad I loaned em the truck. Their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new tires....... ." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The thermos was on the desk, empty with a used coffee cup beside it.

"Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought. George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator.

"Well, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on. "Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car.

As he was working he heard a shot being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Help me." George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention.

"Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The laundry company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound.

"Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease. "Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills.

"You hang in there. I'm going to get you an ambulance." George said, but the phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your police car."

He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio. He went back in to find the policeman sitting up.

"Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him. "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.

"None for me," said the officer.

"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city." Then George added: "Too bad I ain't got no donuts."

The officer laughed and winced at the same time. The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun.

"Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George. "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!" The cop was reaching for his gun.

"Put that thing away," George said to the cop. "We got one too many in here now."

He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need the money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pee shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry.

"I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job. My rent is due. My car got repossessed last week..."

George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Being stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee." the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn.

"Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other. "That guy works here," the wounded cop continued.

"Yep," George said. "Just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas, boy. And you too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems." George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box.

"Here you go. Something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."

George reached into the box again. A toy airplane, a racing car and a little metal truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier. "And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that, too. Count it as part of your first week's pay." George said. "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was getting a little chubby."
The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.

The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will become a rich man and share his wealth with many people.

That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again." The stranger moved toward the door.

"If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the man's old leather jacket and his torn pants turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

"You see, George, it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

Author Unknown

Thursday, December 17, 2009

5th Day, Davey and the First Christmas

Davey and the First Christmas
by Beth Vardon
Let's pretend that there was a boy, and Davey was his name,
Whose family lived in Bethlehem when Christmas time first came.

Davey had a special pet, a donkey small and gray,
And what the two of them did best was getting in the way!
Davey named the donkey Tim. He never road him though,
Either Time was built too high or Davey was to low!

Davey's father had an inn where people come to stay;
and lots and lots and lots of them were coming there one day.
His father was busy as six or seven bees!
So Davey said, "I want to help, can't I do something, please?
Tim would like to help you, too. Find a job for us to do!"

"Listen, son," his father said, "Last week you broke three jugs.
You scared my to best customers with your pet lightening bugs!
You tracked in mud on my clean floor, you tripped and dropped bread.
And though I loved the fish you caught, why leave them on my bed?
I've put up with your helpfulness as long as I am able.
So do me one big favor now, get out and clean the stable!'

Davey sadly went and stood beside the stable door.
It hardly seemed that anyone could clean that dirty floor.
He and Time both felt so bad they started in to cry,
But then (thought Davey), "Yes, we can! Well, anyhow let's try.

First, let's chase those chickens out. That's what we've got to do.
So Tim began to flap his ears while Davey shouted, "Shoooooo! "
The chickens clucked and flew and ducked, they fluttered wild and scary,
Until their feathers filled the air like snow in January.
Yes, Davey chased those chickens out, He and Tim together.
But now he had to get a sack and pick up every feather!

You should have see how hard they worked! They stacked up all the wheat,
They straightened up the harnesses till they were nice and neat.
They fought with spiders bravely till they chased out every bug.
And since we must admit the truth, they broke another jug!

The very biggest job of all was stacking up the hay.
Davey climbed up to the loft and put it all away.
"Look, Tim. You see how high it is? I'11 make just one more trip.
Then clear up the stable roof his feet began to slip!
Down came the hay and Davey, too. The stable looked so queer,
All you could see was piles of hay, one sandal, and one ear!
Slowly they came out on top, and Davey didn't whine,
Though hay stuck out all over him just like a porcupine!

He put the hay all back again and stacked it up with care,
But left one armload down below to fill the manger there.
So Davey's work was done at last, and when it all looked neat
He picked some flowers to trim the barn, and some for Tim to eat.

"I hope it's clean enough," he thought. "At least I did my best.
And feeling very, very tired, he curled up for a rest....
Who woke up Dave from his sleep? Just guess them if you can.
Mary was the woman's name, Joseph was the man.

Mary said, "Oh Joseph, look! This is a lovely place!"
Then, seeing Davey there, she said, with such shining face,
"Your father's inn had no more rooms, tonight we're staying here.
So tell me now, are you the boy who cleaned the stable, dear?
And did you donkey help you work? We want to thank him, too."
Though Davey was still half asleep, his heart was glad clear through.

So that is how a little boy, two thousand years ago,
Stayed on to hear the angels sing, and see the Star aglow.
As soon as Baby Jesus came to use the manger bed,
Then Davey's sack of feathers made a pillow for his head.
No one told Davey anymore that he was in the way.
His work had helped get ready for the world's first Christmas Day!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

4th Day, Eyes that See Beyong

(Okay so I did the math and today really should be the 4th day of Christmas. So you get an extra story!)
Eyes That See Beyond
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!" as he pounded his fat baby hands on high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and excitement and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.
I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose 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 patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo." Nobody, especially my husband and I thought the old man was cute. He was obviously a bum and a 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. In an act of total trust, love, and submission, Erik 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, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back with a gentle love I could not describe, but I felt in my soul. No two beings had for ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I stood awestruck.
The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and 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. The old man pried Erik from his chest unwillingly, longingly, as though he were in pain, and handed him to me. 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" over and over. 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 as if God asked, "Are you willing to share your son for a moment?" And I remembered that 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."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

4th Day, The legend of the Candy Cane

The Legend of the Candy Cane
According to legend there was a candy maker who wanted to invent a candy that was a witness to Christ. The result was the candy cane.
First of all he used a hard candy because Christ is the rock of ages. This hard candy was shaped so that it would resemble either a "J" for Jesus or a shepherd's staff.
He made it white to represent the purity of Christ.
Finally a red stripe was added to represent the blood Christ shed for the sins of the world and three thinner red stripes for the stripes he received on our behalf when the Roman soldiers whipped Him.
Sometimes a green stripe is added as a reminder that Jesus is a gift from God.
The flavor of the cane is peppermint which is similar to hyssop. Hyssop is in the mint family and was used in the Old Testament for purification and sacrifice. Jesus is the pure lamb of God which came to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
So the next time you see a candy cane hear the sermon it preaches: Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, is the sinless rock of ages who suffered and died for our sins.
May the peace and blessing of Christmas be with you today and always.

Monday, December 14, 2009

So sweet

I have to share one more thing with you tonight. My oldest was saying his prayers and right in the middle he said simply, "Merry Christmas". My husband and I laughed. It really is cute, but so profound to. I never would have thought to wish our Heavenly Father a Merry Christmas for it was His gift to us, His son, we celebrate this time of year.

3rd Day, Gift Wrapped Prayers

Gift Wrapped Prayers
by Mary Brown

I poked among toy shelves in a discount store searching for the perfect gift, a present for our two-year-old godson, Ryan. A fun toy, yet educational. A special one to remind him of his Uncle Alex and Aunt Mary, whom he sees only twice a year. Picking up box after box, I grew more discouraged.

Then I caught a few words of the Christmas carols playing in the store:
"How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given."

I wheeled my cart down a deserted sporting goods aisle and closed my eyes. "Oh, Jesus," I breathed, "yes, You are the only perfect gift. Help Ryan to know You and love You." Then I went back and peacefully chose some building blocks.

Later, that night, I spread shopping bags across my bed. As I taped shiny green paper with red rocking horses around Ryan's box of blocks, I found myself praying again for him. Pulling out another parcel, I thought: "Why pray only for Ryan because he's my godchild? Why not pray for Aunt Helen, who's battling Parkinson's disease, as I wrap her candle? And for the new job my husband Alex started? And for our dear friends the Richters who are moving away next month?"

As I cut paper, taped, tied ribbon and prayed for each recipient, love for each person swelled in my heart. God's presence filled the room and surrounded me on the bed brimming with gifts. I plan to wrap up each present with prayer again this year.

2nd Day, The Missing Jesus

The Missing Jesus

About a week before Christmas the family bought a new nativity scene. When they unpacked it they found 2 figures of the Baby Jesus. "Someone must have packed this wrong," the mother said, counting out the figures. "We have one Joseph, one Mary, three wise men, three shepherds, two lambs, a donkey, a cow, an angel and two babies. Oh, dear! I suppose some set down at the store is missing a Baby Jesus because we have 2."
"You two run back down to the store and tell the manager that we have an extra Jesus. Tell him to put a sign on the remaining boxes saying that if a set is missing a Baby Jesus, call 7126. "Put on your warm coats, it's freezing cold out there."
The manager of the store copied down mother's message and the next time they were in the store they saw the cardboard sign that read, "If you're missing Baby Jesus, call 7126."
All week long they waited for someone to call. Surely, they thought, someone was missing that important figurine. Each time the phone rang mother would say, "I'll bet that's about Jesus, "but it never was. Father tried to explain there are thousands of these scattered over the country and the figurine could be missing from a set in Florida or Texas or California. Those packing mistakes happen all the time. He suggested just put the extra Jesus back in the box and forget about it. "Put Baby Jesus back in the box! What a terrible thing to do said the children." "Surely someone will call," mother said. "We'll just keep the two of them together in the manger until someone calls."
When no call had come by 5:00 on Christmas Eve, mother insisted that father "just run down to the store" to see if there were any sets left. “You can see them right through the window, over on the counter," she said. "If are all gone, I'll know someone is bound to call tonight." "Run down to the store?" father thundered. "It's 15 below zero out there!"
"Oh, Daddy, we'll go with you," Tommy and Mary began to put on their coats. Father gave a long sigh and headed for the front closet. "I can't believe I'm doing this," he muttered.
Tommy and Mary ran ahead as father reluctantly walked out in the cold. Mary got to the store first and pressed her nose up to the store window. "They're all gone, Daddy," she shouted. "Every set must be sold." "Hooray, Tommy said "The mystery will now be solved tonight!" Father heard the news still a half block away and immediately turned on his heel and headed back home. When they got back into the house they noticed that mother was gone and so was the extra Baby Jesus figurine. "Someone must have called and she went out to deliver the figurine," my father reasoned, pulling off his boots. "You kids get ready for bed while I wrap mother's present."
Then the phone rang. Father yelled "answer the phone and tell'em we found a home for Jesus." But it was mother calling with instructions for us to come to 205 Chestnut Street immediately, and bring three blankets, a box of cookies and some milk.
"Now what has she gotten us into?" my father groaned as we bundled up again. "205 Chestnut. Why that's across town. Wrap that milk up good in the blankets or it will turn to ice before we get there. Why can't we all just get on with Christmas? It's probably 20 below out there now. And the wind is picking up. Of all the crazy things to do on a night like this."
When they got to the house at 205 Chestnut Street it was the darkest one on the block. Only one tiny light burned in the living room and, the moment we set foot on the porch steps, my mother opened the door and shouted, "They're here, Oh thank God you got here, Ray! You kids take those blankets into the living room and wrap up the little ones on the couch. I'll take the milk and cookies."
"Would you mind telling me what is going on, Ethel?" my father asked. "We have just walked through below zero weather with the wind in our faces all the way." "Never mind all that now," my mother interrupted. "There is no heat in this house and this young mother is so upset she doesn't know what to do. Her husband walked out on her and those poor little children will have a very bleak Christmas, so don't you complain. I told her you could fix that oil furnace in a jiffy.
My mother strode off to the kitchen to warm the milk while my brother and I wrapped up the five little children who were huddled together on the couch. The children's mother explained to my father that her husband had run off, taking bedding, clothing, and almost every piece of furniture, but she had been doing all right until the furnace broke down.
"I been doin' washin' and ironin' for people and cleanin' the five and dime," she said. "I saw your number every day there, on those boxes on the counter. When the furnace went out, that number kept going' through my mind. 7162 7162. "Said on the box that if a person was missin' Jesus, they should call you. That's how I knew you were good Christian people, willin' to help folks. I figured that maybe you would help me, too. So stopped at the grocery store tonight and I called your missus. I'm not missin' Jesus, mister, because I sure love the Lord. But I am missin' heat. I have no money to fix that furnace.
"Okay, Okay" said father. "You've come to the right place. Now lets see. You've got a little oil burner over there in the dining room. Shouldn't be too hard to fix. Probably just a clogged flue. I'll look it over, see what it needs."
Mother came into the living room carrying a plate of cookies and warm milk. As she set the cups down on the coffee table, I noticed the figure of Baby Jesus lying in the center of the table. It was the only sign of Christmas in the house. The children stared wide-eyed with wonder at the plate of cookies my mother set before them.
Father finally got the oil burner working but said "You need more oil. I'll make a few calls tonight and get some oil. Yes, sir, you came to the right place," father grinned.
On the way home father did not complain about the cold weather and had barely set foot inside the door when he was on the phone. "Ed, hey, how are ya, Ed?" "Yes, Merry Christmas to you, too. Say Ed, we have kind of an unusual situation here I know you've got that pickup truck. Do you still have some oil in that barrel on your truck? You do?"
By this time the rest of the family were pulling clothes out of their closets and toys off of their shelves. It was long after their bedtime when they were wrapping gifts. The pickup came. On it were chairs, three lamps, blankets and gifts. Even though it was 30 below, father let them ride along in the back of the truck.
No one ever did call about the missing figure in the nativity set, but as I grow older I realize that it wasn't a packing mistake at all. Jesus saves, that's what He does.

12 Days of Christmas!

Okay so I'm a few days late, but I love the 12 Days of Christmas. In fact in our family we do the 25 Days of Christmas. So to share that with you I will post a story each day until Christmas that helps us to see the true meaning of the Season; Christ's birth, His life, and His atonement.

The Origin of "The 12 Days of Christmas"

When most people hear of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" they think of the song. This song had its origins as a teaching tool to instruct young people in the meaning and content of the Christian Faith.

From 1558 to 1829 Roman Catholic's in England were not able to practice their faith openly so they had to find other ways to pass on their beliefs. The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is one example of how they did it and is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something of religious significance. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help young Christians learn their faith.

So the next time you hear "The Twelve Days of Christmas" consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its origins in the Christian faith.

The song goes: On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me... The "true love" represents God and the "me" who receives these presents as the Christian.

The "partridge in a pear tree" was Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God.

The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments - another gift from God.

The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abide. (I Cor. 13)

The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.

The "five golden rings" were the first five books of the bible also called the Books of Moses. (Pentateuch)

The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.

The "seven swans a-swimming" were the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12:8-11; Rom. 12; Eph. 4; I Pet. 4:1&11)

The "eight maids a-milking" were the eight beatitudes.

The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The "ten Lords a-leaping" were the Ten Commandments.

The "eleven pipers piping" were the eleven 'faithful' disciples.

The "twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed.

Trust in Him

Tonight while reading scriptures as a family this specific scripture reminded of the experience of last week.
Helaman 12:1, "And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him."
Oh how true, I learned this first hand. My heart is unsteady and I need to trust in the Lord more.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Will you have the courage?

Well I almost didn't. The promptings were so strong and I almost didn't listen. I'm so glad I did. We went down to be with my husband. He was on call and couldn't be more than an hour from his work for 7 full days. We can't go that long without him so we went to see him. We got there (the assisted living place where he stays) Wednesday night. Things were great! We ate dinner as a family and everything. Then that night our middle child woke up at 12:30am throwing up all over the place. We got it, and her, all cleaned up just in time to get back to bed, fall asleep, and then our youngest started. After we got it, and him, all cleaned up we did get a few hours of sleep. But the next day wasn't the best. I wasn't feeling very well and of course the two kids were not 100% yet. In the late morning I took the kids on a drive to get familiar with the area. Then our oldest threw up all over in the car! It wasn't pretty. My husband was able to leave work to help me clean it up. I started to pack. I was stressed out, tired, and I didn't feel good at all. I started to worry that I was going to get sick too. The last time I got the stomach flu I had to go to the hospital because it gave me my attacks. And here we were in the middle of no where. I was so anxious to get home. I was almost finished with the packing when the thought came, "Stay". I brushed it off. I really wanted to get home. It came over and over again. Finally after everything was cleaned up and the car almost packed I sat down and started to cry. I told my husband what I was feeling. He suggested that we could just get a hotel room. Instant peace came. So that is what we did. I got to rest. The kids were able to rest and play a little. We got some dinner, my oldest threw up again, but this time in the toilet so no mess. The next day, Friday, was so much better. I still wanted to go home and felt it was my decision. My husband cleared some time in the afternoon so we took the kids up in the mountains and cut down our Christmas tree. It was so much fun! A memory that I am so grateful for. My kids had a blast, and because of that they don't have the bad memories of being sick where dad works. Another thing I noticed, looking back, is the cell coverage is not good on the roads to his work. If something would have happened to me on the drive home I would not have been able to call anyone for help. I am so thankful for a Heavenly Father that cares, that protects, and tells us over and over and sometimes over again until we have the courage, faith, and trust in Him to do what He knows is best.

Monday, December 7, 2009

An Example

This year at tithing settlement our Bishop asked us to take home a calender he had prepared for us. Each month we are supposed to do something for someone in the ward. It doesn't have to be big, just so that we are taking care of each other. Being more mindful of those around us. I thought it was a great idea. A wonderful way for us to reach out to others and really become a close ward family.
Today my oldest, who was sick last night, asked me if he could shovel the walk way in front of our house. I said yes of course. I was touched that he would want to do something like that. He was gone for a while but I didn't think much of it, there was a lot of snow. When he came in he was so excited to tell me what he did. He said he saw that our neighbors walk way had snow on it too. So he decided to shovel it for them so they wouldn't slip and fall. He was so proud of him self for doing what the bishop had asked us all to do. He has such a tender heart. I can't wait to see what great and wonderful things he does with his life. He is an amazing example of love to me.


My husband is 'on call' this week down at his job. Which means he can't be any further than an hour from his office for 7 days. It started this morning. So last night we were trying to decide if he should go down then or wait until this morning. He was tired and because of the snow storm coming we both wanted there to be a little more light while he was driving. So he decided to stay the night. I didn't know what a blessing it was. In the middle of the night our oldest woke up struggling to breathe. I jumped out of bed to help him. We quickly applied oils to his chest, bundled him up, and took him out in the cold to help his lungs. It was croup. I didn't know that kids who were older (almost 6) could still get croup. He got it once last spring and we took him to the E.R.. When the doctor told me I didn't want to believe him. So last night we did all of the normal things, you know the onion pack, etc. And of course my husband gave him a priesthood blessing. All night I just kept thinking, what would I have done if he wasn't here? I know it was a blessing from Heavenly Father that helped us make the decision for him to stay home. I needed the help and Heavenly Father knew I would.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Today I taught in Relief Society. It was more different than any other time that I've taught. When you are teaching you are supposed to let the spirit dictate what happens in the lesson. You prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more but in the end it is what the sisters need and the spirit helps guide you. Yesterday I felt the spirit several time. Great comments were made by the sisters. But in the back of my mind I felt rushed. The thought, "hurry get through the lesson" wouldn't stop coming. It wasn't necessarily a peaceful thought either. And that is what I did. I got through all of my material. I felt like I rushed things. When I finished I sat down and immediately said a silent prayer asking for forgiveness. I felt I didn't deliver the lesson I needed to. It was a very sincere and heart felt little prayer. After the meeting several women told me thank you. I honestly felt like they were just being nice. It wasn't until one sister came to me with tears in her eyes and told me what she learned and how it helped her that I felt peace. I know she was sent by Heavenly Father to answer my prayer. The lesson was as he wanted it to be. The spirit was there and the sisters were taught by it. I am thankful for a caring Father in Heaven.