Here is a poem which our daughter-in-law Holly Mortberg wrote for her
Christmas greeting. I thought it might be of interest for you to include in
the Emmaus Homepage to share with others in the community.
submitted by RMortberg (RMortberg@aol.com)
ROYAL PAUPER BORN IN DEARTH
SOUGHT BY SHEPHERDS
CAN THIS BE OUR GOD ON EARTH
SON OF MAN
HIS OWN LIFE DID NOT DEFEND
SUFFERED AGONY ACUTE
HE, MY SINLESS SUBSTITUTE
FINAL BREATH AND
EMPTY OF THE LIFE HE GAVE
NO MORE INTERRED
HE THE CHEATER OF THE GRAVE
KING OF KINGS
GOD ROBED IN HUMANITY
GRACE AND PEACE
MY SAVIOR BRINGS
LIFE ETERNAL FOUND IN THEE
I saw him in the mall. He was about 5'6" and wearing a dark uniform that made you think of the air force or at least some branch of the military service. The cap was the kind you would see a policeman wearing...at least they used to wear them..short bream and looking like it was made of cardboard. On the collar of his coat on both sides was a large "S" in a circle of silver thread. He was holding a red metal bank that had a handle and he was constantly rattling the change in it.
Behind him were three Angel trees covered with little paper angels that had the names and needs of little children throughout Roanoke, VA. Around the trees were brightly wrapped packages of all shapes and sizes, and people were dropping off more of them as I sat and watched.
There was something else about this jolly fellow standing there. I did not notice it at first. He only used one hand. His other hand was withered looking, drawn back toward his elbow. It was apparently quite unusable. I walked up to him, put in a donation, and we started to talk. His name is Phillip Priest (it was on his name tag). What a great name. He's 36 years old and has worked with the Salvation Army since he was 14 (for 22 years!). He's taking classes to become an officer (ordained) and his girlfriend is too.
I asked him how the donations were going this year. ""Not as much as last year," he said. "People are kind of stingy this year for some reason." I stood there looking at the people passing by, most holding arm loads of presents to take to loved ones. It was obvious there was no shortage of money, anyway. I got up the courage to ask about his hand. He told me that he had it since he was born....that the midwife "yanked" on his arm in such a way that permanent damage was caused. But he was not bitter at all. It did not seem to bother him or hinder him in the least. And we talked about his plans, why he was doing what he was doing...and it all came around to the fact that he just loved Jesus and people...that he had no choice but to follow the path before him...
I thanked him for what he was doing and said that I would keep him in my prayers. You do, too. For in the midst of the mall, among thousands of people out looking for gifts for themselves or those they love, there stands a small man with a withered arm who spends day and night there seeking gifts not for himself but for others - little children, the hungry, the homeless...it was to me as if Jesus himself was standing there that day...
"Lord, thank you for Phillip Priest and all
those like him. They challenge and humble us in their unselfish giving and in
their priorities this season. They are surely closer to the kingdom than I often
am. Bless him in his studies and in his upcoming marriage. And thank you for his
witness in the midst of the mall... Amen."
written by Bass Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 sprung 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 had 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 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 I had been ready tonight.
In the words of this poem, the meaning is clear;
The coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There's only one life, and when comes the last call,
We'll find that the Bible was true after all!!
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, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them."
Mike loved kids -- all kids -- and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.
For each Christmas, I followed the tradition -- one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas.
It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal 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 the Christmas spirit this year and always.
With thanks to the author, whoever you are.
Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn't like them and anyway he didn't own any. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold.
Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend."
Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far.
What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister, who ran the household in their mother's absence.
All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing.
Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to.
Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime.
Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment. As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when salesperson after salesperson told him that he could not buy anything with only a dime.
He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering. Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you."
As Bobby waited, he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.
The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid.
Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.
"That will be ten cents young man." the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime. Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime! Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?"
This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, "Merry Christmas, son."
As he returned inside, the shop keepers wife walked out. "Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?"
Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, "A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.
When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars. When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses."
The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they
stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at
- Thomas Pucci
In the city of Chicago one cold, dark night as a blizzard was setting in, a little boy was selling newspapers on the corner. The people were passing by, trying to hurry home to their warm homes where they'd be in out of the cold.
The little boy was cold and wasn't selling many papers. He walked up to a policeman and said, "Mister, you wouldn't happen to know where a poor boy could find a warm place to sleep tonight do you?" He said, "You see, I live in a box up around the corner there, down the alley. It gets awful cold in there in the night and it sure would be nice to have a warm place to stay."
The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, "You go down the street to that big, white house and knock on the door. When they come to the door you just say 'John 3:16' and they'll let you in." And, so he did. He walked up the steps of the house and knocked on the door. A lady came to the door and he looked up and said, "John 3:16." The lady said, "Come on in, son." She took him in and sat him in front of a great big, old fireplace. And then she left. He sat there for a while and he thought to himself, "John 3:16, I don't understand it, but it sure does make a cold boy warm."
Later she came back and she asked him, "Are you hungry?" He said, "Well, just a little. I haven't eaten in a couple of days. I guess I could stand a little bit of food." She took him into the kitchen and sat him down at a table just full of nice food. He ate until he couldn't stand anymore and then he thought to himself again, "John 3:16, I don't understand it, but it sure does make a hungry boy full."
She took him off upstairs to a bathroom with a big, old bathtub filled with warm water. He sat there and he soaked for a while and as he soaked he thought to himself, "My, my, John 3:16, I don't understand it, but it sure does make a dirty boy clean. You know, I've not had a bath I guess in my whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in front of the big, old fire hydrant and they flushed them out."
She came in and got him and tucked him into a big, old feather bed, pulled the covers up around his neck, kissed him goodnight and turned out the light. As he lay there in the darkness he looked out the window. The snow was coming down, and it was cold and dark outside. He thought to himself, "My, John 3:16, I don't understand it, but it sure does make a tired boy rested."
The next morning she came back up and took him downstairs to that same big table full of food. After he ate, she took him back into that same split-bottom rocker in front of the fireplace. She took a big, old Bible, sat down in front of him, looked up at him and said, "Do you understand John 3:16?" And he said, No, ma'am, I don't. The first time I ever heard it was last night when the policeman told me to use it." So she opened the Bible to John 3:16 and began to explain to him Jesus. Right there in front of that big, old fireplace he gave his heart and his life to Jesus. He sat there and thought, "My, my John 3:16, I don't understand it, but it sure does make a lost boy saved."
You know I have to confess that I don't understand it either. How could God be willing to send His Son to die for me? And how Jesus would agree to do such a thing. I don't understand it either. But you know, it sure does make a lost person saved.
webservant note: Get your tissues!! When I was formatting the following story from Stephanie Garwood (Chrysalis 15) my eyes kept fogging up!
Date sent: Wed, 3 Dec 1997
Subject: a Christmas story
From: email@example.com (Stephanie L Garwood)
It was only four days before Christmas. The spirit of the season hadn't yet caught up with me, even though cars packed the parking lot of our local discount store. Inside the store, it was worse. Shopping carts and last minute shoppers jammed the aisles.
Why did I come today? I wondered. My feet ached almost as much as my head. My list contained names of several people who claimed they wanted nothing but I knew their feelings would be hurt if I didn't buy them anything.
Buying for someone who had everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift-buying anything but fun.
Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last minute items and proceeded to the long checkout lines. I picked the shortest but it looked as if it would mean at least a 20 minute wait.
In front of me were two small children - a boy of about 5 and a younger girl. The boy wore a ragged coat. Enormously large, tattered tennis shoes jutted far out in front of his much too short jeans. He clutched several crumpled dollar bills in his grimy hands.
The girl's clothing resembled her brother's. Her head was a matted mass of curly hair. Reminders of an evening meal showed on her small face. She carried a beautiful pair of shiny, gold house slippers. As the Christmas music sounded in the store's stereo system, the girl hummed along, off-key but happily.
When we finally approached the checkout register, the girl carefully placed the shoes on the counter. She treated them as though they were a treasure.
The clerk rang up the bill. "That will be $6.09," she said.
The boy laid his crumpled dollars atop the stand while he searched his pockets. He finally came up with $3.12. "I guess we will have to put them back, " he bravely said. "We will come back some other time, maybe tomorrow."
With that statement, a soft sob broke from the little girl. "But Jesus would have
loved these shoes, " she cried.
"Well, we'll go home and work some more. Don't cry. We'll come back," he said.
Quickly I handed $3.00 to the cashier. These children had waited in line for a long time. And, after all, it was Christmas.
Suddenly a pair of arms came around me and a small voice said, "Thank you lady."
"What did you mean when you said Jesus would like the shoes?" I asked.
The boy answered, "Our Mommy is sick and going to heaven. Daddy said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus."
The girl spoke, "My Sunday school teacher said the streets in heaven are shiny gold, just like these shoes. Won't Mommy be beautiful walking on those streets to match these shoes?"
My eyes flooded as I looked into her tear streaked face. "Yes" I answered, " I am sure she will."
Silently I thanked God for using these children to remind me of the true spirit of giving."
And the King shall answer and say unto them, "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch
as ye have done to the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto me".
Matthew 25 vs 40
From: Sandy Allnock (firstname.lastname@example.org)
'Twas the fight before Christmas when all through the house
Not a good deed was stirring, and Dad was a louse!
Their mother was angry and loaded with care,
'Cause the gift list was longer than ever this year!
The children were nagging for gifts worth a ton,
And Dad was convinced, "Christmas just isn't fun!"
With Mom's loud complaining, and Dad mad at all,
They loaded the car for the trip to the mall!
They stopped first at Sears to buy Grandma a platter,
At Wards Sis tried on jeans that confirmed she was fatter!
They stopped at the ATM for some more cash,
And saw their new neighbors with THEIR Christmas stash!
Hearts sank as they saw what their neighbors could spend,
"We've got to buy more!" Everybody chimed in!
When, what to their shopping red eyes should appear,
But a sign with the answer to their Christmas fear.
"Use credit, use VISA, use MasterCard,
Just run up their limits, it's not very hard!"
More rapid than eagles, the charges, they came
And they whistled and shouted and called them by name.
Now Nordstroms, now K-Mart, now Price Club and Kinneys,
To Broadway, to Target, we'll finish at Penney's!
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall,
Their packages piled up; they'd OUT-BOUGHT THEM ALL!!
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky,
So flew away hope of a Christmas of joys,
Not a problem was changed by the gifts and the toys.
And then, in a twinkling, Dad knew without doubt,
They needed to know, "What is Christmas about?"
That night in a dream he saw Bethlehem town,
And a babe in a manger with thorns for a crown!
And then what Dad saw brought the tears like a flood,
Christ's back was all tarnished where lashes brought blood.
A rugged old cross was his tortuous rack,
As he shifted it's weight to his now bleeding back.
His eyes, filled with burdens, 'twas nothing there merry,
The thorns had no roses, the night became eerie.
His dry thirsty mouth was drawn thin like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was plucked out cruelly, and slow.
The cross from his back held him high in his shame,
And the soldiers encircled his death with a game.
He had a kind face, in his eyes none saw hate,
And he shook when they laughed at his horrible fate.
He was dying for me, took my sins on himself,
And I wept when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A look in his eye, and the 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 he took all my sin, and then turned with a jerk.
"It is finished," he said. Death he willingly chose,
Then GLORY TO GOD, from the grave He arose!!
Dad sprang from his bed, shouting what Christmas gives.
"It's not all the gifts, but that Jesus now LIVES!"
So you'll hear them exclaim, on their next Christmas night,
Happy Christmas to all, WHO WILL KEEP CHRISTMAS RIGHT!!
I wrote this little poem while I was serving as table
leader for Cornerstone Chrysalis #17 way back in June 1996.
It kind of summs up my life "before Emmaus".
American radio broadcaster Paul Harvey told a modern parable about a religious skeptic who worked as a farmer.
One raw winter night the man heard an irregular thumping sound against the kitchen storm door. He went to a window and watched as tiny shivering sparrows, attracted to the evident warmth inside, beat in vain against the glass.
Touched, the farmer bundled up and trudged through fresh snow to open the barn door for the struggling birds. He turned on the lights and tossed some hay in a corner. But the sparrows, which had scattered in all directions when he emerged from the house, hid in the darkness, afraid.
The man tried various tactics to get them into the barn. He laid down a trail of Saltine cracker crumbs to direct them. He tried circling behind the birds to drive them toward the barn. Nothing worked. He, a huge, alien creature, had terrified them; the birds couldn't comprehend that he actually desired to help.
The farmer withdrew to his house and watched the doomed sparrows through a window. As he stared, a thought hit him like lightning from a clear blue sky: If only I could become a bird-one of them-just for a moment. Then I wouldn't frighten them so. I could show them the way to warmth and safety.
At that moment, another thought dawned on him. He grasped the reason Jesus was born.
And there to my astonishment
Stood folks I'd known on earth,
Some I'd judged and labeled
Unfit, of little worth.
Indignant words rose to my lips
But never were set free--
For every face showed stunned surprise,
Not one expected me!
"Imagine there is a bank which credits your account each morning with $86,400, carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day.
What would you do?
Draw out every cent, of course.
Well, everyone has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.
It allows no overdraft.
Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the records of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the "tomorrow". You must live in the present on today's deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success.
The clock is running. Make the most of today...
To realize the value of ONE YEAR
Ask a student who has failed his final exam.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH
Ask a mother who has given birth to a pre-mature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE DAY
Ask a daily wage laborer who has ten kids to feed.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR
Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet or . . .
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE
Ask a person who has missed the train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND
Ask a person who has survived an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLI-SECOND
Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.
Treasure every moment that you have.
And treasure it more because you shared it with
someone special.. special enough to have your time...
and remember time waits for no one... "
"Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man's life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it." Psalms 39:4-6 (NIV)
There was this Christian lady that had to do a lot of traveling for her
business so she did a lot of flying. But flying made her nervous so she
always took her Bible along with her to read and it helped
relax her. One time she was sitting next to a man. When he saw her pull
out her Bible he gave a little chuckle and went back to what he was doing.
After awhile he turned to her and asked "You don't really believe all that stuff in there do you?"
The lady replied "Of course I do it is the Bible."
He said "Well what about that guy that was swallowed by that whale?"
She replied "Oh, Jonah. Yes I believe that, it is in the Bible."
He asked "Well, how do you suppose he survived all that time inside the whale?"
The lady said "Well I don't really know I guess when I get to heaven I will ask him."
"What if he isn't in heaven?" the man asked sarcastically.
"Then you can ask him." Replied the lady.
Here's a story that brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of the danger of judging people. The story is forwarded from the Cursillo list by Dee Douglas (email@example.com)
"THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL"
By Roy Exum
When Tony Campolo was in Chattanooga last week to speak at the annual "Gathering of Men" breakfast, the noted sociologist told a story that begs to be repeated, especially on this day. It seems that there was a lady named Jean Thompson and when she stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in the fall, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved them all the same, that she would treat them all alike. And that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a boy named Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were unkempt and that he constantly needed a bath. Add to it the fact Teddy was unpleasant.
It got to the point during the first few months that she would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold 'X's and then marking the 'F' at the top of the paper biggest of all.
Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, nobody else seemed to enjoy him, either. Now at the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's records and because of things, put Teddy's off until the last. But, when she opened his file, she was in for a surprise.
His first-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright, inquisitive child with a ready laugh. He does work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around."
His second-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student and is well-liked by his classmates -- but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."
His third-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy continues to work hard but his mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."
Teddy's fourth-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class. He is tardy and could become a problem."
By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem but Christmas was coming fast. It was all she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard on that last day before the vacation would begin. Her children brought her presents, all in gay ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy's, which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of a scissored grocery bag.
Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents and some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet, with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne. She stifled the laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and she dabbed some of the perfume behind the other wrist.
At the end of the day, as the other children joyously raced from the room, Teddy Stoddard stayed behind, just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to." As soon as Teddy left, Mrs. Thompson knelt at her desk and there, after the last day of school before Christmas, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading and writing and speaking. Instead, she began to teach children. And Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called "Teddy".
As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded and, on days that there would be an important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember that cologne. By the end of the year he had become one of the smartest children in the class and...well, he had also become the "pet" of the teacher who had once vowed to love all of her children exactly the same.
A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he'd had in elementary school, she was his favorite.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. And then he wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still his favorite teacher of all time.
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, that he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favorite teacher.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still his favorite teacher but that now his name was a little longer. And the letter was signed, "Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D."
The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said that...well, that he'd met this girl and was to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering...well, if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother of the groom.
You'll have to decide yourself whether or not she wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. But, I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like... well, just like she smelled many years before on the last day of school before the Christmas Holidays began.
The following Essay was borrowed from
EcuNet- Eculaugh Clean Christian Joke of the Day
They don't archive old material and I felt like this one was a "keeper". I hope they don't mind me putting it here!
Written by Danny Dutton, age 8, from Chula Vista, California, for his third grade homework assignment to "Explain God". Read on...
"One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die so there will be enough people to take care of things here on earth. He doesn't make grown-ups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way, He doesn't have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk, He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.
God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times besides bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV on account of this. Since He hears everything, not only prayers, there must be a terrible lot of noise in His ears, unless He has thought of a way to turn it off.
God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere, which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting His time by going over your parents' heads asking for something they said you couldn't have.
Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista. At least there aren't any who come to our church.
Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified Him. But He was good and kind like His Father and He told His Father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said OK. His Dad (God) appreciated everything that He had done and all His hard work on earth so He told Him He didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So He did. And now He helps His Dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones He can take care of Himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important, of course. You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to hear you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.
You should always go to Church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God. Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong! And, besides, the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway.
If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared in the dark or when you can't swim very good and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids. But you shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime He pleases. And that's why I believe in God."
submitted by Mary E. Kisner, Rector, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Troy, Pa. Diocesan Council, Dio. of Bethlehem
from: Penney Rahm
a friend of Jesus
The following lines were penned by a young pastor in Africa and tacked to a
wall in his house. Could you have written these words?
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is
narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission
I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up,
paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ.
I am a disciple of Jesus.
I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me.
And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me--my banner will be clear!
So far today, God, I've done all right. I haven't gossiped, haven't lost my temper, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or over-indulgent. I'm thankful for that.
But in a few minutes, Lord, I'm going to get out of bed, and from then on, I'm probably going to need more help!"
written by Cary Wood, Ashburn GA
God Bless, De Colores. Steve Sanders
From: Lucinda Stewart (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: (Fwd) .THIS WILL MAKE YOUR DAY
This story came across my Early Childhood Education mailing list. I though you might enjoy it as well.
A young girl was very late in coming home from school. Her mother watched the clock nervously and with growing concern. Finally she arrived. Her mother, nearly frantic at that point, hugged her daughter, and after giving her a thorough appraisal and realizing nothing appeared to be wrong, demanded, "Where were you? What took you so long? Haven't I told you to be home by 4 o'clock?"
The girl answered her mother's first question, "I was at Mary's house." "And what was so important that you couldn't get home on time?" her mother scolded. Her daughter replied, "Her favorite doll got broken."
"Did you break it?" the mother asked. When her daughter shook her head "no," she then asked, "Could the doll be fixed?" Again, the girl replied with a "no." Both bewildered and frustrated, the mother asked a third time, "So what was the point of staying so long?"
Tears began to well up in the little girl's eyes and stream down her face under her mother's inquisition. "I helped her cry," she said softly.
Central Ohio Emmaus Community
Womens' Walk #55, Table of Johanna
by Dan Millman
"So you think I'm courageous?" she asked.
"Yes, I do."
"Perhaps I am. But that's because I've had some inspiring teachers. I'11 tell you about one of them. Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying,'Yes, I'11 do it if it will save Liza.'
"As the transfusion progressed, he lay in a bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice,'Will I start to die right away?'
"Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give her all his blood.
"Yes, I've learned courage," she added, "because I've had inspiring teachers."
Submitted and written by Mike Chambers (email@example.com)
I live near and work in Houston. From a climatological perspective, God may have performed initial trials in developing the weather for Hell here. As I drive to work each day I take the 610 loop and exit from there to my office. It's the most heavily travelled traffic corridor in the United States, with attendant heat, noise and pollution that you would expect.
At the corner of 610 and San Felipe last year, a black man sold
newspapers for the Houston Chronicle. He'd wander out into traffic
for those who held up some quarters and deliver several pounds of
newsprint. He was big hulk of a man. What drew my attention to him
though was his smile. Though we never met, the joy of Christ was in
this man. I could tell, because he couldn't keep it from
pouring out of his face into the world around him. There in the middle
of hellish heat, defeaning noise and smothering exhaust this man spread
joy into a busy world. He would wave at everyone, not just his regular
customers. And after a while, everyone that turned west on San Felipe
in the morning began waving back.
It just felt good.
Then one day a few months ago, he disappeared, and was replaced by a small white boy, dirty and unkempt, who had no joy in him. No smile. No wave. Just selling newpapers in the heat. Yet a funny thing happened on the way to work. You see we commuters all had become so accustomed to sharing God's peace in a silent wave and a smile that when we pass that corner, we continued to do it. God knows how many of us there are, hundreds for sure. Maybe thousands.
Which leads us to the work of God in changing hearts. If you stand on a street corner in hellish heat and humidity, and day after day a thousand people wave at you, something happens. And it did. A few days later, he began waving back.
And as I made the turn this morning, I think he may have even smiled.
The first purpose of prayer is to know GOD.
"I lift up my eyes to the hills where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth" Psalm 121:1,2
A house party once was held in an English manor. As was customary, the after-dinner entertainment featured recitations and songs from the guests. A famous actor was present, and when it came his turn to perform, he recited the Twenty third Psalm. His rendition of the familiar psalm was magnificent and received with much applause.
Later in the evening, the hostess noticed her little old great-aunt dozing in the corner of the room She was almost completely deaf and has missed most of the evening's entertainment. Still, the other guests urged her to recite something. Since most people of that era knew many poems by memory, the hostess felt sure she would recite a poem. To everyone's surprise, she stood up, her voice quivering, and recited the Twenty third Psalm! When she finished there were tears in most eyes, including those of the famous actor. One of the guests later approached the actor and said, "You recited that psalm absolutely superbly. It was incomparable. So why were we so moved by that funny, little old lady?" He replied, "I know the psalm. She knows the Shepherd".
Prayer is our foremost way of getting better acquainted with Him.
from BBFI Missionary to Zaire/Zambia Patrick Coleman
If you know the author of this poem, please contact Brother Coleman.
He sits by himself at a table for two.
The uniformed waiter returns to his side and asks, "Would you like to go ahead and order, sir?"
The man has, after all, been waiting since seven o'clock -- almost half an hour.
"No, thank you," the man smiles. "I'll wait for her a while longer."
"How about some more coffee?"
The man sits, his clear blue eyes gazing straight through the flowered centerpiece. He fingers his napkin, allowing the sounds of light chatter, tinkling silverware, and mellow music to fill his mind. He is dressed in sport coat and tie. His dark brown hair is neatly combed, but one stray lock insists on dropping to his forehead. The scent of his cologne adds to his clean-cut image. He is dressed up enough to make a companion feel important, respected, loved. Yet he is not so formal as to make one uncomfortable. It seems that he has taken every precaution to make others feel at ease with him. Still, he sits alone.
The waiter returns to fill the man's coffee cup.
"Is there anything else I can get for you, sir?"
"No, thank you."
The waiter remains standing at the table. Something tugs at his curiosity.
"I don't mean to pry, but..."
His voice trails off. This line of conversation could jeopardize his tip.
"Go ahead," the man encourages.
His is strong, yet sensitive, inviting conversation.
"Why do you bother waiting for her?" the waiter finally blurts out.
This man has been at the restaurant other evenings, always patiently alone.
Says the man quietly, "Because she needs me."
"Are you sure?"
"Well, sir, no offense, but assuming that she needs you, she sure isn't acting much like it. She's stood you up three times just this week."
The man winces, and looks down at the table. "Yes, I know."
"Then why do you still come here and wait?"
"Cassie said that she would be here."
"She's said that before," the waiter protests. "I wouldn't put up with it. Why do you?"
Now the man looks up, smiles at the waiter, and says simply, "Because I love her."
The waiter walks away, wondering how one could love a girl who stands him up three times a week. The man must be crazy, he decides. Across the room, he turns to look at the man again. The man slowly pours cream into his coffee. He twirls his spoon between his fingers a few times before stirring sweetener into his cup. After staring for a moment into the liquid, the man brings the cup to his mouth and sips, silently watching those around him. He doesn't look crazy, the waiter admits. Maybe the girl has qualities that I don't know about. Or maybe the man's love is stronger than most. The waiter shakes himself out of his musings to take an order from a party of five. The man watches the waiter, and wonders if he's ever been stood up. The man has, many times. But he still can't get used to it. Each time, it hurts. He's looked forward to this evening all day. He has many things, exciting things, to tell Cassie. But, more importantly, he wants to hear Cassie's voice. He wants her to tell him all about her day, her triumphs, her defeats....anything, really. He has tried so many times to show Cassie how much he loves her. He'd just like to know that she cares for him, too. He sips sporadically at the coffee, and loses himself in thought, knowing that Cassie is late, but still hoping that she will arrive. The clock says 9:30 when the waiter returns to the man's table.
"Is there anything I can get for you?"
The still empty chair stabs at the man.
"No, I think that will be all for tonight. May I have the check please?"
When the waiter leaves, the man picks up the check. He pulls out his wallet and signs. He has enough money to have given Cassie a feast. But he takes out only enough to pay for his five cups of coffee and the tip. Why do you do this, Cassie? His mind cries as he gets up from the table.
"Good-bye," the waiter says, as the man walks towards the door.
"Good night. Thank you for your service."
"You're welcome, sir," says the waiter softly, for he sees the hurt in the man's eyes that his smile doesn't hide. The man passes a laughing young couple on his way out, and his eyes glisten as he thinks of the good time he and Cassie could have had. He stops at the front and makes reservations for tomorrow. Maybe Cassie will be able to make it, he thinks.
"Seven o'clock tomorrow for party of two?" the hostess confirms.
"That's right," the man replies.
"Do you think she'll come?" asks the hostess. She doesn't mean to be rude, but she has watched the man many times alone at his table for two.
"Someday, yes. And I will be waiting for her." The man buttons his overcoat and walks out of the restaurant, alone. His shoulders are hunched, but through the windows the hostess can only guess whether hey are hunched against the wind or against the man's hurt. As the man turns toward home, Cassie turns into bed. She is tired after an evening out with friends. As she reaches toward her night stand to set the alarm, she sees the note that she scribbled to herself last night.
"7:00 - Spend some time in prayer," it says.
Darn, she thinks. She forgot again. She feels a twinge of guilt, but quickly pushes it aside. She needed that time with her friends. And now she needs her sleep. She can pray tomorrow night. Jesus will forgive her. And she's sure he doesn't mind.
submitted by Stephanie Garwood, Cornerstone Chrysalis 15
A ten year old boy was failing math. His parents tried everything from tutors to hypnosis, but to no avail. Finally, at the insistence of a family friend, they decided to enroll their son in a private Catholic school.
After the first day, the boy's parents were surprised when he walked in after school with a stern, focused and very determined expression on his face, and went right past them straight to his room, where he quietly closed the door.
For nearly two hours he toiled away in his room - with math books strewn about his desk and the surrounding floor. He emerged long enough to eat, and after quickly cleaning his plate, went straight back to his room, closed the door, and worked feverishly at his studies until bedtime. This pattern continued ceaselessly until it was time for the first quarter report card.
The boy walked in with his report card -- unopened -- laid it on the dinner table and went straight to his room. Cautiously, his mother opened it, and to her amazement, she saw a bright red "A" under the subject of MATH. Overjoyed, she and her husband rushed into their son's room, thrilled at his remarkable progress.
"Was it the nuns that did it?", the father asked. The boy only shook his head and said, "No."
"Was it the one-on-one tutoring? The peer-mentoring?"
"The textbooks? The teachers? The curriculum?"
"Nope," said the son. "On that first day, when I walked in the front door and saw that guy they nailed to the 'plus sign,' I just knew they meant business!"
Sent to me by Becky Norton
The story is told of an old Scotsman who was quite ill. The family called for their minister. As the pastor entered the man's room and sat down, he noticed another chair on the opposite side of the bed. The pastor said, "Well, I see I'm not your first visitor for the day." The old man looked up, puzzled for a moment, then realized that the pastor had noticed the empty chair drawn close to his bedside. "Well pastor," he said, "let me tell you about that chair. Many years ago I found it difficult to pray. So one day I shared this problem with my pastor. He told me not to worry about kneeling or about placing myself in some pious posture. Instead, he said, 'Just sit down, put a chair opposite you, imagine JESUS sitting in it, and then talk wit HIM as you would a friend.'" The old Scot added, "I've been doing that ever since." A short time later, the daughter of the old man called the minister to tell him her father had died very suddenly. She said, "I had just gone to lie down for an hour or two. He seemed to be sleeping so comfortably. When I went back he was gone. What was odd was that his hand was on the empty chair at the side of the bed. Isn't that strange?" The minister replied, "No, that's not so strange. I think I understand."
'Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried
"Who'll start the bidding for me?"
"A dollar, a dollar," then two! Only two?
"Two dollars and who'll make it three?
"Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three..."But, no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.
The Music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: "What am I bid for the old violin?"
And he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two?
Two thousand! And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice;
And going and gone," said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand
What changed it's worth?" Swift came the reply:
"The touch of a master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine;
A game-and he travels on.
He is "going" once, and "going" twice,
He's "going" and almost "gone"
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that's wrought
By the touch of the Master's hand.
Myra B. Welch
The upstate NY man was rich in almost every way. His estate was worth millions. He owned houses, land, antiques and cattle. But though on the outside he had it all, he was very unhappy on the inside. His wife was growing old, and the couple was childless. He had always wanted a little boy to carry on the family legacy.
Miraculously, his wife became pregnant in her later years, and she gave birth to a little boy. The boy was severely handicapped, but the man loved him with his whole heart. When the boy was five, his mom died. The dad drew closer to his special son. At age 13, the boy's birth defects cost him his life and the father died soon after from a broken heart.
The estate was auctioned before hundreds of bidders. The first item offered was a painting of the the boy. No one bid. They waited like vultures for the riches. Finally, the poor housemaid, who helped raise the boy, offered $5 for the picture and easily took the bid. To every-one's shock, the auctioneer ripped a hand written will from the back of the picture. This is what it said: "To the person who thinks enough of my son to buy this painting, to this person I give my entire estate."
The auction was over. The greedy crowd walked away in shock and dismay. How many of us have sought after what we thought were true riches only to find out later that our Father was prepared to give us His entire estate if we had only sought after His Son alone? (Shared by Duane E. Berry)
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in a room. There were no distinguishing features in this room save the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked". I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.
A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed".
The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read", "Lies I Have Told", "Comfort I Have Given", "Jokes I Have Laughed At". Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents". I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To", I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts", I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.
An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title --- "People I Have Shared the Gospel With". The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.
And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.
But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?
Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arms around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.
Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.
"No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine.
It was written with His Blood!
He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."
I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.