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National Homeland Security Knowledgebase
UPDATE...AS OF 1/26/06 I AM KE7GGV(TECH)....
Write: Gerald.R.Gaule 720 13Th Avenue S.E. Albany Oregon,97322-3228 USA 73 and 75. (73 is ham radio jargon for "Best Wishes", and 75 is for "May God Bless You and Your Family)...
Albany, OR (Linn) Longitude: 123° 6' 17" W (-123.1047°) Latitude: 44° 38' 12" N (44.6367°) Grid: CN84 Also latitude 44.629, longitude -123.094
NW HAMS(Oregon-Washington-Idaho)is dedicated to QRP HAM practices and promotes goodwill of ALL AMATEUR RADIO.There are No Dues, No Officers, and No Scheduled Meetings..BE NICE ON THE AIR…CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OK…PLEASE DO NOT BE RUDE…ANYONE WELCOME!!.. All Operators Welcome ham radio nets,no numbers or dues required.(NO FLAMING!!!)
RAGCHEW CAN USE QRP **28,385 KHz(SSB)10 METERS IF BUSY **28,388(3+KHZ)from the other Freq… The net is dedicated to hams that enjoy talking about their daily lives (work, interests, vacations, radio, etc.) and like to listen to others share. 6-9 PM(PST)SUNDAYS-(9PM-12AM)EST..0200-0500 UTC WINTER…7-10PM(PST)SUNDAY(10PM-1AM)EST SUN-MON MORNING…FOR SUMMER-0200-0500…TO BE PLAIN EITHER SUMMER OR WINTER…0200-0500 UTC…
I will ALSO monitor..The WA7ABU Repeater..Located in the Silverton Hills about 15 miles East of Salem, the repeaters transmit on **145.29 MHz..
BE AN ELMER.....HELP SOMEONE!!..NOW MIND YOU...NOT TO JUMP THE GUN....WHEN I PASS...I will do this....Sorry..not being Cocky...but being honest and optimistic!!!!!..Vi Minore, Plus Gaudium Less Power More Fun!!!!
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phi 4:6-7 (NKJV)
I will keep you posted(asap)when I get my License and thus I will be the control operator/primary operator...and I will MONITOR THE ABOVE** Marked Frequencies....thank you...73 Again....take care...
I will be using E-QSL..to save$$
RAGCHEWING ENCOURAGED!!...MORE IS LESS!!!!!"EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL,SPECIAL PRIVILEGES FOR NONE."
"The rules were set down long ago when the spikes went in the wood." -- Larry Norman
How fitting….to share with you…
Teaching about Giving to the Needy
1"Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do--blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. 4Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.
Teaching about Prayer and Fasting
5"And now about prayer. When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you. 7"When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. 8Don't be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 9Pray like this:Our Father in heaven,may your name be honored. 10May your Kingdom come soon.May your will be done here on earth,just as it is in heaven. 11Give us our food for today,* 12and forgive us our sins,just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. 13And don't let us yield to temptation,but deliver us from the evil one.* 14"If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. 16"And when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, who try to look pale and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I assure you, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18Then no one will suspect you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in secret. And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.
Teaching about Money and Possessions
19"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. 20Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. 21Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be. 22"Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. 23But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be! 24"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 25"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? 26Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. 27Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. 28"And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, 29yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith! 31"So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. 32Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, 33and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. 34"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.
FROM KLOVE WEBSITE..
Don't read this until you can read it all without interruption...
The day is over, you are driving home. You tune in your radio. You hear a little blurb about a little village in India where some villagers have died suddenly, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before. Its not influenza, but three or four people are dead, and its kind of interesting, and they are sending some doctors over there to investigate it. You don't think much about it, but on the way home from church, you hear another radio spot. Only they say its not three villagers, its 30,000 villagers in the back hills of this particular area of India, and it's on TV that night. CNN runs a little blurb; people are heading there from the disease control center in Atlanta because this disease strain has never been seen before.
By Monday morning when you get up, its the lead story. For its not just India; its Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and before you know it, you're hearing this story everywhere and they have coined it "the mystery flu." The President has made some comment that he and everyone are praying and hoping that all will go well over there. But everyone is wondering, "How are we going to contain it?"
That's when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe. He is closing their borders. No flights from India, Pakistan or any of the countries where this thing has been seen. And that's why that night you are watching a little bit of CNN before going to bed. Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman is translating from a French news program into English; There's a man lying in a hospital in Paris dying of the mystery flu. It has come to Europe.
Panic strikes. As best they can tell, once you get it you have it for a week before you know it. Then you have four days of unbelievable symptoms. And then you die. Britain closes its borders, but it's too late; South Hampton, Liverpool, North Hampton.....all infected. Tuesday morning the President of the United States makes the following announcement: "Due to a national security risk, all flights to and from Europe and Asia have been canceled. If your loved ones are overseas, I'm sorry. They cannot come back until we find a cure for this thing."
Within four days our nation has been plunged into unbelievable fear. People are talking about "What if it comes to this country"? Preachers on Tuesday are saying it is the scourge of God. It's Wednesday night and you are at a church prayer gathering when somebody runs in from the parking lot and says "Turn on a radio, turn on a radio!" And while the church listens to a little transistor radio with a microphone stuck up to it, the announcement is made. Two women are lying in a Long Island hospital dying from the mystery flu. Within hours it seems, this thing just sweeps across the country. People are working around the clock trying to find an antidote. Nothing is working. California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts. It's as though it's just sweeping in from the borders.
And then all of a sudden the news comes out. The code has been broken. A cure can be found. A vaccine can be made. Its going to take the blood of somebody who hasn't been infected and so, sure enough, all through the Midwest! , through all those channels of emergency broadcasting, every one is asked to do one simple thing: Go to your local hospital and have your blood tested. That's all we ask of you. When you hear the sirens go off in your neighborhood, please make your way quickly, quietly and safely, to the hospitals. Sure enough, when you and your family get down there late on that Friday night, there is a long line and they've got nurses and doctors coming out and pricking fingers and taking blood and putting labels on it. Your wife and your kids are out there, and they take your blood type and they say, "Wait here in the parking lot and if we call your name you can be dismissed and go home." You stand around, scared, with your neighbors, wondering what in the world is going on and if this is the end of the world.
Suddenly a young man comes running out of the hospital screaming. He's yelling a name and waving a clipboard. What? HE! e yells it again! And your son tugs on your jacket and says, "Daddy, that's me." Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy. "Wait a minute. Hold on!" And they say, "It's okay, his blood is clean. His blood is pure. We want to make sure he doesn't have the disease. We think he has got the right type." Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses crying and hugging one another; some are even laughing. Its the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week. An old doctor walks up to you and says, "Thank you sir. Your son's blood type is perfect. It's clean, it's pure, and we can make the vaccine."
As the word begins to spread all across that parking lot full of folks, people are screaming and praying and laughing and crying. But then the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your wife aside and says, "May we see you for a moment? We didn't realize that the donor would be a minor and we need you t o sign a consent form." You begin to sign and then you see that the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty. "H-h-h-ow many pints?" you ask. And that is when the old doctor's smile fades. "We had no idea it would be a little child. We weren't prepared. We need it all. But- but... I don't understand. He's my only son! "We are talking about the world here. Please sign. We... we need it all!" But can't you give him a transfusion?" If we had clean blood we would. Please, will you please sign?"
In numb silence, you do. Then they say, "Would you like to have a moment with him before we begin?" Could you walk back? Could you walk back to that room where he sits on a table saying, "Daddy? Mommy? What's going on? Could you take his hands and say, "Son, your mommy and I love you and we would never ever let anything happen to you that ! didn't just have to be. Do you understand that?" And when that old doctor came back in and said, "I'm sorry, we've got to get started. People all over the world are dying." Could you leave? Could you walk out while he is saying, "Dad? Mom? Dad? Why... why have you forsaken me?"
And then next week, when they have the ceremony to honor your son, and some folks sleep through it, and some folks don't even bother to come because they have better things to do, and some folks come with a pretentious smile and just pretend to care. Would you want to jump up and say, "EXCUSE ME! MY SON DIED FOR YOU! DON'T YOU EVEN CARE? DOES IT MEAN NOTHING TO YOU?"
I wonder, is that what God wants to say? "MY SON DIED FOR YOU! DOES IT MEAN NOTHING? DON'T YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I CARE?"
Seeing it from Our Father's eyes should break our hearts. Maybe now we can begin to! comprehend the great love he has for all of us.
So that' s the gospel in a nutshell. Author Unknown to me Do You Believe in God? Are you willing to risk your soul spending eternity in Hell because you didn't What if? What if Jesus really did die on the cross for our sins? What if What if the way to an eternity in Heaven is as simple as confessing to Jesus that your a sinner and placing you trust in Christ? What if ? What do you really have to to lose by accepting Christ as your savior? An eternity with God in heaven? What if ? What if you continue on your present path without believing any of this is true? Are you willing to A Columbine Truth Very powerful message....from the parent of a Columbine victim... On Thursday, May 27, 1999, Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful. It needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating, and deeply personal. There is no doubt that God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness. The following is a portion of the transcript-- --both good & evil exists in the hearts of men and women. "We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.
The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart. "In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent.
I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy - it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. "I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew I would be speaking here today.
Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our makeup, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and reek havoc. Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? "We have refused to honor God, and in doing so, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. "We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts. Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers. The young people of our nation hold the key. There is a spiritual awakening taking place that will not be squelched! "We do not need more religion. We do not need more gaudy television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage. We do not need more million dollar church buildings built while people with basic needs are being ignored. We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God!
"As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes He did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School - prayer was brought back to our schools." "Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA - I give to you a sincere challenge. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone! My daughter's death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!:" Be courageous enough to do what the media did not, let the nation "hear" this man's speech. Please send this out to everyone you can.!!! New School Prayer (This was written by a teen in Baghdad, Arizona. This is incredible and unfortunately so true. Please pass this page on to a friend.) Now I sit me down in school Where praying is against the rule For this great nation under God Finds mention of Him very odd.
If Scripture now the class recites, It violates the Bill of Rights. And anytime my head I bow Becomes a Federal matter now.
Our hair can be purple, orange or green, That's no offense; it's a freedom scene. The law is specific, the law is precise. Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice. For praying in a public hall Might offend someone with no faith at all.
In silence alone we must meditate, God's name is prohibited by the state. We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks, And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks. They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible. To quote the Good Book makes me liable.
We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen, And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King. It's "inappropriate" to teach right from wrong, We're taught that such "judgments" do not belong. We can get our condoms and birth controls, Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles. But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
It's scary here I must confess, When chaos reigns the school's a mess. So, Lord, this silent plea I make: Should I be shot; My soul please take!
If you aren't ashamed to do this, please follow the directions. Jesus said, " If you are ashamed of me," I will be ashamed of you before my Father."
Not ashamed - Pass this on . . . only if you mean it. Yes, I do Love God. He is my source of existence and Savior. He keeps me functioning each and everyday. Without Him, I will be nothing. Without him, I am nothing but with Him I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me. Phil 4:13. This is the simplest test . . . if you Love God, and are not ashamed of all the marvelous things he has done for you. send this page to ten people and the person who sent it to you! The Pastor's Pen - By: JUAN NINGUNO
As you know, we've been working real hard in our town to get prayer back in the schools. Finally, the school board approved a plan of teacher-led prayer with the children participating at their own option. Children not wishing to participate were to be allowed to stand out in the hallway during the prayer time. We hoped someone would sue us so we could go all the way to the Supreme Court and get that old devil-inspired ruling reversed. Naturally, we were all excited by the school board's action. As you know, our own little Billy (not so little, any more, though) is now in the second grade. Of course, Margaret and I explained to him no matter what the other kids did, he was going to stay in the classroom and participate.
After the first day of school, I asked him, "How did the prayer time go?" "Fine." "Did many kids go out into the hallway?" "Two." "Excellent. How did you like your teacher's prayer?" "It was different, Dad. Real different from the way you pray." "Oh? Like how?" "She said, 'Hail, Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners...'" The next day I talked with the principal. I politely explained I wasn't prejudice against Catholics but I would appreciate Billy being transferred to a non-Catholic teacher. The principal said it would be done right away. At supper that evening I asked Billy to say the blessings. He slipped out of his chair, sat cross-legged on the floor, closed his eyes, raised his hands palms up and began to hum. You'd better believe I was at the principal's office at eight o'clock the next morning. "Look," I said. "I don't really know much about these Transcendental Meditationists, but I would feel a lot more comfortable if you could move Billy to a room where the teacher practices and older, more established religion.'" That afternoon I met Billy as soon as he walked in the door after school. "I don't think your going to like Mrs. Nakasone's prayer, either, Dad." "Out with it." "She kept calling God 'O Great Buddha...'" The following morning I was waiting for the principal in the school parking lot. "Look, I don't want my son praying to the Eternal Spirit of whatever or to Buddha. I want him to have a teacher that prays in Jesus' name!" "What about Bertha Smith?" "Excellent." I could hardly wait to hear about Mrs. Smith's prayer. I was standing on the front steps of the school when the final bell rang. "Well?" I asked Billy as we walked towards the car. "Okay." "Okay what?" "Mrs. Smith asked God to bless us and ended her prayer in Jesus name, amen - just like you." I breathed a sigh of relief. "Now we're getting some place." "She even taught us a verse of scripture about prayer," said Billy. I beamed. "Wonderful. What was the verse?" "Let's see..." he mused for a moment. " 'And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.'" We had reached the car. "Fantastic," I said, reaching for the door handle. Then I paused. I couldn't place the scripture. "Billy, did Mrs. Smith say what book that verse was from?" "Third Nephi, chapter 19, verse 18." "Third what?" "Nephi," he said, "It's in the Book of Mormon." The school board doesn't meet for a month. I've given Billy very definite instructions that at prayer time each day he's to go out into the hallway. I plan to be at that board meeting. If they don't do something about this situation, I'll sue. I'll take it all the way to the Supreme Court if I have to. I don't need the schools or anybody else teaching my son about religion. We can take care of that ourselves at home and at church, thank you very much.
Your buddy, Juan The Letter from God
Sally jumped up as soon as she saw the surgeon come out of the operating room. She said: "How is my little boy? Is he going to be all right? When can I see him?" The surgeon said, "I'm sorry. We did all we could, but your boy didn't make it." Sally said, "Why do little children get cancer? Doesn't God care any more? Where were you, God, when my son needed you?" The surgeon asked, "Would you like some time alone with your son? One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes, before he's transported to the university."
Sally asked the nurse to stay with her while she said good-bye to son. She ran her fingers lovingly through his thick red curly hair. "Would you like a lock of his hair?" the nurse asked. Sally nodded yes. The nurse cut a lock of the boy's hair, put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Sally. The mother said, "It was Jimmy's idea to donate his body to the university for study. He said it might help somebody else. "I said no at first, but Jimmy said, 'Mom, I won't be using it after I die. Maybe it will help some other little boy spend one more day with his Mom." She went on, "My Jimmy had a heart of gold. Always thinking of someone else. Always wanting to help others if he could."
Sally walked out of Children's mercy Hospital for the last time, after spending most of the last six months there. She put the bag with Jimmy's belongings on the seat beside her in the car. The drive home was difficult. It was even harder to enter the empty house. She carried Jimmy's belongings, and the plastic bag with the lock of his hair to her son's room. She started placing the model cars and other personal things back in his room exactly where he had always kept them. She laid down across his bed and, hugging his pillow, cried herself to sleep.
It was around midnight when Sally awoke. Laying beside her on the bed was a folded letter. The letter said: "Dear Mom, I know you're going to miss me; but don't think that I will ever forget you, or stop loving you, just 'cause I'm not around to say I LOVE YOU. I will always love you, Mom, even more with each day. Someday we will see each other again. Until then, if you want to adopt a little boy so you won't be so lonely, that's okay with me. He can have my room and old stuff to play with. But, if you decide to get a girl instead, she probably wouldn't like the same things us boys do. You'll have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like, you know. Don't be sad thinking about me. This really is a neat place. Grandma and Grandpa met me as soon as I got here and showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything. The angels are so cool. I love to watch them fly. And, you know what? Jesus doesn't look like any of his pictures. Yet, when I saw Him, I knew it was Him. Jesus himself took me to see GOD! And guess what, Mom? I got to sit on God's knee and talk to Him, like I was somebody important. That's when I told Him that I wanted to write you a letter, to tell you good-bye and everything. But I already knew that wasn't allowed. Well, you know what Mom? God handed me some paper and His own personal pen to write you this letter. I think Gabriel is the name of the angel who is going to drop this letter off to you. God said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him 'Where was He when I needed him?' "God said He was in the same place with me, as when His son Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as He always is with all His children.
Oh, by the way, Mom, no one else can see what I've written except you. To everyone else this is just a blank piece of paper. Isn't that cool? I have to give God His pen back now. He needs it to write some more names in the Book of Life. Tonight I get to sit at the table with Jesus for supper. I'm, sure the food will be great.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I don't hurt anymore. The cancer is all gone. I'm glad because I couldn't stand that pain anymore and God couldn't stand to see me hurt so much, either. That's when He sent The Angel of Mercy to come get me. The Angel said I was a Special Delivery! How about that?
Signed with Love from: God, Jesus & Me. author unknown by me Born Again ? What does it really mean to be born again? Some people think you can be born again by reincarnation. Others believe that going to church makes you born again. The bible says there is only one way to be born again. Who Coined the Phrase "Born Again" You may be suprised to learn that the first person to ever use the phrase "born again" was JESUS CHRIST . When He was speaking to Nicodemus, a leader of the Jewish religion, JESUS told him: "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3) Nicodemus wondered how a grown man could become a baby in his mother's womb and be born into this world again. JESUS explained that He was not talking about a physical birth but a spiritual birth: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). JESUS told Nicodemus that a person could be born again only by believing that He (JESUS CHRIST) was the Son of God. Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16) What Does it Mean to be Born Again? According to the Bible, to be born again is to be reborn by the Spirit of God into the family of God: "As many as received Him (JESUS CHRIST), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12) A born again Christian is one who has confessed his or her sins and asked JESUS CHRIST to save them ( See 1st John 1:9 and Revelation 3:20.) A born again Christian is one who believes that God raised Jesus from the dead: "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9) A born again Christian is one who believes that the blood of Jesus has washed away his or her sins: " Jesus Christ ..........loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood"(Revelation 1:5). To be born again is to become a new person in Christ: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ) Who Needs to be Born Again? Every human being who has been physically born into this world needs to be spiritually reborn for the next world. That's what Jesus meant when He said being born again was the only way you can enter the kingdom of God. As human beings, we have all sinned. No one--not one person--is good enough to enter God's kingdom of heaven. Because God is pure and holy, only those who have been made clean by the blood of Jesus can enter into His eternal kingdom of heaven. Have you been born again? If not , you can be. God has made the way for us to be cleansed of our sin so we can enter into His kingdom of heaven when we die. How You Can be Born Again? Let's answer that question very straight forward with what the Bible says we need to do. First, we must believe that God is real, and that He is the maker and ruler of all things. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish bet have everlasting life." (John 3:16) "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) But is faith alone enough? Well, it depends on what we mean. The Bible says that "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8) You can't "do anything" to deserve God's gift of heaven. We believe it and we receive it. But what does it mean to believe, or to have faith? Is it just saying, 'yea, I guess that's probably true.' No Faith is more than a passing acknowledgment. James tells us that "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:17), and he explains by saying, "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-and tremble!" (James 2:19). We need a little more than the demons. Our faith needs actions to prove it is real. One of these actions that makes our faith alive is the second step to becoming Born Again. We need to turn away from the sin that does not please God, and then turn back to God by trying to do what God would want us to do. We call this repentance. "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3) "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30) The third step to becoming Born Again, and another way of making our faith live, is confession. As Christians we should want to tell others about the new faith we have in God and that our sins are washed away and we are now ready to go to heaven. And to become a christian we are asked by God to do just that-to stand before people and express our faith. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32) "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe inyour heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation." (Romans 10:9-10) The fourth step to becoming Born Again is being baptized. Jesus thought baptism was important. He was baptized "for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15) He also told his new leaders of the church to "Go therefore and make desciples of all the nations," and "baptizing them" (Matthew 28:19) When Peter preached the first sermon, people wanted to know how to become christian. He told them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; (Acts 2:38) And every person in the book of Acts that become a christian was baptized.(Acts 8:12, 8:36-38, 9:18, 10:47-48, 16:29-33, ect) After that, you are Born Again It's that simple. God says to simply trust in Him and do what He askes. Can you do that? New christians are then asked to stay faithful. "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." (Revelation 2:10) And the best way to stay faithful is to attend a strong, loving, encouraging church. And the Orleans Christian Church would like to be that church. THE ROMAN ROAD All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
If you confess with you mouth,'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in you heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who ever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Please understand I don't want to cram this "religion" down your throat, I just want you to know that there is a loving God who cares for you!
The Easter Bunny by Beth H. Arbogast
Featured in Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul Picked by CS intern: Jaclyn Bauer
The Easter Bunny by Beth H. Arbogast
The Easter Bunny
When I was a little girl, every Sunday my family of six would put on their best clothes and go to Sunday School and then church. The kids in elementary school would all meet together to sing songs, and then later divide into groups based on their ages.
One Easter Sunday, all the kids arrived with big eyes and big stories about what the Easter Bunny had brought. While all of the kids shared their stories with delight, one young boy, whom I will call Bobby, sat sullenly. One of the teachers, noticing this, said to him, "And what did the Easter Bunny bring you?" He replied, "My mom locked the door on accident so the Easter Bunny couldn't get inside."
This sounded like a reasonable idea to all of us kids, so we kept on going with the stories. My mom knew the true story, though. Bobby's mom was a single parent, and she suspected that they just couldn't afford the Easter Bunny.
After Sunday School was over, everyone went off to church. When my dad came to meet us my mom announced that we were going home instead. At home, she explained that to make Bobby feel better, we were going to pretend to be the Easter Bunny and make a basket of goodies for him and leave it at church. We all donated some of our candies to the basket, and headed back up to church. There, mom unzipped his coat, hung the basket over the hanger, and zipped up the coat and attached a note.
Dear Bobby, I'm sorry I missed your house last night. Happy Easter. Love, The Easter Bunny
Beth H. Arbogast From Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul
Anna Mae's Honor
Can it really be thirty years since I received the last of the payments from Annie Mae? I find myself thinking about them more often as I approach my sixtieth birthday. Something about closing the chapters on six decades and opening the pages of a new one makes one reflect.
Annie Mae’s life has deeply touched mine. I first met her at the home of my in-laws in 1959. I had moved with my husband and our one-year-old child to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, so my husband could complete his undergraduate work at the University of Alabama. My father-in-law was a professor of finance at the university, and my mother-in-law was active in university and community affairs. I vividly recall entering their driveway and being overwhelmed by the size of their home, the beauty of the furnishings, the manicured grounds and the pecan orchard.
Annie Mae was my in-law’s maid. She prepared and served meals in her quiet, gentle way and then returned to the kitchen to read her Bible while we ate. She was a dedicated and devoted Christian. To me, she reflected the fruit of the Holy Spirit as found in Galatians 5:22-23. I found this increasingly true even though I came to know her more by observation than by conversation.
My husband and I visited his parents frequently, and I became increasingly taken with this gentle, remarkable lady. Often when I saw her eating alone, reading her Bible, I wanted to sit down with her and just talk. However, whites did not do that with African Americans in the South in those days, and I conformed to the local practice -- though it conflicted with my Christian beliefs. I watched my son, Jimmy, play with her daughter, Jennifer Ann, who on occasion came to my in-laws’ place with her mother. The two children laughed and frolicked amid the trees in the pecan orchard. It was so easy for them.
In 1965, my world was suddenly uprooted. I found myself alone with two young sons when my husband wanted a divorce. I was fortunate to receive a full scholarship to the University of Connecticut in the field of special education. I decided to sell the furniture and household items and return to my home state with just our clothes.
Annie Mae asked if she could buy the boys’ beds. When I answered yes, she asked the price. “Thirty-five dollars,” I replied. Then, in her quiet way, she asked if I would sell them to her and trust her to send a little money each month. I admired her and knew her to be a woman of God, trustworthy and honest. The words of Proverbs 11 came to mind: “A good man [person] is guided…and directed by honesty…Be sure you know a person well before you vouch for his [or her] credit.”
Annie Mae was honest, and I knew her well. So I said, “Annie Mae, take them, they are yours.”
I returned to Connecticut with my two sons and found a chicken coop that had been converted into four apartments. My neighbors and I all became family as we struggled to earn our degrees. Faithfully each month, while my boys and I lived there, an envelope arrived from Annie Mae -- two dollars, three dollars, five dollars, always in cash. That became the surprise money for my boys; I used it to get them something special -- an ice cream, cookies, an outing. My sons were thrilled when Annie Mae’s money came, for they knew that a surprise would be coming their way.
A year passed. I earned my master of arts degree in special education and accepted a position as a special education teacher for the state of Connecticut. I had learned my lessons well. However, I was about to learn an even greater lesson, and Annie Mae would be the teacher.
Annie Mae’s last payment arrived about the time I completed my studies. Along with it came the following note:
Dear Mrs. Holladay,
I am sending you my last payment of three dollars to pay for the beds in full. I told my two sons that they could now go to the storage shed and put the beds together and sleep in them, for they are now paid for and rightfully ours. Thank you for your trust.
Love in Jesus, Annie Mae
I could not believe my eyes. I read the note two or three times, my eyes filling with tears. Had I only known earlier, I would have said, “Use them now. Don’t wait until you pay for them.”
Those would have been my thoughts, yet Annie Mae had other thoughts -- thoughts the world could truly use. She sacrificed. She struggled. And finally, when the beds were truly hers, she let her sons, Paul and John, sleep in them. She was a living example of absolute honesty, the honesty that should characterize all who claim to be Christian.
This story has a postscript. After thirty years, I called directory assistance and found that Annie Mae still lived in Tuscaloosa. I called her, and later my second husband and I visited her, and I had that chat I never had thirty years ago. What a joy it was! Annie Mae had become a family and children’s worker for the state of Alabama and retired in May of 1996.
Romans 13:8 says, “Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others, never finish paying that!” How Annie Mae reflects those words! Truly she is a remarkable woman, one whose life has been shaped by Bible principles.
By Carol Holladay Treiber, from Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul
A Child's Blessing
A couple invited some people to dinner. At the table, the mother turned to her six-year-old daughter and asked her to say the blessing. "I wouldn't know what to say," she replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say," the mother said. The little girl bowed her head and prayed, "Dear Lord, why on Earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"
by Richard Lederer As appeared in Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul
A young minister had been called to serve at an old church that at one time had been a magnificent edifice in a wealthy part of town. Now the area was in a state of decline and the church was in bad shape. Nevertheless, the pastor and his wife were thrilled with the church and believed they could restore it to its former magnificence.
When the minister took charge of the church early in October 1948, he and his wife immediately went to work painting, repairing and attempting to restore it. Their goal was to have the old edifice looking its best for Christmas Eve services.
Just two days before Christmas, however, a storm swept through the area, dumping more than an inch of rain. The roof of the old church sprung a leak just behind the altar. The plaster soaked up the water as if it were a sponge and then crumbled, leaving a gaping hole in the wall.
Dejected, the pastor and his wife looked at the defaced wall. There was obviously no chance to repair the damage before Christmas. Nearly three months of hard work had been washed way. Yet the young couple accepted the damage as God’s will and set about cleaning up the damp debris.
It was a depressed minister and his wife who attended a benefit auction for the church youth group that afternoon. One of the items put of for bid was an old gold-and-ivory-colored lace tablecloth, nearly fifteen feet long.
Seized with an inspiration, the pastor was the high bidder at $6.50. His idea was to hang the orange cloth behind the altar to cover the ragged hole in the wall.
On the day before Christmas, snowflakes mingled with the howling wind. As the pastor unlocked the church doors, he noticed an older woman standing at the nearby bus stop. He knew the bus wouldn’t be there for at least half an hour, so he invited her inside to keep warm.
She wasn’t from the neighborhood, she explained. She had been in the area to be interviewed for a job as a governess to the children of a well-known wealthy family. She had been a war refugee, her English was poor and she didn’t get the job.
Head bowed in prayer, she sat in the pew near the back of the church. She paid no attention to the pastor, who was hanging the tablecloth across the unsightly hole. When the woman looked up and saw the cloth she rushed to the altar.
“It’s mine!” she exclaimed. “It’s my banquet cloth!”
Excitedly she told the surprised minister its history and even showed him her initials embroidered in one corner.
She and her husband had lived in Vienna, Austria, and had opposed the Nazis before the Second World War. They decided to flee to Switzerland, but her husband said they must go separately. She left first. Later she heard that he had died in a concentration camp.
Touched by her story, the minister insisted that she take the cloth. She thought about it for a moment but said no, she didn’t need it any longer, and it did look pretty hanging behind the altar. Then she said good-bye and left.
In the candlelight of the Christmas Eve services, the tablecloth looked even more magnificent. The white lace seemed dazzling in the flickering light of the candles, and the golden threads woven through it were like the brilliant rays of a new dawn.
As members of the congregation left the church, they complimented the pastor on the services and on how beautiful the church looked.
One older gentlemen lingered, admiring the tablecloth, and as he was leaving he said to the minister:
“It’s strange. Many years ago my wife -- God rest her -- and I owned such a tablecloth. She used it only on very special occasions. But we lived in Vienna then.”
The night air was freezing, but the goosebumps on the pastor’s skin weren’t caused by the weather. As calmly as he could, he told the man about the woman who had been to the church that very afternoon.
“Can it be,” gasped the old man, tears streaming down his cheeks,” that she is alive? How can I find her?”
The pastor remembered the name of the family who had interviewed the woman. With the trembling old man at his side, he telephoned the family and learned her name and address.
In the pastor’s old car they drove to her home on the other side of town. Together they knocked on her apartment door. When she opened it, the pastor witnessed the tearful, joyful and thrilling reunion of husband and wife.
Some people would call it an extremely lucky chance happening, the result of a hole in the church wall, an old tablecloth, a pastor’s ingenuity in solving a problem and so on. But the combination of events was far too complex for it to have been merely “coincidence.”
If one link in the fragile chain of events had been broken, the husband and wife might never have found each other. If the rain hadn’t come, if the church roof hadn’t leaked, if the pastor had decided not to go to the auction, if the woman hadn’t been looking for a job or standing on that corner at just the right time…the list of ifs is virtually endless.
It was simply God’s will. And, as it has been said many times, He works in mysterious ways.
By Richard Bauman from Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul
A Perfect Mistake
Grandpa Nybakken loved life -- especially when he could play a trick on somebody. At those times, his large Norwegian frame shook with laughter while he feigned innocent surprise, exclaiming, “Oh, forevermore!” But on a cold Saturday in downtown Chicago, Grandpa felt that God played a trick on him, and Grandpa wasn’t laughing.
Mother’s father worked as a carpenter. On this particular day, he was building some crates for the clothes his church was sending to an orphanage in China. On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to find his glasses, but they were gone. He remembered putting them there that morning, so he drove back to the church. His search proved fruitless.
When he mentally replayed his earlier actions, he realized what happened. The glasses had slipped out of his pocket unnoticed and fallen into one of the crates, which he had nailed shut. His brand new glasses were heading for China!
The Great Depression was at its height, and Grandpa had six children. He had spent twenty dollars for those glasses that very morning.
“It’s not fair,” he told God as he drove home in frustration. “I’ve been very faithful in giving of my time and money to your work, and now this.”
Several months later, the director of the orphanage was on furlough in the United States. He wanted to visit all the churches that supported him in China, so he came to speak on Sunday night at my grandfather’s small church in Chicago. Grandpa and his family sat in their customary seats among the sparse congregation.
“But most of all,” he said, “I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year. You see, the Communists had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses. I was desperate.”
“Even if I had the money, there was simply no way of replacing those glasses. Along with not being able to see well, I experienced headaches every day, so my coworkers and I were much in prayer about this. Then your crates arrived. When my staffed removed the covers, they found a pair of glasses lying on top.”
The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. Then, still gripped with the wonder of it all, he continued: “Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as thought they had been custom-made just for me! I want to thank you for being a part of that!”
The people listened, happy for the miraculous glasses. But the missionary surely must have confused their church with another, they thought. There were no glasses on their list of items to be sent overseas.
But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, an ordinary carpenter realized the Master Carpenter had used him in an extraordinary way.
By Cheryl Walterman Stewart from Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul
The Last Straw
Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds. -- Heb. 10:24
It was another long, winter afternoon with everyone stuck in the house and the four McDonald children were at it again -- bickering, teasing, fighting over their toys. At times like these, Mother was almost ready to believe that her children didn’t love each other, though she knew that wasn’t really true. All brothers and sisters fight, of course, but lately her little lively bunch had been particularly horrible to each other, especially Eric and Kelly, who were just a year apart. They seemed determined to spend the whole winter making each other miserable.
“Gimme that. It’s mine!”
“Is not, fatso! I had it first!”
Mother sighed as she listened to the latest argument coming from the living room. With Christmas only a month away, the McDonald house seemed sadly lacking in Christmas spirit. This was supposed to be the season of sharing and love, of warm feelings and happy hearts. A home needed more than just pretty packages or twinkling lights on the tree to fill it with the Christmas spirit. But how could any mother convince her children that being kind to each other was the most important way top get ready for Christmas.
Mother had only one idea. Years ago her grandmother had told her about an old Christmas custom that helped people discover the real meaning of Christmas. Perhaps it would work for her family. It was worth a try. Mother gathered her four little rascals together and sat them down on the stairs, smallest to tallest -- Mike, Randi, Kelly and Eric.
“How would you kids like to start a new Christmas project this year?” she asked. “It’s like a game, but it can only be played by people who can keep a secret. Can everyone here do that?”
“I can!” shouted Eric, wildly waving his arm in the air.
“I can keep a secret better than he can,” yelled Kelly, jumping up and waving her arm in the air, too. If this was a contest, she wanted to make sure she beat Eric.
“I can do it!” chimed in Randi, not quite sure what was happening but not wanting to be left out.
“Me too, me too, me too,” squealed little Mike, bouncing up and down.
“Well then here’s how the game works,” Mother explained. “This year we’re going to surprise Baby Jesus when he comes on Christmas eve by making him the softest bed in the world. We’re going to build a little crib for him to sleep in right here in our house, and we’ll fill it with straw to make it comfortable. But here’s the catch: Each piece of straw we put in the manger will represent one kind thing we do for someone between now and Christmas. The more kind things we do, the more straw there will be for Baby Jesus. The secret part is -- we can’t tell anyone what good things we’re doing and who we’re doing them for.”
The children looked confused. “How will Baby Jesus know it’s his bed?” asked Kelly.
“He’ll know,” said Mother. “He’ll recognize it by the love we’ve put into the crib, by how soft it is.”
“But who will we do the kind things for?” asked Eric.
“It’s simple,” said Mother. “We’ll do them for each other. Once every week between now and Christmas, we’ll put all of our names in this hat, mine and Daddy’s too. Then we’ll each draw a name and do kind things for that person for a whole week. But here’s the hard part. We can’t tell anyone whose name we’ve drawn for that week, and we’ll each try to do as many favors as we can for our special person without getting caught. And for every secret good thing we do, we’ll put another piece of straw in the crib.”
“But what if I pick someone I don’t like?” frowned Kelly.
Mother thought about that for a minute. “Maybe you could use extra fat straws for the good things you do for that person, because they might be harder to do. But just think how much faster the fat straws will fill up our crib. Then on Christmas eve we’ll put Baby Jesus in his little bed, and he’ll sleep that night on a mattress made of love. I think he’d like that, don’t you?”
“Now, who will build the crib for us?” she asked.
Since Eric was the oldest, and the only one of the children allowed to use tools, he marched off to the basement to give it a try. For the next couple of hours loud banging and sawing noises came from the basement. Then for a long time there were no noises at all. Finally Eric climbed back up the stairs with the manger in his arms. “Here it is,” he grinned. “The best crib in the world! And I did it all myself.”
For once, everyone agreed: the little manger was the best crib in the world. One leg was an inch too short, of course, and the crib rocked a bit. But it had been built with love -- and about a hundred bent nails -- and it would certainly last a long time.
“Now we need some straw,” said Mother, and together they headed out to the car to go searching for some in the nearby fields. Surprisingly, no one fought over who was going to sit in the front seat that day as they drove around the countryside, looking for an empty field. At last they spotted a small vacant patch of land that had been covered with tall grass in summer. Now, in mid-December, the grass had dried down to yellow stalks that looked just like real straw.
Mother stopped the car and the kids scrambled out to pick handfuls of the long grass.
“That’s enough!” Mother finally laughed, when she saw that the cardboard box in the trunk was almost overflowing. “Remember, it’s only a small crib.” So home they went, where they spread the straw carefully on a tray Mother had put on the kitchen table. The empty manger was placed gently on top, and the straw hid its one short leg.
“When can we pick names!” shouted the children.
“As soon as Daddy comes home for dinner,” Mother answered.
At the supper table that night, the six names were written on separate pieces of paper, folded up and shuffled around in an old baseball hat. Then the drawing began.
Kelly picked first and immediately started to giggle. Randi reached into the hat next. Daddy glanced at his scrap of paper and smiled quietly behind his hand. Mother picked out a name, but her face never gave away a clue. Next, little Mike reached into the hat, but since he couldn’t read yet, Daddy had to whisper in his ear and tell him which name he had picked. Eric was the last to choose, and as he unfolded his piece of paper a frown crossed his face. But he stuffed the name in his pocket and said nothing. The family was ready to begin.
The week that followed was filled with surprises. It seemed the McDonald house had suddenly been invaded by an army of invisible elves, and good things were happening everywhere. Kelly would walk into her room at bedtime and find her little blue nightgown neatly laid out and her bed turned down. Someone cleaned up the sawdust under the workbench without being asked. The jelly blobs disappeared magically from the kitchen counter after lunch one day while Mother was getting the mail. And every morning, while Eric was brushing his teeth, someone crept quietly into his room and made his bed. It wasn’t made perfectly, but it was made.
“Where are my shoes?” asked Daddy one morning. No one seemed to know, but before he left for work, they were back in the closet, all shined up.
Mother noticed other changes during that week, too. The children weren’t teasing or fighting as much. An argument would start and then suddenly stop for no good reason. Even Eric and Kelly seemed to be getting along better. In fact, all the children wore secret smiles and giggled to themselves at times.
By Sunday, everyone was anxious to pick new names again, and this time there was even more laughter and merriment during the picking process, except for Eric. Once again he unfolded his paper, looked at it, and stuffed it in his pocket without a word. Mother noticed, but said nothing.
The second week of the game brought more amazing events. The garbage was taken out without anyone being asked. Someone even did two of Kelly’s hard math problems one night when she left her homework out on the table.
The little pile of straw grew higher and softer. With only two weeks left until Christmas, the children wondered if their homemade bed would be comfortable enough for Baby Jesus.
“Who will be Baby Jesus anyway?” Randi asked on the third Sunday night after they had all picked new names.
“Perhaps we can use one of the dolls,” said Mother. “Why don’t you and Mike be in charge of picking out the right one?”
The two younger children ran off to gather up their favorite dolls, but everyone else wanted to help pick Baby Jesus, too. Little Mike dragged his Bozo the Clown rag doll from his room and proudly handed it over, sniffling later when everyone laughed. Soon Eric’s well-hugged teddy bear, Bruffles, joined the dolls filling up the couch. Barbie and Ken were there, along with Kermit the Frog, stuffed dogs and lambs, and even a cuddly monkey that Grandma and Grandpa had sent Mike one year. But none of them seemed quite right.
Only an old baby doll, who had been loved almost to pieces, looked like a possibility for their Baby Jesus. “Chatty Baby,” she had once been called, before she stopped chatting forever after too many baths.
“She looks so funny now,” said Randi, and it was true. Once while playing beauty shop, Kelly had cut her own blonde hair along with Chatty Baby’s, giving them both a raggedy crew cut. Kelly’s hair had eventually grown back, but Chatty Baby’s never had. Now the wisps of blonde hair that stuck out all over the dolls head made her look a little lost and forgotten. But her eyes were still bright blue and she still had a smile on her face, even though her face was smudged here and there by the touch of many chubby little fingers.
“I think she’s perfect,” said Mother. “Baby Jesus probably didn’t have much hair when he was born either, and I bet he’d like to be represented by a doll who’s had so many hugs.”
So the decision was made and the children began to make a new outfit for their Baby Jesus -- a little leather vest out of some scraps and some cloth diapers. Best of all, Baby Jesus fit perfectly into the little crib, but since it wasn’t quite time for him to sleep there yet, he was laid carefully on a shelf in the hall closet to wait for Christmas eve.
Meanwhile, the pile of straw grew and grew. Every day brought new and different surprises as the secret elves stepped up their activity. The McDonald home was finally filled with Christmas spirit. Only Eric had been unusually quiet since the third week of name picking.
The final night of name picking was also the night before Christmas eve. As the family sat around the table waiting for the last set of names to be put in the hat, Mother said, “You’ve all done a wonderful job. There must be hundreds of straws in our crib -- maybe a thousand. You should be so pleased with the bed you’ve made. But remember, there’s still one whole day left. We all have time to do a little more to make the bed even softer before tomorrow night. Let’s try.”
For the last time, the hat was passed around the table. Little Mike pulled out a name, and Daddy whispered it to him, just as he had done every week. Randi unfolded hers carefully under the table, peeked at it and hunched up her shoulders, smiling. Kelly reached into the hat and giggled happily when she saw the name. Mother and Daddy each took their turns, too, and then handed the hat with the last name to Eric. But as he unfolded the small scrap of paper and read it, his face pinched up and he suddenly seemed about to cry. Without a word, he ran from the room.
Everyone immediately jumped up from the table, but Mother stopped them. “No, stay where you are,” she said. “Let me talk to him alone first.”
Just as she reached the top of the stairs, Eric’s door banged open. He was trying to pull his coat on with one hand while he carried a small suitcase with the other hand.
“I have to leave,” he said quietly, through his tears. “If I don’t, I’ll spoil Christmas for everyone!”
“But why? And where are you going?” asked Mother.
“I can sleep in my snow fort for a couple of days. I’ll come home right after Christmas. I promise.”
Mother started to say something about freezing and snow and no mittens or boots, but Daddy, who was now standing just behind her, put his hand on her arm and shook his head. The front door closed, and together they watched from the window as the little figure with the sadly slumped shoulders and no hat trudged across the street and sat down on a snowbank near the corner. It was very dark outside, and cold, and a few snow flurries drifted down on the small boy and his suitcase.
“But he’ll freeze!” said Mother.
“Give him a few minutes alone,” said Dad quietly. “Then you can talk to him.”
The huddled figure was already dusted with white when Mother walked across the street 10 minutes later and sat down beside him on the snowbank.
“What is it, Eric? You’ve been so good these last few weeks, but I know something’s been bothering you since we first started the crib. Can you tell me, honey?”
“Aw, Mom, don’t you see?” he sniffed. “I tried so hard, but I can’t do it anymore, and now I’m going to wreck Christmas for everyone.” With that he burst into sobs and threw himself into his mother’s arms.
“But I don’t understand,” Mother said, brushing the tears from his face. “What can’t you do? And how could you possibly spoil Christmas for us?”
“Mom,” the little boy said through his tears, “you just don’t understand. I got Kelly’s name all four weeks! And I hate Kelly! I can’t do one more nice thing for her or I’ll die! I tried, Mom. I really did. I sneaked in her room every night and fixed her bed. I even laid out her crummy nightgown. I emptied her wastebasket, and I did some homework for her one night when she was going to the bathroom. Mom, I even let her use my race car one day, but she smashed it right into the wall like always!”
“I tried to be nice to her, Mom. Even when she called me a stupid dummy because the crib leg was short, I didn’t hit her. And every week, when we picked new names, I thought it would be over. But tonight, when I got her name again, I knew I couldn’t do one more nice thing for her, Mom. I just can’t! And tomorrow’s Christmas eve. I’ll spoil Christmas for everybody just when we’re ready to put Baby Jesus in the crib. Don’t you see why I had to leave?”
They sat together quietly for a few minutes, Mother’s arm around the small boy’s shoulders. Only an occasional sniffle and hiccup broke the silence on the snowbank.
Finally Mother began to speak softly, “Eric, I am so proud of you. Every good thing you did should count as double because it was especially hard for you to be nice to Kelly for so long. But you did all those nice things anyway, one straw at a time. You gave your love when it wasn’t easy to give. Maybe that’s what the spirit of Christmas is really all about. If it’s too easy to give, maybe we’re not really giving much of ourselves after all. The straws you added were probable the most important ones, and you should be proud of yourself.”
“Now, how would you like a chance to earn a few easy straws like the rest of us? I still have the name I picked tonight in my pocket, and I haven’t looked at it yet. Why don’t we switch, just for the last day? It will be our secret.”
“That’s not cheating?”
“It’s not cheating,” Mother smiled.
Together they dried the tears, brushed off the snow and walked back to the house.
The next day the whole family was busy cooking and straightening up the house for Christmas Day, wrapping last-minute presents and trying hard not to burst with excitement. But even with all the activity and eagerness, a flurry of new straws piled up in the crib, and by nightfall it was overflowing. At different times while passing by, each member of the family, big and small, would pause and look at the wonderful pile for a moment, then smile before going on. It was almost time for the tiny crib to be used. But was it soft enough? One straw might still make a difference.
For that very reason, just before bedtime, Mother tip-toed quietly to Kelly’s room to lay out the little blue nightgown and turn down the bed. But she stopped in the doorway, surprised. Someone had already been there. The nightgown was laid neatly across the bed and a small red race car rested next to it on the pillow.
The last straw was Eric’s after all.
By Paula McDonald from Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul
Help carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will obey the law of Christ. Gal. 6:2
It was the day before Thanksgiving -- the first one my three children and I would be spending without their father, who had left several months before. Now the two older children were very sick with the flu, and the eldest had just been prescribed bed rest for a week.
It was a cool, gray day outside, and a light rain was falling. I grew wearier as I scurried around, trying to care for each child: thermometers, juice, diapers. And I was fast running out of liquids for the children. But when I checked my purse, all I found was about $2.50 -- and this was supposed to last me until the end of the month. That’s when I heard the phone ring.
It was the secretary from our former church, and she told me that they had been thinking about us and had something to give us from the congregation. I told her that I was going out to pick up some more juice and soup for the children, and I would drop by the church on my way to the market.
I arrived at the church just before lunch. The church secretary met me at the door and handed me a special gift envelope. “We think of you and the kids often,” she said, “and you are in our hearts and prayers. We love you.” When I opened the envelope, I found two grocery certificates inside. Each was worth $20. I was so touched and moved, I broke down and cried.
“Thank you very much,” I said, as we hugged each other. “Please give our love and thanks to the church.” Then I drove to a store near our home and purchased some much-needed items for the children.
At the check-out counter I had a little over $14.00 worth of groceries, and I handed the cashier one of the gift certificates. She took it, then turned her back for what seemed like a very long time. I thought something might be wrong. Finally I said, “This gift certificate is a real blessing. Our former church gave it to my family, knowing I’m a single parent trying to make ends meet.“
The cashier then turned around, with tears in her loving eyes, and replied, “Honey, that’s wonderful! Do you have a turkey?”
“No. It’s okay because my children are sick anyway.”
She then asked, “Do you have anything else for Thanksgiving dinner?”
Again I replied, “No.”
After handing me the change from the certificate, she looked at my face and said, “Honey, I can’t tell you exactly why right now, but I want you to go back into the store and buy a turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie or anything else you need for a Thanksgiving dinner.”
I was shocked, and humbled to tears. “Are you sure?” I asked.
“Yes! Get whatever you want. And get some Gatorade for the kids.”
I felt awkward as I went back to do some more shopping, but I selected a fresh turkey, a few yams and potatoes, and some juices for the children. Then I wheeled the shopping cart up to the same cashier as before. As I placed my groceries on the counter, she looked at me once more with giant tears in her kind eyes and began to speak.
“Now I can tell you. This morning I prayed that I could help someone today, and you walked through my line.” She reached under the counter for her purse and took out a $20 bill. She paid for my groceries and then handed me the change. Once more I was moved to tears.
The sweet cashier then said, “I am a Christian. Here is my phone number if you ever need anything.” She then took my head in her hands, kissed my cheek and said, “God bless you, honey.”
As I walked to my car, I was overwhelmed by this stranger’s love and by the realization that God loves my family too, and shows us his love through this stranger’s and my church’s kind deeds.
The children were supposed to have spent Thanksgiving with their father that year, but because of the flu they were home with me, for a very special Thanksgiving Day. They were feeling better, and we all ate the goodness of the Lord’s bounty -- and our community’s love. Our hearts were truly filled with thanks.
By Andréa Nannette from Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul
Soldiers Prayer I want you to close your eyes and picture in your mind the soldier at Valley Forge, as he holds his musket in his bloody hands.
He stands barefoot in the snow, starved from lack of food, wounded from months of battle and emotionally scarred from the eternity away from his family surrounded by nothing but death and carnage of war.
He stands tough, with fire in his eyes and victory on his breath. He looks at us now in anger and disgust and tells us this...
"I gave you a birthright of freedom born in the Constitution and now your children graduate too illiterate to read it.
I fought in the snow barefoot to give you the freedom to vote and you stay at home because it rains.
I left my family destitute to give you the freedom of speech and you remain silent on critical issues, because it might be bad for business.
I orphaned my children to give you a government to serve you and it has stolen democracy from the people."
It's the soldier, not the reporter, who gives you the freedom of the press.
It's the soldier, not the poet, who gives you the freedom of speech.
It's the soldier, not the campus organizer, who allows you to demonstrate.
It's the soldier who salutes the flag, serves the flag, whose coffin is draped with the flag that allows the protester to burn the flag!!!
"Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need.