SUNDAY MAGAZINE



SUNDAY MAGAZINE

 Bringing you a selection of Quotes, Inspiring Short Stories, Humor, Well known Classics in Serial form, Matters of general interest, and of course, Articles contributed by YOU.

Your valuable comments on the content and suggestions for improvement of "Sunday Magazine" and the website in general, will be very much appreciated.




18 February 2018

posted 16 Feb 2018, 02:28 by C S Paul   [ updated 16 Feb 2018, 02:29 ]

18 February 2018

Quotes to Inspire
  • "To be prepared is half the victory." — Miguel de Cervantes
  • "Strength: Those who say 'I can't' and those who say 'I can' are both right. There is no way we can do anything worthwhile if we say and believe we can't. The power to achieve is in the 'I can!'" — Ray Lammie
  • "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." — Paul the Apostle (Philippians 4:13)
  • "Pressure is what turns coal into diamonds." — Unknown
  • "People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates." — Thomas Szasz
  • "If you don't fail now and again, it's a sign you're playing it safe." — Woody Allen
  • "People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel." — Unknown
  • "Friendship is a candle whose flame glows brighter when the hour is darker." — Unknown
  • "A real friend is when you can sit alone together and never say a word … and walk away feeling that you have had the best conversation." — Unknown
  • Forgiveness is man's deepest need and highest achievement. -- Horace Bushnell
  • "It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." — Edmund Hillary
  • "I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders." — Jewish Proverb
  • "When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." — Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • "Do not wait ... the time will never be just right ... start where you stand ... and work with whatever tools you may have at your command at the moment ... and better tools will be found as you go along." — Napoleon Hill


The house with the golden windows

-Unknown

The little girl lived in a small, very simple, poor house on a hill and as she grew she would play in the small garden and as she grew she was able to see over the garden fence and across the valley to a wonderful house high on the hill - and this house had golden windows, so golden and shining that the little girl would dream of how magic it would be to grow up and live in a house with golden windows instead of an ordinary house like hers.

And although she loved her parents and her family, she yearned to live in such a golden house and dreamed all day about how wonderful and exciting it must feel to live there.

When she got to an age where she gained enough skill and sensibility to go outside her garden fence, she asked her mother is she could go for a bike ride outside the gate and down the lane. After pleading with her, her mother finally allowed her to go, insisting that she kept close to the house and didn't wander too far. The day was beautiful and the little girl knew exactly where she was heading! Down the lane and across the valley, she rode her bike until she got to the gate of the golden house across on the other hill.

As she dismounted her bike and lent it against the gate post, she focused on the path that lead to the house and then on the house itself...and was so disappointed as she realised all the windows were plain and rather dirty, reflecting nothing other than the sad neglect of the house that stood derelict.

So sad she didn't go any further and turned, heart broken as she remounted her bike ... As she glanced up she saw a sight to amaze her...there across the way on her side of the valley was a little house and its windows glistened golden ...as the sun shone on her little home.

She realised that she had been living in her golden house and all the love and care she found there was what made her home the 'golden house'. Everything she dreamed was right there in front of her nose!

Puppy Love

-- By Bill McCartney

We jog, run, camp, fish, and build furniture. But, do we ever cross the line?

I'm Bill McCartney... It's 4th and Goal!

I know men who can take raw wood and a few nails and create a family heirloom. And then there are those of us who can listen to a sputtering engine and pinpoint the problem without even popping the hood. Other guys fly fish or fry up a gourmet meal.

Some of us are music lovers, avid readers and huge pet fans. These interests help fulfill us, but sometimes we can get caught up filling our days... and evenings... and weekends... pursuing activities that leave our families in the dust.

Take our interest in man's best friend. Our animals are companions for kids, protection for the home and just plain furry fun for the whole family. But, with all the extras and supplies available, there can be a tendency to get a little carried away.

We've got doggy beds, doggy diet chow, and special canine clothing. People primp their pooches, put them up in pet hotels, and even take them to counselors, when they're not sure what's dogging Fido. Things can easily get out of hand.

While we enjoy our outside interests and hobbies, do we let these "extras" become sore spots in our lives? Do they absorb far more time, energy and money than we should be sacrificing?

Any diversion can draw us away from the relationships that make life worth living. Let's ask ourselves what's more important, fulfilling our own needs or being a father to our children? What will they remember longer? The shiny wax job on the classic 'vette? Or, all those times we got on the ground and wrestled around with them?

Guys, we can take our hobbies to the extreme, pouring money and time into efforts that have no lasting value. Anything we put ahead of our wives and children, whether a pedigreed pooch, a workbench full of tools, or a super-deluxe convertible, says something about who we are, as men. Let's keep first things first and stay clear of anything that pulls us away from our first priorities as fathers and husbands.

"...Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things." -- Philippians 4:8

~~~~~~~~~

Former head football coach of the University of Colorado, Coach Bill McCartney is the founder and former president of Promise Keepers. Currently he is the founder and chairman of The Road to Jerusalem ministry.

Nothing Beats Family

By Ridgely Goldsborough

I stepped into my hotel room to a pleasant surprise. Lots of room surrounded an inviting king-size bed, flanked by overstuffed armchairs that rested against sliding glass doors that opened onto a private patio. A small dining table sat next to a kitchenette with a separate sink, refrigerator and coffee machine. "Wow," I thought to myself. "Nice place."

I love hotels - from the Holiday Inn Express to the Ritz-Carlton and everything in between. I love to enter a clean room, hang my clothes and gaze out the window, walk out in the morning knowing that each afternoon when I return, someone else will have made the bed. I like in-room dining and the way they greet you so professionally. "Nice to have you with us again, Mr. Goldsborough." Very cool.

The problem is that unless Alison travels with me, I never sleep well in hotels. I miss my family. Even though Linus and Camille, at ages 4 and almost 2, find a way to interrupt even the best night's sleep at home, still, I'd rather be with them. I'll take Linus clamoring over me at five AM or a kick in the chin from Camille over the finest linens and a chocolate on my pillow. When I'm on the road I yearn for my loved ones.

I'm deeply troubled by the number of parents who wake up too late with the realization: "My children grew up too fast. In the hustle-bustle of career and corporate rat race, I missed their childhood." What they fail to say but too often inwardly think causes me even more pain: "...and I barely even know them."This applies to couples as well - so in a hurry to get who-knows-where - a destination seldom defined. Relationships turn into co-habitations, romance into convenience. Very disturbing.

A hundred years from now, no one will remember the size of your bank account, the car you drove or the square footage of your house. The world might differ greatly however, based on your impact in the life of a small child. Your life will most certainly improve, if you pay attention to your significant other, make the choice to put her or him first. Your example will benefit the rest of us. Our world cries out for role models and heroes of every day living. What could you do today to let your loved ones know how much they mean to you? What will you do tomorrow? And the next day?

Think of one specific action that you can take, and take it. Then think of another one and take that, too. Challenge yourself to find new ways to express your appreciation and love on a daily basis. It will pay off ten-fold at home.

On those slightly stressful days when the grass looks a little greener and you feel like maybe you need a break, remember this. Room service will never kiss you goodnight!

Nothing is written

Roger Darlington

My all-time favourite film is "Lawrence Of Arabia" and, if I have a favourite scene from the movie, then I guess it is the one of Lawrence's triumphal return from the Nefud desert, having gone back to rescue the Arab Gasim. The crossing of the Nefud desert is considered impossible, even by the local Arabs, but Lawrence persuades them that, in this way, they can take the Turkish port at Aqaba from the rear.

Having carried out the superhuman feat of traversing this furnace, it is discovered that one of the Arabs, Gasim, has fallen off his camel and is no doubt dying somewhere back in the desert. Lawrence is told that any idea of rescue is futile and, in any event, Gasim's death is "written". When Lawrence achieves the impossible and returns with Gasim still alive, Sherif Ali admits to him: "Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it".

As an impressionable teenager when this film was first released, I was stunned by Lawrence's courage and unselfishness in going back into the hell of the Nefud to attempt to find a man he hardly knew among the vast expanse of a fiery terrain and I was so moved by the sense of purpose of a man who is determined to take nothing as "written" but to shape his own destiny. This sense of anti-determinism and this belief that anything is possible has stayed with me always and continues to inspire me in small ways and large.

Did You Know ?

  • A flamingo can eat only when its head is upside down.
  • No other animal gives us more by-products than the pig. These by-products include pig suede, buttons, glass, paint brushes, crayons, chalk and insulation to name a few.
  • Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to mankind. The father of medicine, Charaka, consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago.
  • Although modern images & descriptions of India often show poverty, India was one of the richest countries till the time of British in the early 17th Century. Christopher Columbus was attracted by India's wealth and was looking for route to India when he discovered America by mistake.
  • India has the most post offices in the world !
  • The largest employer in the world is the Indian railway system, employing over a million people !.   
  • The World's first university was established in Takshila in 700 BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.
  • A kangaroo can't jump unless its tail is touching the ground.
  • Dolphins don't automatically breath; they have to tell themselves to do it.
  • Cats sleep 16 to 18 hours per day.
Just for Laughs
The Minister and the Taxi Driver
Unknown

A minister has just died and is standing in line waiting to be judged and admitted to Heaven.

While waiting he asks the man in front of him about himself. The man says, "I am a taxi driver from New York City." 

The angel standing at the gate calls out next and the taxi driver steps up. The angel hands him a golden staff and a cornucopia of fruits, cheeses, and wine and lets him pass. The taxi driver is quite pleased, and proceeds through the gates. 

Next, the minister steps up to the angel who hands him a wooden staff and some bread and water. 

The minister is very concerned and asks the angel, "That guy is a taxi driver and gets a golden staff and a cornucopia! I spend my entire life as a minister and get nothing! How can that be?" 

The angel replies, "Up here we judge on results—all of your people sleep through your sermons—in his taxi, they pray." 

11 February 2018

posted 9 Feb 2018, 21:41 by C S Paul   [ updated 9 Feb 2018, 22:23 ]

11 February 2018

Quotes to Inspire

  • The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done. - Arnold Palmer
  • To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man's life. - T.S. Eliot
  • The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. Buddha
  • Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time. Marion Wright Edelman
  • Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in this life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from. - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
  • I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, after all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all. - Leo C. Rosten
  • The purpose of life is not to fight against evil and misfortune; it is to unveil magnificence. - Alan Cohen 
  • To be truly happy, you need a clear sense of meaning and purpose in life. - Brian Tracy
  • The fountain of content must spring up in the mind, and he who hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief he proposes to remove. - Samuel Johnson
  • Your unhappiness is not due to your want of a fortune or high position or fame or sufficient vitamins. It is due not to a want of something outside of you, but to a want of something inside you. You were made for perfect happiness. No wonder everything short of God disappoints you. - Fulton Sheen
  • It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available - more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don't have to run into the future in order to get more. - Thich Nhat Hanh
    The wise teacher and the jar
    Author Unknown

    There was once a very wise teacher, whose words of wisdom students would come from far and wide to hear. One day as usual, many students began to gather in the teaching room. They came in and sat down very quietly, looking to the front with keen anticipation, ready to hear what the teacher had to say.

    Eventually the teacher came in and sat down in front of the students. The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. On one side of the teacher was a large glass jar. On the other side was a pile of dark grey rocks. Without saying a word, the teacher began to pick up the rocks one by one and place them very carefully in the glass jar (Plonk. Plonk.) When all the rocks were in the jar, the teacher turned to the students and asked, 'Is the jar full?' 'Yes,' said the students. 'Yes, teacher, the jar is full'.

    Without saying a word, the teacher began to drop small round pink pebbles carefully into the large glass jar so that they fell down between the rocks. (Clickety click. Clickety click.) When all the pebbles were in the jar, the teacher turned to the students and asked, 'Is the jar now full?' The students looked at one another and then some of them started nodding and saying, 'Yes. Yes, teacher, the jar is now full. Yes'.

    Without saying a word, the teacher took some fine silver sand and let it trickle with a gentle sighing sound into the large glass jar (whoosh) where it settled around the pink pebbles and the dark grey rocks. When all the sand was in the jar, the teacher turned to the students and asked, 'Is the jar now full?'

    The students were not so confident this time, but the sand had clearly filled all the space in the jar so a few still nodded and said, 'Yes, teacher, the jar is now full. Now it's full'.

    Without saving a word, the teacher took a jug of water and poured it carefully, without splashing a drop, into the large glass jar. (Gloog. Gloog.)

    When the water reached the brim, the teacher turned to the students and asked, 'Is the jar now full?' Most of the students were silent, but two or three ventured to answer, 'Yes, teacher, the jar is now full. Now it is'.

    Without saying a word, the teacher took a handful of salt and sprinkled it slowly over the top of the water with a very quiet whishing sound. (Whish.) When all the salt had dissolved into the water, the teacher turned to the students and asked once more, 'Is the jar now full?' The students were totally silent. Eventually one brave student said, 'Yes, teacher. The jar is now full'. 'Yes,' said the teacher 'The jar is now full'.

    The teacher then said: 'A story always has many meanings and you will each have understood many things from this demonstration. Discuss quietly amongst yourselves what meanings the story has for you. How many different messages can you find in it and take from it?'

    The students looked at the wise teacher and at the beautiful glass jar filled with grey rocks, pink pebbles, silver sand, water and salt. Then they quietly discussed with one another the meanings the story had for them. After a few minutes, the wise teacher raised one hand and the room fell silent. The teacher said: 'Remember that there is never just one interpretation of anything. You have all taken away many meanings and messages from the story, and each meaning is as important and as valid as any other'.

    And without saying another word, the teacher got up and left the room.

    And another version of the same story ...

    A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

    The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "Yes." The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

    "Now", said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things - your family, your children, your health, your friends, your favorite passions - things that, if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car.

    The sand is everything else - the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first" he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. There will always be time to clean the house, and fix the rubbish. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand".

    One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that, no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers".

    The Chinese farmer
    Author Unknown

    There is a Chinese story of an old farmer who had an old horse for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and, when all the farmer's neighbours sympathised with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, 'Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?'

    A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, 'Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?'

    Then, when the farmer's son was attempted to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, 'Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?'

    Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer's son with his broken leg they let him off. Now was that good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

    Believe what you feel
     by Mitch Albom

    On this day, Morrie says that he has an exercise for us to try. We are to stand, facing away from our classmates, and fall backward, relying on another student to catch us. Most of us are uncomfortable with this, and we cannot let go for more than a few inches before stopping ourselves. We laugh in embarrassment.

    Finally, one student, a thin, quiet, dark-haired girl whom I notice almost always wears bulky, white fisherman sweaters, crosses her arms over her chest, closes her eyes, leans back, and does not flinch, like one of those Lipton tea commercials where the model splashes into the pool..

    For a moment, I am sure she is going to thump on the floor. At the last instant, her assigned partner grabs her head and shoulders and yanks her up harshly.

    "Whoa!!" several students yell. Some clap. Morrie finally smiles. "You see", he says to the girl, 'you closed your eyes, That was the difference. Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them too - even when you're in the dark. Even when you're falling".

    Buy the milk
    Author Unknown

    A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor had spoken about "listening to God and obeying the Lord's voice."

    The young man couldn't help but wonder, "Does God still speak to people?" After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways. It was about ten o'clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray,"God, if you still speak to people, speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey."

    As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, "God is that you?" He didn't get a reply, so he started on toward home. But again, the thought came to him... buy a gallon of milk.

    The young man thought about Samuel, and how he didn't recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli. "Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk." It didn't seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. So, he stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started toward home.

    As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, "Turn down that street." This is crazy, he thought, and drove on past the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street. At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he said out loud, "Okay, God, I will".

    He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in a semi-commercial area of town. It wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst of neighborhoods either. The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark, like people were already in bed.
    Again, he sensed something, "Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street." The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. "Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid."

    Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the door and said, "Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something but, if they don't answer right away, I am out of here."

    He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man's voice yelled out, "Who is it? What do you want?" Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep.

    The man asked, "What is it?"

    The young man thrust out the gallon of milk and said, "Here, I brought this to you," he said. The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway speaking loudly in Spanish. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen.The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face. The man began speaking and half crying, "We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk." His wife in the kitchen yelled out,"I ask him to send an angel with some. Are you an Angel?"

    The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put it in the man's hand. Then he turned and walked back toward his car and tears were streaming down his face. He knew then that God does still speak to people... and answer prayers.

    Did You Know  ?
    • The first engine powered car was built in Mannheim, Germany by Karl Benz in 1885. Between 1888 and 1893 they sold a whopping 25 units.
    • The smallest bone in the human body is the stapes bone which is located in the ear,it is also called stirrup .
    • Men get hiccups more often than women.
    • A sneeze can exceed the speed of 100 miles per hour.When a sneeze leaves your body ,it is at such a high speed that you should avoid suppressing it.
    • It takes food only seven seconds to go from the mouth to the stomach via the esophagus, pretty fast ! right?
    • Enamel is hardest substance in the human body.
    • Fingernails grow nearly 4 times faster than toenails!
    • Women hearts beat faster than men. Also women blink more than men !
    • In one day ,your heart beats 100,000 times.
    • ELECTROMAGNETIC REPULSION - The atoms that make up matter never touch each other. The closer they get, the more repulsion there is between the electrical charges on their component parts. It's like trying to bring two intensely powerful magnets together, north pole to north pole. This even applies when objects appear to be in contact. When you sit on a chair, you don't touch it. You float a tiny distance above, suspended by the repulsion between atoms. This electromagnetic force is vastly stronger than the force of gravity – around a billion billion billion billion times stronger. You can demonstrate the relative strength by holding a fridge magnet near a fridge and letting go. The electromagnetic force from the tiny magnet overwhelms the gravitational attraction of the whole Earth.
    • STARDUST TO STARDUST - body atoms - Every atom in your body is billions of years old. Hydrogen, the most common element in the universe and a major feature of your body, was produced in the big bang 13.7 bn years ago. Heavier atoms such as carbon and oxygen were forged in stars between 7bn and 12bn years ago, and blasted across space when the stars exploded. Some of these explosions were so powerful that they also produced the elements heavier than iron, which stars can't construct. This means that the components of your body are truly ancient: you are stardust.

    Just for Laughs

    Preacher’s Donkey
    Author Unknown 

    A man bought a donkey from a preacher. The preacher told the man that this donkey had been trained in a very unique way (being the donkey of a preacher). The only way to make the donkey go is to say, "Hallelujah!" 

    The only way to make the donkey stop is to say, "Amen!" 

    The man was pleased with his purchase and immediately got on the animal to try out the preacher's instructions. 

    "Hallelujah!" shouted the man. The donkey began to trot. "Amen!" shouted the man. The donkey stopped immediately. 

    "This is great!" said the man. With a "Hallelujah" he rode off, very proud of his new purchase. 

    The man traveled for a long time through the mountains. As he headed towards a cliff, he tried to remember the word to make the donkey stop. 

    "Stop," said the man. "Halt!" he cried. The donkey just kept going. 

    "Oh, no..." 

    "Bible...Church!...Please! Stop!" shouted the man. The donkey just began to trot faster. He was getting closer and closer to the edge of the cliff. 

    Finally, in desperation, the man said a prayer..."Please, dear Lord. Please make this donkey stop before I go off the end of this mountain, In Jesus name, AMEN." 

    The donkey came to an abrupt stop just one step from the edge of the cliff. 

    "HALLELUJAH!" shouted the man. 

    4 February 2018

    posted 2 Feb 2018, 03:34 by C S Paul

    4 February 2018

    Quotes to Inspire

    • Your personal philosophy is the greatest determining factor in how your life works out. - Jim Rohn
    • Life at any time can become difficult: Life at any time can become easy. It all depends upon how one adjusts oneself to life. - Morarji Desai
    • There are enough genuine difficulties in life to encounter, don't allow your imagination to increase the number. - Neil Eskelin
    • Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards. - Soren Kierkegaard
    • Self-confidence comes naturally when your inner life and your outer life are in harmony. - Brian Tracy
    • My life is an indivisible whole, and all my attitudes run into one another; and they all have their rise in my insatiable love for mankind. - Mahatma Gandhi
    • "Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better [person]." — Benjamin Franklin
    • "No one can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." — Unknown
    • "Vanity is the quicksand of reason." — George Sand
    • "Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change." — Jim Rohn
    • "The happiest people in the world are those who feel absolutely terrific about themselves, and this is the natural outgrowth of accepting total responsibility for every part of their life." — Brian Tracy
    • "Character: The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs." — Joan Didion

    Nourishment 

    If you're spiritually alive, you're going to love this! 

    If you're spiritually dead, you won't want to read it. 

    If you're spiritually curious, there is still hope! 

    A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I've gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that t time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."

    This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column. Much to the delight of the editor, it went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:

    "I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this... They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!"

    When you are DOWN to nothing....God is UP to something! 

    Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible! 

    Thank God for our physical AND our spiritual nourishment!  

    Author unknown

    Do the Just Suffer and Wicked Prosper? 

    Rabbi Joshua Ben Levi fasted and prayed to God that he might be permitted to gaze on the prophet Elijah who had ascended alive into heaven. God granted his prayer, and Elijah appeared before him. 

    “Let me journey with you in your travels through the world,” the Rabbi entreated Elijah; “let me observe your doings so that I may gain in wisdom and understanding.”

    “No,” answered Elijah; “you would not understand my actions; my doings would trouble you. They are beyond your comprehension.” 

    But still the Rabbi implored: “I will neither trouble nor question you; only let me accompany you on your way.”

    “Come, then,” said Elijah; “but let your tongue be mute. With your first question, your first expression of astonishment, we must part company.”

    So the two journeyed through the world together. They approached the house of a poor man, whose only treasure and means of support was a cow. As they came near, the man and his wife hastened to meet them, begged them to come into their house, eat and drink of the best they had and to pass the night under their roof. This they did, and they received every attention from their host and hostess. In the morning Elijah prayed to God that the cow belonging to the poor people should die, and the animal died. Then the travelers continued on their way.

    Rabbi Joshua was amazed. “Why did you kill the cow of this good man?” he asked.

    “Look, listen, and be silent,” Elijah replied; “if I answer your questions we must part.”

    They continued on their way together. Toward evening they arrived at a large and imposing mansion, the residence of an arrogant and wealthy man. They were coldly received; a piece of bread and a glass of water were placed before them. They remained there during the night. In the morning Elijah saw that a wall of the house had collapsed and he immediately restored it.

    Rabbi Joshua again was filled with wonder but said nothing, and they proceeded on their journey.

    As the shades of night were falling they entered a city where there was a large and imposing synagogue. They went in at the time of the evening service and admired the rich adornments, the velvet cushions, and gilded carvings of the interior. After the service, the president arose and called out: “Who is willing to take these two poor men to his house?” None answered, and the traveling strangers had to sleep in the synagogue. In the morning, however, Elijah shook hands with the members of the synagogue and said: “I hope that you may all become presidents.”

    Next evening the two entered another city. The sexton of the synagogue came to meet them and notified the members of the congregation of the coming of the two strangers. The best hotel of the place was opened to them, and all showed them attention and honor. On parting with them, Elijah said: “May the Lord appoint, but one president over you.”

    Rabbi Joshua could resist his curiosity no longer. “Tell me,” he said to Elijah, “tell me the meaning of all these actions which I have witnessed. To those who have treated us coldly you have extended good wishes; to those who have been gracious to us you have made no suitable return. Even at the risk of parting, please explain to me the meaning of your acts.”

    Elijah explained: “We first entered the house of the poor man who treated us so kindly. Now it had been decreed that on that very day his wife should die. I prayed the Lord that the cow might die instead. God granted my prayers, and the woman was saved.

    The rich man, whom we visited next, treated us coldly and I rebuilt his wall. For had he rebuilt it himself, he would have discovered a treasure which lies underneath.

    To the members of the synagogue who were not hospitable I said: ‘May you all be presidents,’ and where many rule there can be no peace. But to the others I said: ‘May you have but one president’; with one leader, no dissension will arise.

    Now, if you see the wicked prospering, be not envious; if you see the righteous in poverty and trouble, be not doubtful of God’s justice.”

    With these words Elijah disappeared, and Rabbi Joshua Ben Levi was left alone.

    Author unknown 

    One Day

    One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. 

    His name was Kyle. 

    It looked like he was carrying all of his books. 

    I thought to myself, 'Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? 

    He must really be a nerd.' 

    I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. 

    As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. 

    He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye. 

    As I handed him his glasses, I said, 'Those guys are jerks.’ 

    They really should get lives. 

    'He looked at me and said, 'Hey thanks!' There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now. 

    I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends and he said yes. 

    We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him. Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. 

    I stopped him and said, 'Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday! 'He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. 

    He was going to be a doctor and I was going for business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of our class. 

    I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn't me having to get up there and speak.

    Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. 

    He was one of those guys that really found him-self during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him. Boy, sometimes I was jealous and today was one of those days. 

    I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, 'Hey, big guy, you'll be great!' He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. 

    'Thanks,' he said. 

    As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. 

    'Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years; Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach, but mostly your friends. 

    I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. 

    I am going to tell you a story.' 

    I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn't have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. 

    He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. 

    'Thankfully, I was saved. 

    My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.' 

    I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. 

    I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth. Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person's life - for better or for worse. God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way. 

    Look for God in others. 

    Author Unknown 

    You Never Know

    Consumed by my loss, I didn't notice the hardness of the pew where I sat. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend, my mother. She finally had lost her long battle with cancer. The hurt was so intense; I found it hard to breathe at times. Always supportive, Mother clapped loudest at my school plays, held box of tissues while listening to my first heartbreak, comforted me at my father's death, encouraged me in college, and prayed for me my entire life. 

    When mother's illness was diagnosed, my sister had a new baby and my brother had recently married his childhood sweetheart, so it fell on me, the 27-year-old middle child without entanglements, to take care of her. I counted it an honor. What now, Lord? I asked sitting in church. My life stretched out before me as an empty abyss. My brother sat stoically while clutching his wife’s hand. My sister sat slumped against her husband’s shoulder, his arms around her as she cradled their child. 

    All so deeply grieving, no one noticed I sat alone. My place had been with our mother, preparing her meals, helping her walk, taking her to the doctor, seeing to her medication, reading the Bible together. Now she was with the Lord. My work was finished, and I was alone. I heard a door open and slam shut at the back of the church. Quick footsteps hurried along the carpeted floor. An exasperated young man looked around briefly and then sat next to me. He folded his hands and placed them on his lap. His eyes were brimming with tears. He began to sniffle. I'm late, he explained, though no explanation was necessary. 

    After several eulogies, he leaned over and commented. Why do they keep calling Mary by the name of Margaret? Because, that was her name, Margaret, never Mary. No one called her Mary, I whispered. I wondered why this person couldn't have sat on the other side of the church He interrupted my grieving with his tears and fidgeting. Who was this stranger anyway? No, that isn't correct, he insisted, as several people glanced over at us whispering, Her name is Mary, Mary Peters. That isn't who this is. Isn't this the Lutheran church? No, the Lutheran church is across the street. Oh. I believe you're at the wrong funeral, Sir. 

    The solemnest of the occasion mixed with the realization of the man’s mistake bubbled up inside me and came out as laughter. I cupped my hands over my face, hoping it would be interpreted as sobs. The creaking pew gave me away. Sharp looks from other mourners only made the situation seem more hilarious. I peeked at the bewildered, misguided man seated beside me. He was laughing; too, as he glanced around, deciding it was too late for an uneventful exit. I imagined Mother laughing. At the final Amen, we darted out a door and into the parking lot. I do believe we'll be the talk of the town, he smiled. He said his name was Rick and since he had missed his aunt's funeral, asked me out for a cup of coffee. 

    That afternoon began a lifelong journey for me with this man who attended the wrong funeral, but was in the right place. A year after our meeting, we were married at a country church where he was the assistant pastor. This time we both arrived at the same church, right on time. In my time of sorrow, God gave me laughter. In place of loneliness, God gave me love. This past June, we celebrated our twenty-second wedding anniversary. Whenever anyone asks us how we met, Rick tells them, “Her mother and my Aunt Mary introduced us, and it's truly a match made in heaven.”

    Did you Know ?

    • The first electric car was built in 1891 by William Morrison. However, the increasingly popular electric cars fell out of favor once Henry Ford introduced the gas-powered Model T in 1908. The years 1899 and 1900 were the high point of electric cars in America, as they outsold all other types of cars. One example was the 1902 Phaeton built by the Woods Motor Vehicle Company of Chicago, which had a range of 18 miles, a top speed of 14 mph and cost $2,000. Later in 1916, Woods also invented a hybrid car that had both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Sound familiar?
    • The term “General Purpose Vehicle” or a G.P.  was used as a designation for the popular four wheel drive vehicle used during World War II. A popular character introduced in the Popeye comic strip series in 1936 named “Eugene the Jeep” was what influenced the term, and the only sound that Eugene made was “jeep“.  This connection made the new term stick and pushed it quickly into common usage.
    • Hong Kong is the city with the most Rolls Royce’s per capital. Hong Kong has historically been the city which has had the maximum number of luxury cars per capita in the world. In fact, the city-state of Hong Kong is considered to be the largest metropolis for luxury goods and status symbols in the world.
    • In 1898 the Panhard et Levassor cars came equipped as standard with steering wheels. The idea caught on and similar systems sparked across the world.  By 1899, the steering wheel arrived in the  US, where Packard introduced the steering wheel on one of its models. By the time the Model T arrived, the steering wheel was an essential part of the car.
    • The first traffic lights were installed on December 10th, 1868 to control the traffic in front of the British Houses of Parliament in London. The design combined three semaphore arms with red and green gas lamps for night-time use, on a pillar, operated manually by police constable. The gas lantern was turned with a lever at its base so that the appropriate light faced traffic. Although it was said to be successful at controlling traffic, its operational life was brief. It exploded on 2 January 1869, as a result of a leak in one of the gas lines underneath the pavement. With doubts about its safety, the concept was abandoned until electric signals became available.
    • The world’s worst city to drive in is Manila. Terrible roads, endless traffic and a disregard for stopping at red lights make this place truly awful for driving.
    • The most expensive city in the world to park in is London. Parking in central London can cost up to £578.87 per month. Plus you’ll have to pay the congestion charge just to get there.

    Just for Laughs

     A Joke Backfires

    A preacher, who shall we say was "humor impaired," attended a conference to help encourage and better equip pastors for their ministry. Among the speakers were many well known and dynamic speakers. 

    One such boldly approached the pulpit and, gathering the entire crowd's attention, said, "The best years of my life were spent in the arms of a woman that wasn't my wife!" The crowd was shocked! He followed up by saying, "And that woman was my mother!" - The crowd burst into laughter and delivered the rest of his talk, which went over quite well. 

    The next week, the pastor decided he'd give this humor thing a try, and use that joke in his sermon. As he surely approached the pulpit that sunny Sunday, he tried to rehearse the joke in his head. It suddenly seemed a bit foggy to him. 

    Getting to the microphone he said loudly, "The greatest years of my life were spent in the arms of another woman that was not my wife!" The congregation inhaled half the air in the room. After standing there for almost 10 seconds in the stunned silence, trying to recall the second half of the joke, the pastor finally blurted out, "...and I can't remember who she was!" 

    Author Unknown

    Way to Heaven

    The Rev. Billy Graham tells of a time early in his career when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. Wanting to mail a letter, he asked a young boy where the post office was. 

    When the boy told him, Rev. Graham thanked him and said, “If you’ll come to the Baptist church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to Heaven.” 

    “I don’t think I’ll be there,” the boy said. “You don’t even know your way to the post office.” 

    Author Unknown

    28 January 2018

    posted 26 Jan 2018, 07:45 by C S Paul   [ updated 26 Jan 2018, 07:51 ]

    28 January 2018


    Quotes to Inspire

    • "What you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you."  Lucius Annaeus Seneca
    • "Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future." – Paul Boese
    • "An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he's in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots." – Unknown
    • "It's amazing what ordinary people can do if they set out without preconceived notions." Unknown
    • "Technology is like a steamroller. If you're not on the steamroller, then you are destined to become part of the road." – Bits & Pieces
    • "You will never stub your toe standing still. The faster you go, the more chance there is of stubbing your toe, but the more chance you have of getting somewhere." – Charles Kettering
    • "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist." Louis Nizer
    • "Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age.– Jeanne Moreau
    Beware of Terrorists Groups in Church
     Author Unknown 

    Latest news reports are that five terrorist cell groups have been operating in many of our churches.

    They have been identified as: Bin Sleepin, Bin Arguin, Bin Fightin, Bin Complainin, and Bin Missin. Their leader, Lucifer Bin Workin, trained these groups to destroy the Body of Christ. The plan is to come into the church disguised as Christians and to work within the church to discourage, disrupt, and destroy.

    However, there have been reports of a sixth group.

    A tiny cell known by the name Bin Prayin is actually the only effective counter terrorism force in the church. Unlike other terrorist cells, the Bin Prayin team does not blend in with whoever and whatever comes along. Bin Prayin does whatever is needed to uplift and encourage the Body of Christ.

    We have noticed that the Bin Prayin cell group has different characteristics than the others. They have Bin Watchin, Bin Waitin, Bin Fastin, and Bin Longin for their Master, Jesus Christ to return.

    No church is exempt! You can spot them if you bin lookin and bin goin.

    A story for Passover
    Eric Lee

    A good Passover story should always involve cakes. Austrian baker Manfred Klaschka is the subject of this year’s story. He was in the news because of his most recent catalogue of cake designs; Klaschka is a pastry specialist.

    Of course, Austrian pastries are famous the world over. Now, pastry baker Manfred Klaschka’s most recent catalogue of such tasty delights was in the news this week because it included cakes decorated with swastikas – as well as one with a baby raising its right arm in a Nazi salute.

    Herr Klaschka insists he is not a Nazi. After the news story broke, he even met with a Holocaust awareness group, and apologized for what he had done, and he then baked a cake to say he was sorry – a cake with Jewish and Christian symbols. The point of the story – the bit I found interesting – is Herr Klaschka’s explanation for what he did.

    "I see it was a mistake, anyone who knows me knows what kind of person I am. I am no Nazi", said Klaschka, who had earlier said he was just a pastry maker fulfilling his customers’ wishes. Fulfilling his customers’ wishes? There is a market in Austria in 2011 for cakes with babies raising their arms in Nazi salutes, cakes with swastikas on them? There are parties where people serve such cakes? Maybe birthday parties for babies?

    Of course there are such people, and there are such parties, and because of that, there is a market – there is consumer demand – for swastika cakes. Which is why Herr Klaschka was happy to bake them. And not only in Austria.

    You may remember the case of the Campbell family from New Jersey.

    When Kurt Waldheim was exposed as a war criminal his popularity rose. The neo-Nazi Freedom Party headed by the late Jorg Haider, won 27% of the vote in the 2000 elections and became part of the coalition government – the first time since 1945 that Nazis had sat in a European government.

    But this never happened in New Jersey – which is why I want to talk about the Campbell family. The Campbell family in New Jersey made the news back in 2008 when they tried to get a birthday cake made for their son — they have a son and two daughters — at the local Shop Rite in Holland Township.The store refused their request.

    And the reason was that Mr. Campbell wanted the cake to read "Happy birthday Adolf Hitler". Because, you see, his son’s name was Adolf Hitler Campell. One of the daughters is named is named JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell. Well, you get the point.

    When I read about the Austrian baker Manfred Klaschka, I thought – here was a marketing opportunity for him. He would have happily baked a cake for the Campbell family. So what does all this have to do with Passover?

    This week, when we are forbidden to eat Sachertore or Linzer tort or even the delightfully named Punschkrapfen, we might want to pause and think about something we say every year at the Passover seder: 'In every generation it is the duty of man to consider himself as if he had come forth from Egypt'.

    Because in this generation, as in all others, there are those who order custom-made swastika cakes. There are those who name their children after Adolf Hitler. And there are others who fire anti-tank missiles at school busses with Jewish children in them. Because there are those who are building nuclear weapons, having told the world that their intention is to wipe the Jewish state off the face of the earth. Because people like that make Pharaoh look like a nice guy. Because getting out of the house of bondage, out of slavery in Egypt, was not the end of the story for the Jewish people, but was the beginning.

    It is a story of a never-ending struggle for freedom, for dignity, for respect, for human rights, that has universal resonance and meaning — for all people, everywhere, always.

    The story of charlie coulson
    source www.inspire21.com

    I was a surgeon in the United States Army during the Civil War. After the battle of Gettysburg, there were hundreds of wounded soldiers in my hospital. Many were wounded so severely that a leg or an arm, or sometimes both, needed to be amputated.

    One of these was a boy who had been in the service for only 3 months. Since he was too young to be a soldier, he had enlisted as a drummer. When my assistants came to give him chloroform before the amputation, he turned his head and refused it. When they told him that it was the doctor's orders, he said, "Send the doctor to me."

    I came to his bedside and said, "Young man, why do you refuse the chloroform? When I picked you up on the battlefield, you were so far gone that I almost didn't bother to pick you up. But you opened those large blue eyes, it occurred to me that you had a mother somewhere who might be thinking of you that very moment. I didn't want you to die on the field, so I had you brought here. But you've lost so much blood that you've just too weak to live through an operation without chloroform. You'd better let me give you some."

    He laid his hand on mine, looked at me in the face and said, "Doctor, one Sunday afternoon, when I was nine and a half years old, I gave my life to Christ. I learned to trust Him then, I know I can trust Him now. He is my strength. He will support me while you amputate my arm and leg."

    I asked him if he would at least let me give him a little brandy.

    Again he looked at me and said, "Doctor, when I was about 5 years old, my mother knelt by my side with her arms around me and said, ‘Charlie, I am praying to Jesus that you will never take even one drink of alcohol. Your father died a drunkard, and I've asked God to use you to warn people against the dangers of drinking, and to encourage them to love and serve the Lord.’ I am now 17 years old, and I have never had anything stronger than tea or coffee. There is a very good chance that I am about to die and go into the presence of my God. Would you send me there with brandy on my breath?"

    I will never forget that look that boy gave me. At that time I hated Jesus, but I respected that boy's loyalty to His Saviour. And when I saw how he loved and trusted Him to the very end, something deeply touched my heart. I did for that boy what I had never done for any other soldier – I asked him if he wanted to see his chaplain.

    The Chaplain knew the boy well from having seen him often at the tent prayer meetings. Taking his hand he said, "Charlie, I am sorry to see you like this."

    "Oh, I am all right, sir," answered Charlie. "The doctor offered me chloroform, but I told him I didn't want any. Then he wanted to give me brandy, which I didn't want either. So now, if my Saviour calls me I can go to Him in my right mind."

    "You must not die, Charlie," said the chaplain, "but if the Lord does call you home, is there anything I can do for you after you're gone?"

    "Chaplain, please reach under my pillow and take my little Bible. My mother's address is inside. Please send it to her and write a letter for me. Tell her that since I left home, I have never let a single day pass – no matter if we were on the march, on the battlefield, or in the hospital – without reading a portion of the God's word, and daily praying that He would bless her."

    "Is there anything else I can do for you, my lad?" asked the chaplain.

    "Yes- please write a letter to the Sunday School teacher of the Sands Street Church in Brooklyn, New York. Tell him that I've never forgotten his encouragement, good advice, and many prayers for me. They have helped me and comforted me through all the dangers of battle. And now, in my dying hour, I thank the Lord for my dear old teacher, and ask Him to bless and strengthen him. That is all."

    Then turning to me, he said, "I'm ready, doctor. I promise I won't even groan while you take off me arm and leg if you don't offer me chloroform."

    I promised, but I didn't have the courage to take knife in my hand without first going into the next room and taking a little brandy myself.

    While cutting through the flesh, Charlie Coulson never groaned. But when I took the saw to separate the bone, the lad took the corner of his pillow in his mouth and all I could hear him whisper was, "O Jesus, blessed Jesus! Stand by me now." He kept his promise. He never groaned.

    I couldn't sleep that night. Whichever way I tossed and turned, I saw those soft blue eyes, the words, "Blessed Jesus! Stand by me now.'' Kept ringing in my ears. A little after midnight, I finally left my bed and visited the hospital – something I had never done before unless there was an emergency. I had such a strange and strong desire to see that boy.

    When I got there, an orderly told me that 16 of the badly wounded soldiers had died. "Was Charlie Coulson, one of them?" I asked.

    "No, sir," he answered, "he's sleeping as sweet as a babe."

    When I came to his bed, one of the nurses said that at about 9 o'clock two members of the YMCA came through the hospital to sing a hymn. The Chaplain was with them, he knelt by Charlie's bed and offered a fervent and soul-stirring prayer. Then, while still on their knees, they sang one of the sweetest of all hymns, "Jesus, Lover Of My Soul." Charlie sang along with them, too. I couldn't understand how that boy, who was in such horrible pain, could sing.

    Five days after I performed the operation, Charlie sent for me, and it was from him that I heard my first Gospel sermon. "Doctor," he said, "my time has come. I don't expect to see another sunrise. I want to thank you with all my heart for your kindness to me. I know you are Jewish, and that you do not believe in Jesus, but I want you to stay and see me die trusting me Saviour to the last moment of me life." I tried to stay, but I just couldn't – I didn't have the courage to stand by and see a Christian boy die rejoicing in the love of that Jesus who I hated. So I hurriedly left the room.

    About 20 minutes later an orderly came and found me sitting in my office with my hands covering my face. He told me that Charlie wanted to see me. "I've just seen him," I answered. "and I can't see him again."

    "But, doctor, he says he must see you once more before he dies.'

    So I made up my mind to go and see Charlie, say an endearing word and let him die. However, I was determined that nothing he could say would influence me in the least bit, so far as his Jesus was concerned.

    When I entered the hospital I saw he was sinking fast, so I sat down by his bed. Asking me to take his hand, he said, "Doctor, I love you because you are a Jew. The best friend I've found in the world was a Jew." I asked him who that was, and he answered, "Jesus Christ, and I want to introduce you to Him before I die. Will you promise me, doctor that what I am about to say to you, you will never forget?" I promised, and he said, "5 days ago, while you amputated my arm and leg, I prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ and asked Him to make His love known to you."

    Those words went deep in my heart. I couldn't understand how, when I was causing him the most intense pain, he could forget about himself and think of nothing but the Saviour and my unconverted soul Ail I could say to him was, "Well, my dear boy, you will soon be all right." With these words I left him, and 12 minutes later, he fell asleep, safe in the arms of Jesus.

    Hundreds of soldiers died in my hospital during the war, but I only followed one to the grave, and that was Charlie Coulson. I rode 3 miles to see him buried. I had him dressed in a new uniform, and placed in an officer's coffin, with a United States flag over it.

    That boy's dying words made a deep impression on me. I was rich at that time so as far as money was concerned, but I would have given every penny I possessed if I could have felt towards Christ as Charlie did. But that feeling cannot be bought with money. Alas, I soon forgot all about my Christian soldier's little sermon, but I could not forget the boy himself. Looking back, I now know I was under deep conviction of sin at that time. But for nearly 10 years I held back, until finally the dear boy's prayer was answered, and I surrendered my life to the love of Jesus.

    About a year and a half after my conversion, I went to a prayer meeting one evening in Brooklyn. It was one of those meetings where Christians testify about the loving kindness of God. After several had spoken, an elderly lady stood up and said, "Dear friends, this may be the last time I have a chance to publicly share how good the Lord has been to me. My doctor told me yesterday that my right lung is nearly gone, and my left lung is failing fast, so at the best I only have a short time to be with you. But what is left of me belongs to Jesus. It's a great joy to know that I shall soon meet my son with Jesus in heaven.

    "Charlie was not only a soldier for his country, but also a soldier for Christ. He was wounded at the battle of Gettysburg, and was cared for by a Jewish doctor, who amputated his arm and leg. He died 5 days after the operation. The chaplain of the regiment wrote me a letter and sent me my boy's Bible. I was told that in his dying hour, my Charlie sent for that Jewish doctor and said to him, "5 days ago, while you amputated my arm and leg, I prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ for you."

    As I heard this lady speak, I just couldn't sit still! I left my seat, ran across the room and took her hand and said, "God bless you, my dear sister. Your boy's prayer has been heard and answered! I am the Jewish doctor that Charlie prayed for, and his Saviour is now my Saviour! The love of Jesus has won my soul!"

    A true account about "Charlie Coulson - The Christian Drummer Boy" taken from an old, out of print book called "Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayers." 

    Just for Laughs

    God is Missing

    A couple had two little boys, ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous. They were always getting into trouble, and their parents knew that, if any mischief occurred in the town, their sons were probably involved. 

    The boys' mother heard that a clergyman in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The clergyman agreed, but asked to see them individually. 

    So the mother sent her 8-year-old first, in the morning, with the older boy to see the clergyman in the afternoon. 

    The clergyman, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, "Where is God?". 

    The boy's mouth dropped open, but he made no response, just sitting there with his mouth hanging open, wide-eyed. 

    The clergyman repeated the question in an even sterner tone, "Where is God!!?" Again the boy made no attempt to answer. 

    The clergyman raised his voice even more, shook his finger in the boy's face and bellowed, "WHERE IS GOD!!?" 

    The boy screamed and bolted from the room, ran directly home and dived into his closet, slamming the door behind him. 

    When his older brother found him in the closet and asked, "What happened?" 

    The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, "We are in BIG trouble this time, dude. God is missing -- and they think WE did it!" 

    Going to Hell ?

    A man sobering up from the night before is sitting through the Sunday sermon, finding it long and boring. Still feeling hung over and tired, he finally nods off.

    The priest has been watching him all along, noticing his apparent hangover and is disgusted. At the end of the sermon, the preacher decides to make an example of him. He says to his congregation, "All those wishing to have a place in heaven, please stand." The whole room stands up, except of course, the sleeping man. Then the preacher says even more loudly, "And he who would like to find a place in hell please STAND UP!"

    The weary man catching only the last part groggily stands up, only to find that he's the only one standing. Confused and embarrassed he says, "I don't know what we're voting on here Father, but it sure seems like you and me are the only ones standing for it!"


    Did You Know ?

    • Dogs have two sets of teeth, just like humans. They first have 30 "puppy" teeth, then 42 adult teeth. 
    • In 1950, President Harry Truman threw out the first ball twice at the opening day Washington DC baseball game; once right handed and once left handed. 
    • A Swiss ski resort announced it would combat global warming by wrapping its mountain glaciers in aluminum foil to keep them from melting. 
    • The chameleon has a tongue that is one and a half times the length of his body. 
    • Beethoven dipped his head in cold water before he composed. 
    • There once was a town named "6" in West Virginia. 
    • Ten years ago, only 500 people in China could ski. This year, an estimated 5,000,000 Chinese will visit ski resorts. 
    • Toxic house plants poison more children than household chemicals. 
    • Chicago is closer to Moscow than it is to Rio de Janeiro. 
    • The biggest dog on record was an Old English Mastiff that weighed 343 pounds. He was 8 feet, 3 inches from nose to tail. 
    • Mailmen in Russia now carry revolvers after a recent decision by the government. 
    • All of Queen Anne's 17 children died before she did. 

    21 January 2018

    posted 19 Jan 2018, 03:31 by C S Paul

    21 January 2018

    Quotes to Inspire
    • True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new. Antoine de Saint Exupery
    • We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about. Charles Kingsley
    • When people are deeply happy they bring a sense of purpose with them wherever they go, whatever circumstances they are in. So if they’re changing the oil in the car, they bring a sense of joyful purpose even to that. Marci Shimoff
    • If we can augment our gift giving by giving more of ourselves to those we love, all the time and in various ways, we will have a good chance of helping them and ourselves live happier, better lives. Earl Nightingale
    • The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    • The happiness of one's own heart alone cannot satisfy the soul; one must try to include, as necessary to one's own happiness, the happiness of others.- Paramahansa Yogananda
    • To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness. - Robert Muller
    • Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.Thich Nhat Hanhvv
    • Happiness and self-confidence come naturally when you feel yourself moving and progressing toward becoming the very best person you can possibly be. Brian Tracy
    Virtually no Competition
    by Gavin Newsham

    While professional soccer is still struggling to find a firm foothold in the United States, in the 1970s the North American Soccer League marked the brave first attempt to introduce the game to American sports fans. While most teams had only limited success at best, one did manage to break through to genuine mainstream popularity - the New York Cosmos.

    It was the brainchild of Steve Ross, a passionate soccer fan who was also a major executive at Warner Communications.

    Max Ross told his son Steve: "In life there are those who work all day, those who dream all day, and those who spend an hour dreaming before setting to work to fulfil those dreams. Go into the third category because there's virtually no competition".

    All of the Mothers
    Anonymous

    This is for all the mothers who probably won't win Mother of the Year. All the runners-up and all the wannabes. The mothers too tired to enter or too busy to care. This is for all the mothers who froze their buns off on metal bleachers at soccer games Friday night instead of watching from cars, so that when their kids asked, "Did you see my goal?" they could say, "Of course, wouldn't have missed it for the world," and mean it.

    This is for all the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid saying, "It's OK, honey, Mommy's here." This is for all the mothers of Kosovo who fled in the night and can't find their children.

    This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and made them homes. For all the mothers of the victims of the Colorado shooting, and the mothers of the murderers. For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school, safely. For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON'T.

    What makes a good Mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time? Or is it heart? Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time? The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 A.M. to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby? The need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a school shooting, a fire, a car accident, a baby dying?

    So this is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the mothers who wanted to, but just couldn't. This is for reading "Goodnight, Moon" twice a night for a year... And then reading it again, "Just one more time."

    This is for all the mothers who mess up. Who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair and stomp their feet like a tired 2-year-old who wants ice cream before dinner. This is for all the mothers who taught their daughters to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead. For all the mothers who bite their lips - sometimes until they bleed - when their 14 year olds dye their hair green. Who lock themselves in the bathroom when babies keep crying and won't stop.

    This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse. This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot. This is for all mothers whose heads turn automatically when a little voice calls mom?" in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home.

    This is for mothers who put pinwheels and teddy bears on their children's graves. This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them. This is for all the mothers who sent their sons to school with stomachaches, assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse and hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away.

    This is for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation. And mature mothers learning to let go. For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. Single mothers and married mothers. Mothers with money, mothers without. This is for all of you.

    Hang in there, and know that you are loved and needed.

    "Home is what catches us when we fall - and we all fall."

    The Little Wave
    by Mitch Albom

    The story is abut a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He's enjoying the wind and the fresh air - until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. "My God, this terrible", the wave says. "Look what's going to happen to me!"

    Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him: "Why do you look so sad?" The first wave says: "You don't understand! We're all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn't it terrible?"

    The second wave says: "No, you don't understand. You're not a wave, you're part of the ocean."

    From Russia with Love
    Darlington

    When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the communications trade union for which I then worked received several delegations from the emergent nations and we ran courses for them on how market economies operated and how free collective bargaining was conducted. As is my practice when lecturing to foreign audiences, I had my visual aids translated into the vernacular, so I used overhead slides in Russian, although of course I spoke in English and had an interpreter.

    I cannot read the cyrillic alphabet and know very little Russian, so I just worked through my slides in order. However, there came a point when I could tell from the statistical data on the latest slide that, for the previous ten minutes, I had been speaking to the wrong slide. British students would have pointed this out in seconds, but none of the Russians had said a word.

    I was perplexed and asked why nobody had told me that I had been speaking to the wrong slide. Eventually one brave soul volunteered an answer and the interpreter translated: "In our country, no one challenges the teacher".

    A True Story of Tragedy and Triumph
    Author - Unknown

    Brothers Michael and Chris were both born in the early 1960s and grew up in a mostly black neighborhood in Richmond, California, right outside of San Francisco.

    Both boys were well behaved in school and brought home mostly A's on their report cards all through grade school.

    But coming from a working-class family with eight children, money was always tight, so the boys often had to go without. In fact, things were so tight, the two growing boys were often hungry.

    So they did what many boys do when they're hungry and have no food - they stole. From the time they were five until they were well out of high school, the boys stole. They stole crackers from the cupboard in the middle of the night... they stole cookies from the grocery store... and they stole sandwiches from the sandwich shop.

    If it wasn't nailed down and was worth something, Michael and Chris would find a way to steal it. They even stole money from their parents from time to time. But more often than not, they stole to satisfy their hunger.

    When it was time for Michael and Chris to attend high school, they were bused across town to Kennedy High School. It was during high school that something happened that made Chris decide to change his behavior. At the end of his freshman year in high school, Chris had received three A's and three F's on his report card - the first time he had failed anything in school.

    Because Kennedy High School only allowed three failures over four years, one more F and Chris would be kicked out of school. That's when he made up his mind to change. Years later Chris would recall that defining moment in his life with these words:

    "I sat outside my house at the beginning of that summer knowing that I was letting my chance slip away. One more F and I'd be just another high school dropout, hanging around the neighborhood, hoping to get on with the county or to get into the service.

    "At the time I didn't know my brother Rusty would end up in prison... or that my brother Harold would die without having seen much of the world. I certainly didn't know what would happen to Michael. I only knew that I had to get out of there. I wanted to see San Francisco every day, to pick out my own clothes, drive my own car, and be whatever a man could hope to be, not just a black man, not just a man from the flats of Richmond. I wanted no limitations. I wanted to be whatever a man could hope to be."

    Chris' decision to change his behavior wasn't an easy one. He took a lot of grief from his friends for choosing to excel in school, instead of squeaking by with C's and D's. But that decision to change took him in an entirely different direction from his brother Michael, who resisted changing his unproductive behavior.

    Chris went on to graduate from high school... graduate from college... and graduate from law school. For 15 years he worked as a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles, California, prosecuting murderers, drug dealers, gang members and crooked cops. Today Chris is better known as Christopher. You probably recognize him by his full name - Christopher Darden, one of the lead prosecutors in the trial of the century, the O. J. Simpson trial!

    What became of Christopher's brother, Michael? After high school Michael joined the army and returned to his hometown shortly after his tour of duty. Back in Richmond, Michael continued his pattern of anti-social behavior - hustling in the streets... and stealing to support himself and a growing drug habit. On November 29, 1995, Michael Darden died at the age of 42... from AIDS.

    This story of triumph and tragedy serves to remind us that when it's all said and done, who we are and what we become is determined by the choices we make.

    We can choose to get better... or we can choose to get bitter. Whether we make those choices to improve at age 14, like Christopher Darden... or at age 64, like Colonel Sanders, those choices have the power to dramatically increase our value in virtually everything we do.

    That's what the saying "change... or be changed" is all about. Christopher Darden changed. He changed from being a criminal... to prosecuting criminals.

    He changed his attitude from being angry and sullen... to being open and accepting.

    He changed from an underachiever... to an honor student who took responsibility for his grades and his education.

    He changed from a disillusioned teen-ager with low self-esteem... to an optimistic young man determined to turn his dreams into reality.

    His brother Michael, on the other hand, was changed. He was changed by grinding poverty... he was changed by the code of the streets ... he was changed by illegal drugS... and finally, he was changed by an insidious disease.

    Christopher Darden made the tough choices... he made the changes in his life that helped him accomplish his dreams.

    His brother Michael, on the other hand, took the easy way out - or at least what he thought was the easy way out. He kept hanging around the same group of loser friends... he kept practicing the same self-destructive habits. As a result of the changes they did or did not make, both men chose their fates: Christopher chose to became a successful prosecutor. And Michael chose to become just another sad story of the streets.

    The sobering truth is, "Either way, you pay!" The truth is the price that Michael paid for refusing to change was much higher than the price that Christopher paid for seeking to change.

    I'd like to think that Michael didn't die in vain. I'd like to think that by hearing this story, some people will finally understand the profound importance of making positive, productive changes in their lives.

    When it's all said and done, you have a choice.

    You can choose to become Michael.

    Or you can choose to become Christopher.

    You can continue to do the things that will lead to frustration and unhappiness.

    Or you can make the changes that help you get what you want most out of life.

    Don't choose to become like so many people who COULD HAVE become a millionaire... or who COULD HAVE become happier... or who COULD HAVE become healthier... or who COULD HAVE made a contribution - but didn't. Start making the changes you need to make TODAY... so that you can become the person you want to become TOMORROW!

    Just for Laughs

    Money Goes To Church 

    A well-worn ten rupee note and a similarly distressed hundred rupee note arrived at a Reserve Bank of India branch to be retired. As they were about to be burned, they struck up a conversation. 
           
    The five hundred rupee note  reminisced about its travels all over the county. "I've had a pretty good life," the five hundred proclaimed. "Why I've been to New Delhi and Mumbai, the finest resorts in Goa performances  and even a cruises." 
           
    "Wow!" said the ten rupee note. "You've really had an exciting life!" 
           
    "So tell me," says the hundred, "where have you been throughout your lifetime?" 
           
    The ten rupee note replies, "Oh, I've been to the Syrian Orthodox Church , The Catholic Church, the CSI Church ...."
           
    The hundred rupee note interrupts, "What's a church?"

    From the Mouths of Babes

    A mother was watching her four-year-old child playing outside in a small plastic pool half filled with water. He was happily walking back and forth across the pool, making big splashes. Suddenly, he stopped, stepped out of the pool, and began to scoop water out of the pool with a pail. 

    "Why are you pouring the water out, Johnny?" the mother asked. 

    "'Cause my teacher said Jesus walked on water, and this water won't work." The boy replied.

    Did you Know ?
    • Weight of the eyeball ! The eyeball of a human weighs approximately 28 grams.
    • People generally read 25% slower from a computer screen compared to paper.
    • Do you know ,it is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open !
    • And do you know ,it is impossible to hum while your nose is plugged close !
    • The largest number of people that fit in a smart car is 19. Pakistan crashers managed to do that at Defence Authority Creek Club in Karachi, Pakistan on December 10, 2010.
    • A human heart pumps enough blood to fill 100 swimming pools in an average lifetime.In the same time it will beat almost three billion times
    • While sleeping, one person out of every eight snores, and one in ten grinds his teeth
    • All babies are color blind when they are born ,so they only see black & white.
    • People with dark color skin wrinkle later than the people having light color skins!
    • Guess how many muscles are working when you take a step! Well, about 200 muscles are used when we take a single step!

    14 January 2018

    posted 12 Jan 2018, 03:18 by C S Paul

    14 January 2018

    Quotes to Inspire
    • A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes. - Hugh Downs
    • The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions. Alfred Lord Tennyson
    • Happiness in simplicity can be achieved with a flexible mindset and nine hours sleep each night. - Dalai Lama
    • Happiness comes from good health and a bad memory. Ingrid Bergman
    • Unconditional acceptance of others is the key to happy relationships. Brian Tracy
    • I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances. - Martha Washington
    • The purpose of our lives is to be happy. Dalai Lama
    • Every day there is only one thing to learn: how to be honestly happy. Sri Chinmoy
    • Cherish all your happy moments: they make a fine cushion for old age. -Christopher Morley
    • Experience praises the most happy, the one who made the most people happy. Karl Marx
    • Think of all the beauty still left around you, and be happy. Anne Frank
    • You are only ever unhappy, when you focus upon what you don't have. Patrick Combs
    A Brother's Hands
    -- Author Unknown
     
    Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

    After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines. They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.

    Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

    When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will support you."

    All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated over and over, "No ... no ... no ... no."

    Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."

    More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

    One day, long ago, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together, and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

    A Foot Has No Nose
    - by Ellen K. Kuzwayo

    Of the many interactions I had with my mother those many years ago, one stands out with clarity. I remember the occasion when mother sent me to the main road, about twenty yards away from the homestead, to invite a passing group of seasonal work-seekers home for a meal. She instructed me to take a container along and collect dry cow dung for making a fire. I was then to prepare the meal for the group of work-seekers.

    The thought of making an open fire outside at midday, cooking in a large three-legged pot in that intense heat, was sufficient to upset even an angel. I did not manage to conceal my feelings from my mother and, after serving the group, she called me to the veranda where she usually sat to attend to her sewing and knitting.

    Looking straight into my eyes, she daid "Tsholofelo, why did you sulk when I requested you to prepare a meal for those poor destitute people?" Despite my attempt to deny her allegation, and using the heat of the fire and the sun as an excuse for my alleged behaviour, mother, giving me a firm look, said ""Lonao ga lo na nko" - "A foot has no nose". It means: you cannot detect what trouble may lie ahead of you.

    Had I denied this group of people a meal, it may have happened that, in my travels some time in the future, I found myself at the mercy of those very individuals. As if that was not enough to shame me, mother continued: "Motho ke motho ka motho yo mongwe". The literal meaning: "A person is a person because of another person".

    Winds of Forgiveness
    - Unknown -

    Winds of Forgiveness Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey, they had an argument and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.” They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: “Today my best friend saved my life.”

    Winds of Forgiveness The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?” The friend replied, when someone hurts us we should write it down in the sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”Winds of Forgiveness Awesome! Without forgiveness, there is no future. We could add to the statement in several ways without changing its basic meaning:  Without forgiveness, there is no freedom. Without forgiveness, there is no recovery. Without forgiveness, there is no healing. This joy is as abundant, as rich and as unlimited as the Lord’s abundant forgiveness of us. It is my prayer that you would experience this forgiveness, practice this forgiveness and, in so doing, receive this joy.

    A Box Full of Kisses
    -- Author Unknown

    The story goes that some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight, and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, "This is for you, Daddy."

    The man was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found out the box was empty. He yelled at her, stating, "Don't you know, when you give someone a present, there is supposed to be something inside? The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and cried, "Oh, Daddy, it's not empty at all. I blew kisses into the box. They're all for you, Daddy."

    The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness.

    Only a short time later, an accident took the life of the child. It is also told that her father kept that gold box by his bed for many years and, whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

    In a very real sense, each one of us, as humans beings, have been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses... from our children, family members, friends, and God. There is simply no other possession, anyone could hold, more precious than this.

    Nothing is more precious than the beauty of a child's perception. Please consider sharing this short story with loved ones. Thank

    Did You Know ?
    • 1911: Forty-six cars enter the first “500-mile Sweepstakes,” 44 show up, and 40 qualify. Qualifying consists of sustaining 75 mph for a quarter-mile down Indy’s front straight.
    • Paying $1 each for grandstand seats, 80,200 spectators turn out for the first 500.
    • Henry Ford is among the honorary judges for the 500-mile inaugural.
    • Of the 23 car makes represented in the inaugural 500, only ?three survive today: Buick, Fiat, and Mercedes.
    • Approximate 80,000 components come together to make an F1 car. The cars have to be assembled with cent per cent accuracy. If it were assembled 99.9% correctly, it would go on the track with 80 components wrongly placed.
    • F1 car engines complete their life in about two hours of racing. Just compare this with normal engines which go on serving us faithfully for decent 20 years.
    • An average person has over 1,460 dreams a year which is about 4 dreams every night!
    • On a clear night ,the human eye can see between 2000 to 3000 stars in the sky.
    • Do you know the similarity between human body and a banana? You will be amazed to know that 50% of human DNA is same as in banana!
    • The human body has enough iron in it to make 3 inches long nail.
    • June 5, 1909: Indy stages its first race. As construction crews toil below, the racers soar high above the surface—in gas balloons. Fisher’s balloon race draws nine starters, including himself. The winner spends more than a day in the air, alighting 382 miles away, in Alabama.
    Just For Laughs

    Acting Up In Church 

    One Sunday in a Midwest City, a young child was "acting up" during the morning worship hour. The parents did their best to maintain some sense of order in the pew but were losing the battle. 
           
    Finally, the father picked the little fellow up and walked sternly up the aisle on his way out. 
           
    Just before reaching the safety of the foyer, the little one called loudly to the congregation, "Pray for me! Pray for me!"

    Flying Sermons

    The pastor's wife is often his best friend... or severest critic. Realizing that her pastor husband did not have a good feeling about the sermon he had just delivered a few moments earlier, she asked, "So Honey, how do you feel about the service today?"

    "It was a good worship service," he responded in a somber tone, "the sermon just never got off the ground."

    Before she could stop the words from coming out of her mouth, she replied, "well, it sure taxied long enough!" 

    7 January 2018

    posted 5 Jan 2018, 21:23 by C S Paul

    7 January 2018

    Quotes to Inspire
    • "I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders." — Jewish Proverb
    • "When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." — Harriet Beecher Stowe
    • "Ninety percent of all those who fail are not actually defeated. They simply quit." — Paul J. Meyer
    • "To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge." — Benjamin Disraeli
    • "You are the one that has to make it happen." — Anon.
    • "Don't sacrifice your future on the altar of the immediate." — Anon.
    • “Success is the ability to embrace a worthwhile goal and employ all of your powers for the achievement of that goal.” — Anon.
    • In the end, life lived to its fullest is its own Ultimate Gift - Jim Stovall
    • "Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees." — J. Willard Marriott, Founder of Marriott Hotels
    • "It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." — Edmund Hillary

    From Russia with love

    Roger Darlington

    When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the communications trade union for which I then worked received several delegations from the emergent nations and we ran courses for them on how market economies operated and how free collective bargaining was conducted. As is my practice when lecturing to foreign audiences, I had my visual aids translated into the vernacular, so I used overhead slides in Russian, although of course I spoke in English and had an interpreter.

    I cannot read the cyrillic alphabet and know very little Russian, so I just worked through my slides in order. However, there came a point when I could tell from the statistical data on the latest slide that, for the previous ten minutes, I had been speaking to the wrong slide. British students would have pointed this out in seconds, but none of the Russians had said a word.

    I was perplexed and asked why nobody had told me that I had been speaking to the wrong slide. Eventually one brave soul volunteered an answer and the interpreter translated: "In our country, no one challenges the teacher".

    Believe what you feel

     by Mitch Albom

    On this day, Morrie says that he has an exercise for us to try. We are to stand, facing away from our classmates, and fall backward, relying on another student to catch us. Most of us are uncomfortable with this, and we cannot let go for more than a few inches before stopping ourselves. We laugh in embarrassment.

    Finally, one student, a thin, quiet, dark-haired girl whom I notice almost always wears bulky, white fisherman sweaters, crosses her arms over her chest, closes her eyes, leans back, and does not flinch, like one of those Lipton tea commercials where the model splashes into the pool.

    For a moment, I am sure she is going to thump on the floor. At the last instant, her assigned partner grabs her head and shoulders and yanks her up harshly.

    “Whoa!” several students yell. Some clap. Morrie finally smiles. “You see”, he says to the girl, “you closed your eyes. That was the difference. Sometimes you cannot believe what you see. You have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them too – even when you're in the dark. Even when you're falling."

    Drawing Heaven

    Akiane Kramarik, Child-prodigy

    I caught a video on YouTube about a CNN report showcasing the story of a very gifted 12-year-old artist named Akiane Kramarik. There have been several young gifted artists in the past, but Akiane is rather fascinating.

    What makes Akiane so unique is not so much how well she paints, but the subject of her work and her inspiration. When she was 4 she had many visions of meeting God. He told her that she needs to paint and help the less fortunate. He also noted that he’d be there to guide her along the way.

    When she has a vision, she doesn't even know what the 'meaning' is. She says she sees millions of colors with her visions of heaven that our eyes haven't even seen yet on earth.

    What makes her story even more bizarre is when you discover her mother is an Atheist and her father is a recovering Catholic. Religion was never discussed in the house and the kids are all homeschooled. Even her little brother is a talented, budding artist. Watch this short CNN Report below (3:22 min.):

    Akiane was born in Mount Morris, Illinois. She is primarily a self-taught painter, but she states that she is taught by God. She started drawing at age four, painting at six, and writing poetry at seven. Her first completed self-portrait sold for $10,000.00. A large portion of the money generated from sales is donated by Akiane to charities. Her art, which depicts life, landscape, and people, is inspired by her visions of heaven, and her personal connection with the Christian God.

    Here are some more interesting facts about Akaine...

    • Born underwater at home, on July 9, 1994, in Mount Morris, Illinois, to the atheistic stay-at-home Lithuanian homemaker mother, and an American father, chef and dietary manager.

    • Lived in Illinois, Missouri, Colorado and Idaho, experiencing poverty and affluence.

    • Having attended both public and private schools, now is home-schooled with her four brothers, Delfini 18, Jean Lu 16, Ilia 8, and Aurelius 2 years old.

    • Began drawing at 4, and painting at 6, teaching herself and learning mostly from her own keen observation and study.

    • Speaks four languages: Lithuanian, Russian, English and Sign Language

    • At 4, had a life-changing spiritual transformation, bringing the family to God.

    • At age 7 began writing poetry and aphorisms.

    • Her poems often arrive fully conceived.

    • The inspiration for her art and literature comes from her visions, dreams, observations of people, nature and God.

    • Paints from imagination, reference materials and models.

    • Favorite size canvases: 48 x 60 inches.

    • Considers her style: Akianism -a universal blend of realism and imaginism

    • Wants people to find hope in her paintings.

    • Has the same goal with each painting: to be an inspiration for others and to be the gift to God.

    • Favorite medium: acrylics for full figures, and oil paints for large portraits.

    • Rises at 4 a.m. five-six days a week to get ready to paint in the studio and write; works for about 4-5 hours each day.

    • Often works over a hundred to two hundred hours on a painting, producing 8 to 20 paintings a year.

    • Usually makes many sketches before painting.

    • Works on one painting at a time.

    • Favorite subject: people and spiritual subjects.

    • Has "start-to-finish" demonstration videos of her painting.

    • Favorite activities and hobbies: art, poetry, piano, reading and helping people.

    • Likes about herself: "sensitivity to people".

    • Does not like about herself: "impatience".

    • Assesses her own character: "daring heart and cautious mind".

    • Her biggest wish: "that everyone would love God and one another".

    • Her life goal: to share her love for God and people around the world.

    Just for Laughs

    The Shipwreck Survivor 

    One balmy day in the South Pacific, a navy ship espied smoke coming from one of three huts on an uncharted island. 
           
          Upon arriving at the shore they were met by a shipwreck survivor. He said, "I'm so glad       you're here! I've been alone on this island for more than five years!" 
           
          The captain replied, "If you're all alone on the island why do I see THREE huts." 
           
          The survivor said, "Oh. We'll, I live in one, and go to church in another." 
           
          "What about the THIRD hut?" asked the captain. 
           
          "That's where I USED to go to church."

    The Dead Church 

    A new Pastor in a small Oklahoma town spent the first four days making personal visits to each of the members, inviting them to come to his first services. 
           
    The following Sunday the church was all but empty. Accordingly, the Pastor placed a notice in the local newspapers, stating that, because the church was dead, it was everyone's duty to give it a decent Christian burial. The funeral would be held the following Sunday afternoon, the notice said. 
           
    Morbidly curious, a large crowd turned out for the "funeral." In front of the pulpit, they saw a closed coffin, smothered in flowers. After the Pastor delivered the eulogy, he opened the coffin and invited his congregation to come forward and pay their final respects to their dead church. 
           
    Filled with curiosity as to what would represent the corpse of a "dead church," all the people eagerly lined up to look in the coffin. Each "mourner" peeped into the coffin then quickly turned away with a guilty, sheepish look. 
           
    In the coffin, tilted at the correct angle, was a large mirror.


    Did You Know ?

    • An airbag moves up to 4500 mph within a second when triggered. A force of 200g is generated. They are designed to explode at an impact speed of 19 mph. The bag inflates within 40 milliseconds of a crash. 
    • In 1924 a Ford automobile cost $265. 
    • The word 'automobile' is a blend of French words 'auto' and 'mobile' which means self and moving respectively. 
    • Chevrolet Imphala was one such car that had enjoyed a breaking sales record of more than one million in 1965 
    • The Most expensive Car ever sold is 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe with price of  $87,00,000.
    • First Car Radio was invented by Paul Gavin in 1929.
    • Red Cars Are prohibited in Shanghai,China.
    • Being used in movie Gone in 60 seconds, 1967 Shelby Mustang GT-500 is recognizes as one of the most famous cars ever. 
    • 1906: Fisher and partners begin searching for speedway-suitable property. They?focus first on the resort town of ?French Lick, in southern Indiana. The French Lick 500: It’s got a nice ring to it.
    • 2 December 1908: The partners acquire 328 acres of farmland five miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis for $72,000. The basic 2.5-mile track design—developed with New ?York construction engineer Park T. Andrews—endures to this day.
    • The first steam car was invented in 1769 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in France. 
    • The first gasoline automobile was made in 1885 by Karl Friedrich of Germany. 
    • The car that sold more than one million units in 1965, setting a record that even stands till date is the Chevrolet Impala.
    • The first auto insurance policy was purchased in in 1897 in Westfield, MA. 
    • Windshield wipers were introduced by a woman. 

    31 December 2017

    posted 29 Dec 2017, 08:02 by C S Paul   [ updated 29 Dec 2017, 08:30 ]


    New Year Special


    31 December 2017

    Quotes for the New Year

    • Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. Ralph Waldo Emerson
    • Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. Helen Keller
    • Let our New Year's resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word. Goran Persson
    • The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals. Melody Beattie
    • And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been. Rainer Maria Rilke
    • Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man. Benjamin Franklin
    • Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas and progress. - Charles Kettering
    • Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. Oprah Winfrey
    • Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.' Alfred Lord Tennyson
    • Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Hal Borland
    • Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.' Alfred Lord Tennyson
    • Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed. Cavett Robert
    • I know. I'm lazy. But I made myself a New Years resolution that I would write myself something really special. Which means I have 'til December, right? Catherine O'Hara
    • New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time. James Agate
    • I have no way of knowing how people really feel, but the vast majority of those I meet couldn't be nicer. Every once in a while someone barks at me. My New Year's resolution is not to bark back. Tucker Carlson
    • First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you. - F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • Each age has deemed the new-born year the fittest time for festal cheer. Walter Scott
    • All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives. Steven Spielberg
    • I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the years'. Henry Moore
    • All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives. Steven Spielberg
    Don’t judge people before you truly know them.

    A 24 year old boy seeing out from the train’s window shouted…

    “Dad, look the trees are going behind!”

    Dad smiled and a young couple sitting nearby, looked at the 24 year old’s childish behavior with pity, suddenly he again exclaimed.

    “Dad, look the clouds are running with us!”

    The couple could not resist and said to the old man.

    “Why don’t you take your son to a good doctor?”

    The old man smiled and said…

    “I did and we are just coming from the hospital, my son was blind from birth, he just got his eyes today.”

    Moral of the short story:

    Every single person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them.

    A note by Benny Alexander.

    A 100 year old grand old man saw his grandson having a heated discussion with his wife. He asked his grandson, “Why do you raise your voice when you are angry with your wife?”

    Grandson: That is because I lose patience and that is why I raise my voice.

    Grandpa: But, your wife is near to you only. She can hear you even when you say the same sentence in a calm manner. Why do you have to raise your voice?

    Grandson: Because when I raise my voice, my voice is heard and I also let out the steam by raising my voice.

    Grandpa: That is not the exact reason my dear grandson. The reason is this. When you are angry with your wife, your heart moves away from her heart. So even when both of you are physically close to each other, you feel that you are far away from one another and hence raise your voice.

    Grandson: If that is the reason for raising the voice, what do we do when we are in love?

    Grandpa: When two people are in love, their hearts are close to each other. Even if you whisper softly, you both can hear very clearly. At such times one can communicate with their loved ones even through the language of silence.

    Burning Desire is the Secret to Success

    A young man asked Socrates the secret to success. Socrates told the young man to meet him near the river the next morning. They met. 

    Socrates asked the young man to walk with him towards the river. 

    When the water got up to their neck, Socrates took the young man by surprise and ducked him into the water. 

    The boy struggled to get out but Socrates was strong and kept him there until the boy started turning blue. 

    Socrates pulled his head out of the water and the first thing the young man did was to gasp and take a deep breath of air. Socrates asked, ‘What did you want the most when you were there?” The boy replied, “Air.” Socrates said, “That is the secret to success. When you want success as badly as you wanted the air, then you will get it.” There is no other secret.

    Moral of the short story:

    A burning desire is the starting point of all accomplishment. Just like a small fire cannot give much heat, a weak desire cannot produce great results.

    Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet.

    It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. 

    This way they covered & protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions. 

    After a while, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone & frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. 

    Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.

    The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others & can admire the other person’s good qualities.

    Moral of the short story:

    Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet.

    Life is a gift

    There was a blind girl who hated herself just because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She said that if she could only see the world, she would marry her boyfriend.

    One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her and then she could see everything, including her boyfriend. Her boyfriend asked her, “now that you can see the world, will you marry me?”

    The girl was shocked when she saw that her boyfriend was blind too, and refused to marry him. The boy walked away, and later he wrote a letter to her saying:

    “Just take care of my eyes dear.”

    This is how most of human brains behave after a change in status. Only few remember what life was before, and who’s always been there even in the most painful situations.

    In a world filled with hatred, there are very few people who truly care for fellow beings! Always keep them happy.

    Moral of the short story:

    Life is a gift – Live it, Enjoy it, Celebrate it, and Fulfill it.

    Pencil & Eraser 

    A very inspiring short story about two good friends. Check it out here (Friendship Short Story).

    Story 7:  (Update Friday, 6 December 12:05:47 p.m. (GMT + 0:00)

    Pencil: I’m sorry.

    Eraser: For what?

    Pencil: I’m sorry, you get hurt because of me. Whenever I make a mistake, you’re always there to erase it. But as you make my mistakes vanish, you lose a part of yourself and get smaller and smaller each time.

    Eraser: That’s true, but I don’t really mind. You see, I was made to do this, I was made to help you whenever you do something wrong, even though one day I know I’ll be gone. I’m actually happy with my job. So please, stop worrying, I will not be happy if I see you sad.

    Reflection:

    “Our Parents are just like the eraser, and we are the pencil. They’re always there for their children, cleaning up their mistakes. Sometimes along the way they get hurt and become smaller (older and eventually pass on).

    Moral:

    Take care of your Parents, treat them with kindness and most importantly love them.”

    Where there’s a will there’s a way !

    An old farmer wrote a letter to his innocent son in prison “This year I’m unable 2 plant potatoes because I can’t dig the ground. I know if you were here you would’ve helped me.”

    Son Replied: “You idiot dad, don’t dig the ground, I have hidden the guns there.” The Police read the letter, next day the ground was dug by the police, searched for guns but nothing was found.

    Son wrote again: Dad, the ground is now been dig up, you can now plant your potatoes, its the best I could do from here. Love you :)

    Moral: Where there’s a will, there is always a way!

    JUST FOR LAUGHS

    Lecture Tour with A Difference

    On New Year's Eve, Daniel was in no shape to drive, so he sensibly left his van in the car park and walked home.  As he was wobbling along, he was stopped by a policeman.  'What are you doing out here at four o'clock in the morning?' asked the police officer.

    'I'm on my way to a lecture,' answered Roger.

    'And who on earth, in their right mind, is going to give a lecture at this time on New Year's Eve?' enquired the constable sarcastically.

    'My wife,' slurred Daniel grimly.  

    Politician in Action

    A Senator in the USA was once asked about his attitude toward whisky.

    'If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, then I'm against it.  But if you mean the elixir of a New Year toast, the shield against winter chill, the taxable potion that puts needed funds into public coffers to comfort little crippled children, then I'm for it.  This is my position, and I will not compromise.'

    But not everyone is as lucky as I am......

    New Year's Day Prayer for One and All
    Dear Lord

    So far this year I've done well.

    I haven't gossiped, I haven't lost my temper, I haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm very 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 a lot more help.

    Amen 
    A New Year's Wish

    On New Year's Eve, Marilyn stood up in the local pub and said that it was time to get ready. At the stroke of midnight, she wanted every husband to be standing next to the one person who made his life worth living.

    Well, it was kind of embarrassing.  As the clock struck - the bartender was almost crushed to death.

    Did You Know?

    • The first month of the year in the Gregorian calendar- January has been named after God Janus, who holds two faces. One face of the God look backwards, while the other one look towards the future and represents the ‘spirit of the opening’.
    • People in countries like Mexico, Bolivia and Italy also follow a weird New Year tradition of wearing red underwear on the eve of the New Year. It is said to bring good luck for the entire year, while yellow underwear is also worn on the New Year’s Day as it symbolizes money. 
    • Some of the countries also follow the ritual of eating some lucky foods for the New Year. Spain has the ritual of eating twelve grapes-each for a month to bring about good fortune in the upcoming year. In Philippines, people prefer to eat food items in round shape to secure happiness and invite economic prosperity all round the year.
    • The common belief behind lighting up fireworks in some countries on New Year’s Day is that it not only illuminates the sky but also dispels bad spirits and unpleasant memories of the past.
    • The first New Year was celebrated 4,000 years by the ancient Babylonians.
    • More vehicles are stolen on New Year’s Day than any other holiday, statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau revealed.
    • In Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico, some families stuff a large doll, which is called Mr. Old Year, with memories from the past year. They also dress him in clothes from the outgoing year. At midnight, he is set ablaze, thus burning away the bad memories.
    • Chinese New Year is celebrated the second full moon after the winter solstice.
    • Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. Apples and honey are traditionally eaten.
    • In ancient Rome the new year began on March 1.

    24 December 2017

    posted 22 Dec 2017, 17:59 by C S Paul

    Christmas Special - IV
    animated Christmas tree with lights

    24 December 2017

    Thoughts for Christmas

    “A Christmas candle is a lovely thing; It makes no noise at all, But softly gives itself away; While quite unselfish, it grows small.” - Eva K. Logue
    • “Christmas renews our youth by stirring our wonder. The capacity for wonder has been called our most pregnant human faculty, for in it are born our art, our science, our religion." -  Ralph Sockman ~ (1889-1970), American religious leader.
    • “Except the Christ is born again tonight In dreams of all men, saints and sons of shame, The world will never see his kingdom bright. - Vachel Lindsay
    • “The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Saviour, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected. ”  Samuel Johnson
    • “There are some wonderful aspects to Christmas. It's magical. And each year, from at least November, well, September, well, if I'm honest, May, I look forward to it hugely.” Miranda Hart
    • “Mankind is a great, an immense family... This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.” - Pope John XXIII
    • “We must look to Mary's example to know how to deal with the glorious impossibilities of God. Look how she turned the world upside down by making one simple statement ...” Calvin Miller
    • “Before God does anything, before he makes anything for us to be sustained by, God says, "More than food, more than water, more than shelter, more than other people, they are going to need me.” - Wesley Miller
    • “Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” - Steve Maraboli
    • “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” - Hamilton Wright Mabie
    • “Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.” - Janice Maeditere
    • “What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace." - Agnes M. Pahro
    • “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”  Calvin Coolidge
    • “One of the things that Christmas reminds us is that Jesus Christ was once a child.” Hark Herald Sarmiento
    • “Christmas is a bridge. We need bridges as the river of time flows past. Today's Christmas should mean creating happy hours for tomorrow and reliving those of yesterday.” - Gladys Taber
    • “Peace on earth will come to stay, When we live Christmas every day.” - Helen Steiner Rice
    • "Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal." - Lenore Hershey 
    • "It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one's fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit." - Isabel Currier 
    • “Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall”  Larry Wilde
    • “Jesus soon is coming, and Christmas too, Good reason for being happy,Helping people to do.”  Miguel Ángel Sáez Gutiérrez
    • “Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white'." -  Bing Crosby (1904-1977), American singer and film actor
    • “The worst gift I was given is when I got out of rehab that Christmas; a bottle of wine. It was delicious.” - Craig Ferguson
    • “It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one's fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit.”  Isabel Currier


    sXmas_carolers_100-100 THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS 

    taken from the classic

    BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST 

    by Lew Wallace

    BOOK FIRST - CHAPTER XIII 

    ................. The air of the chamber was heavy with the perfume of sandal-wood, and all the appointments within were effeminately rich. Upon the floor, covering the central space, a tufted rug was spread, and upon that a throne was set. The visitors had but time, however, to catch a confused idea of the place--of carved and gilt ottomans and couches; of fans and jars and musical instruments; of golden candlesticks glittering in their own lights; of walls painted in the style of the voluptuous Grecian school, one look at which had made a Pharisee hide his head with holy horror. Herod, sitting upon the throne to receive them, clad as when at the conference with the doctors and lawyers, claimed all their minds.

    At the edge of the rug, to which they advanced uninvited, they prostrated themselves. The king touched a bell. An attendant came in, and placed three stools before the throne.

    "Seat yourselves," said the monarch, graciously.

    "From the North Gate," he continued, when they were at rest, "I had this afternoon report of the arrival of three strangers, curiously mounted, and appearing as if from far countries. Are you the men?"

    The Egyptian took the sign from the Greek and the Hindoo, and answered, with the profoundest salaam, "Were we other than we are, the mighty Herod, whose fame is as incense to the whole world, would not have sent for us. We may not doubt that we are the strangers."

    Herod acknowledged the speech with a wave of the hand.

    "Who are you? Whence do you come?" he asked, adding significantly, "Let each speak for himself."

    In turn they gave him account, referring simply to the cities and lands of their birth, and the routes by which they came to Jerusalem. Somewhat disappointed, Herod plied them more directly.

    "What was the question you put to the officer at the gate?"

    "We asked him, Where is he that is born King of the Jews."

    "I see now why the people were so curious. You excite me no less. Is there another King of the Jews?"

    The Egyptian did not blanch.

    "There is one newly born."

    An expression of pain knit the dark face of the monarch, as if his mind were swept by a harrowing recollection.

    "Not to me, not to me!" he exclaimed.

    Possibly the accusing images of his murdered children flitted before him; recovering from the emotion, whatever it was, he asked, steadily, "Where is the new king?"

    "That, O king, is what we would ask."

    "You bring me a wonder--a riddle surpassing any of Solomon's," the inquisitor said next. "As you see, I am in the time of life when curiosity is as ungovernable as it was in childhood, when to trifle with it is cruelty. Tell me further, and I will honor you as kings honor each other. Give me all you know about the newly born, and I will join you in the search for him; and when we have found him, I will do what you wish; I will bring him to Jerusalem, and train him in kingcraft; I will use my grace with Caesar for his promotion and glory. Jealousy shall not come between us, so I swear. But tell me first how, so widely separated by seas and deserts, you all came to hear of him."

    "I will tell you truly, O king."

    "Speak on," said Herod.

    Balthasar raised himself erect, and said, solemnly, "There is an Almighty God."

    Herod was visibly startled.

    "He bade us come hither, promising that we should find the Redeemer of the World; that we should see and worship him, and bear witness that he was come; and, as a sign, we were each given to see a star. His Spirit stayed with us. O king, his Spirit is with us now!"

    An overpowering feeling seized the three. The Greek with difficulty restrained an outcry. Herod's gaze darted quickly from one to the other; he was more suspicious and dissatisfied than before.

    "You are mocking me," he said. "If not, tell me more. What is to follow the coming of the new king?"

    "The salvation of men."

    "From what?"

    "Their wickedness."

    "How?"

    "By the divine agencies--Faith, Love, and Good Works."

    "Then"--Herod paused, and from his look no man could have said with what feeling he continued--"you are the heralds of the Christ. Is that all?"

    Balthasar bowed low.

    "We are your servants, O king."

    The monarch touched a bell, and the attendant appeared.

    "Bring the gifts," the master said.

    The attendant went out, but in a little while returned, and, kneeling before the guests, gave to each one an outer robe or mantle of scarlet and blue, and a girdle of gold. They acknowledged the honors with Eastern prostrations.

    "A word further," said Herod, when the ceremony was ended. "To the officer of the gate, and but now to me, you spoke of seeing a star in the east."

    "Yes," said Balthasar, "his star, the star of the newly born."

    "What time did it appear?"

    "When we were bidden come hither."

    Herod arose, signifying the audience was over. Stepping from the throne towards them, he said, with all graciousness,

    "If, as I believe, O illustrious men, you are indeed the heralds of the Christ just born, know that I have this night consulted those wisest in things Jewish, and they say with one voice he should be born in Bethlehem of Judea. I say to you, go thither; go and search diligently for the young child; and when you have found him bring me word again, that I may come and worship him. To your going there shall be no let or hindrance. Peace be with you!" And, folding his robe about him, he left the chamber.

    Directly the guide came, and led them back to the street, and thence to the khan, at the portal of which the Greek said, impulsively, "Let us to Bethlehem, O brethren, as the king has advised."

    "Yes," cried the Hindoo. "The Spirit burns within me."

    "Be it so," said Balthasar, with equal warmth. "The camels are ready."

    They gave gifts to the steward, mounted into their saddles, received directions to the Joppa Gate, and departed. At their approach the great valves were unbarred, and they passed out into the open country, taking the road so lately travelled by Joseph and Mary. As they came up out of Hinnom, on the plain of Rephaim, a light appeared, at first wide-spread and faint.

    Their pulses fluttered fast. The light intensified rapidly; they closed their eyes against its burning brilliance: when they dared look again, lo! the star, perfect as any in the heavens, but low down and moving slowly before them. And they folded their hands, and shouted, and rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

    "God is with us! God is with us!" they repeated, in frequent cheer, all the way, until the star, rising out of the valley beyond Mar Elias, stood still over a house up on the slope of the hill near the town.

    BOOK FIRST - CHAPTER XIV

    It was now the beginning of the third watch, and at Bethlehem the morning was breaking over the mountains in the east, but so feebly that it was yet night in the valley. The watchman on the roof of the old khan, shivering in the chilly air, was listening for the first distinguishable sounds with which life, awakening, greets the dawn, when a light came moving up the hill towards the house. He thought it a torch in some one's hand; next moment he thought it a meteor; the brilliance grew, however, until it became a star. Sore afraid, he cried out, and brought everybody within the walls to the roof. The phenomenon, in eccentric motion, continued to approach; the rocks, trees, and roadway under it shoneas in a glare of lightning; directly its brightness became blinding.

    The more timid of the beholders fell upon their knees, and prayed, with their faces hidden; the boldest, covering their eyes, crouched, and now and then snatched glances fearfully. Afterwhile the khan andeverything thereabout lay under the intolerable radiance. Such as dared look beheld the star standing still directly over the house in front of the cave where the Child had been born.

    In the height of this scene, the wise men came up, and at the gate dismounted from their camels, and shouted for admission. When the steward so far mastered his terror as to give them heed, he drew the bars and opened to them. The camels looked spectral in the unnatural light, and, besides their outlandishness, there were in the faces and manner of the three visitors an eagerness and exaltation which still further excited the keeper's fears and fancy; he fell back, and for a time could not answer the question they put to him.

    "Is not this Bethlehem of Judea?"

    But others came, and by their presence gave him assurance.

    "No, this is but the khan; the town lies farther on."

    "Is there not here a child newly born?"

    The bystanders turned to each other marvelling, though some of them answered, "Yes, yes."

    "Show us to him!" said the Greek, impatiently.

    "Show us to him!" cried Balthasar, breaking through his gravity; "for we have seen his star, even that which ye behold over the house, and are come to worship him."

    The Hindoo clasped his hands, exclaiming, "God indeed lives! Make haste, make haste! The Savior is found. Blessed, blessed are we above men!"

    The people from the roof came down and followed the strangers as they were taken through the court and out into the enclosure; at sight of the star yet above the cave, though less candescent than before, some turned back afraid; the greater part went on.

    As the strangers neared the house, the orb arose; when they were at the door, it was high up overhead vanishing; when they entered, it went out lost to sight. And to the witnesses of what then took place came a conviction that there was a divine relation between the star and the strangers, which extended also to at least some of the occupants of the cave. When the door was opened, they crowded in.

    The apartment was lighted by a lantern enough to enable the strangers to find the mother, and the child awake in her lap.

    "Is the child thine?" asked Balthasar of Mary.

    And she who had kept all the things in the least affecting the little one, and pondered them in her heart, held it up in the light, saying,

    "He is my son!"

    And they fell down and worshipped him.

    They saw the child was as other children: about its head was neither nimbus nor material crown; its lips opened not in speech; if it heard their expressions of joy, their invocations, their prayers, it made no sign whatever, but, baby-like, looked longer at the flame in the lantern than at them.

    In a little while they arose, and, returning to the camels, brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and laid them before the child, abating nothing of their worshipful speeches; of which no part is given, for the thoughtful know that the pure worship of the pure heart was then what it is now, and has always been, an inspired song.

    And this was the Savior they had come so far to find!

    Yet they worshipped without a doubt.

    Why?

    Their faith rested upon the signs sent them by him whom we have since come to know as the Father; and they were of the kind to whom his promises were so all-sufficient that they asked nothing about his ways. Few there were who had seen the signs and heard the promises--the Mother and Joseph, the shepherds, and the Three—yet they all believed alike; that is to say, in this period of the plan of salvation, God was all and the Child nothing. But look forward, O reader! A time will come when the signs will all proceed from the Son. Happy they who then believe in him! 

    Let us wait that period.


    sXmas_santahat_100-101 THE GIFT OF THE MAGI
    by O. Henry

    One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

    There was clearly nothing to do, but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

    While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

    In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."

    The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

    Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim.

    There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

    Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its colour within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

    Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

    So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

    On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

    Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."

    "Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

    "I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

    Down rippled the brown cascade.

    "Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

    "Give it to me quick," said Della.

    Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

    She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

    When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.

    Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

    "If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"

    At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

    Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

    The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

    Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

    Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

    "Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

    "You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

    "Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"

    Jim looked about the room curiously.

    "You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

    "You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

    Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

    Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

    "Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

    White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

    For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

    But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

    And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

    Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

    "Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

    Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

    "Dell," said he, " let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

    The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.


    sXmas_santahat_100-101 The Little Match Girl

    Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening-- the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but what was the good of that? They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn; so large were they; and the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street, because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.

    One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle when he some day or other should have children himself. So the little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue from a cold. She carried a quantity of matches in an old apron, and she held a bundle of them in her hand. Nobody had bought anything of her the whole livelong day; no one had given her a single farthing.

    She crept along trembling with cold and hunger--a very picture of sorrow, the poor little thing!

    The flakes of snow covered her long fair hair, which fell in beautiful curls around her neck, but of that, of course, she never once now thought. From all the windows the candles were gleaming, and it smelt so deliciously of roast goose, for you know it was New Year's Eve; yes, of that she thought.

    In a corner formed by two houses, of which one advanced more than the other, she seated herself down and cowered together. Her little feet she had drawn close up to her, but she grew colder and colder, and to go home she did not venture, for she had not sold any matches and could not bring a farthing of money: from her father she would certainly get blows, and at home it was cold too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the wind whistled, even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags.

    Her little hands were almost numbed with cold. Oh! a match might afford her a world of comfort, if she only dared take a single one out of the bundle, draw it against the wall, and warm her fingers by it. She drew one out. "Rischt!" how it blazed, how it burnt! It was a warm, bright flame, like a candle, as she held her hands over it: it was a wonderful light. It seemed really to the little maiden as though she were sitting before a large iron stove, with burnished brass feet and a brass ornament at top. The fire burned with such blessed influence; it warmed so delightfully. The little girl had already stretched out her feet to warm them too; but--the small flame went out, the stove vanished: she had only the remains of the burnt-out match in her hand.

    She rubbed another against the wall: it burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she could see into the room. On the table was spread a snow-white tablecloth; upon it was a splendid porcelain service, and the roast goose was steaming famously with its stuffing of apple and dried plums. And what was still more capital to behold was, the goose hopped down from the dish, reeled about on the floor with knife and fork in its breast, till it came up to the poor little girl; when--the match went out and nothing but the thick, cold, damp wall was left behind. She lighted another match. Now there she was sitting under the most magnificent Christmas tree: it was still larger and more decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door in the rich merchant's house.

    Thousands of lights were burning on the green branches, and gaily-colored pictures, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. The little maiden stretched out her hands towards them when--the match went out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now as stars in heaven; one fell down and formed a long trail of fire.

    "Someone is just dead!" said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.

    She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love.

    "Grandmother!" cried the little one. "Oh, take me with you! You go away when the match burns out; you vanish like the warm stove, like the delicious roast goose, and like the magnificent Christmas tree!" And she rubbed the whole bundle of matches quickly against the wall, for she wanted to be quite sure of keeping her grandmother near her. And the matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day: never formerly had the grandmother been so beautiful and so tall. She took the little maiden, on her arm, and both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety--they were with God.

    But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall--frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. Stiff and stark sat the child there with her matches, of which one bundle had been burnt. "She wanted to warm herself," people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what beautiful things she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.


    sXmas_santahat_100-101 A Letter from Santa Claus
    by Mark Twain

    Palace of Saint Nicholas in the Moon
    Christmas Morning

    My Dear Susy Clemens,

    I have received and read all the letters which you and your little sister have written me . . . . I can read your and your baby sister's jagged and fantastic marks without any trouble at all. But I had trouble with those letters which you dictated through your mother and the nurses, for I am a foreigner and cannot read English writing well. You will find that I made no mistakes about the things which you and the baby ordered in your own letters--I went down your chimney at midnight when you were asleep and delivered them all myself--and kissed both of you, too . . . . But . . . there were . . . one or two small orders which I could not fill because we ran out of stock . . . .

    There was a word or two in your mama's letter which . . . I took to be "a trunk full of doll's clothes." Is that it? I will call at your kitchen door about nine o'clock this morning to inquire. But I must not see anybody and I must not speak to anybody but you. When the
    kitchen doorbell rings, George must be blindfolded and sent to the door. You must tell George he must walk on tiptoe, and not speak-- otherwise he will die someday. Then you must go up to the nursery and stand on a chair or the nurse's bed and put your ear to the
    speaking tube that leads down to the kitchen and when I whistle through it you must speak in the tube and say, "Welcome, Santa Claus!" Then I will ask whether it was a trunk you ordered or not.

    If you say it was, I shall ask you what color you want the trunk to be . . . and then you must tell me every single thing in detail which you want the trunk to contain. Then when I say "Good-by and a merry Christmas to my little Susy Clemens," you must say "Good-by, good old Santa Claus, I thank you very much." Then you must go down into the library and make George close all the doors that open into the main hall, and everybody must keep still for a little while. I will go to the moon and get those things and in a few minutes I will come down the chimney that belongs to the fireplace that is in the hall--if it is a trunk you want--because I couldn't get such a thing as a trunk down the nursery chimney, you know . . . .If I should leave any snow in the hall, you must tell George to sweep it into the fireplace, for I haven't time to do such things. George must not use a broom, but a rag--else he will die someday . . . . If my boot should leave a stain on the marble, George must not holystone it
    away. Leave it there always in memory of my visit; and whenever you look at it or show it to anybody you must let it remind you to be a good little girl. Whenever you are naughty and someone points to that mark which your good old Santa Claus's boot made on the marble, what will you say, little sweetheart?

    Good-by for a few minutes, till I come down to the world and ring the kitchen doorbell.

    Your loving Santa Claus

    Whom people sometimes call "The Man in the Moon"


    sXmas_santahat_100-101 The Elves and the Shoemaker
    by Brothers Grimm

    A shoemaker, by no fault of his own, had become so poor that at last he had nothing left but leather for one pair of shoes. So in the evening, he cut out the shoes which he wished to begin to make the next morning, and as he had a good conscience, he lay down quietly in his bed, commended himself to God, and fell asleep. In the morning, after he had said his prayers, and was just going to sit down to work, the two shoes stood quite finished on his table. He was astounded, and knew not what to say to it. He took the shoes in his hands to observe them closer, and they were so neatly made that there was not one bad stitch in them, just as if they were intended as a masterpiece.

    Soon after, a buyer came in, and as the shoes pleased him so well, he paid more for them than was customary, and, with the money, the shoemaker was able to purchase leather for two pairs of shoes. He cut them out at night, and the next morning was about to set to work with fresh courage, but he had no need to do so, for, when he got up, they were already made, and buyers also were not wanting, who gave him money enough to buy leather for four pairs of shoes. The following morning, too, he found the four pairs made; and so it went on constantly — what he cut out in the evening was finished by the morning, so that he soon had his honest independence again, and at last became a wealthy man.

    Now it befell that one evening not long before Christmas, when the man had been cutting out, he said to his wife, before going to bed, "What think you if we were to stay up to-night to see who it is that lends us this helping hand?" The woman liked the idea, and lighted a candle, and then they hid themselves in a corner of the room, behind some clothes which were hanging up there, and watched. When it was midnight, two pretty little naked men came, sat down by the shoemaker's table, took all the work which was cut out before them and began to stitch, and sew, and hammer so skilfully and so quickly with their little fingers that the shoemaker could not turn away his eyes for astonishment. They did not stop until all was done, and stood finished on the table; and then they ran quickly away.

    Next morning the woman said, "The little men have made us rich, and we really must show that we are grateful for it. They run about so, and have nothing on, and must be cold. I'll tell thee what I'll do: I will make them little shirts, and coats, and vests, and trousers, and knit both of them a pair of stockings, and do thou, too, make them two little pairs of shoes." The man said, "I shall be very glad to do it;" and one night, when everything was ready, they laid their presents all together on the table instead of the cut-out work, and then concealed themselves to see how the little men would behave. At midnight they came bounding in, and wanted to get to work at once, but as they did not find any leather cut out, but only the pretty little articles of clothing, they were at first astonished, and then they showed intense delight. They dressed themselves with the greatest rapidity, putting the pretty clothes on, and singing, "Now we are boys so fine to see, Why should we longer cobblers be?"

    Then they danced and skipped and leapt over chairs and benches. At last they danced out of doors. From that time forth they came no more, but as long as the shoemaker lived all went well with him, and all his undertakings prospered.

     
    sXmas_santahat_100-101 Christmas Day in the Morning
    By Pearl S. Buck

    He woke suddenly and completely. It was four o'clock, the hour at which his father had always called him to get up and help with the milking. Strange how the habits of his youth clung to him still! Fifty years ago, and his father had been dead for thirty years, and yet he waked at four o'clock in the morning. He had trained himself to turn over and go to sleep, but this morning it was Christmas, he did not try to sleep.

    Why did he feel so awake tonight? He slipped back in time, as he did so easily nowadays. He was fifteen years old and still on his father's farm. He loved his father. He had not known it until one day a few days before Christmas, when he had overheard what his father was saying to his mother.

    "Mary, I hate to call Rob in the mornings. He's growing so fast, and he needs his sleep. If you could see how he sleeps when I go in to wake him up! I wish I could manage alone

    "Well, you can't, Adam." His mother's voice was brisk. "Besides, he isn't a child anymore. It's time he took his turn."

    "Yes," his father said slowly. "But I sure do hate to wake him."

    When he heard these words, something in him spoke: his father loved him! He had never thought of that before, taking for granted the tie of their blood. Neither his father nor his mother talked about loving their children--they had no time for such things. There was always so much to do on the farm.

    Now that he knew his father loved him, there would be no loitering in the mornings and having to be called again. He got up after that, stumbling blindly in his sleep, and pulled on his clothes, his eyes shut, but he got up.

    And then on the night before Christmas, that year when he was fifteen, he lay for a few minutes thinking about the next day. They were poor, and most of the excitement was in the turkey they had raised themselves and mince pies his mother made. His sisters sewed presents and his mother and father always bought him something he needed, not only a warm jacket, maybe, but something more, such as a book. And he saved and bought them each something, too.

    He wished, that Christmas when he was fifteen, he had a better present for his father. As usual he had gone to the ten-cent store and bought a tie. It had seemed nice enough until he lay thinking the night before Christmas. He looked out of his attic window, the stars were bright.

    "Dad," he had once asked when he was a little boy, "What is a stable?"

    "It's just a barn," his father had replied, "like ours."

    Then Jesus had been born in a barn, and to a barn the shepherds had come...

    The thought struck him like a silver dagger. Why should he not give his father a special gift too, out there in the barn? He could get up early, earlier than four o'clock, and he could creep into the barn and get all the milking done. He'd do it alone, milk and clean up, and then when his father went in to start the milking he'd see it all done. And he would know who had done it. He laughed to himself as he gazed at the stars. It was what he would do, and he musn't sleep too sound.

    He must have waked twenty times, scratching a match to look each time to look at his old watch -- midnight, and half past one, and then two o'clock.

    At a quarter to three he got up and put on his clothes. He crept downstairs, careful of the creaky boards, and let himself out. The cows looked at him, sleepy and surprised. It was early for them, too.

    He had never milked all alone before, but it seemed almost easy. He kept thinking about his father's surprise. His father would come in and get him, saying that he would get things started while Rob was getting dressed. He'd go to the barn, open the door, and then he'd go get the two big empty milk cans. But they wouldn't be waiting or empty, they'd be standing in the milk-house, filled.

    "What the--," he could hear his father exclaiming.

    He smiled and milked steadily, two strong streams rushing into the pail, frothing and fragrant.

    The task went more easily than he had ever known it to go before. Milking for once was not a chore. It was something else, a gift to his father who loved him. He finished, the two milk cans were full, and he covered them and closed the milk-house door carefully, making sure of the latch.

    Back in his room he had only a minute to pull off his clothes in the darkness and jump into bed, for he heard his father up. He put the covers over his head to silence his quick breathing. The door opened.

    "Rob!" His father called. "We have to get up, son, even if it is Christmas."

    "Aw-right," he said sleepily.

    The door closed, and he lay still, laughing to himself. In just a few minutes his father would know. His dancing heart was ready to jump from his body.

    The minutes were endless -- ten, fifteen, he did not know how many -- and he heard his father's footsteps again. The door opened, and he lay still.

    "Rob!"

    "Yes, Dad--"

    His father was laughing, a queer sobbing sort of laugh.

    "Thought you'd fool me, did you?" His father was standing by his bed, feeling for him, pulling away the cover.

    "It's for Christmas, Dad!"

    He found his father and clutched him in a great hug. He felt his father's arms go around him. It was dark, and they could not see each other's faces.

    "Son, I thank you. Nobody ever did a nicer thing--"

    "Oh, Dad, I want you to know -- I do want to be god!" The words broke from him of their own will. He did not know what to say. His heart was bursting with love.

    He got up and pulled on his clothes again, and they went down to the Christmas tree. Oh what a Christmas, and how his heart had nearly burst again with shyness and pride as his father told his mother and made the younger children listen about how he, Rob, had got up all by himself.

    "The best Christmas gift I ever had, and I'll remember it, son every year on Christmas morning, so long as I live."

    They had both remembered it, and now that his father was dead, he remembered it alone: that blessed Christmas dawn when, alone with the cows in the barn, he had made his first gift of true love.

    This Christmas he wanted to write a card to his wife and tell her how much he loved her, it had been a long time since he had really told her, although he loved her in a very special way, much more than he ever had when they were young. He had been fortunate that she had loved him. Ah, that was the true joy of life, the ability to love. Love was still alive in him, it still was.

    It occurred to him suddenly that it was alive because long ago it had been born in him when he knew his father loved him. That was it: Love alone could awaken love. And he could give the gift again and again.This morning, this blessed Christmas morning, he would give it to his beloved wife. He could write it down in a letter for her to read and keep forever. He went to his desk and began his love letter to his wife: My dearest love...

    Such a happy, happy Christmas!


    sXmas_santahat_100-101 THE CHRISTMAS CUCKOO
    By Frances Browne [Adapted]

    Once upon a time there stood in the midst of a bleak moor, in the North Country, a certain village. All its inhabitants were poor, for their fields were barren, and they had little trade; but the poorest of them all were two brothers called Scrub and Spare, who followed the cobbler's craft. Their hut was built of clay and wattles. The door was low and always open, for there was no window. The roof did not entirely keep out the rain and the only thing comfortable was a wide fireplace, for which the brothers could never find wood enough to make sufficient fire. There they worked in most brotherly friendship, though with little encouragement.

    On one unlucky day a new cobbler arrived in the village. He had lived in the capital city of the kingdom and, by his own account, cobbled for the queen and the princesses. His awls were sharp, his lasts were new; he set up his stall in a neat cottage with two windows. The villagers soon found out that one patch of his would out wear two of the brothers'. In short, all the mending left Scrub and Spare, and went to the new cobbler.

    The season had been wet and cold, their barley did not ripen well, and the cabbages never half- closed in the garden. So the brothers were poor that winter, and when Christmas came they had nothing to feast on but a barley loaf and a piece of rusty bacon. Worse than that, the snow was very deep and they could get no firewood.

    Their hut stood at the end of the village; beyond it spread the bleak moor, now all white and silent. But that moor had once been a forest; great roots of old trees were still to be found in it, loosened from the soil and laid bare by the winds and rains. One of these, a rough, gnarled log, lay hard by their door, the half of it above the snow, and Spare said to his brother: --

    "Shall we sit here cold on Christmas while the great root lies yonder? Let us chop it up for firewood, the work will make us warm."

    "No," said Scrub, "it's not right to chop wood on Christmas; besides, that root is too hard to be broken with any hatchet."

    "Hard or not, we must have a fire," replied Spare. "Come, brother, help me in with it. Poor as we are there is nobody in the village will have such a yule log as ours."

    Scrub liked a little grandeur, and, in hopes of having a fine yule log, both brothers strained and strove with all their might till, between pulling and pushing, the great old root was safe on the hearth, and beginning to crackle and blaze with the red embers.

    In high glee the cobblers sat down to their bread and bacon. The door was shut, for there was nothing but cold moonlight and snow outside; but the hut, strewn with fir boughs and ornamented with holly, looked cheerful as the ruddy blaze flared up and rejoiced their hearts.

    Then suddenly from out the blazing root they heard: "Cuckoo! cuckoo!" as plain as ever the spring-bird's voice came over the moor on a May morning.

    "What is that?" said Scrub, terribly frightened; "it is something bad!"

    "Maybe not," said Spare.

    And out of the deep hole at the side of the root, which the fire had not reached, flew a large, gray cuckoo, and lit on the table before them. Much as the cobblers had been surprised, they were still more so when it said: --

    "Good gentlemen, what season is this?"

    "It's Christmas," said Spare.

    "Then a merry Christmas to you!" said the cuckoo. "I went to sleep in the hollow of that old root one evening last summer, and never woke till the heat of your fire made me think it was summer again. But now since you have burned my lodging, let me stay in your hut till the spring comes round, -- I only want a hole to sleep in, and when I go on my travels next summer be assured I will bring you some present for your trouble."

    "Stay and welcome," said Spare, while Scrub sat wondering if it were something bad or not.

    "I'll make you a good warm hole in the thatch," said Spare. "But you must be hungry after that long sleep, -- here is a slice of barley bread. Come help us to keep Christmas!"

    The cuckoo ate up the slice, drank water from a brown jug, and flew into a snug hole which Spare scooped for it in the thatch of the hut.

    Scrub said he was afraid it wouldn't be lucky; but as it slept on and the days passed he forgot his fears.

    So the snow melted, the heavy rains came, the cold grew less, the days lengthened, and one sunny morning the brothers were awakened by the cuckoo shouting its own cry to let them know the spring had come.

    "Now I'm going on my travels," said the bird, "over the world to tell men of the spring. There is no country where trees bud, or flowers bloom, that I will not cry in before the year goes round. Give me another slice of barley bread to help me on my journey, and tell me what present I shall bring you at the twelve month's end."

    Scrub would have been angry with his brother for cutting so large a slice, their store of barley being low, but his mind was occupied with what present it would be most prudent to ask for.

    "There are two trees hard by the well that lies at the world's end," said the cuckoo; "one of them is called the golden tree, for its leaves are all of beaten gold. Every winter they fall into the well with a sound like scattered coin, and I know not what becomes of them. As for the other, it is always green like a laurel. Some call it the wise, and some the merry, tree. Its leaves never fall, but they that get one of them keep a blithe heart in spite of all misfortunes, and can make themselves as merry in a hut as in a palace."

    "Good master cuckoo, bring me a leaf off that tree!" cried Spare.

    "Now, brother, don't be a fool!" said Scrub; "think of the leaves of beaten gold! Dear master cuckoo, bring me one of them!"

    Before another word could be spoken the cuckoo had flown out of the open door, and was shouting its spring cry over moor and meadow.

    The brothers were poorer than ever that year. Nobody would send them a single shoe to mend, and Scrub and Spare would have left the village but for their barley-field and their cabbage- garden. They sowed their barley, planted their cabbage, and, now that their trade was gone, worked in the rich villagers' fields to make out a scanty living.

    So the seasons came and passed; spring, summer, harvest, and winter followed each other as they have done from the beginning. At the end of the latter Scrub and Spare had grown so poor and ragged that their old neighbours forgot to invite them to wedding feasts or merry makings, and the brothers thought the cuckoo had forgotten them, too, when at daybreak on the first of April they heard a hard beak knocking at their door, and a voice crying: --

    "Cuckoo! cuckoo! Let me in with my presents!"

    Spare ran to open the door, and in came the cuckoo, carrying on one side of its bill a golden leaf larger than that of any tree in the North Country, and in the other side of its bill, one like that of the common laurel, only it had a fresher green.

    "Here," it said, giving the gold to Scrub and the green to Spare, "it is a long carriage from the world's end. Give me a slice of barley bread, for I must tell the North Country that the spring has come."

    Scrub did not grudge the thickness of that slice, though it was cut from their last loaf. So much gold had never been in the cobbler's hands before, and he could not help exulting over his brother.

    "See the wisdom of my choice," he said, holding up the large leaf of gold. "As for yours, as good might be plucked from any hedge, I wonder a sensible bird would carry the like so far."

    "Good master cobbler," cried the cuckoo, finishing its slice, "your conclusions are more hasty than courteous. If your brother is disappointed this time, I go on the same journey every year, and for your hospitable entertainment will think it no trouble to bring each of you whichever leaf you desire."

    "Darling cuckoo," cried Scrub, "bring me a golden one."

    And Spare, looking up from the green leaf on which he gazed as though it were a crown-jewel, said: --

    "Be sure to bring me one from the merry tree."

    And away flew the cuckoo.

    "This is the feast of All Fools, and it ought to be your birthday," said Scrub. "Did ever man fling away such an opportunity of getting rich? Much good your merry leaves will do in the midst of rags and poverty!"

    But Spare laughed at him, and answered with quaint old proverbs concerning the cares that come with gold, till Scrub, at length getting angry, vowed his brother was not fit to live with a respectable man; and taking his lasts, his awls, and his golden leaf, he left the wattle hut, and went to tell the villagers.

    They were astonished at the folly of Spare, and charmed with Scrub's good sense, particularly when he showed them the golden leaf, and told that the cuckoo would bring him one every spring.

    The new cobbler immediately took him into partnership; the greatest people sent him their shoes to mend. Fairfeather, a beautiful village maiden, smiled graciously upon him; and in the course of that summer they were married, with a grand wedding feast, at which the whole village danced except Spare, who was not invited, because the bride could not bear his low-mindedness, and his brother thought him a disgrace to the family.

    As for Scrub he established himself with Fairfeather in a cottage close by that of the new cobbler, and quite as fine. There he mended shoes to everybody's satisfaction, had a scarlet coat and a fat goose for dinner on holidays. Fairfeather, too, had a crimson gown, and fine blue ribbons; but neither she nor Scrub was content, for to buy this grandeur the golden leaf had to be broken and parted With piece by piece, so the last morsel was gone before the cuckoo came with another.

    Spare lived on in the old hut, and worked in the cabbage-garden. [Scrub had got the barley-field because he was the elder.] Every day his coat grew more ragged, and the hut more weather- beaten; but people remarked that he never looked sad or sour. And the wonder was that, from the time any one began to keep his company, he or she grew kinder, happier, and content.

    Every first of April the cuckoo came tapping at their doors with the golden leaf for Scrub, and the green for Spare. Fairfeather would have entertained it nobly with wheaten bread and honey, for she had some notion of persuading it to bring two golden leaves instead of one; but the cuckoo flew away to eat barley bread with Spare, saying it was not fit company for fine people, and liked the old hut where it slept so snugly from Christmas till spring.

    Scrub spent the golden leaves, and remained always discontented; and Spare kept the merry ones.

    I do not know how many years passed in this manner, when a certain great lord, who owned that village, came to the neighbourhood. His castle stood on the moor. It was ancient and strong, with high towers and a deep moat. All the country as far as one could see from the highest turret belonged to its lord; but he had not been there for twenty years, and would not have come then only he was melancholy. And there he lived in a very bad temper. The servants said nothing would please him, and the villagers put on their worst clothes lest he should raise their rents.

    But one day in the harvest-time His Lordship chanced to meet Spare gathering water-cresses at a meadow stream, and fell into talk with the cobbler. How it was nobody could tell, but from that hour the great lord cast away his melancholy. He forgot all his woes, and went about with a noble train, hunting, fishing, and making merry in his hall, where all travelers were entertained, and all the poor were welcome.

    This strange story spread through the North Country, and great company came to the cobbler's hut, -- rich men who had lost their money, poor men who had lost their friends, beauties who had grown old, wits who had gone out of fashion, -- all came to talk with Spare, and, whatever their troubles had been, all went home merry.

    The rich gave him presents, the poor gave him thanks. Spare's coat ceased to be ragged, he had bacon with his cabbage, and the villagers began to think there was some sense in him.

    By this time his fame had reached the capital city, and even the court. There were a great many discontented people there; and the king had lately fallen into ill humour because a neighbouring princess, with seven islands for her dowry, would not marry his eldest son.

    So a royal messenger was sent to Spare, with a velvet mantle, a diamond ring, and a command that he should repair to court immediately.

    "To-morrow is the first of April," said Spare, "and I will go with you two hours after sunrise."

    The messenger lodged all night at the castle, and the cuckoo came at sunrise with the merry leaf.

    "Court is a fine place," it said, when the cobbler told it he was going, "but I cannot come there; they would lay snares and catch me; so be careful of the leaves I have brought you, and give me a farewell slice of barley bread."

    Spare was sorry to part with the cuckoo, little as he had of its company, but he gave it a slice which would have broken Scrub's heart in former times, it was so thick and large. And having sewed up the leaves in the lining of his leather doublet, he set out with the messenger on his way to court.

    His coming caused great surprise there. Everybody wondered what the king could see in such a common-looking man; but scarcely had His Majesty conversed with him half an hour, when the princess and her seven islands were forgotten and orders given that a feast for all comers should be spread in the banquet hall.

    The princes of the blood, the great lords and ladies, the ministers of state, after that discoursed with Spare, and the more they talked the lighter grew their hearts, so that such changes had never been seen at court.

    The lords forgot their spites and the ladies their envies, the princes and ministers made friends among themselves, and the judges showed no favour.

    As for Spare, he had a chamber assigned him in the palace, and a seat at the king's table. One sent him rich robes, and another costly jewels; but in the midst of all his grandeur he still wore the leathern doublet, and continued to live at the king's court, happy and honored, and making all others merry and content.




    sXmas_santawarning_100-100You may not know that........

    • Did you ever wonder where X-Mas came from? X means Christ in Greek so to shorten the word Christmas we sometimes use X-Mas.
    • ALTHOUGH now mostly vegetarian, in Victorian times, mince pies were made with beef and spices.
    • THE tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.
    • JESUS was probably born in a cave and not a wooden stable, say Biblical scholars.
    • THE abbreviation Xmas isn't irreligious. The letter X is a Greek abbreviation for Christ.
    • THE world's tallest Xmas tree at 221ft high was erected in a Washington shopping mall in 1950.
    • BEFORE turkey, the traditional Christmas meal in England was a pig's head and mustard.
    • IN 1647, after the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell banned festivities. The law wasn't lifted until 1660.
    • THE Greeks celebrate Christmas on January 7, according to the old Julian calendar, while Xmas presents are opened on New Year's Day.
    • HANGING presents on trees may come from the Druids who believed the tree was the giver of all good things.
    • THE largest Christmas cracker - 45.72m long and 3.04m in diameter - was pulled in Australia in 1991.
    • THE long shopping spree before Christmas began in America when relatives of soldiers posted overseas in the Second World War were encouraged to mail gifts early.
    • ELECTRIC tree lights were invented by Edward Johnson in the US in 1882.
    • THEY may date back to pagan traditions, but the earliest known reference to a Christmas tree is in a German pamphlet from 1570.
    • RUDOLPH the red-nosed reindeer was invented for a US firm's Christmas promotion in 1938.
    • GOLD-wrapped chocolate coins commemorate St Nicholas who gave bags of gold coins to the poor.
    • THE first Christmas celebrated in Britain is thought to have been in York in 521AD.
    • IN Greece, Italy, Spain and Germany, workers get a Christmas bonus of one month's salary by law.
    • IN the Czech Republic they enjoy dinners of fish soup, eggs and carp. The number of people at the table must be even, or the one without a partner will die next year.
    • In Germany, Christmas Eve is said to be a magical time of the year when the pure in heart can hear animals talking.
    • Santa Claus is based on a real person, St. Nikolas of Myra, the world's most popular non-biblical saint.
    • The smallest Christmas card was made by scientists at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom in 2010. At only 200 x 290 micrometers in size, 8,276 of these cards would fit in one postage stamp.
    • The most expensively dressed Christmas tree was valued at $11,026,900 and was displayed by the Emirates Palace in the United Arab Emirates last year.
    • The largest artificial Christmas tree measures 170.6 feet and can be found in Brazil.
    • The largest Christmas star ornament measures 103 feet and eight inches tall and can be found in India.
    • The largest Christmas stocking measures about 168 feet in length and 70 feet in width, and can be found in Italy.
    • The most lights lit on simultaneously on a Christmas tree is 194,672 and was achieved by Kiwanis Malmedy and Haute Fagnes Belgium in Belgium last year.
    • THE first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned by civil servant Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843. Featuring a family drinking wine, one sold for #8,469 last year.
    • JINGLE Bells was the first song broadcast from space when Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang it on December 16, 1965.
    • MANY theologians estimate that Jesus wasn't born on December 25 but sometime in September between 6BC and 30AD.
    sXmas_santa_100-102 Something to laugh for Christmas 


    God's Not Deaf

    Two young boys were spending the night at their grandparents' house the week before Christmas. At bedtime, the two boys knelt beside their beds to say their prayers. The younger one began praying at the top of his lungs:

    "I PRAY FOR A NEW BICYCLE..."
    "I PRAY FOR A NEW NINTENDO..."

    His older brother leaned over, nudged him and said, "Why are you shouting? God isn't deaf." to which the little brother replied, "No, but Grandma is!"

    Viking Mary

    When my son was 8 years of age, He was in a Christmas Pageant at our church. His line started "And the Virgin Mary was with Child." He did his line correctly at every rehearsal. On the night the of the presentation everything was going wonderful. 

    All the children were relaxed and reciting their lines without flaw. It came time for my son to recite his line and this is exactly how it came out: "And the Viking Mary was with Child." It was quite a job for all the adults watching the presentation to restrain ourselves and not bellow out in laughter. ...Patty Louisiana

    The Three Gifts

    After the Christmas pageant, I asked my 6-year-old son if he remembered the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus. He thought for a minute then said "gold, frankincense, and humor". We could all use that!
    Going the wrong way in the "Advent Rush"

    While a man had gone out driving to do some Christmas shopping, his wife had been watching TV when she heard the announcer say, "be very careful and watch driving on I5 today, there is a motorist driving the wrong way"! His wife got hold of him on the cell phone to warn him, and his reply was: "You tell me, there are hundreds of them here".
     
    The Wrong Gift

    The parents began to assemble the special Christmas gift they had for their children.   They had ordered a kit for a tree house and received the plans for it.   However, the materials they received were for a sailboat.  They wrote the company to complain.  

    The company's reply:  "While we regret the inconvenience this mistake must have cause you, it is nothing compared to that of the man who is out on a lake somewhere trying to sail your tree house."  Bud Brooks, Stamping Ground, KY  


    17 December 2017

    posted 15 Dec 2017, 02:47 by C S Paul

    Christmas Special - III
    animated Christmas tree with lights

    17 December 2017

    Thoughts for Christmas
    • "Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal." -- Lenore Hershey 
    • "My first copies of Treasure Island and Huckleberry Finn still have some blue-spruce needles scattered in the pages. They smell of Christmas still." -- Charlton Heston 
    • "At Christmas, all roads lead home." -- Marjorie Holmes 
    • “Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ” -- Washington Irving
    • “Christmas it seems to me is a necessary festival; we require a season when we can regret all the flaws in our human relationships: it is the feast of failure, sad but consoling.” -- Graham Greene
    • “What kind of Christmas present would Jesus ask Santa for?” -- Salman Rushdie, Fury
    • “Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” -- Peg Bracken
    • “My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” -- Bob Hope
    • “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” -- Charles M. Schulz
    • “Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ” -- Norman Vincent Peale
    • “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ” -- Roy L. Smith
    • "It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one's fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit." -- Isabel Currier 
    • "Something about an old-fashioned Christmas is hard to forget." -- Hugh Downs 
    • "They err who thinks Santa Claus comes down through the chimney; he really enters through the heart." -- Mrs. Paul M. Ell 
    • "Christmas, my child, is love in action." -- Dale Evans 


    sXmas_santahat_100-101  Why Be Afraid?
    By Helen Grace Lescheid

    My 87-year-old great-aunt, Anna, was a very practical woman more at home with serving up delicious meals than dreaming up stories. But one day, after a scrumptious meal, as we were sitting on a sofa together, she hesitantly began to tell me of an experience in her life, then stopped abruptly as though she were going to change the subject.

    "I've told very few people this," she said shyly. "They might not believe me." My curiosity piqued, I encouraged Aunt Anna to continue.

    We settled back into the sofa cushions and she began to tell me the following story.
    ~~~~~
    ....Three weeks before Christmas 1944--the memory is as vivid today as though it happened yesterday--I was a refugee from the Ukraine living in an old house high up in the Alps near Ratkersburg, Yugoslavia.

    World War II had unleashed its fury upon my village of Nieder-Chortitza, west of the Dnieper River in Ukraine. After many months of bombing and shelling, we had fled for our lives. In the dim interior of a freight car, we tried to calm our pounding hearts by singing hymns. Our train, crammed with refugees, had inched its way across the Ukrainian steppes and through Poland. Sometimes the Russian army opened fire on the train. Bombs exploded and rocked the cars. The staccato of machine guns drummed in our heads. We clung to each other.

    But we had made it safely to Yugoslavia, now occupied by the Germans. Since the Germans had brought us and treated us favourably, the Yugoslavs hated us. We feared *partisan activity against us. Wild stories circulated about how these men, dressed as firemen, had raped refugee women and plundered their homes at night. Some of our boys had been shot at by them. For that reason we kept our doors bolted shut. Women never travelled alone.

    Added to this peril, the fighting front was again too close for comfort. Many nights searchlights fanned the night skies, then explosions rocked the windows as the Russian bombers dropped their deadly cargo.

    Once more we feared for our lives and thought about evacuation.

    "Come to Germany," my sister Tina had written. "You'll be safer here."

    So, on this particular day, a friend and I took a train to Graz, Austria, to fill out application forms for a visa. The long, dangerous journey took all day. On the return trip to Ratkersburg, I noticed how quickly daylight was fading. Then sleet pelted the window.

    "A miserable night to be out walking," my friend muttered.

    I agreed.

    "I'm getting off at the next station to spend the night at my son's house," she said. "Anna, you're welcome to come too."

    I shook my head no. My friends at home would worry if I didn't arrive tonight, and I had no way of telling them about a change in plans.

    The train slowed and my friend got off. Watching her receding back as she hurried away, I felt desolate. Should I have gone with her? The train lurched and began to move again. At 8 p.m. it chugged into my station. As I descended, an icy wind tore at my threadbare coat and thin kerchief. The sleet stung my face. I hurried into the dimly lit station, sat down on a wooden bench, and deliberated what to do.

    To get back to my home up the mountain, I would have to walk ten kilometres, alone, in the pitch darkness. I had no flashlight, and I would have to find my way. Even worse, the narrow path ran past a cemetery, vineyards, and dense forest--the kinds of places partisans might be hiding in. Only a few houses lay scattered on the lonely terrain. Then, too, I would have to ford a rushing mountain stream.

    There's no way I can make that trip tonight, I thought.

    A middle-aged man busied himself behind the wicket. Timidly I approached him: "Sir, could I spend the night here, please?"

    "No, ma'am," he said emphatically.

    "I have far to walk..." I began.

    "Ma'am, I can't allow it," he said abruptly. He grabbed his coat and hat and fished for the keys in his pocket. Then he headed for the door. Panic kept me rooted to the floor. I can't go up that mountain alone.

    At the door the man turned and said impatiently, "C'mon. I'm locking this place up." He must have seen the panic in my eyes, for he said more kindly, "During an air raid, you'll be safer up the mountain anyway."

    As I listened to the receding crunch of his boots on gravel, the knot of fear in my stomach tightened. The only man who could have helped me vanished into the night.

    What was I to do? For a few moments, I stood under the eaves of the straw roof. Then I lifted my face to the sky and spoke to the only Person who could help me now. "Father," I whispered, "I'm so scared. Take away this terror. Walk with me."

    Suddenly a light fanned across the sky.

    Oh, no, the bombers! I thought. Knowing that train stations are targeted, I moved away from the building.

    The light moved with me, clearly shining on my path.

    I waited for the screeching of planes, then the explosion of bombs. Nothing. Instead, a deep quietness. An indescribable peace filled my heart, dispelling every trace of fear. The path lay bright at my feet.

    Hymns of praise welled up inside me: "Lass die Herzen immer froehlich und mit Dank erfuellet sein"; (May our hearts be ever joyful and filled with thankfulness.) "So nimm denn meine Haende und fuehre mich." (Take Thou my hand, O Father, and lead me on.) Song after joyous song filled me with praise. I fought a strong urge to sing out loud--after all, one had to be prudent--but I began to hum softly.

    Then I realized the wind had stopped--and the rain. In fact, it was as warm as a summer's night. I began to loosen my kerchief. How strange to be so warm in December, I thought.

    When I reached the swollen stream, the water glistened like a myriad of diamonds. Sure-footed, I stepped onto the flat rocks sticking out of the foaming water and forded it.

    The light guided and cheered me all the way up the mountain. As I neared the old house, I looked back over the treacherous mountain path I had taken. Like a ribbon of light it lay behind me.

    Excitedly, I knocked on the door. I wanted my friends to see this awesome sight.

    The door opened. A gust of wind grabbed it, almost tearing it off its hinges. "Anna, come in," my friend yelled, pulling me inside.

    My friends crowded around me. "Such a terrible storm. Weren't you afraid?" they asked.

    "No," I shook my head. "There was no storm."

    But I could say no more, for now I could hear it too: the howling wind, the sleet pelting the window panes, the moaning of the house.

    While one friend busied herself with my supper, another took my coat. "It's dry," she said. "Anna, your coat is dry."

    "I know," I said. I did my best to explain, but my friends looked at me strangely as though they were trying to make sense out of it all.

    Aunt Anna finished her story and searched my face. "You do believe this really happened to me, don't you?".

    "Yes, I believe you." I took her hand and squeezed it. "I guess what you're telling me is that we've got nothing to be afraid of--ever."

    "Yes, yes ," Aunt Anna smiled. "What is there to be afraid of?"

    sXmas_santahat_100-101 A Kidnapped Santa Claus
    by L. Frank Baum

    Santa Claus lives in the Laughing Valley, where stands the big, rambling castle in which his toys are manufactured. His workmen, selected from the ryls, knooks, pixies and fairies, live with him, and every one is as busy as can be from one year's end to another.

    It is called the Laughing Valley because everything there is happy and gay. The brook chuckles to itself as it leaps rollicking between its green banks; the wind whistles merrily in the trees; the sunbeams dance lightly over the soft grass, and the violets and wild flowers look smilingly up from their green nests. To laugh one needs to be happy; to be happy one needs to be content. And throughout the Laughing Valley of Santa Claus contentment reigns supreme.

    On one side is the mighty Forest of Burzee. At the other side stands the huge mountain that contains the Caves of the Daemons. And between them the Valley lies smiling and peaceful.

    One would think that our good old Santa Claus, who devotes his days to making children happy, would have no enemies on all the earth; and, as a matter of fact, for a long period of time he encountered nothing but love wherever he might go.

    But the Daemons who live in the mountain caves grew to hate Santa Claus very much, and all for the simple reason that he made children happy.

    The Caves of the Daemons are five in number. A broad pathway leads up to the first cave, which is a finely arched cavern at the foot of the mountain, the entrance being beautifully carved and decorated. In it resides the Daemon of Selfishness. Back of this is another cavern inhabited by the Daemon of Envy. The cave of the Daemon of Hatred is next in order, and through this one passes to the home of the Daemon of Malice--situated in a dark and fearful cave in the very heart of the mountain. I do not know what lies beyond this. Some say there are terrible pitfalls leading to death and destruction, and this may very well be true. However, from each one of the four caves mentioned there is a small, narrow tunnel leading to the fifth cave--a cozy little room occupied by the Daemon of Repentance. And as the rocky floors of these passages are well worn by the track of passing feet, I judge that many wanderers in the Caves of the Daemons have escaped through the tunnels to the abode of the Daemon of Repentance, who is said to be a pleasant sort of fellow who gladly opens for one a little door admitting you into fresh air and sunshine again.

    Well, these Daemons of the Caves, thinking they had great cause to dislike old Santa Claus, held a meeting one day to discuss the matter.

    "I'm really getting lonesome," said the Daemon of Selfishness. "For Santa Claus distributes so many pretty Christmas gifts to all the children that they become happy and generous, through his example, and keep away from my cave."

    "I'm having the same trouble," rejoined the Daemon of Envy. "The little ones seem quite content with Santa Claus, and there are few, indeed, that I can coax to become envious."

    "And that makes it bad for me!" declared the Daemon of Hatred. "For if no children pass through the Caves of Selfishness and Envy, none can get to MY cavern."

    "Or to mine," added the Daemon of Malice.

    "For my part," said the Daemon of Repentance, "it is easily seen that if children do not visit your caves they have no need to visit mine; so that I am quite as neglected as you are."

    "And all because of this person they call Santa Claus!" exclaimed the Daemon of Envy. "He is simply ruining our business, and something must be done at once."

    To this they readily agreed; but what to do was another and more difficult matter to settle. They knew that Santa Claus worked all through the year at his castle in the Laughing Valley, preparing the gifts he was to distribute on Christmas Eve; and at first they resolved to try to tempt him into their caves, that they might lead him on to the terrible pitfalls that ended in destruction.

    So the very next day, while Santa Claus was busily at work, surrounded by his little band of assistants, the Daemon of Selfishness came to him and said:

    "These toys are wonderfully bright and pretty. Why do you not keep them for yourself? It's a pity to give them to those noisy boys and fretful girls, who break and destroy them so quickly."

    "Nonsense!" cried the old gray-beard, his bright eyes twinkling merrily as he turned toward the tempting Daemon. "The boys and girls are never so noisy and fretful after receiving my presents, and if I can make them happy for one day in the year I am quite content."

    So the Daemon went back to the others, who awaited him in their caves, and said:

    "I have failed, for Santa Claus is not at all selfish."

    The following day the Daemon of Envy visited Santa Claus. Said he: "The toy shops are full of playthings quite as pretty as those you are making. What a shame it is that they should interfere with your business! They make toys by machinery much quicker than you can make them by hand; and they sell them for money, while you get nothing at all for your work."

    But Santa Claus refused to be envious of the toy shops.

    "I can supply the little ones but once a year--on Christmas Eve," he answered; "for the children are many, and I am but one. And as my work is one of love and kindness I would be ashamed to receive money for my little gifts. But throughout all the year the children must be amused in some way, and so the toy shops are able to bring much happiness to my little friends. I like the toy shops, and am glad to see them prosper."

    In spite of the second rebuff, the Daemon of Hatred thought he would try to influence Santa Claus. So the next day he entered the busy workshop and said:

    "Good morning, Santa! I have bad news for you."

    "Then run away, like a good fellow," answered Santa Claus. "Bad news is something that should be kept secret and never told."

    "You cannot escape this, however," declared the Daemon; "for in the world are a good many who do not believe in Santa Claus, and these you are bound to hate bitterly, since they have so wronged you."

    "Stuff and rubbish!" cried Santa.

    "And there are others who resent your making children happy and who sneer at you and call you a foolish old rattle-pate! You are quite right to hate such base slanderers, and you ought to be revenged upon them for their evil words."

    "But I don't hate 'em!" exclaimed Santa Claus positively. "Such people do me no real harm, but merely render themselves and their children unhappy. Poor things! I'd much rather help them any day than injure them."

    Indeed, the Daemons could not tempt old Santa Claus in any way. On the contrary, he was shrewd enough to see that their object in visiting him was to make mischief and trouble, and his cheery laughter disconcerted the evil ones and showed to them the folly of such an undertaking. So they abandoned honeyed words and determined to use force.

    It was well known that no harm can come to Santa Claus while he is in the Laughing Valley, for the fairies, and ryls, and knooks all protect him. But on Christmas Eve he drives his reindeer out into the big world, carrying a sleigh-load of toys and pretty gifts to the children; and this was the time and the occasion when his enemies had the best chance to injure him. So the Daemons laid their plans and awaited the arrival of Christmas Eve.

    The moon shone big and white in the sky, and the snow lay crisp and sparkling on the ground as Santa Claus cracked his whip and sped away out of the Valley into the great world beyond. The roomy sleigh was packed full with huge sacks of toys, and as the reindeer dashed onward our jolly old Santa laughed and whistled and sang for very joy. For in all his merry life this was the one day in the year when he was happiest--the day he lovingly bestowed the treasures of his workshop upon the little children.

    It would be a busy night for him, he well knew. As he whistled and shouted and cracked his whip again, he reviewed in mind all the towns and cities and farmhouses where he was expected, and figured that he had just enough presents to go around and make every child happy. The reindeer knew exactly what was expected of them, and dashed along so swiftly that their feet scarcely seemed to touch the snow-covered ground.

    Suddenly a strange thing happened: a rope shot through the moonlight and a big noose that was in the end of it settled over the arms and body of Santa Claus and drew tight. Before he could resist or even cry out he was jerked from the seat of the sleigh and tumbled head foremost into a snow-bank, while the reindeer rushed onward with the load of toys and carried it quickly out of sight and sound.

    Such a surprising experience confused old Santa for a moment, and when he had collected his senses he found that the wicked Daemons had pulled him from the snowdrift and bound him tightly with many coils of the stout rope. And then they carried the kidnapped Santa Claus away to their mountain, where they thrust the prisoner into a secret cave and chained him to the rocky wall so that he could not escape.

    "Ha, ha!" laughed the Daemons, rubbing their hands together with cruel glee. "What will the children do now? How they will cry and scold and storm when they find there are no toys in their stockings and no gifts on their Christmas trees! And what a lot of punishment they will receive from their parents, and how they will flock to our Caves of Selfishness, and Envy, and Hatred, and Malice! We have done a mighty clever thing, we Daemons of the Caves!"

    Now it so chanced that on this Christmas Eve the good Santa Claus had taken with him in his sleigh Nuter the Ryl, Peter the Knook, Kilter the Pixie, and a small fairy named Wisk--his four favourite assistants. These little people he had often found very useful in helping him to distribute his gifts to the children, and when their master was so suddenly dragged from the sleigh they were all snugly tucked underneath the seat, where the sharp wind could not reach them.

    The tiny immortals knew nothing of the capture of Santa Claus until some time after he had disappeared. But finally they missed his cheery voice, and as their master always sang or whistled on his journeys, the silence warned them that something was wrong.

    Little Wisk stuck out his head from underneath the seat and found Santa Claus gone and no one to direct the flight of the reindeer.

    "Whoa!" he called out, and the deer obediently slackened speed and came to a halt.

    Peter and Nuter and Kilter all jumped upon the seat and looked back over the track made by the sleigh. But Santa Claus had been left miles and miles behind.

    "What shall we do?" asked Wisk anxiously, all the mirth and mischief banished from his wee face by this great calamity.

    "We must go back at once and find our master," said Nuter the Ryl, who thought and spoke with much deliberation.

    "No, no!" exclaimed Peter the Knook, who, cross and crabbed though he was, might always be depended upon in an emergency. "If we delay, or go back, there will not be time to get the toys to the children before morning; and that would grieve Santa Claus more than anything else."

    "It is certain that some wicked creatures have captured him," added Kilter thoughtfully, "and their object must be to make the children unhappy. So our first duty is to get the toys distributed as carefully as if Santa Claus were himself present. Afterwards we can search for our master and easily secure his freedom."

    This seemed such good and sensible advice that the others at once resolved to adopt it. So Peter the Knook called to the reindeer, and the faithful animals again sprang forward and dashed over hill and valley, through forest and plain, until they came to the houses wherein children lay sleeping and dreaming of the pretty gifts they would find on Christmas morning.

    The little immortals had set themselves a difficult task; for although they had assisted Santa Claus on many of his journeys, their master had always directed and guided them and told them exactly what he wished them to do. But now they had to distribute the toys according to their own judgement, and they did not understand children as well as did old Santa. So it is no wonder they made some laughable errors.

    Mamie Brown, who wanted a doll, got a drum instead; and a drum is of no use to a girl who loves dolls. And Charlie Smith, who delights to romp and play out of doors, and who wanted some new rubber boots to keep his feet dry, received a sewing box filled with coloured worsteds and threads and needles, which made him so provoked that he thoughtlessly called our dear Santa Claus a fraud.

    Had there been many such mistakes the Daemons would have accomplished their evil purpose and made the children unhappy. But the little friends of the absent Santa Claus laboured faithfully and intelligently to carry out their master's ideas, and they made fewer errors than might be expected under such unusual circumstances.

    And, although they worked as swiftly as possible, day had begun to break before the toys and other presents were all distributed; so for the first time in many years the reindeer trotted into the Laughing Valley, on their return, in broad daylight, with the brilliant sun peeping over the edge of the forest to prove they were far behind their accustomed hours.

    Having put the deer in the stable, the little folk began to wonder how they might rescue their master; and they realized they must discover, first of all, what had happened to him and where he was.

    So Wisk the Fairy transported himself to the bower of the Fairy Queen, which was located deep in the heart of the Forest of Burzee; and once there, it did not take him long to find out all about the naughty Daemons and how they had kidnapped the good Santa Claus to prevent his making children happy. The Fairy Queen also promised her assistance, and then, fortified by this powerful support, Wisk flew back to where Nuter and Peter and Kilter awaited him, and the four counselled together and laid plans to rescue their master from his enemies.

    It is possible that Santa Claus was not as merry as usual during the night that succeeded his capture. For although he had faith in the judgement of his little friends he could not avoid a certain amount of worry, and an anxious look would creep at times into his kind old eyes as he thought of the disappointment that might await his dear little children. And the Daemons, who guarded him by turns, one after another, did not neglect to taunt him with contemptuous words in his helpless condition.

    When Christmas Day dawned the Daemon of Malice was guarding the prisoner, and his tongue was sharper than that of any of the others.

    "The children are waking up, Santa!" he cried. "They are waking up to find their stockings empty! Ho, ho! How they will quarrel, and wail, and stamp their feet in anger! Our caves will be full today, old Santa! Our caves are sure to be full!"

    But to this, as to other like taunts, Santa Claus answered nothing. He was much grieved by his capture, it is true; but his courage did not forsake him. And, finding that the prisoner would not reply to his jeers, the Daemon of Malice presently went away, and sent the Daemon of Repentance to take his place.

    This last personage was not so disagreeable as the others. He had gentle and refined features, and his voice was soft and pleasant in tone.

    "My brother Daemons do not trust me over much," said he, as he entered the cavern; "but it is morning, now, and the mischief is done. You cannot visit the children again for another year."

    "That is true," answered Santa Claus, almost cheerfully; "Christmas Eve is past, and for the first time in centuries I have not visited my children."

    "The little ones will be greatly disappointed," murmured the Daemon of Repentance, almost regretfully; "but that cannot be helped now. Their grief is likely to make the children selfish and envious and hateful, and if they come to the Caves of the Daemons today I shall get a chance to lead some of them to my Cave of Repentance."

    "Do you never repent, yourself?" asked Santa Claus, curiously.

    "Oh, yes, indeed," answered the Daemon. "I am even now repenting that I assisted in your capture. Of course it is too late to remedy the evil that has been done; but repentance, you know, can come only after an evil thought or deed, for in the beginning there is nothing to repent of."

    "So I understand," said Santa Claus. "Those who avoid evil need never visit your cave."

    "As a rule, that is true," replied the Daemon; "yet you, who have done no evil, are about to visit my cave at once; for to prove that I sincerely regret my share in your capture I am going to permit you to escape."

    This speech greatly surprised the prisoner, until he reflected that it was just what might be expected of the Daemon of Repentance. The fellow at once busied himself untying the knots that bound Santa Claus and unlocking the chains that fastened him to the wall. Then he led the way through a long tunnel until they both emerged in the Cave of Repentance.

    "I hope you will forgive me," said the Daemon pleadingly. "I am not really a bad person, you know; and I believe I accomplish a great deal of good in the world."

    With this he opened a back door that let in a flood of sunshine, and Santa Claus sniffed the fresh air gratefully.

    "I bear no malice," said he to the Daemon, in a gentle voice; "and I am sure the world would be a dreary place without you. So, good morning, and a Merry Christmas to you!"

    With these words he stepped out to greet the bright morning, and a moment later he was trudging along, whistling softly to himself, on his way to his home in the Laughing Valley.

    Marching over the snow toward the mountain was a vast army, made up of the most curious creatures imaginable. There were numberless knooks from the forest, as rough and crooked in appearance as the gnarled branches of the trees they ministered to. And there were dainty ryls from the fields, each one bearing the emblem of the flower or plant it guarded. Behind these were many ranks of pixies, gnomes and nymphs, and in the rear a thousand beautiful fairies floated along in gorgeous array.

    This wonderful army was led by Wisk, Peter, Nuter, and Kilter, who had assembled it to rescue Santa Claus from captivity and to punish the Daemons who had dared to take him away from his beloved children.

    And, although they looked so bright and peaceful, the little immortals were armed with powers that would be very terrible to those who had incurred their anger. Woe to the Daemons of the Caves if this mighty army of vengeance ever met them!

    But lo! coming to meet his loyal friends appeared the imposing form of Santa Claus, his white beard floating in the breeze and his bright eyes sparkling with pleasure at this proof of the love and veneration he had inspired in the hearts of the most powerful creatures in existence.

    And while they clustered around him and danced with glee at his safe return, he gave them earnest thanks for their support. But Wisk, and Nuter, and Peter, and Kilter, he embraced affectionately.

    "It is useless to pursue the Daemons," said Santa Claus to the army. "They have their place in the world, and can never be destroyed. But that is a great pity, nevertheless," he continued musingly.

    So the fairies, and knooks, and pixies, and ryls all escorted the good man to his castle, and there left him to talk over the events of the night with his little assistants.

    Wisk had already rendered himself invisible and flown through the big world to see how the children were getting along on this bright Christmas morning; and by the time he returned, Peter had finished telling Santa Claus of how they had distributed the toys.

    "We really did very well," cried the fairy, in a pleased voice; "for I found little unhappiness among the children this morning. Still, you must not get captured again, my dear master; for we might not be so fortunate another time in carrying out your ideas."

    He then related the mistakes that had been made, and which he had not discovered until his tour of inspection. And Santa Claus at once sent him with rubber boots for Charlie Smith, and a doll for Mamie Brown; so that even those two disappointed ones became happy.

    As for the wicked Daemons of the Caves, they were filled with anger and chagrin when they found that their clever capture of Santa Claus had come to naught. Indeed, no one on that Christmas Day appeared to be at all selfish, or envious, or hateful. And, realizing that while the children's saint had so many powerful friends it was folly to oppose him, the Daemons never again attempted to interfere with his journeys on Christmas Eve.

    sXmas_santahat_100-101  Faith, Family and a Christmas Tree Stand
    by Don Krause with Jeff Dewsbury 

    Even though many members of my extended family (myself included) have never seen the little mechanical Christmas tree stand that now sits in my nephew Clarence Krause's home in Saskatchewan, we all hold a special place for it in our hearts.

    More than just a neat little trinket from a by-gone era, the little stand - manufactured in Germany in the early 20th century - symbolizes God's provision for us through the generations. That simple mechanical device, which plays Silent Night (one of the all-time great sacred carols) as it slowly turns the tree around, played a role in delivering our family from a tumultuous and violent period of history.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    From the Beginning

    The winter of 1911 was very bleak in the Ukraine, especially for Mennonites. My Christmas story ancestors, Jacob and Helena Krause and their family, lived in the settlement of Nieder Choritza. The Russian Revolution was in full swing and Mennonites all over the country were living under the threat of violence. Every day stories circulated around the small community. One told of thieves riding in the night, demanding food and taking the villager's horses. Another told of them burning barns. Apprehension permeated the entire area because people never knew when they would become the next target. In some of these attacks women and girls were raped, and men were kidnapped and never seen again.

    Still, amidst the dark rumours, there was some joy, some comfort, for my family still had their faith. They would celebrate the birth of Christ in freedom, not in fear. Jacob and Helena's oldest sons, Jacob and Peter, bought the musical Christmas tree stand as a present for their parents. On Christmas Eve, the family gathered around the tree to watch it spin in the glow of the candles it had been adorned with.

    Then the Door Burst Open....
    However, without warning, the calm was briefly shattered. As the stand clinked away Silent Night, the door burst open and a band of ruffians stormed in, all holding guns. Shock blitzed through the family, wondering what would happen next. They watched as the uninvited guests became totally still, then backed out of the house and closed the door, leaving the room as peaceful as it was before their intrusion.

    That year the family celebrated not only Christmas but Thanksgiving too, for their God had preserved them. God had used that small, seemingly insignificant device, to signify his lordship over our family. His message - whether conveyed through the 'miraculously' rotating tree, or the sanctity of the family quietly celebrating the birth of His Son - registered loud and clear to the would-be bandits: 'Hands off!'

    When it came time for the family to flee the Ukraine in 1923, they were told to Christmas in the Ukraine leave everything behind. All personal belongings would be confiscated on the train. But the tree stand held such precious memories that the Krause boys couldn't leave it behind without a fight. Before leaving the country, they stealthily tied the contraption to the bottom of their train car. When the train chugged its way to Latvia, the boys got out at a stop there and retrieved the heirloom. They wanted to transport the evidence of that first remarkable Christmas Eve, so that all of us future generations could be blessed by the story of God's faithfulness.

    Would you like to know the God who protects? You can ask Him into your life to be your Savior like the Krause family members did so many years ago. Although much has changed with the family, God never changes. He would love to have you be part of His family. Why not sincerely say the following prayer and He will come into your life as He promised:

    sXmas_santahat_100-101  The Landlady's Christmas Gift
    by Helen Grace Lescheid 

    A Christmas Story 

    Forging ahead through driving November rains, I hurried to my home in Vancouver, British Columbia. Home was a basement suite I rented in a large old house. When I flicked on the lights, I noticed something peculiar on my small kitchen table. A cooking pot had been turned upside down, revealing a blistered bottom with a note attached . "Will you be more careful?" said the note. "Turn down the gas when food begins to boil." It was signed by Lily, the landlady.

    Tears sprang to my eyes. All afternoon, I'd jostled crowds in noisy shopping malls, seeking a perfect Christmas gift for my mother, but every time I'd come upon something I knew she'd like, it was too expensive for me. Saving money for nursing school and living expenses didn't leave me much for Christmas gifts. Totally discouraged, I'd taken the bus home. It seemed unfriendly to me to sit shoulder to shoulder with people without saying a word, so I'd started a conversation with the woman beside me. She'd answered me curtly, then stared out the window as though wanting to be left alone. Then I came home to find this rebuke from my landlady.

    A country girl living on her own in the big city of Vancouver--the idea seemed so glamorous a few months ago. Now, crushing loneliness overwhelmed me. I threw myself across my bed behind a curtain and sobbed out my heart.

    Eventually, I lay there thinking and praying about a suitable gift for my mother. Suddenly I remembered a conversation I'd overheard at work. Some women had discussed a home party they'd attended. A saleswoman had come to demonstrate her wares and, because sales had reached a certain amount, the hostess received a lace tablecloth for her efforts. "There were only about ten people there," the woman had said, "but it's surprising how fast sales mount up when everybody buys a little."

    A lace tablecloth! What could be more perfect for my mother for Christmas? I could just see her worn hands smooth it across the table in our old farmhouse kitchen. On Christmas day, as on other special occasions, she'd place roast chicken, still hot in its juices, on that small table, (we couldn't afford turkey), mashed potatoes whipped with an egg until they glistened, spicy crab apples, feather-light buns, German Pfeffernuesse and Lebkuchen . . .

    The more I thought about that lace tablecloth, the more I wanted it. But a home party? Could I really carry that off? I'd never done anything like that before. Besides, who would come to it?

    Well, there were people at church. I didn't know anybody there really well, but they might come. And then there were the women I'd had lunch with at work. I counted them up: yes, there were at least ten.

    Still full of self-doubt, I booked a party. Encouraged by the saleswoman's enthusiastic response, I distributed my carefully written invitations at church and at work.

    The day of the party in early December dawned heavy and gray. I decorated my scrubbed basement suite with cedar boughs and placed a red candle and Christmas napkins beside the dishes I'd borrowed from the landlady. By evening, my place smelled of cedar, chocolate brownies, and coffee.

    Half an hour before the party was to start, the saleswoman arrived with a load of boxes. I helped her carry them inside, and soon a lovely display of colourful kitchenware and toys decorated my bed, the only flat area big enough.

    I offered the woman a cup of coffee. Cradling my own mug in clammy hands, I glanced at the clock again with one ear cocked to outside noises. Where were my guests? Only five minutes to go and nobody had come yet.

    Promptly at 7:30 the door burst open; it was Lily, my landlady. Her eyes swept the empty room, and she blurted out, "Where is everybody?"

    "I don't know, Lily," I stammered. "Nobody has come yet."

    "Well, we can't wait much longer," she said and stomped out of the room.

    I groaned inwardly, thinking that I should have known better than to book a party.

    "I suppose we'll call it off," the saleswoman said, as she rose and began to gather up her wares.

    Apologizing for the inconvenience I'd caused her, I helped her pack. Toys swam before my eyes. Embarrassment burned my cheeks.

    Suddenly, I heard a noise outside and the door opened, framing two women I'd never seen before. "Hi! We live down the street. Lily tells us there's a party here."

    Bewildered, I asked them to take a seat.

    During the next ten minutes, this scenario repeated itself several times. The room filled with people. I stared incredulously at each unfamiliar, yet friendly face. Finally Lily herself returned, wearing a grin, and winked at me.

    Over coffee, the buzzing of animated voices reminded me of other gatherings of friendly people at home in the country.

    Soon I had invitations for coffee and Christmas baking. Lily invited me to attend a Christmas contata at her church with her. I could hardly grasp the good will of these people who an hour ago had been total strangers to me. Perhaps people seem unfriendly because they've lacked opportunity to prove otherwise, I mused.

    Oh, you're wondering about the lace tablecloth? When the sales were totalled, I had enough for the coveted hostess gift. For many years, my mother decked her old table with it, and her face revealed the pride and gratitude she felt.

    But Lily herself gave the greatest gift that Christmas: underneath her brusque manner lay a warm, caring heart that reached out to ease my loneliness. Lily gave me a gift for my mother and a home in her heart for Christmas.

    sXmas_santahat_100-101 Celebrate the Light
    by Helen Grace Lescheid

    The second World War raged in Europe during Christmas Eve in 1944.

    Mother, with four small children, had fled our native Ukraine with the retreating German army. Father had been reported missing in action.

    Now we were refugees living in a two-room shack in Dieterwald, Poland. But again the fighting front was only about fifty kilometres away. Frequent air raids sent us scurrying for cover. Explosions rattled the windows. Army trucks brought in the wounded and the dead. Hay wagons filled with refugees rumbled west; bombers droned overhead and army tanks rolled east. Partisans (underground resistance) attacked innocent women and children at night.

    Nobody in his right mind went out into the dark winter night.

    And yet, it was Christmas Eve. Two women had prepared a Christmas party in a neighbouring village and invited us. Mother, wanting to give us children joy, accepted.

    She instructed my sister and me to dress warmly against the winter's cold. "Tonight we're going to a party," she said. Being only eight-years old, I sensed no danger--only wondrous excitement.

    Hurriedly my sister, two years younger, and I dressed. If only Mother would hurry! A simple wick flickered in a saucer of oil--our only light. We could barely see her shadowy form as she bustled about getting my four-year-old brother, Fred, and almost two-year-old sister, Katie, ready. Finally Mother was putting on her heavy winter coat, kerchief, and warm felt boots.

    With one small breath, she blew out the oil lamp. It was pitch dark now.

    "Open the door, Lena," she called to me.

    We stepped onto the crisp snow covering the farmyard. A moon crescent hung above a large house across the yard where the estate owners lived--kind people who treated us refugees well. It, too, was shrouded in darkness.

    Mother lifted Katie and shuffled her to her back: she'd carry her piggyback for the five kilometres.

    "Hang tight onto my coat collar," she coaxed. Then, turning towards us girls, she said, "You take Fred's hands." My younger sister and I complied. We had often taken care of our little brother while mother had culled potatoes in the big barns or had done other chores for the landowners.

    At the road, we stopped. Although I knew it well from my treks to school, I could barely make out the houses on either side of the street. No street lights were allowed now. Windows heavily draped permitted no light to seep out of the houses.

    My mother hesitated for a brief moment. Then she said, "Come, we'll take the shortcut across the fields."

    The snow crunched as four pairs of feet punched holes in the white expanse of open fields. Stars spangled the vault of sky above us. A blood-red glow smeared the eastern sky. At times an explosion sent flames shooting into the sky.

    "Girls, recite your poems to me." Mother's voice sounded a bit shaky. Her arms aching, she put Katie down on the snowy ground. Our recitations of Christmas poems made white puffs in the cold night air.

    When we finished, Mother said, "Speak up loud and clear when your turn comes. No mumbling."

    She lifted Katie once more onto her back, and we began to walk again. On and on we walked. But we were far too excited to be tired.

    Finally we arrived at our friends' house. The door opened and we stepped inside. I felt I had stepped into heaven itself. Lights! A whole room-full of lights.

    Candlelight flickered from a small Christmas tree and bounced out of happy children's eyes. Heavily draped windows kept the light inside--for us to revel in. Red paper chains decked the tree; delicate paper cherubs smiled down upon us.

    We squeezed in amongst women and children sitting on the floor. Soon the room filled with singing: "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht."(Silent Night, Holy Night) Some mothers sang alto, the rest of us, soprano. We sang with gusto and from memory, songs that lifted our hearts above the terrors of war and inspired new hope for the days ahead.

    I can't remember our long trek home that night, but I do remember the wonderful gifts I received; my right pocket bulged with the most beautiful ball I'd ever seen. A very colourful ball it was. Much later, I learned it had been made out of scrunched up rags wrapped in rainbow coloured yarn probably gleaned from unravelling old sweaters. The other pocket held three cookies!

    Soon after that wonderful Christmas party, we were evacuated. Icy winds blew snow into our faces as we cowered on an uncovered hay wagon pulled by two scrawny horses. With the front so close behind, we traveled day and night. Once it was safe to stop, we slept in drafty barns. We ate hunks of frozen bread and drank the occasional cup of milk supplied by a Red Cross jeep.

    But the warm memory of that Christmas celebration shone like a small candle in the darkness.

    Even years later, when my own life's circumstances seemed too bleak to celebrate Christmas, I remembered the truth of Christmas born in my heart that night: Jesus, the light of the world came to us at Christmas time and no amount of darkness can put out that light. (John 1: 4,5)

    sXmas_santahat_100-101 The Doll and the Rose
    author unknown 

    A story of love that will touch your heart and bring a tear to your eye.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I was walking around in a store. I saw a cashier hand this little boy his money back saying

    "I'm sorry, but you don't have enough money to buy this doll."

    Then the little boy turned to the old woman next to him:

    ''Granny, are you sure I don't have enough money?''

    The old lady replied:

    ''You know that you don't have enough money to buy this doll, my dear.''

    Then she asked him to stay there for 5 minutes while she went to look around. She left quickly.

    The little boy was still holding the doll in his hand.

    Finally, I walked toward him and I asked him who he wished to give this doll to.

    "It's the doll that my sister loved most and wanted so much for this Christmas. She was so sure that Santa Claus would bring it to her."

    I replied to him that may be Santa Claus will bring it to her after all, and not to worry.

    But he replied to me sadly.

    "No, Santa Claus can't bring it to her where she is now. I have to give the doll to my mommy so that she can give it to my sister when she goes there."

    His eyes were so sad while saying this.

    "My sister has gone to be with God. Daddy says that Mommy is going to see God very soon too, so I thought that she could take the doll with her to give it to my sister.''

    My heart nearly stopped.

    The little boy looked up at me and said:

    "I told daddy to tell mommy not to go yet. I need her to wait until I come back from the mall."

    Then he showed me a very nice photo of him where he was laughing. He then told me

    "I want mommy to take my picture with her so she won't forget me."

    "I love my mommy and I wish she doesn't have to leave me, but daddy says that she has to go to be with my little sister. "

    Then he looked again at the doll with sad eyes, very quietly.

    I quickly reached for my wallet and said to the boy.

    "What if we checked again, just in case you do have enough money?''

    "OK" he said "I hope that I have enough."

    I added some of my money to his without him seeing and we started to count it. There was enough for the doll and even some spare money.

    The little boy said:

    "Thank you God for giving me enough money!"

    Then he looked at me and added

    "I asked yesterday before I slept for God to make sure I have enough money to buy this doll so that mommy can give it to my sister. He heard me!''

    "I also wanted to have enough money to buy a white rose for my mommy, but I didn't dare to ask God for too much. But He gave me enough to buy the doll and a white rose.''

    "My mommy loves white roses."

    A few minutes later, the old lady came again and I left with my basket.

    I finished my shopping in a totally different state from when I started. I couldn't get the little boy out of my mind.

    Then I remembered a local newspaper article 2 days ago, which mentioned of a drunk man in a truck, who hit a car, where there was one young lady and a little girl.

    The little girl died right away, and the mother was left in a critical state. The family had to decide whether to pull the plug on the life-assisting machine, because the young lady would not be able to recover from the coma.

    Was this the family of the little boy?

    Two days after this encounter with the little boy, I read in the newspaper that the young lady had passed away.

    I couldn't stop myself as I bought a bunch of white roses and I went to the funeral home where the body of the young woman was exposed for people to see and make last wishes before burial.

    She was there, in her coffin, holding a beautiful white rose in her hand with the photo of the little boy and the doll placed over her chest.

    I left the place, teary-eyed, feeling that my life had been changed forever. The love that this little boy had for his mother and his sister is still, to this day, hard to imagine. And in a fraction of a second, a drunk driver had taken all this away from him.



    sXmas_santawarning_100-100You may not know that........
    • Christmas wasn’t declared an official holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.c
    • Oklahoma was the last U.S. state to declare Christmas a legal holiday, in 1907.f
    • Mistletoe (Viscum album) is from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means “little dung twig” because the plant spreads though bird droppings.a
    • Christmas trees are also known as the Yule-tree.
    • Christmas trees are evergreen trees, usually either a fir tree, pine tree or spruce tree.
    • It is believed that decorating Christmas trees originated in 16th century Germany when Christians would bring decorated trees into their homes.
    • The song Jingle Bells was written by James Pierpont in 1857.  It was originally called “One Horse Open Sleigh” and was made for Thanksgiving.
    • Many years ago in England a traditional Christmas dinner included a pig head served with mustard.
    • Bolivians celebrate Misa del Gallo or “Mass of the Rooster” on Christmas Eve. Some people bring roosters to the midnight mass, a gesture that symbolizes the belief that a rooster was the first animal to announce the birth of Jesus.f
    • The British wear paper crowns while they eat Christmas dinner. The crowns are stored in a tube called a “Christmas cracker.”f
    • In Poland, spiders or spider webs are common Christmas trees decorations because according to legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus. In fact, Polish people consider spiders to be symbols of goodness and prosperity at Christmas.
    • Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836.f
    • christmas Oklahoma was the last state the declare Christmas a holiday
    • SANTA has different names around the world - Kriss Kringle in Germany, Le Befana in Italy, Pere Noel in France and Deushka Moroz (Grandfather Frost) in Russia.
    • THE word Christmas comes from the Old English "Cristes maesse" meaning "Christ's Mass".
    • The tradition of naughty children getting a lump of coal in their stocking comes from Italy.
    • THERE is no reference to angels singing anywhere in the Bible.
    • NEARLY 60 million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe.
    • ASTRONOMERS believe the Star Of Bethlehem, which guided the wisemen to Jesus, may have been a comet or the planet Uranus.
    sXmas_santa_100-102 Something to laugh for Christmas 

    Who is the Real Virgin?

    A ten-year-old, under the tutelage of her grandmother, was becoming quite knowledgeable about the Bible.  Then one day she floored her grandmother by asking, "Which virgin was the mother of Jesus?  The virgin Mary or the King James Virgin?"

    Pontius Who?

    At Sunday school, the younger children were drawing pictures illustrating Biblical stories. The teacher walked by and noticed one little boy was drawing an airplane! "Oh, what Bible story are you drawing?" she asked.  "This is the Flight into Egypt," the little boy answered.  "See, here is Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. And this," he said, pointing to the front of the plane, "is Pontius. He's the Pilot.

    Save God the trouble

    There was a young boy who was saying a prayer out loud one night and his brother was listening to him.  This boy asked God for a fresh milkshake in the morning.  His brother said: "just shake a cow and milk it. It will save God the trouble."

    A little help from Joseph

    One day during our children's sermon, I was telling the kids about how the angel came to Mary to tell her about how she would help bring Jesus into the world.  One little girl seemed puzzled about this whole scene.  Then another child asked what I thought the first thing Mary would have asked for after the angel left her.  Instantly this little girl chimed in with "I'll bet she asked for a little help from Joseph!"


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