When I say …”I am a Christian”

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When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting, “I’m saved”
I’m whispering, “I get lost!”
“That is why I chose this way”

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I don’t speak of this with pride
I’m confessing that I stumble,
and need someone to be my guide

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not trying to be strong,
I’m professing that I’m weak,
and pray for strength to carry on

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not bragging of success,
I’m admitting that I’ve failed,
and cannot ever pay the debt

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect,
my flaws are way too visible
but God believes I’m worth it

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartaches
which is why I seek His Name

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I only know I’m forgiven and loved!

God loves you. Talk to Him about it.

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A Godly Alphabet

GODLY_ALPHABET

Although things are not perfect
Because of trial or pain
Continue in thanksgiving
Do not begin to blame
Even when the times are hard
Fierce winds are bound to blow
God is forever able
Hold on to what you know
Imagine life without His love
Joy would cease to be
Keep thanking Him for all the things
Love imparts to thee
Move out of “Camp Complaining”
No weapon that is known
On earth can yield the power
Praise can do alone
Quit looking at the future
Redeem the time at hand
Start every day with worship
To “thank” is a command
Until we see Him coming
Victorious in the sky
We’ll run the race with gratitude
Xalting God most high
Yes, there’ll be good times and yes some will be bad, but
Zion waits in glory… where none are ever sad!

Have Peace When the Water is Disturbed

DIRT AT THE BOTTOM

One day, a teacher was walking from one town to another with a few of his students.

While they were traveling, they happened to pass by a lake. They stopped to rest there and the teacher asked one of his students to get him some water from the lake.

A student walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed some people were washing clothes in the water and, right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake.

As a result, the water became very muddy. The student thought, “How can I give this muddy water to my teacher to drink!”

So he came back and told his teacher and stated, ”The water in the lake is very muddy. I don’t think it is suitable to drink.”

After a while, the teacher again asked that same student to go back to the lake and get him some water.

The student obediently went back to the lake. This time he found that the mud had settled down and the water was clean so he collected some in a pot and brought it to his teacher.

The teacher looked at the water then looked up at his student and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be and the mud settled down on its own. It is also the same with your life’s journeys. When you find in your life an area or situation that it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time and it will settle down on its own.”

Moral of the story?

There are a few things that can be gleaned from this incident, but….

have you ever heard the term “When in doubt , don’t?” Sometimes we get to places that are already disturbed. It’s then we should not just leave it, but leave it alone. Many times we think we cannot use or be used in an area because things are disturbed or in chaos. It’s at that determination that if we will just be silent on matters and be observers only, we can find that things were not as bad as we first thought, and thereby using or being used to what’s there often in a better position of knowledge to add more to affecting a problem in a more positive way. The roads in life are paved with trials, and others also are traveling on that same path. Before we involve ourselves in other people’s business, we should first “let the dust settle” So many people, without thinking jump into places or situations hoping to bring about some resolve. But all we really needed to do was relax and give time for things to settle.

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Angels Among Us

angel in the park

Barefoot and dirty, the girl just sat and watched the people go by. She never tried to speak, she never said a word. Many people passed, but never did one person stop.

Just so happens the next day I decided to go back to the park, curious if the little girl would still be there.

Right in the very spot as she was yesterday she sat perched on high, with the saddest look in her eyes. Today I was to make my own move and walk over to the little girl. As we all know a park full of strange people is not a place for young children to play.

As I began walking towards her I could see the back of the little girl’s dress indicated a deformity. I figured that was the reason the people just passed by and made no effort to help. As I got closer, the little girl slightly lowered her eyes to avoid my intent stare. I could see the shape of her back more clearly. It was grotesquely shaped in a humped over form. I smiled to let her know it was ok, I was there to help, to talk, to pray with her.

I sat down beside her and opened with a simple hello. The little girl acted shocked and stammered a hi after a long stare into my eyes. I smiled and she shyly smiled back. We talked ’til darkness fell and the park was completely empty. Everyone was gone and we were alone. I asked the girl why she was so sad. The little girl looked at me and with a sad face said “Because I’m different.”

I immediately said “that you are!” and smiled. The little girl acted even sadder, she said, “I know.” “Little girl,” I said, “you remind me of an angel,” she stood to her feet, and said, “Really?”

Yes, ma’am, you’re like a little guardian angel sent to watch over all those people walking by.” She nodded her head yes and smiled, and with that she spread her wings and said with a twinkle in her eye, “I am.” I was speechless, sure I was seeing things. She said, “And since you thought of someone other than yourself, my job here is done.”

Immediately I stood to my feet and said, “Wait, so why did no one stop to help an angel?” She looked at me and smiled, “You’re the only one who could see me, and you believe it in your heart.” And She was gone. And with that my life was changed dramatically.

So, when you think you’re all you have, remember, there is an angel from God always watching over you. God loves you!

Moral of the Story?
A moral? Yes. But, also a job. Pass this to everyone that means anything at all to you…. Let them know you’re glad they care about you and moreover; that you care about them… When you send out love, it comes back to you.

Everyone of your friends is an angel and even a stranger could just be sent from God. Open your heart to God and be sensitive to His leading.

Heb 13:2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Mt 18:10Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

Ps 91:11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”

Life

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Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there, to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson, or to help you figure out who you are or who you want to become.

You never know who these people may be – a roommate, a neighbor, a professor, a friend, a lover, or even a complete stranger – but when you lock eyes with them, you know at that very moment they will affect your life in some profound way.

Sometimes things happen to you that may seem horrible, painful, and unfair at first, but in reflection you find that without overcoming those obstacles you would have never realized your potential, strength, willpower, or heart.

Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness, and sheer stupidity all occur and test the limits of your soul. Without these small tests, whatever they may be, life would be like a smoothly paved straight flat road to nowhere. It would be safe and comfortable, but dull and utterly pointless.

The people you meet who affect your life, and the success and downfalls you experience. Even the bad experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are sometimes the most important ones.

If someone loves you, give love back to them in whatever way you can, not only because they love you, but because in a way, they are teaching you to love and how to open your heart and eyes to things.

If someone hurts you, betrays you, or breaks your heart, forgive them, for they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to whom you open your heart. Just because you were hurt, does not mean you cannot take chances. But next time take the chance a little wiser. Don’t deprive others of your love and trust. Be better, not bitter.

Make every day count. Appreciate every moment and take from those moments everything that you possibly can for you may never be able to experience it again. Tests don’t have twins. Talk to people that you have never talked to before, and listen to what they have to say. Remember, you could be carrying their miracle. A word spoken in due season can change a life.

Let yourself fall in love, break free, and set your sights on good and godly endeavors. Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in the God who created you, for if you don’t believe God, it will be hard for others in your walks to believe in anything bigger than themselves. Wisdom is knowing God exists, Knowledge is knowing you are not Him.

God gave you His life and the ability to share Him with others that they may live better lives also also. Be a godly example to others with your life and go out and live it with absolutely no regrets.

And if you love someone tell them, for you never know what tomorrow may have in store. Other people will make their own choices, and it may lead them in a direction you’re not going. Take advantage of the time you have with them and inspire them to make better choices.

Learn a lesson in life each day that you live; days are coming that will be dark- share the Light and lessons you’ve learned with those who will listen

Today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday.

Think About it? Was it worth it?

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It’s a Wonderful Life

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shared story…

It’s a Wonderful Life was based on a “Christmas Card” short story by Philip Van Doren Stern, which was originally sent out to around 200 of Stern’s friends and family in December of 1943.

The short story was called The Greatest Gift and was inspired by a dream Stern had one night in the 1930s. Stern, already an accomplished author at this point, albeit a historical author, then proceeded to write the 4,000 word short story about a man named George who was going to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge, but was stopped when someone happened by and struck up a conversation with him.

The mysterious person eventually learns that George wishes he’d never been born and grants George his wish. George soon discovers that no one he knows recognizes him and that many of the people he’d known were worse off in their lives because he had never existed. Most prominent among these was his little brother who had drowned because he had not been there to save him. George eventually gets the stranger to change everything back to the way it was and is now glad to be alive.

Stern initially sought to find a publisher for his short, 21 page story, but failed in this endeavor, so decided to make a “Christmas Card” style gift out of it and printed 200 copies which he sent out to friends and family in December of 1943. This ended up being a gift that gave back, as the work eventually found its way into the hands of producer David Hempstead who worked for RKO Pictures. RKO pictures then paid Stern $10,000 (around $124,000 today) for the motion picture rights to the story, just four months after Stern had sent it out. Various adaptations were then written before the screenplay version of the story was sold to Frank Capra’s production company in 1945, also for $10,000. Capra’s company subsequently adapted the story further and ultimately made it into It’s a Wonderful Life, which debuted in 1946.

Interestingly while the story was based on The Greatest Gift, the character of George Bailey was actually based partly on the founder of Bank of America, A.P. Giannini. Giannini was also the inspiration for a similar character in Capra’s American Madness. At the age of 14, Giannini left school and began working with his step father, Lorenzo Scatena, in the produce industry as a produce broker.

By the time he was 31, he was able to sell much of his interest in this company to his employees and had planned to retire. However, one year later, he was asked to join the Columbus Savings & Loan Society, which was a small bank in North Beach, California.

Once he joined up, he found that almost nobody at the Savings & Loan, nor other banks, were willing to give loans to anyone but the rich or those owning businesses. At first, Giannini attempted to convince the other directors at the Savings & Loan to start lending to working class citizens, to give them home and auto loans, among other things. He felt that working class citizens, though lacking in assets to guarantee the loan against, were generally honest and would pay back their loans when they could.

Further, by loaning them money, it would allow working class citizens to better themselves in ways they would not have been able to do without the money lent to them, such as being able to start a new business. He was never able to convince the other directors to begin lending to the working class. So he raised funds to start his own bank, the Bank of Italy, which later became the Bank of America.

He then made a practice of not offering loans based on how much money or equity a person had, but based primarily on how he judged their character. Within a year, Bank of Italy had over $700,000 in deposits from these working class individuals, which is somewhere around $15-$20 million today. By the middle of the 1920s, it had become the third largest bank in the United States.

Much like the fictitious George Bailey, Giannini kept little for himself through all this. Despite that fact that the bank he started was worth billions at the time of his death, Giannini’s entire estate was valued at only $500,000 when he died at the age of 79 in 1949. He avoided acquiring great wealth as he felt it would cause him to lose touch with the working class (NOT SO TODAY). For much of his career, he refused pay for his work and when the board attempted to give him $1.5 million as a bonus one year, he gave it all away to the University of California stating “Money itch is a bad thing. I never had that trouble.”

Bonus Facts:

When the motion picture rights of the story were first sold to RKO, Cary Grant had been slated to play the lead role of George. When Capra acquired the rights, Lionel Barrymore ended up being the one to convince Jimmy Stewart to take the part, even though he initially didn’t want it, as it was too soon after he had returned from WWII.

Jimmy Stewart rose to as high as a Two Star General in the U.S. military. In August of 1943, he found himself with the 703rd Bombardment Squadron, initially as a first officer, and shortly thereafter as a Captain. During combat operations over Germany, Stewart found himself promoted to the rank of Major. Stewart participated in several counted and uncounted missions (on his orders) into Nazi occupied Europe, flying his B-24 in the lead position of his group in order to inspire his troops. For his bravery during these missions, he twice received the Distinguished Flying Cross; three times received the Air Medal; and once received the Croix de Guerre from France.

This latter medal was an award given by France and Belgium to individuals allied with themselves who distinguished themselves with acts of heroism. By July of 1944, Stewart was promoted chief of staff of the 2nd Combat Bombardment wing of the Eighth Air Force.

Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to the rank of colonel, becoming one of only a handful of American soldiers to ever rise from private to colonel within a four year span. After the war, Stewart was an active part of the United States Air Force Reserve, serving as the Reserve commander of Dobbins Air

Reserve Base. On July 24, 1959, he attained the rank of brigadier general (one star general). He finally retired from the Air Force on May 31, 1968 after 27 years of service and was subsequently promoted to Major General (two star general).

In the scene in It’s a Wonderful Life where “Uncle Billy” is drunk and leaving the party at George’s house, the sound of him apparently running into some garbage cans and falling down is heard. In actuality, one of the crew members accidentally dropped some equipment after Uncle Billy walked out of the shot.

Rather than break character, the actor who played Uncle Billy, Thomas Mitchell, shouted “I’m all right, I’m all right!” and Jimmy Stewart also played along. The take was obviously the one that made it into the movie, despite the gaff. The stagehand that dropped the equipment was given a $10 bonus(LOL).

Donna Reed really did manage to hit the window in the first take of the scene where she makes a wish and throws a rock at the window. Originally, they had planned to have her throw it and then had a sharp shooter standing by to shoot the window at the appropriate moment, to make it appear the rock had broken it. This turned out not to be necessary as Reed had quite the throwing arm. Further, Donna Reed grew up on a farm and, on a bet from Lionel Barrymore (GRAND-UNCLE TO ACTRESS DREW BARRYMORE), demonstrated how to milk a cow on the set of It’s a Wonderful Life.

‘The Night Before Christmas’ Along With a Few Other Christmas Staple Origins

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Pictured: Clement Moore

(Shared Story)

On December 23, 1823, the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas, better known today as The Night Before Christmas was first published. The poem first appeared in the New York Sentinel with no author listed, having been delivered for publication by a friend of Clement Clarke Moore, who was a professor of Greek and Oriental literature and who is generally considered today to have been the author.

Before this poem was published, traditions surrounding St. Nicholas were numerous with no real set, near universally accepted idea of “Santa Claus” like we have today. Elements of the Santa tradition that ended up being popularized by this poem include: the names and number of Santa’s reindeer (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen, with the latter Donder and Blitzen meaning “Thunder” and “Lightning”); Santa’s means of transportation; that Santa Claus visited houses on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day; the overall appearance of Santa Clause; and that Santa brought toys to children.

One interesting thing to note, however, is that while the general appearance, in terms of the flowing beard, rosy cheeks, etc., of Santa Claus was popularized by this poem, the Santa we know today has had one very big change over Moore’s description- namely that Santa is now big. If you go back and read the actual poem, you’ll note that Moore described St. Nick, (who he never called Santa Clause) as “a little old driver,” with a “little round belly… chubby and plump.” He also described St. Nick riding a “miniature sleigh” with “eight tiny reindeer” that had little hooves. This, of course, explains how St. Nick was able to fit down a chimney without any magical means necessary- he was a tiny little elf (even today he is still known as the chief “head” elf).

In any event, although Moore is most likely the author of The Night Before Christmas, there is some very small debate as to whether it was, in fact, written by a relation of Moore’s (distant relation through his wife), Major Henry Livingston, Jr.

To begin with, Moore didn’t claim authorship of the poem until long after it was published, even going so far as to deny having penned it at times when others claimed it was so. It is thought he was initially hesitant to claim it primarily because he was a very well respected scholar and didn’t want to be associated with what is essentially a fantastical children’s poem. However, he was later convinced by his own children to include it in his 1844 anthology of his works and from then on reluctantly admitted he wrote it.

Given that he eventually claimed it and that it is known that the poem was delivered to the Sentinel by a friend of Moore’s (who incidentally is known to have believed Moore wrote it), most historians accept that Moore was the author.

However, Major Henry Livingston, Jr.’s children claimed otherwise. Twenty six years after the poem was first published, and twenty one years after Livingston’s death, his children learned that Moore was taking credit for the poem. They then claimed their father used to recite the poem to them every year starting a full fifteen years before it appeared in the Sentinel, with the first time he read it to them being around 1807. This story was also corroborated by a neighbor of the Livingstons.

So is there any truth to this?

It should be noted that that neighbor in question who affirmed the Livingston-kid’s story also eventually married Charles Livingston, one of the sons of Major Henry Livingston, and was married to him at the time they were making these claims. They also claimed to have once had a copy of the original manuscript, but that it was lost in a house fire. In the end, the only proof the family had was their own story. Given the evidence that Moore wrote it and that Livingston himself never claimed it, most scholars have not taken this claim seriously.

Bonus Facts:

In some modern versions of The Night Before Christmas, St. Nicholas is stated to have exclaimed “as he drove out of sight, ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.” However, in the original, he made the proclamation before setting off (“ere he drove out of sight”), not as he drove out of sight.

The guy who did the voice for Frosted Flakes’ Tony the Tiger, Thurl Ravenscroft, also sang, You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, though he originally went unintentionally uncredited in the film. Because of this, a common misconception rose up that it was Boris Karloff, the narrator of the movie, who did the singing for the song. None other than Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) himself tried to rectify the issue by writing letters to various journalists explaining the oversight and asking if they mention the movie and song, that they give Ravenscroft proper credit. He also called Ravenscroft and apologized for the mix up.

A Jewish man, Johnny Marks, wrote such Christmas-song staples as Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, A Holly Jolly Christmas, Run Rudolph Run; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (the song), and I Heard Bells on Christmas Day, among other popular Christmas tunes. He also wrote many of the songs in the CBS TV version of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, including: The Most Wonderful Day of the Year, Silver and Gold, We are Santa’s Elves, There’s Always Tomorrow, The Island of Misfit Toys, We’re a Couple of Misfits, and Jingle Jingle Jingle

Speaking of everyone’s favorite red-nosed reindeer, in the original version of the movie, once Rudolph and company leave the island of misfit toys, they never bother to go back and help the toys, despite the promise to do so. Due to the number of complaints about this after the movie’s release, a new scene was later added to the end with Rudolph leading Santa back to the island to collect the toys.

While Joy to the World is a common Christmas song today, it is actually about Jesus’ projected return, not his birth. It was based heavily on Psalm 98 in the Bible. The song was composed by Isaac Watts and is about Jesus’ triumphant return at the end of the current age. It was one of over 750 hymns composed by Isaac Watts, many of which are still popular today, such as This is the Day the Lord has Made.

In the song, Winter Wonderland: “In the meadow we can build a snowman, then pretend that he is Parson Brown,” Parson Brown is not the proper name of an individual, as many people think today, but rather a Parson with the last name Brown. A Parson was simply a protestant minister who traveled around various small towns and would perform wedding ceremonies for people who lacked a protestant minister. This changes the meaning of the next line a bit, as well, with many today thinking Parson Brown is playing husband when he’s in town: “He’ll say, ‘Are you married?’ We’ll say, ‘No man, but you can do the job while you’re in town.’” They were just promising to let the Parson marry them to someone, rather than playing at being married to him. The song was written by Dick Smith who was residing in a West Mountain Sanitarium, due to having contracted tuberculosis. This is yet another “Christmas” song that’s not technically about Christmas. In fact, nowhere in the lyrics is Christmas mentioned; the song it just about playing in deep snow.

Jingle Bells is another Christmas staple that isn’t about Christmas at all, just, essentially, fast cars and picking up women. No, really. Originally it was just as a general sleigh-song, which was a popular type of song at the time among teenagers. If you exam the full lyrics, it’s pretty obvious. For instance, “I thought I’d take a ride, And soon, Miss Fanny Bright, Was seated by my side…” and “Go it while you’re young, Take the girls tonight, And sing this sleighing song…”

Jingle Bells was originally called One Horse Open Sleigh and was written by James Pierpont sometime between 1853 and 1857. At the time, Pierpont was working as an organist and music director in Savannah, Georgia. Pierpont was hired on by his brother, John Pierpont Jr. who was the Reverend there, after James’ business in San Francisco burned down. It was here that he composed One Horse Open Sleigh, reportedly for a Thanksgiving program. He later publicly released the song through Ditson and Co. of Boston in 1857, but it wasn’t terribly popular. Pierpont tried again to release it in 1859 under the new title Jingle Bells, with it once again flopping. However, from there, it did slowly gain in popularity and became associated with Christmas, rather than just as a general sleigh-song. By 1890, three years before Pierpont’s death, the song had become a huge Christmas hit and from 1890 to 1954 it managed to maintain a spot on the top 25 most recorded songs in the world.

If you’re wondering, in the Jingle Bells song, the sleigh traveling “two forty as his speed,” means it was going about 22.5 miles per hour (a mile in two minutes and forty seconds.)

It’s a Wonderful Life was based on a “Christmas Card” short story by Philip Van Doren Stern, which was originally sent out to around 200 of Stern’s friends and family in December of 1943. The short story was called The Greatest Gift and was inspired by a dream Stern had one night in the 1930s.

MORE ON IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE LATER 😉

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