Battle of the Labyrinth – Go Percy, GO!

December 14th, 2007

Battle of the LabyrinthJust read that the newest installment in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series comes out on May 6, 2008. My son and I are huge fans of Rick Riordan and the Percy series. We also read that a graphic novel is in the works for the first Percy book. Very cool. Bring on the cyclops, centaurs, and satyrs. We can’t wait until May!

“Christmas Bells” a poem by Longfellow

December 14th, 2007

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was filled with sorrow at the tragic death of his wife in a fire in 1861. TheLongfellow Civil War broke out that same year, and it seemed this was an additional punishment. Two years later, Longfellow was again saddened to hear the his own son had been seriously wounded as a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac.

Sitting down to his desk, one Christmas Day, he heard the church bells ringing, and ringing. It was in this setting he wrote:

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Our country isn’t in the midst of the Civil War. We are in the midst of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many of us feel like Longfellow did so many years ago. Our hearts ache for the state of our world, our country, and our economy.

Even though our world and lives are chaotic, I find comfort in Longfellow’s words. Wherever you are in your life right now, you are special. As a person very near to me once said: “Things always turn out right.” Merry Christmas.

Jesus’ Christmas List

December 3rd, 2007

I was looking for an image today, and found this on Teapot Tantrums site . Things like being unable to say Merry Christmas or no Salvation Army bells or “Family Trees” have been bothering me. After reading this creative “letter from Jesus”, it sort of brings the spirit of giving back into perspective. Enjoy!

Dear child,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking my name out of the season. Maybe you’ve forgotten that I wasn’t actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate my birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered any time.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don’t care what you call theJesus Children day. If you want to celebrate my birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Now, having said that, let me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting my birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all my followers did that, there wouldn’t be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a “holiday tree” instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can and may remember me any time you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish. I actually spoke of that one in a teaching explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks was. If you have forgotten it, look up John 15: 1-8.

If you want to give me a present in remembrance of my birth, here is my wish list. Choose something from it.

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way my birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know. They tell me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don’t have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don’t you write and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up… it will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of my birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that’s hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don’t know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile. It could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local hotline. They talk with people like that every day.

7. Instead of nitpicking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a “merry Christmas” that doesn’t keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn’t make so much money on that day, they’d close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes my love and good news to those who have never heard my name. You may already know someone like that.

9. Here’s a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no “Christmas” tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Marines, the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in me. They will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret that you wouldn’t do in my presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don’t forget; I am God and can take care of myself. Just love me and do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work. Time is short. I’ll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love. And remember,

I love you,
Jesus

In all fairness, a reply from Target

December 1st, 2007

I have gotten several e-mails regarding Target contributing back to their local communities. Although I am still “peeved” that Salvation Army can no longer post in front of their stores, my eyes were opened to what they do for the community. Target, I stand corrected. Here is the letter I received today in response to my e-mail (I voiced my frustration regarding the lack of Salvation Army presence).

RE: Sad that you banned Salvation Army
Date: December 1, 2007 2:41:20 PM CST

Subject: Salvation Army

Dear Target guest,

Although we don’t allow bell ringers or the placement of kettles outside of our stores, our support of The Salvation Army continues. Target works with the Salvation Army throughout the year, helping communities we serve in time of disaster such as the California wildfires. For more information, please visit www.target.com/salvationarmy.

Because of guest demand, we’re again offering an exclusive “Salvation Army Angel Ornament” online and in stores; all profits from the sale of this ornament go to The Salvation Army. New this year, we’ve created an exclusive Salvation Army Christmas CD: $2 from every purchase will benefit The Salvation Army. Target has also provided a direct donation to the Salvation Army of $1,000,000 dollars.

Target supports the work of many faith-based organizations, including The Salvation Army, by providing grants for non-religious purposes. Here are some grant examples Target provided to local Salvation Army offices in 2007:

– The Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Club, ‘Target Read’ –Richmond, Virginia
– The Salvation Army, Brevard County Domestic Violence Program — Cocoa, Florida
– The Salvation Army, Kids2Kamp (K2k) Program — Fayetteville, North Carolina
– Salvation Army, a California Corporation, Read to Me –Torrance California
– The Salvation Army, School of Performing Arts — Garland, Texas

In addition, our partnership with The Salvation Army is further extended year-round through our mutual work on disaster relief initiatives. In 2007 we donated funds to The Salvation Army during the 35W Bridge collapse in Minneapolis; helped flood victims in Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Minnesota; tornado victims in Americus, Georgia and Greensburg, Kansas; and wildfire victims in California.

If you’d like to donate to The Salvation Army personally, just call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

Thanks for taking the time to share your questions, thoughts and comments.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices

guest.relations@target.com

Good-Bye Bell Ringers-Hello “Family Trees”

December 1st, 2007

Christmas is my favorite holiday – hands down. Not just because I am a christian and cherish thisBah Humbug Target! special time of year because of my beliefs. I also find it a favorite because people find themselves being kinder to their fellow men & women. People open doors, smile, and are generally nicer at this time of year.

Strangers showed us kindness this week. Our family is experiencing the holidays without a job. Although my husband is looking hard, he hasn’t found anything yet. Our plight had been heard from another homeschooling family. They in turn told others. We got a call earlier this week (from a local church) that our family had been nominated to receive a Christmas dinner. That someone else thought we were in need and could use the food. Although this touched my heart more than I can say, we asked only for prayer and that the food that was meant for us, goes to another family. As we have worked at our local food bank and seen real need, we felt that we weren’t there “quite yet”.

How beautiful a gesture that was. To think of others that are having a rough time and help them out. THAT is what people should be about. Helping, giving, and sharing. However, not everyone feels this way.

One of the things that our family looks forward to each Christmas is hearing the familiar bell ringing of a Salvation Army volunteer. These people stand out in the cold and wind with this bright red kettle and ring to their hearts content. They wish everyone Merry Christmas and don’t harass you if you can’t spare change. However, if you feel called to, they thank you for your kindness. Just hearing that bell ring makes us realize that the “season of giving” is here. Can you spare some change for those that don’t have as much as you do? For those that need a hot meal, warm jacket, or a soft blanket?

Apparently, not every business or customer feels the same as our family. Target, for example, has banned Salvation Army from their stores. Their reason is that they don’t allow solicitation. I guess Target has confused kindness and generosity with panhandling? Maybe they are afraid that spare change should go to their merchandise, and not to the needy? Shame on you, Target. I know it won’t hurt you at all, but this family won’t be shopping at your store ever again.

We also found that our local mall won’t allow the bell ringing any longer. They will let the Salvation Army volunteer stand at the mall entrance with his shiny kettle. However, there is NO RINGING ALLOWED. Why you wonder? Someone complained to the mall that it made them uncomfortable. The mall said that the ringing had to stop or they would ban the buckets. How policially correct is that?

Salvation Army started ringing bells in 1891 . Money collected through the red kettles are used to help the needy, the sick, the aged and other less fortunate individuals, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Has our growing national fear to “not offend – no matter the cost” made this 100+ yr. old tradition objectionable?

Family TreesIf we get on the subject of “not offending – no matter the cost”, let’s look at the recent situation with Lowe’s. An ad went out stating that you could buy “Family Trees”. The term appeared in the company’s 2007 holiday catalog. Haven’t they always been called Christmas Trees? Is the word “Christ”mas politically incorrect now? Lowe’s says that they didn’t catch the wording error until after it went to print. I’m sorry. I used to work in an R.O.P. print shop, and my husband worked for 2 print shops when he graduated. We both know that MANY EYES check type and ads before they go to print. That is for even the smallest jobs. Typesetters, pressmen, binders, cutters, the BOSS…they ALL check the ad and wording. Lowe’s saying: “Ooops! How did that get in there?”, just doesn’t cut it. They were pushing the “let’s not offend” envelope. Looks like Lowe’s was trying to go the Target way. What a shame that your public found offense in THAT, huh? Maybe if you hid it in the back of your weekly circular, it might pass. Give it a try next year. It just might squeak through the “wacky, christian radar”. Umm, I don’t think so.

It seems that our nation is becoming obsessive about offending. We teach our children about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Vesak, Ramadan, etc. However, we are absolutely NOT ALLOWED to talk about Christmas or Easter? If we are going to be a country that loves and cares for one another, shouldn’t we respect ALL ASPECTS of our backgrounds, faiths, and cultures?

I find that I have become so sad with the state of things when it comes to being “politically correct”. We condemn one religion, and educate about others. Shouldn’t it be about honoring, and caring for each other? No matter if we are jewish, muslim, sikh, hindu, shinto, buddhist, baha ‘i, lutheran, and many more. Our religion and practices may be different, but we all believe that life is special and needs to be honored. That there is something greater than ourselves. It really boils down to recognizing that we are all different, but all the same.

I say: let the bells ring, the Christmas trees be decorated, the menorrahs be lit, let the oil lamps shine, the prayer flags wave, the feast of thankfulness be abundant, and the prayers be many. It isn’t about who is right and who is wrong. It is about realizing that we are all special and unique. Stop being offended and start giving goodwill to all.

See Target’s response regarding Salvation Army here: http://slimyfish.net/?p=105