7 Toxic Reasons to Ditch Dryer Sheets

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We are exposed to a plethora of toxins every day, and while we can’t remove every toxin from our life, we can take measures to lessen our exposure as well as enhance our bodies ability to detoxify. In today’s blog post I’m going give you 7 toxic reasons to ditch dryer sheets.

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Why I Decided To Ditch Dryer Sheets

My mother has a form of dementia called Lewy Body Disease (LBD). It is neurological in nature, with no known cure. Most research suggests those who are inflicted with the disease live 8-12 years post-diagnosis. This is not a new disease, but a disease, not commonly diagnosed until post-mortem. Due to the worsening of her symptoms and test results that continued to come back “negative”, my mother had a frontal lobe biopsy, wherein, she was diagnosed with LBD.

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I have routinely challenged her neurologist for insight into the cause of the disease and have never been given much to hang my hat on, except for one thing. With certainty, he has repeatedly said, “the only thing we know for sure, is, environmental toxins contribute to dementia.” You mean like pesticides, herbicides, pollutants, chemicals, heavy metals and stuff like that? Yep.

That is all the motivation I need, to do my very best to lessen the toxic load not only for myself but for my husband and children as well. As a family, we made a commitment to remove toxins from our food, by going “organic“. It was the first step in our journey. We started with food and then I found the best in natural cleaning products and gave my make-up a make-over. Image

As I delved further into how toxins relate to dementia, I came across the book The Brain Wash. This remarkable book explores how exposure to toxins are being linked to not only neurological disease but how they impact our overall health and what we can do to reduce our exposure to every day toxins.

Enter the dryer sheet…

Unless you live in a nudist colony, wearing clothes and washing clothes is a part of every day life. Of course, some of us may hang our clothes to dry on a line, but I would guess, most of us choose the modern-day dryer. If this is true, one of the most toxic things we do, on a regular basis, is the use of fabric softener or dryer sheets (we’ll pick on laundry detergent another day). Those perfume-laden (even fragrance-free) sheets and liquid are full of toxic chemicals. Chemicals that infiltrate the clothes we wear, which in turn get on our skin and absorbed into our body. And according to my mother’s neurologist, and other experts in this arena, contribute to dysfunction and disease of the nervous system.

Headlines around the world are reporting two disturbing trends: the incidence of brain disease is growing at an alarming rate; and increasing levels of industrial chemicals are being found in human bodies.” The Brain Wash

So here’s the real deal…don’t pick up a box of dryer sheets or fabric softener and expect to see a list of ingredients like you would a box of cereal. That is because, there are no laws in place, which require the manufacturers of these products, to list all the chemicals used. Often times what you will see listed, is something along the lines of, “biodegradable cationic softeners”. These so-called softeners that make our clothes fluffy and static-free, are toxic chemicals which build up in our body and over time can wreak havoc on our nervous system. Image

According to the author of The Brain Wash, here are the seven most common chemicals found in dryer sheets and their effect on the central nervous system:

1. Alpha-Terpineol causes central nervous system disorders. Can also cause loss of muscular coordination, central nervous system depression, and headache.

2. Benzyl Alcohol causes central nervous system disorders, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, central nervous system depression, and, in severe cases, death.

3. Camphor on the US EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Central nervous system stimulant, causes dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles, and convulsions.

4. Chloroform on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Neurotoxic and carcinogenic.

5. Ethyl Acetate on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Narcotic. May cause headaches and narcosis (stupor).

6. Linalool causes central nervous system disorders. Narcotic. In studies of animals, it caused ataxic gait (loss of muscular coordination), reduced spontaneous motor activity, and depression.

7. Pentane causes headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. Repeated inhalation of vapours causes central nervous system depression.

Yikes!!! Right?!

True story. I ditched commercial dryer sheets some time ago, opting for a very expensive “healthy” product, that quite honestly didn’t really make a difference in our laundry. So I stopped buying it and went without. Recently my husband came home from work, it must have been a VIM (very important meeting) day as he was wearing dress slacks and a sport coat. I couldn’t help but notice, as he walked past me, his pants were stuck to his socks. Oh no! He was THAT GUY at work. Not only was the break, cut a little too short, on his pants (in my opinion), they were desperately clinging to his socks. It was worth a good chuckle, but he didn’t find it quite as entertaining. Image

There’s just one more thing that needs to be mentioned. The author of The Brain Wash did not address the toxic issues surrounding fragrance in fabric softeners and dryer sheets. However, Mike Adams, editor of Natural News, does a fine job explaining the dangers in this article.

When people use dryer sheets, they are coating their cloths with a thin film of artificial chemical perfumes. Just like other perfumes, a person’s sensitivity to these perfumes decreases over time to the point where they don’t even notice how potent these artificial fragrance chemicals are. None of this would be interesting if it weren’t for the fact that these fragrance chemicals are extremely toxic. They are known carcinogens. They cause liver damage and cancer in mammals.” Mike Adams

Ok, so I presented a problem, but as any good blogger knows, I can’t leave you without a solution. Felted wool dryer balls are an easy to make, non-toxic alternative to dryer sheets and commercial fabric softeners. Throw a few of these in the dryer with your laundry and you will never go back to dryer sheets again.

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Duck Dynasty – The Show That Got Away

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by Pat Archbold

After A&E fired Phil Robertson for saying what every good Christian should believe, social media has been abuzz.  One of the recurring themes has been puzzlement about why A&E would cut off its nose to spite its face.  Duck Dynasty is the franchise right now. Why would they risk destroying their own cash cow?

To understand the why, we have to go back to the beginning.  Duck Dynasty is not the show that they wanted, it is the show that got away from them. Image

It seems what the producers intended and what A&E envisioned with the show is much different than the show that they ended up with, but they didn’t do anything about it because it was so wildly popular and so wildly profitable.  But even with all the money, they have never really been comfortable with what happened.

This is what happened.  The whole idea of the show was to parade these nouveau riche Christian hillbillies around so that we could laugh at them. “Look at them,” we were supposed to say.  “Look how backward they are!  Look what they believe!  Can you believe they really live this way and believe this stuff?  See how they don’t fit in? HAHAHA”

When the producers saw the way the show was shaping up, different than they envisioned it, they tried to change course.  They tried to get the Robertson’s to tone down their Christianity, but to their eternal credit they refused.  They tried to add fake cussin’ to the show by inserting bleeps where no cussword was uttered.  At best, they wanted to make the Robertson’s look like crass buffoons. At worst they wanted them to look like hypocrites.

They desperately wanted us to laugh at the Robertsons.  Instead, we loved them.

A&E wanted us to point fingers at them and laugh at them.  But something else happened entirely.  Millions upon millions of people tuned in, not to laugh at them, but to laugh with them.

And then we pointed at them.  We pointed at them and said things like, “I wish my family was more like them.  I wish we prayed together as a family.  I wish we were together like the Robertsons.”

ImageBy the time this all happened, A&E had a conundrum.  They knew who the Robertsons were and what they believe and they still held it in disdain.  But they really liked the money.  Really liked the money. So they lived with it.

But the progressives whose bank accounts were not growing fatter because of these backward rubes were never inclined to look the other way.  They hate the show and they really hate the response to the show.  They want it destroyed.

Many magazines and interviewers have tried to get the Robertsons to trip up so they could pounce.  When Phil backed the Christian viewpoint on homosexuality and added some personal asides about how he just couldn’t understand it, they had their moment.

I suspect that the folks at A&E, who always disliked the positive Christian message in the show of which Phil is the primary proponent, saw their chance.  They want to keep the cash but dial down the Christianity.  With Phil out, perhaps they could get the show they always wanted. Image

I suspect that the Robertsons are more principled than that and A&E will end up disappointed on many levels.  The Roberstons are who they are and I suspect the money means a great deal more to A&E than it does to them.

It will be interesting to see whether A&E likes the money more than they hate the Christianity.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the hate wins.

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A Christmas Miracle

by Donna Wallace

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Helen. Dear, sweet, elderly, Helen. Such a beloved lady, and friend to all who knew her.

Helen had belonged to the same church for almost all her adult life. She saw many members come and go, bond and feud, but she had always remained faithful to her beliefs, and she was highly respected, and cherished, among all the other parishioners.

Poor Helen. She wasn’t a young spry chicken anymore. She was well into her 70’s, and not quite as energetic and bubbly as when she first visited the church so many years ago.

Christmas 1998 was not destined to be a very kind year to Helen. She had suffered many losses. She lost her beloved husband six years before, but this year she seemed to have lost it all. After her dear husband passed away, she had moved in with her daughter, Becky, and her young grandaughter, Jennifer. They saved her from the loneliness she would surely have visited without their love. They grew closer every day, and each new day, life brought them more to be grateful and appreciative of. They knew they were blessed, and always remembered their blessings in prayer. Image

Jennifer was only two years old when Helen first came to live with them. Cute as a button, rambunctious, outgoing, and always joyful and singing. She made a house a home. Becky and Helen used to kid how it took the two of them to even half keep up with the whirlwind they nicknamed “Sunshine”. Jennifer was curious as a cat, and filled the day with endless questions – some deep, some comical, and each one needing answers! Her mother, and her grandma were careful never to carelessly brush her questions aside, or grow impatient. They answered each and every one, if not with wisdom, then at least with unbridled love. Jennifer grew into a brilliant young lady, and everyone predicted a bright and sunny future for the special little girl.

Life is funny. Predictions sometimes don’t come to pass. Future’s sometimes only last today.

One night, driving home from the store, Becky and Jennifer were hit, head on, by a drunk driver. It was a mistake. A horrid mistake. If it weren’t for a flat tire, they would have been home long before the intoxicated man drove down their street. Nobody can predict the future. Their shiny future ended that night. Their dreams, and plans and goals scattered among the broken glass, and the shredded steel. They were gone – forever. Once again, Helen was alone. Image

The sorrow and remorse that lived in Helen’s heart surely should have killed her, she thought. The agony of losing those closest to her, the loneliness of being all alone, in a house as quiet as a tomb, and the emptiness of having nothing more to live for were more than she could bear.

Every Sunday she continued to go faithfully to her church, pray to her God, and she was always polite, but oh so sad. She had changed – withered, deflated, crumbled. She seemed to hardly be able to put one foot in front of the other. Her joyous laughter was seldom heard, her excitement and zest for life was simply no longer a part of who she was. She was no longer inflated – just completely deflated – flat. Zombie-like instead of lifelike. Just waiting for her turn to go be with her loved ones.

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Naturally, all the other parishioners saw the change. They felt her sadness, and loneliness. She had always been such a pillar of strength, a friend in need, someone who could be counted on when the rest of the world had checked out. She was always there, in every way, for everyone. But now, she wasn’t there at all, and nobody seemed to know how to comfort and help her.

But everyone saw. And everyone knew – from the oldest members, to the toddlers. They all saw the change, and the grief, and the pain.

Months passed. It was now December, and the holiday season was proving to be harder than Helen imagined it would be – and lonelier. She still went about living, kept up appearances, prayed, and was kind to everyone she met. Yet she felt like she was melting – disolving – dying, slowly inside. She wondered if she would see Christmas this year, or go to spend it with those that went before her – the ones she loved. Image

Then, the second Sunday of December, the Sunday School Teacher came to her with a special request. Would she be kind enough to help with trimming the tree that stood in the middle of the children’s classroom? Each child had handmade a special ornament, to place on the tree, and they needed assistance, and adult supervision. Helen tried to gracefully decline, but the teacher smiled, and said that the children had requested that she be the assistant this year. It was important to them for some reason, the teacher whispered.

The night of the special event, Helen was present. She was dressed as immaculate as always, and wore the best smile she could muster. The sight of the young children was bittersweet. The laughter and playfulness were refreshing, but they also held memories of her dear, grandaughter, Jennifer, who had passed away just four short months before. For the first time in months though, you could occassionally see her eyes shining, through a veil of tears. She decided she was happy that the children had thought to invite her, and thankful that she had decided to come join in the merriment. She felt more alive than she had since that dreadful day in August 1998.

Most of the ornaments had already been placed on the tree when an excited, almost giddy group of children came to her and took her by the hand. They led her to an ornate, red velvet chair that the teacher must have pushed into the center of the room, and they begged for her to sit down. Curious, and a little aprehensive, Helen obeyed, goodheartedly. You could see a tiny smile light up the corner of her mouth as she wondered what the little gremlins were up to.

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A group, of five girls and four boys, sat in front of her splendid chair, smiling up at her with eyes moist with tears of happiness, and mouths trying not to prematurely babble the secret they were about to share with her. In the middle of the group sat a magnificent gold, gift-wrapped box addressed to: “Our Grandma, with Love.”

Eight year old Christine stood before Helen, tears overflowing, smiling from ear to ear, eyes dancing at the speed of light. Christine had always been special to Helen, for she had been Jennifer’s best friend ever since she could remember. They had spent much time together over the years, and they had grown close. She placed the box in Helen’s tiny lap and the whole group rose in unison, and began to sing just for an amazed and delighted Helen, who seemed to be crying and laughing and praying all at the same time! With pride in their eyes, and love in their voices, and their notes sometimes off-key, they musically told her the reason that she was there. It was easy, yet touching to see that the children had written the words, and the song just for her. A gift to be cherished. Wonderful memories to last forevermore. Image

Each of the nine small children either had no grandmother any longer, or had never even known theirs. This was a very special celebration and union – a new family meeting, and bonding, and growing and loving – and sharing a very special Christmas. One by one, they unpacked the special ornament they made, and proudly showed her their surprise. Each ornament was addressed, “To my special Grandma, with Love – on our First Christmas”. Every ornament was unique, special, splendid, and every one was a miracle beyond belief, to a heart so desperately in pain.

Once again, proving that predictions, don’t always come true…..Christmas 1998 wasn’t unkind to Helen whatsoever. No, Christmas 1998, was a new beginning, a brand new start, and nine new reasons to celebrate many more Christmas’s to come. The next two weeks Helen became a human dynamo! She baked, she decorated, she sang and filled her house with so much cheer until at last it warmed up again, and became a home. She invited her nine special grandkids over and celebrated a Christmas as only a very special, wonderful grandma knows how to do, filled to the brim with magical memories that only the nine most special grandchildren on earth could ever have provided. Image

You see, dear sweet Helen wasn’t the only one in need that Christmas. She wasn’t the only lonely soul who felt the emptiness and a void which needed filling. The children in their infinite wisdom saw her need, and in filling her need, they filled their own. There is no love as pure and unpretentious as a child’s love, no mind as wise and true as a childs mind can be when given the opportunity to flourish and grow. Every single child is a miracle you can mold and design. Parents have the power, the opportunity, and the responsibility to teach their children love and compassion, peace and kindness. The future is in the hand’s of our children, but our children are first placed in our loving arms, and under our tender guidance. Teach them love. Teach them the true meaning of Christmas. Not only one day in 365 days, but 365 days each and every year. Each new day providing an opportunity to celebrate, and rejoice, and give the gift of love. The gift of abundance that only grows, with no chance of diminishing in time. Image

Christmas is magical. You can see it, feel it, smell it, hear it, taste it. Christmas is a blessed event, that makes believers out of the staunchest cynics at times. It’s wishes being granted – dreams coming true. But most of all, it has to live, all year long, deep within your heart. Christmas isn’t for a day – it’s all year long. Christmas is a lifetime affair. Merry Christmas to all….today, tomorrow, and forevermore.

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What Are You Expecting For Christmas?

by John Killinger

 

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What are you expecting for Christmas this year? Smoke curling from chimneys into cold skies and bare trees standing like sentinels watching for Santa Claus with his sleigh full of toys? A tall fir tree bedecked with soft colored lights and trinkets and candy canes? The smell of Christmas cookies wafting through the house, and the sound of bells and carols on the stereo? Children hanging their stockings on the mantle, or, if the stockings have gotten too large and the gifts too plentiful, laying them on the hearth by a blazing fire?

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It is easy to think of Christmas images, isn’t it, because there is no season of the year so full of nostalgia and ripe with expectation. It takes a Scrooge, with a heart of stone, not to become excited about the approach of this joyous occasion. Visions of sugar plums or their contemporary equivalent—dance in all our heads.

But I wonder, have you ever been disappointed by Christmas? Did you expect something Christmas that didn’t materialize? Maybe you were looking for a bonus in your pay envelope that wasn’t there or expecting somebody home who didn’t arrive or anticipating something, a mood or a feeling, that never quite came to you. Maybe you didn’t receive a present you were looking for—the doll you had seen in the toy shop or the drum set that would have driven Mom and Dad crazy or the microwave oven you had hinted about for months.…

Christmas can be that way. We can build up such impossible hopes and dreams that it can’t possibly fulfill them. That is one reason people often feel depressed when Christmas is over. They have lived for days in a state of perpetual excitation, expecting something to happen; and, when it doesn’t, they feel sad and let down.

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That’s too bad because you know what the real message of Christmas is about? It’s about what we don’t expect. That’s right. Christmas isn’t about what we expect; it’s about what we don’t expect.

Think about it. Zechariah and Elizabeth didn’t expect to have a baby in their old age. Mary didn’t expect to become the mother of the Son of God. She couldn’t believe it when the angel told her. “Why, I’m not even married,” she said. Joseph didn’t expect his young bride to be pregnant. Herod didn’t expect to be disturbed by word of the Child. The shepherds didn’t expect to see angels in their fields. The Magi didn’t expect to find the Savior of the world born in a manger in a poor little country village like Bethlehem. The whole thing was a surprise. God surprised everybody that first Christmas. No_Room_At_The_Inn

And when you think about Jesus’ teachings, you realize that surprise is in the nature of who God is. God is full of surprises.

The meek shall inherit the earth. Think about that. That’s really a surprise, isn’t it? When you look around and see the people who shove and push and talk the loudest getting ahead of everybody else, you wonder about the meek.

The first shall be last and the last first. That’s another corker. The high and the mighty going into heaven behind the low and the poor.…

You see, it isn’t a matter of what we’re expecting for Christmas. It’s what we don’t expect. That’s what we ought to be looking for, what we don’t expect because that’s the way God is. God is a God of surprises.

I don’t have anything against traditional Christmas celebrations. In fact, I love them. I enjoy the trees and lights and Christmas pageants and music and presents and all the rest. But we ought to realize that God may have some surprises in store for us this Christmas. God may not come to us in the old familiar ways. God may speak to us in some new event, in some place where we least expect it.

The surprises of God! We never know where they are or when they are coming. But the word of the gospel is that they are and that they do come. And this is what Christmas is all about.

 

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Christmas Magic During The Great Depression

by Beverly Roberts Jostad

Christmas 1940 makes me misty-eyed every time I think about it. I was a high school student and The Great Depression was in full swing. In the hard times of the era, people depended on one another. We collected food, clothing, bedding and household items and gave them to the needy.

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We saved the toys we collected for Christmas. The home economics classes made new dresses for the dolls, while the shop classes turned lumber into trucks, games and other toys.

That Christmas we students found ourselves wrapping toys and loading packages for delivery. As we presented the gifts, we saw joy in many faces, especially those of the children.

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We had a few more visits to make on Christmas morning. The air was heavy and chilled us to the bone. Seeing us riding our bicycles, a rancher offered us his truck for deliveries, and we gratefully accepted. For several hours, we knocked on doors. But as the cold hours passed, our enthusiasm gradually waned.

ImageWhen we finally headed home, someone pointed to a small house down a canal bank. Although there were no electric or telephone lines running to the structure, smoke curled from the chimney. The house stood bleak in the forlorn terrain that surrounded it.

None of us knew who lived there, and we wondered if there were children. We still had a doll, two trucks, assorted small toys, chocolate Santas and a box of groceries. We decided to make one last visit. Three of us climbed down from the truck bed and gathered the gifts.

Mud sucked at our boots, slowing our progress. When we knocked on the door, a young woman whose dark hair was tied back with a red ribbon answered it. Three small children peeked from behind her skirt—a little girl of about 2, and boys perhaps 4 and 5 years old. The mother put an arm around the toddler and looked at us questioningly.

“Merry Christmas,” we chorused as we bent down and handed the gift-wrapped packages to the children and the box of groceries to the mother, whose eyes widened with amazement. She slowly smiled, then quickly said, “Come in.”072611_sr_hume_FNC_072611_18-35

The catch in her voice was sufficient for us to accept her invitation. We removed our boots and stepped inside.

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I knelt to reach the little girl, and it was then that I looked around the room. The linoleum floor was worn but spotless. Bleached flour-sack curtains hung at the windows. Neatly made beds occupied one corner of the room and the kitchen another. A small stove furnished heat.

As I turned back to the children, dressed in clean, neatly patched clothes, I noticed several green tree branches standing upright in a dirt-filled pot. A red cloth circled the base. Can lids and paper angels hung on strings, and a tiny paper star graced the treetop. Streamers of popcorn completed the decorations.

The room was silent as the children looked at their mother, wondering if the gifts were really for them. The little girl hugged her doll, and the boys grasped the trucks as they sought an answer. She put her arms around them and said in a choked voice, “I told you Santa Claus would come.”

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On Santa’s Team

Author Unknown
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My grandma taught me everything about Christmas. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus,” jeered my sister. “Even dummies know that!”

My grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me.

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“No Santa Claus!” she snorted. “Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.”

“Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked. I hadn’t even finished my second cinnamon bun.

“Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

“Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.” Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.

I was only eight years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.

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I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobbie Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade-two class. Bobbie Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough; but all we kids knew that Bobbie Decker didn’t have a cough, and he didn’t have a coat.

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobbie Decker a coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. I didn’t see a price tag, but ten dollars ought to buy anything. I put the coat and my ten-dollar bill on the counter and pushed them toward the lady behind it.

She looked at the coat, the money, and me. “Is this a Christmas present for someone?” she asked kindly. “Yes,” I replied shyly. “It’s … for Bobbie. He’s in my class, and he doesn’t have a coat.” The nice lady smiled at me. I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons, and write, “To Bobbie, From Santa Claus” on it … Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Image

Then she drove me over to Bobbie Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa’s helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobbie’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk.

Suddenly, Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.”

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell twice and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobbie. He looked down, looked around, picked up his present, took it inside and closed the door.

Forty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie Decker’s bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: Ridiculous!

Santa was alive and well … AND WE WERE ON HIS TEAM!

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Keep Your Fork

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Author Unknown

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The sound of Martha’s voice on the other end of the telephone always brought a smile to Brother Jim’s face. She was not only one of the oldest members of the congregation, but one of the most faithful. Aunt Martie, as all the children called her, just seemed to ooze faith, hope, and love wherever she went. This time, however, there seemed to be an unusual tone to her words. “Preacher, could you stop by this afternoon? I need to talk with you.” “Of course. I’ll be there around 3:00.”

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As they sat facing each other in the quiet of her small living room, Jim learned the reason for what he sensed in her voice. Martha shared the news that her doctor had just discovered a previously undetected tumor. “He says I probably have six months to live.” Martha’s words were certainly serious, yet there was a definite calm about her. “I’m so sorry to . . . ” but before Jim could finish, Martha interrupted. “Don’t be. The Lord has been good. I have lived a long life. I’m ready to go. You know that.” “I know,” Jim whispered with a reassuring nod.” But I do want to talk with you about my funeral. I have been thinking about it, and there are things that I know I want.”

The two talked quietly for a long time. They talked about Martha’s favorite hymns, the passages of Scripture that had meant so much to her through the years, and the many memories they shared from the five years Jim had been with First Baptist Church.

ImageWhen it seemed that they had covered just about everything, Aunt Martie paused, looked up at Jim with a twinkle in her eye, and then added, “One more thing, preacher. When they bury me, I want my old Bible in one hand and a fork in the other.” “A fork?” Jim was sure he had heard everything, but this caught him by surprise. “Why do you want to be buried with a fork?”

“I have been thinking about all of the church dinners and banquets that I attended through the years,” she explained. “I couldn’t begin to count them all. But one thing sticks in my mind. At those really nice get-togethers, when the meal was almost finished, a server or maybe the hostess would come by to collect the dirty dishes. I can hear the words now. Sometimes, at the best ones, somebody would lean over my shoulder and whisper, `You can keep your fork.’ And do you know what that meant? Dessert was coming! “It didn’t mean a cup of Jell-O or pudding or even a dish of ice cream. You don’t need a fork for that. It meant the good stuff, like chocolate cake or cherry pie! When they told me I could keep my fork, I knew the best was yet to come! “That’s exactly what I want people to talk about at my funeral. Image

Oh, they can talk about all the good times we had together. That would be nice. “But when they walk by my casket and look at my pretty blue dress, I want them to turn to one another and say, `Why the fork?’ “This is what I want you to say. I want you to tell them that I kept my fork because the best is yet to come.”

The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better was coming.

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At the funeral people were walking by the woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favorite Bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over the pastor heard the question “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled. During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.

So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you oh so gently, that the best is yet to come.

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