Friday, December 21, 2012

Santa & Sarah

Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at the Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl. "Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling. "Your friend?" Your sister?

"Yes, Santa," he replied. "My sister, Sarah, who is very sick," he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

"She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!"

The child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

"What is it?" Santa asked warmly.

"Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but ..." the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors.

"The girl in the photograph .. My granddaughter .. well, you see .. she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it even through the Holidays," she said through tear-filled eyes. "Is there any way, Santa .... any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa."

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do. Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. "What if it were MY child lying in that Hospital bed, dying," he thought with a sinking heart, "this is the Least I can do."

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children's Hospital.

"Why?" Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah's grandmother earlier that day. "C'mon ... I'll take you there," Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa.

They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.

Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day.

A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead.

And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho!"

"Santa!" shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact.

Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son -- 9 years old -- gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes.

His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears.

Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room. As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering "thank you" as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.

Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year.

As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl's mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah's bed, holding hands. Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.

"Oh , yes, Santa ... I do!" she exclaimed.

"Well, I'm going to ask that angels watch over you, "he said.

Laying one hand on the child's head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed.

He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease.

He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, "Silent Night, Holy Night - all is calm, all is bright."

The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all.

When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah's frail, small hands in his own.

"Now, Sarah," he said authoritatively, "you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!"

He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he "had" to.

He had to give her the greatest gift he could -- not dolls or games or toys -- but the gift of HOPE.

"Yes, Santa!" Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room.

Out in the hall, the minute Santa's eyes met Rick's, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah's mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa's side to thank him.

"My only child is the same age as Sarah," he explained quietly.

"This is the least I could do." They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came u p to sit on his lap.

"Hi, Santa! Remember me?!"

"Of course, I do," Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her.

After all, the secret to being a "good" Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the "only" child in the world at that moment.

"You came to see me in the hospital last year!" Santa's jaw dropped.

Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. "Sarah!" he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy -- much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah's mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus.

He had witnessed --and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about -- this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed.

Cancer-free. Alive and well.

He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, "Thank You Father. ' Tis a very, Merry Christmas!"

Friday Fill-Ins

I'm going to give you a choice of fill-ins OR a different kind of fill-in (or both). A friend emailed the Friday Fill-In Blogger a list where you have to identify Christmas songs by the initials of the first words of the first line of each song. If you'd like to play along, great! if you just want to do the regular Fill-Ins, that's perfectly fine, too! we go!

There are no right or wrong answers. Don't limit yourself to one word responses; just say whatever that pops into your head! Replace my bold words with YOUR words!
  1. Ahhhh, I love the smell of fresh brewed coffee!
  2. Mentally preparing for the new year fast approaching!
  3. Creating a safe environment.
  4. REST and relaxation.
  5. Kick start your morning with reading God's Word.
  6. Mayans predictions of the end of the world FAILED.
  7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to visiting friends, tomorrow my plans include just a little housework and Sunday, I want to chillax!!



You can get your "Friday Fill-In" by clicking on the title above or using the button in the left ... წஜღFAVORITE SITES ... column.

*or re-post in a comment below!*

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Friday Fill-Ins

There are no right or wrong answers. Don't limit yourself to one word responses; just say whatever that pops into your head! Replace my bold words with YOUR words!

  1. Oh, my aching back.

  2. Better sooner, rather than later!

  3. Buy one, get one FREE.

  4. ABSOLUTELY positively!

  5. Soon, I'm going to bed.

  6. Wha? There's shooting stars?

  7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Bunco, tomorrow my plans include just a little housework and Sunday, I want to chillax!!

You can get your "Friday Fill-In" by clicking on the title above or using the button in the left ... წஜღFAVORITE SITES ... column.
*or re-post in a comment below!*

Brie & Cherry Pastry Cups

This is a recipe my daughter, Jennifer, found in a magazine. Between her now mother-in-law, Nancy, and myself, we made the bulk of appetizers for her wedding. This was the most popular one that everyone wished there were MORE of! Simple to make, elegant looking AND they taste GOOD! Here's the recipe:

PREP TIME: 30-min - TOTAL TIME: 55-min - SERVINGS: 36

1 - sheet frozen puff pastry (from 17.3-ounce package), thawed
1/3 to 1/2 cup red cherry preserves (Albertsons store brand ROCKS!)
4 ounces - Brie cheese, cut into 1/2x1/2-inch pieces (36 pieces)
1/4 cup - chopped pecans
2 tablespoons - chopped fresh chives

STEP 1: Heat oven to 375°
Spray miniature muffin cup sheet pan with cooking spray. Cut pastry into 36 (1 1/2-inch) squares. Slightly press 24 squares into muffin cups; press center with finger/wooden tool.

Bake 10 minutes. Press center with handle of wooden tool/spoon. Bake 6 to 8 minutes longer or until golden brown. Immediately press again in center. Fill each with about 1/2 teaspoon preserves. Top with cheese piece, pecans and chives.
*repeat steps 1 & 2 with remaining pastry & fillings

Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm.

I hope that if you DO make this recipe, you'll share your thoughts and results!

**If you like spicy foods, try substituting red or green jalapeño jelly for the cherry preserves. It's a delicious touch of sweet and spice!


1 Serving (1 Appetizer)
Calories 60 (Calories from Fat 35), Total Fat 4g (Saturated Fat 1g,), Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 35mg; Total Carbohydrate 5g (Dietary Fiber 0g, Protein 1g;

Percent Daily Value*:
Exchanges: 0 Starch; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk;
0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat;
0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 1/2 Fat; Carbohydrate Choices:0;
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chanukkah: The Feast of Lights

**Celebrating the Miracle of the Oil**

Also known as "Feast of Lights," this 8-day celebration is not actually discussed in the Old Testament. However, it is a celebration worthy of notice, because it is another example of how God can work miracles in people's lives.

The attribution of this celebration to the victory of the Jews over Antiochus IV's rule is incorrect. Chanukkah is a celebration of God's miracle of the oil, not of the military victory as many people believe. Jews do not celebrate war or the spilling of blood.

Alternative Spellings:
There are a number of proper spellings of this holiday. Much of the differences come from varying translation of the hebrew, but all of these spellings are considered correct:

Hanukkah (most common in the U.S. )


During the reign of Alexander the Great, the Jews were allowed (like many of the people that Alexander conquered) to continue practicing their religion and live with relative autonomy. However, a successor to Alexander, Antiochus IV, was not so benevolent. He oppressed and massacred the Jews. He desecrated the Temple by placing a Hellenistic priest in it and allowing the sacrificing of non-kosher animals on the altar.

Two groups opposed Antiochus. There was the group led by Mattathius the Hasmonean and Judah Maccabee, his son. There was also a group then known as the Chasidism, which eventually became the Pharisees. Together they formed a revolt against the assimilation of the jews and oppression by the government. They succeeded and regained control of the Temple.

However, during the rededication of the Temple there was a shortage of undefiled oil. In the Temple, the menorah was to burn through the night. It would be eight days before fresh oil could be prepared, and there was only oil for one night. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days.**

Significance of the Holiday

While a majority of the world knows about Chanukkah, it is actually a minor holiday in comparison to other Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, or Passover. The minor significance may be due to the fact that the story is not related in Jewish scripture, but instead in the book of Maccabbees, which Jews do not accept as scripture.

Celebrating the Holiday

The Jews commemorate the holiday by lighting candles on a candelabrum known as a menorah. The menorah has space for nine total candles. There is one candle for each night and one "servant" candle known as the shammus.

On the first night of Chanukkah one candle is placed in the first holder on the right. The shammus is lit, and and three blessings are recited. The shammus is then used to light the first candle. Then the shammus is placed in its own holder, and the candles are to burn out on their own (but they must remain lit for at least 30 minutes). Every night one candle is added to the number of candles on the menorah. So the second night there would be two candles placed from right to left. By the last night, eight candles are being lit.

Other Chanukkah Traditions

While lighting candles is the primary tradition of the holiday, other activities have been added over the centuries. Some families play dreidel, a gambling game played with a square top market with hebrew letters.

There is also a tradition of eating fried foods. The most common food includes latkes, which many non-jews know as potato pancakes. It is also common for children to receive chocolate coins that are referred to as "gelt." Traditionally "gelt" was the only gift of the holiday, and it was actually small amounts of money. Today many parents give their children gifts to celebrate the holiday.

Are There Lessons for Christians in Chanukkah?

When God works in people's lives there are always lessons. God is a provider of miracles, and even though this celebration is not included in the Bible most Christians use, it should not be overlooked as "just a Jewish holiday." Christians around the world are being persecuted for their faith, and Christianity is being placed in a box in many other areas of the world. Yet God has a way of offering people strength. When the Jews faced a lack of useful oil for the Temple, it did not mean that God was not there to provide. God has the capabilities to provide whatever His people need. Chanukkah reminds us that, with a faith the size of a mustard seed, anything is possible with God.

Matthew 17:20 - "He replied, "Because you have so little faith, I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (NIV)

Matthew 19:26 - "Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (NIV)

By Kelli Mahoney