It was a long, cold, dark winter. One that she didn’t think would ever end. There was snow, rain, and sleet. A couple of times there was enough ice to nearly break the branches on the trees. The little girl held on. She waited for the warmer weather, the better times, the warmth of the sun. She knew it would come, it was just a matter of time. As she waited patiently, she would say her prayers, she would thank God for protecting her and her mommy and daddy during these cold, dark, winter nights.
Finally, the day had come. The first bud of spring appeared out of the ground. The bud peeked out of her shoot and could feel the warmth surround her. She was filled with so much joy that, at first, she didn’t notice she was the only bud sprouting. After basking in the warmth of the sunshine for a few minutes she looked around, startled that she was the only one. Where was everyone else? Was she going to be all alone? Did she come out too soon? Was colder weather coming back and she would die because of her eagerness to sprout? She was filled with fear and doubt but she stayed strong. She knew God had a plan for her. It was then that a little girl saw her and started yelling for her dad to come see the new flower. The little girl was so excited that the bud could not help but smile. Her excitement was contagious.
A little while later another bud awakened. He also took a moment to take in the warmth around him. He then looked to see if the others had awakened and that was when he saw her. She was within inches of him and he knew he would love her. It didn’t take long for her to notice him either, even though it took the help of a little girl yelling “Look, daddy, now there’s two!”
They welcomed the spring with all the other buds that started to awaken. With all the other flowers around them, they knew they were meant for each other. When the rains came, he would lean towards her to cover her petals. When the strong winds came they would lean into it together, holding stems. They were inseparable. When the bees came they opened their petals for them so they could spread their seeds to other lands where there were no flowers. They also knew that the bees relied on their pollen to take back to their hives for food. It was a beneficial relationship. Everything was new and exciting.
Then summer came. It was a scorching summer, one like they had never seen. There was no water. Many flowers died but not our couple. They shared what they had with each other. Every little drop of moisture was shared between them. Luckily, they were also planted where they had shade for part of the day. They counted the hours down together until they were cooled by the shade. Every once in awhile the little girl would come out with a can of water and water them, helping to keep them alive. They were often too tired to open their petals wide enough for the bees to come but they did their best. They knew the only way to survive this summer was with the help of others. They prayed their prayers for rain, for cooler temperatures but it was not to be. Sometimes in life, God doesn’t answer prayers and there are reasons only He knows why. They had reached a point in their relationship that they were still together, but they didn’t talk much. Too much too worry about, too much life got in the way. When was their next rain drop, how would they make it through another day without food, why couldn’t they be like they were in the spring? Did they waste this whole season of their life? They knew better because they still shared the little water they had, they still protected each other but the excitement was gone.
Before they knew it Autumn was here. They had made it through the difficult summer and were enjoying another season of their life. The rains came again, as well as cooler weather. When he looked at her she was still the most beautiful, most loving, most caring flower in the garden. When she looked at him he was still the bravest, strongest, most handsome flower this side of Eden. They held each other’s petals more each day, knowing that their days were winding down. They reflected on the spring and the summer. Days when their love was new and days when they didn’t know if they would make it. They thought of their seeds spread far and wide, soon to be new flowers that would spread their love and beauty around the world. It wasn’t easy, they had moments of doubt but they fought for each other, they fought for their love. They survived.
Soon the cold winds blew again. They held on for as long as they could but with each passing day, their petals would fall off. They knew it wouldn’t be long now but they held on for each struggling moment. Relying on each other to get by. Praying for just one more second. She was the first to go, as she was the first to sprout. He wasn’t far behind her.
The little girl, all bundled up from the cold, looked at her daddy and said, “Look, daddy, the first two here are the last two to leave. I wonder if they were happy here, I wonder if they were in love.”
“Now, now,” said the daddy, “we know flowers can’t fall in love but if they could, those two would definitely have been like me and your mom. Through all the seasons and all the weather, the rain, the sun, the cold, they were standing right beside each other. Holding petals all the while.”
The little girl giggled. Through the cold, dark, winter nights she was safe as she anxiously waited for the first bud of spring to blossom again.
You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, you know Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you know Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint? Of course you don’t, because most of you have not heard of the great reindeer revolt.
It was December 17, 1938. Exactly seven days before Christmas Eve. As you would expect, the North Pole was extremely busy getting everything ready for the big night. All the elves were making the last of the toys for all the good girls and boys. Santa was checking his list, then checking it twice just to be sure no one was missed. Mrs. Claus was busy making snacks for everyone. The reindeer were finishing up the last of their training exercises.
Maybe it was because the reindeer were tired or maybe they felt they weren’t being respected enough but for whatever the reason, some of the reindeer decided they had had enough. Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint had enough and decided they were no longer going to work on Christmas Eve. “We work every Christmas Eve and we are tired of it. We want to stay home and enjoy the evening with our families. All of us should join together and tell Santa no more.”
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen all said no. “We are not going to revolt against Santa. How can you do this? Think of all the children. We work one night a year. We have 364 days to relax and take vacations and do whatever we want. We enjoy our job and traveling all over the world and seeing all the decorations and the children eagerly awaiting our visit.”
This was not the first time that Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen had seen a bad attitude from Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint. In fact, over the last six months they had seen many warning signs. They tried talking to them, but never seemed to get anywhere. Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint had even started calling Rudolph names and would not let him play in any reindeer games.
All the reindeer argued and fought for several days. We are right and this is what we are going to do. No, you are not right, we are right and we will stand our ground. Back and forth, back and forth it went.
Finally, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen decided that this could not go on. They made a very difficult decision, one that did not come easily and one that made them very sad. These reindeer have been friends their entire lives but they no longer saw eye to eye. They told Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint that they could no longer be friends. They didn’t want Santa to think they were revolting too, just because of who they were friends with.
Santa saw what was going on and felt very sad for the reindeer. But, he too, had to make a very difficult decision. If Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint did not want to fly on Christmas Eve, then he was not going to force them. But he knew he needed eight reindeer to fly.
He held tryouts and four reindeer stood out amongst the rest. They were Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. They joined forces with Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen and became the eight famous reindeer you know today. Minus Rudolph of course, he would join the team a little later.
That is why you have never heard of Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint. That is why a year later that Johnny Marks wrote Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with its famous opening lines of which you know. You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, you know Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, and the rest is history.
That is also why you should be wise and choose your friends wisely. You will be known by the company you keep.
From the time she was a small sapling she knew what she was born for. She was born and raised on a Christmas tree farm. She heard stories from her family and friends about how one day she would be picked to go be inside someone’s house
Each year she grew a little bigger but each year she kept hearing people say the same thing. “She isn’t big enough.” “Her branches are still too weak.” “Her needles are too thin.”
She would wonder the same thing each year. “What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t anyone want me? ”
Another year passed and she thought for sure this would be the year. She was almost as big as all the other trees but it was the same old story for our Christmas tree. “She isn’t quite there yet.” “She’s almost full enough but not as full as we want.” “Her branches still aren’t strong enough.”
Many more years passed and she still wasn’t being picked. She was really starting to wonder what was wrong with her. She was bigger than almost all the other trees. Her branches were fuller and stronger than the other trees. Other trees that were born after her were being picked but she still wasn’t. “Why doesn’t anyone want me?” “When will my time come?”
Another year passed and she was a full ten feet taller than any other tree. She had beautiful branches but she still wasn’t being picked. Now she heard things likes she’s too big, she can’t fit in our house, we don’t have enough lights and decorations to complete her.
Our Christmas tree was so sad. No one wanted her when she was young and small and no one wanted her when she was old and tall. She was thinking she will never know what it’s like to be decorated and look so lovely.
Our Christmas tree continued to grow and by the next year she was seventy-five feet tall. She could see the entire farm. That was when she saw this big truck coming on the farm. They came right up to her. One guy got out and looked at her and said “this tree is what we have been looking for. She will look beautiful at Rockefeller Center. We will decorate her and have so many lights on her. Millions of people will see her and admire how beautiful she is!”
Moral of the story is God will use you in His time. Be faithful and trust in Him and He will use you in ways you would never believe. We just have to be patient and wait for our calling.
This is a story of a snowflake. A unique and one of a kind snowflake. All snowflakes are made that way by their creator.
The snowflake in our story was filled with joy. He loved being a one of a kind snowflake. He has his own personality and demeanor. He truly enjoyed being a snowflake.
When it was his time to go and fall to the ground he was ready. He remembered everything he had been taught. He remembered how much he was loved. The most important of these was to spread the word of love. To teach others what a true, sincere, and unique kind of love looks like.
As he was falling to the ground he looked around at all of the other snowflakes. He could see they all were different than him, but they all had the same smile that he did. They were all so happy to finally being on their way to fulfill their destiny.
Then they all hit the ground and stopped. They were all piling on top of each other. Many were not happy. They started to complain. How easily they forgot the joy they had just a few minutes ago.
Some of the angry snowflakes were getting so angry that they were starting to melt. Their anger was also affecting other snowflakes around them because they started to get angry also. Even the ones that were not getting angry were being affected because they started to melt also. They were unable to get themselves out of the situation they were in. They needed help.
Meanwhile, other snowflakes saw what was going on and turned their hearts away from the snowflakes that needed help. Their hearts grew so cold that they started to turn to ice. As their icy hearts expanded, they affected other snowflakes around them. The snowflakes that were filled with joy a few minutes ago were now filled with icy hearts and turning other joy filled hearts to ice also. They needed help.
Our snowflake saw all that was going on and remembered what he was taught. He started talking about their creator and his love for them. He talked about the joy that should be in their hearts. The joy they had just a few minutes ago. He reminded them how they all felt just a few minutes ago and not to let their circumstance affect how they feel.
They should be joyful. Look at the children coming out to play. All with smiles on their faces. Look at how happy we have made them. All by just being who we were created to be.
Oh, how the snowflakes loved the children. It was a love with no end. They loved to hear the giggles and to see all the smiles. They even loved to hear the joys of screams as the children rode their sleds over them. It reminded our snowflake about how much the creator loved him. He remembered how much he loved talking and laughing with the creator. He remembered everything he was taught and he knew changes were coming.
Warmer weather will come and our snowflakes circumstances changed again. Our snowflake and his friends changed from unique snowflakes to drops of rain but their purpose was still the same. They will nourish the earth and provide the people with water to drink and water to grow their food. This is what we they were made to do.
They enjoyed many things in their lives, especially the children, but they each knew that they were brought here for a purpose. Sometimes they found themselves in unbearable situations but those that remembered their purpose never faulted. They stayed strong when others grumbled. They loved when others hated. Some had to change from snow to rain to fulfill their purpose but they did so with love. They knew that not all people would listen to them when they were snowflakes. Not all people cared for the snow. They had to adapt to the world around them and changed to rain so that others would hear the message of love, taught to them by their creator.
Like the snowflake, we are a community all made by our creator with one purpose and we will fulfill that purpose one way or the other. We each have our own unique blend of personalities, demeanor, and gifts. We also have to learn to adapt to our situations. What we talk about God to someone today might not work with the person we meet tomorrow. We have to speak love in a language our recipients want to hear. Do not judge, only love. We need to keep doing what we were put here by our creator to do and let Him, through us, open the eyes and hearts of those around us.
“Step right up, come on in, only a dollar” shouted the carny. He looked right at me and my friends. “Come on in boys, this will change your life” and he winked at me. I don’t know why but my gut was telling me something was wrong. My friends wanted to go in and since I didn’t want to be left out, I went in with them.
It wasn’t much at first. A conveyor belt going the opposite direction. Oooh scary right? We made a tight turn to the right and the floor started shaking. Everyone started to laugh but the feeling inside me was getting worse. It was then the lights went out. We started reaching out, touching each other to make sure we were all still there. We slowly inched forward and hit a wall, promptly piling into each other. Then the lights came on and that was when the fun began.
We were looking at ourselves, all four versions of each of us. We looked at each other like what the crap, a couple of my friends used some other choice words. In one mirror there was me, looking as normal as I am now, if you can call that normal. In the second mirror I was a hideous monster. What the heck? The third mirror I was a baseball player, uniform, glove and all. How could this be? I only was wearing the clothes I came in with. The fourth mirror showed me as an old, decrepit old man, all by myself. It was then we realized there was no exit. We did the only thing we could and started to push on the mirrors. The only one that moved was the second one. We all looked at each other and kind of shrugged and took a step through. But we weren’t all together on the other side.
There I was, the hideous monster. I pulled on my skin and clothes to get them to come off but they were me and I was them. It was then I noticed a small light in the distance. I walked toward it and saw it was a cell phone. It had a note on it. PRESS PLAY. What I saw disgusted me and I wish I didn’t have to tell you about it, but I do. It was 15 second clips of my life. There was me eight years old pushing the other kids down on the playground. There was me twelve years old stealing a cassette from the local music store. There was me sixteen years old with my girlfriend. We were in the backseat and she said she wasn’t ready but I said we had already gone too far so let’s keep going. There was me at nineteen at a college party when a bunch of guys took a passed out girl upstairs and I didn’t stop them. There was me at twenty two when I didn’t take the keys from my friend and he drove home drunk, but he didn’t make it. There was me at home instead of visiting my dad before he passed away. There was me watching a movie instead of calling a friend who was home alone, waiting for me to call. There was me ignoring my wife because of past mistakes. Was I really this monster? Is this how others see me?
Then we were all back in the same room of mirrors. We all looked at each other like what was that? No one was laughing now. We pushed on the mirrors again but only the third one opened this time.
There I was, at Wrigley Field, pitching for the Cubs. The crowd was chanting my name. Oh yeah, this is what I was made for. They all love me. I was on the mound, World Series, game seven, bottom of the ninth, two outs, two on, two strikes. One more strike and I bring a championship to Chicago. The wind up, the pitch…and I heard it. My shoulder popped. Then I heard the crack of the bat as it connected to the ball. Then I heard the silence. Just like that it was all over. The game, my career, my life. I was so angry. I was mad at God. How could He bring me to this moment and then let it all go? One pitch. It was all over. What kind of God would do that to me? I shut everyone out. I drank myself to sleep every night. I didn’t know the women’s names I would wake up to. I didn’t care. I went from 60,000 people screaming my name to the deafening silence of my own thoughts.
There we were again. All six of us in the same room of mirrors. Mark said that wasn’t so bad. “Let’s get this over with,” said Scott. We looked at each other and hesitantly stepped into the fourth mirror.
There I was. A decrepit old man. No one there but me. A lifetime of choices led me to here. A lifetime of bad choices. How did I get here? I was a good guy once. I believed in God, once upon a time. I looked in the mirror and the mirror looked back. Was this really me? Then I was gone. There in my casket, all by myself. Honestly, all by myself. No one came to say goodbye. Not one single person! Was I that unloveable and selfish? Was I really that bad of a person? I guess the truth hurts because I must’ve been for not one single person to show up.
We were all back in the room of mirrors. A couple of my friends said how cool their mirrors were. They hope their lives turn out like that. I didn’t have anything to say. This time the first mirror, the normal mirror, opened and we walked through. A couple turns and a few distorted mirrors later we were at the exit.
“Hey boys, how’d you like it? Did you like what you saw?” said the carny. “The mirrors don’t lie boys. If you didn’t like what you saw, you still have time to do something about it.” That was when he looked at me again and winked and gave me something. I was too terrified to look at it so I stuck it in my pocket and left. He turned around and started shouting , “step right up boys and girls, come on in, only a dollar and it will change your life.”
I forgot about what he gave me until I got home and undressed. It fell out of my pocket. A small bible with a note inside. Read this if you want to change your life. Read this if you didn’t like what you saw in the mirrors. It is your choice.
Monster by Skillet –
All Of Me by Meatloaf –
Ain’t Much Left Of Me by Blackberry Smoke –
These Things I Hate (Revolves Around Me) by Bullet For My Valentine –
I have been in the house many times since the first time. The first time was when I was eight years old. I was being teased, called a chicken, and all those things kids say to each other. Triple dog dare. You can’t turn down a triple dog dare. It was the first time I opened the door. I only looked inside for a second but that was enough. The door had been opened and my future was doomed.
I soon started visiting the house more than I would like to admit. Always by myself of course. I couldn’t let my friends know what I was doing. Each time I went in I would find a new room to explore. It was fascinating at first. All these new things I was finding meant I was also learning more about myself. I thought I was being brave. Anytime something would happen to me I would run to the solitude of the house. Only in the day time though. Never at night.
At night you could always find me in my own house. Safe, warm and comfortable. My parents loved me and I felt safe in my house. Of course you could say as many times as I was visiting the so-called haunted house that it became my home away from home. My place to go to be alone and collect my thoughts. Leave some of my thoughts there. Come out a new person, but I left a part of me in that house each time I went.
It wasn’t long before I was sneaking out of my home and going to my haunted house at night. I couldn’t help it. I loved being the only one there. The only one that knew I was spending so much time there was me. I loved that sometimes when I went there would be a new room or two to explore. I never questioned how they got there. Part of the mystery of a haunted house I thought.
I started to withdraw from my friends so I could spend more time there. I could explore my house for hours on end, always something new but I could also go back and remember. Remember the who, what, why, where and when of the first time I opened this door or that door. Remember when I was so scared I slammed that door closed, only to peek back in a few weeks later. No door was ever sealed shut. I could visit anytime I would visit the house.
The problem came when I couldn’t resist the house anymore. It just kept luring me in. Like it was calling out to me. Come on in, it is safe here. You don’t need anyone else. Just you and your thoughts, that’s all you need. No one will hurt you in here.
Comfort. I found comfort in that house. I should’ve bought the place and moved in. Saved me from going there all the time. It was on one of these trips that I met someone. A man like I had never met before. He told me to stop going to the haunted house. There is nothing there for me. How did he know was my first thought? My second thought was who cares who he is. This was my world and my house and he was just an intruder. Another person out to get me.
A couple days later I was going back to the house and there he was. Sitting on the front steps. The same steps I first went up when I was eight, except they didn’t look so scary anymore. They almost looked warm and inviting. Anyway, back to my guest. There he was. “How did you get here,” I asked. “I’ve been watching you for years,” he said. What kind of person is this? I then bluntly told him to leave. He wasn’t welcome here. He told me he couldn’t do that. He was here to help me leave this place, leave it for good.
No way. This is my place. My home. He had no right to ask me to leave it.
But he got me thinking. In my experience, that is never a good thing. I would rather just go to my house and leave my thoughts in one of the rooms.
I walked on by him and he got up and followed me in. “Look at your prison,” he said. “My prison? This is my house,” I corrected him. “No”, he said, “I have a much better house for you. Want to see it?”
“Not really sure,” I said, “I like this place.”
“Here take my hand and I will show you,” he said. I don’t know why but I reached out for his hand and….all the doors opened. All the doors in my house flew open and everything that was in them came pouring out.
I screamed, “let me go!!” I pulled my hand away and ran. This wasn’t my house. How did all these things get in here? Why was he letting them all out? I tried to shut the doors but they would not close. I fell to my knees and let them overtake me. But they didn’t touch me. They all poured into him. He took them all. All my good and all my bad. All my pretty and all my ugly. They all poured into him.
I watched, mesmerized. It seemed like it lasted for hours but it couldn’t have been more than a few seconds. How could I let all this stuff in my house? I watched as everything flew out. Things I forgot I put in the rooms. Things that kept me a prisoner in my house. Fear, lots of rooms full of fear. Anxiety, worry, hurt all leaving my house. Negative thoughts and lies I believed to numb the pain all gone. Depression, shame, guilt- all gone. Anger and hate, see you later. Regrets, doubts about who I am, lies, distrust, unforgiveness, all gone.
You might ask what was left but you already know. Love was left. A love that told me I didn’t need to live in this house. A love that told me I was forgiven. A love that showed me who I am. A love that told me to unlock those doors and throw away the key. A love that told me my house isn’t haunted. A love that told me I could’ve left that house anytime I wanted. A love that told me I never had to build that house.