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Holiday Memories: Shouldering the Cross at Christmas by Ellen Chaksil

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

Shouldering the Cross at Christmas
by Ellen Chaksil

With the approach of Christmas, I confided a terrible, heartbreaking suspicion to my cousin, Ann. My son David had been staying with me temporarily, and he was planning to once more get an apartment of his own. I had undertaken the chore of helping clear out some of his things. In the process of doing so, I had come across an abundance of pills in one of his bureau drawers. Since it was not the first time I had found them, I really became alarmed, thinking, Could he possibly be addicted to those pills?

“Oh, come on!” Ann interrupted. “I don’t think so. You did say they’re prescription drugs. Maybe that old football injury is kicking up. Then, too, he’s had a few minor accidents since then, so he might need them for pain.”

After a bit more discussion, I was ashamed of myself for having shared that ugly suspicion with Ann. When she got up to leave, I felt even worse that I had burdened her, for I could see that she was becoming more and more incapacitated by her rheumatoid arthritis, yet I marveled at how she almost never complained or made reference to her pain.

After Ann left, I prayed, asking the Lord to give her the strength she needed to cope; especially with the Christmas season upon us, there was so much to do. I also petitioned the Lord, asking Him to protect David. I so hoped Ann was right in her assessment, that he couldn’t be addicted to those pain pills, yet I had my doubts, as for some time I had known that all was not right in his life.

During the Christmas holidays, I invited Ann to dinner. When we finished eating, we retired to the living room and sat before the blazing fire in the fireplace. At first its warmth and charm failed to alter her sad mood. With folded arms, appearing totally dejected, she stared down at her misshapen feet and sounded even unhappier, saying, “Ellen, thanks for inviting me over; if you hadn’t called I would probably be lying down, hoping I could fall asleep. It seems that’s all I want to do anymore.”

In an effort to change her mood, I responded, “Ann, please don’t talk that way; God had given you a beautiful family and they desperately need you.”

“Oh, come on, Ellen,” she answered, releasing a well of tears. “Just take a good look at me.” Almost inaudibly she added, “Sometimes, even though I know better, I feel God doesn’t even exist. Or if He does, He has forgotten all about me.”

Hearing her, I began to understand her quiet demeanor; she had kept all that pain buried within herself.

I responded immediately. “Ann, I know how drastically your life has changed because of this illness, but you can’t just give up on life or on God. With and in Him you can find the peace and comfort you need to carry on.” A shiver of determination went through my body as I reached for my Bible. “You may not be up to it right now,” I said. “But let’s see if the Lord has a Word for us, one to lift us up.”

She gave no sign of either objection or agreement, so I simply went ahead and randomly opened the Bible. My eyes fell upon Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 16; in briefly scanning it, I considered it a most appropriate passage for us in that moment in time.

Before I began reading, I silently thanked God, knowing the scripture had opened to that exact page only through the guidance of His Holy Spirit:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of Mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow Me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lost it; but anyone who loses his life for My sake will find it. What then will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life?”

Reading from the accompanying reference notes, I added, “Ann, here we read that the word ‘life’ means the life of our soul as well as that of our person. Jesus is telling us that even if we possess the entire world, we are not able to buy an extra second of life on Earth. And that’s okay, because what we must be concerned about is the life of our soul, our spirit, because it lives on after physical death. And we cannot risk the loss of our soul by turning away from God.”

“In that Scripture reading, Jesus is telling us to accept our burden, to carry our cross, whatever it might be. He did, after all, lay out the pattern for us; we need only follow in His Way and we will find the strength we need to persevere.”

I could see the tears running down Ann’s cheeks and I handed her a tissue to dry her eyes. I also needed one for myself. It grieved me to see my beloved cousin suffering so much. After a few moments had passed, I said, “Ann, I know it’s difficult to accept this hope-filled message, especially when you are suffering as much as you are, but remember Jesus promised that when we accept and carry our cross, it will be lightened. C’mon, what do you say? Let’s continue getting together to pray, read, and learn about the Way He offers.”

I was so pleased when I saw her nod her head in agreement.

In the following months, I was even happier as I watched an almost miraculous change take place in Ann. While her physical condition continued to worsen, she no longer appeared to be depressed. Once again we could see her beautiful dimples, because she smiled more often.

ELLEN CHAKSIL (pen name for Helen Silvestri) is the author of “With God There Is Hope: Hope for Humanity.” She is a member of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Charismatic Prayer Group in Scranton, Pa. She began receiving messages from God in 1978. She needed to share what she experienced with church officials. Her quest led her from her home in Northeast Pennsylvania to the Vatican. After numerous attempts, she was able to make contact. In 1992, she met Pope John Paul II and in 1996 she received official recognition that he had read her letter detailing the prophecy she received from God. Ellen also contacted Boguslaw Lipinski, Ph.D of Harvard Medical School. He provided hypothetical proof of the concept that when people gather to pray, energy is emitted. Now Ellen’s goal is to help unite the world in prayer to generate the power great enough to forestall catastrophe and enable humanity’s continued existence. She hopes her book will be an instrument to raise awareness of the power of prayer.

Visit Ellen’s blog at: catholiccharismaticprophecies.blogspot.com
Visit Ellen’s Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000344651305&ref=name


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Holiday Memories: My Revlon Doll – The Most Beautiful Doll in the World by Gale Laure

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

My Revlon Doll – The Most Beautiful Doll in the World
by Gale Laure

Shoulder-length blond hair . . . deep-set blue eyes . . . pink lips . . . peachy skin . . . shapely legs . . . dangling diamond earrings . . . polished fingernails and toenails . . . and yes, she had boobs! Her dress was a rose-colored brocade with net on the neckline – the see-through kind -with a net sash that tied in the back. Her shoes were black velvet heels.

Before she was mine, I named her Connie. I saw her at Fred Miller’s store when I was a child of about five. It was love at first sight. She was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen. While my mother shopped in the store, I stood and stared at her. I could not take my eyes off her. She had the most perfect, angelic face. Her makeup was perfect. Of course, it should have been. She was a Revlon doll, a special doll, one of Ideal’s Revlon Dolls. It was as if she were looking at me. She was on a wire stand, holding her straight and tall inside an oversized open-faced box. My mother had to pull me away from her when it came time to go. I wanted her with all my heart.

Each week I would go with one of my parents to see her. She seemed to call to me with the imaginative voice of a five-year-old. She was high upon the shelf so I could not touch her or hold her – my perfect, beautiful doll.

The days counted down and Christmas was in the air. My sister and I always made a Christmas list on adding machine paper. I liked having a long roll to write on. At the top of my list was my beautiful doll, Connie.

Christmas morning arrived. Santa always left our Christmas gifts in our formal living room rather than the den. When I walked into the room, the sofa and chairs were covered in toys. I searched for Connie. There she sat in her box upon the cushion of the couch. I beamed. My father helped me pull her off her stand and out of the open-faced box. My hands were shaking and my heart was beating so fast. I took her in my arms. She was heavier than I had thought. Her plastic was solid. My father put Christmas music on the stereo. My father danced with my sister. My mother sat on the couch smiling. I danced with the most beautiful doll in the world – my Connie.

After that day for years when I played with my sister and friends, we always had beauty contests for our dolls. My beautiful Connie stood in line next to the other dolls. She was so beautiful, much more beautiful than any of the other dolls. In my creative five-year-old mind, Connie would smile at me with an assurance that she would win the contest. She always did.

While doing some research for this article, I found my beautiful Revlon doll. What a surprise! Connie is a special collectible doll!

During the writing of this article I realized something. Connie had dark blond hair and beautiful blue eyes just like my mother in my youth. Connie’s shapely legs, pink lips and peachy skin were my mother’s. The beautiful doll that captured my heart all those years ago was my mother. I had never realized that she was so beautiful because she was my mother.

I still have Connie today. She is sitting beside me as I write this article. Her dress has long since worn out. Her beautiful Revlon makeup – as I believed it was – has faded with time. The beautiful shoulder-length blond hairdo is mussed. The beautiful diamond earrings are not as bright. But when I look at her she is still the most beautiful doll in the world to me.

Whether I am five or ninety, she will always hold a special place in my heart, my beautiful Revlon doll – Connie.

Gale Laure, a native Texan, is the international selling author of Evolution of a Sad Woman, a mystery, suspense, thriller and romance novel .   She resides in a small suburban town in the Houston area with her husband and family.  Laure’s hobbies include genealogical research, movies, creating stories for the children around her, involvement in her church and people watching. She is busy at work editing her second novel, The Bunkhouse, and writing the sequel to Evolution of a Sad Woman. It is entitled Alana – Evolution of a Woman.  As mysterious as her book, Laure writes under a pseudonym.  Adamant about maintaining her privacy and the privacy of her family, she keeps her identity a mystery!

For more information about Gale Laure or her novel, Evolution of a Sad Woman,  visit www.galelaure.com or her blog  www.evolutionofasadwoman


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Holiday Memories: The Night I Woke Up to Saint Nick by Stephen V. Masse

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

The Night I Woke Up to Saint Nick
by Stephen V. Masse

Our family tradition was to arrange the manger scene beneath the live Christmas tree in our living room. My mother had won the manger, and all the figurines were made of white marble, with a shimmering bisque finish. When we set up the manger, my mother would always put the baby Jesus figurine on the mantel, because he was not to be born until Christmas. It was Santa’s privilege to put Jesus in the manger.

I turned ten one week before Christmas. I could still taste the spicy ribbon candy that left our hands sticky, feel the pine against my face as I joined my four siblings in decorating the tree and setting up the manger. My father cut branches to reshape the tree, and the extras ended up in a crackling fire.

Christmas Eve in our family was a feast as close to heaven as one can find on earth, and I wish that every soul could experience something like it. Music from every corner of the world, from Italy to England, Russia, Spain and beyond! Our version of the traditional Italian fish feast began with stuffed calamari in a light tomato sauce over capellini pasta, then fried shrimp, smelts and eels that my father cooked diligently in olive oil, sampling with his glass of wine. Mom tended the oven, crammed with baked-stuffed shrimp, stuffed escarole, stuffed artichokes, and roasted chestnuts, all while fielding phone calls and directing traffic to and from the dining room.

In those days, our Jewish neighbors would drop in, and we would share stories and food, and they would give each of us kids an envelope. Mrs. LeBovidge had the most wonderful Austrian accent. She grew up in Vienna, and told us that her father used to get a tree during the holidays because he enjoyed the tradition. She said that during Hitler’s rise to power, troopers came to inspect the building. The non-Jewish neighbors took her and other Jewish children into their homes to protect them. But in the end, she and her sister had to flee. It reminded me of Joseph and Mary fleeing into Egypt to escape Herod.

After dinner we retired with dessert to the living room, fire blazing, Mom at the old upright piano as we sang Christmas carols and hung our stockings on the mantel.

Then, bedtime!

I woke up in the middle of the night to hear footsteps on the carpeted living room floor. My heart was pounding, mostly with the realization that for the first time in my whole childhood, I was wide awake while Santa Claus was in my house! There was no rustling of packages, only the footsteps.

I didn’t dare move, for respect of the Saint’s presence. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of the marble figurine of baby Jesus being drawn across the mantel. A few more footsteps, and then the sound of baby Jesus being placed in the wooden manger with Mary and Joseph, and with us.

Stephen V. Masse is author of A Jolly Good Fellow,  winner of a Silver Medal in the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards, as well as honorable mention in the 2008  New England Book Festival for best books of the holiday season.

Masse’s next book for children, Short Circus, is being released this winter.


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Holiday Memories: Why Was Jesus Born by Sophia White

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

Why Was Jesus Born?
by Sophia White

Our relationship with God is based in our acknowledgement of how Jesus was born to pay the ultimate price for our sins. I find the Holy Trinity (God, Jesus and Holy Spirit) as the spiritual basis for connecting the dots intellectually. God revealed His power to humanity through His son our Lord and Savior. After the Resurrection, Jesus left us a Comforter; the Holy Spirit empowered to guide us from the heavenly realm. Our existence is described in the Revelation of God’s plan unfolding.  We are taught that Jesus is the word made man and the definition of the word is communication with God.  Jesus is the man in which those words were given life. It is impossible to have a relationship with God without communication, and Jesus is the facilitator. When we pray to God, we pray in the name of Jesus since He is our representative.

When He sent His son to show us how things are and will be to come, humanity reacted as expected. God sacrificed His son to show us our natural state, which should lead to remorse and repentance. The basic nature of humanity is self preservation, the first law of nature. God wants us to repent of our ways by seeing that our nature rejected His son when He lived among us. His death was the ultimate sacrifice for believers. It is sad to know that human hands have the will to crucify our creator instead of embracing His teachings.

If you like this story, click on cover to purchase an even better story by Sophia White!

God has designed a path for believers to develop an ongoing relationship with Him that promises abundant life. We must first embrace ourselves to accept the truth about our nature. In short, humanity crucified of our Lord.  God showed us that our human behavior will naturally reject His word and in the end, we actually crucified God’s word in the form of Jesus with human hands. That act establishes acceptance of the need for humanity to reconcile with God. The ultimate sacrifice is that God sent His son to communicate with us in the flesh and establish a final covenant with those who truly want to know Him. The relationship between God and humanity existed from the beginning of time, and history documents the difficulties we have experienced over the years. Our only means of security is placing our trust in God driven by our heart.

Many ministers have isolated people because their message is unclear about the measurement of God versus the church.  Perhaps believers are facing tremendous social pressure, but no worldly relationship is worth disregarding the facts. We should reach out and teach non-believers a clearer understanding about Jesus.  It is important that we recognize the difficulty in seeing the Kingdom of God without first acknowledging the guidance provided by Jesus through matters of the heart.

To learn more, read “Jesus is for Everybody, Building a Personal Relationship with God”

Visit www.jesusisforeverybody.org.

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Holiday Memories: Take Two Sweet Tarts and Call Me in the Morning

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

Take Two Sweet Tarts and Call Me in the Morning
by David Berner

My father lies on his back in the middle of the carpeted living room, the twinkling colors of the Christmas tree lights reflecting off the lenses of his glasses and the shiny top of his bald head. His eyes are closed; he is motionless.

“I think we need to listen to his heart,” the doctor says, placing the cold rubber end of his over-sized lime green plastic stethoscope against my father’s chest just above the pocket of his white polyester shirt.

“Good idea, doctor,” says the second physician. “I’ll check his tonsils. Open wide,” he says, positioning the big blue wooden tongue depressor in front of my father’s lips, coaxing him to unlock them.

If you like this story, click on cover to purchase an even better story by David Berner!

Dad’s bigger-than-average-belly begins to shake, quivering in taut up and down motions. His chest follows, shuddering along with his shoulders. His lips shiver. Dad is struggling to suppress what would undoubtedly be an explosive laugh. It’s hard to keep a serious face when your doctors are performing emergency room procedures wearing red fleece pajamas with the feet in them.

“You must be still, Mr. Patient,” says Casey, sternly. Casey is the lead doctor in this case. My 8-year old son and his 6-year old brother Graham are a team of medical practitioners putting their freshly unwrapped presents to good use. Santa has delivered each of them the Little MD toy kit, including plastic jumbo syringes, rubber surgical scissors, and a doctor’s note pad for scribbling out prescriptions of Sweet Tarts and Life Savers.

“Mr. Patient, don’t laugh. We can’t operate if you giggle,” says Graham, now poking the tongue depressor at my father’s pursed lips determined to complete his examination even if force is necessary.

In the many years since that long-ago holiday medical emergency, I still see the waves of joy tumbling out my father’s body, still see the TV-doctor serious faces of my sons, and still believe the memories we make emanate from the littlest moments, especially ones created in a imaginary operating room on an early Christmas morning.

David W. Berner is an award-winning journalist, writer, documentarian, and teacher. His most recent book, Accidental Lessons—A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed, was published by AEG/Strategic in February, 2009. His essays and reporting have been published in numerous magazines and literary journals, and his broadcast work has been aired on National Public Radio, the CBS Radio Network, and public radio stations across the United States. David is an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago, teaching writing, audio documentary, and radio narrative. www.davidwberner.com, www.accidentallessons.com.

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