Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Thursday, December 27, 2012

An after-Christmas freebie

Click here to order the book
Katherine Ashe, a friend of mine from one of my favorite writers' groups, IAG--Independent Authors' Guild--is offering the first in her historical series on the Montfort at http://www.amazon.com on Dec. 29-30. The title of the first book is Montfort the Early Years, 1229-1243. As a reader, I love it when a historical novel is so real that you can't tell where reality ends and imagination takes over. As an author, I consider that one of my highest compliments.
Here is a list of the entire series:
Montfort the Early Years 1229 to 1243 (the free ebook)
Montfort The Viceroy 1243 to 1253
Montfort The Revolutionary 1253 to 1260
Montfort The Angel with the Sword 1260 to 1265

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Three Y's Guys

This was written several years ago for a church service in Grand Forks ND. I have resurrected it to read this year at the Christmas Eve service at Interfaith Bible Fellowship in Amberg, WI. That is one of my favorite services of the year. We have Christmas caroling, then a time where everybody can share their own special thoughts and talents. Some people share a reading (either original or one of their favorites), a musical number, memories of Christmases past, etc. It is almost like a talent show. So, I wanted to share this one with you, some of my favorite people--my friends, family, and readers. Merry Christmas to all of you.
By Janet Elaine Smith

The faded plastic angel perched high above the forest of cut trees. Deeply tucked inside was a matching creche, defying anyone to remove it. It had just survived a legal battle with the ACLU. It had a right to be there; the sign high above the building in the background declared “YMCA.” If a Young Men’s Christian Association couldn’t house the true symbol of Christmas, who could?

A smaller sign, hand printed, read “Y’s Men’s Christmas Trees: $20.00.” It was only ten days before Christmas and according to tradition, the price would be lowered a dollar a day from now on.

“Come on, guys!” the teenage boy shouted to his two buddies. “The coast is clear!”

They headed straight for the manger, not caring that they trampled the trees as they went.

“Come on, let’s take the baby and put him on the roof!”

Brian, the leader of the gang, tossed the little image to Mark, the youngest and smallest member of the group. “You’re the quickest,” Brian said. “The fire escape is out back. Go for it!”

Mark obediently ran to the back of the building and began to climb the ladder.

“Hey! Stop!” The cop seemed to come out of nowhere, but his blinding flashlight hit Mark square in the eyes, causing him to drop the baby Jesus to the ground.

Brian and Ricky ran—right smack dab into the cop’s partner!

“In a hurry?” he asked them, laughing. “Afraid you might miss Santa?”

“Ain’t no Santa!” Ricky said.

“And you ain’t no angel,” the cop said, still laughing. “Come on, boys. I think we better take a trip downtown. By the way, you guys got names?”

“Yeah,” Brian replied sarcastically. “We’re the three wise guys.” He tried hard to laugh, but Ricky and Mark didn’t join him in the joke.

The policemen helped the boys into the back seat of the squad car. They sat, silently, staring through the wire divider between them and the officers.

Brian rubbed his fingers against the palms of his hands. They had never been so sweaty. But, he had never been in this situation before. Oh, sure, he’d done plenty of things wrong. But this was different. This time he’d gotten caught.

“Okay, everybody out,” one of the cops said. He opened the door and poked Mark in the back, steering him toward the steps up to the police station.

At least they didn’t handcuff us, Mark thought. If anybody saw them…

Inside, an old gray haired policeman sat, gazing at them with daggers in his eyes.

“What’d you guys do?” he growled at them. They didn’t answer.

“Cat got your tongue?” he asked. “I said, what’d you do?”

“We stole the baby Jesus,” Ricky said, his hands shaking in front of him.

The policeman’s mouth dropped open. He sat, speechless, for several moments. “You stole the baby Jesus?” he repeated, shouting accusingly at them. “That’s the worst crime we’ve ever had!” He shook his head, clicked his tongue and reached for the phone.

“Judge Walker? It’s Joe, down at the station. I hate to get you out this late at night, but we’ve got three juvies down here I think you should take a look at.”

He listened while the boys glanced at each other. The image of a black-robed figure danced in their heads. It was not the Nutcracker Suite! In fact, it wasn’t sweet at all.

“They stole the baby Jesus,” the cop said.

The boys fidgeted. The old cop looked at them, shook his head again and said “He’s on his way.”

The judge, who looked more like Santa Claus than a scary legal character, studied the boys, his eyes moving from one to the other, then back again.

“Do you know what you have done?” he asked, his voice bellowing. Dead silence followed. “I asked you if you know what you’ve done?” he asked again, his voice even louder than before.

“We stole the baby Jesus,” Ricky said, not daring to look up.

“And what do you think God would think of that?” Judge Walker asked.

The boys had never given much thought to God, but this was a pretty good time to change that.

“And what about your parents?” the judge continued. “What will they say when I call them to come down here to get you?”

Brian’s face turned as white as new-fallen snow. If the thought of God scared them, the thought of his mother and father finding out what he had done was even worse. He didn’t know God, but he knew full well how his parents would react. He would be grounded for the rest of his life!

“I’m not going to lock you up,” Judge Walker said. “Instead, I want all three of you—together—to do one good deed for someone every day. You will have to report back to me in nine days—on Christmas eve. You have to have proof of what you have done.”

“Well, boys,” Judge Walker said, sitting behind his huge desk clad in his black robe. “How did you do?”

He did not seem at all surprised when they began to relate the acts they had completed during the last few days.

“We helped old Mrs. Green carry her groceries home the first day,” Ricky said.

“The second day we saw a little girl fall on the ice. There was a car coming right behind her,” Mark said.

“We got there just in time,” Brian said, a big smile on his face. “Boy, that was a close one!”

“The third day we shoveled the church sidewalks after it snowed,” Brian said. “Here, we got everybody to sign a note after we helped them.” He shoved a pile of little square papers onto the judge’s desk.

“The fourth day we took care of Mrs. Parson’s little boy while she took the new baby to the doctor,” Mark said.

“The fifth day we walked Mrs. Hunt’s cats. She broke her leg, so she couldn’t do it herself,” Mark said.

“Yeah! And she was so happy about it that she hired us to do it every day,” Ricky said.

“We didn’t think it would count if we got paid,” Brian said. “So the sixth day we walked the cat and then we went to school early so we could help our home room teacher.”

“The seventh day we went to the old folks’ home and visited a lot of the people,” Mark said. “I think they liked it.” He smiled as he said, “We only got ten of them to sign the notes.”

“The eighth day we went to the church and helped decorate it for the Christmas program,” Ricky said. “It looked real pretty.”

“Then we got to the ninth day,” Brian said. “We knew it was the last day we had to do something good, so we wanted to make it extra good.”

Judge Walker waited until they all started talking at once. “Hold on!” he said, banging his gavel on the desk. “One at a time or I don’t have a clue what you’re saying.”

“Go on,” Ricky and Mark said to Brian. “You’re the boss.”

“We took the money Mrs. Hunt had paid us and we bought one of the Christmas trees from the Y. You know, the “Y’s Guys trees.” He laughed. “See? I told the cop we were the three Wise Guys!”

“What did you do with the tree?” Judge Walker asked.

“We took it over to the juvenile center. One of the kids in school said they didn’t have one.”

“We didn’t get anything signed,” Ricky said. “We didn’t want them to know it was from us.”

“Now you know the real meaning of Christmas,” Judge Walker said. “It is not only giving, it is giving from the heart. Not because you have to, but because you want to. I’m proud of you, boys.”

“We asked the Y’s Guys—the other ones,” Brian said, “if we can help them down at the Y Center after school. He said they’d be glad to have us.”

“Yeah, they’re going to give us a membership so we can swim and everything!” Mark said.

“But we’ll be sure to leave the baby Jesus alone,” Ricky said. “I don’t think He needs our help.”

“I think He’s already got it,” the judge said, standing up and walking towards his chambers. “Oh, and Merry Christmas, boys!”

“Merry Christmas,” the boys said in unison.

As soon as the judge was out of sight, they looked at each other and nodded. Then, unseen, they took out a can of Lemon Scented Pledge and began to polish the judge’s desk.

If any of you would like to read this for your Christmas program, as long as you give me credit for it, please accept it as my Christmas gift to you.

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Sunday, December 09, 2012

Behind the scenes with Old Glory

A friend who spent most of his life as a fine member of our US military services in VietNam, Germany, and Korea (and possibly other places as well) recently sent me this explanation behind the meaning of the flags that drape the coffins of our military heroes. I have the one from Ivan's coffin, and it holds a special place in my heart and life. Ivan was extremely proud of his service in the Korean War, as well he should have been. Here is "the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey used to say.

The Meaning of the Flag-Draped Coffin. All Americans should be given this lesson. Those who think that America is an arrogant nation should really reconsider that thought. Our founding fathers used GOD's word and teachings to establish our Great Nation and I think it's high time Americans get re-educated about this Nation's history. Pass it along and be proud of the country we live in, and even more proud of those who serve to protect our 'GOD-GIVEN' rights and freedoms.I hope you take the time to read this ... To understand what the flag draped coffin really means
... Here is how to understand the flag that laid upon it and is surrendered to so many widows and widowers: Do you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776? Have you ever noticed that the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America Flag 13 times? You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!
The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.

The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.
The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.
The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.
The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, 'Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.'

The 6th fold is for where people's hearts lie. It is with their heart that they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America , and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic.
The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.
The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and mothers, For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he too has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their Nations motto, 'In God We Trust.' After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.
There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning. In the future, you'll see flags folded and now you will know why. Share this with the children you love and all others who love what is referred to as the symbol of ' Liberty and Freedom.'

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