November is a ‘thankful’ month for me … Thanksgiving comes near the end of the month and always presents the wonderful opportunity to enjoy time with the family. We hug each other; we laugh at each other; we eat too much together. It’s a great family get-together! But, of course, there’s more!!
On Thanksgiving Day, and from the comfort of my La-Z-Boy in front of my big screen TV, I can enjoy watching a pompous parade of overstuffed cartoon characters meandering down the streets of New York City, followed by one over-commercialized football game after another. Then, the next day, I can immerse myself into the insane Christmas shopping stream … racing from one department store to another, trying to time my entrance to get the best deal on some material item, spending way more money than I have or could possibly make in a year.
Or … I could humbly spend my time being thankful.
Today is Veterans Day. Yes, it’s a holiday … no mail, no banking. But, it’s more than that … it’s a kick-off of my ‘thankful’ season. There are men and women out there in the military, retired or active, who are bestowing me a monumental blessing of freedom … not just today … but every day.
They are risking their lives … for me. Many of them have already suffered wounds that will never heal … for me. Some have already lost limbs, vision, mobility; some have returned from duty to find their jobs replaced, their homes closed to them, or their family life, as they remember it, in tatters … for me. Others are serving in distant lands, far from anything that is familiar or comfortable to them. Their sleep may be shattered by noises they haven’t heard before; their days may be spent dealing with sandstorms or drenching rains or suspicious roadside travelers. They won’t be spending their holidays with loved ones this year; their Thanksgiving dinner may be served cold from a can and their TV may be non-existent. And, they may be crying out in pain or fear, only to ears that don’t hear. They may be doing all of this … all for me.
And, so, I think … what can I possibly do for these brave men and women to let them know just how thankful I am to them? I can remember what they have fought for and are continuing to stand for; I can pray for their safety because, without them, I wouldn’t be. I can honor them for their service and pay them the tribute they deserve. I can let them know I am proud of our United States soldiers and that I am proud of the United States of America. I can stand by them.
I am truly overwhelmingly humbly thankful for them … not just today, but every day. I pray that you will join me in saying ‘Thank you’ to all our military.
Here is a wonderful and fun fact on how M&Ms began their long and tasty journey:
In the 1930’s, during the Spanish Civil War, Forrest Mars St., son of the founder of the Mars Company, developed the idea for the M&M candies when he saw soldiers eating chocolate pellets with a hard shell of tempered chocolate surrounding the inside, preventing the candies from melting.
Ten years later, he struck a deal to produce his new candy with Hershey’s Bruce Murrie and this arrangement allowed the candies to be made with Hershey chocolate (the Hershey Company, at the time, had control of the rationed chocolate). The duo named the candy after their initials, gained a patent for the invention, and started distributing their candies, which were packed in cardboard tubes, to the soldiers during World War II.
In 1945, after the war ended, the M&M packaging changed to the wrappers we still see today, and the candies were introduced to the public. In 1949, the tagline ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hand’ was released by the company; in 1950, a black ‘M’ was imprinted on each candy and in 1954, the color was changed to white.
After all these years, it still remains one of the most popular chocolate candies in the US.
We’ve heard such wonderful testimonials this past month … we have to share!!
I just love these crosses! I feel God’s blessings every time I give one away. – Don, MN
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Thank you so very much for sending the crosses. We are placing them in zip lock bags along with candy for the children that may stop by on Halloween. It is our way of showing them that we do not celebrate evil, but we celebrate Christ. Thank you and God bless. – Moore Ministries, FL
(The tag on the zip lock bag reads: ‘Let’s not teach our children to celebrate evil and witchcraft.’)
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Yesterday, I delivered 200 of the Spanish crosses and 150 of the English crosses to the catholic church up the road; they have Spanish services at noon on Sunday. Hopefully, the congregation will be able to use the crosses in their ministry and/or share them with other locations. I will be assisting with the soup kitchen through Churches United for the Homeless and will have the crosses available there. Through the crosses, there was a lot of hope shared there the last time Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church assisted … big burley guys with Harley jackets and torn clothing had tears in their eyes. You never know what others have gone through, but we know Who brought them in that night. – Carla, MN
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My other profession is as a public school teacher and today, I received an email from a fellow teacher at a different school. This email began this way, “I am sorry I was so rude to year last year. I know I hurt you.” Now I had to think really hard about that as I just couldn’t remember her ever being rude to me. She went on to tell the story. Here is the short version:
About a hundred teachers were attending a teacher leadership conference at a nearby hotel and, while on a break, I was sitting, alone, at my table. Suddenly, a hand came stabbing in from over my shoulder and a finger was pointed at a cross I had laying on the tabletop, a Cross The World cross. She fairly loudly groaned and said, “Oh, you are one of those!” I was a bit startled by her remark because I didn’t know she was standing behind me. When I turned and smiled, I saw she was a bit upset … well, maybe not a bit … she was very upset. Then she said, “I guess you believe in that Jesus.” I said, “Oh yes, I do. Do you?” She spurted out a string of obscenities as she spun and stomped away.
I was too stunned to respond at first and then I believe the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart saying that young woman is hurting. I started to follow her across the large conference room we were in, and when I was about halfway, she saw me and pointed at me with a look on her face that told me not to come any closer. I held up my hands in surrender and turned back to my table. I was feeling sort of whipped; I wanted to go to her but I knew I wasn’t welcome. I prayed for that lady right then and I asked God to heal her broken heart. I forgot about the incident. I really didn’t think it was a big deal. I was, oh, so wrong!
In her email, she told of all the tribulation she had been going through. Her father and mother had both died earlier that year, she had her third miscarriage and the doctor told her she could never have children, her husband had left her because she was so mean to him, and she had just been diagnosed with cancer. Okay, that would be enough the break the heart of even the strongest person … I read on. She said she had slipped back into the conference room when we were on our next break and, finding no one at my table, she took the cross and snuck away. Because we were so busy the rest of the day, I didn’t notice that the cross was missing.
Late that night, all alone in the dark, she wept, holding that cross. These are the words she said she cried, “Oh God, if you are there, I need you.” She immediately felt the sorrow, and guilt, and grief, and pain lift from her. She went back to church that coming Sunday and gave her life to Christ. She said, “Thank you for the cross, but that I couldn’t have it back.” She has since learned that she is now a new creation, having been born again. By the way, she is now cancer free.
What is the power of the cross? Well…. – Pastor Stan – MN
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As the song goes, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time of sharing … and we want to help you help others share God’s love through the cross this season.
Please, if you are considering giving our crosses away through shoeboxes, Christmas bags, personal visits, mission work, etc., and you haven’t gotten your request for them to us yet, we’re asking that you do so as soon as you can. Please help us by giving us as much time as you can to make sure you receive your crosses when you need them. Thank you!!
We count our blessings for our Cross The World family; our crosses traveled here in October:
Community Lutheran Church – Bullhead City, AZ
Helen – ND
Open Door Community Church – Breezy Point, MN
SonRise Christian School – Bluffton, MN
Catherine – MN
Dodie – MN
Rodnes Lutheran Church – Erskine, MN
Carla – MN
Don – MN
Paradise and Hulbert United Methodist Church – Newberry, MI
Answer in Jesus Ministries – Ramsey, MN
Community Care ‘n Share Café – Emily, MN
Moore Ministries – Ruskin, FL
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church Ladies – Cohasset, MN
St. John the Evangelist Catholic School – Rochester, MN
New Life Church – Foley, MN
Restoration Book Store – Crosby, MN
Churches United for the Homeless – Moorhead, MN
Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church – Fargo, MN
Karen – MN