February 14th 2012 8:36 am
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Meet Cupid's Helpers, Truly Angels on Earth.
The outgoing coordinator for Loveland's valentine re-mailing program shares the history of this romantic endeavor.
By Duane Kaye, Loveland, Colorado
Hopeless romantic. That’s me all right. And who wouldn’t be, with a wife like mine? I guess Jeanette and I truly do belong in the romance capital of the world, Loveland, Colorado. When we moved here 22 years ago, we didn’t know much about this beautiful little town nestled in the mountains, where folks smiled and said hello when you passed them on the street.
I landed a postal worker position and got to know my new neighbors by name. But I had a surprise in store. I was working as a window clerk my first February on the job, and I’d just weighed a stack of letters when I heard laughter coming from the back room. A party? I wondered. On my break I checked it out. There in the back I found a small army of senior citizens. They sat on either side of a long folding table and appeared to be opening and stamping mail. “What’s going on?” I asked.
“We’re valentine volunteers,” one of the men explained. He held up an envelope. It was a valentine card from Seattle going to an address in Wisconsin. “We get cards from all over the world—more than a hundred countries,” the man said. “People send them here so we can hand-stamp them with a valentine message from right here in Sweetheart City.”
A lady beside him held up a pink envelope she’d just stamped. “Wouldn’t you want to get a valentine with our official postmark?” she said. The bright blue stamp included a four-line love poem.
Another lady at the end of the table had a stack of cards she was addressing with a calligraphy pen. “These envelopes arrived damaged,” she said. “So I’m replacing them!”
I stared at the stack of red, pink and white envelopes currently being sorted by a man in red heart suspenders. I’d never seen such an operation. “How many of these do you send out every year?” I asked.
“Over two hundred thousand,” the woman said proudly. “Not bad for only fifty volunteers doing two weeks’ work, huh?”
Not bad? Santa’s elves didn’t work so hard for Christmas!
“Does your special someone deserve a valentine this year?” one of the volunteers asked with a wink.
On Valentine’s Day Jeanette received a big pink envelope in the mail with our special stamp. Funny thing was, so did I! “How did you manage to send this without me seeing it at the post office?” I said.
“I have my ways,” said Jeanette.
I looked forward to the valentine program every year. When I heard the re-mailing coordinator was retiring I jumped at the chance to take the job myself.
“It’s not just fun and romance for two weeks,” he explained. “We hold a contest to pick the design for the official valentine, and the poem that goes on the stamp has to be approved by the Feds. The process begins in November.”
It was a lot of extra work, but I enjoyed every minute. Artists from across the nation submitted designs for the postmark and cachet. One morning as I left for work Jeanette presented me with a piece of paper. It was a computer generated drawing of two swans facing each other. Their necks created a heart. “It’s my entry to the contest,” she said shyly. “Don’t worry, I know you don’t get to pick the winner.”
With so many brilliant entries coming in I was relieved not to have a say in the outcome. The committee chairman came to the office to show me which one they’d picked: Jeanette’s swans!
I thought I was a hopeless romantic before. Now I felt like Cupid’s personal assistant, or like an angel delivering these messages of love. “Make sure this card reaches my fiancée on February fourteenth,” read a note with one 2.3 foot envelope. “I’m asking her to marry me on Valen-tine’s Day. The proposal is inside!”
Rain, sleet or snow...you can believe we delivered that card on Valentine’s Day! If she didn’t say yes, well, the young man can’t hold Loveland Post Office responsible.
Sometimes the folks sending letters became pen pals. Like the woman in Italy who stamped her card for her husband with beautiful Italian stamps. “Your stamps of the Italian countryside are breathtaking,” I wrote to her. “Unfortunately they are not valid in the US.” A few days later the woman wrote me back, enclosing Italian stamps just for me.
Another lady sent a shoebox filled with 50 knitted hearts—one for every volunteer. Eleanor in
Florida sent a brown paper package of flavored coffee, creamers and chocolates.
The whole town in Loveland gets into the romantic spirit. Local restaurants treat the volunteers to free lunch. Jeanette baked us valentine cakes with white drizzled frosting. There’s a community dance, sweetheart night at the library, the crowning of Miss Valentine. Personal messages on oversized hearts decorate the town. The one in front of the post office always reads the same: DUANE LOVES JEANETTE.
This year I plan to retire from the post office. Jeanette and I are going to take a second honeymoon, traveling around the country. But as much as I look forward to spending time with my sweetheart, I’ll miss delivering all those messages of love. I’m already planning to volunteer next year. Once you’ve worked as an angel, it’s hard to stop.
* * * * *
Loveland, Colorado, “Sweetheart City,” started its valentine re-mailing program in 1947. To receive the Loveland valentine cachet, enclose pre-addressed cards affixed with the proper postage in a larger envelope and mail first class to: Postmaster, Valentine Re-mailing, 446 East 29th Street, Loveland, Colorado, 80538. Cards for destinations in Colorado should be in Loveland by February 11. For US destinations outside Colorado, February 7. For international destinations, February 3.
February 15th 2012 9:03 pm
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When you've trusted Jesus and walked his way
When you've felt his hand lead you day by day
But your steps now take you another way,
When you've made your plans and they've gone awry
When you've tried your best and there's no more try
When you've failed yourself and you don't know why,
When you've told your friends what you plan to do
When you've trusted them and they didn't come through
And now you're all alone and it's up to you,
When you've failed your kids and they're grown and gone
When you've done your best but it's turned out wrong
And now your grandchildren have come along,
When you've prayed to God so you'll know his will
When you've prayed and prayed and you don't know still
When you want to stop cause you've had your fill,
When you think you're finished and want to quit
When you've bottomed out in life's deepest pit
When you've tried and tried to get out of it,
When the year has been long and successes few
When December comes and you're feeling blue
God gives a January just for you,
Starting over means "Victories Won"
Starting over means "A Race Well Run"
Starting over means "The Lords' Will Done"
We need not just sit there ... START OVER.
February 19th 2012 9:15 am
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" I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there".
2 Chronicles 7:16 (NIV)
loving others can be a hard thing because it involves risk. It means extending our hand with risk of it being slapped away. It means opening ourselves up to the risk of being hurt by a person who doesn't reciprocate our love.
Yet Jesus asks us to love other people as we love ourselves. That's a lot of love, because we're programmed for survival and self -preservation.
But Jesus Himself was an example of loving despite risk.He loved Judas,whom He knew would betray Him. He loved Peter, who denied Him three times.
We don't often think of God the Father as loving with risk, but He did.
When Solomon built the temple, God promised that His eyes and His heart would be there. That meant He would see the people who sacificed to Him and prayed to Him. That meant He would feel the hurt of their unfaithfulness.
I think He felt it when invaders raided and looted His temple---after all, wouldn't you feel upset if someone raided and looted yout house? And He felt it when the temple was burned to the ground, because He had set His heart there, to love His people. He brought them out of Egypt because He chose them to be His people. He chose to love them, just like Jesus chose to love us.
Look again at the familar verse about loving others. Yes, it might involve risk and hurt , but Jesus thought the risk was worth it. God thought the hurt was worth it. If you're fearful, that's okay---bring it before Jesus and ask Him to help you to love others the way He loved us. Despite the risk of hurt.
March 1st 2012 6:54 am
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Is Jesus Worth Dying For?
This story will give you chills and is one of the most inspiring and moving we've ever shared. Please read it all.
As Cassie entered the ninth grade, her mom Misty just "had that gut feeling that something was wrong. I couldn't pinpoint it, but I just knew something was wrong. I didn't feel like either I nor my husband had any connection with her."
Desperate for answers, Misty began to search Cassie's room regularly, and on one occasion was shocked to discover evidence that her daughter had developed an interest in witchcraft, drugs and alcohol. Facing the trauma of how to deal with their troubled teen, Cassie's parents decided that the only way to stop their daughter from making more bad decisions was to make a few good choices for her.
So, they began making changes. For starters, they transferred Cassie to a new school-Columbine High School, in suburban Littleton, Colorado. They also kept closer tabs on her friends, her attitudes, and her study habits. In general, they put their foot down, and said, "Cassie, it stops here. You must now choose to take responsibility for your life."
Cassie began to respond - positively...new friends, new attitudes. One of the new friends was Dave McPherson, youth pastor at West Bowles Community Church. McPherson admitted to the Denver Post that, when he first saw Cassie, he thought to himself, "There's no hope for that girl. Not our kind of hope." The joyless look on her face, the monosyllabic speech which came from her lips -- all of it suggested that perhaps Cassie was just "too far gone."
One weekend, though, McPherson encouraged Cassie to accompany the church youth on retreat, and, with her parents' enthusiastic permission, she agreed. That weekend which changed Cassie's life. Said Brad, her father, "When she left, she was this gloomy, head-down, say-nothing youth. When she came back, her eyes were open and bright and she was bouncy and just excited about what had happened to her and was just so excited to tell us. It was like she was in a dark room, and somebody turned the light on, and she saw the beauty that was surrounding her." Said Misty, "She looked at me in the eye and she said, "Mom, I've changed. I've totally changed. I know you're not going to believe it, but I'll prove it to you.'"
The "light" that had been turned on in 17-year-old Cassie's life was the light of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom she had trusted as her personal Lord and Savior at that church retreat. Jesus changed Cassie-from the inside out. A deep-down, 100-percent kind of transformation, like Paul spoke of in Romans 12:2 when he exhorted us, "be transformed by the renewing of your minds!" Gone was the preoccupation with the occult; instead, Cassie began to spend her spare time, along with her new Christian friends, ministering at Denver's inner-city Victoria Outreach Church, serving dinner to prostitutes and drug addicts as part of that church's mission ministry. Cassie even planned to cut off her cornsilk-colored hair that hung halfway down her back, so that it could be given to "someone who makes wigs for kids who are going through chemotherepy," according to her aunt, Kayleen.
One night, Cassie spoke of her newfound hope for the future with her mom. She said, "Mom, it would be OK if I died. I'd be in a better place, and you know where I'd be." The same girl who, just a couple years before, had been spinning on the edge, in danger of falling into hopelessness. Jesus change her-she was living life sacrificially in Jesus' name, and she was ready to die as a child of the Lord Jesus.
On Sunday night, April 18, Cassie stood up and gave her testimony to her youth group at church. She told them, "You really can't live without Christ. It's, like, impossible to really have a really true life without Him." Cassie was ready. With her life-and with death, if necessary.
Two days after that, Cassie was sitting in the library of Columbine High School when Eric Harris and Dylan Kelbold burst in with homemade pipe-bombs and guns. They knew who she was; she'd made no secret of her newfound faith.
The Bible stacked on top of her textbooks, along with the WWJD ("What Would Jesus Do?") bracelet around her wrist, clearly marked Cassie as one of the "Christians" of Columbine High.
"Do you believe in God?" was the question which was posed to her by that young member of the self-proclaimed "Trenchcoat Mofia." Her friend, Keven Koeniger, later said that Cassie paused for a long moment. He said, "I think she knew she was going to die."
Finally, the response came: "Yes, I believe in God." The trigger was pulled.
You think the question, "Are you ready to die for Jesus?" isn't an urgent one? Just ask Cassie Bernall. Ask her parents. Misty and Brad said, "We looked at each other and we said, 'Would I have done that? I would have begged for my life!' She didn't.
Cassie Bernall's brother Chris found this poem on her desk. It was the last poem she wrote before she died.
"Now I have given up on everything else.
I have found it to be the only way
To really know Christ
And to experience the Mighty power
That brought Him back to life again
And to find out what it means
to suffer and die with Him.
So, whatever it takes
I will be one who lives
In the fresh newness of life
Of those who are alive from the dead"
Is your Jesus worth dying for?
March 12th 2012 7:36 am
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"Before you assume, learn the facts. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think."
Many of us choose not experience many things in life because of all of our pre-judgments that usually never have much of a basis or foundation to stand upon. Instead of just assuming we have to be willing to learn the facts. Instead of just judging we have to be willing to understand why and what a person may have acted in the manner they acted or why something is the way it is, there may very well be a valid reason for things we disapprove of and dont understand.
We must make conscious efforts not to hurt anyone, especially those who we seem to reciprocate the same kinds of feelings with, because at any point someone could easily hurt us just the same.
Before we speak we have to be willing to think about all of the things that we are going to say and how it may affect everything around us when we speak words into existence, because words are very powerful.
March 13th 2012 7:20 am
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The Christian Alphabet
We really like this one :)
A lthough things are not perfect
B ecause of trial or pain
C ontinue in thanksgiving
D o not begin to blame.
E ven when the times are hard
F ierce winds are bound to blow
G od is forever able
H old on to what you know.
I magine life without His love
J oy would cease to be
K eep thanking
H im for all the things
L ove imparts to thee.
M ove out of "Camp Complaining"
N o weapon that is known
O n earth can yield the power
P raise can do alone.
Q uit looking at the future
R edeem the time at hand
S tart every day with worship
T o "thank" is a command.
U ntil we see Him coming
V ictorious in the sky
W e'll run the race with gratitude
eX alting God most high.
Y es, there will be good times and yes some will be bad, but
Z ion waits in glory, where none are ever sad!
March 14th 2012 5:57 am
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The Stone Cutter
This story will really make you think about where you are in life and where you wish you were. Maybe where you are right now is exactly where you're meant to be.
There was once a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.
One day he passed a wealthy merchant's house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stone cutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant.
To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!"
Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!"
Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!"
Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the wind!"
Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it - a huge, towering rock. "How powerful that rock is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a rock!"
Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the rock?" he thought.
He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone cutter.
March 14th 2012 6:36 am
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Letting Go of the Familiar
But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.—Genesis 19:26
Letting go of the familiar is tough. Changing careers or colleges or moving to a new city can take an emotional toll on us. It’s even more difficult to leave behind old habits, attitudes and behaviors.
Lot’s wife wasn’t able to let go of her home in Sodom, even though God sent angels to warn her family to run for their lives because judgment was coming. In fact, the angels’ warnings included such grave commands as “Don’t look back” and “Don’t stop.”
Why in the world did this woman choose to stop and look back? Could it be that she loved the life she was leaving too much? Though Sodom was full to overflowing with sin and vice, apparently the dark and oppressive city was comfortably familiar to Lot’s wife.â€¨
It is difficult to leave the familiar behind. That fact is as true today as it was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction—even when God himself is saying, “It’s time to move on.” If you’ve ever struggled with a destructive habit, you’ve felt the pull of the familiar—even as you’ve sensed God’s nudge, “Move on now.” You’ve experienced the temptation to turn back just one more time, for one last look, one last taste, one last “fix”—even as God has whispered, “Don’t look back.” Maybe you’ve agonized over a loved one’s downward spiral, desperately attempting to rescue them time and time again—until finally God impressed upon you, “Stop. Let go.”
Unlike Lot’s wife, none of us has ever become a pillar of salt by turning back for one last peek. Yet we all struggle with the difficulties of letting go of the old in order to grasp the new. Take heart. God understands that letting go of the familiar is hard. Yet he has called us to move on to new life in Jesus Christ by letting go of our old worldly lives, our old habits, our old dreams—to boldly move forward without looking back. When you feel God’s call to move, allow him to guide you. He will give you the grace to do whatever he has asked.
What does the passage in today’s reading teach you about letting go in order to move forward?
Why is it so difficult sometimes to let go of the past?
What is one thing you think God may be asking you to let go of right now? Spend some time praying that God will help you let go of whatever is hindering you from moving forward in your spiritual journey.
March 17th 2012 9:06 am
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Who Is St. Patrick?
Today is March 17, St. Patrick's Day.
Most of us know of St. Patrick's Day but most don't know exactly
who St. Patrick was and what he did (other than he was a saint).
Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the early fourth century
into a wealthy family. Yes, Britain was conquered by the Roman
Empire at one point, thus Roman Britain but that's another
At the age of 16 Patrick was taken captive by Irish raiders and
taken to Ireland as a slave. He was told by God to flee his
captivity to the coast where he would board a ship and return to
Britain. Upon his return to Britain he studied to become a
In 432 God called Patrick back to Ireland though this time he
was a bishop. Patrick was instrumental in introducing
Christianity to Ireland. You can read the full story here:
B orn into wealth, taken as a slave, escaping and then told to go
back to help the people who enslaved him is not an easy path.
But his help changed his captor's world and future.
Someone has hurt you and/or cost you dearly in possessions.
You've escaped and yet the seeds of their trespass has produced
bitter fruit in their lives. Perhaps now they need your help.
Sometimes to make that journey back takes a saint.
We can all learn a lot from St. Patrick.
March 18th 2012 7:38 am
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“ Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. ”
Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
I've never had a lot of exposure to classical music, and I tend to listen to it without much appreciation. But I read a true story about a composer the other day that made me sit up and take notice.
Johann Sebastian Bach wrote each note as though God Himself was scrutinizing every musical bar and phrase. One of his most acclaimed works is The Passion According to St. Matthew, which has been called one of the greatest choral works ever written. Now here's what really got my attention: The Passion was performed only once while Bach was alive and wasn't all that well received. Just one performance. One.
Then a hundred years later, in 1829, Felix Mendelssohn obtained a copy from his teacher, who allegedly bought the original score from a merchant who was using it to wrap cheese. Mendelssohn's performance of the score was met with an appreciation and love that has never ebbed. This story certainly has God's fingerprints all over it.
What struck me particularly in the article, though, was this: At the beginning of almost all of his compositions, Bach wrote the abbreviation JJ for the Latin phrase Jesu juva, which means "Jesus help," and ended with SDG (Soli Deo Gloria), which is Latin for "To God Alone the Glory." This is just the reminder I need as I forge ahead in my life. All I do, every word I write, every action I take, everything belongs to God. To Him be the glory, always and forever.
Father, to You be the glory in all that I say and do.
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