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A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 WINNERS HERE

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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby JMcCauley » Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:52 am

Just a Cup of Water

My thoughts kept going to, “What I really need is a cup of cold water.” Driving home from yet another weary day at work and too tired to stop anywhere, this thought would not go away and was beginning to annoy me. Up ahead I saw the familiar sign of a fast-food place and decided to go through drive-thru and get a cup of water. Pulling-up to the speaker, I ordered my water; nothing else, just my cup of water.

As I reached the window, there stood the server holding my greatly desired cup of water. “How much do I owe?” I asked, reaching for my wallet. The server looked at me a bit puzzled and replied: “Nothing. We just give water for free.” Reaching out and circling my fingers around the cool, paper cup that held what my parched throat needed, I replied: “Really? I’m willing to pay for this.” “No ma’am, that’s not necessary, he replied with a smile.” Thanking him, I drove off and gulped down one straw-full after another of cool, refreshing water.

This experience made me think of the simple needs of those around us and how easily we could help meet them. Something as simple as a cup of water, when so badly needed, brought me a sense of gratitude all because it was done in the spirit of giving. Giving and not expecting, demanding or requiring something in return. This restaurant knew that people need water and they are willing to give it freely, even if the customer doesn’t buy anything else.

As we head into this Christmas season, I wonder how many of us are thinking of “giving with ‘no strings’ attached?” Will our list be limited to only those we know? Or are we willing to step-out and meet the needs of those who so desperately need someone to be their “Angel of a drink of water?”

The Angel tree Ministry has been offering a way to help provide Christmas to the children of inmates for 30 years. Through this ministry over 1.7 million children have received the gift of joy, gratitude and love in action. Imagine what it must be like to have your parent in prison and your Christmas wish being: “To have a gift from my parent to show my friends at school.” Receiving a gift, with a note from their parent, provides so much more than an “object” to hold. It’s a confirmation that their parent is thinking of them … they do care about them. To help a child experience the affection of their parent, all it takes is a donation from people like you and me and a heart for meeting the needs of others.

The Angel Tree ministry, in connection with prison fellowship Ministry, offers real hope and joy for millions of children; not only at Christmas, but throughout the year with programs designed to meet the needs of a prisoner’s child. If we want to show God’s love to others, we need to be willing to be the one holding the cup of cold water and not asking for anything in return.

On my way home, I stopped and bought my “Angel Tree Child” gift for this year. An activity I have enjoyed doing for several years. This year though, it felt different. My heart was full of gratitude for the kind gesture shown to me and in a way, buying the gift for my “Angel Tree Child”, felt like a link in the chain of “paying it forward.” Will you join me and “pay it forward” to a child in your community?

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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby HeartSpeaks » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:38 am

By Nancy Dobbins

It was Christmas. My husband was in prison. I cried a lot. Haranguing thoughts constantly whirled around my head.

"How can I possibly forgive him? How can I ever live this down? How can I go on?"

That was twenty-three years ago. Last Sunday, tears filled my eyes as I fingered an Angel Tree ornament. I recalled how angry I'd felt 23 years earlier. Then I remembered all the people who had been the hands and feet of Jesus to me back then. They'd given me the courage to endure and to truly forgive my husband.

As I stared at the Christmas tree filled with Angel Tree angels, I thought of the children of prisoners who would accept the gifts. Would they feel angry and filled with shame like I had 23 years earlier? Would they take on the guilt of their parent in prison? Would they think their friends hated them for what their mom or dad had done? Would they think, "I'll just end up like my parent?"

As my eyes misted over, I thanked God for the bright future that my friends and family had instilled in me in the last 23 years. I scanned the gift wishes of the angels hanging on the tree and prayed, "Lord, help me choose one that will transform a child with Your love."

My eyes danced when I found the gift wish, "Elmo or musical toy."

"Elmo?!? How perfect! His laughter is so contagious!”

So I bought Elmo and prayed, "Lord, let every peal of laughter bring a bucket-load of God's joy! Let his red fur remind the family of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and bring salvation.” Then I prayed daily for God to bless the family.

Laughter had healed Norman Cousins 23 years ago, but Angel Tree has a much better gift than just laughter—the love of God. Countless families have been restored to God’s love through a simple gift given in the name of a prisoner. Mary Kay Beard started this ministry in 1982. She was a former bank robber whose life was dramatically altered in prison by the gospel.

More than nine million children have been touched by Angel Tree in the last 30 years. Angel Tree is just one part of Prison Fellowship. Other ways they reach children of inmates include mentoring programs and summer camp outreaches. Some churches, like Shiloh Christian Ministries in Sierra Vista, Arizona, also sponsor clothing giveaways, school backpack outreaches, Christmas parties, and monthly newsletter mailings.

Would you like to help a child find a brighter future? Project Angel Tree can help you do that. You could buy an Angel Tree gift, pray for the families, or ask your church to join Angel Tree. You could also donate.

Would you like to join us in impacting shattered lives with the hope of the gospel?

By Nancy Dobbins ... ?id=154352
Last edited by HeartSpeaks on Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:56 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby benjity2 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:22 pm

Thousands of years ago, the advent of Jesus became the best Christmas present that will ever be gifted or received. More than four centuries believers had waited with baited breath for his advent, His coming.

Coming. There’s a warmth and anticipation in that word. Most of us are only familiar with the word advent at Christmas time. But, it’s the coming, the conclusion of longing, waiting, pining, hoping.

As a girl, Daddy’s advent every night was a special time. My sisters and I would wait at the end of our long, gravel driveway jockeying to be the first to spot his car. Then, as he turned toward the house, we would race alongside the car. “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home! Daddy, I have something to show you!”

Also when I was a girl, my family did Angel Tree every year that I can remember. We would visit Wal-Mart and pluck a paper angel from the branches, usually a girl about our age. Then we scoured the brightly colored shelves for gifts that matched “our” little girl’s needs. When we had packed the box to the brim, we took it to our church and stacked it among the hundreds of other shoeboxes filled by our friends’ families.

Back then, I didn’t think too much about the recipient of our gift. I didn’t really think about the gift that we couldn’t give them. The children of inmates who would open our Christmas presents might never celebrate their daddy’s advent. These children might wait night after night with no one coming home.

And I certainly didn’t have the capacity to wonder much about the incarcerated parents. They might never see the light in their children’s eyes as they opened Christmas presents, or feel the incomparable warmth of a child thrilled with their advent.

It’s been more than 20 years since I filled an Angel Tree shoebox with my sisters. My military husband and I have moved four times in our marriage and belonged to as many churches. But every single Christmas, my heart warms to see the Angel Tree in the foyer. My eyes water when the pastor announces the pending date for turning in our boxes.

I have been blessed with so many Advents. I have a wonderful father who came home to hug his daughters each night. I know the Savior whose Advent secured my eternity.

Angel Tree gives me the extended reach to love a child each Christmas and to show them the meaning of Christmas’ Advent. It gives me the opportunity to offer the anticipation of Christmas to a child missing their parent.

Abby Kelly
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55245 ... of-advent/ ... angel.html

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The Ultimate Christmas Gift

Postby AnnetteMcD » Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:32 pm

Tyler's eyes filled as he stared at the half-decorated Christmas tree.

His dad touched his shoulder. "What's wrong, son?"

Tyler shrugged. "I miss Mom."

His dad sighed. "Me, too."

"I don't think she cares about me," said Tyler.

"Of course she does," said his dad. "She loves you very much."

Tyler shook his head. "Then, why did she have to do something stupid and end up in prison?" He slumped down on the couch and put his head in his hands.

"Tyler, I know this is hard," said his dad. "Your mom made a big mistake. But, that doesn't mean she doesn't love you." He pulled a plastic reindeer out of a box. "Do you want to finish decorating the tree?"

Tyler wiped his eyes with the back of his sleeve. "Oh, all right." He rummaged through the box, and his eyes filled again as he pulled out an angel.

"Mom usually puts this on top of the tree," he said.

"Why don't you put it on the tree this year?" asked his dad.

Tyler tossed the delicate angel back in the box. "No! If Mom's not here, I don't want it on the tree!" He sat back on the couch and closed his eyes. He felt an ache in his chest.

"I'm afraid Mom's going to forget me," he said quietly. Just then, the doorbell rang, and his dad answered the door.

"Tyler, look!" said his dad. Tyler looked up, and his eyes grew wide.

Standing in the doorway was a man holding a huge wrapped present. "Who's that for?" Tyler asked.

"It's for you, Tyler," said the man. "It's from your mom."

Tyler took the present and searched for the gift tag. "It can't be from my mom," he said. "She's in prison!"

"It is from your mom," said the man. "She found a way to send you a special gift for Christmas. She wants you to know how much she loves you, and also how much Jesus loves you."

Tyler beamed and held his present tight. "I can't believe it," he said. He slid the present under the tree and went to the box of decorations.

"Aren't you going to open your present?" asked his dad.

Tyler grinned. "I have to do something first."

He pulled the angel out of the box. "Dad, can you help me?" His dad lifted him up and onto his shoulders.

Tyler stretched forward and put the angel on the highest branch of the tree.

"Mom didn't forget me!" he said, grinning.

"Merry Christmas, Tyler," said his dad.

"Merry Christmas, Dad," said Tyler.

While the story you just read is fiction, similar real-life stories play out across the country each Christmas, thanks to Angel Tree. Without Angel Tree, these stories would have a much different ending - a sad and often tragic ending.

When a parent goes to prison, children are often the forgotten victims, and they are frightened, angry, and confused. They need to know that they're loved and remembered and, even more importantly, they need to know that Jesus loves them.

Angel Tree's Prison Fellowship program helps strengthen the fragile bonds between parents in prison and their children by helping incarcerated parents give Christmas presents to their children, and by sharing the ultimate gift - the love of Jesus Christ.

Visit Angel Tree's website to learn how you can donate to this life-changing cause. Every child deserves to be remembered - won't you partner with Angel Tree to help provide some very special gifts this Christmas?

Annette McDermott
Member # 54161 ... ?id=154391 ... tmas-gift/

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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby emjmac » Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:05 pm

Bring Christmas; Share Christ

“Ariel, why are you pouting?”

“Christmas is not coming to our house this year, Grandma.”

“Baby Girl, Christmas comes every year.”

“Not as long as Mommy is behind bars. It didn’t come last year or the year before that.”

For the three years just after Thanksgiving that was the conversation that I had with my grandmother after my mother was sentenced to five years in prison. And every Christmas for two years I knew what I would find under the tree: one outfit and two toys. I was thankful but sad.

Last year was different though: a stranger knocked on our door and brought me a fourth gift.
Grandma wasn’t surprised to see her, and she let her in. The stranger sat down and said she had something for me. I was shocked.

She handed a wrapped gift to me. When I looked at the tag, it said, “Ariel, I want you to have the happiest Christmas possible. Love, Mom.” Tears filled my eyes. This was a Christmas I would never forget.

And the woman began to explain how the love of Jesus motivated her to visit me that day and my mom last week in prison. I wanted to know that love.

That year was the first time I went to Sunday School, and every Sunday, Grandma, me and my mom have been learning just how much Jesus loves.

Ariel’s mom still has several more years in prison.
Thanks to <a href=""TARGET="_blank">Angel Tree</a>, Christmas is no longer the worst day of the year for Ariel.

Mary Kay Beard, a former prisoner, founded this organization in 1982 to make sure children like Ariel feel a parent’s love at Christmas, and the entire family feels God’s love all year round.

In addition to providing gifts to <a href=""TARGET="_blank">children of inmates</a> at Christmas, Angel Tree connects them to a church family and their parents to a prison Bible fellowship. Both parent and child learn about the love and forgiveness of God as they wait for the parent’s release.

Angel Tree hopes to reach 400,000 children this year, but there are <a href=""TARGET="_blank">1.7 million children</a> whose parents are in prison. With your small donation of $12.58, $50, $75, etc., Angel Tree can reach even more families, taking the message of God’s love to lonely children and to their parents behind prison walls.

It’s not the gift; it’s the giver that makes the difference, and when a child receives a gift from an imprisoned parent at Christmas, a precious journey of hope begins.

Help a prisoner parent become a giving parent at Christmas and spread the love of God to an entire family. <a href=""TARGET="_blank">donate</a> today.

Margo McKenzie
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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby keviningram » Sun Dec 02, 2012 5:26 am

Title: Light in the Darkness - Hope For Imprisoned Hearts

Sarah sat silently, the celebration around her a sad reminder of Christmases past. Familiar faces bustled with energy, every eye twinkling with excitement as they chattered and teased each other, waiting impatiently for the bell to ring signaling the end of class and the start of Christmas break.

"Hey Sarah!" John's voice rang out above the clamor, as shrill as a fifth-grade boy can be. "Whatcha gettin' for Christmas?" He had a long list of expectations, and had shared it quite willingly around the room.

Sarah shrugged, and tried to pass it off. "I don't want to know, I want it to be a surprise." She knew all too well that Christmas would, once again this year, be virtually devoid of gifts. She tried to smile and tease him back."You get too much stuff anyway."

"Too much stuff! There ain't no such thing!" His exuberance seemed to add to her emptiness. She could remember that feeling though, that Christmas excitement of so long ago, from before. Before the trouble, before the arrest, before her dad was taken away.

The noise in the room suddenly surged as the bell rang, and twenty-some happy faces exploded into celebration and scurried out the door. For the others, this was a shining moment of the year, but for Sarah just another grim reminder of her sadness and sorrow.

She eased out of the building and down the long walk to home. The pretty lights, the glow of garland and tinsel, the excitement in the air - all but a bitter reflection of the past for her. Choking back tears, she tried in vain to stop the memories. Memories of her family all together, her dad bringing in the fresh green tree, shopping and wrapping gifts together, and sharing that glorious moment of all the bright packages stacked together around the bottom. Christmas was special then, and every memory reminded her once again of everything she would not have this year. Her mother worked long hours, barely able to supply the necessities much less any gifts. It would be another long, lonely holiday for them both.

A story like this may be the reality for up to 1.7 million children this year, children whose hearts and hopes have been shattered by the incarceration of a parent. Emotional and financial brokenness are the hardest to bear at the holidays - but we can help. Angel Tree, a ministry dedicated to linking children of inmates and their parents, can bridge the gap of love. Bringing Christmas presents to the children in the name of the parent, they carry the ultimate message of hope and good news - that they are loved both by their parent and by the Lord Jesus.

Would you help today? Read more Angel Tree stories. See how this prison fellowship has made a difference in thousands of lives, bringing healing to hurting hearts - for the holidays, for a lifetime and for eternity. Donate today.

Kevin Ingram
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My Unorthodox Reunion with My Angel Tree Family

Postby Chrystlyn81 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:49 pm

My Unorthodox Reunion with My Angel Tree Family

Holidays were always hard for me, especially Christmas and Father’s Day. Any holiday that included a celebration was not enjoyable for me as it should be in childhood.

I grew up in spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical poverty. I really yearned to grow up in the stability of a two parent household. Growing up in a fatherless household, I fantasized of being a member of the Huxtables on The Cosby Show.

I had a difficult childhood with my Grandma. I know she loved me, but she was hard to live with.
When I was a little girl, my Dad tried to be a part of my life twice, but my grandma instilled fear in him, pushing him away. I watched my Dad walk away two times. After the second time, the seeds of anger and disrespect towards him were planted in my heart.

Life went on; I grew up; and as high school graduation approached, I received a letter from him telling me he would attend. I was so excited, but he never showed up. Needless to say, I was disappointed, and my feelings were hurt. For once in his life, I just wanted him to keep his promise to me.
Unbeknownst to me, he was incarcerated when I was 16. At the time of my graduation, he was 2 years into his sentence. I found out about his incarceration my freshman year in college.

Unfortunately, I had become a statistic. I had to deal with the stigma of being a child with a parent in prison. I had to deal with feelings of guilt, not being good enough, and unworthy.
However, with God’s grace and patience, He released me from those illegitimate feelings. Instead, He had me see myself through His Eyes. My Dad’s choices were why he was in prison. His choices were his own and not my fault.

I also had a branch on my new, unique, and unlikely family tree-the<a href=""TARGET="_blank">Angel Tree</a>
I can relate to the <a href=" ... on-reasons"TARGET="_blank">1.7 million children</a>
who have a parent serving time in a state and/or federal prison now. I am one of the 10 million young people who have had a parent spend time in jail and/or prison in my lifetime. **

My Dad served 12 years in prison for his crimes. He was released in June 2009. I wish I could say I have a happy ending, but I would be lying.
God has started the healing process in my heart towards my Dad. Forgiveness comes before reconciliation. My heart is open to this process. I know God is able to restore the relationship between us

My story is one of many <a href=" ... s-families"TARGET="_blank">Angel Tree stories</a>
. They have partnered with Prison Fellowship Ministries by making it possible to prevent future generations of children from enduring the struggles I went through by implementing programs for families to stay connected through fundraising through the Transformational Experience. *** This ministry is helping children affected by having a parent incarcerated accept and make peace with their past and current circumstances so they can embrace their future. This ministry is truly doing Christ’s call (Mt 25:36).

I know God has not wasted my tears and my pain. I know in my heart and spirit everything is working for His Purposes (Romans 8:28). I know good will come from my pain, not only in my life, but also in the lives of others. Angel Tree Ministries connects families regardless of the bars separating them by displaying the love of Christ one family at a time.

** ... _prisoners
*** ... ?id=154423
Chrystlyn Edwards
Member # 60529
Type Of Membership: Platinum

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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby Chrystlyn81 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:56 pm


I entered the contest, but my links are not showing up in the regular article. I submitted the article 1st, then tried to contextualize the keywords. Part of the links were highlighted in the forum. Do I need to resubmit?


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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby SusieK » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:01 pm

OPRAH Was the Queen of It, You Can Be Too!

OPRAH was the queen of giveaways on her television talk show. Did you ever watch the joyful recipients and wish you could be that generous and change the life of another in such a profound way?

There is a way. You can purchase a Christmas gift for a child who has a parent in prison this year. Your gift has the potential to change one small life and possibly even repair the damage that such a separation can cause a family.

Our ministry school loved to participate in the prison fellowship Angel tree project. The Christmas tree in the corner of our school worship room was a gathering place each morning in December. The students could be found gently touching the paper angels that hung from its branches, reading them one by one. After careful examination, an angel-shaped tag would be chosen and the student would walk away with a satisfied smile.

I always searched through the Angel tree tags with one goal in mind. A girl’s name. My motive was totally selfish. As the mother of two rough and tumble boys, I couldn’t wait to buy a Christmas present for a little girly-girl. I was so excited to buy a Barbie with two or three frilly outfits! Later, while my husband and sons were intently hunting the toy aisles full of super heroes and G.I. Joes, I would be concentrating on deciding if the sparkly gown will look best with peep-toe high heels or sequined flats.

Even though my personal motive might have been a bit selfish, this national ministry is all about giving. The Angel Tree Program, by Prison Fellowship is a beautiful bridge between the parent and the child. For thirty years this national outreach has been an important link between generations who are separated by the bars of a prison cell. The goal is to provide the children with a Christmas present as a gift from their own parent. The incarcerated mom or dad signs up for this chance to bless their children and a personal note written by the parent is often included in the gift.

The bad news is revealed in these statistics:

1.7 million children have one or both parents incarcerated.
• Approximately 50% of all inmates have not seen their children since being incarcerated.
• Most are being held more than 100 miles away from their children.
• 52% of all inmates have children.

The good news is that Angel Tree, working with more than 7,700 churches and organizations was able to be that vital link between parent and child in 2011 reaching nearly 400,000 children! Since its creation thirty years ago, Angel Tree has connected 9 million children with 5.2 million parents!

The entire concept comes down to simply choosing a nametag and then picking out a wonderful Christmas present for a child. The gift will be given to the child on behalf of his or her parent. Prison Fellowship works with local churches, companies and organizations to set up Angel Trees and let the public be a helping hand.

For all the details go here:,
where you will also enjoy some beautiful stories of the many ways that Angel Tree impacts families all year around!

Let’s not let Oprah have all the fun! You do not have to be a millionaire to bless a young life!

MEMBER # 60793
Susie Klein
Also posted: ... e-too.html

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How Will it End?

Postby Dave Walker » Sun Dec 02, 2012 5:26 pm

“Mommy, is Daddy coming home for Christmas?”
“No, Pet. Maybe next Christmas, but not this one.”
“But why not, Mommy? Everyone says Christmas is family time. Can’t Daddy come home?”
Mommy’s shoulders drooped. I leaned forward from the arm of the chair where I sat, took her face in my chubby six-year-old hands and squeezed her cheeks. Then I saw the tears and didn’t want to question her any more.
I knew the answer, anyway. Daddy was in prison. And he didn’t want to see me. I wasn’t sure what he’d done and I didn’t care. I just knew after they took him away they came and took our house too, and that was why we were in the trailer park; why Mommy was getting thin and I was often hungry and didn’t like the snow at Christmas.
Mom and I had cut a branch off a fir tree. We’d decorated it with colored paper and cotton wool, but I knew there would be no presents under it. Not this Christmas.
And I was puzzled. “Mom, everyone sings about how Jesus came to us at Christmas but what difference does it make? Is he real? Even if Daddy couldn’t come home, Jesus could at least give me a present.”
---------------- o--------------------
This story could end with the mother looking in despair at her hungry, needy son unable to answer with any hope, since she herself had none.
Or it could, like many true stories, end like this:
Mom looked past me and her eyes had no light. “I don’t know, Pet, but if we just hang on………………”
A knock on the trailer door scared Mom. She opened it just a crack.
“Good morning. May we come in? We have something to share with you!”
Two nice ladies came and sat on the old sofa.” We are from Angel Tree and we have a letter here from your dad. It’s good news.”
Mom read aloud. “Darling Sarah and Pete. For many weeks I have attended meetings by Prison Fellowship. Last week I surrendered my life to Jesus. I want you to know I love you and want you to come and visit me. I wish I could tell you in person, Pete what a big boy you are. Well, I can’t, but just know Jesus loves you and I love you and we both want you to have a special Christmas. These kind ladies have brought you a present from both of us, Jesus and me. Have a lovely Christmas and visit soon.”
This time I didn’t mind seeing Mommy cry. Everybody was crying, even me, but from happiness. Christmas was a time of presents and Jesus was real. He changed my dad’s life and, later when the kind people from Angel Tree visited lots more we learned how He didn’t just come at Christmas, but died for our sins on a Cross. Then He changed our lives too.

Every year there are 1.7 million children with a parent in prison. Angel Tree wants these children and families to experience the true meaning of Christmas, introducing them to the love of Jesus by linking with churches to bring Christmas presents, the gospel message and follow-up where necessary. If you want to know more about how you can get involved in this beautiful ministry, through prayer, donations or hands on, and make a happy ending for a child, please follow the links.

Dave Walker
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God in the ICU

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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby chumbles » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:01 pm

Daddy says when I grow up to his chest he'll come home. I get nana to measure me every day. I don't think I grow very fast. Nana says she can see I'm growing every day.

Sometimes I get mad going to see daddy, it takes so long on the bus and we don't get home till really late. The other kids play together on the weekend. They say they don't want to play with me even if I could go. They say daddy’s a bad man and if daddy loved me he would stop being bad. Nana says their wrong. I think maybe their right.

The officers say I shouldn't be scared of the big dogs that walk up and down sniffing us. Nana says there looking for bad things but its okay we're not doing anything bad. I get scared they'll think I'm bad like people think daddy is.

Yesterday wasn't a very good day, I hugged daddy so tight and asked him to please, please, come home for Christmas. Daddy said he couldn't. I was mad at daddy, I told him he was hurting my heart and that if he loved me he would come home. Daddy said he was sorry. The officer said we had to leave. When daddy wouldn't come with me I kicked and punched him. I told daddy I hated him and I'd never talk to him again. Nana carried me back to the bus stop yesterday. I asked nana why daddy didn't love us. She said he does. I don't believe her. I told her I’m never going there again. Nana was crying too.

A nice lady came over today. She said she was from from Angel tree and had something really special from my daddy and gave me a present. I told her daddy didn’t give me presents. She said daddy had really wanted to spend Christmas with me and was sad he couldn’t so her friend Jesus made sure daddy could still send me a gift. I told her I don't know a Jesus but the lady from angel tree said he knew me and loved me. She said Jesus has friends at a church right near my house who could tell me all about him if I wanted. She said there’s even other kids to play with and some go to a fun camp I could go to too! I told her other kids don’t like my daddy. The lady said Jesus loves my daddy and the kids at the camp know daddy's not bad. Nana said some of the kids even have mummy's or daddy's where my daddy is.

I think Jesus must be pretty great. Daddy said he thinks so too. I told daddy I was sorry and that I don't hate him. I told daddy I loved him. Daddy said he loved me too and he’s going to try really hard to be a better daddy. Daddy said this time he's got Jesus and his friends from prison fellowship to help him. Nana cried but she said they were happy tears.

I can't wait until I've grown up to daddy's chest and we'll be together again. Jesus says he loves me, nana, and daddy and he will look after us. I believe him.

Angel Tree brings the true Hope of Christmas into these families lives, they bring Jesus. Through one gift, one donation, one hour, your touching more than just a childs christmas, your impacting them and their families lives.

Christie Humble
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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby Lois » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:12 pm


Okay, God, where are your angels? My Mum used to tell me the angels look out for us, but I don’t see any sign of angels. Certainly aren’t any flapping their wings round this cell of mine. Ah, guess they’d get their shiny wings dirty in a place like this, wouldn’t they. Huh! Are you listening God? Do you hear me?

I know I did wrong, but not much, it wasn’t my fault, really. I was just the driver. It was the others who busted that bank, and they’re locked up too. Deserve all they get, those rotters. But I got three years too, just for driving the van they got away in, or would have got away if those cops hadn’t been waiting round the corner. Someone must have tipped them off. Just wait till I find out who did that.

Now what about my kids? Their useless father took off years ago, and I’m in here, with nothing to do but go mad worrying about them. They might as well be orphans, and God, you said you’d look after orphans and widows. I know, they’re with my sister, but it’s not much life for them there, she’s as much a crook as I am. And God, you said all the children have angels who look on your face and look after the children. Well, you’d sure better look after my children, ‘children of inmates’ they’re called now, because I sure can’t.

Oh, and Christmas is coming, I can’t even get any Christmas presents for my own kids. I know, I never used to get them much anyway, never had any money, but I was there for them, well, when I wasn’t drunk, but now I’m locked away here and can’t do a thing. And I’m not even drunk.

Won’t be much of a Christmas for me in here, but I don’t mind that. Never was one for Christmas, anyway. It’s my kids’ loss that hurts. I’d give anything to make Christmas better for them.


You wouldn’t believe it! An angel showed up. Truly, an angel came and told me my children were getting Christmas presents, and I didn’t need to worry about a thing.
She told me about this organisation I’d never heard of, prison fellowship, who run a program called Angel tree. People from churches buy presents for children of prisoners (like my Millie and Jake) and give them out as if they’d come from the parent. Have you ever heard of anything like it?

Anyway, they had somehow got hold of my kid’s names, and even managed to ask what they wanted. Would you believe that? And then this group, they went around delivering all these Christmas presents to children of inmates.

When my sister brought Millie and Jake in to visit last week, Millie brought the doll she’d been given. It was a beauty alright; Millie was thrilled to bits, and cuddling that doll as if she wouldn’t let it go. Jake was beside himself with the latest Lego, he’d made an enormous truck and brought it to show me.

“Thanks, Mum,” Millie said. “You got me the best present ever.” Well, that brought tears to my eyes. Most I’ve cried for ages.

I don’t know much about this outfit, prison fellowship, but when I get out of here I’ll find out more. I think there must be hundreds and hundreds of angels out there, just like in heaven, all doing their thing, and bringing joy to people at Christmas. God, you must have heard me after all.

Lois Farrow
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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby GayleP2012 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:08 pm

One Christmas years ago, friends of mine prepared to celebrate the holiday with their preschool child. They wrapped up dozens of Christmas gifts and lovingly labeled each one, “From Santa.” On Christmas morning, they watched as he gleefully opened all his presents. Then, he turned to his parents with a puzzled look, “Didn’t you give me anything?”
My friends had overlooked an important point. Children may dream of Santa, but they need gifts from their parents.
Yet for <a href=""TARGET="_blank">children of inmates</a>, that gift may never come. Nearly two million children in the United States have one or both parents in prison. Most have little, or no, contact with the absent mother or father.
Imagine their disappointment at Christmas time, wondering if they’ve been forgotten.
But you can make a difference in a child’s life and help a family find joy through <a href=""TARGET="_blank">Angel Tree</a> ministries.
Angel Tree, a division of Prison Fellowship Ministries, has delivered Christmas gifts to children of incarcerated parents since 1982. In 2011, Angel Tree ministries provided nearly a half million children with a present delivered in the name of the absent parent. More than a gift, Angel Tree delivers the parent’s love.
Many wonderful organizations deliver gifts to needy children during the holidays. But a gift delivered in Christ’s name has a greater impact.
Your Angel Tree gift brings hope to the entire family. The children receive affirmation of their parents’ love. Parents learn that others care about them and their families. Many hear for the first time about the love of Jesus.
Since each family connects with a local church, a congregation learns to be Christ’s hands and feet in a lost and hurting world. The church establishes a relationship that keeps sharing God’s love all year long. What a blessing to know that your gift can keep on giving even after the holiday is over.
Isn’t this something you want to be part of this Christmas?
We celebrate Christmas because we have received a gift. As the birth of Jesus carried the gift of love to us, you can also bring a gift of love. You can be that person who brings joy to a child’s life this Christmas. Just <a href=""TARGET="_blank">donate</a>$12.58 and you will help two children be joyful this holiday season.
For the past 30 years, Angel Tree has helped thousands of children connect to their absent parent. Many more could be reached with your help. Make a donation to help a lonely child.
No child should feel forgotten at Christmas time. Won’t you help?
Christmas is almost here. Please contact Angel Tree ministries today.
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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby weapon413 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:13 am

Both Sides of the Bars

The sun inched its way through the gray winter sky toward the horizon. Jack wished he could see it. It had been four years since he had seen a real sunset. But far more than that, he wanted to see Leah. His only child, now seven years old, couldn’t even remember a time when Daddy wasn’t in jail. Most of the time he could handle the guilt and separation, but tomorrow was Christmas, and she was without him again. Was she thinking of him? Did she know how much he loved her? His rough hands wiped the tears from his face as the sun set on another Christmas Eve behind bars.


The sun peeked its fiery brow over the edge of the distant hills, ready to burst into brilliant light. Leah couldn’t stay in bed any longer…it was Christmas! She raced out to the living room of her small apartment to where her mother slept on the couch.

“Get up, Mama! It’s Christmas!”

Leah’s mother, Sherri, blinked at the smiling face of her daughter. In spite of their meager circumstances, it was a happy day. Christmas hadn’t always been that way, but this year held a special surprise.

Sherri fixed a quick breakfast and then let Leah tear into her gifts. After opening a few small ones, she saw a big, beautifully wrapped box near the back of the tree. Her eyes widened as Sherri placed the gift in her lap.

“It’s for you, sweetie. Look who it’s from.”

Leah scrunched her eyebrows, studying the tag. Suddenly her face lit up.

“Daddy?” she whispered.

Sherri nodded, tears filling her eyes. It was the first gift she had received from him since he had been in prison. Leah hesitated, then carefully pulled back the shiny paper. She froze.

“It’s…it’s a My Girl doll! And she looks just like me! But, Mama, how did…”

“A special angel helped Daddy get you exactly what you wanted for Christmas. And a very sweet lady is coming over tomorrow to tell us more about it. Won’t that be nice?”

“Yessssss!” Leah jumped up and held her new friend at arm’s length, spinning in circles until she was too dizzy to stand. Sherri watched her, wiping her eyes. Most Christmases were filled with sad, lonely tears, but these were good ones. Good ones made possible by a program called Angel tree .


There are 1.7 million children in this country with a Mother or Father serving time in prison. Often, Christmas is the most poignant reminder to them of the void this leaves in their lives. They long for the family togetherness that most of us take for granted. And they wonder, sadly, “Does Daddy remember me?” “Does Mommy still love me?”

This life-changing program of Prison Fellowship provides children of inmates with gifts at Christmas on behalf of their incarcerated parents, so the answer to these questions can be a resounding “Yes!”. And, far-reaching beyond Christmas, it also provides the eternal gift of the Gospel of Christ to families torn apart by imprisonment.

Working with local churches and donations, Angel Tree delivers not only gifts, but the assurance to these precious children and families that they are not forgotten or alone. And through year-round evangelism and discipleship programs, a lasting difference can be made in their lives. It is the “pure and undefiled religion” of James 1:27 in action. It is healing, restoration and hope. Hope given and received on both sides of the bars.

Lori Othouse
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Re: A Gift and the Gospel - Blog Contest #5 is Open

Postby jrhamner224 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:45 am

Pull My Finger

The simple game of “Pull My Finger” often evokes laughter and some weird faces from both the child and their dad while mom rolls her eyes and wonders why men have to be so gross. It seems silly to think of that game as Christmas nears; I mean it isn’t a game that is delivered in a shiny box with a bow. Silly games such as this and “Wet-Willies” can’t be sent to a child but trust me when I say, they do remember playing them with their parent who is now serving time behind bars. It’s crazy the things that go on in the head of child when they miss their father or mother. My oldest daughter was only eleven when her father was killed in a motorcycle accident. Sometimes, out of the blue, she will remind me of times with her father when they played such games. To the[url]=""TARGET="_blank">1.7 million children</a>[/url]of incarcerated parents, memories are all they have and around Christmas time, it is especially hard on them. The loneliness a child feels for their parent is only increased by the emptiness of a home on Christmas morning without presents.

As Christians, we are called by God in James 1:27 “…to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”. If we are truly saved, we know the emptiness inside of longing for our Father so it is also our job to help people know that only He can fill the hole in them as well. One way that we can serve God, bring smiles to children and the hope of filling that emptiness they have is [url]=""TARGET="_blank">Angel Tree</a>.[/url]
[url]=""TARGET="_blank">Angel Tree</a>[/url]is a prison ministry that encourages congregations to donate gifts for the children of incarcerated parents. Often times, these children have lived in tough conditions with parents that are violent or suffer from substance abuse. If their homes had both a mom and dad, they now only have just one or the other. If these children were in a single parent home and that parent is incarcerated, they now find themselves living with grandparents, aunts or uncles. These children are often living in poverty and do not know the excitement of opening gifts on Christmas morning let alone the true meaning of why our Savior, Jesus Christ is the true celebrity of the holiday.

Churches play a vital role in this growing mission by putting [url]=""TARGET="_blank">Angel Tree</a>[/url] in their building. Each Angel Tree has tags hanging on it with information about the child of an incarcerated parent. A member of the congregation or even a visitor to the church can select a tag and buy presents for the child based on the information provided such as the child’s gift wish and their clothing sizes. Churches can also take up special offerings during their worship service to [url]=""TARGET="_blank">donate</a>[/url]to the cause.
Not only will the child receive joy on Christmas morning when they open their presents but they will also receive the Word of God, the Bible. Giving Jesus to a child and to their incarcerated parent is the single most important thing a donor can do because it contains hope and love and the only real gift that can fill the emptiness in their hearts.

If you have children or grandchildren, call them into the room and have them pull your finger. Let the laughter that abounds flow through your ears like sweet music. Tell them about Jesus and get involved in the [url]=""TARGET="_blank">Angel Tree</a>[/url]ministry. You can make a difference today.

Jennifer Hamner
Member # 60897 ... rhamner224
Last edited by jrhamner224 on Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:19 am, edited 4 times in total.


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