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The prettiest flag I ever saw
Is not on the courthouse lawn.
Nor is it the flag flying o're my house
When the 4th is about to dawn.

No, it's not even the flag they fought to save
On battlefields long ago,
Or the one that flies o're Washington
In the rain and sleet and snow.

All these flags are glorious
And were banners for the brave.
No, the prettiest flag I ever saw
Was on my father's grave.

-- Submitted by Robin Neil from Midland, Texas

July 4, 1776

 In the pursuit of happiness of life and liberty
Our fathers fought injustice for thirteen colonies
With purest acts of sacrifice and bravery renown
These fifty-seven patriots opposed the British crown

 To plead the merit of our cause as sufferance was told
Hence called: our 'Declaration' that's now two centuries old
While freedom's bell still tolls today to notes of independence
Yet tribute's due for blood that spilled of those men in attendance

 To America was given, an eagle's spirit strong
God did mend her wings and gave her flight... as freedom is her song
No longer sighs of bondage heard, she triumphed o'er her foes
In courage vowed and victory sweet, amid the tempest's woes!

 Copyright © 2002


The temperature is rising
It is starting to get warm
All the plants are wilting
There's possibly a storm

We're sitting by the fan
Trying to get cool
Wishing we could swim
But there's a hole in the pool

Drive down to the beach
The traffic is quite slow
Seems to take forever
I wish we didn't go

Finally we get there
Sitting on the sand
Too hot to eat the ice-cream
As it melts in my hand

Run down to the water
Just to cool your feet
Shark plane flies over-head
Everyone must retreat

Now it's getting humid
My body starts to sweat
There's a smell in the air
That storm is coming, I bet

The clouds are getting darker
There's lightning in the sky
A distant rumble of thunder
Time to say good-bye

Run back to the car
With all that stuff to load
Count all the kids
Time to hit the road

The storm is much closer
There is a lot of rain
This is taking forever
We're stuck I traffic again

Wind down the windows
It's starting to feel cool
We don't have to worry
About swimming in the pool

Finally we're home
We start to look around
It's still really hot
And it's dry on the ground

There hasn't been a storm
There isn't any rain
The storm has gone around us
It's missed us again

Back inside we go
By the fan we sit
I do not like this weather
Not one little bit

-- Submitted by Virginia Gronow from Wattle Glen


On Ohio's first day of winter
I thought I'd see some snow,
Instead the sun was shining
And on a walk I'd go.

On Ohio's first day of spring,
I thought I'd see a daffodil,
Instead I saw some snow
And sleds zooming down the hill.

Seasons exchanging places
Has happened in the past,
Sad looks on children's faces
This spring break when winter lasts.

Frigid landscape welcoming Easter
Early equinox this year,
Forget the holiday's frivolity,
Behold His word and hear.

For what does it matter the weather
When souls are born again?
And Jesus rises from the dead
To redeem the sins of men.

-- Submitted by Floriana Hall from Akron, Ohio


The old truck shuddered in the wintry wind
As it struggled through the snow,
A young couple huddled inside
Knowing where they must go.

Cardboard covered where glass should be,
And the door was wired shut,
The young driver struggled hard
To stay in the icy ruts.

"We'll be there soon, I promise, Maria,"
He said to the woman beside.
"I know José, it must be so,"
As she prayed for the life inside.

But the old truck skidded off the road,
And crashed in the snow piled high,
A piercing pain crossed Maria's face,
And she began to cry.

"I cannot wait, he will be born
On this bitter winter night!"
And José held her close to keep her warm,
While praying with all his might.

Voices were heard and light pierced the snow,
As men dug out the old wreck,
The door was pulled off and they reached inside,
Bringing hope of a life turned back.

"There's a baby here!" one man shouted,
As the others ran to his side,
"Let's get 'em warm and see this child
Born on this Christmas tide."

José and Maria and their newborn son,
Were brought to a home with a fire,
As the men stood close by they all felt,
This Child was their hearts' desire.

-- Submitted by Norm Rourke from Beggs, OK

I saw Phil pop out of the ground,
Sniffed the air and looked around,
Saw his shadow and went back down,
Six more weeks of Winter!

-- Submitted by Samantha Wagner from Richmond, Virginia

(for Valentine's Day)

Whispers of love,
Soft, rustling sounds like pirouetting leaves
Falling on listening, responsive ears,
Arouse feelings of love and desire.
Tender words of endearment,
Eternal private secrets
Dripping like chocolate syrup,
As sweet as sugar candy,
Unlock treasures of the heart
With a verbal key.
Romantic sonnets, quiet words
Once spoken, never to be forgotten --
Total surrender.

-- Submitted by Floriana Hall from Akron, Ohio

November is that time of year
When we all come together and share our cheer.

There's pumpkin pie, turkey and gravy
And cranberry jam for a treat, maybe.

It's a time of constant chatter and feasting
Togetherness, and feelings of love never ceasing.

Thanksgiving's unlike Halloween or Christmas
It has a rare sense of sincerity with no rushing or business.

There's no unwrapping of paper, squeals of joy
As the little ones gaze at their brand new toy.

During Thanksgiving, we're not giving gifts
We're giving thanks to our freedom and those Pilgrims on ships.

So here's to our rights, our freedom and love
Here's to the life and the stars far above.

So happy Thanksgiving to one and all
And remember to always stand strong, never fall!

-- Submitted by Emily Patka from Albany, NY


On the first day of Christmas, thoughts of childhood delight
Were spread across the rooms and into spaces of the night
For on the Christmas tree I saw through small and wondering eyes
The magic of a sleigh that would be flying through the skies

 On the second day of Christmas, I could see a speedy sled
With wooden top all shiny new, and runners painted red
That day was independence for a six to old to own
A sled to ride the waves of time and distances alone

 The third Day of Christmas, beneath the Christmas tree
A looking glass that would reflect the inner parts of me
For in the mirror I could see a girl now fully grown
Out of childhood sweet fantasies to new ones of her own

 On the fourth Day of Christmas there was a diamond ring
Reflecting Christmas candles and the joy that they would bring
The glory of the birth of Christ now touched me in a way
That the beauty of His love shone down upon my wedding day

 On the fifth day of Christmas a child came to earth
In the silence of life's meaning, in the miracle of birth
I could feel the love of Christmas shining deep within my core
And I promised I would teach him of a Love more grand and pure

 On the sixth day of Christmas, with wonder in his eyes
A stocking full of goodies, each a little sweet surprise
And I saw him look for Santa Clause in heavy falling snows
That night against the window pane, he pressed his little nose

 On the seventh day of Christmas, a new and shiny sled
And underneath the wooden slats, his name engraved in red
I watched him as he pushed himself from off the hilly glaze
Into the independence of his up and coming days

 On the eighth day of Christmas he gave a diamond band
That glittered in the memories when placed upon her hand
Reflecting on the walls the prism rainbows of my life
The babe, the child, the teen, the bride, the mother and the wife

 On the ninth day of Christmas I paused in retrospect
The years of pain, the years of joy, the things I would expect
And in that moment I had seen that measure of my days
Cannot be spread in distance over land or sky or waves

 On the tenth day of Christmas my grandson said to me
What is in the magic of a lovely Christmas tree?
I said the tree is filled with light, just as the Light of Love
That shown down on a little Child from places up above

 On the eleventh day of Christmas, my aged eyes could see
The glory of the Child who was born and died for me
My eyes were growing weary, though the glitter of the light
Still lit the magic wonder in the joys of Christmas night

 On the twelfth day of Christmas, a gift was given to me
For I had gone to heaven, there to dwell eternally
Then looking down upon the earth a child tucked in bed
Beneath the tree, red runners on a shiny wooden sled

 -- Submitted by Elizabeth Santos from Pottstown, PA


The night before Christmas, I rushed through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except me, a mouse
I will not gnaw the stockings, I'll do as I should
Because Santa is coming, I want to be good

 I'll have to admit that it's been a rough year
But Santa Clause just counts the last part, I hear
I won't leave an ornament ragged and torn
Or the little one's blankie so soft and so warm

 For I'm on a mission, that nobody knows
And I've got to get going before Santa Clause shows
He will be here real soon and I've got to help out
Because Christmas is coming without any doubt

 The children are nestled, the presents are wrapped
I snuck right by a mouse trap and almost got zapped
Heading straight for the fireplace, for only I knew
That someone's forgotten to open the flue

 There wasn't much time, only minutes to go
I heard jingling of sleigh bells outside in the snow
I could just vision Santa come down through the spout
And get stuck in a chimney and never get out

 I saw the whole problem but I never knew
How a little mouse ever could open a flue
I jumped up on the chain and I gave a big tug
And then somersaulted back onto the rug

 I tried it again but this time with a swing
But nothing would budge and the flue wouldn't fling
I had to save Santa and rescue the boys
Who'd be left Christmas morning without any toys

 I thought back on all the bad things I had done
Making Grandmother scream, I was just having fun
I made nests of her sewing box, sawdust from wood
But now it is Christmas and now I am good

 I could hear the sleigh flying high over the house
It was this time or never to prove I'm a mouse
So I filled every stocking with plenty of weight
And carried each one over fireplace grate

 Then with teeth and with claws I did my magic trick
Tied each stocking to chain in a way they would stick
But the flue was still closed and now Santa was here
With the sliding of runners and the prancing of deer

 I looked up the chimney and tried hard to speak
But all that came out was a crackly squeak
Old Santa was laughing up there on the roof
With no time to warn him, no signal, no proof

 Of the danger he faced that he didn't perceive
That a flue was about to wreck his Christmas Eve
So he started on down and chimney shook
And a little gray mouse now was covered with soot

 But heavy vibrations were shaking the ground
The flue popped on open, the stockings fell down
I hid in a corner as I usually do
But he knew it was I who had opened the flue

 He left lots of presents, and a nice piece of cheese
For he knew that a little mouse saved Christmas Eve
Then laying a finger aside of his nose
He wrote out a letter in very fine prose

 Explaining a little mouse rescued the night
And since then I've been treated so perfectly right
The next time you hear little mice running loose
Just put out some cheese and we'll call it a truce

 To those who may not such a story believe
Let me tell you a secret about Christmas Eve
The cookies and milk that you leave in the house
Are not eaten by Santa, but left for a mouse

 -- Submitted by Elizabeth Santos from Pottstown, PA


The trade of a carpenter, artisan's hand
Fashioned a manger he wanted to stand
In a place in the village where it could be seen
On a hill overlooking the town, San Joaquin

 He was old and quite frail, but he carved out of wood
The beautiful manger scene that would be stood
In a schoolyard on a hillside overlooking the town
And some folks went along to help place it around

 Each figure was grand, with a hand painted face
Pure portraits of their adoration and grace
The figure of Jesus, in bed of sweet hay
Lay sleeping in peace til they took Him away

 The crèche stood for days and town was in awe
Of the beautiful manger in view of them all
Up on the hillside by day it was clear
And at night with his lights, he would make it appear

 Then a townsperson claimed that it had to come down
No signs of religion on public school ground
A Nativity scene's not appropriate today
You will have to dismantle and take it away

 A few went to help him, but up on the hill
The winds brought in signs of the first winter chill
Blustery, icy, and wind driven hail
Too hard for an old man, so aged and pale

 But he ordered the others to go on back home
And he lifted the Christ Child with strength of his own
He wrapped it in blankets and carefully laid
The figure of Christ he was taking away

 He knelt down beside the wood manger and prayed
The Kings and the shepherd boys would have to stay
For the storm had grown wicked, and of the display
The best he could do was take Jesus away

 Through tears he stepped off of the public school ground
And descended to the square in the middle of town
Where the town folk assembled to gaze at a star
And the beautiful Crèche on the hillside afar

 The skies had cleared up and star showered beams
On a now empty manger's Nativity scene
A miracle happening there in the skies
And the old man look upward with faith in his eyes

 The people remarked to the old man that night
That the laws made in heaven were their only light
They told him to take the sweet baby and place
Him back into the manger, in his holy space

 But the figure was gone and no one could conceive
Of what happened to Jesus on that Christmas Eve
He was there in my wagon, in just such a way
Now somebody's taken my Jesus away

 Look up on the hillside! Another had gone
The one who complained was now placing him on
The manger of wood that was destined to stay
Christmas Eve when they'd taken sweet Jesus away

 The star shines in glory upon a pure face
A hand wittled figure with hand painted grace
Blessed is artisan, blessed his skill
And the one who placed Jesus back up on the hill

 -- Submitted by Elizabeth Santos from Pottstown, PA


Oh, the weather outside is crappy,
and they say I should be happy
But to all this snow I say, "Go away, go away, go away."
Some weirdos think snow is "gnarly," but roads are slick and snarly,
And MORE snow's on the way -- Go away, go away, go away.

When I woke up at 6 a.m., fast to the window I ran,
But the earth was a blinding white.
My car wouldn't start. What a fright!

When finally I got started, and to the roads I darted,
I was sliding as I prayed, "Go away, go away, go away."

-- Submitted by Andrea Dietrich from Pleasant Grove, Utah


I'm dreaming of a new body
With every chocolate I unwrap.
But I can't stop eating.
I can't stop cheating.
There's just too many Christmas snacks.

My nightmare is a pot belly
With every Christmas treat I take.
But I can't stop feasting,
My size increasing.
When I stand on the scales, they'll break.

Yes, I'm dreaming of a trim waistline.
So take that Chex mix from my face.
May my buns be smaller and flat
And may half my body lose its fat.

-- Submitted by Andrea Dietrich from Pleasant Grove, Utah


A Christmas gift's a cherished prize
To heart and soul, to mind and eyes
For wrapped within a glistening bow
is grace from God that's been bestowed

 The love entwinded in paper wrap
so gently placed upon your lap
is written in the eyes of one
whose joy was wrought from God's own Son

 A little child's grace unfurled
at Christmas time, enchants the world
And from a manger reaches far
beyond the space of earth and star

 It fills the heart and stirs the soul
to recognize the wondrous whole
of earth and heaven, God and man
unveiled by infant's tiny hand

 The Glory of His love departs
at Christmas time from loving hearts
Its' wonder lit by candle's glow
and wrapped beneath a sparkling bow

 -- Submitted by Elizabeth Santos from Pottstown, PA

(Think "Over the River and Through the Wood")

 Round the mountain down I-15 to visit Uncle Ben-
'Tis time of year to bring good cheer, so we're headed for the pen.
Round the mountain down I-15; the prison I do spy.
It's lit up bright like Christmas lights. (My mouth is getting dry.)

 We take the exit and then go on, right past the tower guards.
I'll have no fear. Protection's here. We show our I.D. cards.
Through security. Get checked in. How anxious we shall be
When after a frisk to enter high-risk, our dear Ben we shall see!

 -- Submitted by Andrea Dietrich from Pleasant Grove, Utah


Auld Lang Syne and good champagne
Would never sound nor taste as sweet
As that first night when I met you.
When I saw you I was complete.
We spent that New Year's Eve like others,
A night of laughter, hope and cheer.
You never seemed to mind my staring
But laughed a hearty laugh so clear
And garrish that it made me chuckle
And giggle like a little child.
You never seemed so perfect as
That night when we both laughed and smiled.
I remember what you said that night
When you with laughter said good-bye,
And then you left not long thereafter.
And now no matter how I try,
When I hear the same old song
Without your laughter keeping beat,
I sing the slow and doleful verse
And sip champagne that's bittersweet.

-- Submitted by Mark Haefele from Denver, CO


Another year has come and passed,
A year so tragic compared to last,
Some of us may feel forlorn,
But still Christ was born on Christmas morn.

He alone can banish fear
Which has taken hold 2001 year.
He brings joy into our hearts
And hope and love, a peaceful start

Of healing in this time of grief,
Of helping and praying for relief
From danger, evil and mortal sin --
We MUST capture Osama Bin Ladin

And all terrorists in every land
So children can live without worry and stand
Tall and proud of their heritage.
The USA has come of age

And the glory of our Saviour's birth
Will be greeted with solemnity, love and mirth.
Peace will reign in our world once more
Freedom will win and angels will soar.

-- Submitted by Floriana Hall from Akron, Ohio


Christmas day with all its' joys
Mounds of food and too many toys
Makes me smile from early morn
This joyful day when Christ was born

I smile at grandchildren on my knee
Laugh out loud as I share their glee
Chuckle at my son-in-law's silly jokes
While guzzling endless diet Cokes

Stuffed and gifted and at last replete
I stumble home with dragging feet
Between the time I mount those stairs
And the time I finish my nightly prayers

I shed one tear so silently
For the long gone child I used to be!

 -- Submitted by Margie Sue Hess from St. Louis, Missouri


Oh dear Jesus,
You are my happiness, my joy complete.
You are a song I hear in my sleep.
A word in season to my soul.
An ever present help as I go.
You are the way I choose for life.
You are true and all that is right.
You make a way when once there was none.
You are everlasting, God's only Son.

You are the peace of a sleeping babe.
A hope to a world you long to save.
You are righteousness to those who seek you.
You are faith to see the weary through.
A light in the darkness, you came to me.
Everlasting life for all who believe.
Oh breath of life who left glory to put on flesh
So that one day my spirit would find rest.

We call you "Emmanuel" God with us.
The voice of a shepherd we know and trust.
Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.
Spirit of peace to every man, woman, boy and girl.
Gift of God, sent from above.
Who did lay down his life in love.
Jesus, we love you and forever your name we will bless.
Wrap our hearts in love this Holy Christmas.

 -- Submitted by Sherri Stansell Bailey from Shadyside, MD


Bright lights and colors, glittering string,
Boxes of ornaments, songs that we sing;
Parcels all wrapped with scotch tape and care,
Hefting the contents with mom unaware;

Longing to open, exploring with eyes,
Would they be toys or clothes I'll despise;
These were my thoughts when I was but four,
Not enough presents, I still wanted more;

Now as a teen my views had matured,
There's cd's and videos so I wouldn't get bored;
I still lift the presents to guess what's inside,
I've got a good feel, I won't be denied;

Gratitude wasn't yet one of my traits,
I want what I want, so please don't be late;
Then all of a sudden my life took a turn,
Life as I knew it was not quite so firm;

Father grew sick, his suffering was long,
He lay there in bed, he wasn't so strong;
Then Dad whispered softly, "Come here little one,
I've places to go where you cannot come;

"My time is soon over, I've taught you what's right,
Life will be tough, so dig in and fight;
I love you, I'll miss you, take care of your mom,
Follow the Savior, you'll never go wrong"

With those final words his life passed away,
I knelt there and cried while silent he lay;
Bright lights and colors, glittering string,
Memories of Father cause me to sing;

Little ones now that are under my care,
Lifting the presents while I'm unaware;
Longing to open, exploring with eyes,
As I tell them stories with tears in my eyes;

Grandpa was here though he couldn't be seen,
Those days are still cherished when I was a teen;
My life took a turn for better back then,
I followed my Dad, a man among men;

I'm teaching my children to do what is right,
I'll teach them of Christ, to walk in his light;
Christmas is special, it brings many joys,
Following Jesus is better than toys.

 -- Submitted by Ralph Fallentine from West Valley City, Utah




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