On Good Cops, Gifts, and Big Hearts

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

andy's holiday treeMy sister and I and my teen-aged niece had the joy of helping out at a local, annual, “Shop with a Cop” event.

About a dozen or so police men and women and some helpers took a number of area youngsters on a foray for Christmas presents at a local store, then went to the town’s City Hall for food and gift wrapping.

It was big fun for the kids who got to ride in a “police car parade” on the way to and from the store, sirens blaring and lights flashing on the big, black and white cruisers.

Then to the Hall for sub sandwiches, chips, soda, donuts, Christmas candy, and holiday-decorated cupcakes while officers and others helped the young gift-wrappers measure, cut, wrap, tape, and label stacks of gifts the kids purchased for family members, although it was about shopping for themselves, too.

Due to popular demand, there were also a couple of hand-cuffing demonstrations.

I was a wrapping, ribbon curling, spell-checking, and clean-up elf. My niece and her friend manned a table in the back of the room. My sister helped in the Hall and assisted in the store.

By the time the event was finished, some 5 hours from the start, all the presents were wrapped, taped, be-ribboned and labeled; kids were smiling; helpers were feeling the joy; and a few police officers, one who had come straight from graveyard shift, were, I strongly suspect, heading for a long winter’s nap…

I can’t wait until next year.

And the officers I spoke with and thanked for this wonderful contribution to the community, responded in like manner.

silver ornamentIn the meantime, I will savor several “gifts” I, too, received that day, especially when the spirit of Scrooge from whatever corner threatens to spoil any season of the year and I need a little lift:

  • The look of, for lack of a better term, utter adoration on the face of the little guy who stood in the midst of the festive hubbub for a few minutes just staring at Officer So-and-so, looking him up and down in his uniform and shiny badge. I can’t help but wonder if some future-career seed was planted in that little boy in front of my very eyes as I wrapped, curled, spell-checked, and cleared tables.
  • The fresh–faced, bright-eyed, sweet little thing who belted out, to the great amusement of those nearby, “Hey, cop, when are ya gonna ‘cuff me?”Several times.
  • The exquisite patience of the officers helping little fingers deal with easily-torn wrapping paper, slippery ribbons and bows, and unwieldy tape—especially after the candy and cupcakes kicked in.

But here is my favorite, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and “Little Drummer Boy” kind of gift, a sort of two-for-one gift, actually, that made the day for me:

Andy's wreathMy sister’s young charge on the shopping trip, a boy of about ten years of age she figures, had this to say to the policeman with them who, at the entrance to the store, asked the kid, “And what do you want?”

“Let’s talk about me at the end,” said the boy, as he brought out his list of what he wanted to buy for his parents, step-parents, siblings, and step-siblings.

Then, said my sister, after each selection, the boy, with the precision of a young whiz-kid, calculated the balance carefully in his head, rounding up as needed.

At the end he was short, however. He never did get to choose something for himself, worried as he was that he didn’t have quite enough for the batteries he realized he’d also have to purchase for a couple of the gifts.

“Don’t worry,” said the officer, quietly. “There will be enough.”

So I’m sure you know how this story ends… up at the checkout…where someone reached into his own wallet to help the kid with the big heart…

And, of course, add that to the donations of food, wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, time, and goodwill from multiple sources in a community with a big heart.

In all the “bah, humbug” these days about a young generation thought more selfish than most and a few bad police officers (among tens of thousands of good ones) garnering all the press, I will savor this doubly-blessed gift in particular.

And in all the bah, humbug these days about the season itself, I will also savor the original message, still spelled

M-e-r-r-y C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s.


Ornament and wreath photographs by Andrew J. Beveridge, used with permission.

Nativity image from wikiart, public domain.

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On Self Efficacy, Spiritual Efficacy, and Another Danger of “Male Headship”

Phyllis Nissila


Self efficacy, or, “the extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals,” [1] is a key element of success in “the natural,” as it were.

I’ve been thinking about “spiritual efficacy,” i.e., to coin a definition, the ability of the believer’s belief in his/her ability in Christ Jesus, to complete (spiritual) tasks and reach goals. Continue reading

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To Those Who Think We’re “Stupid”…

Phyllis Nissila


To those…

Who think we’re stupid, Continue reading

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From Russia with Hope: “Christmas”…Re-Gifted

Phyllis Nissila

Below, is an updated re-post of my July 19, 2012 commentary originally entitled “From Russia with Hope: Christmas in July” featuring a timeless story of hope birthed (even) in tragedy, a theme exquisitely packaged, I think, in the Vladimir Nabokov short story “Christmas.” A story, I think, that beautifully mirrors another…
Continue reading

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The Face–and Soul–of Abuse, Part 2

Phyllis Nissila

I am posting on this topic again today because, in light of the revelations by several women who, they allege, were taken advantage of sexually, at best, raped, at worst, by a very famous celebrity back in the day, one more thing occurs to me.

Whether or not the allegations are true (for this is not my point, here, and justice needs to ensue), what is true is the fact that something happened to so many women from such diverse areas and eras to have come forth. Continue reading

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Merely Well Behaved—or Beloved and Gifted? (On Joseph of Genesis)

Phyllis Nissila


I have heard yet another preacher expound on the superior character of Joseph of Old Testament fame who was betrayed by his brothers, unjustly accused by his master’s wife, imprisoned and then forgotten by two who could have helped him get out (see Genesis 37-50). Nevertheless, he consistently responded by taking the moral high ground.

The preacher insisted Joseph never complained; he never reacted imprudently to injustice.

And we ought to do the same while we wait for our own answers to prayer.

Indeed, perhaps our wait for God’s provision would be shorter if we, like Joseph, always mind our P’s and Q’s.

For that young man, it was a mere thirteen years, the preacher noted and estimated as a brief period of time, from when his brothers threw him in the pit until he was appointed to prominence in Pharaoh’s court.

For some of us, on the other hand, he noted, perhaps our bad behavior/attitude is not only what hinders our progress it may even be what delays God’s actions on our behalf—or worse, what stills His hand of deliverance and blessing altogether.

For we ought to, he noted, at all times, despite the cruelties of critics and circumstances, choose the high moral ground ourselves, react rightly in adversity, and then we will see God work on our behalf and end our troubles, whether they be self- or other-inflicted, whether caused by circumstance or happenstance.

Sigh. Continue reading

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The Face–and Soul–of Abuse

Cindy Burrell at http://www.hurtbylove.com/the-face-of-abuse/#respond has linked the video that I have re-posted below. Her blog post is titled: “The Face of Abuse.” Her site and her ministry provide much help to people “on the other side” of videos such as this, as well as to those new to dealing with this nightmare.

The video clip is a powerful testimony to the reality of overt abuse.

But what the viewer doesn’t see is the damage caused by the covert abuse, the young woman’s undoubted loss of safety, confidence, hope, self-esteem, perhaps faith in God, in others (certainly the “other” who did these things to her); her dreams of love, and even, as she implies, her dreams of a tomorrow as her core erodes in the onslaught against her, and terror reaches critical mass. Continue reading

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