Christmas Traditions

I absolutely love spending time with my family during Christmas. I love the heavenly scents of baking, the boisterous giggles during games (when my youngest will play with me), the crackle and pops from the fireplace as we all cuddle under blankets watching White Christmas together quoting lines as Bing speaks them. The moments when new family members get to join in our traditions and see them just fall into the comfortable bit we have made and want them to feel welcome. These are the family moments that are such a gift to my heart. You can’t wrap them and they are worth more than gold.

Christmas service, specifically children’s service, has been my most watery part of the season for years. Quite possibly because watching my children worship the Lord so openly…its like my soul is on the outside. I become completely undone. Its not pride. I don’t even know the word for it. It feels like I am witness to part of what heaven will be like. My children, worshiping at the feet of Jesus. Even now I am choking up.

Last year, because my youngest is height challenged, she was allowed to stay in children’s choir longer than others. Its good for them, having another child who can follow rules and keep the littler ones in line. This year even though it seems that height was still not gifted to my baby girl, she didn’t have time to join the choir. So this was the first year I had no children in the Choir at church. Yes, that was a sad sigh you heard as you were reading this. Was it still magical? Honestly, I had no intention of it being enchanting at all. I was a little sulky. I know, it is about Jesus. I just missed openly that it was missing one of my minis.

I sat in the back. Not to be a stinker. I really felt the momma’s needed the front photo spots and the family that came to see the kiddos should have the good seats, not the lady reminiscing of years past. Our church changed it up this year. They went back to how it used to be before my kids had the opportunity to join. It was a full Christmas play! It had every single child that wanted to be in the choir, not just the select few! It was glorious!!

There were 170 children singing or acting out the story of Jesus birth.

One thing I have truly missed from our old church and have always thought was so sacred, was the candlelight carols. There is just something so serene having a congregation in dull flickering light singing Silent Night or Away In A Manger. It is like a Christmas hug from your favorite grandma. This year our church incorporated a version of candlelight in our sanctuary. I understand how dangerous this is, but its ethereal.

This year someone found battery operated candles. Everyone including the littles got candles. To be in a room, surrounded by hundreds of believers, men, women, children, all singing in somber tones with subtle little lights lifted high for the Lord…it was something my heart did not realize how much it had missed. It was more than a peek into heaven.

These are the things that make Christmas for me: Faith, food and family. I pray you have special things like this that just make the season of celebrating the birth of Christ a joy for you and those whom you love the most.

When Christmas isn’t sparkly and joyful…

Elijah was alone in the desert. All by himself, in the desert, alone. I am talking no nothing around. There was no corner market, no coffee shop, no park to watch kiddos play…there was absolutely no Wi-Fi signal at all. He was in a place so removed from society uber eats could not even find him. He was so isolated that for him to eat, birds brought him food!

I have lived in this spot. I don’t mean literally in the desert being catered by ravens. I mean hurting so deep, in a way that kept me so far emotionally from the world around me. It’s a dark, desolate, empty and deserted place. You feel so alone. You kind of embrace the aloneness because you are just so incredibly broken.

Sadly, I know that at Christmas time more people seem to find that secluded spot. There are many reasons that you can find yourself there, being saved a seat in a dark corner of rejection and unworthiness. I have personally been fortunate enough to even have Disgusted seated at my right and Unneeded on my left for dinner partners. Lucky me. There are many reason you might find yourself there too. Maybe the death of a loved one, loss of a friendship, adulterous spouse, reduction of workforce, sickness, a breakup, moving, overload of bills, watching someone you love walking through something painful…so many different paths to get you to the same place of withdrawing.

Friend, don’t allow this new normal to rob you of your intimacy with God and what He could show you in the days to come. Whisper the truth to yourself in these difficult times, to remember that ultimately, this season, though now different, still brings with it ETERNAL HOPE in the person of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes God brings you to this place, so you will remember He is there for you. He is greater than any hurt you can imagine. I am NOT discounting any of your pain. It is 100% REAL and I KNOW IT HURTS LIKE HECK!!! I know I felt like I was drowning, truly drowning with my feet planted firmly on the earth. Yet there I was gasping for breath, dragging myself to possible moments in an attempt to inhale even a small sliver of life into my soul. No one noticed. My heart fell further. Of all those people I had been there for, not one could see that I was dying right in front of their eyes. I felt more desolate than I had before. I was forsaken in the overpowering pounding oceanic waves of my mind. No one was coming to save me. Have you ever been there too? Maybe somewhere similar? Are you there now?

You are not alone.

Jesus sees you and your pain.

Please hear me. Jesus knows exactly where you are. HE CAN SAVE YOU. Lift your hands. Reach up to Him. Share your tears and sadness. He can take it. He wants to take this pain from your heart. He wants to heal your wounds.

The holiday may not look exactly as you might want it to, but please don’t allow grief or bitterness to steal joy from you. YOU ARE LOVED AND WANTED IMMENSELY!! Your real Christmas gift was born in a humble stable to homeless parents. He was honestly hated by many, felt alone in a crowd, knew betrayal and loss. He CHOSE to die for YOU so YOU could live with Him FOREVER!! If this is you, please reach out. If this is someone you know, please hold them tight. Share Jesus with them and bring them light into their darkness.

Please if you don’t feel that you can speak to someone you know and you are going through a truly dark season, call this number and have your feelings heard and validated. You are important and your feelings do matter. People do care. 1-800-273-8255

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Don’t Forget Jesus

Christmas is a special time,

To reflect on Jesus Christ.

The wonder of his lowly birth,

Brings meaning to our lives.

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There really is no other reason,

We celebrate this day.

The birth of God’s precious son,

And the life he willingly gave.

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But so much seems to distract us,

In the busyness of our lives,

We loose our focus in all the happenings

Not knowing we leave out Christ.

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We loose sight of the true meaning

As we endlessly rush about,

Trying to find that perfect gift,

Seems to cloud our Savior out.

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We need to stop and reflect awhile,

Remembering our precious Lord.

His birth, His life and sacrifice

And all that He stands for.

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For though the world may celebrate,

It seems, though, for other reasons,

Lets keep in mind that Jesus Christ

Is the reason for the season!

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By M S Lowndes

themessiahsmanger

Have the most blessed day my friend!

Grab Your Kleenex!! This Christmas Story is Precious!!

CHRISTMAS AT THE GAS STATION
The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn’t been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn’t hate Christmas, just couldn’t find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last h…our and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.
Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. “Thank you, but I don’t mean to intrude,” said the stranger. “I see you’re busy, I’ll just go.” “Not without something hot in your belly.” George said.
He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. “It ain’t much, but it’s hot and tasty. Stew … Made it myself. When you’re done, there’s coffee and it’s fresh.”
Just at that moment he heard the “ding” of the driveway bell. “Excuse me, be right back,” George said. There in the driveway was an old ’53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. “Mister can you help me!” said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. “My wife is with child and my car is broken.” George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead. “You ain’t going in this thing,” George said as he turned away.
“But Mister, please help …” The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. “Here, take my truck,” he said. “She ain’t the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good.”
George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. “Glad I gave ’em the truck, their tires were shot too. That ‘ol truck has brand new .” George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. “Well, at least he got something in his belly,” George thought.
George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn’t cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. “Well, shoot, I can fix this,” he said to
himself. So he put a new one on.
“Those tires ain’t gonna get ’em through the winter either.” He took the snow treads off of his wife’s old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn’t going to drive the car anyway.
As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, “Please help me.”
George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. “Pressure to stop the bleeding,” he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. “Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin’,” he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.
“Something for pain,” George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. “These ought to work.” He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. “You hang in there, I’m going to get you an ambulance.”
The phone was dead. “Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car.” He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.
He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. “Thanks,” said the officer. “You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area.”
George sat down beside him, “I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain’t gonna leave you.” George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. “Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through ‘ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain.”
George got up and poured a cup of coffee. “How do you take it?” he asked. “None for me,” said the officer. “Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain’t got no donuts.” The officer laughed and winced at the same time.
The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. “Give me all your cash! Do it now!” the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.
“That’s the guy that shot me!” exclaimed the officer.
“Son, why are you doing this?” asked George, “You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt.”
The young man was confused. “Shut up old man, or I’ll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!”
The cop was reaching for his gun. “Put that thing away,” George said to the cop, “we got one too many in here now.”
He turned his attention to the young man. “Son, it’s Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain’t much but it’s all I got. Now put that pea shooter away.”
George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. “I’m not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son,” he went on. “I’ve lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week.”
George handed the gun to the cop. “Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can.”
He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. “Sometimes we do stupid things.” George handed the young man a cup of coffee. “Bein’ stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin’ in here with a gun ain’t the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we’ll sort this thing out.”
The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. “Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I’m sorry officer.” “Shut up and drink your coffee ” the cop said. George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. “Chuck! You ok?” one of the cops asked the wounded officer.
“Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?”
“GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?” the other cop asked as he approached the young man.
Chuck answered him, “I don’t know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran.”
George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.
“That guy work here?” the wounded cop continued. “Yep,” George said, “just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job.”
The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, “Why?”
Chuck just said, “Merry Christmas boy … and you too, George, and thanks for everything.”
“Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems.”
George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. “Here you go, something for the little woman. I don’t think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day.”
The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. “I can’t take this,” said the young man. “It means something to you.”
“And now it means something to you,” replied George. “I got my memories. That’s all I need.”
George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. “Here’s something for that little man of yours.”
The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.
“And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too,” George said. “Now git home to your family.”
The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. “I’ll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good.”
“Nope. I’m closed Christmas day,” George said. “See ya the day after.”
George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. “Where’d you come from? I thought you left?”
“I have been here. I have always been here,” said the stranger. “You say you don’t celebrate Christmas. Why?”
“Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn’t see what all the bother was. Puttin’ up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin’ cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn’t the same by myself and besides I was gettin’ a little chubby.”
The stranger put his hand on George’s shoulder. “But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.
The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. “That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man.”
George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. “And how do you know all this?” asked the old man.
“Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again.”
The stranger moved toward the door. “If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned.”
George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.
“You see, George … it’s My birthday. Merry Christmas.”
George fell to his knees and replied, “Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus”
Merry Christmas!!

(Author Unknown)
This story is better than any greeting card !!

. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:11-14)

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND GOD BLESS!