2015.....the CHRISTmas that wasn't. It wasn't a "normal" or "usual" CHRISTmas because I spent 12 days of it in a hospital room with my mother and 10 more days with her in hospice. Yet...it was never really MORE CHRISTmas than any CHRISTmas I'd ever spent before.
You see that year I'd just finished decorating my home on December 3 when I received a phone call from the assisted living facility where my mother lived. She was being rushed by ambulance to the hospital with breathing difficulty. She had done this before and I thought a day or two in the hospital and we'd be back home and I would resume my usual CHRISTmas activities as planned. But, God had other plans.
That year there was no CHRISTmas shopping except online. There were no parties. There was no baking and delivering goodies to friends and family. There were no lunches and gift exchanges with friends. I did not get to see my granddaughter sing in her CHRISTmas program nor attend my son-in-love's graduation. But I can honestly say I never felt closer to God in my whole life than I did those 22 days. He never left my side. He met me in ways that are hard even now to describe. He blessed me and comforted me through friends, through my family and even through hospital staff. He loved on me and carried me when I felt I could not carry on.
I will never forget the night I drove Mother to Hospice House. I will never forget how it felt to drive into that parking lot and look at that building, knowing that Mother would never leave, this was her last stop. It was so hard. But the staff He provided were so kind, so caring and so understanding of all that we were going through. He continued to minister to me there just as He had in the hospital.
My daughter had to work CHRISTmas day that year, so we were celebrating CHRISTmas on CHRISTmas eve morning instead of CHRISTmas day. I had not bought Mother a gift yet since we had been in the hospital. So I found myself out the night before CHRISTmas Eve trying to find a gift for her. I could not NOT give her a gift on her last CHRISTmas. But what do you buy someone who is dying???
I bought her a gown, mint green with tiny snowmen on it that came with soft pink footies. Early CHRISTmas Eve morning I took them to her. Her eyes were closed but I described them to her and brushed the soft footies against her cheek. She smiled and said "Mmmmmm". I told her I'd be back in a little while and I left.
During that whole month I had so many precious friends who ministered to me. A precious friend who I'd known since we were 10, who had often helped me with Mother when I had to be away and who had always been able to make Mother laugh, had offered to come and sit with her while I did CHRISTmas with my family. That is a true friend!! It meant so much to me and I felt so blessed to have someone who loved my mother to do that for me.
I returned after we had our CHRISTmas with our family because I knew that her time was drawing near. It was a long night, a stormy night of thunder and lightening. Time seemed to almost come to a standstill the next day.
At 4:00 pm CHRISTmas day, Mother graduated into the presence of the Lord. She got to wish Him Happy Birthday in person!! As difficult as it was to say goodbye to her, the REASON FOR THE SEASON was never more real! Because JESUS was born that first CHRISTmas morning in Bethlehem in a manger of hay, I will see my Mother again one day!!! We are only separated for a season. One day I will join her in Heaven and hear that heavenly choir that sang that first CHRISTmas morning.
So although each CHRISTmas is a little bittersweet because I am reminded of the hard days of that very different CHRISTmas, it also reminds me how grateful I am that JESUS is the REASON FOR THE SEASON. I'm so glad that He came, so glad that God loved me so much that He sent JESUS to pay my sin debt. I'm so glad that my mother trusted in Him and received His gift of eternal life and that so did I. Because of that He is more the REASON FOR MY SEASON than ever before!!!
Two thousand years ago, the most glorious event in human history occurred. Though we are not sure of the exact date, the Roman empire under Constantine decided to officially celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th. We now associate that date with festivities, colors, lights, trees and parties. But this date means so much more. It even means more than just a baby in a manger.
Time has been measured by it (it’s where BC ends and AD begins). It is the divine intrusion into history. It is where God invaded time and space in the person of the second member of the Trinity, in order to bring about life and hope and salvation for you and me.
Most people normally don’t view Titus 2 as a Christmas passage, but this chapter is fundamentally a Christmas passage. Verse 11 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” There it is. That’s Christmas.
Christmas is grace in a nutshell—or, rather, in a manger filled with straw.
Most of us don't appreciate grace because we have forgotten what God has done. We
have forgotten that He gave Himself to redeem us from our sins and purify us for good works. Friend, you don’t do good works to get saved, but you are to do them because you are thankful for the grace of God that has saved you.
This Christmas, you have a decision to make. It’s not about toys or gifts of what you’re going to have under the tree. It’s a decision about God’s grace. What are you going to do with the goodness of God that He bestowed on you this past year and that you look forward to in the year that is to come?
Yes, God IS love. And He sent JESUS to us as His love gift to us on that first CHRISTmas in Bethlehem. It is our job to pass it along to others.
This story truly embodies that and I hope it will bless you as much as it blessed me!!
What would you do...you make the
choice. Don't look for a punch line, there isn't one. Read it
anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?
At a fundraising dinner for a school
that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of
the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all
who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he
offered a question:
'When not interfered with by outside
influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection. Yet my
son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot
understand things as other children do. Where it the natural order of
things in my son?
The audience was stilled by the
The father continued. 'I believe
that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled
comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature
presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that
Then he told the following story:
Shay and I had walked past a park
where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you
think they’ll let me play?' I knew that most of the boys would not
want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also
understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a
much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by
others in spite of his handicaps.
I approached one of the boys on the
field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy
looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and
the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and
we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'
Shay struggled over to the team's
bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a
small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at
my son being accepted.
In the bottom of the eighth inning,
Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.
In the top of the ninth inning, Shay
put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits
came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on
the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the
In the bottom of the ninth inning,
Shay's team scored again.
Now, with two outs and the bases
loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled
to be next at bat.
At this juncture, do they let Shay
bat and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shay was given the
bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay
didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with
However, as Shay stepped up to the
plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting
winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to
lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.
The first pitch came and Shay swung
clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to
toss the ball softly towards Shay.
As the pitch came in, Shay swung at
the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.
The game would now be over.
The pitcher picked up the soft
grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.
Shay would have been out and that
would have been the end of the game.
Instead, the pitcher threw the ball
right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all teammates.
Everyone from the stands and both
teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first!
Run to first!'
Never in his life had Shay ever run
that far, but he made it to first base.
He scampered down the baseline,
wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run
Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly
ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.
By the time Shay rounded towards
second base, the right fielder had the ball. The smallest guy on
their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.
He could have thrown the ball to the
second baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's
intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over
the third baseman's head.
Shay ran toward third base
deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward
All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay,
Shay, all the Way Shay'
Shay reached third base because the
opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of
third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!
Shay, run to third!'
As Shay rounded third, the boys from
both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay,
run home! Run home!'
Shay ran to home, stepped on the
plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the
game for his team.
from Sports USA
'That day', said the father softly
with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams
helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.
Shay didn't make it to another
summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero
and making me so happy and coming home and seeing his Mother
tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!
The first choice that was made in this
story is not highlighted. It is the choice these parents made to
have Shay. They could have chosen to terminate the pregnancy and not
have brought this “handicapped child” into the world. But,
thankfully they did not. Instead they received a priceless gift in
Shay. Though the world would term their son “handicapped”, they
would without a doubt call him a priceless gift!
The young men on these two teams each
made choices that day. Probably the first one who allowed him to
play set in motion the reaction of the rest of the team. What if
that young man the father approached had scorned Shay with his
obvious disabilities, and said “No way!” That would have been
the end of the story. But, because this young man had a heart, he
chose to take a risk and let Shay play. By his example of
selflessness, the others were challenged to do the same. And that
day, a young life was forever changed. Doubtless there were many
lives touched that day by what took place on that field.
Shay’s presence precipitated a lesson
in the gift of love. I Corinthians 13 says:
“Love suffers long and is
kind. Love envies not. Love does not put itself on display nor is
it puffed up. Love does not seek its own way.”
Jesus was our perfect example of love.
He lived out that description every day he walked on this earth. God
gave to us the gift of Love when He gave us JESUS CHRIST! Who can
you share that love gift with today?
9. D. The word means “army” - literally thousands. Now, since there was a “multitude” of the heavenly army” (hosts), there could easily have been from 10,000 - 100,000 angels there that night! No wonder the shepherds were “sore afraid"!
10. D. Another trick question. There is always snow on Mt. Hermon.
11. C. Frankincense was used in the temple worship of the Lord. It represents his deity because he is truly God born in human flesh.
12. C. The word “Magi” literally means “star-gazers”. Although there is no Biblical record of exactly who they were or their point of origin, I personally believe that they were descendants of the “wise men” of Babylon. I believe that God, in His great providence, used Daniel (while he was in captivity in Babylon), to teach these men about future events - including the birth of the Savior of the world. Read Daniel 5:11 - Daniel was put in charge of these men!
13. D. Herod was buried with over 150 lbs. of Myrrh wrapped in his burial clothes.
14. E. We don’t know. They were magi, not wise men - but the Bible doesn’t give the number. Many people assume that there were three because of the three gifts. However, in ancient times these men usually traveled in caravans of ten to twelve, along with a full entourage for protection.
16. B. Read Matthew 2:11 When the Shepherds found Jesus (Luke 2), he was a “babe” in a manger. The Greek word used in Luke 2 is for a “newborn baby”. However, by the time the Magi appeared, Jesus had been moved from the manger to a house (verse 11) and the Greek word used in Matthew is for “toddler or young child”. He was probably somewhere between 12-24 months old.
17. C. Read Matthew 2:9 Most people miss this question. The star did not stay stationary over the manger or the house. This verse makes it clear that the star moved “in front” of the magi and guided them till it “stood over where the young child was.”
19. G. Isn’t it amazing how God divinely inspired these two gospel writers to write His exact words, but he used their interests and professions to recall different aspects of Jesus’ birth. Matthew, a tax collector, records the genealogy of Jesus (used for taxation) and the “magi” - men of means from a foreign country. Luke, a physician, records the pregnancy and birth.
20. E. Joseph wants to “put her away” secretly and Mary left town to see her cousin. Matthew 1:19 and Luke 1:39, 56
21. E. “There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus... everyone into his own city... “ (Luke 2:1-5).
Isn't it amazing the details we can overlook or take for granted?! Also, familiarity can breed laziness when it comes to the Bible. We can so easily allow Hollywood, greeting card companies, gift vendors and others to paint our picture of CHRISTmas, instead of getting our facts straight from God's Word. And, we not only do this with CHRISTmas, but also with other Biblical events as well. With the plethora of devotionals on the market today, many read those and only those for their Bible reading. As good as many of those are....and I have quite a few that I like to read on a regular basis....they are NOT a substitute for God's Word.
As my friend, Iva May, shared, we can easily become mal-nourished spiritually if we persist in this kind of diet:
"Supplements, Substitutions, and Sustenance
Vitamins are called supplements for a reason. They were never meant to substitute for a well-balanced meal, but to replace small, but important, pieces that may be missing from the meal. Similarly, the writings of Christian authors cannot displace the steady diet of the story of God’s interaction with man—of God’s Word. Yet, many Christ-followers subsist on a diet of man’s books instead of God’s. It’s no wonder that many are spiritually malnourished. Throughout Israel’s history they abandoned healthy spiritual eating. Don't be like Israel. Be healthy. Join the Bible Literacy Movement! www.chronologicalbibleteaching.com"
Don't be misled or malnourished this CHRISTmas. Open your Bible and read the true story for yourself. The Bible is God's story and one we need to immerse ourselves in every day in order to truly know Him!
Today marks one week until CHRISTmas?! Are you ready?
Many of us have read and heard the CHRISTmas story from the BIBLE, Luke 2 version, for many years. We've seen it depicted on CHRISTmas cards, nativity scenes, in children's plays and church pageants.
So how well do you really know the story?? We're going to take a little quiz today. No peaking...no reading the story...just from memory, answer the questions below. I'll post the answers tomorrow!
1. Joseph was originally from...
E. None of the above
2. What does the Bible say that the innkeeper said to Mary and Joseph?
A. “There is no room in the inn.”
B. “I have a stable you can use.”
C. “Come back later and I should have some vacancies.”
D. Both A and B
E. None of the above
3. A manger is a...
A. Stable for domestic animals
B. Wooden hay storage bin
C. Feeding trough
4. Which animals does the Bible say were present at Jesus’ birth?
A. Cows, sheep, goats
B. Cows, donkeys, goats
C. Sheep and goats only
D. Miscellaneous barnyard animals
E. None of the above
5. Who saw the star in the east?
B. Mary and Joseph
C. Three kings
D. Both A and C
E. None of the above
6. According to the Bible, how did Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem?
D. Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey
E. Horse-drawn chariot
F. Who knows?
7. How many angels spoke to the shepherds?
D. None of the above
8. What did the angels say/sing?
A. “Glory to God in the highest, etc.”
C. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”
D. “Joy the world, the Lord is come”
E. “Glory to the newborn King”
9. What is a heavenly host?
A. The angel at the gate of heaven
B. The angel who serves refreshments in heaven
C. An angel choir
D. An angel army
E. None of the above
10. There was snow that first Christmas...
A. Only in Bethlehem
B. All over Israel
C. Nowhere in Israel
D. Somewhere in Israel
11. What is frankincense?
A. A precious metal
B. A precious fabric
C. A precious perfume
D. None of the above
12. In Matthew, what does “wise men” or “Magi” refer to?
A. Men of the educated class
B. Eastern kings
C. Men who studied the stars
13. What is myrrh?
A. Middle Eastern money
B. A drink
C. An easily shaped metal
D. A spice used for burying people
E. None of the above
14. How many wise men came to see Jesus?
E. We don’t know.
15. Where did the wise men find Jesus?
A. In a manger
B. In a stable
C. In Nazareth
D. In Saudi Arabia
E. In a house
F. None of the above
16. When the wise men found Jesus he was...
A. A babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
B. A young child
C. A boy in the temple
D. A grown man
17. The “star in the east” that the wise men followed...
A. Stayed in the same place their entire journey
B. Disappeared and reappeared
C. Moved ahead of them and stopped over the place where Jesus was
D. Was just a mirage
E. None of the above
18. The wise men stopped in Jerusalem...
A. To inform Herod about Jesus
B. To find out where Jesus was
C. To ask about the star
D. To buy presents
E. None of the above
19. Where do we find the Christmas story?
E. All of the above
F. Only A and B
G. Only A and C
H. Only A, B and C
20. When Joseph found Mary was pregnant, what happened?
A. They got married
B. Joseph wanted to break the engagement
C. Mary left town for three months
D. A and B
E. B and C
21. Who told (made) Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem?
A. The angel chorus
B. Mary’s mother
D. The shepherds
E. Caesar Augustus
I am married to my high school sweetheart, have two precious children...a wonderful son and a sweet daughter-in-love; and a lovely daughter and a great son-in-love....I am truly blessed! But then God has seen fit to double those blessings by also giving us 2 precious, beautiful, adorable granddaughters and the happiest, sweetest grandson in the world. GOD IS GOOD! I have worn many hats in my life, but none more rewarding than being a wife, mother and grandmother. I have loved writing all my life and also enjoy scrapbooking, which allows me to both be creative with photos AND journal to create a legacy for our family. I am what is known as true GRITS...grown and raised in the South. My blood runs ORANGE for the University of Tennessee VOLS but still will cheer for the University of Memphis (as long as they are not playing UT). Teaching women to pursue a passionate relationship with the Lord is the delight of my life. I thank God for giving me that opportunity to be used by Him and to put Him on display.