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Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Christmas Story

In our new community, there is a women's Bible study group that meets in our clubhouse. Our leader is a passionate follower of Christ who had served as a missionary in Central America. Right before Christmas last year, she shared a story she had written about an answered pray for a fresh perspective on the story of Jesus' birth. The story led me to also see Jesus' birth from a new angle, and I asked to share it with you.

Essay written by Charlotte Rich, shared with permission:

Philippians 2:5-11

It was Christmas time in the small Central American country and Helen, who had been serving there as a missionary for five years, was packed into the crowded old bus on her way to the capital city. Usually she bought what she needed for the special season at the little market in the small mountain town where she lived. But at this time of year, she needed some things that only could be found in the much larger city market. It was a trip of some hours on the narrow winding road. As she was jostled back and forth, crushed between an Indian mother nursing her baby and an older man balancing a cage of chickens on his lap, she began to ponder again on the real meaning of this holy time. Only that morning she had asked God to help her understand and appreciate the incarnation. For so many years had she read the Luke account of the birth of Christ until it had become so familiar that she could quote it by heart. But, in the process, it had become so commonplace and, she hated to admit, a bit boring.

Helen’s thoughts were brought to an abrupt halt as the bus pulled up in front of the market. She could have known where they were if she had been blindfolded; the smell revealed the location. The front entrance was marked by a huge mound of garbage that had been there for several days. The people who frequented this market didn’t seem to mind the stench at all; it was just the way it was. To Helen, whose little house, although meager was always clean, the odors were almost more than she could bear.

The “market” was really a conglomeration of small open stalls rented by vendors from miles around who made their living selling their own kinds of wares—beans, chickens, tortillas, baskets, ponchos, carved wooden souvenirs, clap pots, soup, rice, various fruits and vegetables—and each stall was manned by a seller who tried to gain attention of the buyers by proclaiming the benefits of his product. These stalls were crowded together as tightly as Helen had been on the bus. Many stalls had a small canopy, made of wood or cardboard or cloth, covering the front of their booth to protect both their merchandise and the buyer from the sun or rain. However, the aisles between the booths did not have a roof over them, and the space was open to the sky and the weather.

Christmas time is rainy season in Central America, and rain had been heavy for days. Although it was not raining now, overhead could be seen heavy dark clouds, and the rain had already done its work—there was mud everywhere.

Helen’s senses were bombarded by unpleasant stimuli. A few skinny, starving dogs could be seen crawling beneath the tables hoping to pick up some scraps and refuse that had been dropped, while at the same time dodging the kicks of young and old alike. The meat hanging on hooks ready to be sold was covered with flies, and the hands that chopped the meat were unclean, with dirt-lined fingernails. Most of the vendors slept on their property to keep from being robbed. There were no sanitation facilities and they did the best they could to deal with their situation, but the result was a mixture of “people” odors along with all the other smells.

Helen went from booth to booth bargaining with the owners, amazed at the way these hard-working people accepted their lot. As she stopped at the stall of a man and his wife and small daughter, she watched as the young unkempt child, maybe about eight years old, walked around the outside of the stall. She had no shoes. Her tattered dress didn’t seem warm enough. An apron with a large front pocket was tied around her waist; inside the pocket she carried both vegetables and change. She walked through the crowd and sold her wares until her pocket was full. Then she came back to her home stall to unload the money and gather more vegetables to sell.

While Helen was observing this, she heard a small sound coming from under the counter of the family’s stall. It sounded like a kitten and Helen wondered how such a poor family could feed an extra mouth—and an animal, at that. The mother reached under the counter and pulled out a cardboard box. When Helen leaned over to look at the kitten, she was surprised to see a small dark-haired baby wrapped in grimy swaddling rags. The mother picked up her baby and began to nurse it from a soiled breast. A feeling of pity and distaste washed over Helen. That poor child! It was born into a world of poverty and filth; dirt and uncleanness were everywhere. She wanted to grab up the baby and take it home to give it a bath. What’s more, she wanted to get home and take a bath. Everywhere she looked was dirt, and she couldn’t handle any more. She made her purchase and hurried back to the bus. As she made her way past the garbage dump, she tried not to breathe, but she could not hold her breath forever, and that smell blanketed the area.

Finally, the bus started, and she was glad to be on her way. Oh, she felt so dirty. How thankful she was that she was not born in such a situation. It wouldn’t be long before she could enter a clean house, take a hot shower, and slip in-between clean sheets. She could hardly wait to be free of the mire and stench that were hers just from being in such a filthy environment.

Suddenly, Helen’s thought processes stopped! It was as if God opened a window into her mind and light was streaming through. Jesus was just like that baby in the box! He left a place of holiness and glory—a place with no sin of any kind—the pure, unsullied, hallowed, spotless presence of His father in Heaven and took the form of a human child to be born in an evil world full of, and surrounded by, sin. It was like the filth and stench of the market. Although no sin was in Jesus, everywhere he looked for all His life there would be sin—it was everywhere. Oh, how he must have missed Heaven! And, at the end of His life on earth, He took all that sin on Himself on the cross. And He did it voluntarily. Helen bowed her head and humbly thanked Jesus for all He had left and endured for her. How could she ever repay Him? The incarnation would never be the same for her. God had answered her prayer of the morning and had taught her a lesson that she prayed she would never forget.

As you read this story, I hope you pictured in your mind the sights and sounds and smells!  Imagine this lovely woman, raised in the rich comforts of the United States, being thrust into this other world—a world of filth! Why? Because of love. She chose to show the love of Christ to those of a different world.

Now imagine Jesus thrust into the sin-stained world we live in. Why? Because of love. There is no greater love. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Christmas Gift to You

Our church played this video Sunday morning.  It touched me.  I just had to share!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas on the Farm

Better late than never...  Thought I'd share some of my Christmas preparations and sights with you.

While digging through some boxes in the basement, I found these old poinsettia and holly sprigs.  Since this grapevine tree gets so much weather, I figured they'd be durable enough to dress it up for Christmas.


This love-seat rocker faces the drive, so I decided hanging the wreath on it would brighten this corner of the porch.

We have decided that this tree we planted last year will be our official outdoor Christmas tree.  It's a bit bigger than the one I had lights on before, so new lights are on the list for next year.
Of course, Sadie always has to supervise Mr J's projects, but she's not alone today.

Even the shrubs are dressed up for the holidays!
I love my fiber-optic tree... no ornaments.  I just plug it in and enjoy the colors.  And I can see the outdoor tree through the window.

Mr J's lodge has an annual Christmas party with Santa.  Grands #1 and #2 are too old for this kind of stuff, but #3 and #4 love it!
And they still love camping out in the living room!

The older girls love exploring the woods.  I think they made the mistake of letting Sadie lead the way and came out in a big mess of hedge apple trees... OUCH!

...and no gate!  Luckily Mr J keeps a wide path cut all along the fences.

Even though we didn't have a white Christmas, the days following were spotted with snow showers.  Here's one we drove into taking the grands home.  I took this because it drives Mr J crazy when I pull out the camera in the car!

I agree with Dorothy... There's no place like home.  I love our driveway at night.  I'm always looking for the deer in the headlights.

The snow seems to be getting deeper as we get closer to the creek.  I can tell we're getting close to the house...
I can see the little Christmas tree.  And since we've no place to go...
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Non-white Christmas

I really, really wanted a white Christmas.  The tiny bit of snow we had a few days ago is all melted.  Today's forecast was rain, followed by rain.  I was watching the drizzle when suddenly the sun shone brightly.  I ran to the other end of the house with my camera...

I guess God felt bad about me having no snow.

I think a full rainbow on Christmas is kinda cool!

Merry Christmas to all...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Think INside the Box...

...a simple way to make a difference.

If you read my past blog posts, you know that I advocate helping the homeless and the poor.  On my sidebar are a couple of links to organizations that do just that.... one large, one small. 

This is the dining hall where Target: Dayton! feeds the homeless and poor.  They also witness to them about Jesus.  Click the link on my sidebar to learn more about their ministry.

Here are some of the hats,scarves and gloves that Sandy collected for the homeless that live under a bridge in her city.  Check out her blog for the Bridge Project

At my former job, some co-workers and I adopted a family for Christmas.  We went through another employee's church that organized families' needs.  We used our coffee pot money and donations to go on a shopping spree.  This particular single mom was able to give her kids a wonderful Christmas!  And the fun we had shopping for those kids was unmatched by anything else that holiday!

One year, this same group took up a collection for the Dayton food bank.  I called the woman in charge, and she told me that the things they needed most were toiletries; toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, etc.  After I got it OK'd through the powers that be I ran off flyers to hang on bulletin boards throughout the plant.  As we filled huge boxes, we would deliver them after work.   I remember one guy, after telling his dentist about our project, came in with tons of toothbrushes!

Do you work in a place that could team up the same way?  Most people are willing to contribute to such a collection, if someone takes the first step in organizing it.  Maybe you could be that someone...
In a recent post, The Meaning of Christmas, Rae, over at Weather Vane, tells of a yearly tradition her family has of filling a box for a local shelter.  Even the grandkids get in on the act!  It's such an easy thing to do.  Imagine if every family you knew did that!  Imagine your local shelter receiving hundreds
of boxes filled with essentials for their clients.

There are many ways to help that need not be expensive or time consuming.  Please, whatever you do, don't think it's too late because Christmas is right around the corner...  Their needs aren't over when the decorations come down.   As a matter of fact, donations often pick up around Christmas time, when people are feeling the Christmas spirit of giving, but drop off steeply following the new year. 
Most food banks are facing huge crises because of the staggering unemployment levels.  You don't even have to buy food and haul it to them...  You can send them a check.

I think that the best way to make a big impact, is to recruit others.  That is the purpose behind these posts.  Hopefully, many will be inspired to do something small, and together, all those things will build a mountain of love.  Won't you join in?

I would love to hear from you on any traditions you have that make a difference to the needy in your world.  Do you have a simple way to give that you would like to share?





 Who's jolly and cute,

Wearing  a beard and

a  red flannel suit,

 And if he is chuckling

and  laughing away,

 While flying around

in  a miniature sleigh,

With  eight tiny reindeer

to  pull him along,

Then  let's face it...

Your eggnog's too strong!  

Merry  Christmas 

and a  Happy 2O10

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Christmas Poem

I don't know where this poem originated.  It has been around the internet for quite a while.  Nonetheless, it is well worth rereading!
Merry Christmas to our service men and women.
We thank you!

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
 Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said, "It’s really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas Gram always remembers.
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of Nam,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures - he's sure got her smile."
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
"I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.
So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."