Monday, December 19, 2016

A Christmas Story

Finishing my Christmas decorating a couple of weeks ago, I pulled out my treasured Nativity set and started to unwrap the figurines, absently listening to my husband and son, Greg, talk. As I unwrapped each piece, I set it on an occasional table holding a small Christmas tree, intending to place them on the mantle when I finished.

"That looks good, Mom," Greg said, and our grandson, Adam, agreed with him. I started to say I was going to move them, but then I realized how pretty they looked under the green branches with beads draped in scallops above them. It lent a touch of royalty to the scene of regal wise men offering their precious gifts to the newborn King, so I decided to leave them there. The tiny white lights reminded me of stars in that holy night sky.

But when it was time to unplug the lights from their extension cord, my hand bumped the tallest wise man, knocking it over onto the table ledge, and off went his head! I found it under an ottoman and hoped it could be glued back on. A couple nights later, another wise man lost his head! This time it was not so easy to re-align the head to the shoulders! After much wasted gluing effort, I put them away with what pieces I could find.

"How are you at gluing?" I asked my grandson next time they were over. He looked a little skeptical, but said he would take the figurines home and work on them. Last night Greg showed me that he had finished one of them. It's back under the tree, the imperfections covered by a mini-scarf around the neck. The other one is still a work in progress. I solved the problem of unplugging the lights by just leaving them on!

This little incident reminded me of people who are broken and sometimes cast aside by the world. But if they meet and accept Jesus, who is not a babe in a manger anymore, but One Who makes whole, they can be restored. Though they may have scars, cracks and imperfections, these are covered by the love of Jesus, just as his blood covers their sins. And what better time to come to Him than at Christmas? The lights are still on! He never unplugs them, for the light of His love shines forever, even for us who are still a work in progress!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Giving Thanks!

As we were leaving our son's house after a wonderful Thanksgiving family gathering, something on the table caught my eye. Red and shiny, it was the little mask that was part of a cape set I had brought our little grandson, Isaac, just turned three, for his birthday! He had had so much fun wearing it, and exclaiming, "Where my 'gasses'?" when he misplaced it. His family had already left, so I picked the toy up and brought it home to mail to him.

I could see he received it when he showed up sporting it on Facebook yesterday! Then his father sent a video to my phone of Isaac tearing through the house in the red mask. When he saw the FB picture, he had remarked, "Me 'Pider-Man'!"

How we had enjoyed him and the other grandchildren on this trip, especially when we visited the picturesque, historic square of Georgetown, a place that looked like the setting for a Hallmark Christmas movie! Isaac had loved the little old-fashioned toy store with its educational, wooden toys. We could hardly pull him away from a roller-coaster type track where he never tired of placing a marble and watching it roll down the circuitous route.

Our hostess and daughter-in-law, Rhonda, told us of a more modern shopping mall not far from there where an outdoor fireplace was built into the wall of a store complex with rocking chairs out front! That's where Howard spent most of his time with various men-folk of the family, while "us girls" shopped till we dropped!

We were filling time waiting for 5:30 when the lighting of the square was scheduled. Our group was ambling along behind the others toward the courthouse where the festivities would begin. Foot traffic was increasing, and as we drew closer, we saw Mark and Rhonda sitting on a bench, covered up with a patchwork quilt, saving us a place! Did we get smiles and remarks as people passed: "Can we sit with you?" "What a good idea!" "Aw, it's not that cold!"

But it was cold, and at last the ceremony started with Christmas songs. Jolly at first, they were followed by the joyous Christmas hymns, the air filled with the strains of "Silent Night," "Away in a Manger," and others. Then the night world lit up brilliantly as Santa pulled the switch, and every tree, branch and building was outlined in illumination! We carried these memories back on our long trip home to Oklahoma, ready to begin the Christmas season!

Christmas Spirit!

Trees are up (small ones), house decorated, most of the mementos have been pulled out and displayed. I have a good start on Christmas.  The church Christmas play will be this Sunday, and caroling Sunday night.

We felt in the Christmas spirit last Friday, when Howard and I donned red aprons and rang bells for the Salvation Army.  People were bustling in and out of Hobby Lobby, our assigned location, mostly intent on their shopping, but a good many took time to stop, reach in pocket or purse, and place a donation in the kettle.

Exiting the church Sunday, I stopped at the Angel Tree and took a tag with the name of a little boy and his wishes for Christmas.  This was a Salvation Army project, also. It took awhile to find the items on the five-year-old's wish list. (We didn't even know what an Emoji pillow was, nor what kind of Ninja he wanted!) And although our 10-year-old granddaughter thrives on something called Minecraft, I didn't even go there!

Confident we knew where the Salvation Army was, we headed there, but checking directions, we realized this was not the drop-off place. Howard turned the car around as we hunted the elusive location that did not seem to match the street address. "There it is!" I exclaimed after we had circled, back-tracked, and was almost ready to give up. The smiling attendant added my bag to the growing mountain of tagged goods that would soon be delivered to needy children for Christmas. Whew! I thought, next time I may just give money!

Still, someone would have to do the leg work, and gifts for some 400 children would take a lot of shopping! Also, hunting and buying gifts ourselves made it seem more personal as we thought about the child who would receive them. Other personal, hands-on, happenings occurred the day of the bell-ringing. Afterwards, we stopped at McDonald's for lunch. Entering, we noticed a bent figure we recognized as the guy who walks all over town every day, digging in trash cans for food or picking up cigarette stubs and smoking them.

While Howard ordered, I went to the ladies room. I almost bumped into a woman in there sitting in a chair, her body shaking and trembling uncontrollably while a younger woman stood nearby. "Is she sick?" I asked, to which they nodded, and her friend said, "She almost passed out!"

"Can I pray for you?" I heard myself say! She looked surprised, but agreeable. Suddenly I felt the strength of the Holy Spirit as I laid hands on her head and said, "Be healed, in Jesus name!" I thanked them and walked out. Howard had just gotten our order, and when I asked him what took so long, he said he had bought lunch for the man outside. Like I said, the personal touch.