‘Twas the Day After Christmas

Just a little holiday humor. 🙂  Wishing every a happy and blessed new year.


‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all thro’ the house,

Everyone suffered with food hangover, even the mouse;

The stockings that were hung by the chimney with care,

now were emptied from evidence that St. Nicholas had once been there;

The children once nestled all snug in their beds,

Now danced to video games playing in their heads,

And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

Wished we could settle our brains for a long winter’s nap-

When out on the street there arose such a clatter,

Mama yelled out, “Go see what’s the matter!”

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

I knocked over the garbage, and stepped in the trash.


The sun shining down on new fallen snow,

Gave the lustre of summer to objects below;

When, what to my blurry eyes should appear,

But a miniature car, that seemed difficult to steer,

With a little old driver, not so lively nor quick,

I knew in a moment it was not St. Nick.


More slowly than sloth, on his course he maintained,

And he whistled, and shouted, and swore as he came.

“Now dang it, now darn it!

“Oh come on, you stupid little car! I don’t have much further to go. It’s not really that far!

“To the top of the drive! To the top of the hill!

“I’ll make it there yet! If only by will!”

As wet snow balls from little hands fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, there was a gleam in his eye.


So up to the street-top the miniature car flew,

With the little old driver - and his little wife too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the curb

A dancing and guffawing, neither driver nor wife were at all peturbed.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the street came sirens with a loud blasting sound:


Dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,

The little man’s clothes were now tarnish’d with grease and with soot;

A bundle of tools was flung on his back,

As he looked under the hood or perhaps it was the hatch:

His eyes - how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

As he pondered just how to get his car unstuck from the snow;

The exhaust pipe, it smoked, and encircled his head like a wreath,

Yet it did not deter him. I could tell by grind of his teeth.


He had a broad face, and a little round belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly:

He was chubby and plump, a lot like myself,

And I laughed when I saw him, we both looked like an elf;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know he had nothing to dread.

He laughed out loud, and called to his wife, “We’ve nothing to fear. 

Here comes the police, the sirens are near.


And laying his finger on the tip of her nose

And giving a nod, he gave her a rose.

They sat in their car, on their rescue to wait,

Laughing and giggling, like two teens on a date:

And I heard him exclaim, while waiting for a tow to appear

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Happy New Year!

Leaky Eyes

When my daughter and husband packed up their children, dog and all their earthly possessions and moved from the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains to the shimmering coastal islands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, there was much excitement and anticipation of what the future may hold for them. They were embarking on a new journey. Their mountain friends and neighbors threw going away parties for them, gave them many departing gifts of remembrance and some even helped load furniture. I was there to offer a helping hand with the grandchildren. One of my daughter’s friends who was also there helping, kept commenting, “I’m not crying. I just have leaky eyes.” I must admit, witnessing the love and friendships shared by their mountain friends made my eyes leak too.

That was four months ago.

Sand and Surf
A boy longing for the sea

The sand and surf was a draw to the grandchildren,

especially the middle child. After all, being around water is in our blood. All of the male relatives on my dad’s side of the family were or are fisherman (mostly of the bass species).

Surfs up
Surf’s up!

The mechanics of the first airplane at Wright Brothers Memorial, located at the end of the road from their beach abode, and the area

Lighthouse
A guiding light

lighthouses drew the oldest grandchild’s attention. The youngest grandchild, being a little social butterfly,

Playmates
Playmate found

          was excited to meet new playmates.

What began as dreams of  an “island life” turned into an extended adventure of reality.  They learned that when the tourist season ends, most businesses also close. The 800 square mile area goes from a vibrant, buzzing community of 225,000+ folks from May to September, to a population just roughly 35,000 when the tourist season ends. The limited supply of merchants from which to choose from for necessities may require a drive to locations one or more hours away.

Just shortly after moving to the coast, evacuation orders were issued for Hurricane Florence. This was a new experience for them. They made the 3 1/2 hour drive to my house and stayed with me for the week. Shortly after returning to the island, they were struck by Hurricane Michael. No evacuation order was issued for Michael. Forecasters didn’t expect the island to receive much impact, if any, from the storm. Not so. The sound side waters flooded the bulkhead protecting Colington Island. My daughter and what few permanent residents who live there found themselves cut off from the main OBX island for several days. Many of the residents lost much of their belongings. My daughter was fortunate.

OBX Michael flood
Hurricane Michael’s aftermath

The water did not make it inside her home. Again I had leaky eyes. I was so relieved no harm had come to my daughter and her precious family.

Being a family who enjoys experiencing the outdoors (hiking especially),

Sand dune hikes
Footprints in the sand

the arts and culture, and sports, they were saddened to learn the opportunities were somewhat limited. It’s sand, surf and limited soccer. (Now don’t get me wrong. These three things are some of the middle grandchild’s favorite things! The sand not so much the mama’s. It’s a constant battle to keep sand out of car, the house, the washer & dryer…you name it. Sand finds a way in.)

However limited the opportunities or remote the humble abode they rented, they enjoyed their time on the island and look forward to many future vacations there. Notice I used the past tense. Seems God may have been using the experience to grow them in other ways and called them back to the mountains. 

Let me share with you how God blessed them through all of this.

My son-in-law’s previous employer recently called him and offered his position back, and he accepted. One of my daughter’s clients upon hearing she would be moving back, because she would be local again, increased her contract. One of her other clients had let her telecommute with the move to the coast, and is allowing her to continue to work from home upon her return to the mountains.  The children are able to return to their previous schools. And, because two offers on the sale of their mountain home during the past four months fell through, they still have their home. (God grace is sufficient and abundant! My eyes leaked.)

Their experience these past four months brought to mind my favorite bible verse, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”Romans 8:28-29 (NIV)  (And of course my eyes leaked again.)

In the course of a week after being offered the new positions, learning their house is still theirs, and the kids being able to pick up where they left off at their previous schools, they again loaded up their belongings and made the return trip to the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains on December 17th.

When they drove up they were met with loving neighbors and their mountain “family” waiting with leaky eyes and open arms for their return. As they entered their home they found this.

BlueRidge Friendship
A Blue Ridge homecoming

This too, brings to mind another precious scripture verse.

“Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy,

    for good friends are like the anointing oil

    that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence” (Proverbs 27:9-11 TPT)

And you probably guessed it, I have leaky eyes again.

May this holiday season bring remembrance of the One who blesses us with sweet friendships that bond us as family with many brothers and sisters.

Merry Christmas!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise you and offer up a heart of gratitude for your protection and provisions. I thank you for the special friendships that make us family. Bless the readers this holiday season. May they receive the best gift of all, the friendship and assurance of Christ in their lives. – Amen

CHRISTMAS DAY

Christmas Day

To some, just another day. No merriment. It’s business as usual. The day holds no meaning.

To others, it is  extravagantly wrapped boxes placed under an evergreen tree; over abundance of material trappings soon to be discarded in a heap in the far back corner of a closet as they continue to search for happiness by trying to “keep up with the Jones” and never quite reaching their goal.

To others, it’s the fulfillment of joy by gathering with friends and family to simply share a meal and reflect upon the blessings experienced during the year.

And to many, it’s the celebration of the birth of their saviour Jesus Christ. It’s the celebration of prophecy fulfilled. It’s the thankfulness of promises.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 

 

Keeping up with the Jones’

Christmas CEO’s

My office receives  newsletters, blogs and ministry communications from several resources. I usually don’t have time to read everything in detail. But as I was scrolling through my emails recently, one article caught my attention that was written by a guest blogger for one of the resource companies we use. I thought it was worth sharing. So, with blogger’s permission I’m re-posting.

Thank you, Dr. Haney, for the your encouraging words in reply to my request.

 

Christmas CEOs

by Chet Haney

The joke was in poor taste.

A pastor once declared, “I’m happy to announce we have some CEOs here this morning.” Everyone was like, “Really, wow,” trying not to be too obvious looking around to see really important people sitting nearby. He finished his joke saying, “yes, ‘Christmas and Easter Only.’” A few chortles, some muffled laughs, and the one who enjoyed it most was Pastor himself. He thought it was so funny. “Get it, C-E-Os!” he thought to himself, looking around to see those laughing.

What if really important people visit your church this month, perhaps for the only time this year? How will you treat them?

Invited to a massive local plant, I found myself greeted with my name on an electronic sign, welcomed with a special parking place, guided by a waiting escort through security, and overwhelmed with many gifts, as I sat through a personal power point history lecture by the CEO, followed a jaw dropping tour. In short, I was treated like a CEO. Like someone important. I didn’t deserve any of this, but I sure wanted to go back.

Make people feel important. Christmas considers important all the people Jesus considers important. If he has matured, the pastor above might now hesitate to make a joke of occasional guests, but rather make the most of opportunities to have them for an on-site visit, and be prepared to blow them away so they want to return.

I don’t want to be too hard on this pastor, he had a lot of other things to learn as well. You guessed correctly, it was me.

I’ve come to know, though I still have a long way to go, CEOs deserve better. Instead of being the butt end of a joke (this makes me shudder with sadness now), what if I treated Christmas-and-Easter-only guests with my very best as if they were, well, maybe CEOs? “And the King shall say … as ye have done it unto the least … ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 5:40)”

I’ve noticed a great pastor not far away makes much of Christmas. He puts out publicity. He blows special services out of the water, over the top amazing. He tries to wow his seasonal, occasional visitors. He succeeds. I bet he would never, ever tell my joke about CEOs. I won’t either. Never again. I’m learning as I grow to see Christmas as an opportunity to reach out to people who at least one or two times a year have Jesus on their minds. Let’s make our most urgent priority to make the most of this important opportunity to make people feel … important.

Merry Christmas

Dr. Chet Haney is the senior pastor for Highland Terrace Baptist Church in Greenville, Texas. He is a graduate of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he played offensive end for the Bears. 

 

Simeon’s Song

Simeon’s Song – Nunc Dimittis (Latin: Now you dismiss)

Luke 2:29-32 (NIV)

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

 

Many, many, years ago, early on in my marriage, my husband and I sang in the choir in the little church he grew up in. One Christmas the cantata we sang had “Simeon’s Song” in it. My husband had the solo part of Simeon. I have never heard him sing as well as he did that night. The emotion of the song came through so clear and strong. The first line in the rendition that my husband sang was, “Lord, you can take me home now.” One could imagine Simeon standing there with the rest of us.

Oh, to sing the song of Simeon. Oh, the peace that Christ’s salvation imparts. Oh, to have seen the light of Christ and know that His peace is for all who will accept it. Praise God!

Dear Heavenly Father, as you have promised, dismiss your servants in peace. Our eyes have seen your salvation. We praise Him! Amen.

Songs of the Season

Come_Tune_26

Psalms, Anthems, Hymns, Soaking Music…each written to proclaim some aspect of the gospel. They inspire us. They lead us into a time of prayer and fellowship with God. They point to Christ. They are a medium of celebration as we reflect on His goodness, His gift. They connect us.

Christmas Carols like…

“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” – “Angels We Have Heard on High” – “Joy to the World” – “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” – “Silent Night” – “Away in a Manger” – “Angels from the Realms of Glory” – “The First Noel” – “Go Tell it on the Mountain”

…tell of the angel’s good news of the birth of Christ.

We celebrate the incarnation, Emmanuel “God with us,” the miraculous conception, the fulfilled promise. We celebrate God’s great love, and the humility of Christ’s birth. We revel in the warmth they bring.

As we sing these songs, let us also consider the four original nativity songs found in Luke’s narration of Christ’s birth, Mary’s song of praise (the Magnificat), Zechariah’s  blessing (the Benedictus), the angelic birth announcement (Gloria in Excelsis Deo), and Simeon’s blessing (Nunc Dimittis)

These four songs together portray Christ and His redemptive work. They help connect Christ and the New Covenant to the Old Testament.

Learn the stories and characters in the songs and connect their story to your life. Allow them to become personal.

Perhaps…just perhaps they will bring you a joy and comfort and hope.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the joy of music and song and the peace that stirs within our souls as we reflect upon the words of the songs of the season. In Christ’s name – Amen.

A Scrooge Transformation

Romans 12:2 (NLT) 

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

 

In Charles Dickens’s classic story A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is portrayed as a scathingly sarcastic, complaining, and horrendously greedy person as the story begins. Dickens refers to Scrooge as “… a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!”

In his drive for success and gaining wealth he has shut out all family and friends, and lost his chance at marrying the young lady who once loved him. His few remaining relationships are his one and only employee, whom he treats with disrespect and a few business acquaintances who only approach him when wanting financial assistance. He is now a miserable, bitter, wealthy old man.  He is visited by four ghosts on Christmas Eve night. The first is the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley, who died on Christmas Eve seven years earlier. Like Scrooge, Marley had spent his life hoarding his wealth and exploiting the poor, and as a result is damned to walk the Earth for eternity bound in the chains of his own greed. Marley warns Scrooge that he risks meeting the same fate, and that as a final chance at redemption he will be visited by three spirits of Christmas: Past, Present, and Yet-to-Come. They each come at different times throughout the night and take him to places and times of his life to reveal to him his shortcomings and how his actions affected others. After the last spirit visits him, he comes to the realization of his sins.

As Christmas day dawns, one now finds Scrooge a transformed man, who only just the day before scoffed at Christmas or the idea of charity. He is giddy with delight at his revelation. He can’t get dressed and downstairs fast enough. The story says he went to church and as he walked about the streets he found that “everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk – that anything – could give him so much happiness.”

The last page of the story says:

“Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them…His own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him. And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”

What was the source of Scrooges transformation? Gaining an eternal perspective through supernatural intervention. He was able to see his past, present and still-changeable future through the eyes of eternity.

God, through the Holy Spirit allows us the same transformation. We are offered redemption through Christ Jesus. He forgives us of our past sins, helps us to live in this present age, and promises eternity with Him.  He gives joy beyond measure.

So this Christmas, which Scrooge are you? Are you the one that is so busy chasing after success as the world gives, losing family and friends because you no longer have the time for them; or have you been transformed with a joy beyond measure, transformed by the gift of salvation freely given by Christ Jesus?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, there are so many Scrooges in this world. Father God, I pray for the ones who do not know you. Father I pray for the ones who are caught in careers, whose employers may be forcing them to take time away from you and their families for unreasonable periods of time. Dear Lord, open new doors of opportunity. Father, continue to give us a renewing of the mind so that we may reflect your love to others and they too may come to know the redeeming joy that only you give. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.