Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Make Merry This Christmas

 Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks...This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the JOY of the Lord is your Strength. Nehemiah 8:10

The Christmas spirit seeped in early this year. Maybe it was watching Disney World transform into a Christmas wonderland over night on our Thanksgiving vacation or maybe my heart was so tired of grieving that it craved joy like never before.

Either way, I was humming Christmas carols long before Black Friday and it took all the discipline I could muster to keep the lids on our Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. But at daybreak on Black Friday, instead of hitting the malls, I spun into a decorating frenzy.

First up were the lights: electric candles in the windows, colored bulbs strung 'round the front bushes, lighted garland on the piano, the mantle, and glowing lights beamed through every window of our nostalgic Christmas village. All this to announce, "CHRISTMAS IS HERE! REJOICE for the LIGHT of Heaven has come!"

And all this light? It pierces the darkness and adds JOY to our little corner of the world. When you live in the Light it drives away the darkness and the joy it brings is contagious. Our neighbor told us our lights brightened his heart so much that he wanted to spread the light, too. So, he strung his own lights "to add joy to the hearts" of those who pass by.

Our first snow fall created the perfect backdrop to reflect the light and created the perfect excuse to stay inside and bake sweet treats. The scents of sugar and chocolate, molasses and peppermint permeated our house all day long. And best of all? Sharing the first fruits of our labor at Sunday dinner.

Some might say I've given in to the commercialism or I'm missing the true meaning of Christmas. To that I say, "Bah humbug!" It's time to claim the hope that God gave us through the birth of his son, Jesus, and live in the joy of God's promise fulfilled and yet to come. Jesus is the Light of the world - the Savior of mankind - who drove out darkness, healed the sick, laid down his life for us that we might have eternal life and be called children of God. That, my friends, is worth celebrating!

Grief stops today, for today is sacred to our Lord. We celebrate the birth of his son, Jesus. So, "go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks...for the JOY of the Lord is our STRENGTH!"

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Where is Heaven?

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Matthew 11:25

“Where is heaven, Grams?” she asked. 

I nearly fell, head first into my car trunk as I neatly packed the grocery sacks, fumbling for just the right words. Her question wasn’t formed from a five-year-olds natural curiosity, but rather her heart’s longing to know Mammie’s new address.

It had been six months since Mammie’s unexpected passing and I’d been expecting this question, but hearing her vocalize it made answering it exceptionally daunting.  I knew my words would matter, because they would influence her hope and faith. I feared getting it all wrong and wondered how to explain what I couldn’t fully grasp myself. What simple, truthful answer could I offer her to this question that stumps even the greatest theologians?
I slammed the trunk shut, the question still hung between us. I swung the empty carriage around and lifted her into the car as I searched for just the right words. I breathed a desperate prayer heavenward, wherever that was, “Lord, I need your words…NOW!”

(Fill your favorite Christmas mug and join me over at the Christian Children's Authors blog for the rest of the story...)