A Christmas Present for Jesus
I am so excited about Christmas 2008. My children and grandchildren are excited, too. We will begin a new family tradition. Many magazines ask for family tradition stories to share with their readers. We never have anything new. After WWII, Jack and I bought our first home in Airline Farms. We taught our children to share with the less fortunate. For many years, we went to the Houston Press office (until they went out of business) to pick out a needy family to give presents, food, and a Christmas tree. Some years we made inquiries at church and school for a family to help. We gave money to the Lottie Moon Missionary fund. We took names (children whose parent is in prison) off the Angel Trees in our church lobby. We filled lots of shoe boxes with presents for Franklin Graham's Samaritan Purse Project for poor children around the world.
I help missionaries in the Dominican Republic (currently on furlough in North Carolina). The wife's parents are good friends of Jack and mine--Sandy and L.C. Roots (Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gilchrist). Their home was in back of the church, and everything was completely demolished along with the whole town by Hurricane IKE. L.C. and Sandy are now living with a daughter in Dallas, Texas, and do not know if Gilchrist will be built up again.
With all these opportunities to serve in the Name of Jesus, I was still concerned every year by the thought: It is Jesus' birthday, and WE get all the presents.
Yesterday, I walked into my dining room with another sack of gifts and laid it beside the pile of boxes along the wall, presents ready to be wrapped and put under our tree. "No gift for Jesus" I thought. The Holy Spirit said, "WHY NOT?"
When we dedicate our lives to the service of Jesus, He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, to guide us in all we do. Holy thoughts to honor Jesus would come through the Holy Spirit. My question was, "What kind of gift could I put under the tree for Jesus?" The inspiration flowed like an avalanche of words! We'll have a present for Jesus under our tree this year!
I wrote a letter, enclosing little white 3"x4" envelopes, to each of my children and grandchildren, saying:
"This year, we will begin a new family tradition as we gather around our Christmas tree surrounded with presents. Whose birthday is it anyway? I have never seen a gift with HIS name on it! But this year, there will be! I have a box covered with a shiny bright red checkered pattern with a removable lid. No other wrapping needed. On top, I placed a six-inch crystal rose with stem and leaves; and a name tag 'To JESUS.' Inside the box will be these little white envelopes with money -- I suggest $10. each. I'll give $100. because I always put $100. in each of your Christmas stockings. We will not open the envelopes to count the money. Rachel and Mike are hosting our Christmas this year. They will take the box to their church the next Sunday and give it to their Church Flower Committee. The money will buy flowers for the altar arrangements.
"What kind of a gift would Jesus want? A gift that He can give back to others. The flower arrangements would be for people in the congregation to enjoy their fragrance, their beauty, and the miraculous creation of each flower. How long since you looked at a flower and marveled at all the detail of its parts and the necessity for each one?
"OR, if the Flower Committee desires, the money could buy flowers for a flower bed on the church grounds. OR, perhaps a flowering tree for Jesus to give someone a cooling shade, sweet fragrance and a place of rest.
"Next year, we'll all put our church names in a box and draw the one to receive the Jesus birthday gift. We'll keep the list until each church is drawn--then start all over again."
All my children and grandchildren called me on the phone. They LOVE this idea!
There will be a bit of sadness around some of our family trees because eight family members are spending their first Christmas in Heaven this year. Also, 15 friends (to date).
Dec. 29 - Ethel Rose spent last Christmas with her family in Denver, Colorado. The day before we planned to leave for Florida, she received word that her brother, Bob, was dying. His family gathered around his bed as he appeared to be sleeping or unconscious the past two days. Suddenly, he raised his arms; lowered them again; and died. His siblings think he saw Jesus, Who took him to Heaven.
April 18 - I wrote about my sister Elaine in May "Happenings."
May 31 - I wrote about my cousins, Wanda and Gene Gilbert in June "Happenings."
June 28 - I wrote about my nephew, Richard Story, in August "Happenings."
July 20 - Jesus finished preparing a place for my brother, Son. In John 14, Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also" (verses 2, 3). Son lived on his ranch in Henderson, Texas. The last time I visited him was with my brother Jerry on July 18, 2005. We had a great visit reminiscing of bygone memories, as in my "Happenings" for August, 2006. I'll always remember my two brothers picking a bouquet of blue Furze flowers for me along the river bank. At noon, Son couldn't remember my name. When Jerry and I left at 4:00, he didn't know who we were. We headed for home. I cried all the way from the ranch, and through the city of Henderson. Son and I talked about once a month over the phone until Nov., 2007. He could no longer carry on a conversation. Alzheimer is such a terrible disease.
August 21 - My sister Cora's husband Larry went to his heavenly home. I wrote about their courtship and marriage in my November, 2007 "Happenings". At that time, his oncologist predicted Larry would live two years, perhaps longer. In June, 2007, Larry began taking a new drug, Abiraterone, which was showing much promise in the fight against cancer. Cora never let herself consider the possibility that Larry would die. It was quite a shock to her that Thursday morning, while he was still sleeping, he slipped away. Cora said, "Larry and I were married only 9-1/2months. We were madly in love. He brought joy to my heart. He made me laugh. Every day, he told me that he loved me. I have no regrets. I will always cherish his memory."
Nov. 28 - William (Bill) Rowlett, Jr. - Elaine's brother-in-law (husband of Ludwig's sister, Dolores) went "gentle into that good night. He is done with suffering now and beyond all pain. All who met him liked him. All who came to know him came to love him. A caring, gentle, honorable man, his spirit, advice, humor and kindness will be sorely missed" (per his eulogy).
In my October "Happenings," I mentioned ten friends that have joined the heavenly throng. Five more have left since then: Ralph Tickner, Arthur Curlee, Barney Smith, Becky Britt and Verna Geib. One thing for sure: I won't be lonesome when I get to Heaven! I wonder if I could slip a couple decks of cards inside for a continuation of our fun filled Canasta parties!!
I think God has made it plain that the writing job He gave me to do in 1987 isn't finished. Ever since my heart problems in February, I have slowly felt worse and worse! MY diagnosis was that I'm just getting old and my heart is all tuckered out. I haven't felt good all year. I drag through the days doing only what HAS to be done. I didn't see how I'd make it to Christmas! Most of my Christmas shopping was finished in August. During Hurricane IKE, I addressed all my Christmas cards. I spent more hours in bed than out.
I'm not a complainer. At my check-ups with my doctors, I'd say I'm doing fine. If I'd never believed in miracles, I surely would now. At my last trip to the hospital on Oct. 27, Dr. Berman discovered my problem, which I'd had all year: a well-hidden massive artery blockage. About two weeks ago, I began feeling really real good! It's amazing to me. I never dreamed I could feel this good again! I have to rest a lot; but now I'm confident I'll make 90 birthdays!
God poured blessings my way in showing Dr. Berman my problem; that I have health insurance to pay for it. My insurance company paid out $l3,093. this time. Two hospital bills totaled $23,808.! Never in my life have I had an expense like this! Dr. Berman saved my life. I can't find words to express appreciation for his chosen profession--saving lives! He doesn't know anything about me, except heart problems. He doesn't know God inspires me to write about our adventures every month, to encourage you to have fellowship with him every day.
It's Jesus birthday. He gives us a gift of eternal life--deliverance from condemnation, forgiveness of sin, peace with God, and the promise of heaven. If you already believe in Christ, thank Him for loving you, caring enough to die for you. If not, place your trust in Him right now and receive His gift of eternal life and all the blessings that accompany it. God is love.
> A Christmas Present for Jesus