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Archive for December, 2008

Merry Christmas

"Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Winter in Suburbia" Print

Have a very Merry Christmas and a very blessed New Year!

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A Christmas Remembered

(Originally published 12/1/07)

How often does our God change our hearts? Why would He care for His own like He does? Are we not rebellious, sinful children? Having said that, let me tell you about “A Christmas to Remember”. It was Christmas Eve, our whole family was home, the children and I were baking and decorating cookies and I had a huge pot of chili simmering on the stove. The night before, the Lord had “blessed” us with about 14 inches of snow. The roads were still covered, the ditches were full, and the car was completely buried in the snow. Sounds like a perfect Christmas to a child, doesn’t it. The only issue was, our tradition was to spend Christmas afternoon/evening with my family. In order to do this, some major shoveling would have to be done. Guess who is elected for the job? My wonderful grouchy husband. Don’t get me wrong he’s normally is a very happy, full of fun, loving man, but not this year. For some reason he was really having a rough day. It had been about 25 years since he had lost his mom, and about 10 years since his father had passed away and he was really missing them (for the entire story, click here). Greg was really down and out right grumpy about this Christmas. Finally he said, “We’re NOT going!”

I was devastated and I said, “Well, you may not be going, but the kids and I are!” (Did I mention to you I had a small problem with submission? I’m getting better, but this is not a shining moment for me.) I then soften a bit and say, “My Mom and Step-dad are not in good health, I really think we need to go.”

Greg knew I was serious, so he donned his coveralls, put on his boots and slammed the door. The kids and I continued to decorate cookies. Let me step back and tell you about my “wardrobe”. I had on a pair of sweats, an over-sized sweatshirt, no makeup, and flour from head to toe, not to mention the rainbow of colored icing from the cookies all over me. Fast forward, Greg comes in after about an hour of shoveling to inform me that across the street a semi-truck had fallen into the snow covered ditch and couldn’t get out. Greg was sympathetic to this truck driver, due to the fact he works for a trucking company (Greg is a bi-vocational pastor). Here I am being compassionate for the poor man alone on Christmas Eve and stuck in the ditch, so I stop Greg from taking off his boots and tell him to take the man some chili and Christmas cookies. Grumbling, he appeases me. Well, the kids and I have basically destroyed the dining room, which is in full view of the front door, we are still icing and decorating away when Greg comes in with a sheepish look on his face. (Remember what I’m wearing, and how I’m looking.) He tells me the gas station where the man was seeking shelter was closing and the clerk’s eyes were pleading with Greg to do something. God breaks the ice which had surrounded Greg’s heart all day, and he tells the man he’s the pastor of the church across the road and asks him if he would he like to stay with us until help can arrive.

Before I can say anything, Greg steps aside, and an older Filipino man steps in. I’m speechless (imagine that!). He is holding his bowl of chili and his cookies and he begins to try to thank me. His English is broken, but understandable when you concentrate. I clear off a place at the table for him to set down and eat his food. He is very appreciative. OK, by this time my vanity kicks in and I’m mortified about the way I look, but this calm quiet man seems not to notice. Our family sat down to join Jun (the Filipino man) in his dinner. He offers to pray, and I have never heard such a heartfelt, Christ-centered prayer over the hospitality of strangers.

During the evening we spent with him (The only tow-truck able to pull out a semi was over 1 1/2 hours away without snow. The truck actually took about 6 hours to get there that day.), we were able to hear him call his family in the Philippians on his cell phone to wish them a blessed Christmas and we learned more about him. About 10:00 p.m. Jun decided he really wanted some time in his truck alone to pray before the tow-truck got there, but before he left, he told us goodbye and prayed the blessings of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob over our home. He also told each of the children what he perceived their “gifts” were. Amazingly, my children were only two, five, and seven, but as they’ve grown his thoughts have proven true. An hour later the tow-truck arrives, Greg goes out to help them, Jun drives off, and we are left contemplating the wonder of the evening.

Looking back, Jun was such a blessing. God used Jun to change Greg’s heart and we had a wonderful time with my family. The following November, my Step-dad passed away. That was the last Christmas we spent with him. Ten weeks later, my mom passed away. We were able to spend one more Christmas with her, but it was not anything like the year before. There was sadness and emptiness over our loss. Had Jun not gotten stuck in the ditch, we might not have had that last happy Christmas with my family.

Each year I reflect on Jun and the blessing he brought to our family. . .  How a man who was alone and many thousands of miles from his family brought us closer to our family.   

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