It was the last day of classes before the Christmas break. Don was walking across the campus at NWU when his eyes caught sight of something lying on the curb in front of the girl’s dorm. He picked up his speed, praying as he went, “Father, please let that be what I think it is.” A big smile covered his face as he walked up to a pile of Christmas trees which had been thrown out after they were no longer needed for a dorm room. He picked through the pile, looking for one which could last a little longer, and bring joy to two little girls who desperately wanted a Christmas tree. He walked to his car with a new spring in his step, carrying the partially wilted tree.
Don was attending NWU on a GI Bill, cleaning a restaurant in the early mornings before heading out on his school bus route… working hard to provide the basic needs of his family. We felt bad we didn’t have money for gifts but we decided we would make Christmas special by doing fun activities together. We made the choice to be grateful and celebrate the real reason for the season……Jesus.
I’ve been thinking how Mary had to make some choices on that first Christmas. She must have been looking forward to a soft bed after the long hard trip; but, her desires were gently crushed when she learned there was no room in the inn. She chose to be grateful for the cozy hay in the barn. The angel had told her she would conceive a child which would be the “Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:35) but to her quiet surprise, He was not born in a palace but in a stable where He slept in the only bed available, a manger (Luke 2:7) Instead of being attended by royalty, Jesus was welcome by lowly shepherds (vv15-16). Mary didn’t know that someday her child would Himself be the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-21) The Bible says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19). Just as we must do today, Mary chose to trust God with the details of her life.
As 2018 passes into history I look back with gratefulness for God’s guidance, provision, and continual presence. The name, Emmanuel means “God with us”. This year brought some challenges for members of my family but being conscious of “God with us always” (Matt.28:20) has made all the difference in our reaction to the situations. It’s a heartwarming experience when I see a child or grandchild walk through dark clouds with their eyes looking up at the Sonshine above the haze of life. We rejoice together in the victory which comes through answered prayer.
I’m excited to announce the new members added to our family this year. On May 19th my grandson, Clayton Hines, married Kristi, a lovely lady he met while stationed in Texas. She brought two beautiful children into their marriage; 10 yr. old Danika and 8 yr. old, Aden. They were with us for the week of Thanksgiving and won our hearts immediately. They reside in CA where Clayton is stationed in the Marine Corps.
On August 4th, my grandson, Preston Hines married Keave, a sweet girl from our church that won his heart while at youth camp, his freshman year of high school. They live close by in Graham, WA.
My grandson, Dalton Hines is presently deployed with the U.S. Marine Corps. We are privileged to have his wife, Valeria, and almost 3 year old daughter, Ava Grace, staying with us for these months he is overseas. Our lives have been enriched by having them here. Ava is a great entertainer to all of us.
Re-visiting our Christmas memories of l972, our family enjoyed spending much time together, taking in many free Christmas activities. We were content with the “gift” of each other as our Christmas present; BUT……GOD HAD OTHER PLANS… A nice couple showed up on our doorstep with a large box. It was filled with all the trimmings for Christmas dinner, stockings filled with fruit, candy, and nuts, gifts for the girls, and tickets to the Science Center for our family. We learned someone had turned in our family’s name to their church “giving tree” We were shocked……overjoyed……and so thankful to God and the people who had put “action” to God’s gentle nudges.
Christmas has become such a cultural event that it’s easy to lose sight of the personal reasons to celebrate. Whatever your circumstances are this year, the Christ of Christmas is inviting you to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) Choose to let joy, gratefulness, and celebration of our Savior be your theme.
Christmas is about LOVE. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16). My little grandson at the age of 4 shared it best. He was getting ready for church and he said, “Mommy, Jesus is talking to my heart.” “Oh really, what is he telling you?” she asked. “Jesus said, ‘I love you, Daniel.’” If only we could all open our heart to the real meaning of Christmas and hear Jesus say to us, “…I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” (John10:10 personalized). I love you, my child.