Tag Archives: Christmas

I WAS BORN FOR THIS TIME

25 Dec

We are happy to welcome our guest blogger, Patricia Franklin to share a heartwarming story for this blessed Christmas day.

 

A Few Thoughts

Patricia Franklin

 

 

 

This is the story of “Belle,” our fearless leader at the crisis center, who always begins the day with prayer time. She began this day, shortly before Christmas, by emotionally saying “I was Born For This Time,” and I need to tell you my story. She begins….

“In the Bible, the story of Esther relates, ‘I was born for this time’.” ….

Belle’s youngest child was 9 months old, when she became quite ill. She went to the doctor, and subsequently other doctors, who found something in her lung. After many tests and many doctors, the diagnosis turned out to be a fatal lung disease.  It was progressing rapidly and there was no cure for her. The doctors said, “We can try medicines and treatments to make you more comfortable, but it will continue to progress into the liver and kidneys and will be fatal.”

She decided against treatments and told her doctor. “No doctor, I have my own way of healing.” She went home and continually prayed… “God, please give me 15 years to raise my son.” So she carried on the best she could, and at the advice of her doctor, she continued to see him for x-rays and prognosis of her condition, but received no medicines or treatments, and continually prayed her prayer to God.

One morning she woke up deathly ill and went to see her doctor, thinking her time was up. He took his time and gave her a thorough examination.  When he was finished he said, “Belle, do you believe in miracles?” She told him, “YES, DOCTOR, I DO.”  He said, “There is no sign of the disease in your body.  You have been healed!”

So she raised her family, and along the way, served in her church and community. Then, with her sister and many volunteers, took over running this faith-based crisis center. 37 years later, although her younger sister passed away from cancer, Belle is still going strong. She very humbly said, “There is a reason God wanted me here for this time. Just like Esther, I was born for this time.”

Yes, the center continues to grow, as the need is greater all the time. We are now serving at least twice as many needy people as we were a few years ago.  I heard Belle say after the prayer meeting, that she had just come from the hospital where she had visited one of our volunteers.  And although, she did not say it, she is known to visit the homeless camps, and help as many people as many ways as she can along the way, with her quiet, competent manner. Yes, Belle, like Esther, you were born for this time. We could not proceed or succeed without you and your wonderful compassionate and caring leadership.

 

Christmas is Coming~Part 3

17 Dec

SUNDAY MEMORIES
Judy Wills

 

 

 

More Christmas memories.

I have always enjoyed music. I’m not a terrific pianist, but I get by. Unfortunately, I usually have to have the music sheet in front of me in order to play anything. I don’t have the gift of “playing by ear.” I wish I did, but God didn’t give me that talent.

 

 

I have always loved to sing. As I mentioned in another post, my first memory of singing was my first grade class’s Christmas program. I think I did a solo to Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. I’ve been in choirs of some sort all my life, especially the church choirs. But I was also in school choirs, as well. (Please see my post of October 16, 2016, titled Music to my Ears)

I have one Christmas musical memory that is precious to me. We were stationed at Tyndall AFB, Florida (Panama City, Florida), and I had joined the Officer Wives Club singing group. We performed for quite a few venues throughout the Christmas season, doing our Christmas music.

 

Photo credit WJHG.com
 Credit Google search

 

This one particular time, we were performing our Christmas program for anyone on Tyndall who would like to come to a concert. We did the performance in the Chapel, since it held a large number of people.

 

 

I had told Fred to bring the girls, to enjoy the concert. As I recall, they sat near the front of the Chapel. We sang quite a few songs, then I was to do a solo…I Wonder as I Wander. Since I had always done a bit of public speaking, it was my habit to look at the “audience” as I was speaking – or in this case, singing. As I looked out at the audience, I happened to look at my family. While Fred and Karen were invested in my song, when I looked at Janet (she was about five years old at this time), I nearly stopped singing for joy! Her little mouth was open to an “O” and her eyes were saucers! She was completely swept up in Mommy singing!

Perhaps she had never heard me singing before. I’m not sure. I’m only sure that she was entranced with her mother singing. The look on her face was one I’ve never forgotten. It is so precious a memory for me.

That’s one sweet Christmas memory I won’t forget.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued through Christmas~~~~~~~~~~

Christmas is Coming!! Part 2

10 Dec

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

 

More Christmas memories – but these are recent.

 

Since living in Florida, and purchasing annual passes for Disney World, one of our favorite things to do at Christmas time is to go to EPCOT and see the Candlelight Processional. We’ve done it for quite a number of years now, and have heard many and varied speakers. All of them have been inspiring to us.

 

 

If you aren’t familiar with the Candlelight Processional, it is something that Walt Disney himself envisioned (we learned this just this week during the performance), and instituted back in Disneyland in California, many, many years ago.

It is the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, narrated by a “guest” speaker – usually a known celebrity. We’ve heard such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Jim Caviezel, Brad Garrett, Trace Adkins, Gary Sinise, and others. This week we heard Jodi Benson read the story. While Brad Garrett, with his deep voice, was a delight to hear, and he did mention that it was peculiar that he was reading this story, since he is Jewish, it was still meaningful. However, to hear the story of the birth of Christ, read by someone who is a Christian, or proclaimed believer, that put an entirely different light on the story. Jodi testified that she is a believer, and she believes every word of that story and animatedly demonstrated it. She also was singing along with many of the songs. It was wonderful!!

The music the choir sings, is the same each year, but we’ve come to love each and every song they do. While many of the songs are familiar to us – some Christmas carols, some traditional Christmas songs – it is a delight to hear each one repeated each year.

This week, we had the privilege of sitting next to a gentleman who was there with his daughter. She was in the choir. Did I mention that it is a 400 voice choir? Most of those voices are made up of high school students, mostly from high schools around Florida, but some from other states. There are about 40 voices from the Walt Disney World Cast Choir, and eight from the Voices of Liberty, in addition to the high school students and a 50-piece orchestra. It is a truly magnificent performance!

 

Credit Google Search – this shows only half the choir and orchestra

In any case, this gentleman we were sitting with was on the lookout for his daughter. He told us he had told her he was going to set fire to a napkin and wave it around, so she would know where he was sitting! “No Dad!! Don’t embarrass me like that!!” Of course he was kidding. When he saw her, we saw her looking around, finally saw him and smiled. And she looked for him during the recessional – another smile. He had never seen the Candlelight Processional before, and was amazed at the performance. It was nice to see.

All these things go to make up our Christmas. It’s not just whether we get our house decorated…or the Christmas cards out in time…or who does or doesn’t come for the holiday. It’s everything taken together.

And the best part of all – is that we have the love of God in our hearts, and celebrate HIS birth for the salvation of this wretched world. We thank God He has enabled us to be His children.

 

Crosscards.com

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued through Christmas~~~~~~~~~~

 

You Tube has the complete 2016 Candlelight Processional with Jodi Benson if you would like to experience it this magnificent story.

 

Christmas is Coming!

3 Dec

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

 

Now that December is upon us, it’s time for more of those Christmas memories.

In the 1970’s, when we lived in Panama City, Florida (Tyndall AFB).

Photo credit WJHG.com

 

We had a habit – for Christmas – of taking at least one week off (probably two weekends and the week in between) and driving down to Titusville, for several days with my brother, Bill (Lites – another blogger), and his family. We always had a great time with them, and the cousins were able to renew friendship with each other. Karen and Renie (Charlene), being the oldest in the families, seemed to latch onto each other, while

Janet and Billy did the same. After some days there, we would drive across the peninsula to Clearwater to spend a few Christmas days with Fred’s parents in their “retirement” condominium. They hadn’t actually retired yet, but kept the condo for vacation purposes.

Credit Google search

 

I remember one Christmas especially. It was in 1976. We were planning on our annual Christmas trip to Titusville and Clearwater – when Janet (five years old at the time) came down with a fairly light case of chickenpox! She and I must have been exposed at the same time, because I came down with a VERY light case of shingles on my back at the same time. When Fred was a child and had the chickenpox, he apparently scratched a couple of the blisters on his face, resulting in a couple of “holes” or scars – one on each cheek. When Janet’s blisters erupted on her face, I held her up to her daddy and said, “see those scars on daddy’s face? (She nodded her head yes) If you don’t want those scars on your face – DON’T SCRATCH THEM!” Fortunately, she followed instructions quite well, and never had any scars on her face. Other parts of her body? Not sure!

I called Bill and DiVoran, and asked if everyone in their family had already had the chickenpox. DiVoran’s question was: “why? Are you bringing it down to us?” When I explained about Janet and myself, they both assured us that they were immune to that particular disease. So we made our trip, and all was well.

 

 

As just a side note about chickenpox – Karen never came down with the chickenpox at that time. She seemed to be exposed and exposed through the years, but it wasn’t until she was 14 years old that she actually caught the disease – much to her distress!

I’ll post other Christmas memories in future musings.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued through Christmas~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repurposing Christmas

22 Jun

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

We have been enjoying visits from family the past two weeks and I haven’t had much inclination to spend time on the computer. I do want to take a quick minute to share my latest repurpose project.  I fell in love with this gift bag at Christmas and purchased several to tuck Christmas gifts for my friends into them. When we returned to the mountains in May, I spotted one that I had left on the table when we closed up for winter. It brought me so much pleasure, I set it on top of our tea box as a decoration.  When I cut some hydrangea blossoms to enjoy in the house, I decided the Christmas bag would be a perfect way to dress up the plain vase.

 

Life After Christmas

5 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I am emerging from my Christmas fog. It began in mid December when I succumbed to a sinus infection. Since I am rarely sick, I spent quite a bit of time in denial. That might have been a contributing factor for the fog. Suddenly, it was Christmas, then Christmas eve. I do remember that we had a lovely Christmas morning with our children and grand children, then the fog descended once more.  I emerged again to celebrate our daughter’s birthday with a drive to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

The trip had been planned for several weeks but after the fires roared through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and down into Gatlinburg, it took on a poignant mood. We drove through one of the hardest hit areas, Chalet Village, and the devastation was heartbreaking. Out of respect for the owners and those who had lost loved ones, we did not take pictures.  If you would like to volunteer your time to help the hurting families, visit Volunteer East Tennessee

We ended our day in Pigeon Forge at The Island. The two big restaurants are The Timberline Grill and Paula Deen and there is an assortment of shops as well as an area with a carnival atmosphere including one of the new Eye rides. It is very pretty at night.

The Island

Two days later we drove to one of our favorite places in Franklin, Wayah Bald. Wayah was one of many National Park areas that were targeted for arson during November and December and we were anxious to see how the park fared. We knew that the roof on the fire tower had burned, but we were unprepared for the extent of the damage to the Flame Azalea plants as well as the smaller trees that lined the path. It was also odd to see green foliage next to burned tree trunks.

 I do clearly remember New Year’s Eve. We spent the evening with at least fifty talkative cousins, aunts and uncles. I love them so much! I have high hopes the fog is gone!

Snow is predicted for tomorrow night. We haven’t had snow yet this winter so I am excited and I have the required milk and bread! Hopefully I will have some pictures and a story  to share next week.

If you are in the path of the storm, stay safe and warm. If you are in Florida, you might want to pull out that sweater you seldom have the chance to wear.

coffee-cup-snowman

Christmases Past, Present and …Future?

25 Dec

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

Christmas, Christmas, Christ-mas….in the air… If you are ever at Walt Disney World, and EPCOT in particular in the Christmas season, stop by and hear the Voices of Liberty in the American Pavilion. The singers are dressed in Dickens-themed attire, and their songs are all Christmas, as well as a few Hanukkah songs. Totally delightful!

We have so many good memories of Christmases past. I’ve written about some in previous musings.

 

 

Christmas has always been a special time in our lives. Growing up, we usually had Christmas in our own home. Only once do I remember going to San Antonio, Texas to spend Christmas with my Grandmother and Aunt Jessie. And we were involved in a car crash approaching San Antonio! Not long after that, Granny and Aunt Jessie moved to Albuquerque.

I want share this one picture of my husband that I found.

 

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Since he was born in February, this would probably have been his second Christmas, but he was approaching his second birthday. Did you notice the Mickey Mouse toy beside him? Wow! Do I wish we still had that toy! However, I’m sure that it went through his years, as well as his three siblings. So it might not be in very good shape by now!

After we married and began having our own Christmas celebration, we found ourselves at either one or the other in-laws’ house. That “tradition” continued even after we began our family. After our girls were a bit older, I told Fred that we needed to start staying at home and making our own family “traditions.” His initial response was that our family “tradition” was to go somewhere else! But that didn’t last long.

 

Since we’ve moved to Florida, our tradition has continued to be…let’s celebrate in our own home, and let the children and grands come to us. That has worked well. I believe all but about one or two of the 21 years we’ve lived here have been anywhere but here. And one of our daughters and her family will be with us again this year.

 

 

As for the future:   well, who can say? Both of our girls live in states that have tons of COLD weather, and avoiding cold weather and snow was one of the reasons we moved to Florida! It also gives our daughters and their families an opportunity to experience lovely Florida warmth at Christmas time. At least that’s our excuse!

As we all know, the future is in God’s hands…and His plan for our lives is so much better than anything we could devise for ourselves. So we will continue to share our Christmas with our girls and their families, as long as they are willing. We will continue to share the Good News of Christmas with them – that God sent His one and only Son to this earth as a baby, so that He would die on a cross for our sins, but, miraculously, by the Hand of God, be raised from the dead and grave, to give us eternal salvation.

GOD IS AMAZING!! And He is LOVE. And He is PEACE.   And He is JOY. And He is all of those things, and more, in this life, with the promise of eternal life with Him. How great is that??!!

 

 

 

How to find triumph in tragedy

24 Dec

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

hanging-stockings

My son Joe’s empty stocking on the fireplace seared my heart. It had been twelve years since Joe’s tragic death.

Christmas no longer called for a celebration. Not anymore. Not when you have a vital part of your life missing. Festivities don’t have the joy they should.

And Christmas trees don’t emanate the usual scent.

Actually, my days needed to erase the Christmases, the birthdays, the holidays—all ushered pain rather than delight. They reminded me of what I once had and now what was gone.

The world celebrated, greetings of good wishes filled the room. But when tragedy turns your world upside down, no amount of cheer can bring clarity to the fog of sadness.

Strange, though, often, it’s the scorching pain that forces our eyes to open to a bigger picture. It did for me as I rewound memories of past Christmases.

Years ago, when our three sons, including Joe, were still young, I focused on providing a perfect Christmas; a perfect tree to wrap a perfect celebration. As a result, little things tended to roil in me such as a light strand that refused to shine because of a burned bulb. Annoyed at the glitch, I promptly set off to resolve it. I fussed, I rearranged, plugged and unplugged until frustration grew hot in me.

How foolish and silly. I focused on that one bulb, dismissing the glow of the star atop the Christmas tree.

I’ve done the same with light bulbs that burned in my life—from broken relationships to shattered plans. Exerting tons of energy trying to fix them, I missed Christ, the newborn King—the star that gave significance to my life. The star that covers shadows of gloom and sorrow.

Joe’s memories changed—his sweet smile, his tender hugs and his sense of humor now sit atop of my life, casting off that glow to bring back the joy.

To remind me that he’s not gone, not from my heart, not from my mind, nor have the images of his spunky self vanished.

When that void in our heart aches to be filled, it’s Christ’s star of comfort that makes it whole. When bitter sorrow robs the spirit of Christmas, it’s the star of His everlasting love that whispers joy. When a health diagnosis shakes our world, it’s His star of reassurance that shines the certainty of new tomorrows. When our finances rob our security, it’s the star of God’s provision that ushers the radiance of reassurance. It’s the same star that never loses the brilliance of hope. The hope that, through Christ, tragedies turn to triumph.

Source: How to find triumph in tragedy. | Janet Perez Eckles

Joy For All

23 Dec

From the Heart

Louise Gibson

20131225-010132

On the final day of a Christian publishing conference in Singapore, 280 participants from 50 countries gathered in the outdoor plaza of a hotel for a group photo. From the second-floor balcony, the photographer took many shots from different angles before finally saying,”We’re through”.  A voice from the crowd shouted with relief, “Well, joy to the world!” Immediately, someone replied by singing, ‘The Lord is come.” Others began to join in. Soon the entire group was singing the familiar carol in beautiful harmony.  It was a moving display of unity and joy.

In Luke’s account of the Christmas story, an angel announced the birth of Jesus to a group of shepherds saying, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” ( Luke 2:10-11)

The joy was not for a few people, but for all. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son”.(John 3:16)

As we share the life-changing message of Jesus with others, we join the worldwide chorus in proclaiming “the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.” “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” David McCasland

The good news of Jesus’s birth is a source of joy for all people.

 

“Merry Christmas, dear friends. And a Happy New Year.”

Louise Gibson

I Don’t Have a Title!

22 Dec

WordPress is being ornery.

It’s stressing me out.

I have a nasty cold

My nose has become a spout.

I refuse to give in

To woe is me.

I choose to allow

Laughter and love

To reign supreme!

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!

isaiah9-6

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