“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him.” Isaiah 30:18
As the Christmas season beckoned at my door, I could not help but reminisce about the memories of Christmas past. A lot of my flashbacks revolve around running to abuse shelters from my stepfather who was physically abusive. Even when things seemed calm on my home front, I could always count on the never-ending drama within my family to spice up the holiday season. Holiday drama and my family seem to go together like macaroni and cheese. While the majority of my early memories could put anyone in therapy, I did think about one Christmas that still puts a smile on my face even to this day.
It was the Christmas that my aunt, uncle, and cousins drove 12 plus hours in the sleet and snow to be with us during the holidays. I was in sixth grade and I still remember the smell of burning wood in the fireplace and the amazing meals my mom prepared. But, the best part of that Christmas was a present I received. To the outward eye it appeared that my aunt gave me a game, “Stop Thief” by Parker Brothers, but it was much more than that.
You see, that evening my family gathered around the dining room table and played until the wee hours in the morning. The entire room was filled with laughter as we chased the fictitious thief all over the game board. As an abused child who later nearly took her life at the age of 15, I held onto the laughter of that night during some of the hardest times in my life. The memory of that Christmas is still with me today. I am not sure when it happened or which state I lived in at the time, but I lost my most prized game, “Stop Thief.”
Now in my thirties, I decided it was time to replace my favorite game. My research uncovered that Parker Brothers no longer makes the game, and to my dismay, “Stop Thief “ is now considered a vintage game! My husband suggested that I attempt to locate the vintage game on E-Bay. I held my breath as I typed in the words “Stop Thief” on the E-Bay website, and there it appeared before my eyes, not only one, but several “Stop Thief” games were being sold that very day. I placed my highest bid, and to my surprise, won the game. I eagerly anticipated its arrival, and just three days later it was placed at my front door in Atlanta, Georgia. I opened the package, pulled out the game and saw my very own handwriting on the front cover that stated, “I love Michael Jackson” in red ink. The memory of using my brand new ink pen with multiple ink colors flooded my mind and I remembered choosing red because Michael Jackson wore a red leather coat in his Thriller video. Tears filled my eyes as I realized that I had not just received any “Stop Thief” game, but my original game from my childhood.
It was a miracle and I knew who had done it for me- my sweet Jesus. I had known of His love for me, but the fact that He found my original game that I had lost a long time ago is beyond amazing. God led a stranger in Illinois to end up with my game, sell it years later on E-Bay, and then have it delivered several states away to my front door. That shows me the restoration power of God! Joel 2:21-26 talks about how God will restore the years the locusts have eaten. I don’t know what you may have lost over the years; maybe the locusts of life have stolen from you as well. I encourage you to ask God to restore unto you things that you have lost. God is able to not only restore former things, but He always brings things back with increase beyond its original state. Jesus truly is the restorer of all things lost. After all, we once were lost, but now we are found.
Lord, I declare that the enemy must give back everything he has stolen from me! I proclaim that 2009 will be a year filled with the restoration power of God. I ask that you restore my body, my mind, my spirit, my relationships, my family, my reputation, my finances and anything else needing the restoration power of God. I love you Jesus and it because of your love that I believe 2009 will be the best year of my life.” Amen.
Tip #2 On how to keep Christ in Christmas: Helping those less fortunate.
TWT Reader, Gracie shares her idea, “my grand daughter wants to give Jesus a present, when my daughter asked me how I thought she should do that, I explained that Jesus would love to use our hearts and hands to do something really nice for someone that has no one. They are taking socks to a nursing home to give to residents. They have decided to “gift” Jesus every year.”
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager. Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:11-14
Our tree is up, our lights are twinkling and the joy of Christmas is finally here! My daughter, Alyssa loves rearranging all the ornaments on our tree, making crafts and cookies for family and friends and I am experiencing the wonders of Christmas all over again through the eyes of my precious little girl!
Everyday, Alyssa and I find ourselves singing, “Happy Birthday to Jesus” in anticipation of Christmas morning. We often read books about the true meaning of Christmas and I am teaching her about giving to those who are less fortunate…but then it happened…she saw a guy in a bright red suit named santa claus. Her response was priceless; with a puzzled look on her face, Alyssa turned to me and said defensively, “Whose that mommy…..Christmas is Jesus’ Birthday!” I laughed out loud and thought to myself, “Wow Alyssa, you are right, who is this guy sneaking into our homes on Jesus’ Birthday anyway? Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with playing the “game” of Santa Claus, but our children need to understand that Santa is just a GAME and that Jesus is REAL!
We live in a world that wants to take Christ out of Christmas, but my prayer is that all of us will respond with a loud shout, “Not on our watch.” Let us all enjoy the festivities of this Holiday season, even play the game of santa claus, but not forget what Christmas is about – to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus. After all how would you feel if someone else took all the attention away from your birthday?
How can we keep Christ the focus? I would love to hear all of your ideas. One way that we are able to focus on the birth of Jesus is every Christmas Eve, we make Jesus a birthday cake. I asked my daughter what Jesus’ favorite kind of cake is and she replied, “Chocolate!”
Lord, help us to always celebrate Your birth on Christmas morning! Forgive us for allowing the world to replace Your miraculous birth with business and gift buying. You are the greatest gift we could ever receive. As I enjoy the parties, games and joys of Christmas, help me to remember that You are the Reason for the Season! I will declare proudly everywhere I go, “Merry Christmas!” This is Your special day and we wish You a very Happy Birthday! Amen.”
Tip #1 on how to keep Christ in your Christmas:
Make Jesus a birthday cake on Christmas Eve. Alyssa and I are going to make Jesus’ Birthday cake together and she is going to decorate it with her favorite treat, M&M’s! Our plan is to wake up Christmas morning and sing “Happy Birthday to Jesus” and then eat a piece of cake for breakfast (now how much fun is that)? ? If you have ideas on how to keep Christ in Christmas, please click on the comment button and share them – I may even post your idea in the comings weeks!
Please welcome our guest writer for “Tuesdays With Tracy” today, Carol Abersold. Carol is the best selling author of “The Elf On The Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.” She is currently traveling throughout America signing books and bringing smiles to children everywhere. Please check out her wonderful website at: www.elfontheshelf.com. My daughter, Alyssa goes onto her website daily to make cookies for Santa. I know you will be blessed by Carol’s devotional today. Does anyone have a light?
Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give praise to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
Although I had tried to faithfully serve the Lord for more than fifty years, my light, for all intents and purposes, was out. I found myself in the blackest of pits mentally, physically and spiritually. I had been physically suffering with three herniated discs in my neck, my husband’s business was failing, and my in-laws let me know how much they disliked me after thirty-four years of pretense. I found myself curled up in a ball weeping and crying out to God for help, healing and deliverance. All hope seemed gone. Why was I, a Sunday school teacher, amateur Bible scholar, a word believing, walking, talking Christian suffering from hopelessness?!! My usually strong husband was suffering from his own worries ( I was one of them), and I “turned to God” but He seemed to be on vacation. What was the deal!
My oldest daughter came over to pray for me. She took action and made an appointment for me to get professional Christian counseling, and she encouraged me to start writing. My Eeyore-like reply was, “I have nothing to say.” Determined child (adult) that she is, she looked up on a shelf in my kitchen where my little pixie elf from childhood still remained even though the holidays were past. “Why don’t we write a book about the elf tradition?” she said. My reply was, “Oh, Chanda, nobody would want to read that……Okay.”
And so we began writing what turned out to be The Elf On The Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. While we were in the process of writing the story, I received the professional help I needed from Tracy Hurst. These two women, Chanda and Tracy, let the Lord use them to shine His light upon me. He graciously healed me from my pain, the source of our financial drain was revealed to us, and most importantly… I got my light back. The point is this: a Christian woman’s light never completely goes out, but it can grow extremely dim. Perhaps, you, like I, need someone to shine their light on you until you can get your “batteries recharged.” Don’t be afraid, just receive it. In turn, when darkness seems present in another’s life do not hesitate to shine your God-given light.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, let me be equally as willing to be set alight, as to shed light. Let the Holy Spirit remind me not to lose heart, because I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Let me not be ashamed to seek proper help when my light seems to dim, and let me be a beacon shedding Your light on everyone I meet today. Amen.