It's amazing what you re-discover as you clean out your bookshelf! Among the books I found (again) was one entitled, Devotions for Christmas. These are short devotionals centering around our pivotal Christian event, the birth of Jesus Christ. I had to share with you something that resonated with me and I hope you can use this little "nugget" throughout your day.
"We do not need to create something extraordinary for God to show up. He sent angels to shepherds in a field. Zechariah, a priest, was performing his duties in the temple when the angel Gabriel appeared to him. Jesus' first disciples were fishing when they were called to follow Him. Do you see a pattern? God shows Himself to ordinary people who are doing ordinary things. He knows where to find us, and when He does, beautiful things happen."
Here's to beautiful things happening in our lives this day!
Every Christmas I can remember, a Nativity set has been displayed. First, it started with my Grandma and then continued until I bought my very own set when I moved into my own place as an adult. The Nativity was a reminder of the Christmas Story which has been told each year of my entire life.
However, as I have gotten older, the Nativity has taken on a deeper meaning. Each piece of that Nativity Scene is representative of a profound truth that surrounds the birth of God's Son, Jesus Christ. It's just not about a baby born in a stable, surrounded by shepherds and animals with his mom and dad on each side of a makeshift baby crib.
I am hoping that throughout this month I can share with you some of the meanings that are often lost as we go through the motions of placing the Nativity Scene on display. Maybe you will look more extensively at each piece and thank our Heavenly Father for including each of us in that humble event that took place thousands of years ago.
Let's begin today with defining the word Nativity and discovering, by using an online dictionary, what the nativity represents. First, the definition of Nativity; "the birth of Jesus Christ" and/or "a picture, craving, or model representing Jesus Christ's birth."
What does the Nativity represent? "...for many Christians throughout the world, no matter the characters, the sight of a nativity still evokes the miracle of Jesus' conception, his humble birth, his ultimate sacrifice and the gift of everlasting life to those who believe. The true meaning of Christmas." (The words in bold print were emphasized by the dictionary.)
There is another question brought forth within the context of the online explanations. "Why is the Nativity so important?" And the answer is plainly and simply stated, "Christmas is important to many Christians because it reminds them that: Jesus, the Son of God, came to Earth for all people, symbolized through the visits of the wise men and the shepherds. Mary and Joseph both had a strong faith in God, despite the difficulties they faced." (Again, bold emphases is from the reference.)
I would ask as we move forward with these devotional thoughts, you reflect on your reasoning as to why a nativity scene is important during this season. Have you inadvertently begun to exhibit the Nativity as part of your yearly Christmas decor? Let's start anew today with the second chapter of Luke (NIV), verses 2-7 and begin to investigate a little closer the meaning of those pieces of our Nativity scenes.
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to live in a free society where we can display our Nativity scenes and worship the One, True God. Thank you for Jesus and this time of year when we can celebrate his birth in our homes, our hearts and our lives. Help us to reflect on our own yearly birthday parties and those of the ones we love so dearly and to realize Jesus deserves the same celebration each year! In His Name, Amen!
I guess I'm still on a Thanksgiving high with having my sweet family gathered around me for a couple of days. It was such a pleasant experience that I have been thinking about what comes next. Of course, Christmas is our most blessed season of the year, but after the New Year what's our plan? Now, if any of you know my hubby, Mr. Gary A. White, CPA, you will quickly know one of his character traits is planning. He knows destination times within a few minutes, he makes excellent travel plans including what time to leave and when we will arrive and actually includes stops for food. You gotta love it...and after 40 years, you go with the flow and actually begin to ask, "What's the plan?"
The only part of our life's plan that is currently up in the air is where we will head once our home is sold. Not that the house is up for sale yet because we haven't an idea of where we will set up housekeeping once the house sells! We've only been thinking about this decision for the past 11 years....so you can see our dilemma.
In fact, if you want to forward some ideas, just send them along. We actually read where a couple's house sold so quickly they bought an RV and have started to travel until they make up their mind where to put down roots! I just can't see hubby driving a truck and living out of an RV....in fact, I have a bit of trouble imagining myself in that situation. However, I'm up for an adventure. I have felt a deep responsibility for my mother since my dad passed away in 2013 and now that mom has joined the heavenly chorus I am, for the first time, not needing to make continuous trips to Virginia and check on every person that surrounds her daily life.
It would be a shame to waste time because before you know it, my kids will be making decisions for me and I have a feeling I won't be living in winter warm temps!
So, it's time to look forward....visualize myself elsewhere and go for it....and take hubby along for the ride! Pray for us. We will probably be at the same address next Christmas, but it's fun to think about it!
I haven't been as faithful to post each day this month. It just happened to be a month that I found myself unable to get to a computer and communicate all the many blessings the Lord bestowed upon me.
I didn't really know what Thanksgiving would look like this year after the home going of my Mama to her eternal home. There is just something about your mother not being somewhere on this earth and your inability to communicate with her that is just odd.
Since I often decorate for Christmas on the weekend after Thanksgiving, I began to wonder if I had been caught up in the decorations, the wrappings, the shopping and the baking more than emphasizing the true meaning of Christmas. Thus I pondered how many of the multitude of containers in our attic should surface this year.
But I have to admit, my children and grandchildren turned it all around for me Thanksgiving weekend. My house was full with laughter, conversation, decorating, playing games, and this year for the first time in many we rode out to a tree farm and selected a real, live tree for the family room! It was simply an amazing weekend filled with so many memorable moments they could not all be captured on our phones.
So I close out this month of giving thanks by thanking my family, my Lord and Savior and my sweet Mama, who taught me all about the journey in life and how important it is to have fun and let every single day count and to thank God for every breath. I hope you enjoy our weekend photos!
This past week our heating system had its 6 month checkup before winter. Gary met the company rep when he arrived and, after showing him where the furnace was located and all the necessary information, Ron, the representative, began his job checking out the furnace.
Once Ron was finished and got back into his truck, Gary came upstairs to my office and informed me that Ron had purchased one of my books! Now this was a surprise because the books are not anywhere in the basement with a big advertisement on them. However, there happens to be two open boxes on the pool table so Gary can grab a few books to place in our car when we are traveling. He calls them, "just in case book sales."
So I asked him, how in the world did he find the books? Gary replied, "Ron said he didn't want us to think he was nosey, but he saw the open box and the book, Being Led Beside Still Waters, was on top. He really felt as though he wanted to purchase one. Ron even asked at first, "Is your wife an author? Living right here in the township?" So I immediately asked if Ron was still in his truck in the driveway and I proceeded out the front door and asked if he cared if I signed it for him. He agreed with a smile and said, "Maybe I'll be back for more!"
Now here's what is interesting to me. There has been a pandemic and I have been cancelled for three speaking engagements/retreats. I haven't sold one book at any venues this year and my fourth book was just released in April. At times I wonder how the Word is going to get spread through this little ministry with the world closed down. The Lord continues to remind me not to be discouraged....the Word of God will prevail and will get out to those who need to hear and learn of Him. Even though the book details the blessings of God, the plan of salvation, is in a box in the basement....the Light of His Word will be discovered! Hallelujah!
This wasn't quite the picture outside my door today, but surprisingly it snowed in western Pennsylvania off and on all day! In fact, at one point the ground was covered, but alas, it didn't stay. There is something so beautiful when the snow falls in big flakes, slowly and quietly. Just seems the world should slow down and enjoy a few minutes of simply watching God color the earth with a blanket of white.
For this I am thankful today....SNOW!
I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you who sent condolences via Facebook to me and our family as Mama made her way home to glory. We had great moments remembering Mom/Granny/Grandma G/Mrs. G over the past week as we shared stories of our favorite times together. I also thank my dear friend, Cathy, for housing us for seven years just about every 4-6 weeks and then providing the opportunity for us to gather at the farm around a bonfire each evening to just reminisce...
I thought I would share with you how our benediction to Mama's service ended...with one of her prayers. This was a long one, about 8 minutes, but I thought since so many of you commented about her prayers, maybe you would like to hear her once again.
Thank you for your prayers, support, encouragement, cards and love during this time. Mama is home in glory with her Lord and Savior....after five years of blindness, she can see, hear clearly, walk/run/skip/hop, sing (on key) and gaze into the face of Jesus....along with being in the presence of those who have gone before. How can I be sad and wish for her back? Praise God, heaven's bounty has multiplied!
The lines of a poem, like lyrics of a song, become endearing because of the one who wrote those words. Going through countless photographs and other personal belongings of my parents recently, we came upon the words of a couple of poems my mother shared with her caregivers. There just seemed to be a longing for Mom to have these words written down and her caregivers became her scribes.
Today I am thankful for those words, maybe they were the lyrics to a song, or perhaps my Mom truly did come up with them but nonetheless, it's great to be able to share what was on her mind.
When evening folds her precious curtains and pins them with a star
Remember darling I'll always love you
No matter where you are.....
With a smile on my face, a song in my heart and a wave of my hand,
I have wandered into an unknown land where Jesus waits for me there
and welcomes me home.
Julia "Julese" Garbee
I am so thankful for Jesus Christ who came to earth, born of a virgin and lived a sinless life; professed the love of His Father for all; total forgiveness of sins upon repentance; suffered for the message He delivered; was crucified and rose again on the third day.
It is because of this belief I was taught as a child, and accepted as my own, that I have the assurance I will once again be reunited with my loved ones who have gone before me in death. This belief becomes stronger with each home going I experience. I am grateful God is preparing a home for me in glory and that one day all the chains of sin, death, disease, aging, blindness and unbelief will be broken.
But my prayer remains, as my Mama taught me, if there is one who doesn't know Jesus as Lord and Savior, may they come to accept him before breath leaves their body, In Jesus' Name, Amen!
There are many things I am thankful for throughout a time of grief and bereavement, but one of the main sources of gratefulness stems from the countless notes and messages I have received from friends and relatives through social media. Even though walking these next few days with COVID still abounding, it is with great confidence and hope we face the events for my mother's services.
Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for all your kind words of support and encouragement. It has been quite the year, but God still reigns, our Father sits on the throne and Jesus Christ is our loving Savior and the Holy Spirit continues to minister to our needs. May following our Lord always be our top priority because with Him by our side we can face anything.
Blessings, my friends!
Judith "Cookie" White is the founder of The Sounding Board Ministry. She is the author of two devotional books which are available on this site.