THE EVENING EDITION By Mike Huckabee
Good evening! Here are some stories from me that I think you will want to read.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE
This verse was recommended by Liz S.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7 KJV
To recommend a verse for the Evening Edition, email [email protected].
Back in 2011, inspired by my book “A Simple Christmas,” I asked listeners of my radio show “The Huckabee Report” to share their own favorite family Christmas memories. Some are heartwarming, and some are hilarious, but all of them are inspiring and wonderful.
1. A card or a phone call could mean the world to someone:
This year, it may be impossible to host a big gathering for distant friends and relatives. But don’t forget to let them know you’re thinking of them, and that “family” doesn’t just mean blood relations, as Mario from Indiana reminded us:
"I grew up in Mexico in an orphanage with 40 brothers and sisters. My mom and dad, as we called them, were missionaries for 28 years. When we celebrated Christmas, we had toys and clothing, but the best gift was that mom cooked breakfast for each child according to what we wanted to eat on Christmas day.
When I asked mom why she did that, she said, "This is my gift for you guys.... Something I can do with my own hands for you." I love my mom and dad for giving us love when our real parents didn't."
Thanks, Mario, for that great reminder that it's important at the holidays also to remember and include the people who are like family to us. Even if you can’t invite them to your home this year, a card or a phone call could mean the world to someone who’s feeling lonely and forgotten.
2. Christmas memories that last forever:
Joe from Oklahoma shared a special Christmas memory that sounds like something the dad in “A Christmas Story” might have pulled. Joe still vividly recalled when he was seven, and he and his two siblings rushed downstairs expecting to find stockings and gifts. Instead, they found mayhem. A toppled glass of milk, chairs thrown around, and the tree on its side.
They rushed to wake their parents, who came downstairs with crafty smiles. Joe’s dad was a police officer. He told them Santa had spilled the milk, refused to clean up after himself, and was rude to him. This had sparked a tussle that spilled out into the back yard. Then he pointed out a pile of dirt in the back yard the size of a fresh grave. Joe assured the kids that Santa escaped alive…but he said, “Rudolph will never (relieve himself) on our roof again.”
Well, I must admit, that’s one original way to create a lifelong Christmas memory for your kids! Or maybe just to scar them for life. Either way, it was unforgettable!
Annette from Texas also shared a funny Christmas memory that’s taken on serious meaning over the years.
Around the time she and her twin sister were teenagers in Pascagoula, Mississippi, in the late ‘50s, a tradition started in their small Baptist church to create a living Nativity scene. Members would dress up as all the characters of the Nativity, so that cars could drive by in reverence and awe and see the Christmas story in 3D. It took months of work, part of which was coaching teenagers on how to “be still and know God.”
However, they never could teach the live animals to be still and know God, so it could be pretty nerve-wracking, trying to stand motionless next to a live camel or goat with some less-than-reverent ideas of its own.
Luckily, Annette was given a very special role that didn’t require any animal wrangling, but it had its own unique hazards. She wrote:
“I was the angel on high – 20 feet high to be exact…When the angel climbed rickety, dark stairs at the back of the makeshift manger stall, the act itself took such fortitude and perseverance that the spotlight on her was snuffed every 15 minutes and a new angel would appear as fast as she could safely make that climb.
I prayed for all I was worth: not to fall, not to faint, and not to freeze to death…a few blocks from the Gulf, we never knew if we would have freezing cold or temps so hot at Christmas we could have worn bikinis under our angel attire – IF that would not have been a sin…But I digress. We were told that angels could not move a muscle. Even if the nose itched (or some other place), or if we felt a sneeze coming on, we HAD to remain perfectly still...Being 20 feet off the ground with arms outstretched for 15 minutes and a thin wooden support-cross hidden behind me in my white robe, I couldn't help but know—or pray for—God's presence.”
Annette said she didn’t remember having any epiphanies back then. But time and again over the years, when she needed guidance or to trust that things would work out, or to know that stillness can bring a peace that passes all understanding, she’s thought back to what she learned from her scary job, dangling over the Nativity Scene. As she put it:
“God reveals Himself to us in His son through His Holy Spirit. And I don’t need angel wings or a halo to fly to His presence. Just that hidden cross of support.”
3. The best gift this Christmas is giving to others:
On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of the One who told us, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” But on holidays like this that emphasize parties and socializing, many people feel lonely or abandoned. This year, even people who normally get invitations may be feeling lonely and isolated. They may not realize how many people really do care about them. Let this story from Linda in North Carolina be a reminder:
"Several years ago, we had a family up the hill who were having a very rough time. They had broken glass in their windows, no heat and no prospects for a nice Christmas.
We got neighbors together and one day when they were gone, the men went up and put in new glass, bought heaters and warmed up their trailer and went to get them a Christmas tree. The ladies and kids made ornaments, went to stores and got donations of toys and clothing, food and electric blankets. We all met at the trailer, cooked, decorated, put up the tree, wrapped packages, and made beds with the new blankets then went to our home to wait for them to return.
A while later, the family came running down the hill in the snow and flew into our house, trying to tell us through tears what someone had done. The mother couldn't believe that so many people cared about them. She didn't realize it, but being able to do that for them made Christmas very special for all of us.”
Thank you, Linda, for that perfect story to remind us that the gifts that give us the most satisfaction aren’t those we get, but the ones we give to others.
4. 'The Hungry Times'
These days, too many people are trying to take religion out of the Christmas season. It sometimes makes me think, “Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do…or what they’re missing.” Maybe this letter will make it clear.
A Reverend wrote to me from Malawi:
“After having been raised up in urban North American culture, it was refreshing, but also a bit disorientating, to spend my first Christmas in Africa in 2009. There was a Baptist Church of course, but no Christmas Trees and no caroling in the streets, and no mad dash to the Mall to buy presents. The mixed congregation of ex-pats and nationals who attended the Christmas Sunday service sang the carols we were accustomed to, but there appeared to be far less excitement…
This is the ‘Hungry Times’ when most folks, aside from us ex-pats, are living off of the stored up remnants of last year’s harvest, with an eye to how little there is left and how long until the next harvest comes in. Nevertheless, on the morning after Christmas, we were all called to return to the Church and bring food and clothing and the Word of God and prepare to visit Zomba Central Prison to distribute some hope and good cheer.
This Prison is a daunting facility built by Colonialists in the 1930's that, today, houses twice as many inmates as it was designed for. We shared the goods and the Gospel with inmates, in both men's wing and women's wing. And so, for me, began a ministry of Prison Chaplaincy in the Prisons of southern Malawi.
…It’s ‘Hungry Time" again, but I thank God that the inmates are hungry for the Gospel. In the six Prisons and Prison Farms where we work, we have seen over 240 decisions to accept Christ (including many from Muslim backgrounds) and 160 inmates Baptized and inmates are being transformed by the power of God. Some of those counseled before release are eager to return to their villages and tell others of the one who came as our Savior that first Christmas morning. And for that, I'll forever enjoy a different kind of Christmas.”
Thank you, Reverend, for sharing your unique Christmas experience with us. If you’d like to learn more about the fine work done by Emmanuel International Mission in Malawi and elsewhere, you can read about it online at www.EIM-US.org
5. Coming home this Christmas:
Sadly, this Christmas Eve, many families are unable to gather from far and near, as they usually do. But this story perfectly illustrates how only something as extreme as a pandemic can keep us apart from the ones we love at this blessed time of year.
A listener named Phyllis wrote that it was Christmas Eve, 1942. A young woman was waiting, pregnant and alone, for her husband of 4 months, who'd been drafted into the Army and was training to be a pilot somewhere in the Arizona desert. He had written to her that he couldn't get leave, so they would not be together on their first Christmas as husband and wife. Refusing to let herself get discouraged, she kept a light on in the window as she wrapped a few gifts.
Meanwhile, he was way off in Arizona, quietly reading letters from her, when his sergeant came into the barracks and asked what he was doing there on Christmas Eve. When he heard about the soldier’s pregnant wife, the sarge gave him permission to go home. But that was just the first obstacle down.
The young private grabbed a few belongings and raced to find any way to get back to California. But there were no more trains or buses that night. So he walked to the nearest highway and stuck out his thumb.
Somehow, he hitchhiked 450 miles home. His last ride dropped him off several miles from the cottage where his pregnant wife was. He walked the last few miles in pitch darkness, assuming that at that late hour, his wife would have long since gone to bed. But as he neared the little house, he saw the light shining in the bedroom window.
When he opened the door, he found his darling, still awake and thrilled to be in his arms again. She'd waited up for him, never giving up hope that her dearest would find some way to be home for Christmas. Phyllis wrote, "This true story was told to me by my dad before he passed away in 2000. The young couple were my parents…And I was the baby they were expecting."
I'm glad that Phyllis’ parents' faith in the power of love to overcome all obstacles was passed down to her, and I thank her for passing their family’s cherished story on to us.
6. I Just Wanted To Say:
Thank you for reading.