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Pray for the victims

December 30, 2019

I said that only urgent news would make me interrupt my family holiday before the New Year, but I think it’s urgent that I ask you to please join me in praying for the victims of a string of attacks on Jews in the New York/New Jersey area over the past week, and of Sunday’s shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, west of Fort Worth.  In Texas, two people are dead, including the shooter, and one injured.  The latest anti-Semitic attack in the Northeast happened in Monsey, New York, when a man walked into the home of a rabbi and stabbed five people who were celebrating Hanukkah.  This rising tide of anti-Semitic violence has many Jews voicing concerns that it is scarily reminiscent of the days before the Holocaust.

https://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/jewish-leaders-urge-action-after-senseless-hanukkah-attack

Fortunately, Texas recently passed a law allowing concealed carry permit owners to have their weapons in churches, so it did not turn into the kind of mass church shooting we’ve seen before. The service was being live-streamed on the Internet, and less than three seconds elapsed from the first shot to an armed guard stopping the shooter. 

https://pjmedia.com/trending/two-dead-in-texas-church-shooting-highlighting-the-need-for-good-guys-with-guns-in-places-of-worship/

The video also showed several members of the congregation pulling out weapons and pointing them at the shooter, so if the guard hadn't been there, half a dozen "good guys with guns" were. Contrary to predictions, they didn’t start firing wildly and hitting bystanders. They acted responsibly and were prepared to stop the shooter, if need be.  Who knows how many victims there might have been if they’d had to wait 15 minutes for the police to show up?   

But I don’t want to politicize these attacks because there are too many people already cynically and self-servingly doing that.  I’ll talk about some of the responses after New Year’s Day.  In the meantime, let’s concentrate on what’s really important and pray for those who were killed, for the swift and full recovery of the injured, for comfort for their loved ones, and for a miraculous cure to the sickness in the hearts of anyone who would defile a house of worship with violence or assault their fellow human beings just because of their religious faith. 

Parenting children

December 29, 2019

The first school in which we enroll, and the most important in shaping our future, is our home.  A casual view of modern TV shows might lead us to believe that parents don’t matter.  I contend that nothing matters more.

When Benjamin West was a boy, his mother left him in charge of his younger sister, Sally. Benjamin found bottles of colored ink and painted Sally’s portrait.  When his mother arrived home, she discovered spilled ink and ruined paper.  But before she had the chance to scold Benjamin, she saw the picture.  Then she planted an encouraging kiss on his cheek. He would grow up to become of the greatest painters of historic and religious artworks, a teacher of many other famous artists, and a major force in launching Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts, for which he served as president. Benjamin West would later say, “My mother’s kiss made me a painter.”

Every child’s life is like a book of blank pages waiting to be written on. Something is written each day. A parent who exposes a child of hours of television, video games, unsupervised time on the Internet, and an occasional trip to church is not likely to raise a child whose value system will mirror that of the parent.  The child will probably reflect the value system of the entertainment industry.

While researching for a book I co-wrote on juvenile delinquency (“Kids Who Kill”), I became aware that children need parents who are informed, involved and (yes) invasive in their children’s lives. There is no single fact that will explain why a child as young as eleven would commit mass murder, but one thing seems certain: the likelihood of this taking place decreases drastically when children have a stable home, good role models and parents who are clearly more afraid for their children than afraid of their children.

Too many parents fear angering or alienating their children.  They convince themselves that love means avoiding asking their children questions about how their time is spent and who their friends are.  They fool themselves into thinking they’re being good parents when they don’t hold their children accountable for their schoolwork and other activities.  On the other hand, we shouldn’t be “helicopter parents” who are so overprotective that our children turn into a generation of “snowflakes” who cannot learn through their failures or develop a healthy maturity and independence.

The requirement of parents summed up in Ephesians 6:4 is simple yet profound: “Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Children should not be driven to exasperation by parents who make demands that are so difficult to achieve that the children are prevented from succeeding.  There’s a vast difference between breaking a child’s rebellious will and breaking his or her spirit.

As parents, our goal should be to channel the energy of our children, rather than destroy their creative and curious natures given by God that motivate them to discover their unique purposes. We are further admonished to bring up our children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” By both example and exhortation, parents are to nourish their children.  Most values are caught and then taught. Our children are more likely to imitate what they see us do than what they hear us say.

We live in a world where a meal can be microwaved in seconds, and an Internet message can be transmitted around the world almost instantly (another reason why it would be nice if they were fact-checked before hitting “Send.”) But part of the legacy we must leave is raising children who understand that some things can’t be rushed.  Patience is a virtue as well as a pathway to victory.  Things of great value take time. 

If the thing to which you ascribe the greatest value in your life is your children, then don’t they deserve the greatest amount of time, nurturing and guidance you can possibly give?

(Adapted from the book, “Rare, Medium or Done Well: Make the Most of your Life.” https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/168397302X )

 

 

 

 

Evening Edition - December 29

December 29, 2019

The first school in which we enroll, and the most important in shaping our future, is our home.  A casual view of modern TV shows might lead us to believe that parents don’t matter.  I contend that nothing matters more.

When Benjamin West was a boy, his mother left him in charge of his younger sister, Sally. Benjamin found bottles of colored ink and painted Sally’s portrait.  When his mother arrived home, she discovered spilled ink and ruined paper.  But before she had the chance to scold Benjamin, she saw the picture.  Then she planted an encouraging kiss on his cheek. He would grow up to become of the greatest painters of historic and religious artworks, a teacher of many other famous artists, and a major force in launching Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts, for which he served as president. Benjamin West would later say, “My mother’s kiss made me a painter.”

Every child’s life is like a book of blank pages waiting to be written on. Something is written each day. A parent who exposes a child of hours of television, video games, unsupervised time on the Internet, and an occasional trip to church is not likely to raise a child whose value system will mirror that of the parent.  The child will probably reflect the value system of the entertainment industry.

While researching for a book I co-wrote on juvenile delinquency (“Kids Who Kill”), I became aware that children need parents who are informed, involved and (yes) invasive in their children’s lives. There is no single fact that will explain why a child as young as eleven would commit mass murder, but one thing seems certain: the likelihood of this taking place decreases drastically when children have a stable home, good role models and parents who are clearly more afraid for their children than afraid of their children.

Too many parents fear angering or alienating their children.  They convince themselves that love means avoiding asking their children questions about how their time is spent and who their friends are.  They fool themselves into thinking they’re being good parents when they don’t hold their children accountable for their schoolwork and other activities.  On the other hand, we shouldn’t be “helicopter parents” who are so overprotective that our children turn into a generation of “snowflakes” who cannot learn through their failures or develop a healthy maturity and independence.

The requirement of parents summed up in Ephesians 6:4 is simple yet profound: “Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Children should not be driven to exasperation by parents who make demands that are so difficult to achieve that the children are prevented from succeeding.  There’s a vast difference between breaking a child’s rebellious will and breaking his or her spirit.

As parents, our goal should be to channel the energy of our children, rather than destroy their creative and curious natures given by God that motivate them to discover their unique purposes. We are further admonished to bring up our children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” By both example and exhortation, parents are to nourish their children.  Most values are caught and then taught. Our children are more likely to imitate what they see us do than what they hear us say.

We live in a world where a meal can be microwaved in seconds, and an Internet message can be transmitted around the world almost instantly (another reason why it would be nice if they were fact-checked before hitting “Send.”) But part of the legacy we must leave is raising children who understand that some things can’t be rushed.  Patience is a virtue as well as a pathway to victory.  Things of great value take time. 

If the thing to which you ascribe the greatest value in your life is your children, then don’t they deserve the greatest amount of time, nurturing and guidance you can possible give?

(Adapted from the book, “Rare, Medium or Done Well: Make the Most of your Life.” https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/168397302X )

----------------------------

Feel-Good/Huck's Hero Story of the Day (and we could really use one): Actor Gary Sinise and his Foundation, in partnership with American Airlines, just sent Gold Star Family children and their surviving parents on his annual “Snowball Express” flights to Disney World for a five-day, all-expenses-paid vacation.  The Gary Sinise Foundation says that "the holidays can be especially challenging for grieving families," so they provide "a therapeutic retreat with a blend of fun and inspiring programs."

https://pjmedia.com/vodkapundit/gary-sinise-takes-1000-gold-star-kids-to-disney-world/

And they’ve provided it to a staggering number of military families: 1,000 children and 750 parents this year alone -- and it’s their 14th year! Sinise was inspired to start the program when he read of a letter written by a soldier to his wife, saying he wanted to take the family to Disney World when he got home – but he was killed in action and never made it home. 

This is a reminder that there are still some patriotic good guys left in Hollywood.  If you’d like to help Gary’s many efforts to entertain the troops and to help active duty military members, veterans, first responders and their families, visit https://www.garysinisefoundation.org/

And if you’d like to learn more about why Gary is such a tireless supporter of our military (he’s been called “the Bob Hope of our generation”) and why he’s so grateful to be an American, you can hear it in his own words in this terrific interview he gave us on “Huckabee” on TBN.

https://youtu.be/dXr0QulxMnQ

 

------------------------------

We are finishing the year 2019 and I’m glad.  This has been a grueling year if you have to follow the news as I’m required to do as a TV commentator and publisher of a daily newsletter.  I’m frankly sick of the never-ending serial attempts to overturn the election results of 2016.  Remember when it was all about Russia and collusion?  And then the Mueller report fizzled even though taxpayers spent about $35 million for a desperate effort to implicate President Trump.  Then we heard obstruction of justice, until that “bombshell” became a dud; then it was quid pro quo, then extortion, then bribery, then obstruction of Congress.  Frankly, given how recklessly irresponsible Congress is, obstructing it ought to be grounds for a prize, not an impeachment.  But Democrats in Congress clearly are frantic because they have a weak field of candidates and they fear not one of them can defeat a President who has juiced the economy, jobs, the stock market and wages and who has pushed back against bad trade deals and  America getting sucker-punched by foreign governments.  We were once content to let the US pay the bills for NATO, trade deficits, and endless wars in the Middle East.  Granted, President Trump isn’t always artful in what he says or how he says it, but he is disrupting the deep state of globalism, institutionalism, and bureaucracy.  And the powers of government, media, and big business is fighting back—not to protect your interest, but theirs.

So next year is 2020, and I’ll attempt to give you 2020 vision into what we can expect for the coming year, which of course will be a Presidential election year.

I predict that Joe Biden will slightly edge socialist Bernie Sanders and will be the nominee for the Democrats-not because he’s a good candidate but because he will be viewed as not as crazy as the others.  The media will ignore his daily verbal gaffes and he will be presented as a seasoned and ready captain, even though Bob Gates who served President Obama and President Bush 43 as a cabinet member said of Joe Biden, “He’s consistent in that every single position he’s taken on foreign policy is wrong.”

I predict that Democrats will pay a heavy price for having wasted a year of do-nothingness and millions of taxpayer dollars chasing down a reason to impeach President Trump.  They constantly use the phrase they can “walk and chew gum at the same time,” but they tend to drop their gum on the ground and then get their shoes stuck on it.  Voters in their districts have been benefited far more by the economic policies of President Trump than by the phony and hateful efforts by the Democrats to impeach him. 

In other areas, I predict that Tom Brady will announce his retirement from the NFL—effective in the year 2045, and that the World Series will feature the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers.  Not because I have any reason to actually believe that, but they are my favorite teams in their respective National and American Leagues and I just want that to happen.  The Oscars will be canceled because no one wants to hear whiny Hollywood actors lecture us on their worthless political views.  CNN will lose so many viewers that it will cease operations as a News Channel and will become a television safe space where triggered liberal snowflakes can sit in a dark room and watch a blank screen, which will vastly improve the programming they currently offer.  And finally, the Huckabee Show will win 6 Emmys and 10 Golden Globes for being the best show in television!  And that would truly be 2020 vision!

Morning Edition - December 29

December 29, 2019

Melvin from Oregon wrote to share a very special Christmas memory about a small gift that made a very big impression on him:

“Christmas 1945.  I am five years old, and we are still staying with my grandparents… My father was in Japan in the Second World War, his two brothers were in the European theater.  All three came home OK. I thank God for that and for all of the men that have gone before.

We are trimming the Christmas tree. Grandpa comes in, and he has all of these walnuts that he has painted silver and put a yarn loop on to hang them with. Well I think they’re neat, but that’s about it.

Christmas morning, I come down and start opening my presents. Grandpa says, ‘Why don't you open one of those walnuts?’ I say ‘Naw, I got to open my presents’… Well grandpa keeps after me. Finally, I say, ‘Okay!’  So I crack a walnut open, and a penny falls out. Well, NOW, I'm opening walnuts!  There's dimes, nickels, and pennies.  When I get done, I have about a dollar fifty, and that’s big money in 1945

…My grandfather thought enough of me to take the time to cut the walnuts open and take out the meat for grandma to cook with. Then he put a coin in and glued each one back together, just to make a little five-year-old boy happy on Christmas morning.

Sixty-five years later, I don't remember anything else I got that Christmas.  But I remember the walnuts and the love that went into making them. That might be something for young parents to think about... It really is the little things that count the most.” 

Thanks, Melvin, for giving us all something important to remember before we go frantically hunting for whatever the latest “hot” gift is.   

 

* * * * *

Nobody is more excited about Christmas Day than children, and sometimes, it inspires them to come out with some real gems.  For instance, Mona from Kentucky wrote:

“When I was a child, we had a coal stove. One of those potbellied stoves. Of course with those stoves, there was a small pipe that went out the ceiling so the smoke would not get in the house. I remember wondering how Santa got down that skinny pipe.  So one day I asked Mom how he got down that pipe.  I guess I really put her on the spot because she replied, “He has a house key!”  And that satisfied me.” 

Thank you, Mona, and Merry Christmas to your mom, who I bet had to answer a lot of tough questions before you grew up! 

 ------------------------

Here’s another story of a Christmas miracle that started with the words of a child.  Tom from Louisiana wrote that he used to volunteer for the park district in Calumet City, Illinois, in a low income area.  One year, the man playing Santa was ill, so Tom filled in.  It was a hard job, listening to the Christmas wishes of hundreds of children, knowing most of their parents were too poor to make them come true. 

One day, a little 5-year-old girl, as beautiful as a china doll, hopped up in his lap and didn’t say a word.  He asked her if she’d been good and obeyed her parents.  She said yes.  So he asked what she wanted for Christmas.  She replied, “Nothing.” 

Tom was dumbfounded.  He asked if she was sure she didn’t want anything.  She said not for herself.  But could Santa give her daddy a job?  He needed a job.  Well, Tom didn’t know how to answer that.  So he just said he’d try his best, but that was one wish Santa might not be able to fill.

But, Tom wrote:

“God works in great ways.  At the time the young girl was sitting on my lap, (a local reporter) was there taking pictures and…overheard the child’s conversation with Santa. The next day, the paper (ran a photo) of the little girl sitting on Santa’s lap with the caption ‘All she wants for Christmas is a job for her daddy’…The next day, the little girl’s father received a call and was offered a job. A day or so later, the little girl came back to see me with my favorite chocolate chip cookies and a thank you for Santa…

Till this day, and it’s been at least twenty-five years, I still tear up thinking about that little girl and her unselfish wish. Christmas is truly about miracles.” 

Thank you, Tom.  I bet that little girl was the best gift her daddy ever received. 

--------------------------

We are finishing the year 2019 and I’m glad.  This has been a grueling year if you have to follow the news as I’m required to do as a TV commentator and publisher of a daily newsletter.  I’m frankly sick of the never-ending serial attempts to overturn the election results of 2016.  Remember when it was all about Russia and collusion?  And then the Mueller report fizzled even though taxpayers spent about $35 million for a desperate effort to implicate President Trump.  Then we heard obstruction of justice, until that “bombshell” became a dud; then it was quid pro quo, then extortion, then bribery, then obstruction of Congress.  Frankly, given how recklessly irresponsible Congress is, obstructing it ought to be grounds for a prize, not an impeachment.  But Democrats in Congress clearly are frantic because they have a weak field of candidates and they fear not one of them can defeat a President who has juiced the economy, jobs, the stock market and wages and who has pushed back against bad trade deals and  America getting sucker-punched by foreign governments.  We were once content to let the US pay the bills for NATO, trade deficits, and endless wars in the Middle East.  Granted, President Trump isn’t always artful in what he says or how he says it, but he is disrupting the deep state of globalism, institutionalism, and bureaucracy.  And the powers of government, media, and big business is fighting back—not to protect your interest, but theirs.

So next year is 2020, and I’ll attempt to give you 2020 vision into what we can expect for the coming year, which of course will be a Presidential election year.

I predict that Joe Biden will slightly edge socialist Bernie Sanders and will be the nominee for the Democrats-not because he’s a good candidate but because he will be viewed as not as crazy as the others.  The media will ignore his daily verbal gaffes and he will be presented as a seasoned and ready captain, even though Bob Gates who served President Obama and President Bush 43 as a cabinet member said of Joe Biden, “He’s consistent in that every single position he’s taken on foreign policy is wrong.”

I predict that Democrats will pay a heavy price for having wasted a year of do-nothingness and millions of taxpayer dollars chasing down a reason to impeach President Trump.  They constantly use the phrase they can “walk and chew gum at the same time,” but they tend to drop their gum on the ground and then get their shoes stuck on it.  Voters in their districts have been benefited far more by the economic policies of President Trump than by the phony and hateful efforts by the Democrats to impeach him. 

In other areas, I predict that Tom Brady will announce his retirement from the NFL—effective in the year 2045, and that the World Series will feature the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers.  Not because I have any reason to actually believe that, but they are my favorite teams in their respective National and American Leagues and I just want that to happen.  The Oscars will be canceled because no one wants to hear whiny Hollywood actors lecture us on their worthless political views.  CNN will lose so many viewers that it will cease operations as a News Channel and will become a television safe space where triggered liberal snowflakes can sit in a dark room and watch a blank screen, which will vastly improve the programming they currently offer.  And finally, the Huckabee Show will win 6 Emmys and 10 Golden Globes for being the best show in television!  And that would truly be 2020 vision!

 

Melvin from Oregon wrote to share a very special Christmas memory about a small gift that made a very big impression on him:

“Christmas 1945.  I am five years old, and we are still staying with my grandparents… My father was in Japan in the Second World War, his two brothers were in the European theater.  All three came home OK. I thank God for that and for all of the men that have gone before.

We are trimming the Christmas tree. Grandpa comes in, and he has all of these walnuts that he has painted silver and put a yarn loop on to hang them with. Well I think they’re neat, but that’s about it.

Christmas morning, I come down and start opening my presents. Grandpa says, ‘Why don't you open one of those walnuts?’ I say ‘Naw, I got to open my presents’… Well grandpa keeps after me. Finally, I say, ‘Okay!’  So I crack a walnut open, and a penny falls out. Well, NOW, I'm opening walnuts!  There's dimes, nickels, and pennies.  When I get done, I have about a dollar fifty, and that’s big money in 1945

…My grandfather thought enough of me to take the time to cut the walnuts open and take out the meat for grandma to cook with. Then he put a coin in and glued each one back together, just to make a little five-year-old boy happy on Christmas morning.

Sixty-five years later, I don't remember anything else I got that Christmas.  But I remember the walnuts and the love that went into making them. That might be something for young parents to think about... It really is the little things that count the most.” 

Thanks, Melvin, for giving us all something important to remember before we go frantically hunting for whatever the latest “hot” gift is.   

Christmas and children

December 29, 2019

Nobody is more excited about Christmas Day than children, and sometimes, it inspires them to come out with some real gems.  For instance, Mona from Kentucky wrote:

“When I was a child, we had a coal stove. One of those potbellied stoves. Of course with those stoves, there was a small pipe that went out the ceiling so the smoke would not get in the house. I remember wondering how Santa got down that skinny pipe.  So one day I asked Mom how he got down that pipe.  I guess I really put her on the spot because she replied, “He has a house key!”  And that satisfied me.” 

Thank you, Mona, and Merry Christmas to your mom, who I bet had to answer a lot of tough questions before you grew up! 

Here’s another story of a Christmas miracle that started with the words of a child.  Tom from Louisiana wrote that he used to volunteer for the park district in Calumet City, Illinois, in a low income area.  One year, the man playing Santa was ill, so Tom filled in.  It was a hard job, listening to the Christmas wishes of hundreds of children, knowing most of their parents were too poor to make them come true. 

One day, a little 5-year-old girl, as beautiful as a china doll, hopped up in his lap and didn’t say a word.  He asked her if she’d been good and obeyed her parents.  She said yes.  So he asked what she wanted for Christmas.  She replied, “Nothing.” 

Tom was dumbfounded.  He asked if she was sure she didn’t want anything.  She said not for herself.  But could Santa give her daddy a job?  He needed a job.  Well, Tom didn’t know how to answer that.  So he just said he’d try his best, but that was one wish Santa might not be able to fill.

But, Tom wrote:

 

“God works in great ways.  At the time the young girl was sitting on my lap, (a local reporter) was there taking pictures and…overheard the child’s conversation with Santa. The next day, the paper (ran a photo) of the little girl sitting on Santa’s lap with the caption ‘All she wants for Christmas is a job for her daddy’…The next day, the little girl’s father received a call and was offered a job. A day or so later, the little girl came back to see me with my favorite chocolate chip cookies and a thank you for Santa…

 

Till this day, and it’s been at least twenty-five years, I still tear up thinking about that little girl and her unselfish wish. Christmas is truly about miracles.” 

 

Thank you, Tom.  I bet that little girl was the best gift her daddy ever received. 

 

When I was growing up, my bedtime ritual always included a fairy tale that started with “Once upon a time...” and ended with the comforting words we all remember: “And they lived happily every after.” As a child of the optimistic 1950s, I dreamed that life might be like that: whatever obstacles, dangers or perils might come my way, in the end, I would live happily ever after.

There were certainly plenty of struggles along the way, but I have to say that things did eventually work out even more happily than I could have imagined, from a career that I love to a wonderful family, including the world’s greatest grandkids. But sadly, for many people, “living happily ever after” does seem like an unobtainable fairy tale. Why is that happy ending seemingly out of reach for so many people?

Of course, there are always factors beyond our control, like health problems and accidents. None of us can ever know if our birthday or Christmas celebration was the last we’ll ever enjoy. We have no way of knowing when it will all end, only that someday, it will (that’s why it’s said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes.)

Well, I can’t help you with your taxes, but I do have a bit of advice that I think will make death less frightening and greatly increase your chances of living “happily ever after.”

For decades, our nation has been focused on personal pleasure. The message drummed into everyone by pop culture is “If it feels good, do it.” It’s fostered a culture of self-centeredness that led to Baby Boomers being nicknamed “The Me Generation.” Today’s young people have been dubbed “iGen” because many are so fixated on self and selfies that even their gadgets’ names all start with “I.” Advertising bombards us with the message that life is all about me and all about now. Such messages of immediate self-gratification may sell products and services, but they cause us to sell our souls if we follow this philosophy to its logical conclusion.

At some point in life, we all experience events that shake up our routine, much like the agitator in a washing machine shakes loose the grime in our clothes. We may not want or enjoy such experiences, but they’re necessary to force us to focus on the frailty of life and the certainty of death. They also force us to begin asking what really matters and why.

If we react to setbacks based solely on what feels good right now, we greatly lower our chances of enjoying a happy future. But if we believe there is even a remote possibility that our actions have lasting implications beyond the immediate, both within and beyond our lifetimes, it should cause us to think differently, live differently, and leave a different kind of legacy.

Without apology, I believe that the spiritual side of our lives really does matter. To believe otherwise is to define humans as little more than animated protoplasm, going through the motions of life for no particular purpose. I prefer to believe there’s more to us than flesh and blood. If we possess a soul capable of living beyond our lifetimes, then the seeds we plant in this life will yield fruit forever. If you believe those things, the ultimate becomes more important than the immediate.

When we decide to live beyond our lifetimes, our responsibilities to the next generation will outweigh our roles in our current jobs. More important than the money we’re paid for our work is what we will become as a result of our work. Our character will become more important than the careers we follow.

For all of us, life began “once upon a time.” Unlike the fairy tales, however, it’s up to us to make the choices that determine whether the last line of our life stories will read, “And they lived happily ever after.”

(Adapted from the book, “Rare, Medium or Done Well: Make the Most of your Life.” https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/168397302X )

The story of Christmas

December 28, 2019

The story of Christmas is, at its heart, the story of the world’s joy at the birth of a baby.  So it’s no wonder many people develop a deeper appreciation of Christmas after having children of their own. 

Rod and Amy from North Carolina recalled that over 25 years ago, they were filling out paperwork to adopt a child from Korea.  They wrote:

“Our then-3-year-old prayed every night that her baby would be home for Christmas, and she told everyone who asked that she was getting a little sister for Christmas. When Christmas came and went and we still hadn't heard from the adoption agency, we feared our little one's faith in a God who hears our prayers would be weakened.

But then, in February, we got the long-awaited call telling us about a gorgeous little girl named Joo Bin.  Imagine our amazement, joy, and awe when we heard her birthday was…December 24. We had NO DOUBT she was ours!” 

Thank you, Rod and Amy.  And I’m sure you’ve never had a doubt in all the years since.  Now, here’s another story about a baby that proves the best Christmas gifts come in small packages.

Mary B. Walsh of the nostalgic and inspiring “Dear Baby Boomer” blog (I highly recommend you check it out at http://dearbabyboomer.blogspot.com) shared this special memory of another child who appeared at Christmas.  It was 1956, and Mary was five years old.  Six glittering stockings were hung on the mantle.  The kids circled the piano and sang as Dad played “Joy to the World” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  Mary wrote:

“Snow was falling silently, draping our familiar world in soft flannel...It would be a white Christmas for sure!  A muffled voice broke through the darkness. The playing stopped as we stood motionless, hoping to hear it once again.

‘It's a BOY! We have a BOY!‘

Dad threw open the window and a gust of chilly winter air swept in the joyous news. Our neighbor leaned out the window, waving her arms ecstatically, heralding the birth of her great grandson. Jimmy John would be a welcome addition to the family of three daughters! Waiting hot chocolate topped off the excitement before heading up to bed.

As I lay awake, gazing out at the full winter moon. I pondered the words we had sung... ‘Joy to the world...The Lord is come...Let earth receive her King...’  An only son had been born tonight, bringing joy which could not be contained. They wanted to share it with the world...Kind of like the angels so long ago. God's only son, born on a night such as this...Yet more than just a babe He was...

I thought back a year, remembering my oldest brother pointing out the silhouette of Santa's reindeer crossing in front of the moon out my window. I was sure I saw it too! How could I sleep? But this year was different. I closed my eyes and slept so peacefully... I was not looking for reindeer...for I had heard the angels sing!”

Thank you for sharing that beautifully written story, Mary.  And I wonder if one more coincidence occurred to you? That the person who gave us this inspiring story of a precious child born on Christmas Day was named…“Mary.” 

Evening Edition - December 28

December 28, 2019

This time of year, one of the many great holiday songs we always hear is the late, great Glenn Campbell’s “Christmas Is For Children.” That sentiment was also on the minds of many of my radio listeners whose most treasured memories of Christmas were tied to childhood – either their kids’ childhoods or their own.

Some were of the “Kids Say The Darnedest Things” variety.  For instance, Joe from Georgia recalled when his son was 7, their church had a pancake breakfast with a “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake for the kids, and the Lord’s Supper for adults during the Christmas Eve service.  His son tugged his sleeve and asked, “Dad, why am I allowed to eat the Lord’s Breakfast but not His supper?” 

An eternal theological question, my son!

There's something about the excitement of Christmas that makes children even more hilariously discombobulated.  Cleve from New Mexico wrote, "At our house, we always opened our presents on Christmas morning. I remember the first year my daughters were really, really, really looking forward to Christmas.  On Christmas Eve morning, they jumped out of bed, ran into the kitchen, and hollered, 'Today's the night we get up in the morning!!'"  Well, they were right: it was! 

Dolores from Texas recalled that during the Depression, her parents gave her and her sister Betsy Wetsy dolls, and made a little suitcase and a whole wardrobe for them.  Dolores said it was the “best Christmas ever!”  The girls were so excited, they didn’t even realize until years later that those were actually their old dolls, all cleaned up.  The moral: To a child, a gift doesn’t have to be new…just new to THEM.   

Claudine from North Dakota shared this:

“When my kids were little, the church was getting together some toys, gifts and food items for a poor family who had just moved to our area at Christmas time.  While looking in the pantry to see what we might have extras of, I asked my children what they would like to give. My daughter - then six years old - went to her room and brought down her Barbie doll complete with Barbie outfits, that she loved to play with. It was her only one.  When I said, ‘Oh, honey, you don't have to give your favorite doll’, she said to me, ‘Mommy, if you just give what you don't want, it's not really giving, is it?’” 

When you “give till it hurts,” as some people put it, it can actually feel pretty good. Thank you, Claudine, for reminding us that sometimes, parents can learn from children.

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BettyJean from California had a favorite childhood Christmas memory that reminds us not to look a gift horse in the mouth.  She wrote:

"I was born in 1928 in a small town in Montana. My mother died in 1929... (and) we were very poor...One Christmas my friend, Rex, whose parents had a restaurant in town, gave me a beautifully wrapped present. I was SOOOO EXCITED! Christmas Eve, my brother and I unwrapped our two presents. My brother watched me unwrap mine: a box of candy.  And I can still hear him, 70 years later...yelling out, "DAAAAAD! THERE'S A PIECE GONE!!!!!"

I guess that proves little boys haven't really changed much in all these years! 

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Of course, Christmas is also a time when many of us former children experience the sadness of memories of parents who are no longer with us. I received many stories from people who were rocked by a flood of emotions at something as simple as coming across an old family decoration that their dad made, or the smell of a favorite family dish that mama used to cook. You never know what unlikely things might trigger overwhelming emotions. 

For example, Linda from Texas recalled that her grandfather’s last Christmas gift to her dad just before he died was a shirt.  He never wore that shirt.  But he kept it hanging in his closet for the rest of his life, carefully preserved as a reminder of his dad.    

Ellen from Oregon would understand that feeling.  Her mother died of a brain tumor that had scrambled her thinking and sometimes made her a little exasperating.  Just before Christmas, she made a big production of being driven to the post office to buy Christmas ornament postage stamps.  She debated at great length before settling on the design, which she insisted on calling the “Jingle Bell stamps.”  The postal clerk put three sheets of stamps in an onionskin envelope for her.  Her mom proudly took them home, wrote “Christmas stamps” on the envelope, and displayed them on the windowsill for all to see.  It seemed a little silly to Ellen at the time.

One month later, as she and her sisters were cleaning out their late mother’s house, Ellen came across her mom’s beloved Jingle Bells stamps in the onionskin envelope with her handwriting on it.  She wrote, “I took them into the bathroom and cried.”  She took the envelope with the remaining stamps home with her.  Long afterward, when her husband needed a stamp, she opened the stamp drawer, saw them again, and cried again. 

She began calling them the “Jingle Bell stamps,” too.  There are only three stamps left, and there always will be. Ellen said she could never use them.  She wrote:

“It’s almost as if when those stamps are gone, one more thread will be cut…But somehow I know I will never give up that little onion skin envelope. Whenever I buy stamps, it will always be in sheets, and I will always tuck them into that little onion skin envelope.” 

Thank you for sharing that, Ellen.  And please know that you are not alone.  Many of us treasure things that might seem silly to others, but they hold value beyond gold to us.  There’s no reason to be embarrassed about having a reminder of your mom in the stamp drawer.  But it’s even better to know that we’ll always have memories of our loved ones who’ve left us tucked safely away in our hearts. 

 

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Christmas is a time for prayers and miracles, and one often follows the other.  Rosalin from Virginia shared a story that proves God sometimes shows a very personal interest in us, if we’ll just ask Him into our lives.  She wrote:

"Years ago, when our children were younger, we ran into hard times. It was a Wednesday morning, and Christmas was on Saturday.  We had no money for Christmas gifts and no savings in the bank. My husband was home without work as a carpenter.  He suggested we join hands and pray, which we did.

Three hours later, friends of ours called from New York to tell us that they'd received a large Christmas bonus from work, and God put our family on their hearts. They told us they'd sent us $350 through Western Union...not knowing of our situation. We picked up the check and went Christmas shopping.  It was a GREAT lesson my children will NEVER forget!" 

Thank you, Rosalin.  That's a great story that none of us will ever forget! 

 

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Dorothy from North Carolina wrote:

“It's been a few years ago now, that through an unusual set of circumstances I met a dear Christian lady named Hilda N-----.  Hilda had endured many hardships in life…Now, in her later years… she lived in abject poverty with…crippling arthritis.  It was Christmas and I had a gift for Hilda. Mark and I were dating at the time and I asked him to go with me to Hilda's humble home…  But it wasn't my gift that I've remembered all these years...it was HER gift, given liberally out of her poverty, that I will never forget.

She and I had exchanged gifts, her gift to me a small ceramic bell with a cross at the top from the dollar store. And then came the moment I cherish yet today. She looked at Mark apologetically and reached down into the cushion of the chair…fumbling until she finally retrieved a small, zippered change purse. Her gnarled, misshapen fingers (terribly twisted from the arthritis) moving slowly and with painful effort, she managed to open the purse… Finally, she turned to Mark and, pulling out a folded, crumpled $1.00 bill, she held it out to him.

Her soft, quiet voice and loving manner gave eloquence to the gesture. ‘I didn't know YOU were coming so I didn't have a gift for you.  Here’, she handed him the dollar bill, ‘Merry Christmas.’

Tears sprang to my eyes as I knew what a sacrifice was represented in the giving of the dollar bill. Her heart of love and her desire to share the little she had gave her gift more meaning than a purse full of gold.” 

Thank you, Dorothy, and Hilda, for reminding us that Christmas isn’t about what we get, it’s about what we give.  

 

 

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A story for us all to remember

December 27, 2019

Isaiah 11:6 tells us that "a little child shall lead them."  That's what the Christmas story is all about.  And the miraculous connection between children and Christmas goes far beyond toys and Santa.  Jennifer from Arizona wrote:

"When my son was about 2-1/2, I noticed he took a pair of his flip-flop shoes and placed them under the Christmas tree. I asked him why. (He said,) "They are for little Jesus. He doesn't have any shoes, and I am giving Him my shoes."   I asked him who 'little Jesus' was, and he told me, 'God's son.' 

Now, mind you, we hadn't, at that point, taken him to church yet.  I had no idea where he got this story...It just goes to show that the little ones have more vision and hope than most adults when it comes to Christmas."

You're right, Jennifer.  And I have another miraculous Christmas story to prove it.  Gerald from Alabama wrote:

"My Dad was stationed at England Air Force Base, Louisiana, in 1962.  In mid-November, he got orders to go to Spain for 90 days. I was 8 at the time. My mom and I went to the base to watch them take off in cargo planes. She said "I wish he didn't have to be gone during Christmas." 

Some of the planes had already taken off, and there were about three or four waiting to leave.  According to my mom, I said, "They are not going to go," and I pointed to one of the planes that hadn't taken off and said "Daddy is in that plane," as it began to head to the end of the runway. I said, "It is going to stop at the end of the runway, turn around and come back and park right there" as I pointed to a place.

The plane stayed at the end of the runway about 10 minutes, turned and came back and parked at the place I pointed out. My mom got chill bumps all over her when this happened and she was really surprised when the Airmen started to get off, and there was my Daddy. The other planes started to land...The orders had been cancelled.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas that year...I remember some of what I said and especially the part about the plane turning around and coming back to park. But my mother was in awe that everything I said actually happened. This is the most memorable Christmas ever in my lifetime." 

I'm not surprised, Gerald.  That is definitely a story for us all to remember!