December 17

Pregnant with the Promises of God

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

Luke 1:1-4 NASB

For many years, my preparation for celebrating Christmas focused on the story of Jesus’s birth. Looking into the Nativity story beyond the superficial facts into the deeper teachings of God’s Word woven into this story.

Becoming a Believer at 33 years old with three small children, five-years-old and younger, provided the perfect incentive to seek the truths found in Jesus’s story and share what I discovered with them. It was all new to me too.

The heart of my preparation for Christmas was to know more about Jesus, the One who captured my heart, and share Him with others. The continuing practice of preparing each year through reading the stories surrounding His birth led me deeper and deeper into a passion for Him, and like Luke, for others to know Him. Not just know about Him but know Him!

After many years, those moments with my children, the study and spending time with Him in His Word, became a series of twenty-five devotionals I published into a book: The Heart of Bethlehem. This was an unexpected result of pursuing Him in His Word, because I didn’t set out to write a book. I simply set out to know who He was and share Him with my children.

Mary and Elizabeth are the two mothers central to the Nativity story. They both experienced supernatural births. Elizabeth, old, barren, way past menopause, carried her firstborn son who was designated by God to prepare the way for Jesus in the world (Isaiah 40:3). Mary, a virgin, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and carried the Son of God (Isaiah 7:14). Both believing women, both familiar with the truths planted in their hearts from the Word, both pregnant with the promises of God.

Pregnant-Promises-Fruitful-God's Glory-FUMC.jpg[Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash]

The Truth was planted in my heart, and after a very long gestation period, a devotional book was born to help others see the Extraordinary God we have: One who takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. All who receive the wonder of His Truth, Way, and Life enter into an extraordinary journey too.

Once we come to know Jesus, every Believer is implanted with the Truth and becomes pregnant with the promises of God. Each of us as followers of Christ carry around a promise of peace, hope, restoration, love, and grace. With time and obedience, something will be birthed through us to help others know God and His glory.

What promise has He planted in you? How are you preparing for Him to use you to fulfill His promise to a dark hurting world?

Begin asking God to prepare you to be used for the building up of His Kingdom and as a means of fulfilling His promise to all creation.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

Romans 8:18 ESV

Lord, reveal the promise of the Holy Spirit You’ve implanted in me. Grow the gifts, the graces, and the power You’ve given me, to glorify You in the world. Amen.

 Additional Scriptures: Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:3-6, Luke 8:9-15, John 15:5

Carol Weaver

December 16

Keeping Watch

“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.”

Luke 2: 8

In our day and time, there are not many shepherds living in the fields, nor are their many cowboys riding the range. The closest we have to such livelihoods are the military stationed in combat or training operations.

Moreover, guarding sheep from predators is similar to troops’ nighttime guard duty protecting personnel from attackers. Being out of doors keeps us in contact with nature and God’s creation. Looking at the stars in heaven is humbling and inspiring.

Now, as was then, we long for better times and better lives. Imagine then the awe and trembling at receiving a sign from God in the heavens. The shepherds heard angels singing on high, and their joyful song of hope and salvation still sounds all around us, indoors and out.

Shepherds-Advent-Waiting-Watching-FUMC.jpg[Photo by Dan Kiefer on Unsplash]

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased,”

Luke 2:14

Sam Hopkins, Chaplain U.S. Army, ret.

Lord, keep me attentive for Your return and for the attack of the enemy. Prepare me with the faith to wear Your armor each day. Teach me to effectively wield the sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word.

 Additional readings: Ephesians 6:10-17, Romans 13:10-12

Advent: Get Set

Advent: Get Set
A Message on Luke 2:1-7
For Jacksonville First United Methodist Church
Dec. 15, 2019
By Doug Wintermute

Luke 2:1-7 (NRSV)

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

<> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><>

In track and field competitions, each race begins with the person called the starter giving three announcements. The first is “Runners to your marks.” There actually are marks on the track for the runners to line up behind. Then the starter says, “Get set,” or just “Set.” And then the third announcement isn’t actually an announcement, but the firing of a starter’s pistol (which shoots blanks, of course).

When we would go to track meets when I was in Junior High I always thought it would be funny to be in the infield right before a race begins, and when the starter pistol goes off clutch my chest and fall to the ground. Luckily, I never did that. Doesn’t sound as funny now that I’m an adult.

As kids we used to shorten that process by saying, “Ready, set, go!”

This advent season we will be looking at the scriptures through that mindset of “Ready, set, go.” Two weeks ago we looked at the first chapter of Luke and explored what it means to “get ready” for the birth of Jesus during the season of Advent. Today we will look at the second chapter of Luke and what it means to “Get Set,” and then on Christmas Eve we will get ready to “go.”

Now in track terminology the term “get set” means for the runners to be still, to be prepared for the next thing, which is to “go.” During “get set,” there is no moving around, no more stretching, no more warming up. It’s time to be still.

Likewise during this period of Advent in our modern world it is important for us to take time to be still, to listen to the still, small voice of God, to escape from the hustle and bustle to remind ourselves the real reason for the season.

In the scripture we read today Mary and Joseph are trying to get still, but having a hard time doing so. Word comes out about a census that is to be taken. This came from the Roman government that occupied the area.

Now when we hear the word “census” we think about that time that happens once every ten years when we get paperwork to fill out that asks all kinds of questions. We think about census workers, some of whose jobs is to go door-to-door getting information on the people that live in the houses. Some of you may have even worked for the census bureau.

But for the Jews in the first century a census meant something that was much different. First of all the Jews considered it against their laws. Also add to that the fact that it was also a method of taxation by the Romans. Each person not only had to be registered but had to pay a tax of sorts as well. This was a way the Roman government got funds to rule over the area.

There was also a rule that each male (sorry women) had to go to the “hometown” of sorts of his family’s lineage so he and his family could not only be counted but also would pay the census tax.

In the scripture we read today we find that the census being called causes difficulties for Joseph and Mary. They are living in Nazareth, way up north in the region of Galilee. But since Joseph is a descendent of the lineage of King David (remember David, the one who gave Goliath a splitting headache?), he is required to travel to a small town south of Jerusalem called Bethlehem. David was born there, and so that’s where he has to go.

The trouble is that Bethlehem is about 70 miles away as the crow flies. That’s not that big a deal for us for us today with automobiles, but that was a long way to walk in the First Century. It is especially a long way to travel if you are pregnant.

Not only that but the Jewish people at the time didn’t travel as the crow flies. Living between Nazareth and Jerusalem were the dreaded and hated Samaritans. (Everybody say “boooooo!) There was such bad blood between the Jews and Samaritans that the Jews would travel out of the way just to keep from having to travel through Samaria. So this added an additional 20 miles to the trip, making it a 90 mile journey one way.

Guesses are that they probably only traveled about 10 miles a day, since Mary was with child. Unless my math is wrong that makes it a 9-day trip. And there were no Dairy Queens, or Buccee’s travel stops on the way. They had to carry all their food and water with them (although they probably replenished their water on the way).

Here’s some Advent trivia for you: nowhere in the Bible does it say anything about Mary riding a donkey. Nope. It only says that Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Now donkeys were common beasts of burden at the time, and the scriptures do not exclude the possibility of Mary riding a donkey, but they don’t specifically say it either. If you are like me and appreciate the aches, pains, swelling, and the need for frequent bathroom stops that pregnant women experience, then maybe we want to believe there was a donkey rather than think of Mary walking the entire distance.

I often wonder if Joseph felt like the world was against him. He finds out his to-be wife is “with child” and that he isn’t the father, he has givev up his work so he can travel a long distance on foot, with his pregnant wife, only to have to pay money once he gets to his destination.

It kind of reminds me of that scene from the movie “Young Frankenstein” when Igor (pronounced “EYE-gore”), after experiencing a series of misfortunes with his employer, Dr. Frankenstein (pronounced “FRAHKEN-stine”) , turns to his boss and says, “It could be worse.” “How?” the doctor responds. Igor responds, “It could be raining.” And just as he finishes saying it, you see a flash of lightning and hear a peal of thunder and, of course, it starts raining.

Joseph was probably thinking things couldn’t get worse, but they did. Odds are that it did, indeed rain on them, according to many scholars to point out that their route often has rain along it during that time of year. And then they finally get to Bethlehem and wouldn’t you know it, they don’t have a place to stay.

The Gospel of Luke is the only gospel to tell of the census and the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Luke is also the only gospel to talk about not having any room in the inn. Matthew just says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, nothing about the journey or the inn being full.

Mark and John tell us nothing about the birth of Jesus.

Luke gives us the most information about the original Christmas. Luke gives us the scripture we read today about the journey to Bethlehem and Jesus being born, not in a house, but in a stable, a barn, a place for livestock.

Advent has double meaning. It is a period of preparation, a time for us to prepare our hearts and souls for the birth of the Christ child. But it is also a time to prepare our hearts and souls for Jesus second coming, when heaven comes to earth and Jesus returns in glory.

What are you doing to “get set” not only for Christmas, but the triumphant return of Jesus?

Bethlehem connects with Calvary. The cradle connects with the cross. One leads to the other.

Mary and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem. It wasn’t a straight path, it wasn’t an easy path. It took time, patience, and perseverance, and hope.

Joseph and Mary’s trip reminds me of what Paul wrote in the fifth chapter of Romans: “we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

Our journey through life is metaphorically similar to Mary and Joseph’s. I don’t know of anyone who has had a straight path in life. Everyone has difficulties at different periods that keep it from being an easy path. Everyone has to, at some point, take a detour.

It may be physical health. It may be mental health. It may be the death of a loved one. It may be financial difficulties. It may be broken relationships. It may be job or career related. It may be trying to find your identity or trying to find your place in the world.

Raise your hand if you have had a straight and easy path as you have journeyed through your life. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I didn’t think so.

Journeying through life takes patience, perseverance, and hope. It takes faith, knowing that even though you can’t see the future you have the assurance that everything will be okay. Even when we have to detour, even when those plans we make and dream of aren’t what comes to pass, it will still be okay. And it will be okay, because of Jesus.

Jesus birth was extraordinary for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that God puts on skin and comes and lives among us. And God arrives not in a fancy palace, but in a humble stable.

And then that person that is fully God and fully human grows up and gives his life on the cross, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. And he does so out of love. And it is that love, that grace, that reminds us that no matter what happens to us in this world, something better is coming.

Christmas is coming. And Jesus’ return is coming.

So my challenge to you today, this third Sunday of Advent, is to prepare not only for the birth of the Christ child, but for Jesus return. Don’t become discouraged by life’s detours, but with faith continue to persevere, knowing that indeed, something better is coming.

Get ready. Get set.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

December 15: Third Sunday in Advent

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1

(Light the first Advent candle.)

Hope began the journey this Advent season. Hope continues to fuel our faith as we wait for the coming Messiah.

(Light the second Advent candle.)

Third Sunday Advent-Joy-Shepherds-FUMC.jpg[Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash]

Light grows with the lighting of the second candle just like God’s gift of faith grows in us. Faith shines its light in the dark places of our hearts and lives.

(Light the third Advent candle.)

Today we light the third candle and it brings even more light to the world around us filling our hearts with joy. Some call this the Shepherd’s Candle.

Read Luke 2:8-15

The shepherds in the fields were some of the first to hear the joyous news of Jesus’s birth. Why shepherds? Why not the kings and queens or religious leaders? Why not tell the news to those in society’s high places?

Instead God chose some of the lowliest people to share the greatest joy while they were doing the most ordinary of things… working. Think about the ordinary things you do each day. What would it be like for God to interrupt your ordinary? What good news might God share with you? How would it make you feel?

Hope sparks the beginning of our Advent journey and fuels the flames of faith. The two shine brighter together than alone, and when united they ignite our joy. Joyful anticipation of celebrating the infant King. Joy in the news the Savior is born. Like the shepherds in the fields we feel like we must do something.

Advent has us doing lots of “somethings.” People bustle from place to place to find the perfect gift, some prepare for family gatherings, while others rush to check off the final things on their list. The Christmas season has become a bit hurried, and it doesn’t always feel joyful.

Here in the middle of the season we might need an angelic reminder. We need to hear the Good News to interrupt our ordinary Advent. Shining the joyful light of the season needs to become more intentional in the midst of the busy.

Listen. God has news that will bring you great joy. News that interrupts your ordinary and urges you to go. Go and see the tiny Babe in Bethlehem. Journey away for a moment from all the Christmas crazy and relish in the joy of this moment. A moment full of hope and faith and the Light of the World dawning.

Sing “Joy to the World”:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come

Let earth receive her King

Let every heart prepare him room

And heaven and nature sing

And heaven and nature sing

And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Spirit of Joy, fill our hearts with Good News. For unto us a Savior is born, unto us a Son is given. And we will call Him… Redeemer and Friend. Joy to the world! Amen.

Additional Scriptures: Romans 12:12, Psalm 47:1, 1Peter 1:8-9

December 14

Christmas: 1964

 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

Christmas is a time for rejoicing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” But for some people Christmas is a time for sadness.

I remember it well, the day I learned my dad was dying. Thanksgiving had come and gone and Dad had been home to enjoy our traditional family gathering.

It was now the Christmas holidays and I was watching Father Knows Best on television. Mother was at the kitchen sink peeling potatoes for lunch. At first I thought she was laughing to herself, but realized she was crying instead.

Rushing to her side, I said, “Mother, Dad is dying, isn’t he?” She said, “Yes, he has only weeks to live.” Christmas was never the same after that. And I relied heavily on Scripture. In Deuteronomy 31:8 God promises never to leave nor forsake us. Instead, He walks by our side (Psalm 23:4) and provides a way of escape.

Dad passed away peacefully with my mother at his side on January 6, 1965 at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. He had fought lymphatic cancer for two years. Dad had told Mother that God answered every one of his prayers and to read Luke 2:26, “And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

My father prayed one last time before he died. He prayed for God to take him Home. He had told us many times that he would be Home for Christmas, if only in his dreams. His last prayer was finally answered. In Philippians 4:6 it says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

Comfort-God's Promises-Hope-Advent-Faith-FUMC.jpg

[Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash]

With the birth of Jesus Christ, the beginning of a promise of eternal life was given to us. By remembering this and the way He died for our sins helps us to make the Christmas holidays a time for rejoicing.

I can do anything as long as Jesus Christ gives me strength.

Paula Small

Father God, You are the God of all compassion and mercy. Thank You for sending Jesus as our salvation and strength. Bless us with the words to encourage others who may be having difficulty experiencing the joy of the Season.

Additional Scripture: 1Thessalonians 4:13-18, Romans 12:15

December 13

The Reason to Rejoice

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:4

Growing up I can remember making those Advent chains in Sunday School. Each day would have Bible verses from the time right before Jesus was born. I remember being so excited to get to that last chain link that you opened on Christmas Day. This Bible verse was about the birth of Jesus. Of course, I wasn’t excited to get to the last chain link because Jesus was born, but because I would be getting presents.

Presents-Christmas-Advent-Waiting-Faith-FUMC.jpg[Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash]

As I grew older and the presents I received became less, I started to ask myself, “If you didn’t get one present, would you still be excited?” The true meaning of Christmas is about Jesus, after all. If you asked yourself that question, what would be your answer? Before I answered, I realized that Jesus’s birth is God’s present to us. We won’t go one year on this earth without receiving a gift. We will receive the greatest gift anyone could ever ask for. Jesus Christ is our gift! How could you not be excited about that?

People tell me a lot that I am always happy. Of course, I have my off days, but overall I’m usually a pretty joyful person. How can you not be happy when you have Jesus in your life? The same joy and happiness that I had when I was eight and got my first bike, I have about God every day. He brings a smile to my face every morning, and it would just be selfish not to share that smile and happiness to others.

As I prepare for Christmas day, I still make a chain like I did when I was younger, but now my excitement to pull off that last link isn’t about materialized presents. It’s about the gift of Jesus Christ!

 God, thank You so much for waking me up this morning. I get to spend another day on this earth to share Your love with others. I pray that You help me never take a single moment for granted, and that I always try to see the best in every situation. I pray that my smile today will make a difference in someone’s life. They may need that one piece of encouragement to continue. God, I thank You for sending your Son down to save us from our sins, and forgive me when I forget the real reason we celebrate Christmas. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Abby Lykins

Additional readings: Psalm 118:23-24, 2Corinthians 13:11, Isaiah 9:2-3

December 12

Expect the Unexpected

 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” – the things God has prepared for those who love him…

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

January of 2019, I knew that God was doing some amazing things in my life. I told my parents that I was going to graduate from college in less than four months and I will officially be an adult.

Now for whatever that was worth I had to let it be known (HA!). I was embarking on a journey never seen before. Traveling to places I had never heard of. The very words “I will officially be an adult” hit me May 4, 2019. They were sitting on a silver platter with nice garnishments of a new place to live, a new church to serve, and oh yeah, a dash of seminary.

Now my parents were shocked when they learned that I would be moving closer to them but alone in a community all by myself. Talk about what no eye has seen (1 Corinthians 2:9). I had never heard of Jacksonville, Texas. I knew God was up to something that was groundbreaking.

June 1, 2019, I moved to Jacksonville and was very excited for the new opportunity to serve God’s people. It was then when it hit me dead in the face after meeting what felt like thousands of people in the Commons Area that God was already at work in my life.

All the years of preparation were put into place for this very opportunity. I thought to myself how can a 23-year-old serve as an associate pastor? I must confess, it was so unreal I kept my things in boxes for a week just to be sure this wasn’t a misunderstanding. Then and there after making hospital visits and homebound visits. The continued support of many churches in the area, family members of church members and even people that were friends of a friend, speaking highly of me.

It opened a new frame of mind to understand that I was not expecting the unexpected. I expected that this would be very hard to transition to. I expected the new home and area would take some getting used to. Needless to say, I am forever grateful for each and every person that makes up the governing church body of First Jacksonville Methodist Church.

Unexpected-Expect-Nativity-Wonder-FUMC-Advent (1).jpg[Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash]

It makes me wonder: What is your level of expectation towards the coming of Jesus Christ or even this upcoming holiday? How have your expectations formed your spiritual life? Where do your expectations come from? Are they centered around God’s Word or those around you?

Dear God, thank You. Thank You for just being all-knowing. Whether things go our way or a way we don’t expect, help us to know that You love us. That You are the only one that knows the plans You have for us. Help us to put our hope in You and to truly depend and trust in You. In Jesus’ Holy name we pray, AMEN!

Amber Jones

Additional Scriptures: Hebrews 11:8, Revelation 3:8, 2Corinthians 5:7, John 3:8

December 11

Longing for a New Beginning

 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. And they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “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. This will be a sign to you: You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 

Luke 2:8-12

 The heat of summer will finally be behind us and we will begin preparations for a new time in God’s natural and spiritual world. During Advent, we prepare for and anticipate the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for a new beginning.

I had never lived in the country until moving to Jacksonville. This was a new thing God was doing in my life. I was unsure that it would be a good thing, but trusted God’s plan. Suddenly retired, far from a city of any major size, I was plopped in the middle of 82 acres with cows, horses, donkeys, and hay fields.

God began speaking to me through the beauty surrounding me. From the cathedral-like ceiling of towering trees to the donkey’s soft eyes, to the breathtaking dawn skies, God showed me His creation. I grew eager for each new revelation.

It seemed natural to use my Christmas cards to reflect God’s message. Each year I now look for a picture taken on our property that speaks of God’s glory. Last year, my sister Vicki captured a picture of a horse being ridden on our horse track against a spectacular sunset.

Advent-New Beginning-Glory to God.jpg

This was the picture depicting this verse! “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, good will toward men.“ Luke 2:13-14

Father, thank You for sending Your Son. Thank You for Your creation which reveals Your glory and majesty. And thank You for answering our longing for salvation. Amen.

 Nancy Glass

Additional Scriptures: Psalm 19:1-2, Romans 1:19-20, Psalm 136:1-9

December 10

Remembering the Greatest Gift

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Luke 2:8

Just as the shepherds watched over their flock our Mother prepared our home beautifully, and on Christmas Eve tucked us in our beds. Thinking of Santa was wonderful but, having been taught, I knew the truth of this holy night was that baby Jesus was born.

Christmas-Decorations-Jesus-FUMC-Prepare.jpg[Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash]

As an adult I decorate with lots of very sentimental things. I think of all my loved ones who have looked upon these very same pieces and the magic of the season is the same for me now. Jesus was born the greatest gift, our Lord and Savior.

Lord Jesus, show us the way to your manger so that in seeing you we may believe and in believing have eternal life. Amen.

Alyson Owen Ezell

Additional readings: Isaiah 52:7, John 1:29, Luke 10:23-24

December 9

Looking toward Home

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Psalm 96:11-13

 For me, the anticipation of Christmas is directly tied to the change of seasons. The first cool spell thrills my soul and warms my heart. My mother, Pat Leopard, and my mother-in-law, Doris Chervenka, reinforced that feeling in me by sharing their love of their gardens and their need to have their fingers in the soil and their faces in the sun. It’s where we had our deeper discussions about our family, life, and love. I didn’t recognize until now their shared strength of spirit was more than their individual characters. It was the Holy Spirit.

In January and February of 2012, at the ages of 96, and 72, the culmination of their faith was clearly visible when both of them with unearthly focus, lifted their arms from their hospital beds straining upwards, looking earnestly into a Heavenly realm only they could see to cross over the physical threshold of this earthly life into Eternity and Home. Thanks be to God!

The change of seasons has begun in earnest and I’m looking forward to December 25th when I hope to spend another Christmas with my family and my sweet stepmother, (and last of my three moms), Kathie Staffa. Mom seems genuinely surprised to find herself still here at age 87 and I will soak up her maternal parentage like a sponge while I am able to be with her. I pray I never lose this sense of anticipation and excitement, and someday I too will reach up from a spent and exhausted earthly body to be lifted into the presence of my Lord and Savior, and I will be safely Home.

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[Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash]

God bless us all and instill all of us with an unquenchable desire to love and live our lives accomplishing all He has planned for us to do, and that we will always feel an overwhelming sense of anticipation and joy that once all is done, we’re going Home!

Cheryl Grabow

Additional Scriptures: 2Corithians 5:1, John 14:2-3, Philippians 3:14, Philippians 4:20