Well, it's now after midnight so officially Christmas. Therefore, Merry Christmas everyone! We had our traditional celebration over at my mother's house tonight. We gathered for a light meal,thanked Papa for His blessings to us, then opened presents. Now some would think "So what's so unusual about that?!" But I should explain that my mother had hip replacement surgery about 3 1/2 months ago...and at 73 that's a big deal! Then add in that my sister and her husband lost almost everything they owned in Hurricane Ike 3-4 months ago. Plus my dear cousin that lives with us has been unemployed since about March. But each and everyone one of us had gifts to give and recieve. How awesome is that?!?! My parents gave their hospitality and love and gifts to come later. My sister gave gifts that she had made earlier this year and stored at my parent's house or in a storage unit that was not ruined in Ike. My dear cousin used the internet and his incredible knowledge of same to find gifts for all of us that were things we can really use or enjoy without sending him into the poorhouse! (I was amazed at his ability to do this! And yes, Dear Cousin, if you read this I mean every word I just typed!!!) And Dodi, Little Critter and I had made gifts for everyone to go along with things we bought during the year. All in all, it was a delightful evening. No whining about how we couldn't afford all the gifts we wanted to get ourselves or each other, no whining about how the government didn't send us enough money to buy things, no whining we didn't get what we really wanted. Everyone got gifts from the hearts of the givers. Gifts that mean something...not just the latest rage or fads. And best of all, we got the gift of Papa's love for us in His provision for each of us. Yes, it was a wonderful evening. Then after visiting for awhile, admiring each other's work on homemade gifts, and delighting in the joys of the treasures we each recieved, Little Critter, Dodi, Dear Cousin and I returned home. We did our Advent devotional, lit our candles, said our Hanukkah prayers and lit those candles, read that devotional and discussed how it could be applied to our lives today, then ended this wonderful day with bringing to rememberance two children's songs. The Hanukkah lesson dealt with the candles bringing light to their surroundings and the Bible verses were dealing with the eye being the candle of the soul. As we were discussing the commentary we'd read and what it meant, Little Critter said it was like Jesus Loves All The Children of the World [we old timer's know it as Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog....but I don't have to tell Little Critter that ;-)] and then we decided it was also like Be Careful Little Eyes What You See. (Two songs we often sing at bedtime...) And now I'm thinking back over the evening and finding my love letters. Papa provided a loving family for us that is free with their hospitality and love, He gave us many friends to share our hearts and lives with, and He provided us more things than we really deserve. And best of all, He gave us His Son to provide a way for us to remain close to Papa always. What an awesome day. Happy Birthday Jesus, we're so glad You came, and are grateful for Your love for us. Our prayer tonight is that each of you are blessed by Papa and find the love letters He's sent you most especially this special day. And may you each feel Papa's arms wrapped around you on this blessed night. Shalom and Merry Christmas...and for my Jewish/Hebrew friends, Happy Haunkkah all this week. Joie
PS We leave for my Dodi's families house in the morning and internet access is sometimes difficult. So I may not be able to post for a few days. Just know I'll be thinking of all my friends and praying for each of you. Be blessed.