For Unto You is Born This Day…

For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord Luke 2:11

A Dozen Christmas Roses

Author Unknown

Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn’t wear boots; he didn’t own any and he didn’t like them anyway. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother’s Christmas gift.

He shook his head as he thought, “This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don’t have any money to spend.”

Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn’t because his mother didn’t care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far. What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older sisters and one younger sister, who ran the house hold in their mother’s absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother.

Somehow it just wasn’t fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing. Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn’t easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to.

Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun’s rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment.

As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn’t buy anything with only a dime.

He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother’s Christmas gift.

The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering. Then he put his hand on Bobby’s shoulder and said to him, “You just wait here and I’ll see what I can do for you.”

As Bobby waited he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.

The sound of the door closing as the last customer left jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby’s eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby’s heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.

“That will be ten cents young man,” the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime.

Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime!

Sensing the boy’s reluctance, the shop owner added, “I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?”

This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, “Merry Christmas, son,”

As he returned inside, the shop keeper’s wife walked out. “Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?”

Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, “A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn’t sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.

“When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too, was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars.

“When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses.” The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn’t feel cold at all.

Today’s inspirational Christmas Story is shared from the following website:

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For God So Loved the World…

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

As I reflect on the Christmas story and the Gifts that have come to each of us as a result of the Savior’s birth, I never fail to think about the Eternal Father of us all. It was he that I met with during my near-death experience. I never saw Jesus but I did see and meet with God the Father.

Because of my experience, I believe that I know better than most the complete perfection of God and the complete devotion and love he has for each of us as his children. I can tell you that words cannot begin to express or describe his love and his devotion.

As the mother of six children and the grandmother to eighteen grandchildren, I cannot begin to fathom the love that enabled God to send his son and allow his sacrifice for all mankind. We are each truly blessed in so many ways – many of which we are not even aware of!

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior – I pray that we will send thankful prayers to the Father of us all. May you and those you love receive the Father’s love and blessings in abundance!

I hope you enjoy today’s story the includes both sacrifice and a Christmas miracle!:

The Father’s Sacrifice: A Christmas Story
Patti Davis

For 5 years in the late 80’s and early 90’s, My husband and I were foster parents to infants and toddlers with special needs. It was a time of special blessing for us as we saw God’s healing power touch these little lives. We never bought into the sentiment that you can’t get too attached. We believed in fully investing our lives in these children for as long as we had them. Of course, we knew that would mean a real time of grieving as they left, but how could we compare that short time of pain with the incredible joy they brought us? And how could you even begin to weigh it against those children having a time in their life when they were loved completely. Whether or not they ever consciously remembered the experience, I firmly believe that we planted in their spirits something that, throughout their life, would be able to recognize and respond to love.

Our first little girl came to us in July of 1991. After 5 little boys in succession, I was especially excited to have a little girl to dress up in ribbons and bows. She was our little princess. And she was BEAUTIFUL! At 2 1/2 months old, she came to us babbling and cooing non-stop. There were also lots of smiles and giggles. As time passed, it appeared that there was a very good chance she might come up for adoption. But we kept in our minds that the goal of fostering was restoring families, not building our own. We continued to pray for her parents and lavish her with love. She captured our hearts and the hearts of all around us.

At Thanksgiving time when she was 18 months old, we got word that her mother had fulfilled reunification and our princess was going home in January. Our stomachs were in our throats as we faced the inevitable. The thanks were bitter-sweet that Thanksgiving. So grateful for the time we had, but heartbroken to see her leave. Thankful for having a year and a half to fill her with love and cover her in prayer, but knowing a time of real grieving was on its way.

Then, the first week of December, it happened. The social worker came and told us that the mother had decided to relinquish her parental rights and let us adopt. We were euphoric! She was going to be ours – all ours. I was to meet with the mother the following week to discuss what the relationship would be between her and our daughter after the adoption. But within 15 minutes into our conversation, it became very obvious that we were discussing two very different things. She had not yet made up her mind about releasing her daughter for adoption and was wanting to meet with me to decide whether or not this was, indeed, what she wanted to do.

In an instant, I had to completely turn my thinking around and once again become, not the adoptive parent, but the support system for a mother facing a difficult decision. An advocate for that family, not my own. I reassured her that we would support whatever decision she made and do all in our power to make that change a positive one for her little girl. That her decision needed to be solely based on what she believed was in her child’s best interest. My husband and I should not be a consideration. Again, I reassured her that she had our full support. For an hour and a half we talked and cried and hugged and cried and talked. In the end, her decision was one of the most selfless acts I’d ever personally encountered as she decided to give us her child.

I was not prepared for how incredibly humbling this experience would be. It would forever changed me in ways I could not even comprehend at the time. Christmas took on a new depth that year. This woman had given up one of her 7 children so that that child might have a better life. How great a sacrifice this mother, who loved her child dearly, had made. I could see in her eyes a pain I could only imagine and could never heal.

As the Christmas story was told and retold that year, I couldn’t help but draw the comparisons. God had given up, not one of many, but His only child. Not to have a better life, but to be sent to a place where He would be spat upon and rejected, reviled and tortured. And why? So that we would have a better life. So that His perfect life and sacrifice could pay the debt for our sin. The Father’s sacrifice had never been so real to me as it was that year and has been ever since.

As we go into this holiday season, let us reflect, not only on the sacrifice of the Son, but on the sacrifice of the Father.

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Now When Jesus was Born in Bethlehem of Judea…

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. As you read the Christmas miracle, do you wonder what made the wise men wise? Do you wonder how they knew that the Savior of the world had been born?

I believe that they were wise because they knew God – I believe that wisdom comes as we come to see the world as it really is – the world that God created.

One of the things that I have learned about miracles is that often ordinary people become key in the delivery of miracles. Have you ever wondered if a miracle depended on you? I think we often underestimate our importance in creating miracles and in making the world around us a better place. So often, it is in small acts of kindness that miracles are created.

Today’s story shares the creation of a miracles through an act of kindness. I hope you enjoy!

When my mother died at the age of eighty-four, my four sisters and I were heartbroken. How could we ever get over the loss of this warm and loving woman, a talented artist who enjoyed life in spite of its challenges and always doted on her husband, daughters and grandchildren?

For weeks after, my sisters and I would meet for dinner, laughing and crying over old memories. When it came time to sell the home my mother loved, we spent many days in disbelief, clearing out her belongings. I remembered reading an Ann Landers column years earlier that discussed how many siblings fight bitterly over the possessions left by their deceased parents. I thought, “How lucky we are that will never happen to us.” Somehow, we easily and peacefully divided Mom’s belongings—furniture, jewelry and household items—among ourselves and a few charities. Although I expected there might be a tug of war over her paintings, that never happened. Pretty good considering there were five daughters and four grandchildren. No conflicts, squabbles or disputes at all. Until we discovered the old nativity set in a box in Mom’s closet.

I remembered Mom telling the story of how she acquired the manger. An old friend who did carpentry work gave it to my mom and dad as a Christmas gift when they were first married. My sister, Eileen, however, remembers it differently. Mom told her she found the crèche in a garbage can belonging to Mrs. Bingham, the elderly lady who lived across the street from us.

Unlike some of the ornate versions found in today’s stores, this manger was crafted from dark wood and completely unadorned—just a roof, a floor and a railing surrounding it. Though beautifully crafted, there was one flaw: one side of the double gate in front was lopsided. Mom filled it with three figurines to start—Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus. For many years after, she continued to add others—the Wise Men, shepherds, angels, and animals. As kids, we loved the annual rites of the Christmas season, especially taking the nativity set and decorations down from the attic and carefully putting them in place. When the sisters all married and grandchildren came along, they added new characters of their own to the stable, including a set of the three little pigs.

After Mom’s death, when the nativity set emerged, no one was prepared for the battle that would follow. My sister Joanne was the first to claim the manger, insisting it was the only one of Mom’s possessions that she really wanted. Her wish was granted. But when my niece Mandy found out, she called from her apartment in California to voice her objection. She was clearly emotional as she repeated a decades-old promise made to her by my mother: “Nanny promised me that I could have the nativity set when she was gone,” she cried. “The nativity set belongs to me.” Joanne felt strongly that as Mom’s daughter, she had first dibs. Neither she nor Mandy would budge.

When the disagreement showed signs of becoming a full-blown family feud, we realized something had to be done. Enter the family arbitrator, my sister Eileen, who somehow saw through the fog. But as Mandy’s mother and Joanne’s sister, could Eileen handle this dilemma fairly? Temporarily, she set aside the emotion of the dispute, and thought logically. The nativity set was just a wooden stable, not an irreplaceable masterpiece of art. The beauty was in the eye of the beholders, the perception of two people who coveted a simple item owned by someone they loved. Couldn’t a copy be created? Of course! She would order the wood from the lumberyard and get someone to build a second manger.

The following day, Eileen went to Centre Millwork and stood in line behind several contractors ordering lumber from a young man with a crew cut. He was wearing a tag with his name, Brett, written in green magic marker. When Eileen’s turn came, she had to shout over the sound of buzzing saws. She pointed to the nativity set in her arms and told him the story, explaining that it was causing a major rift between her sister Joanne and her daughter Mandy. Brett took the stable from her, held it up with one hand and laughed, “They’re fighting over this?”

“Yes,” Eileen explained. “I know it seems crazy, but it was my mother’s and they both loved her very much. Is there any way you could measure and cut some wood so we could have a duplicate built?

Brett said, “Leave it here. I’ll see what I can do.” Eileen left, hoping he could come up with a minor miracle. That’s what it would take to satisfy the two women in her life that were squabbling.

A few days later, she received a phone message saying that her order was ready. When Eileen arrived at the hardware store to pick up the wood, she couldn’t believe what she saw — two identical stables sitting side by side. Brett had not only cut and measured the wood, he had built a second manger. “I know you wanted them to look the same, so I added a couple of dings and flaws that were in the original. Hope that’s okay.”

Sure enough, the new stable had the same lopsided front gate. “Okay?” Eileen said in tears. “You have no idea what this will mean to my sister and my daughter. To the entire family. I don’t care what this costs. Your work has saved the day.”

“That will be $3.75 for the materials,” Brett said. When Eileen insisted on paying him more, he said, “I didn’t do it on company time. I built it at home so I won’t charge you for the labor.” He pointed to the new manger. “I hope this helps your family have a merrier Christmas.”

Eileen left Brett with a large tip and a big hug of thanks. When she got home and called Joanne and Mandy about her creative solution, they were very happy and extremely relieved that the problem was resolved. One phone call later, Joanne and Mandy had agreed that Joanne would take possession of the new stable as well as some of the old figurines—including Mary, Joseph and the infant. Mandy would get to keep the original—just as Nanny promised.

—Kathy Melia Levine

Reprinted by permission Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC © 2013

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And She Shall Bring Forth a Son…Our Savior’s Birth

Our Savior’s birth, have you ever given some time to really think about it? Have you ever thought about what it means to you personally? Have you ever thought about the whys and the what ifs?

I believe that our Savior’s birth is the most critical event that has ever occurred. Without it, his sacrifice could not have been made. Without it, we would have been lost.

I am grateful for the perfect way that his birth communicates so many priceless lessons. Over and over, I have been taught lessons by that precious timeless story that has been preserved by our Lord’s apostles. I have learned that life should be simple. I have learned that God is aware of us all. I have learned that the circumstances of our birth does not indicate our worth. I have learned those things and so much more. Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned is that God is a God who presents us with miracles in the most meaningful and intimate of ways. I hope you have been blessed with many such miracles.

The Christmas miracle I share today perfectly demonstrates the intimacy with which God succors his children with miracles!:

Late afternoon that Christmas Eve, I paced from room to room opening and closing closet doors, searching everywhere like a mama dog that had recently lost her pups to adoption.

I don’t know what I was looking for because the only thing I wanted had just driven away with their dad. My sons, Michael and Patrick were spending their first Christmas at his new house. I was spending mine alone.

I wandered into the kitchen to start the tea kettle and noticed our cat in a tangled mess on the hardwood floor. Mittens had knocked down one of the Christmas cards taped to the kitchen door.

She was in a frenzy trying to shake off a small card stuck to her forepaw and the more she jerked and twisted her paw, the more tangled up she became. I sat on the floor murmuring sweet nothings until she stopped flailing and I could help peel away the tape.

The card was from my new pastor, Ruth. I had received it that morning mixed in with Christmas greetings from the gas and electric companies who wished me a joyous season even though I owed them money.

Ruth’s card stood out because it was so simple. The size of a small note card, it was all white except for a tiny detailed etching of a baby in a manger. Below the etching the word love was written in script so fine it looked like a whisper.=

The card was blank inside except for Ruth’s handwritten message.

Merry Christmas, Margaret.
My gift to you is Luke 1:37.
Love, Ruth.

I had no idea what Luke 1:37 was and smiled at her attempt to get me to read the Bible. She had snuck a Bible into my mailbox that summer and wedged it sideways on top of my bills and free offers for a cleaner furnace and a firmer me.

Her yellow sticky note on the cover said, “Read me 15 minutes a day.” It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland’s note, Drink Me, and I wondered what would happen if I read it.

Of course, I didn’t read it. How was I supposed to read the Bible three months after my fifteen year marriage ended? I couldn’t focus enough to read how to microwave a frozen pizza.

I opened Ruth’s card again. My gift to you is Luke 1:37. I couldn’t ask her what it meant because she was working on a mission in Paraguay for the holidays. I closed her card and taped it back on the kitchen door where I had been displaying cards every Christmas for the last 15 years.

This year, all the cards just ticked me off. Cheery Santas and family photos with Labrador retrievers looked fake as a cheap toupee. I stared at all of them trying to find some joy, something that might help me feel less alone and when they began to blur into one giant Christmas card, I realized that for the first time I my life, I didn’t know what to do.

I had been the fixer all my life and I couldn’t fix my marriage.

I knew I’d fall apart if I didn’t get out of my empty house so I rushed to dress for a walk hoping the frigid Minnesota temperatures would numb my pain.

Within 20 minutes, I realized I had underestimated the biting cold which was probably why I hadn’t seen another sole out walking. My fingertips felt like I had dipped them in scalding water. Before frostbite set in I knew I needed to find a place to get warm.

I was grateful to see a few boutiques open for Christmas Eve shoppers and slipped into a renovated bungalow called The Hunt Queens.

An overhead bell chimed as I walked into a Wonderland. Tiny white fairy lights twinkled everywhere like a Christmas forest filled with fireflies. Tables were set with bountiful displays of all the trimmings: heart shaped shortbread cookies piled high on vintage cut glass platters, sterling bowls heaped with pomegranates, gold tipped pine cones nestled in pine boughs.

A stunning blonde woman dressed in a winter white wool pantsuit was humming “O Come All Ye Faithful” along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Her rich scarlet lipstick was a stark contrast to her white suit. “Merry Christmas!” she exclaimed. “Were you out walking in this?” Her hand flew to her face and I noticed her manicured nails painted the same scarlet red.

I looked like a refugee from Siberia. In my hurry to get out of the house, I had grabbed my son’s woolen ski cap and pulled it down past my eyebrows and wrapped a ratty old scarf around my face to protect my nose.

“I heard it’s almost -32 with the wind chill,” she continued as I peeled away the scarf. I hated looking so crappy at Christmas. I wanted to look as lovely as she did. I wanted to be wearing makeup, a designer suit and killer heels.

“Oh, I just felt like going for a walk with all the activity at my house. My kids have a few friends over playing Nintendo and I needed some quiet.”

A big fat lie.

The same as the ones I told everyone about how happy our marriage was.

She offered me some hot cider which I gratefully took to warm my fingers. I noticed her merchandise, a combination of old and new and felt like I could have been in my own living room. Vintage floral oil paintings, antique crystal chandeliers and mirrors in gilt frames looked similar to my own.

“Have you been in the store before?” she asked.

“No, but, I’ve been hearing about it. I collect antiques and love things that tell a story.” I walked towards a blue painted cabinet filled with lush linens, all shades of white.

“Are you looking for anything in particular?”

I suppressed an urge to ask if she had any husbands for sale in the back room who meant “forever” when they said it.

“Hey, if you like things with a story, you might like this painting I just put out this very morning.”

She turned around to remove it from the wall and held it in both hands to appraise it. “It’s an old watercolor. Reminds me of one of those Home Sweet Home paintings.” She stretched out her arms to examine it at a distance. “Although, I’ve never seen this expression before.”

I sipped my cider and approached her to look at it but she stepped in front of me to grab a dust cloth. She laid the painting on the counter face up. “Apparently, it’s a piece of scripture. I called my business partner this morning and asked her to look it up in her Bible.”

She wiped the glass. “I wasn’t familiar with it, but maybe you are. My partner said it’s from Luke 1:37.”

I put my cup down and held my breath.

I pictured my cat, my card from Ruth.

“Did you say, Luke 1:37?” I sounded like I had laryngitis. I unzipped my jacket and fanned my face with my scarf.

“Yeah, that’s what the painting is.” She turned it to face me. “See?”

I reached out and touched the glass. It was an old watercolor with a soft creamy background stained in a few spots where someone might have spilled tea. About thirty inches wide and ten inches tall, the painting was surrounded by a half-inch wooden frame painted white, chipped and worn on the edges.

The main body of the painting was a tranquil blue sea and if you looked closely to where the sea met the horizon, the artist painted three vertical black lines, a half inch tall, masts of sailboats miles from shore, deadlocked in a windless sea.

Deadlocked. Like me.

And, there it was. Ruth’s Christmas gift. Luke 1:37.

In four inch Gothic letters, the artist had painted:

With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible

I stared at the painting, unbelieving, but believing at the same time. I remembered when a magician pulled the entire Queen of clubs marked with my signature out of his wallet after I had signed it and ripped it into tiny pieces.

I took it out of her hands. I needed to feel its weight to make sure it was real. I barely heard her as she continued. “I almost kept it myself because I like the message, something good to remember, don’t you think?”

I bought it and carried it home.

After searching for an hour, I found the Bible from Ruth at the bottom of my laundry basket. I looked up Luke 1:37 just to be sure. But as I flipped the pages, I knew it would be there exactly like the painting and when I found it, I caressed the words and read them over and over.

With God nothing shall be impossible.

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