Category - Christmas

The Fallen Christmas Tree
Look What God Has Done!
The Christmas Party on Rocky Top

The Fallen Christmas Tree

The decorating of the Christmas tree up on Rocky Top has always been a festive time….Christmas carols playing in the background, the smell of a freshly cut tree in the air,  a crackling fire glowing in the fire place, crab bites (a family favorite) and sparkling Welch’s.

Not so much this year.  As I sat on the floor going through ornaments, I begin to quietly cry.  Over half of our ornaments were given to us by people we had pastored in the past.  Satan whispered in my ear, “No more ornaments for you.  That part of your life is done.  You don’t even have one from your own mother.  And she’s dead now. ”

Preacher didn’t know what was going on in my heart as we began to decorate the tree.  I had chosen not to make any crab bites and the Christmas music playing in the background almost seemed annoying.

After it was decorated, we stood back to admire the work and I think I just let out a sigh.  Normally we sing a Christmas carol together as Preacher turns on the lights.  Not this year.

A few days later as we were traveling for our new ministry, I received a text from a friend who had agreed to come take care of our home and water our Christmas tree while we were traveling.   The text read, “Here is how I found your tree.”  It was followed by a picture of the tree turned over, stand and all, water everywhere with pieces of broken ornaments scattered throughout the room.

My heart sunk.  I did not cry.  Sadness just enveloped me.  Two dear friends cleaned it all up and even tied the tree to the back door to keep it standing up.

Upon returning home, Preacher and I once again decorated the tree.  Determining to change my perspective and heart, crab bites were made along with cookies.  Maybe food would soothe my wounded, grieving heart.

The tree stood proud for one week.

After a long day of ministry and Christmas shopping, I walked into the house to once again find the eight foot Christmas tree lying on the floor with more broken ornaments and  a water soaked tree skirt.

This Rocky Top girl would like to tell you she worshipped, kept perspective by remembering so many people who are going through much worse things than a fallen tree but I did not.

I sat in the middle of the mess and began to just sob and yell at God.

When Preacher got home, he helped me clean it up.  He offered to attempt to stand it up again.

“No! Get it out of my home.  Tomorrow I will buy a fake tree.” I yelled.

Preacher carried it out and threw it over the cliff on the back of Rocky Top.

The next morning when I sat with Jesus so many emotions swirled in my heart and head…..from anger to shame to failure.

As I opened His word He spoke with gentleness:

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.  I will put my Spirit upon him and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.  He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” Matthew 12:18-21

Through His word, Jesus reminded me of why He came.   He came to sit with me in all my mess.

Christmas is grace in our failure.

Christmas is forgiveness to those who wound and betray us.

Christmas is strength when we are weak.

Christmas is justice and not judgement.

Christmas is peace in chaos.

Christmas is joy in our deepest sadness.

Christmas is comfort in our grief.

Christmas is knowing He will lead when we are wandering.

Christmas is your mentor, your Timothy, and your children giving you ornaments of truth to hang around your neck instead of glass ones that will eventually break.  (Proverbs 1:9)

Christmas is HOPE in what we believe to be hopelessness.

We want Christmas to be filled with laughter, fun, gifts and happiness.

Sometimes Christmas is just remembering that in all the hurt, in all the pain, in all the change, in all the disappointments in life, whether they are big or small, Jesus came to give us Himself.

Emmanuel………God with us!

The HOPE of the world.

P.S.  The fake Christmas tree with pre-lit lights is standing proudly up on Rocky Top.

Look What God Has Done!

Christmas is almost here up on Rocky Top. The kitchen is a mess:  powdered sugar everywhere, dishes in the sink, and the garbage is overflowing.  “All is Well” is playing in the background and though my life might appear to be “picture perfect” on the outside to some, my eyes well up with tears.

All is not well. Hurt, pain, tragedy surround Rocky Top as well as others in the world.

My eyes might be filled with tears but truly there is much joy in my heart. Preacher said Sunday that if we want Joy in our hearts, we must not look at circumstances, what others have said about us or have done to us, but we must look and see what God has done.  In Luke 1:47,  Mary rejoiced when she saw Elizabeth. The word “rejoice” in this passage means to shout loudly “Look what God has done.”   As an unwed, pregnant teenager in a culture where stoning was the punishment for immorality, Mary had many reasons not to be joyful.  Yet, she made the supernatural choice to choose Joy.

As shared before up here on Rocky Top, my dad was not a good man for most of his life. He had 4 wives.  Mom was his first.  We might have lived in the same city for many years, but his visits were not frequent.  Dad’s life was about dad until he met Christ.   After thirty years of many calling out his name to the Heavenly Father, Dad received Christ in February of 1995.  His life changed radically.

Christmas times after that were so much different. Dad would come visit before Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  Presents would be exchanged, meals eaten, prayers said.  He always, always left to drive home before Christmas Eve.  We would beg him to stay.  Not sure why he wouldn’t.

One Christmas day we received the following email from him.

To My Girls:

As I sat down to write, it is Christmas Eve night. I attended a candle light service and was feeling a loneliness that I never felt before.  Because I have no Christmas tree, I came back to my apartment and placed the candle in a bowl and lit the candle again.  As the light from the candle begin to glow, I knew that I was not alone.  Christ was by my side and I began to rejoice in His Love.

From the light of my small candle, I knew that God had not only given His Son to guide and love me, but also has given me a gift of very precious daughters. The gift that each of you have given me is more priceless than any material thing on this earth, and that is my grandchildren.  Each one of them holds a very special place in my heart.

You have taken the love you have in the Lord, and placed it in the hearts of your children. I know that you could not have accomplished this without the help and love from your spouses.  I feel very proud and blessed to know these fine men of yours.  For each is a very loving husband and father.

My candle is just about out. Although it will stop burning, the love I have for the Lord, you, your husbands and the grandchildren will burn forever.  I pray each day that God will guide and protect you, and that He places an Angel by the side of each grandchild to protect them.

May Christmas be alive in all our hearts each day and may the Son of God always be with you.

With All My Love, Dad

And so friends and family, Look what God has done!

Merry Christmas and may your life this season declare: Look What God Has Done!

The Christmas Party on Rocky Top

Eight pies made…Check! 10 dozen cookies made…Check! Gifts for 35 under the tree….Check! House cleaned…..check! House decorated……check! Red Christmas sweater on……check! Candles lit…….Check! Christmas lights……..Wait!  No Christmas lights coming on??? This can’t be happening. Everything is perfect…..and a breaker blows and I have no Christmas lights. Really??? This is not how this picture perfect, successful staff Christmas party is supposed to go down!

About to have a major melt down…..and I hear a whisper in my ear? Who are you trying to make famous tonight, Donna? Is tonight about you? Or is tonight about ME? Are you checking your list off tonight for your glory? Or for MINE? OUCH!

Let’s keep it REAL up here on Rocky Top! Christmas can be a crazy time of year with our To-do lists long, little sleep, sugar induced hyped up kids, and just everyday life thrown in.  It’s hard to think about wrapping 20 gifts when you have 10 loads of laundry to do!

How do we as wives and moms keep Christ in Christmas without having a major melt down?

  1. Make Jesus famous! After all it really is HIS birthday! Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing……..whether it is baking a pie, wrapping your gifts to all color coordinate, or shopping for that perfect gift? Are you checking things off your list to make HIM famous and celebrate His birth or is to make yourself look good?
  2. Simplify! How many gifts does each child really need? How many Christmas trees does your house really need? Does every room in the entire house need to be decorated in a Christmas theme? Does everything have to be homemade? And how many Christmas parties does one really need to go to? Sometimes a quiet night at home is the best party of all!
  3. Worship! It is Jesus’ birthday! This is not the season to skip your time with Him because you are so busy! Make the time every day to read His word and worship Him. Attend worship services to actually worship! Your clothes don’t have to be the latest trend in Christmas attire. Little Johnny doesn’t have to be the star of the Christmas play! Again, make HIM famous!
  4. Love on someone who is hurting. Christmas can be a really hard time for people. People who have lost loved ones; people who are sick; people who don’t have a big family; people who are financially struggling. Make Jesus famous by doing what Jesus would do……..He always looked for that hurting person to love on. Let’s do the same.

And by the way, the staff party was successful. As preacher said on Sunday during worship, success is achieved when Jesus is made famous.   Jesus was made famous at that party but not because of pies, cookies, food, gifts or decorations but through hugs, smiles, shared laughter, shared joy and prayer! As a dear friend said when the lights blew, “Honey, Christmas happens on the inside…not on the outside!”

May Jesus be made famous this Christmas in your home!

“And 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 of great joy that will be for all the people. ”  Luke 2:9-10

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