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Scott23When I think of Christmas when I was a kid, my mind is flooded with many amazing memories.  Memories are like snowflakes falling from the sky.  Each one different!  Each one unique!  And when they are all gathered together, they create a lovely tapestry in your mind that can cause much wonderment.

My parents loved Christmas and with one brother and three sisters, there was a lot of excitement around the house on Christmas Morning.  I was blessed to be born into a family that loved Christmas!  My family was close knit and I could probably fill a book with Christmas memories and special moments with family, friends and our church family over the years.  Gifts were plentiful and my parents always made certain that we never forgot the real, true meaning of Christmas and what Jesus Christ came to this earth to accomplish.

One Christmas in particular sticks in my mind.  I do not remember the exact year but I remember the moments of that Christmas morning like it was yesterday.  One of my gifts under the tree was a stereo for my bedroom!  I was somewhere around 10 years old and it was my first stereo.  I had a small, portable cassette player and two or three cassettes but this stereo played cassettes and records, had an AM/FM Radio and had a nice, rich sound (at least for that day) in the four speakers that came with it!

Along with the stereo came quite a bit of music!  Music by the Cathedral Quartet, the Kingsmen Quartet, the Blackwood Brothers, the Speer Family, the Couriers, the Hinsons and more!  I could not wait to get that stereo hooked up and once I did, I played and played and played that music (and added to my music collection at every opportunity) and stereo for the next several years.

It was in playing those records, listening to those great groups and those inspired lyrics that a dream of being a Radio DJ was born.  I would sit in my bedroom and imagine that I was interviewing George Younce, Glen Payne, Jim Hamill, Brock Speer, James Blackwood, Ronny Hinson, etc. and introducing the next big song in Southern Gospel Music! That I would go on to interview them and many others and play countless songs over the airways is truly a childhood dream come true.

I love how God used Christmas Gifts from parents and siblings to inspire a young man and plant a seed that he would never outgrow.  The Bible talks about in Proverbs how God directs our steps and God never wastes a moment or an event.  The good, the bad, the sometimes seemingly inconsequential events are all being orchestrated by God to mold us unto what He wants us to be!

Praise God we serve a loving Savior who can use a Christmas gift to help orchestrate getting His message out on radio 40 years in the future!  How cool is that?

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fh_pamwMy Aunt Pat has always been in the forefront of my Christmas memories.  Occasionally we would have the extended family at her home for Christmas dinner and gift giving.

Her home was always decorated so pretty.  I fell in love with white lights and bows that twinkled on her tree, that was a miracle as I ONLY liked the big colored ones!!  Her cooking and baking skills were far above par and she was very quick witted.  You would not even know what hit you with some of her responses.  She always made Christmas special.

patsyBefore opening our gifts she would always have uncle Roy read the Christmas story. Aunt Pat’s love for our Lord was always so inspirational and shown brightly during this season.

On December 1st, my aunt made her long awaited journey and is shining even brighter as she stands face to face with our Lord reflecting His glory as NEVER before.

So many wonderful memories of Christmas, way too many to write. But, I will always remember this Christmas when God gave Aunt Pat the desire of her heart, seeing her Jesus.

 

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marianne2Some of the fondest Christmas memories are childhood memories.  Every Christmas my mind and heart go back to my childhood days and my mom baking cookies.  I’d be in the middle of the kitchen with my coloring book and crayons drawing and coloring.  Mom had our pink radio tuned to WBBF, which was playing Christmas music.  The kitchen was warm and smelled delicious.  That was the place where I felt safe, secure and love   To this day whenever I hear Nat King Cole sing “The Christmas Song” my mind goes back to that time long ago.

Those days are long gone.  As an adult I feel the love of God my Father in His Word, where I find safety and security.  “So the Word became flesh and made his home among us.  He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.  And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” (John 1:14 NLT)

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Scott23It was 14 years ago today. December 16, 2003.  Nine days prior to Christmas in 2003, my mom traded her earthly, temporary home for her eternal, Heavenly Home with her Savior.  A couple of days after the funeral I returned from New York State, where the funeral for my mom had been held, to Lancaster, PA where I lived at the time. It was a few days before Christmas and I had resumed my life while adjusting to my mom not being a tangible part of my life anymore.  I was the only member of my family living in Lancaster and, while I had several friends, most of them had their own plans for Christmas.  I had a few people invite me to their homes for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but I turned all of them down opting instead to spend the day alone and in the way that I wanted to.

momMy church in Lancaster had a Christmas Eve service that I attended.  I believe I cried through all of it as some of my mom’s favorite songs were sung and I sat there remembering many of the amazing Christmases that I shared with my mom.  I went home after that service and I went straight to bed.  I was exhausted from the emotional week I had after my mom passed away.  I slept very well that night for the first time since she had gone on to Heaven.

Christmas Day I actually slept in until about 9:00 AM.  I had decided that instead of spending the day alone, I would go over to the homeless shelter and help serve lunch.  It was the first time I had ever done anything like that on a holiday and I was very moved and humbled by the experience.  To see up close and personal the struggles of many Americans was a heart breaking and an emotional experience.  I talked with many adults as I helped serve them food that day and passed out some gifts to some of the children. It was a “tradition” I continued for the rest of the time I lived in Pennsylvania.  I returned home from that and I unwrapped the gifts that people had bought for me.  I ate many of the traditional things that my mom and I had shared for the Christmases we spent together after my dad passed away.  However, to be perfectly honest … I spent a good portion of the day feeling very sorry for myself and having a giant self-pity party!

As the evening approached I sat down on the couch.  As I sat there thinking about my mom and my family’s traditions, my cat (a favorite Christmas gift from my mom from years gone by), jumped up next to me.  As I sat there petting my cat, God began to speak to me in that still, small voice inside of each Christian.  I began to realize that Christmas Day is not about spending time with family and friends, feeding the homeless, unwrapping presents or eating our favorite foods.  All of those things are wonderful traditions that I love, but Christmas is about celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ and even more than that, the fact that Jesus Christ came to earth to author Salvation’s Story!  Yes, my mom was no longer with me on this earth but she was celebrating with Jesus and someday, I will see her again!  That fact alone is reason to celebrate!

I picked up my Bible and I began to read the Book of Luke.  Of course, Luke, chapter 2 is the Christmas Story and I loved reading it but I did not stop there.  I continued to read and before I knew it, I had read the entire Book of Luke!  I read about the miracles that Jesus performed, the sermons He preached, the people He touched and healed and then, of course, His crucifixion, His resurrection and His ascension.

Just like that, my day was transformed!  Oh sure, I still missed my mom terribly and I still do, especially at Christmas, BUT I was reminded the real reason we celebrate.  We say we celebrate the Birth of our Savior, which is true, but are we also not celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?  For without that, the birth would not have been significant.  Even after all of these years, I still read the entire Book of Luke on every Christmas day!

So, this year I challenge you to not only celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ but also His death and resurrection.  After all, it was that Baby born in Bethlehem that would go on to bridge the gap for each Christian between here and eternity in Heaven and, in the process, He would author the greatest love story every written, God’s Love for you and me.

Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior or is He just a baby in a manger to you?  If He is just a baby in a manger to you, let me invite you to get to know the real Jesus Christ!  The one who can save your soul and transform your life!  You can invite Christ into your heart today and to begin that personal relationship with Him that will transform your life!

Merry Christmas to you and your family.  I wish you many blessings this Christmas Season and all year through!

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marilynOn Christmas, my siblings and I each received a new game as a gift.  While we helped mom prepare Christmas dinner, Dad would read the instructions to the games.  After dinner, when the kitchen was all cleaned up, we would sit around the dining room table and Dad played our new games with us.  No cheating was ever tolerated which gave each of us a lesson in integrity.

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fh_lacyOne of my favorite Christmas memories was when my entire family came to New York to be with us for the holidays. Normally, we would make the trip to Michigan for each holiday and summer vacation so traveling was something I was very accustomed to.

In addition to recognizing and celebrating Christ’s birth, my favorite part about Christmas was being with my family. My cousins and I are all around the same age and we loved catching up, teasing each other, laughing, eating and watching Christmas movies. My grandparents got all of us some onesies and cozy flannel pajamas and we just piled in on the couch and took some pretty silly pictures. We all loved to give gifts to each other and receive gifts from each other.

I remember all of us barely fitting around the dining room table because we had so many family members present. I also remember eating one of my mom’s favorite recipes “Broccoli Casserole” and in the morning, Chrissy and I making omelets out of the leftovers. This Christmas was even more special because we had all of Pam Warren’s family present as well. There was somewhere between 20 and 30 people at our house for a sit down dinner and gift exchange afterwards.

We had cut down a Douglas Fir Christmas Tree that would go to the top of our 9 foot ceilings in our morning room where my family sat around and opened gifts. Then, the beautiful tree in our living room had Pam’s family celebrating and giving and receiving gifts. To add to the fun, we even had my Uncle Chuck’s dog visiting as well so we had three wiener dogs running around the house!!!

Without a doubt this was definitely my favorite Christmas!