Merry Christmas

As I write this, the clock will soon strike midnight in the Eastern Time Zone. By the time you read this, Christmas will be here and hopefully you will be surrounded by people who love you.

This Christmas has me doing what I’ve done for so many Christmas days of years gone by. I am thinking of my father and mother who died too young and after too many years of struggle and heartbreak. It is during the special holidays that people often think back and not only reminisce, but also wonder, “what might have been.”

Surely by now you are wondering, “why so melancholy for a Christmas day post?” Well, it was during my daydreaming that I looked around the room at my family. Children and grandchildren gathered around me laughing and enjoying the holiday season. I saw a brightly decorated Christmas tree with presents piled around it and the smells of the holidays wafting through the air.

Through the years I’ve thought about my parents and even said to Debra, “I wish mom and dad could still be here.” I know that heaven is a much better place, but I wish mom and dad could have seen so many of their prayers for their children answered. I wish they could have seen how their son and daughters have been involved in ministry to people, and how we’ve not forgotten the lessons they taught us. I wish they were here so we could treat them to the things they always wanted but could never afford.

After we finished Christmas eve dinner, my immediate family was all together, and our daughter-in-law’s parents were with us for a special moment. The dinner was great, festive and delicious, but it was what followed that brought my thoughts together. My son, Shaun said, “Dad, I want you and Frank (Shroyer) to read the Christmas story from the Scriptures and then I have something to say.” I turned to Luke chapter two and began to read…then as instructed, I handed my iPad over to Frank and he read the rest.”

Shaun then said, “I want to give all of you something for Christmas that is special. There are some verses that I would like all of us to memorize this year, and I want to live my life according to them and invite you to memorize them too.” Then he read these verses:

Micah 6:6-8

“6 With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?

7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”

These were Scriptures that my mother read over and over to me growing up.

As he passed out coin and bookmark reminder gifts, I looked at my daughter Lindsey. It was an amazing thing…As I looked in her eyes, I saw the little girl that she had been…in a flash of a moment I realized that my baby was all grown up. She had become a beautiful young woman…and a sense of wonder was still in her eyes. I thought about the blog that she has began writing named, “NEW EYES” (www.lbmckinley.blogspot.com)

I realized how proud my mom and dad would be to read her articles about personal holiness and personal responsibility. I realized how proud they would have been of her continuing her education and living for the Lord.

Then my mind went back to Shaun. How proud they would be to know that he graduated college (Mom had an 8th grade and dad a 6th grade education). How proud they would be of the work he does in the General Overseer’s office.

Then I looked at my bride of 34 years. She loved me when no one could and has been patient when no one else would. She is still makes my heart beat strong and I love her more than ever.

Suddenly I had clarity…a clarity that made me realize I was thinking in a new way. Yes, I would like my mom and dad to see how my life has turned out so far…but more than that, I realize how proud they would have been of those around me. My wife, Shaun and his wonderful wife Stephanie, a labor-delivery nurse, Lindsey and especially my granddaughters that were now at my feet playing.

It really is a wonderful life…when you think about it, so many challenges to overcome…but all the way through it, the Lord has kept His hand on us and I would like to think that just maybe…He might allow mom and dad to peep over the sides of heaven…and I can almost see them smiling.

I pray this is a wonderful Christmas for you and your family. I want you to know that you are loved and cared for….sometimes to realize it…we only have to open our eyes.

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