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And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”    – Luke 1:46-47,49

In the past year and a half, we have had struggles, setbacks and disappointments.  However, in all situations, we also experienced God in unexpected and amazing ways.  His presence of encouragement and hope kept us going. Often His presence was made known through the prayers, blessings and encouragement of others. God did not always answer prayers as we asked, but His ways were always higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:9) Through it all, God’s goodness far outweighed the bad. Llike Mary, my spirit does indeed rejoice in God, my Savior, for he who is mighty has truly done great things for me/us, and holy is his name. Inspired by these things, we continue to stay strong in faith and keep our eyes on the Lord.   Amen.

Friends, I pray the same for you.  Love to all.

#countingblessings   #praisingGod

The verse above was shared recently as Bible Gateway’s daily verse.  For free online subscription to daily verses, go to http://www.BibleGateway.com

I gave a candy cane to a homeless man yesterday.  You would have thought I had given him a bar of gold.  The man, probably in his 60’s, was standing at an intersection holding a cardboard sign asking for donations.  I do not usually give money to people who do this because I have seen tv documentaries about how they are often part of a scam.  However, something tugged at my heart. “The voice that speaks to me inside my head” (God) said, “Oh, come on.  Give him a dollar – and a candy cane.”   Oh, yes, a candy cane, of course!  Now that excited me.  I give away candy canes at Christmas as a personal ministry (more about this below).  The man began thanking me as he approached my car.  Then, he saw the candy cane, and his face lit up with the biggest smile. Then he really started thanking me!  “Oh, thank you, thank you!” he said excitedly. He looked down at the candy cane then back up at me, still smiling, and amazed, as if I had given him a great fortune. My heart melted.  “You’re welcome. God bless you,” I said.  “And God bless you!” he replied. The traffic light turned green.  We waved at each other as I drove away. I felt like I was saying goodbye to a special friend.

It made me happy to do something that meant so much for the homeless man.  However, the encounter also made me sad.  What hardships had this man endured that made something as simple as a mini candy cane so meaningful?  Did the candy cane evoke special memories, or was it the gesture of kindness?  Thank You, Lord, for telling me to give this man a candy cane. 

Several years ago I started Candy Cane Crusaders for Christ.  It began when I learned that stores and businesses were forbidding employees from saying “Merry Christmas” to customers.  This angered me.  Retailers are eager to capitalize on our Christmas spending, but do not want to acknowledge Christ (the true reason for Christmas) because acknowledging Jesus could be offensive to some.   Well, I thought, the employees might not be able to say “Merry Christmas” to me, but I can say it to them!  Remembering the Legend of the Candy Cane, the story about how the candy cane was created as a way of witnessing for Jesus, I decided that not only would I say, “Merry Christmas,” I would also hand out candy canes.

At first I just gave candy canes to those who helped me when shopping, cashiers, workers at drive-up windows, etc., always saying “Merry Christmas.”  Then I started giving them randomly to people I see throughout my day – kids I catch being good, fussy children who could use something to cheer them, grumpy grown-ups who also need cheer, strangers, friends, children at church, etc.   It is amazing how even the crankiest of cashiers will cheer up when they hand me my receipt and I give them a mini candy cane saying, “Here, this is for you.  Merry Christmas!”  Teens get excited, too.  It’s cute.  Yesterday a 20-something young man said the candy cane made his day.

Sometimes I attached a copy of the Candy Cane poem to the candy canes, too.  (See below.) We have done this not only for the everyday candy canes I hand out, but also for various charities and outreach programs.

As a Candy Cane Crusader for Christ, my purse is packed with mini candy canes.  I am armed and cane-gerous, trying to share the love of Christ at Christmas.  Want to join those already sharing candy canes in the name of Christ?  It is easy to do.  Just stock up on mini candy canes, pray that they will bless those who receive them, and give them away throughout your day, always saying, “Merry Christmas!”

CANDY CANE POEM: You can use the poem below, or send me an email and I will reply with a document of the poem ready to be cut into tags.      ReneeMyers@carolina.rr.com

Look at the Candy Cane, what do you see?

Stripes that are red like the blood  shed for me.

White is for my Savior, Who is sinless and pure!

“J” is for Jesus, my Lord, that’s for sure!

Turn it around and a staff you will see,

Jesus, the Shepherd,  born for you and me!

 

CHRISTmas blessings to all!

Renee

 

 

Leaves fall from above, and swirl through the air like glitter that dances in a snow globe – fitting since this is December, not the mid of autumn.  Seasons seem mixed up here in the Carolinas where the fall keeps its hold while the holidays begin.   Outside, the sky is gray and the air is chilly and damp.  Inside, it is cozy and warm.  Christmas songs play on the radio.  I think about the coming of Christmas while also remembering days of Christmases past.  Oh, to go back to the magical days of childhood Christmases, or even to the days when our sons were young and we experienced the wonderment of Christmas through them.

Things have changed so much.  When I was young, Christmas seemed to be just a two-week window of decorating, wrapping gifts, making, sharing and eating Christmas treats, watching the mail for Christmas cards, and driving at night to see Christmas lights, all in anticipation of the actual Christmas day.  For us, the real Christmas celebration began when we went to the Christmas Eve service at church.  On more than one occasion, I panicked on the way home, for when I looked up at the night sky, I saw a flying object with blinking red lights and was sure it was Santa starting his rounds. I urged Dad to hurry home so I could get to bed!   I didn’t want to Santa to miss me!  (It might be noteworthy to add that we passed a municipal airport on the way home.  Wink. Wink.)  Then, oh, the joy of Christmas morning!  I would hurry to the tree to see what Santa brought, usually hoping for a special doll and excited to see what other surprises might await!

Now Christmas starts a week or two before Thanksgiving.  Homes, towns and businesses decorate earlier each year.  Radio stations play Christmas music as early as Halloween, and Christmas movies start playing before the Pilgrims even reach the shores of Plymouth Rock.  “Black Friday” sales begin in early November as stores compete to get the first holiday profits.  Last week the Charlotte Observer distributed its heaviest edition ever, a 5-pound newspaper, filled mostly with ads from stores and restaurants saying, “Come spend money here!”  In response, people start going crazy for the best deals and trying to be first to get the latest buys.  Instead of simple dolls and toys, people scramble for the latest technology, hustling and bustling, trying to get everything done, and making Christmas about all things commercial.  Perhaps I wouldn’t mind the 6-weeks long holiday hoopla if people were as excited about Jesus as they are all the commercial aspects of Christmas.

I love everything about Christmas – the lights, music, decorating, food, gift-giving, and celebrations, but nowhere in the earliness of doing all these things does anyone ever say, “It’s time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior!  I can’t wait to celebrate Jesus!”  People post pictures of their trees and decorations, but not one image of the Christ child, or even a nativity scene is shared.

It is time to celebrate!  It is time to share joy and merriment, enjoy the beauty of lights and decorations, and have blessed time with loved ones and friends; and as we do, let us be sure to remember the true reason for celebrating, the greatest gift all, God’s gift of Jesus!

An angel of the Lord appeared…and the glory of the Lord shone around them…and the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ (the Anointed One) the Lord…and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (many angels!) praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Luke 2:10-14

Now THAT is reason to celebrate!

Holiday hugs and CHRIST-mas blessings to all!

Renee

To read more about the birth of Jesus, go to http://www.BibleGateway.com   Go to Luke, Chapter 2, or do topic search:  Birth of Jesus

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