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Waking up early, while the morning was still dark, I was tempted to sleep a little longer, but then my mind jumped to the day ahead of me.  Thoughts started coming quickly – I can’t go back to sleep because I have to wake Jackson early for his semester exam, but he was sick last night, so if still sick, I’ll have to contact school.  Zach’s coming home today! Clean his room and get it ready for his arrival.  Doctor appointment for Jackson at 11:50.  Finish Christmas decorations. Clean house.  Puppy proof house for Marley (Zach’s dog).  Prepare food – lunch, bake cookies, cut up fresh fruit…what to have for dinner?  Zach will be home for dinner!  Will it be a problem if Jackson is too sick to take exam today?  I hope the doctor can help him…

Then my alarm went off.  Ugh. It was tempting to snuggle down in the covers and give myself snooze time.  Instead, I hit the snooze button and used the time to pray.

Good morning, dear Heavenly Father.  Please be with me in the day ahead.  Help me accomplish the things that need to be done.  What do You want me to do today? Your plans are more important than mine. Please be with Zach as he drives home from college.  Please be with Jackson to help him get well.  I pray he’ll be well enough to take his exam this morning. I pray also for Rex, that he can get to the doctor about his cough.  Please comfort Sheryl and her family after recent losses of three loved ones, and help them through Christmas.  Please also be with Colby’s family (Jackson’s 15-year old friend who recently “finished his race” after battling brain tumors).  Lord, what an inspiration they’ve been, choosing to live life through faith in You, not bow down to the darkness of death. I pray they will find joy in Christmas while still grieving their loss.  How painful it must be to be missing a child at Christmas.  Yes, Lord, please be with them.  Lord, I pray for all who are sick, hurting, healing, struggling, that Your presence will bless them and make a difference in their lives, that they will be drawn closer to You.  I pray for my parents and our families, …  Then the “ripples” sound of my snooze alarm called me out of prayer and into the present moment.  My mind had transitioned from planning to praying.   I was ready to get out of bed and begin my day.

It turned out that Jackson was still very sick (he has the flu and Rex has bronchitis), so while he slept, I sat down with a cup of hot tea.   Beautiful colors were spreading across the sky in the twilight of dawn. I checked my phone for my daily “Verse of the Day” from Bible Gateway.  It was perfect:

(Mary’s Song of Praise) 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)

Reading the words of praise from Mary, I was inspired by her faith.  After after finding herself with child out of wedlock (as a virgin, no less!) putting her engagement and future at great risk, she was still so full of faith that she wanted to magnify the Lord and praise His holy name!  Wow. The Lord reminded me that He has done great things for me, too, and I’ve witnessed His greatness in other people’s lives, also.  Being reminded of God’s goodness, especially at Christmas when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,  gave me confidence for the prayers I just prayed, and hope for whatever is to come.

Brilliant colors of orange, pink and purple lit up sky ahead of the rising sun.  It was a beautiful morning, and surely would be a blessed day.  Magnify the Lord, and praise His holy name, indeed!

CHRISTmas blessings,

Renee

To read more of the story of Mary, or read about the first Christmas when Jesus was born, go to http://www.BibleGateway. com     Search for Mary, or read about the birth and life of Jesus in the Gospels – Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

 

 

Yep, it’s Christmas, so it’s that time of year again!  Time to be Candy Cane Crusaders for Christ!

Bothered by the fact that businesses were forbidding employees to say, “Merry Christmas,” I decided to make sure that I said, “Merry Christmas” to them. However, just saying “Merry Christmas” wasn’t enough.  Remembering the Candy Cane Poem that tells how the candy cane was created to be symbolic of Jesus, I decided to start handing out mini candy canes wherever I went.

Several years and thousands of candy canes later, I’m still handing out candy canes and saying, “Merry Christmas!”  Others are doing the same!

Every year I stock up on boxes of mini candy canes, say a prayer that they will bless those who receive them, and then arm myself by filling a quart-size baggie that I keep handy in my purse. I hand candy canes out to those I see throughout my day while saying, “Merry Christmas!”

The first candy canes I gave out this year were to two entertaining little boys while we waited in line. (I discreetly asked the mom if it was ok to give them candy canes before doing so.)  Yesterday I gave a candy cane to an older lady who was beside me at a cash register.  We were buying Christmas decorations.  She’d been very cheerful and seemed to be enjoying the holidays, so as she turned to go, I said, “Excuse me, ma’am.  Would you like a candy cane?”  I expected a big, cheerful smile, but instead she looked like she might cry.  Then she said, “Yes, please.  I really needed that.  Can I give you a hug?”   She gave me a big hug right there at the registers while she thanked me and I said, “Merry Christmas.”  Then she smiled again and left with her purchases in tow.  When I turned back to the register to pay for my things, I saw that the people around us had been watching.  They just looked at me, not saying anything at first.  Then someone said, “That was really nice of you.  You really made a difference for her.”   I gave everyone else candy canes, too.  They were delighted!

Who can you give candy canes to?  The people who take your order and serve you at restaurants and drive-thru service, and people at registers.  When they give you your receipt, you give them a candy cane and say, “Merry Christmas!”  Candy canes are great for coffee baristas, the person who bags your groceries,  for cheering up cranky children and grumpy grown-ups.  They’re also a good reward when you catch kids being good!  I give candy canes to friends, strangers, whoever I run into throughout my day.

Often I attach the Candy Cane Poem to the candy canes I give out. The poem is a great way to share the story of Jesus.  I’ve prepared thousands of candy canes with the poem for children’s charities and gift baskets for shut-ins.  I’ve also filled a large zip-lock bag with them to put in our newspaper box with a sign attached that says, “Help yourself” as a way to offer them to passers-by, the mailman, etc.  I also keep a basket of candy canes with the poem by the front door to give to delivery people and anyone who stops by.

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!

What do you think?  Would you like to be a Candy Cane Crusader for Christ?

If you’d like to use the Candy Cane Poem, just send me an email and I’ll reply with a document that has copies of the poem ready to cut out like small tags.

How are you giving out candy canes?  I’d love to hear from you!

CHRISTmas blessings to all!

 

 

 

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