Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Boxing Day

No, that isn't your cue to put on gloves and start fighting it out at the gift return desk. Boxing Day is a holiday in the United Kingdom, Canada and other Commonwealth nations.

Boxing Day is also known as the Feast of St. Stephen in honor of the Christian martyr. You can read more about him in Acts. This holiday was set up in the mid-19th century by Queen Victoria. It was typically a day for the merchant class to honor the trades people and servants in their lives. Some relate it to business owners giving bonuses to their workers. The gifts were usually food - especially fruit which was very expensive - and sometimes articles of clothing. They were given in boxes and hence the name "Boxing Day." Some also associate this day with the time when the church opens the alms boxes. The monies collected in the alms boxes were then distributed to the poor on the day after Christmas.

I always find it fascinating to learn about other cultures and history. I think it would do well for us here in America to remember the poor on Boxing Day. Rather than spend the day shopping for those post-Christmas sales and fighting the crowds to return that improperly sized gift, it might be fun to drop off a donation to the local Salvation Army or other organization that helps the poor. Yes, I know I talked about something similiar last week, but I've really been convicted of late that God has given us an abundance of blessings. So many people are suffering in this economy and while it has hit our family as well, I know that we are still more blessed than many.

I am so thankful this holiday season for the love of family and friends, for my granddaughter's slow - but steady recovery, for my healthy grandchildren, for having a roof over our heads and food on the table. I'm blessed beyond the curse and God's promise truly endures and He will continue to be my strength.

Jesus said that whatever we do to the least of these...we do to Him. So extend His birthday celebration and have a little Boxing Day fun!!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Be a Christmas Blessing

It's been a crazy month for me. We went to Kansas on the 3rd of December to see our kids and grandkids and was greeted with voicemail that told us our 6 year old granddaughter Rainy was once again in the hospital. This time it was for an emergency appendectomy. Unfortunately things went bad for Rainy and she developed post-operative infection. We almost lost her, but God interceded. I know many of you were praying and I want you to know how much I appreciate that. Below is a photo of Rainy and me.

Rainy is still quite ill, but was showing improvement. She will be in the hospital for sometime on antibiotics that are capable of shutting down her kidneys, so please continue the prayers. Her folks are trying to coordinate celebrating Christmas in the hospital so that they can be together as a family.

With this in mind, I have to give high praise to Kansas City's Children's Mercy Hospital. The staff there are phenomenal. This non-profit hospital works hard to save the lives of children, no matter their status in life and I greatly appreciate that. While there I met many amazing people - doctors and nurses, as well as patients and their family members. The entire hospital promotes a positive attitude of healing and comfort. If you're looking for a great non-profit to donate to, I highly recommend them. But I also encourage you to think about your local hospitals - especially children's hospitals. Most of these have all sorts of volunteer positions, as well as a need for donations of baked goods and other things. I hope you'll check in and see what you can do to help. We benefited from the Ronald McDonald room at the hospital where volunteers offered meals and snacks. These kind of things are so beneficial for families who have to be there for long periods of times.

As Christmas comes around once again, I think about how Mary and Joseph were also dependent upon the kindness and generosity of the people they met on their journey to Bethlehem. It's frightening to need medical help and be far from home and people you know. There's a feeling of great vulnerability when facing the labor and delivery of your unborn child, just as there is vulnerability when facing the sickness of a loved one. Simple basic acts of kindness and love are so reassuring. It's a way of bearing one another's burdens as we are encouraged to do in the Bible. This Christmas season, be a blessing to those around you, you never know the impact you will have on another life. I know this first hand, and so does my sweet little granddaughter.


Friday, December 5, 2008


My latest book has been turned in. Thanksgiving and visiting relatives have gone home (I miss them already). The calendar has been turned to the last month of the year, and Christmas is in the air. I'm filled with an absolute sense of celebration!

Here in Montana, we are a livily bunch who celebrate our heritage, our families, our land. We even celebrate the cold. We have several celebrations throughout the winter, including a Christmas Stroll in December where downtown is closed to traffic and the shops and vendors keep us warm with holiday refreshments and sales. We bundle up in our thermalite and longjohns and have a grand old time. It's part of the charm of Montana.

Here in the north country 4-wheel drive is the norm and a great many cars have ski-racks on top. Snow isn't seen as a deterent, but rather a common way of life. Since moving up here now nearly 8 years ago, I have marveled at how this part of the country doesn't shut down for much of any reason. When I lived in Kansas we'd get ice and snows that would cancel government jobs and school. In Texas, where I lived 2 years as a young girl, the tiniest amount of the powdery white stuff would close down the city. But not so in Montana. Here we go - no matter the snow. Or temperature. Or windchill.

Schools seldom have snow days. I was informed when I enrolled my son years ago that the buses would run until temps hit -25 degrees F. Between that and -30F, I was on my own to get him to school, and at -31F they would most likely close school. However, I've seen it at -35F and school was still in session.

But even if you don't like the snow and the cold - I encourage you to pull on your spirit of celebration. It's a marvelous time of year. A time for thanksgiving. A time for encouragement. A time for love. Celebrate no matter your location--no matter who can be with you--no matter the economy. God has given us a wondrous gift in His Son--a celebration of life that has no equal. We owe it to Him to bless others with the same love and joy that He has given us. We were brought into this world to celebrate with creation all that God has bestowed upon us. Celebrate! Life is short--you don't want to miss the party!

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