A Grandpa Christmas

Sis with Grandpa

Christmas 1979: My Sister and Grandpa

In the mid 70s, when every day was #Shoplocal in our small hometown of Benton, Illinois, Star Best, P.N. Hirsch and Woolworth’s were the stores of choice. Today’s Amazon arrived in the hands of excited children, like me, in the form of a Sears Roebuck or JC Penny catalog. As I lay on my grandpa’s family room floor, the colorful, sleek pages were earmarked with the hope that Santa would deliver my much-desired Mrs. Beasley doll.

My grandpa, a hard-working coal miner, loved Christmas. Each year he would give my mom one hundred dollars to spend on my grandmother at Star Best, an exclusive boutique on the square. My mom and grandmother would set aside a Saturday to drive up to Mt. Vernon and begin their holiday shopping. I was included. If they were going to Woolworth’s Department Store, they were not going without me. I loved walking through the store and seeing all the different items they had. The best part, if I behaved myself, was the grilled cheese and strawberry shake I would get at their restaurant for lunch. Mom and grandma always had to rush their shopping. If we were not back by two in the afternoon, Grandpa would be pacing the floor and looking out the window until we returned.

Packages from Sears and JC Penny would arrive in the mail, hidden in closets, to be wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree. Finally, Christmas day would arrive! We each took a turn opening a package. After all the packages were opened, Grandpa would say, with a beaming grin, something like: “Now, I’m sure I saw something in the basement that Santa couldn’t put up here. Let me check.” Up from the basement he would come with a shiny new bike or some other big gift we had asked for. Grandpa also used the department store catalogs to put money in. My sister and I would go page by page to find one-dollar bills, fifty to sometimes one hundred total, hidden in their pages. Grandpa was never very affectionate, but after all the gifts were opened, my sister and I would give him a quick kiss on his shiny balding head. He never made a response, but I think he secretly liked the attention.

We each had stockings with our names on them. My grandpa did the Christmas socks even for the adults. We would open them last. The contained candy, Cracker Jacks and little gifts. My grandpa liked to play jokes. One year he put coal in my sister’s sock. “Were you not a good girl this year?” he asked her. She started crying. Grinning he said, “Wait. Santa made a mistake. Here’s your sock.” He would pull her real sock out from behind a hiding place.

Time changes things. Star Best, P.N. Hirsch and Woolworth’s are gone. Grandpa passed away several years ago. With his passing, Christmas was no longer the same. The beaming smile was no longer seen pulling gifts out of the basement. His laughter as a jokester no longer heard. You see, Christmas was never about the gifts, but about the person, my grandpa, who gave them out with such joy.

From Fear to Faith

         Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

She walked afraid. Each step forward a victory as the powers of darkness raged war around her. Her hand drew back, unprepared for the cold steel handle as she pulled open the door. She stopped as fear gripped her and her feet refused to move. Demons grinned at her hesitation. They knew she wouldn’t go through it. She always made promises to herself but she never kept them. Suddenly she heard the kind, gentle voice of an elderly woman, “Welcome, dear. I haven’t seen you here before. Let me help you find a seat.” She smiled at the older woman. Her voice reminded her of her grandmother. She followed her through the double doors and slipped beside her on a pew. She nervously tugged at her skirt. For the first time in her life she was embarrassed by its shortness. The woman patted her hand and directed her attention to the front of the church.

Listening attentively, her heart took in every word the man of God was preaching. He spoke of rest. A rest only found in Jesus Christ. Her soul was weary. She longed for that rest. But how could this Jesus give her that rest? The man of God spoke of sin. She knew her own sin well enough but he also spoke of Jesus’ love. Love enough to die on a cross for all who would believe…for her if she would believe. How could she believe in this love? No one loved her. Her mom was a drunk and her dad nowhere to be found. Men confessed their love to her but only to use and abuse her later.

A tear slipped from her cheek then another and another. She wiped them in embarrassment. No matter how hard she stuck her nail in her palm, she couldn’t stop the tears. They began to sing “Jesus Paid It All.” She glanced at the woman beside her. She wasn’t singing but her head was bowed and her lips moved rapidly in fervent prayer. She couldn’t take another moment of this agony.

“Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r and thine alone,
Can change the lepers’ spots
and melt the heart of stone.”

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2: 4,5 (ESV)

She walked afraid but to the altar she fearlessly ran.

If you don’t know this love of Jesus, I’d be happy to share more about Him and what He did and is doing in my own heart and life. My email is hiswonderfuldeeds11@gmail.com.

For the Young Mamas Out There

young mama

Young mama, I have experienced your joy when you have made the announcement “We’re expecting!” Your face radiant with the pregnancy glow that new mamas seem to have. For some that glow turned to sadness when God ordained to take your baby home before you got to hold him or her. I cried with you when you grieved. But your faith, young mama, outweighed your loss and you trusted through your tears. Once again hope returned but you waited a little while longer to share the news. That pregnancy glow returned along with a little waddle when you walked. Your stomach grew and so did your appetite. Nine months later, with your husband at your side, you gave that final push and the baby for whom you prayed burst into a wail which was a beautiful song to you.

The next weeks seemed a blur of sleepless nights, take-out and endless diaper changes. The laundry piled up and so did your feelings of inadequacy. Young mama, don’t ever doubt your calling to motherhood. God chose you and your husband as the perfect fit for the child He has entrusted you with. Lean on God and His word to help you get through those I-just-can’t-do-this-anymore moments.

Suddenly a year has passed, then two and three. Some young mamas may decide to homeschool. If you have the discipline and dedication it takes, I commend you for your desire to teach your child. But young mama, homeschooling is not for everyone. Don’t put a burden on yourself you were never meant to bear.

Your family has grown. Now there are John Deere tractors and little girl dress up shoes under your feet, endless loading and unloading of the dishwasher and that mountain of laundry in front of the washer keeps growing. Your quiet time with the Lord is like your child’s missing sock-you just can’t find it. Young mama, don’t lose the one thing-the One Person-that you need to sustain your weary heart. A few verses read on the toilet are better than days-then weeks- without His living water to refresh your spirit. Your children need to see a mama that fears the Lord. So model that before them through Bible reading, prayer and teachable “God” moments found in the beauty of a sunset or the roar of a lion.

Young mama, treasure each moment. From the special to the mundane. Time will pass quickly. Suddenly they will be all grown up. Keep your eyes on Jesus. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. In Him you will find the rest and peace every young mama needs.

Happy Mother’s Day!