Tuesday, December 9, 2008

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them

Isaiah 11:6 "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them."

What a great quote. "Christmas can not be bought in a store, Christmas, perhaps means a little bit more."

This quote from one of my husband's favorite Christmas show (the original) brings to mind the Charlie Brown Christmas show I watched last night. Whenever I see this show it reminds me of one our most memorable and special Christmas's my family had a long time ago when Heather, our daughter was about 3 1/2 years old.

This was during a time in our lives when we were so poor that we depended upon prayer and God's grace to bring us our next meal! It was truly a miraculous time in our lives. We learned so many lessons during those years. It was also the year we have called our "Charlie Brown Christmas".

We lived far away from our families and did not want them to know (nor worry) exactly how poor we really were. We lived in Dallas, Texas in government subsidized housing. My husband and I had just started teaching in a Christian school making wages that didn't even meet minimum wage. We were also actively involved in our church leading the Jr. High Youth Group and a nursing home ministry. We were so busy, so poor, but at the same time rich in blessings, happiness and love. During our first five or so years of marriage both of our families exchanged gifts. Since we were so far away, this meant mailing gifts or even money. Being dirt poor this particular year, we waited for our usual Christmas monetary gifts from our parents before we could purchase gifts for all our family members and if we had any money left over, we would buy Heather some gifts.

As Christmas approached we realized we did not have any money to purchase a Christmas tree. Every child needs a Christmas tree - right? Jim thought for a while and grab his little axe and said, "Let’s go out and get a tree!" I looked at him as though he had lost his mind. I said, "Jim, we are in Dallas, Texas, where are we going to find a try that we can cut down?" He said, "We're going to look behind the church!" So off we went! As we were looking around behind the church we realized the only trees they had were little cedar trees. Jim took his axe and chopped a tiny little cedar tree down and we brought it home. As Jim set the little tree on the end table I almost cried. It was so pitiful! But to a 3 year old, this was a great adventure! Daddy chopped down a Christmas tree! We pulled out our decorations and as I put an ornament on the tree the limb went completely limp and the ornament fell off the tree! I sat down on the floor and began to cry. Heather came over to me, put her arms around my neck and in her sweet Texas draw, with a little speech impediment said, "It all wight mommy, we can make twee pwetty!" How could I disappoint that sweet little girl? So we put the ornaments all the way inside the tree and lightly put tinsel on the ends of the tree. You know what? Heather was right! It didn't look too bad... until...towards Christmas day when almost all the bristles were off the tree and all there was left was twigs for limbs! But that didn't matter to any of us!

In those couple of weeks we found out that Christmas was more than presents, shopping, baking, and commercialism. We spent those couple of weeks enjoying one another, making special gifts for family and friends, singing Christmas Carols, visiting the underprivileged children and their families from our Youth Group, and delivering some Christmas cheer to the elderly in the nursing home. Most importantly our daughter, even at the tender age of 3 learned that it was better to give than to receive. As she dictated her Christmas letter to Santa, she asked Santa for a new dress for her mommy and a new suite for her daddy, and she listed some more things for her mommy and daddy... then she said, "And Santa, if you have some money left, I want a new dolly." My heart just melted!! She had a whole list for others and one thing she wanted herself! Do you think she got that new dolly? You bet! Did mommy and daddy get what she asked for? Another miracle! Someone from church gave Jim a new suit and a woman at church cleaned out her closet and gave me her clothes!

"Christmas cannot be bought in a store, Christmas, perhaps means a little bit more."
We knew about what Christmas Day was… the birth of our Savior. But that year we learned that Christmas was perhaps a little bit more….. innocence of a child, the gift of giving and sharing Christmas cheer, the joy in the heart of a child….our child as she taught us at the tender age of three what the true meaning of Christmas really is….Unconditional Love!

Ephesians 3:16-21 "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."


Denise said...

Sweet blessings to you dear.

Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

This is a beautiful, touching, personal story! Thank you for sharing it. Don't you think that the more we sacrifice -- the more we try to (or have to) avoid the commercialism and capitalism and MarthaStewartism, the greater our JOY in this SEASON? I do!
HIS birth is more than just a piece of First Century history. It's more than just a Chapter in the Book of Luke. It's the fulcrum on which all of history sits! His birth ties Genesis to Revelation. It is the Greatest Story Ever Told! OK I'm done preaching now.
Wonderful Post. GREAT Scriptures to match (beat!) Dr. Suess.
I've learned to appreciate the theologian in Dr. Suess today.
~esthermay @The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

luvmy4sons said...

And the best example of unconditional love is Jesus. Lovely story...

lori said...

Michelle...THANK YOU so much for sharing that story...you've LIVED it and witnessed it up close...it's so much more!

It was simply beautiful...and I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes.

Peace to you, and I'm so glad that between all of us we've made Esthermay a FAN of Dr. Suess in the process....now that took some doing!:)

Merriest Christmas wishes to you!

Marsha said...

Beautiful, Sis! Poor Mom. I wonder if she realized we did we both bought gifts for others with her money?

He & Me + 3 said...

That is such a great story. Thanks for sharing. Have a blessed and wonderful Christmas this year! Full of Christ!

God Chaser said...

Thanks you for sharing this wonderful story. there is no way we can miss the true meaning of Christ here or with your gift list. I love Christmas can't be brought in a store. Thanks and may Christmas contiue to reign in your heart.

Mimi said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Blessings on this WFW!

Debra Kaye said...


What a beautiful testimony! Michele, I loved reading this but I have to tell you, the tears started at the end when you quoted Ephesians. That is my life verse for my daughter. I pray that over her everyday.

It is my fervent hope that she will come back to being in love with Jesus and not with this world and that means knowing the width, height and depth of His love for her. Oh Michele, thank you for this post today. It gives me such hope for the innocence of a child!!

Blessings to you today sweet sis!

Laurie Ann said...

You really did live that quote! Awesome, and thanks for sharing that with us. I feel like I know you a little more now. I'm so glad that the true meaning of Christmas is NOT found in stores!

Jen said...

We can relate to your story. Our children are learning this valuable lesson this year. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story of God's blessings you shared with us today. Sweet!

Melanie said...

Oh, Michele... what a wonderful story of how God cares for us and meets our every need when we just trust.

Happy WFW!

HEATHER said...

Ok, pass the tissues please. As many times I hear or read that story it still touches my heart like it was yesterday. My parents have always and still do teach me the importance of giving it really does change your life and how you view others in times of despair, financial needs or even health matters.
Love you , Heather

Karen said...

Hello, Michelle,
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, and for your kind comment. I am very happy to meet you. You have a very nice blog--congratulations on your 200th post! Drop in again anytime. Blessings to you~

Beth in NC said...

That is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story. And how beautiful for your daughter to know that GOD heard her requests. So precious!

I know how you feel about a cedar Christmas tree. When we first married, my husband insisted on those types of trees (cut from a fence line on the farm). I finally won a few years later -- and now we even sell Frazier Fir's -- real Christmas trees that hold the ornaments. Ha.

God bless you this Christmas and always!

Peggy said...

Blessings Michelle...Such a beautiful & touching story of the real meaning of Christmas! Beautiful scripture truth...of how a little child will lead them..."
And she did! This is precious!
Good choice from Ephesians also
to end this with a reminder for all! Thank you and may this year's CHRISTmas "mean a little bit more."

gail said...

wonderful story. i love that quote from dr seuss too. we have lived those Christmas' too and its amazing how God provides spiritual and bountiful blessings to you during those times.

thanks you and happy WFW

Sharon Brumfield said...

That was a great retelling of your life story. And I have to say that it brought to mind life when I was growing up.
My parents were in the ministry..they had a coffee house in the French Quarter of New Orleans..and we lived by faith. At the time I did not realize how blessed we were...it was just our life. But now I look back and I thank God for how He worked to supply our needs.
And yes, I do remember those Charlie Brown Christmas trees. Mom and Dad used it to retell the whole story of the life of Jesus way before that was the thing to do. Yes, even the tinsel represented the coldness of mans heart. It was a good life.
Thanks for the memories. :)