“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Mama Greene’s had a vision or hope for her nine children as she prayed for each child nightly.
For each of her children to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior at an early age.
That they would live according to His Word every day of their lives.
That they would receive an education. Her hope was that all of her children would at least graduate from 8th Grade. In the 1920s this was considered educated among the farming communities. If they wanted to send their children to high school, they had to pay tuition which was difficult for poor families. They needed the older children to help on the farm.
That they would honor “Papa.”
That they would remain together and be close as a family.
The Vision of a Mother’s Heart is back in print and is available!
(The e-book needs to be reformatted. If you read the ebook, please forgive the mistakes!)
Kathie Kingery Photography
PhotographerThe model for “Mama” is the real Isabel’s granddaughter, Emily.
Apron by K. Kingrey
The title of my first novel was borrowed from a song by singer and songwriter, Abigail Miller. The chorus contained the words:
The vision of a mother’s heart,
Is to share with her children the love only Jesus can give.
The Vision of a mother’s heart,
Is to see them all walking with God every day that they live.
This chorus summed up all that I wanted to depict in the story inspired by my grandmother’s childhood.
I didn’t have pictures of Jimmy and Avil (Billy) when they were small.
I am currently working on the sequel, Hope Beyond the Sunset. You may read sample chapters as listed in the archives.
As a child, I loved sitting under the table and listening to Granny, (Isabel) reminisce about her childhood while holding the picture of her mother in my hands and could almost see the story come to life. I remember thinking, “This should be a book!” Little did I know that the Lord would use me to write their story.
I changed the last name of the family and other distant family members. They were real people who lived in Virginia. The first book takes place begins in 1924. Book two picks up where we left off in 1926 and will run through 1929.
One great thing about writing fiction even when inspired by a true story – we can change the ending. I will update you when Hope Beyond the Sunset is available.
The Vision of a Mother’s Heart is available on Amazon.com or you can buy a signed copy from me. I hope you will enjoy stepping into the past with Isabel and the “Greene” family!
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
The Apostle Paul referred to it as a “Thorn in the flesh.” (Many think Pauls thorn in the flesh was his poor eyesight.) Today, we call it a disability or chronic illness. Mine happens to be an inner-ear disorder called bilateral Meniere’s. Vertigo, nausea, Tinnitus, loss of balance and migraines.
No biggie. I’ve been living with the diagnosis since 1984 but as the years go on, it seems to last longer. So I’m at home most of the time and I have to do basic chores more differently. For example, Laundry.
My little helper, Alice.
Loading the machines isn’t too bad. As long as I don’t need to bend over to pick up the clothing. Unloading the dryer, however, can be a problem on bad days. I don’t know about you, but I grew up drying clothes on the line outside. When I took the clothes off the line, I folded them and placed them in the basket so that ironing would be easier. I carried that over to the dryer too. It’s so much easier. However, bending over is a problem.
We have a drop-leaf table in the laundry room against the wall opposite the washer and dryer. I thought it would be great for folding clothes. On good days, it is! However, on bad days, that means turning as I take the clothes out of the dryer, turn 180 degrees and place them onto the table to fold. Big vertigo trigger! So this is what I do.
This might not be great for the dryer but when I open the dryer door, I stack all of the undershirts and tops that need to be folded, face down over the dryer door while I fold the smaller things and place them in the basket. Now, I have a stack of undershirts and Tee shirts to fold all at once. Usually on the laundry table unless it is cluttered!
This time I opted to fold them on the bed for my sweet hubby to put away. So much simpler and more efficient. At least it is for this gal.
I hope I haven’t bored you with my folding technique. I know there are many people who are suffering and also unable to do the simple tasks they were once able to do. I try to do only one or two loads at a time but not more than that on one day unless I am vertigo free. God’s grace helps me find simple ways to do the things that must be done.
Part of that grace is the blessing of my husband, John.
He is such a blessing! Especially when he does the laundry or brings “carry out” dinner!
He even runs the vacuum cleaner! He does the laundry and I fold it. Great team, right?
I think so!
As wives, our “thorn in the flesh” is also felt by our husbands who may not be natural cooks or fond of washing dishes. They sacrifice a lot for us and are often overlooked.
I just want to praise the Lord for my husband of almost 34 years. John Purdy, you are a blessing and I love you!
There are many blogs and support groups out there for those of us who live with chronic illness. One of my favorites is written by my friend, Lisa Erhman. Please click on her link below.
“He’s here, He’s here. Everybody come and see” Isabel called from the foot of the stairs, “He’s finally here!”
“Who’s here?” Papa said as he rubbed his chin and smoothed his hair which was sticking out in every direction.
“You mean he was here, don’t ya’ Sis?” Eugene said as he slid down the banister and bumped into Mama who ran from the kitchen to see the commotion.
“No! He’s here in the parlor. He’s here – just as He said!”
“Isabel dear,” Mama said softly, what do you mean?”
Isabel took Mama’s hand and ran directly to the stable. She cried out in delight as she looked into the eyes of the Baby Jesus lying in the manger. “All those years, we waited and waited and He Came!”
“Oh, Isabel dear, Jesus came almost 2000 years ago. We celebrate Christmas because He came. The carved baby in the manger is just a reminder that He came. You know that this is kind of a picture that represents Him. Something we can hold onto as we read God’s Word but it’s just an object. We mustn’t make an idol. You know this doll isn’t Jesus.”
“Yes Mama, I know that. But He came, didn’t He?” Isabel said as her eyes filled with tears. He came because He loved us, right? That’s what Eugene and Curtis said from the Bible.”
“Yes, child,” Mama said softly.
“Jesus loves me Mama and I love Jesus.”
Papa moved in closer, picked her up and held her tightly as she held Baby Jesus in her hand.
“You’re right, Isabel,” Papa said and wiped a tear from her cheek. “We love Him because He first loved us and you know what?”
Isabel shook her head from side to side.
“He’s coming again!”
“He is?” Isabel pushed back to see Papa and Mama’s faces. “Will he be in a stable?”
“No, but He will be riding on a white horse and will come as The King of King and Lord of Lords!”
“We will see Him?”
“Yes Isabel,” Mama said as she wiped the tears from Isabel’s eyes. “We talk to Him every time we pray and He speaks to us through His Word, The Bible! It is my prayer that someday you, your brothers and sisters will receive Christ as your Savior. We will live with Him forever.”
Isabel looked at the image in her hand, at her parents, and to the image again. Finally closing her eyes and said, “Jesus I love you because You first loved me. Thank you for coming! Thank you for Christmas!
“Mama,” she whispered before we look in our socks and open presents, may we sing?”
“That would be wonderful, Isabel. What shall we sing?”
“Joy to the world the Lord has come!”
What about you, friends? Is your focus on The Son of God, Jesus who gave His life for you or are you focusing on the external trappings that often draw our attention away from Him?
Christmas isn’t about the tree, the decorations, the Carols, or even the gifts.
It is about God’s love for you.
“We love Him because He first loved us.”
I John 4:19
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believeth in Him is not condemned: but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Why did God send His only begotten son – knowing that He would be the sacrifice for our sin? Because He loves us.
God is Holy and cannot look upon sin and yet He loved us – even though we are sinners – and longs for us to be redeemed from the penalty of sin. This is what Jesus did for you and for me. He took the penalty of sin in His own body on the cross. He gave His life so that you and I will spend eternity in Heaven with Him.
When I first heard the Gospel in 1968, I did not immediately receive Christ as my Savior. I was a quiet child and everyone told me that I was “good.” This is not true. I am a sinner. It took me a week to realize it.
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God:
Being justified (made upright and in right standing with God) freely by His grace (unmerited favor of God) through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
One night, after a week of conviction that I am a sinner; I could practically see Jesus suffering, dying on the cross for my sin! In the wee hours of the morning, I got on my knees and confessed to Him that I am a sinner and asked Him to save me. Trusting completely in His redemption; He saved me. He Redeemed me. (Bought with a price – the precious shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.) Oh, what a gift He offered to me and to you!
“For the wages of sin is death; (separation from God) but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
So dear friends, this Christmas please look past the manger and see the Gift of God – to you! Receive it just as you would receive a gift from a loving father. It is a gift that you cannot lose and it cannot be taken away. It is yours forever!
You may have noticed the beautiful photography in my blogs. Especially the Little Isabel stories. They were taken by my dear lifelong friend, Kathie. If you are looking for an excellent photographer for Christmas, New Years, Birthdays, Weddings, Special Occasions or even pets, Kathie is your gal. Check out her site!
Eugene sat in the front of the sleigh beside Mama to make room for Sally Anne.
“Is everyone nice and warm back there?” Mama turned and smiled as Isabel and Maggie held up their fur muffs, feeling the softness against their cheek. “Tuck in those blankets, Curtis. It’s beginning to snow again.”
It wasn’t long until the horses stopped in front of the first house. Everyone bounced out of the sleigh, singing Jingle Bells before reaching the house.
“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the Little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head…” Mama pushed Maggie forward as the neighbor opened the door. Soon the entire household stood on the porch, joining the serenade. Maggie timidly offered a package containing cookies and was rewarded with a hug from the lady of the house.
“Oh, that was wonderful!” the woman said and motioned to the door. “Won’t you all come in for some hot cider?”
“Thank you, no,” Mama said with a smile. “We have several more stops to make.”
Each household was as friendly as the first. Isabel was beginning to get cold and buried her head in the soft furry muff to warm her frozen nose. Finally, there were only two packages in the sleigh. One contained a basket of food for an unfriendly neighbor who had been battling influenza.
“Now children, Mrs. Barker has been ill so I will take the basket to her door. She may not be up to our serenade tonight,” Mama said softly, “We will go back to Sally Anne’s home and pick up little Sylvia.”
“Papa, do we have to stop at widow Barker’s house?” Eugene asked as they turned and headed the back way to the Albright home, passing by a dark, unkempt small house.”
“Oh Eugene, I’m surprised at you!” Mama said softly. “Mrs. Barker has been ill. She needs this visit more than anyone – don’t you think?”
“But Mama, everybody knows she hates boys! She makes us walk on the other side of the street when she sees us going and coming home from school,” Eugene said.
“She’s not very nice!” Curtis agreed.
“It isn’t nice to speak unkindly of our neighbors, boys,” Papa said and coughed towards Mama. “They’re right.”
Mama stepped out of the sleigh and reached for the basket on the floor. “I will be right back,” she said and walked gingerly over the icy sidewalk and up one step to the small porch. The door opened slightly and Mama passed the basket to her through the door. “Hope you have a Merry Christmas, Mrs. Barker and I’m praying you will feel better soon.”
“Thank you, Miz Greene, and the same to you.” Without acknowledging the family in the sleigh, she quickly closed the door, leaving Mama to find her way over the ice back to the sleigh.
Papa helped Mama back into the safety of the sleigh and covered her with a fur rug. “Good thing that was the last house,” Papa said, “Feels like that snow is turning to sleet. Getting colder by the minute.
By the time they reached the Albright house, Isabel’s teeth were chattering. The three girls snuggled closer together under the thick blanket and started singing Away in the Manger.
“Look at that!” Sally Anne exclaimed as she pointed to the sky. “Do you think that’s the Bethlehem star?”
“Nah,” Eugene said with confidence. “That star is all the way in Bethlehem!”
Soon the laughing group pulled into the Albright drive. Mr. Albright met them with a bucket of oats for the horse.
“Go on inside for hot cocoa and cookies,” he said as he lifted the girls one at a time from the red sleigh.
Isabel picked up Sally Anne’s gift and quietly handed it to her friend.
“It’s not as nice as the muff but I helped Mama make it.” Sally Anne squealed as she tore away the brown paper to reveal a cloth doll with yarn hair. “Oh, I love her. Thank you, Isabel!”
By the time the children warmed by the kitchen stove with two cookies and a cup of hot chocolate, Isabel felt her eyes drooping. When she awakened, she was in her own yard and Papa was unhitching the horse.
“Alright children,” Mama said as she hung up coats on hooks in the screened- in- back porch. “you may place your gifts from your friends under the tree and then hurry up to bed.”
Excitement filled Isabel as she ran into the parlor, lit by the fire in the fireplace. There on the table holding the stable were three new carved items. A man, a woman, and a donkey.
“Look!” Curtis said, “It’s Mary, Joseph and the donkey she rode on to Bethlehem!”
Isabel slowly walked to the stable and traced the figures with her fingers. “Where did they come from? How did they get here?”
“The donkey brought them, silly!” Eugene said with a smile before mussing her hair.
“It’s bedtime children,” Mama said, “hang your sock on the mantle and then go on to bed. Morning will be here before you know it.”
“But Mama,” Maggie said with a tear in her eyes. “Baby Jesus isn’t here. The manger is empty! Did Mary and Joseph forget the baby?”
“No, dear. They are still waiting for the baby to be born.”
Every time Isabel entered the parlor, a new carved animal rested in or near the stable but she never saw Mama or Papa go into the parlor without the children.
“How did they get here?” Isabel asked Mama and Papa but their reply was the same.
“Must have come to see the Baby Jesus!”
After dinner dishes were washed and put away, each child donned their coats, hats, scarves, mittens and boots while Papa packed the sleigh.
“Did you remember to put on your woolens?”
“Yes, Mama but they’re so scratchy!” Isabel said as she scratched her arms and legs. When she struggled to scratch her back, Mama smiled. “Okay young lady, I’m convinced.”
“All aboard!” Papa said as he helped Mama into the front seat and handed her baby Sylvia. “Poor baby,” he said, “you have her so bundled, she can’t move a finger and probably can’t breathe with that piece of blanket flopped over her face!”
“She wouldn’t be able to breathe at all if I didn’t protect her face. That cold air will take her breath away – especially once we get started. It’s awfully breezy, you know. Besides, this is a very thin blanket with air holes since it is crochet.” Mama lifted the blanket long enough to place a kiss on the baby’s head, smiled at the child’s cooing.” Isabel followed Eugene into the second seat, followed by Maggie and then Curtis.
“Mama, make them scoot over so I will have room,” Curtis said as he gently pushed Maggie against Isabel who slid into Eugene who bumped his elbow against the sleigh. “Hey, watch what you’re doing!”
“I didn’t do it,” Isabel said as she looked past Maggie in Curtis’ direction. “He did it!” “That’s enough, children,” Mama said cheerfully. “Let’s see, what shall we sing on the way?”
“Why don’t we sing Jingle Bells?” Papa said as he handed Isabel a leather strap with jingle bells attached. “Try to keep time with the horses,” he said with a grin. “See? They’re wearing jingle bells!”
The entire family began to sing. “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way; oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.” The children finished three songs before they reached the Albright home.
“Oh boy,” Isabel exclaimed. “May I see Sally Anne?”
“Yes, you may. I wanted it to be a surprise but your friend is going with us. Mrs. Albright and Cookie have volunteered to take care of baby Sylvia while we are caroling.”
“Oh Boy!” Isabel stood up in anticipation and fell into Eugene’s lap.
“Hey, sit down silly goose!” Isabel jumped out of the sleigh, hitting a piece of ice, sliding face down into six-year-old Curtis who landed with a thump on the ground.
“Hey,” he said sternly, “watch where you’re going!”
Isabel looked down at the torn stockings and already felt the sting of skinned knees.
“Oh dear,” Mama said, “you must be careful. It’s awfully slippery out here. Are you alright?”
“I’m okay,” Curtis replied as he pointed to Isabel. “Looks like the silly goose skinned her knee.”
“Son, don’t call your sister silly or a goose. Now wipe the snow from your clothes and carefully stand at the foot of the steps so that we may sing at least one Christmas Carol for the Albrights before we go inside.” Isabel brushed away tears from her cold face and tried to sing Joy To The World with the rest of her family but her knee stung as well as her pride. Sally Anne was standing at the door when Isabel fell and cried out to her friend.
Papa picked up Isabel in his arms and led the family into the welcoming light of the Albright home. “Come in, come in,” Mrs. Albright said as she reached for baby Sylvia. “Oh, what a sweetie. Cookie and I have been looking forward to this all day, haven’t we Cookie?”
“We surely have,” Cookie confirmed and reached for Isabel. “Why don’t you come with me, child? Cookie will get you all fixed up!”
“Yes,” Mrs. Albright said, “Sally Anne has a pair of woolen stockings Isabel may have. She can’t go out into the cold with the torn ones.” And so Isabel followed the Albright’s cheerful cook into the kitchen to sit by the warm stove. When it was time to go, Isabel had a bandaged knee, new woolen stockings and a peppermint stick for being brave.
Three-year-old Maggie stood quietly behind Mama looking around the room and timidly receiving a gingerbread boy from Mrs. Albright. Sally Anne, dressed in her warmest clothes, a hooded cape, and a fur muff, stood by Isabel until Papa declared it was time to go. She jumped up and down with excitement and then ran to the Christmas tree. “May I please give Isabel and Maggie their gifts now, Mother?” With a nod of the head from her mother, Sally Anne reached for two beautiful hat boxes.
“This one is for you, Isabel,” she said as she handed her friend the largest package. “And this one is for you, Maggie,” she said with a smile. “You may open them when I say … Go!” Isabel looked at her little sister and they lifted the box tops together.
“It’s a muff! Just like Sally Anne’s! Look, mama, look!”
“It’s soft, Mama!” Maggie said as she ran her fingers over the soft fur.
“Oh Lillian,” Mama said with a catch in her voice. “You shouldn’t have!”
“We wanted to,” Mrs. Albright replied with a smile as she adjusted the muff around Maggie’s neck and showed her how to slip her hands inside. Maggie’s eyes grew enormous as a shy smile spread over her face. Isabel had hers on in record time.
“What do you say, girls?” Mama asked as she dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief.
“Thank you!” they said in unison.
“You’re quite welcome.”
“Mama,” Isabel pulled at her mother’s cape, “may I give Sally Anne her gift now?”
“Her gift is in the back of the sleigh so why don’t we wait until we come back to pick up baby Sylvia?”
“Yes, ma’am.” It was then Isabel noticed her two brothers wearing leather gloves instead of their knitted mittens. They were also eating gingerbread men, jamming them in their mouth as they turned toward the door.
“This is going to be so much fun,” Sally Anne said as she linked arms with Isabel. “This is the best night – ever!”
Isabel awoke the following morning to the sound of clinking in the kitchen. She sat up, rubbed her eyes and looked around the room. Frosted window panes pelted with sleet diminished the sleep in her eyes. Isabel jumped on her bed, singing. “It’s Christmas Eve and it’s snowing. Get up Maggie, get up and see!” Maggie jumped out of bed and ran to the window just as Mama opened their bedroom door. “Well, it looks like our little ladies are already awake,” Mama said with a smile. “Get dressed quickly girls, breakfast is almost ready.” “Snow, Mama, snow!” Maggie exclaimed. “Yes, it is really snowing and sleeting too. That means it is very cold and slippery outside. We need to hurry before Papa and the boys come in from doing chores. They must be chilled to the bone!” Mama had both girls dressed and beds made in record time. Isabel and Maggie hopped down the steps and skipped toward the kitchen. As they passed the parlor, Isabel stopped. “Look!” She shouted and pointed to the tree before running into the room to investigate. The stable had been placed on a table in front of the tree and one lonely wooden lamb stood in front of it. “Where did that come from?” “Oh, a lamb!” Maggie said as she gently stroked the small white figure. “It must have walked here from Bethlehem,” Mama said with a smile. “It wasn’t here last night!” They entered the kitchen just as Papa, Eugene and Curtis entered the back door – stomping snow off their boots. “Papa, Papa!” the girls cried in unison. “Come and see what Jesus sent us!” “Hold on there, gals and let me get out of these boots and wet coat and then you can tell me all about it.” Isabel and Maggie waited patiently until Papa put on his slippers and hung up his coat before dragging him into the parlor. “Well, I’ll be! How did that get in here?” Papa said with a grin. “Guess it came early to see the Baby Jesus! Let’s go back into the warm kitchen before our breakfast gets cold.” Papa walked with the girls into the kitchen, over to the stove to warm his hands before helping Mama carry dishes of eggs, pancakes, bacon and a large dish of grits to the table. “If the weather gets any worse I’m afraid we won’t be able to go Christmas caroling tonight after all,” Papa said as helped Mama clear the table after breakfast. “Oh dear,” Mama exclaimed as she pointed to the stack of packages and baskets on the work table. “We have all of these cookies, cakes and bread to deliver tonight. If we wait until tomorrow, I’m afraid it will be too stale.” “We’ll see,” Papa said as he closely looked at the packages and picked up a basket. “Who’s this one for?” “That one is for the Widow Barker. I heard she has been sick so I wanted to make sure she has plenty to eat.” “Don’t know why you want to give her anything but a good tongue lashing – the way she does to every boy in the county,” Papa said as he rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “That’s why we need to remember her, Papa.” Mama placed a jar of chicken soup into the basket along with a loaf of bread, jam and a bundle of cookies. “Jesus said to do good to people who are unkind to us. Perhaps she will realize that Jesus loves her too and will have joy in her heart.” “We’ll see,” Papa said. By lunchtime, sleet had turned to light, fluffy snow. “Looks like it will be a good night for a ride in the sleigh to deliver gifts and to go caroling after all,” Papa said with a smile. “The boys and I will get the old cutter ready.” “Girls, I want you both to take a nap today since we are going caroling tonight,” Mama said as she sat down in the rocker by the stove with baby Sylvia in her arms. Isabel wanted to protest but the look in Mama’s eyes stopped her. “Yes ma’am,” she said quietly. At that very moment, Maggie squealed. “Look! Look at the stable!” Isabel ran into the parlor and stopped in amazement. There were two more sheep and a cow in the stable. “It’s a miracle!”
The squeak of the back porch door and the sound of Papa and her two older brothers prompted Isabel to investigate. “Isabel,” Mama scolded, “one of these days you are going to hurt yourself; jumping off the stool that way!” “Yes, Mama.” Isabel smiled and slowly backed to the door and then ran the length of the back porch to hold the screen door. Papa entered the back porch, stomped snow off his boots, and then made a show of wiping his feet on the braided rug before entering the kitchen door. “Temperature’s dropping awfully fast,” Papa said as he sauntered to the stove to warm his hands while Mama poured a cup of steaming coffee into a heavy mug and offered him a gingerbread cookie. “Here’s your tree, little princess,” Papa teased as he pointed to a tiny tree before stepping aside to reveal a large pine. “Oh, Papa it’s beautiful!” Isabel jumped and clapped her hands simultaneously. “That is a lovely tree!” Mama reached over Isabel to open the door wider. “Let’s move out of the way, dear so that Papa and the boys can bring that lovely tree inside.” Isabel skipped into the kitchen and moved her stool out of the way before running to Maggie. “It’s here, it’s here Maggie. Wake up!” Maggie sat up and rubbed her eyes. “The Christmas tree?” “Yes!” Isabel sang, “The Christmas tree and we get to help decorate it!” Both girls danced around the kitchen as Papa carefully carried the tree into the front parlor and placed it gently into the corner where it could be seen from the kitchen and through the windows. “Now girls, don’t get too excited. We need to prepare supper and clean up the kitchen first. Besides, we haven’t finished stringing popcorn. We will work on that tonight and add a few of the decorations. Tomorrow we will wrap up cookies to give to our neighbors when we go Christmas caroling. How does that sound?” “Fun!” Isabel and Maggie sang in unison.
After the dishes were done, the popcorn strung and handmade ornaments hung on the tree, Mama picked up the family Bible and the children gathered around her.
“Did you know that the people of Israel waited for the birth of Jesus – the “Messiah” for a very long time?” “As long as we waited for baby Sylvie to come?” Maggie asked softly. “Yes,” Mama said as she reached down and touched the child’s cheek. “They waited many years. “That’s a long time!” Isabel exclaimed, walked closer to Mama and sat cross-legged on the floor. “Almost since the beginning of time – since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden.” “Did Abraham wait for Jesus to come?” Eugene asked as he folded a piece of paper to cut into the shape of a snowflake.” “Yes, Abraham believed! God even showed Abraham that He what salvation is all about; He showed us what salvation is by promising Abraham a son and then as precious Isaac began to grow and learn how to be a man for God, he was used as an example of sacrifice.” “God asked Abraham to take Isaac to the mountain, didn’t he Mama? Eugene said as he laid his craft aside and leaned on his elbows as Mama flipped the pages of the Bible to Genesis. Papa turned from adding water to the bucket holding the tree, rubbed his chin and joined the conversation. “Abraham was a very old man when little Isaac was born, you know.” “Older than you, Papa?” Curtis asked innocently. “Oh, I guess Abraham was about fifty or sixty years older than me.” “He was old!” “Yep, he and Sarah both were much too old to have a child. That is part of the miracle – right Mama?” Papa tossed the question back at Mama who had found her place in Scripture. “That’s right,” Mama smiled at Papa and then looked at the children. “Sarah was much older than me so don’t need to ask. She was even older than Gammy Isabella and Grandma Sarah Elizabeth too. Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born and Sarah wasn’t much younger.” The children quieted as Mama pulled the lamp closer to her chair and lifted the Bible. “Genesis chapter 21 tells us about the birth of Isaac. It also tells about what happens when people try to take matters into their own hands to make things happen instead of waiting for God to answer but we will discuss that another time. Tonight, we are talking about the very long wait Abraham and Sarah had to wait for the son God had promised to them. Oh, they were so happy to hold that sweet baby in their arms! Every day he grew bigger and stronger making their parents proud to be chosen by God for such a blessing! They laughed as he smiled in his sleep, watched him try to fit his tiny fist in his mouth – just like you did when you were babies.
He became his Papa’s helper when he learned to walk and then run.” “Did they have sheep to sheer?” Eugene asked excitedly. “Oh, yes. Abraham had many fine animals and many workers helping him but I am sure he taught Isaac all about the animals.” Mama smiled and continued with the story. “One day, God spoke to Abraham and asked him to do something very hard. Something Abraham could never imagine doing but he trusted God. “What did he ask Abraham to do, Mama?” Mama began to read. “God said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. So Abraham arose early in the morning and saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son, and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship and we will come back to you.’ So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took the fire in his hand and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look to the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide Himself the lamb for the burnt offering.” Mama hesitated and then looked at Papa and then at the children. “Abraham obeyed God and made the altar just as he was supposed to. He put the wood on the altar and then he lifted up his son, Isaac and laid him on the altar where he would normally put a perfect lamb.” “But why, Mama?” Eugene stood and looked over her shoulder to see the Word of God. “Because God asked him too,” Mama said softly. You see, before Jesus was born, a perfect lamb or a ram had to be sacrificed to cover their sin. It was an act of faith to show that they believed God would forgive them – to lay the blame for their sin – and remember anything that displeases God is sin – on the sacrificial lamb.” “They kill the fluffy lamb like Papa has to shoot animals for food?” Isabel felt a tear run down her cheek as she remembered seeing Papa bringing home a deer and a turkey earlier in the week. “Something like that dear,” Mama said softly, “however, this was an offering to God and not for dinner. The animal used for the sacrifice was very special.” “So what happened to Isaac?” Curtis asked impatiently. Mama scooted closer to the lamp and continued reading. “Lets see now, where did we leave off? Oh, verse ten.” “And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of The LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place The-LORD-Will-Provide.” “Phew!” Eugene exclaimed, “I thought he was going to kill Isaac!” Mama nodded in agreement and looked at Papa before continuing with tears in her eyes. “The Angel of the LORD spoke to Abraham a second time and told him: ‘By Myself I have sworn, said the LORD because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son- blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed (children) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed My voice.” “Abraham and his son, Isaac went home,” Mama said softly as she pulled out a hankie, blew her nose and placed the hankie in her apron pocket. “In the New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter eleven, it said that because Abraham believed God, it was counted to him for righteousness. It also says that because Abraham obeyed God and offered up his only begotten son believing that God would raise him up from the dead. Boys, what was the Bible verse you learned in Sunday School class last week?” Eugene and Curtis stood up and began to quote together: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3: 16 “Thank you, boys,” Mama said as she closed the Bible. You see, God gave us a picture of what He planned to do for you and for me. He planned to send His only begotten Son – Jesus to be our sacrifice so that by believing in Him, we will have everlasting life with Him in Heaven. Abraham was just a man. Isaac was just a boy but Jesus is God’s perfect, sinless Son. He is God in the flesh. He is called Immanuel which means ‘God with us.’ We are human and sin. Some boys may have struggled to get away but Isaac trusted his father. Perhaps Isaac also trusted God to save him – and he did. He provided a ram. Jesus is our ‘ram’ isn’t He?” “Let’s see now,” Papa said slowly. God promised a son – Isaac to Abraham and Sarah but they had to wait many years before Isaac was born. Abraham’s seed or descendants had to wait hundreds or even thousands of years for Jesus to be born – right Mama?” “That’s right, Papa. The book of Matthew starts out with the people who were born and died before Jesus was born and it is a very long list! King David is on that list too, Mama said. The Bible is filled with mention of Jesus or the Messiah all through the Bible – from beginning to the end. Last week, the preacher said that it is as if there is a red ribbon all the way through the Bible and that red ribbon is Jesus. Remember when God created everything and then he created man? He said, ‘Let us make man in our image.’ Jesus is God the Son. It is hard to understand but God The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are ‘three in one.’ We won’t truly understand it until we are in Heaven.” “But it’s Christmas,” Curtis said, “why are we talking about Abraham and Isaac?” “We wanted you, children, to understand how important Christmas is. It isn’t about the tree or the pretty decorations you made for it and it isn’t even about filled stockings.” Mama said as she leaned over and rocked baby Sylvia’s cradle. It is about the long-awaited, special, miraculous baby who was born in a stable like sheep to be the Savior of the world. Did you notice that God kept calling Isaac ‘your only son or your only begotten son?’ Jesus is God’s only begotten son. Isaac’s birth was a miracle because Abraham and Sarah’s age. Jesus’ birth was a miracle because He did not have an earthly father. God is His father. Jesus was born of a young woman who was pure. A virgin – but we will talk about that when you are older. Abraham and Isaac had to travel to the place that God would show them. Mary and Joseph, the man God chose for Mary to marry so that he would be a good fill-in father for Jesus, had to travel to Bethlehem. They later had to travel to Egypt because of the wicked King who wanted to harm Jesus. Jesus traveled in His ministry and then, he had to walk up the hill called Calvary to become the sacrifice for our sin. After He gave His life for us, His disciples, his family and followers waited three long days when Jesus arose from the dead! So you see, waiting so long for Jesus to come is very much a part of the Christmas story. Sometimes, we forget that because we focus on gifts and trees.” Mama said with a smile and nodded to Papa who stood and left the room. Papa returned to the room with a large bundle and walked slowly to the tree. “What’s that?” “Is it a gift?” “Who’s it for?” Everyone seemed to speak at once while watching Papa struggle with the bundle in his arms. “Mama,” Papa said with a chuckle. “Guess you had better help me with this before I drop it!” Mama rushed over and removed the gunny sack to reveal a wooden structure.
“Oh,” Isabel exclaimed, “is it a dollhouse?” “Of course not, silly!” Eugene said with confidence. “It’s a stable!” “That’s right, Eugene.” Mama smiled as she helped Papa lower the structure and placed it carefully under the tree. Next, he dug into the bag and pulled out some hay to lie on the floor of the stable. Next, he pulled out a box on legs and filled it with hay. “What’s that?” Little Maggie asked and reached out to touch it gently. “It’s a manger!” Curtis said. “You know – the bed for baby Jesus but it’s really a food box for the animals. Right, Papa?” “That’s right, son,” Papa said as he stood and placed an arm around Mama. “Why don’t we sing just one Christmas carol before we turn in for the night? I’m afraid the chickens have beat us to bed tonight! Mama picked up her squeeze box and played Joy to the World as the children and Papa sang along. Isabel looked once more at the stable with the empty manger. “Papa, what about Baby Jesus? Doesn’t he sleep in the manger?” “Well little Princess,” Papa said softly, “we have to wait.”
Our first Christmas tree as a “family”. Mom and “Dad Hinchee” were married in April 1964. I moved from my grandparents home and into our new apartment when school started. A new home, a new school, and a new name. I morphed from Kathy Smith to Kathy Hinchee. It took a while for us to feel like a family. It must have been around Christmas time. Jerry (Dad Hinchee) cut two scotch pine trees and wired them together to make our very first Christmas tree – just as two “families” became one.
The Lord impressed upon my heart about 35 years ago that a Christmas tree could be more than just something to look pretty. In the middle of the night, I awoke and grabbed my Bible, paper, and pen and have been sharing the Christmas Tree Gospel ever since.
I’m sure you have heard this before and have used the tree and lights to lead others to Christ. For this reason, I choose to exclude the jolly old elf and instead, focus on the King of King and Lord of Lords. His birth and His love for – you!
(This is a re-blog from last year. Since I have been posting about Christmas trees and cats, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to once more share the Gospel with the Christmas tree.)
Have you ever considered using your Christmas tree as a witnessing tool? I used to love using a small Christmas tree to present the Gospel to children.
First, we discussed the evergreen tree which reminds us of eternal life. It is evergreen with sap running through it (before it is cut down)
The shape of the tree points to God.
Of course, the tree must be in a stand to remain upright, as we need The Lord Jesus as our firm foundation.
The Next thing I would do (especially in Awana at night) is to have someone turn out the lights so that the room would be dark – just as the darkness of sin. The world was in darkness until the Savior came. I would then turn on the tree lights. White lights because they shine brighter then red, blue, green or even yellow lights.
The lights on the tree remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
The lights also remind us that we are to let Him shine through us ”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
The lights also remind me that there will be no need of sun or moon in Heaven; for Jesus is the light. “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” (Revelation 21:23)
Gold decorations & tinsel remind me of the streets of gold in Heaven. (Rev. 21:21)
Red decorations remind us that Jesus was born to die. He shed His blood that we may be saved. He paid the penalty for my sin. (John 3:16)
White on the tree reminds me that he washed me white as snow.
The star reminds us of the Bethlehem star which signified the birth of the King of Kings and was a guide for the wise men to follow that they may find Him, and worship Him.
Angels remind us of the Heavenly Host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth peace, goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2)
(In the Bible, Angels appear as men. They are not portrayed as beautiful women in slinky or fancy dresses with wings and a halo. They are messengers of God. They came to announce His birth and to Worship Him! We are to worship Him and not the angels.)
Ice-cycles hung on the tree reflect the light – just as we are to let The Light of the world reflect through us. When I was a child, the Ice-cycles were silver tinsel-cut into long strands. Granddaddy always insisted on hanging them on the tree one by one so that they would hang perfectly. (I must admit to giving into the urge to take a hand full and fling them on the tree and allowed them to fall where they may. They often landed on the floor!) Today I use crystal or clear plastic. When the light shines on the crystal ones, we can almost see a rainbow reflected on the wall!
The tree skirt reminds me that He has clothed me with HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The gifts under the tree remind me of the greatest gift of all. Salvation wrapped in love. The perfect gift from God – His only begotten Son; the lamb of God who was born to die for us. Our virgin-born Savior, wrapped in swaddling clothes was the best gift ever given!
When doing the Christmas Tree Gospel presentation, sometimes I gave each child a card with a verse to read as we came to the appropriate moment/decoration. Of course, each was given the gift of a candy cane to take as a reminder of God’s wonderful gift to us.
Please excuse the family pictures as I haven’t decorated our tree yet this year and didn’t have a suitable photo of a Christmas tree to use. I would love to hear how you share the Gospel at Christmas. Please feel free to give us your stories in the comment section. Have a blessed Christmas season this year!
Before television, there was the radio. Before the radio there were books. Before there were books, there was the spoken word. Before then, God spoke the world into existence. For thousands of years, families gathered around the fire and shared family stories, legends and The Word of God. Storytelling was an art and it still is today.
I don’t know about you, but I have always loved listening to stories.
Whether it was my grandmother, Isabel talking about her childhood, Mom’s family stories or listening to stories on the radio.
I grew up listening to a Gospel Music channel who broadcasted Pastor’s messages on air and on Saturday. Back to the Bible radio show aired a show just for the youth of the 1960’s and 70’s on Saturdays with Danny Orlis stories. Check out this link: Danny Orlis HistoryThey also had a magazine called Young Ambassador. A friend of our family who discipled us when we first received Christ as our Savior in 1968 sent me a subscription to Young Ambassadors every year. I loved it! Back to the Bible’s Young Ambassador
Then there was Your Story Hour! I listened to this even as an adult. Our local radio station doesn’t run the Saturday morning line-up of “children’s programming” (I’m a child at heart.) The good news is that you can visit their website and listen to stories at your convenience. This is their link. Your Story Hour.
And then the wonderful Children’s Bible Hour with Uncle Charlie. I don’t know about you, but every time I hear the theme song, I want to say, “Hi, Uncle Charlie!” Along with the children. This was their opening for many years. Keys for Kids is also online now. Keys for Kids with Uncle Charlie
Who can forget the wonderful songs and stories by Ron Hamilton/Majesty Music as Patch the Pirate? Ron Hamilton has been a blessing to me since I first met him and his wife at a teacher’s conference over thirty years ago. For years, they produced cassette tapes, CDs and now the wonder Patch the Pirate series is online. Check it out – including Ron’s testimony. Many may not know that Ron and his family need our prayer now as he is having serious medical problems. What a wonderful legacy he is leaving behind for children today and for years to come! Patch the Pirate – Ron Hamilton
Last but not least has been one of my favorites for years. I loved listening to Adventures in Oddessey by Focus on the Family while preparing dinner each weekday. It has been online as podcasts for years. I still love listening to this program. Especially when the story is about history! Visit John Avery Whittaker at Wits End! Adventures in Oddessey
There are at least two websites you can go to for a variety of children’s programming and for adults as well. one is on the Christian Radio Station, BBN. BBN Radio Programming
Whenever I think of “story time” I envision the multitudes following Jesus, gathering around and drinking in every word. The disciples considered the children who wanted to be with Jesus, to be blessed by Him, as a nuisance but Jesus rebuked them.
“Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them and departed thence.” Matthew 19:13-15
Research Tip for Writers:
There are also several secular sites where you can listen to the old radio shows our grandparents and great-grandparents listened to back in the good old days! Old Time Radio Shows. This is a great site for historical writers!
This site is devoted to the aesthetic appreciation of abandoned and decaying old homes and other buildings and such, and is the official companion web site to the wildly popular Abandoned in Virginia page on Facebook.