Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Psalm 111:2 (NIV)
The Parsons clan wishing you a Happy New Year!
Fresh Market 2015
"It is not unusual to see a baby become a king but only once have we seen a King become a Baby" proclaimed my pastor. That got me to thinking. This King not only became a baby but He decided to be born in an animal stall and not in a 16,000 sq ft "not so great" Steven Furtick type of mansion. This Baby King decided to have His birth proclaimed to a bunch of shepherds as opposed to the religious, political and business leaders of that day.
This was the King who preferred the company of fishermen, prostitutes, lepers, and kids to that of the well connected upper echelon. This was also a King who was abused by the compromising religious authorities of his day. This is a King who decided to live among the suffering and to suffer Himself. This is a King who preferred to shower His love on the lost, the let down and the disenfranchised. This is a King who is close to those who are hurting.
Dealing with illness in my family
This has been a hard Christmas for us. My stepfather, Lou became acutely confused and was admitted to the hospital with a bad urinary tract infection 4 days before Christmas. He is now staying in a skilled facility to regain his strength.
The day before this happened, my mother in law arrived from Cape Cod with a diagnosis of metastatic lung, liver and brain cancer. We helped her get a second opinion at Duke. Her prognosis is poor since the tumors are growing rapidly. However, she has decided to proceed with a very difficult chemotherapy regimen which will cause her to become quite sick. We have offered to care for her during this time and I will be going to Cape Cod next week to gather her clothes and pug dog (yes, another rescued pug dog named Samantha will be residing with the Parsons!) We will be moving her into our home for the next few months (or longer).
My own mother is quite handicapped and will be having injections into her back this coming week to see if it will control her pain. I am having to help her to do shopping, etc. We have also begun the process of building a handicapped master suited onto our house in the first floor to move my own mom and Lou into our home so I can also care for them.
None of this is a surprise to me. I had long ago committed to caring for my elderly family members. However, I did not expect it to happen all at once.
A Christmas kindness from a fellow Christian
Two days before Christmas, I was determined to put on my traditional dinner since I enjoy the ruckus of our family at my house. (This year we had six dogs running around as well!) I was in Fresh Market to buy their wonderful rolls and cranberry relish when my heart sank. I had forgotten to buy Christmas gifts for my daughter and son in law's two foster children. These poor children had been through a horrific experience and I had wanted to do something really nice for them. Near tears, I started piling chocolate Santas and candy bracelets into my cart.
A friendly gentleman standing near me remarked on all the candy that I was buying. I don't know what possessed me, but I blurted out that I had forgotten to buy presents for these two dear children in the midst of the illnesses within my family. He looked interested and then offered to donate a new Frozen (the movie) Electric Scooter to them since he had one extra. Not only that, he offered to wrap it and deliver it to my house.
For some reason, I felt comfortable giving him my address. He also shared with me his business card. He then gave me a hug and went on his way. About two hours later, he showed up at my house with the wrapped scooter and two awesome hand held games for the children. Somehow, I just knew he was a Christian. So, I asked him what church he went to. I was right.
I was in near tears the rest of the day. God had sent a Christian brother to help out an overwhelmed lady. I knew God was encouraging me. On Christmas day, those two children opened the gift and the youngest one said "I have been wishing for this!" She give me a hug and I told her about a kind man and his family that wanted her to have this scooter. My son in law and daughter were so grateful for the scooter which they said "made their Christmas."
Sometimes we focus so much on wanting the big miracles, we don't see the smaller ones. I hope this dear man knows that he was a Christmas miracle to both my family and two little girls. Thank you!
The following post I wrote in 2013. It is one of my personal favorites. In an old mountain bar, I discovered more about the love of Jesus.
In An Old Mountain Bar On Christmas Eve
"A Child wandered in on some bums where they hid." Old City Bar -Trans Siberian Orchestra
The words in quotes are from the song "In an Old City Bar" which is linked to at the bottom of the post. You may want to play it as you read.
True Confession: My favorite Christmas music is by the Trans Siberian Orchestra which will probably cause some out there to claim "Ah ha! I knew she was a heretic." I have seen them in person twice, one time with Deb. Oddly, I found myself in tears listening to one of their songs "In an Old City Bar." Usually, that means I need to think. And then I remembered…
It was our second year of marriage and we were living on the Navajo Indian Reservation. We were not going to be able to go home to the Boston area for Christmas. I was pretty sad since it would be the first Christmas away from my extended family. Christmas was a big deal at my house: food, games and presents. My father would wrap his presents to us, on purpose, in the worst possible way. Torn paper bags, string, ripped wrapping paper, glue and rubber bands. We would laugh so hard; he the loudest and longest of all. In fact, the presents we looked for the hardest were Dad's crazily wrapped presents.
I was pleased that we decided to spend Christmas in a little town called Ouray in Colorado. It would provide a distraction. Back then, Ouray was small, nestled in the mountains. Its fortunes have since changed and it is a now a bustling and trendy town. It was a fairly long drive from Gallup, New Mexico. We drove north past Shiprock and through the mountains surrounding Telluride. It was snowing quite heavily and we were forced to put on chains or the police would not let us into the dangerous passes. It was a bit scary.
When we arrived, the little town was deserted. We tried to check into our cabin but the people who ran it had gone away. They left a note with a key on the door of the cabin, along with some firewood, and said to slip the check under the front door of their house when we left. We were totally alone. In fact, we would never meet our hosts and have often remarked about their trust in their unknown guests.
We decided to try to find something to eat but everything was shut down except for a bar with a neon light that said "Open." In we tromped, cold and tired. This was not some trendy watering hole. It was a plain old bar. The bartender said he could rustle up a burger for us and down we plopped. I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I had survived a treacherous car drive and was now sitting in an old bar, damp and tired, sipping a mediocre glass of wine with a bunch of drunks who probably got tossed out by their families.
And he (the Child) asked did we know
That outside in the snow
That someone was lost
Outside our door
As I looked around, we realized that, of the dozen or so people in the bar, we were the only couple. Everyone else was alone. Faces were bent over their drinks. Most of them looked sad and tired. There were several mountain men, kind of Duck Dynastyesque, with long beards, flannel shirts and jeans.
The bartender turned
and said, not that I care
But how would you know this?
The child said I noticed
If one could be home,
they'd be already there
Then, a man stood up. He looked like a businessman, more well dressed than all of us. He sat down at the piano. I do not think this was expected because the bartender looked a little rattled. To our surprise, the man began to play Christmas carols and he played them well. As time passed, people began to sing along, including the guys whose faces had been hunched over their mugs of beer. As they sang, they started to look around. As we caught each others eyes, we nodded and smiled, just a little bit. Even the bartender was singing quietly along.
Oh, was I mad at myself! I realized that the people in the bar were lonely and sad while I was sitting around, feeling sorry for myself. I was judging them instead loving them. Jesus not only loved them; He understood them. He was born in a cave, amongst the animals, to a teenage mother who was far from her home when she should have had the comfort of her family as she labored. Instead, it was only Joseph who most likely was not adept in birthing babies since that was often left up to the women. Can you imagine the judgment of those who knew about this woman giving birth in a cave, of all places?
Back at the bar, we began to leave after we sang "Silent Night." The quiet sounds of "Merry Christmas" were heard. There were even a few pats on the back. The Child, 2,000 years later, still brought people together in very strange places.
The next morning, the sun came out and we drove up to a cross country ski area. The snow was too deep to easily ski. We were all alone, not another person could be seen or heard. It was so quiet that it almost hurt our ears. I thought about the quiet of a cave from which came an explosion that was louder than a nuclear bomb. It would forever change the landscape of this world. The drunk in the bar meant as much to this Child as the greatest of kings. In fact, I think He may feel even closer to them than to the privileged and arrogant.
So, as my kids grow up and leave home, I plan to find some places where people, outcast and alone, are spending Christmas eve. Do not be surprised to see a woman, with cute shoes, sipping a glass of mediocre wine, on Christmas eve in a run down bar. This time, however, she will have a have a sack with some presents to give to them. As she does, she plans to let them know that there is a Child who cares for them and knows what it is like to be in a strange place on Christmas eve.