Friday, November 29, 2019

Kick-off of Christmas Memory Sharing Posts!

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”  James 1:17 (KJV)

Now that Thanksgiving Day is over, I have a confession to make!
We have been so excited for Christmas at our house that we put up our tree on November 18th!
Thanksgiving Day seemed to come so late this year, and we just couldn't wait any longer!
During our 31 married Christmases, one of my favorite parts has always been turning off the lights at night and staring at the twinkling lights on our Christmas tree.  We still use the same, exact artificial tree we bought the first Christmas we were married, and it still looks brand new after all these years and the many times we have taken it out and put it back into its original box!
You can catch a glimpse of it in the photo below that Zach used to create the graphic to advertise our upcoming Christmas Memory Sharing posts!  Didn't he do a great job on this graphic?

We are super-excited to start sharing the beautiful Christmas memories from so many of you amazing friends and readers!  After publishing this post, the emails started coming in, and oh, my!  They are each one just wonderful and so very heartwarming.  If you aren't already in the Christmas spirit, reading them will soon get you that way!!

There's still plenty of time and space to share YOUR story with us!  Please refer to this post for instructions.  The more the merrier.  Someone needs to hear YOUR story!

To kick off the Christmas Memory Sharing, today I am re-posting a story I wrote about during the first Christmas season after starting Homespun Devotions.  It is a true story from my very own childhood, and I hope you enjoy reading it!  Stay tuned because you do not want to miss the other writers' heartfelt stories we will be sharing here over the days leading up to the day we celebrate Jesus' birth!! 

Story first published on Homespun Devotions on 12/16/2011

I don’t remember the exact year, but I was somewhere around five years old.  Dad’s work had been unsteady, and we were struggling financially.  Christmas was coming, and no one in our household had any idea how we would buy gifts.  We had pretty much decided there wouldn’t be much of a Christmas—at least not in the way of giving and receiving gifts.  But then one day, it all changed.

Dad used to describe himself as a “jack-of-all-trades, yet master of none.”  He had a little bit of knowledge in the area of plumbing, electrical, car mechanics, all types of maintenance, and a host of other things.  He was the best improviser I have ever known.  He could take almost anything that was broken and rig up some way to fix it.  If he didn’t have the right parts, he would create them out of the most unlikely objects.  Dad could do a lot of things, but one of his most enjoyable “skills” involved trash-picking.

Yes, you read it right—Dad loved to go through trash.  He loved to see if there was anything salvageable that he could reinvent, re-use, or recycle into something useful.  He could very easily have been the man who coined the phrase, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  He worked for a while for the sanitation department and rode on the back of a garbage truck.  Dad was a very humble man, so positions that other people would find degrading didn’t affect him or make him feel degraded in the least.  He wasn’t one for caring what other people thought of or said about him, and he didn’t have an ounce of foolish pride in him.  He just accepted things as they were, and he made the best of the hand he had been dealt.

He loved his work with the sanitation department, obviously not because of the horrible smells he had to endure while riding on the back of the truck waiting for the driver to stop so he could empty people’s trash cans, but for the “goodies” he would find from time to time.  I remember one particular day when he came home with a beautiful crocheted afghan that someone had carelessly tossed on the top of their trash.  Mom washed it thoroughly, and my family used it for years.  I still remember its vibrant color scheme and how pretty it looked on the back of our couch.

Dad had a very dear friend named Jimmy, and he would sometimes enlist Jimmy in his trash-picking endeavors.  Dad was a husky, strong man, and Jimmy was considerably thinner and more limber.  Now, you can choose to believe the following story or not, but I can assure it is absolutely the honest truth.  During Dad and Jimmy’s trash-picking escapades, Jimmy would climb up on Dad’s shoulders, Dad would stand outside of garbage dumpsters, and Jimmy would dive in.  This was way before the term “dumpster-divers” was invented.  Who knows?  Maybe someone observed their method and came up with that term! 

Jimmy’s family was struggling, too, and at the time, he and his wife, Dorothy had two little boys—  Jimmy, who was about a year older than me, and David, who was the same age as me.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, so right before the above-mentioned Christmas, Dad and Jimmy decided to go out trash-picking.  In their search, they came across a toy store and stumbled upon a dumpster goldmine in the back of the store!  Now that I am grown and know how much it means to Kevin and me to see the thrill in Zachary’s eyes at Christmas, I can only imagine how Dad and Jimmy felt when they discovered what was in that dumpster!  It must have felt like the ultimate trash-picking treasure chest!

Once again, Jimmy climbed on Dad’s back, while Dad stood outside the dumpster.  Toy after toy after toy came to the surface, as Jimmy searched through the rubbish.  All of them had some slight defect, just enough to make them “unsellable,” but they were brand-new in their original boxes!  They brought the toys home, and what a Christmas we had!  I will never forget the thrill in my heart, when my Daddy handed me a beautiful Snow White doll that talked when you pulled her string!  Even though she had a minor imperfection and stuttered a bit, it never made any difference to me.  For years, I loved and cherished her, and she and I spent many happy hours together.  Little Jimmy and David felt the same about their toys, and Christmas was extra special for all of us that year.

I look back on that Christmas as one of the happiest of my childhood.  It didn’t matter to any of us where our toys came from—we were just so grateful to have toys.  To us they were good and perfect gifts, and our hearts were filled with thanks to God for making it possible for us to have them.  

After all, every good and perfect gift comes straight from Him, no matter where we find it. 
Written by Cheryl Smith

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Proclamation by George Washington

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
I Corinthians 15:57 (KJV)

Today as I read the Thanksgiving Day proclamation made by President George Washington in 1789, my heart was saddened to think about how very far we, as a nation, have strayed from God and the vision of our founding fathers.  I am SO grateful to God for allowing our great country to be founded upon the the Word of God and by men who believed in Him and trusted in Him for guidance and wisdom, and it burdens my heart to see the disdain so many have for Him now. 

The United States of America absolutely was founded as a Christian nation, and no matter how much people try to rewrite history, the past can never be altered. 

I heard there are those who even want to change the name from Thanksgiving Day to some other title.  It seems to go against the cultural tide to even acknowledge that there is a God, let alone to show gratitude to Him and thank Him for all He has done.  No matter who turns their back on Him, He will always be God, and He will always be so worthy of our praise and gratitude.  How I praise Him today for the many blessings He has bestowed and continues to pour into my life! 

I hope each one of you have an abundantly blessed Thanksgiving Day, and I trust you will enjoy being reminded of how our very first President set aside and designated this special day as a day to praise our awesome Creator!

"By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation."

"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor ­­­– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be ­­­– That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks ­­­– for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation ­­­– for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war ­­­– for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed ­­­– for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted ­­­– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions ­­­– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually ­­­– to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed ­­­– to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord ­­­– To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us ­­­– and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789."