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Have you sought for the perfect gifts this year? During December, I have been seeking something that I had needed. Thankfully, I found it. I have found joy daily throughout December. It came in many forms: songs, the Book of Luke in the Bible, family, friends, in a miracle and in God’s provision for my mother and my family.

I began December by making a choice to read a chapter of Luke each day leading up to Christmas. I knew that my mother had read Luke daily during previous Decembers and that my friend, Christine Trimpe, had written a new book based on the book of Luke. I decided that I would read a chapter a day each morning in Luke which has poured joy into me. I’ve noticed words and phrases from stories in Luke that I had read all of my life but they spoke to a place in me which needed joy in 2021.

In honor of the 24 days that led up to Christmas, I have compiled the many ways that God allowed me to be filled with joy during December 2021.

  1. Seeing “Christmas With the Chosen: The Messengers” at the Regal Theater on Dec.1 set the Christmas season in motion.
  2. Seeing in the “Christmas With the Chosen: The Messengers” episode that the cloths which Baby Jesus was wrapped in could have been special cloths that were used to wrap the unblemished lambs that would have been offered as a sacrifice in the temple for the sins of people. Jesus would become the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world by laying down his life as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross 33 years after his earthly birth.
  3. Seeing how Mary’s Song in Luke 1:46 – 56 was shared in “Christmas With the Chosen: The Messengers” gave me great joy. She began with these words: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,…”. It reminded me to praise God and rejoice in the gift of Jesus to the world.
  4. Phil Wickham was a special musical guest of “Christmas With The Chosen: The Messengers”. In his song, “Angels We Have Heard on High”, the chorus proclaims this: “Gloria, Gloria, In excelsis Deo!” The way I heard him sing it and play it on piano gave me a posture of praise. Many mornings during December, I awoke with the words “Gloria…” in my head which began my days with a focus on praising Jesus. The Bonner Family’s version of “How Great Thou Art” ministered to me greatly during “The Christmas With the Chosen: The Messengers” special event. I have really enjoyed The Bonner Family’s Christmas album as I have baked and been in my kitchen! Finally, King and Country shared their incredible version of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” on “The Christmas With The Chosen: The Messengers” special and it brought so much excitement and joy to my heart. I want to tell everyone about the joy that Jesus has brought to me. Here is a link to the Christmas With The Chosen Playlist on Spotify.
  5. These lines from the song meant so much: “Come adore on bended knee. Christ the Lord our new born king.” Later in December, my mother would become unable to lift her leg or move her toes due to a stroke that occurred on December 13. By December 15, God had restored the ability to bend and lift the left leg and move her toes again! Hallelujah to Jesus for this miracle!
  6. In Luke, I noticed that one of the healed people who had leprosy, returned and found Jesus so that he could thank and praise Jesus. Jesus told him that his faith had made him well. After I had witnessed a miracle and saw with my own eyes that my mother could lift her leg and wiggle her toes, I wanted to share this good news that brought great joy to us. I testified of this miracle to my friends and family.
  7. In Luke 7:9, Jesus spoke of the great faith of the centurion who wanted Jesus to heal the centurion’s servant. I continued noticing the words about “your faith” when Jesus would heal people in Luke’s account in the Bible. This emphasis on faith suddenly connected to my attempt to memorize the faith hall of fame chapter in Hebrews during the summer of 2021. I felt God calling me to examine more fully what it means to have faith. It was my faith that held me together when the news of my mother’s stroke was shared. My family and friends stood in faith to pray for my mother. It will be my faith that will lead me on into 2022. FAITH is my Word for 2022!
  8. Upon hearing that my mother had been transported by ambulance to the hospital on Dec.13, the Lord kept me in peace. The shield of faith truly protected me from losing my peace. I knew that she had experienced a terrible headache and was having some issues with walking so she had used my father’s walker on Dec.13. She had fallen the day before and was going to the orthopedic doctor to have her wrist examined at 2:00. We would realize later that a stroke must have happened around 1:30 causing her to not be able to lift her head from the kitchen bar where she was sitting. I am grateful that my father called neighbors who helped to hold my mother in place until the ambulance arrived.
  9. I was filled with joy on Dec.14 that my mother called at 12:25 p.m. as my last morning class was leaving and my lunch was beginning. I had time to listen to the doctor who was in her Emergency Room room with the results of the MRI which had been done at midnight on Dec.13. It had shown a stroke. Even in hearing this news, the Holy Spirit held me together so I could ask questions and determine what would happen next to my mother. I shared the news with some friends who began problem solving as to what they could do to support me.
  10. Within the next 25 minutes at school on Dec.14, a teacher friend, Michelle, arrived at my door with her class. I told her what had happened to my mother. She immediately reached to hug me. This hug was also God’s way to show his loving arms were around me, my mother and my father. He would hold us and take care of us during this unexpected journey at the hospital in the days to come.
  11. After I began my class, three teacher assistants arrived to cover my class so that I could call my mother back and eat some lunch. When I called back at 1:15, a neurologist, had walked into my mother’s room and I got to hear his words, ask questions and feel that I had an even better understanding of my mother’s plan of care. God worked it out for me to talk to two doctors within an hour. As a teacher, you can’t just talk on the phone any time you want so I was overjoyed that the Holy Spirit had orchestrated the timing of the first call at 12:25 and at 1:15 so that I could understand what was going to happen at the hospital.
  12. At midnight on Dec.14, my mother was transported to the third floor of the hospital and admitted. She had been in the Emergency Room for two days. I had driven two hours from my home to my parents’ home on the night of Dec.14. Due to Covid visiting restrictions, there could be only ONE visitor per day to see my mother. I was so thankful that I could be her visitor on Dec.15 and 16. I stayed all day until I had to leave at 8:00 p.m. This time with my mother allowed me to talk in person with her doctors and decision makers. On Thursday, Dec.15, the medical staff decided that she would need therapy in Rehab at the hospital on the 4th floor but we did not know when she would be moved there. We waited to hear that she would be moved at just the right time. I kissed her goodbye and told her I’d see her again in two days. I drove back home with full assurance of the Holy Spirit with me in my car. The Christmas songs that played on the radio provided great joy and comfort.
  13. I had a previously scheduled heart doctor appointment on Dec.16 in the afternoon for myself. My husband joined me at the appointment and the doctor told me that I would be a candidate for an ablation to correct an electrical issue in my heart which had begun during June of 2021 and persisted. It was great to hear that something could be done to correct the issue so it was scheduled for 2022.
  14. During my lunch on Friday, Dec.17, the case manager for the Rehab department called me saying that my mother would be moved to Rehab on Saturday, Dec.18! Again, God’s timing allowed me to focus on her message at a time that did not interfere with my teaching. It was my last day of school for 2021 and Winter Break would begin so that I would have time to visit and encourage my mother and father.
  15. My children and I shopped for Christmas decorations after school for me to take to my mother’s Rehab room. We had been told that she would be in Rehab for two to three weeks by the case manager so I wanted her room to be cheerful and celebratory of the birth of Jesus. I loaded the car with two bags of Christmas cheer and couldn’t hardly wait to get to my mother on Saturday.
  16. I drove to Greensboro on Saturday, Dec.18, to arrive just in time to help move my mother to the fourth floor into her Rehab room! I decorated it with a small Christmas tree, a gingerbread house, a plant with red flowers, a flannel tiny tree with the words “JOY” on it, two little plush elves, candy and a wooden Advent tree with 24 little drawers built into the tree. I had found this Advent tree at a special discount of $4 and it was wrapped in plastic to keep the drawers from falling out. I knew it would be a way for my mother to see that we are still counting down to Christmas and focus on reading a new chapter of Luke each day prior to Christmas.
  17. Every staff member who arrived in her room noticed the joy in the decorations and commented about how much they loved them! My mother settled into her new room. I read Luke 18 to her and we discussed it. We felt so much gratitude for the miracle that God had done for her and loved that we had just read about the connection between faith, gratitude and healing when the healed person who had leprosy returned to thank and praise Jesus in Luke 17. The persistent widow in Luke 18 finally convinced the judge to to rule in her favor which reminded us to keep asking and keep praying that my mother would be strengthened and that her balance would be restored so she could walk. My mother enjoyed making foam decorations for the Christmas tree!
  18. On Sunday, Dec.19, the Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapists evaluated my mother. They were all amazed at the progress that she had already made and were hopeful that she could possibly be ready to leave in 5 – 7 days from Rehab and return home. The Occupational Therapist had my mom put on her clothes and she did it without any help. We helped her wash up and put her face cream on. I brushed her hair after spraying it with a lovely dry shampoo. She looked spruced up and ready for the day. Another more critical patient needed my mom’s room which was close to the nurses station, so I loaded up her Christmas decorations and belongings and moved them on a cart to a new room. I was honored to decorate the new room to make it cozy and welcoming for my mother!
  19. We had a long standing appointment for my youngest child to get her Driver’s License on Dec.20 so I returned home. She got her license and we enjoyed a special day together! We had driven an hour at least per day during most days over the past two months to finish her 60 hours of driving for her Driving Log. It had given me great joy to look at Christmas lights with her at night and listen to Christmas music and Taylor Swift. We visited the Billy Graham Library and prayed with Ron, a volunteer who would pray with people in the Prayer Room. The presence of the Holy Spirit was the present that we needed to comfort us and to heal and strengthen my mother and father.
  20. I had joined two Facebook private groups hosted by Christine Trimpe, author of “Seeking Joy Through the Gospel of Luke: A Christmas to Calvary Advent Countdown” and by Cynthia Cavanaugh, an author who was focusing during the Advent Season on Christine’s book. I had enjoyed participating in FB lives and Zoom calls in these groups during December. Cynthia asked our group to share a story about a gift that someone had given us that required a sacrifice. I was able to ask my parents about how they had managed to purchase a beautiful piano for me in the mid 1970s. I now have this incredible story in my collection of stories which has comforted me and brought me joy.
  21. During my two hour drives to see my mother and father, I was able to talk to my cousin, Janet. Janet had been encouraging me on FB prior to my mom’s stroke about how God was helping and healing a young family member of hers which had been in a terrible accident. I had prayed for him during early December and noticed that he was breathing well enough to be taken off the ventilator. Eventually, he would come home from the hospital and be a walking miracle. She and I discussed many things but she wanted me to share with my mom Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Wow! She had been declaring this scripture over Levi, her little loved one, and we were witnessing his healing. We would also witness my mother improving daily in her therapy. Her balance was getting better and they were having her walk without her walker. Due to her broken wrist, they wanted her to continue using the walker which had been set up to allow her to lay her wrist on it since she could not put weight on the wrist. She will need to use the walker until her wrist heals and the physical therapists decide she can walk safely without it.
  22. More shopping had to be done on Dec.21 since I had not finished, but my girls and I got it done at the mall, at other stores and through deliveries! Presents could be wrapped and readied for Christmas for our family. We found out on Dec.22 that my mother would be released from Rehab and go home on Christmas Eve! What a blessing and such a meaningful Christmas gift from our Heavenly Father!
  23. On December 11, my family had heard our church choir and orchestra perform their Christmas music! It filled my heart with such hope and peace. I especially enjoyed narration between songs. As we sang “Silent Night”, I noticed anew the words “With the dawn of redeeming Grace”. I want to share that we are at the dawn of a new time for my family. I am so excited that the grace of the Lord Jesus is in my life. Because of the daily redemption that he offers by his Grace, we can all walk into the future knowing this He is in control. His mercy is new every day. He longs to meet us at dawn which is when I like to spend time with him each morning. I have developed a habit of meeting with him each morning as the sun rises which prepares my heart to join God’s purpose for me. Reading his Word, especially a chapter a day in Luke, has pumped me up to want even more of Jesus and to know Him more.
  24. On Dec.23, I heard Dr. David Jeremiah share on the radio this statement: “God was with us as Emmanuel so we could be with Him.” I knew that God had been with us and provided all that our hearts and bodies had needed. God has provided a financial bonus to teachers too so this was a welcome provision from His hand! I was so thankful that my mother and I had been filling our minds with the Word from Luke prior to her stroke and that we could continue afterwards. It has truly been a faith filled journey during December for us. We look forward to continuing our journey of faith and healing.
  25. Merry Christmas to you and your family! God is with us through His Holy Spirit now so we can rejoice! Thank you, Jesus, for coming as a baby in a humble manger. He came in a very unexpected way. During our unexpected experience with stroke and a broken wrist for my mom, he has met us there. He knows how to orchestrate the events in our lives to allow us to look for Him and expect him to do the unexpected!

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