Day 24, Friday – Christmas Eve!
One of the greatest acts of service for our family this year has come in the form of a brother traveling across the country (with their brood of seven!) to surprise his dad for Christmas. Our sweet Pop has been a bit blue due to his recent knee replacement, missing our annual family gathering in Phoenix, and losing his best friend on Thanksgiving Eve. So, my brother and his sweet wife decided they would load up their crew and head to Big D for a little surprise action.

He was surprised!

As we came to the door to spread some singing cheer…

surprises came through our caroling wall, melting into the arms of a very shocked and teary grandparents.

Here’s a shout out to Dave & Chris for punting their family plans and for serving Mom & Dad (2 of the most generous people I know).

A less admirable act of service was mine to a daughter who had been asking, and asking and asking…

All she wanted was some Christmas lights.

She left this message on our front porch, right in front of the door lest I miss it.

Well… we did it (actually she and Slow Walker did most of the work)

but I gave them the lights.

Which we’ve all later declared as “weird”
Somehow the LED colored lights didn’t match our old colored lights around our door.
It was pathetic.
Possibly embarrassing.

But here are a few of our neighborhood showstoppers:

A little Texas flair.

The Dancing Bears… our kids’ favorite for years!

Cars line up around the block to see this family’s gift to the city,

as special jack-in-the-boxes share songs about the Savior.

Just around the corner is my fav.

oh yeah … crazy lights!

a tribute to the world cheeriest geek.
On Christmas Eve one of our family traditions is a little Secret Santa action. We try to think of a family that has had some struggles during the year and could use some extra blessing. Then we gather a few small items, drive to their house, put them on the porch, … and do a little ding-dong ditch (yes, I’m still a teen at heart. Just not a sullen, emotionally-driven, slurkey one… well on my good days!)

We didn’t come up with this idea. Several years ago, I heard my friend Ruth Meek share some stories at one of her Redeeming Christmas talks. It seemed like such a fun idea, we adopted it that year and haven’t stopped.  We all promise secrecy – take an oath to never tell – then sit back and watch the fun as the recipients open their door and look around for the culprit.

We had lots of families to choose from, I’m sad to say. Lots of job loss, many struggling marriages, a few
deaths – even of children! I’m not going to say who we chose, but we sure had fun finding special gifts for the family. It never has to be anything big. In fact it’s much better if it’s small.

The key behind Secret Santa is for the family to know that someone else remembers their pain. Even more, that Christ feels their pain – each minute of every day. I haven’t had loss like some of these folks, but I can only imagine the loneliness/sadness that comes with severe pain. We hope that our small effort to be Christ’s hands and feet will remind them of the all-sufficient love and grace provided by the true and only Great Comforter.

Speaking of the greatest gift, here’s an email I recently received from my friend Wendy. I heard Chuck Swindoll read the entire story for his broadcast of Insight for Living last week, so here you go…. Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends,

I wanted to share some words from my favorite Christmas book  by Max Lucado, “An Angel’s Story” formerly called “Cosmic Christmas” that I read every year.   As I read these words again, I still get tears in my eyes.   I pray they will impact you and bring a little more insight to you in these short days before Christmas.

Much love,


“. . .the King walked over and reached for the book.  He turned it toward Lucifer and commanded, ‘Come, Deceiver, read the name of the One who will call your bluff.  Read the name of the One who will storm your gates.’

Satan rose slowly off his haunches.  Like a wary wolf, he walked a wide circle toward the desk until he stood before the volume and read the word: Immanuel.

‘Immanuel?’ he muttered to himself, then spoke in a tone of disbelief.  ‘God with us?’ For the first time the hooded head turned squarely toward the face of the Father. ‘No. Not even You would do that.  Not even You would go so far.”

‘You’ve never believed Me, Satan.’

‘But Immanuel?  The plan is bizarre!’

You don’t know what it is like on Earth! You don’t know how dark I’ve made it.  It’s putrid. It’s evil.  It’s . . .’

‘It is Mine,’ proclaimed the King. ‘And I will reclaim what is Mine.  I will become flesh.  I will feel what My creatures feel.  I will see what they see.’

‘But what of their sin?’

‘I will bring mercy.’

‘What of their death?’

‘I will give life.’

Satan stood speechless.

God spoke, ‘I love My children.  Love does not take away the beloved’s freedom.  But love takes away fear.  And Immanuel will leave behind a tribe of fearless children.  They will not fear you or your hell.’

Satan stepped back at the thought.  His retort was childish. ‘Th-th-they will too!’

Around and around in a circle Satan paced, clenching and unclenching his wiry fingers.  When he finally stopped, he asked a question that even I was thinking. ‘Why? Why would You do this?’

The Father’s voice was deep and soft. ‘Because I love them.’ . . .

‘Where will we battle?’ Satan challenged.

The Father sighed at the dark angel’s resistance.  ‘On a hill called Calvary.’

‘If you make it that far,’ Satan smirked. . .

The Father stood motionless for a moment, then turned back to the book.  Opening to the final chapter, He slowly read words I had never heard.  No sentences. Just words.  Say each, then pausing:







He motioned toward me [his warrior angel], and I responded, kneeling again before Him.

Handing me the necklace, He explained, ‘This vial will contain the essence of Myself; a Seed to be placed in the womb of a young girl.  Her name is Mary.  She lives among My chosen people.  The fruit of the Seed is the Son of God.  Take it to her.’ . . .

I could not comprehend God’s plan, but my understanding was not essential.  My obedience was.  I lowered my head, and He draped the chain around my neck.  Amazingly, the vial was no longer empty.  It glowed with Light.

‘Jesus.  Tell her to call My Son Jesus.’ ”

Thanks for walking the Christmas road with me.

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