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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “The Christmas Gift”

The Christmas Gift

The doors fly open and the sale is on. Crowds by the hundreds push, shove, and trample others to get to the discounted merchandise. One woman shoves another with a face masked in anger, “That one is mine!” she yells as she shoves another woman to the side.

The police stand outside the doors to try to control the crowd, to no avail. “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” is playing on the intercom and yet no one notices. They’re focused on the goodies that might make a distant relative like them just a little more or for a family member that insisted that item is the only thing they want under the Christmas tree.

A Man stands back from the crowd and watches. Disgust is on His face. He listens to the piped in music and shakes His head in wonder. His thoughts are sad for He is watching the commercialization of His birth; the birth of the Creator of the World who came and died so that these greedy people could fill their baskets with all that will be tossed out within weeks.

A woman stops, she tilts her head slightly to the side as she listens to the song, “Oh Come all Ye Faithful.” She sees the Man standing off to the side and approaches Him. “Hello.” She says sadly.

He looks at her with sad eyes and replies, “Hello.” He nods toward the pushing and shoving people and asks, “Why aren’t you out there with them?”

She looks out over the crowd and then back to Him. “I came for one item because we don’t have much money.” A tear forms in her eyes and escapes. She swipes it away quickly and continues, “I hear the music, the Christmas carols being played, and looking out at these people, I realized I was just like them. I would have fought anyone or anything to get the one gift I came for.”

“But now?” The Man asks interested.

“But now I have learned better. I have four children and watching these people has made me realize this isn’t what I want to teach them. I’m not perfect and I do a lot of things wrong but I want to teach my children that the greatest gift ever given at Christmas was Jesus.”

Before the Man can reply someone slams into her and growls, “Get out of the way woman!” She is almost knocked off her feet and the Man grabs her arm to steady her and guides her out the door.

~~~~

Luke 2:11 – “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

~~~~

I’m sure many of us have witnessed the crowds during the Christmas season. I have seen a fight break out over a parking space, the pushing and shoving, and angry customers. It seems we are so focused on getting just the right gift for friends, family, or colleagues that we forget what Christmas is about. This story reminds me of the Bible story of two sisters; Mary and Martha. Jesus shows up and one is rushing about in a frantic panic while the other sits at Jesus feet. Aren’t we doing much the same during the Christmas season? We rush, we cook for days, we slave over getting the house clean, and by the time Christmas Day arrives we’re exhausted and can’t enjoy the time with friends or family!  And then there are also those organizations that want to render this holy day as nothing more than just another holiday where people get a day off from work. The merchants begin touting Christmas trees and decorations along with Halloween costumes. And they do it because we, the public, buy their merchandise right along with the Halloween costumes in our shopping carts. But at the same time, there are those of us that sit back, listen to the Christmas carols, and relax!  We don’t stress over what gift to buy, we don’t cook for days on end, and we stay away from the crowds at the Malls. Our simple decorations is a Manger scene and maybe a Christmas tree in the corner. No, we aren’t Mr. Scrooge! Our focus is on the real meaning of Christmas, a child is born, and His name is Jesus, God in the manger. That’s what Christmas is about! He is the greatest gift anyone will ever receive! Are you Mary or Martha? Are you focused on the commercialization of the most holy day or are you sitting at the feet of our Lord and Savor?

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A Message to the Grave

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A powerful testimony of forgiveness and healing.

Jen's Secret Diary

Dear Dad,
I am writing this on the 9th anniversary of your death, October 18th, 2018. I shed a few tears for you, as I do every year around this time. I guess I get nostalgic around this time, just as I do around the holidays, missing the few good times we did have and thinking of what could have been.

I never got the chance to tell you while you were alive, the impact that your alcoholism and absenteeism had on me. No, I do not hold you solely responsible for the abuse. I do however; feel that by allowing your 2nd wife to make me share a room with boys, while she gave my bedroom to her daughter, somehow played a part. Why didn’t you speak up and say it was not appropriate? Why couldn’t you have paid closer attention to what was going on infront of your…

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The Narrow Road – True Story

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Running along the trail, his footfalls resound upward and leave a deep resounding thump, thump. thump like a drum beat in a cave. The birds stop their singing and take flight as he lifts his head and screams, “Why God? Why?”

Suddenly dropping to his knees, his fingers dig into the damp soft ground and sobs rip through him from a heart that seems to have shattered into a million pieces. Peering from beneath a nearby bush, a rabbit sits twitching his nose with big brown eyes watching Brian. Brain is unaware as wet leaves soak his jeans.

Feeling exasperation and anger, he flings his arms heavenward with shaking, clenched fists. He yells to God, “How can you love me? You can’t when you let this happen!” Falling face down, Brian sobs into his folded arms. The still of the forest absorbs his cries.

The rabbit has scampered to safety and the birds have taken flight as Brian lies on the cold damp ground confused, frustrated, heartbroken, and doubting how God could ever love him.

“This book should be on the New York Best sellers list.” Robert Filosi

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Authenticity Encircles Authenticity

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the grizzle grist mill

As you become authentic, you will begin to see and be drawn to others who are authentic. As you begin to walk this road, you may also realize some people in your life seem to walk away or even fade away. Realize this for what it is, and embrace it; be okay with it.

Don’t judge them for not continuing in your journey. Don’t slander them for not being loyal and true. Don’t even worry about asking too many questions of why? Or why not?

Some weren’t meant to travel this same road with you. Some don’t wish for the changes you’ve chosen to indulge like a sweet dessert. Others just aren’t where you are and will never understand the transformation until they themselves come to that crossroad in their own lives…and that is okay!

Be you. Be authentic. Encircle others who are authentic. Let go of that and…

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4 Hidden Behaviors An Abusive Person Displays Before Revealing Themselves

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“Just because a person doesn’t put hands on you doesn’t mean they aren’t abusive. Abuse is control, blatant disrespect, and also hurtful words. Don’t settle for emotional abuse, thinking it’s okay because it’s not physical.” – Tony A. Gaskins Jr

Spotting abusive people isn’t always as easy as television and movies make it seem. Most people want to believe that they would be able to tell an abusive person from the crowd after one conversation. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Abusive people are often hard to spot, and can hide in plain sight from the people that they aren’t actively abusing.

According to psychotherapist Amy Lewis Bear, “Abusers can be highly skilled at projecting an attractive image that convinces others they have solid personal values and wouldn’t be capable of abuse. An abuser’s thoughtful and caring behavior toward others gives their victims more reason to take the blame.”

After all, they’re husbands and wives and coworkers and bosses – abusive people fly under the radar more often than not, because they don’t want their abusive tendencies to be front and center. It’s important to know how to spot an abuser before they reveal themselves – or before someone reveals them. It’s important not only for victims of abuse, but for the friends and family of those victims.

FOUR HIDDEN BEHAVIORS AN ABUSIVE PERSON DISPLAYS BEFORE REVEALING THEMSELVES
1. ABUSERS ARE REGULAR PEOPLE, BUT HERE’S THE CATCH…
This is important to remember. It isn’t so much a hidden behavior as it is a fact above abusive people. Keeping an eye out for abusers needs to be more than just looking for the shifty characters late at night, or the husband with a bad temper. Abusers don’t seem like normal people because they’re good at pretending – it’s because they are normal people, who lead completely normal lives outside of their cycles of abuse.

They may have difficulties like money troubles or substance abuse, but those are traits of non-abusive people as well. It’s important to remember: abusers are regular people, and knowing that will make it easier to spot an abuser when they start to show themselves. But what’s the catch? They like playing the blame game.

Author Steven Stosny mentions, “Avoid anyone who blames his negative feelings and bad luck on someone else. Feeling like victims, they see themselves as justified in whatever retaliation they enact and whatever compensation they take. Blamers will certainly cause pain for you if you come to love one.”

2. ABUSERS DON’T ABUSE EVERYONE
A lot of people don’t believe the victims of abuse because they have only had perfectly pleasant interactions with the abuser. This is a dangerous trap to fall into, and it’s important to remember that abusers will never abuse everyone. They need to be selective of their victims because if they abuse everyone they come across, no one will get close enough to them for them to manipulate, control and enact their abuse upon.

The victims of an abuser are usually people that they’re close to, like a partner or a family member. If someone’s past partners all have the same story of that person being abusive, it’s a red flag. In fact, it’s more likely that someone is abusive if there are only select people in their life that come forward with stories of abuse.

3. ABUSERS DON’T ABUSE ALL THE TIME, BUT WHEN THEY DO…
This is one of the main reasons that many women who are in abusive relationships stay, or get so caught up that it’s hard to leave. Because if an abuser were mistreating their victims 100% of the time, they wouldn’t have anyone to control or abuse, because everyone would avoid them. The key trait of an abuser is that they’re able to get away with it without driving their victims away.

This means that they may start out with small acts of abuse – manipulation or subtle gaslighting – and then build up to a more controlling nature. Or, they may exact outbursts of violence – such as yelling or hitting – and then immediately become nurturing or loving again.

The thing about abusive people is: these acts of abuse are almost never just a one-time thing, but when they abuse, “they may have elaborate excuses for these incidents or blame the person they attacked by saying they “had to” or that they “were provoked,” states WebMD.

4. ABUSERS RUSH INTO RELATIONSHIPS
Without a victim, an abuser has no one to abuse. This may result in the abuser getting into a string of failed relationships, or immediately seeking out another victim when the first one removes themselves from the situation. This is one of the most overlooked hidden behaviors in an abusive person. An abuser cannot abuse without a victim.

When one victim leaves, the abuser will oftentimes immediately be in search of another victim – or, they’ll act as sweet and kind as they can in order to lure their previous victim back to them. The best way to end an abuser’s reign is to safely remove the victim. Once this happens, an abuser will almost always show their hand – after all, they don’t like having their abuse victims taken from them.

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Trying to Control

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Give Yourself Permission: Authenticity

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We all must strive to be who God created us to be. Be you!

the grizzle grist mill

Too many of us grow up believing we must conform to society, or be molded after our family’s traditions, or conform to our friends’ desires, or even be completely yielded to our parents’ or spouses wishes. When we’ve been constantly conditioned to surrender and submit all willpower, all defiance, all choice to the determination of another, authenticity can escape us, and we might not even realize it.

It really takes hard work to be authentic, because not everyone is going to agree with you on everything. It takes a dogged mindset to remain real when the world around us is full of so much fake that is sold to the highest bidder. It even takes a mental stubbornness to remain grounded in your own beliefs, standards and choices for life, especially if you have someone close to you whom you seek to have their approval, affection or admiration.

The coveting…

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