Christmas is over--or is it?  What can we take away from the celebration of Christmas?  After decades of Christmases is there anything new to be learned--anything different under the sun?

Why, yes, Virginia, there is!

This Christmas during the Candlelight Service celebrating the lighting of the Christ candle and the arrival of the long anticipated King, I did learn something.  Perhaps I knew it all along, but a timely reminder never hurts and even helps some of us.

A timely reminder of who Christ chose to reveal Himself to in the very beginning was shared during the candlelight service.  Recently, I heard a message of the lowly status of the shepherd in society during the years surrounding Christ's time here on this earth.  The low man on the totem pole would be a good description.  If you have ever watched the television series "Dirty Jobs", this would definitely make the broadcast.  Sheep are not smart animals, and often have a strong smell associated with the lanolin they produce.  This job involves lots of sitting, and waiting for the sheep to get into trouble so you can rescue them. They are herd animals and respond to herd activity.  If one runs off the cliff, the others will follow.  The shepherd has the job of keeping the dumb sheep alive and well.  When the shepherd goes to town, he is not greeted with excitement and respect.  No, it's more like--OH, they let you come in off the pasture?  The shepherd knew his place in the social pecking order---he was pretty near the bottom.  Yet, Jesus chose to reveal Himself to the shepherds and invite them to a "sip and see" of sorts.  The humble were the invited guests at that first showing off of the baby.

The Word then tells us of The Kings from afar who traveled long miles to see the New Baby King.  Learned Men, they had studied The Word of old and new of the circumstances of the birth of The King of the Jews.  Following The Star they marked the way to the place of His Birth, the Kings came with gifts to worship the New Born King.  These "Seekers" were the second group that Jesus revealed Himself to.  They were willing to study to know Him and then to travel to see Him.  The Seekers were blessed to see the New Born Baby King.

As we begin a New Year, may we all be humble seekers.  Seeking to know Him and knowing He can be found by the meek.  I pray we all are constantly aware of His presence in the year to come.


9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
Psalm 25:9







This week is my birthday week.  I have spent the week celebrating!  It has occurred to me there is always the possibility I will not celebrate another birthday--SO CELEBRATE BIG!

What if the ghost of birthday future visited me tonight and woke me from a deep sleep.  He appeared wanting to show me what my future might hold.  It was, of course, once again my birthday (by then I must have been officially older than dirt).  It was a celebration to equal none of the others in the past~EVERYONE was involved!

Weeks of preparation had gone into the decorations. EVERY square inch of my home seemed to be covered with glitz and glamour.  Why there were even lights outside!  Lights so bright you might think the stars had fallen out of the sky to celebrate the day!

AND THEN, there were the presents.  Well thought out, and beautifully decorated presents.  HEAPS OF PRESENTS!

NOTHING, THOUGH, could compare to the birthday food.  A feast fit for a king or in this case queen!  Tables filled to the brim with every delicacy and favorite birthday food imaginable.  And the crowning glory, was that birthday cake.  Layer after layer of every flavor imaginable--beautifully decorated---waiting to be cut.

The guests were crammed into the room--so thick they could scarcely move.  Everyone seemed to be there.

The ghost from birthday future asked me did I notice anything missing from the party.  I looked very closely, but it seemed every detail was taken care of.  Surely this was the best--most perfect birthday party EVER!  And then the guests began to sing "Happy Birthday!"  As everyone scanned the room looking for the honoree, it soon became apparent I was not there.  As the hosts began questioning where I could be, they soon discovered they had failed to send me an invitation.  I was not invited to my own birthday party where everyone was celebrating me.  The guest of honor was MIA--an oversight in the busyness of all the preparations.  On the very day I was honored, I had not been included in the party.

Don't forget to invite Jesus this year when you celebrate His birth.  After all--

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
 and they shall call his name Immanuel”
Matthew 1:23


NO, my name is NOT Ebenezer Scrooge!  I love Christmas!  One of my most cherished memories from my childhood was the Christmases before we lost my daddy.  He had a boat load of Christmas spirit.  I could give you all the details, but that is not the topic of today's missive.  

Why would I wish you an Imperfect Christmas?  The world seems to tell us we need to strive for perfection.  We all laugh at the Griswolds and their over the top observance of Christmas.  Too many lights, dinner gone wrong, annoying kin, obnoxious guests, Scrooge for a boss, and on and on.  Poor old Clark was bound and determined to have the perfect Christmas, in spite of all the obstacles.  He keeps getting knocked down, but he always bounced back to try again.  You have to love his "can do" spirit!

Every ad on television, why even every post on social media seems to tell us Christmas needs to be perfect.  Could I just tell you, based upon a lifetime of experience, perfection is in the eye of the beholder!  Perfection is NOT a certain look, or the illusive goal of the appearance of having it all together.  Perfection for me would be those I love near, a warm fire, my comfy clothes, good conversation, and a nice warm drink.  It has nothing to do with perfect presentation, over the top gourmet meals, or even receiving the gift of my dreams (can't ever think what that might be).  I have been in the presence of perfection while absolutely filthy --holding my breath looking at some majestic view.  I have seen perfection over a bowl of chili at the table with all the family gathered round.  I have seen perfection at the domino table with a good group of friends, laughing till water seemed to drip down my face.  I have felt perfection in a deep one on one conversation with a life long friend.  I have felt perfection as I watched the sun come up while walking the wonder dog in this wonderful neighborhood.  I have felt perfection as I watched the sun dip below the horizon at the top of the hill taking that late afternoon walk, while the neighborhood children rushed around enjoying the last moments of a beautiful day.  I have felt perfection while reading to a sweet 5 year old child at school, as they tucked under my arm.  I have felt perfection when sitting alone and remembering a lifetime of blessings and joy.  One certain rule I have learned--perfection has nothing to do with perfectly planned holidays, events, or happenings.  Perfection --is not so elusive---it is all around us in the simplest of things.

That first Christmas, let me assure you, there was no perfection.  Having a baby in a barn filled with dirt and smells is not anyone's idea of a perfect setting.  First time parents realizing their baby is on His way and you are far from home is not anyone's idea of perfect timing.  I can only imagine how exhausted Mary was after that 90 mile trip on the back of a donkey---HUGE with child.  She finally births that baby and all she wants is to rest.  Here come a group of shepherds---the bottom of the top career choices for the time---AND they were on the midnight shift.  NO REST though, for they all want to see the baby.  WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE??  All you ladies can certainly understand--right after birthing a baby--entertaining unknown strangers is NOT on the top of your to do list.  Bright stars with blinding lights and Angels singing in the sky do not lend to a restful night.  Top that off with a baby who probably wanted to eat every two hours and you have exhausted parents.  It was NOT perfection--in the eyes of the world.

Yet, it was truly perfect, even with the look of total imperfection--it was perfect.  God sent His son, the Star shown over Him to point the way, the Angels sang His lullaby and shepherds bowed down in awe and wonder.  It could not have been any more perfect in the midst of the worldly imperfection. 

So I am wishing you all a perfectly imperfect Christmas!  May you know the presence of God and all His glory in the simple things all around you!  God Bless Your Christmas--and may we all remember the truly perfect Gift we were all given that first Christmas!

And she gave birth to her firstborn son
 and wrapped him in swaddling cloths
 and laid him in a manger,
 because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke 2:7


It's that wonderful time of the year again, when we have two major holidays in a very brief period of time--this year less than a month.  Having traveled to Austin for Thanksgiving, I will be hitting the road again for a whirlwind tour of Texas come Christmas  It was wonderful to have everyone together for Thanksgiving, but Christmas sees us in three different cities hundreds of mile apart.  In case you have never had the joy of riding with me, let me just say I do a lot of talking to all the other drivers on the road.  Normally I am extremely patient, but for some reason the road brings out the Haggard Hattie in me.

One thing is for sure, road trips can be trying.  OH MY, but you have to love those Texas toll roads!  For the very cheap price of a few dollars, you can ride 80 MPH to your hearts content.  Unfortunately, many of the toll roads have very few pit stops along the way.  Always having a large glass of unsweetened tea by my side, this can lead to a serious need for a pit stop.  Thankfully, I have the horse to the barn mentality when it comes to stopping and can wait a long time before things begin to become critical.

Image if you will, everyone---in your family, and I mean down to the cousins so far removed you have lost count, are all headed to the same location for a huge family reunion and head count.  Top that off with the town to host you all is nothing more than Podunkville-hardly worthy of a dot on the map.  It is a race worthy of Daytona 500 headlines.  EVERYONE knows there are only so many motel rooms available and it's first come - first serve.

Unfortunately your transportation is a VW Beetle--KNOWN for its sewing machine horsepower and bumpy ride.   You don't stand a chance!  AND, GUESS WHAT, your wife is pregnant--AND I MEAN GREAT with child!  We ALL know no pregnant woman can pass up a rest stop!  Between the pressure of a baby pushing on her bladder and the Beetle hitting every bump in the road, things can be downright comical at times.

OF COURSE, you land in Podunkville dead last!  There is NOT one motel room to be found anywhere.  SO, the local owner of Joe's Bar & Grill, who has a side gig of a Petting Farm, takes pity on you and allows you to stay in the barn.  OH MY, the smells, the dirt, and animal poop would gag the strongest stomach.  What choice do you have!  You make the best of it, by placing your bedrolls on the little clean hay you can find and try to settle down for a good night's rest after your long journey.

WHY what else could you expect, but for the little wife to announce she is going to birth that baby --TODAY!  Things pick up steam and before you know it--that baby make his arrival in the midst of the muck and mire.  The baby---who is said to be special---is born in the midst of all the dirt and grime the world can throw your way.  Not only does his birth seem to be far from special, but almost a recipe for disaster.  And somehow-someway mother and baby survive and thrive.  Wonder of wonders--and exactly as some wise man wrote in his book-hundreds of years before.  Perfectly amazing---or ordained before the formation of the earth?  Ring the bells and shout for joy--a new baby has come into this broken world.  Could he possibly be the special one told of long ago

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
 to Bethlehem the town of David,
 because he belonged to the house and line of David
Luke 2:4


'I've seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn't ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I've seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That's what faith can do'





I was blessed to witness the true meaning of Christmas this week.  Done without a thought and in a spirit of selfless love, it made me want to dig deeper and try harder to live the life Christ modeled for us.

I have not written about the new ministry I am privileged to share in this year.  Brand new-off the ground and running, for some strange reason the millenniums, who came up with this idea, have given me the opportunity to breath in their energy and  share in their vision in a meaningful way.  This  week I witnessed the fruit of their efforts.

The Well was originally created with a vision of assisting children and their families in need--physically and emotionally. They serve along side Life Choices, DART, Foster families, Adopted families, single moms, and all those who feel invisible in today's world or are struggling to keep the ball rolling and other local groups who seek to work with our community.  Their mission statement includes this-  The Well seeks to offer restored life to people in our community through offering the Hope of the Gospel, a community of friends, and access to resources.  

This past week, I attended a game day for some of the older ladies in our community.  Bingo is the game--and the winner garners points or small prizes.  These ladies are serious about their Bingo.  They are all rooting for each other and proud when someone wins.  They almost always take the points as their prize.  The Well has a pantry, laundry services, and this weekend the Community Christmas Shop.  All year long classes can be taken, pot lucks can be attended, and in fact attendance at any Well community activity can garner you points.  You earn these points which then translate into using the laundry services, filling in pantry needs, or a Christmas shopping spree for your loved ones.  This encourages participation in community and activities which are meant to help in your daily life and build community.

As the game wound down last week, one of the sweet ladies announced she was giving her sister and her friend enough points from her account for them to have a shopping spree at Community Christmas.  She then looked around the table and asked about the others.  One lady was there for the first time and had not won a game that day.  She had only the points for attending today's game.  Without batting an eye, the Christmas Elf gave her enough points from her account to have a shopping spree as well.  There was not a dry eye in the room.  She did not know her, there was nothing to be gained by sharing her points, but she wanted everyone to have a Merry Christmas.  A perfect stranger~yet you don't horde your points but instead share with a giving spirit.  She used every point she had that day making certain others would have an opportunity to shop for their loved ones too.  THAT IS THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE!  Giving hope to a desperate world.  Reminded me of this parable Jesus taught~

21 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.[a] So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings [b]for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
Luke 21:1-4



I have a young friend who has recently finished this year's cross country season.  I have great admiration for him, not for his first place ranking, not for his record breaking season, not for being number one on his team, but for the fact that he is a team player.  He gives it his all, not thinking about personal glory, but instead he runs for the sake of the team.  Fighting against the odds, for you see he does not have the size of the great cross country runners, he is built more like a high jumper or hurdler, he leaves his best on the course each time he runs.  Top that off with running the state championship course with an injury and you have a real team player.  He gives his best for the benefit of the team.  He consistently runs 2-4 at the meets, but knowing the top five scores count toward the winning team, he runs for the sake of the team winning.

Many sports are like this.  Not everyone is a pitcher, a quarterback, or competing in individual events.  Most are playing on a team and it takes the entire team to come up with a win.  The tackler, the outfielder, and the soccer defensive player are all necessary for the team to be successful.  Most of the team does not garner individual glory, but are all vital in the outcome of the game. 

This morning I was discussing a friend's son who is competing in the collegiate level sport of triathlon.  As we talked over his team rank and what the future held for him, it dawned on me this is a great analogy of our walk as Believers.  We are team players, for the most part.  Certainly we are not all Mother Theresa's, nor Billy Graham's.  What we are though is a part of the great team here on the terrestrial ball for the sake of Christ.  We have been given our last minute instructions and sent out on the playing field--charged with winning souls.  We all know--we will win, but who stands to celebrate with us is the question.  Though, I certainly believe the Holy Spirit has an irresistible pull, Jesus made it plain we should go forth and do our part for the team.  Are you a team player?  Are you willing to play for the glory of the team, or are you even in the game?  Praying we all are doing our best for the glory of the team and keep our eyes on the goal---proclaiming redemption through Christ.

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation
Mark 16:15


NO, I am not speaking of your physical heart.  I could give you a few suggestions how to work on that also, but my experience has been if you are not already working on it, you probably do not want to hear what I might suggest.

Lately, I have done a great deal of soul searching about the condition of my heart--spiritual heart.  It has dawned upon me---the only thing I truly have control over is my own heart.  This has created a higher sense of keeping my eyes off my neighbor and instead looking within.  The issue is not what my neighbor may be doing, but instead how I am reacting to my neighbor.  You do realize, I am speaking figuratively when I speak of neighbor as anyone other than myself?  Human nature seems to be looking for someone beyond ourselves to blame, criticize, or judge when we have no control of the actions of others.  So my pat answer when someone brings up the short comings or faults of others, let's work on our own hearts.

Short-concise-to the point.

2 Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;
Psalm 26:2

POST SCRIPT--I read of a 24 day challenge on-line which I have begun and encourage you to do also.  Every day during December (you are only one day behind) you read a chapter in Luke.  The last reading will be Christmas Eve.  A wonderful reminder of why we celebrate this blessed season!  I hope you will try it.