Deck the Halls with boughs of holly! Fa la la la la la la la la!
Cheerful carols resounded in the hallways of the nursing home. Some friends and I, all decorated in green and red, strolled up and down the halls, sticking our heads in doorways, singing and wishing everyone a merry Christmas.
A small group of us tiptoed into one lady’s room and asked if we could sing for her. She agreed and we sang several Christmas carols with smiles and joy. As we were leaving her room quietly, I heard her gently say, “I love you.” I turned my head at the doorway and whispered back to her, “I love you, too.”
It amazed me how much joy a simple song could bring. Even a smile, a touch on the shoulder, or a “Merry Christmas!” greeting would light up the faces of the residents at the nursing home.
I often feel like I have to do something big to make a real difference. But at that nursing home, I realized there are many people who don’t need something extraordinarily radical this holiday season. Just a smile, a touch, or a word of encouragement can go a long way. 1 John 3:18 says:
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (NIV)
This Christmas, let’s not miss the opportunities to make a difference in the world right in front of us. Let’s live everyday with eyes that actively search for people’s needs and a heart that eagerly seeks to meet them with the love of Christ.
Ashli Roussel, a nineteen-year-old sophomore at Harding University, is passionate about sharing the truth and love of the Lord through writing. She loves camping, running, playing the piano, and participating in missions. Most of all, she is passionate about knowing, following, and serving her Lord and Savior. Without Him, her stories would mean nothing.
Ashli has battled and overcome an eating disorder, which God used to teach her great truths about who He is and how He is involved in our struggles. Now she desires to comfort others with the comfort that she has received from God. Keep an eye out for Ashli’s regular articles on iBegat.com! (read more…)
What is Christmas to you?
I love Christmas. Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. Where some people see rude customers and annoying cashiers, I see stores filled with things that sparkle and glitter and are so much fun to look at – and possibly buy for a special someone. Where some people see cold and slush, I see snowflakes falling, mounds of white on the ground (even though I now live in Georgia, my heart belongs in Washington, which gets spectacular snowfalls each year!) hot chocolate, candy canes, Christmas lights, music, movies, and the Christmas spirit. God has made it a very special time of year for me – I look forward to it for eleven months of the year, and live it to the fullest the other one.
Where do you spend Christmas Eve and/or Christmas day?
I never vacation for Christmas – why would I want to!? We stay at home, and on Christmas eve we put our stockings out and go to bed, awaiting the next morning. When I was small, I didn’t sleep all night – now, I can get to sleep – but it still takes a while! We get up around seven o’clock, get our stockings, turn on the Christmas tree lights, and run into Mom and Dad’s room, where we jump on the bed, wake them up, and scream “Merry Christmas!” Then Dad grabs the camera while we open our stockings. After that, we file out to the kitchen where we make coffee, get out breakfast – always an assortment of breads, apple and cranberry orange with cream cheese, usually – and then settle around the living room while Dad reads the Christmas story from the book of Luke. Then, we open presents – Dad distributes them one at a time. Later in the day, the extended family gets together to exchange presents and have a good time. It’s so much fun!!
What favorite tradition does your family have?
In our stockings every Christmas, there is an orange at the very bottom. I don’t know how it started, or why, and I never eat it – but it’s there, just the same! Also, my Dad always wears his Christmas Robe in the morning. It’s black, red, and white – and absolutely threadbare, even though he only wears it one day a year. The whole morning is tradition-ridden, really!
What favorite food do you absolutely LOVE?
Oh, goodness! Food? I love the Cranberry-orange and apple bread in the mornings. And peppermint coffee, if it’s available!
Where would you spend Christmas if you could be anywhere in the world?
In Washington. Then, at least, I’d have a White Christmas instead of a brown one!
What is your favorite Christmas song?
Now THAT is almost impossible to say. I have a soft spot for the Home Alone vocals, as well as the vocals from the Polar Express. But traditional Christmas songs – the Sugar Plum Fairy is a favorite, as well as the traditional hymns and songs such as “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
What is your favorite Christmas Movie?
The Santa Clause movies, The Bishop’s Wife, and the Home Alone movies. The worst ever was a movie called, I think, “The Christmas Miracle” or some such movie. It was absolutely awful.
Share your favorite verse about Christmas.
My favorite verse about Christmas would be Luke 1:10 – “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The Christmas story is so much more than a story – it’s real, and it’s for everyone.
I am many things, but I’ll just share a few of them with you right now.
I am, first and foremost, a Christian, and have been since I was six years old. I love the Lord and am trying to please Him to the best of my ability. I am an avid reader, and lean toward fiction although several of my favorite books (the Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Blue Like Jazz, Primal, The Barbarian Way, the Soul of C. S. Lewis, etc.) are non-fiction.
I love animals, and I love music (soundtracks, Christian, Korean and K-pop, some secular music, Immediate Music, X-ray Dog, Taylor Swift, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Owl City, Hayley Westenra… the list goes on and on). My favorite movies are the Last of the Mohicans, G. I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, Inkheart, the Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Robin Hood(s), Star Trek, IRIS (Korean drama – use caution when watching), the Fantastic Four(s), the Spider-mans, Batman Begins, Iron Man, (I love Hero movies) and many, many more. (read more…)
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.