Christmas in the Army

redKettle270w

Two years ago, when it was just Mom and me for Christmas in Abilene, she suggested serving dinner at the Salvation Army (see Serving up Love on a Plate). So we did, and it was fun and rewarding, and we met a lot of nice people. So this year, when it looked like it would be just the two of us again, we decided to help out at the Salvation Army here in Asheville. In fact, two of our neighbors here in the retirement residence are members at the Salvation Army. Then we found out that Kevin, my younger son, was coming to spend Christmas with us. When we told him about our plan, he wanted to come help, too. We had served dinner back in Abilene, but this time we were assigned to help out in the kitchen. Our assignment was dessert for a few hundred people. We were led to the dishwashing area of the kitchen (out of the way of people who were doing the actual cooking). There was a pile of pie boxes and we were instructed to cut up pies, put them on disposable plates, wrap and stack them on trays. After a few false starts and bumping into each other in the small space, we developed a system that worked beautifully: I cut the pies, Mom put the slices onto plates, and Kevin wrapped and stacked them: pumpkin, apple, pecan, and icebox pie—a variety on each tray. When Petey, the cook, checked and saw our progress, he brought out some cakes to be sliced: carrot cake, sock-it-to-me cake, red velvet, and brownies. A few times we needed to seek Petey for help because we needed more trays, or ran out of plastic wrap, that sort of thing, but mostly we functioned very well together. A few times I got too far ahead of Mom, which gave me the opportunity to go throw out the pie boxes. At other times Mom got too far ahead of Kevin and helped him wrap the desserts. Kevin, being the last guy in our assembly line, never got ahead, but he never complained. Before we knew it, Petey came back and said, “I think we’ve got enough now. Youse can all go home now.” And he thanked us for our help. Mom and I hadn’t thought that anything could beat serving Christmas dinner for fun, but this had really brought us together in loving cooperation for a good cause. For me, it was one of the best things about Christmas. The others being God’s amazing gift to me (see yesterday’s post), and having Kevin here with us. God is good!

My Christmas Gift from God

I woke up early this morning from a dream in which my ex-husband and I were in a living room somewhere.  I don’t remember details, but in the dream I felt only compassion and agape love for him.

He had been verbally abusive to me, and had betrayed and hurt me very badly (emotionally).  When I left him, I was literally running for my life, being in grave danger from suicidal thoughts.  Since then we have had no contact and I’ve had no contact with his family, either.  There is no hope for reconciliation of the marriage, but I had hoped for reconciliation for the sake of our sons (at some point in the future, there is the possibility that our paths could cross at an important life event, like the wedding of one of our sons.  If that happens, I would like for it to be a pleasant meeting).

This past fall, I was traveling in Texas, and specifically through the town where he lives with another woman.  On passing through that town, I had hoped not to run into him.  That night God gave me a dream in which I was reassured that I would not run into him.

This dream of compassion for my ex revealed to me that I have truly forgiven him, and hold no bitterness or resentment against him.  Not long ago, I had received two prophecies which were fulfilled (at least in part) by this dream of forgiveness.  The first one that came to mind was given to me just about a month ago:

Do you feel My expression of joy over you?  If you do, then you know that I have been with you, that I have spoken to you, and I have encouraged you.  So, let this moment rest upon you as the mantle of anointing for the season that is ahead.  I would have you embrace the season that is ahead.  I would have you embrace this season with joy and faith.  And, I would have you to march forward in triumph because you know that you will win the battles that are necessaryYou will receive your reward in this season.  For, I have chosen this time to demonstrate My love for you by the giving of gifts, says the Lord God Almighty, (emphasis mine).

And before I go on to the second one, I’ll explain that part about the “battles that are necessary.”  We tend to think of battles at Christmastime as being a battle against your negative cousin Daisy or crabby old uncle Clyde.  But I have been fighting a different kind of battle these days.  That battle is against myself—specifically, the old mindset that hears criticism and turns it into self-condemnation, among others.  In the book mentioned in my last blog post (A More Excellent Way to be in Health by Henry Wright), old mindsets like mine actually are far more sinister, sometimes causing disease through the sin (separation from God) that they reveal themselves to be.  So I have been praying and working through these old mindsets, bringing negative thinking and self-condemnation into line with God’s Word.

The other prophecy was the one I wrote about in my post The Table:

God says that He has put a big Table before you, and it is full of everything you could ever want or need.

I had become overwhelmed by the task of speaking to the American churches about missions in Europe.  I began desperately to seek the Lord, weeping and begging for Him to show up.  Then I remembered the table full of everything I could ever want or need.  And I said, “Lord, the gifts are great, but I don’t want any gifts!  I want You!  I need You!”  Then God spoke, and in a very tender voice He said: “My child, I am in every gift!  I am on the table!  Every gift is simply more of Me!  Why do you think I keep inviting you to take everything you need, everything you want from the table?  Because I am everything that is on the table!  Take all you want of Me!”

In reflecting on the dream and that prophecy—especially the part about gifts—I realized that God had indeed given me a gift: more of himself.  Every time I win the battle against my flesh, I take on more of His likeness—thank You, Father!  It’s a bit big, but I hope to grow into it!  God is good!