Loving My Mother-in-Law

by Louise Tucker Jones

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.                                                              Ruth 1:16 NASB

On March 4, 1966, my late husband, Carl and I were married in a little Army chapel, just hours before he was deployed. It was nearly a year and half before we saw each other again. Not having grown up together, I barely knew his parents and contemplated waiting until Carl returned home before trying to build a relationship with them, being as I was away at college most of the time.

But thankfully, the Lord nudged me to visit their home on weekends. Carl’s mother was as lonely as I was. We baked cookies and made fudge to send overseas, then we popped popcorn and watched the late movie on TV. We looked through photo albums and talked for hours on end about the person we both loved most—my husband and her son. One night she explained the illness that had been slowly robbing her of life since she was a young adult.

Growing up in a small, coal-mining town, Etta Mae developed severe emphysema and was advised to never have children.  She did anyway—just one. Doctors told her she would never see that child grow up, but Etta Mae had a secret weapon. She trusted a powerful God and had long ago asked Him to allow her to live long enough to raise her son. We talked about it at length. She needed new lungs and in 1966 there were none to be had.

I had only that year with Etta Mae. In the summer of 1967, Carl was called home on an emergency leave as his mother made her way to heaven. I am so thankful I did not put off building a relationship with her. It never would have happened. I’m glad God plopped me in the middle of a lonely mother’s prayers. I flourished under her love before she ever put words to it as she lay in a hospital bed and whispered, “I couldn’t love you more if you were my own daughter.”

My mother-in-law’s faith and tenacity taught me much about God’s promises and loving others. I truly believe that as she sat in that little Army chapel and witnessed Carl and me exchange vows, she whispered to the Lord, “Mission accomplished!” Then she went about teaching me how to love a daughter by marriage with the days she had left, just as Naomi did for her daughter-in-law, Ruth.

I have now been a mother-in-law for twenty-five years and I’m forever grateful for the godly wisdom Etta Mae modeled for me. I’m also thankful that I listened to God’s gentle whisper to build that relationship, even when it was hard. I realize it can be scary to make that first move. To love someone who is different from you or someone you don’t know well. But the Lord has a way of putting people together who need each other.

Whether you are the mom-in-law or daughter-in-love, you both already love the same person and that’s a beginning. Like Ruth and Naomi in the verse above, God has purposed wonderful blessings in our relationships with our in-laws. He’s not just putting people together at random. He’s building a family!

God sets the lonely in families… Psalm 68:6 NIV

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Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and author of four books, including The Gift of Christmas. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly HusbandsLouiseTJ@cox.net http://www.LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: Has God blessed you with a special relationship in your family?

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The Card with a Cross

by Louise Tucker Jones

 “I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand…” Isaiah 51:16 (NIV)

 It was my first time to speak at a Christian Women’s Club and I was a little nervous. I had never shared my testimony in such a format—telling about the difficulties in my life and how God brought me through them. Nor had I ever given a public message of salvation or offered a prayer to pray and become a Christian. I was a novice and it was a little scary.

I wondered how the story of how I coped with my middle son’s death, my youngest son’s disability and heart disease, and my own experience with clinical depression could touch someone’s heart. I thought they would walk out and say, “Whoa, glad that wasn’t me!” But it didn’t happen that way.

At the end of my testimony, I held up a card that each woman had been given when she arrived. As instructed, I asked them to fill out the card then hand it to me on their way out the door. I also asked if they would draw a cross in the corner if they asked Jesus to come into their heart that very day.

Many women stopped on their way out to chat, compliment, or even sympathize as I smiled bravely, thankful the talk was over. Then it happened. A lady placed a card in my hand with a small cross sketched in the upper corner. I couldn’t believe it! God had actually used my words to draw someone to Himself. I had never felt such an awesome experience.

I have spoken at many public venues since that day. But it still amazes me when I find that my message at a retreat or conference or my words on paper have been used by God to draw someone to Him. Each decision is like a love message from God, telling me over and over that He can use any happening in my life to help others.

Though I would never compare myself to the apostle, Paul, his life is a perfect example of this. He was shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, and more, yet he kept preaching and speaking for the Lord, even writing letters to Christians from a prison cell. He never quit proclaiming Christ’s love or telling about the difficult things in his life that God used for others’ good.

Some of us have heart-breaking stories to share, yet we are often tempted to tell only the good things, being fearful that we will make God appear unfaithful through turbulent trials. But in truth, everyone is going through something difficult, and they need to know there is a God who will trudge through that deep valley with them. That He will bring them through the pain, the heartache, and even tragic events in life.

I am honored that God chose me to shine a light for someone walking through a dark tunnel that I once traveled. And in spite of the loneliness or pain that comes my way, I can know that God will bring good from it. Not that the incident was good. But God can and will use it for His glory.

Then, like Paul, we can proclaim: “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, NIV).

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The Card with a Cross – encouragement from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Louise Tucker JonesLouise Tucker Jones is an author, speaker and columnist. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise coauthored the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Extraordinary Kids: Nurturing and Championing Your Child with Special Needs, provides parents with vital information to help celebrate, nurture, and prayerfully champion their special-needs children.

Join the conversation: How has God used you to shine light into the lives of others?

 

 

Finding True Love

by Louise Tucker Jones

Recently, I watched a movie where a young woman was talking with an older gentleman who had been widowed after a lifetime of marriage. “You found your one true love,” she stated.

I love the man’s response. “I know that now,” he said. “But it wasn’t always so clear. Loving someone is the hardest work there is. We messed up plenty…disappointed each other…but never let that keep us apart. It wasn’t true love because it was easy. It was because we worked at it. We fought for it.”

Now that’s love! The kind of love that lasts “till death do us part,” as stated in most wedding vows. And isn’t it interesting that God set the precedent for this kind of love with the forgiving, merciful, selfless love of his Son, Jesus Christ, knowing that “true love” would also require a selfless sacrifice. Otherwise, how could marriage possibly last?

God knew that many of us would need not only His love, but also that of a partner in life. Someone to hold us when this broken world in which we live falls apart and shatters our spirits. Times when we need the arms of human flesh to surround us, even as we hold onto the divine love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV).

Love. It makes us feel safe and secure. It’s starry-eyed romance bound by deep commitment. It’s the arm around you when no one is looking and the sweetness of knowing you belong to each other.

Real love doesn’t come with a Webster definition. It’s a verb—an action word—as well as a noun. And this kind of love…well, it never dies. It doesn’t even grow old. It simply…grows. True love takes us to worlds beyond anything we ever imagined. It trudges through the dark times, races though the ordinary and soars through the extraordinary. It tiptoes quietly into hospital rooms and sits silently in cemeteries when that forever love is carried to heaven on angels’ wings. Love lasts. Love holds. Love lifts.

The Bible tells us that one of the names of God is “I Am,” (Exodus 3:14, NIV), meaning He was, He is and He will be forevermore. Past. Present. Future. Love is like that. True love is precious, like a pearl in an oyster, waiting to be opened and cherished. And if you treat love the way God intended, then you will have a treasure to hold in your heart forever.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.                                                  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

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Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and author of four books, including The Gift of Christmas. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly HusbandsLouiseTJ@cox.net http://www.LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: What other qualities does true love have in your experience?

The Ride

by Louise Tucker Jones

I’m a fan of animated movies. It’s one of the perks of raising a “challenged” child, having watched so many during my son’s youth. And even though, Jay, my adult son with Down syndrome, would now rather watch a rousing WWE video than what he considers to be a kid’s movie, I still enjoy them. And though these films may appear to be simple cartoons, many have wonderful story lines.

One of my favorites is about a horse whose spirit could not be broken, even with all the adversity that came his way. He had been captured from the free plains, and though he eventually found his way home, there were trials and adventures along the way. One scene especially stood out to me. The horse was escaping the enemy with a young Native American brave riding his back. They came to a dead-end cliff that dropped hundreds of feet to a river below—sudden death.

The horse stopped. Backed up. Then set his gaze forward. The young brave whispered, “Oh, no!” as he realized the horse planned to jump the canyon. Would he make it to the other side? We in the audience certainly hoped he would, but I was struck by the rider’s demeanor. Once the plan was in motion, the jump made with horse and rider airborne above the deep chasm, the young brave threw his hands into the air and yelled at the top of his voice. He didn’t know if they would make it, but he was determined to enjoy the moment, the exhilaration of flying through the air to a precarious destination.

Of course, in this fairytale movie, horse and rider are safe and live happily ever after. Life isn’t always like that. But I learned a lesson from that young rider. He took pleasure in that intense, magical moment of the unknown. He didn’t have the assurance that he would land safely on the other side of the gorge, but he still enjoyed the “ride.”

I have to admit that I don’t always celebrate my uncertain moments: those times when God calls me out of my comfort zone. Times when God wants me to abandon myself to His care and “soar,” even if I don’t know the outcome. To revel in the unknown because all is known to Him. Like the young man in the movie, my job is to trust the One who carries me, knowing He is trustworthy. To follow the One who leads me because He never leads me astray.

I’m to give the Lord full reign over my life. Not just my talents or good deeds, but also my insecurities and fears. I’m to put full faith and trust in His word which says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

When I do this, I will safely reach the destination God plans for me, even if it feels a little scary at times. I will live with an assurance that God is always in control. And best of all, I will take joy in the journey and celebrate every moment of the ride.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.                                         Psalm 28:7 NIV

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About the author: Louise Tucker JonesLouise Tucker Jones is an author, speaker and columnist. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise coauthored the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Extraordinary Kids: Nurturing and Championing Your Child with Special Needs, provides parents with vital information to help celebrate, nurture, and prayerfully champion their special-needs children.

Join the conversation: What “uncertain moment” have you experienced that tested your resolve to always trust the Lord? How did it turn out?

Called to be Generous

by Louise Tucker Jones

Blessed are those who are generous… Proverbs 22:9 (NLT)

 My son, Jay, is a Sonic Coke-a-holic. His day is not complete without his Sonic Coke, so I take him every day after lunch. Jay is an adult with Down syndrome and thrives on routine. This one started years ago. Truthfully, I enjoy our outings, and most of the Sonic crew loves seeing his beaming smile. But once in a while, we are served by someone who is in too much of a hurry to appreciate Jay’s exuberance. And sometimes we wait for service a little too long, and I’m tempted not to give that extra tip in my hand.

Then God prompts me to remember the word He dropped into my spirit months ago. GENEROUS. Then I can’t refuse a tip just because I’m impatient. And it isn’t just Sonic where the Lord expects my generosity. He’s challenged me with a whole new meaning to that word.

I’m to be generous in every walk of life, not just in the financial realm. I often hear the Lord remind me to be generous with praise, encouragement, love and kindness. To offer a helping hand without being asked. To compliment one who isn’t expecting it. To be gracious and generous to those unlike me, even if they seem rude.

And here is the biggie. Be generous with forgiveness.

Wait! Does that really fall under the umbrella of generosity? Yes, it does. God expects me to give forgiveness generously. And here’s what I’ve learned. Many times, the hardest person to forgive is myself. Yes. Me. It’s the little things. It’s the big things. Heart-breaking things.

Everything from eating midnight snacks while trying to lose 10 pounds to losing a friend whom I had planned to call to an unexpected death. I too easily pronounce myself guilty and assault my spirit with negative comments.

“What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I listen to my instincts?”

Perhaps you can identify. Sometimes we’re perfectionists. We don’t allow ourselves to make mistakes and pile on accusations when we do. We don’t think of it as egotistical. In fact, we often feel we just didn’t listen well to God. We prayed then made a wrong decision so it must be our fault. And sometimes that’s true, but other times it’s simply being human.

But no matter which, we need to offer the same forgiveness to ourselves that we give to others. We are not on the same spiritual plane as God. We don’t have all the answers. We will make mistakes and when that happens, we need to quickly forgive ourselves, whether we think we deserve it or not.

I can’t imagine King David thinking he deserved forgiveness when his selfish actions caused not only the death of a faithful warrior but also that of his own baby boy (2 Samuel 12). And I wonder if Peter berated himself when he became frightened and began to sink while walking on water to meet Jesus (Matthew 16:29-30).

 The lame, the blind and the sick begged Jesus for healing, but left with more than a healthy body. Why? Jesus forgave their sins as well, just as God forgave David and Peter. As people who want to follow Him, we need to cultivate forgiveness in our hearts—by remembering the grace of God.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) God’s extravagant love frees us to accept ourselves, with all our faults, as well as others. It also produces a grateful heart that is open to all kinds of generosity. Even forgiveness.

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Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and author of four books, including The Gift of Christmas. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands. LouiseTJ@cox.net http://www.LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: Do you have trouble forgiving yourself?

Mourning Peace

by Louise Tucker Jones

 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

It had been several sad and lonely weeks since my three-month-old son, Travis, died suddenly from previously undiagnosed congenital heart disease. In fact, the weeks had now turned into months. The sadness was more than sad, and the grief still so raw, it cut my heart in two. The shock of his death brought me to my knees, as I held onto God with all of my strength.

But now my heart was so broken that I couldn’t even pray. Questions assaulted me. Where was God? Why didn’t He prevent this? What kind of God takes babies from their mothers? I felt totally abandoned, and became so angry I vowed to never pray to God again.

There was just one problem. I had a four-year-old son, Aaron, who missed his brother dearly and would ask me questions daily. “Mommy, what’s Heaven like?” “Mommy, can I go to Heaven and see Travis?” Or, “Mommy, why can’t Daddy go get Travis and bring him home?” These are tough questions, especially when you are mad at God.

I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting Aaron with the bitterness that was consuming me. I had taught him every day of his young life that Jesus loved him, and I couldn’t bear to destroy that faith. I loved my four-year-old son with all of my heart, and seeing him in such grief was more than I could bear. I knew I had to find peace beyond my own grief so that I could be a good mother to Aaron.

Finally, one night, as I lay alone on my bed in the darkened room, I poured out my heart to God—my anger, bitterness and pain. I prayed, “Lord, I have tried to change but I can’t, so if you want me whole again, You will have to do it. But please let me know that my baby is okay. Please heal my broken heart so I can be a good mother to Aaron.”

Suddenly, the room was filled with an almost palpable peace and I heard God speak to my heart, “Louise, Travis is with me. He’s okay. He’s with me.” Then, to my amazement, I felt the weight of my baby son placed against by breast and I could almost smell his precious baby sweetness and feel his soft hair brush against my cheek. I couldn’t open my eyes as tears streamed across my temples, soaking my hair. I lay absolutely still, allowing God to comfort me in a way I had never known as I continued listening to His gentle whisper: “Travis is okay. He’s with me.”

How long I lay in the mighty presence of my loving God, I don’t know. I only know that when I awoke the next morning, the bitterness and anger were gone. I still missed my son, Travis, terribly. I still had no explanation as to “Why?” But I knew I had just had the most intimate encounter with God’s healing love and presence than I had ever experienced in my entire life.

Are you in a place of pain? Even when we can’t understand the why or feel His presence, God promises to never leave us. As David wrote: “He restores my soul…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:3-4 NASB). We will never struggle with pain alone.

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Louise Tucker JonesLouise Tucker Jones is speaker, columnist and award-winning author. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the book, Special Needs—Special Ministry. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Louise’s book, Extraordinary Kids, is a Gold Medallion award winner. It provides parents with vital information to help celebrate, nurture, and prayerfully champion their special-needs children.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced God’s discernible presence? Please share your story!

Wishes and Dreams

by Louise Tucker Jones

I was thirty years old when I gave birth to my youngest child. Jay was quickly diagnosed with Down syndrome and congenital heart disease. My little bundle of joy was a very sick baby. His immune system just didn’t kick in.

It was only the beginning of discouraging news. Time after time, year after year, we were given a devastating prognosis for our son. I often feared the worst, having already lost one child to heart disease. But apparently Jay wasn’t listening to all of the “doom and gloom” reports from doctors. He went right on living his life to the fullest.

This year, my son, who was never expected to live into adolescence, celebrated his 43rd birthday. I call that a miracle! God grants them at times, you know. He also granted some wishes and dreams along the way. One took place on Jay’s 30th birthday.

Of course, we planned a huge party for such a milestone in his life. I puzzled over a gift for this momentous occasion. What would be really special? Finally, I did the obvious—asked Jay what he wanted. His answer surprised me. Along with a new necktie for his 200 plus collection (believe me, he is the best-dressed guy at church), Jay wanted a limo ride to Sonic.

Jay’s favorite thing in the world is a Coke from Sonic. We go every single day to fill that order. No hamburger and fries. No ice cream. Just a medium-size Coke. And on his 30th birthday, he wanted a limousine to pick him up and take him to Sonic for that Coke. He got it!

So why am I telling you a story about a young man with Down syndrome and severe, irreparable heart disease who wanted a limo ride to Sonic for his birthday? Because Jay dared to dream during those years that doctors told us he would never live. He made wishes that might seem unusual to some, but he didn’t let that bother him. He never let anyone or anything steal his joy or rob him of his zest for life.

Unlike Jay, I sometimes lose hope. Grief and sadness steal my joy. Maybe you know that feeling. During trying times God often encourages us to revisit past wishes or dust off old dreams. In fact, He may ask us to dream new dreams. Granted, it’s risky. I’m right there with you, trying to build a future in this new life called “widowhood.” I can’t describe how difficult it is. I never expected to be single in this world again.

But I’m trying to fulfill a promise to my late husband, Carl, who upon diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, requested that everything be done for the glory of God, just as we are instructed to do in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV): “…Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

 And it is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone.

How about you? Are you in an uncomfortable place? Do you struggle with an unexpected happening or detour in your life? Perhaps you are measuring your performance against others rather than God’s standards. That will definitely rob us of our hopes and dreams. But God knows our heart’s desires and designed dreams especially for each of us.

I love the lyrics to a song in the animated movie, Cinderella. It says, “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” So, how about it? Ready to make a heart-wish? Be like Jay and wish big. And bring that request to God.

Take Carl’s advice and do all things for God’s glory. Don’t allow anyone to steal your hopes or your dreams. And who knows? We just might see you at Sonic in a limo!

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us… Ephesians 3:20 NIV

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Louise Tucker JonesLouise Tucker Jones is speaker, columnist and award-winning author. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the book, Special Needs—Special Ministry. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Louise’s book, Extraordinary Kids, is a Gold Medallion award winner. It provides parents with vital information to help celebrate, nurture, and prayerfully champion their special-needs children.

Join the conversation: When is the last time you dreamed big?

Silver and Gold – Learning to Enjoy the Moment

by Louise Tucker Jones

I can’t believe that Christmas is just around the corner. When I think of all the shopping I need to do and the events I need to attend, I become overwhelmed. Then suddenly, I hear Burl Ives, as that squinty-eyed, smiling snowman, crooning Silver and Gold. Immediately  my thoughts wander back to an extraordinary moment at Special Olympics several years ago.

My son, Jay, was competing in the state events at Stillwater, Oklahoma. He was positioned at the starting line of the 25-meter walk, having retired from the 50-yard dash due to the progression of his heart disease. Everyone was poised to take off, including Jay with fingers stuffed in his ears to muffle the sound of the gunshot that signaled the beginning. Never having been a quick starter, Jay surprised everyone as he immediately began his gentle, easy gait toward the finish line, being careful to stay in his own lane. Slow and steady often wins the race, and Jay had moved far enough ahead that he was obviously the favored one in this heat.

As he neared the finish line the volunteer on the other side called out excitedly, “Come on, Jay. You can do it!” Just steps away from the gold, the crowd in the bleachers came to their feet. What an event! This would be Jay’s first medal. Then suddenly, Jay stopped, turned to the people in the stands and bowed to their applause, allowing another walker to slip right by him and win the gold medal.

What a moment! No one knew whether to laugh or cry. No one except Jay. He turned and walked across the finish line, into the arms of the hugger, and captured the silver medal. He was delighted as he received the award. He didn’t care what color it was or which place he stood on the platform. He was a winner, and he was having fun.

When I think of that moment, I am so proud of Jay for not rushing across the finish line to grab the coveted gold medal. I’m glad he stopped along the way, enjoyed the applause of the crowd, reveled in the moment, and sent a message of thanks to those cheering him on.

What a perfect mindset for Christmas. We don’t need to be so obsessed with shopping and attending every event we can fit into our schedules that we are exhausted before the holiday arrives. Like Jay, we need to stop and enjoy the moment, to revel in the season, and remember what we are celebrating—the holy birth of Jesus Christ.

Once we get our minds off the busyness around us, our hearts are free to worship. When we give thanks to the One who gave His life for us, we have a greater capacity to love others and to share wonderful gifts of joy, friendship, kindness, song, and laughter, which makes Christmas a much happier and brighter day.

So how about it? Are we going to run as fast as we can, or, like Jay, will we stop and enjoy the journey? Will we bow to the Christ Child and the applause of heavenly angels? Can we joyfully accept our place on this platform of life without envy? God has a place and a plan for each of us. His love is perfect and His gifts are worth more than silver or gold.

 “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.” Acts 3:6 (NIV)

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Louise Tucker Jones

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones is an award-winning author, speaker and columnist. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise coauthored the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids, with Cheri Fuller. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Join the conversation: What moments have you stopped to enjoy this holiday season?

A Hallmark Christmas

by Louise Tucker Jones

I know Christmas is around the corner when I see those heart-tugging, tear-jerking Hallmark card commercials on TV. I almost had one of those Hallmark moments several years ago. At least, I thought I was going to have one. My prodigal daughter had come home for the holiday, and as I watched her stroll through the living room, lingering at the Christmas tree and touching ornaments her little hands had made, I hoped she was remembering good times. Special times.

Then suddenly, she walked into the kitchen.

I stopped what I was doing and turned toward her, noting the look of remembrance on her face. “Mom, do you remember…” I held my breath, certain this was the moment I had been waiting for. That priceless connection. Then she finished. “Mom, do you remember when you swatted that huge, weird-looking spider and baby spiders flew all over the place?” Did she really ask that? Yes, she did! It caught me off-guard. I was stunned. Shocked, in fact. And yes, I remembered the incident, but certainly not with fondness. A Hallmark moment it wasn’t!

The truth is, most of our lives are not made up of Hallmark moments. Most of our lives are a mix of the ordinary—the good, the bad, and everything in between. People are out there experiencing one thing or another. For every death being grieved there is a birth being celebrated. While one household is deafeningly empty and lonely, another is bursting at the seams with generations of family.

Being a person who ponders things, I find myself asking God the big question. Why? Why does He seem to bless one person, family or country and not another? Why does one person die from cancer while another survives? Why is one couple blessed with half dozen children and another remains childless? Why is a teenager cut down in the prime of life by a drunken driver? Why do evil people make shooting galleries of our schools? I have no answer to these questions or a thousand more.

The Christmas season can be a real trigger of past painful events. We miss loved ones who are no longer with us. We remember Christmases gone by and regret that our present is not nearly as happy as our past.

I know those feelings all too well. But I also know there is a God in heaven who has not forgotten us. He sent his Son to this earth that first Christmas, over 2,000 years ago. Jesus came so that we might have life and love, even in our most difficult times. Life in Him—not in a Holiday. Love in Christ—not in Christmas.

God’s love is not conditional on our emotions. Our circumstances will never predict or dictate God’s character. His eternal love, mercy and grace can invade our hearts and penetrate our souls, no matter what phase of life we might be experiencing. His presence reaches beyond the holidays.

The popular saying, “Jesus is the reason for the season” actually holds true. And the best news of all—Jesus promises to be with us forever. Not just at Christmas but for eternity. What an amazing gift!

“And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20 (KJV)

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A Hallmark Christmas isn’t Realistic – Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker JonesAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist, and author of four books, including The Gift of Christmas. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down Syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids, with Cheri Fuller. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Join the conversation: For what gift of God are you most thankful?