Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Blessing in These Mountains

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

I remember like it was yesterday that Thursday morning of March 8th, 1984 when I embraced within my own heart this Christ Child, this Saviour Who gave me the gift of eternal life.
I love the Christmas season so much not only because of the reason we celebrate it but for the wonderful time of family and traditions, and the sharing of gifts as a way of remembering God’s Gift to us so long ago.
I have oft said how very blessed my husband and I are that God planted us up here in Misty Hollow in the foothills of Roan Mountain in Carter County, Tennessee
It did not come as a surprise when this Christmas season brought forth more incredible insight into the kindness of the people who are part of the fabric of our lives up here.
I have the privilege of knowing a special woman named Della Sue Davenport.
Della Sue works as a cook at Captain Jack’s, a local grocery/gas/ fast food store serving country cooking as well as a favorite gathering hole that is known for the best broasted chicken in these parts. This gal Della Sue has a heart of gold and a reputation for being the first to jump in and offer to help when there is a need, any need. She is also loath to take any credit for her labors.
Another precious woman I have come to know is Jennifer Johnson. Jennifer, also known as someone who will give you the shirt off her back, is a real mover and shaker up here in these mountains as well. She, for years, has been the engine of Create-a-Smile, a local organization that seeks out underprivileged children in Carter County to assure they are not forgotten at Christmas.
Jennifer’s annual contact with various principals in the Carter County School System provides a list of needy children, and the organization takes one school each Christmas. Create-a-Smile has served up to 158 children in one year, thanks to Jennifer and her team of dedicated volunteers.
I was unaware that Della Sue and Jennifer were united together in the Create-a-Smile project until I stopped in at Captain Jack’s about three weeks ago. Della Sue walked from behind the ‘hot bar’ where she had been serving up great food and told me she was involved with helping collect money for the project. Would I care to give?
She also told me she would, like always if weather permitted, be delivering the gifts to this year’s chosen school in her wagon pulled by her work horses. Would I like to pile on and help distribute the gifts?
I was heartsick I would be out of town that particular day. Grandfather Don had graciously invited Tony and me to join him on a winter golf trip. Otherwise, I would be on that wagon with bells on.
I left Captain Jack’s that morning though and could not stop thinking of those two women, the rest of the team and the project they were working on. I was touched over how they harnessed their love and drew together in the sacrifice of giving; it was incredible how much they accomplished. I knew they all had families of their own, yet they took this particularly busy time of the year to focus on those needy kids.
As I thought of their sacrifice, I could not help but think of the plight of our world in today’s challenging times and the selflessness of a great God who loved His earthly family so much that He sent His Son as a baby in a manger. One day that same babe so willingly hung on a cross for this helplessly lost and needy world.
While away on my trip I still thought about Create-a-Smile and wondered how it was all coming together for the kids and their big Christmas party coming up. I would wake up in the middle of the night and, coffee in hand, slip out on the back deck of our condo. The first night there I was stunned to be met by an incredible display of shooting stars. There were more in that one night than I had seen in my lifetime.
And I, in awe of the Creator’s light display, began to think of a favorite old Christmas carol, We Three Kings. I hummed the chorus quietly into the darkness… O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect Light.

I don’t think I will ever again string those tiny white lights on my Christmas tree that I don’t remember they too have a significant reason. They will remind me of the stars shining that night long ago as a backdrop to The Star I place on top of the tree, all symbolic of how those kings were guided to ‘thy perfect Light.'
The big day of the Christmas party for the kids finally arrived and was held right after school let out for the day. I, still on my golf trip, thought about those kids throughout the day and those blessed to help. After the party was over I called Della Sue; I wanted to hear every detail.
Della Sue said the party was a big success. The kids were served pizza from Captain Jack’s, and there was, of course, a visit from Santa. There were brown paper bags handed out filled with oranges, tangerines, apples, chewing gum and all sorts of ‘ole time candy.'
The children receiving help this year were thrilled and obviously grateful for the generosity of the gifts. Each child received a bicycle, helmet, and games. All were given underwear, shoes, socks, coats, and gloves. Each boy and girl had submitted a ‘wish list’of toys they really liked, and the team had been able to meet those wishes as well. To top it off, each one received a big Christmas stocking filled with toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, hand sanitizer and other goodies.

It is my understanding this is basically what is given to the children at the chosen school each year, so this fundraiser is no small task; fundraising is usually a year-long event. It speaks well of the generosity of the precious people of Carter County. What a blessing to be living among them.
As I close, I can assure you of this, God willing.
I told Della Sue regarding next year and the Create-a-Smile Christmas project…put me in, coach! I want to work heart-to-heart with this awesome group of people with such generous spirits.
Waking up very early this Christmas morning, I slipped out on the front porch here at Bear Cabin. It was dark, but the property lights showed the fog slowly rolling in at Misty Hollow. I glanced upward, and through the naked trees, I saw glimpses of the sky and patches of clouds. Suddenly there was a break in the clouds and... wait! Is that an unusually large star?! The child within me wanted to believe it was the Star of Bethlehem proclaiming His birth. Regardless, my heart burst forth with a new song…
Joy to the world!
The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let ev'ry heart prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing!
I pray each of you, my dear readers, have a blessed and joyful Merry Christmas.

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