Merry Christmas in Heaven, Dad!
One of the best things about Christmas is finding the perfect, special gift for the special person in your life. I think I was about 9 years old when I recall having the opportunity to buy gifts for my family members. I can remember my mom picking us up after school and driving us to the variety store where we were given our allowance (and maybe a little financial assistance) and freedom to purchase whatever we wanted and could afford for our sisters and parents. I could always find something for mom and my sisters, but finding a gift for my dad was a different story. That is until the year of the pet rocks. I can’t remember who bought the first one, but I remember his reaction as he unwrapped the first pet rock. His laughter was contagious and because he apparently loved pet rocks, the poor guy ended up getting pet rocks for his birthday, father’s day, and probably even the following Christmas until the laughter stopped (kind of …) at his disgust upon receiving “another damn pet rock”. By that time, he had his own personal collection of pet rocks. Just what every dad needs or wants.
Looking back, this was probably what started my quest in finding gifts that made him laugh for his laughter was truly a gift to me. It is a gift that I miss to this date. He had the best laugh. It would start as a quiet chuckle as he remembered something that was said earlier in the day or in years gone by. Soon his quiet chuckle would lead to an infectious giggle as tears rolled from his eyes. Most of the time, we never knew (nor did we want to know) what it was that made him laugh. And it didn’t matter … his laughter along with his sense of humor was the best.
Our last earthly Christmas together was in 2011. By this time, my dad was 83 years old and like any other 83 year old dad, he had everything that he could possibly want or need so finding a gift for him was difficult. The gift ended up being a box of his favorite soft drink with an attached gift card. Not very creative but I knew he would enjoy it. And since the gift was not very creative or exciting, I decided that a creative wrapping job was in order. Armed with every plastic grocery sack that I could muster and a roll of rubber bands and duct tape, I set about wrapping his 12-pack of coke … giggling in anticipation at his soon-to-be reaction as he attempted to unwrap the gift. I could barely hold back my laughter as he started to unwrap the gift. Tears of laughter flowed from his eyes as he pulled out his trusty pocket-knife and called me a “dirty bird”. After mounds of plastic wrap and rubber bands, he eventually revealed his 12-pack of coke and pocketed the gift card. The perfect, special gift for a special person. I miss him.
I would imagine laughter in Heaven is just as contagious as sweet memories of pet rocks and plastic wrap are shared between Jesus and my dad. Merry Christmas, dad! You are missed and loved but I know that you are finally celebrating the most Perfect, Special Gift. And that makes me smile.
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
"Do you remember me? Last year you prayed for me when I was having a really rough time. Do you remember that?” I did remember. This beautiful, petite young woman who cried in my office as she revealed the circumstances behind the tears and as she exposed her broken heart...I held her hands as we prayed words of comfort and strength. Words of faith and love. Words of hope in a season of uncertainty. After praying with her, I held her in my arms and she cried on my shoulder. Yes, I remembered her.
Today, after the sermon message of an Unexpected King, she approached me … again with tears in her eyes. This beautiful, petite young woman who wanted to thank and to hug ME. She’s in a better place today but not because of me. God unexpectedly places people in our lives every day. People who need comfort and strength. People who need faith and love. People who need hope. People who need God. God knows and He loves. And because He is who He is ... He unexpectedly places us in situations and in the paths of others so that He may communicate His love through our actions and through our words. Every day.
Two thousand years ago, God unexpectedly revealed Himself in a most unexpected way. Because He knows. And He loves. Even today. Who has God unexpectedly placed in your path? Come thou long expected Jesus.
Staci J. Allen has more than 15 years of experience teaching and working with preschoolers. She currently serves as the Director of Caring Ministries at The Summit Church. Staci and her husband Rick live in Lee's Summit, Missouri, and enjoy spending time with their adult children and grandchildren.