Wednesday, December 17, 2014

JoAnn Durgin | Spread the Christmas Joy

--> In the early mid-1990s, we traveled from Philadelphia to spend Christmas with my in-laws in Carver, Massachusetts (a beautiful area smack dab in the middle of the cranberry bogs). At the time, our oldest daughter, Sarah, was about four and our daughter, Chelsea, was a year old (son Matthew would come along in 1996). So, we packed up the car, and over the river and through the woods we went. . .quite literally.

We had a great time visiting with our family in Massachusetts (we also later moved to the Boston area), the kids played with their cousins, and we caught up with one another as we wrapped gifts, baked pies, cookies and other goodies, and darted off for some inevitable last-minute shopping. Everything was great until Christmas morning. After I heard my mother-in-law cry “Oh, no!” from the kitchen, I ran to see what was happening. “This ham is full of fat!” she said. “I can’t serve this!” My husband’s sweet mother is a fabulous cook, and she’s spent a good portion of her life in the kitchen. Bless her heart, she was so horrified and embarrassed. She kept saying, “I should have checked the ham. Why didn’t I check the ham?” Like most of us, she’d been immersed in all the busy activities of getting ready for Christmas. Perfectly understandable.

We all tried to convince Mom that everything would be fine, and she asked if we could see if there was someplace locally where we could find a replacement ham, turkey, or something. Anything. We made a few calls with no success. Finally, someone suggested “Let’s go Chinese!” Mom’s eyes opened wide as the rest of us looked at each other, waiting to see how she’d respond. Finally, Mom smiled and said, “All right, then. Let’s go Chinese.”

So, off we go…to Fall River, Massachusetts. Let me tell you, the Chinese restaurant wasn’t crowded, and we got lots of personal attention from the staff and servers. The kids had a ball, and the adults enjoyed a great dinner without worrying about preparation, dishes or clean-up. Then we all went back home to spend the rest of our Christmas in Carver, our tummies full of food and our minds filled with fun memories of a very special day.

To this day, “Let’s go Chinese!” remains an annual Christmas tradition for my in-laws. Sometimes our plans don’t work out the way we intended. Being flexible is something a lot of people have to learn, and it’s certainly easier for some than others. Events and trips may be postponed, expectations may not be met, and hopes may fade, but you know what? No matter what may come, we can rest assured that the Lord has it all under His control and in His perfect timing. We’re all guilty at one time or another of trying to take the reins—in essence, telling God, “This is how it’s going to be.” No, friends, it’s not.

Whenever I find myself trying to order my life without first spending time with the Lord in prayer, neglecting to present it to Him and ask for His guidance, I often fail. At the very least, I’m often disappointed in the results. The Lord is always there. He wants to hear your concerns, and He wants you to talk with Him like you do with a personal friend. You’ll find no better friend.

Romans 8:28: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (NASB)

JoAnn Durgin
Matthew 5:16

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--> JoAnn Durgin is the author of five novels (and counting) in the popular Lewis Legacy Series, as well as Catching Serenity, and Echoes of Edinburgh, and the Starlight Christmas Series: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Starlight, Star Bright, and Sleigh Ride Together with You. JoAnn lives with her husband and three children in southern Indiana and loves to hear from her readers at or

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