The Oil Of Gladness.

Over this past week my calendar has been filled to the brim with service projects and Christmas events.  Each has been special in its own way, but one will take its place in my heart and remain there for this lifetime.

On Saturday I parked my car alongside a curb in the lovely Heritage Hills historic neighborhood here in OKC.  I was an invited guest for the Photo Day at the Lindseys' - a tradition the Lindsey family brought with them when they recently relocated to OKC from Austin, Texas.

As I shut my car door, my eyes widened with wonder and butterflies danced in my stomach.  The Lindseys' home was indeed a winter wonderland.  Icicles, ice-skates, an Eiffel Tower.  Mistletoe, merry elves, and a mailbox for letters to Santa.  Not a detail was missed.  

I walked down the sidewalk to the driveway and was greeted by a team of joyful hosts, all wearing lime green Santa caps that had their names embroidered on the fold.  It was then that I met Karen, (Mrs. Claus Lindsey), the lady that dreamed up this whole celebration.  She brought me right inside her house to sample some warm cider (she had me at hello!) and it was there in her kitchen, as she poured, that I asked her how this day of merriment all began.

She met my question with a gracious smile. "Well, not too long ago, I lost my three children and my father in a car accident.  I had recently gone through a divorce and they were all the family I had."  Her oldest child was 9.  My heart was overwhelmed.  Hand painted elves, tufted ribbon, happy reindeer.  All from a wealth of brokenness.

Over those sips of cider she shared with me her sorrow.  She barely left her home in the first year after the accident, and as she contemplated suicide one afternoon, a call from a pastor was enough to help her hold on.  He reminded her that her children were now part of that 'great cloud of witnesses' we read about in Hebrews, and that they needed to see her living a different life, one that was far from what she had been living in that past year.  After hearing his words her tears flowed throughout that dark day, but she put away the blue-handled knife and took as step into a life she had never known.  As she journeyed further, she realized she needed a new way to celebrate Christmas.  A time that had once been so full of joy was now so full of reminders of her most painful losses.

So every year she turns her home into the stuff dreams are made of.  And she plays hostess to countless little ones who each bring a new toy to share with another child in need.  And Santa chuckles and poses for photos, and popcorn is popped and brownies are devoured.

And Karen Lindsey has a testimony that proves a Savior was born.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of the Christ to come with these words:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
(Isaiah 61:1-4 ESV)
Born in Bethlehem.  Swaddled in a manger.  So that He could comfort all who mourn.  So that He could lavishly pour the oil of gladness over Karen Lindsey, giving her a garment of praise and beauty for ashes.  He confirmed that mission as He spoke the prophet's words again in Luke 4.

In the Lindsey home tonight it is a mission accomplished.

Emmanuel.  God with us.  God with Karen.  Glory to Him in the highest.


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