Unite the USA
12/24/14 at 12:22 PM 0 Comments

Christmas In America

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A tired WWII veteran looked up from his recliner and made eye contact with me. The time had finally come to share vivid memories of the war: "I heard my friend, only 19-years-old like me; he screamed, 'My legs are gone!' Then I stepped on a mine. I felt it tear into me. I prayed...not so much for myself, but for my family...my mom, my dad. I lived...but [my friend] died..." Such sacrifice deserves our appreciation. Let's recognize that freedom isn't free. Today, let's pause and pray for our veterans. "I fought for the right to say 'Merry Christmas'." The veteran made eye contact and his eyes displayed the signature acute, astute gaze of a hero. My family and I reflected later on how poignant was that quote and that moment.

Veterans fought for our freedoms -including the freedom to celebrate Christmas. This veteran vividly reminded us of that fact. Powerful.

Take a moment. Picture Christmas. Food covers red and green themed tables, which are surrounded by talkative and laughing loved ones. Faith, hope, and love saturate songs in the background. Aromas of cinnamon and savory meats fill the air. Bliss.

But what about Christmas for veterans, their families, and the troops? Well, it's not always such a pretty picture. And that's putting it mildly.

Today, WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veterans fill nursing homes and hospitals. Many simply don't have families in their area. Some have families who forsook them because of war-related and military-related heartaches. Regardless of why, many veterans experience loneliness and post-traumatic stress related challenges that few can truly understand.

But the good news? You can make a difference to help make Christmas better for our nation's heroes! Even now you can do something.

No veteran's room should be bare. For incentive, take some time to think about what they gave for you: For many, violence took away their previous innocence. Many saw their friends blown up in front of them. That does something to a human being.

They sacrificed their home lives. They spent (and still spend) many holidays alone so that you can have the freedom to gather with your loved ones.

Ready to do something for them now? Good! We have some suggestions:

Call your loved ones who served.

Offer to Skype with them or help them Skype with their loved ones.

E-mail a nursing home in your area and ask the activity director to read out loud your e-mail to veterans in the nursing home.

Have your children draw colorful scenes to express love and appreciation.

Order a pizza and have it sent to the veteran, if possible.

The main thing is to do something. And that little something will be so much better than nothing, and it just could mean everything to a veteran.

Jesus, the ultimate freedom-Giver, laid down His life for us to be set free from the tyranny of sin and death. He said, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13, ESV). Our nation's heroes were willing to lay down their lives for us. The least we can do is to lay aside some time and resources to make them feel loved and appreciated.

Near Christmas, let us all share with veterans the truth about Jesus and the love of Jesus through actions and words.

Sharing about Jesus and His Love with a Veteran:

Freedom from sin and death wasn't free either: Jesus paid the price for you and me. Yes, Jesus died for us to be set free from sin. But, in order to trade our sin for a Heavenly win, we must come to the Giver of true life: Jesus Christ. "Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free]" (Matthew 20:28, AMP).

Jesus fought our battle for freedom when He took our capital punishment on the cross. He bled so we wouldn't. He paid what we couldn't. He conquered the enemy - including sin and death.

Near holidays, a lot of drinking occurs. But nothing drowns our sorrows forever. We need true spiritual water. Consider this amazing Scripture combo: "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" (Ps. 42:1). Jesus quenches the thirst: "But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life" (John 4:14, AMP).

At Christmastime, we often ignore whom we should most adore: Jesus. Will you personally invite Jesus into your heart today? Will you receive His gift of eternal life and turn from trying to do things your way?

His battle-scarred hands reach out to you now. His beautiful, loving heart invites you to know true love and life in Him. Will you open your heart to His? Will you ignore or adore Him today? Remember: Jesus alone holds the power to set you free. "So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free." (John 8:36, AMP).

-Stacie Ruth Stoelting, Cofounder of UnitetheUSA.org and PrayingPals.org

P.S. If you want to learn more about receiving Jesus as your ultimate freedom-giving Savior and Lord, click here: http://prayingpals.org/knowgod.html.

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