A Heavenly Hug

A Heavenly Hug

Today’s post is from my friend Cherrilynn Bisbano. She is part of my weekly Christmas posts. Her story is precious and amazing. It is truly a story of God’s love for us–working through a child. Please enjoy her story!

Merry Christmas!

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.

Psalm 31:24

“Your son saved my life,” my friend whispered to me after the church service.

     A few days earlier we were at a Christmas Dinner together and my then eight-year-old son ran to her and gave her a big hug. Bonnie welcomed his interruption. I was curious why he clung to my friend because he did not hug strangers. Bonnie held tight. I deduced it was because I was standing with her and, after all, it was Christmas.

     “What do you mean, my son saved your life?” I touched her arm.

  My friend shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “Remember the party when your son ran hugged me?”

“Yes. Is that the first time you met him?” 

Placing her hand on top of the table to steady herself, she shared.

     “Yes, that was the first time. My life is horrible—my daughter and grandchildren don’t want me around for Christmas, and I am devastated. I was seriously thinking of ending it all. When your son hugged me, I felt the love of Jesus. I knew I would be OK. He truly saved my life”

I was speechless. We hugged, cried, and parted ways.

While driving home, I asked my son if he had met my friend before.

“No mommy, I like her; she is nice.”

“So, Michael, why did you run to hug her? I know you don’t hug people unless you know them?”

“Oh Mommy, God told me to do it!”

Tears of joy wet my cheeks as I praised God for my son’s courage.

The angel Gabriel interrupted Mary’s wedding preparation. He told her not to fear. He proclaimed she would conceive the Messiah.

“The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.”

Luke 1:30 NASB

Mary’s Courage

She revealed courage when she declared,

“Behold, the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

She did not question the angel about the consequences of her holy pregnancy. The results could have lifelong ramifications if no one believed her. Her marriage could end, and people would have labeled her an adulterer and a liar.

Bravery led Mary on a spectacular journey.

God calls us to be courageous. The word in the original language is: ‘amats confirm, be courageous of good courage, steadfastly minded, to prevail.

I learned from my son that listening to God and believing is life-changing.

What is God calling you to do today?

Take Courage.

Meet Cherrilynn Bisbano

Cherrilynn is an award-winning writer, speaker, and coach. She loves encouraging her brothers and sister to stand firm and shine for Jesus. She is an expert in Book Proposals and memoirs. Her book Shine Don’t Whine is helping many women overcome fear, anxiety, perfectionism, and worry. She considers it an honor to be published twice in Chicken Soup for the Soul-; Award-winning books, Kiss Guilt GoodBye, Heart Reno, Breaking the Chains, and Get to the Margins Author’s

Anthology. She is a monthly contributor to Arise Daily Devotions, Blue Ridge Writers Blog, and VineWords.net.

Cherrilynn proudly served in the military for twenty years, earning the John Levitow Military leadership award. She lives with her seventeen-year-old son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 23 years, Michael, Sr. She loves Christ, chocolate, coffee, and cats.

CONNECT WITH CHERILYNN BISBANO AT

Website: https://cherrilynnbisbano.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cherrilynnbisbano/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cherrilynn3/

Twitter @bisbanowrites

 LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/cherrilynn-bisbano-569b8838/

Shine Don’t Whine

tinyurl.com/shinedontwhine

Long Expected- Hope Fulfilled

Long Expected- Hope Fulfilled

For the month of December, you will see more posts than usual in your email. This month I wanted to celebrate Christ’s birth by getting some friends to share a story or posts this month.

I have six guest posts for the month of December. I hope you enjoy their stories as much as I did.

This week’s post is from Sharon Beth Brani. She writes a beautiful story of adoption–after many years of waiting for a child, she gets a Christmas miracle. Please enjoy her story.

The Wait

I spun the globe as I sat on the living room rug. “Where do you want to go?” the social worker had asked.

    The question puzzled me. Where? After many, many years of longing to hold my own sweet-smelling baby, it almost seemed foolish to think about. A broken marriage and, along with it, dashed dreams of that happy family. Where? That wasn’t the question. It was more if God would choose to bless me. Up till now, the answer had been no.

     “Lord, I’m willing to go anywhere,” I whispered aloud. With that, the adoption wheels rolled and now I was sitting in a small room upstairs in the Russian orphanage with three other couples. Waiting. Longing. Simply.

The clock ticked slowly on this Christmas Eve.

     My thoughts wandered back to my family in the states. I knew they were praying for me as I completed the adoption of my 6-month-old daughter. The tension was great. We waited for the signal to quietly get our little ones and slip them out of the orphanage into the frigid cold—waiting to catch the overnight train back to Moscow—waiting to get everything completed so we could bring our children home.

    On this Christmas Eve many years ago, the waiting was painful—the longing even more so. Would disappointment win again?

     The clock ticked slowly, and I watched as the hands moved to 11:00 pm. When would they give the signal? Would this be the Christmas I’d remember for always?

    Many years ago, Jesus was born into this dark and hurting world. He came. Quietly. Simply. While the world slept, all the angels sang, “Glory to God in the Highest.” The long waiting was over — Hope was fulfilled.

   Many years ago, Jesus was born into this dark and hurting world. He came. Quietly. Simply. While the world slept, all the angels sang, “Glory to God in the Highest.” The long waiting was over — Hope was fulfilled. #ThisSideofHeaven #SharonBethBrani #LongExpectedHopeFulfilled

 Hope Fulfilled

     11:45pm.

I rubbed my hands together and caught the anxious eyes of another mom-to-be. We were all tense.

    Suddenly, the door opened, and the Russian facilitator gave a simple nod. My heart jumped.

    Joseph knew when it was time. He never forgot it.

    Mary knew and leaned in with all her trust in her Lord.

    And I knew.

    I followed the others up the darkened steps to the baby room. Then the nurse stepped out into the hall and put the warm, sleepy body of my baby girl in my arms. Quickly, I removed her Russian clothes and dressed her in a new pink traveling outfit. Wrapping her in a soft pink blanket, I picked her up and walked down the hallway to the door. The door that led to life. And love. And a whole new world.

    The cold hit my face as I carefully walked down the steps into the night. And my heart kept saying, “Thank you, God. Thank you for this amazing gift. Glory to God.”

    Suddenly, the wonder of what was happening filled my soul, and I glanced heavenward. It seemed at that moment as if I was all alone with God. Snowflakes circled me and pure joy overcame my soul.

    Then I heard the softest sound that seemed like music. I listened carefully as more snowflakes fell around me. Then I heard it again. It seemed like the sound of angels singing. Once more, God had broken into the darkness, giving hope. A hope that would forevermore change not only my life but the lives of many around the world. My heart overflowed and still does with the wonder of His faithfulness and forever love.

Meet Sharon Beth Brani

Sharon Brani is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia, a Board Certified Coach, an educator, published freelance writer, and speaker whose life is committed to helping people discover the way life is meant to be.

She gets excited teaching people how to develop a greater sense of purpose, peace, and passion in their lives.

Sharon is the mother of two daughters whom she adopted from Russia. As a nurturer, she is well equipped to coach parents at every stage of the adoption process. Her personal experience as a single parent as well as her career as a teacher for over twenty years gives her a rich foundation from which to counsel, coach, and consult.

Her book: The Unforgettable Christmas Journey

sharonbranicoaching@yahoo.com

Facebook/Instagram: Sharon Brani CoachingWebsite: https://heartprintscoaching.com/

Mary’s Song

Mary’s Song

Please enjoy this Christmas post by my friend Diane Virginia Cunio.

While shoppers hurried into the mall to escape the winter winds, I was acutely aware of one man who, instead, was ambling to the entrance, methodically tapping his cane. He touched the door. Then he paced ten steps away. Dropping to his knees, he placed his hat on the ground for tips and pulled an instrument from his tattered jacket. With flute in hand, the man played Silent Night, The First Noel, and Drummer Boy. I was enthralled by his passion, and the angelic sound resonating from his instrument. Passersby stopped long enough to listen.

As people returned to the scurry of activities that so easily defines the Christmas season, I remained. A mother dropped a coin in the man’s overturned hat. A teenager handed the flutist a water bottle. It was my chance to talk to him.

“Excuse me, sir,” I said, “Do you play secular songs, too?”

“Naw. They don’t interest me.”

“I thought you’d say that. So, why do you play?”

“Fer Him.”

“For Jesus?”

“Uh huh.”

“Does anybody ever take your money? I mean, you wouldn’t know it seeing as…”

“I sees those that takes with me ears. But, if all they wants is the coins, they can have ‘em. I play ‘cause I want ‘em to have a song in they’s heart like I’s got in mine.”

“Thank you, sir. I’d ask you to play me another song, but I don’t have cash…”

“Set yerself down. I’s playin’ fer ya.”

With that instruction, I sat. The flutist played Mary Did You Know. I felt a warmth erase the cold wind whipping onto the sidewalk from the nearby alley.

I learned something that day. Although the gentleman was blind and poor, his spirit was free. The song of the Lord that resided within the flutist gave him a joy no one could take.

Let’s talk about Mary. Why did God choose her to birth the Savior? She, as the flutist, trusted God to direct the course of her life. She believed God sent the Angel Gabriel who appeared to her during her prayer time. She permitted the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit as He placed a Son within her virgin womb; “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35b KJV) She believed Gabriel’s report and made haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth who also was with child.

The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:

therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35b KJV

Because of Mary’s reliance upon God, the Bible records her as being the most highly favored woman; “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” (Luke 1:28b KJV)

There is one more characteristic about Mary that made her God’s choice. She, as the flutist, had a song in her heart that no one could take away. Her song, The Magnificat, also known as The Canticle of Mary, is a declaration of her beliefs about God (see Luke 1:46-56).

What did Mary sing? She sang about being surprised to learn she was God’s humble and favored servant who would give birth to the Savior. She glimpsed the impact of Christ’s birth—that it would bless not only her generation, but ours as well. Expectedly, she sang about God’s sovereignty.

Mary’s simple faith reminds me of the flutist’s. He was not concerned about the troubles around him. He had no sight—he used other methods to ‘see.” His coat was threadbare—he did not focus on the weather. People stole his offerings—silver was not his motivation. Rather than focusing on these outward things, the flutist concentrated on expressing the song within his spirit. Sharing his talent with others brought him satisfaction. And perhaps, this humble flutist is—like Mary—chosen, favored, and blessed. And, may I suggest to you, that when we focus on King Jesus rather than on our circumstances, God’s favor descends upon us as well?

Would Mary have a difficult journey? Sure, she would, and she knew that. But, she kept a song in her heart when the challenges came. As gossipers talked about Mary’s premarital pregnancy, she kept singing. When she and Joseph fled from wicked King Herod, I imagine Mary whispered lullabies into her child’s ears. When her Son lie upon the cross, beaten, and dying a horrible death, blood pooling at her bended knees, I am certain Mary had at least one chord from her Spirit-song residing in her wounded soul. When He arose, the whole world sang, as did Mary.

Christmas is a time to resurrect the song of the Lord that He’s placed within you. Do you hear it? Listen closely…. The Great Flutist has written a melody on the recesses of your heart that will touch future generations. Allow Emmanuel—God with us—to overtake your soul.

And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son,

and shalt call his name JESUS. Luke 1:31

Mary’s Song is a fictional story closely based on real life events.

Copyright © 2017: All Rights Reserved: Mary’s Song: VineWords: Author Diane Virginia Cunio; Pen Name, Diane Virginia: All Rights Reserved: http://www.vinewords.net/marys-song/devotion

About the Author

Diane Virginia Cunio is the author of The Kiss of Peace: An Intimate Exploration into Song of Solomon (awaiting publication). She is passionate about sharing Beloved Jesus’ divine love for you, His bride, as allegorically portrayed in the vignette, Song of Solomon.

She has developed the model for motion-activated musical prayer-stations for use in the garden retreat, themed to the places you as Beloved’s bride travel to in Song of Solomon.

Diane is a regular contributor for Christian Broadcasting Network. She has written for Faith Beyond Fear, Pentecostal Publishing House, The Secret Place, and other ministries.

To schedule Diane as a speaker, please contact her via her website: Stories and Devotions Inspired by the Vine. You may find her on Facebook or contact her via email at email@vinewords.net.

John 3:16

We don’t often think of John 3:16 as a Christmas verse. This verse focuses on God’s love for the whole earth and what He was willing to part with so that the world could have life.

Have you ever considered what it was like for the Father to give His only Son to an evil world that would try to kill Him before He was two?
One of the hardest days of my life was leaving my premature twins in the hospital after I was released to go home. My heart ached worrying if they would be well taken care of. Did the Father’s heart ache when sent His Son into the body and arms of a young mother?
I can’t imagine what it would be like as a parent to give the life of my child for that of a stranger.
However, God did just that! How bittersweet it must have been for Him. By giving His Son to this world, a way would be may for us to be with the Father forever. Prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus, no one but angels dwelled in Heaven with the Father. Now there are millions of His children with Him forever because of One Son.

John 3:16

How did God feel giving His Son to us?