Ease on Down the Romans Road

By Carlton Hughes

On a warm Sunday morning nineteen years ago, I knelt to pray to receive Christ as my Savior. When the service ended I left the church as if floating on a cloud. What a feeling! I knew my life was changed forever, and I figured the rest of that life would be filled with sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.

Boy, was I wrong.

Mind you, choosing to serve Christ was the best decision I have ever made and is the only way to live, but even Jesus said we would have trouble in this world. My transition into the Christian life was not easy—it took a while for me to figure it out. I’m actually still figuring it out, and one thing that has helped me is reading the book of Romans.
As I stumbled through those first few months of my new life, I didn’t know where to begin in reading the Bible. Someone suggested I read Romans, and I dug in. I found it’s a powerful book on how to live the Christian life.

The richest chapter that I latched onto was Romans 8. The first verse I ever memorized was verse 2—For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from sin and death—but there are so many more that provide insight and direction.

Further in Romans 8, I found that the sufferings of our present life cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us (verse 18). Just think, our current troubles will pale in comparison to what lies ahead. What a promise! On and on there are rich nuggets of wisdom, reminding me God is for me and not against me and nothing can separate me from His love.

I could go on and on, and I toyed with the idea of copying and pasting the whole book into this blog post. But then the administrators would complain the post was too long and not tweetable. Suffice to say, if you need some encouragement and direction, get yourself over to Romans.

Click to tweet: Salvation on the Romans road. #faith #Bible

WRITING PROMPT: Think back to your salvation experience. What struggles did you have? Find a verse in the book of Romans and relate it to your life.

What does Christmas mean to me?

What does Christmas mean to me? Is it trees brightly lit? Is it the mound of pretty packages underneath? Surely it’s the Nativity scene we so humbly and reverently place in a prominent spot. Or the midnight service we attend with candles lit. The Christmas pageant with children dressed in bathrobes, portraying the night of—

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Oh, wait! The night of Christ’s birth! THAT’S what Christmas is about! Right? All those things mean nothing without the focus of what we’re celebrating. Put up a tree. Or don’t. Wrap pretty presents, or not. But keep Him in the center of whatever it is we do.

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On my personal blog I did a Blog Blitz last month—I posted every day of the month except Sundays. It was part of my launch celebration for my new book. In the blurb, it reads, “…Clara Bess (title character) read, with shock and no small degree of confusion, the line on her birth certificate where her mother’s name should be. It did not read Lily Isabella Sawyer. … Clara Bess was adopted. Where, then, were the adoption papers?” I share this to say I posted about adoption and fostering. And in sharing about that, I also shared that although I have “only” one brother and one sister (and one cousin for that matter) I longed for a big boisterous family, for reunions of extended family members. Maybe this is why I write characters who come from large families…

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And I say all this to say that, after my relationship with Christ, nothing is more important to me than family. At any time of year but especially on family celebrations (birthdays and anniversaries) and holidays. But most especially at Christmas time.

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Yes, the tree signifies Christmas, no matter its history. No matter large or small, no matter live or boxed. Okay, I take exception to that. I don’t do boxed trees. I gotta have the real thing, messy pine needles and all. But that’s another story for another time. Then again…

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A family tradition was established years ago. When I was a teen, we lived in Colorado. And some park somewhere in the mountains opened up to let those who would come and cut down their own trees. We were among those who did. I remember crisp, cold, snowy visits, clamoring through drifts in search of the perfect tree. It stuck. Live trees, I mean. And although I don’t live in Colorado, and I (certainly) don’t traipse through the mountains, snowy or otherwise, to cut down mine own, I have held to having a live tree to this day. And it all started from a family tradition.

 

So family. There’s something about family being together. Whether traipsing through the woods or slugging on the couch watching a movie marathon… Which my sis-in-law and I recently did, namely the BBC presentation of Pride and Prejudice. Sprawled on the couch, in our jammies. Nothing fancy, nothing formal. Not conversation, even. Just shared time with something mutually enjoyable.

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Or game night. Charades or Monopoly, gin rummy or a scavenger hunt, tossing a football or thwacking croquet balls—the blessing, the value is in mutual entertainment.

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Nothing compares to time spent with loved one, time together. Doesn’t have to be a grand, spectacular to-do, though, or a big event.

 

Same with Christmas. While the big dinner is perhaps requisite, and maybe the tree with glittering lights, the greater treasure is the laughter over stupid games—anybody else played spoons? I thought it was pretty dumb as games go, but the laughter and bonding was priceless.

 

Even feuds and conflicts, if handled the right way, can serve to strengthen family ties. Working through resolution is a strong and powerful building tool, creating stronger, better relationships. Removing the grit, the pebble in your shoe, to walk in unity.

 

‘Cause didn’t Jesus come for the sake of Family—His Father’s family? Didn’t Father send His Son in order for us to be adopted—restored—into His family? Isn’t family what God is all about?

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I’ve been reading in Romans these past weeks. Kind of parked there, actually, mulling over individual verses, sometimes not even a verse, but a word, for days. Letting my spirit soak it in. To my knowledge, Romans isn’t usually associated with the birth of Jesus, the Gospel message. But the more I read it, the more it seems to encompass Father’s purpose—to graft us back into His family, His kingdom. Which is where we have belonged from the beginning of time.

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Everything—everything—God has done is for the sake of family, to show us the way back to His heart. To His arms. To His family.

 

So to me, Christmas is family time. Family is everything to me. I thrive when family gets together. And no better time to celebrate than holiday time, and no better holiday than Christmas. And today, the day this post posts, I will be with family for a between-the-holidays get together. It’s been at least three years since my brother and sister and I have all been together. Today’s the day!

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I’ve always cherished family time. Whether holiday get-togethers, or an afternoon at the park, going to an event or Sunday dinner, family is what it’s about. Family is what’s important. Family is Father’s heart.

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And His heart is what Christmas is all about.

 

I leave you with a Christmas poem I wrote some years ago.

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WRITING PROMPT:

Imagine, if you will, you are the family headed up into the Rockies to cut your tree down for Christmas. You start your day with a hot cocoa and a hearty breakfast. You clamor into the station wagon and head up the interstate. You get a good parking spot, close to the footpath, which of course, is blanketed with a new powder of snow. You traipse through the winter wonderland and quickly spot the ideal tree. A chinook wind whips down the mountain and…

 

“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

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Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. She resides in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She is currently working on Clara Bess, the sequel to Tessa, which will be released in November of this year.

 

Come visit me at:

 

http://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877

http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S

https://twitter.com/amythyst212

 

 

 

#Christmastraditions, #family, #Christmastrees, #nativity, #Santa, #Romans, #Godsfamily, #BabyInTheHay, #Fatherslove