By Donna Brown
My Mom loved Christmas. I have fond memories of Mom singing Christmas songs around our home as she did her household tasks. I remember her reading Christmas classics to me as I sat snuggled against her, so I could see the beautifully illustrated storybooks.
She loved shopping for her loved ones. She loved the special advent services at our church. She loved decorating our home. Our Christmas tree was always trimmed in blue lights, her favorite. She loved driving through our small town looking at Christmas lights. She loved making Christmas candies, especially fudge, and cooking for holiday gatherings. And she enjoyed baking her coconut cakes.
These cakes were creations of beauty, a wonderful centerpiece for any dessert table. They consisted of two thick layers of white cake, layered with crushed pineapple in between and fluffy white frosting. Then the entire cake was covered with chewy coconut flakes. She would wrap the finished cake loosely in foil and chill it in the refrigerator.
Mom didn’t bake just one of these cakes. No, she baked several. These cakes were her gifts to family, friends, and neighbors. I often rode with her to deliver her culinary masterpieces. I would watch Mom ring the front doorbell of a neighbor’s house and see their faces light up as they received Mom’s gift. Mom would smile in return, knowing that she had placed a gift of enjoyment in their outstretched hands. I loved going with my Mom on her cake delivery rounds.
To borrow from the lyrics of “The Christmas Shoes,” by Newsong, “Mama made Christmas good at our house.” I think Mom loved Christmas so much because she loved giving to others, and isn’t that what Christmas is about?
God the Father began this Christmas giving. Christmas was God’s idea and His purpose was giving. God gave us His Son, Jesus, at Christmas. God loved us so much He knew that we needed a Savior, so He gave. And as Jesus grew from that infant babe born to a poor couple in a barn, He spent His life giving. He gave wisdom in teaching us about who God is. He gave kindness and compassion in the miracles He worked. He gave friendship to those whom proper religious society shunned. And then He gave His life, the perfect sacrifice for a sinner like me.
God loved. God gave. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)
This will be my family’s first Christmas without my Mom, she passed away this past May. She lived a good life of faith in her Savior, Jesus, and she passed on her faith to her family. She left a legacy of loving and giving to me and I want to do the same for those who come behind me. So, in the coming days of this Christmas season, I will be remembering my Mom a lot, and looking for ways to love and give to others, just as she did.
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.