Randy Willis | A Christmas Story

randy-willis-christmas

A Christmas story inspired by actual events.
✯  ✯  ✯ ✯  ✯ 
Excerpted from Three Winds Blowing (Epilogue) by Randy Willis

Christmas Day ✯ December 25, 1852 ✯ Forest Hill, Louisiana

Great-Grandpa Joseph Willis relived much of his life in Louisiana on the wagon trip in October of 1852 from Evergreen to Babb’s Bridge. He poured out his heart to us, and I discovered a joy in writin’ and keepin’ an account of all his stories.

Just when it seemed that no day in our family would ever top the 1845 Willis Feast of Thanksgiving…it did. It all begin the first time ever I saw a white Christmas, December 25, 1852, in Babb’s Bridge, and the entire family was there. Each family member brought a decoration for our tree. The cedar was so big that we had to cut it down three times just to get it inside the door. There were strings of popcorn, wooden figures, sugared fruit, paper dolls cut out by the girls, gingerbread, and somebody even brought a bird’s nest. We had ornaments that had meanings, too, like a pine tree, which symbolized eternity, pinecones that meant warmth, and a teapot that signified hospitality, which has always been taught by our family. There were candy canes with the Good Shepherd’s crook, with white stripes for the purity of Jesus and his virgin birth and the bold red stripes for Christ’s shed blood. At the top of the tree was the star of Bethlehem made from a quilt. And, the Christmas stockin’s stuffed with nuts, candy, and fruit hung on every available nail.

I’ll never forget the looks on my cousins’, brothers’, and sisters’ faces. Dolls, books, tablets, pencils, wooden soldiers, and even a rockin’ horse were unwrapped that happy morn. I got a new writin’ tablet that I started using to write this.

Christmas Day started with a few flurries, and everyone ran out to see the snow. Mother taught us to make something I’d never eaten before—ice cream. She showed us how to add milk, cream, butter, and eggs with the snow in a pewter pot. She had read where President Thomas Jefferson had even made ice cream with split vanilla beans. Imagine that! Our traditional hot spiced cider warmed us from the cold. The smell of roasting chestnuts in Mama’s cast-iron skillet in the fireplace brought back precious memories of Christmas past.

As the flakes began to fall steadily, more guests arrived, including Mr. Cormier and Miss Adelaide. She was with child, due in a few months. Mr. Cormier told Great-Grandpa, “If the baby is a boy, we are gonna name him Joseph.” Great-Grandpa’s face shone with an all-knowin’ peace. You could hear the excitement in their voices as Mr. and Mrs. Cormier brushed the snow off.

Mr. Malachi Perkins, Miss Eliza, Randall, and Emily came in together. Mr. Perkins went right up to Great-Grandpa and gave him a hug, sayin’, “Pastor, we consider ourselves engaged, but as you know by Louisiana law, we can’t get married. We’ve fallen in love, and if it was legal, we’d be hitched already.” He hesitated, then went on, “We so want to do what’s right in the eyes of the Lord. I remember ya tellin’ me how your mama and daddy had a clandestine weddin’. I don’t want to bother ya on this special day, but would ya mind thinkin’ ‘bout it in a few days and lettin’ us know if ya’d perform our weddin’ ceremony?”

Great-Grandpa took all of two seconds, grinned, and said, “Ain’t gotta think about it, Malachi. I’d be honored…if ya don’t mind if I do the ceremony sittin’ down. I’m a half-step slower than I used to be.” Everybody laughed.

“Ya know, Pastor, ya could get in trouble for doin’ it!”

“Yes, I know, but I’m ninety-four, and my race here is almost run. What are they gonna do, shoot me? They already tried that, when I was only knee-high to a grasshopper.”

The entire room seemed to be filled with a sweet joy. We all cheered and clapped. Randall and Emily looked the happiest. Great-Grandpa motioned for me to come over and whispered in a voice real low, “Quite a few folks are named after me now. If you ever have a son, Dan, you should name him Randall, after Eliza’s son. You can even nickname ‘im Randy, if you so like. That way, our descendants will remember that miracle and share it with their children.”

We watched the storm bringin’ heavier snow, which seemed to be driven by a blue norther as our neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Robert Graham arrived. And yes, Julia Ann was with ‘em. Great-Grandfather asked to be carried to the barn to talk to his aged four-legged friend, Ole Sally. He told her he had a gift for her—a mule blanket that all the Willis women had made. They had made a matchin’ blanket for him, too.

I listened to ‘im sweet-talk ‘er in ‘er ear. He thanked ‘er for being a good friend and told ‘er that he could never have done it without ‘er. As Ole Sally leaned over the stall gate, Great-Grandpa kissed ‘er on the nose. She backed ‘er ears, and he laughed, sayin’, “Aww, you know you like it.”

We carried him back to the house, and then I asked him to share his annual Christmas story once again. Everyone gathered ‘round the fireplace. He looked like he was doin’ what he loved best.

The wind was blowing the snow so hard we didn’t hear Mr. Ford arrive with Mr. and Mrs. Peter Tanner, the brother and sister-in-law of his late wife. Mr. Ford rushed through the door with a great big smile, sayin’, “Looks like Solomon Northup will be freed on January 3rd. He’s gonna be a free man!” Again, everyone clapped and cheered.

Great-Grandpa’s heart was full of joy. Mine, too! He beamed as he said, “I don’t see how a Christmas could get any better than this.”

He’d started to tell the Christmas story when there was a knock at the door. I jumped up to answer the door. There stood a snow-covered, half-frozen woman in a green hooded cape. Her hair was all wet and matted. All of a sudden, I recognized her—and so did everyone else. There were a few gasps and then lots of hugs. Great-Grandpa couldn’t see very well, as his eyes were dimmed by age. He asked, “Who’s that? Who’s here?”

She put her finger up to her lips to keep everyone silent. No one said a word as she went over to Great-Grandpa, hugged him, and said, “Merry Christmas, Pastor Joseph Willis. I love you with all my heart.”

His eyes glistened as he pulled her to him and said, “I love you even more, Miss Elvy Willis. Welcome home! I’ve saved a place beside me for ya. You’re just in time to hear my favorite Christmas story again.

“He was born in a little-known village. He was brought up in another community that people said nothing good would ever come out of. He worked with his hands in a carpenter shop until he was thirty, and then for three years, he traveled as a country preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never commanded an army. He never owned a home. He never went to college. He never traveled more than a couple hundred miles from the place where he was born.

He was rejected by the religious folk of that day. While he was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. One friend denied him. Another betrayed him. Many even hated him. He was turned over to his enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial and was then nailed to a notorious prisoner named Barabbas’ cross between two thieves. His executors gambled for his only possession—his coat.

“Most of his friends had abandoned him by then. When he died, he was laid in a borrowed grave. Then, on the next Sunday mornin’, he rose from the dead. As we look back across eighteen hundred years and examine the evidence and sum up his influence, we must conclude that all the armies that ever marched, all the ships that ever sailed, all the governments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, and all the presidents that ever led combined have not had the influence on mankind that this one Country Preacher has had!”

Not a sound was heard ‘til Great-Grandpa said, “Merry Christmas, everyone!

I got a stirrin’ in my heart and started singin’, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”

Great-Grandpa and Miss Elvy joined in: “Let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare Him room….” Finally, everyone was singin’. “And Heaven and nature sing, and Heaven and nature sing, and Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing. Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!”

✯ ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯

Merry Christmas!
Randy Willis

Website: http://threewindsblowing.com

Amazon author’s page:
http://amazon.com/author/randywillis

Free Christmas Gift | Randy Willis | Merry Christmas!

I have a Christmas gift for you—my two most popular novels—Three Winds Blowing and Louisiana Wind. Just e-mail me, with your name and address, at randywillis@twc.com and they will be mailed, free and postage paid, the next day. Merry Christmas! ~ Randy Willis Website: http://threewindsblowing.com Amazon author's page: http://amazon.com/author/randywillis Blog: https://randywillisbooks.wordpress.com

I have a Christmas gift for you—my two most popular novels—Three Winds Blowing and Louisiana Wind.

Just e-mail me, with your name and address, at randywillis@twc.com and they will be mailed, free and postage paid, the next day.

Merry Christmas! ~ Randy Willis

Website: http://threewindsblowing.com

Amazon author’s page:
http://amazon.com/author/randywillis
Blog: https://randywillisbooks.wordpress.com

I have a Christmas gift for you—my two most popular novels—Three Winds Blowing and Louisiana Wind. Just e-mail me, with your name and address, at randywillis@twc.com and they will be mailed, free and postage paid, the next day. Merry Christmas! ~ Randy Willis Website: http://threewindsblowing.com Amazon author's page: http://amazon.com/author/randywillis Blog: https://randywillisbooks.wordpress.com

I have a Christmas gift for you—my two most popular novels—Three Winds Blowing and Louisiana Wind.
Just e-mail me, with your name and address, at randywillis@twc.com and they will be mailed, free and postage paid, the next day.
Merry Christmas! ~ Randy Willis
Website: http://threewindsblowing.com
Amazon author’s page:
http://amazon.com/author/randywillis
Blog: https://randywillisbooks.wordpress.com

Randy Willis | About Lew Wallace

randy-willis-ranch

One of my favorite novelist, Lewis Wallace, was inspired to write his second novel, in 1880, by an agnostic. The novel was conceived after sitting on a train, listening to Colonel Robert Ingersoll for two hours.

Wallace wrote that Ingersoll poured out “a medley of argument, eloquence, wit, satire, audacity, irreverence, poetry, brilliant antitheses, and pungent excoriation of believers in God, C…hrist, and Heaven, the like of which I had never heard.”

Until then, Wallace had been indifferent to the claims of Jesus. He wrote, “Yet here was I now moved as never before, and by what? The most outright denials of all human knowledge of God, Christ, Heaven… Was the Colonel right? What had I on which to answer yes or no? He had made me ashamed of my ignorance: and then–here is the unexpected of the affair–as I walked on in the cool darkness, I was aroused for the first time in my life to the importance of religion… I thought of the manuscript in my desk. Its closing scene was the child Christ in the cave by Bethlehem: why not go on with the story down to the crucifixion? That would make a book, and compel me to study everything of pertinency; after which, possibly, I would be possessed of opinions of real value.”

Wallace subtitled the book, a tale of the Christ. He later wrote, “It only remains to say that I did as resolved, with results — first, the book Ben Hur, and second, a conviction amounting to absolute belief in God and the Divinity of Christ.”

~ Randy Willis

randywillis@twc.com

Website: http://threewindsblowing.com

Amazon author’s page:
http://amazon.com/author/randywillis

Randy Willis | Come…! Look…! Choose!

randy-willis-ranch

One of my favorite poems is The Road Not Taken, written a century ago, this year, by Robert Frost.  The last stanza contains my favorite words written by Frost:  Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.  Oh, how true that has been in my life.

Yet, there is another road, perhaps even less traveled. It’s not a red dirt road or the one Frost wrote about.  Come…and look…and choose this road —if you will. It will change your life. It will even change your destiny.

Did you know…?

In 1829, a man named George Wilson was found guilty of six charges and given the death sentence. But, Wilson had influential friends who petitioned President Andrew Jackson for a pardon. Jackson granted the pardon, and it was brought to prison and given to Wilson. To everyone’s surprise, Wilson said, “I am going to hang.”   There had never been a refusal to a pardon, so the courts didn’t know what to do. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and Chief Justice John Marshall gave the ruling, “A pardon is a piece of paper, the value of which depends upon the acceptance by the person implicated. If he does not accept the pardon, then he must be executed.”   God loves you, and yes, He has provided a pardon for you, paid for with Christ’s own life-blood, but you have the right to refuse the pardon. Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One thief said yes to Jesus, but the other said no to Him. One accepted the pardon and the other refused it. The question to you and I today is the same as it was 2,000 years ago: which thief on the cross are you? The one who said yes to God’s pardon or the one that said no to His pardon? I have chosen to say yes. You have the same choice.

✯ ✯ ✯

Did you know…?

God is seeking you!

Come…
The last invitation in the Word of God is found in Revelation 22:17: “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
Are you thirsty? Then come. Let him that hears come. And, whosoever will, come.
That invitation is to you…it is to me…it is to everyone!
Bring your disappointments, bring your failures, bring your fears, bring your heartaches. The Holy Spirit says come to Jesus.
He loves you. He wants to save you. He will save you. Come to Jesus, and drink the water of life freely.
He suffered, He bleed, He died, because He loves you. Listen to the still small voice, of the Holy Spirit, saying to you come to Jesus. Don’t wait—come!
✯ ✯ ✯
Look

“Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22)

“All you ends of the earth” is the Aboriginal people of the Central Australian desert. “All you ends of the earth” are those in darkest Africa. “All you ends of the earth” are the isolated tribes in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. “All you ends of the earth” is presidents, world leaders, and kings. “All you ends of the earth” is the polished lawyer, and the gifted doctor, and the brilliant college professor. “All you ends of the earth” is the prostitute, and the drug dealer, and the rapist, and the thief, and the murderer. “All you ends of the earth” is you…and me.

God’s Word, the Bible, states, “So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” Those that looked lived. Those that looked were healed. Those that looked were made whole. Those that looked were saved. They didn’t wait to they were a better person. They just looked.

Jesus tells us that this is a picture of Him being lifted up on the cross. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15) That serpent represented the sin of the people. Christ was made sin for us. Will you look to Jesus—will you put your trust in Him—the One who died for your sins. Will you put your faith in Jesus—the One who shed His life-blood for you…and for me?   Some years ago my eldest son, Aaron, was in an automobile accident. His back was broken so badly that the doctors said he might not ever walk again. After fusing several vertebrae in his lower back he was able to begin the long task of healing from the spinal fusion surgery, in a rigid plastic back brace. Later, his doctor finally agreed to let him briefly remove the brace to take a shower, as long as someone was with him.

As I was driving to pick he and his brothers up for the weekend, unbeknown to me, his brother, Josh, and he removed the brace so he could take a hot shower, in his shorts. Josh was with him, but was much smaller than him at that time.

As I drove, I decided to stop at the post office, when a still small voice spoke to me saying, “you need to go now.” I passed the post office and drove as fast as I could wondering what that warning was about. There were no cell phones then. As I entered the house I asked his mother where he was. She said in the shower. I ran to it and as soon as I entered the bathroom he said, “Dad, I’m dizzy.” I stepped into the shower and placed by arms under his arms from his back. He immediately passed out. I told his younger brother to help me move him to a bed, while their mother called 911. His dead weight was more than I could have ever imaged. We got him onto the bed without reinjuring his back. I knew if he had fallen he might have been paralyzed.

As I prayed, following the ambulance to the hospital’s emergency room, I noticed the symbol on the back of the ambulance. It was the American Medical Association’s (AMA) logo of a serpent wrapped around a staff. The sign of healing medicine reminded me of the bronze serpent on the staff lifted up by Moses. Many Christians believe that’s were it originated from.

But, more importantly it reminded me of Jesus being lifted up on a cross for my son. God’s son in place of my son…I really can’t fathom love that great. To this day, I cannot see that symbol without giving thanks to the Lord for that warning, and the shed blood of Christ lifted high upon a cross for my sins, for your sins, for the sins of the entire world. Surely, there can be no greater love than God giving His Son’s life-blood for us.
When we arrived at the hospital, the doctors gave him intravenous (IV) fluids and two bottles of Gatorade for dehydration. The hot shower, along with pain medication and dehydration, had caused his blood to rush to his feet and therefore faint.

Will you look to the One that was lifted up on a cross for you? Will you look to the Great Physician—Jesus, to heal you of all your pain? Will you look to Jesus, who took your place on a cross and died for your sins?
✯ ✯ ✯
Choose
Jesus hung between two thieves on a cross. One of them rejected Him, but the other one put his faith in Him, “Will You remember me when You enter Your kingdom?” Jesus replied, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Now, both of those men were guilty. One put his trust in Jesus, and the other chose not to. Again, the question is, which thief on the cross are you?

Now, there was a third cross that day. It was for another criminal named Barabbas and he represents us. Jesus was crucified on a cross meant for Barabbas—it was your cross, too—it was my cross, too. Jesus bore your cross and my cross. He took our place on that cross. The just for the unjust. The Righteous for the unrighteous. The sinless Lamb of God for the sinner.

Self improvement will not qualify you for salvation for God’s Word says, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10) Comparing yourself to others will not work either, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Doing the best you can will not save you for the Scriptures record, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6) Ask yourself, If you could be good enough to pay for your sins then why did Jesus have to die for you? The answer is you can’t.

Come—come just as you are. Will you say yes to Jesus—today?
There’s a Scripture that I love, and it explains things so very simply.

It says, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

You can settle this question right now in heaven and on earth by saying yes to Jesus—accepting His pardon, just as that one thief did on the cross.
There are no exact words. Praying is just talking to the Lord.

If these words are how you feel in your heart, then pray:

Heavenly Father,
I come to You in prayer, asking for the forgiveness of my sins.
I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is Your Son, And that He died on the cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven.
Father, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and I ask You right now to come into my life and be my personal Lord and Savior.
I repent of my sins and will surrender You all the days of my life.
Because Your word is truth, I confess with my mouth that I am born again and cleansed by the blood of Jesus!
In Jesus’s Holy Name I pray. Amen!

✯ ✯ ✯

The most famous words ever spoken:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“Whoever,” that’s you…that’s me…that’s everyone. Come to Jesus. Look to Jesus. Choose Jesus. Today!

Blessings,
Randy Willis

randywillis@twc.com   www threewindsblowing com 512-565-0161

All Scripture references are from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible.

✯ ✯ ✯

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot (Evangelical Christian who was killed, in 1956, while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador ).

✯ ✯ ✯✯ ✯ ✯
Randy Willis is an American novelist, biographer, and music publisher .
He is the author of Twice a Slave, Three Winds Blowing, Louisiana Wind, Beckoning Candle, The Apostle to the Opelousas, The Story of Joseph Willis, and many magazine and newspaper articles.
Twice a Slave has been chosen as a Jerry B. Jenkins Select Book, along with four bestselling authors. Jerry Jenkins is author of more than 180 books with sales of more than 70 million copies, including the best-selling Left Behind series.
Twice a Slave has also been adapted into a dramatic play (vimeo.com/99360694) and (youtu.be/8hMLYDQglkc).
Randy Willis owns Randy Willis Music Publishing (an ASCAP-affiliated music publishing company), and Town Lake Music Publishing, LLC (a BMI-affiliated music publishing company). He is an ASCAP-affiliated songwriter.
He is the founder of Operation Warm Heart (vimeo.com/41195752) and (youtu.be/o-zCvzH2kdU) which feeds and clothes the homeless, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Our Mission Possible (ourmp.org) in Austin, with the goal of empowering at-risk teens to discover their greatness.
He was born in Oakdale, Louisiana and lived on Barber Creek, between Forest Hill and Longleaf, Louisiana, as a boy. He currently resides in the Texas Hill Country.
He graduated from Angleton High School in Angleton, Texas, and Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, with a BBA. He was a graduate student at Texas State University for six years.
He is single and the father of three sons and has four grandchildren. All of his books are dedicated to them by name.
 Amazon author’s page:
http://amazon.com/author/randywillis