“A Break From Life”

We all have our favorite Christmas traditions and memories.  This one is one of my favorites.  Enjoy!


Oh boy, here comes the really good stuff,” I thought, as my mom brought my stocking to me! I began pulling out, one by one, each gift.  Mom, usually, gives me gifts, such as, jewelry and chocolates. The first gift was neither!
            It was a travel size bar of soap with a sponge. “What am I supposed to do with these? I thought, as I quietly laid the first gift aside.
I pulled out the next gift—a travel size deodorant. I was speechless. “Just keep going,” I silently told myself; “it’s going to get better.”
 The next gift I took out was a travel size tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush. My sister said,  “A toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste for Christmas? Mom, that’s really corny.”
It sure is! What’s going on here?! “Mom, are you trying to hint I need to brush up on my hygiene?!”
            Finally, I pulled out the last gift. It was a huge piece of paper with a note written on it saying, “Rachael, you and an aide are going to Joni and Friends Family Retreat at the Murrieta Hot Springs in San Diego July 23rd through the 26th, 2008.”
I was delighted! I hadn’t been to one since I was a little girl! I always wanted to go back! After I read the note, Mom explained,
“You’re going to Family Retreat by yourself with an aide because you need a break from life.”
Today, I’m thirty years old, have cerebral palsy, and working toward living independently. I still live with my mother, but sending me to the retreat by myself, “a break from life,” has become a great summer tradition ever since. It’s one of the best ways she knows to give me, as she puts it, an “independent vacation.”
The retreat is designed for families who struggle with the daily challenges of having a disability. It gives them a place where they can come and get some much-needed rest and some great spiritual encouragement in a Christian environment.  
The retreat reminds us everything has a purpose and comes from God. After the retreat, I feel inspired to make a difference and share my faith with others. Joni and Friends Family Retreat really is a glimpse of heaven!!

* Joni and Friends Family Retreat relies heavily on Christ following volunteers to serve the families who come to get “a break from life.” If you’re interested in serving at Family Retreat visit Joni’s website:  http://www.joniandfriends.org/family-retreats/ Click on “Apply as an STM.” (Short Term Missionary). It’s a great thing to do as a church group!

Grandma Giese’s Christmas Reflections

My grandma Giese passed away, on December 19, 2020. She lived to be 100 years old. My mom and I gave my grandma and grandpa the music box in the video as a Christmas gift one year. As my grandma got older and started getting rid of stuff, this music box is one of the few things she hung on to. She didn’t decorate very much at Christmas, but when we went to her house, this music box is one of the few things we would see in her living room. Now my mom and I have it; It’s a family air loom. Right behind the nativity scene is her last birthday picture. This video reminds me of how my grandma stood right behind Christ. I’m glad I have her words written down. I’ll treasure them forever.

Merry Christmas everybody! A few years back when I started to take writing seriously, I thought that I would try to write my version of A Christmas Carol. I was trying to show how much Christmas had changed over time, and how our focus should be on Jesus because He is the reason for the season. When I was doing some research for this project I e-mailed my grandma Giese to find out what Christmas was like in the ’30s. Grandma is now 90 years old. She grew up during the depression- A time when money and jobs were even more scarce than they are today. Because of that, she lives a pretty simple life even today. Her words are full of richness and wisdom. We could all learn a thing or two from my grandma. It humbles me to think about how much I still have even during hard times. Although things are tight right now, it is still nothing compared to what people like my grandma have gone through. She and her sister were twins. What a Godly person my grandma is. She’s filled with such joy! Enjoy!

“Well, I just lost the thing so I’m starting over. Ellen and I have been talking about what we remember when we were in the 30’s. There was not much of a Christmas for us having an ill mother, She passed away we were thirteen. (1933). But talking to serval women around here when they were young they remember a small Christmas tree but very few gifts. None of them ever had a bike. Most gifts were things for school. It was during a depression so there wasn’t much money or family gatherings. We did go to church but most churches were in a pastor’s home. Our grandparents took us to church as dad stay home and took care of Mom. We didn’t expect anything. It was a time of Jesu’s birth-not something for giving. Although Christmas was Jesu’s birthday, we seem to have Him every day- not just that day, Lou says he remembers trees and gifts but I don’t think his family was religious. Every thing we received we had to have. The ones I talked to said the same thing. We had a garden and shared everything we had. You have a very good idea showing how much we have changed in expecting and being thankful for the things we are given and keeping our eye on the the importance of Christmas.

Everyone I talked to never had a bike, roller skates, and YET we had a good time together without expecting things.  We were thankful for what we did have and thanked God for the thongs He provided for us. Isn’t that what Christmas is about??? God cared enough to provide what we needed.  Jesus.  What more do we need?”