Christmas during Lent?

In one corner of our Guatemalan kitchen, is a handcrafted Japanese nativity set.  It has our name on the manger in Japanese characters.  It is a treasured gift from our son and daughter-in-law, Jeremy and Leanna Wares, but that is only part of the reason it will be on display in our home year-round. IMG_0697

Much of the amazing wonder of this Godly adventure that landed us in Guatemala has been the people who have played a role in our journey.  I want to tell you about one of them.  Her name is Carla Behnke.  Jan and I first became acquainted with Carla through our church choir.  Carla was one of those people whose smile lit up a room.  She had a zest for life and an amazing connection with children of all ages.  Carla had a friend, a little old lady named Faith Friendly, who would tell children of the wonders of Christian life and of God’s precious gift to mankind, Jesus.  The funny thing was that although both Carla and Faith Friendly each acknowledged their close friendship, you would never, ever see them together.  Carla loved Christmas and had an amazing collection of Nativity scenes from all over the world.  Carla liked to tell people that she loved Christmas because it was the beginning of Christianity and that she loved each day because it could be a new beginning.  She’d say that since we had a chance to share God’s love with others each day, that every day could be Christmas.

It’s now been a little over 5 years since Carla passed away.  I still miss her.  Her memorial service was a key triggering event in the creation of this website.  At the service, it became apparent to me how little I knew about Carla’s (and Faith Friendly’s) journey and ministry in this world of ours.  I was determined that people should have a place to tell the stories of their everyday journeys and encounters with God.  I don’t remember too many dates in my life very well but I know that the weekend of Carla’s memorial service also provided the trigger for Jan and I to experience our first mission trip to Guatemala.  That story is documented elsewhere on this site.  Please go to the dedication page for this site to learn more about Carla and even hear some of her story in her own words.

IMG_0698If you haven’t guessed by now, Carla’s love of Christmas, her Nativity scene collection and her desire to tell the story of Jesus’ birth in an effort to touch others by offering them an opportunity for a new beginning through Christian living are the other reason why we have a Nativity scene in our house year-round (and a collection of our own in storage in Rochester).

So, it’s March…Merry Christmas!

May you feel and recognize God moving in your life today and always!


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