Its been a few years since I remembered but the Lord has specifically brought to my mind several times this week – that first Christmas- the one when I first believed.

Five months prior to that first Christmas I had taken the plunge into sobriety.

Two months prior to that first Christmas, after trying to take control of my life for those first ninety days of sobriety, I realized I needed help far greater than myself. I had come to the realization, no matter how hard I tried, that I couldn’t clean myself up enough for Him. In fact, all my efforts to do good and be better were making things worse. The harder I tried the stronger the Holy Spirit was working in my heart. The tighter I would hold on to the church pews. I even got angry because I fought surrendering. But on the evening of October 19, 1998, The wooing was so strong I couldn’t deny Him any more. I sat down in my gold 1970’s suede chair a thief, liar, and a hoochie – and when I stood up – after doing business with my Lord – I became a princess.

I was no longer a thief.

I was no longer a liar.

I was no longer a hoochie.

I was free.

And it was the most incredible moment in my life.

During the months that followed I started tithing. In fact I started tithing before I was baptized. I wish I could tell you I never missed tithing during these last nineteen years, but that would make me a liar – and I don’t do that anymore. But what I can say is that my Lord has been more faithful to me than I have been to Him. He has always provided the necessities in our home.

I was a single mom during those months and years. I had gotten my own place after two years of invading my mothers. My six year old daughter and I shared a 640 square foot apartment. I didn’t decide to get a Christmas tree until a week or two before Christmas. The likeliness of finding a tree I could afford was unlikely. You can imagine my surprise when I walked up to the Walmart where a 6′ live tree was marked down to $11. It was for me. I don’t remember how I got the tree home but I do remember my mom met me at the apartment and help me cut the bottom off. She brought over a tree stand she had held on to, and if my memory is correct she brought over some lights and old ornaments. At work the ladies were talking about getting rid of decorations. I mentioned I didn’t have any and over the next few days was inundated with assorted mismatched lights, decorations, and ribbons. I decorated my first Christmas tree with decorations from different races and backgrounds. And to date, it was the most beautiful tree I’ve had in these nineteen years walking with the Lord. I will never forget the peace and gratitude I experienced that first Christmas I believed – I will never forget the awe and amazement I experienced for the first time – that the God of the universe would forgive me of all I had done and that He would send His only son to be born and to die for me.

And while there’s no doubt that my Lord would have made the same sacrifice if I had been the only one that needed a Savior, the fact is God sent His only son to be born of a virgin, to live a sinless life, to die on a cross, and the defeat death – for all of us.

For all of us.

We don’t have to try and clean ourselves up. We will never be good enough. We are all sinners and sin divides us from God. All we have to do is surrender our hearts to him. And man that can be so hard for those of us who are control freaks. But when you trust – and as your heart is palpating and you feel like you are going to upchuck because the thought of relinquishing control is nauseating – once you take that step – asking Jesus into your heart, asking Him to forgive you of your sin, and confessing Him as Lord – that next breath is the freshest breath you will ever take. It’s a moment of freedom you will never forget.

I’m thankful the Lord has reminded me of the first Christmas with Him. I hope you will make this Christmas your first with Him. You’ll remember it always.

Merry Christmas.