My name is Connie. I’m married to Kenny. We have five children – Sarah, John, Mary, Ruth, and Stephen. This will be our 36th year to celebrate Christmas in Brownsville.
Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancé, who was pregnant.
Luke 2:4-5 (The Message)
I have often grumbled on Christmas because it’s so hot and humid in Brownsville. The A/C hums all day, the
festive Christmas sweaters stay in the closet, and playing with new toys outside is short-lived. One Christmas afternoon, we loaded up the kids and drove to South Padre Island. The afternoon of splashing in the waves was fun, but hardly seemed like Christmas.
In December of 1996, Kenny and I were given a trip to Israel. I will always be grateful for this trip because it forever changed my perspective of what Christmas should look like. There are many similarities between Israel and Brownsville. December in Israel, the palm trees sway, banana trees line the roads, and the bougainvilleas bloom.
As we visited Nazareth, and later Bethlehem, we could easily envision the journey Mary and Joseph took between the two towns. In Bethlehem, in the basement of a church, there is a small cave where many believe Mary gave birth to Jesus. That was difficult to envision!
God planned for Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem because of the census. God planned for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. But, in a manger, possibly in a cave?
Our trip to Israel reminded me that the Christmas story might not have looked like Mary and Joseph thought it should. The birthplace of Jesus was cold, damp, and stinky. And yet, this was God’s plan for them.
When God led us to Brownsville, we said, “Yes,” because we knew it was the right place for us, and the right time to be here. Every person in the Christmas story had to say, “Yes,” to God’s leading: Mary accepting her pregnancy, Joseph
accepting Mary, the shepherds led by angels to the place of Jesus’ birth, Simeon and Anna waiting to meet Jesus, and the wise men following the star. They all said, “Yes,” to God.
While I might have chosen to live in a place with mountains and snow for Christmas, God’s plans are different than mine; His are bigger and better! When I quit grumbling about the heat and humidity, I noticed the many good things about being in Brownsville on Christmas—tamales, visiting Gladys Porter Zoo, evening walks around the neighborhood, and football in the park (yes, it’s hot).
God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, and I thank Him that He led us to Brownsville, and that this will be the 36th Christmas that we’ll celebrate here on the border.
1. How about you? Are you grateful that in God’s plan, that you live in Brownsville?
2. What are some things you can stop grumbling about during the holidays, and begin being thankful for?