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A NEW HOLIDAY CLASSIC FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR AND BELOVED SPIRITUAL LEADER T.D. JAKES
The Memory Quilt
Bishop Jakes weaves inspirational life lessons into this tender and touching tale, a thoughtful reflection on our actions throughout the giving season and all year-round.
Is there room in your heart?
Lela Edwards wants nothing more than to spend the holidays with her family. But her husband of fifty years passed away recently, her daughters live far from their old Chicago neighborhood, and her granddaughter, Darcie, is avoiding her grandmother for fear Lela will judge her decision to get a divorce. Irritated and lonely, Lela concentrates on the lessons of the Virgin Mary with her Bible study group and begins to piece together an unfinished quilt she set aside long ago.
The cold winter brings some unexpected rough patches for Lela and her loved ones. The closer she examines the Scriptures, the more she realizes how quick she is to find fault with the people around her. Lela soon discovers she has woven the Virgin Mary’s lessons into the handiwork of the quilt, a reminder that by following the guidance of the cherished story we revisit every December to celebrate the meaning of Christ, she can learn from her mistakes and find favor with God.
Readers everywhere will find an uplifting message of hope in this heart-warming story.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
"She's filed," Jean said.
"What was that, dear?" Lela Edwards asked, hastily twisting the volume control knob on the clock radio, abruptly quieting "O Come, All Ye Faithful" to an unrecognizable muffle.
"'She's filed,' I said."
Phone conversations with Jean were like this begun without much small talk. Barely a hello, and she was off with the subject like a sprinter at the sound of the gun.
"Darcie filed for divorce," she said, skipping a few beats before she added, "Mother, don't start."
"What am I starting? I'm just trying to understand what you're saying," Lela said.
Jean sighed. "Darcie filed for divorce yesterday." She said the words slowly, as if reluctant to repeat herself.
"I thought you said a few months ago that they were thinking of getting a divorce. Here the child's barely been married a year. Didn't they even try to work things out?"
"Mother, I'm just telling you what's going on."
Lela brushed away a speck of lint from her blue jersey knit skirt and glanced at the large clock on the wall next to the refrigerator in the long kitchen/dining area. Nine forty-five. She was supposed to leave in five minutes for the Wednesday women's Bible study and here she was hearing news like this. Barbara would be outside honking her horn soon, and nobody wanted to hear that "La Cucaracha" song that Barbara's son had installed in the car. At least she already had her coat on.
Jean made a noise, as if aware that Lela's attention had strayed. "She's coming here to Missouri City for Christmas, Mother, instead of what you and she talked about."
"She can't pick up a phone and tell her grandmama that?"This was supposed to be the perfect Christmas or near perfect. And that meant having all three of her daughters and her she had to say favorite granddaughter home for the holidays.
"Mother, you lecture."
"That's why I'm telling you. Besides...I want Darcie here with me, Mother. She's two months from her due date. This is the last time she can fly here."
"She lives in Indiana, Jean. She'd rather fly a thousand miles to Texas than drive here to spend Christmas with her grandmama like she promised?"
"Mother...she's feeling vulnerable right now "
"And that's another reason why the girl don't need to be divorced." She tried to ignore the echo of her own lectures given to the girls over the years, filled with "Don't say don't if you mean doesn't."
"Now she's gonna be a single mother " Lela thought out loud.
"Tell that to Doug, Mother. He's the reason this divorce is happening right now."
"I still don't understand "
She was interrupted by the sound of a horn blaring the first notes of "Jingle Bells." Lela shook her head, grateful at least that the song had been changed to something less tacky than "La Cucaracha." "That's Barbara. I gotta go. We'll discuss this later."
In the silence that followed, Lela suddenly sensed an ocean's worth of words left unsaid or words she wished had been unsaid over the years, washed along by a tide of unmet expectations. She was tired of swimming against the current. "I told you Barbara's waiting."
"Have you given any thought to what I suggested last week? About your moving here? The neighborhood's getting bad and "
"Barbara's waiting, Jean."
"Okay. Love you." Yet Jean's words sounded a little reluctant.
"Love you too." Lela snapped o the radio, rubbing her shoulder as she stood. "Arthur" was kicking up today. She hoped her arthritis-strength ibuprofen was in her purse.
As she headed to the front door, she absently searched for Smokey a stray she'd picked up around her garbage can the previous month. Somebody's throwaway, she surmised. The kitten had a weird grayish coloring that she could almost swear was blue (but cats weren't blue, were they?). She didn't know what kind of cat he was. But she'd named him after Smokey Robinson, the famous R & B singer. She'd felt sorry for him until she got the bill to deworm him.
Barbara's horn sounded "Jingle Bells" again.
"Hold your horses," she said softly. Barbara couldn't hear her from this distance. She squeezed into her black pumps, knowing she would regret the choice later, before grabbing the purse and Bible waiting on an end table.
Wonder if I need a hat. She fingered the gray locks curling just above her shoulders. She stuck a hand out the door to get a sense of the temperature. Good. The weather was mild. She hated covering up her new haircut. The wind picked up under a sky that was a weak pastel blue but didn't look to deposit snow anytime soon. The 45 degree temperature was too high for that. If the weather continued like this, it looked to be a brown Christmas in two weeks. That was fine with her. She hated driving in the snow.
Her best friend, Barbara Wiggins, at seventy-three two years older still liked to drive in any kind of weather, and so be it. Lela grunted as she folded herself into Barbara's silver PT Cruiser. The scent of bayberry one of Barbara's favorite scents immediately enfolded her.
"'Bout time," said Barbara, running a hand along her short, salt-and-pepper, mostly salt afro.
"Sorry. That was Jean on the phone. Told the girl I had to go."
"Jean? Everything okay?" Barbara put the car in gear. "O Holy Night" blared from WMBI on the radio.
Lela sighed, wondering how much to reveal. She didn't feel like getting into it with Barbara. "Everything's fine."
Barbara's glance was wry. "If you say so. As if I didn't know better judging by how you look right now."
"Just drive, girl."
"Yes'm." Barbara saluted, as she headed north the only way they could go, with Laflin being a one-way street toward Morgan Park.
Lela sighed as they passed the last of the bungalows on the long block of 117th and Laflin. This was the kind of residential neighborhood that some didn't believe still existed on the far southeast side of Chicago. People didn't expect more than projects, burned-out buildings, and crime stats here now. But there were still some houses around, even if they weren't looking as well kept up as they had been twenty years ago. Lela blamed the decline of the neighborhood on the new blood on the block, some of whom like the woman in the last house on the northeast corner were merely renting. Key people, owners who acted as neighborhood watch people and were house-proud, had moved away over the years. There were more and more signs of a gang's influence now, with graffiti scrawled across an abandoned building here and there on 119th Street or even across a garage door.
Still, she was pleased to see that many of the houses at least were decorated for Christmas. More than a few houses boasted the large snow globe that the block club picked out. Surprisingly, the "newbies" knew how to follow instructions and kept things uniform.
Lela was one of the few residents left who had purchased the houses when they were built between 1963 and 1965. Her particular house was bought in 1964, a year after Barbara and her husband bought theirs. Walt and Lela were able to purchase the house only because the financing fell through for another couple bidding on it, an event she attributed to God's mercy.
The neighborhood hadn't changed much, ethnically speaking. It was still African American for the most part, suggesting that racial segregation was still an issue in some parts of Chi-Town.
In less than fifteen minutes Barbara pulled up at the corner of 112th and Vincennes adjacent to the old Catholic school housing Briarwood Baptist. What a relief. Unlike on Sunday mornings, they didn't have to park two blocks away.
Lela's feet were already hurting from the tight shoes by the time they reached the red-brick fellowship hall, the first building north of the sanctuary. And they still had to descend a flight of stairs to the basement level and Fellowship Room 1, where the senior women's Bible study met. She grunted down each one, wondering not for the first time why the senior women had to struggle down the stairs while the junior women met on the first floor. Why couldn't they drag themselves down here and switch with the senior women? Maybe she would talk to Pastor about that.
She sighed as she entered the table-lined double room with its cream-colored walls, enlivened by framed posters depicting various types of flowers.
There were about fifty in the group and forty who showed up regularly. Since the church had made a considerable effort to combat the segregation evident on the South Side, different races were represented. About thirty women were there now, carrying on the traditional "Christmas clash," with half the group in a myriad of red and green Christmas sweaters and the other half favoring jewel-toned sweaters (in purple, yellow, and blue) all looking like living Christmas ornaments.
Estelle, the new widow, had shown up. But, Lela wondered, why? She was only forty-five, hardly senior. Most of the other women were fifty-five at least. And she usually dressed like a hussy, just like today. Here it was ten AM and she had on a skin-tight purple two-piece out t like she was going to a club or something. She was slim and petite but now reminded Lela of a grape. Who is she trying to impress? Lela thought to herself.
Lela nodded a greeting. Her smile was much warmer as she turned to Nita Juarez, who promptly handed her a small, foil-covered bowl.
"Mole as promised," Nita said, a mischievous grin highlighting her impish face. "Put that over your chicken, okay?"
Lela smiled. "Girl, I might have gas as a result, but I'm sure gonna eat this. Thank you. Uh, gracias."
Nita smiled and patted her arm as if Lela had performed a cute trick. "De nada."
"Everybody get settled so we can get started, ladies." As usual, Lorraine Collins, the Bible study leader, didn't need a microphone. Her deep voice carried across the long fellowship room a carryover from her work on the stock exchange several years back. She was tall over six feet and had an enviously flawless, chocolate brown complexion as well as a ramrod posture that the Army would have been proud of. She was also seventy but didn't look it.
"Last call for the coffee and doughnuts," added Donna Evans, the fifty-five-year-old, foot-shorter, auburn-haired (well, more and more silver streaks were starting to show) co-leader of the study. She wore a sweater with a snowflake pattern the main color of which matched her startling gray-blue eyes and highlighted her fair complexion.
Perhaps Donna shouldn't have mentioned the coffee and doughnuts, Lela surmised. Half the women already seated instantly gravitated toward the table. Another fifteen minutes passed before all were settled again.
"With this being the Christmas season, we have a challenge for you ladies," Lorraine announced. "For the next couple of weeks until Christmas, we'll follow the story of a woman who was very important to this season Mary."
Lela's eyes opened wide. They hardly ever focused on Mary.
Donna held up several pink sheets. "I have a handout with nine Scripture passages. You can use it or read the passages in your Bible."
Estelle volunteered to pass out the handout, a move Lela saw as a sad bid for attention.
She shook her head, as she turned her attention to the passages listed on the sheet. Well, this was good for about a couple of days' reading. She couldn't see stretching this out for two weeks.
"We might think we already know all about Mary, but God has something fresh to teach us through her journey," said Lorraine. "When the Gospel of Luke first mentions her, Mary was probably just a young teen someone you wouldn't pay much attention to. But we're going to pay some attention and in the coming weeks ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to what we can learn from the woman God considered highly favored."Lela returned home at twelve thirty to a ringing phone and a loudly meowing kitten who greeted her at the door demanding food. She answered the less insistent one first.
"I called your cell a hundred times," said Eileen, as soon as Lela picked up. Eileen lived in the house next door on the right with her eighty-two-year-old father, James. "Why didn't you pick up?"
Lela crunched down her irritation. "I don't like using it."
"Why have a cell phone if you don't use it?"
"I'm sure you called for a reason, Eileen." And what is she doing home at this time of day? Why isn't she at work? Lela thought.
"Daddy thinks he heard someone trying to break into your garage while you were away."
Lela listened but thought, his imagination, more than likely. Wasn't it only last month that he thought he heard someone breaking into her house and called the police? Turned out to be only the wind.
"When I passed your garage, your door was wide open," Eileen said.Well, that got Lela's attention. But who, she asked herself, would break into a garage in the middle of the day? That took some nerve. Maybe they had waited until she had left for church. Or it could have happened last night. That sounded more likely. She hadn't been out to her garage today. Was it the same person who broke into Barbara's garage a month ago?
The usual suspect was the kid across the street, who lived with his mother and her latest boyfriend. The little hooligan ran wild around the neighborhood and was probably in a gang by now. Lela shook her head. How was it that at thirteen, he had attitude to spare?
"Thanks for letting me know, Eileen."
"I'm making some fruitcake. You wanna come over for a slice?"
The last thing she wanted to do was go over to Eileen's. She didn't like Eileen's father, James, who had moved in after he suffered a heart attack. Eileen had made a feeble and embarrassing matchmaking attempt with Lela and the father the previous year.
Lela shook her head at that memory. She couldn't imagine why her neighbor would assume she'd be interested in an eighty-two-year-old man who continually grumbled at life, hardly bathed, and seemed a trifle senile. There was, after all, that time when he mooned a couple of teens hanging out on the sidewalk in front of the house. The police were called on him that time, not the kids. Why Eileen thought Lela could handle a man like James was anybody's guess.
"Maybe some other time. Thanks, Eileen."
Better check that garage.
She switched shoes first, then braved the wind that now seemed decidedly frigid.
The heavy yellow door on the alley side of her detached garage was open at the bottom, but less than an eighth of the way. So much for it being wide open. It had to be a kid trying to match his thieving skills against her garage door. He lost, fortunately. She sighed, wondering if she needed to march across the street and confront Deborah about her son, Ronnie. Sometimes she caught him in the alley at night on his skateboard with a sly expression on his face. Maybe it wasn't the son at all, but the no-good boyfriend. What was his name again? Leo. He had to be no good if he couldn't marry her like any decent man and instead preferred to shack up. He was probably on drugs.
As she returned to the house, she felt restless and needing of a task to complete. She had housework to do, of course, but she didn't feel like doing that just yet.
She drifted into her bedroom at the back of the house and peered into the large, red tote bag beside her bed, full of fabric she had had every intention to use to make Darcie and Doug a quilt with a double wedding ring pattern. She usually gave quilts to celebrate family weddings. But what with her mother dying last year, she hadn't gotten around to starting the quilt for this couple.
There was no need for it now, but she hated seeing good fabric going to waste.
She wandered aimlessly down the hall to the living room and switched on the lighting even though the drapes were wide open. Two years ago, her daughters had banded together to get the living room redone with track lights highlighting an Annie Lee print on the wall adjacent to the closet. It featured a church scene and a mother forcing a child to give up her gum. She had arranged the print above the black Ikea sideboard upon which the latest photos of her daughters sat.
Tamara, her oldest, was on the left, with Jean in the middle and the youngest, Sylvie, on the right. All had her ochre complexion, highlighted by her husband Walter's sassy smile. Only Jean still kept her hair long.
Jean had given her the Annie Lee print, laughingly saying that it reminded her of their relationship.
Smokey suddenly made his presence in the living room known by bellowing his feed-me-now song.
"I'm not thinking about you right now." It wasn't quite time for him to be fed anyway. She perched on the green and white floral print couch and pulled a photo album out of the coffee table drawer.
As she opened it, touching the carefully decorated plastic-covered pages (Sylvie's handiwork), the always present ache of missing Walt increased. The stubborn old man would have to have a fatal heart attack in February, the same year Mama died 2008. at was certainly a year she wanted to forget. This year, they would've been married fifty years.
She flipped through the photos, pausing at one of her favorites. Every year they took a photo of the girls sitting on the couch in the same birth order spots. In this one, Tamara was thirteen and wearing a big afro. Jean, eleven, with her customary ponytail and long bangs, frowned in the middle, while seven-year-old, pigtailed Sylvie, on the right, smiled. It was only later that she realized why Jean frowned. Tamara had been picking on her. Lela shook her head. Tamara had been good at stealth picking the whispered comment just when she thought her mama's back was turned.
An hour passed before she looked up from the photo album with the sudden realization that she had a task: begin the reading for Bible class.
She thought of putting a load of clothes in the washing machine first...and then the phone rang. She answered and found Barbara on the other end.
"Got a favor to ask. I'm on the angel tree committee "
"You're on every committee at church, Barbara Wiggins."
"If I might finish, Lela Edwards." She was amused by the little jab. "We were wondering if you wouldn't mind making a small quilt for the ministry."
"You know I only do quilts for the family."
"I know, but "
"And I'm not sure I can have one done by Christmas anyway, even though I have all that fabric I never used for Darcie's quilt." She sighed heavily. "I wish I had gotten to it. Guess it's too late now..."
Barbara was silent for several moments before saying, "Okay, what happened? I knew something was wrong the moment you got in the car."
No use beating around the bush. "It's Darcie. She's filed for divorce."
"Does that surprise you? They've been having problems all year from what you told me."
"They've only been married a little over a year. They could've worked those out."
"Didn't he cheat on her? Twice?"
"Do we have to talk about this?"
"Fine. So, are you gonna make a quilt? I felt a nudge by God that maybe you should make a quilt for us."
Lela suddenly felt manipulated by the mention of God. "Why would I give Darcie a wedding ring quilt now?" She thought out loud. Everyone else she'd given a quilt to was still married. Had she failed Darcie and jinxed the marriage by not giving her the quilt?
"I'm not talking about Darcie. Make a quilt for the angel tree ministry. There are a number of needy children "
"I don't make quilts for children. Besides, all they want are those fancy comforters these days. They don't know how to appreciate a quilt."
"Does that have anything to do with your making it or not?"
"You should stop being so pushy, old woman."
"That's what friends are for, Le."
"I'll think about it. Talk to you later about this."
She hung up and returned to the bedroom to gather dirty clothes to wash. As she did though, her attention turned to the red tote bag of fabric. Smokey was perched on it.
"Cat, get off that fabric!"
But Smokey paid her no heed.
It was just as well. Making a quilt was the last thing she wanted to do right now.
Copyright © 2009 by TDJ Enterprises
Reading Group Guide
Bible Study Guide for The Memory Quilt by T. D. Jakes Suggestions for Using The Memory QuiltThe Memory Quilt can serve as a useful guide to direct and inspire your personal Bible reading and reflection. The book may also be used in a variety of group contexts, including:
- Mid-week Prayer Service or Bible Study: During the Christmas season, use The Memory Quilt as a closing or opening activity during mid-week prayer service or Bible study.
- Women’s Missions Society: Use The Memory Quilt to begin the meeting and set the tone for your Christmas season missions study. After opening the session, the leader or a member of the group should read aloud an excerpt from one chapter that touched her and study that chapter as a group. If you want to engage in a longer study of The Memory Quilt, plan a special Christmas gathering to study the entire book at a relaxed social holiday meeting.
- Private or Church-related Prayer Group: Use The Memory Quilt as a focal point at your meetings leading up to Christmas.
- Sunday School: Combine The Memory Quilt with a close-ended Bible study. Choose a Bible passage from The Memory Quilt as the focal point of study, and discuss elements of the story in that chapter of The Memory Quilt that help to expound on that passage.
- Evangelism and Outreach: Use The Memory Quilt as an evangelistic tool to reach out to women who may be struggling with life circumstances during the holiday season.
Questions for contemplation or discussion: In what ways do you identify with Lela Edwards? Can you relate to her life circumstances, family situation, church participation or relationship with God? How can you benefit from identifying with others, especially during the Christmas season? What other character in Chapter 1 do you identify with? Why? How have you been touched by divorce? How did Lela feel about not having made her granddaughter a wedding quilt? What are your personal reflections on this chapter?
Ornament: Think of ways the occurrences in this chapter parallel the life of the Virgin Mary. Then think of ways the occurrences in this chapter AND the life of Mary parallel your own life.
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord, I know you have something fresh to teach me through Mary’s journey. Holy Spirit, open my heart to what I can learn from the woman you favored so highly. Show me how to become one of your highly favored women.”
Gift Scripture: Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.”
Bible Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
Questions for contemplation or discussion: Lela and Barbara have different approaches to life. How would you describe their individual approaches? How does the Social Security problem reflect their differences? What is your approach, and how has your personal style of approaching life evolved? Do you consider listening to the Bible on CD the same as reading the Bible? Why or why not? Do you feel it matters that the colors in the not-made quilt for her granddaughter are not Christmas colors? What have you never prayed for regarding your Christmas holiday? Lela “never made baby quilts. Quilts were far too precious to give to a baby, who would outgrow and not appreciate it anyway.” (page 27) What have you felt is too precious for God to give to you?
Ornament: Think of ways that the pain in Lela’s right shoulder. What other unwritten pains might Lela be experiencing? Think of the pain in the life of Mary. How does the pain in your own life compare to theirs?
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord I feel ________________ is too much to ask, but I ask it now, knowing you are blessing me as one of your highly favored women.”
Gift Scripture: Luke 1: 38b “May it be to me as you have said.”
Bible Reading: Luke 1: 5-25
Questions for contemplation or discussion: What do the dogs Smokey and Libby add to the story? How do Stefan and Alicia indicate the different approaches Lela and Barbara have to life? Does shopping play a larger or smaller role in your Christmases than in Lela’s? Think of a situation in your own life that involves a “Ronnie” and the police. Why do you think Lela has not yet agreed to make the Angel Tree quilt?
Ornament: Think back on your most positive holiday experience in which a pet or other animal played a part. Shepherds made their living tending animals, and although it was a low-level way to earn a living, God chose shepherds as among the first to hear the announcement of the birth of Jesus. What ways have pets or other animals played a positive role in your spiritual life?
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord, like the shepherds I glorify and praise you.”
Gift Scripture: Luke 2: 20a “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.”
Bible Reading: Luke 1: 26-38
Questions for contemplation or discussion: How might seeing Eddie have caused Lela to again grieve her husband’s death and the loss of her marriage? How have quilts been associated with marriage down through the generations of Lela’s family? How does she feel about not having made a quilt for her granddaughter’s wedding? What is the nagging thought in her mind? What do you think finally makes Lela begin the quilt? From the glimpse we get of Deborah on pages 66-67, do you see any similarities between Deborah’s feelings about her relationship with Ronnie and Lela’s feelings about her relationship with her three daughters?
Ornament: Remember your best holiday seasons. What tangibles were associated with them that are traditions you no longer keep, and how were those tangibles both good and troublesome? What are the new practices that have come to be part of your holidays or could be?
Prayer Poinsettia: “Help me, Lord, to cherish past positives and I commit to you that I am willing to try new ways today and tomorrow.”
Gift Scripture: Luke 1: 46 “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
Bible Reading: Luke 1:39-56
Questions for contemplation or discussion: This chapter reveals much of Lela’s family tree and the timeline of her recent family events. On page 84 we read, “ Lela knew her voice sounded reserved. But no one instantly gained her favor. It was bestowed like a gift.” Do you think Lela was this reserved before the events revealed on page 87? What makes Lela think about Mary at the end of the chapter?
Ornament: Lela squirmed at her pastor’s words on page 75. Who did she think about? Who are your annoying, even scary, “neighbors” that you have not prayed for?
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord, I can make it without anyone or anything, except you. I right now take the focus off myself, off issues I have with anyone else, off concerns about any situation, and place my focus totally on you and pleasing you.”
Gift Scripture: Matthew 19:14b “… the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Bible Reading: Matthew 19:13-15
Questions for contemplation or discussion: How is the Social Security problem a metaphor for much of what has gone on in Lela’s recent life? Why do you think Lela and Barbara’s chance meeting of Deborah, and her news that “Ronnie’s glad Leo’s gone” and her admission that Ronnie is ADHD does not soften Lela’s heart toward him, even though her pastor’s sermon had pricked her heart?
Ornament: Those annoying, even scary, “neighbors” that you have not prayed for are the basis for God showing you mercy. List them and use the prayer below to pray for them
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord, you know and love everyone and only you know the best prayers for me to pray for ______________, ______________, ______________, ______________, and ______________. I ask your Spirit to intercede for me as I pray for these people. I open myself to seeing them as you see them. I commit to making real efforts to love them and show them your love.”
Gift Scripture: Luke 1:54 paraphrased “God has helped his servant, remembering to be merciful.”
Bible Reading: Luke 1:54,55
Questions for contemplation or discussion: Barbara tells Lela she has “a negative spirit” and asks if she would like to talk, but Lela resists. When have you had a negative spirit during the Christmas season? Discuss or journal your reflections.
Ornament: Lela is now enjoying making the quilt; she’s on the second and third blocks. Draw your own diagram and sketch the blocks chapter by chapter. Put your own “subtitle” on each block as you continue to read.
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord, I know that _________________________ reflects a negative spirit in me and I’m asking you to please replace that negative spirit with your Holy Spirit.”
Gift Scripture: Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Bible Reading: reread Matthew 1:18-25 in a translation different than the one you used in Day 1, for example THE MESSAGE or The Amplified Bible. What difference insights are you able to gain from a different translation?
Questions for contemplation or discussion: “For once she didn’t seem to be dressed as if desperately seeking attention.” This is how Lela viewed Estelle on page 118. How might a person who did not have a negative spirit have viewed Estelle’s change in wardrobe direction?
List the negatives about Mary, as the world would have viewed her situation:
List the positives about Mary’s character, starting with Donna’s on page 122:
Ornament: Have you experienced more problems in your life than usual since you began reading the Bible? Which attribute of Mary’s might help solve a problem if you imitated that aspect of her character?
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord, I know that _________________________ (fill in the blank with an aspect of Mary’s character) would help me and I’m asking you to please replace my negative spirit with that aspect of Mary’s character.”
Gift Scripture: Luke 1:38a (King James Version) “And Mary said, ‘… be it unto me according to thy word.’”
Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Questions for contemplation or discussion: Lela’s three daughters Tamara, Sylvie and Jean were different from birth. Reflect on how they were different and how Lela found room in her heart for all three as well as why Jean’s word about Walt hurt Lela. Why hadn’t Lela made a quilt for Ruth’s wedding?
Ornament: The sun had what kind of effect on Lela’s state of mind? Think back on how the weather affects you. What can you do on those not-sunny days to maintain a positive spirit? List 10 things. Ask friends to help you complete the list, if you need.
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord, I commit to putting into practice ________________ (name one of the items on your list above).”
Gift Scripture: Matthew 7:2 “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Bible Reading: Luke 2:1-8
Questions for contemplation or discussion: The main action of book happens in this chapter. Describe and discuss or journal it.
Ornament: On page 152, Jean tells Lela, “Seems to me the only thing God asked her [Mary] to do was to have his child.” She then says, “I did what I believed God wanted me to do.” What do you believe God wants you to do?
Prayer Poinsettia: On page 167, Lela prays “Lord, please help me.” What do you need to ask God’s help with?
Gift Scripture: Luke 2:10 “The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid.’”
Bible Reading: Luke 2:8-21
Questions for contemplation or discussion: In this chapter someone ends up in the hospital and someone dies. Discuss or journal your reactions to each. Why do you think Lela doesn’t pray, despite these dramatic events?
Ornament: How can doing what you believe God wants you to do prevent a situation like what developed in this chapter?
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord, when I’m in the midst of a terrible situation, please show me how and what to pray.”
Gift Scripture: Jeremiah 31:16a “This is what the LORD says: ‘Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,’ declares the LORD.”
Bible Reading: Matthew 2:1-18
Questions for contemplation or discussion: Lela feels so ashamed and guilty in this chapter, that when Barbara tells her to keep her soul elevated (page 183), she doesn’t comprehend it. What causes her shame and guilt? What does she do instinctively that helps keep her soul elevated? How does Smokey also help in that process?
Ornament: List the leisure activities that help keep your soul elevated.
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord, show me leisure pastimes that give you glory.”
Gift Scripture: Psalm 25:1 “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;”
Bible Reading: reread Matthew 2:1-15 in a translation different than the one you used in Day 11, for example THE MESSAGE or The Amplified Bible. What difference insights are you able to gain from a different translation?
Questions for contemplation or discussion: What do you think was the most important way Deborah helped Lela? Lela said two short prayers in this chapter. What were they?
Ornament: What does this chapter teach you about your own situation during this Christmas season?
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord, show me how NOT to make this Christmas about me, but about you.”
Gift Scripture: 1 Chronicles 16:35 "Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise."
Bible Reading: Matthew 2:19-23
Questions for contemplation or discussion: What kind of quilt did Lela realize she was making? Who truly chose the kind of quilt she would make? Do you think Lela’s neighbor James followed his own advice or is he just talking and saying nothing?
Ornament: What would you do if you were in Lela’s situation?
Prayer Poinsettia: “Lord, show me what to do.”
Gift Scripture: James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
Bible Reading: Leviticus 12:1-8 and Luke 2:43-51
Questions for contemplation or discussion: How has making the quilt been healing for Lela? Whose unlikely story is parallel to Mary’s?
Ornament: What is the overall message you’ve received from this book?
Prayer Poinsettia: Frame your own prayer based on the overall message you’ve received from this book.
Gift Scripture: Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Bible Reading: 2 Peter 3:8 & 9
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The author of this book paints a vivid picture of an elderly woman and without de-humanizing her, allows you to go through her trials as if they were your own. He also does a great job of reviewing the birth of Christ through the eyes and thoughts of Mary and comparing her story to that of the main character. This book had an awesome plot, animated characters, dramatic foreshadowing, and a surprise ending. I highly reccomend this book to anyone.
The story was believable. The Characters could have been real people that you know. The family life was typical of what most people experience. Had a religious theme but was not something that made you feel religion was being pushed on the reader.
Would also prefer a page count as last holiday "book" was 13 pages and saves clogging up space with samples . However publishers reviews covered most of it. Home alone again for the 25 as all very busy busy and roads bad which is the excuse i usually give to any inquires