Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

To all of our members, our moms, our sisters, and a few brave men, please know that you are in my heart and prayers every day. I only know a few of you personally but I know the spirit within you, the Spirit of the Most High God, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is who bonds us together in love. We exalt Him and thank Him for all the answered prayers we have had this year. Together we are strong. You are loved! By me.

Merry Christmas 2015

Kinsman Redeemer

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

For the first time in my life I looked at the calendar and knew my father's birthday. I am 64-years-old. What took so long? To whom do I owe gratitude for this gift?

The last time I remember seeing my dad I was eight-years-old. As far as I know we never lived together as a family in the little valley just west of Chattanooga, Tennessee where I was born. He was in the military; my mom was a child bride. We lived with my grandmother who taught piano lessons, played at Flintstone Baptist Church, raised chickens and made the best apple jelly I ever tasted.

Kinsman Redeemer is a beautiful title and that is what I think whenever thoughts of Uncle Henry Collins come to mind; an uncle I never really met until this summer, although he said he came to see me when I was a baby. Those of us who don't have roots or don't have complete roots on one side of their family might relate to the happiness of finding my 88-year-old Uncle Henry.

To find the meaning of the term I Googled, of course:
"What is a kinsman redeemer?"

Answer: The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need...

This definition resonated with me as many times I’ve been in trouble, danger, or in need. Through the years I tried to find out about my dad but my mom really didn’t want to talk about her short-lived marriage. Not having good relationships with stepfathers, I came to the conclusion, “Who needs a dad?” I lived that way for a long time. Maybe that is what pushed me to look for a Savior, a Father who wouldn’t disappoint me.

Yet many times as Father’s Day approached, I’d look online, in phone books and more, trying to find paternal roots. I thought Uncle Larry was a friend of my dad’s family and tried to talk him into giving me information and phone numbers. I found Uncle Henry’s name in the phone listings, and asked him about a Henry Collins but he said no, he didn’t think we were related. After Uncle Larry’s death I realized he’d had early onset Alzheimer’s and just couldn’t remember the connection. I grieve the lost years of joy I could’ve experienced if I’d known my Uncle Henry sooner. I'd already found out by accident that my dad, Donald, had died exactly one week after my Mama died seventeen years ago. So I knew to quit looking for him but it was only last year that I had that information.

But, lo and behold, I found my uncle by way of Facebook! Baxter Little, an old friend of my mom’s, saw a post where I was looking for relatives or kin as they still say in Chattanooga Valley. So, I'm dedicating my Christmas note to my new kinsman redeemer, Uncle Henry, not in the biblical sense, but as the redeemer of memories, dates, people, and happy thoughts. When I talk to him, I think it's nearly like talking to my own dad and I’m grateful for that. He gathered the family and gave me pictures and even made a tape for me to listen to about family roots when I went to visit. Move over, Alex Haley, I might write the next Roots book, yet! I’m blessed with his sense of humor when we talk on the phone and one day he even sang me a song. Thinking about that makes me cry, it was so sweet. I love to hear his voice and it brings joy to me whenever he calls.

Uncle Henry never had a child and I never had a real dad relationship; I give credit to my last stepfather, John, who tried to be a dad to me. But as I said before my heart was so cold towards fathers that only the Lord could melt it. I wondered for years why my own dad didn’t try to find me, but I’m letting it rest as best I can. I’m happy to have met my other family that I never knew and what I’m learning is, just enjoy each one of my family members at whatever times we can get together. Yes, I’ll probably never let go of that dream planted deep in my heart to one day have the whole family, all children and grandchildren in the house together, loving each other and having compassion for each one’s journey in life. But some of our dreams don’t always come true this side of heaven. That helps us look forward to the day that the circle will be unbroken and Jesus will make all things new for us.

Donna Collins Tinsley

Y’all know me enough to know at Christmas
I have to honor my true Kinsman Redeemer,
Jesus Christ, my Lord.

Kinsman Redeemer

Kinsman Redeemer,
Be that to me
Kinsman Redeemer,
Oh let me see
A family redeemed
By the blood of the Lamb
A family in love
With the great I Am.

Mismatched, but sorted out
Pain and bitterness aside,
Let us show love
Let the bygones slide,
This Christmas season.

Kinsman Redeemer
What a beautiful thought
That You, O Lord
My God, have brought

Kinsman Redeemer,
Lover of my soul
You, alone
Can make us whole.

Take the broken chains of our hearts
Seal them with love,
Please, give us all a new start.

Let the oil of healing
And truth be our own,
Kinsman Redeemer,
Stand up by Your throne

Declare and decree,
What I cannot do,
Bringing about
A family healed by You.

Merry Christmas from Donna Collins Tinsley 2015

Although it's Christmas Eve it's also Thursday, a great day for recovery in the state of FL.

Lord, help families to heal this day and to walk before You in peace and healing we pray.

Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings

How It Works:

When ready, we say something like this: "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen." We have then completed Step Seven.

-A.A. Big Book p.76

Reposting this video because it is holy.


  1. A wonderful post, Donna, and I love the poem.
    Blessings and shalom,

    1. I miss you Gail! I hope we can get together in the new year.