"...and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over where the Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him..." (Matthew 2:9)
At Bell Meadows Farm Miniature Donkeys and around the world Monday evening, many were watching for the Christmas Star otherwise known as the Star of Bethlehem. On this night, two planets, Jupiter and Saturn came together, almost converging, radiating a bright light that excited and caused many to pause. With that pause, a moment of solitude to remember the reason behind the story.
Melanie Bell is the owner of Bell Meadows Farm Miniature Donkeys. She had expressed a desire to have a manger scene built for the farm. Bell's son Dustin and wife Hillary started thinking about her request. The thought was, 'why not make it a stable with a hay manger for the donkeys to use and enjoy.' And that's what they set out to do.
Dustin said, "We got the sawmill slabs from a local farmer that uses it for firing tobacco." The slabs are the outer part of the log where its rounded. The stable didn't take long to build. Dustin and his dad had it ready to go in less than six hours. In addition to the physical structure, the pair constructed a hay manger and a cross that was built out of the slabs as well.
For special effect, they attached a solar powered flag light to illuminate the cross at night. "As long as the sun is shining for most of the day, the light should last most of the night," said Dustin.
Bell wasn't expecting a life-size stable, she was expecting a manger scene. It was hard to keep it a secret until Christmas. So, the family planned a surprise unveiling for mom. "Me and Dad had fun. Mom really was surprised when we walked into the barn." Dustin said she knew something was up but didn't know what.
If you're wondering why a stable or a manger, Bell explains:
The reason behind the family wanting the stable is simple...they wanted people to remember the Christmas story. "My family wants people to remember that Christmas is about Christ Jesus being born. That's why we celebrate Christmas," said Bell.
"The light shines on the cross at dark to pay tribute to Christ's birth, life, and ultimate sacrifice on the cross," said Bell. She went on to say that the commercialization of Christmas has many forgetting the reason for the celebration. She said, "It's not about Santa Claus or Black Friday specials. We want the stable to be a reminder that the King of kings and Lord of lords was born in a stable and placed in a manger."
The Bells plan to leave the stable up until after Easter. "If we get time, we may add a star over the top and have a light on that too." she said.
The donkeys have grown to appreciate the stable, especially after Bell added hay to the hay manger. "They weren't sure about it at first, but they want hay, so they all get in the stable now." said Bell.
Each afternoon, Bell heads out to the stable and fills the manger up with fresh hay. It's a gift that Dustin and his Dad made for mom and a gift Bell is sharing with the community of Lone Oak.
If you're interested in seeing the stable, Bell Meadows Farm is on Lovelaceville Road. The gift is very close to the road inside the fence. If you drive by during the day its easy to spot. If you drive by at night, the illuminated cross will provide plenty of light.