I must admit that Christmas Eve has always been my favorite time of year. When I was a child it seemed “magical,” as we waited for Santa to bring us the gifts we would open the next morning. I know now, that though Jesus most likely wasn’t born on the night of December 24, the real gift of Christmas is what we celebrate on this most loved of holidays. I also know, as a former biblical counselor on a large church staff, that this is the time of year that heightens all our emotions–whether joyous or heart-wrenching. Right now I can’t help but think of the many families who have been impacted by various tragedies throughout this past year, particularly school shootings or other crimes involving our beloved children. Regardless of where they stand on the purpose for Christ’s birth, this has got to be the most difficult time for them that any human can experience.
We’ve all lost loved ones at some point in our lives, but our children? No pain can compare–except perhaps that of the Father, as He watched His only Son suffer and die at the hands of His own creation. And that’s the answer I give when asked, “Where is God when such a horrible event takes place?” He is where He always is, sitting on the throne in complete control and yet weeping with those who weep, hurting with those who hurt, mourning with those who mourn–because He’s been there and He knows better than anyone the tragic outcome of evil, selfish choices. The Scriptures say that God bottles our tears, and that one day in heaven He will wipe them all away. Until then, He stands waiting, His nail-scarred hands extended and ready to carry us through to the other side.
There are practical and creative ways we can offer our own hands and hearts to assist those who are experiencing grief beyond imagining at this time of year, whether it’s donating meals, money, or flowers, and I encourage you all to take advantage of those opportunities whenever possible. But I also encourage you to pray, not just when the pain is fresh but for a long time to come because losing a child isn’t something anyone will get past quickly or easily–possibly not ever on this earth. We may never personally meet any of those who have lost loved ones in such a manner, but we can give them a selfless gift at Christmas–a commitment to pray for them for as long as we have breath to do so. Then one day, when we have “graduated to heaven” and meet all those precious little ones who went on ahead of us, God will wipe away our tears as well.
A very blessed Christmas to you all, beloved, as you give of yourself to those who need an extra touch of Christ’s love.
Kathi has a host of great Christmas books! Be sure to visit her on her website:
We hear a lot about generics these days. Everything from prescription drugs to clothing has a no-name brand. The big draw is the lower price tag.
I've discovered another kind of generic: the generic holiday. Decorations adorn stores without the context of its meaning. In one store, the decorations were linked with the word, "dream." Ah yes, dream of those clothes and household items, and put them in your cart.
I'm sad today. I miss the Christmas Carols playing, the Merry Christmas greetings, the warmth of society celebrating one of the singular events in history - the birth of Jesus. We're left with the trappings of a holy-day, stripped bare of its meaning.
As a believer, I've committed to keep things in context. While I enjoy the decor and the fun, I'm in awe of the greatest gift I've ever received: forgiveness and a relationship with the One who created heaven and earth, Jesus Christ.
Writers and Readers: Has "generic holiday" sprung up among your retailers? What are some of the things you miss from past celebration?
Susan's new book The Christmas Wish is now available on Amazon. Check it out!
Friend and author Anne Baxter Campbell joins us today with a devotional on the Lost Coin. If you enjoy this devotional, check out her blog where she shares sermonettes and devotionals. http://pewperspective.blogspot.com
"Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.'" Luke 15:8-9
The word used in the Greek for "silver coin" was "drachma," which amounted to a day's wages for a typical worker. When a Jewish maiden married, her husband would pay a bride price, usually several silver drachmas (or the Jewish equivalent, a half-shekel coin). The woman would string them and wear them across her forehead.
These coins were sort of her insurance policy. If her husband divorced her or died, these would have to support her until she could find another means of income. Since women didn't usually work outside the home, a means of support would be hard to come by. The coins were all that stood between her and starvation.
You can understand, then, how precious each coin was. The woman would have been overjoyed at finding that one lost coin. That's just a fraction of how jubilant Jesus is each time one person goes from lost to found. Could that person be you?
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for sending Jesus to search for each lost person, each one who has lost his or her way to You. Thank You, Lord, for that day when You sought for and found me. I didn't know how much I needed You until that day, and I will never forget.
Anne's new book The Roman's Quest has just come out on Amazon! Check it out!
Antoine de St. Exupery is purported to have said, “If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them task and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
That quote draws me in, puts images in my mind of the vastness of the ocean, the vastness of our world and universe, the infinite vastness of God Himself. This I believe is what we aim for as writers of faith, to delve into that longing in our own being and to express it in ways that will draw others with us.
Think of a book you read that did that for you. It will live in your heart and mind for a very long time because it goes to the root of your being, your longing to be ever in the presence of God, your longing for truth.
The genius and the gift of art is that it can take us there. I remember feeling it in an art history class many years ago as I stared at the slides our instructor flashed on a large screen. "Just take these in," he said. I did and was never the same. That art changed me, made me more aware, more ready to receive, even though, at that stage in my life, I had no idea what I wanted or needed. Viewing those representations of artwork wrought centuries before took me a step closer to searching for God.
The frustration of every artist is the limitation of his/her own self that blocks the genius, prevents us from reaching into that longing and embracing it. But there is hope. There is Christ, who always beckons, always encourages, always leads us to Truth because He is Truth. Though we are flawed and incapable, He is able to reach through our words and draw the hearts to Him.
I love the quote from Exupery because I imagine the people, my audience - people whose minds and hearts and souls have been touched by art in a way that makes them want to build and launch their own ships, to begin the journey to God that will take them deep into His presence. And I love the journey of my writing craft, because it takes me there too.
“Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.” Psalm 43:3
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. The sequel to One Smooth Stone, A Tumbled Stone, was recently short-listed for an award at Write!Canada. A collection of devotionals for writers, Abundant Rain, is now available on Amazon.
Her new Christmas book is now available on Amazon!
If you agree to accept this mission...
It will cost You everything, including Your life. Streets of gold will be replaced with dusty roads. The adoration of angels there, but muffled by the hecklers in the crowd and those seeking to entrap You with words. Heaven's perfection a distant memory, while human suffering surrounds You.
You must succeed where Adam failed. Fulfill the law as a Spirit-filled man, my Son. Walk in harmony with Me. You'll be born free of the curse Adam brought upon the human race because I'll be Your Father, untainted by sin.
The reward will be great. After they torture and hang You on a cross, in three days I'll raise You from the dead. Mission accomplished.
Will You rescue them? Will You take on the challenge?
From the halls of heaven, His answer rang. "I will accept this mission."
Praise God, oh thank God, He did!
A widow, daughter, stepmom, and active church member, Susan resides in Pennsylvania. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, couponing, gardening, and finding small treasures in antique shops.
Susan J. Reinhardt's publishing credits include her debut novel, The Moses Conspiracy, as well as devotionals, short articles, and contributions to anthologies. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is represented by Joyce Hart, of Hartline Literary Agency.
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Amber Schamel was born in Littleton, CO and has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and the Holy Land. She was raised in a family of 11 children, home-schooled through education and currently works with their 10 family businesses. Amber is a multi-published author and currently lives with her family outside of Colorado Springs, CO..
(c) 2013 Amber Schamel