Jesus — The Reason For the Season

By: Rachel Hauck
Through the narrow scope of 2000 years, Mary, the mother of
Jesus, appears to be one lucky woman. Chosen by God to give birth to His son,
the Savior of the world? All right, Mary, way to go.
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with
you,” Gabriel said.
How many of us would like a declaration like that? Highly
favored. The Lord is with you. But Mary was greatly troubled at his words and
wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
The angel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and
the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will
be called the Son of God. Mary’s seems confident and resolved when she
responds, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
She’d just been told the Holy Spirit will come upon her,
that God’s power will overshadow her, that she’d become with child even though
she wasn’t married, and she said, “I’m the Lord’s servant. Let your words be
true.”
I find this amazing! A young woman. Ancient Bethlehem. Unwed
mother. They stoned women for such things in her day. But Mary believed in God.
And submitted to His will. He gave her the Holy Spirit – the same Holy Spirit
given to us. If He gave her confidence, He will give us confidence. Even
though, like Mary, our situation seems impossible.
Listen to Mary’s song later on in the first chapter of
Luke.
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my
Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on
all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things
for me Holy is his name…”
Conceiving a child out of wedlock, by Divine intervention.
Not a girl’s every day existence. Yet she had a Yes in her heart to God. She
rejoiced. She boldly said, “Generations will remember me!”
How we struggle to trust God with our children. Our
finances. Our emotional well-being. We worry. We fret. And wonder why we have
no peace.
Christmas is the season where words like joy, peace and love
are bantered around like Christmas candy. Let’s not take them as just words,
but as truth. Let’s be like Mary and embrace God’s favor on our lives. Boldly
declare “He’s done great things for me!”
Out of the grit of our own souls, we can
reach His heart, and feel Him reaching for ours.
No matter
the pain of our past, present or future, God is there for us. He is able. Best
of all, He is willing. “My soul glorifies the Lord this Christmas!”

***

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, best
selling author who believes God has done great things for her. She lives in
Central Florida with her husband and ornery pets. Her next release is Love
Lifted Me with multi-platinum country artist Sara Evans, January 2012. Then in
April, look for The Wedding Dress. www.rachelhauck.com.
Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!
Merry Christmas from all of us at Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoyed these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you missed a few posts, I hope you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog over the next few days. If you’d like to keep up with Pearl Girls and our new book project, Mother of Pearl, coming this spring, just click this link and sign up for our newsletter (lower left sidebar).
Also, just a reminder that today is the last day for the pearl necklace and earrings giveaway! Enter now by filling out this {form}. The winner will on 1/1 at the Pearl Girls blog.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

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The Panhandler’s Breath


By Robin Dance
He slipped in sideways between the closing elevator doors,
as if he were late to a meeting; he pressed the “5” without looking.
Instead of suit and tie, though, baggy pants and faded navy hung on his tall,
slim frame…and his stealth entry stiffened the hairs on the back of my
neck.
I had noticed him a few seconds earlier, just after we had
parted a sea of clamorous teens. He was smiling, grandfatherly, standing maybe
30 feet away where the electric shuttle picks up.
I had no idea he had been watching us, studying us, predator
patiently awaiting his next prey.
The four of us were sealed in a four- by six-foot metal
tomb. Tomb–that thought really scampered across my mind. I wondered if he had
a knife in his pocket. I wanted to protect my son. Fight or flight pumped
adrenaline but there was no where to run.
Extreme and ridiculous, these thoughts – and more – flashed
through my mind. The Stranger began speaking.
“Yessir, I see you’re a family man with your wife and
your son here…” and he nodded in my and my son’s direction.
“…you see I’m homeless and all I’ve got…” and
on queue, he reached into his left pocket and pulled out two old pennies
blackened with age. Two cents to his name?! It was all too contrived, too
practiced, and I didn’t believe a word he was saying.
It was then I smelled it ~ the small space lent itself to
that ~ and I doubted my doubt.
His breath.
It wasn’t the scent of alcohol. His eyes weren’t red, his
voice didn’t waver; his wizened face matched his graying hair.
His breath was morning’s, zoo breath, the pet name I’d given
to the scent inhaled when kissing my children awake when they were
little.
He needed to brush his teeth. I wondered how long it had
been since he brushed his teeth.
The elevator door opened and I handed him my leftover pizza
as my son and I brushed past him. My husband handed him a bill and the Stranger
thanked and God blessed him.
The elevator door closed behind us. Conflicted, I was
relieved.
We got in the car and blurted first reaction–
“I didn’t believe a word he said.”
“That made me nervous.”
“I wonder if he’ll really eat the pizza.”
In the quiet, we were left to our own thoughts,
contemplating the right thing to do. At the end of the day, this is what I
decided: It doesn’t matter whether or not his story is true; for an old man to
resort to begging, he has to be desperate. The money my husband gave him will
never be missed. It was a reminder we’ve been entrusted with much and given
much. Materially, yes, but more so spiritually. Loved, chosen, forgiven,
redeemed, graced, lavished–every spiritual blessing. E v e r y.
There’s a part of me that wishes I would
have been brave enough to ask the man his story, made sure he knew he was
loved…and bought him a tooth brush.
Later, it occurred to me he could have been an angel.
Doesn’t that mean generosity, kindness and hospitality is always the right
response? Then it’s not about you or the stranger or the circumstance, it’s
about a simple, God-glorifying response.
Had we entertained an angel unaware? We’ll never know.
But it wouldn’t be the first time the Breath of Heaven
smelled like a zoo.

***

In a decades-old, scandalous affair with her
husband, Robin also confesses mad crushes on her three teens. As Southern as
sugar-shocked tea, she’s a recovering people pleaser who advocates talking to
strangers. A memoirist, Compassion International Blogger, and Maker-upper of
words, Robin writes for her own site, PENSIEVE,
and also for (in)courage by DaySpring (a subsidiary of Hallmark) and Simple
Mom. She loves to get to know readers through their blog comments and on
Twitter and Pinterest. www.pensieve.me

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!
Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.
AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

Inside Out Christmas

By Debora M. Coty
My veterinarian friend, Dr. Katie, tells the story about the
December when a woman brought a very sick black lab into her clinic. The dog
was only ten months old, so she was really just a big puppy, but she’d been
vomiting incessantly and her worried owner didn’t know what was wrong.
“Why don’t you go on home?” Dr. Katie told the owner. “I’ll
need to run tests for about four hours. We’ll give you a call when we’re
finished.”
Dr. Katie’s assistant took x-rays and hung them on the light
panel for Dr. Katie to examine. Hmm. Something looked a little peculiar. Dr.
Katie called her assistant over.
“Is it just me, or does that look like a … a camel to you?”
she asked incredulously.
“Matter of fact, it does,” replied the astute assistant.
“And look, there’s an angel here, a shepherd there, and down there in the
colon, it’s Baby Jesus!”
At that moment the phone rang. It was the dog’s distraught
owner. “I can’t believe this! I just got home and glanced at the coffee table
where I put my manger scene yesterday. There’s nothing there but an empty
stable!”
As I thought about this quite literal technique for
internalizing the true meaning of Christmas, it occurred to me that sometimes I
have the opposite problem. With all the bustling busyness, my inner joy in
celebration of my savior’s birth never really makes it to the outside.
Oh, I have plenty of glittery, festive evidences of the
holiday in decorations, baking galore, and gifts under my tree. But those
things are for show. They’re merely the pretty wrappings, not the gift
itself.
Can people really see the core-deep joy that radiates within
me when I think of the true gift that Papa God sent the world in his son,
Jesus? Is my immeasurable gratitude for eternal life evident as I dash through
this hectic season?
I’m afraid all too often, the answer is no.
I’m just too preoccupied to allow my outside to reflect my
inside so that nonbelievers recognize that I rejoice because of the hope that
is within me. My joy is obscured by the mounds of clutter. Gratefulness is
sucked out of my soul by the vacuum called urgency.
“But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s
presence. Let them be filled with joy” (Psalm 68:3, NLT).
This verse has become my prayer this Christmas season – that
I would make the time to give priority to rejoicing, being glad in God’s
presence, and letting my inner joy show for those who may be silently desperate
to know the giver of true joy.
Yep, there’s a better way to internalize
the gift of Christmas than the black lab technique. We can lodge the Little
Lord Jesus in our hearts rather than our colons.

***

Debora M. Coty is a humorist,
inspirational speaker, and award-winning author of twelve books, including Too
Blessed to be Stressed, and coming in March, More Beauty, Less Beast:
Transforming Your Inner Ogre. Debora would love to swap Christmas hugs with you
at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!
Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.
AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

Simple or Sparkle?

By Tracey Eyster
It’s a simple ornament made of thin cheap metal and it looks
quite out of place on our CHRISTmas tree. But each year I lovingly and safely
nestle it amongst its expensive and sparkly peers, without a care as to how
unglamorous it appears.
Many of our CHRISTmas ornaments have a story and an uncanny
way of welling up emotion in me, but this certain one causes an intense
stir.
You see the ornament is engraved with the name of my
grandmother, Sara, and was given to me by my mother, who ordered it from
Hospice, after Grandmama’s death. Yes, the months leading up to her death carry
memories of a frail and failing grandmama, but that ornament carries my
thoughts to sweet CHRISTmas memories of the past.
CHRISTmas Eve dinners in her home, laughing, singing,
gathering and celebrating a year filled with blessings as we remembered the
birth of our Savior. CHRISTmas mornings, she was always there participating with
glee, in our raucous CHRISTmas happiness. Her gifts were always bank envelopes
gently tucked into the pine needles of our CHRISTmas tree, fresh cut from the
property she grew up on.
All memories of my Grandmama make my heart swell.
You see she was my Jesus with skin on. She lived her life full of
joy, serving others and approached life selflessly with an attitude of, “What
can I do for you?”
Just months before she left us, even as the Alzheimer’s was
robbing her mind she shared her love of Jesus with a sweet little old lady
friend, who came to know the Lord – a divine appointment.  The very
next day that little old lady silently slipped away to meet in person the One
Sara introduced her to just the day before.
At the time I wept, realizing that regardless of our own
frailties and failings, God can still use those of us who are willing to do His
work and are well practiced at hearing His voice…no matter our lack of
sparkle in comparison to others.
A simple life lived for Him, a simple ornament in memory of
Sara…a simple truth for you to ponder.

***

Tracey Eyster wife, mom, relationship
gatherer and Creator/Editor of FamilyLife’s MomLife Today is a media savvy mom
making a difference where moms are, on-line. Through speaking, writing and
video interviews Tracey is passionate about encouraging, equipping and advising
moms on every facet of momlife. Her first book, Be The Mom will be released
August 2012. You can connect with Tracey at www.momlifetoday.com, her personal
site www.traceyster.com or
www.twitter/momblog.com
.

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!
Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.
AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

Enjoy the Ride!


By Susan May Warren
We sit poised on the top of a cliff, a near drop off before
us, that falls to a rushing river. In the middle, a bridge of snow and ice
hints at our destination. My husband guns the snowmobile engine. “Ready?”
Ready? For a face plant into a tree, maybe reconstructive
surgery? To feel my stomach ripped from my body as we plummet down the
mountain? Let’s do it!
We live on five acres of woods in northern Minnesota that
butts up to a national forest. Hence, our backyard is about a hundred thousand
acres. Aside from harboring deer, lynx, fox, cougar and bear, it also makes
excellent snowmobile terrain. And not long ago, Mrs. Claus gave her Santa a
snowmobile for two.
I love snowmobiling. Flying over the snow, catching air over
drifts. I love to drive, to be at the helm of the beast as I weave around trees
and over hill and dale, my husband sitting behind me. I also love riding behind
my husband as he drives, feeling those powerful arms as he’s muscling the
snowmobile into the wilds. We follow unknown trails, driven by a Magellan
spirit, hoping that we have enough gas to get us back to civilization. I love
hanging on, simply trusting him, knowing that wherever he’s taking me, he’s
going first.
But there are times, when I see where he’s taking me, and I
just have to bury my head in his back. Like straight down a cliff.
However, my heart cheers, despite the terror as we gun it
down the hill, over the river, up the opposite side. And, if we hadn’t let
ourselves go, we would have never discovered the beauty of a winter river, a
hidden jewel buried deep in the forest. Nor the exhilaration of facing the challenge
together.
Further on, we find an enchanted forest of towering white
pine. Catch a view of Lake Superior, discover an old cabin in the woods.
It occurs to me that snowmobiling is much like my spiritual
life. Occasionally, I drive, and it’s me setting our course, weaving through
the trees, getting us hopelessly lost. But when God takes the “wheel” and I
hang on, trusting Him for the speed and destination, I see the scenery. I trust
him to keep me safe. I trust him to bring me home, where there is an eternal
supply of hot chocolate.
As Christmas season becomes more hectic, what if I let God
drive?  Maybe everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and maybe I don’t
have to control every tradition, every holiday nuance. What if I just held on
for the ride?
I’ll bet I’ll still get there, and I might even enjoy the
scenery along the way.
How have you let go, and “enjoyed” the
scenery of this hectic, exhilarating Christmas season?
Merry Christmas!

***

Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author
of thirty novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside Press.
 A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s
also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW
Carol Award.  A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular
writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning
writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel
in you!.  She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com,
a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.
Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!
Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.
AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

My Christmas Present to You!

Remember a few weeks back when I said on facebook that if you answered the question “What’s your favorite Christmas song?” you’d get a Christmas present from me?

Well, here it is! How about some Christmas decor that will have you humming your favorite Christmas tunes every time you see it? Enjoy this Christmas song printable, made just for you by me. Just go to the Free Stuff page, follow the links, download your choice of color schemes, and print. I printed mine on 8×10 cardstock, but you could send it to Walmart or Costco for inexpensive printing too.

Merry Christmas!
A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

Family Traditions: A Glimpse into Christmas Future

by Tricia Goyer
Have you ever thought about family traditions? As I helped
my 1-year-old place ornaments on the Christmas tree this year I imagined her
doing the same thing with her children—and maybe even grandchildren—one day.
Traditions are beliefs and customs handed down through generations. By sharing
meaningful moments with your kids you’re sending yourself into the future. How
amazing is that?
Sharing family traditions cause us to slow down from the
busy, adult world for a while. We ignore the laundry to set out the nativity
set with our kids. We set aside time in our schedules to drive around and look
at Christmas lights.
Holiday traditions aren’t only fun, they also help strength
family bonds. Through traditions kids trust in the security of family unit.
They think, “This is our family and this is what I do.” Of course, the most
important thing to share isn’t just what we do … but why. Why do we put out a
nativity? To remind us the real meaning of the season—Jesus coming to earth.
What do the Christmas lights represent displayed on homes and on trees? They
represent the Light of the World, Jesus.
Using traditions to bond our families and share our
faith isn’t new.
I love these two Scriptures that talk about that
very thing.
Exodus 12:25 says, “When you enter the land that the LORD
will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony.”
Psalm 78:4 says, “We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power,
and the wonders he has done.”
What are you’re traditions? Here are a few of ours:
Baking a Birthday cake for Jesus
Buying a new ornament every year for each child
Acting out the Christmas story (with props!)
Praying together before opening presents
What are your traditions? Write a list
and appreciate them in a new way this year. Then ask, “If I could add one new
tradition this holiday season, what would it be?” I’d love to hear what you
choose! It also makes me smile to think of your children’s grandchildren doing
the same.

***

Tricia Goyer is a CBA best-selling
author and the winner of two American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the
Year Awards (Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights). She co-wrote 3:16 Teen
Edition with Max Lucado and contributed to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Also
a noted marriage and parenting writer, she lives with her husband and children
in Arkansas. www.triciagoyer.com

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!
Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.
AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

Let The Baby Grow Up This Christmas

By Shellie Tomlinson
When I was a little girl, Christmas seemed to take forever
to make its way back to our little house on the end of a dirt road called Bull
Run in northeast Louisiana. We kids started counting down the days before the
leaves ever began turning. Sure, the adults said it came once a year but I
wasn’t so sure. Once Santa Claus left our humble abode it seemed like light
years before he found his way back to the Delta.
That was a child’s perspective. I imagine it hasn’t changed
all that much for today’s kids. On the other hand, I’m operating under a
completely different time frame these days. It seems like it was just yesterday
when I pulled the boxes down from the attic and began pulling out the nativity
scene, the miniature lights, and the keepsake ornaments. And now, just that
fast– Christmas Day is right around the corner. Soon the tree will be striped
naked and the piled up presents will all be distributed. After a few more day
it’ll be hard to remember who got what from whom, and once again, I’ll start
packing all the decorations away for another year.
I was thinking about how bare and cold the house
always looks after the holidays when I realized that, sadly, this
 scene would play itself out in many hearts as well.
A lot
of people will have had expectations that weren’t filled and many of those same
souls will be left with hurts that don’t seem to heal. Unless this year is
remarkably different from past seasons, my bet is, the New Year will bring
magazines full of articles on combating depression and the talk shows will have
experts on offering ways to fill the long days ahead and cure the winter
blues.
I’m no expert, dear readers, but I’d like to offer you a
suggestion that will go far beyond the creature comforts of a nice warm bath or
a delicious bowl of hot soup. Your heart doesn’t have to be bare and naked
after the holidays. Do you want to know the real secret? It’s simple, really.
Don’t pack up Christ with Christmas! As beautiful and special as the Christmas
story is, it’s only a part of heaven’s miracle. The Christ child grew into
a man and the man became a Savior.
This year, may we be determined to let the babe from
Bethlehem live on in our hearts. If we’ll allow Him to become the Messiah He
was born to be, the joy of Christmas can be ours all year long.

***

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is an author,
speaker, and radio host from Louisiana. Her latest release Sue Ellen’s Girl
Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy was endorsed by Jeff Foxworthy as
“laugh out loud funny!” You can find Shellie’s weekly southern
features, podcasts, video chats and more at http://www.allthingssouthern.com/
Make sure to get by the blog  and read about the Super Christmas Giveaway Shellie is hosting
for her readers and secure your chance to win a Mort Kunstler print valued
between $700 and $1400. www.allthingssouthern.com
Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!
Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.
AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

The Snowflake Party

By Deborah Raney
The first snow of winter hasn’t fallen yet, but in our
kitchen tonight we’re doing a pretty good imitation. The whole family is
circled around the huge old oak table. The snip, snip, snip of scissors is
background music as tiny scraps of white paper float down, making our floor
look like a giant brownie sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Tonight has turned out to be the night for our annual
Snowflake Party, a tradition that began when our children were toddlers. There
has never been a date blocked out in red on our calendar, but one day we wake
up and the brisk autumn air has turned bitter cold. Naked tree branches trace
their stark calligraphy on a dull grey sky and we need a taste of the joyful
promises of Christmas and snow. It’s the perfect time for a party.
On such a day, one of the kids will fly in the back door,
fresh home from school, and declare “Hey, Mom! Tonight would be a good night
for the Snowflake Party!” First we round up every pair of scissors in the
house. This is one time when sharing is not a virtue. While the kids search for
scissors, I cut white paper into squares and fold them caddy-corner multiple
times. The resulting triangles are artfully arranged in a basket, awaiting the
beginning of the party.
Later, while the supper dishes dry on the counter, I recruit
a volunteer to help me stir up a big pot of hot cocoa. For the next hour it
will warm on the back burner, tantalizing us with its aroma.
Now the fun begins with careful cutting and snipping,
shaping plain white paper into intricate works of art. Each snowflake we create
seems as unique and spectacular as the genuine variety created by God himself.
As each masterpiece is unfolded, collective oohs and aahs go up.
When the last dregs of our creative juices are drained, Dad
oversees the vacuum patrol while I pour cocoa into generous mugs. We spread our
handiwork on the floor around us and sit, quietly admiring our work while we
dunk marshmallows and sip rich chocolate.
With empty mugs piled up in the sink, it’s time for the
judging to begin. There will be awards for ‘prettiest’, ‘most unusual’, and as
many other categories as we need for everyone to be a winner. Dad is the judge
because he studied art in college. He also usually wins one of the top prizes––because
he studied art in college.
Snowflakes deemed runners-up might be pasted in scrapbooks
or hung on the refrigerator. A few even “melt” into the trash that very night.
But the winners are taped proudly to the picture windows in the living room for
passersby to enjoy while they long for the day when genuine snowflakes will
color the world clean and white.
Our oldest daughter went away to college last September. She
called just after Thanksgiving to tell me that her dorm window was covered with
snowflakes. No, not the real thing, but the ones she remembers from her
childhood––paper ones that she spent an entire evening cutting and snipping
while sipping hot cocoa.
That’s the neat thing about traditions:
They go with us no matter how far from home we
travel.

***

DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A Vow to
Cherish, inspired the World
Wide Pictures film of the same
title. Her books have since won the RITA Award, ACFW Carol Award, HOLT
Medallion, National Readers’ Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been
Christy Award finalists. After All, third in her Hanover Falls Novels series
will release next spring from Howard/Simon & Schuster. Deb and her
husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. Their four children are
grown now and having snowflake parties with their own children––and they all
live much too far away. Visit Deb on the web at www.deborahraney.com.

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!
Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.
AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

Why I Decorate for Christmas

By Elizabeth Goldsmith Musser
An old cassette tape of Christmas carols—received in a
package twenty years ago when we had first arrived in France as
missionaries—fills our den with delightful piano music as I place one more
ornament on the already over-laden Christmas tree.  This one is a
little white wooden rabbit with pink ears that move back and forth.
 It actually doesn’t look much like a Christmas ornament, but I bought
it for our baby Andrew when my husband Paul was in seminary, and I was working
for less than minimum wage in the library.  This ornament was
literally all I could afford.
As I hang it on the tree today, I get goose bumps and then a
rush of warmth.  And that’s why I decorate for Christmas.
 Not to impress but to remember.  I remember those lean, lean
years, and God’s faithful provision for us.
There are the cross-stitched ornaments I made our first year
in Montpellier—for the boys (for by now we had two sons) and Paul and me.
 How I ever had time to do that, I don’t know.  I remember
our puny little tree—the kind they sold in France back then—in a pot so that it
could be replanted later.  We perched that tiny tree on a small table
out of baby Christopher’s reach.  I guess I watered it too much,
because about halfway through December, it started smelling and then stinking,
and it rotted there on Christmas Day!
I smile with these memories.
I look at the other ornaments on the tree.  Many
were purchased—one for each boy—when we attended conferences around Europe, and
that makes me smile too.  Getting to travel on a missionary’s budget
to exotic places!  There are the waxed red bear and red baby carriage
from Wales, the brightly painted clay sun and moon from Portugal, the blue and
white porcelain windmill and wooden shoes from Holland, the hand-blown glass
Snoopys sitting on gondolas from Venice, and the delicately decorated eggs from
Prague.
Other ornaments include the little pinkish shiny ball
ornament with Paul’s name written in glitter—I think he made it when he was
about six , and the little red velvet bows, bought at Michael’s after Christmas
one year for a dollar.  They bring a unifying theme to the tree.
 I say this, smiling, because our tree is, and has always been
throughout the years, a hodge-podge of our life.  And I like it that
way.  I don’t think I could ever have a ‘theme’ tree.  Mine
is a ‘memory’ tree.
The music plays softly in the background and I smile through
tears, remembering God’s incredible faithfulness to call and keep us here in
France for so many years.  Heart-breakingly hard years, overwhelmingly
joyful years—the same years, the same amazing God, our keeper.
Before we left for the mission field, I memorized Psalm 121
in English and in French, and over the years I have held on tight to those last
beautiful words of the psalm:  The Lord will guard your going out and
your coming in from this time forth and forever. (NASB)
Of course He will.  He is God with us.
We decorate to remember Christmases past, our lives, our
legacy, and mostly, for those of us who have embraced Christ, we decorate to
honor and praise Him for coming to us—Emmanuel!  We make our homes
ready to receive the Christ Child, with soft music and candles burning and the
sweet flickering of angel wings on an over-laden evergreen.

***

ELIZABETH GOLDSMITH MUSSER, an Atlanta
native and the bestselling author of The Swan House, is a novelist who writes
what she calls ‘entertainment with a soul.’  For over twenty years,
Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work with
International Teams.  They presently live near Lyon, France. The
Mussers have two sons and a daughter-in-law. The Sweetest Thing (Bethany House,
2011) is Elizabeth’s eighth novel. To learn more about Elizabeth and
her books, and to find discussion questions as well as photos of sites
mentioned in the stories, please visit www.elizabethmusser.com and her Facebook
Fan Page
www.elizabethmusser.com
Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas

Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Sibella Giorello and more)! Please follow the series through Christmas day as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year.
AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

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