by Lauren Thornhill

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.     I Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

“Down, Nolan!” I cried out to my toddler student who had gripped the top of the toy shelf and had propped his feet on the second level.

I couldn’t stop his Tarzan-like abilities. I had one hand on another boy’s stomach to keep him from crawling off the changing table and erratically waved the other at Nolan. He smiled wickedly but obeyed. After I finished changing everyone, I lingered behind the changing table, half-hiding from the storm of boys. I was scared of making mistakes.

I was a full-time college student and a part-time daycare teacher. The Christmas season had come but the real Christmas spirit wasn’t in me. Only caring for toddlers and passing finals mattered, until I heard my favorite Christmas song play over the chaos: “Kadosh” by Beckah Shae. (Listen here) The song reminded me of all that He had done for me and how insignificant my struggles were in comparison.  rawpixel-com-460971

Immediately I felt God’s love overtake my fear and fill me with courage. Tears filled my eyes and I jumped in the middle of my students, telling each one how much I loved them.

Mighty God, help me to never forget Your love and sacrifice  in the weight of life’s difficulties, and to express Your love in my actions.


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By Cathey Edgington


The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.      Psalm 121:8 NIV

When I was ten years old, the chore I disliked the most was taking the trash to the cans in the alley behind our house.  The dark trees and dense bushes scared me especially after I heard about the strange man living in the trees.  The day after Christmas, I didn’t do my chores as I lost track of time playing with my presents. Momma told me I still had to take out the trash even in the dark.  I gathered the trash, went out the back door, looking around me with every step I took.  I scanned the yard as I passed Daddy’s


Photo: Bob Ricca / unsplash

workshop and garden.   My heart beat louder and faster with every step I took.  Finally I reached the gate, opened it, and threw the trash bag in the can, turned, and ran back to the house.  I entered the kitchen out of breath and jumped when I heard the back door open.  I saw my sister entering, laughing.  Momma had sent her to keep watch over me and my sister said she’d never seen me run so fast.

On the night Jesus was born, shepherds watched their flocks.  Today the great Shepherd watches over me.  When life seems difficult or frightening, I remember Jesus is there.


Dear Lord, Watcher of Your children, even during the         storms of our lives, You are there. Thank you, Jesus.


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Love, Daddy


By Monica Clegg

But we will arm ourselves for battle and go…. Numbers 32:17 NIV

One of my favorite childhood possessions is a Christmas card signed simply, “Love, Daddy.” All four of us kids got one just like it that year. That was the year my daddy spent  Christmas alone. That was the year of Vietnam. The rest of the family spent Christmas in a house in Columbus, Georgia, living room decked out with a silver tinsel tree lit by a four color  revolving light. We prayed for his safety and bravely silenced the fears whispering the worst.



photo by joanna kosinska / unsplash

I don’t have a lot of memories of that Christmas except this: my Daddy wasn’t there. So many times we all had to put on a brave face and go on with our lives because we knew soldiers didn’t cry. We oohed and aahed over gifts that came in the mail, but we each knew our real gift would arrive months   later when he walked through the door and finally put our fears to rest.


Thank you Father for the brave men and women willing to fight battles for this country. Thank you for keeping their families safe in their absence and for the joyful reunions to come.


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A Change of Plan


By Alfred W. Bates

Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  Matt 1:19 NIV

For many years at Christmas time, I have read the story of Jesus’ birth to my children and grandchildren. They, as well as the adult’s present, listened eagerly to Luke’s version, which I usually read. I have never tired of reading or hearing this story of God’s gift of love to us all.

When I first read Matthew’s version of Jesus’ birth, I was struck by the experience Joseph had with an angel. No other man has ever encountered the same. The angel of the Lord told Joseph to take Mary as his wife, although she was with child. Joseph knew her situation was not of his doing and he surely had many questions concerning Mary. The angel assured him what was conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit. Joseph then received courage and changed his plan to God’s plan. He followed the angel’s guidance and took Mary as his wife. Joseph knew the child she carried would be named Jesus, but not that He would become God’s sacrificial lamb for the sins of all mankind.

holy famly Joseph found his courage to do the right thing. We all have opportunities to glorify God, but sometimes we lack courage to make the right decision for Him.

Heavenly Father, help us have courage throughout the year  to make decisions that glorify You.


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Open the Package


By Raquel Martina Martinez

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven, give, and it will be given to you.       Luke 6:37-38 NRSV

For the past eight years, instead of sending Christmas cards, I have mailed devotional books. Over the years word has spread among my family and friends, and more prefer the book to a card. At  present the advent devotional goes out to over sixty families the week after Thanksgiving, and most seem to enjoy them.

shannon-henriksen-166124 On two occasions I had books returned.  The first year the address label came off the package, and the Post Office returned it using my return address.  Worried that a loved one had not received their gift, I taped over the address labels the following year, but it happened again.  This time it was obvious the recipient had carefully peeled it off.

Maybe their intention was to return it so I could give it to someone else; maybe they object to what it represents. I do not let it intimidate me from sending out books each year to everyone on my list. I continue to love them all, and I pray that one year, they find the courage to tear open the package instead of tearing off the label.

Lord, bless all who receive this tiny book.  Open their eyes and hearts to your words of love and forgiveness.


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Hold Your Peace


By: Kelly Harris


The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.

Exodus 14:14 NKJV


While in prayer for words to share with a dear Sister in Christ, Father laid these on my heart. Just as they were presented to her as a gift I pray they are a gift to you. From my heart to yours, Merry Christmas.



Like the Israelites standing at the sea,

staring at the army and crying for me.

I see you.

A fear comes when you shift your eyes.

When your circumstance mounts up to the highest of highs,

and something else comes before the last tear dries.

I see you.

You wage war on yourself.

Then you bleed on to someone else.

I see you.

I am the Lord your God.

I will fight for you,

and you shall hold your peace.

I tell you my child,

you’re not under fire.


Cease, with the guilt.

Cease, with the shame.

Cease, with the unworthiness.

I called you by name!

Follow My leading.

My whispers be heard.

Let flesh emotions be fleeting.

Let your actions show My Word.

I love you My child, more than you know.

I’ve got this fight, I tell you, let go!

Then, like for Moses with his arms high and wide.

I’ll part the waters and cause the sea to divide.


Lord, sometimes the greatest amount of courage is required     to be still and heed Your leading amidst adversity.






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Wrong is Wrong


By Rodolfo Dumapias


Says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.’

Psalm 91:14 NIV


“Let them in,” Mr. Du instructed the maid although the gate bell rang late in the evening. He knew one of the three men wanting to see him: the commander of the security force   protecting his country’s Foreign Office. He wondered what was so urgent as the visitors entered his house with a large basket.

“Sir, as the Foreign Department Head of Intelligence and Security, please approve the extension of stay of twenty foreign women sponsored by our company,” requested one     visitor.

Mr. Du remembered the case: his officers discovered the women engaged in prostitution and espionage for a foreign power, catering to high government officials.

“Merry Christmas,” the other visitor spoke as he lifted the vegetables from the basket revealing bundles of cash. Simultaneously, both visitors unzipped their jackets exposing .45  caliber revolvers.


Syndicate. Bribery! Mr. Du surmised. Two with more firepower than my .38. They can kill my wife, maid and me; our daughter orphaned. Yet, he declared, “If they’re justified, I’ll approve. No gifts, please. If wrong, they remain denied.” With a raised hand, he exclaimed: “In Jesus’ name!”


The men froze. Mr. Du instructed the maid, and she brought the basket and its contents outside the gate. He bid goodbye, and the three left, speechless. The following day, he fired the commander.

Lord, protect all who remain obedient to Your righteousness  in these perilous times. Amen.


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