The Courage to be Alone


Laverne Stanley


  …For He Himself has said, “I will never   leave you nor forsake you.” 

                          Hebrews 13:5 NKJV                                          


Well, Tommy, it’s another Christmas without you. I miss you so much. I’m doing okay but feel so alone. No one understands or cares. The drunk driver who ended your life will be out of prison soon, free to live his life. That really hurts. How can I forgive him? He took too much away from me….from us. She looked up at the darkening sky. It’s beginning to snow so I better get home. I love you.


The walk from the cemetery seemed longer than usual. It was dark by the time she arrived home. She checked her mail. No Christmas cards.  Tossing aside the after-Christmas ads, she saw an envelope addressed “Julia” in gold script. She sat in his chair by the fire and read:


Dearest Julia,

Oh, My Child, how I love you. I feel your anger and grief. Please forgive the young man who 20161216_161005.jpghas caused you such pain. He, too, is lonely and needs Me. Be assured that you are never alone. Have courage! I will never leave you or forsake you.

Loving you, Jesus


Julia bowed her head in prayer.

Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me so. Thank you for caring for those who are alone and reminding us that you are always with us. Help us to have the courage to be alone.


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Happily Ever After


By Raquel M. Martinez

A gift opens the way and ushers the giver  into the presence of the great.                          Proverbs 18:16 NIV


In Christmas movies, all problems resolve themselves through the magic of the holiday.  The lonely find true love, presents abound, and the rent is paid. Childless couples pair up with children in need of a family.  A deployed soldier surprises everyone and comes home on leave while Mom in her Sunday best whips up a complete holiday feast within minutes.

Everyone lives happily ever after.

As you plan your holiday season, ask yourself, how does one get through Christmas when real life does not compare to the reel life? What would be on your Christmas list if you found yourself lonely, homeless, or abandoned? What if you were unable to celebrate the kind of Christmas everyone else seems to enjoy on television?joanna-kosinska-454958

Count your blessings and take your courage in hand. Extend yourself and give to those in need. Offer a smile or make a phone call to lift a lonely person’s spirit.  Visit a hospital or a nursing home to brighten a sick one’s day. Volunteer at a shelter and offer a helping hand. Give happily. The gift of yourself is more valuable and more rewarding than any found in a TV Christmas movie.

The Lord will surely bless you beyond measure this Christmas.


Lord, remind us it is not in the receiving but in the giving          of oneself that leads to a true “happily ever after.”


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Abundantly More


By Denisse Warshak


Be strong and let your heart take courage,

All you who hope in the Lord.                      Psalm 31:24 NASB


The doll was expensive. I’d spent the last hour on the American Girl doll website. I wanted our daughter to have a special gift, and shipping was free only today. Still, placing this order would mean taking a financial risk. I couldn’t do it.

2012 was trying for us. With my husband sick and out of work, we’d survived financially on the generosity of friends and family. As the year came to a close, we put on a brave face wanting to give our children the best Christmas possible.

tim-gouw-165547I’ll think about it. I have all day.

Later that morning my phone buzzed. “Would you stop by the office today? There’s something here for you.”

Hmm. I didn’t order anything, but okay.

When I arrived, the secretary reached under the counter for three boxes. Inside, gifts were wrapped in three different patterns. Tears filled my eyes.

“From your Christmas Angels,” she said. “And this one is for you.” She handed me a red envelope with a card explaining the gifts.

Merry Christmas! The blue gifts are for Jack, the green are for Luke, and the pink are for Emma. Feel free to exchange anything you’d like. There are receipts for everything, except the American Girl doll.


Dear God, thank you for providing our every need.                     And although you don’t have to, thank you for giving us           the desires of our hearts.


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Facing Failure


By Allison Pittman


For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.        2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV


Our son brought a shadow to Christmas. Home from his third semester in college, he crept around responses to questions like: How were your finals? Did you pull out that math grade? He kept a stoic face when he opened his “big” gift. He tore into his stocking, tossed the candy and counted the cash. He feigned sleep when we all left for our traditional Christmas Day movie, and didn’t make eye contact later when we assembled for an awkward dinner.

rawpixel-com-460971    After a deep, bracing breath, he said, “I failed.” His nineteen-year-old face tried to fight back tears. He wouldn’t be getting the second disbursement of financial aid. He was on academic suspension. The spring semester loomed like a giant leap of defeat. He was angry, disappointed, embarrassed. This was his first taste of failure, but ultimately the sweetest moment of that Christmas because it launched us into a New Year of encouragement. As co-signers on the lease, my husband and I paid half his rent. Our son doubled his work hours to meet all his other life expenses. The next fall, he re-enrolled and led Freshman orientations; this spring, he graduates.

And wants to go to law school.


Heavenly Father, thank you for extending your grace to us,  your children, so that we can give our children the same.


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Ordinary Superheroes


by Van Daele S. Mabrito


…And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.    Matthew 9:9 NKJV


Bright colored lights on a green Christmas tree radiated the warm joy of our family celebration. I remember opening my gift to discover a Davy Crockett outfit with coonskin cap. The perfect superhero outfit for a boy in my day!


Wonder Woman recently broke box-office records while other superhero movies captured peoples’ imaginations worldwide. Why the fascination with superheroes?


When Jesus risked all to leave Heaven’s perfection for earth to die and resurrect to rescue us, He became the template for all superheroes. He also gave us His own nature.


igor-ovsyannykov-174017Superheroes thrill us because they echo God’s own story He’s wired into our soul. Now Father God invites us and our families to risk following a great adventure with our superhero Jesus in His great and noble Heavenly quest that will outlast us unto eternity.


Christmas is not only our Father’s invitation to celebrate, but to dare to be a superhero in Messiah. To share His rescuing love and grace with those we meet in the great epic story God has been telling since the dawn of time.


Father, I choose to dare to believe you have renewed me in the likeness of our Messiah Jesus to by Your grace be a superhero in our day to reach the lost, hurt and perishing     with your great love.


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Chicks and Goats and Calves


By Christine L. Henderson


Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?       Isaiah 58:7 NIV


I recently received an update from a friend’s daughter and her husband who are missionaries in Honduras. Their two cows were slaughtered by thieves who left the severed heads and hides in the missionary’s pasture area. The theft was compounded by the fact that the mission housed orphans who depended on the nourishment of the cows’ milk. Yet in their time of need, this missionary couple had courage and faith to trust in God and continue to assist their neighbors.

This event took me back to the many years that kids in my Sunday school classes would collect monies in cardboard banks to help provide chicks, goats and calves for families in need in other countries. This missionary family put a face and name on those who benefit from these gifts.

ben-white-170547It’s estimated that the average American family will spend over $1000 getting the latest gadgets, toys, and candies for their children; while other families around the world only wish for daily sustenance.

Heavenly Father, we may not be able to help every needy family in the world, but we can start with one family. Open our hearts and wallets to the needs of others.


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The Gown


By Rodolfo Dumapias


“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.   Isaiah 54:17 NKJV

“When Miriam converted at age eighteen to Christianity, her family was so embarrassed because she abandoned her Islam faith,” an evangelical lady pastor related during my trip to the Middle East.

“Her father tortured her…then tried to shoot her. But the gun jammed,” continued the pastor. “Since Miriam still refused to deny Christ, the father stripped off her clothes and threw her into the street. Exposed, humiliated, and hurting, she shivered and cried in the cold Christmas night. Then a Muslim neighbor had pity on her. She took her in.”

“Took her in?” I asked. “Didn’t they realize that being beaten and thrown out from home—naked—she was condemned for a serious violation of her family’s tradition, honor, and religion?”

ben-white-170547     “Naked? Yes. The father later confirmed that. But…strange…the neighbors insisted Miriam was wearing a beautiful bridal gown.”

“That’s impossible,” I exclaimed.

“You know what else is unbelievable? Her white gown was spotless despite the bleeding on her face and body,” replied the Christian pastor. “What I saw and heard that night changed me. I was that Muslim neighbor.”


Lord Jesus, give courage and strength to those who come           to you, for many face persecution and death as they hold on      to Your promise of salvation.


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