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    Keeping Grace at the Holiday Table

    When my husband and I would visit my parents, we liked to take bets about how long it would before my Dad would bring up the subject of the driverless car. After all, he was a transportation engineer for more than 3 decades, so he couldn’t help himself. It was fun for us to exchange knowing glances when the conversation really picked up steam, and Dad never disappointed.  Time with family can be so fun.  It’s often predictable.  I have highlighted a pleasant, recurring theme in my family, but I definitely have some recurring behavior that I unleash when I’m with my family that isn’t so sweet or benign.  So…

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    Celebrating Christmas Wrongly?

    Today is Christmas. Happy Jesus’ Birthday! But not everyone is on board with celebrating Christmas. I was recently in an online conversation with someone who asserts that “true” Christians would never celebrate the birth of the Savior because the scripture doesn’t command us to remember it, as we are told to do with Christ’s death. Luke 22:19 records Jesus’ instructions to celebrate the Lord’s supper: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” But the Bible bears no such instruction concerning His birth. So it must be wrong . . . right? I couldn’t disagree more. One of the things I most love about being a Christ-follower and a student of the…

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    Love, Life and Joy

    Several years ago, I hosted a neighborhood Christmas luncheon. When I got out my decorations, I asked myself, “What message do I want to give to the women as they come into my home?” Decorating is work; I wanted it to be meaningful! Over the years, I had collected a bunch of odds and ends stuff—mostly things given to me by my mom, our kids, or found in the attics of houses we bought. Recalling a book I read years ago called The Gifts of Christmas by Rachel Hartman, I remembered the author had taken the parts of the biblical Christmas story and considered them to be gifts (music, wonder, love…). Then,…

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    Advent: Hope in the Darkness

    “Advent” means arrival. This season looks ahead to Christmas, the miracle of God’s entrance into our world. We anticipate the baby born to die to redeem us from our sin. Although Jesus arrived in a broken world marked by rebellion, division, and sorrow, the Jews found hope in a wealth of prophecies that the promised Messiah was indeed coming to deliver them from the darkness. The gloom will be dispelled for those who were anxious. In earlier times he humiliated the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali; but now he brings honor to the way of the sea, the region beyond the Jordan, and Galilee of the nations.…

  • Heartprints

    Christmas: A Joyous Birth Story

    What brings you joy at Christmas? Of course, there are the usual answers: presents, fun decorations, and yummy foods. But looking deeper, what brings long lasting joy? While reading through the Christmas story recently, I was struck by how often the word “joy” (and its synonyms) appears. The fingerprints of joy appear everywhere, permeating the whole story. Consider for example: Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth— John the Baptist leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary arrives, and Elizabeth calls Mary “Blessed Among Women” (Luke 1:39–45). Mary’s Magnificat— Mary sings a song of praise to the Lord, proclaiming “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). The Angelic Proclamation to…

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    What is Christmas Without a Christ-child?

    The future of our world depends on steady hearts and strong hands from the next generation.   The next generation always comes to us first as a child. The children we teach today will be the future leaders of our homes, our churches, our country, and our world. They are valuable even when many times they don’t feel that value. Christmas is a perfect time to emphasize the importance that God has placed on children.  “The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation.”  — Ray L. Wilbur, third president of Stanford University “Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.”  — Wess Stafford, President…

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    Reincarnation: The Christmas Counterfeit

    24% of American Christians believe in reincarnation, the idea from Eastern religions that there is a merry-go-round of birth/life/death/rebirth, over and over again. This has spawned a fad of “past lives regression,” discovering aspects of previous incarnations. Wiki-how even offers instructions on “How to Remember Your Past Lives.” There’s a book called Past Lives of the Rich and Famous. Supposedly, Whitney Houston’s strong attachment to the gospel came from a moment in a previous life where she saw Jesus hanging on the cross. Liz Taylor used to be a Benedictine abbess in medieval Switzerland. Michael Jackson was the son of a royal courtesan in 100 B.C. Burma. And Marilyn Monroe…

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    The Importance of Thanksgiving

          I love Thanksgiving.   Actually, I don’t just love it, I need it.   I need a day that forces me to focus on being  thankful—taking pause to remember the good  things, the blessings God has provided—the  happy and the not so happy.    It’s easy in this Holiday season, with Christmas  fast approaching and Black Friday shopping  impending, to skip over Thanksgiving all  together.     We’ve already started making our lists and  maybe even decorated (not that there is anything wrong with that).  And, if you’re like me, the hustle and bustle of the season makes me start dreading Christmas all-together and I too soon start…

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    What’s Next?

    It’s quiet here. Maybe it is where you are too. The Christmas tree stills stands in the corner, but no one rushes to turn on the twinkling white lights anymore. Its trunk, once adorned with gifts, is bare. With the hustle of Christmas coming to a close, our homes grow still. Often our souls do too as if to take a deep breath. And in the silence, we ask questions. What’s next? It’s a question I’ve asked a hundred times this year and one that I’ll ask each day leading up to New Year’s. Perhaps you’re asking questions of your own. Maybe it’s been a year filled with joyful surprises.…

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    It’s the Most ???? Time of the Year

    Christmas isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Before you change my moniker to ‘Ebenezer’ or start singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” hear me out. I love Christmas. While I’ve disciplined myself to not pull out the trees and tinsel pre-Thanksgiving, I have been known to bust out Bing Crosby the day after Halloween. The wonder of the season is far from lost on me. I love the lights, the gifts, the music, the parties, the weather, the décor. I still get giddy on Christmas morning and try to soak up every bit of magic the season has to offer. And, as a devoted Christ-follower, I welcome the…