An original cartoon by CAN author and  parenting guru, Sarah Hamaker

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I was an aggressive young journalist chasing the big story.

A young woman had come from Nazareth to Bethlehem with the man she’d pledged to marry. Obviously pregnant, she hadn’t let rumors about her unusual circumstances keep her from making the journey to register for tax purposes.

I always did extensive research before an interview, and I’d tracked every tip about these two individuals, Mary and Joseph, unexpectedly cast in the most significant drama in human history.

A relative, Elizabeth, confirmed Mary had visited her following a strange occurrence. An angel had appeared to Mary, a virgin betrothed to Joseph, announcing she would become pregnant by the Holy Ghost, and the child would be the Son of God.

How could that happen? A baby without a human father? Son of God? Could a skeptical journalist believe such preposterous claims?

In Bethlehem, humanity flooded the streets—droves pouring in from surrounding provinces to pay taxes. I overheard anxious conversations about a young woman who appeared ready to give birth. An innkeeper said the husband had asked about a room.

“No vacancy!” he said. He’d directed the weary travelers to a stable nearby but still seemed frustrated that he couldn’t provide a comfortable room.

Weaving through the commotion, I located the place and paused to consider how this incredible story might impact my career. I sensed an award-winner.

Without being offensive, I’d ask tough questions, starting with Joseph.

What were you thinking, making this journey with Mary so close to giving birth?

There’s a rumor that you did not father this child. Any comment?

Why should anyone believe that outrageous story about how Mary became pregnant?

I’ve heard the baby is the Son of God. What do you say?

Reviewing my notes I started to speak then seemed frozen in time.

Something about that historic night—dark yet bathed in brilliance. Something about that young mother—pained yet radiant with joy. Something about that adoring husband—humble yet exploding with pride. Something about that modest manger—rugged yet strangely reverent. Something about that holy child—helpless yet having authority.

An infant king lay wrapped in swaddling clothes. Enveloped in awe, I slipped away without disturbing the royal family.

Centuries later in my reality, I’d bow before that King, claiming him as Savior and Lord.

“…Give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

(See Luke 1:26-45; Luke 2:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25, John 1:14 NIV.)

(First published December 17, 2015 Christian Devotions. Revised and reprinted by permission www.christiandevotions.us.)

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned. She began writing at 18 when she landed her dream job, writing for her local newspaper, and wrote her first book at 24. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

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Have you ever wondered what it was like that first Christmas? Let your imagination wander.

A young engaged couple have to go to Bethlehem and register to be taxed. When they arrive, there’s no place to stay. Finally, they find a stable to bed down. Then Mary goes into labor. What obstacles!

(Did Joseph find a midwife or did he help Mary himself? In those days, men didn’t attend a birthing, so what did Joseph think?)

Then after all that excitement dies down, shepherds show up saying they heard the news of the birth from angels singing in the sky. Angels. Not just one—a choir!

I’d be overwhelmed and groping for answers, as I’m sure Mary and Joseph must have been. But God didn’t leave them out in left field without any help or forewarning. Mary had received a visit from Gabriel (not just any angel). Joseph had a vision reassuring him everything was all right. They might not have understood in the beginning, but God had prepared them.

What situation are you facing right now? Think back and see how God has prepared you for the challenge. For me, it’s a second round of cancer. I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma before. Now it’s non-Hodgkin’s.

I think of the blessing I’ve been given through these trials. With the first round of cancer, I had no grandchildren. Now I am blessed with two little bundles of joy one year apart.

There is nothing too hard for our God. So give the gift of your smile and heart to those around you. It’s the gift they will cherish for years.

Leann Harris, an author and a teacher of the deaf, has always had stories running around her head. She started writing when her youngest child started school. Her first book was published in 1993. She’s published Harlequin through her eighteenth book. She’s written romantic suspense, inspirational romantic suspense, futuristic and inspirational romance. She has also ventured into Indi books. Her series Legacy of Lies includes The Last Lie and The Last Truth. A cancer survivor, she rejoices in each day.

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One day, my friend, Kim, was teaching her toddler about the American flag. She pointed to the stars on the flag, and told the little girl that each star was for one of the 50 states in our nation—like Arizona, Texas,California, Ohio, Wisconsin, and so on, until she listed all of the states.

When Kim finished, her little girl looked up and with wide-eyed innocence said, “Which star is for Baby Jesus?”

Thank  you, Jackie M. Johnson, for sending us this and sharing it with us!


Jackie M. Johnson is an author and blogger. Her books include Power Prayers for Women, the breakup recovery resource When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty and Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. Jackie also blogs for singles at Living Single on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk website.

 www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com

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I love after-Christmas sales! Wrapping paper, ornaments, and Christmas cards are available at greatly-reduced prices.

One year while buying groceries in a super-store, I steered my cart to the Christmas aisle—just out of curiosity. And there it was—a beautiful, hand-painted ceramic nativity set on display at seventy-five percent off!

Several boxed sets were on a shelf, so I took one and placed it on the bottom rack of my cart. When I got home, I left the box intact and slid it in my Christmas closet.

The winter months came and went, as did spring, summer, and fall. Soon it was December and I began unpacking my Christmas closet to decorate our home. That’s when I found it again—the box with the nativity set I had forgotten.

I opened the box and gently lifted each piece. I arranged the scene on the marble-top sideboard in the foyer, so it would be the first Christmas item people would see as they walked in the door.

Forgetting about the nativity set in my closet reminded me how easy it is to forget the real meaning of Christmas. Decorating, shopping, entertaining, and baking cookies jump to the forefront as Jesus remains in the background.

This Christmas I want to keep Jesus front and center. I want people to see Jesus in me when they enter my home.

I know this phrase has become cliché, but I still love to hear it.

Jesus is the reason for the season.

Crystal Bowman is a best-selling and award-winning author of over 100 books for children. She also writes lyrics for children’s piano music and stories for Clubhouse Jr. magazine. She is co-author of Our Daily Bread for Kids, M is for Manger, and Does God Take Naps?

 

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