This Christmas, I had the joy of speaking at many women’s teas and Christmas events. My message was on “Christmas Light” and it is based on our family’s Christmas Advent Wreath and Dinner and Dialogue tradpam speak christmas ncc 2015ition. We use Isaiah 9:6 as the center of our celebration and conversation because it is the center of the hope and light we all enjoy because of Christ’s birth.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”

This Christmas, which name of Christ are you leaning on? Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father or Prince of Peace?

Those same four names can lead us to creative ways to bless back those who have been a blessing to us during the past year. In doing so, we reflect the light of God’s love.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light (Psalms 36:9)

advent wreath candlesFor those who have blessed you, not just personally, but professionally, let’s look at 4 simple ways you can boomerang back some of the blessings that have been extended to you:

Wonderful Counselor: Give those who supported you a little support too. Send them a book (video, conference scholarship, a meeting with a mentor or counselor, a day away at a conference grounds for solace) that equips them for an upcoming important event in their life (marriage, birth of a child, care for a parent), or comforts or lends wisdom for a struggle he or she might be working through (that they may have shared with you).  This can be a fun way to express your creativity too. For example, we often give our book, Men Are Like Waffles, waffle spaghetti with ws bookWomen Are Like Spaghetti,  and wrap it in a pasta bowl with spaghetti noodles, waffle iron with waffle mix and the utensils needed to cook these up. On occasion I have a friend in ministry close enough to send a fun gift to– like our Red Hot Monogamy book wrapped in a set of sheets, or in a basket of fun “hot items” like Red Hot candy, hot tamales, a gift card to a Mexican food café, or a collections of hot sauce bottles.

Mighty God: Offer to pray them through a difficult situation or circumstance. Send Bible verses, prayers,  or a Bible gift item with a verse they can hang their heart on to have hope. My friend, Lisa Copen, of Gutsy Goodness, has an invisible illness that keeps her in daily pain, yet joy of the lord neh 8 10 necklace lisa copenshe runs Rest Ministries to help others in pain and she also creates beautiful messages of hope on necklaces. During a difficult season in my life, God led me to Neh. 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Today, I wear that phrase to encourage me on a necklace Lisa made for me.

Everlasting Father: Good dads make life just a little bit easier. Perhaps your gift can help lighten the load or ease the work of someone who has eased your load. Options can include gift cards, but you can also add your logo (or theirs) to tools that people need for work as a small reminder that you care: usb drive, coffee mugs, water glasses, sticky note holders, coasters, desk accessories are all items we have receivedbrave book courage mug and given.  (Often your local Christian bookstore is a great place to find unique gift items with some deeper scriptural meaning– and it is a terrific way to thank your bookstore with your business!) For example, to go along with my book Becoming a Brave New Woman, I was able to purchase a coffee mug with a verse on courage on it to give to some brave women who had helped me be brave.

Prince of Peace: One of the best gifts you can give a leader is to enrich their own walk with God. You might give them a beautiful book mark, a new Bible, or a new devotional. The year A Couple’s Journey with God book was released, some of our friends got a copy of that devotional with some travel items like luggage tags, flight ticket holder and passport cover. Our book Devotions for Men on the Go and Devotions for Women on the couple journey luggage tagGo have been given with items to keep those friends “on the go”: coffee gift card, coffee thermos or dark chocolate espresso bean candy; gas fuel card; or cute key chain or fitness item.

To gain creativity, think of your life, and a walk a mile in your own shoes and ask, “What would make my life easier, stronger or better?” Make a list of those items, then put on your friend’s tennies or heels and  walk through their life asking that same question. Chances are the circle of their life and the circle of yours will over lap and there may be items in your world or the books and resources of other author friends you know that could bless those around your ministry.

 

pam bill merry christmas sign 2013Pam Farrel, with her husband Bill, are the authors of 40+ books. including their newest 7 Simple Skills for Every Man and 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman. They are the co-directors of Love-Wise.

 

 

 

 

 

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It's Grace Fox with a devotional thought to start your week.

Sometimes life leaves us baffled or bruised. We wonder if God is as wise as He claims to be, and we question why circumstances don’t happen how and when we wish they would. When I feel this way, I take courage from the Scriptures.

Recently I read about the prophet Samuel’s boyhood. One word—meanwhile—popped up several times in the account. It reminded me that, no matter what life looks like, God’s at work behind the scenes to accomplish His purposes. 

  •  “And the Lord gave Hannah three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:21).
  • Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the LORD and with the people” (1 Samuel 2:26).
  • Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the LORD by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the LORD were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon” (1 Samuel 3:1).

Events both good and bad unfurled on a daily basis at that time. Meanwhile, God was quietly raising up a prophet who would honor Him and faithfully proclaim His word.

The beauty of meanwhile remains true today. A couple years ago, Stonecroft Ministries asked me to produce a DVD-based Bible study to accompany my book, Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation. I had no funds and no clue how to do this. The thought of producing such a resource made good sense, but it also unnerved me. And so I prayed: “God, if You want this project done, then You’ll need to bring me a team of skilled people to help. And you’ll need to work out all the details including funding.” 

For the next year, I went about my usual business of writing, speaking, and ministering overseas. Meanwhile, the bi-weekly women’s Bible study that my daughter-in-law organized lost its teacher.  “Can you teach it now, Mom?” asked Cheryl. “Preparations won’t take long if you teach from Moving from Fear to Freedom because you already know the material.” I thought about the DVD study. Using this opportunity as a test run seemed divinely orchestrated, so I agreed and started writing the lessons. 

Meanwhile, I met a man in my church who’d specialized in audio-visual work while a missionary in Africa many years prior. He had a local friend who owned two filming cameras. Both agreed to help. 

Meanwhile, a national women’s ministry set aside money for projects such as this. One day the president handed me an envelope containing a grant application. “Fill out the form and ask for funding,” she said. I applied, and the committee approved. Within a year, the DVD-based Bible study became a reality. 

Perhaps you’re facing a challenge today. You’re not sure what’s goin’ on, and life looks like a puzzle with a few pieces missing. Pray and take courage in the Scriptures, especially in the word meanwhile.

You work. You wait. Meanwhile, God is on the move behind the scenes to fulfill His plan.

 

Visit www.gracefox.com/blog for more devotional thoughts. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sherry Kyle here, writing from central California with some encouraging words straight from Sherry pic
Scripture. 

Are you worried about something? Upset? Do you feel helpless? Daniel felt all these emotions when he saw visions of the future. See Daniel 7-10.

Just like Daniel, we can feel afraid when we think about our future. Maybe you’re waiting for your next book contract and are starting to doubt if it will ever happen. Maybe you have a looming deadline and fear you won’t be able to complete your manuscript on time. Or maybe you’re so overwhelmed with life that you don’t have time to write.

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Sherry Kyle pic Sherry Kyle here to encourage you from my laptop in Central California. 

Here’s a quote we all can identify with as writers:

"Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what." 
-Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird, 1960)

If you’re anything like me, you feel this way daily. When I place my hands on the keyboard, I wonder if the words I’m going to write will be any good, if they’ll have meaning or if I’m wasting my time. That’s when courage comes into play. It takes courage to be a writer, to see your work through NO MATTER WHAT.  There have been times when I’m ready to throw in the towel—on a project or writing as a whole. But I can’t give up. I won’t. I want real courage.

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