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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BobHostetlerBob Hostetler here, offering another prayer for writers:

Abba, Father, Lord God,
thank you that I can type so fast,
that the internet makes research relatively easy (if dangerous),
that I can work at home or in a coffee shop.

Thank you that I can send manuscripts and galleys via email,
that I can quickly search a document,
that I can access, order, and download books online.
Read More →

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Fellowship and connection.

Creating and Connecting

By Susan G Mathis

Why is our desire to connect with others so important to our human experience, whether in person or through story? While there may be a few hermits and others who are anti-social, most of us long for human interaction. We were, indeed, made for relationship.

We are created in His image, the God who longs to be in relationship—with us! Moreover, God wants us to speak into His creation, so He allows us to be a part of His work on this earth.

How cool is that?

We don’t have to have a degree or a license or anything the world sees important. We don’t have to be articulate or even a great writer or some spiritual giant. He freely beacons us to be His partner in speaking His truth to whomever we meet!

He’s also planted a desire in us to share His truth, whether that’s as a writer, a friend, a parent—whatever! And even more than that, He wants to fulfill a very special purpose in our lives and in the lives of others.

When my children were small, it was such a joy to share the love of Jesus with them. Now as a writer, I get to share that same truth through my writing. In my novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, I have included several of God’s truths in the story, and my prayer is that it will touch people’s hearts just as if I were there, sharing those truths face-to-face.

He gave you gifts and talents to use, and He wants you to express them. And He has a unique ministry, audience, or group that only you can reach. He also wants you to deliver a specific message, and feel the joy of sharing life with others.

How can you connect with someone this week and share God’s love with him or her? I’d love to hear what happens. Go for it!

Dear Lord, It’s too easy to turn away from others. Help us to turn toward other people to experience the connection and fellowship you gifted us with. In Jesus name, Amen

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

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Molding glass

Devotional by Mary Tatem

The blob of molten glass was fiery orange from the hot furnace. As spectators, we stood at a respectful distance from the glassblowers who worked to create beautiful, useful items from a scorching globule. Before our eyes, the twisting, stretching, and blowing formed colorful bird feeders, glass ornaments, and multicolored handles. We were awed by the speed necessary to perform the quick work before the glass hardened. We were impressed by the skill to know just when to reheat the work for further molding, when to cut, when and how to press the heated glass into its intended form. The beautiful items for sale in the glassblowers’ shop took on new value because we had witnessed the skill required to make it.

Isn’t God working in our ‘molten’ lives to make something beautiful and useful for His Kingdom? Oh, that we will stay malleable to His working in us. Oh, that we may revere one another as a glorious work of God . Oh, that we may appreciate the gorgeous colors, the subtle shapes, the purposes for which God is blowing, and stretching our lives. Let’s pray that we may stay hot with passion for our God so we are easily molded and conformed to His plan.

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Living a Ten-Talents-Plus Life — Dianne Barker here with encouragement for your day. Recently I wrote about the parable of the talents—such a familiar story that I sometimes trivialize its impact. Reading the story again (Matthew 25:14-30) gave me fresh inspiration to live a ten-talents-plus life. Read More →

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