On Christmas Eve, Iceland celebrates the national tradition of Jólabókaflóð, the “Christmas Book Flood.

That evening, Icelanders anticipate and enjoy exchanging books. After they open and admire their books, family members retire to their individual beds and read themselves to sleep.

This literary tradition traces back to World War II, when the government restricted currency and imported gifts. In contrast, Icelanders enjoyed a flux of money because of the war. Fortunately, restrictions on imported paper remained lenient and books burgeoned as the country’s most popular gift for Christmas.

Gift BooksFast forward to today and the holiday-reading tradition virtually supports the book-publishing industry.  According to Kristjan B. Jonasson, former president of the Iceland Publishers Association, explained, “Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading. In many ways, it’s the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland.”

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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 traditionpam speak christmas ncc 2015. 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, Women Are Like Spaghetti,waffle spaghetti with ws book  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 she 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 Gocouple journey luggage tag 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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Your Friendship Circle

from Pam Farrel

Text Message: “A frnd lvs @ al tms.*
* “A friend loves at all times . . .” Proverbs 17:17 NIV

My friend, Dawn Wilson, and I, wrote a book called LOL with God: Messages of LOL - final front coverHope and Healing for Women. It is a unique devotional that has a humorous story on one page and a daily devotional on the other, and the theme through the book is “text messages” between you and God. In one of these devotionals, Dawn shared who is in her friendship circle, and at the Christmas season, as I looked at the type of friends any leader, any person, needs, I dovetailed the Christmas story into the styles of friends to see what else we could learn about how friends help accomplish important goals. Here are my thoughts:
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The Christmas Brids CollectionAn Irish Bride for Christmas novella in The Christmas Brides Collection. A man who recently lost his brother and sister-in-law in a tragic accident fights for custody of his niece.

About the author: Vickie McDonough is the best selling author of more than 30 books and novellas. Her awards include the Book Sellers Best, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and she’s an 8-time finalist in ACFW’s Carol Awards.

New Releases are posted by Christine Lindsay, author of the multi-award-winning Shadowed in SilkCaptured by Moonlight, and newly released Veiled at Midnight, and contemporary romance Londonderry Dreaming.

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untitledA Christmas Gift, Julia knew firsthand that Chiapas was not a safe place. Could a simple man’s faith and love be enough to make her stay?

About the author:

Kathi Macias (www.kathimacias.com) is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother—and the award-winning author of nearly 50 books. She and her husband call SoCal home.

 

NEW RELEASES are posted by Christine Lindsay the author of the Multi-Award-Winning historical novels Shadowed in Silk, Captured by Moonlight and newly released Veiled at Midnight.

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