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Home for the Holidays

Christmas has a way of beckoning us home, doesn’t it? We long for our loved ones to be seated at our holiday tables, gathered cozy in our festive living rooms, and posing for family photos at the blazing hearth. Expectations can be high and disappointments can run deep when what we want – everyone home for Christmas – isn’t what we have. We want to be home and we want everyone we love to be home with us.

It’s interesting that we should feel this way when we consider that Joseph and Mary were far from home the night Jesus was born. The shepherds that celebrated with this little family on that starry night were strangers, not loved ones, and the setting wasn’t cozy or festive. And yet when we think of that first Christmas, we think of joy, serenity, [ … ]

A Christmas Tree Witness

“The Christmas tree is a beautiful reminder of why Jesus was born in the first place—to die for you and me. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24, NIV)…

Have you ever noticed that the boughs of your tree extend out like the arms of Jesus stretched upon the cross as He offered His life to anyone who would come to Him in faith? And your Christmas tree is very definitely pointing toward heaven and, as Jesus did with His words and His actions, drawing our attention to the Father who loves us.

So when you stand before your Christmas tree, stand tall, as the tree does, and be a witness for Jesus. Let it direct your attention to the Father above. [ … ]

God’s Virtue

“Mary was full of God’s grace simply because God chose to bless her. We have no description of her being holy or pious or deserving. She was a virgin, yes, but not perfect, not without sin. For Jesus to be fully the Son of Man, his mother had to be fully human.

What made Mary worthy of her calling was not her virtue; it was God’s virtue. That’s why her story gives every woman a generous measure of hope. God takes us as we are and uses us as he will, for our good and for his glory. Talk about being ‘endued with grace!’”

Excerpted from The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs

Watch Liz’s Christmas video special with Ann Voskamp here.

Daily Reflection: How is God using you, just as you are, for His glory [ … ]

A Perfect Christmas Gift

Tis the season to ponder your budget in time and money for a blowout, sensational, colossal, I-appreciate-you-more-than-you-can-fathom gift exchange. . . . Or not.

I love shopping for the perfect gift for someone I love. And I have a few tips for getting it right.

My son is a self-proclaimed, academic elitist. And at the other end of the spectrum, a role-playing gamer with a collection of fantasy and science fiction that should be bequeathed to a library in his will. My son-in-law has several hidden talents, and I always look for something to nurture those abilities that lurk under the surface. My daughter wears funky clothes. No problem there. My daughter-in-law likes quirky jewelry.

My advice: Identify the inner interests and cater to those. Or, identify an obvious, surface trait and cater to that.

But there is [ … ]

Kisses, Not Hisses

As I finish this chapter, I am reminded of a Special Olympics event held in Seattle, Washington, a few years back. I especially remember the 100-yard dash, where nine mentally and physically challenged children competed against each other.

With great anticipation the runners lined up and waited for the gun. They were smiling and full of energy, hoping to win but thrilled just to compete.

The starting gun fired and all nine kids ran down the track as fast as they could. Suddenly one of the boys stumbled and rolled over. A gasp spread through the stands. Then, with no prompting, a little girl with Down’s syndrome stopped, turned around, and went to the fallen boy. She knelt beside him and said, “Here, this will make it feel all better.” Then she kissed him on the cheek.

One by one, [ … ]


On the heels of trauma or during times of difficult transition, anxiety is often exaggerated. Our psychological defenses are weakened by severe or chronic stress, making it more difficult to ward off worries. The unpredictable nature of life seems magnified and keeps us from enjoying the positive aspects of our journey. When we are pooped out, fear screams, “Yesterday was bad, today is horrible, and tomorrow will be even worse.” It can be difficult to believe the best. Ah, but these are also the times when our faith can take quantum leaps forward.

Many of the dilemmas life brings us don’t have easy, tidy answers. But God will have personal answers for us if we risk asking tough questions and then take time to listen. Why not quiet your heart, open the Scriptures, and listen to what the Holy Spirit [ … ]

Impossibilites and Miracles

“…and they were both very old.” Luke 1:7

We don’t know their ages, whether forty or sixty or eighty. We know only that Elizabeth and Zechariah were “well stricken in years” (asv). More to the point, they were “too old to have children” (God’s Word), just like the patriarch Abraham, and his wife, Sarah. We know how that story ended: with a baby in ninety-year-old Sarah’s arms!

The stage was set for God to intervene and make the impossible possible.
Christmas is all about miracles. The first one is ready to unfold.


Jesus said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27. What “impossibility” are you facing in your life? Are you ready to put it entirely in God’s hands?

Excerpted from The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs

Stretching You

God knows what He can do through your life if you’re willing to open yourself up to Him. He’ll remove obstacles such as pride, fear, and greed that hinder your spiritual growth. Then He’ll build in qualities such as humility, forgiveness, and faith.

Excerpted from Unlimiting God by Richard Blackaby

Daily Reflection: Are you satisfied with your present state of service to God? Or are you open to growth—even when it’s painful?

Doing Less

“Instead of applauding Martha, Jesus gently rebukes her, telling her Mary has chosen ‘what is better.’ Or, as another translation puts it, ‘Mary has chosen the better part’ (NRSV).
‘The better part?’ Martha must have echoed incredulously.
‘The better part!’ I say to God in the midst of my own whirl of activity. ‘You mean there’s more? I have to do more?’
No, no, comes the answer to my tired heart. Jesus’ words in Luke 10 are incredibly freeing to those of us on the performance treadmill of life.
It isn’t ‘more’ he requires of us.
In fact, it may be less.”

Excerpted from Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver

Daily Reflection: Do you strive to do more for God or simply be by His side?

Really Knowing Someone

The first day of December every year, my mother posts four folded sheets of lined notebook paper on the refrigerator door, with our names written on top. MOM. DAD. SUSAN. ELEANOR. We’re supposed to list the things we really really want for Christmas so the gift giving will be correct and efficient. I always found that odd. In my view, the point of choosing presents is to get to know the other person so well that you don’t have to be told what she really really wants for Christmas. You just know it. If somebody gives you something you don’t like, like a puce sweater or a Nehru jacket with gold trim…well, that just tells you something, doesn’t it?”

Excerpted from My Mother’s Wish by Jerry Camery-Hoggatt

Daily Reflection: Do you know those around you well enough that you [ … ]