Christmas carols play on store speakers and my car radio. This year “We Three Kings” caught my attention. (Click here to read the lyrics of this classic carol.) While I listened, I considered what those wise men were seeking when they traveled to find the infant Christ and what their visit symbolizes for us today.

“Behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him’” (Matthew 2:1-2).

The kings symbolize a journey of faith. The kings traveled for many miles following a beckoning star, not knowing when they would arrive or what they would find when they got there. Their faithfulness reminds us that sometimes we must continue despite uncertain outcomes because we believe the journey is worth the sacrifice.

The kings symbolize the sharing of gifts. The kings traveled for many months carrying their offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Their generosity tells us that we are all blessed with gifts we can share and give to others.

The kings symbolize the search for truth. The kings walked across countries to be closer to God and worship him. Their commitment inspires us to leave our safe places and strike out for new destinations where we will find the hope and joy we seek.

This Christmas, I am remembering the journey of the kings and praying you find the peace and purpose you are looking for. Where is your journey taking you this holiday season?

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Christmas can become a hectic and tiring time, even for those of us who try to keep the festivities simple.

Today I pray we take the time to rest and reflect on Christmas. I pray we consider the true meaning of the season and ask how we can contribute to the peace and joy of others.

I pray we are inspired to help and give to others, to share our gifts and resources, and to bless and serve the people in our care.

I pray we are confident in God’s concern for us, that we feel his presence throughout the year, and that we know he gives to us from the abundance of his love.

This holiday season, I pray you receive everything you wish. May God’s blessings fill your life and spirit this Christmas.

What is your prayer this holiday season?

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It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn toward gratitude, and we are made more aware of the many gifts and blessings we share. Here is my list of the top 10 things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving.

I love spending an evening at home with my family, and I’m grateful anytime we can share a quiet dinner together.

 

Apple pie and coffee are a perfect ending to that dinner at home.

I’m starting a new quilt to wrap around someone I love. I’ve collected a pile of old tee shirts that will soon become something new and useful.

 

I love to spend an afternoon reading on the couch. This is what I’m reading now.

 

 

This cute electric heating stove creates cozy warmth for my home.

 

I love my old soft, fuzzy slippers,

 

 

And my old owl print pajamas.

 

 

Every year I get nostalgic about classic Christmas films. My favorites are: It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and Elf. Click here to check out the Freeform Channel’s 25 Days of Christmas movie schedule.

 

I love this great source for Christmas presents. I won’t spoil the surprise by showing photos of the gifts I bought, but I recommend ordering from John’s Crazy Socks. When I received my order, I was touched to also find a personal note from the company’s co-owner, John. A portion of sales proceeds supports the Special Olympics and Down syndrome awareness.

I am grateful for my family, for my husband, my daughter, and son-in-law, for Bratty Maddie, and all the friends who have supported and encouraged me throughout this year. Thank you all, and I wish you the happiest holidays!

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

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Choosing a Life that Matters by Dennis Rainey is a smallish book, only 125 pint-sized pages, but it contains a great deal of inspiration about making the decisions that draw us closer to God. The small size makes it convenient to carry, so I stashed my copy in my purse to read while enduring a long wait in the dentist’s office.

Rainey arranges his seven decisions into a do/don’t instructional format. His seven chapters are: Seek God, Not Sin; Fear God, Not Men; Love God, Not the World; Believe God, Not the Deceiver; Obey God, Not Your Feelings; Worship God, Not Comfort; Serve God, Not Self. Chapters are short and written in an easy to read, conversational tone; and each chapter includes a “Life Skills” section that offers specific instruction on how to apply the concepts to daily life.

Choosing a Life that Matters by Dennis Rainey makes a simple and inspiring read for anyone seeking to feel more of God’s presence every day.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for writing a review.

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When my daughter was in kindergarten, I volunteered as classroom mom on a field trip to the pumpkin farm. Students rode trudging ponies around a muddy circle, patted bleating goats in a pen, and chased kittens and piglets around hay bales in the barn.

And I learned a few lessons from herding 40 kindergarteners around the barnyard that day.

Pack a lunch, wear good shoes, and always have an extra pair of glasses. Straw dust and grit invaded my contact lenses, and because I had no mirror or means to wash my hands, I had to make a staggering, half-blind hike to the farmhouse to find a bathroom. If we don’t plan ahead and take care of ourselves, we are not able to take care of anyone else. Anticipating circumstances and giving ourselves what we need frees us to be available and present for others.

Don’t be afraid of the dark. Inside the musty and cavernous barn lurked amazing discoveries: strange old tools, elusive farm cats, secreted hiding places. When we brave uncertainty and explore the unknown, prizes are captured and answers are revealed. Always be willing to step inside and investigate the mysterious, unseen places.

Help someone else carry their burden. Little people who chose a too-large pumpkin to take home, staggered under the weight, often dropping and shattering their prize. We are not meant to struggle with heavy burdens by ourselves. When we work together and help others, we find we can accomplish much more than we can carry on our own.

Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

Travel where the driver takes you. The day of the kindergarten field trip, we had planned to ride a hay truck into the meadow for a lunchtime picnic, but a sudden rainstorm sent us running for the bus and returning early to school. Instead of lunch in the meadow, we ate on the warm and dry classroom floor. Sometimes our plans change and we encounter circumstances we didn’t expect, but the best memories are made when we are grateful and appreciate every moment together. Sometimes we discover that the surprises of our lives are more fun and interesting than the events we had planned.

This fall I pray you explore the mysteries of the season. Know God is with you every day of the year.

What are you learning about life today? Where is God taking you?

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