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?


As usual, I’m avoiding the mall and spending my Christmas in quiet contemplation, but there are a few gifts I have been grateful to receive.

Peace. At Christmas I will take all the time I can to relax and rest, to put my feet up, reread The Long Winter, and be grateful that I have a safe and comfortable home, warm central heating, and enough food to eat.

Hope. As 2017 ends, I am particularly excited about the future. I know 2018 will be a year of action, and I’m looking forward to all the positive changes ahead.

Purpose. This year I am grateful for the sense of meaning this season brings. I give thanks that I feel God’s presence in my life, and I know he is guiding the next steps I will take.

Friendship. Today I thank God for all the special people I am blessed to know. I am thankful for my loving and supportive family and the positive, encouraging friends who share my life each day.

Treats. One goal I hold for 2018 is to make better food choices, but the occasional indulgence reminds me that life is sweet. It should be savored and shared.

This Christmas I hope you receive everything you wish. What do you hope for this holiday season?


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?


Every Christmas I see pictures of brightly lit Christmas trees surrounded by mountains of presents inside elaborately decorated homes. I see videos of Christmas shoppers standing for hours in crowded malls and checkout lanes. I won’t criticize anyone who enjoys the bustle and excitement of Christmas shopping, but I have never wanted to spend the holiday in that way.

Instead I prefer to create a simple, quiet Christmas of few gifts but many meaningful memories.

I don’t really decorate. My daughter grew up in apartments where we had limited space and little money for trees and tinsel. For years we had a two-foot table-top tree that my daughter decorated with tiny ornaments and lights, and that was adequate for our cozy home.

Though we have a larger home now and more room to decorate, we also have a high-energy dog who leaves a path of destruction everywhere she goes, and I don’t feel the need to fill the living room with decor and greenery I drag out of the boxes in the garage. This year I draped my corner shelf with garland and white lights, hung a wreath on the door, and declared that enough for me.

I buy few gifts. We already have too much stuff. Everyone in my family has much more than we need, and I don’t want to add to the burden of unnecessary possessions. Every time we have moved, I’ve donated carloads of kitchen gadgets to Good Will, unloaded bags of clothes and boxes of books on friends and family, ditched leftover furniture in apartment dumpsters, and generally gotten rid of more than my share of excess. I cringe to think of the wasted resources we throw away every year and I don’t want that amount to increase.

I don’t want gift giving to be the focus of my Christmas celebration, so I give my daughter and son-in-law one gift each, a gift card, and a few odds-and-ends. A few others I care about receive a gift and many good wishes. I don’t expect anyone to buy me more candles and figurines to fill my dusty shelves. I know that with the love of a few friends and family members, I have everything I need.

I concentrate on spending time with people. I like to cook, and I enjoy planning quiet dinners, gathering the family, and watching old movies together. I appreciate going to parties and events, and spending my time talking with old friends and coworkers who share my life throughout the year.

This year I hope to attend the Christmas play written by my friend Susan and produced by her church. I will spend time in my own church remembering that the birth of Jesus is the reason we celebrate the Christmas holiday at all. And I will be grateful for the gifts I have already received: my home and my loving family, supportive friends and encouraging colleagues, the feeling of meaning and purpose in my life, and the hope that the future will be even better in the years ahead.

This year I pray you celebrate Christmas in the way that is most meaningful for you. I hope you receive all you wish for this holiday season.

How do you like to celebrate Christmas? What traditions do you enjoy?


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.