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Write Integrity Press Christmas: Celebrating Christ’s Birthday

Posted by Julie on December 2, 2014 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

All week the Write Integrity Press family is celebrating Christmas with special blogs, giveaways and a Facebook party Friday the 5th from 7-9pm EST. I’ll be there for a chat at approximately 8:30. We’ll have lots of party favors available, so make plans to attend!

Today we share memories about the focus of Christmas growing up.

I asked:

matthew2_2wareDid you grow up celebrating Christmas as Christ’s birth or with a different focus?

Tracy Ruckman:

Our family’s focus during Christmas was primarily Santa and giving gifts to each other. I vividly remember our parents taking each of us out shopping to buy gifts for each other, and for our grandparents.

 My paternal grandmother made sure we knew it was Jesus’ birthday though. Every Christmas Eve when we were little, we’d put on our pajamas, turn off all the lights in our kitchen/dining room, where our Christmas tree stood. We’d turn on the tree lights, and one light over the stove. Nanny made us hot chocolate with milk and Nesquik, then we’d sit around the table sipping it from our Santa mugs while she read us the Christmas story from the Bible. Cozy, warm, loving – such a precious time. 

Elizabeth Noyes:

I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home. We attended a small Baptist Church, and were there every time the doors opened. We opened presents on Christmas Eve, because Christmas Day was all about Jesus.

Phee Paradise:

I grew up celebrating Christ’s birth at Christmas, but also believed in Santa. On Christmas Eve my dad always read aloud the story of the Littlest Angel.

Betty Thomason Owens:

I don’t really remember Christ in our Christmas when I was a child. We always believed in Him, but Santa Claus was the main focus when I was a child. There were no religious traditions in our celebration.

My childhood I think was a strong effort to remember Christmas as Jesus’ birthday. We weren’t a family with a real faith about us, not in a daily sense. I would leaf through a book of Bible characters but never read a Bible. We went to church but for me it was obligation. Christmas Eve I’m sure we went to church. My parents sacrificed a lot to make Christmas memorable. Where it was a struggle to say I love you, Christmas morning was their way to express that. What I appreciate is as the gap closed and my faith became a personal relationship with Christ, I saw Christmas with new eyes. To me it was a celebration of His birth and the realization that obedience on Mary’s part put in motion the chain of events where love was expressed through sacrifice. It tied up how I grew up and celebrated as well as the truth that the greatest gift of all was Jesus and His life.

 

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A Teenage Pregnancy by Robin Jones Gunn

Posted by Julie on December 25, 2013 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |
12pearlsofxmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below. The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

A Teenage Pregnancy
by Robin Jones Gunn

It was early, early morning, that delicate time of day just before sunrise when it seems as if all of creation is still asleep.

In the cold, gray light she gazed at the infant in her arms. He was less than an hour old and so, so small. Instinct prompted her to draw her newborn close that he might feel the rhythm of her heart. He curled his tiny hand around her finger and she smiled. His eyes closed, and with feathered breath he gave way to the blessed sleep that follows such a long journey.

In weary awe she studied his face, his ears, his nose. He was here. He had come at last.

A single tear fell from her eye and rolled across his cheek. She kissed the tear away but could not kiss away the memories that came with the tears; memories of the day she found out she was pregnant. How exhilarated she felt and yet how terrified. She was young, and there was much she didn’t understand.

Trying to justify her condition to her parents proved more difficult than she’d hoped. But the most excruciating memory was the moment she stood guileless before the man she hoped to one day marry. She had no words to make him understand the awful truth—the child she carried was not his.

Leaving seemed to be her only option. A gracious aunt took her in and welcomed her with open arms. From the moment she arrived she was showered with motherly words of hope and sisterly touches of love. Week by week, month by month, the child inside her grew.

Was it a miracle when she returned home, her belly round, her face flushed, and found him there?

What prompted this man to take her back and make her his bride? Did he now believe what she had tried to explain all along, that none of this was her own doing?

When the time was right they left their small town together, as husband and wife, with her due date rapidly approaching. The labor began—tightening her abdomen with a force she had never before imagined. Perspiration streamed from her forehead. The contractions multiplied with a frenzied urgency until the need to push overwhelmed her young body, and the baby was born.

Nothing of the past mattered anymore. He was here. Naked, perfect, quivering in her arms. With a thrill of hope, she believed that her life, her world, would never be the same.

Now as the first silver streaks of dawn pierced through the cracks in the stable, she tenderly wrapped her sleeping babe in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger.

12pearls-gunn
***

Robin Promo Photo Close Up 2013Robin Jones Gunn, bestselling author of the much-loved Christy Miller Series and the award-winning Sisterchicks® series, has had more than 4.5 million copies of her books sold worldwide. Her frequent speaking engagements have taken her around the globe. Robin and her husband live in Hawaii and have a grown son and daughter. You can learn more at Robin’s website.
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12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 9 – The ADVENTure Awaits You! by Charissa Steyn

Posted by Julie on December 22, 2012 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

The ADVENTure Awaits You!

By Charissa Steyn 

God loves keeping us in a place of joyful expectation for what is next. He has mastered the art of surprise. Much to my dismay, God rarely ever lays out steps 1-2-3 for me to see. Maybe you’re like me and you’re a planner. You need time to prepare yourself for what is coming, the unknown grips you with fear, and it’s hard for you to simply enjoy a surprise.

It’s difficult to understand why God doesn’t like to reveal more of His mysterious ways, but I have a feeling it has something to do with faith. I am quite sure that if I knew everything that God had planned ahead of time my response would be, “No way God!”

But maybe we need to be a little more like Mary when it comes to faith. The angel reassured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you…” (Luke 1:30)

Jesus Birth Pictures, Images and Photos

Did you get that? You have nothing to fear _________ (fill in the blank with your name) God has a surprise for you!

God invited Mary into the ultimate season of joyful expectation. He took her on the most miraculous adventure of birthing His son!

Instead of hesitation, Mary stepped forward, “Yes . . . let it be with me just as you say.” (Luke 1:38)

Instead of cowering in fear, Mary celebrated in faith, “I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened—I’m the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten. . . .” {Luke 1:46-48)

As the Christmas season is upon us, I can’t help but wonder what surprises God has wrapped up for us under His tree of life? What gifts does He want to reveal to us this year?

Like Mary, let’s face the unknown, the mystery, the surprises of God with a quiet, yet confident YES! 

God wants to show you the impossible can become possible, the supernatural can become natural. We don’t need special qualifications, just joyful expectation. 

May you accept the invitation of Jesus in this truly ADVENTurous season and embrace all the marvelous, mysterious surprises He has for you along the way!

***

Charissa Steyn is a God-adventurer. She believes everyday holds exciting undertakings that usually involve risk, but always draw us closer to the Father’s heart. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Cape Town with her South African hubby, Michal and their son David. Together they are doing their best to lead a simple, yet dangerous life of love. Learn more about Charissa at her blog.

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