Faith On Every Corner - December 2020

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Merry Christmas December 2020

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. - Matthew 1:21 KJV

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Hi, my name is Bethany Travis. I live in the foothills of NC with my husband and children. I have a love for decorating that I developed from my grandfather. He always taught me to enjoy and be thankful for every season we are given. I love vintage decorating because it reminds me of him and the love he had for his grandchildren. I love decorating with Santa but also never want to forget the importance of Christmas, which is the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the miracle and real reason for Christmas celebration.


NOTE FROM THE EDITOR While this has been a very hard year for so many, I want to thank God for our family and friends and pray that you are all safe and well. Our family has been impacted as well including the death of my first nephew Jim in November. Many of our family and close friends have had Covid and have been out of work. The kids have had to do their distant learning. Craig and I have had a year filled with health issues as well. Through it all, we are thankful that we serve a mighty God that holds us when we need Him, is always with us, and listens to our prayers. He is a mighty healer, a great counselor, and our Savior. There was a time when Christmas got so busy in my life and materialistic things seemed to be so important. We were humbled in 2012 as we had to sell our home and move into our motorcoach - it was not a fancy one, 32’ with no slide outs. Craig and I are forever grateful that God had a path for us to follow. He had to humble us first to get our undividided attention. He brought our attention back to Him, to his son Jesus who died for us so that we can live. He let us know the importance of relying on Him and listening to His every word.


and C

raig R


From our family to yours Have a very Merry Christmas

This Christmas, I hope you take time to think about the ulitimate gift we have received as Christians. No better gift can be found anywhere. If you would like to talk to a Team Member with Faith On Every Corner, please drop an email to Merry Christmas ~ Karen


That First Christmas by Karen Ruhl

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:4-5 NKJV In 1985, we celebrated Christmas with a tiny newborn son. I remember holding him on Christmas and telling him how much we loved him. You see, we adopted him as our son, just as God adopted us into his family. Imagine being alive during the time when Christ was born. Traveling across countries just to be counted in the census. The inns filling up with travelers. I imagine there may have been many food vendors set up along the path to feed those who were hungry. Men, women, and children walking or riding camels. Our imagination can conjure up many sights and yet we will never really know what that day looked like when Christ Jesus was born. There is quite a difference between us adopting our son and God adopting us. God gave us His one and only son Jesus: “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.” – Isaiah 9:6 NKJV


Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, 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 NKJV When the wise men were sent out to find Jesus and were to report back to King Herod, they decided to take a different route back to their home without telling him where the child was living. Did you know that the practice of giving gifts during Christmastide is symbolic of the presentation of the gifts by the Three Wise Men to the infant Jesus? “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:16 NKJV I urge you to pick up your Bible during this Christmas season and read out loud to your family. Let them hear through the word of God about our Savior Christ Jesus. This is the best gift you can give anyone - that they know how precious they are in God’s sight if they follow Christ Jesus. Read Luke 1 starting in verse 26. Turn off all distractions, put away your phone. Sit together, light a few candles so you are relaxed. And pray before you start reading. May you and your family feel the Christmas story as you read, may you grow to love Christ Jesus even more.

When Jesus was born, King Herod was very upset because the knew Jesus was the King of Kings.



Cover photo by Bethany Travis - more on the inside cover. ROAD TRIPPIN’ HICKORY, NC PAGE 33-34

By Karen Ruhl



That First Christmas ... by Karen Ruhl ... page 3 As Long As I Have Breath ... by Hannarich Asiedu ... page 5 Christmas At Sea ... by Melissa Henderson ... page 7 Looking At Lights And More ... by Melissa Henderson ... page 8 The Greatest Gift ... by Andrea Marino ... page 9 Pain And Power ... by Dr. Kathleen Oden ... page 11 Conquerors Carry Scars ... by Gittel Fruma ... page 13 The Light Of Life ... by Nicole Byrum ... page 15 God’s Greatest Gift ... by Christine Controneo ... page 17 Change ... by Karen Ruhl ... page 18 The Unexpected Christmas Gift ... by Pam McCormick ... page 19 Family And Christmas ... by Karen Ruhl ... page 20 A Prayer For December ... by Tynea Lewis ... page 21 God Can Use Us, Flaws And All ... by Tynea Lewis ... page 22 Just Three Things ... by Scott Dunn ... page 23 The Power Of Praise .... by Lynn Downham ... page 25 Dear Carl ... by Anna Friend ... page 27 Our Mission, Our Blessing ... by Craig Ruhl ... page 29 Is Jesus In The Festival ... by Joseph Akinrinola ... page 31 All Over The World ... by Pam Walck ... page 35 When I Think Of Christmas ... by Krystle Nicole Martin ... page 41 Perpetual Christmas ... by P. Diane Buie ... page 42 The Christmas Snowglobe ... Brandy Davis ... page 43 An Interview With Yvonne Morgan by Karen Ruhl... page 45 The Rejected Gift ... by Maureen Kambarami ... page 49 Greatest Gift ... by Aradhana Thakor ... page 51 Christmastime Is Almost Here... by Mike Buchanan ... page 53 Let Your Light Shine ... by Gina Sewell ... page 54 The Reason For The Season ... by Brenda McDaniel ... page 55

Family & Christmas by Karen Ruhl Page 20 Bookshelf - Book Reviews Starting on Page 37-39 Check out these great books! Order for Christmas gifts.

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As Long as I Have Breath By Hannarich Asiedu

In this season, as we face the pandemic and its unpredictable effects, how do we maintain our sanity? Some few weeks ago, in my Bible study class, we discussed our attitude as Christians when giving thanks to God. We had a fascinating discussion that day. Most of us were hurt whenever we showed acts of kindness to people who either did not express any gratitude or simply undermined our actions. We had all experienced a lack of appreciation from people to the extent that it almost deterred us from showing further acts of kindness. When we threw the spotlight off ourselves back to God, we were utterly ashamed; because we realized it was the exact thing we were doing to God. We don’t shout His praises or dance around when He does seemingly “simple” things for us–like waking us up every morning, taking us to the grocery store and back. No, those things are too simple and mundane to elicit a joyful celebration to God. We are waiting for God to accomplish the BIGGER, GREATER tasks before we dance in praise and thank Him. The Jews have a tradition of counting a hundred blessings each day. I read somewhere that the story behind this tradition was during the reign of King David. A terrible plague took the lives of 100 people every day. The rabbis of the time instituted a rule of reciting 100 blessings every day. The plague immediately stopped. 6PAGE | M5 AG A Z I N E N A M E 3

Whether this story is true or not, I wondered if I could count 100 blessings in a day? How is that possible? When we become conscious that even using the potty is an opportunity to be thankful that our kidneys function correctly, we can become mindful of seemingly “little” blessings. Blessings like seeing, talking, listening, moving our arms and legs, and many other “minor” blessings that we enjoy every day. If we have a job, if we are married or single, or if we have billions in the account or nothing, no matter our situation, let us endeavor to cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving. What of all our many dreams and unfulfilled expectations? Some years ago, I worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in remote villages in Africa. Most of these villages did not have access to basic amenities such as electricity, water, health care, or even good roads. The town folks were generally happy, yet they looked forward excitedly to receiving these basic amenities, hoping to become even more joyful. Most of us reading this article may have some access to electricity and internet connection. Yet having those amenities does nothing to our desire of wanting more in life. We are never satisfied as human beings; we simply want more, no matter where we are on the social ladder.

Therefore, it is a fact that regardless of where we find ourselves in the seven continents of this world–in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Australia, or Antarctica, we will always want more. The key to maintaining our sanity despite our ever-wanting needs is an attitude of thankfulness.

Let us make this our familiar song, especially as we continue to battle the pandemic amongst the many devastating effects on economies, jobs, families, etc. As we cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving, our present trials will fade compared to God’s blessings that have been bestowed on us.

Anytime we feel down and hopeless, let us try this one thing… count our blessings. It is easier for us to remember all our difficulties and hardships, and you cannot blame us. Remembering the blessings is a battle. Yet when we strive to make that conscious effort to recognize those blessings, it makes a world of difference in our lives, especially in keeping our sanity.

We may not get 100 blessings every day, but we can get close to that number. This is how we can maintain our sanity in these trying times.

Suicide breaks my heart into a thousand pieces. If the victims of suicide could thank God for the opportunity to be alive and trust God to deal with the situations they were facing, then maybe they wouldn’t have ended their lives. Just being alive is the most important thing. Wise King Solomon said, “Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!” (Ecclesiastes 9:4 NIV) In 1897, Johnson Oatman wrote this hymn, which has become an all-time favorite in the world. Count Your Blessings When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God has done! Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your many blessings see what God has done {And it will surprise you what the Lord has done} 1

1 Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman (Public domain)

Hannarich Asiedu is an addicted lover of God. She is happily married, Mom to three little guys, and lives in Dallas with her family. Hannarich believes happiness is contagious and longs to see everyone she encounters enjoy a happy and fulfilling life. She is the author of the upcoming book “DECODING THE IN-LAW CODE.” She has a bachelor’s degree in English and French and has been in Management overseeing Corporate Relationships for almost a decade now. She has various non-fiction books in the works and is a public speaker and a Certified Life Coach. For more information on her book releases and other works, please visit her website on

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Christmas At Sea

By Melissa Henderson The holidays are quickly approaching. 2020 has been a very different year for everyone. Supplies continue to be needed at home and at sea. Our church, Sunrise Presbyterian Church, which is located on Sullivans Island, South Carolina, participates with numerous mission projects. Some of the projects are local and others are global. Living in coastal South Carolina, we have various ways to help people who are working and living on ships at sea during the holidays. The Charleston Port and Seafarers’ Society is one of the special mission opportunities. These seafarers are away from family and friends. We want these folks to know they are being prayed for and that they are loved. Living on a ship out in the ocean can be lonely, especially when family and friends are far away. Through this mission project and others, God’s love can extend from land to sea. The project works efficiently because of coordination with local churches and businesses. A box is provided to volunteers, and a list of items to place in the box is given. When items are purchased and the box is filled, Christmas wrapping paper brightens the gift. The box is brought back to church and volunteers gather the boxes and deliver to a designated location. The website shares that during 2019, over 3400 gift boxes were delivered to visiting seafarers. Can you imagine receiving a beautifully wrapped box filled with needed supplies? The simple act of giving blesses the giver and, also blesses the person who receives the “Christmas at Sea” box. Merry Christmas, Melissa Henderson

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Looking at Lights and More By Melissa Henderson Christmas brings many precious memories to our family. From years of visiting the local tree farm to choose the best “real” tree, to deciding on which special gift to give loved ones and friends, to sending Christmas cards, we are blessed with special memories. As a young girl, I was excited when I was old enough to stay up late on Christmas Eve. Mama and Daddy and I often visited my oldest sister and her husband and their children on Christmas day. They lived about two hours away from our home. Sometimes, Mama and Daddy and I arrived on Christmas Eve and spent the night. All the children were told that we had to go to sleep early so Santa could come to the house. I often complained and looked forward to the night when I could stay awake with the adults.

I bundle up with my coat and slippers, and sometimes gloves and hat. Alan drives the car up and down many streets, slowing so we can enjoy the beautiful glowing lights. We see the manger scenes reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas. We see families outside taking walks together. We see people arriving home from work and other places. Life has been different in 2020. Yet, Christ remains a constant in our lives. God loves each one of us. He is with us and covering us with His protection. Will you take the time to look at the lights this year? Will you share the love of God with others at Christmas time and in every moment? You are loved. Let others know they are loved, too. Blessings, Melissa Henderson

Yet, when the time came that I was older and was told I did not have to go to sleep early, a bit of disappointment settled in my mind. I realized that the days of wonder might be leaving. I decided to go to sleep at the same time as the younger Melissa Henderson is a writer of inspirational messages. children.

Her first book for children, “Licky the Lizard”, was reThat memory has stuck with me. Sometimes, we leased in 2018. She also has a story in the compilations “Heaven Sightings” and “Remembering Christmas.” Her think we want to be grown up, only to realize passions are helping in community and church. Melissa being a kid can be a grand thing. is an Elder, Deacon, and Stephen Minister. She and her husband, Alan, moved from Virginia to South Carolina My husband, Alan, knows that I am a child at to be near her son, daughter-in-law and first grandchild. heart. So, he started a new tradition a few years The family motto is “It’s Always A Story With The Henago. During the month of December, when Christ- dersons” Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest mas lights begin glowing in the neighborhood and at

and surrounding areas, Alan will wait until I have my pajamas on, and then, he will say, “Let’s get in the car. Let’s go look at the lights.”

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The Greatest Gift By Andrea Marino

With a yearning to uncover the secret to life, Andrea embarked on a journey to discover truth. The study of Psychology proved inadequate, while the forces of darkness began to make their presence known. The Hobble, from Ai to Bethel encompasses Andrea’s personal victory over fear and bondage to the enemy. Passionate in sharing God’s Good News about Jesus, the author desires to encourage people to never lose hope. Because we all ‘hobble’ before God in need of Him. When not writing, Andrea loves spending time with her children and grandchildren, and enjoys cycling on the open roads with her husband, David.

We encounter many people in the course of our lifetime. Only one promises to be with us always. His name is Jesus. How mind-boggling it is to consider the Creator of everything emptying Himself and taking on the likeness of men, as written in Philippians 2:7. “For God so loved the world that He came to earth to live as one of us with the purpose of dying for the sins of the world.” (John 3:16 my emphasis). Christmas is known as “the most wonderful time of the year.” Beyond the glitter of this joyous season is the gift of living hope to receive. Whether realized or not, we all need to have hope beyond this world; for it is appointed for all men to die and then face judgment. (Hebrews 9:27). The question is: what will we do with the Son of God who came to ransom our soul from hell? Foolish thinking is to consider we can be righteous enough through good works, even excellent ones, or by keeping God’s laws. Both are lies from hell; because the word of God declares, “All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.”

(Psalm 14:3 CSB) and “All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6 CSB) Jesus did not die for no reason. There is nothing we humans can do to rid ourselves of sin. (See Romans 7) Growing up with a knowledge of God and His commandments, I lived with more guilt than not. I remember, as a teenager, becoming curious as to who Jesus was. I heard He was the Son of God; I heard God was “three in One.” Funny, but not to insult The Father or The Son, night after night, when I said my bedtime prayers, I alternated my address to God, speaking “Father”, one night, the next night, “Jesus.” At that time, it was the best I could do. For sure, I had missed something huge in my state of religion. By age eighteen, amid the slogan of the day, “God is dead,” something about that didn’t sit right. It actually caused me to get more serious about knowing precisely who He is. And at the right time, on one sunny August afternoon, God revealed Himself to me. I was listening to a sermon on the radio when the words,

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Jesus hanging on a cross, struck me. Though I had heard this many times, the miraculous took place in that moment. It was the ‘twelve-inch difference’ of knowledge in my head reaching my heart. From there began this relationship with God through Jesus Christ. “See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they will name Him Emmanuel, which is translated, ‘God is with us.’” (Mathew 1:23 CSB) Our faith is powerful; it is “the reality of what is hoped for; the proof of what is not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 CSB) When the rich man went away discouraged because he had given what he believed was his all, only to hear from Jesus it wasn’t enough to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the disciples questioned Jesus about who, then, could be saved. And Jesus replied, “… With men this was impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mathew 19:26 CSB) Within the context of loss, (so much a part of the journey through life), the message of Christmas is a balm to our soul. When the world strikes a blow, sucker-punches you in the gut, remember God is working; and He is turning what the devil means for harm for good. I don’t actually enjoy these words: “Yet the LORD was pleased to crush him severely. When you make him a guilt offering, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and by his hand, the LORD’s pleasure will be accomplished.” (Isaiah 53:10 CSB) I wish for Jesus’ sake there was another way to save the world. I pray the message of Christmas to go deep into your heart this year, always to be encouraging. “But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:’” (Luke 2:10 CSB)

Click on the photo of the book to purchase from Amazon.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full into His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” 1 1. (Helen Howarth Lemmel, “The Heavenly Vision”)

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Pain and Power By Dr. Kathleen Oden

Many years before eating healthy was introduced to me, I discovered there was arthritis in my left foot. However, because of being a person who did not run to the doctor for every ailment, I ignored it. Mainly because it would only hurt me the day after walking a mile. This was during the time of my life when the Lord was dealing with me about my weight. Normal everyday walking caused me no problems at all. So, my thinking was, “it can’t be that serious.” This went on for many years… “ignoring it,” yep the ignoring it part, went on for many years. Why? Well, my remedy was to stop walking. Therefore, no pain. Problem solved, right? NOT!!! Fast forward from 2009 to 2015 and I start walking again. But, to make a long story short, I am going to copy and paste an entry made in a diary that was started in 2015, the first year of my healthy living journey.

5/8/2015 Started walking on Wednesday (May 6th) and so far, no arthritis pain in my left foot. This was a no-no in the past (since 2009). I would go walking and the next day my foot would throb with pain. I had it x-rayed and found out that osteoarthritis was in my foot. I would have to wait 1 or 2 days before walking again. Last summer, my right foot was also starting to show some signs of arthritis, but so far it also is showing no signs of pain. Normal daily walking did not bother my foot, but walking for 30 continuous minutes or more daily was not do-able. This is an extremely exciting development! But I will continue to monitor for another week, just to be sure. Last summer it was very painful to walk 2 days in a row. And 3 days in a row was totally out of the question. If the arthritis in my foot is healed OR healing, then I know that the diet I am on is still working for me. And to that, I say, HALLELUJAH AND PRAISE THE LORD AND AMEN AMEN!!! I AM SO THANKFUL TO GOD!!! ******





I was 63 when that was written, so what gave me the power to walk and get rid of the arthritis pain? The Lord, plus eating raw greens since January 2015. Five months of eating healthy did that for me. I was so amazed! This was my favorite salad back then: Iceberg Lettuce - 1 cup Spinach - 1 cup Collard greens - 1 cup Kale - 1 cup Roma tomato - 1 Green onion - 2 Jalapeno - 1 Grapes - 10

“And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat,… and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.” (Ezekiel 47:12 KJV)

Isaiah 6:8 NKJV Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:

Dr. Kathleen B. Oden is an author, missionary, and Bible teacher. She has been the Administrator of God’s House of Refuge Church & School of Evangelism, for 25 years. Dr. Oden attained a Doctorate degree in Christian Theology in 2000. After a bad fall in 2014, she realized that she had to start eating healthy, in order to fully recover. She became a Certified Health Minister and a Certified Essential Oil Coach. She loves ministering to people and God gave her a health ministry called, Create AnewU Health Ministry. Her health ministry has opened the door for her to share what the WORD OF GOD has to say about eating healthy. Dr. Oden has published over 20 books through and several of them are about health and wellness.

“Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”





CONQUERORS CARRY SCARS by Gittel Fruma While 2020 brought about many things within this country and worldwide that are not cause for rejoicing, many people will still make the best of things this Christmas. As people reach the New Year, many will choose to believe that 2021 will bring change. I have spoken to no one who would prefer to repeat the events of this year or to prolong them. However, there are many around the world this year who find themselves in dire circumstances. There are many without food, without shelter, without financial security, and without loved ones. The pandemic has been a focus of attention this year and has claimed many lives. There have also been lives taken by hunger and poverty issues which have been exasperated in most countries because of the economic slowdown resulting from COVID-19. There are many predicting that 2021 will hold worldwide catastrophes of all sorts, ranging from economic tailspins to environmental disasters. The political atmosphere of the U.S. and much of the world remains delicate and volatile. There are many things that are not as they should be. While we hope we will find relief this coming year, the projections are dismal at best. And yet, children of God, we have a choice. You can choose the comfort of God despite suffering, or you can choose to suffer despite the comfort of God. We are told countless times by Jesus Himself, Peter, Paul, James, and others that we will experience suffering in this world. We can see from Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and other men of renown that the promises of God come through suffering. Suffering and seasons may be the only two constants in the universe outside of God Himself. Nothing of value in this world or the next comes without sacrifice. And no season in this life lasts forever. 14 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 3 13

However, God can work everything, everything, to the good of those who love Him. And when I say everything, I mean everything. I am not saying evil things will become good. They will always be ugly, painful, and wrong. But we serve a God who can redeem what has been stolen. He can redeem us, and He can redeem our situations. We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony (Revelations 12:11), and we are more than conquerors in Christ (Romans 8:37). However, to be more than a conqueror, you must first conquer something. You cannot call yourself a victor without the hope of victory. Many of us are not ready to trust God and find comfort in Him amid our suffering. We ask God to remove the suffering and to stop the pain. We pray to be taken away from the situation or to have the situation taken away from us. These are normal reactions and common prayers, but they are not the prayers that will get us to the other side victorious. We must pray for grace, wisdom, and steadfastness to reach the other side of our trials. As we experience God’s nearness in that time, we must tell others of our testimony, so they too may hope in this God who comforts the brokenhearted. We must hope in God, we must rest in the knowledge that we will see something good come from the suffering we ourselves are experiencing. It may take months or years, but if we allow the Holy Spirit to give us perspective, we will eventually see things differently. God will give us opportunities to work through our pain and to share our hope with others. God will show us how to heal and give us balm for our wounds. God will quiet your soul and fight for you when you are too weak to fight for yourself. God will give you grace to reach the other side of your situation. But these things are all conditional. We must hold up our end of the bargain. We must hope.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 43:5 ESV) No one wants to bear the burden of trial, but everyone loves to hear the testimony on the other side. Realize that before every inspirational story, there was pain. There is glory on the other side of suffering. We are encouraged by the testimonies of those who endured. We clap when they tell of their triumph, and well we should. But what we must not do is forget what they experienced. I do not offer you a shoulder to cry on. I do not offer you mere sympathy or empty cliches. I speak to you the word of truth, and it’s a hard word to swallow because it requires something of you. But you can reach the other side. There is hope for you. Jesus will be the only one to carry scars in heaven and He wears them proudly, so do not be ashamed of your scars in this life. They are the marks of your survival. In the end, you will choose what they mean. You may call yourself a survivor or you may call yourself an overcomer. For verily, verily, I say unto you that all conquerors carry scars.

Gittel Fruma came to believe in Jesus after growing up as an Orthodox Jew. Gittel lives with her husband and son in Clearwater, Florida. She is currently working on a book about her testimony and recording her first album. You can find her at her website or on Facebook at @GittelFrumaMusic.

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THE LIGHT OF LIFE by Nicole Byrum I am a therapist and writer who is passionate about family, faith, and recovery. I am the author of Remade: Living Free, a book that explores topics related to substance abuse, recovery, and unhealthy relationships from a biblical perspective.

It’s impossible to imagine the wonder of Christmas without the brilliance of thousands of twinkling lights. In fact, the lights are one of my favorite parts of the season. As a child, I loved riding in the backseat of my grandparent’s car at nighttime as we drove around our small town oohing and aahing at all the festive lights. And without a doubt, our church’s Christmas Eve candlelit service was my favorite service of the entire year. I loved the sense of awe and majesty those candles commanded. As an adult, I still look forward to the cozy glow of the lights from our living room Christmas tree. Until recently, I just assumed the lights were part of the holiday season in that they marked this unique time of the year; that they were nothing more than pretty decorations and tradition. And maybe they are those things. But for those who know Christ, perhaps they serve as a reminder of the essence of Christmas–a reminder that light has come into the world. The first 5 verses of the Gospel of John give us incredible insight into the person of Jesus Christ. It is in this passage we learn the baby who was born in Bethlehem is the eternal Word and the creator of all things. And not only that, but all things were created for Him! He was the life and light of men, unable to be overcome by darkness.


A few chapters later Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” (John 8:12 NIV). He spoke these words during the Festival of Booths, a celebration commemorating God’s faithfulness to the Israelites during their time of desert wandering after the exodus. During this festival, God’s provision of a fiery cloud at night would have been remembered: “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night,” (Exodus 13:21 NIV) What Jesus claimed here was simply incredible. He said that He was the light; the light to which the pillar of fire pointed. The glory of God had been in that great cloud night after night. Later, His glory filled the tabernacle and eventually the temple: “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34 NIV)

“Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:13b-14 NIV) This glory returned in Jesus, who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Imagine the glory of God in the face of a baby. The glory of God laying in a manger. And this glory forever shines brightly in the face of Jesus Christ. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV) This light is spiritual life in Christ who raised us from our spiritual deadness. It is the light of our salvation. Paul tells us, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” (Colossians 2:13 ESV) This is the light we celebrate this Christmas season. Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah wrote these words: “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Isaiah 60:3 NIV) Praise God that this has been and continues to be so! May we give thanks now and always for the glorious light that entered the world as a newborn child; the light that now sits at the right hand of the throne of God; the light that will reign forevermore.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. ~James 4:14

Photos by Karen Ruhl


GOD’S G R E AT E S T GIFT by Christine Cotroneo Christine lives in Upstate, NY with her husband, Ryan, and is a pet-mom to their rescued cats, dog and ducks. She is the owner of Living Word Decor, an online shop where she creates hand painted wooden signs with Bible verses. When she’s not painting, she loves to go for walks, and to spend time in the word of God.

Some years ago, I was involved in a difficult situation caring for an elderly woman who had no family. I had the pleasure of meeting her through my grandmother since they were part of the same circle of friends. She was very poor in health, and many decisions surrounding her care and living situation needed to be made. To be honest, I felt completely unequipped to provide for many of her needs, and as the list of questions on how best to take care of her grew longer, my concern over how it would all work out weighed more heavily on my mind. After a particularly trying day, I came home with a heavy heart to an email from a friend with this verse. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV). I’m pretty sure I broke down in tears, partly from exhaustion, but mostly because I knew the Lord was telling me to look up to Him. The weight of what I was carrying was not meant to be on my shoulders, and His promise gave me a fresh sense of freedom and relief. I was reminded that day to look beyond the mountain in front of me, to the God who created them. If He could speak heaven and earth into existence, surely He would provide what I needed to care for her, and He was faithful until the very end. On the night that she passed away, her roommate broke out into a spontaneous song. She sang Amazing Grace, and I joined in, not knowing how fitting that moment would be for the last time I would see her alive. I got a phone call around 12:30 that morning that she had 18 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 3 17

passed peacefully in her sleep. All of my lingering concerns and questions were whisked away the moment she passed on to eternity. She was in the Lord’s care now, and I wouldn’t have to worry about her anymore. God provided in many ways throughout that experience, just as He promised. The Wonderful Counselor provided me with wisdom and guidance for every decision I faced, the Mighty God made a way where there seemed to be no way, the Everlasting Father was always there to turn to, and the Prince of Peace provided me with a sense of calm despite my uncertainty. The Christmas season is almost upon us. It is a time when we celebrate God’s greatest provision of all, the birth of His Son, Jesus. The first and brightest Christmas light that would ever shine was the star of Bethlehem that led the Magi to the place where Jesus had been born. The first and greatest gift ever to be given was our Lord and Savior. Because He lives, I have the assurance of His help and hope in my circumstances, and through my faith, the hope of eternal life. It won’t be long now until we’re exchanging gifts of our own with one another. As we unwrap each present and thank our loved ones, let us not forget to thank God not only for all of His care and provision in our lives but especially for His ultimate gift of salvation.


by Karen Ruhl I love people! Not just those I know, but, people I meet in grocery stores, or while walking. I miss being able to start up a conversation with strangers and plant seeds with those who are nonbelievers. I miss hugging family, friends, even strangers. What I have taken from this season, this year, this craziness we are dealing with, is that God wants us to change. When I typed in what does the Bible say about change, it gave me many scriptures. One was Ephesians 4:22-24. I went to my Life Application Study Bible and looked up Ephesians 4:20-24. I encourage you to read the entire verse to know what it means. Taking one verse from a chapter can be misleading. Ephesians 4:20-23 ESV: “But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” So we are to change the ways we know and how we act so that we can be more like Christ. Our entire way of living needs to change. We need to head in a new direction, with a different outlook and nature about us, we have a new way of thinking that the Holy Spirit gives us. When you read through the Bible, you will find that God used men and women who truly needed to change their ways. Did you know that Paul was a murderer, Noah was a drunk, Peter denied Christ, Jonah ran away from Christ, Gideon was afraid, the Samaritan woman was divorced, Rahab was a prostitute, Elijah was suicidal and so many more had flaws - as we all do? And yet, God called on each of these great men and women and used them greatly after they changed their ways and came to Christ. Change doesn’t always come easy, we are set in our ways, comfortable with our lifestyle, and blessed beyond measure - why change, right? And yet, this year, we have had so many changes that have interrupted our lifestyle, the way we are allowed to interact, the way we must be careful so as not to spread this virus. Some have worked through the virus, some have had major changes in their job situations. Churches have been told they must close. Restaurants, retail businesses, gyms, and so many more businessses were impacted. We had to change. It is my belief, that God is using this time to bring about change with those of us who love and honor Him, and to bring more people to Him. We must change our ways so that we can win souls today. One thing I know with every fiber of my body:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NKJV Change, pray, believe, stay strong, help, and love others. Let’s change the world, one person at a time. I don’t know about you, but I want to see more people come to Christ. I want to be more loving, giving, and filled with compassion. Church, accept change, let’s do this together. ~Blessings

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The Unexpected Christmas Gift by Pam McCormick It was two weeks until Christmas. Normally, by then, I would have had our tree up, decorated with tinsel, lights, colored ornaments, and a bow on top of the tree. But that year, I didn’t want to put up a tree. I didn’t feel like decorating. My mother had died in September, and the last thing I wanted to do was to celebrate the season. My merry was missing. I knew where my mom was. I remember a conversation we had on the phone the weekend before she died. She knew that I was worried about her. I was making plans to go visit her the following weekend. As much as she tried to tell me I didn’t need to come, there was a desire inside of me to be with her. I remember her words to me on the phone before we hung up. The words are forever a part of me. My mother and I had not been close, and yet the next few moments on the phone with her would last a lifetime. My mom told me, “Pam, one day, you will go to Heaven, and you will see Jesus. I just wanted to tell you I would be right behind Him, with my arms open wide too, welcoming you home with a big hug.” God knew I needed to hear that. I ended up driving to Fayetteville, NC, the following weekend to be with my mom. Sunday night, when it was time to drive back home, I got this feeling inside of me that I needed to stay. I thought it was because I wanted to stay with mom, but in reality, it was because God wanted me to stay with my mom.

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Mom had begun to eat a small supper I had prepared for her. In the middle of the meal, she started having trouble breathing. She went to her chair and proceeded to put the air tubes into her nostrils. She knew something was wrong. She gasped as if the air was not enough. She cried out, “Help me, Pam.” Then she went limp. I pulled her to the floor and started CPR and palm compressions on her chest, all the while talking to EMS frantically that they needed to hurry and get there NOW. It was a moment that I don’t like to recall. Why did I have to be there? My two sisters or my brother would have done a much better job. I beat myself up. I had failed my mom. I had “killed” her. I held onto this lie for months. It zapped all the joy out of me. There were mornings I didn’t want to get out of bed. I stopped going to church. It was too hard. I stopped talking to God. He had not helped my mom. I was angry at God. I was looking for someone to blame. I couldn’t see how much God wanted to restore me. Even now, as I write this, I am revisiting the hurt, and yet God has healed me and helped me see the whole thing through His eyes. I have no control over life and death. If it was time for my mom to go home to be with the Lord, nothing I did could stop it. I recognized how little I was and how big God was. God was big enough to hold me until I could talk to Him again. God was giving me time to grieve. God understood my pain. He didn’t expect me to bounce back. He knew that I needed time.

Family and Christmas by Karen Ruhl

I love reading stories about Christmas and how families share traditions and food recipes. One of my earliest memories was when I was 3 years old. I received a nurses kit for Christmas, a little white nurses bag with all of the tools needed for me to take care of my family.

So it’s December 2006 again. I was still not doing well. But God had a plan. Little did I know how beautiful that day would become? I cried out to God and told Him I was sorry for not understanding. I cried out and, in my distress, I truly didn’t think God had heard me, because I had distanced myself from God for so long, but He did. I told God I just needed an angel. I need an angel. God, please send me an angel. Please, God. My husband went up into the attic, hoping to spur me into action, hoping to get me into a jovial spirit. My husband had not heard my prayer to God, but God did. George came down with a box sealed with duct tape and marked PAM in large letters. George said, “What’s this?” I had not seen the box before. George whipped out his handy box cutter aka a “doohickey” and as the boxes’ flaps were torn apart; I was in awe of what I saw. Angels, angels, and more angels. I pulled one out and then another. The angels had belonged to my mother. They were one of her most treasured possessions, and she had given them to me. I will never forget that moment. My sister Judy had packed up Mom’s things, and in my grief, I had not seen. God knew. Did Judy know that her act of love was going to be an answered prayer from God to me? No, but it was. God can take the worst situation and turn it into something beautiful, just because. God desires to heal our hurts, and even when we can’t understand what He’s doing, even when we’re angry at Him, it doesn’t change the way He feels about us. That’s how wonderful God is. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 ESV)

I would take my thermometer and check everyone’s temperature. I had a stethoscope and listened to everyone’s heart. But the fun thing, although I laugh at it now, is that the kit came with a strip or two of candy pills. I was always happy when my brother Ron, who was 2 years older than me asked if I wanted to play with my nurse kit. He would be so patient as I went through all of the procedures and gave him a shot with my pretend needle, and wrapped him with bandages. Then he would say he thought he might need medicine and I happily gave him a pill or two. Thankfully, those little candy strips were available at the store and I believe my parents kept me well supplied for a time. The most touching Christmas was when I was 6. My dad had been hurt on the job and out of work for some time. With Christmas coming, he was getting nervous and sad. He sat on the end of his bed and hung his head which made me sad because I didn’t know why he was so sad. On Christmas Eve, there was a knock on the door and Santa arrived along with many helpers. They brought in Christmas presents and food. We were a family of 7 at that time, my oldest brother had married and moved out. Of course as kids, we thought Santa brought all of the goodies. But as I got older, I realized it was the local church that we went to. This is my most touching memory. It is good to give back all of the time, but in 2020, please look for those in need, and give or volunteer at your church programs. These memories last a lifetime and change many lives. Merry Christmas.

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Dear Heavenly Father, The Christmas season, a season filled with hope and joy celebrating the birth of your Son, has turned into a difficult time for many. This holiday season is different from any other, and many are struggling. People are struggling with their health, finances, the loss of loved ones, and the loss of physical connection with others. Lord, we pray for those who are experiencing loss, anxiety, and depression this holiday season. For some, Christmas is a reminder of the financial strain that prevents them from blessing their loved ones with presents. For others, they have lost loved ones this year, and the void is overwhelming. Others are filled with fear of what is to come.

A Prayer for December

Lord, we ask that you comfort every person who is hurting this holiday season. The pain cuts deep, but Lord, we know that you can bring healing. You are Emmanuel, God with us. Thank you for the comfort you provide to the brokenhearted. Thank you for the hope we have in you. No matter our circumstances, you are good. You are God, and you are holding us in the palm of your hands.

We are excited to annouce that Tynea will be writing a Prayer Column each month.

Grief abounds this year, and this season is hard. Lord, many are discouraged and feeling defeated. Please be with them. Give them the strength that can only come from you. Their strength has failed, and they don’t know where to turn. Whisper to them and reveal your unconditional love to them.

by Tynea Lewis

Tynea Lewis is a teacher turned workfrom-home mom. She and her husband live in Pennsylvania with their two children, and they love spending time together at their family cabin. Tynea remembers loving to write as early as first grade. She has a heart for encouraging others in the midst of their messes. You can connect with her at her personal blog (, on Instagram (@TyneaLewis), or Facebook (@TyneaLewisWriter).

Thank you for being close to the brokenhearted. You have not left us during this difficult time. You are right here, and you provide comfort to us in our darkest hour. Thank you for the promise that one day you will wipe away every tear from our eyes. We will no longer mourn, cry, or experience pain. Thank you for that promise and thank you for sending Christ as a baby all those years ago that we can have hope of all the amazing things to come. This holiday season, may we focus on your goodness instead of the trouble of our circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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God Can Use Us, Flaws and All by Tynea Lewis

Have you ever had moments where you’ve questioned how or why God wanted to use you? Abraham was old, and yet his offspring became as numerous as the stars. Moses had a speech problem, and yet God used him to free the Israelites from bondage. Rahab was a prostitute, and yet God used her to help the Israelites conquer the city of Jericho. David was an adulterer and murderer, and yet Jesus came from his lineage. As humans, we are all flawed. And too often, we allow those flaws to keep us from doing what God wants to do through us right now and in the future. We come up with excuses, and we turn away out of shame and fear, but God wants to use every part of us. Too often, we allow our struggles to keep us from serving God.

God knows we are not perfect. He knows we’re going to fail and make a mess of things at times, and yet He has a part for all of us to play in His plan. God knows every part of our story–the good, the bad, and the ugly. He can use every aspect to reach others, not just the good things. The very things you think keep God from using you are the very things He wants to use to reach specific people. The very things you think disqualify you from being part of God’s plan are the very things that will touch people’s hearts. Even when it doesn’t make sense to us (or the outside world), it makes sense to God.

Lord, thank you for even considering using me. Often, it feels like many aspects of myself would disqualify me from your kingdom work, but you Satan will do everything he can to convince us we don’t see it that way. You can use anything. Thank are unworthy of the call God has placed on our you for looking past my limitations. Lord, help me lives. He will plant doubts to keep us stuck. He to focus on your greatness and not my weakness. will distract us along the way, so we turn to other I ask that you use me to touch the lives of those things. around me. Use me to bring glory to your name. In Jesus’ name, amen. Even though we are far from perfect, God chooses to use us. He doesn’t have to. After all, He’s God, but He invites us into His plan. He calls us by name, and He desires to use us in this fallen world. How incredible is that?

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Just Three Things by Scott Dunn

We are what I would consider your average Christian household when it comes to most aspects of Christmas. We decorate; my wife does a fabulous job of decorating inside; I handle the outside. Her work is featured on the cover and on the inside of the cover in this magazine in this issue! We also buy gifts, we wrap gifts, and we give gifts. Here is the potential hang-up; we allow our kids to believe there is a Santa Claus. That may rub some folks the wrong way, but Santa is a minimal component that is not crucial to what our kids believe Christmas is about. You can ask them; their response will be, “the Birth of Jesus.” Yes, right now, they believe that some white-bearded man will come down the chimney and bring them gifts, but that magic is close to disappearing for our children because of their age. I am not excusing their belief, our allowance of their belief, nor am I relegating our savior to the back seat. This is one of those times in life where you can have your cake and eat it too. Something we should do sparingly and with the sobriety of why we are okay with it.

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I was raised that Christmas was for the birth of Christ. Gifts and Santa are a mutually exclusive thing and are just a way to show we love each other. Commercialization of holidays can certainly pull people away from the actual meaning of Christmas, but I grew up poor, so that was not a huge factor. My kids are in a very different position. We are solidly a middle-class family, and they have access to many things I did not, including the breadth and depth of technology we have today. Right before, and the point of inspiration for this article was my son, Elijah. He is what I’d call a typical boy. Loud, adventurous, and a bull in a China shop who would rather do everything else in life aside from schoolwork. While cooking them lunch, I asked if he had written his Christmas gift wish list. He had, about ten times, but this final list goes into a tiny mailbox on the tree that Santa reads before leaving his gifts. So, he began working on his list, and to give an example; he had an Xbox, an expensive pair of yellow Nikes, 5-$100 Fortnite gift cards… and a laundry list of other things. It’s clear he has no clue about monetary values yet, and that is okay; he is eight.

So, while I was finishing up their lunch (buttered noodles… yum!), I said, “Eli, that is a lot of stuff. Isn’t it?” His response was in the affirmative, and I asked him, “What is Christmas about?” He responded, “Jesus being born.” I let that sink in a few seconds and said, “You know, I have a great idea. We know that Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, and he only had three presents, right? Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What if we only thought about three things we wanted and wrote those down, and that was all we asked for?” He considered it for a moment and balled up his extensive list so he could write down just three things.

My stance is unchanged; Christ is in Christmas. It exists because of Him. No commercialization can change that. What can change it is our lack of effort to keep focused on why Christmas exists. Now that the kids are older, I want to take them to retirement communities or places with seniors, or programs where families who struggle can experience a little joy in gifts while also hearing about the true purpose of Christmas. Once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, and it will, that is where you will find us every year, loving people and centered on Christ.

If we are not centered on Christ, our children will not be. That is when Christmas has become devalued. So that’s my goal with our kids for ChristThat is something I would encourage others to mas, to show them and, in the future, other people, do with their kids. In this one author’s opinion, just three things about Christmas and its purpose. Santa is okay; he is fun and jolly! Keep your kids Faith in Christ, Hope in His work, and to love the focused on just three things and tie it into why way He did. that number is important to Jesus’ birth and Christianity as a whole. One great example is Merry Christmas, my beloved friends. the number of gifts received by the baby Jesus. Another is our belief that our God is triune and comprises the Father, the Son, and the Holy Scott Dunn is a Christian husband and father who Spirit. Noah had three sons. Jesus denied Satan has spent over 15 years in the telecommunications three times. industry. He is the founder of Talking with God (, a podcast that seeks to The list goes on, but these are great teaching educate and encourage a closer relationship with moments. I try to look at all the interactions I God. Scott is a northerner who migrated south and have with our kids as a chance to ask myself, has fully acclimated to the wonderful area known “How can I put God into that situation?” Some- as the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He times I can do it well; other times, I consider it, serves at his local church by helping with the probut I am really stretching to sneak a lesson in. duction and online streaming of services. He has a Such as, I have not found a way to weave God genuine passion for the Christian man and his reinto nose-picking and may never accomplish sponsibilities, often writing about them on his blog that. Here he shares open and real-life experiences so that other men can relate In retrospect, I wish I had enough sense to read to the human condition and how that relates to a about or come up with the “Just Three Things” stronger love relationship with God. lesson sooner. I am sure others have done that. I do not consider it a great epiphany, but it is important in how we approach Christmas with our children.

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Lynn Story Downham is a fourth generation artist who returned to North Carolina in 2014 after twenty-six years on the Florida panhandle. Her seventh family tree commission was for a “family tree for Jesus.” Twenty years later she is a born-again believer with a best-selling print, a beautiful family and a passion for sharing Christ through her art. Find out more on Facebook by looking up “Lynn Story Downham’s Art” or “Lynn Downham Jesus Tree.”

THE POWER OF PRAISE By Lynn Downham I was born on a dark, starry night three days after Christmas and my first cries were in a loud and brightly lit hospital nursery while my mother hovered between life and death with an amniotic fluid embolism. The medical college doctors saved her on the country’s first dialysis machine, and three weeks later I met my mom. During this near-death time, she experienced the overwhelming love of Christ, which probably solidified her Christian faith. My first memories of praise were singing every Sunday in the Presbyterian congregation of saints to favorites like “I Love To Tell The Story” and “Christ The Lord Has Risen Today,” but my personal favorites were the Christmas carols. All of them. Somehow, they got into my heart and they have never left. I await Christmastime each year with longing, thinking excitedly about getting to hear and sing the Christmas carols. Although I’ve been in choirs and a chorus, now I just sing them for me and God and our daughter. I thank you, Mom, for surviving and taking us to church and for all the lovely Christmastime memories.

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Jump forward to the season after I became saved. My education in praise deepened and became more heartfelt, and my understanding deepened. I began to really love to praise in song owing to Everlasting Word Full Gospel Baptist Church in Florida and the three Full Gospel International Conferences that I was blessed to attend. When you get 30,000 people in one area praising God at the same time, good things are going to happen, and the Holy Spirit is going to show up! During this time, I would also praise at home while Mike was working offshore because we had a two-story log house with a cathedral ceiling and you could turn the music up and sing to God to your heart’s content. Now, fast forward to today, 2020. Quite a leap, I know. Does anyone remember the secular song, “American Pie” and the lyrics that talked about, “... the day the music died...”? That disturbingly strikes me as where we are right now. Our churches stand empty, hopefully temporarily. The few churches that are holding services are keeping the praise going with a skeleton crew of choir members because of the Coronavirus. We’ve been taught “praise Him in the valley.” Amen, and if we do not praise Him, Jesus’s words tell us “the very rocks will cry out.” I have long been determined no rocks are going to do my praising for me.

Here is my last point; forgive me while I use a well-known and much-loved worldly illustration to offer up a spiritual truth. In the movie, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” what do the Whos in Whoville do? That’s right... they SING. An important point for believers, but even greater because not all people know Christ. When the Whos sing, what happens to the Grinch? It suddenly hits them like a sack of bricks that hey, maybe all this material stuff is not what’s important! So, to us believers, if we sing in our valley, the lost will hear our praise, and the power of the Holy Spirit will turn their hearts toward God. I will leave you with a picture of praise from my book, The Mouses, for there are more ways to praise than just in song. I praise in paint and you praise in your gifts for they all serve to glorify our Father in heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the wonderful Holy Spirit. Enjoy singing those Christmas carols this Christmas! “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25 ESV)

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Carl’s mom writes him letters occasionally. Carl is her only child. Carl’s father died when he was in college. Living in the Arizona, Carl calls his Mom in the Carolinas as often as he can on Sundays. Carl’s mom is in her 80s. She lives in a contemporary world with old fashioned values.

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Anna Friend

Dear Carl,

My Shirley is in the hospital. She has COVID. About a week after Thanksgiving, she had a high fever and called me. She told me not to come over but to pray. She asked me to get tested, although I had not seen her for several days. I did not want to worry you, but I got tested. I am negative. I am also now isolated in this cottage because I cannot risk the exposure. COVID has reared its rage and is rampantly infecting our small county. This world has become scary for me. Preacher Larry had told me to start with the book of John when my Bible was new. I found this underlined in my Bible: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27 ESV) Well, out of the woodwork came a daughter of Shirley’s. Shirley had a son. I spent time with him. No one mentioned a daughter. The woman is gorgeous with long hair shining as copper like her mother. She came to my door but did not come in. Though her head hardly lifted, I saw her eyes swollen and veined red. Her first words were “sorry, but none of us will see her again. All we have is memories.” She proceeded to tell me that because of Shirley’s chemo treatment and her battle, she will not live. She left after telling me that her mom had left some things for me. She had to have Shirley’s apartment disinfected, and all items treated. Neither she nor I will ever see her again. With the rise in COVID numbers, no hospital visits, no Hospice visits, and no gifts or cards can be sent. Her daughter is communicating her words through a nurse. I was told since I am not family there will be no communication from me. We will see about that! There is a son, grandchildren, and this beautiful woman she leaves behind. This woman child of Shirley’s will stay nameless for me. She came too late for her mother. Yes, Carl, I am angry. I am most deeply hurt. Son, I have not put up one thing for Christmas. I am healthy and well. I still thankfully have my mind. However, there are boxes everywhere. I am arranging for a donation truck to come get them. Things are just things. I kept a few valuable items, both monetarily and sentimentally. I am going to rock Donna’s world. I am taking her up on the offer to move in with you both. I prayed with Preacher Larry about this. By the way, Sarah is back in my life dropping off groceries and tending errands for me. Son, I will be home for Christmas. This is happening fast—I send this letter first to let everything settle in for you. Donna will need to be picked up off the floor. Call me, Son. I have money for a ticket, but I get confused with them accents of the airline people on the phone. I am told to do it online on my cell phone. Is that a joke? I tell them the accents are the same on the cell phone. Merry Christmas son, I look forward to conversations with you, Carl. Love, Mom PS: By the way, Queen Sheba needs to come with me. She is purring around my legs. She does not want me to forget her. I lift up my eyes to the hills.

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OUR MISSION, OUR BLESSING By Craig and Karen Ruhl are not financially compensated for their content. We encourage authors, writers, poets, and photographers to share their love of Christ through the gifts and talents God blessed them with. It is an honor for Faith On Every Corner to be used in spreading the news of Jesus Christ to all the world. An added blessing we have received has been getting to know our contributing writers on a very personal basis. Many have shared their testimony with us, as we have ours with them. As we read and edit each article, story, and poem submitted for publication, we are educated, encouraged, and comforted. Our faith is strengthened. We pray that the same blessing is passed on to our readers and that they will share our publication with others. As we were putting the finishing touches on the December 2020 issue of Faith On Every Corner magazine, we reflected on the journey this ministry has taken us on. For over three years, we have been blessed to express our testimonies with people around the world. Our magazine is being read in over 73 countries. In some of these areas, it is extremely dangerous to possess or read Christian material. Faith On Every Corner magazine, through its Christian content, may be the only opportunity people in these areas will have to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. That is an enormous responsibility. We have been allowed to serve God through the use of the gifts and talents we and our contributors have been given. It has been a life-changing experience to write for, edit, and publish this monthly periodical. Early on, Karen prayed the Prayer of Jabez over each of us and the Faith On Every Corner ministry. Our ever-faithful God has expanded not only our territory but also the depth of our faith and understanding. He has provided the strength and armor to defend us during the inevitable periods of spiritual warfare we experience in fulfilling this ministry. Our prayers always include a hope that God’s will be done and not ours. Faith On Every Corner has never been about monetary or tangible gain; we purposely do not accept paid advertising. Our contributor writers 30 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 3 29

The coming new year brings with it renewed hope and promise. We at Faith On Every Corner have exciting plans for our magazine and several new publications. If you would like to stay informed as these changes occur, please visit the website at and subscribe. Please also visit our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, like, and follow to help us grow our circulation. A final thought: this has been a challenging year for all of us. Through it all, we continue to give thanks for the glorious gift of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we prepare for and celebrate Christmas, the time of Jesus’ birth, let us all remember these words: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV) Merry Christmas, everyone. May God bless you all! You can reach Craig and Karen by emailing:

Matthew 1:18-23 NKJV

Christ Born of Mary Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

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Is Jesus in the Festival? By Joseph Akinrinola

The period of celebration is here again. The celebration revolves around Jesus. Of all religious festivals in the world, no one is as glorious as Christmas. It is celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Among those celebrating Christmas, the majority does not understand its purpose other than the period of eating, drinking, and merriment. At best, some will fulfill the tradition of sharing and decoration. However, is Jesus in the festival? While I have nothing against the euphoria of Christmas, the pertinent question is, will God be glorified? Will all the activities add value to us or someone else? Jesus’ visit to the family of Lazarus will give you an idea of what I am talking about. This is the story of two sisters with two different dispositions to life and spirituality. Jesus was a guest to the entire family. As expected, it is the women that will arrange to entertain the guest. The outspoken Martha was at the forefront of this. However, Mary, probably the younger of the two, was giving rapt attention to the teachings of Jesus. Unable to bear it, Martha came to complain to Jesus about her sister’s negligence. She was giving orders to the master on how to handle Mary’s indolent behavior. Martha felt Jesus was indulging Mary as she sat at his feet listening.

The reply of Jesus left us wondering if it was wrong for Martha to care about Jesus’ welfare. But that was not the case. All Jesus was concerned about was Martha’s value system. To Jesus, doing the right thing at the wrong time equates doing the wrong thing. In Jesus’ view, our preoccupation should be on eternal value. That was what Mary has chosen. (Luke 10:38) As you know, Jesus was not born on December 25. Nonetheless, that is when we celebrate the birth of a savior, because a global day has been declared for that. That day now becomes a time to appreciate God for His gift of salvation. Not only that, but to share the good news with others who have not known him. This is more than any gift, decoration, or merriment. While all the fanfare associated with Christmas is welcome, we should remember the less privileged. The two categories of people Jesus refers to as goat and sheep in Matthew 25:31-46 never imagined their deeds were on record. In the parable of the sheep and goat, both of them ask if Jesus was ever at their home in the neighborhood. Little did the woman with the alabaster oil know her action would be read centuries later. (Matthew 26:6-13)

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Therefore, see the smallest deed you will do this festive period as an investment in Jesus. Someone out there needs a pair of shoes, a scarf, a drink, a small amount of food, a ride to the amusement park, or soothing and comforting words.

Hopefully, by the time we cross into the New Year, we will not ask if Jesus was here. Rather, we will thank God that Jesus was in all we did during the Christmas period.

Perhaps a warm embrace and visit are what that person needed. Maybe a word of assurance that the year is ending, but God is not through with that person, is all he needed in averting that suicide. You may be the link that marriage needed to remain glued. Think about these as you plan the Christmas celebration. Let me close with the word of James, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.� (James 1:27 KJV) Perhaps you have heard me narrate this story before. One of my church leaders once lived in the Northern part of Nigeria. The locals there are hostile to Christianity, though they manage to cohabit with them. Thus, the great man of God was not happy doing good for these people with large numbers of street beggars.

I am Joseph, an author, blogger, and content writer from Nigeria. In the field of writing, I deliver unique, grammatically correct, and plagiarism-free content. Currently, I work with three online firms specializing in motivation, human capacity development, lifestyle, relationship, and spiritual writings.

Meanwhile, this man of God has been trusting God for a car. One day a beggar came for alms in his office on a major road. Though the beggar appeared to be in need, the pastor turned him down. Immediately he bolted the door; he heard a voice saying his car had just walked away. The pastor jumped up, opening the door, but could not see the beggar. He wondered because it was a major road, no bends or adjacent street the beggar could have taken. There was only one explanation. Jesus was there, and he did not know. Most times, we do not recognize opportunities when they come our way because they are dressed in an overall. Maybe this season will be an opportunity to seal our blessing with good deeds?

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Look at the bottom right hand side of the florist window. Do you see him?

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Road Trippin’ in Hickory, North Carolina by Karen Ruhl

We didn’t have to drive far for our Road Trippin’ article this month. There is a town called Hickory about 30 minutes from us. It is a huge town but and there is an Historic District that Hickory has truly made a special place to visit year round. At Christmas, the storefronts all decorate their windows and the city puts out great places for you to visit and take photos of the family and kids.

The Christmas tree is huge, and will be replanted after the season. I loved hearing the birds chirping from inside the tree. I don’t have room to include all of the storefront windows, they will really look great at night with all of the lights. You should visit! There is so much to see in Hickory, NC. If you want a great town to visit, look them up.

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All Over the World By Pamela Walck

As I got my 91-year-old-mom dressed today, I remembered that she wanted to wear a Snoopy sweatshirt. My sister and brother-in-law, both very generous people, a few months ago on my birthday, gave me a large suitcase, among other presents. The pretty suitcase was filled with at least twenty sweatshirts with the tags still on and other athletic wear. The sweatshirts ranged from NFL teams to city logos from all over the United States. They travel a lot! She said she had cleaned out one of their dressers in a guest room and decided to give them all to me. I put the snoopy sweatshirt over my mom’s head. Rip, I put a hole right through the back. “Sorry mom, I don’t know what happened. My nail didn’t even touch it.” “Put in on me anyway,” she said. “It might rip further.” “Put it on.”

As I sprayed and wiped up the bathroom, I looked at the paper towel in my hand just covered in black. I must have used about twenty paper towels. The black lint just kept going. I thought about material goods. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal,” (Matthew 6:19-20 NIV) Though it’s nice to have things, we brought nothing into this world and can’t take anything with us when we leave it. Yet, if this black lint could spread something negative in a small area, why couldn’t I spread something positive? And there’s nothing better than the Word of God—knowing Jesus as one’s Savior. This lint had spread through the entire bathroom. I want to be used for God’s Kingdom to spread His Word throughout the world as people desperately need Him. 150,000 people die every day and most go to Hell, not Heaven. The Bible clearly states this in Matthew 7:13-14. As I cleaned the floor and got closer to the window, farther from where I initially put the snoopy sweatshirt on my mom, the lint too, got lighter and lighter. I thought of the 1040 window, the area in the world where people have at least heard of Jesus. Almost 70% of the five billion people that live there have not been evangelized. It’s located in a rectangular area of Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. They will ultimately perish unless somehow, they hear through missionaries, believers, Bibles sent to them, even dreams of Jesus. This should make us weep. (

As I finished putting it on her, the arm ripped off. At that point, I just pulled on parts of the sweatshirt and the whole thing fell apart like construction paper. What is up with this? It was obviously defective. I threw it in the trash. Meanwhile, my mom, the bathroom floor, and anything near my mom was covered in black lint. I got her dressed into something else, moved out of the bathroom, and started cleaning up. 36 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 3 35

We have many people in this country that have grown up in other cultures where Christianity is not prevalent. One night, on New Year’s Eve, after leaving work, I was driving through Amherst, New York, and wanted a coffee. Normally I would go out of my way to find a Duncan Donuts, my favorite, but I felt the Lord saying no and impressing on me to stop at a Tim Horton’s Coffee shop. Ok, I thought. As I went through the drive-through, a smiling darkskinned woman with long black hair and an accent handed me my coffee and change. “Where are you from?” I asked. “India,” she replied.

Pam loves to write and inspire others to walk in faith and share the Gospel. She has been a follower of Jesus for over twenty years. She works as a physical therapist, takes care of her sweet ninety-twoyear-old mom, and loves going to the gym. A graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Pam has taught many Bible studies, been on mission trips, volunteered in pastoral care, and helps with a ministry to children in Zambia. Pam’s blog is found at

We ended up having a great conversation. She comes from a Sikh background. I invited her to my church and gave her a Jesus Film gift card, so she could download and watch films on Christ in multiple languages. Please pray for this friend, Abby, to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior. This coming New Year and every day let’s think about how we can spur one another on toward love and good deeds and share the Gospel. The Gospel can be shared anywhere there are people—grocery stores, the internet, parks, the mall, or the gym. You can do this alone or with another person as Jesus sent them out two by two (Luke 10:1). But if you are by yourself, go for it! Don’t be afraid, souls are waiting to know Jesus. I carry in my car and purse, tracts, and Pocket Testaments of John. You don’t have to use tracts, but I find them helpful and the person can read it later. As I hand them out, I smile and briefly explain what the pamphlet is about. After a little small talk, I ask, “If you were to die today, where do you think you would go and why?” If the person will talk with me, and many do, the conversation might end up in the person getting saved, or at least you end up planting seeds! Of course, Jesus does the saving (John 6:44), but He uses Christians. It’s such a privilege to share the Gospel and tell people about how He’s changed our life since knowing Him personally.

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Faith On Every Corner Bookshelf Our bookshelf is growing each month. We have exciting news coming for January - be sure to stay tuned!

Sixteen Letters by Aradhana Thakor Reviewed By Craig and Karen Ruhl We had no clue what this book was about by the cover and was pleasantly surprised to read letters written to all of us in the same tone that Paul wrote his to the letters to the church. Each letter offers words of encouragement based on scripture verses followed by a beautiful poem written by the author. We thought we would read a chapter a night but quickly realized we were half way through the book and finished reading it in one sitting. This book is a well-written book that we believe all adults will enjoy.

A Walk Through The Zoo: With Fun Animal Facts

Reviewed by Karen and Craig Ruhl (Craig and I enjoyed editing, designing, and helping the author get publlished on Amazon.) This is such a great book to read with your children. Not only are the illustrations beautifully painted by the author, but there is a game that the kids can play while reading. Melinda takes you on a walk through the zoo and tells you facts about the animals you visit. This is one of those books your kids will want to have read to them or will read themselves as they visit their favorite animal. This book is a wonderful gift!

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Not Without the Head By Fredrick K. Ezeji-Okoye Reviewed by Craig Ruhl (Craig was pleased to assist in the editing of this book.) ​ Fredrick K. Ezeji-Okoye has masterfully written a manual for understanding the overwhelming consequences in homes without the presence and participation of the male as head of the family. In his book, Not Without the Head, the author describes the issues of a fatherless home straightforwardly, sharing his personal experiences and then citing biblical truths to support his suggestions for addressing the various issues. To further aid the reader’s understanding, this book includes the testimonies of several men who share how they missed filling the role of head of the family. They describe the mistakes they made and how they successfully changed to become the true head of the family. Fatherlessness, through physical or emotional absence, is epidemic with far-reaching generational implications. Not Without the Head is a much-needed guide for men and women who are contemplating marriage or are already married and want to ensure that their children grow up with a father who is not just there but also is truly the head of the family. This book should be read by all men, shared with their spouses, and then passed down to their children.

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We have now opened up our newest addition, the Faith On Every Corner Bookshelf. If you have a book you would like us to review and feature, please call or email Craig at 828-305-8571 for information. Email: We have big news coming for our January Bookshelf - stay tuned!

Pray America Great

Joining the Prayer Force of Heaven

By Donica Hudson

Reviewed by Craig & Karen Ruhl We received this pre-release copy of Pray America Great directly from author Donica Hudson. Donica Hudson is an established voice in the Christian community and is an unabashed patriotic supporter of America. This book was written in 2020, during a year of a global pandemic and a contentious election cycle. In her book, the author details what she and many others perceive as overt attacks on our nation and our way of life. In a logical and meaningful manner, the early chapters discuss how we, as a nation, came to this exceptional period in time. The concept of spiritual warfare is described and how it applies to much of the discord and upheaval we are currently experiencing around the globe, and specifically here in America. Although we are seeing radical changes to our American culture and government, the actual battle Donica Hudson lives in North Carolina with against evil is raging in heavenly realms and not just on her family. She is an author, media person- earth. ality, and speaker. As the title of the book suggests, we can and should enter intentional, intercessory prayer for our country, our leadThe book is available at ers, and each other. Specific prayer is suggested to aid in the battle against the various elements of evil being perpetrated on our nation, as detailed by the author. We are called to and are to be commissioned in that endeavor. The concept of Biblical covenant is discussed, especially how it relates to our call to prayerfully seek the Lord’s grace and mercy for our country. Throughout the book, an urgent call is made for us to pray that our country is healed. The author provides a prayer strategy to restore the foundations of this great nation. 40 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 39

Great Christmas Gifts!

Grumpy the Gator

Written by Melissa Henderson Reviewed By Karen and Craig Ruhl

We were so happy that Melissa’s book was published in time for us to review for the December issue. Many of you have read Melissa’s articles in the magazine. Melissa is a wonderful storyteller and that shows in each of her children’s books. Grumpy the Gator tells kids to be very safe around the alligators and not to disturb them. A sweet story to read to your children. Licky the Lizard is so cute and teaches all of us how to get along with each other. This set would make a wonderful Christmas gift for your children and grandchildren! Click on each book for the link to their Amazon page. Both books are wonderfully illustrated.

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When I Think of Christmas By Krystle Nicole Martin

When I think of Christmas, I think of the ultimate gift, Christ. When I think of Christmas, I think of You. When I think of Christmas, I think of pure love coming to earth. When I think of Christmas, I think of joy in the midst of sadness. When I think of Christmas, I think of Mary making an amazing journey home. When I think of Christmas, I think of Joseph and how protective he was of her. When I think of Christmas, I think of the ultimate gift, Christ. He was, is, and forever will be our Hope. He was, is, and forever will be our Prince of Peace. He was, is, and forever will be the ultimate gift of love from the Father. The greatest gift God has ever given humanity is, was, and forever will be, Jesus. He is the bridge that connects us, the love that would heal us, and the life that would restore us. So, when I think about Christmas, I don’t think about gifts under the tree, but the love of those around me. When I think about Christmas, I think of the ultimate gift, Jesus.

I live in Oklahoma. I am a poet. I love being an encouragement to other people. I don’t want to write just to write. I want to write with purpose. I want my words to help someone else in need. I want to be intentional with what I am given. I want to be a blessing to others. 42 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 3 41

Diane has a Master’s degree in Divinity and a Bachelors in Early Childhood Edcuation & Child/Family Studies. She resides in Greer, SC near her parents and adult siblings. When she is not writing or reading, you can find her being crafty, gardening, and hanging out with friends and family. She is currently, self publishing a couple of children’s books for preschoolers. She also has a novel for YA, a non fiction, autobiographical story about dealing with chronic illnesses. You can find her books on You can find more info about her from the following social media sites: DianeBuie@WritingWordsThatMatter (FB/ author page) PDBuie@pd_bee (Twitter)

Perpetual Christmas I LOVE Christmas! It is one of my favorite holidays within the calendar year. What is NOT to like about this holiday? I mean, where else can you spend an entire month celebrating the birth of a friend? The month leading up to Christ’s birthday, called Advent, is a fun way to further enjoy Jesus’ birth too. Anticipation and the preparation that Advent offers us is yet another reason to simply LOVE Christmas! The hope that is so prevalent in the birth of Jesus leaves me with a feeling of utter delight and joy. I have this feeling so incredibly that I chose, last year, to celebrate in a unique way. In the corner of my kitchen and writing area, I left a small table-top tree decorated to keep Christmas in my heart and my mind throughout the year. I left the décor very simple, white lights. This simple tree is a constant light that reminds me of Gods’ love for me when He sent His son, Jesus, to be born among us. The light reminds me of the hope of the gospel of Jesus and the power of God’s Words in The Holy Bible. Is having a perpetual Christmas tree too weird for you? Well, my reasoning for doing this is rather simple.

One of many names that are given to Jesus; names that describe His character is Emmanuel. Emmanuel means, “God with us.” In my thinking, as a follower of Jesus, I have God’s presence with me every minute of every day. So, I see this as a reason to celebrate Christmas every day of the year. What was it that Old Scrooge, the miser in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, says to his community of friends and family (after he has visits from the three ghosts) at the end of the story? He claims, with amazing joy, “I will keep Christmas in my heart all year long.” Or words similar to those listed in quotes here. Scrooge has become a changed man. He now has an actual, warm, and loving heart towards humanity. This might be a good reason to keep celebrating Christmas every day of the year; we might be able to make a difference in the world we live in. Our actions and words might be even more kind to those around us. We might even change the world, one person at a time. I think Charles Dickens would have agreed with me about my perpetual tree! What about you? How will you celebrate Christmas this year and into the next one?

Allow me a moment to explain.

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The Christmas Snowglobe By Brandy Davis

Brandy Davis lives in Washington State with her husband and two sons. Brandy became a Christian during her teen years and her passion is to share the gospel, the good news, through her writings. She writes poetry, short stories, and is currently in the editing process of her first novel.

11:54 - On Christmas Eve. Six minutes before Christmas morning starts and all Hannah can do is stare out of her window, watching snow silently falling. She wraps herself in her Christmas tree robe she had wanted so badly when she was sixteen and her dear old grandpa had caved in and got it for her. Thankfully, at twenty-two, it still fits her. Especially this year. 11:56 - The clock on the wall reminds her time goes on even though she wants to freeze time. Tears threaten to fall again, and she quickly shakes her head. “I just can’t cry anymore. I just can’t,” she whispers to herself. Those tears give birth to daily occurrences these days, and she can’t bear to shed anymore. Earlier that night, she was curled up next to her grandma on the couch, listening to her father read the Christmas story. A comfy chair sat empty. Grandpa’s chair. Holding her grandma’s hand, Hannah saw a few tears slip through her grandma’s eyes. The first Christmas without the love of her life. 11:59 - Images of past Christmas eves replay in her head. Her grandparents would always spend the night at their house and at midnight, her grandpa would leave a present in front of her brother’s and her doors. It was always a thrilling moment for them. “Please, no. I can’t do this. He won’t be there. I can’t do this. I can’t believe how hard this is.” The grief breaks through and she sobs into her pillow. Soft tapping is heard on her door, or so she thinks.

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“No, I’m just hearing things. My mind is playing tricks on me.” Then the same tapping is heard on her brother’s door next door. Trembling, she jumps up and tiptoes to her door. She slowly opens the door and there on the floor is a box wrapped with white Christmas tree wrapping paper. There is a card that reads “Hannah.” It is in her grandpa’s handwriting. She gasps and her eyes dart down the hall. Her grandma is at her own bedroom door and gives Hannah a slight nod and a smile before closing her door. Hannah bends down and picks up the present. She closes her door and takes the present to her bed, handling the gift delicately. She takes the card off carefully, not wanting to rip any of the paper. It is a blank white card with her name on it. Opening it, she sees the familiar beloved handwriting of her grandpa. It floors her, making the tears fall once again.

Dear Hannah, Merry Christmas, sweet girl. I know you are surprised. You weren’t expecting this, and I’m glad I could surprise you one last time. You are heartbroken right now and that is ok. I know I’m not there for Christmas and I know you are probably not in your usual “I Love Christmas!” bubbly attitude. And that is ok too. Before you open your present, I sure hope you waited to read this first, I need to share some things first. You will always be my special girl. You are a gift from the Lord Jesus to me and your grandmother. Watching you as you gave your heart to Jesus when you were ten and watching how the Lord has grown you over the years has been one of my greatest joys. Because, sweet girl, I will see you again. YOU will see ME again. I am with the Lord now and you know how ready I was to finally be with my Lord and Savior. The only thing I was broken about was to leave you all behind. So, I left you the one thing that will help you spiritually and emotionally.

First a story, our story. You know it by heart, but you know me, I love telling our story. It all started when you were eight and had the flu. You had to stay home from a family Christmas party at your aunt’s house and I stayed home with you. You were miserable. You were missing Christmas, one of your favorite days. So, I brought you a snow globe. It had a huge gold star in the middle that lit up and when you shook it up, snowflakes swirl around the star. On the bottom, it read “Jesus is light.” I wanted you to know that no matter what you go through in this life, Jesus will be your light in the dark times, if you believe in Him. You were so happy to get it and felt so special. I was glad to make you smile that Christmas. Then you returned the favor to remind me of this. When my sister died, you saw I took it hard. I remember how you came in the front door and then came to sit next to me on the couch. You were so still and then you put the snow globe in my hand, whispering, “To remind you Jesus is your light during the dark times.” I broke down. The Lord knew I desperately needed to hear that. And the kindness you showed me… oh dear girl. You will never know how that touched your old grandpa’s heart. Then you were getting ready to go off to college a few states away and were terrified. Remember how I took you for a drive for some ice cream and you started crying in the truck? I had pulled over and hugged you. I placed the snow globe in your hands. It was your turn to be reminded that Jesus is light in your darkness. Of course, that made you cry even more, but they were happy tears.

When I got really sick and the doc had said I wouldn’t live much longer, you came and gave the snow globe back to me. With a soft, cracking voice, you said, “Grandpa, I know you aren’t scared to go home to the Lord, but I know you will be sad for us and still feel physical pain. You need this more than ever. Jesus is your light through this dark time.” Yup, more tears and hugs were shared. I can’t tell you how much the Lord has used the snow globe to remind me who He is. I thank you, sweet girl, for allowing Him to use you in that special way. And now, for the final time, I will pass the snow globe back to you. I don’t need it anymore. Remember the Lord through your grief. It can be an overwhelming darkness that can suck all joy from your heart. Jesus is your light. Let Him be your light. He loves you so much. Remember how He gave His life for you on the cross. Cling to Him, sweet girl. Soon... oh so soon, we will be reunited and worshipping the Lord together. I can’t wait. Until that glorious day, rejoice in the Lord. I will see you again. Merry Christmas and I love you. Grandpa.

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An Interview with Yvonne Morgan by Karen Ruhl

Yvonne Morgan pictured on the left

After reading last month’s article about her missionwritten by Yvonne, I felt called to interview her in person. We set up a Zoom call and I must admit, I think I listened more than I took notes. I was fascinated by what Yvonne and her husband have been doing for children all over the world.

What did you see on your first mission trip that moved you to continue on?

The children I saw on the trip were filthy and wore rags. Their stomachs distended from constant hunger. They dug through trash piles for scraps of food to stave off the emptiness in their bellies. But How did you get involved in this type of mission slowly, they showed me a purpose in the trip as we work? handed out rations to these poor little ones each day. God revealed to me how I could help poor and I attended a meeting at our church. I heard a preneglected children in His world. He told me how I sentation about a mission trip to Haiti. As I listened, could be His hands and feet. I experienced a strange sensation. I felt God whisper to my heart, “go to Haiti.” The thought unsettled me What are your greatest accomplishments to date? as I wrestled with the idea of a mission trip. I knew God led me to start a charity organization, and I hated camping because of the bugs and lack of creature comforts. So, how could I go on a mission through it, God enabled me to create several ortrip? The thought of missions never occurred to me. phanages. These homes cared for about 60 precious orphans who call me Mom. They were more than I felt ill-equipped for any kind of Christian work. orphans to me. They became my children. During What was God thinking in asking me to do such a that time, we also adopted two teenagers from thing? Kenya. However, I landed in Haiti in July 1997 for a weeklong mission trip working with impoverished chilWhat were some of the hardest things to see? dren. The impact of this trip on my life was enorOne boy we found had never been potty trained mous. and was forced to live in soiled clothes. I wanted to make a difference in his life by providing a home for him.

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It was so good to talk to Yvonne and I hope to visit via Zoom again. Her and her husband have touched an amazing amount of children over the years and they hope to continue their efforts. Would you prayfully consider a donation to their efforts? I have included links so you can find our more about Orphan Relief Effort. More photos on the next page.

In Myanmar – the first photo is the original home with children. Second is current

Help Yvonne and her husband provide homes and a childhood to children at risk from human trafficking in Myanmar and Nepal. They provide hope through Christ and a chance at childhood for these orphans. Click on the links below to learn more and to donate to this great charity.

How old are the children when they come to you? Most of the children we receive are very young.

How long do they stay with you? They usually stay until they finish school.

Do you stay at the orphanages when you are visiting? We were able to stay at some of the orphanages but some countries do not permit that so we stay in a hotel near by. HkDYAhXr0qPyzg oreinc?locale.x=en_US&fbclid=IwAR3FG3hGB18Jq607Iweb8dDRsG_cvN28yDHCSw9RzC6y4wZyH20nB6m9M98

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Nepal kids current (above) and when they first started (below)

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Myanmar - Zo Sian Lun from early days until now (2nd photo is current)

Micah on the top left of this page and Matthew on the bottom left are from Nepal. The photo on the right shows them when they arrived. The individual photos are them now.

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The Rejected Gift By Maureen Kambarami

I grew up in a very poor family. I seldom had new clothes, not even on Christmas day like the other children. Most of my clothes were hand-medowns from my rich cousins. At home, we neither had a television nor a radio and when we wanted to watch TV, we had to go to the neighbor’s house. We had to wash our legs and feet with soapy water first before being grudgingly allowed to sit on the carpet. I don’t blame her at all; we were an obvious nuisance, invading her house daily like that. Because of the economic situation at home, I had to learn to crochet when I was 9 years old so I could help my mother raise enough money to buy food for the house; crocheting by candlelight until the dead of night while my peers slumbered. By now you must be thinking, where was my father in all this? He was very much around and partly the cause of our poverty because of his love for the bottle, which made him stumble into the house during the wee hours of the morning daily. This nocturnal partnership that he had with the bottle also made him very abusive. Despite this toxicity in my family, my mother stayed in this lethal marriage for a good 14 years until one day she called me and my brother and sat us down. While I was still asking myself, what was the purpose of this meeting, she started crying and I knew that she was the bearer of dreadful news. However, nothing could have prepared me for what she uttered next.

Yes, I had expected that day to come, but I had also done my part begging, pleading, bargaining, negotiating with God in my little mind, and with my limited understanding. Tears started flowing down my cheeks like a waterfall. I was only jerked to reality as my mother shouted my name when she realized I had slipped into another world. She continued with the specific instructions of what I had to do the following day; instructions which I tried unsuccessfully to block from my ears. However, the more I blocked my mother’s words, the more they rang non-stop, repetitively. That night, sleep evaded me completely. I tossed and turned, changed sleeping positions many times, but the fear of the unknown petrified me and would not allow my mind to rest. The following night, the same insomniac pattern repeated itself. It is only when we were finally on the overcrowded rickety bus, that rattled and shook so much that we all had to hold on to the railings for dear life, that sleep came to me like a thief and I resignedly fell into a deep slumber. A new chapter of my life was about to begin; my mother had finally decided to end the sham of a marriage. It was frightening for me as a child to leave my comfort zone, my friends, and all I was used to, and embrace life in a remote rural area where my maternal grandmother lived.

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Upon arrival at my grandmother’s house, she welcomed us warmly, only for her demeanor to change once she heard the reason for our visit. Unfortunately, I continually had to endure her animosity and hostility as I was a constant reminder of how my father had wronged her daughter. Most of the time I felt as if I was sandwiched between a frying pan and a blazing fire. Adjusting to rural life was one thing and trying to survive without money was another. We found ourselves at the mercy of family or friends, and we had to do all kinds of odd and menial jobs for survival. Towards Christmas, when all my cousins and friends were busy chatting excitedly about their Christmas presents, I remained silent, for I knew that there was no way I was going to get a present unless a miracle happened. All I wanted for Christmas was a pair of shoes and an unending supply of food for my family. I was lucky because, on Christmas eve, one of my mother’s sisters came from the city for a visit. I prayed so hard that she would give me the present that I wished for. We all gathered around the fire as she opened the presents, she had brought one by one. I kept my fingers crossed, waiting for my turn in anticipation, fidgeting uncontrollably. Then my turn came, and she handed me a packet of sweets… A packet of what? Was this a joke? For a moment, I thought she was teasing me to evoke a reaction, but when she moved on to the next person, it then sunk in that it was not a joke. Suddenly, there was a clatter as if something had fallen and everyone looked down. I also did the same, and when my aunt saw that I had thrown her gift down, she lost it. She told me a whole litany of the depth and breadth of my ungratefulness and at that moment, something in me broke. “Ungrateful? For what? Buying me a present I do not need? Did it ever dawn to you to ask me what I really want for Christmas? Just because I am poor, I must accept what you give me regardless of what I need? We do not even have food in our house, and now I must be grateful for a packet of sweets?” I then stormed out and left everyone thunderstruck by my outburst.

I reminisced about this childhood incident recently as I was preparing my Christmas gift list. 2020 has been an exceedingly difficult year; many people have lost their jobs, cars, houses, or businesses, and the struggle to survive is very real. Some people just want money to pay their most pressing debts as a Christmas present. Others just want food to feed their families. Some families would be so happy to receive help with their gas bill, telephone bill, school fees bill, or clothing account bill. Before buying someone a present they do not want or will not use, it is better to ask them what they really need for Christmas. Yes, there is more joy in giving than in receiving, but there is greater joy in giving a present that will truly bring joy to someone’s Christmas and make a difference in their situation.

Maureen Cresencia Kambarami is a Social Worker with extensive experience in family counseling and therapy. A woman after God’s word and principles, she is passionate about writing Christian articles and believes in telling authentic stories to inspire and uplift others.

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Greatest Gift

By Aradhana Thakor Now, as I have a deeper relationship with Christ, I love Christmas for something that far surpasses my understanding. My heavenly Father’s love for me was so deep that He did not spare his own Son but gave him up for me, a sinner. This is the greatest gift I have ever received. In fact, the birth of Jesus is the greatest gift to humanity.

As a kid living in India, my favorite festival was Christmas, even though it was not widely celebrated like Diwali. I loved it because my parents would always keep a gift for me right next to my pillow in the wee hours when I would be fast asleep. Oh! the joy to wake up to a beautifully wrapped gift was the most amazing feeling ever. The most beautiful part of this gesture was that though we were not quite financially well off, I always received a gift year after year without fail next to my pillow of something I had been longing for or in great need of. And the look in my parent’s eyes when I opened them was one of sheer love and compassion which I will always cherish. Well, so that is why I would love Christmas… just for my gifts!

I cannot imagine my life without Christ in it. I cannot imagine waking up each day not having a Savior who will keep me safe under His features as I take refuge in Him for the day ahead. I cannot fathom even a day not knowing or being able to grasp tightly onto His comforting promises to me in times of trouble. There would not be any soothing balm of His promises to apply to my aching heart. I would miss out on those sweet whispers or nudge of the Holy Spirit. How would I ever experience His joy to the overflowing or His peace that passeth understanding when I cast all my burdens on Him? I would not be able to rest my weary self into His encircling arms. How can I possibly survive without His direction and guidance in my life? I would be constantly shrouded in guilt without His forgiving love. I would never be able to bask in the comforting hope of reuniting with my loved ones. Would my life even seem worth living if there was no eternal life to look forward to? I would just be a lost sheep without a shepherd for whom no one is searching. Oh! How it breaks my heart to even think about these things. It would be just awful and disastrous if Christ were not born. But praise be to God our Father, who loved us so immensely that he sent us a Messiah to bring salvation and redemption to the world. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for sending Jesus into this world and my life. Behold! A King is born unto us today! Merry Christmas to everyone.

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Announcing our Creative Artists Catalog!

Aradhana Thakor is from India and lives with her husband in Calgary, Canada. “Burning Passion for Lost Souls� is her debut non-fiction book. Below is the Amazon link. She is writing her second book, which is a short read of beautiful devotional poems inspired by the Holy Spirit, which she hopes to publish soon. You can connect with her on her Facebook author page @Aradhana2020 or email her at

2020 has been a hard year for many, art and craft fairs have been cancelled, we have been isolated from our family and friends, and it has been increasingly hard to sell our products. As an artist myself, I encourage you all to take a few minutes to flip through our new catalog and look for great gifts for your family, friends, and YOU. Support Small Businesses. Support The Arts! Click here to open the catalog.

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Christmastime Is Almost Here! By Mike Buchanan

What a time for reflection! Do we wait for His second coming the way the people did His first? Are we studying scripture for the encouragement that as surely as He was born, He will return? Lots of people were searching before the first advent, but they missed it. Will we be ready when He calls us home? Or will we miss it? Are we like Mary and Joseph who, although astonished by the angelic proclamations, were willing to accept their roles in the first nativity story? Are we like Herod (surely not?) who was afraid for his future because of the coming King? Are we like the magi who studied as much as possible and made haste to find and worship the baby, Jesus? Or are we like the shepherds who, while thought of as lowly and unworthy, heeded the heavenly host’s encouragement to welcome the newborn Savior?

I trust we accept our roles in preparing the way of the Lord. I believe none of us who have accepted Him as Savior has anything to fear from Jesus coming back. I hope we’re studying the Bible, so we make worship an integral part of our lives while we wait for His return. I pray we go, like the angels, to those the world would deem unworthy, and invite them to become part of the Bride of Christ. Wherever you are this Christmas season, I hope you know the great joy of having Jesus as your personal Savior and friend. He was born to die, to ransom you and me. Truly, as surely as He came once as it had been foretold, He will return again. I believe that day is rapidly approaching. I pray we’re all as eager as the angels to welcome Him when He returns!

Mike Buchanan is a Christian writer and the author of the book Mountains of Hope Surrounding the Valley of Cancer. He uses his writing talents to further Jesus’ Gospel.

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Let Your Light Shine By Gina Sewell

Gina Sewell is a mom and grandma who lives in the Dallas, Texas area, where she enjoys cooking and spending time with her family. She loves to write about Jesus and encourage others. Gina shares her journey on her website:

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV) When we invite Jesus into our hearts and receive the Holy Spirit, a transformation begins. If we allow the Spirit to pour into us, then we can begin to pour into others. There was a time I remember when I was filled with so much anger. I had pulled away from God because of something tragic that had happened to my mother. I blamed God for the accident and wanted nothing to do with Him. It wasn’t long before my life became full of darkness. The light was out, and I could not feel Jesus anymore and because I was so angry; I was okay with that. That began a downward spiral in my life that led me to places I never imagined I would go.

But that light was still there. Darkness had overtaken it for a moment, but a gentle whisper from the Lord ignited it once again. As I began to cover myself and others in prayer and immerse myself in the Word, my light shone brighter and brighter. Letting our light shine for others is what we are called to do. Some people may never see Jesus except through us, so we must allow Him to flow through us. Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to remember to let our light shine for others. Help us not to give in to anger or pride or anything else that allows the darkness to slip into our lives. We want to be filled with light and love and forgiveness for others, just as you are for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I was raised a Christian by an extraordinary Christian woman and look where I landed... In a world of drugs and abuse and loss and misery.

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The Reason For The Season By Brenda McDaniel Brenda McDaniel is the author of My Angel My Hero with two more books soon to be published. She is from Roanoke, VA. She have a B.S in Psychology and M.A. in Counseling. She has enjoyed writing poetry and short stories, even as a small child. Brenda says she is now living her dream come true!

Hope, Faith, and Love. December is a time of looking back and reflecting on this year. This year has been extremely hard. The pandemic, demonstrations in the streets, loss of jobs, hunger, bickering among our elected officials instead of their working for the good of our nation. People dying by the millions/thousands across our world and nation. But, when we reflect on all this, we need to also look at our blessings and angels here on earth. And those who are better off financially and haven’t lost loved ones need to reach out to the less fortunate, hurting, or lost. They are God’s angel’s on earth giving of themselves, reaching out to others in every possible way. They feed the hungry, take care of the sick, and keep our nation going. They are first responders, truckers, grocery clerks, charities, and groups of all kinds. There is hope and faith in our nation. We should be proud of our people who stood in long lines, voting early, and mailing in ballots. More people voted this year than in any other election. It shows we have faith in our democracy and hope for our future. And we honor our ancestors who fought and died to give us the right to vote

Now it’s almost Christmas time again. We need to remember the giver of hope, faith, and love. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the hope and light of the world. The birth of Christ changed this sad, lost world. His birth gave us hope for the future, faith in our loving Lord, and forgiveness of our sins. We are no longer doomed to hell; we are forgiven, given a chance to go to heaven and be with our Savior always and forever. All we need to do is believe in Him and ask forgiveness of our sins. We are called to believe in Him who made us and died on the cruel cross for our sins. Live a life worth living, no longer lonely, lost, and without direction. Live our lives with a new purpose and live a life worth living. As our Lord and Savior walks with us daily, He guides our footsteps. Even if we fall, He helps us back on our feet. He renews our strength.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 NIV)

This year we have seen our genuine love for our fellow man. Our angels working to save lives and dying in this sacred quest. Our teachers, doctors, nurses, EMT’s, grocery clerks, etc. All loving our people and nation enough to risk their lives keeping us safe, well, and our nation going. 56









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Book Review - Not Without the Head By Fredrick K. Ezeji-Okoye

page 39

The Reason For The Season By Brenda McDaniel

page 56

Let Your Light Shine By Gina Sewell

page 55

Christmastime Is Almost Here! By Mike Buchanan

page 54

Greatest Gift By Aradhana Thakor

pages 52-53

The Rejected Gift by Maureen Kambarami

pages 50-51

An Interview with Yvonne Morgan by Karen Ruhl

pages 46-49

The Christmas Snowglobe By Brandy Davis

pages 44-45

Perpetual Christmas by P. Diane Buie

page 43

When I Think of Christmas By Krystle Nicole Martin

page 42

Is Jesus In The Featival? by Joseph Akinrinola

pages 32-33

Dear Carl by Anna Friend

pages 28-29


pages 26-27

Just Three Things by Scott Dunn

pages 24-25

God Can Use Us, Flaws and All by Tynea Lewis

page 23

A Prayer for December by Tynea Lewis

page 22

Family and Christmas by Karen Ruhl

page 21

The Unexpected Christmas Gift by Pam McCormick

pages 20-21

Change by Karen Ruhl

page 19

God's Greatest Gift by Christine Cotroneo

page 18

The Light of Life by Nicole Byrum

pages 16-17

Conquerors Carry Scars by Gittel Fruma

pages 14-15

Pain and Power By Dr. Kathleen Oden

pages 12-13

The Greatest Gift by Andrea Marino

pages 10-11

Looking at Lights and More

page 9

Christmas At Sea By Melissa Henderson

page 8

As Long as I Have Breath By Hannarich Asiedu

pages 6-7

That First Christmas by Karen Ruhl

page 4


page 3

Faith On Every Corner - December 2020

pages 1-2

All Over the World By Pamela Walck

pages 36-37

Our Mission, Our Blessings

pages 30-31
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