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Exemplify Magazine Christmas 2009,

Special Feature Issue

Merry Christmas from Exemplify!


Special Features Pour yourself a glass of eggnog, grab some cookies and kick back with our Christmas Special Feature Issue. • Meet our featured contributors on page 32. • Read how A Baby Changes Everything on page 35. • Enjoy A Christmas Tea to Remember on page 36 • Find yourself immersed in Everlasting Peace on page 38 • Embrace this Season of Love on page 39 • Holidays stress you out? Page 40 is for you. • Celebrate the Night Before Christmas with a twist on page 41. • Bring Holy Back to the Holiday on page 42 • Get cozy with One Imperfect Christmas on page 44 • Savior Money at Christmas on page 45 • Decorate your Hearth and Mantle on page 46 • Win A Forever Christmas on page 49!


E LA IN E OL S E N Elaine is the wife of Preacher Billy and has the delightful privilege of mothering four dynamic children who have been with her for nearly half of her almost forty-three years. She grew up amongst the rolling hills of the Bluegrass which boasts the presence of exquisite thoroughbreds and die-hard Wildcat basketball fans. Her growing up years were spent running the hallways of Asbury Theological Seminary where her father was a professor of preaching and her mother was the Registrar. From the cradle to her current, Elaine has been a church girl. The spiritual shaping she received from her parents quickly secured for her a belief in a great big God who loves her far beyond reasonable bounds. Elaine was born on Easter Sunday. The significance of its shadow has followed her all the days of her life. God began the sacred conversation with Elaine‚Äôs soul from the earliest of ages, and she has spent the past four decades walking the path of such a gracious grace. He has marked her forever for kingdom living and kingdom loving. Her overriding hope and desire for her life is to live as authentic before her God and his created people. Elaine’s first book peace for the journey: in the pleasure of his company will soon be released by WinePress. Be sure to visit Elaine at her blog, Peace for the Journey: peaceforthejourney.com.

SUSA N DO L LY H I G H Susan Shelton Dollyhigh is a free-lance writer and columnist who recently won the Women of Faith National Shine the Light Contest. She is a contributing author in Spirit and Heart: A Devotional Journey. Susan also writes for Christian Devotions, Internet Café’ Devotions, and The Christian Pulse. She and her husband have two children and two grandchildren and reside in Mount Airy, North Carolina. Susan has a passion for the homeless and leads a weekly Bible study at The Shepherd’s House (a homeless shelter for women and children) and Mary Sue’s Safe Haven (a domestic violence shelter).

S HA N N ON JAC OB YA N S K Y Shannon has been a devoted writer for the past four years. She has had four of her inspirational and sometimes funny stories published in books with her latest appearing this holiday season in the book, “Christmas Traditions”. You can be inspired daily and at her blog sites www.hewonmyheart.blogspot.com and www.sendingyouthoughtsandprayers.blogspot.com . She also guest writes at the Internet Café (www.internetcafedevotions.com) and At the Well… In Pursuit of Titus 2 (www.titus2atthewell.com) Please leave a message or ask questions via email at shannonjacobyansky@yahoo.com .


e L isa Pu llia m eLisa is passionate about her vocation as wife to Stephen, mom to four precious children under the age of 10 (including twins), and their spiritual daughter (now 18). She considers it a privilege to share about God’s extravagant grace, not only with her family but also through speaking, teaching the Word, serving in ministry, and as a friend to women and teenage girls of all ages! eLisa received a degree in English Writing Arts and Art, specializing in graphic design and public relations, which she draws on as she create materials for women’s ministries, design blogs, write devotionals and Bibles studies, and shares her thoughts at ExtravagantGrace.net. She is currently serving as a co-Chair on her church’s women’s ministry team and spends much time mentoring teenage girls, who often find their way to her couch and a freshly brewed cup of tea.

H O LLY SM IT H My name is Holly Smith from Monument, CO. I am the wife of Chris and mother of Noah, Kylie, Tabor and Sydney. My Chris and I have been married for 18 years on August 10th this year. We have truly grown up together. We love to be together and are the best of friends! Although it is rare that we have alone time, we search for it like treasure. We are each others' prayer warriors and biggest cheerleaders. I am a stay at home mom, who very much loves her job as a mom. On the side, I design web pages and marketing pieces. It is a great way to pour out creativity! God has gifted me with a love of all things creative--from painting and wall-papering to scrapbooking and design-work. Also I write a couple of blogs, which you can read online if you want. One is a cooking blog called What Would Martha Cook? (http://whatwouldmarthacook.blogspot.com/) It's about Martha in the Bible not the other Martha. The other is a devotional writing blog called Crown Laid Down (www.crownlaiddown.com) I began blogging in February 2007. Also, through blogging, I have compiled a cookbook for Beth Moore and for all the blogging Siestas on her blog. All the proceeds have gone to build clean water wells through Life Outreach International. So far, we have raised over $2,500! I love when God does that! In every season of our lives, God is faithful.

A NG E LA N A Z WO RT H Angela Nazworth is the wife of a college professor and the mother of a delightfully precocious five-year-old drama princess, and a two-year-old son with aspirations of mountain climbing. Before exchanging her business suits for yoga pants and and peanut butter stained shirts, she worked full time in the public relations industry managing programs, editing publications, and writing copy and articles for magazines, newsletters, Web sites, brochures, educational resources, and other publications. Currently, Angela accepts freelance writing, copy editing, and PR jobs and write regularly at (in)Courage, Five Minutes for Faith, and at her own blog, Becoming Me.net.


S A B RI N A PAT E Sabrina spends her days working as an Office Associate on a college campus. She enjoys ministering to young girls, leading bible studies, reading and watching girly movies. You can read her random thoughts over at her blog: www.patelife.blogspot.com. Sabrina lives in Kentucky with her husband Justin, fat cat Zoey, and large dog Joey.

M AR S H A H A RWOO D Marsha lives deep in the woods of western North Carolina with the love of her life Mike, their dog Lucky, and an occasional bear that comes by for a visit. Married for 35 years, they are blessed with 3 children and 6 grandchildren. She and her husband started Snowbird TEAM Ministries 12 years ago to reach the people of Appalachia for Christ. Her ministry is with at risk teen girls, pregnant teens and counseling women and children who have been abused. She knows and understands the shame and fear that fills the hearts of abused women and children. Usually found with a camera nearby and a song on her lips, Marsha enjoys being out in God's creation. It is her goal in life to live simply, laugh often and to love deeply.

V IC TOR IA J E N K IN S Victoria began writing from Scripture out of the sheer inability to keep a good thing to herself--the exception being brownies, those she refuses to share. Soon after delving into her first Bible study, it became clear that God was building a ministry through this new-found love for His Word. Whether she is homeschooling, housewifing, or hiding from the laundry heap, God continues to grow Victoria through the ministry He set in motion...and she continues to hog all the brownies.

A L I S A WAG N E R Alisa is a full-time mother who is able to write while raising and homeschooling her three vivacious children. She has a God-given passion to write, and she loves to write about what the Holy Spirit is currently teaching her. Alisa has published devotionals, articles and poetry; and she is continuously trying to reach people for Christ with her writing. She has also written her first novel and is currently seeking publication. Alisa is the chief editor of the Granola Bar Devotional Writing Ministry and is always looking for new ways to help people share their faith story. She is also a contributing writer for the Internet Cafe and Take Root and Write. Alisa married her high school sweetheart and has been married for over ten years. They are hometeam leaders at their church and dedicate themselves to creating community within their church. Her husband is the greatest supporter of her writing ministry. You can find her at faithimagined.com.


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One month shy of six years ago, my life was forever altered by a bitsy baby girl. Exhausted, yet exhilarated, I clutched her tender body...pink and squirmy...and kissed the top of her forehead. "You were so worth it," I panted. That sweet baby girl changed everything. More than 20 centuries ago, another baby changed everything...for His earthly parents, several shepherds and scholars, and some others the change was immediate. However, most of the world would not know the significance of the divine descendant of David until about 30 years after He was placed in a bed of hay. He was the only baby who changed everything for everybody...and who still can change everything for all who believe. Written by Angela Nazworth / Graphic by Christy McGraw

For it was not the first robust cries of this precious baby born in Bethlehem that brought light to a dark world. Instead, it was His last cry...the enervated, convulsive wail of a dying man hanging from a blood-drenched cross on Calvary... that changed everything...and in the most beautiful way imaginable. I wonder if, as He drew His final breath, Jesus murmured, "You were worth it." Because, had He not felt that, we would still be in the dark. Instead, Jesus was born, sacrificed, and resurrected so that we too can one day live with Him in paradise. May this gift forever be your hope...your peace...your joy...and your love.

Hallelujah! 6!

Š Exemplify Magazine


A Christmas Tea to Remember Written By Marsha Harwood

I've been entrusted with a special gift. I'm a Keeper of Christmas. It’s my calling. Part of the responsibility of being a Keeper of Christmas is to create memories that point people to the One we celebrate at Christmas. In Keeping Christmas two years ago, I decided to have a Christmas Tea at our cozy little cabin in the woods with the ladies from church. I planned, prayed and envisioned this moment for months. I was like a child in a candy shop. I wanted this to be a wonderful occasion full of memories that would not only knit our hearts together, but that would also point us to the Savior. The thought occurred to me, make it a Currier and Ives type moment. You know, Keep Christmas by reflecting memories from a simpler time. Have the women come the mile and a half up the mountain in a sleigh that's being drawn by 2 galloping horses over the river (creek) and through the woods to Marsha's house we'll go type thing. Thus began the search

for horses and sleigh.

I think romantically about most aspects of life. I see the silver lining in every cloud that looms. My husband calls me Pollyanna. Well, this Pollyanna was going to Keep Christmas by using horses and sleigh and I managed to pull my husband into the silver lined cloud with me. He has lots of contacts, so his part of being the husband of a Keeper of Christmas was to find me horses and sleigh. You know your husband truly loves you when he joins you in a quest such as this. In no time at all he delivered! He came home so excited. But it wouldn't be a sleigh because there has to be snow and if there's that much snow people around here are not coming out for a tea. He found a wagon instead. I called it a carriage to the ladies, sounds more "tea-ish" don't you think? Mike’s co-worker’s brother and father enter parades occasionally with their team and wagon. I knew the style of wagon. I'd seen them in parades during the summer. They have a roof and open sides so you can see out. PERFECT for this memory making ride. I couldn't wait. The excitement was building with the ladies. “Ah, this Keeper of Christmas has outdone herself!” I thought to myself. Two weeks before the tea, Mike informs me that the "team" is NOT actually a team of horses, but rather a team of mules. The fantasy came down a notch. Well, at least they do this all the time, pulling a wagon full of people. And then he adds, oh, and by the way, mules don't gallop, they just plod along doing their job, that means it will take too long to get them to go 1 -1/2 miles up the mountain. So, we arranged for the ride to begin half way up the mountain by the mailboxes; down another notch the fantasy slid. Gulp, well, okay, at least they have four legs, a tail and sleigh bells that will jingle through the woods. It was still going to be so Currier and Ives-ish! The time was fast approaching for the Christmas Tea. I sent out an e-vite to the ladies coming and reminded them to dress warmly and to wear comfortable shoes because we would be taking a short little walk to my elderly neighbor’s cabin to sing Christmas carols. I assured them I wasn't going to make mountain goats out of them, the terrain here in the hollow is relatively even. Going Christmas Caroling is a good thing to do when you are a Keeper of Christmas you know. The Saturday morning of the tea finally arrived. I could hardly sleep the night before. I was SO excited! "Lord,” I prayed, “thank you for giving me the Gift of being a Keeper of Christmas. Lord, may all of our hearts be knit together in love through this tea. May they see You through your creation as they meander through the woods on their carriage ride. May they come feeling refreshed and relaxed as they reach our little cabin in the woods."


Mike went to help his friend load the ladies into the carriage. His job was to take LOTS of pictures for me since I needed to stay at the house. The ladies were coming in 2 trips because of the lack of space on the carriage. Mike got to the end of the road and finds the mules hitched to the...okay, so now it truly is NOT a carriage, it's NOT even an open wagon...it's a "Little House on the Prairie-ish" wagon! Well, at least the ladies are smiling and they can see either where they've been or where they're going. It will be fine. Have you ever heard the expression "stubborn as a mule?” There's a reason for that expression. These mules went MAYBE 100 yards and quit, just flat out quit! They REFUSED to go anywhere, no matter WHAT this well trained mule and wagon owner did to these mules! He was SO embarrassed. He told the ladies they just "stubbed out!” When a mule decides it's not going, it's NOT going. There was nothing else they could do. They had to disembark from the wagon and walk the rest of the way (3/4 a mile UP the mountain). Yes, there you see them in the picture heading UP the mountain while the mules head DOWN the mountain to get group #2! Bless these ladies hearts, upon arriving, they looked up in disbelief and saw they have to climb 19 stairs to the front door! Most had never been to our cozy little cabin in the woods before. I was embarrassed standing on the porch laughing and crying at the same time. I had promised these ladies when I told them to wear comfy shoes that I wasn't turning them into mountain goats! Back to the second group of women yet to arrive. The mules and wagon were facing toward climbing up the mountain. They got loaded up and the mules just stood there. At that point the older gentleman (the father) came and said the mules were teamed up incorrectly. So they moved them around. There, now they'll move. NOT!!! They just stood there! Totally "STUBBED OUT!” At this point the driver had enough of this nonsense. He said he knew how he'd get those ‘dadburn’ mules to move. He got out and tied them to his 4x4 diesel truck (that's 4 wheel drive) and pulled the 4x4 mules (one mule with 4 legs and another mule with 4 legs = 4x4) that pulled the wagon with 4 wheels that carried my precious friends and the only hope for me (and the poor mule driver) to retain any sense of dignity and honor; both necessary traits for one who is gifted as a Keeper of Christmas. His idea worked. Honor and dignity preserved. The truck was able to pull the mules that pulled the wagon, that held my friends, that held my future as a Keeper of Christmas intact. Up and up the mountain they slowly went. They finally arrived at "The Hollow of His Hand" (the name we call our little cabin in the woods) with just a faint smell of diesel fuel and mule manure in their hair. And did I mention they were very pale looking? Despite the stubborn mules who tried to thwart the plans of the Keeper of Christmas, God was faithful and answered my prayer request. Some of these women were new to our church. God did indeed knit hearts together as they encouraged the out of shape ones up the mountain. They watched after the one with a heart condition, and they laughed together along the way. The ladies in the wagon knit their hearts together as they sat huddled close, white knuckles showing, silently praying for their safety as the mules walked right on the edge of the road that drops off. They all saw the Savior that day in a very unique way. They saw a place of beauty at a slower pace than they would normally take and were able to appreciate His creation. A Christmas memory was made that will long be told to others that may come and worship with us in the future. At the end of the afternoon, when we went caroling at my elderly neighbor’s home, the presence of the Lord could be felt. A capella voices in three parts singing "O Come let us adore Him, O Come let us adore Him, O Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord" were lifted to the highest point of her cathedral ceiling. The joy, the peace, the hearts knit together as one, the presence of Christ Himself were evidenced by my neighbor. Christmas was placed within all our hearts to keep that day. My husband asked me what I was going to do the next year to Keep Christmas. I thought a moment and said, "I think I'll have a drop in.” "Oh, that sounds great!" he exclaimed. At some point I need to let him know what I meant by that. He’ll need to cut some trees. I'm thinking - parachutes!


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“For he himself is our peace.”

Everlasting Peace Ephesians 2:14

Written by F. Elaine Olsen Peace. Everyone wants it, yet so few of us possess any lasting measure of it. Why? Because we are a people who have inaccurately assessed the means for acquiring it. We level our quest for peace within the boundaries of the temporal without acknowledging that true and lasting peace can only be found with our “pressing in” toward the eternal. Peace isn’t a product for sale. Peace isn’t a feelgood philosophy. Peace isn’t a place of escape. Peace isn’t the absence of conflict. Peace is a person, the very person of Jesus Christ. Accordingly, we cannot purchase peace’s portion, even though our market-driven society begs to differ. We can spend a lifetime and a fortune on coddling preferences that paint a momentary calm, but for peace to truly govern a life’s journey, peace requires an investment beyond the bank account. Lasting peace requires a relationship. For any pilgrimage to walk in peace, it must walk with peace. Scripture identifies peace, not only by its characteristics, but more profoundly by giving peace a name--Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:14). Holding him in our hearts moves peace within reach. The more we know Jesus, the more we know peace. Knowing Jesus is the sole requirement for our lives to walk in peace—the sole requirement of our hearts if we truly want to walk this Christmas season with any measure of it as we go. Thus, we must seek him. Anticipate him. Notice him. Cradle him. Celebrate him. Release him. Know him. Not just remember him. We’ve perfected our remembering. We spend a lot of time during Christmas planning our remembrances of Jesus. We cram our schedule with well-intentioned “stuff” designed to foster our contemplation of him and his Bethlehem arrival. Christmas carols, pageants and programs, movies, family gatherings, cards, parties, live nativities, Advent readings and candles—all manner of avenues utilized to foster our remembrance of Jesus. All good things in their ideology, but, sometimes, © Exemplify Magazine!

the very things that take away from the one thing that is required of us if God’s peace is to walk its portion in our hearts. Knowing Jesus. How much quicker would peace arrive in our lives if we spent more time walking with Jesus this Christmas rather than planning our remembrances of him? Programs and activities aren’t the prescription for our finding peace. Pursuing the Author of peace is the remedy. What might that look like for you in this season? What could you surrender in these next few days in order to more fully know your Jesus? I’m not suggesting that you eliminate your planned remembrances of the Christ Child; many of them will be the avenues that God uses to bring you into a fuller understanding of his Son. What I am suggesting, though, is that we might need to rearrange our thinking in regards to our finding God’s peace if we want to arrive at December 25th with our sanity and our hearts in tact. I love Christmas. I love the preparations and the anticipation of the season. I’m as busy as you are, and for the most part, I relish the busyness. But there is one thing I cannot abide—one thing that fosters my desire to throw all preparations and planning to the curb. I can speak about it with some authority because I have lived it time and again. That one thing? Getting to Christmas morning and greatly anticipating its finish—craving its end because the weeks leading up to the “event” have taken their toll on my nerves and have robbed me of my moments at the manger with my Jesus—my Peace. This is the tragedy of a season’s good intentions. To come to the end of it all and to be glad for its conclusion. This isn’t the way that God intends for us to celebrate the gift of his Son. God intends for better. For our Christmas desires to lead us to the manger so that divine fellowship can be tasted between his tabernacled presence and our great need to know that he is alive and actively living amongst his people.

Manger remembrances that lead us to focus on what once “was” rather than on what continually “is” serves little purpose as it pertains to our lasting peace. To package the baby Jesus within an isolated time-frame is to diminish a Christmas’ worth. Christmas wasn’t just then. Christmas is now. Is tomorrow. Is next month. Is next year. Christmas doesn’t walk with a time-table burdened by human constraints; neither does Jesus. Neither does his peace. Wherever Jesus goes, peace goes with him. Accordingly, if it’s peace we’re after, wouldn’t it be better to chase him directly rather than chasing after all manner of detours to get to him? The shortest route between two points is a straight line. The shortest route between our desire for peace and God’s offer therein, is a straight-forward run to his heart. His manger. His cross. His tomb. His Easter. The other “stuff” we scatter into our pursuit is just filler and often become the distractions that keep us from experiencing the lasting peace of Jesus. Lasting peace requires a relationship. That relationship began at Bethlehem’s manger some 2000 years ago when an infant boy interrupted the silent night with his cries of invitation to the world to come and enter into a relationship with him. To take notice of him, to seek him, anticipate him, find him, cradle him, celebrate him, release him. To know him. He cries still … for you and for me. Don’t just remember your Jesus this Christmas. Know your Jesus more fully through your own moments of silent and intentional pause before his throne. Light a candle in his honor and find God’s peace for the journey. It’s as simple as that. It’s as real as that. It’s God’s Christmas gift to each one of us as we are faithful to come and unwrap the majesty of Bethlehem’s everlasting peace. I’ll meet you at the manger.

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A Season of Love Written by Susan Dollyhigh

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

“Baby Jesus.” She knew what we’d been talking about.

After this, we played “Advent Trivia” with questions being asked about all the things we’d learned about hope, “Very good!” And I pulled a peace, and love. One of the young boys second prize from the bag and placed it living there recounted the entire story in her small outstretched hands. almost word for word of why the color purple is considered the color of royalty. Unknowingly, these two little He told us that when Christ lived on ones had just shared the Christmas earth the purple dye was the most message - Baby Jesus and hope. I could expensive to produce because it was have left at this point, for enough had squeezed from snails and it took over already been said, but I wanted to share 10,000 mollusks to make enough dye for the message of love with them. just one robe. He and his two little 1 John 3:1-3 brothers loved that story. As the three of Someone turned off the them laughed, I was reminded of the overhead light and with the flames of hope, peace and love flickering; the nine things little boys’ love: snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, and I once again On the third week of Advent, I of us talked about the everlasting love experienced a feeling of love spread arrived at the homeless shelter planning God has for us. We talked about how throughout my heart. to light the third purple candle that God’s plan for salvation for us was symbolizes love. Planning to talk about motivated by His great love for us. We As I prepared to leave that God’s love for all His children, even His talked about how He desires to have an evening, one of the residents said, “Hold children who feel they don’t deserve to intimate relationship and spend eternity on a minute!” She ran from the room and be loved. Planning to assure the residents with us. We talked about how that’s why returned with a small package wrapped that they are lovable - that they are loved Jesus was born in a manger and died on in Christmas paper. “This is for you by their Father’s children and by their a cross - to give us the greatest gift we’ll open it now.” Father. ever receive - the gift of salvation. We talked about how all we have to do to She placed the gift in my hand Climbing the stairs leading to receive this gift is to believe God’s truth and I tore the wrapping off and lifted the the kitchen, I heard little hands clapping and make the decision to turn from our lid of a small box to find a small green and little cherubic voices chanting, sins and receive God’s glass snail. “I saw this and thought of you “Yeah, Miss Susie’s here! Yeah, Miss forgiveness. and the snail story. I just had to get it for Susie’s here!” Arriving at the kitchen you.” door, the two little cherubs sat at the We talked about how God, table, eyes glistening and mouths unlike man, is not impressed with our I felt my eyes fill with tears and smiling. station in life - with where we live or for the third time that evening a feeling what we drive or the clothes that we of love spread throughout my heart. “Wow, what a welcome!” And wear. He’s not impressed with a feeling of love spread throughout my I came that evening hoping to heart as I greeted the little three and five- our degrees and accomplishments or share the message of love with those year-old girls. who we know. He’s impressed with our living in the shelter. To assure them that hearts and our desire to know and love they are lovable, that they are loved by Placing the Advent candles in Him. We talked about how God proved their Father’s children and by their Father. the center of the kitchen table, we lit the this when He chose the shepherds, the I can only hope that on that night of three purple candles. “I know what the poor peasants of the day, who were Advent my message of love came across first candle is for!” exclaimed the blonde considered unclean and outcasts in as clearly as the message of love I five-year-old girl. Her mouth rounded society over kings and people with received from them as the little girls so into an “O” shape as her eyes danced wealth and power to be the first to hear excitedly greeted me as I entered the and she smiled up at me. We planned to the good news of Jesus’ birth. kitchen, as the boys shared the snail play “Advent Trivia” and this little girl story showing that they had been paying was ready. She looked as if she had We talked about how no matter attention and finally as I received my waited the entire week just to say the what we think of ourselves or what most treasured Christmas gift of the word “hope.” others think about us, God sent His Son, season - the gift of a green glass snail. Jesus, for everyone of us. He sent Him We said goodbye and as I closed the “You are right!” Even though for the outcasts and the kings, for the door to leave, I thought, “How great is the game hadn’t officially begun, I homeless and the wealthy, for the ill and the love that the Father has lavished on reached into the bag of prizes and got the healthy, for the jobless and me…” out a small gift for her. employed, for the addicts and the sober, for the imprisoned and the free. The Little sister, not about to be Father lavished this great love on all of outdone, leaned in close and whispered, us, His children.


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The Holidays were Stressful for Jesus’ Mother Too! Written by Alisa Wagner I love thinking about Christmas in July. In July, Christmas is a magical holiday celebrating the birth of the world’s savior, Jesus Christ. Just the thought of Christmas forms a delightful image in my head of my family sweetly sitting by the fireplace, each holding a steaming cup of hot chocolate, enjoying the sound of carolers standing in the front lawn.

now separate me from the next Christmas holiday. I’m determined to lose the five pounds I gained from so much stress and baking, and I make a mental note to rethink my holiday strategy for next year.

Once November comes around, the magic of Christmas seems to fade with the warm weather, and I roll up my sleeves, write out my battle plan and prepare to seek and destroy everything on my holiday to-do list. I’m on a mission to enjoy Christmas, and I will not rest until all the holiday traditions have been accomplished.

But a friend released me from my guilt when she said, “The holidays were hard for Jesus’ mother too.”

off to get a glimpse of the new King. People are now hearing crazy stories about a baby in a manger and angels singing glory to God. Mary was just a girl. She just gave birth to the world’s savior. She was far from home in a cave with a man she barely knew, and gawking shepherds were trying to get a look at her. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that the first Christmas was a tad stressful for Jesus’ mother.

I’m also filled with guilt that I wasn’t able to enjoy Christmas like I should. And I wonder if Jesus is upset with me that I was so busy The reality of this image, though, would be my celebrating His birthday that I barely had five year old spilling hot chocolate all over the enough time for Him. I want to be a like Mary However, what was Mary’s reaction to all of Christmas tree skirt, my two year old shoving who basked in the Savior’s presence, but I this chaos? Christmas DVDs into the fireplace, and my always wind up being like Martha, busily four month old caroling to us all night with her working and forgetting the reason for my work “But Mary treasured up all these things and cries. (Luke.38-42). pondered them in her heart.”

I pull an all-nighter baking Christmas cookies for teachers and friends, begging my husband to frost the sugar cookies. I trudge to the mall with my kids, urging them to smile while sitting on Santa’s lap. I climb into the tiny dark attic, scouring for all my Christmas decorations. And I comb through all the cooking magazines, hoping for just the right recipes for my made-from-scratch Christmas dinner. Year after year, I find myself on the other side of December exhausted and thankful the holiday season is over. I heave a sigh of relief that I’m in a new year and that twelve months © Exemplify Magazine!

When Jesus was born, Caesar Augustus was taking a census, so everyone was traveling and the streets were packed with traffic. Mary was only pledged to be married to Joseph, yet she was nine months pregnant. I’m sure the looks she received from the strangers around her were not always nice. She was either walking or riding on an animal, so her entire body ached from being very pregnant and on the go. Mary is not prepared when she starts going into labor. Her life is on the verge of overwhelming change, but no one seems to care. She is forced to give birth to her baby in a cave, and she probably didn’t have the basic necessities for the delivery.

Instead of fighting the chaos, complaining about the chaos, running from the chaos; Mary “treasured” the chaos in her heart. To her the overwhelming events weren’t chaos at all – they were God’s design to bring a savior into the world. God many times brings us His beautiful will through an ugly mess. So the next holiday season, don’t feel guilty that your Christmas is somewhat chaotic. The world will always be a mess, but we as Christians have peace in our hearts. Our peace should not change with our environment; it should be our constant staple. Don’t begrudge the chaos because someday you might miss it. Our lives are beautifully messy, and we should constantly be pondering those crazy memories in our hearts.

Angels start popping up out of the middle of nowhere, jolting people out of there leather sandals. Shepherds neglect their sheep and run 11


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‘Twas the night before Still they knew by the star’s Christmas, when all through the pause that this must be it. house Three gifts they brought to None of God’s creatures were little Jesus when they came, stirring, not even a mouse; And they rejoiced as the angels The stockings were hung by the had as they praised His name; chimney with care, “Glory to God in the highest In truth, it’s Christ’s birth heaven, that had put them there. and on earth peace among those His children were nestled all whom He favors! snug in their beds, To the top of the mountains! Unlike the baby Jesus, with no To the bottom of the sea! place to lay his sweet head; Mother Mary and Joseph, and some shepherds perhaps

Our Savior is born to save both you and me!”

Watched over our Savior as he peacefully napped.

As God’s children sleep, safe in their beds,

When up in the sky there arose such a clatter,

Both Father and Son watch over their heads,

That three wise men grabbed the best gifts they could gather.

Loving them enough to number each countless hair,

Away to the Messiah they flew like a flash, To see our redeemer in the flesh at long last. The star in the sky gave off such a glow

We’ve no way to earn their love, but every way to share. Giving gifts as the wise men did is a fun tradition, As long as the point of Christmas never goes missing.

Deck the halls and trim the Shining with the luster of mid- tree, day to objects below, Hang the stockings and dance with glee. When, what to their wondering eyes should appear, Share the joy of Christmas But the stillness of the star showing they must be near,

which no wrapped gift could match,

It’s unclear how long they traveled, but it was quite a bit,

Tell of the babe wrapped in cloth who brought us freedom at last;

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A bundle of joy lying in the manger, Sent to save us from unspeakable danger. His life for ours, what an amazing gift! He was born so that man might no longer perish! His life was as pure as the day He was born, As He taught us the greatest lessons we’ll learn; Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, Don’t try to be pleasing to man, but to God above; Build on the Rock and not the sand, Keep an open heart and an outstretched hand. So many people are in need this Christmas, Let God use you to fulfill their wishes; Give as you’ve been given to, You provide for others and He’ll provide for you; So speak of His word, and get straight to His work, Always giving Him the glory since it all came from Him first. Remember, it’s God’s children in this world that are the light, Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Written by Victoria Jenkins

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© Exemplify Magazine


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Written by eLisa Pulliam

Bringing Holy Back to the Holiday

Instead of succumbing to the pressure to perform, I’m looking for opportunities to celebrate and share our Savior in a holy new way.

It might seem like the traditional Christmas season is upon us, but this year I’m tackling it with an entirely different approach. Instead of allowing my Christmas joy to spiral into despair over of gifts, commitments, relationships, cookies, and cards begging signatures, I’m on a new mission of Bringing Holy Back to the Holiday! Would you like to join me? As followers of Christ, shouldn’t our Christmas focus be the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and not the holiday driven marketing plans adding to our mounting (and sometimes meaningless) traditions. © Exemplify Magazine!

Holiday is a Holy Day! Many of us miss the “holy” in holiday, even though the word comes from merging “holy” and “day.” 1 Holy means to be separated, set apart, or consecrated. 2 A holiday is meant to be a day(s) set apart to celebrate something holy. It is not intended to transform us into maniacs conquering a “to do” list of holiday responsibilities. Christmas is meant as a time to celebrate our Holy God and the gift of our Savior. Yet, the manmade burden to bless turns otherwise sane gals into emotional wrecks sharing in a year-end stressfest. Traditions have overtaken the holiday, pushing holiness right off the calendar. It is time for a change, which begins with understanding holiness.

Understanding God’s Holiness Did you know that holiness is God’s most fundamental attribute? “It is the only attribute repeated three times in a row anywhere in Scripture. We do not read, ‘Powerful, powerful, powerful is the LORD of hosts!’ But the angles do say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’”3 (Isaiah 6:3). God not only refers to himself as holy, but also declares that His people are holy and should live holy lives: “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44a); “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:15-16). This “being” holy is only possible through the one who makes us holy, Jesus Christ. Even before conception, Christ was holy. When He came to earth, He was on a holy mission for all mankind:

Luke 1:30-35 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." !"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" !The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

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God’s holiness breached the heavens and touched the earth, manifested in Christ, and in His mercy, holiness was bestowed on each one of us who declare Him Lord.

Understanding Our Holiness We become holy when we put our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, thereby being adopted into God’s family and sharing in His holiness (Ephesians 1:4-8). As a child takes on the last name of their parents and reflects the attributes of the family, we become partakers in God’s holiness when we put our faith in His Son by believing in our heart that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. (Romans 10:9-10)

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Hope 1 Peter 3:15 “...Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have...” Is your hope obvious in your countenance during the bustle of the holiday season? Are you prepared to share His hope with 14!

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others? Decide now to share about our Savior this Christmas! Joy

\\\ All Scriptures are NIV translation from Biblegateway.com 1 2 3

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/holy http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/holy Erwin Lutzer, Walk in the Word, August 2009

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Humble Yourself The first step is to humble yourself before God by acknowledging that He is a Holy God. Confess the times you’ve ignored His holiness, give thanks to God for being a forgiving Father, and finally ask the Lord to give you a new vision for celebrating a holy Christmas as you commit to sharing His Son with a needy world.

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Open the Word Find out what God’s says about holiness by opening up our Bible (or visit Biblegateway.com). If you look up “holiness,” you’ll find 25 verses in the NIV. Plan to read one verse a day from December 1 through the 25th, in context. Keep a journal of what you learn!

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Look at Your Life It is time to look at realistically at your life. Grab a piece of paper and pen to jot down all the things you do to celebrate the holiday season, beginning as early as November 1st, all the way through January 1st. Categorize your list by food (as in baking or must have holiday meals), decorations (inside and out), activities (such as card writing and photographs), events (church, non-for-profit, community) and parties (family, friends, work). Put a star by everything that brings pleasure. Put a cross by everything that spreads the Gospel. Put an x by everything that seems unnecessary or emotionally/physically draining. Make a plan to respond in stages, starting off slowly this year and implementing a few more dramatic changes next.

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Yield to His Ways Prayerfully seek the Lord concerning which holiday traditions need to be laid to rest in order to make space for holy living. Be ready to yield to His ways, and not assume you know best. Bringing Holy Back doesn’t necessarily mean doing more “Christian” things. It may actually be quite the opposite. In order to make time to drive a neighbor grocery shopping for her holiday meal, it might mean not participating in the choir. Or it may mean offering to do a Christmas Sunday school lesson to the 4 year old class. in order to give a sister in Christ the chance to sit in service and be refueled by worship, instead of taking another class yourself. It may simply mean putting up less decorations so that a few more hours can be dedicate to rest, study of the Word, and practicing ways to share the love our Savior with our family, friends, and strangers, alike.

Peace

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Does your heart leap for joy filled with gratitude to God? Gather together friends to sing Christ-centered carols at a nursing home, prison, or community group.

Romans 12:18! “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

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Steps to Bringing Holy Back

Psalm 28:7 “...My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”

Instead of bringing strife to the family party, grumbling on the checkout line, and stress to your marriage over gift-giving purchases, bring peace through forgiveness, grace, Without Christ as our Savior, God only sees mercy, and submission. our sin. But when Christ’s blood is poured out for our sin, we are washed clean. God Love now sees us through the sacrifice of His Romans 12:9, 13 “Love must be Son (Hebrews 10:10). We become holy sincere...Share with God's people who are because the Savior covers us, making us in need. Practice “holy and blameless hospitality.” in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4) Share God’s love practically: skip the holiday manicure and As God’s children, we head to the nursing home are set apart -- holy -to paint nails; ditch the and are called to extravagant dinner party declare His praise. As and instead invite a “a chosen people, a neighbor over for a cup of royal priesthood, a holy tea, which means forgetting the dust nation, a people belonging to God...” our bunnies running rampant, four loads of purpose is “....that [we] may declare the laundry begging to be folded, and sticky praises of him who called [us] out of juice spills smattered on the counter. Enlist darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter the help of family members and together 2:9) We are commissioned by God to seek ways to share God’s love. blaze forth, eyes glistening with the love of Jesus and gratitude for the cross, bringing Friends, the reality is that without the birth His holiness to a needy world, not only in of Christ, there would be no holy in the the dark nights of Christmas but all year Christmas holiday. Not only would there long. be no gifts and cookies and carols, but imagine the absence of hope, joy, peace, Bringing Holy Back and love! Only the Savior of the World can offer these treasures (and dozens more) Bringing Holy Back to the Holiday means wrapped in His holiness. Instead of caving living as ambassadors for our Holy God. into the Christmas chaos, it is time to start We evaluate our traditions, keeping the a new movement of Bringing Holy Back to holy ones in place, while pursuing every opportunity to share our Savior with others. the Holiday as we share our Savior in a It means applying the Word literally, as we holy new way. become agents of God’s hope, joy, peace, and love to the world around us. Consider the possibilities...

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Bringing Holy Back to the Holiday is about doing less “holiday” things to make time to share more of the our Holy Savior with others! © Exemplify Magazine


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Natalie made little effort to make their home into a place he’d want to be, and what man wants to come home to a messy house, a disobedient daughter, and a wife looking for a fight? (At this point, I’m cringing at the selfconviction.) At the same time, Natalie is filled with bitterness and resentment because of the time Daniel spends away from home and because of Lissa’s attitude and behavior.

All of these issues come to a head during an unexpected crisis: One day shortly after Christmas, Natalie gets a call from her mother, Belinda, asking for help taking down the Christmas decorations. This is Natalie’s least favorite chore, and she begs off, telling her mother she’s busy and asking her to wait until someone can help her. Although feeling slightly guilty, Natalie spends the rest of the day painting.

Written by Kate of Proverbs14.com I had previously reviewed two upcoming novels from Abingdon Press, both of which had a historical setting. The third Abingdon book, One Imperfect Christmas, is set more or less in the present day, and chronicles the profound effects a medical crisis can have on a family. While I found the novel to be somewhat depressing for a holiday story, by the end of the book I was glad to have read it. The first novel of Myra Johnson, a short story writer since 1985, One Imperfect Christmas is descriptive and thought provoking.

The novel centers on Natalie Pearce, a talented graphic artist who dreams of becoming a fine painter. Her husband Daniel is a teacher and sports coach, and together they have a preteen daughter named Lissa. Natalie has strong family ties, but it seems like she’s closer to her parents than to her husband and daughter. She and Daniel don’t spend as much time together as she’d like because of his coaching schedule, which she resents. At the same time, Daniel resents his wife putting her painting and graphic artwork ahead of taking care of her home and family, and her lackluster housekeeping annoys her husband.

Even before the crisis, the couple argues constantly, especially about money, parenting, and Daniel’s job. They were slack in disciplining their daughter, who seemed to be espousing the preteen stereotype with her attitude, and they weren’t putting any effort into strengthening their marriage. Being privy to the omniscient narration and thus able to see everyone’s points of view, I couldn’t really fault Daniel for not wanting to be home more. © Exemplify Magazine!

That evening, though, she gets a frantic phone call from her father: Belinda has had a stroke, and it doesn’t look good. After rushing to the hospital, Natalie discovers that her mother’s prognosis is grim. “If she’d received immediate treatment” things would have looked better, but Belinda was alone at the time, trying to take down the Christmas decorations by herself. Unable to speak, Belinda is moved from the hospital to a long-term care facility. Now Natalie is guilt-ridden for putting her painting ahead of helping her mother.

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Although we never meet Marie and only see these examples of her charity and hospitality, I imagined her as a contrast to Natalie in marriage and homemaking: a talented home keeper who is quietly supportive of her husband.

The sections of the novel written from Belinda’s point of view also intrigued me. Although confused and frustrated by being trapped in a body that cannot do what it’s told, she reflects on the forty-nine “perfect Christmases” she spent with her husband before her stroke and realizes that they really weren’t perfect. Bad weather, illness, and other mishaps tended to make each holiday less than ideal, but it was spending Christmas together as a family that made it perfect. Despite her condition, Belinda is at home with her loved ones, making it the fiftieth perfect Christmas that she promised her husband.

Belinda illustrates what I thought was the overriding theme of the novel: We cannot control life, but we can control how we perceive and respond to our circumstances. Even in the midst of tragedy and hardship, we can turn to the Lord and be thankful. One Imperfect Christmas, which released in September, is thought-provoking juxtaposition of the stereotypical perfection we seek and the reality we live.

The rest of the novel, taking place over the following year, focuses on Natalie’s thoughts and decisions in response to her mother’s stroke. Natalie’s guilt at not being there for her mother causes her to pull away from those who love her, including, sadly, her husband and daughter. She throws herself into her work, accepting a partnership position at a graphic art firm. Her marriage continues to crumble and Daniel gives her an ultimatum: Either be present in body and in mind, or don’t be present at all. Daniel loves his wife and doesn’t want her to leave, but he needs her at home and not so consumed by her work and by her feelings of guilt and bitterness. Natalie chooses to leave, which sends the family into a tailspin. Lissa begins running away from home and is forced to choose which parent with which to live. She chooses Daniel, and the two are soon reduced to eating frozen meals in front of the television, with no one to care for their home.

In the midst of Natalie and Daniel’s dysfunctional marriage, we see occasional, indirect examples of a godly marriage. Daniel’s boss, head coach Carl Moreno, is a wise friend who offers Daniel advice and understanding. Carl’s wife, Marie, occasionally provides a meal for Daniel and Lissa after Natalie leaves. 15


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Money at Ch!"mas

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with kids jingle-belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer spending their income for the year!” Yep, it’s that time of the year again, Christmas! A time to celebrate a Savior being sent to a sinful world. A time to praise a God of grace and love. A time to share His love with others. And a time to stop and thank God for all He has done for us. It is time to remember Jesus’ birth. But it is also a time for shopping, and sales, and stuff. It is the time of the year retail business lives for. It is the time of the year credit card companies long for. It is the time of the year our pocketbooks cringe over. It is time for the commercial “Holidays”. What are some ways you can protect yourself and your family from getting sucked in once again? Start with prayer. Admit to the Lord that you struggle to see all that you have as ultimately His (don’t we all Sister?). Ask Him to give you a generous heart with Kingdom priorities. Thank Him for all the material blessings you have. And ask for guidance and strength to stand firm against materialistic urges that are bound to come. Realize the “Reason for the Season”. You are setting a budget for CHRISTmas! This is a time to celebrate the Incarnation of Christ. Take time to meditate on Philippians 2:1-11, a passage that tells us Christ gave up equality with God the Father to come and die for us. What a great Savior we have! Set your heart priorities first. Make a list of people you want to buy a present for, and beside their names give a reason why. Do you simply feel obligated to buy some people gifts? Your answer is more than likely yes, and don’t beat yourself up over it because this is a reality for alot of us in America today. Instead of just buying to meet that ‘requirement’, begin praying for God to show you how to minister His grace and love through each gift. Make a goal that every gift be a tangible representation of the loving gift Our Heavenly Father gave us through our Savior and Lord Jesus! Maybe even type up a short explanation of why you can give, because God

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gave His only Son, and attach it to each of your gifts. This will be a challenge, but one with great spiritual rewards. Use this season to give to those less fortunate monetarily than you. Adopt an angel tree child, fill an Operation Shoebox box for a child, give money to a local homeless shelter, etc. The possibilities of how to give instead of receive during this time of the year are endless, but the important thing is to do something. This shares the gospel in such a real way! Get creative! Look at your list and brainstorm if there is something you could make by hand, or some kind of service you could give instead of purchasing anything. Put thought and prayer into each person you are giving to, and try to get personal. Check your resources. The internet is such a helpful tool for shopping. Study prices and deals. Also use the internet to help you consider what can be made for cheaper. There are so many great crafty blogs and frugal blogs that are full of new ideas, remember to visit them! Remember to spend the most important thing you have: time. Spend time in His Word each day. Spend time in prayer, praising and adoring Him each day. Spend time memorizing and meditating on His amazing truths. Spend time talking about our great God with your family. This is the greatest gift we have to give to our Lord, top priority in our time. Save your money for the Savior. No seriously, your money is the Saviors. He does not want us to be controlled by the money He has given us. Instead we need to see this as a means to show His love and grace to the world around us, both our loved ones and the poor and oppressed. This year if you just take a little time to stop and set your heart and mind on this fact, Jesus will be your “Reason for the Season”.

© Exemplify Magazine


Hearth & Mantle

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There is nothing that welcomes the Christmas season with a warm embrace than decorating the hearth and mantle. The fireplace is where our family gathers for special moments together as we talk, laugh, and sometimes watch a movie together sitting by the warmth of the crackling fire. So why not adorn this special place in the home with beauty and creativity. Yet, do it in such a way so it might transition into winter and Valentines Day with minimal changes. The first thing to do is call a friend and meet at a book store...preferably one with coffee. Once you arrive, grab a stack of fun Christmas decorator books and magazines, order a steamy brew of your choice, and begin to browse through the ideas between the pages. You’ll have great fellowship with a friend as you share with each other the pictures and ideas you like.

After I returned home from the bookstore, I decided to sketch and write my ideas on paper. This is a step you could skip, but I like doing this. It keeps me focused on my idea and not waver too far as I shop for special items if needed. My sketch had no garland because I didn’t want to narrow myself down, but keep an open mind as I looked for something that was not too Christmassy so it would transition into winter and beyond. Please remember to stick with a style that goes with the rest of your home’s décor. I love the Victorian look in a magazine, but my home is mostly rustic and primitive. Victorian decorations would look out of place. So stick with what fits to create harmony. Also keep in mind the following: • Vary heights in the items used in display. • Use different textures (soft lines and ruff edges). • Go with what you have…reinvent something. • Layer, layer, and layer. • Candles…real or fake…with the addition of mirrors equals fabulous! Now for the fun part…shopping! Start your shopping trip in your own home by sifting through the Christmas items you already have and set aside items you think will work for your display. In this way you will not spend unnecessary money on duplicate decorations forgotten about over the past year. Another great idea, ask friends if you can borrow items they may not be using or swap them something you have for the item you desire. Then make a list of the things you still need and plan a day (a friend is always great to bring along) to shop for your remaining decorations. Set the mood for the main event; creating the mantle masterpiece! A box of chocolates, a glass of eggnog, and good Christmas music playing joyfully are some of my favorites. It might also be nice for dad to take the kids out for a fun trip. If you didn’t make a sketch, now would be a good time to try your idea out on a table top before placing it on the mantle. I also tried out my display on the mantle and made sure the pieces I choose to switch out for winter (snowmen and snowflakes) and Valentines Day (red heart vases) would work before the final touches were added. My first layer is some sort of linen. I’ve chosen a soft look with the lace mantle runner. The second layering piece is the background. This is where I thought “out of the box” and used something I already had and reinvented it. The mirror was actually from an old dresser which detached with the simple turn of some screws. I laid it on its side to create some coziness in the reflection of the candles. Add all your big pieces next and then tuck smaller ones in and around some of the larger ones like I have done with my sheep. Your garland would be your final layer woven back and forth between your pieces. Notice how the ribbon and lace mantle runner bring softness to to the ruff looking primitive pieces…this is texture. The antique wooden spools with candles were placed at varying heights. The lit candles reflected in the mirror give a spirit of glory around the baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…that’s cozy.

Written by Shannon Jacobyansky


'e Story of My Mantl(cape My mantle scape tells the story of the birth of Jesus. The angel in the field appears before the shepherds bringing good news of great joy for all people.

“…I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” ~Luke 2:10-11

Then the manger scene is the center of the display for Christ should be the center and focus of our Christmas celebration.

“And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” ~Luke 2:7

And then the gifts of the magi are represented…gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gold represents that Jesus is King over all. The frankincense to remember Christ was born to die. The harden drops of myrrh are considered very rare and very valuable and so are we as children of God. Jesus enhances our fragrance as children of the light as we grow in our knowledge of him and allow his love and grace to embrace our daily walk. “On coming to the house, they (the magi) saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, and of incense, and of myrrh.” ~Matthew 2:11 I hope your mind is buzzing with thoughts of new ways to decorate and embellish your hearth and mantle. But most of all remember, it is the traditions that you continue and memories that you make as a family year after year that pull at our children’s heart strings making a house an abode they will always come home to.

See more ideas for y%r mantle on #e next pa)!


Holiday Mantel Tip Who says s’mores are only for outside summer campfires? Try making those delectable marshmallow treats inside on a cold December night. Have the kids in front of the warm fire with a blanket beneath their feet and cook up a new Christmas tradition as you read the true story of Christmas from the book of Luke. End the night with a picture of tootsies warmed by the fire as a memory of this special family time.

Winter Long Decor How about extending your mantel decorations into the winter, straight through Valentine’s Day?

All photos for this article were taken by photographer, Kim Sweimler of Reading, Pennsylvania.


Win a Copy of Missy Tippens’ New Book! Sarah Radcliffe’s quiet Christmas back in her hometown will be lost if she agrees to direct the church’s Christmas pageant. But when she meets two little boys determined to gain their father’s attention, Sarah agrees to help. Then she discovers that the dad in question is Gregory Jones, the man she loved and lost. The single dad is working himself to the bone to give his boys the Christmas of their dreams, when all they want is some family time. Time that includes a new mommy. If Sarah can learn to open her heart, she may receive the most wonderful present of all—a family of her own. ___

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I love a good book set during Christmastime! What better festive way to get in the mood for the holiday season is there? You will love this story of two former sweethearts reuniting at the most wonderful time of the year! This story is an uplifting tale of forgiveness and family. Miss Tippens, author of A Forever Christmas, is offering a copy of this book to one of our readers! To enter this giveaway, simply tweet @exemplify why you’d love to win a copy. A winner will be chosen December 9th!


Merry Christmas! The Exemplify Team wishes our readers a merry Christmas! May you rejoice in the birth of our Savior as you celebrate His coming to earth to set us free. May you stand in awe of the Redemption He offers. May you be blessed with glimpses of His glory this month. Exemplify Magazine will be taking January off to prepare for the new year of this ministry. We aim to bring you the best content we can in February. See you in the New Year!

Kristen Schiffman This image was provided by Christy McGraw of CrittyJoy.

Exemplify Magazine: December Special Feature Issue  
Exemplify Magazine: December Special Feature Issue  

Christmas bonus issue.

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