Come Sit On Our Couch – a marriage devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission by Bhreagh Rowe. An awesome marriage devotional! 

I think the biggest thing I struggle with is feeling like a crazy person. I literally feel like I am the only person in the world who cries every time I see a baby born on TV, or when Sassy comes over that hill in Homeward Bound or loses it on every time my 4 year old hits that stupid fork on the table and makes another dent. What about when the paper boy throws the paper at the end of my driveway and I can’t NOT not drive over it because its right in my way, or that one dad at my kid’s school who literally takes the stroller out to push his 3 year old the 40 feet to the door. I know, I’m crazy.

There are very few times that I have felt normal or accepted and almost everyone of those times included a cup of tea, a cozy blanket, a comfy couch, a good cry and that one(or two) people who just get me and what I am going through. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times this has happened in my adult life but nevertheless when it happens, it’s beautiful.

Being a mom and wife was the life goal but when the wife and the mom thing fell into my lap I had this feeling of “k, cool, what next?”. I didn’t feel that instant fireworks and crazy attraction to my husband when we first meant and when they placed that little slippery baby into my hands I was more concerned about the pain of what was going on down “there” then those sweet blue eyes. All this to say, it didn’t come easy, naturally or without a lot of bumps and when I say bumps I mean like Everest sized mountains.

So, here I am almost 7 years into wifing and I’m just finally starting to figure a few things out I am not really sure if there was a defining moment that caused this change but I do know there was a big old slap in the face.

There are four people in my marriage, God, me, Daniel and Iris. I know I know, your like “Bhreagh, that’s kinda weird” and 3 years ago I would be like “I know right”.

Whose Iris you may asked? Well Iris is our counsellor, our “don’t pull that crap with me I’m gonna call you out and tell you how it really is” kinda counsellor.

Yes, we have a marriage counsellor.

Iris told me at one of our very first sessions that I wasn’t that great of a wife or a mom and that Daniel was a bit of a jerk (I mean it’s paraphrased a bit but you get the idea right?).

She was totally right.

Our marriage SUCKED before Iris. I mean, we made it look good and all but really we were struggling. We were struggling because we didn’t connect well with each other, we were struggling because we were stressed, we were in competition with each other, we had no mentors or role models, we had hurts, we suffered alone and then we decided to have a few kids cause, why not right?

Remember when I said I always feel like a crazy person? Well during those first 3 (or 4 – 5) years of marriage we went at it alone. We would fight and feel like we were the only people to fight, we struggled and felt like we were the only people who struggled, we were bad parents and felt like the only people who ever made bad parenting choices. We felt like crazy people because no one sat us down on the couch, made us feel like the normal people we are and offered some tissue to go with that cup of tea.

I’m scratching the surface here but do you see where I am going with this right?

Marriage is hard.

Being a family is hard.

Parenting is (SO) hard.

Iris saved us. Well, my husband who was wise enough to seek God, connect us with Iris and then made me go saved us. Iris made me feel crazy because I was. She made me face the hard stuff that was making me crazy and then, with a whole lot of tea and tissues, sat us on her couch and helped us learn the way. Without her even knowing, she opened a huge door for our marriage and family, pushed us through (while we were completely unwilling to go ourselves) and saved us.

So friend, come sit on our couch, I have lots of different types of tea and I am usually out of tissues but have rolls and rolls of toilet paper that you can use to wipe the tears or wipe the face of your spouse after you throw the tea at him in anger (disclaimer – I have never thrown tea at him but there was a tambourine incident) and hear this;

You are a little crazy.

But there is absolutely nothing that you have gone through, you have done, or you have experienced in your marriage and family that will shock or surprise me.

Nothing.

I know your thinking there is something but trust me, I did it or I get it.

We are all imperfect human beings trying to live, love and co-exist with another imperfect human being who, more than likely, is the COMPLETE opposite of you all while raising little humans who yell, scream and freak out out whenever I take that stupid fork away from him. We find ourselves in this big pressure cooker of life and if we don’t stop, sit on that couch and get ourselves some tools for the tool belt it will explode.

So find yourself an Iris.

Then find yourself a good cup of tea, a roll of toilet paper and a comfy couch to breathe out the crazy and breathe in the grace.

Friend, I really hope we can sit on the couch together someday and laugh at all the crazy but for now just know that you don’t have to do crazy alone.

 

Bhreagh is a Jesus follower, wife to Daniel, mom to Maverick and Asher and Salvation Army Officer in Mississauga ON (Canada). She’s a horrible cook, compulsive scheduler, closet reality TV watcher with a heart for the family. Bhreagh’s passion is to see families understand their purpose and live out their God given adventure with as much grace as possible. In her spare time she likes to separate lightsaber fights, attempt to grow veggies in her garden and have date nights by the fire with her husband. 
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Joyfully Abandoned – a devotional

Editor’s note: This is a guest submission by Ann Grace. She has shared her story before – most recently here. Today’s devotional may be hard to get through as it’s very emotional, but powerful. Thank you, Ann.

Is it even possible to be joyful in the midst of feeling abandoned? My life has been filled with my share of feeling abandoned and lonely but these days, I’m once again experiencing it again. My husband of 1 year has left us. No contact. No “I love you”.

Nothing. It’s been almost two weeks of pure grief not knowing whether he will come back or file for divorce. I’m angry. I’m confused and just plain heartbroken. You know, I look back and can say that being widowed at 31 was easier than this! During these hard days, I’m finding rest in my Savior’s arms. I never thought in a million years that I’d have to experience such grief again. The sad part is watching our 5 children relive their “Dad” leaving them. Oh, how my heart aches for their lack of understanding in this fragile situation. Is there joy to experience in this valley of the shadow of death?

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6–9

After reading this scripture, I’m comforted to know that joy and grief go hand in and. A great example that came to my mind is of my own experiences of child birth. Right now, I am 7 months pregnant and am dreading in some way the day I have to actually go through labor but am joyful knowing that it will all be worth it once I see the beautiful boy the Lord has blessed me with. I can’t see the it now, but I rest knowing it’s coming!

Whatever situation you are in, I know its tough. It’s hard to stay focused on the Lord and trust Him with all your heart… It’s hard to feel comforted by what feels like an “invisible God” when you just need desperately a strong embrace… I know its easier to be upset and fall into a pity party for ourselves but God doesn’t want us to stay there. Of course, He’s not shocked by our emotions and reactions in our trials but we must remember that dwelling on them no longer produces joy. Joy doesn’t have to be smiles and laughter though…It’s ok to have tears, righteous anger and passionate conversations with our Savior. In fact, our Lord wants us to come boldly to His throne and tell Him how we feel and what we are struggling with. But, then He wants us to surrender them ALL, not some, not most, but ALL at His feet. Geez, that’s the hard part. I should know, but I’m telling you, fear and worry will only grow if we choose to hold on to them. They will destroy us! As believers in Christ, we must remember that the Lord is in control of our lives and He promises to carry our burdens on His shoulders while giving us rest. And boy do I need
rest!

“ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

I pray that we surrender our lives to our Heavenly Father today and let him be our Savior. You may not know how to let go of your fears and pain but simply praying and asking the Lord’s help is the first step. It may take some time to actually change our habits of wanting to worry but don’t give up! The Lord is faithful and He will not abandon us. Hevwill be our husband, lover and father if we let Him.

He will hold us close and carry us when all we hear is silence.

Psalm 68:5 ESV
“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”
So when you feel beat down and abandoned, trust Christ with your heart and life and He will, in His perfect timing, make everything new.

“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’” Revelation 21:5 ESV

 I am not a blogger, professional writer, photographer or foodie. I’m simply a mother of five (soon to be six) who has walked a road of grief after losing a husband and baby. I continue to encounter a Lord who is faithful. My desire is for others to know Him like I do and let Him be glorified in all I do say and do.
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After the Storm – devotional

Editor’s Note: I thought I would just jump back right into posting devo’s! I have closed submissions for the time being – and you’ll be getting a fresh devotional to read every Monday morning for this fall!

This is a guest submission by Heather Ream. This is somewhat of a follow-up to Heather’s previous post about her mom here. Thank you for sharing, Heather!


My mom has been living in a nursing home now for a little over a year. Most of the time, she’s stable. I’m blessed to be able to write that. Praise you, Lord. Most of the time, she’s stable.


Sometimes, she has a short series of days that culminate with a episode of psychosis. First, she’ll refuse all medication. The staff cannot force her to take her pills, and only some of her medicine is available in an injectible form. Next, she might suffer with insomnia that night and may or may not sleep. By the next morning, she will refuse food or a change of clothes. She will adamantly proclaim that she is dying along with a list of other delusional thoughts.

Eventually, when the staff has done all they can, the doctor will be called and Mom will be given an injection of a strong, calming drug. It’s only then that she will be able to sleep, and the cycle will be broken…this time.

I usually receive a phone call from a nurse early on the second day informing me of what’s happened. Each one of them is compassionate, and they carefully explain to me everything they did to try to help or cajole my mother. Often, they are embarrassed and frustrated they couldn’t do more. However, this is our reality. My mom has a serious mental illness compounded by dementia.

After Mom’s had a tough run of days, my next visit usually consists of straightening her room and putting everything back in order. Her room is cleaned regularly, but it is impossible to keep up with the chaos when Mom’s having a crisis.

Last week, after her most recent difficult day, my husband and I brought her a burger and fries to enjoy while I started the cleanup. Socks and clothes were strewn around her bed and underneath it. Her shoes lay in a jumbled mess. A patriotic sign had fallen off the wall and landed in the corner.

But the medicine had finally done its job. She finished her meal without complaint and let me change her into pajamas. The nurse and I helped her into bed, and she fell asleep almost immediately. After I tidied her room, I wet a washcloth with warm water and wiped the sleepies out of her eyes – another task she had refused the nurses.

Another storm, another mess that needed to be cleaned up. The tears came as I thought of us, our roles reversed. How many times had my mother wiped my face or hands as I slept soundly, after a meal? How many mismatched socks did she gather from my bedroom floor, careful not to wake me during her early morning chore time before work?

Am I really helping her, Lord? Is this all that’s left? My heart is breaking, I prayed. I thought of our Jesus, chiding the disciples in the boat as the storm raged around them.

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” he asked. (Mark 4:40, NIV)

My heart swelled as I remembered all the Lord had done for my family the past year. True, this was a hard day. But tomorrow would be easier.

As I stroked my mother’s hair back into place with my hand, I contemplated the countless Godly mothers all over the world, all throughout history. They were the dear ones who had cleaned up innumerable storms the same way my mother had done for her children. I thought of us, the daughters, once their students and now the experts. What a beautiful gift, to be numbered among those multitudes.


Storms will always come, my friends, but have faith! Sometimes, what seems like a deluge is merely a torrential downpour of love, from our Heavenly parent.

Heather Ream is an emerging writer from Knoxville, Tennessee. The Lord
blessed her with an incredible husband, Ben, and a joyful desire to serve
others in her community. You can follow her East Tennessee adventures at
www.runningtowardthefire.blogspot.com

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Now Accepting Submissions :)

Hey Divas!

I had my baby, I moved across the world back home to the USA and I’m ready to start accepting submissions for Devotional Diva again.

Got an idea for a story or devotional? Here’s our “Become a Diva” submission page with more information.

It has been a whirlwind few months, and I thank you for being patient with me during my recovery and all these changes. (To be honest, everything was a lot harder than I expected!)

My husband has been with our family for a full six months, and that hasn’t happened in over three years. Thank you for understanding my need to also soak up this time together.

I have new ideas for this year, and you’ll probably notice some changes soon! Now that I’m a mom of two, I’m trying to be intentional about being efficient. I want to have good time management for ALL my priorities. 😊 A couple of things right off the bat: formatting for the posts will be a little different (simpler) and I will not be accepting submissions year round (more efficient). I’ll always post and update the become a diva page when they are open 😊

I am also striving to make the devotionals easily visible and accessible for everyone. I think we have amazing writers and content and I don’t want you to miss it! I’ve been trying to figure out the best ways to share on social media. I might need to try a few things out, but I’m going to start by adding the devotionals to Instagram (and Facebook) stories. I hope you’ll check those out! Follow the devotional_diva IG here and Facebook here. I’m most active on those platforms, and appreciate your follow!!

Stay tuned for new posts, and until then, if you’ve got a story or devotional to share, email me at editor@devotionaldiva.com to connect with me 🙂

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Welcome Little Diva!

My daughter is here! Her name is Zoey; I’ll probably refer to her as little Z on here though.

We had a smooth delivery and both are doing well. 

My husband was home and right by my side!

She feels like such a special gift from God!

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers as she prepared to come into the world.

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My Turning Page: A Christmas Devotional

a christmas devotional

This is the final devotional in our Diva Christmas Series 2018, “The Best Christmas Ever!” I can’t believe it either, but Christmas is one week away! Here is my contribution to the series, which I truly hope provided some enjoyment and intimacy with God this season for you.

Here are all of the links for this year’s series if you missed any! Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9(particularly relevant to my devotional today!)

If you’re craving more Christmas devotionals, feel free to use our search bar for the past 4 years of Christmas devotionals!


A little background info on our Diva Christmas Series: Every year I’ve been editor, I like to celebrate the Christmas season with a special series and theme. This is year 5!! This year’s theme is “The Best Christmas Ever.” Submissions are closed, but if you’d like to read more about the series, here is my post announcing the series!

This is my final post until next year — post baby and post international move!

I love how everyone had their own interpretation of “the best Christmas ever.” This series turned out better than I could have imagined. Every year in the late summer or fall I pray for God to give me the idea for the year’s Christmas series. It never comes right away, but He always delivers.

I’d hoped that everyone would get the idea I was introducing with this year’s series…Gifts do not necessarily a best Christmas make, but the togetherness, the generosity, the feelings.

In fact, I think the best word for what I’m describing is not an English word. What comes to mind is “hygge,” a Danish word and custom. Here’s a great explanation of hygge from Oxford Dictionaries: 

“A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)”

That is Christmastime, isn’t it?

The best Christmas I ever had was in 2012. It was the first Christmas in a long time that I wasn’t dealing with depression. I had been living in Chicago with my husband at our first military duty station for about 6 months. I finally found the right solutions to crawl out of my pit of depression and anxiety. For me that meant the right medication and therapy, but God placed other significant events in my life that year that healed me as well. Christmas 2012 was my turning page, and it was magic.

I went home to Iowa for a couple weeks during November 2012 for my sister-in-law’s wedding. Sadly my husband wasn’t able to go along. All of our family and friends, I think, noticed the huge difference in me. I felt good.

I remember being on the phone with my husband and mentioning that I thought I wanted to get a white Christmas tree — it would actually be our first tree together and I was so excited.

He was able to come back to Iowa for Thanksgiving, and we went home to Chicago together after that.

We listened to Christmas music on the drive home, and I was ready to get our house decorated! I made many plans in my head, including where to start looking for my dream white Christmas tree.

We arrived home, and after greeting our kitties, I saw the most perfect white Christmas tree I could have ever imagined sitting the corner of our living room.

Christmas was here. We were a new family. Together, we would decorate this tree and, maybe in a few years, decorate it with our kids. We would make new memories around this tree — and be done with bad memories. The tree was a new beginning for me, and my husband loved me enough to surprise me with it.

That Christmas season truly was my best ever. Full of new memories and traditions (and that hygge feeling!).

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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The Season of New Beginnings: A Christmas Devotional

christmas devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest Christmas devotional by contributor Agnes Amos-Coleman (interested in her last Devotional Diva post? Here it is!) I specifically placed Agnes’ “Best Christmas Ever” post last in the guest portion of our Diva Christmas Series. It heavily relates to my post, which will be coming up next as the final installment. I guess the way Agnes describes Christmas as a “New Beginning” is precisely the way I feel about Christmas and why I love it so much. I really related! I hope you can too.

Want to catch up on the series? Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8


A little background info on our Diva Christmas Series: Every year I’ve been editor, I like to celebrate the Christmas season with a special series and theme. This is year 5!! This year’s theme is “The Best Christmas Ever” and I think you’ll enjoy the wide variety of posts everyone submitted! It was a pleasure reading them as they were submitted, and taking in everyone’s Best Christmases Ever. Submissions are closed, but if you’d like to read more about the series, here is my post announcing the series!

The Season of New Beginnings

My friends, Christmas for me symbolizes a season of new beginning. A new beginning when all hope is lost and suddenly, God shows up in the situation and changes all things around for our good.

I recall the Christmas season of 2011 during a trip to England and Paris – this was not just an ordinary trip, it was a trip with my husband celebrating our honeymoon. As cold and challenging as the trip was (because we got pick pocketed in Paris) it was a trip that embodied for me Hope and Joy. Why? I am glad you asked. After many years of being divorced, I had lost hope of ever meeting someone who shares my values and is interested in journeying through life with me for better and for worse. However, through series of divine intervention, the God of new beginning showed up and gave me my own new beginning in marriage. I know He will do the same for you too in Jesus Name. Amen.

Reflecting on this personal new beginning, I realized that God already gave us a new beginning when He sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship (Galatians 4:4-5).

In this season, our new beginning is:

* Personal: Whatever our needs are – be it marital, financial, career, relationship, emotional, business, family and so on, the God of new beginning is available to meet us at the point of our need. Ours’s is to believe by faith that

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.

And then walk in the spirit of expectation that one day, the story is going to change. Such was my case (even when I was faced with unbelief sometimes) that my marital situation would ever change.

* Spiritual – God is calling us into a personal relationship with Him through His son Jesus Christ, so that we can do life with Him in wisdom, knowledge and understanding and above all be partakers of the hope of eternity. This new beginning is far important than the hyped consumerism synonymous to Christmas that often leaves us with the feeling of emptiness, financial debt and depression once the season is over. Think about it –

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Mark 8:36.

Christ follower, I pray for you that in this season, God will give you a new beginning in every area of your life – physical, spiritual and emotional in Jesus Name. Amen. If you are currently not a Christ follower, come and experience a new beginning with Jesus today.

All glory to God!


Agnes Amos-Coleman

Agnes is a leader with proven business acumen in a variety of industries. She holds an executive MBA from the University of Hull, United Kingdom, and is also a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP). She is the author of Transforming Business with Godly Governance: Nine Characteristics for Workplace Success; God Cares for Me in Every Season: Godly Insights for Singleness, Marriage and Divorce; The Provisions of God: Insights from a Cat Named Mascot, and  Weekly Insights for the Workplace: A Devotional for Christian Professionals

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The Christmas My PawPaw Knew Christ: A Christmas Devotional

christmas devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest Christmas devotional by Lyndsie Suttle. We are nearing the end of our Diva Christmas Series for 2018! Here is Day 8. I hope you are as inspired by Lyndsie’s “Best Christmas Ever” as I was!!

Want to catch up on the series? Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7


A little background info on our Diva Christmas Series: Every year I’ve been editor, I like to celebrate the Christmas season with a special series and theme. This is year 5!! This year’s theme is “The Best Christmas Ever” and I think you’ll enjoy the wide variety of posts everyone submitted! It was a pleasure reading them as they were submitted, and taking in everyone’s Best Christmases Ever. Submissions are closed, but if you’d like to read more about the series, here is my post announcing the series!


The Christmas My PawPaw Knew Christ

Christmas was always a special time in my family growing up. My granny had six grandkids, and she was crazy about all of us. She had four sons, so she was thrilled when her first four grandchildren were girls. She spoiled us all rotten.

Papaw was a bit of a different story. I wouldn’t call him a miser, but he has always been thrifty, and he thought my granny was too generous with her money. He worked hard his whole life, and saved every spare cent he had. Papaw was a wonderful man, and when it came to his grandchildren, he’d do just about anything for us. I never thought he didn’t love me, but we all knew that when it came to gifts, Gran was the giver.

Christmas was Gran’s time. We gave our wish lists to her. She shopped and bought the presents. She did all the wrapping. She made all the food. Papaw sat back and watched it all—and sometimes groused about how much it cost.

You see, my papaw didn’t know Jesus.

My granny came to know Christ just a short time after she was married. She always took her four boys to church, and prayed that one day her husband would join them. But it wasn’t until many years later, when I was eleven years old, that he accepted Jesus as his Savior.

I’ll never forget that first Christmas after he was saved. He was determined to make it about more than just eating a lot of great food and opening gifts.

He wanted us to have a wonderful time to remember. He set up games like a game show. My sweet white-haired granny wore a pink feather boa around her neck—she was his Vanna.

We had a talent show and answered silly quiz questions to win prizes. They were all hilariously tacky. I remember that I won a prize called “The Big Cheese.” It was an old picture of Papaw from the 80s. I think there was a five dollar bill included so that it didn’t feel like a bum prize! Some of us sang songs, or quoted Scripture verses or poems.

He wrote little poems about each of us. He didn’t tell us who it was about, but everyone had to guess who he was describing. I can’t remember all the words, but I remember that mine mentioned that I was the tallest out of all my cousins. When your poem was read, you were allowed to choose a present to open, or choose a present for someone else to open. That way, we all saw one another open gifts. It was a major change from previous years when everyone wildly opened gifts all at once.

That Christmas happened twenty years ago. I’ve had a lot a great Christmases since then. But it still sticks out in my mind as one of the best ever. There was so much laughter and fun. I can close my eyes right now and remember how it felt to be gathered there with my aunt, uncles, cousins and siblings. I can still see Gran flipping her feather boa over her shoulder as she asked us if we wanted to keep our prize or trade for something better. (Yes, we mixed our game shows up a bit.)

My papaw changed that Christmas. He didn’t just sit and watch us. He joined in and played and laughed, and brought us together as a family. When he came to know Jesus, his whole life changed, and our Christmas changed, too.

It’s amazing to me that two thousand years after His birth, Jesus is still changing lives, and making people happier and free. I hope that we can all find that true joy of Christmas, this year and every year, as we remember that knowing Jesus makes the best Christmas.


Lyndsie is a Christian, wife and stay-at-home mom to two boys. If she has spare time, you can find her reading a good book, baking cookies or sewing a quilt. She lives in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she writes about motherhood, Jesus, and life in a camper. You can find her at NotJustaSAHM.com.

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For Such is the Kingdom of Heaven: A Christmas Devotional

christmas devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest Christmas devotional by Sheila Ingle. If you read last year’s Diva Christmas Series, you might remember her! Her contribution to last year’s “Short and Sweet” series is available to read here.

You might not love Christmas and always see it as “the most wonderful time of the year.” Or, maybe this year in particular is hard for your family. This is Sheila’s story of such a Christmas, even though it is her “Best Christmas Ever.”

Want to catch up on our “Best Christmas Ever” series? Day 1, Day 2, Day 3,Day 4, Day 5, Day 6


A little background info on our Diva Christmas Series: Every year I’ve been editor, I like to celebrate the Christmas season with a special series and theme. This is year 5!! This year’s theme is “The Best Christmas Ever” and I think you’ll enjoy the wide variety of posts everyone submitted! It was a pleasure reading them as they were submitted, and taking in everyone’s Best Christmases Ever. Submissions are closed, but if you’d like to read more about the series, here is my post announcing the series!


For Such is the Kingdom of Heaven

2009 was a difficult year for our family. Mother died in March from Alzheimer’s complications, and my dad died on December 6, 2009. And besides those losses, my brother’s cancer, after a thirty- year remission returned. We were reeling from the challenges and losses.

The joy of the Christmas season, without our usual family get-togethers was permanently changed; I couldn’t get myself together. It was unknown territory that I didn’t want to walk.

To add to my thoughts were my cousin’s words to me about my now being the matriarch, the thoughts of being head of our family gave me pause.

At age 61, I wasn’t ready for that mantle of responsibility. Yes, I was the oldest daughter and oldest grandchild. Lady Violet Crawley, the Dowager Duchess of Grantham, is a clear matriarch, but my claim was more of a family storyteller.

So began new talks about Christmas with the final decision being we would travel to Charleston to be with my brother and his family. I made too many lists and finally just packed, not really paying attention.

It didn’t feel like Christmas, and I didn’t feel like Christmas.

My husband John was coughing to beat the band, but had no fever. I drove, and he slept in between coughing fits. Our son drove his motorcycle. By the time we arrived, John was running a fever. After a detour to a pharmacy, I settled him in bed. Yes, I was a bit addled by this point in wondering what was next. I was about to find out.

It was time to meet my family for the children’s Christmas Eve service at Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church. Scott (our son) drove. Because we had left about five minutes too late, he picked up a little speed. The next thing we knew there was a siren and red lights behind us.

There was little conversation after we pulled over. I hesitated on telling him we were headed to church, because the policeman didn’t sound interested. Yes, there was a $75 fine for an early Christmas present to Isle of Palms, and yes, I paid it later.

Truly I was numb.

The smell of fresh greenery and the lights of many candles greeted us. Children in Biblical costumes, and adults herding them milled around the porch. As the piano and organ played, Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, we joined our family. Singing with the rest of the congregation, we watched the children march down the aisle.

Some had typical props, like a stuffed lamb, a staff, a crooked crown or two. Some were barefoot; a few stumbled over their long tunics or pulled on the rope around their waists. But most were smiling, and I started to smile, too.

As we sat down, the Angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus. His bellowing “Behold” brought laughter to the audience. One of the wise men poked another with his elbow; the response of “Don’t do that!” was appropriate. There were more giggles, and I giggled, too. Then one of the angels got tired and plopped down. It was like a steam roller, as all the little angels plopped down. One scooted down a couple of steps to the bottom. It took a volunteer to help her back in place.

There were fingers in noses, hands over faces, snickering, scratching, and pointing. Mary kept covering and uncovering Baby Jesus. Joseph was bored and looked for ways of escape. A halo fell off, and everyone tried to help pick it up. Chaos ruled that part of the stage for a few minutes. Some rocked back-and-forth; others checked out the balcony. And as the children found

their parents and grandparents, there was a slew of pointing and waving.

I laughed and enjoyed every minute of the Nativity. The innocence of children being children was charming. It completely changed my focus. No longer was I swimming in the doldrums, I was smiling with my face and my heart. Despite my grief and loss, a group of children reminded of my very real joy.

The last song we sang, as the children processioned out, was Joy to the World. And it was a joyful sound celebrating Jesus’ birthday, and my voice blended with the others as my “heart prepared Him room.”

Merry Christmas!


South Carolinian Sheila Ingle is the author of five books about unknown heroines who lived in SC. She blends history and fiction to create memorable women. You can read more about her at sheilaingle.com, @sheilaingle, Facebook Sheila Ingle Author.

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The Most Magical Christmas I Never Wanted: A Christmas Devotional

christmas devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest Christmas devotional by Abigail Heath. I said in an email to Abigail, “Everyone has such different favorite Christmases but they all make so much sense as to why they’re the writer’s best ever.” I thought it was worth remarking here, too. Here’s Day 6 of Diva Christmas, “The Best Christmas Ever!”

Want to catch up on the series? Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5


A little background info on our Diva Christmas Series: Every year I’ve been editor, I like to celebrate the Christmas season with a special series and theme. This is year 5!! This year’s theme is “The Best Christmas Ever” and I think you’ll enjoy the wide variety of posts everyone submitted! It was a pleasure reading them as they were submitted, and taking in everyone’s Best Christmases Ever. Submissions are closed, but if you’d like to read more about the series, here is my post announcing the series!


The Most Magical Christmas I Never Wanted

“Gather ‘round, everyone! I have an announcement I want to make!” My dear friend wrangled a ragtag group of my friends and family into her living room. All of us sipped steaming mugs of cider and waited expectantly for her proclamation. I looked over at my dad, the reason we were all gathered on this cold December day. He looked thinner than he had even just a couple months ago, battle-weary from fighting the invisible scourge that had wrapped itself around his organs. Even so, his eyes radiated the same joy that had captured my heart since I was a little girl.

a christmas devotional

“Lindy, we would like to bless your family with the gift of togetherness this Christmas.” My friend, with tears in her eyes, went on to explain that this mishmash of people gathered before me had pooled money to fund a Christmas retreat for my family. I smiled as I watched my dad take in the generosity that was being poured out on him. I looked across the room at my younger brother and sister, still just teenagers, and my eyes misted over. Cancer had weighed on us all, and it felt like this gift would pull us to the surface for a breath of air.

We didn’t know it then, although maybe we suspected it deep in our hearts, but that was the last Christmas we would have together. In that little cottage retreat where my family laughed, played board games, and shared dreams and memories with each other, I experienced the fleeting gift of togetherness. I remember snuggling into my dad and wishing that this magic we were experiencing, the simple brilliance of sitting in a room together, would last forever.

When I reflect back on that most magical Christmas I never wanted, I think of Mary cradling a newborn Jesus. I can almost picture her smoothing the brow of the little bundle in her arms, kissing his cheeks as she took in the wonder of the new life that had unexpectedly burst forth from her own body. Did she have any idea of the journey that would unfold? This babe, God putting on skin and breaking into a shattered world, would only snuggle into the cradle of her arms for the briefest of moments. Before too long, he would leave her arms and open his own to a broken and dying world. She couldn’t have known, but for a breath of time she cradled him close.

Togetherness.

It’s really what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? Incarnation. The God of the Universe putting on skin and becoming human so he could be with us. I soaked in the magic of togetherness with my dad for the last time that Christmas. There was nothing particularly spectacular about those days. No trip across the ocean to a foreign land. No Disney World excursion. It didn’t matter, though. We were together, and I know now that togetherness is the most magical gift of all.


Abigail is sometimes a nurse, often an explorer of faith and mission, and always a student. You can find her sharing reflections on her quest to mine beauty from brokenness at www.whenrainydayscome.blogspot.com and on Instagram @abigailsu.

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