Tag: Guest Blogger

The Season of New Beginnings: A Christmas Devotional

The Season of New Beginnings: A Christmas Devotional

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.

The Christmas My PawPaw Knew Christ: A Christmas Devotional

The Christmas My PawPaw Knew Christ: A Christmas Devotional

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.

For Such is the Kingdom of Heaven: A Christmas Devotional

For Such is the Kingdom of Heaven: A 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.

The Most Magical Christmas I Never Wanted: A Christmas Devotional

The Most Magical Christmas I Never Wanted: A Christmas Devotional

t’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.

Hope in Giving: A Christmas Devotional

Hope in Giving: A Christmas Devotional

At first he wasn’t thrilled about shopping for other teens with their list in hand for things that he also wanted. But as we strode in the aisles at the first store, his posture began to change and he became more interactive.

The Last Christmas with my Dad: A Christmas Devotional

The Last Christmas with my Dad: A Christmas Devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by veteran Diva Heather Ream (want to read her last post? Read it here). Welcome to the 4th post of our 2018 Diva Christmas Series, “The Best Christmas Ever.” There was such a good mixture of stories submitted this year, and I tried to balance lighter and heavier posts throughout this series — this one is definitely heavier. Please be encouraged today by Heather’s Best Christmas Ever.


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!

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




My 6th grade year of middle school had been a remarkable one. I was 11 and felt as though I was experiencing the world for the first time. Thanks to some special teachers who were gracious with their time and attention, I learned that there were problems to be solved outside my tiny, blue-collar corner of Tennessee, and that one day, I might grow up and help to fix things.

As I gained confidence in my capabilities, my introverted nature diminished. I had an opinion now, a voice – and I used it as often and as loudly as any pre-teen is wont to do. I was especially ready for our extended family’s Christmas celebration.

Two gatherings were held: a party on Christmas Eve, followed by an early supper on Christmas Day. My grandmother’s house would be filled to capacity by dozens of family members and a table groaning with delicious Southern cuisine. Late on Christmas Eve, we would open presents, and soon Mammaw’s blue carpet would be covered with a rainbow of ripped wrapping paper. Sometimes an aunt or uncle, forgetting to buy ahead but feeling generous, would press a folded bill into my hand, filling me with delight.

My uncles and cousins would set up instruments and speakers and play old Ventures and Elvis tunes. Simultaneously, conversations would overflow from every room in the house, increasingly loud laughter punctuating most sentences. Every member of my clever, extroverted family was their most sunny and attractive at Christmas time, and I drawn to the sheer brightness of them.

I couldn’t wait to go to Mammaw’s house and show off the new, “sophisticated,” 6th-grade Heather. I was shocked when Daddy said, “Why don’t we stay here and celebrate, just the 4 of us?”

Immediately, I began to cry. We had never not gone to Mammaw’s house for Christmas. The mere thought of it upset me greatly, especially since I was so eager to show off. My mama and daddy tried to reason with me, but I could not be consoled.

After almost an hour of my tears, Daddy bent down in front of the couch and took my hands in his. His gentle brown eyes were sad and resigned. He looked as though he understood that he would experience many, many more adolescent outbursts in the years to come, and that each one would try his patience.

“We’ll go to Mammaw’s house, Heather Pooh,” he said.

I had a wonderful time at Mammaw’s house that year. It seems like we had more family at that celebration than any other I can recall. I remember vividly that Daddy ate a sandwich made with pumpernickel bread. He was the only one of us who liked it.

We were stunned when he passed away 6 days later.

He died suddenly at home in the early morning hours of December 30, 1989, a mere 144 hours after sacrificing his own happiness for the sake of his daughter’s.

Our Lord is so good and so faithful – although I suffered a terrible amount of guilt over that fact for years, He began to heal me as I matured in my own Christian walk. I came to understand that what my daddy did was leave me with a singularly important memory – an incredible, indelible example of sacrificial love.

Despite the loss, despite the pain, this remains my favorite Christmas.

Daddy modeled what I, as a believer, am called to do. His choice that night caused an influential and long-lasting chain reaction in my life. I believe what our Bible teaches about Heaven – that because I believe that Jesus hung on the cross in my place, I will one day see my daddy again, and I will one day meet our Lord. My daddy believed the same. He no longer has to believe because now he knows!

Perhaps Daddy will meet me one day as the gates to my eternal home swing open, and I can thank him for the best Christmas present he ever gave me. Perhaps I will slip my hand into his, as I did in 1989, and together, we will go thank our Lord for the best Christmas present He gave us, as well.


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.

The Ultimate Gift: A Christmas Devotional

The Ultimate Gift: A Christmas Devotional

Much like the joy of seeing our own children squeal with delight over getting that one present they asked for on Christmas morning, can you imagine the joy it brings to the Lord when His beloved children accept His Son, Jesus, as their Lord and Savior?

The Red Sled: A Christmas Devotional

The Red Sled: A Christmas Devotional

She didn’t fuss about lack of money, or that I should be glad to have what other children would love to have. Instead she told me about being made new.

Christmas Joy and Waiting: A Christmas Devotional

Christmas Joy and Waiting: A Christmas Devotional

Christmas Joy and Waiting

Editor’s Note: This is a guest Christmas devotional by Monica Braun (a veteran Diva!). I’m pleased as punch to open the 5th annual Diva Christmas Series with Monica’s post. Since we are expecting a little one in January, I totally cried after reading! 

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!

Without further ado…

Christmas brings so much joy…and waiting.


As children, we wait on Christmas Eve for Santa Claus to bring us gifts which we open on Christmas morning. As adults, we wait for Black Friday to arrive in order to get the best deals for Christmas shopping. We wait for our packages to arrive on our doorstep after we order gifts on Cyber Monday.  
Most importantly, Advent is a time of waiting for the most joyous gift of all, the birth of Jesus Christ. Mary and Joseph waited for the child Jesus to be born that beautiful and fateful night. I wonder what Mary was thinking as she waited to give birth to the Son of God. I sometimes contemplate this mystery. 
I, too, waited for my first child, Daniel, to be born in December. In fact, I waited my whole life for him. I would often lay in bed and wonder if I was ever going to meet the right man to marry so I could have children. I was aware of this space that was missing from my life. I longed for it with all my heart. 
I often wondered what God’s will was for my life. For many years, it was a mystery to me. 
And then, one Christmas season, I met my husband. We fell in love in downtown Chicago under the Christmas lights and falling snow. It was picturesque and perfect.
We got married, and then I waited to get pregnant.
And then I waited some more. We waited 9 months for the birth, to be exact. 
Every day I waited with anticipation to meet my baby. I prepared by creating a baby registry, celebrating with a baby shower, and decorating the nursery soft hues of yellow and white. And then we waited some more. 
And then finally, one frigid and beautiful night in December, he made his debut. My water broke at midnight on my due date and we drove to the hospital through gusts of wind and on icy roads. My excitement grew along with the pains of my contractions. 21 hours later I received the greatest gift I could have ever received. 
When the nurse lied him on my chest, I immediately felt a shower of love wash over me. I peered down at his tiny frame as he struggled to open his eyes.


The snow fell outside in the darkness and I bundled him close to me. We kept each other warm.  It was love in its purest and most joyous form. 
Jesus called Him by name: Isaiah 43:1.

And I knew that I was predestined to be his mama…“You knit me together in my mother’s womb” 

Psalm 139:13.

That space that once left me empty had now been filled.
Jesus taught us how to love when he was born to a virgin in a manger to save us from sin.  And He continued to teach me how to love with an effervescent, unconditional love when I gave birth to my son and I became a mother for the first time.  This love is a great mystery to me.  I navigate the lessons of it with the most overwhelming, all-consuming love I have ever felt. 
Now, as another Christmas season approaches, I will not be asking for any Christmas gifts because I have my little boy to celebrate with.
This Christmas, he will sit on my lap as we open Christmas gifts under the tree, and my heart will swell with love and gratitude to God, who is love itself.  
And then he will help his baby sister open her gifts.
With a little patience and faith, Christmas brings miracles. 
And true love.


Monica Braun has a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University and a master’s in education from Aquinas College. She teaches High School English in Racine, Wisconsin, and is an aspiring writer. She has one son and is expecting another! She is a follower of Jesus Christ. 

Monica’s blog:https://monicabraunblog.wordpress.com/

Facebook: @embracingjesus
Twitter: @monicambraun 

A Song in My Heart

A Song in My Heart

My friend knows from experience she is not alone in this struggle; Jesus is there, guiding, listening, healing.